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If You See Something, Say Something

Filed under: — mike @ 17 January 2014

Gavin provided a thoughtful commentary about the role of scientists as advocates in his RealClimate piece a few weeks ago.

I have weighed in with my own views on the matter in my op-ed today in this Sunday’s New York Times. And, as with Gavin, my own views have been greatly influenced and shaped by our sadly departed friend and colleague, Stephen Schneider. Those who were familiar with Steve will recognize his spirit and legacy in my commentary. A few excerpts are provided below:

THE overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that human-caused climate change is happening. Yet a fringe minority of our populace clings to an irrational rejection of well-established science. This virulent strain of anti-science infects the halls of Congress, the pages of leading newspapers and what we see on TV, leading to the appearance of a debate where none should exist.


My colleague Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, who died in 2010, used to say that being a scientist-advocate is not an oxymoron. Just because we are scientists does not mean that we should check our citizenship at the door of a public meeting, he would explain. The New Republic once called him a “scientific pugilist” for advocating a forceful approach to global warming. But fighting for scientific truth and an informed debate is nothing to apologize for.


Our Department of Homeland Security has urged citizens to report anything dangerous they witness: “If you see something, say something.” We scientists are citizens, too, and, in climate change, we see a clear and present danger. The public is beginning to see the danger, too — Midwestern farmers struggling with drought, more damaging wildfires out West, and withering, record, summer heat across the country, while wondering about possible linkages between rapid Arctic warming and strange weather patterns, like the recent outbreak of Arctic air across much of the United States.


The piece ends on this note:

How will history judge us if we watch the threat unfold before our eyes, but fail to communicate the urgency of acting to avert potential disaster? How would I explain to the future children of my 8-year-old daughter that their grandfather saw the threat, but didn’t speak up in time?

Those are the stakes.

I would encourage interested readers to read the commentary in full at the New York Times website.

Constructive contributions are welcome in the comment section below :-)

606 Responses to “If You See Something, Say Something”

  1. 251
    Hank Roberts says:

    Vol.5, No.1A, 99-105 (2013) Natural Science
    Reducing consumption to avert catastrophic global climate change: The case of aviation
    Philip Cafaro
    Department of Philosophy, School of Global Environmental Sustainability, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, USA

    When a small farmer in Thailand plants and harvests rice to feed his family and buy supplies, that generates subsistence emissions, while my sushi dinner in Colorado, including fish flown half way around the world, represents luxury emissions. A lawyer’s daily commute to work generates subsistence emissions, while her flight to Paris for a weekend get- away generates luxury emissions. “The central point about equity”, Shue notes, “is that it is not equitable to ask some people to surrender necessities so that other people can retain luxuries” [17]. With this basic distinc- tion in mind, we may ask whether particular kinds of air traffic generate mostly necessary or mostly luxury green- house gas emissions.

  2. 252
    Hank Roberts says:

    The first results from the 9-11 contrail study are not the last word; three days of data from that event got people started studying the issue (as much science starts with an observation — hmmm, that’s funny ….). And then proceeds, which is why a single paper isn’t an answer, it’s a place to start looking for citing papers.

    Here’s an early contrail paper:

    Travis, David J., Andrew M. Carleton, Ryan G. Lauritsen, 2004: Regional Variations in U.S. Diurnal Temperature Range for the 11–14 September 2001 Aircraft Groundings: Evidence of Jet Contrail Influence on Climate. J. Climate, 17, 1123–1134.

    Looking at the list of papers that has been “cited by” leads to more. There’s a “cited by” list with the abstract, and there’s also a “cited by” list when Google Scholar finds the paper (and they differ, there are multiple sources for “cited by” info)

    Here’s one that’s more recent, just as an example:;jsessionid=77820D43C41244BE8D96237B4DDE5F7F.f03t03

    Estimating the climate impact of linear contrails using the UK Met Office climate model
    DOI: 10.1029/2010GL045161

  3. 253
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes wrote to wili: “First, do you have any comments on my response (#208) to your request (#198) for what is required to stay under 1 C?”

    Your comment (#208) was yet another in which you call for “sharp reduction” in “carbon expenditures” while offering not one single concrete suggestion as to how that “sharp reduction” might be achieved — while you simultaneously attacked Bill McKibben and others who are actively working harder than anyone in the world to bring about such reductions.

    That has basically been the whole and entire content of all your comments here — you disparage and denigrate those who are working the hardest to reduce CO2 emissions, while you offer not one single useful suggestion for doing so, and instead preach defeatism and futility, and repeat vague and entirely unsupported claims that eliminating fossil fuel use will necessarily require “severe” economic sacrifices.

  4. 254
    DIOGENES says:

    “If you see something, say something.”

    What does that mean? To me, one meaning is that if one is a climate scientist, and one sees a context larger than the narrow bounds of one’s particular research, they should make it known even if all the i’s are not dotted and the t’s are not crossed. Case in point. The 1 C science-based maximum temperature increase target has been known for at least two decades, and I have no doubt that most, if not all, credible climate scientists are aware of this. Every CO2 cessation today study I examined predicted temperature peaks at least 20% above this 1 C limit, and the CO2 emissions cessation study that McKibben quoted (and I re-quoted in #208) predicted temperature peaks of 60% above this 1 C limit. Yet, did ANY of the original authors of the CO2 emissions cessation studies point out the simple conclusion that we have already committed to NO CARBON BUDGET REMIANING based on their findings? None that I found; all they showed were numbers without context. Even McKibben concluded that the 1.6 C temperature increase finding means that we are already 3/4 of the way toward the 2 C limit. Well, if one is going to arbitrarily normalize on a politically-based, not scientifically-based, number, one could just have concluded as easily that we are already 1/2 the way toward a 3 C limit, or 1/4 the way toward a 6 C limit. Why did he not conclude that we have exceeded the carbon budget by at least 50%, and if feedbacks are taken into account, perhaps by 75 or 100%, given that he quoted leading scientists who emphasized the 1 C target?

    Setting this temperature target is a critical issue for determining climate amelioration policy and strategy. It should be a central climate science issue. But, where are we seeing this conclusion of NO CARBON BUDGET REMAINING on this, the leading climate science site? I don’t remember any posted articles displaying this conclusion. I am not a climate scientist, and I don’t feel overly comfortable being one of the few on this site coming to this conclusion, even though it seems rather obvious when one tries to find consistency among the published statements from the climate science experts.

    So, my question to the moderators, who are themselves world-class climate scientists: do you agree with my conclusions from two moderately different perspectives (#208, 237) that there is no remaining carbon budget, and in fact we are in carbon debt? If not, why not? And, would it be possible for the moderators, or some of the other world-class climate experts to whom they have access, to post an article or two discussing this issue. I can’t think of a climate science issue of greater importance!

  5. 255
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hmmm, was EcoEquity removed from the sidebar intentionally?

    That’s been my go-to site for answers to questions like those “Diogenes” asks, for quite a while.

  6. 256
    Hank Roberts says:

    Excerpt quoting from EcoEquity’s current front page (which changes); my ellipses:

    … a set of reference mitigation pathways which represented the choices before humanity, albeit in a simplified and schematic fashion…. a Strong 2ºC pathway, a Weak 2°C pathway, and a G8 pathway — and their levels of risk, in a fairly precise and technical manner.


    A very large number of analyses and debates refer to these or quite similar pathways. Here we assess them them in the light of Working Group I’s … three specific global carbon dioxide (CO2) budgets, and associated them with specific risks….

    The Strong 2°C pathway is defined to be the most challenging mitigation pathway that can still be defended as being techno-economically achievable (Höhne et. al. 2013). Emissions peak in 2014 and then decline …. it has a considerably greater than 66% probability of staying below 2°C.

    The Weak 2°C pathway is fashioned after well-known and often-cited emissions pathways …. Our comparison with the IPCC budgets suggests that these pathways actually carry substantially higher risks than previously believed – they appear to have a slightly less than 50% chance of holding warming below 2°C.

    The G8 pathway, a marker of the high-level political consensus in developed countries …. is sufficiently well-defined that we can compare it with the IPCC budgets…. We find that its chance of keeping the warming below 2°C is far less than 33%.

    Read that in connection with the philosophy cite I gave above
    There’s an ethical position stated there:

    “… it is not equitable to ask some people to surrender necessities so that other people can retain luxuries”

  7. 257
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes wrote: “But, where are we seeing this conclusion of NO CARBON BUDGET REMAINING on this, the leading climate science site? I don’t remember any posted articles displaying this conclusion. I am not a climate scientist, and I don’t feel overly comfortable being one of the few on this site coming to this conclusion …”

    If you really think that you are “one of the few on this site” who has come to the conclusion that the already existing anthropogenically elevated level of atmospheric CO2 is already dangerous, and that in addition to ending anthropogenic GHG emissions as rapidly as possible we ALSO need to draw down the existing excess to preindustrial levels, then you are not reading other commenters’ posts.

    I, for one, have said that numerous times, and more clearly and succinctly than you typically do.

    You are indeed, however, “one of the few on this site” who responds to that conclusion by offering no concrete suggestions regarding what to do about it, while disparaging those who are actively working on solutions.

  8. 258
    wili says:

    I’d like to thank hank for his link at 251, and to join him in praise for the EcoEquity site and his call to restore it to the sidebar (unless there is some fatal flaw with the science there that we don’t know about–if so, please inform us so that we will not be led astray).

    May I also humbly suggest that it would behoove (don’t you love that word?) SA to spend some quality time perusing said site–just a friendly suggestion.

    Diogenes, I think you already know the answer to your question. They don’t want to be branded with the ‘doomsayer’ label so readily applied to the likes of us.

    Mostly though, for me, it would be nice to know how many top climatologists would go along with Anderson’s over-ten-percent-annual-cuts requirement (even if it is for only a fighting chance to stay below the way-too-high 2 degrees C line).

    Perhaps it’s just me, but I would like to go out in ‘a blaze of glory,’ calling for what is at least remotely possible (10+% reductions) and at least potentially not-utterly climacticly catastrophic (2% C net increase), even if there seems no chance for this to be a winning strategy at this point politically.

    But maybe I’ve been watching too much of this sort of thing:

  9. 259
    DIOGENES says:

    HR #255,

    “That’s been my go-to site for answers to questions like those “Diogenes” asks, for quite a while.”

    What answers? They’ve stacked the deck to start with, using the politically-based 2 C target rather than the scientifically-based 1 C target as the starting point. Even their strong 2 C pathway statement concludes “it has a considerably greater than 66% probability of staying below 2°C.” I addressed that in my quote from Spratt, in #247. “Spratt states: “If one wants a 90% chance of not exceeding 2C, there is NO “carbon budget” left”.”” I showed further, with some examples, that even allowing a 10% chance of exceeding a dangerous target is unacceptable when the survival of our species could be severely threatened. If anyone disagrees with the numbers I’ve presented, including numbers where I may be overly optimistic, please state your case. If my conclusions are correct, there’s mainly one real option we have remaining.

  10. 260
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “Excerpt quoting from EcoEquity’s current front page …”

    A crucial point, I think:

    Both the “Strong 2°C pathway” and the “Weak 2°C pathway” require emissions to peak in 2014 … which is to say, NOW.

    That is the target that matters.

  11. 261
    patrick says:

    #250 Hank Roberts. Thank you, that’s brilliant. I’ll take the flight steward image. Fly the damn planet. Please.

  12. 262
    Jerry says:

    I think should either: (1) stick to “scientific topics and…not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science”; or (2) change the “About” portion of the website to state that political or economic implications are involved.

  13. 263
    Walter says:

    #247 DIOGENES says: “Now we can understand why the Koch brothers don’t want these target numbers to be advertised or even mentioned at all, due to their implications.”

    Walter replies: I think this would have already been obvious for a very long time. I would have thought that everyone, especially the active leadership within the climate science community globally, would have been aware of this for a very longtime, like from the early 1990s, as well.

    However, only mentioning the Koch Brothers (as a major example I assume) is tending to cloud the true reality. Moms and pops at the kitchen table also feel the same way about avoiding the implications. Scientists including many climate scientists (pro or con CAGW scenarios) feel the same way too and then act accordingly.

    My point being that everyone is an everyday human being first before acting out their role as a businessman, worker, environmentalist or climate scientist. Human nature comes first, personal values and social values & ideals comes second and third, and then somewhere after those comes what one might make of the output of science research on global warming and it’s implications.

    There has been a strong theme from some quarters in the climate science and related groups that by presenting the science output, such as via the IPCC reports, will convince people of the reality of the situation and would by default indicate clear pathway for a solution to the problem.

    Various groups of like-minded friends within climate science have coalesced around a common value point, discussed their thoughts with ‘friends’ who think the same way, and then approached this in the manner they felt most comfortable with.

    But this ‘response’ by each was based upon their personal and social ideals and not so much about the already agreed broad facts of the science. Each climate scientist has had to personally deal with the apparent ‘implications’ of the climate science output since the early 1990s in their own way.

    What I am saying is that this is human nature, and one’s pre-existing Political Values and Ideals does in fact influence each individuals choices and responses about the “science” or even whether they will actually look at the science. Makes no difference be they the Koch brothers, a climate scientist, a retired nuclear Physics professor, a mom and pop, a business person, a millionaire, or a low paid healthcare worker.

    Yet some people still are holding tightly to the belief that simply presenting the facts of the climate science to the world is sufficient enough to convince that world that the science is valid and that a global response is essential as soon as possible.

    Some people believe that this is all they have to do and is the limit to their own personal responsibility about the subject. That this is all that they are paid to do, this is why they were hired in their specific job role, and that anything over and above this is beyond their ken and outside their job description.

    People quickly forget that people are people first and it is human nature and our accepted beliefs about life which drives most of our own thinking and choices. Not scientific facts. Politics is a part of all our lives. The overt national government politics is obvious. But politics extends throughout all of society, all social groups and business, the local P&C or Church, as well as throughout the 27,000 climate scientists as well. Everyone is touched by ‘politics’ of some kind and usually on a daily basis.

    In climate science like everywhere else there are ‘professional jealousies’, there is politics, there are arguments, there is major ideological disagreements despite what the agreement is on the scientific facts. The most obvious are the 97% consensus versus the recalcitrant Currys and Spencers etc.

    But do not pretend that all is sweet and nice among the 97%. It is not. There is a Climate War going on there as well. It has been going on for a very long time. It manifests everywhere, in OP-Ed articles, on Blog sites, on RealClimate, at the AGU, the IPCC discussions, inside NASA and every other such organisation.

    Basically every time some climate scientists opens their mouth or writes something, or sends another an email, it’s “political’ in some form. It is not about the Science though. It is about the “Implications” and the views and values behind this are all extremely “Political” and “Ideological” in nature.

    It’s about to get bloody and will become more overt as the year/s unfold. I don’t know which of the groups in this battle is right. It doesn’t really matter anyway. What will decide the outcome is which side wins the war. Not who is more right or more rational.

    Someone had to say something. May as well have been me.


  14. 264
    Mal Adapted says:


    I think should either: (1) stick to “scientific topics and…not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science”; or (2) change the “About” portion of the website to state that political or economic implications are involved.

    The trouble is that scientific problems around the causes and effects of AGW, and the technologies to replace fossil fuels with renewables, are pretty much solved. The hard problems remaining are economic and therefore ultimately political: namely, how to overcome the obstructionism of the people who will make less money if FF use is curtailed. That’s what “If you see something, say something” must really be about.

    I’m just sayin’!

  15. 265
    Walter says:

    #253 SecularAnimist

    I have read what DIOGENES has been saying the last couple of months. I am wondering if you and some others have really listened to what he has been saying quite consistently and understood that.

    Not whether DIOGENES ideas have merit or not, but if you are clearly understanding exactly what his key points have been thus far.

    Your reply here seems to be focusing upon and making a complaint about this aspect, quoting SA: “while you offer not one single useful suggestion for doing so, and instead preach defeatism and futility”

    I am certain that DIOGENES #1 point has been the current lack of agreement by parties of precisely what is the current state of the situation now.

    He put that point forward on the sound reasoning of that when one is confronted with a problem requiring a comprehensive strategy to solve that the most important thing to do first is to at least define clearly what the problem is and to quantify that precisely in the present.

    His focus has also been about rational practical and long proven Problem Solving Strategies and Process. He has not been here “preaching” about what he believes those solutions might actually be in the long term.

    He has of course pointed out repeatedly that the current beliefs about the success and potential of several solutions have not and will not achieve the goal of reducing any GHG emissions growth into the future on a Business As Usual scenario. That is a proven fact in my opinion for it is based upon multiple credible and scientifically based sources of hard physical evidence and not wishful thinking.

    BAU projections already includes the inputs of current and planned take up of existing renewable energy alternatives as well as Nuclear energy. I believe DIOGENES main point is that he believes that until the reality of the current situation is clearly defined and accepted for what it is and agreed upon across the board by all parties concerned with Climate Change issues, then discussing anything else is a waste of time. In fact the current approach is counter-productive to implementing genuine long term solutions to the Climate problem the world is facing.

    He reinforces this point by asking things like this: “my question to the moderators, who are themselves world-class climate scientists: do you agree with my conclusions from two moderately different perspectives (#208, 237) that there is no remaining carbon budget, and in fact we are in carbon debt? If not, why not?”

    DIOGENES is presenting an issue that he feels is of critical importance here. He is asking for other people’s input. He is humbly requesting the climate scientists, moderators and posters on RC engage him in a genuine and fruitful discussion about these issues. To debate them openly and honestly as well as to present their own thinking and opinions about this matter.

    DIOGENES does not appear to having much success thus far. Silence appears to be the dominant response, mixed in with a few pointed complaints about himself even raising the issues he would like to discuss maturely and rationally.

    Looks to me the issues DIOGENES has raised (eg what is the Carbon Budget, what does the science tells us is the ‘safe’ upper limit in GHGs and Temp.) are clearly within the realm of “climate science” and are appropriate to the purpose that RC was created for in the first place.

    I still feel that it is a real shame that so many find that unacceptable here and others choose to remain silent and ignore him completely as if he does not exist.


  16. 266
    Walter says:

    #260 Walter, sorry I forgot to include with the text a relevant google search url: psychology of climate change denial

    All I can say is I encourage everyone, from climate scientists down to the most recent person looking into the climate change issues to dig deep into the academic and scientific research to date regarding people’s reactiosn to climate change issues, know what the “known knowns” about human psychology, human nature already are, and why it is that the ‘facts about climate science’ are not actually the main game here.

    All the scientific facts in the world are unable (incapable) to shift human beliefs and values. A Plus element is required.

    Meaning that the science alone and climate scientists alone are not the solution to the problem the scientists have presented to the world and repeatedly been articulating as being true and correct for the last 25 years that Global Warming became a well known problem.

    Several here have made some great suggestions about communicating the truth more effectively to the world at large in a way that more voters and politicians would understand and embrace, before it is too late.

    I’d suggest two celebrities, media personalities as being a yardstick to shoot for to communicate the facts about the science in a way the average person could understand. But two people who a majority of the public might actually be willing to listen to in the first place due to their existing high level of non-political ‘non-climate science’ credibility.

    Sir David Frederick Attenborough, OM CH CVO CBE FRS FZS FSA, the English broadcaster and naturalist.

    Professor Brian Edward Cox, OBE, the English physicist and former musician, a Royal Society University Research Fellow, PPARC Advanced Fellow at the University of Manchester.

    Go for it!

  17. 267
    concerned citizen says:


    About national and per capita contributions to observed global warming.

    Considering cumulative contributions is more fair than not considering it. But I have doubts about considering per capita contributions. There are regions where population size has not changed in the last 100 years, in some regions it hasn’t changed since the Middle Ages (even while consumption levels have grown many times). I argue that it would be more fair (and prudent from the ecological footprint perspective) to consider cumulative contributions per land area unit.

    And larger countries should divide their country budget into smaller sections, so that China Proper does not benefit from Tibet and Inner Mongolia and European Russia does not benefit from Siberia (and lower USA does not benefit from Alaska and Australian coastal regions do not benefit from the outback) and glacial lands should be excluded from the budget (Denmark and Greenland). One logical area size could be derived from the distance of regional climate change impact, for example Arctic ocean changes impact spreads 1000-1500 km from the Siberian coast (which as I understand is also incidentally the ballpark distance of necessary grid temperature measurements to compute global average temperatures).

  18. 268
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Any thoughts on the Presidents SOTU Address? Did you hear anything positive concerning Climate Change and what he intends to do about it? I caught a couple of sentences but nothing substantial. I’m wondering if there’s any chance of holding his feet to the fire on getting something around Congress? Thoughts?

  19. 269
    Hank Roberts says:

    November 2013

    Félix Pharand-Deschênes and I have just produced a new data visualization on climate change for the UN’s climate negotiations taking place in Warsaw, Poland right now. It was commissioned by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and funded by the UN Foundation.

    The visualization is a summary of the findings presented in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Working Group I, Summary for Policymakers, the Physical Science Basis).

    The wonderful Gizmodo has covered it in its own inimitable style. In the article I try to explain what we were attempting to do. We wanted to find a way of communicating climate risks in a way that showed exactly what climate scientists mean when they say likely or unlikely. While the terminology used by researchers can sound a little vague, it is more precise than most people realize.

    It was important for us to try to find a way of simplifying the complexity of fossil-fuel emissions, temperature rise and future carbon budgets to keep within policy targets. The ending is a little bleak: societies are running out of time, and running in the wrong direction. Sorry.

  20. 270
    Alexis Crawford says:

    I agree with the article. We have the right in the US Constitution for freedom of speech, so why not exercise it? That’s part of the reason I decided to go to school to become an environmental scientist is to do proactive work in the field that can be shared with the scientific community and the general public. We need to think long term and utilize the 7th Generation Concept more thoughtfully and we need to take the issue of global climate change seriously so Earth can still be a sustainable place to live in the future. We need to collectively start thinking more long-term, and I know that it’s difficult, but we only have one home….So why not fight for it? Not only for the future generations, but also for ourselves and the survival of mankind. We should turn our relationship between us and the environment more toward mutualistic symbiosis instead of parasitism. No more take, take, take…But more of take and give back.

  21. 271
    Walter says:

    From Gavin’s AGU talk:
    ‘Advocacy is perceived as problematic within the science community’

    Gavin took a straw poll: “Positive? Oh. Negative? Oooh, ah, actually that’s about half-half. That’s interesting. Oh, OK, that was not what I expected.”

    From the Yale climate summary:
    Scientists who choose to communicate widely cannot avoid advocacy, Schmidt said. “You can’t be a science communicator and pretend you have no values. What instead you need to do is accept them.”

    If scientists don’t, people will choose for them what values they hold, he said. “You’re much better off owning that, and telling people what you’re advocating for.”

    Scientists must be careful, however, and follow a handful of rules of engagement that will protect their integrity as a scientist as well as their rights as a citizen. Responsible advocacy is characterized by a handful of principles, Schmidt said.

    The individual should:
    – communicate his/her values fairly and truthfully;
    – make the connections between his/her values and policy choices explicit;
    – make sure to distinguish his/her personal conclusions from the scientific consensus;
    – acknowledge that people with different values would have different policy choices; and
    – be aware of how his/her values might impact objectivity, and be vigilant.

    Irresponsible advocacy, on the other hand, can be recognized through a handful of clues.

    Among these:
    – Individuals misrepresent and hide their values.
    – The basis of their policy choices is unclear.
    – There’s an untested presumption that the individual’s personal scientific conclusions are widely held in the ‘scientific community’ (see above)
    – Assumption that disagreement about policy implies disagreement on scientific data
    – Using science-y arguments as cover for hidden differences in Values
    See video overhead here:

    An interesting question.
    Is the following a difference over Values or a Difference over the Science?

    More info:
    and here:

    AGU Fall Meeting 2013 – Richard Alley
    Overall, the very large impacts of past Arctic changes, and the likelihood that future changes under business-as-usual fossil-fuel emissions will be unprecedented in combined size and speed, raise important questions.


    I don’t know much about Siberian, Canadian, or under sea Arctic Methane. So, I do not have an opinion about it.

    I do have an opinion about the conservative future projections and RCP scenarios contained in the IPCC AR5 WG1 report though. In particular about collapsing summer Arctic Sea Ice extent, about BAU CO2e emissions growth rates, and the impacts of increasing ocean acidification upon reef systems and biodiversity in the short term. Not saying my opinion does or should matter.


  22. 272
    patrick says:

    @263 Walter: On people as people: yes, but think about it in your own life: if someone is always unrelentingly wrong about something, are you more likely to trust them on other matters, or not?

  23. 273
    Walter says:

    In the AGU 2013 meeting talk by Richard Alley (ref link above) he mentioned an interesting thing (to me) in responding to a question. What to do about the numbers in the latest IPCC report, and the numbers from the IMF and EIA (US Energy Information Agency) regarding the ongoing subsidizing Policies that are actually serving to greatly accelerate Climate Change.
    This link starts at 46m40secs in the middle of the question.

  24. 274
    DIOGENES says:

    Walter #265,

    Appreciate your comments. One observation. In many types of testimony or other commentary, the potential conflicts of the commenter are required beforehand. These include sources of income and investment portfolio. We don’t require this information on blogs, and therefore have no idea of the larger context in which the comments are made. When I see scripted talking points repeated incessantly, and mindless promotion of specific technologies independent of targets achieved, I understand the motivations precisely and ignore the comments.

    We have run out of carbon budget, and are well into carbon debt. We are carbon bankrupt! Unlike the monetary bankruptcy court, the carbon bankruptcy court offers no leniency. The full carbon debt must be repaid. If the repayment is not sufficiently rapid, the ultimate penalty will be exacted.

    We know the extent of the problem. The simple numbers I have generated approximate its severity. Moreover, the solution is obvious; we have relatively few options for the critical short-term window available. Like any bankruptcy resolution, they do not involve ‘prosperity’. They involve strong elimination of the profligate ways that got us into carbon debt in the first place. As you point out in #263 “Moms and pops at the kitchen table also feel the same way about avoiding the implications. Scientists including many climate scientists (pro or con CAGW scenarios) feel the same way too and then act accordingly.” I would only add to that excellent observation, let us not forget those waiting in the wings who would use the siren call of ‘prosperity’ to create a Windfall (Wili’s reference) with technologies that will not achieve the required temperature targets.

  25. 275
    patrick says:

    #269 Thank you. Fly the blue marble.

  26. 276
    patrick says:

    This chart is in Gavin’s media gallery now on Twitter:

    It’s very clear. Thank you, Dr. Schmidt.

  27. 277
  28. 278
    DIOGENES says:

    From the recent Radical Emissions Reduction Conference, some notes from Kevin Anderson’s presentations. These were posted on David Spratt’s blog ( For anyone who wants the straight scoop on what’s really happening with the climate. the extent of the problem, and what’s really required to fix it (if still possible), I recommend this site with no reservations, especially Spratt’s articles. No scripted talking points here!

    In a later article posted on his blog, from which I quoted recently, Spratt draws a conclusion differing from Anderson. Spratt concluded that for 90% chance of staying below 2 C, we have RUN OUT OF CARBON BUDGET ALREADY. Additionally, both Spratt and Anderson have quoted the leading climate scientists as saying the 2 C TARGET IS OVERLY DANGEROUS, AND 1 C IS A MORE APPROPRIATE SCIENTIFICALLY-BASED TARGET.

    “Anderson starts with the proposition that stabilisation at 2°C remains a feasible goal of the international community, just. [Readers of this blog will know well that AT LESS THAN 1 DEGREE OF WARMING, THERE IS A GOOD DEAL OF EVIDENCE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS ALREADY DANGEROUS AND OF THE VIEW OF LEADING SCIENTISTS THAT 2°C HOTTER IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE CLIMATE TARGET BUT A DISASTER.]

    Anderson makes the point that radical mitigation has economic benefits, not financial. He says it is time to wrestle economics away from the financiers. The word economics originates from the Greek oikonimia, meaning stewardship of the household; no mention of money. The word financial comes from the Greek chrematistic meaning the making of money. IF MAKING MONEY IS OUR PRIORITY THEN 2°C IS NOT VIABLE. If we’re interested in the wellbeing of our lives and the planet, then 2°C is viable with a successful economy.

    The science message contained within latest IPCC report hasn’t changed in the last 20 years. This science is mature. But what has changed, says Anderson, is that:
    •Since IPCC AR4 in 2007, an additional 200 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) has been released;
    •Annual emissions are ~70% higher than at the time of the first report in 1990;
    •Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher than during past 800 thousand years.
    The world says it is still committed to make a fair contribution “To hold the increase in global temperature below 2°C, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity”. (Copenhagen Accord 2009).

    So why do we need to concentrate on energy demand rather than supply? Because, says Anderson, IN 2013 IT’S TOO LATE TO ONLY RELY SOLELY ON THE SUPPLY SIDE. WE NEED TO FOCUS ON THE DEMAND SIDE NOW TOO.

    So what of future emissions? Everything built today based on fossil fuels is locking ourselves into a high carbon future: power stations, large scale infrastructures, built environment, aircraft and ships. All this infrastructure will be in place for 30 to 100 years.


    Emissions in the above chart are higher than emissions in IPCC’s highest emission pathway (RCP8.5), with 2% a year growth from 2020. Are such rising emissions scenarios realistic? They are certainly viable, says Anderson, since UK is considered a leading country on climate change and the UK has made extensive fossil fuel investments.

    Current pathway leads to emissions of greater than 2500 GtCO2 for the period 2000–2050, and 5000 GtCO2 for 2000–2100. Yet for a 66% chance of less than 2°C, we can emit only 1000 GtCO2. Along our current pathway all of that will be emitted by 2032. There is nothing left for emissions by 2032.

    The carbon dioxide trend, says Anderson, is “PERFECTLY IN LINE WITH A TEMPERATURE INCREASE OF 6°C, which would have devastating consequences for the planet” as IEA chief economist Faith Birol has noted. Whether it is 4, 5 or 6°C doesn’t mean too much; they’re all devastating.

    There is nothing we can do significantly in the wealthy parts of the world to get emissions down with just low carbon supply in the short term. THE ONLY THING WE CAN DO NOW IS REDUCE OUR DEMAND. The supply side is a pre-requisite in the long term to holding temperature below 2°C.”

  29. 279
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes quoted Spratt: “So why do we need to concentrate on energy demand rather than supply? Because, says Anderson, IN 2013 IT’S TOO LATE TO ONLY RELY SOLELY ON THE SUPPLY SIDE … “

    I think you have beaten that strawman to death by now.

    There is no one who thinks, claims or advocates that relying “ONLY” on decarbonizing the energy supply is sufficient.

    Diogenes quoted Spratt: “Anderson makes the point that radical mitigation has economic benefits … 2°C is viable with a successful economy.”

    And yet in your previous comments here, you have repeatedly cited Anderson to support your claim that any serious effort to keep the peak warming below 2°C must require “severe economic reductions”, and you have repeatedly dismissed and disparaged any suggestion that “radical mitigation” is compatible with a “successful economy”.

  30. 280
    Edward Greisch says:

    227 prokaryotes:

    Noam Chomsky: How Climate Change Became a ‘Liberal Hoax’
    The Nation and On The Earth Productions
    February 9, 2011  

    “In this sixth video in the series “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, linguist, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky talks about the Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute and other business lobbies enthusiastically carrying out campaigns “to try and convince the population that global warming is a liberal hoax.” According to Chomsky, this massive public relations campaign has succeeded in leading a good portion of the population into doubting the human causes of global warming.
    Known for his criticism of the media, Chomsky doesn’t hold back in this clip, laying blame on mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times, which will run frontpage articles on what meteorologists think about global warming. “Meteorologists are pretty faces reading scripts telling you whether it’s going to rain tomorrow,” Chomsky says. “What do they have to say any more than your barber?” All this is part of the media’s pursuit of “fabled objectivity.”
    Of particular concern for Chomsky is the atmosphere of anger, fear and hostility that currently reigns in America. The public’s hatred of Democrats, Republicans, big business and banks and the public’s distrust of scientists all lead to general disregard for the findings of “pointy-headed elitists.” The 2010 elections could be interpreted as a “death knell for the species” because most of the new Republicans in Congress are global warming deniers. “If this was happening in some small country,” Chomsky concludes, “it wouldn’t matter much. But when it’s happening in the richest, most powerful country in the world, it’s a danger to the survival of the species.”
    Go here to learn more about “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate,” and to see the other videos in the series.
    —Kevin Gosztola”

    Search “liberal” in RC. Get About 698 results

  31. 281
    Rachel F says:

    Chuck #268. Yes, caught the SOTU.

    A few encouraging signs with Obama stating that the science is settled and he supports regulation of emissions. But his trumpeting of domestic energy production, including oil and gas, contradict his statements on bringing down emissions. The dots aren’t joined up.

    It seemed to me to be a piecemeal and parochial approach, but then this was very much a speech focused on domestic issues.

    I don’t think climate change can be solved with each country focusing on themselves. There has to be international cooperation. So I wasn’t too encouraged.

  32. 282
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes wrote: “In many types of testimony or other commentary, the potential conflicts of the commenter are required beforehand. These include sources of income and investment portfolio … When I see scripted talking points repeated incessantly, and mindless promotion of specific technologies independent of targets achieved, I understand the motivations precisely.”

    So now you are reduced to accusing me of being a paid liar.

    Which is, in fact, a false accusation, made with no factual basis whatsoever.

    It is also an ad hominem fallacy.

    It is also a sleazy and cowardly personal attack.

    It is also a step down from your earlier strawman-beating and name-calling.

  33. 283
    Walter says:

    re Walter says: 27 Jan 2014 at 2:37 AM
    An old truism reads: “Knowledge is Power”.
    On the subject of the Earth’s climate into the future then, who in a world of equals possesses the greatest power other than working climate scientists and scientists in general? I cannot think of any other group who doesn’t know more about the science. It is not enough though.

    re Walter says: 28 Jan 2014 at 11:51 PM
    #222 Edward Greisch says: “GW is not a liberal political cause. GW is a science. Science needs to be de-linked from politics completely for action on GW to have any chance.”
    Edward, this kind of theory is not correct nor workable …….

    Here is a pretty good reason why. Nothing trumps Geo-Politics.

    Snowden revelations of NSA spying on 2009 Copenhagen climate talks spark anger – Developing countries have reacted angrily to revelations that the United States spied on other governments at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.

    9 December 2009 Copenhagen climate summit in disarray after ‘Danish text’ leak

    29. januar 2014 Dokumentet: NSA spionerede mod COP15 29. januar 2014


  34. 284
    Walter says:

    #272 patrick says:
    @263 Walter: On people as people: yes, but think about it in your own life: if someone is always unrelentingly wrong about something, are you more likely to trust them on other matters, or not?


    I think you’re asking the wrong question here. A person can be hopeless in love relationships or in buying lemons for cars, but if he is a good family doctor and gives me the right advice, then so what? It depends on the “subject matter”. No one has been as unrelenting wrong about somethings as I have been. So what?

    The best climate scientist in the world may not be able to balance his check book, should I ignore his Papers?

    Should I automatically assume he is also a genius in Public Communication, the Media, Politics, 10 Year Business Plans, Economic realities, and Psychology too? See what I mean? It is not as simple as we would probably all like it to be. Nothing seems to be as complex a hard problem than the implications of Climate Change.

    Fact is Patrick, as human beings we are each always unrelentingly wrong about all kinds of things. To be able ourselves to realize when this the case is the only solution. Trusting in our own ability to work this out for ourselves separates the men from the boys. Being mature enough to listen to external criticisms and critiques from others telling us we “might be wrong” and a willingness to reconsider our own personal position and revisit our prior judgements in the light of new information is critical.

    So few can do this. Nelson Mandela did this, yet it also took him a couple of decades in jail to work that out for himself. If we were all so wise, and be able to change our views so much quicker, then life would be so easy! Wouldn’t it?

    “One of the main IPCC activities is the preparation of comprehensive Assessment Reports about the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its causes, potential impacts and response strategies. The IPCC also produces Special Reports, which are an assessment on a specific issue and Methodology Reports, which provide practical guidelines for the preparation of greenhouse gas inventories.”

    “Since its inception in 1988 the IPCC has prepared four multivolume assessment reports and is in the process of finalizing the Fifth Assessment Report.”

    “The early identification of a set of “Representative Concentration Pathways” (RCPs) facilitates coordination of new integrated socioeconomic, emissions, and climate scenarios.”

    “The main rationale for beginning with RCPs is to expedite the development of a broad literature of new and integrated scenarios by allowing the modeling of climate system responses to human activities to proceed in parallel to emissions scenario development.”

    Personally I do not question the validity of the science that has been done, nor the credibility of the scientists who publish their research Papers, nor the current state of the (mountainous volume of) accumulated knowledge produced.

    I do suggest that the RCP 8.5 scenario published in Sept 2013 AR5 is already out of date and therefore essentially ‘wrong’.

    RCP 8.5 is the highest / worst case scenario. The rest of the RCPs appear to be in fantasy land, and may as well be a display at Disney World so disconnected from any future reality are they.

    I am not being critical of the scientists, personally nor individually. My understanding of the IPCC work is that it is drawn upon genuine published climate science papers by genuine active scientist teams. The majority of the working groups are volunteer authors and assistants that make value judgments in selecting which of those Papers are most ‘credible/realistic/valuable’ by agreement. No problem there in seeking a reasonable consensus.

    An aspect of which I am not fully knowledgeable (not been able to do due diligence in this area) is that the next step appears to be where each member nation (ie Government) must first ‘sign off’ on each WG report before it is accepted by the IPCC process and then Published for the world to see. I am unsure to what degree such prior requirement for all Nations agreement/consensus could politically influence the end result.

    What does seem clear though is that many/most national governments have simply ignored the scientific based content and the implications of all IPCC Reports anyway since 1988 so far. The worst case of this, the most belligerent of nations appears to be the USA closely followed by Australia, Canada, the UK and many other OECD nations.

    China despite massive growth in fossil fuels also has the highest uptake of renewable & nuclear energy since 1988. It is the worlds #1 supplier of PV solar, electric cars, high end battery technology, and Wind turbines now. How much of that is genuine or if it is merely a callous marketing ploy to generate economic growth for itself I have no idea.

    Consider this new item:

    The CCNF has only just begun, and yet Climate Scientists Jim Bouldin, John Nielsen-Gammon, Bart Verheggen are, in my opinion, totally ‘wrong’ in their responses to this item by their “media communicator / fact checker”.

    Michael Quirke is ‘right’ to highlight the BS by Fox News here. But rather than confront it head on, and actually *Educate the Public* better as to why Fox is ‘wrong’ they simply dismiss it out of hand as being beneath them addressing it.

    They state: (CCNF) is a national platform, founded and led by scientists, to educate the American public on the science of climate change and its policy implications.

    The issue is not what the Fox presenter himself says or believes but the fact that that “false information” is constantly being fed into the national consciousness and people actually DO believe it. That needs addressing head on, and not dismissed as and I Quote:

    “It’s really not worth responding to such hypocritical idiocy. We don’t have time for it.”

    Sorry but people actually DO believe and swallow whole “such hypocritical idiocy”. If these scientists don’t have time for that, they may as well shut the website down right now and go fishing.

    And Michael Quirke who I think is 100% right here, should pack his desk and take his smarts somewhere else if this is how he is going to be publicly dressed down by the climate scientists on CCNF

    They say: “Our aim is to SERVE as an objective source for journalists, policy experts, scientists, and interested citizens.”

    Well it would help enormously if they were to actually deal with REALITY as it is in the USA, Fox News and all, and not how they would prefer it to be.

    Surely that is Reason and Logic: 101, isn’t it?


  35. 285
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Michael Quirke is ‘right’ to highlight the BS by Fox News

    Yeah, but the scientists are right that there’s no claim there to rebut. You don’t need a climatologist to deal with that kind of claim, and they have no expertise special to addressing it.

    Fox over and over presents “have you quit beating your wife?” stuff.
    But it ain’t climate science.

    Someone with research in rhetoric and PR might have a useful response. Or a humorist. Or David Brin:

    A friend recently asked me to explain our present political insanity, in the United States of America. Especially, he was puzzled as to why there are elements of anti-science mania on the left (e.g. “anti-vaxxers” who oppose vaccination) when the War on Science is clearly in large part an epi-phenomenon of the maniacal right.
    Our Favorite Cliché: The Idiot Plot

    The Fox stuff reminds me of the old folklore story that appears in different ways in hundreds of different cultures:

    Br’er Rabbit becomes offended by what he perceives as the Tar-Baby’s lack of manners, punches it, and in doing so becomes stuck. The more Br’er Rabbit punches and kicks the tar “baby” out of rage, the worse he gets stuck.

    People captured by that kind of language don’t understand why responding to it makes them look, well, like that kind of people.

    XKCD is cautionary about being captured by that sort of rhetoric.

    Replying to it at a science site? Not a good idea.
    There are damn few science sites. Don’t waste any of them.

  36. 286
    Walter says:

    #285, Hank I am not going to argue with you here, but will disagree with the points you’ve made.

    You and I and thousands of others know it is BS by Fox, ludicrous logical fallacies and manipulative spin. Still, this does not change the reality on the ground. eg I have no idea what scientists, or professors, or NASA directors are paid myself.

    CCNF say: “Our aim is to SERVE as an objective source ….” If this requires them to spoon feed people, then so be it.

    Why? Because I say again, people actually DO believe and swallow whole “such hypocritical idiocy”.

    See #271 about Gavin’s AGU talk I think it’s related here:
    From the Yale climate summary:
    Scientists who choose to communicate widely cannot avoid advocacy, Schmidt said. “You can’t be a science communicator and pretend you have no values. What instead you need to do is accept them.”
    If scientists don’t, people will choose for them what values they hold, he said. “You’re much better off owning that, and telling people what you’re advocating for.” [end quote]

    Confronting publicly and bluntly using clear facts these ludicrous claims about income and motivation is a part of that I believe. Wishing it just wasn’t so, is mystical thinking.

    The referenced page was about “fact checking” and that can be done on this issue. The specific Fox case is only one example of hundreds in the ‘media’ and online that casts false aspersions about the motivation and income of Climate Scientists.

    This is a great opportunity for CCNF to deal with this issue once and for all, present a reasonable retort to the whole BS story in one go, and then create a permalink to that report summary of the facts.

    Easy enough for Michael Quirke to search online and compile a summary of the most prolific false claims being made, and then for the scientists on CCNF to address those with some accurate facts.

    Like I note that John Nielsen-Gammon has already addressed an issue about his funding sources and short funding needs on his own blog. That’s a great example. He and the others could send out an email request for some “basic pay scales” of different roles people play in the climate science field and report those.

    I also note that John Nielsen-Gammon, and Richard Alley, and Michael Mann, work for “State” universities who I can only imagine receive far less in Salary and benefits than other high powered Private Universities funded by Corporate Giants with multiple political strings attached.

    Hansen (retired) and Gavin work for Nasa/Giss … I suspect they are not millionaires either, nor receiving annual bonuses like the CEO of Goldman Sachs who just pulled another $23 million.

    There are multiple ways to adequately address this “fact checking” issue whilst maintaining privacy of individuals. The public have a right to know, even if they are too slow or too gullible to work it out for themselves.

    Is this not the exact reason that CCNF, and RC, were actually created for in the first place? CCNF is going a step further now (or claim they are going to) by getting into the social, journalism, economic and political aspects as well.

    People actually believe this BS, right? Well if they do it needs to be addressed, and doing it on a fact checking page of CCNF is the perfect place to it.

    Michael Quirke has brought this important point to the attention of the scientists there and they have dismissed it out of hand as releavnt. I disagree. This looks more like an “emotional reaction” by them and not a thoughtful, clear headed rational one.

    Michael Quirke is the one who is the EXPERT here, and not the scientists. He should be listened to and his counsel seriously considered and then acted upon even if they can’t see the wisdom in it. They MUST learn to trust the media/communication (marketing/psychology) experts or give it up right now.

    That’s my view. I suspect it won’t change a thing, let alone the approach by the CCNF. I think that’s a pity and another wasted opportunity. But that’s just me. I am pretty unusual and some may say too weird.


  37. 287
    Walter says:

    Hank, I also don’t think it would be very hard to research what the salaries and income is for the average Fox news presenter or Think Tank operative. How much income was made by several Fox geniuses from their multiple book sales which get all that free advertising from Rupert?

    Recently someone released some salary data of the public broadcaster in Australia. the highest paid TV presenter was pulling about $750K, and several others $350K to $500K (?)

    How much do you think they get paid on FOX et al?

    People in glass houses shouldn’t be throwing stones. That they make this an issue about scientists is a clear giveaway they have much to more to hide themselves.

    Human Behavior:101

    They won’t teach you that at climate science university — ok!

  38. 288
    Hank Roberts says:

    Walter, you’ve demonstrated the five points Brin lists at Turn Your Heads!
    How old were you in 1970? Have you seen this movie before?
    It gets boring the second or third time around.

  39. 289
    flxible says:

    Walter needs to move on to Logic and Human Behavior:102.

    Faux media personalities don’t carry on about scientists ‘rent seeking’ because they want to hide their own, nor are they conveying facts or information or ‘news’, they’re providing confirmation for the masses who stay glued to them specifically for that, confirmation of myopic opinion. Those presenters will not report your ‘rebuttals’ and alienate their viewers and bosses, and those viewers [who are the ones you really want to reach] would blank them out if they heard them, or twist them to suit the blinders they wear or simply flip over to the sports channel.

    “red-shifted soXpar” says CAPTCHA

  40. 290
    SecularAnimist says:

    I think this article by Joe Romm offers a number of good examples of climate scientists seeing something and saying something:

    Leading Scientists Explain How Climate Change Is Worsening California’s Epic Drought
    By Joe Romm
    January 31, 2014

  41. 291
    DIOGENES says:

    Walter #265,

    To amplify your main points, I have integrated and summarized the targets I have discussed in recent weeks, and the associated policies and strategies that derive therefrom.

    1. Reasonable (~50/50) chance of peak temperature increase staying under 2 C during transition

    This is the base case of Kevin Anderson’s computations. His model does not include the major carbon feedback mechanisms, and thereby under-estimates the CO2 emissions reductions required. This 2 C temperature is also viewed as the entre to the Very Dangerous regime, and Anderson has stated that many leading climate scientists believe 1 C should be the target.

    Anderson includes demand reductions, renewables installation, and energy efficiency improvements in his amelioration strategy. He concludes we cannot achieve the temperature targets through supply side alone, and that substantive demand reductions are required. He states that CO2 emissions reductions of ~10% per year globally are required for an extended period of time. Further, he states that the Annex 1 (developed) nations, who are responsible for much of the problem, would have to bear a larger share of the reductions than the non-Annex 1 nations at any international negotiations.

    He states the economic consequences of his recommendations in somewhat subdued terms, in my estimation, such as ‘planned austerity’ or ‘planned recession’. Given that GDP is closely tied to fossil fuel use in today’s economy, reductions of 10-20% annually in CO2 emissions would translate into GDP reductions on the order of 6-15% annually, for years. GDP reductions of this level would result in a major Depression with unthinkable consequences; only those who read from scripted talking points could in any way associate this economic consequence with ‘prosperity’. And, this is the best-case!

    2. High (~90/10) chance of peak temperature increase staying under 2 C during transition

    This case was discussed by Spratt, and in my view, still allows too much (10%) of a chance for temperature to exceed 2 C. To achieve the 90% level, we have run out of carbon budget! So, ANY expenditure of fossil fuel from here on out increases our chances of exceeding 2 C, and moves us closer to the Apocalypse. Eliminating fossil fuel use is obviously impractical at this time, but we need to keep in mind the Faustian tradeoff we are making every time we use fossil fuel for any purpose.

    3. Peak temperature increase staying under ~1 C during transition

    This case was discussed by Hansen, and was motivated by the desire not to exceed prior-Holocene experience and venture too far into the unknown, where carbon cycle feedbacks (not included in Hansen’s analysis) could become important. In Hansen’s words: “2°C warming would have major deleterious consequences”.

    I quoted sources that examined immediate cessation of CO2 emissions, and showed examples where conservative models (none included carbon cycle feedbacks) had temperature peaks at about 1.2 C after a decade or two. McKibben quoted one source that had temperatures peak at about 1.6 C, and I have seen other computations that produced temperatures of 2 C, or higher. In other words, terminating CO2 emissions immediately, with no other ameliorations, would mean we have not only run out of carbon budget but have piled up substantial carbon debt. And, unlike bankruptcy court, the carbon debt will need to be repaid in full, and fast!

    Hansen proposes rapid introduction of non-carbon sources such as renewables/nuclear, energy efficiency improvements, massive reforestation, and demand reductions of 3-6%, depending on the level of reforestation.

    Integrating the above findings, it is clear that the appropriate temperature peak increase target should be ~1 C. Even at that level, Spratt shows the adverse effects that have occurred already, and concludes that we have entered a Dangerous regime. What are the appropriate policies and strategies that will keep us within 1 C, or more realistically, not too far beyond 1 C? My own view is that we integrate the best proposed strategies from each of the above. Since time is of the essence, demand reduction offers the most immediate benefits, and would have major impacts. The sharper the demand reduction, the greater are our chances of avoiding the Apocalypse. Massive reforestation would be critical to CO2 drawdown this century, and should be implemented as soon as is practical. These two elements are necessary for survival of our species, and avoidance of the Apocalypse.

    The remainder help provide some semblance of an energy-assisted lifestyle. This includes rapid installation of non-carbon sources, such as solar, wind, and nuclear, and substitution of energy-efficient technologies for present non-efficient technologies. We need to keep in mind that, perhaps with the exception of some types of demand reduction, introduction of the remaining technologies and carbon capture approaches will require some fossil fuel expenditures at the present time and perhaps decades into the future. These fossil fuel expenditures must be included in any cost-benefit analysis we perform of their value.

  42. 292
    DIOGENES says:

    Walter #263,

    Your statement “Moms and pops at the kitchen table also feel the same way about avoiding the implications. Scientists including many climate scientists (pro or con CAGW scenarios) feel the same way too and then act accordingly.” relates to an interesting article on Spratt’s blog ( The focus is re-considering strategy in light of Abbott’s aggressive words and actions against climate change amelioration. As Spratt states: “It should be now obvious that the Abbott government is on a complete bender to smash climate action and the renewable sector, and no amount of rational argument or reasoned lobbying inside the walls of parliament house are going to make any difference.”

    What I find interesting, and very refreshing, is his honest statement as evidenced by the title of the next section: “3. The majority of Australians are not really with us”.

    He goes on to state: “In the last six years, support in Australia for the view that global warming is a serious and pressing problems that requires taking steps now, even if it involves significant costs, fell from over 60% to under 40%, according to Lowy Institute polling (below). WE LOST OUR MAJORITY.” He goes on to analyze the poll results, and how to best use them to revise strategy.

    Much of what I see posted on the climate blogs is what Spratt calls Bright-siding ( He explains it thusly: “Most climate advocacy and campaigning appears to assume that as long as you tell a positive story and move “in the right direction”, it doesn’t matter if people understand or agree about the problem. It’s all about selling “good news” and not mentioning “bad news”. This is how the Obama administration, Australia’s Labor government, the Say Yes campaign and many national climate advocacy organisations worked in 2011.

    But if you avoid including an honest assessment of climate science and impacts in your narrative, its pretty difficult to give people a grasp about where the climate system is heading and what needs to be done to create the conditions for living in climate safety, rather than increasing and eventually catastrophic harm. But that’s how the big climate advocacy organisations have generally chosen to operate, and it represents a strategic failure to communicate.”

    Yet, what do we see repeated ad nauseam on the blogs: Prosperity, Growth, etc; everything except the real hardships that avoiding the Apocalypse requires? Spratt has it exactly right, whether it is his assessment of the science and its prospective consequences, or the communications and activist strategies.

  43. 293
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes wrote: “everything except the real hardships that avoiding the Apocalypse requires? Spratt has it exactly right …”

    After dozens of repetitive and verbose comments, you have yet to state specifically what “hardships” are “required” in order to eliminate GHG emissions, or to explain why those unidentified “hardships” are “required”.

    Indeed, while you have repeatedly quoted David Spratt’s articles, which you recommend “with no reservations”, and you repeat here your view that Spratt “has it exactly right”, you have refused to even address the clear contradiction between Spratt’s statement that “radical mitigation has economic benefits” and your insistence that mitigation MUST require economic “hardships”.

  44. 294
    wili says:

    SA at 290, thanks for that link to the Fromm piece. If people haven’t looked at it yet, it is very good, imvho.

    Diogenes, Barbara Ehrenreich has a book on that: “Brightsided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America”

  45. 295
    Walter says:

    Flexible to say this “Those presenters will not report your ‘rebuttals’” etc tells me clearly you haven’t understood what I said or meant. I have no interest in what captcha says, but do accept that others like it.

    Hank, what Brin said has nothing to do with me or what I said. Those are your issues not mine. My age is irrelevant too. I am happy to consider any input or queries regarding my actual content within the context of which it was presented. Which was within the ambit of ‘see something say something’ issues raised by Mann and earlier by Gavin about advocacy. I’d be interested in hearing comments about that.

    DIOGENES, thanks for your comments. Regarding this in particular: “3. The majority of Australians are not really with us”. I think you probably like that because it is what I would label as dealing with Reality as it is.

    That is always a helpful position and point of view to take. It’s rare. Which is why we find ourselves in the current pickle. Too much mythical thinking about fantasies, hopes and dreams. aka unreal things. And too much noise is made about noise. It is only wishing to pretend it isn’t there, hoping if one ignores it long enough it will dissolve like a morning mist without effort. Not going to happen. It will get a lot worse in fact.

    Insightful recent interview with David Suzuki. Discusses environmental and AGW/CC issues from 15 minutes onward. Highly recommended. His only life’s regret is failing to make the ‘Paradigm Shift’ in decades past is noted at the very end.
    downloadable link

  46. 296
    Walter says:

    DIOGENES, “a strategic failure to communicate” sums it up perfectly in my own view and experience.

    The experts of Hollywood’s mass propaganda is required, as in WW2.

    For example John Wayne and

    People don’t grasp complexity. Regular people (ie those who are not scientists and academics) are human creatures who only respond to story telling on an emotional level. Not data.

    All the academic papers in the world could never hold a candle to The Adventures of Oliver Twist or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to communicate.

    Good luck with your efforts in addressing reality. To me you sound a lot like Winston Churchill when Neville Chamberlain was PM. Don’t let it drive you to drink, as it did Mark Twain.

  47. 297
    Walter says:

    Key historical background on PM Abbott mentioned by DIOGENES & Spratt.

    In late 2009, post Australia surviving the GFC, Opposition Leader Turnbull was going to support comprehensive ETS legislation and other strategies of the then Labour Govt. It had won a huge majority and mandate from national elections in late 2007, with climate change action being a key issue behind that win being post Al Gore’s AIT, and the IPCC AR4 reports.

    Abbott challenged Turnbull for the leadership of the (right of centre) parties in Parliament and won by one single Vote.

    The ETS legislation was then blocked, and abandoned by labor when they could not get the Greens in the Senate to support them either. The next election in 2010 was 50/50, Labor just won, to introduce a Carbon tax variation with Greens support, and a few months back Abbott’s side of politics (mostly AGW/CC & RW Moralistic Fundie conservatives too) won a huge majority, but not control in the Senate.

    Their repeal of the carbon tax/ets legislation has been blocked so far in the Senate. In July 2014 new RW independent senators will take the balance of power from the Greens, and are likely to proceed with all Climate Change related legislation in place since 2009.

    It is amazing what a difference one single politician’s Vote can have over time.

    I think it is fair to say that the AGW denial campaign is one that is predominatnly driven by anjd inside the Anglosphere nations, but it is slowly gaining traction in eastern european and other developed nations as well now.


  48. 298
    Walter says:

    Typo sorry.

    Abbott’s side of politics (mostly AGW/CC DENIERS …)

    likely to proceed with REPEALING all PREVIOUS Climate Change related LEGISLATION

  49. 299
    Walter says:

    The importance of Fox News is over-rated enormously. The accepted beliefs in it’s own self-importance is ‘endless spin’ pushing the notion it is the *Leading* cable news channel, which is accurate if all you care about is the prime numbers.

    However FNC is still a nobody of shrill non-importance when it comes to being a major news source in the USA or anywhere else in the world.

    For example: “According to Nielsen data through Dec. 8, Fox News Channel averaged 1.774 million viewers in primetime (down 13% from 2012)”

    In a nation of 330 Million that is minuscule, except the propaganda of what it is supposed to mean. There is another side to this sophistry.

    Jon Stewart on The Daily Show pulls in 2 million viewers alone!

    Young Viewers Avoid Fox News Like the Plague as Ratings Drop 30%

    There is this:

    and then there is this: With an audience of 296,000 viewers all year long, Channel 7 (NYC) attracts a larger audience than any other television station in the nation.

    That one single TV station News program in NYC pulls 17% of Fox News’ entire national audience.

    Cable accounts for 40 million subscribers. Fox News pulls 4.4% ?
    Total Pay TV has 83 million subscribers. Fox News pulls 2.1% ?

    Population Voter stats say for 2008 USA:
    Total number of Americans eligible to vote 206,072,000
    Total number of Americans registered to vote 146,311,000
    Total number of Americans who voted in the 2008 131,144,000.

    Level of Fox News effective ‘penetration’?

    1.35% of those who voted, and barely 0.9% of those eligible to Vote.

    The importance of Fox News in the USA and the world is a myth. Barely anyone watches it. The majority of people get their news from other sources.

    NYTs average daily circulation in 2013 ~1.87 million
    NYTs online digital readership ~1.13 million
    NYTs paying online subscribers ~676,000

    Total penetration of this ONE newspaper totals 3 million in the USA. Equals 2.3% of those who actually voted in 2008, just shy of 1% higher than Fox News.

    Add up all the Cable/PayTV & free2air TV News programs and add in online sources, plus newspapers. What is the Fox News share and total penetration then? Someone has the numbers.

    PBS NewsHour had 2.5 million viewers in 2005. This year the show is at 1.3 million. vs Fox News’ @ 1.74 million.

    Democracy Now! is aired by more than 1000 radio, television, satellite and cable TV networks in North America. Has over 53,000 subscribers. It’s Alexa US Ranking is 5624.

    Fox News Alexa Rank is 39
    PBS is 322
    NYTs is 36
    LA Times is 112
    The Daily Show is 1,489 is 594
    CBS is 305 is 9,611

    But YoungTurks do have 1.4 million Youtube subscribers has 1.2 Million via Youtube
    The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has 2.78 Million

    FoxNewsChannel subscribers on Youtube?


    Fact vs Fiction?

    Myth vs Reality?

    I know which I prefer.


  50. 300
    DIOGENES says:

    Walter #265,

    “DIOGENES does not appear to having much success thus far. Silence appears to be the dominant response, mixed in with a few pointed complaints about himself even raising the issues he would like to discuss maturely and rationally.”

    What is your definition of “success” in blog postings, and what are the quantitative measures? On some blogs, they show numbers of thumbs up or thumbs down for each post; is that your measure, or something equivalent? If so, the ‘secret’ is simple: pander to your audience. Tell the readership what they want to hear, and thumbs up will predominate. And, what does the readership on the major climate blogs (with the notable exception of McPherson’s) want to hear? The Apocalypse can be avoided, we can do it mainly by substituting one group of technologies for another, no personal hardships required, no major changes to daily living required, and we can have ‘prosperity’, full employment, etc, etc. And, as you have seen, our resident ‘sock-puppets’ exploit this pandering to the fullest.

    That’s not why I post; I’m not selling anything. I’m trying to further my understanding of 1) the seriousness of the climate situation, 2) the targets we need to meet to avoid the Apocalypse (if still possible), and 3) workable strategies to achieve those targets. My posts reflect my latest understanding of these issues, and any comments they can attract to further my understanding are useful. My measure of ‘success’ in blog posting relates to the improvement in understanding resulting from any dialogue stimulated.

    In some sense, the discourse on this blog, and the other major climate blogs, reminds me of theological discussions. The numerical targets that must be met to (hopefully) avoid the Apocalypse are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from any actions being taken today, and there are no credible precursors showing the potential for movement away from the polar end of the spectrum. Spratt, in the column I’ve referenced (, discusses the recent Australian poll showing, in his words “We lost our majority.” I would quarrel with his choice of words: this was a majority on paper, at best. A country that had the supposed overwhelming support for global warming action in 2006-2008, as the poll chart shows, would not shift so dramatically to elect an unabashed opponent of climate action like Tony Abbott, especially in light of the weather extremes Australia has experienced in recent years.

    Spratt goes on to analyze the different segments of the poll responders, and he draws this conclusion: “Looking in more detail at this middle group, the fact that they are unwilling to countenance climate policies they perceive as costing them even a small amount — hence Abbott’s largely fallacious but effective appeal to “cost of living pressures” and electricity prices — will only change when the visceral impacts of climate change — on health, home, livelihoods, children — are well understood as personally affecting their lives in a significant way, and sooner rather than later.”

    I think he’s correct, and I don’t believe that attitude is limited to Australia. Now, contrast that with my statements of what actions and economic consequences are required if we are to avoid the Apocalypse. Even for the Anderson base case, which has a reasonable amount of carbon budget remaining, the 10-20% annual CO2 emissions cuts required for decades would translate into annual GDP reductions on the order of 6-15% for years, since GDP is related strongly to fossil fuel use. This would lead to a major Depression of unthinkable proportions. For the other cases, where I showed we have run out of carbon budget and have piled up various amounts of carbon debt, the CO2 emissions cuts required would be far higher than for the Anderson base case, and the scale of the resulting Depression would be much larger. How do we relate this easy-to-show reality to the above “the fact that they are unwilling to countenance climate policies they perceive as costing them even a small amount”.

    So, what some/many of us are doing on this blog are sounding the alarm for immediate action, and proposing radical strategies with differing levels of radicalism. They bear no relation to actions being taken by governments or actions demanded by voters to start implementing some of these amelioration strategies. In the larger picture, ‘success’ has nothing to do with what we are posting here.