Why the decision to tackle global warming isn’t simple

by Judith Curry

A June 22, 2010 article in the New Republic provides one of the most sensible analysis of global warming policy that I’ve seen (h/t Roger Caizza).  It is particularly relevant in light of the current negotiations at Durban

The article is entitled “Why the decision to tackle global warming isn’t as simple as Al Gore says.”  The entire article is well worth reading, some excerpts are provided here:

But of course, several percent of global GDP is a lot of dough, and avoiding such costs would justify extensive mitigation efforts. What would the conventional proposals, such as a global carbon tax or cap-and trade scheme, cost?

William Nordhaus, who heads the widely respected environmental-economics-modeling group at Yale, estimates (page 84) the total expected net benefit of an optimally designed, implemented, and enforced global program to be equal to the present value of about 0.2 percent of future global economic consumption (and this would not come close to limiting total accumulation to 450 ppm). In the real world of domestic politics and geostrategic competition, it is not realistic to expect that we would ever have an optimally designed, implemented, and enforced global system, and the side deals made to put in place even an imperfect system would likely have costs that would dwarf 0.2 percent of global economic consumption. Look at what was required to not pass the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade program, in a wealthy and reasonably democratic country, to get some idea of the kind of deals that would have to be cut. And then you’d have to enforce it throughout developing economies for literally centuries.

The expected economic benefits of emissions mitigation do not cover its realistically expected costs.

The most consequential objection to this line of reasoning is that the risk of worse-than-expected damages is so severe that it justifies almost any cost. In this light, we would be buying an insurance policy (metaphorically speaking) by implementing the kind of emissions mitigation programs that Gore and others advocate. Gore, however, doesn’t get to this argument, because he has relied on listing bad things that he says will happen as a result of climate change, and claiming that it’s therefore obvious what we should do. But for the reasons I’ve tried to explain, I think this misses the most important aspect of the issue, which is the depth of our uncertainty.

Paul Krugman, in a very useful article in the New York Times Magazine in April, does put forward the problem of uncertainty in this context.

Krugman is correct, in my view, that: (i) a simple comparison of expected costs to expected benefits over the next century is an inadequate consideration of the economic trade-offs involved, (ii) uncertainty is central to the real decision logic, and (iii) increasing uncertainty in our forecasts strengthens the case for action.

The starting point for such a consideration is to recognize that we are not certain how much CO2 humanity will emit, how much warming a given amount of CO2 will cause, or how much damage a given amount of warming will cause.  That is, we are concerned here with the inherently unquantifiable possibility that our probability distribution itself is wrong.

The stronger form of the argument based upon uncertainty is not only that it is possible that the true probability distribution of potential levels of warming is actually much worse than believed by the IPCC, but that a reasonable observer should accept it as likely that this is the case. As Krugman indicates, the sophisticated version of this argument has been presented by Weitzman. Weitzman’s reasoning on this topic is subtle and technically ingenious. In my view, it is the strongest existing argument for a global regime of emission mitigation. (You can see a slightly earlier version of his paper, and my lengthy response here, along with links to the underlying source documents.) In very short form, Weitzman’s central claim is that the probability distribution of potential losses from global warming is “fat-tailed,” or includes high enough odds of very large amounts of warming (20°C or more) to justify taking expensive action now to avoid these low probability/high severity risks.

The only real argument for rapid, aggressive emissions abatement, then, boils down to the weaker form of the uncertainty argument: that you can’t prove a negative.   The problem with using this rationale to justify large economic costs can be illustrated by trying to find a non-arbitrary stopping condition for emissions limitations. You must make some decision about what level of risk is acceptable versus the costs of avoiding this risk. Once we leave the world of odds and handicapping and enter the world of the Precautionary Principle—the Pascal’s Wager-like argument that the downside risks of climate change are so severe that we should bear almost any cost to avoid this risk, no matter how small—there is really no principled stopping point derivable from our understanding of this threat.

So then, how should we confront this lack of certainty in our decision logic? At some intuitive level, it is clear that rational doubt about our probability distribution of forecasts for climate change over a century should be greater than our doubt our forecasts for whether we will get very close to 500 heads if we flip a fair quarter 1,000 times. This is true uncertainty, rather than mere risk, and ought to be incorporated into our decision somehow. 

In the face of massive uncertainty, hedging your bets and keeping your options open is almost always the right strategy. Money and technology are our raw materials for options. A healthy society is constantly scanning the horizon for threats and developing contingency plans to meet them, but the loss of economic and technological development that would be required to eliminate all theorized climate change risk (or all risk from genetic technologies or, for that matter, all risk from killer asteroids) would cripple our ability to deal with virtually every other foreseeable and unforeseeable risk, not to mention our ability to lead productive and interesting lives in the meantime.

So what should we do about the real danger of global warming? In my view, we should be funding investments in technology that would provide us with response options in the event that we are currently radically underestimating the impacts of global warming.  In the event that we discover at some point decades in the future that warming is far worse than currently anticipated, which would you rather have at that point: the marginal reduction in emissions that would have resulted up to that point from any realistic global mitigation program, or having available the product of a decades-long technology project to develop tools to ameliorate the problem as we then understand it?

The best course of action with regard to this specific problem is rationally debatable, but at the level of strategy, we can be confident that humanity will face many difficulties in the upcoming century, as it has in every century. We just don’t know which ones they will be. This implies that the correct grand strategy for meeting them is to maximize total technical capabilities in the context of a market-oriented economy that can integrate highly unstructured information, and, most important, to maintain a democratic political culture that can face facts and respond to threats as they develop.

Al Gore presents himself in this article as a bringer of incontrovertible scientific certainty that we must heed in order to save ourselves. He puts forward as an obvious implication of these scientific findings that we must radically reduce the use of fossil fuels right now, or face an inevitable calamity. He claims that all that stands in the way of this happening is nefarious oil companies manipulating a gullible American electorate into opposing a course of action that is clearly in the public interest.

In fact, it is the uncertainties in our understanding that are the most compelling driver of rational action. And a massive carbon tax or a cap-and-trade rationing system would likely cost more than the damages it would prevent. Either would be an impractical, panicky reaction that would be both more expensive and less effective than targeted technology development in the event that we ever have to confront the actual danger: the very small but real chance of much worse than expected damages from greenhouse gases.

JC comments: +10

449 responses to “Why the decision to tackle global warming isn’t simple

  1. If humankind’s fingerprint only accounts for something like 5% of climate change, just exactly what is possible to control the other 95%? And if it were possible, should we interfere to prevent the natural cycle of renewal?

    • Actually all of co2 both MM or natural accounts for less than 5% of GH impact. Which gets to the fraud relating to residence time fraud and “compounding” human inputs in the green AGW narrative.

      • CO2 alone contributes about 20% of the greenhouse effect

        Also CO2 is the one rising here and water vapor is being pulled up by the warming.

        There is no “residence time fraud”

      • You have no idea of how much is AGW and how much is due to natural causes. The CAGW evengelists attempt to ignore and rewrite history because you cannot explain any of the dramatic climate changes in the last 10K years. You point at computer models that you program to give the answer you desire and wonder why we consider you to be scam artists when you plead your case for funding

      • Like when they ignore water as a GHG? Or claim co2 is resident for “thousand of years”??

        That isn’t fraud lolwot??

      • “they” don’t ignore water vapor as a GHG neither do they claim CO2 is resident for thousands of years

      • Jim I am talking about how much CO2 contributes to the greenhouse effect, not how much of recent warming is AGW and how much is natural.

        You are right I have no idea how much is AGW, but from the evidence I suspect a lot of it is.

        I don’t know what dramatic climate changes you are thinking of in the last 10K years, but from experience let me try pre-empt where I think you might be coming from: the GISP2 ice core is not a *global* temperature record.

      • Do you have a study for us to validate the 20%

      • Al Gore or Gavin Schmidt told him so.

        What more could you ask for?

      • A tiny eco-left fringe government employee hack with chart functions= gavin schmidt.

        Always consider the source. It’s an op-ed dressed as a science article, time you learned the difference lolwot.

      • It’s a published paper cwon

      • lolwot…

        ["CO2 alone contributes about 20% of the greenhouse effect."]
        .
        lolwot, instead of spouting computer-model produced dogma, just have a think about your statement above.

        Do you really believe that CO2 contributes CO2 alone contributes about 6.6 deg C of the 33 C greenhouse effect?

        The global temperature has risen about 0.9 deg C in the last 161 years. At the same time, but not necessarily causing, the CO2 has increased by about 40%.

        Your statement means that, according to you (and Gavin et al), the contribution of CO2 in 1850 was 20% of 32.1 deg C. That is, 6.42 C.

        This means that, according to you, an increase of 40% CO2 has ’caused’ an increase in GE of 0.18 C.

        WOW!

        If you’re going to throw those big percentages around, you’re going to have to explain why the observed data does not support your statement. The 20% figure is a WAG based on
        a, a bunch of models (GIGO)
        b, the unproven assumption that a trace gas has the ability to significantly alter the GE.

        But, hey, never let the truth stand in the way of a good story…

      • “Do you really believe that CO2 contributes CO2 alone contributes about 6.6 deg C of the 33 C greenhouse effect?”

        The 20% figure is the proportion of infrared absorption in the atmosphere attributable to CO2.

        In terms of temperature it’s more complicated. Gavin noted: “In model experiments where all the trace greenhouse gases are removed the planet cools to a near-Snowball Earth, some 35°C cooler than today, as water vapor levels decrease to 10% of current values, and planetary reflectivity increases (because of snow and clouds) to further cool the planet.”

      • 1. So how does the 20% of infrared absorption equate to heat? After all, the climate change ‘catastrophe’ is based on the postulated warming due to increased CO2, not radiation levels. At some point, you have to equate the radiation numbers to deg C. And 20% of 33 C is 6.6 C.

        2. ["In terms of temperature it’s more complicated..."] That is not an answer. More dependance on models is not the same as providing real evidence to support your claim.

        At some point you are going to have to explain why you (and Gavin) think that 0.028% of the atmosphere can produce a very significant portion of the GE whereas the addition of a further 0.011% of the same gas can produce a relatively tiny increase in GE in terms of temperature.

        The 20% estimate (because that is what it is) is a ludicrous attempt at over-selling the fanciful notion that CO2 can have a significant affect on the global temperature. You and Gavin should both revisit the ‘theory’.

      • At some point you are going to have to explain why you (and Gavin) think that 0.028% of the atmosphere can produce a very significant portion of the GE whereas the addition of a further 0.011% of the same gas can produce a relatively tiny increase in GE in terms of temperature.

        You are either naive or aggressively misleading. The correct way to think about the problem is not 0.028% as a small number, but many of these values stacked on top of each other like panes of almost transparent glass. If each pane has a small factor associated with it, then the accumulated stack can generate a substantial fraction. Certainly, you must understand the optics of such a system.

        Otherwise, it’s just another one of those stupid un-scientific arguments that gets raised.

      • WHT,

        That is a laughable excuse for a post. You can’t explain your so-called ‘science’ so you resort to lame semi-analogies. Either put up or shut up. Only 0.04% of the atmosphere has the ability to absorb and re-emit radiation in the wavelengths relevant to the cAGW debate. In 1850, it was 0.028%. lolwot claimed CO (alone) was responsible for 20% of the GE. The GE is 33 deg C. Go figure.
        .
        You warmists like to chuck figures around because it makes you feel big. When you’re called out on them, you resort to sanctimonious snark, instead of giving evidence for the figures in the first place. Its pathetic.

      • ArFur, You really take the cake. I don’t think you have any experience with physics at all, and you obviously have no idea what a scattering cross-section is. It’s easy for some of us to pick this stuff up because some of us have vast experience in experimental physics (electron, x-ray, optical scattering, device physics, etc).

        From the spectral absorption plots, one can see the CO2 removing a band of infrared radiation. This is from the Planck black-body spectrum and the removed energy is proportional to the integral in this frequency band. That’s experimentally how you can tell what fraction CO2 plays.

        When you said “put up or shut up”, do you want me to work out the cross-section integration analysis as well? Sometimes it’s better if you work it out yourself. If you need help, there are plenty of resources available.

      • WHT,

        Again, you try to avoid the problem for you and the other warmists by not answering the question.

        When challenged about CO2 being responsible for warming, you resort to talk about radiation. Don’t you understand what the ‘W’ stands for in AGW?

        No-one ‘denies’ the ability of CO2 to absorb and re-emit radiation. I certainly don’t. The problem comes when you (warmists) try to equate that capability to the ‘significant warming’ of the atmosphere. If you are so well versed in physics, you should know that radiation IS NOT HEAT.

        Then, you (warmists) make utterly ridiculous claims such as “CO2 is responsible for 20% of the GE” but then fail to explain why a large percentage increase in said CO2 fails to be responsible for a corresponding increase in global ‘warming’.

        Stop trying to deflect the discussion away from this basic concept, which started with lolwot’s statement. If 280 ppmbv is responsible for 20% of the GE in 1850, why isn’t 395 ppmbv making a much greater impact on global temperature in 2011?

        And stop trying to appeal to some vague notion of ‘scientific authority’. I don’t have to be a ‘scientist’ to understand logic and data. You (warmists) have come up with a ‘theory’ based on the musings of Arrhenius and perpetuated by so-called ‘climate scientists’ with the blessing of politicians who can actually see some political mileage in making Joe Public scared about a trace gas which is essential for life on this planet.
        .
        If you had some evidence to show me, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. If the data supported your theory, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Being ‘sceptical’ about cAGW is NOT the same as either ‘not knowing’ or “not believing’ science. Its about asking questions which are pertinent and sensible. If you can’t answer the questions, then maybe you should do the ‘scientific’ thing and honestly re-visit the theory.

      • If you are so well versed in physics, you should know that radiation IS NOT HEAT.

        I know where this is headed. The Skydragon religion claims another convert, err, I mean victim. How sad for you, ArFur.

      • It’s wrong cwon. Those graphs shown are atmospheric lifetime, not residence time. If you don’t know the difference I recommend you look it up. I think the subject was covered on this blog.

      • “The 20% figure is the proportion of infrared absorption in the atmosphere attributable to CO2.”

        So you’ve taken one number, infrared absorption, and used it as a substitute for a different one, global warming. At best you’re ignorant that these aren’t the same thing. At worse, you know they are different and you are intentionally trying to claim “proof” by using substitute numbers that you know measure a different effect.

      • “It’s wrong cwon. Those graphs shown are atmospheric lifetime, not residence time. If you don’t know the difference I recommend you look it up. I think the subject was covered on this blog.”

        More pixie dust lolwot? The point is the IPCC/UN/Gorist/Real Climate cabal are the outliers and they have a specific deceptive purpose. Exaggerate the residence of human co2 to make the bogus concept of co2 accumulation, with an undefined sink to boot. Simple minded science for a simple minded eco-green mob to consume and spread.

        There is no consensus on how much of the current co2 level is human generated. It’s like a string theory consensus, use all the calculus you want. It’s imaginary data but the IPCC is an outlier on estimates.

      • They are not an outlier. The graph is about a dozen estimates of atmospheric lifetime and the IPCC estimate of residence time. Comparing apples with oranges.

      • Freeman Dyson explains the difference here.

        “But one of our disagreements is a matter of arithmetic and not a matter of opinion. He says that the residence time of a molecule of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about a century, and I say it is about twelve years.

        This discrepancy is easy to resolve. We are talking about different meanings of residence time. I am talking about residence without replacement. My residence time is the time that an average carbon dioxide molecule stays in the atmosphere before being absorbed by a plant. He is talking about residence with replacement. His residence time is the average time that a carbon dioxide molecule and its replacements stay in the atmosphere when, as usually happens, a molecule that is absorbed is replaced by another molecule emitted from another plant. “

        The short terms are the time that CO2 would stay in the atmosphere if the processes by which molecules are exchanged held them permanently. But they don’t. Photosynthesis is necessarily followed by respiration. Solution in the sea is two-way., Taking account of that is resp[onsible for the longer estimates.

        It’s like mistaking turnover for profit. They aren’t the same.

      • But Nick, observed data does not support the concept of longer residence time.

        According to the IPCC, anthropogenic emissions began to ‘markedly increase’ atmospheric concentrations of CO2 in 1750. This means that CO2 has had over 250 years to show a ‘residual’ effect. It also means that every year after that the CO2 ‘effect’ should be increasing. And yet the global temperature rise has stalled for nearly 14 years at a time when it should be accelerating.

        This fact alone invalidates the ‘residence time’ concept.

        To use your analogy, the ‘company’ has had 14 years of non-profit when its turnover should have been increasing rapidly without any further investment! No?

        Now you can put the lack of further warming down to ‘natural factors/feedbacks’ etc but the fact remains that these factors are strong enough to not only counter the supposed warming due to CO2, but also the extra warming due to ‘residual CO2 effect’!

        Regards,

      • Wow, Dyson essentially admitted he was wrong about his interpretation of residence time but then tried to cover his tracks by saying that he was intending to apply the concept to some special “carbon-eating” organisms that would replace the ineffective carbon cycle. The carbon cycle would keep replenishing the residence time but only this special organism would sequester the carbon permanently. Unfortunately this thing he is talking about doesn’t exist, and would take some wondrous bio-engineering to create..

        Dyson is a smart fellow and probably truly understands what is happening but it’s possible his ego won’t allow him to be shown incorrect about an idea this fundamental. So he did the best he could by concocting this rationale.

        As usual, the skeptical side has no competitive theories, and they are simply stonewalling, and trying to bide time.

        And I have no idea what ArFur is going on about.
        Residence time is short and unimportant, while adjustment time is long and the reason for our current CO2 concentrations.

      • Web, why do you say that? About 12 years is about about right. The Atmospheric lifetime is the long one for the overall level to decline. “Carbon Eater” trees would be fast maturing, about 12 years or less, used for sequestration of carbon to offset and to a point mitigate CO2 production. Though, “carbon eating” algae is more likely, naturally or farmed.

      • No one seems to understand adjustment time apart from the few people that have worked out the problem from first principles. Dyson is talking about some carbon eating organism that doesn’t decompose. The minute it decomposes, the carbon is back in play.

        Natural sequestering is the carbon diffusing to deep locations where it can’t re-emerge easily. Diffusion is a slow process and that is why the tails on the adjustment time are so long.

        I don’t expect the layman to understand why the tail is the reciprocal of the square root of time, but that is what I get when I work it out. Dyson obviously understands the principles of diffusion otherwise he wouldn’t be back-pedaling.

      • Nick and Web,

        With an undefined sink, no correlation to real world co2 or temp measures residence hype from warmists and G. Schmidt in particular are pathetic. In a sense it’s Enron accounting for adding human co2 by recycling human inputs by every possible way to keep the story going. “Aggregate plant co2 respiration of human produced co2″? Another pinhead accounting idea.

        We have lousy co2 counts as they are, shaky proxy estimates and poor explainations of historic variance. All typical areas to convolute the agw narrative further. “Adjustment time = just making it up as we go” and a another null hypothesis. CO2 might be increasing for reasons exclusive of human input as they have many times in the past. They could well be following natural warming trends for example.

      • cwon14 has absolutely no feel for the physics of anything and just rambles on with empty phrases to try to capture some poor sod’s imagination. It’s really quite pathetic seeing him get more and more incoherent when somebody that knows what they are talking about comes along.

      • @Arfur Bryant And yet the global temperature rise has stalled for nearly 14 years at a time when it should be accelerating.

        The reason AB is able to claim this is because he’s using not just one but two tricks.

        1. Hide the steady upward rise in temperature by masking it with the enormous monthly variations.

        2. Only show temperature after 2000.

        Using the latest temperature data from BEST, applying these two tricks gives the graph that everyone by now has seen in the papers in the past two months, and which has led Berkeley’s Professor Richard Muller to say that we can’t tell from the data whether there’s any sign of rising temperature. This message has sunk in with the American public.

        Clearly this graph proves AB’s claim.

        But as we all know, the huge monthly fluctuations have no bearing on what the global temperature will be in 2020, or 2030, or beyond. They have been huge for thousands, millions, even billions of years. Their hugeness has nothing to do with humans.

        If we remove the monthly fluctuations by adding “mean:12″ to the above, which limits the fluctuations to annual variations, and if furthermore we step back so as to see more of the context, we get this totally different picture of this decade.

        I was sitting next to Sebastian Thrun at lunch recently and wanted to point out to him the impact of the 1991 Pinatubo eruption on the second graph above. But before I could say a word about it he said “that’s wrong, it should be flat throughout the past decade.”

        Presumably he said that because he’d only ever seen the first graph in the papers, never the second one. (Muller’s message would appear to have sunk in even with Stanford faculty!)

        So I handed Sebastian my laptop and let him play around with WoodForTrees.org until he’d convinced himself that the second graph was not simply lying through its teeth.

        The take-home message here is that one can use WoodForTrees.org to prove anything you want. If you want to prove the temperature is going nowhere, don’t look at anything more than a decade, and don’t smooth the data at all.

        But if you want to know what this decade implies for the decade 2010-2020, this is impossible without taking into account at least the decade 1990-2000. And if you look back even further you will see a regularity that makes very clear what we can expect for 2010-2020.

        Any school child who’s seen time series before can easily extrapolate the second graph at least one more decade, and very likely several. If Arfur Bryant disagrees, he should show us how he would extrapolate the second graph. If it comes out differently from how a fifth-grader would extrapolate it, this would show that he’s smarter than a fifth-grader. Or at least different.

      • But if you want to know what this decade implies for the decade 2010-2020, this is impossible without taking into account at least the decade 1990-2000. And if you look back even further you will see a regularity that makes very clear what we can expect for 2010-2020.

        I see what you mean lots of penguins migrating north.

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/best/from:1970/mean:12/plot/hadsst2sh/from:1970/mean:12/plot/sidc-ssn/from:1970/mean:12/normalise

      • WHT:

        ["And I have no idea what ArFur is going on about.
        Residence time is short and unimportant, while adjustment time is long and the reason for our current CO2 concentrations."]

        Adjustment time? My argument stands. The CO2 which, according to the IPCC, started to ‘markedly increase’ in 1750 due to anthropogenic effects has now been ‘adjusting’ for over 260 years. Do you or do you not accept that some sign of that ‘adjustment’ effect should now be reflected in global temperature? In which case, why is the temperature rise not accelerating?

      • Vaughan Prat: But if you want to know what this decade implies for the decade 2010-2020, this is impossible without taking into account at least the decade 1990-2000. And if you look back even further you will see a regularity that makes very clear what we can expect for 2010-2020.

        It all depends on how you fit the data, and how seriously you interpret the fact that you can “see a regularity”. Some people see a regular fluctuation with a period of 60 years added to a linear trend. If you do the linear regression with the corresponding sine and straight line, you end up with a particular “linear smooth” that forecasts little warming for the next 2 decades. Since no one knows the reality (I claim this as a skeptic), no one knows which smoothing technique gives the correct forecast.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        You accuse me of ‘tricks’ and then you manipulate a nonsense BEST graph and present it as if it had some meaning in the real world.

        Nice of you to try to deflect the discussion away from the subject, but I’m not falling for your side-track tactics, Vaughan.

        If you have some salient comment about my response to Nick Stokes, please feel free to mention it.

        Cheers.

        ps, I agree with you that woodfortrees can be used to ‘prove’ anything you want – you have just amply demonstrated that!

      • A marked increase could happen but first it would have to reach a 1 PPM level to rise above the ~280 PPM background level.That only occurred around the year 1900. So we have had about 100 years to see the temperature increase, which to first order theory will be logarithmic with CO2 increase.

        Getting back to Nick Stokes point, Freeman Dyson understands all this so why not go ask him? Dyson is a skeptic after all.

      • Web, You and I both know that the CO2 Eater would have to long term sequester CO2. I am pretty sure that Dyson understands that. I would think that Dyson has read Callender’s and Manabe’s estimate of the impact of CO2 forcing, probably understands that there is more than radiant cooling involved at the surface. Even a genius can be a dumbass sometimes, but I don’t think this is his time.

        You read Callendar’s paper? You ever wonder why Manabe’s and Hansen’s estimates are so different? You ever wonder why the tropopause is so stable? Why the Antarctic is so stable? Why the “sensitivity” estimate is approaching Manabe’s and Callendar’s estimates?

        I don’t have a horse in this race, I just notice when theories need excuses someone probably is blowing smoke up someone’s ass.

        Oh, and that the truth is normally in the middle :)

      • WHT,

        It is surprising to see you dismiss the IPCC with such alacrity. Also surprising to see you dismiss 100 years of ‘adjustment time’ so easily. Its very strange that 100 years has not had any discernible effect on the global temperature, don’t you think? It being a cumulative effect and all that…

      • cwon14, the 5% figure includes all human caused forcings that both include and extend beyond GH impact.

      • Paul in Sweden

        When I traveled back to the USA this summer and picked up an Old Farmer’s Almanac I was surprised to find that the growing table had not changed. Can lolwot, Web or any of the other alarmists identify the vast areas of wasteland that are now warm enough for human habitation or agriculture in the polar latitudes?

      • Last time I looked, the Old Farmer’s Almanac was not a scientific publication and it is put together to sell units and make money for its owners. The art of writing a popular publication is to be as vague as possible so every prediction looks plausibly true after the event. Ambiguity is their forte, and why they also include astrology charts as I recall.

      • Paul in Sweden

        Web, just on the money issue alone I do not see how the difference from ‘Climate Science’. Seems that there is a whole heck of a lot of money being made by the writers, celebs, brokers, bankers, lawyers, private jet salesmen, booking agents on these green tours. The numbers are larger with ‘climate science’ but where is the difference?

        Then you really can’t be serious about publications as vague as possible so every prediction looks plausibly true after the event… OMG ‘Climate Science’ to a T. Drought, Flood, snow, no snow, etc, etc. Web, if it were raining three legged kangaroos we would likely see the ‘climate science’ reporters tell us that it was not inconsistent with climate model scenarios.

    • “Weitzman’s central claim is that the probability distribution of potential losses from global warming is “fat-tailed,” or includes high enough odds of very large amounts of warming (20°C or more)”

      The Paelo record says otherwise. The earth’s temperature has remained between 22C and 11C for the past 600 million years, with CO2 levels much higher than present for most of that time.

      Unlike the “bell shaped” probability curves that most climate scientists naively throw about, the probability distribution for earth’s temperature is Bimodal, composed of two peaks with a valley between. The larger peak is at 22C and the smaller peak is at 11C. Standard statistical methods do not apply. Wikipedia uses the term “deceptive”

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

      Bimodal distributions are a commonly-used example of how summary statistics such as the mean, median, and standard deviation can be deceptive when used on an arbitrary distribution.

      • Unlike the “bell shaped” probability curves that most climate scientists naively throw about, the probability distribution for earth’s temperature is Bimodal, composed of two peaks with a valley between. The larger peak is at 22C and the smaller peak is at 11C. Standard statistical methods do not apply. Wikipedia uses the term “deceptive”

        Where does bimodal idea come from?

        Here is one reconstruction that does not come close to a bimodal distribution

        This is one by Christopher Scotese which would definitely show the bimodal distribution you are talking about:

        Here is one over 65 million years, which is plenty good I would think:

        This is also not bimodal

      • The last reconstruction certainly is not bell shaped, it is nearly flat across the entire distribution. There is no central tendency at all. According to that reconstruction, over the past 65 million years the earth has shown no tendency towards an “average” temperature.

        The first reconstruction, over 4.6 billion years is a log scale. There is no tendency for an average temperature more common than any other. What it shows is that temperature is largely scale independent, and is most likely a fractal distribution.

        All three reconstructions show the earths temperature is most certainly not gaussian. There is no bell shaped curve. Most statistical theory does not apply. Climate Science has been misled by the assumption that there is an “average” temperature. None of the reconstructions show that.

        What the reconstructions show quite clearly is that the earth has no average temperature that has statistical meaning.

      • “What the reconstructions show quite clearly is that the earth has no average temperature that has statistical meaning.”

        That is a huge red herring and you know it. The climate of interest has nothing to do with a 400 million year history because we won’t detect geological or solar system effects on the scale of a hundred years.

        Everything has “statistical meaning” because statistics is basically the study of data. Your problem is that you lack the insight to give a set of data any practical statistical meaning.

  2. Dr. Curry is looking for reason in all the wrong places; Krugman???!!, New Republic??

    Pleeeeease!

    Dr. Curry remains stuck on the idea that little statism at the local levels is way better than big -time statism at the global level. It misses the point completely about AGW statye bank-rolled agenda science and the sad history.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/climategate-part-ii_610926.html?page=1

    • Well the interesting thing to me is that this article is in the new republic, not what I would expect anyways from the new republic. and the author is ultimately unconvinced by Krugman’s argument. So lets look at the argument itself, not the source of the argument.

      • Why should we accept a false (unproven) premise about AGW that is built into the basic framework of the article? As if the issue isn’t the false science but overly expansive mitigation plan? (Pathetic reasoning)

        That it’s reflective of political defeat of extreme AGW activism isn’t that surprising, it’s part of the incubator process of walking AGW back but preserving the basic lies about human CO2 and reducing (for a time) the sweeping claims but leaving enough around to be picked up in the future. “Global Warming” morfed into “Climate Change” and morfs again into “sustainability”. Different day, same eco-left talking point schemes.

        Trotsky vs. Stalin? There are still people on park benches in NYC that care to argue the point while most of the world moved on and realize what a false dynamic of a debate it ALWAYS WAS. Arguing different points of climate mitigation over a basically false science claim reminds of so much so many similar insular leftist narrative debates witnessed in exactly the sort of sources you asking me to ignore.

        The big chunks right up in my throat on a Monday morning.

        The eco-left will have to carry AGW stone around it’s neck for all of eternity. Instead of this prattle a massive recant on warming claims will be required but will never come from many of the usual suspects. Parsing mitigation and extreme claims (watering down) ands clinging (bitterly) to a reduced AGW agenda isn’t going to fly as a tactic. It’s disappointing you routinely support such efforts.

      • cwon14,

        I agree. A climbdown from AGW is possible, with some chanters thrown under the bus to appease the gods. A climbdown from the idealogy that begat AGW is a whole ‘nother matter. That pact is written in blood, I’m afraid. Not so easy to turn the clock back.

        Andrew

      • Yes, “saving the earth” sells. If it destroys individual rights and helps support totalitarian concepts you would hope the better educated elite could at least find the right side.

        Plenty to be discouraged by considering Dr. Curry’s posture.

      • Roger Caiazza

        Cwon4,
        Re: “Why should we accept a false (unproven) premise about AGW that is built into the basic framework of the article?”

        I will make the point that Roger Pielke, Jr. would probably make in response to that argument and accept all the flack that will result. From a policy standpoint the debate about AGW having an impact is over. I get as frustrated as many of the readers do that the message that the climate is warming since the Little Ice Age is conflated with CO2 is the cause and catastrophe will follow is out there but if you want to influence policy get over it.

        Instead the issue to focus on is that there is uncertainty and that should influence how disruptive the response should be. Personally, on the basis that action should recognize that there are potentially a wide range of possible outcomes I advocate identifying and implementing “no regrets” actions in the hopes that will provide the political appearance of doing something for AGW that will mollify the eco-left without destroying my life style.

      • Why pander to lies at all? It’s exactly that attitude that helped Eco-science grow inside academia and become a monster that it is today.

        Full disclosure, trials and convictions are the root that should discussed for the core drivers of “climate science”. On the margin there are actually dead people due to the lower growth rates the AGW movement has created. You and I might have our lifestyle either way but unchecked your grandchildren are closer to slavery.

      • Roger Caiazza

        Here is a philosophical question for you. Would you accept getting the right answer for the wrong reason?

        Example, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority recently came out with their “Integrated Assessment for Effective Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in New York State” which has been hailed by activists for providing cutting edge information on the projected effects of climate change in New York. Trust me the authors are out there glibly ascribing myriad phenomena as the clear signs of global warming. On the other hand, as a meteorologist, I have long advocated sensible measures to the effect of weather on society. So when they conclude you shouldn’t build on a flood plain I agree, but swallow my bile when they say don’t build on a flood plain because global warming is the rationale.

        The trick then is to find ways to get cost-effective right answers out of the mess of the wrong reasons.

      • But Roger, you are arguing for deception and I do not think that the policy community, nor the populace, is that dumb. I have yet to see a no-regrets policy articulated, and I doubt one exists. Moving everyone out of the flood plain certainty is not one, nor is not building in the flood plain. Both can be hugely expensive.

        Nor do I agree that “From a policy standpoint the debate about AGW having an impact is over.” Polls show that in the US at least the majority of voters do not believe humans are causing dangerous climate change. Very few, if any, serious policy decisions are being made based on AGW. Much talk, yes, but no action, with less to come I am sure.

      • Roger Caiazza

        David,

        I don’t think it is as much deception as compromise. Many of the policies advocated by the 80% reduction by 2050 crowd are frightening in their potential cost and impact on my lifestyle. They certainly have the ear of the politicians in New York so offering a compromise while simultaneously showing the cost curve for the over the top proposals may be politically palatable.

        With regards to details: I left out a word in my comment above. I have long advocated sensible measures to reduce the effect of weather on society. How about avoiding construction on a flood plain or at least build on a flood plain with a building code that minimizes impacts of a flood. Even if you require a cost benefit for building on a flood plain vs. elsewhere that would be progress.

        As to “no regrets” policies I think you can argue that energy conservation and energy efficiency programs are at least “fewer regrets” things. If your electrical system is like New York’s system it will have to be pretty much re-built in the next 40 years. If we can reduce the number of replacement power generating systems (any kind, nothing is benign or cheap), with energy conservation and energy efficiency that would be cheaper to me as a rate payer and a better thing than any other climate mitigation policies I have seen.

      • Roger, energy efficiency is capital intensive so if you force it on people your are losing the returns from better possible investments. Conservation means rationing as far as I can tel. In either case if you can justify these policies on some sort of grid cost grounds then they are not climate policies. Calling them climate policies is a deception. If you cannot justify them except in part on climate grounds and the climate stuff is false then they are wasted efforts to that extent.

        You can’t have it both ways. A climate policy depends on climate issues for its justification. That is what the term means.

      • Roger Caiazza

        David,
        I think we are talking past each other here. My definition of a no regrets climate action is one that you can justify on grid cost grounds. For example if the State of New York takes its RGGI money aka its carbon tax, and spends that on enough energy conservation via building insulation to cut energy use to avoid construction of one incremental power generator there are no regrets.

        You are saying “if you can justify these policies on some sort of grid cost grounds then they are not climate policies”.

        The 80% reduction by 2050 always preaches energy conservation as a climate policy so I say you can have that because I won’t lose money.

      • The 80% reduction by 2050 always preaches energy conservation as a climate policy so I say you can have that because I won’t lose money.

        You or your estate? If the former you must be younger than about 95% of your audience here. ;)

      • Roger Caiazza

        Folks,
        For the record I am playing in this game now where I am trying to get as a good an outcome as possible when the other side has momentum. For example a few weeks ago I was at a conference where I think I was only one of two people in attendance who did not have a stake in crisis and catastrophe. I was biting my tongue every time I heard the words unequivocal and unprecedented which were being used often. Based on that background I am trying to find some things that the proponents can accept, that the leadership can take credit for, while I argue behind the scenes to the leadership that there is no silver bullet to significantly reduce GHG emissions without enormous cost.

        To that end I accept that there are costs involved with energy conservation and energy efficiency and that at the end of the day those costs may not be completely offset by the benefits. However I advocate those kinds of programs because it is the cheapest alternative out there and actually has a benefit that can be quantified. It pains me to say it but I believe that there is enough momentum to do something that we should be arguing cheapest choice for action and do research looking for a miracle to get off fossil fuels while stressing that the consensus of catastrophe and disaster is wrong. I think that is a viable/acceptable/least painful choice for the insurance policy type action discussed in the article.

      • A climbdown from AGW is possible, with some chanters thrown under the bus to appease the gods.

        Do continue to chant this, cwon14, it’s very soothing. Let us know when you think you have something more substantive. If you think the above is substantive and you’re interested in investing in Manhattan bridges you’re likely to find several willing sellers here.

  3. Yep, I think we can probably technically improve igloos.
    ==============

  4. The heated debate about which is more expensive over 100 years – mitigation now, or damages inflicted by warming is manifest nonsense. The reason is simple: mitigation now is impossible. We don’t poseses the technology to produce massive quantities of carbon free energy, certainly not in the near future (say 2-3 decades). So, in the debate: “which is better A or B” – B (climate in 100 years) is totally unknown, but A (mitigation) is totally non existent.

    • Jacob –

      Well said. There is so much talk about what should be done that people quietly overlook that it can’t be done. Equally and even more relevantly, it won’t be done.

      The upshot is that there absolutely will not be the many hundreds of billions of barrels of oil (or its equivalent) left in the ground, unused, when it would have been economically possible to burn it.

      Ain’t gonna happen!

    • We don’t poseses the technology to produce massive quantities of carbon free energy, certainly not in the near future (say 2-3 decades).

      Are you saying that inertial confinement fusion is not possible in three decades? If so, on what grounds?

      • I welcome research into fusion. (As if anybody needs my blessing…).
        What I say is that the technologies known so far – wind and solar – can’t do the job. When a better technology will be discovered it will be time to debate the cost-benefit calculus of it’s deployment.
        Those who push mitigation now push for the building of massive, industrial size facilities that produce next to nothing.

      • I’ll venture inertial confinement fusion is not economically possible in three decades. We might achieve ignition this decade. So What? We landed a man on the moon over 40 years ago, but what commercial activity became of it? Today NASA cannot put a man in space without the help of Russia….. or Burt Rutan.

        Do not confuse technological achievement for engineering 24/7/365 reliability.

  5. The plans considered under “mitigation” – like carbon taxes or cap&trade will surely produce the costs considerd (pain) but will produce no gain at all, no mitigation, no (big) reduction in emissions, no reduction of warming.
    The mitigation plan is based on an illusion, on wishful thinking, on ignoring technological and engineering reality. It’s sheer madness.

  6. “So what should we do about the real danger of global warming?”

    I think that the Borg Armada knocking on earth’s doorstep and us being assimilated into The Collective is a little bigger issue at this point, don’t ya think? I mean, do we really want to risk that?

    Andrew

    • I don’t worry about the Borg.

      The asteroid is going to get us first.

      That’s assuming, of course, that the Mayan’s predictive powers are on par with those of Mr Gore.

      • timg56,

        It’s somewhat difficult to take any of this even slightly seriously, after so many years of regurgitated Global Warming fiction. I mean, Al Gore or Harcourt Fenton Mudd? Dr. Crusher or Dr. Curry? What the hell’s the difference?

        Andrew

  7. I have two reactions to this article (and similar arguments) – firstly it is compelling and I agree with it whole-heartedly. Secondly, it completely misses the point.

    My first reaction can be summed up briefly, and is similar to Dr Curry’s – +10. Simples

    The second reaction is that the first – and the whole argument itself – is spurious because it is only worth positing the argument if it were possible to successfully leave huge quantities of fossil fuels unused. For more than 20 years enthusiasts have been saying we should do ‘this’ or ‘that’ or the ‘other’. What everybody needs to be made aware of is the amount of fossil fuel that has been left in the ground [and will be left in the ground forever] as a result of policies and agreements and protocols and targets and whatever other nonsense that occurs, because the answer so far is none.

    Of course, some activists still believe that the future is going to be profoundly different to the past and that suddenly everybody in the world is going to choose to look at (many) hundreds of billions of barrels of oil (or equivalent) that is economically, even cheaply recoverable, and say “Nope, no thanks, I’ll do without it”.

    Unless you are absolutely convinced that the above scenario is even remotely possible, questions about ‘choices’ of mitigation are meaningless and delusions. For them to make sense we would actually have to have a choice. I would very much like somebody to provide one piece of evidence that such a scenario is realistic.

    I think ‘emissions targets’ are the biggest red herring in the history of the world. They are irrelevant.

    Where is the unused fossil fuel?

    • I think antarctica has a bit of coal, probably not worth mining at current prices, but mining it or any other resources from antarctica is also banned.

      I think you are right, if nations were actually serious about emissions the first thing they would do is slap an international ban on mining fossil fuels from the arctic ocean. Instead they are all up there trying to stake a claim to the stuff.

    • “Nope, no thanks, I’ll do without it”.
      It’s worse than that. Not only will you have to cause people to renounce the use of fossil fuel and leave it underground. You will have to convince them to renounce the use of energy, to sit int the dark, to live without energy. It’s because carbon energy is not only cheaper – it’s the only one available now. No matter how much money you spend – there are no other viable sources of energy available for the needed quantities.
      (Nuclear might offer a solution, but only in the far future).

      • Jacob, kerosene lamp cost $9, two for $16 bucks; so you can have the second one, when you get out of the cave. Limestone to produce cement releases more CO2 than petrol. Bottom line: we are addicted to fossil fuel; when demand outstrips supply in 7-8 years, will be survival of the fittest / the country with hard currency / no foreign deficit… or the country with the biggest guns… Without fossil fuel, the earth cannot sustain more than 3 billion people, have a nice day.

      • “we are addicted to fossil fuel”
        Sure, and I’m also addicted to food…

        “Without fossil fuel, the earth cannot sustain more than 3 billion people”

        So, you want to stop the use of fossil fuels now, so we get rid of the superfluous 4 billion people right away? Why wait and postpone the inevitable….

  8. Discussions of climate policy that begin with risk always have the tail wagging the dog. No, actually, they have a flea on the tail wagging the dog. I believe that this point comes across very clearly in my post to Bishop Hill about Mann’s editorial in today’s WSJ. My post follows:

    Mann writes:
    “We should respect the role science and scientists play in society, especially when scientists identify new risks. Whether those risks stem from smoking, lead exposure or the increasing use of fossil fuels, scientists will always work to increase knowledge and reduce uncertainty. And we all benefit from that work.”

    What Mann describes is not traditional science. Kepler, Galileo, and Newton did not discover the planetary orbits or create a theory of gravitation to reduce uncertainty. Scientists at CERN are not conducting experiments to learn more about the postulated Pi-Boson because they want to reduce risk. Pure science is driven by curiosity about the universe and by nothing else. Galileo created scientific method and it guides all pure scientists in their pursuit of truth about the universe.

    As Mann’s references to smoking, lead exposure, and fossil fuels make evident, he has confused traditional science and its scientific method with the modern practice of medical science. As any physician researcher will tell you, medical science is first and foremost medicine and only secondarily science. The goal of medical science is to alleviate suffering. In pursuit of this goal, physician researchers and other scientists who serve the medical field are not pursuing truth about the universe, at least not first and foremost, but are pursuing means to alleviate suffering. Existing practices of genetic engineering are pursued because Mommy and Daddy will suffer if baby Johnny does not have blue eyes and not because humankind seeks the truth about blue eyes.

    Medical science does not follow traditional scientific method. When a surgeon first cut a hole in the leg of a patient and threaded a tube into the patient’s heart so that he could inflate a balloon in the end of the tube, he was practicing medicine but he was not practicing science. The action was justified because it offered the only promise of relief to suffering not because it gained truth about hearts or balloons.

    Mann wishes to be judged by the standards of medical science. He asks that his critics accept his claims that fossil fuel use dooms some part of humanity and that they view him as working in parallel with the surgeon and his balloon. Mann calls “Deniers” anyone who fails to accede to his request.
    Mann calls “Deniers” anyone who applies the standards of traditional scientific method to his work.

    However, Mann’s argument that he should not be judged by the standards of scientific method is circular. The claim that Earth is warming dangerously is not analogous to the claim that the patient will suffer and die if known treatments only are used. The claim about the patient is based on well known principles of medical practice and on observation of the patient’s present suffering and history of suffering. Earth is not analogous to the patient. Earth’s suffering, as described by Mann, cannot be observed directly or in the best history of Earth. There is no set of well known principles for treating this patient. Instead, Mann and his colleagues offer claims from traditional science to the effect that Earth is warming and that this warming is dangerous to humans. At this point in his argument, Mann appeals to the good name of scientific method. He has no choice. There is no other basis for believing that harmful warming is occurring. Yet when critics direct attention to the poor quality of his science and scientific method, he goes ballistic and calls them “Deniers.”

    Mann asserts that his work must be judged as the surgeon’s work is judged. He writes: “We should respect the role science and scientists play in society, especially when scientists identify new risks.” Yet our knowledge of the “new risk” he has identified, if it exists, is a product of traditional science and scientific method. Mann cannot have it both ways. He cannot ask both that we set aside scientific method for his work and that we not set it aside.

    It is no coincidence that not one proponent of CAGW is willing to discuss their use of traditional scientific method. They know, instinctively no doubt, that their so-called science has not a leg to stand on if judged by scientific method. That is why they want to change the topic to risk. But when they explain the risk, they are forced to claim that their practice of traditional science reveals the risk. They are forced to do this because nothing else reveals or explains that risk. Yet Mann and his colleagues are what they might call “Deniers” of scientific method.

    • Mann said “We should respect the role science and scientists play in society, especially WHEN scientists identify new risks” (capital emphasis mine)

      Ie he didn’t claim as you suggest that science is driven by identifying new risks. He’s saying that scientists do come across new risks on occasion.

      • I said that the Mann is confused:

        “As Mann’s references to smoking, lead exposure, and fossil fuels make evident, he has confused traditional science and its scientific method with the modern practice of medical science.”

        He confuses the motivation and justification for pure science with that of medicine. Medicine uses the results of pure science but medicine does not have the goals of pure science.

    • In fact virtually all of your claims of what Mann is saying don’t seem to be remotely what he said.

      “Mann wishes to be judged by the standards of medical science.”

      Where did he say that?

      “Mann’s argument that he should not be judged by the standards of scientific method…”

      Where did he say that?

      “Earth’s suffering, as described by Mann”

      Where did he describe that?

      “Mann asserts that his work must be judged as the surgeon’s work is judged”

      Where did he say that?

      Quite amazing strawman machine you’ve got there. Complete with attributing damning words to Mann that he never uttered.

      I mean really how is “Mann’s argument that he should not be judged by the standards of scientific method” not defamatory given he hasn’t argued that?

      Apologies if he has said any of this stuff in some article you are referring too which I haven’t read.

      • If Mann was judged by medical standards; he would have being in jail now, for malpractice. Soliciting for money on false pretence is a crime. For tree rings should have being consulted an agronomist, not a Warmist Swindler.

    • Our host at this blog posts an excerpt from an article of interest, and the only thing you can contribute is to post your own excerpt from a different article? The is what makes attempting to read these comments so frustrating – for every comment of interest, there are 20 that are totally irrelevant to the original post.

      • msarkB

        I often think it might be useful to have a permanent thread here entitled ‘off topic’. In that way people can post things of interest to them and others can debate it should they want. In that way the real articles are not hijacked. Such a thread would be self perpetuating
        tonyb

      • tonyb,

        The problem is that Dr. Curry herself posts these less-than-serious, non-scientific articles repeatedly. It’s hard to stay on topic when the topic is a dud.

        Andrew

      • It’s even worse when she fence sits on a the related politics with double talk. Citing an with captions from Paul Krugman from the New Republic?? Clownish. Then she avoids the purpose (political cover for defeated greens) of the article itself.

        Andrew, the science isn’t that interesting for the most part. It’s largely subjective and cooked by an agenda driven “consensus” reviewing their own opinions dressed as “science” and reasoned people reacting to this. The threads become political because that is the core issue of AGW.

      • Bad Andrew

        That’s why i think the idea of a ‘buffet’ menu, devised by the diners, has some merit..

        What topic interests one person may not interest another and consequently they currently start throwing the food around or wander off to another restaurant.

        Enough of analogies, I’m not sure my idea is practical, just that denizens do tend to like to wander off the subject in hand,-sometimes entertainingly and sometimes not.

        tonyb

      • You need to learn the connections between the two items. The post by Delingpole criticizes Dr. Needleman who man upholds in his post.

        For the larger context, Mann uses Needleman to defend his stance against his critics. But Needleman was not a pure scientist but a medical scientist. So, we get more of Mann’s confusion between pure science and medical science. My overall point is that once the concepts of risk and uncertainty are introduced into discussions of climate science, we stop discussing or using scientific method and switch to standards that are appropriate to medical decisions but not to pure science.

  9. When ice melts and oceans rise, earth inertia increases, spin rate slows down and extra leap seconds are required to keep the clocks right.
    earth spin rate has increased and no leap second will be added in 2011.

    http://popesclimatetheory.com/page28.html

    http://www.nist.gov/pml/div688/grp50/leapsecond.cfm

    We should wait until they start adding leap seconds and then worry.
    As for now, the leap second data shows that ice volume is increasing and the oceans are going down.
    The arctic is open and the snows have started, earth will cool soon.
    It does not matter what CO2 does, ICE ALBEDO RULES!

    • Herman,

      Your general thrust is correct but I think a minor correction is warranted.
      It is the melting of land-cover ice (i.e. glaciers) which would slow the Earth’s rotation. Melting of sea ice would have no effect in this context.

    • Herman, here is something scientific on your spin: if spinning of the earth slows > the earth’s centrifugal force diminishes > the sea-level will decrease in the tropical regions; but north of cancer and south of Capricorn parallel the sea-level will rise a lot – BOO!!!. That is factual, only if the earth slows spinning.

    • When ice melts and oceans rise, earth inertia increases, spin rate slows down and extra leap seconds are required to keep the clocks right.

      If the additional water in the oceans had come from outer space I would agree with this argument. But since it comes from ice on Earth that had previously been at a higher altitude, a more accurate analogy might be a dancer who pulls her arms in so as to spin faster. She only had two arms before, and still has two arms after, and they haven’t changed mass, they’re merely closer to her center of rotation.

      As is the ice that’s moved off the high-altitude Greenland icepack and into the low-altitude ocean.

      Melting ice sheets on the land should subtract leap seconds, not add them.

      The same should be true of sea ice, though the reasoning is more subtle in that case, having to do with the polynomial dependence of moment of inertia on distance from the center of rotation.

      So why are we inserting fewer leap seconds if the Earth is warming? Very simple: increased warming increases tectonic activity, witness the destruction of Fukushima. The Earth’s crust then more readily settles into a spherical shape with a smaller average radius, thereby decreasing its angular momentum and increasing its angular velocity. Just like a dancer speeding up by pulling her arms in.

      Global cooling can only slow down the Earth’s rotation, calling for more leap seconds. The fact that we haven’t seen these lately is much stronger evidence for warming than for cooling.

      • @vaughan
        “Global cooling can only slow down the Earth’s rotation, calling for more leap seconds. The fact that we haven’t seen these lately is much stronger evidence for warming than for cooling.”

        An interesting piece of evidence for increased warming for at least over the past decade. I am inclined to accept that the Earth is warming based on what I have been able to filter out from the “noise” from both sides of the debate.

        I am still not convinced that this warming poses any threat but even if it did there’s not much we can do about it is there?

      • Nice observation. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/05/common-link-in-extreme-weather-events-found-and-no-it-isnt-agw/#more-52562

        Changes in relative velocities of boundary layers produce changes climate response. One of those non-linear thingies. :)

      • Dallas

        The link suggests that there may be a relationship between events in the Pacific and heavy rainfall up to a week later in the US.

        There is considerable scope for this type of hypothesis setting but as i have pointed out in the Climate Smart Agriculture thread, there is a need for much more reliable data in order for effective non-linear modelling purposes.

        What you have just described is yet another forcing of a probably chaotic nature.

      • Peter, In my opinion, nonergodic systems are not chaotic just misunderstood. Using fluid dynamic boundary layers with a bucky ball model a good deal of the non linear responses can be more predictable. Global averages obscure relationships just as bad as preconceive notions do.

        BTW, more predictable is better than not predictable :)

      • Dallas

        Are you suggesting that changes in relative velocities of boundary layers can be predicted with any degree of certainty? Yes, the system is probably non-ergodic and yes it may not necessarily be chaotic but whether it is chaotic or not, a non-ergodic system remains not predictable.

        I should have used the term “non-ergodic” rather than “chaotic” in relation to my comment on the forcing so described in your link. Sorry for the confusion :)

      • In my opinion, nonergodic systems are not chaotic just misunderstood. Using fluid dynamic boundary layers with a bucky ball model a good deal of the non linear responses can be more predictable.

        This is just pranking everyone. There is no such thing as a buckyball model of fluid dynamics. Or are you just confusing this with some sort of honeycomb-like Benard cell structure? You do have a habit of making these weird pronouncements of the way things work with no real basis behind anything.

      • I think so. I was playing with a couple of thermo/radiant combination model approaches using surface, 600mb, potential temperature and tropopause temperatures. By following the energy and rate of change/ direction of flux, there is a lot possible.

        Face it, Planck and old gang would have given anything for the data we have available.

        I case you haven’t seen it, http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2011/11/learning-equation-kimoto-modified.html and http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2011/11/atmospheric-r-values.html give you two basic methods of comparing energy transfer between points. The calculations are simple and fast. More iterations per second is a good thing :)

        Careful though, you may find yourself being a climate centrist :)

      • Web said, “This is just pranking everyone. There is no such thing as a buckyball model of fluid dynamics.”

        I know, there should be for the Earth climate system. The Earth has a number of fluid dynamic layers which have varying rates of energy transfer based on the conditions of the adjoining layers. In Relativistic Heat Conduction, four dimensional vectors are used to determine thermal diffusion rates. With a Bucky ball model of the Earth, the progression of impact of one layer on an adjacent layer can be followed more accurately because the equal area of the Bucky segments would be more easily related to the energy density of the segments relative to one another.

        There is no magic involved, just an easier way to follow the energy using the data available.

        This is very similar to defining relative radii in analyzing non-ergodic systems. Simple averages mask impacts, A slightly more complex method of averaging the available data increases the variety of analytical methods that can be used and compared on a more equal basis.

        If you look at the sea surface temperature East of China you see an exceptional warm pool. That warm pool would create a stationary low pressure which would of course impact weather patterns. With a Bucky ball model you could better predict approaching circulation patterns based on total energy changes instead of just temperature and pressure changes. The intensity of that warm pool may likely be partially impacted by low level pollutant emissions from China.

        The fluid dynamic model based on a Bucky ball using a combination energy references is just a simple way to get more information from the data. No magic.

        Proving to you that the problem requires more than simplifications of thermal relationships and a little outside the box thinking, that would require some magic.

      • You have completely lost it and have gone into the deep-end of who knows where. Bucky balls are a special lattice construction that have nothing to do with modeling anything in climate.
        This is not even provocative, and since you don’t seem to realize that buckyballs can’t pack tightly into a 3D lattice, your idea is DOA. If you are trying to mesh these, it won’t work.

        Posturing, pranking us, whatever, it’s not even interesting speculation. It’s like you are writing out your dreams.

      • The shape web, not a physical Bucky ball the shape. A sphere divided into equal area shapes. A ball inside a sphere inside a sphere with matching surfaces with areas proportional to their separation with each sphere representing a thermodynamic layer. Jeez!

      • Melting land ice moves from close to the spin axis of earth on land at high latitude and moves into the oceans and move toward the equator which is far from the spin axis. Altitude is tiny compared to the distance from the spin axis to the equator. Melting land ice increases the inertia of earth and slows the spin rate.
        Increasing land ice moves the water at the equator back on land at high latitudes and reduces the distance from the spin axis and decreases the inertia and increases the spin rate, requiring less leap seconds. This is what has happened, less leap seconds have been added during the most recent decade.

      • Vaughan Pratt: If the additional water in the oceans had come from outer space I would agree with this argument. But since it comes from ice on Earth that had previously been at a higher altitude, a more accurate analogy might be a dancer who pulls her arms in so as to spin faster. She only had two arms before, and still has two arms after, and they haven’t changed mass, they’re merely closer to her center of rotation.

        I think that you have that backward. If the ice melts at the poles, where most of it is, and redistributes to lower latitudes (some to the equator), that is equivalent to a spinning dancer (I assume you mean ice dancer), whose hands start over her head close to her axis of rotation and then spread apart, slowing her rotation.

        Isn’t that so?

      • Once Vaughan realizes the leap seconds have been added for the last 30 years(and 100 years) he’ll change his tune. It is becoming apparent that he will only accept an answer that it provides stronger evidence for warming.

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/28/Deviation_of_day_length_from_SI_day_.svg

  10. we will simply do what mankind has done throughout history, that being adapt and move forward. You cannot stop the Earths climate from changing any more than you can stop time no matter how much the politicians want to pretend we can.

    • Jim, climate never stopped changing for one day in the last 4 billion years, and never will. The only reason they concocted ”climate change” is a ”fig leaf” to cover up their shame for lying about the phony GLOBAL warming.

      Climate was changing 300-400y ago; when was less factories and cars; and even less electricity was used. It is ESSENTIAL for the climate to keep changing – to keep the genes for adaptation / diversifying active. Most of the genes in every critter are junk genes (use it, or lose it) but the genes for adaptation are alive in every critter; proof that climate NEVER stopped changing.

  11. The assymmetry in expectation of and preparation for disaster is unexplainable. A ten degree warmer world would much more easily sustain life than a ten degree colder world. Same for five degrees. Same for one degree. Any climate change, which we are slowly recognizing is inevitable, will cause change in society, best adapted to locally and regionally. It will be far easier to adapt to warming than to cooling.

    Given the paleontological record, it is far more likely that we face near term(define ‘near term’ almost as you wish) cooling than warming. CO2, with little doubt, has a warming effect. By present evidence, that warming effect doesn’t seem to be very large, and is probably completely unable to counter-act the forces that push the Earth into ice ages, even ‘little’ ice ages.

    Anthro CO2 seems to be the safest geo-engineering project to keep the Earth warm. It just doesn’t seem to be very effective.
    ===============

    • Another way to look at it is if (and it is a fair-sized old ‘if’) the increase in Co2 allows us to swerve the next glaciation, it will, without doubt, be the most extraordinarily fantastic thing human beings have ever done, or perhaps will ever do.

      Where has the world been heading in the last 50 (or 500) million years? Towards life-killing cold and Co2 starvation.

      Could we be so God-like that we kill two birds with one stone?

      By accident?

      Who knows, but it looks extremely promising….

      Keep enjoying the interglacial :)

      • Heh, A, I’ll enjoy a little inner Lovelockian: Perhaps the luxury and exuberance of humanity is Gaia’s little blessing to herself.
        ==============

      • Human activity to my mind must be considered only a minor contributor to the natural influences that will contribute to Earth climate’s trajectory over time.

        Climate change on Earth is really only a minor manifestation of the multitude of phenomena that is produced by our Solar System and the Universe that we inhabit.

        To suggest that we humans are omnipotent in any context whatever is mere hubris.

        .

    • I agree. Warmer is usually better than colder. And clothes are optional!!

    • “Anthro CO2 seems to be the safest geo-engineering project to keep the Earth warm. It just doesn’t seem to be very effective.”

      I think that is one of the most memorable quotes I have seen in the entire climate saga!

    • Kim, there is no such a thing as GLOBAL warming. Some areas can get warmer – others instantly get colder = that is climatic changes, not global warming, or global cooling. Climate change is a natural phenomena – GLOBAL warming is a phenomenal lie.

      Your city is bigger now than 150y ago – more heat produced. Instead of 500km3 of air; that air expanded by 50km3 extra. Those 50km3 of extra volume doesn’t go in the bush – because is already air there – instead goes up and enlarges the volume of the troposphere by 50km3. In 3,5 seconds that extra volume intercepts enough extra coldness to equalize – but it doesn’t fall back into your city, because of the fast spinning of the planet and winds – the extra cold air falls somewhere far west into the sea – overall same warmth units in the atmosphere at any time. GLOBAL warming is concocted exclusively for fleecing the Urban Sheep.

      If in the 70-80’s they were not impatient; if they ”predicted Nuclear Winter in 100years; instead for year 2000, we would have being talking today about the nuclear winter, not global warming. But when the countdown for nuclear winter started in the 80’s; before you even defrosted from their nuclear winter – they went into opposite direction, with much bigger noise. That is the reason they stopped looking for proofs of GLOBAL cooling. They are clever, aren’t they? By that, they legalized extortion…

  12. This is all about risk, cost and cost benefit.
    What is the best way to use capital to get the greatest benefit, knowing that each dollar spent is an opportunity cost.

    For my own part, I would examine this plot with great attention:-

    then reflect that In 2010, Alzheimer’s disease care costs were estimated at $172 billion, while the federal investment at the NIH in Alzheimer’s disease research was $469 million.

    It is the plot above and the difference in funding for ‘Climate Science’ vs. Dementia research that makes my language intemperate.

    http://www.alzfdn.org/documents/NIA%20Report-Final.pdf

  13. Awwww, feel the manipulation.

    https://www.arctichome.com/web/index.html

  14. I found the article thoughtful and well-reasoned in general. However, a significant flaw in my view was its focus on the wrong “fat tail”. Evidence is already accumulating that the fat tail of the climate sensitivity probability distribution (and its economic implications) has been exaggerated, and that we can realistically expect equilibrium climate sensitivity to be in the neighborhood of 3 C with little prospect that it exceeds 4 or 4.5 C. It may even be less, but I don’t want to reignite that argument here, since it has been conducted almost interminably in other recent threads. If we cease worrying about extreme sensitivity, we can focus better on the potentially serious consequences of the medium levels that we can’t dismiss.

    The relevant fat tail in my opinion is the very long atmospheric lifetime of a substantial fraction of CO2 we put into the atmosphere in excess of baseline levels. When all the disparate CO2 concentration decay curves are evaluated, we can expect much of what we emit today to be around 100 years from now, and a not insubstantial amount to be with our descendants thousands of years in the future. This means that the quantity of CO2 we choose to emit between now and 2030 or 2050 is something we’re imposing on ourselves and future generations, because once it’s emitted, we can’t take it back. For that reason, we face what’s known as a “forced choice” between two types of action – one is to send many tens of gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year at the current pace (or increasing), and the other is to begin to emit less. A third choice, “inaction” in the sense of a delay during which no consequences will ensue, is not an option.

    That we can’t miraculously cut carbon emissions massively within just a few years is a given. What remains an issue is the balance of policies that combine technological and social approaches – developing alternative energy sources to be more scalable to societal needs while also emphasizing energy efficiency, conservation, and carbon pricing mechanisms that account for the true future cost of our current emissions, and will discourage attempts to recover fossil fuels that can only be extracted expensively. I know something about the science, but much less about the economics, and so I won’t venture to offer my uninformed views of the optimal balance. I tend to doubt that it is best achieved simply by postponing major efforts in favor of minor tinkering. Whatever the wise heads decide is best is likely to be undermined by societal and political inertia, and so we what we attempt should probably be based on the expectation that we’ll only get part way there.

    • Kick back, Fred, pop a fizzy cola, and enjoy the interglacial. Don’t worry about the berg melting, we can swim.
      ================

    • Fred, the article seems to be arguing for a completely different option than you are presenting, namely developing technologies to deal with the adverse consequences, if and when they appear. You are arguing for mitigation via renewables and efficiency, but the article says mitigation is a bust. So you might want to address the article.

      Another point: what you are calling societal and political inertia, I call democratic decision making. It is only inertia in the sense that the people of the world are not doing what you want. They are doing what I want.

      • David – The article is vague about what “technologies” the writer had in mind, and I suspect that this is in part due to the fact that his background is more in economics that climatology. Many advocates have suggested waiting for unacceptable adverse consequences before undertaking substantial emission reduction efforts. Although that seems plausible in principle, it wouldn’t work in practice because of the long persistence in the atmosphere of excess CO2. If it simply means building seawalls to keep out storm surges from a higher sea level, or irrigation systems to deal with increased drought, it will work as a partial solution that primarily helps affluent societies, but it would fail to avert considerable hardship for many other regions. However, the optimal balance between adaptive and mitigative measures is an issue we aren’t going to resolve here, and I would simply say that from the best scientific estimates, a mixture of both will be more beneficial and less costly than either extreme alone.

      • Fred Moolton: However, the optimal balance between adaptive and mitigative measures is an issue we aren’t going to resolve here, and I would simply say that from the best scientific estimates, a mixture of both will be more beneficial and less costly than either extreme alone.

        I agree with you.

        One of the things that “I find interesting” about the article is that it was published in The New Republic which usually favors liberal interventions in the economy, yet here is arguing against them.

        The best course of action with regard to this specific problem is rationally debatable, but at the level of strategy, we can be confident that humanity will face many difficulties in the upcoming century, as it has in every century. We just don’t know which ones they will be. This implies that the correct grand strategy for meeting them is to maximize total technical capabilities in the context of a market-oriented economy that can integrate highly unstructured information, and, most important, to maintain a democratic political culture that can face facts and respond to threats as they develop.

        Like your comments, they are lacking in details.

        If it is true that (a) people’s demand for fuel will continue to push the cost of fossil fuel up and (b) that fossil fuel resources are harder and harder to extract and (c) that current investments in solar, wind and biofuels are persistently reducing the costs of those energy sources, it makes good sense from almost any point of view to continue to invest in developing those. (I include nuclear power, but right now it is cheaper and faster to manufacture 1GW of solar power capacity than nuclear power capacity, and the costs of solar are declining faster. That solar is only available in the daytime is important, but not a disaster for solar.)

        If it is true that 2 – 4 millenia are required for the equilibrium response to a CO2 doubling to occur, then it is likely that the entire human energy industry will have been reinvented multiple times before a crash program to rapidly reduce CO2 emissions will be necessary, so a persistent investment in new energy technology is likely to be sufficient.

        If it is true that oscillations of temperature, rainfall, and drought will continue to occur whether anthropogenic CO2 affects global mean temperature or not, then any people who experience those oscillations (Australians, Californians, Texans, Pakistanis, Chileans) ought to invest first in better flood control/irrigation and only later (or less) in alternative energy.

        Take as an example of mixed development Brazil: they are constructing (or at least planning) dams in the headwaters of the Amazon tributaries for flood control and electricity (analogous to the large facilities at Itaipu); they are expanding their oil and natural gas supplies in order to increase the supplies of fuel to their economy; they invested sufficiently in biofuels to reduce the cost of energy from ethanol to less than the cost of energy from gasoline (on an energy equivalent basis), and they are expanding their biofuels R&D; and they are expanding their solar power industry. You could write something similar about China. If it became necessary 70 years from now (c.f Padilla et al) to institute a crash program to reduce CO2, I think they would be well situated to do so, based on progress in alternative energy development to date.

        In the U.S., Solyndra was a disaster (the free market produces disasters as well, and the Edsel was much more costly), but other solar power companies continue to expand their production and drive down the costs of P.V. cells. Whatever else happens, the U.S. energy industry will look much different 20 years from now. Compared to the rapid drop in prices of electricity from PV cells, the climate is warming very slowly (if at all.) To me, it makes sense for the U.S. to continue pretty much as we are doing now with respect to alternative energy development, but invest more in flood control and irrigation. (I wish the U.S. would permit construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, but Americans will consume about as much gasoline without as with it, we’ll just have less of everything else.)

        The foregoing has just been one way of formulating your “mixture” more explicitly. I imagine that you’d prefer a different mixture.

      • I’m not so sure about the cost of solar. If its in big power plants, there are lots of other costs, such as roads to service all the cells, connecting the cells, doing power conversion, etc. I think I read that these costs are now bigger than the cost of the solar cells themselves.

        It looks to me like nuclear is the only cost effective option for the forseeable future. We probably have the technology to make this work well. But there are proliferation concerns, etc.

        In any case, I disagree that adaptation is impossible once the CO2 is committed to the atmosphere. There may be biological solutions using carbon fixing organisms or manmade aerosols or even orbiting sun screens. This is I think what the author of the article may have in mind. Biotechnology is getting better and better, engineering of organisms is probably going to happen within this century.

        This reminds me a little of what happened when Europe ran out of wood for fuel. Technology had advanced enough that they switched to coal. As fossil fuels get costlier and technology advanced, we will find solutions. The doctrine of scarcity as epitomized by mitigation never works. We need to focus on technology that will help everyone have a better life. In the mean time, making ourselves more resiliant is a good thing even if climate doesn’t change very much. Things like floodplain regulation are a good thing and we should probably stop Federal subsidies for flood insurance in coastal areas. We should definitely stop ethanol subsidies. Our problem right now is really focused on the absence of a sane energy policy, not on the lack of a carbon mitigation policy.

      • “makes good sense from almost any point of view to continue to invest in developing those… [wind and solar]”
        It may make sense to invest in DEVELOPING those technologies, but not in building large scale PRODUCTION facilities that are very inefficient and expensive and produce little energy.
        Investing one or two billion dollar in building a solar production facility in California will contribute absolutely nothing to developing a better technology.

      • Jacob: but not in building large scale PRODUCTION facilities that are very inefficient and expensive and produce little energy.

        Some of the documented price reductions to date have come from economies of scale and improvements in the production processes. Almost for sure such reductions will continue to occur. Mass production is one of the keys to lowering costs.

    • Fred
      You set up a false dilemma:
      “For that reason, we face what’s known as a “forced choice” between two types of action – one is to send many tens of gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year at the current pace (or increasing), and the other is to begin to emit less.”

      1) Probability of prognostications
      When I hear that: “The IPCC falsified satellite altimetry: ““We had to do so, otherwise there would be no trend.” I take prognostications with an even greater grain of salt! Even more so when I read the shennanigans in Climategate 2

      2) China is adding 1000 GW coal fired power plant per week.
      Pragmatically, it will not allow its development to be impeded.

      3) Constraints on available fossil fuels will geologically constrain production, regardless of politicians prognostications.

      4) Available Net Exports of light crude oil (left over after China and India) have already declined 13% since 2005. See articles/data by Jeff Brown/westexas.

      Compare the current 3% per year DECLINE oil light oil available to importing countries compared with “0.2 percent of future global economic consumption” when if ever it happens.

      Any rational evaluation says that we must urgently address the CURRENT 3%/year decline and its consequent damage to the US and other economies, now some bad feelings over exaggerated future catastrophies dreamt up by Al Gore.

      5) As John Paul Jones declared We “have not yet begun to fight” in terms of seriously developing cost effective alternative renewable energy.

      • David – You appear to be citing a completely unreliable source for your first statement – an untrue claim about satellite altimetry and sea levels (there’s a huge literature on this) – and the others don’t really bear on the need to choose between continued high or increasing rates of CO2 emissions vs mitigation strategies that begin now and proceed as expeditiously as possible. How fast that should be is a question I’m not very qualified to answer, but the need to begin is something I can support without any reservations based on the principles I mentioned above.

      • Fred Moolten: but the need to begin is something I can support without any reservations based on the principles I mentioned above.

        My point of view is that we have already begun, so the issue is how much more or less to invest, not whether.

      • When oil (and gas) get scarce, people will develop alternatives. It’s called adaptation.
        We don’t need Al Gore and the IPCC to preach and prod us to adapt.
        The alarmists cry: “mitigation”, and that means: stop the use of fossil fuels right away, or else…
        There is no urgent need to stop the use of fossil fuels right now.

      • Adaptation is mitigation on the fly. Risk mitigation is something that businesses full well understand and is always done ahead of time. It may involve investing in some other alternative strategy, or even creating an alternative version of a product.

        In common parlance, a risk mitigator is the thing that we refer to as Plan B or Plan C and have at the ready should our original plan go astray. A risk mitigator is easily understood as a risk reducer.

        You can try to spin this as some alarmist tactic but it is in fact a conventional business strategy, used by corporations and countries alike.

      • Adaption is not risk mitigation on the fly.

        It IS the building of proper infrastructure, among many things.

      • Adaption is not risk mitigation on the fly.

        It IS the building of proper infrastructure, among many things.

        So what exactly is your problem? We are going to build proper infrastructure to handle the alternative energy strategies that we need to put into place. That sounds like risk mitigation for both AGW and peak oil, and we will eventually adapt to a different way of doing business.

        Humans can plan, while species have to adapt. That is not too hard to figure out, and not applying our ingenuity in this way seems awfully short-sighted.

        BTW, it is adaptation, not adaption

    • Marlowe Johnson

      Fred,

      Weitzmann’s work is predicated on earth system sensitivity not Charney sensitivity so you may want to reconsider your objection on that front.

      “This means that the quantity of CO2 we choose to emit between now and 2030 or 2050 is something we’re imposing on ourselves and future generations, because once it’s emitted, we can’t take it back. ”

      Strictly speaking this isn’t quite correct. Biochar and other forms of sequestration can quite effectively remove CO2 from the carbon cycle. Whether or not those methods are cheaper than alternative preventative strategies is another question…

      • Marlowe – I don’t see the relationship of anything I stated to the difference between earth system sensitivity (6 C) and Charney sensitivity (3 C). The presence or absence of a sensitivity fat tail on timescales of importance to us involves primarily the latter. Once excess CO2 is added to the atmosphere, the excess declines with a set of decay curves, but the overall effect is a slow to very slow removal.. Despite intensive efforts by Lackner and others, I don’t think anyone has yet found a practical, scalable way to change this trajectory substantially by accelerating CO2 removal, although afforestation will help to some extent. However, while desirable, the quantitative benefit is too small to serve as an adequate alternative to preventative strategies on a global scale.

      • Just to be a little bit clearer about my last comment, a 6 C rise from CO2 doubling over many thousands of years due to ice sheet melting would not be a fat tail response, but a 6 C response to CO2 over a few centuries from only water vapor, sea ice, and cloud feedbacks would constitute a fat tail, and it’s this latter that seems increasingly .

      • seems increasingly unlikely.

  15. Unfortunately his preferred, new option is a vacuum. He calls for “a decades-long technology project to develop tools to ameliorate the problem as we then understand it”. In these excerpts there is not the slightest hint what this technology and tools are, nor what they might cost, nor what good they might do. Do they even exist in principle (which I doubt)?

    This seems like a version of the babble about adaptation, where no one ever says specifically what that means. Note the key phrase “as we then understand it.” How do we design tools to fix a problem that we do not now understand?

    More to the point, this problem may never exist. So he is still talking about spending a bunch of money for nothing. This is why Kyoto is going down the tubes in Durban. It is not about probability distributions, which are an academic fantasy, nor even about scientific uncertainty, which no one in Durban shares. It is because people do not want to spend the money. The political will is gone, for now anyway, and hopefully forever.

    • I’m just a little disappointed that Dr. Curry supports the walk-back process. Keeping the junk science protected (which could do more harm in the future) but moderating on global mitigation dreams of the full-mooner left (U.N./IPCC/Gore/Kyoto etc.)

      One piece of a moldy, smelly loaf of bread is still a moldy smelly piece of bread. Changing the quantity might change it for some but it’s another example of why these people should be driven out from any policy discussion at all. Zero science credibility since they bought and sold the fraud when they thought it would fly the first time.

      We need Climate Fraud Nueremburg Trials if the science is to be corrected.

      • cwon: I don’t see that your comment is in any way a response to mine. But then your comment makes no sense so in a way it is not a response to anything. You are wasting our time.

      • While your comment is dithering we are in brord agreement on main points. If you’re willing to eat the moldy crumbs that invented AGW hyperbole go right ahead.

        Let’s sum up what the article is; excuse based drivel to pull the AGW maniacs from the political ledge but maintaining the basic false premise at the core of AGW. “no regrets” etc. etc.

        Food for useful idiots who would accept this.

      • What you call dithering is specific argumentation, something you appear to be incapable of. Your tasteless diatribes are a waste of space here.

      • cwon14, I vote for for that too; you have my full support.

    • This seems like a version of the babble about adaptation, where no one ever says specifically what that means.

      Exactly. Something might come out of the blue in the next few decades, but it’s just as likely that we’re going to end up with the same stalemate then as now: the greens will keep demanding solar/wind technologies that can’t work on that scale, and will block anything nuclear, including fusion. So all the “decades-long technology project” in the world isn’t going to help diddly, if there’s no general agreement up front on what is and isn’t on the table.

      We don’t have agreement on that now, and we’re not going to reach a meeting of the minds by then. Solar and wind will still be stupid ideas 30 and 40 years from now, and nuclear will still be the only realistic non-fossil technology in existence, and the only remaining question is whether we’re going to continue to deny this and continue the stalemate, or face the facts and start developing Gen IV nuke technologies.

      • P.E. Solar and wind will still be stupid ideas 30 and 40 years from now, and nuclear will still be the only realistic non-fossil technology in existence, and the only remaining question is whether we’re going to continue to deny this and continue the stalemate, or face the facts and start developing Gen IV nuke technologies.

        On present evidence and recent progress, the first clause of the sentence is insupportable, and the rest poses a false choice. No one can predict for sure which energy technologies will actually produce the cheapest, least polluting, most reliable energy 30 and 40 years from now. If present trends continue (and why not?), electricity from pv cells will cost less than a half cent per kwh (inflation-adjusted), and cellulosic butanol will cost less than gasoline to produce (but it will cost almost as much as gasoline at the pump because buyers will bid up the price.)

      • Intermittency will always make wind and solar uneconomical on a system basis.

      • Tell that to the farmer that depends on rain, even through dry spells.
        Odd that we can deal with spatially intermittent energy (where oil is located) yet not temporally intermittent. The book is not closed on this yet, see smart grid technology.

      • Tell you what, Webby. Why don’t you plug your computer in to a windmill, and only leave comments here when the wind blows. You won’t be able to do it all the time, but you can make up for lost time when the wind does start to blow. And you can heat your house the same way. If you can heat it up to 120 F when the wind’s blowing, that makes up for the cold days with no wind, no?

      • David Wojick: Intermittency will always make wind and solar uneconomical on a system basis.

        In January 2011 there were power outages in Texas when a sudden and unusual cold spell caused mechanisms on some coal and gas fired power plants to freeze up, even as the wind turbines continued to provide some backup power. This past summer San Diego County had a large power outage when something failed in Yuma, Arizona — people who had solar or gas generator backup did ok.

        You are not claiming, I hope, that natural gas will “always” be available and cheap, or that carrying coal long distances will “always” be cheaper than batteries.

      • I forgot to add, natural gas is already intermittent in winter time because the pressure in the gas lines can not be maintained. Then there are the occasional fires and explosions.

      • PEE doesn’t think smart grid technology will do us any good. Sorry to see you left behind technology-wise. To you guys it is not only gloom, but doom as well. To me it’s all about facing the facts and searching for a path forward.

      • Really, this discussion is not very realistic. I have lived all my life in areas with natural gas as a primary fuel and there has never been an outage. Electricity is much less reliable. We have multiday outages every year or so and usually at the coldest time of year when it is very unpleasant. So people buy backup generators powered by natural gas. Solar and wind are also unreliable and require backup up power plants usually powered by coal or natural gas.

        You are just ignoring the facts on the ground.

      • MattStat, Muller is excellent on this. America’s natural gas reserves are huge. When you count all fossil fuels, America has by far the largest reserves.

      • Yes, Richard Muller’s book “Physics for Future Presidents” goes through the case for peak oil in pretty good detail. He has the history and outlook for crude oil nailed. As a transition, he seems to think that the Fischer-Tropsch process for converting coal to liquid holds out the best prospects.

      • David Young: When you count all fossil fuels, America has by far the largest reserves.

        I was addressing the increasing costs of fossil fuels and the decreasing costs of the alternatives.

        I was also addressing the possibility that AGW might be true (I am a “skeptic”, not a “denier”), in which case we would like to have a lot of alternatives available at low cost in case the evidence becomes incontrovertible.

  16. “CO2 contributes about 20% of the greenhouse effect”

    Citations please. I believe the number is closer to 3%.

    • 3% or so total (maybe), 95%+ is natural co2. Does that get human impact over 1%?? Likely not. It’s only through the magic of co2 “compounding” in residence time that the scam ever gets further. All amazing science fairy-tales right from the start.

      No idea on sinks either. Clueless on clouds or solar. Arrogance does go a long way on the other hand.

      • Veritas and cwon14

        The “natural greenhouse effect” is estimated to be around 33°C.

        There are various estimates of the natural GHE of CO2, ranging from 9% to 26% of the total.

        http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/climate/greenhouse_effect_gases.html

        Most estimates are in the range of 15% to 20% of the total (5° to 7°C).

        For the change in radiative forcing from a doubling of CO2, IPCC uses the estimate of Myhre et al.:

        http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/222.htm

        dE = 5.35 * ln(2) = 3.71 W/m^2

        This corresponds to a calculated 2xCO2 temperature increase of around 1°C.

        Anything else is model-based feedbacks and hype.

        Max

      • An awful lot of range in those estimates wouldn’t you say Max?

        What’s your favorite guess on how much of the co2 is human generated? Any idea on co2 sink variance? Lots of hype and guessing being a main point.

      • About 25% of the CO2 in the atmosphere is human generated

      • lolwot,

        That’s a guess, the variables are largely unknown.

      • lolwot

        You write:

        About 25% of the CO2 in the atmosphere is human generated

        Let me modify that slightly to

        About 25% of the CO2 in the atmosphere is assumed to have resulted from human emissions – from an estimated 280 ppmv in 1750 to a measured 390 ppmv today. Since human emissions have amounted to over two times the measured increase and the natural CO2 cycle of our planet is several orders of magnitude even greater, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the cause of the increase is, in fact.

        Can you live with this modification?

        If not, I’ll have to ask you to provide evidence for your claim.

        Max

    • Sorry I didn’t see the request further up. Here’s the support for the 20% figure:

      http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/schmidt_05/

  17. Judith Curry

    Many skeptics will react negatively to this article (as I did), for being too wishy-washy in calling Al Gore’s disaster predictions exaggerated, rather than simply stating that the whole AGW hysteria is a highly questionable, model-based tempest in a teapot.

    Jim Manzi essentially tells us the alarmism regarding AGW is overblown and that the “the expected economic benefits of emissions mitigation do not cover its realistically expected costs”, in fact mitigation proposals would cost $14 to 20 trillion MORE than the (possibly) expected benefits.

    Talk about a lousy investment – ouch!

    Referring to a recent paper by Harvard economist Martin Weitzman, which argued for the “Precautionary Principle” in dealing with the possible threat from AGW, Manzi points out that the “fat tail” arguments are not a sound basis for evaluating risks.

    He also points out that “you can’t prove a negative”, and this is the basic problem of the AGW scare today.

    The lines I like best:

    The best course of action with regard to this specific problem [AGW] is rationally debatable, but at the level of strategy, we can be confident that humanity will face many difficulties in the upcoming century, as it has in every century. We just don’t know which ones they will be.

    And:

    a massive carbon tax or a cap-and-trade rationing system would likely cost more than the damages it would prevent. Either would be an impractical, panicky reaction that would be both more expensive and less effective than targeted technology development in the event that we ever have to confront the actual danger: the very small but real chance of much worse than expected damages from greenhouse gases.

    Manzi bows to the “PC” notion that there is a “real chance of much worse than expected damages from greenhouse gases”, but that it is ”very small”

    I would not have been so “PC”. IMO it is virtually certain that IPCC has NOT underestimated or understated the risks from AGW. So I would have replaced the words ”but real” with ”and extremely unlikely”.

    I think one has to look at articles like this as the beginning of a gradual unraveling of the alarming AGW trend.

    Although Nobel Peace Prizes are no longer being handed out, the concept of potentially disastrous AGW is still the “PC” standpoint.

    That position has started to crumble, as articles like this one show.

    But it will still take some time before the mainstream articles denounce the whole hysteria as absurd, as most skeptics have concluded should have happened a long time ago.

    In this sense I think that these skeptics are simply ahead of the curve and Manzi still has some catching up to do.

    Max

    • It’s an example of the eco-left and Dr. Curry carrying water for the watered down “cause” to bail out the hardliners and cliff they took their partners to.

      AGW will be backpaged and then go into the MSM lefts “memory hole” until academic left can brainwash a future generation into a majority. None of this conduct should be excused.

      It’s such a scam; “agw mitigation costs were too high” is just another left-wing narrative. “public too stupid” to realize the correctness of the “consensus”, “Obama failed to lead”. All whining distractions and yes; DISINFORMATION.

    • Max, Manzi highlights the uncertainties and vast costs relevant to any potential benefits and moves towards sensible policies – i.e., don’t spend money on one of many uncertain and distant possible problems; wait decades until we know more about whether it’s a serious problem, by which time economic growth and technological advance should make it easier to deal with if that’s required.

      I think the fact that this is coming from a non-sceptic who only calls “Al Gore’s disaster predictions exaggerated” is very positive.

  18. This article is certainly a well-meant effort to deal with the issue. In any such effort, however, I always take issue with the cost estimates. I live near Boston, where the Big Dig highway project began in the range of one billion dollars, and ended up at about fifteen billion. And the damn thing leaks like a seive, and parts of the roof fell off and killed a woman already.

    The true cost includes things like the massive depression of property values in the outer suburbs of major cities, when transportation costs go through the roof. No, we will not all just take rapid transit instead. MIllions of Americans would find their transportation costs making their homes un-sellable, and the current housing crisis would look like a tea party.

    The truth is, to stop any rise in CO2, we’d need to get rid of virtually all private transportation as it exists now.Nothing less would do. And that would result in the coring out of the American middle class. To say that we need to do such a thing for insurance against something bad happening later is the hight of folly.

    • Mark, This is a good comment. The impact of carbon mitigation on economic growth would probably be severe. Increasing energy costs are in fact behind a lot of our economic problems over the last 15 years. It’s not just about cost, but about the fact that mitigation must by definition raise energy costs quite substantially.

  19. PS As far as Manzi’s “targeted technology development in the event that we ever have to confront the actual danger” is concerned, this will happen as a natural market reaction to scarcer and more expensive fossil fuels.

    This development will not require a major effort funded by the taxpayers and directed by the “political elite”, which would have a great risk of being misdirected and too expensive.

    • Manacker, I don’t think he is talking about the problem of fuel scarcity, but rather that of high end catastrophic climate scenarios. I cannot figure out what these technologies might be. Air conditioned domes for cities? Bigger pumps and pipes for irrigation in droughts, or new kinds of dams for floods? Or maybe geoengineering stuff like orbiting sun shades.

      • In other words, the warmer message is schizoid: we’re past peak oil, and going to run out shortly, but the world is in danger of hundreds of years of fossil fuel combustion causing climate change. Is that about right?

      • We Have A Winner!, “In other words, the warmer message is schizoid:”

      • It’s coal and unconventional sources that aren’t going to run out anytime soon that are going to contribute the most co2.

      • Pssst! Fischer Tropsch.

      • Oo-er, that sounds like making hooch out of potatoes!

        As long as I can run my RC51 on it, you can count me in (and who cares about the Co2) :)

      • Global crude oil production is on the decline, while unconventional oil is only rising slowly. So what is happening is that the developing countries are burning lots of coal which has much more carbon and has a lower energy content than oil (i.e. lower EROEI). This is pushing up the carbon emissions to make up for it.

        This figure is from ORNL CO2 analysis center and really explains the rise in solid (i.e. coal) over liquid emissions

        And this one shows the growing gap between developed and developing countries

        Note that the developing countries also hold a production edge, and this will be bad news when they slow down the exports and decide to use the resources for their own growing economies.

      • Web, Your first chart shows something interesting to me. In 1930, coal was almost the sole source of fossil fuel energy and emission controls were nil. Current coal consumption is perhaps 5 times greater but we have much better emission controls at least in the developed world. I’m sure China is not far behind. My observation is that this would seem to imply that the growth of aerosol forcing could not have been as great as the current orthodoxy demands to make up the difference between greenhouse gas forcing and the seemingly way too small temperature increase.

      • “Global crude oil production is on the decline, while unconventional oil is only rising slowly.”

        Complete nonsense, fracking increased gas production 10X in PA the past 12 years. Global production is a at a peak by the way;

        https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2173.html#xx

        “Proven reserves” grossly understate actual supplies. 8 x in the U.S for example; http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=961f1950-802a-23ad-46fa-ef152c585de5

        The fact that much of the supply is nationalized reduces production and increases costs is a key issue. Much of the surplus states are corrupt and socialistic. Regardless the general concept of “peak oil” is another cousin defeatist fantasy. Deregulation and privatization efforts would lower the world relative cost. Higher costs are also reflective of nationalized monetary policy (weak dollar policy).

      • Inhofe is not only anti-science, he is anti-knowledge.

        This is what’s in store with coal:

        http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/12/china-air-quality-catastrophe-its-back/249479/

      • “Inhofe is not only anti-science, he is anti-knowledge.”

        The ancient leftist tactic of claiming “we’re smarter than you, do what we say”.

        Pathetic.

        Your link has nothing to do with your “peak oil” fantasy, you’ve been refuted.

      • Web: Back in the day I helped train Inhofe’s staff, and I still keep my hand in. If you think we are anti-science or anti-knowledge you are just nuts. In fact skeptics tend to be the experts because they are criticizing the details, unlike MSM journalists for example, who just parrot the party line.

        Our concern is that the bogus CAGW scare is doing great harm to science in the public mind.

      • “Web: Back in the day I helped train Inhofe’s staff, and I still keep my hand in. If you think we are anti-science or anti-knowledge you are just nuts.”

        That’s not good, being associated with Inhofe’s other consultant, the fabricator Marc Morono. Inhofe just regurgitates the talking points that the money interests feed him. How many of the skeptics posting here have these insider political connections? I tune these people out.

        “In fact skeptics tend to be the experts because they are criticizing the details, unlike MSM journalists for example, who just parrot the party line.”

        Skeptics do not have an alternate explanation for +33 C. End of story.

      • Actually we are a dedicated bunch Web. I have worked with Congress for 18 years to stop people like you, with considerable success I might add. You clearly have no respect for democratic decision making, but that is true of a lot of greens. I have worked within the policy making system of this country my entire professional life and I am proud of that.

        Inhofe’s people work hard to understand the science, and they do. Nobody feeds them anything. As to specifics, Morano was Inhofe’s press secretary, not a consultant. And if you think the 33 degrees proves anything you are intellectually bankrupt (like most of AGW).

      • Web, Dude, that is what is in store in China. Nothing the West does is going to turn the Chinese government into geniuses. Since they, of course, have the best way, they have to make the same screw ups we did. That is the problem their over confidence in political ideology.

        There is a whole fruit cocktail of poor comparisons going on in this thread.

      • Actually we are a dedicated bunch Web. I have worked with Congress for 18 years to stop people like you, with considerable success I might add.

        Face it, you are a political operative, Wojick. The fact that you state that Morono was a press secretary and now claims to be an expert on energy with his Climate Despot site shows how hollow and shallow the side you run with is.

        As for myself, I have analyzed the data with the intent of understanding the environment we live in. In so doing, I have come across insight that your tunnel vision can only dream of. These are ideas that harness the renewable energy that we will likely count on.
        What motivates me is the enduring hate that your side spews. Your delusional side hasn’t even come close to stopping me.

      • The pollution in China is related to the increasing amount of coal they are burning with inadequate controls. It is recent circumstantial evidence to show how the hydrocarbon usage is shifting from oil to lower grades of fossil fuel.

      • Lower quality fuels? Good design can compensate for fuel quality. Over building crap designs is just crap and scrubbers but not using them was just stupid.

        http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es1025678

      • Lower quality fuels? Good design can compensate for fuel quality.

        There is an intrinsic property called Energy Returned on Energy Invested that you are missing here. Peat moss is a low quality fuel, so we will need lots more of it because of the low EROEI it provides, and even more if we bootstrap from the peat moss instead of deriving the processing energy from renewable sources.

      • David, in the context of economics he would be talking about diversity. He talked about “bet-hedging” which is the prudent approach to take when investing for the future in an uncertain environment. Therefore, investment in alternative practical, cheap, safe energy would be a big priority, but don’t throw all your eggs in the one basket, follow multiple possibilities. Investment in agricultural technology, not just to adapt to warm weather but also colder, not just dry but also wet.

        Continue to set difficult technological challenges such as was seen in the space race that took men to the moon. The actual goal is less important than the multitudes of problems that had to be solved along the way.
        Don’t ignore the risk from an asteroid impact. Definitely invest more in identification and solutions.

        Again returning to fossil fuels and alternative energy, you do not have to invoke global warming for fossil fuels to be seen as a dangerous and undesirable. It is difficult and dangerous to extract, expensive and dangerous to transport, and as a scarce resource, it has the potential to be the source of conflict which could harm far more people than warmer weather is likely to.

        I think the author is talking about fairly general technological advancement, investment in science for its own sake. We would be far better prepared for any eventuality if we make ourselves smarter and stronger, rather than reduce our capacity on the way to mitigating one fairly unlikely possibility.

        I thought the article was excellent.

      • I certainly do not agree that fossil fuels are dangerous and undesirable. They are the foundation of our civilization. If you want something dangerous and undesirable try nuclear weapons. But we have those too, don’t we.

      • My father was an engineer in the petrochemical industry (as well as other forms of mining). While you are absolutely correct to note that fossil fuels are the basis for our civilization, my father would tell you that oil and coal is difficult and dangerous extract and becoming more and more so. Take the recent disaster in the gulf of Mexico as an example, or the coal mine collapse in New Zealand as an example. It is dangerous and difficult to transport as well, with plenty of attendant accidents and requires quite a bit of energy to process into usable products. The BP refinery in Kwinana Western Australia, where he was head of engineering, was one of the most efficient refineries in the world (for a while). It was SECWA’s (the state energy commission) biggest customer using nearly 25% of all the power for the metropolitan area at the time.

        Nuclear power, by contrast, is far safer – far, far safer. And the dangers associated with nuclear are to do with trans-uranic products that are a result of using uranium as the fissile material – a choice made in the early days of nuclear power in order to create plutonium for nuclear weapons. Thorium was originally the front runner and could and should be the fuel source for the future. It is more abundant than uranium, more evenly distributed across the world and produces far less dangerous waste material.

        We use fossil fuels, because there is nothing to compare in terms of cost of production and density of energy. It’s the cheapest and most practical form of energy currently. But it is definitely not ideal and we do not need to invoke scare about global warming from emissions to justify trying to find better alternatives.

      • Paul in Sweden

        “We use fossil fuels, because there is nothing to compare in terms of cost of production and density of energy. It’s the cheapest and most practical form of energy currently. But it is definitely not ideal and we do not need to invoke scare about global warming from emissions to justify trying to find better alternatives.” Agnostic | December 6, 2011 at 11:45 am |

        Nobody would complain about the continued search for fossil fuel alternatives. Heck, as a kid in the 70s I was building solar ovens and soldering PV cells together thinking that I could power my neighborhood. The objection is about the forced use of costly technologies & implementation of policies that serve only to enrich Global Warming Industry concerns & often at a high cost to our environment & economy and do not even reduce the CO2 which is alleged by warmists to cause rain, drought, snow, no-snow, etc

        The effects of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Policies are already being felt and it is worse than we thought!

      • I completely agree Paul. My objection and I think the authors objection is that hamstringing economic development and focussing to heavily on costly impractical solutions to what is very likely a non-problem prevents development of technology generally that can broadly help us adapt to anything the future may throw at us – of which climate change is a possible player.
        In just the previous thread, it was pointed out by a farmer that investment in agriculture has dropped significantly. It’s broad spectrum adaptation and capability developpment that should be the focus and not the narrow focus on reducing emissions, or pointlessly taxing or capturing carbon.

      • FWIW, I agree with you.

        However, even an article proposing a general strategy should have some details illustrating how the general strategy is to be implemented now. You could say that Energy Secretary Chu is carrying out a general strategy initiated by Pres. George W. Bush, and subsequently enlarged by him and then enlarged even more under Pres. Obama. If so (and there are not particulars to confirm or deny), then the strategy outlined by the author is in place, and the author is a little behind in the debate.

  20. Basically, tackling global warming isn’t simple because:

    a) the developing world is following the West in lifting its people out of poverty through the provision of cheap energy (China now, with India to follow)

    b) there are deep structural problems with renewable energy, chiefly but not only, due to cost which may take a very long time to resolve, if ever.

    Of course, we already have a solution to low emissions at hand: nuclear in a variety of forms.

    • David Palmer –

      I’m not sure it is true to say we have a solution to low emissions at hand: nuclear…
      I’m not convinced the numbers add up.

      At a rough guess it would have taken about 7000 nuclear plants to have avoided the 50% increase in Co2 emissions since 1990. You can see that there isn’t a snowball’s hope of us ever keeping up with the increase in emissions let alone reducing them.

      This is happening at a time when most nations are becoming more anti-nuclear rather than less. I don’t see that changing any time soon. There are some interesting figures here –

      http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=cubic%20mile%20of%20oil&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FCubic_mile_of_oil&ei=3yLdTv3yF8-LhQf1x_nmCw&usg=AFQjCNF8jFHyKTv-Hw8js1XGUbWXV5XoEQ&cad=rja

      I’m not anti-nuclear myself – just a bit pragmatic…

      • Anteros and David Palmer

        I think you’ll find that current nuclear fission technology (including costs for the spent fuel problem) have significantly higher investment costs but can compete economically with coal over the long term as a source of electrical energy (even without a carbon tax).

        The problem with nuclear in today’s post Fukushima world is political rather than economic. Continuous fear mongering by environmental lobby groups has frightened the populations of many countries into rejecting nuclear power, no matter how cost effective it might be, with Fukushima acting as a trigger.

        France is an exception to this.

        Fast breeder reactors using thorium are being tested today. These will solve most of the spent fuel problem (but not the political one).

        I’m convinced that nuclear fusion will also be developed commercially some day in the future (if it isn’t blocked by politics or misguided efforts by environmental lobby groups)..

        There is no other alternate today to added fossil fuel fired electrical power generation other than nuclear. So if nuclear is rejected for political reasons, we are back to adding fossil fuel fired power generation plants to cover future needs.

        An alternate course (for Europeans, at least) would be to enter long-term electrical power contracts with France, who will expand its nuclear capacity to supply these contracts.

        Max

      • Max –

        I agree that the problem is primarily political, but that is huge and not getting smaller. I read somewhere that post-Fukushima the French are at an all-time low in terms of support for nuclear. I’m not sure they’re keen to replace their own reactors let alone building some to supply their neighbours.

        Maybe things will be different in 50 years or when either fossil fuels become prohibitively expensive or are taxed to be that way [I can't see either happening any time soon] but in the next few decades I don’t see the thousands upon thousands of reactors that would be needed to have an impact being built.

        Thorium is indeed intriguing as a long term prospect. Meanwhile, can you envisage 10,000 nuclear power stations spread round the world? 25 new ones every year for 400 years? Oh, of course, that would mean replacing each of them 8 times, so make that ~150 [?] a year for 400 years….

        And of course the countries with the power aren’t very keen on letting about 150 of the countries of the world having any nuclear material at all…….

        I’m making myself very pessimistic!

      • Anteros: At a rough guess it would have taken about 7000 nuclear plants to have avoided the 50% increase in Co2 emissions since 1990.

        That is 70 times the number that the U.S. has in operation right now, a number that could be achieved with consistent and persistent effort at R&D and continuous improvement in construction practices. In inflation-adjusted money costs, a current PWR costs less to construct than America’s last PWR. Physically and economically, it isn’t an impossibility, but as you note there is decreasing support for nuclear power worldwide. I hope that changes.

      • “Physically and economically, it isn’t an impossibility”
        Even so it will take many decades. It is not something that is coming on-line in the next 2-3 decades.

      • America’s 102 reactors were build in 25 years. The total construction capacity of the world is much greater than it was then. 7000 reactors in 3 decades is not an impossible dream. The inhibiting factors are (1) public worry over spent fuel and disasters and (2) cost reductions have been slow to occur because until recently no one has thought of mass producing them or their components. Before about 1980, the industry did not even consider (at least, not that I have read ) the cost and safety improvements from standardizing design, and designed almost every one de novo.

  21. Norm Kalmanovitch

    It’s actually quite simple to tackle considering that global warming ended by 1998 so there is nothing to tackle. With solar cycle 24 mimicking the Dalton Minimum that brought an extension of the Little Ice Age in the Early 1800’s it is highly likely that there won’t be any global warminf to tackle for at least the next two decades … so whats the big problem???

      • Lolwot –

        You naughty cherry-picker!

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997.6/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997.6/trend

        And it’s getting colder!! :)

      • Not on planet USA

      • Well, it is if you’re measuring from space….

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1997.6/plot/rss/from:1997.6/trend

        Looks like there’ll be “15 years of cooling” parties in February. Alarmists should be celebrating too! :)

      • Jesus would use UAH.

        RSS – Royal Society of Snobs?

      • Hm, I’m running out of ammo here.

        I’ll be back later in the La Nina… ;)

      • If warming had stopped in 1997, why is the trend from 1970-present higher than the trend 1970-1997?

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997.6/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997.6/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1970/to:1997.7/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1970/to:1997.7/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1970/trend

        The flat green line is at about +0.4C

        Yet the purple (1970-1997) trend line ends at +0.2C

        I think that only if the green line was at +0.2C too that would support the idea that global warming had stopped in 1997.

      • I would luv to discuss the hottest La Nina year in the instrument record, and its likely upward/neutral consequences for the longterm trend.

        lolwot – anteros has included that phenomenon in his comments in the past. He’s quite reasonable, and very sharp.

      • JCH – thank you for an unwarranted compliment.

        Yes lolwot – that has always struck me as a little bit of a counter-intuitive conundrum [hence I suddenly don't have any partisanship, just fascination]

        It reminds me of the Simpson paradox, but is a little different as it only has one variable. Depending on your perspective [and agenda, probably] you can either say “there has been 14 years of cooling” or that “the rate of warming has increased over the last 14 years.

        This graph shows it clearly –

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1979/plot/rss/from:1979/to:1997.5/trend/plot/rss/from:1997.5/trend/plot/rss/from:1979/trend

        And what makes it weirder (at first glance) is that both the decline in temperature and the increase in rate of warming can be statistically significant.

        The graph shows that the effect is created by an apparent discontinuity. It looks to me that it is quite possible for the ‘decline’ in temperature to go on for maybe 25 years, but still the rate of warming can have increased since the start of the decline…..

      • Lolwot –

        FWIW I agree that the longer trend probably takes precedence in a ‘what is the most important perspective’ contest. But don’t tell my sceptical friends that I said that ;)

      • The apparent paradox is related to the way linear regressions are calculated. The start and end points carry the greatest weight so over short periods just shifting by a couple of months can have a significant effect. The best way to understand what’s going on is to note that the optimum downward trend occurs when you start at the end of 2007, rather than at the peak of the spike in mid-2008 – this ensures you get more of the spike involved in weighting the linear regression at the beginning. If you start from 1979 the 1997-98 spike just isn’t as important.

        This is where r-squared values can be useful. The r-squared value for the RSS trend from December 1997 – October 2011 is 0.006. This suggests that the calculated trend over this period really doesn’t have much relationship with the changes over the time series at all. For comparison r-squared over the full RSS time series is 0.37.

      • JCH,

        ftp://ftp.ssmi.com/msu/graphics/tts/plots/rss_ts_channel_tts_global_land_and_sea_v03_3.png
        This is an interesting chart to discuss. Notice that the 93/94 event doesn’t get much press.

        Ryan seems to have noticed, http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/%7Emaue/tropical/global_running_ace.jpg

        And this one was missed by Tsonis and Douglass.

      • Captain Dallas,

        The TTS data is a big mish-mash of tropospheric and stratospheric influences. What you’re seeing in 93-94 are the effects of a sharp reduction in stratospheric aerosols after a spike caused by the 1991 Pinatubo eruption. This can be seen more easily in the pure lower stratosphere data.

      • PaulS,

        TTS is a bit of a mish mash, but if you look at the mid tropo versus strat you can make a rough extension of the relationship back in time. The two series were very disorganized prior to Pinitubo and appear to become more synchronized following. The continued shift in the ACE is an indication of the change in some energy relationships.

        Also you should notice that the 93/94 event is similar to an El Nino in appearance, not what I would expect with a change in aerosol forcing.

        I believe it is an indication of a synchronization trigger separate from the ENSO or aerosol forcing.

      • JCH –

        I would luv to discuss the hottest La Nina year in the instrument record, and its likely upward/neutral consequences for the longterm trend.

        I find that interesting also.

        What if that year had been in between (temperature-wise) the year prior and succeeding? My sense is that the overall trend would not be greatly affected (still upward), and that the trend from that year until now would show an upward trend rather than showing a “pause” as claimed by our much beloved “skeptics.” They’d have to shortened their beloved “pause” by at least another year or so.

      • When it comes to this climate stuff, has anybody else noticed the serendipity of synchronicity?

      • Captain Dallas,

        The significant fluctuations in TTS mostly appear to be caused by ENSO changes to the troposphere, with the exception of the 1991-1994 period which is partly influenced by Pinatubo. Going back to the TLS data you can see there is very little interannual fluctuation at all but then two huge spikes marking the 1982 El Chichon eruption and Pinatubo in 1991.

        The TTS data miss El Chichon and start high, during the strong 1987 El Nino – http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/mei/. Following that there is a drop due to the swing to La Nina conditions over 1988-89. There is then a swing back to moderate El Nino conditions around 1990-91, and then a later spike caused by the Pinatubo eruption.

        In the stratosphere these large volcanic eruptions cause a large amount of warming – check out the TLS anomaly maps here from June 1991. In the troposphere they have the opposite effect. Since the TTS data incorporates both stratospheric and tropospheric changes it results in a damped spike because the stratospheric changes are larger.

        The two series were very disorganized prior to Pinitubo and appear to become more synchronized following.

        Which two series are you talking about here? The TMT and TTS data are almost identical in terms of interannual fluctuations from 1987 to present, with the exception of a small extra spike over 1991-92.

      • Instead of serendipity, I tend to think in terms of parsimony and self-consistency. Parsimony is an alternate description of Occam’s razor, where we can use the simplest model to explain the results. Self-consistency is that all the pieces have to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. For GHG theory, the jigsaw puzzle stretches to Venus and Mars and back, with nary a missing piece.

        Serendipity may play a role when you see the aerosols canceling out some of the GHG effects, or the fact that we have hit a peak in crude oil production at about the same time as the CO2 concentration hits high levels. What do you think is serendipitous?

      • You guys done proving that all tides run out because the troughs in waves are lower than the crests?

        I thought we were past this sub-17-year nonsense already.

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/to:1932.125/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1932.125/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997.6/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1938/to:1952/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1959/to:1979/trend

        Just cut the curve into two equal length spans, and you see very much that HadCRUT could be argued as not rising at all in the first half of its record, and is sharply rising in the last half, even while shorter downward trend lines climb up this sharp rise, like the falling portion of waves on a rising tide.

        The question isn’t the period of the wave, but of the flood. In this case, the best explanation says the flood is due to CO2, and the tide will not fall again or come level while CO2 levels are elevated.

        And we’re in poor position to differentiate wave from tide, and where we use reliable methods the indications are mainly that the tide is rising and that it correlates to CO2.

      • Bart R –

        Nice graphic.

        Problem is, many people here are very motivated to see things irrespective of what is actually there.

        Can you put some numbers on the extra significance of 17 years over, say, 15? How does it compare to the difference between 17 and 20? I only ask because the down-side of setting out a marker at a slightly arbitrary 17 years is that it will give a great deal more ammunition to those with an agenda when a 2012/13 La Nina allows Hadcrut and RSS to show 17 years of cooling. I don’t think it means any more than you do, but the seeing is going to be very vocal….

      • Anteros

        Everyone is, generally, motivated to see things that aren’t there.

        The oversimplified approach I take, while visually persuasive to a fault — that is, too compelling, too clear, to trust entirely — is just an example of that.

        That it also happens to represent the best explanation doesn’t excuse applying sloppy thinking to it.

        So, I refer to Santer et al. on signal:noise for the general data-dependent 17-year figure.

        That is, 17-year trends run opposite the century-scale trends in less than 5% of cases. One time in twenty, you expect a 17-year trend to be falling on a rising trend, or rising on a falling trend, on the data.

        And I note I had a downward trend in excess of 17 years on the clearly rising portion of my graph.. About one in twenty do.

        I believe, but haven’t done the math, that BEST in its last third has data that supports a 15-year trend line at this level, and in its first third doesn’t produce as good results.

        There are excellent mechanical reasons explaining the waves and troughs — the PDO has approximately a 46-53 year period, the AMO a 60-ish year period, the Hale Cycle about 22 years, other strong decadal ocean effects are known to contribute to global trends, too. Superposition of these (by themselves weak) trends can infrequently (so long as they agree within about five years of their peaks) lead to very high or very low phases, on top of the other large influences such as volcanoes and mega-forest fires.

        Right now, the PDO is on the way to its nadir, and the AMO is just passing its peak; we ought have seen a rather moderate decade instead of the warmest decade in at least two centuries (and maybe in over a millennium).

        Indeed, Dr. Orssengo (though his graphical techniques are truly abhorent) has guessed a 65 year (almost 4 times the 17 year minimum!) is appropriate to remove the epicyclic trends caused by superposition of decadal oscillations. It’s hamhanded, there are better mathematical techniques, but it works really well up until about the 1950’s, after which, again, the temperature trends upward in close correlation with CO2 level.

        All of this ought be seen against the backdrop of how truly abysmal the data we have to work with is for the purpose we seek. We don’t monitor the ocean or atmosphere nearly intensively enough, and would wish a millennium at least of about a hundred times more intensive measurement, to be trying to make the claims we are pursuing.

        Our best approach is to apply the Physics and the Chaos Theory we know and produce the best Risk Profile we can, I think.

        That Risk Profile tells us we might carry on with little to no impact for some span of time before sudden and profound changes that will be costly to adapt to, however that span of time is more greatly curtailed the higher the CO2 level becomes. At present, the span appears to have fallen from the ten millennium or more range to the century scale.

  22. The notion that increased uncertainty about the future makes more compelling the argument in favor incurring certain costs today may be the dumbest thing Krugman has ever written. And that is saying a lot.

    There is a level of stupidity in this argument that transcends any possibility of intelligent understanding. When you start with a desired policy in mind and thrash around to embrace any and every theory proffered to support said policy, you will inevitably get brain injuries such as this.

  23. from article
    “So what should we do about the real danger of global warming? In my view, we should be funding investments in technology that would provide us with response options in the event that we are currently radically underestimating the impacts of global warming.”

    I think the most reasonable investment is space exploration.

    It is possible, we could pick up all humans and an eco-system and take it off this planet, within say 100 year time period.
    By which I don’t mean it should done, but it is potential possible.
    What would far easier would blocking say 10% of the Sunlight hitting earth- could do that within say 50 years. Stopping 10% of total sunlight reaching earth should do more to stop any crazy person’s idea of how hot earth could get. If could be done now, it should quickly bring about an ice age.
    And rather than block the sun, something similar could add 10% to sunlight hitting earth, and if we in an ice age, would result in quickly returning us to a warmer period.

    Now the idea is not to spend vast fortunes at the moment planning and executing leaving earth, or making a sun shade.
    The idea is to invest in space exploration, so that in future we do any of those type options, for less costs and in a shorter time period before they could be accomplished. Or to increase our ability to leave or alter this planet- and other wild things, like prevent asteroid from hitting earth.

    The purpose of such space exploration is to determine what resources in space could profitably used in the near term.
    The most obvious example, is mining water on the Moon and making rocket fuel from that water.
    There is probably 1 trillion dollars worth of water of water on the Moon. There is without much doubt billion of dollar worth.
    Before lunar water can be mined it needs more precise exploration. At this point we are at the point where we know there is oil in the middle east- where exactly and how exactly isn’t known.
    NASA should do this. It should do this now, and it would cost about 2 billion more added to their budget for such a mission. At moment NASA is sort of planning on doing this, but lacks enough funds to do this now, opposed doing it a decade or so in the future [if ever].
    If you think the govt can not afford this amount of money [causes it's wasted trillions of dollars on more pointless projects], one could simply offer a tax benefit [a very significant tax benefit] to any investors
    who invest monies needed to explore and then mine the Moon.
    In others if any party who to spend the required capital, and they make a huge profit for this investment then they get to keep those profits, instead paying taxes on that profit.
    So lavish “reward” if someone does something you may regard as completely unprofitable, and the pay out is only if someone these people do the impossible. So no costs, only possible lost of an opportunity to future tax lunar mining and rocket fuel sales in space- dubious you should tax that anyhow. This isn’t my idea. It’s called zero space tax:

    http://www.spaceprojects.com/tax/

    Gingrich is actually aware of such ideas- but it’s
    not new idea, been out there for decade of so. Not been easy to pass Congress and made into law.
    I would prefer that 2 billion in addition would given to NASA each year- or basically restore NASA’s budget, as it’s budget has been flat to declining for years whereas all the useful things like Dept of Education budget is doubling every decade or so.

  24. “dumbest thing Krugman has ever written”

    You could fill many bookshelves of debate with such a contest.

    • If Krugman were a free enterprise advocate he would be given the following prefix

      the former Enron adviser Krugman…..

      as it is this is never mentioned in the MSM.

      • Nor the fact that Gore was a Director of Lehman Bros when it went down

        The point is the persistent and blatant hypocrisy of the MSM, of course

  25. Aside what I wrote above the article and sympathy for it is a petty attempt to sieze the high ground of “good intentions” as if AGW was actually a noble cause instead of power and money grubbing armpit which historically it always was and remains.

    There’s a trial in Cambodia attempting the same logic at the moment;

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/12247601/accused-says-khmer-rouge-not-bad-people/

    Good intentions gone wrong? I don’t think so in either case so we shouldn’t buy the presentations at all.

  26. Willis Eschenbach

    I gotta confess, Paul Krugman takes the cake with this statement:

    Now, despite the high credibility of climate modelers, there is still tremendous uncertainty in their long-term forecasts. But as we will see shortly, uncertainty makes the case for action stronger, not weaker. So climate change demands action.

    Or as Jim Manzi, the author of the New Republic article puts it, he agrees with Krugman that

    … increasing uncertainty in our forecasts strengthens the case for action.

    If anything encapsulates the “Bizarro World” logic of climate science, it is the idea that the more uncertain our forecasts of future climate are, the stronger the case for action. Take that one to its logical extreme for me …

    w.

    PS—The idea that our climate modelers have “high credibility” comes in a close second.

    • “no regrets”, “precautionary principle” are all similar to the article, white wash the abusive history and intentions of AGW efforts is never having to own up to the MASTER PLAN that has little to do with science or the common good. Letting AGW crawl back to the left-wing academic and science incubator to reinvent itself is a terrible error. Sadly Dr. Curry is blocking and tackling for exactly such efforts.

      “In my view, we should be funding investments in technology that would provide us with response options in the event that we are currently radically underestimating the impacts of global warming.”

      This is the old late 70’s rationalization; even if climate science claims are wrong the policy is correct. There use to be lots of whining about SO2 reductions that was linked to pro-carbon regulation, Earth Day crowds of the 60’s. The lunatic left still eats this stuff up so the article is about consolidating a politcal base. No surprise at all it’s in the New Republic.

      The parrallel of AGW and Keynesian economic “consensus” and failure is easy enough to follow, small wonder Krugman who lives, drinks and spews that poison daily is attacted to an evil cousin; AGW mitigation policy. That it’s all based on central planning solutions at the expense of individual liberty shouldn’t be missed either. Krugman, NYTimes, New Republic, AGW, Keynesian central planning….these are hard dots to connect?

    • Increased uncertainty makes the catastrophic plausible. That’s the problem.

      We aren’t talking about rising levels of baked beans here. We are talking about a very significant gas being elevated far beyond levels seen for millions of years and all in the space of a century or two.

      If we have no idea what will happen that does make the case for action stronger.

      • I always thought that increased uncertainty meant one was approaching cluelessness. Clueless action leads to catastrophic results or at least humorous videos.

      • Well we hold the control switch. We can determine whether CO2 level rises or stops by either choosing to continue or cut emissions.

        The uncertainty is more to do with what changes there will be to the planet if Earth’s atmosphere becomes 600ppm CO2.

      • LOL LOLWOT, Responsible action is the key. Land use can have every bit as much impact as CO2. You have a limited view of a much bigger picture if you think there is A magic bullet. There are no panaceas and Santa Claus doesn’t really exist.

      • …and Santa Claus doesn’t really exist.

        I wouldn’t have pegged you to be part of the global war on Christmas.

      • “Land use can have every bit as much impact as CO2.”

        Land use changes are limited geographically, successive, varied and reversible. A screw up in one case can be learned from elsewhere. But we have only one chance with CO2. We cannot go to another Earth if it doesn’t work out.

      • “We can determine whether CO2 level rises or stops by either choosing to continue or cut emissions.”

        Like we can choose to eat or not to eat…

      • “a very significant gas being elevated far beyond levels seen for millions of years”

        Of course lolwot. And The Romulans are massing along the edge of the Neutral Zone.

        Andrew

      • That you can’t address the actual issue demonstrates why you are blind to the threat.

        Reid Bryson did something similar when he bizarrely claimed the effect of doubling CO2 was akin to spitting.

        Those who don’t appreciate the facts won’t understand the problem.

      • “That you can’t address the actual issue demonstrates why you are blind to the threat.”

        lolwot,

        I am addressing the issue. The issue is that you are an unknown entity commenting unsupported assertions. You might as well assert that you understand Matter and Anti-Matter Containment Fields and Warp Drive. It’s the same thing.

        Andrew

      • Your words make it clear you think CO2 isn’t a significant gas.

        To believe this you must believe CO2 doesn’t absorb infrared. You think CO2 doesn’t fertilize plants. You think CO2 doesn’t reduce ocean pH when it dissolves into the oceans.

        You also make it clear you think CO2 levels are not being elevated far beyond levels seen for millions of years. Which means you don’t believe ice cores and other CO2 paleo records.

        Of course you will probably squeal now that you never said these things specifically, but how else to reconcile your attack on my factual point that CO2 is “a very significant gas being elevated far beyond levels seen for millions of years”

        You obviously found SOME problem with that statement. But you refuse to state what forcing me to guess what you mean.

      • Your opposition to my statements I suspect is because if you had to accept the significance of the changes our species are making to atmospheric CO2 levels it would make it a lot harder for you to deny the threat.

        The threat is only ignorable as long as you live in a bubble where CO2 is just an irrelevant gas that has no impact on the environment.

      • “Your words make it clear you think CO2 isn’t a significant gas.”

        lolwot,

        Au Contraire, I think CO2 is just as significant as every other gas.

        Andrew

      • Paul in Sweden

        “The threat is only ignorable as long as you live in a bubble where CO2 is just an irrelevant gas that has no impact on the environment.”
        lolwot | December 6, 2011 at 10:44 am

        No, lolwot CO2 thus far has only been found to be significant when observed in a isolated bubble or in the fabrications of climate models. CO2 has yet to be observed to be significant in our dynamic non-linear stochastic climate system.

      • “No, lolwot CO2 thus far has only been found to be significant when observed in a isolated bubble or in the fabrications of climate models.”

        Oh really

      • “Au Contraire, I think CO2 is just as significant as every other gas.”

        Where’s nitrogen in the earth emission spetrum I posted above then?

      • Where is nitrogen in the atmospheric spectrum? Ain’t much there, good thing the problem is simplified to just radiant properties or this table would be a real PITA

        http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/air-properties-d_156.html

        Then the condensable gas issues, all those critical temperatures and pressures. Good thing only radiant transfer matters or it could get complicated :)

      • lolwot,

        UCAR looks like a Global Warming Advocacy site:

        “The warmer atmosphere will also mean heavier rains and snows when it storms, rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities, more severe dry spells where it’s dry, and more wildfires.”

        https://www2.ucar.edu/climate/what-difference-can-few-degrees-make

        Andrew

      • They just can’t help but go dippin’ in the catastrophe well, can they? It’s irresistable to them. That’s where all the trails go- to The Troubled Waters that inflame the passionate Earth Lover.

        You fill up my senses…come fill me again! ;)

        Andrew

      • Paul in Sweden

        lolwot | December 6, 2011 at 11:05 am

        lolwot, the data of the observed effect of CO2 on our Climate does not seem to appear on the graph you posted, perhaps you could check your link.

    • randomengineer

      PS—The idea that our climate modelers have “high credibility” comes in a close second.

      Word choices are always informative.

      When you are dealing with someone you don’t know very well and he tells you right off the bat (for no reason) that he’s an ethical businessman, this is a sign to back off — he ain’t the least bit ethical. “High credibility” mentioned as it was is similar. It’s precisely the opposite, otherwise there would be no reason to mention it.

  27. On the topic of global warming, Krugman has time and time again shown himself to be wretchedly ill-informed.

    • Keynesian worship = Central Planning Solutions

      AGW worship = Central Planning Solutions

      Politically AGW and Keynesian economic management are very similar in goals and results. Top down experts of unproven but politically convenient “science” saving (controlling) the world through “policy”.

  28. It ain’t that complicated. More often than not the best thing to do is nothing. If you have to do something, plants some trees, start a garden or do a linear no threshold model to analyze the dangers of scouring powder like Ralph does. There is tons of stuff to be scared of that cost less money to not fix.

    • Ian Blanchard

      Absolutely agree. In the case of climate science, where we only have a relatively short record of good quality observations (especially satellite measurements), THE key way uncertainty will be reduced will be through the passage of time. More time gives the opportunity both to constrain the observations (and derived sensitivity) and to work out what (if anything) is required in terms of effective mitigation and/or adaption. And in the meantime technology will continue to develop for other reasons (e.g. increasing price and scarcity of fossil fuels making the development of viable alternative power generating technologies viable). Big Oil isn’t going to go away when they can no longer produce enough oil, they’ll be at the heart of hydrogen fuel cell development and anything else that they think will make them money.
      At the moment we are in a spell where global average temperature appears to have plateaued rather (at a high level), and even some of the vociferous climate scientists seem to be suggesting that this may stay as the case for at least a few more years. As such, there doesn’t seem to be an enormous urgency in the requirement to act to prevent catastrophic warming.

      The absurdity of ‘more uncertainty = greater necessity for action’ has already been pointed out. A second issue with the report is the mis-representation of Pascal’s wager – the issue is that Pascal’s belief in God (and consequent possible admission to heaven) required little cost on his behalf, and therefore was worth his while even if he was wrong (i.e. there was a big potential upside of uncertain probability and minimal downside). The CAGW invokation of this is inaccurate as it is necessitating a desicion with a very significant up-front cost against the uncertain side of the balance.

      • Ian Blanchard: the issue is that Pascal’s belief in God (and consequent possible admission to heaven) required little cost on his behalf, and therefore was worth his while even if he was wrong (i.e. there was a big potential upside of uncertain probability and minimal downside).

        The fatal flaw is always to consider too few alternatives. If Pascal wagers in favor of Christ and Allah is there; or if Pascal wagers for Allah and Christ is there, then the loss is infinite.

        There are many ways to end civilization soon, and all of them are uncertain. It is impossible to invest everything in preventing all of them.

      • “There are many ways to end civilization soon, and all of them are uncertain. It is impossible to invest everything in preventing all of them.”

        What changes are we making on a global scale that are anywhere near as profound as CO2 level?

        CO2 level has a strong radiative influence, a strong impact on ocean pH and a strong influence on plants themselves. Not to mention the indirect effect on temperature which then affects in turn even more things (well almost virtually everything). There is nothing so ubiquitous as the CO2 changes we are making.

        It wouldn’t be like this but for the fact CO2 has started so low and thus our contribution is massive in comparison enabling it to be doubled or even tripled in a matter of centuries.

      • What changes are we making on a global scale that are anywhere near as profound as CO2 level?

        You forgot that it was claimed to be uncertain, and that the uncertainty implied the necessity for stronger and sooner action. So make a list of uncertain threats and apply the logic: the less certain, the more necessary to make strong and urgent action.

        It wouldn’t be like this but for the fact CO2 has started so low and thus our contribution is massive in comparison enabling it to be doubled or even tripled in a matter of centuries.

        The equilibration time is millenia, and the short-term consequences are small compared to the dramatic fluctuations that almost everyone experiences in a life time.

      • John Carpenter

        I would say land use changes coupled with the exponential growth of human population are both changes on a global scale as profound, if not more so, than atmospheric CO2 concentration.

      • The problem with Pascal’s Wager illustrated:

  29. Krugman, when he is not a spittle flecked maniac, is usually just wrong.
    Increasing levels of uncertainty, in the real world, do not support expensive action with unknown benefits and huge costs.
    Yet that seems to be the core argument of this article:
    We don’t know what is going to happen, the uncertaintly is massive, so let’s spend lots of dough.
    I would submit that in no other field of endeavor would more ignorance on a problem be used to make the case to spend a great deal of money on the alleged solution. If I found out my money was with a mutual fund whose investment advisor made investment decisions based on the core ideas of this article, I would move my money and seek legal remedy for any losses.

    • “Increasing levels of uncertainty, in the real world, do not support expensive action with unknown benefits and huge costs.”

      As an analogy:

      There is an asteroid heading towards Earth but scientists estimate it only has 0.1% chance of hitting the Earth and anyway it’s small so it’s only going to take out a small region the size of a US state and will probably end up in the ocean anyway. Everyone decides the odds are so low and the costs small enough that it’s not worth doing anything about it.

      But then the scientists realize their estimates are all wrong. Now they have no idea what chance it has of hitting the Earth except that it’ll pass close, and also they are no longer sure of it’s size either. It might be much smaller or much bigger than estimated. It might be large enough to wipe out the entire species.

      Everyone decides that this increased level of uncertainty does support expensive action with unknown benefits and huge costs.

      • John Carpenter

        it’s a poor analogy. In reality, once a near Earth asteroid is detected, the tracking of its orbit becomes quite exact.

        http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news141.html

        “Once a near-Earth asteroid is discovered, radar is the most powerful astronomical technique for measuring its physical characteristics and determining its exact orbit,” said Dr. Steven Ostro, a JPL scientist and a contributor to the paper. “To give you an idea of just how powerful – our radar observation was like pinpointing to within a half inch the distance of a basketball in New York using a softball-sized radar dish in Los Angeles.”

        couple that with the Yarkovsky Effect where asteroids propel themselves through space from sunlight energy and astronomers are able to predict how orbits will change over long periods of time, further decreasing the uncertainty.

        Here is a variant analogy; a gulf coast community deciding whether to spend large sums of money to prepare itself for a class 5 hurricane, even though it be a very low chance one would actually hit.

      • lolwot,
        Your analogy supports my point.
        Thanks.
        But to be specific, irt climate science, nothing that has happened since the 2004/2005 hurricane seasons has acted to increase the honest perception that CO2 is a bigger, as opposed to smaller, problem.
        And since 2009 it is clear that the idea of a CO2 caused crisis is not an idea based on facts or reality.

      • My analogy showed a case where increased uncertainty increases the case for action. So you agree. Okay.

        Why would you expect anything to happen since 2004/2005 to “increase the perception” that CO2 is a bigger problem?

        And why would that matter.

        As for “since 2009″ I have no idea what you are referring too. What piece of published science since 2009 has shown you what a 600ppm CO2 world looks like?

  30. In fact, it is the uncertainties in our understanding that are the most compelling driver of rational action.

    Huh???

    • I know – you couldn’t make it up!

      We should send in Dr Curry to save them from ‘Uncertainty Madness’ :)

    • P.E.”In fact, it is the uncertainties in our understanding that are the most compelling driver of rational action. Should that last word be inaction?

    • Simple — the less certain they are of the facts, the more certain they become that their desired policies must be enacted.

      • When the facts are ambiguous, ideology becomes the basis for decision. This is ideology’s role in reason.

      • Works both ways, David. Works both ways.

      • What is the second way, Joshua?

      • Two ways:

        1) Ideology drives view of the science towards either certainty or uncertainty. Do you think it mere coincidence that views on certainty correlate so dramatically with political ideology? Perhaps, for some ideology become operative in decision-making only after an objective assessment of facts leading to a determination of uncertainty (or certainty). From what I’ve seen, that is relatively rare.

        2) Ideology correlates with decisions on both sides of the debate.

      • In such matters as speculation about future states of the climate, there are no facts, therefore it is solely ideology that motivates action. Not so inaction – all that needs is common sense.

      • The determination of facts” related to the future state of the climate is relative. And further, IMO it is not coincidence that views on valid interpretation of the science is correlated with ideology. Overwhelmingly so.

        Now I know that some people think that it is only coincidental on their side of the debate, and causative on the other side of the debate. IMO, such a view only confirms my assertion.

        Research suggests that views on the certainty/uncertainty of climate change-related facts is much more highly correlated with starting cultural and ideological identities than knowledge about the science.

  31. Oddly enough, I agree with Krugman (gads! it makes my fingers hurt just to type that) as to this paragraph:

    ‘So what should we do about the real danger of global warming? In my view, we should be funding investments in technology that would provide us with response options in the event that we are currently radically underestimating the impacts of global warming. In the event that we discover at some point decades in the future that warming is far worse than currently anticipated, which would you rather have at that point: the marginal reduction in emissions that would have resulted up to that point from any realistic global mitigation program, or having available the product of a decades-long technology project to develop tools to ameliorate the problem as we then understand it?’

    This sounds very much like Andy Revkin’s ‘Energy Quest’ and is something that could and should be done irregardless of CAGW, AGW, CO2 politics, or petroleum politics.

    • Kip, your fingers know more than your brain. We might as well throw the virgins into the volcano with logic like this.

      Lower growth due to carbon rationing kills people, mostly the very poor. All for a collectivist fairy-tale.

      • Hey, CWON14, maybe I misunderstand what Krugman said there, but to me he says:
        ‘Forget carbon rationing, forget cap-and-trade, forget CO2 reductions. Spend our resources and efforts on finding energy production methods that will be zero CO2 producing, like new types of reactors, implement those, and the problem will have solved itself, because we will have available the product of a decades-long technology project to develop tools to ameliorate the problem as we then understand it?’

        I don’t think I’m reading that wrong, am I?

      • Get a clue Kip, he’s talking about a state run energy complex with targets on everything. He is a corrupt crony socialist after all.

        “Spend our resources and efforts on finding energy production methods that will be zero CO2 producing”, “Our” means someone else for his and his groups benefit.

      • Sorry, I didn’t realize your objections were to Krugman himself, not his proposal.

    • The problem is that ‘investing in technology’ means doing things that don’t make any sense. Here in the UK we have windmills everywhere and solar panels where the sun doesn’t shine. The electricity generated costs three times as much as it would otherwise and of course there still needs to be the fossil fuel turbines spinning away as back up…..

      R & D seems like a good idea, but there’s a limit to how much theoretical stuff you can get on with before starting to put things into practice that are barking mad. I think as long as some people somewhere are researching all the various options then, they can be rolled out at the appropriate time.

      I’m not a doomer, so I say let’s wait and see if global warming continues as predicted.

      • Anteros, c’mon, we know the world needs some better technology, to come as close as we can to producing nearly endless electricity at almost no cost (and with no downside like CO2), I don’t get that he means implementing silly windmills or trying to cover the desert with photo cells. I think he means throwing the money into something like advanced reactors or technology still totally unknown, and I agree with him on that.

      • Kip Hansen –

        If research is what you mean then I’m all for it. Thorium reactors – whatever. Advanced solar technology, tidal power – all of it!

        It just strikes me that half-baked, inefficient, token technologies are worse than useless.

        I’m not alarmed much by a warming planet, but fossil fuels are irremediably finite, so we may as well get on with looking at alternatives. My suspicion, though, is that rising prices is what will create the reality of pragmatic alternatives and we’ll find out what works the hard way – as always.

      • Then we agree in nearly every aspect of this. Good show! Cheers, Kip

      • Throwing money into “technology still totally unknown” – absolutely brilliant !! A true gem :)

      • The US S&T research budget is a zero sum game. Pumping money into energy related technologies takes money away from everything else worth studying. We presently spend at least $6 billion a year on energy technology research. More than enough, as there is no problem to solve.

      • David –

        Which form of energy receives no subsidization.

        What research funding area is free from critics who point to unintended consequences, market-distorting/competition-undermining effects, etc?

        More than enough, as there is no problem to solve.

        Even if you think that climate change is not worthy of concern, and even if you consider it certain that spending on new energy technologies brings a negative return on investment, there are many legitimate concerns that are addressed through spending on new energy technologies.

      • Well the R&D has mostly been done. We can now use laser separation to cheaply purify chlorine-37. Up to now one of the major problems using a thorium/uranium/plutonium salt reactor has been the choice of anion. Most have used fluoride, which has nasty chemistry with regard to making HF.
        Chloride was out as 35Cl captures 5 times more neutrons than does 37Cl. 35Cl also generates 36Cl, a long-lived radionuclide that is a real pain for waste management.

        Using laser separation, we could have 37Cl-Salt Salt Very High Temperature Reactors. These can burn all the depleted uranium and thorium in storage could provide the fuel after the initial fissile, plutonium, loading.
        The very high temperatures allow highly efficient He turbines or direct H2 generation of thermolysis of water.

    • Alex Heyworth

      Kip Hansen, that quote isn’t Krugman, it’s Jim Manzi.

      • Alex, I think you’re right. JC doesn’t actually give Manzi’s name in the post, but following the link to the article reveals him. Not a very clear delineation between his introduction of Krugman’s ideas and the shift back to his own voice.
        At least now maybe cwon14 will feel better about the suggestion, unless he has the same feelings about Manzi as he does about Krugman.
        I feel better myself, I have had a perfect record of disagreement with Krugman until yesterday…now my record is perfect once again.

  32. Deciding what to do about AGW? It is not hard to figure that out. The trick, of course, it to place in the proper context. First off, a group of scientists believe they have identified a potential problem. Some of them even believe there is a remote possibility that it could be of catastrophic magnitude. Next, there is an extensive history of natural and man-made catastrophic episodes in human history.

    We must plan to deal with future AGW based problems along with all others such as wars, earthquakes, floods, disease epidemics, etc. Of course, less common problems such large asteroid impacts and even space alien attacks must be considered. Placing all of our efforts into preventing or preparing for only one of these possible problems would certainly reduce our capability to survive the others.

    Our next step is obviously not to simply choose one possible problem an focus all our efforts on preventing or preparing for it. We must choose a path that will preferably increase our ability to survive all of the potential future problems we may encounter. However, all possible problems are not of equal likelihood or potential danger. Preparation for an alien attack from outer space can likely be handled with a manilla folder in a U.N. file cabinet. Earthquakes, on the other hand, are not just likely, they are quite frequent and occasionally very damaging so much greater effort is justifiable.

    The next step is actually examining how efforts to deal with non-AGW problems might need to be modified to encompass projected AGW effects. That is the real area of decision making about AGW. How might ongoing efforts to deal with exiting sea shore problems such as hurricane flooding, tsunamis, land subsidence, erosion, and alluvial flooding be impacted by AGW driven sea level changes? How will projected AGW effects on weather impact food production beyond the variability historically encountered? … and so on.

    Of course, there is another big question: What if there are no future AGW problems, either from no further warming occurring or over estimation of potential impacts? Will efforts to prevent potential AGW caused problems significantly damage our ability to deal with other problems if AGW is below expected values?

    A common theme in the subject AGW is the claim by some scientist that there is a non-zero probability that AGW and its impacts could be globally catastrophic and that efforts to prevent them should take precedence over world economic development. This, of course, is a very poor argument. The same could be said for asteroid impacts and alien invasions. In fact, we have adequate examples that catastrophic asteroid impacts happen on a fairly regular basis, while, on the other hand, there is no record of runaway global temperature spikes.

    To cut this short, the answer to the question of what to do about global warming is to improve the planetary population’s ability to deal with all problems. That, of course, means economic development, especially in currently undeveloped regions. It does not mean simply sending money from developed regions to undeveloped regions. It means improving industry, farming, and infrastructure to support them.

    • “A common theme in the subject AGW is the claim by some scientist that there is a non-zero probability that AGW and its impacts could be globally catastrophic and that efforts to prevent them should take precedence over world economic development. This, of course, is a very poor argument. The same could be said for asteroid impacts and alien invasions. In fact, we have adequate examples that catastrophic asteroid impacts happen on a fairly regular basis, while, on the other hand, there is no record of runaway global temperature spikes.”

      AGW is far more imminent – the next two or three centuries will be impacted by whether we decide to continue pushing CO2 levels higher or not.

      We should prepare a defense for asteroids anyway but the risk of one of catastrophic size hitting us in the next two centuries is tiny by virtue of how infrequently the Earth has been hit by such ones in the past. We probably have more to worry about from what’s beneath our feet than over our heads. Either way these are geological timescale kind of events whereas AGW is a society timescale event.

      As for aliens it’s not something we can defend against. Against nature we can use technology but against superior technology we have nothing.

      • lolwot,

        “AGW is far more imminent – the next two or three centuries will be impacted by whether we decide to continue pushing CO2 levels higher or not.”

        Darn, I was hoping science and technology would advance over the next two or three centuries so we might be able to better take care of ourselves. To bad my grand children’s, grand children’s, grand children’s, grand children’s, grand children’s, grand children will have to deal with the problem without that advantage.

      • lolwot,
        You can assert CO2 is a pressing threat all you want, but that is a faith based claim by you, and not one supported by any reasonable reading of the facts.

      • lolwot: AGW is far more imminent – the next two or three centuries will be impacted by whether we decide to continue pushing CO2 levels higher or not.

        If progress in alternative energy supplies progresses as well in the next century as it has in the last decade, then humans will have abundant energy. from non-fossil fuels. We don’t know that the progress will continue, but possibilities have not been exhausted. The principal worry is about how good or bad the second half of the 21st century will be. Alarmists like James Hansen think it will be bad on present trajectories; lukewarmers do not think so.

  33. Reading the excerpts from Caizza’s arguments gave me a sense of deja-vu. Bjorn Lomborg would appreciate these arguments as he has put similar ones forward. First, there was his earlier work in Sceptical Environmentalist and then the edited reports from the Copenhagen Consensus. In terms of cost/benefits the latter reports put the benefits of mitigation spending well behind those for other major problems. Over the last couple of years I’ve not seen anything that would change my mind either from economists or climate specialists.

    • Lomborg used a different, and higher, discount rate for global warming than for the other problems. Use the same rate and the table changes radically. This is called discounting seconds.

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

      “As with the 2004 project, Lomborg’s ranking scheme placed efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions last. Gary Yohe, one of the authors of the global warming paper, subsequently accused Lomborg of “deliberate distortion of our conclusions”,[9] adding that “as one of the authors of the Copenhagen Consensus Project’s principal climate paper, I can say with certainty that Lomborg is misrepresenting our findings thanks to a highly selective memory”. Kåre Fog further pointed out that the future benefits of emissions reduction were discounted at a higher rate than for any of the other 27 proposals,[10] stating “so there is an obvious reason why the climate issue always is ranked last” in Lomborg’s environmental studies.

      In a subsequent joint statement settling their differences, Lomborg and Yohe agreed that the “failure” of Lomborg’s emissions reduction plan “could be traced to faulty design”.[11]“

  34. It l;ooks like there is a misprint in the article, as it says “Krugman is correct, in my view, that … increasing uncertainty in our forecasts strengthens the case for action.”, yet the article goes on to argue the opposite.

    Unless by ‘action’ he means “maximize total technical capabilities” and “maintain a democratic political culture”. Not I think what most people would understand by ‘action’.

  35. I think Krugman failed to consider the uncertainty inherent in the “fat tail.”

  36. Earlier, I praised aspects of Jim Manzi’s article while finding it somewhat misguided in focusing on temperature “fat tails” as opposed to the fat tail in the duration of excess atmospheric CO2, which can mediate climate consequences for centuries. In rereading the article, I also visited the link to Nordhaus, whose effort struck me as well intentioned, logical, disconcerting, and ultimately problematic.

    Manzi’s article includes the following statement: “The expected economic benefits of emissions mitigation do not cover its realistically expected costs.” From his article, it might seem that this was a Nordhaus conclusion, but in fact, it appears to relate specifically to the Waxman/Markey legislation that was then under consideration in Congress. Nordhaus used his model to evaluate a range of mitigation scenarios, and reported on the cost/benefit ratios for each, without drawing the conclusion quoted above. He suggested that a variety of carbon pricing strategies would be valuable in arriving at a reasonable future mitigation scenario. This makes economic sense, because as the price of carbon rises, the extraction of fossil fuels from less accessible reserves becomes increasingly unprofitable, and the use of alternative energy, combined with increased efficiency and with conservation becomes more and more attractive.

    My concern with the Nordhaus effort, or more properly its implications, is basically twofold. First, certain potential outcomes of future temperature rise within the limits he looks at (3 C or in some cases 2 C), are potentially severe even though that level of warming is not extremely improbable if one doesn’t arbitrarily limit the timescale to the twenty-first century (Nordhaus looks beyond that time point). This is particularly true for sea level rises, which I will use here as illustration although climate change involves many other consequences as well. A rise of one meter has been estimated to threaten the lives and welfare of somewhere along the lines of one hundred million people due to flooding per se and the threat of storm surges. This level is more likely than not to be reached with continued CO2 emissions, although the timing is uncertain. Current rates, if maintained linearly, would raise sea levels by only about one-third this amount by 2100. On the other hand, the previous (Eemian) interglacial was characterized by a warming only about 2 C greater than current temperatures on a global average, associated with about an 8 meter sea level rise. We don’t have good data on how long that took, or the shape of the curve, but it makes 1 meter or even 2 or 3 meter future rises probable enough to be taken seriously. It involves uncertainty, but not extreme improbability.

    A second concern arises if we limit our concern to a 1 meter rise, which is probable at some point simply due to contributions from the West Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets. One of Nordhaus’s main points is that the cost/benefit analysis he models entails an evaluation of how well a future world that has husbanded its resources and enriched itself through technology and investment can deal with consequences like this if it doesn’t waste investment on mitigation strategies. The principle he states is simple: if we become a richer world, we can handle these difficulties, and the result is that at some cost level, it is more cost effective to become affluent enough to control future damages than to waste money on preventing them.

    To his credit, Nordhaus states this principle in economic terms, and makes no claims as to whether this calculus is wise from any other perspective. However, when we consider cost/benefit calculations, it’s always a good idea to ask, “Costs for whom? Benefits to whom?”. In this case, it’s clear that the costs of mitigation can be distributed in ways we can control, whereas the costs of failing to mitigate are likely to be borne by a much different group, including millions of coastal inhabitants of poor countries who have no recourse other than to suffer if their land is surrendered to the sea. Or do they? Is it possible that in a much richer world, the affluent nations will protect these people through enormous subsidies that include both physical barriers against the sea and the cost of population relocation on a massive scale? I actually don’t know the answer. Even the poor nation of Bangladesh has undertaken some barrier measures to reduce storm surge impacts, with some apparent success. My guess is that if the future is like the past, some help will arrive, but less than needed, and many will be left to bear the brunt of the impact.

    This, however, is why economic cost/benefit figures, as naked averages, conceal as much as they reveal. If I eat better in the future and gain 50 pounds (of muscle, not fat), while you starve and lose 30 pounds of healthy tissue, we have gained weight on average, but is that the best outcome?

    My question is not completely rhetorical, because it is possible philosophically to make a case that the suffering of even a sizable fraction of our species is worth the benefits that accrue to everyone else. Still, it’s a question that needs to be asked before acting on the basis of a cost/benefit estimate, even when fat tails are not the issue.

    • Fred, I like your little essay, and I like this observation from crosspatch below: I’m sorry, I am just not seeing much to be afraid of. The cause of the warming from the ’70s to the ’00s was probably the same as that from ’10 to ’40 … continued recovery from the LIA and I would hope that we have at least one more such spell in about 25 years from now. If we don’t and instead go into any considerable cooling, life is going to get pretty hard in a lot of places.

      It relates to this of yours: In this case, it’s clear that the costs of mitigation can be distributed in ways we can control, whereas the costs of failing to mitigate are likely to be borne by a much different group

      I doubt that you specify or control who bears the opportunity costs of mitigation (that is, other wealth-creating investments foregone) in the case that mitigation (CO2 reduction) turns out to be ineffectual.

    • These are interesting issues Fred. I don’t think equity is easy to quantify economically and some will always suffer more than others often due to accidents of history. There is no solution to this problem. Life is full of challenges and problems and the solutions are always imperfect. I’m still an optimist and believe that as technology gets better we will find solutions. However, if we become poorer we might also stifle the growth of the science and technology we will need in the future. In my view, that’s the problem with mitigation if it ushers in an era of scarcity. If that were the case, it would lose support anyway. Perhaps that is what is happening now anyway.

  37. I agree with increased funding for real solutions.
    And now that we have NASA admitting that LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions formerly and incorrectly know as Cold Fusion) is real, this is where a big piece of money should go.
    Presentations from a recent NASA LENR Conference obtained under FIOA are interesting.

    http://blog.newenergytimes.com/2011/12/04/slides-from-sept-22-nasa-lenr-innovation-forum-workshop/

    Two interesting quotes,
    The 2 decades of experiments and the weak interaction theories have removed the existential risk, what is remaining is to ENGINEER for improved performance.

    BTW –LENR [ also] solves Global Climate and Energy…..

  38. It seems to me that if I take this to its logical conclusion then I should expend infinite resources on threats I know nothing about and zip on those I understand completely. The inmates are, in fact, running the asylum.

  39. Nobody has shown a reason yet why it is necessary to “tackle” global warming. I notice in the HadCRUT3 data that the earth warmed from 1910 to 1940 at just about the same rate and duration as the warming from the 1970s to around 2000. The slope and duration of the warming is nearly identical. We are supposed to believe that the earlier warming was natural and the later increase with anthropogenic. Why? After the 1940’s, the climate leveled off for about 30 years. So far after the warming ended in around 2000 it has leveled off.

    I’m sorry, I am just not seeing much to be afraid of. The cause of the warming from the ’70s to the ’00s was probably the same as that from ’10 to ’40 … continued recovery from the LIA and I would hope that we have at least one more such spell in about 25 years from now. If we don’t and instead go into any considerable cooling, life is going to get pretty hard in a lot of places.

    • Come on we don’t just point to recent warming and say it must be man-made. You haven’t mentioned the reason we give for expecting warming in this period.

      What’s the logic to assume the cause of warming from the 70s is the same as in the early 20th century? “Recovery from the little ice age” is not a cause and presumes for no given reason that the planet must “recover” from something. Besides we have long ago surpassed temperatures before the little ice age, we “recovered” long ago.

      Another spell in 25 years, we are already near the peak of temperature going back thousands of years. You say if we go into any considerable cooling life is going to get pretty hard, but how come? how was life pretty hard in the 70s?

      Also we are not going to cool, even skeptics admit there is a significant amount of warming lined up from CO2. More than enough to make cooling this century unfeasible.

      It’s not just about temperature either. Ocean pH too.

  40. Paul in Sweden

    JC,

    The article is provocative: “very large amounts of warming (20°C or more)…the relevant IPCC probability distributions only go up to 8°C…you are accepting some danger of catastrophic warming…we leave the world of odds and handicapping and enter the world of the Precautionary Principle…we would expect, using the Nordhaus analysis as a reference point, to spend about $14 trillion more than the benefits…if we flip a fair quarter 1,000 times…we face many dimly-understood dangers…unquantifiable dangers from runaway genetic crop modification…the realism of a limited nuclear war over the next century—with plausible scenarios ranging from Pakistan losing control of its nuclear arsenal and inducing a limited nuclear exchange with India, to a war between a nuclearized Iran and Israel?”

    Oh my…

    And then the article you referenced states: “In my view, we should be funding investments in technology that would provide us with response options in the event that we are currently radically underestimating the impacts of global warming.”

    Well JC, I can yank that statement and make it my own. Mankind’s continued investment in the technologies of reservoirs, aqueducts, levees, dams, sea walls, irrigation, sanitation infrastructure, roads etc… have in the past proven highly beneficial. Time and money wasted elsewhere can be utilized on public works that actually work.

    As I understand it, there is a new earth-like planet with an atmosphere similar to our own. I have not yet read what the ideal temperature of that planet has been determined by ‘climate scientists’ or how CO2 should be controlled to avert change.. Then again, it is still unclear to me why the recent past global average temperature of the earth is considered Nirvana.

    With more than 1.5 billion people living in poverty on Earth today, many dying needlessly due to lack of development, IMHO ‘Climate Science’ does a disservice by feeding the NGOs & governments with motivation to retard the elevation of a universal standard of living.

    Painting with a very broad brush so the feathers that get ruffled(TUFF! you should have opened your mouths when ‘Climate Science’/IPCC went berserk years ago, although I believe most of you are good people, you do your work, keep your heads down, are disgusted with the way things have been portrayed & try your best not to attract attention lest you become a target)

    Climate Science should know its’ place. Last Friday on Die Klimazwiebel, eduardo posted what I feel is a very important concept in ‘Climate Science’ which he terms as ‘actionable (climate) science’.:

    http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com/2011/12/actionable-climate-science.html

    As an average Joe, I think that ‘Climate Science’ should be able to tell farmers that in five or ten years a region will be able to support this crop or that crop. The study that eduardo points to suggests model predictions of 30 to 40 years out(and we should believe them why?). I really don’t think that a farmer in Uganda is really looking at a 30-40 year plan. Heck are the commercial farmers in the USA looking at a 30-40 year plan.

    ‘Climate Science’ there is food to grow, reservoirs to dig, sea walls to build – where and when? That is all I want to hear.

    • Paul in Sweden,

      With more than 1.5 billion people living in poverty on Earth today, many dying needlessly due to lack of development, IMHO ‘Climate Science’ does a disservice by feeding the NGOs & governments with motivation to retard the elevation of a universal standard of living.

      The snag with this argument is that, so far, as world development has increased so has the number of “people living in poverty”. The number of people living poverty is now greater than total world population at the turn of the previous century.

      Furthermore, are you really trying to tell us that those opposing measures to limit emissions of CO2, and to stop levels rising out of all control, are less concerned about the price of gasoline/petrol than they are of the plight of those earning a dollar a day? Yes, sure they are !

      • Eli doesn’t use red herrings so that must be a red hare. We keep bouncing around between the universal field theory and the universal guilt theory. Wouldn’t an increased rate of death be a negative feed back? So using the latest in linear no threshold modeling, medical science causes global warming.

      • Eli Rabett

        At 20C heating all die.

        At 20C cooling all die, as well.

        But both scenarios are Hollywood science fiction.

        Max

      • manacker,
        The connection between AGW faith and Hollywood B movie science ficiton is very strong.

      • Paul in Sweden

        Not fair, that is An Inconvenient Truth.

    • Paul in Sweden

      “The snag with this argument is that, so far, as world development has increased so has the number of “people living in poverty”. The number of people living poverty is now greater than total world population at the turn of the previous century.” – tempterrain – December 6, 2011 at 1:59 am

      What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Massive development in China, India and the developing world continues to reduce the percentage of the global population living in abject poverty. Larger numbers do not diminish the percentage nor the commendable humanitarian gains.

    • “Then again, it is still unclear to me why the recent past global average temperature of the earth is considered Nirvana.”

      Because everything is adapted to it

      I swear I sometimes suspect certain skeptics would be happy to push a switch and instantly make global temperature 5C warmer tommorow. They are completely oblivious and think such an increase would have minimal even unnoticeable effects.

      • Paul in Sweden

        Then again, it is still unclear to me why the recent past global average temperature of the earth is considered Nirvana. –

        “Because everything is adapted to it” – lolwot | December 6, 2011 at 7:22 am

        Unfortunately, Global Warming enthusiasts & the multitude in the Global Warming Industry propose that the bulk of mankind stop adapting to climate as they have done for millennium & instead employ punitive policies & not ready for prime technologies which by their own calculations cannot possibly dent a theoretical catastrophe that may or may not come to their gleeful fruition.

        Build sea walls & reservoirs in the Maldives instead of airports, resorts and conference centers for CAGW gatherings and stop looking for handouts!

      • “stop looking for handouts!”

        Those that burn fossil fuels are the ones getting handouts.

        It’s time for the handouts to stop, and for those that want to pollute pay the real cost of that pollution.

      • “Real cost” is an eco-left fantasy in your hands. There is no quantification associated to AGW science, it’s an abstract guess which is why the rent seekers love it so much. Nothing can be proven or questioned.

        Perfect for the know-nothing left which is what group you belong to.

      • Paul in Sweden

        Robert, I believe from what I have been watching via webcast from Durban, the round of panhandling is coming to an end. The negotiations are tough but if Motel 6 on exit 15 of the New Jersey Turnpike will agree not to leave the lights on the room behind the bar will be the next meeting place.

        The damage already caused by Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Policies are real(mostly affecting the poor) and are worse than we thought.

        Time wasted by academics acting as shills for the Global Warming Industry dreaming of a present day world where fossil fuels are not utilized to raise the masses from poverty is time & money not spent on building dams, reservoirs, sea-walls & power plants. The green gravy train is coming to a stop.

      • I swear I sometimes suspect certain skeptics would be happy to push a switch and instantly make global temperature 5C warmer tommorow. They are completely oblivious and think such an increase would have minimal even unnoticeable effects.

        It’s even more problematic than that. These skeptics will make up stuff on how the science is wrong and all the scientists are lying, and then they will turn around and say that it doesn’t matter anyways and global warming would be good for us.
        This is the attitude of a 10-year-old that is rationalizing why he couldn’t get his way. It’s actually pretty embarrassing when you take a broad view of many of the commenters on this blog. They are alternately hypocritical and inconsistent in their arguments. Maybe it is intentional FUD, maybe they are panicky, who knows, it just seems very childish to me.

      • Web

        Would you care to show what makes YOU believe a warmer world is worse for humanity overall over the long term? Do you believe that the output of the current models is adequate to form these conclusions? Is that a scientific conclusion?

      • Would you care to show what makes YOU believe a warmer world is worse for humanity overall over the long term?

        Are you still trying to shift your burden to prove the radical experiment you propose is safe?

        I’ve asked you before: just produce your argument, citing your sources, that it is safe to heat the world to conditions hotter than have been seen on earth is the last several million years.

        Just show us the evidence.

      • Rob,
        Notice how the believers confuse their hysterical perspective with proof?

      • It is funny how they pout about the science being wrong at every conceivable level, from 100PPM of additional CO2 not being anthropogenic, to the physics of GHG, then turn around and say a little warming can’t hurt anyways.

        Stick with an argument and don’t shotgun, as it makes you look frantic and in a panic.

      • Web, what you do not understand is that skepticism is not a position, not an alternative to CAGW, it is a collection of dozens of arguments, often made by different people. The argument for CAGW is complex and different people have found fault with different portions of it. Taken together these various arguments demonstrate the many uncertainties that make CAGW untenable.

      • Dozens of very poor arguments that amount to nothing in terms of an alternate view.

        There is the stupid view that the excess CO2 is not anthropogenic in origin.
        There is the stupid view that CO2 has an adjustment time of only a few years.
        There is the stupid view that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas with properties that differ from what quantum and statistical mechanics would predict.
        There is the stupid view that natural variation can actually raise the earth’s temperature all on its own, thus defeating all known thermodynamic laws.
        There are all these stupid views that relatively small forcing functions can actually generate all the necessary thermal energy required, instead of providing a stimulus to the actual GHG process.
        There is the stupid view that you can sweep the +33 degree C discrepancy under the rug.
        There is the stupid view that the atmosphere of Venus is not the result of a runaway GHG effect.
        There is the stupid view that since environmental processes are chaotic, there is no hope of deriving results from simulations.
        There is the related stupid view that since we cannot validate via a controlled experiment, that we have no hope of figuring anything out.
        There is the stupid view that an average temperature has no meaning.
        There is the stupid view that you think the environmentally minded are only concerned with AGW, when you must certainly realize that fossil fuel is a finite resource and that we eventually should try something else on for size.

        On top of that there is the ultimate complete failure of not having an alternate theory that can come anywhere close to providing any kind of insight for climate science. The only theory you can offer is Business as Usual.

        I truly would like to see a competing theory. But for now, we have our hands full trying to swat down all these incredible stupid and unscientific viewpoints.

      • Paul in Sweden

        Web, sorry to have to tell you this but your post indicates that you are hopelessly Stuck On Stupid!

      • Web, sorry to have to tell you this but your post indicates that you are hopelessly Stuck On Stupid!

        Sorry, but the phrase “Stuck on Stupid” is the favorite of all the right-wing radio shows. They usually play a sound snippet of the general saying this line when they don’t have a good counter-argument on hand. Pretty fitting for you, I would say.

      • Web: Dozens of very poor arguments that amount to nothing in terms of an alternate view.

        The alternative view is perfectly clear and sensible, and well-grounded in detailed studies (and their lack): we do not have enough knowledge to make the correct decisions.

      • Rave on Web. Everyone who disagrees with you is stupid, is after all the only truly stupid argument. Keep it up.

      • I have seen every one of those arguments on this blog. The arguments against CO2 as a greenhouse gas are pushed by the SkyDragon contingent, the excess CO2 as natural is by Salby, the short CO2 adjustment time is pushed by cwon14 and now by Arfur, etc. I call them stupid because what are we supposed to call them? Wrong is too kind a word, because some of these arguments bring down everyone’s IQ.

        Notice that no one is defending any of these arguments, preferring to attack me for pointing them out.

      • Would you care to show what makes YOU believe a warmer world is worse for humanity overall over the long term?

        I wrote about ecological diversity in my latest book, and from my experience in studying adaptation, we have no idea the chain of reaction that this will have on biology, which can have human effects on diseases, invasive species spread, and possible other factors unknown to us..

        I didn’t answer this question at first, because I figured you wee nagging over the point I made. What I pointed out was that skeptics complain about the climate science math, and then rationalize that warmer temperatures are OK since they can’t figure out a better model.

        Do you believe that the output of the current models is adequate to form these conclusions? Is that a scientific conclusion?

        The only conclusion that I have is that a comprehensive CO2 carbon-cycle/GHG model explains the observations better than the alternative theory does. And since this alternative theory doesn’t exist, it will have to do.

      • WebHubTelescope: I have seen every one of those arguments on this blog.

        You provide a very short list.

      • WHT

        [“the short CO2 adjustment time is pushed by cwon14 and now by Arfur, etc. I call them stupid because what are we supposed to call them?
        .
        How very adult of you to bring my name up in another discussion and then call me stupid. This seems to be a recurring theme with your posts: anyone who disagrees with you is stupid. You must be using the same tailors as Hans Christian Andersen’s Emperor.
        .
        Just to be clear about this. You have repeatedly refused to provide any evidence to support your claims about residence time and the efficacy of CO2 in the atmosphere following lolwot’s claim that ‘CO2 is responsible for 20% of the Greenhouse Effect. For anyone else who may be interested, here is my question again:

        If 0.028% of the atmosphere was responsible for 6.42 C out of 33 C in 1850, how come an increase of 0.011% of the same trace gas has not produced a proportionally significant increase in gt in 2011?

        Once again, you want to sanctimoniously disparage my ability to understand the ‘science’ without providing any real-world evidence to support the initial statement. Also, I repeat, if you had some evidence to show me, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. If the data supported your theory, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Being ‘sceptical’ about cAGW is NOT the same as either ‘not knowing’ or “not believing’ science. Its about asking questions which are pertinent and sensible. If you can’t answer the questions, then maybe you should do the ‘scientific’ thing and honestly re-visit the theory.

        Either put up or shut up.

      • Arfur, you have no idea about reaction kinetics and you have no idea about radiation absorption and you lack a whole boatload of knowledge about practical applied physics.

        I could teach you about diffusion and I could teach you about cross-sections, but I also could tell you to enroll in an engineering and physics program at a decent university and see if you can make the cut of 50% of the people who can deal with the rigor.

        This is a question about CO2 radiation absorption. At current atmospheric concentrations of CO2, how much of the 15 micron wavelength infrared radiation will get absorbed after traveling 1 meter? If you can’t answer this to first order, you fail.

      • I notice that Web fails to answer the most simple of questions. Why is that web?

      • I notice that Web fails to answer the most simple of questions. Why is that web?

        Well, ringo, what would you like to ask me?

      • The same one you failed to answer above.

      • It’s pretty funny for Rob to play that card when he’s ducking the real question (and has been for weeks).

        Aren’t you ready to meet your burden, Rob? And if you aren’t, why on earth are you wasting time asking other people to refute an argument you can’t even formulate?

      • Rob –

        I asked you a couple of simple questions the other day. Told you I’d be interested in reading your answers even after you said that I “wish to ignore reality.”

        Anytime you’d like to answer, Rob, I’d be interested in reading your response.

        http://judithcurry.com/2011/12/04/climate-smart-agriculture/#comment-146730

      • ArFur, I would rather not try to convince you of anything anymore since you have evidently taken up with the SkyDragon group. From what I have observed from reading other threads, it’s a waste of time.

      • WHT,

        Fine. I note that your favoured option is ‘shutting up’ instead of ‘putting up’.

        For what it is worth, I have no allegiance to the ‘SkyDragon’ group. I prefer to think for myself.

      • WHT,

        Fine. I note that your favoured option is ‘shutting up’ instead of ‘putting up’.

        Bryant, I put out, just take a look at all the analysis I have done on my blog. I can’t help the fact that you are not intellectually curious.

      • WHT, LOL!

        I almost missed this little gem. Well done on at least injecting some humour even if it was unintentional.

        I’m not totally sure you really meant to say that you ‘put out’. I merely asked you to ‘put up’… :)

      • lolwot

        “Then again, it is still unclear to me why the recent past global average temperature of the earth is considered Nirvana.”

        Because everything is adapted to it

        Adapted to what global average temperature ?

        lolwot, you need to get more specific. What would you personally say is the “Goldilocks just right temperature” for our planet?

        We start off with a problem here: the “globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature” itself.

        As many posters have pointed out, this is an artificial construct. If we live in a temperate zone, our ambient temperature may reach this level for a few hours during a few days or nights in one or another season.

        In other words, diurnal and seasonal variations (which we will feel) will bounce all around this arbitrary number (which we will only encounter rarely). So it really doesn’t mean too much to us.

        But let’s forget about this problem for now.

        Let me suggest this answer (taken from several sources): 23°C is close to the optimum temperature for humans, 6°C is close to the coldest the planet has gotten naturally, 35°C is close to the highest natural temperature and 15°C is close to the current global temperature (so we are somewhere below the middle of the natural range today).

        5 million years ago the average temperature is believed to have been around 5°C warmer than today, or 20°C.

        During the last Glacial Maximum, it is believed that the global average temperature was as much as 6°C colder than today, or 9°C.

        According to IPCC, the temperature now would be around 14°C if there had been no human influence (back-calculated using IPCC estimates of CO2 impact and checks with older records). This was just as the planet was coming out of a colder period called the Little Ice Age.

        Is this the “Goldilocks Ideal Global Temperature” (GIGT) for our planet?

        Over the past decade we have seen a slight cooling. Over the prior decade there was stronger warming.

        In fact, since the modern record started we have seen several multi-decadal warming and cooling cycles of around 30 years each with an underlying warming of around 0.7°C over 160+ years.

        Would you say the GIGT is the temperature we had in 1998 (15.3°C)? Or maybe the one in 2008 (around 15.0°C)? How about 1988 (just below 15°C)?

        Or how about the temperature of 1850 (around 14.6°C)?

        Or maybe that of the MWP (arguably a degree or so warmer than today)?

        Or that of the Roman Optimum, when Hannibal crossed the Alps with elephants (arguably another degree warmer)?

        Before fretting about moving from today’s temperature you need to define the desired temperature you want to “keep” (and why).

        It appears to me that you have no notion what temperature you really want, but are simply afraid of the virtually impossible notion that “global temperature might instantly become 5C warmer tomorrow”.

        Max

      • It’s not about an optimum temperature, it’s about sticking to tried and tested ranges. Go outside tried and tested ranges and well obviously they can’t be said to be tried and tested, ie safe. There’s no guarantee species can adapt to things they’ve never had to be adapted to before.

        The MWP was likely cooler than today, not warmer, let alone a whole degree warmer.

        Global temperature is an indicator. If that changes very fast then it indicates everything beneath that is going to be shifting fast too, eg habitat ranges. There’s a big difference between such changes happening over 1 million years and just 200 years.

      • lolwot
        The Inuit have adapted to Northern Canada (the Arctic) where “In the Winter months, the temperatures can drop to below -60°F, although normal temperatures may be closer to -35°F with low snowfall (EB Online 3).”

        The Bushman live in the Kalahari where “Summer temperatures in the Kalahari range from 20 to 45°C (68 to 113°F).”

        In the light of that 173F temperature range, and you still want to claim that a 2 deg C (3.8F) warming (2%) of that range is going to be catastrophic to humans? Especially when all global warming models are trending hotter than reality? Look at the data vs models yourself at “More sensitivity to baselines”.

        Have you ever considered trying rational thought?
        Why the Chicken Little alarmism?

      • lolwot

        It’s not about an optimum temperature, it’s about sticking to tried and tested ranges

        Please identify the “tried and tested ranges” to which you refer.

        Thanks.

        Max

        PS David L. Hagen has given you a clue to the answer to this question.

  41. “And a massive carbon tax or a cap-and-trade rationing system would likely cost more than the damages it would prevent.”

    Isn’t this the crux of the argument? Its should be to sensible people – although I would suggest that the right wing Neanderthals who inhabit most climate change blogs will simply add up the total tax take take and count it as a cost – as if the revenue raised were somehow confiscated by Martians! In reality of course it can be used to fund the sort of technological investment which is being argued for. Alternatively, It could even be used to lower income tax !

    In any case, this sort of statement needs to be justified. There needs to be a reference to a serious study on the question before it can be taken seriously.

    • Temp, if you insist on name calling I much prefer right wing Neanderthals to left wing Control Freaks (like you?). The former tend to leave me alone.

      The econ of mitigation has been studied to death, led by Nordhaus. Follow the link in the article to the huge literature on this.

      • Your delusional crusade against clean air and water (“the great green menace” as you put it) has left you paranoid.

        But I can relate to the desire to be left alone. Of course, you also need to leave my atmosphere alone, and not radically alter its composition. Forcibly manipulating the climate is coercive, indeed violent.

    • “In reality of course it can be used to fund the sort of technological investment which is being argued for.”

      The socialist dream never dies does it tempterrian does it? The collective state knows best?

      Time you consider the damages of 20th century collective efforts and romantic revisionism about central planning of say WWII. Higher taxes lead to more wasteful spending and …….higher taxes and debt still. What planet are you actually from??

      Look at the chart;

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-its-time-give-mainstream-economics

      It doesn’t even include the welfare state obligations that are Ponzi driven. Your expectations are so over it is sad.

      • cwon14,

        I’m not sure if its true to say its a socialist dream. Given the choice between carbon taxes and lower income taxes many of all political persuasions might well prefer the latter.

        The collective state? What State isn’t collective to some extent? The important thing is that the amount collectivism should be democratically determined. Unfortunately, the veracity of scientific opinion on AGW can’t be determined democratically. We might wish it could all be decided by ballot. I’d happily vote against it if the climate would only listen!

  42. So, the author proposes the typical solution of stealing from future generations. The core problem of dealing with climate change is that the costs are levied on the future, the benefits of burning the fossil fuels accrue to the present. Steal from your grandchildren is a wonderful ethic.

    Sensible discussions at the Weasel’s and the Rabett’s including a great new hockey stick

    • Artificially and unnecessarily raising the price of energy doesn’t steal from our grandchildren? There are competing noble causes here, and one is humanity based and the other isn’t. You pays your money and you takes your chances.
      ==============

    • “Steal from your grandchildren is a wonderful ethic.” Possessive YOUR. I am not stealing fro YOUR grandchildren. Redistribution on MY resources is stealing from MINE.

      Proper allocation of resources for ALL grandchildren would be a tribal goal. Each tribe has THEIR own vision. WE should provide for OUR grandchildren and if OUR resources allow, help other tribes, if they are receptive to OUR treaties.

      I am receptive to using resources wisely to benefit the next generation so they can hopefully, wisely, benefit the following. I would never assume my decisions are better for future generations than THEIR decisions may be. It is a one step at a time thing.

    • Eli, the core problem, which the article attempts to address, and you do not, is that there is no known problem with climate change. We are all here because the issue is debatable. The medium is the message. Your rhetoric is useless.

      • Clearly there is much you do not know.

      • Eli Rabett

        I suggest you modify your statement to:

        Clearly there is much we all do not know.

        Makes more sense that way, right?

        Max

      • mank,

        You seem to believe that everyone is as ignorant as you are.

        Why do you believe this?

        You don’t know the science. Therefore YOU don’t know what the science says. Speak for yourself, and don’t imagine that your admitted ignorance is a law of nature.

      • Robert,

        A better question for Max might be why he doesn’t want to know more?

      • The Grandchildren

        Yeah, only the intelligent can see it. This is well documented in The Emperors New Clothes.

        It might help if he looks at a picture of a baby polar bear.

      • Eli, my field is the logic of complex issues and I have been studying the climate change debate for 18 years. What do you think I don’t know? Or was that just another useless rhetorical flourish?

      • David,

        If you’ve been studying the climate change “debate” for 18 years – then you ought to be an expert on useless rhetorical flourishes.

        Maybe if you studied climate science, rather than the “debatable” logic of complex issues, you wouldn’t make ridiculous false claims like “there is no known problem with climate change”.

        BTW – some problems are unknown – and our lack of knowledge is part of what makes them, you know, “problems”.

      • Eli, my field is the logic of complex issues and I have been studying the climate change debate for 18 years. What do you think I don’t know?

        David, you admitted that your “career” consists of hundreds of op-eds denouncing “the great green menace” (your words.)

        You are not a scientist, and have not demonstrated any working knowledge of the basic science of climate change, or even the necessary knowledge of basic math.

        Your humanities degree simply didn’t prepare you to discuss science intelligently, and evidently not even enough for you to realize how little you know.

      • David,
        There is a common thread connecting Eli, lolwot, and many other believers who post here:
        The lack of ability to consider that they are wrong about a CO2 caused climate crisis.
        The lack of evidence in the real world means little to most who share this CO2 obsession. Watch how they consistently attempt to frame the issue: THEIR concern about th efuture is correct, and our lack of belief is because we care nothing for our progeny or the future. Look how they rely on the absurdity that only believers in AGW care about their children/grandchildren/Earth.
        It is fascinating to watch. No matter the level of exposure of falsity in those who have shaped their opinions, they still cling to their faith in what they were told.
        Their AGW beleifs empower them to feel justified in spending other people’s resources, no matter that not one of the AGW policies, treaties, trading schemes, etc. have ever worked. Somehow they have achieved the ability to ignore anything and everything that is counter to the AGW faith.

      • No I consider I could be wrong. You don’t seem to grasp what I am saying (I won’t claim to talk for Eli and others in case I get it wrong)

        The “crisis” is not one of knowing some specific disaster is going to happen (like a giant flood in 2032). It’s at seeing a gas like CO2 that is strongly linked to several environmental factors, changing so fast in the atmosphere. The current level of CO2 is already at record levels going back millions of years and we can increase it a lot further than this.

        In terms of how fast this change is happening – we don’t know of a faster case of CO2 rise in all of Earth’s history. That surprises some people but if you think about what we are doing in terms of ripping out a load of fossil carbon built up over millions of years and burning it in mere centuries you can start to understand why our impact on CO2 levels is so profound.

        This is very likely going to create a very different world. Note my words “very likely” mean that I do realize I could be wrong, but on balance I find it almost absurd to imagine CO2 could be elevated to 600ppm (or higher) and the Earth’s climate will be indistinguishable from today (that goes for regional climates too of course).

      • Lolwot –

        I nearly agree with you…

        When you say –

        This is very likely going to create a very different world

        For me to be comfortable with this, I’d only have to remove one of the ‘very’s – or, on a particularly sceptical day, both of them.

        However, I don’t actually have a profound disagreement with your original sentence. It is after that point that I think I diverge from most ‘climate-concerned’ – I don’t think this prospect [of a 'different' world] is automatically catastrophic, disastrous or even ‘bad’, and I don’t think there are scientific reasons for thinking so either. Plenty of emotional, imagination-driven ones, but nothing concrete.

        What has the last million years shown us? That temperatures have risen and fallen by 6-8 degrees and sea levels have risen and fallen by 400 feet (at a rate up to 30 times its current speed) and life has barely noticed. Adaptation refreshes and revives species. Are we not the most adaptable (except for viruses..) of everything that exists on planet earth?

        My expectation is that a changing climate will bring forth our innovation and skill and energy and courage! I don’t understand the need for fear and consternation..

    • Eli Rabbett: , the author proposes the typical solution of stealing from future generations.

      Because we lack sufficient knowledge to make the correct decision (the skeptical position) every proposed solution is a gamble, and potentially a theft from future generations. If there is a “no regrets” strategy, I have not found it, but I think that investment in efficiency and alternatives are the closest.

      Every proposed solution is a gamble, and potentially a theft from future generations.

      • What is not a gamble is for independent countries to build proper infrastructure to protect their citizens from both floods and droughts. This is an issue that nobody but the countries themselves are responsible to fix.

      • That is something that I agree with.

        That’s the closest to a “no regrets” strategy that I have read of. The risk is that too much might (according to the worst scenarios of AGW) direct too much resources away from reducing the sea level rise.

      • steven mosher

        Yes, if we look at how well todays infrastructure is able to handle todays weather, we can see that even if we expect weather in the future to be like weather in the last hundred years, that ITSELF would argue for better adaptation.

  43. Technology the US needs: Ability to deliver fuel to iced in ports, such as Nome.

    Silly kim, why should we develop the technology when the Russians already have it and seem to have it for hire?
    ================

    • Heh, a commenter on another blog points out that half the Alaskans are begging the US to send its only icebreaker to Nome and the other half are trashing Shell for building another one.
      ==============

  44. Judith,

    I’m trying out a new name change.
    This current planet’s science is too corrupted for me and just interferes too much in my researching.

  45. “In fact, it is the uncertainties in our understanding that are the most compelling driver of rational action.”

    I disagree and continue to be amazed by the lack of rational thought.

    The UN appears to have suddenly turned into a Cargo Culture requesting that technology be dumped on its doorstep so it can mitigate global climate issues without regard for appropriate cultural solutions. China wants to be paid to not pollute because developed nations didn’t have to deal with this issue during their industrial revolutions. The climate science community continues to refuse to release data and programming so their conclusions can’t be properly reviewed and verified. The remaining portion of the Carbon Trading scheme that hasn’t already gone bankrupt from its own corruption and fraud isn’t monitoring carbon solutions so we are ending up with loons planting eucalyptus trees in regions were they aren’t found and destroying portions of African. The list of absurdities is nearly endless.

    We’re never going to get appropriate industrial engineering and design solutions from politics and the financial community. GHGs are a byproduct of processes, not the true cause of the problem.

    Countries need to abandon the UN approach and collaborate over engineering solutions to address common needs.

  46. I read this and thought it was interesting-
    Simple though the truth is – it is just complicated enough that the IPCC and the global-warming profiteers have thus far gotten away with confusing the general public, and the average scientifically-illiterate politician.

    Take all the greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and keep the Earth’s albedo magically the same as today’s. How much cooler would it be? All are agreed that it would be around 33 Celsius degrees cooler. This is climate theory 101.

    So, how much radiative forcing causes the 33 C° warming that arises from the presence – as opposed to total absence – of all the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? The answer – is around 100 Watts per square meter.
    Accordingly, the equilibrium system climate sensitivity parameter is 33/100 = 0.33 Celsius per Watt per square meter, after just about all temperature feedbacks have acted. Multiply this key parameter by 3.7 Watts per square meter, which is the IPCC’s own value for the radiative forcing from a doubling of CO2 concentration, and you get a warming of just 1.2 C° per CO2 doubling. But that is just one-third of the 3.3 C° the IPCC predicts.

    This theoretical value of 1.2 C° is remarkably robust: it uses the IPCC’s own data and methods, applied to the entire history of the atmosphere, to demonstrate just how low climate sensitivity really is.

    What evidence is there that today’s climate exhibits the same sensitivity as the total system sensitivity?”
    The answer is that the world is now in a position to verify this theoretical result by measurement.

    In August this year, Dr. Blasing of the Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center in the United States quietly published a bombshell. Few noticed. His detailed estimate is that all the manmade greenhouse gases added to the air by us since 1750 have caused as much as 3 Watts per square meter of radiative forcing between them.

    From this 3 Watts per square meter, in line with IPCC data, we must be fair and deduct 1 Watt per square meter to allow for manmade climate influences that cause cooling, such as soot and other particulates that act as helpful little parasols shading us from the Sun and keeping us cooler than we should otherwise be.

    How much warming did this manmade net 2 Watts per square meter of forcing cause? Around 0.8 Celsius of warming has occurred since 1750, of which – if the IPCC is right – 50-100% was attributable to us. So the equilibrium climate sensitivity parameter since 1750 (again, most of the temperature feedbacks that the IPCC wrongly imagines will amplify warming hugely will have acted by now) is 0.2-0.4 Celsius per Watt per square meter.

    Multiply that key parameter by 3.7 and the warming we can expect from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration is just 0.75-1.5 Celsius. Those estimates neatly bracket the equilibrium system sensitivity of 1.2 C° that we calculated earlier by well-established theory.

    So the sensitivity of the climate over the most recent quarter of the millennium is very much the same as the sensitivity of the climate throughout the past 4.5 billion years – at around one-third of the IPCC’s central estimate. Frankly, one Celsius degree of warming this century will simply not be worth worrying about. It will do far more good than harm. Not a cent should be spent trying to prevent it.

  47. If anyone here still thinks that AGW is a left wing cause, they might care to read this written by none other than the Iron Lady herself.

    “For generations, we have assumed that the efforts of mankind would leave the fundamental equilibrium of the world’s systems and atmosphere stable. But it is possible that with all these enormous changes (population, agricultural, use of fossil fuels) concentrated into such a short period of time, we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself. ”

    There is still more at:

    http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/107346

    We do have to thank Mrs T for setting up the Hadley Climate centre in the UK and for raising the issue when most others were unaware of it. In fact, as I remember, the UK left were at loggerheads with the UK Tories and were arguing for a continuation of the UK coal industry.

    How times have changed! Now, if you’re a right-wing libertarian or blogger, it is virtually a badge of honour to proclaim that all this global warming nonsense, and action taken to counter it is a fraud, perpetrated upon a gullible public by free-spending socialist politicians who don’t have anyone’s best interests at heart, except their own, and who are backed up by hireling scientists exaggerating the problem so that they can justify ever increasing research funding.

    • Paul in Sweden

      tempterrain, it would be very difficult to slip a cigarette paper between the right and the left political parties in the UK, however this possibility is not inconsistent with the results of combined climate model averages.

    • randomengineer

      Sometimes I think you’re tone deaf. AGW isn’t left or right wing. Many on the right (most?) are supportive of increased funding and more science because man *is* running an open ended experiment. The hard core hoaxer crowd isn’t representative of much beyond the fringe right. However. Their anitpodal fringe left opposites are malthusian socialist wannabes who seek to use AGW as the means by which they gain their ascendancy and impose their will.

      The *entire* right wing is opposed to the fringe left by definition.

      Come on, man. Ain’t that hard.

      • Paul in Sweden

        randomengineer, I believe that responsible individuals on both the right and the left want increased research on Climate Change so that long term civic and agricultural planing can be more responsibly performed. In addition I believe that responsible individuals want increased spending on energy research.

        It is also my belief that Leftists along with some members of the Right who have become complacent to suckle the govt. teat along with the members of the cult of personality, the bankers, the oil companies, NGOs, United Nations blood suckers, WWF etc… Some with Messianic celebrity aspirations, Some with purely financial interest others with governance power trip interests.

        (It still amazes me that some people believe that the Oil companies give a FF about CAGW policy, They could care less. The Oil companies are going to continue to make a fortune regardless of what CAGW policy is issued. BP funded the infamous Hadley Center and if you look at the big oil company long term plans which go further out than the chicken little Kyote II plans, they ain’t worried one bit).

      • Paul in Sweden, When you wrote, “I believe that responsible individuals on both the right and the left want increased research on Climate Change…”; I say, why not. You will soon be able to put your own kettle up on World Gaia Day. If you may buy the license for your street corner? Just like the Salvation Army you will think, only better.

      • Paul in Sweden

        WTF? I have no clue as to what you are attempting to communicate.

  48. I’m sure there are many in both sides of UK politics, both supporters and opponents of Mrs T, who would find it quite easy to fit an object of considerably larger size between those of her political persuasion and others.

    I’m just wondering why it was OK, in right wing circles, for her to say what she did in the 80’s but it certainly wouldn’t be acceptable now?

    • tempterrain – I think you will find that Mrs T was locked in battle with the coal unions and also wanted to reduce dependence on Middle East oil.. AGW was a little pup then and seemed harmless, so it was used by Mrs T to promote nuclear power. Oh what a tangled web we weave …..

    • Paul in Sweden

      I’m just wondering why it was OK, in right wing circles, for her to say what she did in the 80′s but it certainly wouldn’t be acceptable now? tempterrain | December 6, 2011 at 11:41 pm

      temp, That is a fair question. I am an American. Traveling in during the 80s and 90s my own knowledge and interest of Margaret Thatcher was limited. I thought of PM Thatcher as a strong foreign policy partner to the US & appreciated her strong stance against terrorism. UK domestic policy did not concern me then(but as I now reside in the EU, UK & other EU member state domestic policy’s do concern me).

      Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming did not come up on my personal radar until after Y2K when the devastating effects of Global Warming Policy became apparent(I am still staggered that so much money has been tossed down the hole). By that time Margaret Thatcher was far away from Downing Street. In reflection IMO Thatcher’s involvement in CAGW was akin to George W. Bush’s giving a pass to the Pharmaceutical companies with G. W. Bush’s healthcare bill. Both actions I consider unforgivable.

    • Thatcher was fortunate to reap the windfall of the rise up to a peak in North Sea oil production. She was prime minister during the long broad plateau of maximum production

      It has been in decline since about 2000.

      • More cluelessness Web Hub, the crowd supporting AGW fantasy lobby to block oil production throughout the globe.

        It’s far greater impact than N.Sea oil ever was.

        You have a small picture view of events despite whatever you tell yourself.

      • Individual nations benefit from their own natural resources. If you don’t understand that you don’t have a clue.

      • WebHubTelescope: Individual nations benefit from their own natural resources. If you don’t understand that you don’t have a clue.

        How is that responsive to cwon14’s comment? The US and China benefit from Canada’s oil, and AGW promoters want to shut down production. China benefits from coal that it imports from Australia and the US, and AGW proponents want to shut down that production as well. The AGW proponents may not succeed in these shutdowns, and more, but they will succeed if they are not opposed.

      • Matt

        You make an excellent point. In a world with diminishing fossil fuel, there is absolutely zero reason not to develop the means to utilize those resources if or when they are needed. Many if not most of the “environmental lobby” greatly try to discourage the development of the infrastructure required to utilize these resources as there are needed. That is Imo, bad policy as it is the source of good jobs as well as insurance against a potential disruption of supply in the future.

      • Um, like they own the oil that they are exploiting, and like, they can make money off this. That’s pretty obvious.

        The UK discovered all the oil that they are going to discover in the North Sea and are following the depletion curve down very predictably. I did an analysis about 5 or 6 years ago and they are right on target on the decline curve.

        This decline has nothing to do with AGW proponents stopping it, and is why the UK is scrambling to make up for the lost temporary wealth. Offshore oil rigs get shut-in more quickly than onshore rigs simply because the maintenance is not worth it at a specific extraction margin. This margin is higher offshore than onshore.
        .
        Every country benefits from their own natural resource wealth and then have to recover if and when this disappears. I seem to recall learning this in geography classes as a kid.

      • WebHubTelescope, the question was: How is that responsive to cwon14′s comment?

        the crowd supporting AGW fantasy lobby to block oil production throughout the globe. For example, People in and out of Canada are trying to block Canadian tar sands development, and people other than Canadians benefit with Canadians from the tar sands development.

        What you quote from grade school is non-responsive to his comment and mine.

      • I see that they are doing the tar sands thing anyways..
        Canadians benefit from their natural resources.Does anyone think that they would make less money if they didn’t have the resource?

        So much for your argument.

      • WebHubTelescope: Every country benefits from their own natural resource wealth and then have to recover if and when this disappears.

        The US imposes restrictions on extraction of natural resource wealth, prohibiting (for example) drilling on most of the outer continental shelf, and in large parts of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. There are restrictions on mining lithium and rare earth elements. Interested parties are actively working to extend these restrictions, despite the benefits (perhaps you agree with the reasons for the restrictions.) Why you are skirting the issue that important groups are trying to restrict resource use you have not made clear.

  49. Web?

    http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2011/12/rose-by-any-other-name-would-still-be.html

    I get amazed at what some people accept and what they don’t. You have a list of stupids, so you can add something to that list now.

  50. The decision to act on global warming is incredibly simple, if you can lay aside ideological filters and look at the facts.

    We have one and only one planet on which to live. We have to make our homes here, do business here, and raise, fish, or grow all our food here — overwhelmingly in open environments that cannot be climate-controlled.

    Now some people want to undertake an experiment — radically altering that climate, far outside the range of conditions seen since the establishment of human civilization, for thousands to millions of years.

    Is that experiment safe? Has anyone shown it to be safe?

    Obviously not. Indeed, there are hundreds of peer-reviewed studies analyzing the expected consequences, which are projected by Nordhaus, for example, member of the “widely respected environmental-economics-modeling group at Yale” cited above, to cost scores of trillions of dollars. Nordhaus believes carbon taxes can save some of those trillions. Yet he’s cited here to make the opposite point — by the simple, and simply dishonest, have-waving technique of simply throwing out his numbers for the cost of mitigation and replacing them with inflated estimates.

    If the best you can offer by way of proof that tackling global warming is not cost effective is an economist who says it is cost-effective, and we should start right away — if you’re reduced to citing one set of calculations and then reversing the economist’s conclusion because you don’t believe the numbers you just cited — well, if that sort of argument is persuasive to you, you should seriously reevaluate the impact your preexisting beliefs are having on your objectivity.

    • “Now some people want to undertake an experiment — radically altering that climate, far outside the range of conditions seen since the establishment of human civilization, for thousands to millions of years.”

      There is your problem Robert, no one wants to undertake an experiment by radically altering climate. Some want to radically limit options to not alter the climate. People learn from their mistakes. Engineering mistakes are small in comparison to ideological ones. Worshipers of linear no threshold models seeking zero impact are mistaking perfection for reality. Time to start getting real.

    • Robert you write “Obviously not. Indeed, there are hundreds of peer-reviewed studies analyzing the expected consequences, which are projected by Nordhaus, for example, member of the “widely respected environmental-economics-modeling group at Yale” cited above, to cost scores of trillions of dollars.”

      What you dont seem to be able to grasp, Robert, is that there are many of us who are not charlatans, and who have a solid grounding in science and physics. We have read many of these peer reviewed studies, and on one vital issue they are wrong. And this includes the IPCC TAR and AR4. it is IMPOSSIBLE, with proper physics, to estimate how much surface temperatures will change if the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is doubled. Any claims to the contrary are complete and utter garbage. We have discussed this many times on this blog, and I have seen no science, no physics, that shows my statement is wrong. And there is no observed data to support any conclusion other than that any change in surface temperature caused by doubling CO2 will be negligible.

      You may believe that the physics has shown that CAGW is going to happen. Many of us have read the same papers, peer reviewed or otherwise, and have come to a completely opposite conclusion to the one yoiu believe in.

      It is as simple as that.


      • it is IMPOSSIBLE, with proper physics, to estimate how much surface temperatures will change if the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is doubled. Any claims to the contrary are complete and utter garbage.

        Where “proper physics” is defined as “physics that Jim Cripwell has approved”.


        We have discussed this many times on this blog, and I have seen no science, no physics, that shows my statement is wrong.

        Argument from ignorance. It is possible that Jim Cripwell has a) not looked very hard at the science, b) not understood the science that he rejects, c) not realized that science is not actually done on blogs, especially Climate Etc.


        And there is no observed data to support any conclusion other than that any change in surface temperature caused by doubling CO2 will be negligible.

        Where “negligible” is defined as “not worrisome to Jim Cripwell”.

        This has been “Proper Science as Determined by the Omniscient Blog Postings of Jim Cripwell”.

        Join us tomorrow for more of the same.

      • Major Tom writes “Where “proper physics” is defined as “physics that Jim Cripwell has approved”.”

        Crap. Utter garbage. Over many years of practing physics, I have learned to regognize what is, and what is not “proper physics”. It is not that difficult.

        You also write “Argument from ignorance. It is possible that Jim Cripwell has a) not looked very hard at the science, b) not understood the science that he rejects, c) not realized that science is not actually done on blogs, especially Climate Etc.”

        Again, utter crap. You have absolutely not idea whatsoever how much time and effort I have spent on this issue.

        You also write “Where “negligible” is defined as “not worrisome to Jim Cripwell”.”

        Again, complete and utter crap. When I write “negligible” , I mean negligible. And I know precisely what this word means.

      • Major Tom. On second thoughts, let us call a spade a spade. If you want a pissing contest where we trade personal insults at each other, I am quite willing to oblige. But I much prefer to talk science in deference to Dr. Curry on her blog. I am fed up with your personal attacks on me, with absolutely no science to support them. If you want to attack me personally, may I suggest you email me at bf906@ncf.ca. Then we can trade insults and not disturb anyone else..


      • You have absolutely not idea whatsoever how much time and effort I have spent on this issue.

        Actually, I have a very good idea that you have not spent enough time and effort on this issue to learn the difference between science and what passes for science on blogs, even though you throw the words “crap” and “garbage” around quite often.

        You don’t “talk science” – you merely attempt to define it to suit your prejudices. In order to talk science, you would have to get up to speed on the published literature, and so far as I can tell from your posts, you’ve never really cared enough to bother.

        BTW – I’m not looking to trade insults, or to make this about personal attacks. It’s just that I’ve grown kind of fond of pointing out your astonishing arrogance.

        Now, if you were to quit acting like a well-informed expert on climate science, I might just ignore you.

      • Major Tom, I have too much respect for Dr. Curry to continue with this. I notice you did not take up my suggestion that we continue this conversation by email. I presume that this is because for you do do so would make it that you were no longer hiding behind a cowardly alias.

  51. There is your problem Robert, no one wants to undertake an experiment by radically altering climate.

    So don’t. It’s as simple as that.

    People learn from their mistakes.

    There are some mistakes you can’t afford to make in order to learn from them. Radically altering the climate for thousands of years is obviously in that category.

    • Your choice of solutions is not necessarily the proper choice of solutions. By assuming that CO2 is the main issue, you are limiting the number of synergistic approaches that can be used. CO2 is A problem. Land use is A problem. Over population is A problem. Economics is A problem. Politics is A problem. Energy sustainability is A problem. Waste storage is A problem. Solutions that address the most problems for the buck are THE best solutions.

      Tunnel vision and ideology are THE problem.

      • Your choice of solutions is not necessarily the proper choice of solutions.

        Perhaps not. I’m happy to talk about different solutions. Once we have acknowledged the problem, we can have an energetic debate about solutions. We can expect that people on the left and right will have different ideas about the optimal solutions. I would like it if more people on the right would think about solutions that are consonant with their values, rather than denying the existence of a problem.

        By assuming that CO2 is the main issue, you are limiting the number of synergistic approaches that can be used.

        There are good reasons to focus on CO2. I am also interested in land use, in overpopulation, and in other greenhouse gases. Of course when you begin to be very general and say “politics” and “economics” are problems, it’s hard either to agree or disagree with that.

        If you are saying that we should ignore global warming in favor of some other project promoting the common good, I’d like to see how you make that argument. Mostly I see people make that argument disingenuously, when they can’t justify a given situation but want to distract attention from it. An argument for doing something else and only something else should deal with the following facts:

        1. We are perfectly capable of doing more than one thing at a time.
        2. There are simple measures to combat global warming that do not require elaborate planning or innovative strategies, i.e., we can institute a carbon tax and let the market do the rest.
        3. Global warming affects the entire human population and will continue to do so for many hundreds of years. It effects the ability of all people, but especially the poor, to obtain their basic needs of food, water, and shelter. That gives it a major claim on our attention.
        4. Pending the development of new technology, what is done today cannot be undone, and the changes are near-permanent relative to human timescales. We are writing in ink, and that gives us a strong motive to give early and focused attention on whether what we are doing is destructive.

  52. Robert

    The climate is going to do exactly what it wants to do, regardless of what humans do.

    Any mitigation or taxation attempts we now undertake to change the climate of the future will be futile – we cannot change our planet’s climate no matter how much money we throw at it.

    Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s the way it is, Robert.

    Max.

    • you couldn’t be more wrong

      • Lolwot –

        You obviously think the future is going to be different from the past [same ingredients,same agents, same 'problem'].

        But unless that is the case, Max is right – the total result of humanity’s efforts [and vast expense] over 20 years is absolutely zilch. Nothing. No impact – at all. A 50% rise in Co2 emissions since 1990, which funnily enough is what was going to happen anyway.

        To envisage mankind altering the temperature of the atmosphere by one tenth of a degree (effectively unmeasurable) you will have to be able to identify at least 200,000,000,000 barrels of oil or its equivalent that we have chosen not to use. The whole world – unanimously.

        Let me know when you spot the first barrel and we can keep a tally…


      • You obviously think the future is going to be different from the past [same ingredients,same agents, same 'problem']. But unless that is the case, Max is right – the total result of humanity’s efforts [and vast expense] over 20 years is absolutely zilch. Nothing.

        So – What you are saying is that either Max is right or Max is not right.

        That clears things up.

      • Anteros –

        the total result of humanity’s efforts [and vast expense] over 20 years is absolutely zilch. Nothing. No impact – at all.

        This determination seems to me to be likely to be driven by bias. “Result” is a word that encompasses many phenomena. Funding and focus on research in alternative energies can be viewed as a result of “humanity’s efforts.” Public awareness about the potential (or lack of potential) of AGW is a “result.” So judging those results as having “no impact” is inaccurate: Advances in alternative energy technologies have taken place. Awareness of the economic and technical complications related to CO2 emissions has increased. Further, such an assessment is even premature WRT global emissions; if those “efforts” have set the stage for future emission mitigation (through advances in technology and increase of awareness), they will prove in the long run to have had an impact in that specific regard as well.

        Of course, to someone who is fighting a partisan battle, a lack of CO2 emissions reduction becomes seen as a partisan form of vindication. That is to be expected, but I don’t think it should be conflated with a conclusion of “no impact.”

      • Joshua –

        A very good point. The things you describe are indeed consistent with changes that may appear only in the future. Perhaps it is early days – I don’t wish to be dismissive of efforts if there really is change afoot.

        However, the situation as we look at it is also consistent with a continuation of efforts, but an unabated continuation of fossil fuel burning. As I mentioned, I think that unless and until we can see the hundreds of billions [if not trillions] of barrels of oil [or equivalent] unused through choice, I’d be very dubious about whether we have ‘changed’ anything – however much we’d like to persuade ourselves that we are masters of our own destiny.

        In Britain, CND believed fervently that it was ‘winning the battle’ for 25 years. We didn’t quite get the ‘change’ we were hoping for.

        On a different note, what we have seen is a response to a mostly ‘purported’ threat. Maybe a mega-famine (clearly climate-linked) or dramatic ice shelf collapses might profoundly change the international realities. My understanding from Durban etc is that current trajectories still lead to a combustion of effectively all economically recoverable fossil fuels. For that to change I think the threat will have to appear at least an order of magnitude more catastrophic – and more immediate.

    • “that’s the way it is”

      So many omniscient people on this board. It’s amazing.

    • The climate is going to do exactly what it wants to do, regardless of what humans do.

      That statement is nonsense — you are simply ignoring the proven fact that what we do affects the climate.

      Until you can face reality on that point, your entire worldview is grounded in fantasy.

  53. My goodness. This New Republic article is full of rhetoric, as opposed to thoughtful and objective analysis, and among other things it misrepresents Nordhaus. I have no idea why anyone would recommend it.

    To be clear, William Nordhaus writes from the perspective of the United States as a high income country, and consistent with this, he focuses on serious ‘abrupt and unforeseen’ climate change that a high income country like the United States would struggle to cope with. A domestic perspective dominates a lot of his discussion of economic policy concerns. The perspective of a low income country, and consistent with this, what the science already does tell us about signficant and foreseen aspects of the current warming trend that low income countries (not the U.S.) do not have resources to cope with, informs his appreciation (and everyone else’s) regarding economic policy issues that are at play at the international level.

    At the international level, Nordhaus (and everyone else) accepts what the geophysical science already tells us about foreseen challenges for resources e.g. food security, and global health, related to human-induced climate change (as opposed to uncertainties related to abrupt/unforeseen climate change). What he specifically promotes to address these issues, is a global carbon tax system. He objects to many features of the Kyoto protocol (as do many people) that have created barriers to participation in action on climate change.

    Those with a more comprehensive understanding of his views and the views of others mentioned but misunderstood in this article, know that it is possible to advocate for moving as soon as possible to a low carbon economy while rejecting Kyoto. I don’t think that anyone who wants the U.S. and other countries to better face the expected resource issues related to climate change, never mind unforeseen consequences, would consider this New Republic blurb to be particularly useful. :-(

    • You are more than a little hyperbolic with ‘Nordhaus(and everyone else)’. Such rhetoric does not become you, Martha.
      =====================

      • Except there is no hyperbole: at the international level, climate action and debate and discussion on economic policy(ies) does not involve denial of what the geophysical science tells us about foreseen challenges (some of which are already being faced), apart from uncertainties around abrupt/unforeseen challenges.

        If you choose to swim around only in your own small bubble, I can appreciate that you may be honestly unaware.

      • Martha
        There certainly is hyperbole at the international level. Nations trying to get money for their corrupt systems do it often.

  54. I actually would like to see a typical hard-nosed BBC journalist like Jeremy Paxman interview someone like Inhofe or Corbyn. Skeptics should be careful what they ask for. BBC interviewers are far less tolerant of wishy-washy answers and runarounds than American ones, and in this way they give the impression of being less respectful, especially when you are used to American mainstream media interviews that let devious answers slide.

  55. The Article does not define “cost”. This money “cost” may have many benefits besides mitigation – such as; greater distribution of funds, more jobs, health and wellbeing improvements. Hence, to be critical because of a speculation that the money invested now is not greater-than or equal-to the long-term money returned, is far too naive.

    • Also, while the Nordhaus analysis is good, it came out in 2008 based on models and estimates from 2006. Climate science is moving fast. I imagine his conclusion — that aggressive mitigation should start immediately, and preferably via a carbon tax — would show stronger savings in money if repeated, as I hope it soon will be.

      Nordhaus’ more recent work estimates a SCC between $22-$30/ton.

  56. Why the decision to tackle global warming isn’t simple:

    Implausible Answer: It is presumed that the goal can be reached.

    Premature Question: It is assumed that tackling global warming is the appropriate question.

    Goal based research runs amok when the target is misconstrued and/or unreachable.

    The NASA lunar program is an interesting example. By criterion of meeting the objective, the program was clearly successful. Yet the final 3 missions were cancelled. Interest in the program dwindled after the successful Apollo 11 moon landing.

    Shifting the focus of effort towards Skylab and the space shuttle were perhaps bad choices for goals also. The space shuttle struggled because it was specified to be too many things for too many interests …

    Maybe climate science ought to reassess it’s purpose and direction of gaze?