RealClimate logo

Con Allègre, ma non troppo

Filed under: — group @ 9 October 2006

Guest Commentary by Georg Hoffmann (LSCE)

Climate change denial is not necessarily a speciality of Washington DC think tanks – sometimes it can also be found in old Europe. Right now there is a little media storm passing by in France evoked by an article from Claude Allègre in L’Express. Who is Claude Allègre? He is one of the most decorated french geophysicists specializing in geochemistry and the use of paleomagnetism. Being a longtime friend of the former prime minister, Lionel Jospin, he even became Minister of Education and Research in the former Socialist government. He still plays an active role within the Socialist party and though he has never published anything directly related to anthropogenic climate change, one would assume that he has some understanding of the scientific matter. But this assumption would be wrong.

In the French weekly journal l’Express he exposed his “sceptical” views in an article entitled “The snows of Kilimanjaro”. In the short editorial, he somehow became lost when following Ernest Hemingway to East Africa. Allègre mentions two scientific examples to demonstrate that there is something fundamentally wrong in the IPCC statements on the reality of climate change. First, he commented on the disappearing glaciers of the Kilimanjaro, sometimes treated as the “Panda” of anthropogenic climate change. Citing a “Nature” study (which was in fact published in Science) by Pierre Sepulchre and colleagues from my laboratory, he claimed that this modelling study demonstrated that Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are controlled by tectonic activity. In fact, the article describes the impact of tectonics of the East African Highlands on Indian ocean moisture transport —- on a time scale of millions of years! This confuses glacier variability over the last ~100 years with rainfall trends extending back to the time of the early hominids (such as Lucy).

In fact, there are good reasons to believe that the situation on the Kilimanjaro is a bit more complicated than a simple “atmosphere gets warmer/ glaciers are melting” equation (for instance, see this previous post on tropical glacier retreat). Furthermore, the real link to climate change does not come from the retreat of one single tropical glacier, but from the fact that, to my knowledge, all studied tropical glaciers have retreated over the 20th century, and the retreat rates have generally increased in recent decades.

Allègre’s misunderstanding was immediately followed by another one. Citing a recent study on relatively stable Antarctic snowfall over the last 30 years (Monaghan et al, 2006, discussed here) , he highlighted what he thought was a clear contradiction to future climate simulations of global circulation models (melting of the Antarctic ice sheet). However, that’s not what they predict. All models predict a comparably stable Antarctic ice sheet for the 21th century in which comparably moderate temperature changes in Antarctica are compensated by slight increase in snowfall. The Monaghan et al study does not contradict these model scenarios.

The French climate research community was of course not very pleased about this short sequence of misrepresentations and personal attacks (“les Cassandres”) and corrected Allègre in an open letter published here on the website of the Institute Pierre Simon Laplace (which includes links to the ongoing back and forth, for those that speak French).

Curiously enough, twenty years ago Allègre wrote in “Clés pour la géologie”, (éd. Belin/France Culture):

“En brûlant des combustibles fossiles, l’homme a augmenté le taux de gaz carbonique dans l’atmosphère, ce qui fait, par exemple, que depuis un siècle la température moyenne du globe a augmenté d’un demi-degré.”

“By burning fossil fuels man enhanced the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which has raised the global mean temperature by half a degree in the last century”.

But at that time he used this argument against the anti-nuclear energy movement. It might be that there is simply a bit too much politics in Allègre’s life…

57 Responses to “Con Allègre, ma non troppo”

  1. 1

    Paris is about 600 km far from Western Alps: if Mr Allegre should spend a week-end there, probably could write another article “Retreating Snow and glaciers of the Alps”: since ten years mass balances shows heavy negative values, this summer – despite a cool august – minus 2 m.
    No matter that here tectonic events are not causing weather circulation changes…
    Even if in Italian, cool data on Alpine glaciers are here (images and graphs need no translation…):
    (look at the list of sigle glaciers for ancient vs. present pictures)

    Many thanks for your excellent service.

    Luca Mercalli
    President, Italian Meteorological Society – Bussoleno / Turin, Italy

  2. 2
    Claire Kenyon says:

    An anecdote on glaciers melting…

    This summer I spent a few days in the Alps. Every time we drove by Chamonix, my mountain guide looked at the Argentieres glacier and kept saying: “Wow! I have never seen it so small! Last winter we had a lot of snow and we were hoping that it would help the glacier to recover from its recent years losses; but all that fresh snow has completely melted. If last winter’s snowfall could not help, then nothing will help. That’s it. This time, this glacier is doomed.”

    He was somewhat saddened by the idea that present-day children will never know the mountain as he knew it himself.

    He also refused to take me to glacier areas, arguing that there were so many rocks presently exposed to the sun that had normally been covered under snow, that (from thermal expansion) it vastly increased the risk of accidents from falling rocks.

  3. 3
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    Re: 1

    Thanks for the links.

  4. 4
    Coby says:

    This would seem to be one data point flying in the face of the alleged socialist/AGW conspiracy. Has he lost the play book since the 80’s? How will Kofi Annan acheive world dominance with formerly good foot soldiers switching sides?

    But these are strange arguments to make. I am used to hearing the geologist sceptics taking the long view – “talk to me in a million years, then we’ll know what’s happening”, but how can any intelligent geologist try to explain a ~100 year trend with tectonic motion!?

  5. 5
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    There’s the question of responsibility. One has to be much more cautious about claiming there is no problem, when in fact a serious problem (that may threaten a large chunk of humanity and the earth’s biota) exists, than making a claim exceeding GW science on the scary side that might later prove to be overblown. The latter would spur us to do all we can to reverse GW — which for the most part saves us money, strengthens the economy, & reduces many other problems. No harm done, if we later find out GW is a hoax.

    So would denialists have us do nothing to reduce GHG emissions & GW? To me, that’s tantamount to global suicide…or murder. At least it may prove to be so. Stay tuned to this cliff-hanger…

  6. 6
    Benoit Menez says:

    I emigrated from France to the US 9 years ago. I’ve been following some of the news in France since then. I concur with the comment that Mr Allegre is putting politics ahead facts. He used to write editorials about the french education system as compared to the US education system. Although his editorials ringed true and were fact based, they obscured the larger picture – that even though the US system has issues, it also has some great successes as illustrated very recently with this string of US Nobel prizes.
    Mr Allegre’s article should be dismissed here in the US just as it has been in France.
    On another note, the French and US situations are inverted: in the US it’s the ruling party that’s in denial, while in France it’s the opposition.
    Thanks for maintaining this reference web site!

  7. 7
    Dano says:

    Thank you for this clarification.

    Of course it’s not scientific, but a couple of years ago the ‘smell test’, in my mind, for the veracity of the S&C/skeptic claims that the satellites say the trop. is cooling was belied by the fact of tropical glacier retreat.

    As previously discussed, there are a number of factors around the Kilimanjaro retreat, but not all tropical glaciers are retreating due to, say, deforestation.



  8. 8
    wacki says:

    Ok, it seems pretty obvious this guy is an industry shill. Does anyone here have any background information on him? doesn’t have an entry for this guy yet.

  9. 9

    FWIIW The S&C produced evidence that the upper troposphere at a height of 10km was not warming. The glaciers in the Alps etc. are less than 4km. The reason they are melting faster than the models predict is because the models are wrong. They predict that the air temperature will rise throughout the troposphere but the radiation is trapped in a surface layer only 30 m thick. So the same heat per square metere is absorbed in the air above the glaciers as that above the land in coastal plains.

    The skeptics have argued that because the upper troposphere is not warming, therefore global warming is not happening, but that does not follow. They have also argued that because at present all the radiation in the greenhouse bands is trapped before it can escape to space, then increasing CO2 will make no difference. What they are failing to see is that when the CO2 increases then all the heat is then trapped even closer to the surface and so the surface air becomes even warmer.

    This extra forcing from greenhouse gases was reported here: and explained away because the modellers cannot bring themselves to accept that their models are wrong.

  10. 10
    Brian Jackson says:

    Is “les Cassandres” a reference to Cassandra in Greek mythology? If so, it’s use as an insult against climate scientists is ironic…

  11. 11
    wacki says:

    However, that’s not what they predict. All models predict a comparably stable Antarctic ice sheet for the 21th century in which comparably moderate temperature changes in Antarctica are compensated by slight increase in snowfall.

    Gavin, does the Grace data mean the models are wrong about the stable Antarctic ice sheet?

    NASA Mission Detects Significant Antarctic Ice Mass Loss

    [Response: We cautioned that the GRACE data are still too short a record to reliably extrapolate and have significant uncertainties in the post-glacial rebound term – that remains the case. Similarly, we discussed polar amplification in the Southern hemisphere and showed that models generally show less amplification in the South than the North, mainly because of the increased heat capacity of the southern oceans. Thus I would not jump to too many conclusions based on this (yet!). -gavin]

  12. 12
    pete best says:

    So if the antarctic ice sheet remains intact (could it not be weakened in some way like the Ross Ice shelf has been) during the 21 st century then that means only Greenland slowly melting will increase sea levels and hence how much sea level rise can we expect in the 21st century? I have read something like 4 meters, if this likely?

  13. 13

    Nobody, in the french scientist community, thinks Mr allegre is realy well up in climatology. He only is a politician.

    Alain Coustou, Environnemental Sciences Laboratory (University/CNRS), Bordeaux, France

  14. 14

    Someone may want to explain this title, I’ll translate:

    Con Allegre, ma non troppo

    “Con Allegre, my not troppo???”

    Its a mystery to me…

  15. 15
    Coby says:

    Con allegre, ma non troppo

    “With happiness, but not too much”

  16. 16

    I find it a little bit odd that a member of the _French_ political establishment would be in the ‘deniers” camp regarding AGW. I could see climate change denial coming from a politician in perhaps, Germany, which has almost twice as high a carbon intensity per unit of GDP than does France.

    France is one of Europe’s lowest per capita/per unit GDP greenhouse gas emitters. France has a unique energy policy and uses nuclear energy for about 79% of its electricity, with some of this electricity going to the transport sector (electrified rail system). France originally built the nuclear facilities as part of an energy independence policy.

    To demonstrate the link between sources of electricity and carbon intensity, I have linked electricity usage charts for four low-carbon emitting European countries:

    France (0.29 kg CO_2/$2000 of GDP)(79% nuclear)

    Sweden (0.21 kg C)_2/$2000 of GDP) (electricity is about 55% hydro/40% nuclear)

    Norway (0.20 kg CO_2/$2000 of GDP) (_all_ electricity is hydroelectric).

    Switzerland (0.18 kg CO_2/$2000 of GDP) (electricity is hydro and nuclear with only small fossil fuel component).

    These four countries are a lot closer to reduced carbon emissions goals than are countries such as Italy and Germany that use fossil fuels extensively.

    Italy (0.41 kg CO_2/$2000 of GDP) uses imported oil and natural gas extensively to generate its electricity. Unlike France or Sweden, Italy closed its nuclear power plants (the closure is visible on the linked chart) in the late 1980’s.

    Although Germany (0.45 kg CO_2/$2000 of GDP) has set admirable emissions reductions *goals*, it has a long way to go on carbon emissions, compared with France and the low carbon emissions countries that use a mixture of hydro and nuclear. Germany has installed wind capacity and non-hydro renewables are a cornerstone of official energy policy in Germany (the Green Party was in the government during the 1990s). Even despite officially favorable policy, the non-hydro renewables make up a very small percentage of total electricity usage compared to coal. (non- hydro renewables are red in the linked chart; coal is purple). Germany has not dropped its official nuclear phase-out policy, so unlike France, it hasn’t been able to displace its coal and oil usage with nuclear. Most hydro sites are already utilized in Germany.

    If you look at the linked charts, there is somewhat of a link between anti-nuclear power policies in European countries and higher carbon intensity in energy use. Anti-nuclear policies are a bad idea – – – – because their net effect is to increase fossil fuel usage. If governments give in to demands to close nuclear power plants, the electricity has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is usually coal, oil, or natural gas, since most hydroelectric sites are already utilized (see note about wind below). The “Green party” politics of the 1970s and 1980s are very counterproductive when it comes to trying to address AGW. Now, if there had been an anti-coal movement instead of an anti-nuclear movement in the 1980s….

    Unfortunately, very few of “die Gruenen” are honest enough to admit their anti-nuclear error.

    Regarding non-hydro renewable energy sources, even Denmark (0.34 kg CO_2/$2000 of GDP), with Europe’s largest wind grid, uses fossil fuels for the vast majority of its electricity.

    When looking at energy choices, I like to compare European countries to each other, rather than with the United States, because:

    1) Europeans are somewhat more conservation-minded than Americans, so conservation is better reflected in their energy usage and carbon intensity data. Some wasteful energy usage that occurs in the United States is factored out in, say, Denmark. Even so, non-hydro renewables can’t replace fossil fuels. Unfortunately, hydro doesn’t work in Denmark because Denmark is flat.
    2) Public transport is more widely available and more utilized in Europe, and thus transport carbon intensity is less in Europe than in the U.S.

    I hope that people interested in climate will see these charts and realize that opposition to nuclear energy is a very bad policy regarding climate.

  17. 17

    If I can get away with touting my own imagery, here is a map of changes in mountain glaciers based on the work of Dyurgerov and Meier.

    I also have a small collection of glacier images.

    I know nothing about L’Express, but Allegre seems to be a regular columnist with them. Does that mean no one bothers to fact check his material? Some of the errors you point out simply should never have made it into print. Is L’Express an organization that is normally respected and reliable? Regardless, I find it sad to see an established scientist burn through his credibility by making statements that do little besides declare his own ignorance.

  18. 18
    Emile Arens says:

    Re 14. Wayne’s mystery or: what does this title mean?

    After a quick google you will find the title is a hint towards the original musical term: “Allegro, ma non troppo”. In music this means: Play upbeat/lively (allegro), but not too much (ma non troppo). So I would interpret this the title as: According to Allegre, but not too much.

  19. 19
    Nereo Preto says:

    Re 4, 14:
    Dear Coby, your point of view on geologists is unfair! I am a geologist, but not at all a skeptic. I suppose there’s no way to explain the current GW as a natural phenomenon, but even if so, I’m positive it’s NOT a geologic phenomenon!
    On the other hand, it is always useful to look at things on a million-years-perspective. One realizes, for example, that some natural climatic changes of the past have been larger than the one we are experiencing right now by at least one order of magnitude. Perhaps, we might trigger one of those huge events by pumping CO2 in the atmosphere. Or, perhaps, we do our best to avoid AGW, and then, when we finally get everything all right, a natural phenomenon screws all up.

    Re 14:
    Literally, the translation is “with Allegre, but not too much”. However, “Allegro, non troppo” is a tempo (speed or pace of a musical piece), i.e., quick but not too much. It was also the title of an Italian animation movie by Bruno Bozzetto, that achieved some success in the US in the late 1970s. The movie ended with an animation on the notes of Ravel’s Bolero, which theme was the evolution of men. In the movie, at last, men extinguished the life on Earth through pollution and war disasters. So I suppose the title has a double meaning, perhaps difficult to understand for a non-Italian (or musician), but, I must admit, very elegant. I’m not totally sure Georg Hoffmann knows about Bruno Bozzetto’s Allegro non troppo, however.
    The link below is not really about climate change, but might be of help in this case…

  20. 20
    Jean-Luc P says:

    Is “les Cassandres” a reference to Cassandra in Greek mythology? If so, it’s use as an insult against climate scientists is ironic…

    Cassandre is used because all of the prophecies made by Cassandre speak about disasters.

    Nobody, in the french scientist community, thinks Mr allegre is realy well up in climatology. He only is a politician.
    Mr Allegre is a geologist specialized in tectonics and volcanoes. He has the habit to proclame such declarations out of his domain witch are often criticize by the specialists of the domain, since he began a career as a politician in the Jospin’s governement.

    A french scpetic climate blog has made a pro-Allegre commebtary , that here :

  21. 21
    Timothy says:

    Re: #12 – I think there is ~7m of ice in the Greenland ice sheet, but ice sheet modelling studies suggest it would take ~3000 years for it to melt completely [although I think most of the melting would happen in the early to middle years].

    Consequently, I would expect the contribution from Greenland melt to sea level rise to be << 1m during the 21st century. There is also a contribution from thermal expansion, but…

    I don’t remember ever hearing a figure of 4m for sea level rise in the 21st century. I think about ~ 1m is much more likely, but still bad enough for exaggerating the impact of storm surges, etc.

    I also think that there is a slight possibility that the West Antarctic Ice sheet could be vulnerable to collapse, but I don’t know much about this. Most of the Antarctic ice is locked up in the East Antarctic ice sheet. I’m not sure anyone has much of a clue how hot things would have to get in order to get *that* to melt. I think previous epochs when the south pole was ice-free had a different continental layout – ie Antarctica did not lie over the South Pole as squarely as it does today, so I don’t think there’s even a simple parallel to be made there.

  22. 22
    john mann says:

    re 15. It could be a dual-language word play. As Allegre is French and the article appeared in a French magazine, ‘con’ in french could be usefully translated as ‘stupid ba$tard’.

    [Response: That wasn’t the intention – the reference was to the Italian music terminology. – gavin]

  23. 23
    Jean-Luc P says:

    About such high levels of sea level rising some references based of past history of oceans (a Science magazine paper in fact) :

    That’s because some people speak about 4-7 meters rising when models generally don’t give more than 85 cm.

  24. 24
    Luke Silburn says:

    Re #21, a nitpick

    I think there is ~7m of ice in the Greenland ice sheet,

    ITIYM ~7m of mean sea level rise in the Greenland ice sheet (ie if it all melted).


  25. 25
    Bob Maurus says:

    Still trying to find some amplification or peer review/comment on Yde and Knudsen’s paper on the Disko Island glacier melt – all I’m finding are press releases and rightwing blog stuff. Can anyone help?

    Thanks, Bob Maurus

    [Response: What is the issue? These glaciers are receeding at an increasing rate, like much of the rest of Greenland. – gavin]

  26. 26
    Solar Kismet says:

    There is a cooperative electric utility in North Dakota (USA) that has taken it upon itself to publish a global-warming debunking article in nearly every newsletter for the last year and a half. Perhaps by beating their customers over the head enough times, their customers will think it’s true. Read the full article here.

  27. 27
    muller.charles says:

    “to my knowledge, all studied tropical glaciers have retreated over the 20th century, and the retreat rates have generally increased in recent decades”. Just a question: Are we sure of the second trend (acceleration of melting in 1980-2000 when compared to 1920-40) ? As an example, Georges (2004) analyzed Cordillera Blanca (Peru), the largest glaciated area within tropics, and as I recall found a more pronounced ice retreat in the beginning than in the end of the XXth century. But maybe it’s not representative of the overall tropical glaciers’ dynamics.

  28. 28

    Re #25 Here’s the abstract, which is available at :
    I can’t see much to argue about there.

    Observations of debris-rich naled associated with a major glacier surge event, Disko Island, West Greenland
    Jacob Clement Yde, N. Tvis Knudsen
    Department of Earth Sciences, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark

    Glacier naled formation is associated with surge-type glaciers both during active surging and in quiescence. During the 1995-98 surge of Kuannersuit Glacier, Disko Island, West Greenland, turbid winter runoff produced an extensive naled accretion with a distinct debris-rich stratification. After surge termination the summer occurrence of naledi gradually decreased and disappeared within 5 years. The fine-grained debris was deposited on top of outwash deposits on bars and banks. Observations at the margin of surrounding glaciers revealed that only surge-type glaciers in their quiescent phase had proglacial naled assemblages, although these lacked incorporated debris. This indicates that surge-type glaciers have a significant impact on the occurrence of naledi primarily because their subglacial thermal conditions and water storage capacity allow significant winter runoff implying high hydraulic pressure on proglacial outwash plains. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

  29. 29
    Bob Maurus says:

    Re #25,

    Thanks, Gavin and Alistair. Much was made of this paper at the time of its appearance (prior to publication) in press reports, by skeptics, as contradicting current claims and assertions by the GW community. Yde was quoted, though, stating that 20th century human activity had caused accelerations in the melting. No comments from the skeptics since then. My question would be, Is there anything in this paper which contradicts the current majority view on the subject? Or was it just another case of wishful thinking by assorted non-climatologists with insufficient knowledge and understanding of the issues.

    Bob Maurus

  30. 30
    Bob Maurus says:

    Re #25 & 28,

    Are we talking about the same report? The one I’m asking about was previewed in press reports released on 21 August 2006, and was to have been formally presented in Cambridge on the following Monday (don’t have a calender handy).

  31. 31
    muller.charles says:

    Re #25, #28, #29, #30

    The 2005 paper Alastair has posted is not the 2006 presentation Bob has mentioned.
    Information about the IGS symposium can be found here :

    The presentation was :
    46A036- 20th century glacier fluctuations on Disko Island, Greenland
    Jacob Clement Yde Niels Tvis Knudsen
    (an analysis of 120 years trends for 247 glaciers in this region).

  32. 32
    Serinde says:

    Re Cassandra. His comments indeed have a terrible irony. However, disaster, per se, isn’t really the point. Cassandra was doomed to predict the true future and fate decreed no one would believe her (e.g., the fall of Troy). A cassandra is someone whose true words are ignored. Just so.

  33. 33

    Re #31 A Google with “Disko island glaciers” brought up this hit:


    Yde concludes “Everything points to the fact that our results also apply to other similar coastal glaciers elsewhere in Greenland – they too will have receded or even disappeared completely during the past 100 years”, reports glaciologist Jacob Clement Yde.”

    However the GRACE results point to the majority of the melting happening in South East and North East regions of Greenland. Disko Island is on the mid west coast. I suspect that Yde is to glaciers what Gray is to hurricanes. Because he is an expert in a small part of the picture, he believes that he has the right to extrapolate his results to fit with his global warming skepticism.

  34. 34
    muller.charles says:

    re #33
    Alsatair, GRACE results : 2002-2005. I think it’s a too short measurement for conclude either in a climatic trend (decennal, pluridecennal), or in precise location, or in retrovalidation of past data. I don’t read Yde’s paper. But a “small part of the picture”, if true and precise, may be more interesting for researchers than a blurred big picture.

  35. 35
    Glen Fergus says:

    Re Gavin on #25

    “[Response: What is the issue? These glaciers are receeding at an increasing rate, like much of the rest of Greenland. – gavin]”

    There is evidence of recent Greenland ice thinning and some alarming accelerating local retreat ( ), but evidence of universal recent retreat is harder to find. See eg – most of the western edge of the ice sheet has barely moved in 10 years.

  36. 36
    Steven T. Corneliussen says:

    Question, maybe for the RC scientists, in fact maybe for Stefan Rahmstorf (who might recall talking to me about this): During an episode six months ago, when Robert Novak and George F. Will had published bogus science commentaries, the RC scientists charged ( that “the Washington Post does not seem to have a quality control in place that ensures minimal journalistic standards, such as intellectual honesty and basic fact-checking.” To what extent, if any, does anybody charge anything like that against l’Express in the present case?

  37. 37

    Re #34 Charles, Yde’s has committed the fallacy of generalising from one small island to the whole of Greenland. Moreover the GRACE evidence from the whole of Greenland contradicts Yde’s assertion.

    You have to be very careful in earth science because it is fractal. Every rule has an exception, and each exception to the rule is a rule which also has its own exception. For instance, the glaciers in Greenland are accelerating, but not on the island of Disko, except for glacier X, although it is advancing in the west, except for a small section …

    Although in physical science, once it is discovered that force is equal to mass times acceleration then that is true for ever, the idea that truth holds for all time does not apply to earth science. Yde may well be correct that until the tear 2000 the Greenland glaciers were steadily retreating, but that may well have changed during the last few years. Surely it is not only more interesting that the glaciers are suddenly retreating much faster, it is also more important.

    The skeptic blogs will cherry pick the information that backs their own beliefs and wishes, but if you want the truth then you must keep an open mind and balance the evidence.

  38. 38
    John L. McCormick says:

    For what it is worth, the Guardian article by Fred Pearce, on Aug. 30 (see link below)

    begins with the following:

    [Richard Alley’s eyes glint as we sit in his office in the University of Pennsylvania discussing how fast global warming could cause sea levels to rise. The scientist sums up the state of knowledge: “We used to think that it would take 10,000 years for melting at the surface of an ice sheet to penetrate down to the bottom. Now we know it doesn’t take 10,000 years; it takes 10 seconds.”]

    That is the problem with the IPCC and other predictions, statements, extrapolations, etc. made five or more years ago. Our knowledge curve is thankfully on an upward trend and what we are now learning is telling scientists things are not what they seemed back then.

    Accelerated melting of the Greenland, Arctic and glacial ice is far more threatening because events will overtake human intervention to either mitigate or adapt. Listen to Dr. Hansen.

  39. 39
    muller.charles says:


    Alastair, I totally agree that generalising from one site to the entire Greenland is not correct. When I said GRACE results are too short, I alluded to the well-known decennal and pluridecennal variability of this region. As far I as know, Greenland warming trend was for example equivalent in the 1930’s, and present estival temperatures are still cooler than they were in this period. So, we need to resist the temptation of extrapolating 2002-2005 GRACE measures to the future.

  40. 40

    The Climate-Change-Is-Very-Bad community has huge communication issues wrt the general public and it is telling that the main gist of Allegre’s article is completely lost to the RealClimate commentator

    Allegre, as others have said, is a politician, so his words must be “decoded” thinking of a politician’s language, not a scientist’s

    It then becomes a matter of practical action in the real world. And in the real world, Allegre can see “the ecology of the powerless protester” (“l’ecologie de l’impuissance protestataire”) having become a good business, whilst _nothing_ serious gets done (even Al Gore thinks nothing of perpetually jetting around the world)

    My personal view on the upcoming (or not) catastrophe of global warming are somewhere in the archives of RealClimate. But those are beside the point

    The question to ask is what if anything is preventing the entire world from acting even remotely in step with what is written day in, day out on RealClimate and other similar fora, newspaper articles and now even documentary movies

    Allegre thinks the issue is that disasters are not predicted to happen before another half a century. An interesting point indeed

    [Response: Why do potentially sensible comments on appropriate policy responses need to come packaged with demonstrably erroneous science then? There are plenty of serious commentators discussing these issues, and it can be done without distorting the science. -gavin]

  41. 41

    Re: 40

    “Why do potentially sensible comments on appropriate policy responses need to come packaged with demonstrably erroneous science then?”

    Perhaps because the scientific details are not relevant to Allegre’s argument? All he needs is “the doubt”. If he had cared about the sources he would not have mixed up Nature and Science

    For an example of science-less policy, think of the “War on Drugs”

  42. 42

    Maurizio, are you saying that “a barrage of stories on disappearing species, uncontrollable pests, rising seas, floods, droughts, heat waves, fires, violent storms, scarce food/jobs/resources, and forecasts of millions of human deaths” are “demonstratably erroneous science”?

  43. 43

    Re: 41


    No I am not. “Demonstrably erroneous science” was a comment by Gavin on Allegre’s words

    Besides, the fact that there is a barrage of stories of impending doom is just that: a fact

    To be 100% clear: I am not hell-bent in demonstrating that contemporary climate science is a load of rubbish (it isn’t). I am simply and fundamentally “allergic” to hysteria and prophecies of doom

    If I could show that all as based on “demonstrably erroneous science” I guess we would not be here talking about it 8-)

  44. 44


    So you agree with me :-) that one of those [old prejudices that we all retain], which is common to all people including myself, is that disaster is not just around the corner.

    Despite the “barrage of stories on disappearing species, uncontrollable pests, rising seas, floods, droughts, heat waves, fires, violent storms, scarce food/jobs/resources, and forecasts of millions of human deaths” you are convinced it is all “hysteria”.

    You think that we should not report the truth because it does not “serves any purpose apart from scaring people”?

  45. 45
    Bob Maurus says:

    My thanks to all for the input on Yde’s latest paper. I, and many other laymen, depend on the input and comments of those with (hopeful)expertise to even attempt to stumble through all the chaff on these various issues. Please do not blow off seemingly pointless questions – I’m trying, as I think many others are, to get a grip on the issues and the evidence. At some point, we’re your most important audience and your army. We need the ammunition that only you can provide if we are to engage at the one-on-one level.


  46. 46

    RE: 44


    In truth our two points do not necessarily contradict one another. It can still be “truth” but reported as “hysteria”

    As for people not avoiding the wall until they get their nose flattened up against it, well, it would help if the likes of Al Gore were not out there disseminating contrails to tell us not to fly any longer…

    The medium is always part of the message, and for every Cassandra predicting it as it will be, there is a crying-wolf 8-)

  47. 47

    Re #46

    Well, perhaps I am a Cassandra. However, don’t forget that Cassandra was right but was cursed by the gods and so no-one believed her. (I know how that feels.) So Troy fell despite her warnings :-( And don’t forget that in the story of The_Boy_Who_Cried_Wolf the villagers’ flocks were destroyed because the boy was having fun lying.

    Do you really think all these reports are lies, or when a respected diplomat such as Sir Crispin Tickell was Speaking Out on Climate Change to the AAAS, he was doing it for fun?

    The AAAS reported:
    “The business-as-usual way of dealing with the Earth’s system is not an option,” warned Sir Crispin Tickell, delivering the 2006 Robert C. Barnard Environmental Lecture to a full auditorium at AAAS in Washington, D.C. The director of the Policy Foresight Programme of the James Martin Institute at Oxford University first brought the problem of human-induced climate change to wide public attention nearly 30 years ago. Today, he states that global climate change poses a greater threat to society than terrorism and that vested interests in the United States are preventing a swift global response.

  48. 48
    Dan says:

    re: 46.
    “As for people not avoiding the wall until they get their nose flattened up against it, well, it would help if the likes of Al Gore were not out there disseminating contrails to tell us not to fly any longer…”

    Sounds like someone has taken in by right-wing political commentary against Gore speaking out about global warming. As Google or Yahoo! can show you, Gore’s effort to inform people about global warming is carbon neutral.

  49. 49

    Re: 47

    Alastair: Hysteria is a way of communicating. It has nothing to do with truth or fakehood. One can be hysterical while saying the truth. In no way what I write should be read as affirming that any scientist in the Climate-Change-Will-Kill-Us camp is saying so “for fun”, or knowingly distorting the data

    They (you) see something and yell out your concerns. I see the same things but no reason (yet) to be concerned: and definitely no reason to cry wolf, even if as in the fairy tale the boy was “third time lucky” (in the sense that the third time, really there was a wolf)

    Re; 48

    Dan: Whatever Al Gore is doing to be carbon-neutral (and the amounts to offset do vary from website to website), it is not part of any article I have ever read about his movie

    Wonder if the great unwashed are supposed to be googling about the Man?

    ClimateCrisis clear states “Fly less”: the air-travel offset is supposed to be an alternative, if one really cannot fly less, not the main message. Has Mr Gore organized the launch of the movie in different countries so he would minimise the amount of miles, one wonders

    And most of all, why oh why could he not ram in the clear-and-present-danger of climate change by presenting the movie via internet conferencing?


    For other examples of “greenwash”, read UK commentator, environmentalist extraordinaire and Guardian editorialist George Monbiot, unless you believe he has been taken in by right-wing political commentary too (“Heat: how to stop the planet burning”: website: )

  50. 50
    Dan says:

    re: 47.
    “…the great unwashed…”. That sort of ad hominem speaks volumes.

    Compare GHG emissions between planes and fossil-fuel fired power plants for context. Clearly, the attacks on Gore’s presentations are not scientifically motivated because the science speaks for itself through the scientific method and peer-reviewed studies in various journals. The attacks are politically motivated and often personal. They are subsequently fed to and regurgitated by those who look for things to throw out to laymen to obfuscate the scientific issues and belittle Gore.