Climate Stabilization

by Judith Curry

Roger Pielke Jr. brought to my attention a provocative paper entitled “Discursive stability meets climate instability: A critical exploration of climate stabilization in contemporary climate policy.”

Discursive stability meets climate instability: A critical exploration of climate stabilization in contemporary climate policy.

Maxwell T. Boykoff, David Frame, Samuel Randalls

Abstract. The goals and objectives of ‘climate stabilization’ feature heavily in contemporary environmental policy and in this paper we trace the factors that have contributed to the rise of this concept and the scientific ideas behind it. In particular, we explore how the stabilization-based discourse has become dominant through developments in climate science, environmental economics and policymaking. That this discourse is tethered to contemporary policy proposals is unsurprising; but that it has remained relatively free of critical scrutiny can be associated with fears of unsettling often-tenuous political processes taking place at multiple scales. Nonetheless, we posit that the fundamental premises behind stabilization targets are badly matched to the actual problem of the intergenerational management of climate change, scientifically and politically, and destined to fail. By extension, we argue that policy proposals for climate stabilization are problematic, infeasible, and hence impede more productive policy action on climate change. There are gains associated with an expansion and reconsideration of the range of possible policy framings of the problem, which are likely to help us to more capably and dynamically achieve goals of decarbonizing and modernizing the energy system, as well as diminishing anthropogenic contributions to climate change.

Online link to the full paper is here.

In his recent testimony, Somerville summarizes where the push for stabilization has been coming from:

The conclusion from both the IPCC and subsequent analyses is blunt and stark – immediate and dramatic emission reductions of all greenhouse gases are urgently needed if the 2 deg C (or 3.6 deg F) limit is to be respected.

If global warming is to be limited to a maximum of 2 deg C (or 3.6 deg F) above pre-industrial values, global emissions need to peak between now and 2020 and then decline rapidly. To stabilize climate, a decarbonized global society – with near-zero emissions of CO2 and other long-lived greenhouse gases – needs to be reached well within this century. More specifically, theaverage annual per-capita emissions will have to shrink to well below 1 metric ton CO2 by 2050. This is 80 to 95% below the per-capita emissions in developed nations in 2000.

However, now that the goal is set, at least by several countries, science can say with confidence that meeting the goal requires that global greenhouse gas emissions must peak within the next decade and then decline rapidly.

The politicians have responded. The Boykoff et al. paper starts off with this quote from Tony Blair:

‘‘Above all, internationally, the best stimulus to the action needed to reduce emissions and create the right incentives for investment in clean technology will be to decide what level we should aim to stabilize green house gas concentrations and global temperature levels. This must be the heart of future negotiations on climate change, bringing together science and economics’’ Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Blair, 2006)

The motivation for the Boykoff et al. paper is described in the Introduction as:

This paper situates itself in interdisciplinary approaches that seek to examine complex and dynamic human–environment interactions and interrogate ‘‘how social and political framings are woven into both the formulation of scientific explanations of environmental problems, and the solutions proposed to reduce them’’ (Forsyth, 2003, p. 1). This paper analyses how particular discourses regarding climate challenges and possible solutions have ‘fixed’ understandings and considerations of complex environmen- tal processes. Through framing, elements of discourse are assembled that privilege certain interpretations over others (Goffman, 1974). Hajer has written that these discursive negotiations involve ‘‘complex and continuous struggle over the definition and the meaning of the environmental problem itself’’ (Hajer, 1993, p. 5). Furthermore, useful to this study is research that examines how particular discursive constructs have material – such as political economic – implications for ongoing environmental governance. For example, Rayner and Malone (1998), Demeritt (2001), Ba ̈ckstrand and Lo ̈vbrand (2006), and Liverman (2009) variously draw upon, critique or evaluate contemporary science, policy, or governance associated with discourses around climate change. Concepts like climate stabilization, however, have passed largely unnoticed into the lexicon of climate science–governance with little critical reflection. This paper seeks to fill this gap and illustrate that the clear political attraction to goals and objectives of ‘climate stabilization’ perilously draws upon a continuing predominantly science-driven and long-term focused climate policy.

From the paper’s discussion section:

First, some research communities may actually benefit from the focus on stabilization since it gives their research agendas an apparent policy relevance that would otherwise be hard to defend. For instance, paleoclimate modeling – while valuable as a part of fundamental research programs and process understanding in geophysics, biodiversity and ecosystems research – perhaps benefits from a prominence accorded it by its claims to help constrain climate sensitivity (Hegerl et al., 2006; Schneider von Deimling et al., 2006; Crucifix, 2006) that would be hard to sustain if the global policy community were to reframe the question in terms of the relationship between 20th century attributable warming (Stott and Kettleborough, 2002) and expected 21st warming (Frame et al., 2006). Thus, from this perspective one might not expect some researchers to embrace the sort of reframing conversation we have in mind here.

Second, the focus on long-term stabilization targets places scientific certainty and uncertainty at the centre of considerations of decarbonization and distinct from political perspectives. By framing action in such a way, further scientific inputs regarding links between GHG concentrations, emissions and temperature change can unearth more questions to be answered, rather than settling already existing ones (Jasanoff and Wynne, 1998). Therefore, greater scientific inputs actually can contribute to more complicated policy decision-making by offering up a greater supply of knowledge from which to develop and argue varying interpretations of that science (Sarewitz, 2004). The allure of the scientifically focused ‘climate stabilization’ discourses distracts attention from open political debate about the timescale, respective burdens and objectives of climate policy. Instead of posing these challenges and/or objections to particular actions as scientific ones, they can more effectively be treated as political ones (too), as well as ethical ones. Rayner notes, however, that ‘‘for good or ill, we live in an era when science is culturally privileged as the ultimate source of authority in relation to decision-making’’ (2006, p. 6); often, the focus on securing scientific certainty can effectively obstruct effective policy action (see also Oreskes, 2004). Also, as mentioned before, it contributes to dominant considerations of mitigation policies, often to the detriment of considerations for policy action on adaptation. Thus, assessments of anthropogenic climate stabilization have prema- turely foreclosed around fixed international policies on mitigation (e.g. Kyoto Protocol) and associated proposals/practices (e.g. targets and timetables, temperature rise ceiling of 2 8C and 450–550 ppm CO2 atmospheric concentration caps).

Third, while the stabilization-based discourse may have been valuable in building broad policy actor and public engagement in climate mitigation, it has also fostered sub-optimal aims and unrealistic expectations. For instance, the ‘Stop Climate Chaos Coalition’ based in the UK has now involved over 11 million citizens, spanning a wide range of environmental and labour organizations as well as development charities and faith-based groups. However, their mission statement includes a call to support activities that ‘‘keep global warming below the two degrees (Celsius) danger threshold to protect people and the planet’’ (Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, 2009). While those claims-makers – barring medical science breakthroughs – will not be alive to defend their claims, there is irony in claiming intergenerational equity as the ethical requirement to stabilize the climate, when the attention remains focused on stability instead of preparing our grandchildren for new relations with their future climates (through already existing commitments to a certain amount of climate change). By critiquing stabilization we are not critiquing long-term thinking per se; we posit that this should be an open engagement rather than one tied predominantly to scientific targets and notions of stability. More- over the name Stop Climate Chaos has a strange Canute-ishness about it, as though we either could or should stand together on a beach and command, in the name of good climate governance, that change and variability cease.

The paper’s concluding paragraph:

In this paper we have argued that the elegant attraction of ‘climate stabilization’ discourses has culminated in a focus on long- term mitigation targets and a cost-effective climate policy that does not address broader political and ethical questions about the timescale, actors and costs involved. It seems appropriate, scientifically, historically and socially, to question this discursive hegemony and open up debates on more productive and effective framings of climate policy. This paper therefore argues that while the climate stabilization discourse (and associated ways of thinking/proposing/acting) has been valuable in drawing greater attention to human influences on the global climate, it is time to explicitly move to more productive ways of considering minimizing detrimental impacts from human contributions to climate change.

JC’s comments: This paper touches on a number of themes that I have raised at Climate Etc., in an integrated and eloquent way.  I encourage you to read the entire paper, it should provide a springboard for an interesting discussion.

409 responses to “Climate Stabilization

  1. There is an excellent explanation of “Hide the Decline” here:

    As noted in my comment there, the behavior of climatologists in “hiding the decline” differs very little from the behavior of nuclear and particle physicists in “hiding the solar neutrino puzzle”.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

    • David L. Hagen

      Willis summarizes EPA costs for “climate control”:

      Total Cost = US$78 billion per year times 90 years = US$7 trillion dollars with a “t”, or about half a years GDP for the US.
      Total Cooling = 0.00375° C in 90 years

      That gets us to where we can make the final calculation …
      US$7 trillion divided by 0.00375°C gives us … wait for it …

      US$1,900 trillion dollars for each measly degree of cooling.

      That is an incredibly foolish program to bury in a hole our hard earned taxes.

      • For $1900 trillion we could build some pretty nice seawalls, raise quite a few roads, build a LOT of nuke power plants not subject to dangerous over heating from coolant loss, and I bet we could give everyone on Earth access to clean drinking water to boot.
        We are living through a tremendous example of what happens when we coddle extremists and grant them credibility based on the emotional content of their claims and the frequency of their repeating them. The damage from CO2 obsessed policies is going to increase further.

      • David L. Hagen

        Compare the Copenhagen Consensus that looked at prioritizing $75 billion among 30 humanitarian projects. Global warming mitigation ranks dead last.So why are we focusing public attention on the worst option?

      • Some would speculate that many countries around world like to keep the discussion going on the topic of how the countries that emitted CO2 in the past should now provides funds to those countries that did not. For countries like India, Pakistan, etc this would provide an excellent opportunity to increase the wealth of those typically receiving the bribes in those same countries.

  2. Judith,

    The current line of politicians figure they have paid into the IPCC and expect them to be absolute experts. After all thousands of scientists worldwide have contributed to their reports.
    This then gives them the mandate to generate policies that current are failures. Promises of “green” jobs are very expensive and short term. Attracting investors is a pipe dream when every other country is trying to do the same competing with the China engine.
    All this so far has generated subsidies for the rich which all citizens have to pay later.
    Food prices are skyrocketing along with the profiteering from oil pricing.

    Taxation and budget cuts are a certainty.
    When it comes to slashing budgets, I don’t think climate or science is very high on the list of items to keep.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      The AR4 report on mitigation lists potential policies and describes their effectiveness and their costs.

      Food prices are skyrocketing

      Crop failures will do that.

      • Jeffrey,

        So will raising taxes and allowing unregulated oil profits.

      • Unregulated oil profits? What does that mean?
        Oil profits are the best way to ensure future supply as profits drive investment into finding new sources.
        Oil companies should not be treated differently from other companies when it comes to taxation.

      • Apple computers has easily double the profit margin of ExxonMobil or any other oil company (including Koch). Why is there never a hue and cry to regulate Apple’s obscene profits?

      • Thanks, ChE for pointing this out.

        The top 5 US software co’s had annual profit margins 3x the top 5 US oil co’s 2006-2010. Apple came in at 16%, XOM at 7.5%.

      • And so will increasing fuel prices due to decreasing supply, increasing demand and inept energy policy.

      • Using a large percentage of your possible crop land to make fuel will also contribute to that cost along with crop failures. Brazil has been doing it on a large scale and the US has joined them. With two such large producers taking that much potential food off the market those crop failures are GUARANTEED to cause disruption instead of just being a tightening.

      • So will currency devaluation (qe 1 & 2), ethanol subsides and an antisupply energy policy.

    • Joe Lalonde


      Did you just say the IPCC was responsible for the civil war in Libya?

      • Bart,

        Where did you get that fantasy?
        A great deal of money is being made from the excuse of the Libyan conflict to raise the price of oil.
        You haven’t heard any complaints from the oil manufacturers that they are making to much profits. Have you?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        So, the important thing is to NOT develop local and renewable sources of energy.

      • What do you mean by local? The only reason that power plants are larger is due to “economies of scale” for production.

        Why aren’t you the leading proponent of the US building 50 new nuclear plants per year?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        I meant “Not foreign”. Should have said “local and domestic”.

      • Jeffery–I noticed that you did not answer my question about nuclear power. I really do not understand why people who share your views are not the leading proponents of building large numbers of modern nuclear plants in the USA. It is the only real solution that will not emit CO2 for several decades, but the “warmist community” does not embrace the concept. WHY?

        At the end of the day humans want and need electrical energy and lots of it.

      • Rob because in Jeff’s world the “local and renewable” are inseparable, so as to exclude the hated fossil fuel and even more hated nuclear. A rational quick response for the past generation would be to develop local resources. But people of Jeff’s ilk want to have the “renewable” take a free ride the obvious need of the “local” wave.

      • ICC warns us we must reduce fossil fuel combustion or all die.

        What better way to reduce “fossil fuel combustion” than to make fossil fuels very expensive (isn’t that what the carbon tax was all about)?

        What better way to make oil prices soar than to have a civil war in a major oil-producing nation?

        All fits together!


      • Much more credible than the AGW believer fantasies of wicked people conspiring to keep us away from acting on the gospel of CO2 redemption.

    • Unfortunately, Joe, the problem is not restricted to climatology.

      The problem of lock-step, consensus science originates in the process of deciding who will receive government research funds in Washington, DC – the root of the problem.

      Climatologists “were caught” promoting seriously flawed lock-step, consensus “science” about global warming.

      Astronomers, astrophysicists, cosmologists, nuclear, particle, space and solar scientists have not yet “been caught” promoting seriously flawed lock-step, consensus “science” about stars being heated by hydrogen-fusion.

      But experimental data – manipulated, hidden or ignored since 1975 – are summarized in a new paper: “Neutron Repulsion” [The APEIRON Journal, in press (2011)].

      Federal research agencies (DOE, NSF, NASA, ARPA-E, etc) and major research journals (Science, Nature, PNAS, etc) will continue to ignore irrefutable experimental evidence that neutron repulsion is the largest known source of nuclear energy until the US Congress investigates the role of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in using government funds for climate propaganda, as former President Eisenhower warned might happen on day in his 1961 farewell address:

    • I agree entirely Joe. What’s coming at economies are higher taxes, IPOs of more public debt and and deep deep budget cuts. Since global warming has slid dramatically down the priority pole as a voter’s concern, most of the funding can be and will be slashed by the politicians because it’s not going to cost them a significant number of votes.


  3. It’s always amused me that many apparently learned people think we can actually stabalise the climate.

    Interesting enough post, but you lost me at the Tony Blair quote. The man’s a criminal and you will not find many in the UK who think otherwise.

    • Lab,

      I still have not figure why a politicians decision is immune from prosecution unless your deemed a dictator. But the current line of politicians make promises until they get in office, then do what ever they want for the sake of the lobbyists that usually get a vast amount of funding.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      It’s always amused me that many apparently learned people think we can actually stabalise the climate.

      Small wager. Loser has to sing “I’m a Little Tea Pot” in public. Winner gets to gloat in the snug of his favorite pub.

      When the time comes — as it will — you’ll back some geo-engineering scheme. So2 into the stratosphere to block the sun. Iron filings in the ocean to promote bloom. Something like that.

      • I’ll see that bet and raise you wearing a silly hat.

        Even if the temperatures continue to rise again, it STILL doesn’t show man is the cause. Past history suggests that earth can be and has often been MUCh warmer than now, and the world didn’t end.

        As an aside- those geo-engineering schemes are so insane it actually scares me a litte. How deranged do people have to be to think that this kind of thing can work?

      • Labmunkey

        You’re on the internet and have to ask?

      • Lab,

        It’s just as crazy as some scientists saying that a small nuclear war can be good for the planet(one of the WUWT blogs). :-)

        Oh, by the way, our planet is moving away from the sun. :-)

      • Technically it’s always moving away from the sun- it’s just gravity that stops us shooting off into space…. though that’s just being MASSIVELY pedantic :-)

        True- and i’d wager you’ll see lowering temps once the oceans have radiated all their heat.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        it STILL doesn’t show man is the cause.

        I put a lot of blame on that 3W/m-2 from the CO2.

        You appear to have an odd way of rising to needs. Assume that we’re 10,000 years in the future. All of our energy needs are met by solar panels, wind, geo-thermal. The whole grab-bag of green technology. “Noel sur la terre.” Then, volcanoes erupt. (Not the kind that we know that belch out SO2. There are Limbaughian volcanoes that spew forth CO2 — and considerable amounts of ch4, if you catch my meaning.) Within years, temps have soared 7C. Civilization is threatened. Gosh, if we could only remove that extra CO2, we’d be saved. However, Koch-El, the leader (he’s actually just a head on a plate fed through tubes and wires like in The Brain that Wouldn’t Die) says, “No. Man did not cause this. Return to your homes.”

        What would you do?

        Men didn’t “cause” hunger and yet they hunt and farm. Men didn’t “cause” disease and yet they still go to the doctor. Men didn’t “cause” cold and yet they dress against the elements. Reducing the amount of cO2 in the atmosphere would help cool the planet. All it takes is the will.

      • What an absurd post. Sorry- but what the dickens are you basing any of that on??

      • additionally, i think land usage may affect (local) climate more than co2, in the short term at least.

      • words fail me.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        but what the dickens are you basing any of that on??


      • “words fail me” was meant to go here.

        So apparently my typing fails me too.

      • If we are still using solar panels and windmills in 10,000 years, that would be a disaster come true, not hope.

      • We don’t know that CO2 is the independent variable. Reducing CO2 might just cause less CO2 precipitation/capture from natural causes. In fact, on geologic time scales, CO2 appears to follow, rather than lead, temperature change.

      • Jeffrey –
        You forgot the volcanic SO2 contribution, which would negate your catastrophic scenario.

        You also forgot that in 10,000 years the planet is “very likely” to be in another glacial episode. What are you going to do then?

        You also apparently don’t have a clue about the problems with all that “green” technology.

        Labmunkey is right – What an absurd post.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Oh, c’mon. Have a bit of wit.

      • Sorry, but it’s been a witless day in almost every sense. :-)

      • Hey! I kinda liked the Ocean Spray thing. You could do a Disney World fountain thing to music with a laser show.

      • WOW, that didn’t line up right at all. It was supposed to be linked to Lab Monkey dis-ing geo-engineering.

    • Climate like the universe can’t be stabilised.

      “We look at our world and the universe with human eyes and more importantly, with a human lifespan. In terms of the latter, we see an apparently ageless and unchanging view but it’s a false impression. When looked at through the eyes of “deep” time, it is dynamic, violent and forever changing. There is no ideal static harmonious state which must be maintained. There never was and there never will be either.”


    • I would include Harriet Harman, Gordon Brown and the entire Labour Party and its membership in the “Criminal” label. They’ve destroyed the British economy (again!), wrecked the Contitution, imposed minority rule and rammed through Acts on the back of this fraudulent “climate science” which will ensure that Britain is rendered a thrid world cesspit by the end of this century – unless Cameron has the guts to repeal all of Blair’s “Green” legislation and a whole lot more besides.

      I wonder where Tony pays his taxes these days? With his million pound deals built on peddling garbage and his wifes millions from the legislation he passed to promote her legal practice, you can bet he’s got a neat little tax haven somewhere.

      This entire campaign is leading us toward failure and collapse – ZERO Carbon Dioxide is unachievable, its a mythology created by the likes of Greenpeace and the politicos making billions out of the fraud of wind farms and other “renewable” energy sources that do ten times the amount of ecological damage in their manufacture than a single coal fired plant in ten years – or, for that matter the fifty nuclear plants someone mentioned here!

      • To Gray Monk – because who knows where the comment will end up.

        I agree with your railing against the hapless Blair governement, whose singe policy seemed to be ‘copy the Americans’. However you fail to apportion the right amount of blame to the Thatcher government for creating the Hadley centre and encouraging the formation of the IPCC in the first place. Both were an attempt to move to nuclear power from coa dug by militant coalminers. However the Tories then completely backtracked, stopped the nuclear programme and encouraged the dash for gas. ie typical tory short-sightedness Your hindsight is fatally blinkered!

    • The majority of the UK population has demonstrated its cluelessness on many subjects in the last few decades. It has the government it deserves, as they say.

  4. We only have one thing we can do to the climate, which is control our CO2 output.

    Pretty much, it’s the only thing we can do that has much effect.

    Sure, there’s land use, agriculture and river diversion, but compared to the direct and efficient power of CO2 emission to drive up the perceptable risk of climate instability they fall behind by an order of magnitude. Certainly, they ought be looked at too from this perspective.

    We can only do one thing.

    One thing.

    How hard can it be to get one thing right?

    Of the countries that emit more than one ton per capita carbon, all of them have some sort of government subsidy for this emission.

    The size of this fossil subsidy is proportional to the size of CO2 emission.

    Remove the subsidies, fix a price on emitting CO2 (and NOx) and competing energy production will rise to meet the need of the market.

    This will be overall less expensive to everyone in the market.

    Scaremongers who announce that you have to subsidize fossil and can’t charge a fair fee for GHG emission or you’ll hurt the poor have it backward.

    If the questions being raised about climate stabilization policy are widened, they will widen to include the whole topic of public economic policy, which suffers exactly the same challenges: politicians win on appetite and lose on intellectual foundation. That’s our fault for letting them do it.

    Bill Clinton said, “It’s the economy, stupid,” and won, and proved it.

    America forgot this lesson, at a terrible cost.

    America needs to remember.

    • Bart,

      You forgotten the billions of gallons of water a day that is manufactured, moved, locked up in pipes and processing, or pumped into the ground for oil pressure or injected as steam into oil for gas products.

    • Bart,

      ‘We only have one thing we can do to the climate, which is control our CO2 output.’

      ‘Sure, there’s land use, agriculture and river diversion, but compared to the direct and efficient power of CO2 emission to drive up the perceivable [sic] risk of climate instability they fall behind by an order of magnitude.’

      Wait, you realize that we have made deserts capable of growing fruits and vegetables during the winter, right? Knowing that, how can any reasonable person claim that we only affect the climate via changes in the globally averaged greenhouse effect?

      More than that, who lives a truly ‘global’ world to begin with?

      It’s this type of cart before the horse processing that I identify with part of the real problem as far as adaption and climate policy are concerned. With substantially challenged information on the effects of land use, water use and other more local and regional parameters on climate, some are willing to make blanket statements about the import one particular contributor with a certainty not supported by science.

      And in the end, these blanket statements really have nothing to do with keeping people fed, safe, dry (or wet) or well informed on what to expect in the future. Figuring out whether building a dam is going to cause more or less precipitation might be helpful, however.

      It’s really mind boggling to me.

      • maxwel


        Your desert thing appears a little vague and/or irrelevant.

        I’d ask for details to figure out which, but judging the rest of your comment doubt it would achieve a positive result.

        Also, I didn’t say anything about the greenhouse effect or globally averaged anything.

        I said CO2 emission, and risk.

        The details of the risk are open to debate.

        That there is risk, we are far more confident is true.

        This misreading and leaping to conclusions (on all sides), isn’t that part of why we’re still talking instead of doing?

        Solve for f, where f(CO2) = Risk, and you’ll find the function has a positive slope. Higher CO2 causes higher Risk.

        Temperature change and amount and direction? Catastrophe? Extreme event frequency and type? Plant effect specifics? Animal effect specifics? Those things each remain at low enough confidence levels we need not agree how they will happen and may not be able to measure meaningfully that they have happened.

        Risk we know rises because you can’t poke a hornet nest without chancing a swarm.

        There is no well-informing on some questions. You want to know exactly how it all ties together? Too bad; Chaos tells us you never will.

        There is no point being a nanny to the feeding, safety and watering of everyone in the future based on information we can’t get.

        Those problems will be theirs to deal with when the information does become available; all we can do is leave the world in the best shape we know how.

        The information we do have now is enough to act on: we’re poking the climate with CO2, and the chance climate may swarm rises because of us.

      • Bart,

        that you misunderstood my comment with reference to human’s ability to manipulate the climate of deserts such that we can grow fickle crops in some of most unforgiving terrain does not give me hope you’ll be able to comprehend much else I put here, but I’ll do it everyone else’ sake.

        The major fallacy that you make in your subsequent comment is the fact that you assume ‘mitigating’ CO2 concentrations somehow reduces risk. It may change the risk that we face with respect to a globally average increase in the surface and lower tropospheric temperatures, but that’s it. It is not now, nor ever will be, the single risk factors that we use to make decisions about our future.

        Given that we can pretty significant affect the local and regional climate of specific places on the planet in ways that do not use an increase greenhouse effect, I’d say that ‘global warming’ isn’t even the most important environmental risk we can mainpulate.

        As I said before, how do we improve the billions of people who live today at risk from famine, poverty, lawlessness and disease by reducing the emissions of CO2? If we are going to reduce emissions because you and others deem the risk ‘too high’, how do you decide that the uncertain and unsubstantiated risk involved in worsening your relatively easy life from increased globally averaged surface temperatures outweighs the very certain and already occurring risk that the billions of less-well off people of the world face today?

        The problem is you seem to think that managing the risk associated a human induced increase of the global greenhouse effect will benefit all and impact no one negatively. This is a fallacy of false consequence. Every decision has winners and losers. There is no way at this point, given all the poverty and disease our world already faces (problems we can solve using existing technological development in the poor parts of the world), we can possibly say that the unknown, unquantified risk supposedly associated ‘global warming’ outweighs the risk poor people run not having fossil fuel-using technology NOT developed in their communities. It’s not even close.

        Unless you can provide a detailed analysis that clearly shows that even under the most severe conditions we’re better off making more people poor and at risk from environmental disasters that already occur will our ‘poking’ the climate, you’re pretty much just blowing a bunch of hot air in here.

      • “Manipulate the climates of deserts”? As far as I know, all we’re doing is taking water and putting it where there wasn’t any before. A lot of plants like hot climates so it isn’t difficult to make them grow if you have a source of fresh water.

      • maxwell

        re: deserts and climate

        What Karl said.

        Regarding the rest..

        You say I assume, I say I prove.

        You say major fallacy, I say speak directly to my proof.

        If my proof is insufficient explained, then point out where you don’t understand it.

        I’ll be glad to clarify.

        “..the fact that you assume ‘mitigating’ CO2 concentrations somehow reduces risk.”

        1. Where the statement CO2 level varies with Risk(CO2) level is true as has been previously shown, then yes, it is a logical conclusion that mitigation of CO2 level mitigates Risk due CO2.

        2. We do not hold all other risks to be equal, but also to decrease with CO2 risk. This much is self-evident as risks tend to inflame risks in consequence, but also in that the mechanism for mitigating the CO2 risk is not primarily a CO2 mechanism. The proposal is the free market mechanism, which is well-established and well-known to be superior to regulation or to free riding both.

        3. Karl says it best again, wrt your local manipulation of climate. A watering can or irrigation pipe is not a climate change.

        4. Your argument by assertion holds no water (maybe it has little holes in the bottom to feed the local plants?):

        “As I said before, how do we improve the billions of people who live today at risk from famine, poverty, lawlessness and disease by reducing the emissions of CO2?”

        Sound economic analysis shows my mechanism solves the problem you propose, while your recommended course of action makes it progressively worse.

        5. There is no 5.

        6. You err where you say:

        “The problem is you seem to think that managing the risk associated a human induced increase of the global greenhouse effect will benefit all and impact no one negatively. This is a fallacy of false consequence. Every decision has winners and losers.”

        Correctly managing risk always benefits all and impacts no one negatively.

        Decisions only always have winners and losers in net sum games, or net loss games.

        Risk management is a net benefit game.

        Are there losers?

        Proportionatly, the free riders who currently feed at the public trough on the taxpayer’s dime, and who also pee in the public well without consequence to themselves for their uncontrolled emissions, will lose in the short run compared to their victims.

        Do I weep for these corporate communists whose behavior is right out of Animal Farm?

        Boo hoo.

      • Most everything can be associated with some risk. The issue that you gloss past, as you build you contingency chain, is whether the risk is big enough to do anything. In your mind it is, so please enlighten oh enlightened one.

      • DEEBEE

        Google it.

    • “We only have one thing we can do to the climate, which is control our CO2 output.”

      Ther’s a bunch of different things we can do to influence climate. Nobody has proposed we can control climate, so I’d say controlling climate is a non-starter. In any event, the major independent variable is sunlight, not CO2, and there is no indication we can reduce atmospheric CO2 to proposed target levels.

      Why didn’t I think to propose a non-workable solution? Or better yet, why are all these people proposing non-workable ones? If one has a theoretical problem, take it to a theorist. If one’s car has a problem, take it to a mechanic.

      “Therefore, greater scientific inputs actually can contribute to more complicated policy
      decision-making by offering up a greater supply of knowledge from
      which to develop and argue varying interpretations of that science”

      In other words, everyone is trying to find the answer to the wrong question – it’s an ill-formed problem.

      • Harold

        Where you end is where my comment began.

        It’s an ill-formed problem if we persist in suggesting we can manipulate the sun, or that remediation after emission will amount to much of a solution, or that the other factors in this problem come to the same order of magnitude as that of GHG emissions, or that we need to analyze higher order outcomes in detail before acting, or that we’re helpless to meet what is after all a really simple one factor issue.

        The majority of people in the world, even in China, use less than one ton CO2 per capita, and could and would do so with no loss of quality of life, often at considerable benefit.

        In those monolithic states* where coal is being brought on rapidly as part of a plan, the reasons are different from the reasons a democratic free market would pursue, and while it might meet the medium term objective of the planners, will lead to long term misery for the people.

        *Places like Communist China. Militarist India. Corporate Wyoming.

        If there’s only one thing you can do, why not do that one thing right?

      • I think there are many things which could be done – some quick examples which could be done now:

        Increase albedo: All new roofing material, cars, etc must be reflective, for instance (this is practically free).
        Decrease sunlight: an IR (or full spectrum) reflector in orbit.
        Increase CO2 uptake: ocean seeding with iron salt.
        Decrease CO2 generation: Nuke and hydro power generation.

        The “limit CO2” mantra has little resemblance to a real life solution to a real life problem.

      • Harold

        Sorry for my gloss.

        I meant, of course, one sane thing.

      • Choosing a path that won’t get the desired results isn’t rational. That is, if the problem you’re trying to solve is global temperatures rising. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in using CO2 regulation to achieve other ends, it’s rational. I assume you’re rational, so what’s your other agenda?

      • Harold

        Again, I’m not trying to solve the problem of global temperature anything.

        Temperature is not my issue.

        Risk is.

        My proposal addresses the Risk issue exactly, sufficiently and correctly.

        I have no temperature agenda.

        I have little to no interest in CO2 regulation, and see regulation as inferior to the democracy of the free market.

        You keep saying things about what I’ve written as if you’ve read something else.

        Is there another language you are more comfortable in?

      • The majority of people in the world, even in China, use less than one ton CO2 per capita

        The Chinese burned 3.25 billlion tons of coal last year. On the order of 6 billion tons of CO2.

        The primary building material in China is concrete.
        Coal consumption in the making of concrete was 800 million tons or about 1.6 billion tons of CO2 was for concrete.

      • harrywr2

        You have the stubs of some great points.

        Develop them to full-fledged ideas, study some viable alternatives, learn Cantonese, and email them to China?

      • BartR,
        Your obsession with CO2 is nearly as revealing as your clever remarks about India and Wyoming.
        Do you actually think that managing CO2 is the best we can do to manage the climate?

      • hunter

        Who’s suggesting we manage the climate?

        I’m suggesting we take our stick out of that hornets nest.

      • Bart R,
        You are the one who says it is a hornets nest.
        There is no evidence of any hornets.
        Your side is the one speaking to the concept of ‘climate stabilization’. skeptics point out that is a science ficiotn movie plot idea, but not anything to do with science.

    • Are you kidding?
      Do you actually think that CO2 is the only we do that impacts climate?
      If you are serious, you are in deep need for education.

    • “We can only do one thing.”

      We only have a hammer, so let’s pretend that every problem is a nail. But first, we have to assume we have a problem in the first place.

      “Remove the subsidies, fix a price on emitting CO2 (and NOx) and competing energy production will rise to meet the need of the market.”

      Fix a price on emitting CO2, sufficiently high to force people to use alternative energy; before the science is certain it is causing a problem; before we are sure that such a tax would have the suggested result; and before there are economical alternative energy sources to “meet the need of the [government]. It is the government after all which will apply this “hammer” of a carbon tax to the problem, which is a thriving economy.

      • GaryM

        Fix a price on GHG emission sufficiently high that the distortions of aggregate negative elasticity of demand for fossils is removed from the market.

        Big difference.

        Where it’s economically efficient, people will still choose fossil. They’re free to. If it’s to their individual advantage, it will also be to the advantage of the market — of all of us — that they do.

        Right now, the market is so distorted that the unnatural condition of a negative elasticity of demand on the aggregate fossil market dominates.

        That is bad for everyone.

        And I still don’t see how you support not doing this, as the revenues from GHG rents go under the scheme I propose to everyone per capita.

        Are you complaining that the owners of the shared common resource — all of us — are not the right people to decide how to spend the income from it?

        Heck, if we had this scheme, and people really wanted fossil that badly, they’d simply spend their dividend on buying the same amount of fossil as before, and no harm done.

        How many people do you really think will do that, though? Spend their cash on de-subsidized fossil?

        You speak of this option as a hammer. It isn’t. There are many options. We have regulation, and cap and trade and non-revenue neutral carbon taxes, status quo, and countersubsidies and biomass debacles all claiming they are the one and only true hammer. This option is a scalpel.

        If you know anything about economics, you cannot propose that the status quo of corporate charity is the healthy option.

      • “the unnatural condition of a negative elasticity of demand on the aggregate fossil market dominates…”

        To use your own words, “if you know anything about economics,” you would know that “negative elasticity of demand” is not only NOT “unnatural,” it is the norm.

        “negative elasticity of demand” sounds really sophisticated, but it just refers to the rate at which demand decreases as price increases (you know, the old supply and demand thing). What is unnatural is the rare occurrence where a rise in price leads to a increase in demand. Fine champagne (or gold right now) would be an example.

        Your sentence “Fix a price on GHG emission sufficiently high that the distortions of aggregate negative elasticity of demand for fossils is removed from the market” makes no sense. The whole point of the policy you suggest is to increase the negative elasticity of demand for fossil fuels.

      • GaryM

        We seem, as happens from time to time, to be reversing our signs because we’re talking about different things.

        You seem to be able to understand the gist of the argument.

        In much of America, fossil fuel prices act as you say fine champagne prices ought.

        As the price goes up, consumption goes up too.

        This is an unnatural and unhealthy state for a market in a commodity.

        It goes on because of government interference in price decisions.

        It is time for people to demand the government end such interference and act positively to restore sanity to the energy market.

        Subsidy is not sanity.

      • Bart R,

        With respect, it is you who are reversing your signs. If you use a standard economic term like price elasticity of demand, you should really understand its technical usage. Yes, we all understand the gist of what you are saying from the context, but your economic phraseology is still completely wrong. It would be better for you if you just accepted that.

        So, what you meant to say was that oil has a *positive* price elasticity of demand (i.e. it is a Giffen good) because of government regulation. Interesting. As a former commodities trader, I also find it somewhat surprising. Any references?

      • cano

        Yes, I accept I am using the wrong sign for elasticity of demand, and I’m glad two people noticed.

        Going forward I will adhere to the terminology used in so far as I can. See the line (note that, although they are negative, price elasticities of demand are often reported as positive numbers..) for the source of the ambiguity of my usage, which I now abandon in favor of convention. Witness the power of consensus science. ;)

        It’s just so hard to stop doing something wrong once you start, y’know?

        Sort of like burning fossil fuels and biofuels without limit because they’re subsidized without limit.

        Not all fossil fuels always act as Giffen goods in all markets all the time.

        There are strong seasonal factors (home heating in winter, gas on long weekends in the summer).

        You must be familiar with these market segmentation effects, where no matter how high the price shoots up at the pumps going into the long weekend, the line-ups only grow.

        True, these particulars effects arguably do not demonstrate classic Giffen mechanisms, but the data speaks for itself.

        Maybe they’re Veblen goods.

        If you’ve seen a boy trying to impress a girl with his wheels, how is that not conspicuous consumption or status symbol?

        Look at the analysis from the wiki, however:

        There are three necessary preconditions for this situation to arise:
        1.the good in question must be an inferior good,

        This is the most difficult question, but strict and full analysis shows it true in some segments.

        2.there must be a lack of close substitute goods, and

        I believe this one, and its roots in government subsidy of fossils is self-evident.

        3.the good must constitute a substantial percentage of the buyer’s income, but not such a substantial percentage of the buyer’s income that none of the associated normal goods are consumed.

        Trivially true.

        I gloss broadly on the details, but believe now more than just gist is explained, and one can work out the details for oneself.

        Please let me knmow your thoughts.

      • perfume is the classic example of “Giffen goods”.

        If you sell perfume for $5 a gallon, you will not sell very much. If you price the same perfume for $500 an ounce, you are likely to sell more, and at a higher price.

        Similar things happen in high end restaurants, where they serve miniscule portions of food at extremely high prices.

        The key to selling these goods is the price and the exclusivity. It gives a misleading impression that they must be of extremely high quality, even when they are not.

        This then can be used as “status” bragging rights by the buyer. For example: “I’m wearing brand X perfume”, and everyone knows this costs $1000 an ounce. Or, “We dined at X”, and everyone knows it costs $1000 a meal.

        However, this is not going to work if you are to say “I filled up my car with $1000 a gallon XXX gas”, if everyone else is paying $4 a gallon for YYY gas. They will more likely think you a dummkopf.

      • hey guys…cool it

        here in the UK petrol i9s about £7 per gallon ($10 roughly) – of which about 70% is due to taxes of various kinds. It has an impact. We think befopre we drive. We assess whether we can afford that Ford V8. the prices here are not so far out of line with the rest of Europe. Look at the nUS use of mass transit systems. actually I was impressed by LA in December…the mtetrolinki was running at good capacity, even as far out as Lancaster. Carbon taxes can change behaviour. Just saying…

      • Graeme –
        Not to start an argument with you, but how many UK residents live 50 – 100 miles from a hospital – or their workplace? There are areas of the US that are larger than the UK where a significant segment of the population lives wit that situation. I live relatively close to my family – it’s only a 2.5 hour drive. And I live on the East Coast.

        In 2008, I was in Canada and Alaska. Many of the businesses both in the towns and on the highway were closed – because they could not afford the price of fuel to stay open. And the tourist trade ( a MAJOR financial segment in that area) just plain sucked. Yes, the price of fuel DOES have an effect. And it’s not pretty.

      • Jim Owen,

        I work 45 miles from home, so not quite 50-100 miles, but it still costs me around 15% of my gross pay just to commute to work.
        And, for me, changing jobs or moving house isn’t an option.
        I am hurting, and it’s getting worse by the day.

      • sorry, Jim, it seems I should have directed my reply to Graeme instead of you.
        Graeme, I have to drive, whether I like it or not. Outside of London, most people simply don’t have the option of being able to use mass transit systems.
        Yes, carbon taxes can change behaviour – we eat less, buy less clothing, go out less and so on. Just saying…

      • …not to mention having to work longer hours

      • cano is much more willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, trying to construct a logical explanation for what you write. I have seen it too often, so I know you sometimes just don’t have a clue about the terms you are using.

        Positive elasticity of demand is not a case of prices going up when consumption goes up. In the case of a Giffin good, it is the rise in price that causes (in part) the increase in demand. This has nothing at all to do with a rising demand for a good causing a rise in the prices, which is what has been occurring with fossil fuels.

        If demand increases, and supply remains stagnant, price goes up. That is not positive price elasticity, it is simple supply and demand. Government interference in the oil market to prevent new exploration and extraction (not to mention halting drilling on existing wells) is the reason for the price of oil increasing as demand increases.

        So you are right that government interference (of the type of which you want more) is responsible in large part for the rise in oil prices. But it is not that the increased price somehow gives oil a cachet that raises its price (like champagne). Why anyone needs to have this explained bewilders me. Your comment was nonsense.

        There is no more evidence of a rise in oil prices causing a rise in demand than there is any sense at all to your prior attempt to refer to a redistributive tax on fossil fuels as “rent” of a “budget” of a “scare commodity.” (For a time you implied that by “rent” you meant “revenue neutral carbon tax,” but you went back to talking about “renting” the CO2 budget, so my understanding of your original misuse of the term was correct.)

        I would normally ignore someone who just mangles the language so badly, if I thought it was JUST lack of understanding of the terms. Who knows, maybe English is a (not too well learned) second language. But this Orwellian habit of redefining words to mean their opposite (or something totally unrelated) is becoming a hallmark of progressives.

        I am of two minds as to whether you are doing it purposefully (ala James Hansen), or are just googling terms and trying to use them to support of your redistributionist pipe dream without caring what they mean. Either way, your attempts to disguise redistribution as some type of capitalist principle are gobbledygook.

      • GaryM


        I’m purposely supporting communist/socialist/leftist ideas of redistribution by opposing subsidies?

        How does that work?

        I’m the left-leaning one because I object to state-sponsored theft?

        You’re the right-leaning one because you oppose free market capitalism as a solution?

        You’re rightist and I’m leftist because you support $5 BILLION in subsidies that I oppose?

        Dude, how does one’s head get so twisted?

      • You are not supporting progressivist redistribution “by opposing subsidies.” You are supporting progressivist redistribution by advocating taxing money from some people, and redistributing it to others.

      • And I don’t support any energy subsidies, except maybe funding basic academic research; at least not using “subsidy” as it is actually defined. Lord only knows what you mean by it,

      • Bart- the problem from many people’s perspective on taxing gas for instance is that it is predominately a tax that impacts poorer people in the US. It absolutely will help to reduce comsumption however.

        Personally, I could see a much higher gas tax as something that I would support if it were part of a proposal to balance the US budget, but otherwise it would be wastefully spent

      • So you are willing to support an even bigger tax, that would reduce “predominantly” poor people’s “consumption” (ie. purchases of food, housing, medicine etc.), as long as the tax revenue is used to reduce the deficit. How generous of you.

      • Gary– I am simply being practical in trying to work two issues at the same time. If you wish to decrease consumption of gas a higher tax is effective. The US does have an absolute REQUIREMENT to balance its budget also. This will require either a 30% increase in tax revenues or a 30%decrease in spending or a combination of the two. That is a fact. Sorry if you can not agree, but it is the truth

      • Drill, baby, drill.

      • Bob– that was not what I suggested at all. I actually have suggested the construction of large numbers of modern nuclear plants in the US as both a way to reduce CO2 and more importantly to reduce the outflow of US capital and to employ US workers in something that would benefit the country for decades

      • I certainly agree with you about pushing nuclear, but increasing extraction of US oil will also reduce outflow of dollars and add stability to the price. I get disgusted whenever I think about the vast areas that are kept off-limits to drilling due mainly to politics.

      • My comment had nothing to do whether the budget should be balanced. Nor is there any honest way to read it as saying so.

        My problem was with your expressed preference for adopting a consumption tax, that you admit would hit the poor disproportionately.

        Reducing government spending can be done, without raising taxes that will gut the budgets of those who are barely getting by already. Gee, once you impoverish people more with massive energy taxes, you can then give them more government transfer payments (like Bart R proposes), making them ever more dependent on the government. Gosh, won’t that make them even more beholden to the Democratic Party? What an amazing coincidence!

        Wealth redistribution schemes are not about improving the environment, or lifting people out of poverty. They are about maintaining power, and accumulating more of it, for progressives.

        That is a fact. Sorry if you can not agree, but it is the truth

      • “Wealth redistribution schemes are not about improving the environment, or lifting people out of poverty. ”

        When have taxes ever lifted anyone out of poverty? The majority of taxes fall on the poorest members of society as they are the least able to avoid them. Welfare creates generations of institutionalized poverty.

        The tax system itself is inherently unfair. A fair tax would be for everyone to pay a couple of percent of their total net worth each year in taxes. Not a percentage of their income less expenses. A percentage of their worth.

        Even if you made no profit this year, if you own 100 square miles of property in major cities in the US, you should be paying a percentage of this in taxes. If you own nothing, then you don’t pay anything.

        This would be a truly fair system, but it will never happen. Instead we tax people on how much effort they are making to improve themselves. the harder you work, the more money you make, the more we will penalize you with taxes.

      • ferd,

        “Welfare creates generations of institutionalized poverty” is just a rephrasing of what I said. Preaching to the choir here.

        But I must disagree on a limited basis that redistribution NEVER lifts anyone out of poverty. Taxes can properly be used to lift people out of poverty, when they are narrowly targeted towards those who cannot support themselves. Redistribution in that limited sense is not anathema to conservatism. That is why conservative welfare reform did not take the form of stopping all welfare payments.

        For instance, a woman with children whose husband is killed for instance, can receive benefits that will keep (or lift) her and her children out of abject poverty. As time passes, she is expected to do what she can to work to support herself and her children, with transfer payments from taxes paid by others easing the way. Or an individual who is injured and incapable of caring for himself (disease, true disability) can be eligible for SSI payments (another redistributive program) during his period of disability.

        I don’t know a single conservative who would object to those types of targeted, limited redistribution of tax receipts. Private charity could handle it better, but the progressives have so warped the system that that is not always practical today.

        But that is not the type of tax the progressives are urging when it comes to energy (or any of the other taxes they are currently desperate to impose). So I agree with you 98%.

      • agreed. Use taxes to teach a man to fish, not to give him fish.

      • Usually the impact of a reduction in driving is not simply less miles on the car. It means less shopping, less meals out, and a general reduction in the economy. This leads to a reduction in employment, less net taxes to the government, which eats into the original purpose of the tax, to make more taxes for the government. In the end we have less people working, which causes all sort of other problems.

      • Yes, a tax on gas does have negative economic repurcussions due to less funds being available for spending by the general populace in other areas. I am not saying that is a condition an economy should seek. In the case of the US, taxes will need to be raised to balance the budget, a gas tax does have additional benefits

      • See how easily people are led astray by straw men and confused ideas?

        You want to stop hurting the poor?

        Stop subidies from the taxes the poor pay to the incomes of the fossil profiteers.

        Your arguments sound right, but they veer left.

        You want to stop hurting the poor?

        Recognize CO2 budget is a limited shared resource we all have a common interest in and ownership over, and stop theft from the poor by charging a fee for its use and pay the owners for their consent.

        Your rhetoric sounds businesslike, but it veers felonious.

        You want to stop hurting the poor?

        Stop falsely teaching them to squander more fossil by underpricing it and then taxing their income.

        You want to sound enlightened, but you just sound fraudulent.

      • Rob Starkey

        I’m against taxing fossil.

        I’m generally against tax. Period.

        I’m all for introducing the price of CO2 emission where it belongs, in the Free Market, and paying the owners of that CO2 budget — all of us, per capita — our fair share.

        This is not a tax proposal.

        Indeed, simply by adding CO2 emission to the market, one reduces tax overall in proportion to the size of the martket as a whole.

        Also, one stops the centuries old practice of pilfering CO2 rents from the pockets of everyone, per capita, by the few free riders.

        With the poor getting more money to spend as they wish, with the free market decision power to allocate spending restored by this measure, with all its many benefits, why oppose this moral and prudent economic necessity?

      • Bart

        Call it by whatever name you wish, but what you are proposing is a tax on CO2. Any nation that implemented such a program would be at an economic disadvantage as compared to nations that did not put an additional cost on CO2. Additionally, the country that implemented such a proposal would have a higher cost of living for the residents of that country.

        In the case of the United States—taxes WILL soon be higher, the only question is what form the tax takes

      • Rob Starkey

        Call taking something from me without paying any name you wish, it’s still theft.

        You assert a disadvantage to nations; I counter with the evidence of Canada. It has lower taxes, programs to counter CO2 emission, and a higher standard of living. Oh, and kicking the world’s butt in international trade balance.

        Sure, the whole mix of theings in Canada is not the same as in the USA, and maybe the CO2 thing isn’t the reason Canada is doing so well, but you make it sound fatal, and clearly it is not. CO2 management is the hallmark of well-run democracy.

        Try truth sometime. It’s fun and easy.

      • “Indeed, simply by adding CO2 emission to the market, one reduces tax overall in proportion to the size of the martket as a whole.”

        CO2 has a market. It costs about $100 for a cylinder of compressed CO2 gas suitable for use in industrial processes such as MIG welding of steel. I don’t see anyone buying CO2 out of the tail pipes of cars, because it has no use, except to farmers growing crops, and they know they can get it for free. If there is no demand for a product, it isn’t a market.

      • ferd berple

        You have it backward.

        Not CO2, but CO2 budget (CO2 emission ceiling) — the amount of CO2 the air can accept before CO2 level rises –is what’s at issue.

        It’s a common shared limited resource.

        Either people get paid for it, or it will be squandered and lead to waste and inversions in the market that distort economic efficiencies.

        Why else do Americans use so many times as much fossil as countries with higher standards of living and lower taxes?

      • Bart R,
        You have even less idea of how this would work than you do of the forcings of the climate.
        You are so far from reality as to wonder if you can even see the shoreline.

      • hunter

        It is an absolute statement of fact that I have even less idea how corrupt politics functions than I do how advanced multivariate differential equations on thermodynamics in the atmosphere work.

        That your reality embraces corruption so readily, not something you ought boast so much about, from my point of view.

      • Bart R,
        That I am not historically illiterate means I recognize the reality that corruption both in personal and institutional settings exists and has had profound influences on all aspects of human existance.

    • It took Newt Gingrich and the Republican’s Contract with America to MAKE CLINTOON CONCENTRATE ON THE ECONOMY and then take credit for their work.

      Clintoon also bailed out the Hedge funds and we are paying for that huge mistake now with Soros contributing his wealth to destablilizing things in numerous countries. Y’all really need to check those leftist talking points.

      • kk

        Do I misremember, or wasn’t there a concentrated drive by your hero and his party to wave blue dresses around and do everything in their power to distract your president from concentrating on anything at all?

        See, in this I’m not leftist, I’m not rightist, not Republican nor Democrat, nor Libertarian — though in the lastest matter of the committee to subsidize fossil (erm, sorry, to ‘Prevent Tax Wink Wink Nudge Nudge’) Ron Paul stands head and shoulders above his colleagues on integrity and truth — I’m just a guy who checks the facts and doesn’t let allegiances and biases sway decisions and judgement.

        I’m a minarchist skeptic with a calculator and the ability to read and think. Which I guess makes me your worst nightmare.

    • Bart, can you explain for us the subsidies for fossil fuels in the US and how they are different from the subsidies for renewables?

      • I doubt Bart will respond to your question. There is a huge difference. Here are some figures for the US from 2007.
        Fossil fuels less than $0.45 per megawatt.
        Renewables $23.00 to $30.00 per megawatt.

        Renewables are a money pit.

      • Bob Koss

        Oh ye of little faith.

        On what basis do you make such a silly claim?

        On figures from the government run by the people doing the subsidizing?!

        In a press report?

        Instigated by a representative backed by the coal industry?

        Cherry picking only the one single section that favors your argument?


        Would you accept such practices from AGW supporters?

        I know I would be skeptical.

      • Your hand-waving doesn’t score any points.

        A link to the entire report is embedded in that page. Show where their figures are wrong.

      • Bob Koss

        See below.

        One can only type so fast.

      • JL


        No one can explain the whole of the Byzantine chain of federal, state and local subsidies to the fossil corporate charities. They’re far too complex to cover in any one book, let alone in a blog post.

        Let’s look at the almost 300-page report from 2007 provided us by Bob Koss supposedly to support his argument. in Table ES6 of federal subsidies not related to electricity generation has subsidies to coal of $292 million in 2007.

        This is more than for geothermal ($1 million), solar ($184 million), or hydrogen ($230 million, but where’s the hydrogen from? Mainly fossil!).

        That’s subsidy to COAL, one of the oldest fuels known to man in one of the oldest industries in America.

        Almost the only legitimate argument for direct to industry subsidy is the Infant Industry case, and coal does not qualify.

        Geothermal and solar do qualify as infant industries.

        No single infant alternative form of energy on this table gets as much subsidy as undeserving coal, except one.

        But that’s not the best part.

        Natural gas and petroleum liquids — also not infant — get about SEVEN times the subsidy of coal, at a whopping $1,921 MILLION!

        In 2007 alone! For non-electricity use alone! Separate from the $200 million or so they get from hydrogen subsidy!

        And the best part?

        The biggest subsidy — that one infant exception — is Ethanol (& biofuels), at $3,249 MILLION in 2007 alone. For non-electricity alone.

        Ethanol gets over seventeen times the direct federal cash subsidy of solar plus geothermal for non-electricity energy development.

        Do you not smell a rat in that corn?

        Already, I have a long blog comment on just one half of just one page of just one report, a report that others have provided to argue against my point, and I’m heftily ahead on explanation of some of the subsidy I’m referring to.

        I’ll let you decide, should I stop here, or if I go on, would you prefer I go state-by-state alphabetically or by population, and if federally, by department of the government doing the spending, or by type of fossil receiving it, or in order of gross size of subsidy?

      • Bart,

        What part of subsidy per megawatt don’t you understand? The absolute dollar size of the subsidy is immaterial. It is subsidy efficiency that counts.

        Do you think 250 million dollar subsidy to produce a billion megawatts is less efficient use of money than 100 million dollar subsidy to produce 10 million megawatts?

      • Bob Koss

        Who’s handwaving now?

        Wouldn’t amount of subsidy per taxpayer be our concern?

        Or amount of wasted and meaningless subsidy?

        There’s a slightly palatable case in Economics, the “Infant Industry Argument” that says subsidy is defensible for innovative and novel future-oriented researches in untapped and unknown possibilities, because once established these novelties pay for themselves in the long run.

        Isn’t fossil the opposite of infant, in this case?

        Why is coal getting a subsidy at all?

        Why would oil and natural gas get tax money at all?

        Twenty five times as much tax money goes to these established profit-making private ventures compared to the innovative and novel future-oriented researches in untapped and unknown possibilities in this one narrow tiny little part of the whole alone.

        The cost per watt is immaterial to establish a new industry, if that cost may drop in the long run to a competitive range.

        There’s no such thing as ‘efficiency’ in comparing fossilized oranges to fresh apples.

        You’re laying a trail of false comparisons.

      • Bart
        You asked- Wouldn’t amount of subsidy per taxpayer be our concern? answer-NO economically, the proper way would be to consider a subsidity as a percentage of the total energy output produced by by that fuel.

        You wrote- slightly palatable case in Economics, the “Infant Industry Argument” that says subsidy is defensible for innovative and novel future-oriented researches in untapped and unknown possibilities, because once established these novelties pay for themselves in the long run.

        It really is not only slightly palatable, it is just good basic economics. If a cost benefit analysis can not be justified for individual companies to make an investment (possibly due to risk or the period of time required for the return on investment) it still well make sense as a government inititive since there can be longer term benefits to the populace of the country making the investment. Clearly this is not always true, but it has been several times in history

      • Bart,

        One could understand subsidizing a promising new technology while experimenting to improve efficiency. Very few stations should suffice for research purposes.

        What is not understandable is mass production of known experimental failures and subsidizing them throughout their lifetime of operation. Those subsidies are lost opportunity costs to society, since those dollars could have been put to better use.

      • Sorry to be pedantic, but I think you mean per MW-HOUR.

      • blah blah blah

      • Correct. MW is capacity, MWh is usage. 5¢/kwh = $50/mwh. The actual quote from the report is:

        Coal-based synfuels (refined coal) that are eligible for the alternative fuels tax credit, solar power, and wind power received the highest subsidies per unit of generation, ranging from more than $23 to nearly $30 per megawatthour of generation.

        The smallest subsidies on a per unit basis were for coal, natural gas and petroleum liquids, and municipal solid waste, all at less than $0.45 per megawatthour of generation.

        If the project at succeeds, btw, power costs will drop to <$5/mwh. This decade.
        Just sayin'.

      • This is more than for geothermal ($1 million), solar ($184 million), or hydrogen ($230 million, but where’s the hydrogen from? Mainly fossil!).

        Now calculate that out on a $/MWH basis. You’ll get a very different result.

      • ChE

        See above, wrt false basis of comparison.

      • Baloney. I don’t even know what all you’re counting as “subsidies”, but the fact that consumers are getting significant energy from fossil fuels, and insignificant energy for all that money from “alternatives” is completely relevant.

        To be clear, true subsidies shouldn’t be there, but that’s a whole other discussion.

      • Psst, ChE, ask him what the coal subsidies are for. I bet he don’t know.

      • ChE

        Subsidies shouldn’t be there.

        That is the whole discussion.

        Per blah blah blah is simply clouding the issue.

        Same per Dallas’s point.

      • Good point Bart,

        Let’s eliminate all subsidies. BTW, 2 Billion a year is Clean Coal Technology research. Did you know that a “cleaner coal” plant reduces CO2 / MW where it is on par with a natural gas fired plant. I am all in favor of reducing coal use by the way, Nuke me baby! That’s were the research subsidies are.

      • ChE et al.: I’ve considered Bart R’s posts a waste of bandwidth since the “On Being a Scientist” topic where he made a big fuss about the “obligation [in science] to offer an alternate hypothesis after demonstrating falsification of a current one” then failed to provide any substantiation aside from handwaving.

      • Dallas

        The coal industry got caught doing something bad.

        They make the government pay their research expenses, and benefit from the multiple multilevel subsidies.

        It’s like the cop catches a thief and then not only does the cop have to serve thei thief’s jail time, but also has to pay him a salary and house him in a luxury condo.

        If coal can’t afford to clean up its own act before it sells its energy, then why is coal still in business?

        Sure, your subsidy seems prudent or wise or necessary, but that’s one step too many down the path to the state making people’s decisions for them.

        And let’s look at Rob Starkey’s wildly baseless assertion from above: “economically, the proper way would be to consider a subsidity as a percentage of the total energy output produced by by that fuel. “

        What? Why would that be? Short term output of that fuel? Long term potential? Output per unit energy irrespective of use or efficiency?

        If I have a way to recharge my batteries in remote locations without utility lines so I can run my Xoom, that’s worth a premium to me, and take a fraction of the energy to power an air conditioner or an SUV.

        You’re comparing apples to oranges so many ways that you’ve got fruit salad in a blender.

        Further, this is America, comrade Starkey.

        Government ought not be telling us how to spend our money, nevermind taking it and giving it to profitable corporations.

      • Bart,

        I am not sure about all the caught doing bad stuff you are talking about. As I understand it, carbon sequestering was the main motivation for the research subsidy. Coal was near the bottom of the combined energy subsidies with wind, nuclear and solar the top three. I don’t like the government spending my money either, but research into not ready for prime time technology research requires it.

    • David L. Hagen

      See my post below

      Re “We can only do one thing.”
      I agree – we need to focus on providing the liquid essential to running our economy. See ASPO Peak Oil Conference.

      AND we need to ignore climate. It has always changed and always will – naturally. The huge coal beds provide proof positive that nature loves high CO2 under warm conditions. Why not return to balmier conditions?

      • David L. Hagen

        Increasing ocean biomass for sequestration
        Scientists attempt to discover the colour of the Atlantic Ocean

        They want to discover the impact of hazy clouds of aerosol particles hanging above the water on algae that are the basis of the marine food chain. Around a third of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by human activities is absorbed by microscopic algae in the sea. . . .
        But satellite images in recent years have shown large aerosol clouds forming above the oceans, particularly in the southern part of the Atlantic.

        They increase the amount of the sun’s rays reflected away from the sea, reducing the amount of algae and therefore lessening the water’s greenish hue.

        This shows substantial uncertainty over aerosols and ocean processes. The aerosols could show a substantial impact on portion of insolation reflected / absorbed and net ocean primary productivity.

        “…ocean fertilization to affect climate have a low chance of success”

        When we don’t have a good quantitative handle on major natural processes, nor on the impact of artificial ocean fertilization how can we possibly evaluate such geoengineering proposals, let alone “control climate”?

      • David L. Hagen

        This sacramental liquid essential to running our economy.. how does it become so essential that we can’t use it economically?

        Why does the US federal government pay billions in subsidies every year to fossil and biofuel?

        Why does any skeptic believe, when the head of the group that hands over billions of tax dollars (to uselessthanol) calls to cut back on the millions to a group that points out the uselessness of his subidies, that the’re getting good representation?

        Biofuel is touted as a cure for the flaws in that essential liquid sacrament, David. It isn’t, and every dollar of yours that the IRS takes from you, that you will be filing the paperwork to hand over to them in April flows into the pockets of the merchants of that liquid under that false pretext.

        You are being defrauded, but like an addict you don’t care. You just want more of your essential liquid.

        I’m not against coal. I’m not against gasoline. They have their roles in the economy.

        But this subsidy of fossil is not economical. It distorts the free market. It drives waste and excess that is uneconomical. It steals from the democracy of the marketplace, and from the pockets of every American taxpayer. The true cost of fossil is not reflected at the pumps.

  5. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    Right you are, Lab. Here is an easy way to think about the issue. Warmists are claiming that the earth cannot return to its average state. The arrogance is astounding. The climate has cooled for the past 40 million years and they want to start at 1850 and claim the earth is warming. You could accurately say the temperature has risen since 1850 but it is still far, far below earth’s average GAT and earth’s average co2 content. Global warming is an invalid premise.

    • Yeah, how about we all do a mental exercise. Plot the earths temperatures on a timescale- but pretend they’re not temp and time- just two related factors.

      Then scroll to where 1850 would be ( in the sub-percentile of ‘your’ data), and then make conclusions of the state of the rest of the data of that exceptionally small sub-set.

      I’m sure someones done the calculation (i.e. the timescale we’re using to say that cAGW is real versus the length of the earths ‘known’ climate??)- but if it were anything but climate and temp you’d be laughed out of the building.

      • should read ‘off that exceptionally small sub-set”.

        Edit function please, as i’m a dolt.

    • Dr. Jay,

      Why is climate science so focused on holding onto regional temperature readings when their is far more physical science they ignore?

    • Global average temperature annually cycles in a range of about 2C. Highest in July and lowest in January. Yet no notice is paid to that swing. I simply don’t see why a couple degree increase over a longer time period is worth spending anything to prevent. Especially when an increase would lower heating costs more than it would raise cooling costs.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Most of the life on the planet isn’t quite so open-ended as Man in how they fit into their niches.

        When this, that, or the other species folds its tent it has repercussions up and down the line. The most famous phrasing of this phenomenon is the little poem:

        For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
        For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
        For want of a horse the rider was lost.
        For want of a rider the battle was lost.
        For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
        And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

      • Yet species have, do and will continue to adapt to the EVER changing climate. Try putting forward an actual argument every now and then.

      • Agreed – however this does involve extinctions and loss of biodiversity, and biodiversity takes a lot of time to re-emerge. There are a lot of rats, pigeons and cockroaches that seem to adapt very quickly to changes of all type. With humans, I don’t see Bangladesh being able to adapt easily to severe flooding.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        I think the loss of diversity threatens us most in the long run, but the spread of pests into previously inhospitable niches, is going to be almost as painful.

        Aedes aegypti bringing dengue fever to our shores and the pine bark beetle denuding the northwest forests are just the two most high profile pests.

      • Jeff we understand all the wonderful metqaphoric sayings, can you bring them back into the realworld sowecan see the science. Or is the crux of your approach to lift the discussion from reality to the metaphoric, get agreement and then slam back to reality and enforce that metaphoric agreement.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Couldn’t have said it better.

      • Bob – The annual variation is well known, but bears almost no relationship to climate trends. Most of it is due to the fact that the Northern Hemisphere contains more land than the Southern Hemisphere, as well as to predictable cyclic variations in sun/Earth relationships over the course of a year. Even if long term climate were completely stable, these cyclic changes in annual temperature would continue, but would be irrelevant to alterations in climate dynamics caused by CO2 or other climate modifiers. In other words, this cycling tells us nothing about climate stability or instability.

      • Fred,
        The basic point is that global temperature means so little at the local level that people don’t even notice that it changes throughout the year.

        I used the KNMI explorer to see how well the ensemble of the models handle annual variation in global temperature, and they do poorly with an average about 3.5C. Being almost double the observations doesn’t inspire confidence in the accuracy of their physics or projections.

      • Bob – Yes, but that is why global temperatures aren’t computed as part of the process of determining global temperature trends. Instead, what are computed are temperature “anomalies”. These are the change from one year to the next (or over some other interval) in the temperature at each individual location, so that locations are compared with themselves. In addition, anomalies are computed for the same months each year (e.g., March vs March), so that seasonal differences are removed. The anomalies can be averaged to yield a global trend, but they still represent the aggregate effect of changes computed at individual locations.

      • Sophistry is all you have left to support the PROJECTIONS of the models??

      • Im not sure what you mean by anomalies calculated for each individual location. If you mean individual stations, that is definitely not the case. The averaging and wieghing is done differently for HardCRU and GISS. But ignoring the difference between them, the averaging happens in relatively large enough grids and then across multiple grids to hemispheric averages and then on to gloabl average. The point is that this process ends up _losing_ the regional/individual station/local variations precisely due to the “averaging” effect, precisely the opposite of what you are claiming. For example, If a particular grid had a serious cooling (-ve anomaly) in a given year, global anomaly may end up being a warmer one and completely loses the local information those grids or areas where the trend was entirely different. So it is somewhat unclear what a)global temp or anamoly actually stands for b) how that info can be actually useful for anyone. Surely no one residing in any region whether a farmer or others who depend on weather heavily for their profession/business, can rely on this global temp or anomaly to do anything with it. Neither can weather forecasters or seasonal forecasters. Im unsure how this info can actually be used other than in theoretical climate science discussions.
        You could argue that in the absence of any global quantification of temp or other climate variables, we have to resort to these poorman’s global averaging, for lack of nothing else better. But that to me seems like a problem in climate science since it is really not a measurable quantity of any kind.

        This to me is like Dow Jones Avg. An artificial index which helps to soothe or aggravate the psychology of traders by providing a meta-measure of the market’s direction. But this index again often misses the internal/sector level changes in the marketplace. And unless you own index funds, isnt very useful to make decisions on your portfolio. But climate having nothing to do with psychology or the need of large number of people to have a direction, it is unclear what global temp anamolies actually achieve in a scientific sense.

      • That’s an excellent analogy. That’s what Pielke Sr. has been saying in different words for quite a while now.

      • Perhaps to add a bit to what Fred Moolten said, I’d say the annual average of the global anomaly is not a good metric to discuss the effects of a climatic change.

        Regional and seasonal changes, and not only in temperature but also for instance on amount of precipatition, are equally important, especially so in the higher latitudes with higher annual variations.

        Daily, monthly and seasonal differences are much greater than the change of the annual average, which gets us back to the original question: if the natural variation is very large (but tend to be smaller, due to obvious reasons, if we look at a larger area or longer time span), how come a smallish addition make much difference? For instance, during Scandinavian winter, which is roughly from November till early April, temperatures routinely vary from +10C to -50C. Averages might be different by several degrees between two years, and even a daily change might be from -30C to +0C.

      • My point here and in response to some of the above is that anomalies are necessary to determine whether the climate is changing either locally or globally. An area’s climate includes seasonal changes, and so an unchanging climate is one in which the seasonal changes are the same from one year to the next; it does not require the absence of seasonal change. Seasonality is what is responsible for intra-annual variation in “mean global temperature”, which is rather a meaningless concept. This means that even if the climate is completely stable everywhere (zero anomaly change from one year to the next), we would still see a significant seasonal change globally due to the uneven distribution of land mass and to seasonal changes in the sun/Earth relationship.

      • The dynamic range of temperature on Earth varies a lot more than two degrees C.
        This variability exists on nearly any time dimension you can think of.
        And life does just fine.

  6. It is kind of odd that humans think they can stabilize climate, when climate will likely stabilize humans.

    • Dallas,

      We have forgotten that our heated house are a foreign item to this planet of emense differing temperature ranges and the weather that is generated.

    • To really affect the drivers of climate, you would need to be able to change the orbits of the major planets, by more than a couple % of their normal variance.

      Change the direction of the path of the whole solar system as it travels through the galaxy, by several degrees, with out adversely Joggling the Earth / moon system around in the process.

      Good luck with that!

  7. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    No, you’re completely wrong. You cannot charge a fare fee for co2 emissions. Furthermore, your claim of climate instability is false. You are claiming that there will be catastrophic events while the earth is below its historic GAT (way below Bart) and below the average level of atmospheric co2.

    • DJ

      You appear to be reading more than I’ve claimed.

      1. You assert one cannot charge a fair fare CO2 fee for fie fum. Why? Proof? Cite? Evidence? Rationale? Exposition?

      2. I don’t claim instability. I claim Risk. Look up the two words, and you’ll note they’re different.

      3. I don’t claim catastrophe. I claim Risk. See, still two different words.

      4. Citation, please.

      The best estimates from ice core samples are 230 +/- 50 ppmv CO2 for at least 650,000 years, with only a tiny fraction of a percent above that, and only by a few ppmv.

      We’re currently 22% above the historic range of the best extrapolations for CO2 for the past 20 million years.

      We’re currently 70% above the historic median CO2 level of the past 20 million years.

      As you’re a phd., you should be able to find these cites yourself. I’ve seen arguments before for higher historic average CO2 levels and they were always easily dismissed as invalid based on selection bias.

      If you offer substantive support for your assertion, I’ll be glad to look it over and see if there is something to discredit the Antarctic ice core work.

      • Dr. J seemed to be reading between the lines for you, since you seem to be ascribing enough risk to take action. Which you have just asserted without first providing any rationale other than that “there is risk”. IMO this is no different than “there is climate change”. Right and so?
        I will take your CO2 numbers and just ask, why is 20 million years the cut off? Why not 10 or 30 or50 or any number? I could see a rationale if you took the time period of when life appeared on earth, which in turn could be criticized for being too broad, so we could try when mammals appeared etc. Try to at least ground the various facets in your arguments to some reality rather than the loose thread assertions you keep making.

      • DEEBEE

        Any risk is worth taking action, if the risk elevates for a long enough duration and diverse enough conditions and regions. As it is, we can estimate multiple overlapping risks to enough ways that even if we cannot be confident of any single one risk, we can demonstrate that our doubt of all of them would be irrational.

        Where Risk (CO2) = Risk (Botany) ^ Risk (Oceanographic) ^ Risk(Weather) ^ Risk (Microbial) ^ …

        Inverse of Risk = Inverse (Risk(Botany)) x Inverse(Risk(Ocean)) x Inverse(Risk(Weather)) x Inverse(Risk(Microbial)) x ..

        That inverse risk figure decreases rapidly. We can be certain of need to act.

        You’re unfamiliar with the 20 ma estimate?

        Did you even wiki (yeah, I know wiki used to have issues before they turfed an editor, but who single-sources anything?) historic CO2 questions? gets you to 0.8 ma, and shows the source of the highly reliable 0.65 ma figure.

        Or Google? gives 15-20 ma, which is also an acceptable estimate to me.

        While the technique in isn’t as reliable, it goes at least 2.1 ma with similar results.

        Longer estimates differ in details, but largely agree on levels within the last 60 ma:

        I take 20 million years because that is what the data says by the best extrapolations and interpolations, estimates and SWAG is the last time CO2 in the atmosphere persisted above 300 ppmv.

        The 20 ma figure is an imprecise number, and I’m not happy with it as the confidence interval on it is about as low as the CI on global warming over the past century.

        If the data said 10 million years, I’d have said 10 ma. If it said 30 ma, I’d have said 30 ma. I use the number determined by the data. As it is, I’m comfortable asserting we know 0.65 ma to a high confidence.

        I don’t base my numbers on my rationale, but apply my rationale to the actual numbers. Wouldn’t it be cool if more people did that?

        Which I suspect is the root of DJ’s reading issue.

      • Funnily enough, those time periods were great for mammals.

      • Yes.

        We have no idea how those previous periods would be for the mammals we know today, however.

        But we’re gonna find out.

      • BartI think you would have to agree that in order for your concept of “risk” to be meaningful, you would also have to include the risks associated with taking the course of action you suggest.

        If an individual country adopted the tax measures you suggest, there would be several levels of additional risk.
        Risk of that country being less competitive in the worldwide economy
        Risk of harm to the poor in the country adopting the proposals
        Risk that the actions would have an unintended side effects, etc.

      • Rob Starkey

        I think I do agree, and I think I do include the balancing risks.

        “Risk of that country being less competitive in the worldwide economy..”

        This risk appears to be extremely low, compared to its inverse, so counts as a cross factor in my proposed equation, thereby only making the reasons to act more pressing.

        A country that improves its markets and the efficiency of its economy is more competitive and over time will succeed in international markets where its competitors fail.

        Canada has meaningful CO2 emission measures, and is kicking the world’s butt right now.

        The USA? No, and no. All the USA has is Charlie Sheen winnerism, for its Charlie Sheen emission practices.

        “..Risk of harm to the poor in the country adopting the proposals..”

        What a crock of Sheen.

        How, when my proposal directly pays the poor of the country in cash for the use of the resource of theirs that is now being stolen and exploited by the rich, does the risk to the poor increase by my plan?

        Under my plan, the 70% who emit the least CO2 — which includes most of the poor by a wide margin — have a net increase in cash in their pockets.

        You’re simply scaremongering.

        “..Risk that the actions would have an unintended side effects, etc.”

        Unintended side effects?


        The actuarial and policy under uncertainty practices involving risk and unintended side effects are complicated and deserve their own textbook, but to break it down simply, you’re talking about irreducible risk, which is generally addressed by the Precautionary Principle.

        That is to say, you build a grid balancing the trade-offs among competing go/no-go decisions, and decide on the action with the lowest net risk.

        In this case, your endless list of undefinables equals in size the endless list of undefinables of ongoing increasing CO2 emission, but since you can’t unemit the CO2, your list loses because you can always decide later to emit.

        The rest is covered by ceteris paribus reasoning; again, your list loses.

        So, to sum up, you’re Winning. Sheen style.

      • Bart R– Canada is a very minor economy on the world scene, and is fortunate to have a vast mineral wealth (oil) that funds much of the country. If Canada did not have wealth due to the export of its natural resources it would not survive independently

      • Bart –
        How, when my proposal directly pays the poor of the country in cash for the use of the resource of theirs that is now being stolen and exploited by the rich, does the risk to the poor increase by my plan?

        1/ You’ve shown no reason to assume that the “poor of the country” own the resource in question any more than they own the land on which our favorite farmer produces the food that they eat.

        2/ The cash you’re paying the poor of the country still comes from those who have earned it, and is being given to those who have not earned it. This is still socialistic wealth redistribution that, under any reasonable system would still be called theft.

  8. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    @Joe LaBlonde

    Please link up to the article from wuwt you are talking about.

  9. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    Hey sorry for the miss spelling. That is a good question and my answer is I have no idea. The back and forth between both sides is foolish. One month the temperature goes down, another it goes up, and so on.

    I have several theories on the future temperature. One of them is that given 86.6% of the past 10,500 years have been warmer than 2010, the earth will see increases in temperature because the chances are higher.

  10. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    Take glaciers for example. We cannot make a definitive statement on glaciers for several reasons. Firstly, it is very difficult to pinpoint when melting of a glacier began, if melting stopped and growth resumed and melting began once more. Additionally, we need a global index of all of the world’s glaciers. I think this would be an excellent study of physical evidence and one that is of great importance.

    • Dr. Jay,

      I found science has no clue of planetary physical circular motion. It covers an extremely massive area and can go from before the planet was created to the present. The storage of energy and changing compression is a biggie missed through changing planetary speed.

      My own research.

  11. Look at the temperature data from the ice cores. It has been extremely stable in a narrow range. We are well inside the range of temperatures that have occurred during the past ten thousand years. How can any learned person look at this stable data and think it is unstable? If anything makes the oceans warmer, that melts more Arctic Ice and Creates more Arctic Ocean Effect Snow. If all the other feedbacks make the oceans colder, the Arctic freezes over and the snow stops. The earth temperature is extremely stable in a narrow range. The only climate feedback that has a “SET POINT” is ice and water! If any of the other feedbacks were dominate, the temperatures would have a much wider range. Give this some serious thought. This severe winter was a result of the record low sea ice extent we had last year.

  12. Bart R sez

    We only have one thing we can do to the climate, which is control our CO2 output.

    This is like the fellow who’s lost his wallet at the far end of a dark alley but searches for it under the street light because the light is better. Surely there is something productive we can do with our lives that prepares us for climate change. Our ice age ancestors got it right and didn’t even know the climate was changing – how hard can it be?

    • dp

      In the same way as your analogy doesn’t fit, so too don’t the next ones:

      Hiker #2, “Don’t waste time putting on running shoes, you’ll never outrun a bear!”
      Hiker #1, “Don’t have to outrun the bear. Only have to outrun you.”

      Q: How do you tell a black bear from a brown bear or a grizzly?
      A: Climb a tree; a black bear it’ll climb up after you, a brown bear will shake the tree until you fall out, and a grizzly will knock the tree down.

      My momma always said, “life is like a box of chocolates.”

      So, any more Gumpism to offer, dp, or will you address the actual topic?

      • BartR,

        So the only thing we can do is change the CO2 output. You then are admitting that there is NOTHING we can do to affect the climate!!


      • kk

        When was that even a question.

        There’s nothing we can do to affect climate in the casual meaning of affect.

        All we can do is perturb its stability, or stop perturbing its stability.

        To use an analogy, suppose it’s 10:00 AM on a Thursday, and all you have is the a bottle of cheap tequila and the Internet, and you are going to blog. All you can do is blog sober, or blog drunk.

        Do you down a bottle of cheap tequila at 10:00 AM and blog drunk?

      • What’s the weather like in a stable climate?

      • Tamara

        Unstable, sometimes.

      • Tamara –
        The words stable climate are an oxymoron.

        Climte is NEVER stable. It’s always changing, so the words Climate Change do not imply anything other than a normal status.

        The only constant in life is CHANGE

      • Jim Owen

        One weeps at the beauty of your rhetorical devices.

        Night changes to day.

        Away from the equator, the length of night and day change with the seasons.

        That’s all change, change, change.

        But change that.

        Make the length of night and day unpredictable. (pretend)

        Is that the same sort of change, or a different sort of change?

        Wouldn’t that be a change, pretending you could do it, that you would hesitate to cause?

        While you lack the power to make the length of night and day random, you can have much the same effect.

        The climate is chaotic (see prior topics for details), so will be full of probabilistic events, and the probabilities sometimes will shift on their own no matter what we do.

        However, there is ergodicity in the climate — the tendency of systems to return to prior patterns more or less — the closest we can get to climate stability.

        We can control how much CO2 we emit.

        CO2 level is on many bases arguably the most significant impact we can have on the ergodicity of the climate.

        Are we sure of any single one of these impacts directly?


        We can be sure of at least three direct CO2 impacts: IR optical changes, microbial changes and plant changes.

        Sure, those aren’t direct climate impacts; maybe on a blog called ‘Climate Etc.’ one should hesitate to say this, but aren’t there some things more important than just the climate?

        From these changes, we might _expect_ significant climate change, or not. But significant Risk of climate change, and for those changes to upset the ergodicity of the climate, it’s ability to return to prior patterns, we _know_.

        Ergodicity in climate. Things like the typical frost free date in farm fields, the typical ferocity of cyclones, area of the creche of hurricanes and the length of the hurricane season, the typical timing and geographic distribution of winter storms. The typical amount and distribution of cloud cover.

        Those are the new changes we are causing.

      • Tamara – The concept of climate stability is easy to misconstrue. Stability is a relative term. During the past 11,000 years of the Holocene interglacial, there have been stretches characterized by only minor climate variability, punctuated at times by wider fluctuations. The rate of temperature increase during the past 100 years on a global rather than a regional scale is an example of the latter – regardless as to whether or not it was unprecedented in its global extent, it has been unusual. The issue of precedence and causality, however, should be reserved for a different discussion, because you ask about the weather in a stable climate. Focusing on the “Hockey Stick” or the Holocene “climate optimum” should be part of that other discussion because those issues are too broad for this comment, have been discussed at length elsewhere, and don’t address your question.

        In a typical temperate zone climate that is stable (relatively speaking), the weather would be characterized by some days that are hot, some that are cold, some that are clear, some that are rainy, some that are snowy, some that are windy, and some that are calm. What would make that climate stable is a finding that this distribution stays more or less the same from one year to the next. What would constitute instability is a substantial difference in the distribution of temperature, precipitation, and wind from one year to the next – or more properly for meaningful conclusions, from one decade to the next.

        Weather is not synonymous with climate, and changing weather is consistent with an unchanging climate.

      • Bart it is your “Swiss Cheese” formulations that engender all these analogies, not to say some that you have postulated some doozies yourself.

      • DEEBEE

        Analogy is no less subject to the question of relevance than any other form.

        Irrelevant is still irrelevant, which dp is.

        If you have a question of the relevance of any analogy I propose, by all means spell out the exact question in the particular analogy.

        It’s my belief that analogy is far more effective at rapidly and accessibly communicating most advanced technical issues where there may be an everyday phenomenon that closely enough matches.

        A pencil per square inch of sky, to make visible in everyone’s mind the sort and scale of darkening of the IR band? That’s cheesy?

        A bigger-than-ever stick persistently, rapidly and increasingly poking a worldspanning and ancient climate hornet nest known for the destructive power of its occasional swarms? Too swissy?

        While I agree the analogy of carbon emitters peeing in the village well is offensive, a) so is the act of carbon emitters peeing in the well; and, b) the analogy is apt, precise, accurate and technically correct.

        Almost all of Economics is reasoned by careful construction of analogy.

        Almost all of experimental design, likewise, relies on analogy.

        While I agree the analogy of a man dumping his latrine on his children’s inheri.. Hrm. Have I used that analogy yet? Guess not.

        Reasoning by analogy has its limits, and still has to obey the rules of reasoning. Is it that you’re unfamiliar with analogy, or with reason?

  13. Yes, indeed, opening up the debates to more discursive navel gazing would be simply wonderful. It’s not like they’ll convince anyone of the scientific argument any time soon with the dreaded CAGW monster unable to overcome a simple La Niña. One small problem I see, though. Have you ever seen anything remotely resembling flexibility in the warmist camp? Is there anything in the personal histories of Pachauri, Schmidt, Mann, or Romm that would lead you to believe they are capable of reframing a photograph, much less reframing climate policy?

  14. The hubris is staggering.

    Watching academics argue over who has the best climate policy ideas is like watching witch doctors argue over who has the best voodoo chant for making the moon go dark.

    • Tomas Milanovic

      I rather agree too .
      Hubris of hitherto unknown proportions .
      The only thing that this kind of angels’ sex discussions inspires me is that I only care for important things and not for what the temperature will be in 2100 .
      Or 2400 for that matter to just keep round numbers .
      And I am in good company with the crushing majority of people who have dozens of more important and serious worries than climate change or a few degrees more or less .

      It will be whatever it will be .
      If our ancestors’ stones and sticks could cope with an ice age which was infinitely deadlier , the following generations’ high level technology will surely be able to cope cope with some warming and hold on untill the next ice age comes .

      Btw while we’re at the hubris topic , can the AGWers of “the science is settled” obedience remind me for when exactly they schedule the downturn to the next ice age?
      And eventually what should we (urgently !) do to save the world from it?
      For it is sure that several km ice upon Europe , Asia and US would definitely destroy the civilisation as we know it .
      We must put a stop to that – surely the precaution principle can guide us to some less grim futures than a grisly death of freezing by billions :)

    • stan

      What a funny way to use the word hubris, considering its origins.

      Mocking at diviners would have been an act of hubris in ancient Greece.

      Similarly, abasement or abuse of Nature, also an act of hubris.

      You’ve managed to turn yet one more thing on its head.

      • Bart,

        Nice effort. Pointless, but given that you have nothing else to work with, worth a light pat on the back.

        Here in the 21st century where the rest of us work and play, hubris is understood to be an extreme arrogance usually related to the over-estimation of one’s competence or capabilities. There are a whole lot of people who think that climate scientists who claim the ability to predict the future and claim to understand how to control the earth’s climate represent the unrivaled example of hubris in modernity.

      • stan

        And a pat on the head back atcha, buddy.

        I’m among those who think it would be hubris indeed to claim the ability you claim.

        I think it’s mostly putting words in other people’s mouths that allows you to identify this hubris, as for the most part the people you’re accusing carefully and with humility — the opposite of hubris — outline and document in exacting and definitive scientific terms that they are doing other than what you say.

        That you like turning things upside down is not their fault.

        It’s your hubris.

  15. David L. Hagen

    “Mitigation” for “climate stabilization” (aka reversing “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”) has been hyped and politically swallowed without seriously addressing the numerous issues involved.

    In “Subsurface Sequestration of CO2 in the U.S: Is it Money Best Spent?”, Tad W. Patzek exposes the slight of hand that “mitigation” of coal fired power by

    CO2 sequestration will ultimately increase CO2 generation by 50%. In other words, for every two coal-fired PPEs, a third PPE will have to be built, to serve the energy required to sequester the CO2 generated by all three powerplants.

    By applying hard headed engineering (instead of political hype)

    “upgrades to the more efficient supercritical steam turbines would decrease current emissions by up to 50% (from the current average plant efficiency of 32% to over 45%).”

    The current political “CO2 sequestration” promotion is due to a lemming like rush to “action” that is perversely anti-rational.

    This perverse action advocates the greatest burying of our wealth in the ground that was ever conceived. This is diametrically contrary to the principles of responsible stewardship taught by Jesus.

    In “Engineering Earth’s thermostat with CO2?”, chemical engineering control expert Dr. Pierre Latour exposes the utter impossibility of “controlling” earth’s temperature. Those claiming it can, have neither studied control theory, or have not understood each and every one of the essential features that Latour highlights.

    Earth’s temperature is a chemical process system. Review of control system engineering of Earth’s thermostat with anthropogenic CO2 in 1997 proved it will never work because it is an unmeasurable, unobservable and uncontrollable system. . . .
    • Earth’s temperature system cannot be adequately modeled for control. Modeling and control of multivariable, nonlinear, dynamic systems like fluid catalytic cracking, crude distillation, coking, hydrocracking and gasoline blending were commercialized in the 1980s and deployed throughout the HPI and the chemical industry ever since. Control systems engineering has been implemented for mechanical and electrical systems like aircraft and spacecraft since 1960.
    • Earth’s temperature system cannot be adequately measured or controlled. Mathematical criteria devised in the 1960’s that ensure a system is measurable, observable and controllable are not satisfied.
    • Mankind has no decision process for properly setting global temperature or CO2 targets, or home thermostats either. The rigorous procedure for optimizing risky tradeoffs for HPI control system setpoints like thermostats was published in HP, December 1996. . . .

    For details see letters between Dr. Latour and Jeff Temple

    Latour highlights ethical challenges:

    • Gradual warming is good. Earth’s flora, fauna and humans have flourished since Earth warmed again 18,000 years ago. Humans have experienced 5,000,000 years/50,000 years per cycle = about 100 such cycles. New Yorkers retire to Florida, Canadians to Phoenix, Chicagoans to Hawaii and Germans to Provence. . . .
    • India, China, Africa and Russia will continue to produce CO2 from coal, oil and gas, to their credit. Their people will prosper. . . .
    Starving and choking plants of their food supply would be a monumental crime against humanity, all fauna and flora, the environment and Earth itself.

    Beyond the challenges of getting the science right, lets also take a hard headed look at the engineering issues involved – and more importantly, the ethical issues. We will be held responsible before the Supreme Judge of all the world for burying our treasure and consequently starving the poor.

    • Thank you!

      I predict no “warmer” will respond.

      • Good prediction – none has!

      • Which means it falls to a skeptic to lampoon.. er, I mean, address the one obvious deficiency in an otherwise correct-seeming comment:

        • Gradual warming is good. Earth’s flora, fauna and humans have flourished since Earth warmed again 18,000 years ago. Humans have experienced 5,000,000 years/50,000 years per cycle = about 100 such cycles. New Yorkers retire to Florida, Canadians to Phoenix, Chicagoans to Hawaii and Germans to Provence. . . .
        • India, China, Africa and Russia will continue to produce CO2 from coal, oil and gas, to their credit. Their people will prosper. . . .
        Starving and choking plants of their food supply would be a monumental crime against humanity, all fauna and flora, the environment and Earth itself.

        We do not know this. We cannot — for the reasons the citations above clearly explain — know this.

        Gradual warming may or may not benefit; shocking changes to CO2 levels, higher than they have been in 15-20 million years by 22% might benefit in some unknowable way, but at the price of precipitous Risk that could be avoided.

        These statements about botany and economics lack basis or reasoning, as appeals to appetite without intellectual foundation.

        Will these programs in India, China, Africa and Russia be as successful as Union Carbide in Bhopal, the Great Sparrow Campaign, the oil spills of the Niger Delta and any Russian government program ever?

        No, these irrationally optimistic claims are the worst sort of dyskeptic hysteria.

        If you wouldn’t accept this sort of lunacy from a warmer, you shouldn’t accept it from someone who sidles up to you and pretends to be one of your own.

  16. Harold H Doiron

    The Earth’s climate has been relatively stable for the last 10,000 years compared to its previous history. Why? Was it because humans appeared in significant numbers about 10-12 thousand years ago to manage it?

    I get nervous when climate scientists talk about “intergenerational management of climate change”. Do we really know how to manage climate change?

    If you mean “adapt to climate change”, I could agree that this is an important consideration and throughout human history, our forefathers have taught us the basics, “move to a better location on Earth”.

    Admittedly, our current technology could make some improvements on this past successful human history of adapting to climate change. But to “manage climate change” is an entirely different matter, and I haven’t seen enough evidence that we have anyone on this Earth who confidently knows how to do it. I wouldn’t hire a CEO to manage my company (or country for that matter) who didn’t have a proven track record that gives me high confidence that she or he could handle the job.

    • “I get nervous when climate scientists talk about “intergenerational management of climate change”.”

      Politics is about selling things to people by using their values as the agent. Appeal to higher, nobler causes (especially children, these days) is common, I’d say even over used. The less concrete, the better. My first level look at anything like this is from a concrete, hardnosed, personal interest viewpoint. Because of my location, I’d agree to a 10 degree warming, and think it was a good thing for me (and any of my future generations that choose to live here). It’s reduce my heating costs, give a longer growing season, longer season for working outdoors, etc. Rising sea level is not a concern, either. Floods? Nope, not an issue. Politically, I’d have to go against my perceived concrete best interests in favor of an abstraction. Not likely.

  17. Thank for this. The paper makes raises a number of key questions. One issue:

    “It [the concpet of climate stabilisation] has provided a ready interface between scientists, economists, policymakers and environmentalists, and it is this collective weaving that makes it so hard as a concept to disentangle from” ( Boykoff et. al. 2010: 61)

    To what degree is “stabilisation” a boundary object and are such boundary objects legitimate once they are contested.
    As the article (section 3.1) makes clear the term is useful to policy makers, and (more problematically?) is used as a target (2 degrees) to be delivered through a policy frameworks. Both sides of the debate have argued that this might be a big miscalculation – practically and rhetorically, so perhaps something we can agree on (though for different reasons). Great article and I agree with Judith that it should be read as a whole.

  18. If global warming is to be limited to a maximum of 2 deg C (or 3.6 deg F) above pre-industrial values, global emissions need to peak between now and 2020 and then decline rapidly. To stabilize climate, a decarbonized global society – with near-zero emissions of CO2 and other long-lived greenhouse gases – needs to be reached well within this century. More specifically, the average annual per-capita emissions will have to shrink to well below 1 metric ton CO2 by 2050. This is 80 to 95% below the per-capita emissions in developed nations in 2000.

    Does this sound even remotely possible to anyone?

    For instance, according to a web CO2 footprint calculator: one (1) long plane flight is 2.2 metric tons of CO2. So basically that’s the end of air travel for everyone, unless of course they are on urgent climate change business like Al Gore or delegates to Copenhagen or Cancun.

    • IMHO Global emissions are likely to peak around 2020 regardless of any ‘climate’ plan.

      Bangladesh didn’t just order two nuclear plants in order to ‘save the planet’. They are too poor to buy coal.

      At a 5% interest rate the only place in the world where coal is cheaper then nuclear is the US and even in the US it’s a close call on the US Eastern Seaboard.

    • If the ACC situation is so dire that we absolutely must stabilize the climate according to the figures above, it seems to me that the battle is already lost.

      Forcing per-capita emissions to “well below 1 metric ton CO2 by 2050” will require measures so onerous and draconian that all developed societies will collapse.

      If this is the case, then James Lovelock is right. We need to forget carbon-trading, green energy, and feel-good rationing schemes and just get straight to triaging the world as we know it — accept that 80% of the human race will perish by 2100 and organize as orderly a retreat to northern redoubts as possible so that a few people will live and a greatly diminished civilization survive.

      If it is not, then what are we talking about?

      • Perhaps people will do things like building dams and drainage systems to store water for dry spells and to hold back potential floods.

        When you actually look at the list of concerns about global warming the list of things that are worrysome becomes pretty short with construction of proper infrastructure. Some here point to potential sea level rise as being their largest concern. If you actually look at the long ternm data, we are currently near to the historic all time lows for sea level……that being a pretty undisputed fact…..where do you think sea level will be going regardless of human actions….UP. Humanity can easily adapt.

      • “accept that 80% of the human race will perish by 2100 and organize as orderly a retreat to northern redoubts as possible so that a few people will live and a greatly diminished civilization survive”

        Canada and Siberia are pretty large – no reason for 80% to perish, this isn’t happening over night.

      • If the arctic ocean was ice free, and the polar regions warm enough for agriculture, the enormous northern land masses of Siberia and Canada could support billions of people. The arctic would become one of the major ocean trading routes of the planet. Almost no one lives there now and the mineral wealth is largely untapped.

        the idea that people are too stupid to move to a better place has never shown itself to be true. the reason people can’t move is because of artificial barriers put in place largely by governments as a means of extracting taxes from the captive population.

      • ferd –
        the idea that people are too stupid to move to a better place has never shown itself to be true.

        1958 – the anthracite coal mines in NE Pennsylvania flooded. ALL of them. Of those who worked the mines, less than 10% moved to other places to find jobs.

        the reason people can’t move is because of artificial barriers put in place largely by governments as a means of extracting taxes from the captive population.

        Or sometimes by artifical “incentives.” Of the 9o% that didn’t move, a VERY large percentage lived on welfare for a very long time – at least until the Republicans limited that kind of activity.

        Not disagreeing with you because historically when things get really bad, people do move. But government interference in the market (like unlimited welfare) upsets natural responses – and creates welfare societies (read: poverty ).

      • When the advocates of AGW like gore start buying land in the arctic instead of california waterfront, then I might be a little less skeptical.

      • If a large percent of the Arctic Sea Ice melts, as is predicted, Canada and Siberia will be covered with Arctic Ocean Effect Snow. Warm causes Cold and Cold causes Warm. Look the temperature history in the Ice Core Data from Greenland and the Antarctic, especially during the most recent ten thousand years. This temperature system is stable and is not likely to go unstable anytime soon.

      • Canada and Siberia covered with snow? I guess the herbivore dinosaurs in Alaska didn’t know about that.

      • what do you think it is covered with now? snow and ice is what grows best in canada today. by all means warm it up.

      • Canada and Siberia are pretty large – no reason for 80% to perish, this isn’t happening over night.

        Harold: The cAGW arguments are not just that it gets warmer and the seas rise, but that the climate changes are so severe that:

        • Staggeringly high temperature rise, especially over land — some 10°F over much of the United States
        • Sea level rise of 3 to 7 feet, rising some 6 to 12 inches (or more) each decade thereafter
        • Dust Bowls over the U.S. SW and many other heavily populated regions around the globe
        • Massive species loss on land and sea — 50% or more of all life
        • Unexpected impacts — the fearsome “unknown unknowns”
        • More severe hurricanes — especially in the Gulf

        In the catastrophic view there won’t be a civilized world in existence to support the trek of six or seven billion refugees to northern latitudes to establish new societies out of bare wilderness.

        If this is the future, I understand why cAGW proponents are so keen to recommend that the world reduce carbon emissions to essentially peasant levels all over the world in a matter of decades.

        Of course, barring the development of Mr. Fusion portable energy generators, it seems to me that forcing such drastic emissions cuts would do a good job of destroying most of the world’s economy and developed societies, which would mean great losses of lives and blighting of lives.

      • So, the alarmists are saying that we should destroy the current society with the knock on effect of killing off a large portion of the current population to prevent exactly the same possibility???


        If we do NOTHING except try to make our society richer and technically more capable we improve the chances that we will figure out a way to deal with whatever comes in the future. The alarmists GUARANTEE FAILURE!!!

      • kuhnkat: They don’t say that we should destroy society, but they don’t really address the challenge of reducing carbon emission levels worldwide to those of the third world without breaking the global economy.

        They seem to think, like Pres. Obama, that just declaring some idiotic target will make it so.

        It reminds me so much of people dieting who declare that in 18 months they will be back to their high school weight on the wrestling team.

      • It reminds me so much of people dieting who declare that in 18 months they will be back to their high school weight on the wrestling team.

        Bingo! Kyoto was exactly like that. Guys…we’re all gonna get together and make a pact…to lose 50 lb…

      • Better analogy: We’re all going to agree that between all of us in the group, we’re going to lose a total of 100 lb. Brilliant, no?

      • huxley,
        I have a reading suggestion before you think AGW fanatics do not want to destroy us:
        Read ‘Time’s Up’, the James Hansen endorsed guide to destroying the World’s industrial and technical capacity by means of terror and sabotage……in order to save Earth from us wicked wicked humans.
        Keith Farnish, the book’s author, for sure has plans for our lives, they involve making them brutish and shot as possible.
        And Hansen thought it was a great idea.

      • Why does everyone talk about having to run to the high latitudes? The tropics won’t change than much in temperature. Grab some sunscreen and come on down!

      • Shhhhhh!

      • HUXLEY

        * Staggeringly high temperature rise, especially over land — some 10°F over much of the United States

        Here, in the northeast, 10 degress would be welcome.

        *Sea level rise of 3 to 7 feet, rising some 6 to 12 inches (or more) each decade thereafter

        Which affects coastal regions and the Great Lakes. We already have hurricanes periodically which destroy coastal communities. These exist because of the federal insurance covering these types of disasters. Change regulations, and this problem goes away over time. No more expensive hurricane damage, and protection against the possibility of sea levels rising over time.

        * Dust Bowls over the U.S. SW and many other heavily populated regions around the globe

        We had a dust bowl already, so we should assume it will happen again. More importantly, most of the desrt SW is populated because of aquifer use. These are quickly being depleted, so long term these areas will likely become less populous regardless.

        * Massive species loss on land and sea — 50% or more of all life

        This is unknown and unknowable. Moreover, this is a value consideration, more than anything else.

        * Unexpected impacts — the fearsome “unknown unknowns”

        Yes, fear is a great selling point (especially if they can’t be disproven, like projections about the future).

        * More severe hurricanes — especially in the Gulf

        See above

        Here’s a basic problem – I tend to evaluate solutions to problems (or any improvement) using the “faster, better, cheaper” ruler – I strongly prefer to have all three, but 2 out of 3 is OK sometimes. CO2 reduction only gets 1 out of three, which in my book is a non-starter.

      • Harold: I’m not arguing in favor of Lovelock’s and Romm’s catastrophic projections.

        I am saying, in response to your earlier suggestion that we could simply relocate 80% of the human race to Canada and Siberia, that no, we couldn’t. If the climate became so disruptive and disrupting, as in the worst cAGW scenarios, that we had to do so, we couldn’t support that kind of resettlement and most of the human race would die.

        My original point was that it would take a threat on the Lovelockian scale to justify the vast draconian effort necessary to reduce per capita CO2 emissions well below one metric ton. If that is the situation, I’d say that the world as know it is entirely doomed either way.

      • That is a completely unsupportable conclusion that sounds dramatic, but is nothing more that a fantasy….bad fantasy

      • the notion that we would not relocate is fantasy. people will fight very hard to survive. think of the people that came to the america’s. my ancestors were among these people. Yours likely are as well.

        look at China and India today to see what the human race is capable of. This is exactly what our great grandparents did, but we have forgotten. we think the world has always been as it was when we were born.

      • the notion that we would not relocate is fantasy.

        Fred B: Certainly people would try to relocate. There’s no denying that. But trying to survive and successfully surviving are not the same things.

        If the central and southern latitudes became so lethal that people five or six billion people felt forced to relocate, there would be total chaos, likely large-scale wars, and a collapse of food supplies and other resources necessary for survival.

        Under such circumstances I can’t imagine five or six billion people with few supplies managing to transport themselves thousands of miles to Canada and Siberia and then building new communities in barren areas. Some would survive such rigors, but they would be very, very few.

      • Canada and Siberia are pretty large – no reason for 80% to perish, this isn’t happening over night.

        Harold: The cAGW arguments are not just that it gets warmer and the seas rise, but that the climate changes are so severe that:

        * Staggeringly high temperature rise, especially over land — some 10°F over much of the United States
        *Sea level rise of 3 to 7 feet, rising some 6 to 12 inches (or more) each decade thereafter
        * Dust Bowls over the U.S. SW and many other heavily populated regions around the globe
        * Massive species loss on land and sea — 50% or more of all life
        * Unexpected impacts — the fearsome “unknown unknowns”
        * More severe hurricanes — especially in the Gulf

        In the catastrophic view there won’t be the resources to support the trek of six or seven billion refugees to northern latitudes to establish new societies out of bare wilderness.

        If this is the future, I understand why cAGW proponents are so keen to recommend that the world reduce carbon emissions to essentially peasant levels all over the world in a matter of decades.

        Of course, barring the development of cheap portable Mr. Fusion energy generators, it seems to me that forcing such drastic emissions cuts would do a good job of destroying most of the world’s economy and developed societies, which would mean great losses of human life and blighting of the remaining lives.

      • The chances of Lovelock being correct about the end of humanity by climate catastrophe is zero.
        It is more likley that we are invaded by galactic aliens.

  19. Most of the article seems to be waffle, and the part that isn’t just unquestioningly quotes all the IPCC’s unjustified claims and numbers.

    • Paul, I agree with you. From the “science” standpoint, the paper is mostly “waffle”.

      But I think if we overlook that, it makes sense from the “policy” standpoint.

      The authors accept the “science” a priori (which I know is not the case for either you or me or many of the bloggers here), but they then go on to state (more or less) “what we’re doing now policy-wise isn’t working, so we should change it”.

      That part makes sense to me.

      Does this mean give up on global carbon caps or taxes? (The authors do not say specifically, but I see that as a possibility – since it is politically infeasible and will not change our climate one iota).

      Does it mean ending the meaningless goals and targets that never worked>? (I think so.)

      Does it mean, in the final analysis, moving away from “mitigation” in the direction of “adaptation”? (I think that will be the result of this shift in approach, since there are no specific actionable proposals, which can be shown based on a cost/benefit analysis to change our climate perceptibly – as you and I both know).

      So I think that this new “political” approach (even if it is based on flawed “science”) is a step in the right direction, because it will get us away from the even sillier “policy” approach now being pursued.

      Just my thoughts, Paul.


      • (to Paul from a different Paul)
        I agree with the slant that manacker outlines.
        The paper isn’t about the science at all, but focusses in on one concept and does a very scholarly job in following the different uses of the concept. Most of the “waffle” is needed or else questions would be asked about this debate or that approach, so they have to anticipate the debate and cover a lot of territory in 10 pages or so. This is why such academic articles are less compelling than books.

        Some readers might prefer to think of it as saying “OK, even if the science that the IPCC assesses were to be the way the IPCC frames it, then there is still a huge problem with a central concept”

  20. “More specifically, the average annual per-capita emissions will have to shrink to well below 1 metric ton CO2 by 2050. ”

    Since this amount is in the range of the amount of CO2 a person produces each year through breathing, the policy goal of the IPCC is total elimination of all fossil fuel by 2050. In other words, now that the developed world has used coal to built their societies, the rest of the world must not use it. Stay in your mud huts, brown and black people of the earth.

    where have we hear this before? do as we say, not as we do. Now that the developed world has used DDT to eliminate malaria from their countries, the rest of the world must not use it to eliminate malaria.

    The hypocrisy is staggering. Greed, self-interest and racism masquerading as “save the planet”.

    • AGW has borrowed those masks from an old trunk labled ‘eugenics’ up in the attic of bad and failed ideas.

    • Clean Development Mechanism was devised to enable mitigation finance to be passed on to developing countries, which would be used to assist economic development, sustainable energy and resource management, as well as adaptation finance, if necessary. I’m pretty sure this is the opposite of racism. Self interest, perhaps (but many of the policies are thought to be win-win) and greed – well, lets not get into who is greedy in the issue of energy and tax. I was under the impression Bush rejected Kyoto on the basis that it would harm US business interests , you know, the things run by those wealthy people who got all the tax breaks because greed is a great incentive.

  21. The Boykoff et al. paper is thought-provoking and represents a shift from conventional opinions on “climate change mitigation”.

    The abstract contains these two sentences:

    we posit that the fundamental premises behind stabilization targets are badly matched to the actual problem of the intergenerational management of climate change, scientifically and politically, and destined to fail.

    we argue that policy proposals for climate stabilization are problematic, infeasible, and hence impede more productive policy action on climate change.

    The summary states:

    This paper therefore argues that while the climate stabilization discourse (and associated ways of thinking/proposing/acting) has been valuable in drawing greater attention to human influences on the global climate, it is time to explicitly move to more productive ways of considering minimizing detrimental impacts from human contributions to climate change.

    This is all pretty clear talk.

    Maybe I am oversimplifying, but here’s how I read this study and it’s summarizing statement:

    In the past, our concentration has been on identifying theoretical human goals and targets for stabilizing our planet’s climate. These have largely been driven by scientific considerations.

    While these have been useful to increase awareness of the potential human influence on our climate, they have not produced any politically acceptable, tangible solutions, i.e. specific actionable proposals, which a) would be accepted politically and b) would have a perceptible impact on our planet’s climate if implemented.

    Now is therefore the time to move beyond simply setting unrealizable mitigation goals and targets without specific action plans and begin looking at ways we can a) mitigate human GHG emissions by shifting away from fossil fuels in a politically and economically acceptable manner and b) adapt to the changes in climate, which are bound to occur, whether they are caused by humans or not.

    While I personally am not convinced that human GHG emissions are the primary driver of our climate and, therefore, represent a serious potential threat, I can agree that the paper makes sense.

    IOW, what we are trying to accomplish with the current political approach of setting “2°C targets” or “reduction of CO2 to X% of the level of year Y by year Z” is not working. So let’s stop doing it and more on to something, which may work.


    • This is all pretty clear talk.

      Indeed. The only way to move forward is to identify and implement “no regrets” type policies. Continuing to insist on non-starters gets us nowhere.

    • Roger Caiazza

      I agree with your characterization of this paper. For what it is worth, I think this paper does a very good job defining issues that I think many of us intuitively suspected but have not have expressed explicitly. For example, the simply defined goal of reducing GHG emissions to mitigate climate change “cannot merely be seen as technologies to benignly stabilize the climate, but rather must be seen as active and heavily politicized interventions”. In my experience dealing with GHG emission policy that is an absolute fact.

      I also agree with the authors that continued reliance on the concept of stabilization is impeding sensible, constructive action. The ultimate problem is that even if we wanted to reduce emissions to the levels proposed to stabilize climate, existing technology simply is not up to the task without hamstringing the economy. The current debate has delayed addressing a long-term plan to develop innovative technology that would be capable of cost-effective carbon reductions.

      The question now is there are two people who are not convinced that human GHG emissions are the primary driver of our climate and, therefore, represent a serious potential threat but agree that the paper makes sense. What about the people who are convinced that human GHG emissions are the primary driver? Are they willing to think about de-carbonizing in a different way?

      • Roger–why are not all “warmist’s” proposing that the US build dozens of modern nuclear power plants each year? This would seem to be something that would reduce CO2 emissions, and be good for the economy both short term and long term. Instead the US environmental movement pushes high speed rail…lol

      • Roger Caiazza

        I agree, in my opinion the environmental non-governmental organizations who call global warming the greatest environmental threat but won’t support nuclear power are hypocrites to the nth degree. At least they could support research into next generation nuclear power but, as you say, they talk about mass transit.

      • And wind. And even then, only if it’s in flyover country. Cant have those nasty things in Cape Cod, nosirree.

      • hey ChE, if you ever visit Northern Europe, you will see acres of bird slicers…probably not generating any electricity, and quite a lot of them disfiguring what used to be picturesque locations till the Green loons came along

      • Mass transit doesn’t work in Wyoming – or Alaska. Or even in a lot of places that it aleady exists – like Washington, DC.

      • Mass transit doesn’t put a significant dent in energy consumption anywhere in the US except New York City. Cities have not only grown outward with suburbs, they also have grown into multicentered megalopoli. The mass transit paradigm only works where there’s an unambiguous hub and density above a threshold. Anywhere else, it only serves a tiny fraction of the residents.

        If you’re going to make a list of things that might mitigate carbon emissions, mass transit isn’t even on the short list. This should be easy to quantify, but these things tend to create their own constituents.

      • ChE,
        Actually the monorail episode rings eerily similar to the scams pushing windmills.

  22. “This paper touches on a number of themes that I have raised at Climate Etc., in an integrated and eloquent way.”

    This paper just seems to be a restatement of the lukewarmer position.
    I did not read the entire paper, just the portion excerpted above, but I didn’t see anything there that has not been discussed here, and more eloquently here if I may disagree. (I find Academicese less cumbersome than Legalese, but only just.)

    Their first point is that consensus scientists may resist their attempt to “reframe” the argument (to fit the lukewarmer perspective, away from mitigation) because their research might then be seen as less essential (and therefore less likely to be funded at current levels).

    Second, if you want to do mitigation, then certainty/uncertainty are essential areas of inquiry, and we’re not being political in saying so (in other words, we’re scientists, not conservatives). Looking at uncertainty raises more questions than it answers. If we can get past arguments about decarbonization, we can discuss on political grounds the more feasible “solutions” of adaptation (rather than disguising decarbonization as an issue of science).

    Third, the consensus succeeded in getting the public’s attention and focusing the debate on climate, but it time for them to come over to the lukewarmer/adaptation side – “for the children”.

    Lukewarmers have been singing this song since I started reading climate blogs. And in my opinion, frequently with better lyrics.

  23. The topic of relative costs for nuclear versus coal-fired electrical power came up earlier.

    At a 5% discount rate new nuclear power plants are competitive with new coal-fired plants across the OECD countries:

    This study was made with a “price of carbon” of $30 per ton of CO2 emitted (equals 2.5 US cents per kWh), but even if this cost is removed, nuclear is still marginally less expensive today across the OECD nations (including USA) than coal.

    France has known this all along.

    So there is no need for a “carbon tax” to shift to nuclear power. It will happen all on its own as regulators and politicians lose their fear of a handful of anti-nuke lobbyists and activists, plus their lawyers, and start granting construction and operating permits (as is happening quietly in the USA and elsewhere today).


    • The study used coal fired generation cost of between $25 and $50/MWh.

      The only place in the world where the cost of the coal alone is less then $50/MWh is the US. Along the US Eastern Seaboard the cost of coal alone is pretty close to $40/MWh. (10 million BTU’s/MWh)

      The real challenge with nuclear is getting to an 80% utilization rate on day one of physical operation. In developing countries thats now a problem as the people will use whatever is available whenever it’s available.

      In developed countries to get to 80% capacity factor on day one an already existing fossil fired plant would have to close at the same time. Figuring out a mechanism to do that in a manner acceptable to the owners of the existing facilities is a bit of a challenge, at ‘planned retirement’ is the happiest point from the owners standpoint.

    • I’ve already observed on this blog (in about a week here) that the one most vociferously concerned about climate change is also absolutely dead set against nuke. Just an observation.

    • The US will go nuclear, when there is enough pain, and after the current New Left of the Democratic Party has been discredited and loses its stranglehold.

      But it will get worse before it gets better and we will regret the decades we lost since Three Mile Island.

      • And the expertise and infrastructure and time lost in developing the next generation. The real price of killing the nuclear power engineering and construction industry is the fact that the “4G” technologies are as far out of our reach now as they were in 1980. If we’d have approached that with cooler heads, we’d likely be doing pebble bed and molten salt and maybe even thorium by now. And certainly we’d be generating a lot less radioactive waste per MWH than the old plants we’re stuck with now.

      • But ChE, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A great deal of the nuclear waste is perfectly good fuel for other reactor types. CANDU reactors can use spent LWR rods. So small modular LWR are not a bad choice in the US as Canada and hopefully Generation IV reactors can use the spent rods. SMR also make integration into the grid much simpler, saving a lot of infrastructure costs. If you need another bonus, the standard designs allow them to be brought online much faster even with current over regulation.

        BTW, I am not a big fan of Pebble Bed reactors. While the balls make transport and storage of spent fuel somewhat easier, they make it totally impractical to recycle fuel.

      • That was what I was driving at when I said “And certainly we’d be generating a lot less radioactive waste per MWH than the old plants we’re stuck with now. We can do some reprocessing now, but reactors on the horizon can do a lot more.

        This is what we could have been 30 years further down the road toward:

      • News Flash! Obama is pushing drill, baby, drill. Ain’t that a kick in the pants.

      • And notice, since you’re a hydrogen fan, that one of those generates H2 directly.

      • Any VHT or Super critical water has its highest efficiency based on hydrogen production. Hydrogen is another one of the scary things thanks to unfounded fears. Hydrogen enriched natural gas and peak power generation will be a big deal. It is a shame that I will probably not see my kick butt Hydrogen Fuel Cell Hummer. Big vehicle platforms are best for FCV and a “green hummer” would be the perfect irony.

      • They are getting a serious test of Nuke plant safety systems in Japan.

      • Again, the newer technology is more passively safe, and better able to withstand a mega earthquake than the old school technology we have now. I don’t know any details of the plant in
        Japan, but let’s hope it’s able to take this.

      • ChE, that is a little bit of misunderstanding. The older Light Water Reactor technology is designed on a negative temperature coefficient with a water moderator. That is a walk away, passively safe design. The newer technology expands those concepts to allow more complicated designs to approach that safety level. CANDU for example has a slight positive temperature coefficient and relies on less idiot proof safeties to compensate for a potentially unsafe design. The odds for major incidents is very low in both cases, but the magnitude of an incident is greater with the newer designs. 52 of Japan’s reactors are LWR.

        I am not trying to scary anyone away from nuclear. Worst case events are not the science fiction stuff that makes everyone glow in the dark. Loss of use is main concern.

      • The reactors having problems in Japan appears to be a generation II Boiling Water Reactor. There is a lot of non-sense in the media, but there may have been some fuel damage. The tsunami may have taken out the back-up generators needed for the back-up coolant pumps. I am not familiar with the GE-Hatachi design, but this should be a worst case event like TMI.

        This link, has the best report I could find. The utility company told Reuters that some fuel may be damaged. If the plant has a gravity fed coolant reservoir, the core damage should be a lot less than TMI. So they may not lose the reactor.

    • Mitigating flooding has historically been done with dams, with the obvious benefit of hydro power generation. The only current federal effort regarding dams I’m aware of it to force them to be removed. Less electricity, more flooding.

  24. This statment ” Thus stabilization policy becomes difficult given (1) the
    scientific community’s lack of progress on narrowing the possible
    range on climate sensitivity and (2) the timescale mismatch
    between equilibrium concentration and temperature targets and
    short- to medium-term policy formulation. ”
    and the quote from Hansen et al 1988 provide the best reason to question the basis for MAJOR POLITICAL reaction. Dr Hanson is an activist and his temporatures have no scientific basis. BC Canada implemented the hated carbon TAX and it was not very well thought out…. The results are spiral increases in Civic Taxes and food prices as the Tax is passed onto the public. Hey Joe public …… just bend over….. The sheer number of unknowns in climate make the claims for imediate CARBON reduction laughable.

  25. “This paper touches on a number of themes that I have raised at Climate Etc.”
    I’m sorry Judith, I don’t think so — at least, not if you are also considering how you interpret the ‘themes’.

    To be very clear, the recommended paper is a ‘critical’ i.e. progressive, exploration of the ethical and social issues. While it raises economic issues, it mostly takes up issues from a perspective that you have not examined here on ClimateEtc.

    The authors argue that contemporary lifestyles are not sustainable, and climate change policy requires ethical ( not just economic) change.

    One of the authors has previously illustrated how the American media has outright manufactured perceptions of conflict, when there is in fact emerging consensus on human-caused climate change; and he continues to examine how the mass media has failed to cover the facts of climate change. Another examines how the ethical dimensions of the climate crisis have been superseded by technical questions and commercial interests, thus averting attention from the facts and impacts of climate change. All three authors of this paper are focused on how climate change will devastate people around the world and is already occurring and affecting e.g. land use, and requires more radical policy intervention.

    Where do you say any of this?

    If you understand, then you know that their arguments support more radical change than just the popular economic targets, in the transformation from a carbon-based economy.

    But I don’t think yo, or many commenters, have understood.

    • “Another examines how the ethical dimensions of the climate crisis have been superseded by technical questions and commercial interests”

      I think I read a slightly different paper than the one you’re talking about. Commercial interests weren’t mentioned.

      • Harold,
        My point is that Judith Curry may want to read some of their other work in order to know what they are talking about. Apparently, you too.

        Google. It can change your life. ;-)

      • Martha, I’m certainly willing to believe the words and phrases they used may be some cover for their “real” positions, but the paper says what it says.

    • Martha

      Yes the paper does take positions on what you describe as ethical and social issues, but it also points out the currently little is being done for the obvious reasons. The authors do take a view that it is the problem rooted in contemporary lifestyles…..vs. also looking at the alarming high birth rates of emerging societies….who want those same lifestyles.

      You write about an “emerging consensus” on human caused climate change. What is it that you believe there is a consensus regarding??? Personally, I see one only on a few macro issues such as:

      “Will additional CO2 have a warming effect on the planet if all other factors remain unchanged”.

      I see no consensus on the degree of potential warming, what the impact will be on specific countries or regions, or even if that potential warming would be good or bad overall for humanity in the long term. The mass media in the west certainly did report the facts on climate change; it simply did not put out the inaccurate propaganda that you wish had been communicated.

      Ethics are a mater of positional perception. From your perspective, some interests have relatively higher weights in the analysis than others have. That does not make your values better or worse. There is no evidence that climate change will devastate people around the world. That is simply untrue. There is evidence that when people do not take action to prepare for an ever changing environment/climate that at some point they are likely to suffer harm.

      Please remember, you do not live on some utopian world with one government looking after the citizens of the planet. You seem to wish that was the case, but it simply is not. There is no process to force countries to be less corrupt and to take care of their populace by ensuring infrastructure is built to take care of long term needs.

      I understood the article; I do not think you understand the real world and what can be accomplished in the real world.

      Btw- what do you think about the US building large numbers of nuclear plants? Do you support this or not?

    • and climate change policy requires ethical ( not just economic) change

      Have a care…history hasn’t looked favorably on those ideologies that “require ethical change”.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        history hasn’t looked favorably on those ideologies that “require ethical change”.

        As opposed to the sterling reputation of Rome in its dotage and the Gilded Age.

      • You’ll note that Christianity’s status went from “tolerated” to “official state religion” in less than 70 years during Rome’s dotage. Didn’t anarchism’s heyday coincide with the Gilded Age? However, I was originally thinking more about the plight of los moriscos as well as the “New Soviet Man”.

        The spam filter seems to be eating posts with links…so should a dupe appear later, my apologies.

      • good old Jeffrey…still gazing up at his picture of Uncle Joe Stalin every night bef0re he goes to bed…

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Did you know that the species pseudobufo subasper was threatened? I don’t believe it. They seem to be thriving.

    • So at heart the CO2 obsession grows from the sourpuss progressive delusion that human prosperity can not grow sufficiently to make hard core lefties stop their compulsion to screw people over in the name of some oxymoronic ‘social justice’?

    • Martha
      Rather than attempt to guess your mind, please could you answer this question to expand on your comment above. In your ideal world, what policy responses would you like to see enacted? Give us some examples.

  26. Martha, you read: “it is time to explicitly move to more productive ways of considering minimizing detrimental impacts from human contributions to climate change” as meaning “support[ing] more radical change than just the popular economic targets, in the transformation from a carbon-based economy.”

    The “economic target” of the consensus is zero carbon, and you say the authors are urging “more radical change” than that? Minimizing impacts (adaptation) is more radical than zero carbon (mitigation)? Did you read the same paper?

  27. His critique of the current paradigm is completely valid, however one thing the policy people don’t seem to address is that along with the uncertainty in climate predictions, we have to add in the uncertainty of technology development. All the accurate climatological forecasts and economic models in the world won’t map out a best path without a good crystal ball for technological advancement.

    This is a huge weakness in the entire notion of climate policy. Too many people think that green or clean technology will simply emerge through some sort of magical Moore’s law-like process, or simply wish it into existence with no rationale, or assume that it’s already here, except for some conspiracy by Big Oil to keep it off the market.

    If you’re going to talk about “climate stabilization”, in addition to all of the issues Pielke listed, some sort of rational and reasonable path of technological evolution needs to part of it.

    And we all know what a great track record futurists have. Where’s my flying car that the futurists in the 1960s promised that we’d have before 2000?

    • ChE

      What you just wrote about technological evolution is exactly right.

      To make a climate projection for year 2100 (or even further down the line) is not only arrogant, it is downright ludicrous.

      In 1860 a study in Manchester concluded that the city would be covered in 2 meters of horse manure by 1920 as a result of the rapidly increasing number of horse carriages.


    • And we all know what a great track record futurists have. Where’s my flying car that the futurists in the 1960s promised that we’d have before 2000?

      The technology’s there for the car, but they’re still trying to figure out how to create a driver capable of handling it. :) Given the prospects of texting while flying and Mothers Against Drunk Flying, I’m happy to have that little idea stay on the drawing board.

    • Speaking of Moore’s Law, we’re seeing the end of it right now. That has definite large economic impact worldwide – maybe we need an international panel on moore’s law?

  28. ChE

    More on the “horse manure crisis” here:

    Nassim Taleb covers this inevitable failing of longer-term predictions in his book, The Black Swan. A classic response (when the prediction turns out to be wrong) is:

    “Well, it was right, except for…”

    Ever hear that one?


    • Not to mention the many thousands who met a grisly end under hoof and wheel every year in London alone, and the hundreds of thousands who suffered sickness and worse from the effects of the ground-up manure dust.
      Of course, the streets in affluent areas were kept clean.

  29. The hubris and folly of believing that we are anywhere close to managing the climate is bigger than the the folly of 19th and early 20th century intelligentisia believing they could control the quality of people by breeding choices and laws.

  30. Dr. Curry,

    It seems the spam filter is eating comments again.

  31. Jeffrey Davis… why do you bother posting here? He who lies down with dogs, gets up with fleas.

  32. More- over the name Stop Climate Chaos has a strange Canute-ishness about it, as though we either could or should stand together on a beach and command, in the name of good climate governance, that change and variability cease.

    Much wisdom in that.

  33. OK. The lead article was more scholarly than what I’m going to write, but I believe that my approach to “climate stabilization” is probably more down to Earth.

    As Yogi Berra once said:

    It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future

    But some people are worried about CO2 levels reaching “dangerous” levels, where “tipping points” of our climate could occur. Some scientists have suggested that this critical level could be around 450 ppmv.

    These worries are all based on “predictions about the future” (IPCC prefers to call them “projections”).

    IPCC has shown several “scenarios” for CO2 growth until 2100, but are these realistic?

    The lowest compounded annual growth rate (scenario B1) is 0.45%, or a bit higher than the actually observed CAGR over the past 50+ years (since Mauna Loa measurements were installed), or the CAGR for the most recent 5 years (both = 0.42%). This scenario ends up with a CO2 level of 580 ppmv by 2100.

    The most extreme scenario (A1F1) has CO2 increasing to almost 1600 ppmv by 2100. This is absurd, because this represents more carbon than is contained in all the optimistically estimated fossil fuel reserves of our planet!

    From 1960 to 2010 human population exploded from ~3 billion to ~7 billion. This is a CAGR of 1.7% per year, while atmospheric CO2 increased at a CAGR of 0.42% per year.

    The UN tells us that human population growth has already slowed down and that the population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2100 (Wiki). If this estimate is correct, this would represent an average CAGR of 0.28% per year.

    From 1960 to 2010 atmospheric CO2 grew at roughly one-fourth the rate of population growth, so it seems highly unlikely that it will suddenly grow at a rate significantly higher than population. The higher IPCC scenarios assume CO2 growth rates two to five times as high as the UN estimate for population growth, so I think they can all be discarded as unrealistic.

    So let’s concentrate on IPCC scenario B1.

    Now let’s make some predictions (a bad thing to do, according to Yogi, but let’s do it anyway).

    We have seen that new nuclear power generation plants are slightly more economical today than new coal plants (even without a carbon tax). So let’s assume that no new coal plants are built after 2015 (for economic reasons), and that, in the industrially developed and developing nations, essentially all new capacity plus replacement capacity for old coal plants that are phased out will be nuclear (today’s technology). Some new coal-fired capacity will be built in underdeveloped (non-nuclear) nations as these build up an energy infrastructure to pull their populations out of abject poverty, but this will be more than offset by the phasing out of old coal plants in the developed world.

    [Although this has no impact on the calculation, let’s also assume that solar and wind – plus other “renewables” will be used locally, where this makes economic sense, but that government subsidies for these technologies will stop and they will not represent a significant portion of the total.]

    On this basis, CO2 emissions from coal should peak around 2030 and decline gradually as old coal plants are phased out and replaced with nuclear. More importantly, the real pollutants from coal combustion: SO2, NOx, particulates, mercury, arsenic, etc., will be reduced significantly.

    Let’s also assume that emissions from oil will peak a bit later (say 2040), as battery technology improves and hybrid and all electric cars become more economical and popular. Let’s also assume that realistic bio-fuel technologies (algae, etc.) will also be developed, which will reduce the net CO2 generated from motor fuels.

    Combustion of natural gas will continue, particularly as a clean and convenient source for domestic and commercial heating or for peak-load power generation, but the growth rate will slow down and level off as it becomes less abundant and more expensive.

    Today around 20-25% of oil and natural gas ends up in higher added-value non-combustion end uses (petrochemicals, fertilizers, etc.). As these resources become scarcer and more expensive this percentage is very likely to increase.

    We also assume that CO2 has a half-life in our climate system of 120 years (this is on the high side of most estimates).

    On this basis, atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase from today’s 390 ppmv to somewhere between 450 and 500 ppmv, late this century, at which point it will level off and then gradually decline.

    So if it reaches 450-500 ppmv by 2100 this will cause a theoretical increase in temperature from today of around 0.6°C to 1°C (IPCC midpoint CS of 3°C for 2xCO2 and all other things being equal – itself an unlikely assumption).

    So, while making predictions for the future is tough (as Yogi Berra warned), it looks to me that it’s very likely we don’t have anything to worry about if we just continue doing what makes economic sense.


    • I’m going to put my PE stamp on your numbers there as reasonable (with large error bars). I think that’s about the most likely scenario as I see see things developing. But I’m still wondering where my George Jetson flying car is.

  34. John Carpenter

    Adapting to whatever the future may bring seems to be a much better use of resources than trying to mitigate a compound essential to life on earth. Why is there the belief that our current climate is somehow the most optimum one in the history of the planet and therefore must be preserved at all costs? Are we at some magical average temperature that shouldn’t be disturbed?

  35. >That this discourse is tethered to contemporary policy proposals is unsurprising; but that it has remained relatively free of critical scrutiny can be associated with fears of unsettling often-tenuous political processes taking place at multiple scales.<

    In other words, we are not ready just yet to frighten the horses further

    That the depth of intellectual dishonesty displayed here does not inspire more widespread derision has lead me to my current state of cynicism … and this viewpoint is eminently defensible

  36. I believe it was Pielke Sr. who wrote a piece a few years ago in Nature asserting the folly of claims that climate mitigation and adaptation were antithetical. Both, he argued, would be needed for adequate protection against the dangers of unremitting climate change.

    Without delving too deeply into the specifics, I would like to register my agreement. In an ideal world of humans guided by long term, enlightened self interest tempered by a sense of community, mitigation alone might serve us well by itself – as an international community, we could embark collectively at a modest pace to move away from fossil fuels through conservation, increased energy efficiency, alternative energy substitution, and a fair means of distributing the interim cost burden to fall on those whose relatively affluent lives would be little impacted. In the real world, such a realization is a fantasy.

    It is an equal fantasy, however, in my estimation, to expect that the full measure of adaptation needed to secure our civilization, worldwide, against the worst realistic climate scenarios of the next century will be enacted by political leaders whose interests rarely lie beyond the next election. Even in our affluent U.S. society, we are not yet ready to protect New Orleans against another Katrina, but the worst dangers are those that face impoverished and third world nations that are even less prepared to pour huge resources into protections against threats of uncertain magnitude and imminence.

    In both cases, we can identify what might be within human capability, and what will in fact be undertaken, and the two are widely disparate. We therefore must act on the expectation that in terms of both mitigation and adaptation, we will do much less than what is optimal. Given that reality, it is fair to say that even if both are combined, we are in no danger of overdoing it.

    There is a larger argument, however. I would suggest that mitigation and adaptation are not only not antithetical, but are synergistic. Combining the two, in my view, will cost less in effort, sacrifice, and capital than either one alone. A principal reason for this lies in the fact that adaptation is much more effective against a stationary target than a moving one. If we knew, for example, approximately how much flood protection of coastal cities, or how much irrigation of drought-vulnerable agricultural regions would be prudent by 2050, we could judiciously invest in the proper infrastructure without either underfunding the effort or overspending scarce resources. On the other hand, if we guess at a figure (likely to be underestimated by cost-wary politicians), and the climate has moved on by the time the protections materialize, we may discover in 2050 that we had only protected against a 2030 climate. The value of concurrent mitigation, then, is to slow the pace of change sufficiently so that our adaptive efforts can be tailored to the pace of change that does occur. It is better to have to add 30 centimeters to a flood barrier than to tear it down and build another 1.5 meters higher that might itself need replacement a generation later. Mitigation will not make our target stationary, but it should change a sprint into a marathon.

    There is one potentially devastating consequence of continued anthropogenic CO2 emissions that I find difficult at this point to match with a clear adaptation strategy. That is ocean acidification (referring to an increase in hydrogen ion concentration and not to a pH below 7). Human civilization depends heavily on the sea and its bounty in many parts of the world, and the threat to the food chain of unmitigated acidification is considerable. Perhaps, ingenuity will find a way to help us adapt to that danger, if it is as serious as it seems poised to be, but what the strategy may be is hard to identify. It may be the case that the effect of CO2 on the oceans will prove the more daunting of all the burdens we face than any future effect on temperatures based on the known availability of fossil fuel reserves.

    All this remains to be seen (and ocean acidification deserves much more than an exchange of comments in this thread), but if we are to address stabilization, we need to remember all the things that need to be stabilized. In the meantime, a concerted and prompt effort to exploit the synergism between adaptive and mitigative efforts aimed at a warming world deserves our attention.

    • Fred,
      Try to follow this:
      The entire concept of ‘climate stabilization’ is pure unadulterated bunk.
      The idea, as some have expressed here, that by managing CO2 we can mange the climate is not only ignorant, it is dangerous ignorance.
      It is voodoo. It is UFOology.
      The only thing we need to do is to try and stop enviro wack jobs from halting progress, keep pushing for cleaner, cheaper more reliable and abundant and smaller footprint power sources, and do what we ahve always done: adapt to a changing world.
      The idea of managing the Earth’s climate system at the level of technology and understanding we presently have, or will have in the foreseeable future, is nutz.

      • Completely agree.

        The whole thing is not even wrong. If they could rise to the “wrong- level”, the science might progress.

    • @Fred Moolten

      I would partially agree with you. “Mitigation” will not “get us there”.

      There will be no global carbon tax, so we can forget about that “mitigation” step.

      Incidentally, such a tax (direct or indirect) would not have changed our planet’s climate one iota, anyway (no tax ever did).

      But even more pertinent is that there have been no actionable “mitigation” proposals, which would result in a perceptible change to our climate.

      There was one specific actionable “mitigation” proposal made that I have seen. A recent NASA-GISS paper in Env. Sci. Tech., co-authored by James E. Hansen calls for the shutting down of all coal-fired power plants in the USA by 2030, in order to avoid the global warming caused by the emitted CO2.

      Now I am convinced that coal-fired power will gradually be replaced by nuclear power as older , less efficient coal plants become ready for decommissioning and are phased out. This will be a natural process, driven by economics.

      That is a different thing than forcibly shutting down all perfectly viable coal-fired plants and replacing them with non-fossil fuel plants (presumably nuclear).

      What effect would this step actually have on global warming? And what would it cost?

      The paper tells us that 1,994 billion kWh/year were generated from coal in 2009 and that the average CO2 emission is 1,000 tons CO2 per GWh generated.

      So by 2030 Hansen’s plan would reduce CO2 emissions by roughly 2 GtCO2 per year.

      Roughly half of this “stays” in the atmosphere (with the rest disappearing into the ocean, the biosphere or outer space) so the annual reduction in the atmospheric portion after 2030 will be around 1 GtCO2/year and over the period from today to year 2100 the cumulative reduction would be 80.5 GtCO2.

      The mass of the atmosphere is 5,140,000 Gt.

      So the net reduction in atmospheric CO2 by 2100 would be around 16 ppm(mass) or 10 ppmv.

      If we assume (as IPCC does) that by year 2100 the atmospheric CO2 level (without Hansen’s plan) will be around 580 ppmv (“scenario B1”), this means that with Hansen’s plan it will be 570 ppmv.

      Today we have 390 ppmv.

      Using IPCC’s 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3.2C we have:

      Case 1 – no Hansen plan
      580 ppmv CO2
      ln(580/390) = 0.397
      ln(2) = 0.693
      dT (warming from today to 2100) = 3.2 * 0.397 / 0.693 = 1.83°C

      Case 2 – Hansen plan implemented
      570 ppmv CO2
      ln(570/390) = 0.379
      ln(2) = 0.693
      dT (warming from today to 2100) = 3.2 * 0.379 / 0.693 = 1.75°C

      So Hansen’s plan will result in a total theoretical reduction of global temperature by year 2100 of 0.08°C.

      But what will this imperceptible reduction of global temperature cost?

      The total, all-in capital cost investment to replace 1,994 billion kWh/year capacity with the least expensive alternate (current nuclear fission technology) is between $4,000 and $8,000 per installed kW (say $6,000 on average). [Note: If we replace it with wind or solar, it will cost significantly more, due in part to the low on-line factor, which will necessitate some sort of a backup system, when there is nowwind (or sun).]

      1,994 billion kWh/year at a 90% on-line factor represents an installed capacity of:
      1994 / 8760 * .9 = 0.251 billion kWh

      This equals an investment cost of 0.251 * 6,000 = $1.5 trillion

      I think it is pretty obvious why Hansen and his co-authors do not run us through this cost/benefit analysis.

      And this is the basic problem, Fred, as I see it: we cannot change our planet’s climate at will, so we are stuck with having to adapt to any climate changes that nature (or human activities) throw at us.


      • John Carpenter

        Interesting analysis.

        I noted a short article in C&ENews this week entitled “Assessing the Cost of Greenhouse Gases” in the business section. If current regulations were to come to pass, by 2030 Utilities are projected to pay $650 Billion dollars as the price for emitting CO2. Basic resources would pay $250 Billion, Construction and Materials over $100 billion etc… down the line. The lowest category listed, Personal & Houshold Goods, look to be less than $50 Billion.

        So glad that won’t affect me at all.

      • More then 90% of US Coal Fired Generating Capacity will be more then 40 years old in 2030. 1/3rd of US coal fired generating capacity is already more then 40 years old. Peak US coal fired generating plant construction was between 1970 and 1974. 66GW was built.

      • I agree that shutting down coal-fired power plants in the U.S. alone would have little impact. Shutting them down globally would probably reduce the global temperature rise by about 2C, based on calculations I described in two previous threads. I won’t repeat them here, because it isn’t going to happen. However, what happens in the U.S. affects policies elsewhere, and moderate mitigation efforts could bolster intentions to do the same in other nations in the face of resistance. As I suggested above, adaptation must also be part of the mix, although adaptation to warming won’t circumvent the ocean acidification problem.

      • Fred– There is no evidence that what you state is true regarding the US actions leading other countries to specific actions on such a policy. You hope that if the US takes some expensive action it will motivate other countries to do so, but there is nothing that shows it really happens on any significant economic level…..unless the US pays for the effort……..which we have no money to do

      • Rob – Many nations have taken more initiative than we have to mitigate carbon emissions. Because we are historically the greatest emitter, and second only to China as the greatest current emitter, these nations have great difficulty pursuing their initiatives if we fail to take similar measures. To date, we have been a source of discouragement. At the least, we can stop doing that before concluding that our policies have no impact.

        I feel secure in making that prediction. I’m also convinced that positive actions we take as part of a coordinated international effort will have affirmative effects that go beyond “non-discouragement”, but not being a fortune teller, I can only state that as a personal estimate.

      • Fred- I do not think you are looking at the bigger picture. The countries that yor are referencing are already highly industrialized and their CO2 emissions would e going down as a percentage of GDP in any case. On a global scale itis the countries whose CO2 emissions will be increasing on a per capita basis that will drive worldwide CO2 emissions.

        There is no evidence that those countries are going to do take any actions that would be more expensive to them because of some US action. The US needs to do what is smart for the US is my basic point. Smart actions for the US would be to discourage consumption of oil (because of both CO2 and the outflow of capital) by higher taxes on oil products and converting to nuclear and other forms of energy production.

        I do not think it is a wise action for the US to implement any policy that would be uneconomical for the US with the “hope” that it will encourage others nations to do something.

      • We do agree on an oil-related tax (I would make it a carbon tax), and on incorporation of nuclear energy into our alternative energy portfolio. I would disagree with any measure that incentivizes coal consumption here or elsewhere.

      • I’m definitely on board with increasing nuclear capacity, but I’d have a hard time getting behind any sort of carbon tax, both for economic and political reasons (frankly, I don’t trust Congress, regardless of who holds the majority, to use the extra revenue wisely). Like Fred, I agree that we don’t need to promote coal consumption.

      • Rob Starkey and Fred Moolton

        Instead of an “oil tax” (which, itself, will not decrease US dependency on imported oil) a better solution for the USA would be to “drill, baby, drill!” (including opening up the vast oil shale deposits, which are estimated to equal Saudi Arabia in recoverable reserves).

        This will happen, of course.

        But even more importantly, natural economic factors will most likely gradually take care of the “carbon problem”, as I outlined above. Oil from shale will undoubtedly be more expensive than oil from the Middle East today, so will this set the new price in USA? Will this, plus improved battery technology, make hybrid or electric cars more attractive? Will bio-fuel research (algae) now being conducted by major oil companies open up an entirely new source? At what oil price will these be attractive?

        Lots of things will happen naturally, Fred, without “big brother” having to impose an “oil tax”.


      • Max
        I do support utilization of more of the US domestic resources, but also believe the US needs to minimize the consumption of petroleum for fuel overall over the long term. The resources you describe will be valuable 100 years from now for items other than fuel for power plants.

      • @Fred Moolten

        You wrote:

        I agree that shutting down coal-fired power plants in the U.S. alone would have little impact. Shutting them down globally would probably reduce the global temperature rise by about 2C

        30% of global coal-fired power generation is in USA. Shutting these all down would theoretically reduce global warming by 0.08C by year 2100, as I showed.

        So shutting them down globally would theoretically reduce the global temperature rise in 2100 by about 0.25C (not 2C, as you have written).

        Get your figures right, Fred.

        We can’t change our climate, Fred (even if we wanted to – which, as you say, is most unlikely).


      • Max – My calculations show a difference of about 2C for a global coal shutdown. Having posted them twice in detail, I won’t do another repetition unless evidence is provided that such an extensive shift in coal usage is a realistic possibiliity.

        I’m trying to stay on topic by confining myself to measures that are within the realm of feasibility, but if you want to email me, I’ll send you a copy of my previous calculations.

      • Fred- I showed you the US numbers previously and you could not point out anything in those numbers that seemed incorrect. I’d be interested in seeing how you did the math. I had taken what Max did and only changed it minimally

      • Rob – You first brought this up about a month or two ago. I responded in the same thread, and you can probably find my response several comments down from your original comment.

      • Isn’t the point academic? There is no way that developing countries are going to stop using coal, short of a technological breakthrough or a gun held to their heads.

        If the US wants to shoot itself in the foot by not using coal, a large number of countries around the world are not going to follow your example. By and large it will be seen as just desserts

        For years the US was by far the largest source of human CO2, which you spread around the planet without any concern for the other countries of the earth, polluting the rest of the world. CO2 is pollution, your scientists tell us so. Thus, the US is responsible for most of the problem.

        Now that the US finalyl recognizes the problem, you want the other countries of the earth to stop producing CO2. Give me a friggin’ break. It is called the chickens coming home to roost.

        GALATIANS 6: (KJV)
        7: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

      • Rob – I believe it was actually about 2C for total future fossil fuel consumption over that interval, with coal contributing about 1.25 C.

      • Fred

        What Max originally put together (and I lazily copied and slightly modified) shows a .27C reduction in potential warming based on eliminating all coal fired power plants worldwide. It would also cost $5 T dollars. I have shown the numbers multiple times and and not had a single person be able to show anything they thought was incorrect on the cost benefit analysis

      • Fred Berple,

        and thank the lord that we and the rest of the industrial nations have massively increased CO2 in the atmosphere. It has helped the reforestation and improved crop yields. It will also be important in the future whether we get warmer or cooler as the effects on plants is to make them hardier under all conditions including need for less water!!

      • Fred, I hope you understand that because of the logarithmic nature of Arrhenius’ law (among other things), you can’t just add temperature rises like that.

      • Rob – Assume that coal consumption generates the major fraction by far of fossil fuel CO2 by 2100, that coal reserves are about 900-1000 Gtons, that about 90% of coal carbon is converted to CO2, that about half remains in the atmosphere, and that climate sensitivity is about 3C. Let me know what you calculate.

      • Fred

        Let’s play a little “hard ball” here.

        I’ve posted my calculation on Hansen’s plan for the USA.

        I’ve shown you that this represents 30% of world coal power generation capacity.

        Now you come with your “calculation” (but you don’t want to show it).

        Get serious, Fred.

        There is NO WAY that shutting down the world’s coal-fired plants by 2030 will reduce global warming by 2100 by 2C.

        Until you show how you arrived at this figure, this is simply an unsubstantiated pipe dream.

        Don’t play with me here, Fred. Put up your calculation or “forever hold your peace”.


      • I’ve shown you that this represents 30% of world coal power generation capacity.

        Now you come with your “calculation” (but you don’t want to show it).

        Get serious, Fred.

        With all due respect, Max, expecting Fred – or Bart, for that matter – to “get serious” i.e. to move beyond appeal to the authority of his own “expertise” [as demonstrated by his “because I said so” arguments – and other assorted exercises in handwaving] is somewhat akin to, well, tilting at windmills ;-)

      • 30% of global coal-fired power generation is in USA

        China alone has more then twice US coal fired capacity.
        680GW as of Oct 2009.

        China produced 3,200 TWh of electricity in 2010 from coal.
        US produced 1,800 TWh of electricity in 2010 from coal.
        EU-25 produced around 1,000 TWh of electricity from coal.

        The US consumes 1 billion tons per year out of the global production of 6 billion tons per year.

        Not all coal gets burned in power plants, at least a billion tons, probably closer to 2 billion tons goes into making cement and steel.

      • what happens in the U.S. affects policies elsewhere

        Not really. Coal is a highly localized resource. It costs between $15 and $20/ton just for the boat ride for a ton of coal from Australia to India. If costs 3 cents/mile to ship a ton of coal by rail overland.

        Take a $14 ton of 8500 BTU/pound Wyoming coal, it’s 1,000 miles by rail to the nearest seaport, then add $20 for the boat ride to India, then add $10 for the cost of transporting from the port to the power plant.

        That $14 ton of coal costs $74 by the time it gets burned in India for about $4.35/ million BTU. Above the price where nuclear becomes cost competitive.

        Double the price of diesel fuel and that 3 cent per mile overland rail trip becomes 5 cents per mile.

        The only reason to build a coal fired plant anywhere in the world outside the US is that you can’t get a nuclear plant in the time frame desired or you have a staunchly anti nuclear population.

      • China is importing coal – China and Green Technology, although they are also investing in nuclear power.

      • The global nuclear power construction companies are taking orders for completion dates in the 2019+ range at the moment.

        The Chinese have upped their ‘estimate’ for nuclear builds from adding 30 GW by 2020 to adding 40 GW by 2015 in the last 3 years. They also pulled forward their 2020 hydro,wind and solar plans to 2015 as well.

      • “what happens in the U.S. affects policies elsewhere”

        It does in some ways. The US has the world’s largest reserves of coal. If the EPA restricts the use of coal in US power plants, then this will drive the price of US coal even lower, making it more attractive in China and India. China and India will increase their imports of US coal to further reduce their costs of energy production. In effect the US citizens will be subsidizing the costs of energy production in China and India. The Chinese and Indians will be laughing all the way to the bank about the stupid Americans.

      • As I’ve said before.

        The cost of shipping a ton of 8500 BTU/lb Wyoming steam coal to China or India from the US is at least $60/ton.

        In 2008 USGS resurveyed the Powder River Basin

        The Gillette coal field, which contains 200 billion of the US’s supposed 480 billion ton coal reserves has 10 billion tons left that is ‘economically extractable’ at the current price.

        The vast majority of US coal exports are metallurgical coal, not steam coal.

      • “The only reason to build a coal fired plant anywhere in the world outside the US is that you can’t get a nuclear plant in the time frame desired or you have a staunchly anti nuclear population.”

        Malaysia is building coal plants because they have coal. Cut a new road through the hills, you find a coal seam. The haze from the coal plants if anything cools the local climate mid day and warms it at night, which is a bonus in the tropics. The CO2 boosts crop production. A plus all around.

        The one negative from the power plants is the increase in corrosion due to increased CO2. Many people think that O2 is what causes steel and iron to rust. It isn’t. It is CO2 and H2O that catalyze the oxidation of iron.


        According to EIA in 2009 Malaysia mined 1.5 million tons of coal and consumed 7.5 million.

        The plans for more coal fired generating capacity in Malaysia seem to have run into trouble.

    • Latimer Alder


      Why not call it ‘ocean neutralisation’? Or ‘a decrease in hydroxyl ion concentration’?

      The deliberate and misleading use of the emotive term ‘ocean acidification’ (remember ‘Acid Rain’?) suggests that you are becoming an advocate, not the disinterested scientist you claim at such length to be.

      • Fred was not an advocate?
        OA is one of the most annoying sales tools the climate calamity promoters use.

      • andrew adams

        Why not call it ‘ocean neutralisation’? Or ‘a decrease in hydroxyl ion concentration’?

        Why, are the effects of a change in the pH level of the ocean mitigated by calling it something different?

      • aa,
        You are of course correct. Nothing significant is happening in the ocean pH system no matter how alarmists try to label it otherwise.

      • andrew adams


        So ocean pH levels haven’t been steadily decreasing and won’t continue to do so if the oceans continue to absorb more CO2?

      • Andrew–what do you mean by “steadily decreasing”— over what timescale?

      • andrew adams


        Since pre-industrial times.

      • Andrew– I guess I need to see the source of the decent data on the ocean’s ph levels showing it decreasing since pre industrial times. If valid, doesn’t that mean it was doing so prior to human actions?

      • Show me studies that show a consistent, credible and significant change.

      • Latimer Alder

        Because it is not ‘acidifying’.

        As long as the pH remains greater than 7.0, the predominant chemistry of the oceans will remain that of a basic (alkaline) solution. Adding a mild acid to an alkaline solution does not make the solution acid…it just makes it less alakline (closer in properties to pure water).

        If you don’t understand this concept, try a simple Chemistry textbook. In UK, this is O level stuff.

        The pity is that there seem to be a lot of ‘climate scientists’ who do not seem to know any better. Either they are shockingly ignorant of Chemistry, or they are deliberately misusing the term because the general public understand acids to be strong and nasty things (eg acid rain, acid baths) but do not have such a grasp of alkalinity.

        Whatever the reason it is unscientific and wrong. But then , they are probably climatologists, so it would be foolish to expect better.

      • andrew adams


        Yes, it’s O Level stuff – and I have Chemistry O Level so I understand the concept perfectly well, and I’m sure that climate scientists do too.
        My point is “so what?” – maybe “acidification” isn’t the most precise term to describe the observed decrease in ocean pH levels, but then the greenhouse effect doesn’t work like a real greenhouse but no-one (apart from a few cranks) seriously objects to that phrase. It is the standard terminology used by those who study the oceans and in the scientific literature – climate scientists didn’t invent the term to scare the public.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘It is the standard terminology used by those who study the oceans and in the scientific literature – climate scientists didn’t invent the term to scare the public’

        Chemists call it neutralisation.

        I take leave to doubt your assertion that ‘climate scientists didn’t invent the term to scare the public’, because I can see no other reason why they should ignore a perfectly satisfactory accurate and pre-existing term otherwise.

        Or have you a better explanation?

      • andrew adams

        I googled the term “ocean neutralisation” and got a grand total of 26 hits. Every single one was a “skeptic” claiming that the term should be used instead of “ocean acidification”. I tried Google scholar and got one link to, bizarrely, WUWT – a less “scholarly” source I can hardly imagine. Maybe chemists do use the term amongst themselves but they keep pretty quiet about it and certainly don’t use it when they publish in the scientific literature.

        Like it or not “ocean acidification” is the standard term for this phenomenon and it wasn’t invented by climate scientists at all, let alone for any nefarious reason.

        The only people who want to change the language for political reasons are the “skeptics”.

      • What’s the antonym for ‘euphemism’, I wonder

      • The antonym of euphemism is dysphemism.
        “the substitution of a disagreeable, offensive, or disparaging expression for an agreeable or inoffensive one; also : an expression so substituted”

        Now I just have to figure out if it is worthwhile to over-write some other bit of trivia in my brain in order to move this new bit into long term memory. :)

      • Latimer Alder

        You must be using a different Google from me since I didn’t get at all the same hits as you.

        I doubt if many actual chemists are currently publishing about the ocean phenomenon. The chemistry of seawater is well understood, non controversial and has been for decades. As is its interaction with carbon dioxide and other atmospheric gases. And manufacturers of fizzy drinks are very very familiar with these phenomena …as are divers and others working underwater. It is not cutting-edge science and hasn’t been for decades.

        Those publishing now are climatologists, expecting to find dreadful and scary phenomena as a result of the well-understood chemistry. Their misuse of the correct term illustrates their motivation.

        It is, after all, far easier to get a grant to study ‘ocean acidification’ than it is one for ‘ocean neutralisation’. And nobody is going to put ‘sea water is tending to act more like pure water’ as a headline grabbing press release. But ‘ocean water more acidic’ is a much better eye catcher.

        Remember John Houghton’s thoughts along the lines of ‘we must announce disasters or nobody will listen’. OA stands firmly there.

      • andrew adams

        It is, after all, far easier to get a grant to study ‘ocean acidification’ than it is one for ‘ocean neutralisation’. And nobody is going to put ‘sea water is tending to act more like pure water’ as a headline grabbing press release. But ‘ocean water more acidic’ is a much better eye catcher.

        You really think that people who hand out funding are that stupid? And do y9ou have any evidence for this claim anyway?

        And if you actually read the literature about the effects of recent and future drops in ocean pH you will see that “‘sea water is tending to act more like pure water” is hardly an accurate reflection of the impact.

      • Andrew – The term “ocean acidification” is unambiguous and has become well established, satisfying essential criteria for a definition according to lexicographers. That is why I see arguments about the semantics as a distraction. Still, I don’t think the oceanographers would have been troubled if a different term had emerged.

        In one sense, though, “ocean acidification” is useful in capturing a critical feature of the phenomenon. It is the increase in hydrogen ion concentration that is damaging, because hydrogen ions react with carbonate to convert it to the more soluble bicarbonate ion, thereby reducing the availability of carbonate for the formation of calcified shells by sea creatures from plankton on upward that depend on these shells for their survival within the ocean.

      • Firstly decreasing marine calcification is a negative feedback on increasing co2in a number of cases eg Zondervan et al 2001.

        Secondly there is a significant constraint on this area of research that is well known we call it evolution eg Darwin 1859.

        As the marine ecosystem is a fine example of a complex system with all its inherent mathematical limitations,and its implifications for models as paradox is the rule not the exception,one should not extrapolate.

      • andrew adams


        That is why I see arguments about the semantics as a distraction. Still, I don’t think the oceanographers would have been troubled if a different term had emerged.

        I’m sure you’re correct – the only people who actually care about this are the “skeptics”.

        In one sense, though, “ocean acidification” is useful in capturing a critical feature of the phenomenon. It is the increase in hydrogen ion concentration that is damaging, because hydrogen ions react with carbonate to convert it to the more soluble bicarbonate ion, thereby reducing the availability of carbonate for the formation of calcified shells by sea creatures from plankton on upward that depend on these shells for their survival within the ocean.

        Yes that’s a very good point – the term “neutralisation” doesn’t convey that meaning.

  37. >That is ocean acidification (referring to an increase in hydrogen ion concentration and not to a pH below 7)<

    Then it's slowly decreasing alkalinity, not increasing acidification, isn't it ?

    But you can't help yourself, can you Freddie … see my comment one above yours

  38. Ugh. Blech.
    I guess “Climate Stabilization” is what you imagine you can do after you claim to have committed “Climate Damage”.

    Both are risible.

  39. Do you really think anyone would miss sugar? Because that’s what Brazil is using for fuel. the point is that some crops are ideally suited for fuel. Corn obviously isn’t – but then everyone knew that ahead of time and said so; The reason for corn based fuel is just yet another wasteful and counter productive subsidy to largely right wing farmers in largely red states.

  40. JamesG taps into the the ethanol is a Republican scam meme like a good believer.
    Let’s see what the facts say….
    “Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota account for over 50 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. Other major corn growing states are Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Kentucky. ”
    Iowa is a split party state, leaning democrat.
    Illinois is a democrat leaning state, dominated by two democrats Senators
    Nebraska is a strong Republican state,
    Minnesota is a democrat state, dominated by two democrat Senators
    Indiana is split down the middle.
    Ohio is split, dominated by democrats.
    This is not very good news for those wishing the ethanol disaster was a nice part of the fantasy VRWC.
    Perhaps it would be better if the discussion of climate and the social miasma around it were more reality based?

  41. Judith,

    Have you ever heard of technology that is hemisphere sensitive?
    The technology I had created was just that the rotation of the planet made a difference in it’s efficiency.

  42. I am sure someone will soon claim tsunamis are caused by –global warming – climate change – climate disruption!

  43. Above, some have commented on my assertion that even if a combination of mitigation and adaptation helps us to avert some of the more serious potential impacts of CO2-mediated warming, I don’t see a clear adaptation policy that can adequately address the dangers of ocean acidification – Comment 54920. This topic deserves at least a thread of its own, because in the long term, the threat to ocean life and the food chain may be at least as serious as the impacts of warming.

    The term “ocean acidification” was criticized, but I don’t think the criticism is valid. It is certainly the most convenient way to refer to the increase in hydrogen ion concentration induced by absorbed CO2 that has reduced ocean pH by about 0.1 unit to pH 8.1, and may bring it down well below that over the next century if CO2 emissions are not curtailed. The term is not inflammatory in my view, and I have no reason to think it was chosen except for convenience.

    Is it “correct”, given that we are talking about pH values above 7.0? The discipline of Semantics teaches us that words have no intrinsic meaning; rather, their meaning is determined by how they are used. Consequently, when a term is employed consistently by knowledgeable individuals who agree on its meaning, it becomes “correct” over time. Lexicographers are aware of this, and revise dictionary definitions is accordance with changes in usage. “Ocean acidification” has assumed that status, in my view, because its meaning has become unambiguous among those who deal with it. The phenomenon certainly deserves attention, but I don’t think the terminology should serve as a distraction.

    • To Judith Curry – Would it feasible to invite a guest post on ocean acidification? Among candidates, Ken Caldeira comes to mind –
      Ocean Acidification.

      Would he be a good choice if you see it as a possibility?

      • Fred- I agree it is an area where the mitagation steps I have recommended would not prevent human harm. It also seems to be an area where “warmers” have thrown out a potential harm with little reliable evidence to support their case. There are many other things that humans are doing to the oceans that are very harmful however.

      • Indeed. Let’s deal with fisheries first. pH is moot if all that’s left is jellyfish and mussels.


      • And I’m with Fred on the issue of nomenclature. This is just semantic hair-splitting. If you call it dealkilation, is the pH any different? Let’s stop being silly about this.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘Neutralisation’ will do just fine.

        Scientifically accurate and easy to understand. The pH will not be any different – tending towards 7.0. Pure water, neither acid nor alkaline.

      • Terminology is everything in language. It isn’t hair splitting by any means. Imprecise language is the thin edge of the wedge between fact and fiction. If I can get you to concede A = B in your language, when in fact A not = B, then I can prove True = False. Once I have done that, I can prove anything. Bertrand Russell gave a very good talk on this very subject years ago.

        Many of today’s misguided ideas result from politically correct speech. The notion that free speech is subordinate to politics, and someone in authority is granted the right to decide what is politically correct. This notion serves the interests of those in authority and limits the introduction of new idea, and thus correction of current misconceptions.

        If a problem exists because it is politically incorrect to talk about it, how can society correct the problem? This has allowed numerous injustices in the past, and is at the heart of the concept of freedom of speech. The classic example is Galileo and the question of the sun circling the earth.

        Today’s AGW is no different. There is near hysterical reporting in the news on the dangers of global warming. Science turns on its head and calls skeptics “deniers”, when the role of science is to be skeptical. Judith Curry is labeled a heretic for questioning the levels of certainty.

      • When the globe starts to cool ( ) some manufacture a new problem; they call it ocean acidification

    • Any ph value that is moving toward 7 is most precisely described as neutralization. Acidification most precisely describes a ph that is moving away from 7 in a downward direction. Why would any scientist not want to be precise in when describing the situation? Has scientific preciseness been devalued since I was young?

    • “The term “ocean acidification” was criticized, but I don’t think the criticism is valid.”

      I do. The term doesn’t tell the whole true. It is a lie of omission, that gives a misleading impression. It is propaganda according to wikipedia.

      Lying by omission
      One lies by omission when omitting an important fact, deliberately leaving another person with a misconception. Lying by omission includes failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions. An example is when the seller of a car declares it has been serviced regularly but does not tell that a fault was reported at the last service. Propaganda is an example of lying by omission.

      • Criticism of “Ocean Acidification” is valid. The term implies greater impact than probable. Overstating impact is a standard political method to push an agenda.

        For example, replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulb is like, “Taking a million cars off the road”. This is politically countered by quoting EPA guidelines for safe use and disposal of compact fluorescent light bulbs. Safe use and disposal by strict adherence to EPA guidelines is like, “putting two million cars on the road”. :)

      • The US has 240 million registered motor vehicles.

        Replacing incandescent bulbs is like ordering a diet coke to go with your double bacon cheeseburger and fries. You get to lie to yourself about how you are serious about losing weight without actually doing anything meaningful about your weight.

        Lighting is 10% of residential electricity consumption. Residential electricity consumption is only 14% of total energy consumption.

        So if we just ban residential lighting altogether we will have saved a whopping 1.4% of our national energy consumption.

      • LOL, the whole scale thing is lost on the “enlighten”.

      • When you are talking about “taking two million cars off the road”, just make sure mine is not among them.

      • “Taking xxx cars off the road” is a good example of a counterproductive policy that sounds good to a bunch of NPR listeners, but actually results in increased fuel consumption. What’s better? Somebody who commutes to work in his SUV because it’s the only vehicle he owns, or somebody with an SUV for the weekend and a Honda Civic for commuting?

        People have to actually think these things through before nodding their heads knowingly.

    • How about just calling it what it is: “slightly reduced alkalinity”?

    • andrew adams


      Above, some have commented on my assertion that even if a combination of mitigation and adaptation helps us to avert some of the more serious potential impacts of CO2-mediated warming, I don’t see a clear adaptation policy that can adequately address the dangers of ocean acidification – Comment 54920. This topic deserves at least a thread of its own, because in the long term, the threat to ocean life and the food chain may be at least as serious as the impacts of warming.

      Agreed, and let’s not forget coral bleaching either – another threat to marine ecosystems for which there is no viable adaptation policy. Mind you, there will no doubt be 5 responses on topic and 500 complaining how the term “ocean acidification” is an evil trick by those wicked climate scientists to fool us into thinking that we will lose our feet if we go for a paddle in the ocean.

      Actually I think that the question in general of for which likely consequences of AGW there are realistic adaptation strategies is interesting in itself. It’s not just damage to marine biosystems for which there appear to be limited or no possibilities, in many cases the damage to land bases biosystems would be equally unavoidable. Did you read the recent discussion at Bart’s place? Despite the best efforts of certain individuals it was very interesting, and worrying. And that’s before we get onto the question of what happens when many millions of people are displaced – it’s not something we are very good at dealing with at the moment even on a much smaller scale.

      • Andrew – Either through my error or a screwed up thread process, my response to your comment appeared above rather than below the comment. Thanks for your long comment. I reposted the link to the review article on ocean acidification in my reply.

      • andrew adams

        Thanks Fred

      • And that’s before we get onto the question of what happens when many millions of people are displaced

        How many times have you moved in your lifetime? In my half-century on this earth I’ve moved a total of several thousand miles, so excuse me if I’m less than impressed at the prospect of people being slightly ‘displaced’ over a timescale of more than a lifetime – maybe
        Today on TV news we all witnessed nature’s total destruction of many thousands of people’s homes in Japan over a timescale of literally seconds.

      • andrew adams

        How many times have you moved in your lifetime?

        Yeah because an individual choosing to move is the same as thousands, millions even, of people being forced to relocate at the same time.

      • My point was about the timescale. How many people – particularly in developing countries – stay in the same place for their whole lives?
        And how many people wait until their houses are underwater, when they’ve watched the water creeping closer for decades?

      • “Agreed, and let’s not forget coral bleaching either – another threat to marine ecosystems for which there is no viable adaptation policy. ”

        Coral bleaching is one of the most dishonest pieces of science I’ve seen. I’ve spent a great deal of my adult life diving coral reefs. Coral is extremely temperature sensitive and cannot tolerate cold. Thus coral is found almost exclusively in the tropics. The idea that warm water kills coral is a sign of the authors ignorance.

        As the water warms, new species of polyps replace the colder adapted species. During the time the old tenant is replace by the new, the coral looks white, because it is the polyps that give coral its color. I’ve yet to see any place on earth where the oceans are too hot for coral to grow. There are plenty of places where it is too cold.

        I challenge anyone to show where the oceans of the world are too hot for coral. Coral grows on the equator, out to the boundaries of the tropics. This would not be the case if corals were sensitive to warm water. There are cold water corals (more accurately deep water corals) but they are much less frequent than warm water corals.

        The fear mongering over coral bleaching is rubbish science at its worst. People need to get out from behind their desks and go live for a period of years in the habitat they talk about. A one month survey mission on a scientific charter is no substitute for experience.

        There are plenty of things humans do that that kill coral much quicker and more effectively than warming the planet.

      • To better explain coral bleaching, think of penicillin and ddt. Initially it kills the susceptible organisms, but those that survive are resistant and quickly repopulate. Coral bleaching is similar. The water warms, those that are cold water adapted die, leaving a few survivors that are warm water resistant, that quickly repopulate the reef. The bleaching that results is temporary, typically gone within one breeding season.

        The real question is why so called scientist do not consider the question of resistance. We know that resistance develops within a relatively few generations. Corals have existed a whole lot longer than human beings. For about 500 million years, when for much of this time the earth was 7C hotter than today. And they have been very successful.

        Why are scientists so eager to believe that a fraction of a degree warming in an interglacial will wipe out coral after 500 million years? Are we talking science or religion, ’cause it sure don’t look like science to me.

      • fred,
        The coral reefs, along with the sinking islands, are two insults to intelligence that the AGW promotion industry relies on with great success.

  44. Fred,
    Once again, just like the breathless claims that Antarctica is losing significant mass at an accelerating pace, OA is a great topic that only lacks facts to support it.
    There is no way that there is a global pH number that is accurate or meaningful. The ability of the oceans to absorb CO2 are vast, and since the oceans are allegedly warming, they would be releasing on balance more CO2 than they are absorbing.
    OA, like basically everything to do with AGW claims, are non-falsifiable and do not hold up under examination. They only hold up under a faith perspective.

    • Hunter – This is a topic for a technical thread, where individuals with knowledge about the subject can discuss it in some detail. I see it as a problem of potentially great consequence.

      • I earlier directed this thought toward the entire audience, but since you’ve now specifically put your feelings about future risk at issue, I’d like to hear your thoughts about other kinds of risks that we know exist, but can’t quantify. For example, how do you feel about the danger of an extinction level asteroid strike, or the danger of the next deadly flu pandemic, or the danger that uncontrolled deficit spending is going to destroy our unbacked currency? I wonder how you think we ought to apportion our resources to the efforts to meet all these various dangers.

      • QBeamus – My response below didn’t get threaded to you, but was intended to be under yours. If that was my error, I apologize.

      • Haven’t posted in quite a while, but wanted to ‘chime in’ on the OA issue. The following website discusses the ‘ocean acidification’, including a few plots of ocean pH over time from the University of Hawaii (from 1992 to 2007) and Monterey Bay CA (from 1996 to 2009) that show no change to ocean pH. (They are about halfway down in the article). There are other plots that show some reduction in pH, but there is discussion about why.
        I found this site to have a lot of good information on the entire topic.

      • Fred,
        I am glad you see it as aproblem of potentially great consequence.
        Perhaps it could make a cool movie, like “The Day After Tomorrow”
        Could you call it “The Day After Acid”?
        You could put in a lot cool psychedelic imagery, flasbacks, and some vintage Hendrix from yet another previously undiscovered tapes.
        the scene I think people would like best is where the acid ocean turns the rain purple.

  45. QBeamus – Of the three you mention, I think a flu pandemic poses the greatest danger. It is accordingly an area of active resource investment to develop effective vaccines. An asteroid strike is not imminent, but it too involves the development of measures (such as gravity tractor devices) that can mitigate the threat. Deficit spending is a topic that undoubtedly deserves attention, but from someone with more economics expertise than I have.

    Like the other phenomena, ocean acidification deserves attention in light of the threats it poses.

    • You nor anyone else has any idea if an asteroid/cometoid strike is or is not imminent.
      It is merely highly unlikely.
      Gravity tractors?
      Look, I love SF as a literary genre. A lot.
      But the “F” stands for “FICTION”.
      Just like the idea that the oceans are going to change pH enough in a slightly warming world by way of absorption of CO2 to become dangerous.
      just like the idea that that we are facing a climate tipping point caused by CO2 that will lead to a dramatic cliamte change that endangers humans.
      It is fiction.

      • Fred,
        I was confusing your gravity tractor with a tractor beam.
        But even then, the idea that we are going to get a gravity tractor as you link to anytime soon is not very likely.
        also, the problem is not the asteroid we see with years (as in your example) of warming. The problem is that unseen object coming in from a high velocity vector from a high angle above or below the eliptic, or out of the sun’s glare:

      • But we have better detection methods now –
        Near Earth Asteroids – at least for large objects. Very small ones could still escape detection.

      • Fred –
        You’re an optimist. I won’t beat this to death but – there are several problems here. First, there are very few detection sites (meaning not enough to be effective). Second, they’re detecting objects that are larger than football field diameter in size. And it doesn’t take something that size to do a LOT of damage (like wipe out a fairly large city).

        Don’t have an immediate reference, but it wasn’t that long ago that a fairly large object slipped through the cracks and passed between Earth and the Moon – before being detected.

        Related subject – the Gravity Tractor – has more problems than a junkyard dog has fleas. But I’m not goin’ there right now. Just takes four words to kill it – detection, distance, delta V.

      • I don’t know much about this subject, but I noticed that some of the listed objects were as small as 9-10 meters. How were they detected? How many objects of that size are missed until they get too close for any protective measures?

        The gravity tractor appeals to me because it’s such an ingenious solution. I’m sure there are problems.

      • Hunter

        I agree that the “dangerous AGW” premise is based on an uncorroborated hypothesis until it can be corroborated with empirical data based on actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation, following the scientific method.

        This has not yet occurred.

        Has this hypothesis been “falsified” by the recent “unexplained lack of warming” of our planet despite CO2 increases to record levels? It would seem so.

        Even the UK Met Office has conceded that “natural variability” has overwhelmed the GH effect from the increased CO2 (which, according to IPCC was supposed to have caused 0.2C warming over the most recent decade).

        Fred doesn’t like the world “falsified”, but he has no explanation.

        So I’d say that right now it looks increasingly like you are right, when you refer to DAGW as “fiction”.

        And the sad thing for Fred is, that he has no valid counterarguments.


      • andrew adams


        Fred doesn’t like the world “falsified”, but he has no explanation.

        And the sad thing for Fred is, that he has no valid counterarguments.

        Both the explanation and the counterargument are the same – in the short term the warming from CO2 can be partly or wholly offset by natural variation. But then you knew that because in your post you cited the Met Office saying exactly that.

        So I’m not sure how you have “falsified” AGW.

      • Andrew – Thanks for defending me, but I have a warning for you. Don’t try to compete with Max Manacker to get the last word in any argument. You are guaranteed to lose.

    • Fred –
      Like the other phenomena, ocean acidification deserves attention in light of the threats it poses.

      No – Like the other phenomena, ocean acidification deserves attention as a matter of interest.

      Your automatic assumption that it poses a threat is indicative of a mindset that is anti-scientific. ANY AUTOMATIC ASSUMPTION is anti-scientific because it frames the questions to be asked in a restrictive manner.

      Asking “How dangerous is OA?” is an entirely different question than “What factors affect OA? How does OA affect marine life? How has OA varied over the last 1000 years?”

      Tell me, Fred – which of those questions are scentific – and which are political? Which seek knowledge – and which seek conclusions?

      • Jim – This is why I think a blog post on ocean acidification, done by Judith Curry or a guest commentator such as Ken Caldeira would be informative. There’s an extensive literature on the subject that could be described in more detail there.

      • True, but I think you might be surprised at some of it.

    • But you didn’t address my real question: how we (in the role of central planners) ought to decide how many resources to devote to these issues. But how could you have? The point, of course, is that it’s not possible to do so.

      To the extent that you’re just advocating for more research into Ocean Neutralization, I’ve got no beef. But to the extent that you’re advocating for centralized planning–i.e. using tax money–you haven’t made your case, and you won’t have, unless and until you can explain why the money wouldn’t be better spent on these other threats.

  46. The oceans contain vast amounts of dissolved salt and thus are a buffer. The idea that any minute observed change in PH can be linearly extrapolated is highly unlikely, as it is the nature of buffers to resist any change to an acid or alkali state.

    The level of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere has been dropping since the Jurassic period, to the point where CO2 levels 150 years ago could barely support photosynthesis. These low levels of CO2 may well explain why we are experiencing a repeating series of ice ages over the past 1 million plus years. It could easily be that the drop in CO2 levels since the Jurassic period have made the oceans more alkali, and an increase in CO2 is returning them to a more typical state.

    Rather than a bad thing, the neutralization of the oceans could well be a good thing, overall beneficial to life in the oceans. Given that blood for example is PH 7.4, it seems likely that the present PH of the ocean today is more alkali than millions of years ago.
    Blood pH is regulated to stay within the narrow range of 7.35 to 7.45, making it slightly alkaline.[8][9] Blood that has a pH below 7.35 is too acidic, whereas blood pH above 7.45 is too alkaline.

  47. “An asteroid strike is not imminent”

    We don’t know that. We do no thave a complete record of all objects in the inner solar system, let alone objects in the outer solar system. A large comet could currently be on course to completely destroy human civilization in 2020. The operative word is “could”, which is the same world used in much of the “science” about AGW and OA.

  48. There has been a lot of speculation here about “ocean acidification”, etc., but let’s do some checking on the “CO2 balance” before we start fretting about “OA”.

    Roughly half of the CO2 emitted by human activity “ends up” in the atmosphere, with the rest “missing”.

    Let’s forget about the fact that human CO2 emissions are a very small part of the whole carbon cycle of our planet.

    And let’s assume (as IPCC does) that the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration is solely caused by human CO2 emissions.

    If we do a quick check of the record, we see that there is no statistically valid correlation between the amount of these emissions and the increase in atmospheric content on a year-to-year basis (this varies between less than 20% to almost 90%).

    But over the longer term it appears to be around 50%, which means that half of the CO2 emitted by humans is “missing”.

    This has been a bit of a mystery.

    Where is this CO2 going? Is it being diffused into space? Is the terrestrial biosphere absorbing more as atmospheric concentrations become higher? Is it going into the ocean? If so, what happens to it there? Is it simply being chemically buffered by the carbonates there? Is it absorbed by increased photosynthesis by phytoplankton, and does it end up in increased marine life? Is it ending up at the bottom of the ocean? Or is it “all of the above”?

    Lots of questions. Lots of hypotheses. But no real answers.

    But what about the CO2 residence time in our climate system?

    Short-term residence time has been shown to be between 5 and 15 years (Segalstad):

    But we are talking about the long-term residence time, i.e. how long the CO2 stays in our climate system. Another blogger posted this curve on an earlier thread:

    This is based on data collected by Zeke Hausfather and published on the “Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media”

    The chart shows that the long-term half-life of CO2 is at most 100 to 120 years.

    OK. Let’s say Zeke’s figures are right and it’s 120 years.

    What does this mean?

    At a half life of 120 years, the annual decay (or loss) of CO2 from the system would be 0.58% of the concentration at that time (see Wiki for half life calculation).

    CO2 concentration = 390 ppmv today.

    So this means that the equivalent of 390 * 0.0058 = 2.3 ppmv should be leaving the system per year today.

    Human CO2 emissions from all sources equal around 35 GtCO2/year today. The atmosphere has a mass of 5,140,000 Gt. This calculates to a theoretical increase in atmospheric CO2 of 4.5 ppmv:

    (35 * 1,000,000 / 5,140,000) * (29 / 44)

    We have observed that atmospheric CO2 concentration is increasing by 2.2 ppmv, or only about half as much as should theoretically be the case.

    We see that this checks roughly with the “half life” calculation for CO2 in our climate system.

    We still don’t know “where” the missing CO2 is going, but it is reasonable to assume, based on the above, that it (or at least a major portion of it) is “leaving our climate system”.

    Any rebuttals?


  49. manacker

    I guess the obvious question is…how do real observations match up to this ? Apologies for being a non-scientist like Holly Stick and Shewonk…

    • @Graeme

      You raise a very valid point.

      “Real observations” on CO2 show that the atmospheric concentration is increasing by around 2.2 ppmv per year, while the “theoretical” increase (from all estimated human contributions) should be around 4.5 ppmv per year.

      So roughly half of the human contribution is “missing”. There are a lot of theories and postulations where this might be going, but these are not supported by “real observations”.

      Some spotty ocean measurements point to the suggestion that ocean pH has decreased slightly, which could explain a small part of the “missing” CO2, but I would not call this “real observations”.

      Marine biologists tell us that it is likely that higher upper ocean concentrations of CO2 could lead to increased photosynthesis by phytoplankton, which would then end up in the marine food chain, possibly ending up sinking to the ocean floor as carbonates, but again no “real observations” to support this suggestion.

      Botanists tell us that higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations will increase the amount of CO2 absorbed by plant photosynthesis, but I have seen no “real observations” here, either.

      IPCC has told us (TAR, Table 1) that the CO2 “lifetime” is 5 to 200 years, so we can’t do much with that estimate (which is only a guess, anyway, as it is not supported by “real observations”).

      Zeke Hausfather’s graph shows a CO2 “half-life” of 100 to 120 years, but again I seriously doubt that this is based on “real observations”.

      So nobody really knows where the “missing CO2” is going.

      The only thing we know for sure is that the measured atmospheric increase is only around half of the estimated total human emissions.

      If we now ASSUME that Zeke’s half life is correct, it matches up pretty well with the “missing” CO2, but, like you say, this is not based on “real observations”.

      In fact, that is one of the key weaknesses of the whole hypothesis that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been the major cause of observed 20th century warming, and that it represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment.

      This hypothesis (CAGW) is not based on “real observations”, but simply on questionable model simulations with poorly substantiated assumptions.

      So you have hit upon the key weakness of the CAGW premise with your comment.

      Now Fred will not agree that this is the case, but he has no empirical scientific evidence based on “real observations” to show that it is not so.


  50. Peter;
    Could you afford 2p/mile? Reserve your today! :)