Long Death(?) of Environmentalism

by Judith Curry

Schellenberger and Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute posted an interesting essay last week entitled  “The Long Death of Environmentalism.”  The summary reads:

Last week Breakthrough co-founders Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus returned to Yale University for a retrospective on their seminal 2004 essay, “The Death of Environmentalism.” In their speech they argued that the critical work of rethinking green politics was cut short by fantasies about green jobs and “An Inconvenient Truth.” The latter backfired — more Americans started to believe news of global warming was being exaggerated after the movie came out — the former made false promises that could not be realized by cap and trade. What is an earnest green who cares about global warming to do now? In this speech, Nordhaus and Shellenberger reflect on what went so badly awry, and offer 12 Theses for a post-environmental approach to climate change.

The entire essay is well worth reading.  I reproduce here their “Twelve Theses for a Post-Environmental Movement.”

Twelve Theses for a Post-Environmental Movement

Today, the need to remake ecological politics is clearly more urgent than ever. That will require that we actually learn from our failures and let those lessons become the underlying assumptions for a new, post-environmental climate movement.

First, more, better, or louder climate science will not drive the transformation of the global energy economy. The resources necessary to make such a transformation will not be forthcoming in pursuit of climate benefits that are uncertain and far off in the future. Many greens have imagined that as the evidence of climate change becomes ever clearer, the case for action will become stronger. But the reality is that the more our understanding of the full complexity of the climate system advances, the greater the uncertainties about the impacts of climate change and the attribution of those impacts to anthropogenic activities will become. This is not because the evidence for anthropogenic warming will become weaker. It will in fact become stronger. But our understanding of how that warming impacts the climate system at regional and local scales will become harder to characterize, not easier.

Second, we need to stop trying to scare the pants off of the American public. Doing so has demonstrably backfired. Climate skepticism is on the rise, every snow storm is the subject of partisan rancor, and we are no closer to acting in any meaningful way to address climate change. Skepticism about climate science has been motivated by concerns about the remedies that greens have proposed. The solution is not more climate science but rather a different set of remedies.

Third, the most successful actions will not be justified for environmental reasons. The only two countries to significantly decarbonize their energy supplies — France and Sweden — did so for energy security reasons in response to oil price shocks, not for environmental reasons. Many conservatives who are skeptical of claims made by climate campaigners believe it’s a bad idea to send half a trillion or so a year abroad for foreign imported oil, which brings with it a whole host of threats to national and energy security. Others simply see three million current air pollution deaths a year as a far higher priority. We should put shared solutions at the center of our politics, not our view of the science.

Fourth, we need to stop imagining that we will solve global warming through behavior changes. There are no doubt many good reasons for those of us with enough affluence and control over the material circumstances of our lives to turn away from accumulative consumption. But we should not imagine this to be a climate strategy.

What most greens mean when they suggest that we need to fundamentally change our way of life isn’t so fundamental at all. They mostly mean that we need to stop crass consumerism, live in denser cities, and use public transit. And while there are many reasons to recommend each of these particular remedies, none will have much impact upon the trajectory of global emissions. That’s because much of the world already lives in dense cities- more and more of us every day. Relatively few of us globally today have the means to consume crassly, or even own an automobile.

Global development and urbanization are salutary trends – for they bring with them the opportunity for billions of us to live longer, healthier, and freer lives. But these trends also suggest that the green obsession with moralizing against profligate American lifestyles is entirely irrelevant to the future disposition of the global climate, or much anything else that really matters to the big ecological challenges that we will face in the coming century. More and more of the world will adopt the very living patterns that greens have so long valorized. And as they do they will use vastly more energy and resources, not less.

Fifth, we have to stop treating climate change as if it were a traditional pollution problem. As we noted in our book, climate change is as different from past pollution problems as nuclear warfare is from gang violence. Climate change will not be solved with end-of-pipe solutions, like smokestack scrubbers and sewage treatment plants that worked for past pollution problems. Rather it will require us to rebuild the entire global energy system with technologies that we mostly don’t have today in any form that could conceivably scale to meet that challenge.

Sixth, we will not regulate or price our way to a clean energy economy. Regulatory and pricing solutions tend to succeed when we have good, low cost alternatives to the activities which we are attempting to discourage or eliminate. We dealt with acid rain once we had access to low sulfur coal from the western United States and reached an international agreement to phase out CFCs only once DuPont demonstrated that they could produce a cheap alternative at scale.

Greens have, in recent years, substituted the almighty Market, in the form of a response to a carbon price signal, for their past faith in command and control regulations. But the substitution problem is largely the same. Without cheap technologies, carbon prices will need to be prohibitively high to drive a quick transition to low carbon energy.

Seventh, we need to acknowledge that the so-called “soft energy path” is a dead end. The notion that the nation might meet its future energy needs through renewable energy and low cost energy efficiency has defined virtually all environmental energy proposals since the 1960s, and was codified into dogma by anti-nuclear activist turned efficiency consultant, Amory Lovins, in his 1976 Foreign Affairs article. Lovins claimed that efficiency would allow America to dramatically reduce its total energy use and that renewable energy technologies like wind and solar power were ready to replace fossil fuels.

But the reality is that for centuries, the global economy has used ever more energy, even as it has used energy ever more efficiently and renewable energy, which Lovins and others were claiming even as early as the late 1970’s was cheaper than fossil energy, remains expensive and difficult to scale. Renewables still cost vastly more than fossil based energy, even before we calculate the costs associated with storing and transmitting intermittent forms of energy. Wind energy, according to the latest EIA estimates, still costs 50% more than coal or gas. Solar costs three to five times as much. In the end, what the soft energy path has given us is coal-fired power plants, mountaintop removal, global warming, and an economy that uses 50% more energy, not solar panels and wind farms.

Eighth, we will not internalize the full costs of fossil fuels, even if we are able to agree upon what they actually are. Like the climate science upon which they are based, economic models that attempt to model the social costs of carbon emissions are endlessly disputable. Don’t like the result? Change the estimated climate sensitivity, the damage exponent, the social discount rate, or any number of other assumptions until you arrive at one you do like. The degree that we do internalize the cost of carbon will be determined by the tolerance within specific political economies for policies that increase energy costs.

Ninth, we will need to make clean energy technologies much cheaper in order to decarbonize the global energy economy. Clean energy technologies, where they have been deployed at all, still require vast public subsidies in order to be commercially viable. This is simply not a recipe for bringing those technologies to scale. Subsidizing more of the same old technologies will bring down their cost incrementally, but not enough to displace fossil fuels at a rate sufficient to have much impact on emissions. There will be no significant action to address global warming, no meaningful caps or other regulatory frameworks, and no global agreement to limit emissions until the alternatives to fossil fuels are much better and cheaper. This will require technological innovation on a vast scale and will require sustained state support for radical innovation through large investments in basic science, research and development, demonstration, and commercialization of new energy technologies.

Tenth, we are going to have to get over our suspicion of technology, especially nuclear power. There is no credible path to reducing global carbon emissions without an enormous expansion of nuclear power. It is the only low carbon technology we have today with the demonstrated capability to generate large quantities of centrally generated electrtic power. It is the low carbon of technology of choice for much of the rest of the world. Even uber-green nations, like Germany and Sweden, have reversed plans to phase out nuclear power as they have begun to reconcile their energy needs with their climate commitments.

Eleventh, we will need to embrace again the role of the state as a direct provider of public goods. The modern environmental movement, borne of the new left rejection of social authority of all sorts, has embraced the notion of state regulation and even creation of private markets while largely rejecting the generative role of the state. In the modern environmental imagination, government promotion of technology – whether nuclear power, the green revolution, synfuels, or ethanol – almost always ends badly.

Never mind that virtually the entire history of American industrialization and technological innovation is the story of government investments in the development and commercialization of new technologies. Think of a transformative technology over the last century – computers, the Internet, pharmaceutical drugs, jet turbines, cellular telephones, nuclear power – and what you will find is government investing in those technologies at a scale that private firms simply cannot replicate.

Twelveth, big is beautiful. The rising economies of the developing world will continue to develop whether we want them to or not. The solution to the ecological crises wrought by modernity, technology, and progress will be more modernity, technology, and progress. The solutions to the ecological challenges faced by a planet of 6 billion going on 9 billion will not be decentralized energy technologies like solar panels, small scale organic agriculture, and a drawing of unenforceable boundaries around what remains of our ecological inheritance, be it the rainforests of the Amazon or the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Rather, these solutions will be: large central station power technologies that can meet the energy needs of billions of people increasingly living in the dense mega-cities of the global south without emitting carbon dioxide, further intensification of industrial scale agriculture to meet the nutritional needs of a population that is not only growing but eating higher up the food chain, and a whole suite of new agricultural, desalinization and other technologies for gardening planet Earth that might allow us not only to pull back from forests and other threatened ecosystems but also to create new ones.

Is there anything here that people on both sides of the climate debate can agree on?  I suspect that there is.

456 responses to “Long Death(?) of Environmentalism

  1. “First… This is not because the evidence for anthropogenic warming will become weaker. It will in fact become stronger. ”

    “in fact”? So much for facts. Merely wishful speculation. I suppose they may have a super-duper model that predicts that…

    “Eleventh, we will need to embrace again the role of the state as a direct provider of public goods. The modern environmental movement, borne of the new left rejection of social authority of all sorts, has embraced the notion of state regulation and even creation of private markets while largely rejecting the generative role of the state.”

    This one is utter nonsense… or perhaps doublethink. The AGW gang loves Big Brother. That underlies everything these social engineers do. That is why they are called Watermelons.

    One thing I do fully agree with here is the need to develop nuclear power.

    • Kent Draper

      “One thing I do fully agree with here is the need to develop nuclear power.”

      I think the only one I agree with totally on this list is #10.

      These folks are silly to think that the state invented everything good. Sorry, folks like Jobs and Gates may have used the state, but mostly had to fight it to keep their money. If #11 were reversed entirely, that may help. Just get the state out of the way.

      • Alexander Harvey


        I am no historian but I think that the government’s role started very early on with the financing a centre of excellence in the form of an electronics and radio lab, largely to deal with perceived threats in the earliest days of the Cold War. That lab attracted much of the best and the brightest which would have otherwise have gone to the East Coast.

        Out of this came the building blocks (and chips) that made it all possible but the governemtn did not build them up. So it is a mixture of state and private enterprise.

      • Kent Draper

        Didn’t mean to imply that the government was not needed in some instances. When you have to throw alot of money at something and don’t care what the costs are or how much labor you need, they come in handy. Like the “Manhatten Project”. Look though at the IPCC, classic government overkill and corruption. It’s inbred in most governments IMHO.

      • Alexander Harvey

        For what its worth here is a video link to a personal view of the rise of Silicon Valley and the Stanford Electronics Research Lab presented by Steve Blank:

      • Government as a customer was critical for integrated circuit development. The shift from vacuum tubes (used in munitions in WW2) to transistors (also used in munitions, replacing vacuum tubes) saved a lot of weight and space in missiles. Then came the printed circuit board, another space saver. TI and Fairchild both were making a lot of defense electronics. Further miniaturization and integration would save weight, space, and allow less expensive manufacturing. Interestingly, Noyce and Kilby seemed to remain true to who they were – Noyce was a great cheerleader for engineering and science; Kilby was a tall, gregarious cowboy.

      • It started much earlier. Read Neil Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon. Government investment in the mathematics and mathematicians needed for encryption/decryption and computers to accomplish it was a major boost to computer technology, software and hardware.

      • Yes, I don’t think they meant provision as in a state monopoly, soviet style. I think the key phrase is “government promotion of technology “. So long as this didn’t mean direct subsidies I could support it. Corporate benefits through the tax system is probably the best way of stimulating private interest in new technologies. Nothing like the scent of profit to get things moving!

      • Jeffrey Davis

        You misquote/misunderstand what #11 said.

        First, “a provider “. Not “the provider”.
        Second, the point is that government does provide for the common good. It isn’t “the problem.”

        For many things the state isn’t only “a” provider, it’s also the best provider.

      • Latimer Alder

        Defence/war, police, criminal justice.

        Is there anything else, ever in the history of humanity, where the state has been shown to be the ‘best’ provider?

        Because from my perspective there is no idea so good that the combination of politicians and ‘civil servants’ can’t ‘mess it up beyond all recognition’ (FUBAR). And do.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Ah, Reaganism.

        It will destroy us all.

      • Latimer Alder

        Well – you had 8 years of it and no such destruction occurred.

        And as he is unlikely to return as president, being brown bread, I think we can safely say that the evidence does not back up your point.

        But have you any substantive answer to my question?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Reagan’s term began our infatuation with insane economics.

        The effect of the repeal of Glass-Steagall, Reganism’s latest bouquet, must have eluded your hawk-like attention.

        Which is odd because it was in all the papers. Even blogs have mentioned it.

      • Bill Clinton signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Are you saying he was coerced somehow by ‘Reaganism’? Do you suppose gov’t first “encouraging” (read: threatening) banks to loan to people not qualified to pay had something to do with it? How about those quasi-gov’t organizations like Freddie and Fannie loaning to anyone with a pulse?
        Lest I be misjudged, it’s clear to me that no party has a lock on responsibility for these horrendous practices, but one thing they all have in common is “they were from the government, and they were here to help.”

      • Latimer Alder

        Sadly the repeal of Glass Seagull, whatever it is, did not hit the top of the newspapers in UK.

      • Latimer Alder

        Still no answer. Jeff isn’t good at explaining how he arrived at his conclusions. He just knows he’s right and that is enough for him.

      • The value of the loans themselves were around 3% of the losses of the collapse. Pinning the reason for our current straits on the mortgages is mote and beam stuff.

      • Jeffrey Davis


        I specifically said “Reaganism” and not a party name.

      • Jeffrey,
        Me too. Can I surmise the answer to my first question is “yes”?
        On the one hand gov’t was repealing G-S, and at the same time whole-heartedly “supporting” loans to people who should never have qualified.
        The solution, imho, would have been to keep gov’t out of the loan business back in the 70s. The repeal of G-S was the gun, not the killer. If it wasn’t the repeal that triggered the financial meltdown, then something else would have done it – giving out bad loans was (and is) unsustainable.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Ken, the loans could have been taken out back behind the banks and burned with scant effect. After the loans were then made, the banks and investment houses then leveraged them up to 30-1 for derivatives and credit default swaps and the like. When the bonds turned to jelly, so did the mountain of financial instruments they were based on.

        Glass-Steagall had prohibited commercial banks from engaging in that kind of activity. With the demise of Glass-Steagall and the partnership model for investment banking, our gooses were cooked. There was no institutional barrier to recklessness.

      • Jeffrey,
        I agree with your first statement. I almost replied with a similar idea. If G-S had not been repealed then we could have continued making horrendous loans until…? The banks knew this stuff was crap and they would have found a way to get rid of it, one way or another. They aren’t stupid – they knew that at the end of the day the Government would be there to “help” again if it came down to it.

        If you truly believe the house of cards wouldn’t have come tumbling down eventually then we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

        A better solution, again imho, would have been to keep gov’t out of the loan business *and* repeal G-S. If there were no toxic assets to bundle this would not have happened either.
        The bubble, and the toxic assets, would not have possible without government “help”, starting in the 70s and prospering enormously through both D and R administrations.

        Imagine a world where the banks were responsible for their own skins. Do you think they would have made the loans they did? Do you think they’d be buying complex financial instruments they supposedly couldn’t understand? I don’t.

      • “Imagine a world where the banks were responsible for their own skins. Do you think they would have made the loans they did? ”

        I mentioned the collapse of the partnership model for investment banking.

        Glass-Steagall kept the two worlds apart. Once, the partnership model for investment banks disappeared and the wall between the two kinds of banks was destroyed, we were pretty much doomed.

      • Jeffrey, The banks and quasi-govt agencies were making these loans waaay before GS was repealed. That’s when our gooses were cooked. Without these loan practices, that were essentially forced on these companies by government, there wouldn’t have been any toxic assets to bundle. The banks and quasi-govt organizations knew that government was culpable for their failure as much as they were, and they knew they would be bailed out. Granted, one or two were shocked to discover they had misplayed their hands, but those were the exceptions and not the rule. We are *still* bailing out the gov’t mortgagers.

      • Kent– I suggest you need to learn more about modern nuclear power. I didn’t support it either until learning about 3rd and 4th generation conventional plants as well as thorium plants and their potential.

      • Thorium holds promise. I’m also hopeful about fusion-fission hybrids, which offer the double safety benefit of remaining deeply subcritical under all conditions and providing a way of dealing with nuclear waste.

        Since conventional fission reactors will need to be used for some time, the waste problem needs to be addressed.

    • The death of environmentalism is totally unnecessary. I am and will remain an environmentalist.

      But I do not condone using government science as a tool of government propaganda.

      That practice will cease when those responsible for misuse of government science candidly respond to questions before a Congressional committee or here, on Professor Curry’s blog.

      The root of the Climategate problem was finally identified on the last blog – Budget reviews of federal research agencies for the US Congress by the National Academy of Sciences and its President, Climatologist Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone.


      That is where government funds were channeled into research areas that would generate seemingly scientific evidence for the AGW story being preached by Al Gore, world leaders, the UN’s IPCC, etc.

      If the US Congress addresses the root of the problem quickly, then environmentalism may be preserved as a noble cause.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo

    • I also endorse the use of “nuclear power” because energy is stored against repulsive forces in the tiniest central volume of atoms, stars and galaxies.

      Many federal research agencies were established to protect science as a matter of national security, after the victor of WWII was decided in 1945 by the winner of the race to develop and use nuclear energy as a weapon.

      My research mentor, the late Professor Paul Kazuo Kuroda, was at the Imperial University of Tokyo where Japanese efforts to build the atomic bomb were directed.


      Let’s hope Congress orders an immediate end to the politicalization of science so federal research agencies can return to their assignment: Protect the integrity of science as a matter of national security.

  2. Well, the poor folks at TBI are going to catch heck from both sides for this. Almost all of what they say is so obviously correct that people should just mark it up with a highlighter and start using it. But it offends sacred cows on both sides, and protagonists will seize on the points of disagreement.

    Joe Romm will pronounce a fatwa.

    • Alexander Harvey

      Maybe one day, the people who just could not get over themselves will be first against the wall if their most dire predictions come to pass.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        What a strange thing to think.

      • I certainly hope no one ends up “against the wall.” But if the most dire predictions do come to pass, who do you think will be more the targets of public ire: those who sounded the alarm, or those who insisted we needed to wait until it was too late?

    • Read the whole article – what an indictement of the green movement from two of their own. Joe Romm won’t pronounce a fatwa, he’ll probably keel over in shock!

      • Latimer Alder

        Its a great article.


        The Death of Environmentalism = Suicide by Arrogance


        I just love the sound of Schadenfreude in the morning.

  3. ““First… This is not because the evidence for anthropogenic warming will become weaker. It will in fact become stronger. ”

    Ok, so the guy up here has a machine to look further into the future that we mere mortals don’t have. I think it’s high time for a FOIA into this chap’s documents. We could be mere steps away from time travel.

  4. I don’t have a problem with any of it, really, except for the fact that it is hopelessly vague. “Invent wonderful technologies which will cheaply support 9 billion people at the level of the developed world while reducing carbon emissions” is not a plan. It’s a great plot for a movie, maybe.

    • I think there has already been a fair bit of development on technologies which can reduce reliance on coal, oil and gas. Nuclear fusion is the most obvious example, although this will be too late for those who believe that global warming inevitably leads to ecolological catastrophe.

      In any case, catastrophe or no, we’re going to find out because there is absolutely no chance of the World controlling CO2 emissions. Take Europe for example: the E.U. likes to extol the virtues of its ETS, whilst conveniently forgetting that its emissions increases have merely been ‘exported’ to third world countries.

      • whilst conveniently forgetting that its emissions increases have merely been ‘exported’ to third world countries.

        BMW is building it’s carbon fiber plant in Washington State, we may be a bit backward but we aren’t third world :)

      • Latimer Alder

        Carbon is bad. Fibres (like asbestos) are bad.

        A carbon fibre plant must be bad squared! It must be closed immediately. Why hasn’t Hansen done something about it already?


        If you think that carbon dioxide is the same as carbon, your education has failed you totally. Try reading a little chemistry before you bash chemicals you don’t know anything about.

      • Latimer Alder

        Thanks. I have a Masters in Chemistry.

        I also do irony.

      • Thickest skull on the site, hands down.

    • It’s a goal-oriented proposition to take the place of the failed prescription-based proposition. It likely will also become a screenplay at some point, but that is an aside :)

  5. If you can’t make everyone happy, try to make sure everyone is equally dissatisfied. Then you may have made the fair decision.

  6. John Carpenter

    I have been arguing the point of #3 to my colleagues since the beginning of the Iraq war. If we truly want to change our energy policies here in the USA, environmentalism is not the platform that the masses are going to climb on. National security and energy independence is a much better way to get people to come together as most would not argue against it. Nuclear power is the only real solution to provide the massive amounts of energy our society requires to move.

    • I agree that nuclear must be part of the solution. Fossil fuels, however, must also play a large part since it is becoming apparent that new extraction technology (gas and oil from shale and gas from tight rock) will open up mega BTUs of energy to commercialization. It is estimated that new gas-from-shale technology creates two quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, more BTUs of energy that it is thought Saudi Arabia has with its oil reserves. Similar technology may be able to unlock oil from shale and ExxonMobil has been workingon technology to unlock gas from tight rock. Where government can be helpful is working with industry to make sure these technologies are environmentally friendly in all respects. To impede their development because of unprovable climate concerns is to deny millions of people high paying jobs, and states and localities, and the federal government, billions of dollars in lease and royalty payments, and individual and corporate taxes from an economic activity that is wealth accretive, rather that wealth destructive, as many of the current alternate energy alternatives are currently.

      • John Carpenter

        Yes, absolutely to natural gas. This alone could make us independent, however I think it is some time away to develop efficient extraction technologies. There is no real technology threshold for nuclear, we know how to do that already and it could be done relatively quickly.

      • Ron, you are seeing this scenario up here in the great white north. Harper is a master at saying yes to the enviros, yet being pragmatic when it comes to jobs and taxes. If the oil sands were to be shut down, Canada would not be the strongest economy of the G8 at this point.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      There are several issues which point to the necessity of developing local energy sources: AGW, Peak Oil, trade imbalances, and involvement in the local politics of unstable areas of the world. All scream out: LOCAL ENERGY.

      Instead, Congress ditches local energy and involves us more and more in the interests of carbon-wights and foreign states.

  7. The End is FAR

    1st. I’d like to see a Detailed Explanation of the GHE. I’ve been searching for one for the last decade and the best I have found is that ” it acts like a Greenhouse, but of course it is not a greenhouse, it is complicated”

    The idea that a sound Theory is based upon something that cannot be explained is quite simply absurd. The evidence for ACC will have to get stronger starting by explaining how a reduction in emissitivity (trapped radiation) prevents Convection from moving the ‘trapped’ radiation from the surface at 15 C to the Tropopause at -56 C.

    2nd. You need to Provide all your Methods to the Skeptics for a Critical Review. You are not scaring anyone but your base of Parrots. We’re not scared, we’re tired of hearing your myrmidons mouth off about subjects they can barely spell. Yes, we are concerned about fixing something that is not broke, so providing ‘new remedies’ will only fix it until it is broke. No more ‘Climate Science’, I want a physicist to step up to the plate and Explain the GHE and how it prevents Convection.

    3rd. You do not end a supply of energy PRIOR to coming up with a new one. How about fixing Social Security by stopping all the checks before you replace it with something else. You think hell has broke loose to date? Just wait until gas it $6-8 per gallon. The American Revolution was planned by those seeking Liberty. The French Revolution was a spontaneous mob with MOST scientists losing their heads. What kind of Revolution so you think we’ll have it it comes to one? Who should be scared?

    4th. :) You need to stop imagining that you will solve Global Warming :) If Convection and Evaporation can’t do it, then you and an army of do-gooders have no chance.

    5th. True, you have to stop treating it as if it is a problem. We need to be treating ‘traditional’ pollution problems instead.

    6th. The fact that Carbon is now being traded should raise plenty of alarms. I found it quite humorous that Dr. Curry said she would provide a rebuttal to the GHE falsification, but did not. BTW – Is there such a thing as a AGW or ACC Theory? A real Theory that can be tested?

    7th. Read the Rational Optimist. Oil has been ‘going dry’ for 2 centuries and someone proclaims it again about every 30 years. If you actually get the carbon trading entrenched, you will most certainly see a French style Revolution.

    8th. Stop using Macro Economics. Macro is the attempt to COERCE an outcome rather than Predict one as in Micro. Again, Carbon Credits are really bad for the Rich, those in Power (Gov’t ), and Academia. The mob will take out all their pain on those people first. If history repeats itself . . .

    9th. Again, you are providing remedies for something that is not broken. if you don’t like Fossil Fuels then help out with Helium-3 Fusion and getting the Fuel readily.

    10th. You are going to have to get over yourself. First, explain the GHE and how it gets past the cooling effect of Convection without a Global Greenhouse.

    11th. Too bad. The State is not a Provider of Public Goods. It is a Service Provider that is Provided for by TAX PAYERS.

    12th. Smaller is Beautiful. Having many small Economies that are groomed and cared for by Locals will supplant Globalism.

    • Kent Draper

      “The idea that a sound Theory is based upon something that cannot be explained is quite simply absurd”
      I agree, also. It’s a lot like the “Trinity”. It’s there, but it’s unknowable :)… You just have to take it on faith :)…. A lot of AGW is like that.

      • The End is FAR

        AGW addresses the Effects and simply alludes to the Cause. These ‘climatologists’ (Tier 1 in Curry’s epistemology) can’t explain the underlying cause, the GHE, and only get angry and upset that anyone dare question them. They are after all Tier 1!

        You’re correct, they have become a Church without a Religion. They are Authority, and damn the Laws of Physics. Peer Review and Consensus has replaced the Scientific Method, a scientist’s true Religion.

        So many of these ‘studies’ have not been truly tested and most simply say they ‘almost’ or Highly Likely are correct and when these studies are used by others as a foundation for their new ‘study’ you just end up with a deeply nested loop of Almost conclusions. It only takes two ‘Almosts’ to miss the target completely.

        My own faith in climatology and indeed scientists in general has been shattered by AGW. How the scientific community has not condemned these false scientists for making a mockery of their profession is beyond me.

        It is truly amazing to me that Dr. Curry can advocate for ACC yet at the same time not be able to describe the GHE when she is the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences for GT. How does this occur?

        Sorry Dr. Curry, but your epistemology is little better than bunk. I am nearly certain that once Convection is properly included with the GHE, we will see that trapping 2W/m^2 at the surface along with the Billions of joules required to bring a cubic meter of water/earth/vegetation up to 14 C , we will finally determine that AGW/ACC has been a very expensive Piltdown Man.

      • The End is Far:
        I am as skeptical as anyone, but the GHE theory is clear science and I believe that there are other aspects of the climate that you would find more fruitful to contest. These include the magnitude of the effect that CO2 has on the real-world climate and natural variability. Read the many posts on this blog for the explanation for the GHE. You undermine the skeptical cause by going off down this cul de sac IMHO.

      • The End is FAR

        Here’s my biggest problem with the GHE, it ONLY describes the act of ‘trapping’ Radiation, it DOES NOT include Convection or Evaporation.

        One could very well expect an object’s temperature to rise if its Radiation Rate is decreased (aka reducing its emissitivity) by ‘trapping’ Radiation, in a vacuum. However, the Earth has TWO means to transfer energy away from the planet between the surface and the Tropopause. This is quite important to understand.

        Convection is a far more efficient means of transferring energy than Radiation, within the same system of course. If you ‘trap’ Radiation via a GHE or some other means, then Convection, being the MAIN medium for transferring energy between the surface and Tropopause, will quickly pick up where emissitivity dropped off. Entropy demands it.

        Our atmosphere, indeed all atmospheres are very elastic and expand and contract when energy is added or reduced from V=nRT/P. You can see this by examining the altitude of the Tropopause at the Poles and at the Equator. This too is a variable that the GHE does not take into account. If the atmosphere’s volume was static, then we would have something more like a greenhouse, but it is not.

        Sorry but the GHE is into even close to being clear. Dr. Curry admitted as much in the Physics of the Atmospheric Greenhouse(?) Thread on Nov 30th stating “But a good mechanistic explanation of the physical processes occurring seems absent”. ‘Seems’ absent without and explanation ‘is’ absent.

        This is THE most significant issue. Again, once you include Convection and Evaporation, both very efficient at cooling the Surface, it is soon discovered that ‘trapping’ 2W/m^2 along with the Billions of joules per meter squared at the surface, we see that Convection and Evaporation easily replace Radiation as a means of transfer.

        Perhaps you can direct me to an explanation of the GHE you found complete?

      • Perhaps you can direct me to an explanation of the GHE you found complete?
        That explanation would interest me also.

      • The End is FAR

        If I come across one I’ll let everyone know, but until then (holding one’s breath would be a mistake), does it make sense that if there is a reduction in emissitivity by ‘trapping’ Radiation, that Convection and Evaporation will quickly, if not instantly, provide another means of energy transfer?

        I quote trapping because ‘trapping’ Radiation is quite impossible, it moves at 300 Million meters per second and all objects above 0 Kelvin radiate. One can slow the Radiation rate, primarily by reducing the objects temp or secondarily making it reflective, but if you attempt to slow the Radiation Rate while increasing the Temp, you will find it difficult. First the higher the temp of an object the faster the Radiation Rate and if you make it shiny/reflective then you reduce it absorption rate.

        Add a second more efficient means of energy transfer such as Conduction or Convection, and the Radiation Rate drops significantly, given that Entropy will favor the most efficient.

        The GHE should be renamed the EE, or Emissitivity Effect. It does after all have to do with reducing the Radiation Rate, not the Convection Rate as a Greenhouse functions.

        In any event, while the AGW Advocates will say this is a Dead Horse and I’m kicking it, I can see great deal of life in it and it is worth poking at it. IMHUnderstanding the AGW Argument is a cul-de-sac where there is no choice but to go around in circles precisely because it is attempting to Skip an explanation.

      • TEIF
        I think we agree. You are not contesting the theory of the GHE only how it is applied to the climate. I agree that there are other atmospheric processes that are important and that are not well understood.

    • BRAVO! Well done.

    • Wow. Bookmarking and archiving your contribution!! And attaching one of my favorites, as it applies to the EPA.

      I know, my friends, that you are concerned about corporate power. So am I. So are many of my free-market economist colleagues. We simply believe, and we think history is on our side, that the best check against corporate power is the competitive marketplace and the power of the consumer dollar (framed, of course, by legal prohibitions on force and fraud). Competition plays mean, nasty corporations off against each other in a contest to serve us. Yes, they still have power, but its negative effects are lessened. It is when corporations can use the state to rig the rules in their favor that the negative effects of their power become magnified, precisely because it has the force of the state behind it. The current mess shows this as well as anything ever has, once you realize just what a large role the state played. If you really want to reduce the power of corporations, don’t give them access to the state by expanding the state’s regulatory powers. That’s precisely what they want, as the current battle over the $700 billion booty amply demonstrates.
      This is why so many of us committed to free markets oppose the bailout. It is yet another example of the long history of the private sector attempting to enrich itself via the state. When it does so, there are no benefits to the rest of us, unlike what happens when firms try to get rich in a competitive market. Moreover, these same firms benefited enormously from the regulatory interventions they supported and that harmed so many of us. The eventual bursting of the bubble and their subsequent losses are, to many of us, their just desserts for rigging the game and eventually getting caught. To reward them again for their rigging of the game is not just morally unconscionable, it is very bad economic policy, given that it sends a message to other would-be riggers that they too will get rewarded for wreaking havoc on the US economy. There will be short-term pain if we don’t bailout these firms, but that is the hangover price we pay for 15 years or more of binge lending. The proposed bailout cannot prevent the pain of the hangover; it can only conceal it by shifting and dispersing it among the taxpayers and an economy weakened by the borrowing, taxing, and/or inflation needed to pay for that $700 billion. Better we should take our short-term pain straight up and clean out the mistakes of our binge and then get back to the business of free markets without creating an unchecked Executive branch monstrosity trying to “save” those who profited most from the binge and harming innocent taxpayers in the process.
      What I ask of you my friends on the left is to not only continue to work with us to oppose this or any similar bailout, but to consider carefully whether you really want to entrust the same entity who is the predominant cause of this crisis with the power to attempt to cure it. New regulatory powers may look like the solution, but that’s what people said when the CRA was passed, or when Fannie and Freddie were given new mandates. And the very firms who are going to be regulated will be first in line to determine how those regulations get written and enforced. You can bet which way that game is going to get rigged.
      I know you are tempted to think that the problems with these regulations are the fault of the individuals doing the regulating. If only, you think, Obama can win and we can clean out the corrupt Republicans and put ethical, well-meaning folks in place. Think again. For one thing, almost every government intervention at the root of this crisis took place with a Democratic president or a Democratic-controlled Congress in place. Even when the Republicans controlled Congress, President Clinton worked around it to change the rules to allow Fannie and Freddie into the higher-risk loan market. My point here is not to pin the blame for the current crisis on the Democrats. That blame goes around equally. My point is that hoping that having the “right people” in power will avoid these problems is both naive and historically blind. As much as corporate interests were relevant, they were aided and abetted, if unintentionally, by well-meaning attempts by basically good people to do good things. The problem is that there were a large number of undesirable unintended consequences, most of which were predictable and predicted. It doesn’t matter which party is captaining the ship: regulations come with unintended consequences and will always tend to be captured by the private interests with the most at stake. And history is full of cases where those with a moral or ideological agenda find themselves in political fellowship with those whose material interests are on the line, even if the two groups are usually on opposite sides.
      – Professor Steven G. Horwitz, writing in late September 2008, in a piece entitled An Open Letter to my Friends on the Left.

      • A good expansion of von Mises observation:

        “If one rejects laissez faire on account of man’s fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action.” “Manufacturing and commercial monopolies owe their origin not to a tendency imminent in a capitalist economy but to governmental interventionist policy directed against free trade and laissez faire.” Ludwig von Mises – Austrian Economist 1881 – 1973

        For “monopolies” substitute abuse of power and expropriation of the pool of Public Goods, and you have the current Devil’s Compact between Government, Greens, and Global Corporations.

      • The End is FAR

        Thanks Kate,

        Do you also find it a bit fascinating that those who favor Macro Economics/Politics also favor a GHE that does not include Convection and Evaporation ‘competing’ for the opportunity to cool the Earth’s surface.

        Sure the GHE can do all kinds of damage if it had some Monopoly on cooling, however just as Micro Economics abhors Monopolies, so does Nature.

        Find a person who favors Keynes and you will most likely find an AGW Believer. Those who favor Smith/Mises/Hayek typically are AGW Skeptics. Not at all surprising if yo think of it. Micro attempts to ‘Predict’ the outcome of countless variable inputs and outputs based upon a set of Laws, where Macro attempts to Coerce the outcome of a defined set of inputs and outputs by heavily leaning on a few select Laws. One is working with Nature, the other is bending it.

        You can find more at http://endisfar.com

      • I dig the random Capitalization of random Words in your comments. Very 18th century, &c.

      • The End is FAR

        Not as random as it may appear, I use Capitalization in my notes as well to emphasize Key words. ‘Quoting’ is another function to do the same.

        Curious, I’m new here and while I could look up your comments and make a calculation on your position, may I simply ask if you are an Advocate or Skeptic regarding AGW/ACC? And on the side topic, do you favor Keynes or Adam Smith?

        Does my understanding of Entropy and energy having more than one path to the Tropopause hold water?

      • The End is FAR

        Nevermind, AGW Advocate and obviously a Keynesian if you don’t think Cap and ‘Anything’ wouldn’t have a marginal effect on the economy. Uncanny how often the Keynesian/AGW model fits.

        Not meant as an insult, just a truism.

      • you don’t think Cap and ‘Anything’ wouldn’t have a marginal effect on the economy.

        I said nothing of the sort: my comment had to do with its effect on climate.

        As far as my views and opinions go, I posted on the Denizens thread and recommend you go there if you are really curious. In brief, though: I am neither an advocate nor a skeptic, and I think economics is largely a pseudoscience. I’m interested in the nascent “complexity school,” though, which describes the economy as a dynamic system.

      • I also find a clear distinction between readers of science fiction and readers of historical or other fiction.

        Marxist Utopianism has been an influential ingredient in decades of science fiction. A steady diet of it would produce a disconnect with reality.

      • I know!

        What’s with all the utopian sterility and the Star Trek pressed uniforms?

        Humans become robots in the future.

  8. Alexander Harvey

    “Is there anything here that people on both sides of the climate debate can agree on? I suspect that there is.”

    I hope so, but …

    The trick is not to agree with all of it, or at any rate to pretend it is a solution, but to see it as a piece of a puzzle. Unfortunately the picture on the puzzle is not a pretty one. I do not know of any proposed puzzle picture for the 21st Century that is going to be pretty if one looks up close. The 20th Century wasn’t very pretty either but it was not the worst of centuries and perhaps the best, for those that were not to die ingloriously.

    Environmental thinking is a wonderful thing but the practice needs be contained to the art of the possible.

    21st Century futures, like the previous century’s, are plagued with ideological stances which so recently lead to the worst of excesses.

    It seems odd to me that the process of adapting to the present and future challenges are meet with such inability for ideological adaption. What we need are more people who can brave criticism and change their view and action based on base practicality. I would back people for whom I have little in common, provided that they are adding to a solution. If they choose to do things besed on what I must see as being all the wrong reasons in support of a loathsome ideology that is fine if they are doing something of value, I couldn’t give a fig if they get their inspiration from Ayn Rand, Karl Marx, Stewart Brand, Amory Lovins, or the authors of the essay above. We won’t judge players by their creed, in fact we will probably not even remember who they were.


    • Do you mean you wish people were “literate” in the true sense of the word? As in – being able to take an idea and investigate it, compare it, validate it somewhere besides Wikipedia? Talk to others? Ask questions?

      As a public school teacher I have seen global warming taught with religious fervor. There are still high schools requiring the viewing of “An Inconvenient Truth.” Textbooks and trade books all tow the line. American children are frightened on a regular basis with tales of catastrophe, especially in metro areas. Fortunately they laugh it off. Unfortunately, they do not take the danger seriously.

      Our girls Shewonk and Holly here are prime examples. I’ll be they had devout teacher(s). And really, their own motivation is to do “something good.” (As opposed to the rest of us who are Not.)

      • Alexander Harvey


        I believe in individuality and the individual, and I think that it is a challenging belief system. More so I am an ideoclast, I find all ideologies repugnant. I support selfish passions but abhor mindless communial fomentings.

        I have my politics, to that I feel entitled, but I do not hold them to be universal. I also find them to be amusing and delusional.

        I accept we do well to equip the young to best tollerate the world we have made for them, I would have thought that must be frightening enough without recourse to spectral horror. I must think that teaching is a moral minefield, never so more when there is so much of which to make the young aware without implying solutions.

        So I support public education when it draws out inate wisdom, and offers knowledge, but I oppose the instillation of truth. Of course I support literacy, but not just in its enabling of thought but in the development of style, an attribute which was once the mark of individuality, not something to be followed.

        I baulk at the imposition of a mandate to protect an environment, but by all means show them the wider environment and pose the question of what must be done for it. Doing the right thing for their future is their concern and its essense and required action is something they must decide upon, let them have their own crazy ideas and spare them ours.

  9. …we need to stop trying to scare the pants off of the American public. Doing so has demonstrably backfired.

    Agree completely.

    Also some should stop calling the gas that we breathe out and plants breath in is a pollutant. It is very personal.

    • Alexander Harvey

      I would say that by 2050, the USofA will have been more part of the “solution” to AGW than part of the problem. This would be no great feat being just the way the trends are running with each country trying to meet its needs.

  10. I’m rather stunned by the honesty and unblinkered vision in this document. Sure, there are parts I could criticize, but overall, bravo!

    Speaking for myself as a skeptic, if I heard a lot more climate scientists and climate change advocates speaking this sensibly, I would be a lot less skeptical of the rest of their claims.

    I suspect though, as Tom Fuller says above, that the authors will be caught in crossfire between both sides, at least at first.

    One of the main reasons I read this blog is to see whether climate change advocates are capable of self-criticism and finding their way out of the various holes they have dug themselves into. Aside from Dr. Curry’s efforts and Stewart Brand’s embrace of cities and nuclear power, the answer has almost entirely been negative.

    This LDE paper is a big step forward. I look forward with fingers crossed to see whether others will build upon it.

    • In the interests of keeping the post reasonably short, Judith missed out a great deal of this paper and concentrated on the recommendations. I urge readers to go to the link and read the whole thing. It is the most damning analysis of the environmental movement’s failed efforts over the last 30 years and it is written by Greens…who I suspect will shortly be branded heretics by their peers. It should be compulsory reading for our green denizens at Climate etc in the hope it may make them pause for sensible reflection. A damning indictment from two of their own. Go and have a look.

  11. You had me at “First, more, better, or louder climate science will not drive the transformation of the global energy economy.”

    You lost me at “Eleventh, we will need to embrace again the role of the state as a direct provider of public goods.”

    Probably the only thing most will be able to agree on is the eventual development of nuclear power. Although those on the left will not support it until it become politically inevitable (ala welfare reform). Anti-nuke hysteria has been mainstream progressive politics in the U.S. for too long for it to be given up so easily. (The energy commissars in the EPA will have to be purged before anything can be done on that front.)

    • GaryM

      You lost me at “Eleventh, we will need to embrace again the role of the state as a direct provider of public goods.”

      Probably the only thing most will be able to agree on is the eventual development of nuclear power.

      Ignoring the considerable extent to which “the state” was indispensable in contributing to the current state of nuclear power – do you really think that nuclear power will become significantly more developed without the involvement of “the state?” The private sector will not go while hog on nuclear power unless taxpayers underwrite the risks.

      • No – the private sector will move on nuclear when the government stops enabling the enviros obstructionism. Specifically by enacting tort reform and making them pay for the endless series of frivolous lawsuits that accompany every attempt to build a nuclear plant.

      • Government, in conjunction with so called environmentalists, is the only reason private industry has not already significantly expanded nuclear power generating capacity in the U.S The risks are no greater here than in Japan or France. But environmental regulations effectively killed the development of nuclear power here for decades.

        Some selected quotes from a web page of the US Energy Information Agency on nuclear power:

        “The last nuclear plant to be completed went on line in 1996. A few, perhaps four, construction licenses are still valid or are being renewed for half-completed reactors, but there are no active plans to finish these reactors.”

        “The nuclear power industry presently has no commitments to build new reactors.”

        (And in a masterwork of understatement) “There has been a history of regulatory uncertainty. The extreme case is the Shoreham plant on Long Island that was essentially completed before it was decided that it would not be allowed to operate.” (Those damn risk adverse capitalists.)


        The private sector will “go whole hog” on nuclear power in about 2 1/2 years, after (hopefully) the election of a conservative congress and president, and their putting a leash on the EPA.

        The permit process, environmental impact statement requirements, creation of spurious “national monuments” and overall regulatory regime giving activists the power to sue to prevent construction, were all designed by very talented progressive lawyers to strangle the nuclear power industry (not to mention hydro, as well as oil and gas exploration and extraction, etc.).

        The more interesting question is whether liberal environmentalists will hold their noses and vote for politicians who will actually allow development of those resources. Or is their liberalism more important to them than their desire to take a shot at real development of existing alternatives to coal fired power plants. Either way, it will be fun to watch.

      • Gary –

        Are you unaware of the massive state subsidies for nuclear power in the U.S.? (Tens of billions).

        Are you unaware of the massive state subsides for nuclear power in France, and Japan?

        Do you seriously think that the private sector is going to come up with the $8 – $10 billion it takes to build a nuclear reactor without government subsidization and government underwriting – particularly given the high costs relative to the costs of producing energy by other means and the huge liabilities for nuclear waste disposal?

        Do you not realize the amount of government-funded research that went into the development of nuclear power?

        Do you seriously think that the American public is going to allow massive shifting towards nuclear power without relying on government Department of Energy regulation?

      • Rent seeking by corporatists is nothing new. But the subsidies for nuclear power have been dwarfed by the excess costs of regulation and environmental litigation. The subsidies in the past were also necessitated by that governmental interference. Getting government participation was a way of giving politicians a reason to not kill the project. Think of the tobacco industry and how it suddenly stopped being demonized by politicians once they got to share in the profits (through the tobacco settlement).

        First, there is no way to know what a new plant would cost if conservatives clear some of the environmental blockage that severely (and intentionally) inflate costs. But assuming your guess is in the ball park, will entrepreneurs invest 8-10 billion dollars without government subsidies? It happens all the time. Get the government’s and environmentalist’s boots off the neck of the industry and stand back and watch.

        Here are a number of slightly larger investments made by capitalists without government participation.


        And here is one investment fund alone that aggregated over $2 billion last year for investment in energy properties.

        As far as the voters allowing development of nuclear power “without relying on government Department of Energy regulation,” that is not something that anyone, anywhere, ever, has proposed. The question is whether regulations designed to kill the industry (and the regulators who created them) can be removed.

      • Gary

        But the subsidies for nuclear power have been dwarfed by the excess costs of regulation and environmental litigation.

        How do you determine how much of those costs are “excess” and how much of them aren’t? If you’re not suggesting that voters will allow the development and dissemination of nuclear power be regulation free, where do you peg which of the associated costs would or would not be excess? Only once you’ve one that can you determine what “dwarfs” what.

        Your first link was to large mergers. Investing in entities which start bringing a return on your investment on day one is hardly the same thing as massive investing (what would you prefer, $4 or $6 billion?) in startup fixed costs for a new venture where: (1) there is no guarantee, given the rate of new development technologies, your huge investment would be in an entity that remained profitable long enough to pay for itself, (2) assuming regulatory oversight of some sort – no matter if it were on the low end of the scale as you’d like – the liability risks would still be huge. Do you suppose that the BP spill is likely to incline the American public towards the belief that private sector entities should not be held accountable for corporate incompetence (giving the benefit of the doubt) for the outcomes of disastrous events? Keep in mind that in Japan – which has a long-standing national strategic plan to develop nuclear energy (with massive government investment) – after a series of accidents in the 1990’s there was a lot of public concern which affected the cancellation of plans to build a number of plants. Also note that after those accidents, regulation and restrictions increased.

        The second link was to an fund for investing in already existing entities or in new entities which would not have such a huge lag between investment in startup fixed costs and the beginning of a return on investment.

        There really is a reason why nuclear power plants all over the world have been done with governmental underwriting. You do realize that in France, the country often pointed to as an example of smartly using nuclear energy on a large scale, nuclear energy is nationalized?

        And would you care to estimate how much of the research that developed nuclear power was underwritten by the state?

        There are large investments, currently, being made by companies such as Mitsubishi and GE in the development of nuclear power – but they are doing so with the intention of contracting with a state buyer. I think it unrealistic to think that our future holds a large scale shift to nuclear energy without private/public sector partnership.

      • Do you seriously think that the private sector is going to come up with the $8 – $10 billion it takes to build a nuclear reactor without government subsidization and government underwriting – particularly given the high costs relative to the costs of producing energy by other means and the huge liabilities for nuclear waste disposal?

        Yup. Or at least they would if they didn’t have to deal with the huge number of lawsuits whose purpose is to cause massive construction delays and increase the cost prohibitively.

        As for cost, over the long term the price per unit for nuclear is about half or less than that of other energy sources. In addition, IIRC, there have been few deaths in the US related to commercial nuclear power facilities. There were three during 1961 at a government research installation, all due to mishandling of mechanical components, and 4 others (separate incidents) due to electrocution. Compare that to the large numbers of mining deaths and injuries over the last 50 years.

        Do you seriously think that the American public is going to allow massive shifting towards nuclear power without relying on government Department of Energy regulation?

        That regulation is already in place and nearly invisible to the public.

      • Joshua
        Would you support an increase in nuclear power? If not, why not?

      • Do you seriously think that the private sector is going to come up with the $8 – $10 billion it takes to build a nuclear reactor without government subsidization and government underwriting – particularly given the high costs relative to the costs of producing energy by other means and the huge liabilities for nuclear waste disposal?

        Hydro and nuclear are the cheapest electricity production methods.

      • There are 3 primary risks for nuclear power

        1) Regulatory – the government controls that risk
        2) Construction cost overruns – overruns are normal on 1st of a kind builds, subsequent builds the costs are known.
        3) Demand Risks

        New nuclear power builds pencil out vs new coal if coal is priced at or above $80/ton delivered, they can get a 5% loan and achieve an 80% utilization rate their 1st day of operation.

        The delivered price of steam coal on the eastern seaboard of the US is already at $80 ton. A 5% loan can be achieved with loan guarantees.
        The government only pays if the loan defaults.

        The big problem is ensuring an 80% utilization rate on day one.

        New nuclear doesn’t compete with a 40 year old payed for coal fired plant unless coal exceeds $120/ton. The old coal fired plant doesn’t have loan payments to make.

        In regulated electricity markets such as the US Southeast it’s a fairly easy process to schedule new nuclear to coincide with retiring coal.

        In unregulated markets such as the US Northeast it’s very difficult to schedule new nuclear with coal plant retirements. As long as the owners of the coal plants meet EPA regulations they are free to extend the life of their coal fired plants indefinitely.

      • Thanks for putting some numbers on that. Do you have a link?

      • It’s a whole lot of gobbley gook.

        Simple math –

        New nuke plants goes for about $6 billion/GW in the US.

        At 5% interest thats $300 million per year for financing. At 80% capacity it will produce 6.4 TWh/year. For a finance cost of 4.6 cents per KWh. Add another 1.4 cents per KWh for fuel and maintenance. Call it 6 cents/KWh.

        Steam coal has an average of 20 Million BTU’s/ton. At $80/ton that works out to a cost of $4 /MBtu which results in 100 KWh of electricity(3.4 BTU/watt x 30% efficiency). A fuel cost of 4 cents per KWh. At $120/ton the fuel cost is 6 cents/KWh.

        A new 1 GW coal fired plant with scrubbers for Soot,SO2 and all the rest goes for about $3 billion/GW. At 5% financing the annual interest payments are $150 million across the same 80% factor as the nuke plant. So a new coal plant costs 2.3 cents/KWh for financing. Add in a fuel cost of 4 cents and a new coal fired plant ends up with a total cost of 6.6 cents/KWh.

      • Harry – I suggest that issue # 1 directly causes much of issue #2. If government standardized nuclear plant designs and greatly reduced the ineffective and non-value added government delays, the cost would be significantly reduced

      • I think the chairman of Duke Power has stated he expected the cost of a Westinghouse AP 1000 to drop 30-35% .

        IIRC The reasoning behind the various incentives for nuclear power developers in the Energy Act of 2005 was to encourage someone to be the ‘go first’ customer for about a half dozen nuclear designs.

        The way nuclear licensing was revamped in 2005 the 1st customer goes thru all the licensing pain and subsequent licenses of the same design are based on a ‘site permit’. I.E. Is it an earthquake zone etc etc.

        Nuclear power doesn’t come even close to penciling out against coal West of the Mississippi(Coal west of the Missippie generally costs 1/2 of coal east of the Mississippi) if one uses the cost estimates for the Vogtle project in Georgia but various utilities West of the Mississipi are going thru the motion to get their site permits in order.

        So I would concur that there is an expectation in the minds of some that nuclear power might end up costing substantially less then is currently ‘estimated’.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      There is no successful deployment of nuclear power without the involvement of the state. Period. Nobody is going to tie up private capital for the extended period without payback that nuclear requires.

      So, rethink your opposition to #11.

      • I don’t know where you get this. Nuclear power plants are expensive and take long to return a profit, but the Cross-Channel Tunnel project trumped them on both counts. It ended up costing STG4,650 m, having suffered every sort of delay and cost overrun. It was to compete with a highly developed surface system which operated satisfactorily on all but a few days of the year. Yet it was completed with private finance. I don’t see the problem attracting investment for a far less expensive project using proven technology to a proven design, with a strong, stable and growing demand for its output.

      • It should except it hasn’t.

      • Signing of Anglo-French treaty to opening of the Chunnel: Feb 86-May 94.

        From design to selling watts with nuclear reactors can take 20 years. There’s really nothing else like it.

    • randomengineer

      The US left has its weird green fantasies, but the US right’s assumption that “fiscal conservatism” is a hallmark of the GOP is also fantasy.

      The right invests huge amounts of taxpayer cash. The difference is that the right’s investment tends to be military related — first the military benefits and then the tech filters down to all via commercialising. Whether this is nuclear power or semiconductors or GPS or aviation or the internet, the investment pattern is the same. The notion of fiscal conservatism winds up being the post hoc view of the results, and this confuses the hell out of many right wingers. There ain’t no such thing. The primary difference between left and right spending is that e.g. the interstate system is a lot more useful than inner city night-time basketball courts.

      If you could drop the reactionary nonsense of ‘oh my god you said STATE!” and look at this with a more clinical eye, you’ll see that the authors of the original article are saying the same thing I am — it’s time the government returns to focusing on actual long term investment, which, on this scale, is something only government can do.

      God heavens, look up and read “Strategy of Technology” which is essentially right wing thought writ large (it was written by Reagan’s advisors) and you’ll see the same notions underpinning this paper.

      Dr Curry, I’m impressed you ran this — thanks.

      • Well said. A little pragmatism (on all sides) would go a long way.

      • Agreed, well said.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        If I remember correctly, Alexander Cockburn — the (actual, not right-wing gasbag denominated) Communist writer didn’t believe in AGW because he saw it as a right wing conspiracy to get government support (money, freedom from liability, etc.) for the nuclear energy industry.

        If you treat the actual facts of the matter of AGW as irrelevant, that’s exactly how the game is being run. Despite huge trade imbalances due to imported oil, despite the depth of insanity in our involvement in volatile MidEast politics, despite the necessity of doing something sane to respond to Peak Oil [and despite the dangers inherent in Climate Change] — Congress has responded by pretending that none of that is true and has pursued Oil Patch interests with a fervor that would have shamed the original Rockefeller and has entrenched us in MidEast turmoil in a way that must have Osama bin Laden rubbing his long dead hands together in glee.

        Eventually, so the scenario runs, the People will rise up and demand nukes and the devil be damned. Seed money. Liability wavers. Payment of loans despite market failures or construction over-runs. The ultimate cash cow. All while — and this is the beauty part — capitalists bemoan government involvement in free markets.

      • Latimer Alder

        I was under the impression that it was only the ‘deniers’ – whoever they may be – who were supposed to be into conspiracy theories?

        Or at least that’s what I was told by the Warmists. Is it possible they weren’t telling quite the whole truth?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        I love arguments from ignorance. They’re absolute proof for whoever makes them.

      • Latimer Alder

        So no evidence for your ever-so-complex conspiracy theory either then?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        “Conspiracy” — the word was originally a colorful phrase. It meant “breathe together”. It was to bring to mind desperate men huddled together so close that their breathing mingled.

        I reported Cockburn’s opposition to AGW which he foresaw as being rooted in propagating a cash cow of nuclear energy. Events — Congressional opposition to pursue any thing resembling a sane response to energy — have not disproved his fears. Maybe you have other information.

        The public widely believes that there have been no new nuclear plants in this country because of environmental reasons. In fact, there have been no new nuclear plants for economic reasons. Nobody wants to tie up their boodle for the length of time it takes to get a nuclear plant online. It will take considerable governmental support to make it happen in the future. Considering the hysterical (largely rhetorical) opposition of the right wing to government intrusion in the marketplace, desperation will be required as cover.

        Do you consider nukes a good source of energy? Aren’t you opposed to the government in markets? Horns of a dilemma, what?

      • Jeffery— you have FEAR over potential climate change, but that fear does not make it a fact. You may fear that there is a monster in your closet when you go to bed, but in reality, there probably is not one there.

        The same is true regarding your and Tobis’s fears regarding potential climate change. For one country (the United States), please identify what specific concerns you believe could not be overwhelmingly mitigated via proper infrastructure planning and construction over the coming decades.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Rob, you are sanguine about climate change. That doesn’t make it reasonable.

      • Latimer Alder

        But nameless dread of terrible consequences that cannot be articulated is irrational and childish.

        And having thought about it and come to some conclusions that it isn’t too much to worry about is a lot more reasonable than merely screaming that the bogeyman is coming IMO.

      • It’s not quite as categorical as you state. Congress is also ramping up significant government subsidization for nuclear energy. No doubt, it pales in comparison to the real-world subsidization for oil (arguably costs that would be multiplied exponentially if you try to capture the external costs minus external benefits), but it is in the tens of billions of dollars.

        But to divorce our capitalist economy from its dependency on the state also requires a divorce of ideology from fact.

      • Much of the technology developed in the US over the last 70 years has been a spin-off of military programs, in response to a perceived threat, real or otherwise. Much of the money spent on military programs remained within the US, and built factories and jobs.

        The problem with cap and trade solutions, and indeed any global solutions, is that the barriers to capital flows no longer exists. To avoid carbon taxes, companies need only move their factories from the US to China, for example. The tax savings will pay for the move and they would be irresponsible to their shareholders not to move..

        In effect, the US taxpayer ends up footing the bill to send factories and jobs overseas. Will these jobs in the US then be replaced by “Green Jobs”. IT seems unlikely due to the higher costs of “Green Technology”. Such a program would require ongoing US government subsidies, leading to massive government debt in the US, as we are seeing.

        Eventually the tax burden becomes so great that the US will be forced to default. This will happen overnight if interest rates rise. The US will not be able to service the debt. Pension plans will collapse and with them the economy. China will conquer the US without firing a single shot.

      • “The right invests huge amounts of taxpayer cash.” This is adoption of the bastardized meaning of “investment” that the left has promulgated for the last two decades at least. A purchase by the government of a weapons system is a purchase. The building of an interstate highway is similarly a purchase.

        An investment on the other hand is an expenditure made with the intent of generating profit – for the investor. National defense is not a profit motivated enterprise. Comparisons of government expenditures for military technology to private investment in research in a general industrial sector is just muddled thinking. Just because the left has tried to redefine every tax and government boondoggle as an “investment” does not make it so.

        Look, the entire Cold War, the original subject of The Strategy of Technology, was won because the central planning of the Soviet Union was no match for the entrepreneurial drive of the U.S.’s private sector. In the U.S., the military decided what it needed, and the private sector found the solutions and built them. The government in the Soviet Union on the other hand did both. And we can see the results. Not only did our economy thrive and theirs implode, but the weapons systems we produced were, with rare exceptions, far superior.

        I hadn’t read The Strategy of Technology before, but upon scanning it, find it very interesting. This quote in particular seems apropos: “The West has vastly superior resources, and can afford nonspecific research to find unsuspected technological advantages. The West can afford to decentralize a part of its decision-making process and employ a variety of technological approaches, particularly during the scientific and advanced engineering research phases of the technological discovery process. Whereas the Soviet Union can afford only one ‘center of gravity’ for their efforts, we can afford several.” Decentralize – indeed.

        The government should spend taxpayer money on national defense, that is one of the core roles of government. The government should not be picking winners and losers by directing overall research into alternative energy, raising taxes to de-carbonize the economy, etc.

        Why is it that people cannot tell the difference between the government as consumer/customer, and the government as central planner?

      • The building of an interstate highway is similarly a purchase.

        I suppose if you ignore any commerce generated or facilitated by it and the resulting tax revenues, it could be seen as a purchase instead of an investment. Not a view I’d like to have to defend, mind you.

      • This is exactly the type of muddled think I was referring to. Commerce is not a profit to the government. And taxes are not profits or dividends, or anything other than taxes.

        You can dress a socialist pig up as a princess, but it’s still pork.

      • Yes, I blame it on the socialists who in 1787 slipped in that clause about regulating commerce between the states. After all, it’s not like increasing commerce increases the overall wealth of the nation. That’s just “muddled think”.

      • “it’s not like increasing commerce increases the overall wealth of the nation?”

        Who said that? Those who are trying to sell government planning of the economy have lost the debate. They are now trying to dress their intent up as some version of capitalism. James Hansen for example calling the redistribution of carbon taxes “dividends.”

        Commerce is not “profit” to the government. Commerce does not make the expenditure of taxes an “investment.” If it did, every conceivable government expenditure could be called an investment. And come to think of it, that is exactly what the Orwellian deconstruction of our language by the left has come to.

      • Who said that? I did.

        I’m curious how investing in infrastructure can be considered “government planning of the economy”.

      • No one said that it is. I said it is an expenditure, not an “investment.”

        This entire sub-thread is about the above author’s comment: “Never mind that virtually the entire history of American industrialization and technological innovation is the story of government investments in the development and commercialization of new technologies. Think of a transformative technology over the last century – computers, the Internet, pharmaceutical drugs, jet turbines, cellular telephones, nuclear power – and what you will find is government investing in those technologies at a scale that private firms simply cannot replicate.” And your agreement with that statement.

        Leaving aside the factual errors with their position, if the government is “investment[ing] in the development and commercialization of new technologies,” on “a scale that private firms simply cannot replicate,” that is central planning. Government deciding not only what research should be conducted, but how it should be “commercialized.”

        We’ll leave that to the Chinese, Cuba (and California) if you don’t mind.

      • We’ll have to agree to disagree in regards to whether or not infrastructure spending is an investment. However, I will grant you their statement regarding “commercialization of new technologies” seems to be in error (at least in regards to the US).

      • randomengineer

        This is adoption of the bastardized meaning of “investment” that the left has promulgated for the last two decades at least.

        You’re reflexively reacting to a word.

        As it happens what the left spends on is crap and what the right spends on has turned out as an investment. The right, whether purposefully or not, has been adhering to the Strategy of Technology principles. Where it has put taxpayer cash has resulted in growth and payback, intentionally or not.

        Investment is determined only via the lens of hindsight. What the left says is and has been saying is utter nonsense. If on the other hand the right were to grow a pair and decide to help push nuclear energy development and a renewed push for Solar Power Sats and shale drilling etc as part of a rational and comprehensive energy policy, then yes, yes, a thousand times yes, I’d view this as an investment. And yes the government *is* sometimes in the business of picking the winners and the losers (i.e. sh*t happens.)

        If the left continues to push windmills and other idiocy then I’d view this as pissing money away. There’s no “there” there.

        Can we get past the one word please?

  12. Apart from all the handwaving, the nugget of fact in this article is that we need an “enormous expansion of nuclear power”.
    That seems obvious to me, but it appears to be still a minority opinion.

  13. Alexander Harvey


    If the denizens and others can just be deliberately circumspect for this one thread, they could turn it into perhaps the most important here and perhaps in blogoland.

    We are but a part in the making of year 2050, and AGW is also but part.

    We will address any AGW issues as best we can because we will choose to do so, but to quote the enigmatic phrase from his Rice speech:

    … and do the other things …

    Surely we must.

  14. Latimer Alder

    At a first late-night glance, I see a lot of common sense in these propositions.

    I like particularly that we could (and should) disband climatology immediately and doing so would have no effect on the substance. It might even benefit Prop 2 ‘stop trying to scare the pants off the public’. Prepare to hear howls of rage.

    I do not see the point of Prop 11. Unless the proposers just like Big Governments and the powers that go with them. Which is not at all a done deal. Recent politics across the West shows that Big Government solutions are unpopular and will not gain democratic traction. How and by whom these things are provided are far less important than that the are provided

    • The problem is that prop 11 is the whole point behinds props 1 through 10. This manifesto reads not like an abdication of the dreams of state control of the energy economy by the “green” progressives, but as a tactical retreat and revamping of the message. The goal looks the same, but with more patience than the CAGW advocates have.

      • The End is FAR

        My biggest problem is the Remedies with no sign of a Cause. “Hey, we don’t need to be able to describe the Cause, we just need to give the dullards some medicine that they can stomach.”

        And this NewSpeak is also disturbing. It’s no longer Stimulus, it’s Investment crap only works on the AGW Believers, those of us not converted do not need allusions, they only make us more wary.

      • The death of environmentalism started with the fall of communist governments in Eastern Europe. The ardent believers living in the West lost faith in communism to achieve their goal of eliminating free enterprise and shifted their faith toward the wackos in environmentalism. As environmentalism became more and more infected with watermelons, it got further and further off track.

        The authors here are able to see that a death happened. They can evaluate the stupidity of tactics. But they still share the faith and they still share the goals. In the end, it is still nothing more than an effort to get back to increasing control by the state over our lives. It seems that freedom is so scary to some people that they will embrace any falsehood and advocate any religious doctrine in their effort to avoid having to confront it.

      • Yeah, that reads about right. Except I think it’s fear of other people’s freedom that’s the “forcing driver”.

  15. Seth Pecksniff, we hardly knew ye.

  16. Alexander Harvey

    “Think of a transformative technology over the last century – computers, the Internet, pharmaceutical drugs, jet turbines, cellular telephones, nuclear power – and what you will find is government investing in those technologies at a scale that private firms simply cannot replicate.

    This is I think true but I doubt it did it for the percieved benefit now enjoyed but out of its then current interests.

    I will also say that outside of the USofA many, most, or even all of the rest might struggle to match the scale of investment available to the multinational private bodies.

    • My take on that one is that the government is really good at R&D and much less so at taking the results to market. Neither is really surprising considering that profit is not the driving motive.

      • I’ll just point out that these are mostly DOD funded, not “the government” as a whole.

  17. Agreed on more nukes. The US invented nuclear power plants, and thanks to mindless “green” agitation, in planned construction we’re now behind Japan and France. Japan?! France???!! Who won that big one, anyway?

    On the other hand, they show a certain statist blindness that I find disquieting:

    Never mind that virtually the entire history of American industrialization and technological innovation is the story of government investments in the development and commercialization of new technologies. Think of a transformative technology over the last century – computers, the Internet, pharmaceutical drugs, jet turbines, cellular telephones, nuclear power – and what you will find is government investing in those technologies at a scale that private firms simply cannot replicate.

    Pharmaceutical drugs — just no. All the others are fallouts from WW2 and Korea defense spending. The basic technology enabling the Internet was developed privately for local nets; the DoD did, admittedly, foot the bill for the first transcontinental connections.

    But if you think of the really transformative technologies of the last century, the ones which mean that a modern would not feel totally disoriented if placed in, say, 1925, while he would probably be unable to cope with 1880, these developments — the internal combustion engine and the automobile, electricity in the home, the telephone — were all developed and popularized by private industry.

    By and large, though, a refreshing look at reality, though still in thrall to many unexamined green presuppositions.

    • Pharmaceutical drugs — just no.

      What does that mean. For better or worse, pharmaceutical companies rely heavily on government-funded research and government-protected monopoly rights.

      • That the original groundbreaking developments of the industry had little to do with the government, or funding provided by it. Protection of monopoly rights is called “patents”, and you can argue that they are or are not a good idea, but they’ve been around a lot longer than the pharmaceutical industry has.

      • Patent rights only exist because the government issues patents and protects them. Of course they’re not exclusive to the pharmaceutical industry, but they are absolutely key to the pharmaceutical industry’s ability to be profitable. It’s a partnership.

        An the “original groundbreaking developments in the industry” would not have formed a basis for such a massive industry, and they would not have sustained that industry without government partnership.

      • The government is also critical in providing law enforcement and a court system to provide enforcement of property rights. Without this aspect of government, there would be no increase in living standards. Of course, this has been understood since the founding of the US. That some level of government is necessary for commerce to take place is no argument for the vast expansion of govt into making investment decisions and dominating every aspect of the economy. Apples and oranges. No worse than that. More like apples and baseballs.

      • Who said anything about vast expansion of government into making investment decisions and dominating every aspect of the economy?

        And what does that have to do with whether or not the state was indefensible to building the pharmaceutical industry?

      • Hah? Freudian slip, eh? …. indispensable to building……

      • Any role for the government other than bombing people in other countries is a “vast expansion of government into making investment decisions and dominating every aspect of the economy” and thus Socialism, which is Bad.

        I saw Glenn Beck explain this once. It was very clear. He had a blackboard.

    • I also wasn’t aware that the government invented the cell phone. You learn something new every day.

      And the the bit about scale, “you will find is government investing in those technologies at a scale that private firms simply cannot replicate”, is exactly backward. The government has the money to build things at an uneconomically small scale; the private sector is what brings these technologies to the masses. A perfect example is the computer. The Navy built Eniac. Within a decade, the DoD was buying production computers from IBM, Sperry, Burroughs, etc. because they were cheaper than milspec.

      Their entire economic premise reminds me of Pauli’s “not even wrong”.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      ” the DoD did, admittedly, foot the bill for the first transcontinental connections.”

      I didn’t realize Durham to Chapel Hill was transcontinental.

    • In terms of planned construction we are behind Vietnam as well.

  18. Kent Draper

    A little off the mark but refering to #2. This was just reported out of the National Snow and Data Center in Denver.
    “”If the climate continues to warm, we should expect an increase in heavy snow events for a few decades, until the climate grows so warm that we pass the point where it’s too warm for it to snow heavily.” Mark Serreze
    And this…..”In fact, as the Earth gets warmer and more moisture gets absorbed into the atmosphere, we are steadily loading the dice in favor of more extreme storms in all seasons, capable of causing greater impacts on society.” Jeff Masters
    I’m fond of the “loading the dice” part. I can see most of the folks reading this saying “whaaaaaaat???

    • John Carpenter

      “If the climate continues to warm, we should expect an increase in heavy snow events FOR A FEW DECADES, until the climate grows so warm that we pass the point where it’s too warm for it to snow heavily.”

      Funny how we should now expect more snow in the coming decades, not because of a negative PDO, but because of AGW. Funny how we will have t0 wait, as usual, several decades to see if comes true. I don’t remember hearing about all these new snow storms back in 2000. Back then, the likelihood of greater snowfalls would have been roundly dismissed as the planet was warming and snow was to be a “rare and exciting event”. It’s sooo easy to re-calibrate your theory when mother nature does her own thing.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        You’ll be able to match that claim with a cite, yes?

        1.5C-3.5C of warming won’t transform the northern tier of the US into the Bahamas. The air will still dip below 0C in winter. It will just be carrying more water due to fact that it’s warmer air than it used to be. That water will precipitate out of the air as snow. That has been part of the warning from the beginning.

      • Peter Wilson

        It will just be carrying more water due to fact that it’s warmer air than it used to be. That water will precipitate out of the air as snow. That has been part of the warning from the beginning.

        No it hasn’t, the warnings have always been of less snow, more melting ice, more storms, and above all warmer temperatures. Don’t try to re write (very recent) history, almost no alarmists were predicting more snow before it actually happened. If anyone had accurately predicted what has happened 4 years ago they would have been shouted down as a denier.

        Not to mention which, the air in question was colder than normal during this years NH snowstorms, not warmer, which kind of makes a nonsense out of all the post hoc explanations we are hearing anyway.

  19. Sixth, we will not regulate or price our way to a clean energy economy. Regulatory and pricing solutions tend to succeed when we have good, low cost alternatives to the activities which we are attempting to discourage or eliminate. We dealt with acid rain once we had access to low sulfur coal from the western United States and reached an international agreement to phase out CFCs only once DuPont demonstrated that they could produce a cheap alternative at scale.

    This bears repeating over and over and over…

  20. Doug Badgero

    The free market doesn’t do a great job at basic R&D, the ROI is too uncertain. The government does a fair job with basic R&D but how, and where, to deploy these new technologies should be left to the free market. When governments decide winners and losers they are simply too slow to admit they are wrong and change direction.

    • The free market doesn’t do a great job at basic R&D, the ROI is too uncertain. Agreed. Although if they couldn’t so easily rake in ridiculous profits from financial speculation, R&D would look more attractive as an investment.

    • One moment. Up until around WW2, nearly all R&D was privately funded, often with grants to public or private universities, often in-house. The world was not always as government-centric as it has become recently.

      • China has developed a very effective “Socialist Capitalism” economy. Collectively they will eat the USA’s Capitalist Extremist lunch !!

      • “a very effective ‘socialist capitalist’ economy?”

        The U.S. government, the home of “the most open administration in the history of the world,” regularly plays with statistics on unemployment, inflation and economic growth. Unemployment statistics do not include those who have been out of work so long they have quit looking. The inflation figures exclude costs of food and fuel, but include housing costs in the residential market that is collapsing due to government interference. Economic growth reports are uniformly revised downward months after being released to great fanfare. And that’s here.

        Anyone who thinks they actually know anything about the real economic picture in China is dreaming. U.S progressives touted the strength of the Soviet socialist economy for decades based on bloated, fraudulent reports from the Soviet government, all while the Soviet economy was on the brink of utter collapse. Everyone who believes the Chinese have finally found the magic to make communist political leadership work with a supposed hybrid of socialism and capitalism, needs to email me for a prospectus on this great ocean front property I’ve got for sale in Arizona.

      • Nah, and its only effective now because the society is in transition. Soon, very soon, the Chinese people will have reckoning. Right now, their economy is going like gangbusters! But, power is still centralized in most facets of their life. Capital possessed is an expression of freedom. How soon before the people demand to be rewarded for their efforts? Socialist and Capitalism do not co-exist very long.

      • Not to mention that the Chinese economic miracle has produced a massive $4,300 annual per capita income, less than those paradises of Belize, Cuba and Iran. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29_per_capita)

        I mean, it’s great for the Chinese people that they are for the most part moving from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages, but I am just amazed by this Friedmanesque reverence for the supposed superiority of their system.

      • And they’re starting to find they’re really, realllly short of young women. Arabia is too, because the rich guys collect them, but this is different. There will be hell to pay.

        As for the demographic bulge, the one-child bottleneck is going to get squeezed like in no other country.

        China has a tiger or two by the tail(s). I think its hold may be slipping, and then the tiger(s) will feast.

      • Sun Spot. The government there kills its own people. Efficient, yes. Desirable, no.

      • Government funding of R&D didn’t start until the founding of the NAS. Until that time, research funding was provided mainly by private individuals.

      • The world was not always as government-centric as it has become recently.

        Perhaps. But the massive economic growth in our country coincided with the massive growth of government support for industry, not the least government-funded research that supported massive growth of the pharmaceutical industry. You may see it as causal or not, but it would be a little disingenuous to suggest divorcing the two after the fact, don’t you think?

      • The gubmint makes a good customer, for a while. But as a sole customer, or main customer, it breeds cost-plus profiteering and inefficiency unless there’s a national emergency to inspire all and sundry to work hard.

        For the medium and long-term, the public at large is the only source of wealth and buyers.

      • The massive increase in our economy coincided with deregulation and slashed tax rates in the early 80s.

      • The massive increase in our economy coincided with deregulation and slashed tax rates in the early 80s.

        Really? I guess we should just wipe out that whole period from the mid-30’s to the 80’s, eh?

        And are you aware of just how much government expenditure exploded during the 80’s? Further, are you aware of how after taxes were slashed in the 80’s, they were almost immediately raised again in the 80’s? Take a look at the the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982.

    • By “basic R&D”, I’m assuming you mean basic research. Bell labs was an excellent example of doing a good job at basic Research. Bell Labs had the problem you see at universities – the basic research could support a multibillion dollar a year new market, but they don’t move it from Research through to product oriented Development and Commercialization. Just look at lasers, transistors, etc.

      Edison knew how to do product oriented Development.

      • Bell Labs had one other unique roadblock: they were prohibited from commercializing anything not telephone related and had to equitably license all of their patents, ala the Consent Decree.

  21. Why is it that a “warmer world” is always assumed to be a bad thing. The history, such as we understand it, is that man has always thrived during warmer periods and regressed when the earth cools.

    • Exactly!

      • It may or may not be, I don’t know, neither do you. Energy independence is important though and it is good to hedge your bets just in case there is something to global warming. While I may have worded the speech differently, the points are right on target.

        As long as it don’t break the bank, I am all for alternate, sustainable energy. It has to be a good mix though or there will be problems. I am also all for the Berkley Project. There is nothing wrong with reducing uncertainty. That is why I distrust the arrogant attitude of the team, they think they know, but the correct answer is maybe, it needs more research, and not only by people that seem to have an agenda.

      • One over-night freeze can completely destroy an entire years crop, while a drought can take months. Cold kills and always has. That much we do know. Ask the northern Mexico farmers. And to deflect the issue with “well, energy independence is important…” is arrogance at it’s worst. Independence? Do you seriously believe that ANY industrialized country can be independent of other countries any any manner? Seriously?

      • There is only one nation in this world that I believe could pull that off…..if there was a desire…….. the U.S. We’ve the technology and resources necessary. Food isn’t a problem and neither is a work force. Maybe not 100%, but we could get darn close. It would simply take a collective will. Between the globalists and greens though, its only a dream.

      • Actually, yes. The US can be effectively energy independent, again. That doesn’t mean economic isolation from other nations, just choice of who we do business with.

        Freezes and droughts are pretty common through history. So how arrogant is a goal of energy independence with respect to agriculture and weather? I don’t see your point. Two separate issues. One just may help with the other.

      • Dallas –
        From archaeology – humans developed in central Africa. Why did they leave?

        Because the climate got warmer – the desert got wetter – and your ancestors (and mine) migrated north through what had once been impassable desert.

        Then the weather/climate got colder/drier – and migration stopped as desertification returned. Then …… it happened multiple times. Like a pump – which is what some people call it.

        Then – think about all those warm periods in history and pre-history. Which civilisations flourished during which warm periods? There is a direct correlation.

      • My Ex-wife inspired my migration south, though climate influenced the decision of direction. So what? Society will always have challenges. Dealing with one at a time makes more sense than trying to deal with everything at once. Energy independence has been on the table since the early ’70’s. Four decades later we are near having the politically correct technologies to achieve that goal.

    • Don’t be silly. Why, just look at all the Floridians rushing to vacation in New Jersey.

    • I don’t know why they assume that. Well, I do know why, but it doesn’t seem to be bearing out. In fact, our very own Dr. Curry has been very instrumental in perpetuating and enhancing that idea. Maybe you could direct your question towards her and maybe she would answer. Maybe not. She has a few papers to read and congressional testimony, but it may be easy to understand coming from the source if she would indulge you. I don’t happen to believe we can quantify the pros and cons of warmer vs. colder. But as pointed out, cold is clearly very deadly and produces a more tangible threat than warmth. So, I’m probably not the best to describe the thought.

  22. My optimism appears to have been premature. I think this essay is on the mark and important but, checking the web, I see that it has been almost entirely ignored by the climate change movement. To the extent that Schellenberger and Nordhaus do achieve notice, I suspect, it will be negative.

    S & N have done a remarkable job of revisioning environmentalism, but the reality seems that they have no voice in that movement aside from that of gadflies.

    • The End is FAR

      This is nothing but repackaging a bunch of bunk. Find one of Dr. Curry’s Tier 1 scientists that can explain how the GHE prevents Convection from moving a measly 2W/m^2 that is only trapped from using Radiation as a means to cool, and ACC will see more advocates.

      I still find it amazing that Professional Scientists hold on to a ‘Theory’ that is based upon a concept that cannot be explained. How can AGW be a Theory when it cannot be tested? How can you test that which cannot be explained?

      Climatologists, if you can explain how reducing the emissitivity of the Earth’s surface by 2W/m^2 will not result in that energy finding (entropy) another medium (convection) to cool, then you get my support. After I get your methods and conclusions for my own verification. Of course.

    • the environmental movement as an organized ideology has never forgiven Norhaus and Schellenberger for their original essay “The Death of Environmentalism” that resulted in the book The Break Through which originated their blog. The only thing the orthodoxy dislikes more than skeptical non-conformists are brethren who seemingly desert the cause by committing the heresy of actually examining the postulates taken as axiomatic within environmental dogma.
      One may not agree with all of their propositions but they are, at a minimum, thought provoking and representative of a considered political perspective that is open to counter proposition and policy options. Concomitantly, their rejection of traditional environmental rhetoric and scare tactics means the ideologues are loath to recognize that their views might have merit.
      Compliment their perspective with those expressed over at Climate Resistance.

  23. The authors greatly exaggerate the role of government in many of the areas cited, but especially with pharmaceuticals. Two centuries ago physicians realized the benefits of that magical substance extracted from Cinchona bark, salicylic acid for Rx of fever and rheumatism. It was the great industrial chemist, Dr. Bayer who decided one day to douse salicylic acid with acetic acid to give us the most widely used drug ever, acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). The mechanism of action of aspirin led to the development of every non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug marketed today, treatments that alleviate rheumatoid arthritis, prevent heart attacks, reduce colon cancer, treat clotting disorders, and give life to premature babies suffering from patent ductus artereosis.
    It was Alexander Fleming who noticed a mysterious mold growing on his bread that led to his discovery of penicillin. The work of this British genius, along with the inventive dye chemists at BASF in Germany, gave rise to the discovery of hundreds of novel antibiotics that have arguably saved more lives that any other intervention in human history.
    It was another inventive physician, William Withering, who noticed some 150 years ago, that a novel extract form the Foxglove plant,(digitalis purpura) that led to digitalis and modern cardiotonics. It was a quiet pharmacologist at the U. of Georgia, Dr. Raymond P. Ahlquist, that cleverly dissected the autonomic nervous system that eventually gave birth to some 200 modern day drugs. It was another Brit, Sir James Black, a pharmacologist at Smith/Kline French (at the time), that led to metiamide then cimetidine and all subsequent treatment of peptic ulcer disease.
    I chose these examples because their discovery, mostly without the aid of government support, account for classes of drugs used in present day medicine that represent about 60% of all drugs employed, collectively. This is not meant to diminish the role of NIH funding in subsequent discoveries, but to point out the romantic embellishment of the authors with regard to the role of government.

    • I’m glad that you acknowledged the role that the state plays in pharmaceutical research – but historically speaking, I believe that state regulation did play a role in elevating allopathic medicine over homeopathic medicine, and in more recent times, the state has played a huge role in protecting the patent rights that are the backbone of pharmaceutical profits.

      • The government has also played a huge role in vastly increasing the expense of introducing new drugs via mindlessly complex FDA requirements.

        And you can’t have it both ways. How much private R&D would we have anywhere without patent rights? Is there something wrong with pharmaceutical profits that is not wrong with, say, computer chip profits?

      • Craig, profit is not only good, it is moral. Name me one novel drug that came out of USSR, Cuba, China, etc. It is the currency of innovation.

      • Bob –
        The pharmaceutical industry started long before the origins you mention. The Egyptians, for example, had their apothecaries several thousand years ago, as did the Chinese. Every culture has had their herbal cures – the forerunners of modern pharmaceuticals.

      • Jim, I am well aware. Just attempted to give some important non-government sponsored discoveries that people can relate too.
        Just so you know the only discovery from the era you mention that translated into a modern class of pharmaceuticals was that of the belladonna alkaloids (cholinergics and anticholinergics, e.g. atropine)

      • Just so you know the only discovery from the era you mention that translated into a modern class of pharmaceuticals was that of the belladonna alkaloids (cholinergics and anticholinergics, e.g. atropine)

        That’s true for Western pharma. For Chinese medicine it’s a little different. Lotsa stuff still hangin’ around after a couple thousand years. Have a friend who’s a doctor of Chinese medicine.

      • <blockquote< The government has also played a huge role in vastly increasing the expense of introducing new drugs via mindlessly complex FDA requirements.

        No doubt. But that doesn’t change the simple fact that without government protection of patent rights, the pharmaceutical industry would not be nearly as profitable at it is.

        I said nothing about trying to “have it both ways.” I’m pointing out that it is through partnership with government that the pharmaceutical industry is able to make the profits that it does. It’s just a fact.

      • Latimer Alder

        So you would count passing Intellectual Property laws and providing a means to enforce them as ‘playing a huge role in’??

        Or has the US government done more than that for pharmaceuticals?

      • When they equate the rcognition and protection of property and contract rights with socialist intervention in the market, they are too far gone to argue with.

      • Latimer Alder


    • I believe his point was, that a t a time Penicillin was being commercialized, the DOD was a ready customer for treating wounded. I agree with your point that the historical role of government is mischaracterized.

  24. The first truth of the 12 theses:

    It would not hurt one little thing if the climate would cooperate and actually change an an abnormal way rather than simply vary around long term trends.

  25. “Sixth, we will not regulate or price our way to a clean energy economy. ”

    If only more greens thought this way. See this: http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2011/03/big-environment-butts-in.html

    I’ve stopped using the word “environmentalist” to describe myself because I do not want to be associated with this nonsense.

    • “I’ve stopped using the word “environmentalist” to describe myself because I do not want to be associated with this nonsense.”

      I believe its a misleading term.

  26. Morley Sutter

    I posted this earlier at the BishopHill Blog and will re-post it here:
    “After reading the essay by Shellenberger and Nordhaus I still do not know what they are in favour of. Is it less use of fossil fuels, more manufacturing in the US, more energy, more centralisation and government input, all of the above or simply nuclear power? They clearly are ardent believers in AGW and in psychology, particularly as the latter applies to politics.”

    To comment on the discussion here of government-private enterprise, may I make the following points:
    Computers, which are major innovations, depended on theory, much of which came from Turing in England. Their development then exploded with the advent of transistors which were invented by Shockley at Bell Labs.
    Pharmaceuticals have been developed almost exclusively by private industry but usually are based on basic science concepts that were discovered in academic institutions funded by grants from governmental agencies.
    So neither private industry nor governments can claim precedence for important past discoveries.

  27. Craig Loehle

    The fundamental currency of present environmentalism is idealism and purism. EPA regulators try to assert water standards which are cleaner than water coming out of wilderness, as if Evian flowed from nature but for us. Windmills are defined as “clean” and pure even though they kill birds and displace no base load installations. Organic food is the solution to all health ills. And this purity is not a goal to be worked toward but is disconnected from the practical world. It allows one to demand solar power and at the same time prevent the power lines needed to bring the electricity to town, as in Calif. So there is no chance that this essay will have any impact whatsoever, but it is a nice try.
    As to the gov providing goods, the attempt to develop commercial solar power strictly by gov funding failed completely, and solar deployment is still dependent on subsidies, because you can’t make physics obey your idealistic wishes. As to their other examples, only the initial research on the intenet, and even much of pharma was from the gov, and then private enterprise developed them. The gov has had little influence on computers and cell phones since the first technologies got maybe a little boost. Sorry, wrong.

  28. Ok, there is a lot to disagree with here – primarily on the theme of “government isn’t the solution, government is the problem”. However, in the spirit of Dr. Curry’s request for positive points I’ll say that it is refreshing to see some greens step away from their idealistic, impossible fantasies and start discussing what might actually be achievable in the real world. I’ve been noticing a bit more of that lately and I think it’s generally positive.

    The shift to nuclear power is belated but good. The discussion of industrialized food production is in the right direction but the non-mention of GM crops is glaring by its absence. Now that we are a trillion delicious and nutritious meals down the road with no harm in sight, the use of GM farming is simply a humanitarian issue. Do we want to feed starving people in the third world or not? I would have liked it better if they’d been clearer that organic farming is an inefficient waste of resources and net worse for the environment. More greens need to educate themselves on that so they can start practicing what they preach.

    I welcome the shift to more logical and self-consistent policies, however I’m tempted to note that all this “new” information has been widely available for many years (oops, I guess I just noted it). That’s why I get so frustrated with greens. It’s fine that we disagree on relative values in some areas, it’s the stuff where we actually agree that makes me crazy. Greens often choose the option that seems to them to be “good” without really examining the issue. In reality the net impact of their poorly considered choice ends up entirely counter to their professed values. It’s the conflict of shallow ‘feel good’ vs. actual good.

  29. First, can something from 2004 genuinely be called “seminal”? Maybe for a new music genre, but anything else? Seven years? Really?

    Secondly, “The solution is not more climate science but rather a different set of remedies.”

    Very bold thing to say, and I’ll be very interested to see how much rejectionism of it comes from their own camp. The dirty secret of a large section of the pro-AGW coalition from a *political perspective* is having found the problem that they can use to justify the solutions they already wanted. For that portion of the camp, the solutions always were the real agenda –the problem a convenience.

    • No doubt. We get to see if some of these pragmatic suggestions get much traction. Will this be the room of about 200 where only one or two raise their hand in concurrence?

  30. OK. Here goes on the “12 theses”

    First: Do not agree that the “evidence for [potentially dangerous] anthropogenic global warming will in fact become stronger”. This is an unsubstantiated speculation. In fact, latest developments seem to be working in the opposite direction: i.e. there is more expression of “uncertainty” regarding the magnitude of anthropogenic versus natural climate forcing.

    Second: Agree that fear mongering has only increased skepticism of the premise that AGW represents a serious threat. This is a normal human reaction to any doomsday prediction (which, by definition, never ends up coming true, as we are all still here and doing fine).

    Third: Agree that reasons other than “environmental” will drive the “most successful actions”: key among these are economic and strategic (e.g. reducing imports of expensive oil from unfriendly and unstable regions)

    Fourth: Agree that “behavior changes” will not affect our planet’s climate one iota.

    Fifth: Agree that climate change is not a “pollution problem” and should not be handled as such; for example, the EPA has no business trying to directly or indirectly tax CO2 as a “pollutant”

    Sixth: Agree that even high “carbon prices” will have absolutely no effect on our planet’s climate.

    Seventh: Agree that moving to high cost “renewables” is simply “chasing windmills” and will not replace fossil fuels.

    Eighth: Do not agree that we need to “internalize the full cost of fossil fuels” based on some arbitrary evaluation of the “social cost” of carbon. Let’s let the free market figure out what the cost of fossil fuels should be.

    Ninth: Do not agree that “we will need to make clean energy technologies much cheaper” if this means subsidizing them with taxpayer funds. If cheaper alternates can be developed on the free marker, they should succeed. Solar panels for domestic housing and commercial buildings might be an exception here on a short-term basis, until these can benefit from the economy of scale.

    Tenth: Fully agree that nuclear will be the replacement of fossil fuel for power generation, as it already is in France. This will occur naturally and will require no carbon caps or taxes – coal prices have risen four-fold and oil three-fold (excluding most recent spike) since 2000. Studies have shown that nuclear power is less expensive today than coal-fired power in the OECD nations, so natural market forces will drive the gradual replacement for new capacity and as old coal-fired plants are phased out. Oil will continue to get more expensive; higher prices will be required to exploit the vast and more costly oil shale deposits. As a result oil will gradually be replaced as the primary motor fuel, as battery technology improves and hybrid or all-electric cars (charged with nuclear power) become more popular. Petroleum-based products will move to higher added-value end uses, such as feedstocks for petrochemicals and fertilizers.

    Eleventh: No. Keep “the state” out of the role of “direct provider of public goods” as much as possible. The examples cited show why this does not work. Selected taxpayer funded support of strategically important research is a good thing, of course (technologies supporting NASA space program, for example).

    Twelveth: Agree that (in general) “big is beautiful” with some local exceptions (domestic solar, for example). And, of course, I agree we should increase efficiency, eliminate real pollution and reduce waste wherever possible, because this makes sense for both environmental and economic reasons.


  31. I don’t know if I agree or not. They seem to be on both sides of every argument. They tell us that we’re not going to sacrifice, and then tell us we’re going to take mass transit. They tell us government isn’t the solution except that it is. This whole piece is incoherent and self-contradictory.

    I mean really. The new left rejected authority? In whose hallucination?

    • Craig Loehle

      They rejected authority to tell THEM what to do, but love it to tell YOU what to do.

  32. Robert Ayers

    Thanks for the pointer, Dr Curry!

    People: These guys sound like realists. That is valuable. Don’t write them off because you don’t like point eleven.

    Embrace them because they can actually reason and write things like contemporary ecological politics have consistently embraced green Malthusianism despite the fact that the Malthusian premise has persistently failed for the better part of three centuries. Indeed, the green revolution was exponentially increasing agricultural yields at the very moment that Erlich was predicting mass starvation. I don’t see that sort of clarity often from “the other side”.

    • Robert Ayers: I agree with you — I too was excited — but it looks like this is a dead letter.

      The climate change folks aren’t aboard and the embrace of skeptics — the only people on the web who seem interested in S & N’s essay — will likely make it an even harder sell.

  33. On government’s relationship to technology, let me excerpt from Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address (famous for his “military-industrial complex”):

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

  34. I agree with their second, third, sixth, seventh and tenth points. There are a whole host of people who worry about sustainable energy from an economic or national security point of view who aren’t ready to buy the Green “decarbonize” mantra.

    There is some value in most of their other points although they still carry a dogmatic attitude about the “correctness” of the “science” (which is by itself interesting given the long anti-science record of the Green Party). What a lot of the sloganeers clearly haven’t grasped is that this isn’t a carbon problem even if you agree with the AGW hypothesis.

    Even assuming AGW theories work, this is a Heat Budget problem and there are lots of ways to handle that other than demonizing carbon (unless your goal truly is to take over the world’s economies). The simplest is to alter the planet’s albedo so much of the solar radiation that constitutes the major factor in our planetary heat budget is reflected before it can be converted to IR.

    Common ground can be found in the concepts of energy efficiency and independence but drop the scare tactics, semantic games (“clean energy”, “deniers”, “decarbonize”, etc.) and phony closed door science.

  35. Were those guys paid money for these 12 statements? Unbelievable!

    Their original drafts are undoubtedly on a couple of napkins from their favorite bar.

  36. Moving me into a city is gonna be a really, REALLY hard sell.

    And then there’s this –
    Think of a transformative technology over the last century – computers, the Internet, pharmaceutical drugs, jet turbines, cellular telephones, nuclear power – and what you will find is government investing in those technologies at a scale that private firms simply cannot replicate.

    – which is untrue in the intended sense.

    For the rest of it, it’s a step closer to common sense and reality than the common garden variety green will understand or likely be willing to accept. Nor is Joe Sixpack – on the other side of the dance floor – likely to accept many of the resulting policies that would flow from the implicit assumptions in those 12 points.

    There ARE some good ideas, but remember – there’s no “good idea” that the government can’t screw up and convert to a “bad idea. “

    • Jim Owen

      I agree with you, but would modify your statement slightly:

      There ARE some good ideas, but remember – there’s no “good idea” that the government can’t screw up and convert to a “bad result. “

      (Ethanol, windmills, etc. etc.)


  37. Alexander Harvey

    Death of “the” Environment

    Somewhere down the line a word got high-jacked, the word “environment”.

    It was divorced from the meaning local, and given that of global.

    So much for semantics, but for many, “the” environment is a matter of little consequence, if “your” environment is a favela, or a garbage heap.

    I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a wider variety of environment than most, and I should like them to be sustained long enough for others to enjoy them. I do not like to think that many of the wonderful things I have seen may be wiped out by environmental change whatever the cause.

    There is a lot at risk, and at risk now. There is so much that I should dearly like to see survive at least long enough to have a chance to perish by AGW.

    I have a deep concern about “the” environmental movement in that it seems to have come down with a bad case of single issue fanaticism, i.e. save the planet syndrome. Until we all enjoy the right to regard, and access to, the planet as our environment, our common environment, I think we might do well to improve the lot of our fellow humans so a few more might live to see whether 2050 is going to be the apocalypse so many fear.

    I get the AGW story and I do not want to see either the smallest of bugs or the great megafauna wiped out, but one still has to join the dots between now and 2050, and beyond, and help them along one dot at a time. I should think there be many a species that will be lost from each of our environments long before they can succumb to AGW.

  38. Meh

    Nothing new here.

    More philosophers proving they can slag everything that is by rhetorical devices without evidence or logic, then build the Utopian solution in place of all the mistakes everyone is making now.

    Sure, they express the right concerns, the right moral tones of do-gooderism and pragmatism, the angst of men who see what is happening but are powerless to stop it alone. But these are put on faces that are meant to convince us to think and feel that we think and feel just like them.

    Sure, they re-ask the big questions of the current dialectic, or as many of them as are convenient to their view of truth, and it’s good to ask these questions, but they’re putting them in the order they do for a clear reason, which is to persuade of their own agenda.

    Big state. Interference in the free market. Treating air as the property of the government, not of the people.

    They don’t prove what they say, they persuade without support. They substitute known failed strategies for known successful ones, by claiming the successes of the strategies they disparage as successes of the strategies they champion.

    Much of what they say, in small phrases and clauses, is true. Strung together, it’s simply salesmanship.

  39. Oh

    And could folks stop imitating them with inferior copies of lists of 12 rants?

    That’s just sad.

  40. Latimer Alder

    ‘Think of a transformative technology over the last century – computers, the Internet, pharmaceutical drugs, jet turbines, cellular telephones, nuclear power, and what you will find is government investing in those technologies at a scale that private firms simply cannot replicate’

    I don;t know a great deal about the history of other technologies, but IIRC government ‘investment’ had very little to do with the development of computers, nor of mobile phones. Development of these was primarily private sector cash.

    Please correct me if you think different – with examples.

    • David Bailey

      I think the original chip development – which requires large, high-tech plants – was originally funded by the military. Only later, did the industry get funded by consumer demand.

      • Latimer Alder

        Intel? IBM/360? Microsoft? DEC?

        There’s an awful lot more to computers than developing chips. Like there’s more to aeroplanes than just wings, necessary though they are.

      • No. The first primitive ‘chips’, better known at the time as ‘integrated circuits’, were developed by the military, but then manufacture quickly went commercial. Computer microprocessors (what we now know as ‘chips’) were only developed much, much later than that.

      • Latimer Alder

        But commercial computers had been successfully operating before that.

  41. Jim Cripwell

    No mention of cellulose ethanol. Of all the renewables, cellulose ethanol is the only one that stores the energy it creates. Am I missing something?

    • Oh I believe there are others with positive energy balance – palm oil diesel at least. Only problem there is the fact that there is nowhere near enough tropical rainforest (to be cut down) to keep the wheels rolling.

      Back here in Finland they play around with small-scale ethanol from waste flows from bakeries etc, but the amount of ethanol that can be obtained is just greenwash and business and does not affect the big picture. But anyway, personally I would applaud any energy-effiecint way to produce liquid fuel – not because of CO2 though, but because of saving expensive, 100% imported oil.

  42. Anyone who thinks we can transform our economies from a fossil fuel base to a renewable or nuclear base within 10, 20, 30 or 50 years is quite naive of realpolitic and economics.

    Example: Say oil is $100 p/b. Now assume renewables are subsidised and or are technologically developed enough to compete with the price of oil. Demand for oil drops as people shift to electric cars and electric heating. What happens to the price of goods when demand drops?

    Does anyone think oil producers and coal exporters are going to sit and twiddle their thumbs whilst demand for their products drop? Will Saudi Arabia or Venezuela just leave their oil in the ground and go poor? Will Russia stop pumping out it’s vast reserves of gas? Or will these nations who rely on this stuff gradually drop their prices, keeping renewables relatively expensive for a lot lot longer than 50 years.

    It may seem feasible when thinking about shifting energy sources in a general way, but when you get into the detail of who how and when, one realises it is not as simple as it seems.
    Nations and politicians who introduce taxes and large subsidies to try and change energy use are either too naive or bright eyed about a new tax they can rort.

    • In a sense, that achieves what the nukes would anyway, then: cheap energy.

      But there’s a game changer or two on the way. Small-box fusion has a half-dozen irons in the fire, and a couple of them could be in mass production in 5 yrs. or so.

    • The productively of coal mines east of the Mississippi river in the US has dropped from more then 4 tons per man hour to less then 3 tons per man hour in the last 10 years.

      This trend is not unique to the US. The Chinese measure their mine productivity in man hours per ton.

      The laws of supply and demand are bounded on the low side by production costs. A product that can not be produced at a profit ceases to be produced.

      Coal costs 3 cents/ton mile to move by rail. In practice this means that the coal closest to population centers or waterways gets mined first.

      The mine mouth price of central Appalachian coal is $77/ton. The mine mouth price of Powder River basin coal in Gillette, Wyoming is $14/ton.

      Cheap Wyoming coal doesn’t belp anyone on the US Eastern Seaboard, the transportation costs are prohibitive.

      In 2008 the USGS resurveyed the Powder River Basin and concluded there was 10 billion tons of coal left that could be mined at current production costs.

      As far as ‘coal exporters’ they are an extremely small club. 10 years ago China and India were both exporters, they are now importers.

      There are only five major coal exporters left – Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Russia and Columbia. The US exports some but most of it is metallurgical coal.

      Indonesia has 4 billion tons of coal left and Columbia has 6 billion tons of coal left.

  43. Subsidizing brings down costs…?

    No, it just hides hides them.
    Suggest immediate Economic 101 for messers Schellenberger and Nordhaus.

  44. “Nordhaus and Shellenberger reflect on what went so badly awry, and offer 12 Theses for a post-environmental approach to climate change.”

    We’d be better off thinking about a post-climate change approach to the environment…

    The danger I always saw for the people who care about environment was that in hitching their wagon to AGW, they would get tarred with the same brush as the alarmists once the theory went down.

    • John Costigane

      Absolutely correct, Tallbloke.

      Environmentalism is dear to my heart as well, but global warming alarmism is a cancerous growth within it. When alarmists try to gull the unwary with this false linkage, the need for appropriate ‘surgery’ and/or ‘chemotherapy’ becomes all the more pressing.

    • The only thing I can say to that, is they should have distanced themselves from the CAGW alarmism to begin with. They didn’t and remained silent for decades. They don’t like the paint they’re getting brushed with now? They should have done the right thing, not the more convenient, profitable and easy thing.

      • Holly Stick

        So all three of you are saying that there is no AGW. You disagree with Curry and most of the people on this blog who agree that the earth is warming and that human-emitted CO2 is contributing to this warming.

        You three are global warming deniers then, is that correct? Because if not, then you would not claim AGW is a false theory.

      • Rob Starkey

        Holly–you are not correct. they are saying that the potential warming is not an impending disaster. They are not saying there will be no warming

      • Holly Stick

        It is certainly not clear to me that they are saying what you think they are saying. Maybe they meed to define what they mean by “AGW”, “CAGW”, and “global warming alarmism” and then think about whether anyone else would share those definitions.

      • Rob was spot on in his interpretation.

        Catastrophic Anthropological Global Warming= CAGW
        Anthropological Global Warming= AGW
        Alarmism (in the reference to either CAGW or AGW, for context) is the philosophy embraced by people that believe Global Warming is a dire consequence to mankind and the flora and fauna of the earth.

        I’d go over the meaning of “catastrophic”, but I’m sure you get the gist.

      • The End is FAR

        I disagree with Curry and anyone who understands that the Emissitivity Effect (GHE is gross misnomer) causes a measurable increase in surface or atmospheric temp when Convection and Evaporation are present and accounted for.

        I would call myself a Skeptic, not a Denier, the AGW community has not presented a Clear Theory to reject or deny. Though I would say that I deny that any Critical Review has been conducted in addition to the countless peer reviews.

        I’m quite confident that if one studies the rate of cooling for an object within a vacuum and then adds convection and evaporation (in stages if you like) as added mediums for energy transfer then one will find that the rate of cooling with all mediums present will be far greater than Radiation alone.

        What is far greater? For Radiation alone it is quite easy to accurately predict the cooling rate in nature since radiation only has two primary variables, Temp and Emissitivity. For the addition of Convection and Evap, an apparatus must be constructed since there are far more variables to consider. We simply need to build it and make observations.

        I’ve heard the argument before that we cannot create a system like the Earth’s so we cannot rely on such a scaled down test, however, we can and must assume that the scaled down test will be useful in describing the much larger system. Nature is very fractal or self-similar in nature. If it operates at one scale, we can expect it to operate the same at others.


      • Rob Starkey

        Remember that the idea is “if all other factors remain unchanged, then higher concentration of CO2 would result in warming” What you are describing are other factors, and there are many that actually change in the real world. Some would reduce the impact of additional GHG’s and others would magnify the impact

  45. The solution is not more climate science, but rather a different set of remedies

    Good to know. Can we then separate science from preconceived “remedies”, and try to learn something?

  46. Craig Loehle

    The unrest in the Middle East has sent gas prices up. Every newspaper is correctly noting how this will hurt the economy and growth. This is well-known. But greens loudly proclaim how cap-trade or energy tax or forcing renewables will stimulate green jobs. Not even a basic understanding of econ 101 here by greens, as is usual.

    • Craig Loehle

      For example, about 10 yrs ago I had dinner with the then-president of the Ecological Society of America. I said “complying with Kyoto will have no effect of global climate and will devastate the world economy” and his reply: “we should do it anyway”.

      • Nice anecdote.

        I’m always amused when people object to dire predictions of harm caused by global warming but present as incontrovertible fact that limiting carbon emissions will “devastate the world economy.”

      • Nice riposte, PDA. Here’s mine:

        I’m always amused when people present dire predictions of incontrovertible harm caused by global warming and then present as fact the canard that imposing a carbon tax will have a perceptible impact on our planet’s climate.


      • I’d agree. Cap-and-anything will have a marginal impact, if any.

      • Rob Starkey

        Cap and trade would have a very marginal impact on CO2, but could have a significant negative impact on the economic competitiveness of the country adopting the policy

  47. David Bailey

    I would still call myself an environmentalist, but the movement has been duped over AGW, and it is a total tragedy.

    Who can argue that the world will not be poorer if it loses its rain forests?

    Who can argue the nuclear weapons – and particularly their proliferation – do not pose a severe risk to us all?

    Who can argue that population growth will stop at some point, and it would be nicer if we didn’t wait for nature’s method?

    These are the sort of issues that should exercise the minds of environmentalists (and indeed all of us!) – we don’t need scare stories constructed out of devious graphs, dodgy proxies, and manipulated temperature data!

    • Population: The most reliable “projections” of population have come from the UN. The lowest edge of its “Low Band” is spot on.

      It now sez peak of <8bn by 2030, then declining.

      It always was a fake issue. Wealth reduces population, poverty increases it. Energy availability cuts population, energy shortage increases it.

      • David Bailey

        I’m not sure people can project population 40 years ahead, any better than they can climate. In that time, there may be wars that push people’s income down, assorted religious movements that may impact on efforts to reduce population, etc.

    • Latimer Alder


      ‘the movement *duped itself* over AGW, and it is a totally predictable outcome from their arrogance’.

      Sanctimony and hypocrisy are never attractive traits.

      • David Bailey

        Well, most people in the environment movement mean well, and in all the other issues that I mentioned, common sense is all you need to recognise there is a problem. Most environmentalists (I’m not talking about those that should know better) have done nothing more stupid than to assume that a scientific consensus meant just that. They have been let down grievously by those in the science community who know what has happened but prefer to remain silent.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘Meaning well’ is not an excuse that stands up much beyond the age of 12yo IMO. Most people give it up along with the cuddly fluffy polie bears in their bedroom.

        If they are indeed guilty of assuming that ‘a scientific consensus means just that’, then we can add naive and gullible to the list.

        None of these are qualities that I want anywhere near anybody who wishes to make big decisions about big problems. Like economics, poverty, energy. Being driven by your heart not your head is not a good way to make such decisions. Nor is wishful thinking.

  48. Charles Hart

    “Tenth, we are going to have to get over our suspicion of technology, especially nuclear power. There is no credible path to reducing global carbon emissions without an enormous expansion of nuclear power. It is the only low carbon technology we have today with the demonstrated capability to generate large quantities of centrally generated electrtic power. It is the low carbon of technology of choice for much of the rest of the world. Even uber-green nations, like Germany and Sweden, have reversed plans to phase out nuclear power as they have begun to reconcile their energy needs with their climate commitments.”

    Well China got the memo. This nuclear technology is far less expensive, even cheaper than coal.


    “China Takes Lead in Race for Clean Nuclear Power”

    “China has officially announced it will launch a program to develop a thorium-fueled molten-salt nuclear reactor, taking a crucial step towards shifting to nuclear power as a primary energy source.

    The project was unveiled at the annual Chinese Academy of Sciences conference in Shanghai last week, and reported in the Wen Hui Bao newspaper (Google English translation here).

    If the reactor works as planned, China may fulfill a long-delayed dream of clean nuclear energy. The United States could conceivably become dependent on China for next-generation nuclear technology. At the least, the United States could fall dramatically behind in developing green energy.”

    • Latimer Alder

      No doubt the US will be able to keep warm by basking in the heat from its own sense of moral superiority. And from the fires of righteousness burning in the Greens.

    • Meanwhile, in the US, Nobel prize wining physicist Chu is pushing painting rooftops white as a cure for our ills.
      The brutal poetic irony of these two items is worthy of a tragic opera.
      Our best and brightest vs. the Chinese.
      Their best and brightest open up a frontier we outlined decades ago but could not be bothered to explore, while our best and brightest want to paint rooftops white.
      Their best and brightest explore ways to generate vast amounts of energy, cleanly, to liberate humanity from the twin evils of too little energy and too much pollution.
      Our best and brightest push whitewash.
      How pitiful.

  49. When cars were equipped with pollution-control equipment, dictated by government, car dealerships offered package deals on removing it from their new cars. It was about 200 1970s dollars. Libertarians and their last stands are always entertaining.

  50. Joe Lalonde


    The technology is available for a far more efficient and powerful supply of energy but quick and massive profits to investors comes first.
    We currently harvest energy in bulk that only takes less than 2% of actual energy out of any system.
    Also they were designed against centrifugal force which does bite back when the science is unknown.

    So, we created our own problem with the free market system.

  51. The first is a sour grapes admission that we really do not understand nearly enough of climate dynamics for the AGW community to be making the demands it makes.
    The allegation underlying the third thesis is not supported in fact. It is like the UN’s crazy claims about AGW killing people.
    The fifth undermines all of their reasonable theses.
    The ninth is magical thinking.
    The eleventh- what is it about enviro-extremists and their hatred of freedom and free markets?
    The twelfth, big may or may not be beautiful, but it will be ugly for sure if it comes at the cost of our freedom and liberty.
    But this list is a great progress by the enviro/AGW community.
    It is not nearly as reactionary and apocalyptic and wildly self-confident as most AGW believer statements.

    • Joe Lalonde


      Climate science currently does not need rotation or circulation or evaporation for models. Just temperatures and oscillations and (ops sorry) gas.

  52. To be fair, Shellenberger and Nordhaus occasionally make an accurate statement about the obvious. For example, they note that some advocates and activists do not understand uncertainty and risk, and have arrived at apocalyptic conclusions. Similarly, those who deny the reality of climate change have not understood much of anything. Conclusion? People can hold positions on important issues that they do support with information and good reasoning.

    Which brings me to my point. Those who have actually read this pair’s rehashed summary and the original, know that Shellenberger and Nordhaus are almost scientifically illiterate.

    Personally, I find that ignorance, misrepresentations and outright fabrications do not make for a compelling critique (of either science or social movements). It is possibly a new intellectual low, for a professional scientist to recommend this, to anyone.

    I wish to hear more from the blog’s engineers about the solution proposed. To be clear, Shellenberger and Nordhaus do not ignore the need to decarbonize. They recommend this be accomplished through low-carbon energy research into new energy sources, cheap enough to replace all fossil fuels for every single social purpose. I find this sweeping proposal unrealistic, both technologically and economically.

    Engineers, I hope you will take time to assess their proposed solution, and comment. Please let’s also hear your own recommendations, based on your interpretation of uncertainties and the role of policy.


    • Jeffrey Davis

      “It is possibly a new intellectual low, for a professional scientist to recommend this, to anyone.”

      Vulpes vulpes.

      The animal so nice they named it twice.

      • Rob Starkey

        I am not aware of there being a “professional scientist” designation. I know about PE, but not SE.

    • Martha, those who deny the reality of climate change….. and then you go on to write about ignorance. I’m sure that if one looked hard enough, one could find someone that believes the climate doesn’t change, but if one actually took the time to read the positions of skeptics, it was, in fact, the skeptical position that climate has always changed. It is the alarmists that believe our climate should be static. Its not, it never was, and it never should be.

      It has been shown, on both sides of the argument, that scientific literacy isn’t requisite for people to lend validity to various positions. As to the practicality of their proposals. They are mostly correct. The solutions that have been pursued, are not scalable to the necessary level to be an authentic solution. They are also correct, the greens need to embrace nuclear power. Although, I fear it may be too late. It takes ~ 20 years from start to finish a nuke plant. Population and energy requirements mandate construction of more power plants. But other than advocating nukes, and centralizing public good, (read communism/socialism) I don’t think their advocating much other than a change in tactics. They also listed tactics employed that obviously don’t work. Scientific literacy or not. On the points about what doesn’t work, they were spot on. Attempting to scare people only serves to encourage stubborn resolve. The draconian proposals were the impetus that motivated the climate blogosphere. Most skeptics really don’t care what is stated in the confines of the ivory towers. We’re too busy dealing with reality. Its when the inanity oozes out towards reality that motivates the skeptical community.

      About low-carbon research……history is a great teacher if one takes the relevant lessons. If left to our own devices, mankind would bring about a low-carbon energy replacement anyway. The price and availability of our carbon based fuels mandate this. The problem is/was that the greens had a tunnel vision as to what it was supposed to be. So, as a consequence, we’ve spent billions if not trillions in pursuit of unfeasible solutions, at the cost of real invent. What will be the replacement for our fuels and energy? I have no idea. But, I know it won’t come as long as we’re focused on whirly-gigs, battery operated vehicles and fuels made from food. As if any of that was novel. It wasn’t. The reasons why these “solutions” weren’t adopted in the first place was because they lacked practicality.

      It seems to me, what they’re stating, is that if the proposals are practical and feasible to a scalable level, then more would be advocates instead of contrarians. It isn’t earth shattering, its exactly what skeptics have said for years.

      • 20 years from start for a nuke plant

        It takes 20 years from design phase.
        Actual build time is more like 4-5 years.

      • Sorry for the lack of clarity. I consider the design phase to be included in the time frame of “start to finish”.

      • We are well passed the design phase.

        The final public hearings on the Westinghouse AP1000 will take place this year in the US. Full scale construction should begin next year.

      • Yeh Harry, that’s fine, I hope we start building one tomorrow, but that wasn’t really what I was referring to. Each plant, obviously will be on different soil in different locations. And while, I’m quite sure the general design will be strictly adhered to, each location will carry specific design needs. Before one breaks ground, there’s land purchase, water source, environmental impact studies and hearings, economic impact studies and hearings, the subsequent litigation that we know will happen by the greens. Mitigation of the impacts, state congressional hearings…….its seemingly endless.

      • Yes,

        The licensing process has been divided into phases.
        In the US we already have 4 ‘site licenses’ issued, another 4 pending completion.

        The Westinghouse AP1000 was submitted for design certification in 2002. It’ll late 2011 or early 2012 before it’s finally certified.

        Then there is the final combined operating license.
        A lot of it can happen concurrently.

        I.E. The design certification for the AP 1000 isn’t finished, but Voglte already has it’s site permit and is halfway thru it’s combined operating license ‘list of things to due’

        The short term bottleneck won’t be licensing. The GE, Westinghouse designs both use Nuclear Core forgings built by Japan Steel Works. In 2008 Japan Steel Works had the capability of 4 sets per year. It has since decided to expand to 12 sets per year by 2012.

        Unless someone has ‘pre- ordered’ then there isn’t a production slot available for a few years.

        Realistically new nuclear in the US isn’t going to get much past ‘demonstration projects’ until 2015 or so. Most of the global production capacity is being used up in Asia where the price of coal has gone beyond the point of being ‘insanely expensive’.

        As long as China is happy to ‘be first’ on a new design, why not let them pay for the learning curve.
        The first Westinghouse AP1000 should enter commercial service in 2013 in China.

      • “if one actually took the time to read the positions of skeptics, it was, in fact, the skeptical position that climate has always changed”

        In fact, that climate has always changed is not ‘the skeptical position’. It’s everyone’s understanding. It’s even in How and Why books for children, so I suspect climate scientists are also aware. ;-)

        Seriously, it also does not mean that the current rapid climate change is not caused by humans — which is what the science tells us.

        Don’t mistake your inability to comment on actual science with rational skepticism.

        Etc. with the rest of your rant.

      • Latimer Alder

        So what caused the rapid climate change in the past – and around 1910-1940? Prior to AGW.

      • Latimer, I’m not your secretary.

        If you don’t know what science says is different about recent decades and other episodes, such as the one you identify, please do your own work and find out.

      • Latimer Alder

        Nor it seems are you prepared to defend your position against some pretty simple high school type questions.

      • Increased solar activity and fewer volcanic eruptions were strong forcings in the early part of the century. As solar activity died down and more volcanoes erupted, we still had warming. The radiative forcing effect of CO2 was calculated in lab experiments. The observed warming since mid-century is consistent with that warming.

        Shorter: the Earth warms for a reason. Not just for the hell of it. This is really basic stuff, Latimer.

      • Latimer Alder

        So what caused the warnings in previous times? If you don’t know that, then you can’t say that the same thing isn’t happening now.

        And sorry, I did a ‘hard science’ for my Masters (Chemistry).
        ‘Consistent with’ is about as weak and circumstantial evidence as you can get. Just means ‘hasn’t been totally ruled out yet’. Very, very weak.

      • Latimer Alder

        And where can I read about the volcanoes and the solar forcings?

      • what caused the warnings in previous times?

        “In previous times?” Which previous times? ALL previous times? There were different reasons for different warmings: orbital cycles for interglacials, volcanoes for other Maxima like the Early Triassic and the PETM. This information is out there.

        Just means ‘hasn’t been totally ruled out yet’. Very, very weak.

        Insisting that we know nothing until we know everything is the old well known argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy. I’d have thought you learned about that by the time you got to the Masters level.

      • PDA, nobody is insisting we know nothing until we know everything. Except you and Michael Tobis.

      • Latimer, now you know you can’t apply the same standards a real, oh, sorry, hard science is held to with climate science. They’re special! PDA’s a smart guy, he just doesn’t understand that we know very little about what goes on with our climate. He’s got the hubris and ego to believe man is on the verge of being able to control climate. I happen to believe we’re aren’t anywhere close to even having the vaguest of ideas of about what runs that engine. I also don’t take plausible explanations as fact.

      • I appreciate everyone taking the time to tell me what I think.

      • Latimer Alder


        Very clever bit of programming there. Droll.

        I’ll rephrase my question.

        Where can I read the proof that

        ‘Increased solar activity and fewer volcanic eruptions were strong forcings in the early part of the century. As solar activity died down and more volcanoes erupted, we still had warming.’

        with evidence better than than ‘consistent with’. And in such a way that it has proved possible to disentangle volcanic effects from solar effects. I;d be especially interested in how they handled the unknown ‘climate sensitivity’ factor.

        Because if these aren’t known, then we cannot disentangle any CO2 based warming from any other. Unless we just assume that they both somehow disappeared in 1970ish as if by magic.

        Note that this is not an argument by ignorance. It is an application of the scientific method of analysis.

      • PDA, clicked on your link above for the Google search. Hilarious, seriously. But does someone have wayyyyy too much time on his hands?

      • Where can I read the proof that

        Latimer: really, really, really, I’m done doing searches for you. If you’ve got any intellectual curiosity, you’ll educate yourself on what mainstream science has found. If you don’t, you won’t. You don’t have to agree or find it compelling, obviously. But I’m unclear why I should be spoon-feeding people information they can easily find for themselves.

        Seriously: how can you dismiss the mainstream science if you won’t first educate yourself about it? If you’re relying on what other people have told you, how does that make you a “skeptic?”

      • Latimer Alder


        ‘If you’ve got any intellectual curiosity, you’ll educate yourself on what mainstream science has found’

        I have. And as far as I have been able to find out, it has not answered my question – which is one of the pretty fundamental ones for me. If climate change can be driven by a number of factors (change = f(a,b,c,d,e,…)), and we some change, how do we uniquely determine what factor or combination of factors is responsible?

        So when you tell me a new theory – that I hadn’t seen clearly expressed before – that the early 20C warming had been determined to be volcanoes and solar forcings I am indeed eager to read it and understand. Because if that theory is a good one with real evidence then somebody has managed to unpick the knot.

        I was hoping to read ‘Early 20C warning – unequivocal evidence of solar and volcanic forcings and the relationship between the two’ by Needles, Bodkin, Stringer and Decoder. Full peer reviewed, fully validated and replicated and reproduced.

        So I was disappointed that the best you could offer (though neatly and wittily expressed) was a general google search on
        ‘paleoclimate warming’

        There is no such paper. The work has not been done. You may have a personal belief that the early 20C warming was down to volcanoes and solar forcings in some sort of cycle. Or in unicorn farts or the sacrifices of virgins. But either there isn’t any convincing evidence to show it or you haven;t been able to recollect where it is.

        So, nothing personal in asking you to show your sources (*) it seems that your standard of evidence (consistent with) is a lot lower than mine. Or maybe, like me when I first heard that the ‘science is settled’, I just assumed that all this obvious preliminary work had been done and dusted years ago. Until I started to really look for it. And it hasn’t.

        But I’m always happy to be proved wrong. Ciao.

        (*) and asking you to do it doesn’t mean that I am not tolerably familiar with what is there and what is not. It is others belief in what is there and has been done, even when it is completely absent, that worries me.

      • andrew adams


        There is a nice discussion of volcanic activity here


        including a chart showing a clear drop in volcanic activity over the early part of 20C and links to various papers (some of whioch are behind paywalls though).

        For solar activity see


        which shows a strong correlation between solar activity and temperature over 1150 years but notes that this relationship has broken down over tha last 30 years.

      • Latimer Alder

        Just a pity that the only paper that tries to discuss all three forcings in one go (Hegrl) uses as his base data to compare against the famous papers MBH98 and MBH99 which have since been totally discredited as flawed in method. And in its acknowledgments gives the following glowing tribute:

        ‘We thank Phil Jones, Keith Briffa, Mike Mann
        and Ed Cook for valuable discussions and assistance’

        I’m not normally one for judging somebody by the company they keep, but I fear that I am entirely unconvinced here.

      • QED.

        Here is “peer-to-peer review” in a nutshell: look at a paper until you come up against a skeptic talking point, then declare it discredited and stop reading.

        Sic semper Climatology II.

      • andrew adams

        Well anything more than a cursory reading would certainly reveal that MBH99 is only one of several paleo reconstructions used and does not feature in either of the illustrations in figs 1 and 2. Fig 1 also shows the instrumental record for the period which we are actually discussing (ie early 20th century).
        And of course there are a number of other papers which discuss solar and volcanic forcings.

      • Latimer Alder

        @andrew adams

        We will have to agree to disagree. Following the Climategate debacle I fear that any paper which has been so obviously influenced by that particular set of people has no credibility whatsoever for me. Their work and methods are highly dubious.

        But you mention papers by others that (independently??) refer to the same points. I’d be very happy to study them carefully if you give me some references. Thanks.

      • “Don’t mistake your inability to comment on actual science with rational skepticism.”

        lol, My comment was in response to yours, which contained no science. I’m not sure how you normally carry on a conversation, but typically, I try to stay topical. And Martha, that wasn’t a rant, but a simple admonishment for your use of a pejorative. It is interesting to note the response. You make an entirely inaccurate description of people with whom you disagree. You are informed of your inaccuracy and without addressing your inaccuracy, you move on to another. If you wish me to discuss “actual science”, I’d be more than happy (and capable) to do so. However, in most circles, it is common to start a conversation with the topic of the subject you desire to discuss. I’ve re-read your comment. What science is including in your statement and query?

        I briefly respond to your query, as you asked, and you continue your insults. Perhaps you should try to sharpen your reading (and interpersonal) skills and see where “insulting” people might also fight into the tactics that failed.

        I always enjoy having alarmists show themselves to the rest of the world.

      • “fit”, not “fight”…….Freudian?

    • Martha,
      Please find us someone who actually exists who believes the climate does not change. Please provide examples of their denial of a changing climate.

      • Kinda a neat twist on the word games alarmists use. As I pointed out, it was the skeptical community that was screaming the climate always changes. It was the alarmist community that seems to insist that it isn’t suppose to change.

        She knows its inaccurate. She knows its a pejorative. But they use it anyway and then pretend to be alarmed by the vitriol on the blogosphere. All the while talking about “scientific literacy” as if it is a license for such behavior.

      • Same statement as suyts, deserves pretty much the same reply.

        Of course there are natural cycles. It’s everyone’s understanding. It’s even in How and Why books for children, now.

        What’s not so clear is how ‘ This does not mean that the current rapid climate change is not caused by humans’ escapes your basic logic skills, as well as your knowledge of basic climate science.

      • Latimer Alder

        But how do you determine unequivocally that we aren’t just in another natural cycle?

        Or did they suddenly stop occurring in about 1960 – at roughly the same time famous treemometers stopped being ‘proxies’ for something or other?

      • “Unequivocally?” Way to move the goal posts.

        The main problem with the “natural cycle” argument is that it doesn’t mean anything. Natural cycle of what? Caused by what? The climate warms because something causes it to warm, not just for S&G. Something that could cause average temps to warm 0.74 ± 0.18 ° K over a century would leave a fingerprint, don’t you think?

        Saying “what if it’s natural cycles” is equivalent to saying “what if it’s unicorn farts.” Until you can propose some test for it that’s falsifiable, it’s just a guess.

      • John Costigane

        Surely the climate has cyclical patterns of decades, centuries and millenia. The linear disaster scenario of the ‘hockey stick’ is pure fiction.

      • It does, and don’t call me Shirley.

        The very, very basic fact you seem to be overlooking is that these patterns are caused by something. Internal variability is caused by redistributing the heat content in the oceans and atmosphere. What’s happening now is that there is more heat in the system.

        If the atmosphere was getting warmer and the ocean was getting cooler, you’d have some evidence of a periodic or quasi-periodic climate pattern. It’s not.

        Where are the invisible farting unicorns? Find them, and win a Nobel.

      • John Costigane


        Climatology is too immature to comprehend all the factors which cause climate change. Assuming it is mostly CO2 has not been proven beyond all reasonable doubt.

        In the meantime, the scare-mongering nonsense has been shown to be baseless. What does that tell you?

      • Dude, are you using, like, an online skeptic phrase generator? How is what you wrote in any way responsive to what I wrote?

      • John Costigane


        I choose my form of reply. Answer my last question truthfully!

      • You may “choose your form of reply,” but I am expected to respond to your demands?

      • John Costigane


        It is simple question which will inform me of your insights.

      • What simple question? “the scare-mongering nonsense has been shown to be baseless. What does that tell you?” That’s your idea of a simple question?

        If I don’t accept your premise “the scare-mongering nonsense has been shown to be baseless,” then in what way can I answer the question “what does that tell you?”

        Usually, when posing a loaded question, you structure it in a way so the respondent can actually form an answer.

      • John Costigane


        I will try another approach.

        What do you think of Terry Oldberg’s disambiguation process to improve climatology?

      • Don’t know enough about it to comment.

      • Latimer Alder

        OK. What caused the warming in prior centuries? It did happen, despite attempts to pretend otherwise.

        It is a simple logical proposition. If there was warming that we can’t explain the cause of a thousand or five hundred years ago, how do we know that what we see today is not from the same cause?

        I’m not trying to say what that cause was – it could be prayer, it could be unicorn farts it could be volcanoes or Mankovithc cycles or just a plain old chaotoc system rearranging itself as they are prone to do ..it is irrelevant what it is but just asking

        ‘how do we actually know that it’s not the same this time’?

      • Latimer Alder

        I am not arguing from ignorance.

        I am asking the question – *how* do we know? Simple logical proposition.

        But you don’t have an answer. I have to conclude that we don’t actually know.


      • The argument from ignorance is the argument “it must be CO2 because we can’t think of anything else that it could be.”

      • PDA,
        Perhaps you should reconsider the implications of what you are saying?
        You are changing the null hypothesis to uselessness.
        ‘Natural climate’ is what we have had until human industrial technology.
        So the question is are any changes during the past ~150 years or so outside the ranges of historical variability in climate/weather patterns?
        the answer is ‘no’.
        So the believer community is twisting every word and phrase and from the record doctoring data and suppressing results, to get around that inconvenient truth.
        The difference between natural climate and unicorns is that we have a reliable history of climate.
        But the climate apocalypse, like the unicorn, exists only in mythology.

      • the question is are any changes during the past ~150 years or so outside the ranges of historical variability in climate/weather patterns?

        Why is that the question? It was 15° – 20° warmer in the Early Triassic than today. You’re saying that it has to get 21° warmer before we even consider anthropogenic causes.

        Why even come here and comment if you’re not going to think things through? You have to figure that somebody is going to notice that you’re just parroting things you read on other sites and barely understand.

      • No, PDA, you’re off-base. If AGW hypothesis is to be considered a scientific proposition then it must meet at least the most basic rules, including the null hypothesis. Unless and until then, it’s indistinguishable from pseudo-science. Nobody is necessarily arguing that the AGW hypothesis is pseudo-science (as far as I know, though I think we’re generally agreed that hiding the decline is pseudo-scientific), but as far as I know nobody has yet offered the AGW hypothesis in strictly scientific terms. If you know where the basic AGW hypothesis has been tested against the null hypothesis, do please point us the way. We’re eager to see it.

      • “The main problem with the “natural cycle” argument is that it doesn’t mean anything. Natural cycle of what? Caused by what?”

        Of nature. By nature. For goodness sake, have you any idea how tentative your argument reads? If nature always changed the behaviour of the climate, you have to substantiate any claim that what was always naturally cyclical is no longer naturally cyclical and is instead linear and man-made.

        You have to do this in the face of evidence that the most recent 12 years out of the last 50 years – i.e. ~25% of the post 1960 period being argued to be anthropogenic warming where it has in fact NOT been warming.

        It’s natural cycles. Show it isn’t, in accordance with the processes demanded by the Scientific Method, or stick with pseudo-scientific claims like Trenberth’s AGW equivalent of “let’s presume that God exists, now it’s up to the agnostics to prove he doesn’t”.

      • Actually, no, I’ll correct that. Trenberth’s attempt to shift the burden of proof is RELIGIOUS, not merely pseudo-scientific.

        There’s not even any pretence about Trenberth’s affront to scientific traditions. He’s a very religious man.

      • Choosing the way the question is posed is not an issue of science, it is an issue depending only on the way the results are used. For each way of using the results, we need different questions. In other words it is not a question of science, but of metascience.

        Trenberth may present his proposal as a citizen, and others can present their questions as citizens. Neither side is logically stronger than the other, it is all about questions (but when the question is posed, then the right way of answering it can be found based on logical thinking).

        I do not like the emphasis put on hypotheses testing. It does not correspond to those questions, I consider important. For them I want to understanding on the likelihood of all the alternatives, not proof or disproof of any single hypothesis. Presenting the results as PDF’s would satisfy my wishes perfectly, if I would have more confidence on them. Now I consider more descriptive ways of explaining factors affecting the estimates the best form of information available.

      • “Natural cycle of nature” makes no sense, as even you can clearly see.

        What is the test for “nature?” Spell it out, in specific terms.

      • Latimer, you wrote earlier, “how do we uniquely determine what factor or combination of factors is responsible?” As this seems to be a key defect in the CAGW case, I hope you will not mind if I suggest the use of the word “disambiguate” to describe this task. As in “How do we disambiguate the factors?” Ambiguity, and the refusal of warmists to concede that it exists in their theory, is surely the heart of this matter?

      • Latimer Alder


        Disambiguate is a splendid word! I’ll pinch it from you in future if I may :-)

      • Of course you may. Climate “science” will provide many opportunities for you to use it…

      • Latimer Alder


        ‘This does not mean that the current rapid climate change is not caused by humans’

        And nobody claimed that it did. But neither does it show the opposite – that rapid climate change *is* caused by humans’. But you seem happy to accept this without much supporting evidence other than ‘we can’t think of anything else’. Why?

    • The authors make nothing in the way of scientific claims other than one specious claim that evidence for AGW will grow. Your assessment of their scientific qualifications is irrelevant.

      What is interesting is their dismissal of the Ecotopian fantasies of the Greens.

      • And when you take away a person’s fantasies, they very often turn vicious.

  53. that’s ‘People can hold positions on important issues that they do (or do not) support with information and good reasoning.

  54. Part of my self-image is that of a conservationist/environmentalist. It probably began with my love of all things outdoors as a kid and love and fascination with all the critters I encountered. When I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1963, she presented a unifying concept for my feelings.
    I have been a member of Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Sierra Club, and a dozen or more envronmental organizations. I still am, although their emphases on global warming and climate change, as opposed to conservation and biodiversity environmentalism has been a bitter pill that creates in me the kind of depression that CAGWers must feel by the growing criticism of their save-the-world perspective. I lead hikes and teach field biology classes. My belief that the environmental movement has been hijacked by the CAGW movement is anathema to most of my fellow greens, and I become a pariah if I state my perspective which is also based on a lifelong love. You see, when I was 11 years old in 1952, my favorite birthday present was the Department of Commerce daily weather maps which my grandparents gave me. That subscription was the beginning of 59 years of interest and study of weather and climate. So here I am, an environmentalist whose love of nature and science, makes me sad, makes me depressed and brings tears to my eyes.

    • Latimer Alder

      I could almost feel sorry for you, given the genuine sadness that you feel for something you believe in very strongly.

      But, by your own statements, you are or have been a member of a dozen or more ‘environmental’ groups. If they have been wrongly hijacked by alarmists, then you have been complicit in that hijacking. Your contributions have been used to spread Alarmist propaganda, and to generally give environmentalism a bad name. You did not stand up to stop them, because you did not wish your friends to be upset.

      So from a personal perspective, I hope you fell better soon. From an organisational point of view you thoroughly deserve everything you get.

      • David Bailey

        I wish you hadn’t scoffed at Doug – who may have faught hard against the hijacking of the movement by AGW – he sounds genuine to me.

        Almost everyone has a bit of environmental concern in them. Nobody wants:

        Their wild spaces despoiled by rubbish.

        Terrorists to have access to nuclear materials.

        Heavy metal, or other chemical pollution (not CO2) – particularly of drinking water.


        We will still need an environmental movement after this is over.

        It is silly to just use the word green as a term of abuse. I myself had only vaguely wondered about the increasingly strident messages coming from “the worlds scientists” until those emails got released, and stored by Wiki Leaks – which would hardly waste space with uncontentious material!

        It is the scientists and politicians who have knowingly mislead here – they are to blame.

      • I also consider myself an environmentalist and conservationist, but I am a climate sceptic owing to the disparity between the present state of the science and the extreme claims that pour from it (with their associated overconfidences). I can only conclude from this that some scientists have done the cause of environmentalism an immeasurable amount of harm in their efforts to superimpose their own ideologies on the environmentalist cause. The result is the abuse of centuries-old traditions of scientific rigour and I find this insufferable.

        The harm to both environmentalism and science is ongoing and as yet not fully quantified, but until both hard science and environmentalism disassociate themselves fully from the pseudo-scientific practices of some high-profile climate scientists, that harm can only continue to build.

        One cannot, in good conscience, commit the world to flawed environmental policies any more than one can honestly sell bread that you realise was made from weevil-riddled flour. But acknowledging that you have a bad batch of flour is not the same as declaring that the act of baking bread is wrong.

        Environmentalists and hard scientists both need to acknowledge that their product has been contaminated. This is now a matter of survival for both, and the only way forward is to commit, ruthlessly and without reservation, to cleaning house as part of the effort necessary to re-establish their credibility.

    • Jeffrey Davis


      Doug, that’s the saddest story I’ve ever heard. I mean, you’ve spent all that time and watched all those habitats get destroyed by industrialism and toward the end of your watch on the world, what you’ve come away with from all that is that worrying about global warming is worse.


      That’s just heartbreaking.

    • John Costigane


      Thanks for sharing your perspective. I hope other environmentalists, of all ages, echo this sentiment by adding their voices here. Scepticism is a broad church and we have some inconvenient allies but the end is just too important to worry about the fringe element.

    • Doug you are nearly my age, and your environmentalism follows a course familiar to me from my close family – which makes what I have to say no easier.

      I too remember the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and the avid reception given it by middle-class opinion in Britain. I remember, however, what I now call my b-s meter, telling me that there was too much relish in the way the message of naughty man stuffing up Mother Earth (we hadn’t heard of Gaia then) was being swallowed. That suspicion, that environmentalism was at heart a rather complicated, post-Christian way of middle-class westerners saying sorry to God for being born so lucky, has never left me, and has deepened as DDT was succeeded by acid rain, global cooling, and so on, each pregnancy more hysterical, and no more fruitful, than the last. I got used to seeing them come and go, at the rate of about one every seven years. They were idiotic, but not never really matched Silent Spring for lethal portent, so the social cost of dissent was never worth while.

      Until CAGW. CAGW was different. It was the first of these lunatic fantasies to actually take hold of both sides of politics. There was a real danger, this time, that the loonies could take over the asylum. That was the point at which I sat up and started to ask where I could see these models – where could I see the comparison between predictions, many of which were well past maturity, and observed outcomes? And what happened to the Null Hypothesis? Then came Climategate, and the rest is non doubt familiar.

      But it all stands on the broad shoulders of Rachel Carson.

      I have many times on this blog and elsewhere named SS as the seminal work in the lexicon of post-war, post-Christian environmental angst. The counter-enlightenment it has spawned, with its dogmatic misanthropy and contempt for scientific method, is now bearing fruit in the CAGW fantasy you lament.

      So it’s fair to point out to you that the burden of SS has since been sharply confuted. It was bad, tabloid science, but it told a story of human turpitude, and offered salvation through abstinence – from DDT and its benefits – so it sold, in all senses of the word. In an early example of the egregious effects of well-meaning idiocy, he same abstinence was effectively forced on a bunch of 3rd world countries who had far more to lose from malaria than any real and effective threat posed by DDT. The cost in human life, disproportionately of children, has been variously estimated at 20-40 million. I am unaware of any of the advocates of this murderous policy, who include the egregious Al Gore, having suffered even mild public approbrium, let alone the public pillorying that should have been their reward. But don’t let’s forget that Big Al couldn’t have killed that many Africans without the aid of everyone who drank that particular Koolaid, preferring the warm inner glow of virtue to actually thinking about the consequences of their fashionable preoccupations.

      Having achieved so much damage without rebuke, it was onward and upward for the enviro-catastrophists. But it all started with Silent Spring. And Silent Spring was murderous bollocks. So I’m sorry if Latimer was a bit horrid, but he does have a point.

  55. Karl Hallowell

    The environmentalism movement has long had a habit of casting all its stories as morality plays with good and bad guys. A big part of the disenchantment with environmentalism comes, I think, from too many people being on the wrong side of a hit piece by one of the more noxious green groups like Greenpeace. Back in the late 80s, I interned for a couple of summers with Du Pont at a time when they were eagerly phasing out CFCs from the Montreal Protocol. During that time, Greenpeace put out an ad showing the Earth in a frying pan and some caption claiming that Du Pont was contributing to global warming through its CFC manufacture. That told me that at least some environmentalists weren’t serious.

    I think the bogus moralizing also has crippled them. For example, the tizzy over whether disposable or reusable diapers were better. Pollution-wise there isn’t significant difference. But reusable diapers require more dirty work. In my view, it didn’t matter to many environmentalists whether their activities really helped or not. The sacrifice of the extra work they went through was the only thing that mattered.

    At some point, people fall off the wagon. They realize that washing diapers, recycling plastic bottles, or some other meaningless “green” task is a lot of work that they don’t have to do. And so they stop doing it.

    Finally, environmentalism doesn’t actually make anything. It’s sole purpose is to throw roadblocks up to certain human activities. Sometimes these are justified, but the narrative is the same whether the restriction is justified or not. I have read a number of criticisms of nuclear plants in the US over the past few decades and the stories tend to have a depressing monotony to them. It doesn’t matter if the problem is real or vastly exaggerated. Most stories have the same hysterical edge, the same turns of phrase, and the same villains (the businesses or government agencies running the plant).

    For the most part, there is no sense of priority. Everything, big or small is an urgent problem, and there is a cliched narrative that anyone with modest experience in reading environmental stories can spot.

    Little by little, environmentalism is losing its followers. Older, related beliefs such as the Conservation movement (which worked to preserve natural or wild space) still have life. But I think people tire of a belief system that insults them for their jobs, their societies, their insufficiently modest lifestyles, and does so in a stilted, cliched fashion that leaves little room for thinking people.

  56. My compliments to Judith Curry for a well thought out summary. I hope it becomes widely accepted since her summary accurately summarizes the current situation and most effective course for future action(s).

  57. http://www.american.com/archive/2011/february/industry-has-spoken-will-the-president-listen/
    As the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council warned:
    The general regulatory thrust of the Administration with regard to energy and the environment will lead to less energy, higher energy prices, a disincentive to manufacture in the U.S. and massive job loss. Our energy sector is being forced into a regulatory vice—caps and restrictions are being imposed on how much America can use and produce, while excessive regulation on energy use and the industry are driving costs higher. Anti-energy activists in the regulatory bureaucracies seem accountable to no one. Unfortunately, small business owners and their workforce will bear the brunt of higher costs and widespread job loss if initiatives at the Environmental Protection Agency move forward.

  58. I liked the text very much up to the 12 Theses, which didn’t all convince an European. Looking from here, U.S. could really do much more without jeopardizing the well-being of Americans.

  59. I have already given my two cents’ worth on the 12 theses as presented by S&N (some of which sound quite logical, in themselves), but I think the basic problem here is that they start with the false premises
    a) that human carbon emissions represent a global threat and
    b) that the solution to this threat can only be found through international government action.

    Even if the first premise were correct (which is highly unlikely IMO), the second one would still be false. And that is the major fallacy in the whole logic.


    • And even if both were true – it won’t happen. China and India – both are building coal and oil consuming infrastructure – how soon does anyone think they’ll give it up given the price of building it?

      • It costs the Chinese $400-$500 million per year to pay for the fuel for a single 1,000 MW coal fired plant.

        A Westinghouse AP1000 goes for about $2 billion in China.

        Electricity demand in China grew by 400 TWh in 2010. The equivalent output of 50 nuclear reactors. They also surpassed the US in electricity production.

        In 2010 the Chinese put the Shovel in the Ground on a new nuclear plant every 6 weeks.

        If order to meet demand growth the Chinese need to either slow demand growth or build the equivalent of one new nuclear reactor per week. Unfortunately there is a shortage of parts and trained personnel to run the things.

        The also have a shortage of coal, they imported 160 Million tons of coal, a 30% year on year increase.

      • Yup – all of the above, harry. It’s typical of central planning results. But there are still people in the West who think central planning is the answer to all our problems. Or worse, central planning on a global basis.

        But the Chinese aren’t gonna stop, either – even if their 10 year plan takes 50 years.

      • China overshot their coal mines.

        The Chinese methodology for estimating coal reserves and future coal prices and production isn’t much different then the US EIA methodology. I.E. A geological estimate of how much coal exists within our/their borders and a basic assumption that mining productivity will improve over time.

        Unfortunately that method ignores reality. It’s just good business sense and human nature that the most inexpensively extractable coal nearest major population centers will be extracted first.

        Coal costs a lot to transport and coal seam thickness and depth effects the cost of mining.

        The cost of a ton of Wyoming coal dominates US EIA figures. Unfortunately at 3 cents/ton mile for rail, transporting that coal to Florida or New Jersey where a lot of the people live ends up costing $60/ton. Trains run on diesel and diesel fuel isn’t getting cheaper.

        China has the same problem. A huge chunk of their coal reserves are in Xinjiang Province. Which is a long way from Beijing or Shanghai.

        It has taken a little while but the provinces where most of the people live in China have realized that nuclear power is cheaper then coal shipped all the way from Xinjiang Province and are actively working on ‘saving their wallets’. It’ll take some time for the Chinese to spin up their nuclear energy infrastructure but it will happen.

        The same is happening in the US Southeast.

        Eventually the politicians in the US Northeast will announce with heavy heart that the glorious plan to build a Utopian paradise with solar panels and windmills has failed and they have no choice but to build nuclear power plants, just as the UK politicians have.

      • harrywr2
        “admit defeat…..just as the UK politicians have.”

        Have they? Since when?

      • If you haven’t noticed, the UK politicians have been weaseling away at getting 20 GW worth of nuclear power plants built in the UK since the new government formed.

        Here we go, when your energy Secretary isn’t blathering on endlessly about windmills he’s quietly off visiting proposed nuclear power sites.

        All the while public consultation periods end and the UK moves closer to having some nice new nuclear power plants.

        Here we go, some big money is already purchasing land for those nice new nuclear reactors.
        ‘German nuclear power consortium Horizon, made up of utilities RWE RWEg.DE and EON EONg.DE, purchased sites at Oldbury and Wylfa to build up to 6,000 MW of new nuclear capacity by 2025.’

  60. feet2thefire

    “Others simply see three million current air pollution deaths a year as a far higher priority.”


    Source? (I gotta see what S&N pull out of their rumps on this one.)

    Now this is POLLUTION, so if they refer to CO2, they first need to prove it is a pollutant. No starvation just because it is Africa. No drownings just because warmers think the oceans are rising (they have been since the end of the LIA) – actually since the end of the Younger-Dryas). Pollution, S&N, that is your claim. Nothing else allowed.

    Put up or shut up.

  61. feet2thefire

    @The End is FAR | March 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm :

    1st. I’d like to see a Detailed Explanation of the GHE. I’ve been searching for one for the last decade and the best I have found is that ” it acts like a Greenhouse, but of course it is not a greenhouse, it is complicated”

    I agree completely. I posted recently that the AGWers have backed off the supposed greenhouse effect and a fellow skeptic climbed all over me for saying they don’t call it gr3eenhouse anymore. But they don’t. They realized the claim was a distortion, so they don’t bring it up anymore – all the while still calling CO2 a GHG, of course.

    NO, it is not a greenhouse.

    BTW, Carl Sagan pulled that “runaway greenhouse effect” out of his butt to counter Immanuel Velikovsky when nothing else would do. In 1950 V. had said Venus’ surface temp was 800F-900F – and he was right. So they couldn’t let him be right, so the best they could come up with was RGE. But is isn’t valid for Venus (96% CO2) and it isn’t valid at ALL for the Earth (00.030% CO2 at that time and 00.38% now).

    • Holly Stick

      “…The term “greenhouse”
      The term “greenhouse” was coined for this atmospheric effect in the nineteenth century. A glass greenhouse and an atmospheric greenhouse both involve a physical barrier that blocks the flow of heat, leading to a warmer temperature below the barrier. The underlying physics is different, however. A glass greenhouse works primarily by blocking convection, and an atmospheric greenhouse works primarily by blocking thermal radiation, and so the comparison is not exact. This difference is well understood and explained in most introductions to the subject. Where confusion arises, it is usually the glasshouse that is improperly described, rather than the atmospheric greenhouse effect…”

      • The End is FAR

        Sorry but an atmospheric ‘greenhouse’ does not block the flow of Convection, the primary medium to transfer heat from the surface to the Tropopause. There is no ‘barrier’ for Convection other than the inverse temperature gradient that occurs at the top of the Troposphere, or Tropopause.

        The underlying physics is very different. Hot air does not rise so much as Cool air sinks. Sure hot air rises, but only because cool air is dragged beneath it. Trying to describe a reduction in emissitivity as a reduction in convection will always be a dead and a terrible misnomer. Describing science in a misleading way is no way to truth.

        Can you agree that since a Greenhouse restricts Convection, that the reduction in emissitivity that the so-called GHE produces should really be called the Emissitivity Effect? The EE is simply restricting Radiation.

      • Holly Stick

        You didn’t actually READ what I quoted, did you? Read it more carefully.

      • The End is FAR

        Sorry, Skeptical Science is very sophomoric so I usually overlook it. I did not realize that you were quoting SS, I thought you were using it to back your own understanding. Sophomoric in the epistemology sense, not in the behavioral sense. In any event . . .

        Pardon my asking, but I am new here, do you claim to have an understanding or are you simply posting what others claim to understand? I do not mean this in a demeaning way, just figuring out your level of understanding. Those that cut & paste far outnumber the ones that understand.

        I don’t want to assume your level of understanding but arguing that it is okay to describe a portion of a thermo system using terminology that does not occur in nature is a non sequitur.

        If you describe the reduction in emissitivity, Emmisitivity Effect, in conjunction with Convection and Evaporation you quickly run into huge problems with trapping a few or even dozens of W/m^2 causing any kind of warming. Where Emissitivity is reduced, Convection is automatically increased, keeping the system in relative equilibrium.

      • Holly Stick

        When someone asks for a detailed explanation of the GHE, I look for one. Then if someone REALLY wants to learn more, they can click the links there and find more details like this: http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-co2-enhanced-greenhouse-effect-intermediate.htm

        And they can check the references to peer reviewed papers there. The information is available, if you REALLY want to find it.

      • Holly Stick

        But since SS says “…A glass greenhouse works primarily by blocking convection, and an atmospheric greenhouse works primarily by blocking thermal radiation…” I don’t understand why you keep talking about convection, which appears to be irrelevent to AGW.

      • The End is FAR

        :) Fair enough :) If you can’t describe the system or behavior yourself, there is no need for you and I to discuss this. You have no understanding of that which you paste. No offense, you’re simply lacking.

        The fact that you understand Convection to be irrelevant to AGW, when it is the PRIMARY mover of energy from the surface to the Tropopause, clearly indicates that you are simply parroting someone else’s ignorance.

        Perhaps you know of someone capable? Certainly this is an educated AGW Advocate here that will Champion for Holly.

        Again, I mean no disrespect to you, there are thousands of not millions of AGW myrmidons, but if you can’t argue that you understand this subject then you need to be more careful that which you proclaim to be true.

    • The End is FAR

      What do they call it? I coined it the Emissitivity Effect.

      As for the Runaway GHE on Venus . . . Venus gets twice the Radiation the Earth gets and has no magnetosphere to deflect solar wind. It rotates backwards at a rate slower than its year and has a surface pressure of 94 Earth atmospheres. It also has a very stratified and uniform temperature gradient do to the fact the surface having a slow and uniform cooling. The entire surface is very uniform in composition making it cool very evenly so convective currents, like land sea breezes do not occur. The list goes on and on.

      As for Runaway itself, Nature doesn’t let anything runaway except Entropy, and it is only restricted by the most efficient means to do so. Heat does not spontaneously ‘run to’ a location, only away, on average of course.

      • The End is FAR

        Correction. I just searched on ‘Emissitivity Effect’ and found some references to hot plates. I do not claim to have coined the term originally, just that I derived the term myself by trying to describe the reduction in the Radiation Rate do to the ‘trapping’ of Radiation by so called GHGs (aka GHE)

      • I have tried to tell readers here, and on a number of other sites, many of the same things you do on this thread, and more, concerning the greenhouse effect. I haven’t seen any evidence that any AGW believer or “luke-warmer” is capable of taking in the definitive evidence, much less accepting it. I suggest you read my article, “Venus: No Greenhouse Effect”, on my blog site (just click on my name above). I have submitted the analysis of the Venus/Earth data to “Physics Today”, a month ago now, but they will not respond. The entire science community is suborned by the incompetent climate “consensus”.

        From my experience to date, you will almost certainly get nowhere right now with anyone who doesn’t already know there is NO greenhouse effect as promulgated by the IPCC. The radiative transfer theory they stand upon is clearly disconnected from the actual thermodynamics of the atmosphere.

        Also from my site (Nov. 10, 2010): “The temperature profile of the atmosphere is dictated solely by gravity acting on the ocean of air and the specific heat of the air, which imposes a temperature “lapse rate” (a declining temperature) with height given by -g/c, a constant rate, where g is the acceleration due to gravity and c is the specific heat. Note that this is entirely independent of the presence of any IR absorption by gases in the atmosphere. The available heat energy must be distributed in accordance with that constant lapse rate, and IR radiation is just one pathway for the heat to be distributed. Thus, IR absorption and emission in the atmosphere can only enable more efficient (faster) heat transport through the atmosphere, they cannot trap heat, or slow it down.”

  62. Hello Jeffrey,
    Thanks for your empathy, but enough sarcasm. Yes, with so many others, I have devoted a large part of my 70+ years to teaching about nature, ecology, and sharing my enthusiasm for our natural world. Despite one tribe of conservatives opposing most efforts to protect our environment with sensible regulations (one example: preservation of important natural areas such as wetlands) because they think the free market will do it better- ha- and despite another tribe of conservatives opposing environmentalism because the organizing principal of biology, evolution, threatens their religious views, we environmentalists have had many successes; industrialism and population growth are inevitable, but our American air is cleaner, our rivers and lakes and drinking water is less poluted, and we have preserved tracts of land, national wildlife refuges and such, where migrating species and all other critters have a sustainable environment. These successes are part of our legacy, and our organizations such as Audubon, etc. have played a crucial part. I’m glad I was part of that. Now, they have been mostly captured by the mania of CAGW. The UN, which I support for many reasons, was terribly myopic when they created the IPCC with a mission not to assess the science in order to understand the forcings of nature which create climate variability, but to assess the science based on just one forcing, greenhouse gasses, and to advice governments on how to respond to this alleged catastrophe in the making. The IPCC mission has shaped climate science research and created a very narrow agenda (and funding) which has captured the imagination of the “save the world” environmental movement. Of course, the terribly in debt governments signed on because say saw it as a new source of taxation. The IPCC scientists have mostly limited their assessment to studies that assume or project CAGW senarios; other aspects of climate science receive scant funding. The energy and money my environmental oganizations traditionally used for conservation, ecology education, and such good causes is now redirected too often to education about CAGW a la Gore and Hansen. The well intened environmental movement, captured by the CAGW frenzy, is actually undermining environmentalism. There is less funding of traditional goals and and more with politics- crafting policies that have hurt our fellow creatures and our own kind, especially the poor. The first strategic response to alleged CAGW was corn ethenol which resulted in the starvation , malnourishment, and suffering of millions. Can you think of any policy, outside of war, that has been so destructive. The second strategic response to alleged CAGW is carbon taxing/ cap and trade which has done to the price of energy what corn ethenol did to the price of food, resulting in more death and suffering.
    Jeffrey, if you don’t think “cry the beloved planet” is a proper response to this tragedy, then I feel sorry for your lack of empathy with the suffering of all creatures great and small.

    • John Costigane

      There have been a lot of improvements in UK rivers in recent years which have recovered from much industrial pollution so the situation in not beyond recovery. The most important aspect for me is the ‘dumbing-down’ of science which may be affecting the education of the young.

    • Holly Stick

      Doug, you give the impression that you think the IPCC invented global warming. In fact, it was a response to a concern that grew over decades.

      Read some of Spencer Weart’s excellent history website:

    • Doug,

      Your last two comments have been very thought-provoking. In one of your comments you stated: “My belief that the environnmental movement has been hijacked by the CAGW movement is anathema to most of my fellow greens, and I become a pariah if I state my perspective…” Perhaps a presumption on my part, but I suspect that your view on ethanol policy, which you are convinced has led to the death and suffering of millions, is (or was) also a closed subject with many of your fellow greens and that pariah status awaited any one who expressed your unorthodox views.

      As someone with “insider” insight, Doug, may I ask the source of this green intolerance of honest differences of opinion (not that such intolerance is limited to greens)–especially from someone like yourself, with a life-long commitment to the environment and liberal, if not progressive, political views? And, if I understand your personal revelation, why was acceptance by intolerant greens of such importance to yourself that it was worth your silence, even when their rigid orthodoxy clashed with your passionately held environmental views and even your very conscience?

      Please, Doug, I’m not trying to take you to task. Rather, I’m sincerely seeking understanding and I respectfully ask you for your “insider” insights–while recognizing the pain your candor must be causing you.

      • Doug, I neglected to also include your dissent from the “green” orthodoxy in the area of carbon tax/cap-and-trade. Again, my inquiry is a good-faith effort to understand how an obviously decent and idealistic individual like yourself got caught up in a CAGW movement against your better judgement.

    • I totally agree with you about the IPCC further derailing the environmental movement. Some time in the 90s Greenpeace and others changed focus from “saving the planet” to “sticking it to the man”. I too am an old school environmentalist and resent this new direction that is clearly triumphed by the IPCC. Not so certain about ethanol production “starving millions” though. Corn based ethanol is certainly not an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels. Neither are windmills IMHO. Just a poor misdirection of resources.

      • Latimer Alder

        The overwhelming impression I get from Greenpeace and WWF and Friends of the Earth and all those guys is not of their love of Nature, but a hatred of the rest of mankind and a desire to punish us for living in ways that do not suit their moral certainties. And a relentless desire to gain sufficient political power to do it.

        It is difficult not to draw parallels with religious and other zealots of both the past and the present.

        Just my impression………

      • Juxtapose this with the High Dudgeon you evince when anybody rolls out a stereotyped view of ‘skeptics.’ Does it give you any pause?

      • Latimer Alder

        Remind me of an example of High Dudgeon that I have written on that topic? I just usually ask ‘what are they supposed to be ‘denying’, and the topic just dies, since there is no answer. Not much High Dudgeon there I think.

        And I don’t get my views about those organisations from stereotypes, but from experience. ‘We know where you live’ was, I think from a director of FoE, ‘No Pressure’ complete with exploding schoolkids who dared not to follow the party line was from 10:10. There are plenty of others where their motivations are made extremely clear. And they ain’t pretty.

      • Oh, FFS!”

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘Oh FFS!’ was an entirely appropriate response to Holly making out that if one hadn’t worled in the field of climate science, one couldn’t understand the basics.

        It was not in response to a stereotyped view of sceptics as you claimed. But instead to a rose-tinted view of the great intellectual orifice that is ‘climate science’ in her eyes.

      • I was assuming consistency and introspection were beyond you. Always nice when your assumptions are confirmed. Ta.

      • Latimer Alder

        If ‘Oh FFS’ falls within your definition of ‘High Dudgeon’, then you have led a very sheltered and unexciting life, mon brave. Get out more.

        Try an old-fashioned pub. Or a football match. Or the Army. A racecourse is often a good place to meet new and interesting people who exhibit great amounts of ‘High Dudgeon’. Beware – some of them may not know how to crook their little fingers while eating their cucumber sandwiches.

      • Latimer Alder


        Perhaps I should have written edifice rather than orifice (above).

        But then again……..

      • I knew there had to be “some” reason for liking you. Other than the 1,001 prior ones. :-)

    • Hi Doug:

      You are my kind of guy who puts his ideals into practice. I agree with you completely. For the last 30-years I have been cleaning up (and getting exposed to) toxic waste so our kids and grandkids don’t have to. This mess was created by the so-called greatest generation who are now dying off like flies. Apparently, they were too busy saving the world from tryanny, transforming our economy and going to the moon. They gave us all the tools we needed to mop up.

      Along with people like you, we have successfully restored much of the natural health of our lands after the rape and pillage of the first 3/4 of the 20th century. This is the bright, shining success that the CAGW fear-mongers want to cover-up. Why? because our mission is not done. We still need to get particulates under control, improve agricultural runoff and human waste treatment and we need to restore our aquifers that are being mined.

      While rich and white America has been cleaned, the urban and rural minority and poor communities are disproportionally exposed to environmental pollutants. The last bit is getting environmental justice into balance.

      But no. What we need to do is to drop everything to cure the imagined maybe warm future based on computer models and settled science instead of fixing the problems right in front of our faces.

      You can’t get more Un-Zen than that.

      We should leave the CO2 problem to our kids and grandkids to solve. They will be much better equipped to handle it.

      • They were also busy giving you a world where you don’t have to speak German or Japanese – or Russian and Chinese. And a world where you’re still free to express your displeasure. They were willing to die to leave you that legacy – and many of them did just that.

        Are you willing to do what it takes to leave your grandchildren the same legacy? Because without that (as a minimum), nothing else you do will mean anything in the future.

      • Hey Jimbo, what part of saving us from tyranny don’t you understand?

        The Boomers won the Cold War BTW, FYI, thank you very much.

        I’m leaving my kids and grandkids a different legacy according to the zeitgeist. Keep living in the past, it suits you.

      • You missed the point, babe –

        1. “You” didn’t win the Cold War – you just got to witness it happen.

        2. If you don’t leave the next generaton the same things you were left (meaning freedom – and the attitude to keep it) then your grandchildren WON’T have those things. And they’ll speak Chinese or Arabic or Pashtun or… whatever.

        3. If #2 happens, whatever “you” do with your life will be meaningless to them – or to the world. Because the people who’ll rule the world won’t care about your environmentalism.

      • I’m sorry, I don’t get the fraidy-cat talk.

        In any event, the greatest economic and military powers right now, in this world, the real world, place a high value on the environment.

        Only a delusional paranoid (AKA Fox News Dittihead) would ever think that the Chinese or the Arabs or the Aryans are going to take over the US and Europe.

      • the greatest economic and military powers right now, in this world, the real world, place a high value on the environment.

        1. You’ve never been to China – or the Mid-East – have you. That statement is neither true nor intelligent.

        2. I don’t do TV – not even Fox

        3. The Chinese already own a large piece of this country. Not only financially, but physically as well. You don’t follow the real estate market much, do you.

        3. The Muslims “own” much of Europe. There’s a nice map of the no-go zones in France here – and a video –

        4. Don’t do “fraidy-cat” either – just reality.

        5. I’m a long distance hiker and an environmentalist (sorta).
        I’ve seen more than my my share of beat up land – and I’ve seen it recover. I’ve also kicked butt over it sometimes.

        6. I’ve spent a lot of time kicking warmists in the shins about the waste of time, energy and money that should be going into fixing real problems rather than into “settled science”. But they don’t want to listen.

        7. I’m done. I don’t waste a lot of time on dumb, either. Not even with those who “may” be sceptics. And, as my wife just reminded me, you’ve gotten too much of it.

      • A buck private in WWII risked his life for about 50 bucks a month. Just curious how much you made over the 30 years from your heroic self sacrifice? Or were you drafted?

        The biggest mistake of “the greatest generation” was in allowing their offspring (my generation) to become self-absorbed spoiled brats.

      • Speak for yourself Gary. You need to get out more into the real world because it appears that Fox News is eating your brain.

      • So how much did you make working for 30 years in the very lucrative environmental cleanup industry? Or did I miss your answer?

      • Well Gary, even my best friends don’t ask how much I bring in from my business. Now you are just being creepy.

      • I never expected an answer, the question made the point. Someone who profits off an enterprise for 30 years, claiming to be a hero for doing what he got paid well for, while denigrating those before him who made the ultimate sacrifice (for no material gain) so he could do so. Talk about creepy.

      • OK then

    • You didn’t mention Ducks Unlimited. They do a lot so preserve and rebuild wetlands.

      • Dallas:


        Hunters, anglers and the various crazy outdoor enthusiasts do a lot. There are numerous local and regional groups that make real change happen on the ground.

    • Holly Stick

      Doug, does it bother you that the same US politicians who don’t believe in AGW also want to cut funding to the EPA and thus increase air pollution?


  63. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    I just want everyone to know that I am the official undisputed champion of the borehole over at realclimate. It’s cheap though because now every comment I put up gets marked as spam. I hope that nobody overtakes me because of this spam issue.

  64. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    Al Gore lied and people died.

  65. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    I see you reporting the myth of “rapid climate change”. Considering that the grand dragons of global warming won’t compare the current temperature changes to anything in the past, I don’t know how you can classify it as anything. Martha, we’re on our third atmosphere…that is true rapid climate change.

  66. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    That link you posted might have been a bad idea. Martha might read that and conclude coal killed everything. The volcano aspect will be totally lost in her assumption thought processing. On a positive note, Martha might learn for the first time that coal is natural, not manmade.

    • Holly Stick

      Martha is more intelligent than you appear to realize.

      • Latimer Alder


      • Holly Stick

        Her comments.

      • Latimer Alder

        Her comments are equally free of evidence.

        And though she claims to able to judge that others are scientifically illiterate, she shows no signs of being able to conduct a scientific discussion herself.

        I am not convinced.

  67. Martha

    You asked for input from “engineers”.

    Well, I’m a chemical engineer, so let me give you mine.

    One should look for practical, actionable proposals which must be achievable and must be shown to effectively provide specific solutions to identified real problems.

    In the whole debate supporting the “disastrous AGW” postulation I see none of the basic premises above.

    The postulated potential problem (not AGW, per se, as a scientific theory, but “disastrous AGW requiring immediate action”) is based on seriously flawed science fraught with great uncertainties (as far as I have been able to ascertain).

    The goals being espoused, i.e. “cut global carbon emissions to A% of those of year B by year C” or “pledge to limit warming to 2°C by 2100”) are simply political posturing.

    There are no specific actionable proposals for how to reach these goals, including specific cost/benefit analyses for each action proposed (i.e. shutting down all coal-fired power plants in the USA by 2030 and replacing them with new nuclear capacity will result in a reduction in the increase of atmospheric CO2 of X ppmv by 2100, with the resulting reduction in global warming of Y °C at a net investment cost of Z billion dollars).

    The only specific proposal made to date has been to impose a direct or indirect global tax on carbon; it is obvious that imposing this tax will not change our planet’s climate one iota (no tax ever did).

    It is also not achievable, i.e. there is no popular or political support either for this tax, particularly from the major emitters of CO2 (China and USA) or for the underlying premise that there even is a serious potential threat from AGW requiring immediate action.

    This is not simply a “communication problem”, as some have suggested. It goes much deeper

    The guys who want to sell the “dangerous AGW requiring immediate action” story need to get some practical-thinking engineers (rather than simply research scientists, politicians or PR experts) on board, modifying the story, as required, to make it fit the above premises and thus be acceptable to this group.

    By “practical-thinking engineers” I do not mean representatives of corporations or other groups that hope to gain financially from AGW initiatives and simply hop on board for their own personal gain.

    Just my thoughts – as you requested.


    • manacker

      I am also an engineer (mechanical/structural) and I support the following statement of yours:

      The postulated potential problem (not AGW, per se, as a scientific theory, but “disastrous AGW requiring immediate action”) is based on seriously flawed science fraught with great uncertainties (as far as I have been able to ascertain).

  68. “environmentalisn” is an unbrella under which various groups take cover.

  69. Lady in Red

    The “death” is not of environmentalism; it’s sillineness.

    I just “came” from RealClimate (I cannot post there) to ClimateProgress (my last three comments hit trash after moderation) to DeepClimate (I cannot post there) and I find their world, increasingly, weird.

    ClimateProgress is au current, about policy, cap and trade.

    DeepClimate is deep in…. something and ReadClimate is so out of touch, popping out of the teapot with whatever….

    Increasingly, it seems the only places to get anything about climate,
    warming, of interest is TheAirVent, WUWT, Judith….

    RealClimate is…. sigh…. esp. sad, lost. ….Lady in Red

    • Yes, the appropriate term to describe Realclimate is “increasingly irrelevant”. I said so once over on collidascape and of course my comment was promptly snipped. The more censorship is chosen over dialogue, the more irrelevant they become.

  70. The engineering is summarized quite nicely in Thesis #5: “Rather it [solving climate change] will require us to rebuild the entire global energy system with technologies that we mostly don’t have today in any form that could conceivably scale to meet that challenge.”

    So if the greens want to get there from here (as I don’t), then the first thing to do is to discover and perfect these nonexistent technologies, which will take many decades, if it is even possible. Then we might have something real to argue about. In the meantime it can’t be done, so it won’t be done. This is the reality that is making nothing happen, not skepticism. Skepticism is just a response to the impossibility.

    Civilization is still based on fire and there is nothing anyone can do about that at this time.

    • Craig Loehle

      but but can’t we make our cars run on rainbows and unicorns? Can’t we just say no to coal? I want my perfect world and I want it now!!!
      /sarc off for the literal minded…

      • Holly Stick

        Start by reviving and refining the energy conservation efforts we made in the 1970s. We have been able to do this in the past, when deniers were not yapping about how everything we might do is useless.

      • Rob Starkey

        Holly– the efforts are not useless, they simply will not result in global CO2 levels going anywhere but up over the next 30 years. The issue is not the United States. If you evaluate US CO2 emissions by the same standards that China proposed (as a percentage of GDP) you would find that emissons have been falling. (really the have been pretty flat, but as a % of GDP they have fallen quite a bit. The issue is that 70% of the world’s population will be increasing on a per capita basis by huge amounts.

        Please be realistic

      • Indeed, conservation by American’s is irrelevant when billions of people are getting electricity for the first time. For example, China’s coal burn doubled from one billion tons in 2000 to two billion in 2005. The US burn is still one billion.

      • Holly Stick

        China is also investing in solar research and is likely to leave the US behind. Google china solar research

      • Holly, read what was stated and what you’re stating. Solar research isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. What we keep hearing from alarmists is that we have to do something and we have to do it now. I’ll repeat the above observation. China just doubled their coal burn, it is likely they will again very soon. Brazil, India, and the entire continent of Africa…..all of these places will use coal or some other form of fossil fuel, the alternatives at this moment and will be for a few years going forward are, nuclear proliferation or keeping them in 2nd or 3rd world status. Personally, I don’t think we can stop either. As far as solar and/or wind, they simply are not effective. Texas, Britain, Nova Scotia and many other places around the globe all proved this, this winter.

        Are we, the U.S. and other western cultures getting left behind? Yes, we are. Because we’ve wasted precious time, resources and capital on Quixotic ventures that anyone with practical experience with wind, solar, ethanol, etc., knew it wasn’t going to work in the first place.

        Specifically to the question of solar panels. Care to venture a guess as to why China is kicking our behinds in this area? I’ll give you a hint, REE. See what we’ve done with it and why. Oh heck, I’ll take the mystery out of it. The once worlds largest producer of REE, Mountain Pass quit mining because of environmental pressures. Fortunately, China (now the world’s largest producer) has decided to bogart or beaugaurd (was discussed at Goddard’s blog but no definitive spelling was ascertained) their supply and so it may re-open.

        I think it a matter of months before the EPA launches a full investigation as to how a once dead industry could be revived in the U.S. That damned reality.

      • The US spends billions a year on renewables and efficiency research, far more than China. But solar is in no position to replace existing energy sources on a large scale. You apparently do not understand the magnitude and trend of global energy production. This issue has been studied to death and #5 is correct. It would take new technologies and many decades to decarbonize the global economy, if it is even possible. Any realistic program has to take this into account.

      • Weren’t there a lot of financial and job related problems in the 70s related to the oil crisis? That’s the whole point. Most people aren’t going to be willing to put ourselves in a recession or worse to really fix this problem. So at a national level only policies that wouldn’t actually fix anything are being pushed so people can feel better about doing something.

    • Rob Starkey

      Please consider the following regarding point #5- If the US government funded the building of large numbers of modern nuclear plants to some standard design. That would greatly reduce the cost of these plants. The plants could then be sold to commercial operators. The government might well lose on the direct sale of the plant, but would be far better off when evaluating the overall economic impact to the economy.

      Another example would be investment in new technology such a fusion power. It is generally not economically feasible for companies to do the amount of this type of research since the technology is to far out to have a financial payback in the timeframes required by investors.

      There are others, but I think you get the point that there can be a role that does make improvements to society, and it economically justified

      • We are funding fusion and a host of other technologies. But no matter what eventually works we are many decades away from replacing the existing global power infrastructure, 80+% of which is combustion based.

    • There are still plenty of things that can be done while waiting on the unicorn fart problems to be resolved. Small Modular Reactors can be deployed quickly, Light Water Reactors, but their spent fuel can be used when generation IV reactors finish jumping through hoops. Natural gas for trucks and some coal plants is economically doable as long as taxes don’t get in the way. Co-generation retrofits of coal plants can significantly increase efficiency. Electric cars are warm and fuzzy, but if the greens can afford them, let them learn about the limitations first hand.

      Realistic tax credits for homeowners for energy efficiency improvement are fine as long as they don’t limit the credits to warm and fuzzy technologies. Subsidies, in the form of loans, can be effective without selling out our future.

      If someone thinks they are saving the world by painting their roof white, let ’em go ahead on. I would rather use south facing trees and make sure my wind insurance is paid or install a ground water loop heat pump (the air actually feels hot for those that don’t understand air to air heat pumps).

      • There are lots and lots of little things that can be done, and are being done. The US is building gas fired power plants instead of coal fired, but they still produce CO2. The point is these things taken all together don’t make any significant difference. Nothing serious is being done because there is nothing serious that can be done. We can’t even stop the increase in CO2 emissions, much less reverse it to a decrease. The scale of human energy production is simply enormous.

      • World electricity consumption is increasing at 2.9%/year.

        We presently consume 20,000 TWh/year.

        So we need to add 600 TWh/year in production.

        A nuclear plant produces 8 TWh/year. A well sight wind farm or solar facility produces about 2 TWh/year.

        In 2010 globally we put up 32 GW worth of windmills and 16 GW of solar panels. That results in about 100 TWh/year.

        We also put the shovel in the ground on 13 nuclear plants for another 100 TWh/year.

        So we are doing about 1/3rd of what we need to do to get to ‘peak emissions’ from electric power generation.

        Quadrupling nuclear power construction starts in the next 10 years is not at all unimaginable. Getting to 52 GW of nuclear build a year will give us 2/3rds of the energy we need to cap emissions from electricity production. Capping global CO2 emissions from electricity production somewhere around 2025 isn’t an unreasonable goal.

        India has had a late start on nuclear because they have been under a uranium embargo since they decided to dabble in nuclear bomb testing in 1998 which was only lifted last year.

        As far as transportation, all the automakers use a cost/benefit against fuel cost when selecting which technologies/materials to use in manufacturing. As the cost of fuel rises using more expensive materials/technologies to squeeze a few more MPG out of the vehicle becomes viable.


  71. Second, we need to stop trying to scare the pants off of the American public.

    Implicit in this is an admission that they were deliberately doing that. Interesting that they say that this isn’t a good thing to do for tactical reasons, and not that it’s wrong because people shouldn’t be told tall tales. The morality of deceit doesn’t seem to be an issue.

    I think they need to go back in the corner and think about this some more.

    • Holly Stick

      So many commenters here assume that thousands of scientists are lying and conspiring. Do you not realize how silly that is? Why are you assuming they are all dishonest.? Projection?

      • Latimer Alder

        Careers, status, money, tribalism and religious faith are often good motivators. I guess we can mostly rule out sex for climatologists.

      • Spilt beer on keyboard on that one!!!hahahahahahaha

      • Holly, it was the boys that Dr. Curry quoted that made the statement, not skeptics.

        And, just for the record, I don’t believe they are all dishonest. Some are just…..uhmm……what’s a nice word for simplistic………..narrowly focused! :-)

        Seriously though, it goes back to certitude. They can consensus all they wish. They can vote 95% this or that, but there is no certitude. And, I suspect, the dishonesty doesn’t go towards others, in most cases, but rather towards themselves.

        One can’t quantify weather, much less climate and this is their attempt at such a venture.

  72. Restore Scientific Integrity and
    Avoid Death of Environmentalism

    Before discarding our effort in previous posts to find agreement between promoters and skeptics of AGW, I asked Professor Curry on Agreeing(?): Part II


    To invite Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, President of the US National Academy of Sciences, to join us and address the basic issue:

    Why were public tax funds – intended to generate reliable factual information that would help protect our national security – used instead for purposeful misinformation ?

    Please post your your opinion on this suggestion on that earlier blog.


  73. ACC Proponents: I’m curious about your responses to the S&N article.

    Dr. Curry suggests that both sides can find material in it to agree upon. What do you think? Ostensibly, S&N are from your side of the debate, though I get the impression they may no longer be welcome in the environmentalist camp.

    What say you? If possible, be specific. I’m not trying to argue with anyone. I’m interested in whether the S&N article can possibly be a bridge.

  74. Lewis Deane

    ‘Eleventh, we will need to embrace again the role of the state as a direct provider of public goods.’

    This is obviously a stickler. The state, in what ever country, and for whatever reason, has never been a rational and efficient provider of goods. If that fetishism becomes embraced then we find tyranny. That is to say, there has been many times in history that it, the State, has become the only almost necessary provider but when, emergencies have passed and exigencies allow, society, without this State, has been able to take on what burden is necessary.

    That is to say, we will need to embrace, again, the role of individuals as a direct provider of public goods.

  75. End of Environmentalism – Commonsense

    Something’s just not right-our air is clean, our water is pure, we all get plenty of exercise, everything we eat is organic and free-range, and yet nobody lives past thirty


  76. Latimer, Mike, Howard,
    Good comments-all. It’been a long busy day, and I’ve just read or re-read all the comments on the thread, but am too tired to comment in detail except to echo the Lady in Red, above (3:30 PM). It’s not the death of environmentalism, but the death of silliness (I hope). I would call it more tragic than silly, but Latimer, it’s too strong to dismiss environmentalism with the epithets sanctimony and hypocracy. What group certain of its rightness isn’t guilty of that? And Mike I don’t see myself caught up in the CAGW movement. I’m doing whatever I can as an uncelibrated teacher to promote science and those same conservation and environmental values that I espoused decades ago before Greenpeace and IPCC and fears of CAGW. Perhaps you would like to see me more confrontational, but I’ve learned the hard way that I can be more effective without that. As Judy Curry has written a number of times, tribalism creates the intolerance, and in my opinion, there is lots of tribalism evident when groups differ in where they get their news and how they interpret the motives of others. I agree with Mosher who, I think, has often pointed out that there is probably more scientific incompetance than misconduct. I have called the hijacking of environmentalism by the CAGW mantra- a tragedy, not villainy. And with that I’m off to bed. Maybe more tomorrow.

  77. Latimer Alder

    @doug allen

    ‘it’s too strong to dismiss environmentalism with the epithets sanctimony and hypocracy’


    Hypocrisy: Al Gore’s jets and ten or eleven houses, some of them beachside. IPCC jollies in Bali, climate conferences in Cancun. Along with loudly wanting to make it too expensive for little people to fly to Spain for a holiday.

    Somehow the rules seem to be different for eco-warriors if engaged on ‘Saving the Planet’.

    Sanctimony: This one does it every time


    I’m sure that there are some truly dedicated people who genuinely do try to live a truly sustainable lifestyle and just get on with it quietly and peacefully

    But there are many very visible guys who don’t and give environmentalism a bad name. As the article’s excellent analysis shows, they ‘coat tailed’ the ‘climate change’ movement, and both will come to grief together.

    • John Costigane


      Echoing Doug’s comments. Basing your anti-environment stance on Al Gore is way off mark. Just look at the British example of 2 leading politicians, past and present, who parrot(ed) out the global warming mantra at every opportunity.
      All 3 share 2 thing: unwitting comedy and a total ignorance of the environment. I kid you not.

      • Latimer Alder

        I am do not have an ‘anti-environment’ stance.

        But as a highly visible an vocal spokesman for environmentalists (please note the important -ists suffix), Gore appears to me to be a sanctimonious hypocrite. And his actions do not seem to be untypical of many other environmentalists.

        Not sure exactly which 2 UK politicians that you are referring to, so can’t comment directly. Rest assured that I am doing what I can to try to bring sanity to our legislators here too.

        But the lure of extra control over the masses and extra taxation is enough to tempt even the most rational.

      • John Costigane

        The 2 are the present and past leaders of the Labour Party, roughly equivalent to Gore. They are all politicians first.

        I accept your ‘ists’ comment and agree about the negativity of their activities.

      • Latimer Alder

        Milliband and Brown? You could add Blair and Cameron to that list too.

      • John Costigane

        Right on both. Fair comment on the other 2, until recently where the issue has thankfully disappeared from the Cameron-led government’s priorities. UK media has played a major role in the scare-mongering, leaving us way behind the creditable 50:50 for and against in the USA.

  78. Holly Stick

    You have written about energy conservation and Rob Starkey has made a good point that energy consumption as a % of GDP has fallen quite a bit as nations improve the standard of living of their populations .

    To really find out what’s going on out there on CO2 emissions, one has to look at the figures.

    Humans emit somewhere around 34 Gt/year CO2 from fossil fuels, deforestation, cement production, etc.

    The key measure of the “carbon efficiency” of an economy is the wealth or standard of living it can generate for each ton of CO2 emitted. It’s no good to simply cut back on CO2 if this means cutting back on the standard of living of the world’s population. This just won’t work, because people will not accept it.

    The attached table shows the carbon efficiency of various nations and groups of nations.

    It is apparent that the European nations and Japan are high on carbon efficiency. There are several apparent reasons for this.

    First of all there is the relatively high population density of these countries. Transportation distances are short, electrical train systems make good sense for both human transportation and transport of goods.

    If we look more closely, we see that Switzerland (where I live) has the highest carbon efficiency of all nations. This is because Switzerland gets essentially all its electrical power from hydroelectric (59%) or nuclear (40%).

    Sweden is close behind with 45% hydroelectric and 40% nuclear, as is Norway, with 95% hydroelectric. Then comes France, with around 80% nuclear and 10% hydroelectric.

    The USA, Canada and Australia all have a somewhat lower carbon efficiency (around two-thirds that of the EU). One reason for this is the lower population densities of these countries and the resulting relatively high fuel needs for transportation. There is essentially no well-developed electrical train system and people plus most goods are transported on the highways.

    In all of the above-mentioned countries the per capita GDP and affluence is relatively high.

    We then come to the “developing nations”, where per capita GDP is still quite a bit lower but increasing rapidly. These national economies still have a lower carbon efficiency than that of the industrially developed nations. But GDP is growing more rapidly than CO2 emissions as these nations become more affluent (as Rob Starkey pointed out).

    And finally we have all other nations, which emit roughly 19% of the world’s CO2, but only generate around 11% of global GDP.

    This includes the billions who live in abject poverty and have essentially no access to an energy infrastructure. In these nations roughly 4 million people die each year as a result of indoor fuel burning and lack of clean drinking water. These people urgently need an energy infrastructure, and this will most likely be based on low-cost fossil fuels, rather than nuclear power (high investment cost plus proliferation) or more expensive renewables.

    If the overall objective is to reduce dependency on carbon-based fuels while maintaining or even increasing average affluence of the world population, this must be done by improving the carbon efficiency of the world’s economies.

    And it appears to me that this can only be achieved through a gradual conversion to nuclear power in the industrialized and developing world, together with the use of renewables where this makes economic sense, a shift from oil-based motor fuels to biofuels and hybrid or electric cars, the build-up of a low-cost fossil fuel based energy infrastructure for the poorest nations of this world and an overall increase of energy efficiency plus a reduction of waste.

    It is my conclusion that all of these steps will occur naturally as higher fossil fuel costs and more efficient non-fossil fuel technologies drive us in that direction.


    • Harold H Doiron

      Yes, it seems obvious that more nuclear energy production in the USA and around the world would be a big step in the right direction for many reasons that offer at least part of the solution for many “problems” we are concerned about. Is the environmental movement proud of its past influence on nuclear energy production in the US? Is it ready to have an adult conversation on this issue?

      Does anyone know where the big money comes from (I mean the original source of funds) to fund the environmental lobby in the USA? Could it be OPEC?

      • In the cold war energy was the West’s Achilles heal.

        I’ve never reconciled the co-incidence of the Three Mile Island incident(March 28th,1979) occurring within a few days of the release of the movie The China Syndrome(March 16th, 1979).

        In the cold war Germany was a front line state. Today Germany is dependent on the Russians for coal, oil and natural gas and is staunchly anti-nuclear and deludes itself with thinking they will get off of Russian fossil fuels with solar panels and windmills.

      • TMI was a trivial event. There were zero fatalities, and no contamination. It was like SS; lots of enviro sound and fury, signifying nothing.

      • I was 30 miles away at the time.

        Had the movie not ‘prepped’ the population for panic the whole thing would perceived as an expensive ‘glitch’.

        Unfortunately, the movie prepped the population for an OMG we are all going to die moment.

        That’s how the propaganda that comes out of Hoylywood works.

        You take a possible event, then weave in a bunch of unlikely scenario’s on top of it that result in a catastrophic event.

        When the ‘possible event’ occurs the public mind is predisposed to think the worst, so something relatively benign ends up being ‘disastrous’ in the minds of the public.

        Al Gore shows some ice calving off the antarctic in his movie and blathers on about 20 foot sea level rises.

        Then every time a ‘little ice cube’ of ice calves off some people immediately become fearful of an immediate sea level rise.

  79. D.A.;
    It’s just fortunate/disastrous coincidence, then, that said “incompetence” directs control and direct access of the planet’s energy (=financial and capital) flows into the hands of said bumblers? That seems like a seriously implausible H0, to me.

    BTW, as a ticher, yez otta shurly kno how ta spel “hypocrisy” (hypocracy) and “uncelebrated” (uncelibrated). Mebbe you weren’t never learned good enuf to tich stuff!

  80. Harold H Doiron

    There is a lot in these 12 points that this climate change skeptic can agree with. I could work with these environmentalists who have seen the big picture, understand the economics of energy production and use, and seem to think more like engineers than environmental ideologues who jump on every latest fad that has no possible chance of achieving their dreams.

  81. Latimer,
    Suggesting that I need to defend Al Gore because I’m an environmentalist is like thinking Judith Curry needs to defend Michael Mann in order to be climate scientist. No!
    Brian H,
    Thanks for the spelling corrections and ridicule. That helps a lot. BTW, take a look at your first paragraph and have some fun with its clarity and spelling. So yes, I shouldn’t try to quickly post a comment at midnight when I’m tired from a long hike, gone, a dinner, a meeting, and a movie IF spelling is all that important. It’s not.
    And Brian H, surely there is plenty of incompetance that falls short of bumbling. It’s more often the over-reaching that Latimer identifies as arrogance. Isn’t that what Puck, in Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, is describing when he say, “What fools these mortals are.”

    • Doug,

      Ever the contrarian, let me offer my appreciation for your vigilant care for the environment. My gratitude takes due notice of your own contrarian comments regarding cap-and-trade/ethanol and CAGW that imperil your social position within the circles you move . We need folks like you, Doug, with your commitment and courage to help ensure there is a prudent balance between environmental and development concerns–whether the developers’ designs envision housing tracts, mine shafts, wind/solar farms or “big” social engineering projects for the “little” people.

      And that you’ve been effective in opposing the CAGW “hijack” of the environment agenda by employing a quiet, non-confrontational approach is welcome news to me and I wish you continued success.

      Finally, Doug, like you, it generally irks me when someone corrects grammar, spelling, or punctuation in a blog comment. The blogosphere is not Mr. Milquetoast’s English class. The gentle ribbing of a malaproprism might have its place–but grammar-grinds are blogospheric pests, in my humble opinion.

      • DA; yeah, should have used parallel “of” and “to”, 4 shore.
        Sorry, the self-righteous get the full GrammarNasty treatment. IAC, clarity is the responsibility of the writer; sloppiness puts the burden on the reader to figger out what was really meant, and amounts to arrogance. No pity.

        As for traditional “cleaning the environment”-ism: clean efficient economies are a luxury good, as pointed out by manacker. In fact, it is one that is exclusive to industrialized Western nations. Name one exception; I’m all ears.

      • And just to note and highlight: DA said NOTHING to dispute the Null Hypothesis I implied: that the apparent “bumbling” was most parsimoniously explained as a money and power grab of planetary proportions. The apparent incompetence is a result, IMO, of two factors:
        1) Serious and competent scientists weren’t willing to get with the “program”;
        2) The underlying case is feeble, and the present shambolic pastiche is as good as it gets.

      • Brian,

        If it is of any interest, I’m not a Luddite–quite the contrary. On the other hand, environmental concerns are important, I would say. Balance is the key, though reasonable men may disagree as to where that balance point should be struck (For example, I regard snail-darters as expendable, useless-eaters while, I suspect, Doug does not).

        The best mechanism by which competing economic, social, and environmental issues can be hashed out, I recommend, is a vigorous dialectic in a free-wheeling, open forum, like this blog. In that regard, I consider commentators like Doug to be valuable partners in this blog’s give-and-take and I appreciate their participation (not that you discouraged such participation, Brian).

        I might add, that I am more suspicious of the “watermelon-streak” in the environmental movement than Doug, though I’m not surprised that many of the rank-and-file, like Doug, are well-intentioned idealists with many views I share. Otherwise, my instincts tell me, Brian, that your view of the big-green nomenklatura, that is shared by Latimer and others, is an accurate estimate of that eugenic elite and its aspirations to be our philosopher kings (that last, is my characterization, I know).

        Finally, Brian, you’re obviously entitled to employ the “GrammarNasty treatment” as you see fit. I can only offer, Brian, that having observed that tactic on the greenshirt blogs (I’ve even been on the receiving end–my favorite: “fungus-among-us” was corrected with great pomp and flourish to “fungus-amongst-us”–I’m not kidding!), I didn’t find the tactic to be effective, to say the least. Rather, grammar-nasties made their author look to me like a pesky smartypants, a jerk-off, a has-been teacher’s pet, a tenured zit-popper (and I took great delight relating my impressions until moderation took its deadly toll).

        For what it’s worth, Brian.

      • +5

        Reel men can’t spell. Spelling and grammar can’t build a house or fix a car.

        I’m sure what pisses people off is that Doug actually takes physical actions to change the world rather than sit on the critics high perch.

        “If” by Kipling and “In the Arena” by Teddy Roosevelt say it best.

    • Latimer Alder

      I didn’t suggest that you need to defined Gore. But to many who have just a passing knowledge of the subject, he has been a a very visible, very self-important and very vocal promoter of environmental causes. To the extent of hiding shyly and bashfully behind his Nobel Prize (not!)

      And they see his rampant hypocrisy wrt his transportation and accommodation arrangements and like it not. This may not be a true reflection of all environmentalists, but that is the impression that is given.

      • John Costigane

        Al Gore represents only himself and sadly is not unique! (See my reply to your previous post)

  82. I think it’s rather more. GHE is trivial, and overwhelmed by other processes. A miniscule expansion of the radius of the tropopause is enough to increase the OLR total to more than offset any “trapping”, and the evaporation-convection mechanism is exceedingly efficient at feeding energy into the tropopause. (See Willis Eshenbach’s “tropical thermostat” model for an example of how this works in practice.)

  83. Rob Starkey

    You wrote:

    Please consider the following regarding point #5- If the US government funded the building of large numbers of modern nuclear plants to some standard design. That would greatly reduce the cost of these plants. The plants could then be sold to commercial operators. The government might well lose on the direct sale of the plant, but would be far better off when evaluating the overall economic impact to the economy.

    Yeah, I agree with the concept, but don’t believe any taxpayer funding is required to make it work, except maybe for some initial startup help.

    France is already doing exactly that through EdF. There’s money to be made not only in selling the nuclear plants to other nations, but also in getting a piece of the operation.

    And, over here in Europe, what the hell, if the Germans are too silly to build new nuclear plants in Germany, France can always build them just across the Rhine and sell the Germans electrical power. The same goes for the Brits, but a bit more will need to be invested to transmit the power across the Channel.

    In the US, just keep taxpayer funding out of the equation as much as possible. The main role the government should play IMO is to start granting construction and operating permits for these new nuclear plants rather than dragging its feet in deference to a relatively small group of anti-nuke activists and lobbyists plus their lawyers.


  84. John from CA

    The solutions to the ecological challenges faced by a planet of 6 billion going on 9 billion will not be decentralized energy technologies like solar panels, small scale organic agriculture, and a drawing of unenforceable boundaries around what remains of our ecological inheritance, be it the rainforests of the Amazon or the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

    Schellenberger and Nordhaus are way in over their heads — especially related to #12.

  85. Rod B (not Rob B)

    Pardon an OT newbie proceedure question. I’m trying to understand the process of the site. If I make a reply to a comment somewhere in the middle of a 500 comment thread, my reply goes right under the comment. (Correct?) What is the expectation that the commenter will see my reply? I’m guessing it’s near zero.

    What is the correct way to add comments here?

    • Rod B (not me!)

      Most people in a thread will keep coming back to their comment to see if anyone has added to it. Some people also use email alerts. Don’t hold back; chances are you won’t be ignored even if you add to a mature thread.
      RobB (not you)

    • Rod, sometimes old threads pick up a fair amount of comments in response to something or other, upon which point i start a new thread on the topic. In general, you are most likely to get a response if you post on the most recent 15 threads. Unless it is a technical thread that is being moderated for topical relevance, many of the threads can accommodate off topic comments.

  86. Following comments on a busy site based on WordPress is certainly very difficult, as only 10 most recent comments are linked directly on the front page and there is no ready made solution to see the most recent comments of each thread separately.

    I found the problem so bad that I decided to code a solution to help myself. Using it, I can select any of the recent threads from a list, click a button to get a list of messages (time, author and link to the message), filter messages shown by time, authors name and words in the text, order the links either as they appear in the blog or by time of posting. Then clicking the message opens the thread at the point of the message.

    When a list of threads has been formed, it can be written to disk for later use.

    This program is linked in the Denizens after my introduction. There are some minor improvements after the time I created that link. Now the most up-to-date version is dated 27 Feb.

    A few people have downloaded the program, but I have not received comments, whether they have found it at all as useful as I have myself. There are some minor quirks, but they should not disturb much. One thing that I cannot help is that the whole thread has to be reloaded every now and then, and that takes time. For some reason, the most recent postings are occasionally delayed. Pressing F5 helps in the browser window forces a reload, which is sometimes needed, when a new link does not work immediately.

  87. Subsidizing clean energy that is not commercially viable takes money away from and discourages investments in clean energy that is commercially viable. These Twelve Points make up one of the best postings on Dr. Curry’s Threads

  88. A quick comment: IMO this thread is right on and the twelve theses are excellent advice for AGW protagonists. Even as a skeptic of sorts I have offered some similar suggestions (though not as complete or as well written) to them and think if they are really trying to win the hearts and minds of the populace and the political leaders, they should take heed. Too often their persuasion tactics are atrocious, sometimes amounting to not much more than “I’m smarter. I’ve studied it. I’m right. So shut up!” Though I do understand that often marketing skills and scientific prowess don’t mix and I wouldn’t suggest someone degrade his science to improve marketing skills.

    With one exception: like others here I think #11 is overblown. Government has to be the driver and provider in very few things — most infrastructure and military comes to mind. It can also play a helpful role in providing a conducive environment and maybe some preliminary research. But predominately things get done better and faster with individual enterprise behind the wheel, so long as the playing field and rules are set properly. In all but maybe one, possibly two, of the examples cited — computers, the Internet, pharmaceutical drugs, jet turbines, cellular telephones, nuclear power – the government’s role, while important, was relatively small.

    In the climate change (is that still the term?) arena I think government has a big role in the so-called smart grid (kinda an infrastructure) to enhance the use of low emission power generation and distribution. There doesn’t seem to be any inherent motivation for regional electric producers or distributors to develop and build such an integrated nation wide (world wide??) system. Other than providing a conducive environment and maybe some well-placed inducements (both very important none-the-less), I don’t see government as an effective principal producer (the current administration’s broad inclination not withstanding.)

  89. George Carlin didn’t seem to like environmentalists:
    Now thats denial! :-)

  90. Eleventh, we will need to embrace again the role of the state as a direct provider of public goods……Think of a transformative technology over the last century – computers etc etc ….. and what you will find is government investing in those technologies at a scale that private firms simply cannot replicate.

    Governments can only afford this spending because they take the money away from private firms and individuals in the first place, thereby destroying the latters’ ability to invest. Large enough tax cuts would soon fix this. Nordhaus & Schellenberger urgently need to consult an Economics 101 textbook.

    The whole thing is a problem caused by one government interference (high taxes), designed to create a need for another government interference (government investment). A bit like being mugged for your wallet, and then the mugger takes you out for dinner, and chooses what you order.