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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. 351
    Walter says:

    #335 Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Thanks so much for the ‘nasty’ tone of your reply. It was not appreciated.

    TLE said: “What I think you might mean is that YOU could care less how scientists do their work” – Incorrect

    “and that YOU want or demand valid proven findings that YOU trust and understand vis a vis – FACTS.” – Incorrect, a misrepresentation of what was said.

    “You speak only for yourself,…”

    Yes I speak only for myself. But like thousands of others on this planet I also have common sense, can understand what others say and mean and how they think, and report such matters to others in writing about them. With or without academic and science papers to back up such comments.

    Just as any journo can do, as any author or classroom teacher can do, so can I relay ideas of one group to another group. But still, yes, here I do speak for myself and express those things that I opine/believe are of some value for others and on topic. If I didn’t think that I would not send in a comment.

    Neither would you Thomas. You only speak for yourself to. You are actually doing the very thing you are complaining that I do and shouldn’t. In this case however you cannot speak for me personally because I am here reading what you wrote and I know it is false with no evidence at all to support you, bar what you ‘believe’ is true. It is not true Thomas.

    “….especially when it comes to science, and I’m sorry to be the one to have to say something very few other people say about these kinds of casual comments, but science does not work the way that YOU want it too or in the way that your comment reveals to me how you think it does. Sorry. Your beliefs about what ‘other’ people think are meaningless here.”

    Also incorrect. I know what I believe and think, and it is shown by what I wrote here. Your beliefs about what I think are meaningless because they are egregiously false. Thomas you have no right to misrepresent what I have said and intended and was focusing upon on the sole basis of you not understanding it and by taking ‘offense’ where none existed and becoming unnecessarily ‘defensive’.

    There was no attack by me made against scientists nor science nor methodology nor evidence in what I have written anywhere on these pages. None. Thomas I suggest you should reconsider the basis of your false assumptions and perhaps apologize for and withdraw your comments unreservedly. They were completely wrong and inappropriate.


  2. 352
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Walter — 3 Feb 2014 @ 9:18 PM

    So you say.


    Capcha says “sabooms from” which sounds pretty much like something from Stan Freberg who I think of as a mentor for us all.

  3. 353
    Walter says:

    #347 Jim Eager says:
    3 Feb 2014 at 7:24 PM
    Diogenes, will you please stop with the “we’re stuck between the rock and hard place” mantra and cut to the chase.
    What’s your solution? I mean other than spread our legs, bend over and kiss our….

    Jim, Diogenes can speak for himself, but I have this to say on my own behest.
    My understanding of what Diogenes has presented here rests upon the primary point of the need for broad agreement as to the present state of reality, and the current trajectory the globe is on regarding GHG emissions. AS it has been presented by the science community, IPCC, energy experts, and others.

    Looks to me that those most aggrieved and annoyed by Diogenes ongoing comments are those who have not yet even agreed with him as to the current reality. I see little point in anyone presenting add on solutions to a problem when they have not yet agreed there is a problem to the extent he has portrayed.

    The horse should come before the cart. Shouldn’t it?

    I also see him presenting his ideas and the basis for his thoughts and then asking for others to comment about that and feed on more accurate info or ideas in order for him to improve his overall understanding and how he presents his ideas.

    Criticisms of his person or word usuage or endlessly focusing on “what is the big picture solution” is unhelpful.

    Does anyone know anyone else who has the Magic Bullet Solution? Do you or anyone here? Why insist Diogenes should be the one to have one?

    This is all so fundamentally illogical to me, and so I simply ignore it and avoid it. But as I said the other day, I am a little weird. I have my own way of viewing the world that isn’t universal by a long shot.


  4. 354
    wili says:

    A relevant piece for your consideration. Only about 18 minutes long. “Enough is Enough”

    Blurb: “Enough Is Enough lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth—an economy where the goal is enough, not more. Based on the best-selling book by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill, the film explores specific strategies to fix the financial system, reduce inequality, create jobs, and more. Drawing on the expertise of Tim Jackson, Kate Pickett, Andrew Simms, Natalie Bennett, and Ben Dyson, Enough Is Enough is the primer for achieving genuine prosperity and a hopeful future for all. “

  5. 355
    wili says:

    Another bit of info and discussion relevant to the discussion: David Holmgren on problems with growth, collapse, and other things.

  6. 356
    Walter says:

    #352 Steve Fish

    Re- Comment by Walter — 3 Feb 2014 @ 9:18 PM

    Thanks very much for kind, insightful, and wise insight. Breathtakingly succinct! Real Climate visitors will be all the better for it in the years to come. Excellent. Do keep it up.

    Yours appreciatively,


  7. 357
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Are you 100% certain

    Not the right question, about science.

  8. 358
    wili says:

    One more bit: The only time there has actually been a global reduction (for however briefly) in CO2 emissions in the last few decades was during the global recession of 2007-8:

  9. 359
    Chuck Hughes says:

    LONDON — Prince Charles has called people who deny human-made climate change a “headless chicken brigade” who are ignoring overwhelming scientific evidence.

    The heir to the British throne, a dedicated environmentalist, accused “powerful groups of deniers” of mounting “a barrage of sheer intimidation” against opponents.

    He made the comments at a Buckingham Palace awards ceremony on Thursday.

    Charles said it was “baffling … that in our modern world we have such blind trust in science and technology that we all accept what science tells us about everything — until, that is, it comes to climate science.”

  10. 360
    DIOGENES says:

    Jim Eager #347,

    “What’s your solution?”

    Read #291 again. It is the one solution on this blog that will achieve the necessary targets to (hopefully) avoid the Apocalypse.

  11. 361
    DIOGENES says:

    Walter #353,

    “Does anyone know anyone else who has the Magic Bullet Solution? Do you or anyone here? Why insist Diogenes should be the one to have one?”

    In #291, I identified the numerical targets that have to be met to avoid the Apocalypse (if, in fact, it can be avoided at this late date), and I outlined one potential solution that would achieve the required targets. The main component of the solution is very sharp reduction in fossil fuel use, undoubtedly leading to a global Depression for years. Hansen’s Plos One paper sans massive reforestation would give you exactly that conclusion, Anderson’s computations based on ~1 C would give you exactly that conclusion, McKibben’s ‘new math’ based on 1 C would give you exactly that conclusion….. All three have stated that ~1 C is the appropriate scientific target.

    Oh, by the way, no one, including the moderators, has challenged the numerical targets, and no one has offered any other approach that would achieve these quantitative targets. Like it or not, this is what we as a collective global society have to do.

  12. 362
    Walter says:

    #357 Hank, that’s a very strange response given it was a question to Patrick about his choices of word usage and semantics to describe something. That’s not a science statement but a personal opinion question. I hope you can see the difference.

    #340 I thought was an unusual comment to make, in particular if it is appropriate to broadly label unnamed others of ‘poor thinking’ or was there a specific error in logic or data you wanted to address about something?


  13. 363

    Just going to say that, long about the time comments from yesterday were edging toward the new page, I was seeing a few dozen other people bearing witness against Keystone XL, on a cold Atlanta street corner. Love realclimate, and cherish the insights often to be found here.

    But this morning I want to suggest that perhaps some of the energy around this particular thread would be more usefully manifested on some other street corner on a like occasion. There will be many more such occasions, no doubt, and the more energy, the better.

  14. 364
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Diogenes, I perused your 291, and I saw nothing that resembles a plan. “Don’t burn fossil fuels,” is not a plan.

    Somehow we need to get from an economy where 80-90% of our energy comes from fossil fuels to one where virtually all of it comes from renewables. Do you not agree?

    We need to do so as quickly as possible–certainly within 20 years. No?

    This means we must replace the fossil fuel infrastructure with a renewable infrastructure, does it not?

    That requires a whole helluva lot of economic activity, doesn’t it?

    It also requires a lot of technological development, no?

    So, how can that equate to a 15% decrease year on year in economic activity? It seems to me that we ought to be able to achieve nearly 100% employment just building the new infrastructure over this period.

    Maybe you should rethink things.

  15. 365
    DIOGENES says:

    Ray Ladbury #364,

    I appreciate your comments; they are well thought out and well-considered. I will address them in order.

    “Diogenes, I perused your 291, and I saw nothing that resembles a plan. “Don’t burn fossil fuels,” is not a plan.”

    Cutting back drastically on fossil fuel use is a key part of the plan. If you agree with the targets I define in #291, and agree with the conclusion that we have run out of carbon budget today, then the sharpest cutback in fossil fuels that we are willing to bear as a society is required.

    “Somehow we need to get from an economy where 80-90% of our energy comes from fossil fuels to one where virtually all of it comes from renewables. Do you not agree?”

    Depends on your objectives. If your main objective is continued survival of the human species with reasonable probability, then our need is to eliminate use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible and bring down atmospheric CO2 concentrations as rapidly as possible. If a secondary objective is maintenance of a lifestyle resembling to some degree that which we enjoy today, then our need is to expand low-carbon sources as rapidly as possible along with higher energy efficiency technologies. I think survival needs to be separated from lifestyle, at least on paper, since the strategies for addressing the two may be somewhat different.

    “We need to do so as quickly as possible–certainly within 20 years. No?”

    According to #291, we have run out of carbon budget, and have probably run up substantial carbon debt. Every day we delay the drastic action I believe is required we get one step closer to the Apocalypse. I appreciate Anderson, McKibben, Hansen et al have the best of intentions, and they have all been willing to put their necks on the line for their climate change amelioration beliefs. However, for Anderson and McKibben, their time frames and reductions don’t mesh with the targets they state are scientifically-based. My only time estimate for the reduction is as fast as the traffic is willing to bear.

    “This means we must replace the fossil fuel infrastructure with a renewable infrastructure, does it not?”

    I haven’t disagreed, nor have Anderson, McKibben, and Hansen. Remember, however, it is the secondary objective I have stated above, and if any aspects of the implementing strategy conflict with those of the primary objective, the primary objective (by definition) comes first.

    “That requires a whole helluva lot of economic activity, doesn’t it?”

    Yes, and no one disagrees with that, including myself, Anderson, McKibben, and Hansen.

    “It also requires a lot of technological development, no?”

    There happens to be much technology on-the-shelf ready to go; that’s really what we need for the short time frames of interest. More technology development will be useful, but we can’t expect results in the time frame of interest, where e.g. turning down your thermostats in Winter and up in Summer can have far more immediate effects.

    “So, how can that equate to a 15% decrease year on year in economic activity? It seems to me that we ought to be able to achieve nearly 100% employment just building the new infrastructure over this period.”

    I don’t have access to the models that e.g. Anderson or Hansen use for their CO2 emission estimates and their renewables/nuclear implementation estimates, so I am at a disadvantage with respect to specifics. Look, during the Great Depression, we instituted many projects focused on infrastructure development with the purpose of keeping people employed. At that time, reduced use of fossil fuels was not an issue. We could do something similar in the transition period to non-carbon energy sources. Between reforestation and e.g. building renewables facilities, we could undoubtedly keep many people employed. What fraction of the total available labor force, I have no idea. But, there would be the added constraint of minimal fossil fuel energy use during that period, and whatever time is required for ALL fossil energy sources to be eliminated. For an ultra-rapid transition of e.g. electricity production to renewables, we would have to retire existing fossil fuel plants before their projected lifetimes. Somebody will have to bear the costs associated with that early retirement, and I can guess who. So, while there could be substantial employment associated with the conversion to non-fossil sources and reforestation, I don’t know whether it would be adequate, and I don’t see maintenance of GDP activity under the sharp fossil fuel use constraints.

    At this point, I still agree with Anderson and others who have studied this conversion in detail that sharp reductions in GDP will result from the sharp reductions in fossil fuel use in this interim transition period.

    “Maybe you should rethink things.”

    I never said I had the final answer. If someone can show me (with detailed calculations) how we can achieve the above objectives and avoid Depression, I would welcome it. I have not seen it yet.

  16. 366
    Jim Eager says:

    “Read #291 again.”

    I just did. Like Ray, I see no plan, just broad stroke generalizations that we need to reduce energy demand, replace carbon based energy with renewables, and plant trees, none of which are new ideas, and none of which I disagree with. But you offer no plan how to implement those strategies.

    What you do offer is voluminous, repetative descriptions of how screwed we are (which I also don’t disagree with), I assume to use as a motivational hammer. The problem, based on my on-the-ground experience over the past several years trying to communicate the seriousness of the situation and help people to reduce their consumption, is that it is a hammer that does not work well. All it does is depress people and motivate them to stop listening, turn off and just throw in the towel.

  17. 367
    wili says:

    Please take a moment to look over the linked paper:

    “Allowable carbon emissions lowered by multiple climate targets”
    Marco Steinacher, Fortunat Joos & Thomas F. Stocker Corresponding author
    Climate and Environmental Physics, Universityof Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
    Oeschger Centrefor Climate Change Research, Universityof Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
    Contact Marco Steinacher
    Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12269
    Published online 03 July

    If you are in a hurry, just scroll down to figure 4 on page 7. Most of the crucial information is here.

    Note the indication of the carbon ‘budget’ already used by 2011 on the lower left, and adjust for a couple more years of emissions (at about 35 Gt/year now, that would add about another 70 Gt to that black bar).

    With that addition we have blown past the possibility of having a 90% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, if all effects of that increase (considered in this study) are factored in.

    Note that the graph and study does not even consider the possibility of staying below one degree C. Why do you suppose that is?

    You are pushing a baby in a buggy. You suddenly find that you have come to the edge of a cliff and the front wheels have gone over… so there is now a 10 percent chance the kid will fall out of the buggy down the cliff. There is about a 30% chance that if you go another foot forward the baby will stay in the buggy and not fall down into the chasm below. Do you keep going that next foot? That is the question before us.

    Ray, thanks for pointing out that important protest/vigil. My daughter went (so proud of her!). I couldn’t for reasons I won’t go into. I will sent letters to the president and all representatives, something I hope others here will do, too.

  18. 368
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes wrote: “Cutting back drastically on fossil fuel use is a key part of the plan.”

    As Ray Ladbury pointed out, “cut back drastically on fossil fuel use” is not a plan. It’s a bumper sticker slogan.

    Stating what everyone here already knows — that the anthropogenic excess of CO2 is already dangerous, so we must stop increasing it as soon as possible — does not constitute a “plan” for realizing that goal. Setting pointless “targets” for dangerous GHG levels that must be avoided, when GHGs are quite obviously ALREADY at a dangerous level, does not constitute a “plan”.

    And indeed, you have repeatedly failed or refused to suggest any specific actions, let alone a comprehensive “plan” for “cutting back drastically on fossil fuel use” within the time frame that is required.

    What you have done is to attack every proposal for replacing fossil fuels with zero-emissions energy technologies with ad hominem nonsense about “ominous money making motives”, and to reject efficiency improvements out of hand as a means of reducing demand.

    What you have done is to repeat over and over and over that eliminating fossil fuel use MUST result in “severe economic reductions” and “deprivation and hardship” — assertions which you have failed or refused to support with any evidence whatsoever.

    This line of discourse that renewable energy is a “money making scam” and that rapidly phasing out fossil fuel use will destroy the economy and subject us all to deprivation and hardship is a familiar one.

    Usually, though, it winds up accusing Al Gore of promoting renewable energy for “ominous money making motives”, not me.

    For the record, I am not fat, and I do not live in a big house.

  19. 369
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Getting to zero carbon is not a plan. It is a goal. The plan is HOW we get there. It is no more helpful for you to say that we’ve run out of carbon budget than it is for John Boehner to say, “We’re broke!” We are not going to achieve a zero carbon economy solely by cutting back on burning fossil fuels any more than the US will achieve a balanced budget by cutting spending alone.

    Yes, we’ve squandered nearly 30 years. As I said on Tamino’s Open Mind recently, we are like the 6 and 9 team that must not only win our last game, but have 3 other teams lose to squeak by into the playoffs. We do not entirely control our own destiny and will have to get lucky to avoid catastrophe. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get out there and kick some serious ass in the portion of our fate we do control.

  20. 370
    flxible says:

    Somehow we need ….
    We need to do so …
    This means we must …
    That requires …
    It also requires …
    Maybe you should rethink things Hank, that’s a lot of assumptions that pre-define a solution. Start with the “economy” part. Who will be the final beneficiary of all this wonderful economic techno-revolution, the planet or some few beneficent investors? And is “we” the vegetarians or the meat eaters? The generation who’ll be dead in 20 years or the generation that’s just being born?

    What I see is the planet following the path that humanity has set with the assumption that humanity and it’s “economy” is the center of the universe, and our growth, comfort, plans and desires set the agenda.

    You know Ma Nature bats last, so you’re trying to throw a knuckle ball?

    RECAPTCHA says “subject USASite”

  21. 371
    DIOGENES says:

    Ray Ladbury #369,

    “Getting to zero carbon is not a plan. It is a goal. The plan is HOW we get there.”

    The goal is to keep peak temperature during the transition as close to 1 C as possible. The plan consists of the components for achieving this, and I have listed them at the appropriate level of generality. The approach is the specific steps required to implement the plan.

    I have separated the plan into two parts: primary component is aimed at species survival, and secondary component is aimed at lifestyle maintenance. The present global mode of energy expenditure has these two components inverted, and many, if not all, of the approaches we see presented on this blog retain this inversion. The approach for the primary component is sharp reduction in fossil fuel use in the transition period, and massive reforestation (if possible). The approach for the secondary component is rapid introduction of renewables/nuclear and energy efficiency improvements. If there are any conflicting requirements between the two, the primary component requirements take precedence over the secondary component requirements (e.g., [hypothetically] too much fossil fuel expenditure would be involved in the total nuclear mining/construction process).

    I suspect what you’re really asking is for the details of the approach for sharp reduction in fossil fuel use in the transition period. You outlined the approach in one of your postings: start with the lowest hanging fruit, and work your way up the tree. I could probably list 100 examples, and you could as well. Turn down the thermostats drastically in Winter (as we have done) and turn them up drastically in Summer. Close fossil energy intensive facilities, such as ski resorts. Eliminate energy-intensive cattle breeding. Eliminate any non-essential fossil-based travel……

    This is the minimum required to achieve the CO2 emissions reductions target. All these activities to be eliminated help generate a lot of economic activity at present, and when they are eliminated in the transition period, will lead to a massive Depression. Yes, people will be needed to reforest and to construct low-carbon replacements for fossil fuels (using very low carbon approaches for these replacement and reforestation processes), but they will not be able to generate the economic activity in this transition period to maintain GDP.

    Keep in mind, every gram of fossil fuel expended for any activity during the transition period from today’s fossil fuel use to essentially zero total fossil fuel use (covering far more than electricity conversion) takes us that much closer to the Apocalypse. That’s the meaning of having run out of carbon budget and run up carbon debt.

  22. 372
    Joe Cushley says:

    Chuck Hughes #359

    Oh bugger. Prince Charles is seen as a bit of a fruitcake in the UK. His record on science has not been good. This could be counter-productive…

  23. 373
    SecularAnimist says:

    FYI …

    How The Northeast Could Cut Carbon Pollution By 75 Percent In 5 Simple Steps
    By Jeff Spross
    February 4, 2014

    A new report says the northeastern U.S. could cut its carbon dioxide emissions in half — just by taking advantage of technology that’s already available.

    “It’s really about heating buildings and powering transportation,” said Jamie Howland, the director of the Climate Energy Analysis Center at ENE, and the report’s lead author. “Those are two things that have traditionally been done directly by fossil fuels.”

    The ENE EnergyVision report covers Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and New Jersey. It notes that over the last decade, oil and coal collapsed as power sources for the electrical grids of those states. Hydroelectric, other renewables, nuclear, and natural gas rose to take their place, making electrical power there greener. So simply switching things like building heat and transportation over to electric power — using technology that’s already commercialized — could deliver huge gains.

    “If you just hypothetically did that, greenhouse gas emissions would be cut in half. I don’t think most people realize that,” Howland said. “You get cost reductions in many cases. And you get those today, with today’s electricity generated by natural gas.”

    Beyond that, combining such a move with a big push onto renewables to power the electrical grid, and the northeast’s emissions could drop 75 percent by 2050.

  24. 374
    wili says:

    Have have not seen anyone here proclaim that Mann or Schmidt or Hansen or anyone else have a perfect plan to address the problems they present us with, or that they should just shut up if they can’t present such a perfect plan along with their grim news. So why the double standard with Diogenes. He is adding essentially one element to the discussion, an element that should be stunningly obvious to anyone not totally blinded by the prevalent pro-growth ideologies of our day–that element is that we can’t have economic growth and a viable planet.

    Why should he even bother presenting a plan to people who can’t even see that this premise is inescapable.

    It’s like arguing against someone’s proposition that one plus one equals two, but also insisting that that person develop calculus and ring theory.

    @368 SA wrote: “Setting pointless “targets” for dangerous GHG levels that must be avoided” So, SA would you call the considerable sections of the IPCC report which set just “pointless ‘targets'” to be itself pointless?

  25. 375
    Hank Roberts says:

    flxible, who are you quoting at 4 Feb 2014 @ 12:14 PM?
    You seem to attribute to me words I didn’t write and don’t believe.

    You’re replying to someone who posted what I call IEWOK notions:

    “If everybody would only know”

    — everybody never does, though.

  26. 376
    wili says:

    SA @ #373. Thanks for pointing this out. Yes, there are a lot of things we can and should be doing. But, yet again, the timing is crucial. The last line of your quote is: “northeast’s emissions could drop 75 percent by 2050.” But we need even greater cuts and most of that has to come much much earlier than 2050. Still, these are clearly a big part of what we have to be working toward longer term.

    For those actually interested in reducing CO2 emissions starting now, let’s get on with radically reducing demand and with withdrawing as much as we can from the finance economy. The global financial system is in a fragile state right now, and it may not take much of a push from consumers in the developed world pulling back to get the crash we need.

  27. 377
    SecularAnimist says:

    wili wrote: “So why the double standard with Diogenes.”

    There is no “double standard”. Diogenes has repeately pointed to his comment #291, saying that it provides “the one solution” that will “avoid the Apocalypse”.

    In fact, it contains no “solutions” at all — not even one single specific proposal for reducing emissions. Just his repetitive insistence that ending emissions must require “severe economic reductions” and “deprivation and hardship”.

  28. 378
    Jim Bullis says:

    I remain puzzled why there has not been a more determined move to stimulate plankton growth in the oceans.

    The reports I read sounded like the only thing done was a half-hearted experiment by people who were not really hoping for success. A determined effort to establish a serious method is still necessary, and this seems to hold real practical promise.

    There are other things to do that would not bring economic harm. There are even possibilities that could bring prosperity. But a lot more creativity is needed than to just insist on severe limitations on fossil fuel usage.

    I read the words ‘massive reforestation’ which might hint at constructive action, though my approach would not require the ‘re’ prefix, and thus my ‘massive’ could be really massive.

  29. 379
    flxible says:

    Hank, apologies, my comment was in response to Ray @364

  30. 380
    Walter says:

    Considering scientific based analysis, interpretations and implications.

    About ‘Words’ that often get people confused and into arguments.

    When I use them in context of climate change science I mean what is said in the IPCC Glossary. When I use them in other contexts I do not. If that matters to anyone, or be able to remember anyway. I think having the same word meanings and be clear about that is helpful in ‘discussions’.

    From the IPCC AR5 WG1 Report: This glossary defines some specific terms as the Lead Authors INTEND them to be INTERPRETED in the CONTEXT of this Report.

    I believe that within online discussions 99.9999% of people only care about what they mean, NOT what the people they are TALKING AT mean or understand.

    I believe these word definitions are very often misused and/or misunderstood, which is why I have copied and pasted sections here to make it easier for others to re-consider their own beliefs and memories if they wish:

    #1 in importance
    UUNCERTAINTY A state of incomplete knowledge that can result from a
    LACK of INFORMATION or from DISAGREEMENT about what is known or even

    It may have many types of sources, from imprecision in the data to AMBIGUOUSLY DEFINED CONCEPTS or TERMINOLOGY, or uncertain projections

    Uncertainty can therefore be represented by quantitative measures (e.g., a probability density function) or by qualitative statements (e.g., reflecting the judgment of a team of experts)

    (see Moss and Schneider, 2000; Manning et al., 2004; Mastrandrea et al., 2010). See also Confidence and Likelihood.

    More words

    Abrupt climate change A large-scale change in the climate system [..]
    and causes substantial disruptions in human and natural systems.

    Afforestation Planting of new forests on lands that historically have
    not contained forests. For a discussion of the term forest and related terms such as afforestation, reforestation and deforestation, see the IPCC Special Report on Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (IPCC, 2000).

    Anthropogenic Resulting from or produced by human activities.

    Blocking It is an important component of the intraseasonal climate
    variability in the extratropics and can cause long-lived weather conditions
    such as cold spells in winter and summer heat waves.

    Chaotic A dynamical system such as the climate system, governed by
    nonlinear deterministic equations (see Nonlinearity), may exhibit erratic or chaotic behaviour [..] . Such chaotic behaviour limits the predictability of the state of a nonlinear dynamical system at specific future times

    Climate change (UNFCCC), in its Article 1, defines climate change as: ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability

    Climate feedback In this Assessment Report, a somewhat narrower definition is often used in which the climate quantity that is perturbed is the global mean surface temperature, which in turn causes changes in the global radiation budget. In either case, the initial perturbation can either be externally forced or arise as part of internal variability.

    Climate prediction A climate prediction or climate forecast is the
    result of an ATTEMPT to produce (starting from a particular state of the
    climate system) an estimate of the actual evolution of the climate in
    the future.

    Climate projection A climate projection is the simulated response of
    the climate system to a scenario of future emission or concentration of
    greenhouse gases and aerosols, generally derived using climate models.
    Climate projections are distinguished from climate predictions by their
    dependence on the emission/concentration/radiative forcing scenario

    Projection A projection is a potential future evolution of a quantity or
    set of quantities, often computed with the aid of a model. Unlike predictions, projections are conditional on assumptions concerning, for example, future SOCIOECONOMIC and technological developments that may or MAY NOT BE realized

    Climate scenario A plausible and often simplified representation of the future climate, based on an internally consistent set of climatological
    relationships that has been constructed for explicit use in investigating
    the potential consequences of anthropogenic climate change, often serving as input to impact models.

    Scenario A PLAUSIBLE description of how the future may develop based on a coherent and internally consistent set of assumptions about key driving forces (e.g., rate of technological change, prices) and relationships. NOTE that scenarios are NEITHER Predictions nor Forecasts!

    Drought A period of abnormally dry weather long enough to cause a
    serious hydrological imbalance. Drought is a relative term; […] A period with an abnormal precipitation deficit is defined as a meteorological drought. A megadrought is a very lengthy and pervasive drought, lasting much longer than normal, usually a decade or more.

    Energy budget (of the Earth) The Earth is a physical system with
    an energy budget that includes all gains of incoming energy and all losses
    of outgoing energy. The Earth’s energy budget is determined by measuring how much energy comes into the Earth system from the Sun, how much energy is lost to space, and accounting for the remainder on Earth and its atmosphere.

    Extreme climate event See Extreme weather event.

    Extreme weather event An extreme weather event is an event that is rare at a particular place and time of year. Definitions of rare vary, but an extreme weather event would normally be as rare as or rarer than the 10th or 90th percentile of a probability density function estimated from

    Extreme sea level See Storm surge.

    Storm surge The temporary increase, at a particular locality, in the
    height of the sea due to extreme meteorological conditions …

    Heat wave A period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot weather.

    Irreversibility A perturbed state of a dynamical system is defined as
    irreversible on a given timescale, if the recovery timescale from this state due to natural processes is significantly longer than the time it takes for the system to reach this perturbed state. In the context of WGI, the time scale of interest is centennial to millennial. See also Tipping point.

    Tipping point In climate, a hypothesized critical threshold when global
    or regional climate changes from one stable state to another stable state.
    The tipping point event may be irreversible. See also Irreversibility.

    Likelihood The chance of a specific outcome occurring, where this
    might be estimated probabilistically.

    Methane (CH4) Methane is one of the six greenhouse gases to be mitigated under the Kyoto Protocol and is the major component of natural gas.

    Mitigation A human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the
    sinks of greenhouse gases

    Near-surface permafrost A term  frequently  used in climate model
    applications to refer to permafrost at depths close to the ground surface
    (typically down to 3.5 m).

    Nonlinearity A process is called nonlinear when there is no simple proportional relation between cause and effect. The climate system contains
    many such nonlinear processes.

    Permafrost Ground (soil or rock and included ice and organic material)
    that remains at or below 0°C for at least TWO consecutive years.

    Prediction quality/skill Measures of the success of a prediction against observationally based information. No single measure can summarize all aspects of forecast quality and a suite of metrics is considered.

    RAPID adjustment The response to an agent perturbing the climate
    system that is driven directly by the agent, independently of any change
    in the global mean surface temperature. [..] Adjustments are rapid in the sense that they begin to occur right away, before climate feedbacks which are driven by warming (although some adjustments may still take significant time to proceed to completion, for example those involving vegetation or ice sheets). It is also called the rapid response or fast adjustment.

    Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) Scenarios that
    include time series of emissions and concentrations of the full suite of
    greenhouse gases and aerosols and chemically active gases, as well as land
    use/land cover (Moss et al., 2008). The word representative signifies that
    each RCP provides only one of many possible scenarios that would lead to
    the specific radiative forcing characteristics. The term pathway emphasizes
    that not only the long-term concentration levels are of interest, but also
    the trajectory taken over time to reach that outcome.

    RCP2.6 One pathway where radiative forcing peaks at approximately 3 W m–2 before 2100 and then declines.

    RCP8.5 One high pathway for which radiative forcing reaches greater than 8.5 W m–2 by 2100.

    Response time The response time or adjustment time is the time needed for the climate system or its components to re-equilibrate to a new state, following a forcing resulting from external processes

    Trend In this report, the word trend designates a change, generally
    monotonic in time, in the value of a variable.

  31. 381
    SecularAnimist says:

    wili wrote: “The last line of your quote is: ‘northeast’s emissions could drop 75 percent by 2050.’ But we need even greater cuts and most of that has to come much much earlier than 2050.”

    Note that the study projects that a 50 percent reduction by 2050 can be achieved by replacing the direct use of fossil fuels for heating buildings and fueling ground transport with electricity, even using today’s fossil fuel generated electricity — and the 75 percent is achievable by substantially replacing fossil fuel generation with renewable energy.

    Those are important steps given that heating buildings and fueling vehicles are among the top sources of GHG emissions. But those are far from the only measures that could be implemented to reduce emissions without requiring draconian “deprivation and hardship”, and in fact they would promote economic prosperity.

    I agree, and have commented here a number of times, that in my view we need to reduce global GHG emissions to near zero as rapidly as possible, beginning as soon as possible, with the steepest reductions coming up front.

  32. 382
    Walter says:

    #368 SecularAnimist says:
    quote “As Ray Ladbury pointed out, “cut back drastically on fossil fuel use” is not a plan. It’s a bumper sticker slogan.”

    quote “replacing fossil fuels with zero-emissions energy technologies” – isn’t that just another Bumper Sticker comment too SA? What is your specific plan of action to achieve that?

    quote “…assertions which you have failed or refused to support with any evidence whatsoever.”

    SA where is your evidence/data about your plan to rapidly replace fossil fuel use with renewable sources? I have never seen one mentioned by you except for Bumper Sticker typical comments made by yourself and also others here.

    How is it bad for Diogenes to present vague general themes about emergency goals/action as a matter of urgency, but when you and others do the exact same thing it is seen as OK and is somehow considered science based as opposed to a vague generality?

    Where is the fully detailed Economic scenario 2 decades into the future by Hansen et al? It is not in their paper. It is not in Anderson’s writings and talks. They don’t get down to the GDP % impacts either. They don;t produce a detailed global financial budget, but you seem to be asking Diogenes to produce one here. Why is that, because I do not understand why you and others are making such a big emotional deal about it?

    These comments attacking Diogenes make zero rational sense to me when they are done like this. It’s just more ad hominem criticisms on top of other frustrated ‘ad hom’ type activeness by him in response to criticism of himself and his ideas presented in good faith here.

    Is he supposed to be perfect or something in being able to ‘present a valid written case’ for urgent change? M Mann wrote a decent article for the NYTs, but I didn’t see any supporting references to peer reviewed studies nor GDP data to support his ‘opinions’ about the seriousness of the climate change challenge today.

    This discussion is not dialogue, not valid arguments, not anywhere near the scientific method of how discussions among trained scientists usually operates, and it certainly is not reason or common sense at play.

    “For the record, I am not fat, and I do not live in a big house.”

    I believe you SA. Now what is your specific plan to rapidly reduce GHG emissions and replace them with renewable energy sources …. what should be the yearly cut as a % to GHGs going forward from 2015?

    Or is it not a serious problem today? Maybe you believe it will simply sort itself out by itself and common sense by the politicians and business leaders of the world. I don;t know what you think, except you don’t like what Diogenes thinks. That doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in my perspective. It’s merely shouting one’s beliefs and opinions from the battlements. That’s not reason and logic at work. It’s pure emotional bs.

    SA, what will be the specific effect on GDP activity globally and regionally and nationally, eg recession, depression or increasing economic Growth of your longterm plan to cut GHGs?

    Also who out of the 7 billion people on the planet should be the ones who immediately cut there GHG emissions the most and by what % and for how long?

    I fail to see how it is reasonable or rational to criticize another for not being able to detail a proposal when those making the criticisms fail to be able to present the same level of detail when they make “Bumper Sticker” comments themselves, and repeatedly so right here.

    Makes no sense to me. Maybe I am too dumb to work it out. Perhaps you could enlighten me better?


  33. 383
    Walter says:

    SecularAnimist says:
    wili wrote: “So why the double standard with Diogenes.”

    SA says: There is no “double standard”.

    Oh yes there is. It is blatant, overt and under spot lights. The kinds of responses and criticisms he is receiving are belligerent and recalcitrant and illogical.

    They are also hypocritical as Wili pointed out, though he didn’t specifically use that word, it is the most appropriate one to describe this situation. Wili has got this down pat, in far less words than I used to basically say the exact same thing.


  34. 384
    Walter says:

    #374 wili: “Why should he even bother presenting a plan to people who can’t even see that this premise is inescapable?”

    He shouldn’t bother. Diogenes would be better off taking his excellent ideas elsewhere and discussing them further with people who appreciate them and him.

    assuming it’s a him)NO pointing bashing one’s head on a brick wall. It will only give one a headache and a lump.


  35. 385
    Walter says:

    #373 SecularAnimist says:
    “How The Northeast Could Cut Carbon Pollution By 75 Percent In 5 Simple Steps – A new report says the northeastern U.S. “COULD” cut its carbon dioxide emissions in half — just by taking advantage of technology that’s already available.”

    SA what is your Plan to make that a reality? Is it just another Bumper Sticker report?

    “If you just hypothetically did that, greenhouse gas emissions would be cut in half.”

    OK, fine. But that is only a HYPOTHETICAL, and not a real Plan Mr Secular.

    What is your plan to make this a reality SA? Please can you be detailed and specific, and also include the Economics of such a thing plus the Political change needed as you are aware of implementing this Bumper Sticker Idea.

    Otherwise it is only attention seeking rhetoric and a dreamlike mythical fantasy, without a real Plan.

    “Beyond that, combining such a move with a big push onto renewables to power the electrical grid, and the northeast’s emissions could drop 75 percent by 2050.”

    “a big push” is not Science, nor economics, nor Political realism. Can you define the “push” that is needed in real numbers and over what time scale and at what Cost in hard $ please? What will be the affect on NE USA GDP grwoth, and upon employment, manufacturing businesses, and all the positive and negative spin-off effects across the Economy?

    What will happen to the massive recent investment in Shale Gas developments in the NE USA, and the capital that already been committed to those projects? Will any of those projects go broke? Will the US Govt lose out on investment subsidies given to those Gas projects? What wil be the implications of this nationally and geo-politically into the future to 2050?

    Can the NE afford the spare the Capital to buy all this Wind and Solar Infrastructure from China, or being built inside the USA? What does your research tell you about this already please?

    Sounds attractive, a 75% reduction by 2050, yet it appears to be not enough nor soon enough. The NE alone won’t change the worlds temperature alone by itself. What about the rest of the USA and the rest of the world too?

    Isn’t this really what you yourself have labelled as another Bumper Sticker: “The NE saves the globe from overheating!” Meaningless stuff.

    If it is not meaningless, then neither is what Diogenes has to say about the current reality and the constraints involved in reversing the current trend of massive growth in Fossil Fuel Use and GHGs now into the future.

    Am I wrong? Can you answer any of these critical questions and produce a credible plan for even achieving such a small gain in the NE USA?

    I don’t think you can SA. But I am willing to be proven wrong.

    In fact I think presenting this material above actually proves how wrong you and others are for being so critical of Diogenes and ignoring the valid rational and logical ideas he has so far presented.


  36. 386
    SecularAnimist says:

    wili wrote: “we can’t have economic growth and a viable planet.”

    That depends entirely on how you define “economic growth”. The fossil fuel interests, for example, prefer to define economic growth as “continued growth in consumption of fossil fuels”. Others reject that definition and see that sustainable, equitable prosperity for people everywhere can be achieved through maximally efficient use of zero-emission renewable energy sources.

    Also, there are many challenges to preserving a “viable planet”. Ending anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and drawing down the already dangerous excess of atmospheric GHGs, is just one of them, and it is the one that is relevant to the purpose of this site, so it’s the one that gets discussed on these comment pages.

    It is also unique in that we have abundant, indeed virtually limitless, supplies of wind and solar energy which can easily replace fossil fuels. This is not the case with other challenges relating to finite resources, such as fresh water and topsoil, for which there are no replacements.

    As I’ve said before, there most certainly are limits to “growth” — but the energy supply is not one of them.

    wili wrote: “Why should he even bother presenting a plan to people who can’t even see that this premise is inescapable.”

    The assertion that rapidly phasing out fossil fuels MUST result in “severe economic reductions” and “deprivation and hardship” is most certainly not “inescapable”, and Diogenes has offered no evidence whatsoever to support it, and has refused to substantively reply to criticisms of it. He simply repeats it, and attacks his critics with insults and rhetorical fallacies.

  37. 387
    Walter says:

    #381 SA says
    “But those are far from the only measures that could be implemented to reduce emissions without requiring draconian “deprivation and hardship”, and in fact they would promote economic prosperity.”

    You claim this is a “fact”, and doesn’t require ‘draconian’ impacts.

    On what basis do you make this assertion SA? What are the numbers that tell you this is true? Please cite the science or economic or other academic papers that prove this is an accurate portrayal of the reality.

    Then if you can, please tell us what your plan (anyone’s Plan) is to actually implement these actions given the current situation globally and inside the USA regarding AGW/CC beliefs, lack of political will, and the already in place PLANS for ongoing reduction in Nuclear Energy Plants in many nations plus the massive increases of PLANNED Fossil Fuel energy use now up to 2040 across the world as well as inside the USA.

    And I’ll leave this matter alone from now on. I think most readers will see what the real problem actually is by now.


  38. 388
    wili says:

    SA @ #377: Solutions, like causes, have many _levels_.

    Just as there are proximate and ultimate causes (and many levels in between), there are proximate and ultimate solutions. Diogenes (meaning ‘born from God’ I might point out just for fun, and doubtless referring to Diogenes of Sinope a founder of Cynic philosophy who didn’t give much of flying f what anyone thought about his behaviors…) seems to me to presenting something like ultimate solutions–the shift in attitude that is necessary before any tactics for implementation will have much chance. The chilly reception here for this perspective bodes ill for its wider acceptance I’m afraid.

    Jim B. @378, in his usual utilitarianism (some of my best friends are utilitarians), proposes that we solve problems brought on by our massive interventions into global life-support systems we don’t fully understand by intervening massively in global systems that we understand even less.

    But as to SA’s statement at #381: ”

    I agree, and have commented here a number of times, that in my view we need to reduce global GHG emissions to near zero as rapidly as possible, beginning as soon as possible, with the steepest reductions coming up front.” Well, I’m glad we can agree on something here. None of us know how to get there. Let’s all show a smidgen of good humor and patience as we struggle together to try to get some clarity toward a possible path.

  39. 389
    Walter says:

    #306 DIOGENES says: 1 Feb 2014

    Quoting Diogenes:
    “But, you’ve opened up another can of worms, and I would like to see some economists on this blog jump in. Energy use/energy availability has a chicken-and-egg relation to GDP, and is a strong factor.”

    “How will consumers respond; how will investors respond; what else will happen? Will we see a cascading positive feedback mechanism operating, where, like immediately after 9/11, the market and other parts of the economy over-respond, and we end up with a Depression even deeper than I am predicting?”

    “I have no idea, and that’s why I’d like to see some economists address this point.”

    Knowing one’s own personal limitations, and also knowing when to request help from others more qualified is a sign of a healthy well-balanced reality based and rational human individual. At least in my personal experience and knowledge it is.


    Quote Ref:

  40. 390
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Oh, I’m sorry. You wanted the answer to the most difficult problem humans have ever confronted to be easy?

    It was never going to be easy–not even if we’d started making changes 30 years ago when the scientific case had been made. Now, we’ve squandered 3 decades–indeed made things worse for 3 decades. Frankly I do not even know if there is a solution. I do know there won’t be a solution unless we get very lucky.

    Even so, we know where we are. We know where we need to be. We have at least a vague idea of when we need to arrive. That is enough to start with. We’ll have to make do with the technologies available at the time and work like hell to find technologies to fill in the gaps. It won’t be pretty, but maybe it will work. Anyone got a better idea.

  41. 391
    wili says:

    “Anyone got a better idea.” Yep–stop over-consuming the planet.

  42. 392
    Jim Bullis says:

    #388 wili and others

    I am pleased to be thought of as a utilitarian. I rate what I do as to whether it is useful or not. I guess that is the same thing.

    But there seems to be a strain of too much modesty as to what we understand.

    I think we are quite clear on the mechanism of heat transfer and basis of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. But not so clear on ocean interaction as to heat uptake by the ocean, reactions of CO2 using organisms, and rate of actual global warming. But the CO2 imbalance has an effect in a constant direction which over time is a powerful force.

    There already is a massive amount of plankton in the ocean and relatively simple fertilization is said to be capable of expanding this, where such fertilization is no more unnatural than a shift in wind that would cause dust to distribute differently over the ocean. And one would not need to commit instantly to a plan, rather, experimentation could be followed by action, as appropriate.

    Also, massive expansion of forests seems fairly understandable, as this would move to correct the well understood damage from removal of forests, as in the rain forests, and also on our own National account where we mowed down much of our country East of the Mississippi long enough ago that most of us know nothing of it. I advocate for establishing compensating forests, and yes, expanding agriculture of many types, on the vast arid Western lands that are minimally used for much of anything.

    Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans and more recently, Californians were very successful in re-distributing water. This being the key to serious change in the CO2 capturing process by natural means. Whether this is a meaningful concept depends on whether such a system can be established with a sound economic basis, which I think could be in the productivity of agriculture. We might even be wise enough to avoid abusing the environment without being hogtied by excessive caution.

    All the while, we could continue to enable the lifestyles that are clearly the choice of an overwhelming majority by rethinking the automobile to be actually a lot more efficient, and not getting misled into thinking electric vehicles actually accomplish a significant improvement in efficiency.

    My list would accomplish the CO2 reduction with CO2 capture by natural means which would counter use of fossil fuels, not impose draconian limitations. I would argue that we do know well that National productivity is closely tied to availability of cheap energy, and we should also recognize that our National productivity is less and less in the running among world competition, so there is not room for measures that would make the situation a lot worse.

    All the while, significant improvements in real efficiency could lead to reduction in demand for electricity, which would naturally reduce the use of fossil fuels in a way that would reduce cost of energy.

  43. 393
    Walter says:

    If when Ray Ladbury says this: “we know where we are. We know where we need to be. We have at least a vague idea of when we need to arrive”

    I think it is only true if Ray is speaking about Wili and himself, RC readers and maybe the others in his circle.

    But if he actually meant “WE” as in “the world community”, and more narrowly as far as historical responsibility is concerned the “WE” as in 1.25 billion people of the OECD, then the truth is that the clear majority, and especially the Politicians and even the Scientists actually do NOT know where we are exactly , nor WHAT is needed to be done, nor HOW to do it, nor what it will cost, what the impacts will be, nor can agree when the WHEN of it being done by should be or could be.

    This is summarizes the many issues and ideas that have been percolating up through the science led by Hansen, in business, economics, finance and environmental communities throughout 2013 with the noise level increasing near the end. It also is behind the NYTs articles by M Mann as well as his decision to take a law suit as well I believe.

    Followed by many online reports, blog posts, comments, articles, videos, new CC websites beginning, as well as queries by those like Diognenes too. This is coming from all kinds of backgrounds who are raising the exact same issues this 2014, and it is only February.

    At the Davos World Economic Forum climate change didn’t get much press but it was a seriously major focus of the participants. For example and notice the word ‘catastrophic’ here and previous post I made about word choices.

    “…the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions to avoid the catastrophic impacts of global warming.”

    A growing consensus is emerging among the scientific and BUSINESS communities that weather and climate extremes are on the increase, and that climate change contributed to a number of recent natural disasters. These include the European heat wave of 2003, and drought in East Africa in 2011 and in 2012. Losses resulting from climate-related disasters remain unacceptably high – in economic, social and human terms – making it imperative to build resilience, particularly in vulnerable areas.

    Global Agenda Council on Climate Change 2012-2014

    This issue has moved far beyond the domain of ‘climate science’ and scientists alone to drive the AGW and climate change response agenda.

    Yes scientists and their knowledge are still vitally important but they (and the IPCC) can no longer be the only ones responsible to communicate the seriousness of the current reality to the world nor set and guide the pace for the rapid changes required.


  44. 394
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Diogenes asked about the relationship between energy consumption and GDP. One interesting relationship was noted by physicist Art Rosenfeld: “the amount of energy required to produce one dollar of GDP has decreased by about one percent per year since 1845.”

    My day job is electronics. When I see a relationship like this, I’m thinking, “Hey, Moore’s Law!” Moore’s law is the basis for the entire electronics revolution. Initially, it was based on CMOS scaling–a purely physical relationship that told you how the features of MOS transistors must scale with each new generation. That took us from single-transistors to billion-gate processors and gigabit DRAMs. Then scaling failed. You could no longer reliably build transistors with thin enough gate oxides, etc. Moore’s law is still going strong even though its initial physical basis has failed. It is now driven by economics–it is the target microcircuit manufacturers must shoot for if they are to remain economically viable. Think about that.

    So, I ask myself, if we understood the physics behind Moore’s law better, could we improve the doubling time from 69.3 years to maybe 10 years, or even five. Do you realize what that would mean for the economy? And for our climate? The transition we have to undertake is not a zero-sum game. We have to stop thinking in terms of zero-sum games.

  45. 395
    Hank Roberts says:

    Worth a look:

    Hat tip to Alterslash for discussion:

    Why are we so shortsighted? A psychological study of voting behavior suggests an answer and points to a simple fix. … Healy and Lenz challenged their subjects to evaluate hypothetical governments based on slightly varying information. For example, some received information expressed as yearly income while others received the same information expressed as a yearly growth rate. The same information in a plot of steadily increasing average personal income over 3 years—$32,400, $33,100, $33,800—can also be expressed as a steadily decreasing rate of growth—3%, 2.3%, 2.1%. That did the trick. Just changing the units of the data was enough to cure voter fickleness. When economic trends were expressed as yearly income rather than rates of change, the subjects made accurate judgments. But if the same information was expressed as a change over time—the bias reappeared.”

    Can you do that with climate–related information?

  46. 396
    DIOGENES says:

    Walter #384,

    I have integrated the best features of Hansen’s, Anderson’s, and others’ plans to generate a plan that, if implemented, provides a reasonable chance of avoiding the Apocalypse. My detractors have offered no counter-plan. Period.

    [edit – stop attacking other commenters. Last warning]

    Consider the article referenced yesterday by Jeff Spross: “How The Northeast Could Cut Carbon Pollution By 75 Percent In 5 Simple Steps”. The title certainly has the right IMAGE to dazzle the unsuspecting. A link was provided to the following: The report talks in glowing terms about the emissions reductions possible, and concludes “it is reasonable to forecast a scenario in which emissions from vehicles and buildings fall by over 75% by 2050”.

    I didn’t see this link initially, so I Googled ENE energyvision and came across a companion report (, which I recommend to the viewers. This report goes beyond the glowing projections of the above report, describes what the underlying performance has been so far, and what can be expected. It might be instructive to go beyond the IMAGE reflected in the title alone.

    The project is summarized as “ClimateVision 2020 takes stock of the progress towards reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in eight northeastern states…..New England is 12 years into the regional 2020 emissions reduction target originally adopted in 2001…..Total regional emissions dropped by 12% between 2000 and 2010.”

    One of the key components to reducing electrical sector emissions was fuel switching to natural gas, and the report concludes that “There is limited opportunity for more emissions savings from fuel conversion”. In other words, the low-hanging fruit from this tree has been mainly picked!

    The 2020 targets are projected as ‘reduce 1990 levels by 10%’. The 2050 targets are projected as ‘reduce 2001 levels by 75-85%’. The report concludes, based on emission trend projections, “none of the northeastern states are expected to meet longer-term science-based targets”. Specifically, they mean the 2020 and 2050 targets listed above.

    So, in a region that lost manufacturing jobs (and associated emissions) from 2000-2010, suffered from the emissions-reducing downturn of 2008-2009, and had small population growth, they reduced emissions by a grand total of 12%. Now, that’s not 12% per annum, that’s 12% over the decade, which averages out to a non-compounded 1.2% per year! WOW!!!

    To meet the 2020 target, which they believe may be too challenging based on emission trend projections, they would have to reduce non-compounded emissions by about 1% per year! WOW!!!

    To meet the 2050 target, which again they believe may be too challenging based on emission trend projections, they would have to reduce non-compounded emissions by about 2% per year! WOW!!!

    Let us follow the Biblical admonition “Be charitable unto the poor”, and assume, by some miracle, they are able to meet these ‘challenging’ targets. How does that relate to what needs to be done to avoid the Apocalypse; in other words, what is the context of these numbers? In #291, I showed that to have a 90% chance of staying under 2 C (in itself, a dangerous target), we have run out of carbon budget, and to stay under ~1 C, we have both run out of carbon budget and piled up substantial carbon debt. Now, what do we mean when we say ‘run out of carbon budget’? We mean zero CO2 emissions from fossil fuels over at least the interim period. We don’t mean 99% or 98%, as the ‘plan’ would provide.

    This ‘plan’ should be re-labeled as the Apocalypse Express; it won’t make any stops taking us headlong into oblivion. It is all IMAGE and no substance, being more than an order of magnitude below what we need. While it’s certainly better than nothing, it has no relation to what is required.

  47. 397
    DIOGENES says:

    To the Moderators,

    A few years ago, John Mashey/Deep Climate did an in-depth analysis of the infamous Wegman Report, and showed evidence of plagiarism, at the very least. Their findings eventually led to the retraction of a paper that had been published in a statistics journal. Non-action would have damaged the credibility of the journal.

    In #342, I presented incontrovertible evidence of deliberate misrepresentations and misquoting of my statements. In my opinion, this is far worse than what Mashey/DC found in the Wegman Report. Why, then, haven’t the Moderators on this blog retracted the offending posts? I can think of little more damaging to the credibility of the Comments section, with perhaps spillover to the blog itself, than allowing such posts to be displayed.

  48. 398
    SecularAnimist says:


    Diogenes wrote: “In #342, I presented incontrovertible evidence of deliberate misrepresentations and misquoting of my statements.”

    You “presented” nothing of the sort. What you DID do in that comment was to accuse me of lying, for money — as you have done repeatedly.

    Name-calling, baseless accusations of financially-driven “ominous motives”, along with puerile insults, straw man fallacies, fallacies of the excluded middle, and ad hominem fallacies have comprised most of what you have posted here day after day after day.

    Diogenes wrote: “I can think of little more damaging to the credibility of the Comments section”

    I don’t think your flagrant trollery will damage the credibility of anyone but yourself.

  49. 399
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes wrote: “I have integrated the best features of Hansen’s, Anderson’s, and others’ plans to generate a plan that, if implemented, provides a reasonable chance of avoiding the Apocalypse.”

    Here is the entirety of the “plan” that you have “integrated”, from your comment #371:

    Turn down the thermostats drastically in Winter (as we have done) and turn them up drastically in Summer. Close fossil energy intensive facilities, such as ski resorts. Eliminate energy-intensive cattle breeding. Eliminate any non-essential fossil-based travel.

    In fairness, way back in the January Unforced Variations thread, you did link to an article you called “insightful”, which called for abolishing private property and capitalism and establishing a global collective to run society and the economy. So there’s that too, in addition of course to closing the ski resorts.

  50. 400
    DIOGENES says:

    Patrick Flege,

    “If more readers were to comment, we would have thousands of comments. Highly undesirable for people with little time, who want to grasp the necessary information.”

    What you are seeing presently are the perspectives of relatively few individuals, repeated endlessly. That’s not an efficient way to generate crucially-needed new ideas to circumvent this extremely challenging problem. I understand it’s time consuming, but this blog has been around for almost a decade, and we don’t see an acceptable solution around which many people can coalesce. Maybe we bite the bullet, incentivize more people to participate, and spend some more time focused on the most important problem we will face in our lifetime. To cut the volume per post, maybe we place a limit of 300-500 words. That should be adequate for defining the essence of the concept. Maybe the moderators could identify very promising concepts, and have the poster expand them in a feature blog article. We need to get more ideas on which we can build.