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The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)

Filed under: — group @ 19 January 2010 - (Italian)

Like all human endeavours, the IPCC is not perfect. Despite the enormous efforts devoted to producing its reports with the multiple levels of peer review, some errors will sneak through. Most of these will be minor and inconsequential, but sometimes they might be more substantive. As many people are aware (and as John Nieslen-Gammon outlined in a post last month and Rick Piltz goes over today), there is a statement in the second volume of the IPCC (WG2), concerning the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are receding that is not correct and not properly referenced.

The statement, in a chapter on climate impacts in Asia, was that the likelihood of the Himalayan glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035” was “very high” if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate (WG 2, Ch. 10, p493), and was referenced to a World Wildlife Fund 2005 report. Examining the drafts and comments (available here), indicates that the statement was barely commented in the reviews, and that the WWF (2005) reference seems to have been a last minute addition (it does not appear in the First- or Second- Order Drafts). This claim did not make it into the summary for policy makers, nor the overall synthesis report, and so cannot be described as a ‘central claim’ of the IPCC. However, the statement has had some press attention since the report particularly in the Indian press, at least according to Google News, even though it was not familiar to us before last month.

It is therefore obvious that this error should be corrected (via some kind of corrigendum to the WG2 report perhaps), but it is important to realise that this doesn’t mean that Himalayan glaciers are doing just fine. They aren’t, and there may be serious consequences for water resources as the retreat continues. See also this review paper (Ren et al, 2006) on a subset of these glaciers.

East Rongbuk glacier 1921 and 2008East Rongbuk glacier just below Mt. Everest has lost 3-400 ft of ice in this area since 1921.

More generally, peer-review works to make the IPCC reports credible because many different eyes with different perspectives and knowledge look over the same text. This tends to make the resulting product reflect more than just the opinion of a single author. In this case, it appears that not enough people with relevant experience saw this text, or if they saw it, did not comment publicly. This might be related to the fact that this text was in the Working Group 2 report on impacts, which does not get the same amount of attention from the physical science community than does the higher profile WG 1 report (which is what people associated with RC generally look at). In WG1, the statements about continued glacier retreat are much more general and the rules on citation of non-peer reviewed literature was much more closely adhered to. However, in general, the science of climate impacts is less clear than the physical basis for climate change, and the literature is thinner, so there is necessarily more ambiguity in WG 2 statements.

In future reports (and the organisation for AR5 in 2013 is now underway), extra efforts will be needed to make sure that the links between WG1 and the other two reports are stronger, and that the physical science community should be encouraged to be more active in the other groups.

In summary, the measure of an organisation is not determined by the mere existence of errors, but in how it deals with them when they crop up. The current discussion about Himalayan glaciers is therefore a good opportunity for the IPCC to further improve their procedures and think more about what the IPCC should be doing in the times between the main reports.

Update: This backgrounder presented by Kargel et al AGU this December is the best summary of the current state of the Himalayas and the various sources of misinformation that are floating around. It covers this issue, the Raina report and the recent Lau et al paper.

1,804 Responses to “The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)”

  1. 1501

    Giles @ 1462:

    What matters is not the nationality of electrons. What matters is the maximum amount of intermittent energy you can allow in an interconnected grid. I repeat : not more than 20 %, no where. And electricity gives at most 40 % of the energy, limiting the total amount to 8 %. And worse : those who reach these 8 % are among the worst CO2 emitters in the worlds. Again, facts.

    Do you have some support for those “facts”?

    For starters, your “facts” are many years out of date, and were wrong even when they were current. The best study I read on intermittent power sources claimed (without proof) that voltage and frequency regulation costs were going to skyrocket at 10% renewable energy penetration. As more regions came closer to 10% (Texas often has more than 10% coming from wind alone), it became obvious they were wrong. Likewise, as Demand Response solutions were deployed, it became obvious that 10% was just plain wrong and the correct “limit” for intermittent sources much higher.

    With some of the work I did over the past few years, as well as what I read while doing patent searches, I suspect the “limit” is high enough that it isn’t really a limit — at some point diverse renewable systems become a fairly reliable minimum amount of base generation. Adding more renewable sources =increases= the amount of “base generation” that can be relied on (it’s just statistics), while further increasing penetration.

    What I was working on while at my former employer was getting loads to follow generation, rather than the current scheme which is generation following loads. Imagine appliances that can be set to run “Whenever there is cheap electricity”. Electric cars can be plugged in and charged, with the charger taking more or less power — actually contributing to the stability of the electric grid — based on the availability of surplus or lower cost electricity.

  2. 1502
    Matthew L. says:

    #1462, #1476
    It seems to me that the key to making renewable energy work at higher proportions of base load is effective energy storage. Pumped hydro is environmentally damaging in many places so how is the technology progressing with electrolysis? I have read headlines of major progress on reducing the cost.

    It seems to me that if we could get renewable energy to create hydrogen efficiently we could have a portabable fuel for transportation and a high energy density fuel that could be stored and used in periods of very high demand but low renewable output. It could even be used as a medium for exporting energy from renewable rich places in the tropics to renewable poor (but financially rich) places in northern lattitudes.

    By its nature cold winter weather is a bad time for renewables. During our recent cold snap here there was little wind and being a high northern lattitude (London is at the same lattitude as Nova Scotia) there was little usable sun. However, energy demand was huge as everybody ran their heating 24/7. At the moment our only non-carbon option for reliably high base generation is nuclear, which does not fill me with joy.

  3. 1503
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles: “What matters is not the nationality of electrons. ”

    You’re the only one seems to think that the nationality matters.

    Nobody else does.

    “I repeat : not more than 20 %, no where.”

    Except that Denmark has over 23%.

    Nowhere???

    “And electricity gives at most 40 % of the energy”

    Really? So my transformer is not 98+% efficient, it’s actually a little fire heater?

    “those who reach these 8 % are among the worst CO2 emitters in the worlds”

    Really? Saudi Arabia?

    Insanity, thy name is Gilles. Who loves God’s children as long as it means he can make money off it.

  4. 1504
    Gilles says:

    “I repeat : not more than 20 %, no where. And electricity gives at most 40 % of the energy, limiting the total amount to 8 %. And worse : those who reach these 8 % are among the worst CO2 emitters in the worlds. Again, facts.

    Do you have some support for those “facts”?”

    Facts are facts. I said it is not reached anywhere. If I’m wrong, the only way of showing it is to indicate where a large interconnected power grid has more than 20 % of intermittent (wind or solar ) energy. I’m not talking about what you imagine, or “can be”, I’m talking about facts.

    BTW, while you’re playing with your electric devices, PO become more and more likely, and threats of a new recession, if not collapse, as well.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/feb/07/branson-warns-peak-oil-close

  5. 1505
    Completely Fed Up says:

    If you want to decry the mishaps, maybe try something a little less partisan. Something like:

    “There have been occasions on all sides where rigour and politeness has been lacking and I hope that all sides will work to maintain the highest standards of action possible”

    Note: ALL sides.

    Not just pro/anti.

    Because the Anti side includes

    NoAGW
    NotAGW
    SolarGW
    GCMGW
    ItsNowCoolingGW
    ItsInevitableGW
    AllAGlobalConspiracyGW

    etc.

  6. 1506
    Naindj says:

    FurryCatHerder, 1474,

    Any back-up for what you are saying?
    I am exactly looking at these kinds of figures (thanks Hank Robert, I’m still reading all this stuff you advised me some time ago), and as far as I could understand so far, you are far from the reality…
    Just talking about maintenance…it is absolutely not the same costs! A coal plant is a concentrated area where the costs are reduced by scaling. You cannot do that with solar panel or wind turbine (for a comparable power) because the surface involved is largely bigger. And I am not even talking about the costs associated with intermittent source of energy. This is not negligible at all.
    And when you say “if a solar panels produces, say, four times the energy it requires to be manufactured (it’s closer to 15 or 20 times)”, can you provide a time for that?
    How long does it take for a solar panel to give back the energy spent to build and install it?
    I would be very interested in these figures…because for my understanding, we are not even sure with the actual technologies that it is giving back any energy. Please enlighten me.

  7. 1507
    Ron Taylor says:

    David, think a bit more about Gavin’s response concerning the nature of peer review.

    You say you are a aceptic. Good! You do not believe things you read without some confirmation that it can be trusted.

    Now think about the way science works. It’s practioners are out there on the border between the known and the unknown, trying to extend the known. They get a new idea about theory or the analysis of data which may prove to be entirely correct, partially correct, or entirely wrong.

    They submit the idea for publication, in complete detail. Others in their field review the paper to see if it is worthy of publication. That is the first stage of peer review. If it is approved for publication, it then goes out to the wider community of peers and they literally take it apart to see if they can confirm it or find flaws. Exposure of fatal flaws generally means that is the end of the line. Minor flaws can be corrected. If the paper is then picked up and used by others in their work, it has passed the test of peer review.

    Now, back to who you believe. Should it be the work of someone whose ideas have gone through this process, and which are part of the body of knowledge of the scientific field? Or would you instead follow contradictory ideas that are self published on a blog, with the review consisting only of comments on the blog by anonomous parties, and which are entirely outside the accepted body of scientific knowledge?

    There is a whole group of people in the latter category who do not submit papers for publication because they know full well that their ideas will not hold up under careful scrutiny by scientists. Their purpose is not to advance the science, but simply to get their ideas before the public.

    I know who I will follow.

  8. 1508
    Tim Jones says:

    Climate change impact of soil underestimated: study
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iTo8GGdx9mr-H-afAvvToo7ci1Ig
    8Feb10

    “HELSINKI — Finnish researchers called for a revision of climate change estimates Monday after their findings showed emissions from soil would contribute more to climate warming than previously thought.

    “A Finnish research group has proved that the present standard measurements underestimate the effect of climate warming on emissions from the soil,” the Finnish Environment Institute said in a statement.

    “The error is serious enough to require revisions in climate change estimates,” it said, adding that all climate models used soil emission estimates based on measurements received using an erroneous method.”
    […]
    “This showed “carbon dioxide emissions from the soil will be up to 50 percent higher than those suggested by the present mainstream method,” if the mean global temperature rose by the previously forecasted five degrees Celsius before the end of the century, and if the carbon flow to soil did not increase.

    “The institute said a 100 to 200 percent increase of forest biomass was needed to offset the increasing carbon emissions from soil, whereas previous estimates called for a 70 to 80 percent increase.”

  9. 1509
    Tim Jones says:

    Earlier springs could destroy delicate balance of UK wildlife, study shows
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/09/wildlife-climate-change
    David Adam, environment correspondent
    The Guardian, Tuesday 9 February 2010
    “Global warming could be changing seasonal timing with profound consequences, according to analysis of 726 species of plants and animals
    “As snow flurries continued to cause disruption across the country today, spring may feel further away than ever. But recent winters have been ending earlier than ever before, according to a new assessment of Britain’s wildlife that reveals global warming could be disrupting the delicate balance of nature. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/10/early-spring
    “The analysis confirms that spring and summer are occurring earlier, but also shows that this trend appears to be accelerating. The shift could pose problems for animals, birds and fish that rely on springtime flowering of plants to supply food for their young.
    […]
    “Stephen Thackeray, a biologist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Lancaster, who co-led the research said: “This is about the desynchronisation of events during the year. Animals and birds time their reproduction to coincide with periods when there will be an abundance of food. If changes mean there is not enough food available then this could have negative consequences for their offspring.”

    Trophic level asynchrony in rates of phenological change for marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments
    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123233053/abstract
    […]

    Campaign climate
    http://www.arktimes.com/Articles/ArticleViewer.aspx?ArticleID=9494959b-66f0-46a2-bb53-5304c3cd2e0a
    Paul Barton
    Updated: 2/9/2010
    “WASHINGTON — A paper published by a think tank last month warned that Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s ascendancy to the Agriculture Committee chairmanship was a bad omen for passage of climate-change legislation in 2010 due to her close ties to agricultural producers and processors seen as major contributors of greenhouse gases.

    “The paper, written by former Washington Post reporter Dan Morgan, was released by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, about a week before Lincoln became one of only three Democrats to co-sponsor a bill — largely drafted by lobbyists for carbon-emitting industries — that would gut the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to proceed on its own with carbon restrictions. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was lead sponsor.”
    […]

    Palin likens global warming studies to ‘snake oil’
    http://www.sacbee.com/state/story/2522836.html
    By JUDY LIN
    Associated Press Writer
    Monday, Feb. 8, 2010
    “REDDING, Calif. — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called studies supporting global climate change a “bunch of snake oil science” Monday during a rare appearance in California, a state that has been at the forefront of environmental regulations.
    Palin spoke before a logging conference in Redding, a town of 90,000 about 160 miles north of the state capital. The media were barred from the event, but The Associated Press bought a $74 ticket to attend.”
    […]

    Skeptics Find Fault With U.N Climate Panel
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/science/earth/09climate.html?ref=earth.
    By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
    Published: February 8, 2010
    “Just over two years ago, Rajendra K. Pachauri seemed destined for a scientist’s version of sainthood: A vegetarian economist-engineer who leads the United Nations’ climate change panel, he accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the panel, sharing the honor with former Vice President Al Gore.
    “But Dr. Pachauri and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are now under intense scrutiny, facing accusations of scientific sloppiness and potential financial conflicts of interest from climate skeptics, right-leaning politicians and even some mainstream scientists. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, called for Dr. Pachauri’s resignation last week.”
    […]
    “With a global climate treaty under negotiation and legislation pending in the United States, the climate panel has found itself in the political cross hairs, its judgments provoking passions normally reserved for issues like abortion and guns. The panel is charged by the United Nations with reviewing research to create periodic reports on climate risks, documents that are often used by governments to guide decisions, and its every conclusion is being dissected under a microscope.
    “Several of the recent accusations have proved to be half-truths: While Dr. Pachauri does act as a paid consultant and adviser to many companies, he makes no money from these activities, he said. The payments go to the Energy and Resources Institute, the prestigious nonprofit research center based in Delhi that he founded in 1982 and still leads, where the money finances charitable projects like Lighting a Billion Lives, which provides solar lanterns in rural India.”
    […]

    No need to read the rest of this.

  10. 1510
    Tim Jones says:

    Climate scientists hit out at ‘sloppy’ melting glaciers error
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/08/climate-scientists-melting-glaciers
    David Adam, environment correspondent
    guardian.co.uk,
    Monday 8 February 2010 15.38 GMT

    “Experts who worked on the IPCC report say the error by social and biological scientists has unfairly maligned their work

    “Climate scientists who worked on the UN panel on global warming have hit out at “sloppy” colleagues from other disciplines who introduced a mistake about melting glaciers into the landmark 2007 report.

    “The experts, who worked on the section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that considered the physical science of global warming, say the error by “social and biological scientists” has unfairly maligned their work. Some said that Rajendra Pachauri, the panel’s chair, should resign, though others supported him.

    The IPCC report combined the output from three independent working groups, which separately considered the science, impacts and human response to climate change, and published their findings several months apart.

    The report from working group two, on impacts, included a false claim that Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035, which was sourced to a report from campaign group WWF. The IPCC was forced to issue a statement of regret, though Pachauri and senior figures on the panel have refused to apologise for the mistake.

    Speaking on condition of anonymity, several lead authors of the working group one (WG1) report, which produced the high-profile scientific conclusions that global warming was unequivocal and very likely down to human activity, told the Guardian they were dismayed by the actions of their colleagues.

    “Naturally the public and policy makers link all three reports together,” one said. “And the blunder over the glaciers detracts from the very carefully peer-reviewed science used exclusively in the WG1 report.”
    […]
    “This is a transient and manufactured crisis and will likely go away with time,” one IPCC author said. “What the science community needs is a few huge donors to throw millions of dollars behind PR campaigns to counter the propaganda out there. We are being attacked through baseless smear campaigns and we are not PR experts.”

    “They added: “The sad reality is this whole manufactured climate controversy is like arguing over the dinner menu on the Titanic as it sinks. The fact is, the climate is warming. Do we want to deal with this problem or not? Do we owe anything to future generations who are not here today to be part of the decision-making process. Science and the IPCC cannot answer these questions.”

  11. 1511
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David Walker@1471,
    If a couple of emails and a few typos and questionable references are sufficient to change your position on anthropogenic climate change, then your position was never based on the science or the evidence.

    First, note that none of the questionable references affect the science that says that climate change is occurring or that we are causing it. They affect only the consequences we might anticipate. Since there are very few peer-reviewed studies of climate change consequences at the regional level, quoting non-peer-reviewed studies is not an unreasonable thing to do.

    Second, once we accept the basic science (and you’ve raised no reasons to doubt that), then we are on to questions of what the adverse consequences might be and how we might mitigate them The first step in that process is to identify all such possible consequences and place an upper bound on the costs those consequences entail. Not all the adverse consequences we identify need be 100% certain, and the bounds we place need not be accurate, only finite. We can sharpen our pencils and refine them as we continue the process.

    David, you have an opportunity. You had a belief that you could not justify based on your state of knowledge. Now you should try to learn as much of the science as possible, so that you will be able to truly understand the situation we face. To replace unreasoned faith with unreasoned rejection is to squander that opportunity.

  12. 1512
    Gilles says:

    “Just to put these $6000 of wealth per ton of coal into a better context …

    Assuming we’re talking about wealth created from electricity generated from coal, at 40% efficiency, a coal plant can produce about 2500 kWh/tonne”

    I’m not talking only about electricity, which can be produced with almost anything. I’m talking about the whole coherent industrial civilization, first based on steel, metals, cement, transportation – all things that would be very expensive or impossible to produce at this scale with electricity , but that are NEEDED by all electrical power devices. The 6000 $/t C is an average over all kinds of fossils, including petroleum of course. Oil will decrease first, and the consequences on economy will be obvious – and hurting.

  13. 1513
    Gilles says:

    “Gilles: “What matters is not the nationality of electrons. ”

    You’re the only one seems to think that the nationality matters.

    Nobody else does.

    “I repeat : not more than 20 %, no where.”

    Except that Denmark has over 23%.

    Obviously CFY you didn’t understand me when I said that nationality of electrons doesn’t matter. Denmark is a country, it is NOT an isolated grid. Take the average over the grid it is interconnected to.

    “And electricity gives at most 40 % of the energy”

    Really? So my transformer is not 98+% efficient, it’s actually a little fire heater?

    Are you that stupid? I talk about the proportion of energy consumption of a normal country (not Monaco, I mean), provided by electricity.


    “those who reach these 8 % are among the worst CO2 emitters in the worlds”

    Really? Saudi Arabia?

    Among doesn’t mean only ones. I know that my English is not perfect, but I think this is correct at least. And for the insults, as dendrite said
    “Sadly, charm has been in short supply in some of the above posts, and it can’t be good to even take the risk of turning neutrals into enemies.”

  14. 1514
    Walter Manny says:

    Infallibility update:

    “There is no scientific merit to be found in the Executive Summary. The presentation sounds like something put together by Greenpeace activists and their legal department. The points being made are made arbitrarily with legal sounding caveats without having established any foundation or basis in fact. The Executive Summary seems to be a political statement that is only designed to annoy greenhouse skeptics. Wasn’t the IPCC Assessment Report intended to be a scientific document that would merit solid backing from the climate science community – instead of forcing many climate scientists into having to agree with greenhouse skeptic criticisms that this is indeed a report with a clear and obvious political agenda. Attribution can not happen until understanding has been clearly demonstrated. Once the facts of climate change have been established and understood, attribution will become self-evident to all. The Executive Summary as it stands is beyond redemption and should simply be deleted.”

    This [rejected] protest from Andrew Lacis, making the rounds of late in the blogosphere. It’s getting tough of late for the AR4, reducing its defenders to seemingly endless explanations of “well, yeah, that part’s no good either, but the bottom line is still rock-solid.” My apologies if this quotation has already made the rounds here — can’t read everything all the time.

  15. 1515
    David B. Benson says:

    Walter Manny (1512) — That was a response to a draft and Andrew Lacis later wrote the the final was (just barely) acceptable to him.

  16. 1516
    Tim Jones says:

    Re; 1492 Barton Paul Levenson says: 8 February 2010
    “Gilles: “…What matters is the maximum amount of intermittent energy you can allow in an interconnected grid. I repeat : not more than 20 %, no where.”

    Gilles has mentioned 20% as a limit for wind power.

    He mentions the 20% number arises as a result of the intermittency
    of wind power constraining the use by an integrated power network.

    It was thought that only coal, gas and nuclear could insure base load dependability. Steady power can not be guaranteed with wind power supplying more than 20% of an energy mix composed of coal, gas and nuclear solar and geothermal.

    Thus began the search for ways to store power so that intermittent systems were viable on a larger scale. Storage of power using compressed air, water towers, reservoirs, batteries, hydrogen and what not were all ways to overcome intermittency so a steady supply of energy could be obtained. Another thing to be done was have enough wind turbines scattered around that some would be catching wing somewhere.

    We were at this place 5 years ago. We’re still at 20%?

  17. 1517

    Mathew @ 1501:

    By its nature cold winter weather is a bad time for renewables. During our recent cold snap here there was little wind and being a high northern lattitude (London is at the same lattitude as Nova Scotia) there was little usable sun. However, energy demand was huge as everybody ran their heating 24/7. At the moment our only non-carbon option for reliably high base generation is nuclear, which does not fill me with joy.

    Even when the sun isn’t shining some huge amount there is still a boat load of energy coming down from the sky. Solar is particularly bad because overcast skies just don’t make a lot of electricity, but solar thermal does amazingly well.

    And don’t discount wind in the winter. I was watching the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS WIN!!! on Sunday and a friend’s wind turbine was doing a bang-up job of keeping the game on the TV.

    TO address your specific comment — energy efficiency is much cheaper than energy production. The “green” future isn’t all solar panels and wind turbines. It also includes … insulation.

  18. 1518
    Septic Matthew says:

    1481, Georgi Marinov: Technology is a good thing, I don’t argue against it. What I argue against it short-sightedness. Technology is dumb – it solves technical problems but doesn’t provide you with solutions to complex systemic problems, unless you approach those in a systemic way, and we aren’t doing this. No amount of technology will save you, if you are only addressing the symptoms and not the underlying cause when the underlying cause is exponential growth, much less if growth is religiously worshiped.

    So what did you think of the “stabilization wedges” described in the Science article? Nothing religious there.

    You seem to have backed away from saying anything in particular.

    If current rates of investment continue, sometime in the interval 2015 – 2020 humans will be producing 30 times as much energy as we do now from non-hydro renewable sources, and every single such source will produce cheaper electricity than it does today. It will probably still be more costly than energy from coal, so converting to renewables is an investment, not a return (which is to say, a short-term net drain on the economy), but the long term advantage of renewable energy sources is that they are renewable, as written above by FurryCatHerder.

  19. 1519
    Doug Bostrom says:

    FurryCatHerder says: 9 February 2010 at 9:05 PM

    ” Solar is particularly bad because overcast skies just don’t make a lot of electricity, but solar thermal does amazingly well.”

    Have I mentioned recently yet again thereby obnoxiously repeating myself how drop-dead easy it is to heat domestic hot water w/solar? Works here in Seattle even to some extent in winter time, practically a worst case scenario. The payback is reasonable too, even in a place like Seattle where PV payback is basically impossible unless you’ve got advanced taxation methods and a long lifespan. Vastly more efficient than PV panels, vastly cheaper $/Watt; solar DHW is the low hanging fruit of the solar energy world. To a certain extent storage is taken care of automatically.

    Not to disparage PV. Needless to say, once you’ve gone through heating your hot water you’ll need to turn to something fancier to make actual electricity. Just to say, DHW is the first and easiest step to get “free” energy and it is feasible even in places where the current cost of PV is a serious problem.

  20. 1520
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Walter Manny says: 9 February 2010 at 7:36 PM

    No wonder it was rejected. You wanted proof of quality control? Voila.

  21. 1521
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Further to Walter’s earlier post, Andy Revkin is responsible for the circulation. He’s trying to dig his way out, here:

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/does-an-old-climate-critique-still-hold-up/

    Walter, surely you can do better than show up here with material stripped of all context? Your credibility just went in the toilet, for me anyway.

  22. 1522
    Gilles says:

    “We were at this place 5 years ago. We’re still at 20%?”
    To my knowledge, we’ve never been at 20 % intermittent power anywhere (taken into account the average over the connected network). And we’ve not reached it yet. It’s just a -rather conservative – estimate of the maximum ratio. Developing storage devices at this scale would be prohibitively expensive , the only cheap way of storing power is through artificial lakes and big dams, but the hydro power has already reached its limits in many countries.

  23. 1523
    mct says:

    I can’t help but wonder if – reading this thread as an interested, if not scientifically-trained, observer – the climate science community doesn’t get it or simply doesn’t want to get it… it’s got to be one or the other.

    Rightly or wrongly, the naysayers are starting to win the public debate, or if not “win” then they are certainly drawing much closer. It’s simply unarguable. The amount of press exposure the recent series of events has generated is proof-positive of that. If things continue as they have over the past couple of months then within a year or so the majority of public opinion will be with them, if I am any judge.

    There’s no point saying (@1482) “If Joe Public is going to be the judge…” – Joe Public is and will always be the final arbiter of what happens in a democracy. Sort of goes with the territory.

    In any contest where the public need to be convinced all would be well to take Keynes’ comment rather more seriously than the climate community seem to be doing right now… “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

    And the facts have changed… not the facts of scientific merit of the IPCC case, but the facts of the PR battle which simply must be fought if that IPCC case is going to be acted upon. If nothing else, Copenhagen saw to that.

    Doug Bostrom (@929) has it exactly right, however inadvertently, when he says “It’s all about PR, not science”. Curmudgeon Cynic (@1038) has the problem nailed when he says “If you maintain your current attitude – the accusation of ‘zealot’ will sit ever more comfortably and give the opposition all the ammunition it needs.”

    Responding with arrogant tosh like (Ray Bradbury @1042, inter alia, and without wishing to cherry pick) “..there is always the peer-reviewed research if they aren’t too lazy or stupid to learn to read it” is simply both pointless and counter-productive. If you’re going to rely on Joe Public to read and understand the science in all this you are stark staring nuts. Just never going to happen… a moment’s reflection should tell anyone that. Calling anyone “stupid” is a great way to engage them, not.

    It is no longer enough to circle the proverbial wagons (which I see too much of here… as if anyone is going to give any credence to the assertion that the whole Himalayas thing was “a typo”… please!) when the critics have a point. When the nitpicking is wrong, say so. When it’s right, say that too. As has been said ad nauseam here, it doesn’t effect the basic issue in any event.

    Some humble suggestions :-

    Pachauri has either made a fool of himself or been made a fool of unjustly. Absolutely doesn’t matter which… he must go. He needs to be replaced with someone who is first and foremost a skilled science communicator.

    The whole UEA saga has to be neutralised, for like it or lump it, it is now viewed as just that… a “saga”. Whether or not what data which has not been released is germane it needs to be released, along with the various bits of code relevant to reproducing the results, as immediately as is humanly possible. As well, someone – anyone – needs to take ownership of the PR side of things there… implying that a deluge of FOI requests in 2009 is responsible for an email comment made years before is dumb, just to take one example. A good PR operative would never have allowed a lot of what has come out to have occurred… the position is not yet toxic but it could become so rapidly if it continues to be as poorly managed as it has been to date.

    Wherever other data is being questioned/requested, the same must apply – release or be damned. The public simply won’t any longer wear any assertion based on unreleased data and/or methodology. That might be ridiculuous, given they won’t understand it in any case, but it is now increasingly the fact. If the naysayers say it hasn’t been made available and it has, then release it again! If the data doesn’t any longer exist in a form which can be released, then say so, rely on it no more and move on.

    No matter how hard it may be, ease up on the name calling and abuse. “Denialists” is about as unscientific a term as I can conceive, just to give one obvious example. Yelling at people has never ever changed their opinion and that fact isn’t about to change any time soon. You’re never going to change a bunch of people’s minds, but you need to maintain a solid majority and putting perjorative tags on anyone who’s simply doubtful or doesn’t yet understand or needs to be convinced is absolutely the wrong way to go. This site, along with some excellent discussion, has way too much vitriol.

  24. 1524
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Doug, 1518, not to mention that the most overcast day is still quite a lot brighter than nighttime.

    Sheesh. It’s all a repeat of “It’s not perfect, so it’s no use!”.

  25. 1525
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “The “green” future isn’t all solar panels and wind turbines. It also includes … insulation.”

    Alternatively known as “working smarter, not harder”.

  26. 1526
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles: “Obviously CFY you didn’t understand me when I said that nationality of electrons doesn’t matter. ”

    Obviously you don’t realise that 23 is higher than 20 and that it doesn’t matter where the electricity comes from, 23% of it is still generated from wind, which is more than 20%.

  27. 1527
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles: “Facts are facts. I said it is not reached anywhere. If I’m wrong, the only way of showing it is to indicate where a large interconnected power grid has more than 20 % of intermittent”

    So why does a fact that you’re wrong need to be reached anywhere?

    If we are wrong, all it takes is to show that nowhere can anyone get more than 20% from wind.

  28. 1528
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic Matthew: on the subject of costs of coal vs. renewables

    You know, if I go fishing near my home in MD–in fact anywhere along the East Coast–I can’t eat the fish I catch because of mercury from coal-burning power plants in the Midwest. Coal-fired plants also contribute to respiratory ailments all over the eastern US. And I know of a lot of formerly pretty, little river valleys and farms in Kentucky and West Virginia destroyed by coal mining. And then there are all the miners who die–either mining the coal or slowly from pulmonary disease. These costs are all externalized in coal production and consumption. Coal’s a dirty business. Always has been. John Prine knows this:

    Paradise
    John Prine

    When I was a child
    My family would travel
    Down to Western Kentucky
    Where my parents were born
    And theres a backwards old town
    Thats often remembered
    So many times,
    That my memories are worn

    (Chorus)
    And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenburg County
    Down by the Green River
    Where Paradise lays.
    Well I’m sorry my son
    But you’re too late in asking
    Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

    Well sometimes we’d travel
    Right down the Green River
    To the abandoned old prison
    Down by Aidrie hill
    Where the air smelled like snakes
    We’d shoot with our pistols
    But empty pop bottles
    Was all we would kill

    (chorus)

    And the coal company came
    With the worlds largest shovel
    And they tortured the timber
    And stripped all the land
    Well they dug for their coal
    ‘Til the land was forsaken
    And they wrote it all down
    As the progress of man

    (chorus)

    When I die let my ashes
    Float down the Green River
    Let my soul roll on up
    To the Rochester Dam
    I’ll be halfway to heaven
    With Paradise waiting
    Just five miles away
    From wherever I am

    And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenburg County
    Down by the Green River
    Where Paradise lays.
    Well I’m sorry my son
    But you’re too late in asking
    Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

  29. 1529
    Georgi Marinov says:

    So what did you think of the “stabilization wedges” described in the Science article? Nothing religious there.

    You seem to have backed away from saying anything in particular.

    If current rates of investment continue, sometime in the interval 2015 – 2020 humans will be producing 30 times as much energy as we do now from non-hydro renewable sources, and every single such source will produce cheaper electricity than it does today. It will probably still be more costly than energy from coal, so converting to renewables is an investment, not a return (which is to say, a short-term net drain on the economy), but the long term advantage of renewable energy sources is that they are renewable, as written above by FurryCatHerder.

    Science and Nature tend to be just as religious believers in growth as The Economist, don’t forget that. As do many scientists and engineers. It is an unfortunate fact that human beings are fundamentally irrational and even something as axiomatic as the obvious fact that you can’t grow forever in a finite system may not be appreciated by otherwise very smart people.

    The only reason why renewables have been able to grow at such a rate in the last few years is the very low starting point. But you can’t assume that such growth rate can continue – for at least two reasons:

    1) that a few tens of billions of investments materialized does not mean that a few hundred trillions will also appear, especially in the conditions of permanent economic crisis (caused by Peak Oil)

    2) and most important, the are hard resource limits on how much renewable capacity you can install. For example, wind turbines need neodymium, neodymium is a rare earth metal and there is a reason why those elements are called so, it all comes from China, there isn’t that much of it and the Chinese will just stop exporting it in a few years.

    As I said before, techno-cornucopianism is just as dangerous as denialism, because they are both completely detached from physical reality

    P.S. I realize that a lot of people responding to what I am saying are left with impression that I am somehow arguing that we should stick to fossil fuels because they are “better”. That’s very mistaken – what I am saying is that because fossil fuels are better in terms of EROEI, energy density, transportability, reliability, etc., it will not be possible to run the same kind of society we have now on renewables. And it will not be possible to continue exponential growth of the population times per capita consumption quantity. And it will not be possible not only because of energy and climate, but because of mineral resources, water, topsoil, biodiversity and all the other limits to growth.

    All of this means that it is very misguided to focus on just one issue, such as climate change, or energy – they are all manifestations of the same fundamental problem, and that problem is growth and the assumption that there are no limits to it. This is where change should start from, otherwise we aren’t really doing anything about the problems.

  30. 1530
    Ray Ladbury says:

    mct@1523,
    Sorry, but public polls don’t carry much weight when it comes to physical reality. None of the slander or character assassination campaigns or death threats by the denialists matter. The evidence is there. It is untouched by the current tantrums in the press. And it will still be there once the idiot reporters tire of piling on the scientists.

    The question is not whether the denialists will win. They cannot. The only question is whether people will start paying attention to the evidence in time to avoid both the worst effects of climate change and the most draconian of measures to combat them. It’s time for Joe Sixpack and Jane Winebox to wise up. Period.

  31. 1531
    Andrew Byron says:

    Doug Bostrom writes in # 1455

    “Seeing how little (nothing) the FOI requests had to do with improving research I’m naturally inclined to take the “side” of Jones and CRU, but even so the situation described in the Times article was a revelation to me. It’s one thing to hear of somebody dodging a single, sincerely intentioned FOI or FOIA request, quite another when it turns out that a relatively tiny agency has been beaten down by abusive, coordinated exploitation of a legal tool whose creators never envisioned it being used as a weapon.”

    If you trawl though the comments on that times link to the article about Phil Jones then you’ll see, on page three i think, that the FoI requests were coordinated from the climate audit website. Apologies if this has already been mentioned as i haven’t read every comment.

    http://climateaudit.org/2009/07/24/cru-refuses-data-once-again/

    Scroll down the comments, macintyre says this: “I suggest that interested readers can participate by choosing 5 countries and sending the following FOI request to david.palmer at uea.ac.uk:”

  32. 1532
    AxelD says:

    David Walker @1471: being a sceptic on the AGW question is honourable and decent, but has been incredibly difficult in the past because of the torrents of abuse from the more hysterical of AGW adherents, both here and in the media. Now, as you observe, a degree of balance is returning, with the polls showing more public scepticism, and dissenting voices being heard in the media.

    This is difficult for the adherents to accept, and Ray Ladbury’s contribution @1510 shows it. His reference to “a couple of emails and a few typos” is breathtakingly disingenuous. What is revealed by these emails and “typos” is a lack of the science’s confidence in the conclusions, and the need to disguise the lack of confidence with bluster, exaggeration and obfuscation.

    So, any lack of peer review on the sceptics’ side was greeted with derision, while claiming the moral high ground for the AGW case. Now, peer review is shown to be a sham (in some cases) on the AGW side and, even though peer review will still be worth something for parts of climate science, any moral high ground has been washed away.

    oBut the real damage is shown by a desperate need to shore up a scientific case which is now seen to be far less than “settled”, and must certainly be less than the “90% certainty” claimed by the IPCC. If they were that certain, there would have been no need to gag dissenting reviewers’ voices, no need to make extravagant and unsubstantiated claims, and no need to try to cover up embarrassing exposures.

    The degree of uncertainty is probably much higher than the IPCC is prepared to admit. AFter all, highly respected figures in the climate science world are highlighting where those uncertainties lie (like, for instance, Richard Lindzen, MIT, and John Christy, UAH) while even IPCC authors are shown to hold dissenting views, like Mojib Latif.

    Hold on to that scepticism, David: it’s a healthy attitude, and will enable you to treat appropriately some of the contributions here. Remember, a lack of confidence is revealed by disingenuousness, sarcasm, shouting, and ad hominem attacks. Ignore those, and go straight to the measured responses – plenty of those too, on both sides.

  33. 1533
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Walter Manny,
    Indeed, nobody was satisfied with the executive summary–many felt it underestimated both the level of certainty about the basic science (most scientists felt it was better than 95% confidence, but this was scaled back to 90% due to political pressure) as well as some of the consequences (e.g. rate of melting of Greenland Ice sheet, etc). Others felt it emphasized some consequences more strongly than was warranted. The ES is a political document of necessity.

    It might be better for your credibility, though, if you acknowledged that the criticism applies to a draft and not the final document. That would have been the honest thing to do. I will leave it to you to explain whether you were being intentionally disingenuous or whether you were naively parroting someone else’s mendacity.

  34. 1534
    Gilles says:

    CFU : do you understand what a “interconnected network ” is ?

    23 % is the ratio of Danish wind energy to Danish total electric energy. “Danish” is a nationality. You don’t get the same number when you take the ratio of the total wind energy to the total electric energy of the interconnected Denmark-Sweden-Germany.. network (don’t know exactly the limits…).

    I can do much better than Danes. I just put a small windmill in my backyard, and I decide unilaterally to make secession and declare my house as an independent country , Gillesland. Of course I still keep good relationships with my French neighbours, and I offer them generously to sell them electricity of my windmill when I don’t use it, and of course I need to buy theirs when I need more electricity than it produces – with no wind for instance.

    Nevertheless, Gillesland will be the first and only country in the world that produces 100 % of its electricity with wind power. Yeeaaaah. Could have done the same with solar panels of course.

  35. 1535
    dhogaza says:

    Further to Walter’s earlier post, Andy Revkin is responsible for the circulation. He’s trying to dig his way out

    Actually, I think it was Bishop Hill -> WUWT first. At least Revkin took the time to make a phone call before swallowing the tale entirely.

  36. 1536
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Some humble suggestions :-

    Pachauri has either made a fool of himself or been made a fool of unjustly. Absolutely doesn’t matter which… he must go.”

    So if someone makes a fool of you to get you to leave, even if it’s not your fault, you have to leave.

    Please tell me how this works.

    If being the target is a crime punishable by sacking, what is the punishment for the ones doing the shooting? Beheading???

  37. 1537
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles says “I see no ships”:
    “To my knowledge, we’ve never been at 20 % intermittent power anywhere ”

    Is that because you refuse to read this post?

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/01/the-ipcc-is-not-infallible-shock/comment-page-29/#comment-158677

    despite you having discarded the 23% as irrelevant in a later post:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/01/the-ipcc-is-not-infallible-shock/comment-page-30/#comment-158707

    do you edit your memories on a case-by-case basis?

  38. 1538
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Lets deconstruct this post, shall we, Wally? You don’t seem to want to do so, so I’ll hold your hand.

    “There is no scientific merit to be found in the Executive Summary.”

    OK, merely statement. Maybe later elements will go to show that this is a conclusion rather than the starting point. But still begs the question: to what extent is an executive summary meant to be rigourous in a scientific sense?

    “The presentation sounds like something put together by Greenpeace activists and their legal department.”

    Personal opinion. Not evidence of anything except the posters’ state of mind.

    “The points being made are made arbitrarily with legal sounding caveats without having established any foundation or basis in fact.”

    Rather like the post so far.

    The Executive Summary seems to be a political statement that is only designed to annoy greenhouse skeptics.”

    Yet more personal opinion. Yet to see a fact.

    “Wasn’t the IPCC Assessment Report intended to be a scientific document”

    Are we changing the name again? Earlier it was the Executive Summary. Now it’s the Assessment Report.

    And if you want the scientific document, you look at WG1. The scientific basis.

    “this is indeed a report with a clear and obvious political agenda.”

    In the mind of the poster. Nothing factual yet.

    “Attribution can not happen until understanding has been clearly demonstrated.”

    Which it has been, if you look at WG1. But this still doesn’t go to prove anything of the original opening statement.

    “Once the facts of climate change have been established and understood, attribution will become self-evident to all.”

    Doesn’t seem to have worked. And still no facts.

    “The Executive Summary as it stands is beyond redemption and should simply be deleted.”

    So we’re back to the Executive Summary (what happened to the Assessment Report, capitalised for both of them, indicating Proper Nouns or Quoted Titles, neither of which are open to changing on a whim in an asynchronous post).

    And there we get to the end of the diatribe.

    Starts out with “there is no science” and merely repeats it several times with different words.

    Nothing factual, just personal opinion of the poster of that tripe.

  39. 1539

    GM — Present day wind turbines may need neodymium, as you say. When neodymium is in short supply and the price goes way up, the manufacturers will substitute something else.

    Here’s the percentage of new electrical generating capacity in the US accounted for by wind in the past several years, according to the US Dept. of Energy (in May 2008, when Bush still ruled):

    2004 4%
    2005 12%
    2006 19%
    2007 35%
    2008 42%

    The penetration is clearly slowing down, but the trend looks good to me.

  40. 1540
    Al Gore is neutral right says:

    “Al Gore is carbon neutral. He offsets his carbon and uses renewables wherever possible”.
    This is the essence of RC. The man that was given nobel prize for flying across the globe in a private jet and preaching AGW. Right. Of course he is carbon neutral. The climate is changing and the world is becoming more polluted with every second. There’s no arguing about that. You have to wonder whether people can come down from their ivory towers of “oh i know so much and you’re a denialist”. Stay away from me with your carbon taxes and one world governments. When i hear Soros speaking in Davos about man made global warming – that’s you speaking about Al Gore being carbon neutral.

  41. 1541
    Completely Fed Up says:

    And when you make a mess, when you clean it up, there’s no more mess.

    Or have you never tried cleaning up your messes, troll 1540?

  42. 1542
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles, you’ve just said it’s not possible to get more than 20% and you posit that the Danes don’t count because they get 23% of their energy away whilst giving away some to other countries.

    Wouldn’t this require that they produce more than 23% of their power needs from wind?

    And please point me to any point in time where there has been no wind on the continent of Eurasia.

  43. 1543
    Georgi Marinov says:

    GM — Present day wind turbines may need neodymium, as you say. When neodymium is in short supply and the price goes way up, the manufacturers will substitute something else.

    This is precisely the attitude I am talking about – “When shortages come, we will find a substitute. Always”. The standard economic mantra. But the reality is that you can’t substitute your way out of every shortage, most minerals have no substitutes at present, a lot of them will never have substitutes and for the rest it will take decades of research to find those. On top of that, there are no substitutes for energy, food, water, topsoil and many other things we need and we are going to run out of soon.

    Also, I only used neodymium as an example, it is not the only such limiting material. Efficient PV are based on tellurium or indium, which aren’t exactly abundant either, and the list goes on, especially if you look further than electricity generation and into what is needed to make computers and other electronics.

    Anyway, once again, even from an economic point of view (as irrelevant as dollar signs are when physics is concerned, they are major factor in making things happen in the human world) – it will take a few hundred trillion dollars in investment to build the electricity generation capacity and infrastructure needed to phase out fossil fuels at the current level of energy consumption. Where are these money going to come from? Where is 5-6 times that amount of money going to come from given that we will have 9-10 billion people at 2050 and they will be consuming a lot more energy on a per capita basis than they do now?

  44. 1544
    David Walker says:

    ref MCT

    Yourself, CC and Doug Bostrom have argued a more conciliatory tone with respect to dealing with doubters, sceptics, etc.

    I think I am right in saying that you (like me) are UK based – and this may well be the reason for the difference. All of the Pachauri/IPCC/Himalaya/UEA issues are now openly discussed every day on the TV, national speech radio and the MSM in general in the UK.

    The discussions are often calm with apparently sensible advocates representing both camps in serious broadcasts. The result is always that the overwhelming scientific consensus is concerned about AGW – but the public are loosing faith in the scientists – and it is because of perceived exaggeration and/or sensationalism – and the UK public have been there a number of times before in the recent past.

    I am guessing that this level of media visibility is not apparent in the USA and this difference in experience accounts for the difference in response in terms of frustration (and a little vitriol) expounded by USA based commenters, for instance, Ray Ladbury (above).

    Usually, when USA sneezes, the UK gets a cold (i.e. we catch it quick). However, it may well happen the other way round this time and the US media may start to pick up on it.

    In the UK we will be electing a new government in April or May (2010) (the date is yet to be set by the incumbent government. The country is in a hole with a huge deficit and the next government (of whatever flavour) will need to make some serious expenditure cuts.

    Commentators are already, although jokingly, starting to suggest that David Cameron (the potential new Prime minister (currently in the lead) may “cool” with respect to matters climate change. Public opinion here allows room for a party to take a more sceptic line and potentially be rewarded via the ballot box. It would be a huge gamble if they did – but the fact that it is even being mentioned was unthinkable just a few months ago.

  45. 1545
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Following Doug’s link to Revkin:

    I was immediately curious, of course, whether Dr. Lacis still held this dim view of that chapter summary, so I contacted him and we just spoke a short while ago.

    “The revised chapter was much improved,” he said. “That’s different than saying everything in there is nailed down, but I think it’s a big improvement.”

    Overall, he said, “I commend the authors for doing as good a job as they did. That’s the way the science process ought to work. You get inputs from everybody, find any bugs, crank through and the science moves forward.”

    Do you find that reply satisfying, Walter?

  46. 1546
    t_p_hamilton says:

    mct says:”There’s no point saying (@1482) “If Joe Public is going to be the judge…” – Joe Public is and will always be the final arbiter of what happens in a democracy. Sort of goes with the territory.”

    Well, I did have some suggestions to give Joe Public the ability to sort good from bad:

    “For the work that has been done, don’t turn TO a political party (that includes political people masquerading as scientists – if you can’t tell – go to the national or international scientific organizations, go to scientific journals and see who is actually working on the problem). If Joe Public is going to be the judge, he has to exercise JUDGEMENT.”

    What are some of mct’s suggestions? “Wherever other data is being questioned/requested, the same must apply – release or be damned. The public simply won’t any longer wear any assertion based on unreleased data and/or methodology.”

    People come here ask rhetorically for public release of GISSTEMPs data and modeling program – even though it is publicly released! They are listening to liars, that is the problem. I suppose you could call that a PR problem of a sort. By your argument the public should have NO problem with GISS’s results.

    YOU need to point out that the denialists are merely doing PR to whoever you can.

  47. 1547
    Didactylos says:

    Al Gore is pragmatic.

    This is something that the right just won’t give him credit for. They are so busy taking shots at his energy consumption, and at his offset plans, that they don’t manage to put the two together and realise that Gore is preaching exactly what they want to hear: “You can continue your lifestyle without earth-shattering changes, and avert global warming. It won’t even break the bank.”

    Maybe Al Gore was simply the wrong face for this, since the right just hate him on principle, and never bother listening to him. But they won’t listen to McCain or Schwarzenegger either, so maybe Gore was exactly the right person during the Bush years. Internationally, he had the credibility that other politicians lacked, even if his own country considered him a punchline.

  48. 1548
    Septic Matthew says:

    1529, Georgi Marinov: Science and Nature tend to be just as religious believers in growth as The Economist, don’t forget that. As do many scientists and engineers. It is an unfortunate fact that human beings are fundamentally irrational and even something as axiomatic as the obvious fact that you can’t grow forever in a finite system may not be appreciated by otherwise very smart people.

    The only reason why renewables have been able to grow at such a rate in the last few years is the very low starting point. But you can’t assume that such growth rate can continue – for at least two reasons:

    1) that a few tens of billions of investments materialized does not mean that a few hundred trillions will also appear, especially in the conditions of permanent economic crisis (caused by Peak Oil)

    2) and most important, the are hard resource limits on how much renewable capacity you can install. For example, wind turbines need neodymium, neodymium is a rare earth metal and there is a reason why those elements are called so, it all comes from China, there isn’t that much of it and the Chinese will just stop exporting it in a few years.

    Your comment about Science is ad hominem, and does not address the particular claims (all based on peer-reviewed research or actual investments) in the article.

    Not all wind turbines require neodynium. Where did you get that? The newer models have smaller blades, so they can be made out of lots of materials, and higher efficiencies than the turbines now installed.

    Tens of billions can indeed accumulate to hundreds of billions and eventually to trillions. How do you think we got where we are from where we were 125 years ago? The known resource limits are very high, the most important right now being time and labor.

    Of course society will be different 125 years from now, that’s what we are trying to make happen. Even now, solar powered cell phone systems are being deployed in rural India where no cell phone towers have ever been deployed before.

  49. 1549
    Septic Matthew says:

    You can read about solar powered cellular networks here:

    http://www.technologyreview.com/communications/24511/?a=f

  50. 1550
    Doug Bostrom says:

    David Walker says: 10 February 2010 at 12:42 PM

    “Yourself, CC and Doug Bostrom have argued a more conciliatory tone…”

    Baseless, scurrilous charges of being reasonable? Why, I’ve never been more insulted in my life!

    News of the day— SkepticalScience launches iPhone app. Access rebuttal from wherever you are (but please, not while driving):

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/skeptical-science-iphone-app.html