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PBS: Climate of Doubt

Filed under: — gavin @ 24 October 2012

The video of Tuesday’s PBS show on the politics of the climate debate is available – I make a minor appearance…

The PBS website has more background.

139 Responses to “PBS: Climate of Doubt”

  1. 51
    Hank Roberts says:

    > get cracking

    _stop_ cracking.

  2. 52
    Craig Nazor says:

    Recent info:

    These statements lead me to believe that, if Obama wins, we will see more action to address AGCC. Will it be ENOUGH action?

  3. 53
    Ecosystem says:

    It’s been a dispute for so many years, and still no one is doing anything to cover this bad and negative problems with the climate. I totally agree that people have to force and cooperate one with eachother and get all this settup better, and save the planet. You cant have one without the other. Polution and negative problems will continue til we will do something to save it..

  4. 54
    J Bowers says:

    @ 47 Phil L

    Thanks for that.

  5. 55
    Leonard Evens says:

    There is no doubt about the choice in this election. The Tea Party influence has eliminated any support for action to deal with climate change in today’s Republican party. Indeed, denial that there is even a problem has won out. The Democrats certainly haven’t done very well in dealing with climate change, but they, by and large, admit there is a problem, and it needs to be dealt with.

    I must admit that I am a artisan Democrat, so my opinions may be influenced by that fact. But I have voted for Republicans in the past, when I felt overall that they were better on the issues that mattered to me. But the difference is so stark, that it seems to me it is foolish to vote Republican arguing that the Democrats aren’t much better. Candidates must learn that they have something to lose by giving in to the climate change deniers.

  6. 56
    John Mashey says:

    I thought the show came out pretty well and in particular, did something that was fairly important in following the money, towards the end, where they were talking with Bob Brulle about Donors Trust. Heartland sends Environment& Climate News to all legislators in the US. They’ve distributed 14,000 of Jo Nova’s Skeptics Handbook to US school board presidents, and sent DVDs to Canadian schools. They put on these ICCC shindigs and pay for Singer, Idso, Carter, etc to do NIPCC reports. They sent money to the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition and other foreign non-charities. All that takes money. Take the money away and there is less of it.

    For the details, see Fakery 2.

  7. 57
    mark E says:

    Relatively speaking those funding denial are just a few of many large fish swimming in a large global pond. Perhaps they expect AWG to cull the fishery and shrink the pond….. but in such a way that they end up being the biggest fish in that smaller pond?

  8. 58
    Chris Crawford says:

    We all know that it’s already too late to prevent severe economic damage due to climate change. This program demonstrates just how large is the chasm between reality and political perception. It will take at least a decade and probably much longer, to turn around political perception on this matter, by which time the situation will be much worse. Even then, we’ll have to convince the developing world, especially China and India, to join our efforts, a task that will take another decade or two. Thus, I doubt that we’ll see serious action on climate change for at least 20 years, and more likely 30. And the efforts we take will not begin to produce significant results for several decades longer.

    Put all this together and the conclusion is that we’re going to be suffering serious consequences from climate change, and adaptation will be the only response available to us — very expensive adaptation. Get used to it: we’re screwed.

    The only consolation I can take from this is that the deniers and the Tea Party will surely lose political credibility as a consequence of their falsehoods. Sadly, this won’t help much.

  9. 59
    Steve says:

    @Chris #58:

    Snap. This is pretty much how I expect it will all pan out. As a close colleague at work used to opine: “The problem is, Steve, that we care.”

  10. 60
    Bill Woolverton says:

    We can only convince countries such as India and China to take action by taking action ourselves.

  11. 61
    Unsettled Scientist says:

    It is awesome to see Katharine Hayhoe get a share of the focus in this piece. I’ve seen her in several documentary pieces in the past and have found her enthusiasm for the science infectious. There are far too few women scientists known to the general public. As my mother was shut out of a science track in her early education due to institutional sexism I always enjoy seeing a successful female scientist in the public eye. And I relish the opportunity to show my friends’ children an intelligent role model breaking the mold of the avuncular scientist and replacing it with a matronly image. It’s cool that she is literally the still image screenshot for the video.

    PS – Gavin, thanks for the new word in my lexicon, I had to look up avuncular. I couldn’t find avauntular in the dictionary so I went with matronly… I’m not a stellar wordsmith.

  12. 62
    Jim Larsen says:

    60 Bill said, “We can only convince countries such as India and China to take action by taking action ourselves”

    India has made it abundantly clear that they will take the USA as their baseline. They’ve said that they will never emit more carbon per capita than the USA. Makes total sense to me.

  13. 63

    “Even then, we’ll have to convince the developing world, especially China and India, to join our efforts, a task that will take another decade or two..”

    No. As with other things, China and India are both making a more concerted effort *now* to build clean energy infrastructure than is the US.

    The US plan? What plan? (Though it is noteworthy that FF emissions were down in 2011 and projected to be so in 2012, too. Growth is projected to resume in 2013.)

    “We can only convince countries such as India and China to take action by taking action ourselves.”

    The only “action” where America could still lead in this regard is by making a binding commitment to actual emissions reductions. So far, head-to-head match ups with China and India in this regard would be 0-0 ties.

  14. 64
    SecularAnimist says:

    Craig Nazor wrote: “… if Obama wins, we will see more action to address AGCC. Will it be ENOUGH action?”

    Enough for what?

  15. 65
    J Bowers says:

    Just wondering if NC-20 are gonna be so highly regarded this time next week.

  16. 66
    Radge Havers says:

    @ 61 


    (sometimes the root holds a key)

  17. 67
    Craig Nazor says:

    SecularAnimist: That’s hard to say, because we don’t know enough of the future to accurately predict when and/or where the crucial changes will happen. On the one hand, it could be “enough action” to save my own personal skin, and the skins of those I care about. On the other hand, it could be “enough action” to save the status quo of human civilization. It is already a bit late for the second, but is it too lte for the first? Not being able to accurately predict the future should never stop one from hoping and fighting for the best future, but preparing for the worst future.

  18. 68
    Jim Larsen says:

    64 SecularA said, “Craig Nazor wrote: “… if Obama wins, we will see more action to address AGCC. Will it be ENOUGH action?”

    Enough for what?”

    Open for interpretation, but I’d say enough to reduce the need for GE. We NEED to minimize GE requirements. Pretending we haven’t already screwed up is, well, like believing in the tooth fairy.

  19. 69
    Steven Sullivan says:

    #63: India’s ‘targeting’ of renewable energy will be nice, though a relatively small drop in the country’s megawatt needs…assuming it actually advances beyond a plan, to reality. There are huge obstacles to that. India’s energy infrastructure and management and the politics related to same, are a mess, and its energy needs are huge and growing.

  20. 70
    deconvoluter says:

    Conclusion from PBS show. Yet another example of contrarian projection. *.

    1. You have been trying to close down the debate => We shall try to stop you from raising this subject during the election.

    A dictionary of earlier examples.

    2. “You are being told lies”=>We don’t care about the truth.

    3. “You need to get better statistical advice”=> We shall play games with the data and disregard the stats.

    4. Its just the product of a social network => I was handpicked and I handpicked my team from my colleagues.

    5. You are victimising us by calling us deniers => Our astroturfers refer to Greens and environmentalists as Nazis.

    6. The ‘trick’ => We invent lots of stunts and deceptive tricks.

    7. Political gambit: Its just politicised science =>we politicise everything

    8. . Lysenko gambit: Climate science has been corrupted by a successor to Lysenko to do ideologically based junk science => We shall promote non experts like Singer to attempt to trash the real ones.
    *. What was originally thought to be an involuntary unconscious process is now regularly used as a conscious propagandist technique.

  21. 71
    simon abingdon says:

    #32 Susan Anderson

    “How did Singer persuade people he is a climate scientist, let alone a credible scientist?” See his Wikipedia entry.

  22. 72
    deconvoluter says:

    Re : #56.

    Good comment John.
    When governments are short of cash, the wealthy can create an alternative state within the state (OK no more politics for now).

    You deserve to be congratulated for your contributions to this area. I hope I am not repeating myself. I am reminded of one of Iaian Stewart’s programs for the BBC called the Climate Wars. It was not an ideal series but one of the most memorable images was that of Iaian peering down a moulin at the top of a glacier and asking where all that river of melted ice was going. I regard that as a metaphor for contrarian funds.

    Does any of it trickle down to grass root level or is all that energetic activity following the blogs entirely voluntary? There are also the minor contrarian web sites.

  23. 73
    Susan Anderson says:

    Strongly recommend the outstanding work of John Mashey @56.

    I also appreciated his point about how the program underlined the “mysterious” donor’s trust.

    There is nothing avuncular about deceiving the public but we are all too familiar with the victory of form over content in our cosmetics addicted culture (or lack of same).

  24. 74
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #57, good conspiracy theory. I’m teaching folkore, incl “urban legend” conspiracy theories, & mentioned some climate change denialist ones, so I started thinking that I’d like to start a conspiracy theory of my own and see if it “takes.” Then it just came to me today from bits of info, incl this “Climate of Doubt” docu and from a display I did re how Americans living within 100 miles of a coastline (incl Lake Michigan) live in a “Constitution-free” zone without rights due to Homeland Security issues (see ), and I had swathed in a big path over the proposed XL pipeline down the middle of America. Then just recently we’ve been hearing about voter suppression tactics, etc.

    So here’s my conspiracy theory: It was a complex plot right from the beginning that would have taken beings with supercomputer intelligence to come up with, starting well before the time when the Dominators contracted with bin Laden to attack us, leading to grossly enhanced security measures and detracting our attention from AGW, also causing (or giving pretexts for) extremely expensive wars, throwing our economy into a tailspin, further detracting from AGW concerns.

    Little by little obscure, arcane laws are being put in place that on the face seem reasonable security and economic measures, but one day people living within 100 miles of the coasts and borders, including Chicago, will wake up to find themselves disenfranchised, as well as squawking heartland rancher/farmers within 100 miles of the XL pipeline route (i.e., mainly the people not buying into the climate denialist conspiracy theories). Ostensibly this is for security measures and to ensure bitumen economic prosperity to all. Who are these “Dominators,” you ask.

    Well, eventually the denialist industry henchmen and fossil fuel CEOs will find out the Dominators have also betrayed them when global climate reaches some 3C warming around 2050 or so, when they can no longer brain-wash the gullible public into denying AGW. They will find out their free trip to a terraformed Mars was not actually in the works or even in the plans. So as we head into a runaway scenario, the Dominator supercomputer robot/androids from Area 51, who look exactly like humans, will “decommission” the denialist powers-that-be and take over the oil companies and government with look-alikes (some have already been taken over), and start implementing their plans to turn all that decomposing biota (us) into oil. Eventually when earth turns into another Venus and these robots are all melted into nothing, then the Zorks from Planet Bork will have the last laugh at having destroyed a potential enemy (us), since Earthlings were becoming a bit too sophisticated in their technology and space endeavors. The end.

  25. 75
    Tom Adams says:

    J Bower #65. NC-20 will riding high next week regardless of the coastal damage. NC will most likely replace its Dem governor with a Republican and retain a Republican legislature. And, the current Dem governor did not even veto the bill even though a veto appeared to be sustainable (I still don’t fully understand who that happened.)

    Chris #58. Even adaptation and planning for adaptation is being blocked by the the deniers, to the extent these activities are based on IPCC projections. That’s what NC-20 did in NC. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, EPA is being blocked from planning for adaptation by a hostile Congress.

    (Note that the projections are becoming forecasts as the business as usual assumptions are increasingly locked in for the future.)

    Under these conditions, the only government-base adaptation left may be that done after being blindsided.

  26. 76

    #69–Yes, Indian energy infrastructure is a mess–especially its coal, which is by far the dominant energy source.

    But read the Indian link; the current plan is not the starting point, it’s the development of the last one, which surprised everyone (including the Indians) by succeeding wildly: “..the 12,871 megawatts added during the previous five year plan…”

    12 GW is indeed a drop in the bucket compared with overall Indian consumption, but again–and speaking off the top of my head–it’s more than the US added during that time. Certainly, if the new plan also succeeds, it will exceed likely US additions of renewable capacity by far. (In the US right now, most of the money is going to fracked natural gas.)

    My point is not that “India added 12 GW of renewables, therefore everything is OK.” It is that “India added 12 GW, plans to double that, and therefore it is complete tosh to think that the laggard US is going to be the virtuous leader dragging a reluctant India to embrace renewables.” Which is what we were talking about.

    I’d add that the targets set by China are non-trivial:

    It is also an urgent need in the protection of the environment, response to climate change and achievement of sustainable development. Through unswerving efforts in developing new and renewable energy sources, China endeavors to increase the shares of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption and installed generating capacity to 11.4 percent and 30 percent, respectively, by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan.

    They are aiming for non-fossil consumption of 15% by 2020, which is comparable to the levels of today’s leaders in renewable energy, such as Germany.

    And before we get too cynical about the difference between plans and outcomes, let’s remember that, as in India, Chinese efforts in adding renewables have actually exceeded their targets by considerable margins.

    So is everything OK? Of course not. But let’s not pretend that the developing world is more of a problem than it actually is. US recalcitrance–actively promoted by folks like the Kochs, big energy and the usual media and political suspects for the usual ideological and economic reasons–is a far bigger problem, if you ask me. If US leadership on this issue reached the levels which most Americans wish for their nation, then we would have a much better outlook.

  27. 77
    M. Joyce says:

    How is it possible to convince a US electorate that a colorless, odorless gas that makes up a tiny percentage of the atmosphere is a pressing threat when only 4 years after investment bankers almost totally destroyed the global economy they have made an investment banker who espouses the same failed ideology that caused the catastrophe into a candidate for president who has a chance of winning?

    It is said that no one ever went wrong by underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

    What a world.

  28. 78
    deconvoluter says:

    Correction to point 8 of my #70.

    Replace ‘non-experts like Singer’ with ‘advocates like Singer’.

    [Response to Simon at #71, Of course the term ‘advocate’ needs a whole article to unpack; I’ll just mention his tendency to avoid correcting errors e.g. in Channel 4’s fake documentary Swindle]

  29. 79
    Superman1 says:

    The video addresses A problem, but not THE problem. THE problem is our addiction to the high energy use lifestyle that only fossil fuels can satisfy economically. If we eliminated all the denialist sponsors, like the Koch brothers and their ilk, and all the denialist disseminators, like Heartland/WUWT and their ilk, we would be no further ahead in solving the climate change problem than we are today. The denialist community is like the drug cartels; they supply and exploit the addicts, but they are not driving the problem.

    But, go ahead and keep focusing on the denialists; they make excellent scapegoats. Ten years from now, we’ll be seeing the same postings on this blog by the same people, because of our refusal to address the real problem head on. We are doing the equivalent of solving a complex equation while omitting the dominant term.

  30. 80
    Jim says:

    It always amazes me that “true conservatives” seem unable to give credit where credit is due on the wonderful success this country has endured:
    1. Yes, the genius of the founding fathers…conservatives get that.
    2. But that genius would have been wasted without the concurrent grace of our land and climate, which allowed us to become the bread basket of the world, not just the US.

    Why they are willing to roll the dice on eliminating number 2 is beyond me.

  31. 81

    re: 79

    I’m unsure of the course of action you expect otherwise. Is your solution to just shoot those addicted to carbon energy? That has a certain clarity, but it might be a case of throwing out the baby with the baby sitter, the baby sitter’s boyfriend, their families and neighbors, and anyone who has a name with a vowel. It seems to me that we’re stuck trying to disprove denialists and reach a point where boring old political solutions are available.

    That might be too little too late, but there you go. Lots of people think we’re hardly Nature’s last word. Sure, I’d handle things with a little more vim, and I keep looking for the investiture committee to appear at my door, but they keep getting the address wrong. What are you gonna do?

  32. 82
    Tom Adams says:

    “Climate of Doubt” predicted that NC-20 would try to pack the advisory committee with deniers when policy relative to SLR came up for review in 4 years after the moratorium in the bill expires.

    Perhaps the scientific community or related groups at some level could establish standards for grading such advisory panels. There is the matter of the credibility of the panel members and also the matter of how much influence a minority position can have on the panel’s overall advice (how the committee is structured)

    A phony debate in the media is one thing, but the standard for shutting down media debate is perhaps higher than the standard for discrediting an advisory panel. Phony advisory panels is perhaps a new thing that we will see more of in the future.

  33. 83
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    Kevin #76. China may undergo some interesting developments after a new top team takes over in the next few weeks. In addition to being younger, they also come from markedly different backgrounds.

    The past 10 years China was run by engineers. The out-going team had varied engineering backgrounds (except one lawyer) – typically a formal degree plus about 10 years of work in industry. The top duo consisted of a hydro-power engineer and an industrial geologist. The in-coming team seems to be mostly career politicians with little background outside the Party machine. Not yet evident is the massive education campaign which so far has sent some 2,5 million students to foreign universities (Harvard is mentioned in one profile, though). Their turn will come later.

    The rather new 5-year plan appears to be keyed on an idea of climate driven disruption. It is seen as an opportunity not to be missed for development of indigenous technology and building global market share in new lucrative fields. Solar, wind, hydro and nuclear power (incl. emerging technologies), high speed rail transportation, ice breaking ships, water and land management etc. are all targeted. China is not entirely happy about its role as “the factory of the world”.

    How effective the new team will be is an entirely open question. They have values and methods that are different, as well as their own fights internally. Political stability of China remains as precarious as ever.

  34. 84
  35. 85
    Rob Ellis says:

    Naomi Klein had the game plan of the denalists all figured out back in 2011. Nothing to do with science at all. Unfortunately the summary of her analysis is not something that a typical American can stomach.

  36. 86

    #83–Thanks, Pekka. I note a few engineers in this mix, too! But clearly it is, as you say, a new and younger crop of leaders.

    I think it’s possible that China could have quite a rough ride over the next decade–though it certainly seems, if so, that they won’t be the only ones. We’ll see.

  37. 87
    Superman1 says:

    Ladbury #84,

    “Superman1 gets it wrong again.”

    In order for me to get it wrong ‘again’, I had to have gotten it wrong a first time. You have yet to identify the first time.

    You need to distinguish among what someone understands about climate change, what someone says about climate change, and what actions someone is willing to take about climate change. I find that despite the wide range that people have on factors one and two, their response to factor three is pretty much consistent: nothing! Most people are not willing to surrender the high energy use lifestyle to which they have become accustomed and for which the ‘cheap’ energy from fossil fuel is required. It is the addiction to ‘cheap’ fossil fuel energy that must be addressed, not the admitted deluge of misinformation we are constantly being fed by the media. Undoubtedly, any reduction in this misinformation is useful, but it is ‘below the radar’ relative to what is required to impact the climate change problem. However, what The Three MisQuoteers (Fish, Ladbury, Larsen) refuse to admit is that solving the fossil energy addiction problem is no easier than solving the drug addiction problem, and they/you focus instead on problems (e.g., misinformation) whose solution will provide negligible impact on climate change.
    BTW, I place ‘cheap’ in quotes deliberately; fossil energy is ‘cheap’ today only because the front-end costs are emphasized to the near-exclusion of the back-end costs. If waste disposal were included in the costing, fossil energy would no longer appear so ‘cheap’. This favoring of the front-end to the near-exclusion of the back-end is not unique to fossil. For years, something similar but on a somewhat muted scale was done with respect to nuclear power as well. That began to change in the 70s, when concerns about nuclear power and its waste disposal surfaced. Whether those concerns were aided and abetted by the fossil industry remains to be seen.

  38. 88
    Superman1 says:

    Jeffrey Davis #81,
    ” What are you gonna do?”

    I have no real solution to the climate change problem that I can support with a credible Roadmap. Any credible solution has two main requirements: technical feasibility; political/sociological feasibility. I can offer many technically feasible solutions, but their combination with political/sociological feasibility produces a null set. The problem is addiction, pure and simple. We have not been able to overcome the addiction to drugs, and I see little hope that we can overcome the addiction to the high energy use lifestyle that cheap fossil fuels can underwrite. Blaming the politicians for not discussing the climate change problem, blaming the media for not reporting it honestly, etc, may feel good and offer psychological benefits, but it distracts from the central problem of addiction, and is for all practical purposes meaningless.

  39. 89
    flxible says:

    I think I have to agree with Superman1 about addiction, even looking for solutions is part of the problem. Becoming more energy efficient by using “only” 30% more – and calling that “essentially the same energy budget”. Does Tennessee have coal powered electric plants?

  40. 90
    Steve Fish says:

    Comment by Superman1 — 30 Oct 2012 @ 5:53 AM and 605 AM:

    Typically you are making sweeping statements of opinion. Anybody can express their opinions, but they are empty without some factual support. In a science context you need some expert peer reviewed studies that, for example, demonstrate that cheap fossil fuel use is an “addiction.” I think your opinions are counterintuitive and worthless, prove me wrong. Steve

  41. 91

    ew: 88

    When LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he famously said that he was handing the Republicans the South for the next 20 years. (Except for Carter’s 1976 victories, that was a little optimistic. It appears to be the real gift that keeps on giving.) We need many politicians who can step up and, well, lead. Most of the rest of the planet — and all the industrialized countries on the planet are similarly addicted — have at least made token gestures that can make subsequent substantive steps easier. For that to happen here, the hypothetical “leader” politicians need to have the scientific and moral bona fides in place. That means blasting the deniers, all the time. Not “sexy” and maybe insufficient, but it will have to do.

  42. 92
    Jim Larsen says:

    87 Superman1 said, ” The Three MisQuoteers (Fish, Ladbury, Larsen) refuse to admit is that solving the fossil energy addiction problem is no easier than solving the drug addiction problem,”

    Wow. I decided to read one of your comments and was rewarded by your compliment. Thanks for including me in such good company.

    We aren’t addicted to a high energy lifestyle. We would be plenty happy with solar hot water systems. We would adore passive and active solar heating. We would be tickled pink with ground source heat pumps, and, of course, we would love a 100mpg midsize car that zooms like a race car. A 50-75% reduction in CO2 emissions with improved comfort and convenience is fairly easy to accomplish, and that’s before considering renewables.

    Here’s a social solution for you: Include energy costs on mort-gage and lo-an applications. Suddenly the consumer is driven towards more efficient products at no cost to himself or society, and all of the above technologies would become mainstream instead of anecdotal or in-the-future. What homebuilder is going to put in an inefficient HVAC system or wimpy insulation when he knows his customers are going to have problems qualifying for a mort-gage? One little cost-free law would probably do more to reduce carbon pollution than all the incredibly expensive rebates and credits in the world.

  43. 93
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Most people are not willing to
    > surrender the high energy use lifestyle

    You know, you can look this stuff up.

    Governments and businesses believe what you proclaim — that “most people are not willing” — and they’re wrong, as you are.

    People do respond, when they have the facts.

    Try this first paper and some citing papers:
    Crisis in Paradise: Understanding Household Conservation Response to California’s 2001 Energy Crisis

    Will facts change what you believe?
    Will a little history inform what you believe about people?

    Read and tell us whether your opinion changed, eh?

    State government’s opinion changed; you know how to look it up.
    The utilities’ opinion changed; they now inform the public when there’s an energy shortage even for a few hours.

    They aren’t cutting back on generating capacity — yet — because, well, they don’t like cutting back and people aren’t hearing — yet — that it’s needed, that we need to reduce fossil fuel even if we go through a pinch, til we get replacements.

    People will respond, if they’re not treated like mushrooms.

  44. 94
    hmoseley says:

    Scientists have done, and continue to do, a good job of outlining the reality of the climate situation. The reality of human driven global warming is well established. The question of appropriate public policies should be separate from the science, but the conflation of these issues serves the interests of wealthy interest groups. I think we are about to see al large scale experiment in natural selection. I predict that the wealthy interests will always survive, their followers, perhaps not.

  45. 95
    Eric Rowland says:

    @87, While common, this meme that the great majority of humans are addicts is both incorrect and pointless. For one to acquire this point of view requires a strange brew of self-righteous, idealistic and authoritarian values. If humans are addicts and there is only one viable path there can be only one logical conclusion; humans must be controlled.

    As Ladbury and others have pointed out, the battle for hearts and minds is where we are correctly aimed. The science may be settled but the cost of change is utterly unsettling to almost everyone. Some of us work on a more local stage and can only lead by example and gentle persuasion but in a democracy this is how we make change until we’ve gained enough momentum that political will and leadership come forward.

  46. 96
    GSW says:

    All in all I thought the programme was better than past efforts, with the sceptic side being given some opportunity to express views contra to the CS orthodoxy. One niggling point though, and I don’t know if others picked up on it, was the editorial “slant” that the sceptic side were “opportunistic”, and that their failure to agree was little more than a desire to be awkward.

    The sceptic case is far more substantial than that, but an improvement at any rate on the usual MSM fayre.

  47. 97
    Superman1 says:

    Hank Roberts #93,

    “Governments and businesses believe what you proclaim — that “most people are not willing” — and they’re wrong, as you are.

    People do respond, when they have the facts.
    Try this first paper and some citing papers:

    Crisis in Paradise: Understanding Household Conservation Response to California’s 2001 Energy Crisis

    Will facts change what you believe?
    Will a little history inform what you believe about people?
    Read and tell us whether your opinion changed, eh?”

    The paper addresses steps taken by myriad organizations in response to California’s 2001 energy crisis. The types of responses typically mentioned were raising the thermostat when cooling, and turning out lights when not needed.

    This is a textbook example of a solution to a problem, but not the one we are discussing. The steps described in the paper are very minimal; they are more about eliminating waste and less about tightening one’s belt. For all practical purposes, they involve no self-sacrifice nor major lifestyle changes.

    The severity of the actions required to dodge the worst of climate change depends on one’s perspective of the seriousness of the problem. I believe we have either passed the point of no return, or are very close. At a minimum, I believe that fossil fuels need to be phased out as fast as humanly possible, and other measures need to be taken to remove excess CO2 as fast as possible (reforestation, afforestation, perhaps artificial trees, etc). We may even have to do some short term aerosol injection or the equivalent to overcool slightly, and quench the positive feedback mechanisms that seem to be accelerating presently.

    However, you seem to be more impressed with a cited source, so we’ll use the writings of Kevin Anderson. He was Director of Tyndall Centre in UK, is now a Professor at U Manchester, and has offered one of the more stringent plans of action (although I personally believe it will not prevent runaway because of its high temperature target). He sets a temperature target of no greater than 2 C (which he admits is in the ‘dangerous’ region, even though it is accepted by world bodies as a common target), and shows that one possible scenario is to continue fossil fuel use to 2020 at present rates, then reduce CO2 emissions by 10% world-wide for decades. He admits that the developing nations would never agree to a scenario where they would have to cut the same amount as the developed nations, so realistically the developed nations would have to cut far greater, perhaps by 50%. He states the developed nations would have to adopt ‘planned austerity’.

    So, what would be required is not turning out the lights when you’re not using a room, or turning the summer thermostat from 72 to 74, but rather ending airline flights, perhaps trading in your car for a bicycle, or getting rid of your Chevy Suburban for a Honda Fit, relocating from the far suburbs to a location where you can bike or walk to work, selling your 5000 ft^2 three story house on one acre for a 1000 ft^2 condo, etc. You get the drift. What also would be required politically is selling ‘planned austerity’. In a world where the two Presidential candidates did not even discuss climate change in the debates, I’m sure ‘planned austerity’ would go over real well!!!

    So, stating that people are ‘willing’ to make major lifestyle changes based on a study involving essentially no sacrifice is scholarship worthy of WUWT. You’re going to have to do better ‘cherry-picking’ than that!

  48. 98
    Adan R. says:


    The sceptic case is far more substantial than that,

    That is the central lie of the spreaders of false doubt about climate science.

  49. 99
    J Bowers says:

    “The sceptic case is far more substantial than that…”

    Roughly ten thousand peer reviewed papers on climate published each year. Three or four are sceptical. Sorry, just not substantial.

  50. 100
    Steve Metzler says:

    #97 Superman1:

    So, what would be required is not turning out the lights when you’re not using a room, or turning the summer thermostat from 72 to 74, but rather ending airline flights, perhaps trading in your car for a bicycle, or getting rid of your Chevy Suburban for a Honda Fit, relocating from the far suburbs to a location where you can bike or walk to work, selling your 5000 ft^2 three story house on one acre for a 1000 ft^2 condo, etc.

    None of that is feasible, and you damn well know it. It’s a straw man aimed to make those who acknowledge that we have a problem look like idiots by pretending that what we really want is for everyone to go live in caves.

    Firstly, air travel is only about 3% of the GHG problem, and it’s not exactly the low hanging fruit. What we really need to do is change the way the world generates electricity to move away from coal to renewables, and then power most of our ground transport using that cleanly generated electricity. Obviously, this will not be easy, especially until we figure out a way to get enough of the population on board so that we have the necessary bi-partisan support to make it work.

    And to do that, we need to bring the denialist noise machine to a halt. Nature will do that for us probably about 20 years from now if we keep up BAU. But by then it will be too late to do any useful mitigation. It will all be very costly adaptation. And millions will die as climate patterns change in ways that make the current breadbaskets of the world no longer viable.

    Perhaps never has “You can pay me now, or pay me later.” been so apt.