Perils of apocalyptic thinking

by Judith Curry

The last time apocalyptic anxiety spilled into the mainstream to the extent that it altered the course of history — during the Reformation — it relied on a revolutionary new communications technology: the printing press. In a similar way, could the current surge in apocalyptic anxiety be attributed in part to our own revolution in communications technology?

The Atlantic has a very interesting article entitled How Apocalyptic Thinking Prevents Us from Taking Political Action.

Flip through the cable channels for long enough, and you’ll inevitably find the apocalypse. On Discovery or National Geographic or History you’ll find shows like MegaDisastersDoomsday Preppers, or The Last Days on Earth chronicling, in an hour of programming, dozens of ways the world might end: a gamma ray burst from a nearby star peeling away the Earth’s ozone layer like an onion; a mega-volcano erupting and plunging our planet into a new ice age; the magnetic poles reversing. Turn to a news channel, and the headlines appear equally apocalyptic, declaring that the “UN Warns of Rapid Decay in Environment” or that “Humanity’s Very Survival” is at risk. On another station, you’ll find people arguing that the true apocalyptic threat to our way of life is not the impending collapse of ecosystems and biodiversity but the collapse of the dollar as the world’s global currency. Change the channel again, and you’ll see still others insisting that malarial mosquitoes, drunk on West Nile virus, are the looming specter of apocalypse darkening our nation’s horizon.

How to make sense of it all? After all, not every scenario can be an apocalyptic threat to our way of life — can it? For many, the tendency is to dismiss all the potential crises we are facing as overblown. For others, the panoply of potential disasters becomes overwhelming, leading to a distorted and paranoid vision of reality and the threats facing our world.

The media, of course, have long mastered the formula of packaging remote possibilities as urgent threats.  It’s not just that if it bleeds, it leads. If it might bleed, it still leads.

Yet not all of the crises or potential threats before us are equal, nor are they equally probable — a fact that gets glossed over when the media equate the remote threat of a possible event, like epidemics, with real trends like global warming.

This over-reliance on the apocalyptic narrative causes us to fear the wrong things and to mistakenly equate potential future events with current and observable trends. How to discern the difference between so many apocalyptic options? If we ask ourselves three basic questions about the many threats portrayed apocalyptically in the media, we are able to separate the apocalyptic wheat from the chaff. Which scenarios are probable? Which are preventable? And what is the likely impact of the worst-case model of any given threat?

To understand why fewer people believe in climate change even as evidence mounts, we must look beyond the industry-funded movement to deny the reality and effects of climate change. Perhaps equally important — if not quite equally culpable — has been the extent to which both the proponents and opponents of human-made climate change have led us down a cul-de-sac of conversation by exploiting the apocalyptic metaphor to make their case.

Talking about climate change or peak oil through the rhetoric of apocalypse may make for good television and attention-grabbing editorials, but such apocalyptic framing hasn’t mobilized the world into action. [O]ur over-reliance on the apocalyptic storyline stands between us and our ability to properly assess the problems before us. 

The result is that the energy we could expend addressing the problems before us is instead consumed by our efforts to either dismiss the threat of apocalypse or to prove it real. Ultimately, the question becomes not what to do about the threats before us but whether you believe in the threats before us.

The deeper we entangle the challenges of the 21st century with apocalyptic fantasy, the more likely we are to paralyze ourselves with inaction — or with the wrong course of action. We react to the idea of the apocalypse — rather than to the underlying issues activating the apocalyptic storyline to begin with — by either denying its reality (“global warming isn’t real”) or by despairing at its inevitability (“why bother recycling when the whole world is burning up?”).

JC comment:  I’ve selected quotes that I think make the argument against apocalyptism.  However, if you read the entire article,  there is a strong theme of apocalyptism distracting from taking political action to address global warming.  The author seems to view the steady trend of global warming (oops well its not all that steady) as more of an issue than possible tipping point scenarios, whereas some economic analyses have focused more on the fat tail, low probability extreme events.

Now consider the 2nd peril of apocalyptic thinking, which IMO is more important.

The 2nd peril of apocalyptic thinking

I disagree with the Atlantic article’s conclusion that the main peril of apocalyptic thinking is distracting from taking action to address global warming.  The real peril of apocalyptism associated with global warming  is distracting local governments from dealing with their actual problems.

Mark Lynas has a terrific article that makes this point, entitled Where sea level rise isn’t what it seems.  The post discusses an article recently published in EOS that addresses sea level variations from the Tawana atoll in the central tropical Pacific.  Sea level rise as an existential threat to the atoll islands is one of the primary rallying cries for action against global warming.  Lynas summarizes the results from the article as follows:

To me the graph is interesting for two reasons. The first is the absence of any trend over the last 20 years towards increased sea levels in that part of the Pacific. This should be expected, because sea level rise as a computed average means that the oceans are rising in more places than they are falling, but they are falling in some places nonetheless. The second is the sheer up-and-down massive variability in actual sea levels, which is linked to the El Niño cycle. The monthly mean sea level dropped by nearly half a metre between March 1997 and February 1998 because of switch from El Niño to La Niña conditions, and peaks of 15cm were seen in each of the recent El Niño events .

So the problem with attributing sea-level rise impacts is the same as with attributing heat-waves, droughts, floods or other extreme events to climate change – you have to try to figure out what would have happened absent the global warming trend (in order to distinguish genuine impacts from noise), and also distinguish background changes from more direct anthropogenic interference which might confuse the picture. 

In Tarawa atoll, direct human interference probably explains the majority of what is often pointed to as evidence of sea-level rise impact, according to Donner. Because few readers will be able to access the paper online, I will take a leaf out of Judith Curry’s book and quote extensively from it here:  (JC note: embedded quotes are from the EOS article):

The combination of natural weather – and climate – driven variability in sea level and the astronomical tidal cycle can lead to flooding and erosion events, particularly in sand-dominated systems like atolls and barrier islands.

These flooding events, though statistically more likely to happen as global average sea level rises, are themselves no more evidence of rising sea level than an individual heat wave is evidence of rising global temperatures. Despite a continued global average sea level rise, the gauge height reached on 10 February 2005 in Tarawa has not been surpassed since.

The paper then goes on to discuss some direct human impacts which can impact shoreline dynamics with or without a sea-level trend:

Three types of shoreline modification that are typical in low-lying island nations have altered sediment supply and island shape in South Tarawa [Webb, 2005]. First, land reclamation, accomplished by infilling behind a constructed sea wall, has increased land area in some locations but exacerbated erosion and inundation in others.

Second, the practice of mining of beaches and barrier reefs for construction materials, common in Kiribati, Tuvalu, and other atoll nations, can make the shoreline more vulnerable to tidal extremes and storms.

Last, the construction of causeways between islets has altered islet evolution. Causeway construction allowed nearshore currents to deposit sediment along the lagoon beaches of South Tarawa islets like Bairiki and Nanikai [Solomon and Forbes, 1999].

The attribution problem is further magnified by the political situation. The Kiribati government faces the difficult challenge of raising international awareness about the local impacts of climate change to support adaptation and mitigation efforts. Many individual observations of erosion, flooding, or groundwater salinization, recorded in community consultations for internationally funded climate change adaptation programs, are thus attributed to climate change without scientific analysis.

Such unverified attribution can inflame or invite skepticism of the scientific evidence for a human-caused increase in the global sea level.

The challenge of differentiating between observed changes in the coastal environmental and the projected impact of sea level rise is not unique to Kiribati. For example, the Carteret Islanders of Papua New Guinea have been migrating from their home atoll for decades because overpopulation, human development, and natural disasters, in addition to sea level rise, have caused coastal erosion and reduced water availability. Nevertheless, the Carteret Islanders are commonly called the world’s first climate change “refugees” .

The upshot?

Instead of incorrectly attributing individual flood events or shoreline changes to global sea level rise, scientists and climate communicators can use such occurrences to educate the public about the various natural and human processes that affect sea level, the shoreline, and the shape of islands. This would better prepare the public and policy makers for the changes that societies are likely to experience as global sea level rises in the coming decades.

Mark Lynas summarizes: I couldn’t agree more. If island nations are making themselves more vulnerable to the slow process of sea-level rise by mining sand, destroying reefs and so on, they need to know about it – and not be encouraged to blame it all on outsiders causing climate change. In the case of the impacts currently affecting Kiribati, ‘mitigation’ means changing local practices as much as changing global ones. And therein lies a lesson for us all.

311 responses to “Perils of apocalyptic thinking

  1. My initial thought is that, once any apocalyptic hysteria is over, those who preached it are completely discredited when it doesn’t come to pass.

    Sadly, the AGW / Mann / Gore apocalyptic preaching (and the parallels between this brand of AGW “science” and religion are many) has discredited an entire generation of environmental activists. Should those people actually stumble on something that really IS serious, or want to continue progress on known issues, the lack of credibility will mean that they’ll have to fight just to avoid derision the first time they open their mouths. It might be that they are right, and the damage done by the preaching of the last decade will prevent anyone from taking them seriously.

    BTW, I have a lot more training in religion than climate science, so I >>do<< recognize religion when I see it.

    • geek49203 | April 26, 2012 at 9:18 am |

      When has this discrediting of apocalyptics ever really worked in the long run? There are dozens of apocalyptic religions in America and worldwide, and their numbers grow.

      Apocalyptic preaching was one of the original heresies of the Catholic church that could get a practitioner excommunicated, or later burned at the stake, and yet later caught on with such fervency as to become a major influence within the Vatican.

      Apocalypticism doesn’t weaken the credibility of its failed prognosticators. Its own failures increase the uncertainty of those so caught up in magickal reasoning as to spiral deeper into that self-nugatory faith.

      I have a lot more training in systems of thought than climate science, and I >may< recognize differences between a scientific and a religious one when I analyze them.

      Climate science revises its views (hypotheses) based on new observations and analyses. Religion revises its views on rhetoric and the collection plate.

      Which is part of why government funding of observations and analyses is arguable: it removes some of the pressure of privateering parties to control the output of science. Alas, the argument has fallen flat as politics has more and more succumbed in America to religious control.

      • My comment to geek49203 (below) also replies to Bart R:

      • The entire “end of the world” thing has been a thread among many of the world’s religions, certain Christianity and Islam. Those who preach an eminent end do in fact lose credibility, but as you point out, they don’t go away. Even the Apostle Paul (in Christianity) had to back track on the expectations by early Christians that Jesus would come again within the first generation. And as I recall, Islam is split between Shiite and Suni over apocalyptic thinking. The real danger is when someone dusts it off, convinced that *finally* the teachings are gonna come true soon — and when those things don’t come to pass, credibility takes a hit for a generation.

        That the AGW hysteria is described as “apocalyptic thinking” is yet another way that we use religious terminology to describe the situation. I literally think as popular Mann-style AGW as akin to a heresy in religion, where the religions leaders have to deal with a popular belief that quickly got out of hand, and now must correct the thinking of their faithful.

      • This old-blue-marble, is still good for a minimum of one-thousand years.
        I read it in the book.

      • dennis adams

        “Climate science revises its views (hypotheses) based on new observations and analyses.” Ohh really? If that were the case there wouldnt be so many skeptics running around.

      • dennis adams | April 26, 2012 at 10:44 am |

        There’s a difference between skeptics (which all scientists by definition ought be) and hysterics.

        The hysterics typically run around. The skeptics are the ones who look to observation and analyses and, as warranted, decide which hypothesis is best supported (if any) by such.

        Perhaps you could make some observations of actual tally of observations and rational observation-based analyses used by various parties, to see if you can draw some correlation between the one and the other. :)

      • Bart,

        What do we call those who sit in cubicles and constantly run model simulations?

        There is a nice piece by senior Dr Pielke about a recently released paper on regional modelling of the Tampa area climate. Upshote? Despite the claims of the authors, it appears that the old fashioned method of recording actual precipitation data is still the best means available for long term water resource planning. That and the fact someone used up a lot of computer time for no apparently worthwhile result.

      • “What do we call those who sit in cubicles and constantly run model simulations?”

        Ah the junk stereotype

      • peterdavies252

        “What do we call those who sit in cubicles and constantly run model simulations?”

        w*nkers? :)

      • “What do we call those who sit in cubicles and constantly run model simulations?”

        Hey, that would be me man. Well not constantly. Occasionally I actually wander into the lab to see whether the simulations pay off. :)

      • timg56 | April 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm |

        Who you calling ‘we’?

        I don’t call people things. (See, _conscious_ irony.)

      • David Bailey

        “Climate science revises its views (hypotheses) based on new observations and analyses.”

        Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Climate science seems to revise its interpretation of the data as the data varies, but the ultimate hypothesis remains the same!

      • and what hypothesis is that david?

        Explain what you are thinking of and I’ll explain why you are wrong.

    • In responding to apocalyptic hysteria, faith in a benevolent universe helps protect me from reverse, self-induced apocalyptic hysteria. More later, . . . – comment-31

    • geek49203,
      No apocalyptic cult believers seldom have the conscience or integrity to admit they were wrong and to reshape their world views. Look at the reaction to Gleick and Lovelock as an interesting contrast. Believers rationalize what Gleick did by pretending it was not bad. Believers rationalize what Lovelock said by pretending they never agreed with him anyway. And in both cases believers blame the skeptics. Other examples of this bizarre non-rational worldview are written by beleivers here and at other blogs.

    • geek49203:
      “My initial thought is that, once any apocalyptic hysteria is over, those who preached it are completely discredited when it doesn’t come to pass.”
      Hmm? Is that why serial apocalyptic nutter Paul Ehrlich has just become Paul Ehrlich FRS?

      “And on our program today is Paul Ehrlich, who you may remember from such much-vaunted catastrophes as…” (sarc)

      Some people can manage to fool most of the people most of the time, with different scenarios of doom over decades, and get away with it. How, I don’t know.

      • Over the past sixty-six years (66 yrs = 2012-1946) the UK’s Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences and the United Nations” have secretly worked together to:

        a.) Unite Nations
        b.) Avoid Nuclear War
        c.) Hide Information on
        “Nuclear Fire”

        Major fields of science have been compromised along the way. Details are here:

        With kind regards,
        Oliver K. Manuel
        Emeritus Professor of
        Nuclear & Space Science
        Former NASA Principal
        Investigator for Apollo

    • Paul Milligan

      I would like to offer some constructive criticism to your argument. You said: “My initial thought is that, once any apocalyptic hysteria is over, those who preached it are completely discredited when it doesn’t come to pass.” Historically the result is quite the opposite. Once the hysteria ends, most apocalyptic movements actually GAIN momentum. Leon Festinger did some historical and sociological studies of this phenomenon, and Richard Landes has argued that (nearly) all major world religions started out as apocalyptic movements.

    • Speaking of training & NOT religion when I see it…

      When is this stuff gonna stop?

      Now we return you all to the AGW scientists, as they continue their work on that incredibly dangerous gas: CO2.
      Is it, real?

    • geek49203, How can we have ‘apocalyptic hysteria’ when the top-of-the-top, won’t tell us the truth about anything?

      “My initial thought is that, once any apocalyptic hysteria is over, those who preached it are completely discredited when it doesn’t come to pass.”

      We don’t have to worry, the government is working on our problem.

    • Well you can’t blame science now, they tried and failed, Leaving this neo-viro to the next government to develope, for use against their enemies.

      They’ll have it coming too.

  2. peterdavies252

    “could the current surge in apocalyptic anxiety be attributed in part to our own revolution in communications”

    You bet! Its the same old doomsday thinking that seems to have magnetic appeal to crouds of otherwise sane and responsible human beings.

    • peterdavies252

      err … crowds

    • peterdavies252 | April 26, 2012 at 9:20 am |

      So, you don’t think the crappy state of the economy, terrorism on US soil, the USA’s seventh failed war in a row, the upsurge in religion in general replacing pragmatism, corruption of the school systems by religious thought, and the growing wealth divide have anything to do with the problem?

      Or consider that increasing and more powerful and direct communication furnishes and buttresses the solution to such forces?

      • You are right, Bart, the “crappy state of the economy, terrorism on US soil, the USA’s seventh failed war in a row,” etc. ad infinitum are part of the problem.

        The question is how much of this has been induced by those who seek to control mankind? More on this later, . . .

      • Bart R,
        Your list of symptoms is, to be diplomatic, dubious at best.

      • Heh, merely filled with unconscious irony. It’s a gem.

      • kim | April 26, 2012 at 11:23 am |

        Unconscious? If it makes it more of a gem for you that way, then sure. Unconscious it is. As conscious irony, it’d only be fair to middlin’.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Your slip is showing.

      • peterdavies252

        You seem to be caught up in all this negativity as well Bart. For every point you have made there would be millions who see the positive side of the humbling of the US and its resurgence of religious activity.

        The US and its political leaders need to replace arrogance with circumspection in its dealings with the rest of the world.

        The GFC has IMO made the US economy very vulnerable and to be honest, the blame rests solely with the US financial system and its denizens.

        I agree with you that the process of finding solutions to these issues will be greatly facilitated by the increasing influence of communication media in general and of ordinary folk like ourselves who contribute to it.

      • “The GFC has IMO made the US economy very vulnerable”

        As opposed to the stalwart European economy.

      • peterdavies252

        The situation in Europe has other issues apart from the GFC. The problems of PIGS seem more to do with the profligate spending habits of Governments in these countries than with systemic problems in unemployment and housing market doldrums in many areas of the US.

      • Sorry, but listening to Europeans and Americans bicker and argue about who killed the world economy has the sound of two one-legged men participating in a butt-kicking contest.

      • peterdavies252

        Agree NW. I believe that the GFC would have to had happened as there were intrinsic factors applying to the US AND Europe which makes for hard landings in these countries.

        Dunno about the world economy being killed by the GFC though. There are many economies, including Australia, that are performing OK and IMO more sustainably than otherwise.

      • peterdavies252 | April 26, 2012 at 9:18 pm |

        Sometimes it’s not the people who disagree with one that lead to the most critical questioning of one’s point of view, but the ones who agree.

        Allow me to say rather, I would expect good correlation between causes of suffering or perceptions of a rigged game and tendency to apocalyptic views.

        You can find apocalyptic cults among almost any large or diverse enough culture, historically, pre-contact with technology or Western thought. The hypothesis that communications is somehow to blame, or it will somehow wear off once we’re all used to Twitter strikes me as absurd.

        But if you it rocks your boat to go looking for evidence, who am I to judge?

      • peterdavies252

        Bart I am trying to understand what you are alluding to wrt the hypothesis that advances in communications have in some way aided and abetted the spread of apocalyptic views.

        You seem to be suggesting that it is something in human nature that causes a morbid fascination with the biblical idea of the end of days and this has resulted in many cults (religious mainly but some secular ones as well, such as our current CAGW).

        In which case you could well be correct in assuming that the issue of mass communication technologies would not be relevant to the spread of FUD among the masses. However, it certainly seems to me that the presence of this technolgy has been of considerable importance for the propagation of sceptical points of view as far as CAGW is concerned.

      • peterdavies252 | April 27, 2012 at 9:03 am |

        Huh. Intrinsic to human nature? Not so much.

        A reliably observed response to conditions in a wide variety of human cultures independent of other common variables, and with no appearance that communications disseminated the response itself, in a wide number of cases? Yes.

        There are frequent occurences of a perhaps related phenomenon, “cluster suicide”, where one suicide appears to trigger many in response. One might suppose the way to prevent this cascade is to prevent communication of the death. However, generally these clusters have so many other common factors that few of the suicides can be shown to be related to each other by direct cause-and-effect, and mainly by the deep despair, drug abuse, depression and malaise of the suicides themselves.

        So while communications might play a negative role, it plays a far more necessary and positive role in uncovering and bringing attention and hope to malaise, depression, drug abuse and despair.

        Placing the blame in the wrong place just prolongs and makes worse the problem.

        You know, like people who blame the sun, cosmic rays, ‘natural variability’ and planetary alignments for human-caused climate change.

      • peterdavies252

        There are certainly negative influences at work in shaping how humans perceive what is happening around them. Unfortunately the press and television panders to the negative because it sells more and opens up more opportunities for the advertisers and increases media profits.

        I have said before on this blog that warmists seem to be generally more pessimistic than sceptics wrt to future climate trends and I continue to believe that the degree of pessimism held by the person will most likely influence their perception of doom. This surely is a trivial conclusion and self evident.

        My take on the communication technology hypothesis behind this topic is that if one agrees that it has aided and abetted the propagation of sceptical points of view in the case of CAGW alarmism then it surely must be true that the communications technology has assisted in the propagation of FUD in the masses as well.

      • “There are certainly negative influences at work in shaping how humans perceive what is happening around them. Unfortunately the press and television panders to the negative because it sells more and opens up more opportunities for the advertisers and increases media profits.”

        I think the media is really interested in reporting anecdotes, coincidences, and improbabilities. Media consumers want to hear the weird because it gives them water cooler talk for the next day. Weird can be either positive or negative.

        “I have said before on this blog that warmists seem to be generally more pessimistic than sceptics wrt to future climate trends and I continue to believe that the degree of pessimism held by the person will most likely influence their perception of doom. “

        Not true. For every skeptic that says that global warming won’t be as much as advertised, there will be another one that wants the global warming, i.e. bring it on!

        The common thread among fake skeptics is often not pessimism nor optimism but contrarianism. They just like to be different and spew their belief systems. Thus you have strains of contrarians that include cornucopians, those that suggest that huge amounts of CO2 will be portend great abundance for biological systems. And then you have negetarians that are essentially anti-science for whatever reason, and knee-jerk oppose whatever the climate “cabal” says. And then there are the people that believe in weird things as they feel part of a group that shares some secret knowledge.

        A true skeptic would actually have a competing model that would show pessimism or optimism, depending on what it produces as a climate projection. In other words, the pessimism or optimism should only exist within the context of the scientific investigation. Nature knows where it is going, and it is up to the scientists to figure out the trajectory.

        So where is the model that shows this pessimism? I have yet to see that one.

        The other skeptical position is to say “can’t know”. This is neither optimistic or pessimistic, but is palatable to the masses because it fits BAU. I personally don’t like this attitude, because for a lot of us, not knowing is fighting words and it serves as a motivational challenge.

      • peterdavies252

        I wrote about “warmists” (ie people who believe in AGW to some degree) as having generally more negative attitudes about future climate trends and that CAGW alarmists have more entrenched negativity, which gives rise to doomsday thinking IMO.

        It is true that sceptics are all over the place wrt climate change and WHT’s point about each “true sceptic” (however this may be defined) needing to have an alternative model available for falsification rings true.

        Let me put this in another way. The obverse would be true; sceptics are in general more optimistic wrt to future climate trends than warmists. This is notwithstanding that sceptics are generally more pessimistic about the state of climate science and about the competency and honesty of its practitioners!

      • It pleases me to read that both WHT and Peter Davies are rejecting the notion that facts alone can kill theories. You also need an alternative theory to do the job.

        I hope to see a general trend on Climate Etc. of rejection of naive falsificationism, which is a pretty silly philosophy of science, toward the horserace conception that makes far more sense. :) I look forward to the time when we will be spared the uninteresting and sophomoric “fact X falsifies theory T” nonsense.

      • NW

        I like your optimism.

      • I am very optimistic about renewable energy strategies because I find benefits that most climate skeptics (at least the ones that comment here) completely miss. They tend to despise wind energy and PV technology, thus being pessimistic to the extreme. Note that this aspect is engineering and not necessarily science.

        To NW and what I interpret as a sarcastic comment. I don’t know how you can falsify the scientific fact that fossil fuels are a finite non-renewable resource. That’s a certainty, so I am guessing that you are an economist with little knowledge of practical science.

        “I look forward to the time when we will be spared the uninteresting and sophomoric “fact X falsifies theory T” nonsense.”

        Physics theory is a continuum, and one fact will not falsify the continuum. Sheez. NW must be reading from talking points.

      • Bart said:


        I like your optimism.”

        See what I mean? That’s sarcasm from a pro. You counter sarcasm with heaping amounts of opposing sarcasm.

      • Jeez Web. Where exactly on the Spectrum do you fall? I am frequently light-hearted in my commentary but only rarely sarcastic. I was actually congratulating you guys for getting beyond naive falsification. As for finite resources, I think you aren’t enough of an inductivist about capitalism and creative destruction but you are in good company on that so I leave you to wallow in what you will. But I wasn’t even thinking about that.

        And actually, I think Bart and I understand each other quite well.

      • peterdavies252

        Sceptics are generally against wind and solar energy not because of pessimism but because of economics (high capitalisation costs and maintenance costs) and because of (a) issues around storage of any resultant excess energy and (b) lack of continuity of power when the wind drops or the sun sets.

        Theories in physics and other sciences do not seem to be part of any continuum; rather more like discrete concepts with which experiments may be set up to test such hypotheses against the data. Perhaps WHT migh

      • peterdavies252

        might like to clarify this? Sorry but my computer blinked and the post I was doing was sent off before i had finished.

      • WHT prefers to be called WebTurd.

      • Because some people can’t put two and two together, WHT said:

        “A true skeptic would actually have a competing model that would show pessimism or optimism, depending on what it produces as a climate projection.”

        And then Peter Davies replied:

        “It is true that sceptics…[need] to have an alternative model available for falsification…”

        In a previous post, I was GENUINELY, not sarcastically, praising both of them for getting closer to the true beating heart of science. It is not merely fact X contradict theory A. It is, rather, theory B better explains and predicts facts X, Y, Z…and so on than theory A does, according to some socially agreed metric of “better explains and/or predicts.” Does that leave out a lot of details? You bet, but at least now we are talking real horseraces with two or more horses, instead of the deadly dull world of a one-horse horserace in which the horse (invariably) dies before it reaches the finish line.

        There was no sarcasm intended whatsoever.

        Get it Web. The best card you have to play is that the typical skeptic around this place has no alternative theory. Therefore they are playing the sterile game of noting that the traditional horse dropped before reaching the finish line at Preakness, without saying anything about other horses.

        Why play this game, of arguing endlessly as to whether that is a fair characterization of the performance of the traditional horse? If they don’t have a bona fide horse on the damned track–much less are unwilling to COMPARE the relative performance of your horse and their horse–why should you play their game?

      • ..


        Erm, no?

        There was some unavoidable irony, but I was sincere.

        I find NW’s optimism positive, useful and motivational.

        I aspire to be so myself. Only slightly taller.

      • “There was no sarcasm intended whatsoever.”

        Sorry. I thought it was meant sarcastically. You did put a smiley face in the middle, which is usually the only way I can detect thinly veiled sarcasm, i.e. “I agree with you 100%. :) ”

        Sorry :(

      • WebHubTelescope | April 28, 2012 at 2:16 am |

        No worries. The medium is imperfect, and I’m notably incomprehensible at my best.

        Though, the smiley was NW’s.

      • I could have some emoticons backwards. I thought :) meant ‘hey I’m being light-hearted but basically straightforward and friendly.” Then there is the “winky,” ;) , which I thought meant “This remark is to be taken with salt, or sarastically, or ironically, or maybe all three.”

        We MIGHT all be speaking different emoticon languages. That would expalin… well not a lot, but some things.

  3. Let me add that I make a distinction between those who preached the hysteria, and the scientists who were honestly working in the field (which doesn’t include Mann, East Anglia, etc). I lurk here just to see what those who are really in the field are saying, which often is much different than the Al Gore / Mann-style doomsday preaching.

    • So what do you make of the RealClimate “Hansen was right, Mann was right” line of thinking? Why even bother – who cares if Hansen was right in 1980? Today’s predictions are what they are…


      • What do I make of it? I say that “So and so was right!” isn’t a statement made by serious scientists. It is entirely consistent with activists. The world thought that time and space were “Fixed” until Einstein came along, and after that, we’re not even entirely sure about Einstein, are we? Stephen Hawkins was “Right” about black holes until he realized he was “wrong” but we’re still trying to figure that out, right? We all “knew” that stress caused stomach ulcers, right? Any serious scientist would not say “so and so was right” because so many “right” ideas are later proven wrong. And besides, rivalries among scientists mean that the one who proves a long-standing “dogma” to be in err becomes famous…..

      • I never cease to be astonished by the number of times the notion that ‘stress cause ulcers’ is glibly presented as evidence of our one-time ignorance. Helicobacter pylori notwithstanding, the fact remains that ‘stress’ is often a major contributor to peptic ulcer disease. If nothing else, stress substantially diminishes the immune response leading to increased propensity to colonisation of the GIT by Helicobacter. Moreover, I have seen quite a number of patients whose peptic ulcer disease improved significantly when removed from highly stressful situations. Hospitalisation in intensive care units or severe injuries also often lead to the onset of what are termed ‘stress ulcers.’ It’s but another example of the simplistic reductionist thinking which fails to embrace the complexities of any given situation – a problem that bedevils staunch warmists and sceptics alike.

      • +1 (How’s that for reductionism? ;) )

      • Or Phil Jones’ comment that he hopes we all boil to prove he was right. “Haha, told you so, nyanyanyanyana!”


      • Paul Milligan

        Did Phil Jones REALLY say that? If so, can you provide some link?

      • It’s a travesty that we’re not all boiling already.

      • {email – 4184}
        date: Wed Feb 13 09:17:10 2008
        from: Phil Jones
        subject: Re: Feb 7-8
        to: “James Hansen”

        Even though it’s been a mild winter in the UK, much of the rest of the world seems coolish – expected though given the La Nina. Roll on the next El Nino!

      • (email from July 5th 2005):

        “If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences. This isn’t being political, it is being selfish.”

        The ‘nyanyanyanyana’ was a journalistic embellishment.

      • You see Phil Jones, etc really do think the science of AGW is sound. It isn’t just about grabbing funding as many deniers claim.

        Many of us expect the warming trend to continue and so we would like for it to do so in a quite obvious way so that that the idiots who insist on denying it by focusing on short-term trends have nothing left to hold onto.

      • Phil Jones might in fact believe the science. Then again, he’s not oblivious to the fact that, in his short career, his backwater area of science has become a rock star, with the band members attracting all the groupies in the world. And certainly he’s not unaware that those in that band are bringing fame and fortune to their arenas (universities). When you’re being rewarded quite handsomely, wouldn’t it be difficult to admit that your gravy train isn’t built on scientific fact after all?

        Again, the religion parallels — when the priestly class is making a living, and deriving power and attention and a sense of moral superiority from what it teaches, it’s damned difficult to admit that maybe you were wrong?

      • Another one from Jones:

        Tim, Chris,
        I hope you’re not right about the lack of warming lasting till about 2020. I’d rather hoped to see the earlier Met Office press release with Doug’s paper that said something like – half the years to 2014 would exceed the warmest year currently on record, 1998! I seem to be getting an email a week from skeptics saying where’s the warming gone. I know the warming is on the decadal scale, but it would be nice to wear their smug grins away.

      • Political Junkie

        Paul Milligan,

        Try reading the ACTUAL Climategate emails (not someone’s spin).

        Fascinating stuff!

      • “Phil Jones might in fact believe the science.”

        Why say might? You can see from the climategate emails that Phil Jones and the other scientists involved do believe the science.

        Look someone has even quoted Phil Jones saying: “I know the warming is on the decadal scale”

        Ie he knows there will be more warming. He isn’t scamming people for funding, he thinks the science shows what he says it shows.

        It’s funny how the cliamtegate emails are only ever used by deniers as proof of what the scientists think when it suits the denialist cause.

      • “‘Phil Jones might in fact believe the science.’ Why say might?”

        Because I am not living in his head to get his ever thought recorded. Being a thinking human, if he’s a true scientist, he probably has times when he’s reconsidering some aspect of his field’s work, but doing so privately as well. If he’s like every scientist I’ve met, there are things that he kinda sorta understands, but not really, and isn’t sure how they work.

        IMHO, only the “advocates” and “hysterical” are the ones so damned sure that they user terms like “Settled science” and “deniers” and such. Cause those aren’t the words that scientists use when I talk to them….

        (shoe, fits…)

      • Many of us expect the warming trend to continue and so we would like for it to do so in a quite obvious way so that that the idiots who insist on denying it by focusing on short-term trends have nothing left to hold onto.

        Ehh?? Are you saying you’re hoping for global catastrophe, just in order to prove your point???
        Either you don’t really believe it’s going to happen, or you’re a sicko!
        Which is it?

      • John Carpenter

        “Many of us expect the warming trend to continue and so we would like for it to do so in a quite obvious way so that that the idiots who insist on denying it by focusing on short-term trends have nothing left to hold onto.”

        What if it isn’t a short term trend? Then what? You change your mind?

      • A whole class of people, living in Hell already. Imagine the agony when it doesn’t warm. Hey, I agonize too.

      • “Ehh?? Are you saying you’re hoping for global catastrophe, just in order to prove your point???”

        No, global warming. I see we’ve conveniently lost that CAGW/AGW distinction all of a sudden…

      • Really?
        How would you define “a quite obvious way “, if not something like a sudden massive rise in temperature, which is likely to be catastrophic (not that I believe that can happen)

      • A sudden rise in temperatures could be catastrophic. I think each, eg 0.2C rise, in temperature carries some risk, mainly because so much on earth is somewhat sensitive to temperature and no-one understands everything in order to know where the limits are.

  4. “It’s not just that if it bleeds, it leads. If it might bleed, it still leads.” What a perfect description of the MSM’s derelict reporting of climate catastrophism, and how ironic that the author should have succumbed to it.

    HIs observation about the printing press is apposite, but the single greatest culprit for the tide of daffy catastrophism that started with Silent Spring and culminated in CAGW is not the communication, but the computing, revolution. Computers, with their ability to do vast numbers of trivial calculations very quickly, have enabled the proliferation of things that “might bleed”, through the concoction of “scenarios”. If it can be modelled, they can male it scary.

    • tomf0p | April 26, 2012 at 9:30 am |

      If it bleeds then it’s expensive, difficult and dangerous to cover, and full of uncertainty and contradiction. If it _might_ bleed it’s dirt cheap, easy and less risky, plus can be made to fit whatever editorial narrative the owner wants. (Fox News comes to mind.)

      But really, when we look at ‘might bleed’ type reporting in climate, doesn’t “The Great Climate Swindle” leap to mind with its manufactured and custom tailored graphs, misquotes of experts, ambush tactics and misleading rhetoric as an example of cheap and easy?

      • “when we look at ‘might bleed’ type reporting in climate, doesn’t “The Great Climate Swindle” leap to mind”

        No, it doesn’t.

      • “But really, when we look at ‘might bleed’ type reporting in climate, doesn’t “The Great Climate Swindle” leap to mind”

        It didn’t leap to mind, but now you mention it yes.

        Apocalyptic stories are just one form of sensationalizing. The “WE ARE ALL BEING LIED TOO” Cult of climate deniers push a different form of sensationalism. Delingpole and blogs like WUWT for example live off it. Spreading outrage and OMGs is how they get hits. In the process science reporting gets bent to fit that mold, just as those trying to bend it to fit apocalyse do.

  5. My post today at MasterResource, “Strident Climate Alarmism: Zwick meets Gleick,” speaks to some of these same issues.

  6. Good point against apocalitic thinking, but you miss a thirs point.
    Apocaliptic thinking call people to forget about normal safety protection against usual danger, because the more horrible is now sure and unacceptable.

    I have been shocked by the violence of 10:10 campaign (where opponents, including kids, head explode in a flash of flesh and blood), but discussing with a moderate friend we found that it was a normal campaign for people really SURE and AFRAID of an HORRIBLE event .
    in that CERTAINTY, you have to forget the old MORAL, the humanism, the democracy, the sacred state of life, the freedom,… you MUST take EMERGENCY MEASURES. killing the opponents to save the other life.

    it is RATIONAL.

    the genocide in Rwanda was caused by the certainty that Tootsies would takeover the power in Rwanda (validated fact) and they will kill all the opponents (classic) and even genocide the population (not sure, but not so unrealistic, and the end of the genocide was not so far from a Hutu back-genocide). The genocide was a inhuman rational solution to avoid a pretended SURE fact.

    The end of democracy by Hitler was a rational analysis by middleclass that something have to be done to save the economy of the country, even if it mean to abandon freedom. An to be honest, the economy was saved by Austrian economist theory, but with “side effects” (sad euphemism).

    Alarmism, allow to apply “Shock Doctrine” kind of solution. You accept do abandon all your past beliefs, your ethic…
    Some compare Climate Alarmism to terrorism alarmism (read Bruce Schneier in “Beyond Fear” to get back to the ground), that lead to Patriot act, far from US culture of undeniable freedom.

    It is also related to Post Normal Science theory, which is junk science pretended to be required because of huge risk…

    Alarmism, like a Shock Doctrine, might look as a “needed manipulation to overcome the inertia in democratic countries. Exaggeration at the beginning might be conscious at the beginning, done by a group of moderate actors, just willing to make things go at a faster but “normal” pace. then everybody start to believe in the lie, and it became unstoppable truth until all explode facing a powerful opponent that violently force the believers to see the horror of the consequences.

    note that some environmentalist even took this kind of rational reasoning in public… without shame.
    Think about the serious proposal of genetic manipulation of humans to reduce AGW.

    Sad and frightening.

    • When AIDS was the “new thing” I noted that steps taken by medical personnel against blood-borne disease suddenly were taken seriously. Mind you, at that point, there were still infinitely more cases of Hep I, Hep II, etc, but it took a NEW — but at that point, OBSCURE — threat to make the changes.

      There is something about the new threats (ie, AGW) that motivate people to action, while we live contentedly with old threats that are infinitely more valid (ie, 50,000 people killed each year in auto accidents).

      As I figured, once AGW’s hysterical predictions became the “old known danger” then they would loose their impact. And I know liberals well enough to understand that they’d soon find a new fad to worry about.

      • In France, I see a recent campaign against overpopulation…

        the problem is that since a few decades we know that demographic transition is much faster than anticipated, and population won’t increase much.

        but journalist and population are still in love with that old fear….

        same for water-shortage, which represent water as a non renoewable resource, while it is simply the most recyclable resource, and usage is only an energetic problem, because when used it get to clouds or rivers…
        seeing pretended researchers cry for panic, and not saying that it is a pure energy , thus poverty , problem.
        Are they stupid, white lying, delusionned, or corrupted?

  7. The man who told me two years agi the Earth will be consumed in a ball of holy fire is an apocalyptic.

    The woman who told me two years ago me Japan was due for an at least 8.0 earthquake and tsunami that might kill thousands of people and shutter its economy and that it’s nuclear industry was at risk? She was a scientist.

    • In ancient times, Elijah said that the drought in Israel was due to the sins of the King. Today we “know” that drought is due to sins of SUV owners…..

      • geek49203 | April 26, 2012 at 10:36 am |

        Has Elijah published his data yet? Where’s his code? Where’s his peer review?

        Where are Elijah’s emails?

        Why hasn’t there been an inquiry?!

    • Bart, are you sure they weren’t both monkeys at typewriters? As I recall, since at least 1989, there has been at least one book in every year t with a title like “The Coming Financial Crisis of t+1 And How To Protect Your Family From It.”

      So were Roubini and Schiller prophetic, or monkeys at typewriters? How about that woman you met?

      History is funny this way, not like a lab you can go into and re-run with a new sample of subjects.

      • NW | April 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm |

        Sorry NW, I can’t really ask her. Note the pastness of the tense. (Though also, we didn’t meet face to face, either.)

        However, I’m told the general opinion of some in the geophysics community is that there is about one chance in a thousand in the next two months of an earthquake of at least 9.0 somewhere in the world, rising to about one chance in three in the next 50 years.

        She had been talking about a prediction on the half century timescale. Her bad luck to have been on duty when it happened.

        Did the world end? No.
        Did many, many people suffer, and some of them die? Yes.
        Could it have been averted? Not so much.
        Could it have been made much less costly in suffering and life and treasure? Very much so.
        Were the mistakes made by scientists? Not so far as I can tell.
        Did businessmen and politicians succumb to greed and stupidity, making this much worse than it need have been? Clearly.
        Has anyone learned from this? Not so far as I can see.
        The Ukraine pays 6% of its GDP toward the consequences of Chernobyl, even 26 years later, and is due to continue to pay this price for several decades more, on top of its losses in life and suffering.
        Japan has two to four reactors in as bad condition as Chernobyl as a result of Japan’s failure to consider the perils soberly and pragmatically of its earthquake prone situation.
        The cost to Japan, of properly building and planning? A tiny fraction of even the first year losses since the earthquake.
        Were it any business of mine, I’d be wanting to see people who made this disaster so much worse than it needed to be spending a lot of time in jail, and paying everything they own, to recognize and redress their wrongs.
        If such a thing visits American shores, you know I will be no more forgiving.

  8. Dr. Curry,
    Thank yo ufor hilighting one of the central points about the AGW movement- that it is at heart an apocalyptic cult.

    • Paul Milligan

      Technically, no, it is not. It is (or may be) a millennialist movement. The very nature of a cult is that its adherents shares universal beliefs. There ARE apocalyptic cults that follow the AGW movement, but characterizing an entire movement as a cult creates an illusion of homogeneity that will lead you to make incorrect assumptions about their motives and reactions.

  9. Apocalyptic cults usually have two features in common:

    (1) Those who read the Signs correctly and preach accordingly shall become infinitely more important.
    (2) Those who transgress and ignore the Signs shall be punished.

    ‘Nuff said.

  10. The last time apocalyptic anxiety spilled into the mainstream to the extent that it altered the course of history [was] during the Reformation

    With respect, Judith, the starting statement of your essay is factually incorrect.

    Numerous instances of apocalyptic anxiety are evident, for example, in Fortune Magazine‘s 1955 Symposium The Fabulous Future: America in 1980.

    This symposium is notable in being led by the most prominent conservatives of the Eisenhower Era, and these 1950s conservative were concerned with regard to several apocalyptic possibilities:

    (1) Apocalyptic global wars fought with thermonuclear weapons.

    (2) Economic apocalypse associated to the risks and expenses of nuclear power.

    (3) Ecological apocalypse associated to environmental toxins.

    (4) Climate-change apocalypse associated to CO2 emissions.

    Thus it solid Eisenhower-era conservatives who first responsibly raised these concerns … long before Al Gore! … as readers of Climate Etc. are invited to verify for themselves.

    Fortunately for us all, in subsequent decades conservatives and liberals worked together effectively, to deal with these threats constructively. In particular, the START nuclear disarmament treaties, EPA regulation of the “dirty dozen” pesticides, and the Montreal Treaty protecting the ozone layer, all were positive steps, toward prudent objectives, that have forestalled very real apocalytic outcomes.

    Bottom Line The plain lesson of recent conservative history is that the only apocalypse we need fear, is the apocalypse that is associated to the willfully ignorant insistence that no responsibly foresighted actions need be taken, in dealing with the challenges of our 21st century.

    • Joy

      You appear to be a bit of a doom monger, for example over alarming sea levels which I refuted at great length over the other thread by which time you have moved on.

      Lets take the ozone layer-what is currently happening with it and what apocalyptic outcome has been prevented?

      How do we know that there hasnt always been a hole but we didn’t have the means to measure it until the 1950’s? Both the Max Planck institute and Cambridge University have confirmed to me that this scenario is possible.


      • ceteris non paribus

        One man’s doom-monger is another man’s scientific realist.

        How many readers here have even heard of Sherry Rowland?

        BTW, Joy, opposition to the Montreal Protocols was strong, well-financed, and involved many names you might recognize: S. Fred Singer, the GMI, etc.

        Plus ça change…

      • Tony,

        I’d love for someone to show exactly how the ozone hole is supposedly causing great harm.

      • timg56
        I’m sure that Joy will be along any time now to tell us

    • Joy – best not to mention Eisenhower, otherwise we’ll all be treated to a certain video. :-),

    • Joy,
      One chacacteristic of apocalyptic cult thinking is that in face of unwanted information, the believer simply repeats their mantra of doom.

      • not specific to apocalyptic, but to any rational denial of inconvenient (expensive in estimated wealth) facts, in a context of a comfortable belief (high estimated wealth, endangered by dissenting facts), as described by Roland benabou theory.

        First data and dissenters are ignored, then the group gather to punish the dissenters, and violence increase as the truth is hard to hide (Benabou model explaining this needed parallelism of failure and needed violence to hide it).

    • Eisenhower-era conservatives??!

      • ceteris non paribus

        You think everyone was a liberal until Ronald Reagan had finished his movie career?

      • Well, kinda. The terms “liberal” and “conservative” did not mean then what they do now, and the political battle lines were drawn very differently. In contemporary terms, JFK was hands down more conservative than Nixon, and probably more conservative than Eisenhower. Small-government libertarianism wasn’t even a feature of Reagan’s conservatism until at least the 70s.

    • blueice2hotsea

      Yes. I also equate conservatives with a pragmatic interest in averting potential catastrophes. I can think of many examples. One was Edward Teller who as director of Lawrence Livermore Laboratories started numerous such investigations, including funding research into CO2 caused global warming, in the 1950’s.

      However, once a looming catastrophe has been identified, the Hippocrates styled conservative will not endorse an action as acceptable unless it does good AND minimizes collateral harm.

  11. Tonight I atttended James Delingpole’s talk in Melbourne, which was well attended. Professor Plimer was there. I presented him with Kim’s message t shirt which I told him was manufactured in our great southern land but created at Judith’s blog. Bit of repartee and JD read out the message to laughter and applause. He said he’d wear it. :-)
    Co2’s cool.
    Against the lying
    and the fright.

    • Beth

      Nice effort and what a cool ref to dylan (the other one)

    • Did James Delingpole push any Apolcalyptic Thinking about the economy collapsing if carbon emissions are regulated?

      • The evidence that taxation, and the power to tax, destroys economies might be a bit more certain than stuff based on computer-adjusted tree growth ring models. Just a thought. Might have been around for a while longer too.

        Then again, most liberals I meet never study actual economics, they just read “economists” who tell them that socialized stuff and massive spending is good (ie, Krugmann)

      • “The evidence that taxation, and the power to tax, destroys economies”

        What evidence? I count over a hundred countries on Earth that have taxation and the power to tax but don’t have destroyed economies.

      • lolwot, to paraphrase Bob Lucas: “Geek’s statement wasn’t a very good one, but your response kinda sucked too.”

      • huh.

        NW has a point.

        There are much better, more educational and relevant answers to what after all wasn’t a very good statement. Especially as there’s worthwhile debate between the two opposed viewpoints, and both of the proponents are we know capable of better, from past posts.

        Perhaps they could take a break and come back better rested?

    • So, is it too offensive to wear:

      CO2 School
      Sage, rage
      Against Denying
      And de Trite.

  12. Paul Milligan

    Dr. Curry,

    I would like it very much if you and your readers would reconsider the premise that apocalyptic thinking is on the rise. Please consider the total area under the four curves in this graph as a challenge to this assumption.
    I have been studying millennialism as a hobby for a few years and hypothesized that (nearly) all humans hold some vision of Apocalypse. Most, however, are resistant to this claim since it implies that his/er opinion about Apocalypse is debatable.
    Mr. Paul Milligan

  13. “To understand why fewer people believe in climate change even as evidence mounts, we must look beyond the industry-funded movement to deny the reality and effects of climate change.”

    It would appear that the author has his own difficulties with reality. Where is this mounting evidence? Without evidence of positive feedback, there is no catastrophe. Where is this mounting evidence of positive feedback.

    And where is the evidence of an industry-funded movement to deny reality?

    I don’t think this turkey can gobble much louder.

    • stan,
      The author is making an argument to ratinoalize things- “we were right, but we communicated it poorly”.
      Which dovetails perfectly with the obsession in the believer community on what they call “communicatin of science”.

      • David Wojick

        Agreed Hunter. Ever since the bubbles burst in DC and Copenhagen they have been trying to explain their failure, in any terms other than that they are just wrong (the correct explanation). But the “too much apocalypse” theory means they are attacking each other. What a hoot!

        But preaching the apocalypse is their only chance so it will not go away. The news is still full of it.

  14. Tony, I gather you prefer Dylan Thomas to Robbie Burns?

  15. Lynas sees the problem as unsubstantiated claims ‘inviting or inflaming skepticism. Personally, when I see the ‘evidence’ for a hypothesis undermined, I tend to assume that the hypothesis does not hold.

    Lynas, like Revkin, sees the problem as a muddling of the message. I see it as a (partial) falsifying of the hypothesis. In the first month of my graduate career in biology, we had to read a paper exhorting us to make sure we didn’t fall in love with out hypotheses. Allow the evidence, and not prior preference, to lead us. Lynas and Revkin cling to their massively complex mathematical models, while choosing to ignore the facts on the ground. I trust data before model projections.

    • There isn’t a single hypothesis that is either true or false. There are hundreds of different hypotheses on this subject. Thousands even.

      Eg a hypothesis about what happens to UK weather in a warmer world is completely separate from a hypothesis of what impacts of sea level will be on particular islands.

      • David Wojick

        It is true that there are thousands of hypotheses, but they form a system so they are by no means completely separate. Moreover, most are subsidiary to a few general hypotheses. For example, suppose the general hypothesis that it will warm over the present century is false. Most of the AGW related subsidiary hypotheses are then also false. Likewise if increasing CO2 levels do not cause warming, but this falsifies a rather different set of hypotheses.

        Then too, there are a large number of what we might call contingent hypotheses. These are of the form “If it warms (usually by Y amount) then X will happen.” A lot of the apocalyptic hypotheses are of this form. Technically a lack of warming does not falsify such a construction, but this technicality of logic is usually glossed over.

        Plus of course there are many hypotheses involved in the so-called data. There is actually more debate about what has happened then there is about what will happen, just because there is more to argue about.

        This convoluted, interlocking logic is part of what makes the debate so complex and confusing. But the core hypothesis is very simple, namely that increasing CO2 levels are dangerous. This is the one that is failing.

      • Yea sure it’s a tree of hypotheses.

        The problem I glimbsed inMarkBs post though is the common error of thinking falsification of a “leaf” hypothesis brings the tree down.

  16. This statement caught my attention:

    “the extent to which both the proponents and opponents of human-made climate change have led us down a cul-de-sac of conversation by exploiting the apocalyptic metaphor to make their case.”

    I’ve only seen one side in the debate talking about apocalyptic threats from climate change.

    • It could be referring to the use of strawmen – eg those who pretend AGW predicts apocalypse and so the lack of proof for that means AGW is a non-issue.

      Or it could be referring to the apocalyptic “the economy will collapse” arguments made against reducing CO2 emissions.

      Or it could be referring to the “we are about to enter an ice age!” alarmism a lot of deniers push to be different.

      • I think you are either wrong on the first one or being coy. There is plenty of material out there calling for catastrophic results from a warming climate.

        And with the possible exception of a few fringe cases, I haven’t seen alot about the next ice age, other than some passing comments that based on the record the planet is about due (in climatic timeframes) for the next ice age. So this is a fail also.

        But as all you really need is one of the three to be on target, number two does the trick. I have seen the economic diasters theme quite frequeently. re,

      • This not being able to see my comments as I type is playing havoc on my spelling. I make enough mistakes on my own as it is.

    • I’ve only seen one side in the debate talking about apocalyptic threats from climate change.”

      You mean the side that seems to think that acting to prevent serious harm from AGW means returning all mankind to the stoneage? Yes, I’ve spotted that alarmist mantra too.

  17. Sorry, folks; global cooling is a Hell of a lot more apocalyptic than global warming and a Hell of a lot more likely too. Nonetheless, I do not predict.

    • John Carpenter

      ‘global cooling’ and ‘Hell’ in such juxtaposition…. you meant to do that didn’t you… haha

      • Well, Hell will freeze over before some of these people change their minds.

  18. We had a recent “apocalyptic” experience called Y2K. It is not a perfect analogy to our climate issues, but it did exhibit some of the same human behaviors.

    Today I still run into people that say Y2K was no big deal, and it was all overblown. Some people did try to make it into a bigger deal than it really was. However many professional IT folks, myself included, spent many years of their lives doing nothing but quietly repairing all of our Y2K software defects. I personally spent three years doing this.

    I also encountered people that errored in the other direction; I encountered an Apple computer support person that claimed his systems were 100% bullet proof and they had nothing to be concerned about, even though he hadn’t run any software tests. I personally witnessed him eat crow with his customers when we entered into the year 2000 and several of the vendor software products he had installed did not process data correctly.

    So you will always have the apocalyptic people that believe we are in deep doo-doo, and the what-me-worry crowd that thinks nothing of it, while in the middle the serious engineers and scientists are quietly doing the hard work that needs to get done. Its just human nature.

    • Pete

      I had a very different experience of Y2K.

      At the time I was working in systems testing in the hub of an international franchised financial organisation. In 5 man-years of checking code, and 20 man-years of system testing we found just a couple of minor defects, and corrected them. The cost was exhorbitant, but nothing compared to what our commercial masters (a big and generally incompetent American bank) spent to avoid being sued by huckster lawyers.

      Come New Years 2000 I had to communicate with the franchised businesses across the world to make sure they were surviving. Some (mainly in developing nations) had done no work at all. I asked what would happen if Y2K bugs crashed their systems. They said it was no problem, they’d fix things quickly, this was far cheaper than making an inordinately expensive fuss about it all.

      In the end the ‘Y2K international emergency task force’ stood down after 3 immensely boring (but highly-paid!) 24-hour days. No-one had a major problem, including those businesses in countries which had done zero work.

      There were folks in the UK who sold their houses and moved to ex-fallout shelters in the wilds of Scotland to escape the Y2K catastrophe. I don’t know whether enough time has now passed for them to regard the whole episode as humourous.

      • they probably sealed the doors and still don’t know

      • I was an IT guy in 1999. This meant that Y2K was a license to steal. Anything and everything was spent with the Y2K justification.

        And since I was a good IT guy — and not always running frantic — I got to address the 14-page Y2K questionnaires that came from our vendors and customers. IT seemed to me that lawyers also made out like bandits. On most of them I simply wrote on the first page that our products — hydraulic cylinders — seemed to be Y2K compliant, and sent that back. Oh, and then I hit up the boss for a “Y2K compliant” fax machine and computerized A/C thermostat.

      • The Insurance company I worked for was very old and so was its software. Our defect rate was very high, and the 3 years spent by a 5 man team literally saved the organization. In the planning months we knew that cost containment was important. To save costs we had figured out a way to discover defects without actually running systems tests. We ran source code scans that identified only those lines of code that were succeptable, and we hand-checked them. (we only had 1.5 million lines of code which is small in the corporate world.) Any remediated code was then system/regression tested.

        When good people get together to take on a difficult task, it is amazing what can happen.

  19. When the current AGW “apolcalypse runs out of steam – or money – they’ll move on the the next apolcaplyptic threat. Forty years ago we were all going to die of a nuclear holocaust, then all the whales would be gone in 5 years, the oil would be gone in 10 … Look at the “literature” of the 1950s onward, the best sellers have all been “apolcalypse” stories, it sells copy and grabs “research” funds.

  20. Political Junkie

    The peculiar thing about today’s “environmental” movement’s love affair with predictors of gloom and doom is that the pure apocalyptic message is what’s popular and accuracy of the predictions is apparently irrelevant.

    Paul Ehrich continues to be honoured by these “environmentalists.” The readily demonstrable fact that he’s been oh so very wrong on more things than most other humans beings did not enter into the calculus of the Royal Society which has just honored him with a Fellowship.

  21. Apocalyptic narrative may produce a short surge but in the long run it promotes apathy and rightly so. It is just an extreme example of common fears being distorted, like the danger of flying compared to the danger of driving. The point about it distracting from the real and present issues is good.

  22. Seems to be the new motto. No more exaggerations – not mentioning outright lies. But don’t we have some sort of a problem here? I mean, from a “warmist” perspective there seem to be two strategies. Or you exaggerate, or you try to be “reasonable”. But in the later case someone may ask: Why not wait something like a decade, and try to see where temperatures point to, and how are models doing? +6ºC (super alarmists)?+3,5º (IPCC)? +1ºC (sceptics)? Or no warming at all (super sceptics)?

    I see some difficulties when “warmists” try to address such question (without exaggeration). It may be the case they have a pet policy, more or less independent from the reason. And without exaggeration, the lack of reason comes into the open. No wonder “the consensus” prefers exaggeration.

  23. “It doesn’t take a brilliant scientist to figure out why liberals uncritically believe the worst-case scenarios about global warming. They passionately wanted to cut back on land use, carbon fuels, oil drilling and other industrial activities long before global warming was a glint in Al Gore’s eye. Believing that restrictive controls on pollution, even those that would have devastating economic consequences, are essential to the survival of the earth, environmentalists regard global warming predictions as a powerful tool of advocacy. They have little motivation to be rigorous in examining the methodology of projections and the soundness of the science. The scientific predictions, right or wrong, are just a means to a desired end, and the more apocalyptic, the more persuasive they are. The logic is that when the consequences of global warming are so disastrous, even moderate risk is unacceptable. Do we want to bet against even a one in a hundred chance, when the consequences of that 1% chance occurring are so dire?

    “But it is a false choice. Nobody knows for certain whether there is a 1% chance of climate change catastrophe, a .01% chance, or a .00001 % chance. It may even be a 100% chance: today’s news included notice that a significant number of scientists believe that carbon emissions need to be reduced to zero within a decade, or there will be Atlantic beach front property in Missouri. Is it possible to accomplish that? It is highly unlikely, which means that the prudent course might be to develop a completely different approach….like resettling on Mars.” ~Jack Marshall (2008)

  24. A dolose is a concrete ‘jack’ used to defend coastlines from erosion, requiring roughly 10,000 dolosse for a kilometre of coastline.

    This is how they work.

    Call each one $3,000 including transport and you can save each 3 km atoll for $90 million. For some perspective; annual U.S. chewing gum sales, $2 billion. Total value of the entire Chewing Gum Industry, $19 billion.

  25. Atolls might be sympathetic actors in the political world, but in a scientific, particularly geologic, context it is a losing argument. Humans only rent atolls from nature. The ocean life created the atolls through build up of reefs. The ocean will someday demand them back for further growth.

    Atolls are the dead, non-growing peaks of undersea volcanic mountains, maintained by coral growth on their flanks in the photic zone. They are constantly eroded by wave and rain, and human construction. They can grow only when underwater or during volcanic eruption.

    In a minority of cases the atolls can grow by crustal flexure bulge, where the SIMA crust is bent downward at a trench and rises slightly through bending stresses. But this effect is counteracted by the natural tendency of oceanic floors to gradually sink as the crust ages. The older the oceanic crust, the thinker it becomes heavier requiring a deeper water depth to remain in isostatic equilibrium.

    Heck, even most of Florida is only borrowed from the Ocean.

    It is nothing short of hubris to really believe humans can keep the oceans from reclaiming what is naturally theirs. King Canute reportedly had more sense.

  26. John from CA

    “The real peril of apocalyptism associated with global warming is distracting local governments from dealing with their actual problems.”

    Not in the USA Dr. Curry, the “real peril” is associated with a debate that distracts citizens from seeing local governments inability to deal with actual problems in an insightful way.

    The best way to deal with this real issue is to replace them.

    • John from CA

      The medium is no longer the message and reach and frequency no longer works. The internet has redefined perception of messaging and has the ability to deconstruct crafted broadcast in minutes.

      Its a good thing and needs to be properly focused on the UN and climate science propaganda mess.

  27. Ceteris non paribus, you are absolutely correct that humanity owes a huge debt of appreciation and thanks, both to scientist Frank Sherwodd Rowland and to President Ronald Reagan, whose administration orchestrated passage of the Montreal Protocol:


    To the Senate of the United States:

    I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, done at Montreal on September 16, 1987. In this historic agreement, the international community undertakes cooperative measures to protect a vital global resource.

    I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the Protocol and give its advice and consent to ratification.

    Ronald Reagan
    The White House
    December 21, 1987

    Thus was apocalypse responsibly averted, by the foresighted scientific insights of Sherry Rowland, that were wisely appreciated and soberly acted-upon by the foresighted and courageous conservative leadership of Ronald Reagan! :)

    You are correct too, that it is is striking how many prominent AGW-climate skeptics/organizations have track records too of ozone-depletion skepticism and smoking-cancer skepticism. As was posted earlier:

    Patterns of tobacco industry opposition to scientific research showing that smoking causes cancer, are being repeated by patterns of carbon-energy industry opposition to scientific research showing that CO2 causes climate change.

    Michael Larkin posted that these associations “make me want to vomit”. Me too, Michael … particularly when I compare willfully ignorant ideology-first skeptics (equally of the Righteous Right and the Righteous Left) to Ronald Reagan’s outstandingly positive example of foresighted conservative leadership.

    Yes, there are *plenty* of conservative-minded folks nowadays, who feel disgust regarding conscience-free ideologies that flagrantly violate Wendell Berry’s Golden Rule: “Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you” … and thereby unilaterally and immorally expose us all — generations both present and future, born and not-yet-born — to the risks of climate change.

    • There are also liberal-minded folks nowadays, who feel disgust regarding conscience-free ideologies like the AGW dogmatism. The damage to both liberalism and science will be enormous. Not to mention the environment.

    • Hmmm … upon a closer reading of Michael Larkin’s “you make me want to vomit” post, it may possibly be the case that his disgust is directed not toward corporate-sponsored “astro-turfed” skepticism, but rather toward market-interfering scientists like Franklin Sherwood Rowland and foresighted presidents like Ronald Wilson Reagan … oh yeah … and me too.   :)   :)   :)

      Either way, surely there is no shortage of animus nowadays. That is why I admire the mature temperament, and the impeccable manners, of Franklin Sherwood Rowland and Ronald Wilson Reagan, as much as I admire their foresighted science and courageous leadership.

      • AGW propaganda is corporate-sponsored.

      • Michael Larkin

        My disgust was directed only at your verbal diarrhoea, my darling Joyless. I’m a Brit and American politics bores me to death. Actually, the same is pretty much true of British politics, with or without so-called scientific overtones.

        I care only about the truth, whatever that actually might be. Truth and politics are most often mutually exclusive. People who spout bile about honest scientists like Svensmark aren’t concerned about truth; and, behave immaturely to boot. Methinks thou dost protest too much.

      • Specifically for your enjoyment, Michael, I have posted a cheerful apocalypse-averted future history, in which at least *some* future American presidents are considerably more sensible — and prettier too — than most presidents that we have had to date.  :)

    • Joy Black,
      You can bloviate all you want, but it will not make your apocalypse any less delusional.

  28. John from CA

    “ozone-depletion skepticism and smoking-cancer skepticism”

    Seriously Joy, I hope you’re being sarcastic. There’s a huge distinction between fiction and fact. If history is the teacher, we’re already aware.

    Climate change is a distraction from the true cause which is already known.

  29. The ‘nullist-view’

    Repeated in-lab experiment has confirmed CO2 as a GHG. Thus doubling it in the atmoshpere will produce it’s expected forcing. Maybe the skydragons are correct with their complicated vertical atmosphere, but that remains an unproven alternative hypothesis.

    GCM’s replicate processes that could generate long-term feedback from long-term forcings. These are not in-lab experiments, but simulations. Forecasting/Evaluation can give some evidence to accept/reject but require multi-decadal experience to develop. And based off of current evidence, we do ‘fail to reject’ the null of basic forcing + noise.

    • “The fallibility of methods is a valuable reminder of the importance of skepticism in science. Scientific knowledge and scientific methods, whether old or new, must be continually scrutinized for possible errors… Organized and searching skepticism as well as an openness to new ideas are essential to guard against the intrusion of dogma or collective bias into scientific results.” (US National Academy of Sciences)

  30. ‘The exact origins of a space cadet are unknown but rumor has it that their home planet was destroyed due to pollution caused by poor house keeping. Following this disaster they proceeded to disperse themselves throughout the universe and litter the gene pool. Space cadets are known for their poor skills in common sense areas such as coooking.’ –

    A core characteristic of space cadets is the ability to blithely ignore external realities. Thus they continue blindly along a path until it becomes untenable and then lash out with other directed violence or Kool-Aid or both. If there is one thing we understand about apocalyptic cults it is that they are ultimately dangerous to themselves or others when the prophecies fail to materialise. Say if the world doesn’t warm for a decade or three because of natural variability or divine intervention – whatever.

    In fact let’s call it divine mercy – that will really p_ss them off and I am a bit p_ssed off at their obstinance. They have one solution – taxes or caps. Certainly this could work. Either legislate for zero carbon emissions or make the cost high enough for substitutes. to be feasible. Magical thinking emerges from imagining that any politician anywhere will do this and survive politically – or indeed physically in many instances. Even in juridictions that find it short term politically expedient to start down this track – it is more smoke and mirrors than otherwise. Especially in a world that is cooling by God’s mercy.

    In fact there are alternative approaches possible – – denounced in no uncertain terms by such as Romm.

    ‘The Road to Ruin: Extremist ‘Climate Pragmatism’ Report Pushes Right-Wing Myths and a Failed Strategy’

    ‘It is more like saying we must not talk about the iceberg looming in the distance – since that makes some of the more conservative folks on the ship uncomfortable — and we can’t slow down the ship or change course, so we should invest in developing a new ship, but really there’s no hurry because … well, we know how that movie turned out.’

    ‘A typical recent science-based analysis, the Australian Climate Commission, titled their report, “The Critical Decade.” They concluded we must act now or “the global climate may be so irreversibly altered we will struggle to maintain our present way of life.”’

    ‘Note the clever and misleading use of the word “certainty.” Scientists know with an extremely high probability that failing to get off of our current emissions path quickly risks multiple catastrophes. The people who want to delay action always hide behind the fact that we can’t know with 100% future what will happen if we listen to them. Most major scientific reports explain that not only isn’t uncertaint (sic) an argument for inaction, it is actually a greater argument for action. The authors know that but they don’t care.’

    etc etc

    One odd thing is that these authors say the same thing about uncertainty. That addressing black carbon and ozone emissions, economic development, health, education, farming productivity and ecosystem protection are things worthwhile in their own right and address greenhouse gas emissions.

    There is on the other hand no pragmatic solution to space cadets.

    • When does the ‘debate strategy’ of the global warming alarmists cease to work? When they lose popular support. Their support has been steadily falling to the point they’re pretty much out of the game. Pretense to authority and their petty liberal fascism seems to be about all they have left.

      Facts are facts. The sun was very active throughout the 20th century and, nominally, this has lead to global warming. It’s happened before. Now the sun is anomalously quiet. And, it has been quiet for a while now. It is not surprising to many scientists that the combined satellite and radiosonde temperature data now indicate that there has been a cooling trend for years corresponding with this observed nominal change in solar activity.

    • CH, you are going to die, this is a fact. The chances are that before you die you will suffer one of a range of nasty geriatric disease; Alzheimer’s, dementia, atrial thrombosis and congestive heart failure. Now each of these disease states is going to affect about 50 million Americans in the next 30 years. Each gets less research funding than ‘climate science’. Curing them would pay for itself in associated healthcare costs.
      That is the ice-burg on the horizon.

      • Doc,

        I take fish oil, multi-vitamins and minerals, low dose aspirin (alzheimers, stroke and heart attack), liquorice root extract (triglycerides and blood sugar) and cinnamon (memory, cognition, blood sugar regulation) with my breakfast oats, nuts and fruits. Got any other tips? I mean apart from suggesting that the days of self medicating with drugs and alcohol were much more fun.

        Apart from lifestyle choices there have been a couple of interesting results in recently. Peptide sequences targeting blood supply to fat cells in obese monkeys, aspirin for Alzheimers and a protein to block the progress of multiple schlerosis.

        Talking about drunks – Beth has paraphased those wonderful sentiments from Dylan Thomas.

        Do not go gentle into that good night,
        Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
        Because their words had forked no lightning they
        Do not go gentle into that good night.

        Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
        Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
        And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
        Do not go gentle into that good night.

        Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
        Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        And you, my father, there on the sad height,
        Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
        Do not go gentle into that good night.
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        You always try to beat the odds – but ya gotta die of something.

        But the thinking in pragmatic greenhouse gas solutions involving health is more in terms of the developing world and population.


      • Ah – it is back again.

      • At last some good news. The obese monkeys will be safe. I like monkeys, and the fat one’s look so cuddly!

      • Doc,

        My reply – urbane as it was – has flitted away into the aether. Not sure what could have triggered that. Perhaps it was the Dylan Thomas. Perhaps it was alcohol and drugs. Who can tell with American sensitivities.

        Curing disease instead of buying supercomputers to run climate models? You must be one of those deniers I’ve heard so much about.


      • Doc,

        Generally speaking I am of the opinion that in the US we spend far too much money on the old and not enough on the young. I’m not against medical research on the issues you identified, but if I had to choose between free education through college or technical school for every American and health care for the elderly.

      • Damn.

        To finish my sentence – I’d go with education. I’m not planning on SS or either of the Medi programs and my money has been paid into them for decades. People are responsible for their on lives and if they want to spend rrather than save and invest, well I have no problem seeing them dying on the sidewalk when they get old.

      • “we spend far too much money on the old and not enough on the young”
        You think the societal cost of someone with Alzheimer’s is less than one without? Why not go the whole hog and stop funding dialysis and AIDS clinics, you would save a fortune.

      • When did I mention Alzheimers? Or any specific illness or disease?

        My point is the US spends far more capital on those in the last years of their lives than they do on those just starting out. Sort of like investing your money into failing companies rather than into startups.

        And when you think about it, shouldn’t the responsible person, knowing that at some point they will either not want to work any longer or be unable to work, plan ahead by putting away money? I realize not everyone is in a position to do so, but I also am not advocating we spend zero money on SS and health care programs.

        PS – interesting to see the House just passed a bill taimed at preventing an increase in student loan interest rates from increasing dramatically by pulling funding out of the Health Care bill.

      • “free education through college”

        IMO there are already way too many people in college. Fix K-12 and let’s provide quick cerrtificate degrees for remunerative careers. But free and open access to college is IMO exactly ass-backwards. Eighty percent of my students–both at the big public university in my past, and now at an small elite private one–have no good reason to be in college. We should be fixing education earlier, not providing an endlessly prolonged summer camp adolescence for all. Sorry to be harsh.

      • It was a short comment. Therefore I didn’t go into things like qualifications for getting into college, though I did include technical schools – to convey the idea that a traditional 4 year college program is not well suited for everyone.

  31. …with real trends like global warming.

    Global warming has not been real for 14 years!

    The monthly average has dropped from its maximum of 0.74 deg C 14 years ago to only about 0.23 deg C now, a drop of 0.51 deg C as shown =>

    • Your precious Hadcrut3 in obsolete and has been replace by a newer and better data set which has greater coverage. (means it is closer to a global metric)

      Which invalidates your argument

      • Bob, Tough to know if it invalidates the argument or is a case of the changing of the data to fit the theory. Hard to measure one temperature for the whole planet, both at night in artic and in the day plus the wide Pacific ocean. So changing the data set used can look a lot like changing the rules in mid game when the data did not show warming for 15 years. Oh surprise, new data that does show warming shows up. Urban heat islands were subject to controversy over land data sets till someone took pictures of the things (meteological stations), then scientists said, “oh, the data is biased. Lets adjust.” This is just all so mixed right now that we should be cautious. Do you have something discussing the reasons for the Hadcrut4 data?

      • I said Hadcrut4 is better because it has more coverage, and you think changing the data set is somehow fraudulent?

        The Hadcrut3 data was missing large areas of the globe, particularly in the arctic areas as well as large areas of Africa for instance.

        Science moves on.

      • ‘Science moves on.’

        In science one tends not to continually tinker with raw data until one gets the slope one wants.
        The only thing anyone who has looked at the temperature data over the last 20 years knows for sure is that the past gets colder after every iteration.
        In another decade or so we will be shocked that glaciers didn’t form in the Mid-West during the 30’s dust bowl.
        I do science, I am a scientist. Taking data points and endlessly adjusting them based on some ‘magic’ formula’s is not science; its witch craft.
        Unless one can have internal and external controls for your analysis, it is at best a guesstimate and at worst fraud. What it is not is science. Science is the methodology where one tests a hypothesis to destruction; ‘climate science’ is an attempt to show that every weather related recording in the present is greater or smaller than in the past.

      • Bob,

        I get a bit bored with graphology. But for arguments sake – why would this change anything fundamental? We have 1998 and 2010 statistically indistinguisable but no warming.

        Some people will argue that the oceans warmed. It was moderate in the ARGO period and happened in the SW because of clouds from CERES data.

        We are in a cool Pacific decadal mode – a cool PDO and more frequent and intense La Nina. The last time we were in a cool mode was 1945 to 1976. I know the sulphate argument – but it is a pretty uncertain result. The net IPCC forcing was still all positive.

        We know a little about these things. They tend to start and finish with extremes. The 1976/77 “Great Pacific Climate Shift” and the 1998 El Nino for instance. Cloud cover is anti-correlated to sea surface temperature influencing the global energy budget. They tend to last 20 to 40 years.

        Great certainty is unwarranted – especially as it concerns the next decade or three.


      • Actually, I agree that great certainty in unwarranted, but you do make a couple of interesting points.

        Cloud cover is ant-correlated to sea surface temperature?

        Are you sure?

        You know what follows directly from that don’t you? Which will put you squarely in the wrong camp, if you know what I mean. Not that I am pegging you, but you are on the fence, right?

        The point I am making is that there are 8 metrics of temperature that I am looking at the trends since 1998, which means I am cherry picking, and only two of them show a negative trend, Hadcrut3 at -0.005 C/decade and RSS at -0.041 C/decade, and only 2 of them exclude the often misquoted IPCC 0.2 C/decade trend at 2 sigma or 95%, those two being Hadcrut3 at 0.150 and NOAA at 0.192, which both round to 0.2 anyway.

      • All of the relevant literature suggests that an anti-correlation of SST with cloud cover exists.

        The world is cooling for a decade or three more because we are in a cool Pacific decadal mode. I really don’t know anything beyond that as climate is non-linear.

        Graphology without mechanism is not reliable.

      • bob

        Even hadcrut4 shows only 0.08 deg C per decade warming, not IPCC’s 0.2 deg C per decade warming.

        Why do IPCC’s models exaggerate observed warming by 250%?

        #File: hadcrut4_monthly_ns_avg.txt
        #Time series (hadcrut4) from 1850 to 2011
        #Selected data from 1998
        #Selected data up to 0
        #Least squares trend line; slope = 0.00825497 per year
        1998 0.399699
        2011 0.507014
        #Data ends
        #Number of samples: 2
        #Mean: 0.453357

      • Another sceptic wants to misquote the IPCC. The IPCC never said 0.2 C per decade warming.

        Going with Girma’s 14 years and Hadcrut4, I get 0.083 +/- 0.172 C/decade, using this,

        or a range from -0.089 to 0.255 C/decade, which includes the misquoted IPCC 0.2 C/decade.

      • Bob,

        I think you need to be clearer about precisely what you mean by ‘The IPCC never said 0.2 C per decade warming.’ People going to look at the IPCC document might be a bit confused when they do, in fact, see ‘0.2ºC/ decade’ mentioned in the SPM.

      • Right you are Paul S, but you realize that you are cutting off an important word that is in front of the 0.2 C/decade that quite changes the meaning of the quote.

        It is quoting out of contex.

      • Well I understand what you mean, which is why I’m making the suggestion. Someone less familiar with the arguments might think you’re pulling the wool over their eyes if you don’t specify exactly what you mean by ‘The IPCC didn’t say that’.

      • Paul S,

        I would agree with you if I was aiming at enlightening those not familiar with the IPCC, but I’m not, I am aiming at those who damn well know what the IPCC is saying and are deliberately misrepresenting what the IPCC is saying and should know better.

        This is what the IPCC actually said in 2007.

        “For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected. {10.3, 10.7} ”

        Anyone who thinks they can falsify that statement at this point in time is on seriously shaky ground.

    • Girma,
      One clarification: If by “global warming”, one refers to the general claims by the AGW community, then “global warming” has never been real. It has always been a social construct, dogma in other words.

  32. gregschiller

    “Mark Lynas summarizes: I couldn’t agree more. If island nations are making themselves more vulnerable to the slow process of sea-level rise by mining sand, destroying reefs and so on, they need to know about it – and not be encouraged to blame it all on outsiders causing climate change.”

    I see the same confusion taking place in Alaska. The NYT wrote a very bad piece about Newtok AK several years ago. Their reporter attributed the devastation caused by poor siting and inappropriate construction methods to climate change. Sorry but you cannot use the same techniques to build on permafrost as you use in New Jersey.

    At least with the press (like The NYT), many climate change articles are what I call “Weeping Madonna” stories, reminiscent of reports where some statue is said to be weeping blood. True believers desperately need to find manifestations of their faith.

    I suppose it is all good fun – but if faith inhibits people from taking proper action, like elevating buildings above the permafrost – then the faith, not climate change becomes the hazard.

  33. Why worry about the Apocalypse? The greens in the Obama administration want to take us back to the grand old days of Roman crucifixion.

  34. The happy apocalypse-averted story of (scientist) Sherry Rowland and (president) Ronald Reagan illustrates several common-sense lessons of history:

    • scientists very often are correct in their predictions,
    • courageous, foresighted politicians come from both parties,
    • you never know who’s going to be President someday, and
    • the global economy adapts robustly to apocalyptic challenges.

    With the above principles in-mind, perhaps America’s future is *NOT* apocalyptic … and might even be kind fun!


    2017 Sea-level rise-rate accelerates to 5 mm/year

    James Hansen and Michael Mann renew calls for urgent action.

    2022 Sea-level rise-rate accelerates to 9 mm/year

    James Hansen, Michael Mann, and President Jon Huntsman embrace legislation to assure US carbon neutrality.

    2030 Sea-level rise-rate accelerates to 20 mm/year

    President Chelsea Clinton congratulates Hansen, Mann, and Huntsman on their Nobel Peace Prize.

    2038 Sea-level rise-rate stabilizes at 20 mm/year

    President Megan McCain announces US energy independence, carbon neutrality, and positive balance-of-trade all three have been achieved, saying “The ocean’s rise has stopped, and now that we’re not exporting dollars and importing oil, the rise in American family income has resumed (dang, we should’ve done this sooner).”

    2100 Sea-level rise slowly drops to 10 mm/year

    President Mitt Romney (IIIrd) tours the 3-meter dikes that protect Washington DC, watches the dolphins at play, and proclaims “We won’t have to build these dikes any higher!”

    2150 Sea-level rise halts.

    President Wendell Berry (the fifth) announces “OK, the crisis is over … now everybody, get back to work.”


    Is this scenario apocalyptic, or not? Perhaps the Righteous Right and/or the Righteous Left might think so … but heck, those folks never *DID* have much of a sense of humor! :)

    • 2017 Due to projected sea level rise, James Hansen tries canoeing to work and finds it is very difficult with no water. Bottom of canoe and paddles are severly damaged by pavement. He shouts “Denier!” as drivers pass him. Angry motorists honk and give him the finger.

      • “Angry motorists honk and give him the finger.”

        At least, this scenario respects known facts about NYC residents. :)

    • Joy,
      As I pointed out before, you are basically confusing science fiction and science.
      Thanks for the outline of a soon-to-be-produced offering of Hollywood garbage dressed up as a movie.

  35. Fergit the doomsayers of the Apocolypse, Malthus, Erlich, Mann et Al ,
    let’s celebrate the human spirit:

    In just
    spring when the world is mud-
    luscious the little
    lame balloon man

    whistles far and wee

    and eddieandbill come
    running from marbles and
    piracies and it’s

    when the world is puddle-wonderful

    the queer
    old balloonman whistles
    far and wee
    and bettyandisbel come dancing

    from hopscotch and jump rope and

    balloonman whistles

    H/t E.E. Cummings

  36. 2012 – Joy exemplifies the unintended ironies of the imaginary timeline.

    2030 – temperature falls off a cliff in the NH -

    2040 – followed by the SH

    2050 – sea level drops 50m – Atlantis found on what was the bottom of Chesapeake Bay. Last sighting of James Hansen as he wanders into the Nevada desert in white robes sporting a long, white beard.

    2080 – Minnesota under 200m of ice. Last known blog from Bart R who has survived – ironically – as a brain in a vat. “Brrrrrr…the Chief was right”.

    2100 – summer Olympics cancelled due to permanent lack of summer – Pope Joy calls on prayer of the faithful to bring back the good old days.

  37. • 2017 Sea-level rise-rate is still at 3 mm/yr as measured by satellites, lower as measured by tide gauges.

    James Hansen adjusts the data to show 6 mm/yr. Michael Mann shows that by computing the 30th principal component, we all drowned years ago.

    • 2022 Sea-level rise-rate is still at 3 mm/yr as measured by satellites, lower as measured by tide gauges

    Kevin Trenbleth says the rise is still in the pipeline. Eric Steig says the tide gauge readers need to learn Matlab. President Rand Paul asks Attorney General Ross Perot Jr. to investigate. Perot sues AAAS for billions of dollars in damages for lost economic growth due to past “pro-climate” policies based on AAAS lobbying.

    • 2030 Sea-level rise-rate is still at 3 mm/yr as measured by satellites, lower as measured by tide gauges.

    William Connelley Jr. publishes a paper insisting it was only “the Media” that claimed sea level rise was accelerating.

    • 2040 Sea-level rise-rate is still at 3 mm/yr as measured by satellites, lower as measured by tide gauges.

    Senate Majority Leader Al Gore III., returning to the family’s roots and now a pro-tobacco conservative says “Climate change?!? What’s that? Now where’s my lockbox? I had my cigars in it”.

    • John M, that is a great post, thank you sir. Belly laughs x 10e17

    • John M, what I especially like about your future history … and about all the future histories that have been posted … is that it is data-driven, not ideology-driven or politics-driven.

      Mother Nature is showing us, via the rising level of the oceans, a readily-observed integrative measure of how fast our planet is accumulating excess heat.

      If that rise-rate accelerates, then yes we have to undertake serious measures to forestall CAGW. Otherwise, not so much.

      Right now, no-one can say for sure, which of these two outcomes is more likely. But what we *CAN* say for sure, is that we can face *EITHER* outcome with courage, grace, ingenuity, and enterprise.

      Because regardless of what challenges Mother Nature provides, apocalypse can *ONLY* result if we fall short in courage, grace, ingenuity, and enterprise.

      And *THAT* is the core message of the future scenario that I personally regard as scientifically by far the most likely, namely, the hugely fun & hugely optimistic & hugely creative future of Meghan for President!   :smile:   :grin:   :lol:

      • You claim that man-transformed CO2 is causing the sea level rise? Prove it.

      • Joy

        So do you agree with James Hansen about sea level rise to 2100?

      • Joy,
        *Your* scenarios are fictional. They are driven by disproven claims about slr. It is a nice bit of pathology that has you pretending that those who point this out about the science fiction you are trotting out are the ones who are engaged in ideological activities.

    • 3mm/yr is actually consistent, at the lower end, with expected decadal rates at the end of the century, according to the IPCC:

      At the higher end of projections persistent decadal rates of 3mm/yr aren’t expected until about 2025.

  38. TOMFOP, yes it should. :[)

  39. I think the author has his example completely ass about face (the author of the book not our host).

    I have always thought the Reformation to be a perfect example of what we are facing, but my take on it is the exact opposite to the argument in the book.

    If you look at the situation in terms of Climate science claiming an authority and surety very similar to that which the Catholic Church of the day did, with doctrines of infallibility of dogma and transubstantiation of all data into a warming trend.

    Heck, the similarity between Carbon credits and the sale of indulgences is worth a study of its own.

    Likewise the behaviour of Clerics- preaching doctrines of sacrifice and rule following that was often not practised by themselves, reminds me of the message coming from many Green activists and their Hollywood cheer leaders who’s jet-setting lifestyles make a mockery of the self restraint they would impose on others.

    Rather than apocalyptic thinking, the thrust of the Reformation was freedom from following rules blindly (and the fear of breaking those rules), freedom from accepting arguments of authority and the freedom to study, whether it be scripture or science.

    I rather like to think of the likes of Dr. Curry and others that question blind consensus as performing a role rather like that of Luther publishing his 95 theses (or nailing them to the door if the legend is correct).

    I agree with Dr. Curry in that the danger of apocalyptic thinking is that it tends to drown out real problems and steal energy, resources and time that could be better used elsewhere.

    • Peter,

    • It’s not what the Reformation actually represented but how it impacted on different sections of society. Two versions of Christianity led many to believe that one version represented the Anti-Christ, Satan on earth, you can’t get much more apocalyptic than that.

      • Granted there was a shakedown period- the truly apocalyptic part was relatively short lived (mainly whilst Luther was in hiding), but after that things settled down, much as they had after the Catholic/Orthodox split.

        In spite of some claiming the other side represented the Anti-Christ, it was not truly apocalyptic mentality because it was not looked at as a doomsday scenario- which is what the thrust of the article was about.

        The real impact of the reformation can be measured in the explosion of art and science and freedom of thought and religion that it spawned.

  40. We lived under the threat of extirmination due to global thermonuclear war since before I was born and since before our political leaders were born. We were raised in expectant fear of that particular apocalypse.

    If we think people are overly susceptible to apocalyptic thought these days, perhaps we might blame the cold war rather than twitter and facebook.

    • I was tempted to write a reply denying your assertions about our leaders and thermonuclear war, but then I realized that I was old. That threat didn’t arise until my teen years. Back then we didn’t worry about man’s ability to destroy the world in various ways. We could avoid, for the most part, the holy rollers and their vision of the end of the world. I think it made us better neighbors because we didn’t have to band together to save the world. Consequently, we didn’t try so hard to browbeat others. And others pretty much left us alone. In that respect it was a better society.

      I feel sorry for those of you who feel so strongly that man will produce a warming catastrophe. You are wrong, but even if you were right, there are so many people with more important issues — a person worried about starving next week isn’t interested in your issue. Politics will play such a role and engineering and cost that the science can only drive the politics so far. Then the starving will take over to demand their problems be solved.

      That will be soon if the alarmist don’t improve their game. People are in the mood to solve problems and the global warming problem to me is that alarmists are blocking economic activity over a trivial temperature rise that you can experience in driving from Memphis to New Orleans.

  41. “They live in Moab, Utah.”

    Seriously, Moab? That center of intellectual ferment? I suppose Gross and Gilles enjoy Xtreme mountain biking and rafting through Desolation Canyon between their dalliance with deep and penetrating writing…

    They think the chances of a worldwide epidemic of say Z10Q7 influenza is a bogus risk, whereas AGW is a monstrous certainty? I would like to introduce them to some guys in Atlanta and Houston and Boston who work for the CDC. They think otherwise. Maybe these guys “Do the Dew” a little too much between their attempts at writing something sensible and balanced. I have heard that too much mountain biking causes repeated concussions, which can seriously undermine your reasoning abilities.

    Puh-leeeze. Dr. Curry it must be a slow news week.

    • Sorry for my jeering tone, but there’s a heavy dose of jeering at everyone else’s pet apocalypse in that Gross and Gilles article. As my mom used to say, ugly is as ugly does.

    • It;s CDC’s job to have us worrying about infectious diseases.

      And it’s true we’ll all be killed by something one day.

      • “And it’s true we’ll all be killed by something one day.”

        Yes, I have it on very good authority that the mortality rate from all causes is unity, with a standard deviation of zero. :)

      • Actually, it exceeds unity.

  42. Cinnamon for memory…mmm. Must remember to buy some….

  43. Historically apocalyptic thinking has come out of a sense of oppression or loss. It appeals to the downtrodden or those who are seeing their power fade because it has a sense of ultimate vengeance and natural justice that looks impossible through their own action. In classical times it was a strong narrative in Judaism during the time when they were being slaughtered by the Greeks. Equally Christianity embraced it during the persecution by the Roman Empire, once Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire apocalyptic thinking was discouraged by the now establishment christian leadership. More recently it has been embraced by conservative during the Enlightenment and after the earth shattering French Revolution. And now by the Left as it retreats from it’s many 20thC adventures. It’s an intellectual cul-de-sac, but that doesn’t mean it can’t take us all down with it while it remains mainstream. It should be resisted with a little bit of humanism.

    I’m curious whether people think the present apocalypse is different because it’s backed -up by satellite observations and the laws of physics? I can’t see it myself.

  44. Further to Apocalypse doomsayers:
    For relief of anxiety: Four-leaf Clover Soup.
    Three cups of four-leaf clover, wishbone of one chicken, copious water, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil and simmer one hour.

    Tastes insipid but potent effects.

  45. We humans live the longest ever as shown in the following graph

    But some peoples’ thought is apocalyptic. That cannot be helped, what we can do is show the reality that we are healthier, wealthier and live longer than ever before as shown in the above graph. We must resist the apocalyptic zeitgeist taking hold.

    • Hey Girma – Add Australia. We just pulled ahead of Canada. Aussie Aussie Aussie – Oi Oi Oi.

      • Robert I Ellison | April 27, 2012 at 4:57 am |

        Behind Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong..

        It’s the Resource Curse. Dump your coal, and you could be a contender. ;)

        While the longevity curve is interesting, one notes the rise isn’t universal or uniform. Dozens of countries show either deep dips in population at some point on the graph, or net decrease. The discrepancy between longest lifespan and shortest is dramatic.

        Why is the wealthy and powerful USA not even close to a contender for first place?

        Why are places like the Ukraine and South Africa that made substantial improvements in democracy among the basket cases.

        If you want to be mistaken for an apocalyptic by cynics and shallowminded quipsters, talk about the suffering and disparity and ask what causes could have been avoided.

        And note that, if Japan continues to make the Ukraine’s mistakes, then they will suffer the Ukraine’s reverses.

        Also, some expect that this generation is the last one in North America to experience lifespan so long as it is; in thirty years many anticipate the habits of today’s children will lead them to shorter lifespan.

        If all you care about is popularity, then focus on the improvements and ignore the suffering. Nothing makes one popular like a whited sepulchre.

  46. Girma, tell them to drink some of my soup )

  47. And for influenza I recommend lentil soup. 2 cups lentils, 1 whole head of aged garlic, 1 onion finely chopped, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, lots of cracked pepper and some shaved parmesan to finish. Lentils are 20% amylose – but then space cadets can’t cook anyway.

    • Chief, in days gone by I used to visit Korea on business, and was always struck, metaphorically and literally, by the stupefying quantties of garlic present in the Korean diet. They don’t wait for the flu to eat a head of garlic a day – it’s routine. Other Asian cuisines include garlic, but in nothing like the same quantities.

      When the SARS scare was on the wane, I thought it might be interesting to look at the demographics. As far as I could see, this epidemic almost completely passed Korea by – from memory they had 3 cases – all transients, while all contiguous countries had heaps. Wish I could lay my hands on the link.

      My own GP some years ago described garlic as “the only known viricide”.

    • What is it with all you foreigners attacking our space cadre?

      I can understand the UK press, I suppose. They’ll write anything, it seems, to foment scandal or insult, belittle and demean by ad hom, slur, personal insult and invective.

      But Australians? After America has been so good to them? A fellow former colony of transported criminals, political malcontents and rebels throwing off the yoke of oppre.. Oh. Wait. That last one wasn’t you.

      Look, these 49 guys (more if you count the ones who wanted to be on their list but got dropped to avoid embarrassing the 49, apparently) may be mistaken. But they’re still American heroes. Abusing them as space cadets who can’t cook is simply irrelevant axe-grinding. Perhaps you can’t handle decent Texas chili, .. but that’s hardly their fault, now is it?

      • Bart, I have just listed a nice 5 bedroom, 3 bath, Tudor home for sale on the planet of your dreams, with the ocean view: for only $25.00…

        & it is only 22-Light-Years, away.
        I ask you,who are the ‘space cadets’ now?

      • The you tube was very funny. Did you link it by accident? I love Texas and Texans and – indeed – psychoactive strength chilli. But it is typical space cadet behaviour. As is confusing the common understanding of the term space cadet with NASA.

        ‘A person who leads people to believe they are from a different planet or dreaming of ancestry in other areas of the universe. The person does not respond when directly spoken to, performs odd food rituals and displays complete disregard for commonsense. A space cadet is not necessarily referring to a person of low intelligence or a heavy drug user, but rather a person who typically focuses on all aspects of life except the one currently at hand.’

  48. I’ll try the lentil soup if you’ll sample the four-leaf clover and tell me what you think, lol.

  49. First catch your four leaf clover?

  50. On her knees
    She peers into an other world
    Where hurrrying ants follow
    Scented trails, and mantids
    Lurk in thickets
    Like ancient beasts.

    She has learned that,
    In these forests,
    Like Darwin’s archipalago
    Where species are distinct,
    The banded and the spotted
    Clover do not mix.

    Knees reddened on hard ground,
    Fingers separating lolling plants,
    She finds a patch
    Of four leaf clover
    Yielding the mutant talisman.

    Ah, she finds another four leaf clover,
    Then two more, these
    Will protect her family from
    Chaotic forces that prevail
    Beyond the ordered world of plants.

  51. ” … we must look beyond the industry-funded movement to deny the reality and effects of climate change.”

    Oh dear, another one of those oh so reasonable and erudite studies showing why us poor climate realists are deluded. They always give themselves away in the end.


  52. It’s not complicated:

    • Scientists demonstrated that smoking cigarettes was associated to a substantial risk of lung cancer … in the end, we thanked them and cut-back ads targeting children.

    • Scientists demonstrated that fluorocarbons are associated to a substantial risk of ozone layer destruction … in the end, we thanked them and cut-back flurocarbon emissions.

    • Scientists demonstrated that accumulating toxic pesticides are associated to a substantial risk of harm to human health … in the end, we thanked them and banned “the deadly dozen.”

    • Scientists demonstrated that thermonuclear weapons are associated to an substantial risk of Armageddon (duh!) … in the end, we thanked them and negotiated the START Treaties.

    • Scientists have now demonstrated that CO2 emissions are associated to a substantial risk of CAGW … in the end we’re going to thank them and move to a carbon-neutral global energy economy.


    It’s striking that corporate/political disinformation campaigns have hotly opposed all of these common-sense measures. But in the end, ordinary common sense has prevailed. Fortunately! :)

    Do we really prefer to live in a world of soaring cancer rates, searing ultraviolet radiation, water and food soaked with toxic chemicals, with a constant threat of global thermonuclear war?

    Bottom Line History shows that apocalypse threatens us only when we timidly ignore the science.

    • PS: Earlier in this thread folks have posted multiple competing scenarios that (surprisingly) *ALL* are non-apocalyptic.

      These various alternative futures — which all are strikingly optimistic and even fun! — differ mainly in whether the observed sea-level rise-rate accelerates in the next decade or two, versus not.

      We can be comforted by the fact that multiple independent channels of data are going to settle this issue … not too-simple ideologies, not corporation shills, and not short-sighted politicians!

      Bottom Line: I’m personally looking forward to the non-apocalyptic future presidential administrations of Chelsea Clinton and Meghan McCain!  ;)

    • Well. If you look at pix of the ozone hole, it isn’t all that much smaller.

      • In this case it may have been a small hole but they still gave it a shot, to be fair…


        The EPA is defending its enforcement strategy.

        Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance, said in a statement that “strong, fair and effective enforcement” is “critical to protecting public health” and making sure everyone is playing by the same rules.

        They seem to know, it is good to be a czar.
        Don’t we think?

      • Maybe our next Preident, will start calling them bishops?:o)

    • Your list is a hodge podge of public actions, but there is an ironic historical element to it. The pesticide bans, especially DDT, were the beginning of green extremism. The CFC ban was the high point, leading directly to the attempt to ban CO2. This is when the green movement hit the wall of reality, where it lies today.

  53. Joy

    In my comment above;

    I asked you to tell me how we know whether the ozone hole hasn’t always been there and we only realised its existence when we had the insruments to measure it in the 1950’s? Thanks

  54. Re Mark Steyne: Apocalyptic interpretations of sea rise and coral islands:

    On his historic voyage on the Beagle, Darwin discovered the origins of coral islands in the Pacific, floating on a liquid lens of fresh water above the heavier water of the trhe sea. He discovered that reef coral, which cannot grow at depths greater than 30 fathoms, begin life in the shallows around a volcanic rock island. As sea levels rise, the coral grows upwards while the the island becomes submerged by the sea. All that remains is a ring of reef and corals around a central lagoon. (Voyage of Beagle.Ch xx )

    Willis Eschenberg, ( Floating Islands post, WUWT 27/01/09 ) describes how a coral island exists as a delicate balance between new coral and sand being added to the reef wall and coral and sand being eroded by the action of wind and waves. It’s existence depends on the beaked parrot fish at work on the reef grinding up coral in their massive jaws which they excrete as new sand, replenishing the sand and rubble washed away by water and blown away by wind.

    Spear fishing parrot fish, removing too much fresh water from the lagoon will intterfere with the delicate balance of a fragile coral island. It doesn’t sink because of rising seas. Darwin demonstrated that.

  55. Tony b, this afternoon I read your travels in Europe Part 1, and listened to the harp music. I like the way you start with the lovely old photograph of Teignmouth and harbour, landing place of the last invasion of England, and take us on a fascinating journey from there. The seafaring comings and goings, Islamic slave traders, ‘the harpist’s story, Keat’s visit to Teignmouth, all linked to the weather.The long time line reminds me how variable is climate and how intimate the relationship between human activity and affecting weather. Thx.

    • Hi Beth

      I’m afraid when you read one of my articles you tend to need to get in the sandwiches and coffee and settle down in a comfortable armchair.

      To date, in the article I am currently writing, ‘Historic varations in Arctic ice part 2’ I’ve introduced King Alfred, The Hudson Bay Co, The Titanic and Pytheas (as well as lots of scientfic studies that tie in with them such as Polyak, a renowned arctic researcher who very neatly ties in with a traveller to King Alfred’s court in 890AD with his account of the size of Bowhead whales. Obviously I get paid very large sums of money by Big Oil for each word, hence the length of my articles :)


  56. Paid by the word eh? Better make the bit about the Whale as long as Mellville’s great novel

  57. Judith,

    The only doom is our own stupidity!

    • Joe’s World says: Judith, the only doom is our own stupidity!

      This \times 100!   :smile:   :grin:   :lol:

      Those future scenarios in which the science is addressed responsibly are pretty darn cheerful … even fun … and especially, these scenarios are immensely productive of new enterprises!   :smile:   :grin:   :lol:

      In contrast, those scenarios that are ruled by willful ignorance, or corporate interests, or petty selfishness … now *THOSE* are the scenarios that lead to ruin!   :roll:   :oops:   :cry:

      Fortunately, we have a pretty definitive measure in sea-level rise … if it accelerates in the coming decade or two — as the standard models of AGW predict — this will amount to “checkmate/game over” for factions that embrace willful ignorance, corporate interests, and petty selfishness.

      A world that faces-up to these challenges will be hugely fun, hugely creative, purely enterprising, and exceedingly productive of hope and family-supporting jobs for our children.

      Meghan for President!   :smile:   :grin:   :lol:

  58. This was an excellent and well-balanced post. Apocalyptic thinking does seem to follow trends in technology for distribution among the masses (i.e. printing press or cable television or the internet), and of course there does seem to be a tendency for it to prevent us from taking both political action, and also personal responsibility. This is the price we pay for a free press and free flow of information. Humans have always been fascinated with Apocalypse and so it sells books and gets viewers and even gets people elected to office.

    Though I’m a warmist, in the sense that I do believe that over the long run humans are warming the planet beyond a level it would be otherwise, I certainly have not be apocalyptic about it, and in fact, highly resent the “C” being added when someone says I believe in “C”AGW. I am constantly correcting them that’s it’s just AGW.

    But to the issues that are raised by Mark Lynas about getting an accurate view of the causes of sea level rises and accurately portraying the real risks from and consequences of all human activity, of course the issue really gets down to accepting the fact of, and managing the Anthropocene. It is here that I probably have the biggest disagreements with some skeptics, as they will not fully acknowledge what I consider to be extremely obvious– we are in the Anthopocene. Humans are the #1 cause of the majority of environmental changes on the surface, oceans, and atmosphere on this planet. Global climate change is just one of the consequences of the Anthropocene, and may, in the long run, not even turn out to have the biggest impact. But in a constrast to Apocalyptic thinking, rather than being paralyized by fear and moved to political paralysis, the first thing we need to do is accept responsibility for and acknowlege that we are in the Anthropocene, and then, get on with the business of managing it through a full understanding all of the many ways we are impacting the planet– again, of which, climate change is only one way, and may not be the most important.

    • R Gates

      On another thread you posed three questions about AGW. A number of us replied and are awaiting our prizes. (there were prizes surely?)

      The replies are probably not what you were expecting. Few of us deny we are having an impact on our environment, the degree is very much in question and what can be done about it bearing in mind there are going to be 9 billion people in a few decades, all expecting good standards of living is another question again. As to priorities, why that is yet a further conundrum,
      AGW or not, water medicine and food are all of a higher priority than agw real or imagined as cagw.

      • Tony,

        Sacrificing 150 years of data that does not pertain to our planets overall history is mind numbing in the absurd.
        Pushing the AGW data and consensus scientists would NEVER included any mechanical processes. From pressure differences to velocity differences to size differences on an orb NOT a cylindrical computer planet that the data CANNOT be re-applied to an orb..

      • Tony,

        I appreciate those responses to the 3 questions, and if you ever come to the U.S. and the Denver area I’ll treat to you to a nice dinnner as a prize!

      • R Gates

        Hmmm. I’ve looked at the cost of getting to Denver and it would have to be an EXCEPTIONALLY nice dinner to make it worthwhile :)
        all the best

      • Is that a three-course dinnner?

        sorry… couldn’t resist ;-)

    • R. Gates,
      Sorry, but you are supporting the apocalypse. Your claimed stance is an interesting one and is popular amongst the believers. When confronted with the extremism that is fundamental to the AGW movement (warmists), you claim to not be one of *those* warmists. Yet when have you objected to the clap trap of Hansen, or Romm, or Gore, or etc. etc. etc.? You are like a leftist in the communist era who never objected to Stalin or Mao but pushed the same policies they did while at the same time claiming to be a nice moderate.
      Good luck with that.

      • Hunter,

        Mars found out the hard way what happens when you loose water to space.


  59. Julian Flood

    Interesting that the latest doomsday panic is taking place at the traditional time, when the calendar clicks over to a new millenium.

    The point made above re bad action preventing sensible/good action is spot on. The idea of wasting money on, for instance, CCS is an example which makes me turn red and shouty. Or closing nukes for fear of accident while building lignite and coal fuelled power stations. Lignite! Dirtiest fuel known to man and coal which kills more people per decade than uranium did in fifty years.

    I see the panda on a collecting box now and walk past with a sniff: I wouldn’t widdle on the WWF or FOE if they caught fire in a petrol refinery. Who, then, will take over the jobs they should be doing, fighting deforestation, trying to restore ravaged ecosystems? Who now can save the whale?


    • Julian,
      Those groups you mention are green parasites, and have been for some time. The question you raise is important. We are going to enter the post AGW era soon. Who will be there to actually do work to help the environment? Certainly not greenpeace, wwf, foe, or the other big green parasitic political front groups. They would not know where to start. They exist to shake down people business and government. They do nothing of practical benefit except to their wallets, and those of the political hacks they support.

  60. In my view, some of the peak oilers, or peak fossil fuelers, verge on apocalyptic thinking. Reality doesn’t frequently creep into their thinking in some cases.

    • Jim,

      It is all in how you market people to think. Even though the price keeps rising, you pray they do not reach the PREDICTED estimate costs.
      Massive profit taking and trying to keep the public happy while ruining the economy.

      • Joe – the socialistic watermelons controlling the US government are the culprits who ruined the economy. We here in the US need to vote them out before we completely repeat the story in Europe. Notice since Germany has tossed out nuclear, they are now wanting to burn more brown coal, lignite, the worst type of fuel in the eyes of some.

        To get the price of oil down, we need to drill in more places. There are huge areas in the US that are off limits to drilling. These need to be opened up. I’m not saying there is an infinite supply of fossil fuels, but part of the shortage is due to dumb government. We need to facilitate the approval and production of small nuclear reactors as well as large one. Otherwise, get the government out of energy – no subsidies for any industry other than nuclear.

    • In oil depletion circles, the apocalyptic thinkers are referred to as “doomers”. Given the amount of blogging and writing I have done on the topic, I have never intentionally let any doomer perspective creep in. I can go quite far in the analysis by treating the topic completely objectively.

      Yet the other side of doomerism is unwarranted “cornucopianism”. Sure enough, people do believe in the weirdest things. The usual suspect, Dr. Jerome Corsi, has reappeared on the scene again as the typical hydrocarbon cornucopian. Corsi obviously plays on people’s ignorance with his latest project “The Great Oil Conspiracy: How the U.S. Government Hid the Nazi Discovery of Abiotic Oil from the American People”. By chance, I listened to this master manipulator on a conspiracy theory radio show Coast To Coast AM the other night. His book is about 100 pages long and within that span he is able to link abiotic oil with Nazi scientists who apparently perfected the Fischer-Tropsch process. This fellow actually believes that the F-T process takes place deep underground and that everything is a conspiracy to hide that fact, and also hide the secret Nazi recipe. The agreeable host George Noury ate everything up and said everything made perfect sense..

      From the C2C website: “Host: George NooryGuest: Jerome Corsi – Author Dr. Jerome Corsi discussed how Nazi chemists developed a series of equations during WWII which demonstrated that oil can be formed synthetically. Known as the Fischer-Tropsch equations, they indicated that the mixture of hydrogen and carbon with various catalysts under intense pressure and heat, produced hydrocarbons– such as what is made in the mantle of the Earth on an ongoing basis, he explained. It doesn’t take dead plants or animals, dinosaurs, plankton, algae or former living matter to produce oil, and the Nazis understood this, he continued, adding that some of their scientists were brought over to the US during Operation Paperclip to continue their research after the war. However, documents of their research into Fischer-Tropsch were largely lost or hidden, said Corsi, who suggested that the US government and Big Oil conspired to bury their findings because they didn’t want the public to know that the planet naturally produces oil, abundantly on a deep earth level.. The science of abiotic oil continues to be suppressed and ridiculed, while the “fossil fuel” explanation for oil persists. He pointed out that a fossil is not the animal or plant itself, but the structure of the animal or plant typically filled in by various minerals that have hardened into stone over the ages. Corsi reported that the Russians have long been aware of the Fischer-Tropsch process, and this may be why their country has become one of the top producers of crude oil. He called the U.S the “Saudi Arabia of shale oil,” and has concluded that America could actually become a top producer of oil and natural gas. While the print edition of his new book, The Great Oil Conspiracy, won’t be out until later in the year, it’s currently available as an e-book.”

      The idea with abiotic oil is that this theory states that fossil fuels are not of a biological origin, yet to do the Fischer -Tropsch process, it can allow coal to get transformed into oil. But what is coal but a fossil fuel! That is how ridiculously stupid some of these skeptics are (and the climate change skeptics are really no different).

      Corsi has a PhD in political science so the logical approach is to bury him and others like him in the math. That is all that I do, use science to lay out the facts and see how the projections will play out. So Corsi rants on how much oil is available in the Bakken shale formation. Well I actually take a look at the Bakken wells data and extrapolate at how long they will last by using conventional depletion math and compare that against what the hype is all about.

      I also look at the natural processes surrounding wind energy and the properties of photovoltaics and these same cornucopians are the first to start with endless negativism. As usual, the cornucopians and fake skeptics are the ones that don’t allow reality to creep into their thinking. They project their inadequacies and try to hide the fact that they are advocating the real apocalypse — to imagine everyone live in a fantasy world guided by delusional thinking. The doomers seem almost quaint in comparison, don’t ya think?

      • Web – I am not against wind and solar. I just don’t want the government funding them in any way, with the exception of basic or applied research. I don’t want the government funding or regulating energy, except nuclear due to the military applications and that we don’t want radioactive materials loose. Some regulation is necessary, but we have gone way beyond that amount. Again, I’m not against alternative energy in general. OTOH, I wouldn’t want a 300 foot tall wind mill in my neighborhood with 250 foot diameter blades.

      • Jim2 | April 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |

        So, a coal mine, oil refinery, pipeline, tailings pond, gas station.. which of those do you want in your backyard?

        The US military runs on energy. The more energy dense the fuel (limited by will it ignite prematurely?), the better. Your domestic use competing with US military needs is a problem of US defense and security.

        If any civilian would rather American ships at sea, planes in the air, vehicles on the ground run out of fuel or cost too much to effectively stage, because they’re squeamish about a slightly oversized whirlyblade toy, then they are part of the problem, and weakening America, giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

        Government military funding used to get civilians off necessary key military resources is always justified by the defense of the American way of life and values of freedom and the constitution.

      • bart – easy. I want a nuclear reactor in my backyard. I grew up near an oil refinery. Nice jobs.

      • No, jim2 wants a Bakken oil rig in his backyard. Everyone would. The problem is that it will last a couple of years and then essentially dry up. Remember, jim2 said this

        “I’m not saying there is an infinite supply of fossil fuels, but part of the shortage is due to dumb government.”

        And all those rigs in NoDak with enough illumination that you can see it from satellite photos is somehow being squashed by government? Watch in a few years when it all goes quiet once again, and yet you will still have cornucopian jim2 ranting about the government getting in the way.

      • Web – All I am saying is open up all the restricted areas for drilling and build small and large nuclear plants. Don’t try to put words in my mouth. If you read this article, you will find that regulations, including restricted drilling, stand in the way of more oil production. You are some kind nut case. At least try to read what I actually say, and don’t try to twist my words into your idiotic propaganda!

      • jim2, I don’t see how I can put words in your mouth when you type those very words in yourself!

        All I have to do is copy & paste a quote of yours.

        “Jim2 | April 27, 2012 at 8:59 am | Reply

        Joe – the socialistic watermelons controlling the US government are the culprits who ruined the economy. “

        You say I am twisting your words. How exactly do you untwist a metaphor that says that the government is RED=communist and that something as massive as an economy is ruined, which borders on gloom, doom, and apocalypse.

        The projection just oozes out. You are the true apocalyptic fantasist.

      • WHT – FDR, Barney Frank, Lyndon Johnson, Alan Greenspan who kept interest rates low for 2 years in a booming economy – all the Dimowits and Pukes who wanted to let people who couldn’t afford them buy houses and live off the dole – those are the watermelons that ruined the economy that coal and oil built.

      • Some of the above named culprits were merely socialists as evironnazism hadn’t bloomed in their time.

      • “How exactly do you untwist a metaphor that says that the government is RED=communist”
        Actually, there isn’t that much difference between socialism, communism, and fascism – they all feature centralized control.

        Obama and the Dimowits try to buy votes and sometimes money via the power of their position:
        1. The Dream Act to buy Hispanic votes.
        2. The bogus woman’s health issue as an excuse to hand out free “woman’s health” services.
        3. The bail out of GM such that bond holder’s legal rights were abrogated in favor of union benefits in an effort to buy union votes and pay back unions for political support.
        4. The move to forgive college student loans to buy votes of younger voters.
        5. The health care bill to buy votes from the poor.
        6. Mortgage bailouts to buy votes from irresponsible home buyers.
        7. Credit card regulations to buy votes from irresponsible borrowers.
        8. Cheap, Federally backed home loans to people who can’t afford a home to buy votes from those folks.
        9. Extended unemployment benefits to buy votes from those folks.
        10. And worst of all, “green” and other loans to companies run by big donors to the Dimowits, companies that frequently fail. This as pay back for their support and to curry votes from environmentalists.
        11. On top of all that, all the regulations they pen are highly complex, causing the expansion of the Federal and state workforce, and thereby the expansion of public unions, their supporters.

        Instead of all this we should heed Friedrich von Hayek:

        “There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision”

        But instead of complex regulations; something like a negative income tax, a fair tax, or some variation based on income and net worth could be applied. It would not require a huge bureaucracy to administrate and could not be leveraged to buy votes. The biggest administrative burden would be fraud prevention, which would be rigorous.

      • WHT,
        Your peak oil obesession reduces you to a diet of red herrings and strawmen. I am not certain, but I will bet you will not find any serious skeptics participating in your cornucopian strawman.
        Your need to link cliamte skeptics with abiotic oil is understandable, since you have no actual arguments to offer- only your boring derivative remix of Malthusian/ehrlich/club of rome garbage.

      • Hunter, The obsession is in the other direction and is your problem. I dare you to find anything related to doomerism in any of my writings. You will not find a thing. What I love to point out however, is the psychological angst of people like you that find a would-be Stalin or Mao hiding under every bed. This is just so awesomely comical.

        “I am not certain, but I will bet you will not find any serious skeptics participating in your cornucopian strawman.”

        I am not the one that brought up the subject. What you will find right here in this thread is thinking such as jim2 dogwhistled

        “I’m not saying there is an infinite supply of fossil fuels, but part of the shortage is due to dumb government.”

        The cornucopianism is simple in this case — the government is getting in the way of higher production levels. That is a cornucopian attitude and the reality is that short-horizon finite resource constraints exist and analysts that have the skills will continue to point this out. This will happen no matter how much your obsession with commies hiding under every bed continues.

      • WHT,
        Dr. Curry seems to have my response to your ad hom too strong, so I will try something more temperate. First, I apologize that I did not realize earlier that you are reading comprehension challeneged, along with your malthusian frame of reference, I am certain this is a terrible burden and leaves you in a very isolated position. My heart goes out to you, and I hope you can deal with them effectively over time.

  61. Dr. Curry,
    I just recevied the copy of “Waiting For The Apocalypse” by Daniel Cohen that I ordered. It is an updated edition of “How The World Will End” by the same author. The book I received was published in 1983. The ISBN number is 0-87975-223-8.
    This book is an excellent review of how apocalyptic thinking infects humanity and the major ways apocalyptic thinking manifests. The book is out of publicaiton but is not difficult to get. Able Books had many copies available in the $1 price range.
    I strongly urge anyone who would like to gain a good perspective on the social dysfunctions behind AGW to read this book. I look forward to re-reading it after many years. Maybe the folly and implosion of AGW will lead David Cohen to consider updating the book again and getting it back in publication. It would be very timely in light of the worldwide phenomenon of AGW, and appropriate in this year of the faux Mayan apocalypse, 2012.

  62. This report just out from the Royal Society would seem to fit right into the doomsday thinking.


  63. Late edits, ( trying to break the blog record for errata.)
    “archipelago,’ ‘apocalypse,’ and that’s just the ‘a’s.’
    Then @27/04 5.58 Mark ‘Lynas,’ not ‘Styne,’ tsk!

  64. Speaking of apocalypse, http:/ re 10km astroid destroying civilization. Bigger risk than 3 C temp increase in 100 years. For only $500, million we could develop a system to make it miss earth. Dr.Ed Lu set up foundation to try but no ones pays attention. Something like 50,000 big objects cross our orbit. BIG ONE the size of a truck just exploded in the sky in California we never say until it exploded in the sky over the Sierras.

    • Thank God, that the owners of Google, were able to place their explosives upon it before it hit the Earth.

  65. Never saw

  66. This is the foundation web site. Actually it is a 60 m one most likely to hit in the next 100 years. That will keep us busyt for a while and then we can worry about the 3 C change again.

  67. We expect our scientists to have definitive answers and an apocalypse is most certainly definitive in its conclusion. Human beings don’t do well with doubt, maybe we need to grow up a bit and get over not knowing everything, be more pragmatic in our outlook and not flip from one extreme to another.

  68. Curious George

    There are two factors involved in doomsday predictions. I’ll call them the American factor and the Goebbels factor. The American factor is that sensationalism sells newspapers best. It works. You can build a fake medieval castle from the proceeds.

    The American approach does not feed you any lies. You get all information about a murder, what brand of a chainsaw the murderer used, where he bought it, how fast the police responded, but don’t expect any Federalist Papers, any boring data about how your tax money is used.

    The Goebbels idea is “a lie repeated thousand times becomes a truth”, and it also works – Hitler’s Germany and today’s North Korea are good examples. The necessary assumption is that people hear no alternatives to your favorite lie, or even better, a half-truth. That’s why Germany, USSR, and North Korea jammed foreign broadcasts. That’s why the Hockey Team attempted to prevent a publication of any dissenting opinion. They are not yet sentencing the listeners to alternatives to death, but Steve Zwick already advocates in Forbes to let the opponent’s houses burn.

    The Internet seems to be an ideal medium to repeat a lie one thousand times. Unfortunately, it also makes it easy to expose a lie one thousand times. So you must make the lie or the half-truth much more interesting than the alternative. That way it will pop up at the top of search results. So you piggyback a good apocalyptic prediction (not a lie) on the idea to be repeated thousand times. A new accelerator will produce a black hole that swallows the Earth! Genetically modified rice will poison everybody in seven generations! Stored nuclear waste will be spread over the planet by a volcanic eruption in five thousand years!

    The beauty is that you don’t have to prove anything; let the other side prove that the nuclear waste will NOT be spread over the planet by a volcanic eruption in five thousand years, or that we are NOT at a “tipping point” of a catastrophic climate change. And your half-truth is so nicely hidden that a casual reader will not question it.

    • Curious George, re the ‘US factor’, it may come as a surprise to you, but the vast majority of the world’s population do not live in the US, do not read its publications, and have their own media traditions.

      As far as sensationalistic journalism is concerned, today’s UK ‘red tops’ are but a pale shadow of the long tradition of rumbuctious publications in the UK, its former colonies and the US prior to the homogenising of print mass media that started about 70 years ago. That came about through buyouts and amalgamations, just as we are seeing in the internet world today.

      It is worth having a look at the popular newspapers and magazines of the last couple of hundred years before rushing to judgement. Junk science, apocalyptic scare stories and lies have always been there. It is true that things happen faster on the internet, but they die faster as well – just look at the Kony demonstrations that were meant to happen last week. 150 million people were ‘concerned’ on the internet, but a miniscule percentage of those people could even be bothered to go to a demo and put up a few posters.

      • Curious George

        Dear Johanna,

        you are absolutely correct that there is a lot of prior history to what I call “the American factor”. In my original writeup, I called it by a family name of one WRH who destroyed the US journalism and became fabulously rich in the process, but an idea of a flock of highly-paid lawyers pecking on me made me change the label. I also agree with you that we should not rush to a judgement. Let’s wait patiently until 2100 to see how climate predictions fare.

        Just curious – can I find these “popular newspapers and magazines of the last couple of hundred years” on the Net?

      • Hi George

        The most (in)famous Australian example was the scurrilous and very popular Melbourne Truth newspaper, which ceased publishing in 1993 after almost 100 years. Unfortunately, the archives are not yet available online (although the National Library has it on the to do list). But here is an interview with its last editor which gives you the flavour. Note that by the time it ceased publishing, it was much tamer than in the early days:

        He cheerfully admits that they just made stuff up to generate sales, and by all accounts that was the case right through its history, although it covered serious issues as well.

        Another example was the popular magazine Australasian Post, also not yet online, which was described as covering, in the 1950’s, “picture stories on shark hunting, war battles, car crashes, sex changes, polygamy, swimwear, film stars … the occult, UFOs, eccentrics …”

        The Post was in every waiting room and barber shop in the country for decades.

        Readers from the UK might know of online sources for the many sensationalist publications that have been available since the beginning of mass publishing.

        My point is, there always has been and always will be a market for this kind of stuff, whatever the current medium of choice is. Many readers don’t take it seriously, but some do. Agatha Christie fans may recall ‘A Pocketful of Rye’ (1953), where a gullible housemaid who collected articles on pseudoscience poisoned her employer while believing that she was administering ‘truth serum’. Christie made the same point in ‘The Body in the Library’ (1942).

  69. Sometimes, for some people, the drive to ‘apocalyptic’ thinking is insurmountable; a real event or consideration makes for some moment or span of time the pain of a blinding and undeniable foreboding.

    And sometimes that passes.

    • Very good.

    • Bart,
      This is the reveled (mystery), stuff:
      An apocalypse (Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis; “lifting of the veil” or “revelation”) is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted.

      This is about how the ages will end stuff:

      It’s all good. And it looks like it is never going to end; really.
      Enjoy the day.

  70. Joachim Seifert

    Communications technology and apocalyptic hype:
    Yes, the “simulations” of the simulants, nowadays renamed as
    “models” of the modelers give credit to the apocalyptic hype
    (CAGW), more prove then just the sole words of the sabient
    prophet….. “We have simulated…..the model tells us: “You
    better run for cover, mate………:

  71. An observation on how apocalyptic thinking takes root:
    If a consensus is revealed, it will tend towards apocalypticism. If a consensus is synthesized from testing theses, it will be much less vulnerable to apocalyptic influences.