Blogging has been a little light recently (apologies!), but here are a few pieces that have caught our eye this week.
First up, the Columbia Journalism Review has a two–parter on journalistic coverage of climate change inspired by comments from Jeff Huggins on the Andy Revkin’s Dot Earth blog. The key issues CJR addresses are familiar ones to readers here: how to communicate mainstream science in a way that doesn’t distort the reality of the consensus on many issues in favour of controversy on more cutting-edge topics. Definitely worth a read, and proof (if such were needed) that commenting on blogs can make a difference to coverage.
Next, the role of CO2 as a long-term climate forcing. The old CO2 lead/lag issue keeps making the rounds as a contrarian talking point (and made a brief resurgence here in comments this week) despite the fact that the existence of impact of climate on the carbon cycle in no way invalidates the impact of CO2 (as a greenhouse gas) on climate. However, there is a nice paper in Nature this week (Lunt et al, 2008) which looks at the various proposed triggers for the onset of the quaternary glaciations at the end of the Pliocene (~3 million years ago). These triggers involve, permanent El Nino events, the closing of the Isthmus of Panama, changes in orbital forcing, tectonic uplift of the Rocky mountains – and long-term decreases in CO2 as a function of very slow variations in sea floor spreading and chemical weathering. Lunt et al find that only the change in CO2 (400 ppm to 280 ppm) can explain the changes in the ice sheet. None of the other ideas come even close.
Thus, it looks very much like the climate changed radically due to this externally forced drift in CO2 (and tectonic is external for climate purposes on this timescale). As a corollary, this is an expansion of the idea we discussed a few months back, that the long term changes in the Earth system due to external forcings might be well be larger than the classical (Charney) sensitivity we often talk about.
Third. There has been a lot of discussion on energy futures in the comments – Nature had a good rundown of the scientific constraints on the different prospects. But this video is a quite entertaining discussion of why we just can’t get our heads around the issue from Dan Gilbert (h/t GH).
Finally, a commentary on the prospects for continued employment as an Arctic ice expert (h/t Climate Feedback).
148 Responses to "Friday round-up"
“…the US for superior wisdom and exercising international power for the common good.”
Eh ? I think some people, (including me), would question the veracity of that extraordinary remark, (perhaps we could have ask the whole 6.75 billion on the planet to vote on it ?) but, as it’s way off topic, best not to pursue it further.
Nick Gotts, you might find this link interesting if you have not come across sociocracy before. I hadn’t myself.
reCaptcha : profits contracts
Whoops, forgot the link, here it is:
Kevin McKinney says
Regarding the many comments linking Palin’s creationism and climate denialism: I suspect the connection between the two to be quite real. Apart from the obvious link–the dismissal of scientific concensus in preference to ideological prejudice–there appears to be some sort of cultural link as well. For example, if you randomly survey some of the “conservative Christian” sites out there, you will run across more than your daily quota of contrarian rantings.
And, of course, there is always the example of Roy Spencer, who famously hosts both the “climate contrarian” and “Intelligent Design” meme-sets–I have long thought that it is no coincidence that his website has a strong tendency to introduce supposedly scientific points with the formula, “I believe.”
[Response: While there is certainly a coincidence of argument styles among proponents of ID and climate contrarians (and anti-vaccination campaigners, homeopathy, 9/11 truthers and other assorted pseudo-sciences), there is no automatic link between people who hold these various beliefs. There are plenty of Christians who understand climate science, and I assume, climate contrarians who think homeopathy is nonsense. Getting into discussions about how correlated the groups are tends to only lead to generalisations that end up offending pretty much everyone by the time you are done. Thus, your point is noted, but no more discussion on this please. There will be lots of real climate science issues coming up in the next few days. – gavin]
Steve Bloom says
Re #91: “I hear Palin is also in favour of “healthy debate” with regard to the origin of babies: are they the result of sex between the parents, or are they brought by the stork?”
Nick, when I read this I couldn’t help but immediately think of the “Yorkshire” segment of the last Monty Python film. :)
Kevin McKinney says
Oops! I hope you’ll allow a clarification. I wasn’t trying to say that “All (or most) Christians are climate denialists” or that “All climate denialists are Christians.” (I should perhaps note that where I live–the Atlanta area–one of the more helpful groups in creating positive change around the AGW issue has been the “Georgia Interfaith Power & Light” group–predominantly, though not exclusively, composed of Christian congregations.)
Rather, it seems to me that there is a population–relatively small, I hope!–out there for whom both AGW and Darwinism are deeply troublesome emotionally, and strongly rejected intellectually–probably along with a number of other “modernist” positions. If so, perhaps one could better understand the “visceral” rejection of the AGW message exhibited by some?
There are also plenty of Christians who are not evolution deniers. The ID/Creationists have worked hard to create the illusion that their particular brand of fringe Christian literalism is representative of Christianity as a whole, just as global warming deniers work to create the illusion that a handful of fringe contrarians are representative of an imaginary mass of scientists questioning the reality of global warming.
And there certainly is not a perfect correspondence between evolution deniers and global warming deniers. Still, it does seem that some people, through disposition, political bias, or inadequacies of education, are particularly vulnerable to the kinds of deceptive arguments that are used by pseudoscientists of every ilk.
Joseph O'Sullivan says
“There will be lots of real climate science issues coming up in the next few days. – gavin”
Its fall and time for hockey season again!
Global warming greatest in past decade
#4 Peter Ward, if the “Rare Earth” and “Gorgon” Peter, thanks for commenting on RealClimate. I would recommend any of his popular science books. The deep-time climate stuff is interesting. If I recall right Raypierre had a post about antarctic ice caps during much warmer periods.
[Response: Indeed – and more! – gavin]
Jim Galasyn says
Patrick 027 says
Re 103,105,106 – and there are some people who accept evolution but who deny AGW. (Not to generalize a whole group – my impression is some such people can be found among libertarians – and Objectivists)
Re 107 – ” If I recall right Raypierre had a post about antarctic ice caps during much warmer periods.” – Thanks for mentioning that, I’m going to look for it.
Davis Straub says
I thought that you might be interested in an exchange of emails that I had recently with Richard A Muller, the author of “Physics for Future Presidents,” and reviewer of climate data for the NAS. I wrote:
I would normally be quite loath to contact the author of a book that I had just finished, but one thing kept nagging at me so that I have put my feelings aside and have sent you this short note.
BTW, as a graduate in physics from UCSC, I quite enjoyed your book and your approach.
But, pages 292-295 just didn’t seem to match up to the standards that you set in the book re evidence, and the concerns that you raised in the pages just previous to this section, “The Hockey Stick.”
Re the last paragraph on page 2954 through 295.
From here: https://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/dummies-guide-to-the-latest-hockey-stick-controversy/
There is also further discussion of the issues of the source of that data, the Medieval warming period, and Eurocentrism here:
Does it matter that you are wrong (or appear to be wrong) about the “hockey stick” being wrong (it is quite difficult to follow exactly which “hockey stick” and which wrong we are all referring to)? The “hockey stick” appears to be basically correct, and that no one, not Al nor the Canadian government are in error to have taken that actions that they took.
To me this means very simply, that I’m not sure that you have done the physics correctly, and that may mean that you’ve not done it correctly in other areas of the book. So we have a conundrum when it comes to providing advice to say, “Future Presidents” who are relying on us (you) to do it right.
He wrote back:
There is no doubt about the hockey stick being wrong. The National Academy reviewed this issue, and I was a referee for the National Academy report. They did a very good job. Their conclusion is that the climate is now warmer than it has been in the last 400 years. We have known that for decades. The hockey stick conclusion, that it is warmer than it has been for 1000 years, is simply not supportable by the scientific evidence.
If you have not read the National Academy report, I recommend you do
Not to be a bother, and my last word on the subject (because really it is about the physics and not about the climate) but I would say:
“No Doubt” and “wrong” are perhaps a bit strong. In all aspects wrong? Or just one? Is there still reason for doubt and controversy, genuine scientific controversy?
Anyway, I only bring up this point to illustrate that you may have overstated the case in your book. You feel differently, I assume from what you have written below, but as I physicist (junior grade) I will rely on the evidence and not the authority.
Thanks again for your wonderful book.
In all aspects wrong? Or just one?
What was wrong was the conclusion that drew all the attention: that the world-wide record, when analyzed in a way less biased than had been done before, showed the hockey-stick pattern over the last 1000 years. That conclusion was based on a mistaken computer analysis, and is absolutely wrong.
That does not mean that future analysis might show the absence of the medieval warm period. What is wrong is the statement that the analysis of Mann and colleagues demonstrated that it did not exist. They had made two mistakes. The first was the bug that caused them to emphasize the Western US. The second was a gross underestimate of their uncertainties.
A correct PCA of the data shows that a hockey stick exists in the third (I think) principal component. What that indicates is that there is a subset of the data that shows that behavior. Of course, we already know that the western US shows that behavior, so that is an expected result. What is wrong is the conclusion (by Mann et al.) That the world record shows that behavior.
The National Academy concluded that the data were not sufficient accurate or independent to be able to lead to a definitive conclusion about the medieval warm period. We know it existed in Japan, and I believe there are good records that show it also existed in Japan and in the South Pacific. But the National Academy did not review that work; they only reviewed the PCA analysis of Mann, and the conclusions that could be drawn from that data.
There is no controversy here, because the published conclusion by Mann was based on incorrect analysis. That is beyond dispute. Mann is now claiming that his analysis was correct, since the hockey stick shows up in a higher order analysis. But his original conclusion — the one that got the world’s attention — was that this represented the overall behavior of the world.
And thank you for the kind things you said about the rest of the book…
Jackson Hole, WY, USA
[Response: Very interesting. However, much as I liked Muller’s ‘Physics for Future Presidents’ column, he is seriously misstating the facts of this case. First of all, the MBH99 paper that dealt with the AD 1000 reconstructions was larded with caveats and uncertainties and made no claim to definitively prove anything. In claiming otherwise Muller is erecting a strawman. The actual statement was that ‘it was likely’ based on that evidence that northern hemisphere temperatures (not the world) had not exceeded the late 20th Century values over the millennium. Statements such as the ‘hockey-stick’ is wrong are incorrect simplifications devoid of any meaning. What makes a record a ‘hockey-stick’? What bit of it is ‘wrong’ (as opposed to uncertain)? And why does the existence of the ‘hockey-stick’ imply the non-existence of the MWP? The idea that MWP was global was undermined long before MBH99 came along. Muller is conflating two very different things – though he is hardly the only one to do so. On one point logically, he is correct, the concluding statement could be true regardless of what MBH99 did. However, his claims that MBH99 was “absolutely wrong” are absolutely undermined by getting the same results if you do the PCA analysis in a different way (as reported in Ammann and Wahl (2007)). It is therefore a difference without a distinction. My conclusion is that Muller is a little out of his field here, and is being far more absolutist (to the point of being plain wrong) than the circumstances or evidence warrants. But stay tuned… more hockey stick discussion soon! – gavin]
Hank Roberts says
Here’s one for the paleo people.
Anyone looked for a correlation between magnetic pole flips and atmosphere/ocean gas and mineral ratios?
Peter Ward says
Re: 107. Yes, same me, and the RealClimate commmunity can be of great help to me. I am writing a book I originally called Earth 2.0. Stupid title because it is really Earth 10 to the nth. I then retitled it The Rising, and then my book company (Basic) decided to call it Our Flooded Earth (ouch – since my title is accurate, and theirs has not happened (yet)).
I am trying to write about the real effects of rising sea level on things from geology to biology infrastructure and agriculture, not about Noah. While I try to use the various estimates, my thesis is that there is no stopping the loss of the continental ice caps this time around – and sooner or later view property will be waterfront property. I am also trying to get a grip on past warm climates with ice caps, if indeed they existed, and the posts add to my sense that there are still giant unknowns about hothouse climates – which of course we are heading for. Maybe there is hope – hothouse with an ice cap this time? The great work by you RealClimate guys, especially the post last January about the Cretaceous taught me so much. You folks deserve the Nobel Prize.
A final odd story. I had the honor, or so I thought, to address TED this past March, about deep past climate change, and with Al Gore in the first row next to smart Hollywood and rich Silicon Valley and Seattle (Bezos and Allen sitting next to Robin Williams and the Google guys, etc.) I talked about the ultimate killing that could come from extended climate change, if we get to the point where the chemocline hits the photic zone, following Lee Kump. I introduced my work on potential H2S at the Permian and TJ mass extinctions, and the work of Mark Roth on how H2S turns warm bloods into cold bloods – which might explain some of the selective survival at PT, and at the same time, will revolutionize critical care – all of us may end up getting a sniff of H2S on some wild ambulance ride after a heart attack, stroke, or other pleasant, old age experience, which allows docs to cool us down way colder than otherwise possible and thus buy time- human tests are already underway, with all of this funded by DARPA to try to save soldiers in Iraq – the April edition of Seed Magazine has my editorial and work on this. Since the talk, for some reason, TED has refused to release my talk. No reason given. Al Gore showed no interest to learn the worst possible consequence of global warming – an H2S extinction – guess he has indeed moved on. I tried to get through his body guards and just got the stone face. Pretty depressing experience. TED says it could never happen as suggested by the past. Sensationalism. Maybe they are right. maybe.
So – if from time to time I ask the community stupid questions, please bear with my ignorance. Steep learning curve. Long way from ammonites and nautilus to hockey sticks. And wish Eric Steig and me luck as we commandeer an icebreaker this February to go to James Ross Island, Antarctica, to look together, with Joe Kirschvink, at that pesky Cretaceous hothouse for a month.
David B. Benson says
Peter Ward (111) — The big ones are called ice sheets, not caps. Caps come in big and small sizes, here is a paper about Penny Ice Cap, oone of the big ones:
with lots of nice maps.
Richard Pauli says
re:112 There may be real suppression of the darkest doom scenarios.
Or at least the more expressive presentations. It might be because to embrace that notion deeply leads to sudden, deep, fundamental changes to human value system. Beyond civilization. Most of what we interact with would be of trifling importance by comparison.
Richard Pauli says
I look forward to reading the Canadian author Gwynne Dyer –
Military historian and modern military strategist
“They’re scared, they’re really frightened. Things are moving far faster than their models predicted. “You may have the Arctic ocean free of ice entirely in five years’ time, in the late summer. Nobody thought that would happen until about the 2040s – even a couple of years ago.” Dr Dyer says there is a sense of things moving much faster, and the military are picking up on that. He also says we will be playing climate change catch-up in the next 30 years.
Speaking about his latest book, Climate Wars, he says there is a sense of suppressed panic from the scientists and military leaders. “Mostly it’s about winners and losers, at least in the early phases of climate change,” he said.
Jim Eaton says
I’ve been debating whether I should build a dock here in my Davis home or if the H2S will get me first. As you may recall from your time here, despite being 75 miles (120 km) inland, UC Davis is only about 52 feet (16 meters) above current sea level. But I suppose either option will be beyond my time.
I hope many of you are familiar with Peter Ward’s Under a Green Sky, but he has written a number of fascinating books, including Rare Earth, Gorgon, Out of Thin Air, and Future Evolution. It could be my bias having endured geology summer field camp, but I really enjoy Dr. Ward’s descriptions of his time in the field (and he has spent a lot of time in the outdoors). Like some great conservation biologists I know, Dr. Ward’s extensive time looking at actual physical evidence, as well as his time in the lab, allow him great insight into how our world works.
Check out his books. And if any of you can help him with his questions, our knowledge of paleoclimate will be all the better for it.
Martin Vermeer says
Jim Bullis #96
Surprisingly hard to find solid numbers. I found this for steam reforming:
pointing to 65% – 75% efficiency. That agrees with what I remember about fuel cells: a hydrogen-oxygen cell has 80% efficiency, dropping to 60% for one using natural gas, which contains a reforming stage. That gives a 75% efficiency figure for the reforming process.
What makes it worthwhile is the use of CO2 for extraction. There are some projects ongoing:
…and note that a comparison with direct combustion is not very meaningful actually, as that guarantees a lower efficiency: burning is about the worst thing you can do with hydrogen, whether in a heating element of in an internal combustion engine. The whole idea is to drive fuel cells, for, e.g., space heating use heat pumps at 200-300% heating “efficiency”. The loss fraction of 25% could be made useful too as low-grade heat for space heating, although all that requires infrastructure investments.
Nick Gotts says
Fred Jorgensen@94 “The US is the most free and least evil of nations in the world.”
Garbage on both counts. It was you who introduced this topic, I don’t think this is the forum to argue the issue, so I simply make this bald denial of your bald assertions.
Figen Mekik says
Sorry this is way OT, but some people can make smiley faces with shades, some have ones with red teeth or mouths or whatever, the only one I know how to make is this :) What’s the secret?
[Response: If you really need to know… gavin]
Figen Mekik says
Thanks Gavin! :lol:
If this global circulation model is good enough to show that shifting currents and cold water could not have caused the last extensive glaciation, how come they cannot predict the weather today?
[Response: Huh? That’s like asking why if your Chevy can take 4 passengers on holiday why can’t it compete in a formula 1 race. They’re both cars right? -gavin]
Jim Galasyn says
McIntyre is unsubtly insinuating that Mann cherry-picked proxies for the recent paper:
“I identified 33 non-tree ring proxies with that started on or before 1000 – many, perhaps even most, of these proxies are new to the recon world. How were these particular proxies selected? How many proxies were screened prior to establishing this network? Mann didn’t say.”
How many kittens has McIntyre molested and ritually killed whilst exploring the boundary between speculation and libel? McIntyre didn’t say.
Jim Eager says
Re Richard Pauli @ 115; I’ve been reading Gwynne Dyer’s columns for years and have several of his books on my shelf. I, too, look forward to reading Climate Wars.
Jim Eager says
Re Maxwell @ 21: Yawn. Yet another thoroughly unoriginal and vacuous drive-by. I’m sure the meaning of Gavin’s analogy will be totally lost.
Tom Stark says
Please forgive my cunctation. I’ve been rather indisposed lately, but a good musician never blames the instrument, I know.
Gavin wrote: > Curses! Philosophical theorizing yet again proves —
Allow me to interrupt you a moment here, rude as it is, to quickly point out that proof supplants theory. It would therefore be more accurate to simply say “Philosophy yet again proves …” Prolixity, while not quite a vice, is a very bad habit, as I’m sure you know.
Gavin wrote: > … proves that global warming can’t be happening or if it is nothing can possibly be done.
Yet again? But when was the first time? And who, besides you, says philosophy has “proved” global warming can’t be happening? You will, I think, search my words in vain for that proposition. And who, besides you, says that “nothing can possibly be done”? You’ve evidently misread — or, to be more precise, not read at all the follow-up article.
Gavin wrote: > Back to the drawing board then…
Gavin wrote: > But as an aside, how do you feel about medical advice?
I feel very good about it, in general. Unless, of course, that advice gets in the way of my lifestyle.
Gavin wrote: > Do you still smoke?
Still? Well, yes, I admit. But only in the bedroom.
Gavin wrote: > How’s your cholesterol?
Sir, I’m a muscular mid-thirty, and my cholesterol — at least, as of six months ago — hovers majestically around 150.
Gavin wrote: > weight?
Soaking wet, 140. Also, I have a twenty-nine inch waist; I’m 5’9 and compulsively fit. I once ran a four-minute mile. Absolute truth.
Gavin wrote: > And why should anyone be concerned about these things?
Why? But isn’t it obvious? “As the body without the spirit is dead, so too is the spirit without the body dead.” And nothing, as Voltaire said, is greater than life.
None of which, just as obviously, presupposes government compulsion and mercantilism. My goodness, that’s one hell of a leap you make. Nor does it “prove” that bureaucrats, centralized planners, and government bureaus are therefore more qualified than we ourselves are to live our lives. Nor does it entitle these political bodies known as governments to make our decisions for us. Quoting the polymathic Wilhelm von Humboldt, friend to both Goethe and Schiller:
Any State interference in private affairs, where there is no reference to violence done to individual rights, should be absolutely condemned. To provide for the security of its citizens, the state must prohibit or restrict such actions, relating directly to the agents only, as imply in their consequences the infringement of others’ rights, or encroach on their freedom of property without their consent or against their will. Beyond this, every limitation of personal freedom lies outside the limits of state action (Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Limits of State Action, 1791). Indeed, long before public smoking was outlawed and demonized in this country, the number of smokers was steadily dropping — voluntarily. There is no political bureau and no governmental bureaucracy in the history of the world which has ever proved itself consistently more capable of running the individual’s life than the individual herself. Besides which, no one — and I mean no one — can talk a user out of using, a smoker out of smoking, or a drinker out of drinking; rather, that person must choose to do it — i.e. decide for herself. (Force is the antithesis of choice.) But even if, as you wish, you could force a person out of it — by, for instance, imprisoning her for the crime of smoking, or eating too much cholesterol — it hardly justifies the legitimacy of that kind of massive state coercion and governmental compulsion. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The legitimate functions of government extend only to such acts as are injurious to others.” And “rights can be violated only through acts of aggression” (Notes on the State of Virginia).
Gavin wrote: > Let’s see how consistent you are.
Integrity, I promise you, is in my world a primary virtue. If, therefore, you’re genuinely curious to know how consistent I am — and I frankly have doubts — you need only read this.
The origins of government are not, perhaps, quite as you suppose.
Nor are centralized planners quite as capable and efficient as you evidently imagine them to be.
In short, Sir, I believe very consistently that the government should stay completely out of business and the bedroom, just as it should stay completely out of things religious and noetic, and for the exact same reasons.
[Response: All very interesting I’m sure, but your opinions on the role of government have absolutely nothing to do with the role of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, the microphysics of aerosols and clouds, the circulation of the oceans, retreating sea ice or stranded polar bears. Instead you have the reflexive knee jerk reaction (shared by many, it is true) that dictates that if a proposed solution to a problem is not to your liking, you automatically assume the problem can’t exist. This is Denial 101. I spend no time on this blog discussing my political philosophy or preferred policy options – mainly because they aren’t that much more interesting than anybody else’s opinions. We talk about science here because we have got privileged information and our opinions count for a little more than the average persons. If you want to talk about science and about what we know and how, then stick around. If you want to use this as a soapbox for political venting, take it elsewhere – we’re just not interested. Let me throw out a little advice (no doubt on to stony ground) – if you don’t like a policy, get involved with policy-makers to craft ones you would be happier with – because the problem it isn’t going to go away. You claim to be a ‘thinking man’ – prove it. – gavin]
Ray Ladbury says
Tom Stark, Ideology does not trump physical reality. If indeed you would like to avoid government intervention to address climate change, then I would recommend that you develop a realistic (look it up) plan for addressing the threat without the heavy hand of government being necessary. All you do by denying good science is cede your spot to those who believe in the role of government.
Hank Roberts says
Jefferson would approve of the science being done today.
Jim Eager says
Re Tom Stark: Wrong forum. The physical reality known as climate cares not one whit about political philosophy, nor about economic systems, whether they be libertarian or centrally planned. CO2 is a greenhouse gas whether it comes from a smokestack in Detroit, Sudbury, Magdebrg, or Shanghai. Physics predicts that more of it in the atmosphere will make the climate warmer, with numerous nasty side effects. Political philosophy and economics will not change that. Deal with it.
Tom Stark quoted Tom Jefferson: “The legitimate functions of government extend only to such acts as are injurious to others.”
Well, based on that aphorism, it would be an entirely “legitimate function” for the government to order all coal-fired power plants to be shut down immediately, since the “act” of continuing to operate them is demonstrably “injurious” to everyone on Earth.
I think your philosophical musings have their place, Tom (not likely to be here), and I think you are entirely in order to address the epistemology of science, and, by extension, that of climate science. On your website you write:
“And yet it’s many of these same AGW scientists who, today, under the insidious influence of postmodernism, assure us that there are no absolutes in science – ‘science doesn’t deal in truth, but only likelihood,’ to quote a certain climate scientist from realclimate.org.
“Truth is only relative, you see.”
But this is to my mind a significant distortion of the epistemology of science—to equate probability (one of the epistemological foundations of science) with postmodern forms of relativism. To suggest that “AGW scientists” are under the “insidious influence of postmodernism” is quaintly amusing. (I teach a 200-level philosophy of education course. Had this argument shown up in a student paper, I would not be favorably impressed.)
You then follow up with this syllogism, suggesting it represents the “global warming position”:
“Global warming is man-made. Man is ruled by governments. Therefore, government bureaus, centralized planning committees, and more laws are the only solution.
“In philosophy, this is called a non-sequitur.”
Indeed, it is a non-sequitur (it’s also a silly argument in its lack of sophistication). But it is also terribly misleading (not to mention naïve), I think, to suggest that this syllogism represents the position of those who argue the reality of AGW.
I agree with the others: take it elsewhere, Tom.
Patrick 027 says
Tom Stark – I went to a couple of your links out of curiosity. This isn’t the place but I can’t help it:
1. – your link “centralized planners” merely takes me to a list of quotes that are meant to make it seem as if environmentalism is a “cult of death”. But
a. I can’t help but wonder if some of these quotes were taken out of context. For example, there is a difference between a matter-of-fact consideration of what is (that humans are damaging ecosystems)and preaching would should be.
b. This is just a subset of everything said by every environmentalist. Extremists in a group don’t prove a group to be extremist – certainly I don’t believe all libertarians to be paranoid xenophobic ignoramuses.
c. Much motivation in environmentalism comes about from wanting to alleviate human suffering while at the same time maintaining some human population – not just now but in the future.
d. Mao Zedong, communist, is not an environmentalists’ hero by far. It would be interesting to compare Mao Zedong to George W Bush and John Stossel.
2. Your link to “capable and efficient” –
a. Why on earth would anyone want to be in charge of all that? Maybe some environmentalists would – I for one would not. But – isn’t it okay for murder to be illegal? That is a government regulation on the economy, for surely you must realize that someone might profit from it. There are different forms and degrees of regulation and policy, that need not take the form of tyrannical micromanaging.
b. “But the next time an environmentalist tells you to “bicycle more and save the planet” think of I, Pencil, by Leonard Read.” … “Because I promise you that all the filthy, hardcore industry that goes into the manufacturing of one simple pencil is multiplied a thousandfold just to make and transport a single bicycle to you there in Boulder, Colorado, or Moab, Utah.”
Um, the idea is not to replace 1 pencil with 1 bicycle. The idea is to use a bicycle instead of a car sometimes (which doesn’t necessarily entail buying a new bicycle or selling a car).
“If something is economically tenable, governmental compulsion is never required.”
What degree of regulation constitutes a compulsion? With a fossil carbon fuel sales tax, for example, my economic incentives have changed, but I would still have the freedom to drive when and where I wanted to, provided I have the resources to do it. The constraint on freedom of choice by limited available choice, including of ‘resources to do it’, may change shape but it is not invented wholly by government.
The market economy is 1. a signal processor – an information processor – a computer model of itself – that communicates information – information that is used to make decisions (which themselves communicate, or result in the communication of, information.
2. a learning algorithm that evolves to be more efficient in the rearrangement of resources to add realized value.
The economy extends far from money and goes all the way into decisions about what to think about. The entire ecosystem is part of the economy, but the economy in it’s entirety evolved out of the biosphere, via human biological and cultural evolution, the later depending on the former’s ability to produce a species that has the capability to have a complex culture, etc… The economy is in fact an ecosystem.
You must be aware of externalities?
If their is miscommunication (externalities), that can gum up the system.
What also about negotiating power? What happens when private businesses become so powerful that they are like corrupt governments themselves? What happens when businesses act to maintain a supply of cheap labor by exploiting people who have few options, in such a way as to maintain their impoverished state?
There are costs and benefits to any policy or design. We might eliminate externalities by privatizing all aspects of ‘the commons’. This may work in some cases, but in others the act of privatization may denude the value of the commons itself. The very existence of public goods has value. Human nature as it is now (maybe it could be different in some distant future?) would feel suffocated by being surrounded by privately owned parcels of air, privately owned plots of ocean water, privately owned sunsets and flocks of birds… the aesthetic and scientific components of the value of nature itself depends on it being natural.
Government regulation and policy also has a cost and benefit. The costs may be a tendency to corruption, as businesses themselves again try to become dictators… but that isn’t a necessary outcome. A well designed policy may be less vulnerable to corruption. An enlightened electorate would also help – of course, that too, has a cost, the cost of the resources (time and effort) taken for so many people to become enlightened – although there are additional benefits to that as well, just as geology can prosper from the demand for fossil fuels, and the demand that drives the mining of one substance can increase the supply of another. … Anyway, some government involvement might be a bad idea, some might be a good idea – I’m not going to write it all off one way or another.
Urban planning. Planning. Long-range planning. Planning by individuals. Group planning. There is a benefit and a cost to planning at any given level … Anyway, for more of that, see my comments at: see also my comments at: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-economist-has-no-clothes , http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=brother-can-you-spare-me-a-planet
(one of which has far more comments than the other but I’m not going to check which right now),
and 2 of my comments on August 27 here: http://climate.weather.com/blogs/9_16838.html
One cost of government involvement may be some loss of some freedoms, but we might gain some other freedoms, and anyway, our freedoms were never absolute, and cannot be so long as we interact with others, directly or indirectly (through environmental or property or social/economic effects), and even without that, the laws of nature… It’s costs and benefits.
Hank Roberts says
Try it yourself:
Ray Ladbury says
Charles, Methinks you are being WAY too kind. To equate the use of likelihood in science with postmodernism represents a level of scientific and epistemological illiteracy so profound that it surpasses the ridiculous.
Hank Roberts says
Uh, oh. Anyone know if this is from the telephone interview being misunderstood, or an actual claim from the paper in Science?
… Tad Pfeffer of the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, whose study was published in the journal Science, said in a telephone interview….
Previous projections of 20 feet or more of sea level rise by the end of the century do not seem to be supported by solid evidence, Pfeffer said.
This misunderstanding about the time required — not “this century” — for a sea level rise from melting both of the polar icecaps — had been, I thought, long since beaten down. But it’s back.
I wonder where it got into the story.
ReCaptcha: floats Canoe.
[Response: See the next post. – gavin]
Tom Stark says
Gavin, thank you very much indeed for your misbegotten response. I trust that you will allow me one final retort before I exit out from beneath these garish lights.
Gavin wrote: > You have the reflexive knee-jerk reaction that dictates that if a proposed solution to a problem is not to your liking, you automatically assume the problem can’t exist.
Actually, that’s not true — in your language, “that’s simply incorrect” (it’s also “not very interesting”). Ignoring your atrocious pleonasms, I neither assume that, nor do I believe it, and I’m not quite sure where you’re getting your misinformation. As I said once before, you will search my words in vain for a passage of mine that states these ideas you (mis)attribute to me.
Gavin wrote: > I spend no time on this blog discussing my political philosophy or preferred policy options (emphasis mine).
No time, Gavin? That’s a fairly remarkable statement. It sounds like Denial 101 to me (and I would know). It does, however, perhaps explain in part why you didn’t address any of my political points, anent, in particular, your wild notions concerning smoking, cholesterol, and the necessity of government intervention in those arenas. In response to your parting words to me: “The raven chides his own blackness.”
[Response: Well, I must grant you amazing powers of mind-reading because, a) I did not write that post, b) calling out Heartland as a purveyors of spin and disinformation is not a statement of political affiliation, more like one of mere observation. But if you think my politics are so transparent perhaps you’d care to guess when and for what party I voted for the last time I did? $10 amazon book token if you get it right. – gavin]
Secular Animist: You raise a good point, one I’ve thought much about. The Thomas Jefferson quote, for the record, was specifically made in context of the initiation of aggression against the individual, but you are absolutely correct that tort law is the proper way to deal with so-called externalities, like pollution: no person, company, or corporation may rightly poison another. Coal-fired power plants, however – and there is legal precedent for this – are not exactly a direct use force, and in criminal law the motive of the “aggressor” must obviously be taken into account, to say nothing of actual proof of wrongdoing, malicious intent, degree, and so forth. There’s a fine article about that here, if you’re at all interested.
Ladbury: I thank you for your hostile and uncivilized tone-of-voice. It tells me much about you. Clearly, you’re a man of great delicacy and refinement. Indeed, you are correct: ideology does not trump reality, as you sagely say, and pretty much everything in your comment 127 is true (especially your charming parenthetical) — insofar, that is, as anything can be true (and there does seem to be some real question about that, as Gavin will be the first to tell you). So it’s nice that we agree, although considering the source I’m afraid I can only be so complimented. I have, for the record, noted in the past, both here and elsewhere, that a number of your comments reference “those of us who actually work in science.” I’ve wondered — and perhaps you can answer this now — are you referring to your job as a particle physicist, or are you referring to your full-time job of commenting on AGW blogs, without which your life would evidently not be complete? Many of us, not just me but people with whom you work, have indeed noticed your inordinate preoccupation, and I think, Sir, with all due respect, you would do well to remember that a secret is no longer a secret when more than one person knows about it. Now, then, in response to your stern admonishment to me — READ — would you believe me if I told you that I’m not only familiar with Helen Quinn’s well-written article, but (unlike Gavin) I agree with most of it? One thing only do I significantly disagree with her on, and that is her fatuous claim that knowledge is not, as she says, “very different from a belief” — i.e. faith, which is a connection she herself makes. That’s obviously preposterous. I’ve written a good deal about this same subject myself.
Charles, you started off courteous and seemed likewise receptive to courtesy, and I was frankly disheartened by the sour note you ended on. I do, however, want you to know that the initial kindness you’ve shown me, and which Mr. Ladbury chides you for, did not go unnoticed or unappreciated, and let me also be the first to congratulate you on your 200-level philosophy credentials! That’s awesome. Please, though, before scoring me too low on my thesis, have a quick look (Ladbury: you too, since this notion, in another of your unconvincing overstatements, “surpasses ridiculousness” READ) at this closely reasoned book, as well as Dr. Stephen Hicks excellent book on this same subject, reviewed smartly here, and of course physicist David Harriman’s The Philosophic Corruption of Physics. As far as your use of the word “quaintly” is concerned, Charles, I honestly don’t know; but “amusing” … well, for that I thank you, wish you life.
Jim Eager: You’re right: I was over-eager; and in many ways, that’s the story of my life. I do apologize to you. I will, as you politely suggest, make every effort to “deal with it.” Thank you. Keep me in line, would you?
And thank you, Patrick, for your fine comments. I liked them. They were smart. Thank you also for clicking through some of my links. In answer to your question – What degree of regulation constitutes a compulsion? – any degree, provided it infringes upon the property or person of the individual. Fundamentally, freedom is one thing: the absence of coercion. This means of any kind, to any degree. Incidentally, those quotes were not taken out-of-context; on the contrary, you may easily verify them yourself, for I’ve cited the sources inside the text. But more significantly than that, I promise you that those quotes I’ve listed are only a tiny, tiny sampling: over the years, I’ve collected reams of such environmentalist quotations, and there’s no doubt that environmentalism is infected with a deep strain of neo-Marxist ideology, with an icepick at the core.
Patrick wrote: > Um, the idea is not to replace 1 pencil with 1 bicycle.
I agree. And that’s precisely why I didn’t say it was.
Back to you, Charles, because you said it best: Take it elsewhere!
My only regret: I’m not part of all these high-fives.
Chris Colose says
as a wild shot…
John Kerry in Kerry vs. Bush??
[Response: No. But that wasn’t really a call out for all and sundry to suddenly discuss my politics (so no more guesses please). My point is simply to point out that acknowledging the reality and danger of future human-driven climate change does not define a political program. – gavin]
Patrick 027 says
Re 136 – (just to continue the out-of-place discussion two minutes longer and then I’m done) –
We likely vehemently disagree on some things but thank you for your politeness and acknowledgement at least to me.
It may cost (in totality) too much to correct some externalities, but some are grave enough and have effective enough solutions to justify their correction. And such an externality, I think, could also be considered coercive and limiting to freedom, as can lack of some planning, etc, – by limiting our options. One might argue here that two wrongs do not make a right (although three rights do make a left!), but I don’t see it in general as being right or wrong without considering what the consequences would be.
Long term planning is, I think, more efficient than a hoard of time-travelling trial lawyers (that’s meant in humor, not insult) (of course, smart people should be aware of the future legal liabilities they may take on by their current actions, but they may have no way to pay by that time, and in the case of global warming, …)
I don’t mean to suggest that we should give up freedoms lightly, but that by overzealously guarding some of them, in some cases we lose out in the long run (the very act of supporting a government that defends our rights requires limiting our rights to the limits imposed by the respect of others’ rights – and it’s not quite exactly as if each of us individually freely chose ‘to sign the social contract’). While the same argument could be used to justify warrantless wiretapping (to keep our country and thus our freedoms safe), there are differences between that and a carbon tax, so it’s not necessarily the case that the values which would justify one would justify the other.
(emissions tax revenue could be used for some combination of the following – targeted incentives to efficiency measures that are particularly slow to react to market pressures (buildings and durable goods, cars), energy and efficiency tech R&D and incentives, equal per capita refund, replace revenue lost by a cut in some other taxes, pay for climate change adaptation costs * (including crop R&D, net property value loss compensation – but careful not to simply encourage people to stay in harm’s way or farm in an inefficient manner, the policy must be structured so as to help people adapt and pay for the cost of adapting, not to pay for the loss incurred by not adapting). I would now mention a website where I had some comments about how to deal with the international aspect of this issue (I’m well aware of China and India, etc.), but I can’t find the website anymore.
Tom Stark, 136
“…and there’s no doubt that environmentalism is infected with a deep strain of neo-Marxist ideology, with an icepick at the core.”
Huh ? Is that wishful thinking to provide a grip for opposition ? Or just a fantasy you enjoy ? I find it a bizarre conclusion. My own environmentalism comes from reading as much as I could about ecology, which I always understood to be a branch of biology, no ?
It probably derives from reading The Natural History of Selbourne, as a small child, with strong influences from guys like Aldo Leopold along the way. I find the attempted smear rather insulting, Tom Stark. Perhaps that’s what you intended.
Hank Roberts says
“… economics and ecology are now in the process of being combined into ecological economics….
“… I might like to rob banks, but I am unwilling to allow other citizens to do so. So most of us, acting together, pass laws that infringe on the individual’s freedom to rob banks. … think of what is happening to the freedom to make withdrawals from the oceanic bank of fishes….”
“… Numeracy demands that we take account of the exponential growth of living systems, while acknowledging that resources, when thoroughly understood, will prove to be definable by numbers that are relatively constant…. –for example, the laws of thermodynamics ….
To judge from the critical literature, the weightiest mistake in my synthesizing paper was the omission of the modifying adjective ‘unmanaged.'”
Patrick 027 says
Re 139, 140 – nice job.
I should have thought to mention Teddy Roosevelt, Gaylord Nelson, and John Muir – although I am not as familiar with the last one. But for that matter, RFK Jr., Al Gore, and K.T. Tunstall – I’m quite sure they are not death-cult socia lists.
A brief note on nature, evolution, humanity:
Earlier I mentioned the value of nature, as if apart from human activity and significant influence, yet I also mentioned how the human economy, along with everything else human, evolved from and is a part of the biosphere (except when we go into space, although maybe we could be acting like potentially interplanetary spores in that case?).
In support of free market capitalism, some (such as Michael Shermer) will point out how functional complex systems emerge from biological evolution – although Michael Shermer himself points out a distincting (one just happens, the other is managed by protection of property rights and that kind of thing*) – still there is a good analogy to be made there (other distinctions of course – are there predator-prey relationships in the economy? Hmmm…)
First, though, evolution does not work for some purpose but for itself and whatever it produces. The economy could be the same way if we let it, but we might want to treat it as a tool we use to benifit ourselves. And in some cases we might find the hammer and nail of free market capitalism not to be the right tool for the job…
What would justify that? Well, our moral values of course (to which there is an economics of morality – the moral value costs and benifits, which can include how a decision shapes the moral costs and benifits of other people’s choices (both in what the options are and what they do) – the estimated moral weight of a decision being a good guide to the resources that ought to be devoted to coming up with a good approximation to the right answer, etc… just as in economics.) . Aside from that, what about the natural flow of unregulated phenomena? But, in a restrictive sense of what the economy is, it is not in a vaccuum; in a broader sense, it includes the government and human culture, etc. Regulation spontaneously arose out of human behavior. Everything we’ve done (good or bad) is natural. AGW is natural (in so far as humans are natural) – perhaps even a climate biological feedback. If we choose ‘business as usual’, that would be natural, but it would be just as natural to mitigate climate change, if it turned out that that’s what we end up doing. As with evolution, the economy will work either way – extinctions, adaptations, and all… Bottom line – trying to be natural in the deepest sense of the word doesn’t tell us what to do.
Going way off on a tangent here, but I’ve wondered what ‘we’ might do 50,000 – 100,000 years from now – would we let the next ‘natural’ ice age begin or ‘fight’ it? It would certainly be interesting for scientists to live through such a thing…
Well enough of that (someone might tell us to take it elsewhere) – I’m thinking of inviting people who would like to continue on these topics to ‘join me’ at http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-economist-has-no-clothes – joining me in the sense that I have comments there, but I wouldn’t necessarily have the time to participate further for awhile.
I’ve been dwelling more than I should, upon Tom Starks remark.
Strikes me as equivalent to saying that people who were concerned about the Jewish Holocaust, were suffering from infection by humanitarian ideology. I’m an environmentalist because I care.
I frequent this blog because it’s the best place I’ve found to help me understand what is happening to the climate and what the likely results will be. Sometimes the implications are rather traumatic to consider and hard to come to terms with. But I’d rather face the bleak truth than comforting lies. And it’s got damn all to do with ideology.
Fortunately, I’m not completely alone. This guy says:
“As I travelled on my journey of investigation into the Problematique and the likely outcome, I realized I was going through the five stages of grieving as defined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. In a semi-satirical article about Peak Oil I defined the stages as follows:
* Denial (This isn’t happening to me!) – “Those Peak Oil/Global Warming bozos are a bunch of alarmist idiots. Ignore their ravings, everything’s just fine!”
* Anger (Why is this happening to me?) – “Those bastard Arabs are selling our oil to our enemies and using the proceeds to attack us. Let’s get ’em, boys!”
* Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if…) – “I’ve put in compact fluorescents, switched to biodiesel and I bought a bike! That will help, right?”
* Depression (I don’t care anymore) – “Crap, the scale of the problem and the intransigence of human behaviour mean we’re screwed after all. Pass the bong.”
* Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes) – “The nature of complex adaptive systems and Resilience Theory means were not all screwed, just most of us. I’m probably screwed, but my legacy will be to put in place what I can to help those who do survive.”
David B. Benson says
Off-topic, but a reminder that the southern hemisphere is not escaping more extreme weather, either:
“MAJOR FLOODING IN SOUTHERN CHILE”
Mike Wara says
Regarding the Lunt paper, while the contribution on the response of ice sheets to CO2 forcing is quite instructive, it’s worth noting that (1) there is real debate about the timing of Isthmus Closure, hence its relationship to initiation of N. Hemisphere Glaciation and (2) Our paper, cited as the source of the Perennial El Nino caused glaciation theory by Lunt, actually says that the timing of glaciation and the switch from low-gradient to high-gradient conditions in the equatorial Pacific are very different. The record from the tropical Pacific looks much more like a non-linear system being pushed across a threshold by a gradually cooling planet (think CO2/global boundary conditions here). We make this point in the paper. So there isn’t as much of a debate as Lunt would like there to be on these issues.
54 – Lynn, Global Warming has a monster to put on a poster. His name is, appropriately, GW Bush, and his face is perfect for the task. There’s even a ready-made slogan. Alfred E Neuman II says, “What, me worry?” As to hundreds of thousands of years of death, no way. Those who die of will die off pdq. Lovelock is the best source on this one. Lots of us will die, the rest will head to the poles, and life goes on after the slaughter. The third world poor will die off and the archipelagos and coasts at the poles will be populated by those brilliant enough to drive global warming via converting carbon into cash.
59 – John, where have you been the last 8 years? Democracy is an easy concept. When the whole free world votes one way, the US simply tosses them the finger. GW said it best, “If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.” Do you believe that the US SHOULD be the dictator of the world? Climate change is a global issue. Shouldn’t the entire (free?) world be in the driver’s seat?
68 – Rod, Natural gas is either current or fossil. India’s villages use natural gas made in digesters. Japan captures cattle exhaust. The US taps landfills. Pelosi’s comment was just speaking of fossil natural gas being a better alternative than oil and coal (not completely true – natural gas leaks!), but the future of natural gas is non-fossil. Besides, it’s natural to think of the corpse (fossil) being the solid or liquid thing on the ground, even though the smell coming off it is also fossil.
81 Chuck, your fusion is 20 years away comment reminds me of solar PV. Proponents always say it will “halve in price every 3-5 years”, yet for the last 20 years or so PV has cost $5 a watt.
Gavin: I don’t understand why the moderators allow so much through. Perhaps put the poster’s name and [edited out, please repost appropriately and on-topic] or whatever to mark the deleted comment. It’s hard to not respond, so you end up with threads getting bloated with not just garbage, but responses to the garbage.
Speaking of off-topic, just as we got into methane lifetimes in the atmosphere, the thread was closed. Thanks for the info on 10x concentration -> double lifetime – I’ve been looking for the relationship for a long time (I didn’t trust the single source I got the initial bit from) My guess used to be that OH scavenging on CH4 would leave less OH for other scavenging. If CH4 is typical in GHG power of OH scavenged molecules, then it would all come out in the wash, and the false linear relationship would still work. How close is reality to that simple model? (Bet I get a “not very” answer)
Hank Roberts says
09/26/2008 Governor Schwarzenegger Highlights California’s Global Warming Accomplishments on Eve of AB 32 [2-year] Anniversary
Serious speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.
About arguments over who goes first — California did. Others are joining.
Governors (worldwide) climate summit in California in November: to form a broad international alliance so when the Kyoto negotiators start their work in December they will have our summit as a framework.
“We know that Washington is asleep at the wheel. We cannot look for leadership there,” … “We are not waiting for the federal government.”
Hank Roberts says
Gas hydrate observation:
“Gulf of Mexico Gas Hydrates Seafloor Observatory Project
LOTS of pictures, fascinating stuff.
Hank Roberts says
Good news on the Antarctic education front:
“truth showing” says ReCaptcha