How not to save the planet

by Judith Curry

Climate change presents us with a pressing challenge. A global consensus accepts that human activity is responsible for climate change and its associated dangers. However, there is disagreement on how best to address this challenge. The essay argues that leading proposals are unsatisfactory, such as the ecological footprint and polluter pays principle. The reasons include that they do not effectively manage climate change and may contribute to further problems. We require a new approach to address climate change.

Even if you don’t accept the consensus on AGW, I suspect that few of you would say with confidence that there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct, and zero future risk.  With that starting point, consider this paper by Thom Brooks of the University of Newcastle Law School “How Not to Save the Planet.”  Full paper is available online via oneclick download.

From the Introduction:

Our challenge is not to consider whether there is climate change, but how best to respond to it. While a global consensus accepts the existence of climate change, there is wide disagreement on how best to address this challenge. Mainstream proposals generally support one  of two competing approaches. Both approaches aim to effectively manage climate change to ensure its associated dangers do not lead to the planet becoming inhospitable for human beings. One approach is largely conservationist. Its goal is to reduce carbon emissions in order to end further contributing to climate change and, thus, better manage associated dangers by decreasing continued climate changes.9 A second approach is more focused on adaptation strategies. The goal is to better adapt ourselves to the environment so we become more effectively protected from the associated dangers of climate change. Whilst most proposals are to some extent impure and incorporate both conservation and adaptation measures, there remains a clear division between these approaches in the greater priority given to one measure over the other.

I will argue that argue that existing proposals are unsatisfactory. The reasons include that they fail to offer satisfactory proposals for future sustainability and lead to additional problems.My hope is to provide a more clear understanding of where existing proposals have gone wrong in order to demonstrate how future proposals may improve.

From the Conclusion:

These strategies share in a common mistake concerning the nature of the central problem. Both conservation and adaptation proponents claim their approach can solve the problems associated with climate change. Conservationists argue that adopting a policy based around ecological footprints or a polluter pays principle will lead to a sustainable future. Adaptation proponents claim we should focus our efforts on adapting to future climate change along with modest reductions in carbon emissions to ensure a sustainable future. Both approaches aim to offer an end-state solution to the problem of climate change: ‘The world now has the technologies and financial resources to stabilize climate’.

This is a mistake because there may be no happy ever after. It is false to believe that only human activity influences climatic changes or that human activity might end it. The problem is that we cannot stop the climate from changing. Our climate will change regardless of human activity and it has changed many times before human beings evolved: the problem is not that the climate is changing, but that it is changing so quickly. End-state solutions to the problem of climate change may be doomed to fail. Environmental catastrophe is not something to be avoided, but rather an event at best postponed.

Does this ultimately hand victory to the strategy of adaptation? No, it does not. The fact that our climate will change is not reason to exacerbate the arrival of unknown future conditions and our doing nothing will only make the situation much worse. Instead, we might approach climate change from a new perspective. Our focus should not only be on how we might reduce our environmental impact, but we should extend our focus to other questions: How to save the planet? Does it matter if an ice age is inevitable?

Philosophers have been mistaken to believe a sustainable future is an end-state and our primary focus. Instead, this may only be the beginning. If the climate may continually change, then we must change with it. This is the daunting challenge we face. Saving the plant may require more effort than we have thought.

JC comment:  IMO, this paper frames the challenge in a way that should spark some useful dialogue on the topic.

272 responses to “How not to save the planet

  1. “daunting challenge?” I am too lazy for daunting challenges, I do like a good puzzle though. So how about an experiment?

    Everyone is into feeding the poor, clean water for the underdeveloped nations and a great deal are into sustainability. So why not inspire the UN to buy about 200,000 acres of the Sahel from the goat herders, build desal and/or provide irrigation and plant some of those peanut trees.

    200,000 acres is not much land area, so of course it will have no impact on regional climate :) But it is a feel good experiment, for everyone but the goat herders, that is, so a little diplomacy would be in order.

    Since in the local African culture, the women are the farmers, this could be sold as a women’s right project. Give the goat herder’s women cell phones and they will be on board in a heartbeat. It will require Purina Goat Chow subsidies for the guys so they don’t feel too put off. A few wingnut rebels would need to be pacified or neutralized. It is doable though without too much bad press.

    Crazy idea right? Someone that wants to do the math could prove the albedo change is insignificant, +/-0.18Wm-2 I am sure :)

  2. There is the consensus fallacy again. Maybe it would have helped a lot if ACS was indeed true but I haven’t seen any evidence yet that withstood scrutiny.

    Oh and about ice ages, expect those to melt a bit too. There is a lot wrong with the last glacial maximum and it may look a lot different when we’re really getting the finger behind it; not nearly as glacial as it looks today.

    • Do you realize an Ice Age is a precipitation changing event rather than a temperature data event?

      • You bet it was. But with the changing of precipitation patterns, most likely induced by changing sea surface temperatures (MARGO Project, Nature Geoscience 2, 127 – 132 (2009) a lot of other things changed, precipitation isotope patterns, erroneously assumed to be ice core paleothermometers.

        Oh and there were also the highly ignored mammoths in high artic Siberia, disdaining all the models about the LGM, see for instance:
        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033589408000203

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Let’s call them glacials – to distinguish from cold events outside of the Quaternary period and the new pattern of cylic glacials and interglacials.

        Precipitation = evaporation over a few days – so rainfall decreases substantially in the cold. This is probably a different problem to drought in warm conditions.

      • Not really Chief Hydrologist,

        There is plenty of evidence that many several places were at about the same temperature as today, if not warmer. Most obviously, if youi have a random ice sheet somewhere, that generates it’s own local orographic (mountain) climate acting like one of the few real positive feedbacks. At other places there is no need to be cold.

        Also if sea surface temps are low for some reason, fewer clouds will form which can actually lead to warmer conditions due to higher albedo / more insolation.

        You really should read about the Siberian mammoths during the last glacial maximum. Another reference:
        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1040618205000650

        Arctic Siberia was much more arid during the last glacial maximum, this implied that there was hardly snow in the winter, unlike now. But the summer insolation was comparable to today. So the snow cover could disappear much faster, causing a longer growing season than currently, which explains that mammoths and moderate boreal flora thrived in the high arctic.

      • Snow melts much faster in the rain than in the sunshine. Much, much faster. A reduction in rainfall would explain the lack of summer melting more than any other factor. Everyone talks about w/m2 from radiation, while ignoring the much greater w/m2 from precipitation.

  3. Philosophers have been mistaken to believe a sustainable future is an end-state and our primary focus

    Er, not any philosophers I know – not Western, not Eastern….not even the French philosophers I’ve come across. Maybe Mr Brook is guessing, or sort of making it up?

    I hope I wasn’t the only reader to notice this little sleight of thinking -

    Our challenge is not to consider whether there is climate change, but how best to respond to it

    This sounds suspiciously like saying “It is not our business to consider whether or not there is a vampire lurking in the woods, but to hunt him down and stab him through the heart?” What?

    the problem is not that the climate is changing, but that it is changing so quickly.

    Really? Is that another part of the not-to-be-questioned consensus? I have to say I think that is either wild imagination or simply nonsense. Quite apart from the fact that the RSS satellite data next week will show 15 years of mild cooling, surely the worry [because that is what CAGW is - a 'worry] is that climate change will happen quickly in the future. It’s not happening quickly now – it’s struggling to happen at all.

    Environmental catastrophe is not something to be avoided, but rather an event at best postponed.

    I should have seen this earlier and realised that Mr Brook was significantly detached from reality. He gives the appearance of someone infected with irrational dooming, apocalyto-endian catastrophising and a perfect subject for a student of armaggedonology. He believes, seriously that a catastrophe is completely and utterly inevitable? I thought he worked at a Law School, not an end-time cult recruiting centre. Judith, sometimes you do pick some provocative posters!

    For final proof that we live in an age of fear and superstition the post ends with

    Saving the plant [sic..] may require more effort than we have thought.

    This is verging on the hilarious. For a grounding contrast we should ask ourselves how many times better adapted to the vagaries of the climate the average human is today – compared with people a hundred, or two hundred years ago. I think it is entirely reasonable to expect that in a hundred years from now, people will be considerably better adapted to climatic effects than we are today.

    I think we should leave ‘plant’-saving to botanists and sci-fi thriller writers.

    • I agree with A. ‘Changing so quickly’ betrays it.
      ============================

    • I wonder if he is related to Mel Brooks?

    • Judith wrote: “I suspect that few of you would say with confidence that there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct, and zero future risk.”

      Would you say that there is zero chance of an asteroid hitting the earth and killing billions or of a major volcanic eruption that has the same disastrous consequences? I rather doubt you would claim there is zero chance of those events happening either. So what?
      There is evidence that the planet’s climate changes. There is evidence that humans impact the climate. There is insufficient evidence to determine whether rising CO2 is necessarily a problem sufficient to warrant limiting its emission in via costly methods. There is no evidence that warrants giving monies from one nation to another over the issue.

    • Yes. You beat me to it. Some more or less sensible ideas in a cloud of unthought-out assumptions, that detract from the take-home message.

    • Anteros,

      Spare us the faux outrage. The author wants to ask a specific question- if we deem AGW to be a sufficient threat to warrant taking action then what is likely to be the most appropriate and effective course of action, and how does this contrast with established ways of considering the issue.

      Given that an awful lot of people do consider AGW to be a considerable threat – including most governments, who actually have the power to decide what course of action to follow, it is a perfectly reasonable question to ask. It is not necessary to prove from first principles that such concerns are valid or to try to persuade those who think otherwise.

      • hastur,

        Your, “Spare us your false outrage.” (to Aneros)

        It’s interesting, hastur, how different people judge a comment differently. For example, I did not detect any “outrage” in Anteros’ comment, “faux” or otherwise. Perhaps a tone of worldly-wise, seen-all-this-before equanimity in the face of yet another example of CAGW’s non-stop hustles and full-time knavery. But certainly not “outrage”

        Rather, Anteros’ comment seemed to me nothing more than a cool, methodical exposure of Mr. Brooks’ article in terms of Mr. Brooks’ manipulative language and “logic” and Mr. Brooks’ uncanny ability to anticipate just what his betters–those in “governments, who actually have the power to decide…”–want to hear. And, of course, the useful Mr. Brooks delivers accordingly.

        Yes, hastur, I admit a soupcon of tension does appear, perhaps, in Anteros’ comment. But that, if it means anything at all, is surely nothing more than a passing contempt, on Anteros’ part, for Mr. Brooks’ toady, lickspittel, impassioned butt-kissing.

        And, of course, Mr. Brooks’ betters are flaming, preposterous, gluttonous, yacht-bullet-proof-limousine-sprawling-mansion-private-jet-addicted carbon-hoggie hypocrites. But that is a subject a good little courtier-parasite like Mr. Brooks will neither notice nor mention, we can be sure. And, for a certainty, as you and I both know, hastur, the estimable, knows-his-place Mr. Brooks will never urge his betters–two-faced monstrosities of carbon-piggery, that they are–to lead by example and from the front in reducing the carbon in “our” lifestyles–after all, such sacrifices are only for us tacky, tax-paying hoi-polloi, right hastur?

        Again, hastur, I could find no “outrage” or, indeed, any other strong emotion in Anteros’ comment. Sorry. On the contrary, all the strong emotion in the exchange between you two seemed to be on your part, hastur. And your reaction was a very curious one, hastur–hard to really describe. Something like the alarmed and ready-to-fight reflex you might expect if, say, some greenshirt flunky, with a cushy, high-carbon gig, suddently sensed a threat to his useless-eater good-deal. Or maybe, something along the lines of an aroused, ill-tempered, carbon-sow hack in the defense of her carbon-piglet acolytes and her oink!-oink!, grunt!-grunt!, snort!-snort!, suck!-suck! trough and its generous load of taxpayer-scammed, high-carbon swill.

        Or something like that.

      • Hastur : Given that an awful lot of people do consider AGW to be a considerable threat … It is not necessary to prove from first principles that such concerns are valid or to try to persuade those who think otherwise.

        To plagiarize another commenter somewhat : given that an awful lot of people do consider burning in Hades to be a considerable threat, we should just focus on how to best deal with this, and not trouble ourselves with actually examining the threat’s validity.

        It’s a lot like Naomi Orestes’s desperate ‘just please have blind faith in the priesthood’ approach. Even though we know from the priest’s emails that they are lying through their teeth.

      • Punksta,

        Of course it is perfectly reasonable to consider the question of whether AGW really is a threat and, if so, to what extent. My point was that it it’s also possible to have a discussion on possible strategies for tackling AGW based on an assumption that the threat is real.

      • Hastur, you are suggesting that skeptics should seriously discuss how best to respond to a threat we do not believe in. This would be a waste of time. We need to discuss how best to cure these governments and people of their false beliefs. That challenge is quite enough to occupy us fully.

      • David,

        No, I’m not suggesting that skeptics have to take part in any such discussion. You are entirely free to take part in whatever discussions you feel are interesting and relevant. My point is that I think it is useful to have discussions on differing strategies and approaches for combatting AGW and for the purpose of such discussions it is OK to work on the assumption that AGW is a threat and it’s not necessary to prove it from first principles.

      • David;
        Governments rarely are curable. Euthenasia is normally necessary.

        hastur;
        No, it’s not OK to proceed on that assumption. Not on our dime.

    • …in the face of yet another example of CAGW’s non-stop hustles and full-time knavery.

      I love it when “skeptics” base their thinking on conspiracy theories.

    • mike,

      Maybe “indignation” would be a better word than “outrage”

  4. The introduction and conclusions are empty talk. Just BS buzzwords.
    After this, I see no point in reading the paper itself.
    “Our challenge is not to consider whether there is climate change, but how best to respond to it.”
    That is manifestly absurd. If there is no (Antrophogenic) climate change, there is nothing to respond to.
    I really don’t begin to understand what this is about.

  5. Judith,

    How can they save the planet when they have no clue to how it functions?
    Temperature data is not a physical process. It is a recording of processes taking effect.

  6. Judith,

    I was reviewing my salt trail data.
    Do you realize how much salt is trapped in many places on dry land?
    And theory has it it was done by inland seas.
    But the MASS AMOUNT and land height do NOT support this especially in mountainous regions and the time line to the mass is very much out of sequence at being too young in the time line.
    Considering, we still have not lost a single drop of water to space by our current scientists time lines.

    • Latimer Alder

      Please show your data. Or hold your peace.

      Funny – there used to be a guy around here called Joe Lalonde who had some bonkers ideas with lots of innuendo about his wonderful theories but never actually revealed what they were. Bored everybody here witless for months.

      Isn’t it a strange coincidence that you and he share both a name and the same approach to disclosure……..

  7. Great article.
    The pullback from fantasy mitigation is gaining some momentum.
    There are still the false assumptions- that the climate of today is changing in unusual fashion, for instance. But recovery from social manias is for many an incremental process. This article reflects a significant step in the right direction.

    • heh heh. The best take home here is that the ‘crisis of the moment’ is usually exaggerated with respect to the known past and the unknown future.

      • billc -

        I was about to agree with you when I couldn’t think of a counter-factual to your ‘usually’ I don’t know of a single instance when the crisis of the moment has not been exaggerated with respect to the known past and the unknown future. That is what we do – that is what it is to be human!

      • must be that hobgoblin. OTOH I think there is usefulness in the “sustainability” concept, tragedy of the commons and all that. i think it is possible to talk about sustainability and still be respectful of the human capacity to adapt, innovate etc. maybe what we don’t really have is any notion of how to define sustainability on a scale other than local, maybe not planetary, and it always has bounds, it’s not a god. fisheries have made some good strides i think. you could always say, well we can find another food source, but i think it’s always relevant to consider if we have to or if it’s “best” to. if decarbonizing were free would you do it?

      • Latimer Alder

        Its actually quite a sensible evolutionary response.

        The little furry animal that learns that its best to run away from anything suspicious gets to have more babies than the one who has a more laid back approach.Because one time in lots, it really will be a predator making the twig snap or the shadow appear. And then its curtains for the LFA that doesn’t react.

        So we are naturally pre-programmed to believe that our own circumstances are pretty dire. It may not make much intellectual sense, but evolution works on whether you get eaten or not…rather than on passing philosophy exams.

    • Hunter, I see it more as a field-preserving “positioning” exercise. The whole field of climate “science” is bloated beyond belief and a huge waste of resources. The smart money in climate catastrophism foresees the imminent collapse of the global warming narrative, and rightly sees that, thanks to its own efforts, the public and policymakers see climate “science”, global warming. and CO2 reduction as essentially interchangeable terms – lose the useful idiots on one of them, and you lose the lot Desperate to preserve its “relevance”, and the continuing need for its services, once the “warming” has clearly stopped, we’re seeing these positioning moves, whose Orwellian purpose is to convince the source of its wealth that WHATEVER happens, it needs to keep coughing up.

      I still like my chain-sawing through the CAGW bough analogy. The carbon-monkeys are huddled on the wrong side of the sawcut, and the smarter of them have started to try to figure out elegant ways of getting to the safe side without being shredded by the chainsaw.

      Josh, you there?

  8. Norm Kalmanovitch

    “Even if you don’t accept the consensus on AGW, I suspect that few of you would say with confidence that there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct, and zero future risk.”
    The 14.77micron band of the Earth’s radiative spectrum is already so saturated from the current 390 ppmv atmospheric CO2 concentration that it is impossible for a further doubling of CO2 to enhance the greenhouse effect by any more than 0.4°C and satellite measurements of OLR since 1979 demonstrate that the 57.1% increase in CO2 emissions in the past 31 years (2010 reference) has not even caused a detectable change in the Earth’s greenhouse effect let alone the 0.782W/m^2 predicted by the fabricated CO2 forcing parameter which drives the climate models on which the IPCC bases its catastrophic projections of human caused global warming.
    CO2 is increasing at just 2ppmv/year so even if this 0.4°C of warming from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration were to take place as a result of CO2 emissions; it would be 195 years from now and the planet does not have to be saved from a 0.4°C global temperature increase 195 years from now!!!
    In this light every knowledgeable and honest scientist would say with absolute confidence that there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct and that there is zero future risk of catastrophic global warming from CO2 emissions; anyone who will not make this claim is either ignorant or not an honest scientist.
    The world is currently cooling with the latest predictions for solar cycle 25 to have virtually no sunspots similar to the Maunder minimum that resulted in the Little Ice Age and the Dalton Minimum that returned the world to the Little Ice Age conditions in the early 1800′s as depicted in this statement from the abstract posted below:
    “This trend was seen to continue in observations of the first sunspots of the new solar Cycle 24, and extrapolating a linear fit to this trend would lead to only half the number of spots in Cycle 24 compared to Cycle 23, and imply virtually no sunspots in Cycle 25.”
    We cannot save the planet from either the fictitious global warming or the real life global cooling but we can save ourselves from its devastating effects by abandonning this foolishness about human caused global warming and restore our energy generating capabilities to the level necessary to cope with the impending harsh conditions of global cooling

    arXiv:1009.0784v1 [astro-ph.SR] 3 Sep 2010
    To appear in IAU Symposium No. 273
    Long-term Evolution of Sunspot Magnetic Fields
    Matthew J. Penn
    and
    William Livingston
    National Solar Observatory1, 950 N Cherry Av, Tucson AZ 85718
    mpenn@nso.edu
    ABSTRACT
    Independent of the normal solar cycle, a decrease in the sunspot magnetic field strength has been observed using the Zeeman-split 1564.8nm Fe I spectral line at the NSO Kitt Peak McMath-Pierce telescope. Corresponding changes in sunspot brightness and the strength of molecular absorption lines were also seen. This trend was seen to continue in observations of the first sunspots of the new solar Cycle 24, and extrapolating a linear fit to this trend would lead to only half the number of spots in Cycle 24 compared to Cycle 23, and imply virtually no sunspots in Cycle 25. We examined synoptic observations from the NSO Kitt Peak Vacuum Telescope and initially (with 4000 spots) found a change in sunspot brightness which roughly agreed with the infrared observations. A more detailed examination (with 13,000 spots) of
    both spot brightness and line-of-sight magnetic flux reveals that the relationship of the sunspot magnetic fields with spot brightness and size remain constant during the solar cycle. There are only small temporal variations in the spot brightness, size, and line-of-sight flux seen in this larger sample. Because of the apparent disagreement between the two data sets, we discuss how the infrared spectral line provides a uniquely direct measurement of the magnetic fields in sunspots.

  9. Catastrophism aside it all looks like the reinventing of the wheel.

    The only safety (and this is a truism) is in being adaptABLE not adaptED.

    • Spot on. And what do we know of in the Universe that is supremely adaptable? Ourselves!!

      Why the panic and hair-tearing when there is nothing outside of our adaptable nature?

      • Stirling English

        @anteros

        ‘Why the panic….?’

        Mencken nearly said it all when he observed that

        ‘The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary’.

        And this is even better advice if you are an academic who requires an endless stream of other people’s money to keep you away from real work, or a ‘lobbyist’ who needs their cause to be front and centre of discussion lest the sizzle goes out of your sausage and funding dries up.

        Best advice of all if you are climatologits when you need to fit into both camps.

    • As so often, Maurizio puts it in a nutshell.

      Re the posted extract – “It is false to believe that only human activity influences climatic changes or that human activity might end it. The problem is that we cannot stop the climate from changing. Our climate will change regardless of human activity and it has changed many times before human beings evolved: ….”. So far so good. Geology and paleoclimatology tell us that. Nothing new there, but no harm in repeating it. But then he goes on: “…the problem is not that the climate is changing, but that it is changing so quickly.” Now where did he get that idea from?

    • k scott denison

      “The only safety (and this is a truism) is in being adaptABLE not adaptED.”

      Bingo! For any who would doubt, I’d ask at what time during man’s presence on the planet was the species NOT adapting I order to survive?

      • Exactamundo :)

      • Stirling English

        Ah but , unlike every other mindless panic that parts of the human race have succumbed to – which have all come to nought – this one is different! This is the real McCoy. This is the Big One!

        Somehow humanity got through plagues and fires and tempests and eruptions and tsunamis and famines and droughts and floods and all the bad things of history (and even the change of the year from 1999 to 2000). But that was just luck.

        A very gentle rise in temperature from 287.0K to 289.1K over five generations (nearly a whole half degree every thirty years or so…quite quite terrifying!) will prove to be so far beyond our ability to adapt that the entire human race is doomed unless we take drastic action as recommended by the High Priests of Alarmism starting right now.

        Today. No delay. Send us money immediately, lest your great great great great great grandchildren might never see snow again. We have a list of approved ways in which you can totally destroy your wealth to show how much you care.

        ‘Invest’ in one or more of:

        Onshore wind (quite wealth destroying)
        Offshore wind in the North Sea (really wealth destroying)
        Solar PV in Northern Europe (quite mind-bogglingly wealth destroying – are you having a laugh?)
        Electric cars (now you are really taking the p..s)

        Whichever way to poverty you choose, be consoled that it won’t make the slightest bit of difference, But you will have a warm glow of smug satisfaction that you are ‘Doing Your Bit’

        Send us money now! You know its totally futile, but Mother Gaia needs your cash – and has authorised us to spend it on her behalf.

      • Worthy of one of Latimer’s comments ;)

        True, too -

        This time it’s different!!

      • Latimer Alder

        And speaking of exercises in futility, Peter Cook had it nailed a while back

      • spot on Scott,
        if it wasn’t industrial revolution / CO2, would 9 billion people survived in 2050 without adaptation?! Without the benefits of the industrial revolution, the earth cannot sustain more than 2 billion people. They never tell how they plan to get read of 5 extra billion. Hitler got read of only 50 million; many people think that Adolf was a naughty boy. Compare 50 million V getting read / starve 5 billion

  10. I really like that Brooks and others focus on a process rather than an end-point; and that sustainability is discussed as a concept that might help us make sense of the complexity of this process, and move forward.

    However, since there real and profound differences in the interests at play between countries and between people, with differing abilities to influence decision-making, I don’t underestimate the challenges, regardless of the concepts we use to make sense of it.

    Poor countries and poor people care about the most basic health and education issues, and their need for assistance and adaptation is dire in comparison to countries and individuals who are in a better position to cope. It comes down to political justice issues, and international frameworks that can become part of a process of addressing these issues. It is not clear to me that the old U.N. framework supports such a process.

    But maybe a guiding concept of sustainability will shape new international negotiations in ways that might get us unstuck. And help us with domestic policy and individual behaviour. :-)

    http://the-brooks-blog.blogspot.com/

    • Martha – as long as sustainability does not imply a steady-state or a return to the past, which you do not seem to be implying, I agree.

    • Martha,
      In what way will climate science help people in poor countries accomplish what you claim they wish to accomplish?

    • Martha,
      You believe in helping the underdeveloped (poor) people of the world.
      Fine.
      They surely need help with food, clean water, housing, etc.
      How does wasting the money on windmills in the west help the poor people? Wouldn’t it be better to use the money for direct help ?
      What has that got to do with climate?

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘How does wasting the money on windmills in the west help the poor people?’

        But does absolutely nothing to help poor people anywhere.

        The true purpose of windmills is the same as those of medieval cathedrals. They are erected in an attempt to save the mortal souls of the true believers. In olden days it was the Wrath of God that concerned them…today it is the good opinion of Gaia. But the impulse is identical.

        ‘See – oh great one – how holy I am. I cause these wonderful structures to be erected. Pointless they are, wasteful of time and effort and resources and everything else..but they show just how much I love you. Save my soul!’

        But at least cathedrals look nice. Windmills are just completely f…g pointless.

      • History is sorely lacking in examples where one society “helps” another to their benefit.

    • Martha -

      Have you considered that the burgeoning obsession with ‘sustainablility’ is actually an expression of a something else? Like irrational fear?
      It has an uncanny similarity with the old cliche of ‘righteousness’. That too became ubiuitous and tacked on to every phrase as a fear or guilt-inducing modifier. Everything was judged in terms of whether or not it was ‘righteous’. But nearly 2000 years ago some wisdom went unheeded which was that ‘those who seek to make a virtue of righteousness will never be righteous’

      An obsession with ‘sustainability’ is similar. Everything glorious about the history of the human enterprise has been based on precisiely the opposite of sustainability. Each one a stepping stone to newer and better ways of doing things. Without each passing period of unsustainable behaviour and processes, there would have been no leap to new vistas. No industrial revolution, no space flight, no modern medicine.
      Without unnecssary fear, there is no need for the universal obsession
      for everything to be ‘sustainable’.

      The two essential components of life on earth are elements and energy. Neither of them are going to ‘run out’. In human terms, ever.
      Sustainablilty from this perspective is a non-issue, an unnecessary worry, but a good candidate for when the current panic over CAGW runs its course.

      • Anteros -

        . Everything glorious about the history of the human enterprise has been based on precisiely the opposite of sustainability.

        Basing all decisions of prioritizing sustainability above all else would make little sense. Considering the factor of sustainability at times does make sense.

        If we decide not to pump unlimited amounts of soot into the air, it is essentially because such a practice is not sustainable. The “not sustainable” practice of pumping unlimited amounts of soot into the air is not exactly glorious.

        I think that your alarmsm about sustainability is a bit alarimist, Anteros.

      • billc -

        I saw that and considered the overlap.

        I think that the problems with Anteros’ rant are a lack of definition, context, and quantification of scale – which you speak to.

        For example, try running a business without prioritizing, at some level, the sustainability of a competitive advantage.

      • Joshua -
        I don’t think your efforts to characterise my comments about sustainability as alarmist quite holds up. I’m endeavouring to do two things – to point out how unnecessary it is, and to find a place for it – to see where it emanates from.

        As I said, it is a product of unnecessary worry.

        Of course, I confess to some rhetorical exaggeration – but barely noticeable in comparison to the extraordinary prevalence of the new buzz-phrase, tagged on to almost any sentence just to convey ‘goodness’. Sustainable work practices, manufacturing, mining, development, trade, job creation – have you seen a suggestion for some kind of activity in the last couple of years that hasn’t had the ubiquitous ‘sustainable’ tagged on to the end of it? Banking? Building? Transport?, Energy?

        When you say

        Considering the factor of sustainability at times does make sense.

        I couldn’t agree more.

        The situation we have at present,though, seems more like the opposite – where ‘sustainablity’ should be assumed to be critical in all circumstances…..unless otherwise specified.

        My observation is that the obsession with sustainability seems to correlate with guilt as well as worry – we shouldn’t ‘use things up’. Hence my point about elements and energy.

        I think there is a deep background to the emotions involved, and as a rule I’d prefer to see [in myself as much as others] boldness and courage and a certain amount of risk-taking, rather than guilt [or shame], worry and timidity.

      • Anteros -

        The situation we have at present,though, seems more like the opposite – where ‘sustainablity’ should be assumed to be critical in all circumstances…..unless otherwise specified.

        Depending on context and definition, sustainability is pretty dang critical and a fundamental consideration: Do you eat every day?

        I think that your concern about those who “[assume sustainability] to be critical in all circumstances is a bit overwrought. Long term viability is sustainability by another name. Survivability is sustainability by another name.

        If you want to point to particular counterproductive prioritization of sustainability have at it. I don’t imagine that between us we couldn’t come up with quite a few examples. But I’m quite sure that I could give you many, many examples where a lack of consideration of sustainability was a death sentence.

        It seems to me that to be of any real importance – and I’m not dismissing the notion that too much prioritization of sustainability could be counterproductive – you need to be specific about definition, scale, and context. Otherwise, Anteros, I must be honest that your analysis seems quite alarmist to me.

        Good things can emanate from worry, and bad things can emanate from excess worry. I’m not sure where that realization gets us.

      • Anteros -

        One more consideration:

        I think there is a deep background to the emotions involved, and as a rule I’d prefer to see [in myself as much as others] boldness and courage and a certain amount of risk-taking, rather than guilt [or shame], worry and timidity.

        Guilt, shame, worry, and timidity are all fundamental human attributes. Now you talk quite often about humans’ ability to adapt and change, and they have done so despite the very strong element of those potentially negative attributes you’re so worried about.

        I find some irony in reading much lamenting about how the “latest scare” is so endemic to those other people in society (not us, of course). It seems to me that this concern about the “latest scare” may just be one of the latest scares.

      • Joshua -

        For you to make even a slight case for my observations being a ‘scare’ or ‘alarmist’, I think you’re going to need some evidence. I mean the disasters and catastrophes that I have asserted will result from the human foibles I’ve identified.

        The reason I don’t think you’ll find any – at all – is because there are none, and I have claimed none.

        I have merely made the observation itself – with some obvious ridicule, I admit – and what I see neither scares me nor alarms me.

        I see only those things that have always been prevalent in human nature and behaviour. I believe it is incredibly rare for people to change regarding these things but who knows. I myself became non-alarmist by reading the history of doomsday thinking.

        There are many things about the future people find as candidates for potential catastrophes. I don’t see any potential catastrophe from the recent flourishing obsession with sustainability, bizarre though it is.

      • Anteros -

        I think we’re getting close to arguing in circles, so I’ll try once more and see if it shifts our direction. If not, I’ll let this stand as my final post to you on this topic.

        For you to make even a slight case for my observations being a ‘scare’ or ‘alarmist’, I think you’re going to need some evidence.

        I see your rhetoric as reflecting alarmism – even though I recognize that it may not be completely congruent with your perspective; in fact, I assume that you’re not running out and building a shelter because you’re concerned about too much focus on sustainability.

        So my point is to get you to eliminate what I see as hyperbole rather than double-down on it.

        Here’s an example from the first paragraph of your first comment to Martha:

        Have you considered that the burgeoning obsession with ‘sustainablility’ is actually an expression of a something else? Like irrational fear?

        Obsession, without qualification, is an entirely subjective determination,. Now I might say that steve mosher is obsessed with proving that he’s more intelligent than I am (for some odd reason), and he might deny that he is so obsessed. Who is right?

        How are you attributing “fear?” How are you defining “irrational?”

        Now you are asking there whether Martha has considered a possibility – and as such asking someone to consider a possibility is not necessarily in itself alarmist – but as I read your comment there, and certainly many other related comments that you have made, you are arguing rhetorically that such obsession based on irrational fear is pretty ubiquitous.

        While I agree with you that we can certainly find examples where concerns about sustainability are overwrought, I would question whether we could prove an analysis that there is a predominance when compared to concerns about sustainability being justifiably prudent.

        Certainly, it is my belief that there is no over-riding balance to sustain a view that obsessions based in irrational fear about sustainability are ubiquitous enough to be particularly concerned about. I think that being very particularly concerned about such an imbalance seems alarmist.

        I don’t see evidence that the world is suffering to any great extent from an obsessions with sustainability derived from irrational fears. And I can certainly point you to many, many examples today and throughout history where a lack of consideration of sustainability have caused great harm.

        I think that to get beyond general rhetorical bantering, we need to contextualize the debate with more precise scale and definition.

      • steven mosher

        Joshua, one doesn’t prove facts. One displays them.

      • Anteros

        Let’s add another favorite PC buzzword to your “sustainable” and “righteous”,/em>:

        “FAIR”

      • I’m still not quite with you on the fear, Anteros. These people don’t behave like truly frightened people. Try a pharisaical parade of bourgeois virtue, combined with a few messianic egotists like Hansen, then lace it with the buzz people get from scaring themselves by watching a sci-fi movie, and it’s a pretty potent package.

      • “An obsession with ‘sustainability” “Everything glorious about the history of the human enterprise has been based on precisiely the opposite of sustainability” etc

        The bad news is that that is one obnoxious little colonialist opinion. :-(

        For starters, I don’t think you understand the concept of sustainability, which has gone by many different names throughout human history, and across cultures. An understanding of natural cycles and resources is very basic to human societies, and always has been (unless you have superpowers), with the specifics open to different historical times and different types of societies. The basic idea is understod by people all around the world, often as part of their direct lived experience and their daily livelihood and economy.

        In other words, the basic meaning of sustainability is not a creation of Western ecologists, the environmental movement, or climate science. If you want to intelligently examine its use by ecologists for the past 40 years old and by the U.N. and nation-states for 30 years, that’s great: but you’ll have to do better than ignoring most of human history and wiping out all the people in the world who continue to live on the land and by the sea.

        The good news? You can carry on, because no one is looking to opinions like yours to tell them anything about adaptive agricultural management, sustainable development issues e.g. in the North, or anything else related to environment or climate change. :-)

      • Martha -

        I was very aware of your obnoxious characteristics, but had no idea that you were so ill-informed.

        Your grasp of history is pitiful – and an environmentalist fantasy that is at complete odds with all the evidence. But that is par for the course with people hypnotised by the misunderstanding or meme of sustainability.

        History is littered with people living unsustainably in one manner, and then being forced to find another, usually better way. Every single country on earth has gone through the process of cutting down all it’s forest unsustainably for one reason or another, and being better off for doing so. North American Indians showed just how unsustainably you can live by exterminating one species after another and moving on to the next. Climate changed, so they unsustainably burned the hell out of the prairies every year to unsustainably keep the inappropriate landscape. Why not? It worked.

        When were fuels ever used sustainably? And of course, we’re better off for having gone through their use. Including timber, peat, whale oil, oil, gas and coal. All unsustainably since the beginning of civilisation.

        The only places where lifegiving development is prevented is where ignorant NGO’s peddle the kind of sustainabilist crap that means people live in conditions that the NGO parasites wouldn’t allow at home for their dogs.

        I bet you think we should have left all that unsustainable fossil fuel in the ground. You’d certainly have made sure that life expectancy remained half what it is today. Would that have suited you?

      • @martha

        ‘An understanding of natural cycles and resources is very basic to human societies, and always has been (unless you have superpowers), with the specifics open to different historical times and different types of societies’

        Please assure me – by the use of several independent and concrete examples – that this high-faluting sentence has more meaning than that the sun rises once a day and the seasons go around once a year everywhere.

        Because if you can’t, my BS detector is working at high performance when I read it. And this is the sort of immature and trivial thinking you base your career on?

      • An obsession with ‘sustainability’ is similar. Everything glorious about the history of the human enterprise has been based on precisiely the opposite of sustainability.
        [...]
        Without unnecssary fear, there is no need for the universal obsession
        for everything to be ‘sustainable’.
        [...]
        Sustainablilty from this perspective is a non-issue, an unnecessary worry, but a good candidate for when the current panic over CAGW runs its course. [emphasis added -hro]

        Quite so. And indeed the “sustainable development” architects-in-chief have already drawn up the preliminary plans (including a “Call for action: Now”) ready for adoption at the upcoming June Rio-fest. Pls. see:

        Of hypocrites, high-level panels and … sherpas and silos

      • hro001 -
        I came to a realisation this afternoon. Looking through historical examples, of course many thousands of glorious things occurred, were possible, and wouldn’t have existed had there been an obsession with sustainability.
        Obvious and really important.

        But at the same time, where things were happily sustainable everything was Hunky Dory too – no need to do anything new, just potter along with the same food/fuel/technology/medicine.

        And then I realised what is so pernicious in the modern obsession with ‘sustainability’. It is the guilt or fear-driven need to impose it on everything – to treat it as a sort of mantra and therefore to brand anything ‘unsustainable’ as morally bad.

        So using peat as a fuel was always terrible because it was unsustainable and was always going to run out? And charcoal to fuel the industrial revolution? Then coal, Gas , Oil – all awful because they are unsustainable?

        It’s like leaps into the dark are not allowed because humanity might come to harm! Things might go wrong! We might get punished for using up too much stuff! Jeepers, we might get thrown out of the Garden of Eden AGAIN!!!!

        There’s nothing wrong with sustainability – if it isn’t used as a proxy for expressing guilt or fear and as a means to prevent exuberant development for all.

        [Glad I got that one sorted out ;) ]

      • Ant, You have a severely limited perspective. The question is not about qualitatively running out, it is about doing a halfway decent quantitative analysis of energy resources. And that is something you don’t seem to appreciate, but that some of us put a lot of effort into.

    • k scott denison

      ” Poor countries and poor people care about the most basic health and education issues, and their need for assistance and adaptation is dire in comparison to countries and individuals who are in a better position to cope. It comes down to political justice issues, and international frameworks that can become part of a process of addressing these issues. ”

      Please correct me if I’m wrong. This sounds like: “we need to redistribute the wealth and since the old UN framework isn’t working we should try something new using AGW as the cover.”

      AGW as cover for “social justice”. Would love to have someone explain to me how that is “justice” in the eyes of the developed countries, i.e. how exactly is wasting the developed world’s money justice?

      • Basically, you can read my response to Anteros, above, and infer what you need to.

        I suggest that concern about climate change is just one part of an ongoing process of sorting out what’s right and what’s wrong, between people.

      • Martha -

        You’ve inadvertently given the game away.
        By professing to know what is right and wrong between other people, you’re confessing your authoritarian and dictatorial nature. It is nothing. To do. With you.
        I guess a world government is fine with you, as long as it behaves in exactly the way you want. Effectively, your world government.

        Ever applied for the job of God?

      • k scott denison

        Precisely my thought as well Anteros. We now know that Martha sees her role as taking care of the rest of us, or as she sees us, those who can’t take care of themselves. I’ll pass on that type of help.

  11. The cliche factor and questionable assertions in the excerpts are enough to keep me from reading this paper. It is hubris to think you can “save the plan[e|t.”

  12. Even if you don’t accept the consensus on AGW, I suspect that few of you would say with confidence that there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct, and zero future risk.

    Comments so far suggest you may have been over optimistic here ;)

    The piece provides a useful perspective though I think he gets carried away talking about planning for ice ages. The timescales involved are about ten times longer than any known semblences of human civilisation. To some extent you might as well talk about planning for the engulfment of the Earth in the Sun’s Red Giant phase, or the ultimate heat death of the Universe.

    • ” I suspect that few of you would say with confidence that there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct, and zero future risk.”

      But again, as aptly demonstrated above, that’s not the question though is it.

      Can anyone say there is zero risk of an apocalyptic nuclear war next month? Or of a massive bioterrorism attack that wipes out half the globe? Or a meteorite/asteroid colision?

      The degree of qualification is VITAL.

      Zero percent change of the IPCC being correct? NOt a chance.
      0.5% chance? Yup
      5 %? chance? Another yup
      10% chance? Most likely

      and so on. All the way up to 50%, where i think most here WOULD disagree.

      There’s a degree of psychological manipulation going on with both the ops post AND the wording of that phrase, be it deliberate or not- it’s there. The trick as ever, is to spot it.

      Luckily scientists are trained to spot these tiny but crucial distinctions, so we should be fine…. oh… crap… climate science…. :-)

  13. I just read this paper and my general reaction is that it is rather sophomoric.

  14. A global consensus accepts that human activity is responsible for climate change and its associated dangers.

    There is no global consensus! That is why many of us read and write here.

    • Norm Kalmanovitch

      There is a global consensus but the consensus is that there has been no detectable global warming since 1998 in spite of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels increasing from 24,530.5million Metric tonnes per year in 1998 to 33,158.4 million metric tonnes per year in 2010 (the last full year for emissions data) because this is what all five global temperature datasets demonstrate and scientific consensus is based entirely on data.
      If proper science protocol was at play none of us would be reading and writing here because there would be no necessity for this blog to exist!

    • There IS a “global consensus” (that there is no “global consensus”).

      Max

  15. I know that climate scientists are busy figuring out how unprecedentedly fast the climate is changing although, if I recall correctly, someone, maybe Chief has said that the climate has changed rapidly on a decade scale in the past and will likely change on a decade scale in the future; maybe we are in the midst of such changing right now. Who knows, time will tell.
    What I learn from the television & politicos, climate change is all about “guilt giving”; whether job creation or feeding hungry children in The Democratic Republic of Congo. Wealth redistribution; tax wealthy to build lithium ion batteries in Indiana, or tax G-20 countries to build mounds around the Maldives. In whatever scenario, the agenda is the same, perpetrated and packaged by the same green movement. Kinda like lipstick on a pig.
    As for me, I read and go for a walk, and think, and observe. During this unprecedented mild winter, the snow fall for the month of January in my neck-of-the-woods is 13.7 inches and the month normal is 13.8 inches. There are reported 373,000 children in Wisconsin receiving free school lunches yet there are nowhere near 373,000 children in the State coming from families falling near the poverty level. True? Not true? The climate is changing? yes. There are kids who need free lunches? yes. What to believe, and, especially act upon? Time for me to thrust my hands in my pockets, keep them from doing something hasty and foolish, and go for a walk.

    • RiH008,
      You peg one of the really weak links in the consensus: On one hand we hear from paleo-climatologists that sudden changes in climate are well documented in the ancient record.
      Then on the other hand we hear from fear mongers that things are changing rapidly today, and that is very dangerous.
      Then there is the well documented CO2 lag to temperature in the record that is never well explained. Add to that the lack of change in the metrics of extreme weather, and there are multiple lines of failure in the apocalyptic consensus that climategate demonstrates are known, but covered up.
      Then go to the missing heat problem, the troposphere not behaving as predicted, the hidden decline, and the way AGW promoters attempt to reverse the null hypothesis and a picture of a deeply flawed and unworkable process emerges.

      • hunter,

        On one hand we hear from paleo-climatologists that sudden changes in climate are well documented in the ancient record.
        Then on the other hand we hear from fear mongers that things are changing rapidly today, and that is very dangerous.

        Why would that be a contradiction?

        Then there is the well documented CO2 lag to temperature in the record that is never well explained.

        It’s been explained a million times. Changes in temperature can lead to changes in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Changes in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere can also cause changes in temperature. Which one comes first determines whether the CO2 effect is considered a forcing or a feedback.

      • hastur,
        You have explained nothing that has any place outside of religious discussions.
        Additionally, you only addressed one of my points.

      • hunter,

        Actually I addressed two of them, which is two more than the number of my points which you addressed. I would be interested to know why the fact that CO2 can act as both a forcing and a feedback only has a place in “religious dicsussions”. And also why there is a contradiction between AGW being a threat now and there being radid climate changes in the ancient past.

      • Latimer Alder

        @hastur

        ‘It’s been explained a million times. Changes in temperature can lead to changes in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Changes in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere can also cause changes in temperature. Which one comes first determines whether the CO2 effect is considered a forcing or a feedback’

        Somewhere in your words the ‘explanation’ bit passed me by. Perhaps a diagram would help?

        Because otherwise it seems less of an explanation and more a semantic discussion about the meaning of ‘forcing’ or ‘feedback’. Which sounds like the sort of argument you might get into at a ‘climate change’ conference after 15 pints of Old Beardie’s ‘Global Winter Warmer’ but is a subject I have very little interest in. Why should I care about one or the other?

        PS .. every time a remark is prefaced with ‘its all been explained a million times before’, my guard is up for handwaving and wishful thinking. The phrase is perilously close to ‘As I have stated many times before’….which is Tony Blair’s cover line to give him time to think ‘f..k me I haven’t thought of that before..I better make something up quick and hope it sounds plausible’. And TB is/was a master at it.

      • LA,

        The “CO2 lags temperature” argument is one of the oldest and most debunked contrarian canards, I find it hard to believe that people such as yourselves and hunter who regularly read and comment on climate blogs have not seen the arguments before. Almost as hard as believing that you don’t understand the difference between a forcing or a feedback or why it is not merely a semantic point.

        But if you want a more detailed explanation (including diagrams) there is one here.

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-lags-temperature-intermediate.htm

      • Latimer Alder

        @hastur

        Even more than ‘this has all been explained a million times’, my bullshit detector rises almost off the scale when I read

        ‘one of the most debunked contrarian canards’.

        Particularly when I see it used about a point that I didn’t make and wasn’t alluding to.

        Just wanted to know why I should care about the difference between a feedback and a forcing.

        And having read the piece of flim flam you refer to I come upon this magnificent piece of circular argument:

        ‘As the Southern Ocean warms, the solubility of CO2 in water falls (Martin 2005). This causes the oceans to give up more CO2, emitting it into the atmosphere. The exact mechanism of how the deep ocean gives up its CO2 is not fully understood but believed to be related to vertical ocean mixing (Toggweiler 1999). The process takes around 800 to 1000 years, so CO2 levels are observed to rise around 1000 years after the initial warming (Monnin 2001, Mudelsee 2001)’.

        Note especially the logic here:

        We do not know what causes this (… the exact mechanism is not fully understood….= we haven’t a clue). But we know that it takes a thousand years (based on a lucky guess). And hey presto…we see that the effect is apparent in 1000 years. So our initial assumption is correct. Yippee! And damn those contrarian deniers.

        Pathetic.

        Unless you can come up with some reasonable mechanism and some reasoned argument that this process takes 1000 years (dissolving CO2 in water and its reverse is pretty quick when you open a coke can), then you really don’t have any actual explanation at all.

        And I’m still no nearer understanding the difference between a forcing and a feedback. Neither, I suspect, are you.

      • Latimer Alder

        @hastur

        On further reflection, the SS answer you reference to the question

        ‘Why are CO2 concentrations 1000 years behind the temperature observations’

        is a long-winded way of saying:

        ‘Because its magic, sucker. Consider yourself debunked, contrarian denier. Yah boo!’

      • LA,

        Now I’m confused. It is the skeptics who are fond of pointing out the fact that rises in the level of atmospheric CO2 tend to follow increases in temperature – the inference being that this some how means that increased CO2 levels can’t be driving temperature increases now. That is the point the piece at SkS is answering, not “why does it take that amount of time?”.

        And “the exact mechanism of how the deep ocean gives up its CO2 is not fully understood but believed to be related to vertical ocean mixing” does not mean “we haven’t a clue”.

        As for the difference between a feedback and a forcing, I’m sure there are others here who can give you a more “scientific” answer but basically a forcing is something that causes a peturbation in the earth’s energy balance (such as a changes in TSI or GHG emissions from burning fossil fuels) whereas a feedback is something which causes additional changes a result of that (such as changes to albedo or atmospheric water vapour) and so either increases or reduces the initial effect.

      • Latimer Alder

        @hastur

        Thank you for continually answering points that I haven’t made, while ignoring the ones I have.

        You say that the SS article you directed me to wasn’t answering the question

        ‘Why is CO2 1000 years behind temperature?’, despite its entire content seeming to my mind to be addressing (very ineptly) that very issue. We will have to agree to disagree about what SS is about here.

        Nonetheless, such a question is indeed a very apposite one. I trained as a chemist long ago and chemists are always very interested in reaction mechanisms….trying to answer no just what happens, but also how it happens.

        So, if it has indeed been observed that CO2 concentrations historically followed 1000 years behind temperature, surely the good climatologist must have some better explanation than ‘its all magic and beyond our understanding’.

        Especially since the dissolution of gases in water is a topic that has been pretty intensively studied in connection with such activities as diving, undersea exploration, cable laying and the like. So there must be an explanation. And if SS hasn’t actually addressed this issue, please guide us to a place which does.

        Finally, please stop basing your answers to any point upon what your image of a ‘sceptic’ is straight out of Greenie Central Casting. It is always a good idea to read the question carefully, and answer it, not to make a superficial stab at it and hope nobody will notice the lacunae in your script

      • hastur,
        CO2 is only discussed as a forcing in the consensus world, and H2O is only discussed as a feedback.
        Now with things falling apart for the consensus we get nuance?

      • LA,

        SkS usually put at the top of the article the particular argument they are responding to. In this case it is –

        “An article in Science magazine illustrated that a rise in carbon dioxide did not precede a rise in temperatures, but actually lagged behind temperature rises by 200 to 1000 years. A rise in carbon dioxide levels could not have caused a rise in temperature if it followed the temperature.” (Joe Barton)

        So no need for speculation as to the point they were making. This is the argument which I have often seen made by skeptics (see for example Labmunkey’s comment below) – if you don’t subscribe to that argument then fair enough, but the best way for people to get answers to their questions is to make it clear exactly what they are asking. I hope I answered your question about forcings and feedbacks to your satisfaction in any case.

        I suspect the reason they didn’t go into the actual reasons for the 1,000 year lag and the exact mechanism involved in any depth is that it is only tangentially relevant to the point under discussion. Of course they didn’t say ‘its all magic and beyond our understanding’ – if you are going to complain about me stereotyping skeptics then please try not to conform to the stereotype by treating any expression of uncertainty as if it means the same as ‘we know nothing at all’.

        If the this question is interesting to you then I’m afraid you will need to do your own research, or maybe someone else here can answer – there has no doubt been plenty of research on the subject but it’s not something I have taken much interest in myself.

      • @hastur

        I think you – and SS – have the cart before the horse on this one.

        I have never seen a sceptic opinion that because the CO2 rise is after the temperature change, then CO2 *CANNOT* have caused today’s rise. And I have no idea who Joe Barton is or what his credentials are. Nor am I a paid hireling of the Cock Brothers or a creationist.

        Of course it doesn’t show that CO2 CANNOT cause the slight rise we have seen recently. But it also most certainly does not show that it did. Unlike many alarmists who continue to flash it as incontrvertible proof that CO2 is the driver of temperature. At best it shows that there may be some sort of relationship between the two. But until the exact mechanism is clearly understood — and verified by experiment, it can be no more than that.

        And SS’s ‘explanation’ is nowhere near a real explanation .It is no more than an expression of an untested hypothesis that initial non CO2-warming leads to warmer oceans which after a period of 1000 years somehow brings more CO2 to the surface which then causes further heating …but only up to a point.

        For that idea to really gain support some deeper understanding is needed. In particular why the long delay in CO2 outgassing ..and why is is it pretty consistent over a very long timescale? Is it just an artefact of the measurements..or does it really come from natural proceesses? What are these processes and what governs the rate of them? (Chemists also like to study stuff called ‘reaction kinetics’ – the rates at which physical processes take place). Do they speed up as the temperature rises and slow down as it cools? If and when we think we understand them, can we scale them down into real world experimental size chunks so that we can actually observe nature in action and see if our explanation is ‘correct’ and scalable.

        Other thoughts. Is there evidence that the starting ‘forcing’ actually took place at the times suggested? What caused it? How do we know that the same effect isn’t occurring now?

        And so on and so on…….

        So please drop your stereotypes from Greenie Central Casting and engage with sceptics as you find us.

        I will do you the courtesy of assuming that you are intelligent, sincere but misguided if you do the same. Deal?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘Most of the studies and debates on potential climate change have focused on the ongoing buildup of industrial greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a gradual increase in global temperatures. But recent and rapidly advancing evidence demonstrates that Earth’s climate repeatedly has shifted dramatically and in time spans as short as a decade. And abrupt climate change may be more likely in the future.’

      Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
      http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=12455

    • Hastur, the problem with the co2 lag ‘explanation’ is that it shows that the climate can change sans co2 change- further it shows that temp can fall, precipitously, with record high co2 levels.

      Now, if you have any familiarity with temperature control systems you would know that this is simply not possible if co2 is to behave as puported by the ipcc and skepSci et al.

      There has never (tmk) been a thorough and detailed explanation of the lag effect, besides hand waving. Hand waving that fits the theory but is completely unverifiable.

      • Labmunkey,

        No one is disputing that temperatures can change for reasons other than changing CO2 levels, so that is a strawman.

        And I don’t see why record high levels of CO2 would prevent temperatures from falling. If there is a negative forcing as a result of changes in insolation for example then that will cause cooling whatever the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, unless CO2 is still rising sufficiently to offset the effect.

        How are you claiming the IPCC has got the behaviour of CO2 wrong? Are you claiming it is not a greenhouse gas?

      • labmonkey,
        Notice how hastur can never really explain this alleged well explained ratinoale on CO2, but simply relies on banging the table louder.

      • @hunter, labbie

        ‘Notice how Hastur can never really explain this alleged well explained rationale on CO2, but simply relies on banging the table louder’.

        Yep. He clearly doesn’t understand it himself either, but knows that he must believe in it because that’s what all good alarmists do. Like transubstantiation for Roman Catholics. Can’t be explained by rational means – but an absolute article of faith.

        And he has been told what ‘sceptics are supposed to think’ by somebody else. But beyond his pre-programmed responses (‘one of the most debunked contrarian canards’ is a real doozy of its type), he is lost and helpless.

  16. ‘Changing so quickly’ in comparison to when?

    Tonyb

    • In comparison to the fairy story when nothing changed at all. Until we came along and did something very very bad, from which there will be unimaginable consequences……….

      • Latimer Alder

        I think there’s some big dull old book about some long ago guys in the middle east where somebody ate an apple and lots of s..t happened afterwards……..

    • Latimer’s reference to the Garden of Eden sent me scurrying to Wiki, where, having first scanned the page for the name “William Connelly” and found it to be absent, I saw this painting of the Garden which may turn out to be a valuable source of evidence as to the prelapsarian climate.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lucas_Cranach_d._Ä._035.jpg

      I draw Tonyb’s attention to it, and note:

      We see God, heavily bearded and voluminously robed, addressing Adam & Eve, who are neither.

      While they don’t exactly look at ease, Adam and Eve appear untroubled by the ambient temperature. There is no evidence of goosebumps, and certainly no erect nipples, which suggests something like 24deg C. God, having for the purposes of interviewing A&E chosen to manifest Himself in human form, is presumably, at least for present purposes, subject to human responses to temperature. Yet He appears cool and unflustered, despite His abundant raiment. Why?

      Next, we note what appears to be a microburst towards the top right of the picture. This suggests a climate characterised by severe local instabilities. Understanding these turbulent events in the Edenic climate may be the key to understanding our climate today, so clearly better data and more research are needed.

      Clearly, the Garden is super-fertile. It appears extremely green, yet supports a bewildering variety of livestock at stocking densities more appropriate to a commercial feedlot than the range-feeding arrangement we see depicted. This superfertility suggests a high CO2 concentration in the Edenic atmosphere. While the flatus from all those unicorns, harts and lions must have resulted in dangerously high GHG component – clearly more research is required.

      Well, Tony?

  17. Brook’s paper imo is realistic in the basics of two competing approaches (adaptation vs. conservation), but is also fundamentally flawed in that it does not address the realities of how our planet is governed by independent nations with fundamental differences in their cultural perspectives.
    Most of what we read in the west are papers and articles that continue to ignore the fundamental reality of how the planet is governed and show a general bias to a principle that proposes for government to “take care of people” around the world.
    Look at the goals that Brooks identifies: “Do more good for the global poor”. I fundamentally reject this as a worldwide “duty” of a citizen of country “A” to do for citizens in country “B”.
    Brooks writes: “The question is whether it is morally permissible to expose higher than necessary risks where it could be avoided. Adaptation proponents must argue more persuasively for why these risks are morally permissible and not merely more cost effective.”

    I argue that it is necessary for countries to take actions to protect their citizens 1st and foremost. If a country does not build the things necessary to protect its citizens from bad weather, that is a bad government. If a country allows their population to grow in a supportable manner, that is a bad government. Neither issue requires intervention by outside nations.

    Brooks asks: Suppose we could have confidence in models of future environmental conditions should we choose adaptation over conservation? I would argue that if we had models that we really believed reflected future conditions it would be much easier to determine the most efficient governmental policies, but we simply don’t!

    • Rob Starkey,

      I fundamentally reject this as a worldwide “duty” of a citizen of country “A” to do for citizens in country “B”.

      The notion that those of fortunate to be reasonably well off might have at least some responsibility to help those not so fortunate is a pretty well established principle in civil society, and that doesn’t stop at national boundaries.Presumably you would like to scrap the millenium development goals and for western countries to cancel all foreign aid?

      If a country does not build the things necessary to protect its citizens from bad weather, that is a bad government.

      Or maybe it is just a poor government. Or maybe it is often very difficult to nullify the worst effects of extreme weather events by just building stuff.

      If a country allows their population to grow in a supportable manner, that is a bad government.

      You want governments to control how its citizens reproduce? China tried that, do you think other governments should adopt similar policies?

  18. Judith you write “Even if you don’t accept the consensus on AGW, I suspect that few of you would say with confidence that there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct, and zero future risk.”

    Let me be one of the first of the few. I do, in fact, claim that there is ” zero chance of the IPCC being correct, and zero future risk.”

    I suspect some people might regard the use of this quotation to be in poor taste, but I think it may well be apropos.

    “Never before in the field of human conflict, has so much been owed by so many, to so few”. Winston Churchill. September 1940.

    • Jim Cripwell

      I would second your statement that “there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct, and zero future risk”.

      My reasoning for this:

      The first part was demonstrated by the failed IPCC forecast that the warming in the early decades of the 21st century would be 0.2 degC per decade.

      It turned out to be slightly negative instead, despite human GHG emissions being as high or even higher than projected by IPCC..

      So the IPCC “hit rate” was zero (= “zero chance that IPCC was correct”)

      If IPCC cannot even get the next decade right, why are we supposed to believe that it can get the next ten decades right?

      Answer: It can’t (= “zero chance that IPCC will be correct”)

      To the second point: “future risk” is vague enough that it cannot be challenged or substantiated

      Max

  19. If the climate may continually change, then we must change with it. This is the daunting challenge we face. Saving the plant may require more effort than we have thought.

    Addressing the second sentence first, we should seriously consider the possibility that reduction of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere could be futile, that is to say have no beneficial effect, even if humans did it. This is a part of the “uncertainty monster” — everything we have thought of may fail to work if the things that we don’t know (or don’t know precisely) are important enough. There is no guaranteed “no regrets” strategy over any time span.

    Addressing the first sentence, even were we to prevent the CO2 rise and thus prevent 2K of additional warming, floods and droughts, heat and cold waves will continue to occur, and adaptation will be necessary.

    From the original: Likewise, it remains unclear why we should in
    principle permit compensation from others to address our being subjected to their environmental damage.

    That seems badly worded to me, if not truly bizarre. Unless he means to deny all material wealth creation from exploitation of environmental resources, the most fair thing is for people who benefit from the wealth creation (in particular, the buyers of the goods and services) should pay for at least partial restoration of the damage that is done. Generally, the environmental degradation (and required restoration, if any) are external costs to the commercial transactions — that is, paid or suffered by non-participants to the exchange; the fairest action is to internalize the costs.

    This reads to me like yet another approach that is too theoretical to be of any use. We need more knowledge, quantitative and qualitative, about how the climate system works, knowledge that looks now like it will require some decades to tame the uncertainty monster. Another abstract theoretical analysis does not seem to be nearly as important as a good estimate of the transient climate response (over a specified time) to an increase of CO2 (of a specified amount) — or even more thorough and conclusive evidence of its sign. Work is underway to acquire that knowledge, but the knowledge will be slow in coming.

    • John Carpenter

      Getting a handle on sensitivity seems to me to be the best way to quantify the effects of higher CO2 levels. It also seems to be a piece of knowledge that has not improved much in the last decade. It also would be the most useful piece of knowledge to know about what should be done… if anything.

  20. According to this story in the Houston Chronicle, more meteorologists are skeptics than there are who are consensus.
    http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Climate-change-battle-spills-into-the-nightly-2760000.php

    • Stirling English

      Meteorologists? What do they know about climate and stuff?

      They are not climatologits. They have probably no knowledge of the theory of teleconnections or principal component analysis (short-centred or not). What can they tell us of missing (or perhaps found) traverstian oceacnic heat or the catastrophic future awaiting us if those pesky average global temperatures go up another 0.2 F by three weeks next Tuesday.

      All meteorologists are good at is short term forecasts of weather. Real climatologists know that the only good forecast is one so far in the future that nobody will still be alive to remember it. And frightening enough not to impair the next grant application

      /sarc

    • “A survey of television weather­casters last summer found that 19 percent attributed climate change to mostly human causes, 29 percent to mostly natural causes, and 34 percent to some of both. The remainder declared themselves either unconvinced or undecided.” (excerpt, discussing a GMU poll – yeah I know)

      I wonder what John N-G thinks about this story since it’s in his paper?

      • wasn’t anthony watt’s a television weathercaster?

        I think our expectations of the abilities of television weathercasters to understand science should be low.

      • lolwot – i don’t. and as far as watts goes, i’m pretty sure he’s a very bright guy, but I don’t agree with a lot of what he says. lots of bright people are extreme.

        now what i do think about this – isn’t the same GMU source of the poll the place where Edward Wegman works, and isn’t it associated with a skeptic POV? so i’d take those survey numbers with a grain of salt. just like i take ipcc reports.

      • billc -

        I’ve seen some polls from GMU on climate change that could be interpreted as supportive in a couple of different directions – so I question an overall bias in one direction of the other.

        Polls always need to be viewed carefully and used judiciously (for example, look how Willis and Don Monfort deceptively use that Rasmusssen poll to “prove” widespread rejection of the work of climate scientists) – and sure, there’s a lot of variability depending on the precise wording of questions, methodology of selecting participants, etc., but I think with an institution like GMU, the hard numbers are pretty scientifically analyzed and not likely tied to any bias that might be associated with Wegman.

      • Joshua, thanks. Your skeptic buddies should give you some credit for that.

        It is interesting. I won’t attempt to characterize TV weather forecasters w/r/t the remainder of the population with (I assume) BS or MS degrees in meteorology. I’d be going off prejudices, they are all much better looking than me.

        The way the question is worded “mostly” vs “some of both” seems to me to mostly preclude agnostics actually ending up in a pro- or con- position. So we have the interesting statistic of “mostly natural” > “mostly human”.

        Though I will throw out another motivated reasoning supposition for Joshua to hit out of the park, which is that they’d be biased toward unpredictability ;).

      • Joshua -

        Mentioning Don..
        I think I may have played a tiny part in the disappearance of one of your sparing partners, and for that I feel a touch guilty.
        I fear the last straw was a day or two ago when I made an effort to suggest Phil Jones was wrongly vilified for one of his emails, taken out of context…
        I think this was too much for Don, who concluded I’d become part of the evil conspiracy, and he couldn’t bear to hang around any longer.
        Apologies.

      • Anteros -

        I think you’re being alarmist about Don’s disappearance.

        I am 95% sure (95% CI, 92%-99%) that he’ll be back to sling some insults my way. My impression is that he simply can’t help himself.

        And it’s a good thing. I get extra money for my work when “skeptics” substitute insults for a valid form of argumentation.

    • Norm Kalmanovitch

      According to this article there is more evidence for natural global cooling than human caused global warming so it really doesn’t matter how many meteorologists believe in AGW

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2093264/Forget-global-warming–Cycle-25-need-worry-NASA-scientists-right-Thames-freezing-again.html

  21. That we do not believe there is zero chance of the IPCC being “correct” misses the point. Any energy we spend because we’re afraid of climate dissaster is energy wasted, because there are clearly far more pressing dangers that deserve our time and money. I word that carefully, because, of course, people do not organize their lives entirely around fear. I don’t argue that every client scientist out to change careers. In fact, I spend a fair bit of time studying the issues. I do so because I find it entertaining, though–not because I consider the it the most valuable thing I can do to “save the planet.”

  22. Thom Brooks says.
    “… the problem is not that the climate is changing, but that it is changing so quickly.”

    I say poppycock and just for emphasis I’ll add balderdash!

    According to the Vostok ice core data between circa 1450 and 1800 there were four periods ranging from 21-26 years in length where the temperature increased by at least 0.75C. In that same time frame there were four other periods where the temperature decreased by at least 0.75C. The maximum change in each direction was greater than 1.0C

    It seems we’ve had a fairly stable climate for the last 100 years with no such quick changes.

  23. This is complete nonsense. I was going to say something, but it has already been said by others, most notably Anteros.

  24. At first I thought this was written by a lawyer, and I was embarrassed for my profession. But then I went to his blog and found this: “He is an Academician in the Academy of Social Science” and his Ph.D. is in philosophy. Whew.

    “The polluter pays principle is an unsatisfactory solution to how we might best address the associated dangers of climate change.”

    “Adaptation is an unsatisfactory solution to how we might best address the associated dangers of climate change.”

    Mitigation is unsatisfactory., and so is adaptation. In fact both together are unsatisfactory.

    And what is “the solution?” –

    “Our focus should not only be on how we might reduce our environmental impact, but we should extend our focus to other questions: How to save the planet? Does it matter if an ice age is inevitable?”

    The solution is..wait for it…to look for other solutions.

    Here, let me save you 22 pages of reading. Climate is extremely complex. We can’t stop it from changing, and if it changes too much, we probably won’t be able to cope. But there’s no sense planning for it or trying to avoid it, so we should just write dissertations on how stupid anyone trying to do either is.

    And what are the actual, real world policy prescriptions in the 22 pages of blather? There aren’t any.

    And for all time dumbest comment I have ever read in following the climate debate, the prize goes to:

    “Saving the plant may require more effort than we have thought.”

    This grandiosity from a guy who just criticized the hubris of the consensus for thinking we can stop “climate change” (ie. CAGW).

    Stop runaway human caused global warming? Ridiculous! But saving the planet, well…..

    There is nothing new in the climate debate, except maybe new delusions of grandeur.

  25. I’d be interested in a poll of your denizens on exactly this issue.

    “I suspect that few of you would say with confidence that there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct.”

    Just a straight forward agrre or disagree with the statement.

    • I have replied above. I am one of the few who say with confidence that there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct.

      And I also quoted “Never before in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.” Winston Churchill.

    • Louise,

      I could not say this with confidence. I wouldn’t even say it at all. I will say, I hope they have exaggerated (no intent implied), and I believe it is highly probable.

    • Latimer Alder

      You need to frame the question more closely.

      With which statement(s) of the IPCC are we being asked to agree or disagree? And if that statement includes anything to do with ‘risk’ it needs to describe exactly which risk is meant. Otherwise the statement is meaningless.

    • Louise,
      Is that a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ type question?
      Since the IPCC reports have been found to have errors in them, they are not, by some definitions of ‘correct’, ‘correct’.
      Perhaps you can clairfy what you mean?

    • Norm Kalmanovitch

      Hansen’s A B Scenarios for his 1988 model have all been wrong and in spite of global emissions being over 10% higher than Hansen’s Scenario A the global temperature is still below his prediction for scenario C which was an immediate cut in emissions to maintain the level of 1988.
      For 23 years these model projections have been wrong and the IPCC claims are entierly based on these false projections of global temperature.
      Anyone who doesn’t say with confidence that the IPCC is wrong clearly has no idea about what is real and what is agenda driven fabrication.
      I can say with absolute certainty that the IPCC is wrong and the true question is there a single person who can say with the same certainty that the IPCC is correct!
      I challenge you to either state in absolute terms whether the IPCC is right or wrong

    • Louise

      I have also replied above (added to Jim Cripwell post).

      Zero chance of being correct (as evidenced by failed projection of 0.2 degC per decade warming for first decade of 21st century).

      If projection for one decade is “zero correct” (i.e. wrong), then there is no reason to believe that projection for ten decades will be any different.

      Max.

      • the question isnt whether or not there is reason to believe.

        the question is : is it CERTAIN they are wrong.

        that is no chance whatsoever of being right. Or logically impossible for them to be correct, which is the same as logically inconsistent

        monkeys could fly out of your butt. highly unlikely, but not impossible.
        a married man has zero chance of being a bachelor.

        strictly speaking unless you can show the logical contradictions in the IPCC ( and I mean a proof) then there is some chance that truth could fly out of their butts

      • k scott denison

        Well now that steven has tortured the point and proclaimed there is a non-zero chance of monkeys flying out of someone’s butt (which, by the way, sounds both painful, and entertaining, at least to others), I will agree with Jim and Max.

        There is NO chance. Yup, even lower than the chance of monkeys flying out of my butt!

        My logical proof involves the many ways in which the IPCC continues to demonstrate the inability to predict anything correctly over any time period, the way they continue to move the goalposts, and the flight patterns of pigs flying in a frozen hell.

        In other words, I don’t got one, but doesn’t change my opinion that there is zero chance the IPCC is correct.

      • I never could remember all the proper statistical terminology :)

      • scot, you dont understand how to construct a logical proof.

        there is 0 chance of rolling a 7 on a single 6 sided die numbered 1-6.

      • k scott denison

        scot, you dont understand how to construct a logical proof.
        >>>>>>>>>>
        Really? And here I thought I was just being transparently sarcastic.

  26. Does climate change? Yes.
    Do humans impact climate change? Probably.
    How? We haven’t begun to get much of a handle on it all.
    Can change be good? Yes.
    Can change be bad? Yes.
    Do we know which is happening (net)? No.
    By how much? No.
    Do we have any way to make much of a difference if we knew? No.

    OK. Since we haven’t got a clue, let’s forget all that and just focus on the possibility that something might be happening and that something might be bad somehow. Maybe. Given that possibility, alarmist logic dictates that it is imperative that we must do …. ummm, something!

    Of course, the something we must do might make things worse. But that doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we care. A lot. And we must find something to keep us busy while we show how much we care.

    • Stirling English

      Here’s an idea.

      Let’s all run around like headless chickens and make lots and lots and lots of sacrifices to Mother Gaia. We can impoverish everyone to show Her How Much We Care!

      That’ll be a surefire way of keeping the planet out of trouble and keeping the climatology High Priests in employment. Worked for the Aztecs and the Romans and the Jews and the Egyptians. Must be a winner for us too.

      And at least we’ll be DOING SOMETHING!!!

  27. The core lie/assumption: “our doing nothing will only make the situation much worse”. In fact, the maximum mitigation efforts are projected to “delay” the 2K rise by about 5 yrs, if you believe the models.

    Which is indistinguishable from “zero effect”. So there is no “much worse”.

    Adaptation is both sane and inevitable. The ONLY choice we have is whether to cripple our ability to execute it by “decarbonizing” and gutting the economy.

    • “In fact, the maximum mitigation efforts are projected to “delay” the 2K rise by about 5 yrs, if you believe the models.”

      Are you saying that the *maximum* mitigation effort possible would only delay a 2K rise by 5 years?

  28. LOL in Oregon

    The obvious solution is:
    get some of our eggs into another basket!
    In other words, for the geocentric ones:
    get me off this marble!

    Of course, this country is being pwned by China:
    Grandpa Baby Boomer has “borrowed his way to prosperity” and must now protect the collateral so China can foreclose.

    Using the moon and Mars as a down payment
    (cancel the space shuttle anyone? did you see China’s space station?),
    we’re now here, working to shrinking the pie, and whining about who will get the crumbs.

    But then, again, that requires strategic vision and willingness to work for future expansion of the pie rather than eating the pie today.

  29. Willis Eschenbach

    This paper, “How not to save the planet”, is just dumb. He starta out with:

    Our challenge is not to consider whether there is climate change, but how best to respond to it. While a global consensus accepts the existence of climate change …

    A consensus except for us lunatics that claim that the climate doesn’t change? That is nonsense, to discuss a climate that has been changing for billions of years in those terms.

    That is totally unacceptable to me, to start out with a bunch of claims about “climate change”, but absolutely no definition of what “climate change” even IS. Judith, once again I have to question your choices.

    This jerk, in addition to not defining (or perhaps even understanding) his terms, is making the classic IPCC mistake.

    He starts out by assuming a problem, and starts looking for “how to respond” to his fantasized cataclysm. And he’s right … that’s definitely how NOT to do anything serious at all about the planet.

    If someone turned this paper in to me, I would give it an “F”. They started out by assuming what they are trying to prove, and they seem to have no clue that change is what climate does. All the time. Every day.

    BZZZZZT!! Thom Brooks thinks he knows how not to save the planet. With nonsense like that as his guidelines, I’m sure he does know how not to save it. Next contestant, please.

    w.

    PS—Against my better judgement, I downloaded the paper. It’s a joke. Second sentence:

    A global consensus accepts that human activity is responsible for climate change and its associated dangers.

    Judith, do you actually read this stuff before posting it? How can you support pseudo-scientific babble like that?

    • “A global consensus accepts that human activity is responsible for climate change and its associated dangers.”

      Willis it’s true. A global consensus does that. Thom Brooks is clearly taking it from there and saying OK how do we deal with such climate change.

      And who knows, maybe his suggestions can also be used to deal with the dreaded solar induced ice age that so many skeptics think will befall us by 2040…

      • lolwot

        Forget about the purported “global consensus”.

        It’s a myth.

        Max

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Humans are “responsible for climate change”? lolwot, you do realize that his claim means that if there were no humans, the climate wouldn’t change?

        You can’t start out with some undefined claim about “climate change”, the very term itself s meaningless given that the climate has always changed.

        And when the author doesn’t even realize that his words have no meaning … then what is there to discuss? Too dumb to post, on my planet. Sure, I agree with posting thought provoking stuff that you disagree with.

        But this guy hasn’t got a thought to provoke.

        w.

      • You say “climate change” is a meaningless term, yet some of us manage to understand it perfectly well from the context in which it is used, which in the case of Brooks and lolwot is clearly referring to the changes we have seen since the latter part of the last century.

      • … the changes we have seen since the latter part of the last century.

        Which specific changes would those be?

      • hastur,
        Please list those dangerous changes in climate that have taken place in the last 50 years.

      • Peter317,

        The main one obviously being the increase in global temperature, but (specifically for the US) there are the ind of changed detailed here

        http://downloads.globalchange.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdf

        There are of course the numerous impacts listed in AR4 WG11 (if you don’t trust the IPCC then just follow the references).

      • hunter,

        You are trying to put words into my mouth.

      • lolwot quoted, “A global consensus accepts that human activity is responsible for climate change and its associated dangers.”

        That is an incorrect statement. The correct statement would be “It is generally accepted that human activity is responsible for some portion of recent climate change, which may have associated dangers. Dr. Curry started this blog because of over confidence, like your quoted statement.

        There is not and has never been a “consensus” on the magnitude of the CO2 impact on climate. “About” half of the warming from the glacial periods “May” be due to CO2, but we are not sure how much warming there was “globally” since the last glacial not what the other half was caused by. The IPCC estimated range of sensitivity to CO2 is based on a average of two different estimates. Not surprisingly, one is about “half” of the other. “About half” is a coin toss, a maybe it is, maybe it isn’t confidence level. The statement you quoted makes it sound like a done deal. So we can reserve you a cottage in UNtopia :)

      • hastur,
        If you think I am putting words in your mouth, then speak more clearly.
        What are the dangerous obvious changes in climate over the last fifty years?

      • hunter,

        I didn’t use the word “dangerous”.

      • hastur,
        So you reject the idea held by may AGW believers that we are facing dangerous climate change?

    • Willis,
      AGW believers are inching back from an irrationally based belief system. Brooks is at elast pointing in the right direction.
      This article would have been unthinkable even 18 months ago.
      Cut some slack.

    • Willis -

      I made very nearly the same comment to Judith as you did about the choice of this paper. But the fact that there has been a lot of vociferous denunciation doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth posting. Far from it – the fact that many of us have been spluttering [me as much as anyone] is instructive. The comments themselves have been interesting.

      We’re back to the old criticism of Judith not being a gatekeeper or spoon-feeding her readers with ‘acceptable’ and ‘quality controlled’ fodder.

      I absolutely applaud the variety of papers discussed here – and the non-judgemental nature of their selection. I think everyone here should take it as a compliment, own their opinions and look at the posts with an open mind.

      I thought the article was rubbish, but I’m glad it was put in front of our eyes and we got to say exactly what we thought about it.

      Don’t you think that’s a bit more refreshing than the agenda being driven at WUWT?

      • Latimer Alder

        I’m with Anteros.

        And I’m surprised that intelligent folks like Willis seem to find it so very hard to grasp the simple idea that just because Judith gives a view an airing doesn’t mean that she necessarily agrees (or disagrees) with it.

        That this is too subtle a thought for resident simpleton Joshy is no big deal, but I expect better of Eschenbach whose work I often admire.

      • I’m with Willis. Too dumb to post. Not interesting in any way.

      • steven mosher

        I’m with Ant on this.

        And the author is largely correct. Let’s grant him his premise.
        Climate changes, folks have focused on adaptation and mitigation.
        neither of those is solutions.

        perhaps resiliency is a better goal. what can we do to make societies more resilient. duh promote democracy and wealth creation. Anything else is fools errand. more of what works, al beit not perfectly

      • Dr. Curry almost never posts challenges to AGW, FYI. She could. But she doesn’t.

        Andrew

      • k scott denison

        steven – in my book (and Roget’s), resilience and adaptability are interchangeable. So aren’t you arguing for adaption?

      • No scott, im not. For example, with more resilience one could afford to mitigate. resilince as I construe it is the ability to make free choices rather than forced choices.

      • k scott denison

        steven, while I understand what you are saying, I’m not sure resilience was the word you were looking for.

    • Willis

      I agree with you that this essay is plain dumb (my comment to Judith below).

      But I also agree with Anteros that by bringing our attention to such nonsense we can all comment and give our opinions – we can also see how absurd most of the stuff out there on the “climate change challenge” really is.

      Judith is doing everyone a favor by highlighting how much plain stupid stuff is floating around out there.

      Shining a light on things never hurts IMO.

      Max

    • Some need to rid themselves of their irrational fear of the word ‘consensus’.

      • Some need to rid themselves of the habit of using it

      • k scott denison

        Not afraid at all. In fact, I believe there is a very strong consensus among scientist and engineers that there is no place for consensus in science.

  30. My take on the article is it’s too philosophical. I mean do we need to “approach climate change from a new perspective”? A complex and vague perspective at that. I like the good old traditional perspective of lets reduce CO2 emissions. We should still be able to burn all the fossil fuels but spread them out over 1000 years rather than burning the bulk off in the next 100.

    • lolwot,
      Yes, reactionary stick-in-the-mud is always more comforting for the faithful.

    • Latimer Alder

      And your proposed course of action is an improvement because of why exactly?

      It is not obvious to me at least

    • Lolwot, I usually see your tag and just pass by, but recently, you have been putting out some very logical thoughts. Just wanted to say thanx for your very pertinent perspective. I can actuallyagree with you about the timeline.

      Cheers

  31. What a horrible load of muddled thinking by Thom Brooks.

    He says “we cannot stop the climate from changing” and then “our doing nothing will only make the situation much worse”.

    Somehow, we have to bring an end to this rubbish.

  32. Instead of spending money on farmland to help the poor, why not use it to build a magnificent statue to St. Isodore, the patron saint of farmers, so that we can all pray to it and hope for better agricultural outcomes? Or if that religion isn’t to your taste perhaps a lot of money spent on empty climate gestures might be?

  33. A bunch of people have objected to this: While a global consensus accepts the existence of climate change …

    I think that the author has targeted an audience who do believe in the claimed consensus, and wants to enlist their attention from the start. He might have written instead something along the lines of “Even if you intensely believe in the AGW hypothesis, I would argue that this is not the way to save the world” — a slightly gentler approach than starting out with “No reasonable person actually believes in AGW, etc.”

    • Nice post. It seems directed at understanding rather than beating a drum.

      • Joshua, thank you. We here like beating our own drums: it’s what we do most and, probably, best. But when trying to win debates in the public arena, it is useful to start with an introduction that does not immediately offend and disengage the undecided. The most important goal in public debate is not to persuade your opponents, but to persuade the undecided.

        Dr. Curry wrote: Even if you don’t accept the consensus on AGW, I suspect that few of you would say with confidence that there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct, and zero future risk.

        I indeed am one who says that we must take seriously the idea that IPCC might be correct , and there might be future risk. I think that the best strategy for the next couple decades is to study climate as well as we can to correct omissions and inaccuracies; to perform R&D on strategies and technologies that may be eventually shown to be necessary; to invest in adaptive strategies like building better flood control systems in places that have histories of alternating floods and droughts; and to avoid wasting resources (time, money, effort) on futile projects. But I (and you may call this “my bag” or “my schtick”), do believe that we do need 2 decades of persistent investment in research, and this paper strikes me as another attempt to solve the problem by short-cutting the time and work necessary.

      • Matt -

        I indeed am one who says that we must take seriously the idea that IPCC might be correct , and there might be future risk.

        What’s funny is that is also how I would describe my perspective.

        and this paper strikes me as another attempt to solve the problem by short-cutting the time and work necessary.

        I didn’t read the paper – but from the excerpts Judith posted, I found the paper to to be incoherent. A thesis has to be arguable to be a valid, and to the extent that I could even find a thesis (I had a lot of trouble finding one at all), I didn’t find much in the about it that could be arguable.

        For example:

        If the climate may continually change, then we must change with it…. Saving the plant may require more effort than we have thought.

        Well, yeah. Ok.

        I kept asking the author what it was, actually, that he is proposing by way of a solution – and I found no answer to that question.

      • Stirling English

        ’2 decades of persistent investment in research’? I think not.

        FFS we’ve just spent north of $100 trillion to study ‘climate change’. And the best result eve got for all that cash is
        ‘some people think that if it gets a bit hotter it’ll be a bad thing. Others don’t agree with some or all of that statement.’

        which is about where we were to start with.

        AFAICT the nett increase in our real knowledge about climate over the last thirty years is about zero.

        We’ve kept a few failed physicists and a large number of others who found real science too hard in cushy academic posts, paid for lots of supercomputers but hardly any professional standard programmers, subsidised the airline and hospitality industries with more failed international ‘save the planet’ conferences than you could shake a stick at and paid for an entire industry of ‘professional climate change advocates’ to be given media platforms far beyond their competence at oh so tedious length. But we haven’t actually learnt anything at all useful about climate.

        Lots and lots and lots of papers – some even with data to back them up. Theories by the hundred..but no experiments. Enough statistical torturing that the groans can be heard half a world away. But no actual increase in our knowledge.

        There is absolutely no case to throw yet more good money after bad in ‘climatology’. As a job creation scheme for the second rate it has been a stunning success, but we can no longer afford such indulgences.

        No more money, no more ‘research’, no more waste of time and effort. Enough is enough.

      • Way to go, Stirling English. :-)

  34. Judith Curry

    You have concluded that the Thom Brooks essay ” frames the challenge in a way that should spark some useful dialogue on the topic”

    OK. Here’s my input.

    Climate change presents us with a pressing challenge.
    [Not really. There are many much more pressing problems than climate change.]

    A global consensus accepts that human activity is responsible for climate change and its associated dangers.
    [This is a false assumption. A majority of those polled recently do NOT accept this premise. Nor do they accept that there are substantial “dangers” associated with human-induced climate change.]

    However, there is disagreement on how best to address this challenge.
    [True. There is even serious disagreement whether or not there is a problem at all.]

    The rest of the essay is nice, but totally beside the point.

    Until the CAGW premise, i.e. that there is a “pressing challenge” to address human-induced “climate change and its associated dangers” can be supported by empirical scientific evidence based on real-time physical observations or reproducible experimentation (rather than simply model simulations based on theoretical deliberations and expert judgment), there is no need to “address this challenge”.

    Let’s get the horse before the cart.

    This essay appears to me to be an attempt to keep the CAGW momentum going despite the fact that support among the general population has begun to unravel as a result of several factors:
    - Climategate I and II
    - Revelations of IPCC falsifications of data
    - Increasing number of scientists who speak out against “consensus” CAGW view
    - Lack of global warming since 2000 (or 1998) despite continued CO2 emissions to new record levels and IPCC projections of warming
    - Series of harsher-than-normal winters in much of northern hemisphere despite earlier “no more snow” forecasts
    - Failure to reach political unity on climate change at Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban
    - Problems with the global economy, which are seen by most people to be much more urgent

    Judith, I do not believe the issue is whether or not ”there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct, and zero future risk”.

    Life is never a “zero-risk” game. There are a lot of possible ”risks” out there.

    Asteroid strike, Global Depression, giant solar flare, terrorist attacks with WMD, etc., just to name a few.

    And some of these seem much more likely or imminent than the purported ”pressing challenge” from human-induced ”climate change and its associated dangers”.

    Let’s put worrying about what to do about this one on the back burner until we have some sound science supporting and quantifying it.

    So, in summary, I would say that the lead-in statement is correct if modified slightly to ”Climate change presents us [the proponent s of the so-called “consensus” position] with a pressing challenge”.

    That challenge is to come up with some empirical scientific evidence to support the premise that AGW represents a serious potential risk to humanity and our environment unless measures are taken now to reduce future human CO2 emissions dramatically.

    This empirical evidence does not yet exist. Until it does, there is no ”challenge” to act.

    Max

  35. “A global consensus accepts that human activity is responsible for climate change” – except for the 31,000 scientists (9,000 of them with PhD’s) who disagree.

    When are you going to produce a simple experiment which shows that all that supposed backradiation actually can warm something? It appears that even when it shines all day long on a patch of frost shaded from the Sun, it can’t melt any of it, even though the Earth and air above it are above zero.

    When are you going to realize that spectroscopy shows that gases do not absorb when they are cooler than the emitting source. This confirms what Claes Johnson (Professor of Applied Mathematics) says, at least for gases. Why would it not apply for solids and liquids too?

    I can find no fault with Claes “Computational Blackbody Radiation.” Do you think his mathematics is wrong? It is brilliant and he is in the class of Einstein. You are just like one of those who denied Einstein was right. But as the great mind said, it would only take one to prove him wrong.

    So come on, Judy or anyone, be the one. Do a simple experiment with two metals plates at night, insulated from the ground, one shielded from backradiation. Does one end up warmer than the other? Not for me – you try it.

    When an IR thermometer points to the sky it measures frequency and deduces temperature. You cannot then apply S-B to deduce DLW radiation from that temperature.

    So I repeat, When are you going to produce a simple experiment which shows that all that supposed backradiation actually can warm something?

  36. Correction:

    When are you going to realize that spectroscopy shows that gases do not absorb when they are warmer than the emitting source?

  37. One more point.

    “Saving the planet?”

    How arrogantly anthropocentric to think that we have the ability to destroy (or save) “the planet”.

  38. ” there is zero chance of the IPCC being correct” .. there, I’ve said it.

    All climate change is natural. Read the lead article on WUWT today about possible reasons regarding volcanoes etc. That’s just one possibility, but there is clearly an indication that planet orbits cause cycles somehow. Cycles of ~1,000 years and 60 years are apparent for starters.

    Sea surface temperatures were increasing at a rate of aboy 0.06 deg.C per decade 80 to 100 years ago, but that rate has now reduced to about 0.05 deg.C/decade because we are heading for a maximum in the 1000 year cycle by about the year 2200. A maximum means subsequent cooling for 500 years or so. Check it out from Heaven or wherever you’re going.

  39. I posted this in the past, but since we’re talking about saving the planet it seems appropriate to post it again.

    Caution: may not be suitable for work.

  40. Let’s not bother. As Heinlein wrote “This planet’s about used up. Time to go and find another one”.

  41. Having been offline in a (flourishing) Tasmanian forest for several weeks, it’s heartening to see (based on the first third of comments) that rationality on CE has, if anything, increased. Go the Sensibleists!

  42. Sustainability means your great-grandparents shivering and hungry in the dark – but leaving you a stockpile of firewood, tripe, and whale oil for your own lantern. And hay for your horse.

  43. I read the Brooks paper as more grist for the mill that the orthodox climate agenda has failed and that the orthodox have noticed and are seeking to reinvent themselves.

    They are backing off from their brute force arguments to fear and authority, which have failed to persuade the public, and are now resorting to more more moderate sounding proposals about uncertainty and sustainability.

    However, beyond the recommendation that we continue to keep an eye on climate, I find these Agenda 2.0 proposals to be specious wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing versions of the old fear and authority arguments.

  44. I agree with Omno that adaptability is required for safety but disagree with Anteros that humans are supremely adatable. The Universe as a whole would be in this category and that climate on Earth will prove to be just as adaptable with no human “assistance” needed nor indeed, desirable.

  45. Chief Hydrologist

    We have Mike Lockwood saying that cold winters in the NH are UV related – work through the NOA and might persist for decades. There are similar processes at work in the Southern Hemisphere. Mochizuki 2010 in the PNAS suggests a cooling influnces from the Pacific. Keekleyside et al suggest restrained warming for a decade. Tsonis and colleagues suggest that the transition from warm to cool states in the instrumental record was natural – and indeed involved chaotic bifurcation – and that warming might be suppressed for an indeterminate period from 1998. Smith is the outlier – suggesting that global temperature rise would resume as we moved to the peak of the current solar cycle around 2014. Whoops.

    Yes – sceptics have been saying this for a while. It is all very confusing. Should we start to call warmists sceptics and sceptics – oh I don’t know – the ultimately scientifically justified?

    We need economic growth of 10% in the developing world and 3 or 4% in the developed world. Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead. The typical pissant liberal will call this a political agenda. It is a humanitarian agenda – and the only one that is likely to save the race and deliver us the universe – well the solar system first. The alternative is total f…… utopian nonsense. Of which we have we have had quite enough. Sustainability – humbug. Let’s burn and pillage – take everything we can and build a wealthy and resilient future for humanity. To put it in a colourful Australian way – stuff global warming.

  46. Yes, indeed.

    Sustainable, schmastainable. Soil the oceans and pollute the skies. It’ll produce a good rate of GDP growth.

    For a bit.

  47. Chief Hydrologist

    Let’s recycle nutrients in sewage and treat and resuse urban stormwater – both of which I am especially good at. Reduce black carbon, ozone, hydrogen sulphide all of which are health issues. We are talking about resilient human societies – not nonsensical propaganda.

    • Let’s recycle nutrients in sewage and treat and resuse urban stormwater

      Nah. Too sustainable to be any good.

      You can’t milk enough GDP out of that nonsense. What we need is the glorious, non-sustainable.

      Long-term, schmong-term (or perhaps I should say shlong-term?).

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Oh – Joshua – I am just in the middle of designing vegetated swales and bioretention zones. I would be out of business if it weren’t for the environment and only rich people can afford environments.

        Did I say I saw a wild dolphin do a somersault last week? Absolutely gorgeous.

        You are spreading yourself a bit thin to do justice to thread hijacking. Why don’t you stick to either Mike or Me or… and conserve your hyberbole resources?

    • Chief,
      We are getting closer to taking action along the lines you mention, but the AGW mania is still too powerful to let serious ideas be discussed.

  48. A global consensus accepts that human activity is responsible for climate change

    This statement is not supported by the observed data as shown in the following data from NASA and University of East Anglia:

    http://bit.ly/zISeEo

    The data shows, global warming rates before and after mid-20th century were identical at about 0.06 deg C per decade.

    The oscillation in the global mean temperature is a fixed amount of about 0.5 deg C every 30 years and therefore it must be natural.

    As a result, there is no evidence of human activity (aka human CO2 emission) causing climate change.

    There cannot be a global consensus when it is not supported by the data.

  49. incandecentbulb

    –> “Does it matter if an ice age is inevitable?”

    When and how long might be interesting to know…especially if you consider that the elderly in the UK may run out of books to burn to keep warm in the winter if we’re headed for three to seven decades of gloal cooling.

  50. If there are more dams built to save extra stormwater, TO INTRODUCE MOISTURE IN THE AIR / TOPSOIL – surrounding areas become cooler during the day – but warmer at night. Example: If Brazil’s vegetation is destroyed and turned into desert – day temperature will go up – but night temperature will become colder; by Warmist ‘shonky / con’’ monitoring would have registered as warmer planet. Those things make ‘’ CLIMATIC CHANGES’’ but not Warmer, or colder planet!!! Because now on the ground in Brazil is cooler during the day than in Sahara; BUT in upper atmosphere above Sahara is COLDER during the day than above Brazil. Overall same temperature; heat in upper atmosphere has same value as on the ground. Unlike on the moon, on the earth the heat distribution is 3 dimensional!!! The Conspirators succeeded to confuse the ‘’ignorant intelligencia’’ that the phony GLOBAL warming and the constant climatic changes are related, actually one and the same thing. WRONG!!! The SPEED of the vertical winds regulate the temperature to be same overall in the troposphere every day and night of every year and millennia. My proofs / facts and formulas will win!!!

    Which brings back to collecting the data from the hottest minute of the day; which is not on same minute / not even on same hour every day!!! What about the other 1439 minutes in 24h, fellas??? When nights are warmer than usual, as in Brazil, there is reason for it. When days are warmer than should be on a particular latitude, as in Sahara, there is reason for it!!! The shonky ‘’climatologist’’ don’t want you to know about those reasons – because they declared water vapor as a bad gas, to support badmouthing CO2 (because their affect is same, only is more H2O than CO2).

    That SAME affect means: they make cooler days and warmer nights, on the ground – absence of those gases, especially H2O, as in Sahara = worse climate. Warmist hypocrisy exposed!!! In Sahara the ‘’vertical winds’’ are much STRONGER than in Brazil. As a result, in Sahara cools down from 45C to 5C at night, in 12h. In that same 12h, on same distance from the equator and the polls, in Brazil cools from 33C day time, to 23C at night, in 12h. Which means: in Sahara, the ‘’faster vertical winds’’ cool by 30C more in 12h, than in Brazil; where those winds are much slower. THOSE VERTICAL WINDS CAN INSTANTLY SPEED UP ON THE WHOLE PLANET, IF IT GETS WARMER!!! If those vertical winds can cool by 30C more in 12h, is an INSULT TO HUMAN INTELEGENCE, the Warmist lie that the planet will get warmer every 10years by 0,5C. It wouldn’t make sense to an earth worm, but it does make sense to prof Ian Plimer’s Smarties… (the fake Skeptics) The logic and common sense deficient D/H.
    Q: why those basic factors are not used by the Conspirators and their B/S distributors?
    Q: why those basic factors are not noticed / are avoided by the ‘’fake Skeptics’’?

  51. Does Brooks anywhere consider the implications of the alarmist global consensus being wrong ? Or is that just assumed away ?

  52. The Earth continues changing climate cold periods and warm periods. Only idiots think they can do something to change these periods.

    • Sam NC | January 31, 2012 at 4:20 am | Reply
      The Earth continues changing climate cold periods and warm periods. Only idiots think they can do something to change these periods.

      Sam NC, you should not mention in front of those commenter that the climate is always changing and always will, or similar things. It will be too big shock for them. They will start calling you a crackpot – you will get in a crossfire, from both camps. Same as 3 year olds throw a tantrum when discover that Santa is not for real, then start relying on Rudolf. Because Warmist and fake Skeptics are ”Climate from Changing Stoppers”’… Don’t call a shrink, they will grow up….? Well, most of them

  53. Tomas Milanovic

    Both approaches aim to effectively manage climate change to ensure its associated dangers do not lead to the planet becoming inhospitable for human beings.

    There are still some people who won’t take NO for an answer.
    When in the last 2 or 3 billions years we had a climate change leading the planet to conditions inhospitable for complex life forms?
    Or when when will it happen in the next 2 or 3 billions years for that matter.
    This statement is just non sense.

    Judith I am really surprised how you could have expected that this subpar text could spark something interesting or useful
    Reading this zero content text is painful like tooth pulling..
    I am sorry for having wasted the readers’ and my time with this comment but the abysmal intellectual void of the paper (sic !) forces to reaction.

    Btw for the IPCC there is exactly zero chance for being correct.
    The reason for that is easy – IPCC says thousands of things on tens of thousands pages.
    While it says mostly (but not exclusively) sane things in WG1, the proportion of insanity increases with the chapter number. So yes, there is clearly zero chance for all this being correct.

    As for the “zero risk”, this is a tautology. Nobody believes that there is “zero risk” for anything so among others for (A)GW.
    Also this for the simple reason that “zero risk” doesn’t exist.
    Fish bones, enraged bats, chemical factories, meteorites, cold water, high mountains, weather, mutated tomatoes, earthquakes, space flights, rogue waves, highways ….I am afraid that the list is far from complete, all these represent a “non zero risk”.
    I would even go sofar as to say that it is a defining feature of all intelligent beings to engage on purpose in activities generating risks (far above zero) and entailing rewards.
    I don’t see anything in the “non zero” risks related with the climate (as opposed to mutated tomatoes) which is different from ordinary risks we all take every day like taking one’s car and driving to work (a very high risk activity).

    • Thomas -

      I had a very similar reaction to the paper (although I concluded it was worth posting, because of the reactions. I’m a fan of Judith’s eclectic selection of articles)

      I agree with you about the ‘zero risk’ notion. I’ve always had an uncomfortable feeling when reading it, and I think you’ve identified the reason. It is sophistry. Non-zero risks and non-zero chances are essentially ‘everything’.

      It is particularly misleading when it is used to promote a fear of the future. For instance, there is a non-zero risk that human beings will cause a runaway warming leading to the extinction of all life on earth. That non-zero risk may be much lower than us all being abducted by aliens, one by one, and made into an enormous hamburger, but still, if alarming pseudo-logical rhetoric is what you’re after, ‘non-zero risk’ is your ticket.

      I’ll be more aware of the reason for my suspicion in future – thanks!

      BTW, I agree strongly with your perspective about the last 2 or 3 billions of years and the planet being suitable and hospitable foe complex life. I’d add that we become better and better able with every generation to thrive in all conditions on earth. We are becoming more adaptable and more resiliant as time goes by.

      • k scott denison

        “That non-zero risk may be much lower than us all being abducted by aliens, one by one, and made into an enormous hamburger….”
        >>>>>>>>>>>>
        Anteros, that one made me snort so loud there are now several people outside my office wondering what the hell I’m reading, thanks!

      • Anteros

        ” … if alarming pseudo-logical rhetoric is what you’re after, ‘non-zero risk’ is your ticket.”

        That’s the sophist point underlying the “Precautionary Principle”

      • ianl8888 -

        The weird thing is, I never realised that!
        I knew there was something that really bugged me about it but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Thanks :)

  54. There has been a lot of technical statistical jargon thrown around above.

    The estimated sensitivity range was what, 1.5 to 4.5? So let’s say we have three betting options, 0 to 1.99, 2 to 4, and 4.01 and higher. 0.1.99 is likely, 2 to 4 less likely and 4 up is pigs flying out of monkey butts wearing Auburn ball caps.

    Is that about right? I am new to this statistical stuff :)

  55. ..While doing somersaults and reciting a Shakespeare sonnet.

    In Hebrew.

    • Latimer Alder

      @anteros

      You saw them too? Thought I’d had too much of Old Beardie’s Global Winter Warmer ………

      :-)

  56. This seems to be a bunch of intellectual self flagellation. Two points :
    1) Its not even clear if climate is changing faster than historical norms or if humans have anything to do with it
    2) Humans can’t even save the Euro so its pretty pointless even discussing the grand nonsense described here.

    I predict that in 5 years the author will be embarrassed by this garbage.

    • “Saving the plant may require more effort than we have thought.”

      Ha ha ….. having just re-read the last line, it’s not going to take him 5 years to regret this philosophical garbage. He can’t even spell ‘planet’.

      Jeez Judith !

      • Typo aside, I think anyone who states in an apparently serious fashion that they can save the planet does not to wait even one day to be embarrassed.

  57. JC
    Your “Climate scenarios: 2015-2050″ post has disappeared.

  58. “Would that have suited you?” ANTEROS

    No, what suits me is a full, focused discussion that includes social rights.

    “North American Indians showed just how unsustainably you can live by exterminating one species after another and moving on to the next. Climate changed, so they unsustainably burned the hell out of the prairies every year to unsustainably keep the inappropriate landscape.” ANTEROS

    Seems you forget to mention commercial market hunting, the U.S. army, government and ranchers. If your approach to traditional knowledge of ecology is similar to your approach to history, I can understand why it’s of no interest to you that people have used and effectively managed prairie fires to promote grassland. You illustrate the kind of revisionist history you prefer, but it is anything but balanced. It’s the kind of thing that is a barrier to working and living together, with or without climate change.

    • Martha -

      Wilful misunderstanding too!

      The extinctions were a facet of the unsustainable [but successful] lifestyles of the indigenous peoples over thousands of years. Governments and ranchers had nothing to do with it.

      The revisionism comes from pretending tepee-dwellers had a kind of eco-sustainable lifestyle when the exact opposite was true. The nomadic versions moved exclusively because they made their localities completely barren. Moving was the only way to survive.

      It has a lot to recommend it, this fervently unsustainable lifestyle, but the ubiquitous rape and torture would be frowned upon by modern sensibilities.

      You have a really major conflict between talking about working together, and telling people how to live their lives, You can’t have both.

      • Anteros -

        I would suggest that you and Martha could have a more productive discussion (not necessarily assigning blame there).

        That said, your treatment of this seems quite one-sided. There were certainly positive elements that could be considered as concern about “sustainability” that are evident in societies throughout history – just as there is evidence of the negative impact from a lack of consideration for “sustainability” throughout history. I don’t see how you can have a reasonable discussion here without more specificity w/r/t definition, context, and scale – and I don’t see how pointing out that over-hunting has taken place is evidence to show otherwise. If anything, it argues for the benefits of sustainability on a specific scale. That over-hunting of some animals by some people didn’t wipe out the human race or all biodiversity doesn’t, it seems to me, to be a particularly profound observation.

        There, and now I broke my pledge to not discuss this with you further unless the discussion changed in nature.

      • Joshua -
        No assignment of blame needed. It happens, and is unfortunate.

        I feel in a way this is a no-hoper fro me. I think for one thing it is counter-intuitive to argue that sustainability and its pursuance are [at all] quite bad ideas. It can only appear foolish, wanton, irresponible, ignorant….or wrong.
        Secondly I think for yourself it already has an emotional meaning which flavours discussion of it. Rational as you are, I don’t think you’re in close proximity to ‘feeling’ that a sustainable practice is not necessarily a good thing.

        And thirdly, I’ve just realised [so, thanks for the prompt] I feel a great distinction – in fact that is where I’m at with the whole thing – between an observed sustainable practice from the past that evolved or came into being for practical reasons, and an intellectual – but emotionally driven – and ideological policy. Especially as this is then imposed on a situation where otherwise human practices – and the expression of courage and progress and risk-taking – would have approached something unsustainably, with benefits for all – or certainly without being negative.

        Really that’s what it is. Do we feel guilty about our existence and using things – even seemingly using things ‘up’? Is our human exuberance stultified such that we terrified of breaking things or changing things or – especially – making things go extinct? Do we worry that any of our actions will be ‘irreversible’ (see how this creeps into the language of climate change)?

        I was reading a comment over at Tamsin’s new blog which ended ‘may all your paths be sustainable!’ Fine. Really – it’s quite a nice thought but there’s a hidden corollary – that anything unsustainable is bad and I think that is worth rooting out and saying of it – apart from reasons of fear – why? Why the worry? What deep emotional fragility is troubled by changing the world in some way?

        And I think we do arrive at something purely emotional. So this top down ideological imposing of the concept of sustainability in quite an artificial way is not at all like the natural processes that led to either sustainable or unsustainable practices in the past. I see neither as standing out as good or bad, but the rather quaint view [that I heard from Martha] that people living ‘close to the land and sea’ is also bollocks and gets under my skin. Particularly because I mostly hear it from middle class urban environmentalists [er, most of my friends..] whose idea of nature is fluffy bunnies not wringing bunnies necks. Hence my mentioning of the prevalence of torture and rape in many North American cultures for thousands of years.

        Sustainability? Great. Lovely. Makes lots of sense!
        When it is the expression of either guilt or fear? No!

        P.S I don’t know if that is at all convincing/clear but it certainly claried my thinking/feeling on the subject

      • Ant, re your 12.45 pm post (no “Reply” prompt there), you note the implicit concept that “there’s a hidden corollary – that anything unsustainable is bad.” That would mean that everything is bad, because NOTHING is sustainable. Everything that exists, or has ever existed, is in a state of constant change. Denial of change is denial of reality.

        At the deepest, most basic level, all matter is composed of particles that arise and pass away with great rapidity – 10 pwr 22 times a second according to Luis Alvarez. At the more gross, apparent level, you are different from last night, everything has aged, hair has grown on your face, etc. The whole concept of sustainability is absurd. The major question for all human beings is not climate change, it is, with what we have, and what we know, what is the best we can do for the welfare of ourselves and other beings? This question has driven all human progress, blind alleys and horrific errors as well as higher living standards, better health, the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances and to take account of long-term costs and benefits as well as immediate ones, philosophy, and so on. The whole CAGW palaver seeks to extract from that great maelstrom one tiny part, seeking to give it over-riding importance and failing to see the broader context of the brief but so far pretty successful human saga. It would be too kind to call it petty, blinkered and short-sighted.

    • Martha,
      “Social justice” is usually a term that really means “allowing lefties to take from those they dislike”.
      What does “social justice” mean to you?

  59. From the writings of Thom Brooks’ distant ancestor, Sir Thomas Brooks:

    The scourge of witches doth present us with a pressing challenge. A global consensus accepts that witch activity is responsible for crop failures and stillborn children. However, there is disagreement on how best to address this challenge. This essay argues that leading proposals are unsatisfactory, such as the ducking stool and the gallows. The reasons include that they do not effectively manage witches and may contribute to further problems. We require a new approach to address witchcraft.

    Even if you don’t accept the consensus on witches, I suspect that few of you would say with confidence that there is zero chance of the Clergy being correct, and zero future risk. With that starting point, …

  60. I thought that was Newcastle Uni in New South Wales rather than my old home town of N’c upon Tyne, so was going to use the NSW link to an off-topic post. No matter. There is sometimes disagreement on CE about whether CAGW-promoting activists are in fact rabid lefties in leafy camouflage. Today’s Australian, quoting an article in left-wing journal The Monthly, says that:

    “Greens MPs and activists have complained that the party’s NSW branch is run by a small “cadre” of Leninist-style ideologues whose activities are making it appear to be populated by “lunatics.”

    “And the NSW branch is attempting to censure, gag or even expel MPs critical of its policies, including last year’s controversial move to back a ban on Israeli-owned chocolate retailer Max Brenner. …

    “The article … says that [national Greens' leader] Senator Brown is derided as a “megalomaniac” by some NSW branch members and is prohibited from writing to his party’s members without permission.”

    NSW Greens front-woman Senator Lee Rhiannon is a former Communist (or allegedly former) whose parents collaborated with Soviet intelligence [legal note: this is well-known and not controversial] and recently it has been alleged in the media, with evidence from ASIO, that Rhiannon also had contact with Soviet intelligence.

    So could CAGW-activists possibly be left-wing ideologues seeking to achieve their goal of destroying Western economies and lifestyle by stealth? Mmmm …

  61. “it is false to believe that” . “human activity influences climate … ”

    I leave out the “only” because there is absolutely no physical process that could lead to this. This is why the “science” is not real world physics ….

    Any radiation from a cooler atmosphere heading for the surface (at some angle in practice) has absolutely no effect on the surface. It does not get converted to thermal energy and so cannot affect the rate of thermal energy leaving the surface. It is merely immediately radiated out again with the same frequency and intensity, never having been converted to thermal energy. How could it possibly affect radiation coming out at different angles from other molecules? When you shine two torches towards each other, but not directly – just so the beams cross – they have no effect on each other’s beams. This I suggest would be a close analogy if backradiation even exists – there are solid reasons why “measuring” techniques may not be measuring backradiation at all, but just making deductions about its intensity from temperatures calculated from frequencies. They don’t measure a warming effect.

    The surface does not need to radiate at all to lose heat – it can do so by diffusion, conduction, convection, evaporation and chemical processes. The surface does not act like a blackbody because it is not surrounded by a vacuum or insulated from losses by these other means.

    I suspect that most radiation actually starts in the atmosphere, not the surface. But then I also suspect that any backradiation is extremely small compared with upward radiation, because I do not believe radiation has an equal probability of going towards warmer areas than towards cooler areas due to the higher energy of molecules “blocking” it in the warmer direction. If there are numerous captures and re-emissions, then even a slightly higher probability than 50% will, in the limit, ensure the vast majority heads for cooler regions. There are no experiments to my knowledge which demonstrate backradiation warming something, or slowing its rate of cooling.

    But whatever happens, the end result (if any gets to the surface) as far as energy and rates of cooling are concerned is just the same as if it had been reflected by a mirror. A mirror neither warms nor cools more slowly when it reflects IR radiation.- it, like the surface, is not affected at all because the radiating energy is never converted to thermal energy. You can only add and subtract like things such as thermal energy. Radiation does not cancel out other radiation as there are different angles involved for a start. The transfer of all thermal energy is in one direction, and the reason it only takes place in one direction is because only the cooler body “receives” it and converts it back to thermal energy.

    Hopefully this will help all to understand why an atmospheric greenhouse effect resulting from radiation is a physical impossibility.

    • If one of the objectives of the Climate Etc blog is to get an objective handle on uncertainty, I find it odd that nonsense commentary like the above from Cotton doesn’t get a severe thrashing from the rest of the skeptics.

      I know why that is so. It doesn’t meet their political agenda, which is actually to enhance FUD. At some point the blog’s comments may work against the objective of reducing uncertainty in AGW.

      “Hopefully this will help all to understand why an atmospheric greenhouse effect resulting from radiation is a physical impossibility.”

      Hopefully this will help all to understand how much of an impediment to understanding these crackpot theories have become.

      • Shh! Cotton may be ready to put his money where his mouth is :) I seem to recall this old guy Angstrom had a pretty nifty experimental apparatus and I am pretty handy building experiments if the price is right.

      • “Hopefully this will help all to understand how much of an impediment to understanding these crackpot theories have become.”

        I’m confused, you were referring to those coming out of GISS, weren’t you?

      • Web -
        Sometimes you’re blinkered tribalism gets tedious. Why would anybody respond to the garbage you quoted – it’s not worth the effort pressing the keys on the computer. It doesn’t mean anybody agrees with it. Right?

        You’re the same with Girma’s graphs. Just because very few people comment on them, it doesn’t mean they’re taken seriously – they are utterly harmless! It’s only you who jumps up and down shrieking that they are wrong who seems to worry about them. Don’t get your knickers in a twist.

        Why don’t you focus on something substantive – something more widely accepted that has traction but you think is in error?. You know, something worthwhile?

        These odd people who haven’t quite grasped the second law are going to cause problems, specifically, how?

      • WHT -

        If one of the objectives of the Climate Etc blog is to get an objective handle on uncertainty, I find it odd that nonsense commentary like the above from Cotton doesn’t get a severe thrashing from the rest of the skeptics.

        Are you asking that question of the skeptics, or the “skeptics?”

      • Ant, I don’t see you moving the yardsticks. I have useful analysis but you wouldn’t know it based on the “harmless” stuff that floats around here. So I am complaining about a low signal-to-noise ratio, but here it seems very pertinent. Removing obvious outliers is the first order of business in conveying what the uncertainties are.

      • WHT -

        OK, I understand your frustration.
        Slight problem is responding to garbage and nonsense actually increases the noise-to-signal ratio. It’s like feeding trolls.
        All I can say is that the vast majority of sensible folk just ignore it and scroll on by. They certainly aren’t in danger of being ‘infected’ with it.

        I’m sure a lot of people can’t stand the semantic trivia myself and Joshua get stuck into. Again – scroll on by.

        I think upping the signal-to-noise is a lost cause – unless you can persuade Judith to become someone completely different and start deleting everything O/T or certifiable rubbish.

        I think having a hefty amount of detritus appearing here is a small price to pay for the uncensored variety on offer. Including your own perspective!

        Maybe you could get a ‘super’scroller’ for your ‘puter – you might find you just don’t ‘see’ the garbage anymore..

    • Doug Cotton,
      You are wrong.
      You do not understand how insulation works.
      AGW does not fail because scientists have overlooked something as basic as what you imply.
      Go back to the drawing board.

      • Hunter,
        Even after I cleaned my ears out, it still sounded like shrill, shrill and more shrill.

      • James,
        Although not everyone likes the use of historical examples, I do.
        Evolution is very sound science. A late 19th century movement based on evolution, eugenics, is for me very illustrative of how to look at AGW.
        At one time the majority consensus was that eugenics policies were a very necessary and progressive idea, based on upon good evolutionary science. Progressive and enlightened leaders from government, academia, philosophy, media, etc. of the day backed it strongly. One defense of eugenics was that to oppose eugenics was to oppose evolution. Well history ahs shown evolution to be fine and eugenics to be terrible.

    • Doug Cotton – I am not the best person to reply to your comment, because I am no expert in this field. However, I am sure that your explanation is incorrect.

      When solar radiation gets through the atmosphere to the surface, some is reflected and some is absorbed. It doesn’t all get through, some gets reflected or absorbed along the way.

      The radiation absorbed by the surface heats it. Consequently, the surface radiates, but at relatively long wavelengths (IR). Some of that radiation, on the way out through the atmosphere, gets absorbed by CO2 and H2O molecules, thus heating them. It has to heat them, just as the original radiation heated the surface, because its energy can’t just disappear.

      So far, I think we’re on the same track.

      Those CO2 and H2O molecules, having heated up a bit, transfer some of that heat by convection into the atmosphere around them, and also radiate some of it. That radiation occurs in all directions. It has to occur in all directions because the molecules are randomly aligned and the radiation direction is essentially unaffected by gravity, and because the radiation can’t see what it’s heading for before it sets off. Of the radiation that heads towards the surface, some will be absorbed and re-radiated by the same process, but nevertheless some gets through to the surface. On arrival at the surface, some gets absorbed as before, and gets converted into heat, exactly as before. It has to be converted into heat because the energy cannot just disappear. Having been converted into heat, some of it convects and some gets re-radiated, and so the process goes on.

      The issue of heat flowing from a cooler body (the atmosphere) to a warmer body (the surface) is a red herring, because there is always a net flow the other way, and the thermodynamic law is that there cannot be a NET flow from a cooler to a warmer without work.

      The problem with CAGW is not this one. The problem with CAGW is that it relies very heavily (absurdly so) on water vapour and cloud positive feedbacks, for which there is no scientific evidence. Such evidence as there is suggests a net negative feedback. Even at no net feedback CAGW loses its “C” and is of no concern – in fact it would be very difficult to argue seriously that it was anything but a net benefit. At net negative feedback, the overall effect is so minor as to be laughable.

      Unfortunately, with the whole human race’s wellbeing at stake, it is no laughing matter.

  62. You made some good points there. I looked on the internet for the topic and found most individuals will approve with your website.

  63. Basically, you want to target a pure body and system,
    then THC Detoxing Foods Your Body drinks so that they too can share this knowledge.
    When a large number of living components are removed,
    these natural systems break down because the components and the systems are interrelated.