Politics of climate expertise

by Judith Curry

Over at Die Klimazwiebel, Hans von Storch has a provocative post where he provides his answers to recent interview questions on the subject of climate scientists’ attitudes.   The first question is:

1. Climate Science and Political Power: birth of a new relationship
The climate issue has become very prominent in the political agenda and climate science results, methods and outcomes have taken a primary role in the political decision process. Why, in your opinion, climate science has become so important for political power?

Von Storch has some interesting and insightful responses to these questions.  This interview raises some important issues that aren’t often explicitly discussed by climate scientists and policy makers, but they should be.

So what is the “politics of expertise?”  What does this have to do with climate science or climate scientists?  My first encounter with this phrase was last summer, on the occasion of Steve Schneider’s passing.  I went to his web site at Stanford, and was reading a biosketch, and in a listing of his areas of expertise, I saw “politics of expertise.”  I can no longer find this particular link, but apparently it was a topic he often discussed in seminars, etc.

So after googling around and reading a few papers on the subject (e.g. Think Tanks, Public Policy, and the Politics of ExpertiseMassachussetts v EPA: From Politics to Expertise”), this got me thinking about what this might mean in the context of climate science/scientists.  Politics of expertise is how technical expertise gets entrained into the political process and policy making.  Politicians can use science and scientists to achieve political goals, and scientists can use their expertise for political purposes and to influence policy.

One of the questions in that von Storch replied to was:

Q: Who are the most important players, both scientists and politicians, in the history of the relationship between climate science and politics? Who did play the most important role in forging this relationship ? Who are the scientists or politicians that you shouldn’t forget to cite if you are talking about climate science and politics?
HVS: You mean individuals? Bert Bolin would be a name, Stephen Schneider another, Jim Hansen, Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber and Hartmut Grassl in Germany – my view is certainly rather parochial. Al Gore in the US.

Looking at Steve Schneider and Jim Hansen in this context, we see two very different strategies re playing politics with climate expertise.  Jim Hansen has become an activist, and IMO has lessened his political influence (others have different opinions on this, I’m sure).  Steve Schneider is a far more interesting case in this regard (and ultimately more effective IMO), using the strategies of consensus (particularly in the context of the IPCC), elitism in terms of the science and scientists (e.g the PNAS article), and organizing statements from prestigious institutions like the NAS and professional societies.  In short, much of the strategy that proved to be pretty effective until . . . well, climategate.  While effective over a fairly long period, these strategies are no longer effective.

The combination of Schneider’s passing and climategate has arguably been a game changer in this regard.  So what is a concerned climate scientist to do?  By concerned climate scientist, I refer explicitly to the ideology described in this previous thread.   Well, it looks like the Climate Rapid Response Team and the gang at RealClimate have stepped up to the plate.  The strategy seems to be to make themselves available to the media and policy makers to provide the “correct” scientific information, and to debunk articles in the media, the latest example being this post at RC debunking a recent article in Forbes, the RC post authored by Michael Tobis, Scott Mandia with input from Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, and Kevin Trenberth.

So how is this working?  In the RC post on the Forbes article, their frustration is palpable, and they bemoan:

Ultimately, though, the criticism of the press is ludicrous. The naysayers ought to be thrilled at the lack of interest in climate change shown in the press, at least in North America. The longer we delay, the bigger the topic gets, and the more ridiculous the refusal of the press and policy sector to grapple with it becomes.

Tom Yulsman has a post on RC’s post about the Forbes article.  He responds:

So I have some advice for Michael Tobis, Scott Mandia and other scientists who are frustrated that they haven’t been able to get their message across to the public and want to blame it all on journalists: Take a look in the mirror first. Then let’s talk.

Oh my, there are several ways to interpret that one, but “ouch” anyways.

As per the IPCC/UNFCCC ideology, the reason climate scientists want to get the message across is to influence politics and policy to do something (preferably the UNFCCS solution) about climate change.  My thoughts on playing politics with climate expertise?  Don’t, unless you are knowledgeable about policy and understand politics.  Michael Oppenheimer in his recent AGU talk has some sage advice in this regard.

561 responses to “Politics of climate expertise

  1. My thoughts on playing politics with climate expertise? Don’t, unless you are knowledgeable about policy and understand politics.

    And if you’re a climate scientist, you aren’t, and you don’t.

    So shut up.

    • Nice.

    • On the contrary, every science needs spokespeople at the policy table. That is where the money comes from. And in the climate case the stakes are much higher than mere funding. Not engaging is not a universal option. Policy is made in a room full of shouting people, not in a vacuum.

    • Dr. Curry was explaining her reasons for not getting involved in the policy process.

      Personally, I have a lot of admiration for people realizing their limits and treading carefully around them.

      I do not have any respect for people blithely ignoring such limits and sticking their noses where they don’t belong – especially if their lack of expertise, tact and knowledge can have severe impact on a lot of people’s lives.

      • Of course you’re “right”, but you’re also “wrong”. If we choose to speak, what we say and how we say it and to whom we say it and where and when we say it can all weigh of the significance. So too can our silent moments by the same measures. If we choose to not speak, what we don’d say and how we don’t say it and to whom we don’t say it and where and when we don’t say it can all weigh of the significance as well. Speaking is action. Not speaking is action too.

        Don’t you just hate it when, in your silence, you are misread and “heard” to be agreeing with people you do not agree with. Politicians aren’t the only ones who read silence as consent.

      • Pascvaks, that is true. Well said.

  2. “The strategy seems to be to make themselves available to the media and policy makers to provide the “correct” scientific information, and to debunk articles in the media, the latest example being this post at RC debunking a recent article in Forbes, the RC post authored by Michael Tobis, Scott Mandia with input from Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, and Kevin Trenberth.”

    Your quotation marks around correct are a bit odd. Is the information given in response to the Forbes article not correct without a need for quote marks? Does the existence of the Forbes article not indicate a need to provide information to the media which can be defined as correct without a need for quote marks?

    “Oh my, there are several ways to interpret that one, but “ouch” anyways.”

    I don’t see any “ouch” in there, “Take a look in the mirror first” is frankly juvenile and relies entirely on people who’ve already formed an opinion concerning the individuals tittering.

    • Irony, irony, irony.
      that you cannot even imagine a reason for consensus promoters to look in a mirror says volumes.

    • You playing Devil’s Avacado again sharper? Haven’t we established that a clique of Climate Scientists who write articles for a website (RC) run by Fenton Communications, a left-wing marketing organisation with links to Al Gore (himself with a financial interest in AGW), are incapable of providing unbiased input into the political process. They are activists and should be treated just like any other lobbyist in the political process.

      If you’re advocating rule by disinterested philosopher Kings, as Plato would have put it, I’m afraid the disinterested part is somewhat ambiguous when it comes to Mann, Schmidt et al.

  3. Judith,

    You listed Schneider’s strategies, but omitted that one of them was to ignore inconvenient responses. I had personal experience of this, when I wrote and then spoke on AGW three years ago. SS, who was then in Australia, was wheeled in to demolish me on radio, which he did by ignoring what I had said, and then wall-papering away to show that everything the IPCC had said was plain unvarnished truth. His tone admitted no uncertainty. It was the voice of the headmaster. He talked down to his audience, and dismissed me, as though he were a completely unchallengeable authority.

    Well, of course I bridled, and wrote him an email. Given a couple of the recent threads, I feel able to provide a bit of it:

    ‘ I am increasingly struck by the similarity of the AGW debate to the struggle between the Church of Rome and the Protestant dissenters in the 16th century and afterwards. The Church claimed the right to mediate between the believer and God, while the Protestants argued that each of us could establish a personal communication with God. Throughout your talk I could hear someone talking in the tones of ‘received wisdom’. My sceptical, protestant mind begins to object as soon as I hear anyone talk like this, no matter how many years they have worked in a field, no matter how many peer-reviewed papers they have published, no matter what their title. They are claiming authority. I don’t accept it.’

    I still don’t. Debate is central to the advancement of knowledge. Well , I received a reply from his office to say that Dr Schneider was travelling and would attend to my communication when he returned. He doubtless returned, but he never attended. I thought that was plain rude, but no doubt such an eminence had many calls on his time.

    It encourages me that we now can participate in a debate, not only here (and what great good you did in establishing ‘Climate etc’) but in the wider world. The great sins of the earlier period, in my opinion, were talking down, refusing to debate and ignoring inconvenient replies. Schneider exemplified them. I think that phase is passing.

    • I’m not a fan of Dr Schneider either. His notorious quote balancing the duties of the scientist

      …to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts.

      with the desire of the activist to:

      [get] loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.

      struck me as exactly the sort of self-serving arrogance we see from scientists like Schneider, his friend and Stanford colleague Paul Ehrlich, and the Climategate gang that has collapsed the credibility of climate science.

      Why aren’t these scientists in disgrace? Why are they still spokesmen for climate change? Why don’t other scientists realize at least the PR problem these scientists have caused?

      As long as people like Schmidt, Mann, Trenberth et al. remain the public face of climate science I’ll take it as read that climate science is corrupt and unreliable.

      ” Take a look in the mirror first. Then let’s talk.”

      Indeed. Aside from Dr. Curry, I see no indication that climate scientists are even aware that there is a mirror that needs looking into.

    • This was a very interesting post, Don, thanks for sharing.

      Being somewhat of an Occamist (preferring simple explanations), I would usually hesitate to invoke comparisons of CAGW with historical controversies of such immense magnitude of the Protestant Reformation. However, there are some parallels that I think can be helpful to point out.

      If CAGW is considered as parallel to the Roman Catholic Church, it is important to remember that as a result of the Protestant movement started by Luther (and carried on by a multitude of intellectuals and rulers and ordinary folk), Catholicism entered a very crucial phase of self-examination known as the Counter-Reformation. The Council of Trent in the mid-16th century was the main formal vehicle for the Counter-Reformation, and it involved serious examination of many if not most of the points of doctrine and ecclesiastical practice upon which the Protestants had based their objections. Basically, it was the Roman Catholic Church saying “yes, there are numerous areas in which we as an institution have failed and gone astray, and we need to do a lot of fixing.” The Counter-Reformation was successful in that it helped spur a wave of renewal in Catholicism, and it gave impetus to some of the most rapid missionary expansion in the entire history of the Catholic Church.

      It is important to note that from the point of view of most Protestants, the Council of Trent symbolized regression, because it reasserted certain core Catholic beliefs very strongly, beliefs that Protestants rejected and would continue to reject. But it did address many of the extremes and abuses that had cropped up in Catholicism.

      One of these extremes was the ridiculously exaggerated claims to possession of relics It is said, for example, that if you added up all the slivers of would that were adored as having come from the cross of Christ, you could have made a thousand crosses. These claims obviously could not have all been true, and they certainly presented a fat target for mockery by skeptical Protestants. I mention the relics issue because it reminds me of the myriad of “relics” that poorly catechized CAGW believers point to as evidence of global warming or affirmation of the general view that they hold regarding climate change. I am speaking, of course, of the hundreds of bogus linkages to global warming that crop up in the media and have been archived (a lot of them, at least) at the warmlist, http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

      Now, the saner Catholics and the well educated of the Church understood that a lot of the claims that had been made were reckless and unsupportable. They understood that these bogus claims were a problem, and they worked to counter them. However, they faced very much the same problem that believers in CAGW face: if they were to call attention to the bogus and exaggerated claims made by their fellows, it could tend to delegitimize the Church altogether.

      The Catholic Counter-Reformation was a difficult balancing act. It seems to me that those who have an institutional commitment to the basic perspective of catastrophic man-made global warming are presented with similar options. Do they need a quick response team to shoot down errors whenever the crop up in public? RealClimate, meet the Jesuit order. Do they need a renewed commitment to the infallibility of the the creed? Affirm the integrity and irreplaceability of the Pope, or affirm Raj Pachauri.

      I would suggest that in the great battle over Climate Science, the CAGW forces at large have yet to understand the need for a Counter-Reformation. Steve McIntyre’s most recent posts at Climate Audit have confirmed that, and at the level of popular science journalism, there likewise does not not yet seem to be the needed critical mass of leadership that recognizes of the magnitude of the “Reformation” forces represented by the “skeptics” (or if you prefer, the “deniers/heretics.”)

      The story of the Prostestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation does not (in my view at least) present any easily definable “winners” and “losers.” Rather, through the churning and often ugly and violent historical process of conflict, confrontation, and re-examination, both Prostestantism and Catholicism evolved into entities distinctly different than what they were in the 16th century, though of course they retained recognizable identities over the long span of time.

      Taking the long view, I think the CAGW conflict will be much the same. It is, I think, probably naive to believe that either side is ultimately going to “win” the battle. Because it really isn’t a battle about mere facts that can be empirically proved or disproved. It touches on much deeper issues of meaning and values and commitments. And since it isn’t even about “warming” per se, it can transform in a variety of ways, so that core commitments and identities can be preserved into new generations. The past is always preserved. It never completely dies.

      Sure, it will be clear in hindsight (and is already evident) that many of the players in the battle have made serious errors and have even committed abominable crimes. Some of the very same people who have made errors and participated in crimes have also displayed great courage and strength. Some may be declared saints by partisans of a future generation, (St. Steve S. or St. Steve M., perhaps?) while other partisans label the same individuals as schemers, deceivers and heretics. A lot of the participants will be seen to have been sincere seekers and not partisans at all, some in fact to have been noble in their efforts to span the differences and seek both truth and harmony amid the most difficult strife.

      I hate to end on an agnostic note, but it’s a fate common to historians. Looking at the broad sweep of things tends to dump quite a bit of cold water on the fervency of the present moment. One thing’s for sure–the present will soon be the past. And as the past, it will be easier to see how it compares with other segments of the past.

      • Ken,

        Great little essay, with which I wholly agree, right through to the end. I’m writing a piece for a public address I’ll be giving in a few weeks that includes the following, which echoes your last paragraph:

        ‘Perhaps I should add that dozens of new articles appear each month in the academic literature that could be relevant to AGW, and some of these are pounced on as showing that X was right all along, or that Y’s view is confuted. Those with experience in all this will know that, ten years later, few of these articles will have any bearing on anything.’

      • Thanks for the comments, Don & Michael.

        Don, I think your quote is on target. Most of us, as humans, are creatures of the present moment, and the knowledge we possess (or think we possess) is valuable to us only as it concerns fundamentally utilitarian issues. As we go through life we continually discard that knowledge and those memories that aren’t useful, or don’t fit with present concerns. We are also continually reshaping memories and knowledge, to make it consistent with what we feel to be our present needs. American philosopher William James described this process very well, and it is also illuminated by a too little known discipline known as the Sociology of Knowledge.

        Studying history–particularly intellectual history–one is confronted with huge amounts of knowledge that (whether true or not) was considered at certain times and by certain persons & groups to be indispensable and certain. Thomas Kuhn decided to become a philosopher and historian of science due to his great fascination with discarded certainties. Kuhn’s best known insight–that scientific knowledge is preserved and advanced largely due to its ability to reinforce shared commitments that he called paradigms, and that it is discarded when no longer supported by an adequate paradigm–is one of the most useful insights available for thinking about any kind of controversial science claims.

        In my opinion, the CAGW movement and the shifting claims and controversies surrounding the broader environmentalist movement, presents an unbelievably rich field for students of the history and philosophy of science. The most interesting questions for me have never been about whether the planet’s average temperature is going up or down, or whether and how much CO2 is causing it. They are more fundamental, and have to do with epistemology and the nature of us as all-too-human beings, and how we make our way in the world.

      • While I agree very much with your closing paragraph, either we do or we don’t have a very real problem. Epistemology can wait.

        Kuhn is brilliant and a great read, but in the end he remains a relativist. The ice caps are not interested in our epistemology any more than they are interested in our politics or indeed in our science.

        If you are looking for historical analogies, the bishops refusing to look through Galileo’s telescope is a better one.

        e pur si scioglie

      • Michaal Tobis wrote, “either we do or we don’t have a very real problem. Epistemology can wait.”

        Actually, epistemology deals with the foundations of knowledge. If we are to “know” whether we have a problem or not–and how severe it is and how it might be remedied–don’t we have to consider epistemology? I’m only suggesting that epistemology be considered in a more detached fashion than is usually the case.

        I agree that there is a big gap between relativism and activism. I am more on the relativism side, though not entirely.

      • AnyColourYouLike

        “Kuhn’s best known insight–that scientific knowledge is preserved and advanced largely due to its ability to reinforce shared commitments that he called paradigms, and that it is discarded when no longer supported by an adequate paradigm”

        Yup, and when cAGW is eventually discarded, as I believe it will be, perhaps some latter-day Milton will write a great epic poem called Paradigm Lost.

      • AnyColourYouLike


        As someone brought up a catholic myself, don’t forget about the medieval Catholic Church and money (or “tithes”) – basically taxes paid to commute sins that made the church very rich….sound familiar?

      • Yes, thanks, there are many parallels. By the way, I am not a Catholic but am quite sympathetic to a great deal of Catholic thinking about humanity and the natural world.

      • Michael Larkin

        Delightful (and insightful) piece, Ken. Much enjoyed! :-)

      • Seconded!

      • Very well done! Now, how about an equally penetrating analogic analysis, but with the AGW lot as the Saracen hoards at the Gates of Vienna? A much closer parallel, IMO.

      • Brian, when I first read your suggestion I thought it was probably humorous, but on second thought, you may have the seed of an important idea. Down through human history there are countless efforts by civilizations to expand militarily and culturally, and efforts to resist that spread. Islamic expansion has a prominent place in this record.

        But I would highlight even more the expansionism of Europeans into Africa and Asia during the post industrial revolution period of the late 19th and early 20th century. The Europeans had superior weapons and communications, but arguably the most interesting part of their hegemonic program was their profoundly arrogant ideology of cultural superiority.

        I believe a case can be made that the arrogance of the Victorians in India, or example, mirrors very well the arrogance of the scientific elite that has persuaded itself that it possesses the key to redeeming the world from the destructive, savage barbarity of a carbon-driven economy. The contempt in which it holds those who reject its mission and mandates looks to me very much like the contempt of a colonial master toward an “uneducated” African or Indian tribal leader.

      • Ken,
        For me the better and more current historical comparison has been to study eugenics.
        Eugenics combined a theory of the application of evolutionary science, huge popularity with the intellectual and political elites, current prejudice hidden behind scientific veneer, and an unquestionable list of policy demands, many of which became law.
        The ultimate applications of eugenics I will leave to others to talk about. I do not want to be accused of violating any current social taboos or laws.

      • Hunter,

        Yes, I agree about Eugenics. This topic ought to be much better known. I see a lot of continuity of eugenicist philosophy with contemporary environmentalist philosophy. Both regard the unregulated expansion of humanity as a disaster. Both regard the physical world as a place of fixed and finite resources, while vastly undervaluing the creative potential of free people in justly ordered societies.

        This past year I spent quite a bit of time perusing reader comments responding to articles about climate change published online in left-of-center journals. I was initially shocked by the sheer number of comments insisting the overpopulation is the real disaster. I finally realized that Malthusianism (of a very rabid sort) is alive and well and growing among educated circles.

      • We use about a millionth of the sun’s energy to sustain human life. A very tiny increase in the efficiency of our use of that energy would sustain much more human life than we have now. The Neo-Malthusians suffer most from a lack of imagination.

      • Here’s a quick source of some relevant stats, including the UN’s best population prediction algorithm, the lowest edge of the lowest band of their brackets, which says peak at under 8bn by 2030, then slow decline.

        Some hair-raising quotes, suggesting the greenists’ goal is a reduction by up to 95% of global pop’n. All happy serfs feeding their masters (guess who), no doubt.

  4. Thanks for the link. I guess any publicity is good publicity.

    Tom Yulsman (along with Keith Kloor here) is responding to a single sentence made in passing about the mainstream press. I am glad that the topic of how the general press should be handling this matter has come up, but it’s peculiar that it should be as a result of our RC piece.

    The thrust of the RC piece is about and instance insertion of false information into the debate through ostensibly responsible branches of the business press. This has been going on for years, and its consequences may end up being very severe.

    Still, the question Yulsman and Kloor raise is a good one.

    The criticism many have made of the general press is primarily the underemphasis of the whole climate/sustainability story and secondarily the tendency to false balance, wherein fringe scientists are used to provide counterbalance to the mainstream. This frustration leaked out in a single sentence. It was probably a tactical error to do that as it muddied the very distinct message about Forbes (and the Wall Street Journal and similar outlets).

    As far as “scientists who are frustrated that they haven’t been able to get their message across to the public and want to blame it all on journalists: Take a look in the mirror first” goes, for present purposes I am not a scientist but a scientifically educated journalist.

    There’s blame everywhere. But there really is no normative structure for scientists. Shutting up and speaking out both can be criticized as unethical and both can be criticized as ineffective. As Paul Baer once said, it’s really pathetic that the job of scaring people far enough out of their wits enough to take action falls to scientists, a group of people who are spectacularly ill-suited to the task.

    You’d think the press would have a role in conveying the risks.

    Now, I’m aware that many if not most of the commenters here find ways to convince themselves that the consensus is incompetent or even dishonest. They presumably will not like this comment, but it isn’t especially addressed to them. This addresses the question of whether the problem in communication that is behind this mistrust is due to the press or to the scientific community. I think the real answer is that if the press won’t do it, some other institution is needed, to replace the job the press ought to be doing.

    • Michael,
      The problem is that the press is promoting apocalyptic clap trap.
      The fault lies in two directions: Those scientists claiming ‘tipping points’ etc. and those in the media who let them get away with it for decades.

    • Michael Tobin: Come on. The press has carried quite a lot of water for the climate change movement and as a result about a third of the population has been officially scared out of its wits. (See Human life will cease to exist on earth.)

      For instance, you can barely read any article about an environmental problem which does not circle back to a root cause of climate change, whether it makes sense or not. (My favorite example is the man-eating giant squid story.

      The climate change movement complains plenty about the press without acknowledging that mostly the press has been in their pocket and done the job.

      • I think their real complaint is that they didn’t deliver what was promised and wanted: unfettered control of the public mind and purse. But they’ve come close, too damned close.

      • The job is not done until the general public understands the risk and finds a way to reduce net global carbon emissions to a safe level, i.e., approximately zero.

        Most of us advocating for this do not care what way that is. We are interested in discussing various approaches to it so it isn’t about control. It’s about observing a constraint imposed by nature.

        A big slice of the public wrongly believes we are fools or frauds. This is wrong, and depends on versions of history that are plainly bizarre; bad spy movie material.

        Scientists are clearly politically incompetent, though. Everybody concedes this. But as I said before, there are no norms for this situation. There is no scientific behavior at all that cannot be harshly criticized, once science discovers an unexpected threat.

      • Michael,
        Repeating the demands of people who have shown themselves to be unreliable is not progressing the issue.
        That you are a strong believer in the consensus claims makes you sincere but does not make you or them correct.
        Scientists, as eugenics demonstrated, are not always politically incompetent.
        There are norms for this situation:
        They involve scientists being held to normal ethical standards and for journalists to put down their pom-poms and return to let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may skepticism.

      • Hmmm. False Balance. Are you the last to understand that there is a real controversy here?

      • I don’t see much sign of real controversy among scientists about the matters that exercise your doubters’ club and that get in the press as false balance. Such real controversy as exists is mostly outside science, at least as conventionally practiced.

        Consider that a consortium of climate scientists from the leading Texas universities published an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle supporting the IPCC consensus, which included the following claim:

        “The reality of these key points is not just our opinion. The national academies of science of 32 nations, and every major scientific organization in the United States whose members include climate experts, have issued statements endorsing these points. The entire faculty of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M as well as the Climate System Science group at the University of Texas have issued their own statements endorsing these views (atmo.tamu.edu/weather-and-climate/climate-change-statement; http://www.ig.utexas.edu/jsg/css/statement.html). In fact, to the best of our knowledge, there are no climate scientists in Texas who disagree with the mainstream view of climate science.”

        See the article for the key points.Lem me repeat for emphasis:

        there are no climate scientists in Texas who disagree with the mainstream view of climate science.”

        A single person might have refuted that. As far as I know it has not been done. We Texans are not known for being shy with our opinions.

        So where is the controversy? On blogs, on Fox, and elsewhere in the libertarian press. It is not in the relevant sciences except in a couple of tiny enclaves.

      • AnyColourYouLike


        Shouldn’t that be:

        “there are no climate scientists in Texas who disagree with the mainstream view of climate science…as the only way to ensure continued funding and tenure in their current post”?

      • You don’t know any Texans, do you?

      • I could provide a list of engineers and physicists who have studied the issue who disagree with your conclusions and who live in Texas. That said, it is meaningless. It matters no a bit who supports the position, but whether the position is ultimately correct.

      • Michael, I am a Texan. I have followed thatstory, and I know that Dr. D, who pushed through that statement, is one of the most politically active climate scientists in the US, having served as climate hysteria promoter in the Clinton years.
        Notice that the statement does not include any specifics, if I recall. When Dr N-G is asked what it would take to falsify AGW, he claims it would take finding out CO2 is not a ghg. That is a useless statement, since it does not take a surprise in CO2 physics to have positive feedbacks go away. Dr. Spencer, for example, has offered a compelling and credible explanation for what is happening in climate. Since what is happening is certainly not what was predicted by Hansen, etc.

        So now skeptics are in a doubter’s club?
        Can you true believers even conceive of how everything you say about us is couched in paranoiac or demeaning terms (and false) terms?
        But the very basis of the paper is meaningless anyway, unless you are going to continue to rely on arguments by consensus.

      • The main controversy is over climate sensitivity to CO2, which is not determined. Everything else flows from this. I don’t know why you deny this honest controversy; it seems evident.

      • Kim,
        Michael is declining to spend any time or effort in reviewing his assumptions and conclusions.
        He seems very committed to avoiding that.

      • Dr. Tobis, again I say, the science is no longer the arena. Most everybody on this and even Anthony’s forum, understand the basic principle of radiative physics.

        The arena’s are now,

        i) – with the chaotic state of the atmosphere, can we literally take the experimental understanding of radiative physics out of the lab and apply it “as is” to the system?

        ii) – Why is there such panic about rising temps? Why do so many from the pro-consensus realm BELIEVE that rising temps equal catastrophy? Because of some computer models?
        iii) – If we look at even the recent history of the planet, and take the rising temp from the end of the little ice age, has not the biosphere become more hospitable to life?

        I am sure that others here can add more areanas that are of a sceptical interest to them. The fear mongering that has occured in my life alone, that has NEVER panned out, is the main driving force behind my decision to look optimistcally towards the warmer future and to help my children too also see the glass as half full.

      • It is interesting what scientists will sign up for when they get involved in politics.

        From the Op-Ed:

        • • Human activities produce heat-trapping gases.

        Any time we burn a carbon-containing fuel such as coal or natural gas or oil, it releases carbon dioxide into the air. Carbon dioxide can be measured coming out of the tailpipe of our cars or the smokestacks of our factories. Other heat-trapping gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, are also produced by agriculture and waste disposal. The effect of these gases on heat energy in the atmosphere is well understood, including factors such as the amplification of the warming by increases in humidity.

        • • Heat-trapping gases are very likely [presumably 95% certain] responsible for most of the warming observed over the past half century.

        There is no question that natural causes, such as changes in energy from the sun, natural cycles and volcanoes, continue to affect temperature today. Human activity has also increased the amounts of tiny, light-scattering particles within the atmosphere. But despite years of intensive observations of the Earth system, no one has been able to propose a credible alternative mechanism that can explain the present-day warming without heat-trapping gases produced by human activities [being “95% certain” over something that isn’t properly explained].

      • HAS,
        I had forgotten that part.
        Dr. Dessler,who wrote that and promoted it at A&M, is a political activist.
        He demonstrates this in his claims that the process is well understood- which is falsified by what has been learned about ARGOS and the sun and his won failed predictions about upper atmosphere, but be claiming even today that skeptics must show why the cliamte is doing what it is doing.
        That he got the faculty at A&M to go along for his ride on this says more about their peer gullibility and his salesmanship, and nothing about the science.

      • Michael,

        invoking “authorities”?

        I am a member of some German scientific and engineering societies. Where the members asked to cast a vote? Not that I recall.

      • ‘the job is not done until’
        Depends entirely on what you think the job is.

      • The job is getting the problem understood well enough by enough people that a solution is implemented that minimizes permanent large scale damage to the earth.

        Until that happens we are not ethically free to just be value-free scientists as we were trained to be.

      • I beseech thee, in the Guts of Gaia, to consider that you might be wrong.

      • Again? OK, I will do it again if you do. Deal?

      • I consider every day that I might be wrong. That’s why what I believe about climate has evolved in the years I’ve been studying it. I understand that CO2 has a radiative effect in the laboratory. You have no idea, nor does anyone else, what its net effect in the atmosphere is.

      • Kim (and michael)
        “I consider every day that I might be wrong”

        This is a brilliant statement. Every scientist should do this regularly. I often, purposley set out to try and prove MYSELF wrong on cAGW. It is the only way I can be sure i’m not being blinded by bias/ideal.

        I use this appraoch in my day to day work too- if i’ve got a theory, that seems to be working- BEFORE it moves into implementation, i do every damn thing i can to destroy it. If it holds- it’s good and i continue, if it isnt, i refine and try again.

        “Until that happens we are not ethically free to just be value-free scientists as we were trained to be.”

        Then i’m afraid you can no longer call yourself a scientist in my book. Ths second you take up the activist route, is the second you loose impartiality- as the ’cause’ is TOO important to fail. This one statement is indicative of the level of science surrounding cAGW.

      • And who do you think this group of people would be?

      • For practical purposes, the people who most importantly need to be convinced are American Republicans, who have been presented with a very skewed reportage.

      • Heh, you’re never going to figure it out with this attitude.

      • Skewed reporting?
        If you are confessing to being part of a media a cliamte apocalypse cheerleader squad instead of a journalist, then everyone has been exposed to very skewed reporting.
        If you are making the claim that somehow the airwaves are filled with skeptical points, then you are either deliberately misleading people or really need to get out of the echo chamber you are in.

      • This point of view does create a problem if you are wrong.

        Not just for science (who will do the value free science that might elucidate the problems with the current consensus) but also for politics (where will the policy makers go to get the information to balance the risks of getting it wrong).

        I’d encourage value free science if I were you. If you are right you have nothing to fear.

        I’d also encourage you to be politically active if that is your want. But don’t complain if you run into political activism on the way back. The Forbes/RC stuff is about politics not science, if only because you as an author tells us you are not value free in your science. You are serving your greater cause.

      • “…permanent large scale damage to the earth?”

        Permanent large scale damage? After billions of years of volcanic upheaval, meteor strikes, interminable ice ages, and periods of warmth far exceeding today’s temperatures, isn’t poor, weak little Earth lucky to have these few, valiant, misunderstood climate warriors to save it from permanent large scale damage by us all-powerful humans?

        Talk about delusions of grandeur. On a thread about the politics of climate expertise, you might want to dial it down just a tiny notch.

      • There have been a half dozen or so previous events of massive large scale damage to the earth’s biosphere, but none of them were initiated by conscious agents who had the capacity to know better.


      • Michael,
        You are concluding that there is a problem of crisis proportions.
        Skeptics keep pointing out that is a conclusion lacking evidence.
        Yet instead of discussing that problem, you simply repeat yourself more loudly.

      • Keep hitting the enter button too quickly.
        Humans could not do large scale damage to the Earth if we set out to do it deliberately.
        We cannot blow it up to bits, we cannot dry up the oceans, we cannot destroy major mountain ranges, we cannot remove the atmosphere, we cannot sink continents.
        Using hyperbole that is patent non-sense does not make your case stronger.

      • We can, however, kill off the amphibians, apparently.

        When was the last time you saw or heard a frog? They seem to have suddenly become rare, don’t they?

      • is that the huge danger you are concerned about….a potential frog shortage in the US? I am not aware of any data indicating a shortage of frogs that is tied to higher CO2 levels

      • Frogs, uh?

        In the village in the foothills in the German Alps me and my family are spending late-spring holidays for more than ten years now, the night-time communication of frogs is the major setback :-)

      • I have frogs in my pond every year. I know. I have ears.
        Funny how they become a lot more numerous in warm weather, yet they don’t like global warming. Really funny that…

      • What does the amphibian fungus have to do with CO2?
        As an active herper, I can tell you the answer is: nothing.
        Amphibians are fine if they are given habitat.
        In my neighborhood in an old part of Houston we were ‘given’ flood control facility that holds rain water most of the time. In the four years it has been here, we have had a huge increase in the numbers of frogs and toads. Including bull frogs, tree frogs (including hyla cinera) and a large variety of toads.
        In fact what you point is one of the hidden problems with the CO2 obsession: opportunity cost.
        The money and effort being wasted on promoting the CO2 apocalypse story could have been spent on mitigating environmental impacts of humans on actual environments.
        Instead it is spent doing the climate equivalent of searching for splinters of the true cross.
        That you are a devout believer in this latest apocalypse story is what it is. That you are seeking to impose your beliefs about it on all of us and admit to feeling no constraints should, if you took a moment of honest introspection, give you some real pangs of conscience and changes in your views and demands and tactics.

      • In Germany they have actual frog crossing underpasses so they don’t get squished by passing cars during migration. Yes Yes, habitat destruction NOT CO2.

      • Come past my place after rain and bring a pair of headphones – the cacophony from the many species of frogs actually hurts your ears!

      • Michael Larkin

        “The job is getting the problem understood well enough by enough people that a solution is implemented that minimizes permanent large scale damage to the earth.

        “Until that happens we are not ethically free to just be value-free scientists as we were trained to be.”

        May the good Lord preserve us all from self-righteous tub-thumping. As a matter of fact, I think He might have by providing us all with the ability to switch off in the face of bombastic, neverending, boneshakingly boring, embarrassingly narcissistic apocalypticism. Not to mention inbuilt BS detection.

        Tub-thump all one will; it will only increase scepticism and send one in ever-decreasing circles up one’s own fundament.

      • This how a hoax dies. In this instance, it is not an AGW True Believer having a ‘come to Jesus’ moment and repenting the misery, poverty and death of innocents that his or her superstitious ignornce might have wrought but by the rest of us turning away from shadows on wall in Platos prison cave and stepping outside into the light.

      • Until that happens we are not ethically free to just be value-free scientists as we were trained to be.

        Science is the art of seeking the objective truth, even when that truth flies in the face of the most deeply-held beliefs of its practitioners.

        If you’re allowing your beliefs to get in the way, then you cannot call yourself a practitioner of science.

      • If you’re allowing your beliefs to get in the way, then you cannot call yourself a practitioner of science.

        Absolutely right!

        Nobody is advocating for bias. What would be the point of science if it were biased?

        The question is whether we can stop when our results are in the journals, when the press is not succeeding in conveying the importance and general outline of the results to the public.

        Nothing trumps the scientific ethic of objectivity and neutrality, because without it there is no science. Other ethics do trump the secondary scientific ethic of detachment and disengagement though.

        Given the results as they stand, it appears ethically necessary to some of us convey those results even in the face of partisan hostility. This is NOT turning out to be a good deal for the personal interest of those who insist on doing so.

      • There is the science

        and there are opinions as to what should be done as a result of the conclusions one reaches about the science.

        Your conclusions are not universally agreed to largely because they do not pass a simple cost benefit analysis

      • Do you have a reference for the cost benefit analysis in question?

      • You actually finally responded to one of my questions, and point out that I have no such analysis.

        Then I am not proposing the implementation of a cap and trade tax policy and you seem to be. I have already pointed out in other posts that I find it highly doubtful that the United States implementing such a policy would cost the economy (as compared to other world economies that did not have the same tax policies) and it does not appear that the impact to worldwide CO2 would have a meaningful difference to the US.

        Can you show any data that would indicate my conclusion is incorrect?

      • How to shift the burden of proof in one easy step:

        > Can you show any data that would indicate my conclusion is incorrect?

      • Are you trying to say, “the science is settled”?

        Oh, sorry, according to RC, that’s only ever been said by sceptics – you know, the well-known sceptics like Al Gore and John Prescott, to name just two.

      • Micheal,
        You are advocating for bias and anything else it takes to get people to agree with you.

      • The job is not done until the general public understands the risk and finds a way to reduce net global carbon emissions to a safe level, i.e., approximately zero.

        The job will be done and dusted when the trough is dried up of public funds and the last of the snouts is dragged away kicking and screaming.

      • Strangely, nature cares not whether or not we study it, and how that work is funded.

        Eliminating science funding won’t make global warming go away.

      • Richard S Courtney

        And it will not make it happen, either.

        Much like CO2 emissions, really.


      • One of the more, ahhh, “interesting” comments I’ve read.

        Are you of the belief that if climate science wasn’t funded, AGW wouldn’t exist?

      • Erm… there is actually an argument there D64….

      • “Yes”, what, Ken?

        If we were ignorant of the climate system, all the indicators of AGW simply would not be? Please explain.

      • Roger Caiazza

        Maybe what the other commenters are trying to suggest is that there is a possibility that if we fully understood the climate system that all, most, or some of the indicators you ascribe to AGW may not of a result of greenhouse gas effects on the radiation balance. Can you concede that there is a possibility of some other cause that cannot be cured by reducing CO2 emissions?

      • Don’t you think the climate science community has looked at non-anthropogenic CO2 hypotheses and found them insufficient in terms of explanatory power?

      • D64, the theory that humans, industriously busy on the 14.5% of the earth’s surface that is useful to us, does anything measurable to global climate is a stupid, made-up, clueless, empty concept endorsed by the hockey stick bitter-clingers. There is no evidence to support this theory…there are only correlations and wildly elaborate storylines. If the team was de-funded…the idea of human-caused global warming would go exactly where it belongs…into the dustbin of history.

      • The idea might go away, Ken, but CO2 would still be opaque to IR, Arctic sea ice would still decline, glaciers would still retreat and melt, growing seasons would still change, various species would still move poleward and upward, etc.

        Ignorance of the effects we’re having on the climate system doesn’t make those effects non-existent. Duh.

      • Roger Caiazza

        I do not think that the climate science community has paid sufficient attention to alternative possibilities to completely dismiss the chance that other hypotheses are valid. There isn’t a lot of funding available for anything but analysis of anthropogenic hypotheses related to GHG emissions and, being the cynic I am, suspect that many researchers would be loath to do that kind of analysis and run the risk of being a labeled a denier. Moreover I believe that most of the attributing work relies on models that cannot be verified. My experience is that even models that can be verified get the right answers for the wrong reasons. In this case it would be very easy to tweak the parameterizations to get whatever answer you want.

      • “…if climate science wasn’t funded, AGW wouldn’t exist?” Precisely so.

      • And if the IPCC didn’t exist, according to Rajendra Pachauri**, no one would even be “worried” about climate change. Well, even though he didn’t specifically say so, no one except the hard-core believers such as those the IPCC anoints designates as chosen acolytes (and self-appointed lesser-lights such as Michael Tobis and the pseudonymous ‘echo64).


        “let’s face it, that the whole subject of climate change having become so important is largely driven by the work of the IPCC. If the IPCC wasn’t there, why would anyone be worried about climate change?” [emphasis added -hro]


      • Strangely, nature cares not whether or not we study it, and how that work is funded

        No, but funnily enough, our conclusions do.

      • Michael, your arrogance is simply stunning. It has been cooling slightly since 1998 and even after climategate, how anyone can so blindly advocate as you do is beyond comprehension. Doubling CO2 is more than likely to benefit society than not. You are a dangerous journalist, if you can be categorized as that.

      • How to preface a comment with an #adhominem:

        > Michael, your arrogance is simply stunning.

      • Hmmm, better be kind Williard, lest someone enumerates the plentiful logical fallacies from someone who never ceases to audit.

      • Try me.

      • So science should not be tested?
        I would think that your one sentence contains a bigger and more glaring fallacy than anything anyone else has offered, and in fewer words.

      • > So science should not be tested?

        /1. Where does anyone say that science should not be tested, whatever that means?

        /2. In what sense would it be a fallacy?

        /3. What does “testing science” even means?

        /4. How is this question related to this actual discussion?

        No evidence, no explicit reasoning, no clear semantics, no relevance.

        And everyone’s complaining about D64…

      • Roger Caiazza

        Michael Tobis clearly stated the raison d’être of the Team:
        “The job is not done until the general public understands the risk and finds a way to reduce net global carbon emissions to a safe level, i.e., approximately zero.”
        “Most of us advocating for this do not care what way that is. We are interested in discussing various approaches to it so it isn’t about control. It’s about a constraint imposed by nature.”

        Freely translated this means that the team believes the general public must realize that without a reduction of global carbon emissions to the point where they no longer accumulate there will be an inevitable catastrophes due to climate disruption. When they understand that risk they will be willing to accept the controls necessary to reduce carbon emissions. Unstated here but clear in the “message” elsewhere is the urgency to act now.

        I am a meteorologist in the energy sector. It is astounding to me that these learned scientists are so unaware of the economic trade-offs between the carbon economy and their idealistic vision of the clean, green, carbon-free economy that they apparently believe could be easily attained with minimal effort. Based on my experience I am convinced that the reductions I hear suggested (e.g. 80% of the 1990 emissions by 2050), are unrealistic and never will be implemented because of the cost and the life style changes that would be required to reach those limits.

        Most of the Team vilifies Roger Pielke, Jr. but I suggest they swallow their bile and do their own Kaya Identity analysis as he has done for their favorite location. I did the analysis for New York State and to even get a 40% reduction would require bans on coal, residual oil, distillate and kerosene burning, no use of natural gas for electricity generation, and no energy growth. To replace that amount of energy we could use carbon-free generation which sounds good but the devil is in the magnitude. Seriously, it would take nearly 14 nuclear plants the size of the most recent plant built in the State, or 258 wind farms the size of the largest wind farm built in the state (140 wind turbines each). Unfortunately that amount of energy is four times the total possible projected National Renewable Energy Laboratory on-shore wind resource for New York State so it is not going to be wind. This scenario only costs money. Most other scenarios to markedly reduce emission require significant life-style changes which I believe are non-starters. I think that this kind of analysis for any state, region or country is going to come to the same conclusion that this going to require an extraordinary effort and will be very expensive.

        Frankly, I think the public is intuitively aware of this. They understand that the global warming effects are likely increments of what has already happened and will happen again. They don’t put great faith in forecasts for next week’s weather so they are suspicious of the upcoming catastrophe forecasts for 2050 and beyond. On the other hand their utility bills continue to rise even without any stated plan to make the investments for carbon-free power necessary for this “safe-level” of emissions. Most importantly, that is in the Western world. Ask anyone without electricity whether they would rather have a well pump at the risk of some incremental climatic impact or continue to get their water by hand and the answer would clearly be “I’ll take that risk”.

        The Team response is rants against the business press, denialist bloggers, and fossil-fuel corporate entities because they are the ones that are preventing the public from understanding the “risk” by sowing doubt. I believe the public already had doubts and if the official line had acknowledged some fallibility in the forecasts, uncertainties relative to risks and less aggressive initial steps that public response would be more favorable.

        My fear is that even if we agree that a carbon-free economy is a good thing that if the urgency mantra advocated by the Team results in the politically correct solution of trying to meet these targets, that the economic meltdown that will follow will stymie progress on the “no regrets” programs that should be implemented in any event and limit funding for the energy technology innovation that is necessary before we can wean ourselves off the carbon economy in the long run.

      • I concur with what Roger Caiazza says.

        I also think that Mr. Tobis fails to recognize two things. One, the evidence that continuing to emit CO2 will lead to a future planetary disaster is really quite weak. Two, the technology to do what he suggests (stop emitting CO2) is just not there. If he thinks it is only a matter of will, then perhaps he should put his money where his mouth is and use only non-fossil fuel energy to propel his car and run his computers. Then maybe we can talk.

      • If he thinks it is only a matter of will, then perhaps he should put his money where his mouth is and use only non-fossil fuel energy to propel his car and run his computers.

        The problem in that line of reasoning is, he can.
        It’s always possible for some people to indulge in a carbon-free lifestyle, without anyone making massive changes to anything.
        But some people changing their lifestyles is not going to make any difference to anything.
        The difficulty comes in when a significant portion of the world’s population try to adopt a carbon-free lifestyle – including all their supporting services and industries. That simply ain’t going to happen in the foreseeable future, as the necessary infrastructure will take many decades to build up, even ignoring the prohibitive costs involved.
        In the meantime, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the best we can hope to achieve is to make fossil fuel reserves last a few decades more before they’re finally all turned into CO2.
        That’s arguably not going to make much difference to AGW, but it will almost certainly come at a very heavy price for the world’s population.

      • Be of good cheer, Peter; there is energy to burn (!!) for centuries:

        Unfortunately, using NG generates half its energy from producing H2O, which is an even more potent GHG.

      • Roger Andrews


        I think you’ve highlighted the fatal flaw in Michael Tobis’s argument, which is that his goal of “(reducing) net global carbon emissions to a safe level, i.e., approximately zero” is technologically, economically and politically unachievable at any time in the foreseeable future. In fact, it’s pretty much a given that we won’t be able to achieve ANY cuts in net global carbon emissions at any time in the foreseeable future. Skyrocketing energy demand growth in the developing economies will see to that.

        So Michael’s proposed solution to the global warming problem is a non-starter. What are the alternatives? Well, when mitigation is impossible, the only option that remains is adaptation. Maybe Michael should consider re-casting his program to educate the public in these terms.

      • Skyrocketing energy demand growth in the developing economies will see to that.

        Skyrocketing energy demand in the developing countries will be the likely source of a solution.

        I call it the ‘economics of necessity’.

        In normal economics supply and demand are balanced by a mechanism called money.

        In the economics of necessity, additional money no longer provides additional supply. The only option becomes innovation.

        In Asia the cost a of ton of steam coal has increased 400% in the last 8 years. It is no longer a debate in Asia as to whether fossil fuels are economically viable, they are not.

        Hence, Asia, driven by economic necessity will become the prime hub for energy innovation in the world.

        We can argue all we want in the USA about what to do about energy, but without a ‘catastrophic’ in Global Warming our glorious leaders are not going to impose ‘economic necessity’.

        The Chinese will build 700GW of something in the next 10 years. The US has 330 GW of coal power.

        Regardless of what policy is pursued in the US, the size of the Chinese energy challenge creates enormous opportunities for innovation that just aren’t going to exist in the US even with the most draconian environmental policy imaginable.

        Hopefully a fair amount of US Energy Engineers will find gainful employment in China and bring home some ‘lessons learned’.

      • “It is astounding to me that these learned scientists are so unaware of the economic trade-offs between the carbon economy and their idealistic vision of the clean, green, carbon-free economy that they apparently believe could be easily attained with minimal effort.”

        I for one never claimed it would be cheap or easy.

        “Based on my experience I am convinced that the reductions I hear suggested (e.g. 80% of the 1990 emissions by 2050), are unrealistic and never will be implemented because of the cost and the life style changes that would be required to reach those limits.”

        In other words, you believe that when fossil fuels run out, capitalism is doomed? I think that goes too far.

        “My fear is that even if we agree that a carbon-free economy is a good thing that if the urgency mantra advocated by the Team results in the politically correct solution of trying to meet these targets, that the economic meltdown that will follow will stymie progress on the “no regrets” programs that should be implemented in any event and limit funding for the energy technology innovation that is necessary before we can wean ourselves off the carbon economy in the long run.”

        The longer we delay the worse the risks, whether because the fuel is gone or because the atmosphere as waste dump is full. Certainly, it is a tradeoff. But the longer we delay in working on alternatives, the worse the tradeoff gets.

        So perhaps you and I disagree on urgency. But I never disagreed that there was a tradeoff and I know of no serious commentator in the carbon policy community who does.

        I keep saying that we should get off carbon “as quickly as is economically feasible”. The worry is that the day will come that there is no window left, that there will be no economically feasible path away from cascading decline.

      • So by your own logic, it makes better sense to prepare for potential change by human adaptation and construction of better infrastructure than it does to invest billions on policies which might reduce CO2 emissions in the US. but do nothing measureable for the climate

      • Roger Caiazza

        I hope that you continue saying that we should get off carbon “as quickly as is economically feasible” and that “it will not be cheap or easy”. However, I get the feeling that there are many climate scientists who think the technology is economically feasible today to convert to a carbon-free economy by 2050. Is that your position?

        “In other words, you believe that when fossil fuels run out, capitalism is doomed ”. I am not quite sure how you got that interpretation of what I was trying to say. Maybe this example will explain what I was trying to say? If New York State adopts a policy that requires the construction of half the number of nuclear plants I think they will need (i.e. seven in the next 20 years) to meet a goal of a 40% reduction by 2030 that would cost around $28 billion dollars at 4 billion per plant. I think it would make electricity in the State so expensive that politicians will be required to repeal that mandate or be voted out of office.

        In any event I agree that saying capitalism is doomed is going too far. I believe that the record has shown that when the price is high enough the market will find a solution, e.g. fossil-fuel resources that are not currently economic. Thus I suspect your idea and mine of when the fossil fuel will run out are wildly different. My position is that without research and development the advantages of fossil fuel out-weigh the disadvantages including the costs of global warming impacts attributable to GHG concentrations, well beyond 2050. Fossil fuels will never “run out” but will ultimately become more expensive to use than other alternatives and I would bet that is sometime closer to 2100 than 2050.

        Our fundamental difference is the weighting of the factors in the trade-off. As I understand it you think the cumulative risks are so high that the sooner we act the better even if that means caps on emissions before there is a breakthrough in technology. I don’t think the cumulative risks from GHG emissions are great enough to act until there is a breakthrough because current technology is so expensive that the “cure” would be more expensive than the impacts.

      • cagw_skeptic99

        Michael Tobis: “The job is not done until the general public understands the risk and finds a way to reduce net global carbon emissions to a safe level, i.e., approximately zero.
        Most of us advocating for this do not care what way that is.

        I asked on your site and got no response. I will ask you again here:

        Your recommendations have and will continue to cause a great deal of suffering in the here and now for people who struggle to pay for heating their homes due to cost increases that are directly caused by the policies you “do not care what way that is”. Do you or any of the other supporters of your policy recommendations accept any responsibility for the adverse consequences to humans whose living conditions are made more difficult because governments followed the policies you recommend?

        I got no answer on your site and expect none here. The simple anwer is you don’t give a damn and accept no responsibility.

      • The concerns cagw raises are real enough, and I share them.

        The first thing to do is extract a gradually rising price on carbon.

        The next thing to do is find those people who are trapped with limited resources and find ways to cushion the blow for them. Rural infrastricture may have a hard time keeping up with the required rate of change, given that we have delayed action for so long.

        This is where government gets complicated; separating real need from fraud is complicated and unpleasant. Americans in particular are not good at it. The recent history of FEMA will show, as I understand it, dramatic and horrifying cases of false positives and false negatives, innocent victims getting nothing and petty frauds getting unjustified windfalls. But that sort of thing is part of civilization, and you can always make the effort to do better.

        Of course, the longer we take to get started, the more difficult the adjustment to the infrastructure changes will be, and the more likely and extensive those awkward compromises will have to be.

        Stipulating that we are in a world where this will have to happen, delay is nobody’s friend except the fossil fuel interests. This is why those interests do not want to so stipulate.

      • cagw_skeptic99

        Michael Tobis: Thank you for your reply. It must be an interesting world you and your associates live in. Completely and utterly removed from any contact with the lives of people who are not wealthy and well connected.

        The people who will suffer damage from implementing the policies you recommend number in the billions and rural people seem unlikely to be impacted more than others, as most of them are pretty hardy anyway.

        As others have pointed out, the corn to alcohol nonsense increased food prices for billions of people. The increasing fuel prices in Europe impact millions of lower income people and arguably have contributed to thousands of deaths in England alone in the last three winters.

        There are enough coal, shale, tar, natural gas, and other deposits to fuel the economies of the world for centuries while producing carbon dioxide in the normal fashion. Even if your belief in increasing temperatures and their negative impacts someday produces actual empirically measurable data, adaptation would be the only responsible recommendation. No Government outside of a few wealthy leftish European countries is likely to cripple their economy based on predictions based on models that have essentially predicted nothing of substance.

        CO2 will continue to emitted for decades, until and unless a cheaper mass produced form of energy becomes available, only people who breath that rarefied air available only to CAGW believers project that artificial costs will be used to penalize carbon based fuel consumption.

        Increasing CO2 is, in my opinion, likely to benefit most of the globe’s population. If there are increasing temperatures also, that again will benefit most of the world’s population. Cold kills far more people than warm ever has.

      • > Cold kills far more people than warm ever has.

        Prove it.

      • Lessee…

        The third link notes more deaths in winter than summer in Spain – but not that the deaths are due from cold.

        The second link is from a hard-right op-ed joint (snicker).

        The first is from a blog. Snore.

      • Neutral sources much? Sheesh.

        However, usually it isn’t temperature extremes that kill people; it’s sustained weird weather, like droughts, or extreme weather, like floods and storms. As the climate system wobbles around as we keep kicking it, those events become more likely. So I think the right answer is neither.

      • Derech, and Michael,

        I didn’t look terribly close at the source of the links, just did a search and grabbed a few of the links ( it’ obvious to you I should have looked closer . . I’ll accept that).

        Perhaps these two might suit you more ( . . though I suspect you’ll discount them somehow . . )


        ( . .this one cites a medical journal and stats from the National Center for Health Statistics).

        Bottom line, the search turns up more discussions about cold weather causing death than warm weather.

        As far a ‘weird weather’, there have always been events of floods, droughts, and so on, long before CO2 was over 350 ppm, or whatever supposed ‘safe limit’ has been espoused. We’ll see if they get worse in the coming years ( and if temps over the next 5-10 years actually cool due to the current low solar activity and shifts in the PDO/AMO).

        Over and Out.

      • Please define ‘sustained weird weather’.
        Please also define ‘climate system wobbles’.
        I think both are meaningless terms that can be applied to any weather someone wishes to assign it to.
        There is a vein on underlying historical illiteracy in your assumptions that I find striking in someone who is an opinion leader and shaper.

      • Derecho64,

        Yah gotta listen to me guy. I mean, I’m on your side and I think yah got potential, kid. So don’t take offense, O. K.?, when I tell yah that your comment “Prove it.” is the sort of comment that can jeapordize your future as a troll. I mean yah don’t want to be one of those emaciated, has-been, him-again creatures that desperately haunt the blogosphere and that no one will feed, do you. So hear me out.

        I know it’s not fair, but there’s “some people” on this blog (you know who you are, so I don’t need to name names, do I?) who will try and make out like that your “Prove it.” comment is somehow snotty and annoying and should be disregarded. And talk about confirmatory bias and stereotyping–I mean I’ve heard these guys talk–“Just some kid who can’t get a date, ignore him.” or “Probably some old smelly guy on the cusp of his dotage, ignore him.” Always with the “Ignore him!” or (I love this one) “Don’t feed the troll!”

        So you gotta protect yourself, D64. Humor, color, out-of-left-field, needling comments. That’ll make ’em feed you even when they hate themselves as they do it. That’s the ticket!

      • cagw_skeptic99

        64. You are a “scientist” who cannot easily discover that more people die when it is cold than when it is hot? And extreme cold events like last winter in the SH that killed many folks are not evidence? Environmental greenies seem to live in a world unconnected from any aspect of reality.

        Like ‘alternative energy’ is going to replace 85 milllion barrels a day of oil and the coal that produces more than half of the globe’s electricity. This will be done with solar panels that don’t work at night and wind mills that don’t work when there is no wind. Maybe you will be ok with lights and heaters and internet connections that all stop working when your alternative energy quits? Not very likely is it; you will have a backup generator or an array of batteries for yourself, but you won’t contribute much to anyone who doesn’t have the wherewithal to live in your fantasy world.

      • The job is not done until the general public understands the risk and finds a way to reduce net global carbon emissions to a safe level, i.e., approximately zero.


        Have you considered that the public might come to a point where the risks are understood, but their preferred solution doesn’t match what you advocate?

      • I don’t have a preferred solution.

        If people understood the situation they would understand that net CO2 emissions have to be drastically reduced. There are lots of ways this might be achieved. Every one of them that I know of is much better than what we are doing.

      • With all due respect, your position is not logical in a world governed by many different nations that are all looking out for their own self interest. The policies that you recommend (for the United States) would be damaging to the US economy as compared to countries that did not implement such a policy, basically inefficient (since it would add more non producing government workers to the payroll to administer the policy) and can be shown to have no benefit for the climate.

      • randomengineer

        What people understand is that you can’t make the chinese and indians comply unless at the point of a gun, and unless everyone is on the bandwagon, US effort is moot. As some of the alarmists like to say “what part of GLOBAL don’t you get?” I’m waiting to hear how it is that we do weird things to the US economy (like potentially ruining it, if the naysayers are correct) and get global CO2 to fall. Unless *all* countries do the same thing, it’s not going to make a difference. And you can’t force global compliance.

        Everybody else seems to get this. Why don’t you?

      • So Burke was full of it when he said “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. “

      • Indeed, when the “little” is utterly ineffectual, and is mass-murderous besides (see hypothermia deaths of pensioners faced with windmill-doubled fuel costs, and poor in 3rd world countries starving to death because of biofuel-doubled food costs).

        What makes it outrageously worse, of course, is that the goal itself is nonsensical, and would be in itself harmful if achieved (reducing the almost wholly beneficial effects of warming).

      • I meant to specify UK pensioners, where the numbers are in the thousands already, and set to climb like a rocket. But the economics apply everywhere stupid enough to blow energy budgets on windmills and other chimeras.

      • randomengineer

        I think you’re not getting where I was going, which I’ll attribute to my being poor at communicating.

        Essentially Dr Tobis is saying that we all need to stop emitting NOW, period, or everything goes sideways.

        Assume he’s correct —

        1) how do you make everyone everywhere comply?

        2) if the US stops all emission tomorrow AM this would arguably wreck much (most?) of the economy, and the global increase still happens.

        How do you achieve overnight global emissions halt? This is the context.

        What you’re replying to though was different. Now, if you want to discuss the relative merits of replacing coal plants with LNG and 4th Gen nuclear, automotive fuel efficiency standards, etc. then sure, I’m with you on this. It’s more gradual than what Dr Tobis advocates and gets things done as per Burke.

      • Since I say “as fast is is economically feasible” I think you gave a straw man here.

        The US acting alone scenario is also a straw man, and under present circumstances quite a remarkable one.

        The US cannot, should not and will not act alone. The main problem is that the US can block progress alone and has been doing so.

        If the US works together with most of the other developed countries, which are willing, the rest of the world can easily be convinced to comply via the threat of an appropriate tariff regime.

      • randomengineer

        Are you OK with 4th gen nukes and LNG and all of that which I mentioned? I’m asking what’s your feel re “as fast is is economically feasible” vis a vis what tech is available.

        Certainly the tech answer vs the tax answer will accomplish more (no need to turn off the lights.)

        So can you please spell out where you’re coming from — Tech, or Tax?

      • I don’t have any special expertise in economics or in energy systems, so my opinion in such matters is not of great consequence. That said…

        I support anything reasonable that might have a chance of implementation provided it leads to a rather rapid decline in global net emissions. An 80% cut by 2050 was mentioned by somebody. That seems to be the right ballpark; we might well avoid some of the worse consequences if we manage that.

        I find Hansen’s arguments for a revenue neutral tax and rebate scheme quite feasible for the US. Carbon neutral technologies could then fight on a level playing field once externalities were properly priced.

        I have my doubts about deep sequestration but I am all for it if it can be made to work. I think the olivine sequestration route also shows promise. I’m all for nukes. I’m all for algae. Anything that doesn’t increase the net carbon in circulation is fine.

        Really, whatever. Just not this.

      • And it is clear that India and China are simply going to use our funk over the CO2 obsession to make more money and CO2 all the way to the bank.

      • I would think the precuationary principle would apply. The science shows that if we do not limit glbal C02 the planet will warm. History shows us that efforts for a “global” solution have failed. The precautionary principle when applied here would dictate that individual nations should focus on adaptation. Because MTs plans havent worked, wont work, and the only sensible alternative is local adaptation. Tough luck if you live around sea level, but you’ve been warned.

      • If the precautionary principle was useful public policy, then people living around the California earthquake fault zones would migrate.

        Should they be forcibly relocated for their own good by the benign Government of scientists who know better. Perhaps we could ask the Japanese Americans of the 1940’s how the precautionary principle relocation works.

      • Or adopt tough building codes designed to minimize damage when earthquakes strike. The Japanese might do that, too, if they believed in the precautionary principle.

        It’s rather strange that neither Japan or California has paid any attention to scientists at all, and haven’t taken any steps whatsoever to mitigate the effects of earthquakes, isn’t it?

      • RU being funny? The Japanese have some of the most thorough and advanced earthquake resistance building codes on the planet. Maybe the most advanced.

      • “There are lots of ways”

        Can you name one, together with a complete cost-benefit analysis?
        And can you describe how it’s to be implemented, where, and over what timescales?

        If you don’t know this then how can you be so sure that it’s better than what we’re doing – let alone much better?

      • Why don’t you come up with a “complete cost-benefit analysis” of doing nothing?

      • I don’t have to. I’m not the one trying to justify changing the world.

      • Yes you are the one trying to justify changing the world. You change the world with every gallon of gasoline you buy, and with every pound of coal that the utility burns on your behalf. That is the whole point.

        In general, the emitter of an effluent has to prove that the emissions are safe. Fossil CO2 just snuck up on us, but at the present scale it is impossible to make that case.

        If we had no fossil fuel industry we could not legally start one up because it would fail any reasonable environmental impact constraints.

      • I suppose you survive on fairy juice then?
        Is your computer candle-powered?
        Do you survive exclusively on home-grown food?
        Did you build your own house completely from home-grown materials?
        Do you never go shopping for anything?

        And if you’ve truthfully answered Yes to the above, then you have never done anything of any benefit whatsoever to anyone else on this planet.

        I didn’t want this thread to degenerate the way it has, but you seem to do little more than make baseless assertions, appealing to all except our intelligence.

      • Michael,
        filibustering is not going to work here.
        The status quo is not destroying the planet. You only believe it is.
        If you have an alternative to CO2 that works, show us.

      • LOl.. it is obviously the responsibility of someone who want to implement some change to a system/law that has the responsibility to offer what their proposal will cost and what the benefits will be. The “data/models” certainly do not provide sufficent information to really even know if the potentially warmer climate will be better or worse for individual nations.

        In the case of the US, those fearing the potential change in climate have not (as of yet in any case) shown any kind of cost benefit analysis for the proposal that they wish to be adopted. (such as cap and trade)

      • Read what mt wrote.

      • I did, and it did not answer the point at all. Answer this- If the US adopted everything you think is necessary to reduce CO2 emissions……and CO2 levels were at 480 vs 520 in 25 years, how would that be beneficial to the US???

      • I don’t propose to write a thesis on energy economics on the spot. I recommend the library of a university with a good engineering school.

        I find it obvious that what we are doing now is unsustainable and dangerous, so I like all the serious alternatives.

        I think that those who want the least cultural change should probably prefer nuclear power as the keystone of the new infrastructure.

      • I find it obvious that what we are doing now is unsustainable and dangerous, so I like all the serious alternatives.

        Forgive me for not taking you seriously when you seem to be able to do no better than to make unsubstantiated assertions of your beliefs, like the one above.

      • Non “unsubstantiated”. Insupportable.

      • The fact that you find it obviously unsustainable and dangerous seems indicative of your personality and personal conclusions and not the data.

        Unsustainable? – Certainly no more so than a variety of other perhaps more pressing issues such as the growth curve of humanity on planet earth.

        Dangerous- When the changes to the climate happen over a period of decades not hours how is it really dangerous. Build the proper infrastructure over that appropriate time period….problem averted!

      • > When the changes to the climate happen over a period of decades not hours how is it really dangerous. Build the proper infrastructure over that appropriate time period….problem averted!

        a) What infrastructure, how long would it take and at what cost? How would you deem what was necessary to ensure such infrastructure was in place in time, given the lead time on such large projects? What about developing countries without the resource to adapt in areas that are most seriously threatened?

        b) You concentrate on day-to-day human adaptation (build infrastructure) with no thought for adaptation of the stressed ecosystems upon which we depend.

        c) One entirely valid criticism of climate models is the inability to handle and predict sudden (and not at all unprecedented) shifts in climate, such as the disruption of the North Atlantic Conveyor. Such events do not leave decades for adaptation, they leave months. If you know that such things are possible, and that they are more likely in a warming world, but you cannot predict with any accuracy when they might occur, does it not make sense to avoid the warming to diminish the risk when faced with such uncertainty?

        How did you assess the socioeconomic risk of such possibilities and come to the conclusion that adaptation without mitigation was the safest and most reasonable course?

      • Infrastructure improvements to protect against climate change need to be decided upon and implemented at a local/regional level and need to have the proposed cost estimated that way. I obviously can not comment on but a few areas and what needs to be done.

        Those developing countries need to take care of their own infrastructure. Not my concern. Maybe they should lower their birth rates. (being intentionally harsh for effect)

        I consider the risk of any catastrophic rapid event/change to the climate due to increased CO2 extremely low and would not plan or spend much on this alternative

      • > Those developing countries need to take care of their own infrastructure. Not my concern.

        Excellent, so when someone witlessly claims that “eco-nazi carbon tax kills poor people in developing countries” I have a nice riposte.

      • > Infrastructure improvements to protect against climate change need to be decided upon and implemented at a local/regional level and need to have the proposed cost estimated that way.

        And my point here was: any analysis that showed that it was necessary to improve infrastructure to adapt to climate change would also provide sufficient justification for mitigation. The OP was advocating a reactive approach, but given the timescales needed for large projects adaptation cannot be reactive, it must be in response to forecasts.

        Those same forecasts that favour mitigation.

        So I find the “do nothing, adapt when we need to” approach short-sighted and contradictory.

      • Dave– by definition each soverign country manages their own infrastructure. You can cry all you want about the people’s lives in those countries, but they are responsible, not you or I.

      • Dave wrote- “any analysis that showed that it was necessary to improve infrastructure to adapt to climate change would also provide sufficient justification for mitigation.”

        This is almost certainly untrue. Mitigation steps to reduce CO2 would need to be able to be enacted globally in order to be effective and the worldwide cost would be huge. It is extremely doubtful that these worldwide steps would ever be adapted therefore mitigation steps will be required regardless. Infrastructure mitigation is done at a local level and all areas are not going to be negatively impacted.

      • You make several leaps that aren’t really justifiable in the absence of quantifiable specifics.

        You say global cost of mitigation will be huge. This is debatable – you can’t just assume this to be greater than adaptation when there is huge uncertainty in this area covering both overall negative and positive outcomes.

        What will global cost of adaptation be? Again, hugely uncertain, but the less mitigation you do the worse it gets. What will it be in the absence of any mitigation at all? What advice will be used to determine whether adaptation is necessary in the first place? What’s the lead time on that advice and how will that affect the economics of any initiative? Does adaptation become more or less expensive the longer you leave it?

        My main issue is the “adapt when it’s a problem” mentality. If you want to adapt, you need to start thinking now – but those are the same sorts of timescales as mitigation so the same advice would apply. Your only real objection is that – in your opinion – a global agreement is unlikely so trying is futile.

      • Dave- mitigation can be done smartly as new infrastructure is built or existing facilities are remodeled (which is done regularly). Your idea that the less mitigation you have the more infrastructure costs you have is not correct. The infrastructure will need improvements over the 25-50 years period regardless. The delta cost would be a small percentage of the total investment.
        The idea of a carbon tax is adding cost to the system and would not change the future investment in infrastructure to that great a degree. Additionally, the tax is supported without any evidence that the mitigation step will impact the climate at all.

      • There are perfectly good alternatives.
        The enviro community has led the political class to reject them.
        Instead we have windmills chopping up birds very close to the Whooping Crane flyways.

      • Michael,

        Sorry, it just doesn’t follow. We’re not talking about certainty, but probability. Different people, different countries will have differing tolerances for risk.

        For what it’s worth, I agree in principle that moving away from fossil fuels as soon as economically feasable is a smart move. How we define feasable and the relative urgency will probably differ between the two of us and very likely differ with someone in a developing country.

      • Michael said:
        “The job is not done until the general public understands the risk and finds a way to reduce net global carbon emissions to a safe level, i.e., approximately zero.”

        That is quite simply never going to happen. Better go with plan B.

    • “The criticism many have made of the general press is primarily the underemphasis of the whole climate/sustainability story….”
      “You’d think the press would have a role in conveying the risks.”

      What precisely are the risks that were not communicated to the public by NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, BBC, CBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, London Times, Newsweek, Time, Nobel prizes, two major American motion pictures, the UN, virtually every western government, not to mention Nature, Scientific American the NAS, and on and on and on?

      I’d never viewed a climate bl0g pre-climategate, yet somehow even I was aware of the impending: melting glaciers, disappearing Amazon, extinction of polar bears, rising sea levels, increased frequency and strength of hurricanes, acidification of the oceans, disappearance of coral reefs, each year seemingly being the hottest year ever….

      Climate policy advocates did not fail to get their message out, the populace was inundated by it for years. The problem is that their message was music to the ears of progressive politicians eager to assume massive control over, and impose massive taxes on, the general economy. Their message was less persuasive to those poor simpletons who would have to suffer that control, and pay those taxes.

      In a culture of dictatorship, Copenhagen would have been a resounding success. In democratic society, it was doomed as soon as the true agenda was revealed.

    • M. Tobis says, quoting P. Baer: ‘It’s really pathetic that the job of scaring people far enough out of their wits to take action falls to scientists, a group of people who are spectacularly ill-suited to the task.’

      I have three thoughts.

      1. Scared out of our wits is hardly the time to take responsible action.

      2. What happened to Al Gore’s $300,000,000 fund to ‘scare the wits’ out of us? Did some scientists score the ‘gold’ here? It was supposedly left for them, or was that not scientists scaring the wits out of us?

      3. What’s really pathetic is the small band of climatologists left to defend the alarmist point of view, now that politicians, the press, and the people are now leaving you in droves.

    • Michael,

      You tweaked in ‘sustainability’ here to accompany ‘climate’. In my judgment this is quite new. I know there are lots of people in the community who see ‘combating climate change’ as about ‘sustainability’, but the two are not necessarily related, save that if the cAGW scare were to be true, then our present life would not be sustainable. But one can argue for ‘sustainability’ (a slippery concept, as I have written before) without accepting and or all of AGW — and many other people do.

      I would have to agree with others that you can’t blame the press for under-reporting AGW or sustainability. In what is called the ‘quality’ press these have been constant themes — about ‘sustainability’ for decades.

      And about balance, am I to infer that anyone who criticises aspects of the AGW hypotheses is automatically a ‘fringe scientist’? If not, whom as a critic would you accept as not ‘fringe’, and what is to count as the ‘fringe’ anyway?

    • randomengineer

      The criticism many have made of the general press is primarily the underemphasis of the whole climate/sustainability story and secondarily the tendency to false balance, wherein fringe scientists are used to provide counterbalance to the mainstream.

      You really said this? Seriously? Good heavens, what utter nonsense. One can barely read a newspaper or a magazine or watch the news or even a show about fuzzy animals without being hammered about climate change. The media is working overtime, and they’re not giving significant time or space to skeptics no matter how much you wish this was the case.

      The *real* problem is that people have been hammered and clubbed and beaten and otherwise intimidated by chicken-little prognostication — everything from starling reproduction to acne is caused by climate change dontcha know — that they simply tune it out.

      (see numberwatch.co.uk for a partial list.)

      Therefore, obviously, the solution is to set the dial to 11. WTF?

      I reckon you’re either the new improved definition of tone deaf or you honestly think along the lines of ‘beatings will continue until morale improves.’

      Either way, your approach simply laughable. For example, it’s presumable that your first target is the educated types who will help filter the info donward. Well, there’s a wee problem…


      …this lines up PRECISELY with the “denizens” thread on this site. Most of the skeptics are well educated. (Back the the drawing board. Dang.)

      Good luck with your screech campaign.

  5. The question that I found most disturbing in ther Van Storch piece is this:

    “Do you feel there is any consequence in the professional relationships among colleagues?
    Yes, the activist scientists have sometimes better chances in publishing in key journals such as “science” or “PNAS”, but also to hold important scientific positions in advisory government bodies. As a consequence scientists less engaged in the issue of man-made climate change, in particular those who hold fully or partly skeptical positions, find themselves sometimes marginalized.”

    This was argued about endlessly during climategate and yet here we have an insider expressing a similar view. I find this deeply depressing.

  6. No one should get past bringing up Schneider and skip over that he encouraged lying to promote the AGW consensus, and that he and his pal Ehrlich have been proven flat out wrong on everything they predicted about population, and Ehrlich to this day pretends he was not proven wrong.

    • “No one should get past bringing up Schneider and skip over that he encouraged lying to promote the AGW consensus”

      Good example. It perfectly illustrates the way anything scientists say is liable to be chopped up, truncated and presented to mean anything people need it to mean in order to attack the individual and dismiss their work.

      Then other people can accept those accusations as truthful and say “Why’s that guy complaining about a communication problem? He encourages lying! I saw that quote from him on a blog dedicated to the premise his work is all false!”

      • sharper00,
        What you are demonstrating is how to rationalize away bad behavior by people you like.
        And speaking of truncating, you sorta skipped over the part about Ehrlich and Schneider’s earlier role of supplying wrong ideas about population and environment, and then their denial of same.
        And, I did not say all of his work was false. A great deal of it was merely wrong.
        But he did advise people to shape messages to make sure the desired effect is reached. And he and Ehrlich bear a great responsibility for the lack of standards in communications by scientists today.

      • “What you are demonstrating is how to rationalize away bad behavior by people you like.”

        Of course and if you say it’s bad behaviour and someone disagrees then they’re just rationalising it away.

        I didn’t rationalise anything. I pointed out Schneider’s quote has been widely disseminated in truncated and chopped up forms (just like further up this page) and doesn’t mean what you’re claiming it means.

        “And speaking of truncating”

        I didn’t realise it was necessary to reply to every aspect of every post.

      • shaper00,
        Schneider said what he said, and people interpreted in ways that make sense based on his behavior and the behavior of so many who have hyped the risk, and sought to silence peers who dared to disagree.
        You are of course free to comment on anything. I just enjoy the irony of your complaining about truncating even as you do it.
        But does your skipping over the Ehrlich Schneider part mean you agree that they were over the top wrong on other topics?

      • sharper00: I included a link to the Schneider quote to a blog discussion of the quote and the way it has been sometimes truncated.

        I didn’t provide the full quote in my comment, but I did quote both sides of the issue Schneider was addressing including the side that supposedly provides the context that makes the quote all right, though not for me or many others.

        For amusement I recommend reading the blog discussion and comments to see how climate scientists handle criticism and disagreement: wholesale slashing and censoring and dismissing.

        My final comment — censored of course — was:

        Keep in mind that if your side is genuinely concerned about the perils of global warming you need support from laymen such as myself. It’s easy to see why your side has lost this support.

        At this point I’m convinced your side cannot make its case in the open. See you at the ballot box.

      • Example(s) please

      • randomengineer

        Good example. It perfectly illustrates the way anything scientists say is liable to be chopped up…



        Yes we know your reply will be that this is wrong because Lubos there is — oh my — a conservative. But hearing you dispute the FACTS herein will be entertaining, I’m quite sure.

        Just wait 10 minutes before you reply so I can get some popcorn.

      • “Yes we know your reply will be that this is wrong because Lubos there is — oh my — a conservative.”

        It must be handy living in a constant state of partisan paranoia, knowing with certainty your ideas are rejected purely on the basis of your political persuasion.

        Perhaps though you could read a little more closely before replying, I’m talking specifically about the “encourages lying” claim which relates to a specific quote.

        I’m extremely uninterested in yet more email parsing and conspiracy theories relating to said parsing.

    • Ehrlich is unable to comprehend or contemplate a sentence in which his name is the object, and the words “proven” and “wrong” occur (without negation).
      And always remember his position on access to energy:
      “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” — Prof. Paul Ehrlich, Stanford

      Hence he works to limit society’s access to energy to the expensive, scarce kinds.

  7. “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” — Prof. Paul Ehrlich,

    Without the cheap, abundant energy that built our modern society there would be no Prof. Paul Ehrlich. So, in some ways he is right.

  8. My post (which Michael Tobis refers to) is not specifically addressed to his RC essay alone. It is just one of among several examples I use to make a larger point about a myth propagated by him and others, such as Joe Romm–that the mainstream press, when it’s not ignoring the climate issue, regularly botches it.

    I’m arguing that this is a sweeping, simplistic generalization not supported by the daily evidence. I’ve been having a constructive, civil exchange about this over at the RC related thread. In a comment over there, I also said that I’ll back up my argument next week at my site, keeping a running tally of the daily stories and commentary. Here are some of my relevant comments over at RC:




  9. Whatever the scientific issue, scientists engaged in politics should see the latter as more analogous to sports than they might wish. No matter how good your team, you can’t command your adversaries to lose, or expect them never to score.

    Equanimity and persistence are essential in any long struggle, or as the song says, “Hey Bro, who lied to you and said this work is easy?” – Promise To The Future

  10. Keith Kloor:
    My post (which Michael Tobis refers to) is not specifically addressed to his RC essay alone. It is just one of among several examples I use to make a larger point about a myth propagated by him and others, such as Joe Romm–that the mainstream press, when it’s not ignoring the climate issue, regularly botches it.

    The criticism of the press that it is ignoring or botching the climate issues depends upon specifics. For example the press has been diligent in reporting issues directly related to weather (as climate), carbon trading credits, regulations on coal consumption, political pronouncements by leaders, and predictions by scientists about the effects of climate change. You will not have any trouble proving that the mainstream press is involved in reporting about climate issues.

    Why are the BLOGGERS at WUWT and RC so upset? They are focused on specific scientific issues that the mainstream press is unable to explain to the reading and listening public. So, the journalists rely on external sources or other print or video information for sources for input to their journalistic endeavors. Of course, each BLOG site would like to be the primary source of their reports on the climate. So if they aren’t, the mainstream press has botched or ignored the issue. The myth is not that the press is ignoring or botching anything about climate. The myth is that the journalists in mainstream press are not the guardians of the truth of the science of climate as WUWT or RC thinks it ought to be. Rather the press reports what is happening in politics and issues related to politics. The press is not democratic or unbiased or willing to give equal time to all proponents of a climate issue. They chose who they chose to listen to by the nature of the political implications, largely by those in charge of the politics of the day. When the “climategate disturbance” was revealed, people one side thought it was a major scandal and at the other site thought is was a crime of hacking personal computers. The press could not adopt either position without fully understanding the political implications that arose as a consequence of “climategate. Have they figured it out yet? Frankly most mainstream press readers and listeners are not educated enough in science to understand the pros and cons of the specific scientific issues raised by either site. In fact, when I read the comments at either site I am not convinced that the contributors understand the science either.

    • jon,
      Calling people too dumb to understand the fine nuance of something like climate is not only inaccurate, it is insulting.
      Using climategate as an example of scientific illiteracy is odd.
      The media did not under report climategate because it was too complicated. It was under reported and badly reported because it simply cast a very bad light on something that, as Tobis demonstrates, cannot even be easily questioned in the eyes of too many in the media.
      If the AGW myth is true, that CO2 is causing major permanent damage to the Earth, then there are no norms, as Tobis said, and all bets are off for believers in the myth. And we have one of those rarest of causes, the apocalyptic story whose ends justifies the means.

      • What is the “it” which was under-reported in your opinion? That is, define “climategate” in such a way that makes it clear how it undermines the scientific consensus as reported by IPCC.

        Many of us think it was ludicrously overreported.

        Most or all of what was revealed is that mainstream scientists do not think that prominent skeptics are acting in good faith, and are reluctant to comply with their disruption by filibuster, i.e., using legal mechanisms which were not intended to apply to the practice of science.

        Is there anything else there?

    • That’s interesting and perceptive.

      But note that this insight does not depend on which group, if either, has the story mostly right and which has it wrong, both about what is true or false and also about what is important or trivial. Those are still meaningful questions which readers must decide for themselves.

  11. Judith: You left out the last sentence of my post, which came right after the snippet that you quoted. Here’s the entire comment:

    “So I have some advice for Michael Tobis, Scott Mandia and other scientists who are frustrated that they haven’t been able to get their message across to the public and want to blame it all on journalists: Take a look in the mirror first. Then let’s talk.

    The truth is that together, we have much to bitch about, but also much that should make us proud.”

    I think that casts what I said in a somewhat different light. Still “ouch,” but I’m saying we share the blame for deficiencies in coverage.

    Also, Michael Tobis and others continue to accuse the “press” of “false balance.” But Max Boykoff, co-author of the first definitive paper on this subject, has since found that the phenomenon has declined significantly, at least in “prestige” newspapers in the United States. Here’s his conclusion from a 2007 recent paper:

    “The research finds that ‘balanced’ reporting on scientific investigations of human-induced climate change in these newspapers is no longer evident, and thus suggests that we may now be flogging a dead norm.”

    I am by no means saying that everything is fine with U.S. media coverage of climate change. Far from it. The situation in television is particularly dreadful. But the black and white picture painted by the authors of the RC post, which I criticized in my post, is not warranted. Reality is much more nuanced.

    • Tom,
      In full context, you are possibly worse than Tobis or Romm.
      My god, do you actually believe that tripe?

      • Boykoff is an overtly partisan author who has consistently pushed his ideas for a good length of time now. Two central pillars of the “false balance” theory are:
        (a) that news-consuming public mindlessly form views originating directly from how it is portrayed in individual news items
        (b) editors and journalists should mindlessly accept scientists’ claims that a certain view has crystallized as the predominant consensus and promote that view, after being instructed by said scientists.

        Neither (a) nor (b) however are true or applicable in the real world.

  12. And Tom,
    What your website really shows is that enviro-journalists are the most reactionary writers out there, and are anything but ‘journalists’.
    You are to journalism what cheerleaders are to football.
    And all of you cheer for one team.

  13. Perhaps this topic suggests another, the politics of climate anti-expertise?

    There are any number of activists who openly politic about climate, who are experts at politicking about climate, who not only have no particular expertise in Earth Sciences, Physics, Engineering or any hard technical preparation of any sort.

    The anti-experts tend to be very successful at getting equal time (or more) in any discussion with climate experts, and in any discussion of climate that doesn’t include experts, too.

    They run their own climate blogs, and do their own derivative analyses of others’ work, or analyses of analyses of others’ work, applying methods from the soft sciences or from accounting, polling, medicine, advertising or whatnot.

    Some of them even have obtained specific academic credentials in their anti-expertise.

    Certainly, if the politics of expertise is worth discussing, this far more unexpected phenomenon has to be worth a page of its own.

    • i’m not entirely sure what you are trying to suggest here- i’m hoping it is not what i think.

      Instead of arguing which side has the best politics, we should be arguing which side has the best science. I couldn’t give a damn who supports what/says what (within reason)/believes what. What i care is whether what they say has substance.

      The more we move away from the ACTUAL scientific issues, the more the politics come into play. Conversly, move back towards pure scientific approach and the politics diminishes.

      • Labmunkey

        The suggestion is so flat and free from bias as I can make it.

        Rule by Expertise (Technocracy) is a trend that I don’t wholy endorse, but I can at least understand.

        Rule by Inexpertise (Mediocracy?) is a surprise.

        I don’t suggest that Inexpertise belongs to one side of the debate or the other, and I believe every reader will bring their own opinion of that to the debate (hence, nice to hear what readers have to say), and I don’t profess to either elitism or to dismiss the very real contribution of many Inexperts. I’d have to count myself as one, certainly.

        But then, I don’t particularly go to the trouble of hanging up my shingle and going into the business of Climate commentary and politicking, other than as an infrequent skeptical poster to Dr. Curry’s blog.

      • Mediocratic rule is much more common, I would bet.
        Also, consider the examples when overtly ‘scientific’ principals have been applied as policy decision points in the past. The list is very unpleasant.

    • randomengineer

      They run their own climate blogs, and do their own derivative analyses of others’ work, or analyses of analyses of others’ work, applying methods from the soft sciences or from accounting, polling, medicine, advertising or whatnot.

      One problem is that climate stuff is understood by very few, but the implied ramifications affect everyone. That there is intense scrutiny shouldn’t be surprising. That such scrutiny is primarily coming from quarters that aren’t “the very few” likewise shouldn’t be surprising.

  14. When you rely on a few people to understand science and generate policies in an area not fully understood, you generate a system totally reliant on what was first generated a correct.
    The problem this generated was a total focus to one area to the blinders to any other changes or factors. Funding was directed toward this one area which now has generated a huge problem when this area is collapsing due to following the wrong theory.
    This has generated teaching passed down generations and changed policies which are currently putting lives at risk.

  15. Judith,

    All our current policies are based on a theory that is crashing.
    Next theory will be “mini-Ice Age” blamed on the sun activity.
    When will science look at physical evidence?

  16. I think there is another turning point to the climate debate, or at least the internet part of it: the opening of this blog! I fond myself less and less checking realclimate, which I did quite frequently before: I alternated between wuwt and rc to get infos from both sides. Nowadays, I check wuwt a little bit less frequently than before, check this blog quite often, about as much as wuwt….and go to RC maybe 10% of the time I went before. The few time I go there, i get a sense of desparation and but mostly of self-circling, like a sect that, after trying to open up (the climategate really did improve their post censuring), was turning back to itself just because the number of fidel was dwindling and only the hardliners were still there. The posts seems less relevant, comments more biter, and with a strong feeling of déja vu. Anybody get some internet traffic info lately? To check if my feeling that Judith made a large dent into RC traffic has some truth?

    • Michael Larkin


      I never did look much at RC once I discovered its general intolerance of dissent, but I concur that since this blog opened, I have looked a little bit less at WUWT – not because much has changed at the latter, but because there are only so many hours in a day.

      What is astonishing to me is that anyone on the pro-AGW side could imagine that they haven’t already maximally exploited every conceivable opportunity provided by the MSM. Now, disaster fatigue has set in, and nothing else they can say can rekindle a fire dampened by scandal and cover-up.

      It matters little if “climategate” seems to have quieted somewhat. What I’ve seen repeated so often are declarations by this or that sceptical blog contributor that they only became really interested in AGW (which they had previously considered a done deal) after hearing of climategate. It was a mortal blow that helped the sceptical side attain a critical mass.

      The only thing that will turn that around, IMO, is if the disaster predictions actually start turning out to be true. Not looking good in light of more severe winters that were specifically ruled out. It’s been just one damn thing after another, and only a fool would doubt there’s more to come.

      • The only thing that will turn that around, IMO, is if the disaster predictions actually start turning out to be true.

        That’s basically my take too.

        Although I count myself a skeptic, I am persuaded that human activity contributes to global warming. However, I am not persuaded that we know enough to rush into the serious anti-carbon programs that climate change scientists and advocates are demanding.

        It seems to me that much of the current climate change messaging we hear is just an extension of the mostly bogus environmental hysteria from the sixties and seventies. If climate science were as solid as claimed we would not see all the bizarre shenanigans and over-reaching that we have.

      • Roger Caiazza

        I agree and want to point out one more factor that should be considered. Money. There is an entire industry built up around the premise that their solution is the only thing standing between our society and catastrophe. Remove the catastrophe and instantly, for example, the wind energy industry has no reason to exist. In that light who has the more vital reason to fund catastrophic anthropogenic global warming research – alarmists or denialists?

      • randomengineer

        Although I count myself a skeptic, I am persuaded that human activity contributes to global warming. However, I am not persuaded that we know enough to rush into the serious anti-carbon programs that climate change scientists and advocates are demanding.

        Interesting. I consider myself a “believer” and have the same take. Perhaps a better definition of skeptic is in order; i.e. are believers skeptics if they don’t agree that soiling themselves is warranted?

        It seems to me that much of the current climate change messaging we hear is just an extension of the mostly bogus environmental hysteria from the sixties and seventies.

        Agreed. It’s the screeching coupled with the history of much of the science “issue” reporting courtesy of extreme enviro interests. In the 80’s it seems you couldn’t read a paper without hearing about the rainforest. Did that finally disappear? I haven’t been keeping up. As M Larkin brilliantly phrases it, I seem to have disaster fatigue.

      • RE: A good point about skeptic/believer/whatever. The current labels are inadequate.

        I don’t have a problem with the basics of AGW/climate science. I’m quite skeptical of the current process of climate science and the climate change movement.

        The extremity of the conclusions, the certainty that the conclusions are correct, and above all the blitzkrieg campaign to force the climate change agenda upon the rest of the world without debate comes across to me as both anti-science and anti-democracy.

        I was astonished by what I found at websites like RC and by the climategate scandals and by the inability of most scientists to grasp that something has gone very wrong with climate change.

        So I call myself a skeptic because I intend on opposing climate change until its scientists and advocates clean house.

      • Latimer Alder

        It is worth remembering that very few climatologists will ‘clean house’ voluntarily.

        They have the biggest vested interest imaginable. Very few are employed outside the publicly funded climatology sector, so they have to preserve the status quo of big scares and big grants to maintain their industry’s very existence.

        Unlike the much derided ‘Big Oil’ companies who can – and do – diversify into other areas, an unemployed climatologist is not a saleable proposition.

        Imagine the scene at interview:

        Interviewer: I understand that you are good at writing predictive models. Good. We need to do some serious predictions and have lots of computers.

        Unemployed Climatologist: Yes that’s right. I worked on various Global Circulation Models.

        I: Would you like to describe your expertise in verification and validation of those models? We must be as certain as we can be in our predictions.

        UC: V&V? Don;t make me laugh. We didn’t need to do any of that outdated stuff. We just knew our models were right.

        I: So why were you employed so long?

        UC: I wrote lots of academic papers that my pals cited in their papers. We call it a citation count. I had a very good citation count. Needed to buy a lot of beer at conferences though

        I: But were your models any good at predictions?

        UC: I dunno. As the famous Dr Phil Jones said ‘Nobody ever asked’. It wasn’t important to us. Creating the model was its own reward…papers, papers and more papers. B***r the results. Who cares?

        I: Do you have any other skills?

        UC: I am very good at predicting the End of the World. My citation count among soothsayers is very high.

        I: We do payment by actual results, not by papers published. How do you feel about that?

        UC: Ouch! That doesn’t sound like me at all. Far too much like hard work.

        I think the burger joint down the road still needs somebody to clear tables. I’m off. With a good attendance record, they’ll let me actually flip the burgers under supervision in less than two years! If the planet lasts that long. The End is Nigh!

        I: Tell your chums that we’re not hiring here. I don’t want to waste any more of my time. Before you go can you write me a program that automatically discards any resume with the words ‘climate science, climatology, GCM, academic, global warming or climate disruption’ anywhere? I have an organisation to run, not a rest home for failed academics.

      • Richard S Courtney


        A comment I made as part of a post in the ‘missing heat’ thread seems pertinent to your discussion, so I copy it here. It is:

        “The AGW-hypothesis is disproved by empirical investigation.
        At altitude the ‘hot spot’ is missing.
        In the oceans the ‘missing heat’ is not found.
        In the temperature record for 15 years the global temperature rise has been missing.

        And in addition to those scientific disproofs, the funds which fuel the AGW ‘gravy train’ will soon be missing because political support for action on AGW was missing at the Copenhagen and Cancun conferences.

        The AGW-hypothesis is a ‘dead parrot’, you can delay its ‘falling over’ by nailing its feet to its perch with sophistry, but it is an ‘ex-parrot’. Live with it.”


      • Latimer;
        Error! ERROR!
        Very few are employed employable outside the publicly funded climatology sector.

        There. All fiksed!

      • Latimer Alder

        You are telepathic! That was my first draft.

      • Latimer Alder

        Just to add, as a proof point, that Climategate gave an ideal opportunity for the climatologists to begin the process of cleaning up their act if they had chosen to do so.

        A few ‘mea culpas’ and a ritual sacrifice of one or two of the main players might even have regained a bit of the public’s trust. Sin followed by repentance is always a good story (see the Prodigal Son).

        Instead they did nothing. Not a peep. Not even a hint of recognition that anything was less than 100% ticketyboo. Close the eyes, pull the bedclothes over the head and hope that it all goes away and that nobody noticed. Keep Calm and Carry On.

        Well the populace have noticed. It took longer than it should have, but they are beginning to realise that there is very little substance to the AGW scare at all. They’re beginning to wonder why they should continue to pay for all the climatologists whose basic competence is so clearly lacking. And whose scientific objectivity and integrity is in some considerable doubt.

        Political paymasters notice such things. In UK, where austerity is currently the name of the game, cutting the Met Office budget dramatically would be a very popular move as they have become a target for national ridicule. And the credibility and future funding of the Climatic Research Unit at UEA must be in equal doubt. I’m sure the new climate in US politics will reflect this as well.

        If I were a climatologist, I think my New Year’s Resolution would be to polish my CV and work on increasing any commercially valuable skills I may have.

        The climate gravy train is hitting the buffers bigtime. And its mostly their own fault as RSC and others have eloquently described.

      • AnyColourYouLike

        “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

        Latimer, Talking of “Carry On”, don’t forget Mann & Jones consistent use of the Kenneth Williams defense:

        “Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in fa me!”


      • Latimer Alder

        I can just imagine Kenneth Horne visiting Jules and Sandy at Bona Climatology in a bijou academiette in Norfolk…………or in a swept up new bureau on the outskirts of Exeter…….

        Hilarious, but not, sadly PC enough for this blog…..We must use our imaginations instead!

      • Latimer Alder

        But by some miracle of technology, a recording of his visit to Bona Seances (near enough anyway) has survived.

      • thanks for that. I had forgotten that answering-machines were around that early!

      • AnyColourYouLike

        Surprisingly risque or its time, and still very funny! :)

      • RE, as a cAGW believer, you seem to be saying that far from receiving too little MSM attention, much of what it has, in fact received in superabundance has, in the long run, harmed, rather than helped, cAGW’s cause, notwithstanding its early appearance of success?

        If I’ve understood you correctly, perhaps you should tell Michael Tobis. Coming from a fellow believer, it might help him understand that in the long run, the fact that it “won’t help your citation count” is not, as he insists, a good reason to disregard the null hypothesis.

      • randomengineer

        Yes you’re hearing correctly. I too see numberwatch.co.uk and cringe. The message has been heard, it has been weighed, it has been measured, and it has been found wanting. Any early appaearance of success was due to a humming world economy.

        We now live in a time (the great recession) where unemployment hovers at 10% in the US and is a great deal worse in a lot of places (e.g. Greece.) Another 10% may be employed but barely so, i.e. part time. Another 15%-20% are employed as low paying security guards (e.g.) with a 2nd night job at the convenience store if they’re lucky — when they used to make 5x as much at the job that was outsourced. Add in the rising rates of single parent homes, foreclosures, and so on, and there’s a lot of actual misery out there.

        Now I don’t know about you but what this tells me is that the sort of thing people respond to is plans for jobs and plans for wealth and security for their children, not scaremongering bull$hit claims and spending money we don’t have on polar bears. The US voter is plenty cheesed off (cf the last election.)

        The climate is the least of people’s problems and polls show this, which of course surprise those in academia what with their ultra-secure tenured positions; they’re essentially not living on the same planet as the average citizen. They *think* they understand (they’re academics, duh) and they *think* they relate, but they don’t. Jobs in academia don’t get outsourced to China; there aren’t corporate takeovers that threaten to shred and sell off their division leaving them with no way to pay the mortgage. They don’t worry about health care since they’re not working part time at 3 jobs, none of which provide affordable coverage to part timers.

        The **only** realistic approach to climate issues at the present is to start ramping up nuclear energy, which will solve some of the jobs problem, make some electric-power tech stuff (e.g. cars) more feasible, and so on. That we reduce CO2 is a side effect, but either way, the average people win as does the activist community.

        Once electric energy is in better shape then other things can be tackled. For example lawnmowers spew more *actual* pollution than cars do, so another little thing that can be done is to promote electric powered units via tax incentives, and so on, and so on. The only way that the activist’s goal can be reached is reliable and relatively cheap replacement energy for fossil fuels. And you do this one little bit at a time.

        So sure, (and I saw her face, now) I’m a believer (AGW) but I believe even more in practical problem solving. Of course I do: I’m an engineer, damn it, not a climatologist*. Screeching about polar bears doesn’t solve problems; it just creates more.

        *apologies to Dr McCoy in Star Trek

      • Wow! Thanks for that reference. 2 yrs. old, and yet fresh as tomorrow: http://numberwatch.co.uk/lying.htm

      • randomengineer

        Brian — AGW isn’t lying. It is real. Humans change their environment and this also includes the climate. With 6 billion souls it’s impossible NOT to change the environment. All species change their environment. We aren’t that special; give elephants modern tech and they’d be doing as much emitting as we humans.

        The problem here is with policies as advocated by the extremists, which is a halt to *all* CO2 emissions.

        But look here:


        Note that a goodly percentage of CO2 emission is based on land use and other stuff of human existence that can only come to a halt if humans stopped existing (and even then I’m sure the Bison would step in and do the job for us.) You think we can feed 6 to 7 billion people if we stop farming? Of course not. What extremists want is absurd.

        And yet, limiting CO2 is a good idea. It really does work pretty much as advertised. And we don’t know what the result will be. Some say it will be bad; others say it’s good. But the most important thing is that no matter what, we’re not fortune tellers: we don’t know. Since we seem to be well suited to the world as it is, the null hypothesis is to make as little change as we can manage. That’s not claiming thaat the present is the ideal world temp or anything silly like that. Rather, it’s saying that we already know what the present is like, and since this is known, it’s probably a good idea to keep it like we found it.

        There are good ways to limit CO2 emission such as nuclear energy, which I promote because energy is wealth. We can limit CO2 and not go overboard handing the keys to government to green extremists, and dude (may I call you dude?), I’m just as untrusting of them as you are. The trick here is to find ways everyone can agreee with that are not idiotic taxes and government intrusions so as to limit the impact we know we’ll have without getting our knickers in a twist.

        Do we have any common ground here?

      • Not much. All historical evidence indicates that both higher CO2 and higher temperature are boons. Also that there’s precious little connection between them.

        So we agree only that the mitigation recommendations/demands are insane.

      • P.S.
        They are, too, lying. Coverups are not pursued so vigourously for nothing. And the “follow the money” rule indicates why they are lying, or at least much of the reason. There are more along the same lines (prestige, power, and ideology are prominent.)

      • well said.

      • All of which makes me wonder that you and I should disagree on the small matter of CO2 – but wondering at something is a lot better than bickering about it:-)

        Regarding electric cars, it has always struck me that ANY attempt to make an EV that did not embody the means of hot-swapping the battery was doomed to marginal success, probably failure. I realise there is an almighty chicken/egg issue here, and I realise that one company, http://australia.betterplace.com/global-progress-israel at least, has bitten the bullet and is trialling a system in Tel Aviv. But going back decades, there have been and continue to be many extremely expensive attempts to design EVs with no swappability built into the design. The hope is expressed that if they can get their recharge time down from overnight to a couple of hours, they might overcome “range anxiety” to a sufficient degree that a viable product will emerge. This has always seemed to me absurdly optimistic, in the same way that I think you and I agree that “controlling CO2” is, if the nuclear option is dismissed. Keeping on producing designs that presuppose that a downtime in the order of hours will ever be acceptable is surely, as Oscar Wilde said of marrying a second time, “to allow hope to triumph over experience”? Why did/do they persist? Doesn’t it suggest that their minds are not entirely focussed on designing a realistic product? And aren’t they just squandering R&D effort? They don’t even seem to be taking notice of what goes on in vehicle fleets that DO run on batteries, which have been hot-swapping for a century or more. And to turn the telescope around, rather than subsidising the continued pursuit of recharge-downtime vehicles, wouldn’t that public money be better spent trying to break the chicken/egg paradox by establishing a hot-swap protocol, and running trials like the Better Place one? Your engineer’s thoughts?

      • randomengineer

        I’ve wondered WTF they’re thinking as well. One of the first things you learn on the job as an engineer is to identify the problem set. Without even veering into engineering concerns it seems to me that there are political concerns that need to be addressed first. To make electric motors and batteries of any decent power in enough quantity that every western family has hybrid or EV, this requires stuff like neodynium. This is found in countries that either don’t like us or would charge up the kazoo; the current problem of paying out vast sums of cash to places that don’t like us for raw materials would not go away. It would just be a different material and a different set of countries. Right now the supplies appear to be stable. But note that the raw materials aren’t found in the US. There’s always going to be a political angle. China I think has most of the world’s neodynium. Right now we get along with China. But will we in 20 years as they assume hegemon status in the Pacific?

        Overall the problem with CO2 activists is that they seem oblivious of realpolitik. What’s needed is a plan, a course if you will, something that’s practical and stands a chance to work.

      • Actually, there’s a fair amount of the stuff about, in the US, Greenland, and now even showing up in seafloor nodules. What China has is a tolerance for the very toxic refining process.

      • The matter of ‘range anxiety’is much discussed on the comment pages of TeslaMotors.com. It would appear that the ~1400 owners of the 240-mi. Roadster have no such concerns. If they need to go on a very long trip, they use other vehicles, owned or rented for the purpose. They often start by assuming the Roadster will be a special purpose “fun” car, but end up using it for everything possible, from commuting to shopping (though its storage is limited compared to a sedan, e.g.!)
        The next model up will have up to 300 mi. range, and have ample passenger and storage, the ‘Model S’ sports sedan. About 3,000 have been pre-sold/reserved.

      • Michael Larkin


        I think some would say you’d fall into the lukewarmer camp. It’s a spectrum all the way from rabid and uniformed on one side to rabid and uniformed on the other. You are somewhere in the sensible bit where we can all have civil conversations.

  17. Judith,
    When the global warming theory crashes, what happens to the “peer-reviewed” papers published?

  18. Michael Tobis & climate change advocates: What do you want from the media in coverage of climate change?

    It seems that any coverage that is not 100% in accord with the climate change line is out of bounds or “false equivalence” or evidence of conspiracy from big oil or anti-science deniers, or insufficient to scare the wits out of everybody.

    It’s hard for me to reconcile these criticisms with a democratic open society and a free press.

    • Reporting of science should distinguish between mainstream science and fringe opinion correctly. When fringe opinion is selected for attention, it should not be on the basis of whether it has political support. Mainstream opinion should not be oversimplified, understated, or cast as a pole in a two-sided debate.

      The spectrum of opinion looks something like this schematic: http://is.gd/krFsX

      The press should be reporting it the way it is, not in the way that sells newspapers.

      • Michael – please could you tell me the source of that distribution graph? Thanks.

      • I made it up. It’s a schematic representation of my opinion. There is no data behind it and no social scientist had anything to do with it.

      • lol

      • Michael Tobis: Thanks for the reply and the link to the interesting graph.

        Not surprisingly I have reservations. For instance what do you do with a prominent scientist like James Lovelock who gets coverage in major papers and magazines hawking an extreme catastrophe view to the far right in your graph?

        I say that it’s nonsense to suppose that media coverage of the fringe catastrophe view is near-zero. As I mentioned eariler, one-third of Americans, especially children, are now convinced that the human race will cease to exist because of global warming.

      • Lovelock is obviously one guy past the IPCC position who gets any press. He is so far off the deep end that people feel comfortable writing him off. The more important exception is Hansen, but he gets more coverage for what he does than what he says.

        Other than those two, I don’t see anything in the mainstream media that suggests IPCC could as easily be understatement as overstatement. In general, it often seems to be presented as a debate between the Heartland Institute position and the IPCC position which may represent the politics accurately but misrepresents the science.

      • randomengineer

        I’m wondering if you have a reading comprehension issue. Time magazine is pretty typical of press coverage where the mainstream we’s all gonna fry IPCC position is pounded upon as “reality” and the skeptical position is mentioned but in such a way as to make it crystal clear that this is crankery believed only by dimwits. To the uncritical eye it could appear that the IPCC position and the skeptic position are given equal space. To those who actually bothered to read the damn thing, the skeptical position is presented as contrast against reality.

      • Maybe people who publish charts that they just made up shouldn’t talk about misrepresenting the science?

        In all honesty you sound like the old joke about a woman defining promiscuous as someone who slept with more men than she had. By which I only mean that it might be considered legitimate to question your definition of mainstream…

        Moderation note: Tom, please tone it down a bit, I don’t want a reprisal of the Tobis/Fuller flame wars here. Thanks.

      • Apologoies to all.

      • Just because something is a schematic diagram doesn’t mean it is cheating. I simply have a bunch of impressions that would be harder to convey in words than in a chart. Scientists do this habitually in informal conversation.

        The problem arises only when somebody takes a diagram meant to indicate a rough preliminary impression and treats it as if it were data. But since my graph has no quantitative x-axis it seems hard for me to see how it could be seen as other than schematic.

        As we have seen, quantitative efforts to actually measure professional opinion in the field have been met not only with difficulty but sometimes with fierce and peculiar resistance.

      • Nobody is resisting efforts to quantify professional opinion. However efforts to mischaracterize both opinions and their holders both should be and are resisted. If Spencer Weart can recognize the ludicrous quality of the paper dicussed at your link, it should be reasonably clear to all that the paper does not contribute to our understanding.

      • Just as a side note on quantifying professional opinion, this is something that normally involves actually asking professinals what their opinion is.

      • Hansen is way past the IPCC consensus, so is Gore.
        Suzuki is more rabid than Hansen.
        Just ‘fess up: You are wrong in characterizing the press as not sufficiently supportive of your position.
        You will feel better if you do.

      • And who is going to enforce that rule?
        Under your enlightened standards, we would not have gotten plate tectonics or helio bacter, eugenics would still be with us, and in Russia, Lysenko would still be king.
        All you seem to actually offer is disingenuous call for censorship. Which is, I might add, in line with your underlying belief that AGW is so bad that there are no norms to constrain its believers.

      • I said nothing of the sort, in either case.

        The incessant way in which some people try to put the worst possible spin on what others say makes it clear that their attitudes to the problem are political, not scientific.

      • A very funny statement coming from the person, who does that repeatedly. You continually write your policy OPINIONS and try to state them as science. It is your opinion that CO2 is a potential problem, it is by no mean a fact or even highly probable

      • It’s practically certain that CO2 will be a major problem within the lifetimes of people now living, and likely that it is causing major problems already. That is what the science says.

      • Michael, the science most assuredly does not say that. Have you been on sabbatical the last couple of years. Gosh, where does one begin??

      • Geez, Tobis, you’ve got some nerve coming here and using the term ‘practically certain’ after what you’ve written about the host of this blog and her writing about ‘uncertainty’.

        Enlighten the world on th escientific meaning of the term ‘practically’ or someone might start talking about your competence and understanding of climate change, or your currency on the literature, or something equally stupid–umm, no, that’s your schtick, never mind.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘it is likely that it is causing major problems already’

        So major that despite 4 billion dollars of expenditure per year and a whole activist/political/psuedoscience movement looking for them they have remained stubbornly undetectable?

        Of course, how stupid of me. This is Climatology. A faith-based religion where the absence of any facts need never trouble the the True Believers.

      • Michael, for you to state what you did tells me not not as serious as first thought. There are only two explanations 1. You capable of reading only left-handed science or 2. You are the tummler who is filling in for the filibustering Dereco64.

      • Huh, The science says no such thing.

        The science says.

        IF Population increases like this or that, and IF emissions rise like this or that or this or that, and IF models that cant get the absolute temperature correct are correct when you average them all together, Then you will see temps that look kinda like this or that and sea levels that kinda look like this or that. Now, assuming all that, you have some challenges.

        Don’t oversell the science. Personally, I’m perfectly willing to support a crash course on nuclear based on what the “science” “projects.” And that course of action is one that would get approval from the right. So why for over 20 years have the people who believe in AGU, especially here in the states, been so pigheaded that they ignore the one grounds for agreement with the right? Is it perhaps, that having fought nuclear for so long they cannot bring themselves to say they were wrong? The risks of not going nuclear far out weigh the risks of going nuclear..

        I expect the merchants of doubt will now say that we dont know enough about the risks of nuclear to push forward.

        And yes I know you kinda support nuclear. If you want to make a difference, make that a priority. Get Hansen on board.

      • Geez, now you go being all logical and thinking…..if only we could get more of that out of all on this topic

      • Michael says:
        “It’s practically certain that CO2 will be a major problem within the lifetimes of people now living, and likely that it is causing major problems already. That is what the science says.”

        Reality check now Michael. That statement goes far beyond what the science says and takes us deep into science fiction.

      • Wow.

        IPCC AR4 WG II says otherwise, and it predates the Australian drought, the Russian heat wave, the Pakistani floods, and the Arctic sea ice retreat to mention just the most notably peculiar and disconcerting large scale events since the report.

      • Latimer Alder

        And these pretty normal events have anything to do with carbon dioxide because……?

        a. Its what the IPCC was set up to say, so it has to say it.
        b.If we don’t say it our grants will be cut.
        c. It is just too boring to say …yep that’s weather and unusual things happen every year.
        d. If we haven’t got something to blame than all of climatology is pointless and we’ll have to get real jobs.
        e. Because there is some scientific proof (as yet unpublished) that shows it.
        f. Because we have a deep-seated need to believe in a bogeyman and assuage our guilt about soemthing or other.

      • Michael says:
        “IPCC AR4 WG II says otherwise, and it predates the Australian drought, the Russian heat wave, the Pakistani floods, and the Arctic sea ice retreat to mention just the most notably peculiar and disconcerting large scale events since the report.”

        A moment of comic relief perhaps. Most of those weather events occurred during the 19th century as well. Long before AR4. Weather happens.

        As to AR4WG2, it is not really about science much. Most of the contributers were politicians, not climate scientists.

      • The incessant way in which some people try to put the worst possible spin on what others say makes it clear that their attitudes to the problem are political, not scientific.

        Two thoughts:

        First – of course the attitudes are political. Science can provide a mixture of facts and probabilties, but the responses are inherently political. Differing tolerances to risks and differing values make it impossible to objectively come up with one “right” answer.

        Second – the extremes in rhetoric (of which both “sides” are guilty) are extremely unhelpful. Aside from the fact that it’s naive to expect agreement from someone when you’ve just questioned his parents marital status, it also paints you into a corner. It takes a lot of integrity to back down from a wrong position and the more extreme the reversal, the harder it is. Compromise is required, and rightly so. Recognizing that the labels generally reflect policies and not people is a good starting point. Also, bonus points for recognizing that the poster children for bad behavior on both the right and left (Josef, Adolf, Pol, Francisco, etc.) were, in the end, far more wedded to their own self-aggrandizement than any ideology.

      • Michael,
        You are the one saying that AGW is an existential threat of dire proportions that has only the most minimal of limits on actions to thwart it.

      • Absolutely not. I am saying that conservatives, and particularly American conservatives, need to get on board with this.

        One wing of the political spectrum cannot possibly achieve this. The US government even when strongly in the control of one party cannot possibly ram this through against people’s wishes, as has recently been demonstrated.

        The same is true in most other countries. There really has to be a broad public consensus based in a widespread and realistic understanding, and we are sadly a long way from that. Indeed, in the last year we’ve made retrograde progress.

        Once the situation is properly understood then appropriate compromises can be worked out. Until then we are stymied, and we cannot afford to be stymied much longer.

      • Michael, I would agree with you that it will require a concerted bicameral effort to implement policy changes. The roadblock is that conservatives will have to be absolutely convinced that there is an issue to be concerned with. The problem is that conservatives are skeptics for good reason, for the umpteenth reasons stated elsewhere. Additionally, even with the data that do exist, there is good reason to doubt the quality and veracity, especially given the activist nature of the players on the cAGW side. There is just not a lot of trust.

  19. Ceri was so right. In fact scientists getting involved with politics and dictating policies is one of the caveats highlighted by Eisenhower in his final address as President.

  20. Q: …”Why, in your opinion, has climate science become so important for political power?”
    A: It’s a major recurring issue in the media; it sells ads and commercial time. It’s a BIG money issue for everyone. There are a LOT of “sympathetic” voters who are pro or con. There’s a heck of a lot more voters who might have to pay bigtime for any decision the politician makes and this decision may very well impact his/her reelection.

    Q: “Who are the most important players, both scientists and politicians, in the history of the relationship between climate science and politics?”
    A: Fourty years ago it was science and scientists. Since then, gradually to be sure, it has become all political and politicians and enviromentalists and Wall Streeters and fanatics rule.

    Q: “Who did play the most important role in forging this relationship?”
    A: Paraniod “Chicken Little Psyentists” and Ultra-Liberal Politicians looking to restart The Revolution of the 1960’s.

    Q: “Who are the scientists or politicians that you shouldn’t forget to cite if you are talking about climate science and politics?”
    A: There are now sooooooo many that, seriously, you don’t have to cite anyone. Honest! You don’t have to cite anyone, just start talking.

    Q: “The combination of Schneider’s passing and climategate has arguably been a game changer in this regard. So what is a concerned climate scientist to do?”
    A: Do the science. The real, hard, honest, tested, reproducible science. Discuss your work with anyone who’s interested and approaches you. Don’t campaign Don’t be used by others.

    Climatology has been taken over by social, economic, and political forces (this includes the “media”). These forces are using anything they want to further their advancement (or undermined their opponents). Professional organizations and related sciences have unknowingly (and knowingly) become embroiled in the barnyard ruckus. “Money” has so very much to do with this. “Power” comes second. “Ideology” is third. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your objectives) “science” is not part of the mix anymore, not when it comes to Anthroprogenic Global Warming or Anthroprogenic Global Climate Change.

    • I also think fashion plays into this theme. Somehow, it became cool and trendy to embrace green activism–people thoughtlessly cloak themselves in a warm, friendly, self-perpetuating bubble…it’s as if facts are irrelevant. I also think self-selection happens…why would a young person be attracted to a soft, mushy, easily-manipulated field like modern climatology where there is abundant chaos and wide error bands to exploit instead of a more rigorous field like engineering? What does it say about this young person?

  21. Pascvaks explains well how climate science has dug a deep hole for itself , Quite quickly as the science became biased by money politics and the media the science was undermined.
    No amount of warming models/predictions published in peer review journals will improve this situation.
    The advancement of the science must transcend the political and financial arguments or it just becomes a victim of outrageous media exageration. The casualties of this ideology are appearing rapidly and ironically its because some, including the Met Office were living in a dellusional world where the world of climate change had made talking about cold weather just not politically correct

  22. This is only somewhat related to the thread, but the relevant one is way under the bridge. I once asked Dr. Curry about the quality of incoming students. Well, it seems even once in college their understanding of basic science is very limited.

    After reading this I asked myself: Is it any wonder college students get sucked in to emotionally based eco-causes/NGO’s that spout claims based on questionable science? This troubling press release comes from Michigan State University. A link to the full paper follows below, which is well worth reading because it gives insight into the questions and answers given. It is quite an eye-opener. – Anthony

    EAST LANSING, Mich. — Most college students in the United States do not grasp the scientific basis of the carbon cycle – an essential skill in understanding the causes and consequences of climate change, according to research published in the January issue of BioScience.

    Most students did not truly understand the processes that transform carbon. They failed to apply principles such as the conservation of matter, which holds that when something changes chemically or physically, the amount of matter at the end of the process needs to equal the amount at the beginning. (Matter doesn’t magically appear or disappear.)

    Students trying to explain weight loss, for example, could not trace matter once it leaves the body; instead they used informal reasoning based on their personal experiences (such as the fat “melted away” or was “burned off”). In reality, the atoms in fat molecules leave the body (mostly through breathing) and enter the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and water.

    Most students also incorrectly believe plants obtain their mass from the soil rather than primarily from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. “When you see a tree growing,” Anderson said, “it’s a lot easier to believe that tree is somehow coming out of the soil rather than the scientific reality that it’s coming out of the air.”


  23. What is the real meaning of global warming alarmism?

    It is short for, ‘Welcome to the fall of Western civilization.’ The new reality is the fall of productivity and the rise of a never-ending battle against government-sponsored prejudice and discrimination against the productive:

    What society faces is governments use of global warming alarmism to consolidate power through internal disintegration of identity and by the pathological perpetuation of hatred of business and capitalism, the promotion of prejudice and discrimination against the productive—a group comprised of workers and entrepreneurs in the free enterprise sector—and, by creating negative stereotypes and fear of Americanism and defining as the common enemy those espousing patriotism, nationalism and Judeo-Christian ideals.

    • You forgot to mention “white people” as part of the “common enemy”.

    • Wag, I would suggest not responding to DR64. Richard Courtney tried yesterday, and I tried to engage him in paleo reconstructions. He was unresponsive. If you follow his posts he appears to be nothing more than a junior member of the Rapid Response team, or at the very least a Romm-like troll. Let’s just say he is not very deep.

      • Actually, you seemed to think that MBH98 has been “refuted” – nothing of the sort. Plus, given the sloppiness and cherry-picking of the Wegman report (forget the plagiarism for now), and the fact that MBH98 has long since been superseded, your claims are rather, shall we say, not credible.

      • cherry picking and sloppiness? From you?
        Anytime you want to see a compleat idiot, look in a mirror.

      • Thanks for the unintentional self-immolation.

      • You desperately wish it were so.

      • Bob,

        If I could offer a bit of a dissenting opinion. D64 seems to be both improving the depth of his troll act and getting pretty good at it. I mean:

        “You forgot to mention ‘white people’ as part of the ‘common enemy.'”

        My opinion, that’s a very good troll–a non sequitur with a good “needle” to it. And its very obscurity adds to its appeal.

        Give the “devil” his due. But you want to get D64’s “goat?” Ask him if he doesn’t think a leading public figure, UN official, and noted smut-novelist bears a certain resemblance to an illustration by a gent named Eliphas Levi.

      • Snide comments about Pachauri don’t bother me – why do you think they would?

        That said, Wagathon’s comment is just plain dumb – “defining as the common enemy those espousing patriotism, nationalism and Judeo-Christian ideals”. Sounds to me like Archie Bunker. No room in his USA for non-Jews and non-Christians, apparently.

      • D64

        Isn’t this exactly the sort of vitriolic language that leads to bloodshed?

      • Whose language? Mine or Wagathon’s?

      • D64

        Why your language, of course, D64. You’re the only one using vitriolic language. Self-awareness, D64! Self-awareness!

      • What’s “vitriolic” about pointing out that Wagathon’s comment makes it clear that non-Jews and non-Christians are unwelcome in America? Toss in his “My country, love it or leave it” “patriotism”, and it’s rather disturbing.

      • D64,

        So now you’re trying to blame the victim! That’s low, D64. I’m very disappointed in you. I expected better.

      • “Victim” of what? His own rhetoric? Certainly.

        That’s why I made the original comment I did – clearly, Wagathon uses the same language as those who want the USA to be solely WASPs. No-one else.

      • D64,

        Let me wrap this up, D64. Your unremitting, dreadful, humorless seriousness is holdin’ yah back from the troll big-time, guy. You might want to re-think your schtick. Tenacity is not everything. Folks don’t feed mere tenacity over the long-haul and “gettin’ fed” is the name of the game in the troll-business.

      • What I enjoy bestest about D64 is his utter lack of self awareness.

      • Uh.. Huh. Vitriol?

        Breaking down the list of key words:

        1) Wagathon

        “rise of a never-ending battle”
        “government-sponsored prejudice and discrimination”
        “society faces”
        “consolidate power”
        “internal disintegration”
        “pathological perpetuation of hatred”
        “promotion of prejudice and discrimination”
        “negative stereotypes”
        “common enemy”

        2) D64
        “not credible”

        Vitriol score, Wagathon=11, D64=5.

        Wagathon more than twice as vitriolic as D64.

        And not a little creepy, with the whole conspiracy-theory aura.

      • BR,

        For the most part, I’m an awestruck lurker on this blog, thrilled to be able to tag-along with the “big boys” (always keeping a respectful distance, of course). But when one of my betters offers a jerk-off comment like:

        “You forgot to mention ‘white people’ as part of the ‘common enemy.'”

        then he descends to my level and enters into my sphere of competence. So I screwed with D64 a bit. He deserved it and I enjoyed it. That’s all. I mean, I expect more of my heroes.

      • Bart R,

        While I do enjoy run-downs of bad words, mike has a point and D64 can take it. Besides, that some others are worse than D64 does not excuse D64.

        Where mike might be a little naughty is when he tries to deflect the reader’s attention to the fact that bloodsheds are led by ideas conveyed by sentences like:

        > [D]efining as the common enemy those espousing patriotism, nationalism and Judeo-Christian ideals.

        more than any vitriolic sentences conveying ideas that might be inoffensive.

      • willard

        Not denying mike’s right to his opinions, just like when a game’s being played for the scoreboard to reflect the action on the field.

        That D64’s a big boy and can handle the abuse, hardly my concern.

        My love of pointing out the obvious hypocrisies of obvious hypocrits sometimes needs to be indulged.

        To be honest, I don’t have much opinion of the content of the D64 saga, as I don’t read most of what goes on in threads involving D64, since they tend to attract obvious trolls, put-down artists and non-contributory contributors. (Wonder what this says about me?)

        Maybe it’s his cologne?

      • I can see I may have left the wrong impression.

        My comment on vitriolic language was a self-evident (I had hoped) “idiot” comment–intended merely to “screw” with D64. I latched onto the comment since it is in-sync with a current “idiot” assault on vitriol pervading the blogosphere in the aftermath of the tragic shooting incident involving Congresswoman Giffords and others. In point of fact, I’m in favor of vitriol (within limits, of course).

        Much to my pleasant surprise and astonishment, Bart R provided a statistical analysis of my “naughty” and playful comment. I loved it! But then I’m a sucker for BR’s sort of innocent, literal-minded, geeky charm.

      • D64 is making Tobis problem of communicating to the public harder. But you will never see MT explain to D64 that his responses just worsen the conflict. D64 belives in street warfare against skeptics. The problem is that once people have been exposed to D64 they are pretty much lost to rational persuasion from MT.

      • randomengineer

        It seems though rather typical of the entire climate oeuvre. For example I was doing some homework re James Webb Space Telescope and for a lark clicked on the WIKI entry for Nobel Laureate John Mather, project scientist for it, who is arguably one of the finest science minds of the era. Interestingly the WIKI page for Jim Hansen is about 15x as long despite 15x fewer accomplishments. This sort of thing permeates the entire business. There are ‘activists’ out there who are apparently unwittingly sabotaging what serious effort there is. I’m not the only party to notice these types of things, all of which add up, especially to those more skeptical, in such a way as to underscore the notion of con job. Little things add up.

        When discussing nuclear with Dr Tobis d64 then trots out the environmental extremist ‘nukular waste’ business, which I was surprised by; I was under the impression that the scientific / technical community at large was aware that this is essentially a done (solved) deal and the only pushback was by politically motivated ignoranti. On a science oriented forum, especially where such a thing is likely to be discussed re policy, this strikes me as, to be charitable, absurd.

        And yes, when you fail to see Dr Tobis (and others!) dress down extremism, it’s no wonder that skeptics become even more hardened in their views. Time and again we hear claims that the problem is communication, and what you’re pointing out here is that yes, this is indeed the problem. Nobody is ever going to change their mind being screeched at. The little things add up.

      • Sorry, mosh … I must have missed it. Could you provide a link to a comment from MT in which he uses “rational persuasion” (as opposed to what I have observed is his most frequent mode of response – which is to appeal to his own authority).

      • he feigns at it, which is a start.

      • MT does not lose becuase of DR64 or other trolls.
        MT loses because of the quality of the case, no matter how eloquently and sincerely he presents it.

  24. Socialists say that everything and everybody (including scientist) are necessarily “political” in some sense. Therefore the idea of “pure” science and research free from political influcence would be ideologically contradictious.
    It is no secret that marxist thought is dominating the academic debate in social sciences. In natural sciences (at least after Stalin and Lyssenko) there was no similar bias to observe for many years. Physical sciences seemed to be protected by an osmotic mebrane: climate physicists could be marxists or neo-liberals, it had poor influence on the results and the success of their work.

    Things began to change in the last two or three decades when social scientists startet to use ecology as a concept of theoretical models and apply it to their theories on social and climate issues. What is happening since then might be called a lapse of scholarship and academic standards in natural sciences. Like trojan horses ecological thought and environmentalism have conquered many fields of research and many academic institutions (the IPCC by the way has rather to be called a political than a scientific body). These trojan horses affect both – results and discourse, tearing down the walls (or the curtains) between science and politics.
    Pascvaks is perfectly right, besides “power” and “ideology” just follow the money and its smearing traces.

    • > It is no secret that marxist thought is dominating the academic debate in social sciences.

      By chance there is no secret there, for if it was, we might have to support this claim. It is no secret that this is the secret to beg the question.

      • Do you think most academics at leading schools are conservatives who support natural law and American exceptionalism and honest capitalism?

      • Of course, not being conservative, not supporting natural law (a concept that merits due diligence) and American exceptionalism (another concept meriting due diligence) and honest capitalism (by honest brokers, no doubt) entails that one is a marxist.

      • I am surprised that you leapt to that conclusion.
        But of course it also means that if you are attracted to an extreme area, one is going to travel left, not right.

      • > But of course it also means that if you are attracted to an extreme area, one is going to travel left, not right.

        Mindreading and pigeonholeing.

      • Demonstrating only that sarcasm can be lost on the internet, mon ami.

      • MT,
        Alas, I did not miss it, I just returned it poorly.

      • randomengineer

        Actually you can see this in action. Go over to dot earth and look for the thread regarding the invention of an energy technology that uses CO2 as an input and Revkin remarks that this will also solve urban sprawl and gridlock via public transport etc. Remake the cities.

        In the commentary section the well educated climate and social science folks (scientists and others) are all over this idea, the notion that government’s role is to design cities whereupon they also tell you what you drive (if at all) and where you live.

        To the left winger it’s nirvana, to the right winger, a nightmare dystopia. What Ralph is saying is that the indoctrination in statism is so deep that there weren’t any questions regarding rights of the individual, no questions regarding the proper role of government, etc. My guess is that you can read Revkin’s piece and the commentary and see nothing untoward whatsoever, which of course is Ralph’s point.

      • Ralph’s point is to take for granted what he should burden himself to show. Speaking of statism would indeed be more accurate than marxism. It would still be undefined, and as such would still merit due diligence. Speaking of libertarianism without speaking of the feats of Alan Greenspan is a tour de force.

        Inspecting a blog thread is really tough without selection bias. Everyone will confirm her own prejudices by reading the Revkin thread.

        In any case, generalizing this to the mindset of the overall academia only serves the purpose to establish the common anti-elitist mindframing. Let’s wonder what party takes advantage of that kind of rhetorical trick. Take for instance the last elections in the US.

      • randomengineer

        In any case, generalizing this to the mindset of the overall academia only serves the purpose to establish the common anti-elitist mindframing.

        Ummmm…. no. The interesting thing about stereotypes is that there’s always a core truth to them else they wouldn’t be stereotypes. Moreover, the ability to locate exceptions tends to prove the rule is correct. Ralph’s assertion that academia has managed to inculate statism (especially leftist varieties thereof) is largely correct, and you can’t handwave this away by claiming anti-elitist backlash.

        More importantly, “elitist” is something else altogether, and using google you can find Charles Murray talking about elitism in articles, many of which are for his upcoming book. Murray is clever and worth listening to. Conflating elitism with educational level is a common (lefty) misrepresentation. Are there some correlations? Of course; elitism is a socioeconomic phenomenon and upper brackets tend to get their offspring in college more than average. But the terms are not fungible. There’s also a recent article re college education value (look on Jerry Pournelle’s site for this; it’s fairly recent) where it’s made clear that the value in college is in contact lists moreso than education itself. Elitism is about who you know and more importantly who you don’t know.

        Lastly the implied barb at republicans is fascinating; more of them are college grads than democrats. As Murray points out the elitism in academia tends to be leftist and the elitism outside academia tends to be right wing. That sorta obviates whatever point you think you had.

      • /1. Here are starting points to talk about elitism:


        We can see that there are at least two forms of anti-elitism: populism and pluralism. Unless we are having a failure to communicate, we must be discussing about the populist kind. So talking about anti-elitism here is most certainly talking about populism.

        /2. For our task, this sentence should suffice to characterize populism:

        > In politics, the terms are often used to describe people as being out of touch with the Average Joe. The implication is that the alleged elitist person or group thinks they are better than everyone else; and, therefore, put themselves before others.

        Notice the words **the terms are often used**. It might be important to note that we’re talking about discursive patterns, not behavioral ones. This has much more to do with politicians trying to get to Washington than with voters “getting their offspring in college.” And this has much more to do with what a politician alleges her opponent is doing than what the politician promises to do herself.

        /3. We must beware conflating discourses and deeds. That political leaders use populism to get elected and then implement elitist measures is certainly not an uncommon trick. It might even be considered one of the marvels of political machines, be it Republican or Democrat. That more Republicans are college grads than Democrats is irrelevant to all this.

        /4. The only warrant we have for one Frank’s assumption for his claim that leftism explains CAGW (paraphrasing) is this:

        > As Murray points out the elitism in academia tends to be leftist and the elitism outside academia tends to be right wing.

        That ‘sorta’ reinforces my point: lots of armwaving, coupled with a little handwaving. Let’s also note how it discounts the Overton window. The ideas put forward by Charles Murray merit due dilligence:


        A brilliant publicist.

        /5. Digging a bit more into this question, we are led to a more general and venerable “ism”:


        The American version seems to be as old as the country itself. Under the section **Educational anti-intellectualism**, we see that David Horowitz, William Bennett, and Patrick Buchanan criticize schools and universities as ‘intellectualist’ based on three sets of criteria, the first one being:

        > Political bias: That university professors, instructors, and lecturers, inculcate secular values to the students without ëequal timeí for analogue views. Proponents of such arguments assert that the political bias sacrifices objectivity and traditional religious values in favour of political radicalism and left-wing perspectives, especially in the Humanities, and in the social sciences that challenge the cultural validity of white patriarchy, and in some cases exist chiefly for the purpose of doing so.

        Notice that Wikipedia prefers “inculcate” to “inculate”.

      • Ralph, not Frank.

  25. What is IMO (in the first post of this thread)
    I Googled it and found nothing that makes sense.

  26. It’s all very well stating that we just should not be perturbing the system if we can help it and that our net contribution should be zero CO2 just in case. However if it were possible to do that without doing much more harm than good to humans then there would be no argument. Lot’s of other environmental issues rested on flimsy grounds but we decided better safe than sorry. This one isn’t so easy, it involves dismantling our entire energy supply system.

    That’s why I don’t mind scientists getting political. Once they realize the real difficulties and tough decisions involved, then I hope they might appreciate the opposition arguments a bit more. I resent the idea that it is just “political will” that is involved. It is in fact the most challenging engineering project the world has ever faced with huge potential costs and all over something that might very well be insigificant. If there are win-win solutions in the short term then it helps; eg soot control, reforestation.

    Ultimately two things will likely happen imo: large scale retrofit carbon capture and storage, or business as usual with green tech coming onstream slowly. Meantime the 2 degrees of warming is a safe target judging by the results so far.

  27. The politics of climate expertise. Economic policies are enacted via a political process. The rationale of those climate related policies can only be justified by reasonably correct forecasting from “climate scientists”.

    As an example- In the United States, many have proposed a “Cap and Trade” policy to discourage usage of CO2 emitting technologies. IMO, before deciding to support such a policy it would seem necessary to know what this policy would cost to implement and what would be the benefit.

    If for instance, the policy would cost hundreds of billions to implement but would only reduce worldwide CO2 levels from 520 ppm to 490 ppm 25 years from now, and that reduction could not be shown to have any positive benefit to the climate, could the policy be rationally supported?

  28. Michael, you say “I keep saying that we should get off carbon “as quickly as is economically feasible”. The worry is that the day will come that there is no window left, that there will be no economically feasible path away from cascading decline”. Is your fear that we will deplete carbon at some distant time or that you are so entre nched in your belief of cAGW that you are blind to all other options? You must be aware of the societal benefits of elevated CO2 in terms of warmth and food to the masses, but perhaps you are just indifferent. Could you have an ulterior motive for your demands? You must also be aware of conservation of matter, i.e. all the carbon we are burning now has always been here. Stop obfuscating and declare your real motives. Your musings will be much more understandable if you do.

    • Is your fear that we will deplete carbon at some distant time or that you are so entrenched in your belief of cAGW that you are blind to all other options?

      “cAGW” is not a well-defined position so I can’t say whether I subscribe to it until you define it.

      I believe that if all fossil fuels are burned without a balancing sequestration effort the probability of massive mortality, i.e., a severe stress-driven decline in global population as a direct result is very high. So that probably qualifies. I am willing to accept that this might be wrong, but frankly I find it hard to see how it could be.

      So I recommend acting as if a dire is very likely IF all the fossil fuels are consumed without a huge sequestration effort. Is that “cAGW”?

      OK then I hold that position, not with utter certainty, but with high enough certainty that it is difficult to imagine the evidence that could outweigh the evidence that supports it.

      As for depletion, it cannot come soon enough for me given the above. But though that doesn’t appear to be happening in the near future, it will eventually happen, and in the grand scheme of things may only extends the timeline by a few decades. Which means we still need to come to grips with the problem of replacing carbon in the foreseeable future.

      You must be aware of the societal benefits of elevated CO2 in terms of warmth and food to the masses, but perhaps you are just indifferent.

      Tell the people of Pakistan or Moscow about the warmth and the crop yields, please.

      Could you have an ulterior motive for your demands?

      Not a conscious one. I’d be thrilled beyond words to be proven wrong.

      You must also be aware of conservation of matter, i.e. all the carbon we are burning now has always been here.

      It was buried in rocks; now it is in the air, the ocean and the biosphere. This point is silly if you understand what is going on.

      Stop obfuscating and declare your real motives.

      I don’t want humans to grossly damage the world. I want western civilization to continue. That’s really about it.

      Admittedly, I’d like to be able to do this sort of advocacy full time rather than as a hobby, but I don’t get to do that at present. Admittedly, sometimes I get some ego gratification, though obviously not around this blog. Otherwise, this is just my way of pitching in and trying to help the world.

      Why are you advocating your position? Is it any different?

      • Michael, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am not convinced of anything you said, but that’s OK. I think I understand your position, but will continue to believe you are hopelessly naive. I hope I am right.

      • What do floods in Pakistan or heatwaves in Russia have to do with CO2?
        Why do you bring this up?
        It reflects badly on your claim to be credible.

      • ‘All fossil fuels’ is a red herring of whale-esque proportions.

  29. This is an interesting discussion that I was going to avoid. The assumption by liberal climate scientists that to scare the hell out of the public in order to get action, is the only way to get action, is probably there has been so little action.

    That works on the mind numb robots that so often support support warm and fuzzy issues. It does not work on less mind numbed groups that ask first, “How much is it gonna cost and what do we get for the money.” Anyone that believes any government can accomplish anything other than national defense and infrastructure economically is dreaming.

    The climate scientist should focus on real world solutions. UN treaties, cap and trade are not solutions, they are future problems. Solutions would be pragmatic steps toward the goal that have a high possibility of working which would encourage the acceptance of the next steps.

    Hansen had a great opportunity with Bush the Elder on black carbon. After Hansen’s presentation, Bush the Elder was all for reducing black carbon because that was something that could be done in a reasonable time frame without breaking the budget. Instead of accepting this first step, Hansen freaked out say that is was not enough or words to that effect. He should have accepted that minor victory and started working on a pragmatic second step.

    I am not sure who advised Bush the Younger on the 20 in 10 policy, but it is an excellent example of how warm and fuzzy legislation can blow up in your face. It did show that global economic impact needs to be more closely considered before action is taken. Forcing action through warm and fuzzy world governmental mandates is very unlikely, (95% confidence level :) ) to succeed.

    Moving to a near zero carbon emission economy will be even more difficult than selecting the correct statistical methods for a paper to show the need for the move to a near zero carbon emission economy :)

  30. Clearly human activities releases vast amounts of H2O into the air, which act as a greenhouse gas far more than CO2. the climate models do not adequately address this and thus can make no claim that it does not exists and that it is not more significant than CO2. Why is it that we are seeking to limit CO2 emmissions without also limiting H2O emmissions?

    • ge0050

      Because the residency time of long-term GHG’s is long term, and the residency of H2O is very short term?

    • This is an intelligent question, but the answer is well-understood. It has to do with the fundamental time scales of the related natural phenomenology.

      The residence time of a CO2 perturbation is centuries.

      The residence time of water vapor is negligible: the humidity of the atmosphere is set by a balance of precipitation and evaporation. If humans were to cause sufficiently excess evaporation, that much less will evaporate from the oceans.

      The comparable geological sink of CO2 (rock weathering) is dependent among other things on CO2 concentrations but has a time constant of hundreds of thousands of years. In nature, there have been a couple of events of very rapid CO2 rise in the very distant past (this can happen via volcanoes or via destabilization of methane clathrate deposits), but no events of rapid CO2 decline.

      • Michael,
        H2O replenishes due to evaporation.
        Saying that it only resides a few days or weeks is meaningless.
        As to CO2 residency that is not, as they say, settled science.

      • In nature, there have been a couple of events of very rapid CO2 rise in the very distant past (this can happen via volcanoes or via destabilization of methane clathrate deposits), but no events of rapid CO2 decline.

        Even if you are skeptical about ice cores as a proxy for CO2 it’s probably worth a look at the graph at the end of
        http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/press/journalists/resources/science/ice_cores_and_climate_change_briefing-sep10.pdf. If you read some of the referenced papers (and others) you’ll see a number of hypothesizes for why and how this is thought to happen.

      • I’ve not yet been able to get a handle on this concept:

        The residence time of water vapor is negligible: . . .

        If the residence time of water vapor is negligible, how come it seems that we never run out of clouds, and rain?
        Thanks for any info.

      • I must say the concept all seems a bit unclear and artificial to me too. As I understand it the measurement involves taking an atmosphere in equilibrium with a fixed quantum of GHG in it and injecting a pulse of one and then measuring how long it takes to revert beck to the equilibrium (assuming that it will revert to the old equilibrium I assume).

        The argument seems to be that water naturally precipitates out and so there is a fast mechanism whereby the pulse can revert. In fact if the air is saturated (as I understand it is in the tropics) the water presumably drops straight out.

        CO2 on the other hand has much slower processes – biological uptake through plants, reaction with metals to form carbonates, dissolving with water and being carried back to earth – and it is argued that all these process happen equally in reverse so there is little (or only long-term) tendency to revert to equilibrium. In effect the argument is that there is no real pressure (given the state of our current atmosphere) to cause CO2 to reduce in concentration, therefore we have a problem.

        Now what I don’t understand with water why an impulse couldn’t occur in such a way that a new equilibrium with higher concentrations of water (over the whole atmosphere) couldn’t occur (your question I think).

        And in respect to CO2 what are the forces that have led to our atmosphere changing so it sheds CO2, because notwithstanding M Tobis’ assertions this has most surely happened in the past.

        Residence time all seems a rather artificial concept and non-empirical concept because it depends on an impulse and them expecting a high dynamic to stay still while you check what happens. The real question seems to me is what’s going to happen in our real atmosphere today in the face of increasing CO2 concentration (and other man made gases).

      • OK, fair enough. To be more precise, the time constant of an H2O concentration perturbation is on the order of a day or two, though, while that of CO2 has several parts, the fastest of which is on the order of a century.

      • Order of a century? To be more precise?

        To be substantially more precise, meteorological fields are all turbulent and mostly sheer flows. As such, all transport equations have similar and have similar transport coefficients, so all turbulent diffusuvities are of the same order, including turbulent thermal diffusivity. Therefore, any (water or CO2 or else) concentration perturbations evolve/diffuse with the same rate and time constant. Please check some literature on turbulent Prandtl, Schmidt, and Peclet Numbers, and “Reynolds Analogy”.

        I wonder, when certain overly vocal people of climatology ever learn something about the object they are dealing with?

      • Al Tekhasski

        I understand how what you say might apply to thermal equilibria, but not how it could apply to the comparative diffusion of quick precipitation of a moderate vapor temperature chemical like water and the stoichiometry of a stable molecule like CO2.

        Prandtl, Schmidt, and Peclet Numbers, and “Reynolds Analogy” apply, I thought, mainly to heat?

        Water settles out easily because it turns liquid and solid easily at STP.

        CO2 settles out hard because it hates to react with common chemicals and doesn’t much like to be solid or liquid at temperatures and pressures in our environment.

        Could you clarify what you mean?

      • The statement was made about time constant of “concentration perturbation” to relax/dissolve. I gave the answer from fluid mechanics standpoint. And every turbulent flow is very-very far from “thermal equilibrium”.

        If you check the keywords, you would not ask about “mainly heat”. As I said, all these processes, heat, concentration, are formally identical substances from dynamics of turbulence standpoint, they all are so-called “passive scalar”, and their perturbations evolve and dissipate similarly. From this it follows in particular that you cannot “mix well and fast” some CO2, and don’t mix equally fast any temperature perturbations, they all relax with the same time constant, so their “imbalance” cannot last long.

        Now, I don’t know what does it mean “settles out” easy or less easy. There are conservation equations called Navier-Stokes Equations, and there are boundary conditions for them, which define the rate of production of various scalars at system boundaries, easy or not. It maybe true that water “settles out” somewhat more easily than CO2. However, even NASA defines the residence time of CO2 as 3 years, based on simple ratio of global fluxes to the overall size of air reservoir. Not “centuries”. Here you can find more dramatic speculative estimations based on measured boundary conditions for daily CO2 production and consumption:
        With certain imagination one can argue that all CO2 could be consumed just in 5 weeks if all sources are somehow eliminated.

      • I didn’t really understand that. I can see what this means in modeling within the atmosphere, but does this apply at the boundaries too?

      • Al again! Hello old friend. Please don’t be quite so totally silly when you are being arrogant.

        Of course the diffusivities are the same, as you say, but those are not the only phenomena active. We are talking about sources and sinks of constituents here, and fluid dynamics is not very informative here. How CO2 gets into and out of the atmosphere and what controls its concentration is very different from what controls the concentration of water.

        That water in the earth’s atmosphere is not well mixed, contrary to the longer-lived species, should be rather obvious to most people who actually live on this planet.

      • Hello Michael to you too. You tried to look “precise”, which turns to be silly. But I must agree that it is the bottom boundary condition for heat flux that may keep global imbalance (if it ever exists) somewhat longer than the turbulent mixing and transport would theoretically allow.

        Regarding fluid dynamics, it may be “poorly informative” here, but it is fully determining everything, which is very unfortunate no matter whether it cooperates with you or not. And both species get into and out of the atmosphere in the very same way — via the bottom boundary condition, the place which seems to be mostly neglected in mainstream climatology.

      • Impossible. Daily, weekly, and monthly swings in measurements are multiples of the range of such “baseline” hypothesized increases. Any process mix which can change concentrations on a short timescale can easily do so on a longer one, especially when the magnitude is a small fraction of the short swings. Dyson makes this point frequently, and is ignored.

  31. For example: should we not tax watering lawns, and require that swimming pools have H2O evaporative collectors for a start? and what about evaparative chillers on buildings. certainly these should be subject to a cap on new construction. this doesn’t even begin to address agricuture. surely all artifical irrigation should be capped and reduced 17% from 1990 levels by 2010.

  32. Craig Loehle

    Anyone who has children learns that “because I said so” only works for the very small child. After that, you must reason with them. If you try to tell them they can’t have more cake because they are going to die if they do, you become the butt of “stupid parent” jokes and eye rolling. And yet, the big cheeses of alarmism use exactly this language that you use with the 2 year old — “because I said so” and then wonder why they are not listened to. And blame it on oil companies.

    • I sincerely wish your kids try your tricks on you, to feel how that feels.

    • I think many of them are used to talking to students rather than closing on customer objections. Most everything I learned about how to treat people in graduate school I had to unlearn to be successful in convincing people outside of school.

      • Latimer Alder

        They have all spent far too long in academe to be released into the big wide world.

        Where ‘Listen to me, I’m an expert and you’re all too stupid to understand me’ usually gets what I understand is called a ‘Bronx Cheer’.

        The best example I saw was sometime earlier on this blog where some incredibly swept up and ever so self-important modeller or some other useless t****r wrote:

        ‘Nobody without a PhD in Radiative Physics is even capable of having an opinion about the quality of AGW theory’

        He has since disappeared back to well-earned obscurity, licking his wounds. Arrogant b*st**d.

        My man Joe Sixpack is itching to meet him down a dark alley and have a ‘converse a la Santer’ with him and all his little playmates.

  33. The post beginning this thread identified “Bert Bolin…Stephen Schneider… Jim Hansen…[and]…Al Gore in the US” as major players in the relationship between climate science and politics. I think you could safely add Gavin Smith and maybe Joe Romm for the influence of their respective blogs (and in Smith’s case, science) prior to climategate and the recent U.S. elections.

    I’m just curious how influential anyone thinks these individuals (Bolin and Schneider of course excepted) will be now, after those elections? Who will be the most influential scientists, politicians, journalists, bloggers in the near future? And what does that say for the future of climate science and its influence, if any, on policy?

    Have all the contempt you want for conservative voters and politicians. It is likely (excluding another sea change in political fortunes – which is always possible), that conservatives will be controlling the policy agenda, and purse strings, in the very near future.

    Scare mongering has failed, and the ability of the Romms, Gores and Hansens to influence policy is therefore probably dead. They can still preach to their choir, but as far as affecting policy, their time has come and gone.

    Other liberals who still care about influencing policy will have to speak to those with whom they disagree with respect, despite their differences. Dr. Curry has shown that ability already, and I would guess hers will be a voice that is listened to, even by politicians who disagree with her politically.

    Gavin Smith is the one I watch with interest. If I were a betting man (and I am), I would wager that over time there will be a shift in tone at Real Climate; even active, civil engagement with dissidents (ala the Curry/Smith exchanges on Collide-a-Scape). Smith may share all of the political leanings of Hansen, but he has been politically much more astute in what he has been willing to say, and more importantly willing not to say.

    Either way, it’s already a lot more fun watching the debate now that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Economic Suicide is no longer on the policy option table.

    • It’s Gavin Schmidt.

    • > If I were a betting man (and I am), I would wager that over time there will be a shift in tone at Real Climate; even active, civil engagement with dissidents (ala the Curry/Smith exchanges on Collide-a-Scape).


      PS: Glad to see you. We need reasonable conservatives around here.

    • GAryM,
      I would take the other side of that bet.
      Schmidt tacitly realized very briefly after climategate that there was a real problem in his community. He apparently rationalized that problem away a long time ago.
      I would be amazed to see RC become a real forum instead of an echo chamber and would gladly pay that bet. But I do not think I will lose.
      At the end of your post you assert that CAG economic suicide (great name, btw) is off the policy option table.
      I would bet on that one as well.
      Obama is committed to imposing rule by expanding the EPA power as much as Holdren (pal Ehrlich and Schneider) thinks it should go. And he has filled the EPA with extremists who will be chomping at the bit to carry out Tobis’ ide of zero CO2.
      This war has only just started.

      • Hunter,

        I think it is very possible that Obama could still get the camel’s nose in the tent in some form of very limited, conditional cap and trade bill before the next election. But I think the left’s opportunity for a zero carbon policy scheme, or confiscatory regulation of the entire energy sector has passed.

        While the EPA could do serious damage in two years, I think there are enough Democratic senators and congressmen who want to keep being senators and congressman, that we wouldn’t have to wait until the next election to overturn anything major the EPA might inflict on us.

        Absent a huge shift in political momentum, I think the greatest danger has passed. The war will indeed go on, but I think Copenhagen was CAGW’s Gettysburg. They threw everything they had at it, and came up short.

      • GaryM,
        “Gettysburg” is a great analogy for this.
        I hope you are correct on this.
        California is already paying for the folly of climate management laws. It will be interesting to see if the new (?) governor can re-invent himself on this issue.


      • One way or t’other, real-world economics will take care of it. As Stein’s Law says, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” California’s string is now very short.

      • Little Round Top ClimateGate.

  34. stevenmosher

    Oppenheimer raised one of the problems inherent in having any scientist ( or science journalist by extension Tobis) speak about policy or politics. The danger is the public will mistake expertise on climate for expertise on policy.
    Oppenheimer’s “cure” for this is to have scientists draw a clear line of demarcation between their science statements and their policy statements.
    Lets call that the “wearing of hats.”

    There is another danger inherent in the “wearing of hats.” That danger is the spokesperson for science gets sullied by some comprimising actions. A request here and there to delete mails. Some reluctance to share data.
    If that happens in the case of “joe blow” scientist, there is no collateral damage. But when “Icons” of the science, when spokespeople who have crossed the line of their expertise into policy, get caught out in the smallest of issues, the result is a shift in regimes. People react, illogically of course, by questioning the whole science. They also react illogically by DEFENDING the inconsequential slips as being ‘standard practice.”

    In marketing you learn very quickly that spokespeople are both a blessing and a potential curse. Ask Florida orange growers about Anita Bryant. Ask Hertz about OJ. If one used the precautionary principle one might conclude that the science is best protected by having scientists stay silent about policy. Or if one must have a scientist speak about policy, he best not be a working scientist. That’s just some practical advice. Back to Oppenheimer, he really never did give a good argument against remaining silent and sticking to the science.

    • It’s almost always in the individual scientist’s interest to stay silent, particularly if he or she wants to go on practicing science.

      The problem arises when nobody is acting effectively in the collective interest, and notably when politically salient scientific facts are actively obfuscated by stakeholders. At this point we need some trusted institution that stands up for the evidence. One would have hoped it would be the press, but the press has demonstrated that it does not have the capacity to do so effectively.

      So, now what?

      • I don’t agree with that Micheal. Scientists can and should speak. It really should be in their interest to speak provided they either limit their speech to what they truly understand or let it be known that they are advocating a political position.

        On an issue like climate disruption, communicating the uncertainty is what was lacking up to this point. Telling guys in Great Britain that they could forget about snow in a decade wasn’t a great PR move when they cold they are stuck with the last couple of years falls within the model uncertainty now. Kinda makes you guys look bad. If the current climate falls within the model projections, the possibility of the current climate should have been communicated better in the first place.

        Now there is a big discussion on the lack of a cooling/neutral climate trend that isn’t a trend because statistically not enough time has past to determine it is a trend. In three to four years there will be a trend. I don’t know the slope, but I will bet good money it will be significantly less that projected a decade ago. John Q. Public does not give a rat’s butt how well you talk projections, they want to see results matching your projections.

        Compromising estimated climate sensitivity to agree on a value 50% higher than the previous consensus because two scientists disagree might be part of the problem. It is supposed to be science, not a popularity contest.

        Saying a scientist screwed up the math, but still got the right answer doesn’t actually instill confidence in J. Q. Public either. I have never met anybody that hasn’t screwed up. I have also never seen so many educated people defend screw ups. There is no reason to throw them under the bus, but get real.

        To me that only thing climate scientists seem to have learned about politics is the art of double speak.

      • “The problem arises when nobody is acting effectively in the collective interest”

        The UN is (was?) your savior for the collective interest on communicating (Palin speak). Are you suggesting the UN IPCC is not an effective propaganda machine?

      • The IPCC is supposed to be a consensus process, not a polemical one. It has not failed as a propaganda machine because it isn’t supposed to be one.

        I don’t support efforts by IPCC to influence politics; that is not its job and any such efforts coming from IPCC are in my opinion highly ill-advised. It simply should lay out the available policies and their anticipated consequences.

        Still, the policy inaction option is now so obviously and extremely risky that it becomes difficult to summarize the evidence without saying “you know, advocating this amount of risk is just incredibly crazy.” So for those of you who suspect that you are dealing with a non-science and that the risk is imaginary, you will see IPCC as partisan even if it is behaving scrupulously according to its charter.

      • Tobis wrote: and hopefully will actually expand upon:
        1. “I don’t support efforts by IPCC to influence politics; that is not its job and any such efforts coming from IPCC are in my opinion highly ill-advised. It simply should lay out the available policies and their anticipated consequences.”
        My question- what are the consequences to the United States of not taking the actions you suggest? What would be the result if the actions you suggest are taken?
        2.”Still, the policy inaction option is now so obviously and extremely risky that it becomes difficult to summarize the evidence without saying “you know, advocating this amount of risk is just incredibly crazy.”
        My request- Again, please state what it is that is so extremely risky for the United States and provide information to show that these risks will be avoided by taking the actions you suggest.

      • Hmmm….

        The United States should cooperate with the larger powers in developing and enforcing a reasonably equitable binding protocol that reduces net global emissions dramatically by 2050, and to or below zero as soon thereafter as feasible. It should abide by the protocol strictly. I believe this very strongly.

        As to how to fulfill its obligations under such a protocol, I see a lot of flexibility. But here’s how I’d be inclined to handle it.

        I prefer the gradually increasing carbon tax, letting the market allocate resources as needed to replace the energy or enable conservation as needed. I believe the resulting stress will be much smaller than some others do, although the impact on those holding fossil fuel reserves will be substantial. If those interests had not behaved so irresponsibly in the past it might be possible to envision compensating them for their losses as part of the allocation of the carbon tax. But politically, a pure refund or a direct reduction of other tax rates is probably an easier sell.

        However, politics in the US has become so immature that the country is now grossly undertaxed and grossly militarily overextended. That’s a topic for some other venue but if I could actually convince people to be reasonable, the carbon tax would partly go into general revenue and partly into compensating those holding fossil fuel reserves on American soil. Good luck with that last one, though.

      • randomengineer

        However, politics in the US has become so immature that the country is now grossly undertaxed and grossly militarily overextended.

        The US military is the primary mechanism of western hegemony that allows any taxes to be collected at all. In the middle east, who’s buying all the oil? It’s not the US. It’s US allies and/or trading partners. The US is thrust into position of being world cop not because this is desired, but because it becomes politically necessary. Asset protection is a political reality of the world we live in. And historically this is true: in WWII the nazis went to Stalingrad in order to secure the oil fields; the Japanese attacked after oil embargos. WWII taught us that asset protection is in the best interest of everyone; it prevents world war.

        Trite statements such as yours are akin to the notion that generals are warmongering fools as portrayed by effete and ignorant hollywood writers when the reality is that the LAST people wanting a shooting war are the general staff (i.e. those who have actual experience living through a shooting war.)

      • I can support that statement based on personal experience.

      • Hear, hear! Every word.

      • Do you have any examples from anywhere on the planet where any available policy option has been implemented and the consequences have been; (1) those that were anticipated, (2) did not exhibit any un-anticipated consequences, (3) did not exhibit any adverse consequences, and (4) contributions in arresting the increase of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere.

        How would you grade the ethanol-for-transportation policy option against these? Oh, and BTW, has climate science and have climate scientists assumed responsibility for implementation of this policy option?


      • 1, 2 and 3 are very tall orders taken literally.

        On 4, I think there are lots of policies that mostly work, though. Light rail. Wind. Nuclear power. Telecommuting. Subsidies for insulation.

        Ethanol is admittedly not among them. I see no reason for “climate science” to “assume responsibility” for this boondoggle, as if it had a way of taking repsonsibility.

        Scientific communities are real communities, but they are not actually incorporated as institutions. (Maybe if it were different we would have responded to the calumnies against us more effectively.)

        It’s an important point, really. Nobody is orchestrating what climate scientists say, and there is no central authority with much power over what we do collectively. Each of is formally part of a specific research institution and that’s about all.

      • Your examples of (4) that might work (in certain) local situations that satisfy the 1,2 & 3 conditions is fairly well debunked in economic circles.

        If scientists want to be activists or politicians then they need to propose a workable solution. Workable in political, social and economic dimensions. Crying wolf louder is not a solution. It actually weakens the message. Protest and civil disobedience is not a long term solution.

      • Latimer Alder

        They want to have it both ways as usual.

        Being activists and politicians when it suits them, but retreating into ‘we’re just humble climatologists…nothing to do with us’ when the going gets a bit tough or the questions get more difficult than having a seance with Mother Gaia.

        But the public are noticing this and will no longer tolerate them playing their childish games at our expense.

      • Latimer Alder


        Can you come up with anywhere in the world where ‘investment’ in wind power hasn’t been an economic disaster at the user’s expense?

        Germany, Denmark, Spain are all examples where it has totally failed. UK is coming a good fourth so far.

        There were good reasons why windmills fell out of favour as soon as the steam engine became easily available. Those reasons haven’t changed, however much environmentalists might indulge their usual wishful thinking in believing differently.

      • Dan Hughes

        I don’t pretend to answer your question exactly, but perhaps you could critique the following six implementation or discussion of policy option examples (from anywhere on the planet) with regards to your four criteria, [going light on you point (2) given that “un-anticipated consequences” in this sophisticated and cynical age are difficult to achieve, everything has someone predicting all manner of consequences] and rank them on some sort of scale?

        a) http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/tbs/tp/climate/A1.htm

        b) http://www.ford.com/electric/focuselectric/2012/

        c) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Germany

        d) http://www.eternaleds.com/

        e) http://www.swenergy.org/publications/documents/UT_Energy_Efficiency_Strategy.pdf

        f) http://eneken.ieej.or.jp/en/jeb/1009.pdf

      • Michael Larkin

        Mr. Tobis,

        For a couple of decades the press have been practically ventriloquist dummies for AGW advocacy. What more could they have done?

        I agree we need some trusted body that stands up for the evidence. But that body couldn’t possibly contain AGW advocates, because their “evidence” is, and always has been, biased spin.

        Take your earlier mention of Russia and Pakistan. What makes you think they were linked to AGW? Does the mere fact that severe weather events happen now, as always, mean they must be caused by AGW? That’s a serious question, by the way.

        The reason for both these specific cases, it seems to be generally agreed, was a blocking high. Now then: how, precisely, do CO2 levels relate to blocking highs? A detailed description of the mechanism, provided by you or a suitable link would be helpful.

        To the wielder of a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And as I said earlier, we’re all suffering from disaster fatigue. Look: I’ll spell it out as clearly as I can: more of the same alarmism will be completely counterproductive. Even some of the AGWers are realising this.

      • It’s almost always in the individual scientist’s interest to stay silent, particularly if he or she wants to go on practicing science.
        more importantly if they want to INSURE that there personal views and personal failings do not become fodder for the noise machine, it’s in their interest to keep the science hat firmly in place.

        “The problem arises when nobody is acting effectively in the collective interest, and notably when politically salient scientific facts are actively obfuscated by stakeholders. At this point we need some trusted institution that stands up for the evidence. ”

        1. presupposes there is a collective interest.
        2. You cannot prevent the misrepresentation of facts without violence.

        But yes, a trusted institution would help. You do not build trust through exclusionary tactics. You do not build trust by calling motives into question ( on either side). you do not build trust by having closed processes. I agree with Hulme. Scrap the IPCC.

        “One would have hoped it would be the press, but the press has demonstrated that it does not have the capacity to do so effectively.”

        Huh? are you deluded? one of the most stupid errors was believing that the press could serve that purpose. There are people you need to convince. They don’t trust the press to begin with, and your thought was that the press could do the job. Does anyone even analyze the problem before they throw out their old tired solutions?

      • randomengineer

        There are people you need to convince. They don’t trust the press to begin with, and your thought was that the press could do the job.

        I posted a poll link upthread showing why this is true.

        Does anyone even analyze the problem before they throw out their old tired solutions?

        No. Think Dr Evil in the first Austin Powers film after finding out that all his evil plans have already taken place: “oh well, we’ll just do what we always do then.”

  35. Dr Curry,

    In the Reaclimate post, there are some claims about the Harvard press conference that are interesting. Kevin Trenberth says:

    I was not an IPCC spokesperson and I was not advertised as such. Landsea claimed otherwise

    In reality, Chris Landsea never claimed Trenberth was an ‘IPCC spokesperson’. Landsea was more precise and accurate with his language – he pointed out that Trenberth was introduced and advertised as ‘IPCC lead author’:

    …he [Trenberth] was introduced in the press conference as an IPCC lead author; I was told that that the media was exaggerating or misrepresenting his words, even though the audio from the press conference and interview tells a different story (available on the web directly);

    (from Chris Landsea’s resignation letter, 2005)

    Landsea’s report is clearly borne out by the verbatim transcript of the Harvard Medical School Center for Health and Global Environment press conference.

    At the beginning of the conference:

    Our fourth and final speaker today will be Kevin Trenberth, who is head of the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. He’s also convening lead author of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC report.

    Later on, when introducing Trenberth:

    Moderator: That was the opening statement of Matthias Webber, senior vice president and chief property underwriter of the U.S. Direct Americas division of Swiss Re. Our fourth and final speaker today before the Q&A period is Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Mr. Trenberth also is a convening lead author of the 2007 Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change report.

    Kevin Trenberth, introducing himself:

    It’s still morning here, but good day to everyone. This is Kevin Trenberth from NCAR, the National Center for Atmospheric Research. I might add also that I was a lead author on the 2001 IPCC report for Working Group One, which deals with the science of climate change, and in fact I was involved in developing some of the information that is in that report dealing with hurricanes.

    In the post, Trenberth further says:

    Landsea did not notify IPCC once, let alone repeatedly

    Landsea exchanged several emails with RK Pachauri and Susan Solomon about the Harvard press conference. He did contact the IPCC over the matter. These are available publicly.

    The issue Landsea raised was not that of lead authors speaking ‘for the IPCC’ and such, and his concerns ought not be falsely represented in such literal and narrow fashion.

    The issue was that of lead authors of the IPCC making pronouncements taking no care to differentiate or clarify in what role they appeared, and that prejudiced statements about connections between hurricane activity and global warming ought not to have been issued by authors in charge of an upcoming purported impartial assessment. Trenberth has only refused to confront these crucial questions.

  36. If it was proven that global warmng causes jet stream blocking then you can say that the Russian drought and Pakistan flood were caused by global warming. As there is no such evidence or even any such theory then it is pure disinformation to suggest so. Tobis spreads this disinformation above, just as Trenberth does at every opportunity. Yet surely they cannot be unaware of the real cause of these weather events (we’d hope). In the light of this willingness to just make things up, even contrary to NOAA’s official position, just how can we trust these people to be truthful on anything? They don’t even understand yet that this rank dishonesty is what makes people skeptical in the first place – and in ever increasing numbers.

    And if someones asks what else could it be? Well it could be related to the solar minimum as several scientists have already suggested or it could be just plain weather, just like the unusually cold Winter in the North or the floods in Australia. It’s been crystal clear for some time that the attribution of weather events to climate change is wrong when skeptics do it but quite acceptable when climate scientists do it. The hypocrisy is apalling! Clearly the rump of climate scintists who remain silent in the face of such oft-repeated disinformation are tacitly guilty and therefore just as unreliable – en masse. Skeptics will change our opinion on the veracity of the rump of the climate community when they begin challenging some of the utter nonsense that gets said in their name, just as Landsea did, instead of keeping their heads down. What price scientific integrity?

  37. randomengineer


    We ran out of room upthread. If you’ll indulge me.

    I have my doubts about deep sequestration but I am all for it if it can be made to work. I think the olivine sequestration route also shows promise. I’m all for nukes. I’m all for algae. Anything that doesn’t increase the net carbon in circulation is fine.

    Really, whatever. Just not this.

    Since Dr Jim Hansen has said he too supports nukes, what you’re saying is more useful and powerful than you realize.

    Energy = wealth. What the skeptics are fighting is the notion that we need to turn out the lights (decrease energy and lose wealth.) And here you are, saying that you will support nukes. Skeptics will support nukes. As will Heartland. In fact it looks to me as if this is common. We all agree that western society needs energy.

    An idea:

    Why can’t we all agree — “believer” and skeptic alike — to get behind a movement to support — nay, endorse — nay, ADVOCATE the use of nuclear energy as *the* agreed upon staring point? If you via RC is advocating this as is Dr Curry as is Watts and so on, the politicians will see that despite differences those of us concerned with the conjoined issues of climate and energy are, on this subject, UNITED.

    We “believers” will reduce CO2. Skeptics won’t care; the lights stay on. Everyone wins.

    I’m no more expert on policy/politics than you are (probably less) but surely if the administration is being nudged in this direction by ALL interested parties, perhaps this is the way to gain the needed traction? A united front is worth a great deal more than squabbling factions.

    A starting point is a starting point.

    And as you say, what we’re doing now ain’t working. Why not pick a start point that all can work with? Hearts and minds are not won with yelling and talking past each other. Together though we can petition the administration and make the message heard.

    A starting point is a starting point.

    • Having a guest post at RC doesn’t mean I represent RC or have much influence over them. RC represents climate science and shouldn’t be expected to favor one policy over another.

      To a lesser extent so do I. My role has been trying to figure out why the communication links have failed. Now I am gearing up to try my hand at contributing to communicating to the general public. As such, my objective is to get beyond “CO2 is a problem” and on to “CO2 needs to go to zero”, along with some basic understanding of why.

      I will support ANY policy that does this. This doesn’t mean I’m hanging up my mission to be a nuclear advocate just now. I might be won over to doing that, but I am not in a great position to help right now nor would such a move help me.

      A lot of climate scientists are adamantly pro-nuclear. Barry Brook in Australia has been outspoken about it.

      • Michael,
        Until you examine if what you want is even based on
        1- solving a problem that exists in reality and
        2- if what you propose is even remotely possible
        then you are really wasting your time.
        From everything I have seen from studying this for many years, starting out as a believer in what you believe, I conclude that you are simply participating in promoting one of the most pernicious social manias in history.
        As such, all I can wish for you is to either realize your error or fail utterly.
        the chance of taking human CO2 contribution to zero is zero, unless you want humanity to go extinct.
        Do you?

      • randomengineer


        Dr Curry’s petri dish is intended to see if there are ways we can all work together. Forget momentarily whether or not he’s right or wrong. Keep your eye on the ball. What way can YOU win that allows him to win as well?

        Promoting jobs and energy, it won’t matter if Dr Tobis is right or wrong. If he’s right we win. If he’s wrong we win. Putting up new tech nuclear plants is a win for everyone.

      • > Putting up new tech nuclear plants is a win for everyone.

        So the waste and proliferation problems have been solved? Do tell.

      • Yes in 3rd and 4th generation or thorium nuclear plants. They would be smart to field on many levels, economic and environmental

      • How? Explain.

      • By standardizing a modern safe design and significantly reducing the unnecessary bureaucratic administrative delays, the cost of building these facilities would be dramatically reduced. Designing and building a large number of these facilities (in the US) would further reduce the cost and employ significant numbers of people. Employment would similar to those currently employed by the defense industry, but with the additional benefit of having something beneficial to society when the plants were done (vs. a weapon system that doesn’t benefit society….only protects) . There would be a continuing economic benefit of stopping the outflow of US capital purchasing petroleum. There is also the environmental benefit of non CO2 generation of electricity.

      • And the waste? Who gets to enjoy having it dumped on them?

      • An in whose backyard question.

        I’m concerned about the reasonable length of time a society can maintain its centralized nuclear waste dump, so I’m opposed to dumping it in one place (supposedly the best place.)

        Instead I would prefer a plan where the people who want to use electricity generated by nukes have to maintain the waste in their backyards as it might motivate them to take extra good care of it for a very long time. Sign up for one; sign up for the other.

      • I like your solution, JCH.

        I wonder how many ardent nuke supporters would readily accept a long-term storage facility in their basements…

      • I think they’re probably glowing in the dark at just the thought of it.

      • there are actually methods to recylce and re-use around 95% of all nuclear waste. The uk has such a plant at sellafield (thorpe i believe) which does just that.

        The waste is refined, re-used and the remainer (the sub 5%) has a significantly reduced half life.

        Nuclear has come along leaps and bounds mate.

      • Dr. Deech, Breeder reactors.

      • Your are allowing your ignorance to dissuade you from reaching a potential consensus solution. Here is a link about thorium reactors as an example. They would provide clean, safe energy and are much more practical than alternatives I am aware of being proposed. Btw—I have zero to do with promoting this technology or the industry in general. I am suggesting it from an engineering and economic perspective.

        You do not seem to like to actually discuss practical policy solutions but seem to like to be dramatic and then run away when it is pointed out where you are wrong on issues.


      • randomengineer

        Your ideology and/or need for update is showing. Search for J Bowers on one of the recent threads. He recommended a book to me. It’s from the UK. You can read it online. You can get a good start there (nuclear chapter) and then follow the references.

        Then there’s this thing called google. Have fun, and remember it ain’t my job to do your homework.

      • ….well perhaps not everyone…..

      • RE,
        I think Tobis and his like have no interest in anything other than what he has said he wants.
        Tobis is a self-described fanatic regarding CO2. He has convinced himself that the seriousness of his opinion about CO2 means there are no norms of behavior to constrain his efforts to impose his will.
        How do you reason with that?
        I collect wild snakes in the field as a hobby. When I hear a rattling sound coming from a snake, I take it seriously and plan accordingly so I can avoid getting hit. Tobis and his pal at Tom Yulsman are rattling quite loudly.

      • randomengineer

        Hey, thanks for the time.

        Three parting thoughts for you.

        1. We in the public have been communicated at, relentlessly, for many years, and this has not been successful (I ungraciously mentioned this upthread.) There’s no reason to think “more of the same” will be magically different.

        2. The unemployment rate is 9.4% with no end in sight. Not only does energy mean wealth, it also means jobs. Even lifetime burger flippers get this much. Communicate that which is positive. Flies/honey/vinegar.

        3. Actions speak loudly.

      • Michael,

        The more I read of your contributions to this thread in particular, the more I am reminded of the Greg Craven thread. Here was a person so sure of the global disasters ahead if we do nothing that it made him almost sick (some would delete ‘almost’). You seem similarly sure, but cooler.

        There have been something like 30,000 posts since Judith started this website, and I have read nearly all of them. I have learned a lot from them, too. But it is hard to read such a lot of material without forming the view that in many parts of the AGW story, not only is the science not ‘settled’ (a position that might if it existed allow confidence if not certainty), but the very data on which we all have to rely are rubbery almost beyond belief.

        Let me reiterate my agnostic position, which has hardly shifted since I started reading seriously about this issue four years ago. I think that the AGW story is plausible. It may be right. But we are nowhere close to being so sure that it is the whole story that moving out of carbon NOW or VERY SOON (‘as fast as possible’ can’t mean waiting for a hundred years) can be communicated to the whole world as the only way forward. In the meantime we need to find out what causes the natural variability in the way weather and climate shift so that in time we might be able to distinguish the AGW signal from all the noise.

        It puzzles me that you don’t see any of this. You, and others, seem to pass lightly and quickly over what others see as a bog of uncertainty. As other posters here have asked you. How can it be? Why don’t you see uncertainty and doubt and dodgy data and assumptions squared, when others do?

        I am sure that these are difficult questions, and they’re personal. I would not expect an immediate answer. But I think that what I have asked is at the heart of the puzzlement that has run through this thread. And you say that you want to communicate! Won’t you first have to ask yourself what you do think is the case, and why you think so, and how you deal with uncertainty?

      • Michael Larkin

        M tobis said:

        “Now I am gearing up to try my hand at contributing to communicating to the general public. As such, my objective is to get beyond “CO2 is a problem” and on to “CO2 needs to go to zero”, along with some basic understanding of why.

        “I will support ANY policy that does this.”

        Why would CO2 need to go to zero if it weren’t a problem? Do you seriously believe that you can somehow say the one without implying the other?

        Your message of “why” couldn’t help but allude to there being a problem, and as years have been spent getting the “problem” message across, the legacy of that is going to be around for at least a couple of generations.

        This is why I can’t take what you say seriously. There’s a lack of even basic logic to it. RandomEngineer gave you a better idea, namely establishing a consensus on the development of nuclear energy production.

        Mind you, no way would that reduce anthropogenic CO2 to zero. That’s not a conceivable option. And as someone else said, like as not, environmentalists would sabotage the nuke solution.

        I think you may well be boxed in. You cannot possibly get what you want. You have nowhere new to go and have shot your bolt. Anthing you might do is more likely to make things worse than better.

      • “Mind you, no way would that reduce anthropogenic CO2 to zero. That’s not a conceivable option. ”

        It’s necessary. It’s not even all that hard to conceive, really. Technologically it is quite feasible.

        “I think you may well be boxed in. You cannot possibly get what you want.”

        It’s a matter of need, not want. But in the short run you may well be correct. In the long run, nature gets her turn at bat. The trouble is “we told you so” is not an adequate outcome.

      • Again you state you unsupported opinion vs science.

      • “Technologically it is quite feasible.” Maybe but certainly it is not economic with today’s technology. Where is the we should get off carbon “as quickly as is economically feasible” caveat?

        Our difference of opinion is whether your cure to reduce emissions has worse impacts to society than the incremental effects of global warming. I say yes and you say no.

      • Michael- I have no doubt that you believe in your position very strongly, but your belief does not make it factually correct any more than one’s belief in the tooth fairy means it actually exists. (Although I am not claiming the tooth fairy does not or never has existed).

        The tax system you propose is inherently an inefficient means economically and practically unenforceable in a world governed by a multitude of nation states with conflicting national goals.
        1. Economically, a carbon tax would also require a large number of non value added government bureaucrats to “monitor” carbon emissions.
        2. There is no means to ensure world wide adoption of such a proposal and economically there would be every reason for nations to not participate (or cheat) and thereby gain an economic advantage,

        Environmentally, the recommendation you are making can not be show to have any positive benefit. Can you provide information that you believe accurately demonstrates what the climate will be like in the United States at various different CO2 levels? I do not believe you can do this, and do not believe your case can sensibly be made without such data.

      • The quota + emission trading system in use in EU and on national level in other countries that have ratified the binding Kyoto annex is complicated and requires a lot of administration, but a carbon tax for fossil fuels would be very easy to implement. Various fuel taxes have been in use in most countries for a long time without need for complicated administration.

        Carbon tax could also be fiscally neutral in the sense that other taxes could be lowered by the amount carbon taxes bring to the government.

        Any heavy tax causes some extra cost at least on short term as it leads to the use of more costly technologies. In longer term the economics may be more favorable, if the tax accelerates technological change and transitions that are necessary anyway, e.g. based on growing difficulties of producing oil at earlier costs. Such positive consequences are, however, not guaranteed, but require wise decisions concerning timing and level taxation.

    • True believing, fire breathing liberals will not actively work for nuclear power unless and until conservatives gain sufficient power to restart its development without them. Think welfare reform. Congressional liberals, despite seeing the train wreck they had created for poor inner city families, fought welfare reform of any kind until Republicans had accumulated a veto proof majority. Whereupon Bill Clinton (a political genius), pivoted 180 degrees, insisted on a few minor changes to the Republican bill, and took credit for the whole thing.

      Hard core liberals have invested too much in the political struggle to strangle nuclear power to give up now. (They even had an Al Gorish Hollywood assist in the movie The China Syndrome. Remember Jack Lemmon lying face up on the floor, shot because of evil nuclear power developers, trembling, eyes wide… “I can feel it!!!”) But don’t worry, if conservatives gain the presidency and a majority in both houses of congress in the next election, there will be untold numbers of liberal activists suddenly clamoring for building nuclear power plants in lieu of further oil and coal extraction.

    • RE you have just enunciated the very first point upon which I could see myself agreeing with a Believer. But I think the answer to “why we can’t all agree…” is that most of your fellow believers don’t want a win-win solution. They will oppose any action which doesn’t administer some measure of punishment to mankind.

      • randomengineer

        They will oppose any action which doesn’t administer some measure of punishment to mankind.

        Ahhh, but those are the sheep, not the leaders. As far as I can determine the underlying problem with climate scientists and nuclear energy is fear of career problems coming from academia (the hand that feeds.) This could be why so many seem to be fixated on communication: this is a low risk strategy that requires no actual guts and yet they can later thump their own chests plaintively about being wronged.

        Note that nuclear advocacy that you know of in climate science tends to come from the bracket that’s nearing retirement or are otherwise in comfortable (secure) positions. Surely this isn’t coincidence. You may not like Dr Jim Hansen but at least give the man props for having the fortitude to risk going to jail for what he thinks is right.

        All it takes to get the ball rolling is a small cohort of say 20 scientists who are courageous enough to stake what appears to be an academically unpopular position. We who aren’t in academia don’t have this problem of course. It takes no courage on my part to advocate nuclear energy; there’s no professional repurcussions at all. In academia, though, there might be.

  38. Here’s a challenge for climate activist scientists and activists:

    Please predict the exact extreme climate events that are to happen in 2011, now. If you cannot, or do not want to do that today, then do not attempt to claim credit for any such event when it happens.

    If climate activists can come up with complex climate explanations attributing extreme events to global warming within three days of any extreme event actually happening, they can sure as heck be able to come up with the explanations months in advance.

    • And “locked down”; no revisions allowed till same time next year!


    • I can confidently predict it will rain heavily in the UK. :)

      • This is actually pretty serious. Consider this in the light of Tobis’ declaration of total CO2 control and Bart Verheggen’s reasoning (found a few posts below):

        1) We can be absolutely sure that there will be one, a few, or many drought/flood/heatwave/heavy rains/heavy snow/mild colds, in the coming year
        2) We can also be absolutely sure that someone will ‘attribute’ these to global warming
        3) We know that climate science has increased its ability to diagnose climatic changes precisely by the process of elimination, advanced computer modeling and increasing data measurements.
        4) We can also be sure that the scientists or organizations that make the ‘attribution’ will be able to pick out existing papers or ongoing studies to bolster their attribution, within a short period of such climatic disturbances occurring, say like three to five days. They will be able to clearly illustrate to us, how global warming caused this or that large-scale weather perturbation.

        (1)-(4) taken together means, climate scientists, especially of the activist variety, should be able to predict what ‘extreme weather events’ will occur this year, in advance.

        All the necessary ingredients required to make such predictions are present.

        We know global warming is taking place, we know it causes extreme weather events, we are able to know that global warming caused specific extreme events after they happen, and our climate models have only gotten better because, although they have to deal with many climatic variables, the basic and dominant underlying physics is now understood very well and extremely straightforward – increasing CO2 causes global warming.

        They should be able to make the predictions now.

      • Is this going to be like Hansen’s predictions about how Manhattan would be today?

      • It’s not “total CO2 control”.

        It could be total FOSSIL CO2 control, or it could be balancing fossil CO2 with one or several means of sequestration. But you guys have to make it look so much bigger and nastier of an objective than it is, so you can spin your peculiar tales about motivation and conspiracy, and direct your anger hostility and suspicion at a small and bookish group of people with no selfish ambitions more sinister than getting a publication in JGR-Atmospheres before the next fellow.

        It’s pretty simple though. The amount of carbon in the air needs to stop increasing. The sooner, the smaller the risks, but we are already past the point where the risks are comfortably small.

      • MT,
        “But you guys have to make it look so much bigger and nastier of an objective than it is, …”

        Thanks for trying to lose my point.

        Regardless of how nasty the objective is, it is a tall order to ask for “total control”.

        The impulse shocks provided to the policy community are attribution of weather events to ‘global warming’ in order to make them take the threats seriously, as the objective is a big ask. There is nothing conspiratorial about this, it is but a natural outcome of the present invisibility of purported climate threats. If skeptics and ‘warmists’ were exchanged roles, the skeptics would probably do the same thing – try to scare the policy makers with ‘extreme weather events’ into creating policy for long term CO2 control for future benefits.

        All elements required to attribute extreme weather events to global warming are already in place. You have done this yourself. In this thread, you are still continuing to attribute ‘Moscow’ and ‘Pakistan’ to global warming.

        To repeat, all elements required to attribute ‘extreme weather events’ to global warming are already in place. What is missing are the events themselves.

        I predict with 100% confidence that weather events in the coming year will be attributed to global warming. You predict with 100% confidence that global warming caused ‘Moscow’, a week after ‘Moscow’. Surely, the science and the research required to do the attribution did not all fall into place or get carried out, in that one week.

        Rahmstorf attributed the cold winter to global warming, after the winter turned out to be severely cold, but using a paper published 6 months ago.

        If you want to convey that climate scientists believe short-term predictions are a tricky game, why doesn’t it provide them with the humility and reservedness required to not jump and claim credit for ‘global warming’, unabashedly, after such events take place?

      • This is actually a good question. It’s already in my mental queue for a serious blog piece, but it will take some time to do it justice.

      • I think it is a good question, although I am not sure I am able to clearly ask the question.

        Let us look at this present window of time. The Met Office fails dramatically in its seasonal forecasts. Rahmstorf attributes cold winters to global warming and yet in his latest post, he seems to backpedal. You identified ‘Moscow and Pakistan’ as potentially caused by global warming, but Anthony Watts points out that NOAA does not agree. Joe Romm channels Kevin Trenberth that increased precipitation and flooding is due to global warming, politicians claim that Australian flooding is due to global warming, even as the droughts of yesteryears were also caused by global warming. I read recently a claim that increased high-altitude precipitation in the Himalayas is causing glacier melt as the heat released during condensation was melting the ice, and also that reduced snowfall due to global warming was causing glacier recession.

        No wonder Steve Goddard has a field day, everyday.
        There has to be some quality control of preferred hypotheses and attribution; climate science is taking unnecessary hits on this account, no question about that.

      • Hardly “unnecessary”. More like “inevitable”. Dubious and uncertain input, dubious and uncertain output. It’s inherent.

      • Simple solutions, like final solutions, are seldom simple, final or good.
        You are only making faith based statements and veneering them with science that you do not examine, or accept critiques of.

      • hunter

        You’re wielding a blade that cuts both ways, and is surely more accurate when applied to the arguments of those True Believers in continuing to do whatever they please whose final simple solution is laissez-faire.

        I look for people accepting critiques and examining science, I have to count among them for example Dr. Curry, and I see she continues to not just seek and participate in discussions of exactly the type of solution you paint so bleakly, but to initiate them and seek from all parties more critique and examination without reference to faith whatsoever.

        So, have to conclude your point vainly contradicts evidence from the very page it is posted to, and is largely false, however good a reminder to all participants of what pitfalls ought be avoided.

  39. Dr. Curry, it is always an informative pleasure to read your posts, their references and the commentary that follows. The Von Storch item is significant because it identifies the involvement of Post-Normal Science as a driver of inherent uncertainty. In my view, uncertainty is also driven by its tenets of “democracy” (= political), consensus, and for CAGW, its lack of falsifiability

    Storch, Hans Von. 2011. Interviews with and analysis of climate scientists’ attitudes. Die Klimazwiebel. January 8. http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com/2011/01/interviews-with-and-analysis-of-climate.html

    Point 7:: “the usage of climate science as a political support for a certain policy (e.g., Climate Change”), causes the whole field to be become “postnormal” (i.e., associated with large inherent uncertainty, with high stakes of various actors, and with different cultural values intertwined – according to Silvio Funtovicz’ and Jerome Ravetz’ concept.)”

    So, political policy an ingrained part of the IPCC process? (Note that the first criterion assumes warming.)

    Carter, T.R. 2006. General Guidelines On The Use Of Scenario Data For Climate Impact And Adaptation Assessment. IPCC, June. http://www.ipcc-data.org/guidelines/TGICA_guidance_sdciaa_v2_final.pdf
    See: 3.2.1. Criteria for selecting climate scenarios (Page 36). Detail of Criteria:

    Four criteria that should be met by climate scenarios if they are to be useful for impact researchers and policy makers are suggested in Smith and Hulme (1998), pages 26 – 27:

    * Criterion 1: Consistency with global projections. They should be consistent with a broad range of global warming projections based on increased concentrations of greenhouse gases. This range is variously cited as 1.4°C to 5.8°C by 2100 (IPCC, 2001a), or 1.5°C to 4.5°C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration (IPCC, 1990; 1996 – otherwise known as the “equilibrium climate sensitivity” – IPCC, 2001a).
    * Criterion 2: Physical plausibility. They should be physically plausible; that is, they should not violate the basic laws of physics. Hence, changes in one region should be physically consistent with those in another region and globally. In addition, the combination of changes in different variables (which are often correlated with each other) should be physically consistent.
    * Criterion 3: Applicability in impact assessments. They should describe changes in a sufficient number of variables on a spatial and temporal scale that allows for impact assessment. For example, impact models may require input data on variables such as precipitation, solar radiation, temperature, humidity and windspeed at spatial scales ranging from global to site and at temporal scales ranging from annual means to daily or hourly values.
    * Criterion 4: Representative. They should be representative of the potential range of future regional climate change. Only in this way can a realistic range of possible impacts be estimated.

    An additional criterion can be added to this list:

    * Criterion 5: Accessibility. They should be straightforward to obtain, interpret and apply for impact assessment. Many impact assessment projects include a separate scenario development component which specifically aims to address this last point. The DDC and this guidance document are also designed to help meet this need.

  40. “The criticism many have made of the general press is primarily the underemphasis of the whole climate/sustainability story and secondarily the tendency to false balance, wherein fringe scientists are used to provide counterbalance to the mainstream. ”

    Disingenuous? Or delusional?

    “Now I am gearing up to try my hand at contributing to communicating to the general public. As such, my objective is to get beyond “CO2 is a problem” and on to “CO2 needs to go to zero”, along with some basic understanding of why.”

    Now, that’s delusional. We have failed miserably at convincing the unwashed masses that “CO2 is a problem”, so let’s forget about that and move on to “CO2 needs to go to zero”. We couldn’t ram the horse down their throats, so let’s try the cart.

    • It’s the Even Bigger Lie strategy.

      • Yes, it’s from “The Joe Goebbels’ Book of Marketing and Mayhem” . It’s actually based on the principle espoused by A. Lincoln. “You can fool some of the people, all of the time.”

        Don’t forget that many still believe the ‘settled science’ that was discredited hundreds of years ago: pancake earth. It might still have been settled science today, if there had been billions of dollars in grant money to keep the dogmatic flat earth confirmation bias research rolling. And I also think the firewood industry had something to do with influencing the media of the day in unfairly promoting the flat earth deniers.

  41. Judith,

    Climate science can only use the ignorance card so far before people will understand that it is a chosen ignorance and not a honest one.
    Ignorance will only go so far before incompetance is shown as the cause.

  42. The reason climate scientists want to get ‘the message’ across is to increase scientific literacy and counter the scientific disinformation that’s out there.

    People don’t like it when their field of expertise is muddied; scientists are no different.

    • is to increase scientific literacy and counter the scientific disinformation

      That’s a bold claim. My interpretation is somewhat different: they don’t want to lose control of the narrative. Regardless of whether or not it’s disinformation, or true information, or some grey area inbetween, the important thing is that it’s their information to disseminate.

    • Bart,
      You do not get it.
      You have communicated effectively. That is why fewer and fewer people believe you.

      • > That is why fewer and fewer people believe you.

        Join the bandwagon!

      • Do you have a way to summarize your position in a few paragraphs? Your blog site seems all over the place.

      • Keep reading.

      • OK. Read more.
        You are unclear, but you use a lot words to be so unclear.
        Dodging climategate by referring people to Science of doom is a novel apologia of AGW.
        Why in the world would you rely on SoD as a crucible of paradigm busting?
        And your defense of Chris Colose’s implosion is not novel, but is clever.

      • Don’t encourage people like willard to look squarely at the problem of climategate. He actually might.

    • Michael Larkin

      “The reason climate scientists want to get ‘the message’ across is to increase scientific literacy and counter the scientific disinformation that’s out there.”

      And yet, what sometimes seems to come across, judging by the reactions of many commenters on various blogs is:

      The reason climate scientists want to get ‘the message’ across is to counter scientific literacy and increase the scientific disinformation that’s out there.

      • Tobis and you seem to make the same type of logic errors on the subject of climate change (imo). You look at the science as you understand it (so far so good) and then you extrapolate out to what, IN YOUR OPINION are the right course of actions for the various nation states of the world. You then seem to get frustrated when others looking at the science do not reach the same conclusions on policy actions for individual countries.

        In the United States, the EPA; due to political considerations and not science; has moved to try to regulate CO2. This is bad policy based upon politics and not science or economics. It will potentially lead to lost elections for those who pushed the policies.

        The science is certainly not definitive regarding the rate of potential change due to human released CO2, nor is it settled regarding what will happen to specific regions if/when the climate does change.

        It is strange (to me at least) that it has been difficult to get those who support the idea that higher CO2 is a potential disaster for humanity, to actually discuss the rationale for their opinion and the cost benefit analysis for their proposed policy solutions.

      • Many volumes have been written about the risks.

        I do not think we have a good economic theory for how to measure the risks and benefits of various policies, but even there, you cannot say there aren’t many books and treatises.

        IPCC WG III would be a good place to start.

      • Michael– you are correct that many volumes have been written about the perceived risks, but none of these volumes had verifiable climate forecasts accompanying them that would lead a United States taxpayer to wish to incur higher taxes.
        Again, the volumes you write about are little more than the opinions of the writers when you are discussing the impact to the US taxpayer. In order gain support for the implementation of these opinions, a better case needs to be presented that would show what the cost to the US taxpayer would be for the proposed taxes and what the condition will be as a result of the tax being implemented.
        As you have noted, CO2 may take a long time to get out of the atmosphere, so you are trying to convince people to pay now for some unknown potential benefit that may occur at some point after their lifetime. There simply is not enough evidence to show that the proposals you suggest will yield the solution you seek, or even that they will yield a “positive result”.

      • randomengineer

        Not only that, most of the “many volumes” comes across as partisan flavoured astrological prognostication. It’s interesting how bureaucrats seem to always seem to be able to find solutions requiring bureaucrats and none in which free markets are utilised. Rich M in the libertian thread references Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy. People may not know this law by name but most seem to grasp the truth of it.

      • Just in case the title doesn’t convey it, it amounts to saying the paper-pushers and regulation-writers take over the shop in due course, excluding those who give a damn about, and know how to achieve an organization’s goals, out of the loop.

  43. Something Tobis and others are not discussing here is the ill-advised practice of a scientist jumping instantly from identification of a problem to prescription. For example: “oh no! climate change is going to imperil species! We must not build any more power plants!” (no pause for thinking between those 2 sentences…) But perhaps an equally big (or bigger) threat to biodiversity is human activity. Let us postulate that having electricity and better living conditions is the most rapid way to slow population growth, and that better farming will reduce pressure on wild lands and reduce subsistence hunting (of e.g. gorillas for bush meat) and that people with more wealth like to preserve some wild lands. Just a postulate. In this imaginary world, the best thing you could do for biodiversity would be to help the poor regions of the world move up to more prosperous conditions. The benefit to biodiversity from these actions is nearly a free good, since it is a side-effect of development and not wealth taken away from development. As another example, we might consider that it could cost $X to relocate people whose land went under water (a number I consider unlikely to be large at current rates of sea level rise) vs $1000X to prevent sea level rise.
    The failure to even consider alternate options reveals to many outsiders that AGW activists have a pre-set agenda and are not really interested in the big picture, but only in punishing the developed world.

    • Your analysis is correct but the subconscious narrative here is itself a political ideology. From Lorenz onwards, the Green movement is anti-technocracy and anti-modernity (read “The Waning of Humaneness”, for example). That is why the proposed solution, “remove power station” is considered morally good in and of itself, regardless of whether power stations tangentially serve to increase or decrease the population.

      • Exactly. And why the “solution” seems so obvious as to not even be examined.

      • You guys are pretty angry at the straw men you have set up. I can hardly blame you, except for the fact that the people you are so angry at do not exist in any significant way.

      • Michael,
        As an observer of and former member of the green movement, I do not think it is we who are talking about this making a strawman.
        I would say the real strawman is the that of the reasonable environmentalist.
        All of the major green NGO’s make a huge living off of climate and enviro catastrophism.
        You yourself seem to state clearly we are facing a global climate crisis.
        Hansen’s latest book ‘Storms of my grandchildren’ is specificazlly about enviro catastrophism.
        Gore’s movie was filled with (inaccurate) catastrophic claims.
        Andy Revkin rehashes Ehrlich’s laughably wrong version of Malthus regularly.
        How are we the ones making strawmen?

      • I don’t think it is a strawman at all. All of the enviro press releases and news stories lambast our fossil fuel energy use, and any hint at discussing adaptation makes you evil. Where has any environmental group talked about the ecological benefits of modernization of the 3rd world? Show me one. In fact, they are busy trying to prevent South Africa and Pakistan from building power plants, to cite 2 recent news stories.

      • How is it a straw-man? Is it necessary to point out that James Hansen, for example, is an activist. Or that the RC web domain is funded by Fenton Communications?

        When you consider that people like David Shearman, a professor of environmental sciences, is capable of writing and publishing a book on the suspension of democracy (see my reference above to Plato’s “disinterested philosopher Kings”) in order to implement political fixes for environmental issues, you would be wise to reconsider your opinion.

        To me the fact that certain groups of Activist Scientists have democratically elected politicians in their sphere of influence is truly frightening.

    • In fact one of the great tells that an issue is over hyped is that the soef-declared discoverer of the problem also just happens to have invented the cure.
      Think of ‘The Music Man’ as an entertaining example of this:

      But of course in real life things don’t work out well when a con-artist hits town.

      • hunter

        A fair tell, but not especially useful given two confunding phenomena:

        1) You’d have to reject as discoverers of many problems those who do not understand or define the problem well enough to identify the cure or at least the control; Banting and Best didn’t discover diabetes, but until they applied their understanding and demonstrated it with insulin therapy, countless wags believed they ‘understood’ the disease and were simply wrong. In this case, your tell would have disastrously wrong outcomes.

        2) The tell has an inherent bias to reject valid cures; perhaps you’re thinking of the more famous tell, “the discoverer of the never-before heard-of problem has the only cure.”

        3) in The Music Man, it turned out that the artist was the cure to the problem.. the actual conman on this basis would be the skeptical laissez-faire librarian trying to fool people into remaining unhappy and leading unfulfilled lives as they’d always done.

        So, in real life the con-artist seems to be… you.

  44. Perhaps Libertarians have come across the book described below, and are concerned. (After all, the Constitution establishes a limited government.)

    hauntingthelibrary. 2011. IPCC Green Doctor Prescribes End to Democracy to Solve Global Warming. Opinion. hauntingthelibrary. January 5. http://hauntingthelibrary.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/ipcc-green-doctor-prescribes-end-to-democracy-to-solve-global-warming/

    The book itself is cataloged here in the Library of Congress (two copies):

    A few quotations from the hauntingthelibrary post (emphasis added):

    “The introduction, by the director of the Pell Center, provides a handy summary of the argument contained in the book:”

    In short, Shearman and Smith argue that liberal democracy – considered sacrosanct in modern societies – is an impediment to finding ecologically sustainable solutions for the planet [intro. p.xi]”

    “Chapter 9 will describe in more detail how we might begin the process of constructing such real universities to train the ecowarriors to do battle against the enemies of life. We must accomplish this education with the same dedication used to train its warriors. As in Sparta, these natural elites will be especially trained from childhood to meet the challenging problems of our times. [p. 134]”

    “Government in the future will be based upon . . . a supreme office of the biosphere. The office will comprise specially trained philosopher/ecologists. These guardians will either rule themselves or advise an authoritarian government of policies based on their ecological training and philosophical sensitivities. These guardians will be specially trained for the task. [p. 134]”

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – Juvenal: “Who will guard the guards?”

    • The Library of Congress link did not parse correctly, a fairly common problem. If you want to link, you have to copy the whole thing through “1”.

    • This fits in well with Tobis’ take that the AGW crisis is so grave that norms do not apply, and that he would support any solution that accomplishes his goal.
      I wonder, if Michael Tobis still checking in with this thread, if his acceptable solutions would include large scale terrorist destruction of the world’s infrastructure (which was endorsed for awhile by Hansen), or the actual extinction of humanity (which would certainly get us to 0 CO2 emissions)?
      Or are there norms, afterall, that could contrain the solutions of this crisis he sees so clearly?

      • That is just nasty.

        Of course not. Anything that threatens civilization is not on the table because the purpose of the effort is to preserve civilization with the smallest additional constraints that actually achieve the goal.

        I meant, any way of producing carbon-free energy or sequestering carbon or reducing demand, and any policy that caused any of those to happen, would be fine with me as a way of keeping our way of life going into the future. I think there are many reasonable ways to proceed. It’s not my bailiwick. I would leave it to experts in energy, economics and politics to choose among them. They just need to understand that failing to achieve this is probably going to have dire consequences.

        Of course there are terrible ways to proceed. One of the other existential threats (world war, epidemic) might zero out carbon emissions. But the goal isn’t zero carbon emissions!

        Again, the goal is sustaining human civilization into the far future. Zero net carbon looks necessary for this, but clearly it is not sufficient.

        Anyway, I think you need to support what you said about Hansen or withdraw it. He says he is a conservative; and as far as I can tell this is true. It’s really hard for me to believe that “large scale terrorist destruction of the world’s infrastructure (which was endorsed for awhile by Hansen)” is fair.

      • You are actually funny, but unfortunately some people actually believe what you write without asking to see you substantiate your conclusions.

        You claim that there will be “dire consequences”, and go on to predict war or disease if your suggestions are not followed, and you do this without any actual evidence to support your opinions.

        It is my opinion, that you have offered absolutely no information to support your opinions, and that the policy suggestions that you make for the United States are highly ill advised.

      • You didn’t read very carefully.

        I said that if we have war or deadly pandemic independent of climate, and as a consequence the climate stabilizes, that is not a good outcome, because a good outcome preserves modern civilization and a bad outcome doesn’t. Do you disagree?

        As for “unsupported”, my opinions are pretty much in line with mainstream science as I understand it. I refer you to IPCC Working Group I for the details. If I make a claim that isn’t in line with that I will duly provide chapter and verse.

      • Tobis wrote:
        Your comments have repeatedly called climate change a “threat to civilization”, which is completely unsupported by any science.

        I have written not that your scientific positions are wrong, but that your opinions as to what should be done regarding the basic science are what they are….opinions unsupported by the science, and economically stupid…..for the American taxpayer. It is stupid to enact a tax with no indication that it will achieve the desired effect.

        You wrote elsewhere about changes in the acidity of the ocean reportedly due to increased human released CO2—you wrote:

        “that the changes have been observed- no presumption is involved” that is actually wrong.

        The paper referenced states: “Our results indicate that pH decline is proceeding at a more rapid rate than previously predicted in some areas, and that this decline has ecological consequences for near shore benthic ecosystems.”

        The paper did not measure any other possible variables which could have affected the biology. If the writers did not have a properly controlled environment how is it correct to conclude that the cause was higher human caused CO2, which then caused higher ocean acidity, which then damaged the biology.

      • Michael,
        I am pleased to see you say that.
        as for Hansen, happy to back that up:
        check out Keith Farnish’s happy sounding “Time’s Up!”
        Here is what Hansen said about, in an unsolicited endorsement:
        “”Keith Farnish has it right: time has practically run out, and the ‘system’ is the problem,” wrote Dr. James Hansen on the Amazon website. “Governments are under the thumb of fossil fuel special interests – they will not look after our and the planet’s well-being until we force them to do so, and that is going to require enormous effort.

        It has also come to light that Hansen wasn’t even asked to comment on Farnish’s book, he freely volunteered his opinion. “Just to put the quote into context, it was indeed spontaneous from James and surprised me a little at first,” wrote author Farnish on the Yahoo Answers website.”

        Here is the book in question at Amazon. And lok what the commenters say about it:
        Here is what the book is about:
        ““Unloading essentially means the removal of an existing burden: for instance, removing grazing domesticated animals, razing cities to the ground, blowing up dams and switching off the greenhouse gas emissions machine. The process of ecological unloading is an accumulation of many of the things I have already explained in this chapter, along with an (almost certainly necessary) element of sabotage,” writes Farnish.”

        I think I am spot on, actually.
        And I think that not all people who believe that CO2 is creating a crisis feel as contrained as you.
        I commend you to read Chesterton on Eugenics- the modern edition even has arguments from his opponents. If you are at all in a reflective mood, it should make an interesting impression.

      • Yes, I though that was the case you meant. That was a stupid move on Hansen’s part. Presumably he only read one chapter or something like that and the book endorsed prematurely.

        I have a hard time believing he actually ever held that sort of an opinion. Is there any corroborating evidence?

        It’s evidence that scientists make lousy politicians, but by itself doesn’t carry enough weight to suggest that Hansen ever agreed with those radical conclusions.

        The idea that concern about climate change is the same as a naive and radical Luddism is the straw man part. Kathy Hayhoe, Barry Bickmore, Kerry Emanuel are examples of philosophically very conservative people who take climate change seriously. The outlines of the physical problem are entirely independent of politics. What to do about it, of course, is political.

        The confusion of the two types of problem is quite endemic among the commenters here. How much trouble we are in is ultimately an objective question. We all have our biases, but the methods of science suffice to keep those biases in check.

        How best to deal with the trouble we are in is a political question, but it should be informed by a reasonably sound risk estimate.

      • We all have our biases, but the methods of science suffice to keep those biases in check.

        And how well are those checks working in Climate Science at the moment, Michael?

      • How much trouble we are in trouble depends entirely on what we think we can do about it. An infection is much worse if you are far from help than if you have antibiotics. Wrt climate change, many of the “effects” of warming can be fixed relatively cheaply, and this lessens the degree to which we are “in trouble”, but it is not permitted to talk about these fixes. Thus “in trouble” is NOT an objective condition. A drought is Africa is a very different thing than a drought in Kansas where farmers have wells and insurance.

      • Michael,
        I am glad that you are able to apologize for Hansen, but it is Hansen who has also predcited that Manhattan would be inundated by rising sea levels by now, and experiencing changes in vegetation, and it is he who did in fact more than once defend law breakers by using global warming as a defense. And it is hansen who has called for crimes against humanity trials for those in industry who disagree with him.
        I see his endorsement as rash buut completely within the the context of his stance on civil society: law is subordinant to his personal beliefs.
        Dr. Emanuel is, imho, a trained monkey to entertain his friends in academia- ‘look! a conservative who can behave as we expect! He almost speaks English!’.
        The outlines of the problem we are facing is clear, if you look at the continued calls for dismantling democratic lawful rule from radical believers.
        The objective truth is that it is your side who wirtes the books calling for terror and violence, who make little movies like 10:10, who call for criminalization of CO2 dissent, and who are sure that this apoclyptic mania is giong to be the one that actually happnes.
        If you look at anything in weather and climate to be concerned about….nothing is giong on that is cause for a rational person to be alarmed.
        Again, read Chesterton. He pegged this sort of movement nearly 100 years ago.

      • You try to phrase it as though it was a tactical error. In fact, it is a fundamental error of both assessment and morality. “Unloading” and all its relatives are lipstick on a mass-murderous boar. Those in sympathy with it are despicable and very dangerous.

      • “Kathy Hayhoe, Barry Bickmore, Kerry Emanuel are examples of philosophically very conservative people who take climate change seriously.”

        Well, I suppose the idea is being circulated ( sounds like a chris mooney idea ) that the movement needs more republican scientists. When I heard this discussed at AGU I thought, I wonder if the will try to peddle Emmauel in that role. Sure enough, their was an article on him in the days following.
        Emmanuel will not work as a “conservative” who believes in climate change.You should know why.

        Bickmore is a joke. A mormon. you lose the southern conservatives. I suppose I can go over to Bickmore’s blog, ask him a few simple questions about climategate

        MT, you need a conservative who believes in climate change but who ALSO is willing to tackle climategate head on.
        Don’t you get it? Any conservative who supports or condones what went on in climategate Loses their conservative badge.

  45. Here is an excellent example of good communication by a scientist (on the topic of plastic garbage in the ocean):


    Clear, informative, corrects alarmist hyperbole, contributes to actual understanding of the problem.

    • We need a lot more of this sort of paper.

    • Amazing article and an amazing site.
      Note that the key to his communication success is unflinching honesty.
      That was lost when the Schneider doctrince took over.
      That will be lost until science journalists like Tobis, for example, place unflinching honesty at the top of the list. Normative bounds exist, and will continue to exist for reasons profound and small.

      • White sais in the interview: “There’s no place for plastic in our marine environment.”

        Imagine a similarly worded and honest, clear, informative interview about AGW. And the scientist interviewed sais right in the beginning: “There’s no place for unlimited amounts of CO2 to be emitted into our atmosphere.”

        I dare say that it wouldn’t receieve the same amount of praise as this article has. Because both are normative statements that people agree or disagree with. People in the latter category will be predisposed to dismiss what follows.

      • Bart,
        You guys don’t say ‘unlimited carbon’.
        You say things like ‘0 CO2’.
        You also make crazy statements about the size of the problem.
        And then get caught fibbing about data, methods and certainty.
        So when you come out and say the problem is about 1% the szie you formerly claimed it was, get back with us.

      • hunter

        “You guys”

        Who guys?

        Who do I have the honor of being lumped in with today?

        Because I don’t recall being invited to any of the meetings of the Youguys Club.

        See, you can Strawman all you like about everyone who disagrees with you, but the world isn’t divided into people who agree with you and people who agree with each other.

        I don’t say things like ‘0 CO2’; I say things like “I want my air back.”

        I don’t claim to have any certainty, methods or data of my own, and I hate to represent the views of others without referring to their original works.

        So, when you figure out what paintbrush you’re smearing me with, get back to me, so I can plan a coordinating wardrobe to go with your overbroad generalized bleating tones. And earmuffs to accessorize.

      • Oh


        My bad.

        Wrong Bart.

        Him, I can’t speak for.

        Though I imagine some of what I said might apply.

        Sorry, Bart.

      • Who exactly is taking away your air? Enriching it with a bit of CO2, which is at near plant-famine levels, is not diluting the oxygen supply. In fact, if all the fossil fuels accessible on the planet were burned at once, it would increase the CO2 levels by about 50%, but use up only about 1/500 of the atmosphere’s oxygen. Which the plants and phytoplankton would immediately set about replacing.

      • Enriching my air with anything without my consent is no better than enriching my water with unspecified adulterants or my food with hormones and antibiotics or my education system with your religion.

        Plant famine levels for CO2 vary widely, and if we’re in danger of running into those, by all means demonstrate some credible evidence of that looming catastrophe.

        And why should I trust these throw-away (and obviously patently wrong) figures about all fossil fuels burning at once from someone who would adulterate the commons without consent based on his own arrogant faith in his right to do so?

        How gullible do you think me?

        What crown were you born wearing, that gives you such divine rights to rule unconsented?

      • Bart – there is definitely a very important place for CO2 in the air. Don’t you see the difference? Essential gas in the atmosphere vs non-essential plastic in the ocean?

    • I agree that both the scientist and the reporter were exemplary in this case.

      • Latimer Alder

        Wouldn’t it be nice to read a similarly hype-free discussion of the supposed consequences of global warming? Both good and bad. And in terms that Joe Sixpack can understand.

        Sadly I fear that this is impossible since any scientist who tried to do so would find their prospects, grants and publication potential dry up overnight. Heresy or apostasy is not welcomed by the elders..as Judith has found.

        Cue heaps of ordure from the usual suspects explaining that there would be no possible good consequences and wondering about my parentage and imaginary paycheque……..

      • Michael, just curious about something. There are numerous books and pubs one can choose to peruse on climate change. Have you ever read Andrew Montford’s, the “Hockey Stick Illusion”? If so, what is you view. If not, why?

    • Richard S Courtney

      Dr Curry:

      I fully agree.

      I have read the comments in this thread with growing despair and some anger.

      Every scientist has a duty to research in his/her field of study. And if he/she discovers findings of that research which he/she thinks has significant social implications then he/she has a right – many would say a duty – to report those implications.

      But no scientists has special gifts in deciding what could or should be done in response to those findings. If some scientist feels so moved as to want to make such decisions and to proclaim that they must be implemented then he/she should give up being a scientist and become a politician instead.

      The hype about plastic in the seas did nothing to clean the seas: what person or country would pay the costs of a problem as large as was stated? But that hype caused unnecessary costs by the displacement of cheap plastic bags as convenient packaging in supermarkets, and that displacement could not affect the problem.

      The recent paper about plastic in the seas presents a much more realistic appraisal of the situation. That appraisal shows the situation is manageable by one or two Rainbow Warriors, and if ‘green’ groups really care about the situation then they could use some of their monies to clean the sea with resulting publicity that would gain them additional income.

      The AGW situation is similar. Incredible proclamations of certain future disaster from AGW are only accepted by a few ‘true believers’, and their one-sided bogottry (as exemplified by Michael Tobis in this thread) is rejected by most people who know that nobody can be that certain of what the future holds.

      So, the ‘activist’ AGW scientists have ‘spoiled their nest’.

      The behaviour of James Hansen as an Expert Witness in a sabotage trial has resulted in the pro-AGW UK government hunting down power station saboteurs, and each conviction of such saboteurs hardens public interest against assertions of AGW: the public sees Hansen and those who act on his words as being dangerous loonies.

      The ‘climategate’ emails reveal attempts at usurption of the practices of science to promote AGW. The ‘true believers’ say the emails do not change the science – which they do not – but the contents of the emails changed views of news Editors so they have reduced their willingness to publish one-sided polemic from Environment Correspondents.

      Claims that AGW would cause snow to disappear from the UK ‘back-fired’ when unusually heavy snow fell on the UK in two successive winters: few in the UK except ‘true believers’ now accept as true anything said about AGW by the UK Met. Office.

      And so on.

      Simply, overstating a case is very, very bad politics.

      Every expert in anything knows a large amount about very little. Indeed, becoming an expert consumes so much time and effort learning the ‘large amount’ that experts lack time to gain expertise in other things that all non-experts learn.

      So, scientists should say what they know, what they do not know, and how they know it. Deciding actions on the basis of what is known and not known is the job of politicians: politicians make all their decisions by balancing varieties of inputs of incomplete information. A scientist is not a politician. And the AGW-advocate-scientists have proven that they are totally inept when they try to act as politicians.

      They should stop trying.


      • That plastic bags are banned is a ludicrous example of overbearing environmental governance. Plastic bags are cheap, strong, light, sanitary and have handles. They are not decorated with lead or cadmium.
        In our home, plastic grocery bags are re-tasked as waste basket liners or cleanup of dog droppings.
        Our custom is to reuse, re-task, recycle. Unfortunately, not even our largest bags are big enough to dispose of the CAGW crap.

      • There should be no reason a scientist, of whatever political stripe, has to choose between being a scientist and being an advocate. The instinct to silence, or at least muffle, those with whom we disagree is common, but misguided.

        I have no problem with James Hansen using the biggest megaphone he can find to air his views. As a voter in the U.S., his right to participate is no less than mine. When a scientist engages in such advocacy, there is always the risk that his research will be biased by his policy preferences, either in fact or in the perception of others, or both. There is always the possibility that anyone speaking from apparent authority is lying, misguided or even delusional. But that is true of any speaker in a political debate.

        I see no reason to muzzle climate scientist advocates, or force them to choose between their science and their right to free speech. You fight misinformation with the truth. You fight alarmism with appeals to rationality. The cap and trade debate was not won by censoring the climate advocates, it was won by overwhelming their claims with additional facts – regarding uncertainty, the costs, potential bias in the science….

        I would have been less sanguine about this perhaps 20 years ago, but with the explosive growth of alternative media, the internet, talk radio and yes, (horror of horrors) Fox News, the alternative to the “consensus,” whether on climate or politics in general, now gets a fair airing. Tactically, I for one much prefer that the Hansen’s and Michael Tobis’s keep up the overheated rhetoric and pronouncements of imminent doom. As long as countervailing opinions can get a proper hearing.

        As for the claim asserted by so many that the alarmism of the climate activists didn’t work, I wonder if we will ever really know how close a thing it was. If the economy had not already seriously tanked beginning in 2008, the cap and trade debate in the U.S., and perhaps even Copenhagen, may have ended very differently.

        But that still would not have justified silencing scientists in policy debates. Truth is the antidote to lies, good science the antidote to bad, and free speech for everybody the only way to ensure you get a full debate.

      • Seconded…well said.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Gary M:

        I can only think you have not read what Hansen said during the court case or, alternatively, you are deranged.

        Anyway, my post was on the stupidity of a scientists trying to be activists. As a full-blown AGW-skeptic I am very pleased for the AGW-activist-scientists to keep providing their activism: as I explained, they are winning the case for our ‘side’ of the debate.


      • “If some scientist feels so moved as to want to make such decisions and to proclaim that they must be implemented then he/she should give up being a scientist and become a politician instead.”

        followed by

        “…I am very pleased for the AGW-activist-scientists to keep providing their activism….”

        One of us is confused.

      • It is you.

      • Richard S Courtney


        Yes, Gary M is “confused” or is trying to change the subject.

        My first post in this thread concluded its analysis by saying;

        “A scientist is not a politician. And the AGW-advocate-scientists have proven that they are totally inept when they try to act as politicians.

        They should stop trying.”

        That advice is completely consistent with my later saying;

        “Anyway, my post was on the stupidity of a scientists trying to be activists. As a full-blown AGW-skeptic I am very pleased for the AGW-activist-scientists to keep providing their activism: as I explained, they are winning the case for our ‘side’ of the debate.”

        I am not surprised that AGW-supporters fail to understand that those two posts are completely consistent because logic and common sense would have prevented them from the politically inept activism.


      • If I understand what Gary M was saying it is this:
        that while the scientists promoting AGW are wrong, suppressing either side of the the discussion will be counter productive.
        He believes, and I believe as well, in vigorous debate.
        You are correct: it is the words of the strongest supportes of AGW that have undermined it the most.
        It was not Koch money, or ExxonMobil money. It was the climate scientists and their spokespeople who spoke very clearly for a very long time who have led us to this.
        People are learning exactly what the climate scienitists say and belive and mean and they arejecting it.
        that is my take on it.
        And I still want my money back.

      • Richard S Courtney


        To be clear, I am not saying and I have not said that anybody should be muzzled.

        My first post explained that scientists are poor politicians. Becoming an effective politician is not easy: many people try to become politicians but very few are successful.

        So, if a scientist wants to become a politician then she/he needs to give up science and put in the time and effort needed to become a successful politician: some have (e.g. Mrs Margaret Thatcher). But learning how to do politics while acting as a scientist is a chalenge that few – if any – people could achieve.

        The AGW-activist- scientists should trust in the importance of their work if it is solid science. Inform the public and politicians of what they have found and trust that the findings will encourage correct response. Indeed, there is no reason for anybody to think scientists have any special ability to make political decisions, and scientists harm respect for their science when they pretend a special ability that everybody knows they do not have.

        And, hype does not work. As I said;

        “Simply, overstating a case is very, very bad politics.”

        But, as several posts in this thread demonstrate, that fact fails to break through to AGW-advocates. Indeed, when I pointed it out then no discussion of it occured, but an attempt to talk about ‘free speach’ was introduced. That attempt was itself a demonstration that the AGW-advocates have a mind-set which prevents them understanding how to be politically effective.

        Personally, as an AGW-skeptic, I am very pleased that they only want to act ineffectively.


      • Don’t be too sanguine. They still have their hands on the money, and are writing and enforcing gubmint policy as we speak (type). As was said above, “I still want my money back.”

      • Brian H

        I want my air back.

      • The air is just fine, and getting better. If we succeed in doubling or quadrupling CO2, it will be a bonanza.

      • Brian H

        Your money is just fine, and getting better.

        If they succeed in doubling or quadrupling what we take from you without your consent, it will be a bonanza.

        I wish them luck, whoever they are, because if there’s anyone who deserves to have their monies infringed, it’s those who are glib about infringing my liberties.

      • good post

      • GaryM,
        But it is the promters of AGW who are the ones fibbing and getting paid by public money to do it.
        I want my money back.
        It is the AGW promtoers who are suppressing and floding the public square with their fear mongering.
        Yet Tobis is here calling for even more fear mongering and suppression of those few voices who point out that the climate emperor has no clothes.
        Your defense is misplaced and annoying, frankly.

      • Tobis is a walking typing exemplar of the delusions that believing devoutly in the Precautionary Principle leads to. It waves away real cost-benefit analysis, and assigns some imaginary infinite weighting to vague and heavily hyped horrors-to-come, and thereby justifies any and all draconian mitigations.

        A bit of work assigning (and justifying) specific probabilities to all possible outcomes, and competent costing thereof, all laid out on a spreadsheet, would be most enlightening to him, if he could manage it.

      • I have written against the usual formulation of the precautionary principle. It is indeed unworkable.

        A bit of work assigning (and justifying) specific probabilities to all possible outcomes, and competent costing thereof, all laid out on a spreadsheet, would be most enlightening to him, if he could manage it.

        I think this is an excellent idea. Has ANYBODY managed it?

        I think it’s more than a spreadsheet, though. Some probability distributions are not independent. For example, some of the low climate sensitivity scenarios, wherein the ocean absorbs most of the CO2 relatively quickly, imply high ocean acidification scenarios. Then there are geochemical feedbacks, economic feedbacks, political feedbacks. Eventually you end up with a model with so many levers and knobs that it makes a regular climate model look totally decisive. (And in fact you end up with such a model as a component).

        As far as I know the suggested spreadsheet does not exist. I am sure any attempt could be criticized severely, but I would be interested to know if anybody has tried it.

        The closest thing I know to this sort of thing is the big MIT study which ended up very much on the alarmist end of teh spectrum.


        But even though this has an economic model in it, all they managed to do so far was to get a no-policy scenario. You may be surprised to hear that I suspect that this model overestimates the century-scale risks. However, I also feel that our obligations to the future reach beyond a century.

        Finally, I think conventional economic reasoning breaks down at approximately thirty years. The meaning of a “dollar”, even an “inflation-adjusted dollar” changes so much over longer times that comparing costs and benefits across scenarios has to refer to more fundamental measures of well-being.

      • What I take from Michael’s post is that he believes that a cost benefit analysis on the actions he proposes would be really difficult to pull together, so American taxpayers should just accept his ideas.
        Michael—if that is what you believe, then there is little hope for you to ever have your position accepted by an informed populace. If you were in business and had to make an investment decision comparing several different technically complex alternatives, you would have to prepare the subject analysis prior to getting proceeding. In business we discuss all the variables (in detail) as well as the risks associated with each. We have extensive discussions of the risks, benefits and weights to be applied to each variable and try to reach a consensus.
        I believe the key constraint regarding this issue is that the climate system is complex and there are no reliable models to demonstrate what the climate will be like in the future at various locations at various CO2 levels. Without that data, and given that the changes will happen over a very long period of time (decades) it simply is not a reasonable to take monumental actions that will cost billions and have no evidence to demonstrate they will fix the perceived problem.

      • I’ve stayed out of the politics side of the thread largely because it’s something I know something about having lived on the dark side as it were for some time in my career.

        However I would just make one (hopefully positive) observation on the “cost benefit/precautionary principle/case for action” discussion.

        My view is that we have democratic processes in various shapes and forms to deal with precisely these kinds of issues with all their uncertainties (totalitarian states are another issue but even they participate in quasi-democratic processes at the international level).

        Taking this view what we see now in terms of the level of action around the world is the reasonable assessment of the trade offs between the political costs and benefits of action.

        I should add that I think the political consensus is probably hardening around a more cautious approach as the underlying science gets exposed to greater scrutiny (i.e. I think we’re seeing the outliers for extreme action and for do nothing converging to the middle ground).

        As time passes the middle ground may well move, but my sense is that if I were an activist scientist on a mission I’d be focused 100% on quantifying and reducing the big uncertainties (and stop polishing the models).

      • AFAIK, the closest anyone has come to this is Nordhaus, with is global cost-benefit analysis of the major alternatives (from doing nothing to full panic Gore-Stern), using his DICE (and later the more refined regional RICE) models. They asymptote at about 100 yrs., so that’s his horizon.
        Review by Dyson here: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21494

        Note that he takes AGW as a given (as indeed he believes it is). Subtract that “avoidance benefit” side from his calculations, and all the mitigations turn out to be disastrous economically, of course.

      • Gary M,
        I read your post too quckly and hit ‘submit’ too quickly as well.
        You make excellent points.

      • gary

        “There should be no reason a scientist, of whatever political stripe, has to choose between being a scientist and being an advocate. The instinct to silence, or at least muffle, those with whom we disagree is common, but misguided”

        Nobody is suggesting that people be silenced or muffled. It’s a practical matter. If you are a scientist and you wish to speak out on policy, you should weigh the pros and cons appropriately. The unforseen consequence of the science being attacked because of your own personal failings, is real. We’ve just seen a year of it. So practically one has to balance two things:

        A. the tangible good I can do by speaking out about policy.
        B. The potential harm I can do If I screw up.

        The simple fact is we have no example of any scientist making a tangible contribution to the public’s perception of the science. I have a few people who I think could be marketed as spokespeople. Because that is essentially what we are talking about. Basically, if you havent been vetted and trained as a spokesperson, your concerns about the future wuld better be served by you shutting up. I won’t say who specifically does MORE damage to the cause by speaking, but we all know who they are.

        This is largely why after years of attacking skepics as conservatives, the movement is looking to find conservatives who believe. The thinking is a form of “identity politics” . Expect any new spokespeople, however conservative, to be put through a litmus test WRT climategate.

      • steven,

        “Nobody is suggesting that people be silenced or muffled. ”

        I don’t know how else to describe the comment I was responding to.

        “If some scientist feels so moved as to want to make such decisions and to proclaim that they must be implemented then he/she should give up being a scientist and become a politician instead.”

        Your comment seems to suggest that saying scientists “should” choose between remaining scientists or becoming spokesman is simply tactical advice to help those scientists be more effective. If I were one of those scientists, I suspect I would take a statement that I “become a politician or spokesman or shut up” as an attempt to muffle me at least.

        I have no problem with climate scientists/advocates trying to persuade the public their research is valid. It is the way it has been done in climate science that is the problem. Imagine a world in which all the usual suspects published all their data and code, admitted the possibility of bias and showed serious attempts to ferret it out, did not cherry pick data or time frames, openly acknowledged the degrees of uncertainty, used statisticians in designing their statistical analyses, had validated their climate models against real world conditi0ns (assuming they could), etc.

        In such a world would there be so much concern about the advocacy of scientists? Would they be told they “should” choose between their profession and their advocacy? And while I am a firm skeptic, how do you tell someone who genuinely believes CAGW is an imminent danger to mankind that he should stop his work or shut up?

        I think there is lots of bias, and some dishonesty in the climate science field (since it is peopled by… people, and we are by nature prone to such weaknesses). But I think many are absolutely sincere in their belief that the sky is going to fall, and soon. I say let the boy cry wolf, let Chicken Little speak. They should even keep their day jobs. Just be prepared to combat them with more persuasive (and accurate) speech.

        Just curious, Dr. Curry has been quite outspoken regarding her views of the science, uncertainties and risks. Does anybody here think she should quit her day job? Or is it just the ones we disagree with?

  46. I should have commended Richard for the excellent points of his post. Kudos!

  47. Steven, you say, “Tough luck if you live around sea level, but you’ve been warned”. You come to this conclusion how? – and what time frame? Correct me if I am wrong but that conclusion puts you in the camp of endorsing the “models” forecasting abilities, and advertenly or inadvertently makes you a cAGWer.

    • As Algorical knows very well, and has paid good money to prove it, sea-level beachhouses are safe as churches. The few mm per decade that the sea has been rising won’t amount to even an inconvenience in any reader’s lifetime.

    • Gosh Bob, You think i’m a cAGWer, D64 and others think I’m a skeptic.

      As far as “endorsing” the models. There is no “endorsing” models. They are what they are. Our collective best attempt to characterize the boundaries of the problem. Personally, I’d not build anything of consequence ( expecting it to last >100 years) on land lower than 1 meter above sea level. That’s a local decision that can be made today with no direct costs.

      • Steve, I like you, I am very comfortable with the chemistry and physics of GHG. Unlike you, I see no credible data, nor do I think the predictive abilities of the models are capable of providing any clear thinking person with the conclusive knowledge that the shore lines will be adulterated in the foreseeable future. If you still claim this, does not that make you a cAGWer?

      • Ah no. Just simplistically Bob, if you had to predict the sea level 100 years from now what would you do?

        1. Shrug your shoulders?
        2. Extrapolate from the past?
        3. Try your best to model the process and use that as an estimate?

        Well, if Im a policy maker and I ask you this question and you do
        #1, shrug your shoulders, i’m going to find an expert who does have an expert opinion. If you do #2, your gunna say about 20cm rise by
        2100. If you do #3, you’ll say 20CM to 60CM, depending on what we do, given the current state our our knowledge about how the climate operates.

        As a policy maker, then I have to take that assesment and apply values.
        I’m certainly not going to ignore what #3 says, simply because the spread is wide. If I’m risk adverse, I may think we should plan for 1meter rise ( I do ) That’s not a science question. That’s a decision, informed by the best science we have ( However weak it may be) Heck, if you told me that the existing trend led to 20CM ( it does), I might very well think that planning for 40cm was reasonable. It’s not a science question. Its a risk and values questions informed by the science as we know it.
        I live in california. Near a fault. The science of earthquake prediction sucks. I’m pretty sure that in my lifetime we’ll see another nice one in SF. I plan on it. I wish others would so I dont have to bail their asses out. I used to live in Malibu. The combination of fires and floods was unpredicatably sure. Why we continue to subsidize people living in areas of high risk is beyond me. The science can only say that that area will continue to suffer damages. Not when, but again someday. Policy makers decide that they would rather bail people out from disasters in the future than compel them to change their behavior now.

        So, I’d say that the probability of catastrophic change is non negative.
        How one decides to use that information is a value problem. Tobis, for example, thinks we have obligations for 1000’s of years. I don’t. I’ve got obligations for as long as I live. That’s a value difference that no amount of climate modelling can address. A public official may decide they have obligations that last longer than that. Their choice. I would object to having somebody representing me, who took obligations to the 1000 year future more seriously than they took obligations to the present.

      • If I were the policy maker, I would decide there was nothing to see here and move on to a real problem. Might give it a symbolic gesture of some kind, like create a sea level rise holiday so people could prepare.

      • Richard S Courtney


        I am an AGW-skeptic (deniar, if you will) while stevenemosher is an AGW-supporter, but I completely agree with his post on this.

        Sea defences require maintenance. It is a trivial expense to upgrade them for a 60 cm rise in sea level as and when such maintenance is needed. So, why not accept that small additional cost ‘just in case’?

        Please remember that in many places the rate of sea level rise anticipated by AGW-supporters is very small compared to the isostatic changes in sea level that are still happening as a result of the last ice age. Therefore, adaptation to sea level change is needed whether or not AGW is real.


      • Thanks,

        You see there is room for agreement between believers and yet to be believers.

        we can agree on nuclear
        we can agree on better management of flood/erosion.drought risks.

        I cannot yet convince you of the case for C02 control. That is fine, maybe some day. So for now what common ground can we find:

        1. climategate needs to be handled better
        2. More transparency in science.
        3. Less name calling ( that denialist word)
        4. more nuclear
        5. better ( Locally controlled) attention to flood/drought/erosion issue.

        So, why can’t other combatants in this fight similarly agree?

      • We dedicated deniers (Lindzen and I) resent your attempt to de-label us. We deny your right to do so!

      • Suppose that it came down that the odds of catastrophic climate change (so-called) were about equivalent, in similar time scales, to those of Earth getting hit by a K-T sized asteroid?

        Which would concern you more, and which would you preferentially prepare to prevent? IMO, CAGW needs to be put in perspective by comparison with something like that. Man can adapt, probably quite successfully, to CAGW. A K-T asteroid, not so much.

  48. Brian H. (January 10, 2011 at 9:15 pm) wrote, correctly,

    “Tobis is a walking typing exemplar of the delusions that believing devoutly in the Precautionary Principle leads to. It waves away real cost-benefit analysis, and assigns some imaginary infinite weighting to vague and heavily hyped horrors-to-come, and thereby justifies any and all draconian mitigations.”

    Sunstein, Cass R. 2008. Throwing precaution to the wind: Why the ‘safe’ choice can be dangerous. Opinion. boston.com – The Boston Globe. July 13. http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/07/13/throwing_precaution_to_the_wind
    Main point:

    “Yet the precautionary principle, for all its rhetorical appeal, is deeply incoherent. It is of course true that we should take precautions against some speculative dangers. But there are always risks on both sides of a decision; inaction can bring danger, but so can action. Precautions, in other words, themselves create risks – and hence the principle bans what it simultaneously requires.
    “In the context of climate change, precautions are certainly a good idea. But what kinds of precautions? A high tax on carbon emissions would impose real risks – including increased hardship for people who can least afford it and very possibly increases in unemployment and hence poverty. A sensible climate change policy balances the costs and benefits of emissions reductions. If the policy includes costly (and hence risk-creating) precautions, it is because those precautions are justified by their benefits.
    “The nations of the world should take precautions, certainly. But they should not adopt the precautionary principle.”

    More from Cass Sunstein:
    Sunstein, Cass R. 2003. Beyond The Precautionary Principle. Working Paper #38. Public Law and Legal Theory. University of Chicago, January. http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/38.crs_.precautionary.pl-lt.pdf
    ———. 2005. Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    • thanks for this reference

    • Since there is some follow-on interest, here are a few gleanings of The Laws of Fear. The “laws” appear in both references; the page numbers below are from Working Paper #38., which is free on the web. However, the same “laws” are found in the book.

      Sunstein, Cass R. 2003. Beyond The Precautionary Principle. Working Paper #38. Public Law and Legal Theory. University of Chicago, January. http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/38.crs_.precautionary.pl-lt.pdf

      Adopted Broadly (Pg 4): “In February 2000, the Precautionary Principle was explicitly adopted in a communication by the European Commission, together with implementing guidelines”. The Precautionary Principal even appears in the European Union treaty.

      The “Laws” of Fear are:

      Pg 5, #1: Availability Heuristic: “making some risks seem especially likely to come to fruition whether or not they actually are;”
      Pg 6, #2: Probability Neglect:: “…leading people to focus on the worst case, even if it is highly improbable:”
      Pg 6, #3: Loss Aversion: “… making people dislike losses from the status quo;”
      Pg 6, #4: Benevolence of Nature: “a belief in the benevolence of nature, making man-made decisions and processes seem especially suspect;”
      Pg 7, #5: System Neglect: “… understood as a inability to see that risks are part of systems, and that interventions into those systems can create risks of their own.”

      I suggest one will find many of these laws applied to our current situation.

      • “The Precautionary Principal even appears in the European Union treaty.”

        No, really? Is there any chance you mis-spoke? It does explain why the rest of the world is worried about EU bond defaults. Please tell me it not worse than I thought.

      • Well, Cecil, I just quoted Sunstein. Agreed, if one quails at every shadow, one will wind up shivering in the dark. (Grin)

  49. Michael, you say “However, politics in the US has become so immature that the country is now grossly undertaxed and grossly militarily overextended”. Could you enlighten this audience as to whether you ever earned a dime in the private sector? Interesting minds want to know (please, only after grad school- no lawn mowing jobs)

    • Yep, I supported myself solely as an independent business consultant and software developer, and software project manager for some years, and still co-own a business with my wife doing occasional business consulting. My first and so far only book is about an informal approach to managing high performance teams in the private sector. I was very frustrated, though, at the atrophy of my formal mathematical, physical and statistical reasoning skills in the private sector so I jumped at the chance at a second postdoc at U Chicago.

      The resulting gap in my publication record has pretty much consigned me to a marginal role as a scientist and so I am planning to get back out fairly soon. Managerial experience, sadly, counts for nothing in the academy. I think I see a way to combine both threads of experience and am pursuing it.

    • Bob,
      Those kind of comments don’t help dialog. MT is here, he is engaging. Its Many against one. That takes time and guts. It doesnt matter whether or not MT has earned a dime at all in the private sector. Plenty of people inside and outside the private sector share his views. For myself I’d say overtaxed and militarily over extended.
      ( and psst, I worked in defense so don’t even ask )

  50. The Precautionary Principle tells us that we should not bathe, because the leading cause of death and injury in the house is the bath. The Precautionary Principle tells us that we should not drive, as motor vehicles are the leading cause of death and injury outside the house.

    The Law of Unintended Consequences provides a much better guide to our ability to predict the future and select the correct policies. Consider the example of starving people in Africa. The obvious solution is to ship grain to feed the people. This will undermine the local farmers and drive them out of business, making the problem worse.

    We have a similar problem with GW/CC due to industrialization. The obvious solution, to limit industrialization may solve GW/CC, but what will be the consequences? Can the earth support 7 billion people without industrialization? If not, could this lead to famine and war?

    What if we are wrong about the causes of GW/CC? Who is better equipped to deal with disasters, man-made or otherwise? Historically it is the industrialized nations that have provided aid in times of disaster. Thus, by limiting industrialization we may well limit our ability to respond to GW/CC.

  51. Cass Sunstein, the same guy who wrote “…the precautionary principle, for all its rhetorical appeal, is deeply incoherent,” also wrote a book annunciating a fascinating political philosophy founded on the wonders of cognative dissonance. Quoting that radical right rag the New York Times: “In ‘Nudge,’ a popular book that he wrote with the influential behavioral economist Richard Thaler, Sunstein elaborated a philosophy called ‘libertarian paternalism.’”

    If you read the article cited by Pooh Dixie you see that Sunstein is not a climate skeptic, or even a lukewarmer. (Does anyone think Obama would have made him his regulatory czar if he was?) Sunstein does not object to the goals of the climate activists, he just wants them to change tactics. (A lesson all intelligent radicals learned in the 60s when they overplayed their hand so badly.)

    The penultimate paragraph in the Sunstein article:

    “In the context of climate change, precautions are certainly a good idea. But what kinds of precautions? A high tax on carbon emissions would impose real risks – including increased hardship for people who can least afford it and very possibly increases in unemployment and hence poverty. A sensible climate change policy balances the costs and benefits of emissions reductions. If the policy includes costly (and hence risk-creating) precautions, it is because those precautions are justified by their benefits.”

    There is no rejection of cap and trade or any other leftist policy here. Sunstein is talking tactics. He recognizes that the precautionary principle is a loser with the public. He is not advising against CAGW policy, he is making an argument that it has to be sold better (you know, green jobs, lowering the cost of energy…).

    Sunstein would probably tell Michael Tobis to pipe down if he could, but he would encourage Gavin Schmidt to up the volume. I would say that Sunstein is to Al Gore what Schmidt is to James Hansen; same goals, more sophisticated rhetoric.

  52. Speaking of outrageous predictions of catastrophe from the CAGW community, this press release is just out from NCAR/UCAR Media Relations. Let’s see if the mainstream press picks it up come Friday.

    It suggests a warming of 16 degrees C due to the CO2 levels by the end of the century (based on a 1000 ppm CO2 level), lasting tens of thousands of years.

    Tobis should love this, but I consider this kind of CAGW speculation to be a waste of taxpayer money. “GreenFleece” if you like. If NSF insists on funding this kind of research perhaps the best thing Congress can do is zero their climate research budget. We should be trying to figure out natural climate change and oscillation, not playing CAGW.

    ”Earth’s hot past could be prologue to future climate” (from NCAR/UCAR Media Relations)

    ”BOULDER -The magnitude of climate change during Earth’s deep past suggests that future temperatures may eventually rise far more than projected if society continues its pace of emitting greenhouse gases, a new analysis concludes. The study, by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Jeffrey Kiehl, will appear as a “Perspectives” piece in this week’s issue of the journal Science.

    Building on recent research, the study examines the relationship between global temperatures and high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere tens of millions of years ago. It warns that, if carbon dioxide emissions continue at their current rate through the end of this century, atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas will reach levels that existed about 30 million to 100 million years ago, when global temperatures averaged about 29 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels.

    Kiehl said that global temperatures may gradually rise over centuries or millennia in response to the carbon dioxide. The elevated levels of carbon dioxide may remain in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years, according to recent computer model studies of geochemical processes that the study cites.

    The study also indicates that the planet’s climate system, over long periods of times, may be at least twice as sensitive to carbon dioxide than currently projected by computer models, which have generally focused on shorter-term warming trends. This is largely because even sophisticated computer models have not yet been able to incorporate critical processes, such as the loss of ice sheets, that take place over centuries or millennia and amplify the initial warming effects of carbon dioxide.

    “If we don’t start seriously working toward a reduction of carbon emissions, we are putting our planet on a trajectory that the human species has never experienced,” says Kiehl, a climate scientist who specializes in studying global climate in Earth’s geologic past. “We will have committed human civilization to living in a different world for multiple generations.”

    The Perspectives article pulls together several recent studies that look at various aspects of the climate system, while adding a mathematical approach by Kiehl to estimate average global temperatures in the distant past. Its analysis of the climate system’s response to elevated levels of carbon dioxide is supported by previous studies that Kiehl cites. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor.”

    Your tax dollars at work.

    • randomengineer

      If NSF insists on funding this kind of research perhaps the best thing Congress can do is zero their climate research budget. We should be trying to figure out natural climate change and oscillation, not playing CAGW.

      This is a thread about politics, and you just nailed an important point.

      This is particularly outrageous given the unemployment rate that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon. It’s a recession, for crying out loud.

      Congress SHOULD zero out their climate budget until NSF/NCAR submits a list of climate projects to be funded that are useful. It’s unconsionable to fund this sort of thing in a recession.

    • IMO, David Wojick has it right. The NCAR argument depends on what value is used for CO2 Residence Time. The longer it is, the more CO2 can accumulate in the atmosphere. However, this debate over CO2 Residence has been going on for some time.
      I am going to reply to myself with the references>

      • Cook, John. 2010. A residential lifetime. Science Skeptical Science. April 1. http://www.skepticalscience.com/A-residential-lifetime.html

        Abstract: One argument against accelerating global warming is that carbon dioxide has a short residence time in the atmosphere. The claim goes like this:
        (A) Predictions for the Global Warming Potential (GWP) by the IPCC express the warming effect CO2 has over several time scales; 20, 100 and 500 years.
        (B) But CO2 has only a 5 year life time in the atmosphere.
        (C) Therefore CO2 cannot cause the long term warming predicted by the IPCC.
        This claim is false. (A) is true. (B) is also true. But B is irrelevant and misleading so it does not follow that C is therefore true.
        The claim hinges on what life time means. To understand this, we have to first understand what a box model is: In an environmental context, systems are often described by simplified box models. A simple example (from school days) of the water cycle would have just 3 boxes: clouds, rivers, and the ocean.

        Worth the read to find out what the train of thought is for an extended lifetime.

      • Segalstad, Tom V. 1998. Carbon cycle modelling and the residence time of natural and anthropogenic atmospheric CO2: on the construction of the “Greenhouse Effect Global Warming” dogma. In Global Warming: The Continuing Debate, ed. R. Bate, 184-219. European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF). Cambridge, England. http://folk.uio.no/tomvs/esef/ESEF3VO2.htm

        The three evidences of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that the apparent contemporary atmospheric CO2 increase is anthropogenic, is discussed and rejected: CO2 measurements from ice cores; CO2 measurements in air; and carbon isotope data in conjunction with carbon cycle modelling.
        It is shown why the ice core method and its results must be rejected; and that current air CO2 measurements are not validated and their results subjectively “edited”. Further it is shown that carbon cycle modelling based on non-equilibrium models, remote from observed reality and chemical laws, made to fit non-representative data through the use of non-linear ocean evasion “buffer” correction factors constructed from a pre-conceived idea, constitute a circular argument and with no scientific validity.
        Both radioactive and stable carbon isotopes show that the real atmospheric CO2 residence time (lifetime) is only about 5 years, and that the amount of fossil-fuel CO2 in the atmosphere is maximum 4%. Any CO2 level rise beyond this can only come from a much larger, but natural, carbon reservoir with much higher 13-C/12-C isotope ratio than that of the fossil fuel pool, namely from the ocean, and/or the lithosphere, and/or the Earth’s interior.
        The apparent annual atmospheric CO2 level increase, postulated to be anthropogenic, would constitute only some 0.2% of the total annual amount of CO2 exchanged naturally between the atmosphere and the ocean plus other natural sources and sinks. It is more probable that such a small ripple in the annual natural flow of CO2 would be caused by natural fluctuations of geophysical processes.
        13-C/12-C isotope mass balance calculations show that IPCC’s atmospheric residence time of 50-200 years make the atmosphere too light (50% of its current CO2 mass) to fit its measured 13-C/12-C isotope ratio. This proves why IPCC’s wrong model creates its artificial 50% “missing sink”. IPCC’s 50% inexplicable “missing sink” of about 3 giga-tonnes carbon annually should have led all governments to reject IPCC’s model. When such rejection has not yet occurred, it beautifully shows the result of the “scare-them-to-death” influence principle.
        IPCC’s “Greenhouse Effect Global Warming” dogma rests on invalid presumptions and a rejectable non-realistic carbon cycle modelling which simply refutes reality, like the existence of carbonated beer or soda “pop” as we know it.

      • Essenhigh, Robert H. 2009. Potential Dependence of Global Warming on the Residence Time (RT) in the Atmosphere of Anthropogenically Sourced Carbon Dioxide. Energy & Fuels 23, no. 5 (April 1): 2773–2784. doi:10.1021/ef800581r. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ef800581r

        The driver for this study is the wide-ranging published values of the CO2 atmospheric residence time (RT), τ, with the values differing by more than an order of magnitude, where the significance of the difference relates to decisions on whether (1) to attempt control of combustion-sourced (anthropogenic) CO2 emissions, if τ > 100 years, or (2) not to attempt control, if τ ∼ 10 years. This given difference is particularly evident in the IPCC First 1990 Climate Change Report where, in the opening policymakers summary of the report, the RT is stated to be in the range of 50−200 years, and (largely) on the basis of that, it was also concluded in the report and from subsequent related studies that the current rising level of CO2 was due to combustion of fossil fuels, thus carrying the, now widely accepted, rider that CO2 emissions from combustion should therefore be curbed. However, the actual data in the text of the IPCC report separately states a value of 4 years. The differential of these two times is then clearly identified in the relevant supporting documents of the report as being, separately (1) a long-term (∼100 years) adjustment or response time to accommodate imbalance increases in CO2 emissions from all sources and (2) the actual RT in the atmosphere of ∼4 years. As a check on that differentiation and its alternative outcome, the definition and determination of RT thus defined the need for and focus of this study. In this study, using the combustion/chemical-engineering perfectly stirred reactor (PSR) mixing structure or 0D box for the model basis, as an alternative to the more commonly used global circulation models (GCMs), to define and determine the RT in the atmosphere and then using data from the IPCC and other sources for model validation and numerical determination, the data (1) support the validity of the PSR model application in this context and, (2) from the analysis, provide (quasi-equilibrium) RTs for CO2 of ∼5 years carrying C12 and ∼16 years carrying C14, with both values essentially in agreement with the IPCC short-term (4 year) value and, separately, in agreement with most other data sources, notably, a 1998 listing by Segalstad of 36 other published values, also in the range of 5−15 years. Additionally, the analytical results also then support the IPCC analysis and data on the longer “adjustment time” (∼100 years) governing the long-term rising “quasi-equilibrium” concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. For principal verification of the adopted PSR model, the data source used was the outcome of the injection of excess 14CO2 into the atmosphere during the A-bomb tests in the 1950s/1960s, which generated an initial increase of approximately 1000% above the normal value and which then declined substantially exponentially with time, with τ = 16 years, in accordance with the (unsteady-state) prediction from and jointly providing validation for the PSR analysis. With the short (5−15 year) RT results shown to be in quasi-equilibrium, this then supports the (independently based) conclusion that the long-term (∼100 year) rising atmospheric CO2 concentration is not from anthropogenic sources but, in accordance with conclusions from other studies, is most likely the outcome of the rising atmospheric temperature, which is due to other natural factors. This further supports the conclusion that global warming is not anthropogenically driven as an outcome of combustion. The economic and political significance of that conclusion will be self-evident.

      • ———. 2009. Correct Timing is Everything – Also for CO2 in the Air. Scientific Blog. CO2Science. August 5. http://www.co2science.org/issues/v12/v12n31_co2science.php

        In a paper recently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Energy & Fuels, Dr. Robert H. Essenhigh (2009), Professor of Energy Conversion at The Ohio State University, addresses the residence time (RT) of anthropogenic CO2 in the air. He finds that the RT for bulk atmospheric CO2, the molecule 12CO2, is ~5 years, in good agreement with other cited sources (Segalstad, 1998), while the RT for the trace molecule 14CO2 is ~16 years. Both of these residence times are much shorter than what is claimed by the IPCC. The rising concentration of atmospheric CO2 in the last century is not consistent with supply from anthropogenic sources. Such anthropogenic sources account for less than 5% of the present atmosphere, compared to the major input/output from natural sources (~95%). Hence, anthropogenic CO2 is too small to be a significant or relevant factor in the global warming process, particularly when comparing with the far more potent greenhouse gas water vapor. The rising atmospheric CO2 is the outcome of rising temperature rather than vice versa. Correspondingly, Dr. Essenhigh concludes that the politically driven target of capture and sequestration of carbon from combustion sources would be a major and pointless waste of physical and financial resources.

      • Solomon (Susan) is mentioned.
        Solomon, Susan, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Reto Knutti, and Pierre Friedlingstein. 2009. Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions. PNAS 106, no. 6 (February 10): 1704–1709. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/01/28/0812721106.full.pdf+html

        The severity of damaging human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility. This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop. Following cessation of emissions, removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases radiative forcing, but is largely compensated by slower loss of heat to the ocean, so that atmospheric temperatures do not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years. Among illustrative irreversible impacts that should be expected if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase from current levels near 385 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to a peak of 450–600 ppmv over the coming century are irreversible dry-season rainfall reductions in several regions comparable to those of the ‘‘dust bowl’’ era and inexorable sea level rise. Thermal expansion of the warming ocean provides a conservative lower limit to irreversible global average sea level rise of at least 0.4 –1.0 m if 21st century CO2 concentrations exceed 600 ppmv and 0.6 –1.9 m for peak CO2 concentrations exceeding ~1,000 ppmv. Additional contributions from glaciers and ice sheet contributions to future sea level rise are uncertain but may equal or exceed several meters over the next millennium or longer.

      • To which Monckton replies:
        Monckton (of Brenchley), Christopher, Willie Soon, William Kininmonth, David R. Legates, J. Scott Armstrong, and Dr. Henk Tennekes. 2009. The Unwisdom Of Solomon. Policy Analysis. Science & Public Policy Institute. March. http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/commentaries/solomon_essays.pdf

        Early in 2009, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions,” by Susan Solomon of NOAA and three colleagues. This lurid paper said that “the severity of damaging, human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility,” and that “the climate change that takes place due to increases in CO2 concentration is largely irreversible for 1000 years after emissions stop.”
        The Solomon paper talks of “irreversible impacts,” such as dry-season reductions in rainfall leading to “dustbowl” conditions in several regions, and “inexorable sea-level rise” of “several meters.” However, the paper is entirely predicated on two implicit but false assumptions: that the computer modeling on which all of its conclusions are based is competent to predict the state of the climate a millennium or more in the future; and that the effect of atmospheric carbon-dioxide enrichment on global mean surface temperatures will be substantial.
        This collection of essays is in direct response to, and sound refutation of, the Susan Solomon paper. It is intended for state and federal policy makers and the public which elects them. No public policy, regardless of how small or large in scope, could wisely be based on the Solomon paper, or any similarly speculative claims.

    • Marohasy, Jennifer. 2009. Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere 5-15 Years Only. Blog. jennifermarohasy.com. April 17. http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2009/04/carbon-dioxide-in-atmosphere-5-15-years-only/

      IF carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels only stayed in the atmosphere a few years, say five years, then there may not be quite the urgency currently associated with anthropogenic global warming. Indeed it might be argued that the problem of elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide could be easily reversed as soon as alternative fuel sources where found and/or just before a tipping point was reached. The general consensus, however, is not five years, but rather more in the range of 50 to 200 years.
      But in a new technical paper to be published in the journal ‘Energy and Fuels’, Robert Essenhigh from Ohio State University, throws doubt on this consensus. Using the combustion/chemical-engineering Perfectly Stirred Reactor (PSR) mixing structure, or 0-D Box, as the basis of a model for residence time in the atmosphere, he explains that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are likely to have a residence time of between 5 and 15 years. He further concludes that the current trend of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is not from anthropogenic sources, but due to natural factors.

  53. It may be of interest to read the abstract of a talk that Trenberth will give at the AMS Annual meeting in Seattle in a couple of weeks. The abstract is available publicly at: http://ams.confex.com/ams/91Annual/webprogram/start.html#srch=words%7Ctrenberth%7Cmethod%7Cand%7Cpge%7C1
    It is in a section on “Communicating Climate” : I have copied the abstract below:
    “…….This talk is in honor of my friend and colleague Stephen Schneider, who was pre-eminent in communicating climate change to the public. I have given many public talks on climate change, and I have always tried to emphasize the observational facts and their interpretation, rather than the less certain projections into the future. I will illustrate how I have always tried to present the material in a fairly policy neutral way, and I have pointed out ways to encourage discussion about value systems and why these lead to potentially different actions about what one does about climate change. For many years now I have been an advocate of the need for a climate information system, of which a vital component is climate services, but it is essential to recognize that good climate services and information ride upon the basic observations and their analysis and interpretation. The WCRP Observations and Assimilation Panel, which I have chaired for 6 years, has advocated for the climate observing system and the development of useful products. Moving towards a form of operational real time attribution of climate and weather events is essential, but needs to recognize the shortcomings of models and understanding (or the uncertainties, as Steve would say). Given that global warming is unequivocal, the null hypothesis should be that all weather events are affected by global warming rather than the inane statements along the lines of “of course we cannot attribute any particular weather event to global warming”. That kind of comment is answering the wrong question.”

    I find this an intriguing statement. The most important part of the abstract (to me) comes in the last two sentences.


    • Ya Peter, I was nodding in agreement until I got to the last two sentences and then.. poof. It’s like the whole initial values/boundary values understanding flew out the window. If the Null is that all weather events are “affected” by global warming, then the little breeze that just blew up and died seconds later, is assumed to be “affected” by global warming. How do I go about disproving that. Does the new building that just went up in the neighborhood have nothing to say about the micro weather I experience?
      Strikes me that The statement is either trivially true (yes, virginia, everything “affects” everything else) or a logical stunt used to shift the burden of proof. Stunts with the Null are not particularly enlightening.
      ( ha, Willis Eschenbach tries a similar stunt from the other direction. Not impressed by that either , apologies to my good friend Willis)

  54. Here is a new record in mainstream CAGW press coverage, a projection to the year 3000 makes “devastation” headlines:

    Taxpayers should not be paying for this kind of stuff. It is a waste of money. We have real problems to solve.

    • David Wojick

      Not to worry, it’s only Canadian taxpayers.. plus those people who pay to get to read the whole report.

      Which, I take it you haven’t?

  55. PW, of course global warming effects weather. Question still remains, how much of the warming is caused directly by CO2?

  56. Alan Sutherland

    My personal take on the issues are as follows. If the science is so certain, then one would expect that the “warmist” scientists would be willing to share their data and code for replication and verification to enable all scientists to reach a common view. Why would scientists who conclude we must change our ways want to hide the data and code on which that conclusion is based? This doesn’t make sense, so I struggle to accept conclusions from secret science.

    The North Pole has been ice free in the past (witness the photo of three subs on the surface). AGW scientists just ignore this. The “Hockey Stick” is dead, but AGW people deny this. Models are used extensively to “prove” future disaster. One of the key features of the models is the tropical hot spot which cannot be found by radiosonde balloons. The sensible conclusion is that the models are wrong. But no, AGW scientists say the data must be wrong.

    I would like to see some better science around the temperature measurements. The number of stations is changing all the time. I don’t know why, but I suspect there is a reason and it is very unlikely that the reason is to reduce the trend. Pat Michaels has a convincing explanation that all this change results in colder temperatures earlier to maintain the warming trend at the same pace.

    Then there is the question of the Urban Heat Island effect (UHI). The study (on which the UEA relies as well as GISS) appears to be based on flawed data which cannot be replicated. A recent paper co-authored by McKitrick should cause scientists to explore this issue in more depth. But no, the attack dogs are set on the paper to avoid looking at the issue at all.

    Any data which contradicts AGW is ignored, vilified or adjusted. In the case of New Zealand, the data was subject to “adjustments”. In other words, because “global warming” is true, any data that contradicts this theory (such as in NZ) must somehow be adjusted .

    There are many sites in the global temperature network that show no, or very little, warming over the last 100 years. Central England is one. But lets take Oxford as an example. The physics says that GHG are well mixed and I have seen no study which demonstrates that this mixing is not true above the Oxford weather station. But the warming effect of CO2 did not happen in Oxford. So in the event that temperatures get warm, then all English people need to do is to move to Oxford, kind of like a Brigadoon. And we know from UEA science that there will be no UHI consequences if people just gathered at stations which are immune to warming.

    I think I will be told I must look at “average” temperatures. But why? And how can one explain Oxford or any other site that has not warmed? Do the physical laws not apply there? So I am waiting for a scientific study that shows Oxford will not warm even if GHGs cause warming elsewhere. Until then, I remain skeptical, and hope the answer to this post is not an “adjustment” to Oxford temperatures.

    When Judith Curry first began engaging with sceptics, the phrase in use at that time was “circling the wagons”. Initially the thought was that the sceptics were so rude that climate scientists were forced to circle the wagons to defend themselves. After all this time, I believe now that the other approach could have been to share the data and code to come up with a shared vision of the science. Indeed, this is the only way to make progress.


  57. Someone just emailed me this link, a youtube animation “Global Warming Panic Explained.”

    Some of you will find it funny, others probably won’t. But it does make some valid points about problems in communicating AGW.