Apocalypse not (?)

by Judith Curry

Predictions of global famine and the end of oil in the 1970s proved just as wrong as end-of-the-world forecasts from millennialist priests. Yet there is no sign that experts are becoming more cautious about apocalyptic promises. If anything, the rhetoric has ramped up in recent years. Echoing the Mayan calendar folk, theBulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock one minute closer to midnight at the start of 2012, commenting: “The global community may be near a point of no return in efforts to prevent catastrophe from changes in Earth’s atmosphere.” – Matt Ridley

Matt Ridley has penned yet another provocative article, which is published in Wired.  The article is entitled Apocalypse Not:  Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry About End Times.  Some excerpts:

Over the five decades since the success of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 and the four decades since the success of the Club of Rome’s The Limits to Growth in 1972, prophecies of doom on a colossal scale have become routine. Indeed, we seem to crave ever-more-frightening predictions—we are now, in writer Gary Alexander’s word, apocaholic. The past half century has brought us warnings of population explosions, global famines, plagues, water wars, oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, Y2K bugs, mad cow epidemics, killer bees, sex-change fish, cell-phone-induced brain-cancer epidemics, and climate catastrophes.

So far all of these specters have turned out to be exaggerated. True, we have encountered obstacles, public-health emergencies, and even mass tragedies. But the promised Armageddons—the thresholds that cannot be uncrossed, the tipping points that cannot be untipped, the existential threats to Life as We Know It—have consistently failed to materialize. To see the full depth of our apocaholism, and to understand why we keep getting it so wrong, we need to consult the past 50 years of history.

The classic apocalypse has four horsemen, and our modern version follows that pattern, with the four riders being chemicals (DDT, CFCs, acid rain), diseases (bird flu, swine flu, SARS, AIDS, Ebola, mad cow disease), people (population, famine), and resources (oil, metals). Let’s visit them each in turn.

Read the article for extensive discussion of these historical examples.  The article concludes with a discussion of climate change:

Over the past half century, none of our threatened eco-pocalypses have played out as predicted. Some came partly true; some were averted by action; some were wholly chimerical. This raises a question that many find discomforting: With a track record like this, why should people accept the cataclysmic claims now being made about climate change? After all, 2012 marks the apocalyptic deadline of not just the Mayans but also a prominent figure in our own time: Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who said in 2007 that “if there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late … This is the defining moment.”

So, should we worry or not about the warming climate? It is far too binary a question. The lesson of failed past predictions of ecological apocalypse is not that nothing was happening but that the middle-ground possibilities were too frequently excluded from consideration. In the climate debate, we hear a lot from those who think disaster is inexorable if not inevitable, and a lot from those who think it is all a hoax. We hardly ever allow the moderate “lukewarmers” a voice: those who suspect that the net positive feedbacks from water vapor in the atmosphere are low, so that we face only 1 to 2 degrees Celsius of warming this century; that the Greenland ice sheet may melt but no faster than its current rate of less than 1 percent per century; that net increases in rainfall (and carbon dioxide concentration) may improve agricultural productivity; that ecosystems have survived sudden temperature lurches before; and that adaptation to gradual change may be both cheaper and less ecologically damaging than a rapid and brutal decision to give up fossil fuels cold turkey.

We’ve already seen some evidence that humans can forestall warming-related catastrophes. A good example is malaria, which was once widely predicted to get worse as a result of climate change. Yet in the 20th century, malaria retreated from large parts of the world, including North America and Russia, even as the world warmed. Malaria-specific mortality plummeted in the first decade of the current century by an astonishing 25 percent. The weather may well have grown more hospitable to mosquitoes during that time. But any effects of warming were more than counteracted by pesticides, new antimalarial drugs, better drainage, and economic development. Experts such as Peter Gething at Oxford argue that these trends will continue, whatever the weather.

Just as policy can make the climate crisis worse—mandating biofuels has not only encouraged rain forest destruction, releasing carbon, but driven millions into poverty and hunger—technology can make it better. If plant breeders boost rice yields, then people may get richer and afford better protection against extreme weather. If nuclear engineers make fusion (or thorium fission) cost-effective, then carbon emissions may suddenly fall. If gas replaces coal because of horizontal drilling, then carbon emissions may rise more slowly. Humanity is a fast-moving target. We will combat our ecological threats in the future by innovating to meet them as they arise, not through the mass fear stoked by worst-case scenarios.

JC comment:  In earlier times, future apocalypses were articulated by religious ‘seers.’  In the 20th century, science and models are driving apocalyptic predictions.  On one hand, increasing understanding of the natural world and social systems should improve the basis for such predictions.  On the other hand, this improved understanding and the explosion of numerical modeling and predictions provides fuel for the technically grounded apocaholics.

Once an apocalyptic prediction gets made, the whole thing becomes polarized, with one group preaching apocalypse and the other group dismissing it.    I like Ridley’s point about the excluded middle ground, “lukewarmers” in the case of climate change.  I also like his points about the unintended consequences of policies intended to “fix” the problem.  Overall, I think this is a very interesting and provocative article.

326 responses to “Apocalypse not (?)

  1. A Win-Win Resolution to the AGW Debate

    World leaders have been struggling for their own survival since 1945, unaware that we can instead work together to achieve these common goals:

    Working together we can achieve goals 1-6, instead of abandoning goals 5 and 6 for 1-4 !

    1. We all want world peace.

    2. An end to racism and nationalistic warfare.

    3. An end to the threat of mutual nuclear annihilation.

    4. Cooperative efforts to protect Earth’s environment and bounty.

    5. Governments controlled by the people being governed, including

    6. Transparency and veracity (truth) in information given the public.

    See the updated summary here: http://omanuel.wordpress.com

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

    • We can stop all this divisive debate immediately,
      Restore constitutional limits on government, and
      Integrity to government science if we all agree to
      Openly discuss the evidence, pro and con for:

      1. Natural “nuclear fires” that burned on Earth
      2. Internal heat production in cores of planets
      3. Local synthesis of our elements in the Sun
      4. Repulsive interactions between neutrons
      5. Anthropologic global warming (AGW)
      6. Severe mass fractionation in the Sun

      I sincerely hope that leaders of the UN IPCC, the US National Academy of Sciences, the UK Royal Society and the editors and publisher of Nature, Science, PNAS, MNRS, BBC, PBS, etc. are now ready to put the basic principles of science back in operation and stop hiding and ignoring some precise measurements and observations that refute unscientific models.

      That action would be in the best interest of society, and probably in the long-term best interest of these leaders too.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo
      http://www.omatumr.com

      • Society is hurting, worldwide. Public confidence in world leaders has been destroyed by false information you gave them as scientific truths.

        Continued promotion of misinformation:
        1. The AGW model of Earth’s climate
        2. The SSM model of H-filled stars
        3. Neutrinos oscillating to hide lies
        4. The Big Bang Model of creation
        5. The liquid drop model of nuclei,
        6. Dripping with excess neutrons
        7. Etc., etc., etc.

        Will hasten destruction of social order, and arrival
        At a conclusion that has already been recorded:

        “Truth is victorious, never untruth.”
        Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6; Qur’an 17.85

        “Be still, and know that I am God.”
        Old Testament, Psalms 46:10

    • If the AGW Debate Were Between Skeptics and Believers, . . .

      The above Win-Win Resolution would be acceptable to all those who want items 1-6, inclusively.

      But the above Win-Win Resolution will not be acceptable if the deceit revealed in Climategate e-mails and documents in 2009 is but the first visible symptom of the problem George Orwell [1] forecast in 1948 [Nineteen Eighty-four, "1984" (Written in 1948, published in 1949 as a warning about the future)]. Synopsis is here:

      http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/

  2. CarbonBrief had a response questioning Ridley’s data and analysis: http://www.carboncommentary.com/2012/08/23/2449/comment-page-1#comment-6840 It is easy to point to short-term difficulties, shortages and problems; Ridley’s view is that the long term trend is upwards, and as we get richer we solve environmental problems with innovation and trade. Another great book looking at failed predictions of doom is Dan Gardner’s Future babble which I reviewed here: http://skepteco.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/the-perils-of-prediction/ And I recently came across a book by John Maddox The Doomsday Machine written in 1970! I havnt read it yet, seems like a response to a lot of dogy science that was pressed into service in the years following Carson’s Silent Spring.

    • lurker, passing through laughing

      Maddox was well ahead of his time, and saw the apocalytpic obsession for what it is.

    • Paul Matthews

      To be precise and pedantic, it’s “The Doomsday Syndrome” and it was 1972. It’s quite similar in style to Matt Ridley, yet it was written long before the prophecies of the doom-mongers like Paul Ehrlich were proved to be completely wrong. John Maddox was editor of Nature, back in the days when Nature was a serious scientific journal.

  3. Yeah.

    Hardly surprising that if we’re talking about end-of-the-world prophecies of the past, we’re talking about their failures.

    Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here to talk.

    On the other hand, the Mayan, Inca, Aztec, Phoenician, Roman, Greek, and scores of other civilizations we know of and so obscure now we know next to nothing of did have catastrophic failures that did end them.

    So the rate of understanding these failures is low? How is that high level of Uncertainty a comfort?

    And the awareness of apocalyptic ideologies is hardly a sign of increasing apocalypticism. The term apocalypse itself is rooted in one of the dominant world religions. Millennial apocalypse predictions are a whole literary genre, and millennial apocalypse movements a field of study within history and religion. The recurrent nature of this perennial train of thought is the interesting part, more likely, than the sudden discovery of it today by thinkers who don’t do their research and delve into the basics of a field before embarrassing themselves with ill-founded claims.

    Ironically, since the point that so many apocalyptic claims are ill-founded as is claimed ought be based on a better foundation than provided.

    So, how’s the Isaac predicting going?

    • BartR,

      We should lukewarmingly embrace our utter lack of foresight:

      > We were subject to a completely unpredicted and unpredictable closing of the world credit markets. Our model was entirely transparent to the market and to the regulator. It was discussed regularly with both and it was not at the time seen as running a particularly high risk in terms of liquidity.

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/Ridleyriddle3.html

      Hindsight is only there to confirm our lack of foresight.

      Going from 0/20 to 20/20 is the best way to lukewarmingly resolve polarities.

    • BartR,perhaps the cause of an apocalypse is pigeon holing? Athropocene may be our doom! Or perhaps instead of too big to fail it should be too big will fail?

    • BartR,

      We should embrace our lukewarm lack of foresight:

      > We were subject to a completely unpredicted and unpredictable closing of the world credit markets. Our model was entirely transparent to the market and to the regulator. It was discussed regularly with both and it was not at the time seen as running a particularly high risk in terms of liquidity.

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/Ridleyriddle3.html

      Hindsight is only there to confirm our lack of foresight.

      Going from 0/20 to 20/20 is the best way to lukewarmingly resolve polarities.

      • A little shirt ripping of your own, eh willard?

      • > Kahneman was once asked by a finance firm to help its executives allocate bonuses more accurately. The firm wanted to be sure that it was awarding the biggest bonuses to the people who were best at investing: they picked the stocks that performed best, and so made most money for investors. Kahneman analysed data going back eight years on each fund manager — and found that, over that period, not one of them achieved better results than would have been achieved by chance. You would have done just as well as the professional investors, and sometimes better, had you decided what to invest in by rolling dice or flipping a coin.

        http://www.spectator.co.uk/issues/28-july-2012/mad-money

    • Our predictions are holding up so far, but of course the big questions in terms of landfall, intensity and impacts remain to be verified. I’ll try to do an extensive post on this for tomorrow, lets see what my schedule will allow

      • That depends on which predictions. A couple days ago, it was going to run almost the full length of Cuba, and then end up in Florida, with Tampa a distinct possibility. And Cat 3 was also a distinct possibility. It just clipped the corner of Cuba, and is gunning for New Orleans, and is still having trouble getting organized. So in very loose terms the models were right, but the details were anything but.

      • ECMWF (the main model that we use) never had a high probability of Tampa. At longer time ranges, the models at best will be loosely correct.

      • Curiuos George

        Dr. Curry – in your opinion, is the uncertainty caused mostly by insufficient data, by approximations used in the model(s), or some other factors?

      • Looks to me like they leave in a bunch of models so they get a wider range of options instead of just using the best ones. They would rather err on the side of people preparing or possibly evacuating for a false alarm than give a narrow range of projections and have people who may be in the path ignore it.

      • The uncertainty is caused by the nonlinear dynamics of the combined transport system. It’s an inherent feature of a system that’s part fluid mechanics, with a lot of other transport processes mixed in. It’s the nature of the problem, not of the solution.

    • steven mosher

      The OP is about threats to civilization per se and you bring up examples about cultures that failed. Whatever the cause of the failure behind the Inca’s was we know this: humanity survived. Same for all the other failed cultures you mentioned. Simply put, the disappearance of the greek, roman, phoenician, etc cultures wasn’t apocalyptic. Not sure what lessons can be drawn from that with regard to our evaluation of apocalyptic thinking.

      Perhaps the only thing that is threatened by climate change is the trust in experts

      • > The OP is about threats to civilization per se and you bring up examples about cultures that failed.

        This might explain BartR’s:

        > Hardly surprising that if we’re talking about end-of-the-world prophecies of the past, we’re talking about their failures. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here to talk.

      • Steven Mosher

        Yes. that makes his change of topics even more puzzling.

      • Considering that we exist, to find apocalyptic scenarios that failed has a 100% success rate when we limit ourselves to events that would make our existence cease.

        I believe this BartR’s point.

        Either we stick to Ridley’s trick, which is based on a trivial exercise (just think about BartR’s point), or you try to make Ridley’s point an empirical one, in which case you **do** have to be defined in a non-trivial manner.

        And this includes example of collides.

        Nothing puzzling about that.

        Moshpit is no better than bender to arbitrate topicality.

      • Simply put, the disappearance of the greek, roman, phoenician, etc cultures wasn’t apocalyptic.

        Odd examples. Never mind. When a civilization collapses, it’s pretty apocalyptic to them. (Remember as I explore this with you that it is a red herring, as most of the people arguing for mitigation are arguing that BAU will be expensive and destructive, not necessarily apocalyptic.)

        The premise of the argument is that everyone who ever said civilization was collapsing was wrong. That is false; civilizations have collapsed, and doubtless many people say those collapses coming.

        You seem to want to argue “that can’t happen to the whole world.” I disagree. Now we have a global civilization that is tied together by trade, technology, cultural products and weapons that reach every corner of the global. The world in connected and interdependent to a far greater extent than in the past.

        >>>>>>>>>>>>>
        WARNING: PHILOSOPHICAL CONTENT (IRRELEVANT TO CLIMATE CHANGE)
        By definition, everyone who has predicted the end of the world has been wrong up to this point. However, logically you can’t conclude anything from that, as it if there were no world, there would be no predictions. You can’t conclude its unlikely to happen because it hasn’t happened yet. That would be like concluding because you’ve survived every day of your life so far, not dying even once, that you’re immortal. It’s a classic chicken-farmer fallacy. Doesn’t scan.

      • BAU comes with greater risk of being expensive.

        Apocalypses are merely fun to contemplate, like any science fiction or fantasy literature subgenre.

        Unless you’re one of the people who actually go through what for you is something on that continuum of apocalyptic, or expensive, or risky.

        In which case if you consented to it, then you’re to blame in some way, but if you didn’t, and objected and yet others proceeded to expose you to risk and expense and apocalyptic conditions, then, well, there’s a whole other subgenre of literature based on the history of people who feel they’ve been unjustly wronged and seek compensation or redress.

      • steven mosher | August 27, 2012 at 12:56 pm said: ”Perhaps the only thing that is threatened by climate change is the trust in experts”

        WRONG! Confusing climatic changes with the PHONY GLOBAL warmings; prevents the society of improving the climate. H2O controls the climate, not CO2!!! If people know the truth, would have being saving extra storm-water in new dams and improving the climate worldwide. Water storages, topsoil moisture and water vapor = better / MILDER climate. Lack of water on land = extreme climates everywhere*** Blaming the essential CO2, is a double crime. Crime shouldn’t pay. Every GLOBAL warming Nostradamus should be castrated, to breed-out the conman’s genes. The end is nigh!… snip-snip…

        Because the leading con-artists know that is no such a thing as a GLOBAL warming – they use the therm ”Climate Change” instead. Would the climate stayed the same, if it wasn’t any industrial revolution?! The end is nigh for the Warmistas and their faithful Geldings, the Fakes. People on the street are starting to see that is all con. They are not possessed by the propaganda – can understand my formulas. Honesty will become fashionable again. Honesty famine will be alleviated.

    • On the other hand, the Mayan, Inca, Aztec, Phoenician, Roman, Greek, and scores of other civilizations we know of and so obscure now we know next to nothing of did have catastrophic failures that did end them.

      So the rate of understanding these failures is low?

      Dead right. These failures were brought on by the same sorts of failures the ‘Progessives” and CAGW Alarmists are endeavoring to bring on us again. And they are succeeding in the Western Democracies by implementing they anti-human policies. World Economic Forum “Global Risks 2012″ highlights what they are. They are not climate change or CO2 emissions. They main ones are: Economic, Geopolitical, Societal and Technological risks.
      http://reports.weforum.org/global-risks-2012/

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Yes Peter, we’ve been through this already.

        World Economic Forum “Global Risks 2012″ highlights what they are. They are not climate change or CO2 emissions.

        CO2 emissions is number 5 or 6 in the Risks table. Also in the top 5 are food shortage and water shortage, both of which are tightly linked to climate change.

        Repeating something you know is wrong is not helpful to productive discussion.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        Yes. We’ve been through this before. The other risks are far more serious than CO2 emissions and you don’t even consider them. In fact your proposals for mitigation exacerbate them.

        Also in the top 5 are food shortage and water shortage, both of which are tightly linked to climate change.

        No. That is your CAGW Alarmists’ spin on it. That is not what they refer to. We have those risk with or without CO2 emissions.

        However, I realise this discussion is pointless with you because, like many alarmists, your mind is closed and locked shut.

        Repeating something that is wrong (whether you know it or not) is not helpful to productive discussion.

      • Peter Lang,

        You are deliberately ignoring the timescale on respective risks. The risk from CO2 emissions isn’t immediate. It’s not going to figure high on the top 10 list of world problems for the year 2013. People of your age won’t be much affected in your lifetime, which I suppose is a good reason for not wanting to have to put your hand in your pocket to pay for the cost of mitigation.

        It’s a bit like a teenager smoking. The cigarettes are very unlikely to kill him anytime soon. If he were to draw up a list of the top 10 threats to his life, for the year 2013, then smoking related illnesses wouldn’t rate very high either. Its still not a good idea for him to smoke though and not just because of the costs involved. Sooner or later the health risks will catch up with him.

        PS Its amusing that you dismiss anyone who may disagree with you with the comment “your mind is closed and locked shut.” Like yours isn’t? Like you engage in argument on a rational basis? I don’t think so.

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterrain

        I think I’d rather spend my time worrying about the things that really are likely to kill me this year rather than things that might happen 100 years out. Or might not.

        And if the teenager gets pissed and drives a car, I really don’t mind too much about whether he lights up a fag or not.

        Call me back in 30 years when there may (or may not) be some hard evidence of which of the many postulated ‘climate change-related threats’ have actually materialised (I believe that the latest count is approaching 1000 such ‘threats’, and we can then work out what (if anything) we need to do about them.

      • Latimer Adler,

        I’ve probably never said this before but you’re right. AGW is very unlikely to kill or injure you this year, or the next, or the year after that, or in any year of your lifetime.

        So it’s quite rational for you to say that it’s certainly not your problem.

        However, there are those of us who ask if we should be leaving a time-bomb for future generations. And if it’s somehow OK that the time bomb won’t explode this century, as Judith seems to suggest, but may well explode some time later.

        But not you, eh?

      • Latimer Alder

        Wow

        Good scary stuff. ‘The time bomb explodes’ in the next century. You must get really bad dreams.

        Come back when you think about this stuff with your brain not just your adrenal glands and we’ll talk again.

        But I am not going to worry myself into a tizz at the thought that my great great great grandchildren will not be able to figure out what to do if the sealevel is 2 feet further up the beach than it is today. I’m quite happy to assume that they’ll be just as intelligent as us and quite as capable of making their own decisions about all the circumstances they find themselves in at that time.

        And if you feel the need for spiritual guidance/confession/remission of sins – or to expiate your guilt at having once driven a car or lit a bonfire or smoked a fag, please consult a priest…don’t take it out on the rest of us.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        The point I made was:

        Dead right. These failures were brought on by the same sorts of failures the ‘Progessives” and CAGW Alarmists are endeavoring to bring on us again. And they are succeeding in the Western Democracies by implementing they anti-human policies.

        There are stacks of references to demonstrate that point, including the WEF ‘Global Risks 2012′ report I quoted. But feel free to go and research the matter with other sources if you want to argue about your interpretation of what the WEF Global Risk 2012 report says. Last time you you tried to make points about it you hadn’t even read it and didn’t understand it. You just took a couple of quick quotes and then made comments based on them. I suspect you still haven’t read it.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter,

        You just took a couple of quick quotes and then made comments based on them. I suspect you still haven’t read it.

        No, you said that GHG emissions were not the highest risk according to this report. When challenged, you said something like “they are not the highest in terms of impact” which anyone with even the most basic knowledge of risk analysis knows that “impact” is just one of the components of a risk analysis. You then pointed to your own discussion of risk analysis that you posted elsewhere and which shows that you knew you were being deceptive.

        Sometimes you only need to read two lines of a report to spot that someone has misread something. In this case you were being misleading, though. You did not misread.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        No, you said that GHG emissions were not the highest risk according to this report.

        Correct. Still correct. The report has not changed.

        There are four higher risks (ten higher on impact, which in this case is what I think is important since most CAGW Alarmists are more concerned about trying to emphasise the catastrophic consequences and they play down the low probabilities).

        But what I see in this issue and what you lkeep demonstrating is that you are not even concerned about the higher risks.. You don’t even know what they are or care about them. Yet you advocate policies that will have no effect on the only one you are interested in (and obsessively so) but will exacerbate the others.

        The fact you cannot deal with the important issues, but you want to argue incessantly and pedantically about whether or not the fifth highest risk is amongst the highest risks shows you have no real understanding of risk management. It is clear you are just using ‘risk’ as a means to promote your ideological agenda – but only when it support what you want to achieve.

        We’ve been through all this before. I put you to bed on it last time in about ten comments in irrelevant side tracks. I can’t be bothered going through all that again because I know it leads nowhere. CAGW Alarmists are not interested in the real issue. They just want to sidetrack discussions to avoid the bleeding obvious.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang

        Well you know that you said it wasn’t in the highest “risks”, but if you feel you need to want to make a point based on my typing error then go ahead.

        It is clear you are just using ‘risk’ as a means to promote your ideological agenda – but only when it support what you want to achieve.

        No, I’m just highlighting the bogus and faulty analyses that seem to underlie your simple convictions. Anyone who hears you quote or paraphrase the summary of a document you cite from needs to understand they need to read it for themselves.

        Until you promoted this document I didn’t know that this clearly august body had decided that, despite the inherent uncertainty, greenhouse gas emissions were in the top six risks facing humankind.

      • Latimer Alder

        @steve milesworthy

        Are you not deeply grieved that your whole raison d’etre here (and I suspect professionally) cannot even scrape into the Top 5 of things to worry about?

      • Ominously, a more stealthy and serious risk is that of a social mania sweeping through the herd and perverting them into pouring over a cliff.

        What will the next five such social manias be?
        ==================

      • Latimer Alder

        @steve milesworthy

        And i just have this vision of the late, great Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman introducing Pick of the Risks.

        And exceprt:

        ‘And falling down to number 6 – never quite made it to the top spot – is ‘Greenhouse Gas Emissions’ by The IPCC.’

        But up at 5 and rising fast ‘Chronic Fiscal Imbalances’ by The Politicians

        Not arf Risk Pickers. Stay bright …all right.

        It’d sound something like this

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        No, I’m just highlighting the bogus and faulty analyses that seem to underlie your simple convictions.

        Look in the mirror. That’s what I’ve been attempting to point out is the case with you.

        You cannot focus on what is important. And you cannot admit when you are clearly wrong.

        Steve Milesworthy,

        Before I get into another long argument with you about down-in-the-weeds trivialities (e.g. your definition of “top”), there are some outstanding previous arguments that were not brought to closure because you couldn’t bring yourself to acknowledge that you were wrong. To give you the opportunity to demonstrate you are actually willing to take a debate through to closure and you have the integrity to acknowledge when you are wrong, can you please agree closure on our unfinished previous arguments. Here are a few examples of my comments at the end of long previous arguments that you clearly lost (pontificated on subjects you know nothing about) but couldn’t admit to:

        Steve Milesworthy,

        Why aren’t you more scared, more alarmist and advocating irrational policies to mitigate the higher risks?

        I bet you don’t even know what they are, do you?

        Your lack on interest in the higher risks shows how irrational you are, and how you are controlled by your illogical beliefs.

        Here is another still not answered:

        If you want to start again go back to here http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/15/9412/#comment-229549 and actually answer (not avoid and obfuscate) the questions I asked you.

        You said:

        What should we do about the tonnes of deadly dangerous slag at Windscale?

        Please quantify “deadly dangerous”.

        • How “deadly dangerous”?
        • How many fatalities so far”
        • How many fatalities per TWh of electricity supplied?
        • Put this in perspective compared with other electricity generation technologies.
        • Are there any major errors in the comparative figures provided here? http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html

        You also could never bring your self to acknowledge you were wrong about wind power costs, subsidies and the CO2 abatement cost with wind energy.

        Here is another piece of unfinished business:

        It [reducing GHG emissions by the amounts advocated] cannot be done without either a cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels or by cutting world GDP growth rate?

        To do it by cutting GDP growth rate would cause a deep, sustained worldwide depression?

        If you disagree with the last point, please show your calculations using the Kaya Identity (and realistic values for the inputs).

        If you disagree with the Kaya Identity please explain why.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang,

        Why aren’t you more scared, more alarmist and advocating irrational policies to mitigate the higher risks?

        I bet you don’t even know what they are, do you?

        Your lack on interest in the higher risks shows how irrational you are, and how you are controlled by your illogical beliefs.

        I have interests in lots of things. I don’t express all my interests in the same place. In answer to Latimer, my whole raison d’etre for being here is not my whole raison d’etre.

        I don’t believe I’ve ever expressed how scared I am, expressed alarmism or advocated (as opposed to mentioned, discussed, commented on) any policies let alone irrational ones.

        So your questions are misdirected.

        It [reducing GHG emissions by the amounts advocated] cannot be done without either a cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels or by cutting world GDP growth rate?

        To do it by cutting GDP growth rate would cause a deep, sustained worldwide depression?

        If you disagree with the last point, please show your calculations using the Kaya Identity (and realistic values for the inputs).

        If you take into account all the real costs of fossil fuels then there are plenty of cost competitive alternatives to fossil fuels. And as lurker has pointed out below, even quite heavy taxation of carbon won’t stop us enjoying ourselves.

        Problem solved…

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        I don’t believe I’ve ever expressed how scared I am, expressed alarmism or advocated (as opposed to mentioned, discussed, commented on) any policies let alone irrational ones.

        You do it all the time. An obvious recent example was your statement about “Dangerous deadly slag” at Winscale, but couldn’t even give figures on how many fatalities it had caused not give a perspective for such figures.

        No point in making any more comments given you mind is totally blinded by your ideological beliefs.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        If you take into account all the real costs of fossil fuels then there are plenty of cost competitive alternatives to fossil fuels. And as lurker has pointed out below, even quite heavy taxation of carbon won’t stop us enjoying ourselves.

        Problem solved…

        An assertion based on blind faith and ignorance. You have no idea what the net externalities of fossil fuels and cheap energy are do you?

    • David Springer

      Bart, you could have been more brief by saying that every prediction of apocalypse was proven wrong because we’re still here to talk about them.

      • David Springer | August 28, 2012 at 9:06 am |

        I could’ve said, “Cogito Ergo Sum,” too. What do people care how I say what I say; more to the point, why do people think I’ve used too many words when the issue is they haven’t strung them together in their heads to get the meaning?

        See, my meaning is that deprecating all discussion of negative outcomes with the same sweep of the arm that encompasses the guy in the sandwich board, bedsheets and sandals on the corner shouting “The End is Nigh,” alongside the very real mathematical certainties derived from hard won scientific knowledge is a specious and illogical approach, so http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/composition-division if not http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman.

        So there are dire Risks as part of a continuum of negative outcomes. So what? That’s how people _must_ discuss Risk, fully and frankly, because to ignore the extreme ends of a domain will skew the results.

        But you’re right. I should’ve just said that every prediction of apocalypse that was wrong up to now was about us. Slightly different from your claim, but at least it’s true up to the point that it invites http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/the-gamblers-fallacy on the part of those who think this can’t change.

      • Bart

        Imo you do not address the issue of risks realistically as they have to be addressed in the real world of independent nations with conflicting interests. If a nation fails to address risks, is there in your opinion “a duty” of other nations to impose what they believe to be the proper solution?

        If a nation fails to build the proper infrastructure to help protect its citizens from changes in the weather or extreme weather, is their a responsibility for other nations to get involved? Why?

      • Rob Starkey | August 28, 2012 at 11:38 am |

        *shrug*

        Since international trade and affairs between states wasn’t the topic at hand, I’d be surprised — but not very — to have found I’d wandered so far afield as to address this question here.

        Why did you expect I would?

        The USA is quite capable of negotiating terms with other nations with regard to Risks to the USA posed by these other nations. Moreso if the USA can find the other nation on a map, name its head of state, identify its five largest industries and describe briefly the nation’s history and political system as well as its chief trade and cultural interests.

        Since that isn’t the topic either, could you express your opinion of the customary national dress of Albania in the 17th century? Is there anything we can do about that? And why?

    • Bart,

      We all gonna die. That’s a prediction I’ll stand by. The point of the Ridley piece is that is rarely, if ever due to the reasons some people claim will happen.

      What I’ve always found interesting is that all of the people who are trying to warn us of a coming environmental holocast are living very, very comfortably. What’s up with that?

      • timg56 | August 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm |

        All of them are living very, very comfortably? Every last one of them? That’s surprising, as I’d imagine the average income of Greenpeace supporters approximates zero, the comfort people in South Africa who hosted the Durban conference have is from trying to lead morally upright and just lives, and I really doubt you’ve met most people who are trying to warn you of the environmental risks you’re imposing on them.

        It is after all not all about you; nice though I’m sure all these people are, I’m betting they’re more concerned about their own interests and those of their own descendents, which they have plausible cause to believe are jeopardized by the dangerously negligent conduct of CO2E emitters.

        I imagine that’s what is up with that, then, is that you are obsessed with celebrities and have turned a deaf ear to anyone less important than yourself, especially if you may be causing them grief and don’t want to deal with such a depressing topic.

  4. Paul Matthews

    ” In earlier times, future apocalypses were articulated by religious ‘seers.’ In the 20th century, science and models are driving apocalyptic predictions. ”

    There is a nice cartoon of this at

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/image48.png

    • Latimer Alder

      Excellent cartoon. It illustrates the point very well.

      I think that throughout history there have always been those disposed to believe in imminent apocalypse. Perhaps it is the excitement of living in the End Days, or of being punished for their sins, or of martyrdom that attracts them.

      But they’ve always existed..It is only the exact nature of the apocalypse that they crave/fear that changes. The supposed reasons are always the same…perceived misbehaviour by ‘other people’ leading to the downfall of all. And this, very conveniently, allows the apocalyptists to seize what they see as the moral high ground and opens up huge opportunities for them to publicly chastise the wrong doers….and to tell themselves – despite all indications to the contrary – that they are doing what is ‘right’.

      Today’s alarmist greenies are just the latest manifestation in a long line stretching back at least to the Greeks.

      And I notice that even after 3000 years, the World Has Not Come To An End in any of the spectacular ways so confidently predicted throughout history.

      • Latimer Adler

        It goes back much further than the Greeks, in actual fact.

        Of course there have been cataclysmic mass extinctions in the pre-historic past, but doomsday scenarios since human history all have similar bases: humans have sinned, a higher power has become angry, humans are punished for their transgressions by a cataclysmic event of mass destruction and killing.

        Noah’s Flood of the Old Testament actually came from a much earlier Babylonian tale

        More than a thousand years older than the tale in Genesis is the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. According to historians, the Epic of Gilgamesh may be the oldest written story on Earth. It comes to us from Ancient Sumeria, and was originally written on 12 clay tablets in cunieform script. It is about the adventures of the historical King of Uruk (somewhere between 2,750 and 2,500 B.C.).

        Tablet XI of the Gilgamesh epic tells the story of the Flood. Utnapishtim (Old Babylonian) [or Ziusudra (Sumerian)] is the “Noah” character of the Flood story.

        The story tells us that the Gods were angry and:

        The hearts of the Great Gods moved them to inflict the Flood.

        (Like Noah in Genesis) Utnapishtim was warned by the God of Water to abandon his house and build a boat, taking animals with him.

        The key difference between then and now is that today we actually believe that we humans can do something to stop the catastrophe, as the lead article here shows.

        But in reality we can’t.

        But, then again, we also cannot cause the catastrophe (regardless of what James E. Hansen may want us to believe).

        But it makes a helluva good doomsday story.

        Max

      • Latimer Alder

        @max

        Interesting. But I’ve always believed that there really was a flood.within human memory when the Mediterranean overflowed through the Bosphorus (abt 6000 ya). And it is this that is the foundation of the Noah story.

        Of course, interested parties of the apocalyptic tradition have hijacked it to ‘prove’ that they were right in their moral crusades. And its not hard to see the Eve, the Apple and the Fall of Man in the same light. Bad people doing something the author disapproves of getting their comeuppance.

        Some people just have a deep-seated need to feel morally superior to others and to chastise them with whatever means is convenient in their time ….religious heresy, eugenics, climate change…

      • Latimer Alder

        Update

        According to this, the human race was wiped out in the Flood for being too noisy

        http://www.religioustolerance.org/noah_com.htm

        I shall remember this next time I am on the Tube next to some inconsiderate beast with a loud iPod……maybe these old Gods were onto something….

      • Latimer Adler

        Yes. A few years ago marine geologists William Ryan and Walter Pitman of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University proposed a hypothesis that a smaller fresh water lake was suddenly filled with sea water, when the Mediterranean had risen over millennia as the Ice Age ice caps retreated and sea levels rose, until it finally broke through the Borporous, thereby wiping out an early civilization and creating the Black Sea.

        In their book “Noah’s Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event That Changed History” (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998), they detail the scientific evidence that the Old Testament story of Noah and the Great Flood was actually based on a real-life event, a cataclysmic flood that took place approximately 7,600 years ago, around 5,600 B.C.
        http://www.centuryone.com/1052-2.html

        A similar cataclysmic event is postulated to have occurred around 5.3 million years ago, when rising sea water broke through a land bridge over what is now the Strait of Gibraltar after another extended period of warming and melting ice, to fill the almost dried out trench of the Mediterranean. Again, this hypothesis is supported by fossil finds as well as thick layers of salt found underneath the bottom of the sea today.
        http://phys.org/news179598629.html

        So, in addition to the massive extinctions that occurred many millions of years ago, there have definitely been local or regional “apocalypses” in our planet’s past.

        Max

      • I understand the Mediterranean Sea refilled-filled about 5.3 million years ago, not 6000 years ago.

      • Med Sea in the unremembered mists of temps passe, the Black is deja vu all over again.
        ================

    • At least the apocalypts of 700 years ago had an excuse. They had the plagues, which could be pretty apocalyptic. If you wake up one morning to find that you’re the only living human being in your normal walking range, then, pace Mosher, and even if the species survives, you are living through an apocalypse, and if you haven’t the beginnings of an understanding of how it operates, and therefore how to mitigate it, it makes perfect sense to attribute it to divine wrath.

      Warmists’ life-experience (and that of ecomentalists in general) is almost the precise opposite – no generation in history has been less threatened. But old habits die hard. My guess is they find this absence of threat intolerable and, having repudiated the traditional medium of penitence – religion – have turned for expiation to scientistic apocalysm.

    • Ok so what is the argument here? That Noah’s flood was just a legend, and even if it was based some actual real world event some thousands of years ago, it certainly didn’t bring about the end of the world, so there’s no possibility that the build up of atmospheric CO2 can possibly be as harmful as the IPCC say it is.

      Well that’s OK then isn’t it? What’s the point of doing any climate science at all when all we need to do is study some Babylonian legend?

      • Latimer Alder

        I think what it shows is that human nature hasn’t changed very much over the last few thousand years. And that there are some people who have always had a great desire to go around predicting an apocalypse and a much larger constituency who want to believe it.

        And the conclusion is that such predictions need to be examined very very carefully before being accepted. It is not sufficient for the apocalyptists to self-certify that they are right and that we must all believe them.

        I could make the same remark about any set of religious fanatics…doesn’t just have to be climate zealots….militant believers of any faith do exactly the same.

      • Apocalypse? It depends on what you mean by that.

        The scientific consensus is that CO2 is an important greenhouse gas. Increasing atmospheric CO2 content to levels not seen naturally for millions of years will have a significant adverse impact on world climate. The consensus is that the costs will significantly outweigh the benefits and also that the costs of mitigation now will be less than adaptation later.

        It probably won’t mean the end-of-the-world if the scientific advice is ignored. Neither will it mean the end-of-the-world, or even the immediate end of your world, if you yourself ignore scientific advice and have unprotected sex with strangers. It’s still not a good idea though.

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterrain

        ‘significant adverse impact’
        ‘costs will outweigh benefits’
        ‘costs of mitigation will be less than adaptation’
        ‘the consensus is’

        H’mm

        I’ve seen lots of apocalyptists making such claims, but never anything concrete to back them up. Where should I have been looking? And consensus among whom?

        If I took a straw poll in a seminary I think I’d probably find that a large majority of the respondents believed in transusbstantiation. Doesn’t mean it’s true though…….despite there being a ‘consensus’.

      • Temp writes a statement which I believe is inaccurate—

        “The consensus is that the costs will significantly outweigh the benefits and also that the costs of mitigation now will be less than adaptation later.”
        1. Temp- What was the group that you are referring to when you state that there is a consensus that costs outweigh the benefits and upon what data did the group reportedly make such a conclusion?
        2. Which study were you referring to when you stated the cost of mitigation now will be less than the cost of adaption later? That seems to be an absolutely unsupportable and absurd claim that could easily be proven to be inaccurate

      • “unsupportable and absurd claim that could easily be proven to be inaccurate”

        By all means — prove it.

      • It seems the cost of mitigating is the destruction of advanced human civilization and the cost of adapting to warming climate change is less than the cost of adapting to cooling climate change. To the extent AnthroCO2 can tip the scales toward warming is a plus, but it seems to be a weak effect.
        ================

      • Idiot Robert

        When the pTemp shows such a study, I will.

      • Robert Starkey,

        Costs versus benefits?

        I’d suggest you start by reading the work of William Nordhaus
        http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/22/why-global-warming-skeptics-are-wrong/

        But there are many other references too. Let me know if you have trouble locating them. If your Googling skills aren’t too good I’ll see if I can help out.

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterrain

        Before I plunge into Nordhaus’s work, can you just show me where I can read about the ‘consensus’ that he is right?. Thanks

      • Latimer,

        I very much doubt you have any intention of “plunging” into Nordhaus’s work regardless of whatever you, or I, may take the consensus position to be on the economics of climate mitigation and adaptation. Note that I’ve used ‘and’ rather than ‘or’ in the last sentence, its not a matter of choosing one or the other, both are going to be required.

        I’d just ask if you’ve ever “plunged” into anything very much, or very deeply, ever?

      • I have now read William Nordhaus’s book/analysis and found it to quite interesting and deeply flawed in its conclusions due to the methodology used to form those conclusions.
        To Nordhaus’s credit he openly acknowledges many of the sources of the flaws. He states: “On the side of climate damages, our knowledge is very meager.” Yet he none the less uses estimates of damages to regions that were formed based upon the output of GCM’s that have subsequently been demonstrated to not be able to accurately forecast changes in rainfall at a regional level. This is just one of the fundamental flaws in Nordhaus’s analysis.

        The purpose of the book is to examine the economics of climate change in the framework of the DICE model, which is an acronym for Dynamic Integrated model of Climate and the Economy. The DICE model takes certain variables as given or assumed. These include, for each major region of the world, population, stocks of fossil fuels, and the pace of technological change. Most of the important variables are endogenous, or generated by the model. The endogenous variables include world output and capital stock, CO2 emissions and concentrations, global temperature change, and climatic damages.

        Another fundamental flaw in the analysis is using the DICE approach at a global level. The DICE approach fails to recognize that the goal of independent nations is not to promote a global economy, but is to promote the interests of their individual national economy. Nordhaus again acknowledges this as a flaw and is working on a more regional approach.

        Nordhaus’s analysis assumes that nations will uniformly not make improvements to infrastructure that would greatly lessen damage from bad weather. He states:
        “However, those human and natural systems that are “unmanaged,” such as rain-fed agriculture, seasonal snow packs and river runoffs, and most natural ecosystems, may be significantly affected. Although economic studies in this area are subject to large uncertainties, the best guess in this book is that the economic damages from climate change with no interventions will be on the order of 2.5 percent of world output per year by the end of the twenty-first century.” There is no factual basis to support the 2.5% estimate.

        He states: “The damages are likely to be most heavily concentrated in low-income and tropical regions such as tropical Africa and India. Although some countries may benefit from climate change, there is likely to be significant disruption in any area that is closely tied to climate-sensitive physical systems, whether through rivers, ports, hurricanes, monsoons, permafrost, pests, diseases, frosts, or droughts.”

        In that statement it is clear to see the combination of flawed assumptions of believing that:
        1. GCM’s are capable of determining future conditions and thereby damages at a local level,
        2. That all nations will react the same relative to building proper infrastructure, and
        3. That somehow the entire world population cares equally about what happens in individual countries.

        Nordhaus writes “The DICE model is a global model that aggregates different countries into a single level of output, capital stock, technology, and emissions.” Unfortunately, the world economy does not operate in that manner. He further writes “The damage function used in the
        DICE model assumes a linear relationship between temperature rise and damages”. There is no data to support that assumption or the majority of damage projections in the book.

    • David L. Hagen

      Recent precipitation and drought predictions have been associated with the 21 year Solar Hale cycle:
      WJR Alexander et al. Linkages between solar activity, climate predictability and water resource development

      Note that historical records have shown accurate predictions of extensive drought by Joseph, Elijah, and Elisha.

      The US policy of mandating the ethanol use has increased grain prices 30% BEFORE this year’s drought – All for NO greenhouse benefit. See:
      The Effect of the US Ethanol Mandate on Corn Prices, Carter et al. 2012

      On top of that, by corn futures, traders expect corn prices to rise 220% from $3.60/bu in 2010 to $8.00/bu by end 2012. As a direct consequence of Obama refusing to hear appeals for the poor, there will be major increases in poverty, hunger and starvation in 2012/2013. Such is the desperation to buy votes rather than pure religion of caring for the widow, orphan, and alien.
      See:
      Global Food Crisis: Policy Lapses or Market Failure?

      As per “Price Volatility in Food and Agricultural Markets: Policy Responses” (2 June 2011) estimates, numbers of hungry people in the world rose from 820 million in 2007 to more than a billion in 2009. . . .When the poor are dying of hunger, capable governments or social system should intervene and try to prevent starvation, at least on humanitarian grounds — and above all, should not promote policies that deny food to hungry people. . . .
      American cars (in 2011) burn enough corn to cover all the import needs of the 82 nations classed by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as “low-income food-deficit countries”. There could scarcely be a better way to starve the poor.

  5. Hank Zentgraf

    Thanks, Judith. Good article.

  6. “In earlier times, future apocalypses were articulated by religious ‘seers.’ In the 20th century, science and models are driving apocalyptic predictions.”

    Religion is inferior to science. Religion is irrational, science is rational. So the comparison only goes to suggest current fears have more substance and basis in reality.

    Indeed the notion of “sin” is irrational superstition. No quantity called “sin” can be measured, it’s entirely a figment of imagination.

    On the otherhand there’s this gas called CO2 in the atmosphere that science, not religion, discovered makes up the air and science has also discovered CO2 is a strong greenhouse gas. This isn’t subjective religious tosh invented by irrational minds, it’s objective reality about our world.

    The significant warming impact on the planet plus ocean acidification that both occur with a large jump in CO2 levels are serious threats based on empirical data and research.

    • Religions in general may be irrational, but they served a purpose. The survival of any particular religion depended on how rational it was with respect to others.

      Christianity was an adaption. We can’t beat them, don’t care to join them, so just chill, this too will pass. The meek will inherit the Earth and they pretty much did. Same with Hinduism and Buddhism.

      Science is pretty much like Taoism. Fewer regulations, ironically, but a search for the WAY. But the path is not easy to follow, it twists and turns in a Non-linear manner :) The linearists wander off the path frequently thinking they have found a better WAY, only to find their path diverges from the reality that is TAO.

      “The TAO than can be told is not the eternal TAO.”

      I think that means nonergodic :)

    • He is pretty clearly focusing on more modern predictions that did not come true by people like Ehrlich. His colleague Stephen Schneider also thought exaggerating to save humanity was one of the roles of scientists.

    • lolwot

      You are falling into the logic trap of defending this “doomsday” story while renouncing others.

      They were ALL based on the “science” of their time – just as this one is.

      Oracles, prophets, climate models – take your pick.

      None of them can predict the future of our planet.

      Max

    • lolwot | August 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

      Lolwot, you are carrying the Nostradamus genes. The only way to eradicate the conmen’s genes; should be by castration, snip- snip. The end is nigh…

    • David L. Hagen

      Historical reality differs from your perceptions:
      Peter wrote based on

      “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched”

      Luke documented:

      Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

    • lolwot | August 27, 2012 at 10:01 am |

      lolwot, CO2 is NOT a greenhouse gas, there is no GLOBAL warming, its all lies; the sea is getting too alkaline, NOT acidic: You are not just wrong on everything, but back to front as well. Meteorology is a science, climatology is religion, not science. Don’t fanatically avoid the reality. http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/seawater-is-getting-too-alkaline/

      • Stefanthedenier,

        People often get quite huffy when I call them ‘deniers’. No, they say, there is no such thing, we are ‘rational sceptics’. We started off with an open mind, initially we even tended to accept the IPCC’s reports, but in the last few yeras we’ve carefully looked at all the evidence, we’ve studied hundreds of scientific papers, and on balance, etc etc etc

        They even go to say we are just trying to use the term because of its unfavourable associations with holocaust deniers. But, as I’ve pointed out to them, the word pre-dates WW2 by hundreds of years.

        So, thank you, Mr “Stefanthedenier”. Both your choice of name and choice of phrases , like “CO2 is NOT a greenhouse gas, there is no GLOBAL warming, its all lies” nicely shows they all wrong !

        PS Even though I’m happy for you to continue, you might just want to tone it down a touch. We wouldn’t want people to think you were a sock-puppet and we were engaging in black propaganda, would we?

  7. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Matt Ridley’s deeply-yet-cheerfully ignorant article shows plainly how denialist cognition sustains itself by cherry-picking data to reinforce preconceptions — the article is thus a classic example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action!

    Mr. Ridley would have done well to read and analyze (in depth) works like the 1955 Fortune Magazine symposium that invited leading statesman and scientists of the 1950s to foresee The Fabulous Future: America in 1980

    Quick Summary  The future *did* arrive very much as 1950s thinkers foresaw — both the beneficial and the apocalyptic aspects of it — these statesman and scientists were *SMART*!   :grin:   :grin:   :grin:

    However, the pace-of-change was only about half as fast as these 1950s thinkers foresaw … only now are problems like climate change (which they foresaw clearly) becoming acute.

    Conclusion  Mr. Ridley’s cherry-picked ignorance of science and of history renders his conclusions suspect. That he is unaware of his ignorance is pathognomonic of denialism and the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

    • Most of the von Neumann chapter sin’t readable, but right before it got cut off, he said:

      In looking for a solution, it’s good to exclude one pseudo-solution from the start. The crisis will not be resolved by inhibiting this or that apparently particularly obnoxious form of technology.

      JvN would not have supported bans. Frankly, I think the von Neumann computer is an obnoxious technology, responsible for the easy spread of malware, but do we want to ban it? The alternative is the Harvard computer, which I work with routinely. I say ban the von Neumann abomination!

    • Maybe fan can give us a list of the apocalypses that came to pass as predicted?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        GaryM asks  “Maybe fan can give us a list of the apocalypses that came to pass as predicted?”

        GaryM, the Good-Reuveny analysis On the Collapse of Historical Civilizations provides the list that you seek.

        In deeper history, the human genome shows us that upon one-or-more occasions, the human species has *already* passed through one or more “genetic bottlenecks” in which — through some still-unknown apocalypse(s) — the number of living humans was reduced to a very low number (thousands or even hundreds). Yikes!   :eek:   :oops:   :eek:

        So yes, civilization-collapsing apocalypses *can* happen and *have* happened.   :eek:   :oops:   :eek:

        It is a pleasure to answer your excellent questions, GaryM!   :)   :)   :)

      • fan,

        I asked you to list the apocalypses you claim have come to pass, based on the link you provided, and your response is to post a different link, apparently regarding different apocalypses, and still no list?

        If you don’t want to answer a question, why not just say so? You’ll save yourself a lot of typing.

      • Gary

        Imo it is better to ignore the cartoon posting individual.

      • Rob,

        Oh, I agree. But it is lunchtime and I was bored. I’ll try not to make the same mistake again.

      • I’d still like to hear Fan opine on the von Neuman computer, though. :)

  8. The four horses of apocalypse are dead
    If you read the Next convergence, you know that most of the world is catching up our developement level. It will solve the demographic problems.

    Abour resources :
    The energetic problem is solved by LENR. See National instruments NIWeek vision http://www.lenrforum.eu/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=366 , and Defkalion data ( http://www.defkalion-energy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1290 )… It can take 2-5 years, but it is solved ( http://www.lenrforum.eu/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=27 ). For metal, it is ridiculous to fear non consumed metals, because recycling can work, especially if we have easy energy and high living standard.
    For land, it is more serious, but LENR can help desalinize water, and thus transform in fertile, some lost land. By the way using modern farming technology can multiply by more than 10 the return of land in poor countries…
    If land is missing, energy could be used to make hydroponic 3D farming… but not sure we will have to go there.

    Chemical problem, is a myth in rich countries… a psychiatric problem. the real one was solved in the 70s, with good fight against really toxic components. When catching-up our lifestyle, emerging countries will implement anti-pollution standards.
    LENR will by the way reduce much of city pollution, and as you can see there are solution to avoid chemicals for many subject. see http://adamantec.com/ technology for example to clean water (and by the way create detergent)…

    about diseases it is ridiculous, since the main cause of transmissible disease spread is lack of hygiene in poor countries, and poverty in rich countries. just increase home hygiene, and implement a health system everywhere and disease won’t spread.

    as usual a black swan clean the sky or our dark mood.

    even the CO2 problem, if existing, or it’s fear, is solved…
    we won’t have to starve to reduce CO2…
    knowing if it will cool the planet, is another question… but we will be able to afford air conditioning and space heating. and we will be able to run faster than 30cm per century to avoid floods.
    If really the problem is big, geoengineering will be more affordable.

  9. Apocalypse Now? When? What?

    Matt Ridley and Nassim Taleb demonstrate how poorly we predict.
    Frederich Hayek and Karl Popper argue the weakness of government top down planning, thinkiing inside the box and restricting real world feedback.
    Elinor Ostrom makes the case for bottom up practical responses to specific problems like soil fertility and crop improvement.

    Piecemeal target and action would seem to be better a better way to go than long term, five year, ten year, ‘fifty’ year plans. In the long term we …..

  10. “We will combat our ecological threats in the future by innovating to meet them as they arise, not through the mass fear stoked by worst-case scenarios.”

    This interesting statement of faith is worth exploring.

    Take the topical hypothetical ecological threat scenario that a loss of arctic sea ice in summer months was to result in changes in NH weather that led to destructive storms hitting high latitude countries. How does man combat that by innovating?

    A machine that can recreate arctic sea ice is beyond man’s current technology. So too is a machine that can push storms away from coasts. So what sort of innovation are we talking about? New types of nails and hammers to board up windows?

    Weather and climate problems are precisely the kind of big scale problems man would have real trouble innovating a way out of at the last minute.

    Look how long it took BP to fix a leaky pipe in the gulf and how it was entirely possible that would fail. There were even proposals to use a nuclear weapon to seal the leak! That’s not man in control, that’s man almost out of his depth and relying on a large dose of luck.

    Now imagine the deepwater horizon leak was natural and man had no already-built specialist equipment rigs and other equipment to fix it.

    Relying on the innovation of man pretty much seems to me to be a “grin and bear it”. 1000 extra death a year? Just another statistic we can live with.

    • lolwot

      Take the topical hypothetical ecological threat scenario that…

      …and stick it in your hat.

      [It's a pipe dream, lolwot.]

      Max

    • Latimer Alder

      @lolwot

      And your alternative to adapting to these hypothetical threats if and when they arise is what exactly?

      You deride Ridley’s remarks, but how would you deal with the situation? Concrete proposals, not wishy-washy touchy-feely feelgood generalisations please.

    • andrew adams

      lolwot,

      Good points, but then we don’t even have to look at hypothetical extreme events in the future. We have extreme weather events at the moment, and as the skeptics are so fond of pointing out we have been having them for hundreds of years. Yet floods like those in Australia and elsewhere last year still have devastating effects on people’s lives, heatwaves still cause loss of life and crop failures, here in the UK our biggest airport closes down when it snows. So we are not even well adapted to the extreme weather we have at the moment, let alone more extreme weather we might see in the future.

  11. Judith :-( I’m being moderated for an overview of some academic opinions on the subject? Nothing controversial in terms of the debate and no bad language or abuse. Perhaps it’s jest a glitch.

  12. Thx Judith )

  13. Judith,

    Judith,
    As usual you are taking valid observation and slanting it in a way to give the appearance of being objective while promoting whatever it is your agenda is.
    It is of course crucial to look at the failed predictions of disaster of the 70’s, which appeared to many to be imminent. As is pointed out, in the excerpt above parts of those predictions came to pass on some level, and parts were avoided by action and parts were based on flawed analysis.
    Comparing those predictions to the predictions of potential catastrophe due to ACC has some correlations but also some very important differences. You appear to have no interest in noting those differences.
    It is this type of behavior that cause me to distrust your motives because the tone of your posts sound so reasonable, and you do really understand much of the science involved.
    I consider myself skeptic in that I do not just accept that there will be catastrophic climate change in the next 50-100 years that will allow no recourse and lead to massive death and destruction of both humanity and the biosphere in general. I also believe quite strongly that both technological and social responses will provide mitigating effects for whatever changes do occur. So we seem to agree on those issues.

    Yet I do believe the basic view of most climate scientists that we are likely headed for at least a 2° global avg temp increase during that period and that there will be serious consequences that we cannot fully gauge. I also understand enough of the science to consider the possibility that there could be a 4° increase during that time, which could cause real devastation. You appear to never consider that as a possibility, at least I have never read any posts from you that address this as a possibility.
    The much faster warming and melting in the arctic certainly is a possible indication of that. And the fact that the US has done little to take policy wide action of limiting CO2 which has allowed the new heavy CO2 polluters of Asia to politically defer much action pretty much seals the fate of a doubling of CO2 in the projected time.
    by comparing ’70’s disaster predictions which were based on totally different criteria of economics, distribution and under estimating responses, you are proposing an apples to marichino cherries comparison. I agree that there are some who are making the same mistake by being uncritical and accepting at face value impeding doom because of an emotional l attachment to doom or attachment to environmental ideology. I and almost none of the scientists I know or whose work I read fall into that category.
    One could just as easily make a comparison between the calls of doom and destruction from those in the 30’s who warned of the danger of Germany, and how people dismissed it as another petty tyrant who might cause trouble. After all how could one defeated country of 60 million people possibly threaten almost the entire world. After all in 1936 they had not invaded any country and only killed a bunch of communists, leftists and put restrictions on those pesky jews.
    Why is that analogy not as valid as the one you are proposing?

    • 2C warming is a distinct possibility, even 4C. What has not been convincing is that such a warming in any way would be apocalyptic in the 21st century.

      • Marlowe Johnson

        wow.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Respectfully Judith, A 4C warming would bring us to a climate similar to the Miocene– something akin to 18 to 20 MYA. It would be quite questionable whether or not our current agricultural industry, based on the rather docile (though still having its extremes) Holocene climate. Most notably, the primary feed grains like corn and wheat might not take too well to such a climate. True enough, genetic hybrids can created, but whether this would be sufficient is quite questionable. This of course, doesn’t even take into account the effects of a 4C rise on the ocean food chain (which is already under great stress) and which supplies no small portion of the daily protein for millions. At the very lest, it is reasonable to suggest that a 4C rise in temperatures would certainly create huge challenges to feed the 9 to 12 Billion humans that might be living at that time.

      • Depends how gradually it happened R. Gates. 4 degrees C in 100 years could be a challenge but it would be 1C per generation of humans and many generations of various crops. Evolution and human ingenuity would both be at work to limit the damage. It also depends if it caused more rain.
        If you had higher temp.’s along with more rain and more CO2 we might be in danger of being over-run with plants. There are a lot of factors at play.
        They should all be discussed. Both possible positive and possible negative consequences should be considered.

      • Bill

        You point to a secondary threat caused by 2C (or even the more unlikely 4C) warming over the next 90 years or so (combined with the slightly higher atmospheric CO2 levels): more plants

        More plants = more crops = more food for humans to consume = more humans.

        Would this bring the “positive feedback” of a resurgence of rapid population growth rather than the expected slowdown projected for the rest of his century under conditions of no significant climate change?

        Food for thought, as they say…

        Max

      • “Evolution and human ingenuity would both be at work to limit the damage.”

        Human ingenuity is trying to limit the damage right now. What an irony, when the power of human ingenuity is cited as a reason not to use our knowledge and own science to address this problem today.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        I don’t disagree with the notion that the rate of change needs to be considered (but judging from rapid nature of NH sea ice declines it’s pretty rapid right now), and we also need to consider some potential positive effects of much warmer world.

      • Economic analysis incorporate positive effects, but find they are orders of magnitude smaller than the negative effects.

        The problem with trying to benefit from global warming, by and large, is that both the natural world and human civilization are complex systems, and over the last 8,000 years of climatic stability have adapted themselves to the climate as it is. That makes swift, dramatic change much more likely to be a net negative than a net positive, as indeed we already see in the world today.

        A +4C world is hard to imagine. In fact, the extremely destructive effects of that kind of warming are such that “not the apocalyse” is probably the most positive “spin” one could give it.

      • David Springer

        Wheat and corn are grown in Mexico, Canada, and every latitude in between. Global warming is largely concentrated in higher latitudes which is just what the doctor ordered to expand the range of critical food crops.

      • David Springer

        Where and when warming takes place is as important as how much.

        If we’re talking about higher nightly lows and milder winters in higher latitudes most people would welcome it. And that’s exactly what we ARE talking about because that’s where and when it actually does occur. This is well known. The deniers are the CAGW whackjobs who won’t acknowledge things like this.

      • curryja

        0C warming (or even 2C cooling) is also a distinct possibility.

        Moreover, it is convincing (based on the past) that 2C cooling has a much higher chance of being apocalyptic for humanity than 0-4C warming.

        Right?

        Max

      • Right!

      • Max and Peter Lang,

        Is it also “distinct possibility” that both of you will, one day, see sense on the climate issue? I’d like to think so, but I wouldn’t let that influence my judgement on what is likely.

      • David Springer

        They already did. Nothing like calling it after the fact.

      • k scott denison

        They keep teeing it up and Dave keeps hitting it outta the park.

      • temp,

        don’t want to address the point of which might be worse – 2 degrees warming or cooling?

        Since it is speculative, I can see why it might be a waste of time. Instead, could you some of your time to point out some of the negative impacts we are seeing from the Acrtic lice melt? Not theoritical, but real damage or harmful effects. Something one can measuure, not a projection.

      • An interesting contrast might be this post by Prof. Tom Murphy. After highlighting the misguided predictions of the cornucopians (e.g., Buckminster Fuller), he says:
        I’m just pointing out to those who discount the credibility of rocky-future warnings based on repeated “failures” of such warnings to materialize, that there is perhaps a greater preponderance of hallucinatory hubris that also fails to materialize. We should approach projections of the future with humility. We should realize that there really is something special about these past few centuries (the one-time fossil fuel joy-ride), and admit that we don’t have a consensus model for what happens next. Only then can we be smart in our preparation for the unknown.

        After specifically discussing the World3 model of 1972 which discussed the “Limits to growth”, he concludes:
        ..I can concoct loads of worst-case scenarios that are freakishly unlikely to transpire, but the unglamorous tale of pushing growth against finite resources and failing to let go of fossil fuels before they drag us down actually has some teeth. It’s what the impassionate World3 model portended. Wisdom suggests not dismissing the result.

      • RB,

        failing to let go of fossil fuels

        If you can convince the ‘Progressives’ of that one, then progress is possible. But, as long as the ‘Progressives insist on their irrational policies, such as carbon pricing and renewable energy and opposing nuclear power, no real progress will be made.

      • Peter,
        Tom Murphy suggests that we should let go of fossil fuels “before they drag us down.” I think you might have understood the statement differently.

      • RB,

        If you want to let go of fossil fuels you need an economically competitive alternative to fossil fuels. But the only alternative that can supply the world’s ever growing demand for energy is nuclear power. That is blocked by the ‘Progressives’ and has been for 50 years. The ‘Progressives’ need to see the light, let go of their irrational hatred of nuclear and become enthusiastic advocates for it.

      • Peter,
        Existing fission-based nuclear power is not a panacea and there is not enough U-235 to satisfy our energy needs solely. Breeder reactors are a way out but lead to concerns about creation about bomb-grade material. I would say that opposition to nuclear power has bipartisan NIMBYism. Due to the various cost overruns and expense associated with nuclear power, it has relied on government subsidies to be competitive.
        Future thorium-based reactors are promising, but it is difficult to say how much of hopey-changeyness is embedded into it. Nobody has come up with an acceptable solution to waste disposal in the United States that is palatable to even the conservative population. Besides, the government bears the cost responsibility for waste storage. Suffice it to say that all of these make nuclear power the most challenging of all alternatives. While I support an increased usage of nuclear power, I think it is very far from the utopia that advocates make it out to be. I will be glad to be proven wrong on this count.

      • RB,

        I think you’ve summed up the situation regarding nuclear power pretty well. There are problems to be overcome, not the least of which is presenting a convincing case in the aftermath of Fukushima.

        That has to include necessity of moving away from fossil fuels quickly. The case for nuclear doesn’t hold if you start off along the lines of we-think-CO2-is-a-harmless-gas-but….

      • Peter,
        Thanks for your detailed response. I’m taking a look at the links you’ve provided.

      • temp,

        Your understanding on the issues related to commercial nuclear power barely exceed that of my 4 yr old niece.

        There is not a n issue of log term storage. At least not technically. There are no post-Fukashima safety concerns. The “natural” disaster that knocked out Fukashima caused far greater damage and loss of life than what subsequently occured at the nuclear facility. In fact I am not aware of a single fatality associated with the plant.

        RB’s statement that there is not enough U-235 to fuel plants is bogus, if for no other reason than the fact we can get close to 90% recovery rates on recycling used fuel pellets. Commercial nuclear power has been operating safely and reliably in this country for a half century. There are very few industries that can claim a record as good as commercial nuclear power on those two points.

      • David Springer

        timg56 | August 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

        temp,

        Your understanding on the issues related to commercial nuclear power barely exceed that of my 4 yr old niece.
        ————————————————————————-

        Your neice has been in a coma since birth then I take it?

      • “Progressive” is a nice bit of Double Speak.

      • timg56,

        I think you must be confusing me with someone else. I’ve never commented on storage aspects regarding nuclear power. They are all technical solvable I would agree.

        I’m not sure what planet you are living on if you think “There are no post-Fukashima safety concerns”. The nearby residents of the plant who have lost their homes may well have a slightly less positive view than yourself. The Japanese generally look to be moving away from nuclear power rapidly. Then there’s the Germans too. They are doing the same. Don’t you read the papers? Maybe you should ask your 4 year old niece to help keep you better informed:-)

        All this is bad news for the environment and CO2 emissions. If we are to move towards a hi-tech low carbon future then there’s no alternative to nuclear power, at least as far as I can see. But its not helping the case to brush aside ” post-Fukashima safety concerns” and pretend that they don’t exist.

      • RB,

        Thank you for your response.

        Existing fission-based nuclear power is not a panacea and there is not enough U-235 to satisfy our energy needs solely.

        Misleading statement. Existing nuclear technologies are still based on 1960’s concepts with limited improvements (e.g. almost all are water moderated thermal reactors). Progress has been constrained by numerous obstacles, largely as a result of irrational radiation phobia. If we remove the obstacles we can move forward. I suggest it’s up to people like you to assist not resist progress.

        The quantity of nuclear fuel in the Earth’s continental crust, at concentrations that will be mineable, is effectively unlimited. Fuel is not a constraint.

        Breeder reactors are a way out but lead to concerns about creation about bomb-grade material.

        No. That one is a furphy put out by the anti-nukes. If you want to know more, I’d suggest this web site: http://bravenewclimate.com/integral-fast-reactor-ifr-nuclear-power/. You can also ask questions and you will get responses from well informed people on the matters you have raised in your comment. If Greenpeace and the other anti-nuke advocacy groups make a comment about nuclear power, you’d be well advised to start off your objective research by assuming their statement is wrong, misleading or irrelevant.

        I would say that opposition to nuclear power has bipartisan NIMBYism.

        The opposition is much higher amongst ‘Progressives’ than conservatives. However, it is the ‘Progressives’ that have done the scaremongering over the past 50 years or so to get us to this position of irrational fear, hatred and phobia about nuclear power. Do you remember the Greenpeace poster : “Love Wind, Hate Nuclear”? That encapsulates what’s been going on for the past 50 years to get us to where we are now. Do you want to keep that going or assist to reverse it and unwind the damage it has done?

        Due to the various cost overruns and expense associated with nuclear power

        The delays and cost overruns are largely a result of the trenchant opposition to nuclear.

        That is what we need to get beyond if we want a rational way to reduce CO2 emissions. Therefore, people like you who are anti nuclear (as your comments suggest) need to learn the facts about it and then help to change public opinion, not continue to repeat the anti-nuclear propoganda.

        it has relied on government subsidies to be competitive.

        All electricity generation technologies have been subsidised. But nowhere near as much as we are pouring into renewable energy for no return. According to the latest UNEP report, investment in renewable energy had reached $257 billion in 2011. That is mostly subsidy. Non-hydro renewable produces about 3% of global electricity. It is a massive waste of money, which it’s being done to satisfy the ideological beliefs of the ‘Progressives’. I’d urge more objectivity is needed by those who are keen to see a reduction in CO2 emissions.

        Future thorium-based reactors are promising, but it is difficult to say how much of hopey-changeyness is embedded into it.

        I agree. It is one of many alternatives that have not been able to progress. As to whether and when it will become economically viable, only time will tell.

        Nobody has come up with an acceptable solution to waste disposal in the United States that is palatable to even the conservative population.

        Once again this is due to 50 years of anti-nuclear scaremongering, which was and still is led by the ‘Progressives’ (the same people who lead the CAGW scaremongering).

        What you call nuclear waste, I call ‘once-used-nuclear-fuel’ that still has 99% of its recoverable energy. No one in their right mind would dispose of it. Furthermore, the quantities are miniscule compared with the quantities of other toxic wastes we make and release all the time. The ‘once-used-nuclear-fuel’ is not released to the environment like the chemical toxic wastes from other industries. Again, I’d urge more objectivity and rational analysis is needed by those who are keen to see a reduction in CO2 emissions.

        Besides, the government bears the cost responsibility for waste storage.

        Not true. The cost of waste disposal is charged as a levy on the cost of nuclear generated electricity. It turns out, the US nuclear industry has been overcharged and is asking the US government for some of its money back.

        Suffice it to say that all of these make nuclear power the most challenging of all alternatives.

        No. Not the most challenging. The most challenging is carbon pricing. It cannot succeed. I agree nuclear is challenging too. But it is the rational solution. The problem is mostly due to a public perception issue. Theret is mass paranoia as a result of radiation phobia created by 50 years of completely irrational fear-mongering by the anti-nukes (mostly ‘Progressives’).

        While I support an increased usage of nuclear power,

        Hmmm. Is that careful wording? You say you support “usage of nuclear power”. But do you support rapid development of nuclear power? Do you support removal of the impediments that are preventing us having low cost nuclear power and preventing nuclear power from going through the development cycle that all other energy technologies are allowed to go through? Do you realise that by blocking the development of nuclear power you are blocking low emissions energy, and you are blocking the benefits such as greatly reduced fatalities per TWh of electricity delivered? http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html
        On the basis of these figures, if nuclear relaced coal for electricity generation it would avoid more than 1 million fatalities per year by 2050. Who are the people who oppose that, and why do they oppose it?

        I think it is very far from the utopia that advocates make it out to be.

        That’s a strawman comment. No one is making it out to be utopia. Just a far cheaper alternative than CO2 pricing, the least cost way by far to make major reductions to CO2 emissions, and has many other advantages as well; e.g., energy security, reliable energy supply, much lower fuel transport costs than for fossil fuels, and major reductions in fatalities compared with all other technologies. What more could you ask for?

        You say there are massive problems with changing the resistance to nuclear power. I agree. But the issues with trying to implement a global agreement on a carbon pricing system that will work are huge and it will be virtually impossible to achieve. If we want the underdeveloped countries to avoid developing fossil fuel based energy supply systems, we need to offer them a const competitive alternative.

        I hope you might look at these few comment near the end of a recent thread:

        [5] Why CO2 pricing won’t work: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-231855

        [6] Alternative to Carbon Pricing – Costs and benefits of ‘Cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels’ policy compared with ‘Optimal carbon price’ policy: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-231857

        [7] How to achieve cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-231861

        [8] Why we need to focus on small modular factory built and refuelled nuclear power plants: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-231865

        [9] Nuclear power is about the safest of all electricity generation technologies – nuclear would avoid 1 million fatalities per year by 2050 compared with coal:
        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-231867

        RB,

        Thank you for your response.

        Existing fission-based nuclear power is not a panacea and there is not enough U-235 to satisfy our energy needs solely.

        Misleading statement. Existing nuclear technologies are still based on 1960’s concepts with limited improvements (e.g. almost all are water moderated thermal reactors). Progress has been constrained by numerous obstacles, largely as a result of irrational radiation phobia. If we remove the obstacles we can move forward. I suggest it’s up to people like you to assist not resist progress.

        The quantity of nuclear fuel in the Earth’s continental crust, at concentrations that will be mineable, is effectively unlimited. Fuel is not a constraint.

        Breeder reactors are a way out but lead to concerns about creation about bomb-grade material.

        No. That one is a furphy put out by the anti-nukes. If you want to know more, I’d suggest this web site: http://bravenewclimate.com/integral-fast-reactor-ifr-nuclear-power/. You can also ask questions and you will get responses from well informed people on the matters you have raised in your comment. If Greenpeace and the other anti-nuke advocacy groups make a comment about nuclear power, you’d be well advised to start off your objective research by assuming their statement is wrong, misleading or irrelevant.

        I would say that opposition to nuclear power has bipartisan NIMBYism.

        The opposition is much higher amongst ‘Progressives’ than conservatives. However, it is the ‘Progressives’ that have done the scaremongering over the past 50 years or so to get us to this position of irrational fear, hatred and phobia about nuclear power. Do you remember the Greenpeace poster : “Love Wind, Hate Nuclear”? That encapsulates what’s been going on for the past 50 years to get us to where we are now. Do you want to keep that going or assist to reverse it and unwind the damage it has done?

        Due to the various cost overruns and expense associated with nuclear power

        The delays and cost overruns are largely a result of the trenchant opposition to nuclear.

        That is what we need to get beyond if we want a rational way to reduce CO2 emissions. Therefore, people like you who are anti nuclear (as your comments suggest) need to learn the facts about it and then help to change public opinion, not continue to repeat the anti-nuclear propoganda.

        it has relied on government subsidies to be competitive.

        All electricity generation technologies have been subsidised. But nowhere near as much as we are pouring into renewable energy for no return. According to the latest UNEP report, investment in renewable energy had reached $257 billion in 2011. That is mostly subsidy. Non-hydro renewable produces about 3% of global electricity. It is a massive waste of money, which it’s being done to satisfy the ideological beliefs of the ‘Progressives’. I’d urge more objectivity is needed by those who are keen to see a reduction in CO2 emissions.

        Future thorium-based reactors are promising, but it is difficult to say how much of hopey-changeyness is embedded into it.

        I agree. It is one of many alternatives that have not been able to progress. As to whether and when it will become economically viable, only time will tell.

        Nobody has come up with an acceptable solution to waste disposal in the United States that is palatable to even the conservative population.

        Once again this is due to 50 years of anti-nuclear scaremongering, which was and still is led by the ‘Progressives’ (the same people who lead the CAGW scaremongering).

        What you call nuclear waste, I call ‘once-used-nuclear-fuel’ that still has 99% of its recoverable energy. No one in their right mind would dispose of it. Furthermore, the quantities are miniscule compared with the quantities of other toxic wastes we make and release all the time. The ‘once-used-nuclear-fuel’ is not released to the environment like the chemical toxic wastes from other industries. Again, I’d urge more objectivity and rational analysis is needed by those who are keen to see a reduction in CO2 emissions.

        Besides, the government bears the cost responsibility for waste storage.

        Not true. The cost of waste disposal is charged as a levy on the cost of nuclear generated electricity. It turns out, the US nuclear industry has been overcharged and is asking the US government for some of its money back.

        Suffice it to say that all of these make nuclear power the most challenging of all alternatives.

        No. Not the most challenging. The most challenging is carbon pricing. It cannot succeed. I agree nuclear is challenging too. But it is the rational solution. The problem is mostly due to a public perception issue. Theret is mass paranoia as a result of radiation phobia created by 50 years of completely irrational fear-mongering by the anti-nukes (mostly ‘Progressives’).

        While I support an increased usage of nuclear power,

        Hmmm. Is that careful wording? You say you support “usage of nuclear power”. But do you support rapid development of nuclear power? Do you support removal of the impediments that are preventing us having low cost nuclear power and preventing nuclear power from going through the development cycle that all other energy technologies are allowed to go through? Do you realise that by blocking the development of nuclear power you are blocking low emissions energy, and you are blocking the benefits such as greatly reduced fatalities per TWh of electricity delivered? http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html
        On the basis of these figures, if nuclear relaced coal for electricity generation it would avoid more than 1 million fatalities per year by 2050. Who are the people who oppose that, and why do they oppose it?

        I think it is very far from the utopia that advocates make it out to be.

        That’s a strawman comment. No one is making it out to be utopia. Just a far cheaper alternative than CO2 pricing, the least cost way by far to make major reductions to CO2 emissions, and has many other advantages as well; e.g., energy security, reliable energy supply, much lower fuel transport costs than for fossil fuels, and major reductions in fatalities compared with all other technologies. What more could you ask for?

        You say there are massive problems with changing the resistance to nuclear power. I agree. But the issues with trying to implement a global agreement on a carbon pricing system that will work are huge and it will be virtually impossible to achieve. If we want the underdeveloped countries to avoid developing fossil fuel based energy supply systems, we need to offer them a const competitive alternative.

        I hope you might look at these few comment near the end of a recent thread:

        [5] Why CO2 pricing won’t work: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-231855

        [6] Alternative to Carbon Pricing – Costs and benefits of ‘Cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels’ policy compared with ‘Optimal carbon price’ policy: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-231857

        [7] How to achieve cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-231861

        [8] Why we need to focus on small modular factory built and refuelled nuclear power plants: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-231865

        [9] Nuclear power is about the safest of all electricity generation technologies – nuclear would avoid 1 million fatalities per year by 2050 compared with coal:
        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-231867

      • My reply was meant to go here – thanks for your detailed response. I’m taking a look at the links you’ve provided.

      • Peter,

        Thanks for taking the effort to point out all of the fallacies associated with the anti-nuclear crowd. When one considers that there isn’t even one of their claims that stands up, it is rather amazing that anyone is still paying attention to what they claim. I can only conclude it is willful ignorance on their part.

      • RB,

        I wrote this comment for Vaughan Pratt, but since you also mentioned ‘not enough nuclear fuels to satisfy our energy needs’, I’ll post a modified version of the comment here too.

        Currently known uranium reserves at $130/t are sufficient to provide all the energy for 7 million people at US energy consumption rates for average life expectancy, say 70 years. Reserves are increasing at the rate of about 500,000 tonnes per year http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf75.html. At this rate, reserves are increasing at seven times the rate needed. And that is at the current price. If the price of uranium increases, the reserves are much larger. The amount of uranium at present and future mineable concentrations in the Earth’s continental Crust means uranium resources are effectively unlimited. The of course there is even more thorium. As I said, nuclear fuel is effectively unlimited.

        Volume of a golf ball 40.684 mL
        density of uranium 19.1 g/mL
        Mass of golf ball 777 g
        Mass of 1 billion golf balls 777064 Mg
        Mass of 7 billion golf balls 5,439,451 Mg
        Weight of 7 billion golf balls 5,336,101 t
        Current known U reserves @ $130/t 5,327,200 t
        Reserves are increasing at 500,000 Mt/a
        In 70 years 35,000,000 t

        For more on this see: “A life time of energy in the palm of your hand
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/22/ifr-fad-4/

      • There is no actual data that clearly shows that 2 or 4 is possible.

        There is only model output and opinion.

        Actual Real Temperature Data and Sea Level Data is well inside the range of the past ten thousand years and not headed outside.

      • curryja | August 27, 2012 at 10:54 am

        If the troposphere warms up by 2C, would expand upward by 1km and equalize in a jiffy. If it warms up by 4C, would expand by 2km upwards, and intercept extra coldness / release extra heat, and equalize in a jiffy.

        FACT: oxygen & nitrogen don’t wait to be warmed by 2C or 4C, before starting to expand. They are the most sensitive in change of temp, by expanding / shrinking INSTANTLY. FACT: Where they expand upwards; is much colder than on the ground

        Much bigger possibility for the moon to crush into the earth, than to get warmer than normal, on the WHOLE planet. Both heavenly bodies have gravitational power… nothing in-between. Insurance companies are already cashing on the phony GLOBAL warmings; if they ad the risk of the moon slamming into the earth… big, big premiums.

        I predict that will hit on New York 50% possibility, London 30%. Any volunteers, prepared to prevent that? For half the money than they are preventing the phony global warming. Or, at least to delay it, when is less than half moon = less damages… WOULDN’T YOU LIKE TO OWN AN INSURANCE COMPANY?

      • I agree. That is the issue that is important for policy. If there is no persuasive evidence that the costs of warming greatly exceed the benefits, then it would be irrational to proceed with high cost and highly damaging (to human welfare) policies.

      • The cost is obviously negative with warming sustaining more total life and more diversity of life. This whole mess is bass ackwards and the guilt entirely misplaced.

        But we have only ourselves to blame for that.
        ===============

      • Judith,

        there has been a lot of research in the last few years from a number of different sources of the potential positive and negative effects of 2-4° of warming. it certainly has a lot of uncertainty related to it, but I suggest the work being done at Yale, Stanford and some other industry/academic work in this area. very provocative at the very least. Are you familiar with it and have specific reasons for dismissing all of it, or are you not interested in considering what is being actually studied?
        if the arctic melting is an early signal of less than 1° of warming in a hundred years what will another 1-2-3 degrees imply? this is exactly the type of response from you that makes me question your motives. the tone of your response indicates a rational wait and see attitude, yet it seems to ignore the other side of uncertainty.
        One does not have to be convinced that human civilization will be devastated to be deeply concerned that issues like biodiversity and social and economic consequences could become much worse than they are now due to understood and unpredictable consequences from climate change.
        nor does one need to minimize the resourcefulness of human beings and social and technological change in preventing devastation if consequences loom that are more in the alarmist side of the equation.

      • Wilbur Hub Telescope

        Long winded way of saying ‘bad things might happen’.

      • Latimer Alder

        Wilbur – I asked you not to play with the computer! None of your family understand it.

        But you’re right this time.

      • I’ve asked this question before but never received any convincing argument. What’s so special about the end of the 21st century?

        Don’t subsequent years matter at all? We’ll all be just as dead in the year 2100 as we will later. So, it makes no difference at all to any of us if serious climate degredation happens then or later. In fact, its quite rational for any of to say that we’ll probably be dead by, say, the year 2050, so it really doesn’t matter what happens after that

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterrain

        I think that the apocalyptists choose to make their projections/predictions for 2100 because its just far enough away that it’s likely that they will all be safely dead before they get to be tested against reality.

        But a 30 year old climatologist today could conceivably still be profesionally active in 2050. And they’ve no doubt seen the ordure rightly brought upon Hansen and Ehrlich and their compadres for being just a bit too testable in their prognostications.

      • David Springer

        Is 2C or 4C cooling a possibilty or is that not physically possible?

    • And the fact that the US has done little to take policy wide action of limiting CO2 which has allowed the new heavy CO2 polluters of Asia to politically defer much action pretty much seals the fate of a doubling of CO2 in the projected time.

      US CO2 emissions are falling now. Asia’s will too as they adopt the tech advancements that we have that have caused the drop. If you’re losing sleep because the market is driving it instead of public policy, I’d suggest Ambien.

      • I question whether US CO2 emissions are really falling in any meaningful way. What’s happened with US emissions in recent years – and Europe’s too – is a lot of emissions have been shipped to China.

        Globally emissions have increased sharply in recent years.

        In addition with regard to the US adoption of natural gas for electricity generation, I suspect if natural gas prices increase there will be a switch back to coal. In which case fracking just means gas+coal will be burnt instead of just coal, so more CO2 emissions in the longterm rather than less.

      • US CO2 emissions are probably falling as reported, but yes globally they have insreased sharply in recent years. Coal is comming back globally…

      • CO2 is not a pollutant so there is no such thing as a heavy CO2 polluter. That is sick pseudoscience. The most important thing about CO2 is that it makes green things grow better with less need for water.

      • Herman Alexander Pope | August 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Reply
        CO2 is not a pollutant so there is no such thing as a heavy CO2 polluter. That is sick pseudoscience. The most important thing about CO2 is that it makes green things grow better with less need for water.

        +1

      • Herman, and Stefan,
        if we added enough CO2 to make it 75% of the atmosphere, would you consider it a pollutant then? If so, as the joke goes, we are just haggling over the price.

      • Tony duncan | August 28, 2012 at 4:15 am said: ”if we added enough CO2 to make it 75% of the atmosphere, would you consider it a pollutant then?”

        That’s hypothetical, same as saying: if we replace 70% of all the rocks with gold-bars. Tony, the more CO2 is released in the atmosphere = the more is washed by the rain into the sea. Compare the amount of water in the sea V the amount of fossil fuel left. Reports of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is just as misleading as everything else. CO2 is not evenly distributed in the atmosphere, same as H2O.

        Don’t worry, the more CO2 = BETTER VEGETATION / CROPS. CO2 is the good guy. Before the industrial revolution, people were inhaling much more CO2 than today, Now electricity is produced outside the big city, where CO2 is desperately needed. Before that, to make a cup of tee, burn a whole log, now, just turn of the switch, when the water boils. Think positive lad! Go to my website and learn about the reality; you wouldn’t be saying 70% CO2, BOO!!!

      • Herman,

        Maybe you think Professor William Nordhaus is a “sick pseudoscientist”?

        He writes “..the contention that CO2 is not a pollutant is a rhetorical device and is not supported by US law or by economic theory or studies.”

        http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/22/why-global-warming-skeptics-are-wrong/

    • Tony Duncan,

      Thank you for your comment

      I also understand enough of the science to consider the possibility that there could be a 4° increase during that time, which could cause real devastation.

      I see that as a very low probability and I don’t believe it is reasonable to be advocating high cost policies (i.e. highly probability of being highly damaging to human welfare) on the basis of such a low probability scenario.

      Furthermore, we can and will transition from fossil fuels to nuclear energy this century. If the evidence for higher temperatures becomes more persuasive than it is now, we will make the transition faster. We could replace the world’s fossil fuel electricity plants over a period of a decade or two if we really wanted to. As an example of what can be done, the USA was building aircraft carriers in 100 days by the end of WWII. They got there in just three years. That gives some insight into the rate at which we can produce complex equipment if we really need to. Unfortunately, progress is being blocked by ideological beliefs. We need to work on overcoming that blockage to progress.

      I and almost none of the scientists I know or whose work I read fall into that category.

      Tell me honestly. Are you opposed to nuclear power? If so, then I put you in the same ideological group as the CAGW alarmist, renewable energy advocates and anti nuclear protesters. That is the groups who oppose rational policies to reduce emissions.

      • Peter,
        I am not opposed to nuclear energy in principle, and I certainly want to factor relevant factors like climate change into determining energy production. I do oppose much of nuclear power as it is practiced in the US currently. Certainly if safe reliable fusion energy becomes practical it could transform the entire energy equation.
        I am glad you consider 4° unlikely. I thought a record low SIE was unlikely this year. I had to revise my prediction down from 4.9 to 4.4 in AUGUST. and even then it turns out I was wildly conservative and wrong by nearly 1 million kilometers. I did not listen to the alarmists and did not give ice volume sufficient weighting.
        I am reading a fabulous book about the creation of the transcontinental railroad, a breathtaking account of human ingenuity and perseverence. I do not doubt the possibilities for mitigation being mobilized fairly quickly. I do however still blame the people who laughed off Germany as a threat in 1936 (as well as those that believed the anti communism warranted support). Yes we stopped them, but I would rather have those 40 million people back

      • Tony Duncan,

        Thank you for your reply. However, your comment about nuclear does confirm what I suspected. What you say are the standard talking points of the anti-nuclear folk. It is these sorts of talking points, repeated over an over again in most forums, that are blocking progress.

        Your facts are wrong. Firstly, nuclear is about the safest way to generate electricity. http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html

        Secondly, don’t stall for time suggesting we wait for fusion. It is many decades at best away from being a viable option and it won’t be problem free either.

        Instead what we need to remove the shackles from nuclear and allow many companies in many of the large manufacturing countries to compete to supply small, modular factory built and refuelled, nuclear power plants. That is how we will get to cheap, clean electricity fastest and best. Safety is included in the cost and addressed by competition.

        I’d urge you to think about the conflict and inconsistency of arguing that CAGW is a serious risk but at the same time opposing (even repeating the Greenpeace type objections to) nuclear power. I don’t take anyone seriously who tries to make out they are objective about CAGW but opposes nuclear power.

      • Peter,

        as I suspected you wouldn’t actually read my response but project what you expected onto what I wrote. I mentioned no “facts” about nuclear power so I couldn’t possibly have my facts wrong about it. I actually said that I want to consider relevant factors, how you translate that to greenpeace talking points or something similar boggles my mind. I mentioned nor implied anything about stalling for time to wait for fusion, I just said that it would completely change the situation.
        yes I like some of what I have seen of the small modular much safer nuclear reactors.
        and like you I do not like my time wasted, so I do not take anyone seriously who fabricates meaning from what I write, especially when they ignore the majority of my points and focus on an issue that they inserted into the topic from which they deduce their fabrication.

      • Tony,

        I did read your comment. these were the two sentences that reveal quite clearly you do not support getting on with freeing up the impediments to nuclear now:

        I do oppose much of nuclear power as it is practiced in the US currently.

        You said you oppose nuclear in USA now. Why, given it is by far the safest and cleanest way to generate electricity and is near emissions free. The only reason to oppose it is that it is too expensive. That has been caused by 50 years of anti-nuclear protests. If you want to get over this, you. and everyone, needs to objectively research the facts then get out and educate the population. If you don’t, then there is no point in whinging about people not accepting the beliefs about CAGW alarmists beliefs about climate change

        Certainly if safe reliable fusion energy becomes practical it could transform the entire energy equation.

        That is just a delaying tactic. That says don’t do anything for many decades because that is how far away it is. It’s also no point saying I’ll wait for thorium reactors or any other excuse to delay. All these are delays of decades.

        What we need to do it is to get on with unwinding nuclear phobia in the community and concurrently removing the impediments to low cost nuclear power.

      • Peter, I was very clear in my response to your fabricated explanation of what you imagined I was saying. You are repeating that same fabrication, and therefore I can only conclude you are not interested in genuine communication. Address what I actually wrote and not your interpretation and maybe we can continue this.

    • And the fact that the US has done little to take policy wide action of limiting CO2 which has allowed the new heavy CO2 polluters of Asia to politically defer much action pretty much seals the fate of a doubling of CO2 in the projected time.

      Rational policy for cutting emisisons is blocked and has been blocked for 50 years by the people who share the same ideological beliefs as the catastrophists.

    • Tony
      Germany has been at the forefront of Europe’s environment movement and pushing solar and wind energy. Then Germany ran up against grid reliability limits and economics.

      Germany just opened a new 2,200MW coal-fired power station near Cologne. Since Germany’s wind power is only 16.3% reliable, environment minister, Peter Altmaier has approved 23 new coal fired power plants, to increase grid reliability, reduce electricity imports, and reduce costs.

      However, see: Global Warming and National Suicide

      Beginning in 1856, the Xhosa tribe in today’s South Africa destroyed its own economy. They killed an estimated half-million of their own cattle (which they ordinarily treated with great care and respect), ceased planting crops, and destroyed their grain stores. By the end of 1857, between thirty and fifty thousand Xhosa had starved to death — a third to a half of the population.

      Ultimately we pray that pragmatic prudence will ground our politicial decisions and that they not be driven by lemming hysteria causing hundreds of millions to starve.

  14. Never go out to meet trouble. If you will just sit still, nine cases out of ten someone will intercept it before it reaches you.

    – C. Coolidge

  15. Just as policy can make the climate crisis worse—mandating biofuels has not only encouraged rain forest destruction, releasing carbon, but driven millions into poverty and hunger

    hmmm.

    Wonder what Ridley’s evidence is for that claim I put in bold…

    I’ve seen what looks like some solid evidence that makes a pretty strong case that biofuels has has negative impact in a number of different measures. It seems clear that the production of biofuels has contributed significantly to increases in food prices. For example the CBO estimates…

    CBO estimates that from April 2007 to April 2008,
    the rise in the price of corn resulting from expanded production
    of ethanol contributed between 0.5 and 0.8 percentage
    points of the 5.1 percent increase in food prices
    measured by the consumer price index (CPI). Over the
    same period, certain other factors—for example, higher
    energy costs—had a greater effect on food prices than did
    the use of ethanol as a motor fuel.

    OK – 10%-15% of the increase in food prices attributable to ethanol is nothing to sneeze at …but biofuels – as an isolated factor, has “driven millions into poverty and hunger?”

    Surely, “skeptics” will demand a comprehensive analysis before they accept such a claim.

    I hope he’s got some solid evidence for the scale of that conclusion…otherwise this is more scare-mongering about scare-mongering.

    Which would be ironic in the real world, and par for the course in the climate debate cafeteria food fight lunchroom.

    • Judith –

      I just posted a comment that returned a message that it is in moderation. I’ve never seen that before, and I have no idea what might have gotten snagged by the filter. Has there been some recent modification made to the screening algorithm?

      • WordPress has a bad history of making “improvements” without notifying users. Remember the big disruption over the gravitars a few months ago? I’m sure somebody “fixed” a nonexistent problem, which is why you’re having problems now. Kind of a metaphor for the whole climate policy thing.

  16. Let it be known one and all, before you predict the future try to understand past.
    Climate change is dominated by natural oscillations of sun and the Earth’s core. One provides the energy, the other the variability in the absorption and release of the energy. Understanding of the natural oscillations is key not only the climate but other natural events. Here I demonstrate just one of the Sun-Earth relationships.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/Sun-Earth.htm

    • vukcevic | August 27, 2012 at 11:19 am

      Climate is controlled by H2O, moron!!! SAME ”Natural oscillations of sun and the Earth’s core” applies to Sahara and Brazil WOULD HAVE SAME CLIMATE, IF YOU ARE CORRECT. If you think that Brazil and Sahara have same climate, you need a shrink, urgently. Maybe shrinks can minimize your compulsive lying also.

  17. The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

    This is an interesting article and certainly makes the strong case for a lukewarmer position on certain potential problems facing humans as we continue to alter the planet in multiple ways. But it should be noted that climate change has brought about the doom of previous civilizations within the Holocene, which is a geologically short period of time. After all, apocalypse doesn’t have to mean the end of the whole world, or even the end of all humans on the planet, but simply the end of a civilization, either regionally or more globally. Recent studies have indicated once more the role of climate change as part of the factors in ending rather robust civilizations:

    http://phys.org/news/2012-08-multiple-factors-climate-collapse-depopulation.html

    So, under the full measure of what human civilizations have experienced during the Holocene (or Anthropocene), you could argue quite reasonably that the lukewarmer position is that we have ample evidence from across the planet and throughout history that climate change, whether anthropogenic or not, doesn’t lead to the end of all life on earth (the extreme position) , or even all human life (a moderately extreme position), but can quite easily lead to the end of a civilization or mode of living. Given the interconnected nature of our current modern civilization, some change in climate (again, whether human caused or not) could quite easily bring down the main pieces of that global civilization, fragmenting the remainder into a very different kind of civilization.

    What would it take? A breakdown in the ocean food chain? Prolonged drought across multiple continents leading to mass hunger and unrest? Who knows? But these kinds of potentials are not so extreme that even our own military and other security organizations have given it more than passing study and interest. They certainly realize the potential for a “lukewarmer-type” apocalypse based in some measure on human-induced climate change.

    • Latimer Alder

      @TSW(aRG)

      Long winded way of saying ‘bad things might happen’.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Way of saying:

        There are levels of an apocalypse, with “bad things” happening that break down civilizations not being all that uncommon and with climate change being a factor in many of them.

      • Latimer Alder

        @TSWaRG

        Without some form of quantification your remarks are pretty meaningless. ‘Climate change being a factor’ says nothing of any value..apart from rhetorically.

    • Those civilizations that failed (e.g., Easter Island, Chaco) didn’t engage in trade in any significant way. 

      Because of trade (and specialization, see Ridley’s book, The Rational Optimist) people in those same geographic regions can now live comfortably.

      This year’s drought will not cause starvation thanks to trade. 

      These are not new ideas:

      “The pursuit of commerce reconciles nations, calms wars, strengthens peace, and commutes the private good of individuals into the common benefit of all.”

      Hugh of Saint Victor. Hugh (1096-1141)

  18. Well – I’m going to get this comment through by hook or by crook. I’ll try breaking it into parts to find what angered the blog gods.

    Part I

    Just as policy can make the climate crisis worse—mandating biofuels has not only encouraged rain forest destruction, releasing carbon, but driven millions into poverty and hunger

    hmmm.

    • Part II

      Wonder what Ridley’s evidence is for that claim I put in bold…

      I’ve seen what looks like some solid evidence that makes a pretty strong case that biofuels has has negative impact in a number of different measures. It seems clear that the production of biofuels has contributed significantly to increases in food prices. For example the CBO estimates…

      CBO estimates that from April 2007 to April 2008, the rise in the price of corn resulting from expanded production of ethanol contributed between 0.5 and 0.8 percentage points of the 5.1 percent increase in food prices measured by the consumer price index (CPI). Over the same period, certain other factors—for example, higher energy costs—had a greater effect on food prices than did the use of ethanol as a motor fuel.

      OK – @ 10%-15% of the increase in food prices attributable to ethanol is nothing to sneeze at …but biofuels – as an isolated factor, has “driven millions into poverty and hunger?”

      Surely, “skeptics” will demand a comprehensive analysis before they accept such a claim. I hope he’s got some solid evidence for the scale of that conclusion…otherwise this is more scare-mongering about scare-mongering. Which would be ironic in the real world, and par for the course in the climate debate cafeteria food fight lunchroom.

    • Part II

      I wonder what the evidence is for that claim I put in bold…

      I’ve seen what looks like some solid evidence that makes a pretty strong case that biofuels has has negative impact in a number of different measures. It seems clear that the production of biofuels has contributed significantly to increases in food prices. For example the CBO estimates…

    • According to the linked BLS report, food prices in the U.S have increased in line with inflation in general, which in recent years hasn’t been much.

      http://www.bls.gov/opub/focus/volume1_number15/cpi_1_15.htm

      • That’s an interesting point.

        Still, corn has clearly increased more quickly than food prices in general – and there is merit in looking at the full impact of that increase.

        Unfortunately, scare-mongering about scare-mongering won’t get the job done. Substantive analysis requires a bit of work – more than some folks seem interested in doing.

      • Yeah, the last thing we want is people scare mongering around here.

      • Actually, I think that the last thing that we want is selective scare-mongering that is cynically used to advance political agendas.

  19. Part III

    CBO estimates that from April 2007 to April 2008, the rise in the price of corn resulting from expanded production of ethanol contributed between 0.5 and 0.8 percentage points of the 5.1 percent increase in food prices measured by the consumer price index (CPI). Over the same period, certain other factors—for example, higher energy costs—had a greater effect on food prices than did the use of ethanol as a motor fuel.

    • Part IV:

      OK – 10%-15% of the increase in food prices attributable to ethanol is nothing to sneeze at …but biofuels – as an isolated factor, has “driven millions into poverty and hunger?”

      Surely, “skeptics” will demand a comprehensive analysis before they accept such a claim.

      I hope he’s got some solid evidence for the scale of that conclusion…otherwise this is more scare-mongering about scare-mongering.

      Which would be ironic in the real world, and par for the course in the climate debate cafeteria food fight lunchroom.

      • Joshua, I agree. I would like to see hard statistics too. But, it could easily be true. If the supply is so low that we are paying 15% more in the US for corn, alternate grains, and meat, it is quite likely we have exported and donated less.
        It doesn’t just cause 15% higher prices in Ethiopia for example, it removes food they may need to stay alive. But it is something that any “heartless free market person” would ask while the progressives in Congress who “love the little guy” never seem to before they pass legislation.

      • Bill –

        You raise some good points. But…

        It doesn’t just cause 15% higher prices in Ethiopia for example, it removes food they may need to stay alive..

        Sure – but is it the most significant factor that might have reduced the food available to Etheopians, and if you target the influence of ethanol, what might the opportunity cost be from not targeting (potentially) more significant factors?

        It certainly does look like a low-hanging fruit in terms of corrective measures. But given the vested business interests, at this point dismantling the ethanol industry would have some negative ramifications economically.

        My problem is that it has also become a low-hanging fruit for political polemics. Facile railing about “millions dead from ethanol” is being played up to fight a political war against libruls, environmentalists, etc.

        For example:

        the progressives in Congress who “love the little guy” never seem to before they pass legislation.

        Ethanol policies are hardly merely the product of “progressives in Congress.” This is easily revealed by just a cursory examination of the history of the policies.

    • Imo, you are correctly pointing out where people inappropriately claim great harms from the production of ethanol from corn, but you are missing the overall point of Judith’s post. The idea of the post is that there has been a prevailing tendency for scientists and other advocates of various positions to predict great harms that do not actually materialize. This also seems to be the case with potential climate change.

      Additional CO2 is making the world warmer, but we do not know how much. The range of estimates vary from “no big deal” to that would be a pretty rapid change. Regardless of the rate of change, we have very little reliable information to show that an increase in temperature will make the world (or the USA specifically) worse for humanity overall over the long term.

      Along the same lines, we certainly have no reliable information to demonstrate that the mitigation actions, or additional costs which some advocate should be placed on CO2 emissions with lessen the feared future conditions at all, or certainly not enough to justify the cost of the advocated actions. People advocate actions with no reliable data to show that their actions will improve the situation they fear.

      What we do know is that the vast majority of harms caused by changes in the climate/weather can by lessened by the construction of a good infrastructure. We also know that the world is facing difficult economic times and countries will be more frugal. Nations that build good infrastructure will survive and flourish. Those that do not will have citizens suffer.

      • What we do know is that the vast majority of harms caused by changes in the climate/weather can by lessened by the construction of a good infrastructure. We also know that the world is facing difficult economic times and countries will be more frugal. Nations that build good infrastructure will survive and flourish. Those that do not will have citizens suffer.

        Good point. Clearly put. Should be emphasised.

    • Wait a minute. Using fuel to produce and transport ethanol helped drive up the cost of fuel. That does not qualify as an other factor.

  20. There are no consequences…

    There is no accountabilitiy…

    Do Schoolteachers Respect the Hand that Feeds? No,

    When talking to the government schoolteachers of global warming it is merely an act of good faith on our part to assume they believe in the scientific method. We feel comfortable interacting with them based on that assumption because there is no honor in candor when dealing with these charlatans. We know the truth about them, that they have no devotion to honesty and that they are destitute of the impulse to any uplifting activity. But, to think of them as experts would be hilarious: these are the government toadies that know more than all of the rest and laugh at us and our beliefs and the jobs we do so that they can preside over America’s dropout factories: they’re so smart they even piss on the notion of a God and make our employers’ work for them, extracting money from them that we created and deducting taxes from our wages before we see a dime.

    • School teachers may be in on the conspiracy.

      Apply for a school teaching job yourself. If they don’t hire you, it will prove they employee only people who want to be a part of the conspiracy.

      • A conspiracy of ignorance? Sometimes a piece of disinformation is so bad, you don’t criticize it or put it right, but just hope that other people will simply not notice it.

  21. “Just as policy can make the climate crisis worse—mandating biofuels has not only encouraged rain forest destruction, releasing carbon, but driven millions into poverty and hunger—technology can make it better.”
    _______

    Sounds like biofuels may be apocalyptic.

    Have any studies shown biofuels have driven millions into poverty and hunger?

    • Max_OK

      You ask

      Have any studies shown biofuels have driven millions into poverty and hunger?

      The US “corn for ethanol” disaster is making a good try…

      Max (not from OK)

      • I’m not a fan of ethanol, but ” biofuels have driven millions into poverty” sounds like a number someone just made up.

      • Max_OK

        I’d not hang my hat on that phrase. Biofuels may have made grain prices increase and this may have had very negative impact on the poorest individuals on this planet, but “driven millions into poverty”? Sounds like a bit of hyperbole.

        Just like I wouldn’t support the notion promoted by IPCC that AGW represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment unless CO2 curtailment schemes are implemented immediately. More hyperbole.

        Max (not from OK)

      • By “made up” do you mean like “there will be 50 million climate refugees by 2010″? But there were none!

    • The selectivity among “skeptics” about scare-mongering is what distinguishes them from skeptics.

      There is solid evidence that ethanol policies have increased food prices.

      http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/27/apocalypse-not/#comment-232864

      But I have also asked for the evidence substantiating the scale of Ridley’s claim.

      While I have no doubt that many “skeptics” (see your fellow Max) will accept such claims on faith, I won’t hold my breath as I wait for them to provide evidence that substantiates their belief.

  22. Ridley matches my take to a ‘T,’ including his description of lukewarmers. How can any people be so wrong to such a degree so often and still be taken seriously? When people like Revkin still quote Paul Ehrlich (!), you know something very, very wrong is going on. The cold fusion guys got one thing very wrong, and they were driven into hiding for the rest of their lives. Ehrlich got tens of millions of deaths wrong, and he’s considered an authority in the New York Times!

    • > How can any people be so wrong to such a degree so often and still be taken seriously?

      Indeed, see for yourself:

      > Just imagine what the response would have been if someone who tells the rich and powerful what they don’t want to hear had caused the first run on a British bank in 130 years and had to go crawling to the people he had spent years attacking for a £27bn bailout. Imagine that this person, having learned nothing from the experience, then published a book insisting that the strategy he applied with such catastrophic consequences should be rolled out universally.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jun/18/matt-ridley-rational-optimist-errors

  23. Provocative article? I’d call it just common sense. But there are times when the obvious looks revolutionary.

  24. have trouble reconciling these two comments from Dr. Curry”

    “Once an apocalyptic prediction gets made, the whole thing becomes polarized, with one group preaching apocalypse and the other group dismissing it. I like Ridley’s point about the excluded middle ground, ‘lukewarmers’ in the case of climate change.”

    “2C warming is a distinct possibility, even 4C. What has not been convincing is that such a warming in any way would be apocalyptic in the 21st century.”

    On the one hand, we have lukewarrmers as the “middle ground” on the issue of apocalypse. On the other, we have our own lukewarmer in chief unconvinced that an apocalypse is imminent.

    I think apocalypse if a fair proxy for the C in CAGW. One definition of apocalypse being “destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale.”

    I know those who want to see themselves as rising above both sides of any debate have difficulty with “binary” questions, but CAGW/decarbonization is like the decision to amputate a leg. There is no middle ground. Either we are headed for catastrophe, and so must deliver control over our economy to progressive apparatchiks, or we aren’t, and shouldn’t.

    It was all well and good for Switzerland to be neutral in WW II, as long as the Allies won. If things had turned out otherwise, the Swiss would have ended up speaking German.

    Oh…wait a minute….

    • Gary

      I’d agree with your points regarding climate “apocalypse”.

      I’d add that the main problem is not whether or not there is a GH effect, whether or not CO2 is a GH gas, whether GHGs slow down the outbound LW radiation from Earth, whether atmospheric CO2 levels are rising or whether human activities emit CO2. It is not even whether our planet has been warming (in fits and spurts) since modern temperature measurements started in 1850.

      The main problem is that there are no empirical scientific data to support the “C” in “CAGW”.

      And that is a BIG problem for the CAGW supporters and those that predict an “apocalypse” unless immediate remedial action is taken.

      A smaller secondary problem is that it appears to have stopped warming for some time now, despite unabated CO2 emissions and atmospheric CO2 concentrations that have reached record levels. This problem will become a major one if the “lack of warming” continues for another few years, as is quite possible.

      Now to Switzerland in WWII: As you know, over 60% of the Swiss do speak a form of German (although Germans living north of the Main River cannot understand it).

      The rest speak French, Italian or (a small minority) Rhaetoromanisch.

      And the “Allies” didn’t win for the first 3-1/2 years of the war. In fact, they were notably absent from the scene. Switzerland was completely surrounded by Axis powers until late 1943, when Italy was “liberated” by the Allies.

      So why didn’t Hitler simply march into Switzerland and take it over?

      Historians will argue the details, but it is clear that the Nazi German leadership saw that an invasion of Switzerland would cost more than it would gain, so it wasn’t done.

      Sure, the Swiss Army would have made an invasion costly, and pesky guerrilla warfare would likely have continued for years in the mountains (as it did in Yugoslavia) but that was not the main reason for Germany’s hesitation. A major factor was that the Swiss allowed Germany to ship non-strategic goods (but no weapons, soldiers or civilians) through the tunnels in the Alps to Italy, In exchange, the Germans supplied Switzerland with coal. At the same time, both sides knew that the tunnels were filled with explosives, and would be blown up and useless if Germany invaded. Every schoolchild here learns this.

      Yes, the Swiss were probably betting on (and certainly hoping for) an eventual Allied victory, but it was far from a “fait accompli” for the first 3-1/2 years of WWII.

      Just a little historical perspective.

      Max

      • manacker,

        Agreed on all of the above. Though as to Switzerland, I think a German victory in WW II would have been the death knell for Switzerland. Hitler’s political decisions were not ultimately based on cost benefit analyses. The heroic independence of the Swiss was tolerated only so long as it provided some benefit to the Reich, and party members. But in the final analysis, Hitler, particularly if he had lasted long enough to develop nuclear weapons, would have erased Switzerland (or at least most of the Swiss) from the map if necessary.

        I suspect the Swiss did the very best that could have been done given the circumstances. My comment was not regarding the intent of the Swiss, just the political reality of the situation.

  25. Fred from Canuckistan

    When Romney is elected President I hope he gets Matt Ridley to run the EPA and kick some common sense and sanity into that organization. The current EPA is operating on Planet Ridiculous and needs serious pruning, realignment and real leadership unlike the current and recent team that prays to Gaia and thinks they are immune to errors.

  26. If the proponents of CAGW (or even AGW) were not driving politicians’ interest (taxes, UN ambitions, etc.), there would not be any polarization because ….. who would care? After all, there is no evidence for their hypothesis (none), so normally such a claim would be treated with the same focus as (say) the homeless guy on the corner with a sign claiming that the world is ending. But the folks on that corner now ALL have agendas.

  27. Apocalypse cancelled…

  28. Excellent article. Three things to consider…
    1…CO2 in the atmosphere is highly beneficial. Plants are now
    growing faster tha ever. (ever meaning the last million years)
    2…CO2 causing added warmth is proven minimal. Much less than
    has been predicted by a few. So, less than predicted by those few
    might be “bad.”….?
    3…There have been several periods in human history where
    temperatures were higher. These periods helped Homo.sapiens.
    Look at the mediaval warm period, as an example.
    So, so, recent climate change has been beneficial! CO2 has helped.

  29. An interesting article. For those interested in the intermediate future, it looks like fusion will still make the entire greenhouse gas issue moot. In a hundred years, when the sea level goes up 12 inches and the temp 2 degrees C, USA will have a big green house gas free electrical energy source. But still will have problems of poverty and hunger in the third world. Our electric cars will reduce emmissions in the urban heat islands but the chinese and indian coal plants will be choking the reduction of green house gases. But Frozen Planet’s prediction of the delayed ice age will be the apocalyptic fear for that time. Maybe carbon emmissions will help with that. The earth abides.

  30. Malaria is retreating in Africa because of renewed DDT use. African nations from South Africa to Uganda are spraying DDT to protect their children the same way that white nations protected their children in the past. The environmentalist cruelty of letting millions of black Africans die to protect the legacy of single woman is finally over.

    • Latimer Alder

      When can we start to punish those responsible for such mass murder?

      To have a good solution to death a disease and refuse to allow it to be used is reminiscent of the charges the Irish made of the English in the Famine.

  31. ‘A brief histor of the apocalypse’ lists several hundred of ‘the world will end’ type scenarios dating back thousands of years..
    http://www.abhota.info/end1.htm

    I suspect many of those who are so anxious about climate change today would have believed in many of the previous tales of impending doom

    tonyb

    • Of course it’s an utter straw man, since few think the world will end.

      Among those supporting mitigation, the belief that the world will end is about as common as the belief among skeptics the climate scientists’ children should be raped.

      • robert

        that is a silly and unpleasant analogy. fears of climate change follow a centuries old pattern of unfounded concern.
        tonyb

      • tonyb – what simplistic nonsense.

      • JCH

        I’d agree with you that panic over CAGW is “simplistic nonsense”.

        Max

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Tony,

        The world has “ended” for the majority of civilizations to have ever existed. (Maya, Inca, Aztec, Egyptian, Sumeria, etc.) and climate change was often a factor. So the apocalypse has come many times for human civilizations. The best thing do is understand what factors played a role and how things begin to unravel.

        What seems more of a fantasy to me is the notion that we’ll be able to get away from all our affects on the environment through technology alone.

      • R Gates

        Let’s not confuse the demise of local civilizations as a result of natural or man-made factors with the purported threat to human civilization and our environment from CAGW.

        Sure there have been local and regional problems throughout human history.

        The fantasy is the belief that we humans are able to control our planet’s climate. The fact of the matter is that we cannot, no matter how much money we throw at it.

        Max

      • The claim that human actions cannot possibly affect the climate is, again, a different claim.

        It’s a pretty silly claim — along the lines of claiming global warming is impossible because God would not allow it to happen. But it’s a clear claim, and you can make an argument for it. Please do. None of the screed above, naturally, helps your thesis in any way, so you can start fresh.

        How is it that humans can’t possibly affect the climate?

      • manacker,

        This whole “apocalypse” thread is just more Orwellian misdirection. Like conflating AGW with CAGW.

        Progressives use the terms “global warming” and AGW to mean either AGW or CAGW, depending on the point they are trying to make.

        Same with “apocalypse” on this thread. When they say that CO2 threatens an apocalypse, they mean in the “end of the world” sense of the word. That all, like the “catastrophe” in CAGW, is the only way they can justify their massive tax and regulatory desires Then when called on their evidence free exaggeration, suddenly they meant it solely in the sense of “large scale, though localized, damage.”

        Semantics is the real last refuge of a scoundrel.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Max said:

        “The fantasy is the belief that we humans are able to control our planet’s climate. The fact of the matter is that we cannot, no matter how much money we throw at it.”

        ____
        There is no physical or logical reason why humans cannot control our planet’s climate, and in fact, most assurdedly we can. We can do it slowly (through alterations in the atmopshere, biosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere, and hydrosphere) or we could do it rapidly through some grave miscalculation resulting in thermonuclear war. But either way, nothing in physics or logic prevents humans from altering the climate. Indeed, quite the opposite.

      • k scott denison

        “There is no physical or logical reason why humans cannot control our planet’s climate, and in fact, most assurdedly we can.”

        Yeah, sure. And we can control wildfires as well… except when we can’t.

        If we cannot control wildfires (remember this was the worst season ever in Colorado in spite of our “control” efforts), how is it we will control the climate, which is a much more complex beast?

        Proof that we can control the climate is where?

      • You can control the earth’s average temperature because it is dependent on an incoming energy forcing function, which is essentially the solar radiation.

        It is much easier to inject GHG into the atmosphere to cause warming than to keep aerosols aloft to cause cooling. That’s the issue.

      • k scott denison,

        “If we cannot control wildfires (remember this was the worst season ever in Colorado in spite of our “control” efforts), how is it we will control the climate, which is a much more complex beast?”

        Progressives, particularly those who are academics, are progressives because of their belief in their own awesomeness. Remember, these are the type of folks who debated whether they might bring an end to the world by turning on the large hadron collider.

        Of course they can control the Earth’s climate. Just don’t ask them to control their spending of trillions of dollars of other people’s money.

      • “fears of climate change follow a centuries old pattern of unfounded concern”

        That’s an entirely different claim. So are you arguing that all concerns are, generally, unfounded?

        That seems silly. So what is the “pattern” you are claiming?

      • k scott denison | August 28, 2012 at 9:14 pm asked: ”Proof that we can control the climate is where?”

        A: it’s on my website, Scotty, all the proofs you need: http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/5floods-droughts-we-dont-need-to-have/ Read every post there, Human is capable to deteriorate the climate / human is capable to IMPROVE the climate also!!! Because human can control water to a degree, WATER CONTROLS THE CLIMATE!!!! First needs to expose the CARBON MOLESTERS!

        1] example: fires in Colorado / Texas are getting bigger – because is less and less water on Arctic ocean covered by ice. Without ice as insulator water absorbs EXTRA coldness – that EXTRA coldness is spread south by the currents; not visible, because by the time travels south in Atlantic – is different temperature is DEEP DOWN, because is colder / heavier than the surface water. BUT, brings ”COLDNESS” south to Florida / Mexican gulf = less evaporation = less water vapor goes west = more dry heat is vacuuming the moisture from the mulch / foliage = bigger fireshttp://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/open-pandoras-box/water-vapor-h2o/ Scotty, don’t be scared from the truth, reality and real proofs. YOU ASKED FOR REAL PROOFS, be fair to yourself and get all the proofs you need

      • James Hansen does (the oceans will evaporate)!

        So do many of the other prominent CAGW alarmists.

    • andrew adams

      tonyb,

      So you are comparing (misrepresented – no one is saying the world will end) warnings based on modern day science with a bunch of apocalyptic predictions made centuries ago based on religion, astrology etc. And you accuse us of irrationality?

  32. Robert

    Check out doomsday theories. There have been many over human history. They all follow a similar pattern (as tony b points out).

    And they all have one thing in common: they never come true (otherwise we wouldn’t be here today).

    Max

    • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

      Actually, every civilization has doomday theories (or prophecies) and of course, every major civilization has eventually met its doom. Eventually of course this planet will as well, but climate change is unlikely to be the cause.
      The real point being that perhaps doomday notions are part of every civilization because every civilizaiton unconsciously knows the clock is ticking. The salient issue of course being whether or not anthropogenic climate change might make that clock tick a bit faster, bring bout the doom of the current civilization by our own hands.

  33. I wonder if Wired is changing their position on Green issues? I just dropped ArsTech science because BBC is more balanced.

    The Green apocalypse is still religious. It comes from German nature worship and the myth that humans lived in harmony with nature until science and technology “upset the balance” (a Buddhist idea).

    • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

      “It comes from German nature worship and the myth that humans lived in harmony with nature until science and technology “upset the balance” (a Buddhist idea).”
      _______
      I don’t think that was part of the Noble 8-fold path in Buddhism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_Eightfold_Path

      But the real illusion is of course humans are separate from nature and can ever not live in harmony with nature. If you jump or fall off a very high cliff and end up smashed and dead at the bottom, every part of that journey would be quite in harmony nature, including the maggots that will eat your body if it is left to rot.

      • David Springer

        Been a while since you commented, Gates.

        I almost started to miss you. Almost.

        It would have been a good miss too.

  34. David Springer

    “JC comment: In earlier times, future apocalypses were articulated by religious ‘seers.’ In the 20th century, science and models are driving apocalyptic predictions.”

    Science and models also drive predictions of great abundance where individuals of the future will have resources at their personal disposal that only nations have today and enjoy lifespans limited only by accident or desire.

    Nanotechnology, fully realized, will allow engineers to exploit the resources of the entire inner solar system which dwarfs by several orders of magnitude the resources available on and near the earth’s surface.

    Just the first major milestone on the way to nanotechnology, synthetic biology, is hugely transformative. That milestone is not far off anymore. When it was first outlined by a think tank at MIT in 1986 and published by K. Eric Drexler in a book called “Engines of Creation” it was given to be three to five decades in the future. It’s gonna be closer to three than five. J. Craig Venter and the J. Craig Venter Institute are in the lead. Exxon-Mobil recently gave a spinoff of JCVI $600 million to jointly develop the first practical microbe for producing liquid hydrocarbons.

    Presumably Exxon-Mobil doesn’t toss around sums of money that large without a good idea from the top scientific guns in the energy industry that it’s going to reward the shareholders in the not-too-distant future.

    • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

      The notion that our technology will allow us to create a care-free, infinite-energy future is an alluring fantasy. Meanwhile back in the real world…

      • Gates, do you seriously doubt what Springer is telling you. I would say you are the one with no faith in science and technology. I think my great grandfather would be astounded at the level of comfort and security I have compared to his own so tell us again why you want to throttle the world’s economies.

        Jim

      • JimJ,

        I usually doubt what Springer says…or let’s say I’m highly skeptical.

        I have faith in the ability of humans to adapt and the ingenuity to create, but history shows us that civilizations come and go and climate change has been a factor in many of those goings.

      • We have far more to fear from fear of climate change than from climate change itself. Just look at what has already been done to our descendants in the name of this hallucination.
        ================

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        What exactly has been done to our descendants in the name of some supposed hallucination? Also, you mistake fear for concern.

      • Springer is a hypocrite. Why does he go overboard in predicting with such certainty that Exxon will create a microbiological invention to provide us with energy?

        It must mean he believes in peak oil.
        It must mean that he believes in moving away from fossil fuel.

        Why all the fake rationalizations then? (i.e. Warm is better anyways, Climate science is a fraud, Oceans are the real GHE, etc)

        Springer himself said that Exxon can’t be wrong. Money that big talks, right Springer?

        I really don’t understand this attitude except that he is a cranky middle-aged white guy, telling the kids to get off his yard.

      • David Springer

        The inner solar system’s resources are not infinite. The limits however are far beyond the grasp of shallow thinkers bound up in psuedo-scienctific narratives collectively called climate change.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        “…far beyond the grasp of shallow thinkers bound up in….

        ____
        Do you realize what a pompous git you sound like?

      • lurker, passing through laughing

        like you?

  35. Captdallas 27/08 @10.37 says that science is like the Tao,’
    ‘The path twists and turns in a nonlinear manner.. the TAO that can be told is not the eternal TAO..’

    ‘The eternal Tao,
    To know it is not to know.
    What is it? Don’t ask.

    (Bader)

  36. Anyone posting here with a serious interest in these matters (sustainability) might want to read my recent illustrated e-book, Gaia’s Limits. It covers why past neo-Malthusian prognostications have been wrong (including Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb). Illustrated because pictures and graphical representations can convey ideas to non-techical laypersons better than words in many cases. The book delves deeply into water (not a problem despite UN and other yammer), climate (ditto), food (a soft limit problem by 2050, unavoidable given present population and agricultural trends despite FAO pronouncements to the contrary, and independent of corn ethanol), and energy. Energy becomes a real hard limit problem before 2050. Quite provable, with the biggest and first problem being liquid transportation fuels. Biofuels can help, but are incapable of rectifying the situation even in the long run. Exxon/SGI/Ventner, Gates’ support of Saphire Energy, and Khosla’s Kior are cases in point specificly examined in the book. The fossil fuel energy shoe begins to pinch within about a decade, which does not leave a lot of time to start making suitable adjustments. Gets ugly by 2050 absent actions which no one is taking yet anywhere.
    That said, there are basic policy choices that enable a global soft landing for an eventual population at around 6.5 billion at around a 2050 level of average GDP. No catastrophes unless we cause them by ignoring these issues until the problems hit (absolute scarcity of adequate food calories and fuel gallons). Working out the numbers is not that complicated, and is quite compelling. Just took 2.5 years of fact finding and cross verification. The facts are much more interesting than all of the contradictory opinions expressed above, many of which do not appear aware of the basic human carrying capacity facts, or the mistaken presumptions behind a number of the more hopeful comments. Unlike climate change models, each of the basic facts used in the book is easily verifiable robust public information. Have at it.

    • David Springer

      The inner solar system can support orders of magnitude more life than what resides accidentally on the thin of the third rock from the sun. It’s not infinite but we’re nowhere near any limits. Few people realize the engineering opportunities inherent in self-reproducing robotic factories. Nature shows us how to accomplish this with protein-based machinery operating in conditions of pH and temperature which doesn’t destroy protein. The class of life known as extremophiles show us the environmental limits of protein-based machinery. More rugged forms of self-replicators are possible through means other than natural evolution. Through the more rugged machines we can exploit the resources of the inner solar system which are orders of magnitude greater than what’s available on the earth and in near earth orbit. That said, just the mastery of protein-based replicators is brings with it transformative engineering opportunies that dwarf any technology which preceded it including mastery of fire, metallurgy, and agriculture with the possible exception of language and writing.

      http://e-drexler.com/d/06/00/EOC/EOC_Chapter_10.html

      THE LIMITS TO GROWTH
      (Chapter 10)

      ——————————————————————————–

      The Structure of the Vacuum
      Will Physics Again be Upended?
      The Limits to Hardware
      Entropy: A Limit to Energy Use
      The Limits to Resources
      Malthus
      Will Someone Stop Us?
      Growth Within Limits
      Views of Limits

    • Rud – what were your assumptions about technical advances in the oil field? Unknonwn reserves? These are the elements that have rendered past predictions of too expensive oil wrong in the past.

      • If you want to look at expensive oil, take a look at the Bakken. Lots of little wells, with high costs and limited lifetimes. As it is, there is a significant difference of opinion between two Bakken analysts of note, Mason and Brackett.

        From Mason’s data, the flow of oil out of a hydraulically fractured well appears to be controlled by diffusional dynamics.
        This is what an average Bakken well decline looks like if one uses Mason’s charts.
        http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/9282/bakkenmasondiffusionalm.gif
        The cumulative is the important part of the curve I believe because he plotted the instantaneous production incorrectly (which I tried to correct with the black dots).
        But then if we look at Brackett’s analysis of Bakken (see below), I can better fit the average well to a hyperbolic decline model. A hyperbolic decline is an ensemble average of exponential declines of different rates, assuming maximum entropy in the distribution in rates (this works to describe lots of physical phenomena).
        http://img40.imageshack.us/img40/8281/bakkenhyperbolicdecline.gif

        That conflicts with the diffusional model that I think better describes Mason’s data.
        Now, I believe it’s possible that Brackett simply took the 1/e decline point on each well and then tried to extrapolate that to an average production. That’s the easy way out and is definitely wrong as this will always approximate a hyperbolic decline; of course I can check this if I can get access to the 3,694 samples that Brackett says goes into his analysis.
        Mason and Brackett can’t both be right, as there are sufficient differences between diffusional flow decline and hyperbolic decline to impact projections. The former is steeper at first but has a fatter tail, whereas the latter will definitely decline more in the long term. Brackett says the average well will generate 250,000 barrels of oil while Mason shows twice that and still increasing.

        The analysis is endlessly fascinating, and it is disturbing because the actual data is so hard to get a hold of. The oil insiders that do the analysis don’t look like they are the best statisticians out there. They may not need to be, if the only consumers of this information are speculators. Expensive oil is great for Wall Street.

  37. Thx, Rud Istvan, ‘Gaia’s Limits’ … Amazon

  38. Bringing these two threads together: Does the AMS statement look like a prediction of the apocalypse? Read it through. It just advises on some things that could well happen with the warming continuing in the way it has already started to go. None of these are apocalyptic, and it is a strawman to say that AGW predicts an apocalypse. The problems occur if people assume 21st century climate will be like the 20th, or will return to a 19th century climate, and don’t plan well as a result.
    The AMS actually understated too much when they implied if Greenland and Antarctica melt by 2500 it would only be several meters. It would be more like 70 meters, but perhaps it would not all be by 2500. The collapse of the WAIS alone would give ‘several’ meters (3m), and that could occur much sooner.
    Anyway, there is a disconnect between these threads.

    • Jim D

      You must be kidding.

      No one in his right mind would guess what is going to happen to the WAIS or to sea levels by year 2500.

      That would be utterly asinine.

      In fact, to even think that we have any Earthly notion of what is going to happen to either by the year 2100 is almost as ludicrous.

      Get serious.

      It looks like you are actually starting to believe this stuff!

      Max

  39. There is little to no doubt that a CO2 enhanced world would be good for the plant kingdom and derivatively for the animal kingdom. There is little to no doubt that a warmer world would sustain more total life and more diversity of life.

    Apocalypse? I much to more doubt it. Granted, there will be regional losers, as there have always been with climate change. The call to crash human civilization is the greedy and deluded imaginations of evil wizards playing an ancient game of misplaced guilt.

    And we are cooling, folks; for how long even kim doesn’t know.
    ===========================

  40. True and obvious. Even IPCC AR4 says as much (burried in the text in WG1, Chapter 6:

    – More carbon tied up in the biosphere when the climate is warmer
    – the area of deserts shrinks when warmer and expands when colder

  41. In answer to Joshua, one of my sources for the claim that biofuel policies have driven millions into poverty and hunger is in a published paper by Indur Goklany here:

    http://www.jpands.org/vol16no1/goklany.pdf

    excerpt:

    “Combining these estimates with estimates of the increase in poverty owing to growth in biofuels production over 2004 levels leads to the conclusion that additional biofuel production may have resulted in at least 192,000 excess deaths and 6.7 million additional lost DALYs in 2010.”

  42. Chad Wozniak

    Latimer Adler –

    You say the Mediterranean overflowed through the Bosphorus 6,000 years ago? Was that to form the Black Sea (and maybe the Caspian, which got separated from the Black Sea after the land continued to rise between them after the retreat of the glaciers in Europe, as I understand it)? That’s news to me, but I have no authroity to cite here.

    I recall reading the the Mediterranean itself dried up and stayed dry for several million years, with temps up to 180 degrees in the air in it, as much as 14,000 below sea level, but filled up again about 4 million years ago when the Atlantic broke through at Gibraltar. Is this really what you’re talking about? I’d just be curious to know.

    • Latimer Alder

      @Chad

      Please look at an atlas. You can think of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea as two separate – but connected – lakes. The connection of the Mediterranean to the Atlantic is via Gibraltar. The Black Sea is connected to the Mediterranean by the Bosphorus..and thence to the Atlantic via Gibraltar.

      The first to fill in from the Atlantic was the Mediterrranean – a long time ago. But it was only within human history that the Bosphorus broke and the Black Sea filled up also. This all happened at about the same time as the English Channel formed and we in England were liberated from France.

  43. There seems to be quite a large number of comments which rely on the supposed logic, that just because nothing really bad has happened so far, and that many predictions to the contrary have proven to be incorrect, therefore there is no possibility that anything ever will, even if humanity ignores the scientific advice and allows atmospheric CO2 levels to rise out of all control.

    Is that all there is to it then?

    • lurker, passing through laughing

      tt,
      It is much more than the continual whine from the climate obsessed that doomsday is happening now.
      Sort of lie the reporting on Isaac: a great deal hand wringing over a marginal storm that is not unusual in any way: Much more illustrative of the emotional state of those who are hyping the storm/climate.

    • k scott denison

      Perhaps, TT, the logic is not as you say, but is closer to this:

      They are saying the world will come to an end if we don’t act now. Oh, we should listen and act!

      Wait, hwat have they predicted so far that is accurate?

      Nothing?

      Oh, well, never mind. Carry on.

  44. Steve Milesworthy

    Predictions of … the end of oil in the 1970s proved just as wrong

    I always find statements like this odd. I think it would always be irrational to assume that one will always find concentrated sources of energy within the earth’s crust.

    Obviously, oil didn’t end and the signs of its end are still being argued about. But the supply and demand has always fluctuated without any catastrophic outcomes. Arguing that alternative ways of increasing the monetary cost of oil (eg. carbon taxes) will be catastrophic seems just as irrationally apocalyptic when an alternative likely outcome will be more efficient use of energy resources.

    • Steve

      Past “peak oil” predictions (Hubbard, etc.) have been wrong.

      Fossil fuels are all interchangeable with today’s technology, so one should not speak of “peak oil” but rather “peak fossil fuels”

      WEC 2010 estimates tell us that roughly 85% of all the recoverable fossil fuel resources that were EVER on our planet are still in place, i.e. we have used up 15% to date.

      These 15% resulted in an increase of atmospheric CO2 from an estimated 280 ppmv to a measured 392 ppmv today, so we can calculate that the remaining 85% will cause an absolute maximum level of around 1,030 ppmv when they are ALL GONE.

      This does NOT mean that these remaining inferred resources are limitless, just that they are not about to run out YET (maybe in 300 years at today’s usage rate or half that time at twice the usage rate).

      They will undoubtedly continue to become more difficult (and expensive) to extract, and thus more costly over time. At some point they will no longer be the lowest cost option for electricity generation (nuclear is already competitive today, in most locations, without any carbon tax). Usage rates will level off and eventually start to decline as other energy sources become more attractive.

      So, regardless of what some “pundits” would have us believe, we are not about to run out of fossil fuels any time soon and will certainly have found other new and improved alternate energy sources long before this happens.

      Max

      • WEC 2010 estimates tell us that roughly 85% of all the recoverable fossil fuel resources that were EVER on our planet are still in place, i.e. we have used up 15% to date.

        Part of what makes this so confusing is that word ‘recoverable’. That’s not fixed. The reason why we’re suddenly adding so much to the recoverable reserves is that new technology has transferred a lot of material from the ‘nonrecoverable’ category and put it into the ‘recoverable’ category. It’s an amounting thing. New technology doesn’t put any new matter into the earth’s crust, but it most certainly can make dramatic increases in what’s ‘recoverable’ at any given time.

        Are clathrates recoverable? Might they be some day? See why the “peak” keeps moving?

      • *accounting

      • “Fossil fuels are all interchangeable with today’s technology, so one should not speak of “peak oil” but rather “peak fossil fuels””

        If that is so, why have the prices gone up so much? Because they are not interchangeable.

        The C in CAGW stands for Costly. We are frittering away the oil-rich joyride that we lucked on over the last century. Unless we start using this high density miracle energy to find or invent new sources, all we have to look forward to is more battles over what is left. You put the AGW in that equation and we won’t be paying more and more to adopt some way-too-late mitigation or adaptation strategy. That will be seat-of-the-pants time as we won’t have much of that cheap energy left.

        BTW, that is the furthest that I have ever ventured in discussing CAGW.

      • “The Green River Formation—an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming—contains the world’s largest deposits of oil shale. USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions. The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered. At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.”

        http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/HHRG-112-%20SY20-WState-AMittal-20120510.pdf

      • Green River shale? That is like digging up all the asphalt that went into our parking lots and playgrounds and trying to burn that. Do you have any idea of what is involved with extracting kerogen embedded in shale?

        You might as well talk about all the intrinsic fusion energy lying within the ocean’s waters.

        GaryM once again shows the pathetic cluelessness of the typical right-wing nutjob.

      • Web – businesses with real engineers will decide if and when Green River oil is worth going for. Something tells me they won’t be asking you for your opinion.

      • Customers decide whether it is worth paying for. Unless the govt steps in and subsidizes.

      • Let’s heat up those formations 1,000 feet underground to 1,000 degrees and soon we will be having gas wars at 15 cents a gallon! It’ll be the 1960s all over again. Free love. Like wow, man.

      • lurker passing through, laughing

        In the ever entertaining world of a guy named after a satellite, quoting the USGS is now evidence one is a ‘right wing nut job’..
        I wonder if the telescope has bothered to look at energy costs in constant dollars?
        http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/03/20/149014587/gas-prices-3-reasons-to-stay-calm
        And note what the grownup quoted in the articles states:
        “”but their economic behavior indicates a remarkable indifference to the price of oil.”
        And do note the graph that shows we are not facing something we have never faced before in pricing.
        Mr. Space Telescope, thanks for letting us laugh. At you.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        “but their economic behavior indicates a remarkable indifference to the price of oil”

        Yes, even hefty carbon taxes don’t dent our European fun. Thanks for that link lurker.

      • When you factor in shale oil (kerogen) plays, the numbers become staggering. The Green River formation oil shale has more than 1 trillion barrels of recoverable oil just in the Piceance Basin of Colorado.

        There are at least 1.8 trillion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil in just the Green River formation (DOE).
        Oil shale deposits like the Green River formation (technically a marl) are currently economic at sustained oil prices of $54/bbl, possibly as low as $35/bbl (DOE).

        In my hypothetical production forecast, I projected Green River oil shale production to reach 15 million BOPD by 2096. Am I being overly optimistic in projecting more than 15 million barrels per day (BOPD) of production from oil shales by 2100? Shell estimates that they could be producing 500,000 barrels per day from the Picenance Basin with a very small footprint using an in situ recovery process (5):

        Technical Viability and Commercial Readiness (pp 18-24)

        Shell has tested its in-situ process at a very small scale on Shell’s private holdings in the Piceance Basin. The energy yield of the extracted liquid and gas is equal to that predicted by the standardized assay test.13 The heating energy required for this process equals about one-sixth the energy value of the extracted product. These tests have indicated that the process may be technically and economically viable.

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/30/north-american-energy-independence-by-2020/

      • And the economics of this process would be greatly enhanced by small nuclear reactors used as the heat source. Since the heat is used directly, it is a very efficient source.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Past “peak oil” predictions (Hubbard, etc.) have been wrong.

        It doesn’t matter that they were wrong. It matters that pointing to their wrongness as some evidence of being apocalyptic is irrational. There might be a tendency for apocalyptic thinkers to pick up on such ideas, but in this case there was no guarantee then that oil would be so abundant for another 40 years.

        It might have been rational to encourage free-market principles when pursuing new supplies, but it is not rational to value oil only in terms of its free market cost any more than it is rational to value the cost of a sandwich by the effort required to take the ingredients out of a fridge and put them between pieces of pre-sliced bread.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        It doesn’t matter that they were wrong. It matters that pointing to their wrongness as some evidence of being apocalyptic is irrational. There might be a tendency for apocalyptic thinkers to pick up on such ideas

        It is the CAGW alarmists that are predicting apocalypse. The comment you are answering is pointing out that those who argue apocalypse (i.e. the CAGW alarmists) are the ones talking nonsense.

        Once again you have dodged the point of the comment and/or are intentionally misinterpreting or misrepresenting it in order to try to make one of your ‘Progressive” ideological anti-market statements.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang, you are getting confused. We are talking about those who identified the risks that oil would run short in the 1970s and the suggestion that such predictions were as irrational as end-of-the-world forecasts from millennialist priests.

        Such a comparison is silly.

        In the years prior to the current economic difficulties, I read dozens of commentators stating how there was no evidence that the economy was unsustainable, and that those who had predicted its unsustainability had been wrong so many times that you should stop listening to them. The above article seems similar. The irrational ones are those who completely ignore or deny the risks.

      • Steve,

        just ignore Peter since he is uninterested in responding to what I actually write. I am interested in your views. Peter can keep attacking and inventing what he wants to believe my views are, but i don’t engage people that are unwilling to discuss what I actually write. Hopefully you are not just ignoring the plethora of comments that bombard this site. A reason i rarely comment here, since Judith is unwilling to weigh in on even the most bizarre comments or exert any control on her site. it kind of makes it a waste to post on here, even though she does provide provocative content.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        If you re read the comment you responded to by Maxc here: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/27/apocalypse-not/#comment-233434 You’ll see you completely misunderstood his point or misrepresented it. That is a habit of yours.

        By the way, you may have missed this comment:
        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/27/apocalypse-not/#comment-233447

      • Steve Milesworthy

        The original article compares those predicting the end of oil with those predicting the end of the world. The comparison is stupid whether or not those who predicted the end of oil were wrong or not. Pointing out that they were wrong, as Max did, doesn’t address the fact that the comparison in the article was unfair and stupid. When you start an article with an unfair and stupid comparison you are probably going to continue saying unfair and stupid things.

        Why is that such a difficult point to get across?

        As for your second point. You make bogus and faulty analyses. Your defence is to pretend that those who point out your bogus and faulty analysis hold a position they don’t hold and then you point out all the perceived problems with this position (that nobody holds).

        For example, I’m not convinced either way by nuclear power because I can see the pros (eg. stable energy, relatively well-understood technology for existing reactor types) and the cons (eg. when it goes wrong it scares the pants off people, the capital costs are large and the lead times are long, the waste is an unsolved problem for safety and security reasons, new reactors are untried). Pretending I am an anti-nuclear zealot and proving my supposed position irrational by insisting I answer your leading questions doesn’t help you address these issues and isn’t conducive to constructive dialogue.

      • Steve,

        Funny that is pretty much what I told Peter as well.
        I have found it pretty useless to argue with people who are intelligent, are impressed with displaying their intelligence, and yet have no interest in considering perspectives that do not confirm their biases. They often project and accuse those they are arguing with with being close minded and uninterested in reality.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        As for your second point. You make bogus and faulty analyses.

        You start off with an assertion based on your beliefs. However, you have been shown to be wrong on every significant point you’ve argued with me on.

        In your comments you make numerous ludicrous statements (alarmist, scaremongering, anti-nuclear, and economically irrational). To pick one example of your anti-nuclear, alarmist, scaremongering statement, in one of your rants you referred to the nuclear waste at Windscale as “deadly dangerous slag”. When I asked you how many fatalities it had caused and to put that in perspective you refused to answer questions you didn’t want to answer saying that you were not going to be led. You avoided the questions and obfuscated. That has been the pattern with virtually all the issues we’ve disagreed on. In each significant point of disagreement you have been clearly wrong. But you have not displayed the intellectual or professional integrity to admit when you are wrong.

        For example, I’m not convinced either way by nuclear power because I can see the pros (eg. stable energy, relatively well-understood technology for existing reactor types) and the cons (eg. when it goes wrong it scares the pants off people, the capital costs are large and the lead times are long, the waste is an unsolved problem for safety and security reasons, new reactors are untried). Pretending I am an anti-nuclear zealot and proving my supposed position irrational by insisting I answer your leading questions doesn’t help you address these issues and isn’t conducive to constructive dialogue.

        You missed most of the cons such as: by far the least cost way to reduce global CO2 emission (once we remove the impediments to low cost nuclear and allow it to compete on a level playing field with other technologies), very large reduction in fatalities per TWh of energy delivered, about the most environmentally benign of all energy sources, high energy density and easy to ship means low storage and transport costs so much greater energy securities for countries, effectively unlimited supply of energy, …

        You provide a much longer list of cons most of which are based on radiation phobia caused by fifty years of anti-nuclear propaganda (mostly by ‘Progressives’ like yourself). You selectively raise “high capital cost and long construction time” of the existing breed of nuclear power plants (which are that high and that long because progress has been blocked for 50 years by the anti-nukes). You select this component of the cost of nuclear power. Why didn’t you mention the cheap cost of the fuel,? Why didn’t you mention the cost of electricity? Why didn’t you mention that the cost of nuclear electricity generation is, arguably, in the order of 8 times higher than it would have been now if not for regulatory ratcheting. Ehy do you argue based on the current costs of nuclear rather than the potential future costs since we are arguing about reducing CO2 emissions over decades? Why don’t you consider what the effective carbon tax would have to be without low cost nuclear? You are being selective. I suggest you are biased, not objective on nuclear power, and I suggest this is consistent with your ‘Progressive’ ideological beliefs. You accuse me elsewhere of emphasising the ranking of the impact component of global risks (which I remind you is what the climate alarmists do all the time with their fear mongering about the dangerous and catastrophic consequences of global warming. You’ve done the same by singling out as cons the capital cost and construction time for current nuclear power stations instead of talking about the cost of electricity. That is hypocritical since you accused my of being selective with talking about the impact component of global risks (Which as I said above is what the CAGW alarmists do all the time, so you are ‘doubly hypocritical’, or is it hypocritical squared).

        the waste is an unsolved problem for safety and security reasons

        Anti nuclear talking point. It’s nuclear phobia. So called nuclear waste is actually ‘once used nuclear fuel’ that retains 99% of useful energy and will be used to fuel breeder reactors. UK’s existing ‘once used nuclear fuel’ can power the UK for 500 years as pointed out by UK greenie activist and journalist I provided the link to previously. UK government is now looking at the building two of such power plants.

        new reactors are untried

        That statement applies to anything new. New renewable energy and energy storage technologies are untried too. However, we know from the physics and te amount of non renewable resources required it is impossible to meet more than a miniscule amount of the world’s energy needs with renewable energy. Yet the ‘Progressives’ continually promote renewable energy as the solution to CO2 emissions reductions. How blinded by ideologically beliefs is that, eh?

        You say new reactors are untried. What are you talking about? If you are talking about the IFR it ran very successfully for 35 years in USA and was shut down by Jimmy Carter for political reasons. The Russians have been operating their BN600 reactors for about 30 or 40 years. They are now building BN800s in Russia and China, and are getting ready to build BN1200s in Russia and China.

        I realise your brain is locked shut, so none of this will have the slightest impact on your ideological and anti-nuclear beliefs.

      • Peter,

        you display the typical attitudes and tactics of an ideological fanatic. I see it among many deniers, who project their own close-mindedness on their “opponents”. I have followed your back and forth withSteve, and it is very clear you are uninterested in the truth, but only care about proving someone else wrong. You do have valid points, and raise important questions, but you are unable to accept anything that does not fit your agenda. look at the absoluteness of your assertions. the statements you make are designed to only allow agreement or disagreement, and you dismiss any disagreement as obviously false, but the plethora of assertions you have previously made. It is sad for me to see so many intelligentt engaged people, so caught up in what seems to me to be a game of showing people you are smarter than they are.
        I am glad I made it clear I would only engage you if you would be reasonable and consider what I actually wrote. that caveat still stands by the way.

      • Tony Duncan

        Peter,

        you display the typical attitudes and tactics of an ideological fanatic. I see it among many deniers, who project their own close-mindedness on their “opponents”.

        Isn’t it amazing how the ‘Progressives” make statements alike this about those who do not share their deeply held beliefs, but don’t recognise it in themselves.

        Isn’t in amazing how so many he ‘Progressives’ consider themselves competent to provide unsolicited psychological and psychiatric advice to those who do not accept their dearly held beliefs.

        Tony, set an example. And to avoid being grouped with the others who share your beliefs and behaviour characteristcs on web sites, ensure you change their behaviour too. When you get all ‘Progressives’ to change their beliefs and behaviours, the world will be a far better place.

        Report in when complete. Until then, apply your advice to yourself and be quiet in class, and don’t speak until you are spoken to by an adult.

      • Steve,

        I do think Peter has made some important points that you have not adressed, though I can understand how it is hard since he does not respond rationally to perspectives that do not fit his obsessions. I would be happy to discuss some of them with you, until Peter is willing to actually have an actual discussion.
        while he blithely casts aside any notion that there are any valid arguments agaisnt nuclear energy, I do think it is crucial to look at all the positives and negatives. One has to consider the political realities, and ignoring Fukushima or the issue of nuclear waste as non issues is of course unrealistic. the capital costs of nuclear as well as the regulatpry collusion between government and industry are serious issues. After all the industry decried the onerous regulations on the fukushima model plants, but if they had NOT been enacted and enforced there almost certainly would have been a much more serious meltdown at those plants. Still related to coal and the downsides of other sources of CO2 and even other renewables, what is your consideration of the role of nuclear in the energy mix both in the near future and the long term?

      • Tony Duncan,

        More useless drivel.

      • Tony Duncan,

        Do you see any inconsistency in your argument that nuclear is not a viable option now (for what are a variety of irrational reasons), yet you advocate renewable energy and CO2 pricing for irrational reasons.

        You want to cut global CO2 emissions yet oppose the most economically rational solution (nuclear) because it is not popular.

        So you argue for irrational policies (like carbon pricing) which have little chance of ever being implemented or accepted globally.

        It will take 50 to 100 years to get the world off fossil fuels. Renewable energy can achieve next to nothing and nor can carbon pricing in the absence of low cost nuclear power for all the world.

        Yet you oppose the rational solution that can have a major global impact on the basis that it is not popular now. It is not popular because of 50 years of anti nuclear protesting, mostly by ‘Progressives’.

        Does it occur to you that if you want to cut GHG emissions, the ‘Progressives’ need to get out and start converting their own tribes to enthusiastically support nuclear power.

      • Tony duncan | August 31, 2012 at 12:10 am

        Tony duncan, this tread will make you eat your own words, if you have any honesty / dignity left, or are you blaming the deniers for your own Achilles’s hill: http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/unavoidable-two-hurdles-to-cross/

  45. andrew adams

    Of course alarmism (real alarmism I mean) and predictions of apocalypse serve no-one well and would be damaging to the debate about what can and should be done about AGW. But then I think most of us on the “warmist” side are not catastrophists (if that is a word). I admit I have no mandate to speak for others but I think it’s fair to say that in general we do think the dangers of AGW are potentially very severe but we are also optimistic about the capability of the human race to address the danger and take actions to mitigate it. After all, it’s not us making dire preditions of economic collapse if we instigate policies to reduce emissions. If we wanted to learn from past predictions of danger we should be looking not at the ravings of religious types, astrologers etc from centuries ago, or, say, from tentative in reality but vastly exaggerated by some predictions of global cooling in more recent times, but at examples where real and significant dangers have been identified and actually addressed through collective and/or individual actions such as AIDS, the hole in the ozone layer, lead in petrol etc.

    And in general while panic and doom-and-gloom-ism is certainly not advisable in the face of a perceived threat, adopting a panglossian attitude is equally foolish. Not just in the case of climate change but, say, thinking a business model of aggressive mortgage lending funded by short term money market borrowing is sustainable. It is worth remembering that things did not end well for Dr Pangloss (or indeed Mr Micawber).

    • lurker, passing through laughing

      andrew,
      One of the most entertaining ways the climate obsessed behave is when confronted with the fialure of their apocalypse: Most, like you apparently, simply deny they ever believed in one, and then immediately try to change the subject to how skeptics were the real apocalypse believers anyway.
      Thanks,

      • andrew adams

        lurker,

        I’m pretty certain I’ve never predicted an “apocalypse” and even if the worst case scenario (which is very bad) comes to pass no one said this would happen by 2012.
        Meanwhile I continue to read about how trying to cut emissions will destroy our economies, means sending us back to the stone age etc.

      • lurker passing through, laughing

        andrew,
        Note how Australia is dropping their carbon tax asap for how people having to make choices that they are accountable for behave.
        Also, it is surprising to see someone so committed to the consensus, which is predicated on climate apocalypse, denying (ahem) that apocalyptic claims do not play a significant role in the climate consensus. Are you as well informed as you claim?

      • Andrew Adams’

        This may help you to understand the economic consequences of carbon prices to cut CO2 emissions (which means cut GDP) (in the absense of policies to remove the impediments that are blocking the world getting low cost nuclear power (quickly)).
        http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/reality-check.html

        Go to the linked paper, understand the Kaya identity, substitue realistic rates and you will find the only thing that the CO2 price can really affect to the amount required is GDP growth rate. That would have to be reduced to substantially negative for the duration. That means a massive long term depression.

        So don’t just ignore this. Try it for yourself. Ig youy don’t like the site on which the Kaya identity is posted here, then go to Wikipedia or any other site. I’ve quoted this site because if gives a good explanation of the reality.

  46. Hmm … a minor experience in the long history of apocalyptic prediction associated with human guilt, previously posted and inspired by the experiences of a certain ancient mariner.

    When I was walking in a field
    An apocalyptic prophet spoke to me.
    He fixed me with his glittering eye
    And told me of my human infamy.

    ‘The sea will boil, the earth a sultry fireball
    Will become. We eat, we drink and over populate
    The earth … pollute the atmosphere with CO2 ‘…
    He goes on, blah, blah, blah, unceasingly pontificates.

    So then I tell him that the clouds
    Heaped overhead, an imminent catastrophe presage,
    He’d better make it out of here post haste.
    And I am left alone on centre stage.

    I feel the quickening breeze and see
    It brush the waiting grass, and then
    A cricket chirps, the air grows cool
    . . . . . . . . and so it rains!

  47. On anthropogenic Global Warming.

    Can anyone doubt that the 0.45C rise in global temperature between 1905 and 1940 was anthropogenic ? Just one example: Henry Ford made 15 million model T Fords between 1908 and 1927. The low octane rating of the fuel available made their engines inefficient. So they spewed out waste heat as well as excess carbon dioxide (CO2). The IPCC chose to ignore this rise, but we now know that it was mostly caused by CO2. By ignoring it the IPCC failed to realize that there was a natural limit to the amount of energy CO2 could absorb to heat the planet. So they never sought to explain the incredible reversal of temperature rise that happened in 1940. So temperature rise due to CO2 was both true and false. If you looked before 1940 it was true, if you looked after 1940 (until 1970) it was false. So this non-linearity made their task more difficult. In the meantime politicians and economists grabbed the issue and, as they say, the rest is history.

    • Can anyone doubt it? Of course. But do we?

      • Yes, many people doubt it.

        Many of the people who use this site will not countenance climate change could be due to mankind. They are not just skeptics, they reject it

        On the other hand many people believe the IPCC and think we are heading for disaster if we continue to burn fossil fuels.

        So out communities are deeply polarised on the issue and we tend to forget other pressing issues like world population approaching 9 billion.

        So there is little room for compromise on the climate issue. yet compromise is probably the only path open to us.

    • “Can anyone doubt that the 0.45C rise in global temperature between 1905 and 1940 was anthropogenic ?

      Not only can we measure global average temperature to within hundredths of a degree now, but we could in 1905 too?

      Who knew?

    • “Can anyone doubt that the 0.45C rise in global temperature between 1905 and 1940 was anthropogenic ? Just one example: Henry Ford made 15 million model T Fords between 1908 and 1927. The low octane rating of the fuel available made their engines inefficient. So they spewed out waste heat as well as excess carbon dioxide (CO2).”

      Over last 20 year there has about 50 million cars made each, or over 1 billion cars. Or 60 times more than 15 million Model T.
      Any these cars, ten times or more horsepower and twice the mass- and go about 3 times faster. And travel on average more in a year, than Model goes in it’s entire lifetime.
      You might as well worry about CO2 emission of lawn mower.
      US population at 1900 was 76 million, currently it’s 311 million. 311 million people breathing emit more CO2 in year, than 15 million model Ts would have emitted in a year. Is the mere fact of 7 billion human breathing, adding dangerous amount of CO2?
      But even with the hundred of million of cars currently are not causing much CO2 emission- somewhere around 10% of global emission.
      Coal for electricity use in US and in rest world emit more double the emission of cars.
      By 1920’s US coal production was exceeding 600 million tons, 80 to 90 years later it between 1000 to 1200 million tons:
      http://www.duke.edu/~jyw2/Coal_in_Human_History.pdf
      In terms world in 1905:
      UK: 236 million short tons
      US 350 million short tons
      Germany: 173 million short tons
      France: 35 million short tons
      With rest countries less than France
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_coal_mining
      The total coal CO2 emission from the four countries in 1905
      are about current yearly total US emission all US passenger
      cars or less. And would would been far more than from the Model T.
      But all the human yearly CO2 emissions related fossil fuel use during early 20th century would less than 1/8th current levels of human CO2 emission.
      And should have no effect upon Global CO2 levels.

      • gbaikie

        Let’s say “it’s all our fault” that atmospheric CO2 has risen, and that our use of fossil fuels has been the primary root cause.

        WEC 2010 estimates that we still have “inferred possible total recoverable fossil fuel resources” representing 85% of all the fossil fuel resources that ever existed on our planet.

        This means that we have used up 15% to date. Most of this occurred after WWII.

        According to CDIAC estimates, humans used almost 6 times as much total fossil fuels from 1970 to 2000 as they used from 1910 to 1940, yet the warming over the two periods is “statistically indistinguishable” according to Phil Jones and HadCRUT3 data.

        Even IPCC concedes that the models cannot explain the early 20th century warming. So it apparently wasn’t human CO2 causing the 30-year warming cycle occurring between around 1910 and 1940.

        Yet the statistically indistinguishable warming cycle of the late 20th century, between around 1970 and 2000, “can only be explained” by the same climate models principally by the impact of human GHG emissions, primarily CO2.

        Is there a flaw in this logic?

        And doesn’t this flaw have a direct impact on any forecasts by the same models on future global warming?

        Seems to me there is a basic problem, which is only compounded by the past 10-15 years of “no warming”, despite CO2 emissions continuing unabated and CO2 levels reaching record heights.

        Max

      • Manacker, thanks. yes, there is a paradox. Before 1940 the temperature was rising at the abnormal rate of 0.15C/decade. After 1940 it fell just as fast despite rapidly rising CO2. In my opinion, the only possible explanation is non-linearity with respect to CO2. After all, the resonant wavelength of CO2 at the critical wavelength (for earth’s radiation) of about 14.5 microns, like all resonant structures. has limited capacity to absorb energy. That limit was reached in 1940. The temperature rise of about the same amount between 1970 and 2000 was simply the permanent 1940 rise slowly percolating through the oceans. The IPCC missed all this because they failed to properly analyse the 1940 result.

      • You have dismissed, or don’t know about, the possibility of a solar increase from a minimum in 1910 to a more average strength in 1940 despite the evidence of the Be10 solar proxy and sunspot number data. Normally skeptics like to talk about solar effects, and it can account for half of the warming in that very specific period. To me, it fits well with the observations and reduced CO2 effect back then.

    • lurker passing through, laughing

      Alexander,
      Have you actually studied what you are obviously quoting in your post?
      Do you have any idea how trivial the amount of fuel represented by those Model T’s actually is?

  48. ” In the 20th century, science and models are driving apocalyptic predictions.” No you are wrong. If science was driving the predictions the events would come true. Psuedo-science is what is driving the predictions.

    • lurker passing through, laughing

      Patrick,
      That of course is the point. The climate concerned are engaged in a social dysfunction. It is pseudoscience, not science.

  49. The argument is dominated by two tribes that follow equally false gods; the fragile mother Earth for the overly-pessimistic tribe and the magic invisible hand for the overly-optimistic tribe.

    But it is really just a straightforward engineering problem of scrubbing the emissions directly at the chimneys/tailpipes. I propose dissolving them in an H20 mist and draining off the liquid carbon-based fertiliser. I have a simple and cheap design available if anyone is interested. Nobody needs to change their lifestyle or limit their growth.

  50. Matt Ridley makes a lot of good points in his article. But what he says about the ozone hole (that we no longer really are so sure what caused it, that the “fix” by reducing CFC use didn’t have the desired effect), etc. completely off base. It make me wonder what else in the article he just made up, to try to bolster his point.

  51. Civilizations collapse from within.

  52. Summing up: try the government’s approach.
    When you’re worried,
    When in doubt,
    Run in circles;
    Scream and shout. :-D

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