Demon Coal

by Judith Curry

Last week I conducted an extensive interview with Max Allen of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation.

Here is the e-invite I received:

I’m producing two hour-long programmes called DEMON COAL for broadcast on March 12 and 19.  The title is partly ironic, and arises from the Ontario government’s decision to close all coal-fired generating plants in the province, with a consequent effect on cost and system reliability – and more recently statements by Andrew Weaver and others asserting that coal is public enemy number one.  The programmes look at the British Columbia revenue neutral carbon tax, carbon offsets generally, work by economists around the world on the feasibility of geoengineering and other technical approaches, decision-making under uncertainty, and a range of other ideas. But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.  

Climate Etc. is strikingly even-tempered and mostly free of what the IISD’s Dave Sawyer in Ottawa calls “brawling.”  (JC comment: !!!)

So I’d like to conclude the two radio programmes by having you talk about the three best (or three OF the best) climate ideas you’ve come across (or seen demonstrated).

Well, after pondering this, I emailed Max Allen some talking points for our interview, which forms the basis of the essay below related to the interview, and also includes responses to some questions I was asked during the interview.


I don’t have  simple response to the three best climate ideas I’ve come across.  My main concern is that the wicked climate change problem and its solution have been vastly oversimplified.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, scientists provided a simple theory for how the Earth’s climate could warm from increased greenhouse gases. By 1992, we had the UNFCCC treaty, and the precautionary principle for preventing dangerous anthropogenic climate change. In hindsight the treaty seems premature, since it wasn’t until 1995 that the IPCC argued that “the balance of evidence now suggests a discernible human influence on human climate.”

By 1997 we had the Kyoto Protocol. The end result of all this is that the scientific problem of climate change has been framed to address only anthropogenic influences, all but ignoring solar, volcanoes, and multidecadal ocean oscillations. The search has been for dangerous impacts of warming (not for beneficial impacts). And the policy response has focused on a single strategy: stabilizing greenhouse gases to a model-determined target.

In 2012, we find ourselves in a position where the IPCC consensus is being challenged, particularly on how the climate might vary during the 21st century. The key scientific issue being debated is the relative magnitude of the human impact on climate, compared to natural variability. With regards to dangerous climate change: there is the growing realization that we have just begun to scratch the surface in terms of understanding the benefits and dangers of climate change in the context regional vulnerabilities. And finally, the precautionary principle has led us to focus on policies where the negative economic impacts of the proposed energy policies are arguably worse than what the policies are intended to prevent.

A metaphor for uncertainty

Max Allen sent me a link to this youtube video of two sheets of fabric continuously flying in and out of a vortex of air, which he thought was a way of visualizing the difficulty of modeling weather and climate.  Watch the video, it is mesmerizing.

I thought the video was a  good metaphor for the uncertainty in predicting future climate.  While we can’t predict the position of the fabric at any instant, we can put bounds on the possible locations of the fabric.  We also see certain different configurations that generally get repeated and certain patterns persist in a region with smaller bounds.

So, similar to climate change projections for the 21st century, we can put some plausible bounds on the future states and we can articulate some scenarios of future states and say something about the nature of transient regimes.  We can’t predict the actual future states.

So where do we go from here?

When faced with deep uncertainty, decision makers can adopt a range of different strategies. To date, the debate has been between the precautionary principle versus the strategy of do nothing, or wait and see. Other decision making strategies when faced with deep uncertainty include adaptive management and building societal resilience through economic development. Another strategy that seems to be gaining traction is to broaden the knowledge base and perspective to include other issues. In the context of energy policy, this broadening is occurring in the context of considerations of clean air and public health, and energy security and economics.

In the short term, I like policy options that are “low regrets”, i.e. ones that are robust even if the future dangers from climate change are not materialized. Some examples of low regrets policies related to climate:

  • Increase energy efficiency of buildings, appliances, and transportation
  • Manage black carbon and the short-lived greenhouse gases such as methane, which are relatively easy to control and have ancillary economic and human health benefits
  • Regional strategies for reducing vulnerability to extreme weather events, climate variability, and change.

Value of information

During the interview, I was asked the question about what is the value of information in decision making regarding climate change.   We need to reframe the climate change problem, and break out of the simplified framing of the IPCC and UNFCCC. We need to broaden the scientific research and open up the debate. In effect, we need to stop trying to manufacture a consensus on a scientific problem that is very complex and poorly understood.

I framed my response re the value of additional information  in context of decision making under deep uncertainty, whereby deep uncertainty is characterized by:

  1. phenomena are characterized by high levels of ignorance and are poorly understood scientifically
  2. modelling and subjective judgments must substitute extensively for estimates based upon experience with actual events and outcomes
  3. ethical rules must be formulated to  substitute for risk-based decisions.

With regards to #1: We need better understanding of natural climate variability, on timescales from seasons to centuries.  We need to conduct more comprehensive analyses of regional vulnerabilities.

With regards to #2:  “Better” climate models aren’t going to really help here, although better climate models can contribute to #1.  We need to acknowledge that our ability to predict 21st century climate variability and change will remain irreducibly uncertain.

With regards to #3:  We need to develop a broader range of policy options in the context of the broader issues of energy policy, food security, and economic development.  Specifically with regards to energy, valuable information would be

  • Comprehensive impact assessments and cost/benefits of nuclear power, biofuels, wind and solar.
  • Research to develop geoengineering options, including assessment of unintended consequences.
  • Research in alternative energy technologies, including the fundamental research that may lead to unanticipated applications

When asked about the investment in further information and innovation, I said its hard to know what best spurs innovation, there are people that spend their careers studying this. Government funding isn’t the sole answer; private sector and venture capital are important in spurring innovation.

Demon Coal

I was finally asked:  “Is coal the demon?”  My answer had two parts.

If your concern is carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and health impacts of the particulates, then coal is the worst of the fossil fuels.

I live in the southeast U.S., where coal is the primary power source.  Our power providers Georgia Power/Southern Company tell us coal is the key to regional prosperity by providing abundant, cheap energy (our power costs are much lower than many other parts of the U.S.).

So there you have it: the enduring conflict between the environment and public health vs  economic prosperity and development.


The program will air in two parts, on March 12 and 19:

Monday, March 12
Coal is dirty, toxic, abundant and cheap. Mining it disfigures the earth. Using it for fuel or electricity generation is unsustainable. Burning it emits deadly pollutants and greenhouse gases, and is the major cause of global warming. Right?  Max Allen talks with environmentalists and energy scientists about why much conventional wisdom about coal in the 21st century is just plain wrong. Part 2 airs on Monday, March 19.

Monday, March 19
Coal is dirty, toxic, abundant and cheap. Mining it disfigures the earth. Using it for fuel or electricity generation is unsustainable. Burning it emits deadly pollutants and greenhouse gases, and is the major cause of global warming. Right? In this new two-part series, Max Allen talks with environmentalists and energy scientists about why much conventional wisdom about coal in the 21st century is just plain wrong.

The IDEAS show airs at 9:05 – 10:00 p.m.

You can hear the show via:

  • on the radio (as per above)
  • via the Internet (On Real Audio)
  • Streamed (from our IDEAS website)
  • Podcast (from our IDEAS website)

Here is the [link] for the various options.

JC comments:  Based upon past IDEAS shows and on the interview itself, I think this should be a very interesting series on Demon Coal, and about Ontario’s struggles with green energy.  Lets listen and find out (note, I think my portion of the show landed in Part I).

This interview breaks new ground for me, in terms of talking about what makes sense from my perspective in terms of energy policy.  I have hitherto avoided such issues, but I’ve spent the past three years focusing on the climate science-policy interface. I’m developing a perspective that I hope is consistent with Pielke Jr’s honest broker idea, in terms of articulating challenges at the science-policy interface and broadening the range of policy options to be considered.  I’m starting to engage more with the energy policy community, in the hopes that sanity in energy policy can somehow prevail, and the postnormality of climate science can be relaxed.

626 responses to “Demon Coal

  1. Judith,

    It sucks! I live in Ontario and our Premier has totally screwed the people.

    • I live in Ontario sometimes and from time to time. Alarmist propaganda machine was so successful that gullible Ontarian pushed for this result! Ontarian voted for the Premier for this result, no one to be blamed. Its difficult to turn it back now, so live with it!

      So, next time whoever propose to drop it and allow new harmless (achievable) coal fired power stations, vote for him/her.

  2. From one fraud to the next.

    Greens should simply be rejected, it’s only complicated in Dr. Curry’s mind based on on embedded social/political bias which should discussed openly not buried and taboo which it clearly is.

    What qualifies climate war vets (losing side especially) from commenting on energy policy or coal?? Looks like zilch reasons to me. No gravitas should be given.

    • It is not fraud to go back and reexamine the validity of past policies – policies based on lock-step, consensus opinions championed by an unholy alliance of the AGU, EU, NAS, RS and the UN with world leaders who were frightened by the prospect of mutual nuclear annihilation.

      Highly distorted scientific “facts” have caused great damage to society since Hiroshima was vaporized on 6 Aug 1945 and world leaders faced the reality of their mortality. “For thirteen days in October 1962 the world waited—seemingly on the brink of nuclear war—and hoped for a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

    • cwon14 –

      “Greens should simply be rejected”. Nowadays, agreed. They have become, indulgently, the greatest enemies of the planet, its future, and all that humans can and should achieve.

      However, I think you’re always unfair on our host. Dr. Curry is trying, perhaps, to be the nearest this climate mess is ever going to get to a ‘Fair Witness’ (from Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land).

      “Fair Witnesses are prohibited from drawing conclusions about what they observe. As a demonstration, Harshaw asks Anne to describe the color of a house in the distance. She responds, “It’s white on this side”; whereupon Harshaw explains that she would not assume knowledge of the color of the other sides of the house without being able to see them.”

      There are plenty of other blogs run by Committed Advocates on both sides, some open-to-dissent and good (ie: anti-AGW); some closed-minded and bad (RC, SkS). (Note: I’m not fair). Why not one where the host doesn’t claim to know things that no-one knows?

      • “Dr. Curry is trying, perhaps, to be the nearest this climate mess is ever going to get to a ‘Fair Witness’ (from Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land).”

        Dr. Curry obfuscates and creates false middling arguments when basic social facts are there to observe. I would argue it’s because of her general left-of-center world view that is conflict with her professional doubts on the more radical wing that dominates AGW consensus; Gore, Mann, Jones, Hansen etc.

        By treating it like a turf fight from the same general political segment it mitigates what many skeptics understand and are correct about the “cause”.

      • cwon14, you’ve made your criticisms many times; some of your points have merit, but I give Judith credit for having moved away from the mainstream, having exposed many of the uncertainties which are rarely acknowledged, providing a forum for scientific inputs and broad-ranging discussion, and having one of the most interesting and useful blogs around. I don’t always share her views, e,g, on some of the sociologist material she’s presented, but she’s (at least) one of the sanest and most reasonable climate scientists around. While, like you, I would sometimes take a stronger position on some matters to do with scientific malfeasance, I’ve been able to use material from Judith and her blog to counter the CAGW cause in Australia’s national press, The Economist and elsewhere (indeed, I’ve advised The Australian’s GW writers to read this very post). I hope you come to Climate Etc not only to criticize where you see fit, but also because you find some value in the blog, even if less than I do.

      • Hey, great response. I wasn’t expecting anything this insightful to come out of this person’s cwitique.

      • Faustino,

        I want the same progress out of “gridlock” as Dr. Curry states she does also. The basic facts I support can’t be refuted. We can debate many other things and degrees of generalization but AGW is an eco-left creature. There can be no sane discussion without this admission. It’s central to the gridlock and false narrative supported by many here. Dr. Curry is subsidizing this particular canard. Why?

  3. Professor Curry: Please consider the possibility of encapsulating and using waste products from nuclear reactors as concentrated sources of energy – instead of waste products to be hidden underground or stored indefinitely for future generations to dispose – so mankind can return to the nucleus where energy is stored as rest mass.


  4. Jack Maloney

    I’m pleased to see Dr. Curry helping to move the “debate” away from faith-based haranguing and toward practical assessment of problems and solutions. However, the mention of “geoengineering” sends a chill down my spine – we have already seen too many disasters caused by mankind’s attempts to “engineer” nature. Based on a million years of human experience, I believe adaptation is the best approach.

    • Jack Maloney, Please give some examples of geoengineering disasters — especially those that occurred a million years ago.

      • The Aral Sea. 3 Gorges. Turning the Mississippi into a culvert.

      • The concept of geoengineering (or climate engineering, climate remediation, and climate intervention) refers to the deliberate large-scale engineering and manipulation of the planetary environment to combat or counteract anthropogenic changes in atmospheric chemistry.
        To date, no large-scale geoengineering projects have been undertaken.

      • Jack Maloney

        Speed, if you will bother to read my post, I refer to “mankind’s attempts to “engineer” nature,” not specifically to geoengineering. Brian H. has referred to several – there are many more that have resulted in unintended and unfortunate consequences. Our understanding of climate is all too incomplete, and its influence on life too great, to allow anyone to start tinkering with it.

      • Jack, since we are nature. any engineering we do is natural. A beaver pond has different consequences for different inhabitants, yet that is fine because a beaver did it?

      • Add cane toads in Australia, possums in New Zealand to the list of geo-engineering schemes hat have backfired

      • Add the whole undoing of the mess made in the Everglades by turning natural waterways into unnatural canals.

      • Do unnatural canals help in improving peoples’ living? Most natural is for human beings equal to animals live in caves, eat raw, on foot, covered with sheep skins (thats unnatural).

      • Speed,
        Perhaps you did not realize that Jack’s point is that humans have a million years of good experience in adaptation. Add the lower Colorado river, the Nile below Aswan dam, etc. to the list of mixed blessings that geo-engineering involves.

      • Here is an example: In 1950ies Israel drained the Hula lake and swamp in order to create arable land. Turns out the dry peat bed of the swamp isn’t good for agriculture, and, moreover, tends to burn, to produce wildfires in the dry season. These are “unintended” consequences, which a better study could have foretold.
        Now, parts of the swamp has beed re-inundated. In the best of cases, this draining has been a vaste of resources, and has destroyed a natural wetland habitat for no benefit at all.

      • I note that an ultimately foolish action was reversible.

      • John Slayton

        Australian rabbits?

  5. an interesting theme from the book “collapse” by Jared Diamond (keep reading) is that coal mining is much more sensitive to environmental issues than “hard-rock” mining.


    IMO concepts like “demon coal” don’t help. Anthropomorphizing energy stuff doesn’t help in general. As Judith said above, coal = more carbon and more particulates. Except that the particulate problem is much easier to solve. Shutting down older, urban coal fired plants is good though.

    • Colorado Springs has an old coal fired power station at its city center with shops and residential area next to it. People there do not seem to have bad health or short lives (EPA lies based on hypothesis). Streets and buildings do not seem to be dirtier than any big cities. If you have time, go there and take a look and compare with any cities you have known without urban coal fired power stations.

  6. Expect a skewed presentation towards CAGW. CBC is king of the leftist media in Canada.
    Agree with Joe’s World. I too live in Ontario and Premier Mcguinty has bent us over and given us a new one with the Green Energy initiative. Ontario has one of, if not the highest, energy costs in North America.

    • Agreed. The libs handed a big fat pile of free money to wealthy people that can install mid-sized solar arrays on their property to sell the power back to the province, then put the screws to the everyday rate payers.

    • God did not put McGuinty in that position. The good/dumb folks of Ontario did that. Life with democracy means… blame the electors, not the elected.

    • Wayne Delbeke

      I listened to the program and it is totally free of the usual CBC left wing bias. It was actual fair and well presented. I even sent kudos to the CBC for presenting a program that was actually even handed and had good suggestions … and sent the web address off to some of my CAGW friends. Take time to listen, it is quite good IMHO.

  7. “Regional strategies for reducing vulnerability to extreme weather events, climate variability, and change.”

    I would think mitigate land use changes that impact climate, increase vulnerability to weather and climate events.

    Coal disfigures the landscape? Use Google Earth sometime and compare coal mining disfigurement to agricultural, urban and suburban disfigurement.

    • Captain, after I came to Australia in 1979, I saw and believed masses of media propaganda about mining damage to the environment. I then discovered (a) that the area mined in this continent is less than the area covered by hotels; and (b) the local industry is a world leader in post-mining remediation – even in the 1980s I saw excellent examples of flourishing post-mining environments. The demonisation of mining, at least in Australia, does not withstand scrutiny.

      • PS: I grew up in North East England, for long a major source of coal from both deep underground and open cast mining. I visit every few years and can’t see any serious environmental degradation.

        One trip down a narrow-seam mine (crawling into two-feet/600 mm seams to hack coal) was enough for me, happily those days are over as extraction became uneconomic.

      • I have to chuckle.

        “Uneconomic extraction” is a euphemism for peak coal.

        The extraction is economic as long as one does not have to put back in position displaced mountain-tops, as in West Virginia. You see, as much energy would be used in fighting gravity to recreate the mountain as energy one gains from the mined coal.

      • Actually, the majority of the ‘surface mined’ coal in the US comes from Wyoming – 430 million tons.

        In West Virgina ‘surface mining’ accounts for about 50 million tons of a total of 130 million tons.

        Of course a picture of surface mining in Wyoming against a desolate and barren landscape doesn’t evoke the kind of ’emotional response’ the ‘anti-coal’ crowd wants.

      • “uneconomic extraction” better describes energy extracted from wind and sun.

  8. ‘Mining it disfigures the earth’
    Romantic. The Romans used to use the water spray method to mine silver in Cornwall. Slaves would divert rivers and erode away huge swathes of hillsides, pockmarking the landscape with pools, gravel beds and scarred hills.
    These areas now are designated area of outstanding natural beauty, they are also protected as they provide a unique ecological niche in England where generally rare species are abundant.
    Each disfigurement of the Earth not only perturbs an ecology, but also creates one.

    • Give two or three thousand years you can cover up anything


        Land reclamation is more on the order of a decade than a millennium, you are right, all mining should be shut down, it is dangerous and disfigures the landscape.

      • But Eli, as far as we know, the Sistine Chapel could only be created by the natural hand of mankind. Who is to say that where it sits would have been better off if the Chapel had never been built. The wonder and the raising of the soul that the Chapel brings to Humanity is on the same level as that from sitting on a precipice and gazing to the stars.

      • So really, what’s your point? The great rusting hulks of windmills will somehow be attractive at some point in the future?

      • Windmills and solar farms are now major disfigurments. They could slow down the Earth roatation as well. The slow down is more significant than CO2’s effect on climate.

      • re “Windmills:

        “They could slow down the Earth roatation as well. The slow down is more significant than CO2′s effect on climate.”

        The reason for a show like MST3000 is to laugh at sheer inanities on the movie screen. This blog commenting section is the equivalent. Long live Joel, the king of deadpan humor.

      • Web,
        How is that peak oil coming? I note that you don’t bring that up so much lately.

      • “Web,
        How is that peak oil coming? I note that you don’t bring that up so much lately.”

        I sit back and wait it out, as the model I worked out needs no further refinement. I am off doing other environmental modeling.

        You should really check out David Rutledge’s work on Peak Coal and its applicability to AGW. He is a professor of Electrical Engineering at CalTech who just did a drive-by comment praising Curry’s interview.

        Hunter, you are a great set-up man. A BJ to MJ.

      • Web,
        Rutledge seems to agree with my take on the interview.
        As to set up, as US oil production continues to grow daily, it takes a particular kind of arrogance to claim that their predictions about a peak in oil production need no revisiting. History has always left the joke on the Malthusians, You know, Swift’s essay was also a nice review on models vs. reality.

      • The great thing about having a good model is that other people can check to see how it works and reevaluate as necessary. Maybe you want to get cracking?

      • Web,
        The history of predictions regarding peak oil is well documented.
        that you are defending yours even as reality disproves it says more about your faith than mine.

      • Hunter thinks that oil companies randomly drill bore holes to search for oil. In fact, they use scientific and statistical methods to determine where to look. I have simply reverse engineered many of those mehods to determine how much volume they have covered, and then used compartment modeling to estimate extraction rates.

        Apparently Hunter thinks that engineering is faith or something like that. It’s one of those “why people believe weird things” deals.

      • At least one problem with your model (from your brief description, anyway) is that you assume that a volume, once searched, is exhausted. But that is incorrect. When a volume is searched, it isn’t searched for “any oil,” it is searched for “commercially produceable oil.”

        For example, at one time, only reserves that were at least 20′ thick were commercially produceable. That is because the hardware that produces the oil costs money, and money has a time value. Consequently, the rate of production needs to be sufficiently large to justify the expense of running a well. This is why there are thousands of wells that were simply capped off and abandoned, despite the fact that there was still oil in them. Anyway, the rate of production was once generally proportional to the thickness of the reserve. (I’m oversimplifying, since there are other factors to consider, such as water tunnelling, but you get the idea.) Anyway, the development of directional drilling in the 90s made is possible to commercially produce oil reserves that were as thin as 3′. Reserves that did not show up as “proven reserves” were transformed into prover reserves–as good as having the Earth produce new oil! (Which, by the way, it might be doing…but I don’t need to go into the non-biogenic oil theory here.)

        Likewise, fracking has been converting shale oil from trash into produceable oil. The march of technology keeps “discovering” new produceable oil. Assuming the non-biogenic theory is wrong (as it probably, but not certainly, is), we will eventually run out. But it won’t be anywhere near as soon as the peak oil models keeps telling us.

      • That’s all well and good. Now try to quantify what you just described. I did and you apparently didn’t, otherwise you should have probably given a link to your work.

        And the fact that Qbeamus even broaches the subject of abiotic oil shows that he is way off the deep-end.

      • WHT

        You’re a Malthusian? When did that happen?

        Have you been demanding the population be cut to 3 million Britons?

        Are you advocating Famine, War, Plague and Pestilence as Mankind’s four greatest friends in Nature?

        What is it you’ve done to earn the epithet of the week?

    • Everytime I see an ant hill or a beaver damn. I smile.
      It’s our destiny to reshape the earth. were diggers and damers.
      what kind of animal questions what it does naturally.

      • The animal whose home was dug up / flooded? ;)

      • Hilarious! As I’ve watch the myriad environmental restoration projects here in the PNW US, I can’t help but think they’re just another way to satisfy the human “beavering” instinct. Build dams, tear them down; restore the rivers to a “natural” state, develop the desert with windfarms. Pave over creeks, then dig them up again; new urban land use restrictions, more rural development.

      • I especially like the Damers Steve!

      • steven,
        I did not know beavers cursed. ;^)

  9. Judith, you write “2.modelling and subjective judgments must substitute extensively for estimates based upon experience with actual events and outcomes.”

    But you still wont test your hypothesis about the relationship between open water in the Arctic and snowfall. I suspect this is a case of you can take a horse to the water, but you cnat make it drink.

  10. Edits:
    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
    climate change in the context of regional vulnerabilities.

    “Ideas” has a long and noble past. Don’t know if it’s still up to the mark. We’ll see.

  11. Coal Kills

    Mining coal is an extremely dangerous occupation which kills immediately in explosions or cave ins, or slowly from various chronic diseases, mining coal despoils the surface of the earth with the ash, runoff and residue, burning coal fouls the air

    A trifecta!

    • Eli

      I suggest you tell that to the Chinese who are scheduled to burn nearly 50% of all coal mined in the world by 2020.

      • The Chinese problem is not just a growth problem,it is entrained by western companies constrained by local environmental,and regulatory costs,exporting production to poorly regulated regimes.

        The effect is enhanced local environments,with significant local economic costs such as payroll,balance of trade asymmetry and loss of taxation for central governments.

        This redistribution does not solve problems it transforms problems into other geographical areas and say into the economic arena.

      • That’s too easy and too political an answer. China is using the west to stimulate its growth, but it still needs energy, regardless of the west’s needs, to grow its own economy.

        In China, coal will lead the way (followed by nuclear, etc.), regardless…

        You can’t blame a nation or an ideology; you can blame people’s need for energy! Let’s face it, energy improves people’s lives.

      • No the problem is firmly entrenched,how can we solve the global problem without the cost of economic damage.

        The OECD report highlights the problem,then offers no resonable solutions.

        15/03/2012 – As countries struggle with the immediate challenges of stretched public finances and high unemployment, they must not neglect the longer term. Action needs to be taken now to prevent irreversible damage to the environment.,3746,en_21571361_44315115_49897570_1_1_1_1,00.html

      • They know full well. Over 2000 deaths per year (and that is a 100% improvement). You could google it.

      • How many prisoners in China, are shot and then have their organs harvested each year. Google that, too.

      • And no one died building the railways; and no one died building dams; and no one died developing energy, in North America. If you scale up based on population size, I think you might find some equivalence. Though, I’m almost certain, you can’t google it…

      • Mining is a dangerous job, nearly as dangerous as fishing and farming.

      • Driving is dangerous too! Eating is more dangerous than mining. …

      • And no one ever died from doing chemistry over the centuries, eh?

      • Tru dat

      • Yes, we have. Science says so.

        Don’t hold your breath.

      • Few people would argue that cheap energy is not beneficial or that it would be better to have shortage of energy than enough energy.

        That’s, however, not enough to prove that replacing some part of low direct cost energy supply by another source of higher direct cost could not be beneficial as well. Actually all or at least most solutions that have been used to reduce the environmental damage from the use of coal have caused costs while it’s widely accepted that the benefits of some of the environmental improvements have been larger.

        Serious attempts of estimating the external costs of various forms of energy (and coal in particular) have given high enough values to conclude that those energy sources should not be used even with present favored technology. The estimates are controversial enough for being contested, but the conclusions depend on details not a general principle that restricting the use of coal cannot ever be justified.

      • And no one ever froze to death because they couldn’t afford heat, have they?

      • Man in Bay City Michigan did 2 years ago.

      • Much has been made of the heat wave in Europe in early August 2003, which killed 35,000 people,
        with 2,000 deaths in the UK.9 Yet, each year more than 25,000 people die in the UK from cold.10 It
        can be estimated that every year more than 200,000 people die from excess heat in Europe.11 It is
        reasonable to estimate that each year about 1.5 million people die from excess cold in Europe.12
        This is more than seven times the total number of heat deaths.13 Just in this millennium Europe have
        lost more than 10 million people to the cold, 300 times the iconic 35,000 heat deaths from 2003.
        That we so easily forget these deaths and so easily embrace the exclusive worry about global
        warming tells us of a breakdown in our sense of proportion.

      • Tru dat too!

      • Jim

        I’ve been all through the mortality records for the UK. The most deaths from hypothermia, that is exposure to cold, in any year amount to less than a rounding error on the 25,000 number you claim.

        Not that I don’t trust your numbers, but, well, they’re flat out ludicrous.

        Most deaths related to cold weather have to do more with breakdowns due sudden extreme storms, not poverty nor the price of fuel.

        Heat kills orders of magnitude more people than cold, almost everywhere, almost every year.

      • Bart, this was presented to Congress and is footnoted with the references.
        “Perspective on Climate Change
        Prepared by Bjørn Lomborg, adjunct professor at Copenhagen Consensus Center, Copenhagen
        Business School for the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality joint hearing with the
        Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Science and Technology on
        Wednesday March 21, 2007.”

        These numbers are for Europe, not just the UK. Nice try though.

      • Oh Jim

        First, Lomborg was caught out on this testimony, and repudiated.

        Second, are you saying you think everything that happens in Congress is true? Srsly?

        Third, “Yet, each year more than 25,000 people die in the UK from cold.” Direct quote, cited by you. Not all of Europe. UK. Which I’ve examined the death records to check. They’re available online for the years in question.

        Lomborg’s source for his 25,000 figure? “(BBC Annon., 2006)”

        The number is simply so bombastically absurd as to not even be wrong, and sourced in some nonspecific impossible to confirm vague reference to a radio or television program sometime in the course of the year 2006.

        Check for yourself from first sources.

        If you think there were 25,000 deaths in any year due to cold in the UK prior to 2006 (or since!), name them all.

        No? Not 100%?

        Name 2,500, with the dates they died.

        No? Not 10%?

        Name 250. No? Not 1%

        Name 25 deaths from hypothermia in the UK in a single year due to being too poor to afford to heat one’s home.

        Not even 0.1%?

        Because it didn’t ever happen.

        It’s a fiction. A lie. A repudiated lie. A repeatedly disproven and repudiated lie.

        Check it out. I want those 25 names and dates.

      • An icy cold blast accompanied by heavy snowfalls and gusty winds persists in Europe,in just two weeks over 480 deaths reported , mostly in the east of the continent. The most affected country so far is Ukraine, where more than 136 people died by Tuesday.

      • Table 3 US deaths due to weather-related events, 1979–2002. Sources: for extreme events, see text; for total all-cause mortality, USCB (2004).

        Cumulative deaths
        Deaths per year
        Percent of annual all-cause deaths
        Extreme cold (XC) 16,313 680 0.031%
        Extreme heat (XH) 8,589 358 0.016%

      • he number of extra deaths occurring in England and Wales last winter fell despite the coldest weather for 14 years.

        Figures from the Office of National Statistics show there were an estimated 25,400 extra deaths.

        Age UK, the charity that campaigns for the elderly, said the figures seem to show some improvement.

        But it said it was still unacceptable that tens of thousands of old people die as a result of cold weather.

      • Like I said before, take away the coal plants and see how many people die from that.

      • Jim,

        Thanks to the EPA’s extremes (emission controls have gone too far), many GW of old coal plants are already schedule to be closed down in the coming months starting as early as June this year. Be prepared for the blackouts during June, July and August Electricity Peaks. If anyone has any senior rely on electricity to supply medical needs, prepared to have standby generators or prepared to die. Thanks to Hansen, Trenberth, Mann and those alarmists successful propaganda to send the old and the weak to heaven early so that our governments can save some money on medical care so to pay for the climate modeling research!

      • “An icy cold blast accompanied by heavy snowfalls and gusty winds persists in Europe,in just two weeks over 480 deaths reported , mostly in the east of the continent. The most affected country so far is Ukraine, where more than 136 people died by Tuesday.

        Jim, You are losing it.

        You report on this news story which is one month old, putting it in the middle of winter. Bad reporting, shame on you.

        Then you place a link to that report in which you put cumulative numbers for the USA, whereas the yearly numbers are several hundred per year. This is meager, just as Bart called you out. Again shame on you.

        I know how most of the anecdotal reports of extreme cold deaths occur, having enjoyed a cold climate my entire life. So the typical end is met when the drunk rolls out of the bar, passes out, and then freezes to death. One river-situated bar has the repeated case of the drunks pissing off the pier and then falling onto the river bank. Freezing or accident? Or the snowmobiler making runs between taverns and running out of juice in the middle of a farm field. Or the snowmobiler trying to clear open water, falling in, crawling out, but then freezing to death. The end stages of hypothermia are an incredible feeling of warmth and many times the people are found without clothes on. The other classes of cases are the old guy going out to retrieve his mail on too cold a day, and not making it back because he slipped and couldn’t get back up. Or the Alzheimer’s patients who get confused and found frozen to death. And then all the CO poisoning which gets misclassified, the guy falls asleep in the garage waiting for his car to warm up. And the occasional street bums that are found frozen to death (not many street people in northern climates for this reason). Not very interesting stuff, but just so you know. I am just annoyed that you are so incredibly manipulative about this subject matter.

        I feel like Fred Moolten discussing this because it is not what I want to discuss, yet there you go ….. I will wait for all the members of the hatriarchy to pile on.

      • Jim

        Ah.. “statistical” deaths.

        Extra winter deaths.

        Because winter is cold, and fuel has a price, ergo the _price_ of fuel is responsible for extra deaths!

        Oh now there’s logic Sherlock Holmes could not fault. (Here’s a hint, that last sentence, the one with the Conan Doyle character in it? That’s sarcasm.)

        Every winter.

        Nothing to do with increasing hours of darkness, or the coming and going of the fiscal year end and tax season, or the coincident germ season (which, by the way, much worse in warmer countries that don’t have chilly winters to blame the deaths on).. no, no.

        Despite lacking any shred of actual mechanism, proof, commonsense or otherwise, despite mounds of evidence to the contrary from warm countries with exactly the same pattern of seasonal variability in mortality, these _statistical_ deaths must be caused by the price of coal!

        More antirational a claim could not be made. It is a spectacular example of its type of Error. I thank you for furnishing me with this vaulting example, should I ever need a case of leaping to the wrong conclusion to refer to.

      • Bart said:

        “… or the coincident germ season (which, by the way, much worse in warmer countries that don’t have chilly winters to blame the deaths on).. no, no.”

        Yes indeed, this is reaching Freakonomics levels of absurdity. That report of UK extra deaths is a priceless bit of statistical shenanigans. The excess deaths are apparently the deviations from average yearly mortality. So a warmer winter may kill fewer old people because of the lack of a strong flu season. But that lower level of excess deaths will have to rebound in successive years because people eventually die and there is no known cure for death . The excess deaths are therefore ultimately balanced by years that have a shortage of deaths to maintain an average mortality level set by life expectancy and the current population.

        This likely explains the 25,000 number and it is just as absurd as you pointed out, but now we have a good handle of where it came from.

      • You guys can twist this any way you please. But the fact is that cheap energy, from coal or elsewhere, is extremely beneficial. As Eli has shown, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

      • Jim

        We’ve been through this before, in past months.

        You repeat the ridiculous “subsidizing coal saves 25,000 British lives” lie, you get corrected, you amend to some softened stance along the lines of “Subsidized carbon is good for everybody! Eli Rabbett says it’s so, so it must be true!”

        It’s a tired charade.

        You’re confusing efficient energy, which leads to true economic improvement like a rising tide that lifts all boats, with the inefficiency of government intervention in the Market, using the command and control power of taxation and megaprojects and the boot heel of legislative interference in negotiations and trade.

        They’re not the same thing.

        You can get the short term illusion of cheap something, but there’s no free lunch, Jim.

        You can’t make something cheap by failing to price a limited resource that goes into its use, or by subsidy and handouts from the governments’ coffers, or by building the table lopsided so deals roll the way your friends and backers want.

        The sooner you stop believing whatever the BBC, and mouthpieces of collective action like Lomborg and McKitrick, try to sell you, the sooner you start to think for yourself, the sooner you’ll stop running around in circles at their behest and for their sole benefit, against your own interests.

      • Hospitals are among the most dangerous places in America. Doctors are among the most dangerous people in America. Pharmaceutical companies kill tens of thousands!
        Let’s ban them all!

      • k scott denison

        Yep, and driving kills over 35,000 per year in the US, so guess we should ban to too.

        Except, like coal energy, driving also has the BENEFIT of enabling many lives to be saved and enriched.

        Life is all about BENEFIT/RISK ratios. Both coal energy and driving have sky high B/R ratios..

      • I can hardly wait until “they” force governments to invoke the Precautionary Principle more universally. As there is no cost/benefit calculation or comparison inherent in the PP, virtually everything would be shut down. Um, would that be the objective of the PP?

      • Mark F –
        “As there is no cost/benefit calculation or comparison inherent in the PP, virtually everything would be shut down. Um, would that be the objective of the PP?”


    • Sex Kills!

      Having sex provides a soft tissue entry into ones body for lethal viruses, like HIV or HPV.
      Sex also causes to pregnancy and childbirth is one of the leading causes of premature death in women.
      Regulate sex, with the long term aim of eliminating it at the international level. Start off with some sort of voucher system.

    • The Rabett, by focusing on the costs of coal, typifies the ignorance of the AGW beleivers.

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      Eli Rabett: Coal Kills

      Coal saves

      in England and in China, the total aggregate wealth created from coal mining and coal burning produced longer lifespans and lower infant mortality.

      • The miners died, the owners got rich.

        The miners still die and the owners still get rich. toujour gai

      • So now we have giant piles of coal. Oh, what’s that, someone burned them to do things. I’m sure only those owner guys benefited.

      • Eli,

        Miners mine, owners own. Mining can be dangerous. Owning an enterprise can make you rich. Life is hard.

        What are you trying to say?

      • John another

        Owning can make you poor.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Eli Rabbett: The miners died, the owners got rich.

        More people lived longer than died sooner. Take back the coal from China immediately, then more people will die sooner than live longer. Is this your preference?

      • This is greenies preference – rather see poverty and people died so that they can live better. They are insensitive fabricating AGW and distorted science.

      • Poverty also make the populace dependent on the government.

      • Eli,
        I understand you are involved in policy making the Bay area. I sincerely hope you are not using the abilities to analyze in the real world that you are offering a glimpse of here.

      • k scott denison

        Those who TOOK THE FINANCIAL RISK prospered, yes. The miners also took a risk, one that was voluntary.

        Or do you believe miners ar forced at gunpoint into the mines?

      • Eli –
        Until 1950, most of the males in my family were miners. None of them died in the mines. None of them got “black lung. And because of the jobs they held, even through the Great Depression, they raised their families, who did not starve. Their part of the bargain was the jobs whether anyone else got rich was not their problem or their concern. Nor is it yours.

    • Demonizing is not helping, not even the cause. Life kills. How much energy do you consume?

  12. Judith, I think your should broaden your scope a little, and begin specifically demanding significant, if not equal, time for the counter-hypothesis that warming and CO2 are both beneficial and to be encouraged. The prima facie evidence, after all, is all on that side.

  13. The unfortunate title reveals that this program is heavily biased. Typical of the CBC. They have a poor reputation for very biased journalistic radio. But the cultural programs are actually good.

  14. If the Sun does not wake up soon, the CBC going to need a pretty big volcano to cover its tracks.
    I read one of the CBCs ‘ Learning English with CBC’ lessons that specify:

    “Climate change and global warming are two terms which describe the same thing”

    Yep, that’s right, to the CBC they mean the same thing,

    They are not the same. Climate Change is something that has been on for over a billion years, Global Warming is what brings the Earth out of an Ice Age.

    They are not ‘terms which describe the same thing’ and it is reprehensible that they would teach such an error to people learning English.

    Learning English with CBC –

  15. One of the most unfortunate effects of all the climate ‘alarmism’ (“5 years to StP”) was that we were bounced into disastrous policy decisions.

    The worst was that the “fundamental research that may lead to unanticipated applications” was downgraded in favour of any old rubbish that could be palmed off as ‘low-carbon’ (wind, solar), minus the one mature energy source that would work, but was anathema to the Green lobbies (“Demon Nukes”).

    Meanwhile, fusion was not mentioned by the US President in his speech praising pond scum, and the ITER international ‘big’ fusion effort has been delayed fo so long that the cost of the materials just to build it have doubled in the commodity boom!

    We don’t half make life difficult for ourselves (with a lot of help from the Greens).

  16. China is continuing to install one to two large coal fired power plants per week as it rapidly develops. See: China Coal update

    While some politicians believe they must “spit into the hurricane”, I see the rapidly looming shortages of transport fuels to be far more critical to address.

    Lloyds of London warned of a global fuel shortages by 2012-2015

    westexas (Jeff Brown ) updates with:

    Average annual decline in Available Net Exports (GNE less Chindia’s net imports), 2005 to 2010: 1,000,000 bpd per year***

    ***I estimate that the volumetric annual ANE decline rate will increase to between 1,400,000 bpd and 2,000,000 bpd per year between 2010 and 2020.

    The 1 million barrel/day reduction each year caused oil prices to increase from ~ $20/bbl to > $100/bbl.
    What increase in prices will doubling that rate of rising shortages in export fuels?

    Newt Gingrich appears to be the only candidate who really grasps a glimmer of the enormity of our situation and is proposed to redress it.

    When North Korea lost is subsidized fuel on the collapse of the Soviet Union, it no longer had to the diesel fuel to transport coal from its mines to the fertilizer factories. The farmers lost their tractor fuel, their tractor parts, and their fertilizer. On top of that they had massive flooding.
    Consequence? About one million deaths from famine.
    See North Korea: Linking Fuel to Famine

    Now, why were we talking about “Demon coal”?

  17. Dr. Curry,
    Wow. This is a level of honesty on the part of the CBC that is sadly lacking in much of media.
    Your responses are spot on: reasoned and reasonable and well communicated.
    If anything good can come out of the AGW social mania, it will be because gutsy and effective academics like you lit the way first.

  18. Man’s contribution to all greenhouse gases: 0.28%

    Wator Vapor accounts for 95% of all greenhouse gases.

    CO2 accounts for just 3.5% of all greenhouse gases, most of which is Natural

    99.72% of all greenhouse gases are … Natural

    Based on concentrations
    (ppb) adjusted for heat
    retention characteristics……..% of All……% Natural….% Man-made

    Water vapor……………………..95.000%…..94.999%……0.001%
    Carbon Dioxide (CO2)…………..3.618%……..3.502%…..0.117%
    Methane (CH4)……………………0.360%……..0.294%…..0.066%
    Nitrous Oxide (N2O)……………..0.950%……..0.903%…..0.047%
    Misc. gases ( CFC’s, etc.)………0.072%…….0.025%……0.047%


    ” There is no dispute at all about the fact that even if punctiliously observed, (the Kyoto Protocol) would have an imperceptible effect on future temperatures — one-twentieth of a degree by 2050. ”

    Dr. S. Fred Singer, atmospheric physicist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and former director of the US Weather Satellite Service; in a Sept. 10, 2001 Letter to Editor, Wall Street Journal

  19. Steve McIntyre

    I live in Ontario. Coal is a very small percentage of electrical power here. Ontario’s energy is more than 50% nuclear. Ontario also has long experience in nuclear engineering. Instead of focusing on this strength, the current government has invested heavily in uneconomic wind energy,

    Ontario’s electricity demand is largest in summer, when median efficiency from a large wind farm (the statistics of which I looked at) is about 7% and is at 0% about 25% of the time – unfortunately on the hot still days when we need the electricity. On the few days when the wind farms produce to capacity, we have to pay nearby utilities to absorb the power.

    It’s a classic case of the desire to “do something” overwhelming the need to do something sensible. Ontario also has important employment in rust belt industries, like its neighbors, Michigan, Ohio and upstate New York and is facing very difficult fiscal choices. The consequences of poor choices on wind are now beginning to bite.

    • John Carpenter

      Making what end up as poor choices in the name of ‘doing something’ happens too often…. it’s just in the case of energy production, it plays out on a big stage for all to see.

      I see energy policy making decisions, like this one, largely being made solely through the lens of environmental/climate impact rather than through a number of additional channels necessary to make sense.

      Consider a company that uses a toxic material important to the functionality of the product. The material works very well, but due to it’s toxicity during the application process, it exposes the workers to a health hazard. However, once the material is applied, it poses no health hazard to anyone who comes in contact with it thereafter. The EH&S personnel for the company decide the material is too risky to use and want to ‘do something about it’…. to eliminate the use of the material at the company because it is the easiest thing to do. In most cases, this type of problem is brought to the attention of the management of the company to deal with. Let’s say they take EH&S’s analysis under careful consideration, but before management makes a wholesale decision to eliminate the material they have to consult another department important to making the best decision. They need to contact engineering to determine if it is possible to replace the material with a ‘safer’ product and still to the same job, if not better, than the original material…. at the same cost or….. cheaper. This is almost always the starting position. In addition, management would ask if there are ways to work more safely with the material to minimize or eliminate human exposure, especially if the material does a good job at an otherwise low cost. No material is changed until those questions are satisfactorily answered.

      In the case you describe, engineering was eliminated from the decision… and look what you got.

    • And Hydro power contributes another 25%. So 75% of Ontario’s electricity is already CO2-free. If we wanted 100%, we could: a) accept that NG can make up the gap and the <0.05% it adds to global CO2 emissions is noise; b) add a few reactors; c) buy Hydro power from Quebec; or d) all of the above. Unfortunately the current green-dominated government has decided to waste $B's more than the above on wind and solar…and still need Coal to provide 200-500MW of base power.

      Stop the insanity…

      • An Alaskan city has to drop waste from its fisheries into its water supply , then remove it all, so that it can reach federal standards for cleaning drinking water.

    • Latimer Alder

      In UK. most winters we get a long spell of very cold, very still weather as cold air from the East settles to block the usual stream of Atlantic depressions coming from the West.

      It is very cold (by our temperate standards) the days are short and this is usually the time of highest annual electricity demand (about 55GW)

      Back in January all our wind farms and all our subsidy and all the despoiling of our beautiful countryside produced less than 1% of our needs at this particularly needy time. We imported more electricity from French nuclear sources than we created from wind.

      The policy we are pursuing – reliance on wind for ‘energy security’ – is completely nuts.

      Luckily our previous Minister for Energy and Climate Change – a deeply unpleasant ideologue guy called Chris Huhne – has been forced out of office while awaiting trial for perverting the course of justice, and his successor Ed Davey is showing signs of a more realistic understanding of the science, the technology and the politics. Maybe in a year or so we will start to see the benefits.

      But we will have to live with the consequences of the wind madness for a long time yet.

  20. Political Junkie

    CBC, a government owned broadcaster, is also the publicity vehicle for David Suzuki who has for decades been feeding fact free alarmist hysteria to the scientifically illiterate at the taxpayers’ expense.

    Suzuki is the CBC’s “house alarmist” with a regular program called “The Nature of Things.”

    I expect Dr. Curry’s commentary to be heavily edited to support the warmist cause.

  21. “Government funding isn’t the sole answer; private sector and venture capital are important in spurring innovation.”

    Why should government funding even be considered? Government is not made up of entrepreneurs or venture capitalists who understand the concept of financial risk. The driving force behind innovation is the entrepreneur who not only employs risk capital, but has the focus and energy to overcome the inevitable problems, technical or financial, as they arise.

    The Federal Government is made up of risk averse people who are not in the private sector for a reason. However, they feel perfectly safe in risking somebody else’s money. The purpose of Government is not to force markets. Government is well advised to keep away from market decisions. That way we will have fewer Solyndras, Chevy Volts, and hopefully, no more Fisker Automotive’s funded by American taxpayers for the benefit of Finland.

  22. The precautionary principal has taken a big hit recently with technological developments in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracing”) that now permits the “economic” extraction of oil and gas from shale. Fracing, which has been around for decades, has recently had a resurgence because of recent improvements in horizontal drilling, which a few non-integrated oil & gas corporations like Chesapeake (CHK) and Devon (DEV), not the government, matched with the older, and now vastly improved fracing technology. This has opened up a tremendous economic opportunity for Americans, without a dime of taxpayer money being spent.

    Estimates of our shale oil and gas reserves are just enormous (more than 100 years of natural gas at current usage rates and growing) and our huge shale oil reserves may equal the conventional oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. In addition, ExxonMobil has been working on technology to unlock hydrocarbons in “tight rock” formations, which will add, if the technology is ultimately commercially successful, substantial additional hydrocarbon reserves to our fossil fuel inheritance, again without a dime of taxpayer money being spent.

    These developments are so exciting that the Chinese are spending billions to purchase interests in those American corporations that are the leaders in this technology (e.g., CHK), and the Norweigan, French and the integrated oil majors like Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron have also purchased interests in or entire corporations with acreage in the major known shale deposits. The Chinese want our technology because they might have even larger deposits of shale gas. This has dramatically driven down the price of natural gas in the American market, and, if world reserves are as large as some experts are predicting (Argentina in another with large shale deposits), will drive down the world price of this fossil fuel. This has made the precautionary principal far more costly. (My suspicion is that the astronomic price forecasts for crude, and peak oil, are much further down the road than current conventional wisdom currently estimates.)

    When the cost of insuring against a risk comes anywhere near the cost of the risk being insured against, it makes no sense to buy insurance. The cost of insuring against the risk of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming has just taken a huge increase, because one element of that insurance is the opportunity cost of not developing these fossil fuel resources with all of the wealth, tax, lease and royalty revenues they can generate, in addition to their part in keeping our entire manufacturing and service industries cost structure competitive and the American citizen’s cost of living affordable.

    Two additional points:
    1.) A large part of our fossil fuel inheritance lies under federal lands and offshore and is currently out-of-bounds for development. A relatively small number of people have imposed this decision on the American people without their full knowledge.
    2.) In order to survive in a world of constant change and technological development, corporations must be quick to change as well, and cannot allow ideology to cloud or influence their thinking. If they do they simply perish. Government, on the other hand, are not so constrained because they do not perish, they just slowly, almost imperceptibly decline, especially a government blessed with a reserve currency like ours. That decline will be pinned on many different things depending upon which political party is creating the advertisement, but even something as important as whether or not our energy policy was a large contributor will only be left to historians to figure out. Neither the governments of Australia nor Canada possess a reserve currency, so they can’t print money with abandon, like we can. Consequently, they are like large corporations in the sense that they need to make rational economic decisions far more quickly and robustly. Both are developing their fossil fuel inheritances far more robustly than we are, although both suffer from the same ideological silliness that we do.

  23. JC: “We can’t predict the actual future states.” That’s it! That one very correct assertion is the fulcrum that should rightly (politics and vested interests not withstanding) shift not only the direction but the even the very polarity of the discussion. We have to pay proper obeisance to what we don’t know before we can accurately value what we know. This is the primary theme of 2000+ years of western thought on logic, epistemology and (meta) physics, from which the “scientific method” derives. I am literally thrilled to see this one declarative sentence from a source with credibility and voice. – Thank you.

  24. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) program “Demon Coal”
    mentioned in Judith Curry’s article is already available on CBC Radio’s website at:

    There is a slight pause while the CBC website pages its way to the audio recording.

  25. Fred from Canuckistan

    Let’s see . . “Demon Coal”. Has to objective with that kind of title.

    Up here in the Great White North the CBC – or as we like to think of it the Canadian Broadcorping Castration, has been chugging greenie koolaide for so long they have actually come to believe the An Inconvenient Truth – which they have aired dozens of times, is a factually correct film. The CBC has paid a small fortune to the infamous Dr. Suzuki to preach Gaia religion and continues to peddle hysterical climate change fear mongering on a daily basis.


  26. Willis Eschenbach

    I loved the video of the two sheets of fabric. However, I fear you went a bridge too far when you say:

    I thought the video was a good metaphor for the uncertainty in predicting future climate. While we can’t predict the position of the fabric at any instant, we can put bounds on the possible locations of the fabric.

    This claim has been repeated over and over by the AGW adherents. However, I am unaware of even one study that supports that idea. And in fact, I suspect that they had to set up and readjust the exact details of the fans a number of times before they were able to get the sheets to fly. And this, in turn, suggests that we know a whole lot less about boundaries than the flying fabric would indicate.

    So Judith, I fear I’m going to have to be a pest and ask you for some evidence (not model results but evidence) that your claim is true.

    The usual way that this claim is made is that the climate is a “boundary problem” rather than an “initial state problem”. However, to solve a “boundary problem” we need to know exactly what the boundaries will be in say fifty years.

    And as far as I know, we don’t even know what the so-called “boundaries” are today, much less fifty years from now.

    This is an extremely important question, Judith, which is why I was disappointed to see you treat it like … well, I hate to say it, but like it was “settled science”.

    My best to you,


    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      Willis Eschenbach: I loved the video of the two sheets of fabric.

      I agree with your post. The best analogy remains the comparison of June to December in northern temperate zones: we can’t predict the weather on any day of either month, but we can confidently predict that December nights will be cooler than June nights. It’s possible that we shall be able to predict that the global distribution of temperatures will be shifted higher 30 years from now, even though we shall not be able to predict weather, but it hasn’t been demonstrated yet that any such prediction will be accurate.

      • On what time scale are you making your prediction? Rotational wobble, which has slowed or stopped temporarily, changes the hemispherical summer and winters. December has been warmer than June in the past and will likely be again in the future. Unlikely other orbital parameters, wobble and tilt are mainly influenced by internal conditions.

        The two sheets of fabric will end up either balled up on the floor or outside the vortex. Their current state does not help in determining their future state. Kinda downplays the value of statistical analysis for a short time period..

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Matt, I’ve never understood the analogy with winter and summer. RealClimate used to use that one as well, as though it proved something.

        Sure, we can say winter will be warmer than summer. That means that there is one generally predictable cycle in the weather. However, this is neither a boundary nor an initial condition problem. It’s just a cycle.

        What does the existence of such a cycle say about “boundary conditions” or predictability? That’s the part I don’t understand. I don’t see how it enhances, or even changes, the chances of predicting e.g. the climate of the next decade.


      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Willis Eschenbach: Matt, I’ve never understood the analogy with winter and summer.

        It demonstrates that it is possible to predict the distribution of the states of the climate system even when you can’t predict the states. Say for the sake of argument that Scafetta’s model proves to be accurate; it predicts the distribution of temperatures shifting up and down, without predicting the actual temperature anywhere at any time. If the IPCC projections were accurate, we’d have the mean shifting ever upward, and that might be something to worry about, even though we can not predict the temperature at any place and time.

        For June vs December, our prediction is based on a lot of historical evidence; for the future we have untested models only. So for June vs December we have reason to be confident, whereas for 2050 vs 2010 we don’t.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        That’s my point. Sure, if there are visible cycles in there, you can make comments based on those cycles. We can say that days are warmer than nights, for example.

        But that means nothing either way about a possible gradual increase due to CO2. Without a visible cycle, what are you going to use as your “boundary conditions” to allow you to forecast the future? That’s saying “we can predict if there are visible cycles, so that means we can predict if there are no visible cycles”. It’s a false analogy.

        You say “So for June vs December we have reason to be confident, whereas for 2050 vs 2010 we don’t.” I’d restate that as “for 2050 vs 2010 our winter/summer analogy is useless.”


      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Willis Eschenbach: I’d restate that as “for 2050 vs 2010 our winter/summer analogy is useless.”

        That is certainly possible, on present evidence. I’d say that the possibility of 2050 having stochastically higher temperatures than 2010, in line with IPCC projections, can not reasonably be ruled out. My doubts about the prospect grow by the year.

        I think you started by saying that you have “never understood the analogy” and then changed to saying that the analogy is “useless”.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Unjustifiable reasons like the two hundred dollar price tag for the book?


      • Jesus. Sounds like a pretty justifiable reason to me. By the way Steve Mosher, you never got back to me on your statement to the effect that “some of the models” are “on the high side.” I’ve not seen you spinning in the past, but this would seem to qualify.

        It’s my understanding that it’s easily *most* of the models predicting various AGW consequence that have been wrong. And “on the high side” seems to understate the errors.

      • steven mosher

        Sorry I missed you comment.

        The models range from a sensitivity of 2.1 to 4.4.
        They average 3.2
        If you want to figure out which ones are on the high side, go to Ar4.
        Or go download model results and see for yourself. Some are high
        a few are low. More accurately we can say that a majority are high
        which is how the mean of them ends up too high.

      • corporate message

        Would not the need for reasons to not read it, end with the first reason for not reading it ?.

      • Captain Kangaroo

        Having consulted Tim Palmer’s Lorenzian Meteorological Office

        ‘Prediction of weather and climate are necessarily uncertain: our observations of weather and climate are uncertain, the models into which we assimilate this data and predict the future are uncertain, and external effects such as volcanoes and anthropogenic greenhouse emissions are also uncertain. Fundamentally, therefore, therefore we should think of weather and climate predictions in terms of equations whose basic prognostic variables are probability densities ρ(X,t) where X denotes some climatic variable and t denoted time. In this way, ρ(X,t)dV represents the probability that, at time t, the true value of X lies in some small volume dV of state space. Prognostic equations for ρ, the Liouville and Fokker-Plank equation are described by Ehrendorfer (this volume). In practice these equations are solved by ensemble techniques, as described in Buizza.’ (Predicting Weather and Climate – Palmer and Hagedorn eds – 2006)

        Don’t ask me for the details – I mistook an ordinary differential equation for a form of lyric verse.

        But what is your point?

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • steven mosher

        Look for explanations of the difference between initial value problems and boundary value problems.

        Hint. I dont know what the weather will be like on wensday, but I know the summer will be hotter than the winter. While chaotic I know that next year the earth will be warmer than -90 ( if the sun is still around). When we add C02 we shift the boundary established by the requirement that energy out has to equal energy in over time. the trajectory to that boundary is wiggly all over the place.. but that boundary is real. two questions:

        1. what is trajectory to that boundary ( regional variation and temporal variation )
        2. What is the exact value?

        climate models suck at number 1 and can get better at number 2.

      • Climate models cannot do boundary value problems at all – it is in the nature of the math and the uncertainty of the data and the physics.

        You don’t know whether next summer wile be hotter than last or what albedo will be at any time. CO2 is one factor and a minor one.

    • corporate message

      Willis, here’s a video that touches on the subject and I thought that 1:40 or so it gets to it, where the professor shows the floating dancing model-thing of Korzybski’s

      If that interests you, then this, which touches on scientific language and it’s reliance on metaphor:


  27. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    Dr Curry: So there you have it: the enduring conflict between the environment and public health vs economic prosperity and development.

    I would add that economic prosperity is generally good for health, and that decreasing economic prosperity is generally bad for health, so the “conflict” is not that clear cut. The conflict arises when the people who benefit from the prosperity are not the same people who suffer the health effects of the pollution. Another problem is that some people who benefit from development do not realize how they benefit: the power plant that produces the pollution also produces the electricity for manufacturing medicines and vaccines and operating the hospitals. So the conflict isn’t simple, though it may be real.

    But if you complicate everything, you will sound like mush. So, …, best wishes.

  28. Greengravy Trainer: Hey Newcomen what have you got there?
    Newcomen: Its a water pump.
    Greengravy Trainer: So what will it achieve?
    Newcomen: Well it will make the mines safer and we can dig deeper to get out the minerals.
    Greengravy Trainer: Anything else?
    Newcomen: Well it’s got lots of possibilities, one day it may be used to transport goods by rail and by sea. If and when electricity is discovered it could be used to provide heat and light to homes.
    Greengravy Trainer: Newcomen that black stuff is coal, it’ll never catch on stick to making gates.

  29. I have now listened to Part I of Demon Coal. I thought it was excellent, and I congratulate you, Judith, on what you said. I recommend the hour long broadcast to anyone interested in CAGW. I must say my ideas on CBC bias have now changed radically. This was a very fair and balanced broadcast indeed.

    • I just listened to Part 1 myself – and it is definitely well worth a listen. I fully agree that Judith is to be congratulated for her input. And the program, as you say, Jim, was fair and balanced.

      Wonder how Bob MacDonald, CBC’s very alarmist “science” maven. is taking this. I doubt that he’ll be pleased;-)

      Don’t know if this signals a turning point in CBC’s overall climate coverage. But it was definitely good to hear. Here’s the link, again, for those who might have missed it up-thread:

  30. The problem with replacing coal with green energy technology is two-fold. First, consider large scale wind and solar power. Without large scale and efficient technology to store energy for when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining, it is not clear that existing wind and solar can be deployed to actually reduce carbon emission. This detailed engineering study of the problems of integrating wind power into an electric grid highlights the issue :

    ““Integrating erratic and unpredictable wind resources with established coal and natural gas generation resources requires PSCO to cycle its coal and natural gas-fired plants.3 Cycling coal plants to accommodate wind generation makes the plants operate inefficiently, which drives up emissions. Moreover, when they are not operated consistently at their designed temperatures, the variability causes problems with the way they interact with their associated emission control technologies, frequently causing erratic emission behavior that can last for several hours before control is regained. Ironically, using wind to a degree that forces utilities to temporarily reduce their coal generation results in greater SO2, NOX and CO2 than would have occurred if less wind energy were generated and coal generation were not impacted.”

    Second, a problem that somehow is frequently ignored in the policy debate is the “freeloader” issue. If western countries adopt green technologies, the relative price of fossil fuels will drop making fossil fuels even more attractive to countries that continue to rely upon them. Thus, one could reasonably expect that any reduction in CO2 emissions caused by green technologies, would, in part or in whole, be offset by an increase in CO2 emissions from countries that continue to rely on fossil fuels. Nuclear energy, while not having the storage problem of wind or solar, does have the same “freeloader” problem described above.

  31. Nothing wrong with burning coal for energy (if you need energy, don’t be a hypocrite – demonizing will bring nothing good).

    Particulates (or aerosols in general) are easily controlable, mining should be as clean as possible, ash can be a problem (but not wicked), fly ash is controlable by filters (el. or fabric), other pollutants like CO, NOx, HC etc can be almost zero. Combine electric with heating and efficiency is not bad. And we reduce Carbon too!

  32. Dr. C.,
    Finally! If I had to pick the single factor most responsible for my own skepticism, it would be the efforts on the part of the MSM and establishment scientists to deny that at least for some, warming is likely better. Any fair minded, thinking person should be able to see on this basis only if no other, that the discussion is not objective.

    You did a wonderful, wonderful job of explaining the complexities involved. People are going to have to start listening. They *are* starting to listen. This is Canadian Public Radio, no? If they’re anything like the BBC and NPR in their general attitude toward global warming, that they’d invite you to be interviewed is hugely significant in itself..

    • A little depth is called for here PG, this is just the Lomborg/Curry, Lindsey Graham/McCain false middle road positon being advocated because radical AGW is licked. “Demon Coal” what’s the first clue this is just moderate fence mending hoping to split skeptics and allow a graceful retreat of the “consensus” from the “world is going to end unless we get full control” political model??? Really, it just go backs to the Earth Day mantra’s and tries to marry pollution and CO2 in a narrative to pass on to the public. Grasping at straw.

      The basic framework the CO2 “matters” is preserved in all of these fictions. The basic transfer of power to polls and the usual minions is still involved. It’s simply AGW back to the incubator for another political age where more time and more money wasted all along the way.

      Skeptics have to face it, Dr. Curry is a status quo player. This isn’t the kind of reform you should sign on to. Backing away from Greenpeace and Al Gore fringes isn’t enough. We should be thinking about how to de-radicalize climate science at a root level. It leads to all sorts of questions about how we fund academics and research, that’s the true “Demon” in the story.

      Dr. Curry barely scratches the bias in specific terms. Rather than focus on
      radical AGW anger toward her you could focus the bigger picture of how she is preserving dangerous AGW policy. If you listen to “Demon Coal Part 1” for example you can hear Dr. Curry discussing lower energy costs through Alternative energy investment toward the end. This is a total political fiction and of course very much in the current policy debate. The Obama administration is completely invested in a higher unit energy price as a subside to the alternative energy fiction (Green special interests). This isn’t complicated or in fact very debatable. So I find much of the discussion of “wicked problems” and “complexity” just more junk science food for the masses and talking points for the Climate Gridlock Preservation Society (CGPS) of which Dr.Curry is a leading member. “No regrets” is a tool of gridlock and disinformation. She’s running interference for Obama in an election year and even credits him for backing down on Cap and Trade.

      The reason the arguments here aren’t fair or balanced and usually circular in nature is very simple. It’s all based on the narrow political center of gravity of the moderator and the trained sea lion skeptics who refuse to challenge what’s right before them. Dr. Curry isn’t Jim Hansen or Al Gore but without a vast pool of similarly biased moderates with a like minded media spinning away they could never have existed at all. Radical AGW is just a symptom of much deeper desease that infects academics and climate science in particular. Stop giving Dr. Curry a free-pass, you should object.

      • PolterGleick.

      • Pacifimiasmic Progress.

      • CWON, I personally like the gridlock because it does the job and is the best we can get. A draw is a loss for those advocating radical action so I am playing for a draw. Your strident calls for the end of the CAGW movement are politically unrealistic, albeit useful. Ironically, you are the anti-Gore. Keep it up.

      • DW,

        Think beyond the “draw”;

      • CWON, you are basically a raving extremist. I am also an extremist but I do not rave, preferring cold logic. Thus while I find your polemics tasteless and ridiculous they are useful in keeping the other raving skeptical extremists fired up. You have a following. To paraphrase LBJ, I am on your side.

      • Dw,

        I’m a “raving” extremist?

        Give me a side by side comparison when you have a chance.

      • DW,

        Your tactics under the manipulations of the “moderates” will condemn the world to another 50 years of AGW distraction and likely feed off into even more soft-science authoritarian scams of a similar nature. Other than scale and stealth there is very little unique about the AGW movement in itself already.

        The war will go on, you will come around eventually.

      • My letter sent to The Australian (which supports CO2 reduction policies without seeming to have considered many things discussed here and occasionally by columnists on their op ed page) today before seeing this thread is apposite:

        A pox on The Australian’s global warming stance (“A pox on both of your climate change policies,” 13/3). Our interests would be best served by scrapping all CO2 emissions reduction policies, for several reasons. For example, contrary to the warmists’ claims of the CO2-warming link, there has been no warming since 1998; warmer climates tend to healthier people and higher CO2 boosts crop growth; and the potential reductions in CO2 from Australia’s actions would have negligible impact and come at great cost. Let’s take a deep breath, have a cup of tea, and revisit this issue in ten years time – when we might be more concerned about sun-induced cooling.

  33. Judith Curry

    You have summarized today’s situation with regard to the ongoing climate debate as follows:

    “In 2012, we find ourselves in a position where the IPCC consensus is being challenged, particularly on how the climate might vary during the 21st century. The key scientific issue being debated is the relative magnitude of the human impact on climate, compared to natural variability. With regards to dangerous climate change: there is the growing realization that we have just begun to scratch the surface in terms of understanding the benefits and dangers of climate change in the context regional vulnerabilities. And finally, the precautionary principle has led us to focus on policies where the negative economic impacts of the proposed energy policies are arguably worse than what the policies are intended to prevent.”

    These points present a very accurate picture of where we stand today, with which very few people could take issue.

    You also give a good chronology of how we got to where we are today, pointing out that the policy goals (and political agenda) preceded the science, which was supposed to be its supporting basis. In other words, the cart got before the horse.

    As far as “the three best climate ideas I’ve come across” are concerned, you have suggested various options in the past, which sound to me like “best ideas”.

    1. Improve our knowledge about what makes our climate behave as it does, in particular about natural (rather than simply anthropogenic) causes, thereby reducing uncertainty of future climate projections – this includes studies, such as those going on at the CLOUD experiment at CERN
    2. Make a clear and unbiased evaluation of “winners and losers” from a slightly warmer world than today with slightly higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations, incorporating input from diverse sources, rather than only studies cited by IPCC
    3. Hold back on the implementation of any mitigation proposals until point 1 is much better defined than it is today, and at the same time ensure that we have a complete cost/benefit analysis plus are fully aware of any unintended consequences that could result from taking each of these actions

    Just my thoughts on this.


  34. Dr. Curry,

    What is the effect of the Kyoto Protocol so far? In deg C if possible please.

  35. Re: 2. modelling and subjective judgments must substitute extensively for estimates based upon experience with actual events and outcomes

    Dr. Curry, do you really mean what this says? Or do you mean it’s opposite?
    “def: substitutes for”

    “A” substitutes for “B”, means “A” to be used instead of “B.” Do you think “Subjective Judgments” should be preferred over and replace “estimates based upon experience with actual events?”

  36. See Daniel Defoe ‘Journey through the Whole Island of Great Britain’ for a delicate breeze from the past. Coal seams reaching the ocean were used to make salt to preserve the herring, which bloomed cornucopically.

  37. Re: arguments used in “Demon Coal”

    Dr. Curry, seeing as you are someone who champions our need to embrace and understand uncertainty, there was at least one dimension missing from your “pro-coal” side of the issue, to wit:
    by providing abundant, cheap, [dependable!] energy

    • It is scientists’ duty to accurately report uncertainties in their reported measurements or calculations. If they fail to do this, they have failed in their scientific work. This is not an area that should require a “champion”.

  38. I listened to the interview at the CBC web link. Didn’t seem like the CBC did very much editing if any. Surprising. Very good interview despite Max’s leading questions.

    Not sure the accuracy of this link in terms of current capacity:

    Ontario will be worse than broke if they go ahead with this much wind power.

    Indicates that coal supplied about 20% of Ontario’s electricity in 2006. It’s a fair amount that will have to be replaced when the coal fire stations are phased out (in 2014?).

    • Anybody know what is going to happen to the hardware in these coal plants after they are shutdown? I have the sneaking suspicion that it is just going to be sold off to some developing country and in a couple of years it will be happily burning dirtier coal in a jurisdiction with almost no environmental regulation.

      • I think that certain parties are proposing to have them converted into generating stations powered by natural gas instead of coal. It would be nice if this can work.

      • Coal can be burned cleanly in static large dimension power stations. Oil is wonderful as a transportation fuel. Natural gas is not quite as good as a transportation fuel as petroleum (just try a fly a 747 with CNG!), but it’s excellent small scale heating plants and gas turbines.

        Remember the winters of the early 1970’s when we had natural gas shortages during cold spells? That’s when we told power plants to get off natual gas and onto coal. Generation of base-load electricity is still the best use for coal and we should use ALL our resources wisely.

      • Makes sense for the back-end of the plant. I assumed they would just add gas turbines to the existing power distribution but I guess they could use the existing boilers with a different heating system. I am concerned with the “coal facing” equipment e.g. feeders, conveyors, furnaces, boilers that can’t convert. I can’t see this being scrapped. And this is the dirty side of the power plant.

        If they are just swapping out coal for NG…did they say how much CO2 this is going to eliminate?

      • From what I have heard, in principle natural gas is supposed to generate the same amount of power as coal with only about 60% of the CO2 emissions.

        Regarding transport, natural gas is now being pipelined around most of Canada. Most homes in Ontario are now heated with natural gas. I will concede that it would be hard for a 747 to function with a pipeline attached to it.

      • I found one of Ontario Power Generation’s public statements on possible conversion of one of the coal fired plants at the following link:

      • CO2 is not a concern of having any climate change effect. With natural gas (NG) undergoes a combined cycle situation, it can achieve up to 60% thermal efficiency compared with coal of about 45% (50% with ultra critical boilers) thermal efficiency. If NG is just used for back up windmills and solar farms, the thermal effuciency at best is only about 30% when used just the gas turbine part, a lot worse than coal.

        Boilers were designed to burn a particular range of coal properties. In general, coal has a higher energy density than NG and most boilers are not easily convertable to NG firing without affecting power output rating as well as boiler components.

      • Windmills and solar farms are actually the demons as they necessitated to have gas turbines to back them up. So much capitals are wasted idling and consumers have to pay the price for theses idling plants and less operating efficiencies.

      • Windmills and solar farms are actually the demons as they necessitated to have gas turbines to back them up.
        And Immelt’s GE makes them all.

      • SR said: “just try a fly a 747 with CNG!”

        Well it would be easier than flying one with a coal-fired steam engine. :)

      • They’ll be mothballed for a while then cut into scrap. The boilers are huge and don’t transport easily.

        As far as ‘developing countries’ burning coal…if you have to import coal it isn’t cheap. Putting it in an old inefficient plant is not cost effective.
        The Chinese have the most efficiency coal burning plants in the world.(Their new ones). The old ones are awful. They even shut down and replace old inefficient plants and replace them with new plants.

      • I wasn’t thinking of China, who clearly can and do at the rate of 1 per week build brand new plants, but of a poorer nation like Bangladesh. These were up-to-date profitable coal plants before being undermined by our politicians.

        Would it help that the Nanticoke plant is on the shore of Lake Erie and already has a pier (for offloading coal)? Put the boiler straight onto a lake freighter and haul it to the Port of Montreal for transshipment to said country.

  39. John from CA

    “I’m developing a perspective that I hope is consistent with Pielke Jr’s honest broker idea, in terms of articulating challenges at the science-policy interface and broadening the range of policy options to be considered. I’m starting to engage more with the energy policy community, in the hopes that sanity in energy policy can somehow prevail, and the postnormality of climate science can be relaxed.”
    Honest broker idea is a great approach. Consider a coalition of research Scientists who are looking at bottom up approaches to redefine the energy sector instead of the existing approaches which simply put bandaids on a broken system before approaching policy decisions. IMO, policies should be stair stepping completely new technologies into the system as older technologies are phased out.

    If approached pragmatically, the transition would only take 50 years and we would eclipse all targets for emission reductions as the older plants are retired without the need for taxation and government subsidies.

  40. cwon 14 , Judith Curry has put herself out there at the coal face, w/out anonymity. What about you?

    • Me 3. I respect you cwon, but I don’t understand your relentless J.C. bashing. She’s done more for global warming skepticism than any scientist I can think of, precisely because of her steadfast refusal to take sides. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s an apostate, something that only enhances her credibility.

      • “Bashing” isn’t quite fair, relentless yes. It isn’t taking a side to admit the logical that the core of the consensus just happen to largely be Big Green and left of center long before the first word was printed on AGW. By specific silence she is supporting the Green AGW culture cabal and she is likely a member of a different stripe.

        This is the killer app realization that anyone from Real Climate, The Team, Joe Romm or Dr. Curry understand and protect at all cost. The mythic “it’s about science” principal and talking point that is completely false. Her stonewalling is protecting the very same people we share all share criticism of. Can you explain this protocal? Why should admitting a basic fact (consensus political culture) alter a middling position on AGW itself?

        We both know the truth here PG, they (consensus) would rather have a full fledged skeptic who observes this protocal than a true AGW believer who admits to the politically obvious that I and others have stated. This one fact reveals how cheap the science always was and how contrived the entire movement remains.

      • cwon and all defending Dr. Curry,

        She is playing safe and be friendly to both sides. Afterall, all is entitled to what all believe and posted here with or without science though it will be nice with science and engineering sense. It will be CO2 nonsense like Gore, Hansen, Trenberth, Mann, Jones without science or distorting science, thermdynamics, radiations …etc.

      • Me 4. Ever heard of specialization and division of labor, cwon? Of course you have.

    • BC,

      It’s about content, it isn’t personal or personality cult worship. For better and worse Dr. Curry frames the talking points to some degree. It isn’t the beginning or the end but non-disclosure of obvious facts (political ones) around the consensus motivation is destructive to the society. My identification has nothing to do with it at all. It would be true if I didn’t say it or no one else. That’s the nature of “truth” while you support the only measure inside of the AGW orthodox context. Peristrokia might have been an improvement but it was still contemptible just as “No Regrets” is in the wider context of this discussion.

      I’m trying to save you a thousand miles of wandering BC. The whole stinking mess is going and it will include all the soft soap warming ideology like “No regrets” with it.


      It’s really this simple. No “mess” or “wicked problem” without the politcal convolutions.

  41. An article in ‘The Australian’ newspaper, 06/03/12 reveals a secret strategy by the benefactor of Green’s leader, Bob Brown to ruin Austtralia’s coal export boom by disrupting and delaying key projects and infrastructure and stop new ‘mega mines’ going ahead in central Queensland ….
    Dang, where’s that Captain Kanga, why aint he here joinin’ in this debate? … Hmm, better rustle up a posse and go git him. )

  42. Great interview Judith, very well spoken. Appreciate the push for open access to knowledge as well, I think that wall may be finally coming down as well. It was like, ‘don’t you find there is a lot of riff raff on the internet looking at science?’ – ‘Yes, isn’t it wonderful?’ As a card carrying member of the riff raff, thank you for that.

    I agree this is a sign of a big shift, at least here in Canada. It’s funny how ‘unradical’ it all this heretical-speak sounds when they finally present it. Computers aren’t great at modeling chaotic systems where the inputs and feedbacks are poorly understood. The UN is driven by politics. Wow! Who could have ever imagined that!

    Hearing this on the CBC is a surprise. There is second more local shift evidenced here – the shift of influence from Ontario to Alberta. Ontario is a manufacturing powerhouse. If it’s government was serving them well it would be scouring the earth for the cheap energy that drives it. Instead these oceans of oil and gas in the west go to the US, and option B is China. Meanwhile Ontario is shutting down cheap energy plants in favor of unproven and costly new technology. I’ve heard genuine complaints about the ‘petro dollar’ (Canada’s currency has strengthened with energy exports, hurting manufacturing), but I have to wonder about the role of the ‘green kilowatt’.

    I feel bad for Ontario. I’m sure they’ll figure something out soon enough, great people there and they are fortunate in a hundred other ways. But I do think the shift westward will continue to dominate the shift of the Canadian mindset, or at least the public face of it.

    (as seen from someone in the middle of the two, your point of view may vary!)

  43. Perhpas you should read this article by Lord Moncton(

    It certainly explains the whole issue quite nicely.

  44. If only the climate system were as simple as the circle of air jets blowing the silk scarves.

    Besides ethics, I have studied chaotic systems. Today’s chaos is the winter storm in the Northwest US — extremely high winds, lots of snow — while the Northeast US has had a ‘winter that wasn’t’.

    Nothing surprising about this….that’s what it means to say that the climate/weather system is a nonlinear chaotic system with, we hope, recognizable bounds.

    • I am afraid you failed statistical mechanics. When a system thermalizes by increasing its average temperature, the variance increases as well. This is straight from Boltzmann statistics arguments. Any kind of phenomenon that increases with temperature, such as evaporation, will have its expectation multiplied by the Boltzmann probability. The amount of increase in standard deviation is proportional to the average increase.

      This may be a small effect and so you can argue its importance, but you can’t argue the physics. You can tell me to prove it, but I will just turn around and ask you for an example of a natural phenomena where this does not occur.

      This little bit of physics is responsible for the entire viewpoint that as global temperature increases, then the magnitude of storms will increase. As temperature increases, more water vapor enters the atmosphere and the possibility of bigger storms and greater variance exists.

      This has absolutely nothing to do with nonlinear chaotic systems arguments, and would happen if things were “well-behaved”.

      • There are the usual problems with Webby that I would, if unkind, characterise as the inability to speak or think in English. Not to mention walk and chew gum. As English is his only language that is a bit of a problem.

        Boltzmann probability simply refers to the energy of the micro state in relation to the macro state. If a molecule is in a higher than average energy state then another must be in a lower state because the energy of the system is fixed. If ‘it thermalises by increasing its average temperature (i.e. if it gets hotter) the difference between a hotter molecule and a cooler molecule can be greater. And the answer is – any non-equilibrium dissipative system like the Earth’s climate.

        The assumption that it is warming as a result of greenhouse gases is a little premature. The satellite data says that albedo changes were the major factor in recent warming. Certainly simple radiative physics suggests a warming effect. However, how that has interacted in the dynamically complex system that is Earth’s climate is unknown.

        Evaporation equals precipitation over a few days. The idea that warmer temperatures leads to more extreme precipitation relies on the extra water in the atmosphere dropping out. Both from considerations of and data on relative humidity – this seems unlikely. The lack of increase in global precipitation extremes is not surprising given the small forcing function (little warming) and the insensitivity of the response (no obvious increase in extreme precipitation).

        It obviously has something to do with dynamically complex systems as that is the nature of Earth’s climate.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Thanks for reinforcing my point. Apparently the rules of thermodynamics are obeyed in Australia as well.

      • Thank you, Capt’n.

        I’d hate to have to fall back on the IPCC for support of my point that the climate/weather system is nonlinear chaotic. :-)

      • WHT

        The “wild card” is the cloud albedo, which sets the heat input to the system.


      • Show a mathematical model of the continuum between a high humidity (high GHG forcing situation) and significant upper-atmosphere cloudiness (high albedo cooling situation). As long as you leave that model and the quantification of the transition point up in the air, all you are doing is hand-waving.

      • Changing temperature gradients would tend to move convection zones. When the inter-tropical convection zone moves away from the equator, there would be lower albedo, Moving closer to the albedo would increase albedo. the legends are swapped, but the trends for the southern Hemisphere are flat or downward since 1979. Since around 1995 or 96, the SH trends have become less negative. Antarctic warming will likely start with prolonged solar TSI reduction. The Northern Hemisphere trends have been generally positive during the satellite era.

        With the poles out of phase, shifting of the ITCZ is very likely.

      • WHT

        It’s easy to “handwave” using “a mathematical model” (IPCC’s been doing that for years).

        Better are empirical data derived from physical observations or reproducible experimentation..

        Spencer & Braswell showed that clouds acted as a net short-term negative feedback with warming over the tropics. That’s one significant empirical data point.

        Then there are the Earthshine observations of Palle et al., which show how changing cloud albedo has influenced global temperature. That’s another significant data point.

        The experimental results at CERN may shed more light on the mechanism behind the observed changes in cloud cover. If so, that will be another huge significant data point.

        We obviously need more data points until we know the real role of clouds (IPCC’s “largest source of uncertainty”), but “mathematical models” alone aren’t going to get us there – we need empirical data from real-time physical observations or reproducible experimentation to really learn what’s going on.


  45. Forget demon coal. The real killer is demon meat. At least that’s according to the “scientific” “geniuses” at Harvard.

    Here’s the latest “scientific” gem from the progressiuve pressure cooker in Boston.

    “It was found that for every serving of red meat – equivalent to 3 ounces (85 grams) – eaten each day there was an 18 per cent increased risk of dying from heart disease and a 10 per cent increased risk of dying from cancer.” (By my calculation, I should have died about 32 years ago.)

    We later learn that these geniuses also found that:

    “Scientists added that people who eat a diet high in red meat were also likely to be generally unhealthier because they were more likely to smoke, be overweight and not exercise.”

    So red meat not only causes death, it also causes smoking, obesity and sloth. The connection between these poor lifestyle choices and risk of death apparently went unnoticed by the researchers.

    The too stupid to be true headline: “Red meat is blamed for one in 10 early deaths”

    The really dumb thing here is that these Beavis and Butthead researchers weren’t even smart enough to know that they could have doubled their funding if they had only “found” that red meat causes global warming, rather than merely death. Who cares about saving 1 in 10 people, when you can save the whole planet.

    (I wonder if some people just get stupider when they go to Harvard.)

    • So if you are a vegan, chaste, non-smoking, white collar worker, you have 80% increased risk of being a bore with Alzheimer’s?

    • “The statistical associations made in the red meat and beverage studies don’t prove that these two dietary factors actually caused negative health outcomes, but the links remained after researchers took into account a variety of other factors that might have also contributed, such as body weight, smoking habits, hypertension, and diabetes.”

      I ordinarily don’t comment on off-topic errors such as Gary’s, but the implications of the study are important, and shouldn’t be dismissed casually. I haven’t read the original article myself, and maybe it contains serious errors, but the people who do these studies are very smart – possibly much smarter than some of the people who criticize them.

      Just sayin’

      • “the people who do these studies are very smart”

        Of course they are, Fred. Of course they are. They are so smart that they do… studies and stuff.


      • “They are so smart that THEY GET PAID FOR doing these studies”

        And (assuming the studies were government funded) “we (the taxpaying public) are so stupid that WE PAID FOR THEM.”

        Sobering thought.

      • Fred,

        First, I am always glad to hear from one of my groupies. Keep reachin’ for those stars babe.

        I think maybe Fred is attracted to the precision of the attribution claimed in the article. It’s almost climatesque. He’s not satisfied with being a CAGW prophet, now he wants to lead the charge for CBRM – catastrophic bovine red meat. He’s my hero.

        1 in 10 deaths blamed on red meat? Well, if it comes from someone at Harvard, it must be true. Why think for yourself when a “smart” person tells you what to do? At least in Fredworld.

      • So.. y’all believe it matters to argue over a headline by a guy who hasn’t read the story on a story by a guy who heard about the report but didn’t listen too close from a guy who didn’t read the original report, as relayed to you by someone on a blog who didn’t check with the authors? Likely with a few misread emails in the middle of that?

        Uh.. Wow. Just wow.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Fred Moolten: I haven’t read the original article myself, and maybe it contains serious errors, but the people who do these studies are very smart – possibly much smarter than some of the people who criticize them.

        Very droll. Another of your recent humorous writings. I especially liked the astute use of “possibly” and “some of”. In context you have written “most likely not smarter than all but a few of their critics,” in disguise.

      • Fred

        The mortality rate of both sample groups was the same = 100%.


      • manacker, the BBC reported the story in terms of “increased risk of death.” I pointed out to them that the risk of death for all living beings is 100%.

      • Max – Mortality rates are not the number of deaths per person but the number in a given population per unit time (e.g., one year). They were not “100%”. That’s why it’s important to determine whether mortality rates differ between groups.

        Gary M – In your comment accusing the researchers of stupidity, you falsely suggested that the relationship in the study between poor lifestyle choices and risk of death went “unnoticed”. It didn’t. What makes you look bad was not simply making a mistake, but making a false accusation against others and then not having the moral integrity to admit you were wrong. Changing the subject won’t fix that.

        I don’t want to dwell too much more on this off-topic issue, but regardless of the exact figures cited in this study, the potential dangers of excessive red meat consumption, independent of other lifestyle variables, is probably worth evaluating further because it applies to a large number of people.

      • “Max – Mortality rates are not the number of deaths per person but the number in a given population per unit time (e.g., one year). They were not “100%”. That’s why it’s important to determine whether mortality rates differ between groups.” True. Individually though, it is pretty close to 100% :)

        What I like about statistics is no one is really average. I was looking up the mortality statistics for West Virginia, since we are on demon coal. WV had the second highest mortality rate in the country, for the over 85 age group. It would seem to me, that if coal was that bad, WV would have fewer people in the over 85 age group.

        New York has a low over 85 mortality rate. For some reason, Miami, Fl seems to be a statistically anomaly in over 85, must be too much red meat.

      • No, Dallas, the rates under consideration were nowhere near 100%.

      • Fred –
        Not pickin’ on you, but personally, I don’t give a flying damn about what they say. I eat red meat and do a lot of other things that I’m told will kill me. But the fact is that nothing, including other people shooting at me has killed me yet. So, no matter how smart those people are, I’ll pay my money and take my chances. IOW, as I once told my doctor – I’ll live until I die. And since I “should have” been dead more than once more than 50 years ago, I think it’s been a good philosophy.

        IOW, on a personal basis – for ANYONE – their arguments a just plain silly. So I’m not sure how “smart” they are.

      • Hi Jim Owen – Welcome back after an absence. However, if you think their argument is “just plain silly”, I would say they are smarter than you are – or more properly, you are less smart than they are, however smart that is.

        Notice that they didn’t tell anybody what to eat, but only what difference it might make on average (assuming a casual relationship, which they acknowledge is unproven) so that people can decide for themselves.

      • Fred –
        Glad to be back, but I’ll likely be leaving again soon. At least here, the nastiness isn’t likely to kill me.

        Re: smart – I’m as smart as I need to be. I am, after all, still alive.

        I’m sure the authors don’t think it’s “silly” but they talk about “average” – and I’m not average nor do I know anyone else who is. So this kind of “study” refers to statistical averages that apply to everyone – and nobody. I’m glad it keeps them occupied – otherwise they might be doing some real damage someplace else.

        This is all wordplay, Fred – I don’t take it seriously, nor should you. It may affect millions of lives “on the average” but it affects nobody’s life in particular. Unless one is a fear-filled neurotic who takes every negative theory seriously. Sorry, but I’ve seen too many diet fads, arch pronouncements about what foods to avoid and what to eat, environmental scares, etc, etc, ad nauseum. And they all last a year or so and are then replaced by the next scare. This one is no sillier than the last – but it’s not “not silly”. And for me, it’s eminently ignorable.
        As I said – I’ll live until I die. And that has more meaning than most people will understand.

    • Gary M

      The Harvard idiots that do these “evils of red meat” studies need to check out Argentina.

      They consume around 65 kg/year pc or around half again as much as in the USA = 43.8 kg.

      Yet their life expectancy (despite a higher level of poverty) is not that different at 75.3 vs. 78.3 years.


      PS The methane degassing of all those bovines does cause a major GHG effect, though.

      • Termites are an even bigger threat to civilization as we know it today. How we are to eradicate them all, I have no idea.

    • Sounds familiar logic – EPA!

  46. cwon, we already have an oracle here, and it aint you :-)

  47. Gee, Dr. Curry

    I storm off in a huff to the dismal halls of lurkdom, and in less than three months you get all interesting.

    Not that you weren’t interesting before, and I must wryly note that in my silence Steve Mosher has said most of what I would have (though I would hardly have said much of what he would have), and Vaughan and Pekka have corrected most of the mistakes I would have made, so I find my remarks here mainly superfluous.

    However, Max Allen, Director of the Energy Probe Foundation(, is an august alumn of the climate debate, so I’m only too glad to briefly remark on him. Energy Probe was well-established before I or thee were undergraduates, and has shaped the climate debate in Canada, thence the wider world, perhaps more than any other single entity quietly and largely behind the scenes.

    Dr. David Suzuki was still experimenting with fruit flies, Al Gore approving the budget to invent the Internet, and James Hansen peering at Venus when Energy Probe started.

    Since the issue of my tantrum was Whitehouse’ failure to disclose his GWPF affiliation, I would be remiss in not balancing the scales and point out that your interviewer is widely regarded as one of the most well-read, precise and informed media producers in the English language, with a curriculum vitae including accolades on social issues from fighting censorship to.. well, you name it.

    Max Allen is what Lord Monckton’s fanboys only wish Monckton were.

    Energy Probe itself has solid Libertarian credentials and mission statement, from which in three decades of noting their activities I have never heard of them swerve in the least.

    I expect you will be pleased by the interview and how Ideas depicts you, as the show is in my experience relentlessly courteous, high-minded and fair. Max Allen, however, has left at least one person feeling ill-used, as you have more than once felt ill-used by the media, so I ought mention that old incident. (

  48. “Demon Coal”

    “Uncertainty Monster”

    “Wicked Problem”

    Fetish, anyone? ;)


    • Andrew the Bad,

      Take a look at the Jo Nova link above, it clears up all of this contrivance for our bedwetting brand of skeptics here.

      I’m open to different opinions, we just can’t ignore basic social facts which are essential to maintain Dr. Curry’s fake middling while giving the consensus the key concessions it demands; “it’s really all about a science dispute” (ancient nonsense at this point).

      • cwon,

        I’d like to give Dr. Curry the benefit of the doubt, like others want to, but she’s erased all the doubt, so I don’t really have a choice. She’s an insider. Won’t be anything but until she comes outside.


      • Bad Andrew

        Dr. Curry’s undoubted strength is that she is an “insider”.

        The “mainstream” guys try to marginalize her, but it is not working.


      • I know that Andrew, she is an insider playing an insider game. That the sheeple “skeptics” can’t cope with direct confrontation and stay on point and play along draws more of my ire.

        How do they accept a weasel term like “advocate” to discribe Team members for example?

      • I agree cwon. If we had more direct confrontation, we’d have less Wicked Monsters, Uncertainty Demons and other related Faeries.


      • cwon

        You (and Bad Andrew) are missing the point.

        Each individual here has his/her own role to play.

        A “mainstreamer” (like Trenberth) sees his role as “selling the consensus message”.

        A full-fledged “skeptic” (like Lindzen) sees his role as poking holes in the “mainstream” dogma.

        Dr. Curry has openly stated that she sees her role in the ongoing scientific and policy debate on AGW as encouraging open conversation and exchange of ideas (just listen to what she told Max Allen on CBC).


      • Max,

        I don’t even care about various positions on the science aspects, plenty of big brains on all sides. What I object to is being forced into a one sided politically correct protocal during a debate when the other party (almost any party) clearly is a aware of a specific fact (left-wing influence on AGW advocacy) but can’t “risk it” to admit such an obvious reality.

        What does this tell us about the AGW mafia that can obviously bully Dr. Curry into such a protocal? What does it say about Dr. Curry to make such a concession? Or should we assume Dr. Curry is just a skeptic Fifth Columnist?

        I don’t think admitting a basic social fact represents enhanced “gridlock”, just the opposite. If a party can’t link AGW to leftist dogma we might as well debate if the Earths surface is mostly water or not. It’s that far an escape of logic.

        Man-up Max! You should be supporting my point. There isn’t a single reasonable argument in preserving this sacred cow of not discussing the very specific and identifiable political culture supporting AGW “advocacy” and “ideology” and being stuck in a very false “symmetrical” word use game. This has to be cleaned up ASAP.

        I listened to the interview, I realize it could have been much worse or 100 times better from my point of view. We just have to decide what is really driving “gridlock” of the current AGW advocacy status quo.

      • “her role in the ongoing scientific and policy debate on AGW as encouraging open conversation and exchange of ideas”

        I have doubts that this role has had any significant effect. Other than to illustrate how dead the inside is to such things.


  49. I have for a very long time now thought of and have spoken of climate as being the framework within which weather happens. It cannot tell you precisely what the weather will be but can lead you to conclude what the weather cannot do. It sets bounds without predicting specific characteristics. That is what the sheets say.

  50. Steve Fitzpatrick

    Hi Judith,
    I must admit to being a little bit puzzled by this post. Coal is no more a demon than any other fossil fuel. To the extent that coal emits more CO2 than other fossil fuels: define a specific cost for a Kg of CO2, then calculate how demonic coal is.

    • You were quite wrong that coal emit more CO2 than other fossil fuels. All fossil fuel emit the same amount of CO2 to produce the same amount of energy. Less thermal efficiency process requires more carbon to be burnt to produce same amount of useful energy. Only AGW believer idiots think biofuels or carbon neutral such as wood do not have CO2 emission.

      • Sam NC

        You are not quite right

        Coal is composed primarily of carbon (~90-95%), so most of the energy comes from oxidizing C to CO2.

        Methane (CH4) is only 75% C and 25% hydrogen, so a significant portion of the energy comes from oxidizing H to H20.

        Petroleum products, such as gasoline and heating oil, are around 84%C.

        That’s why some CO2 alarmists believe switching from coal to natural gas as a primary energy source for electrical power makes sense.

        The other bad thing about coal is the real pollutants it contains or generates with combustion: heavy metals, soot, sulfur, etc. These can be removed from the flue gas, but often this is not done (particularly in places like China).

        Natural gas and refined petroleum products do not contain these pollutants.


      • Max,

        Your knowledge about coal is as poor as Eli, Hansen, Trenberth and all the alarmists. Where on Earth you can find coal to have over 85% Carbon not to say 90%. Coal with 75% Carbon is rare!

      • Does the non carbon part of coal add anything to the energy equation?

      • Your knowledge about coal is as poor as Eli, Hansen, Trenberth and all the alarmists. Where on Earth you can find coal to have over 85% Carbon not to say 90%. Coal with 75% Carbon is rare!

        The Wikipedia article on coal lists the following percentages of carbon for the German classification of coal. In the US the threshold for anthracite, the top grade, is set somewhat higher than in Germany.

        Lignite 60-75
        Flame coal 75-82
        Gas flame coal 82-85
        Gas coal 85-87.5
        Fat coal 87.5-89.5
        Forge coal 89.5-90.5
        Non baking coal 90.5-91.5
        Anthracite >91.5

        Also in Wikipedia is Hilt’s law, “a geological term that states the deeper the coal, the deeper its rank (grade). The law holds true if the thermal gradient is entirely vertical, but metamorphism may cause lateral changes of rank, irrespective of depth. Increasing depth of burial results in a decrease in the oxygen content of the coals. The phenomenon was observed by professor Carl Hilt (1873).”

        Corollary: higher grade coal is more expensive because it’s deeper.

      • For once SamNC is right. But not for the reason he intended. The best quality coal is anthracite, which has a carbon content over 90%.

        If you Google for peak coal Pennsylvania, what you will see is a classic Hubbert curve for anthracite coal production. It long ago reached its peak and is on a decline of a fraction of its maximum production.

        So yes indeed this stuff is scarce, because higher grades are naturally rarer and because we have extracted all the deposits that could provide significant yield.

      • The answer of Max was essentially correct for the combustible part of hard coal used in power plants. The noncombustible part is irrelevant for the amount of CO2 produced per unit of energy.

        A rough rule of thumb is that the ratio H:C by count is 1:1 for coal, 2:1 for oil and 4:1 for natural gas (4:1 is exact for pure methane).

        There’s less hydrogen in anthracite and more in lignite, which has also enough oxygen and moisture to the influence the balance.

        One additional factor in favor of natural gas is the higher efficiency obtained in typical modern power plants. The most important factor is the possibility of using combined cycle (gas turbine+steam power plant). Another advantage is the possibility to cool the flue gases enough to condense most water. These advantages add some 30% to the amount of electricity produced from the same amount of fuel energy. Putting everything together the CO2 emissions from producing the same amount of electricity are about twice as high for coal as for natural gas.

      • One use of coal that is over looked is

        The same basic process is required to cleanly burn bio-mass on a large scale. The process was designed for lower quality softer coals. Since the plants actually burn syngas, it can be used for production of various liquid transportation fuels, fertilizer feed stocks etc. A pilot plant was built in the Dakotas after the 70s gas crisis, South Africa expanded the technology during the fuel embargo and India is looking into building a large scale plant using South African technology.

        With the hitch in the cellulose methane giddy up, current petroleum prices and peak conventional oil, synthetic liquid fuels from coal/biomass mixed fuel are fairly likely somewhere in the world in a very large scale.

      • Dr Pratt & Dr Webby,

        Nice find about anthracites. If naturally pressurized further, anthracites becomes diamonds. Its not a usual coal for electric power production. Anthracites are very hard and equipments for handling them worn out within a year or just a few months. No power station in the world uses anthracites to produce electricity anymore.

      • Robin,

        Non carbon heat content of coal usually refer to hydrogen contents. Burning hydrogen produce water which is carry away in the flue gas. It also carry away significant amount of its latent heat content and some small amount of superheat contents. Thats why water is the major green house gas not the CO2.

      • Web –
        One of the reasons anthracite coal is rare is because most of the anthracite beds were buried under the Susquehana River in 1957. There’s LOTS of it there – if anyone ever figures out how to mine coal underwater.

      • “No power station in the world uses anthracites to produce electricity anymore.”

        How many times does it take to get it through your thick skull that the reason no one uses anthracite coal any longer is because there is little of that grade left to use. Check Pennsylvania anthracite production on this chart:
        from this article

        Next thing you will say that no one hunts for Passenger Pigeons anymore.

        Or, since I notice that you have an NC after your name, that no birders have any interest in Carolina Parakeets anymore. But I am not holding out hope that you can figure that one out.

      • Weby,

        You think with your bottom hole not your brain. Max and I were discussing using coal to produce electircity. Max meant to say over 90% carbon in coal. You lazy little brain did not get the content of it or too thick to understand the content or both! Don’t be a spoilt child you are now an adult and need to grow up your brain together with your bottom hole. Get it.

      • Jim Owne said:

        “Web –
        One of the reasons anthracite coal is rare is because most of the anthracite beds were buried under the Susquehana River in 1957. There’s LOTS of it there – if anyone ever figures out how to mine coal underwater.”

        With most of the skeptics here, you have to be a private detective to figure out what they are talking about with all these anecdotal observations. It looks like what old Jim is talking about is the Knox Mine disaster that occurred in 1959. What apparently happened is that the river flowed down the mine shaft, effectively flooding the whole system.

        And then what he is apparently implying is that if this disaster didn’t happen, we would have “LOTS” more coal reserves available.

        That is a moot point. The greater significance in all this is that mankind should not have to depend on one small area to meet our energy needs in perpetuity. Because it can’t as these are finite resources. It is not that hard a concept to grasp, yet it doesn’t register in many people’s minds. That is why a term was coined for this mindset — “the Cornucopian”.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Does the non carbon part of coal add anything to the energy equation?

        The relevant non-carbon parts are standardly taken to be the elements H, S, and O, which along with C, and an ash term A when given, are expressed in the following as percentages of the total mass, e.g. C = 90 for forge coal.

        The paper Formulas for calculating the heating value of coal and coal char: Development, tests, and uses by Mason and Ghandi, in Fuel Processing Technology, 7 (1983) 11–22, evaluates a number of formulas for estimating gross heating value in Btu/lb by burning 775 samples from a wide range of US coal fields.

        The oldest formula is the Dulong equation
        Q = 145.44 C + 620.28 H + 40.5 S – 77.54 O

        (Pierre Louis Dulong, 1785-1838, was a French physicist and chemist.)

        From this and three other similar more recent formulas they derived what they call the Data Book Equation using a least squares regression analysis, namely

        Q = 146.58 C + 568.78 H + 29.4 S – 6.58 A – 51.53 O

        For example forge coal has roughly the following percentages:

        C = 90%
        H = 4.5%
        O = 3%
        S = 1%

        Hence its gross heating or calorific value according to their Data Book Equation, ignoring the ash term, is 146.58*90 + 568.78*4.5 + 29.4*1 – 51.53*3 = 15626 Btu/lb. (To convert to MJ/kg multiply by 0.9478* 2.205/1000 = .00209 giving 15626 * .00209 = 32.7 MJ/kg.)

      • Vaughan,

        “Flame coal 75-82
        Gas flame coal 82-85
        Gas coal 85-87.5
        Fat coal 87.5-89.5
        Forge coal 89.5-90.5
        Non baking coal 90.5-91.5”

        These are not electricity generation grade coal. They are irrelevant to discussion.

        Burning of C, H, S have their old specific energy outputs no need to use less accurate approximate equations.

      • These are not electricity generation grade coal. They are irrelevant to discussion.

        Most if not all of them are used for power generation and all coal used in power plants except lignite falls within this classification.

        In case of lignite and lowest grades of flam coals the amount of oxygen has a major influence on the heat value, in all other cases carbon and hydrogen dominate and the influence of other elements is small (oxygen has a small negative influence and sulfur a small positive contribution).

        Concerning your original claim:

        You were quite wrong that coal emit more CO2 than other fossil fuels. All fossil fuel emit the same amount of CO2 to produce the same amount of energy.

        was simply wrong and the first response of Max essentially correct. As so often before you presented again strong views, which have no truth in them and then decline to accept, how wrong you were to start with.

      • Substantiate them not just hot air. Which power station use anyone of these coals.

        Now I doubt you claimed to know electricity generation knowledge. People in the coal power stations will laugh to death with your statements above!

      • That list is one classification of all types of coals.

      • “A rough rule of thumb is that the ratio H:C by count is 1:1 for coal, 2:1 for oil and 4:1 for natural gas (4:1 is exact for pure methane).”

        They were garbage rule of thumbs when considering using them for power generation.

      • Sam, Vaughan, Pekka – thank you for the detailed responses regarding the energy relevance of the non carbon parts of coal. I leave this thread with a better understanding than when I came, and leads on where to look for more – appreciated.

      • Robin,

        I hope you really learn something about the non carbon part of the energy equation and not be confused with twisted science and engineering. Basically, the non carbon part of the energy release thru combustion is small. Coal has moisture contents and ash contents that makes the carbon content in coal for electricity generation is normally less than 75%. Moisture contents and ash contents actually take away some useful (roughly about 5% of the coal available energy) energy from coal.

      • Max,

        China has new coal power stations from the world with emission standards comparable with any coal power stations in the west.

      • Max,

        There are 2 types of coal analysis, Proximate Analysis and Ultimate Analysis. Just google them and have a better basic knowledge of coal.

      • Max,

        The heavy metals contained in any coal are at trace levels. Most of these trace metals after combustions in a boiler settled down as coarse ash (about 30% or less ash) at the boiler furnace and as fly dust (about 70% ash) captured at the baghouse (99.9% efficiency), with the exception of vaporized unoxidized mercury which can be further reduced/scrubbed at the wet scrubbers, precipitated at the wet electrostatic precipitators. Modern boilers can be designed have better emission rate than natural gas.

        Soot is no longer exist any coal power stations built after 1970s. You do get unburnt carbon in the coarse ash and flyash but they are not soot. Unburnt carbon in the form of carbon monoxide in the flue gas is usually limited to below 10ppm from the stack or chimney.

        In the USA, Sulfur contents are usually less than 7% in the Eastern Coal and western coal is about 1% or less. Part of the sulfur reacts with fly dust and settled at the baghouse but most the sulfur scrubbed in the scrubbers dry or wet.

        What I am trying to say is burning coal for power generation is not as dirtty as you might think and in a lot of situation better than oil fired power stations and could be as good as any natural gas fired power plants. Apart from CO2 which is not a pollutant, modern coal fired power stations canachieve near zero emissions.

      • Steve & SamNC

        For calculations on CO2 for fuels see EPA A-28 Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009, especially the
        ANNEX 2 Methodology and Data for Estimating CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuel Combustion

      • David,

        Thanks for the link. There are a lot of methods to calculate CO2 quantities. I am used to calculate based on chemical compositions with European standards not EPA’s method.

      • SamNC
        Any link to the EU standards?

  51. Cwon,
    Let’s stipulate for the sake of discussion that there really is some giant green conspiracy, and that AGW was cooked up as part of a diabolical plan to take over the world. And let’s further suppose that J.C. calls a press conference and alleges as much. “This is not about science, ” says she. “It’s a Green AGW culture cabal and henceforth I’m going to call it like it is.”

    What do you suppose would be the practical results of such a statement?

    • It would only change everything to the measure of Dr. Curry’s accumulated good will and trust in the small objective climate science community that exists. It would encourage others to be honest and less partisan among the advocates who currently pretend as much already.

      We’re talking about group and peer denial, this isn’t a “conspiracy” anymore than the editorial page of the NY Times who would judge themselves as “objective” when asked. Would you go with that self-description of the Times??

      You might not like them but Inholf, Morano, Delingpole, Monckton, Lindzen are right on this essential. Dr. Curry obfuscates through non-disclosure, indirect platitudes (“advocacy”) and silence on the germane question of consensus political culture. It’s a mistake to discuss AGW as an obscure dispute like the “Bone Wars” among different academic tribes;

      Consider the stakes.

      • Follow the money trails.

      • More than money makes a religous war. That’s what this comes down to, AGW is a religion to the core players. It validates the whole hippie, social decline culture in their own minds.

      • That is very true. Eli Rabbet, obviously an intelligent guy, confuses regional political decisions with flaws in technology. Coal is evil to Eli, not political and cultural ethics that place lower value on the lives of miners.

        Must be tough finding Utopia.

      • Those have superficial understanding of coal will consider coal as evil or demon. Coal is actually angel and god when supplying heat and warm via electricity to those that need it. I am sure Eli, Hansen, Trenberth, Gore, Mann, Jones can generate their own electricity with windmills and solar panels. They should do away their present living conditions without using any fossil fuels. Its a shame that they cannot appreciate the merits of coal. Shame on these people demonised coal!

    • Except we have known since the 1800’s that C02 will decrease the rate at which the planet cools ( often referred to as ‘warming’)
      The science that tells us that C02 does ‘warm” the planet is at the core
      of the modern miracle of communications and remote sensing. It is a science accepted and proved beore greens ever existed. It is the science used by star wars, by the air force, by your cell phone company. It is the science accepted by Lindzen, spencer, christy, and Singer.

      Cwon, cannot talk about that, has no explanation for how this green conspiracy rests on the work done by our air force. For those of us who used this science to engineer the defense of our country, he is a bothersome little banny rooster, consumed by delusions

      • Cwon a doodle doo. Dawn’s breaking, moshe, revels onna way.

      • Kim can communicate in only short phrases and so appears desperately in need of a translation.

        Mosh is talking about a couple of technologies that require complete knowledge of thermal physics of gas-phase CO2.

        You have your CO2 laser which was one of the first gas lasers invented (first was HeNe). These things are powerful and efficient, and used for hi-tech cutting and welding operations. Scientists and engineers have had almost 40 years to understand the statistical physics and infrared radiation properties of the CO2 molecule. That leads into remote sensing transceivers which requires knowledge of atmospheric properties of all the trace gases, including CO2.

        Then you have your blast furnaces used for smelting ores. These operate in a CO2 and CO environment. The engineers have to know the CO2 infrared tables inside and out to control the temperature accurately. The furnace controllers are feedback models tuned to the radiation laws of Stefan-Boltzmann and Planck and Wien. Interesting that they use similar approximations of heat sensitivity > 5*ln[CO2] which is nearly a 4C increase for CO2 doubling.

        As Mosh said, just about all of our advanced technology, from steel skyscrapers to optical communication came about from advances in knowledge of how CO2 interacts with the infrared.

        +1 Mosh

      • Since you can’t quantify anything what is the real point of your “science” or should it be called science at all?

        For thousandth time strawman, I never use the term or concept of “conspiracy”. AGW is a social event of groupthink along partisan lines. The delusion is the denial of what is obvious. Try the David Evan piece from JoNova linked above.

        Then again, you’re a member of a fringe and there isn’t much point in discussing this with you.

  52. Political Junkie

    As a Canadian CBC listener I’m genuinely and deeply shocked after having listened to the subject CBC program.

    The damn thing is rational, non-political, unbiased and sane.

    Dr. Curry’s considered and well delivered opinions are aired apparently unedited.

    I’m at a loss to explain how an informative program such as this made it through the CBC bureaucracy.

    Wow, just WOW!!!!

    I need a drink!

  53. Political Junkie

    Bart R, yes, Rex is o.k.

    But how do you think this program got through? Has Suzuki jetted off on vacation to some sunny destination with his five kids?

    • PJ

      David Suziki? How long has it been since you’ve listened to the CBC, PJ? 1982?

      There’s been major overhauls in what is now the very obvious propaganda arm of the Harper Government.

      Rex Murphy’s blatant efforts to defuse the righteous wrath of Canada over the Robocall scandal marches in lock step with prorogationism and cynical Conservative Party arrogance. Look at the rest of the media in Canada. Look at the CBC. Look at the rest of the media. Do you see a difference?

      The CBC is riding a horse. Backwards. To the Right. Reaking of smug.

    • PJ,

      It’s amazing what passes for “balanced” in the ears of those exposed to a lifetime of liberal political indoctrination from the usual sources. Consensus members must be in shock and horror at what they heard on the CBC?? They lose blatter control when Dr. Curry uses the word “advocate”???

      I get the point, I just don’t accept giving the orthodox the right to set the debate bar where they like.

  54. cwon,
    I need some sleep and when tired I lose about 20 IQ points. And I don’t have them to spare. I’ll just say for now that I think the results of such a declaration would be that J.C. would be entirely neutralized in the climate debate. Her credibility as a voice of sanity and reason would be shot. The left would be absolutely thrilled. .

    Do you suppose that the Washington Post and various public radio networks and stations would continue to call on her for her take on whatever the breaking climate news of the day is? Do you really think she does no good in that regard?

    • So in short, remain politically correct or accept total marginalization in liberal media?

      We can only speak to the left in short quiet sentences, say only a fraction of what we mean or more importantly what the truth is?

      Land of the free, home of the brave PG?? What price political correctness?

  55. Dr Curry, an excellent summation of the current state of our understanding of the “climate wars”.. The CBC and Max Allen are also to be congratulated for such a balanced and informative broadcast.
    A must listen for all serious climate students. (including those with PhDs)

  56. Michael Larkin

    What a terrific podcast, Judith! We have never had anything near as balanced as this in the UK. Kudos to the CBC and to you. This deserves to go viral, but I’m not counting my chickens.

    • GF, ML it’s sad enough to know the levels of political correctness maintained in the U.S. MSM regarding climate. I can’t imagine the pathetic state of affairs in the EU, Canada and Australia if this modest and sanitized podcast gets you excited.

  57. I think Max Allen thinks Ontario is only powered by coal. If the climate is warming how is that bad looking at history. No warming the last 15 years or so even cooling. Now cooling that can be bad, real bad, history again. Dr Currie why not bring up the cooling trend?

    I am curious when the term ,Climate Change, is going to morph into cooling.

    • nc

      Did you even listen to the interview?

      Dr. Curry mentioned cooling at length.

      Max Allen pointed out how little coal power there is in Canada, much less Ontario. Repeatedly.

      If this is a language difference, please forgive my consternation. I understand how difficult the Canadian accent can be to understand.

  58. Dave in Canmore

    Great work, a rare moment when the CBC drops its usual activist journalism and just gives us some calm, reasoned facts.

    Thanks Judith for being step one in a return to facts in our state-run media!

  59. incandecentbulb

    “Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China that is big enough to serve all the households in Dallas or San Diego… India is right behind China in stepping up its construction of coal-fired power plants — and has a population expected to outstrip China’s by 2030….”

  60. Hi Judy,

    Congratulations on an excellent interview. It was a very interesting program.
    Will a transcript be made available?

    Dave Rutledge

  61. as always, this post is an informative read about important topics.
    and, like the ‘thriller’ you can’t put down, other parts of one’s life are put on hold.
    whilst I’ve read comments, I haven’t listened to the radio report. nice to hear that Dr Curry’s views are being further spread.
    I believe that coal has been more of a saviour than a demon, and would argue that the demons of coal are those people and organisations responsible for disabling power grids thus causing immense suffering and damage.
    I would like to address the following;
    Q. So where do we go from here?
    A. forget coal for a minute, I’d like to consider electromagnetic and geomagnetic energy. for example, there are electro magnetic motors that reduce domestic electricity consumption by 80%. why isn’t this technology being touted and developed more? how about tapping geomagnetic energy, as per Nikola Tesla’s work? Tesla is a taboo subject as far as I can work out – not within the scope of this blog. kirk to scotty ‘not yet scotty!’
    S (statement). Increase energy efficiency of buildings, appliances, and transportation.
    R(esponse) I describe my house as a passive solar building. not hard to design and build but you have to get out of your comfort zone first. some details include a heat sink e.g. concrete floor, indoor water tank, ‘solid’ walls, ( these moderate and reduce temperature extremes), sun facing windows (a source of winter heat and light), flow through ventilation, supplimented with fans. yes budget, government codes and commercial practises act against energy efficiency.
    appliances. potentially brilliant but at great odds with the commercial ethos of planned obsolescence. I do believe there are effective uses for solar and wind power at the domestic level, if only to ensure that your electromagnetic motor keeps working during power cuts. the development of solar radiation systems has been neglected.
    transportation. dear me ! trains, planes and automobiles, can we live without them ? of course we would add ships and now the internet. there’s an interesting history of trains V automobiles. automobiles won. congestion and commuter time are important considerations, largely minimised with municipal light rail networks.
    S. Manage black carbon and the short-lived greenhouse gases such as methane, which are relatively easy to control and have ancillary economic and human health benefits
    R. yes. hats off to the Chinese for upgrading their coal firing technology, all they have to do now is make that big brown cloud disappear, and that rare earth pollution.
    I think we should take control of all pollutant debris, especially military and industrial debris, on land and in the sea. a massive recycling program.
    S. Regional strategies for reducing vulnerability to extreme weather events, climate variability, and change.
    R. ‘yes please !’

    if I were subject to being snow bound, my rescue pack would include a supply of coal, food, water and shelter.
    there is a measure for assessing standards of living. and that is by measuring the amount of time and energy required for daily living activities. of note is the remaining time left over for cultural pursuits. interesting that the australian aborigines achieved the top two places, at Kakadu and at Raukkan (around the mouth of the River Murray. they worked around 2 hours per day. their comparitive advantage was having several of several hundred foodstuffs available within a stones’ throw. I say this because there was no planned obsolescence in their societies, and they were in an environmentally stable state for 50 000 years
    Geo-engineering. now there’s a can of worms, prior to unheard of on this site during my visitations here.
    thanks to all, for another afternoon of brain sailing adventures

    • Peter Davies

      I agree with the thrust of what you are saying William. Its just very difficult to get new technologies off the ground, mainly because of the need to amortise the capital equipment costs of the manufacturers/suppliers of existing technologies.

    • William,
      I believe those motors you refer to are not getting wide use because they do not work.

  62. GaryM @12/3 11.36pm
    Mortality rates for human red- meat carnivores? Hmmm- say, I wonder what are the mortality rates for post modern denizens of Harvard?

    • Beth

      I believe the statistics show that the mortality rate for both groups is the same (i.e. 100%).


  63. Judith Curry

    I’d agree with several of your denizens here that this was an excellent interview.

    I think they overdid the “mine disaster” bit (it covered the first 12 minutes out of 54). The other interviews were interesting and short, but yours was the most informative (and most interesting) by far.

    Your “winners and losers” (from a warmer world) statement hit home, especially for Canadians (who are most likely to be winners).

    Toward the end, Max Allen tried to trip you up with a couple of loaded questions when you told him that scare tactics were causing a backlash rather than motivating people.

    Your response to his statement that peer review by Internet has “ruined science” was great (i.e. you think it’s “wonderful” to have open knowledge and get public involved).

    If a transcript becomes available, I’d be interested, as well.



    • Latimer Alder

      Dear Judith

      I too was especially impressed by your robust and effective defence of Internet science.

      IMO it is only the ‘scientists’ who feel that they and/or their work cannot withstand robust and multi-faceted scrutiny that need feel threatened by such a development.

      Those who have done good work and can defend it against all comers, not just pal reviewers, will have it validated so much more quickly – and their individual reputations enhanced – that it is surely a win-win for them.

      And the public may get a general benefit as well as fewer substandard or plainly unnecessary papers and academics will be employed just churning out irrelevancies for the sake of publishing the required number of papers per year, rather than for any merit in the subject studied.

  64. I agree with CWON. At this juncture in the tide of the climate war, there are much greater social and political battles to be fought for fundamental freedoms. In the name of limits – limits to growth, limits to freedom, limits to democracy and limits on energy – the need for negative economic growth and even negative population growth is seriously argued. They have misused science to promulgate values that are seriously at odds with humanitarian goals, our liberal enlightenment heritage and rational economic principle.

    CWON is right – they are an enemy of humanity and the primary goal is to assign them to the dustbin of history. We can provide essential development, manage our economies with far better results than we have seen recently and solve this so-called messy problem.

    Best regards
    Captain Kangaroo

    • ceteris non paribus

      We have always been at war with “they”.

    • Thanks Captain, the abuse I take it’s good to hear at least a few get the point regarding the politically correct dialogue protocal that is mandated, imposed and supported by the moderator. It’s the opposite of trying break “gridlock” which was listed as a goal only the other day.

      If other support the point perhaps we get a reply in our lifetime.


    • Peter Davies

      Anthony Watts will know what email address is being used if you wish to follow this up by complaining to him. It might just be another person with the same name.

  66. Max M @ 13/12 3.58 am
    “Wonders are many on Earth, and the greatest of these is man.
    There is nothing beyond his power… for every ill he hath found a remedy,
    Save only death.’
    H/T Sophocles.

  67. Alex Heyworth

    “Our power providers Georgia Power/Southern Company tell us coal is the key to regional prosperity by providing abundant, cheap energy”

    And that is the problem. Abundant, cheap energy is the key to global, as well as regional prosperity. The only sources of abundant, cheap energy we have are coal, oil, gas, hydro, uranium and (potentially) thorium. Until the world’s people are sufficiently grown up to accept nuclear power as our main energy source, we are stuck with fossil fuels. At the moment it is impossible to have a rational discussion because too many people have irrational fears of nuclear power.

    • Alex,

    • Alex –
      Long ago I presented some warmists with the choice between Fossil fuel and nuclear. They rejected both – or rather WOULD NOT make the choice. They couldn’t accept fossil – and would not accept nuclear because of Three Mile Island. Ignoring, of course, the final results of that little excursion – that there was no (zero) deaths from it nor was there any major radioactive release.

      Instead, they would only accept “Green” energy sources – like wind. Even though I pointed out the problems with wind. The kicker is that when one of the original wind companies wanted to put up a wind farm near where they lived – they became anti-wind activists – but only for that one wind farm. NIMBY strikes again.
      Hypocrisy is universal and always with us.

  68. Guess this is tied in with the energy debate.
    For many reasons we’ve come here to Judith’s blog and elsewhere to argue the science, advocacy and political motivations of the CAGW hypothesis. Below and above arguments about scientific method are concerns about critical investigation and truth.

    We denizens have all been exposed to the critical traditions of Western society,to issues of personal responsibility explored in Greek theatre, to the enlightenment thinkers, to Popper and Heyak and others. But now collectivist ideologies have become pervasive in our schools, universities and media. So where today is our youth introduced to the currents of thought that challenge group thinking? The question that concerns me is how do we go about opening up the debate today so that they be made more aware of the values of the critical individualist tradition which created our Civilization?

      • “collectivist ideologies” is better than “advocate” but we can already see BartR going into hyjack tailspin below trying to redirect the most logical meaning of the term. Again, any vague language use will be exploited and simply contributes to the “gridlock” lamented on the other day.

        As it is, it remain slow rhetorical progress. So what if they have a cow at Real Climate already? Just come out and confirm the obvious facts I allude to regarding AGW “advocates” and leftist politics.

        Trust me, you’ll feel better about it in a few days after the hate email subsides and be a better person for the effort. Why must we maintain the politically correct code of warmers to converse?

      • cwon14

        So, you’re in favor of the nanny state paternalistically controlling your every action and thought by commands issued from committees?

        I’m not quite as good at this question thing as Steven Mosher, so you’ll have to excuse if that sounded awkward.

        Do you support more bureaucracy and a larger IPCC, or do you disagree with everything Ross McKitrick stands for?

        The individual denizens want to know. In a strictly non-collective way.

    • +1

    • ceteris non paribus

      – critical individualist tradition which created our Civilization?

      Followed by three completely identical back-slapping posts…

      I loves me some collectivist irony in the morning. :-)

      Brian: “You’re all individuals!”

      • Bart R,

        Speaking of plussing, I found this:

        quite brilliant.

      • A pile of drivel of course.

      • Willard do you support any form of lying for a cause

      • Steven Mosher said elsewhere:
        Look you have the village vuk suggesting that CET is a global record.
        It is not the ‘village vuk’ but data sets fron HadCRUT and GISS:
        Hey you are ‘big country data-boy’ you can do even better job, so we can have a reliable reference.

      • willard, wasn’t your name your honor, for a while anyway? Mr. mosher, asked a fair question… so, what gives?

      • willard (March 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm)

        I blush. Of my little experiments in dynamic, shared, crowdsourced, open, public presentation you like that one?

        As cwon14 observes, a “pile of drivel of course”; and yet WSJ chose to print it.. I hardly think any amount of correction will quite expunge the drivel of it.

        Everyone is welcome to try.

        The prezi is shareable, can be copied and edited to one’s heart’s content.

        It takes very little time to create a prezi account, seconds to copy, and however long as one wishes to tailor the presentation to whatever ends one chooses.

        Have at, willard, cwon14, and whosoever wants to diverge from the limits of WordPress’ nesting structures.

        And I must say, :)

        If I may, steven mosher wonders who supports any form of lying for a cause, which is funny, coming from a man who’s career is in marketing, but poignant too, in its ambiguity.

        Is it intended to be read as “do you support ‘all forms of lying’ for a cause,” or “do you support any form ‘of lying for a cause'”? Or some other meaning?

        Because however one answers the one question, it’s hairsplittingly tinted by a hint of the other meaning.

        And really, shouldn’t the question simply be, “Have you stopped beating your fill-in-the-blank?”

        For the record, I don’t support having causes in the first place personally, though I don’t mind if others profess to causes (even if only for the sake of entertainment value), so I doubt I will be able to relate to the meaning of the question, if there is one.

        Which leads me to wonder why Tom believes the question so fair?

        Tom, do you support any form of question for a cause?

      • Bart, Right before you made a reappearance, I was commiserating the fact that only a few people on this comment blog are willing to dig into the science-for-science-sake end of things. Then I saw your name appear after your self-imposed hiatus, and I perked up.

        That Prezi is certainly interesting. Oddly, I was playing around with Adobe Edge at work and this Prezi tool is something to consider if you want to do a non-linear kind of presentation. It would be cool for a large poster presentation where you can interact with it (zoom, pan, etc) on a smaller screen.

      • Tom,

        You assume that Moshpit’s question is a fair one. You also assume that answering this question would be honorable. Considering these assumptions, you might be interested share your own answer to this question. I doubt your assumptions, but if you go first and provide a reasoned answer, I might be tempted to share my own.

        For the record, if you know where we can find Moshpit’s own answer to this question, it would be appreciated.

        Many thanks!

        INTEGRITY(tm) Beware Your Wishes

      • When have I claimed ‘honor’, willard. I am still a simple sinner just like you, & Bart R, too.

      • PS/ We need to ask Joshua, the meaning of ‘fair’, just to be fair.

      • Tom

        Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged. Give me sin again.

        I’m partial to all seven.

        Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy.

        Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.

        Nothing makes one so vain as being told one is a sinner.

        A sin takes on a new and real terror when there seems a chance that it is going to be found out.

        To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.

        Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden. It is forbidden because it hurts so good.

        Marriage is three parts love, and seven parts forgiveness of sin.

        Commit the oldest sins the newest kinds of way.

        Sin is geographical.

        Other mens’ sins are before our eyes. Ours are behind our backs.

        Should we all confess our sins to one another we would all laugh at one another for our lack of originality

        The only sin is to hurting other people unnecessarily. All other “sins” are invented nonsense.

        Simple sinner? Sir, I am an expert sinner.

      • Red Bart, it sounds like your are in the right business.

      • Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom

        I am clearly in the wrong business, if I profess to expertise in sin, yet am not a politician nor priest, philosopher nor marketing man.

        Ad hom away howsoever you will, you do not touch my ideas, which is all I’m here for, nor do you contribute to Climate Etc., while you cannot grasp that it’s about ideas, not personalities.

      • WHT

        You ain’t seen nothing yet.

        Get your own prezi account. They’re free. And they’re freeing. Imagine the day when the denizens here can go off to a collaborative shared whiteboard, hash out their ideas together, show graphically what they mean immediately and clearly, and everyone can see the process in real time.

        That would empower Dr. Curry’s collective of individuals to something much more like what she expresses she hopes Climate Etc. to achieve.

        I think she’s done enough for us that we can each put a few minutes into giving it a shot.

      • cnp,
        Do you disagree with the point of the post?

      • I’m not.

    • BC

      I too lament collectivism gone wild.

      Nanny-statists who complain the IPCC is too small, and whose solution starts by adding two new levels of administration and bureaucracy — untrained in science — to keep it in line, in particular get me exercised. I’m looking your way, there, Ross McKitrick.

      Speaking of, the collectivist con-artistry of the GWPF also pushes repugnant ideologies, if not in the ideas they claim to espouse then certainly the meaning underlying their doublespeak.

      And when Lord Monckton yocks it up calling other human beings ‘watermelon’ and yellow, does he really not get what collective that puts him into in the USA? Does he not know the cheers he gets in some crowds aren’t all about the environmental mob?

      When you speak of universities, you bring to mind the University of Guelph, not only home to Ross McKitrick and a third of the board of EPRF, but also the place the Canadian Robocall scandal first emerged, where the ideology runs so thick that it smacks you in the face with its corporate communalism.

      • I must have missed the ROBOcall thing. How many dozens of protesters were there?

      • cd0802

        It’s so hard to say.

        Which time?

        Which location?

        About 40 dozen in the second one in Guelph, according to unreliable sources.. which if you’ve ever been to Guelph, you’d understand is practically every non-drinker in the city limits.

        Of course, it may just be that I like the sound of the word ‘Guelph’ that led me to mention it.

        The protests in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Vancouver and so forth were apparently larger. It’s hard to tell with Canadian protests. You go to one, and a hockey game could break out.

      • LOL, I think I did see a sign on a hockey stick.

      • cd0802

        A hockey stick, you say?

    • andrew adams

      Definitions of “collectivist ideologies” and “critical individualist tradition” required.

    • First off, it’s Hayek.

      Second, getting directly to political correctness;


      Your heart seem in the right place here BC. As for;

      “The question that concerns me is how do we go about opening up the debate today so that they be made more aware of the values of the critical individualist tradition which created our Civilization?”

      How about some plain talk about who is what in the debate both now and through the whole AGW social event?

      As for Dr. Curry “1+” your post….something a little more is required given the track record.

      • I finally got it, cwon it Joshua’s evil doppleganger. Or is it that Joshua is cwon’s evil twin? Same same.

        Let’s see, is there anyone else wants to go for the prize for the most frequent, pointless demands telling Dr. Curry what to post?

        Maybe y’all should go to Real Climate and WUWT and tell Schmidt and Watts what they should write.

        Oh, right, neither one of them wouldn put up with so much boring, repetitive, useless, never ending tripe. I am all for the open dialogue Dr. Curry allows and encourages here. But sometimes reading a particularly inane comment makes me want to go all Thomas Friedman.

        Maybe cwon could go join Josh wherever he’s hiding and let the adults talk for a while.

        Just because you’re a skeptic, doesn’t mean you can’t be a (put your own expletive here).

      • Yawn.

    • Beth

      Thanks for elevating the discussion.

      It is refreshing to read a “broader brush” take of the ideological factors behind the “climate debate”, rather than being stuck down in the weeds discussing individual data points and their significance.


    • Beth
      To understand Western foundations that you speak of, see Vishal Mangalwadi, The Book That Made Your World

    • Good one Beth me darlin’ – you’ve stirred the possums here. The principles of the enlightenment tradition – the separation of church and state, democracy, the protection of the weak against the strong, science and progress – are the core knowledge of the great society. I would add some ideas from Hayek of restraining government expenditure and not artificially depressing interest rates. This is starkly opposed to the philosophies of greater government intervention in private lives in a multitude of areas and the economic adventures of ever increasing government taxation and spending. The former the ‘road to serfdom’ and the latter leading inevitably to economic disaster.

      ‘They’ – confuse a rich intellectual tradition with their own shallow collectivism which infests government, educational institutions and the media. We shall have to meet them and defeat them in trenches of the climate war.

      Best regards
      Captain Kangaroo

    • Beth C. said “We denizens have all been exposed to the critical traditions of Western society…” and I hope you are roughly right.

      You made me think of this excellent book, “Prophets Facing Backwards” my Meera Nanda, about the influence of Western postmodern ideas in the non-West (for Nanda, India in particular), where (Nanda argues) the culture needs all of the Enlightenment tools it can get. Very interesting book.

  69. @ Hunter,
    below is an example of an electricity producing electromagnetic motor.
    one of many that follow on at this website.
    re my earlier ‘hacking incident’, I believe my computer has been hacked and am continuing to take precautions. I could be wrong.

    • William,
      A safe bet is to always bet that anyone claiming a motor can produce more energy than it comsuems is that it is a fraud. Seldom and always are seldom true, except in the case of perpetual motion: then they are never true.

  70. We need as much Coal as we can to overcome the sure to come freezing winters =>

    Those who demonize it now will soon venerate it. I cannot wait to see that.

    What a sad time in the history have we come to when some want to do away with cheap energy when billions live in the dark. Something has really gone wrong.

    • G-man

      Carbon fiber from coal is the new black.

      Put on a sweater

      How’s that for veneration?

    • I am looking for feedback on my interpretation of the global mean temperature for publication given above.

      Thanks in advance.

      • Girma

        You ask for feedback.

        I’m not a climate expert, but let me give you mine.

        The undeniable STRENGTH of your analysis is that it is based on empirical data (i.e. actual real-time physical observations).

        This is a very powerful strength (one cannot argue against facts).

        The WEAKNESS (if one could call it that) is that it does not tie these observations (and the predictions that result) to a hypothesis or mechanism.

        Example (ref. Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu): gradual underlying warming trend is very likely a result of our continuing to emerge from a largely solar-induced LIA, while multi-decadal cycles are very likely a result of natural variability, caused principally by changes in ocean currents (ENSO, PDO, AO or whatever), which themselves may have a solar component, the mechanism for which is still not understood.

        Just my thoughts on this.


      • Mr. Orssengo

        For once, listen to Steven Mosher (

        Even you must admit that there are overwhelming criticisms of your simple first order trend analysis graphs that to every appearance you just do not actually understand on the most straightforward technical level.

        Now, you turn to second order graphical analysis, seeking to repeat the legion of graphical errors at a completely different order of operations.

        Read some competent introductory literature on graphical analysis and methods. Do some remedial tests. Watch some youtubes. Attend the Khan academy. Audit some university courses. Before. You. Make. A. Bigger. Fool. Of. Yourself.

        If you must, in the end, do analysis of trends of trends, at least do not make the simpleton’s mistake of looking only at trends all of the same length. Look at plots of trends of different fixed lengths. Compare these multiple plots to each other. Keep the original curve handy for reference. Perhaps start with data from a subject you feel less obsessively passionate about, to practice and learn some technique.

        The interpretation you seek to do is among the most dubious practices of graphical analysis: done properly, much can be revealed of the nature of problem spaces. Which means you may as well be reading entrails.

      • steven mosher


        If you wont read palmer then do some simple sensitivity excercises on your “method”.

        1. throw away half of your data. torture the remaining half any way you like. See if your “model” can predict the held out sample. This is called
        “not fooling yourself”

        2. Try 35 years.. you know that Jones mentioned that 35 years was more justifiable than 30 years.. heck try 10, 15, 29, 31, 42.

        what this gets to is the lack of any physical basis or mechanism in your treatment of the data.

      • Steven

        Thanks for your comment.

        As you suggested, here is the pattern for 35-years GMT trends.

        In this case the curves are crisper but the results are the same as for the 30 years trend plot.

      • Mr. Orssengo

        To enlarge on Steven Mosher’s comments, which aren’t a bad starting point, and because of claims you’ve made here and elsethread about the meaning of your plot, I’d like to offer some small pointers in the interpretation of a second order, or derivative, curve.

        Firstly, one of the most significant differences between such a curve and a first order curve is the meaning of zero.

        Zero is the point where you find, of course in the limit, a zero slope.

        Thus it is the only point on the derivative line not indicating change.

        You cannot look at your two curves and say “the results are the same”, given the many changes in intersection with zero, maximum and minimum.

        Moreover, the area between the curve and the zero line is also extremely significant. Where the area above zero is larger than the area below zero, you are seeing a dramatically higher positive change in what is being plotted on the first order graph (Global Temperature, in this case) overall than negative. Your graph is, to anyone skilled in reading derivative plots, screaming evidence of increasing global temperature rise.

        Further still, note the relative size of the two (roughly) triangular areas below the zero line which I’ll refer to as Area(V1) and Area(V2) for obvious reasons.

        Do you see how much smaller the later Area(V2) is than the earlier Area(V1)? That indicates that tendency toward negative slopes is declining, and tendency of Global Temperature to hit lower levels is dropping with time.

        However, not all is lost for your cause, given that you’ve got so frustratingly little data to use to support your analyses, and the data is of such questionable quality.

        Extending Steven’s excellent suggestions, I recommend start with trend lines of 70 years, and plot those, then repeat for 67 years, then 64, and so on down to 1 year. Compare those plots one to another, to see the patterns of differences that may appear. And do it by month, not by year. This should give you far more granularity, and you can use even-numbered months while formulating your ideas, then use odd-numbered months to test your hypotheses.

        Though really, for this exercise, it would be far better to go back to raw data and obtain trends of days a fixed number of years apart, rather than to use aggregate data, for many good reasons. Principally, aggregation of raw data introduces a bias when taken to the second order. Far better to take to the second order, and then aggregate those results.

        And perhaps use multiple datasets. A single dataset for higher order exercises is going to mislead you more often than not.

      • Girma, I have been an advocate of the idea that if one has a hypothesis, one should use it to predict the future. Looking at your graph, I suspect this might be possible.

        We know what the HAD/CRU data is for 1982 and 1983. From your graph, we can guess that the 30 year slope will around 0.15 C per decade, when it comes to 2012 and 2013. I suspect there ought to be a simple way of using the data from 1982 and 1983 to predict what the temperatures will be for 2012 and 2013. Or is it not that simple?

      • Jim Cripwell

        No. Really no.

        It’s not that simple.

        Here’s only one of several issues:

        Recall that the graph plots slopes, not temperatures.

        It is a derivative plot. To obtain _temperature_ again from the slope (derivative) of temperature at any point requires integration.

        If f(T) is the function that plots temperature, then Girma’s trends plot in its limits approaches f'(T).

        The solution to the integral f'(T) will be f(T) + C.

        Some constant term is introduced in the solution, and that C value is unknown and unknowable.

    • Girma

      How well do your projections compare with those of vuk?


  71. corporate message

    When the subject turns to Ontario:
    The state TV channel, TVO, is more activist than is CBC
    Very heavy censorship against posts that doubt the consensus.
    Moratorium imposed on discussing climate.
    Posters banned.
    They take the tack that there are stories with “no other side” worth presenting.

    DeSmog blog glorifies producer Daniel Kitts’ position.

  72. Living in Western Pennsylvania in the 1930`s and 40`s I watched my grandfather and his 3 brothers emerge from the coal mines with their blackened faces and carbide helmets and decided I didn`t want to be a coal miner. But I had complete respect for them for having the courage to take that elevator down hundreds of feet under the earth to earn their living, to support their families and provide the affordable eletricity for both consumers and industry. Strangely, except for my grandfather who died at 77 his 3 brothers all lived to their late eighties and early nineties. The air around Pittsburgh was considered the dirtiest in the nation. But yet, look at the great athletes this area spawned…Arnold Palmer, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, John Lujack, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and a host of others so when I read about these elites who want to stop using this precious resource it makes my blood boil. By the way I breathed this dirty air for a good portion of my life and at age 80 I feel great.
    others. So when I hear these elites trying to condemn this precious resource it makes my blood boil. By the way I lived breathing that dirty air all during my cand throughildhood

    • Oh stop it–you know you died in your 50s.

    • As a child my paternal grandfather was sold to a farmer. Such indenturing of teenagers was not uncommon in the industrial midlands around about the time of the first world war.
      When he was old enough he became a coal miner, which he much preferred, with better pay and conditions than being a farm laborer.
      He gave up coal mining to become a furnace-man and lost that job to mechanization. He got lung disease from his final job, he was a nickel plate polisher; all the polishers died of lung disease.

  73. Pielke, Jr’s iron law prevails; nations will choose economic growth and poverty reduction over carbon dioxide reduction. Poor countries therefore choose coal. To them it is an angel, not a demon.

    Two years ago the World Bank approved a $3.7 billion loan to South Africa to build one of the world’s largest coal plants, approval which required the US, UK and others to abstain, since they could not bring themselves to overtly approve it.

  74. JUDITH – ISN’T CO2 INDUCED OCEAN ACIDIFICATION SUFFICIENT REASON TO REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS? I heard most of this interview, and wrote this on the CBC site: “I guess it was Judith Curry talking, I missed the intro. She talked about the complexities of the science of climatic change, about tradeoffs even if there is climatic warming (what’s bad in one location is good in another) and argued that the case for an anthropogenic CO2-global warming link is tenuous at best. I can agree with many facets of her arguments and skepticism, but I am left with nagging thoughts about migratory birds, polar bears, ocean acidification and children growing up in a greatly diminished natural world, even if it is more prosperous than it might be were we to make the sacrifices needed to reduce GHG emissions.”
    So,,, Judith, what about Ocean Acidification and its implications? I think there is little debate about the cause (rising CO2), and there is very good reason to be concerned. Isn’t this issue alone sufficient to justify massive reduction in our global CO2 emissions?

    • No, nagging thoughts are not enough to justify massive reduction in our global CO2 emissions.

      • OK… to go beyond nagging thoughts, go to advanced search in and search the exact phrase”ocean acidification” for 2012-2012, restricting it to -Biology, Life Sciences, and Environmental Science, Chemistry and Materials Science, Physics, Astronomy, and Planetary Science read the first 50+ abstracts or full papers.. and you can see where some of my nagging thoughts come from.

    • You need to know the aikalinity of the ocean and acidity of the 0.03%~0.04%. The acidity of the ocean will not change a bit (remains alkaline level almost unchanged) even if the atmosphere has doubled CO2 content to 800ppm.

      • I meant to say ‘acidity of the CO2 0.03%~0.04% in the atmosphere when dissolved in ocean is minimal. The acidity of the ocean …’

      • You need to know the aikalinity of the ocean and acidity of the 0.03%~0.04%. The acidity of the ocean will not change a bit (remains alkaline level almost unchanged) even if the atmosphere has doubled CO2 content to 800ppm.

        SamNC offers us an excellent example here of those who deny the relevant science, such as what can be read at this article on ocean acidification, and who replace it with their own made-up science as their justification for hiding their head in the sand. This is typical of the genre.

      • Vaughan,
        Show us data, not scary articles. People are tired of fear mongering. It is fun at parties with Ehrlich, I am sure, but it is not helpful in the real world.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @hunter Show us data, not scary articles.

        Ah, the purest form of climate change denial, splendid example there, hunter! ;)

        But I’m not sure what you mean by “show us the data.” Ignoring the section on “possible impacts” which is what I assume you mean by your “scary articles,” that article had plenty of data.

        However maybe you don’t trust Wikipedia. For you we have Conservapedia instead. Conservapedia considers CO2-induced ocean acidification such a non-problem that they don’t even have anything about it, only material on acidification caused by acid rain. Like you they would prefer it if CO2 had no impact on ocean pH and therefore prefer to assume it doesn’t exist, only acid rain.

        The data says differently: field measurements show the average ocean pH at the surface to have been 8.104 in the 1990s and around 8.069 now. As CO2 continues to climb this rate of decrease in pH will increase.

        Although this rate of decrease may seem small, it is masked by calcium carbonate currently buffering the pH. This buffering action is at the price of consuming the calcium carbonate by converting it to soluble bicarbonate, a form that is useless to the wide range of marine organisms that depend on calcium carbonate for their shells and plates.

      • The science does not demonstrate that ocean acidification is a problem. There are fears by some of it potentially being a problem, but there is very little real science. It appears that there is a significant natural variability in the ocean that would suggest that any change due to human rereased CO2 would be a very minor impact to life in the ocean. More of the faith of fear by the cAGW crowd.

      • Dr Pratt,

        I thought you were in denial of science. I don’t bother to read alarmist articles as they are predictable propaganda. I thought you like to calculations. Did you do any ocean acidification calculations wrt to oceans alkalinity and if the atmophere has 0.04% and 0.08% CO2 what is the acidification or any significant lowering of ocean alkalinity. Now you are challenged.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Sam, ocean pH is not decreasing “significantly” in your sense because it’s being buffered by the calcium carbonate in the ocean. A more insightful way to understand the impact of CO2 on the chemistry of the ocean is that CO2 is dissolving otherwise insoluble calcium carbonate yielding soluble calcium bicarbonate. pH changes very little during the dissolving process.

        The most accurate way to assess the impact of rising CO2 therefore would be to observe the reduction in calcium carbonate. However this is difficult since in the main body of the oceans it extends down several kilometers. It is therefore more convenient to use the small changes in pH as a proxy for the large reductions in calcium carbonate, which is the real problem. Although the changes are small, pH can be measured to sufficient accuracy that it works well as a proxy.

        I thought you were in denial of science. … Now you are challenged.

        I have to say your tone leaves nothing to the imagination.

      • Vaughan,

        Your answer was so preditable, calculation challenged.

      • Ocean acidification or nuetralization, is a serious problem. Since the beginning of the industrial age, the ph of the ocean has changed from approximately 8.2 to 8.1. UCSD researchers have found that in some areas of the world’s oceans, the change is nearly measurable in the background noise created by ocean upwelling and downwelling.

      • So did you find out what caused the upwelling and downwelling, captain?

      • I hope your are not rely on the ocean acidification grant money to make a living to say serious.

      • That’s a > 40% change (30 if you use more precise numbers). p anything is a log scale.

      • SamNC, Because of my dinner, I am 36% more likely to die of a heart attack and 20% more likely to die of cancer. I guess I shouldn’t rely on any grants :)

      • Eli, Yeap, that is a pretty big change,

        “They found that in some places, such as Antarctica and the Line Islands of the south Pacific, the range of pH variance is much more limited than in areas of the California coast subject to large vertical movements of water known as upwellings. In some of their study areas, they found that the decrease in seawater pH being caused by greenhouse gas emissions is still within the bounds of natural pH fluctuation. Some areas already experience daily acidity levels that scientists had expected would only be reached at the end of the 21st Century.”

        Fascinating research.

      • Hey there Capt. – Why don’t you show us your historical global, ocean pH record? How many data points does it have and how far back does it go?

      • Captain,

        Did you not find the article mention the problem and then immediately jump to conclusion its CO2 without any substantiation, low quality research result?

        All I see is the alarmists propaganda machines at work.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Cap’n Dallas

        Forgive me if I have missed the point big time, but how is sthg ‘nearly measurable’? Is it like being ‘almost pregnant’ or ‘75% a virgin’?

        If you can’t measure it, how do you know that you nearly can?

      • Latimer Alder

        @vaughan pratt

        Please show the citation for the field measurements you claim. I think that this is exactly what Hunter meant by ‘show us the data’

        If they actually truly represent ‘average ocean pH’, they sure have done a lot of measuring, since ‘the ocean’ is a big big place.

        Looking forward very much to reading the paper(s) that truly show they can average pH to 4 sig figs.

        You also say

        ‘Although this rate of decrease may seem small, it is masked by calcium carbonate currently buffering the pH’

        Just to note that I sailed into the English port of Newhaven recently. The sight of all the chalk cliffs along the south coast of England and the north coast of France is quite spectacular.

        There is an awful lot of calcium carbonate abutting the ocean, and it’ll take an awful lot of CO2 to get rid of that buffer. I think we can safely assume that it will continue to be there for the foreseeable future

      • There is an awful lot of calcium carbonate abutting the ocean, and it’ll take an awful lot of CO2 to get rid of that buffer. I think we can safely assume that it will continue to be there for the foreseeable future

        Latimer, in a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the White Cliffs of Dover were named as the third greatest natural wonder in Britain. Are you so unpatriotic as to wish the cliffs in their entirety to jump into the ocean merely to prove your point?

        The cliffs average around 75 m in height, stretch 16 km along the coast, and are eroding at 1 cm/yr. Do the maths.

        Proud thought they be, and you of them, that rate of jumping into the ocean falls orders of magnitude short of offsetting the ocean ravages of today’s CO2 level. That level was increasing at 7 ppmv/decade in 1958, and is now up to 25 ppmv/decade, with no sign of this annual rate of increase easing up!

        Furthermore this rate has represented a steady 47% of the rate of increase of human emissions of CO2 over that period. If that steady rate keeps up, all you need to do to predict future CO2 is predict future consumption of fossil fuel.

        So I wouldn’t be so sure that Britain’s resources can save humanity from itself as well as they were able to save the neighborhood from the Spanish Armada in 1588.

        Those are my numbers. If you don’t like them I have others.

      • Latimer Alder


        Please note that I make no claim that the English Channel is alone in being the only place where chalk outcrops into the ocean. Nor did I claim that the White Cliffs of Dover were sufficient in scope to ‘save the world’.

        I used them purely for illustrative purposes to show that chalk is a widespread material and to consume all that has been deposited over geologic time will take an awful lot of CO2.

        PS You have obviously been looking at the Wikipedia entry for The White Cliffs of Dover. And though that particular named feature may only stretch for 10 miles, much of the south coast of England (say 250 miles) is composed of similar (but differently named) cliffs. As is their counterpart on the French side of La Manche. I have sailed around a lot of them and cycled up and down quite a few. There is a lot of it about here. Let alone in Germany and Denmark and Alaska and, no doubt, numerous other places I did not immediately find on a quick google search.

      • Latimer Alder


        and when we’ve used up all the chalk cliffs in the world, we can start on the limestone ones. Which seems to be compose about 10% of all the world’s sedimentary rocks.

        There is a lot of it around. It isn’t going to run out because of a teensy bit of CO2 in the atmosphere.

      • Latimer Alder


        You say ‘do the math’.

        I’d much prefer to see your calculations for the annual rate of loss of limestone/chalk in volume terms because of the increase in carbon dioxide. You can present it any which way you like, but cubic km would probably be best:

        Here;s the start:

        The annual rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 is X tonnes…


        Resulting decrease in volume of CaCO3 of Y tonnes, occupying
        Z cubic kilometres.

        BTW: Using only Google derived figures (you may have better), I estimated the annual global loss of of chalk/limestone due to the buffering effect to be about 6 cubic kilometres. Which isn’t very scary, given the earth’s surface area of 362,000,000 sq km.

      • Latimer, perhaps the simplest way of calculating the impact of increased CO2 on ocean carbonate is to start from the following two premises.

        1. Insoluble calcium carbonate finds its way into the ocean by mechanical rather than chemical means, in particular erosion from wave action. Le Chatelier’s principle only applies to reactions, not to mechanical erosion of this type. Hence the rate at which carbonate enters the ocean will not increase as a result of depletion of ocean carbonate, unlike situations governed by Le Chatelier’s principle.

        2. When atmospheric CO2 remains at a steady level, say 280 ppmv, insoluble calcium carbonate dissolves (or whatever the correct chemical verb is) to become soluble bicarbonate, raising the carbonate compensation depth (CCD). That process in combination with erosion results in the CCD drifting into an equilibrium value over periods on the order of perhaps a thousand years (as a guess, if you have a better guess be my guest). In this equilibrium situation, carbonate dissolves at the same rate as erosion introduces it into the ocean.

        Now (still part of premise 2) when CO2 doubles, carbonate dissolves faster, as governed by Le Chatelier’s principle (the Wikipedia article on CCD even refers to the principle). But since the erosion contribution does not change, net carbonate is decreasing and therefore the CCD must rise. This in turn results in a reduction in the rate carbonate dissolves, until that rate returns to the same value as when CO2 was at 280 ppmv, namely the original rate at which carbonate is being deposited by erosion, which in the meantime is still unchanged.

        Do you accept either of these premises?

        Assuming you accept both, it should be clear that no matter how much chalk there is on all the cliffs in the world, that quantity has no relevance to the fact that carbonate dissolving at a faster rate must raise the CCD until equilibrium is restored.

        Now if you want to argue that this will happen too slowly to be relevant to us, that’s a different argument. I don’t know how fast this is happening (this is not my area), anyone here know? I also don’t know how the distribution of carbonate between the CCD and the surface varies with rising CCD.

    • No, it isn’t. Even if it was, no real reduction is achieved. It’s just bureaucratic verbiage. The hysteria can’t achieve anything. Trading will reduce zero CO2. A small reduction in economic activity will reduce more than any planned legislation. Wake up!

    • David,
      No, CO2 acidifying the coeans is not a sufficient reason to reduce CO2 emissions.
      It is a great talking point to echo, it is a great sceincey sounding way to sell fear, it is a favorite of ecocrats in seeking justifications to impose ever loonier ideas. But it is a problem that exists only in the minds of AGW beleivers. Not in the real world.
      Polar Bears do not believe in AGW either, since they are increasing in population.

      • andrew adams

        Polar Bears do not believe in AGW either, since they are increasing in population.

        Really? According to this of the various polar bear populations eight are decreasing, three are stable and only one is increasing (there is unsufficient data for the remaining seven).

      • Latimer Alder

        @andrew adams

        Why are these numbers always reported in this bizarre way? To show that the total number of polar bears is increasing or decreasing should be very simple.


        Count the total number of bears at time A
        Count the total number of bears at time B (later than A)
        Count the total number of bears at time C (later than A and B)

        ….(you get the idea).

        Then show how the total number varies with time.

        Simply saying that population x is increasing or decreasing tells you nothing about the total number…which is the thing you are frigging interested in.

        Instead we have ‘expert judgement, simulations and wild guesses. Here, for example is the note for the supposedly declining population in the study you cite at ‘Norwegian Bay’.

        ‘82% of PVA simulations resulted in population decline after 10 years; demographic data are 11 years old.Projections of decline are high also because of low sample size’

        The real data is old (11 years) and the judgement that the population is declining is based on a ‘simulation’, not on an actual measurement.

        And here for ‘Western Hudson Bay’. Another population said to be ‘Declining’ and at ‘Very High’ risk of future decline.

        ‘100% of PVA simulations resulted in subpopulation decline after 10 years. Subpopulation is declining without harvest. Local people are seeing more polar bears and TEK suggests that there may have been a northward shift in distribution’ . So the model is right and the local people must be wrong.

        Southern Beaufort Sea is also ‘Declining’. But see if you can make sense of the reasoning:

        ‘Population estimate is from an analysis of mark-recapture data from 2001 – 2006. Estimated risk of future decline is based on vital rates estimated from the 2001-2006 data used in matrix-based demographic models that incorporate sea ice forecasts. The SB-NB boundary is being re-considered, which may affect estimates of the size and status of both subpopulations.’

        I gave up after looking at these three…….I imagine that the other five supposedly declining populations have similar characteristics..

        Rhetorical question: Why don’t frigging climatologists go out an actually measure the frigging things that they say the are so frigging interested in rather than model something else then draw all sort of high-blown conclusions from them?

      • andrew adams


        Firstly, a slight quibble – the people studying polar bear populations are not climate scientists. As for why they don’t just publish the total number and be done with it, well you would have to ask them but for a start I think it is very difficult to actually count them. The oft-cited figure seems to be 20,000-25,000 in total but that is only an estimate. Maybe for people who actually study polar bears professionally looking at them on a population by population basis makes more sense because that way they can identify trends in many of the areas even if it is hard to put exact numbers on them and also look at the specific threats to the bears’ habitats, food supplies etc. which may well be different in different areas.
        Do you seriously think that, regardless of arguments about the extent to which AGW is a contributing factor, it is unreasonable that the US, Canada and Russia all consider polar bears to be an endangered species or that they are on the IUCN World Conservation Union’s Red List?

      • Latimer Alder


        Sorry, I found your whole post to be a quibble, not just your introduction.

        The fate of the polar bear (photshopped or real) has been so iconic to the whole CAGW story ever in Gore’s movie six years ago, that I fidn it utterly incredible that it is not a simple matter to say whether the numbers are rising or falling.

        PBs must be one of the most studied animals on the planet. But we don’t even know this basic stuff about them? We have to rely on models and interpolations and stuff? For good evidence that PB numbers were indeed dropping would surely open up the public’s purse strings for activist groups like WWF.

        But instead we have this rather chaotic piecemeal approach that can only be really summarised as ‘haven’t a clue matey’. Very very strange.

        As to whether the bear is on the list you mention or not, I rather suspect that being n that list is a prereq to the funding of the always essential ‘further research’. So I take nothing from its contents other than the need for ‘polar bear researchers’ (who seem to have done a pretty shoddy job so far) to find continued research funding.

      • which is the thing you are frigging interested in.

        Thought you said you were managing your anger these days, Latimer. I must have misunderstood you. ;)

    • Wayne Delbeke

      Check the average pH of river and rain water. Maybe we should stop all runoff from entering the oceans to preserve the ocean pH. So how do all those fish and fresh water shellfish survive in that “acidic” fresh water? /sarc off Chill out and do some reading on ocean pH variability and buffering and partial pressures and …. Relax. It’s going to be ok.

  75. Hunter, that’s an opinion, but does not reflect my understanding of the science, including the uncertainties of it. I would really like to hear from Judith on this one.

    • David – I often abstain from discussions of ocean acidification in this blog, because they don’t resolve much, but I’d like to respond to your question based on your credentials, which imply a serious interest in further information on the subject.

      In the past, I’ve suggested to Dr. Curry that she might invite an expert working in that particular field to do a guest post here, but she has not yet found someone to fill that slot. However, it’s an important topic, and so although I’m not one of those experts, I think you might be interested in the following article on Ocean Acidification – “The Other CO2 Problem”, to provide some background, and more importantly perhaps, to cite some useful references on the topic, including the very recent Science paper by Honisch et al.

      Ocean acidification is not yet a serious problem, despite hints of trouble in some regions, but the rate at which it’s occurring implies a significant potential for serious harm if nothing is done to mitigate it.

      • Why some parts of the world is more serious than other parts. Its obvious fault that CO2 is the main cause of acidification if you consider CO2 in atmosphere is about 400ppm evenly (or say +/- 20 ppm) distributed around the world. Solubility of CO2 in rain or stream or ocean is low. Quantity of rain compared with ocean water is as trace as CO2 in the atmosphere. 30% or 40% H+ ion increase are just nuts without chemistry knowledge!

      • Sam NC,
        OA, like mitigation and other large facets of AGW theology, do not require actual evidence logic or reason. They are axiomatic, based on sciencey sounding things like CO2 uptake and CO2 mitigation.
        That if AGW were actually based on evidence the very idea of OA would not exist but wold be called neutralization. Mitigation would not even be on the table (and even most believers are now edging away from it), but we would instead be doing the things that have been shown to work as the world changes: adapt.

      • OA does not exist and neutralization is just part of the long carbon cycle, nothing unusual.

      • Thanks, v. helpful. I like your music too!

      • Glad to know but serious how often do you see Dr. Curry answer any questions posted.

        OK. I will shut up so don’t have to hear my music.

      • Latimer Alder

        @fred moolten

        I read your paper.

        1. You state

        ‘Preindustrial ocean pH averaged slightly more than 8.2’

        How do we know this? How do we measure pre-industrial pH? I see this statistic bruited abroad all over the literature, but can’t find the actual source where it has been so established.

        And given that ‘the ocean’ is a big big place and we know that today’s pH varies a lot around the world (though even today we only have estimates not actual measurements *), how do we know that the comparison you make is a true ‘apples with apples’ comparison?

        2. You state

        ‘Although this pH is still on the basic side of neutral, it is the increase in hydrogen ion that is biologically significant’

        Please outline the experiments conducted that show this. Your entire discussion previously focussed on carbonate/bicarbonate chemistry. Now you state – without any qualification – that H+ is the most important thing. H’mm

        3. Can you show – by a survey of real natural living things from gloabl areas where the only thing that differs is pH, that the effects actually occur? Example: find a species distributed worldwide. Take samples from it at areas of differing pH. Show that pH actually affects it as expected.

        Or, simpler- grow such things in identical lab envrionments where pH due to dissolved CO2 is the only thing that changes. Note: pouring HCl into a bucket of seawater and seeing the little wriggly things turn their toes up is not the same thing at all. HCl is a nuch much stringer acid. And it contains chloride ions not carbonate/bicarbonate.


      • LA,
        Lack of evidence is just one aspect of the power of AGW.

      • “Latimer Alder
        @fred moolten
        I read your paper.

        1. You state
        ‘Preindustrial ocean pH averaged slightly more than 8.2′
        How do we know this? ”

        The historic seaweed ring pH proxy reconstruction, they have measured the width of seaweed annual rings, which are controlled by pH, and shown they are flat for the last 2,000 years. If you cut off the record from 1960, and splice in data from a pH electrode, you get a plot which shows that acidification is goig to dissolve the whole planet.

      • I have searched many times for a clear representation of the quantitative aspects of the carbonate chemistry in oceans. Now I found this paper

        (A short version with the plot discussed below is in )

        The Figures at the end of the paper are informative. Fig. 1 in particular tells the concentrations of CO2, HCO3-, and CO3- – as function of pH. An important additional piece of information is that the concentration Ca++ ions is 0.01 mol/kg, i.e. the related value of the Log-scale is -2.

        The plot tells, how strong is the dependence of CO2 concentration on the pH. The inverse consequence of this is that even a major change in CO2 concentration influences the pH only little. This explains the observation that the pH has decreased only about 0.1 from preindustrial time.

        We can observe further that the dominant part (90%) of dissolved carbon is HCO3- and that this part is much less sensitive on pH. In this weak dependence we can see the Revelle factor. Furthermore the CO3- – concentration changes almost as strongly as CO2 concentration, but in the opposite direction. Thus a doubling of CO2 concentration in atmosphere would lead to an equal change in CO2 concentration of the ocean by Henry’s law and that would furthermore reduce the CO3- – concentration by almost one half.

        As the Ca++ concentration is now about 50 time larger than CO3- – concentration the balance for the formation/dissolution of CaCO3 cannot reached rapidly through doubling the Ca++ concentration, which is also higher by a factor of 5 than the total dissolved carbon concentration of sea water. As the balance will not be reached soon, the outcome is that CaCO3 starts to dissolve from marine organisms as described in the paper linked by Fred.

      • Latimer Alder



        Since the H+ ion concentration is so small as to not even feature on the scale of the graph you cite above pH=5, and will be a thousand times less at pH=8, I am sure that we can agree to can entirely drop the misleading and emotive term

        ‘ocean acidification’

        from our vocabulary.

      • I’m sure it has not been introduced as an emotional term, but as the only natural term for the scientists, who introduced it.

        It has been taken as emotional by those who want to disturb the discussion. This is the standard trick. When a term has been accepted and made discussion possible, try to stop it’s use and hope that the discussion cannot proceed at it’s natural pace.

      • Latimer Alder

        Well maybe Chemistry has changed terminology since I got my Bachelors and Masters degree in it 35 years ago.

        But the term we used for adding a small amount of a weak acid to a large amount of an alkali was ‘neutralisation’. For example when doing titrations.

        ‘Acidification’ was used when we added such a large amount of an acid to actually turn the solution acidic. For example when we wished to precipitate a reaction product that was insoluble in truly acidic conditions.

        I am quite happy for the discussion of the chemistry to continue (as long as it is based on actual measurements, not just on theory and models), but I strongly object to using an incorrect term based purely on its potential to mislead and frighten the general public.

        The correct chemical term for the effect we are discussing is ‘neutralisation’

      • It is neutralization when the addition has the goal of making the solution neutral.

        As I wrote before the word “neutralization” sounds really bad in many ways as a term to describe, what’s happening in the oceans.

        The directions are acidic and basic and moving towards acidic is acidification, whatever the present pH at least as long as it’s reasonably close to neutral. That’s the natural way of thinking for a scientist.

      • Latimer Alder


        Please provide examples of common English usage where ‘neutralise’ has bad connotations.

        I previously provided many examples (acid stomach, acid rain, Acid Bath killer, ‘acid’ wine or milk etc etc) where ‘acid’ is definitely not supposed to be a compliment.

      • Latimer Alder


        ‘It is neutralization when the addition has the goal of making the solution neutral’

        Wow. This discussion can get very deep. For who knows what the ‘goal’ of the CO2 dissolving in water is? Does it do it of its own volition, or is there some external driving force whose mind we cannot know?

        Whether there is or not, we need not worry. Because we know that if all the fossil fuel that we know of were burned tomorrow, it still would not produce enough CO2 to ever make the seas acidic. There is just too much alkali and CO2 is far too weak an acid to ever overcome it. So the ‘goal’ can only ever be to move a little towards a more neutral state. Not to acidify.

        The correct term is ‘neutralisation’.

      • Since LA Timer is is such a stickler for formal terminology, I expect him to start stickling for the use of “adjustment time” instead of “residence time” for CO2 sequestration.
        And that the transient responses are not first-order but diffusional responses.
        And that its OK to use Arrhenius (i.e. Boltzmann) activation energy factors to estimate temperature dependencies, and so on.

      • Latimer Alder


        I don’t have a strong opinion about any of those terms as they appear to be pretty value-neutral. But others who know more about them may do so.

        But I do object to ‘ocean acidification’ because it is both scintifically incorrecy and carriesa load of negative connotations for the general public.

        And my cynical self tells me that those who so eagerly defend its use do so far exactly that reason. Despite it having even less experimental foundation than CAGW, ‘ocean acidification’ adds to the general air of an urgent crisis. Nobody wants to have to have their holidays by an acidic sea with the flesh being burnt off after a quick dip and their cossies in tatters…………….

        But the actual result of a ‘more neutral’ sea is far less alarming. ‘Neutrality’ is generally seen as a good thing.

      • For who knows what the ‘goal’ of the CO2 dissolving in water is?

        Certainly not you, Latimer, since time and again you have proved yourself abysmally ignorant of the chemistry of surface water, your claimed chemistry credentials notwithstanding.

        For example you probably have no clue what differentiates ocean marine life from freshwater. The two options I see for you are to pretend I don’t exist, or to attempt an answer. If you see a third go for it. ;)

        Based on past performance your prospects for future skill don’t look particularly encouraging.

      • Sorry for the lack of closing tag after the name of Watanabe.

      • Pekka, there are plenty of other factors influencing ocean pH besides co2. Because of this there are already places where the pH has been lowered below any average reduction of pH that can be expected from co2 increases alone. I have not been able to find any evidence that this reduction in pH has caused serious problems in those areas of the ocean. I assume organisms care more about the pH they live in than they do about the average pH. We should have examples of the devastating effects at our fingertips, not hints of problems in areas where the pH has barely budged.

      • Latimer Alder


        I don’t agree that the lack of direct data discredits *all* the theory.

        But it sure is a heck of a lot more persuasive when not only does the theory predict something, but when you can actually go out a check that the predictions are right. There are lots of theories , but only one reality to conduct experiments with. So an unconfirmed theory is just that.

        The argument about ocean neutralisation is essentially one about chemistry. And chemistry has always been an intensely experiment-based science…perhaps more so than almost any other. Its roots in alchemy have continued to this day. The practical lab is its home.

        Climatology and its associated studies however seem to shun experiment and observation in favour of statistics and interpretation. And suffer greatly by their inability to even consider confirmatory experiments or hypothesis falsification. And though it may be true that we cannot sensibly conduct planet-wide experiments on the total climate that does not mean that no experiments at all can be done on a smaller scale to confirm or deny the individual details.

        To many chemists this looks just like wild handwaving and speculation rather than science.

        And I must declare an interest, For a short while I dabbled in ‘theoretical chemistry’. But sadly, the experimentalist were easily able to show that my theories were bunk. Galling, but that’s the way science is supposed to work. Ignoring experimentation is not the way to find the truth.

      • Steven,

        I agree on the large regional differences in pH. Oceans do have life at a wide range of pH, but the type of life depends on the pH as well as on other factors. One of the large uncertainties in estimating damages of changing climate or pH is in the role of adaptation. Many of those who consider global warming a serious threat are saying that adaptation will make the ultimate outcome rather neutral but serious damage will be caused by the speed of change.

        How well the adaptation does really help is certainly badly known, but in many cases all evidence of the power of adaptation concerns very slow changes. Many examples of past adaptation are not likely applicable for the anticipated rate of change, but there may be other mechanisms that will be more helpful.

      • Yes, but I’m not refering to natural fluctuations. There are anthropogenic factors involved that have caused regional reductions in ocean pH.

        These regional changes have occurred at a rate faster then co2 acidification would.

      • PP,
        Rationalizing that the lack of evidence of OA is not a valid reason to dismiss it is sour grapes. Pun intended.

      • Look, fellas, pH is a red herring here. The point some are making that surface pH can vary all over the shop is well taken. On that basis one (not me!) can reasonably quibble that “average pH” therefore can’t be defined on the ground that there’s not enough data to average out that variation.

        (I should say parenthetically that I’m not totally decoupled from ocean pH data in this context. My house, which inter alia is occupied by two Stanford marine biology professors, is directly across the road from the Stanford Hopkins Marine Station, whose records of ocean pH for Monterey Bay date back further in time than almost any other ocean water on the planet! To me it seems like there’s tons of data, but I’m handicapped by being a next-door neighbor of Hopkins and must therefore recuse myself.)

        As I’ve written on a number of occasions on various blogs, pH is merely a proxy for the real problem, namely ongoing depletion of the ocean’s calcium carbonate. A great many ocean-faring marine species depend on this calcium salt for the construction and maintenance of their plates and shells.

        Latimer Adler’s glimpse of the splendid White Cliffs of Dover on a ferry ride reassures him that they are more than sufficient to replenish the world’s ocean carbonate currently being converted to bicarbonate by today’s CO2 level. Latimer’s reasoning on this occasion neglects (a) that those cliffs are not lemmings leaping in huge numbers into the English Channel (he underestimates the severity of the problem by orders of magnitude) and (b) that the anthropogenic component of atmospheric CO2 is increasing exponentially with a doubling period less than 30 years. (So every possible threshold of pain except perhaps Senator McCain’s will be surpassed in due course. For those who’ve encountered the number 70 in accounting or business classes, 70/30 = 2.33%, the current annual rate of increase of anthropogenic CO2.)

        Ocean pH is easily measured but can indeed fluctuate wildly, so one must average it with due care.

        But there is another, arguably more robust, way.

        The total carbonate content of the ocean decreases far more steadily than local surface pH of the ocean, much as atmospheric CO2 as measured at Mauna Loa increases extraordinarily steadly.

        Impossible to weigh the ocean’s carbonate content, right? Well, certainly hard to weigh directly. However there is an indirect method (besides surface pH). Carbonate tends to spread itself out fairly evenly at the top of the ocean, extending downwards several km. It stops fairly abruptly, around 4 km down these days. A better indicator of the so-called “ocean acidification” problem is there the average carbonate compensation depth value. To a first approximation, halving of this depth means halving of the carbonate acting to buffer the ocean’s pH.

        Although there’s more to say about this, out of fairness to LA I’d like to give him time to respond to my admittedly harsh assessment here. If he can demonstrate his grasp of the difference between the chemistry of the ocean and freshwater he may be able to complete my sentences for me. If not I’ll pick it up from here.

      • Pekka Pirilä, Vaughan Pratt, Fred Moolten et al.

        I wish to thank you for your explanations of the ocean biota issue.. and am left blushing, as I ought have reasoned to these point myself, (having a marine biologist in the family no less).

        I could use similar critique and correction on one of my little crowdsourcings, if any of you are interested in helping me repair the breaks in my grasp on the issue at

      • Vaughan,

        One obvious fault with ocean acidification is the nearest to the ocean surface the higher the alkalinity. If OA were real, it should be the nearer to the ocean surface the higher the acidity. Why your alarmist crowds always twist science just beyond me.

      • Latimer Alder


        Hey, hold your horses tehre a wee bit me old pal me old mucker.

        Seem like you and me and Pekka and even Fred Moolten agree that whatever the problem is, it isn’t ‘ocean acidification’. Whhc is neither a good description of what chemistry is occurring, nor as a cause of the supposed bad things occurring because the atmospheric CO2 is increasing.

        AFAIK I haven’t expressed an opinion about anything else, so don’t beat me with a stick I haven’t tried to grasp.

        As to your question about what distinguishes freshwater from marine life, I’ve always understood it to be tolerance of a high level of NaCl in the environment. But maybe there are other things as well. In UK we have lots of freshwater chalk streams with very high carbonate content (hard water) so it can’t be anything to do with carbonates.

      • Before the alarmists claim CO2 cause OA, they should establish what causes the alkalinity of the sea. Without finding the cause of the alkalinity, anything blames to CO2 caused OA is just simply flawed.

      • One obvious fault with ocean acidification is the nearest to the ocean surface the higher the alkalinity. If OA were real, it should be the nearer to the ocean surface the higher the acidity. Why your alarmist crowds always twist science just beyond me.

        That (your first two sentences, not the third) would be a fair point for fresh water, Sam. However ocean water is buffered by carbonate and both the chemistry and mechanics of the process is quite different in the ocean. The impact of CO2 is to dissolve the carbonate, which is then replaced by the carbonate below, thereby raising the “bottom” of the carbonate layer defined as the carbonate compensation depth.

        What is called “acidification” should more properly be called something like “carbonate attrition.” The buffering action causes the pH to change only very slightly, the big change is with the carbonate, whose attrition is harder to see, much as thinning ice at the North Pole is hard to see as long as the edges are touching the shore. In both cases it is the bottom that rises, i.e. the thick layer is made thinner.

      • @Latimer As to your question about what distinguishes freshwater from marine life, I’ve always understood it to be tolerance of a high level of NaCl in the environment. But maybe there are other things as well. In UK we have lots of freshwater chalk streams with very high carbonate content (hard water) so it can’t be anything to do with carbonates.

        Right, marine life tolerates ocean salt. But another big difference is that freshwater life tolerates a wide range of pH, from 6 to 8 or more. Theoretically atmospheric CO2 can drive pure water down to 5.6 but even slight impurities prevent that and 6 is about as low as it gets. As you say some water is hard, which is how it gets up to 8 or more. But freshwater life that doesn’t make a point of confining itself to hard water has to be able to adapt to the range 6-8, with 6 easily reached (thanks to the CO2) when there’s relatively little carbonate to buffer it.

        In short, fish have to tolerate either salt or acid according to whether they stick to the ocean or fresh water that’s not guaranteed to be hard everywhere they roam. Salmon both.

        Sorry I posed my question so rudely incidentally. I’m trying to convert to a more polite style but I don’t always succeed. Being wrong at the top of one’s voice can be embarrassing. (My account of how the CCD works for example is seriously lacking in detail to the point of being misleading.)

      • Next to silicates, carbonates are the largest abundant materials on the Earth. Water (rain, melted ice) is an excellent disolving agent for dissolving carbonates. Water disolves minerals and washes down to oceans and thats why the nearer to the sea surface the higher the alkalinity. Another reason why the deeper the sea level the less alkalinity is temperature or density.

        A lot of factors can change the surface alkalinity. Solely blames CO2 is just lazy (convenient) science and obviously flawed.

      • Fred,
        You have still never established OA as a problem or mitigation as a solution. Yet have posted the same long winded rambling and fact free defenses of both numerous times.
        Do you think that your long winded wishing will make either of these things come true the way you wish?

      • One of the important points that emerges from the material Pekka has cited above (and it’s also in my article) is that for the most vulnerable marine organisms, the calcifiers, pH is less important than carbonate saturation. They are only loosely correlated, and so a hazardous decline in carbonate saturation can occur with only a small pH change. Conversely, if atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise very slowly (e.g., over many thousands of years), carbonate concentrations can be maintained fairly well even in the face of a declining pH. For this reason, the current rate of ocean acidification is more likely to reduce carbonate saturation than even greater changes in some past eras that occurred very slowly.

      • Latimer Alder



        So the problem that you have spent so long wittering on to us about has very little whatsoever to do with pH or ocean acidification or whatever term you all use to frighten the public with this week.

        It is in fact ‘the speed of a decline on carbonate saturation’.

        Fair enough.

        As you are a man who likes to be exact, can we expect you now to be republishing all your previous works on the topic and substituting

        ‘the speed of decline of carbonate saturation’ for all previous references to ‘ocean acidification’?

        And, just so that we are sure that we all understand correctly, what rate of ‘decline of carbonate saturation’ has been experimentally shown to be hazardous to living things? It is all very well discussing a ‘fast’ rate and a ‘slow’ rate, but we need some numbers to help us here.

  76. Thx for response, cwon . I too have read Hayek and have passages marked on truth and the dark consequences of ‘people of goodwill’ fearing individualism and proposing a ‘new freedom’ of equality (in servitude.’) Gleickian punctuation.)
    Can’t argue with you about an objective truth, ‘ if I didn’t say it or no one else’ it’s still true. Two things here, though, on our human battleground
    cwon, there’s truth and human behaviour, the statement and the voices issuing their perception of the statement. And here you enter the zone of ethical behaviour and openness. Putting your money where your mouth is becomes part of the scene. It wasn’t just Socrates words but his actions that made him a hero.

  77. Deaths per TWh

    Energy Source Death Rate (deaths per TWh)

    Coal – world average 161 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
    Coal – China 278
    Coal – USA 15
    Oil 36 (36% of world energy)
    Natural Gas 4 (21% of world energy)
    Biofuel/Biomass 12
    Peat 12
    Solar (rooftop) 0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
    Wind 0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
    Hydro 0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
    Hydro – world including Banqiao) 1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
    Nuclear 0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

    As Eli said, coal kills.

    • HAHAHA. LOL. This is alarmists best science!

    • Right. Shut down those coal plants and let’s see how many people die without them. And the numbers for wind and solar match the hype, but not the performance, of those energy sources. Unicorn farts would be a better energy source than wind and solar.

      • Over what period of time? We have already wasted about twenty years during which coal mines as energy sources could have been phased out. If you actually read what Jim Hansen says, he wants us to build no NEW coal burning power plants unless there is a way to handle the CO2 and pollution coming from them, which would be a 40-60 year phase out period.

        (The only good thing about Thatcher was her closing down of the really uneconomical mines in the UK, although, of course, she did it in a way that hurt the most miners and their communities)

      • I would like to see the older, dirtier coal plants replaced with new ones over time. CO2, in my view, hasn’t been shown to be a catastrophic problem. Specifically, I don’t believe it has been shown that the secondary feedback effects will fulfill Hansen’s nightmare. A little warming, yes. Catastrophe, no. So, no reason to shut down coal plants, other than the dirtiest, in my view.

      • That is happening in China and India. US/Euro plants are pretty much state of the art because of clean air laws (best available tech). The issue is not shutting the plants down, but building more.

      • Jim2,

        Dirty is a subjective judgement. Compliance with emission levels is an objective mesurements of an old coal plant. Non-compliance of emissions plants are shut down until compliance. Power provider will not shut down economical running old plants. Thats why coal plants built in the 50s or even 40s do not get shut down because of the greenies and the Sierra Club’s objection to new clean near zero emission modern coal plants.

      • I think we should build more coal plants or more nat gas plants – which ever delivers the cheapest electricity bill to the end user.

      • And while we are at it, build more nuke plants. Thorium and some of the small nuke designs look interesting.

      • All new coal power plants designs I have seen involve integrated gasification. That allows for a great deal of fuel blend options and sequestering. So a NEW coal plant with an estimated 60 year serviceable life, does not mean a coal to electric plant for 60 years.

        A major breakthrough would be a cost effective method of long term carbon sequestering in a usable form with char based fertilizer being one and carbamide/char another one that is interesting.

        Know any chemical engineers that think outside the box?

      • I don’t think coal fired IGCC is even now commercial technology. There are a few almost commercial size demonstration plants (like the Tampa Electric 250 MW plant and the 335 MW Puertollano plant in Spain and an even larger plant in Kentucky, but I’m not sure, whether it’s really operating) that are real IGCC plants. There are also plants with a gasifier that supplies part of the fuel but they operate usually (or always) at low pressure near the atmospheric pressure and thus without the combined cycle.

        IGCC has long been considered a promising technology but mainly issues related to cleaning the gas have slowed down its development.

      • Duke energy is building another in Indiana. The anti-coal lobby stopped most of the plans and Obama’s. “We will Bankrupt them” blurb was not good for business. The technology is ready except for the sequestering part. Lots of plant start have been and are on hold waiting for the CO2 and Hg standards from the EPA. The progressives seem to have boxed themselves into a corner with “alternatives”, especially, cellulose ethanol, so they are running out of options.

      • Eli would also like a pony

      • I don’t know, got that methane problem with ponies :)

      • Cows, not ponies, and Eli still wants one.

    • Not red meat?

      On a pure percentage basis, coal is behind fishing, agriculture and forestry. So I guess hunting and gathering is still the big killer. Construction still has most per industry, transportation is a biggie. It looks like most trades that attempt to produce or delivery the necessities of life are fairly risky. Of course, that is just the US.

      If the US is capable of having a, by world standards, good mine safety record, what might cause that? I would be willing to bet, that is has something to do with politics or economics.

      WHO estimates that 380,000 people drown each year.
      “low- and middle-income countries account for 96% of unintentional drowning deaths;
      over 60% of the world’s drowning occurs in the WHO Western Pacific Region and WHO South-East Asia Region;
      drowning death rates are highest in the WHO African Region, and are more than eight times higher than in Australia or the United States of America (USA);
      China and India have particularly high drowning mortality rates and together contribute 43% of the world’s drowning deaths and 41% of the total global DALYs1 (disability-adjusted life years) lost related to drowning.

      Of course, living in a first world country is not without its risk, bladder cancer is on the risk and nearly 100,000 Americas died last year of medical errors.

      You have made it pretty clear, that in your opinion, coal mining is too dangerous. You even list nuclear power generation. I would think that a PhD of your standings, might consider the mining aspect of the other sources of energy. Unless of course you were biased.

      • Coal mining has large direct and indirect risks. As far as nuclear, the mining risks are much lower because the volume is smaller (and less radioactive – radon among other issues). The death rates for all the energy sources include mining risks.

    • I trust Joe Six Packs better those numbers after guzzed down 12 packs.

    • Seriously Eli, you need to take a basic logic course or something.

    • steven mosher

      The author is nanotechnology shill Eli. get real

      • Eli wishes.

        However, the interesting thing is how as MEMS has been implemented nano is being developed. When Eli’s dad was a boy there were no radios, but then there were crystal sets (ever build one). After that came radio tubes (cm scale), then transistors (mm scale) (Eli’s boyhood), then the first integrated circuits (micron scale) (graduate school), now nanoscale electronics. On the whole a lot of progress there to shill for.

        Steve, of course, still shovels behind the ox.

    • Can’t help but notice that the large activities have the highest lives cost at the margin. Could that be, because doing a tiny bit of something has a relatively negligible effect, while doing lots of something doesn’t?

      Do the various costs of wind and solar scale linearly, or do they scale–like most things–convexly? And so, what exactly does this table prove? Certainly not that, if the scales of coal and solar were swapped, the average deaths per (whatever) would remain the same for the two activities.

    • The Rabbett is still fibbing about energy.
      Where coal is used to generate much energy, the people thrive.

    Oh dear, I wonder what Judith Curry now thinks about the results of her attempt to create a serious online, open discourse about the science of climatic change… I subscribed to the forum and within hours was flooded with posts, most of them contradicting her guidelines for posting comments. Pity. It deserves better.

    • The title topic is “Demon Coal” and it links to her comments on the CBC. I can understand the reason to post even if the CBC host is a well known partisan warming troll idiot even on his best behavior.

      The climate discussions would be better if any side or participant would be open, plain english to direct questions. I would argue the participants deserve better as well.

    • David –
      “Pity. It deserves better.”

      Yes, it does. But that’s the nature of human intercourse. If you can’t live with it or ignore it, then you’re in the wrong place.

      You should have seen the fur balls that used to happen on some of the other blogs – although not so much anymore.

    • OH PLEASE!!!

      Hand waving about a massive problem requiring immediate massive economic sacrifices – does not a serious forum make. Acid acidification is even less of a looming problem than global warming.

      Come to it with some facts man, some science, and you might be taken seriously. Review the literature, learn something, discuss the minutiae, think about carbonate and bicarbonate buffering, upwelling, diurnal and seasonal variation, discuss microscale, mesoscale and macroscale experiment (and the limitations of each) and you might be taken seriously. As it is you’re just another bug eyed loony tunes (beat you to it JC) watermelon warminista.

      And then you complain about the forum because we have failed to take you seriously.

      OH PLEASE!!!

      Yours in deadly seriousness
      Captain Kangaroo

    • Latimer Alder

      @David Patriquin

      You complain that this place does not provide a ‘serious online open discourse about the science of climatic change’.

      If that was all Judith had tried to do, you might (just) have had a point. But she didn’t. She tried to do something a lot wider. Here is the ‘About’

      ‘Climate Etc. provides a forum for climate researchers, academics and technical experts from other fields, citizen scientists, and the interested public to engage in a discussion on topics related to climate science and the science-policy interface’

      Note especially the expected breadth of readership, the fact that it is a discussion, the ‘topics related to climate science’ and ‘the science-policy interface’.

      To my mind she has provided a splendid place for this diversity of topics – as well as the science – to be discussed. And the very sparse moderation makes the debate robust and heated – and IMO all the better for that. The subject arouses passions … and it is good for those passions to be expressed.

      The Internet/blog forum format is not intended to be just an electronically facilitated version of peer/pal review solely for academics to discuss with other academics. For a subject claimed to be so all-embracing as ‘climate change’, it is surely right and proper that all ‘stakeholders’ have a say as well.

      If, however, you prefer your climatological discussion to be conducted like a vicar’s tea party where only ‘correct’ views may be expressed, where dissenting voices are eliminated and where the views of the ‘senior scientists’ are faithfully regurgitated to the adoring masses, then there are such blogs around to accommodate you.

      • Fair points, but your last paragraph is the type of thing that doesn’t help and that’s my point.

        From Judith:
        The following will not be tolerated here:
        1. Comments using offensive words will be flagged by the spam filter.
        2. No ad hominem attacks, slurs or personal insults. Do not attribute motives to another participant.
        3. Snarkiness is not appreciated here; nastiness and excessive rudeness are not allowed.
        4. Don’t grind your personal axes by filling up the comments with extensive posts that are not deemed relevant or interesting in the context of blog objectives.

        There is a lot of 2,3, & 4 in the posts on this forum. When I see these kinds of comments, I tend to discount whatever else a person might say regardless of whether I happen to agree with it or not, and that makes it difficult to learn from others


        -Seriously Eli, you need to take a basic logic course or something.
        -I trust Joe Six Packs better those numbers after guzzed down 12 packs.
        -As it is you’re just another bug eyed loony tunes (beat you to it JC) watermelon warminista.
        -CBC is king of the leftist media in Canada.

        Aren’t these the kinds of remarks that make for lack of serious dialogue in the common interest amongst politicians of different stripes? It’s something to do with civility, I suggest..that we refrain from them as Judith asked. I don’t agree with a lot of what I heard her say on CBC but I respected her discourse enough to follow up on it.

        So that’s all I am saying, and why for me, your final paragraph detracted from your otherwise thoughtful post.

      • Latimer Alder

        Hi David

        You are of course at liberty to choose to read my stuff in any which way you like.

        But , though you may dislike my mode of expression, I don’t think that I overstepped any of Judith’s guidelines in any of my post.

        This is a place where robust expression of a variety of viewpoints is allowed. Some are very pro-alarmist, some extremely sceptical, some just plugging their own ideas. Others here just to disrupt and derail the conversations. It is a noisy and rambunctious place.

        It is emphatically not the cloistered calm of the Senior Common Room or the University Lecture Hall. You are judged on the contribution you make here, not on whatever success – or none – you may have achieved elsewhere. There is no special respect sought or given to academic status. But those who can make a case well and defend it soundly gain respect. While those who find the heat of debate too much usually fade away.

        It is, I think pretty much unique among all the climate blogs for the amount of many to man as well as one to one and one to many interactions that it generates No other IMO is able to do quite so much of all three.

        You may have to hold your nose or close your eyes occasionally, but in general this is a grand and lively place to be.

      • Fair enough and I will try to disregard the really abusive comments. Please don’t assume that all academics operate only in “the cloistered calm of the Senior Common Room or the University Lecture Hall”. Certainly my most rewarding experiences have been outside of that environment. When I was conducting on-farm research (versus expt station research) it was a requirement that we (any students involved as well as myself) spend at least 50% of the time doing farm chores, in part because that was when the most thoughtful and “academic” discussions took place, those with the farmers. Likewise with fisherfolk when I was doing fisheries research. In fact I would say that my discussions outside of academia have been far more civil than many of those in academia. I value civility. I think we would all be better off with more of it. Thanks for your comments & I will make a stab following your final advice, i.e. to “hold your nose or close your eyes occasionally”, but enjoy it as “a grand and lively place to be”.

    • David,
      You are just disappointed that your particular AGW obsession, ocean acidification, is treated with the utter contempt it deserves.

  79. corporate message

    Ocean Acidification…the last resort of the CAGW concern troll

    • “Sustainability”, “peak oil”, “population bomb”, “deregulation”, “big oil” are other cousins found all over as well.

  80. No. David would like all your music. Don’t be so harsh on him. He is a believer of no weighting and expect Dr. Curry will respond.

  81. Speaking of who “deserved better” as “Demon Coal” is beaten into the ground much as it deserves. Consider the American public getting hammered by the high energy policy that is directly related to co2 zealot religions;

    “Green policy” actually kills people both long and short-term. I’m sure the “civility” police are going to come down hard on this comment but it’s a fact. Trillions printed to subsidize the imbalances and overpriced results.

    • It is a bit bizarre how this is all playing out.

      • AGW is a Deathstar.

      • There is a re-run of “chopped” on which has the perfect measure of the political situation of AGW, Foot-odor. I would give Chu’s plan a 100k ft-od rating. His boss gets 500K ft-od rating for the bankrupt comment.

      • Steven Chu rides a nice Colnago to work every day.

        He no doubt knows the situation with regards to the world-wide scarcity of cheap crude oil.

        It just gets your goat, don’t it?

        Have to blame the poor climate scientists for getting people to think about deviating from BAU.

      • Webby – it’s ok – there’s no thinking involved – you can take your friggin’ deviation from BAU and shove it up the kazoo.

        We got infrastructure, govmint’ subsidies and cheap gas coming out of our kazoo.

        Me? I just like the smell of gasoline in the mornin’.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Latimer Alder

        @captain kangaroo

        Another of those quiet still cloudy days here in England. No good for our useless wind farms, but it does allow the smell of aviation spirit from the Heathrow flight path to hang around and pervade our nostrils………….

        Good music btw!

  82. incandecentbulb

    Deaths due to ocean acidification is… zero.

    Deaths from ‘increased’ acidification is MORE zero.

    In fact there is no such thing as increased ocean acidification.

    There isn’t any ‘acidification’ whatsoever because the ocean is infinitely buffered.

    • Latimer Alder

      I too was wondering if anybody had actually managed to demonstrate ‘ocean acidification’ experimentally. i.e. by going and measuring the bloody thing, not just thinking CO2 + H20 = carbonic acid.

      Because, like you, it seems to me that until the White Cliffs of Dover, and all other chalk deposits have dissolved, there is a big big buffer to prevent it.

      • Latimer Alder

        And on a cursory glance at the literature, it seems that they have not.

        Lots of modelling and estimating (even producing averaging down to 4 significant figures!!), but few actual sodding measurement of the actual sodding effect that they are so sodding vocal about.

        Happy to be corrected, but has anybody anywhere actually found the supposed effects of ‘acidifiicaton’ (correctly ‘neutralisation’) in nature, not just in frigging models?

      • andrew adams


        Yes it is actually measured.

        Of course there are lots of references to models and estimates in the litereature because they are trying to understand the likely extent and impact of OA in the future and we don’t have time machines.

      • Latimer Alder

        I see that they have 10 buoys off the Pacific coasts of the US.

        And that they measure the atmospheric and dissolved concentrations of CO2.

        Looking at just a few we see some very interesting phenomena. While the atmospheric CO2 stays very constant over a period of about two months, the dissolved CO2 varies wildly between 500 and 350 (Kanehoe measurements). But at La Push it varies from 200 to 400 in the two month period.

        So – just within the very small part of the globe covered by these ten instruments, the dissolved CO2 concentration varies by 250% (200-500) ina two month period. Since it is the dissolution of CO2 that is supposedly the cause of all the ills of ‘ocean acidification’, I am some what puzzled as to how this can be.

        But most notably. though their blurb says that they measure ocean pH, their data does not seem to publish it. Perhaps I have misread something, or perhaps I have just not seen it. But, prima facie, your suggestion that pH is actually measured is incorrect.

      • andrew adams


        Yes, it seems that although they specifically say they are measuring ocean pH it does not show the actual data, although there is a chart which does show how it has changed over time.

        I have no idea why it doesn’t give the data for the individual buoys, but do you think they are actualy lying and aren’t really measuring it at all?

        Yes, the buoys only provide a relatively small sample but they also use ship based hydrography, and other organisations are measuring OA in other parts of the world.

        I’m sure that the fact that the level of dissolved CO2 varies quite sharly in individual areas is just as interesting to the scientists making the observation as it is to you. Maybe if you read the relevant literature you will find an explanation.

      • Latimer Alder

        @andrew adams

        Thanks for the link to the graph, which shows measurements of dissoved CO2 in seawater at one spot ‘Hawaii’ from about 1987 to about 2008.

        The methodology is not described, nor any link to the backup materials. But we can infer from the earlier discussion that they do actually measure the dissolved CO2.

        On closer examination of the pH graph it is such a good ‘mirror image’ of the CO2 graph (peaks and troughs exactly reversed and of similar magnitude) one might almost wonder if they don’t just use the dissolved CO2 to somehow calculate the supposed CO2 rather than go out and measure it. So that the pH is yet again, not actual raw data, but a figure derived from measuring something else.

        But whatever the eact deatils in this particular case, it is certainly not a measure of a gloabl worldwide average measured pH over the many decades that would be needed to show if it is changing at all.

        As ever, when one comes to examine all the glossy claims in detail, the foundation of these ideas is often ludicrously flimsy.

      • The pH plot contains both measured and calculated data. I couldn’t find explanation for the method of calculation. Your guess may well be correct.

        Select “pH comparison” from this page

        The measured and calculated data seem to agree well. There might be a small difference in the estimated trend from measured data alone, but the difference seem to be small.

        The data is from the ALOHA station near Hawaii.

      • Latimer Alder


        Thanks for the link to the graph.

        I note that though ‘calculated’ figures are shown for pH from 1989 to 2009, the measured data didn’t start until 1992 an stopped between 1998 and 2003. So the we have, in fact, only 12 years of actual measured data of pH. To be more accurate, there are (I think) only 114 (+/-5) data measurements recorded.

        Colour me unconvinced that there really is a problem here. 114 measurements from only one site is a heck of a small sample to generalise about a global problem…let alone to draw wide-ranging conclusions about its cause and likely outcome.

      • andrew, Latimer, Pekka:

        This paper is relevant to your discussion.

      • That paper was just another OA propaganda. Its covenient not to put much effort and blame CO2 shown in the starting summary and introduction. Typical junk science.

      • SamNC, you just stole Latimer’s line :-)

      • OK my apology to Latimer.

        Seriously, its human nature to maximize profit with least effort spent.

      • Latimer,

        pH is just a continuum of ion concentration – so really the directions are towards less alkaline and more acidic and vice versa.

        One of the problems with measurment is that the instruments seem concentrated in areas that are influenced by ocean upwelling. See the deep blue V typically of the decadal Pacific pattern.

        There are several other confounding factors – including biology – but to interpret this as a simple proof of OA is a little trite.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Latimer Alder

        @capatian kangaroo

        You state

        ‘pH is just a continuum of ion concentration’ .

        I invite you to work out the total number of active ions (Hydrogen and Hydroxyl) for reagents of the following pHs


        To make it easy, you can do it in relative numbers.

        Having done so, you may see something interesting about the properties of acids and alkalis that differs fundamentally from the analogies of hot/cold, near/far, north/south, which are smoothly varying properties.

        And that is the whole frigging point.

      • It is a scale in hydronium activity that logarithmically varies –

        That’s the friggin’ point

      • Latimer Alder

        @captain kangaroo

        Did you do the sums I suggested?

        And even if you didn’t, why do they call the level in your diagram at pH7 pure water? Does it occur to you that there might just be something special about such a chemical environment?

      • This is actually very, very difficult. The pKa’s of of CO2/HCO3(1-) and CaCO3(1-) are temperature and pressure sensitive. Carbonates are more soluble in cold, high pressure water than at the surface; this gives rise to a precipitation cycle for upwelling water. On top of this cycle is the calcium silicate cycle, which acts pretty much in the opposite direct.
        The Fe/Mn anaerobic/aerobic cycle (whereby the metals cycle from the anaerobic depths to be oxidized by O2 near the surface) also transfers protons down into the calcium sink

  83. Bart R did you listen to the same program as me. When Dr. Currie mentions climate change she infers worming. Sea level rise, not cooperating. I also think she should review the more recent work on the ozone hole and causes.

    • nc

      Oh. I get it.

      Judith Curry is not bonkers enough for your liking.

      (Unless you mean someone else by ‘Dr. Currie’?)

      Sorry, I don’t think anyone’s going to be able to help you with that issue, there.

      • Bart R,

        So you have come to play. I am just a lonesome cowboy (lonesome is just part of the iconic nature of being a cowboy) with a blue horse called Shibboleth – but I am happy to oblige. You are of course bonkers enough for the rest of us combined – given your devotion to the Kalihari Bushmen and other carbon challenged indigenes. I take it you have finished formulating your scheme for infinite taxes on carbon that is not otherwise incorporated into apparel and have come to give us the benefit of your superior wisdom. There seems a lot of that going on and you are going to have some competition.

        Let me give you a heads up. Some half understood factoid in the midst of much hand waving is simply not going to cut it. They are a hard crowd to please around here. I have paid my dues on the trail with Shibboleth running from cougars when they jump out of trees. So I know that being fast on your feet is critical. When we are chased by cougars Shibboleth and I sometimes attain relativistic speeds of 30mph and travel in space and time. So when they come back with something pedestrian and relevant – hit them with quantum foam or Bose-Einstein condensate.

        ‘Consider a collection of N noninteracting particles, which can each be in one of two quantum states, (0) and (1). If the two states are equal in energy, each different configuration is equally likely.

        If we can tell which particle is which, there are 2 to the nth different configurations, since each particle can be in (0) or (1) independently. In almost all of the configurations, about half the particles are in (0) and the other half in (1). The balance is a statistical effect: the number of configurations is largest when the particles are divided equally.

        If the particles are indistinguishable, however, there are only N+1 different configurations. If there are K particles in state (1), there are N − K particles in state (0). Whether any particular particle is in state (0) or in state (1) cannot be determined, so each value of K determines a unique quantum state for the whole system. If all these states are equally likely, there is no statistical spreading out; it is just as likely for all the particles to sit in (0) as for the particles to be split half and half.’

        Thus climate is entirely stochastic and is as likely as not to end up as something entirely improbable. A duck or a watermelon for instance. At least this seems to be Webby’s theory. You’ll like Webby. He is a younger version of you who has learnt how to count on both his fingers and toes.

        Best Regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Chief!

        So pleased you’re not on one of your many self-caused periods of exile.

        As it happens Cowboy Captain Spaceman Chief on a horse called Sheaf, I have made progress on my formulations about limiting and reducing taxes on carbon, only to find others got there first.

        You may wish to contact your local branch of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby ( for details. Does Australia have a local branch? Might have resulted in less carbon tax if you had an active grassroots carbon cycle fee and dividend movement to resist nanny state politburo.. oh. wait. One keeps forgetting, you actually prefer giving over control of the important decisions in life to committees, handing them cash and command power, and letting experts expound on how people ought live. Collectivist cowboy.

        And if your horse is turning blue, it may be time to cut back on the beans, cowpoke.

        Also, I realize that you’re in the upside-down part of the world, but you have got to understand how mixing up words like ‘Bushmen’ and ‘indigines’ and ‘out of the trees’, ‘watermelon’ and ‘superior’, and ‘cougar’ will scan in a politically correct world. People will begin to question your ism, there, Chief. They might suspect you do not respect your fellow human being based on their skin tone or chromosomes.

        Which I know is the last thing on your lofty and highly sculpted mind. American sensitivities being what they are, take a moment to check your verbiage for such verbal landmines, to save yourself from griefers.

      • Bart R,

        Perhaps you have not met Shibboleth out of consensus – – but you should be familiar with the concept. ‘A shibboleth is a custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people, especially a long-standing one regarded as outmoded or no longer important. It usually refers to features of language, and particularly to a word whose pronunciation identifies its speaker as being a member or not a member of a particular group.’

        So really you have nothing to add but not so veiled allegations of racism – based on the garbled recitation of words taken out of a perfectly reasonable context. Good work – that’s the way to buttress the shibboleth. To invent a whole new calumny from something else entirely. It is a bit hard on the Enlish language – not to mention the finely honed mind you refer to – but all allowable in a good cause.

        Although as a newly commissioned officer on the sceptic side of the climate wars – I have to bring it back to fundamental principles. Your confusion of taxation with freedom – collectivism with free markets – me with someone who gives a rat’s phallus about your trite and irrelevant comments interspersed seemingly randomly for no other purpose than to insult and demean.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • O Don Captain Chief Spaceman Cowboy..

        Why is it you keep on picking roles for yourself of the John Carter variety, when you’re so much more inclined to Old Majorism?

        But to the point. “veiled” allegations?!

        Old Major, if you’re going to ignore my patent and friendly advice to take care lest griefers do to you what they’ve tried to others, I’m not going to force it on you. You’re well-known to take only your own counsel in word choice, and you’re welcome to it, however un-American you wish to sound.

        Speaking of, heh heh heh. You said “buttress”. Heh heh.

      • Dear Le Pétomane,

        Having just listened to John Carter on audiobook and seen the movie – hmmm – I fail to see any resemblance to either a cartoon character or a children’s TV host. As for any resemblance to Willingdon Beauty – well as you see fit.

        The allegations of racism were and are a veiled and most distasteful expression of a riotously disordered mind of the space cadet variety. Defined as the cognitively challenged waiting for the AGW equivalent of the spaceships to arrive. In your case – I would recommend the Kool-Aid as the only real solution to your manifold problems and inadequacies.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Chief

        You? Fail? Perish the thought.

        Let me help you: the cowboy is the most iconic American figure of individualism. To claim the hat of a cowboy is to say you’re a ruggedly durable solist, rejecting control of your destiny by any force but your own skills and merits, rise or fall.

        The captain, likewise, is master of his own vessel, who takes orders from no man.

        Don Quixote? Likewise a lone lance, tilting at windmills.

        But you? You want a committee to solve your problems. To meet, and discuss, and apply expertise, and direct, control, command and commandeer as the collective will sees fit. You’ve said so, here, repeatedly. Why you aspire to images so unrepresentative of your own professed beliefs, I cannot guess.

        Though I’ve warned you against some word choices that make you appear to an American ear, through no fault of your own, sound like some sort of closet stereotype (no offense intended to those stereotypes who embrace diversity and value their fellow human beings for the content of their character), it’s some of the other isms I’m accusing you of communing too closely to with your collected emissions.

      • Dear Le Pétomane,

        I will help you out here – due to your cognitively challenged condition. Cowboy is more Garrison Keiler ‘lives of the cowboys’ than John Wayne. Indigene is a word – look it up. Kalahari Bushmen is value neutral. Although I note that bushmen does have an iconic overtone in Australia.

        ‘For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
        And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.’

        And really if I can’t mention duck and watermelon in the same breath without your absurd, false and offensive characterisation of racism. As I am sure most are aware – watermelon refers to the socialist/green agenda that you epitomise. You’re suggesting that the mere use of the word is racist in American ears. Utter rubbish designed merely to perpetuate an offensive hoax. .

        Then you make another trite and derivative reference to emissions – Le Pétomane. So unoriginal, ignorant, pointless, offensive trolling. Seems par for the course for you.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Chief

        Go ahead, and lecture on America, and tell Americans what words mean, what cowboys are, how John Wayne doesn’t measure up, with your expertise in how Americans ought lead their lives and what Americans ought hear, and ought not.

        And use French to do it.

        That crap flies real well in America.

      • Idiot – votre tête est une pastèque

      • Because it is a tired meme, it must be done:

        Huh-huh-huh, you said tête.

        Thank you for seeking to elevate the discourse.

        How’s that hydrology gig going?

        Prevent any floods or droughts lately?

  84. “AGW is a death star.’ LOL. Can I use that for my other message t shirt?

  85. re an earlier comment of mine,
    I was wrong ! (oops!)

  86. Never mind, William, everybody makes mistakes, :-) it’s called human fallibility.
    Visit my web site at
    I may be able to help you.

  87. Say, my contact got wiped ! It’s
    (Hmm… Significant or what:?)

    • Peter Davies

      Seems that we are not permitted to advertise any business that we are doing on Judith’s climate blog. Try joining the Denizens and put your credentials and links in there. :)

  88. OK there’s a screening at work LOL

  89. Just heard Dr. Curry on CBC. A fresh air wind of common sense.

  90. Am I not allowed to say,’falliybility consultancy dot com’?

  91. Captain K @ 14/3 4.11 am

    You’re on a highway to hell ? Say that’s a problem. We can help you at falliybility consultancy dot com- no problem too big, no problem too small. Hey, we can even teach you to rock ‘n roll.

  92. Pekka Pirilä | March 14, 2012 at 8:20 am |

    Could you point me to a couple of those “serious” evaluations of the external costs of using coal?

    • I was involved in a large EU project called “ExternE”, which was continuation for an earlier project with US participation. My participation ended more than 10 years ago, but the project continued for a few years after that. The whole effort involved tens of scientists in many countries over a period of perhaps 10 years.

      I would certainly call a project of that extent a serious attempt to estimate the external costs. This is not the only effort, but certainly the most extensive. The project analyzed all important forms of energy production. Several of the groups worked specifically on coal.

      As I wrote the extent of the project did not lead to results acceptable to everyone, because the estimates depend in several ways on methodological choices and other assumptions that remain controversial.

      • See also the NAS report “Hidden costs of energy” available here:

        A similar though smaller scale effort for the US.

      • Thanks, billc. I took a quick look at the study – the part concerning downstream costs of electricity production from coal. It is basically a SWAG. It may be the best study we have, but that does not imply that it is accurate enough to base decisions upon. That being said, obviously if the dirtiest plants are upgraded or replaced, that would be a good thing.

      • Definitely a swag, maybe a good swag. Not too “alarmist’ on the whole.

      • May be a good SWAG, might not be. There’s no way to test the “predictions” so we’ll never know. Sometimes the poor live near coal plants. The poor also tend to smoke more pot, crystal meth, crack, and cigarettes. They tend to huff more solvents of various sorts. So it would be darn near impossible to tell if it were the coal plant or the drugs what was doin’ it.

      • Cite please?

      • Research suggests that there is a strong association between poverty, social exclusion and problematic drug use. Those who are unemployed, particularly long term unemployed, in poor or insecure housing and are early school leavers have a higher rate of substance abuse than those who do not fit into these categories. It should be noted, however, that these risk factors do not determine whether a person abuses drugs or alcohol.

        Poverty can be the cause for drug addiction
        • Drug consumers come from all walks of live but
        it is often the poor who try to escape their daily
        burden through drug consumption.
        … but even more a consequence
        • Once they are addicted a further pauperisation
        is nearly unavoidable.

      • Looks like the US should regulate boatmen, forestry workers, roofers, construction workers, and laborers out of business.

        “- Among white men, teachers, physicians and dentists and business sales people, in that order, had the lowest mortality rate, while the highest rates, in order, were boatmen, forestry workers, roofers and laborers.

        – Among black men, managers, business sales people and teachers, in that order, had the lowest mortality rates, and boatmen, laborers and construction workers had the highest.”

  93. ceteris non paribus

    CBC also did an interview with Dr. Mann: Current/ID=2209977759

  94. …and there’s our very special, warm thought for the day, mouseketeers!

  95. Whichever side McGuinty is on, that is an inappropriate comment to make.
    I would urge you to retract it.

    • Next,

      I agree with hunter. Ontarian people find him OK. He was elected and re-elected.


      Seriously, how would you retract it if you posted something inappropriate.

      • Sam NC,
        He should retract by way of apology.
        Death wishes and calls to violence are one of the very few areas where I believe it is reasonable to draw lines.

      • Hunter,
        Apparently, Dr. Curry had deleted Next’s post, no retarct required.

      • Our hostess runs with a very light hand.

  96. cwon 14 @14/3 12.18 pm

    Thx. I will make sure there’s no obfuscation…hope that’s how you spell it :- )

  97. Oh, and as a footnote, another night, another CBC interview:

  98. Beaten to it.. and failing to threadcheck. -1 for me.

  99. Chad Wozniak

    Mr. cwon –

    I salute and commend you for your unflinching insistence on dealing with realities in the AGW “debate,” and for calling a spade a spade in reegard to environmentalist extremism.

    AGW is not science, it’s dirty, reactionary politics. It’s time we all came fully to grips with that Inconvenient Truth.

    (The political left is reactionary, not liberal or progressive, in today’s context because it clings to inhumane ideas long since discredited – among which AGW is front and center.)

    • There is no problem with technical discussions either, the line here is the “no comment” (except vague ones) policy of Dr. Curry on the political ID of the core pro-warm science community that she has been part of for close to 30 years.

      It goes too far, skeptics need to grow up but the truth is many skeptics are Green in nature as well. It’s clearly a divide in the skeptic community and the ability to minimize the political color of the AGW movement has been used to great effect.

      The science for or against AGW has always been vague and weak, it’s politics that changes and is most important regarding policy. Tactically the image of the science “high ground” does matter and I understand and respect those skeptics fighting for it but it only matters as such due to the weak science backgrounds of the general public who could ever have bought the AGW proposition in the first place. AGW reflects a decline in social reasoning and poorer educational results. There is also the impact of government funding to create phantom science industries like AGW at work as well. It all came in a really good brochure and appealed to the baby boomer leftwing hungry to attack carbon interests despite how hypocritical or irrational the effort. AGW is like a modern hulahoop, burning your draft card or the Beenie Baby craze rolled into one. There are international narratives as well like scapegoating corporations or wealth that are standard fair in the third world. AGW is packaged to please a variety of mobs.

  100. Pekka,
    I appreciate you answers because you are reasonable, intelligent and open to discussing alternative on a number of positions including climate.

    Objective discussion of the science takes the politics out of the climate mainstream. Dr. Curry is great at developing the nuance of this discussion. I just hate to see political positions mitigate the real science of climate.

    IMO anything like climate that could take one hundred years (100) to adequately explain mandates that science be open to reasoned and observable positions. We do not need to make it easier for scientists or politicians to create poor policy.

    • We do not need to make it easier for scientists or politicians to create poor policy.

      That’s a very important point. Climate issue is one clear case where it’s difficult to tell which arguments are valid and which are still strongly influential although we should know better. It’s so difficult because the only potentially valid argument for strong immediate policies is based on precautionary principle. My view is that no class of damage has been shown to be both virtually certain and serious enough to justify very strong policies which are certain or likely to produce also costs and collateral damage.

      All existing economic analyses of the type of the Stern Review or the work of Nordhaus contain serious weaknesses. Their results depend heavily on subjective choices made by the modelers and it’s common for all such analyses that some very important aspects have been disregarded to make the analysis possible. At best such analyses tell answers to some subquestions and provide insight to the issues. The overall numbers are, however, unfortunately next to meaningless for anybody without deep understanding of what each analysis has done and what left undone.

      The fundamental issues are extremely difficult (are they wicked or a mess?). Even so it should be possible to improve understanding on them by extensive research and public discussion, but that’s very unlikely to get as far as clear answers. When we face the present situation, it may, indeed, be best to put more emphasis on avoiding worst policy errors, and to make it more difficult for scientists of one specialty or their opponents to push for and for politicians to make really poor policy. It may be impossible to tell what is best policy but it’s perhaps easier to prevent worst errors.

      It’s not uncommon that nonspecialists see correctly that there’s something wrong in the chain of conclusions of a group of specialists and decision makers taking advice from them. They are not likely to be able to pinpoint the precise errors in a convincing way, and they may propose errors in those steps of argumentation that are most solid. Thus they err in their detailed criticism but may still be right in their intuitive overall judgment that there’s something seriously lacking.

      The climate issue is in many ways unforeseen. It’s not new that uncertainties are large, but the climate issue is a global environmental issue at a level not met before. We have had Malthus and Ehrlich before, but the basis for considering climate change a potential global threat is much stronger than for any of those earlier proposals. Because the issue is unforeseen the intuition of skepti