Evaluative premises

by Judith Curry

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the globe is warming. What follows, as a normative matter? 

Keith Burgess-Jackson at Animal Ethics answer the question in the following way:
Nothing. As David Hume (1711-1776) pointed out long ago, you can’t validly deduce an evaluative proposition from a set of factual propositions. (Put differently, there has to be at least one evaluative premise in order for there to be an evaluative conclusion.) What we should do about global warming (again, assuming it exists) depends on the consequences of global warming. Few if any changes have only good consequences or only bad consequences. Almost always, there are both good and bad consequences. Whether we should do something to stop the change, therefore, depends on which type of consequence—good or bad—predominates.
I have addressed this general issue in several previous posts:
How often have you heard a dispassionate discussion of the good consequences of climate change? All you hear, day after day, is a depressing litany of bad consequences. This alone shows that global warmists are biased. They want intervention to stop climate change, so they mention only the bad consequences of climate change. A rational person with no ideological axe to grind would attend to good consequences as well as to bad consequences. For example, how many people around the world die of extreme cold as opposed to extreme heat, and how would that change if the globe warmed? What is the optimal temperature for the alleviation of suffering, for both humans and sentient nonhuman animals? How many different species ofanimal or plant would there be if the globe warmed, as opposed to how many there are today? What is the optimal temperature for food production? Would there be more food rather than less if the globe warmed?
JC comment:  With regards to “This alone shows that global warmists are biased.”  Back in 1992, the UNFCCC framed the entire issue of AGW in the context of dangerous climate change, which evolved into a charge for the IPCC (WGII) to identify the dangerous impacts.  The NIPCC countered by focusing on positive impacts.  I’ve stated before that the the UNFCCC put the policy cart before the scientific horse; recall that the conclusion from the IPCC FAR in 1990 was:  “The size of this warming is broadly consistent with predictions of climate models, but it is also of the same magnitude as natural climate variability.”
Change per se is neither good nor bad. Whether a given change is good or bad, all things considered, depends on its consequences (and how these are evaluated). I wish scientists would inform the public ofall the consequences of global warming, so that the public can decide for itself whether to expend its scarce resources in preventing it. That scientists have not done this is the best evidence yet that they are advocates rather than, as they purport to be, disinterested observers. Is it any wonder that they are not trusted? Do you trust people who are hell-bent on selling you something to the point where they omit relevant information? In law, this is called fraud.
JC comment:  Scientists working on the IPCC have been working under the charge of the UNFCCC, convinced that they were doing the right thing and responding to issues of concern to the policy makers.  This framed the climate problem too narrowly:  natural internal climate variability (multi-decadal and longer) and benefits of a warmer climate were not considered in a serious way.  Science for policy IPCC-style has resulted in epistemic slippage (Mike Hulme’s phrase); I wouldn’t call this fraud.
JC conclusion:  Burgess-Jackson clarifies a primary flaw in the warming to mitigation argument:  the absence of evaluative premises, beyond a prima facie assumption that warming is dangerous. This article leads us to ask the following questions.  What are the appropriate evaluative premises for assessing the good versus bad consequences of AGW?  Economic?  Social justice?  As per the Morgan paper discussed in the previous thread, expected utility isn’t a very useful concept here.  Good versus bad is regional, in terms of regional variations in climate change, regional vulnerabilities, and local cultural and political values.  When considering a unilateral global response to AGW such as CO2 stabilization, how do you weight these various factors?  As I argued in my testimony, climate models predict more rainfall in South and Central Asia, where half of the global population lives, with all of these countries (except for Bangladesh) having major concerns about their future water supply.  This is one example of a major benefit for half of the world’s population.  Etc.
Note:  I just spotted this article by Anthony Sadar in the Washington Examiner entitled “State of fearful climate science.”  The closing sentences from this piece:

Many of us with years of real-world experience in atmospheric science would agree that, ideally, the practice of such science is about freedom to creatively combine fundamental scientific knowledge with individual skills and perspective to aid the evaluation of natural conditions.

In this way, the advancement of the field can occur for the benefit of both people and the planet. But, over the past few decades, by maintaining a state of fear, climate science has deviated from this ideal, damaging an honorable scientific profession. And that is truly scary.

462 responses to “Evaluative premises

  1. At last. But too bad the globe is cooling.

    • Kim, correction: ”they said that the planet was warming – now they have to say that the planet is cooling”. Saying is one thing; reality is another. Truth: some places is warming, another cooling = overall, same warmth. Day is warming – night cooling; same with summer and winter = overall same temp. Big city island heat one degree warmer > over the sea 0,00000000000001 degree colder – overall same temperature. That is climatic changes; not GLOBAL warmings / coolings. That’s where the evil is; ”one place must get warmer, for other place to get colder, by the laws of physics” They are exploiting that simple natural phenomena for extortion / oppression. The truth will win

      • AGW is not science, but a cancerous growth on government science that grew “out of sight” after Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China in 1971:


        AGW was designed to unite nations against an imaginary “common enemy” – Global Climate Change – to prevent the threat of mutual nuclear annihilation. I.e., world leaders did not want to die. In other matters, they acted as fools.

        Only the world’s most egotistical would believe themselves capable of controlling the Sun. A natural selection process concentrates these souls as leaders of nations, religions, educational institutions, and sciences: Hence AGW.

        The foundation of AGW is the equally absurd dogma, adopted at the Bilderberg in 1967, that Earth’s heat source – the Sun – is a giant ball of hydrogen steadily heated by H-fusion, “in equilibrium.”


        This became known as the Standard Solar Model (SSM), with a less revealing title of the political base for this “scientific” dogma.

        By “coincidence” my research career (1961-2011) happened to capture a bird’s-eye view of the corruption of federal science that Eisenhower forecast in 1961 and fully flowered in the Climategate scandal of 2011. This video summary of 1961-2011 events in science explains society’s crumbling confidence in world leaders.


        Despite all of mankind’s follies, the universe and events on planet Earth are unfolding exactly as they should.


        World Peace in 2012 requires an end to government deception!

      • AGW is not science. AGW redistributes wealth, by pinching off the tail-pipe from the once-prosperous “Free West” and moving industries to third-world countries where the same CO2 will be released to air.

      • Oliver, countries as USA, Australia have bigger chance to slip down the cliff; because those citizens have never being without food and no shoes; than countries as Brazil, Argentina Greece, Russia. That’s why you get clowns as WebHub, believing that governments will always fix the problems. That’s why people as Robert / Joshua think that: they will be the winners… and the others will be the losers…? Reason they are playing with fire. People from third world countries know that is not pleasant on the bottom; with very small elite on the top oppressing the rest. Them two see themselves as belonging to the top elite… life is full of surprises

    • Which reveals the flaw in the question: What constitutes dangerous climate change?

      The question should be: What constitutes a dangerous climate?

      That can be followed by: What processes need happen to create a dangerous climate?

      Finally we can ask: What can be done if we recognize the processes required to create a dangerous climate change are observed?

      We’ve not experienced a dangerous climate in the modern scientific era but we do have a lot of evidence that dangerous climates are typically cold. One thing we can do then is to work on developing grains that can be grown in Canada when it is colder than today.

      Your turn, dear reader.

      • Shoots – I’ve left a errant “change” in the fourth para. Should be “dangerous climate”. See how easy that is to reflexively repeat the mantra?

  2. “…so that the public can decide for itself…”
    This is precisely why the climate science team (Schmidt, Mann, Hansen,etc) do NOT want anybody except themselves to have access to climate science information. Repeatedly, the belief system emanating from the Team, climate science is too complicated for other than experts to understand AND make recommendations to policy makers. It is really just about power as exercised by controlling access. There are some really smart people who are not climate scientists; they can do the math, understand the physics, and have a conceptual grasp to come to conclusions without the intervention of the climate science team. In part, these are the “public” whom the climate science team fears. In addition, there is part of the public who can follow a trail, and audit if you like, and these public are very good. Ultimately, the climate science Team’s greatest fears have come to pass: a knowledgable public have decided for themselves and they are skeptics.

  3. Sadar’s nice acknowledgement and expansion of Michael Crichton’s novel appears not in the Washington Post but in the Washington Examiner.

    Earth First religion is spot on…..

  4. “Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the globe is warming. What follows, as a normative matter? ”

    We wait a few years or 20 or 30 and it cools.

    Then it will warm again.

    Then, sometime in the next 1000 years or so the next ice age occurs and 10 billion people die.

    • I thought it was 17 years before we could draw a conclusion….

      • Pete –
        That number is constantly revised upwards to suit the purposes of the warmist scientists.

      • randomengineer

        “Statistical relevance is what we say it is, nothing less and nothing more.”

        (apologies to lewis carroll)

      • It should be 17 years from about 2000 when the warming stopped or slowed. So another 5 years.

        Before that I thought they said 10-13 years but have not seen that recently.

      • Actually the linear trend of global temperature is approximately flat for the period 1995-2011 (16 years). One may even add 1994, which was a bit cooler, without altering the trend by much although thus completing the mythical 17 years, which would otherwise be completed by this time next year. The trend is flat since 1995 because the El Niño spike in 1998 is compensated by low records just before and after that year. The 1998 spike itself was not the high point of a trend linked or not to GHG: it was a one.year episode due to a particularly strong ENSO, not related to GHG And the IPCC AR4 as well as the ENSO specialized literature say that there is no particular ENSO trend (in amplitude or frequency) associated with GHG or warming.

      • I think Tamino wrote that it was 14 years–maybe he wrote that it 2010. I personally think he was mistaken, and would suggest that 33 years is a bare minimum to evaluate climate over the course of a millenium.

        Whether we’ve hit a peak or a plateau is still open to question and I think we should hope for the best and prepare for the worst. But I think ‘the worst’ is not nearly as bad as many have ‘predicted.’

        IIRC, the IPCC wrote (TAR?) that the first decades of this millenium would not experience grave consequences of the warming they felt was coming–that it would be around 2030 before we would start to see problems. And part of those problems actually stem from non-climatic issues–We’ll have a billion more people on the planet, many of them pushed to regions vulnerable to weather.

        I still hold to the hope that our duty to the poor includes raising their resilience to extreme weather, flooding and drought. And of course development aid can raise resilience in general as well as for specific causes. Helping poor countries achieve good governance may turn out to be the best thing we can do–but I truly hope it isn’t the only thing.

        As for climate change and the developed world–I firmly believe we should benchmark energy use per person rather than other metrics we cannot control. If America aimed for Denmark’s per capita energy consumption of 161 million btu’s per person instead of our own profligate 323 mbtus, now that would be something. And last time I looked, the Danes lived pretty well. It’s not clear to me that we would be sacrificing much, if anything.

        Happy New Year. I hope that hope rather than fear guides our discussion on climate change in 2012.

      • Tom, excellent points, as usual. We fo have a duty to assist and help. If snything is clear from AGE, it is that their policies st best give lip serbice to helping, but more frequently hurt the most vulnerable.

      • Remember, Tom, I told you a long time ago that we need to start worrying when the talk is of ‘energy footprint’ rather than of ‘carbon footprint’.

      • HI Kim, HI Hunter and happy new year to you both. Kim, I rather think that’s what we should be doing–can you point out the error in my ways? (Preferably in limerick form…)

      • benchmark energy use per person.
        that is almost the same thing as standard of living.

      • Tom,
        Sorry about the thumb-typing mangle I made of that post.
        Thank you for your kind thoughts.and best wishes to you and yours in the coming year.

      • I think TOm, we should target a benchmark of per capita production. With that benchmark evenly distributed, every body would be equally well off and nobody would notice they are any worse. At least in a generation or two.

      • Procrustes, the righteous old cobbler
        Sized up the feet of the pauper:
        “Among all my shoes,
        You may pick and may choose.
        Poor fit? Be damned and go hobbler”.

      • Tom, why should Australian be made to use same amount of energy as a person in India? Is Australians fault that Indian population increases by 25 million a year? Prof Pachaury goes around the world, to con the people that CO2 is bad; instead of saying to the ladies in his own country; to keep their legs crossed. If they degrease population – they can have standard as in Denmark. Tragically, Indian economy goes up – POPULATION ALSO > they can afford to overuse farms in Africa also. If the Danes put another 20 million people on their land – they wouldn’t live pretty well. Why you people are avoiding the ”overpopulation” elephant in the room?!

  5. What a load of drivel.

    Why don’t we look at the benefits of pollution? Why this bias about the harm of pollution??

    Same with disease – those bloody biased doctors only ever talking about disease as if it’s a bad thing. Time to start looking at the positives!

    The primary issue is, in fact, that we don’t know exactly what the outcome will be of our massive experiment in altering the atmosphere. It might be ‘good’, so we just sit around and wait and see…….too bad if it turns out not to be ‘good’.

    B-Js argument doesn’t even do itself the favour of some internal consistency; there’s no good or bad climate change per se, but then neither are the consequences absolutely good or bad. It will depend on who you ask.

    More rain in SW Australia in the summer. It’s bloody hot here – must be good climate change!! No – wheat farmers depend on relatively dry hot summers for harvesting. Might be good for a some other farmers, but there goes untold millions in specialist equipment, infrastructure etc.

    The problem is pertubation of currently known and relatively predictable systems – those changes have costs, some will be huge, whether or not some find opportuntiy in them.

    If there was a competition, I’d give this a vote for the stupidiest thing I’ve seen here all year (and there’s no shortage of contenders!).

    • “The problem is pertubation of currently known and relatively predictable systems – those changes have costs, some will be huge, whether or not some find opportuntiy in them.”

      There is comfort in adherence to a paradigm precisely because of an implied stability, primarily, predictability. When the system the paradigm portrays is dominated by non-linearity, non-equilibrium & as yet poorly understood interconnected oscillations, then predictability is not one of the paradigms’ attributes. As a human species, we like orderliness, predictability, even when the system is perturbed; we want to believe it will come back into some behavior we know and understand. Otherwise we are perpetually in transition and transitions are stressful; we don’t know what is coming next. Some farmers sow the seeds and believe it is “God’s will” if there is a bountiful harvest. Some farmers believe they can make business decisions, hedge their bets on a harvest, sow seed, buy crop insurance, and mortgage just enough to leverage the expected crop. And yet other farmers try to predict the weather, Farmer’s Almanac” is just such a publication assuming past performance of the weather is a reliable gage of future weather. Not. More often than not, the prudent farmer plants several crops to maximize land yield, listens every morning to the Chicago Board of Trade report, and contracts to sell their crop at some future price. There is an implicit acknowledgement that in a year, weather is neither all good or bad. In a lifetime of farming, one can make a good living taking the good with the bad.

    • randomengineer

      B-Js argument doesn’t even do itself the favour of some internal consistency; there’s no good or bad climate change per se, but then neither are the consequences absolutely good or bad. It will depend on who you ask.

      Dr Curry has been determined to solve the communication problem (a number of the topics on this site are ultimately geared to this) and as such seems to find interesting those arguments that discuss the consequences of framing. Overall it appears as though she and others think that climate change issues as presented by the UN apparatus were, are, and have been self-defeating by definition.

    • It’s very simple. Pollution (as typically defined) and disease rarely have beneficial consequences. Climate change does. The IPCC has documented this but skewed the summaries to focus mainly on the negative.

      The Dutch report on the IPCC from 2010 calls this a “risk-oriented approach”, criticzes the IPCC for not making it explicit, and suggests a somewhat different strategy for the AR5.


    • You have stumbled onto the truth, mikey. I can think of innumerable changes that have only bad consequences. I have witnessed many personally. A high-velocity bullet to the head, or to any other part of the body, immediately came to my mind. A very dumb way to begin their argument.

      “A rational person with no ideological axe to grind would attend to good consequences as well as to bad consequences.” This would suffice to make the point. Don’t you agree, mikey?

    • “What a load of drivel.

      Why don’t we look at the benefits of pollution? Why this bias about the harm of pollution??

      Same with disease – those bloody biased doctors only ever talking about disease as if it’s a bad thing. Time to start looking at the positives!”

      I believe we are talking about the positive benefits of a warming climate aren’t we? I can’t imagine how you have conflated that with pollution and disease.

      Drivel indeed.

    • Acid rain had its good aspects in warmist terms — it suppressed methane emissions from the Arctic tundra. I expect there are other pollution benefits — CO2, for example, increases plant growth, reduces water useage by plants in desert areas, etc. HTH.


      • Ha ha – sulfate aerosols reduce global warming. In fact it has been suggested that the net climate benefits outweigh the net health and property value costs at some point.

      • Acid rain does supress CH4 emissions from arctic tundra,and decreases atmospheric co2 ie a negative feedback eg Gauchi 2008

        Recent field experiments have shown that deposition
        of acid rain sulfate (SO4-2) can reduce CH4 emissions from
        natural wetlands by as much as 40% [Dise and Verry, 2001;
        Granberg et al., 2001; Gauci et al., 2002; Gauci et al.,
        2004b]. Inputs of SO4 -2 to wetlands stimulate sulfatereducing
        microbial populations [Vile et al., 2003] that then
        out-compete CH4-producing micro-organisms, thus circumventing
        the degradation pathway of carbon to CH4 and
        resulting in a reduction in CH4 emission [Gauci et al.,
        2002]. Sulfate deposition from acid rain significantly
        reduced global wetland CH4 emission since the middle of
        the 20th century, off-setting any CH4 increase due to
        climate warming [Gauci et al., 2004a].


    • John Carpenter

      “If there was a competition, I’d give this a vote for the stupidiest thing I’ve seen here all year (and there’s no shortage of contenders!).”

      Well, there you have it…. if you don’t like the idea of people finding a glass half full, just call them stupid.

      “It might be ‘good’, so we just sit around and wait and see…….too bad if it turns out not to be ‘good’.”

      This is what I see as the problem with those who fear any change, they view it as a black and white issue… either/or… we have only two choices. Like the climate and our environment, it is a far more complex issue than ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The same argument needs to also be applied to those who resist any type of change regarding CO2 mitigation. Many who view mitigation strategies as ‘bad’ only look at the potential methods employed to mitigate and not the benefits. BAU should be addressed as a scenario that is not sustainable in the long run. So what is the down side to emitting less CO2 for energy generation? I don’t really see one. What is the up side of having multiple new sources of lower emitting CO2 and non CO2 generating power sources? Many I would expect. I think we are at a cross roads now where ‘cleaner’ sources of energy are going to be developed and employed going forward by those who either see an entrepreneurial golden road or who are genuinely concerned about the environment (or both). The general public will not care as long as it is cost equivalent and the lights go on when you flip the switch.

      Are we in an emergency situation where changes to the environment are going to be ‘bad’ so we must mitigate aggressively now? I don’t think we are…. regardless, energy creation and usage changes are under way that will benefit our future. The path we are on will not end in a choice of either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. With anything in life, it will be some of both.

    • Michael,

      The way to think about it is this:

      You would have to define what you meant by pollution. I guess it really could just mean contaminating or changing a pure or natural system. But the words pollution and contaminate already have a negative connotation. Using the word pollution the way it is normally used, the implication is that you know already it is bad.

      But, at the beginning, before you know whether something is bad or not, you would look at both sides. You would decide whether the new nitrous oxides produced by first generation catalytic converters were actually harmful or not. They decided they were and the newer converters now also reduce the nitrates to N2. In some cases, you are asking is this compound or organism or change bad or harmless, there may be no reason to think it has beneficial effects, although it is probably not wise to rule it out completely that it could have good effects even if unlikely.

      In the case of CO2 and warming, you have two things that are needed by various organisms for survival. So you definitely can ask whether there are any good effects as well as bad and try to rank the various good and bad effects. Plants use CO2 to make glucose that feeds the plants as well as many (most?) other organisms on earth. And it take more energy to live in a cold rather than in a warm environment. Obviously if the temp. gets too high that is problematic as well.

      As far as disease, again, once you know it is a disease, it is already by definition bad. But if you find out you have several microorganisms living on your skin or in your gut, it would be wise to figure out whether they were harmful or beneficial before you tried to kill them all off. There are hundreds of “bugs” that live in and on us (our microbiome) that are beneficial.

      Thalidomide is another good example. It causes severe birth defects if taken by a pregnant woman. If we had just banned it and never studied it we would not know now that it has “good” effects for people with multiple myeloma and TB.

      Look up F. Bastiat on wiki and read his description of looking at all sides of an economic policy, it is similar.

      So, no, it is not drivel. In fact, it is what all rational people should do, but usually don’t: look at all the facts before panicking and making emotional decisions. Much like responding emotionally to a blog article as you did.

      You might as well say (based on your other arguments) “how about evil, do we need to look at all sides of that too”? If you pick something that is already, by definition, bad, then it would not make sense to look for good effects since that determination should already have been made.

      But there are many areas in both technology and economics where people use emotionally loaded terms and thus have already made up their minds before the argument even starts.

    • Michael, comparing CO2 to a disease or pollutant can only be don’t by redefining the terms. The drivel is in avoiding the issue, which AGW believers seem to do ad a standard coping mechanism. The issue is that the weather/climate system is not well predicted, and that despite many billion$ there is no significant harm to be shown.

    • Notice how many believers choose to simply reject the ideas that challenge their faith tenets

    • I do say, let’s look at the benefits of pollution: A couple of hundred million years ago, photosynthetic organisms evolved and started dumping their highly reactive and flammable pollutant into the atmosphere, the face and future of the earth being irreparably altered by the pollution from these weeds.

    • Warmer is not pollution. Let’s consider disease. Since disease is always bad, let’s give everyone antibiotics every day, preemptively remove everyone’s appendix, and start everyone on chemotherapy right now—oh, wait, there are side effects? Who knew? Similarly the “cure” for global warming could be worse than the disease since the correlation between standard of living and energy use is almost 1 and since those better off can withstand climate extremes better. I don’t suffer much when it is subzero temperature because my house is insulated and I can afford heat.

    • If there was a competition, I’d give this a vote for the stupidiest thing I’ve seen here all year (and there’s no shortage of contenders!).

      It’s a contender, no doubt.

      Dr BJ gives us an example of the grey fallacy (argumentum ad temperantiam) which itself relies upon a straw man argument (climate scientists never talk about climate change’s possible benefits; false) and finishes up with a rip-roaring fundamental attribution error (if climate scientists talk to the public more about the negatives of climate change rather than the (unspecified, hypothetical) positives, it must be that they are biased.) He finishes this feast of stupid with a ridiculous invocation of “fraud,” which I believe the philosophers call the “appeal to spite.”

      Completely absurd, and what is more surprising from a professor of philosophy, poorly written and sloppily argued. All in all, a poor effort.


    • Michael, overpopulation in any species; follows by increase in of their predators. Unfortunately, human is on the top of the food chain. To be even worse, all pray and predator is used / exploited / destroyed by human. If the human population can increase growing – question is: is it better for human and for everything else?! Biggest population increase is in countries that already cannot feed themselves. Anarchist don’t object for overpopulation – because is the easiest to start anarchy, when people are hungry.

  6. … beyond a prima facie assumption that warming is dangerous.

    Might that be an inaccurate simplification there, Judith?

    My understanding is that some scientists are concerned about the effects of warming and increased atmospheric CO2 (droughts, rise in sea levels, ocean acidification, stresses to flora and fauna, increases in extreme weather events, etc.) – not warming per se.

    Are you suggesting that they not be concerned about these phenomena, or was this simply an exercise of throwing red meat to the Climate Etc. hounds?

    • randomengineer

      It helps if you show the entire quote, which is about the warming->mitigation argument itself. As stated it’s clear that “warming requires mitigation” presumes it’s all bad by definition. Try addressing that.

      • The real point of the quote is hoe it puts the standard AGW consensus firmly in the dustbin.

      • Who you calling a hoe?

      • Ooopss “how” thumb typing on a phone, lol

      • Not necessarily. GW can have good and bad effects at the same time. For example, it could improve agricultural productivity overall, while at the same time requiring some local dike building. Point being that the mitigation is more likely to be relatively cheap and localized rather than grand geoengineering schemes, and also we’re likely to see the need coming far enough in advance to react, and don’t have to do any of this “just in case” stuff.

      • randomengineer

        PE there’s little reason to mitigate that which isn’t bad. If you win the lottery you don’t mitigate adverse effects of having enough money to do what you like.


      • Do you understand risk mitigation?
        What would be the risk mitigation of betting on a lottery? Simple, study up on the possible paybacks, and decide on some post-engineering education on probability and statistics. Then you can make the decision based on entertainment expenses.

        I think you have it completely bass-ackwards. Risk mitigation comes during the decision-making process. Have you done any project engineering during your career?

      • randomengineer

        Web — What would be the risk mitigation of betting on a lottery?

        Non sequitor yet again. Astonished, I am. The definition of mitigation is about dealing with adverse effects thus when “warming” mitigation is mentioned what this conjures up is that warming is about [*_drum roll_*] adverse effects, not positive, which initiates any discussion tilted to the negative.

      • Yet you bring up adaptation as a rationalization for much higher CO2 levels. Face it, you are not a very clear thinker; witness your poor gambling analogy.

      • randomengineer


        You missed the point yet again. Crayons it is, then — the word *mitigation* is solely about adverse effects; i.e. if you come into a big pile of cash nobody talks about mitigating the circumstance. As per Dr Curry’s post the conversation re AGW usually starts with the notion of mitigation, meaning that in that context AGW is naught but adverse, there are no positives. When a conversation starts with the notion of no positives, it shouldn’t exactly be a mystery why “deniers” reckon “believers” to be all about doom and gloom. There is no conversation. It is no different than talking to right wingers who start off with saying, “I think we can all agree that Obama is a communist” when the reality is that no, we don’t all agree with that.

        Now, would you be kind enough to confine any responses to the point?

      • Your premise was gambling. If you won the lottery, it means you gambled. And the risk mitigation on gambling is making sure you have enough assets to cover your losses. It is your problem that you brought up this analogy, but it is not surprising coming from the magical thinking camp. Untold riches happen to drop on your lap because you are somehow special.

    • Joshua I think you are being disingenuous.

      “My understanding is that some scientists are concerned about the effects of warming and increased atmospheric CO2 (droughts, rise in sea levels, ocean acidification, stresses to flora and fauna, increases in extreme weather events, etc.) – not warming per se.”


      It’s a long way from that to your last paragraph. I agree that “a prima facie assumption that warming is dangerous” is a rhetorical oversimplification on the author’s part, but I think the larger point remains that the cost-benefit calculus is complicated. Some areas will benefit, in contrast to Robert’s comment on the last thread which resulted in lots of citations and no forward progress – most here know that, given X AGW or simply X GW, there will be winners and losers.

      • Canadians seem to think they will benefit from global warming; that is, until I mention that ~400 million Dukes of Hazzard and Deliverance banjo players will be flooding into their country.

      • BillC –

        Joshua I think you are being disingenuous.

        I don’t think so.

        but I think the larger point remains that the cost-benefit calculus is complicated.

        I agree. And I also believe that there is quite a bit of evidence, on both sides of the debate, of people over-simplifying that calculus, stepping on the scale, etc. For example, I just visited WUWT to see Willis arguing that an observation of existing regular but temporary elevation in acidification levels, proves that a permanent increased acidification won’t be harmful.

        But my point is that for most people who seriously study the issue, it isn’t the warming per se that people are concerned about, but the effects of warming that would clearly be negative in balance, such as a significant rise in sea levels or increases in extreme weather events, or potentially very disruptive to existing ecologies, such as ocean acidification. Reducing their concern to simply a “fear of warming” seems to me like a useless rhetorical device.

        I think that a systematic look at the cost/benefit calculus of the likely effects of warming is called for, indeed, is very important. I think that true skeptics should, necessarily, undertake such an endeavor, and it is counterproductive when people presume that their will be only harmful effects. But when you reduce concern about the effects of warming to a “fear of warming,” or as David W. seems to believe, a “general fear of progress” you do a disservice to well-reasoned analysis.

        Reductionism works both ways. Judith, rightly, is concerned about reductionism among “realists,” so I think it is logical that she should be concerned about the same from “skeptics,” and certainly shouldn’t be reductionist in her own analysis.

      • Joshua: . For example, I just visited WUWT to see Willis arguing that an observation of existing regular but temporary elevation in acidification levels, proves that a permanent increased acidification won’t be harmful.

        What he demonstrates is that the only in situ directly relevant evidence vitiates the claim that CO2 might cause harmful ocean “acidification”. With that evidence, what would any reasonable person expect the effect of a long-term change of ocean pH from 7.7 to 7.3 (or thereabouts) to be? Granted, it requires follow-up studies, but calamitous conclusions have been drawn, and widely broadcast, from less evidence than that.

      • Some areas will benefit, in contrast to Robert’s comment on the last thread which resulted in lots of citations and no forward progress – most here know that, given X AGW or simply X GW, there will be winners and losers.

        Many people believe that, but they were given every opportunity to demonstrate it and they failed miserably. Which might lead one to question skeptically if that is really true.

        Both over on that thread and here, we are hearing variations on a theme: global warming may help us or hurt us; some countries will benefit while others will suffer; if climate change has harms it must also have benefits.

        This is the grey fallacy, argumentum ad temperantiam. Like all fallacies, it has a superficial appeal. But regardless, it is not an argument. If there is evidence to support these propositions, it should be presented. But they are not self-evident.

        In response to a comment of David’s, I recently reviewed the recent literature from the economists about the costs of global warming. They differ substantially in how costly it will be, but almost without exception, they think the costs/harms will be significant (trillions per year): http://bit.ly/upVb97.

    • Continued: Read JC’s conclusion above. I note in addition that though, ” As per the Morgan paper discussed in the previous thread, expected utility isn’t a very useful concept here.”, I think expected utility is IMO the argument Robert should have been making yesterday, in that quite a few experts predict a large net negative consequence for the world’s population.

      Yeah….this whole thread could be seen as a response to Robert’s over-the-top comment.

    • Josh, extra CO2 will make the earth of milk and honey; virgins will be falling from the sky; They will rebuild the Berlin Wall again

    • Joshua, the sea is getting more alkaline, not acidic. Even if it was going LESS alkaline, that is not; getting acidic! When you make a statement to scare people; should state how much to be scared, on a scale from 1-10 BOO!!! BOOOO!!! I’m only helping you Josh.

  7. Patrick Moffitt

    “Is it any wonder that they are not trusted? Do you trust people who are hell-bent on selling you something to the point where they omit relevant information? In law, this is called fraud.”

    More properly- regulatory agencies and anyone using taxpayer money should be held to the same full disclosure requirements that the private sector is held to when seeking funds.

    Amazing the detailed full disclosure requirements for an IPO, a drug approval or even a real estate transaction but none for a regulatory agency seeking an increased budget or the imposition of compliance costs. Well- amazing is the wrong word- wrong is better.

    • Pat, you have my full support. CO2 emission is increasing beyond anybody’s expectation – if they don’t deliver GLOBAL warming; their passports confiscated and assets frozen; until they compensate the Urban Sheep. Com -on Warmist; double or nothing!!! Tragical part is that: the sceptical Smarties are creating ”back-door exit” for the Warmist, with their stupid sunspots, sun-flares and other drivel…

  8. Somebody isn’t happy.

  9. Michael, it’s nice that you’ve started with a concise intro that covers the rest of your post. Your two attempted analogies are stunningly stupid. “Disease” is by definition harmful, as is “pollution”. So all you’ve said there is “bad is bad”. The warming out of the Little Ice Age has been beneficial to mankind and has almost certainly increased the biosphere so it is entirely reasonable to consider the possibility that further warming, whatever the cause, may continue to be a net gain for humanity. As far as “pertubation of currently known and relatively predictable systems”, I’m not sure to what you are referring. It is certainly not the earth’s climate as no-one has demonstrated any skill in predicting or hind casting its variations. But one thing we can say for sure is that it will change and this will require adaption from farmers etc. regardless of whether it gets warmer or colder. If there was a competition, I’d give this a vote for the stupidest post I’ve seen here all year. :-)

    • sickle cell aneamia, Woody, look it up.

      Nitrogen fertiliser – great for your crops, sucks in the water.

      Better luck next time.

      • “sickle cell aneamia, Woody, look it up.”

        It’s a blood disease prevalent in people from sub-saharan Africa, but being a dim-wit I can’t see your point? Nor how this relates to the beneficial effects of warming, unless you’re referring to the greening of the Sahel.

      • I have read that sickle-cell anaemia, while an unpleasant disease in itself, and prevalent in west Africa, can provide sufferers with resistance to malaria, which is still a major killer. And being exposed to some diseases in childhood can be better than catching the same disease as an adult. Diseases are usually bad, but some may have beneficial side effects. With some co-ordinated effort we could eliminate malaria as we did with small-pox. Sickle-cell anaemia is more difficult as the condition is (I think) inherited.
        However, all this has nothing to do with climate change, which, good or bad, is not going to go away whatever measures we take. The only sensible policy is to prepare and adapt.

      • So you do understand that things aren’t always what they seem. Which means that your first post was just written quickly and emotionally which is ok. That happens. Or that you deliberately picked terms like pollution and disease and now are back tracking because people have called you on it.

        Sickle cell anemia, especially the trait (carried heterozygously), provides protection against malaria and is selected for through evolution since it allows those with this trait to survive longer and produce more children.

        But this example shows that the article was correct and that your first post was mistaken.

  10. Crank alert.

    Once again in Judith’s trip tot he bottom of the credibility barrell, she dredges up some sad sack spouting some inane drivel.

    Though Anthony did pique my interest for a second when he made it sound like he was a climate scientist – it would have been interesting if a scientist thought that.

    Alas, Anthony is a pollution engineer who teaches Intelligent Design in his spare time.

    • Michael, you only out yourself. What is the specialty of the head of the IPCCC? As for crank, look in mirror.

  11. Is it any wonder that they are not trusted?

    Can someone please take the time to quantify who “they” are, and how the distrust of “them” has been measured?

    There is evidence that shows that scientists, in general, are viewed quite highly in our society. There is evidence that shows that scientists (groups such as the EPA) are concerned the best source for information on climate change.

    Why do “skeptics” make such facile conclusions about the general view of “them,” without evidential support? Wouldn’t that be notably un-skeptical?

    • er…”are considered the best source.”

    • Oh Joshua, please!

      Once one dons the mantle of ‘skeptic’, all such standards are null and void.

    • josher-ua’

      Why do you keep pulling that evidence crap, joshy? Everybody done seen the poll that found that most (69%) people believe that climate scientists have faked their research. Google it.

      • Ladies and gentlemen, I give you an object lesson in confirmation bias.

        <blockquote<Everybody done seen the poll that found that most (69%) people believe that climate scientists have faked their research.

        Before those 69% poll results, “skeptics” supplied no information validating their assertion of a “lack of trust” in climate scientists, a “crisis of confidence” in climate scientists, etc.

        Then the poll came out. And now every time I ask for data confirming the “no trust” viewpoint, I get a reference to that poll in response.

        Every time.

        It’s like clockwork.

        The poll shows that some 69% of those polled think it very likely or somewhat likely that some climate scientists fabricate some data to support their analysis. Some climate scientists.

        The poll doesn’t tell us whether or not the respondents think that the conclusions of climate scientists are valid.

        The poll doesn’t tell us how people feel that the quality of being very likely or somewhat likely to fabricate data to support theories among climate scientists might compare to priests, or doctors, or plumbers, or extremist libertarians who pretend to be “skeptics” on blogs.

        What does “somewhat likely” mean in the context of the poll. When the someone answers that question about “some” climate scientists, how many climate scientists are they referring to? Which ones? Lindzen, Christy, Pielke, and Spencer?

        We have other data that show a high level of trust in scientists, and trust in what scientists have to say about climate change. We also have evidence that large %’s of the American public are not aware of the predominance of scientists who think it some 90% likely that more than 50% of recent warming is anthropogenically caused.

        Americans ranked scientists higher in prestige than 23 other occupations (and at a level similar to firefighters), a view that has remained virtually unchanged in the 35 years that the NSF has conducted its surveys.

        So what do we have? We have evidence of “skeptics” who held a belief prior to reading a poll, using the poll in a facile manner to substantiate their beliefs even though the data from the poll are woefully insufficient to confirm their conclusions.

        The question I still have is why they call themselves “skeptics.”

      • It’s been clear for sometime that most climate ‘skeptics’ are just dogmatic contrarians.

        But thanks for demonstrating it.

      • The question I still have is why they call themselves “skeptics.”
        Occams razor, Joshey — because they are indeed skeptics.

    • Joshua you need to learn more tricks. Being a one trick troll makes you look boring, not just silly.

      • Thanks for reading, hunter.

        And for commenting in response.

        It means a lot to me. Especially in this post-Christmas/pre-New Year interval.

      • Hunter, I think there was a typo it should be droll.

  12. Science for policy IPCC-style has resulted in epistemic slippage (Mike Hulme’s phrase); I wouldn’t call this fraud.

    Judith in isolation, no it isn’t. However, the issue has has been pointed out to them for many years – at some point, to continue ignoring such warnings changes the perception of motivation from “epistemic slippage” through “negligence” and on to “fraud”. We can argue about where the lines that separate these desciptors should be, but I don’t think you can argue against the fact that such change of perception is both a natural and inevitable result of such willful disregard. Perhaps the IPCC beaurocratic mindset and the desire for consensus helps push IPCC/UNFCCC towards slow change and “following the majority”, but this is no excuse at this stage of the game, IMO.

    • You are correct Mr. Fisher. To turn a blind eye to the shenanigans of the team is a conspiracy of silence. It’s fraud, or complicity with fraud.

  13. A lot of people are missing the point. Let’s restate that a little more clearly. Let’s suppose that temperature increases monotonically for 50 years. That still doesn’t define what kind of action is needed. If it’s not due to CO2, controlling CO2 is an exercise in futility. And which (if any) adaptation is called for won’t be evident until it’s evident.

    • randomengineer

      I’m still lost at the stage of how precisely how the west can stop AGW without bombing most of the ROW back into the stone age. There are no magic technologies and if (e.g.) Zimbabwe industrialises it’s going to do so with fossil fuels. If the west won’t use them, everybody else will. There has never been anything I’ve seen in years of reading about this topic how it is *precisely* that china and india are going to magically stop using fossil fuels. My guess is that this is all the same unicorn fart nonsense as US car owners having this mysterious choice of alternate no-CO2 fuels.

      • Agreed. It also strikes me that striving to do something impossible is likely to have negative consequences. I don’t see the path that leads to (many) hundreds of billions of barrels of oil – or its equivalent – left in the ground unused, that doesn’t include coercion and carnage. Particularly when that oil will be economically recoverable and beneficial for poor or hungry or undeveloped or emerging societies.
        Ten thousand windmills don’t change that reality.

        What can alter is people’s adaptability to climate, which coincidentality means altering adaptability to climate change – should it materialise.

        My suspicion is that much of the fear of climate change is simply a fear of change, which is why ‘positives’ appear to be invisible.

      • What’s left in the ground is the complement of the URR, the ultimate recoverable resources. The total is known as OOIP, original oil in place. Historically, URR is like 40% of OOIP.

        There are some intuitive explanations for why we can’t easily get at the 60% left in the ground. Reservoirs are porous material and the oil obviously sticks to the fractal composition. It would be like scrubbing gravel to separate it completely. Heat of course can help remove some of the oil, see Kern River in California, but it is really diminishing returns in action.

      • Web –
        If something is not economically recoverable (ever) it may as well not exist. So you may take it as read that when I mention oil that is left in the ground, I’m referring to a portion of URR. The OOIP simply doesn’t come into the equation.
        The upshot is that somewhere along the line, what has to happen is that some resources have to remain unused through choice, or policy otherwise our obsession with ’emissions’ is one enormous red herring.

    • And as we see here, the believers are working hard to make certain they continue to miss it.

    • P.E. Temperature is not and will not increase. Global warming is in people’s heads, not in nature. I stated in my book: ”if I don’t prove that is no such a thing as GLOBAL warming; beyond any reasonable doubt, I will eat my book in front of TV cameras, for the whole world to see”

      People used to talk about dragons – other people believed; is that prove of dragons? Everything has being already proven. The only reason Warmist haven’t spit the dummy already, is because of the ignorant Skeptics that collect fanatically the IPCC’s bull-dung… All the proofs necessary, are on my website

  14. Pollution is by definition harmful. Full stop. That was the point I made, and has not been refuted by your reference to a substance that can be beneficial or “pollution” depending on its context.
    Disease is also by definition harmful. Sickle cell anaemia is the disease caused by the mutation that can also give resistance to malaria. I don’t need to look it up to understand your failure to divert attention from your fallacies. ;-)
    Do you want another go?

    • Woody, I agree.

      You seem to have missed the point – the post is arguing against this.

      BTW, hasn’t the EPA deemed CO2 a pollutant?
      So it’s “harmful, full stop”?


      • Michael, the EPA endangerment finding is being contested in Court. That finding is an example of the problem raised by this post, namely the one-sided claim that AGW is bad. EPA is hardly an unbiased judge, rather they are an advocacy agency. You seem to be claiming that it is obvious that AGW is bad, but that is hardly the case.

      • Michael, EPA violated its own policies to arrive at that finding . Full Stop.

  15. On the one hand, it is a good thing that Hume is cited in the climate debate. It is a relevant paper after all. On the other hand, it is a rather old one. Hume should be standard knowledge. It is worrying that something as basic as “what is does not imply what ought to be” needs referencing.

    • Patricia Churchland has an excellent up-to-date neurophilosphical evidence based critique of the Naturalistic Fallacy. That is, she argues that Hume was misinterpreted. She has written Braintrust (2011) explaining why Moore’s “what is does not imply what ought to be” itself is fallacious. See page 186-190 for details. Well worth a read. Read an intoduction to Churchland’s critique of the “no is from ought” maxim from page 4 here:

  16. Oh dear, why do climate scientists get into these awful muddles?

    No, it has nothing to do with Hume, Searle, fact and value, ought and is.

    Its really a simple issue, though the detail is massively hard to get any certainty about. The issue is what the effects of warming or cooling will be by region. Then the question is whether these effects are best addressed by trying to manage temperature, or by helping the worst affected regions adapt.

    In all of this of course what is usually omitted is that the present climate is pretty dire for some regions. In order to know what to do, if anything, you have to do a real inventory of the present situation by region, then try to figure out the changes by region, then figure out what if anything you can do either globally or by region, and what it will cost and deliver.

    Its not going to leave much time for reading Hume, or Searle, or G E Moore… or even any more recent contributors to the fact versus value debate.

    We probably all agree on the value part of the discussion, we will all agree that human life and happiness are valuable. That’s not an issue. The issue is what action is likely to benefit them.

    This is the amazing thing about geo-engineering proposals from the green lobby. They seem to have decided as a matter of faith that they will be effective, but without any risk analysis or even any detailed regional account of what their effects will be. Crazy.

    • michel: Its really a simple issue, though the detail is massively hard to get any certainty about. The issue is what the effects of warming or cooling will be by region. Then the question is whether these effects are best addressed by trying to manage temperature, or by helping the worst affected regions adapt.

      Well written.

      “the detail is massively hard to get any certainty about” might be better as “the detail is completely unpredictable on current knowledge”. Or maybe not.

  17. I agree the climate problem is framed too narrowly. As many of the AGW skeptics here happen to be closeted peak oilers, the real issue is much more comprehensive — that of developing alternate forms of energy. This of course requires systems thinking, and not just continuous slamming against the narrow discipline of climate science.

    And you can call me a johnny-one-note, because that note is the fuel that runs the world’s economy.

    My slant is simple. Let’s try to get the Luddites, the Malthusians, and the Cornucopians into a frame of mind that we can system engineer solutions through a combination of applied R&D and the free-marketplace of ideas.

    • One note, but a god one Web.

      Sadly, much of the purported skepticism has devolved into dogmatic contrarianism, so that sensible energy policy may be rejected because it appears to be related to, or motivated by, concerns over climate change.

      • Thanks Michael. A recent theme in the blog arc has been regarding scientific reductionism. I would suggest that people with an interest in this topic visit the Wikipedia page on Systems Thinking. The explanation contrasts nicely against the reductionist viewpoint.

        The predictable response is that capitalism and the free-market system is all that is required to ferret out solutions. In other words, an ensemble of independent free-thinkers will work equally well as funded directed research into areas of fusion technology that Vaughan is alluding to. If we side with Dr. Pratt on this one, some collectivist systems thinking will be required, along with the action.

      • “The predictable response is that capitalism and the free-market system is all that is required to ferret out solutions. In other words, an ensemble of independent free-thinkers will work equally well as funded directed research into areas of fusion technology that Vaughan is alluding to. If we side with Dr. Pratt on this one, some collectivist systems thinking will be required, along with the action.”

        Capitalism means citizens rather the merely the State have assess to wealth/resources. The idea of communism or socialism [all else is Capitalism] is wealth is equally divided- which has never been actually done at a State level- what has occurred in members of the state have unequal assess to wealth and whatever is deemed necessary is doled out to the masses. And this normally involves getting on waiting lists to get things like living quarters or food. So as practical matter government member do have capital. They can have a house built and/or they can arrange in direct fashion housing already built. These people can also buy products from free markets elsewhere. It’s not as though the soviet union didn’t have currency. A true communism or socialism has no currency- what purpose would it have?

        But in capitalist society some people have more money then others, and when one has more than enough to live comfortable one use it or buy things like pay for research. Or donation to fund to save starving children or whatever. The person does not need be a member government to have access to wealth.
        Now in comparison to Dept of Energy run research of Fusion energy, as compared to various other types of funded research- as in universities, for example, the think the capitalism efforts have much higher chance of success. That generally the way it happens.

      • I called you out on this a few threads ago

        Rhetoric (Luddites, the Malthusians, and the Cornucopians etc and blah) does NOT cut it – practical, economic, reliable base load power and transport requirements are the precise issues. Cities can neither feed nor energise themselves

        Now you do a 180 and claim we need R&D – gee, who’d have thought that ? Base load for large cities (about 70% of the populations) can be done with hard-engineered gas, nuclear and hydro (Fukuyama noted).. Transport is more vexed, because contrary to wishful thinking, daily travel in large cities is a complete criss-cross of individual needs. Distances also count, so bicycles don’t cut it for most able-bodied people either. For the 30% that do NOT live in cities, longer distance, reliable, economic transport to a myriad of destinations is essential to survival

        BTW, most R&D finishes as a washout (including some of the stuff I’ve tried). The ONLY guarantee from R&D is that you will get answers that you do not want. This is why it’s expensive, slow and risky. No amount of Pollyanna wishing will change that. Hard, expensive applied science and engineering is being done and has been done for Millenia. Real progress is intermittent and not guaranteed – no reason not to keep trying, but the process most specifically cannot use pointless post-modernist rhetoric. While we actually try to achieve more efficient energy/transport supplies, coal and gas will suffice, since blanket reductions of living standards cause civil unrest, riots and general mayhem

        The applied scientists and engineers are sorely missing from this debate, yet are the ones most needed

      • You aren’t calling me out on anything because you too apparently believe in the economic fact of peak oil.

        Another notch in the counting stick.

      • Michael, that is an interestimg inversion of reality. It is the AGW community that has pushed failing and failed energy solutions. Nuke, frakking, cleaner coal, etc. have all been either rejected or misrepresented or ignored by AGW.

      • I am curious what you think is a “sensible” energy policy, because some people think “sensible” means windmills that shred birds and bats and that stop at a moment’s notice. I think “sensible” is a push toward natural gas which is becoming plentiful, has much less N and S oxide pollution, no mercury to speak of, no ash residue, no particulates, and half the CO2 output of coal per BTU (should you think that is important). Sounds like a win-win to me, but some greens bemoan gas because it will allow people to maintain their standard of living and stay warm (I guess not enough guilt-assuaging suffering for their taste).

    • “free-marketplace of ideas.”

      You got that last part right. The rest is superfluous.

    • Fully agree, WHT. My bet is on inertial confinement fusion, which is the only technology I’ve seen coming down the pike where the ratio of energy produced to problems caused by it is acceptably low.

      * Magnetic confinement fusion (Tokomak) has an ongoing stability problem. While the Europeans are optimistic they can get this under control in the near future, we’ve been hearing this optimism for several decades now.

      * Fission energy has the China Syndrome problem (runaway chain reaction in the event of containment failure such as occurred at Chernobyl and Fukushima) plus the problem of reliably burying spent fuel rods for thousands of years.

      * Photovoltaic energy fluctuates with both cloud cover and season. The 7.5 kW of solar panels on my roof has been producing only 4.5 kW on a clear sunny day at noon here at 37° N at the winter solstice. The seasonal fluctuations would be less of an issue if we could run power lines between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, but no one seems to be giving that option much consideration.

      * Wind energy fluctuates with available wind while putting dangerous sails within striking distance of millions to billions of acres.

      * Hydroelectric seems to be largely maxed out.

      * Ocean waves and geothermal energy can add a little, but that’s all, and moreover waves are still a big unknown.

      From a physics standpoint inertial confinement makes perfect sense. Whether problems with it will emerge once it’s deployed remains to be seen. I can’t imagine what they’d be.

      • From a physics standpoint, the problems have to be resolved before it can be deployed. Most of you people are over-educated, and not serious.

      • Most of you people are over-educated, and not serious.

        My experience with serious under-educated people has largely been in dark alleys.

      • The correct term, Don, is credentialed moron. Like someone suggesting transhemispheric powerlines.

      • Dr. Pratt,
        What are you doing in dark alleys? You should get out more.

      • Inertial confinemnt is like the penny hidden in a corner of a round room.
        We need to go with what works now- coal, hydro, nuclear, nat. gas, for base loads. Let speculators chase wind and solar with their money, not the tax payer’s.
        Clean up coal, get kooks out of nukes, standardize it and mass produce it, (thorium, anyone?) put in more efficient hydro where practical, keep the kooks out of frakking, and let ‘er rip.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        I would add to your list (at least for those nations that have large resources, like the USA)

        * Natural gas – a readily available, relatively easily accessible and hence inexpensive, clean and easily transportable source for domestic heating, electrical power generation and (with some small modifications) for vehicles and transportation, which has the side benefit that it generates only half the CO2 and none of the real pollutants that coal does


      • Vaughan: * Fission energy has the China Syndrome problem (runaway chain reaction in the event of containment failure such as occurred at Chernobyl and Fukushima) plus the problem of reliably burying spent fuel rods for thousands of years.

        I think you are behind the times on that. The lesson of Fukushima is that, if you build a reactor on the coast line and make it earthquake resistant (the reactors survived the earthquake, and would have survived the tsunami had they not been shut down in response to the earthquake) you should make it tsunami-resistant as well.

      • Kim: Like someone suggesting transhemispheric powerlines.

        You prefer transhemispheric shipments of fossil fuels? If so, why?

    • “My slant is simple. Let’s try to get the Luddites, the Malthusians, and the Cornucopians into a frame of mind that we can system engineer solutions through a combination of applied R&D and the free-marketplace of ideas.”

      Web, are you using a computer on the internet? Do you have a car, central heating, flushing toilet. If you’re ill do you take medicines? In your spare time do you read books, listen to the radio, watch TV? Do you get buses, trains and planes to go on long journeys?

      How many of these things evolved by getting “..the Luddites, the Malthusians, and the Cornucopians into a frame of mind that we can system engineer solutions through a combination of applied R&D and the free-marketplace of ideas.”

      The answer is none of them, they evolved because of a combination of foresight, scientific ingenuity and engineering excellence, against a backcloth of perceived benefits to the public and the opportunity to make money. I have no doubt that as we move forward in time we will develop energy production techniques that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels because of cost, not because of some perceived ability to control the climate. The course of action you’re suggesting here has already added 10% to our energy bills in the UK and the government plans to raise this to 30% (if there’s no general uprising in the intervening period) so that be 2050 we can reduce our annual output from our current 4 weeks of China’s output to 2 weeks of China’s current output, which, by 2050, it will probably be a couple of days of China’s output. The extra costs on our energy are being used to subsidise just the same fanasy system engineered solutions, such as wind power and solar power, while wilfully ignoring nuclear power.

      • Of course it’s due to cost. When a resource is scarce, it can’t be used as a debt mechanism to propel economic growth. Your creditors won’t see the profit as you sink everything back into paying ballooning energy costs.

        As for the rest of your points:
        Internet … DARPA
        Cars, buses … Interstate freeway system
        Radio, TV … Regulated broadcast spectrum
        Flushing toilet … Municipal utilities
        Trains … Eminent domain
        Medicine … Without regulations how would we fare?

        All of these came about through some collectivist action, and lightning might well strike again.

        So what is exactly your point? That some teenager will construct a Tokomak in his parent’s basement?

      • Internet … DARPA
        Cars, buses … Interstate freeway system
        Radio, TV … Regulated broadcast spectrum
        Flushing toilet … Municipal utilities
        Trains … Eminent domain
        Medicine … Without regulations how would we fare?

        In contrast to seventy or fifty or even thirty years ago, almost all serious voices on the left acknowledge the value and power of markets, the importance of incentives, and the problem of unintended consequences.

        I wish the right could enjoy a similar moderation of their views, and recognize that the failure of a rigidly centrally planned economy doesn’t prove that regulations and government programs will always be failures — they haven’t been in the past, obviously.

      • Robert

        – Total central control = bad (USSR)

        – No central control at all = bad (Wild West)

        Going a step further:

        – Too much central control = bad

        – Too little central control = bad

        What’s “too much” or “too little”? And does this depend on “for whom”? Or does it also depend on control “of what”?

        That’s what the discussion on central control is all about, Robert.


    • That would require a free-market :)

    • WHT, your rather sad attempts to redefine Pesl oil and to miscast those who disagree with you as secret supporters really damages anything else you might say.

      • curse typing on a ‘smart’ phone.
        “Pesl” = “peak”

      • You guys are just target practice for my arguments. I really have to laugh when you imply it hurts my reputation.

        Right now, I see lots of talk on NG hydraulic fracturing and synfuels from coal by a bunch of you skeptics. If that isn’t resignation to the reality of peak oil, I don’t know what is. And if you say this is just the free-market at work, I call it a precursor to some real mitigation steps.

        We buy some time while we find some real non-fossil fuel alternatives. That’s mitigation at work.

        And Hunter, you may not be one of these secret supporters, and instead may be just as clueless as you appear. Peak oil is not a mind-set, it is a quantitative measure that becomes apparent as the economic data dribbles out.

      • WHT

        Peak oil?

        Peak gas?

        Peak coal?

        Sure. They are all limited.

        And they are all connected.

        South Africa has been using coal for gasoline and petrochemical feedstocks for years.

        So let’s talk about peak fossil fuel

        The WEC tells us that we have enough TOTAL “inferred possible recoverable fossil fuel resources” on our planet to meet current demands for 300 years. This translates into meeting future demands for 100-150 years, based on population and GDP growth projections and some replacement by other technologies..

        There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the next 100-150 years will see new developments in the energy sector, which we cannot even dream of today (Vaughan Pratt’s list plus others he hasn’t even thought of).

        So there does not need to be any panic regarding peak fossil fuel IMO.

        Of course, you are entitled to your opinion – that’s what makes life interesting.


      • Like I said, fossil fuel mitigation and climate change mitigation lead to the same path — develop alternative energy strategies. Nothing to argue here, but it doesn’t play well among those that would rather wring the last drop out of their BAU investments.

    • “that of developing alternate forms of energy.”
      That’s a worthy goal.
      So let’s discard the climate fear mongering, and concentrate on what we all agree on.
      Let’s not be led astray by this fear-mongering into wasting time and money on things that don’t work.

      • That is like suggesting we abandon discussion of the cancer-causing qualities of smoking, and focus on the fact that it smells bad.

        You are welcome to come up with your own reasons to stop burning fossil fuels (there are many to chose from) but no one is going to suppress the facts about AGW that apparently make you uncomfortably scared.

    • Web

      Imo both the issue of climate change and your favorite (peak fossil fuel) come down to whether the specific actions being recommended for implementation make sense. I recommend that if you wish to effectively tie the two issue together that you make specific suggestions for a specific country to implement.

    • I agree the climate problem is framed too narrowly. As many of the AGW skeptics here happen to be closeted peak oilers, the real issue is much more comprehensive — that of developing alternate forms of energy. This of course requires systems thinking, and not just continuous slamming against the narrow discipline of climate science.

      I like most of that. I would put less emphasis on “systems thinking” (especially if that means increased government regulation) and more on R&D of diverse energy technologies. As examples of “systems thinking”, consider the US Interstate Highway system and federal air traffic control: they supplement and enhance a large unsystematic (“self organized”) network produced by the free market. I emphasize “diverse” because we can not predict what manufacturing enhancements and cost reductions will produce the best technology for each decade.

      My optimistic postings on current and near future energy R&D probably make me sound like a Cornucopian, but I try to emphasize the necessity for persistent investment of much $$$, time and effort for long-term success. Solar energy is there (that’s the cornucopia), but harvesting it will continue to be a long, hard slog.

  18. The starting point of the climate change issue was not an observation that the climate had been changing in a threatening way. The starting point was the observation that CO2 levels had been increasing and the theoretical reasoning that this may ultimately lead to serious consequences. From this starting point the framing of UNFCCC is completely logical and justified. It’s perfectly correct to concentrate on the human influence through CO2 and study other issues like natural variability only as much as is needed for learning about the main issue.

    On the above point I seem to disagree with Judith, but I do also agree with her and with the logic of Burgess-Jackson. The framing of UNFCCC has influenced too much the thinking of scientists (and politicians and general public). I believe strongly in the correctness of the precautionary principle as a principle, but the difficulty of judging risks and uncertainties has led to a situation, where we don’t know anymore, how far we should trust the scientific community. The framing has led to persistent biasing mechanisms, whose importance on the conclusions is impossible to judge.

    The emphasis on negative outcomes rather than positive is natural taking the framing of the issue and the precautionary principle into account, but doing this systematically over twenty years has led to a situation, where we cannot know how severely biased our “best understanding” is. To make rational decisions we would need unbiased knowledge and add the precautionary bias at the final step of deciding on the actions, but now the bias has been built in at all steps and the available information doesn’t allow for the correct rational decisions.

    Nobody seems to be both willing and capable of discussing these difficulties openly and aiming at maximal objectivity. Both the promoters of strong climate policies and the opponents prefer dishonest simplifications. They try to make simple logical choices out of questions that cannot be answered by simple logic, but require objective quantitative analysis. By doing that for 20 years they have made the objective analysis very difficult, or essentially impossible. I think that the UNFCCC approach will fail for this reason. The “successes” of Durban are empty. The pro-policy side has destroyed the basis for rational action and will finally be unable to convert the rest.

    The problem is that the Kyoto model is seriously flawed, but no real alternative solution has been seriously developed, largely because EU sticks with Kyoto approach unwilling to accept that it’s not worth keeping and impossible to implement in the long run.

    • Hi Pekka, It’s nice to have your occasional calm and thoughtful comments to balance some of the ill-tempered ranting that creeps onto Judith’s excellent forum. You wrote: “The starting point was the observation that CO2 levels had been increasing and the theoretical reasoning that this may ultimately lead to serious consequences.” Can’t argue with that. It could equally well ultimately lead to beneficial conseqences – can’t argue with that either. Or to no detectable consequences at all.
      I think it is worth spending some effort on trying to determine what if any detectable changes (harmful, beneficial or neutral) can be shown to have resulted so far from the enhanced atmospheric CO2. It’s gone up around 40% in the last century. Is there anything to show for that increase?

    • Pekka, I disagree with your claims about human reasoning. Specifically this:
      “Nobody seems to be both willing and capable of discussing these difficulties openly and aiming at maximal objectivity. Both the promoters of strong climate policies and the opponents prefer dishonest simplifications.”

      The objectivity lies in the debate, not in individuals. Nor is the debate simplified, much less dishonestly so. The reason we have over 150,000 comments here is because the issues are being pursued in great detail.

      There is a reason why policy making is an advocacy process, because that way the reasoning gets done in detail. The kind of objectivity you are calling for would require people without beliefs, and they do not exist.

      • David,

        My view is that the debate excludes the depth that is needed for real progress. It’s not enough to argue on both extremes and tell (correctly) that the other side is too extreme. It’s necessary to admit that the issue is more complex ant that the other side is correct at least in it’s claim that the own simplistic view not the full truth.

        I know that you approach the issue studying logic and polemics. Therefore I’m not surprised that you give it too much value. Logic and polemic cannot solve the issue, when the knowledge is lacking. Furthermore misdirected polemic may hamper the development of valid knowledge rather than promote it.

      • Pekka, you have now switched from arguing a lack of objectivity to arguing a lack of knowledge, which is also false. The debate is being carried on all the way up to the most knowledgeable people, and the arguments do not change. The debate is not due to ignorance, it is due to the fact that the evidence is contradictory, so the science is unresolved. The positions are extreme because the possibilities are extreme, ranging from doing nothing to attempting to forcibly decarbonize the world.

        In this context how could there not be a great public debate? There is no alternative in a democratic system. Do not wish for a world that cannot exist.

      • I think the difference here might be between the concepts of debating and arguing. Pekka seems to be urging the former.

      • Pekka, You are just frustrated because an open and free wheeling discussion is not going the way you wish.

      • Can’t have any ‘misdirected polemic’, oh no. Isn’t worrying about ‘misdirected polemic’ what got this crew in the mess they are in in the first place?

      • The are two issues that are related but not identical.

        One is the difficulty of the scientists to remain objective, when the task is defined as UNFCCC has defined it. That setting leads to overemphasis of negative outcomes as such research gets more funding, gets more easily published, and becomes gradually more and more dominant within the community. Such a bias does certainly exist, but it’s very difficult to judge, how severely it has influenced the conclusions.

        The other issue concerns the debate. The polarization of views has led to attempts to influence wider audience by simplistic and rather extreme arguments. One major form of this simplification is the attempt to present own views as the only logically correct ones and the opposite views as strictly false. This is not supportive for the formulation of quantitatively balanced views that would offer the best basis for rational decision making consistent with any of the commonly held political philosophies.

        There are great uncertainties on the consequences of climate change and great uncertainties on the effect any of the proposed policies would have on the climate change and on the society in other ways. The issues are so large and so complicated that errors in policy choices may lead to seriously damaging outcomes. Being worried about climate change and considering it a serious risk does not determine uniquely the policy choices. Bad policy choices are bad even, when they are made to counter a real threat. Avoiding bad policy choices, when facing an issue that is very different of everything on which the politicians have earlier experience requires good analysis of the alternatives. Such analysis will not be available, when simplistic polarized debate dominates, but I might agree that even a simplistic polarized debate is better than no debate at all.

      • You’re at the bargaining stage. Take it easy; the rest follows naturally.

      • No, David. The fact that there’s no additional useful knowledge to be had from moving up the pyramid of experts tells you quite clearly that there’s a lack of useful knowledge. The problem’s really that simple.

        Notice the qualifier “useful”. There’s way too much of the other kind of knowledge floating around.

      • Peka Pirella writes “One is the difficulty of the scientists to remain objective, ”

        Sorry Peka, this is a non-starter. Proper scientists are ALWAYS objective. It is only the pseudo-scientists who claim that CAGW is real, that are not objective.

      • We’ll finally get somewhere when investors figure out the gold mine that a warmer world would be instead of being seduced by the morbid, misanthropic impulse generated by the urge for a quick buck and easy power represented by the CO2 is evil paradigm.

        Oops, wait, the globe is cooling.

      • “One major form of this simplification is the attempt to present own views as the only logically correct ones and the opposite views as strictly false.”

        This is simply false logic. The problem is not that both sides think they are right and the other wrong. The problem is that one side is right, and the other wrong, and the question is how do you decide which is right?

        Either anthropogenic CO2 emissions are sufficiently likely to cause a shift in climate that will have catastrophic effects that decarboinization is warranted, or they aren’t. As on so many issues, the muddled middle is no solution at all.

        Thinks of it this way. A patient has seen two doctors. One says the patient’s legs have a dangerous new infection the like of which has never been seen before. But the potential damage from this infection If the legs are not amputated, the patient will die. The second doctor says there is no where near sufficient evidence for the diagnosis, this supposed new type of infection has not been shown to actually be an infection or dangerous to the patient, and the operation itself poses a serious risk to the patient.

        The stakes are enormous either way. But one, and only one, physician is “right.” Either the risk of the infection justifies the risk of the amputations, or it does not. Argue all you want about the politics and biases of the two physicians. The real issue remains, simply, do you amputate or not?

        I happen to think that Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Rajendra Pachauri et al, are deeply biased and to a large degree politically motivated. That does not mean that I believe that they lying about what they claim the science “tells us.” It just means I factor their biases in when I weigh their statements.

        Nor does it mean that CAGW cannot be true, or that I would still oppose decarbonization if sufficient evidence were presented of all the issues involved. It just makes me more…skeptical…of the CAGWers’ claims.

        If the CAGWers are right, but skeptics prevail at the ballot box, then we skeptics will be responsible for significant future damage from global warming. If the skeptics are right, but the progressive CAGWers win the elections, then they will be responsible for untold economic damage to the US and global economies.

        On some issues, there just is no “reasonable middle ground.”

      • David –

        The reason we have over 150,000 comments here is because the issues are being pursued in great detail.

        The overwhelming majority of the posts at this site are from people who are wholly convinced, one way or the other, about the issue of climate change. As Michael says, they mostly are not debating, but arguing from certainty that their conclusions are rooted in an objective evaluation of the data. The positions are often extreme because the arguers are extremists.

        The kind of objectivity you are calling for would require people without beliefs, and they do not exist.

        Again – this is a false conclusion about what I am calling for (I don’t speak for Pekka), presumably based in a binary mentality. You can believe that people will approach debates, reasonably, with an openness to controlling for and acknowledging biases and influences, without thinking that you can find people without beliefs.

        IMO – what is unrealistic is your approach to the “meta” of this debate: unwillingness to accept, or simply a dismissal of, the abundant evidence that identity, ideology, culture, “socio-centric” thinking, “motivated reasoning,” confirmation bias, etc., are drivers in how people approach debates about controversial subjects that underlay, so fundamentally, political and cultural contexts.

      • It’s even worse than that. For the most part, Judith puts up science threads, but most people (and I’m as guilty as anyone) want to talk policy. It would be interesting to try to classify comments as to science v.s. policy, but I’d guess that over half of comments here are about policy. Some few threads are about policy, but nowhere near the majority.

        So when you take the policy comments away, and the foodfights, and general bloviating, and repeats of obvious elementary science, and vacuous comments that do nothing be cite papers, there’s not that much left. And I, for one appreciate Pekka’s comments, because unlike others who shall not be named, they are thoughtful and honest.

        Gosh, I’m agreeing with Josh.

      • P.E.
        I basically blow you out of the water when I do an original science-slanted blog post. The problem is that few people can keep up, and that’s the way it has always been for general interest blogs. And not like I am the best either. Go to a real science blog such as http://AzimuthProject.org and you will see some talent. A recent post is on establishing a maximum entropy measure for quantum mechanics which Baez is designating as “quantropy”.

        Get a mirror. I don’t see you doing anything original. When you do,

      • Pekka: My view is that the debate excludes the depth that is needed for real progress.

        OK, that’s a personal view.

        My view is that the debate is extensive and deep, involving all levels of society, all political factions, and nearly every nation. The debate addresses simplicities and complexities of theories, strengths and weaknesses of data, and powers and costs of technologies. The debate is carried out in all communications media The debate has lasted decades, and will persist for decades yet. Real progress is slow, halting, and inconsistent, as all “real” progress always has been.

    • Thank you Pekka –

      Re-posting for emphasis.

      In bold.

      Nobody seems to be both willing and capable of discussing these difficulties openly and aiming at maximal objectivity. Both the promoters of strong climate policies and the opponents prefer dishonest simplifications.

      Although I’d change “nobody” to “relatively few.”

      • Joshua, you and Pekka are advancing a faulty theory of reasoning. The kind of “objectivity” you are calling for does not exist. Strong beliefs are not a lack of objectivity. As I explain above, the objectivity gets maximized in the debate, where all sides are heard. Nor is the debate oversimplified, rather all the technical details are present. That is why we have over 150,000 comments just here, not to mention the many other fora.

      • David –

        I can’t speak for Pekka, but I can tell you that from my POV, you are arguing from a false premise.

        I am not advocating a pure objectivity – but as Pekka says, an aim for maximal objectivity. The problem is the overwhelming disregard for that aim, and people apologizing for such un-skeptical and unscientific analysis.

        What I see, mostly, are combatants with no serious intent towards objectivity and/or combatants who are unaware of or in denial about their own objectivity while holding conspiratorial beliefs about the subjectivity of others, and binary-thinking such as that suggested by your post – which implies that the reality that pure objectivity doesn’t exist justifies partisanship.

        The debate is dominated by oversimplification to serve partisan goals – much of it presented by “skeptics” who pretend to be skeptical or mistakenly think that they aren’t being subjective.

      • David –

        I’ll give you a nice example. You post a comment suggesting that opposition to fracking is motivated by a general “fear of the future.”

        In my state, we have a conservative Republican governor who has received nearly a million dollars in contributions from the fracking industry and staffed state regulatory agencies with people aligned to the fracking industry, who is working to create “centralized” state policies that will take away any power of residents in local municipalities to regulate fracking in their own communities.

        Yest I read over and over in these pages about the danger of Eco-Nazis and their “statist” minions attacking capitalism and exploiting a “fear of the future” to achieve their nefarious goal of crushing a valuable industry that cannot possibly harm the environment.

        Such rhetoric that covers over (obviously) internally inconsistent rhetoric serves no real goal. Arguing at the extremes on the two sides of the debate only perpetuates arguing about the extremes on the two sides of the debate. Each side gets further entrenched and thinks that to balance the process they need to double-down on extremism. There is no rule of policy-development that shows that arguing at the extremes results in a moderated policy. I’m not suggesting censorship or limiting the debate. What I’m suggesting is that people who self-identify as “skeptics” not promote such extremist hyperbole.

      • “The debate is dominated by oversimplification…”

        …with stupidities like ‘Man is making the Earth Warmer and causing Bad Weather.’


      • randomengineer

        …working to create “centralized” state policies that will take away any power of residents in local municipalities to regulate fracking in their own communities.

        Sounds like he rightfully recognises that he’s a state governor in a republic and not a mob democracy.

      • Joshua, as I have said before, you are confusing psychology with reasoning. Everyone has reasons for believing what they do. It does not make them irrational. We are having a debate here. If you want to sit on the sidelines and keep ideological score be my guest, but your score has nothing to do with the reasoning. Nor will your complaints change it.

      • John Carpenter

        Yes Joshua, I agree with you. Pekka has expressed this point quite well with that quote. The extremes tend to dominate the discussion instead of the middle. Both tend to torture information and skew it to their POV. So now for the real question…. Who is in the ‘middle’ in the climate change discussion?

      • John, I am not sure there is a middle ground between accepting the hypothesis of CAGW and not accepting it. Sort of accepting it but not really? It is pretty much an up or down vote, like a jury trial.

      • John Carpenter

        “I am not sure there is a middle ground between accepting the hypothesis of CAGW and not accepting it.”

        David, that was not my point as I was discussing the entire climate change discussion of which CAGW is only a part. I don’t see it as an acceptance of CAGW or not. CAGW is an extreme position IMO. I would say those, like me, who accept there is an A component to GW are in the middle. If you recognize there is an A component to GW, then the question is… how much of it is A? From that position there are extremes, those who say there is no A component to those who say there is a lot of A component with the further conclusion it will be catastrophic. I have no data to back this next statement up, but I would guess the majority of climate scientists would be in the ‘middle’ and not at either extreme. I think Judith fits that description.

      • John, if you accept AGW but not CAGW then you are a skeptic. Pat Michaels for example. If you accept that the amount of A in GW is unknown then you are a skeptic. CAGW or not is the only issue. There is no middle ground.

      • Yep. Really, a better name for the mass of skeptics is ‘catastrophe doubter’.

      • John Carpenter

        David, I disagree the whole climate debate can be reduced to ‘for’ or ‘against’ CAGW. Apparently I see a lot more ‘in between’ from many posters here than what you are seeing. I would categorize the ‘luke warm’ position as the ‘middle’. A lot of the commenters here take that position. I’m not sure why you see it as a battle of extremes only, there is a whole spectrum of views between the extremes… some are in the middle. Don’t you agree there is a vast array of skeptical views? If policies are to be debated, do you think the debate should be relegated to only the extremes? I think not.

      • Joshua: What I see, mostly, are combatants with no serious intent towards objectivity and/or combatants who are unaware of or in denial about their own objectivity while holding conspiratorial beliefs about the subjectivity of others, and binary-thinking such as that suggested by your post – which implies that the reality that pure objectivity doesn’t exist justifies partisanship.

        Ah. More about what you “see”.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I cannot stress how much I disagree with (the impression):

      Nobody seems to be both willing and capable of discussing these difficulties openly and aiming at maximal objectivity.

      I think there are plenty of people both willing and capable of doing exactly this. The problem I see is most of them aren’t involved in the debates/discussions. To demonstrate the issue I have, consider the next line:

      Both the promoters of strong climate policies and the opponents prefer dishonest simplifications.

      Notice the two groups discussed have firm positions. Lots of people don’t. It seems cheeky to say “nobody” is willing to do something while ignoring a large body of people. How many people have no meaningful opinion about global warming? How many people have a weak opinion based simply on trusting certain individuals/groups? Lots.

      Plenty of those people would be willing and capable of having the discussion Pekka Pirilä says nobody would have. They don’t for a variety of reasons, one of the largest being the impossibility of the current state of discussion. Do you have any idea how many people tune out discussions and debates because they find both sides unconvincing, and often unbearable? To a lot of people, the whole thing is just a mess.

      I’d be happy to participate in the sort of discussions we need. I know a number of other people who would be too. The problem is, none of us can find such discussions.

    • Pekaa Pirila,

      “Nobody seems to be both willing and capable of discussing these difficulties openly and aiming at maximal objectivity. Both the promoters of strong climate policies and the opponents prefer dishonest simplifications. ”

      I am just curious, what dishonest simplifications do you prefer? Or are you the exception to “nobody seems to be….?”

      At least Joshua is consistent in leaving room for his individual awesomeness in being able to rise above the biases that restrain other mere mortals, because he’d “‘change “nobody’ to ‘relatively few.’”

      How stupid people are to, once they have studied an issue, actually form an opinion with regard to that issue. And of course, once having come to a conclusion, they are immediately “biased.”

      Seriously, what possible difference does it make? So you and Joshua have come to the astonishing conclusion that people form opinions, and those opinions help form their arguments. (That has been pretty much Joshua’s sole issue here for months.) So what? Please describe the world as seen by someone with no opinions; someone who has made no conclusions after studying an issue at length.

      People are biased? Yep. Their arguments are formed in part by those biases? Did anyone ever think otherwise? Again, so what? What the heck does that tell us about whether we should decarbonize the global economy.

      Let the CAGWers state their case, as loudly and as often as they can. Let skeptics do the same. Then the voters will decide. All this Rodney Kingish “can’t we all get along” commentary does nothing to move the debate along.

      And speaking of the precautionary principle, please tell us your analysis of how this over riding principle applies to decarbonizing a global economy of 7+ billion people. CAGW supporters have indeed written only about the negatives of CO2 emissions. But they also only write about the positives of decarbonization. If you are going to apply the precautionary principle, then why do you apply it only to the alleged problem, and not the supposed solution?

      • I might suggest that you argue with Pekka about what Pekka says.

        First, my opinions and Pekka’s are not particularly congruent.

        Secondly, you have posted numerous screeds about how irrelevant you find my ignorant opinions (apparently, not grasping the irony of doing so).

        It makes little sense that you would pay so much attention to my posts given your judgements about me – so it seems odd that you refer to my opinions so frequently – but it is astonishingly ill-advised to argue with Pekka on the basis of what I do or don’t say.

      • If the only choice would be between one well defined strong climate policy and no action at all, it would be natural to proceed through a polarized debate and decision through the vote, but that’s not, how I see the issue.

        My views are influenced by the fact that I live in Europe, where the political situation is very different from the U.S. I can accept that the majority has in Europe chosen to support active climate policies, but I dislike very much many details of the policies being applied. I don’t believe that they lead to their stated goals and I don’t believe that they do not cause a lot of collateral damage. The difficulty of getting anything accepted on international level has led to the suppression of open discussion on the details. My view is that Europeans have erred in the opposite direction of many Americans. I do think that the issue must be taken seriously, but I don’t like policies that are implemented to make the impression that we try at least something, when the outcome is not likely to be of much value, but the costs significant.

        The difficulty of the issues is not a good reason for suppressing effective discussion.

      • Pekaa Pirila,

        Then perhaps you can say what you diagnose the problem to be (if not CAGW). And what solution(s) do you propose (if not decarbonization)?

      • The main issue is related to CAGW, not to a certainty of it but a possibility. Less severe consequences don’t appear to justify strong policy actions even if they are much more certain. When the possibility of CAGW is the problem, it’s necessary to have some quantitative estimates of both the likelihood and the nature of the very severer consequences. Noting that the likelihood is not exactly zero is not enough, but there are some limits that must be exceeded to justify action. Estimating the likelihood of a catastrophic outcome is one of the difficult issues that must be discussed more openly.

        Other important issues are related to the proposed policies. It’s not enough that we make sacrifices, if we have no real knowledge on their value in reducing risks. “Decarbonization” is not a specific enough concept to form a policy action. It may be a goal of some policies, but decisions are on concrete policies, not on some remote goals. If decarbonization is the goal, then we must have valid reasons to trust that the chosen policies form an cost-effective way for reaching that goal without severe collateral damage.

        Several of the concrete policies that have already been implemented in Europe have turned out as questionable. They have created unanticipated damage in various ways or been very far from cost-effective. In some cases the situation may improve when given more time, but that’s not at all certain and continuing such policies may turn out to be counterproductive in many ways.

        What I’m asking for is open and as quantitative as possible discussion of issues mentioned above. I don’t know, what the answers will be, the open analysis is needed to find out, what the present knowledge tells about them. One difficulty in that is getting rid of the biases in the knowledge base.

      • So you agree that CAGW is the real issue in the debate. You don’t know whether decarbonization is a good idea, but you know the way Europe is going about it is a bad idea. So far that sounds pretty much like the skeptical position. Though it sounds like you are much closer to being convinced than I am.

        But here’s the real rub, for your comments so far. Humans are by their nature biased. And because CAGW, if true, calls for massive political action, it is by its nature a political issue. The central political issue of our times is the conflict between progressiveism/socialism and conservatism/capitalism.

        Who precisely do you think is old enough, and intelligent enough, to be able to think cogently about climate science, but has no opinion on the great political divide?

        You certainly do, Joshua does, as do Dr. Curry, Mosher, McIntyre, Watts, Hansen, and Schmidt. None of these are isolated hermits without any conceptual political basis for their thought. Nor, since they are by and large responsible adults, should they be. Bias is part of who we are.

        So pining away for a bias free, pristine scientific environment of collegial thought, is divorced from reality. There has never been such a state, and never will be.

      • lol!

        I’ve gone from being an irrelevant idiot whose comments should be ignored to being mentioned in the same sentence as notable experts as Pekka, Judith, Hansen, mosher, McIntyre, and Schmitt. And political hacks like Watts.

      • I don’t fully agree on your description of my views.

        I support some policies that aim at decarbonization, but I disagree on several specific policies that have been implemented in Europe. I don’t think that the decision making mechanisms of EU and several European countries have been good. Too often policies are made to appear good to public rather than to be of real value. Often they have been implemented without sufficient analysis of the consequences. Some of them have urned out to be counterproductive, some others just far too expensive in comparison to the benefits.

        Even in the case of policies that I support I’m not happy with the level of understanding. I would like to know more about their value, but based on the existing knowledge I support rather extensive R&D. I would like to replace the Kyoto protocol by carbon tax, which I consider in many ways better than cap and trade.

        These are just some practical examples, but most important in my view is to develop better knowledge both through research and through improved policy analysis.

        Perfect solutions are not attainable, and nobody is fully objective. That leaves many opportunities for major improvements in procedures.

      • Pekka Pirilä

        Others have weighed in on your statement, but let me add my two cents’ worth.

        You start off by emphasizing that

        The starting point of the climate change issue was not an observation that the climate had been changing in a threatening way. The starting point was the observation that CO2 levels had been increasing and the theoretical reasoning that this may ultimately lead to serious consequences.

        This is a very pertinent and, at the same time, revealing observation.

        Physical observations of temperature rise were not the primary concern. Instead it was theoretical deliberations on what an increase in atmospheric CO2 could cause.

        Much of the problem I have with IPCC conclusions on the causes for past climate change and predictions for future warming is based on the fact that these are NOT based on empirical data derived from actual real-time physical observations, but rather from model simulations primarily supported by theoretical deliberations.

        Being rationally skeptical, I would prefer to see IPCC claims based more on empirical data based on actual physical observations and less on model-based theoretical deliberations.

        It may be ”perfectly correct to concentrate on the human influence through CO2 and study other issues like natural variability only as much as is needed for learning about the main issue”, but only provided the natural forcing factors have really been investigated ”as much as is needed”.
        This has obviously not been done. IPCC itself tells us that its ”level of scientific understanding” of natural forcing factors (i.e. solar) is ”low”. It summarily rejects the cosmic ray/cloud hypothesis of Svensmark et al. while conceding that its knowledge of this is ”very low”. It also tells us that the impact of clouds (also very much a natural phenomenon) is a large source of ”uncertainty”.

        So, if IPCC does not know with any certainty what the impact of the sun and clouds has been on our past climate, how will it be able to realistically estimate the impact of anthropogenic factors?

        It cannot.

        The rest of your points on “the framing of UNFCCC” and “how far we should trust the scientific community” are all valid, as is your conclusion that objective analysis is essentially impossible today.

        But, Pekka, one has to ask the question why this is so.

        I would suggest that the problem started with the IPCC charter itself: rather than being charged with making and presenting an objective analysis of what natural plus anthropogenic forcings have made our climate behave as it has over the past centuries, the brief was to identify human-induced climate change as well as any adverse effects or impacts that these might provoke.

        To put it quite bluntly, UNFCCC wanted “smoking gun evidence” for its agenda and IPCC was commissioned to provide this.

        No significant human-induced climate change or no adverse effects and impacts from such human-induced climate change = no need for IPCC to continue to exist.

        So finding this became the existential quest of IPCC and agenda driven climate science and the “consensus process” were born.

        The rest is history.

        Along with Brandon Shollenberger I strongly disagree with you on one point, though. You wrote:

        Nobody seems to be both willing and capable of discussing these difficulties openly and aiming at maximal objectivity.

        I believe that scientists like Judith Curry, who are not driven by the UNFCCC agenda but are true scientists in the real sense of the word, will eventually be successful in getting climate science back on an objective and scientific, rather than political, track.

        She and other like-minded colleagues will accomplish this by shining a spotlight on the IPCC claims, as she has done with her “uncertainty monster”.

        Truth loves light.

        Lies do not.

        And truth will prevail.


      • Pekka Pirila,

        “I support some policies that aim at decarbonization, but I disagree on several specific policies that have been implemented in Europe. ”

        I am afraid I find that rather evasive. The issue, as you concede, is CAGW (not certainty of CAGW, but sufficient certainty to justify decarbonization). Either you support decarbonization as a public policy that should be implemented, or you don’t. There are many policies urged by CAGW proponents that are just run of the mill progressive policies, that many would support regardless of global warming, so let’s simplify. But that does not address the central issue of the debate.

        “’Decarbonization’ is not a specific enough concept to form a policy action.”

        I think virtually every climate scientist and skeptic in the debate would disagree. Decarbonization IS the debate, no matter how those who want to find a middle position try to redefine or reframe the debate. Billions of dollars have being spent by progressive governments to implement decarbonization as a policy and billions more have been spent on research and advocacy. Trillions more are at risk if these policies are not rolled back.

        Luke warmers and others seeking a middle of the road to lie down in are ignoring the real world. Either the disastrous policies being implemented in the EU, and that the U.S. EPA is seeking to emulate, are necessary, or they have no business being enacted.

        If and when the debate regarding CAGW/decarbonization is decided electorally, we can get on the the genteel academic debate of climate science that you seem to want. Then we can argue about what adaptation might be more beneficial than harmful. But until then, don’t expect those whose economies are being threatened to give up their knowledge of the political agenda represented by the CAGW leviathan.

    • Joachim Seifert

      Hi Pekka: you say
      …… The starting point was the observation that CO2 levels had been increasing and the theoretical reasoning that this may ultimately lead to serious consequences. From this starting point the framing of UNFCCC is completely logical and justified. It’s perfectly correct to concentrate on the human influence through CO2 and study other issues like natural variability only AS MUCH AS NEEDED …….!!!!?????
      ……talking about climate, heat, energy and warming….one has to remain in the right sequence: 1.Energy (E)-changes in the Sun output….followed by 2. E-changes on Earth due to ORBITAL CHANGES and then, listen, the REMAINDER only (the rest of it) goes to changes in components of the atmosphere……
      Now, if you note that Nr. 3 changes (more CO2) and want to derive conclusions, you have to be absolutely clear on 1. and 2. and you can only
      allocate the remainder 3 to the atmosphere….
      What happens is that Nr. 2 is completely wrong by the IPCC: The focal work is of Goosse et al (2005) QSL,24, p. 1345-60: “Internal and forced climate variability…..etc”
      in which the Earth’s orbit (Point 2) is falsely demonstrated (by 2-body Keplerian geometry based on outdated A.Berger (1978) instead of 3-body-calculations -Sun,Earth, outer Planets as available from NASA JPL Horizons), – the Berger primitivism of eccentricity- with which the orbit, obviously, does not show changes in RF, only on dwarfed scale….
      And you say: LIMITED study of variebility ONLY as much as needed…..?
      I do three XXX…..

      • Yeah, Pekka really stepped in it with ‘only as much as needed’. Bingo, right there is the problem. They didn’t study natural variability ‘as much as needed’, but instead ignored it and trashed anyone suggesting a greater role for natural variability. See De Freitas and so many more.

      • UNFCCC is interested in policy implications. Policy decisions are based on information available at the time of decision, whatever the reliability of that information.

        I noted in another comment that the most significant issue is the possibility of very severe consequences – the possibility, not certainty. There is no need for certainty on any detail to conclude that there is a possibility. But I wrote also that some knowledge on the probability is needed before the possibility can be taken into account. This is a major problem, but it does not require that everything is known about natural variability.

      • Pekka, you are showing signs of recognition that the Precautionary Principle is a Paean to Ignorance.

        Is there any doubt that we need to know a lot more about ‘natural variability’ than we do now? Attribution is a stinker, and of utmost importance.

        I find you honest, and agonized. Keep up the good work.

      • Joachim Seifert

        Hi Pekka, I read your reply 20 times over without getting what you are driving at…..I like good plain words….. if it gets too convoluted, this is a sign that your arguments are exhausted…..also not a bit on the IPCC error, which I pointed out. I filed the error complaint to Geneva and they forebade me to “dissaminate” their answer, they would probably put me on their climate guillotine, I assume and thats why I pull my head in….
        …Continue with your policy implications instead of trying to get to the scientific bottom…..

      • Joachim –

        Just to be “certain.”

        When you say:

        you have to be absolutely clear on 1. and 2.,

        Do you mean that you have to be absolutely certain?

        Absolute certainty is a bar that is not likely to ever be achieved. In that case, according to how I understand your logic, you believe that no matter the evidence of magnitude regarding variable #3, no mitigation policies would ever by justifiable.

        IMO, given best estimates of probabilities, mitigation policies need to be debated contingent upon best estimates of probable outcomes from those mitigation policies. There is room for reasoned debate there.

        The problem, however, IMO, is that some folks engaged in the debate – mostly because of their motivated reasoning – either (A) set the bar at unachievable absolute levels of certainty, (B) overstate the certainties w/r/t the probabilities of #1 or #2 or, (C) overstate the certainties of the estimates (either way) of outcomes of mitigation policies.

        In short, the debate is a mess, and until people begin to deal explicitly with the underlying problems of motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, etc., it will remain a mess.

        Same as it ever was.

      • Joachim Seifert

        Joshua, yes you have to be completely certain on the causes and effects…… All based on hard core measurements, whereas guesswork (down to earth term for uncertainties, probabilities) must be laid aside.
        One can with all gusto speculate on whatsoever, including the climate, but there should be no policy consequences and “mark my word: No new taxes” on the people. Doing this, one has to admit: : One can be COMPLETELY wrong, if there is 95% certainty only…..This would be unfair….to the people……. and the wrong forecast modellers will not pay a single dime back…..
        History will show: Temps will not increase anymore because it is impossible…..AGW will not be wrong: We are ahead of our times: AGW is wrong and even evel, due to opulence and waste of funds, which could be used instead for the well-being of men……

  19. Clear the beach, clear the beach! Incoming Nikolov and Zeller, first sighted @ the Talkshop, then @ WattsUp.

  20. Vaughan, you left out thorium nuclear reactors which don’t have the same issues.

  21. This is really a science policy issue. More to the point, the research funding is almost entirely focused on the potential downside of AGW, to the great neglect of the potential upside. The lack of balance in research funding appears to be deliberate. The resulting lack of balance in the sheer quantity of research results gives the public the incorrect perception that AGW must be bad. This is what it means to say the science has become politicized. The funding is in the hands of advocates, so the focus of the science follows.

    • I don’t see a problem with the research being focused on the potential down side as along as it provides degrees of bad. Any is too much warming due to man, is irrational and that is the issue. More that 6C is really bad, 4C may be really bad, 2C may be bad in some ways, Right now we are looking at 2C which is workable. So it is time to change the focus from “OMG we are all going to die!” to “This is a reasonable step toward an acceptable solution until the next crisis.”

      • I cannot agree that “Any is too much warming due to man, is irrational and that is the issue.” Are you claiming the LIA was better than now? The human presence has changed the wold. That is neither bad nor irrational.

      • We are now at less than +1C and the warming has ceased. We are not going to get the +2C. Not on this warm cycle. We very well may not even get the +1C on this warm cycle. Once the Arctic opens and the snows start, we cool. This is happening now!

  22. Judith,

    Did you know there are 129,600 grid squares at 1 degree of latitudes/longitude of planet surface of what is suppose to be a climate model?
    Many do not have a single weather station in the grid square.
    So where does the smoothing numbers come from?
    To be of accuracy, every grid square would have to be modeled in a 24 hour period 365 days.
    Noticed no land height differences or velocity differences, just square kilometers.

  23. Dr. Curry, Thank you . These two articles and your comments sum up very well what many skeptics have been attempting to day for years. This should, in a reasonable world, put an end to the Trenberth view . It has on fact always been about a context and a spectrum. There is every reason to hope that finally the extremists pushing impossible destructive goals will lose their control of the public square. That would make for a happy new year indeed.

  24. So basically what we decided to do was to find CO2 guilty of a crime that has not yet been committed. Brilliant strategy. How much will it cost?

    How much have you got?

  25. and if I may who decided what the optimal global temperature should be? I know I was not consulted and on such important topics I feel quite strongly I should have my say. A few degrees warmer round here would be beneficial.

    • No one decided anything- is was just like this when we got here. Screwing around with it, when the results are hard to predict and the magnitude of any changes not precisely known, might not be the smartest move.

      And a whole bunch of people might find a few degrees warmer to be a real problem. Like all those people living in the tropics. But hey, as long as it’s good for you, screw everyone esle, right?

      • If by “screwing around with it” you mean human civilization, what was the smarter alternative? Wishing humanity away is not a policy option.

      • I just happen to believe that we’re smart enough to understand when we are causing impacts that may well turn around and bite us on the arse, and to respond appropriately.

        Of course, many people here are doing their best to prove my optimism deluded.

      • Michael, your informal phrasing makes it difficult to reply but basically you seem to be assuming there is a threat, when that is unproven and unlikely. If by “appropriately” you mean decarbonizing the economy of the world then it is also insane. But your statements are so vague it is impossible to know what you mean. Perhaps you would care to clarify your position?

      • It’s undeniable that we are altering the composition of the atmosphere, and that the additives are known to effect the global climate.

        That’s the threat.

        Ceasing and desisting might be an appropriate response.

        Continuing is a very interesting experiment.

        I don’t like to experiment on myself.

      • randomengineer

        Ceasing and desisting might be an appropriate response.

        Without the US bombing the entire non-western world into the stone age, how do you think this is supposed to happen? If you don’t have a realistic mechanism in mind your comment is just masturbation.

      • nuclear is an option (not the bombing :) )

      • MIchael,

        One columnist recently said of the Durban IPCC conference that it’s carbon footprint rivaled that of a small African country. And, of course, the Durban affair was sparsely attended when compared to Copenhagen. Similarly, there was a recent climate conference attended by such environmentally-conscious luminaries as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dr. Pachauri, Richard Branson, etc. Now, Michael, all these individuals are carbon-piggy consumers of the first rank. Palatial mansions, private jets and jet-set lifestyles, yachts, and other carbon extravagances are the minimum necessities of life for these obscene hypocrites (and just imagine the carbon load Dr. Pachauri’s proposed one-way trip to outer space for deniers would impose on dear, suffering Gaia!). Of course, any gathering that promotes the carbon peril scare in honor of Gaia also entrains an obligatory, high-carbon freak-show of youth-masters, ditzy kids, professional parasites, provocateurs, and a whole grab-bag of various other loser life-forms.

        And, you know, Michael, I take in these scare-mongering, pig-out party extravaganzas and I ask myself–why don’t these greenshirts simply video-conference their carbon-porky confabs and save on all that CO2? And I further ask myself, why is it that the punchline offered up at the end of all these high-carbon blow-outs, is invariably: Joe-Six-Pack needs to makes sacrifices to reduce his carbon signature and “we”, the “enlightened” ones whose generous, carbon-intensive feed-bags depend on various carbon-scare hustles and scams, need to pick Joe’s tax-payer pocket?

        Now, Michael, you may very well be the sort that is addressing your concerns about the carbon peril entirely through the entrepreneurial risk of your own private funds to create a faster, cheaper, smarter low-carbon future at no cost to the taxpayer and to your own considerable future profit. I’d like to think so. But if so, Michael, what’s with all your smart-mouth, self-righteous tone and manner on this thread? I don’t get it. And what’s with your greenshirt, hypocrite pals anyway?

      • randomengineer

        MIchael — nuclear is an option

        I’d like to think so, but… a lot of the 3rd world isn’t exactly dominated by what we like to think of as stable regimes. Assuming you’re thinking gen IV designs, do you have data showing how survivable these are in the face of coup attempts, natural disasters, intentional abuse to create weaponry, and so on?

        Nuclear *sounds* like a reasonable option. But.. is it, outside the west?

      • random engineer and Michael

        Nuclear is an option

        There is no question that current nuclear fission power generation technology can compete economically with coal, even without a carbon tax.

        But, as random engineer points out, it is NOT a viable option from a security/proliferation standpoint for those billion individuals who have no energy infrastructure today and live in nations with shaky or dictatorial regimes (most of these nations, unfortunately). These will have to build up this energy infrastructure with fossil fuels.

        It is also NOT a politically viable option in many of the developed nations, such as Germany, whose politicians and populations have been thoroughly brainwashed by environmental lobby groups and the media both before, but especially after, the Fukushima incident. The “decision makers” here are in a quandary: many want to reduce carbon but do not want nuclear (and there is no other economically viable alternate). A real dilemma.

        That leaves China, India, Russia, Brazil (and France, of course) plus (maybe) the USA.. The first three have large local coal reserves, but will probably build more nuclear plants in the future, despite the fact that the initial capital investment for these plants is higher than for coal-fired plants. According to Wiki, China has 77 new nuclear plants “planned or under construction”, while India and Russia each have 24. The first two nations will also be the main contributors to increased CO2 emissions over the 21st century, as their economies grow much faster than those of the already developed nations. Brazil has some coal plus lots of oil (plus sugar cane ethanol), but is relatively small as a nuclear power producer.

        Whether the USA will start building nuclear plants in a big way again is unclear to me (10 new plants are “planned or under construction”) – it appears that there is still a lot of post-Fukushima angst and all it takes in the USA to slow down the construction of a new nuclear plant by years if not decades is two housewives and a lawyer (and there is no shortage of either).

        So yes: “Nuclear is an option”.

        But there will also be the need for a lot of new fossil fuel based power generation capacity, not to mention the growing global fossil fuel-based automotive need, so human CO2 emissions will continue to rise, whether we like it or not.

        Not that I’m all that worried about it.


      • “No one decided anything- is was just like this when we got here.” What does that even mean? Someone somewhere somewhen decreed that there is an optimal global temperature. It was not the one that subsisted a million years ago, or ten thousand years ago but some arbitrary period plucked out of the 20th century – simply because it fits in with the ‘CO2 is evil narrative’. That is why brain-dead politicians can spout crap about holding the increase to 2 degrees!

        And you failed spectacularly to understand the reference to me wanting it warmer round here. The point is that global temperature is a blunt instrument. There are regions in the world that would like it warmer – one of the benefits that would flow from general warming. But then I was forgetting all warming is bad. There is only downside. No upside.

        And the tropics have a very efficient built in cooling mechanism. It’s called cloud and rain.

      • Again – no one decided anything. Human civilisation has sprung up in a relatively short time, and during that time the climate has been pretty like it is now. Screwing with that is very likely ill-advised, irrespective or some thinking they might like their local weather a bit warmer.

        And clearly you’ve never lived in the tropics.

      • that’s “pretty much” – lol

      • Changing the atmosphere is only a threat if it causes damage.
        It is not established that our input of GHG’s is causing damage.
        That is the point of this thread, and I hope you can realize that and discuss it, instead of falling back on Trenberth’s fallacy.

      • The models predict most of the warming will not be in the tropics and will be higher night time temps. more than higher day time highs.

        Canada and Siberia can use some warming. Hopefully we won’t get huge amounts of CH4 released as some predict which will cause even more warming as some predict. Something to keep an eye on for further study.

      • It was like this when we got here????? Like what, when. Like 2 million years ago? Like 100,000 years ago? Like 500 years ago?

        You keep talking as if there was some kind of definable, stable climate at some point in human history and we’ve managed to screw that up over the past 100 years. That’s a crock, point blank.

        As for those people in the tropics, climate science agrees they will see the least of the temperature effects.

      • Tamara –
        Well identified. Since my ancestors wandered into southern Britain, global tempratures have risen by 6 degrees and sea levels by 400 feet.
        So, it was like what when we got here?

  26. CO2 isn’t pollution and the impact on climate is undefined, scientifically. That should have done it decades ago but the real story is rather simple if not hard to believe;


    “money, power, central planning”

    Supported by the usual suspects who are not mentioned directly; the statist left-wing establishment. We should get a study of the “consensus” and their clear associations and support of the common establishment. Then again they know how to hide and avoid the question don’t they?

  27. “State of fearful climate science” That does say it all!
    There is nothing scary in actual temperature data. Data shows temperature to be well inside the same range it has been for the past ten thousand years. Earth gets warm, cool, warm, cool …. .. .. . . ..
    In the last ten thousand years Earth has been going from warm to cool to warm to cool in a really narrow range, compared to before the current warm period.
    We are warm now, the Arctic is open, the snows have started and now we will cool again.
    What is really scary is that the dire forecasts are only in the Climate Science and Model Output. This is not supported by actual data. Actual data shows that every time earth get warm, it then gets cool. The Models can’t do that because they don’t make it snow more when earth is warm and they don’t make it snow less when earth is cool.
    By the time that this warm period cools, Maurice Ewing and William Donn will have been vindicated and recognized as the greatest Climate Scientists in History. They figured all this out correctly back before anyone had access to the huge wealth of data that is available now.
    What comes next might be a little cooling or it might be a little ice age. That is not as likely because this warming was less than the medieval warm period. More warm causes more ice which causes more cool.
    When the Arctic is open ice is quick to cool. Climate has had quick periods of cool. CO2 lags. Orbit cycles and earth tilt are slow changes. These slow movers are not the drivers of quick changes. Earth adds ice for cool and removes ice to get warmer. Temperature does not drive ice. Earth uses ice to drive temperature. LOOK AT THE DATA! THE WHOLE STORY IS IN THE DATA! The current temperature cycle will follow the example of the cycles that we have had for the past ten thousand years.
    The same thing happens over and over and over and now, just because some scientists have computers something totally different is going to happen. That is not the way nature acts. The most likely thing to happen next is the same thing that happened next the last ten or twenty times earth got warm.

  28. Climate Watcher

    Benefit – the energy from the use of fossil fuel in the first place in a form for which we have existing infrastructure.
    Benefit – the CO2 from fossil fuel use increases plant growth and crop yield ( no carbohydrates without carbon dioxide )
    Benefit – the CO2 from fossil fuel use increases drought tolerance ( through stomata size )
    Benefit – the CO2 from fossil fuels reduce crop water use
    Benefit – a warming earth presumably increases area with a sufficient growing season for crops.
    Benefit – a warming earth presumably increases the growing season in areas already used for agriculture.
    Benefit – a warming earth presumably reduces the frequency of killing freezes
    Benefit – a warming earth in accordance with models incurs an increase in precipitation over land (replenishing aquifers and reservoirs for thirty humans )
    Benefit – presumably a warming earth reduces the energy used toward heating homes. More energy is spent on heating than cooling, so warming would reduce energy use.
    Benefit – the lipid exterior of respiratory viruses are susceptible to the higher temperatures of summer. Presumably a warmer earth would incur shorter periods of respiratory infection in humans.
    Benefit – reduction in human mortality??? Mortality from all causes of death strongly peaks in winter and troughs in summer. This pattern could be due to a number of causes (solar, cultural, etc.). But there is reason to believe that temperature plays a large part through enabling viruses and constricting the human circulatory system.
    And lastly, the ‘Cradle of Civilization’ is commonly thought of as the Mesopotamian Era’s development. This coincided with the Holocene Climatic Optimum. The signature advance of human civilization took place in a period of longer and warmer summers.

    • Climate Watcher

      Thanks for posting your list of “benefits”

      It would be interesting to see a true CAGW believer’s list of “negative effects” (hopefully without slipping into unfounded hyperbole about “millions of deaths” or other such nonsense).


      PS I don’t really expect any such list to be posted. Getting specific is not a strength of the “true believers” I have observed here. But, who knows? I might be surprised.

    • Climate Watcher
      This is good! I am surprised that you have not had more positive comments.

    • Climate Watcher, thanks for the list.

  29. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the globe is warming. What follows, as a normative matter?
    If old Sol’s going nova, not a heck of a lot, but there’re too many levels of euphemism in play: global warming(CAGW(AGW(GHG(CO2)))).

    To paraphrase,
    Suppose, for the sake of argument, that CO2 is warming the globe. What follows, as a normative matter?

    Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the 2nd Law is correct. What follows, as a normative matter?
    Response: Accept its ‘predictions’.

    Incidentally, for those who haven’t yet worked it out,

             T1    T2
       W—> |      | —> W  
       J1/T1 = J2/T2
       J1 = J2+W       
       Climate Sensitivity = dT1/dW

    (If WordPress doesn’t respect fixed format attributes, align the | )

    • Who is “it” in accept its predictions?

      • randomengineer

        2nd law

      • The 2nd law makes no prediction whatever regarding radiation physics, much less with feedbacks. Radiation physics did not even exist when the 2nd law was formulated. Get real folks.

      • The Planck response comes directly from the second law. Photons from a black-body are distributed according to Bose-Einstein statistics, which is maximum entropy for indistinguishable particles. In other words, they fill up the state space of energy levels.

        Instead of telling someone to get real, perhaps you want to understand some basic physics.

      • No Web, I think you need to understand some basic physics. There are no photons in the 2nd law. You need all kind of modern stuff to get where you are trying to go, so saying it follows from the 2nd law is just false. In fact it is a hoax, a deliberate lie.

      • randomengineer

        The 2nd law makes no prediction whatever regarding radiation physics, much less with feedbacks.

        My response was answering your query re who “it” was in the quondam post. No claims otherwise.

      • You are rusty in your physics old man. Statistical mechanics is the toolbox from which you can get the most insight from thermodynamics. It says a black-body won’t spontaneously emit photons of a single wavelength, which would violate the second law.

        People like us are going to figure out how to apply renewable energy from solar, and not Luddite blowhards like yourself.

      • Web, Since y’all are going to engineer our solar society, what is the longest wavelength that can be used to produce usable energy?
        Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of solar in quite a few applications, but it is not ready for prime time for most applications.

      • Captain, Your inanity amazes me. You are asking about the longest wavelength that can provide usable energy, yet you do not know that I pioneered one of the recent semiconductor material combinations able to detect IR wavelength radiation. And no, this conversion is useless for generating usable energy, but it cam be practical for sensitive detection (as in detecting heat radiation from the planet that your ilk refuses to believe in, ha ha). Your HVAC engineering credentials are irrelevant here, so shut up on things you clearly know nothing about.

    • It is so simple, how could I have missed that?

      Where is T1 and where is T2 again? If T1 is moving at velocity a and T2 is moving at velocity 100a, is T2 interacting with T1 or something else?

      What if there is some T sub z that is fixed at some value, say T1 minus 100C and there is a surface temperature at roughly that same temperature that does not respond to Climate Sensitivity =dT1/dW? that should be ignored right, for the sake of simplicity, all things being equal of course?

    • WebHubTelescope: The Planck response comes directly from the second law. Photons from a black-body are distributed according to Bose-Einstein statistics, which is maximum entropy for indistinguishable particles. In other words, they fill up the state space of energy levels.

      The second law is simply an inequality about the sum of heat flow and temperature-weighted entropy change. It makes no useful predictions. In particular relevance to this thread, it does not predict:

      !. which solar energy technolgies can be cheaply mass produced.

      2. whether rainfall will increase or decrease in the Congo as CO2 continues to accumulate;

      3. whether CO2 increase will produce a net increase or decrease in the temperature of the lower troposphere

      4. how to dispose of nuclear waste.

      You have made the classical rhetorical error of trying to establish that you are amazingly better educated than your interlocutor instead of trying to support an actionable proposition.

      • MattStat, I was responding to Quandom in support of the fundamental GHG model, so I suggest you stick it.

      • WebHubTelescope: MattStat, I was responding to Quandom in support of the fundamental GHG model, so I suggest you stick it.

        So you were. It was a stupid response by someone smart.

  30. Reply for Michael from above 9.59 am

    I lived in Singapore for a number of years. Does that count?

    And i have just come across this little gem http://img40.imageshack.us/img40/4605/greenhousebylatitudec.png which seems to show that there is no greenhouse effect in the tropics. How strange!

    • Just curious – when living in Singapore, did you live in government housing, as do some 90% of Singaporeans?

      • Joshua

        Whether or not the “housing” was “government owned”, you can bet that it was air conditioned!


      • No. I was one of the perhaps luckier 10%. But in my view Singapore is a fantastic place. Well worth a visit. Most people who work there dont last more than 18 months or so. Then you need a change of scenery.

      • I’ve enjoyed traveling there.

        Before I went, people told me that the culture there isn’t particularly interesting. That’s not what I found – because I consider food to be a big part of culture and the food there was as good (and cheap) as any place I’ve traveled.

        Another question for you (kind of a rhetorical question for the other Gary’s benefit). Having lived there, would you consider “centralized planning” to be a fairly important part of Singapore’s economic success?

      • If you want to understand Singapore a bit better
        I would suggest you read my friends book
        Chaotic Thoughts From The Old Millennium.

        He is a wonderful man. From spending over 10 years working with him I would think his argument would be that Singapore suceeds in spite of its system. I don’t know, when the government wants advice on how to improve systems they talk to him. he talks about freedom, creativity and western ideals. Still, in his company, he did like to offer employees what many western companies would not– like free day care.

        Interesting place, wonderful people, but hardly a place where you can derive transferable lessons.

      • http://www.heritage.org/index/country/singapore


        Compare to:


        There isn’t a country in the entire world that doesn’t have progressives interfering in some part of the economy. It is a question of degree. The simple fact is that on average, the freer the market, the higher the standard of living, across the board. The more central planning, the worse the economy is for everyone, except the governing “elite” and their friends and families.

      • Having spent quite some time in Singapore and having lived 3 years in Hong Kong, I can agree that centralized city planning works.

        Try to roll that out to a large nation like the USA (or the old USSR) and it does not.

        Since it does seem to work to some extent in China, I can imagine that some of the reason for its success lies in the culture and history of the Chinese people, rather than simply in the size. Unlike Americans, Chinese have no history of living in a free, democratic society.

        Switzerland (where I live) is quite small – but a centralized planning system would never work here, where personal freedom is very important and the voters have the right of referendum on local, cantonal as well as national issues.

        So it’s not only size, but also the culture of the people that counts.


      • What Max says is kind of interesting, because it took somebody like Giuliani to make New York work again after almost going bankrupt in the ’70s, and now Bloomberg, who once ran a successful business, is running it into the ground again by focusing on his fetishes rather than focusing on the government’s core mission. IOW, it’s not whether or not to have a dictator of a city, but what the dictator focuses on. A city the size of New York can’t function effectively as a democracy, because there are too many interested insiders. They elect a temporary dictator. Always did, always will.

      • Rudolph Giuliani making sure the laws were enforced in New York is an example that what Marx said is interesting?

        Marx may have been “interesting” to the extent that someone who is completely wrong about the entire core of his world view is “interesting.” I found Mein Kampf interesting too, as a view into the mind of a racist lunatic whose world view was similarly dangerously and completely wrong. So in that sense, I guess I would agree that Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto were interesting.

        As for comparing city mayors to dictators, that simply waters down the meaning of the word. Let’s leave the emotional hyperbole to the progressives.

      • Not Marx. Max. ^^^

      • Oops.

    • You must have forgotten how it works in the tropics – it doesn’t rain all the time. In fact, in some places with a wet/dry pattern, there are months without even a hint of your “cooling mechanism…called cloud and rain”.

      ‘Warmer would be nice’ is a pleasant little dream , one that the billions living in tropics, mostly without airconditioning, would like to give a swift kick in the arse to those wishing for it.

      • Michael, “In fact, in some places with a wet/dry pattern, there are months without even a hint of your “cooling mechanism…called cloud and rain”.

        Now I am confused. Clouds and rain are cooling mechanisms, warmer increases moisture in the air, but moisture in the air increases warming. Shouldn’t the cooling effect come into play somewhere? Isn’t 2/3rds of the warming supposed to be due to the lack of cooling effect? That’s radiant physics right, all things remaining equal?

      • I’d answer your question…..but I don’t understand it.

        Could you re-phrase?

      • Michael, if you care about climate; would have insisted on building extra dams. Dams for saving extra storm-water produce hydro- electricity. prevent flooding and droughts. DAMS IMPROVE the CLIMATE. Unfortunately, all the fanatic Warmist are against building dams = hippocricy!!! If you are so ignorant, ask the trees :”where is better climate; in Brazil or Sahara?” WHY? Why is better climate in Brazil? Is it less CO2? NO! Is it less sunspots? NO, IT’S MORE H2O ON THE LAND!!! Manipulators declared water vapour as bad for the climate… and is not insult to human intelligencer’s to most of the addicted to bull-dung Skeptics…

      • Thankyou stefan, that was….um….interesting.

      • Google “crackpot index”. Someone willing to literally eat their book if they are wrong is an entry to the list I hadn’t seen yet.

  31. Judith Curry

    Thanks for an interesting post.

    You have long advised policymakers and others that there will be “winners and losers” from AGW, assuming that global warming does, indeed, resume at the levels seen in the 1980s and 1990s and that it could cause up to 2° to 3°C warming above today’s values over the next century (in itself a doubtful assumption).

    As a first step, the bases for this assumption should be examined critically, even skeptically, and this has not yet been done by mainstream climate science.

    Your “uncertainty monster” addresses this issue, but the mainstream “consensus” scientists have brushed it aside without really addressing the specific concerns it raises.

    Then, to confound the problem, as you have written, the IPCC has responded to pressure from UNFCCC and has concentrated myopically on the harmful impacts resulting from the postulated warming without considering any beneficial impacts. A few of these have been exposed as fabrications (Himalaya glacier retreat, African crop loss), but most of the claims (extreme weather events, vector borne diseases, etc.) are still “out there”, even though they are poorly substantiated (if at all). In other words, the “policymakers” (and public) are still being bamboozled.

    So we have a double-whammy: one-sided analysis of the negative impacts resulting from uncertain climate data, which itself has also been skewed to get the maximum negative effect.

    This then gets carried one step even further with so-called economic studies (Stern report or Nordhaus study) – which extrapolate this highly uncertain data into estimates of the disruptive economic impact caused by AGW.

    We even have sociologists and psychologists getting into the act, clucking about the potential ocio-psychological impacts – all based on the same shaky starting data.

    Fortunately, there is the awareness that this problem exists.

    Fortunately, there are climate scientists, like you, who are more interested in getting at the scientific truth than in simply providing UNFCCC proof for its claim of “potentially disastrous AGW”.

    And fortunately there is an NIPCC report, which has started to dig into and reveal a lot of these problems.

    But IMO it will take more than that to clean up this mess.

    [Another 10 years of cooling might just do the trick.]


    • [Another 10 years of cooling might just do the trick.]

      Don’t bank on it. We’re already down to the Hale-Bopp dead-enders, several of whom are commenting here.

  32. Basically, Keith 1) ignores empirical data (which could be especially concerning to a citizen scientist) 2) makes obviously false rhetorical assertions and 3) wrongly assumes that progressives are committed to a variety of programs and policies that they are not.

    The inter-disciplinary science literature and public discussion (and especially progressive discussion) of climate change is actually full of considerations of the possible positive and negative effects of climate change, especially in relation to global agriculture and health impacts. Claiming this is not the case is self-evidently false and I have to assume that Judith Curry and Keith know, since it is right in front of their faces. Iindividual research projects and countries have produced an enormous amount of analysis of their natural resources and economies and the IPCC continues to summarize this.

    Very disappointing. A more glaringly stupid post full of inaccurate assertions does not come immediately to mind. Are we sure that Keith, at least, wasn’t intending this to be one of his openly ideological opinion pieces?

    Judith may want to learn the difference between a philosophical argument and a personal rant. Both approaches to discussion can be informative, of course; but this sort of well-rehearsed libertarian rant that is completely scientifically uninformed to be weak, and less than encouraging – especially for conservatives.

    Keith is well aware that resources for social change are finite but not “scarce”, and the real question is how we invest those resources.

    • Martha argues that “social development’ and its outcomes are predictable ie a false premis. Nalimov (Kolmogorov assistant director) argued that people are irriational and hence social outcomes are not predictable eg

      Thus we see that human social behavior, despite our ability to think rationally,is still rather irrational: ideas regulating social behavior are spreading like an epidemic. The concept of social goals cannot be rationally grounded. Forecasts on a large time scale, if possible at all, can only be negative; progress seems to be nothing else than a walk on a multiextremal surface-on the rough ground crossed by ravines.

      Probably this irrationalism breaking through the rationalism of our thinking is just what makes life interesting and meaningful. Otherwise it would have been possible to foresee and program everything, and we would only have to fulfill it pedantically and patiently.

      The uncertain character of social behavior creates a game situation. Scientific criticism, common sense, experience accumulated through the ages, logical analysis of situations, and ethical concepts which seem to be built in genetically may all be merely elements of a cosmic game! But who is our partner in the game?

      Is a game with only one player possible? A model of such a game is solitaire. Shuffling the cards, the player himself generates the situation of randomness against which he is playing. The rules of the game are such that extra cards are discarded, but if the game is not won, the discarded cards are returned to the pack, and it is shuffled again. Does not the same thing happen in the history of mankind? At moments of crisis, old, completely forgotten ideas come to the surface, and so the pack of cards is shuffled again.

      The ecological crisis is primarily an ideological crisis. It is the crisis of Western culture and its concepts of goal and value. Contemporary culture needs respiritualization. Nobody knows from whence new ideas
      will appear. We come to understand the new interest in the halfforgotten ideas of past epochs.

      The role of strict scientific thinking in solving the problems of global ecology is that of providing an acute critical analysis of these problems and of the spontaneously arising methods for their solution. Critical
      analysis, if sober and bold, may stimulate human creativity before the crisis becomes irreversibly sinister.

      Social development, even when influenced by science, may be regarded only as an adaptational walk on a surface crossed by local ravines since no long-term goal does or can exist. The change in the cultural tendencies is, after all, no more than changing the initial point on a multiextremal surface whence the movement begins, as well as changing the direction of the gradient, since the goal function is changed.

  33. “This framed the climate problem too narrowly: natural internal climate variability (multi-decadal and longer) and benefits of a warmer climate were not considered in a serious way. Science for policy IPCC-style has resulted in epistemic slippage (Mike Hulme’s phrase); I wouldn’t call this fraud.”

    It would be considered fraud in any serious profession- medical, engineering, banking, business, etc.
    Though not for for IPCC.
    In comparison it’s completely rotten- until a bill is made into law, what normally would be understood as insider trading does not apply to members of Congress.
    The UN has long tradition high tolerance of all manner of questionable things and should be regarded as lax in applying anything which could regarded as standards.
    And so as a rule, buyer beware should be applied.

  34. The eco-Siths have arrived;


    But AGW isn’t mostly about socialist dreams is it?

    “What are the appropriate evaluative premises for assessing the good versus bad consequences of AGW? Economic? Social justice?”

    When will the obvious political motivations of the AGW, specifically to the particular common estabishmment (UN, Global State authority advocates, Socialists) enter the conversation or even be acknowledged directly by the moderator? (Why are the specifics glossed over by the moderator?) Let’s name what “ideology” and “advocates” are really supporting instead of pretending they are really passionate about “science” which is a myth. Why should the conversation be limited to the phantom and speculative “science” hypothesis when many know it’s false narrative for a very identifiable political agenda easily matched to the NY Times or MSNBC or NPR editorial news and opinion on almost any topic? I can only conclude that the moderators obfuscation and indirect acknowledgements retard honest discussion of what is essential.

  35. If I may be permitted as a general comment. For the last several weeks, our hostess has chosen subjects which all assume that there is some solid scientific basis for CAGW; that CAGW is something more than a hypothesis, with absolutely no observed data whatsoever to support it. This makes it very difficult for those of us what claim that CAGW is merely a hypothesis, to get involved in talking about the substance of the subjects under discussion. Climate Etc. was much more interesting when we discussed whether there was any scienitifc basis for CAGW.

    • Jim, it’s as old as the hills. The only thing more idiotic is to discuss the average temp sets and then without any science at all relate it to CO2 impacts and mitigation. “It’s warmer, then we must cut co2”. We just went through a whole round of this illogic in the media over the BEST data discussion especially in the media.

      Climate science is really the shady used car sales lot of the science community, only fellow members of the eco-left agenda (media, government tools, academia, Hollywood, the undereducated mob dependent on redistribution politics and tow the line from the authority elite) choose to look the other way and in fact largely know better. It isn’t really about science at the core. It’s a mistake to address it as such as it creates the endless loop of unknowns and details to keep the canard alive.

      A good number of people largely on a generational basis think a hypothesis needs to be disproven or it should be accepted as true. The scientific method reinvented in Orwellian terms, affirmation evidence not required for state run goals in the new order. Your comment is correct but your reaction is tepid, a common complaint I’ve had throughout the blog with many. When your intelligence is being insulted, which it is, a little more
      color might be called for.

      • WebHub, people put helium in a balloon; but if you put methane in balloon; you need more than adult supervision. Methane is heavier than air; can be poured in a dark hole, away from the sunlight

        I didn’t hunt the boys for Nuremberg court, or the Sicilian boys. Because Judith’s blog is popular; when the truth is known – they will start with those blogs first. Google keeps the records. If you are calling yourself a scientist and cannot judge that Wikipedia are manipulative / bias almost as Robert and Joshua, I hope they printed your diploma on a soft paper

      • StefanDeny, It’s not about you anymore. It’s really about your skeptic colleagues that are too fearful about knocking what you have to say. Or perhaps they think you are a useful idiot, spreading vicious FUD so they can keep their hands clean.
        It is also possible that many don’t even comprehend that you spout scientific nonsense.

    • Jim Cripwell

      Our host here has NOT embraced the suggestion “that there is some solid scientific basis for CAGW” as you suggest.

      For AGW, yes.

      For CAGW, no.

      She has raised the “uncertainty monster” to challenge the IPCC claim that

      “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”, where ”very likely” is defined as a certainty of “greater than 90%”.

      [According to HadCRUT3, this warming (1950 to 2005) was 0.6°C.]

      This statement is the essential basis for the “C” in CAGW.

      Without it, we only have AGW, which our host does not challenge.

      In fact, our host has stated specifically that it is:

      more than 90% certain that more than 10% of this warming, or more than 0.06°C was caused by the increase in human greenhouse gases

      or alternately

      more than 66% certain that more than 30% of this warming, or more than 0.18°C was caused by the increase in human greenhouse gases

      This is a far cry from more than 90% certain that “most” = at least more than 50% of this warming, or more that 0.3°C was caused by the increase in human greenhouse gases.

      As you can see, Jim, our host’s estimate takes the “C” out of CAGW.


      • “This statement is the essential basis for the “C” in CAGW.”

        No it isn’t.

        The statement “We have no idea how fast temperature is changing or how much of it is due to CO2” is compatible with catastrophe.

        To get rid of catastrophe you’d need a statement like “It is very unlikely that a doubling of CO2 causes more than 1C warming AND it is very unlikely that a doubling of CO2 causes any significant impact on ocean pH AND it is very unlikely that a doubling of CO2 would significantly impact plant fertilization”

        Only if CO2 can be shown to be very unlikely to impact the natural world significantly does the word catastrophe fade away into irrelevance.

      • CO2 is a trace gas and I am sure that it does have a trace impact.

      • lolwot,

        Hey, I thought the consensus was that there is no such thing as “CAGW” because no one ever said anything about the “C.” You better hope Gavin doesn’t read your comment, you’ll be drummed out of the corps.

      • Max,

        Where is any of the quantitative physics to back any of these co2 impact guesses? All we have are garbage in, garbage out models which equal what exactly?

        AR4 is an op-ed piece.

        There are hundred reasons climate can rise or fall and our measurements are flawed. Citing CO2 as a main cause is pathetic and unscientific. It is only the potential to attack popular (to the mob) political villians in the carbon sector that gave it focus. Tax, control, regulate (kickbacks, power).

        The numbers come out of a hat, we should stop humoring the phony consensus at every level. The smallest bit of mythology will be reinvented at a later point. The AGW movement should be a symbol for fraud as a general consensus.

      • Manacer, ”most of the observed GLOBAL warming” WRONG? That is SUGGESTED GLOBAL WARMING, not observed. Your loaded comments are not helping the truth… fortunately truth for you is a taboo. Extra heat in the atmosphere is NOT ACCUMULATIVE!!! The extra heat accumulated for the last 150y, wouldn’t be enough to boil one chicken egg. That’s what the laws of physics and my formula says; Ignoring the proofs; sticking fanatically to outdated fairy-tales will not change the truth. Exploiting the Skeptic’s confusion and ignorance will not change the truth, also

      • John Carpenter

        Stefan, I went to your blog and looked around to find information about you and was disappointed to not find anything related to your educational background or what you do for a living. Is that information available at the site and if not do you care to divulge it? I hope you don’t take this request offensively, but I find this type of information available at most blogs I visit. Thanks in advance.

      • Sincerely, you do not have to know StefanTheDenier’s background, just process what he says. For example, consider his assertion that methane gas is heavier than oxygen at the same temperature and pressure. That is not a person capable of scientific reasoning.

        Skeptics, he’s one of yours, you guys deal with him. It’s really a clown car you have there.

      • To cwon14 and Max. I am trying to tread very gingerly with respect to our hostess. I have enormous admiration for her, and I will go a long way to never be seen to be annoying her in any way, shape or form. That said, let me clarify a couple of things.

        cwon14, you write “When your intelligence is being insulted, which it is, a little more color might be called for.” On other forums I have been much more colorful. On Climate Etc. I would hope that, eventually, our hostess will, some time in the future, completely repudiate CAGW. But it will be a tortuous route to get there. Please dont judge me by this one effort of mine.

        Max, you write ” Our host here has NOT embraced the suggestion “that there is some solid scientific basis for CAGW” as you suggest.”

        Please re-read what I wrote. I never said anything about this sort of interpretation. I said that our hostess had chosen SUBJECTS for discussion which assume that there is some solid scientific basis for CAGW, which is a very different thing. I have tried to engage Judith with a discussion about what she does, and does not, believe about CAGW, and she has always, very carefully, never given any direct answer. I can only judge what her ideas are by what she actually writes on this blog.

      • lolwot

        I wrote that the IPCC statement below was the basis for the “C” in CAGW:

        “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”

        where ”very likely” is defined as a certainty of “greater than 90%”.

        You replied that this was not the case.

        Let’s do a quick sanity check on your statement.

        The CO2 increase from 1950 to 2005 was from 312 to 380 ppmv, while the linear temperature increase over the same period (HadCRUT3) was 0.6°C.

        Judith Curry has estimated that it is:

        more than 90% certain that more than 10% of this warming, or more than 0.06°C was caused by the increase in human greenhouse gases

        or alternately

        more than 66% certain that more than 30% of this warming, or more than 0.18°C was caused by the increase in human greenhouse gases

        While IPCC has claimed that it is “very likely” (i.e. more than 90% certain that “most” (i.e. between 51% and 100%) of this warming or between 0.3°C and 0.6°C was caused by the increase in human greenhouse gases.

        Using the logarithmic relation and ignoring the minor GHGs for now, we have IPCC telling us that the 2xCO2 temperature response is 90% certain to be between 1.1°C and 2.1°C (and that this could lead to alarming – if not ”catastrophic” – warming over the next century).

        Judith’s estimate would be that it is more than 90% certain that the 2xCO2 temperature response is 0.2°C or higher and more than 66% certain that it is 0.6°C or higher. This is certainly not “catastrophic” (not even ”alarming”).

        Got it now?


      • Max, a clarification: my estimates do not necessarily imply a low sensitivity, but rather reflect my assessment of the levels of uncertainty and ignorance surrounding this topic. It mainly means that we do not yet know how to credibly separate forced and unforced variability in our attribution studies, and that there are substantial uncertainties in most of the forcings.

      • John Carpenter

        “Skeptics, he’s one of yours, you guys deal with him. It’s really a clown car you have there.”

        lol… ok, he can team up with Joe… maybe they could both have a quiet, rational discussion with Robert. :) Just not here.

      • John Carpenter is a wikipedia fan!

      • Jim,

        I do find the entire “gingerly” aspect of talking to and around IPCC consensus players a bit of a joke. As if AGW wasn’t a political invention which it is.

        People can choose to hedge on deep abstract questions, many of the things that Dr. Curry chooses to hedge or give nonreplys are basic and obvious. She chooses not to in order to maintain her feet in the camp of those who are central to militant AGW advocacy. How entrenching an orthodox does that reflect? Many here call this “courage”? It’s the “human face of socialism” expectation, it isn’t going to work that way. “Precautionary Principles”, “local vs central policy”, “uncertainty” are just weasel terms for icing something that should be discarded. AGW mitigation should be refuted for the social and science rot that it is. Refute and capitulate, defund and record the sad legacy of eco-socialism/anti-growth/statist movements such as AGW.

      • WebHub, you are getting too abusive; that’s a symptom that you are starting to panic; must have started realising that people don’t buy your crap. If your bos can afford to pay you to abuse people; they should be able to afford you a shrink.

        Because I don’t have any respect for you, I’m not going to search for written proofs that methane is heavier than O+N; but if is any geologist commenter here, or a neighbour that uses gas for cooking, will tell you. Because you depend on Wikipedia for your informations – you need lots of help and tutoring; as I said: my tiers will not help you much – you need a shrink, if you rely on Wikipedia for guidance….

        Just to point a bit for benefit to others: in the resent New Zealand . coal-mine disaster; if air was heavier than methane – would have pushed the methane out constantly – and would have exploded outside. Instead, the old saying: ”cannery in the coal-mine” was before invention of pump, to pump the stagnant air + heavier methane out. Air doesn’t push it out, because methane is heavier than air. Stop relying on politicly extreme Wikipedia for ”dial a lie” because you are only lying to yourself. Happy new year!

      • StefDenierBoy, what are you going to do, hunt me down and put me in jail? Your problem is gross scientific ignorance, in that you don’t realize that low molecular weight gases diffuse completely in our atmosphere. Standard school experiment is to fill a balloon with methane and watch it float. That’s called buoyancy, and occurs if the gas is not diffused.

        For all I know you may be just an agent provocateur or punker trying to make the skeptics look stupid.

        Unfortunately, it’s not my job to keep track of the clowns in the car. The skeptics have to do their own housekeeping.

      • WebHub, you use same tactics as Robert, abuse and on a sleazy way divert the subject. Methane disperses /buoyancy; I call it just adhesion, has nothing to do with the subject. Mercury disperses, but is still heavier than O+N. It’s same as fat disperses on the surface of the water; which proves my point that: the good Lord made methane in the air / same as fat on the surface of the sea to disperse – SO THAT UV CAN BURN IT!!! Methane in the air with combination of UV +O, is destroyed in a jiffy. Not as your Swindlers camp promotes that methane survives in the air for 10 years. Methane is heavier than O+N sinks in the ground, because is beneficial. Fat stays on the surface of the water and disperses to be burned by UV or burned by the alkaline water. (I came from the east of the Iron Curtain, all what I know about religion is from epics. But, creationist can have so many proofs as those; why water density is greatest at 4C degrees – why methane sinks in the ground, or disperses in the air – why fat disperses but doesn’t sink in the water – ANY OTHER WAY WOULD HAVE BEING DISASTER = most of those things show intelligent design. WebHub, originally I didn’t mention dispersion – presumed that is known fact – same as when you talk about thermometer – you don’t emphasise every time that mercury disperses

        In New Zealand the farmers are already paying methane tax. Because of Swindlers like you – when exposed – you shift the subject. Methane molecule disperse; but per unit is heavier than air and sinks in the ground. Farmers are robed for producing methane… for doing good. No, no need to capture that methane; producing as much as possible new methane is ESSENTIAL! Your camp is deionising production of it=crime, that makes you a member of a criminal organisation WebHub

        Tremendous amount of gas is burned; on oil rigs flames, in industry and transport. Somebody was just talking about freaking – to get as much as quickly possible out of the ground. Do you people understand that: every molecule of gas / methane burned; DESTROYS 4 ATOMS OF OXYGEN – turning it into water. Oxygen was in the air for million years – gas in the ground. DEPLETING OXYGEN = less insulator for the planet. 2] oxygen together with nitrogen are regulating the temperature to be same all the time in the troposphere – less oxygen… =???!!! Swindlers as you WebHub are gone too far from the reality, cannot see the real treats!!! The moon has extreme temperature because is no O+N as insulators from the extreme coldness, not because is no CO2. Saying; somebody is stupid for telling the truth – will not change the truth. If your brains wasn’t in the clouds – you would have recognised that: the amount of oxygen in the air dictates the temperature. Please apologise

      • I am flattered that you think I am part of some criminal organization.

        You can probably power something with the steam coming out of your ears.

  36. It would be instructive for people to read the AR4 WG2 SPM (Summary for Policymakers). It gives the mixed nature of the impacts very well including regional variations and some actual improvements in crop yields in particular areas. This is not just a list of dangers if you read it objectively. So I disagree with the premise here and encourage more to look at it and see which aspects of this SPM that they actually disagree with, but don’t bash the IPCC before reading it.

    • Sorry, Jim D, if you are looking for a balanced and objective discussion of “winners and losers” from AGW, don’t look in AR4 WG2 (or WG1) SPM.

      These reports are intended to bamboozle the policymakers into believing that there is a real and present danger from AGW – nothing more.


      • So you don’t want to believe them when they talk about increased freshwater supply and crop production in some areas? Are you being selective based on preconceptions or have you not read that part?

      • Jim D

        Don’t be silly. I’ve read that part and all the other parts too.

        Putting in one or two small regional pluses does not change the fact that the net projected impact is strongly negative in both the WG1 and WG2 SPM reports.


      • Maybe that’s the reality.

        If not, please point us to the research confirming it’s not.

      • Warmer is better than colder and warmer than at present will increase the carrying capacity of the earth for all life, including your grandchildren.

        Source: personal communication with kim.

      • I archived the data and code at Climate Audit, but it got zambonied.

      • Kim,

        Not if you’re in the tropics.

        Our ‘skeptics’ seem to have a huge blind spot – they assume that everyone is living in a temperate climate where a bit warmer seems like a nice idea.

      • Nope, warmer would improve carrying capacity in the tropics, too.

      • Unfortunately for Kim’s fact free assertions, plant physiology doesn’t read blogs.

        There are temp thresholds at which plants become less efficient. These vary, but some crops are known to produce reduced yeilds in higher temps.

        The idea that a change will produce only one type of consequence eg, warmer is always better, is simply wrong.

        Kim should have at least gleaned that one basic fact, which is the premise of Judiths post.

      • Plant populations can move with their niches, too. Like Ents, dontcha know?

      • Oops, forgot about that.

        In light of this, all your arguments are perfectly valid.


      • Accepted in the spirit it is offered.

    • randomengineer

      This is not just a list of dangers if you read it objectively.

      Maybe you read it that way, Jim, but I tend to doubt Dr Curry would be wasting electrons on this if yours were the common perception. Perhaps addressing the perception issue she’s writing about would be more productive here.

      • Well, at least you can acknowledge that this is a perception rather than an objective understanding.

        Kudos for that.

      • Perception equals reality

      • How uber-post-modern of you.

        Thankfully, reality says otherwise.

      • CO2 is rising and the globe is cooling. That’s reality.

      • Yeah, same here Kim – after the sun went down.

        Global cooling!!

      • You’re at about the same level of snark as alarmists 5 years ago. Up your game, fella.

      • Poor Kim, bested by BEST.

      • randomengineer

        I’m saying Jim doesn’t perceive as everyone else does. That 1% of the results of climate change isn’t portrayed as utter catastrophe in IPCC docs means to Jim that the presentation is balanced. Others don’t agree. Obviously ones miles will vary.

      • Heh, Michael, you have about as much accurate knowledge of BEST as people did 5 years ago.

    • Hi Holly

      Approximately what year/decade do you believe the Earth started to warm and from which all the disasters you enumerate can be traced back to?

      • Why don’t you provide evidence of good results of global warming? See if access to oil in the Arctic is good even though millions of people die from floods, storms, drought etc.

        Sometimes people benefit from wars; does that make war something to be desired? Some people benefited from the Holocaust; does that make it ok?

      • The Arctic acess is a great illustration of the insanity of the climate change rationalizers. Several years ago I interacted with an oil hand cornucopian who claimed that AGW would be great in opening up the Arctic for oil exploration. The guys handle was ReservGrowthRulz, and I used his views several times in my writing to illustrate the mindset of rationalized beliefs.

      • Holly Stick: Why don’t you provide evidence of good results of global warming?

        As temperatures have warmed crop yields have increased and the incidence of malaria has decreased.

        That will have to do for now.

      • Correlation and causality aren’t the same thing.

      • lol

      • P.E. lol

        I thought it was funny also.

        But seriously (as they say), you can’t tell how much of any human improvement (or diminishment) since the end of the LIA was due to temperature increase and how much due to other human interventions. My examples were in the league with claims that Hurricane Katrina and the Russian heat wave last year were caused by AGW.

        The historical evidence is that crops are more abundant during warm epochs, and civil disorder is more abundant during cool epochs — but the natural variability of both is large.

    • Stop being so negative Holly.

      Dead trees = more beetle food. That’s good for beetles. AGW is good.

      • Warmer with higher CO2 is better for all life, all trees, even all beetles.

      • Simplistic and wrong.

        There are balances that exist between species such that one species advantage is another’s loss. That kind of thing can lead to extinctions.

        Warmer and higher CO2 changes the entire game. New balances have to be struck and in the process there will be a lot of losers.

        We come out of the process with less biodiversity.

        New species take time to arise. We aren’t talking about a doubling of CO2 in 10,000 years we are talking about it happening in 200.

      • Nope, with more biodiversity, not less. And populations move with niches, you know.

      • Oh, I agree, simplistic; but not wrong.

      • As Micheal put it,
        “simply wrong”

      • Heh, not Micheal and not wrong. But you are.

      • Those plants that don’t like it warmer should just get over it.

      • They’ll get up on their hind feet and move, just as their ancestors did when the climate changed, as it always has.

      • When was that though kim? When was the last time CO2 doubled in 200 years?

        You are referring to a fallacy that this change is typical of past changes. It isn’t. Not by a long shot.

      • OK, now I see Kim’s problem.

        See doesn’t understand the time-scale difference between the rate that we are effecting change and previous change over geological time scales.

        And neither the difference between the effect on the bio-spehere in the long term (it will do just fine) and the effect on us and the next generation (likely not so good).

      • Please Michael, your ignorance is embarrasing. Climate has sometimes changed in the fairly recent past a lot faster than it is doing now.

      • Fascinating Kim.

        Details please.

      • Check out the Younger Dryas. And a whole lot of other stuff if you want to keep up. Hint. Read the whole Climate Audit blog from its beginning.

        H/t moshe.

      • saying that is GLOBAL warming is not same as if is one. It’s same as saying: the moon will fall on the Barrier Reef. Then the Warmist calculate about the damages will do to the reef with all their taxpayer’s paid shonky researches. Then The Skeptics saying: well, most probably will not splash flat, but the pointy bit will stick into the reef… maybe will be only half moon… maybe will be off tourist season – the reef will recuperate. INSTEAD OF SAYING: THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING!!! THE moon will not fall on the reef!! THE KING IS NAKED!!! I have proven beyond any reasonable doubt: that GLOBAL warming is 100% concocted lie. Avoiding the truth is double crime. Google keeps records. When the truth is known, students will be researching Judith’s blog / as popular one. Students will be collecting names of people that were avoiding to analyse Stefan’s formulas: EH>AE>ECI (Extra Heat>Atmosphere Expands>Extra Coldness Intercepts) Happy new year!!!

      • Kim,

        now you’re talking regional, not global.

        More interestingly, a repeat event is a possibiltiy under AGW. But wait, you think warmer is better, so a regional cooling effect must be ‘bad’.

        Kim is a climate alarmist!!

      • Stefan,

        That’s a whole bunch of crackpot points for you.


    • Warm Oceans and open Arctic are necessary to rebuild the ice volume. It does not snow much when earth is cool. This is a normal part of a natural cycle. When earth’s oceans are warm and the Arctic is open it snows a lot and earth cools. When earth oceans are cold and the Arctic is frozen, it don’t snow much and earth warms. Earth temperature is well inside the temperature range of the past ten thousand years.

  37. “Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the globe is warming. What follows, as a normative matter? ”

    Instead take a step back. Accept, for the sake of scientific fact that atmospheric CO2 is being driven up at an unprecedented rate and that such a change in CO2 has a significant impact on 1) global temperature, 2) ocean pH and 3) plant fertilization.

    It takes some real wishful thinking to believe that going from a world at 300ppm to a world at 800ppm in a matter of centuries will not result in a fundamental re-organization of the natural world.

    And it takes delusion to imagine that such a random re-organization of the natural world won’t have overall negative consequences. It’s like believing that a random re-arrangement of a tidy room won’t leave it in a mess!

    A random re-arrangement of the natural world would leave plants and animals, including humans, treading water. All species would need to adapt just to break even, and that includes adapting to each other’s adaptations. How many species does it take to fail at that to drag others down and cause a domino effect? How bad can it conceivably get?

    Well once it begins it likely will be too late to reverse. If the screws come loose the mess will be too complex to sort out and that’s before even considering the many decades it would take to stop atmospheric CO2 rising even if we really really wanted to.

    The “debate” is all wrong anyway, the actual threat has been dismissed for political reasons.

    If instead the issue was described in terms of the next jump out of solar minimum rising 20 times greater than any past rise out of solar minimum and then holding at such an extreme high level of solar output for centuries people might actually get a clue about the kind of dangerous impact that could have.

    • A warmer world has increased carrying capacity for all life, increasing species diversity and sustaining more life. What a wild fearful imagination you have, lolwot. Or have you been taught to be wildly fearful.

    • randomengineer

      A random re-arrangement of the natural world would leave plants and animals, including humans, treading water.

      Years ago a creationist figured he could show me how foolish it was to reckon evolution was real. It was easy to demonstrate, you see. You put the 17 constituent parts of a meat grinder in a tumble clothes dryer and let it run for 100 years. Or maybe 1000. Doesn’t matter. At no time will the 17 parts randomly and spontaneously assemble themselves into a meat grinder.

      Of course, as we all know there’s no reason for them to and his argument was nonsense. Your invocation of randomness reminds me of his.

  38. Denier: Global warming isn’t happening
    Rationalist: That’s not what the figures show.

    Denier: OK Global warming is happening but its natural variability. Not caused by humans.
    Rationalist: That’s not what climate scientists say.

    Denier: OK Maybe global waming is happening. Maybe its even caused by humans but its not as much as the IPCC claim it will be. Its all uncertain.
    Rationalist: Yes it is uncertain. It is just as likley to be more rather than less.

    Denier: Well OK Global warming is happening. Its is caused by human activity. It could be more than the IPCCs mid range estimate. But isn’t warming a good thing?
    Rationalist: This is driving me crazy!!!

    • …{cont.}
      Denier: See, warmists are crazy.

    • You missed the last part when we go back full circle to:

      Denier: Global warming isn’t happening

    • Denier: We don’t know what the “global average temperature” is with any great accuracy.
      Rationalist: Yes we do, we can measure the total average temperature of all the atmosphere, land surface area and all of the oceans to within a tenth of a degree, even though we have no measurements for most of the areas concerned ’cause our massaged statistics tells us so.

      Denier: We don’t know with any real certainty what the historical temperature record is over thousands of years with any accuracy.
      Rationalist: Yes we do, we can measure global average temperature of the ocean, land and atmosphere thousands of years ago within a tenth of a degree from tree rings and ice cores, even if we have to invert some of the graphs and delete others to do so.

      Denier: We can’t be reasonably certain what the global average temperature will be 100 years from now.
      Rationalist: Yes we can, we can predict the trend within tenths of a degree per year because our climate models tell us so, even though they all disagree with one another, and have been incapable of making verifiable predictions to date.

      Denier: We don’t even know if the proposed decarbonization policies being urged will have any impact on CO2 emissions or global warming because there is no way to implement any such policies globally.
      Rationalist: That doesn’t matter because…well…we don’t know why…but they just should be.

      Denier: We don’t know how much damage decarbonization would do to the world economy, particularly developing countries, but the possibility is that it would have enormous negative impacts, so we shouldn’t implement such polices without much greater certainty.
      Rationalist: Hey! The uncertainty principle is ours, it can only be applied in support of CAGW, not against.

      Denier: Not one of you “scientists” have ever put forth a complete, honest cost benefit analysis to include both the potential positive effects of rising temperatures, and the possible negative effects of decarbonization.
      Rationalist: So’s your momma.

      Denier: We will just let the issue be decided by the voters.
      Rationalist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-Mw5_EBk0g&feature=related

      • “massaged statistics”

        Hey Gary, did you miss Anthony Watts’ fine work were he showed the temp stats were spot on.

      • Hey Michael, did you miss that both the surfacestations.org and BEST analyses dealt only with exiting land temperature records and neither purported to show global average temperature??

      • Verification R2 stats, and just about everything else the Piltdown Mann has done. C’mon, Michael, you’ve got to know your stuff a lot better before you can snark with it.

      • Gary,

        The contention was that the land based results had been “massaged” (deliberately even), to show warming.

        That’s another conspiracy shot down in flames.

        Not that you hear any of them apologising for all the stupid accusations they flung around.

        Now the conspiracy theorists have quietly moved on from that and shout – ‘but that’s only land temps, not the global average!!’.

        They’re just are likely to be wrong about the global average stats as they were about the land based station stats, because they emanate from the same source – politically/ideologically motivated wishful thinking.

      • Michael,

        Your criticism was of my comment above, which expressly related to “global average temperature.” It’s hard to miss, it was in the very first sentence. Your humble apology is accepted in advance.

      • Yes, let’s ignore all our embarrasingly wrong accusations of perfidy on the land based temp record and now just repeat the claims, in exactly the same way, with precisely the same kind of objective reasoning (ie. none), about global av temps, and pretend it’s something new.

      • It is with much wonderment that skeptics are gradually coming to the conclusion that Phil Jones’s suspicious behaviour was covering data mismanagement rather than deliberate data fiddling. School is out on fiddling or not, because the original data which he adjusted, he didn’t keep.

        So tell me what you know about BEST’s preliminary UHI conclusion. Hint, check Climate Audit.

        And when will Phil Jones 1990 Chinese UHI study be withdrawn? And all the studies dependent upon it since? And when will all the models which depend upon it be recalibrated?

      • Now Kim, you’re making precisely the same mistake poor Anthony did – starting out with claims of deliberate wrong-doing, based on zilch, which you’ll then have to walk it back and start pretending your point was about something else all along.

        Yes, the fan bois and ditto-heads will keep slapping poor Anthony on the back, telling what a great fella he is, but everyone else is just having a little chuckle.

      • Believers who refuse to acknowledge that CG shows bad faith, bad behavior and deception by the writers and then also claim that skeptics have no basis for critiquing climate science are sadly laughable.

    • I thought there might be a cartoon in all this so I’ve put together:


      Happy New Year !

    • tempterrain

      You sure that “rationalist” is not “rationalizer”?


  39. “Denier: Global warming isn’t happening
    Propagandist: That’s not what the figures show.”


  40. Denier: What evidence have you examined that convinces you of Global Warming?



  41. Denier: Climate Science doesn’t provide conclusive evidence of AGW.

    Warmer: I like Al Gore


  42. Warmer: Right-Wing Trilobite!

    Denier: Shut up, Roberta.


  43. “How often have you heard a dispassionate discussion of the good consequences of climate change? All you hear, day after day, is a depressing litany of bad consequences. This alone shows that global warmists are biased. ”

    This is what started me on the road to climate skepticism.

    • Overegged. And pessimistic. And misanthropic. Not in the best traditions of humanity.

  44. For those interested in the potential effects of a warming planet consider “Six Degrees”, Mark Lynas. The book is organised in chapters of +1C, +2C, +3C… detailing plausible outcomes based on scientific research for each temperature level. Feel free to skip the +5C, +6C chapters as data becomes sparse and speculative. It is very readable and may alert people to possible outcomes that are important but far from obvious.

  45. incandecentbulb

    e.g., excerpt–>

    “Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.”

    Only in the event that it proves to be both real and as damaging as the prophets of doom proclaim. On the other hand, if it is indeed real but it prevents another ice age it could be the most fortunate event in human history.

    ~Walter Stark

  46. Climate change in Texas; not many good effects there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_in_Texas#Climate_Change_Impacts

    • But surely it’s warmer.

      Warmer is good!!

    • Holly stick

      I said this up thread in reply to your citations;

      “Hi Holly

      Approximately what year/decade do you believe the Earth started to warm and from which all the disasters you enumerate can be traced back to?

      You replied to me;

      “Holly Stick | December 29, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Why don’t you provide evidence of good results of global warming? See if access to oil in the Arctic is good even though millions of people die from floods, storms, drought etc.

      Sometimes people benefit from wars; does that make war something to be desired? Some people benefited from the Holocaust; does that make it ok?”

      Holly, That is no sort of answer at all. When do you think the warming started and -supplemental question-Are you aware that BEST say that one third of stations are cooling?

    • Holly, any time someone says ” climate change” in the context you are using it and fails to acknowledge that climate IS change, it is clear they are already lost. And when they use a wiki link, when wiki is demonstrated to be unreliable on climate issues, it is as if the writer is just not serious. AGW hype seems to seek out areas suffering from typicsl weather problems and basically fabricate huge dangerous stories of doom. Texas was famous for terrible droughts long before the sge of AGW. And climate has never not been changing. It is almost as if the believers think climate began with their CO2 obsession.

      • hunter,

        Any time someone nit-picks about the use of the term “climate change” because “the climate is always changing” when it is clear from the context that the current man-made climate change is being referred to it is clear that they have no serious point to make.

        As for Texas, the prediction is not just “it will have droughts in future”, which would indeed be remarkable, it is “it will have more severe and more frequent droughts in future”. When was the last one as bad as this year’s?

      • aa,
        How is it remarkable that Texas will have droughts in the future? Possibly I misread your point?
        As to projections of future droughts being worse- it is already demonstrated that AGW tools have no significant predictive capability, especially at the regional level, so who should care about predictions of doom from people whohave been making failed predictions?
        As to Texas drought history, the last significant statewide drought in Texas stretched from 1951 to 1956 and was as bad and worse than the drought we are now experiencing.
        The earliest histories of Texas talk about severe multi-year droughts.
        Once again it is clear that the AGW promoters depend on ignoring history to sell doom.
        The marketing of Texas as an AGW drought is looking like the marketing of Katrina as an AGW hurricane: phony.

      • OOops,
        as to your assertion of nit-picking:
        The AGW community depends on misnaming and miselading to justify a great part of its agenda. I reject the AGW language game.
        And in fact, many believers utlize a defense of ‘climate change” that consists of claiming that we have experienced a remarkably stable climate over the psat few millenia. Which is false, unless one buys into phony studies of climate that ignore history.
        So pointing out that climate change is not a crisis except as misdefined by AGW believers is simply a way of hilighting this AGW manipulation.
        The point is that fibbing about weather, climate, cliamte data, suppression of conflicting data etc. are all part of the AGW tool kit.
        You can dismiss that all you want, but believer dismissal is getting more and more threadbare and transparently cynical.

      • Holly stick
        You didn’t answer my question not because it was stupid but because the answer doesn’t sit comfortably with your ideology. It has not merely been warming since giss or Hadley have been recording temperatures in 1880 or 1850, the warming started several hundred years before that. Throwing in lots of guardian references doesn’t change that fact

      • hunter,

        Sorry, that should have read “unremarkable”.

        Apart from that, as usual your comments are long on assertions and short on evidence to back them up. Just because regional climate projections are difficult it doesn’t mean it’s not possible to have confidence in some areas. Western Texas in particular has a hot, dry climate and is prone to drought – does it take a big leap of imagination to expect that a hotter climate will make such droughts more likely? Of course it is easy and convenient to dismiss such concerns out of hand, but don’t then complain when others are dismissive of your own arguments.

        As for this summer’s drought, the Texas State Climatologist disagrees with you – he says it was the worst on record.

        See also


        The fact that global temperatures have been fairly stable over the last 8k years by historical standards is hardly controversial – see


        do you have any evidence to contradict this?

      • TonyB,

        Actually your question is a stupid one, but the answer is that the warming effect of additional CO2 in the atmosphere started pretty much as soon as we started spewing the stuff out around the start of the industrial revolution. Of course it took quite a while before the effect was strong enough to become apparent against the background of natural variations. Your claim that it has been warming since several hundred years before the start of the instrumental record requires some evidence. You seem to have abolished the LIA for a start.

      • TonyB and Andrew Adams are arguing; is Santa for real, or Rudolf? No warming hasn’t started – warming is in your heads, not in nature.

        Andrew, I will disclose something regarding Texas; if you want to follow it: Texas had better vegetation in the past than Brazil has today. The amount of crude oil is the proof..Mexican Gulf used to produce lots of moisture – by spinning the planet eastward > moisture goes west – as it is the case with Brazil now; only the gulf was producing more moisture than south Atlantic. Then Gibraltar straight opened – water in the gulf as soon as warmed up was going east into the Mediterranean + into Baltic sea. Then Bosporus opened – gulf stream speeded up even more. Sahara is expanding > higher evaporation in Mediterranean > the water in Mexican gulf has even less time after warming to produce evaporation – as on a convayer belt is shifted east as soon as it warms up.

        So, CO2 is not the offender as you people have being brainwashed; the real offender is somewhere far away. River Nile is to a trickle – cannot replenish the deficit from evaporation. If you are interested in ”truth” go to my website, those articles will never be outdated – start from the beginning to the end, without skipping a sentence. Remember what Plimer said: human mind is like parachute – only works when is open. If you are a secular green, go for it; if you are a fanatic… my tiers will not help you much; every fanatic green as the telescope needs a shrink.

      • So Tonyb are you saying that “climatereason” is your sockpuppet?

    • Holly Stick, if you believe in what Wikipedia promotes regarding climate; you must be using ”Buddha holly stick”

  47. Re: Climate change “depends on its consequences (and how these are evaluated).” We need to change the focus from evaluating “harmful” consequences to ALL consequences impacting human populations. Water, food and fuel are the greatest long term concerns in the developing world where most of the earth population lives. “Climate change” variations need to include the full range of natural and human impacts – both warming and cooling etc.
    Primary Productivity:
    We need parametric evaluations of the growth of each plant component as a function of climate parameters and location to model the impacts on growing populations. e.g.,

    Over the region from Texas through Virginia, net primary productivity (NPP) increased 27% over the study period, (1895-2007) with increases in grassland and shrubland (mainly in Texas) largely due to increased precipitation, little change in forests and wetlands, and large increases in cropland due to increased fertilization. The gains in modeled NPP were in spite of increased tropospheric ozone, probably because increased CO2 ameliorates ozone damage. Most of the NPP gain occurred after 1950; and all biomes showed increases in water use efficiency, especially cropland.

    Tian, H., Chen, G., Liu, M., Zhang, C., Sun, G., Lu, C., Xu, X., Ren, W., Pan, S. and Chappelka, A. 2010. Model estimates of net primary productivity, evapotranspiration, and water use efficiency in the terrestrial ecosystems of the southern United States during 1895-2007. Forest Ecology and Management 259: 1311-1327.

    Figure 20 shows the effect of CO2 fertilization on sour orange trees. During the early years of growth, the bark, limbs, and fine roots of sour orange trees growing in an atmosphere with 700 ppm of CO2 exhibited rates of growth more than 170% greater than those at 400 ppm. As the trees matured, this slowed to about 100%. Meanwhile, orange production was 127% higher for the 700 ppm trees.

    Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide ARTHUR B. ROBINSON, SALLIE L. BALIUNAS, WILLIE SOON, AND ZACHARY W. ROBINSON
    Increasing primary productivity is also critically important for growing firewood / fuelwood for people to cook their food.

    Re: “climate models predict more rainfall in South and Central Asia”
    NW India is rapidly pumping down its water table at ~ 1 m/3 yrs( 1 ft/year).
    See NASA Satellites Unlock Secret to Northern India’s Vanishing Water
    To survive, people in NW India in India will need to harvest and store rainwater and increase water use efficiency. They urgently need all the increases in precipitation that they can get.

    In the larger context, burning coal is returning the CO2 to the atmosphere. That in turn helps return the earth to the lush highly productive conditions with higher CO2 and higher temperature that existed when the biomass was formed that was subsequently buried as coal. That in turn will help increase agricultural and forest productivity – which is very important to the developing world to be able to support their growing population.

    For further data and benefits of CO2 see: CO2 Science

    For reviews, see the NIPCC .

    Global cooling is a far greater concern than global warming. Cold results in lower agriculture production and greater death rates than warming. See conditions during the Little Ice Age.

    Re “State of fearful climate science.”
    That reminds me of: State of Fear by Michael Chriton, See Preview
    Well worth reading to better understand the social impact of IPCC’s “climate science”.

    • Extra CO2 doesn’t do plants a lick of good if they are dying for lack of water, burned in fires, drowned in floods, etc.

      • Why the pessimism? With genetic engineering we can develop plants that have a camel’s hump, are flame retardant, and that have gills.

      • Nothing like assumptions for fighting facts, is there?

      • Holly Stick
        Please read the data again:

        net primary productivity (NPP) increased 27% over the study period, (1895-2007)

        While both CO2 and temperature increased.

        Coal beds were not formed in drought but under lush conditions with abundant water and CO2. Higher humidity leads to higher precipitation.

      • David L Hagen, read the reasons again, like INCREASED FERTILIZATION.

        Since you must be a city kid who has never been on a farm, let me assure you that the most important limiting factors for growing crops tend to be the amount of moisture, the timing for when there is moisture, how hot or cold it is, the number of frost-free days, etc. Increased CO2 is not going to make the whole world more green and lush, it is instead producing more drought in some areas and more flooding in others and allowing the spread of some pests; and none of these changes will benefit crops.


        Climate change is already affecting some crops for the worse: http://www.economist.com/node/18648350

        “…Although there will be gains in some crops in some regions of the world, the overall impacts of climate change on agriculture are expected to be negative, threatening global food security…”

        “… Although rising level of CO2 may have fertilizing effect on C3 crops, but concomitant rise in atmospheric temperature, O3 level and extreme weather conditions can not only nullify the fertilizing effect of CO2, but also drastically reduce the crop production, threatening food security to burgeoning world population…”

      • Holly Stick
        See Justus von Liebig’s Law of the Minimum

        yield is proportional to the amount of the most limiting nutrient, whichever nutrient it may be.

        I encourage you to read more broadly on the actual evidence.
        e.g., see: Terrestrial Plants and Soils NIPCC 2011
        7.5.7. Water Insufficiency and Over-Sufficiency e.g.,

        the net assimilation rate (Anet) in the CO2-enriched trees was 43 percent higher than in the ambient-air trees in June in the high-water treatment, but 79 percent higher in the low-water treatment, and that the low-water with high-CO2 treatment had equal or higher Anet than the high-water with ambient-CO2 treatment at all sites and during all seasons, indicating even a substantial decrease in moisture in this region would be compensated for by the positive Anet response to increased atmospheric CO2 under future warmer conditions. . . .plants experiencing total submergence during floods typically lose mass and die under normal conditions, but when the water is supersaturated with CO2, they can not only survive, they actually continue to grow.

        7.10 Food Production.

        ―moderate water shortage first appeared around 1800, but it commenced in earnest from about 1900, when 9% of the world population experienced water shortage, of which 2% was under chronic water shortage (<1000 m3/capita/year).‖ Thereafter, from 1960 onwards, they write, ―water shortage increased extremely rapidly, with the proportion of global population living under chronic water shortage increasing from 9% (280 million people) in 1960 to 35% (2300 million) in 2005.

        This appears to be primarily population not temperature driven.

        7.11. Greening of the Earth

        In light of what we know about the aerial fertilization and anti-transpirant effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment, we would expect Earth‘s terrestrial plant life to become increasingly productive as the air‘s CO2 content continues to rise, even in the face of rising air temperatures. The following sections highlight real-world evidence about plant productivity as CO2 increases.


        See also Biological Effects of Carbon Dioxide Enrichment NIPCC 2009
        PS Re “you must be a city kid who has never been on a farm,”
        Bad assumption based on lack of evidence. I look out to corn/soybean fields to the north, west and east, and (after one house) to the south.

      • From my first link, which cites many peer-reviewed studies, not the bilge produced by Singer and Idso:

        “…It has also been found that excess CO2 can make certain agricultural plants less nutritious for human and animal consumption…”

        “…Increased CO2 has been shown to lead to lower production of certain chemical defense mechanisms in soybeans, making them more vulnerable to pest attack and diseases (Zavala et al. 2008 and Eastburn et al. 2010)…”

        “…There is also some evidence suggesting that invasive species and many “weeds” may show relatively higher responses to elevated CO2 (Ziska and George 2004), and become more resistant to conventional herbicides (Ziska et al. 2004, Ziska and Teasdale 2000)…”

  48. It seems that I once succeeded in being provocative enough to initiate quite a lot of discussion. Here I try to make some points clearer.

    I wrote “Nobody seems to be both willing and capable ..” Several people noticed think that this is exaggeration and it certainly is – in a sense. Brandon Shollenberger commented more specifically:

    Plenty of those people would be willing and capable of having the discussion Pekka Pirilä says nobody would have. They don’t for a variety of reasons, one of the largest being the impossibility of the current state of discussion.

    This is pretty exactly what I had in mind. I know also that there is even a field of science that is looking precisely on these issues: The Environmental Economics. People have written scientific papers both based on Integrated Assessment Models and on arguments less dependent on specific models. I’m, however, not happy with that research. There are good papers, but progress in solving the most important issues has been slow, and many very important areas have been overlooked. Some comments on that may be found in my own blog, but I have not written anything new there for quite a while.

    One of the most reasonable and competent scientists of that field, Richard Tol, has contributed quite a lot to these pages, others like William Nordhaus and Nicolas Stern have written books expressing strongly contradictory views. These scientists have not been quiet and do certainly agree on the importance of the issue, but they have not succeeded in creating more extensive open discussion, which would clarify the problems to a wider audience. I add two more names worth special attention: Martin Weitzman, whose argumentation has been discussed here on several occasions, and Partha Dasgupta, who has been less active on climate issues, but whose approach to environmental and development economics is very relevant in my view.

    I know that the polarization of the debate is not the only reason for the lack of concentration on these issues. Perhaps more important is the difficulty of getting explicit results of some reliability out of the environmental economics. To me this is not a good reason, because the decisions are made blindfolded until the understanding of the basics of this field has reached a higher level. Until that state has been reached, we really don’t know, whether some particular policy decision will have positive or negative net value even, when we agree on, what is desirable and what is most important. (I know that we don’t agree on the goals, but that’s another matter.)

    • In the above message I discuss serious gaps in knowledge. The existence of these and other gaps means that decisions will be made under great uncertainty. This is an additional major problem. The precautionary principle is related to that, but it alone cannot provide answers. Lacking all knowledge, there’s no basis for rational decision making, but there’s always some knowledge and the real issue is, how severely lacking and fragmentary information should be used in decision making. Here we have seen both extreme conclusions
      – nothing should be done until the knowledge basis is solid
      – everything possible should be done to mitigate a hypothetical threat.

      Better analysis is needed than either of these extremes presents. What is needed is very much improved understanding of, how to combine fragmentary knowledge, complex and contradictory goals and risk attitudes in formulating policies that are as robust as possible in reducing the risks of most severe outcomes without disrupting progress (whatever that means) and which is attainable in a democratic society.

      The requirement that the solution is attainable in a democratic society is an important factor. it must be possible to make the proposed policies and their justification understandable to a wider audience (This is necessary also, because something too complex for that is likely to be based on faulty arguments and logic.) One point that I consider essential in that is restricting the decisions to near term policies. Longer term issues must be taken into account, but the uncertainties grow too rapidly with time to allow for decisions that have explicit long term goals or are supposed to be binding for a long period of time. (Of course also “binding” decisions can be reversed, when found faulty, but it’s better to avoid them in the first place.)

      • Pekka,

        Your views are greatly appreciated.
        You do have a great deal of knowledge in many problem areas of our fragmented knowledge base.

        This is precisely what I have been trying to achieve is a unified knowledge base of evidence and facts.
        This brings us to a better understanding of this planet and the universe it is under.
        A great deal of fiction imposed into science in over the hundreds of years to the current situation we are in.

        If you break down the current consensus of a climate model, it is impossible to track every grid square 24/7 with our current available technology. Many areas have NO data at all.

      • Pekka, you say this: “What is needed is very much improved understanding of, how to combine fragmentary knowledge, complex and contradictory goals and risk attitudes in formulating policies that are as robust as possible in reducing the risks of most severe outcomes without disrupting progress (whatever that means) and which is attainable in a democratic society.”

        I see now that once again you are talking about a world that you desire, but that does not now exist. My only interest is in the present world, especially the policies that are being made today. It is no wonder we have been talking past each other. Good luck with your vision.

      • People have dreams, so do I. I try to describe alternatives, which are not impossible, difficult to achieve perhaps, but not impossible.

        While the dreams have not been fulfilled i hope that some progress is made in moving to the “right” direction.

        One thing that I dismiss totally and also for the present world is forgetting substance knowledge and replacing it fully with uninformed debate. Every uninformed opinion should not be given the same wight. It’s true that every vote counts as one in the election, but in the actual decision making some value should be given to the existing knowledge. That’s done with no problems in many areas, why not in climate policy as well?

        My comments in this thread discuss problems in using the best knowledge in decisions on climate policy, the bias in the knowledge. I don’t agree far with so called skeptics, but I don’t think that there is a readiness either to use the science without serious bias. The skeptical community is wrong on very much, but in my view they are not that wrong in being skeptical on the actual policies being proposed and even implemented here in Europe.

      • Thanks Pekka. However, I am not aware of any “uninformed debate.” This blog is certainly not uninformed. The thing I find most remarkable about the climate debate is that the basic arguments appear at all levels of knowledge. It seems, therefore, that ignorance is not an issue.

      • David,

        We come back to this same issue time after time.

        Having education in substance oriented fields like physics and engineering and having worked a long career in such fields I maintain my trust in the importance of expertize and in great variability of expertize among people when looking at some specific topic. I have read all too many articles by philosophers, who seem to believe that their logical reasoning can lead to right conclusions even, when they lack the knowledge available for people willing to find it.

        I don’t believe at all that the experts would not err sometimes, and even very often when the subject matter is difficult (take national economics as an example), but even so logic alone is worthless unless it uses the right knowledge as starting point.

        Policy debate is important, but even in that different people have different roles. Substance experts can and should participate based on that expertize and they should aim at getting others to value properly their knowledge.

        Your recent comment on the paper of Redlawsk is interesting and I agree largely with your views on the nature of rationality as it applies to the actions of individuals, but I do think that you dismiss here again the proper value of substance expertize and the role it should have also in policy debate.

    • Econophysics is another burgeoning discipline that actually seeks to explain statistical economic data. The elegance of econophysics is a big draw for me, and I would like to see environmental and energy economics combined with econophysics to help understand resource constraints.

      • Being originally trained as a physicist and having later spent a lot of time in learning economics, I’m not convinced of econophysics. I see it rather as a mistaken idea of specialists of one field to think that they may solve the problems of another field.

        Having experience on modeling of physical systems helps a little in some problems of economics, but only a little. The economists may some times neglect true resource constraints, but few of the constraints can be described accurately as constraints of a physical system are described. It’s more common that the constraints are not known well enough and that in particular the the flexibilities of economic systems due to substitution and other similar mechanisms are not known well enough. The economists have learned, how to use models that are only partially based on direct relationships. Trying to introduce specific physical constraints to those models gives often severely erroneous results.

      • Pekka,

        I have an advantage over the rest of our planets population knowledge for the simple fact that I created a couple of mechanical devices that have taught me a great deal in macro molecular movement.
        I have studied areas no one has given a second glance at as their attention was on what was on THEIR interest.
        This prompted me into generating the velocity mapping of the planet. Besides everyone thought I was crazy and did a great deal of ignoring my views and ridiculed what they were trained from books or wikipedea.

  49. Hardly anyone realizes that warm ocean and open arctic is necessary to rebuild the ice volume.
    It don’t snow much when earth is cold. It only snows much when earth is warm and the arctic is open.
    It is a natural cycle. Earth warms, it snows, earth cools, snow stops, earth warms, it snows, earth cools, snow stops, …… . . . . ..
    Look at the data.

    • Which makes it a bit of a mystery how the great glaciations of the NH came about. Lower temperatures would have simply frozen the oceans, leading to even less precipitation, and the land would have been left largely ice free.

      • HAP doesn’t need a clown car, he has his own Popemobile.

        Skeptics, this is one of your own, you deal with him.

      • Peter317

        It is interesting. Supposedly, NH summer/winter swapped because of wobble. The changes in tilt and orbit don’t appear to be quite enough to explain distribution of the glaciers. The change in polar orientation with onset of glaciation, to many indicate that heliosphere and/or solar wind combine to stabilize the northern pole as the southern pole is in the present orientation. The wider Pacific expanse would provide the moisture for the North American glaciers. The small North Atlantic expanse provided the moisture for Northern Europe.

        With less long term Ice, the Siberian region became a huge lake instead of a glacier, bounded by ice. With more snow cover and higher average altitude, the North American snow cover expanded into glaciers.

        Then it gets really interesting. Did the greater mass of ice in North America cause an increase in the angle of tilt or did the solar orientation and increased wobble cause the geomagnetic field to shift?

        With a shift, the Antarctic would have more moisture from the open Pacific/Atlantic for increased precipitation.

        Either way, there appears to be something more special about the pole that is in the orientation that the southern pole is now. There is also the possibility that globally averaged, the temperature was only about 2 to 3 degrees cooler during the glacial periods. If so, radiate forcing from CO2 would be in the range of 2.25 to 2.75 C from 190PPM to 400PPM as water vapor feed back would be decoupled from CO2. Pretty close to Arrhenius’ second estimate.

      • It is no mystery. When the earth got warmer than now, in the warm periods between the cold part of the ice ages, it snowed like crazy and drained the oceans of water and piled the ice up, miles deep, on land and used all the ice to cool earth and keep it cold for a hundred thousand years while the ice melted.

      • Consensus Climate Science incorrectly uses cold to make ice.
        Earth, having better sense, uses ice to cool the earth.

      • HAP is a hoax planted by warmista to make skeptics look crazy

        Robert and Joshua are funded by Oil companies to make warmista look stupid.

      • Did you know steel doesn’t melt?

      • steven mosher: HAP is a hoax planted by warmista to make skeptics look crazy

        Robert and Joshua are funded by Oil companies to make warmista look stupid.


  50. To issues re radiation and thermodynamics, might be added the observation that no system of optical lenses can create an image brighter/hotter than its source. This sets a maximum limit for lens design of f0.5 and is a 2nd Law consequence. Scientists will recognize the sketch of a Carnot engine operating at maximum efficiency with all undissipated output fed back to the input and thus recycled until dissipated. It takes work to do this and the more work needed, the higher the input temperature required. If you solve the problem given you get the maximum temperature change that can result from a given forcing and will find it well within the 2K limit given 3.7W/M2. As a model of tropospheric dissipation, for W/T1/T2 I usually take 240W/M2, 280K and 210K. It should be evident that classical thermodynamics deals only with relations between macroscopic quantities. Statistical thermodynamic is needed to explain why J(T) is the function it is. This thread is devoted to normative matters presuming the validity of a hypothesis. I am not aware of the proof that virtual realities are constrained by 2nd Law considerations.

  51. Correction:
    Carnot engine operating at zero efficiency (maximum dissipation)

  52. A view on AGW and Climate Change.
    The sun heats the earth. The amount of energy that reaches the earth every day is a trillion, trillion, giga million watts or there abouts. Easy to calculate anyone? yes? thanks
    It is a very hot torch and the only one in town.
    With all that power however it only manages a change of 80 degrees centigrade form -40 in the poles to plus 40 in the warmest parts.
    Now calculate the amount of energy that human activity can produce every day on average and at its worst. Burn a few oli fields and a forest or two, explode the nuclear missles, even, shock, horror, leave all your lights on.
    easy to calculate? yes’ anyone .
    Lets be generous and say a trillion million watts give or take one or 2 trillion.
    Hmm that would change the energy per day in the world by perhaps, at a guess, one trillionth i.e.
    1/10 to the 12th
    Effect in a day negligible , in a year negligible, in a millenium negligible.
    Forever virtually negligible
    Funny that. Humans cannot affect the temperature of the earth under current conditions no matter what thay do.
    I am not sure who is more risable. Real Climate AGW people or sceptics who cannot explain this simple scientific concept.

    Now I know I have the energy amounts,names and degrees “wrong”. Heavens knows it may be ten or a hundred times less important than 1 in a trillion. But thefigures are there, The data is there, why doesn’t anyone look at it.

    This is not to say that lots of action is needed to improve the world from human caused problems, actions must be taken for the right reasons and AGW is not possible or real at this stage of our development.

    Disclaimer. the above small article is only possible due to AGW in the world [which really deserves to be called MGW “Mannian Global Warming”] surely .

    This blog will be updated as it evolves with the best figures available. Any help in this direction appreciated. angech

  53. Harold lee

    Excellent summary! (I like those “trillion, trillion, giga million watts or there abouts”. )

    Other analyses, even those using the exaggerated 2xCO2 temperature response estimates being pushed by IPCC, confirm that we are not able to change our planet’s climate, no matter how much money we throw at it.

    The specific actionable proposals that have been made in this direction show a theoretical reduction of warming of around 0.05°C per $ trillion invested.

    This is not much “bang” (theoretically maybe in year 2100) for a whole lot of “bucks” (spent today).

    Until the promoters of “mitigation against CAGW” can come up with some specific actionable proposals, which are reasonable and will show a perceptible impact on our future climate, the whole exercise is simply blowing off hot air.


  54. Thanks to Joshua I have been looking at the research on the theory of Motivated Reasoning. See http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22motivated+reasoning%22&hl=en&btnG=Search&as_sdt=1%2C44&as_sdtp=on

    A good place to start is “Hot cognition or cool consideration? Testing the effects of motivated reasoning on political decision making” by DP Redlawsk – The Journal of Politics, 2002 – Cambridge Univ Press. This is the 5th paper on my GS results and the full text PDF is available, but the URL is too long to post here. The intro makes clear that the theory is controversial. The case study is presidential elections so it is even timely. Note that the term “affect” can be roughly translated to emotion.

    The abstract says this: “Researchers attempting to understand how citizens process political information have advanced motivated reasoning to explain the joint role of affect and cognition. The prominence of affect suggests that all social information processing is affectively charged and prone to biases. This article makes use of a unique data set collected using a dynamic information board experiment to test important effects of motivated reasoning. In particular, affective biases should cause citizens to take longer processing information incongruent with their existing affect and such biases should also direct search for new information about candidates. Somewhat perversely, motivated reasoners may actually increase their support of a positively evaluated candidate upon learning new negatively evaluated information. Findings are reported that support all of these expectations. Additional analysis shows that these affective biases may easily lead to lower quality decision making, leading to a direct challenge to the notion of voters as rational Bayesian updaters.”

    However, my view is that the behavior they are identifying as biased is actually rational. What they are missing is that there are good reasons to defend and sustain one’s beliefs, because the alternative is that belief becomes impossible, as one is constantly presented with contrary evidence. In other words, what they call bias is in fact a core feature of rationality.

    To put it another way, theories of rationality are supposed to explain how people reason. Any theory that implies that most people are irrational most of the time is falsified thereby. People do not suspend belief every time they read a sentence suggesting they are wrong. There are good reasons why they do not. A proper theory of rationality will explain this behavior, not criticize it.

    • Emotions have served us well in the past and that fact, coupled with the fact that the application intellectual powers result in an incomplete picture of reality, means that emotions should be considered in decision making.

    • randomengineer

      Political science theories from *.edu are generally geared to answer the question of why republican voters seem so stupid. As I see it labs are useless. IRL voters are picking up bits and pieces of info that the researchers are either unaware of the effect or unable to dupe. e.g. more than one right winger will hear on a non-political TV show that Sean Penn supports issue X and conclude that X is likely to be idiocy since everything Penn stands for is (to them) idiocy. This isn’t motivated reasoning; it’s experience. In topical terms any number of right wingers were disinclined for the same reason to think that anything flogged by Al Gore could be anything but a lie or was at least politically spun. And again this isn’t motivated reasoning; it’s experience — “if AL Gore supports it, I probably won’t.” There’s nothing mysterious about this.

      I don’t trust political science people to arrive at reasonable conclusions, and it doesn’t sound like the notion of “motivated reasoning” is something that explains very much.

      • It would seem like you are arguing that prejudicial behavior can often reach the correct conclusion. Imo, while that may well be true, it is lazy intellectually and will also frequently lead to incorrect and hurtful conclusions.

      • There is nothing scientific about political science or social science. They are, respectively, political and social polemicists for progressivism.


        Marx tried to turn politics into a science and the world has been paying for that disaster ever since.

      • randomengineer

        Rob, there’s nothing intellectually lazy about using experience, because unless you use experience, it isn’t very valuable. Experience is intellectual efficiency.

        Bear in mind that political science studies seem to have a philosophical core assumption that a well informed voter is the goal. Everything is relative to that. A voter strategy of purposefully ignoring the entire election campaign and simply voting at the last moment for the most moral or smartest candidate seems to me to be just as viable.

        And why? A candidate with what appears as a pretty solid moral foundation will tend to make moral decisions if elected and is probably going to vector into an agreeable direction. A candidate with a major league IQ is likely to do smart things. We’re talking vector, i.e. what’s the likely direction a response to an emergency or new issue will take.

        As such I’d be willing to bet that voting strategies that are based on vector and not personalities or “deep understanding of the current issues” are just as viable — if not moreso. Of course, I’ll probably be laughed at by political science people and psychologists and sociologists (or any of the rest of the soft science types) for saying this because among other things (e.g. shallow and stupid) it’s counter to the notion of the presumed (given) utility of the well informed voter.

      • Gary, the logical conclusion of that scientific ideology is the kind of rhetoric that you hear here about group x or candidate y being “anti science”. That’s a dead giveaway of somebody who wants to use “science” as a political pickax.

      • A candidate with a major league IQ is likely to do smart things.

        Like getting fellated in the oval office? Don’t bank on it.

      • Random

        I believe that you realize that prejudicial behavior is both natural and lazy.

        Let’s use your example of evaluating a political candidate. You see one candidate is a Republican who is a “church going” Christian who advocates smaller government. You conclude that this persons has similar moral values as you do and choose to support this candidate based upon this information. I say that you are making a prejudicial conclusion based upon insufficient information.

        But, what if upon further information you found that this same candidate was cheating on his wife in a homosexual relationship. What if the candidate said they supported a smaller government, but actually would not support a reductions in spending by government because it would alienate segments of the voters who would loose benefits?

        I am guessing that your opinion of the candidate would be changed based on the additional information. I merely advocate all people make as informed of decisions as is reasonable possible. In regards to AGW or cAGW it all comes down to the specific actions that some people want to have taken as a result of the conclusions that they have reached. I suggest that many conclusions have been based upon very incomplete and biased information.

      • By all accounts, Lenin, Mao and even Pol Pot were very smart. In their case, their intelligence lead to smart mass murder. The morality of the candidate is crucial. A high IQ…not so much. Reagan was no genius and I would take him over any of the leading lights of the left. Give me an average capitalist over a “smart” progressive any day.

    • David –

      However, my view is that the behavior they are identifying as biased is actually rational.

      I don’t think that motivated reasoning implies irrationality, it merely implies a driving mechanism for how people reason in the face of controversy, how people analyze data given the implications of the resulting conclusions, etc.

      It’s similar to how I view belief in Intelligent Design, or faith in god. Those beliefs, IMO, are not inherently irrational (or logical); in fact, they are entirely rational and logical contingent on certain starting premises. If you believe that a supernatural/omnipotent being exists and wants millions of children to starve to death each year, belief in ID can be logical and rational. If you believe that the bible is the word of god, then belief in god can be entirely rational and logical.

      If you start with those beliefs, then any relevant data that you see can potentially be seen to confirm your belief.

      I don’t understand the dichotomy you create between bias and rationality. I don’t see the two as mutually exclusive – but think of a Venn diagram of overlapping sets.

      • Joshua, bias is by definition faulty reasoning, hence if it is systemic it is a form of irrationality. As Redlawsk put it “these affective biases may easily lead to lower quality decision making.” Thus motivated reasoning is presented as a systemic form of irrationality. I disagree.

        If you don’t like the term irrationality then let me just say that I do not think it is a form of bias, nor that it leads to lower quality decision making, in the normal course of events.

        Of course extreme cases are a form of insanity. But so is extreme cleanliness or any extreme version of normal behavior.

      • Joshua, rereading your response I have to say that I do not know why you have been repeatedly referring to motivated reasoning, if you do not see it as a form of error. What then is your point?

  55. At least for me, there are several ongoing layers of cognition operating in my mind at any given time and covering multiple topics. I choose to listen to one voice or another depending upon the immediate topic at hand. What surprises me is the connections between what I am currently focusing upon and some other, superficially at least, unrelated topic. At times this has led to an “Aha” moment; a new insight, at least for me. Whether listening to the Republican candidates in their circular firing squad rhetoric, or listening to multiple iterations of one side or the other of the “climate change debate,” I find that new and/or contrary information forces me to step back and to try to fit the new with all the other “old.” Weighing the information initially doesn’t seem to occur until some time later: i.e., adding another one or two balls to the mix that I am already juggling. There is a limit of course to how many new balls I can juggle at any one time and I usually withdraw for a time being to reassess and let ideas settle. I sleep on it. I find that my affect, or state of mind, dictates how long and how many balls I will juggle at any given time. My affect also operates on multiple layers and with multiple influences: cloudy rainy weather; skyping with the grandkids; getting positive feedback; etc. So the mix of affect and cognition and those multiple layers of each sets my mood for listening and responding and incorporating what I have just heard. This is how I learn & unlearn. Its fun.

    • RiHo08

      You wrote that your “state of mind, dictates how long and how many balls I will juggle at any given time.”

      Believe it was FDR’s first VP, Henry Wallace, who said that his boss: ““could keep all the balls in the air without losing his own”.

      A talent, no doubt.


  56. incandecentbulb

    You may wish to consider then, the role of government and political correctness involved in the climate of fear surrounding the weather.

  57. It’s been snowing for 24 hours where I live (Switzerland, below 600m altitude).

    Urgently need a bit of global warming here.

  58. “As for climate change and the developed world–I firmly believe we should benchmark energy use per person rather than other metrics we cannot control. If America aimed for Denmark’s per capita energy consumption of 161 million btu’s per person instead of our own profligate 323 mbtus, now that would be something.”
    perfect example of how’ the cause’ will not be stayed nor diverted by quibbles over facts.
    hear this fuller: get your eyes offa my wallet. stop waving your ‘we we’ at me. you have no business counting my money and keep your perfidious gaze offa my joules. you and your ilk, the pelosi’s of the world, who accept human sacrifice as a natural means of your own survival are deadly parasites and responsible, inter alia, for the decline of western civilization.
    e.s. and d. you have no right to anybody’s stuff – no right to covet or steal; no right to violate the rights of other. you are wrong and your philosophy of human sacrifice is evil. you are a problem. your philosophy is corrosive and justifies predation on others. you are evil. it’s not about science, it’s about the moral imperative of the cannibal being accepted uncritically by the items on the menu while hunchbrains like fuller distract them with sleight of mind.

    • Does’t your idea promote the core problem (human population growth)? It also does not take into account the differences in a countries size or history.

    • “no right to violate the rights of other.”

      Our grammatically challenged visitor has a point. Violating others’ right by forcing your carbon pollution on them and their property is wrong. It is an act of violence, giving us the natural right to defend ourselves.

      • LOL only in Robert’s world is it a violation of others rights. People have been doing it for thousands of years and the human race has benefitted as a result

      • Robert,

        You’ve taken this tack before, but have evaded my further inquiries. So let me try again.

        Since you define carbon pollution as a form of “violence” against which you have a natural right of proportional self-defense, do you then find justified the employment of physical violence, inflicted by you personally, on others to prevent their carbon pollution?

        Please, man-up and spell things out this time–O. K. , Robert. A simple yes/no would be a good start to your reply.

      • Well Robert, I see you’ve been a busy little beaver dropping off comments elsewhere on this blog. But, somehow, you’ve failed to answer the question I posed to you in my December 31 3:57 pm comment. Please respond.

        Incidentally, do you regard the carbon emissions that derive from the palatial mansions, private jets and jet-set lifestyles, and yachts of such luminaries as Al Gore, Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the like to be examples of “violent threats” to you. And, if so, do you regard yourself to have a self-defense right to use proportional “violence” against these polluters’ person or injury to their carbon-emitting property. Or if not, why not?

        You seem to have issued a threat of violence up-thread there. I’d like to find out the exact nature of that threat since I don’t underestimate you, Robert.

      • Unless your carbon footprint is zero, you are continually committing acts of violence on others, and yourself. What punishment do you deserve, bobbie? Should your VW bus be taken away from you? Or are you talking corporal punishment? Maybe you and josh should spank each other, to atone for your sinning against mankind.

        Seriously :), bobbie. How much violence are you doing? Got car? Got heat and light in da house? Describe your consumption of fossil fuels and make us all ashamed to be such gluttons. You are a whinging little wimp, bobbie.

  59. here is a plot of Argo showing E and W hemispheres 60N to 60S, 2004 thru 2011


    Have a look for yourself. Do you see any trend anywhere in the Argo data?
    Where is the catastrophic warming? Where is there any evidence of warming?

    The oceans of the earth for the past 7 years. NO TREND

    To explain the two plots of Argo data above:

    What I did was to slice the Argo data vertically by longitude and average all the data from 60N to 60S. This then gave a single number for the average temperature of the ocean at the longitude on that date. I then plotted this with time on one axis and longitude on the other, to provide a time series analysis of average ocean temperature by longitude, to see if there was any trend in any of the oceans. As can be see from the plots, to the resolution of the human eye there is no obvious trend.

    These two plots represent almost the entire dataset for Argo. The plots have different color scales so don’t be thrown by that. Also, because of the distribution of land, the oceans are not evenly distributed north and south, so they vary in temperature according to longitude.

    All of this took a few mouse clicks with the Argo Global Marine Atlas.

    The argo viewer is available here:

    The install instructions are available here:

  60. mike,

    Just so that you know, and without getting into a complex discussion of the concepts of natural rights and self-defense… your understanding of these needs work.

    You seem unaware that ideas of self-defense include nonviolent self-defense (from both nonviolent and violent threats) and other principles that are consistent with norms of nonviolence.

    While the self-determination of nations has often included violent self-defense, there are many nonviolent alternatives to self-defense and self-protection at both the individual and social level.

    Protecting ourselves has often involved protecting the environment; and looking into the future certainly involves approaches that ensure productive, sustainable management of the environment. As Robert’s comment suggests, it can be viewed as a violation of natural rights to refuse to do so.

    What’s more, it is reasonable to consider whether charter, constitutional, generational, human and even non-human species rights are violated by individuals, governments and societies that knowingly and willfully impose harm on others via continued refusal to take the most basic responsibility in relation protection of the environment and biodiversity.

    • A warmer earth will sustain more life and increase species diversity. However, the globe is cooling.

    • You thought you played your ace of trumps, Martha, the human capacity for guilt, but you pulled it out of the wrong sleeve and it’s a joker, and you’ve revoked. Nature is wild, though, and handily beats your joker, but strains to overpower the real ace of trumps.

    • randomengineer

      What’s more, it is reasonable to consider whether charter, constitutional, generational, human and even non-human species rights are violated by individuals, governments and societies that knowingly and willfully impose harm on others via continued refusal to take the most basic responsibility in relation protection of the environment and biodiversity.

      Probably not. This is a slippery slope. You can use this line of reasoning to excuse genocide. The indians are doing a great job of breeding themselves out of room and will soon require more room and more resources. This is a violation of my rights of (put your list of what you imagine to be rights here.) Therefore it’s acceptable to remove that ability from them since they refuse to do it themselves. The difference between the indians outbreeding the rest of humanity purposefully or by way of happenstance is a mere slip of paper stating intent.

      At the core of all green argument is more than a whiff of malthus, and you’re no exception — violent and disgusting intent cloaked with the imprimateur of responsibility, reasonableness, and caring.

      • Take any set of a couple of rights, formulate them precisely and apply literally. You’ll find that that leads to contradictions.

        All good principles are valid only up to a point.

      • All good principles are valid only up to a point.

        Not always, but usually. Certainly all ideologies contain the seeds of their own reductum ad absurdum.

      • randomengineer

        Pekka, I am OK with the notion that the tragedy of the commons represents a blueprint for how things ought to be i.e. one ought to be aware of ones neighbours and so on. However when this blueprint morphs into the area where rights can be assumed it goes off the rails. Rights are pretty much limited to what was enumerated by the US constitution. My response to Martha is limited thusly. There are no additional rights, and assuming otherwise always leads to totalitarianism or violence (usually both.)

        In short.

        The responsible approach is to recognise the limits of what few rights we actually have and work for the maximum benefit for all. The totalitarian approach is to invent rights where none such exist and use these as a weapon. I do not like totalitarians in any form, and the green ones are especially vile.

      • Random, now you’re in to negative v.s. positive rights. Euros don’t recognize the distinction. Neither do ~40% of Americans.

      • I think we are essentially in agreement at least when we discuss the issues at the general level.

        I’m willing to give fair amount of power to the government and a role also for the international agreements, but I don’t want to give absolute right or be bound by commitments that are made very difficult to break, when they lead to severe problems or unintended consequences. I seldom like absolutes and commonly prefer negotiated compromises. Common sense must prevail.

        Some of my preferences may work better in a small country like Finland. Stricter rules may be needed in bigger countries, but the basic philosophy should be applicable everywhere.

    • John Carpenter

      “Just so that you know, and without getting into a complex discussion of the concepts of natural rights and self-defense… your understanding of these needs work.”

      Martha, on the contrary. You need to understand the dialogue between mike and Robert. Robert has made many assertions here that deniers are the same type of people as mass murderers. Robert has taken very aggressive positions that deniers commonly make threats to climate scientists of rape and or death. He makes these assertions in a context that a lot, if not most of deniers, take on these hateful positions. It is part of the way Robert dehumanizes ‘deniers’ as a whole… which is the first step taken by someone with violent tendencies. Robert makes a claim that emitting CO2 is a violent action. mike is asking a very good question to Robert based on what he has expressed on this forum many many times.

      This is a very good question to raise…. if emitting CO2 is considered a violent action, what is the appropriate steps taken to stop the violence. Let us take a hypothetical situation as an example. Let’s say a binding protocol for aggressively reducing CO2 emissions has been successfully negotiated between the largest emitters in the world. After a decade of trying to meet emissions and sustain economic growth, one or two nations decide their economies cannot support the strategy and a failure between all the nations to renegotiate the terms of the protocol fails where the original mitigation strategy remains in full force. So those nations decide to leave the protocol and start a new trading bloc between themselves and begin emitting levels of CO2 far above what they are previously allowed. What kind of enforcement action should the nations remaining loyal to the protocol take? When all negotiations fail and the ‘rogue’ countries can not be stopped, what is the final step? Would countries go to war of the environment? Would someone like Robert support such actions in this hypothetical situation? What makes you think this could not happen if such an agreement were made globally. How far are you, Martha, willing to go to support your cause? Isn’t this a life and death situation for the world according to the CAGW stance? If not, why worry about catastrophe? If so, are you ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the earth? I know your answer already… no, you won’t. You don’t have it in you, you are a pacifist. Is Robert a pacifist? mike wants to know. It’s a legitimate question to ask.

      • Another example.

        How far is this proposal consistent with other good principles of freedom and democracy? I’m not a libertarian, but I find this to contradict my thinking.


      • John Carpenter

        Pekka, thanks for the link… I read about half of the document so far. To the point I have read, I find it long on why we need to change and short on how it could be done, though I glanced at the balance of the document and see the 10 ‘bundles’ may contain that information.

        The problem I am having so far is the repeated juxtaposition of the words ‘democracy/democratic’ with the terms ‘state’ and ‘nation state’. The authors seem to bend over backward that the ideas presented are ‘democratic’… just as long as everyone takes on the same mindset. This would be a very interesting topic for Judith to present for further discussion and would certainly produce a lively debate among the readers. So far I find the document far fetched in terms of actual implementation.

      • John Carpenter

        Pekka, I am disturbed by the idea of a ‘Great Transformation’. It reeks of socialistic unification propaganda. I’m not a socialist conspiracy type, but they can’t really hide what they want to happen and how it should happen very well.

        I find this passage under ‘New Social Contract’ very telling:

        “For one thing, this needs a voluntary capping of the usual options for economic growth in favour of giving the people in those parts of the world already suffering the consequences of our irresponsible behaviour, and particularly future generations, room to manoeuvre. For another, the transformation needs a powerful state, counterbalanced by extended participation on the part of its citizens.”

        The mind set of the authors is one of extreme guilt. Guilt that can be cured by power. Power in the form of a ‘powerful state’ to transfer wealth from the ‘participating citizens’ to the ‘suffering people’ of the third world.

        This is followed by four challenges to the new social contract that I find very perplexing. 1) individuals are to account for ‘transnational risks and natural dangers, and the legitimate interests of ‘third parties’ i.e. other members of the world community’ while apparently trying to make a living. 2) understand that society is not equal (as if we don’t know this already) and so ‘we must have effective, fair global compensation mechanisms in place.’ 3) ‘The natural environment should be given increased consideration when revising the social contract.’ and 4) ‘The contract has to bring two important new protagonists into the equation: the self-organised civil society and the community of scientific experts.’ i.e. read that as environmental activists and scientists are to be even more prevalently considered in policymaking.

        The authors understand the idea of a ‘powerful state’ being counterbalanced by extended participation of its citizenry is contradicting. Their explanation that it does not have to be so is not very convincing to me. To me, the document is a pipe dream with no real solutions to how the required energy is going to be made to fuel thriving economies with nuclear energy options off the table. It only vaguely references ‘renewables’, but offers no specifics as to what types and where and how much is needed. I can’t argue against the idea of getting more resources to develop ‘renewables’ and to phase out subsidies to ‘fossil fuel’ sources, this should be done, but needs to be done at a time when plausible renewable sources are available.

        There is a lot to absorb in the document, but I am finding it hard to finish as there are no real solutions presented.

      • Last May I wrote a short blog comment on the paper in Finnish. The title was essentially “A positive future or eco-dictature?”. Approximate translations of one paragraph follows:

        “Time after time the text brings Soviet Union in mind. The revolution is described as the socialist revolution was once described: The Revolutionary Vanguard knows the direction and takes others along. When it turns out that everybody doesn’t join voluntarily, politruks are put in key positions with the task of controlling operative decision making. The system is transformed to one based on worldwide central planning, which will apply the methods of democratic centralism, where the enlightened will make sure that they will be reelected in every new election.”

        I did continue that the above development will not be realized, but that the proposals of the paper will also fail in absence of such control mechanisms.

    • John Carpenter

      Martha, in addition to my above comment, ponder this as well. The founders of the United States of America found living under the control of the British monarch intolerable. They revolted, which became a violent action, to free themselves of tyranny. Blood was shed to make a free nation. Blood has been shed many times to free people from oppression. If the large industrialized countries of the world are imposing a new environmental oppression over everyone else, how will those being oppressed regain their freedom for 360 ppm CO2 atmosphere? Who will be the champion for them and how will they succeed? Will it ever come down to bloodshed? You dismiss a very important question. Negotiation is very hard, war is easy… how have all the negotiations in the mid east turned out so far? At what length are environmental activists ready to make their stand? If you really believe that a world accord to reduce CO2 emissions and all the baggage such an agreement would carry along would not cause a revolt somewhere, you are quite naive. If the human population continues to explode exponentially and all these people need warmth, jobs, food, water, energy, etc… to survive, when will it end? What is the solution to this problem? How will you enforce policies on people to do what you think is ‘right’?

    • Martha,

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply. And let me add, I remain an admirer of your willingness to brave this blog’s usual, fired-up negative response to your comments and still keep coming back. While I seldom agree with your views, I value your tenacious participation on this blog and your effort to provide alternative viewpoints.

      Martha, you say, “You seem unaware that ideas of self-defense include nonviolent self-defense (from both nonviolent and violent threats)…” Your point is well-taken, Martha, but leaves unspoken whether “violent self-defense”, physical harm inflicted on others, is, in addition to “non-violent self-defense”, also a legitimate form of self-defense in the context of preventing “carbon pollution”–“carbon pollution” being described as a “violent” act by Robert. Indeed, your comment seems to imply that “violent self-defense” in response to unwanted “carbon pollution” is a “natural-right” option. In particular, your phrase “…ideas of self-defense include nonviolent self-defense…” clearly implies there are modes of “natural-right self-defense” other than “nonviolent self-defense”–of which “violent self-defense” is the only other alternative, that is, if we are to avoid the meter-maid’s ticket for illegally parking in Aristotle’s excluded middle.

      Robert refuses to clarify his position on “violent self-defense” in the context of “carbon pollution” which he regards as a “violent” act. Given Robert’s wonted motor-mouth, his reticence in this matter speaks volumes, I conclude. And, Martha, your comment further prompts me to think that the “natural right to self-defense against the violence of carbon pollution” is a mainstream part of the left’s current-thinking and the likely pretext for their future tactics if nicey-nicey efforts at persuasion fail.

      Martha, the left has had a long-standing love affair with violent tactics so I’ve been pretty much expecting to see “watermelon-terror” join the “climate science” discussion. Whatever your personal views, the idea of a “natural right to self-defense against the violence of carbon pollution” is a justification with an open-ended potential for lethal mischief. In that regard, Martha, neither you nor Robert have abjured violence as a legitimate form of “natural-right defense” in the fight against “carbon pollution violence” and neither of you have condemned such “violent self-defense” if undertaken by others.

      But, perhaps, Martha, I can profit from further education in these matters. I look forward to any further thoughts you might have. And, if you would be so kind, I posed some questions in two comments, up-thread, to Robert. I would sincerely like to receive your response to those same questions. And from Robert too (I know you’re reading this comment Robert).

    • mike and John Carpenter,

      You have written some elegantly worded contributions. FWIW, I admire them.