PBS: Climate of Doubt

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 comments on this post.
  1. Leonard Evens:

    At a certain point in the future, the Republican Party will accept that human activity is changing climate, and not in ways beneficial for Americans. It will disavow any connection with Tea Party activists and those currently in control of the Party’s policies in this matter. Unfortunately that will probably come too late to do any good.

  2. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    My perspective: Great production. Again we see balanced representation of the debate and an inability to get into validity in the science as the focal point. Good portrayal of how the ‘doubt and delay’ agenda was successfully implemented. The narrator did not get overly excited on either side of the issue which is generally considered good protocol. I hope no one attacks him for it.

  3. Craig Nazor:

    Interesting program. Recently on NPR, I heard a lengthy news report on national energy policy, the economy, the presidential candidates, and the election, without ONE MENTION of anthropogenic global climate change. How can that topic be intelligently discussed without mentioning AGCC? It can’t. Compared to that report, this one is quite refreshing.

  4. Lloyd Flack:

    Excellent program and rather scary in what it reveals about the influence of denialists on the Republican Party. Interesting that the denialists have sought to cow rather than win over the Republican leadership. They have apealed to the rank and file on this and have shut down debate within the Republican Party on this. In effect they have instigated mob rule within the Republican Party.

    I think the biggest gap in the prgram was that it did not deal with the part played by religious fundamentalism, in particular the Cornwall Alliance. Creationism encourages a distrust of science and this makes people fall for the denialists’ message more easilly. This, I am sure, is a large part but not all, of the reason why denialism is particularly strong in the USA. Another is the paranoid attitude many have towards the Federal Government.

  5. Lloyd Flack:

    An excellent program. It shows how the denialists gained control of the Republican Party.. Rather scary how they have shut down debate on it within the party. Interesting how they did it. Basically they have instituted mob rule. They convinced the base and they in turn have cowed the Republican leadership. They do not appear to have tried to win over the Republican leadership, just intimidate many of them.

    The program does not go into the motivation of denialism and why the USA is particularly susceptible. They after all had only so much time for the program. Still, I wish they had gone into the Fundamentalist links of some organizations such as the Cornwall Alliance, especially since Spencer is a member.

  6. Edward Greisch:

    This video is currently unavailable.

  7. Russell:

    Since the camera was rolling at the expense of a Kendenda Fund pass through from the Tides Foundation, the narrator is to be complimented for keeping a straight face as Senator Kerry expressed his deep, deep, shock at partisan funding of climate polemics.

  8. no_name_please:

    It was way past time for this show, but I actually don’t think it went far enough. I’ve read Michael Mann’s book, and Frontline didn’t come close to portraying the depth to which these people have gone.

    They’ve effectively made it so people feel uncomfortable even bringing the subject of climate change up for fear of making people mad. It’s not considered polite discussion anymore. That must change. And it’s completely unacceptable that the very people we elect won’t even respond to questions about climate change. What a bunch of cowards.

  9. Jim Eager:

    Although I would have liked to see the motivation of the doubt warriors examined more explicitly, I did like the way that their spokesmen, and they were all men, were given ample rope to hang themselves with in their own words. Frankly, I’m surprised that they were that candid. These are professional media manipulators? It lowers my opinion of the media even further that they have been taken in so easily by these used car hucksters.

    It may have been minor, Gavin, but you came across quite well. Katherine Hayhoe was also very good, and it was great that they adapted the Skeptical Science “down the up escalator” meme.

  10. SecularAnimist:

    Haven’t seen it yet.

    Did they mention that a great deal of the denialist propaganda machine (e.g. Heartland Institute) as well as most of the so-called Tea Party groups (e.g. the denialist “mob rule within the Republican Party” that Lloyd Flack refers to above) are heavily funded by the coal oligarchs, the Koch brothers — who also fund PBS, whose programs (for example a recent episode of News Hour) have presented deniers like Anthony Watts as legitimate “skeptical” voices in the “debate”?

  11. Tom Adams:

    #1 I would not be so sure. There are locations in the USA, Republican strongholds, where climate change is having a big impact due to pest migration deforesting the landscape. The Republicans living and owning homes in these newly formed moonscapes tend to no longer deny climate change, but they still deny that it is caused by human activity. Not a good indicator that the Republicans will come around even after the impacts are large.

  12. Alexandre:

    The issue is no longer scientific. It’s a PR war, and only one side is really good at PR. The other side gets yawns from the audience before they can say Downward Longwave Radiation.

  13. Jim Eager:

    “It’s a PR war…”

    Nature doesn’t give a flying f… about PR and it always bats last, so they’re yawning at their own ignorant peril.

  14. wayne davidson:

    I’ve noticed that all the scientists interviewed except for Gavin were forced to be dealing with the politics of climate science, exactly where the fake skeptics want them to waste their time. Contrarian bluster and luster vanished with his one small piece of science fact checking. I guess more science is needed, hopefully on a grander scale. Read me PBS??

  15. SecularAnimist:

    Jim Eager, the “PR war” is not a war by the deniers against nature, or against science. Scientists make a grave error when they imagine that this is a “war” over science, that will be “won” in the usual scientific manner, by those whose theories and predictions are proved correct by the empirically observed facts of nature.

    It’s a war by the deniers against those who want to take the urgent action needed to phase out CO2 emissions that the science tells we must take if we are to have any hope of preventing the most catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic global warming.

    It’s a war by the deniers on behalf of those who want to rake in trillions of dollars in profit by perpetuating business-as-usual consumption of fossil fuels for decades to come and by obstructing and delaying the phaseout of fossil fuels for as long as possible — no matter what the cost to human civilization.

    And that’s the war that the deniers have been winning for a generation and longer, since the severity of the problem was well and widely understood, and the need for urgent action was recognized — during which time, fossil fuel consumption and its associated GHG emissions have not only grown, but their growth has accelerated.

  16. SecularAnimist:

    wayne davidson wrote: “I’ve noticed that all the scientists interviewed except for Gavin were forced to be dealing with the politics of climate science, exactly where the fake skeptics want them to waste their time.”

    On the contrary — the LAST thing the deniers want is for scientists to be doing what James Hansen is doing, which is bringing the authority and credibility of their scientific expertise to the front lines of the “politics” and becoming powerful voices for taking action.

    Where the fake skeptics want climate scientists to “waste their time” is staying bogged down, going in circles in endless, repetitive, pseudo-scientific, pseudo-debates about what the scientific facts are, as though this were a genuine scientific controversy to be decided through the normal mechanisms of science.

    And unfortunately, the fake skeptics have been all too successful at that, in part I think because that’s the place where scientists feel comfortable — debating and discussing scientific issues, as opposed to engaging in political and policy struggles over the actions that should be taken as a result of what their scientific knowledge and understanding is telling us.

    It’s much like the ongoing thread on this site about sea-level rise, where a blatantly dishonest denialist troll has kept a bunch of knowledgeable people busily engrossed for days on end, repeatedly refuting falsehoods and bogus pseudo-arguments that have already been refuted millions of times.

    Imagine if instead of refuting that troll’s disingenuous nonsense with careful, detailed, patient — and utterly pointless — responses, all of those knowledgeable people had instead spent that time writing emails to their elected representatives demanding action to reduce GHG emissions. Now imagine that grassroots lobbying effort multiplied by the time and effort invested in zillions of similarly pointless “scientific rebuttals” to similarly dishonest deniers on blogs all over the Internet.

    THAT is what the deniers don’t want scientists to spend their time doing.

  17. Leonard Evens:

    #11. My point is that eventually reality will win out, even for Republicans. But it may take 50 years, by which time, it won’t make any differences. The Republican grandchildren of today’s Tea Partiers my wonder what their grandparents were doing, but the Party will simply deny that they really ever opposed doing anything about climate change when they could.

    Or they will blame anyone else than themselves.

    Maybe I am naive, but I can’t believe that North Carolinians living in coastal areas are still gling to be denying sea level rise when they see their houses under water.

  18. john mcmanus:

    My takeaway is the facial language . Climate Scientists are matter of fact: Dressler, Hayhoe. Deniers are smug but at the same time attention seeking. Singers demeanour shouts look at me! look at me!.

    I know who I trust.

    John McManus

  19. CRV9:

    I agree with Mr. John P. Reiman @2.
    I think that it is not always about indeologies. Many parts, it is about the green, money. Thing is that the sceptic avtivists can make a linging doing so. It is a billion dollar industry they have created from religious areas and tabacco areas, whereas the warmist avtivists can’t make any living doing this unless you’re a climate scientists. But then you’re too bust doing the real works. And the sceptics’d fight like hell because it is their livelihoods. too. That’s the big difference.

    However, I have to say that you’re getting your messages through or educating your surrogates. I’ve seen yahoo science forums for a while and I must say there are more people who can actually explain the science of AGW very well than before. Many are metioning this site, too.
    You know, forums like one at yahoo, cnn or other mediums are the places where real battles are fought.
    You should arrange your site to cater to them to equip them with good explanations and real science to counter the memes. Keep in mind “you feed a man once but teach him how to fish … ” something like that? Make sure you also tell your surrogates how to think in a scientific ways when you debunk sceptics’ memes. You can’t debunk every, each meme but if you teach people how to think, analyze in a scientific way. They can be on their way. Just my 2 cents.

  20. Jim Eager:

    I’m aware of that, SA. My point was this will be a war with no winners. In the end no amount of profit will shield those funding denial from the consequences of their actions, but unfortunately, nature will inflict those consequences not only the participants in the war, but on the innocent as well, which means just about every species on the planet.

  21. Dan Lufkin:

    I’ve been working on the physics of AGW since the mid-1960s (Bert Bolin was my thesis advisor) and I’ve now reached the reluctant conclusion that the Bad Guys have already won the PR war — the only war that counts.

    It will be a generation until the political will to do anything constructive can be resurrected and by then it will likely be too late to actually accomplish anything useful. Sure, I’m pessimistic, but I really don’t see any basis for rational optimism.

  22. Steve Metzler:

    Unfortunately, the video is only accessible from a U.S. IP address (and all the networks have copped on to the X-Forwarded-For header trick. It was too well publicised). However, there are ways…

    I really liked the way Hockenberry had this barely disguised look of incredulity on his face when he was interviewing the AGW deniers. However, I would have liked to see them push the deniers a bit harder. For instance, it wasn’t evident when Monckton started making his first public appearances that he was a way-out-there conspiracy theorist, but now that he has shown his true colours of late… well, they could have got some mileage out of that. It won’t be long before the good lord becomes too toxic even for the likes of WUWT.

    Still, perhaps a portion of the public that was previously unaware of what’s really going on behind the scenes here has at least been afforded a glimpse of what the ‘motivated rejection’ of science looks like. But I won’t hold my breath.

  23. Hank Roberts:

    > yahoo, cnn or other mediums are the places where real battles are fought.

    They may be real, or they may be bots there to waste your time and distract the audience. Track what’s posted — google the quoted string — and look at the timing when a new talking point starts to circulate, and how many copies of the exact same phrase appear day after day. You can’t fight the open end of the tubes, they’re just pouring out copies of stuff, no thought, no editing, nobody home there.

    Point to good answers — Skepticalscience is good for short clear answers.
    Look into where the stuff is being shoveled into the tubes. That’s the problem.

  24. Susan Anderson:

    Fake skepticism needed definition at the start. Coby puts it simply thus (h/t Planet3.0):

    The Faux Skeptic – any study that in any way is consistent with a warming world caused by human activity is met with immediate and intense suspicion and scrutiny and ever escalating demands for more evidence. No assumptions of anything, no matter how reasonable, are allowed, everything must be derived again from first principles. Simultaneously, every vapid and transparently, embarrassingly wrong blog post put up on Watts up With That or Climate Etc is swallowed whole, pointers to the blindingly obvious refutations are either invisible or met with the disbelief described in the previous sentence.
    the hypocrisy of pretending to be a skeptic about everything except anything that goes against the scientific consensus.

    I was nauseated by the excessive and excessively polite coverage given to the contemptible Fred Singer (and others). Eli Rabett covered one of his many egregious performances here:
    “This is one of those strange little stories that you find Richard Lindzen crawling about at the bottom …”.

    A couple of useful answers extracted from this mildly interesting discussion:

    John Hockenberry: 
    Julie, I think the planet will answer that question. In many ways “Climate of Doubt” is the story of how difficult it is for a democracy to act in a crisis until the fire is in the stairwell. Coll says it well at the end of our story. Circumstances will move us forward if people on their own, can’t.

    John Hockenberry: 
    The saddest thing about this story is that we heard mostly absolute certainty and dismissive confidence among our skeptic friends while it was our scientist friends were quick to say that doubt is how science is conducted, people questioning each other’s work all the time. The doubt of the scientists was always real but was always about how much we know about the planet and need to know not about the trend of global warming.
    Their search for truth and quest to challenge each other’s findings was exploited as “debate” and “uncertainty” by people in the political world.

  25. Susan Anderson:

    There was also inadequate mention of more direct forms of persecution offered to the best climate scientists and advocates and their families.

  26. Hank Roberts:

    > we heard mostly absolute certainty and dismissive
    > confidence among [skeptics] … doubt is how science
    > is conducted, people questioning each other’s work

    “The best lack all conviction, while the worst. Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand ….”

  27. Peter Backes:

    I would say ‘thanks’ for that but I’m feeling a bit nauseous.

  28. Observer:

    Forgive me if I sound trollish, but…

    I think it’s a big waste of time and sanity to convince hostile troglodytes on this issue. Those of you involved with science would spend your effort more productively if you’d work on investing and gaining financial and land assets. Life will get more competitive and expensive as climate change rolls out – there will be plenty of everything, but only if you can afford it.

    I can’t predict the details, but just step back. Add a modestly adverse condition to a balanced system. Now add competition for slightly less usable land, greater pressure from disease, etc. Those with cash, good land and a little political pull will be fine, the stragglers, less so. Lots of public hand-wringing and zero relief for the stragglers will ensue.

    Just make sure your research is as accurate as you are able to make it, make any public statements concise and factual and leave it. They can draw their own conclusions about the meaning of a half or 2/3 meter sea level rise, “unpredictable changes in storm intensity” etc. If you’ve put cash away it’ll be their problem, if you haven’t it will be yours.

  29. Isotopious:

    I didn’t buy the premise.

    How can the Republicans, etc who are anti-global warming be used to explain “the silence” in the Democrats?

    All the examples were Republican, like Bob Inglis.

    Very unconvincing.

  30. PeteB:

    I thought it was good

    One suggestion – rather than relying on (or as well as) the 97% of climate scientists survey I would use the argument from wikipedia on scientific opinion on climate change :

    …National and international science academies and scientific societies have assessed the current scientific opinion, in particular on recent global warming. These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 which states:

    An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system… There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.
    No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion

    I think it is easy for contrarians to raise doubts in the viewers / readers mind about one survey (however legitimate or not these doubts are) but it is less easy to dismiss all the worlds National and International scientific bodies.

  31. Jim Larsen:

    17 Leonard E said, “Maybe I am naive, but I can’t believe that North Carolinians living in coastal areas are still gling to be denying sea level rise when they see their houses under water.”

    Admitting an asset is toxic drops its value. Scale to a coastal plain.

    20 Jim E said, ” In the end no amount of profit will shield those funding denial from the consequences of their actions,”

    Just barely, in a “Oops, I was wrong and my descendants and my planet will have a mess to clean up. Fortunately, everyone will have flying cars and jetpacks and all sorts of nifty things, so they’ll solve it. There, no worries.”

  32. Susan Anderson:

    The aforementioned Rabett link is about how Singer bullied Revelle into an exhausting meeting that could be misrepresented after Revelle’s death. The reference to Lindzen distracts from the actual subject, Singer’s appalling behavior, my apologies.

    How did Singer persuade people he is a climate scientist, let alone a credible scientist? My Dad, who generally tries to stay out of all this (he’ll be 90 in December) wanted to know.

    The problem of demonstrating what expertise is not endangers us all as people appoint their own expertise regardless of truth and reality.

    [Response: Because people love to be told what they want to hear. Singer has no credibility among scientists, but his avuncular stage persona is effective if there is no one there to point out the BS. – gavin]

    [Response: What Gavin said. -mike]

  33. Alexandre:

    Re SecularAnimist

    I agree. I support not only scientists, but institutions like NOAA, NASA, USGS and the like endorsing a public campaign, with statements as simple and direct as we see in the tobacco issue in some countries. Things like billboards or full page magazine ads, with messages such as:

    “We thought Arctic sea ice would be as low only in fifty years. It’s going now.”

    “Remember last summer’s heatwave? That will be our mild summer in 2060. Protect our children’s future. Stop global warming.”

    “40% of our freshwater comes from that glacier. Protect our water. Stop warming.”

    The general public is NOT currently aware of the position of these institutions, and that helps only the denier campaign. Elaborate public statements buried in the middle of a very technical website (such as NOAA’s) have a very limited effect when it comes to PR.

  34. J Bowers:

    It’s a shame Myron Ebell’s transcript isn’t available to read at PBS. When asked if he turns out to be wrong what would he do, his response was that he’d say sorry. Very big of him. That’s all okay, then. No hard feelings.

  35. Edward Greisch:

    It played for 11 seconds.

  36. SecularAnimist:

    Jim Eager wrote: “My point was this will be a war with no winners. In the end no amount of profit will shield those funding denial from the consequences of their actions …”

    The fossil fuel oligarchs who are ultimately responsible for the generation-long campaign of denial, deceit, obstruction and delay are the type of personalities who are willing to risk a great deal of other people’s money, resources, well-being and lives for even a small chance of winning great riches. They are gamblers. They are accustomed to getting the prize when they win, and sticking other people with the losses when they lose. That’s how they see global warming.

    They are mega-sociopaths. It literally means nothing to them if billions of human beings starve. As long as there is a plausible chance that a world devastated by unmitigated global warming will still have the resources to support one percent of the current human population, their strategy is to go for it — and to accumulate enough wealth and power to ensure that they will be in the richest and most powerful one-tenth of one percent.

    The rest of us are feedstock for Soylent Green, as far as they are concerned.

  37. Tom Adams:

    #1, first you need to understand what I a saying. I am saying that lots of people in the U.S. believe that global warming is occurring and that this warming is not caused by human activity. 25% of Obama supporters believe this:


    25% is also the value for the general population.

  38. Tom Adams:

    Frank Luntz thinks that we should be making the argument to US voters that switching away from fossil fuels is necessary for US security and will eliminate all non-greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuel use. It’s possible to transform US energy policy without bothering to convince a single skeptic or denier.

    [Response: What Frank Luntz thinks? Or Says? This argument doesn’t hold water. If these were the only considerations, it would be an equally good argument for developing all available conventional and unconventional fossil fuel reserves, mining the oil sands, drilling increasingly deep for petroleum, and continuing to blow up the tops of mountains to get at the coal treasure that lies beneath. And of course, natural gas. If you don’t somehow account for the externalities,, i.e. the costs of the damage done to the environment, then national security issues alone do not take us in the direction we need to go as far as climate change mitigation is concerned. -mike]

  39. Kevin McKinney:

    An excellent account of the history explaining why we are where we are today.

  40. Fred Magyar:

    Craig Nazor@3 Re: recent NPR program on energy policy and the economy.

    I listened to the same program and seriously considered picking up the phone and calling in to comment.

    However, I decided it would be a complete waste of my time.

    My personal opinion is that one can’t have an intelligent conversation about energy policy and the current economic paradigm without addressing these topics from a systems analysis perspective.

    IMHO, it would probably be necessary to address issues such as human population dynamics, ecological overshoot, resource limits and the limits of natural sinks for pollution and waste streams that our global industrial civilization produces, etc… That, BTW, is just the tip of the iceberg!

    Humans have built up very complex interconnected systems mostly dependent on the highly concentrated, and until recently, relatively inexpensive, energy contained in fossil fuels.The EROEI of these fuels is now in rapid decline.

    The vast majority of our leaders be they political or from corporations together with the public at large don’t seem to understand that all economic growth depends on continued access to high EROEI fuels coupled with a virtually infinite capacity to absorb our waste streams. Neither of which are available in the real world! The ‘Economy’ is a wholly owned subsidiary of nature and is subject to natural laws, the objections of politicians and economists, notwithstanding.

    The way I see things is that collectively we find ourselves facing a series of predicaments wrapped within multiple dilemmas.

    Granted that in the grand scheme of things perhaps our impact on the planet is still within an order of magnitude less than the changes brought about by O2 producing cyanobacteria circa 2.5 billion years ago. Collectively our capacity to change our final destiny may not be much greater than a vat containing Saccharomyces cerevisiae happily fermenting the sugars from barley and hops.

    I’m with Paul Cherfurka here: Climbing The Ladder Of Awareness,

    Trying to find solutions and impose them on the population at large is a highly suspect endeavor and it is probably as frustrating as attempting to teach pigs how to rollerskate… the only result is that it pisses the pigs off! >;-)


  41. Jim Eager:

    Again, SA, I don’t disagree with your characterisation of the oligarchs, but the one precent’s assets will crumble and vapourise along with all the rest. Only those who die before that happens will avoid feeling the consequences.

  42. Jim Larsen:

    29 Isotopious asks, “How can the Republicans, etc who are anti-global warming be used to explain “the silence” in the Democrats?”

    Because Democrats always let Republicans frame the debate, including what to debate, the phrases and labels to use, and the meanings of words. Democrats politely mentioned that they’d like to talk about the issue, if it wasn’t too much trouble. Republicans ignored them and kept talking about Important Stuff.

  43. CRV9:

    Sceptic activists’ main intended target is the general public. That’s where votes count. All those their conferences and meetings and websites are their training grounds, school. Rhetrics and talking points are not effective without ‘solid’ explanations to back them up. Then they bring them to the public using every public means.
    Thing is this is a self sustained machine because there is money in it. That’s why it is very strong religious flavor to it. Do you remember a Florida preacher who declaired end of days? And he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to pot billboads up and formed a caravan to traveled up to the New York. Many people said he was a fool, nutsjob, … but he collected several million dollars in donations, tax free.
    That elements are latched on this issue. They are diversifying with their potofolios. They did with seatbelts, tabacco, evolution, science in general. Do you know how much Gren Beck makes? Do you know how much money what other guy’s name? makes? That’s why sceptics are closely connected to them because the activists can make a linging doing this.
    Sorry, this is really nothing to do with the main issues or the video. But you’d have to know who you’re debating to. Who you want to convey your messages? You can’t mix them up. Who you’re fighting against? It is not only the fossil fuel industry or ideology. It is part of their(activists) livlihoods.

  44. BillS:

    Re: L. Evens, #1 & #17

    If it were only climate science that some Republicans (and more than a few Democrats) deny/ignore/dont’ believe (chose your verb) your prediction just might come true. But it’s not just climate science, it is SCIENCE that is being denied as an acceptable method for explaining the world about us.

    This anti-science strain is nothing new in this country and, with declining educational achievement in science and mathematics, it is not likely to disappear–ever.

  45. Tegiri Nenashi:

    Tu late, our children would blame conservatories for what they have done.

    I liked the question “What if you are wrong”? He nailed this oil sucking troglobyte right into the head. I’m gonna use this every time anybody tries to play fancy with questions. Because I’m impotant.

  46. Tom Adams:

    #38 Luntz does not address your logic that exploiting all fossil fuels would have the same result. But it seems to me the the argument against that is that it’s a short term strategy because fossil fuels are finite. And the price of the fossil fuels would still go up since it’s set by a global market when trade is functioning; the cost will go up as well. Also, incentivising US fossil fuels is a market distorting action.

    Concerning “It these were the only considerations…”, Luntz is just saying that there is more than one way to skin a cat. The fact that there is more than one way to skin a cat is of course not the only consideration in skinning a cat.

    Also, we a new expensive infrastructure for non-fossil sources. The argument that gets that funded is a good argument. National security based arguments for large infrastructure project have a good track record in the US. Infrastructure can tilt the cost equation, perhaps tilt it over a tipping point.

    Centrist politicians (blue dog Democrats and the few centrist Republicans still left) in the US need talking points that will allow them to win elections and vote against fossil fuels and in favor of alternatives. These guys have to win elections in areas with lots of anti-AGW voters.

    How does Singer do when he tries to argues in favor of the mercury in your babies brain from a coal fired power plant?

    I don’t think we should rely only on the strategy of trying to convince the US voter to believe in AGW.

    I am assuming that the goal is preventing dangerous climate change. The goal is not merely to convince people that the IPCC is right, that’s just one possible means to the end.

  47. Phil L:

    J Bowers #34: The full transcript is on the PBS Frontline website.

    JOHN HOCKENBERRY: What if you’re wrong?
    MYRON EBELL: What if anybody is wrong in this debate?
    JOHN HOCKENBERRY: What if you’re wrong?
    MYRON EBELL: Then I’ll have to say I’m sorry and I wish we could speed up our efforts to reverse the policies that we have supported here at CEI.
    JOHN HOCKENBERRY: [voice-over] Apologies or not, inaction has consequences.

  48. Tom Adams:

    #47 Looks like “What if you are wrong?” is a great question to ask. It seemed to trip up Ebell.

    But Singer would probably smugly say “I am not”. I wonder if that would work?

    Any data on how the deniers deal with that question?

  49. Isotopious:


    Weak, weak. While there is some argument that Obama is trying to woe some swing voters /Reagan Democrats, it’s just as likely he will lose votes due to his silence on climate. Just as likely he will lose simply because no one will bother to vote. Thus, there really is no credible reason not to make climate a large plank of the campaign.

    I’m afraid the program lacked any objective basis whatsoever…. It’s garbage.

  50. flxible:

    “…. national security issues alone do not take us in the direction we need to go as far as climate change mitigation is concerned …. ”
    The direction we need to go is to convince enough “important people” to get cracking, and national security is a great motivator in the USA.

  51. Hank Roberts:

    > get cracking

    _stop_ cracking.

  52. Craig Nazor:

    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?

  53. Ecosystem:

    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..

  54. J Bowers:

    @ 47 Phil L

    Thanks for that.

  55. Leonard Evens:

    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.

  56. John Mashey:

    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.

  57. mark E:

    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?

  58. Chris Crawford:

    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.

  59. Steve:

    @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.”

  60. Bill Woolverton:

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

  61. Unsettled Scientist:

    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.

  62. Jim Larsen:

    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.

  63. Kevin McKinney:

    “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.

  64. SecularAnimist:

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

    Enough for what?

  65. J Bowers:

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

  66. Radge Havers:

    @ 61 


    (sometimes the root holds a key)

  67. Craig Nazor:

    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.

  68. Jim Larsen:

    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.

  69. Steven Sullivan:

    #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.

  70. deconvoluter:

    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.

  71. simon abingdon:

    #32 Susan Anderson

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

  72. deconvoluter:

    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.

  73. Susan Anderson:

    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).

  74. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    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 http://www.aclu.org/national-security_technology-and-liberty/are-you-living-constitution-free-zone ), 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.

  75. Tom Adams:

    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.

  76. Kevin McKinney:

    #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.

  77. M. Joyce:

    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.

  78. deconvoluter:

    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]

  79. Superman1:

    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.

  80. Jim:

    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.

  81. Jeffrey Davis:

    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?

  82. Tom Adams:

    “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.

  83. Pekka Kostamo:

    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.

  84. Ray Ladbury:

    Superman1 gets it wrong again.


  85. Rob Ellis:

    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.

  86. Kevin McKinney:

    #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.

  87. Superman1:

    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.

  88. Superman1:

    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.

  89. flxible:

    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?

  90. Steve Fish:

    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

  91. Jeffrey Davis:

    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.

  92. Jim Larsen:

    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.

  93. Hank Roberts:

    > 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.

  94. hmoseley:

    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.

  95. Eric Rowland:

    @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.

  96. GSW:

    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.

  97. Superman1:

    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!

  98. Adan R.:


    The sceptic case is far more substantial than that,

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

  99. J Bowers:

    “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.

  100. Steve Metzler:

    #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.

  101. Superman1:

    Steve Fish #90,

    “In a science context you need some expert peer reviewed studies that, for example, demonstrate that cheap fossil fuel use is an “addiction.””

    Rather than ‘cherry-pick’ peer-reviewed references to support one’s viewpoint and call it scholarship, as you, WUWT, and Steve Goddard like to do, my proposal is as follows. Each reader of my original post and your response can look at both and ask which passes the sanity test: 1) Are people I know really addicted to high intensity cheap energy use that only fossil fuel can supply today, or are they more than willing to make hard sacrifices to save the Earth? 2) How many people do I know that have given up aircraft flying, or long-distance traveling, except for the most dire emergencies? 3) How many people have relocated to walk or bicycle to work, specifically to reduce energy use? 4) How many people have downsized their living quarters drastically, not because they’ve been unemployed for six months, but because they truly care about the future of this planet? 5) How many people have changed their diet drastically for one that requires minimum energy input? 6) How many people have forsaken all but the most necessary items that require energy for processing?

    I personally don’t know any who do any of the above, although I do know many people who talk a good game of being concerned about climate change.

  102. Hank Roberts:

    > The steps described in the paper are very minimal

    Yep, a common observation looking at history, and easy to make in hindsight. If they’d known what you know, it’s only reasonable to think they’d have done more than they did.

    We all wish we’d learned more sooner.

    Look at the storm recovery as it develops. Will anyone in a leadership position ask people to rebuild for the new sea level, thinking ahead a century, or two centuries? That’s one of the surest consequences of warming over the longer term.

    Will businesses and politicians dare ask for that? Will people figure it out for themselves and make the sacrifices needed?

    Or do we be businesslike and discount the future down to worthless out a few decades from now and do the rebuilding low-bid and low-elevation?

    Dunno. Time will tell.

  103. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Superman1 — 30 Oct 2012 @ 8:01 PM:

    You are dodging your very silly addiction comment. There is no relationship between popular culture practices and just about any scholarly definition of addiction. You have not shown any indication that you actually know what scholarship really involves. I believe that if, and when, the cultural war invented by the denialists is shown for what it is, popular culture will change its attitudes.

    Just for your further education, in my community most have made the necessary sacrifices you outline, or have expressed the goal to do so. Among my immediate neighbors, we are all carbon negative. That is, we are all responsible for sequestering more CO2 than we produce from fossil sources. We all think that our standard of living, by almost any comparison, is greater than the US population as a whole. Further, there are several western cultures that already have a carbon footprint of half or much less than that of the US, and they all have a standard of living rating above that of the US.

    It is hard to differentiate your rants from trolling. Steve

  104. Superman1:

    Steve Fish #103,

    “Among my immediate neighbors, we are all carbon negative. That is, we are all responsible for sequestering more CO2 than we produce from fossil sources.”

    I will leave it to the readers of this blog to judge the credibility of your unsupported assertions above vs my comments on energy addiction above. I have little doubt whose comments will pass the sanity test.

  105. Dan H.:

    If one defines “addiction,” as something you cannot live without, then electricity certainly qualifies. Our culture is not only addicted to electricity, but would collapse without it. Add the fuels necessary for home heating and transportation, and most of the Western world relies on energy. The issue is one of replacing this energy efficiency. Contrary to some claims, the public is willing to pay a little more for “clean” energy.


  106. deconvoluter:

    A suggestion for an article on weather forecasts.

    When this ugly storm is really over, I wonder if RC could host an article on the role and accuracy of the weather forecasting involved?

    The sort of comments following popular blogs are a mish mash of links to contrarian web sites and improvised falsehoods of all kinds. One such is the smearing of short term weather forecasts. The purpose is to undermine confidence in all computer simulations and the appeal is particularly to older readers who did experience the earlier less accurate forecasts.

  107. Tom Adams:

    There are lots of problems with the addiction metaphor. Addiction has a profound impact on the individual, so giving up the addiction has a big positive impact for the person. But, if a single individual gives up fossil fuel use it has zero positive impact as a practical matter. So the fact that individuals don’t voluntarily give up fossil fuel use means nothing unless you take the addiction metaphor too far. As Hanson points out, we need political action in individual conservation, and precisely because the addiction metaphor does not work.

    Confusing metaphors with facts can lead to bad conclusions. Confusing “you and like a rose” with “you are a rose” might cause one to pour plant food on one’s girlfriend for instance.

  108. SecularAnimist:

    Superman1, I think you have demonstrated to your satisfaction that nobody meets your standards of righteousness.

    Now, do you have anything to say that’s actually useful?

  109. Tom Adams:

    Superman1 #101

    You are making the classic error of confusing a metaphor with a fact and using it as a premise for reasoning.

    This is why you are so focused on the notion of individuals giving up fossil fuels. If it’s really an addiction, then abstinence is important.

    Contrast with James Hanson’s view that political action is the important thing and that individual conservation is of no practical importance.

    For instance, tax policy that completely priced in the cost of reversing the externalities would solve the climate change problem precisely because fossil fuels are not opium.

  110. Superman1:

    Dan H. #105,

    ” Contrary to some claims, the public is willing to pay a little more for “clean” energy.


    The article states that, as a result of a survey, the public would be willing to pay about fifty cents a day more for ‘clean’ energy. I distrust surveys; they can be ‘gamed’ too easily. I place more weight on behaviors and actions. For example, in Spring 2008, gasoline was climbing to near $4.00/gal. There were many groups coming to the DC area to protest these prices, claiming they were being driven to near bankruptcy. What kept this discontent from becoming a near-riot was the collapse of the economy in 2008 and the subsequent drop in oil and gas prices.

    Additionally, attempts over the years to impose even a modest Federal surcharge/tax on gas to reduce demand have been met with substantial resistance. If there is no other choice, people will pay higher prices for energy, clean or otherwise, but I would be very leery about their willingness to voluntarily pay more for clean energy. Besides, for the fifty cents per day quoted in the article, what substitute clean energy is that going to buy?

  111. Dan H.:

    I found the forecast to be quite accurate in this case. Granted, the European model was the most accurate, forecasting the left turn early on, but by Friday, everyone was acknowleding that the storm would hit the East Coast with a vengeance. The only question was the timing and exact location of landfall. Manditory evacuations were issued in the places that did experience the greatest flooding. Overall, I cannot see how someone could criticize the hurricane experts.

  112. Superman1:

    Tom Adams #109,

    “This is why you are so focused on the notion of individuals giving up fossil fuels.”

    In #88, I made the following statement: ” I see little hope that we can overcome the addiction to the high energy use lifestyle that cheap fossil fuels can underwrite.” It’s not fossil fuels per se, it’s the fact that the way fossil fuels are priced now, where the focus is on the front end costs and the back end is essentially neglected, their price is sufficiently low to allow most Americans to maintain a high energy usage lifestyle.

    “Contrast with James Hanson’s view that political action is the important thing and that individual conservation is of no practical importance.

    For instance, tax policy that completely priced in the cost of reversing the externalities would solve the climate change problem precisely because fossil fuels are not opium.”

    I have the highest admiration for James Hansen; he has been essentially the Paul Revere of climate change. But, I would need to see his full statement from which you extracted the excerpt above before providing a detailed response.

    Realize one fact; political action will not come without the strong support of the public. Look at smoking. The Surgeon General’s Report detailing the adverse health impacts from smoking came out in 1964. According to the NYT reporter who recently described the post-64 history, the information presented had essentially no impact on smoking. What made an impact was the imposition of economic penalties (added taxes, etc) and the imposition of mandates (no smoking in various facilities, etc). If it were left up to the addicts, the smokers in this case, I would maintain the mandates would never have been imposed. What made them possible was that smokers constituted only 42% of the adult population in 1964, which meant that there were 58% non-smokers. Many were sufficiently offended by the smell and other consequences from smoking that their having a majority, along with the scientific basis provided by the 64 Report, meant that mandates could be imposed essentially on the minority.

    I maintain we don’t have that majority today with respect to the cheap energy addicts, and that’s why political action is arm-waving at this point. In four Presidential/Vice-Presidential debates, we couldn’t get the candidates to say word one about climate change. That’s where we are relative to political action today. Show me the detailed Roadmap that will take us from the reality of today’s absence of political action to the political action that Hansen desires.

    Considering your final statement on tax policy. In #87, I stated: “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’.” It’s essentially an alternative way of stating what you have stated. Basically, the price of fossil fuel is being kept artificially low because disposal costs are being ignored. Yes, I can wave my arms as you are doing, and say that if we price fossil fuels to include their back-end costs and make the price competitive to renewables, we would go a long way toward solving the climate change problem. But, that’s purely wishful thinking; there’s zero public appetite for that to happen.

    Until the cheap energy addiction of the public as a body is addressed, we will remain where we are today, in complete stasis toward making any progress on the climate change problem.

  113. Hank Roberts:



    He’s made a serious effort at being a good example of individual conservation; somewhere he describes putting in a geothermal heat exchanger. That’s a significant personal expense up front with a quite long payback.

  114. Jim Larsen:

    113 Hank R said, “somewhere he describes putting in a geothermal heat exchanger. That’s a significant personal expense up front with a quite long payback.”

    I just posted the US government’s stance, which is that there’s a 5-10 year payback. Are you saying they’re wrong, or are you saying 7.5 years is “quite long”?

  115. Steve Metzler:

    Gets to me too, when people can’t bother to get Hansen’s name right. Kinda makes you wonder what other ‘little’ details about the science, or otherwise, they can manage to overlook.

  116. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Superman1 — 31 Oct 2012 @ 1:00 PM:

    It is interesting that you use tobacco as a comparison for your claim that fossil energy use is an addiction. Nicotine actually meets definitions for an addictive substance. The interesting part is that the very same people that the tobacco companies paid to create a movement that showed the tobacco-cancer link science are running the global warming denial campaign. Denial is the culprit.

    I agree that wasteful living in popular culture has been encouraged by inexpensive fossil fuels, but it isn’t an addiction. To characterize it as an addiction results in the wrong solutions. Steve

  117. flxible:

    You guys do just go on and on about definitions – how about instead of addiction we call it a conundrum?

    The problem is one rarely touched on > the majority of our personal [and communal] infrastructure is fossil fuel dependent and there is no money to replace it, particularly on an individual level. Why would I want to throw out things that have already incurred an emissions cost to produce, in order to buy things that will have additional emissions costs to produce, with money I’d have to borrow, when I can get by with the old ‘stuff’?

  118. Hank Roberts:

    > Are you saying …, or are you saying ….

    Nope. Generally, I’m saying what I type, nothing more.

    Individual numbers on payback are what matter, not averages: YMMV and add the costs of borrowing if you don’t have cash.

    I’m saying Hansen’s name is spelled Hansen, and that having already installed geothermal was a significant conservation choice by an individual. So I doubt the claim above that “Hanson” doesn’t think individual efforts are worthwhile.

  119. Tom Adams:

    Hansen says:

    “The problem with asking people to pledge to reduce their fossil fuel use is that even if lots of people do, one effect is reduced demand for fossil fuel and thus a lower price–making it easier for someone else to burn…it is necessary for people to reduce their emissions, but it is not sufficient if the government does not adopt policies that cause much of the fossil fuels to be left in the ground permanently.”


  120. Edward Greisch:

    The video still dies after 5 seconds.

  121. John McCormick:

    RE #117

    flxible, your comment is the keystone of the whole discussion about individual life changes to reduce fossil fuel dependence.

    When Congress muddled through debate on electric utility deregulation a prime sticking point was who would pick up the stranded assets costs of electric generation equipment found too expensive to operate but still having years of on line potential.

    Our homes, businesses, lifestyle are all about assets which rapidly become stranded as energy costs rise if and when a carbon tax is implemented. If not on a global scale, that would be a meaningless gesture.

    Imagine the global stranded assets that would arise; their cost to the global economy and the cost of retrofitting from economic and AGW emissions standpoints.

    A global conundrum. We give no thought to what you describe. We only want to get back to 280 ppm.

    John McCormick

  122. John Mashey:

    Stranded assets: at the very least, one can think hard about not building more that will be stranded. As it stands, in the US, a great deal of sea-level infrastucture is on its way to being stranded assets, sooner or later.

    Rational government planning tries hard to make sure that new {infrastructure, homes} take account of futures within their economic life, while typically grandfathering some that exist. I doubt that any area demands that people tear down their houses and rebuild them as net-zero buildings, even while passing laws that say new homes shall be so by year xxxx.

    Geothermal: likewise, as Hank says YMMV (amusing reminder: I once wrote a report in 1990 called “Your Mileage May Vary..But If Your Car Were A Computer, It Would Vary More.” which was still used in some CS course at Berkeley as late as 2010.)
    Just as the payback on solar varies (trees matter), s does that for geothermal. It is a whole lot cheaper to do geothermal on an empty lot before a house is built, or in some place with enough open land near the house, which I suspect was Hansen’s case.

  123. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by flxible — 31 Oct 2012 @ 9:17 PM:

    This is not complicated. Let’s say that you want to purchase a new Energy Star refrigerator to replace your old one that is still working. Take the energy use for both and find out if the electricity savings will pay for the new one before it is worn out. After it is paid for, the longer it will run the more savings you get. If you need a loan but can’t afford it (or just wish to dodge the interest), you had better begin saving for the new refrigerator in advance. Beyond economics, if you value reduction of CO2 emissions you should figure in something for this.

    I can recommend “The Carbon Buster’s Home Energy Handbook” by Stoyke if you would like quick and dirty calculations for both cost and carbon savings. Steve

  124. Superman1:

    John McCormick #121,

    “Our homes, businesses, lifestyle are all about assets which rapidly become stranded as energy costs rise if and when a carbon tax is implemented. If not on a global scale, that would be a meaningless gesture.

    Imagine the global stranded assets that would arise; their cost to the global economy and the cost of retrofitting from economic and AGW emissions standpoints.”
    You have identified the central problem with the infrastructure architecture of our country. The architecture was designed based on cheap and plentiful energy, supplied by fossil fuel at the time and presently. Homes were built dangerously close to coastal and inland waters. Many homes were not designed with energy efficiency in mind. Many homes were far larger than required for the number of residents, requiring far more energy for heating and cooling than necessary. Many homes were built in areas essentially unlivable if it were not for large amounts of energy for heating or cooling. Places like Las Vegas or Phoenix come to mind. Many homes were built in communities far from shopping and/or far from work, requiring large energy expenditures for both activities. Even if we as a nation were to try to reduce fossil fuel expenditures in the interim (which is wishful thinking at this point), given the infrastructure architecture we have designed, there is a rather high energy threshold requirement for most people.

  125. Hank Roberts:

    Supe, does “preaching to the choir” ring any bells?

  126. Ray Ladbury:

    As you have been haunting the blog a couple of months now and have yet to get anything right, I feel quite confident in saying you got it wrong again. What is more, your absolutely refuse to address the facts–such as the fact that consensus matters. Facts matter. Peer-reviewed research matters. It is not simply a matter of who can be more persuasive or sound more logical. Sometimes reality is not “logical”. I’ll stick with reality.

  127. Superman1:

    Hank Roberts #125,

    “Supe, does “preaching to the choir” ring any bells?”

    Specifics, please. Also, how come you never replied to #97? Whenever I present factual responses to questionable assertions, you and The Three MisQuoteers run for the hills!

  128. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Superman1 — 1 Nov 2012 @ 6:42 PM:

    A troll gets desperate for a response.


  129. patrick:

    Anonymity of money-as-speech corrupts. Absolute anonymity of money-as-speech
    corrupts absolutely. One begins see this in the events documented in this
    “Frontline” report. It is even more evident in the next “Fronline” report.
    Too bad the Supreme Court doesn’t know it. Worse yet that the Court should ever imagine in their pharisaic jurisprudence that it has anything to do with originalism. “Everything they do is done for show…they love the place of honor…” The Court’s reasoning now allows political contributions to be scrubbed of identity by operatives naming their bank account(s) for American tradition, etc.

  130. flxible:

    Steve Fish @123 – But it’s only “not complicated” for those with a penchant for buying their way out of the problems over-consumption has gotten us into. The question is, why should I make any economic sacrifice to purchase new energy-efficient appliances when I can find already existing ones free, or nearly so, if I do happen to need them? In point of fact, I’ve replaced my fridge 3 times in the 30 years I’ve been in this same place. None of the 3 cost me anything.

    The point I make is, in N America, there is an immense amount of waste of “goods”, things that have had X amount of input to make and distribute [money, labor, emissions], but there’s always something better tomorrow you could purchase to replace it. Which is more “conservative”, using these things for as long as reasonably possible, including repairs, or “recycling” them prematurely and replacing them with other goods that have required additional input in order to increase your “energy efficiency” by a decimal or so?

  131. Roly Gross:

    Favourite quote from a Carolina scientist battered by deniers like NC20 – ‘well the ocean’s gonna dictate what happens’. Rather prescient, I’m assuming half the NC20 ocean front property developments are now in the ocean after Sandy.

  132. Eli Rabett:

    This is rapidly metastasising into a Keystone Kops version of Watergate, with the American Traditions Partnership falling apart.

    After a bunch of American Traditions Partnership papers show up in a meth lab, but the state committee administering election laws can’t do anything about it cause, well, it was a meth lab, the ATP head honcho bleats that it belongs to him, which means the state committee can do anything about it, and then, well, there is a break in

    All this on Halloween

  133. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by flxible — 1 Nov 2012 @ 9:51 PM:

    I am expert at repairing and reusing, but you missed my point. If the new refrigerator is much more efficient it is possible to save both money and carbon emissions. If you keep running the old one you are just throwing away the money and carbon above that of a more efficient refrigerator and this can build up to more than the cost of the new one. It seems to me that your logic would suggest that we should keep all the old appliances, cars, or whatever running forever and this is a path to disaster.

    Further, an old unplugged refrigerator makes an excellent relatively constant temperature container for my home canned food or a fermentation cabinet in the garage. Be creative. Steve

  134. Hank Roberts:

    > Supe … 97, 125
    See above

  135. Hank Roberts:

    > Supe … 97, 125

  136. wili:

    SM at #101–I have done all of those. So now you know someone who has. But I still think collective action is more important than individual action, for the many reasons articulated above.

  137. flxible:

    Steve Fish@133 – It may be possible to save emissions and money, if one has enough money, and time, and large enough inputs of fossil fueled electricity to create a large footprint. For someone who chose many decades ago to minimize their impact on the planet, and chose to live where electricity is hydro generated, money may not be available, and time may be too short to realize any return. In fact the 90’s unit currently performing well in my live-work abode will do it’s job until it dies, and then be properly recycled, because I spent the new fridge money on a marine unit for my retirement home ;)

  138. Hank Roberts:

    > retirement home

    That could use a whole blog worth of discussion about how to live if anyone has a pointer to such a conversation among people who understand what’s happening to climate. And yours makes my 1969 Dodge camper van look almost small. But it’s still got way too big a footprint to move very far very often. It’s mostly potetially earthquake housing.

    The joke that goes with it, heard from another old guy who also owns one: “I told my wife I was going to get her a new kitchen — you should’ve seen her face when I came back with this …”

  139. flxible:

    “it’s still got way too big a footprint to move very far very often”
    It would drink some fuel as a daily driver, but all it needs to do is give me comfortable shelter ahead of inhospitable climatic changes. With primarily 12V amenities, once solar PV is completed there won’t be much of a footprint beyond the rare moves. Too many folks think they need, and are entitled to, a huge living space, preferably in a forest of their own. The Tiny House blog provides some of what you suggest, and the Low Impact Initiative has tons of info including a discussion forum and blog.