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Unforced variations: June 2014

Filed under: — group @ 1 June 2014

June is the month when the Arctic Sea Ice outlook gets going, when the EPA releases its rules on power plant CO2 emissions, and when, hopefully, commenters can get back to actually having constructive and respectful conversations about climate science (and not nuclear energy, impending apocalypsi (pl) or how terrible everyone else is). Thanks.


488 Responses to “Unforced variations: June 2014”

  1. 101
    Pete Best says:

    reply#57

    I dont know exactly what you are thinking apart from some kind of ultimate doom scenario but as the USA has promised 30% cuts in coal burning relative to 2005 levels then 6C is looking more and more unlikely. The feedbacks your are referring to dont appear to be a major factor being stated by the science although of course its a possibility at 3-4C via permafrost melt which seems to be the big one in the media these days but not so much in the scientific literature (IPCC etc).

    Don’t think its all over for us for that is a blind belief in my mind and not one that unless we economically and politically stupid enough to burn it all but as we know its not going to happen. Like you though I can see enough momentum in the system for 3-4C.

  2. 102
    J Bowers says:

    70 Dave — “Secondly, has anybody done any work that concludes what the “ideal” global temperature should be?”

    30C, +/-5C. Above that, our staple crops close their stomata to conserve water from evaporation thus inhibiting photosynthesis, and their enzymes denature.

    It’s all about food IMHO. And then there are the effects on marine life, which is our other food.

  3. 103
    Guy Rowland says:

    Richard Tol has been complaining about that 97% figure again…

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2014/jun/06/97-consensus-global-warming

    (Dana Nuccitelli responds in the comments below, and his original criticisms are linked in the first sentence pf Tol’s article)

  4. 104

    Hmm. Combine an extreme heatwave with creaky power infrastructure based on coal, and administered by a notoriously inefficient bureaucracy. What could possibly go wrong?

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/india-riots-sparked-by-heat-wave-power-outages-1.2668358

  5. 105
    caerbannog says:

    Dana Rohrabacher, Vice Chairman of the House Science Committee, has been calling the Cook et al. “97%” paper “a lie” that top Obama Administration officials won’t defend. He’s claiming that NOAA director Jane Lubchenco, EPA head Gina McCarthy and Science Advisor John Holdren wouldn’t defend the paper and dodged questions about it in testimony before his committee.

    It would be nice if anyone reading this who has the right connections could get in touch with Ms. McCarthy, Dr. Holdren and Dr. Lubchenco and ask them to issue strong public statements endorsing the Cook et al. paper (after reading it, of course ;) ).

    Rohrabacher has been repeatedly taking McCarthy’s, Holdren’s and Lubchenco’s names in vain in his attacks on the “97%” paper. That’s been his latest talking-point (check out the twitter feed @danarohracher if you have the stomach for it).

    Strong statements of endorsement from Ms. McCarthy and Drs. Holdren and Lubchenco would take away one of Rohrabacher’s favorite anti-science talking-points.

    Below are a few of Rohrabacher’s recent tweets:

    “Presidents science advisor, heads of NOAA & EPA, pro GW scientists, when asked not one would defend 97o/o– so it is a lie”

    “major figures refuse to support 97o/o claim. That should tip U off as to lies that many advocates of GWarming support”

    “asked specifically about the 97o/o claim & they [Holdren and Lubchenco] would not defend it, dodging the question. It is bogus yet still repeated”

    “personally asked Presidents science advisor, head of EPA & NOAA not one defended 97o/o as accurate. BOGUS like other claims”

  6. 106
    John Vonderlin says:

    A few thoughts, probably worth about what they’ll cost you. It seems like the RealClimate Comment section has become more of a forum than an Echo Chamber, something I value in my monitoring of various science forums. Enforced civility and relevance are probably a good thing too, though I do enjoy the occasional zingers or creative insults. In that vein, I was a little shocked to see one of the moderators, Mike, referred to Dr. Curry, as producing “a cry for help.” While, I may not agree with everything she or many of the denizens that contribute to her blog post, such a comment’s insinuations seem way out of bounds to me; certainly not in line with the rules you would seem to want your commenters to follow. Consider this a finger wagging Tsk. Tsk. Mike.
    That said, I’d like to point out to Chris @86 that your plan to slap a punitive Carbon tax on China sounds like a great way to start W.W.III. China has repeatedly said that the history of developed nation’s CO2 output counts more than the present output. Our dependence on them buying our Treasuries at a minimum should give pause to such an idea. Though, perhaps the resultant World War or Great Depression is what you are hoping for to save us from CO2. If so, remember the survivors will be the unlucky ones. Rats don’t taste any better just because the weather is nice. Enjoy.

  7. 107
    Jim Larsen says:

    86 Chris D,

    Re-read Krugman’s article. He currently places the USA on the naughty list. So, as France and Germany and other wealthy countries lower their emissions, Chris, how much should the USA have to pay, assuming we take BAU?

  8. 108
    Edward Greisch says:

    59 michael sweet 60 Walter Pearce: Sorry I didn’t remove every occurrence of the word you object to. I will check for that word more carefully in the future. My point remains:

    You have to do the math. All of it.

    61 Kevin McKinney reminds you to do the math.

    You have to solve the whole problem, however you do it. That means you have to SOLVE the energy storage problem. that means do the math. We don’t have the technology. Without technology we don’t have, renewables give you either very expensive energy or intermittent energy. The Trainer article that I referenced spoke about the expensive part.

    79 Eric Rowland has “worked in the renewable energy business for over 10 years and during that time I’ve designed and sold a little over 50MW of installed solar energy.”
    If you click on “Eric Rowland,” you go to Eric Rowland’s business web site. There is nothing wrong with selling solar panels. But it doesn’t solve the whole problem. And Eric Rowland’s comment is spam/advertising.
    I am selling math. Math is free.

    Again, sorry. My intent was to focus on the math required to do the whole problem. The whole problem requires engineers to design whatever system works for wherever electricity is needed. It won’t be the same system everywhere. To stop GW, we have to solve the problem with a new constraint. CO2 production must be minimized. Engineers are needed to design for specific places. Salesmen cannot do engineering if they are not degreed engineers.

    EPA/Obama is promulgating a new rule for power plants. It is a first step, not good enough. Will RC comment on it?

  9. 109
    Aaron Lewis says:

    re 108 – Anyone that can think, do math, and get their facts straight can do engineering – then one needs a PE to sign the permit applications.

    This is nothing against engineers. Quite the contrary, everybody that is thinking about important stuff, should have a basic knowledge of math and engineering. Everyone needs to understand the culture of engineering. It is one of the cores of civilization.

    One clear issue is the way climate scientists and engineers express risk. For example IPCC statements on the risk of sea level rise cannot be translated into a basis of engineering design, and the IPCC does not accept the kind of protocols that engineers would use to calculate sea level rise as a basis of engineering design.

    For example one good El Nino can raise level along the California coast in ways that will rip levees to pieces. This is important to engineers, but climate scientists consider it only a short term weather event, and not long term global sea level rise.

    For CA levees, I would say that a reasonable sea level basis of engineering design is 60 cm during the next strong El Nino. However, the climate guys looking at long term averages do not see 60 cm global sea level rise for decades. When the long term IPCC projection of SLR is cited as a basis of current engineering design for California water infrastructure, then our civilization is suffering from a failure to communicate from Climate Science to Engineering and from Engineering to Climate Science. (Sure the IPCC and others put disclaimers in saying the stated projections are not intended to be used as a basis of engineering design in public or safety critical design, but they do not provide such basis.) This will result in infrastructure failure and wasted capital.

  10. 110
    Colin Johnstone says:

    I like reading this website and have commented a couple of times in the past. I recently stumbled on an article written for the National Post.

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/04/14/lawrence-solomon-search-is-on-for-the-island-of-palau-lost-in-the-pacific/

    My first impression when reading it was that the central claim, that the UN had predicted the demise of the island of Palau by 2010 in models run in 2005, seems highly improbable (not because there appears not to be an ‘island of Palau’). The average magnitude of sea level rise is only a few mm per year, and as I understand it, a little more in parts of the pacific. The highest point in Palau (the island chain) is 240m. The capital city of Palau, Ngerulmud, appears to be at an elevation of 3m (http://dateandtime.info/citycoordinates.php?id=7303944), though I am not sure exactly what that value means (average elevation maybe?). The idea that the UN predicted in 2005 that the islands would disappear within 5 years does not sound reasonable.

    I have been unable to find this claim anywhere on the internet with all of my searches bringing me back to this National Post article. The author provides three links as references at the end. The third link is described by the author as

    “For the original study by Professor Norman Myers of Oxford on which the UN based its mapping, click here”

    This is a link to a pdf that appears to be a short text written as part of a conference that took place in 2005 organised by the OSCE and not the UN, and is not a scientific paper and the author is not a climate scientist. From what I can tell, the paper does not refer to Palau at all, does not seem to discuss climate models, and makes only one passing reference to sea-level rise.

    The second link the author provides is to a pdf that appears to be a screenshot from a website, though it seems to have been carefully edited to make it hard to see which website it is from. This website also makes no mention of Palau or sea-level rise. From the National Post article, and the pdf itself, you would think that these predictions come from UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). With a bit of Googling, I found that the screenshot appears to come from the website for ‘GRID-Arendal’, which has some association with UNEP. They have replaced the page depicted in the pdf with this http://www.grida.no/general/4700.aspx. The website contains the following message

    “We have decided to withdraw the product and accompanying text. It follows some media reports suggesting the findings presented were those of UNEP and the UN, which they are not.”

    The first link is just a blow-up of the plot in the second link. You can see that the Palau islands appear to be in a region shaded purple, which means ‘areas exposed to hurricanes’. The map does mark some island as ‘small islands (some disappear completely)’, but it is hard to see which islands it is referring to.

    So anyway, I had a lot of fun looking this up. It appears that the claim was cooked-up by the author of the National Post article as a way to discredit climate science models and the UN.

  11. 111
    DIOGENES says:

    Kevin McKinney #95,

    “So, for Anderson and Bows-Larkin, building a low-carbon energy supply is “pivotal,” but can no longer serve as the sole option because we have quite simply frittered away too much of our lead time. By contrast, for Dio, anything on the supply side is “minor”.”

    Quoting me out of context will not help your faulty argument one iota.

    If we want to save our civilization, and our species, from climate disaster, rather than sell renewables, here’s what’s needed. We need to set limits such that the climate will stabilize at acceptable levels of key metrics. Now, Steinacher identifies six metrics that must be satisfied, but for purposes of this discussion, I will focus on temperature. We need to set a temperature limit that won’t be exceeded and lead to disaster. Until we identify that limit, all discussions of mitigation plans are essentially meaningless.

    Now, when papers are written discussing temperature targets, two main quantities are provided: a temperature, and the chances of staying under that temperature. If a fixed temperature is selected, say 2 C for purposes of this discussion, one can come to any conclusion desired by altering the chances of staying within that temperature. Thus, for the Anderson example, I have seen chances of remaining within 2 C at both 50/50 and roughly 2/1. As the chances of staying within 2 C increase, the allowable carbon budget decreases. Nothing more complicated. As Spratt shows, if we want our chances of remaining under 2 C to be 90%, there is no allowable carbon budget remaining.

    So, the first question to be asked is what is the temperature ceiling desired, and the second question to be asked is what chance do we want to allow the temperature to exceed that ceiling? All I do is go by the statements of experts, including Hansen and his 15+ co-authors, Thomas Lovejoy, Anderson, McKibben, Spratt, etc. All have said that 2 C is dangerous (using different flavors of dangerous), and all have said that 1 C is a much ‘safer’ target. Now, how do we interpret ‘dangerous’ in this context? My interpretation is the possibility that the positive feedbacks can go on autopilot (out of our control) and eventually bring the climate to conditions unacceptable for human life. But, in any case, when experts tell me something is ‘dangerous’, I usually try to avoid it, in the absence of conflicting information.

    So, at a minimum, I would want the highest possible chance of not exceeding 2 C, but would much prefer to have a substantial chance to stay under 1 C. If there is no remaining carbon budget at 2 C, according to Spratt’s quote of Raupach’s result, then to stay under 1 C we would be heavily in carbon debt. Given that reality, the target should be re-stated as two maximization conditions: maximize the reduction in fossil fuel use STARTING TODAY; maximize the reduction in GHG concentration STARTING TODAY. Neither of these is accessible through introduction of low carbon sources, the installation rates aren’t there to meet the large demand reductions required. Any introduction of low carbon sources will be for the main purpose of making the large fossil demand reductions more bearable (not pleasant). In this scenario, the role of low carbon sources in achieving the required temperature targets is ‘minor’.

  12. 112
    DIOGENES says:

    Edward Greisch #108,

    “Without technology we don’t have, renewables give you either very expensive energy or intermittent energy.”

    You’re putting the cart before the horse. The real problem we have is that the renewables salesmen offer the fiction that introduction of renewables alone (perhaps with some energy efficiency improvement technology) is enough to keep the climate from entering a ‘dangerous’ state. In addition to not doing the math you identify, they don’t do the math demonstrating that renewables are adequate to protect us. The reason they don’t do either math is because the math doesn’t give them the results they want. If I believed that introduction of renewables combined with the energy efficiency improvement technologies could protect us from the ultimate catastrophe, I would be willing to support this even if it were expensive. Money is not the only consideration when it comes to insuring survival of our species. But, I don’t believe it because it’s not true.

    [edit - stop]

  13. 113
    Edward Greisch says:

    105 caerbannog: The debate on 97% is also hot at:
    https://class.coursera.org/4dimensions-003/forum/thread?thread_id=270

    But the debate is irrelevant. You need to repeat Tyndall’s 1859 experiment. It is much easier to do today. Look up Tyndall. You can watch a modern version on youtube at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot5n9m4whaw

    The fact you need to know to understand Global Warming is this: CO2 is opaque to infrared. Oxygen and nitrogen are transparent to infrared.

    Whatever politicians say is irrelevant. Politicians are not scientists, as they have admitted. What is relevant is what NATURE says. NATURE will determine the results of our actions. Politicians are helpless as well as clueless. In the old days, we would have said that “the politicians are trying to tell God what to do.” It doesn’t work that way. We no longer use that kind of language.

    Journalists are putting words into the mouths of bureaucrats. So what? Both are merely humans.

  14. 114
    Spectator says:

    “16
    Chris Dudley says:
    2 Jun 2014 at 9:43 AM”

    (in regard to a disaster scenario I inquired about in May, #384).

    Sounds like that particular movie disaster can’t happen.
    Re asphyxiating on C02, it doesn’t seem there is enough recoverable FF to raise C02 to the level to begin asphyxiation in humans.

  15. 115
    Edward Greisch says:

    104 Kevin McKinney: Thank you for “India riots sparked by heat wave, power outages”
    117 degrees F is getting too close to the survivable limit. 130-117=13
    And this is only June.

    What is the maximum temperature a human can survive?

    “About 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55˚ Celsius), with proper hydration. However this depends on many things, such as the length of exposure to the heat source or how used to the hot temperatures is the individual person.
    For example, a person who lives nearby a hot desert, or is used to desert temperatures will obviously resist heat longer, than a person who is relatively used to cold temperatures.”

    http://answers.wikia.com/wiki/What_is_the_maximum_temperature_a_human_can_survive

  16. 116
    Chuck Hughes says:

    I don’t know but I think our future depends on the next couple of elections in the United States. I can’t see how a Republican elected President, Senate and Congress gets us anywhere toward our goal of capping CO2 emissions.

    “Yeah, absolutely,” Obama responded. “Look, it’s frustrating when the science is in front of us. … We can argue about how. But let’s not argue about what’s going on. The science is compelling. … The baseline fact of climate change is not something we can afford to deny. And if you profess leadership in this country at this moment in our history, then you’ve got to recognize this is going to be one of the most significant long-term challenges, if not the most significant long-term challenge, that this country faces and that the planet faces.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/obama-climate-change-deniers-congress

  17. 117
    Chuck Hughes says:

    I don’t know but I think our future depends on the next couple of elections in the United States. I can’t see how a Republican elected President, Senate and Congress gets us anywhere toward our goal of capping CO2 emissions.

    “Yeah, absolutely,” Obama responded. “Look, it’s frustrating when the science is in front of us. … We can argue about how. But let’s not argue about what’s going on. The science is compelling. … The baseline fact of climate change is not something we can afford to deny. And if you profess leadership in this country at this moment in our history, then you’ve got to recognize this is going to be one of the most significant long-term challenges, if not the most significant long-term challenge, that this country faces and that the planet faces.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/obama-climate-change-deniers-congress

  18. 118
    Chris Dudley says:

    Jim (#107),

    How sad for you that you would write such a thing.

  19. 119
    Chris Dudley says:

    #96,

    Your camel is broken, but my climate started killing people when China decided to massively increase emissions and become the largest polluter. And they are still going. And the deaths are still mounting.

    Obviously there is a safe threshold and emission up to that point don’t matter. Past that threshold, failing to cut emissions is intentional slaughter. China is adding straw after straw after straw well after the time to change direction. Get a grip.

  20. 120
    Chris Dudley says:

    John (#106),

    Since China has already agree to Article XX of GATT, retaliation by them would lead to WTO sanctions. Your point about US treasuries is mistaken. With the tariff, US GDP grows, bringing the deficit down and reducing bond sales.

  21. 121
    flxible says:

    “Past that threshold, failing to cut emissions is intentional slaughter.”
    If that applies to any country, it applies to the US equally. If “your climate” hadn’t already taken us to the brink, China acting as you did in the past wouldn’t matter. No one country or group of countries is “to blame”, we’re all in the oven together.

    [even Captcha says 'shall allyeB']

  22. 122
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Sorry for the double post. My first post disappeared from my screen under the name, “Anonymous Says”… so I thought it didn’t get sent.

  23. 123
    Tony says:

    Chris,

    The US is responsible for a lot more emissions per capita than China and for much greater cumulative emissions. See figure 21 on Hansen’s updated figures page. It is disingenuous to say that just because China’s rising emissions come at a time when climate change is turning dangerous, that China should be made to pay more than the US. If we keep ignoring our (the western societies) contribution to the problem, it ain’t gonna get fixed or even mitigated. Note that US emissions rose last year and even more in the first two months of this year, even as the economy contracted and not to mention exported emissions.

  24. 124
    DIOGENES says:

    Kevin McKinney,

    In #111, the two maximization targets I specify are for the purpose of risk reduction. We want to maximize our chances of coming as close to 1 C as is possible. To do so, we need to pull out all the stops ASAP.

    Further on #111, if you don’t agree with the temperature targets I have selected, please state the combination of temperature ceiling and chance of remaining below that ceiling that is acceptable to you, and why it is acceptable. In the Anderson example you selected, tell me specifically why a 50/50, or even 2/1, chance of remaining below 2 C is acceptable, or why 2 C has any validity as a desired ceiling.

  25. 125
    DIOGENES says:

    Pete Best #101,

    “as the USA has promised 30% cuts in coal burning relative to 2005 levels then 6C is looking more and more unlikely. The feedbacks your are referring to dont appear to be a major factor being stated by the science although of course its a possibility at 3-4C”

    Here is Kevin Anderson’s statement on that proposed reduction (http://kevinanderson.info/blog/category/quick-comment/):

    “The United States’ plan to reduce power sector emissions by 30% by 2030 (c.f. 2005) is the jewel in the crown of US mitigation policies. Under current proposals economy-wide reductions in total emissions will be much less than 30%; Climate Action Tracker (CAT) estimates emissions will be just 10% below their 2005 level. Yet even if total emissions were to follow the example of the power sector, they would still fall far short of the country’s 2°C commitments enshrined in agreements from the Copenhagen Accord to the Camp David Declaration.

    The EU, with emissions per person just 50% of those for a typical US citizen, needs an across the board reduction of over 80% by 2030 (c.f. 2005)1 if it is to make its fair contribution to avoiding the 2°C characterisation of dangerous climate change. Given the higher per capita emissions of the US, reductions there would need to be greater still.

    Consequently, whilst Obama’s proposition is certainly brave within the rarified political environment of Congress, it signals yet another wealthy nation whose weak domestic targets are fatally undermining international obligations around 2°C. The low level of ambition of the US, EU, Russia, China et al is why global emissions are set on a pathway much more aligned with a 4°C to 6°C future (~RCP8.5) than the 2°C of our rhetorical targets. Moreover, given that temperatures relate to the cumulative build up of CO2 in the atmosphere, failure to radically reduce emissions in the short-term locks in higher temperatures and “dangerous” impacts, particularly for “poorer populations“. Ramping up the mitigation effort post 2030 will simply be too late. This is a challenging message with implications for policy makers (and all of us) that we have thus far refused to countenance.”

    As for 6 C being possible or non-possible due to positive feedbacks going on autopilot at some lower temperature, I would not rule it out. It all depends on one’s interpretation of 2 C as being ‘dangerous’, much less how one would characterize 3 C or 4 C.

  26. 126
    Fred Magyar says:

    Chris@ 118 and 119,
    Do you really not understand how interconnected the global economy actually is? Perhaps you should take a trip to your local Walmart and check to see how many products on their shelves are made in the USA with low carbon footprint manufacturing techniques. Guess where most of the products that concerned and patriotic Americans like yourself buy, are made? Your China bashing notwithstanding… the per capita carbon footprint of the average Chinese is still far below that of the Average American. If you are so inclined watch the launch of the 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years” http://www.clubofrome.org/?p=6316 pay close attention to the second part and the comment about what is needed for a real dialogue with all global participants, hint a holier than thou attitude is rather counter productive.

  27. 127
    Chris Dudley says:

    #114,

    I think you think that the recovery factor can’t exceed unity for a oil field. However using hydrogen to activate non-mobile carbon could raise the recovery factor above unity.

  28. 128
    Chris Dudley says:

    Tony (#123),

    Everyone should be cutting at this point towards the US goal which is about 3 GtC per per person per year. Since we have more to cut, it will be more expensive for us than for others since we must write off more sunk costs in fossil fuel infrastructure. The US needs to do what it can to get China to cut emissions. Imposing tariffs seems like a good method since China has already agreed to GATT. If your position is that world emissions should increase, then there is not much to talk about. But, at least admit you want the death and destruction that accompanies that. You want more global warming rather than less.

  29. 129
    Chris Dudley says:

    flxible (#122),

    In fact, countries set their own emissions policies. That means that there is agency and that mean responsibility and blame.

  30. 130
    Walter Pearce says:

    Greisch @ 108: No, you’re absolutely right — the math that’s been done has resulted in hundreds of smooth-running, efficient nuke plants delivering clean energy throughout the country, with dozens more coming on line every year…

    Oops.

    I have no interest in more blather on nukes and was simply agreeing with Michael Sweet’s point that your advocacy has become tedious. Why not take your own advice and take that particular discussion to BNC?

  31. 131
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Congratulations to Gavin on his appointment. Best of luck.

  32. 132

    #111–I’ll leave it to the readers to decide whose argument is “faulty.” But your 4 paragraphs asserting already oft-repeated points not at issue here (because nobody is disagreeing with them) probably won’t prejudice them in your favor.

    – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/06/unforced-variations-june-2014/comment-page-3/#comment-550370

    Cutting to the chase:

    “…the target should be re-stated as two maximization conditions: maximize the reduction in fossil fuel use STARTING TODAY; maximize the reduction in GHG concentration STARTING TODAY.”

    Absolutely correct, in my opinion.

    “Neither of these is accessible through introduction of low carbon sources, the installation rates aren’t there to meet the large demand reductions required.”

    Renewable energy is currently displacing more fossil fuel emission than anything else. By contrast, Dio, you yourself have characterized the DAAP™ as probably ‘not sellable.’ Sadly, there is no discernible real-world evidence that you are wrong in that characterization.

    And why might that be? I’d suggest that people need two main things to make a change. First, it has to be crystal clear that there is a need to change. That, of course, is what RC is all about, and it’s something you yourself make a positive contribution to with the plain talk about risk assessment und so weiter. But we do run into the issue of denial, whether emotionally-based, financially/tactically-based, or a combination of both. A highly persistent campaign of truth-telling is indicated, and indeed underfoot, if not resourced as highly as I’d like it to be. But it is winning, and will continue to gain ground over time, despite transient ups and downs–not least, because the problems become harder and harder to deny.

    The second thing, though, is an actionable alternative. In principle, that could be demand reduction; but there you run into the denial problem. Humans are hard-wired to dislike ‘giving things up.’ Substituting something is much more palatable. That’s why there is action on renewable energy, and very, very little on ‘just saying no.’

    You say that renewable adoption rates are too low. Correct. But they are orders of magnitude higher than your proposed alternative, and much, much more ‘sellable.’ Moreover, they have been rising exponentially, and while that can’t continue indefinitely, we do not know yet where the limits lie.

    Forgive my plain speaking, but I think it’s just stupid to criticize the leading factor dampening FF growth in favor of a measure which, however necessary over the longer term, is making no contribution whatever at present, and seems unlikely to do so in the next few years.

    It’s doubly stupid when there is a lot of work to do to get renewables (and nuclear) adoption rates up to what they need to be in order to, as you say, “[make] the large fossil demand reductions more bearable (not pleasant).”

    You say that your goal is to be “STARTING TODAY.” But your suggested course of action, through its tactical folly, does not support that goal.

    In short, I’m thinking more and more that your scorn for ‘salesmen’ is highly ironic. What we need, if you think about it, IS salesmen. I’m not one, either by nature, inclination, or definition. Quite self-evidently, you aren’t either. More’s the pity. We need a disaster avoidance plan that is not only sellable, but sold. And somebody’s got to do the selling.

    “The words of the prophets are written in the concert halls
    And studio walls
    And echo
    With the sounds of salesmen.”

  33. 133
    patrick says:

    Dave > Is it that we would want it where it is now, or 1,2,3,4, degrees warmer or colder?

    Start thinking about climate changes in IAU (Ice Age Units): http://xkcd.com/1379/

    Tweeted by Gavin.

  34. 134
    SecularAnimist says:

    Is there anything going on here any more besides attacks on renewable energy and finger-pointing at China — both based on, and conducted through, endless repetition of falsehoods and fallacies and insults?

  35. 135
    caerbannog says:

    (Edward Greisch — 8 Jun 2014 @ 3:55 PM)

    The fact you need to know to understand Global Warming is this: CO2 is opaque to infrared. Oxygen and nitrogen are transparent to infrared.

    Whatever politicians say is irrelevant. Politicians are not scientists, as they have admitted. What is relevant is what NATURE says. NATURE will determine the results of our actions. Politicians are helpless as well as clueless.

    As far as the science goes, I agree with the above 100%. However, my intent isn’t to debate the science with folks like Rohrabacher; instead, it’s to do whatever I can (in any small way) to help isolate and marginalize them. Rohrabacher is highly unlikely to read (and even more unlikely to understand) the Cook et al. paper.

    However, as the 2nd in command on the House of Representatives “Science” Committee, he is in a position to mislead the public about that paper. And as long as Rohrabacher can trot out the “Obama Admin Officials refuse to defend the 97% paper” talking-point, he can continue to mislead the public with respect to the scientific consensus. He’s gone way out on a limb with this, and I’m going to do whatever I can to help saw it off behind him.

    With respect to the science, what politicians say is definitely irrelevant, but what they *do* can have huge impacts on how society responds to the information provided by scientists.

  36. 136

    I was intrigued to read an article in The Economist about the business of energy demand-side management (May 10th issue, p.65, if anyone wants to check it out. It’s probably available online, as well.)

    The biggest firm is the decade-old American firm Enernoc, which earns $383 million annually, and has acquired a number of smaller firms, particularly in Europe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EnerNOC

    The Economist says that demand management can source up to 20GW in the US, or 2% of installed capacity, and has ‘plenty of room to grow.’ (That’s especially true for Europe, where current demand-side ‘virtual capacity’ is only 5.4 GW.)

    That article acknowledges that “Demand response still faces skepticism.” (What a surprise!) But also, “Some parts of America already have well developed markets in capacity, where demand-resonse providers can bid alongside conventional power producers for supply contracts, typically three years sin advance. Their cost advantage makes them increasingly competitive.”

    So perhaps I was a little too hasty in telling Dio (above) that there was nothing happening with demand reduction/energy efficiency. (Though I wonder if the vulgarly commercial tone of all this will make this comment poor consolation for him. So many salesmen involved…) Anyway, I’m delighted to be wrong in this respect. If demand response can provide the virtual equivalent of this kind of power, that’s obviously relevant for grid management as penetration of intermittent sources increases.

  37. 137
  38. 138
    patrick says:

    Hank Roberts > Dennett cites Anatole Rapoport as his source for these ideas.

    The fact is duly credited by the item I cited.

    What’s really important to me is this idea of Dennett’s: “in the real world past history and future function are bound together by…evolution, development and learning.” I think this is a key to many questions that come up here. So does Steven Rose, who extends it–in spite of everything else:

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/19/daniel-dennett-intuition-pumps-thinking-extract

    We’re not going to get out of this mess except one tweet, one study, one step, and one generation at a time, so to speak.

    Rapoport did not shrink from crisis, as you may know. He did teach-ins.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatol_Rapoport#Conflict_and_peace_studies

    Gentlepersons, start your teach-ins.

  39. 139
    Meow says:

    @119:

    Obviously there is a safe threshold and emission up to that point don’t matter. Past that threshold, failing to cut emissions is intentional slaughter. China is adding straw after straw after straw well after the time to change direction. Get a grip.

    The first sentence is internally inconsistent, because every increment of emissions moves the system closer to the threshold. The second and third sentences apply to everyone currently emitting, not just China. It’s true that everyone emitting since the peril became clear is more _morally_ culpable than those emitting before that point, but that doesn’t completely absolve those who emitted before that point: alarms have been sounding for decades now. Nor does it say anything about _physical_ culpability, which is equal for every identical GHG molecule, no matter who emitted it or when.

    Once again, we’re all in this together, and it’d be best for us to work together to limit emissions. Passing blame around doesn’t seem to do much for that effort.

  40. 140
    Russell says:

    Tony:

    I find it disturbing that Figure 27 comparng US and China in Hansen’s figures page cuts off in 1900, as this omits the integral of literally millennia of emissions from the nation that inaugurated the metalurgical use of coal and coke and natural gas drilling centuries before any other.

  41. 141
    Chris Dudley says:

    Gavin,

    Congratulations on your promotion! Hope you will still be able to be involved here.

    Regards,

    Chris

  42. 142
    MARodger says:

    Tony @123.
    I prefer my own version to Hensen’s figure 21B of the per capita cumulative CO2 emissions for different countries. Yet it should be said that the top offender goes unmentioned in both graphs. That is Luxembourg which has had a relatively massive steel industry since early industrial time.
    I did read somewhere recently that for all GHGs (ie not just CO2) its the UK takes to top spot but I cannot remember where.

  43. 143

    Congratulations, Gavin! ;-)

  44. 144
    numerobis says:

    Congrats to Gavin on the promotion!

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20140609/

  45. 145
    Mal Adapted says:

    Congratulations to Gavin on being named Director of GISS!

  46. 146
    Phil Clarke says:

    Just a note to say congrats to Gavin on his recent appointment. Dr Hansen will be a tough act to follow, however no doubt you will continue to bring your own particular blend of hard science and clear communication to the role. Richly deserved, keep up the good work.

  47. 147
    Jim Larsen says:

    118 Chris D,

    Krugman was criticizing the tendency to blame or use China as an excuse, giving tariffs as a hypothetical proving that there’s no problem. Your fixation on China is the opposite of Krugman’s point. And your logic has a couple problems:

    First, China might climb on board faster than the USA. They don’t have elections or deniers to get in the way. If that should happen, should China put punitive tariffs on the USA?

    Second, China’s equally valid point of view is per capita emissions, where they beat the pants off the USA. They would put environmental tariffs right back on the USA. Can you say trade war?

  48. 148
    sidd says:

    Congratulations, Dr. Schmidt. GISS seems to be in good hands.But I always thought your degree was in Physics…

    sidd

  49. 149
    Kevin O'Neill says:

    Congratulations, Gavin!

  50. 150
    Adam R. says:

    Congratulations to Gavin on being named Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The right choice, of course, and one that will no doubt cause considerable teeth-grinding in certain circles.


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