Learning from the octopus

by Judith Curry

Indeed, if there is a single message that sums up all of Sagarin’s work, it’s that organisms realized long ago that the world is a much less predictable place than humans would like to believe.  “We spend a lot of time in planning exercises, making predictive models, and in optimization routines,” says Sagarin. “All of which have essentially been selected against in nature, because they’re incredibly wasteful when you live in an unpredictable world.”

Rafe Sagarin, a marine ecologist at the University of Arizona, has written a provocative book entitled Learning from the octopus: How secrets from nature can help us fight terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and disease.

From an article in The Week:

FISH DON’T TRY to turn sharks into vegetarians. Living immersed in a world of constant risk forces the fish to develop multiple ways to live with risk, rather than try to eliminate it. The fish can dash away from the shark in a burst of speed, live in places sharks can’t reach, use deceptive coloration to hide from the shark, form schools with other fish to confuse the shark — it can even form an alliance with the shark. All of these things may help the fish solve the problem of how to avoid getting eaten by the shark. But none of these adaptations will help the fish solve the general problem of predation, and it doesn’t need to. The fish doesn’t have to be a perfect predator-avoidance machine. Like every single one of the countless organisms it shares a planet with, the fish just has to be good enough to survive and reproduce itself.

The major threats society faces today are ominous and complex interplays of human behavior and environmental change, global politics and local acts of cruelty or carelessness, historical accidents and long-simmering tensions. Some of these threats have plagued us as long as we have been human, and yet we’ve still made little progress against them; others are becoming more dangerous in synergy with rapid climatic and political changes; and still others are just now emerging. Yet the responses we have been offered or forced to accept by the experts we’ve trusted to solve these problems often seem frustratingly ineffective, naïve, or just plain ridiculous.

Life on Earth has a lot to show us about how to create more adaptable systems than these, but with the doors to this vast pool of expertise on adaptability blown open, a daunting new question emerges: Where to begin?  If you want to learn about security and adaptability from nature, I can think of no better place to start than to stare into the eye of an octopus.

Taken together, the octopus reveals almost all of the characteristics you would want in a biologically inspired adaptable security system. Its use of tools (the coconut shells) and its well-known ability to wreak havoc on laboratory containment systems show that it can learn from a changing environment. The rapidly changing skin cells show it has an adaptable organization in which a lot of power to detect and directly respond to changes in the environment is given to multiple agents that don’t have to do a lot of reporting and order-taking from a central brain. That it has an ink cloud and camouflage and a powerful bite that it uses both for offense and defense reveals its redundant and multi-functioning security measures. Its ability to deliberately stalk, surprise, and even kill prey much larger than itself shows that it can manipulate uncertainty for its own ends. Finally, its use of deadly bacteria in its own defense reveals that it uses symbiotic relationships to extend its own adaptive capabilities. Not all organisms in nature display these characteristics so prominently as the octopus, but all organisms use them to varying extents to survive and adapt.

DESPITE THE MASSIVE variation in nature’s security systems, all of their solutions follow from one very straightforward concept: adaptability. Adaptation arises from leaving (or being forced from) one’s comfort zone. Accordingly, it’s understandable that we might be a little resistant to dive into this strange world where reacting to the previous crisis is no longer good enough and making vague predictions of the future no longer counts as “doing something.” It’s natural that we’d come up with all sorts of excuses for why we can’t be more adaptable. But one of the results of using nature — with its relentless ability to solve problems and neutralize unpredictable threats — as a template for adaptability is that it weakens almost every excuse we have for not becoming more adaptable.

From an article in BBC Future:

Just as importantly, Sagarin discovered what it is that organisms don’t do. In general, they don’t plan, predict or try to be perfect. When Sagarin tells this to the members of strategic planning departments in government agencies, it leads to “a lot of consternation and grinding of teeth,” in part because it’s so counter-intuitive.

Indeed, if there is a single message that sums up all of Sagarin’s work, it’s that organisms realized long ago that the world is a much less predictable place than humans would like to believe. What Sagarin calls the “non-normal distribution of truly interesting events,” which was explored at length in Nassim Taleb’s book The Black Swan, has relevance to how we’ll cope with everything from disease outbreaks to climate change.

“We spend a lot of time in planning exercises, making predictive models, and in optimization routines,” says Sagarin. “All of which have essentially been selected against in nature, because they’re incredibly wasteful when you live in an unpredictable world.”

Organisms and humans should plan for things that occur with some frequency; buildings in earthquake-prone areas must be ready for tremors just as surely as mating Horseshoe crabs need to know the phase of the moon. But the biggest dangers are those we’ve yet to identify, and if nature is any guide, the only way to prepare for them and respond to them effectively is to have an abundance of flexibility and skills which can be combined to meet any challenge.

From Sagarin’s Foreign Policy article Adapt or Die, 5 adaptation strategies:

Form good relationships. An organism can survive, and thrive, in the presence of an enemy by forming symbiotic relationships that can take a multitude of forms. These relationships can link aggressive, highly toxic species (clown fish living in anemone tentacles, for example), or they can link small and large organisms (such as bioluminescent bacteria living within the organs of deep-sea fish). Sometimes the relationships are transient, sometimes permanent.

Never stop adapting. A fundamental tenet of evolutionary biology is that organisms must constantly adapt just to stay in the same strategic position relative to their enemies — who are constantly changing as well. For example, to protect its DNA against viruses, a host organism must continually change the access code to its genetic material. 

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The ability to adapt is limited by competing demands. An organism that puts all its energy into acquiring mates may be woefully unprepared for an attack by a skilled enemy. A male peacock with his feathers fully extended might set female hearts fluttering, but the flashy display also leaves him dangerously exposed. An organism prone to such behavior could only have evolved in a relatively predator-free environment.

Be redundant. Many species spawn an overabundance of offspring to improve their chances of survival. Many genes have multiple copies of DNA to protect genetic material against attack. 

Be flexible. Evolutionary success requires the ability to adapt rapidly to changed circumstances. 

JC comments:  Most of what I have seen written about Sagarin’s ideas are applications related to security and protecting against terrorist attacks.  But it seems that there are some useful applications of these ideas for adaptation to extreme weather events and climate change.  We are fooling ourselves if we don’t take this particular insight into account:

Indeed, if there is a single message that sums up all of Sagarin’s work, it’s that organisms realized long ago that the world is a much less predictable place than humans would like to believe. 

Building our adaptive capacity and imagining black swan scenarios seem like a much better bet than putting all our eggs in the CO2 mitigation strategy tied projections of future climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2.

768 responses to “Learning from the octopus

  1. Does Sagarin’s preference for adapation over mitigation apply to political choices too? I’m thinking that Republicans in the the USA could save themselves quite a large amount of money by choosing to not finance Mitt Romney’s campaign (mitigation) and instead divert their funds towards surviving under the next four years under President Obama (adaptation).

    • Republicans and Democrats participated in three major events that deprived us of basic rights** as humans:

      _ a.) To live happy, joyous and free
      _ b.) To know God, Reality, Truth by
      _ c.) Contemplation, experimentation, meditation, observation

      http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-818

      1. Destruction of Hiroshima/Nagasaki on 6/9 Aug 1945
      _ -Generated fear of energy (E) in cores of atoms/stars
      _ -Unrealistic models of atomic and stellar energy (E)
      _ -Decision to eliminate/Unite Nations on 24 Oct 1945

      2. Murder of President John F. Kennedy on 22 Nov 1963
      _ -Ended United States efforts to reclaim independence

      3. Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China on 9-11 Jul 1971
      _ -Reaffirmed a 1945 accord to promote Uniting Nations
      _ -False models of energy (E) in cores of atoms/stars
      _ -Orwellian government predicted in 1948 for 1984
      _ http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/

      **Our birthright on this blue, water-covered planet !
      http://dingo.care2.com/cards/flash/5409/galaxy.swf

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo
      http://www.omatumr.com
      http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about

      • When Hiroshima vanished on 6 August 1945 and
        then Nagasaki disappeared on 9 August 1945, . . .

        from the sudden release of energy (E) stored as mass (m) in cores of uranium and plutonium atoms, respectively,

        Fear and the Survival instinct> were traits shared alike by Communists, Fascists, Capitalists, Socialists . . .
        Atheists, Popes, Agnostics and Preachers,
        The Wealthy and the Impoverished,
        Well-educated and uneducated,
        Democrats and Republicans,
        Conservatives and Liberals,
        Paupers and members of
        The Royal Family !

        What to do?

        Only one answer would insure the safety of the most distinguished, influential members of society: Enslave the rest and hide access to information on energy (E) stored as mass (m) in cores of atoms, planets, stars and galaxies.

        The rest is well-documented history that can only be falsified when the most distinguished, influential members of society order their pet pseudo-scientists to publicly discuss the experimental observations and data summarized here [1], and then confirmed by new observations on the source of energy that made our elements, still sustains our lives and controls Earth’s climate today:

        http://tinyurl.com/cfoqtn8

        1. “Neutron repulsion,” The Apeiron Journal 19, 123-150 (2012) http://tinyurl.com/7t5ojrn

        With kind regards,
        Oliver K. Manuel
        Former NASA Principal
        Investigator for Apollo
        http://www.omatumr.com
        http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about

      • Be redundant.

      • Be enslaved.

      • I might be enslaved to FB or at least conditioned. I wanted to find a ‘Like’ to your response.

      • Thanks, jbmckim.

        1. UN’s Agenda 21 “let the cat out of the bag”:

        http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/

        2. The UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UN’s CSD or GD: Grand Delusion) was created in Dec 1992, and would have been discredited in 1995 if data were released from the Galileo probe of Jupiter:

      • > Be enslaved.

        Does not refer an adaptation strategy, while still being redundant.

      • “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac”, said Henry Kissinger, . .
        http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/1467

        Totally unaware that all of the power of the Royal Family, the Bilderberg Group, the UN’s IPCC, the US NAS, the UK’s RS, the Nobel Prize Committee, Nature, BBC, Science, PBS, PNAS, MPRS. . .

        is a false illusion !

        Yes, they all played major roles in events that deprived us of basic human rights, mis-shaping our democracy into the grotesque tyrannical government predicted by George Orwell in 1948:

        Nineteen eighty-four (“1984”)
        http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/

        They are also instant toast if the Sun belches.

        The wise ones (if there are any) will be the first to get on their knees and surrender that false illusion of power !

      • Henry Kissinger played a major role, mostly as director of the script:

        http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-818

      • > a false illusion !

        Real ones are so much better.

    • tempterrain – What a crock of ****!

  2. “We are fooling ourselves if we don’t take this particular insight into account:

    ‘Indeed, if there is a single message that sums up all of Sagarin’s work, it’s that organisms realized long ago that the world is a much less predictable place than humans would like to believe.’ ” – JC

    So Judith Curry is about to throw in the towel on her weather forecasting business……..

    But really, screw the octopus. We’ve got something it’ll never have – foresight.

    There is another word for adaption – reaction. Animals have to constantly react (adapt) to the environment, because they moslty don’t have the kind of ability to allow them to make good decisions now about the long-term future.

    It’s mind-bogglingly stupid to discount one of the abilities that puts us apart, and above, the animals.

    • k scott denison

      Yes, we have foresight, and with it something else the octopus doesn’t have: the ability to talk ourselves into believing the apocalypse is coming. Been happening since the beginning of civilization and still is.

      That’s the beauty do the octopus: he doesn’t scare himself into doing stupid things based on a scenario that isn’t likely to happen.

    • Never stop adapting.

    • Michael | August 17, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      Octopus has 8 brains, predicted correctly who is going to win the soccer championship. Octopus was on this planet much longer than human, and will be long after human are gone. Octopus is not ideologically driven like you. Octopus would have never commented regular drivel as yours. Octopus would never lie that he knows the temperature on the whole planet

      Many animals can predict floods in advance; apparently, some.critters can predict strong winds coming, even earthquakes, in advance. Animals are honest critters, apart of the Warmist Geldings, the Fakes.

  3. Just as importantly, Sagarin discovered what it is that organisms don’t do. In general, they don’t plan, predict or try to be perfect. When Sagarin tells this to the members of strategic planning departments in government agencies, it leads to “a lot of consternation and grinding of teeth,” in part because it’s so counter-intuitive.

    I think he means “counter-cultural”. The notion of planning for unknown unknowns is a cultural phenomenon.

    • “counter-cultural” as in hippies and other radical types? They happen to have more foresight than people give them credit for, like being involved in the environmental movement of the 1970’s . Much of that concern was justified and planning that came out of that era has turned out well in many cases.

      The other planning that has panned out is the USA reducing its carbon emission levels to the lowest rate in 20 years. Much of this has to do with reduction in automobile miles driven, and reduction in coal use in favor of
      natural gas.
      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ZGBty08LimY/UAxMBec2nbI/AAAAAAAAOQ4/1H-fc4M6n-s/s1600/VehicleMilesRollingMay2012.jpg
      Blame expensive oil for this turn of events and some planning for that eventuality; this includes anticipating more demand for fuel-efficient cars, electric or hybrid cars, and carbon-neutral ethanol.

      • About 50 years ago the “counter-culture” predicted silent springs with no singing birds. That has not materialised.

        It is just a psychological need of these people despite contrary observed evidence (they live longest in the history of man) they are only happy when believing and telling impending doom.

      • “About 50 years ago the “counter-culture” predicted silent springs with no singing birds. That has not materialised.”

        And 40 years ago Lake Erie was left for dead and the Cuyahoga River caught fire … and that was just in Ohio. The environmental movement helped to rally the forces and helped fixed the more egregious problems thanks to the formation of the EPA and tighter regulations. You can anti-agree (apparently I can’t use the word “deny”) with that all that you want, but an unrestrained market does not have a conscience, and something needed to be done

        But then again, I am talking to Girma, which makes it a completely pointless exercise.

      • Personally, I find that while differences between people may in some cases be intractable, being patronizing and pejorative contributes nothing and subtracts much.

      • ” being patronizing and pejorative contributes nothing and subtracts much.”

        You got it. You don’t like what I have to say and then state your opinion. I don’t like what Girma says and state mine.

      • Keep kidding yourself buddy. The US adapted to the price of oil going up, and used a lower CO2 emitting energy, but not intentionally. It adapted to economic circumstances that’s all.

      • “The US adapted to the price of oil going up, and used a lower CO2 emitting energy, but not intentionally. It adapted to economic circumstances that’s all.”

        Is this risk mitigation or adaptation? Long term planning in my opinion. Hydraulic fracturing techniques have been known for decades.
        http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/2012/03/shale_gas_fracking_history_and.shtm

        The first use of hydraulic fracturing was in 1947 but the modern fracking technique that made the extraction of shale gas economical was first used in 1997 in the Barnett Shale in Texas.

        The Bakken is the same. Oil companies have been in North Dakota for years, just preparing for the day that conventional crude oil started to become scarce enough to make the Bakken economically viable.

        The same goes for natural gas. The price for that has plummeted because the initial return on a hydraulically fractured natural gas well is huge and everyone had the same idea to get rich quick at the same time. The bubble will last a few years. That is an interesting situation, well worth watching, especially the trajectory of the big investors .
        http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9397

        “Australian mining giant BHP has lost a quarter of its former market capitalization since its acquisition of US shale acreage from Petrohawk and Chesapeake last year.

        … the serious question whether the lost value simply is a result of changed market conditions – or was the acreage already worth much less at the actual time of its purchase by BHP?”

      • David Springer

        Try recession and higher fuel prices.

      • “David Springer | August 18, 2012 at 6:32 am | Reply

        Try recession and higher fuel prices.

        That’s why I said “Blame expensive oil for this turn of events “ right in my comment and why Springer is such a knee-jerk contrarian.

        The economy is very sensitive to oil prices. One can rightly assert that we have more oil, say from the Bakken and from tar sands. Well, we knew about that oil long ago, and it took scarcity in conventional crude and consequent higher demand-driven prices for that now rare crude to make the non-conventional sources cost-competitive. The prices have remained high because it does cost a lot more to extract the non-conventional oil.

        Part of the 2008 housing recession was caused by foreclosures on new houses that were located on long commutes, in the exo-suburbs. People buying houses could barely keep up with payments as it was, and then when the gas price shock occurred in 2008, they had to walk away from those houses. The move now is toward the inner city. No denying that:
        http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/the_unmistakable_rebirth_of_ce.html

      • The housing crisis was caused by government. Regulations that forced lenders to loan to people who couldn’t afford them. Fannie and Freddie mandated to buy the bad loans. Both Reps and Dems had a hand in it.

      • On your mark, get set, Boston Fed.
        =================

      • jim2, a very strange view. Surely the relaxation of regulations by lenders caused the housing crisis.

      • Let’s see, octopus versus Nassim Nicholas Taleb

        “The principle of distributing errors: (1) no single individual, institution, or corporate unit, (government entity ) should have the ability to make an error consequential enough to affect the overall system (CONCENTRATION); (2) Crowds should be organized in a way to never be able to act synchronously as a single crowd (TEMPORAL HOMOGENEITY); (may seem simple but we are severely violating this principle…)

        My addition in bold, just in case some think government is excluded.

      • Heh, Jim D, you’re close. To the extent that the lenders got the regulations relaxed, you are right. How’d that happen?
        ================

      • I don’t know, kim, but I am guessing the lenders wanted to capitalize as much as possible on the housing boom, and the Bush administration was saying everyone should become home owners to help them.

      • JimD, there are several good analysis of the bubble mentality that don’t show obvious political bias. They generally point to the “too many eggs in one basket” issue or too big to fail. But that would require political introspection to appreciated. Often political ideals lead to undesired consequences.

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-land-use-stuff.html

        Of course, there is always something else to blame.

      • In this case, a lack of regulation showed up at several steps of this crisis.

      • It really is a chicken-and-egg possibility. If the economy picks up, the ghost towns may recover, or perhaps they had some role in the decline.
        http://www.zillow.com/blog/2012-08-02/economy-responsible-for-new-ghost-towns/

        ““How quickly they rebound will be directly linked to the reasons the development stalled in the first place,” he said. “There’s a big difference between a development that sits 90 minutes outside a metropolitan area whose pool of buyers dried up, and a very desirable, well-located piece of land being developed by someone who got in over his head financially.”

      • One of the problems with the “rebound” is the government’s attempt to cushion the fall. Like any thing else, some intervention is useful, but too much or too little can aggravate the situation. What really looks bad to me is the issue of too big to fail was not addressed, just shifted to the government which is really too big to fail. There should have been more Bear Sterns in my opinion.

      • Nail – head, Capt. Dallas. It is a fallacy that government can control the economy. The economy is too big and the government too small. The economy will have its natural cycles regardless of what government does. The best course of action by the government is to do basically nothing. Keep interest rates at a moderate level, help the unemployed, but otherwise stay out of it. We would already be recovered by now and without running up trillions in debt.
        “America’s greatest depression fighter was Warren Gamaliel Harding. An Ohio senator when he was elected president in 1920, he followed Woodrow Wilson who got America into World War I, contributed to the deaths of 116,708 Americans, built up huge federal bureaucracies, imprisoned dissenters and incurred $25 billion of debt, for which he has been much praised by historians.

        Harding inherited the mess, in particular the post-World War I depression – almost as severe, from peak to trough, as the Great Contraction from 1929 to 1933, that FDR inherited and prolonged. Richard K. Vedder and Lowell E. Gallaway, in their book Out of Work (1993), noted that the magnitude of the 1920 depression “exceeded that for the Great Depression of the following decade for several quarters.” The estimated gross national product plunged 24% from $91.5 billion in 1920 to $69.6 billion in 1921. The number of unemployed people jumped from 2.1 million in 1920 to 4.9 million in 1921.”

        “Federal spending was cut from $6.3 billion in 1920 to $5 billion in 1921 and $3.2 billion in 1922. Federal taxes were cut from $6.6 billion in 1920 to $5.5 billion in 1921 and $4 billion in 1922. Harding’s policies started a trend. The low point for federal taxes was reached in 1924. For federal spending, in 1925. The federal government paid off debt, which had been $24.2 billion in 1920, and it continued to decline until 1930.
        With Harding’s tax cuts, spending cuts and relatively non-interventionist economic policy, the gross national product rebounded to $74.1 billion in 1922. The number of unemployed fell to 2.8 million – a reported 6.7% of the labor force – in 1922. So, just a year and a half after Harding became president, the Roaring 20s were underway! The unemployment rate continued to decline, reaching a low of 1.8% in 1926 – an extraordinary feat. Since then, the unemployment rate has been lower only once in wartime (1944), and never in peacetime.”

        Conspicuously absent was business-bashing that became a hallmark of FDR’s speeches. Absent, too, were New Deal–type big government programs to make it more expensive for employers to hire people, to force prices above market levels, to promote cartels and monopolies. Frederick Lewis Allen wrote, “Business itself was regarded with a new veneration. Once it had been considered less dignified and distinguished than the learned professions, but now people thought they praised a clergyman highly when they called him a good business man.”

        http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/powell-jim4.html

        This is analogous to the idea that governments can “fight” “climate change.”

      • Heh, Jim D, which party supported the deregulatory process for housing finance which led to the continuing catastrophe? There were malefactors in both parties, but one was egregious. It is ignorantly reflexive to lay the blame where you have.
        ==============

      • I am in favor of regulations that control the behavior of financial institutions, whoever does it, so that this kind of thing can’t happen. Aren’t we all? Congress is still not doing things fast enough to protect consumers from them and their mistakes, but they have progressed under this administration.

      • Count up all the loans on inner-city homes that were relatively cheap. Then count up on all the loans on middle-class McMansions out in the suburbs and exurbs that were over-valued. Who is kidding whom about the bulk of the problem? It wasn’t the Community Reinvestment Act.

        Repossess an inner-city home and the bank still retains most of the value. Prime real estate and a spot for just about anyone to move into (save for Detroit). Do the same to a McMansion out in the middle of nowhere, and the bank is out a boatload of money.

        Sorry, but I never get a real chance to talk to right-wing freakazoids as much anymore and want to watch some of them get upset over this argument.

      • Sorry, but I never get a real chance to talk to right-wing freakazoids as much anymore and want to watch some of them get upset over this argument.

        It’s always funny to uncover the parallels between some “skeptics” analysis of science with their analysis of politics. I actually see less political extremism from rightwingers on political blogs than I do from some of the “skeptics” here.

        How does anyone focus on the CRA to the exclusion of financial engineers leveraging assets up to 40-1 to buy bad debt, insure that bad debt with other private sector entities leveraged up to 40-1, while using deceptive marketing practices to borrowers to hide predatory lending practices, all of which was founded on poorly considered risk analysis of debt?

        OK – that’s bad enough, but then for that same person to turn around and argue vehemently that considering the risk of climate change is ill-considered because it is based on a weak understanding of risk analysis?

        Now that takes some chutzpah.

      • You progressive drones are funny enough when you regurgitate the latest CAGW agitprop you get from your favorite filtered media. But when you start waxing illiterate about economics…Katie bar the door.

        Lenders deregulated themselves? Inner city homes retained most of their value after the subprime debacle crashed the housing market? Leveraging, not bad loans was the real problem in the crisis?

        OK, I’ll type slowly so you Huffington Post MSNBC types can follow along.

        Regulators are responsible for deregulation. But to the extent regulation was an issue in the 2008 mess, it was primarily a lack of regulation of certain derivatives that had never been subjected to regulation in the first place. Repeal of Glass-Steagal was probably a bad idea as well, but only because it was combined with government policies that had created the subprime mess in the first place.

        Inner city homes if anything drop more in value when the market falls. There are fewer buyers, because the under writing criteria returned to normal after the crash. And those who can get credit now have great deals available in better neighborhoods. (Although the Obama administration is trying their best to force lenders to start making subprime loans again.)

        I have represented numerous home owners in foreclosure proceedings, including in inner city neighborhoods. If you think their properties retained their value better than the homes in more affluent neighborhoods, well, you probably think CO2 is going to cause thermageddon in the near future too. It is a piece of cake getting a short sale in the suburbs. In the city, don’t hold your breath.

        Finally, leveraging does not increase losses to the economy. It focuses those losses in fewer investors, thus defeating the purpose of creating the securities that were designed to spread the risk in the first place. (Which is how Goldman Sachs made a bundle creating subprime backed securities then shorting them.) But a trillion dollars in bad loans is a trillion dollars in bad loans, whether held by the lender that issues them, or the financial wizards who bought pieces of them like tulips in Holland in the 1600s. There is no reason to believe the credit market would have responded any better if the infection of all those bad loans had been spread more equally among the lenders.

        Leveraging can affect the availability of credit, as lenders fail to meet their capitalization requirements. Which was what the real panic was about, as the weak banks also started losing deposits en masse. But once again, if the investors had been using leverage to invest in securities backed by traditionally underwritten loans – no crisis.

        Loaning money to people who cannot afford to pay it back was a stupid idea. Which is of course why it originated with the genius progressive elitists in government. No amount of revisionist spin can change that simple fact.

      • + >1

      • Finally, leveraging does not increase losses to the economy.

        Classic. Yeah – huge financial institutions leveraging their assets up to 40-1 to buy bad debt didn’t increase the losses to the economy.

        Head meet sand.

        I can’t think of a better example of the kind of mind-numbingly counterproductive and entirely irresponsible attitude towards debt (from financial engineers heading massive financial institutions) than what you just wrote, Gary.

        No, leveraging does not increase losses in to the economy if the leveraging brings returns. through wise investment. That someone would argue that leveraging your assets 40-1 to buy bad debt, or otherwise invest based on systematically underestimated risk, doesn’t increase losses to the economy is astounding. Even as a theoretical argument that would be an astounding argument, but it is particularly astounding given abundant evidence provided by what has happened to the world economy in recent year.s

        It is really amazing how far fetishizing the private sector economy can lead someone into a fantasized version of the world.

        Yeah, these are the folks I want evaluating the potential risks of climate change. They are so clear-headed and free from biasing influences.

        Sometimes I can’t choose between laughing and crying, so I just do both.

      • This is why progressives should never be allowed any where near the real economy. As if the results of the current and previous administrations aren’t evidence enough.

        When an investor uses leverage to buy more of a security, say a mortgage backed credit default swap, he agrees to pay his portion of any losses should the underlying debt be defaulted. These CDSs were issued based on the amount of debt the seller had. The value of the CDSs was believed to be a secure flow on income from the mortgages.

        Leverage has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of loss on the mortgage in the event of a default. It simply determines how much loss a particular a particular investor will face. (There is a larger issue with respect pure futures contracts, not actually tied to any commodity or financial instrument, but those were not the issue in 2008).

        When a trillion dollars in mortgages go into default, they go into default no matter who owns what percentage of them. The losses are there regardless of who incurs them. Leverage does not increase the total amount of the loss due to the default, nor does securitization. It is the morons like Jeffrey Immelt who led GE Capital into the subprime abyss by buying tons of the garbage CDSs based on his fealty to progressive government subsidies and expectation that the government would bail him out if things went south, that ruined individual companies.

        But if you think the subprime collapse would not have brought the economy to a halt without leverage, well, whatever government paid job you have, let’s just hope it’s not as en economics or logic, instructor.

        One last time, mortgage backed securities and leverage work just fine if the underlying investment is sound. Millions of loans to people who never had a prayer or repaying them, were never sound.

        But this is all really just about trying to avoid the responsibility of stupid progressives forcing bad investment practices on the banking industry. So like with CAGW, no amount of real contradictory facts will bother the acolytes.

      • Leverage has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of loss on the mortgage in the event of a default.

        Gary – if you’re going to argue with me about that I said, you should at least start off with arguing with what I said.

        The leveraging up to 40-1 to buy bundles of bad debt, by private sector entities that account for a substantial portion of our GDP, undoubtedly, had a significant impact on our economy.

        If you choose to believe otherwise, well, more power to you.

        If you want to argue with someone who said what you’re arguing against, you should go in search for such a person.

      • Joshua,

        I did address what you actually wrote. Both times. You just don’t know what the terms you are using mean,

        In the event of a loss, leverage increases loss to the company using leverage. The net loss to the economy is the same, no matter who bears it.

        Here, just for you.

        If GE Capital buys ten million in CDSs, and they go bad, they lose ten million. If GE uses leverage to buy 100 million in CDSs and they go bad, GE loses ten times as much due to leverage. But here’s the problem your calcified progressive mind can not get around.

        If GE had not purchased those additional 90 million in CDSs, somebody else would have been holding them when they went south. The net loss to the economy on those 100 million in stupid, government forced, subprime loans is 100 million, no matter who owns them.

        But I suspect you already get this, and are just pretending to be so dense. At least I hope so.

      • Gary –

        It isn’t that I’m not enjoying this good laugh at your expense, but…

        In the event of a loss, leverage increases loss to the company using leverage. The net loss to the economy is the same, no matter who bears it.

        That the losses were so heavily concentrated in financial entities that represent a significant chunk of our economy, and that those loses to those companies were magnified by their degree of irresponsible leveraging, absolutely had a differential impact on our economy.

        Do you seriously think that the impact to the economy would have been the same had those companies not leveraged their assets 40-1, and then “insured” them with “insurance” entities that were similarly, irresponsibly, leveraged?

        I have never said that their leveraging increased the overall value of the bad mortgages, and no matter how many times you try to say that’s what I said, I still never said that.

        Seriously, bro. When crucial cogs in our economy suffer devastating loses – loses that were magnified by their irresponsible leveraging practices – then it has a disproportionate impact on the overall economy.

        This really isn’t that complicated. Your avoidance of the obvious makes it seem like you’re shilling for poor and absolutely indefensible business practices out of some reflexive fetish for the free market – and I know you’d never want to look like that.

      • And on top of the problem with loses, there was also the problem with losses.

      • OK, you are that dense.

        I won’t bother asking you for your list of the 40-1 leveraged companies you are dreaming about.

        The problem was the exact opposite of what you think. Would that the losses had been localized in a few companies. The economy withstood the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros well enough.

        The problem was not that leverage focused the losses in a narrow selection of companies in the financial industry. The problem was that the risks were so enormous given the volume of subprime loans the government had engineered, that almost every industry was at risk.

        But imagine a world with no securitization, no leverage, with the lenders holding the mortgages they write until the end of the mortgage term and, with Glass-Steagal still in place. What would have happened when the subprime bubble collapsed?

        Then the collapse would have been localized to one section of the financial economy. Main street banks, credit unions and other mortgage lenders. Yeah, that would have been so much better. Actually, the impact on the over all economy would probably have been about the same, as the FDIC insured banks failed in droves, people lost all faith in the financial system, and credit dried up as people lost their cash at the same time they lost the ability to borrow.

        My last comment on the matter.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkoPq5AOCOA

        But please take it in the spirit intended. I have no reason to think you are drunk or fat.

      • ” GaryM | August 19, 2012 at 2:05 am |

        You progressive drones are funny enough when you regurgitate the latest CAGW agitprop you get from your favorite filtered media. “

        What GaryM does not also seem to understand is that most of the “normal” debt revolves around the concept of continued cheap, cheap, cheap energy for the foreseeable future. Consider that some building contractor raises capital to finance the construction of a huge project. He expects the price of energy to stay the same or perhaps go down. He takes advantage of that enhanced productivity afforded by the cheap energy and he makes a fortune in the payback. But what happens if that cheap energy starts getting more expensive over time? The people going to that giant resort complex stop traveling by air. Or the project gets interrupted in midstream because of excessive energy costs. The possibilities are endless.

        The real debt-based economy is completely predicated on cheap energy. Once it starts going down the slide of reduced productivity, the debt load can’t keep up. Debt was the cart that trailed the productivity acceleration. As long as cheap energy is boosting productivity, debt doesn’t and didn’t matter (just like short-term debt doesn’t matter as you become profitable). But when that cheap energy stops becoming cheap, it starts unraveling.

        The other debts based on virtual funny-money no one cares about. If everyone has enough cheap energy for all their toys, they are happy. If not, things start going south.

        There you go, you ditto-head, an explanation in basic economics.

        We need a replacement for unsustainable fossil fuels and risk mitigation to ward against climate change is pushing us in that direction. You better start moving on this pronto, and get with the program.

      • Gary –

        Would that the losses had been localized in a few companies.

        I”m glad to see that you’ve moved on from your previous misconception, but once again, you substitute some fantasized statement for what I said, and then argue against it.

        I didn’t say that the losses were limited to those companies. I said that the losses at those companies – companies that represent a significant portion of the country’s wealth – were concentrated and magnified at those companies by virtue of their irresponsible leveraging of their assets.

        I am not suggesting, even remotely, that debt was taken from somewhere else to create those problems, but that the problems at those companies were exacerbated by their irresponsibility, and that their irresponsible behavior had demonstrably significant impact on the country’s economy.

        While I don’t think that the repeal of Glass-Steagal had as much impact as some think, I do think it had some impact. But the impact of that repeal, IMO, was probably less than the impact of deregulation that allowed for so much massive leveraging so far beyond what was held as capital assets. It was, simply, irresponsible behavior. Anyone with any modicum of good sense would understand that inherent risk increases with the greater you leverage.

        Now I happen to notice that you gave your “last word,” before answering my question. I will ask it again in case you realize that leaving before answering that question looks like you realize that to answer the question would contradict everything you’ve discussed with me in this thread.

        Do you seriously think that the impact to the economy would have been the same had those companies not leveraged their assets 40-1, and then “insured” them with “insurance” entities that were similarly, irresponsibly, leveraged?

        Now I will add that yes, only a few of the companies involved leveraged as much as 40-1. That aspect of my question is hyperbole. Let’s just substitute “…leveraged their assets tens of times over …” for “leveraged their assets 40-1….”

      • Gary, one thing I’ve noticed, and if you understand this a lot of things start to make sense, is that one of the fundamental differences between the “left” and the “right” is their respective understandings of what things are zero-sum games, and what aren’t. Marxism is built upon a foundation of worker productivity being a constant, and thus all private transactions are a zero sum game. If you accept this postulate, then it stands to reason that all profits are stolen from the workers.

        The concept of variable productivity, at least among the private citizenry, is beyond their paradigm. Conversely, one thing you hear coming from that corner constantly is how if only “the government” would “invest” in technology x, that all kinds of wonderfulness ensues. Zero sum applies to all private transactions, but the government is the exception to that rule. The government is the font of all wealth.

        This is at the root of “you didn’t build that”. To them, it’s impossible for any private citizen to build anything. Only the glorious state builds things.

        So don’t expect the same understanding of what games are zero-sum and what aren’t to be the same in a prog’s mind as yours. Their fundamental understand of where wealth comes from and goes to is completely different from yours.

        And wrong.

      • Oy. Again with the “they didn’t build that?”

        Here – so you can laugh at yourself and join me laughing at you.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/26/jon-stewart-you-didnt-build-that_n_1705264.html

      • P.E.,

        On this blog, the problem is worse than that, The Huffington Post/MSNBC regurgitators (Joshua just posted another link to his oracle elsewhere), is that they don’t even understand the economics they are supporting. They just know what they read in their filtered media, and repeat it here.

        Robert has at least some familiarity with marxist theory, but read Louise or Martha when they try it and it’s a laugh riot.

        And not one of them has the faintest clue about conservative, free market economics. They just know the caricatures of free market capitalism they read in their funny papers.

      • P.E. is very naive.

        “This is at the root of “you didn’t build that”. To them, it’s impossible for any private citizen to build anything. Only the glorious state builds things. “

        Paul Ryan’s fortune, is predicated on the fact that his ancestors made all their money on government projects.
        http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/ryan-family-fortune-built-public-works-projects-romney-campaign-mocks

        Well, I suppose you can say that they are all crooks.

        The truth that can’t be mentioned is the continued rise of nationalized corporations, also known as state capitalism

        “National Oil Companies Now Dominate World Oil”
        http://www.realclearenergy.org/charticles/2012/07/09/sovreign_oil_companies_now_dominate_world_oil_106619.html

        “The One Capitalism That Dare Not Speak Its Name”
        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-22/the-one-capitalism-that-dare-not-speak-its-name-pankaj-mishra.html

        “Beware the rise of ‘state capitalism'”
        http://www.newsday.com/opinion/mishra-beware-the-rise-of-state-capitalism-1.3864526

        “The visible hand – The crisis of Western liberal capitalism has coincided with the rise of a powerful new form of state capitalism in emerging markets”
        http://www.economist.com/node/21542931

        Not much you can do about it, as you don’t vote in those countries.

        I suppose P.E. will once again roll his eyes.

      • Gary –

        Joshua just posted another link to his oracle elsewhere

        I can understand where smart and knowledgeable people might have different opinions on issues as complicated as the impact of massive leveraging at financial institutions.

        But this kind of statement shows just just plain facile reasoning, and the question must be raised whether you apply the same sort of logic when you form your denigrating conclusions about the people who disagree with you and when forming your arguments against their opinions.

        I have read HuffPo articles maybe between five and ten times in my entire life. I linked to that website because that’s what returned as the first hit when I Googled to find Stewart’s spot on ridiculing of P.E.’s ridiculous harping on Obama’s statement of “you didn’t build that.”

        Here we have cold, hard proof that you make statements based on assumptions for which you have absolutely no evidence. The evidence is right there in your statement I excerpted. There is no way around that reality. Show some accountability.

      • Yep. I remember when a bunch of hippies headed for the hills. Great foresight, that. I can see why they bought into the more extreme, unrealistic part of environmentalism. After all, they indulged in drugs that allowed them live in a fantasy world.

      • Jim D | August 18, 2012 at 10:14 am |
        jim2, a very strange view. Surely the relaxation of regulations by lenders caused the housing crisis.
        W. tried several times to address the housing bubble; Carter had started this bubble, and his party pushed the party-line, requiring lenders to write marginal loans – eventually, no-doc/low-doc became common.
        ~60% of households, at any moment, have tools {$kill$} to satisfy contracts in an open, healthy market. Government intervention tilts the field in a direction, and, as demonstrated, can flood all the players. President Bush saw, and addressed, the bubble, repeatedly; you may be among those who did not hear the alarm.

      • Predatory mortgage lending was not so prevalent in the 90’s when people actually needed a solid financial background to buy a house. These people flooded into the market more recently. The foreclosures weren’t people who bought their houses in the 90’s.

      • An octopus wouldn’t try to place blame

      • This human octopus reaches around the world in eighty moments. Cap’n Nemo is struggling mightily with it, maydaying for Cap’n Stormfield.
        =================

      • John Carpenter

        Now we’re getting somewhere. Yes, if only humans didn’t have the idea they have a ‘right’ to live. Who doe the octopus sue when it gets injured from an attack?

      • Octopi operate on honey badger rules. Like pretty much the entire animal kingdom, save one oddball primate, and maybe his domesticated canid.

      • John Carpenter

        WHT, the quick blurb I read in the paper said the reduction was more to do with market shift of natural gas to fire power plants rather than using coal. Coal mining towns in West Virginia are feeling the pain, shuttering mines due to lack of sales with lots of cheap natural gas on the market. Oil was not even mentioned, though I’m sure high oil prices are also helping to drive the reduction trend also.

      • “John Carpenter | August 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Reply

        WHT, the quick blurb I read in the paper said the reduction was more to do with market shift of natural gas to fire power plants rather than using coal. “

        Sure and that’s why I said ” reduction in coal use in favor of
        natural gas.”
        in the comment you are replying to.

        Look at energy content of natural gas versus energy content of coal.
        natural gas around 14.4 tons of carbon per terajoule
        oil with 19.9 t/TJ
        coal with 25.4 t/TJ

        So it doesn’t take much to see the difference and the temporary negative bubble in natural gas prices helped to drive that. But then significant amounts of natural gas are required to process tar sands and other heavy oils. When the inverse bubble subsides, it may come back to normal.

        I wanted to add the oil price and scarcity aspect because it’s the topic that should not be spoken of. Kind of like not mentioning Fight Club.

      • John Carpenter

        ‘Sure and that’s why I said ” reduction in coal use in favor of
        natural gas.” in the comment you are replying to.’

        Sorry about that, I was skimming too fast… My bad.

      • WHT – I would argue that small nuclear reactors are a superior energy source for the extraction of tar sands.

      • WebHubTelescope | August 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

        Natural gas converts more oxygen into H2O. You forget the importance of oxygen; because preoccupied by molesting CO2. Oxygen is the best insulator between the surface and the unlimited coldness up there. The moon doesn’t have it. Oxygen, as extra water molecules is not needed in the sea, but extra CO2 + O in the atmosphere is essential for everything living. Start thinking what you talk, moron

      • “stefanthedenier | August 24, 2012 at 12:12 am |

        Start thinking what you talk, moron”

        He’s one of your guys, climate skeptics. How proud you must be.

      • WebHubTelescope | August 18, 2012 at 1:07 am

        CO2 produced by smoking marijuana produces greenhouse, GLOBAL warmings / sea rising, inside the Green People’s lungs.

        Many punks adopted the philosophy from the hippies – now we have the phony GLOBAL warming. If you are using the wacky tobacy, half is forgiven; explains why some people are hallucinating global warmings – doppamine suppose to be a hallucinative… starting to make sense of your ideology…

      • WebHubTelescope | August 25, 2012 at 11:18 pm said: ”He’s one of your guys, climate skeptics. How proud you must be”

        Telescope, comparing me with Plimer’s excrement; is defamatory. I have NEVER being ”skeptical about climatic changes” Anybody ”skeptical” about climatic changes needs a straight jacket. I don’t believe in any phony GLOBAL warmings. Truckloads of phony GLOBAL warmings are pouring out of the ”Fake Skeptic’s” ears.

        Fakes that are debating about decreasing the ”essential CO2” are the Warmist’s Geldings – Warmist are riding on the Fake’s backs, minus the Fakes = Warmist are gone / leading Warmist would have being in jail by now; if it wasn’t for the Plimer’s dysentery in the blogosphere. Everyone of them is made up of up to 25% of carbon; but they are debating how to minimize it…? To dignify the Warmist lies…Chop a chunk of your own rump, deviates! Instead of rejoicing for having a bit extra CO2, for growing extra trees and crops… the Fakes are sniffing around the galaxy, under the rocks and in the Warmist crevices, for the non-existent ”missing heat” I DON’T WANT TO BE CLASSIFIED WITH THAT HUMAN EXCREMENT, they are suffering from the same honesty famine as you

        If they don’t have enough honesty, to get the correct informations from my blog – I shouldn’t be put together with the Warmist roles of toilet paper! I object!!! Telescope, don’t compare me with the Plimer’s Zombies, they don’t want to learn about the importance of oxygen. Burning coal, turns oxygen into the essential CO2 – feeds the trees, crops with carbon and the oxygen is released again in the air. Burning gas is turning oxygen into water molecules = less oxygen. Comparing me with your Geldings, is not fair, I”ll keep a record of those accusations. People on the street need to see that: you are defending the Fake Skeptics / and the Fakes are defending the Warmist, from me

        .

      • STD,
        All the climate skeptics are so very proud of you.

    • Apparently Web doesn’t grasp the concept of organizational culture. Whatever. The hippy riff was funny anyway. The college-know-it-all hippies have all the answers, but Cartman has the solution.

  4. Indeed, if there is a single message that sums up all of Sagarin’s work, it’s that organisms realized long ago that the world is a much less predictable place than humans would like to believe.

    Actually, they didn’t “realize” anything. This strategy, if you want to call it that, is the method that won out in an evolutionary competition. Chaos produced the best method to deal with chaos.

    • The only way that you can logically (and meaningfully) attribute natural selection to chaos is by making an pre factum assumption that it is in fact chaotic; the argument is inherently and necessarily circular. Note that the absence of an explanation indicates a state of not knowing, not a state of chaos.

      Personally (opinion, not assertion), I am deeply suspicious that the complexity and resilience of life’s ability to adapt indicates an order for which we do not have understanding or language. Stars cannot and do run away from black holes. Yet, octopi can hide, squirt ink, change color and swim away from attackers. Throwing a blanket concept like chaos over the whole mess obscures the issue substantially, in much the same way that the statement “And here there be dragons” obscured geography in Medieval times.

  5. This provides another excellent explanation of why we should not waste our wealth and opportunities in high cost, economically damaging, carbon pricing policies – especially so since such policies almost certainly will not control the climate or sea levels.

    • Indeed, we direly need an explanation of why we should not waste, damage, or do something over something we have no control.

  6. “Just as importantly, Sagarin discovered what it is that organisms don’t do. In general, they don’t plan, predict or try to be perfect. When Sagarin tells this to the members of strategic planning departments in government agencies, it leads to “a lot of consternation and grinding of teeth,” in part because it’s so counter-intuitive.”

    No animal has central planners.
    Central planning can be an human advantage.

    Problem is power corrupts.

    Animals don’t have the problem with power corrupting-
    it’s human problem.
    Basically humans assign other humans to make
    various plans. Animals don’t.
    So this is granting power to certain people.
    And as I said the problem is people given power tend to abuse this
    duty and/or privilege.
    Reality itself imposes limits to any person [king] granted
    certain powers. But also the people have limits which they impose
    on any governing body [and they must impose certain limits].

    A fundamental problem with power is people confuse
    office with themselves. They don’t understand the abstract
    concept [or don’t want to understand].

    Also all people will tend to steal if they believe their
    is no consequent. Btw, another abstract concept that animals
    don’t have- the idea of property.
    And of course humans are a far superior creature than animals- but we should and do learn from animals.

    But the fact that animals don’t have central planning [other something
    like queen bee and her controlling her sisters]. And I am not saying animals don’t dominate other animals- I am saying they don’t plan for them.
    Which also problem with say city planner assume they task is to dominate and control others- who have a right to order people around. Who needs that?
    But humans are an animal- and politicians tend to behave as though they were dogs.

    So the social mechanism that allows things like central planner has include a checks on their power.
    And generally they shouldn’t get to into too much of habit with their job, and they needs to consequences for any thieving they may be tempted to engage in.
    And finally the people grant power to the clowns should grasps that
    those elected are people with probably huge failings and don’t give them too trust or power. Humor them, but don’t overly indulge them.

    • +

    • gbaikie | August 17, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      Animals don’t use ”LOADED COMMENTS” to con. They would never lie that ”it was resent GLOBAL warming” Animals would never deceive that: the imaginary GLOBAL warming of ”90% possibility, in 100years from now; already is doing damages, by remote control. Animals know that ice on the polar caps is made from ”water vapor” Animals don’t plan, how to tell lies

  7. I think few people realize how vulnerable our critical systems are. A quest for efficiency, by government or by market actors, leads to a lack of redundancy. We have a just-in-time society where our food, water, and other critical supplies would vanish in days if any of a number of sudden “black swan” events were to transpire – whether an especially virulent pandemic, an EMP attack, an unusually strong coronal mas sejection, or the kind of sudden social cataclysms that mark civilizations history.

    We do need to plan, but we don’t build for the un-planned. Unlike the octopi, we don’t want to feel the cruel reapers of evolution.

    Nice article.

    • mesocyclone,

      Your list makes a good point. Why are we focused on CO2 to the exclusion of all other major risks. You mentioned these:

      – especially virulent pandemic,
      – an EMP attack,
      – an unusually strong coronal mas sejection,
      – or the kind of sudden social cataclysms that mark civilizations history.

      The World Economic Forum publishes ‘Global Risks’ every five years or so. ‘Global Risks 2012’ was released recently.

      It is well worth reading. AGW is not one of the highest risks.
      http://reports.weforum.org/global-risks-2012/#/=&=
      (I prefer the pdf version but start with the on-line version)

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang

        It is well worth reading. AGW is not one of the highest risks.

        I think that being in the top 5 or 6 counts as “one of the highest risks” according to the citation you have chosen. It is only lower than the other because it is more uncertain, and it is also relevant to at least three of the other top 5 risks (water, food issues and income disparity).

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        Global Risks 2012 http://reports.weforum.org/global-risks-2012/#/=&=

        It would seem you are reading into it what you want to read into it. GHG emissions does not rank in the top ten on Impact (see Figure 2). It is headed by four major economic risks, two societal risks, three geopolitical risks and one technological risk.

        Box 1 is interesting. ‘Environmental Risks’ did not rate in the top five on either Likelihood or Impact before 2011. In 2011, it suddenly filled four of the top five rankings on Likelihood and was second on Impact. In 2012 it ranks third on Likelihood and is not included in top five on Impact.

        This reinforces the view that these risk are based on the public perception generated by the CAGW alarmists. I expect we’ll be well and truly over the Alarmist’s hype by next year. Then we can get rational.

      • + +

      • Did you just stop reading when you got to a line you agreed with, or did you start at the line that popped up to your attention like a cherry to pick?

        Have a look at Figure 7, and the interconnectedness of GHE to the major key Risk Factors. Take down that one Risk Contributor, and you reduce the overall global Risk level up to 70%. That’s pretty major.

      • Bart R,

        I read the whole report when it cam out, and have reread parts from time to time. Have you read it? I suspect not. If you did you read it with through the perspective of your ideological beliefs.

      • Peter Lang | August 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm |

        Well, as my ideology is skepticism, and the appropriate test of reading is understanding, and of understanding is application, then as you assert you’ve read and reread the whole report, by all means, please, demonstrate mathematically what the global reduction of Risk would be were the Risk from Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions relieved? Please show your work.

        I’m familiar with most common methods of Management Science, so no need to be shy about using advanced terminology and methods. And as I’m a skeptic as much of my own views as those of anyone else, don’t be afraid of hurting my feelings.

        Go ahead. Prove you understand what you said. With Math. If you can.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        Why aren’t you more scared, more alarmist and advocating irrational policies to mitigate the higher risks?

        I bet you don’t even know what they are, do you?

        Your lack on interest in the higher risks shows how irrational and lacking in objectivity you are.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang, traditionally, the measure of a risk is the measure of its impact multiplied by the measure of its likelihood. On that basis, it is in the top 5 or 6.

        Combining the two measures essentially forces you to choose the mid-range judgements of the impact and likelihood. In reality, the potential impact of AGW could be judged to be much higher but equally, the likelihood of the impact would then be judged to be lower.

        A basic Health and Safety course would teach you this.

        Why aren’t you more scared, more alarmist and advocating irrational policies to mitigate the higher risks?

        The only reason you think I advocate is because you take challenges to your firmly held opinions as being advocacy of the exact opposite of what you believe.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        The only reason you think I advocate is because you take challenges to your firmly held opinions as being advocacy of the exact opposite of what you believe.

        No that’s not it. The reason is that

        – you BS about stuff you know next to nothing about
        – can’t admit when you are wrong or don’t know what you are talking about
        – you advocate economically irrational policies
        – you won’t answer question that would help you to learn and allow you to understand why what you advocate is irrational (such as about “dangerous deadly” slag at Windscale
        – you continually repeat the anti-nuclear an pro renewable rhetoric propagated by Greenpeace etc,

        There is a strong case for what I’ve advocated. It is obviously so strong and convincing then neither you nor any of the other CAGW Alarmists is prepared to engage in discussing it. You make silly, diversionary comments (like Windscale and many more) to avoid admitting the bleeding obvious.

        When are going to admit that:

        – carbon pricing is not a viable policy to cut global emissions

        – nuclear is about the safest of all electricity generation technologies? http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html

        – nuclear is the least cost way to reduce emissions even with the present monolithic technology

        – nuclear could be by far the least cost way to reduce global emissions

        – nuclear could provide the fastest way to reduce global emissions by a significant amount,

        – nuclear could potentially account for up to about 50% of reductions by 2050

        – all of argument is entirely ideologically focuses; the fact you focus on one risk (CO2) – and not the highest risk (which ever way you try to squirm), – shows how lacking in objectivity you are.

        You are a joke. You have no integrity. You are a typical example of the alarmists who are doing so much damage now and have done so much damage in their past scaremongering (such as the anti-nuclear activism, pro renewables activism and the activism that caused the DDT ban).

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        You’ve avoided answering these nine question three times now, why would that be? Could it be that you’d have to admit how baseless your beliefs are and how you’ve been misled by your ideology – and what and whom you choose to take notice of.

        Instead of me answering for the nth time your comments about Windscale, Fukushima and others, I’d urge again you to attempt to answer these questions I asked before. If you do attempt to answer them honestly, you will definitely learn a lot and getter a proper perspective on costs and risks. Picking out Greenpeace anti-nuclear talking points instead of looking objectively at the important comparisons is keeping your brain locked in anti-nuclear, scaremongering thinking. I’d urge you again to challenge your beliefs. Have a genuine go at answering these questions (I’ve answered yours repeatedly, but you have not yet answered these, other than by obfuscation) Here are the questions (again):

        1. How long have we had nuclear power and how many reactor-years of experience do we have with commercial nuclear power operation? (hint: 56 years and 15,000 reactor years of operation).

        2. In that time, how many people have been killed, fatally injured or made sick by radioactive waste?

        3. What is the toxicity of radioactive waste compared with the toxicity of highly toxic chemicals?

        4. How long does radioactive waste last and compare that with the life of the toxic chemicals?

        5. How much radioactive waste have we produced so far and how much toxic chemical waste have we produced so far?

        6. Where is the toxic chemical waste? (hint dispersed in the environment all over the world

        7. Where is the nuclear waste? Held in canisters like this http://www.yankeerowe.com/http://www.nukeworker.com/pictures/displayimage-94-5205.html#top_display_media (by the way, those 16 canisters contain all the used fuel from 31 years of operation and 34 TWh of electricity supplied at a life time capacity factor of 74%; the Yankee Rowe plant has been totally decommissioned: http://www.yankeerowe.com/ .

        8. Got any wind or solar farms with a record like that?

        9. Who in their right mind would want to get rid of the once used nuclear fuel, given it still has 99% of its useable energy remaining for use in the next generation of reactors?

        If you don’t attempt to answer them honestly, it is a sure sign you are more interested in pushing your ideological beliefs than in wanting to do anything about mitigation.

      • I am a strong supporter of nuclear power and wind farms – anyhting to reduce the CO2 we emit when generating electricity. However, I am starting to realise that nuclear power also has availability issues, especially in a warming world:

        “Warm seawater forces Conn. nuclear plant shutdown”

        http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-13/warm-seawater-forces-conn-dot-nuclear-plant-shutdown

      • Louise,

        You raise the often stated concerns about cooling of nuclear power stations. It is purely a design and cost issue.

        If you want more cooling you design for it. It is not a big deal at all. The engineers who did the original designs for the plants would have optimised the costs. That is they would have designed the plant to provide cheaper electricity throughout the life of the plant by designing it for say 99% of condiotions, but not 100%. That is, it is expected it will occasionally have to be shut down or reduce power in times of hot water. If we want to operate in rare higher tempt events, we design more cooling. Just like with a car’s radiator.

        By the way, nuclear power plants can also use sea water cooling or air cooling, just like coal plants do. Nuclear plants are slightly less efficient that coal plants (say 34% efficient versus 38% efficient), so they require a little more cooling water (or air) for the same amount of electricity generated.

        One of the major advantages of nuclear over coal is that nuclear plants can be located on the coast or on large bodies of water whereas coal plants need to be sited near the coal mines. The reason is because nuclear fuel is very cheap to transport whereas coal is expensive to transport (the reason being that it takes 20,000 tonnes of coal to provide the same amount of energy as 1 tonne of nuclear fuel).

        I hope this removes this concern.

      • Peter – not really as this plant was shut down because the sea was too warm to use it as a coolant.

        If AGW continues to warm the seas, as I think it will, presumably this will happen more and more. The cost of this mitigation will rise and so too will the cost of the electricity produced.

        I don’t believe this increased cost and/or complexity in design is being considered when people claim nuclear power will be the solution to all of our problems.

        To me it once again demonstrates that we should have a mix of power solutions that include wind, solar, nuclear, tidal, biomass, etc whilst reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

        Any argument that tries to claim that any one of these non-fossil fuel solutions is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than the others is just crass. They each have a role to play.

      • Based on the news it’s difficult to judge the real reason for the shutting down. A small reduction in the power should certainly to be enough from the technical point of view to compensate the effects of warmer cooling water. Therefore it appears likely that the issue is in the way the safety regulations have been formulated. If there’s a strict rule that forbids operation when the water temperature exceeds 75F that may be the explanation.

      • This news seems to confirm that it’s a licensing issue rather than a real technical issue although it’s noted that some changes in the equipment might be needed.

      • Louise,

        As I said, its just a design issue. If we want to run the plants in warmer waters, it’s simply a matter of designing a greater cooling capacity. It’s no big deal. Its just a cost optimisation issue. Do people want to pay more for electricity throughout the life of the plant on the chance that once once of 50 years (or what ever you want to choose) the plant will have to reduce power output or shut down. It’s just a cost trade off. It’s what don;e in engineering all the time.

      • Pekka Pirila,

        Excellent point which highlights again the costs being imposed on society by bad and excessive regulations. Even if this is not a case of bad and excessive regulations, there are many cases of bad and excessive regulations that are driving the cost of nuclear through the roof. And there is no equivalent regulations for other generation technologies, despite the fact they cause far more fatalities per TWh of energy generated.

        While all the other technologies have been able to compete and develop on the basis of producing the least cost electricity (for the various niche requirements in the electricity market) nuclear has been severely hamstrung. That is what we need to get over. I’ve suggested how here: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230274

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang

        – you BS about stuff you know next to nothing about

        Did you misunderstand Nordhaus’s quote about fat-tail dominance? Did you fail to understand that you cannot compare Nordhaus’s numbers with the Australian assessment if you don’t first correct for the differing assumptions? Did you fail to understand that a measure of risk is a combination of impact *and* likelihood? Do you not understand that it is the wider public that needs to be convinced of the low level risk of nuclear contamination, not me?

        I’ve pointed out these things to you, but rather than acknowledging your errors and thanking me for clarifying your lack of understanding, you’ve simply ignored them and repeated your original posts.

        I’ve found that one doesn’t need to be an expert in order to pop the balloon of self-importance of an inflexible armchair advocate.

        There is a strong case for what I’ve advocated. It is obviously so strong and convincing then neither you nor any of the other CAGW Alarmists is prepared to engage in discussing it.

        This quote encapsulates you very well.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        I’ve previously put to bed all that nonsense.

        Why have you have not yet responded to the questions here (other than by obfuscation):

        Why do you continually avoid answering these questions?: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230188

        And why doont you answer this question?:

        Why aren’t you more scared, more alarmist and advocating irrational policies to mitigate the higher risks?

        I bet you don’t even know what they are, do you?

        Your lack on interest in the higher risks shows how irrational and lacking in objectivity you are.

        When are going to admit that:
        – carbon pricing is not a viable policy to cut global emissions
        – nuclear is about the safest of all electricity generation technologies? http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html
        – nuclear is the least cost way to reduce emissions even with the present monolithic technology
        – nuclear could be by far the least cost way to reduce global emissions
        – nuclear could provide the fastest way to reduce global emissions by a significant amount,
        – nuclear could potentially account for up to about 50% of reductions by 2050

        The fact you focus on one risk (CO2) – and not the highest risk (whichever way you try to squirm), – shows how lacking in objectivity you are.

        If you can’t or won’t answer my questions, there is little point in throwing more abuse. I am totally used to this practice by CAGW alarmists and socially ‘Progressives’.

    • Peter Lang,

      “Focused on CO2 to the exclusion of all other major risks” ? ?

      Just to take the first item on your list, you’re saying medical facilities the world over have been shut down? All the resources used to support teams who monitor such things as new strains of flu have been withdrawn and transferred to climate research?

      The Japanese are now taking the view that ‘lightning can’t strike twice in the same place’ and have decided to scrap the work they were doing on tsunami prediction?

      The CIA have stopped worrying about Al Qaeda, they’ve either sacked all their operatives or paid for their retraining as climate scientists?

      My wife thinks its a waste of time getting involved with you guys. She thinks you talk such rubbish. I’m not sure why.

  8. lurker passing through, laughing

    Reasonable planning is one of of the reasons we dominate life on Earth.
    Unfortunately, climate extremists are not reasonable and confuse their obsession on CO2 with planning and prediction.

  9. I think everyone should agree that making plans based on the current climate just continuing is a mistake, given that things change, sometimes unpredictably, sometimes very predictably. Building in redundancy and sustainability especially where water, energy and food resources are involved, is always wise. It is also a mistake to think this is to be left to the future as some changes are already becoming clear, such as the depletion of natural aquifers for agriculture in parts of the world, and the competition between agriculture and urban areas for limited water in other areas. Not just climate change, but population growth and economic development ensure that the strain on resources is happening now and will surely continue to get worse without adequate planning.

  10. Indeed, if there is a single message that sums up all of Sagarin’s work, it’s that organisms realized long ago that the world is a much less predictable place than humans would like to believe.

    Who predicted the tsunami disaster in Japan? No one. It swiped every house on its path like a matchbox=>
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovGtbp9upz0&feature=related

    They are religiously committed to pushing the CO2 mitigation agenda, even though the observed data of the last 162 years does not show any change in the climate pattern due to the increase in CO2 concentration => http://bit.ly/Aei4Nd

  11. So, as we get older, like the octopus, we have this modern version of ink…?

  12. Better an octopus than a proverbial ostrich.

    • Jim D | August 18, 2012 at 1:01 am said: ”Better an octopus than a proverbial ostrich”

      Jim D, does that mean that you are prepared to change your ostrich tactic?

      If you didn’t use your ostrich tactic until now, you would have learned a lot from my comments – instead, you are still the same bigot as you were last year. Closed brains is same as an open beer bottle = empty and sour

  13. Uh.. Octopuses have an equivalent infant mortality rate, compared to humans, of roughly 99%.

    While I’m sure it’s a fun analogy, and a learning opportunity, I’m not going to go overly gaga about the metaphor.

    • Lurking?
      Looking, from a crevasse,
      a dark hole, wherein rests its softness,
      this mollusk plans not………
      ….
      apologies to Beowulf

  14. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
        — Dwight Eisenhower
    ——-
    The end is not yet clearly in sight but victory is certain.
        — George Marshall, 1943

    There’s a reasoning why “the planning ape” is also “the dominant ape”, eh?   :)   :)   :)

    • k scott denison

      There’s a reasoning why “the planning ape” is also “the dominant ape”, eh?      
      ———
      Yep, you are right. Too bad, though, that there are always a few “planning apes” who must think apocalyptically because of their ability to plan. Their type of planning is often futile, expensive, and the cause of real tragedy.

  15. Let’s take it as read that we can learn a lot from natural selection. Still let’s not fall into the naturalistic fallacy. There is much in nature that is a great waste of resources and, if you apply our own moral ideas to it, bad as well.

    For instance, consider this:

    “Be redundant. Many species spawn an overabundance of offspring to improve their chances of survival.”

    Is this really a strategy we humans want to adopt from nature? I could elaborate the negative consequences of pursuing this, but that would be gratuitous. But it is a good example of the kind of thing that is just fine out in the world of the red-in-tooth-and-claw but questionable in our human world–not least because of utilitarian thinking about aggregate happiness, which conjures up–gasp–a planning problem.

    For another example, are forests optimally designed? No of course not: They waste trunk length at a most alarming rate. This is the outcome of an adaptive prisoner’s dilemma, in which aggregate resources spent by the species making up the forest could be much lower BUT that is not an equilibrium. Every individual benefits by deviating from the proposed plan that “everyone is short,” so a thrifty short forest is no equilibrium.

    Is that the kind of blind adaptation without any planning that we want to imitate?

    Nature is ok but she’s a long, LONG way from being a cost minimizer or a happiness maximizer. Fine to pick up some ideas from her, but Gaia’s blind watchmaking is no overarching recipe for human happiness or excellence.

    Include me out on this idea.

    • “” Many species spawn an overabundance of offspring to improve their chances of survival.” Is this really a strategy we humans want to adopt from nature?”

      Nat, that has long been a human strategy, having large families knowing that many children will die but some will survive to spread your genes and support you when you are old and infirm. The strategy has only changed with the advent of widespread wealth through industrialisation, with births per mother falling sharply as prosperity increases. Not adopted from nature, but nature as manifested by humans.

      • Strongest correlation is between mother’s level of education and births per mother. If we’re serious about tackling population growth, the most effective (and humane) way of doing so is to educate girls.

        Education of boys does not show as strong a correlation.

      • Yes, and educating girls in countries which don’t is a good way to increase human productivity and adaptability (as well as having other benefits). A bigger issue for me than CO2 emissions reduction.

      • A very progressive suggested solution

      • ” the most effective (and humane) way of doing so is to educate girls.”

        Yes, us progressives do believe in exactly this.

        Peter Lang, pls take note before using the term ‘progressive’ in a disparaging manner.

  16. Alex Heyworth

    Knowledge is power.
    Power corrupts.
    Corruption is a crime.
    Crime doesn’t pay.

    Therefore, the more I know the poorer I get.

  17. So in his analogy on foreign policy, I take it the U.S. military is the anemone and Europe it the clown fish?

    Just kidding folks.

  18. Dr. Curry,

    I am not sure I understand this comment.

    “Building our adaptive capacity and imagining black swan scenarios seem like a much better bet than putting all our eggs in the CO2 mitigation strategy tied projections of future climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2.”

    “All our eggs?” Should we put half our eggs in mitigation? Three quarters? A tenth? Or are you advocating a rejection of mitigation/decarbonization in toto as a proper goal of public policy?

    Would a half measure of mitigation make any sense, given the risk that even full scale adoption of the policy by the west may well not have a noticeable effect, even assuming the CAGW predictions were true?

    • Mitigation makes sense as long as it is economically rational to do so. Carbon pricing, mandating high cost policies like renewable energy, and blocking the development of nuclear are irrational policies.

      Should we put half our eggs in mitigation? Three quarters? A tenth?

      None if ‘the cure will be worse than the disease’. And the cure will be worse than the desease with the mitigation policies being advocated by the vociferous promoters of catastrophe.

      • Peter Lang,

        Yes, I understand and agree with the skeptical position on mitigation. My question was directed to Dr. Curry because I was curious whether she was taking a definitive stand against mitigation. The comment I quoted could be interpreted two ways, and I was just interested in a clarification of her position.

        I have understood her position to be in favor of adaptation and further research, but I don’t recall seeing an outright rejection of decarbonization policies (ie. cap and trade, carbon taxes, the EPA endangerment finding, etc.) by her before. Nor am I sure her comment constitutes such a rejection – thus my question of her.

      • Peter Lang,

        Isn’t the reduction of CO2 emissions more a case of prevention?

        A cure would possibly occur if future generations realise that CO2 levels are too high and need to be expensively reduced.

        The disease is what would happen if they don’t have the resources to do that.

        So the correct phrase, to describe mitigation, would be “prevention is better than a cure”. Most cures are actually better than the disease, as you’ll know if you’ve ever visited your dentist with toothache, but that’s not the issue at the present time.

      • TT,

        The cure proposed by the CAGW alarmists is high cost mitigation polices, such as carbon pricing. These policies, if implemented, would almost certainly fail to control the climate or sea levels

        So the cure is high cost and won’t work.

        The ‘disease’, we are led to believe by the CAGW alarmists, is dangerous or catastrophic climate change and sea level rise (and other deadly, dangerous copnsequences they dream up from time to time to scare the population into doing what these people want).

        But you don’t have to despair, as I’ve pointed out on previous threads, there is an economically rational approach that will allow us to improve human wellbeing throughout the world (i.e. improve not restrict the global economy) and cut emissions as well.

        To make progress we have to get the CAGW Alarmists to realise the mitigation policies they are pushing are the wrong ones.

        To see just how much better this policy is than carbon pricing see a separate comment I’ll post below. It shows:

        According to Nordhaus (2008) “A Question of Balance” the ‘cost competitive alternative to carbon pricing’ policy (called Low-cost backstop policy’) is far better than the ‘Optimal carbon price’ policy. In fact, it is better by 3 times, 5 times, 5 times and 49 times for Benefits, Abatement cost, Net Benefit, and Implied Carbon Tax rate.

      • What is this “low-cost backstop”?

        Its a pie-in-the-sky policy based on a hypothetical low-cost technology for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere assuming that such a technology will become available at some unspecified future date. According to Nordhaus, this technology might include “low-cost solar power, geothermal energy, some nonintrusive climatic engineering, or genetically engineered carbon-eating trees”.

        Or it might not.

        You can’t just assume. It’s yet another excuse for doing nothing right now about the climate.

      • k scott denison

        TT, in this case the prevention is akin to a vaccine that we know, with high certainty, will kill a significant percentage of those we give it to (i.e. many people).

        And the disease is one where we have very little certainty it will show up, very little certainty it will kill anyone at some unknown time in the future, and there may well be ways to adapt so that even if it shows up no one is killed. Yet, a few folks believe if left untreated or unprevented will kill millions and based on this belief are pushing to vaccinate all, now.

        So I would characterize your position as this: you support the almost certain killing of many today in order to prevent a disease that may not manifest at a time sometime in the future and might not be a killer even if it did.

      • …+

      • I don’t understand how not doing something can actually kill anyone. Humans have evolved in an atmosphere containing much lower levels of C02 than we measure at present. So how is it going to harm them if we keep it low?

      • k scott denison

        TT, the availability of inexpensive energy is a key to any population’s health. Driving energy cost up artificially, through subsidies of inefficient type of generation, and through carbon taxes, will result in deaths due to things like lack of availability of clean water, vaccines too expensive to administer, lack of heating and cooling, etc

      • K Scott Denison,

        Firstly we are talking about CO2 emissions. Not energy usage. There is a difference.

        Leaving that point aside, do you have a reference to show a strong correlation between CO2 emissions (or, if you insist, energy usage) and population health?

        I guess you’d like to stick to the worlds poorest countries, and compare them to the USA or Australia, to make your case. But this is a severe oversimplification. Lets look at some other comparisons:

        Western Europeans pay more for their energy than Americans. They use less of it and emit less C02. Yet their longevity is greater.

        Even comparing the longevity of people in quite a poor country like Cuba, a very low CO2 emitter, with those in a rich country like the USA, a very high CO2 emitter, shows that there doesn’t have to be any direct link between health and CO2 emissions.

        Another way of putting it would be to say that a typical western lifestyle, as we’ve come to know it in recent times, isn’t necessarily a healthy lifestyle.

      • k scott denison

        TT, sure. This article:

        http://www.spe.org/jpt/print/archives/1999/05/JPT1999_05_management.pdf

        Shows the strong correlation between energy and GDP and between GDP and health. Enjoy.

      • k scott denison

        TT says : “I don’t understand how not doing something can actually kill anyone.”

        Another rather obvious example: Not using DDT has certainly resulted in many millions of deaths.

      • K Scott Denison,

        Lets come back to DDT later. You’ve said that I ” support the almost certain killing of many today”.

        You’re reference doesn’t show that at all. For instance the French live 2.5 years longer than do Americans.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

        French CO2 emissions are approximately 1/3 of those of the USA on a per capita basis. They manage, at least as far as I know, to find enough electricity to produce clean water, refrigerate vaccines, keep themselves warm etc etc.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

        There is nothing about releasing CO2 into the atmosphere that, per se, keeps anyone healthy. If there were, we could all extend our lives by burning huge amounts of coal just for the sake of it.

      • k scott denison

        TT, cherry picking again? Now why would France, with all that nuclear power generation have such low emissions?

        Now, tell me about Africa.

      • KSD,

        If the French can have low emissions then so can everyone else. Why not? That’s what I’ve always argued. Its a high tech low CO2 future. I’m in agreement with James Hansen about nuclear power.

      • TT

        Selective quoting again. I’ve already addressed that tactic in a previous comment.

        Low cost backstop refers to a ”

        cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels

        We have the opportunity to provide that with nuclear power (and cut fatalities from electricity generation by over a million per year by 2050, and provide secure and reliable energy for all nations).

        But the foolish “Progressives” are blocking progress and have been for 50 years or so.

        It’s yet another excuse for doing nothing right now about the climate.

        Wrong. It is the ‘Progressives’ that are blocking progress and have been for at least 50 years. They advocate economically irrational policies, that only a minority of elitists will support, like:

        world government
        more taxes
        more wealth redistribution
        more bureaucracy
        more regulation (to block progress and block innovation)

        The ‘Progressives’ have blocked nuclear power for 50 years. That is what is blocking progress.

        You and others arguing for carbon pricing, which clearly will not work (evidence the failures of the Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban, Rio+20 conferences/fiascoes), are what are blocking progress. Surely any objective person can see that pricing carbon is not a viable solution.

        It’s very clear that the ‘Progressives’ are not really interested in rational policies to cut GHG emissions. It is clear their interest lies is in progressing their ‘Progressive’ policy agenda.

      • Peter Lang,

        What’s wrong with being “progressive”? We all would like to make progress in whatever we do. What’s the alternative? To be regressive?

        World government? Who’s calling for that? Certainly not those of us who happen to be not quite so reactionary as you seem to be are in favour of world government. If anything those of a centre-left disposition tend to support independence for any national group who demands it. I’m thinking of the Palestinians, the Kurds, the Tibetans etc. It’s really quite the opposite of what you claim.

        I think I’ve answered you point about nuclear power industry previously. Their biggest two problems are:
        1) they have previously also been used as cover, and allowed themselves to be used, for those who are more interested in nuclear weapons than nuclear power.
        2) The fossil fuel industry who don’t want the competition.

        The era since the end of the second world war has seen, in the western world, an historic alliance between capitalism and the “progressive” forces you seem to despise. It’s not perfect, but its a good deal better, and much more democratic than anything the world has seen previously.

      • Tempt, Progressive = Loss of Freedom. Loss of freedom is immoral, i.e. progressives are ……….

      • Except that nearly everyone in the western world is now much freer than any previous generation. I’ve never been threatened with conscription, and I didn’t come from a wealthy family, the “progressive” government even paid for my uni education. I was given a textbook, previous generations were given rifles and kit bags.
        If that’s government oppression, I’m all for it.

  19. I agree that having an adaptable strategy is a strong defense against many problems from terrorism to climate change, but not for the reasons Sagarin listed.

    There’s a reason humans rule the earth and octopi don’t – because of our ability to plan. And so far it’s been working very well.

    In fact the only thing we really need adaptability for is black swan scenarios, because the nature of black swan scenarios are that they are too rare to plan for.

    At the end of the day it comes to this – we are not octopi, and I would have us go far out of our way to prevent the loss of even one human life. Of course as a species we are young, and have not yet learned how to entirely prevent death from disease, war, natural disasters, and a whole host of other things – biting we are making great strides. I think the best we can do is have a variety of countermeasures in place (including adaptability), and besides that focus the bulk on our efforts on increasing the economy, which would lead to more time and money spent on technology and science, which will lead to even better defenses against the unpredictability in our world. In other words, exactly what we are doing.

    • Adam

      You wrote- “I would have us go far out of our way to prevent the loss of even one human life.”

      But in fact we never “prevent” the loss of a human life. Our actions only influence when a person dies and we judge whether that was a positive or negative result based on our perspective of the situation

  20. Joe's World(evolutionary progress)

    Judith,

    It is very much a predictable world IF you stop ignoring many areas of evidence and physical properties.
    I can project the future from the past BUT ONLY if I study many, many areas to understand the complexity.

    We have benign areas such as LOD(light of day) that seemed to have missed a rotating planet.
    We have oscillations theories yet missed the planetary tilting.
    Velocity differences alone give a far more complex system of energy balances…but that is facts and NOT theories…

  21. Predicting future is for clairvoyant.
    ‘Predicting’ the past is for science :

    How do they compare?
    AMO – Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation 1700-2000
    M. Mann – AMO reconstruction
    C. Proctor – NW Scotland Rainfall
    M. Vukcevic – Geomagnetic Oscillations
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AMO-recon.htm

    • Joe's World(evolutionary progress)

      vukcevic,

      It is ONLY relevant to our species…nothing else matters to evolution.

    • vukcevic | August 18, 2012 at 3:51 am said: ”Predicting future is for clairvoyant.Predicting’ the past is for science ”:

      Predicting the past for the WHOLE planet from English temp / rainfall, is for the lowest lever con artist and shameless, compulsive liars

  22. A lot of debate on CAGW revolves around appropriate responses. Many proponents of CAGW are wedded to centralised, state-directed, responses. Many, like me, argue for more flexible and decentralised policies which enhance our capacity to respond positively to whatever befalls in an uncertain world. Sagarin, who draws on natural world responses to develop US policies, seems to have come to similar conclusions to me from a very different direction.

  23. The analogy between the adaptation in nature and the actions of humans would be much closer if our only concern would be the survival of the human species.

    The analogy breaks badly because our goals are much more demanding and much more diverse than mere survival of the species.

    Human societies and also individuals adapt naturally through a multitude of mechanisms. Trying to understand how adaptation always influences the development is important and all too often given less emphasis than it deserves. It’s also a difficult issue to study and it’s importance may often be underestimated for lack of understanding rather than for willful ignorance.

    This is perhaps the most important point that I started to write about on my site – but regrettably continuing on that line would have required more effort that I have so far put in continuing to write new postings.

    • Joe's World(evolutionary progress)

      Pekka,

      A great deal you have to comment on is well respected by many of us.
      You adapt with the knowledge you gain.

      This is NOT the path of our current scientists who forgo knowledge enhancement for monetary or political status.
      This then effects the correctness of our knowledge base of having accuracy.
      Complexity of our planet is far, far greater than the current scientists can comprehend as it is NOT in their individual fields of study and knowledge.

  24. Call me a “precautionist”, if you like, but I’d say, on the question of a particular human activity, that the minimisation of risk of acquiring STDs is paramount. Living a life which is dependent on swallowing a daily cocktail of expensive anti-viral drugs just doesn’t appeal. Not to me anyway.

    Ok, ‘safe-sex’ may not be quite as much fun, and there are costs attached, but in this case, mitigation is somewhat preferable to adaptation. IMHO.

    There are those who may disagree. They’d say the science wasn’t settled and the consensus position was all wrong. They may well argue that octopuses don’t use condoms so why should they? Most sensible people though would think that bringing octopuses into it was a barmy argument.

    • +1

    • Joe's World(evolutionary progress)

      tempterrain,

      It is all in how you play the current “game”.
      I am still adapting to this game which is totally by policies that have to be followed no matter how asinine that path of knowledge has been set up, you have to stay in the boundaries of this game.

      Trying a totally different tactic of wording differences so…Velocity mapping now becomes velocity modeling…

      See what I am getting at?
      Current scientists boxed themselves into their own individual areas so that if their research drifts into another area, they stop. Which is contrary to following science areas to their conclusion which in many cases takes many areas of knowledge due to the vast complexity of involvement.

    • k scott denison

      TT, that we should take action to prevent STDs is, of course, quite appropriate. However, using STDs as an analogy for the climate is simply not an accurate analogy.

      Here’s where it goes wrong: we know, with certainty, the following: 1) that STDs lead to deaths; 2) how STDs are transmitted; 3) how to prevent the transmission of STDs; 4) how to treat STDs; and, 5) that treatment is more expensive than the prevention.

      None of thes five are true for our understanding of the climate, although there are some analyses that show that unlike for STDs, the treatment for changes driven by the climate (i.e. adaption) are very likely much less expensive than the proposed very expensive, and uncertain, suggestions for “prevention”. For example, we know what it would cost to build sea walls against rising seal level – we know this from past experience; we do not know, with any certainty, that reducing some or all CO2 emissions will have any effect on sea level.

      If I were to apply the advice from your STD analogy to potential impacts from climate, it tells me we should adapt, not “prevent”. Choose the more certain, lower cost option.

      • Excellent response to TT.

        You come to the same common-sense conclusion as our hostess (who happens to be a climate scientist, which TT is not):

        Building our adaptive capacity and imagining black swan scenarios seem like a much better bet than putting all our eggs in the CO2 mitigation strategy tied projections of future climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2.

        Max

      • Manacker,

        Is Judith Curry the same sort of climate scientist you’ve belling telling us to ignore for the past few years?

        “Forget all the junk science by so-called experts that are all in on the multi-billion dollar ‘climate research scam’.”

        I’ve no problem with any of Judith Curry’s published peer reviewed scientific works. My criticism is that she writes one thing in them but gives a different line on this blog. She’s happy to have her name included as an author of the BEST papers but at the same time makes it clear that she doesn’t agree with the contents.

      • For the record, I’ve disagreed with the BEST press releases. And I disagreed with one paper (on which I am NOT a coauthor).

      • Judith,

        There is a joint statement mentioned in this link (about half way down the page):
        http://berkeleyearth.org/faq/

        which describes the extent of your disagreement with Richard Muller. No mention of press releases though.

        My comments about the BEST papers were meant as an example of how you present one line on this blog, but a different line in your scientific peer reviewed papers. You may disagree with that assessment and I would admit that its very difficult to pin you down on the specifics of any one argument.

        But, its not so much about what you actually write, literally, as the overall impression that you create. If you hadn’t created it, then there would be no need for joint statements of clarification.

  25. It seems the majority of climate warmists advocate carbon pricing to the impacts of mitigate climate change. However, there is an alternative policy which is given little attention by warmists but would seem to be a far superior policy option.

    How much better is the ‘Low-cost backstop’ policy than the “Optimal carbon price policy’?

    According to Nordhaus (2008) “A Question of Balancehttp://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf the ‘cost competitive alternative to carbon pricing’ policy (called Low-cost backstop policy’) is far better than the ‘Optimal carbon price’ policy. In fact, it is better by 3 times, 5 times, 5 times and 49 times for Benefits, Abatement cost, Net Benefit, and Implied Carbon Tax rate. Details summarised below. Table numbers refer to Nordhaus (2008). (Costs are in 2005 US $ trillion)

    Benefits (reduced damages), ($ trillion) (ref .Table 5-3)
    Optimal carbon price policy 5.23
    Low-cost backstop policy 17.63
    ratio 3

    Abatement cost, ($ trillion) (ref .Table 5-3)
    Optimal carbon price policy 2.16
    Low-cost backstop policy 0.44
    ratio 5

    Net Benefit, ($ trillion) (ref .Table 5-3)
    Optimal carbon price policy 3.37
    Low-cost backstop policy 17.19
    ratio 5

    Implied carbon tax, ($/ton C) (ref .Table 5-1)
    Optimal carbon price policy 202.4
    Low-cost backstop policy 4.1
    ratio 49

    CO2 emissions in 2100, (Gt C/a) (ref .Table 5-6)
    Optimal carbon price policy 11
    Low-cost backstop policy 0

    CO2 concentration in 2100, (ppm) (ref .Table 5-7)
    Optimal carbon price policy 586
    Low-cost backstop policy 340

    Global temperature change in 2100, (°C from 1900) (ref .Table 5-1)
    Optimal carbon price policy 2.61
    Low-cost backstop policy 0.9

    • Steve Milesworthy

      The low-costs backstop policy seems to be based on:

      a policy based on a hypothetical low-cost technology for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or for producing energy without carbon dioxide emission.

      such as solar power, wind power and artificial CO2-eating trees.

      Sounds great (apart from the CO2 eating trees bit – but you never know).

      • Milesworthy,

        Your ideology is preventing you being objective on anything. You say:

        for producing energy without carbon dioxide emission.
        such as solar power, wind power and artificial CO2-eating trees.

        Exactly: producing energy without carbon dioxide emissions
        Isn’t that what we want? Or are you more interested in your other ‘Progressive’ agendas? Like more tax, more bureaucracy, world government and mandated renewable energy?

        Demonstrating your ideological bias, you mention the uneconomic options (solar, wind, etc.) but do not mention the obvious option that can be economically viable if you and those of your ideological persuasion allow us to remove the impediments to its development. The option I am talking about, is, of course, nuclear energy.

        Clearly you are a zealot for CAGW, renewable energy and anti-nuclear. I wouldn’t trust anything you advocate on anything. You are clearly incapable of being objective.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Your ideology is preventing you being objective on anything. You say:

        for producing energy without carbon dioxide emission.
        such as solar power, wind power and artificial CO2-eating trees.

        I didn’t say any of it. I copied the quote from Nordhaus and the interpretation from others.

        As for this “objectivity” you keep going on about. Objectivity is about seeing both sides. I see your side of the argument and I see others. Whether I am objective is whether I can *present* either side of the argument. I *could* present a good case for nuclear if you like, but that wouldn’t add much to the discussion because you are doing that. If someone comes along saying that we can safely rely entirely on wind power, then I’ll ask them what they would do when the wind stops – though I suspect others would get in first here. As far as I can see noone has advocated relying entirely on wind power much as Latimer would like to argue about it.

        You also missed this bit of the quote out:

        a policy based on a hypothetical low-cost technology

        which sounds like the backstop policy is based on something almost as good as pixie dust. The only way of knowing whether it is pixie dust or not is by taking a few risks (not putting all eggs in one basket) and ensuring we properly try a mix of different energies, surely.

      • Peter Lang,

        I’m not sure why trees have to be genetically engineered to “eat carbon”. They do that already. Forests exist of course , and it is much better to look after the ones we have, now, than rely on some hypothetical solution which would have to be introduced as a panic measure at some time in the future. Low carbon energy sources: Solar, geothermal, hyrdro, tidal, and, yes, nuclear all exist, now. If the big polluters had to pay for the costs of dumping CO2 into the atmosphere they would switch over and the economic impetus would mean they would be developed further. Starting now. That’s what carbon pricing is about.

        I can’t see why this is all described as a “backstop” future plan. It’s just another excuse for prevarication.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        You are quoting selectively and obfuscating as usual. ‘Low cost backstop” means:

        cost-competitive alternative to fossil fuels

        You are stlll avoiding answering the question I put to you. It’s obvious why you are avoiding them and obfuscating.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang,

        Why are you so concerned that you refuse to quote the bit about “Low cost backstop” being based on “hypothetical low-cost technology”?

        a policy based on a hypothetical low-cost technology for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or for producing energy without carbon dioxide emission.

        It seems that your understanding of “low-cost backstop” may be different from the understanding of those that coined the term.

        Studies suggest that while nuclear-based CO2 emissions are low relative to fossil fuel energy, nuclear is about six times more CO2-polluting than onshore wind power and energy efficiency measure. So nuclear-monomania seems irrational.

      • Steve Milseworthy,

        Are you ignorant or dishonest? I suspect its both, combined with being a Left ideologue, anti-nuclear zealot and anti-economically rational zealot.

        Peter Lang,

        Why are you so concerned that you refuse to quote the bit about “Low cost backstop” being based on “hypothetical low-cost technology”?

        a policy based on a hypothetical low-cost technology for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or for producing energy without carbon dioxide emission.

        It seems that your understanding of “low-cost backstop” may be different from the understanding of those that coined the term.

        Studies suggest that while nuclear-based CO2 emissions are low relative to fossil fuel energy, nuclear is about six times more CO2-polluting than onshore wind power and energy efficiency measure. So nuclear-monomania seems irrational.

        The “hypothetical low cost technology … for producing energy without carbon dioxide emission.” is addressed here:
        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230407
        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230274
        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230373
        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230028

        Cant’ you link the points in more than one comment and more than one-liners?

        Why did you gloss over, avoid or obfuscate the “OR for producing energy without carbon dioxide emission.

        Is that s sign of your lack of intellectual integrity, or your ignorance, or both?

        Studies suggest that while nuclear-based CO2 emissions are low relative to fossil fuel energy, nuclear is about six times more CO2-polluting than onshore wind power and energy efficiency measure. So nuclear-monomania seems irrational.

        I wonder which studies those might be? Greenpeace or similar? Certainly not authoritative studies.

        Why do you continue to avoid answering these questions:
        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230188 ?

        By the way, in case you want a little introduction to Risk made simple, have a look at this: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang,

        Are you ignorant or dishonest? I suspect its both, combined with being a Left ideologue, anti-nuclear zealot and anti-economically rational zealot.

        Ranting at people who point out your weak and partial grasp of your own material won’t help you build your argument.

        Why did you gloss over, avoid or obfuscate the “OR for producing energy without carbon dioxide emission.”

        Where did I do that? My intention was to point out your avoidance (you certainly didn’t attempt to gloss over or obfuscate) of the mention of “hypothetical”.

        Remember now, you are having a fake argument here. Your fake argument is that some of us are CAGW zealots (some of us aren’t) who have ignored these “low-cost backstop” technologies in favour of demanding only carbon taxes (something I’m not aware has been done – it is more about doubt in these technologies till they are actually deployed).

        Now one of the reasons why a carbon tax *may* not work is that while such taxes drive efficiencies, the money saved is not necessarily diverted from more fossil fuel extraction unless other measures are taken. For similar reasons unless *your* choice of technology becomes phenomenally cheap and widely available (it is decades away from doing so) there will still remain the demand to extract and burn more fossil fuels.

        So I don’t think that focussing on these technologies alone (something you are doing, not Nordhaus) solves the problem even if the technology is real.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        More avoidance and obfuscation.

        You’ve still never answered any of my questions. You are clearly just slippery character. A waste of time.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang,

        By the way, in case you want a little introduction to Risk made simple, have a look at this: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/

        Thank you for finally owning up to your dishonesty.

        For those who didn’t follow the link, you are linking to your own short article on risk analysis in relation to energy generation.

        Remember though, you originally said an your appeal to authority:

        The World Economic Forum publishes ‘Global Risks’ every five years or so. ‘Global Risks 2012′ was released recently.

        It is well worth reading. AGW is not one of the highest risks.

        (my added emphasis).

        When it was pointed out by me that it was listed as (about) the sixth highest risk, you changed what you said while also questioning my impartiality:

        It would seem you are reading into it what you want to read into it. GHG emissions does not rank in the top ten on Impact [plus lots of bluster]

        following which I gave you a potted lesson in risk analysis and Bart R skewered the added bluster.

        Now you admit you understand risk analysis to the level where you know that lower impact can mean higher risk if there is higher likelihood than other higher impact risks.

        So you had no excuse for misrepresenting the WEF document.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        Thank you for finally owning up to your dishonesty.

        What is the dishonesty you are alleging? You didn’t state what you see as my dishonesty.

        I linked to my article because it is clear from your previous comments that you have a naïve understanding of risk assessment an management (but think you know much more than you do). I linked to that simple explanation of risk in energy chains hoping it wouldn’t be over your head and hoping your mind was open enough to try to understand. But no, it is locked shut. You also weren’t about to get the message about the relative safety of the various energy chains (here is the link again incase anyone else in interested: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/

        The more nonsense you write, and the more you display you are prepared to BS about subjects you know almost nothing about (e.g. energy, economics and I expect climate too) the more you discredit not only yourself of but the rest of the Alarmists who sit idly by as you make a compete fool of yourself and those of your persuasion.

        Remember though, you originally said an your appeal to authority:

        The World Economic Forum publishes ‘Global Risks’ every five years or so. ‘Global Risks 2012′ was released recently.

        It is well worth reading. AGW is not one of the highest risks.

        You say CO2 is ranked amongst the highest risks. I say it is not (it ranks fifth, 11th on impact). I accept I did not define what I meant by the highest risks. The point I was attempting to make, but your cunningness and use of pedantry has led you to avoid the point (again), was to highlight that your emphasis is entirely on one risk, CO2. Its also apparent you continual obfuscation, avoidance and diversions are for ideological reasons. You have shown no interest in the other risks, including the higher risks. You clearly have not applied proper risk analysis processes to assessing the risks. You haven’t shown you even recognise the other (higher) risks exist, let alone understand them

        I’d also add that you pontificate on reports like this without having read them. You did the same with Nordhaus. You pull out a sentence here or there, don’t understand the context and then write some nonsensical garbage. I don’t bother replying to most of it and you then infer you’ve won a debating point. What a jerk. Typical of the CAGW Alarmists and zealots (of which you are clearly one). Your behaviour is an example of why what the CAGW alarmists advocate is being seen as ideologically based, biased and untrustworthy.

        following which I gave you a potted lesson in risk analysis and Bart R skewered the added bluster.

        Oh sure! What a conceited fool you are. A complete waste of space. You should be an embarrassment to the CAGW alarmists, but I expect they know no better and so encourage you to continue to make a fool of yourself.

        At one stage I thought there was a possibility you might have a partially open mind. That assumption has proven to be an error of judgement on my part.

      • Peter Lang,

        You ask: “…producing energy without carbon dioxide emissions
        Isn’t that what we want? ”

        “we”? I’ve been arguing that for years. I don’t know about you guys though. Most of you think that CO2 is not a pollutant.

        PS You can’t say “without” though. That implies zero emissions, and there has to be some, even with the renewables and nuclear.

    • Uh, what?

      You’ve read uber-warmist Nordhaus (2008) “A Question of Balance” (http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf) on his mixed, “balanced” ‘Necessity of Raising Carbon Taxes’ book and still link to it to support the completely minor backstop ideas discussed for instance by Edwin van der Werf (http://www.vwl.uni-oldenburg.de/download/V-320-10.pdf), and Nordhaus himself (see also http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/dice_mss_072407_all.pdf) as a mere future-dated adjunct to carbon pricing?

      The study also shows that the trajectory of optimal carbon prices should
      rise sharply over the coming decades to reflect rising damages and the need for increasingly tight restraints. This is the policy ramp in carbon prices. The
      optimal price would rise steadily over time, at between 2 and 3 percent per year in real terms, to reflect the rising damages from climate change. In the optimal trajectory, the carbon price would rise from $27 per ton carbon in the first period to $90 per ton carbon by 2050 and $200 per ton carbon in 2100. The ultimate limit of the carbon price would be determined by the level at which the backstop technology (the price of superabundant supplies of zero-carbon energy substitutes) would become economical.

      You get that they’re talking about hypothetical, non-existent-as-of-yet technologies developed by massive subsidy (based on huge new Carbon Taxes) to expert groups of engineers (in of all things the fossil fuel industry) in addition to and over-and-above everything else they can think of to throw at the problem of rising GHG levels?

      That this technology is no more practical nor proven today than powering the world by Hydrogen fusion was six decades ago?

      See, you’re arguing for something that isn’t real, isn’t understood, isn’t even very well-known, and paying a bunch of people we already know will gladly take the taxpayers’ money and run, like Rent Seekers always do.

      I’m the one arguing for Capitalism, Privatization, the Market, and cutting off the subsidies to the bloated Free Riders.

      • BartR,

        You’ve read uber-warmist Nordhaus (2008) “A Question of Balance”

        Ad hominem tactic. So Bart can’t find anything wrong with the figures, eh? I’ll take that as acceptance of the point I’ve made; i.e. ‘Cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels’ policy is a far better (faster, cheaper, low CO2 emissions by any future date and much smaller temperature increase by future date) than the ‘Optimal carbon price’ policy, let alone any of the others.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Bart pointed out with an ironic, rhetorical question:

        You get that they’re talking about hypothetical, non-existent-as-of-yet technologies developed by massive subsidy (based on huge new Carbon Taxes) to expert groups of engineers (in of all things the fossil fuel industry) in addition to and over-and-above everything else they can think of to throw at the problem of rising GHG levels?

        Peter Lang,

        you are not real if you think that repeating (3 times in this thread, but also in other threads) Cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels’ policy” is a far better than the ‘Optimal carbon price’ policy, without noting the fact that the so-called alternative is based on “hypothetical low-cost” pixie-dust methods of energy generation is going to convince anyone that you are capable of being objective!

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        Now you are quoting BartR’s gibberish. Nuff said.

        BartR hasn’t even read the book and doesn’t understand it. He’s skimmed, quoted a sentence or two that supports his beliefs and you and he hang your hat on that. And you are in the same boat.

        Typical CAGW alarmist. Empty vessels with integrity about the same as that demonstrated by the “Hockey Team”.

        When are you going to answer the questions you keep avoiding.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang,

        Bart R and I are both pointing out that you are quoting one half of a quote and appear to believe that the other half undermines your interpretation.

        Why are you repeatedly quoting one half of a quote when including the other half would undermine your interpretation?

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        Peter Lang,

        Bart R and I are both pointing out that you are quoting one half of a quote and appear to believe that the other half undermines your interpretation.

        Why are you repeatedly quoting one half of a quote when including the other half would undermine your interpretation?

        I reckon that is a really dumb question. But perhaps it is genuinely the cause of this particular disagreement.

        The quote says:

        a policy based on a hypothetical low-cost technology for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, OR for producing energy without carbon dioxide emission.

        [my emphasis]

        That is, you can achieve the policy with either of two options (or a combination):

        1 a hypothetical low-cost technology for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
        OR
        2 a hypothetical low-cost technology for producing energy without carbon dioxide emission.

        I am arguing that option 2 is readily achievable and I’ve explained how to achieve it, repeatedly. Here I quote from two of the comments where I’ve explained how to achieve it:

        Nuclear could be the least cost way to generate electricity and least cost way to reduce global emissions, here’s why and how to get there (globally):

        – allowing low-cost, small, modular, factory-built and refuelled nuclear power plants to be certified and built (commercially and competitively throughout the world) would allow the cost of nuclear power to reduce massively

        – nuclear substituting for coal would save more than one million lives per year globally by 2050 (its already avoiding around 160,000 fatalities per year)

        – nuclear allows fuel transportation (and the energy used in doing so) to be reduce by around a factor of 20,000 with current technology and up to a factor of 2 million in future technology (that’s 20,000 to 2 million times less coal ships passing through the Great Barrier Reef)

        – nuclear allows countries to have energy security – because they can store virtually unlimited quantities of fuel for future energy supply in a small area.

        – cheap nuclear power could allow the developing world to replace coal, wood and dung for heating and cooking more quickly, facilitate improving economies, better health and education systems, better infrastructure and better well-being for all peoples on the planet (its interesting to notice who opposes all these benefits to human well-being?).

        – cheap nuclear power would more quickly displace gas for heating (in residential commercial and some industrial applications) and oil for land transport – thus reducing emissions from not just electricity but also from gas for heating and oil for land transport.

        – nuclear is by far the least cost way to reduce emissions as clearly shown here http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230021 (but the content has been studiously avoided by the anti-nukes.

        Why do we need small, modular, factory-built and refuelled, nuclear power plants?

        We need to construct the same design over and over. But you don’t need to restrict it to a few designs. Many is better. I’d like to see companies in the manufacturing countries – USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Russia, China. Korea, Japan – building small modular nuclear power plants on production lines like aircraft. Small is essential for several reasons:

        a. only small power plants can fit easily into most electricity grids around the world
        b. small units can be ordered ‘just in time’, only once demand is assured
        c. small can be constructed and installed quickly, thus reducing investor risks and interest during construction
        d. small can be built in factories, shipped to site, returned to factory for refuelling
        e. small can be manufactured on production lines like aircraft, turned out rapidly and with good quality control
        f. small leads to faster rate of improvement because more are manufactured and lessons learned are built into the next model more quickly.
        g. More competition between more manufacturers leads to faster rate of improvement

        Please acknowledge that you understand.

      • Peter Lang | August 20, 2012 at 5:42 am |

        Haven’t read the book?

        Pfft. Of course I’ve read it. There, I just read it again. And, since typing the last sentence, once more. It’s not that long a book, or that inaccessible.

        Nordhaus self-identifies as believing in AGW, strongly enough to have published a book on the topic propounding action to counter it. That’s hardly ad hominem, unless you believe that being able to understand the evidence for AGW and follow the inference to support GHE by CO2E as the culprit makes one less rather than more credible. Which is circular reasoning on your part. I don’t think I’ve seen quite this species of compound fallacy nesting before.

        Dude, your cup runneth over with twistiness. Empty it out, relax, clear your mind of confusion, or whatever it is people do when they’re that badly wrong. You’ll end up with a crick in your neck or something if you can’t get your head on straight.

  26. Joe's World(evolutionary progress)

    Judith,

    I come across many discoveries in science and research which have NOT been incorporated into our science and knowledge base. They are shelved and many people are not exposed to them.
    The understanding of our planet incorporates all discoveries small or large as the complexity also evolves and changes over time…

  27. Faustino
    @ August 18, 2012 at 4:00 am

    A lot of debate on CAGW revolves around appropriate responses. Many proponents of CAGW are wedded to centralised, state-directed, responses. Many, like me, argue for more flexible and decentralised policies which enhance our capacity to respond positively to whatever befalls in an uncertain world.

    I agree.

    I agree for many reasons, but here is one example.

    Many people call for more regulation of nuclear energy to make it even safer than it is now (It is already far safer than any other electricity generation technology – Ref ‘Deaths by energy source’ http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html ). I’d argue we need to reduce regulation, not increase it. I’d also argue to remove the shackles and allow competition to do what it does. I said this on the previous thread:

    We need to construct the same design over and over. But you don’t need to restrict it to a few designs. Many is better. I’d like to see companies in the manufacturing countries – USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Russia, China. Korea, Japan – building small modular nuclear power plants on production lines like aircraft. Small is essential for several reasons:

    a. only small power plants can fit easily into most electricity grids around the world
    b. small units can be ordered ‘just in time’, only once demand is assured
    c. small can be constructed and installed quickly, thus reducing investor risks
    d. small can be built in factories, shipped to site, returned to factory for refuelling
    e. small can be manufactured on production lines like aircraft, turned out rapidly and with good quality control
    f. small leads to faster rate of improvement because more are manufactured and lessons learned are built into the next model more quickly.
    g. More competition between more manufacturers leads to faster rate of improvement

  28. David Springer

    One fish says to the other fish we can’t swim faster than the shark. The other fish replies I only have to swim faster than you.

  29. David Springer

    Free will is an illusion. Planning is folly but we can’t help doing it because the script calls for it. Que sera sera.

    • Vaughan Pratt

      Free will is an illusion.

      I hate to admit it but you’re right. I’d chosen not to reply but was overcome by the urge. :)

      On the other hand, if it seems to others that I am exercising my free will in choosing my battles, who is having the illusion, me or the others?

      Or is your argument simply that everything is an illusion and so free will in particular is an illusion?

    • “A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants.”

  30. The activists now prefer to call it “climate change”.

    This gives them two advantages:

    1) It allows them to seize as “evidence” the inevitable occurrences of unusually cold weather as well as warm ones.

    2) The climate is always changing, so they are always right.

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/religion.htm

    • So

      “Don’t you believe in climate change?”

      is like

      “Don’t you believe in gravity?”

    • Girma | August 18, 2012 at 7:45 am said: ”The climate is always changing, so they are always right”

      Girma, the moon is always spinning around the earth, same as the climate is always changing. BUT, incorporating in climatic changes the phony GLOBAL warmings – is same as including that the universe is spinning around the earth also, as the moon. Climatic changes are natural phenomena; as localized warmings / coolings – Global warmings are .a phenomenal lies – same as the universe spinning around the earth. Laws of physics and the winds need to be abolished first, by legislation, in the parliament and in UN.

      The sea-rising of 1mm a year is from sediments washed silt from land into the sea and by the winds dirt blown into the sea – is one way street; not because of the silly ice melting. Only 5m3 of silt washed into the sea = lifts the sea-level on 5km2 by 1mm. Do you know how much silt is washed by Mekong, Ganges, Congo rivers, Amazon and others, every year? One new dam lowers the sea-level by 2mm on on 200 00km2. Who is against new dams? A: the Warmist bleeding hearts, with their crocodile tears about the climate; because dams improve the climate and the vegetation

  31. Once again, our hostess seems to be showing her bias. She writes “But it seems that there are some useful applications of these ideas for adaptation to extreme weather events and climate change.”
    Thus, there seems to be an implicit assumption in the subject selected that something needs to be done. With respect to CAGW, nothing needs to be done. CAGW is non-existent; the empirical data, such little as we have, gives a strong indication that adding CO2 to the atmosphere has a negligible effect on surface temperatures. There is no empirical data from the 20th and 21st centuries that shows that adding CO2 to the atmosphere affects surface temperatures at all.

    So there is no need for us to take any notice of what the octopus does.

  32. David Wojick

    Being a marine ecologist at the University of Arizona is an interesting case of adaptation. But most of the climate adaptation rhetoric is either pointlessly vague or a fundraising exercise.

  33. Jim Cripwell

    Our hostess has concluded:

    Building our adaptive capacity and imagining black swan scenarios seem like a much better bet than putting all our eggs in the CO2 mitigation strategy tied projections of future climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2.

    This makes sense to me.

    In fact, it makes sense whether or not added CO2 will have a perceptible impact on our climate.

    Adaptation is how mankind has survived ever since the first humans evolved.

    Max

    • David Wojick

      Adaptive capacity to what?

      • Adaptive capacity to what?

        Anything that comes along.

        Max

      • David Wojick

        There is no such thing as being more adaptable to every possibility Max, and this is the great confusion. The concept is vacuous. Generally speaking there are always tradeoffs between adaptabilities, or resiliencies. Consider global trade versus subsistence farming. Each is more resistent to certain shocks. There is no universal adaptation free lunch. Every improvement has a liability, so we must always choose.

      • Exactly. This is absolutely true in many many economic (in the broadest sense) models. One example in finance is the Monte Carlo algorithm for quantifying risk vs. potential earnings. Adaptation has the always present component of “price tag” associated with it. It is never free.

      • Cap’n –

        Huh?

      • “There is no such thing as being more adaptable to every possibility ” – not quite, David. There is one adaptation available, uniquely, to humans, that increases our resilience to any adverse turn of events – becoming, and staying wealthy.

        That means not letting the apocaholics impoverish us through wrong-headed ‘mitigation’ strategies to counter imaginary threats.

      • Gary what is funny is that I was looking into composting toilets and gray water use for the garden. I already have separate black and gray water and it is not that big a deal. That is not allowed. So we are attempting to force feed technologies on the 3 world that we don’t allow.

      • Anything that comes along.

        Now there’s a logical point. Instead of worrying about mitigation, let’s just focus on adapting to everything.

        So much easier and far more practical, eh?

      • Well actually yes.
        Make sure you species is widely dispersed.
        Make sure you species is a non-specialist.
        Make sure your species has the ability to survive two very poor years.

        For humans the bottom line is cheap, high-density energy. With abundant electricity I can make pretty much anything. The thing that stops stuff being done is politics, give people a reason to do stuff, and they pull out all the stops. Think on this, in 1944 65% of British economic activity was directed to war work. This was a democratic society that decided it wanted to do something, i.e. wage war, and it went for it.
        Think what 65% of the US economy could do, move everyone from within 50 miles from the coast, build them a FEMA trailer, provide every house-hold with a green-house, e.t.c.

        So, before any Black Swans come along we want an hedonistic, high energy economy where everything we make and build has a very short half-life, and whose longevity is driven by fashion. Such a society would have huge buffering capacity and would be highly elastic towards insults.

      • If the catastrophists are right about global warming, they could see a glass half full. All those people moved from the coasts could be moved into those 85 square foot houses. I’m sure the C’s would see this as a victory. :)

      • Doc –

        For humans the bottom line is cheap, high-density energy. With abundant electricity I can make pretty much anything.

        Sounds like a reasonable focus. There are obvious benefits to cheap, high-density energy.

        The problem is when you fall in love and begin to think that cheap, high-density energy [any one mode of adaptation] is the way to adapt to everything. For example, you don’t gain any possible advantage from redundancy (as the article discusses, ironically). You forget to think of “unintended consequences” from cheap high-density energy. Even more, with such a singular goal, because it is never achievable in full, by definition you become vulnerable to a trap of falling in love with only one way to adapt.

        Saying that the only goal should be to build adaptive capacity (for everything) without qualification is a meaningless statement. Unachievable. It reflects a mind living in a fantasy world. That isn’t to say that adaptive capacity is not a laudable goal, but that it is false dichotomy to suggest that is possible, let alone desirable, to do so categorically in opposition to seeking mitigation against certain risks. And further, it is simply false that there is any significant effort directed at “putting all our eggs in one basket” to the exclusion of building adaptive capacity.

        Getting cheaper, high-density energy is a great goal, IMO. There are those who think that it shouldn’t be a goal at all. But everyone who thinks that cheap, high-density energy should be the singular focus of the planet as an adaptive mechanism to any form of risk also thinks that cheap, high-density energy is a goal that should be discarded out of hand.

        (I, myself, enjoy spending a week or two out in the woods every now and then, trading-off advantages from abundant cheap, high-denisty energy for the warmth of a fire on a mountain top or the utility of a backpacking stove that offers a very limited and not particularly scalable form of (not particularly cheap) high-density energy. I would almost trade in my six burner, two oven,1920 Magic Chef in my kitchen for my MSR in front of my tent – but I don’t suggest that everyone should consider making the same trade.)

      • Joshua, every thing is relative, Your vision of high density energy may not be the same as another’s

        http://en.howtopedia.org/images/0/0e/Human_pump03.gif

        Bill Gates for example :)

      • What Joshua, you didn’t know about the Gates Foundation Treadle pump program?

        http://www.gatesfoundation.org/agriculturaldevelopment/pages/low-cost-treadle-pumps-for-irrigation-ide-video-india.aspx

        That is actually one of the better programs. The exploding wood gas stoves, not so much. It is always fun watching the rich try to teach the poor how to do poor better.

      • Cap’n –

        I didn’t (and don’t) understand the connection to my comment.

      • captdalls,

        My favorite Gates’ initiative was just in the news.

        http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/15/3244009/bill-gates-reinvent-toilet-fair-awards

        “Former Microsoft CEO and philanthropist Bill Gates has awarded a series of prizes to universities in the US, the UK, and Canada for prototypes of sustainable, eco-friendly toilets designed for use in the developing world. As part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Fair, Gates awarded $100,000 to Caltech for a solar-powered, energy-generating toilet, $60,000 to Britain’s Loughborough University for a toilet that converts human waste into biological charcoal, and $40,000 to the University of Toronto for a toilet that recovers clean water from feces and urine. Financed by six $400,000 grants given out last year, the prototypes are still some way from mainstream use — according to The Seattle Times, the winning design currently costs more than $1,000 per unit to produce.”

        Thousand dollar toilets for the third world poor.

        Hey, I’ve got a better idea, let’s force banks to loan each of them enough money to buy a decent house with real plumbing. We could call it the Global Reinvestment Act. Somebody call Goldman Sachs.

      • Doc

        You’ve got it right (and Joshua is confused, as usual).

        Abundant, low-cost energy got humanity to the standard of living and quality of life we enjoy today.

        We (in the industrially developed world) expect to have sufficient high quality food on the table, to have good medical care available and to live to a ripe old age.

        Joshua sees this as an “addiction” to cheap fossil-fuel based energy.

        I see it as an”addiction” to a high quality of life.

        Those billions who live in impoverished nations where there is no readily available low-cost energy would love to have our “addiction”.

        But they will only get it if they first gain access to low-cost fossil-fuel based energy, like we did.

        China, Brazil, India, etc. have seen the light – and it is highly unlikely that these nations (or the many truly impoverished nations of today) are going to get distracted from providing their citizens the same advantages we take for granted today, just because of a “rich white man’s” guilt-driven doomsday frenzy.

        Max

      • Perhaps one of you genius dissenters to manacker’s point could give us an example of a species threatening phenomenon to which mankind has failed to adapt over the millenia?

        Given that we are still here, I anticipate a rather long wait for an answer.

        If someone wrote that the Sun is hotter than the Earth, some of y’all would argue out of habit.

      • “species threatening phenomenon”

        Loss of Dodo feathers.

        Loss of passenger pigeon plant pollen dispersal

        Loss of American Chestnut dietary input

        Loss of whale oil based lighting

        The extinction of small pox virus and loss of evolutionary selection pressure will shallow out the genetic pool.

    • Max, you write “In fact, it makes sense whether or not added CO2 will have a perceptible impact on our climate.”

      I agree with you 100%. However, I would point out that this is what mankind, (and all other living species,) has been doing for millions of years. There is not need to change what we have been doing ever since primates exists, just because our hostess believes in the hypothesis of CAGW.

      • Jim Cripwell

        Agree with you that we do not need to “mitigate” (it’s flat out silly, as even many climate scientists – including our hostess – agree).

        “Adaptation” (to anything Nature throws at us) has been the name of the human survival game.

        Now as for improving tornado watch systems, increasing hurricane tracking capability, building higher and/or stronger dikes and levees, etc. – these are all the kinds of “adaptation” actions, which our hostess supports, rather than undertaking “mitigation” actions, the benefits of which we cannot estimate, the costs of which we cannot afford and the unintended consequences of which we cannot foresee.

        And I agree with her.

        Max

      • I strongly agree and fail to understand why others don’t agree too. It seems so obvious to me, especially when the costs of the advocated mitigation policies are recognised.

      • One of the advocated mitigation policies is the investment in more nuclear power generation. This is not a cheap policy so I assume you are dead set against it?

      • Louise,

        You have most certainly misunderstood.

        Nuclear energy is by far the least cost way to make major cuts to renewable energy. You may have missed previous comments I’ve posted on this. Here are two on this thread that explain why nuclear is the least cost option by far and why small, modular, factory built, nuclear power plants, manufactured in a competitive environment are the way to achieve large global emissions reductions (potentially 50% CO2 emissions reduction from global energy use by 2050):

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230021

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230274

        If you didn’t see these two comments earlier, I hope you will read them. I’d be interested in your response.

      • Louise appears to support new nuclear generation capacity.

        Makes sense.

        What does not make sense is the Hansen et al. proposal to shut down all existing coal-fired plants in the USA and replace them with nuclear (in order to reduce CO2 emissions).

        At a cost of $1.5 trillion this hare-brained scheme would result is a theoretical reduction of global warming by year 2100 of an imperceptible (and non-measurable) 0.08 degrees C.

        Go figure.

        Max

      • So, in effect you do ‘approve’ of investment in mitigation against the effects of AGW?

        So why don’t you say so rather than agreeing with Max’s statement that adaptation, not mitigation is where investment should be made?

      • Louise

        “Mitigation” investment would include the hare-brained Hansen et al. scheme to replace all coal-fired plants with nuclear plants (see previous post).

        Building new nuclear generation capacity to cover growing demand is something entirely different. If these were significantly more expensive to build and operate (per MWh generated, long term), then the added investment could be seen as “mitigation” investment.

        But, as Peter Lang and others have pointed out, they are not more expensive, but rather cost competitive with coal (without a carbon tax).

        Max

      • Manacker,

        What does not make sense is the Hansen et al. proposal to shut down all existing coal-fired plants in the USA and replace them with nuclear (in order to reduce CO2 emissions).

        At a cost of $1.5 trillion this hare-brained scheme would result is a theoretical reduction of global warming by year 2100 of an imperceptible (and non-measurable) 0.08 degrees C.

        I do not agree with Hansen’s ideas on energy and carbon pricing. He is a scientist and knows next to nothing about energy engineering and economics. That does not stop him from pontificating on such matter however.

        Coal plants have a design life of about 40 years. They are refurbished and get a life extension if it is economic to do so. If it is cheaper to replace fossil fuel plants with nuclear when the fossil fuel plants become uneconomic, that is what will happen. No regulatory intervention is required.

        The regulatory intervention that is required is to remove the mass of unnecessary regulations that are making nuclear uncompetitive. Once we do that, nuclear will replace coal, and later gas.

        However, to make a significant difference to global emissions, the focus needs to be on making low-cost nuclear power plants available for all electricity grids and all situations. For that we need small modular factory-built (and refuelled) nuclear power plants – like this and the others linked in the left margin: http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/advanced/hyperion.html

      • Louise,

        So, in effect you do ‘approve’ of investment in mitigation against the effects of AGW?

        So why don’t you say so rather than agreeing with Max’s statement that adaptation, not mitigation is where investment should be made?

        I’ve explained my position many times. If you read the two links I’ve referred you to, I think they explain my position.

        In short, I advocate an economically rational approach. In that case, mitigation and adaption are the same thing. You don’t need to regulate to get CO2 emissions down. You just need to remove the regulations that are preventing us having low emissions energy. If nuclear development had not been blocked for the past 50 years or so, global emissions would be 10% to 20% lower now than they are and we’d be on a fast trajectory to reduce them massively by 2050.

        Instead, it will be a long struggle. And we still have not got the anti-nuclear zealots to see the light. So we haven’t even begun. We are still arguing about irrational schemes, such as carbon pricing, which will never be adopted globally so cannot work.

      • One of the things that makes me quite cross when I read blogs concerning climate change is that us ‘greenies’ (and I include Hansen in this group) are the ones that held back nuclear power.

        As I said elsewhere, I am a strong supporter of nuclear power and always have been. I’m not sure about your regulation in USA but here in UK it is private industies’ reluctance to invest in new power stations that is holding us back – they want subsidies, ironic isn’t it?

      • It’s perfectly circular reasoning. Many people have pointed out to Peter that lots of us pro-science folks, including myself, and you, and Hansen, Richter and many many others, like nuclear power and would like to see it play a larger role. But it’s such an emotional thing for Peter, and he’s so wedded to the idea that climate science is for “greens,” and that greens are against nuclear power.

        He’s raised confirmation bias to such a high art that when he posts panegyrics to nukes and no one argues with him, instead of reaching the logical conclusion that nuclear power is favored by a lot of people who are serious about mitigation, he concludes we must be against it, but afraid to argue the point.

      • Louise,

        I am in Australia. But the anti-nuclear campaigning has been international (in the western democracies). There are some greenies who support it, but most have been strongly campaigning against nuclear for many decades. Greenpeace (e.g. their infamous ‘love wind, hate nuclear’ campaign), WWF, FoE, and Australia’s Australia Conservation Foundation are all actively and strongly opposed nuclear power. And they are very influential. They represent the vast majority of greenies.

        So, yes, it is the greenies that have caused CO2 emissions to be 10% to 20% higher than they would have been if they had not opposed nuclear power for the past 50 years or so.

        The best thing you could do would be to persuade them to become enthusiastic advocates of low-cost nuclear power – but don’t leave out the “low cost’ bit. That is essential.

        but here in UK it is private industries’ reluctance to invest in new power stations that is holding us back – they want subsidies, ironic isn’t it?

        Yes, that is due to the 50 years of anti nuclear campaigning, the massive costs that have been imposed on nuclear plants and the investor risk premiums that are imposed because of investment risk. Investment risk is the risk that the plants construction will be disrupted and delayed by public protest or that the plants will be shut down once in operation due to public protest. That risk is caused directly by the greens anti nuclear activists. That is why nuclear is so costly now.

        Bernard Cohen shows how regulatory ratcheting increased the cost of nuclear four fold up until 1990. I expect it has doubled again since. You can hold your greenie mates directly responsible for the high cost of nuclear energy and the fact it needs subsidies and government guarantees to attract investors.

      • Robert,

        You are a hypocrite in the extreme. And not to be trusted. But apart from those character blemishes, which demonstrate a lack of integrity such that you could not be considered as a true scientist, the issue of substance is you’ve misrepresented my position.

        My position is that high-cost mitigation policies, such as carbon pricing, have negligible chance of being adopted globally. Therefore, they will fail That’s should be obvious to even you.

        I am trying to educate CAGW alarmists like yourself so you can understand there is an alternative way to get what you want; it is a way that would be acceptable to the vast majority of people – but only if the greenies lead the way to undo the damage they’ve done with 50 years of anti-nuclear protesting.

        So there is no point sitting there sulking because you’ve been shown up to be totally wrong with your loony Left ideological beliefs. Instead you need to get out and convert your brethren.

        It’s up to you and your ilk.

      • Peter – you just made Robert’s point in the strongest way possible. Despite Robert being a strong supporter of nuclear power, you decide he’s got loonie left ideological briefs because you just can’t conceive that us greenies may not be the boogie man you can blame for the lack of investment in nuclear power.

      • Peter is a political crusader, hiding behind climate change to pursue his political agenda.

      • Louise,

        Robert goes on all the time about wanting more regulation, including for nuclear power despite it already being orders of magnitude safer than the conventional energy technologies we currently accept. There is no doubt about his ideological beliefs. He isn’t exactly getting out and admitting he’s been misguided and now needs to lead on getting the greenies and Left to stop blocking progress.

        Neither he nor you I suspect, realise that this issue that needs the focus is to get the cost of nuclear down. That means doing what I said in another comment (here it is again):

        The Left / ‘Progressives’ strongly oppose economically rational solutions to cut GHG emissions, despite the many advantages of an economically rational policy approach (see below).

        – allowing low-cost, small, modular, factory-built and refueld nuclear power plants to be certified and built (commercially and competitively throughout the world) would allow the cost of nuclear power to reduce massively

        – nuclear substituting for coal would save more than one million lives per year by 2050 (its already avoiding aroud 160,000 fatalities per year)

        – nuclear allows fuel transportation (and the energy used in doing so) to be reduce by around a factor of 20,000 with current technology and up to a factor of 2 million in future technology (that’s 20,000 times less coal ships passing through the Great Barrier Reef)

        – nuclear allows countries to have energy security – because they can store virtually unlimited quantities of fuel for future energy supply in a small area.

        – cheap nuclear power could allow the developing world to replace coal, wood and dung for heating and cooking more quickly, facilitate improving economies, better health and education systems, better infrastructure and better well-being for all peoples on the planet (the Loony Left oppose all this).

        – cheap nuclear power would more quickly displace gas for heating (in residential commercial and some industrial applications) and oil for land transport – thus reducing emissions from not just electricity but also from gas for heating and oil for land transport.

        – nuclear is by far the least cost way to reduce emissions as clearly shown here http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230021 (but the content has been studiously avoided by the Left / ‘Progressive’ bloggers here (nothing is more revealing of their real agenda).

      • Actually, I don’t know a great deal about Robert’s briefs, his beliefs however…

      • Peter, you say “Robert goes on all the time about wanting more regulation, including for nuclear power ”

        I’ve never seen this – please link to at least one instance of Robert calling for increased regulation for nuclear power.

      • More hypocrisy from Joshua, the died in the wool Left / ‘Progressive’, irrational whose party political beliefs are clearly stated in many comments.

        What a joke. Avoid the subject and try to divert attention. Clearly the logic I’ve provided is incontestable. Otherwise would be arguing logic and facts. But you are not

      • @Peter Lang | August 19, 2012 at 9:37 am |

        You are so right. I’m a global warming skeptic, so that has nothing to do with my advocacy of small nuclear reactors. They make so much sense on so many levels. They are 1,000 times superior to wind and solar. They can be used in remote locations – remote towns, mines, and industrial plants. They don’t need the grid, so AC power isn’t wasted via transport. I see no reason they couldn’t be used in dense, urban industrial settings. Money spent on these would be money well spent, unlike the utter waste of time and money on wind and solar. The world has been turned upside down by the left.

      • See Jo Nova and other half’s experience with the low-down left. Smears and lies – that’s all they have in most cases.

        “Got no evidence? Can’t hold a rational discussion? Just call people names — smear them.

        David Evans (my other half) pointed out that anyone who opposed the regulating class gets called a racist sooner or later (see those quotes at the end). Now it’s happened to him. Two weeks after getting a mention of climate “feedbacks” into The Age, he’s being called antisemitic. And on what basis? Wait for it… two years ago, on a different topic, Dr David Evans wrote the word “Rothschilds”. Then those who can’t think, but were keen to do a character assassination, leapt to use their psychic abilities, crack secret codes, and drew on their best kindergarten reasoning to call that “antisemitic”. The essay was about banking history and systematic flaws in our currency system, and there was no mention of any religion or any race. But no matter, it’s just another variation of the pathetic Holocaust denier meme. It’s what a smear-artist does — denigrate speakers to try to stop people hearing their message.

        As usual, a lack of evidence doesn’t stop the rabid conspiracy-theory-spotters from writing reams of speculation about something that isn’t there and never was. David has never mentioned anything about a Jewish conspiracy, never even alluded to it, and of course, neither have I, nor would we.

        Here’s the “chain of reasoning” (I’m using the term loosely):

        Are the climate models exaggerating the feedbacks? –> David Evans said “Rothschild” once –> Other unrelated people who talk about the Rothschilds are nutters –> some nutters are anti-Semitic –> therefore, ergo, the models are right and Earth’s climate sensitivity is 3.3C with a feedback loop gain of 0.65!

        Who knew? Anyone who writes about monetary history apparently can’t mention “Rothschild” without it neutralizing not only what they say on economics, but every word they utter on every other topic. Which is bad news for Niall Ferguson. He not only mentioned the Rothschilds, I’ve just discovered he wrote two whole books on them (Vol I and Vol II).

        Not to state the bleeding obvious but you can’t discuss monetary history without the Rothschilds getting a mention.”

        http://joannenova.com.au/2012/08/compulsive-namecallers-nutter-conspiracy-theorist-anti-semitic-denier-trying-to-censor-through-denigration/

      • Louise,

        Hers’s one: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/15/9412/#comment-229627

        See my reply to him a few comments below.

      • That you read in Robert’s post that he wants increased regulation once again shows your own bias. In that post he calls for simplification of regulation (let’s have one international standard rather than reinventing the wheel each time) so as to increase the contruction of more nuclear power stations – he even uses the example of civil aircraft to explain his point.

        That you read something into a post that isn’t there just confirms you as a lost cause.

      • Peter –

        What a joke. Avoid the subject and try to divert attention. Clearly the logic I’ve provided is incontestable. Otherwise would be arguing logic and facts. But you are not

        I am arguing about your logic. In some ways, your arguments are extremely logical – but you arguments are founded on illogical premises: Primarily, that morality is associated in some overriding fashion with political ideology.

        You don’t get to determine what comprises “diversion.” I could say that your illogical (in the sense I described) rants about leftists is a “diversion.” In fact, I repeatedly challenge you on your underlying premises, and you repeatedly decline that discussion. I repeatedly point you to where your conclusions were overconfident and inaccurately categorical. That you think that addressing those problems constitutes a “diversion” does not make it so.

        Although it is your prerogative. As is is your prerogative to repeatedly insult me.

      • Louise,

        That you read in Robert’s post that he wants increased regulation once again shows your own bias.

        Well, your response is just what I’d expect from a locked in Greenie / ‘Progressive’. You agree with Robert we need more regulation. You want to avoid competition and lock in a small number of designs you approve of (we can just imagine what they’d cost!). Of course, that can only be done by a centralist, regulatory approach and could only be inforced by a world regulatory approach – i.e. another step towards a world government (Agenda21 anyone?). You clearly support the ‘Progressives’ notion that politicians, bureaucrats, regulators and inspectors can do a better job than innovators and competition in the market place at meeting societies’ needs.

        If cutting GHG emissions is more important to you than in progressing your Left agenda, then I’d urge you to listen to the vast majority of people whom rightly, do not want a bar of your other agendas. That means get active and convert the greenies to become enthusiastic supporters of low-cost nuclear energy. But don’t try to dictate how to do that. Because, quite frankly, the greenies would not have a clue about that and most people knows it.

        I realise your mind is locked shut so you won’t be able to aunderstand or acknowledge the very clear message from these two posts:
        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230021

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230274

        Your opposition is a clear example of why progress will be so slow. It is blocked by the Greenies ‘ Left / Progressives (as it has been for the past 50 years or so).

        By the way Robert’s ‘Progressive’ bias has been demonstrated in many posts. As has yours. So don’t you think you are hypocritical to call me biased – especially I am giving you the opportunity to find a way to cut GHG emissions and get broad support for the policies to do so (and massively cut fatalities from electricity generation as well)?

        What more could you want? Yet you oppose and abuse.

      • Poor wee Joshua. He continually insults others and feels hurt when someone insults him. Others that insult frequently are Robert and Fan. All are typical of the loonie Left. And yes, I’ve been responding in kind.

      • Max,

        Your statement ” they [nuclear power stations] are not more expensive, but rather cost competitive with coal (without a carbon tax).”

        You need to take another look at the figures. Your statement may be true for some European countries, and some others, like Japan, who don’t have much by way of their own fossil fuels, but it’s not true generally.

        It’s not true for Australia. There’s lots of the stuff (coal) in Australia which is easily accessible and therefore very cheap. It doesn’t need to be transported very far from the mine to the power station. If nuclear power was cheaper, we’d have it. There is lots of Uranium here too. Add in the price of the damage that CO2 emissions from coal fired power stations do to the environment and the picture changes.

        It’s not true either for the USA who also have huge reserves of coal. Civil Nuclear power, in both the UK and the USA, was used as a cover for the production of fissile material for their nuclear weapons projects. Once they’d produced enough they both lost interest in it, although the UK have recent revived their interest, but this time, I believe, for the right reasons.

        I always have to smile when I hear UK and US politicians complain that Iran are passing off their interest in producing fissile nuclear material as being part of a civil nuclear power program, when in reality it is probably more military in orientation. They don’t say that is exactly what they did in the 60’s and 70’s though.

  34. David Wojick

    The very idea that humans are somehow not adapted to the world is very strange. We seem to be everywhere, ecologically speaking.

    • So when did you discover that you have gills?

      How far along the road to developing the capability to photosynthesise in your skin cells are you?

      These adaptations could prove essential.

    • Genectically modified crops will help us adapt to climate change, where ever the climate might go. Only an ice age will kill a lot of us off.

      • Not really. You can design a crop for a specific stress, but usually at the expense of other weaknesses.

      • But the technology allows these specific adaptations whatever they may be. Whatever the climate does, there will be an appropriate adaptation. And GMO basically allows humans to accelerate the natural selection process, so that the adaptations can be made on a shorter timescale than the climate change itself. So jim2’s basically right.

        It’s also not true that all adaptations are a zero-sum tradeoff. The crops that we have now, from bananas to corn, are a lot bigger and more robust and more productive per acre than the original domesticated plants. Whatever weaknesses they have, we use them because overall, they’re better.

      • The crops are bigger and more productive because that is what they were bred for. I am not sure they are more robust, versus better protected. But you are talking about post hoc adaptation. The topic here is preemptive adaptation. For example, switching people to a drought resistant crop because a computer model says droughts will increase. I have no doubt that humans will adapt if climate changes, whatever that means, but the adaptation rhetoric is about adapting ahead of time. That is the foolish part.

      • David

        You design the crop for a specific stress which currently limits the yield or geographical range of that crop (for example), thereby improving the yield or geographical range.

        If the genetic modification also causes undesirable side effects, then these must be considered and weighed.

        Seems pretty simple to me.

        Max

      • It’s called plant breeding, humans have been doing this for thousands of years.

        GM crops are specifically Monsanto – and the only genetic modification they have is that they withstand Roundup – which is produced by Monsanto.

        They don’t give a toss how good their GM crops are nutritionally, nor any other problems with it. All they care about is getting farmers tied into their patented product, to stop farmers saving their own seed and have to keep buying the Monsanto package. All this hype about “feeding the world” is advertising/pr nonsense.

        http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/exposed-the-great-gm-crops-myth-812179.html

        http://www.naturalnews.com/031138_Monsanto_Roundup.html

        How does Monsanto get away with not being sued themselves for contaminating neighbouring crops, but wins when they sue..?

        http://www.saynotogmos.org/farmers.htm

        So, let’s play octopus, ban Monsanto from the marketplace for all of its products…

        ..worldwide.

  35. Religious zealots hardly have a monopoly on apocalyptic thinking. Consider some of the environmental cataclysms that so many experts promised were inevitable. Best-selling economist Robert Heilbroner in 1974: “The outlook for man, I believe, is painful, difficult, perhaps desperate, and the hope that can be held out for his future prospects seem to be very slim indeed.” Or best-selling ecologist Paul Ehrlich in 1968: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over.

    In the 1970s [“and 1980s” was added in a later edition] the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked on now … nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.” Or Jimmy Carter in a televised speech in 1977: “We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”

    Predictions of global famine and the end of oil in the 1970s proved just as wrong as end-of-the-world forecasts from millennialist priests. Yet there is no sign that experts are becoming more cautious about apocalyptic promises. If anything, the rhetoric has ramped up in recent years. Echoing the Mayan calendar folk, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock one minute closer to midnight at the start of 2012, commenting: “The global community may be near a point of no return in efforts to prevent catastrophe from changes in Earth’s atmosphere.”

    Over the five decades since the success of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 and the four decades since the success of the Club of Rome’s The Limits to Growth in 1972, prophecies of doom on a colossal scale have become routine. Indeed, we seem to crave ever-more-frightening predictions—we are now, in writer Gary Alexander’s word, apocaholic. The past half century has brought us warnings of population explosions, global famines, plagues, water wars, oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, Y2K bugs, mad cow epidemics, killer bees, sex-change fish, cell-phone-induced brain-cancer epidemics, and climate catastrophes.

    So far all of these specters have turned out to be exaggerated. True, we have encountered obstacles, public-health emergencies, and even mass tragedies. But the promised Armageddons—the thresholds that cannot be uncrossed, the tipping points that cannot be untipped, the existential threats to Life as We Know It—have consistently failed to materialize. To see the full depth of our apocaholism, and to understand why we keep getting it so wrong, we need to consult the past 50 years of history.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/17/apocalypse-not-i-love-the-smell-of-skepticism-in-the-morning/

    • jim 2

      The one thing that ALL doomsday predictions have in common.

      They do not come true (or we wouldn’t be here today).

      This one is no different from all the others.

      Max

    • Jim2, you are right about past catastrophism. But you might want to read my book, Gaia’s Limits, before projecting ‘it’s all right’ too far into the future. There will need to be two specific adaptations by humanity to carrying capacity limits that will be reached before or by about 2050. Both adaptations are possible, but have not yet begun. The longer the world waits, the harder the landing will be. Especially since each takes on the order of 25 to 40 years to take effect. My biggest issue with CAGW is that it diverts attention from much more certain issues.

      • Would you care to tell us what these two specific adaptations are, Rud, or do we have to buy your book? By the way, if they take 40 years and must be completed by 2050, and have not begun, then it is too late. It takes 10 to 20 years just to gear up major action, just at the national level.

  36. Dr Gavin Schmidt:

    “Any decision that you’re making now that has to do with the future is uncertain. We make decisions all the time: where to invest money, whether to buy a house – these things aren’t certain, and we still have to make decisions. The issue with climate is that no action is a decision in and of itself. That one is actually laden with far more uncertainty than if we actually try and produce energy more efficiently, try and use more renewables, adjust the way we live so that we have a more sustainable future. The uncertainty comes with what would happen if we don’t make a decision, and I find that to be the dominant uncertainty. But climate change is not unique in having to deal with decision making under uncertainty. All decisions are like that. It’s nothing special about climate change in that there’s uncertainty about what’s going to happen in the future. Any time we decide to do anything, there’s uncertainty about the future, yet we still manage to get out of bed in the morning”

    http://climatesight.org/2011/10/18/a-conversation-with-gavin-schmidt/

    • “That one is actually laden with far more uncertainty than if we actually try and produce energy more efficiently, try and use more renewables, adjust the way we live so that we have a more sustainable future”

      There is less uncertainty, alright. Renewables are certain to make us poor. The current path of “renewables” is not sustainable. they are too expensive and a major push to move to them will make all of us a lot poorer, colder in the winter, and hotter in the summer. It is a dumb idea and anyone who pushes it is doing violence to our society and way of life. They should be convicted of negligence and put in prison. Muller’s idea to use fracking to increase the use of nat gas is a responsible idea. It may not be necessary, but at least it won’t bankrupt us.

      • Form good relationships.

      • “Muller’s idea to use fracking to increase the use of nat gas is a responsible idea.”

        Yes, it’s a good idea and then to go along with that, you do the analysis to see what the future prospects hold. I don’t understand why the latter gets ridiculed. That’s the point of this top-level post. Deep analysis always gets marginalized, unless it gets buried as corporate intellectual property, free from prying eyes. Then, its considered part of good business practice.

        This is all part of the “tragedy of the commons”. Tragedy in this case refers to the unavoidable outcome, not necessarily that it is value-laden. And humans are capable of preparing for these outcomes if they care to.

        This is also nothing new, as many studies show and we are at least subliminally aware, that people largely don’t like to think of their own inevitable death and thus avoid or procrastinate the planing. C’est la vie.

        Death and taxes. Certainty.
        Fossil fuels asymptotically gone. Certainty.
        Global warming. Uncertainty., certainly.

      • WHT – I don’t have a problem applying DE to the world’s problems. But DE aren’t a crystal ball. You can only project from what you already know. You don’t know what new inventions and developments are to come. So DE certainly has an important place in the scheme of planning, but it isn’t the end-all and be-all.

      • “You don’t know what new inventions and developments are to come.”

        Which definitely invalidates the premise of “Learning from the octupus”. Nothing can innovate like humankind can.

        But back to planning for the future: What percentage of significant modern-day inventions come about from someone writing a business plan or R&D request asking for sufficient funding? Whether to a government, internal corporate channels, or venture capitalists?

        Planning for the future and innovation work together. It is about anticipating what the customer will need in the future. We all know what that is — cheap energy. That is what drives the current global economy.

    • It is a good to hear Gavin utter the word uncertainty.

      It is good to hear they have stopped to say the debate is over and the science is in regarding to man made global warming.

      • He talks about uncertainty all the time. It would great to hear something out of you about uncertainty.

        Gavin’s 2nd article on RC, 2004, (emphasis mine):

        The biggest uncertainty in what will happen to climate in the future (say 30 years or more) is the course that the global economy will take and the changes in technology that may accompany that. …

      • the course that the global economy will take and the changes in technology that may accompany that.

        Gavin got that right, e.g. global fossil fuel depletion shocks. which makes him smarter than yeast.

      • JCH

        I disagree.

        The trajectory of CO2 concentration is fixed => http://bit.ly/OiuxFZ

        It has nothing to do with global economy, as the trajectory in the 2000s could have been determined by extrapolation of the 1960 to 1980 patten.

      • Germa said:

        “The trajectory of CO2 concentration is fixed => http://bit.ly/OiuxFZ

        It has nothing to do with global economy, as the trajectory in the 2000s could have been determined by extrapolation of the 1960 to 1980 patten.”/blockquote>
        Grade:
        F-

        You have no understanding of how a concentration builds up from the introduction of a non-condensing material. The total concentration is the convolution of the CO2 impulse response function with the CO2 forcing function. The forcing function depends almost totally on economic conditions as it is anthropogenic, but the the impulse response is fixed by diffusion and reactivity of the CO2 to sequestering sites.

        If the yearly global CO2 forcing ever starts to decrease (like it has in the USA recently) we will see this behavior more clearly in action. Even though the yearly injected CO2 has leveled off and started to decrease, the atmospheric levels will continue to increase.

        The mechanism of convolution is closely related to pure accumulation, but it allows part of the aggregate to incorporate. This explains why the AGW is only around 50% of that predicted from pure accumulation.

        Suffice to say, convolution works very accurately in predicting the CO2 levels from know emission data.

        You don’t know how to do this, but I do. As do the climate scientists worth their salt. You should probably read some of the books and articles on the subject before mouthing off with your ridiculous assertions.

      • Girma and JCH

        When Gavin says “uncertainty” he means.

        Unless we curtail CO2 emissions now it’s going to get bad – but there is “uncertainty” regarding just how bad it will get.

        As I understand Judith’s view on this it is more like:

        While added CO2 is likely to result in some global warming, there is great “uncertainty” whether or not this will be a perceptible warming or whether or not this warming might prove more beneficial than harmful for mankind (winners and losers).

        Two kinds of “uncertainty” – the first one based on the premise that “the science is settled” that human CO2 will lead to substantial global warming, while the second one is based on the logic that this premise is “uncertain” in itself.

        Max

      • Max,

        You’ve got it wrong, as usual.

        Judith has said that the effect of doubling CO2 levels will produce a warming of between 1 and 6 deg C (66% confidence limits). She’s even mentioned a figure as high as 10 deg C , with wider confidence limits.

        So, on the face of it, and if you take her words literally, she’s much more of a warmist than most of her colleagues.

      • And there is a 100% probability that a sensitivity in that range is meaningless since it is too wide to be actionable.

      • If you think you can ascribe a 100% probability to anything , you understand neither science nor statistics.

      • TT

        Three quotes from testimony under oath before a US congressional committee by our hostess here:

        1. “Anthropogenic climate change is a theory whose basic mechanism is well understood, but whose magnitude is highly uncertain.”

        2. “The threat from global climate change does not seem to be an existential one on the time scale of the 21st century even in its most alarming incarnation.”

        3. “It seems more important that robust policy responses be formulated rather than to respond urgently with policies that may fail to address the problem and whose unintended consequences have not been adequately explored.”

        That pretty much summarizes it for me, TT.

        No cause for alarm. Let’s first figure out whether or not we have a problem here, before we try to solve it.

        Would you agree with this?

        [I didn’t think so.]

        Max

      • Max,

        In my view you overinterpret the message.

        That the magnitude of the warming is highly uncertain is fully consistent with what IPCC AR4 tells. We know from other comments that she thinks that the uncertainty is somewhat larger than the IPCC view but that’s not a fundamental difference.

        Saying that the threat is not existential does not exclude a very serious threat.

        She tells that such policies should not be chosen that have a high risk of failing, but nothing in her message justifies your final conclusion “No cause for alarm. Let’s first figure out whether or not we have a problem here, before we try to solve it.”

      • Pekka Pirilä | August 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm |

        “Max,

        In my view you overinterpret the message.

        That the magnitude of the warming is highly uncertain is fully consistent with what IPCC AR4 tells. We know from other comments that she thinks that the uncertainty is somewhat larger than the IPCC view but that’s not a fundamental difference.

        Saying that the threat is not existential does not exclude a very serious threat.”

        But for the serious threat one has to look beyond 100 years. Though demigods may find threats thousands in years future somewhat urgent, most mere mortals are less impressed.

        Or the temperature change in last 100 year has no been a threat, and temperature in next 100 years are essentially going to resemble the last 100 years. One can assume this leading the top of the roller coaster and after 100 years it might get exciting.
        This future excitement is unlikely. But even if were to be exciting, doing “something about it” could for many reasons, be more easily address once it’s within say 50 years of being of possibility.

        For the longer future, the major element is involves China and other regions of potential economic betterment. In the near term, many would regard doing something about the billions of people who below poverty.
        How they economically improve there lives should the question rather if they should improve their living conditions. Therefore how this should occur is what is important if looking beyond 100 years.

        Wind mills and solar panels are not going to be an important part of such a future. As has been explained endless.
        What could major parts of energy picture, could hydro power, natural gas, and nuclear energy. All these are low CO2 emission. All these are “sustainable” for centuries. Nuclear and hydro are thousands of years.

        One could also look at other paths. One path could involve opening space frontier. Another near term path could involve developing technology to mine methane Hydrates [natural gas in oceans]. Another
        avenue could develop technologies that can directly change CO2 levels in atmosphere: ocean iron fertilization seems most promising, but unused technology that needs to demonstrated and seen what possible consequences are related to doing this on small scale [so larger scale problems could known before embarking on the possibly doing this.

      • Max,

        You quote from Judith’s testimony to the US congress. There is a dead link to Judith’s 2007 on her home page”

        04.26.2007: Congressional testimony for hearing on “Dangerous Climate Change.”

        http://www.eas.gatech.edu/static/pdf/Curry_Energy.pdf

        Judith,

        Any chance you can fix that?

  37. > Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

    Ovipars, take note.

  38. ‘The future ain’t what it use to be.’
    ( Of uncertain origin, attributed ter Yogi Berra.)

    Planning fer climate change?
    Sea rise, fire storm, ice age,
    Chance of one eyed giants ahead …

    So what do yer do?
    (Choose yer preferred option.)

    Pray fer a miracle?
    Rev up on central planning?
    (Spend, spend, spend.)
    Produce and adapt?
    (Somethin’ else.)

  39. “the world is a much less predictable place than humans would like to believe”

    This is a rather unscientific generalization. Some things are predictable, some are not. We use science to discover which is which.

    When are the interesting topics going to come back?

    Andrew

  40. I’m all for biomimickry in engineering, for better understanding of sea life from a perspective of mathematical bioeconomics (Colin W. Clark’s 1990 texbookt by that title remains a favorite read), for adapting strategies from whatever source to the need at hand, and heck, I even like octopuses just from the point of view of sheer entertainment value. http://deepseanews.com/2012/05/tgif-one-does-not-simply-walk-into-the-lower-intertidal/

    However, with shark populations dropping worldwide by 90% in just a few short decades of overpredation by us, it’s probably best not to imitate everything the octopus does.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFOEZh1Lbbg

    And let’s understand what’s really being said here:

    Form good relationships. An organism can survive, and thrive, in the presence of an enemy by forming symbiotic relationships that can take a multitude of forms. These relationships can link aggressive, highly toxic species (clown fish living in anemone tentacles, for example), or they can link small and large organisms (such as bioluminescent bacteria living within the organs of deep-sea fish). Sometimes the relationships are transient, sometimes permanent.

    The USA has excellent relationships. It counts many alliances among the world’s most powerful and advanced, most populous and religious, most diverse and interesting nations. Small wonders, with a military budget that exceeds that of our 15-25 most powerful allies. What’s more, we borrow from those nations to send our military might to protect those nations, or in some cases, we borrow from some to send our military might to defend our allies from those same non-allied business partners.

    What does this mean? Massive government spending, high taxes, high borrowing, to borrow Joe Biden’s ill-chosen phraseology chains of debt on our children placed on them by our hawkish extremist adventurist minority and their defense-industry cronies. It curtails the possibilities of all of us, for the warrish benefit of a few.

    Never stop adapting. A fundamental tenet of evolutionary biology is that organisms must constantly adapt just to stay in the same strategic position relative to their enemies — who are constantly changing as well. For example, to protect its DNA against viruses, a host organism must continually change the access code to its genetic material.

    While for an ordinary person this means focus on education, especially higher education, learn and innovate, embrace change and diversity, expand your repertoire of responses and develop new interests endlessly, while abandoning any tradition or belief, attitude or value when it becomes obsolete, it appears the author means destabilize your social fabric by polarization and ever-increasingly tyrannical state security overriding individual liberties.

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The ability to adapt is limited by competing demands. An organism that puts all its energy into acquiring mates may be woefully unprepared for an attack by a skilled enemy. A male peacock with his feathers fully extended might set female hearts fluttering, but the flashy display also leaves him dangerously exposed. An organism prone to such behavior could only have evolved in a relatively predator-free environment.

    Again, while this sounds like it means something almost wise and prudent, it appears to be suggesting that sex is bad and anything that doesn’t involve an increase in military defense spending is dangerous. Because of course there are so many predators eagerly going after the USA because of America’s ostentatious sexiness and big showy bottom. This is alarmism at its highest level.

    Be redundant. Many species spawn an overabundance of offspring to improve their chances of survival. Many genes have multiple copies of DNA to protect genetic material against attack.

    Because you can’t send enough sons and daughters off to foreign countries to protect the oil interests of third party nations that you borrow from to pay for your military adventures. After all, redundant means expendable, and what else are a nation’s children, to its hawks?

    Be flexible. Evolutionary success requires the ability to adapt rapidly to changed circumstances.

    Reads as, ‘bend over backwards and dance, puppet, to whatever tune we call because you will believe anything.’

  41. A male [sic] peacock with his feathers fully extended might set female hearts fluttering, but the flashy display also leaves him dangerously exposed. An organism prone to such behavior could only have evolved in a relatively predator-free environment.

    Actually, the peacock’s tail has been offered as an example of the handicap principle:

    The tail of a peacock makes the peacock more vulnerable to predators, and is therefore a handicap. However, the message that the tail carries to the potential mate peahen may be ‘I have survived in spite of this huge tail; hence I am fitter and more attractive than others’.

    The peacock’s defenses include a long sharp beak backed by a long, muscular neck and good reflexes, as well as powerful spurs on long legs with powerful muscles. Far from evolving in a “relatively predator-free environment“, the peacock is well adapted to life in high-predator circumstances.

    I’m a bit skeptical of arguments coming from someone who doesn’t research his examples better than this, especially a biologist.

    • +2

    • Vaughan Pratt

      I’m a bit skeptical of arguments coming from someone who doesn’t research his examples better than this, especially a biologist.

      Get off your high horse. However appealing the handicap principle might be for its creativity and novelty, it remains controversial today.

      • That’s not the point. Controversial or not, it’s an accepted hypothesis that explains the observed behavior. The peacock’s weapons are well known and there’s no reason to think it evolved in a predator-sparse environment.

        The fact that he doesn’t even reference this well-known hypothesis is sufficient to justify skepticism. Nothing he says is worth accepting without detailed examination of every example, and the logical parallels he’s making. Which was my point. There’s a difference between skepticism and blanket rejection, after all.

      • Anyway, the handicap principle makes excellent sense explaining things with no other plausible explanation, and I’m more than “a bit” skeptical of anybody who doesn’t accept it, at least provisionally.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @AK: the handicap principle makes excellent sense explaining things with no other plausible explanation

        No other plausible explanation??? I’m a bit skeptical of arguments coming from someone who doesn’t research his examples better than this.

        Things the handicap principle purports to explain have a much more plausible explanation, namely that the ability of a male (in typical examples) to squander a resource merely signals a would-be mate that he has ample resources to provide for her and to endow her offspring with equally superior abilities. This is (a) obvious and (b) does not involve handicaps.

        Were I flaunting my excess resources to entice an appreciative mate I would steer well clear of any dame who bizarrely interpreted it as signalling I was deliberately trying to handicap myself. Our dinner conversations would be terribly convoluted and our kids would be dysfunctional in school.

        I’m not complaining, mind you. The logic underlying the handicap principle is the sort of logic Monty Python skits thrive on. I love Monty Python skits because I’m a logician who gets his kicks from their abuse of logic. With their departure I’m reduced to blogs like Climate Etc. where I can find bizarre arguments galore. Your contribution is gratefully acknowledged.

      • Peafowl are capable of quite effective violence, for critters of their size; they aren’t quite as lethal as geese and swans, but they’re hardly helpless.

        They are, however, extremely domesticated http://www.peafowl.org/ARTICLES/12/ if the males have any substantial train, and it is likely the train is the product of selective breeding, not evolution. There’s a breed of rooster in Japan with a far longer train than a peacock’s. (http://forum.lowyat.net/topic/2380257/all)

        On, and the train on a peacock? An effective diversionary weapon in combat, as well as impressive threat display.

      • “The logic underlying the handicap principle is the sort of logic Monty Python skits thrive on. I love Monty Python skits because I’m a logician who gets his kicks from their abuse of logic. With their departure I’m reduced to blogs like Climate Etc. where I can find bizarre arguments galore. Your contribution is gratefully acknowledged.”

        This is a great testimonial to Climate Etc. It’s what keeps us coming back for more. The Argument and Abuse skit from Monty Python also applies..

      • Were I flaunting my excess resources to entice an appreciative mate I would steer well clear of any dame who bizarrely interpreted it as signalling I was deliberately trying to handicap myself. Our dinner conversations would be terribly convoluted and our kids would be dysfunctional in school.

        Either you’re joking or you totally don’t understand evolutionary theory. Are you a creationist?

      • or you totally don’t understand evolutionary theory

        I would have thought anyone putting forward the handicap principle as a cornerstone of evolutionary theory had a rather idiosyncratic view of the subject.

  42. Building our adaptive capacity and imagining black swan scenarios seem like a much better bet than putting all our eggs in the CO2 mitigation strategy tied projections of future climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2.

    The mother of all false dichotomies built on a straw(man) foundation.

  43. What a jumble of muddle-headed thinking. Dr Curry should talk to someone in the biology department who studies evolution for a living. This guy is all over the place. His ‘we should be like the animals’ comes straight out of the bestiaries of many hundreds of years ago: ‘Work like the virtuous bee, who toils all day.’

    In the discussion of what animals ‘do,’ there is a confusion of levels. Different species of fish deal with the threat of shark predation in different ways, but each one only uses its own adaptive method. To say that ‘fish’ have many ways of dealing with sharks is untrue for any individual species, much less any individual fish. Each species does only what natural selection has shaped it to do, and each is locked in to its own very limited adaptation.

    Species are not – when faced with an immediate challenge – ‘adaptable. Evolutionary adaptation takes time: species do not evolve overnight. Sagarin takes the adaptation that has been created over (tens of) millions of years, and proposes it as a model for human behavior. The fact is that the human species is the single most adaptive on the planet. Without natural selection, we have been able to modify our environment to enter ecological niches unavailable to our biologically-identical ancestors. We have escaped the limits of our biology in ways that make the tricks of the octopus look as trifles.

    Some quotes that would piss off any evolutionary biologist:

    “An organism can survive, and thrive, in the presence of an enemy by forming symbiotic relationships”

    No – a SPECIES can ‘form’ symbiotic relationships over time through natural selection. An organism can only do what it is programed to do. A single organism is either a symbiote or it isn’t. This language confuses levels of selection.

    “A fundamental tenet of evolutionary biology is that organisms must constantly adapt just to stay in the same strategic position relative to their enemies ”

    No. Zebras have been zebras for a long time, and are not ‘constantly adapting.’ Organisms do not adapt – populations do. A true fundamental tenet of evolutionary biology is that evolution occurs at the population level, not at the organismal level. In time, (should they survive long enough), the species zebra will have to adapt and become a new species or die out, but individual zebras stay the same throughout their lives.

    “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The ability to adapt is limited by competing demands. An organism that puts all its energy into acquiring mates may be woefully unprepared for an attack by a skilled enemy. A male peacock with his feathers fully extended might set female hearts fluttering, but the flashy display also leaves him dangerously exposed”

    No. The peacock is as successful in its environment as any other species. Some species seem, to our eyes, to favor one aspect of survival or reproduction over another, but by definition, each works. Each, no matter how extreme to the naive observer, has found a proper balance. And while there are many ‘generalists,’ there is no species that strikes a perfect ‘balance’ that the writer is seeking.

    “Be redundant. Many species spawn an overabundance of offspring to improve their chances of survival.”

    Is the author suggesting that humans should produce thousands of children each? Being ‘redundant’ is one strategy. Putting all your eggs in one basket (having few offspring) is another. Each is successful in its own way. Neither is a superior model to the other.

    “Be flexible. Evolutionary success requires the ability to adapt rapidly to changed circumstances. ”

    And finally, No, no, no. Evolutionary success – at least on the macro level, like fish and mammals and reptiles – is not rapid. Rapid change kills off species. Evolutionary change comes from the slow spread of mutations through populations. If this wasn’t true, we’d have to reason to worry about ‘endangered’ species.

    Executive summary: Sagarin does not understand natural selection. This is a classic case of ‘a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.’ Any graduate student of evolution should be able to tell you the same thing. If this came out of an undergraduate evolution class, the paper would get a failing grade.

    • MarkB

      You have made good points.

      • Not really, he was good at missing the points by being too literal.

        “No. The peacock is as successful in its environment as any other species. ” Was was the Dodo and the Mastodon. http://www.indiatraveltimes.com/travelnews/tn2006/tnaug06/aug06_25.html, Until man came along.

        “Putting all your eggs in one basket (having few offspring) is another. Each is successful in its own way. Neither is a superior model to the other.” Perhaps that is why both were mentioned.

        “Rapid change kills off species.” Slow, rapid, what is time to a universe. The killing off of species kinda jump starts evolution would ya think?

        “Executive summary: Sagarin MarkB does not understand natural selection. ” Humans are just another perturbation in the grand scheme of things., unless of course you are into intelligent design.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        I’m with you on this “literal” thing, cd, but evolutionary biologists don’t seem to be. My wife the botanist accuses me of being too teleological and other such adjectives and I accuse her of being too literal.

        My (probably confused) theory is that it’s a pedagogical thing: you have to be literal with students in the beginning because supposedly they can’t mix their metaphors any better than they can mix their drinks. And since a new wave of freshmen (or sophomores, or first year grad students) washes in every year, those teaching evolutionary biology are forever dealing with the early stages of explaining this stuff, and so being literal becomes a habit.

        You and I can hopefully look forward to biology instruction evolving beyond that.

      • Vaughan, Women in general keep me confused :) BTW, I played around with that land use flux data a bit.

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-land-use-stuff.html

        There is nothing conclusive about anything in this puzzle, but I still can’t see land use not being at least 0.2C of the warming in the NH. You have to squint hard, but there is a lagged impact.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @cd: Women in general keep me confused

        S’ok as long as you avoid the ones that are doing it intentionally. :)

        I still can’t see land use not being at least 0.2C of the warming in the NH

        If you mean since 1900 say, I don’t have any strong evidence against that. And I’m not sure what I’d do with it even if I did.

    • I think people are confusing two different things. Evolutionary adaptation is a very slow process. Adaptation by intelligence is a much faster process. Octopi are rather intelligent mollusks. They can figure things out that clams can’t.

      Being intelligent means adapting in a much shorter period of time. That’s how humans were able to adapt to six continents from the Arctic Circle to the Equator.

      Another example of an intelligent, and very adaptable species is the crow. I see crows competing with seagulls for the same niche on the beach here. They forage for the same crabs and clams left exposed by the tides. In addition, the crows pick flesh out of barnacles, which the more specifically adapted gulls can’t do. But the gulls can only do what they’re adapted to do, whereas the crows can also fill many different niches in other locations. And they can communicate, and even spread their version of technology.

      Some time a few decades ago, crows in Japan were observed deliberately putting nuts on roads so cars can crack them. They didn’t always do this. They learned how to do this. But the interesting thing is that the practice has spread to other continents. Now crows do this in North America. It’s not in their instinct. They learned to do it, and the technique spread, and it spread in a matter of decades. That’s a lot faster process than evolution.

      • Big deal, and largely irrelevant. Dolphins and whales are smart too. That won’t necessarily prevent them from going extinct.

      • And humans may demonstrate the ability to kill ourselves off long before we manage to kill off whales and dolphines. Tough to predict which is more likely

      • Very little chance of that happening. That’s also a doomer mindset, and one that seems prevalent amongst the climate skeptics.

      • David Springer

        Rob Starkey | August 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Reply

        “And humans may demonstrate the ability to kill ourselves off long before we manage to kill off whales and dolphines. Tough to predict which is more likely”

        Difficult to imagine any anthropogenic cause capable of causing human species to go extinct. A great die off is certainly possible but even if population was reduced 99.999% that still leaves a million survivors which is a large enough population to preserve genetic diversity and continue the species.

      • Talk about missing the point.

        Whales are intelligent, but not very adaptable. Crows are adaptable. Intelligence is necessary but not sufficient for adaptability. .

        It’s a sign of the times that we have so many people who show so much more intelligence than adaptability. No, they shouldn’t be saved. The intelligent but not adaptable should go extinct.

      • Again a doomer point-of-view. Instead of saying “The intelligent but not adaptable should go extinct”, I would rather mildly suggest that lifeforms such as smallpox should go extinct. In fact, all species are adaptable, as they adapted to fill a niche in the first place.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        lifeforms such as smallpox should go extinct

        Agreed. In the symbiosis between those who love gold and geese that lay golden eggs, the survival of the latter should be of great interest to the former. Vice versa is not so clear.

        Smallpox is to its host as lovers of gold are to the geese: the supply of hosts matters more to the smallpox than vice versa. We are the geese in that symbiosis.

        Smallpox should not want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, but does it know this? The Lotka-Volterra equation regulates this pretty well in the one-predator-one-prey case but not so well when there are multiple prey. A predator can afford to hunt a species to extinction as long as there remain other species to sustain the predator. Avian flu might deplete humans and chickens, but depleting humans to extinction need not prejudice the survival of avian flu as long as plenty of chickens remain, at which point Lotka-Volterra kicks in.

      • WHT said:

        Big deal, and largely irrelevant. Dolphins and whales are smart too. That won’t necessarily prevent them from going extinct.

        Next comment he said:

        That’s also a doomer mindset, and one that seems prevalent amongst the climate skeptics.

        Can you believe how the CAGW alarmists think and preach their beliefs?

      • Well you got me there. It has been estimated that around 100 species a day go extinct.* The river dolphin in China, if not extinct, has gone scarce. That will continue to occur just out of momentum but I prefer to think we can do something to stem that tide. Unlike the guy I was responding to who said “The intelligent but not adaptable should go extinct.”

        * In May, 2007 Ahmed Djoghlaf, head of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, said that “Extinction rates are rising by a factor of up to 1,000 above natural rates. Every hour, three species disappear. Every day, up to 150 species are lost.”

      • WebHubTelescope | August 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm said: ” Dolphins and whales are smart too. That won’t necessarily prevent them from going extinct’

        If dolphins and whales are extinct in Switzerland, who told you that they will be extinct in other places?.Wake up, before starting with your daily lies.

      • peterdavies252

        The story of the crows sounds to me like the monkey washing bananas thing that was put up in support of a theory of collective consciousness spreading across widely separated species. Problem with the monkey washing hypothesis was that it later was found to be fraudulent.

    • Yes, Sagarin’s sloppy wording grated on my understanding of the ecological principles too. Nevertheless, ecologists and behaviorists have known these things for decades. The pity is that climate science has been dominated by geologists and physisists who don’t know the biological principles. When they became advocates for policy, their recommendations naturally were hindered by the limitations of their experiences.

  44. JC says “Building our adaptive capacity and imagining black swan scenarios seem like a much better bet than putting all our eggs in the CO2 mitigation strategy tied projections of future climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2.” While I would agree that adaptive capacity is worthwhile developing, “imagining black swan scenarios” would of course have to take into account prediction, while a premise of this article is that the octopus survives without predicting anything therefore we shouldn’t predict anything, which includes black swan scenarios.

  45. The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.

    To a mouse by Robert Burns: 1756 to 1796

    “Still you are blest, compared with me!
    The present only touches you:
    But oh! I backward cast my eye,
    On prospects dreary!
    And forward, though I cannot see,
    I guess and fear!”

    An ode to Climate Scientists, nay, a refrain.

  46. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    If you want to learn about security and adaptability from nature, I can think of no better place to start than to stare into the eye of an octopus.

    I think the best place to look would be the histories and present conditions of human ethnic groups: European, Chinese, African and others. These display a great variety of successful and unsuccessful attempts at adaptation to a diversity of environments.

  47. ‘that organisms realized long ago’

    It is ok to personify organisms in general for literary reasons but it is scientifically wrong to make this assumption in general. Evolution is usually painfully slow, partly because it makes so many mistakes and there is nothing wrong with trying to short circuit the process. Because of the long time constants (actually transport delays) of oceans, change and adaptation is bound to be a slow process – our present climate is always a reflection of our more distant past. For example, the heat from the sharp rise in atmospheric temperature between 1905 and 1940 took until 1970 to percolate through the oceans and start to warm the atmosphere again. Whatever Sagarin says, this is a legitimate use of predictive physics.

  48. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Peter Lang, your numerous posts here on Climate Etc fail chiefly in consequence of their too-rapid discounting of future harms.

    As was posted before, the following syllogism is inarguable:

    • Libertarian / freemarket principles failed utterly to protect the ozone layer.

    • Libertarian / freemarket principles are failing utterly to reduce CO2 emissions too.

    • So if James Hansen’s worldview is scientifically and morally right, then the libertarian / freemarket worldview is scientifically and morally wrong.

    These three propositions each are simple and obvious, eh Peter Lang?

    In particular, given the striking warming-events of summer 2012, aren’t the rational Bayesian odds in favor of the proposition “James Hansen’s worldview is scientifically and morally right” increasing day-by-day?’

    And therefore, Peter Lang, if the above reasoning is mainly why you are sure that James Hansen is wrong, then *for sure* you are an irrational denialist, not a rational skeptic, eh? That is why summer 2012 is a good time to adjust your opinions in the face of mounting evidence, Peter Lang!   :)   :)   :)

    Conclusion  Denialists are not dumb, rather, their cognitive capacity is restricted by predetermined conclusions.

    This impersonal “know thyself” insight is good for *every* denialist to appreciate, eh? :lol: 2¢ :lol: 2¢ :lol:

    Peter Lang, hopefully this simple explanation has helped you! Thank you for illustrating denialist cognition so plainly, Peter Lang!   :)   :)   :)

    • Fan,

      The Left’s moral values are your moral values, They’re not mine. Many of the Left’s moral values are repugnant to me. Elitist ideologues like yourself, who account for perhaps 0.01% of world population want to impose you ideology on everyone else. You couldn’t care less about what your ideology means in terms of harmful effects on human well being. To you that is important as long as you get a win imposing your dreadful policies. cause death. So don’t talk to me about moral values. Yours are repugnan.t

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Latimer Alder, of your reply’s seven sentences, all seven are personal rather than objective.

        Why do you embrace abusive, non-rational discourse, Latimer Alder?   :?:   :!:   :?:

        Perhaps if you were to write a reasoned response, its composition would be illuminating to you, and the result would be illuminating to others!   :?:   :!:   :?:

        Let us hope so, Latimer Alder!   :)   :)   :)

      • Peter, I believe Fan fears you are trapped in an evil ideology. While his methods may sometimes be harsh (tough love), he is trying to help you free yourself from Satan’s snare, and I believe you can if you try.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Max_OK, with respect to climate-change, we need not fear *evil* denialism, nearly so much as *unreasoned* denialism.

        Blest with a Taste exact, yet unconfin’d;
        A Knowledge both of Books and Humankind;

        Gen’rous Converse; a Sound exempt from Pride;
        And Love to Praise, with Reason on [their] Side.

        Such once were Criticks, such the Happy Few,
        Athens and Rome in better Ages knew.

            — Alexander Pope

        Are those not wise words, Max_OK?   :)   :)   :)

      • Yes, wise words.

        I guess I think of “unreasoned” as sin, and associate sin with evil.

      • Peter –

        The Left’s moral values are your moral values, They’re not mine. Many of the Left’s moral values are repugnant to me. Elitist ideologues like yourself, who account for perhaps 0.01% of world population want to impose you ideology on everyone else. You couldn’t care less about what your ideology means in terms of harmful effects on human well being. To you that is important as long as you get a win imposing your dreadful policies. cause death. So don’t talk to me about moral values. Yours are repugnan.t

        Wow. Good to see that you don’t allow your politics to affect your views on science. Why just look at your willingness to accurately describe the reality behind policies of “elitists” on “the right,” who cynically overstated risks and exploited fears about terrorism to justify the invasion of Iraq, hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, trillions of tax dollars spent, etc.

        I commend you for your cold, objective analysis, Peter.

        Oh.

        Wait.

        My bad.

      • So your saying that Tony Blair, British Labour PM at the time was on the “Right” are you?

        Grow up.

      • Peter –

        You missed my point. My point was that your simplistic analysis, that is categorical in the face of obvious confounding evidence, is weak. I’m not saying that low moral values are associated with any political ideology. You are the one who is saying that.

        It is clear, without a doubt, that the main driver of what I described is rightwing ideology. That some of “the left” went along is, in no way, any disproof of that. That you would offer it as some sort of proof is, again, only evidence of poor analysis.

        I didn’t offer my comment to support some facile categorical association between rightwing ideology and weak morality, but to help you see how your analytical ability is paralyzed by your political extremism.

  49. Speaking of learning, anyone remember:

    David Wojick | May 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm | If anyone finds an online platform and wants to try doing an issue tree, I will be happy to critique it, by way of teaching the method and testing the tool.

    Well, I’ve been patient for going on three months now. I know you’re a busy man, but if there’s a critique, I must have missed it:

    http://prezi.com/1qkiqxi1bqza/issue-tree-private-sourced-climate-change-curriculum-for-k-12-problems-outweigh-benefits/

    • Apart from the mundane technical problems, the issues you highlight express so little trust not only in the private providers but also the educators and students that it’s difficult to know where to start.

      Private providers as devious manipulators, educators as passive conduits and students as victims. A perfect triptych of the ruination of innocence in modern society.

      It would have been much simpler to put David Wojick’s name underneath a picture of the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and be done with it.

    • My first guess was Romania. But then I saw it was California.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tehachapi_Pass_Wind_Farm

        From jim2’s point of view, the 1980’s is the future.

        Try this: http://www.makanipower.com/

      • Yeah, 1984,

      • jim2 | August 18, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

        Well played! A palpable hit.

        I am so going to use that one the next time I mistakenly refer to a photo from the 1980’s as current and get called on it.

      • Bart, the link to the flying turbine – I’ve seen that before. It looks like just another nutty idea. I can imagine the chaos when the wind picks up at a field of 100 flying turbines! How will that be managed? It will be a nightmare.

      • jim2 | August 19, 2012 at 11:18 am |

        How will it be managed?

        It’s called a computer. Though I can understand, given the primitive regard computers are held in by some where simulation and models are concerned, how it might give a few nightmares.

      • Well done BartR. You’d believe any nonsense put up on the internet that supports your ideological belief in renewable energy and CAGW, wouldn’t you BartR?

        Have you considered piping hydrogen from the Sun to power the world?

      • “Have you considered piping hydrogen from the Sun to power the world?”

        Won’t work because Oliver K Manuel says the sun is made out of iron, and because of that, Dwight D. Eisenhower will steal your socks.

      • Peter Lang | August 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm |

        And yet, I don’t believe things that turn out to be lies when checked. There’s a photograph of 1980’s era windmills being sold as an “image of the future” that have since been removed and replaced by 2005 technology, which is one sixth or less as efficient as expected 2014 technology.. and the 2014 technology is from a private, unsubsidized corporation competing against subsidized fossil energy — or do you not recognize that Keystone is a proposal to ship Canadian synth-oil produced after $40 BILLION in subsidies from the government of Canada to the oil industry? Or that expropriation at fire-sale prices of US land for Trans Canada Pipeline (40% Chinese-owned, 20% Russian-owned) is morally outrageous?

        So go ahead and laugh at my ideology while the USA is given away piece-by-piece; we know which side your ideology backs.

      • BartR,

        If you believe wind power is any sort of solution to energy security or greenhouse gas reductions your off with the pixies.

        Did you miss the discussion about wind energy on the previous thread, including this (fuel and emissions avoided by wind power is equivalent to about 4% of the the capacity of the wind plants).
        http://www.clepair.net/statlineanalyse201208.html

      • Peter Lang | August 19, 2012 at 2:05 am |

        *yawn* Barking up the wrong tree late in the game, since we’re talking about old German technology used in Norway, updated from old French technology used in California.

        Makani’s calculations of their energy footprint are even farther ahead on the curve thain their energy output. Their whole design philosophy is built on low-mass, cheap, low-energy materials because, well, when you fly a kite it has to be light. While I don’t know that Makani will win the wind race, I observe the industry is maturing and due for a sizable leap in efficiency very shortly based on the technology in testing today.

        So showing me calculations from yesterday’s pundits about yesterday’s mistakes — which I was pointing out when the 2005 windmills were first being sold to overeager and short-sighted governments — achieves nothing. This concept of past and future, how long have you had issues telling the difference?

      • BartR

        *yawn* People like you have been swallowing that sort of nonsense about the bright future of wind and solar power for at least two decades.

        Your just gullible.

      • Peter Lang,

        I hate to play school marm (I’m not built for it), but that’s twice, and it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard this late/early.

        your – possessive pronoun

        you’re – contraction of “you are”

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Peter Lang quotes an article claiming to prove that windpower does not reduce CO2 based on the following argument:

        The construction of windturbines, their installation, grid adaptation and connection require considerable investments of energy. Some think these costs should not be taken into account because that is also not done for conventional plants. This is erroneous. Conventional plants are being installed to produce electricity according to societal demand. Wind turbines are not. They are being added to the system in order to save fuel and to diminish CO 2 emissions. The question of whether they actually do therefore becomes essential. If not, they would only be superfluous supplements adding to the investment and other costs of the system.

        What a creative argument for ignoring the cost of constructing, installing, etc. conventional plants! It argues that you can omit that cost from the total cost on the ground that society does not want wind power.

        What fascinating bookkeeping. Next time I need to dodge the IRS I should check if he’s available to balance my books.

      • Vaughn Pratt,

        How much emissions are avoided by wind generation without the last add on bit you’ve quoted and misleading tried to imply is the whole, or even main, part of the analysis?

      • Vaughan Pratt

        To the contrary, it was the only part or your argument. Try stating your argument without it and you’ll see that it falls apart.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        To the contrary, it was the only part or your argument.
        Try stating your argument without it and you’ll see that it falls apart.

        Here is the figure excluding the emissions from the energy invested in the plant

        From the actual Statline production figures we know that 38% of this 23 MW = 8,74 MW represents the actual fossil fuel and CO2 savings.

        You could easily have read that for yourself, but didn’t bother or didn’t understand it. Further evidence that you are willing to BS about things you have no understanding of.

        You’d think you’d confine your arrogant comments to subjects within your area of expertise (if you have any that is)

        The question now is: Do you have the guts to admit when you are wrong? Or will you slink away. Or will you try to make some devious distracting argument to avoid having to admit you are wrong.?

        I gave you links to a number of papers showing that wind energy avoids much less CO2 emissions than claimed by the proponents. The amount avoided decreases as wind penetration increases. So you have to understand what you are doing.

      • Here is the figure excluding the emissions from the energy invested in the plant

        Sorry but that’s no argument at all. If the cost of wind turbines that you’re citing there is say 10% of that for conventional plants, whether measured in dollars or emissions, then it’s a no-brainer to prefer wind power..

        What you didn’t show in the original comment I took objection to is that the cost of construction of conventional plants, their installation, grid adaptation and connection is less than the corresponding costs for wind turbines. Instead you argued that people didn’t want wind turbines. Without conventional plant costs, that claim was the only thing in your argument that supports it.

      • @Peter Lang: You could easily have read that for yourself, but didn’t bother or didn’t understand it.

        Taking this as a suggestion that I research the relative construction etc. costs of coal-fired plants vs. wind turbines myself, I dug up the following two items.

        1. Coal Plant Construction Costs.

        2. How much do wind turbines cost?

        The first item is from 2008 and starts out with “the estimated costs of building new coal plants have reached $3,500 per kW.”

        The second item says “The costs for a commercial scale wind turbine in 2007 ranged from $1.2 million to $2.6 million, per MW of nameplate capacity installed.” That’s not just the wind turbine itself: “Cost components for wind projects include wind resource assessment and site analysis expenses; the price and freight of the turbine and tower; construction expenses; permitting and interconnection studies; utility system upgrades, transformers, protection, and metering equipment; insurance; operations, warranty, maintenance, and repair; legal and consultation fees. Others factors that will impact your project economics include your financing costs, the size of your project, and taxes”

        So per megawatt we’re comparing $3.5M for a coal plant vs. $1.2M to $2.4M for wind turbines.

        On this basis I don’t find convincing the argument that the cost of providing wind turbine power is prohibitive. In fact it seems the other way round.

      • So Vaughan, I don’t see the cost of backup power for when the wind isn’t blowing. It is known that power from nat gas or some other energy source is necessary.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        You are misrepresenting what I said and what you said.

        You misrepresented what I’d said in your comment here: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230307 and
        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230984
        (I suspect they were intentional misrepresentations)

        I corrected you here: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230988

        Now if you had some intellectual integrity, you’d admit you are wrong and don’t have clue about what you are pontificating on.

        But, no, you can’t admit you are wrong, presumably because you are a teacher and, therefore, cannot afford to admit mistakes for fear your authority would be blown.

        Your latest comment tries to change tack. We were discussing the point that wind generation does not avoid as much emissions as claimed by the renewable energy advocates. That is the point under discussion. I’ve provided many links to substantiate that point. Here are two others:
        Herbert Inhaber (2011) Why wind power does not deliver the expected emissions reductions
        Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 15, Issue 6, August 2011, Pages 2557-2562
        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/13640321
        Joe Wheatley (2011) <emissions savings from wind power
        http://joewheatley.net/emissions-savings-from-wind-power/

        Your new tack is to divert to costs and make up some hypothetical situation:

        If the cost of wind turbines that you’re citing there is say 10% of that for conventional plants, whether measured in dollars or emissions, then it’s a no-brainer to prefer wind power.

        What is this gobbledygook? I’d suggest the ‘no brainer’ is that your ‘no-brain’ needs a transplant.

        Your last paragraph is more gobbledygook and again misrepresents what I’ve said. I never said “people don’t want wind turbines”. You made that up. I would not say that because I know that economically irrational people and people who are ignorant of the facts about wind power, like you, do want wind turbines. There are plenty of gullible people around.

        If you want a simple cost estimate of the costs of renewable energy in a system, including the CO2 abatement cost – and you refuse to read the Professor Gordon Hughes paper – then here is an alternative (see Figure 6 and 7):
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/
        In short, the CO2 abatement cost is about $300/tonne CO2, or about thirty times the current EU carbon price.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        You are exposing that you haven’t even the most basic understanding of electricity generation costs. Have you ever heard of capacity factor?

        Could I persuade you to download the pdf here http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/ , and read the appendices as well.

        Please note that this does not even take into account that the wind turbines avoid less emissions than is claimed by the proponents. It assumes 100% avoidance for every 1 kWh generated by wind (i.e., 1 kWh of wind generation is assumed to avoid 100% of the emissions from 1 kWh of the fossil fuel generators displaced by the wind generation). If this was corrected the CO2 abatement cost would be even higher.

      • Excellent point, jim2 So we still don’t have a complete answer for the comparison that Peter Lang seemed to think was obvious. Perhaps he can supply the missing information.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        Here http://bree.gov.au/documents/publications/Australian_Energy_Technology_Assessment.pdf are authoritative costs presented on a properly comparable basis. Table 5.2.6 compares these costs in this report with costs from other authoritative sources such as:
        IRENA 2012
        UKDECC 2011 *
        IIASA 2012 a
        IEA 2012 b
        IEA 2010 c *
        IDAE 2011

        As mentioned in my previous comment, I’d urge you to read the pdf linked here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/ because it gives the costs in a mixed system (as distinct from the cost for the individual technologies as presented in the AETA report)

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        Excellent point, jim2 So we still don’t have a complete answer for the comparison that Peter Lang seemed to think was obvious. Perhaps he can supply the missing information.

        Done. over and over again! Perhaps you should read what I’ve said and also read the links. Try to understand , not try to misunderstand, misinterpret and misrepresent.

      • @Peter Lang: I never said “people don’t want wind turbines”.

        What you said was

        Conventional plants are being installed to produce electricity according to societal demand. Wind turbines are not.

        If by that you meant something other than “people don’t want wind turbines” then please forgive me for misreading it. What exactly did you mean by it?

        If you mean by it that wind turbines cost more than coal plants to install etc. then you are absolutely in the right, except for an exceedingly strange way of speaking.

        If you meant anything else however then my original complaint remains: the only content of your argument was the above “societal demand” argument, whatever it means. You did not have any other argument in that comment. You may well have had other arguments in other posts, which I would not dispute.

        And you still have not made the comparison on which your cost claim crucially depends!

      • I don’t recall saying what you’ve quoted (you didn’t provide a link to where you reckon I said it). But so what anyway. Why are you avoiding the issue. the issue is that wind is very high costs, needs massive subsidies (per MWh of energy delivered) to make it viable, the CO2 abatement cost is about 30 times the EU carbon price, and even higher if you properly factor in that wind avoids less CO2 emissions than claimed by its proponents.

        Why don’t you deal with the substance.

        Why don’t you also admit that you have no understanding of this issue whatsoever. Why don’t you admit that you are a supporter of wind energy because it fits with your ideological beliefs.

        Why don’t you admit, that just as you know nothing about wind energy but believe the propaganda, the same applies to your beliefs about catastrophic climate change. Basically you know squat all about either subject but advocate what supports your ideological beliefs?

        And you teach your ideological beliefs to your students.

        Hmmm>

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @Peter Lang: I don’t recall saying what you’ve quoted (you didn’t provide a link to where you reckon I said it).

        My first reaction was, how could he not remember saying that? Then my face went red.

        My comment that got this thread rolling (sparring, whatever) said “Peter Lang quotes an article claiming to prove that windpower does not reduce CO2 based on the following argument:” (this being the article). I then quoted what I felt was a specious argument from that article (near the bottom), and faulted its reasoning in a tone I will freely admit could have been phrased more dispassionately.

        Peter Lang responded with the (reasonable in hindsight) objection that that what I’d quoted was not the main part of his argument.

        My big mistake was that in the interim I forgot that what I’d quoted was merely from the article he’d pointed to as support and not something he’d said himself. As that quote seemed to me a self-contained argument, I wanted its logic clarified. Understandably Peter had no idea what I was talking about, since it wasn’t a self-contained argument that he had made. Things went downhill from there.

        So I apologize for my mistake, Peter. It resulted in far too much arguing at cross purposes.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        Thank you. I truly appreciate what you’ve said there.

        I agree we had a misunderstanding, and you’ve had the decency to admit it. I agree we were arguing at cross purposes.

      • BartR,

        To say that wind energy is not subsidies is just drivel! Ignorance!

        I’s mandated as “must take” for God’s sake. And requires at least a 100% subsidy from governments and electricity consumers to be viable. How ignorant are you!

      • Peter Lang | August 19, 2012 at 2:18 am |

        So the nub of your argument is that GOOGLE is subsidized?

      • BartR,

        So the nub of your argument is that GOOGLE is subsidized?

        If that’s what you think, BartR, don’t let me try to dissuade you from your irrational, religious-like beliefs.

      • “Wind-project developers or solar-facility owners typically have tax-equity partnerships with large-company investors such as Google or Chevron, where both sides benefit: the developers get necessary capital and the investors get big tax write-offs.”
        http://www3.cfo.com/article/2012/8/tax_renewable-energy-wind-solar-investment-tax-credit-production-tax-credit

        BartR, I think it is called tax write offs. Oil and mining companies also get tax write offs. Big banks get tax write offs. How can you tell which is a write off and which is a subsidy?

      • CD,

        The subsidies are far more than the tax write offs. Wind power is mandated. When the wind id blowing, the energy produced by the wind farm must be accepted by the grid. The other generators are penalised and their price has to be higher to compensate. Altogether, the subsidies for wind power are in the order of 100%.

        Why is wind power so expensive
        http://thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/hughes-windpower.pdf

      • The link I gave above to Why is wind power so expensive is down at the moment. Here is another link to the same report:
        http://docs.wind-watch.org/hughes-windpower.pdf

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @Peter Lang: The link I gave above to Why is wind power so expensive is down at the moment. Here is another link to the same report: http://docs.wind-watch.org/hughes-windpower.pdf

        Just as one would be startled to find either Obama or Romney praising the other’s ability to govern, so would one be taken aback to find a report supporting the IPCC whose cover listed the following academic advisors.

        Richard Lindzen
        Ross McKitrick
        Alan Peacock
        Ian Plimer
        Philip Stott,

        and many more, who hopefully don’t know me from a bar of soap and therefore will bear me no ill-will for failing to pick them out of the lineup.

        With climate science as with politics, you know what’s coming as soon as you know who’s saying it. At forty pages this report is long enough to squirrel away forty non sequiturs, and could have been shortened to just its cover page at great advantage to the environment.

        @Peter Lang: don’t let me try to dissuade you from your irrational, religious-like beliefs.

        Oh, shush.

      • Vaughn Pratt,

        So ad hominem is your argument for avoiding the evidence that wind power is very high cost and does not avoid GHG emissions.

        You an get similar information from many other independent analyses.

        This study by University of NSW suggests the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM) could be powered by renewable energy and meet reliable requirements http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421512002169 . It uses wind, solar thermal with storage, solar PV hydro, pumped (but wrongly) and biofuels as the back up generator. However, they did not estimate the costs.

        Here are the costs:
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/

        using costs derived for the Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET, 2011b), the costs are estimated to be: $568 billion capital cost, $336/MWh cost of electricity and $290/tonne CO2 abatement cost.

        That is, the wholesale cost of electricity for the simulated system would be seven times more than now, with an abatement cost that is 13 times the starting price of the Australian carbon tax and 30 times the European carbon price. (This cost of electricity does not include costs for the existing electricity network).

        Fir the cases where back up is by natural gas instead of biofueled gas turbines, the estimate allows (correctly) that 1 kWh of wind energy displaces 1 kWh of energy from fossil fuel generators. However, it wrongly assumes 100% of the emissions from the 1 kWh of fossil fuel generated electricity displaced are avoided. It is less. Therefore, the CO2 abatement cost is even higher than $290/tonne CO2 (actually significantly higher).

      • I wonder how many people have read the freely available book Sustainable Energy — without the hot air by David JC MacKay. The book is written for non-technical audience but it succeeds very well in giving a balanced view on the potential of renewable energy in UK. It’s arguments are largely valid elsewhere as well.

        The book gives much emphasis on system level issues that determine the real quantitative potential. It has one chapter (26) on the significance of intermittance of wind energy and some comments on the cost of wind energy in other chapters (4, 10, 28, ..).

      • Pekka Pirilla,

        As you say David Mackay’s book “Sustainable energy – without the hot air” is an excellent introduction to energy matters. It is an introduction. It does not address costs at all. It is purely about the physical constraints. It does not deal with, for example, the CO2 emissions avoided by wind generation, nor does it deal with CO2 abatement costs.

        The emissions avoided by renewable energy is a complex issue as reports such as listed below make clear. One of the major problems is that we do not have measurements of the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel generators. We need actual measurements of CO2 emissions of about 5 to 15 minute intervals to allow us to determine the emissions avoided by wind generation. This is an areas of serious discussion, so please don’t come back with some trivial answer such as (its simple, just estimate the emissions).

        As we’ve discussed previously, the issue of measuring CO2 emissions will be important the world decided to implement carbon pricing. And the cost of measuring emissions will be huge. Only USA attempts to measure CO2 emissions from fossil fuel generators (other countries such as EU and Australia estimate them with crude and inaccurate methods that will be nowhere near acceptable if wee proceed to international carbon pricing). This highlights some of the issues and hints at the costs that would be involved: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578&page=0

        Some reports and papers on the cost and quantity of CO2 emissions avoided by wind generation:

        http://www.cepos.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/Arkiv/PDF/Wind_energy_-_the_case_of_Denmark.pdf
        http://docs.wind-watch.org/hughes-windpower.pdf
        http://www.clepair.net/windsecret.html
        http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html
        http://joewheatley.net/emissions-savings-from-wind-power/comment-page-1/#comment-347
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/08/does-wind-power-reduce-carbon-emissions/
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/
        http://www.masterresource.org/2010/06/subsidizing-co2-emissions/

        There is stacks more, but that should be sufficient to get people some background.

        By the way, here is a page in David Mackay’s book that shows how Denmark’s and France’s CO2 emissions from electricity compare. http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/cI/page_335.shtml (Yes, I realise Denmark’s emissions quoted here are higher than often quoted by Denmark; however, they are from an IEA report so we could argue all day what is the correct figure).

      • Pekka Pirilla,

        As you say David Mackay’s book “Sustainable energy – without the hot air” is an excellent introduction to energy matters. It is an introduction. It does not address costs at all. It is purely about the physical constraints. It does not deal with, for example, the CO2 emissions avoided by wind generation, nor does it deal with CO2 abatement costs.

        The emissions avoided by renewable energy is a complex issue as reports such as listed below make clear. One of the major problems is that we do not have measurements of the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel generators. We need actual measurements of CO2 emissions of about 5 to 15 minute intervals to allow us to determine the emissions avoided by wind generation. This is an areas of serious discussion, so please don’t come back with some trivial answer such as (its simple, just estimate the emissions).

        As we’ve discussed previously, the issue of measuring CO2 emissions will be important the world decided to implement carbon pricing. And the cost of measuring emissions will be huge. Only USA attempts to measure CO2 emissions from fossil fuel generators (other countries such as EU and Australia estimate them with crude and inaccurate methods that will be nowhere near acceptable if wee proceed to international carbon pricing). This highlights some of the issues and hints at the costs that would be involved: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578&page=0

        Some reports and papers on the cost and quantity of CO2 emissions avoided by wind generation:

        http://www.cepos.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/Arkiv/PDF/Wind_energy_-_the_case_of_Denmark.pdf
        http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html
        http://joewheatley.net/emissions-savings-from-wind-power/

        There are many more, but that should be sufficient to get people some background.

        By the way, here is a page in David Mackay’s book that shows how Denmark’s and France’s CO2 emissions from electricity compare. http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/cI/page_335.shtml (Yes, I realise Denmark’s emissions quoted here are higher than often quoted by Denmark; however, they are from an IEA report so we could argue all day what is the correct figure).

      • Peter Lang

        The wind blows (just right) at best 30% of the time.

        For every 30 MWh generated by wind turbines, 70 MWh must be generated by fossil fuel fired standby plants (ideally gas-fired).

        8760 hours per year total
        6130 hours per year gas-fired
        2630 hours per year wind power

        Be sure to figure that into your CO2 calculation.

        Max

      • “One of the major problems is that we do not have measurements of the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel generators. We need actual measurements of CO2 emissions of about 5 to 15 minute intervals to allow us to determine the emissions avoided by wind generation.”

        I’m not sure I can agree here. If we know how much and which fuel is consumed, we know how much CO2 is emitted. Fuel carbon content is known and total carbon loss (soot, unburnt hydrocarbons) can be estimated and isusually insignificant, for this purposes.

      • The book certainly does not go deep in the economics but it does present many cost comparisons, some of them already significantly outdated but most more or less valid.

        The book is not principally about climate and CO2 which is discussed in the introductory chapter and at a few points in the text (including a comment on CO2 emissions related to nuclear power that you must be happy with). There’s also a short chapter 31 on carbon cycle, but that’s more like an annex than part of the main text.

        Concerning the emissions of Denmark I have never argued that they would be particularly low. Our unresolvable disagreement was on one very specific point on which MacKay seems to have views similar to mine on page 197.

      • Edim,

        Thank you for your comment. But no. That is not correct. Please look at the studies listed in my comment above: above:http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230341

        This thread and comments explains the issue:
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/

        This thread and the links to the EPA regulations for CO2 emissions measurement will explain further:
        http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578&page=0

      • Peter, I am only addressing CO2 emissions from hydrocarbon fuel burning, not how much is avoided by renewables. If the fuel consumption and carbon content is known, CO2 emissions are known too.

      • Pekka Pirila

        The book certainly does not go deep in the economics

        David Mackay’s book ‘Sustainable Energy – Without the hot air‘ does not deal with costs or economics of energy at all. He states that clearly at the front of the book. He states it is about the physics and limits of what could be achieved, theoretically.

        Concerning the emissions of Denmark …. Our unresolvable disagreement was on one very specific point on which MacKay seems to have views similar to mine on page 197.

        That statement is not correct for two reasons:

        1. David Mackay’s p 197 does not say anything that bears on our disagreement. He says nothing about how much CO2 emissions are avoided by wind generation. Implicitly he takes the simplifying position taken by the wind energy advocates that 1 kWh of electricity generated by wind avoids the emissions of 1 kWh of electricity generated by the generators in the grid that would have provided the power if there was no wind generating capacity. This simplifying assumption is wrong. In the case of Denmark it is wrong by about 50% based on this analysis: http://www.cepos.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/Arkiv/PDF/Wind_energy_-_the_case_of_Denmark.pdf
        and back up by these (and many others):
        http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html
        http://joewheatley.net/emissions-savings-from-wind-power/

        David MacKay’s three paragraphs also make plain what an enormous amount of grid infrastructure (i.e. enormous cost) would be required to allow UK to link to hydro in Norway and Sweden. As made clear in his book, David Mackay does not consider economics, on the physical limits of energy.

        2. Our unresolved disagreement was regarding several issues as I summarised previously; see below

        My Key Points

        The key points I’ve been making throughout are:

        • France: nuclear 76%, wind 1%; lowest electricity prices in Europe; lowest CO2 emissions from electricity in Europe

        • Denmark: wind 19% (2009); highest electricity prices in Europe, CO2 emissions from electricity generation are nine times higher than France’s and near the highest in Europe.

        • The contrast could not be more stark or the relevance for policy more obvious.

        Denmark wind stats:

        Wind proportion of total electricity generation (2009) = 19%
        Wind proportion of electricity used in Denmark = 10% (average for 5 years)

        The explanation for the above is that wind power is produced when the wind blows, not when customers demand it. The excess is exported or spilled. Of the excess exported only some is brought back into Denmark as imports. Other imports come from other generation sources.

      • Edim,

        I am also dealing only with the emissions from burning the fossil fuels. So neither of us are talking about the fugitive emissions, emissions embodied in the generating plant or other life cycle emissions.

        However, your two “ifs” are the problem. We do not know the fuel consumption that produces a given amount of electricity from each generating unit.

        If you read the links I gave you, you will understand the issues.

        Here is a calculator that will explain it better:
        http://www.masterresource.org/2010/06/subsidizing-co2-emissions/
        http://www.masterresource.org/2010/02/wind-integration-incremental-emissions-from-back-up-generation-cycling-part-v-calculator-update/

      • Peter, I agree, but even the fuel consumption can be estimated from the energy production and estimated plant efficiencies. It’s all estimation anyway. The quuestion is what accuracy is needed.

      • Edim,

        I agree it is a matter of accuracy. But its also a matter of the timing. We need to know the amount of fuel used, and its carbon content, at the same time as the electricity generators output is measured.

        This http://www.eirgrid.com/operations/systemperformancedata/co2intensity/ explains how the EirGrid calculates the emissions from electricity generators. Most of the EU is doing it in a similar way.

        This is not sufficiently accurate. That is why, eventually, if the world adopts carbon pricing, we’d have to adopt a system like the US EPA’s only better (it has many loop holes you can drive a truck through). And an equivalently accurate mechanism would have to be applied to all GHG emissions (all twenty four Kyoto gasses) from all emissions sources. The cost would be enormous as I explained here: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578&page=0

        The reason that estimates like Ireland does are njot accurate enough has been pointed out in many comments on this thread: http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/

        In short, the emissions estimated from the power output and the heat rate for that power output does not allow for the emissions while the plant is cycling up and down, in spinning reserve and starting up and shutting down. As some of the links I’ve provided in previous comments how, this amounts to a significant inaccuracy. So much so that the emissions avoided by wind generation are, in some cases, said to be negative. (see links posted previously on this thread)

      • Peter Lang | August 19, 2012 at 2:18 am |

        Oh, it’s a GWPF argument.

        Well, no sense engaging it; this isn’t ad hominem, merely self-preservation. I’d be old and gray by the time I finished wading through the FUD the GWPF resources have to throw in the path of any intelligent discussion.

      • BartR,

        BartR,

        To say that wind energy is not subsidies is just drivel! Ignorance!

        It’s mandated as “must take” for God’s sake. And requires at least a 100% subsidy from governments and electricity consumers to be viable. How ignorant are you!

        Oh, it’s a GWPF argument.

        Well, no sense engaging it;

        You don’t have to do much reading to find out wind power is subsidised by at least 100%. The GWPF paper lays it out pretty well. But if you want other sources, I’ve provided many links in previous comments, or you could do the research yourself.

        The Australian Government has just released its latest annual report with projected costs for new entrant technologies. The costs are for the Australian.
        http://bree.gov.au/documents/publications/Australian_Energy_Technology_Assessment.pdf

        Wind power = $116/MWh
        Add Open Cycle Gas Turbines for back up = $196/MWh (at 10% capacity factor)
        Total cost of (firm) wind generated electricity (very roughly) = $150/MWh

        To put these figures in perspective, the average wholesale cost of Australia’s electricity in 2010 was $45/MWh. That is the average spot price for all electricity (baseload intermediate and peak). The average cost of baseload power is around $30/MWh (varies between generators).

        Wind is mandated as ‘must take’ so substitutes for baseload power. So it requires a subsidy of around $100/MWh.

        Some argue the subsidy is about $60/MWh but they are not including the cost of the backup generators, the hidden costs transferred to other generators and the transmission system costs (it’s more than just the poles and wires).

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @Bart R: Oh, it’s a GWPF argument. Well, no sense engaging it; this isn’t ad hominem, merely self-preservation.

        Thanks, Bart. You said what I wanted to say more clearly than I was going to. Peter Lang would say we share the same “irrational, religious-like beliefs.”

        When a speaker spouts nonsense longer than reasonable and the session chair drags him away from the podium because it’s become clear that he has nothing further of value to contribute, Peter Lang would accuse the chair of an ad hominem attack. That’s basically what we have here with the GWPF: droning on longer than reasonable with tendentious arguments that are nothing but unimportant variants of the climate skeptic stories we’ve all heard before.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        What a brilliant and knowledgeable response.

        Confirms you have no argument and BS about things you have not the slightest understanding of.

        It’s another example of why the CAGW alarmists cannot be trusted.

      • BartR,

        The reason land and businesses in the western democracies is being sold off to foreign ownership is because of trade protectionism and excessive regulation. These force industries to move to more business friendly countries. These other countries are now more competitive than the western democracies. You can lay the blame for all this squarely on the Left / Progressives, protectionists and those seeking even more regulation of business, industry. They are destroying our ability to be compete internationally, to be successful innovators, and to provide the new job opportunities for our people and future generations need if we want to continue to enjoy improving standard of living.

      • Peter Lang | August 19, 2012 at 2:28 am |

        While I don’t at all disagree that the current US Administration is egregiously protectionist, I’d have a hard time buying the argument that it’s all that Left or Progressive, or at least any more Left or Progressive or less Protectionist than the previous Administration.

        Perhaps you can show some figures.. no, we better not go there. We’ve established you have deficits in things involving numbers.

        Let’s do it this way: SOLD OFF requires a sale. A sale should involve an exchange on the Free Market. Forcing the owner under Eminent Domain to sell is not the Free Market.

      • BartR,

        if you think you are good with figures, why haven’t you a clue about the cost of wind energy and the CO2 abatement cost using wind energy – or energy non-hydro renewable energy for that matter?

      • Peter Lang | August 19, 2012 at 2:49 am |

        I’m fair with numbers, and thanks for asking.

        Makani projects it will be able to produce energy on par with or lower than the price of natural gas, with the difference being that Makani energy is beholden to no one for expropriation of private property to build pipelines through, doesn’t frack, doesn’t build on eleven decades of subsidy, and doesn’t have problems of acid gas and fugitive emissions.

        Sure, Makani’s research is being supported by a grant. http://projects.propublica.org/recovery/item/20120201/281668 says it’s $3,000,000.00.

        Compared to corn ethanol, http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/library/chart-graph/history-ethanol-subsidy-legislation-1978-2005 suggests $0.40 to $0.60 per gallon from 1978 to the expiry of the program in 2012 for up to 7.5 billion gallons in its final year. That’s interest-adjusted, present value of over $40 billion, or 1,333,333% of what Makani got. Except we know corn ethanol is a scam, and Makani looks like it could be real.

        For reference, ZenithSolar projects (http://www.doublegreenproducts.com/zenith-solar-z20-cpv-united-states.php) they will produce $2,500/year/unit of power at today’s prices, with a 10-year payback per unit, and units have a 30-year lifespan.

        You don’t have to be very good with numbers to know, if these claims are realistic, then there’s money to be made by free people on a fair market, so long as they aren’t competing in a rigged game against subsidized fossils.

      • Steven Mosher

        Nice
        http://www.makanipower.com/category/flights/

        But if we want to bet on technology, bet on air capture of C02.

      • During WWII the British and Germans used to bring down aircraft by floating balloons up in the sky over their cities. The baloon was straddled to the ground by a cable. Was that the inspiration for this latest loony wind power idea?

      • David Springer

        Interesting. What happens when a big bird hits one of the props?

      • For more: http://awtdata.webs.com/

        But the technology was indeed inspired by WWII military technology. Someone actually proposed tethering propeller-driven surplus aircraft to generate electricity.

      • David Springer

        Didn’t see anything about bird strikes there. Studies of tethered wind energy going back over 30 years most likely means it’s never been economically viable. Nothing has changed that would improve the bottom line today. The 30kW prototype I looked at couldn’t possibly be deployed for much under $100,000 and wouldn’t have a service life greater than 20 years. Say it makes 50% of nameplate capacity and wholesale is $0.05/kW hour. That’s $6500/yr in electric sales. After cost-of-capital is subtracted there’s virtually nothing left. Now add in maintenance, insurance, rents, book keeping, and it operates far in the red.

        I could be wrong given that’s a slap-dash back of a napkin cost analysis but if I was these things would already be out there producing electricity since all the required technology and the idea has been around for at least 30 years. Windmills have been around for centuries but are only really useful if there’s not much alternative. Even water wheels are superior to windmills if there’s a dependable supply of running water around.

      • http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/21/science/21birds.html also doesn’t talk about bird strikes, too.

        What happens when a big bird hits one of the props?

        I imagine the bird dies, and the computer steers the kite to its home base for maintenance and repair automatically or the kite crashes.

        Though with recent advances in sensing and automated navigation, as well as in what causes and can prevent birdstrike, it’s likely less of a consideration than one may think. Why not ask Makani?

        From their FAQ (http://www.makanipower.com/faq/)

        “Contrary to popular belief, conventional wind turbines harm relatively few birds or bats when compared with buildings, radio tower guy wires and cats. Compared with conventional wind turbines, the Makani Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) has three key advantages for sharing airspace with avian life. First and foremost, it flies at an altitude well above that of most birds. Secondly, the absence of a tower makes the Makani system much less prone to nesting or perching. Finally, the wing travels at the same speed as the tip of a modern, utility scale wind turbine, and studies suggest that birds, including the higher-flying migratory birds such as cranes, safely navigate the blades of these turbines.When sited correctly, turbines have very low impact on birds (early turbines were sited along ridgelines and places preferred by raptors and other birds). The AWT offers greater siting flexibility because the Makani system need not be positioned on ridges and can happily fly above valleys or low places in the terrain. This flexibility enables AWTs to be placed outside of migratory paths and further from large bird populations.”

        They have contact information on their website, if you want more.

        Studies of tarsands extraction took over 40 years before a single drop was produced commercially, at a cost of many $billions of Canadian tax subsidies. The computer? What was the computer industry like in the 30 years between 1946 and 1976?

        And while the whole subject area’s been around since the 1970’s (mostly undeveloped), Makani’s been around for only a handful of years since Google took interest in them.

        But then, the questions you have, Makani likely could address.

  50. The observed increase in global mean surface temperature (GMST) over the industrial era is less than 40% of that expected from observed increases in long-lived greenhouse gases together with the best-estimate equilibrium climate sensitivity given by the 2007 Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

    http://1.usa.gov/OKQJbZ

    • Do you have a point?

      Because unless you think the climate system has reached equilibrium, the 40% figure is just what one would expect to see.

      • Robert,
        Girma doesn’t understand the concept of percentages. I recall from a while ago that he thought an increase from 280 PPM to 390 PPM was a percentage change of 0.011% instead of 39%. He apparently believed that the percentage was already in the parts per million number. No one could convince him that this was incorrect.

        How can someone like that continue to pose as a scientist?. Our science and engineering academic system would typically weed these wannabes out by their sophomore year.

        Unfortunately, they get to spew freely on these blog sites and ad nauseam indefinitely. BTW, this is not an ad hominen attack any more than a professor would flunk out some non-performer. You just get to see the editorial opinion on the side.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Webby, did you merely contradict him or did you ask him “percentage of what?” If he says “percentage of atmospheric CO2” then you could go step by step and ask him how one would calculate that from the data. However if he says “percentage of the atmosphere” then you’re talking at cross purposes and 0.011% is indeed correct.

      • Vaughan said:

        “did you ask him “percentage of what?” “

        Well, I baited him sufficiently so that Girma has repeated the same gibberish that he has in the past in the discussion below. I was absolutely right in my recollections. It’s not easy to forget such nonsense. All you have to do is think of the most misleading approach to solving a problem, and it matches Girma’s approach. Works every time.

        What I need to ask of you, is how you handled these kinds of characters in your years of teaching? What percentage ** of the class did you flunk out? How patient were you?

        ** By percentage, I mean #Flunked/ClassSize*100%. Not #Flunked/PopulationOfTheWorld*100% as Girma would likely define it.

      • Girma’s logic belongs in the catalog of incredibly unscientific things “skeptics” say when they are trying to sound scienc-ish.

        I think an actual scientist would say that there’s no such thing as one right way to state a figure. There are conventional ways, which are usually better because you are more apt to be understood if you follow convention. And there are different ways to state a figure depending on why you are interested in that figure.

        Girma’s desire to state all CO2 figures as a percentage of the atmosphere is a rather obvious attempt to manipulate people who are impressed by big numbers and contrawise discount small ones. It isn’t the right way to state the numbers by convention, and it isn’t useful, since the aspect of CO2 we care about is a function of the increase in CO2 from a known baseline.

        The idea that stating a 40% increase as a 40% increase is deceptive is beneath contempt. People know what a percent increase is, if they know anything about figures at all. They know that a 40% increase in their bank accounts will have very different consequences depending on whether there’s a hundred dollars or a million dollars to start with.

        It seems like the only manipulation here is Girma’s attempt to manipulate people into discounting the importance of CO2 because it is “merely” a “trace gas.” Although it is difficult, as is often the case, to determine whether Girma is malicious in prompting this nonsense, or whether he believes it himself.

      • But there is no trick in any of it except the growth rate, which is usually presented as a function of the 280 ppm, or preindustrial, which it most definitely is not. CO2 is not like money. It cannot grow itself.

      • Robert

        Nitrogen => 78%
        Oxygen => 21%
        Trace gases => 1%

        Where does the increase in CO2 concentration by 0.011% since industrialisation place the current position of CO2 in the above list of the gases in the atmosphere?

        If you use 39%, the position of CO2 will appear to lie between Oxygen and Nitrogen.

      • “Where does the increase in CO2 concentration by 0.011% ” – Girma

        Splendid incompetence.

        Bravo skeptics!!

      • Vaughan Pratt

        if he says “percentage of the atmosphere” then you’re talking at cross purposes and 0.011% is indeed correct.

        Thank you very much. At least there are some who don’t agree with:

        …we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements [CO2 increased by 39%] , and make little mention of any doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

      • “…increase in CO2 concentration by 0.011%.”
        – Girma.

        For his next trick Girma will show 1+1=11.

      • And Girma is a sorry-ass figure besides. He takes on this feigned “What me? Sorry I am just trying to learn here” response whenever anyone calls him on something ridiculous.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @WHT: What I need to ask of you, is how you handled these kinds of characters in your years of teaching? What percentage ** of the class did you flunk out? How patient were you?

        (To quantify this, I taught equal numbers of undergraduate and graduate classes at MIT for one decade and Stanford for two.)

        At both institutions I was teaching in an engineering school with competitive admission. Climate Etc. doesn’t have competitive admission and the difference shows in the bizarre logic that thrives here by feeding on itself.

        I’ve encountered the occasional crazy thinker at both MIT and Stanford, but they seem manageable in classroom settings, not entirely sure why but peer pressure may be a big part of it. I hardly ever failed anyone; though nor was every student able to get an A — typically about equal numbers of undergraduates got A’s, B’s, and C’s throughout my thirty years of grading, skewed towards A’s in graduate classes.

        Peer pressure also seems to be in operation on Climate Etc., except that it works to encourage rather than discourage bizarre thinking. If climate skeptics all had the same story it wouldn’t be so bad, but their reasoning is all over the place. Having a tin ear for connected arguments doesn’t help.

      • Vaughan Pratt is lashing out because he has been shown up as BS artist.

        He’s been trying to make out he knows something about renewable energy, and clearly hasn’t a clue. When that was shown up, he resorted to bluster, arrogance and abuse but with not one item of substance (see the comments leading to this: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/17/learning-from-the-octopus/#comment-230989 )

        He’s a fraud (and arrogant and conceited as well). Pity help his students.

        But I guess that is not unusual in academic institutions now days. It seems the majority are there to propagate their (Left) ideological beliefs and teaching science and engineering comes second.

      • Vaughan thanks for the info on your Stanford and MIT students. Those are top notch schools and the selection process helps to prune out non-performers I imagine. For the rest of the schools, such as the Big Ten, every engineering department has a “weeding out” course that is difficult enough (or the grading criteria is stiff enough) such that about half the students flunk out when they take it. The professors that teach those course need an iron constitution, or they are able to justify their role as something that just needs to be done.

      • Girma doesn’t understand the concept of percentages. I recall from a while ago that he thought an increase from 280 PPM to 390 PPM was a percentage change of 0.011% instead of 39%

        It depends what you are comparing.

        Note that 280 ppm is the proportion of CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE.

        It means 280 ppm = 280/1,000,000 = 280 *100/1,000,000 % = 280/10,000 % = 0.0028%

        Similarly, 390 ppm = 0.0039%

        Increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere => 0.0039% – 0.0028% =
        0.0011%

        Why this is correct is because

        390 – 280 = 110 ppm = 110/1,000,000 = 110*100/1,000,000 % = 110/10,000% = 0.0011%

        You don’t compare CO2 with itself. What you should compare is how the proportion of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has changed. Its proportion in the atmosphere increased by 0.0011% since the beginning industrialization.

        It is true when you compare CO2 to itself, it has increased by about 39 % because you have 390 = 1.39 * 280.

        You are comparing CO2 to itself. I am comparing the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.

        Your 39% increase in CO2 concentration is the trick put by the AGW camp so that people could believe the CO2 concentration has increased to 39%. The fact is the CO2 concentration is still 0.0039% of the atmosphere. CO2 is still a trace gas.

        The whole AGW industry is based on tricks. Take Climate Change. Who can deny climate change? No one. But the trick is Climate Change stands for man made global warming. I am sure that AGW tricks will be totally exposed within the next three to five years. Don’t we know climategate?

      • That should be 0.028 and 0.039

      • Girma, it’s not a trick – increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is 75/315*100 = ~24%. It’s the same as 0.00075/0.00315*100 = ~24%. 75 ppm is 390 – 315.

      • Thanks jim2

        280/10000 % = 0.028 %

        390/10000 % = 0.039 %

        Increase in CO2 CONCENTRATION => 0.011 %

      • Sorry, stupid mistake! It’s 0.0315% and 0.0075%.

      • Girma, NO! Don’t be stubborn. You may say it’s 0.0075 percentage points, but it’s 24% increase.

      • Girma, if the concentration has doubled, is it a 100% increase?

      • Edim

        It is a trick.

        Here are the concentrations of gases in the atmosphere.

        Nitrogen => 78%
        Oxygen => 21%
        Trace gases => 1%

        When they say CO2 has increased by 39% it is a tick to confuse people to think the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere above has become 39%.

        CO2 was a trace gas before industrialization. It is still a trace gas now (0.039% of the atmosphere).

      • Girma, yes some may be mislead, but correct is correct. Percentage is a ratio expressed as a fraction of 100. Watters should be cleared, not muddied.

      • Sorry, misled! Girma, you may say that the increment is 0.0075 (or 0.011) percentage points if you don’t want to trick.

      • But the real trick is to claim that there was a pre-industrial constant background level of ~280 ppm. For all we know at this point is that it was ~315 ppm in 1960 and ~390 ppm in 2010 (75 ppm increment).

      • Edim

        I don’t trust any thing that comes from the AGW advocates.

        There is a comment in the climategate emails an insider saying the IPCC process is production of science not assessment of science.

        This is a political movement based on “changing attitudes:”

        Changing attitudes towards climate change is not like selling a particular brand of soap – it’s like convincing someone to use soap in the first place

        http://www.futerra.co.uk/downloads/RulesOfTheGame.pdf

      • Girma | August 19, 2012 at 8:16 am |
        Edim

        It is a trick.

        Here are the concentrations of gases in the atmosphere.

        Nitrogen => 78%
        Oxygen => 21%
        Trace gases => 1%

        When they say CO2 has increased by 39% it is a tick to confuse people to think the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere above has become 39%.

        CO2 was a trace gas before industrialization. It is still a trace gas now (0.039% of the atmosphere).

        =====

        Argon takes up most of that 1%.

        These are Dry Air figures, achievable in a lab.. Add in water vapour and the percentage of carbon dioxide goes down further.

        Also, re trickery, this mindless meme “non-condensable gas” – carbon dioxide fully part of the Water Cycle, sharing as such water’s 8-10 day residence time in the atmosophere, no accumulation there. Besides being heavier than Air, etc.

        Water vapour in the atmosphere is up to around 5% – difficult, as with all these figures since pushing AGW, to get sensible figures, but around 3% average used to be the common figure.

        This page for example gives water vapour from 0-4% of the atmosphere, but, if one adds up nitrogen and oxygen these make up 99.03% –
        http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/High_School_Earth_Science/The_Atmosphere

        Plus argon at .93% gives 99.96% – leaving no space for water vapour. The Dry Air figure for carbon dioxide is unrealistic trickery.

        Useful for those genuinely needing to use such figures, but used to manipulate confusion by AGW fisics.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        CO2 is indeed .039% of the atmosphere today, whence as Girma points out, if the amount of CO2 increases from .028% to .039% of the atmosphere then the increase is 0.011% of the atmosphere.

        However the atmosphere has a negligible impact on trapping IR and therefore has no place in the denominator. The impact of increased CO2 on the absorption lines blocked by CO2 depends on how much CO2 increases as a percentage only of CO2. That percentage is 110/280 = 39%. The log base 2 of 1.39 is .475, so if climate sensitivity is 1.5 then the temperature should have risen 0.7 C, and if 3 then 1.4 C.

        That however assumes instantaneous heating of the surface in response to the rise to 394 ppmv. I dispute all of the above and claim that the base is not 280 but within half a point of 287, climate sensitivity is neither 1.5 nor 3 but somewhere between 2.8 and 2.9, and the delay is very close to 14.5 years. Back then (1997) the CO2 was 361 ppmv, making the temperature rise attributable to CO2 since 1800 equal to 2.85*log2(361/287) = 0.94 C, give or take a little depending on the precise climate sensitivity.

        Muller’s BEST project has estimated the rise since 1750 attributable to humans as 1.4 C. He agrees with me that the 0.5 C excess over 0.9 C can’t be attributed to fossil fuels, but blames it on land use changes, citing Ruddiman. I find that highly implausible, but unfortunately there’s a paucity of data for 1750-1850 that makes it as hard to disprove his claim as for him to prove it. The CDIAC data for land use changes only goes back to 1850, but in my view any reasonable extrapolation of it back to 1750 lends little support to his 0.4 C claim.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        …lends little support to his 0.5 C claim.

      • Girma | August 19, 2012 at 7:52 am

        Girma, make’m squeal!!!

        Take the tricks away from the Warmist = they have nothing left. That’s why the Fakes are Warmist’ fig-leafs, covering up the Warmist shame. Without the Fake’s phony GLOBAL warmings, the leading Warmist would have being in jail by now. WARMINGS ARE NEVER GLOBAL!!! = Warmist don’t have a case.

      • Another major trick of the AGW camp is to smooth out the oscillation in global mean temperature and the corresponding forcing before the 1970s and to claim the cyclic warming since 1970s is man made.

        The cooling from the 1880s to 1910s are smoothed out. The warming from 1910s to 1940s are smoothed out. The slight cooling from 1940s to 1970s are smoothed out. What is not touched is the warming starting from the 1970s. This gave an exaggerated climate sensitivity of 3 deg C for doubling of CO2, when the more likely value is only about 1 deg C.

        CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing EVERY YEAR for the last 14 years, but it has refused to add any temperature above the maximum value recorded 14 years ago. To overlook this pause, they have stopped to talk about trends (climate) and have started talking about the weather with their “nth warmest in the record”.

        To account for the lack of warming, they now want to increase the effect of aerosols in the climate models.

      • It’s delightful how you can string together a big block of lies like that without a single accurate statement. You’d think an occasional truth might creep in by accident, but you’re very consistent; everything that is not nonsense is simply false.

      • Proof

        Smoothed GMST before 1970s => http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/

        Actual observation that show the oscillation before 1970s =>
        http://bit.ly/Aei4Nd

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Another major trick of the AGW camp is to smooth out the oscillation in global mean temperature and the corresponding forcing before the 1970s and to claim the cyclic warming since 1970s is man made.

        I fully agree with Girma about smoothing out oscillations. The usual methods of doing so for the period 1850-now do serious damage to the global warming component, making its estimation on that basis quite unreliable.

        At the risk of grossly oversimplifying things, a trick I’ve found that works is to estimate global warming without traditional smoothing. When done carefully, accounting accurately for all ups and downs since 1850, this yields around 0.95 C as the portion of the rise since 1850 attributable to CO2 (including feedbacks of course — the no-feedback case is not amenable to empirical estimation).

        Extrapolating that approach forecasts 4 C as the rise between now and 2100. While climate skeptics might prefer to take that as prima facie evidence that the approach must be badly flawed, it’s nevertheless consistent with the increasingly rapid rise of anthropogenic CO2, which at the current rate of exponential growth will double the preindustrial base around mid-century.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        You write:

        Extrapolating that approach forecasts 4 C as the rise between now and 2100. While climate skeptics might prefer to take that as prima facie evidence that the approach must be badly flawed, it’s nevertheless consistent with the increasingly rapid rise of anthropogenic CO2, which at the current rate of exponential growth will double the preindustrial base around mid-century.

        Let’s do a quick reality check on that, Vaughan.

        The exponential rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 since 2000 has been 0.53% per year (this has slowed down slightly to 0.51% per year since 2005).

        If it continues at this exponential rate it will reach 560 ppmv CO2 (2x the estimated “pre-industrial” level) by 2080. [IPCC Scenario B1 assumes this level will be reached by 2100.]

        But one should consider the rate of population growth. This was a staggering 1.7% per year compounded since 1970, but has slowed down to 1.2% per year since 2000 (7.03 billion today versus 6.08 billion in 2000).

        Most estimates show the population growth rate to continue slowing down, reaching 0.4% per year over the rest of this century, with population reaching a level of around 10 billion by 2100.

        This will most likely constrain the rate of anthropogenic CO2 growth (and hence atmospheric concentrations).

        IPCC’s “B1” scenario probably makes sense, as far as CO increase in concerned.

        At 560 ppmv we would have the following theoretical warming over today (at 392 ppmv):
        0.5 C with a 2xCO2 CS of 1.0 C (see above post for basis)
        1.0 C with a 2xCO2 CS of 2.0 C (your previous estimate)
        1.5 C with IPCC’s (arguably exaggerated) 2xCO2 CS estimate of 3 C

        Does not sound very alarming to me, Vaughan.

        Your number is flawed IMO, for the reasons stated (you can’t just “extrapolate” without taking population growth rates into consideration).

        Max

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @manacker: Let’s do a quick reality check on that, Vaughan. The exponential rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 since 2000 has been 0.53% per year.

        Reality check yourself, Max. You can’t forecast with a model that hindcasts absurdly. Hindcasting your 0.53% per year to 1750 gives a CO2 level of less than 100 ppmv!

        What are the odds of getting great forecasts out of a model like yours that gives absurd hindcasts?

        What your model ignores is the preindustrial level of CO2, which is in the neighborhood of 280-290 ppmv (I estimate 287). Work that number into your exponential modeling and you’ll get much better hindcasts and forecasts.

        Strangely this has been pointed out to you multiple times. Yet you continue to trot out the same flawed argument time and again. Are you not listening, is your memory that bad, or do you seriously believe that CO2 was less than 100 in 1750?

        Another thing your model neglects is the exponential growth of per capita energy consumption, which when estimated from CDIAC fossil fuel records over the past century is on the same order as the exponential growth of the population itself. Your grandparents, along with their bosses and the soldiers, sailors, and pilots of the day, consumed nowhere near as much fossil fuel as you do. Neglecting fuel usage growth and only considering population growth will seriously underestimate future CO2

        This is especially true when you consider that the big increases in per capita fuel use are going to happen for the 5 billion (and growing!) people who, along with their infrastructure, currently subsist on a level of fuel consumption the West has not seen for a century.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Who is talking about “hindcasting the rate atmospheric CO2 to 1750” in order to arrive at a logical rate of future increase. That would be downright stupid.

        However, it is reasonable to assume that the exponential rate of increase since 1990 will not be exceeded over the rest of this century because the rate of human population growth (the folks generating that anthropogenic CO2) is declining.

        This is anticipated (by UN estimates and others) to decrease from the 1970-present rate of 1.7% per year or the current rate of 1.2% per year to a rate of around 0.4% per year (growing from today’s 7 billion to around 10 billion by 2100).

        With that in mind, we can safely estimate that a continuation of the most recent rate of CO2 increase is likely to be an “upper limit” value.

        Your forecast that we will reach 560 ppmv by year 2050 is based on the assumption that this exponential rate will increase from the current 0.53% per year to a rate of 0.94% per hyear.

        Get serious, Vaughan.

        Max

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Who is talking about “hindcasting the rate atmospheric CO2 to 1750″ in order to arrive at a logical rate of future increase. That would be downright stupid.

        If you’re saying that climate skeptics find it inconvenient to infer the future from the past, Max, I would accept that. If you’re saying something else, you haven’t said it terribly clearly.

        You also completely blew off my point that technology is growing as fast as population. That makes a huge difference to these projections. You’re hiding your head in the sand ignoring that one.

  51. I think you may be way off the mark this time JC.

    The real appeal of this sort of thinking in the present intellectual climate is the relegation of the human rational decision making mind behind a more naturalistic explanation of how to organize society. At a time when we (as a society) doubt our own ability to make the right decision lets look to invertebrates for the answer, this may well represent rock bottom.

    Equally bad is the tendency to exaggerate the threat to ridiculous levels, where might we have heard that problem surface?. The last line of the foreign policy article sums this up “Terrorism poses an evolutionary challenge; it should be treated like one.”

    This sort of thinking is part of the problem not the solution

  52. Of men and mice. Are we likely ter plan fr black swan events?

    Taleb: ‘Black Swan logic makes what you don’t know far more relevant than what you know.’
    * Predictions on population. Malthus, Erlich, Club of Rome.
    * Predictions on war. Leaders on both sides, prior to WW1, thought it would be a short war. On the eve of war, the German war lords believed they would conquer France in four weeks, the French war lords placed great confidence in their cavalry.

  53. Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of learning from primitive invertebrates, or Heartland, Cato and the GWPF, we learned from actual bona fide professional instructors and real teachers in the topics it takes to apprehend, analyze and synthesize the ideas of Climatology?

    My modest proposal is to follow the footsteps of edX and Udacity:

    http://prezi.com/_fdaogoswjn1/climate-literacy-online-university-degree-certification/

    Well, professionals? What curriculum recommendations would you make?

    • That is, if you think you can outperform an eight-legged sea slug. Or Heartland.

    • David Wojick

      Pretty stupid, Bart. In fact the IPCC reports and the Heartland NIPCC reports studied together make a good intro to the scientific issues. But it would take a year to do it. CAGW is easier to teach.

      • David Wojick | August 19, 2012 at 8:46 am |

        I wait three months for a helpful critique of a prezi, and the best you can come up with is, “Pretty stupid?”

        Tch.

        If that’s the standard of education you’re preaching, things are far more dire than I imagined.

        The IPCC and most especially the NIPCC reports are horrible introductions to the subject matter. They can be misread easily, contain concepts the layman lacks grounding in, and are especially susceptible to terribly lazy and outright false intellectual practices (you could even throw in the word ‘respectively’ there).

        A person with some grounding in how to read a report of these types, a skeptic with the tools to allow them to access the math and statistics, physics and logic, would do infinitely better reading these things with understanding. And they’d take far less than a year, because they would easily be able to stop at the first mistake in a chapter. Which would save them reading the NIPCC report almost entirely.

    • Bart R

      Your proposal that we should learn “from actual bona fide professional instructors and real teachers in the topics it takes to apprehend, analyze and synthesize the ideas of Climatology” makes sense to me.

      Let’s start with Professors Lindzen and Curry.

      OK?

      Max

  54. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Breaking News  Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice Graphs website now shows us that three of the main Arctic observatories — Uni Bremen, DTI, and Cryosphere Today — are all now affirming that previous records for ice-melt have been smashed … with a full month still left to go in the ice-melt season.   :cry:   :cry:   :cry:

    This record 2012 ice-melt acts to increase the rational Bayesian probability that every skeptic assigns to the proposition James Hansen’s worldview is scientifically and morally right, eh?

    Short-lived octopi and ardent denialists will form no opinion, eh?   :)   :)   :)

  55. Building our adaptive capacity and imagining black swan scenarios seem like a much better bet than putting all our eggs in the CO2 mitigation strategy tied projections of future climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2.

    That is nonsensical on several levels. Part one:

    First, and most importantly, the cornerstone of any “flexible” policy, or of any “adaptive” policy, is to stop doing things that aren’t working.

    If a person is receiving an IV medication and starts to develop an itchy rash, you can treat the rash with a steroid cream, you can treat the itching with Benadryl, you can put a cool compress on the area but the most important intervention is to stop infusing the medication.

    We are now embarked on a radical experiment in geoengineering, pumping hundreds of gigatons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We can already observe major negative changes in the world; there are huge risks waiting for us in the future by all credible accounts. So obviously the first objective of any “flexible” decision maker would be to slow down (or ideally stop) the radical human-driven transformation of the climate.

    We have put our hand down on a red-hot stove; the first step in mitigating or attempting to adapt is to take the hand off the stove.

    This strange thread is about the wisdom of animals. Even in the settled life most people lead nowadays, most people have direct experience of at least some animals; dogs, cats, birds. So I would encourage everyone to think about how animals deal with sudden, unfamiliar people or places that may constitute a threat. Mostly, they retreat from danger. Whereas the backwards lesson Dr. Curry seems to draw is that we should advance into danger, and invest in veterinary hospitals.

    No one is claiming we can mitigate climate change and do nothing else; that is a red herring. But if adaptation is the course you favor, the fact is that the road to successful adaptation leads through mitigation. Humans, animals and plants all need time to adapt to changes. To the extent that a given amount of global warming is inevitable, slower is better, because slower leaves more time to successfully adapt.

  56. PE re adaptability and intelligence Every AGW doomsayer should see this..
    http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html
    Adapting to the coalface, that’s where we’re good.( hmm,interesting about the crows, PE.)

  57. “In 1980, economist Julian Simon made a wager in the form of a complex futures contract. He bet Paul Ehrlich (whose 1968 book ‘The Population Bomb’ predicted that ‘hundreds of millions of people’ would starve to death in the 1970s as population growth swamped agricultural production) that by 1990 the price of any five commodities Ehrlich and his advisers picked would be lower than in 1980.

    Ehrlich’s group picked five metals. All were cheaper in 1990.

    The bet cost Ehrlich $576.07. But that year he was awarded a $345,000 MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ grant and half of the $240,000 Crafoord Prize for ecological virtue. One of Ehrlich’s advisers, John Holdren, is Barack Obama’s science adviser.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-will-why-doom-has-not-materialized/2012/08/17/fcf89ed6-e7fb-11e1-936a-b801f1abab19_story.html

    Everything you need to know how the climate debate got where it is, is in that final paragraph of George Will’s piece. Being demonstrably proven wrong does nothing to stop the green gravy train, or the accumulation of power through government.

    • Gary, that is really not fair. Ehrlich’s model produced a projection, not a prediction. I am sure observations are still within his projected range once we adjust his original data.

      • cap’s,

        You got me there. If you do a Mannian Tiljander on the commodity price records, you get an increase just like Ehrlich and Holdren predicted.

    • John Holdren is Obama’s science adviser, eh?

      Yep. Remember him as an anti-nuclear, pro renewables zealot from the 1980s.

    • George Will’s op-ed is openly plagiarized from wikipedia

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon%E2%80%93Ehrlich_wager

      Moreover, it’s plagiarized from a wikipedia article marked “DISPUTED”, with serious reservations about its impartiality and correctness.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Simon%E2%80%93Ehrlich_wager#.23

      While Simon was right in 1990, he’s wrong today; Ehrlich would’ve won the bet were it run over a 30-year span rather than 10 years, and by an extraordinary margin.

      Does the problem of people judging trends by too short a period sound familiar to anyone?

      How about the problem of people stealing bad ideas that happen to coincide with their — what’s the word? — ideology?

      • “While Simon was right in 1990, he’s wrong today; Ehrlich would’ve won the bet were it run over a 30-year span rather than 10 years, and by an extraordinary margin.”

        I doubt Simon thought there was no inflation in 1980. In ten years there isn’t much inflation [unless inflation rate was high] but in 20 to 30 years it makes more difference. 20 years with low inflation 1/2 the value of the dollar [and government policy is to have some inflation- they fear deflation [value of money increasing over time]. So with that in mind let’s look at copper copper prices:
        http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_vsQ_G2OOspQ/S6-J-F32xaI/AAAAAAAABp0/2aJYb5UqOc4/s1600
        /HG-1700-Copper-Long-Term-Chart-1970-2010.png&imgrefurl=http://www.patternstocks.com/2009/03/copper-long-term-charts.html&h=505&w=818&sz=64&tbnid=UyPwa4DwMqsQEM:&tbnh=76&tbnw=123&zoom=1&usg=__PzOgsmbTs-tD8-LU4TAP6XtH3lE=&docid=yiatFcchXl__TM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5YUwUNvtBqa0igKDo4HwBA&ved=0CFUQ9QEwAw&dur=527
        I hope link work [wow]. So around 1980 copper peaked at 1.25, but was around 1.00. Chart ends in 2010 at 3.40, but within a 5 year period it was sell a bit higher and it selling much lower: 1.50
        So inflation only would cause copper at dollar in 1980 to worth about $3 in 2010. So recently [within 5 years] it’s been half the price it was in 1980 and it’s only slightly higher in 2010.
        But to able to pick in choose with bet on whatever time period you want the fluctuation of prices will always make you the winner. If I select 1970 prices, than 2010 prices are much lower [due to inflation].
        So I picked the first one: copper. And copper did not increase by a extraordinary margin. You would have lost money buy a million dollar worth of copper and hold it for 30 years. Whereas if bought mixture of stocks and held them- you would richer [despite stock crash].
        Anyhow- our turn to prove the others commodities increase by a “extraordinary margin”.

      • David Springer

        Timing is everything. I bought a lot of commodities for personal use(aluminum, steel, copper, cement) between 2000 and 2003. I’m very glad I bought then instead of now. Inflation has been tame but those particular commodities have a large energy component in them which essentially doubled the inflation-adjusted price of them since that time.

        http://inflationmonkey.blogspot.com/2012/05/copper-price-is-as-expensive-as-it-was.html

      • David Springer

        The only Erlich could have won is if they bet on commondities that had a large fraction of their base cost in energy used for mining & manufacturing and the bet spanned the period from 2000-2007 when oil went from $90/bbl while monetary inflation and consumer price was very low.

        How would Erlich have done if they bet on the price of integrated circuits or communication bandwidth? In 1980 it cost me $0.30/minute to call NY from California. Now it’s almost free. Neither love nor money could buy a 35″ flat screen TV in 1980 now they give them away in promotions. It’s all about energy and whether any particular goods or services require a little or a lot of it.

      • Bart,

        While you are googling Ehrlich and commodities, you might want to check an online dictionary for the definition of plagiarism. “I think that word does not mean what you think it means.”

        Also, the bet was based on Ehrlich’s prediction that we were running out of those commodities. (The clue is in the paragraph where Will wrote “The modelers examined 19 commodities and said that 12 would be gone long before now….” Simon called him on his chicken little prediction and ten years was accepted by the “genius” Ehrlich.

        Your reading comprehension is, shall we say, clouded by your progressive ideology.

        Bart, you really should stay away from economics as a topic, you do not fare well in that area.

      • GaryM | August 19, 2012 at 11:49 am |

        Nicely handwaved. What to you is plagiarism? How does it not apply to George Will’s conduct? Be specific. Be precise. Say something other than to misquote Mandy Patinkin in Princess Bride. If you have something meaningful to contribute.

        Also, the bet wan’t based on running out of those commodities, but on demand for the commodities outstripping supply. You imply Economics is an alchemical process of making metal vanish, when it’s about things that are simply not as you say.

        As for staying away from economics as a topic, I can think of nothing further from Economics as a topic than discussions with people who read Simon and Ehrlich so badly.

      • Right on Bart.

        Note the situation with copper in the United States.

        Say back when the bets were made, that by the year 2000, that there would be a huge black-market for stolen copper in the USA. Criminals would patrol areas looking for copper piping and stuff that they could rip off houses and businesses. It wasn’t that they would take stuff that wasn’t nailed down, but they would take it even if it was nailed down. They would even take ATMs to scrounge for copper.

        Say Erhlich made that bet.
        Say Simon bet against it.

        It sounds almost like some futuristic cyber-punk novel, yet it came true by early this century. The lesson is that we are well into a recycling society mode, and Ehrlich got that part right. Who cares about economics when the behavior of people is all that count?

        In my neighborhood several years ago there was a high-speed chase of copper thieves by the police. The thieves had loaded close to a ton of copper pipes in the back of their pick-up. The chase ended when their pickup had too much mo going around a bend in the road and they struck a tree. All that copper pipe in the back of the pickup still had the big mo and it shredded the occupants in the cab. A “fitting” end to the story … groan.

      • Ehrlich got the one part right? Even a broken clock is right twice a day. He is definitely broken as a prognosticator.

      • Bart,

        To me, plagiarism is when one person takes the written words of another verbatim without attribution. Unless you are suggesting that the idea of the Simon/Ehrlich wager originated with Wikipedia – which, come to think of it, is exactly the kind of thing your fevered brain could conjure. If that is your point, all I have to say is…you poor dear….

        Since you are the one who leveled the charge, please copy and paste the plagiarized portion of Will’s article, and the identical selection form the Wikipedia article. I didn’t see any. But I am sure a man with your integrity would not make such an otherwise slanderous claim without proof.

        And as to Ehrlich and his cohorts doing a chicken little about running out of the commodities in question. As Will noted, Ehrlich’s and his cohorts predictions of doom and gloom were widely reported.

        From your beloved Wikipedia:

        “What The Limits to Growth actually has is the above table, which has the current reserves (that is no new sources of oil are found) for oil running out in 1992 assuming constant exponential growth.”

        Ehrlich did not bet because he merely thought supply would periodically exceed demand. He spread his gospel of doom loud and clear that we were using up our finite resources, and at an exponential rate. And as on virtually everything else he ever predicted, he was wrong.

      • “From your beloved Wikipedia:

        “What The Limits to Growth actually has is the above table, which has the current reserves (that is no new sources of oil are found) for oil running out in 1992 assuming constant exponential growth.”

        Ehrlich did not bet because he merely thought supply would periodically exceed demand. He spread his gospel of doom loud and clear that we were using up our finite resources, and at an exponential rate. And as on virtually everything else he ever predicted, he was wrong.”

        Ehrlich was quite right without resorting to a detailed analysis. As of 2012, economic growth has stalled, crude oil production has plateaued, alternative liquid energy sources are supplementing crude oil, emerging countries like China and India are placing new demands on the supplies, energy prices are rising worldwide, and the vast majority of the world’s oil reserves are held by nationalized companies.

        All predicted but this process isn’t in discrete steps, so the transition is a continuum over a time period. The fact that exponential growth didn’t continue is expected because it can’t when faced with the negative feedback of asymptotically harder-to-find oil.

        What exactly did you imagine would transpire? Ponies for everyone?

      • GaryM | August 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm |

        To me, plagiarism is when one person takes the written words of another verbatim without attribution.

        Can you point to where George Will’s op-ed attributed his facts? His ideas? Certainly, these are not the word-for-word ideas of Simon or Ehrlich, nor the first-hand reports of a direct observer of these events. They’re reports of reports, apparently mainly through releases of the Cato Institute, where the trail ends, only to start up again with the startling similarities to the disputed — and by its own author’s admission outdated — POV posting on the topic in wiki.

        So you can call it just sloppy propaganda or lazy demagogics, but for me, plagiarism also stands in this case.

      • BartR,

        So repetition of facts is plagiarism? Seriously?

        Progressives love to slur the reputations of those who disagree with them. Anyone who disagrees with you must be evil or stupid or both. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,

        But it’s still sad to see you make such an outrageous charge against someone without any factual support. And sadder still that when called on it, rather than admit your error, you justify yourself by redefining the word “plagiarism.” How Orwellian of you.

        But then I forgot how often you have been down this path before. I guess I just have to resurrect my comparison of you to Humpty Dumpty when you were redefining basic economic terms.

        “”When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone. “It means just what I choose it to mean – neither more or less.”

      • GaryM | August 20, 2012 at 12:09 am |

        Dude, it’s your definition I used.

        But if you no longer like your own definition, let’s look at Dictionary.com:

        pla·gia·rism
           [pley-juh-riz-uhm, -jee-uh-riz-]
        noun
        1. an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author

        Note the elements in George Will’s piece: not crediting the original author, using the language and thoughts of another author, representation of that author’s work as one’s own.

        The author can be called on to show how he obtained his facts, to ascertain how his interpretation developed those facts independently into new ideas of his own, given the marked similarities to other works and the elevated level of detail for events so remote from his own personal experience.

        But then again, you have repeated this technique, like a child rehearsing a nursery rhyme over and over, inappropriately and tunelessly, on myself and others too before here, so we ought be wise to this trick of yours by now.

      • Wikipedia the original author on the Simon Ehrlich wager.

        I don’t know whether to laugh at such a ridiculous comment, or cry at the state of education in this country that leads to such nonsense.

      • GaryM | August 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |

        Laugh, cry, or read with comprehension it seems.

        It’s my contention that the 2006 Point of View posting to wikipedia is the source of the distinct ideas about Simon and Ehrlich transmitted to George Will and repeated without attribution by himself.

        If you, or Mr. Will, can adequately explain the similarities in language and ideas between his op-ed and the 6-year old (and by the admission of the original author of the wikipedia entry, outdated — see the discussion page in wikipedia for details), then I may not be right, however as the evidence stands now, I believe my opinion justified.

  58. HR said “At a time when we (as a society) doubt our own ability to make the right decision lets look to invertebrates for the answer, this may well represent rock bottom.”
    ______

    I was thinking the same. That’s not to say we can’t learn a thing or two from cockroaches, rats, and other survival champs. When I’m in an untenable situation, I have learned it’s frequently best to do like they do. RUN !.

    While people may not be as adaptable to change as pests, history has shown they are pretty good at it. For example, the Irish adapted to the introduction of the potato by having larger families, and then adapted to the potato blight by starving or emigrating.

    • Why even focus on the moments of great hardship.

      It’s actually our ability to raise productivity to the point where we have buffered ourselves against the hardships of nature that have given us the ability to produce awe inspiring feats of industry, adventure, artistry and science. We actually just need to be doing more of the same (only better) to keep ahead of the game.

      Meanwhile the octopus squirts ink.

      • “It’s actually our ability to raise productivity to the point where we have buffered ourselves against the hardships of nature that have given us the ability to produce awe inspiring feats of industry, adventure, artistry and science”

        Talking about buffering, Iowa farmers were buffered from the long severe drought this summer by realizing income from wind turbines that they had the foresight to place on their acreage. An awe-inspiring move that was. Wind in this case was more dependable than the rainfall.

  59. Lol ,say Judith I’m being moderated again for the same ‘offence’. Title of a video on technological innovation, er, not bacchanalia!

  60. ABSTRACT. The equilibrium sensitivity of Earth’s climate is determined as the quotient of the relaxation time constant of the system and the pertinent global heat capacity. The heat capacity of the global ocean, obtained from regression of ocean heat content vs. global mean surface temperature, GMST, is 14 ± 6 W yr m-2 K-1, equivalent to 110 m of ocean water; other sinks raise the effective planetary heat capacity to 17 ± 7 W yr m-2 K-1 (all uncertainties are 1-sigma estimates). The time constant pertinent to changes in GMST is determined from autocorrelation of that quantity over 1880-2004 to be 5 ± 1 yr. The resultant equilibrium climate sensitivity, 0.30 ± 0.14 K/(W m-2), corresponds to an equilibrium temperature increase for doubled CO2 of 1.1 ± 0.5 K.

    Stephen E. Schwartz

    http://bit.ly/Nxkrgn

    • This value of 1.1 deg C for doubling of CO2 is what the data shows. The 3 deg C warming of the IPCC is an exaggeration.

      • I would really like to see the full text to that paper. Schwartz is one of the few that take the satellite data seriously and it looks like he has picked up on the regime shift. He appears to be a pretty smart guy. Vaughan Pratt may not agree with the 14.5 year lag turning down instead of up though :)

      • As Yogurt said, “use the Schwartz”.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Which wobble? The Drysdale (if he’s the originator) theory that axial precession warms the poles periodically by pointing them closer to the Sun is a compelling explanation of the role of that particular Milankovich cycle. I’ve seen the 7-year Chandler wobble implicated in climate change but I don’t understand how that could work.

        I don’t claim any universal significance to the 14.5 year delay, it applies only to the period 1850-now and only under the current rate of onset of atmospheric CO2. My comment a few days ago described an experiment with a surprising outcome when you heat a body of water from the top under certain highly specific conditions. (So far no one has taken a stab at guessing the outcome, maybe I should draw more attention to it by making it a post in its own right.) The outcome is highly dependent on those conditions, and as Robert remarked in an immediately preceding comment “The rate of cooling at that point depends upon the mixing of the layers: Wikipedia article on chaotic mixing.”

        Vary those conditions for radiative forcing and you can expect very different outcomes. Whereas a fast CO2 onset of the modern kind may involve heating primarily the surface layer, a much slower one may also involve heating the deep ocean, which could greatly lengthen the delay. A combination of empirical data based on ice core analysis and theoretical modeling may shed light on this, but for now I have absolutely no intuition as to what might happen when CO2 is rising at only 1 ppmv per century instead of per year (six months these days).

      • Vaughan Pratt, “Which wobble? The Drysdale (if he’s the originator) theory that axial precession warms the poles periodically by pointing them closer to the Sun is a compelling explanation of the role of that particular Milankovich cycle. I’ve seen the 7-year Chandler wobble implicated in climate change but I don’t understand how that could work.”

        Not sure who you meant this for, if me, the Drysdale wobble of about 14,000 KY which should be due to changes in the glacial ice mass and location. I suspect expansion of agriculture to the high Steppes have stopped that wobble cycle. I

      • captdallas2

        Here it is => http://www.pensee-unique.fr/HeatCapacity.pdf

      • “Because of the short response time of the climate system to perturbations, the climate system may be considered in near steady state to applied forcings and hence, within the linear forcing-response model, the change in temperature over a given time period may be apportioned to the several forcings.”

        Kinda like this I reckon, http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o252/captdallas2/climate%20stuff/joethevolcano.png Web will be beside himself for not checking into those silly decay curves.

        http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o252/captdallas2/climate%20stuff/LandUseversusHADSST2.png

        There is a little land use oddity that Schwartz didn’t pick up on though.

      • Hansen understands modeling the dynamics of heat flow. I think Schwartz is a bit weak in his approach. The main point is that you don’t use first-order differential equations to model flow such as this. You need to start with (at least) a master equation that includes a divergence of the gradient operator, which is necessary to maintain detailed balance in space and time.

        I don’t understand this situation because Hansen articulated the correct view at least 30 years ago.

        Schwartz thinks his time constant is meaningful. I don’t, and its for the same reasons that diffusion of heat to the far reaches of the ocean is empirically non-exponential. No design engineer with a specialty in thermal would work the problem the way that Schwartz is doing it.

      • Web, I am not sure what Hansen did or didn’t do, I think though that he used the wrong approximate surface temperature. If the Satellite data is correct, the 4C to 5C difference in the true surface versus the bulk surface or upper mixing layer would impact heat uptake. You can see the response curves and while the older data is iffy, Schwartz points to the same reduction in variance I mentioned. You have to admit there is a vast difference in the quality of the data since 1988.

      • Cap’n, STFU. With all due respect, you haven’t a clue what you are talking about.

      • LOL of course I don’t Webster. That is why I look at silly things like past climate in the tropics to attempt to verify the average range of SST in the past.

        http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o252/captdallas2/climate%20stuff/60000yearsofclimatechangeplusorminus125degrees.png

        That orange High Normal BTW is about 21.1C average SST the best I can tell. Notice how the reconstruction overshoots and tends to settle back to the Orange line? Since I am clueless, I also wondered why mixed phased clouds were and issue in the Arctic but no where else?

        http://www.columbia.edu/~lmp/paps/polvani+solomon-JGR-2012-inpress.pdf

        I doubt that they will believe me, but I kinda think they have underestimated SST impact a touch. Weird thing about water and ozone, they don’t play well together.

        I really can’t quite put my finger on it yet, but the way land use and the temperature have change makes me wonder.

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-land-use-stuff.html

        Luckily, you have all the answers so I don’t have to fret.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Luckily, you have all the answers so I don’t have to fret.

        Fret away. So far Webby is keeping that particular answer to himself.

        Regarding impact of land use changes on CO2, I’ve only been using the pre-1958 CDIAC data, since we know post-1958 CO2 very precisely from observatories like that at Mauna Loa. It’s an interesting academic question as to how much of the increase in CO2 since 1958 can be attributed to land use changes, but it doesn’t bear on how I estimate the 14.5 year delay.

        Incidentally that delay is only for the current 30-year time to double anthropogenic CO2 (our increment over an estimated 287 ppmv of natural background). It doesn’t apply to much slower CO2 changes, and then only when CO2 is driving temperature, whether up or down. The deglaciations of the past million years were supposedly each bootstrapped by temperature driving CO2—those for whom Milankovich is gospel can drop “supposedly”, Muller is dubious, at least about Milankovich.

      • Vaughan Pratt, “Incidentally that delay is only for the current 30-year time to double anthropogenic CO2 (our increment over an estimated 287 ppmv of natural background). It doesn’t apply to much slower CO2 changes, and then only when CO2 is driving temperature, whether up or down. The deglaciations of the past million years were supposedly each bootstrapped by temperature driving CO2—those for whom Milankovich is gospel can drop “supposedly”, Muller is dubious, at least about Milankovich.”

        Interesting. Of the Milankovich cycles, wobble should be more important because it is the least “cyclic” and impacts land mass orientation to the stronger portion of the annual cycle. Wobble is an internally generated “parameter” that land use can impact. It would generate the lag of CO2 by exposing soil previously under ice sheets, which BTW are a large part of the global “bread basket”. The 14.5 year lag to me appears to be Northern oceans “catching up” Of course, I am the only one crazy enough to use 2002 to 2010 (AQUA era) as a base line and work backwards :)

      • “Luckily, you have all the answers so I don’t have to fret.

        Fret away. So far Webby is keeping that particular answer to himself.”

        Not really. I have it documented elsewhere. Cap’n knows this, but not everyone does (in The Oil Conundrum).

        What I will do is solve the heat equation with initial conditions and boundary conditions for a simple experiment. And then I will add two dimensions of Maximum Entropy priors.

        The situation is measuring the temperature of a buried sensor situated at some distance below the surface after an impulse of thermal energy is applied. The physics solution to this problem is the heat kernel function which is the impulse response or Green’s function for that variation of the master equation. This is pure diffusion with no convection involved (heat is not sensitive to fields, gravity or electrical, so no convection).

        However the diffusion coefficient involved in the solution is not known to any degree of precision. The earthen material that the heat is diffusing through is heterogeneously disordered, and all we can really guess at that it has a mean value for the diffusion coefficient. By inferring through the maximum entropy principle, we can say that the diffusion coefficient has a PDF that is exponentially distributed with a mean value D.

        We then work the original heat equation solution with this smeared version of D, and then the kernel simplifies to a exp() solution.
        {1\over{2\sqrt{Dt}}}e^{-x/\sqrt{Dt}} $
        But we also don’t know the value of x that well and have uncertainty in its value. If we give a Maximum Entropy uncertainty in that value, then the solution simpilfies to
        {1\over2}{1\over{x_0+\sqrt{Dt}}} $
        where x0 is a smeared value for x.

        This is a valid approximation to the solution of this particular problem and the following Figure 1 is a fit to experimental data. There are two parameters to the model, an asymptotic value that is used to extrapolate a steady state value based on the initial thermal impulse and the smearing value which generates the red line. The slightly noisy blue line is the data, and one can note the good agreement.


        Figure 1: Fit of thermal dispersive diffusion model (red) to a heat impulse response (blue).
        Notice the long tail on the model fit.  The far field response in this case is the probability complement of the near field impulse response. In other words, what diffuses away from the source will show up at the adjacent target. By treating the system as two slabs in this way, we can give it an intuitive feel.

        By changing an effective scaled diffusion coefficient from small to large, we can change the tail substantially, see Figure 2. We call it effective because the stochastic smearing on D and Length makes it scale-free and we can longer tell if the mean in D or Length is greater. We could have a huge mean for D and a small mean for Length, or vice versa, but we could not distinguish between the cases, unless we have measurements at more locations.


        Figure 2 : Impulse response with increasing diffusion coefficient top to bottom.
        The term x represents time, not position .
        In practice, we won’t have a heat impulse as a stimulus. A much more common situation involves a step input for heat. The unit step response is the integral of the scaled impulse response


        The integral shows how the heat sink target transiently draws heat from the source.  If the effective diffusion coefficient is very small, an outlet for heat dispersal does not exist and the temperature will continue to rise. If the diffusion coefficient is zero, then the temperature will increase linearly with time, t (again this is without a radiative response to provide an outlet). 


        Figure 3 : Unit step response of dispersed thermal diffusion. The smaller the effective
        thermal diffusion coefficient, the longer the heat can stay near the source.

        Eventually the response will attain a square root growth law, indicative of a Fick’s law regime of what is often referred to as parabolic growth (somewhat of a misnomer).  The larger the diffusion coefficient, the more that the response will diverge from the linear growth. All this means is that the heat is dispersively diffusing to the heat sink.

        Application to AGW

        This has implications for the “heat in the pipeline” scenario of increasing levels of greenhouse gases and the expected warming of the planet.  Since the heat content of the oceans are about 1200 times that of the atmosphere, it is expected that a significant portion of the heat will enter the oceans, where the large volume of water will act as a heat sink.  This heat becomes hard to detect because of the ocean’s large heat capacity; and it will take time for the climate researchers to integrate the measurements before they can conclusively demonstrate that diffusion path.

        In the meantime, the lower atmospheric temperature may not change as much as it could, because the GHG heat gets diverted to the oceans.  The heat is therefore “in the pipeline”, with the ocean acting as a buffer, capturing the heat that would immediately appear in the atmosphere in the absence of such a large heat sink.  The practical evidence for this is a slowing of the atmospheric temperature rise, in accordance with the slower sqrt(t) rise than the linear t.   However, this can only go on so long, and when the ocean’s heat sink provides a smaller temperature difference than the atmosphere, the excess heat will cause a more immediate temperature rise nearer the source, instead of being spread around.

        In terms of AGW, whenever the global temperature measurements start to show divergence from the model, it is likely due to the ocean’s heat capacity.   Like the atmospheric CO2, the excess heat is not “missing” but merely spread around.

        EDIT:
        The contents of this post are discussed on The Missing Heat isn’t Missing at all.

        I mentioned in comments that the analogy is very close to sizing a heat sink for your computer’s CPU. The heat sink works up to a point, then the fan takes over to dissipate that buffered heat via the fins. The problem is that the planet does not have a fan nor fins, but it does have an ocean as a sink. The excess heat then has nowhere left to go. Eventually the heat flow reaches a steady state, and the pipelining or buffering fails to dissipate the excess heat.

        What’s fittingly apropos is the unification of the two “missing” cases of climate science.

        1. The “missing” CO2. Skeptics often complain about the missing CO2 in atmospheric measurements from that anticipated based on fossil fuel emissions. About 40% was missing by most accounts. This lead to confusion between the ideas of residence times versus adjustment times of atmospheric CO2. As it turns out, a simple model of CO2 diffusing to sequestering sites accurately represented the long adjustment times and the diffusion tails account for the missing 40%. I derived this phenomenon using diffusion of trace molecules, while most climate scientists apply a range of time constants that approximate diffusion.

        2. The “missing” heat. Concerns also arise about missing heat based on measurements of the average global temperature. When a TCR/ECS* ratio of 0.56 is asserted, 44% of the heat is missing. This leads to confusion about where the heat is in the pipeline. As it turns out, a simple model of thermal energy diffusing to deeper ocean sites may account for the missing 44%. In this post, I derived this using a master heat equation and uncertainty in the parameters. Isaac Held uses a different approach based on time constants.

        So that is the basic idea behind modeling the missing quantities of CO2 and of heat — just apply a mechanism of dispersed diffusion. For CO2, this is the Fokker-Planck equation and for temperature, the heat equation. By applying diffusion principles, the solution arguably comes out much more cleanly and it will lead to better intuition as to the actual physics behind the observed behaviors.

        I was alerted to this paper by Hansen et al (1985) which uses a box diffusion model. Hansen’s Figure 2 looks just like my Figure 3 above. This bends over just like Hansen’s does due to the diffusive square root of time dependence. When superimposed, it is not quite as strong a bend as shown in Figure 4 below.


        Figure 4: Comparison against Hansen’s model of diffusion

        This missing heat is now clarified in my mind. In the paper Hansen calls it “unrealized warming”, which is heat entering into the ocean without raising the climate temperature substantially.

        EDIT:
        The following figure is a guide to the eye which explains the role of the ocean in short- and long-term thermal diffusion, i.e. transient climate response. The data from BEST illustrates the atmospheric-land temperatures, which are part of the fast response to the GHG forcing function. While the GISTEMP temperature data reflects more of the ocean’s slow response.


        Figure 5: Transient Climate Response explanation


        Figure 6: Hansen’s original projection of transient climate sensitivity plotted against the GISTEMP data,
        which factors in ocean surface temperatures.

        *
        TCR = Transient Climate Response
        ECS = Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity

        Added:

        “Somewhere around 23 x 10^22 Joules of energy over the past 40 years has gone into the top 2000m of the ocean due to the Earth’s energy imbalance “

        That is an amazing number. If one assumes an energy imbalance of 1 watt/m^2, and integrate this over 40 years and over the areal cross-section of the earth, that accounts for 16 x 10^22 joules.

        The excess energy is going somewhere and it doesn’t always have to be reflected in an atmospheric temperature rise.

        To make an analogy consider the following scenario.

        Lots of people understand how the heat sink works that is attached to the CPU inside a PC. What the sink does is combat the temperature rise caused by the electrical current being injected into the chip. That number multiplied by the supply voltage gives a power input specified in watts. Given a large enough attached heat sink, the power gets dissipated to a much large volume before it gets a chance to translate quickly to a temperature rise inside the chip. Conceivably, with a large enough thermal conductance and a large enough mass for the heat sink, and an efficient way to transfer the heat from the chip to the sink, the process could defer the temperature rise to a great extent. That is an example of a transient thermal effect.

        The same thing is happening to the earth, to an extent that we know must occur but with some uncertainty based on the exact geometry and thermal diffusivity of the ocean and the ocean/atmospheric interface. The ocean is the heat sink and the atmosphere is the chip. The difference is that much of the input power is going directly into the ocean, and it is getting diffused into the depths. The atmosphere doesn’t have to bear the brunt of the forcing function until the ocean starts to equilibrate with the atmosphere’s temperature. This of course will take a long time based on what we know about temporal thermal transients and the Fickian response of temperature due to a stimulus.

      • Webster said, “The atmosphere doesn’t have to bear the brunt of the forcing function until the ocean starts to equilibrate with the atmosphere’s temperature.”

        Exactly. So until there is a sign that the rate of OH uptake has changed or other indications that there is an approach to an “equilibrium” there will remain uncertainty. As I said before, it is all about the changes in the rates of change.

        I also said before that the oceans are not a heat sink, but a thermal reservoir. The deep oceans have a second path of energy flow to the polar heat sinks. In “equilibrium that path, which is basically radiantless energy transfer would equal the surface energy transfer through the ocean/atmosphere layer. That brings me back to the “effective” or true if you prefer surface temperature. At “equilibrium” there are no insignificant paths of energy transfer in a system with plenty of time on its hands.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        As our hostess here has pointed out, the weak point of the Muller et al work is the attribution part. He should have simply left this out, as he had no new empirical data to support his conclusions.

        If one accepts his 1.5 degC total temperature rise rise since 1750 as valid, one most attempt to ascertain how much of this was caused by natural forcing factors (solar, etc.).

        IPCC has told us that this was only 7% of the total, with the remainung 93% caused by human forcing factors (primarily GHGs). IPCC has, however, conceded that its “level of scientific understanding of natural (solar) forcing is low”.

        Several solar studies tell us that around 50% of the warming can be attributed to the unusually high level of 20th century solar activity (highest in several thousand years). This is in direct contrast with the very low level of solar activity during the depth of the preceding Little Ice Age.

        On this basis, the 2xCO2 CS is much lower than you have estimated

        if climate sensitivity is 1.5 then the temperature should have risen 0.7 C, and if 3 then 1.4 C.

        So, if around half of the warming can be attributed to non-natural forcing and, say, two-thirds of this is from CO2, we have two-thirds of 0.7 C ~ 0.5 C from CO2 (from 280 to 390 ppmv), or a 2xCO2 CS of around 1 C.

        Makes sense to me.

        Max

      • Webster, I am not going to make a long post, Phttt! is the short response.

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/08/comparing-logic.html

        That is a little more in depth :)

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @WHT: Lots of people understand how the heat sink works that is attached to the CPU inside a PC.

        If you’d started with that analogy (which I’ve been using too, namely as the physical explanation of one component of my 14.5 year delay between radiative forcing and its impact on surface temperature) the CE denizens would have understood your point immediately. Making your readers wade through the detailed foundation on which the concept is built will greatly reduce the odds of their making it to that analogy.

        Whether they would agree with it is another matter. Rob Starkey complained it was a bad analogy when I used it the other day, to which I responded with this challenge (questions 1 and 2). So far neither Rob nor anyone else has taken it up.

        Skeptics often complain about the missing CO2 in atmospheric measurements from that anticipated based on fossil fuel emissions. About 40% was missing by most accounts.

        I wouldn’t say “often.” The last person I saw complain about it was someone with a Stanford Ph.D. in nuclear physics on Amazon two years ago who slipped it in between a stream of insinuations about the mental health of anyone who disagreed with him. (I checked his credentials; unless he was masquerading as that person they were real.)

        Climate skeptics aren’t motivated to complain about it because the few that are even aware of the 2x difference between emitted and accumulating CO2 learned it as a curiosity from climate scientists. If later on they do the math themselves and conclude the climate scientists were right, what do they have to complain about? And what climate skeptic argument does the 2x difference support anyway?

        This “missing CO2” is easily explained, at least qualitatively, in terms of homeostasis. Le Chatelier’s principle is an instance of homeostasis, and probably a major one in this context given that the ocean is 70% of Earth’s surface and is taking up huge amounts of CO2 and dissolving calcium carbonate to soluble bicarbonate. Since carbonate is a great buffer, the ocean must be consuming a lot of our excess CO2 in order to reduce ocean pH by even a small amount.

        Both phenomena are important to an understanding of global warming, but next time start with “homeostasis” and “(CPU) heatsink” as the basic explanations before diving into the detailed foundations.

      • Vaughan Pratt said, “@WHT: Lots of people understand how the heat sink works that is attached to the CPU inside a PC.

        If you’d started with that analogy (which I’ve been using too, namely as the physical explanation of one component of my 14.5 year delay between radiative forcing and its impact on surface temperature) the CE denizens would have understood your point immediately.”

        Some of the Denizens did understand the point despite remarkable verbose thermodynamic rationalization. They asked, “What is the design ambient range of your heat sink?” If you don’t know that, you are pissing up a rope.

        So some denizens say, “It is a thermal reservoir, not a heat sink.” That is what you use when you have no know clue what the ambient range will be. So you determine the range first, then the rate of diffusion for the extremes of the range.

        It is fun watching very intelligent people get their asses handed to them.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @cd: Some of the Denizens did understand the point despite remarkable verbose thermodynamic rationalization. They asked, “What is the design ambient range of your heat sink?”

        Sensible heat ratio, now ambient range. Some serious HVAC stuff we’re getting into, cd. ;)

        Ambient range is especially critical with heat sinks that connect to the CPU with heat pipes, which are very common nowadays. If the heat sink end of the heat pipe reaches the vaporization temperature of the coolant the transport of latent heat stops very abruptly and the temperature of the CPU suddenly skyrockets. This puts a sharp upper limit on the ambient temperature, which has to be sufficient to keep the heat sink below the coolant vaporization temperature. This was a problem with the first CPU enclosure I designed that incorporated heat pipes.

        But if God designed the oceans with an ambient range in mind he didn’t tell us what it should be in the bible. (He also didn’t explain DNA to us, but that might have been because he felt we weren’t quite ready for it just yet.)

        The reason the bible doesn’t give the design ambient range for the ocean is more likely because it doesn’t have one, just like a random block of copper doesn’t have a design ambient range. That doesn’t stop it from acting as a heat sink.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Incidentally air conditioners and fridges also require the ambient temperature to be below the boiling point (at the operating pressure) of the refrigerant. (“Refrigerant” is callled “coolant” for heat pipes, which evaporate thermally from the CPU heat rather than by adiabatic expansion.)

      • Vaughan, LOL, you really do not like my HVAC logic :)

        A heat sink that is large simplifies calculations. With your heat pipe example, you had to figure a little more to make things work. Now do you think OH uptake due to CO2 doubling is more like smearing some thermal past on a chip and screwing it to the heat sink or like the heat pipe?

        BTW,

        http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o252/captdallas2/SSTlandreductioninvariance.png

        Using the 2002-2010 base line I wanted to “see” how variance changed in the temperature record. I had to add 1 to each series to avoid divide by zero, but it makes a neat graph in Gator Orange and Blue. Funny how in 1995 there appears to be some synchronization. Since you are not a fan of Ambient, how about initial conditions? What initial conditions did you select for your heat sink calculations?

      • There is little doubt that the ocean is a heat sink. Sure, some heat sources can fluctuate, but on average the direction of heat flow is from the excess heat to the deep oceans (where it is obviously colder). Diffusion of heat is to more-or-less evenly occupy all of state space, in agreement with the direction of the arrow of entropy. These are really fundamental considerations that hold.

        I agree with Vaughan that we are not talking about design considerations like we have with components that you can hold in your hand. This heat sink is semi-infinite and we can try to solve it using a disordered version of a Green’s function like I demonstrated. That’s a great little function because it is often analytically integrable against all kinds of forcing functions.

        It’s Cool Stuff, it’s Hot Stuff, both.

      • Web the key though is semi-infinite. The oceans themselves have a pair of “sinks” at the poles. Because of the geometry of the land masses, the rates of flow to those two sinks would be different and the rate of energy into the oceans is different because of the same geometry difference and the annual solar variation, +/- 40 Wm-2. The work you did provides a reasonable “benchmark”, but that has to be compared to reality. The plots I made showing the approach of the SST versus Stratosphere to an asymptotic value is inconsistent with your results. So I made a quick and dirty model of the ocean heat flows using three layers. That seriously reduces the response time of the upper mixing level, consistent with Schwartz and pretty close to Vaughan’s 14.5 years. That implies that the deeper oceans warming is thermal inertia. It has its own response time.

        Then we have the reduction in variance indication. Despite the noise and uncertainty in the temperature data, the reduction in variance is consistent with an approach to a thermal capacity limit. In a system this complex you are not going to have things match any calculation or estimate reliably, that is the nature of non-equilibrium thermodynamics. That is not a cop out, it is actually an interesting puzzle.

        I don’t expect to convince either you or Vaughan, but if I am still kicking in about three years, you both will enjoy a few I told ya so’s :)

        That doesn’t mean that warming may not be a problem or that ocean acidification may not be an issue, it just means that there is longer term natural variability being mistaken as CO2 forcing. To prove that though, I pretty much have to model every friggin’ glacial variation for the past 120,000 years or so. That is an interesting puzzle too.

        This is not your average CPU heat sink.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        cd and WHT, as this four-deep thread is getting a bit unmanageable I’ve continued it here, indented all the way out. Sorry if this competes with different indentations serving the same purpose.

      • Oh, Web, here is a fun little puzzle for you. Temperature anomaly is great. really simplifies things. The high steppes in Eurasia and the US have an average elevation of 1500 meters. The air specific volume of air at 1500 meters is about 17% less than at sea level. Ever wondered why the satellites and surface temperatures are close but not quite the same?

      • Girma,

        I see. So, if this is correct, the advocates of carbon pricing policies like Stern and Gore would advocate we spend some $30 trillion to attempt to avoid us gaining the benefit of another 1.1 degrees of warming.

        How illogical is that?

        Of course, most rational people realise the carbon pricing policy would cost a great deal more than $30 trillion and achieve no beneficial change whatsoever.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Of course, most rational people realise the carbon pricing policy would cost a great deal more than $30 trillion and achieve no beneficial change whatsoever.

        That would be true if the $30T disappeared into a black hole, or Al Gore’s capacious pockets, as opponents of carbon pricing claim. But if instead the $30T were used to incentivize use of lower-carbon energy sources, which is what the policies actually do, you would have to argue that CO2 was harmless in order to demonstrate no beneficial change whatsoever.

        Everybody wants to think that their beliefs are the rational ones and the others are the irrational ones. Whenever I see “most rational people realize” in an argument, my first thought is that the arguer has failed to grasp this fundamental point. It is the same in religion. Muslims believe their version of Islam is the only correct one, whether they are Sunnis or Shiites Christians likewise, whether they are Catholics or Protestants. They all feel free to say “most rational people realize…”

      • Vaughan Pratt,
        [This was response was posted elsewhere (in the wrong place)]

        Thank you for your response to my comment.

        Everybody wants to think that their beliefs are the rational ones and the others are the irrational ones. Whenever I see “most rational people realize” in an argument, my first thought is that the arguer has failed to grasp this fundamental point. It is the same in religion.

        You got that absolutely right. Case in point, you think your comment is rational. And you think that wasting trillions on mitigation strategies without sound evidence they will do anything beneficial to the climate or sea level is rational. Your statement is correct and, without recognising it, you comment provides an excellent example of economically irrational argument.

        That would be true if the $30T disappeared into a black hole, or Al Gore’s capacious pockets, as opponents of carbon pricing claim. But if instead the $30T were used to incentivize use of lower-carbon energy sources, which is what the policies actually do, you would have to argue that CO2 was harmless in order to demonstrate no beneficial change whatsoever.

        Sorry, Vaughan, that is no better than ‘pub talk’ economics.

        Nordhaus (2012) concludes that a policy that would implement the optimal carbon price throughout the whole world, in unison, and keep it at the optimal price throughout the world for 50 years and beyond would have a net benefit of $3.5 trillion (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/apr/26/climate-casino-exchange/). Just to be clear, that is a net benefit of just $3.5 trillion compared with $2,200 trillion cumulative global GDP (discounted at 4.3%) (i.e. about 0.02%). And the benefit is only realised if all the assumptions are met. Here are the assumptions that must be met to achieve that benefit (judge for yourself whether or not you think they are practicable):

        The assumptions are academic but totally impracticable to achieve in the real world. Here are some of the assumptions:

        • Negligible leakage (of emissions between countries)

        • All emission sources are included (all countries and all emissions in each country)

        • Negligible compliance cost

        • Negligible fraud

        • An optimal carbon price

        • The whole world implements the optimal carbon price in unison

        • The whole world acts in unison to increase the optimal carbon price periodically

        • The whole world continues to maintain the carbon price at the optimal level for all of this century (and thereafter).

        If these assumptions are not met, the net benefits estimated will not be achieved. As Nordhaus says, p198 http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf :

        Moreover, the results here incorporate an estimate of the importance of participation for economic efficiency. Complete participation is important because the cost function for abatement appears to be highly convex. We preliminarily estimate that a participation rate of 50 percent instead of 100 percent will impose a cost penalty on abatement of 250 percent.

        In other words, if only 50% of emissions are captured in the carbon pricing scheme, the cost penalty for the participants would be 250%. The 50% participation could be achieved by, for example, 100% of countries participating in the scheme but only 50% of the emissions in total from within the countries are caught, or 50% of countries participate and 100% of the emissions within those countries are caught in the scheme (i.e. taxed or traded).

        Given the above, we can see that the assumptions are theoretical and totally impracticable. To recognize this, try to imagine how we could capture 100% of emissions from 100% of emitters in Australia (every cow, sheep, goat) in the CO2 pricing scheme, let alone expecting the same to be done across the whole world; e.g. China, India, Eretria, Ethiopia, Mogadishu and Somalia.

        http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/comment-page-1/#comment-515886

        Lastly, I have not seen a proper, objective, impartial analyses of the probability that the proposed mitigation strategies (like CO2 tax and ETS) will have the desired effect on climate or sea levels. Have you?

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Sorry, Vaughan, that is no better than ‘pub talk’ economics.

        I don’t understand how that constitutes an argument against my “if instead the $30T were used to incentivize use of lower-carbon energy sources you would have to argue that CO2 was harmless in order to demonstrate no beneficial change whatsoever.” Simply saying an argument is rubbish is not a compelling way of showing it is illogical. Please be more specific about what is illogical about what I wrote.

        You then followed that up with a pointer to something you said Nordhaus wrote (though it seemed to be preceded by something written by Roger W. Cohen, Happer, and Lindzen, whose general drift I imagine every single denizen of this blog could pretty much predict). The first paragraph in Nordhaus’s portion read

        “In reading the letter from Roger Cohen, William Happer, and Richard Lindzen (CHL), I have the sense of walking into a barroom brawl. They defend the article by sixteen scientists in The Wall Street Journal by firing a fusillade of complaints at everyone in sight, including Science editor Donald Kennedy, climate scientists with hacked e-mails, columnist Paul Krugman, biologist Paul Ehrlich, activist Robert Kennedy Jr., economist Nicholas Stern, and even former Vice President Al Gore.”

        After wading through C,H&L to get to Nordhaus, and then that opening paragraph, I felt I had completely lost track of the reasoning in whatever argument you were trying to make. Not only did you not offer a satisfactory refutation of the logic in “if instead the $30T were used to incentivize use of lower-carbon energy sources you would have to argue that CO2 was harmless in order to demonstrate no beneficial change whatsoever,” you did not counter it with an equally succinct line of reasoning of your own, just lots of large numbers with no understandable underlying logic.

        Instead of throwing out numbers left and right, just assume there are two, three, or four key numbers, call them A, B, C or whatever without worrying whether they’re in the billions, trillions, or quadrillions, and say something reasonable about them, meaning something where your reasoning is clear, ideally some general principle governing them.

        As it stands any logic in your reasoning is drowned in a barrage of large numbers.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        I don’t understand how that constitutes an argument against my “if instead the $30T were used to incentivize use of lower-carbon energy sources you would have to argue that CO2 was harmless in order to demonstrate no beneficial change whatsoever.”

        That argument seems nonsensical to me. The second part does not follow logically from the first. There is s much wrong with this, I don’t know where to start, and frankly, can’t be bothered wasting the time on your proposition. First, there is a great big “IF” which is not what happens in reality and even if it was wouldn’t mean that the