Coping with deep climate uncertainty

by Judith Curry

So, what do you think climate science and policy would look like if the IPCC worked for the World Bank, instead of the UNFCCC?

World Bank Report

The World Bank has a new white paper entitled: Investment decision making under deep uncertainty — application to climate change.  From the Summary:

While agreeing on the choice of an optimal investment decision is already difficult for any diverse group of actors, priorities, and world views, the presence of deep uncertainties further challenges the decision-making framework by questioning the robustness of all purportedly optimal solutions. This paper summarizes the additional uncertainty that is created by climate change, and reviews the tools that are available to project climate change (including downscaling techniques) and to assess and quantify the corresponding uncertainty. Assuming that climate change and other deep uncertainties cannot be eliminated over the short term (and probably even over the longer term), it then summarizes existing decision-making methodologies that are able to deal with climate-related uncertainty, namely cost-benefit analysis under uncertainty, cost-benefit analysis with real options, robust decision making, and climate informed decision analysis. It also provides examples of applications of these methodologies, highlighting their pros and cons and their domain of applicability. The paper concludes that it is impossible to define the “best” solution or to prescribe any particular methodology in general. Instead, a menu of methodologies is required, together with some indications on which strategies are most appropriate in which contexts. This analysis is based on a set of interviews with decision-makers, in particular World Bank project leaders, and on a literature review on decision-making under uncertainty. It aims at helping decision-makers identify which method is more appropriate in a given context, as a function of the project’s lifetime, cost, and vulnerability.

Michael Levi

Michael Levi lays out the challenge at Energy, Security and Climate in a post entitled How can we cope with deep climate uncertainty?

The basic problem is that climate policy faces at least two sets of big unknowns. The first concerns the climate itself: How much damage will a given accumulation of greenhouse gases cause? Will damages rise steadily with increasing concentrations – or are there thresholds beyond which impacts will rapidly multiply? In the presence of such unknowns, a push for robustness tends to mean a push for deeper emissions cuts, even if those might turn out to cost more than actual climate sensitivity ultimately justifies.

The second set of unknowns surrounds the relationship between public policy and the energy system. We have little idea of which policies would actually succeed in delivering particular emissions reductions – and no, “capping” emissions doesn’t guarantee any particular outcome.

Combining this source of uncertainty with the first one can quickly run you into trouble. Unknowns at the extremely ugly end of possible climate outcomes tend to drive policy toward big bets on large emissions reductions. But these sorts of bets, which take us the furthest away from past experience, are vulnerable to the biggest unknowns on the policy side. It’s difficult to completely escape this bind.

Focusing on particularly disruptive policies because they’re the only ones that have a chance to be “strong enough” to deal with an unexpectedly sensitive climate also raises the odds of political failure, and hence also increases the chances of ultimately being stuck with the status quo. Both of these tendencies tend to shift the distribution of likely climate outcomes toward the extremes: either things end up a lot better than they’re currently on course to turn out, or our prospects don’ improve much at.

David Roberts

David Roberts at Grist has an excellent article on the World Bank Report:  In a climate crazed world, how can we plan for the future?   Excerpts:

The politicians and other leaders who make (or influence) such decisions do not like deep uncertainty. So they ask analysts for cost-benefit analysis (CBA). CBA is useful in some circumstances, particularly where there are bounded time spans and known risks. But remember, there’s a difference between risk (statistically quantifiable) and uncertainty (not). It is the difference, if you will, between Rumsfeld’s “known unknowns” and his “unknown unknowns.”

 “Results from the CBA,” says the World Bank, are “extremely dependent on parameters on which there is no scientific agreement (e.g., the impact of climate change on hurricanes) or no consensus (e.g., the discount rate).” It’s still possible to construct models and get answers, but the danger becomes higher and higher of getting the wrong answer, i.e., optimizing for the wrong thing.

Lesson: If you spend a bunch of money optimizing for the wrong thing, it can be worse than doing nothing.

Now, whenever I criticize cost-benefit analysis, someone will ask, Well, what’s the alternative? What else can you do but weigh costs and benefits? How else would you make decisions?

Shift the focus from optimality to robustness

The optimal decision is the one that achieves the best cost-benefit ratio in a given set of conditions. A robust decision can be expected to hold up, and perform reasonably well, under a wide variety of possible conditions. To make the optimal decision, you must be able to quantify risks. When there is uncertainty rather than risk — “multiple possible future worlds without known relative probabilities” — one is better off with robust decisions.

The optimal decision aims for efficiency; the robust decision aims for resilience. A resilient solution may not be — probably won’t be — the one best suited for whatever circumstances do end up coming to pass. But it is, from the present-day perspective, the one most broadly suited to the widest array of possible futures.

When it comes to climate change, most economic models are premised on CBA — the search for efficiency. The World Bankers suggest an alternative, based on robustness, and yes, it involves yet another acronym: CIDA, or Climate Informed Decision Analysis, also known as “decision scaling.”

“As a process committed to acceptance of deep uncertainties,” they say, “CIDA does not attempt to reduce uncertainties or make predictions, but rather determine which decision options are robust to a variety of plausible futures.”

The main thing to understand is that the first step is assembling stakeholders and mapping out their concerns — where they are vulnerable, what they can tolerate, what they want to avoid, what they aspire to. That’s your vulnerability analysis and it is entirely separate from the vagaries of climate models. It gives you a set of decisions to analyze.

Then you figure out which decisions are vulnerable to which climate outcomes. Once you have a “map of which decision options are optimal under which groups of climate conditions,” then, and only then, you use statistical techniques (and “expert judgment”) to try to figure out how likely those climate outcomes are. That last step is as much an art as a science.

This gives you, not a single, optimal decision, but a kind of decision matrix that reflects stakeholder concerns and reveals which specific dangers face which specific decisions. It avoids the hubris of pretending to know exactly what will happen in the future. And it’s more transparent and democratic.

JC comment:  IMO the World Bank report is a breakthrough in climate policy, given their influence (and $$) in the policy world.  Others (including myself) have been talking about and embracing these ideas in an academic context, e.g. see these two recent posts at Climate Etc.:

It is particularly interesting to see David Roberts embrace these ideas; David is the founder of the ‘Climate Hawks’ movement.

So, back to my original question:  What do you think climate science and policy would look like if the IPCC worked for the World Bank, instead of the UNFCCC?  My RS presentation on climate models provides my thoughts on what this would look like, with a greater emphasis on the historical and paleo data record and climate models used to develop and assess likelihood of a much broader range of future climate scenarios.

Update:  here is the latest from the UN climate deliberations 

349 responses to “Coping with deep climate uncertainty

  1. In a financial sense global warming alarmism is shorting America and going long on Brazil, Russia, India and China.

    • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

      What “deep climate” uncertainty? The planet has not warmed in 15 years according to some. Nothing to have to cope with according to them. Let’s go ahead and pump, dig, excavate and burn every last possible fossil fuel we can as the Earth is immune to anything humans can do.

      • The first 3 sentences would have been enough and I agree. The last sentence is just a neurosis.

      • Beware sarcastic Warmists wearing their Togas of Hypocrisy like hairshirts.

        What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

      • Wagathon, as you know, the problem is NOT deep climate uncertainty, . .

        But deep (blind) certainty about false (deceptive) models of reality (Earth’s heat source – the Sun and Earth’s immunity to the force that the Voyager spacecraft found to extend out about 120 AU from the Sun’s pulsar core).

        Resolution of the AGW debate and escape from the looming disaster ahead for society will probably require a return of:

        1. Constitutional limits on our governments
        2. Reason-based faith in RTGN*
        3. Integrity in official science

        *RTGN = Reality, Truth, God, Nature, Spirit of the Universe, The Father of Light, The Force, etc.

      • R gates

        Who you are addressing this missive to? Do you realise the problems the green agenda is creating to those countries-like the UK-forced to follow it?

        How much is your petrol? Is it over 10$ a gallon here in the UK. How about the energy used to heat your home? Is it so costly here that many people here are now in fuel poverty.

        Do you believe in trashing the countryside in order to save the environment? Come to the Uk where thouands of expensive windmills are being put on our finest landscapes in order to generate expensive green power-problem is the turbine blades don’t turn when a winter high pressure settles over the country. As we’re gettng rid of our coal fired and nuclear power stations what is our advanced industrialised country supposed to use to power our indusries and how do we remain competitive against other countries paying lip service to the environment including your own

        Of course we need to generate power in a rsponsible fashion, but the headlong dash to be green at any price is hurting us. We need to recognise it will be a slow process-probably fifty years- before we can wean ourseles off fossil fuels and find a cheap alternative, but in the meantime I dont want to be a green guinea pig whilst other countries just burn through energy….

      • Tony,

        When I see smart people that I respect saying really stupid things, I figure I need to join in as it seems to be the thing to do.

        As I think I’ve told you before, I feel badly for anyone, anywhere suffering because of energy scarcity, energy costs, or energy monopolies. Energy should be cheap, decentralized, and readily available to all– pretty much the same way that nature brings it. However, just as I told my son who kept complaining that he couldn’t afford to fill up his old gas guzzler. “Maybe its time to downsize to the public transportation system”. I also helped him all summer add some extra insulaiton to his attic and other weather-proofing of his house. A great deal of energy can be saved by downsizing of life-styles and smart conservation.

      • R gates

        We have a very modest house situated in one of the warmest parts of the country. We are reasonably well off. Its now 7.45pm on a chilly night. We will turn on the gas fire at 9, living room only. Last year we turned on the central heating on December 1st. Fortunately it was a fairly mild winter-if it had been as cold as the previous two winters the bill would have been beyond us.

        I’ve been up in our loft laying glass fibre-made of old plastic bottles. I’ve crawled into our very low underhouse to stuff insulation betwen the floor boards. Power is just too expensive no matter how much you economise and inconvenience yourself and freeze.

        You dont pay 10US dollars a gallon for your car do you?. I do. Mine does around 40mpg. Pretty good. I also have an electric bike powered by a solar pane. I downsize in what manner?l

        If I want to vsit my sister in Austraia we will have to pay hundreds of dollars in the green ‘Air passenger duty’ How large is your APD?
        Down size? Shall I go and live in a shed and hibernate?

        Many millions of people can’t cope with the very high prices for fuel, (another 7 percent increase this month) with the certainty that if we have more cold winters the energy grid eventually won’t be able to cope as we’ve closed too much of our capacity in order to meet our carbon targets and instead hope that useless windmills will take their place.

        Lobby your govt if you want to pay high prices, in the meantime recognise that many of us are already livng with the consequences of having a legally binding climate change act.

  2. If the IPCC came under the World Bank, the whole process would, based on this report, be far more robust. We read it here first. Thank you Dr Curry.

  3. There is no debate… the government knows that you will pay whatever energy costs may be even if taxes go up; it takes energy to live and there is no debate about that either.

    There also is no debate as far as the Left is concerned about many other things having to do with energy production. For example, there will never be another dam or nuclear power plant or more drilling. America is pretty well broken down politically after having been severely wounded by corruption of traditional morals and customs and even the basic principles of Americana—e.g., respect for individual liberty, self-determination, personal responsibility, property of others—even the lives of unborn infants. The Golden Goose and Golden Rule are cooked.

    • Regretfully, I agree with you. But I also have confidence that deception carries its own seeds of destruction. Unfortunately a lot of innocent folks may sufffer before world leaders recognize the inescapable consequences of karma

  4. lurker, passing through laughing

    Sory, but this is just another rationalization of the idea that ‘uncertainty’ means we have to put even more resources into the demands of the climate obsessed, as Dr. Levi asserts, “even if those might turn out to cost more than actual climate sensitivity ultimately justifies.” What utter bulls*t.
    It is as if AGW extremism and CO2 obsession results in a decrease of intelligence and a collapse of analytical skills, especially in those who claim to be well educated.

    • Scientifically it is sheer absurdity to think we can get a nice climate by turning a CO2 adjustment knob. Many confuse environmental protection with climate protection. it’s impossible to protect the climate, but we can protect the environment and our drinking water. On the debate concerning alternative energies, which is sensible, it is often driven by the irrational climate debate. One has nothing to do with the other. (Meteorologist Klaus-Eckard Puls, translated by P Gosselin: The Belief That CO2 Can Regulate Climate Is “Sheer Absurdity” Says Prominent German Meteorologist)

      • lurker, passing through laughing

        some faux science paper was jsut published claiming that slight increases in CO2ppm will cause negative effeccts in human congnition. They even rigged a Lewandowsky style experiemnt to “prove” it.
        They also ignored decades of data from the US Navy submarine fleet that completely disproves their claim and invalidates their ‘experiment’.
        CO2 obsession seems to primarily act to corrode integtrity, critical thinking and logical thinking.

      • One white lie for man and one giant green lie for mankind. I guess everyone has heard by now how one man and then his son made a cottage industry out of falsifying the Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 concentration data, right?

        “”Since 1812, the CO2 concentration in northern hemispheric air has fluctuated exhibiting three high level maxima around 1825, 1857 and 1942 the latter showing more than 400 ppm.” ~Ernst Beck

        A 385 ppm CO2 level as it currently is pegged is at a 600 million year low. It hasn’t been as low on Earth since about 300 millions years ago. “CO2 is a bit-part player. It occupies only one-ten-thousandth more of the atmosphere than it did 250 years ago. Will Happer (2009), an eminent Princeton scientist, recently testified before the Environment and Public Works Committee of the US Senate that the world is currently starved of CO2 compared with its concentration in geological time.”

      • lurker, the study was incomplete, CO2 when mixed with recreational drugs in an academic environment causes confusion, mania and cognitive disorders.

      • Wagathong said:

        “One white lie for man and one giant green lie for mankind. I guess everyone has heard by now how one man and then his son made a cottage industry out of falsifying the Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 concentration data, right?”
        You got it Wag! And all the thousands of scientists who’ve taken the measurements of CO2 ever since are part of this conspiracy, including those who do the measurments in college science courses. I’ve heard they must swear an oath before taking the course that they will falsify their measurements so as to be initiated into the AGW Cult. Brave of you to expose this Wag!

      • lurker, passing through laughing

        Why does R. Gates make a bigger fool of himself bloviating on conspiracies, when as he demonstrates so well, plain stupidity will do just fine?

      • Apparenlty Lurker does not appreciate dry sarcasm and irony used a method to illustrate the absurdity of someone’s position.

      • Apparently Gates does not know or care that the ‘official’ measurement relied upon by the Climatist community is taken at the site of an active volcano where there atmospheric CO2 level that can vary up to 600 ppm in a single day which of course results in the elimination of a lot of data.

      • Sheer nonsense and absurdity indeed.

      • Since Gosselin draws on the classical physics of d’Alembert, do you think the MSM will pay attention to him now that the bombshell paper by Marcie Rathke of the University of Southern North Dakota has been accepted for publication in Advances in Pure Mathematics.?

        Although ‘Independent, Negative, Canonically Turing Arrows of Equations and Problems in Applied Formal PDE’ may be a hard reading,
        the abstract is thankfully a model of concision:

        “Let ρ = A. Is it possible to extend isomorphisms? We show that D´ is stochastically orthogonal and trivially affine. [For real atmospheric systems] the main result was the construction of p-Cardano, compactly Erdős, Weyl functions. This could shed important light on a conjecture of Conway–d’Alembert.”

        How many more times must the hoax be mathematically demolished before Hansen and Mann publish a retraction ?

      • The equation of AGW True Believers to capture the Earth’s complexity is a model of simplicity–i.e.,

        –> f(CO2) = global warming!

      • That would make a good topic. Can you find math geek English translator though? Not being to average point A with point B is one thing but you can separate spaces to simplify the math then go all vector-linear on the problem.
        That is actually a non-equilibrium thermo trick, divide and conquer with nested models, then sort out the dissipation and chaos later.

      • Hola Sokal!

    • @lurker, passing through laughing:

      You’re overreacting, mistaking the first horn of a dilemma Levi’s describing as his position. The following paragraphs explicitly describe what’s wrong with the position described in the paragraph you excerpted.

      Combining this source of uncertainty with the first one can quickly run you into trouble. Unknowns at the extremely ugly end of possible climate outcomes tend to drive policy toward big bets on large emissions reductions. But these sorts of bets, which take us the furthest away from past experience, are vulnerable to the biggest unknowns on the policy side. It’s difficult to completely escape this bind.

      But you’re probably right that many CAGW alarmists stop where you did.


    Loss control.

    That means climate change due someone’s decision to burn carbon is already costing me money without my consent or compensation.

    I want that money back from the people who took it from me.

    Where’s my money Exxon?

    The World Bank report lays out the case that my investment opportunities are constrained without my consent or any compensation by the decision of someone to burn carbon and take from me options I once had that would have made me money.

    I want that money.

    Where’s my money King Coal?

    Mitt Romney wants to rush 40% Chinese-owned pipelines from Canada through the USA to ports on the Pacific, giving China control over Canadian oil the USA knows is vital to US economic security. This will drive up the cost of oil in the USA while reducing the shareholder return to oil on the world market. That’s gonna cost me money two ways.

    Where’s my money, Mitt?

    The US President made a point about economic leadership in the second debate, one Mitt Romney did not oppose: America’s environmental and energy policy is determined by the oil industry; it’s future is in wind, solar and nuclear. Do we want a feet-of-clay policy led by vestiges of the past whose only interest is to quash innovation, or a future-focus on the most effective and efficient new ways of replacing tired old polluting technologies with clean, lean, better-paying advances?

    That’s where the smart money is.

    • Bart R

      You have described a neat money making scheme (or scam?).

      Just another bunch lining up at the (taxpayer funded) AGW trough.


      • Heinrich the Norwegian Elkhound

        Good luck finding your money, Bart.

        Speaking of Canadian oil and AGW-troughs – Here’s another tax-payer funded green-wash.

        Smart money or corporate welfare?

      • Heinrich the Norwegian Elkhound | October 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm |

        Smart money or corporate welfare?

        Is everything an either or question in your world? If they actually make it work effectively, then it’s both, eh Heinrich? Is it intimidating that environmental problems like AGW are mitigated and adapted to based on the work and ingenuity of climate skeptics and free-market believing scientists and engineers?

      • AllenC | October 19, 2012 at 10:42 am |

        And people wonder why words like “denialist” get thrown around.

        Here’s what Canadians (granted, they’re nutty, but wouldn’t you rather a nutty Canadian voter than a nutty Saudi hijacker?) say:

        Tar and tarsands are commonplace, proper, usage. Denying it is just propaganda and marketing by an industry that doesn’t like being reminded of how dirty it is. Those ducks sure aren’t coated in salad dressing, bucko.

        And for WHT:

        Sure, I’m linking to not just Progressive, but Canadian Progressive, sources, but that’s because there’s a full court press in government-controlled Canadian media to do just what AllenC and other tarpatchers have just done here: redefine terms and hide the truth.

      • BartR
        Pure propaganda with no truth. You choose your terms based upon emotion rather than based upon fact. You, sir, are a zealot.

      • Heinrich the Norwegian Elkhound | October 19, 2012 at 11:25 am |

        I’ll meet you halfway. Rather than remove the word, I suggest replacing it with its opposite: “uneconomical”.

        AllenC | October 19, 2012 at 11:48 am |

        Huh. I’ve provided 3 links. I could provide six hundred more, each progressively more compelling, objective and uninfluenced by industry spin.

        You’ve provided assertions without support.

        I suggest that between the two of us zealots appealing to emotion, I’m the one backed by fact.

      • manacker | October 18, 2012 at 11:42 am |

        We see here the difference between a European socialist, and a European:

        The socialist is the one who calls Capitalism a scam.

        Heinrich the Norwegian Elkhound | October 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm |

        Canada has plowed so many billions into the tar industry specifically for the purpose of influencing American interests that the mind boggles. The amount of subsidy the Canadian government has poured into Alberta’s tar patch exceeds the spending of all governments combined in all petrochemical exploits worldwide, even if you include what the US government is paying in clean-up costs in the Gulf of Mexico. An astounding feat for a country with only the population of Mexico City.

        And then they let the oil companies they were subsidizing be bought up by Chinese government run interests that have been found practicing espionage on every continent, for a song. They built the world’s most expensive economic WMD and handed it to China.

      • Bart,

        There is no tar industry in Alberta. The Oil Sands (bitumen, to be totally accurate) is not tar.

        What subsidies are you talking about??? Please provide justification for your claims of a subsidy.

      • Heinrich the Norwegian Elkhound

        They built the world’s most expensive economic WMD and handed it to China.

        Take out the word “economic” and you might be on to something there.

    • Bart are you going to pay me for the CO2 emissions that you have engaged in? Yes, they lay out an argument that is based on a highly contested conjecture that rising CO2 is responsible for increases in natural disasters.

      • johnfpittman | October 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm |

        Me personally pay you?

        Not that I can see. That would be administratively impractical.

        Someone somehow?

        Yes. That’s the point.

        And this ad populam agitprop “highly contested” phrase? Be reminded Christianity is highly contested by Islam, Hinduism, Buddism, Mormonism, and yet the existence of these other mythologies does not convince its adherents.

        Also, “conjecture” is patently false. You’re making stuff up. The word you’re looking for is “fact”.

      • “Yes. That’s the point.”
        And what of the benefits that you have gained from the use of cheap fossil fuel energy? For example, cheap transportation not only allows you to commute for an hour each way to work, thus living in a “nicer” environment than where you work, but also saves the lives of many people by getting them to medical help quickly. It also allows you to access to cheap Chinese made computers, facilitating your tele-commuting.
        Just two examples of the benefits you – indeed most of the “developed” world – reap from cheap fossil fuel energy. And not just you, but your parents and children as well. Will you account for that too, and will you force your children to be the first generation in over 100 years to be *worse* off than their parents?
        Think Bart – if we relied on solar and other renewables only, we would still be using horses. Imagine the environmental disaster of several million horses in the greater London area all pooping and having even 1% of that washed into the Thames. Imagine the smell!
        We cannot go backwards, we *must* move forwards by finding ways to be kinder to the environment *and* improving our lifestyles at the same time. And we have been. But like so many “environmentalists”, you seem blind to the benefits of cheap energy – the very benefits that give you the luxury to care about the environment, the very benefits that allow you to know of the damage you are doing and give you means to ask your government to make the changes that will happen anyway. And that is the real irony of the radical green movement.

      • Neil Fisher | October 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm |


        Finally. We have the Cheap Energy Welfare Argument. Thank you for bringing up this old chestnut.

        Every Economist has heard the argument, “if there were one common commodity you could lower the price of to improve the welfare of the most people, it would be energy.”

        It’s a staple of welfare economics. And it is patently false.

        It’s used as the premise of the argument _against_ subsidy, because when you show that if you subsidize energy you reduce the welfare of the exact people you are seeking to help, then you have sufficient argument to torpedo any subsidy to any industrial commodity across a whole industry.

        When you subsidize a single fuel, you kill innovation and erect a barrier to exit from the Market for its producers while barring entry to the Market from its competitors. Any gains in a single period to the welfare of any group are eroded inevitably due to the lost fruits of competition. You kill the goose that lays the golden eggs of progress.

        Cheap transportation leads to urban sprawl, trapping workers in their cars.. which they’re forced to rely on more, driving up the price of cars over time and forcing their fellow consumers also to get cars and forcing local governments to pave roads to the standards required by cars and hospitals to build emergency wards to the standard to handle frequent and severe car collisions. These are not benefits. They are net harms, even after the benefits are figured in. Replace cheap fuel with cheap telecommunications and your telecommuters can live anywhere without reference to work location or school location, and efficient small centers to support the necessities of life will replace distant and expensive megamalls and megahospitals.

        Also, this ‘cheap’ idea is itself an illusion. Collecting the taxes to pay for the subsidies and tax holidays enjoyed by the fossil industry at the expense of the rest of us takes much, much more money than the Market would cost to produce similar levels of benefits, and it deprives individuals of the democratic power to decide how they spend their money, which itself is Priceless.

        The rest of your alarmist fantasy horse-pucky, really not worth responding to. I’ve already spent enough time today arguing against European Socialists.

      • “We have the Cheap Energy Welfare Argument”.
        Can you please cite where I suggested subsidy?
        Can you please explain why taxation of a specific commodity is good, while subsidy is bad, when both are artificial changes imposed by force on the market?
        Can you please explain why subsidy of fossil fuels is bad, while subsidy of renewable energy sources is good?
        Can you please explain why, since you appear to be pointing out the costs of fossil fuel use, I cannot point out the benefits?
        Can you please explain why the oil company needs to pay for damage that was not reasonably foreseeable, while you do not need to pay for benefits you received by the same use?
        You see, I am NOT advocating subsidy, I am pointing out the other side to your argument – one you certainly do not appear to have considered. Or if you have, you have decided not to comment on – presumably as it weakens your case.

        It will be interesting to note your response, if any – will you fall back on an ad hom attack, or will you argue your case on it’s merits? If you have previously posted honestly, then no doubt it will be the latter. If, however, you are an advocate cloaking themselves in a fake veneer of science, we will see the former.

        Your turn…

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Bart is advoocating a $300/tonne carbon tax. This would certainly work to force 100% substitution. It would of course leave energy costs quite a lot higher and no tax revenue. A bit of a fatal flaw there. He is as well a liar and a fraud.

      • Neil Fisher | October 20, 2012 at 5:50 am |

        This will teach me for giving the reply I want to a comment, not the reply that refutes it entirely, however dull the points needing refutation. Now I’m forced into an exchange with a tedious and tendentious correspondent.

        The “benefits of cheap fossil energy” phrase represents an entire well-developed and well-studied school of thought in the subject of welfare economics. Bill Gates makes use of it when he gives TED Talks, and then goes on to explain that this is the reason he’s investing in breeder reactors. Though I suspect your use of the phrase has its roots closer to Nigel Lawson’s hideous “white man’s burden” argument in that book of agitprop he wrote claiming it’s “our” duty to force coal on Africa for “their” own good.

        In the upshot this cheap energy welfare argument inevitably morphs to a demand for government favors to private parties in the energy industry while imposing a drag on the Economy we can mathematically show will always be a net harm, and always ends up the only reason that unsuccessful enterprises no one really wants or needs gain a stranglehold in the Market while innovation is stamped out. I used subsidy as but one case to represent the whole phenomenon.

        “Can you please explain why taxation of a specific commodity is good, while subsidy is bad, when both are artificial changes imposed by force on the market?”

        You’ll have to point to where you think I said such a thing. Not that any Pigouvian would have difficult explaining it to you, but I’m curious where you believe I have said it. Nonetheless, to save time, I’m going to defend what I actually said rather than what you misread, until we can sort out if you have poor reading comprehension, or if I don’t understand what I intend to say.

        Artificial changes due government coercive power exercised on the Fair Market to favor a single industry or private party are always in some sense anti-democratic (in that they influence the individual decision-making of buyers and sellers); a narrower case where the change harms a single industry or private group is less anti-democratic but still interference. Politics, not Economics decides when to support such uneconomical actions. I can make the case in the broad argument that you don’t get cheap energy from cheap fossil economic policies as something that always mathematically is true, so no Political decision giving special favor to fossil can be justified (see above). I can’t make the equivalent case for the narrower instance of harm to a single industry. Some snakes need to be crushed under some heels, unless you’d argue for unfettered crystal meth and crack cocaine markets.

        But what I propose imposes zero interference by government on any Fair Market, because what we have now is not a Fair Market. A Fair Market is a level playing field, a system balanced to reduce unintended consequences on scarcity of resources. Capitalism is all about the efficient allocation of scarce resources. Up to the time Arrhenius demonstrated the scarcity of the carbon cycle by proving the GHE (suck it up, he did and that Science has been settled since that time), there was no reason to consider or treat CO2-level related issues in air as a matter of scarcity, and even for a considerable span of time later it wasn’t administratively feasible to treat these issues with the standard Fair Market mechanism of privatization.

        Well, those times are long past.

        The carbon cycle exhibits scarcity in the rise of CO2 levels. We don’t even have to add ‘due human activity’ to that observation for this to be true. Pouring gasoline on a fire does not douse it.

        The carbon cycle exhibits rivalry in the lapse rate of CO2, in that once a CO2 rise has been caused by one party, that same CO2 level will not naturally and independently be available to another party to consume in the course of the same Market period.

        We see from how British Columbia did it that it is administratively feasible (indeed, not just no cost, but net savings) to exclude lucrative access to CO2E emission by imposing a fee at the retail level using the retail tax system, even though this fee itself is not a tax in the conventional sense.

        What makes a charge on a good a tax?

        That the money goes to the revenues of the government and not to the owners of the good. Well, using the income tax system to disburse every penny of CO2E fee collected back to the owners of the air — every citizen who is contributing to the economy by working — per capita makes this activity not a tax, but a standard. Government enforcement of fair standards and practices in the Market is its right and proper role: it does this when it prints cash; it does this when it sets weights and measures; no more or less it does this when it collects payment due to private owners and distributes those payments back to the owners.

        In BC, because this activity reduces tax churn and is built on top of the necessary evil of the pre-existing retail and income tax systems, the government and people see net savings. And if everyone making buying decisions wanted, they could continue to spend all that money for exactly the same buying decisions they would have without this revenue neutral fee: it makes energy no more expensive on the whole, if that’s what democratic decision the consumers want.

        What we see from BC, even at only about 10% or less of what the law of Supply and Demand would deem the right price for this carbon cycle user fee, is an otherwise unexplained 15% shift away from fossil fuels accompanied by a vigorous and well-performing economy; for its relative size (comparable to South Carolina), the strongest economy in the world by most objective measures.

        So is ‘cheap energy’ better for the economy? In a fair capitalist market, we clearly see that the economy itself says it is not worth the artificially low price of failing to privatize the carbon cycle.

        “Can you please explain why, since you appear to be pointing out the costs of fossil fuel use, I cannot point out the benefits?”

        You can point out all the real benefits you like; however, you haven’t actually done that. You’ve asserted benefits you claim are related to measures by governments that favor the fossil industry against the interests of the rest of the economy. Unsought benefits are never counted: unsought procreation is only a benefit to the attacker. I’ve demonstrated that when the Market has the fair choice, it chooses by over 15% to not accept the ‘benefit’ of this ‘cheap energy’ and performs better; in short, you’re wrong when you say there is any benefit.

      • “The “benefits of cheap fossil energy” phrase represents an entire well-developed and well-studied school of thought in the subject of welfare economics. ”

        Actually, I was pointing out that there ARE benefits in cheap energy, and fossil based energy, when it is not artificially inflated in cost, has certainly been cheap. Like me, you have benefited from that state of affairs and Big Oil, as you like to call it, has certainly made money in the process. Would you agree?

        If you agree, then you should consider these benefits as an offset to the costs you are claiming. Whether it is subsidised or taxed is hardly the point. You are claiming you have been harmed by the use of fossil fuels – whether you been or not, there is also the consideration that you have gained an advantage from that use too. Yet you choose to ignore that. Says sometiing about your attitude, I would think.

      • Neil Fisher | October 20, 2012 at 7:48 am |

        Clearly, despite your claims of benefits, they just aren’t there.

        Otherwise, when the bias in the Market that leads to excess CO2E emission is reduced, we wouldn’t see people switching from ‘cheap’ energy: their buying decisions would remain the same (as they have the same net money to spend).

        You’re mistaking ‘cheap’ energy with ‘an efficient economy that delivers goods at the lowest cost’. Your energy is not so cheap as you claim, and the benefits are only endorsed as benefits when they are the benefits people would freely choose for themselves in a fair market.

        We don’t know whether what you claim are benefits of ‘cheap’ fossil fuels can really be attributed to their low cost or not, as we can’t go back and check on every case as its price impacts work their way through the economy, nor can we speculate about foregone benefits, or whether the benefits are due to the artificially reduced price of burning carbon or whether people would enjoy them (or even greater benefits) in a fair market, except by examining by Capitalist analysis.

        We can estimate these things by privatizing the carbon cycle using the Law of Supply and Demand to fix the price. Once we do, we can see how many people will still burn carbon when paying the fair market price to do so. We can at that time know what was and was not a benefit of ‘cheap’ fossil fuels by seeing what benefits people choose freely to give up and what benefits they choose freely to replace them with in an economy with the same net budget (as the government doesn’t take a penny of the fees and the buyers get all the dividends).

        Once we do have that information, we could for example determine fairly the actual damages of failing to privatize earlier accruing to those Free Riders whose sales are contingent on getting free access to a dwindling resource. This would address the issue of actual costs in tort action. More to the point, everyone would be able to choose what purchases they want to benefit from informed by a true price signal, instead of deceived by a false price resulting from failure of government to enforce Capitalist standards.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Consumers very quickly got used to the GST and there is broad acceptance that the GST was a worthwhile and valuable reform. It is unlikely something similar will happen this time around. The GST is a tax designed to raise revenue. The carbon tax is designed to change behaviour: revenue is a secondary and, if the policy is successful, a temporary consideration.

        Yet most of the discussion has revolved around how to spend the revenue.

        The policy objective is to cause a substitution from low-cost but dirty energy production to higher-cost but cleaner energy production. In plain language the policy objective should lead to a permanent increase in household prices and fewer carbon emissions. But if successful, the revenue will decline, meaning there will be no money to pay compensation. There just isn’t enough money to finance this scheme.

        The government is planning to allocate revenue from a windfall gain to permanent spending. This is a recipe for structural deficits and fiscal irresponsibility. In the short run this policy isn’t revenue neutral and in the long run it isn’t budget neutral either.’

        The tax in Australia and BC is nothing but window dressing intended only gain support of green-socialists. It is the most worthless piece of social engineering ever envisaged. Higher energy costs with no tax revenue is a engineering for social and economic disaster. But I have no doubt it will remain simply pointless. As for developing economies it is not impractical to suggest taxing their energy supplies – but profoundly immoral.

        It is moreover based on a false assumption – that intervention in energy markets is the only approach. This is carbon – there are many points where intervention can be effective. This makes the carbon cycle non-rivalrous in the jargon. It isn’t and is likely to be the least effective mode of intervention – unless there are competitive alternatives. No one objects to competitive alternatives. The US Dept of Energy recognises that there are cheaper and more effective approches.

        ‘We stand by the following facts:
        ■The terrestrial biosphere currently sequesters 2 billion metric tons of carbon annually. (US Department of Agriculture)
        ■Soils contain 82% of terrestrial carbon.
        ■”Enhancing the natural processes that remove CO2 from the atmosphere is thought to be the most cost-effective means of reducing atmospheric levels of CO2.” (US Department of Energy)
        ■”Soil organic carbon is the largest reservoir in interaction with the atmosphere.” (United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation) – Vegetation 650 gigatons, atmosphere 750 gigatons, soil 1500 gigatons
        ■The carbon sink capacity of the world’s agricultural and degraded soils is 50% to 66% of the historic carbon loss of 42 to 78 gigatons of carbon.
        ■Grazing land comprises more than half the total land surface
        ■An acre of pasture can sequester more carbon than an acre of forest.
        ■“Soil represents the largest carbon sink over which we have control.

        Improvements in soil carbon levels could be made in all rural areas, whereas the regions suited to carbon sequestration in plantation timber are limited.” (Dr Christine Jones)

        There are many other approaches far more likely to be successful and much less likely to be economiclly disruptive –

        Le Pétomane pretends that I am tedious and tendentious – only because I disagree with his insanely obsessive argument repeated here ad nauseum and to much disdain. It is the same argument over and over again as if he thinks to gain some final solution to his psychic maliase in the blogosphere. It can’t really be – but should we let this argument stand by force of repetition? I have an idea that was how Lenin gained power – no sane person could bother continuing to argue with him. I will leave that as an open question – how do you deal with madmen on the internet.

      • “Clearly, despite your claims of benefits, they just aren’t there.”

        Are you serious?

        In any case, what you appear to be prposing is that we cap and trade co2, and that until we do, we cannot know what benefits un-capped co2 emissions have.

        Gee Bart, I’m not sure what benefit your head provides, mind if I chop it off so we can find out? After all, it’s not like you are using it for anything much that is important to the rest of the world…

    • Your petition for redress has numerous problems, which become evident when one stops to consider how your claim would fare if you actually tried to assert it in court. In order to prevail on a tort claim, one must show the following:
      (1) You were harmed;
      (2) Defedant’s actions caused that harm;
      (3) Defendant’s actions were negligent (unreasonably dangerous); and
      (4) Defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of that harm.

      (I use the formulation that leaves out “duty.”) If you were to try to press your suit, the only one you’d have a chance of proving would be negligence, and that one only if we assume that ever skeptical argument in the universe is objectively “unreasonable.”

      The harm you’re worried about hasn’t even happened yet. Ok, so let’s pretend we wait 20 years and the you file. Of course, now we’re forced to argue about what the world looks like in 20 years. And that argument immediately reveals why the law insists that the harm has already occurred before it contemplates compensating you. Until it has happened, we can only speculate. In short, you cannot prove that the actions you complained of caused your harm.

      Of course, we all understand this instinctively. If burning carbon fuels could be shown to cause harm by a standand that would satisfy our existing laws, we wouldn’t need a legion of new laws to head off that harm with prospective regulation. The very reason we have such intense political debate in this area is because global warming alarmists are working to shift the centuries-old burden of proof from the plaintiff to the defendant.

      • qb, it’s easiest to remember the 4 Ds of Liability: Duty, Dereliction, Damages, and Direct Cause from Dereliction to Damages.

      • qbeamus | October 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm |

        Are you a lawyer? What was your date of call to the bar?

        In the form of “petition for redress,” were one all legal-minded and litigious, one would discover other, actual problems than the ones you cite that precedent and fact easily have already overcome, if one were aware of the state of the law in these things.

        Your intuitions are both right, and wrong. Until very recently, courts treated harms from climate change to be no different from any other tort; our existing laws sufficed. In the USA, due recent court rulings, government lawyers are seeking to clarify that oil companies and their actions are no different from tobacco companies and their harms.

        “..if we assume that ever [sic] skeptical argument in the universe is objectively “unreasonable.”

        Heh. We don’t have to assume that. Isaac Newton proved it 300 years ago.

    • David Springer

      Bart R | October 18, 2012 at 10:56 am | Reply

      “That means climate change due someone’s decision to burn carbon is already costing me money without my consent or compensation.”

      Are you old enough to vote? It seems unlikely given the naivety you put on parade.

    • lurker, passing through laughing

      Bart R,
      Chinese investors- in a minority position, much less- are only ‘extending chinese control of American oil’ in the minds of mathematically iliterate kooks.
      As to your money owed from the burning of carbon, show us the cost, you blithering idiot.
      You have repeated this drool for over a year here and have never shown one fuc**ing dollar of cost because you cannot.
      You climate obsessed kooks repeat your talking points with as much thought as a parrot repating ‘polywannacracker’.

      • lurker, passing through laughing | October 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm |

        And how much controlling interest do you think US citizens have in TransCanada Pipeline, perhaps the most uniquely important single corporation to US energy security interests, according to politicians?

        Most of it is owned by either the government of China or by Russian companies owned by .. you guessed it.. a Chinese government minority plus companies from a third region owned by Chinese companies.

        I suppose someone ‘iliterate’ in these things might find that kooky.

        As for the rest of your comment, you pick up your food with those fingers? You should worry about the E. coli transmission route. (

      • lurker, passing through laughing

        Bart R,
        Do you think that if the Chinese get mad they will shut it down, or move it to China?It is completely meaningless that a publicly held company, like Trans Canada, has a large foreign shareholder. It is mere filbustering on your part. How about that chinese companies manufacture most solar panels, now that Obama’s ‘green invetments’ have gone belly up?
        As usual you are reduced to picking out typos to distract fromyour completely empty argument.
        As for the e.coli, your posts are one of the larger point sources of e.coli on this blog.
        You cannot specify the damages of carbon, you ignore the benefits, you have no idea about how trans canada works, and can only offer spelling advice and detours into the trivia of bacteria.
        Good luck with that.

      • The Canadian solution:

    • John Carpenter

      Bart, perhaps an equitable trade could be made, Exxon and King Coal could reimburse you your money if you can return to Exxon and King Coal all the benefits you have enjoyed (and currently enjoy) in modern society powered by the the energy generated from their products.

      It’s not all about you Bart… your equally part of the problem by shear default of being an active member of modern society. (Yes, that is a facetious remark)

      I agree with you, we want a ‘future-focus on the most effective and efficient new ways of replacing tired old polluting technologies clean, lean, better-paying advances’ if such an energy policy strategy can be designed and implemented. If you were energy secretary… what would your suggested plan to the president be? There’s plenty of bitching to go around, we need solutions to the problem.

      • John Carpenter | October 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm |

        Exxon and King Coal already got payed, and then some, for every benefit they ever gave anyone.

        See, that’s the asymmetry of harms and benefits: if it’s an unconsented benefit, then it just doesn’t count, except when it’s also a harm. That’s why unconsented procreation forced on someone isn’t called a benefit.

        What solutions would I suggest to the president?

        Well, I’d say, “Look, Mitt, here’s what Capitalism tells us:”

        A.) You privatize resources that are held as Commons (ie, ‘National’ resources) into private hands (that is, you ‘de-nationalize’) when you meet three conditions:
        1. Administratively practical excludability. (This requirement suffices for all political philosophies that subscribe to minimizing government.)
        2. Rivalrous. (If someone uses it up, someone else can’t use the same portion again for a long time; not naturally renewing in a short period.)
        3. Scarcity. (If the CO2E level keeps going up, we know the Carbon Cycle’s capacity to refresh the atmosphere is exceeded; it’s too scarce for current use levels.)

        B.) Air is an inalienable right; you cannot remove full rights to it from a human being, therefore no one has ever surrendered their ownership rights at an individual level, nor can they. Once privatized, air is equally privatized to every citizen. So the solutions used for radio bandwidth of auctioning rights (for) may be unconstitutional, as is failing to privatize.

        C.) The price of CO2E ought be set by the Law of Supply and Demand. Whatever price level results in maximum revenue under the formula price*volume is the democratically determined Market price; no committee ought interfere and set either a ceiling or floor or otherwise meddle in the Market.

        The obvious policy solution: draft the tax system to reduce the burden on US citizens caused by the uncompesated confiscation of their carbon cycle by Free Riders to act like a ‘landlord’ for air. Every retail transaction where a consumer buys carbon that will end up as CO2E will collect a fee set by the Law of Supply and Demand; every paycheck will immediately and fully disburse collected private revenues of CO2E rent to the owners of the air — every working citizen per capita, to the level set by the Law of Supply and Demand.

        As for leadership? For one thing, I’d ban David Wojick and every other agent advocating for old line industries against innovation and improvement from any contact with lawmakers or bureaucrats. Let those industries that do innovate — and do it without government subsidy — toward efficient, effective, durable solutions be the only ones with the right to lobby government or donate to political campaigns. You want to give fair voice to the enemies of US leadership? Let them tell us where our money is.

      • John Carpenter

        Well, that is consistent with what you have said before. I would look at this as a potential bridge plan to CO2 free energy production sources as most of it appears to be relevant to fossil fuel usage. As I infer and agree with at the end, innovation of new energy production methods need to become more attractive (though your suggested means may not be constitutional). Not an easy nut to crack, but as an immediate alternative, nuclear needs to be revived. If CO2 is really a big problem for the climate, then increasing the use of scalable existing CO2 free technology has to be a big part of the plan and ultimately the end goal of the plan.

    • Bart

      You may win the award (if there was one) for taking the most words to write the most silly nonsense unworthy of practical consideration.

      • Rob Starkey | October 20, 2012 at 11:00 am |

        Thank you again for your valuable contribution to the ideas we discuss here.

      • When you write that you want to be compensated for the CO2 emitted throughout history what do you expect?

      • Rob Starkey | October 20, 2012 at 11:09 am |

        The day I write that, I’ll expect others to claim I’m asking for the law of gravity to be revoked.

        Argue against what I actually write, if you like. Making stuff up, I know may be your natural mode, but it’s still not going to get you anywhere with me.

  6. To put this in context, we have only been allowed to use the ‘U’ word (uncertainty) for the last few years – probably goes back to Climategate. Prior to that ‘the science was settled’ and we only had 25 minutes to save the world.

    So, Judith, if you and your colleagues in the world of climatology had acted like scientists from day one I would suggest there would be a lot less uncertainty about climate now. The fact that the IPCC has set out to prove CO2 guilty as charged has set back climate science by decades.

    It is indeed deeply saddening to see Phil Jones admit in October 2012 that the scientific community doesn’t really understand natural variability! Anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together would start by understanding the null – what is natural variability? Until we know what the base line is we have no earthly chance of understanding movements away from the base line.

    The politicisation of climate science is an absolute disgrace.

    So 30 years on and billions of dollars later the only thing we know for sure is there is a lot of uncertainty. For shame climate science.

    Another few years of no surface warming and this shambles will be over. Pity that we have to rely on nature to solve a non-problem. Mankind can surely do so much better.

    • “It is indeed deeply saddening to see Phil Jones admit in October 2012 that the scientific community doesn’t really understand natural variability!”

      That may be saddening, but for them to not understand natural variability means they don’t understand the basic physics of the global oceans. Think about that.

      • Cap’n

        It is not only

        “deeply saddening to see Phil Jones admit in October 2012 that the scientific community doesn’t really understand natural variability!”

        It also blows a hole into the IPCC AR4 cornerstone claim that

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

        Which forms the basis for the IPCC claim of high climate sensitivity (mean value of 3.2C), resulting in significant global warming (up to 6.4C warming by 2100), “extreme high sea levels”, increased “heat waves”, increased “heavy rains” and floods, increased “droughts”, increased “intense tropical cyclones” – which, in turn, lead to crop failures, disappearance of glaciers now supplying drinking water to millions, increased vector borne diseases, etc. (for short, potentially catastrophic AGW – or “CAGW”).

        If “the scientific community doesn’t really understand natural variability”, they are not really able to understand what has caused past climate change or to attribute it to AGW.

        Toss AR4 into the trash can and start from scratch.


      • Max,that has been blown. The models are useful because they are wrong, like all good models, but the modelers are idiots for not figuring out why. Actually, that is a bit harsh, the “leadership” is the idiot, not the modelers.

        That is a basic kernel for a moist air model that would blow the doors off the AOGCMs. Just like all good models, it would be wrong, but consistently wrong, which is the value of a model.

      • A simple remedy would be to simply eliminate the 50 or so authors responsible for the final writing of AR4, and the AR5 to be, and the dozen or so who wrote the Summary for Policymakers. There is too much talent in climate science to just throw it away and start from scratch, though, in messes this big, scratch is default, I’m sorry to report.

      • Max, I should add that “leadership experience” for a bunch of academics should include cat herding skills.

      • I understand that cats readily subscribe to conspiracy theories. You can tell the cat by whether it suspects dogs or mice.

      • Kim, “There is too much talent in climate science to just throw it away and start from scratch, though, in messes this big, scratch is default, I’m sorry to report.”

        That is what a good project manager has to consider, who and what to keep and whether firing or lateral promotion are the best options.

      • I nominate, oooh, will it be the King of the Dogs or the Queen of the Mice? For project manager. Judy can liveblog the executive sessions.

    • From Dolphinlegs: ‘Pity that we have to rely on nature to solve a non-problem. Mankind can surely do so much better’.

      This is a key insight which I’ve pondered at length. Suppose Nature had not taken it in to her will go her own way? How much further and deeper into this unpromising pathway would we have stumbled?

      Yes, man will solve this ‘non-problem’ in one of our traditional ways for doing so, ironically, often with Nature as a guide. Where do you think the trust that leads to deep religious conviction comes from?

      So let us choose wisely among our traditional ways of solving ‘non-problems’, and be grateful that this ‘non-problem’ isn’t worse.

      • Without wishing to claim a greater length of ponder, me too. This chaotic system could have gone anywhere. The persistence of the plateau is an incredible gift to seven billion, as if they were loved and cared for, as their elites were in grave danger of losing their marbles.

      • It is very easy for those of us who live in centrally heated luxury with all mods cons to look at the world through the distorted lens of privilege and to forget that the vast majority of human beings that have ever uttered a breath have lived short brutal wretched lives and there are far too many on the planet today whose prospects are little better. Life is random. Bit like the weather.

      • Half the world still works at physical labor from dawn to dusk for barely enough to get by.

      • David Springer

        You distort the lives of billions of people. I’ve had the great fortune to live in both poverty and wealth and it is difficult to say where more happiness is to be found.

        The suicide rate in any society is probably the most sincere metric on which to guage the happiness of the population. The U.S. is one of the wealthiest nations in the world yet its suicide rate is average among developed countries and higher than in developing countries.

        In the US the suicide rate is the higher among whites than any other racial group. Why? Whites are the privileged members aren’t they? Does privilege bring unhappiness with it? Apparently so.

        Above is a study of suicide rates among groups distinguished by all sorts of metrics. Before one starts talking about who’s happy and who isn’t one should familiarize oneself with the facts on the ground.

      • Interesting thought, there, David. I’ve conceived of this social death wish known as CAGW developed as a precious conceit of the Western elite to be a response to guilt imposed by those seeking power(money, fame etc.), but maybe it was just unhappiness so unbearable it seeks self-destruction. Curious.

        Now that there is a question almost as intractable as climate.

      • David Springer

        Correction. Native Americans have a slightly higher suicide rate than non-hispanic whites.

        Rate per 100,000 population:

        non-hispanic white – 16
        non-hispanic black – 6
        hispanic – 7
        native american – 17
        asian – 6

        WTF is up with that?

  7. “Michael Levi: How can we cope with deep climate uncertainty?“

    To offer a reasonable definition for weather and climate in the first place!! What WMO, IPCC AMS and UNFCCC are saying in this respect is in no way helpful, as discussed at:
    At least IPCC would have had much tougher times if World Bank would have scrutinised their work. On the other hand if the World Bank is unable to detect the nonsense definition of the UNFCCC (Convention) on CLIMATE, one should not have expected too much.

  8. “What do you think climate science and policy would look like if the IPCC worked for the World Bank, instead of the UNFCCC? ”

    This is an irrelevant question. There would be no IPCC or IPCC process. There would be a few World Bank staff members writing a white paper just as shown here.

    • Hint: There’s a need for imagination in answering. Counterfactuals the historians call ’em.

      • Hint: I’m suggesting that the IPCC is a unique construct and would not fit under very many organizations. The question ought to be how would the World Bank assess the climate change question. They wouldn’t be using an IPCC in the first place so questions on how they might run the IPCC are irrelevant.

  9. The World Bank wonders what burst the bubble. Heh, same ol’ bubble bursting forces. Nothing new under this here sun.

  10. There essentially has been no global warming in North America since the 1940s, the oceans have been cooling for years–the elderly could be reduced to burning books in the UK to stay warm this winter for all we know–and, some scientists believe the current period of global cooling may last 20-30 years. The Earth may be headed into the next ice age for all we know and why not–it’s overdue! Moreover, if and when it comes there’s nothing humans can do about it. Nominally, It’s the sun, stupid.

    Claims now proven false include;
    • an increase in CO2 precedes a temperature increase;
    • current atmospheric levels of CO2 are the highest on record;
    • and pre-industrial levels of CO2 were approximately 100 parts ppm lower than the present 385 ppm.

    The last claim is basic to the argument that humans are causing warming and climate change by increasing the levels of atmospheric CO2.

    ~Dr. Tim Ball

  11. “Coping with Deep Climate Uncertainty”

    Smart bet: Work on decreasing “uncertainties” and get ready to be able to adapt to any kind of local and regional climate challenge Nature throws at us (including early warning of extreme weather events), if and when this challenge appears imminent.

    Dumb bet: Wreck the economy, chasing after an imaginary hobgoblin with extremely costly top-down “mitigation” schemes, which will not change our future climate one iota (and which a major number of nations will not support in the first place).



    • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

      Decrease what uncertainties? The climate changes and always has. That’s the only thing that is certain, right? Let’s just go ahead and do whatever we want to, so long as it doesn’t “wreck” the economy. The economy, not ecology or sustainable anything, is what is important, right?

      • @not That Skeptical
        The current warm period (CWP) we are enjoying is no warmer than the MWP or the Roman WP. See here and here

      • Agree, but I’d like it to be a bit warmer still. Warmer=Great Economic Opportunity. I’d like the Arctic ocean to be ice free year round so I can:

        1) Get a nice home built near where the MacKenzie river joins the Arctic ocean
        2) Be able to take a relaxing cruise through the NW and NE Passages
        3) Make sure there’s no ice to interfere with my oil drilling operations in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
        4) Plan for some franchising opportunities in Pt. Barrow (Comfort Inn? McDonalds?)

      • R Gates

        You are being somewhat self righteous this evening. This is my reply to your earlier dose of irony. How about we swap our fuel bills for a year so you can have a dose of reality?

      • Gates

        If better regional climate models can be developed that can accurately forecast weather conditions at local/regional levels then governments could implement plans for the construction of infrastructure appropriate for future conditions. Uncertainty over future conditions leads to inefficienty in planning

  12. Rather than think of a union of the World Bank and IPCC now or at inception of the IPCC I’d go back to 1998, when Professor Paul Collier took a five year Public Service leave from Oxford to be Director of the Research Development Department at the Bank. Paul’s passion, creativity and concern for rigorous econometric data and analysis about what he came to call the ‘bottom billion’ would have been a great help in developing ‘no regrets’ climate policies – where the regrets that matter the most are of those so often unable to voice them.

    A warning: Soros and Stern are big fans of Collier. That shouldn’t in my view deter any of us. It would have been a very different story if he’d been influential in all this, bringing in African thinkers he mentored such as Dambisa Moyo.

  13. There are a myriad of threats facing the global community: some go Kaboom in 1/10 of a second, others see 80% of wealth wiped out in weeks, or take a pandemic spreading over months. These are indeed events with “deep uncertainty”, but more importantly they 1. occur over a short time scale, and 2. are very difficult to do anything about once they start.

    AGW does not possess these properties in the present or even for decades into the future. (point).2C over a decade has very little damage attached to it. If it occurs as predicted, then we have to start making big investments and hopefully by that time BRIC is onboard. But if temp remains outside the 95% CI of even mild AGW, we save trillions by not jumping the gun.

    Finally onto point #2 from above, not only can one adapt to a change similar to 1920’s->1930’s natural change over a ten year time span, we can also succesfully hold down temperatures with aerosols (if you’re skeptical of this, you can’t blame the current flat line on China’s coal then, because we can surely do aerosols better when they are a deliberate end, rather than as an unintended by-product.)

    Under deep uncertainty in predictive models, we should ask: What’s the worst that can happen *Before* we have time to react.

    Closing rant: when Gore shows NYC/FL underwater (implictly 300+ yrs in the future, right?) does that mean he really believes 10 generations will be live and die doing nothing? Salesmen are taught to “Always Be Closing” – to force a decision immediately otherwise “the great deal you’re getting” (the Planet in this case) goes away. If there’s one thing that should be changed in Climate Communications, it is that phony premise – the “we’re already past the tipping point”.

    • Heinrich the Norwegian Elkhound

      Under deep uncertainty in predictive models, we should ask: What’s the worst that can happen *Before* we have time to react.

      There’s the rub.

      How can you possibly know “What’s the worst that can happen” under deep uncertainty?

      Maybe this?
      or this?

      Place your bets on behalf of your children…

      • The [(heat content of water x depth of the ocean or mixing layer) + energy required to melt/freeze ice] give Earth stability over short ranges of time. Even under deep uncertainty, these give us physical plausibility CI’s, quite wide but not disastrous or reversible – remember, feedback must work through deltaT, which we can control if need be through solar dimming.

        Further, the Holocene itself was a degree warmer, and previous interglacial higher still – empiricial evidence would clearly suggest we are far from even a hypothetical tipping point.

        If you want to get into rampant speculation though, sure the Clathrate gun could fire upon my children. Maybe cosmic rays are the key to cloud properties, and we’re about to go through a rare part of the galaxy that will alter them beyond recognition. MAYBE.

        Maybe someone will discover cold fusion and the stock market will gain 100000000 points tommorrow. Place bets on behalf of your children.

      • Steven Mosher

        Thats an easy bet.
        given. the threat you are concerned about will happen.
        given. the chance of global action is remote.
        given. the probability of adequate compliance is also low.
        decision. look for solutions that will make my children more robust to the changr that cannot be stopped.

        there was atime we could afford the easy dream of global mitigation.
        you have convinced me that my children are best served by adaptation.

      • What makes you think that the two approaches are mutually exclusive, or that either one without the other will be effective, let alone maximally effective?

        And maybe your children will be best served by adaptation – but what about children growing up in the 3rd world? Do you have some realistic way of explaining how adaptation won’t primarily serve those who are actually contributing most to the problem – while leaving others to suffer the most significant consequences? How will adaptation (only) be global in reach? Do you see some realistic funding mechanisms to help 3rd world countries adapt?

      • Mitigation is no doubt difficult, but it’s amazing to see the magical thinking that suddenly materialises when ‘adaptation’ is the preferred strategy.

      • Oh, yes, adaptation will require magical, creative, thinking, as it always has.

      • Which is why we already have so much mal-adaptation and under-adaptation.

        Yet, somehow, increasing the pressure will fix all this.

      • And yet, we learn.

      • The obvious lesson is – we haven’ – or we wouldn’t have these problems already.

      • Sufficient unto the day are the problems therein.

      • Exactly why tomorrow deosn’t need us to pass on todays problems.

        Adaptation is passing the intergenerational buck…..not to mention transferring the costs of CO2 pollution from the emitters to the sufferers.

      • Stuff and nonsense, insufficient to this day.

      • Steve writes–
        “there was atime we could afford the easy dream of global mitigation.”

        LOL- When was that time and who is the “we” that could easily afford to pay?

      • who is the “we”


        That would be
        The Royal ‘We’
        King Mosher’s Decree
        Don’t you see? ;)


      • lurker, passing through laughing

        Adaptation was always the only option. Mitigation is poor science fiction.

    • “AGW does not possess these properties in the present or even for decades into the future.”
      What AGW? It doesn’t not present any properties at all because, as Mr. Rose has so ably told us, it seems to be nonexistent. In regards to what AGW properties AGW may possess in the future, we can’t even predict what next summer will be like, it is pointless to talk about “decades”.

  14. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    Sounds good.

    This analysis is based on a set of interviews with decision-makers, in particular World Bank project leaders, and on a literature review on decision-making under uncertainty.

    As described, it seems too light on the review of the many climate uncertainties and the diverse scenarios/models of the future. Since the problem is not going to go away, maybe that will be enhanced in future revisions. Say, a year after each IPCC report, the World Bank can update its review of the uncertainties and potential losses, and the time frames for action.

  15. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    The main thing to understand is that the first step is assembling stakeholders and mapping out their concerns — where they are vulnerable, what they can tolerate, what they want to avoid, what they aspire to.

    Isn’t that what all those conferences about? Who speaks for the poorest and least powerful of the “stakeholders”? There must be about 4 billion of them who to date have no representatives other than self-appointed NGOs.

    • The main thing to understand is that the first step is assembling stakeholders and mapping out their concerns — where they are vulnerable, what they can tolerate, what they want to avoid, what they aspire to.

      Change the context and you see the delusion–e.g., apply this reasoning to GM about to going under. The first step was to define who the ‘stakeholders’ were that turned out to be the autoworkers’ union–i.e., the cause of the problems. Taxpayers, shareholders, bondholders and all of the owners and employees of GM’s competitors were simply slapped down by the government.

  16. David Springer

    I will continue to view with extreme prejudice any type of risk analysis which fails to even mention the potential benefits from CO2 accumulation including but not limited to access to most economical energy sources, agriculture, and a hedge against something like the Little Ice Age recurring. Failure to acknowledge the upside so it may be risk-weighted with downside means the speaker drank the kool-aid and cannot possibly reach an objective decision based upon facts.

    Write that down, Curry. There are a lot of people like me

    • I agree David. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, in a much as there doesn’t seem to be any negatives at all, right?. And even, in the very unlikely case that anthropogenic warming brought about some massive climate change– that too would be a benefit as human ancestors benefited greatly 65 million years ago when a massive climate change ushered out the age of dinosaurs and allowed the rise of mammals. Change was good to us once…why not twice!

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        R. Gates: The benefits far outweigh the negatives, in a much as there doesn’t seem to be any negatives at all, right?

        If I may speak for David Springer and any lurkers, all he said was that “potential benefits” should be considered.

        Do you agree or disagree? Have any details or qualifications for us to think about?

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Potential benefits of AGW:

        1) More areas for cruise ships to take the retired and well to do. They can see the NW passage while dining on little crab cakes.
        2) Price of coral will skyrocket as reefs become quite rare leading to a great niche collector market.
        3) Traders in futures markets will have the chance to make fortunes as food prices gyrate wildly from increasingly unstable weather.
        4) Air conditioning companies and funeral homes will do a brisk business in the more frequent summer heat waves ahead.

        There are so many benefits to a warmer future…pity that there has been no sign of warming these past 15 years. We’ve done our part to pump more greenhouse gases…what do we have to do to get some warming going on here!? We’ve been cheated!

      • Gates, one of the big scare stories to promote CAGW in Australia is the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef if water temps rise by 2C. The fact that the same and similar corals thrive in much warmer waters to our north is ignored. The GBR has also shown a great capacity to recover after, e.g., crown starfish depredations which were regarded as dooming it. Life is persistent and adaptable.

      • “Gates, one of the big scare stories to promote CAGW in Australia is the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef if water temps rise by 2C. The fact that the same and similar corals thrive in much warmer waters to our north is ignored.”

        How does that fit in with coral bleaching events along the great barrier reef?

        Take the 1998 bleaching event, it says here that “During the bleaching period, sea temperatures were 1-2°C higher than long-term average values in the central and southern Great Barrier Reef”

        What are these “similar corals” thriving in much warmer waters to the North? How much warmer is the water? If 2C warmer, why do they not bleach but the GBR corals do?

        Note that 1-2C was due to the El Nino. If the GBR waters rises another 2C that kind of temperature will become common and such El NInos will deliver the equivalent of 3-4C warmer temperatures above the current average.

        There’s also ocean acidification to think about too.

        It’s interesting that from what I am reading mass bleaching events were unknown before 1980. Eg:

        “Prior to the 1980’s, most bleaching events were attributed to localized phenomena such as major storms, severe tidal exposures, sedimentation, rapid salinity changes, pollution, or thermal shock. Since 1980, research has shown a direct relationship between bleaching and water temperature stress. Extreme water temperatures have been implicated in the majority of the major bleaching events of the 1980s and 1990s.”

        “Large scale mass bleaching was not observed before the 1980s even in areas where the reefs had been intensively studied for many decades, but since then it has become frequent in all coral reef regions. Of all stresses which could potentially cause widespread mass bleaching, only excessively high temperature was present in all cases. However a few cases of local bleaching also took place as the result of flooding or other causes. Maps of known local and mass bleaching events are accessible on this site.”

        If all of this is true then sorry but the GBR is likely doomed in a warmer world.

      • blueice2hotsea


        “[A]mong the first photographs ever taken of bleaching” were in 1963 in Jamaica following hurricane. linky


        I just wonder if coral bleaching has been mostly correlated with warming events because over the last multiple decades there have been mostly warming events (due to positive phases of ocean cycles). Bleaching may be an adaptive response to BOTH cooling and warming events.

        Yes, transitions to new climate regimes are stressful to corals. But GBR “doomed” sounds a little over the top to me.


  17. The entire “man-caused-global-warming” circus strikes me as a monumental waste of money and a preposterous side show that has been elevated well beyond rational justification. What we should be doing is concentrating on cost effective (as in efficient) energy. Such a strategy puts money in our pockets, with the happy by-product of less emissions.

    Enough of the scientific “angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin” exercises and agonizing over “deep uncertainty”. Try using common sense.

  18. Judith – you ask “what do you think climate science and policy would look like if the IPCC worked for the World Bank…”. Well, if the WB get it right, and it looks like they might, then:
    1.- Not committing large expenditure on the dangerous assumption that the scientists have got it right.
    2.- Making full and proper allowance for the benefits of global warming as well as the drawbacks. Benefits could include greater global food production as Canada and Russia warm up, lower winter death rates, etc.
    3.- Making a full and proper assessment of the cost of predicted impacts of global warming. For example, working out the real cost of a say 2-ft sea level rise over 100 years, taking into account that the normal lifecycle of urban infrastructure etc is way less than 100 years.
    4.- Making a full and proper assessment of the effectiveness of proposed mitigation measures. For example, checking just how much atmospheric CO2 build-up can be avoided by some countries reducing CO2 emissions, and by just how much it will reduce global temperature. NB. See also 2. above in this context. Take into account the likelihood of other countries thus becoming more competitive, picking up business, and hence increasing CO2 emissions.
    5. Making a full and proper assessment of the effectiveness of adapting to predicted impacts of global warming, and comparing with 4.

    – and finally, since the application of these policies is likely to result in very little short term acion, if any –
    6. Investing in research into the sorts of technologies that are likely to be needed if some of the predicted impacts do occur, or if unpredicted impacts actually occur.

    [Forgive me, this is exactly what I posted to the Andy Revkin question that you posted a few days ago: “What do you see as the best mix of achievable policies to limit environmental and economic regrets?”.]

  19. Berényi Péter

    If uncertainties are so deep indeed, we don’t need “climate policy” of any kind. We should focus on areas instead where uncertainty is not so deep and make investments there. Like improving productivity, employment, infrastructure, education, health and yes, the environment (if it means eliminating poisons, that is, stuff proven to be toxic to humans in its current environmental concentration). That is, on generating wealth, in the traditional sense.

    A healthy, wealthy, educated and hardworking population can face any challenges that may or may not creep out of the depths of uncertainty.

    • Absolutely right. However, in my arrogant opinion, decarbonization should also be a common goal.

      Due to the deep climate catastrophe uncertainty, decarb of energy should not be forced through coercive taxation or rigged trading schemes because the technology is not mature enough to effectively accomplish it. I do believe in tax write-offs for long-term infrastructure-scale capital investment in energy efficiency, real industrial CO2 reductions and low carbon energy source construction (i.e. corporate welfare).

      • Due to the uncertainty of deep climate catastrophe, decarbonization has been cancelled due to disastrous economic destruction caused by runaway government spending. Please make a note of it.

  20. How do we cope with the man-made energy crisis, especially with the global cooling?

  21. No one should lose sight of the simple and irrefutable reality that makes sense of everything–i.e., Nothing Changed: Climate Still Changes

    Global warming?

    The More It Changes the More It Stays the Same

  22. Plus 0ne, Dolphinlegs @ 18/10 10.59am:
    ‘The fact that the IPCC has set out to prove CO2 guilty as charged has set back science by decades.’

    .As you say,..’pity we have to rely on nature’ and not climate scientists, to solve what increasingly appears to be a non- problem.

  23. Dr Christy’s report to the US Senate shows that none of the climate models were able to predict the present ‘pause’. Only the satellite measurements of global temperatures showed a levelling off after 2000. So regrettably scrap all the existing models, but step-up research on their separate processes. Start the modelling activities again, but start from 1900, not 1960. Make sure that the strange climate changes in 1940 are correctly replicated by the models. If we do all that and run one of the models on the world’s most powerful computer, we may have a model on which we have confidence.

    Yes, I know about the Hadley/Oxford experiments with ‘grid’ computing because I was a participant, but pulled out when I found out that they made no attempt to model the Nino processes. It was wasting electricity having models running through the night when everyone in Australia knew how important the Nino was to our climate. Also I doubted whether the computer experts were clever enough to correctly phase computer outputs from around the world.

    • That is not surprising because GCMs cannot even ‘predict’ the past.

      • Equally as relevant Wagathong, a hammer can’t even be a screwdriver! Stupid hammer!

      • Is it your hammer or the person using it that is stupid?

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Indeed, those using hammers the wrong way, or trying to use a hammer as screwdriver are the stupid ones, just as those complaining that the climate models can’t predict the past or complain because the modesl can’t forecast natural variability and are therefore useless are the stupid ones. Tell me how a climate model should include or predict a large volcanic eruption (which can be a huge factor in natural variability) and I’ll tell you how to use a hammer as a screwdriver.

      • Thank you Gates and Wagathon for your comments on mine. Both natural and man made processes when microscopically exanined are bedevilled by noise. Noise by definition is random i.e. unpredictable, although we may be able to determine its probability distribution provided it is reasonably stationary which it usually is. All that means is that autocorrelation on noise will just show – noise, not sinusoids. It always amazes me how expert we get at tracing signals in noise. A good radio, computer or TV technician can do it, although it is cheaper to throw away a complete circuit board today. We are in-built Fourier transformers. Tracing climate through the years is a bit like tracing signals in a circuit board, but there are traps, heat does not travel at the speed of light through conductors, and transport delays, a feature of oceans, are rarely important in analogue electronics, but probably are in digital.

        If you are successsful in tracing a climate signal through noise, and you can record it, you can filter the signal to remove most of the noise, being careful to recognise the difference between transport delays and inertial delays which of course have different signals. This way you can arrive at what I call a ‘conceptual’ model which is a good starting point for the structure of a mathematical model (see my website above). Well, you brought this on yourself with your hammer and screwdriver analogues.

      • Sure, sure… we’ve go one braniac that doesn’t understand that backcasting ability is a check for validity–which GCMs fail grandly–and a mad scientist who hasn’t heard the chalkboard squeak hear ‘rond the word yet: statisticians McShane and Wyner have shown there is absolutely no signal in Mann’s noise.

      • Go fish.

  24. The uncertainties in the financial market are not caused by ‘climate change’ uncertainty; they are caused by political uncertainty: “Using the excuse of saving the planet from climate change, what insane policy, regulation, or law are these megalomaniacal politicians going to inflict upon us this time?”

    In reading the post, it was immediately obvious that the writers continue to treat “Anthropogenic CO2 is causing the ‘Temperature of the Earth’ to rise rapidly at an increasing rate. The consequences of this temperature rise will be catastrophic ( lists nearly 900 consequences of ‘climate change’, all negative.) unless ameliorated by ceding to government the power to control all human activity that affects the release of CO2 into the atmosphere.” as axiomatic.

    It isn’t.

  25. Regarding top down authority, I read last night, Willards comment on Socrates, Pause 1 16/10 8.53am and reference to Socrates’ arguments.

    Bertand Russell, in his ‘ Wisdom of the West’, pp 46,7 makes the distinction between the rhetorical arguments of the Sophists who
    believed that since knowledge could not be had it was unimportant,
    what mattered was useful opinion, and Socrates, not a sophist,
    opposing view that what mattered was the quest for truth and the examined life.

    When Willard refers to ‘what Socrates ‘said’ in Plato’s Republic and
    other writings, we need to remember that Socrates didn’t write things
    down. Socrates went out into the agora, teaching a critical skepticism
    of the status of beliefs, criticizing established authority for dishonest
    action and concern for power. He is said to have even argued with slaves, since everyone, regardless of station, is capable of learning.
    Charged with corrupting the young, Socrates chose to die in support
    of his committment to individual freedom of thought and the right of the individual to disagree with the State.

    As Popper argues in ‘The Open Society And Its Enemies,’ Plato uses Socrates ias his mouthpiece in The Rebublic, implicating Socrates in
    his grandiose attempt to construct the arrested society, based on Sparta.

    Rereading ‘Socrates’ arguments on Justice in The Republic’ with its rhetorical twists and turns, through a weak nature argument, * Plato
    has Socrates conclude that justice is. not as in Pericles Oration, (Thucydides,) ‘equal justice to all alike.’ instead:

    ‘ Where there are three orders, then, any plurality of functions or shifting from one order to the another is not merely harmful to the community but one might call it the extreme of wrongdoing. And you
    will agree that to do the greatest of wrongs to ones own community
    is injustice.’

    Plato is saying that since all men are not equal, normative demands cannot be made from their biological or natural equality and it would be harmful to the State to dispense equal justice for all. Anathema.

    *1V 427.The Virtues inthe State


    • Hesse’s Joe the amazing “Glass Bead Gamer” couldn’t do his own plumbing and misjudged his swiming ability which was the death of him and Socrates was sentenced to death for admitting there was much he did not know and while criticizing those who pretended to know more than they actually knew.

  26. The Roberts summary and presumeably the WB report does not say how one gets from the decision matrix to a policy decision. The matrix will include people worried about the end of humanity and/versus people worried about funding a scare. I do not see a decision method here, just a catalog of possible risks based on opposing views which are already well known. There is no robust path which embraces contradictory views.

  27. At first glance, the WB paper is excellent, I’ll comment further after reading and digesting it. The intro makes a point that I have hammered on CE: “Past evidence suggests indeed that our ability to predict the future is rather limited and that these limitations need to be taken into account in the way decisions are made.” It goes on to assess alternative methods for dealing with this.

    Another point stressed in the paper, and by many CEtizens, is that: “One important recommendation, however, is always to complement model results with expert knowledge.”

    • Faustino,

      The intro makes a point that I have hammered on CE: “Past evidence suggests indeed that our ability to predict the future is rather limited and that these limitations need to be taken into account in the way decisions are made.”

      Yes. You have been making that point, and doing so very well. It is important and needs to be repeated often.

  28. It is not really easy to cope with the current flood that is now the order of the day

  29. …And yet we learn … This concludes the case fer cautious optimism.)

  30. To discuss this issue, we need to understand what the World Bank means by “deep uncertainty.” None of the above posts seems to consider this, and given the importance of uncertainty in the CAGW debate, I’ll give the WB’s take here:

    In his seminal 1921 paper, Knight made a functional distinction between two levels of ignorance about our uncertain future – that which can be reliably quantified (Knightian risk) and that which cannot (Knightian uncertainty). For example, the number of car accidents each year in France, easily calculable from ample historical data, is an example of Knightian risk, while an answer to many of the fundamental questions regarding climate change would be neither reliable nor verifiable for many years.

    From a causal perspective, Knightian uncertainties may be either aleatory or epistemic in nature. Aleatory uncertainties are thought to be irreducible due to the nature of complex systems: they represent fundamentally complex or arbitrary behavior. Epistemic uncertainties, on the other hand,are due to the insufficiency our models, ignorance in our choice of parameters, inaccuracy of our measurements, or other remediable offenses.

    In this work, we refer to “deep” uncertainty as the presence of one or more of the following three elements: (1) Knightian uncertainty: multiple possible future worlds without known relative probabilities; (2) Multiple divergent but equally-valid world-views, including values used to define criteria of success; and (3) Decisions which adapt over time and cannot be considered independently.

    The larger a role any of these factors play in the decision(s) in question, the “deeper” the uncertainty may be considered. Conversely, the smaller a role these factors play, the “shallower” the uncertainty. Clearly, climate change is a fantastic example of “very deep” uncertainty – with plenty of competing viewpoints and values, no clear probabilities within any of them, and highly interrelated decision series over time.

    Knight, F.H., 1921. Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit. Boston, MA: Hart, Schaffner & Marx; Houghton Mifflin Company.

    • By “deep uncertainty” they mean to say, You’re in deep kimchi Western civilization and we’re here to help.

      • Not really, Wag, the WB are not seeking to do the work and make the decisions, but are seeking methods which will enable better decision-making by policymakers and stakeholders under deep uncertainty. I’m still going through the paper, but it seems helpful to me. There is an occasional tendency to take elements of the IPCC view as given – e.g. saying that with the [admittedly highly uncertain] projected changes in climate, historical data is no longer as useful for planning – but they are generally more sceptic, looking for techniques which will be helpful even with the enormous uncertainties which they identify. If you haven’t yet read the paper, I think you might find some merit in it.

      • Something like, all employers of 20 or more should hire a global warming safety officer and require Earth harassment classes for all new hires?

      • Wag @ 12.27, nothing remotely like that, download and read the paper, as someone who’s generally sceptical about such bodies, it seems from what I’ve read so far to be a useful contribution.

      • ‘Knightian uncertainty,’ monte carlo analysis and game theory meets Goldilocks and the Three Bears socio-politial science?

    • The Knightian distinction has always seemed to me overdrawn. Any single action you take can be “rationalized” by a probability distribution over outcomes. Instead of using your beliefs to predict your actions we use your actions to infer your beliefs. The same process can be used introspectively to try to derive one’s own priors–if I think this course of action is best, what does that imply about what I must believe about the unknowns of the problem?

      The semantics of “optimal” versus “robust” decisions are awful too. The optimal decision ex ante may well be a robust one. Cost-benefit analysis applied to an appropriate decision tree (possibly using scenario analysis to rule out mutually incompatible features) is a far clearer and better way to deal with this issue.

      The stakeholders with different values have nothing to do with deep uncertainty. They have to do with conflicts of interest, which are garden variety even in problems with perfect certainty and are a red herring in this context.

      Finally, I don’t see why if I’m concerned with making investment decisions in the face of uncertainty I should be spending so much more effort on climate change than the possibility of nuclear war, mass-casualty terrorism, supervolcanos, or mega-earthquakes. A .1% chance of an Iranian nuke going off in anger that would lead to vast socio-political and economic turmoil is just as big a deal for investment planning as a long, gradual warming of the climate.

  31. There is less uncertainty about the actual climate in 2100 with various CO2 scenarios than about the effects of that climate. These uncertainties have to be separated rather than combined into one big uncertainty. The parts are
    1. uncertainty in CO2 amount (and other anthropogenic effects like GHGs aerosols) in 2100.
    2. uncertainty in natural forcings (volcanoes, solar variation)
    3. uncertainty in temperature response to these aggregate forcing changes.
    These can be quantified in their likely ranges. Further innumerable uncertainties relate to the effects of these changes on sea level, agriculture, population demands for food, water, energy, and their supply, etc.

    • And, what in 2200 will be worried about in 2100?

    • The WB identify three major sources of uncertainty: future emissions of greenhouse gases (policy), scientific uncertainty from our uncertain knowledge (epistemic) and natural variability (aleatory). They say that the contribution to uncertainty of each source depends on the timescale and space scale. They estimate that, at a global level and over a short timescale, natural variability and model response play the largest roles, and emissions only a small role; over the long term, the emissions [which are affected inter alia by policy] dominate other sources of uncertainty. They are not concerned to predict what will happen in 2100 and plan around that, but to identify ways to determine policies which will stand us in good stead when we are uncertain as to the likely pace and direction of changes. To an extent (I haven’t read very far), this echoes my repeated calls for policies which increase our capacity to respond positively to changing circumstances, whatever they turn out to be. So they look at what issues and potential outcomes are seen as important, which changes would we want to bring about or would consider unacceptable, and work from there rather than backwards from projected outcomes.

      • Faustino, in terms of policies that allow us to cope, as I mention below, nothing beats cash-in-hand. Long-term planning that starts saving now for future spending mitigates the financial cost. I also mention that a global plan is more secure, as is seen with reinsurance, and fairer because the causers and victims of climate change are different populations in general.

      • Faaustino, two questions. First does their matrix consider skepticism or are they just sorting CAGW risks by stakeholder group? Second given the matrix how are decisions then made? The posted quotations above are vague on both points.

      • Faustino,

        This and your previous comments on this thread are all excellent. Thank you.

    • Jim D-
      ” 3. uncertainty in temperature response to these aggregate forcing changes.
      These can be quantified in their likely ranges. Further innumerable uncertainties relate to the effects of these changes on sea level, agriculture, population demands for food, water, energy, and their supply, etc.”

      And just how do you quantify something like the Yellowstone super volcano? or the others around the world? They could erupt at any time and cause devastating, world wide climate catastrophy.

      This points out the basic fallacy of the arguments in this paper. Many things simply can’t be planned for. And when it comes to things than are well understood and can be modelled statistically the best advice is usually “don’t do anything drastic.” Weather forecasting has made big improvements, but still anyone can be do about as good a job simply by forecasting “tomorrow will be pretty much like today.”- a forecast that is about 70% accurate.

      The climate forecast for 2100 looks to be about the same- the world’s climate(s) will be about the same as today, possibly a bit warmer or cooler(<.5degC), with rain, drought, hurricanes, large amounts of polar ice, and the possiblity of some worldwide disaster.

  32. @Professor Curry: “So, what do you think climate science and policy would look like if the IPCC worked for the World Bank, instead of the UNFCCC?”

    The WB’s IPCC would look exactly like the UN’s IPCC – deceitful and untrustworthy. Why?

    The United Nations and the World Bank are part of the same totalitarian,
    one-world government that merged from the ruins of the Second World War and began turning the sciences into tools of propaganda to control people, exactly as George Orwell warned might happen in the futuristic novel he wrote in 1948, Nineteen Eighty-Four (“1984”):

    Probably most readers know economics is as untrustworthy today as climatology, as the value of their dollar declines in value daily.

    United efforts to return totalitarian control of society will fail in this battle of The Ego versus The Force

    I regret that my support for the UN blinded me to reality until I saw the UN’s response to the Climategate emails that were released in Nov 2009

    – Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

    • Oliver, Judith’s question is perhaps a bit misdirected, in the sense that the WB paper is not attempting to determine policy but to help develop techniques for policy-making under uncertainty. If the attitude of this paper had prevailed in the WB (and I know from my government advisory experience that good advice often does not prevail over self-serving and/or ideological/political approaches), then the efforts of the IPCC might have been better directed to the underlying science, improved data and policy-relevant information.

    • Why will United efforts to return totalitarian control of society fail?

      Analysis reveals a very uneven distribution of power between

      Side I (The Ego): Selfish forces of deceit control most of the world’s resources on the surface of planet Earth today.

      Side 2 (The Force):

      1. Made the elements,
      2. Birthed the world,
      3. Changed the climate of orbiting stellar debris by successively emitting

      _ a.) High energy cosmic rays that bombard nearby stellar condensate (iron meteorites) more intensely than distant stellar condensate (carbon-rich stone meteorites) ~5 Gyr ago;

      _ b.) Circular polarized light to separate d- and l-amino acids in carbon-rich stone meteorites;

      _ c.) Lower energy UV light to sustain life when it formed on Earth ~3.5 Gyr ago; and

      _ d.) Now irradiates Earth’s surface with yet lower energy visible light that chlorophyll in plant life uses to produce food stuffs at the base of life’s food chain.

      – e.) Routinely uses coincidence to undercut the opposing force with truth, like the infamous Climategate emails of late Nov 2009.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)


        You said:

        “Side I (The Ego): Selfish forces of deceit control most of the world’s resources on the surface of planet Earth today.”


        Please list as many tangible, real-world manifestations of this as you can. Precise names, companies, organizations, institutions, etc. I can accept it if you list the IPCC, but if don’t list a dozen more as well, I’m gonna think you’ve got some other agenda here.

      • UN’s IPCC, US NAS, UK’s RS, Nobel Prize Committee, DOE, NASA, EPA, NOAA, EU NAS! Etc., etc., ad infinitum

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)


        NOAA is a “selfish force of deceit”?

        Oh my…

  33. To me, the obvious solution to robustness is a “world bank” of money to attack global warming problems as they arise. Since the distribution of harm is not proportional to the production of CO2, it is fairest for it to be a global bank, supplied globally by a small carbon tax (e.g. 10 cents per kg CO2). This global structure is common in reinsurance, where a collaboration among insurance companies insures against major catastrophies that might bankrupt an individual company.
    This approach concedes that not all climate-change outcomes will be foreseen and mitigated sufficiently in advance, which is a realistic stance given the reluctance of anyone to act before the effects are obvious.

    • Your scheme misses the point that one of the major viewpoints is that there are no CO2 induced global warming problems to come. We insure against things we know will happen just not to whom. Where probabilities cannot be assigned and may be zero insurance cannot be priced.

    • I meant 1 cent per kg. Even I think 10 cents per kg is too much. This would need to be invested and pro-rated to keep up with inflation. This gets us $150 billion per ppm increase in CO2, easily going up to $3 trillion in each decade at current rates. At some point the bank will have enough, if nothing happens, that the tax can be stopped, or the tax can be adjusted according to the spending rate. This is obviously too practical to implement.

  34. This approach concedes that not all climate-change outcomes will be foreseen and mitigated sufficiently in advance, which is a realistic stance given the reluctance of anyone to act before the effects are obvious.

    “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” ~Ronald Reagan

  35. The World Bank and the child of the UNFCCC, that is IPCC are similar: their modelers have fallen in love with their creations. They send their offerings to the gods and goddesses for financial sustenance. The parallel to Pygmalion’s pleas for everlasting life for his creation, the financial Aphrodite has delivered an abrupt comeuppance in the case of models of derivatives for the World Bank.

    The World Bank was confronted with collapse in confidence in derivatives of bundled mortgages.

    Climate modelers have been confronted with the growing awareness that uncertainty dominates all climate projections. Assemblages of multiple model runs speak to the weakness of and failures of the models so that statistical tricks need be employed to obtain a confirmation bias output.

    With less reliance upon their models, the World Bank made substantive changes to personnel in leadership roles to adapt and accommodate as the models failed them. The lesson for Climate Science and the scientists who imbue importance, even life itself to their models, the financial Aphrodite has her fancy turned to other nymphs.

    It is time to change personnel at the top of climate science by withdrawing funding from the whole enterprise, consolidate the applicable agencies and labs of NOAA & NASA, winnowing the scaremongers by assessing those modelers short term predictions; removing the regulators who speak of CO2 as a global poison, refocus resources towards understanding what constitutes natural variation, and proceed down the path of adaptation.

    Only after climatologists divorce themselves from their enamor of their models, put their own house in order, will climate science have legs.

  36. Elegant discourse, RiHo08, can’t stop ter say more, off to me tango tea dance.

  37. David L. Hagen

    Massive Food Storage for Robust Planning
    Joseph built extensive food storage and accumulated unprecedented food supplies during seven years of abundance. That was sufficient to save most of the surrounding world during seven years of famine.
    Societies with robust economies and major buffers can manage major disruptions.
    However, the USA discontinued national food storage in 2008.
    The “Green” Renewable Fuel Standard, is now forcing more US corn to be to fuel – than is sold the US for grain. – All at at NO Greenhouse benefit.

    These policies are the diametric opposite of Joseph’s robust food storage strategy. Finland lost one third of its population from lack of sufficient food storage on top of a cold wave.

    Robust practice in the face of extended famines is to first provide major food buffers, especially for impoverished populations in marginal situations to save lives – instead of trying to control climate. for no benefit

  38. Dr Curry,

    How much damage will a given accumulation of greenhouse gases cause? Will damages rise steadily with increasing concentrations – or are there thresholds beyond which impacts will rapidly multiply?

    As some have already mentioned, framing the question in this way implies what I believe is an unjustified presumption that increasing greenhouse gases is on balance damaging.

    I am reading Matt Ridleys book ‘The Rational Optimist’ which is very well written and interesting, and in there is a quote I found that cuts to the heart of this:

    “On what principle is it, that when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration behind us?”
    Thomas Babington Macaulay.

    Matt Ridley’s broad point is that change is not something to be feared, it is a condition of our existence and a driver for humans to evolve, grow, and become ever more successful.

    Given that the climate always changes, it makes sense for us to ensure that society is robust enough to deal with whatever change that might be. We can’t be certain why the climate changes, only that it will. There were droughts in the past, and there will doubtless be droughts in the future, some of them might be really bad. What can we do to better tolerate them? Likewise flood management.

    If you were a merchant in the early 1700’s and you built up a seasonal trade that relied on the Thames freezing over each winter, you might be concerned about a warming climate too. On the other hand you might be involved in transporting goods along the Thames, in which case the river not freezing over each winter might help your business.

    However you cut it, whether you believe strongly that man is impacting the climate or not, it clearly isn’t happening at a rate at which we can’t reasonably adapt, or at least not at the rate it was considered we could not adapt. Policy should include the possibility of opportunities as well as hazards, acknowledge that technological advancements may make present attempts at mitigation obsolete, ineffective for their stated goals, and wasting money better spent on making infrastructure more robust to climate change as well investing on realistic development of high density energy production as an alternative to fossil fuels – a worthy goal whether or not our emissions from them are affecting the climate.

  39. David Springer

    As I’ve said many times, ice is a great insulator. That’s why Eskimos build igloos and sled dogs bury themselves in snow to stay warm. Absent a record amount of ice cover this summer the Arctic ocean is now dumping a record amount of heat to space and the rate of ice formation is at a record pace and ice cover is already greater now than it was at this time in 2007. That’s because that great storm that came along in August destroying thin ice just created a situation primed for rapid refreezing which I also predicted back in August.

    This isn’t rocket science. Just basic physics and common sense. More of the latter than the former too.

    • David Springer

      P.S. Expect a harsh NH winter. UK kiddies are at no risk of forgetting what snow is like. :p

    • Predictable. The pattern of accelerating decline in Arctic sea ice has been to create an ever lower U shape in September. A lower U shape has sharper sides.

      With sea ice volume getting so low I expect we’ll see the 2013 minimum fall below 2007 too, perhaps even below 2012.

      • David Springer

        What kind of odds would you give me that 2013 summer arctic sea ice will be lower than 2012? Assuming you’d come out of the closet long enough to bet with me of course.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        What we care about is what the Arctic sea ice volume in 2020 will be. More or less than 2010? How about 2030…more or less than 2020?
        A year or two up or down makes no difference at all. The long-term trend is what matters, and the most important of all metric in sea ice is volume. This is, as you like to say, the basic physics of it.

        Arctic sea ice volume, area, and extent have been in long-term decline for decades, and this decline has accelerated over the past 5 years. It is not unreasonable to suggest we could see the first ice-free summer Arctic before 2020. Just five years ago, such a suggestion would raise eyebrows by the majority of “experts” and be seen as extreme. No so much anymore…

      • Surely the bar is whether it goes below 2007. If as you claim the new record this year was only because of a storm (it wasn’t)

  40. The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

    Wait a second, I thought warmer was always better. Did someone mislead me? See:

    • David Springer

      Try to keep up with your own party line. Global warming doesn’t change climate zones it extends the warmer and shrinks the colder. The big scare is pushing rain belts and desert belts out of the positions we’re accustomed to them being along with ice melt raising sea level. Where temperatures are actually rising it’s almost always a welcome thing because AGW happens more in the winter vs. summer. Follow the water vapor and you can follow the regional distribution of AGW. Higher latitudes get much more of it because cold temperatures reduce the amount of water vapor the atmosphere can hold and they get it in the winter because that’s when it’s the coldest. Not exactly rocket science.

      • David Springer said to R. Gates:

        “Try to keep up with your own party line.”

        I hate party lines, so maybe that explains why I’m proudly Independent! In regards to the point you made, you ought to base your comment on specific research that demostrates that this is the majority or “party line” opinion…or as you are so fond of saying…linky?

      • David Springer


        Over the past 25 years the tropics have expanded by as much as 300 miles (500 kilometers) north and south—evidence of climate change in action, a new study says.

        This not only means that rain-drenched regions near the Equator are growing, experts say, but also that global warming may be pushing deserts poleward in places such as the U.S. Southwest, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, South America, and the Mediterranean.

        “The rate of increase is pretty big,” said study lead author Dian Seidel of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Air Resources Laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland.

        “It’s several degrees of latitude over the course of 25 years.”

      • David Springer

        Perhaps the strongest evidence is the rebranding of global warming first to climate change then to global climate disruption. The disruption part is because they realized that greenhouse warming wasn’t evenly distributed across the globe but rather is apportioned by latitude with higher latitudes getting a lot and lower latitudes getting little with the Arctic glowing like a hot coal in temperature anomaly maps. The south pole not so much because tropical warming is shunted poleward by ocean currents and the south pole is covered by a large continent so the ocean can’t carry the excess tropical heat inward.

        Now if you ask most Minnesotans for instance if they’d like their weather not so cold and growing seasons lengthened they’re going to say not just “yes” but “hell yes”. That kind of takes the sting out of global warming and makes it something to look forward to. So the emphasis shifted to poleward shift of climate zones with particular emphasis on rain and desert belts moving such that agriculture is disrupted by great changes in precipitation patterns. Mexico goes from dry to wet, Oklahoma goes from wet to dry, and so forth. Overall it’s still a good thing because vast areas of non-arable land in the far north becomes arable. In some more distant future Antarctica and Greenland become like northern temperate zones today while the equatorial regions still remain what they are today only extending farther north and south.

        Actually that much of the party line is probably true but the empirical evidence says anthropogenic CO2 isn’t going to do the trick before we run out economically recoverable fossil fuels. Before much longer the cheapest fuel will be made by synthetic organisms with metabolisms re-designed to produce paraffins as the primary metabolic product. There is no natural selection pressure for that so paraffin production by green plants today is a metabolic by-product. We can step in and do what evolution didn’t. At that point we’ll have a really cheap way of turning air, water, and sunlight into the liquid fuels our civilization’s infrastructure is built around. At that point we’ll have an entirely different problem to address. Fuels manufactured in that manner are carbon neutral so for every CO2 molecule we remove it’ll be put back soon so sunlight is the only thing we are really harvesting. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for synthetic biology. Just like trees produce wood from atmospheric carbon and water we will be using synthetic organisms to build durable goods using atmospheric carbon. Carbon is probably the most ubiquitous and flexible primary construction material known to man. We can build pretty much anything from carbon and carbon compounds and living things already do it. We will just program them to grow a house instead of a tree complete with carbon composite plumbing, windows, climate control, and anything else you might want. And it’s virtually free just like growing weeds doesn’t cost anything. This is the future and it’s not a very distant future. The problem is that atmospheric carbon is a finite resource and when you can build stuff for free with it people will quickly start reducing it to dangerously low levels. Mark my words. By the year 2050 there will be a world consortium formed to impose limits on how much CO2 can be removed rather than how much can be added. We will want more of it than we have so whatever is added now is a good thing because there’s a use for it coming along soon enough.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        David Springer cheerfully hopes  “In some more distant future Antarctica and Greenland become like northern temperate zones today while the equatorial regions still  remain what they are today only extending farther north and south  become a lethally hot planetary-scale ‘Dead Zone’

        Fixed it for you — scientific details here — David Springer.   :eek:   :oops:   :eek:   :oops:   :eek:

      • “By the year 2050 there will be a world consortium formed to impose limits on how much CO2 can be removed rather than how much can be added.”

        I think 2050 is a bit optimistic for such a major technological advance. I would think 2200 at a push.

        People say human technology rapidly advances and point at things like computers, but really progress in that area has been refinement and adaptation of an original major advance (creation of the first computers).

        Humans are very fast at refining and adapting technology for practical uses, but coming up with game-changing advances happens more slowly and is less predictable whether it will happen at all.

        For example we are still flying about in 747s. We’ve largely maxed out the adaptations and refinements for commercial air travel. We are waiting for a game-changing major advance, probably a new type of propulsion system or energy source. That will set the ball rolling and trigger a wave of further refinements and adaptations that will appear as a rapid technological advance.

        But when is that game-changing major advance going to happen? It hasn’t happened for 40 years. It might not happen for another 200. Pessimistic? Not really, pessimistic would be to contemplate it might never happen. 747s might actually be the peak of aviation technology possible in this universe’s laws of physics. There’s no guarantee that the laws of physics allow for a better, cheaper propulsion system that is waiting to be discovered. The same goes for manned space travel. If anything in the last 40 years we’ve actually regressed. Similarly cars are still based on the same underlying fossil fuel combustion system they were 40 years ago.

        Another 200 years of similar fossil fuel based technology is entirely plausible.

      • We live in the age of the cell tower now…

        who needs an egg-head, when you got a judge?
        Think of the money saved too.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Interesting link there David, but major fail in terms of proving that this one paper represents the “party line” (which would say it is the majority opinion). Again, linky?

    • David Springer

      From your link, Gates

      “It is also the first study to show water temperatures close to the ocean’s surface can reach 40°C – a near-lethal value at which marine life dies and photosynthesis stops. Until now, climate modellers have assumed sea-surface temperatures cannot surpass 30°C.”

      Wow. So 97% of climate scientists CAN be wrong about basic physics? There’s a reason climate modellers assume sea-surface temperatures cannot surpass 30C. That’s because of both physical law and now with ARGO aproximately a zillion confirmations of the law.

    • Yep, wonder what the ocean currents were like back then?

    • “Wait a second, I thought warmer was always better.”

      Don’t. want. to. address. that. point…..look squirrel!

      • Political pundantry dressed up to look like science tends to point at a lot of squirrels. Rose article was a huge, “Look…squirrel!”

      • R Gates

        You are in a very strange mood tonight as you were last night when you seemed to be suggesting I should downsize in order to mitigate our large energy bills . Whats up? Irony isn’t your strongest point.

      • Hi Tony,

        Just having a bit of “blow off some steam” time. But the Rose article and all the comments surrounding it on both sides sort of set me off I guess.

        I do feel your pain about energy prices, so don’t think I am not sympathetic. But I absolutely also think that localized, renewable, decentralized, small-scale energy is the way the future will go. The big energy monopolies are playing both sides of the issue. Here where I live, we see the big energy company fight green tech tooth and nail so they can squeeze the little guys out, and once they control the market, they embrace what they formerly were in strong opposition to. The public gets screwed in the process. When billions of dollars and pounds are at stake, the big guys are going to fight dirty, and things (from a policy and political perspective) are not always what they seem. Sometimes those who squeek the loudest in opposition to something become the stronges advocates later on (in an amazing change of heart), once they can control the market, and maintain their strong financial and political control.

        Remember: localized, renewable, small-scale, and decentralized energy benefits you and I in the long run, but not the big guys, and they will fight dirty, and cause no end to suffering to make sure they can prevent this from happening.

      • R Gates

        Thats better. Don’t forget my offer to make you an honorary Brit so you can experience the real world effects of our Climate Change Act still stands. Its 9C outside so will try to last the evening with the gas fire off

        You said;

        ‘But I absolutely also think that localized, renewable, decentralized, small-scale energy is the way the future will go.’

        I believe in energy horses for courses,, what will be practical in one country will be impractical in another, for example solar might be great in Colorado but terrible here in South Devon, especially when needed in the winter. On the other hand our tidal/wave possibilties here are much better than in Colorado. What sort of small scale energy sources are you thinking of?

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)


        I agree that each region will have an optimum mix of localized energy that is appropriate. That’s the beauty of keeping it localized and decentralized. But that’s just one benefit. Other’s include creating a more robust and ruggedized smart-grid, that can heal or cover for disruptions more readily if there are thousands of decentralized sources that are contributing to the overall grid. Plus, as discussed, with thousands of decentralized sources feeding local needs as well as adding to a smart-grid, the localized sources can be customized for the environment of the region. Thus, tidal power and wind power might make the best choice for some localized regions, but geothermal and solar might be better for others etc. A monster storm that hits an area therefore would have less chance of causing overall disruption to the grid as other regions would still be producing energy via the other source and there would be no central power plant that gets taken out.

        Here in Colorado, we have wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal power as obvious localized and renewable sources. Wish we had an ocean so we could have tidal, or at least so I could enjoy the beach which I love so much. But as I’ve always said…If Colorado had an ocean, we’d be…California. An we don’t want that.

        Finally, remember, the other benefit by going local, in addition to making a more robust overall smart-grid, is to break down the large energy company control of the energy market. A smart grid should be much like a big highway, or community broadband, not owned by any company, but seen as a collective resource for the good of the commons.

      • R gates

        I agree with everything you say. It also ensures security of supply in its broadest sense-that is to say it renders an economy less vulnerable to political blackmail by countres that don’t like us.Not sure how we get to ths desirable nirvana however.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Tony said:

        “Not sure how we get to ths desirable nirvana however.”

        It won’t be easy, but a multi-pronged approach (much like the Normandy invasion by the way) will be necessary.

        1) Support no policies that continue to ensure large corporate control of the energy industry.
        2) Encourage policies that support small, innovative, decentralized energy companies. (no single company or even small group of companies will control the flow and supply of energy).
        3) Encourage policies that support small, localized, renewable energy technology.
        4) Encourage policies that embrace the rapid development of a smart electrical grid that is owned by “the commons” and is hardened against some centralized disruption, natural or man made.
        5) Always keep focused firmly on the goals – robust, localized, renewable energy supplied and managed on a smart grid technology. The large corporate energy companies will not give up their control of the “beachhead” (reflecting back on Normandy) very easily. They have everything to lose and we have everything to gain. They are sure to launch a counter-attack, both actual and one based on propaganda, but we know we are in the right. The U.S. and the Brits did a good thing at Normandy. It wasn’t easy, nor simple, nor involving great risk and sacrifice, but the efforts will reverberate for decades to come.

      • R Gates

        not sure about your 1) Whether we like it or not we need power from fossil fuels for the forseeable future. The little guy can’t carry out fracking or drill, move around and refine oil.

        I always thought it a shame that groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace got so heavily involved in politics instead of getting down to the nitty gritty of putting in place what you suggest.

        Local FOE groups could easily insulatehomes and install smal scale domestic energy sources at cost price, without the need to involve the voracious middle man. Solar power or a heat pump at 1200£? Yes Please. At 5000£ through a company who also sells double glazing and has a high commission structure? No thanks.

        So surely the need is for a parallel Govt backed domestc/small business roll out of energy systems organised on a local scale by those with a interest in the envirnment.

      • Tony said:

        “So surely the need is for a parallel Govt backed domestc/small business roll out of energy systems…”

        I disagree. I think the role of a government is to create and maintain an environment in which innovation and true market competitiveness can succeed. Small companies with great ideas need to have an environment where they can truly compete with the giant companies based on technology alone. Unfortunately, the giant companies (usually global in scope) often have the financial ability to control the marketplace via political influence they purchase on the open market. Here in the U.S. our very own Supreme Court ruled in the past few years that this kind of bought and paid for political influence by corporationis all quite legal, because, as one candidate said, “Corporations are people my friend.”

        So the bottom line is I don’t think that the government should take an active roll directly in rolling out energy systems, but needs to make sure that innovative small companies find an attractive environment to compete with the big boys. The only exception to this is that I think in order to create this “level playing field” environment, the government, as a representative of the people and the interests of “the commons” should provide for the building and maintenance of the smart-grid, such that no company can control it. In this regard, the smart-grid would be much like a truly national broadband network.

      • R Gates

        I said Govt backed not Govt run.

        If say FOE were to run a programme of isulation/installation they would need credibilty and funding whilst the homeowner would need reassurance the work would be carried out to proper standards. I dont see as to how you can make a switch away from the big energy companies without the counterwight-at first-of govt at either local or national level.

        Once it had reached a certain momentum and scale, private enterprise would increasingly take over. Its govt pump priming not permament control

      • Maybe such a scheme would work Tony. I still think the best way for the government to “prime the pump” is by creating a regulatory environment which rewards innovation and allows small companies with great ideas to compete head-to-head with the larger and well financed companies. And the best way to do this is to severe the ties between big business and big government. If a technology is more innovative and offers distinct advantages over older technology, then companies owning this technology should be given the ability compete. For example, suppose that innovative Company X has a great technology that if rolled-out to the same scale as the much larger Company Y’s technology, would allow energy to be produced for 1/2 the price per kilowatt. But because of the cost of manufacturing tooling up and roll-out and economies of scale, that it will take an investment of $5 Billion before this technology will be able to be rolled out. Additionally, the larger company Y has convinced their chosen government representatives to back legislation that will effective block the roll-out of this technology indefinitely pending “environmental” impact studies, etc. Two things the government could do to “prime the pump” would be to severe the cozy relationship between the bigger company and the government, and also to give very favorable terms to investors who wanted to invest the $5 Billion it would take to get this technology to market at an affordable price. All of this would be regulatory in nature.

      • R Gates
        I think we both agree with the principle of decentralised power generation. It makes a lot of sense for people to generate their own power and ensure security of supply.

        How that can be brought about in the real world with, on the one hand lacklustre and incompetent govt, and on the other smart and greedy power companies, is another matter worthy of a thread in its own right.

        Anyway, glad to see that you seem to be in a better frame of mind tonight


    • David Springer

      Notice how the CAGW faithful like R. Gates readily admit that 97% of climate scientists could be wrong when the conclusion is “It’s worse than we thought” but never wrong when “It’s not as bad as we thought.” The CAGW debacle promises to be a gold mine for pop psychology in the future. In other words pseudoscience never dies it just changes where it roosts.

    • The paper title is “Lethally Hot Temperatures During the Early Triassic Greenhouse”

      • blueice2hotsea


        Currently, the greatest area of biodiversity for both terrestrial and marine envorments is in the equatorial regions (Amazon and S.E. Asia respectively). Because it is compressed into the warmest region, biodiversity currently appears to be limited by less then optimal, too cool temps.

        Certainly, it is plausible that equatorial temps might become excessive with result being that the ideal zones for maximum biodiversity would expand poleward. Overall, biodiversity and bio-mass might increase even as some regions experience drastic decreases.

        Extreme climate regimes are hostile to life – don’t forget Antarctica – so that is all I read into the Science paper you linked.


      • But Mama, the scary things were so real. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest, and I was screaming at the top of my lungs.

      • “Lethally Hot Temperatures”

        I think this particular brand of sloganeering wore out about 10 years ago.


  41. The IPCC predates the UNFCCC so probably does not belong to it. Both belong to UNEP which is a paradigm green advocacy group, the EPA of the UN.

  42. There is no uncertainty that we need the IPCC to help us deal with. Nothing has changed: climate changes and it has always been so. Our models prove we don’t understand all of the reasons forit: that is certain.

    We can also be certain that the more the weather changes–and by extension the climate–the more everything is the same as it has always been. And with that knowledge how we proceed is simple:

    When constructing models, if our scientific understanding is poor, we are not able to capture the model. But we should pay attention to the importance of the naturally occurring processes when our scientific understanding is not yet clearly decided. Kanyo Kusano

    • Once again Wagathong, your amazing insights impress me greatly. We should just disband the IPCC since there no global warming anyway, and then immediateldy disband the EPA and turn over all environmental oversight (which would be minimal at best) to the more capable Koch Bros. and BP.

      • …the evidence keeps growing to show that the man-caused global warming hypothesis is clearly wrong. What’s troubling is that even though the science clearly shows that carbon dioxide is not the problem, the politicians have still gone ahead and introduced carbon taxes, cap-and-trade schemes, and whole economic structures, etc., even though the science shows there’s no justification for it. (See, Dr. Nick Begich – “Summary of Dr. Timothy Ball Interview 5/12/09 by Dr. Eric Karlstrom”)

      • Wegathon did not mention the EPA. There is however no justification for the IPCC except advocacy.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        It’s all one neat little package with conserva-fake-skeptics like Waggy isn’t it? Let’s get rid of any government oversight so we can drill, pump, mine, dump, and generally do whatever we want to do to make money. Profit is King and the EPA and IPCC are just birds-of-a-feather roadblocks to our ultimate King Profit.

        Really, isn’t that what you actually believe Waggy? Or will you deny this is what is truly at the nexus of your core beliefs?

      • You replied to me you fool, not Wegathon.

      • Indeed, as you are the one who decided to interject yourself to the conversation and make your comment about the IPCC and EPA. Saggy would rid us of both of them.

  43. Off topic (but about time D Brooks weighed in on this issue):

    One gem: ” Gore left public office in 2001 worth less than $2 million. Today his wealth is estimated to be around $100 million. Leonnig reports that 14 green tech firms that Gore invested in received or directly benefited from more than $2.5 billion in federal loans, “

  44. David Springer

    Pretty amazing to see that much objectivity in the NYT. What’s next Mother Jones, the Huffington Post, and Nancy Pelosi?

    Another gem is mentioning that not a word has come up in the presidential debates about global warming and in the last debate Romney and Obama were competing over who could increase domestic fossil fuel production faster and cheaper.

    From the article: “The shifting mood was certainly evident in the presidential debate this week. Global warming was off the radar. Meanwhile, President Obama and Mitt Romney competed to see who could most ardently support coal and new pipelines. Obama is running radio ads in Ohio touting his record as a coal champion.”

    • I was fool enough to believe that Obama’s comments about coal and sending the price of electricity skyrocketing in 2008 would dynamite his election chances, particularly in some battleground states, but he spoke late in the campaign and his words were not promulgated. This time, the coal miners nationwide are not fooled by Obama, union though they often be.

  45. “There is currently about 385 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Sherwin Idso has shown that for most plants, the optimum amount of atmospheric CO2 is between 1000 and 1200 ppm. This amount is being used commercially in greenhouses to increase plant yields by a factor of 4. Also, plants use less water when they have more CO2… Over last 300 million years, when most plants evolved, the average CO2 content of the atmosphere seems to have been about 1000 to 1200 ppm… if you reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere, this would have negative effects on plants.” (See, Dr. Nick Begich – “Summary of Dr. Timothy Ball Interview 5/12/09 by Dr. Eric Karlstrom”)

    • Waggy said:

      “Over last 300 million years, when most plants evolved, the average CO2 content of the atmosphere seems to have been about 1000 to 1200 ppm.”
      Indeed, we should probably be pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere to get it to the same level as when there were dragonflies with 2 ft. wingspans. Of course, humans were nothing more than tree-shrews at best, but we could adapt to that size again, I’m sure.

  46. Paying government scientists to gin up threats of Deep Climate Chaos is no way to run a railroad. That is why the economy tanked. There’s nothing Bush could do except warn us about it and do as best he could—despite ceaseless opposition from the Left—to save the nation from the anti-Americanism coming out of the UN and dead and dying Old Europe.

  47. Chief Hydrologist

    You do know it is conceptually very simple to remove carbon from the atmosphere?

    I quite like this one.

    Combine it with hydrogen from the holy grail of cheap energy – – and we have unlimited liquid fuels.

    :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool:

    • A little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing. How do you stop oceans from out-gassing CO2? Whatever you remove, oceans will release.

      • That’s an interesting statement Edim.

        Are you attempting to imply an equilibrium in the chemical composition of the sea water? Perhaps compensating mechanisms associated with natural state?

        Nasdaq recently reported, the US Navy has developed a process to convert sea water into Jet fuel. Very cleaver and logical idea for ships at sea.

      • I am not sure what you mean by chemical composition of the sea water John. I mean simply partial pressures of CO2 (pCO2) in surface waters (oceans and freshwaters) and in the atmosphere. If there is partial pressure difference between air and water, there will be CO2 transfer across the interface.

      • Thanks for the reply Edim,
        The atmospheric transfer of CO2 to sea water is nearly instantaneous.

        The chemical composition of the Oceans varies by region. Yet, it would not be difficult to turn the Oceans into a run-away CO2 out-gassing event.

        I was simply interested in your implied take on the Oceans natural tendency or lack of chemical equilibrium.

        This speaks to the silly notion of acidity.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        I was counting on it Edim – how could we extract 500 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to build organic content in soils to feed 10 billion people otherwise?

      • Chief Hydrologist

      • Chief Hydrologist

      • Chief Hydrologist

      • Chief Hydrologist

      • Chief Hydrologist,
        These presentations lack insight.

        Get your head out of the goofy sand that surrounds definitive and insightful solutions.

        You’ll never find them in these presentations but will in insightful Industrial Design and Engineering.

        If you need some inspiration, I’d be happy to post some links for review.


      • Chief Hydrologist


        If you would get your head out of your arse you might learn something.

      • Edim

        Oceans will release, plants will remove – ain’t nature grand?


    • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

      Bite your tongue about removing carbon from the atmosphere! I want to see the return of those dragonflies with 2 ft. wing spans. But of course, whether such a climate could support the 10 or 20 Billion humans as far as food supply would be questionable, unless we could learn a great recipe to cook those dragonflies on the barbie!

      • blueice2hotsea

        R. Gates-

        Silly Boy! There would be no need to eat dragon-flies, unless you just can’t get enough.

        Did you forget that high O2 was reason insects grew so large? The high O2 was, of course, produced by plants (hint: food) that were much more abundant than now.

        According to the Planetary Habitability Laboratory:

        In general, terrestrial habitability has been about 50% higher than today during most of the Phanerozoic, but it has been steadily decreasing since the last 100 million years.

        The big problem is that the planet is experiencing the lowest Relative Vegetation Density in the last 300 MY. Note: temp and CO2 are also the lowest of the last 300 MY. As Chiefio might say: Dig Here!


  48. “What do you think climate science and policy would look like if the IPCC worked for the World Bank, instead of the UNFCCC?”

    Tragically, World Bank has already been corrupted by UNFCCC objectives.

    The World Bank’s mission statement is “to reduce poverty, and improve living standards by promoting sustainable growth and investment in people.

    This is straight out of the UN playbook.

    The IPCC would be equally raped by World Bank.

    • As I’m reading over my comment I’m questioning if I’m to Old School or to Futuristic.

      Cimate Science, thanks to Edward Norton Lorenz, has introduced a new age in Science. An age that can now seek to dismiss human perception in scientific research.

      Does the IPCC even factually represent is ideal? Hell No, thanks to the jack-wagons in the IPCC.

      Unless the Science is divorced from policy etc. it simply isn’t worth a damn.

      • There is a reason why divorcing the US from the UN is a Left vs right Issue; and, it’s the same reason global warming is a Left vs. right issue. Anti-Americanism isn’t a science: it’s politics.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Yep, Americans are “exceptional” so we don’t have to play nice with the family of nations.

      • If your family of nations ever wants to move I’ll be among those enthusiastically waiving good-bye and good luck in your new home away form the the evil US. How about moving to France or maybe Cancun or how about Copenhagen… or maybe Kyoto.

      • Wagathon,
        There are so many great reasons to support a Global effort in Science.

        Science, at its best, is apolitical. Science speaks to Reason, Logic, and shared Knowledge.

        Unfortunately, the IPCC “Science” has been corrupted from day one leaving the World without any hope for change from our ignorant past and current corruption.

        I’m absolutely amazed at the lack of Spirit in the Scientific Community.

        They folded like cheap whores in search of the next trick.

      • Western academia is lost to reason. The entire government-education complex is in need of deep cleansing–the sort that only a very thorough downsizing is going to accomplish. And then, it’s got to go local. The federalization of education has destroyed respect for the truth and turned English into a liars’ languange..

      • R Gates, you’ve completely left reason in the wake of nonsense.

        Science is Not about Politics!

      • W, see

      • Yikes! Socrates wouldn’t last a New York minute in the society they’re describing there.

      • …on Old School or Futuristic terms.

        Corrupted Science is trash and never will be anything more than propaganda.

  49. Their effete snobbery is a mask for the hypocrisy of the Climatist movement’s followers who look down their nose at others from the safety and comfort of urban society that capitalism has built: a sort of `Heavens Gate’ type special understanding of the physical world that supersedes jejune Judeo-Christian religion’s archaic moral teachings.

    The unifying sense of moral superiority in the AGW believers is what infuses this attack dog brand of suicide environmentalism with the sort of magic that the AGW faithful now seem to crave–a sort of enviro-whackpot mentality where the least secure among us wield control over the most uncertain element of our existence–the weather–by simply denying easily attainable truths about nature and adopting a fantasy to replace their denial of Christ.

  50. Uncertainty…
    whether a blip in the Five Year Plan
    or fifteen year projections in weather,
    even predictions of April’s showers
    by climate modellers in cloud towers.
    (Whiling away the tenured hours.)
    Aren’t certain.

    It is often said that “is wise he who can see things coming.”
    Perhaps the wise one is he who knows that he cannot see
    things far away.
    Nassim Talleb – after Socrates.

  51. They have certainly laid out the problem – and the reason not to have a world government, and not a world bank either.

    “While agreeing on the choice of an optimal investment decision is already difficult for any diverse group of actors, priorities, and world views, the presence of deep uncertainties further challenges the decision-making framework by questioning the robustness of all purportedly optimal solutions.”

    It’s much better to have nations chart their own course by their own lights and needs.

  52. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Uh oh.

    Roasting Triassic heat exterminated tropical life

    New Scientist

    Some 249 million years ago, parts of Earth were so hot they were literally uninhabitable. The scorching temperatures directly led to an extinction event – the only time this has happened in Earth’s history.

    “Clearly, widespread heat death is an overlooked and understudied mechanism for mass extinction in Earth’s history,” says Matthew Huber of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

    While the extreme temperatures of the Triassic are unlikely to be repeated, parts of Earth could nevertheless become uninhabitable for humans in the next few centuries.

    Extreme heat combined with humidity is fatal to humans, because sweating cannot cool us down. Huber has shown that lethally hot and humid conditions could spread over much of the tropics if global temperatures rise more than 7 °C.

    Judith is wise to call for more reliable quantification of these super-CAGW risks.

    This particular risk amounts to “James Hansen’s climate-change worldview is broadly correct.”

    What is the probability that Hansen-style super-CAGW scenarios will be proved credible?

    • 1%? :nbsp; :shock:
    • 2%? :nbsp; :shock:
    • 4%? :nbsp; :shock:
    • 6%? :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock:
    • 8%? :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock:
    • 12%? :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock:
    • 25%? :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock:
    • 50%? :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock:
    • 100%? :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock: :nbsp; :shock:

    The world wonders. And rigtly, eh?   :?:   :cry:   :?:

    • “Hansen-style super-CAGW scenarios”

      I guess the church of global warming is giving up the dogma that the C in CAGW is a figment of skeptics’ imaginations.

      First time I’ve ever agreed with fan. Hansen did for AGW what McDonalds did for burgers and fries. Super sized it.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      As has been commonly the case, denialists are displaying a near-total incapacity to estimate probabilities of adverse outcomes …

      Roasting Triassic heat exterminated tropical life

      … Extreme heat combined with humidity is fatal to humans, because sweating cannot cool us down.

      Huber has shown that lethally hot and humid conditions could spread over much of the tropics if global temperatures rise more than 7 °C.

      What is the probability that Hansen-style super-CAGW scenarios will be proved credible?

      • 1%?   :shock:
      • 2%?   :shock:
      • 4%?   :shock:
      • 6%?   :shock:   :shock:
      • 8%?   :shock:   :shock:
      • 12%?   :shock:   :shock:   :shock:
      • 25%?   :shock:   :shock:   :shock:
      • 50%?   :shock:   :shock:   :shock:   :shock:
      • 100%?   :shock:   :shock:   :shock:   :shock:

      The world wonders. And rightly, eh?   :?:   :cry:   :?:

      Gosh, it’s like denialists suffer from an outright incapacity to imagine “Hansen’s worldview might be scientifically right.”

      Why is that, one wonders?   :?:   :?:   :?:

      • Emoticonvoluted

      • Chief Hydrologist

        We deny your reality and substitute actual reality.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Chief, yours is a song that we’ve all of us (very sadly) heard before:

        Chief Hydrologist’s disastrous song

        “We deny your reality and substitute actual reality.”

        Karl Rove’s disastrous song

        The aide [to Karl Rove] said that guys like me [reporters] were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.”

        I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism.

        He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” He continued “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

         — Suskind, Ron (2004-10-17).
             Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush.

        Chief, how well did neoconservative “faith and certainty” work in regard to Iraq and Afghanistan regime-change?

        The world wonders!   :!:   :?:   :oops:

        Chief, how well does neodenialist “faith and certainty” work in regard to climate-change?

        The world wonders!   :!:   :?:   :oops:

        Chief, please try again the answer the simple question that  neoconservatives  neodenialists cannot even bring themselves to conceive: What is the probability that  Iraq and Afghanistan regime-change will disastrously falter  super-CAGW scenarios are disastrously real?

        The Main Question  What are the neodenialist odds that Hansen-style super-CAGW is a sobering scientific reality that requires of us all, a thoughtfully-conceived “Plan B”?   :eek:   :oops:   :eek:   :oops:   :eek:

      • Chief Hydrologist

        America is constrained to be a moral force in the world. This results in the loss of lives and treasure in far flung regions of the world. There are surely less onerous ways of defeating Americas’ enemies – drones, high level bombing – but these do not advance the cause of humanity. freedom and democracy. If democracy succeeds in Ahghanistan and Iraq – as seems likely – it is a result of American blood spilt in the cause of freedom.

        If you to deny that the defeat of the Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussien were not neccessary for America or that it was done at great cost in American lives solely because of the Quixotic choice to promote democracy in the world – you have that choice.

        I won’t conflate these things with your cult of AGW groupthink – as to do so crosses a line into moral bankruptcy.

      • Chief said:

        “If democracy succeeds in Ahghanistan and Iraq – as seems likely…”
        And what research or learned analysis do you base this “likely” forecast on? Still way to early to estimate the probability of successful transitions to true democracy in either country.

      • lurker, passing through laughing

        fan of bs,
        Please get your meds refilled. Soon.
        You are pathetic.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Democracy is certain when it is defended by the people.

        A 62% turnout in Iraq as opposed to 48% in the US.

  53. The phrase “climate science” is a misnomer in view of the non-falsifiability of claims.

  54. Fan oh fan,
    ‘… parts of the earth “could”… in the “next few centuries …”
    I’ll jest repeat me chorus from 8/10 pm, fan, listen up:

    “is wise he who can see things coming.”
    Perhaps the wise one is he who knows he cannot see
    things far away.

    And the climate modellers’ record ain’t so good, fan,
    a sixteen year ‘pause,’ heck, they can’r even forecast
    the next bbq summer. :-( :-( :-(

  55. John from CA19/10 @6.12pm:

    Re climate and insightful solutions fer CO2 reduction, well yes, we need ter be wary of the definitive solution fer anything, but conservation farming is a useful contribution ter sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, improving crop yield and feeding people, especially ‘3rd world’ communities that eke out a living by farming exhausted soils. Freeman Dyson has insightful calculations on soil and carbon sequestering and this from the chiefio, E M Smith:

    Chiefio calculates that fast growth forests, in a 50 year period, will completely deplete 100x the volume of air that sits above it of CO2. Pond scum can do the same sequestering of CO2 in 5 to 7 years.

    • The good thing about sequestering CO2 in trees is that it is easily released, if needed, by fire.

  56. Beth

    Interesting article by Chiefio on CO2 removal by forests + pond scum.

    Gives a whole new meaning to “atmospheric residence time of CO2”.


    PS Could this maybe explain why the long-term %-age of the human CO2 “remaining” in the atmosphere has declined by around 5 %-age points (out of 50) since Mauna Loa records started (i.e. more CO2 removal by plants at slightly higher concentrations)?

    • And since liberals would really like us to eat pond scum instead of beef and pork, it plays right into their hands!

  57. Max,

    Yes, It is an interesting article by Chiefio with implications about
    carbon atmospheric residence time.

    There’s the implications of this too:
    Dr David Evans who consulted full time for the Australian Green-
    house Office, now the Dept of Climate Change,1999-2005,
    modelling carbon in plants, mulch, soil and agricricultural products
    said in an interview, that satellite data over the last 2 decades
    shows that the amount of plant biomass has increased by 6%.

  58. David Springer, 20/10 8.26am, i think Chiefio could agree with
    you that in the future carbon could become a finite resource.

  59. Good example — directly comparable to government-funded global warming alarmism — of the problem people of reason must deal in the face of the superstition and ignorance in enviro-whacko pseudo-science Leftopia:


    A recent French study claimed that both pesticides and GM corn fed to cancer-susceptible strains of rats produced an increase in tumors. The study has come in for withering criticism from mainstream scientists for its opaque data, small samples, unsatisfactory experimental design and unconventional statistical analysis, yet it has still gained headlines world-wide. (In published responses, the authors have stood by their results.)

    The French study contradicts a Japanese paper that used larger samples, longer trials and accepted experimental designs, yet received virtually no notice because it found no increase in cancer in rats fed on GM crops. This is a problem that’s bedeviled GM technology from the start: Studies that find harm are shouted from the media rooftops, those that do not are ignored.


    (See, Matt Ridley – “The benefits of GM crops, After 15 years, the ecological and economic dividends are big”)

  60. The Grist reference has a good (perhaps applicable) quote: “It is the difference, if you will, between Rumsfeld’s ‘known unknowns’ and his ‘unknown unknowns.'”
    Although this originates from Defense policy, it may be related to the problem of missing variables.

  61. Judith,

    How many lead postings have we now had on the topic of uncertainty? I’ve counted 59. I’m open to a correction on this figure if you disagree.

    But have we, at any time, had any acknowledgement that uncertainty means it’s equally likely that climate change will turn out to be either worse or less severe than the consensus position have indicated?

    You’ve said such a lot on the topic, and I’m guessing you must be running pretty low on ideas by now, so I hope I’m being helpful in suggesting something new!

    • I suggest uncertainty is central to the (Post-Normal) “policy” aspect of this issue. “How much” is the problem. Given “adjusted” data to which models are tuned, “consensus” feedbacks, obscure logic within the models and current wide margin between model and observation, whatever “policy” is to be adopted hinges on uncertainty.
      Perhaps “no policy” is the course to be preferred.

    • tempterrain

      Good point you raise about all the many posts on “uncertainty”.

      Five years ago this appeared to be different, but together with

      a) the current “unexplained lack of warming” and

      b) the aftershock of the Climategate, etc. revelations,

      “uncertainty” (in the IPCC attribution of natural versus human-induced climate changes, IPCC’s model-based climate sensitivity estimates and the resulting IPCC projections of future climate) is arguably the defining issue in climate science today.

      So it deserves a LOT of attention.

      Don’t you think?

      What could be more important than to address (and hopefully clear up) this uncertainty?


    • Max,

      I think you might have meant to say ‘hopefully to increase the uncertainty’ ? Judith can’t be a merchant of doubt unless she has something to peddle.

    • Temp, your claim about the distribution of uncertainty being centered on the consensus position is mistaken. Nor is there such a position, as even it is a range. This is precisely why the topic is now central to the debate.

      • David Wojick,

        I think if you check you’ll find that Judith has widened the IPCC’s range from 1.5-4.5 degC which is centred on 3.0 degC , to 1.0 to 6.0 deg C which is centred on 3.5 degC.

        So, yes, you are correct and for once we agree.

  62. investment under conditions of deep uncertainty are well understood by venture capitalists. (Google “venture capital discount rate”)

    The key strategy is to use a large discount rate of 80%+ for startups with considerable uncertainty of success. This means that the return on investment must be 80% over the time it takes to realise the return to effectively break even. The discount rate recognises the probability of failure given the uncertainty.

    In simple terms, if I invest $100 today with a discount rate of 80%, i need to get back $180 next year to be a worthwhile investment.
    Playing with the calculator, $100 invested with a discount rate of 80% over 10 years to have a present value of $100 in 10 years time has to grow to $82,000.

    • investment under conditions of deep uncertainty are well understood by venture capitalists

      Ms Judith may not understand it but Dr Curry understands it well enough. When she was in charge she explained it all very well:

      if the risk is great, then it may be worth acting against even if its probability is small. Think of risk as the product of consequences and likelihood: what can happen and the odds of it happening. A 10-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100 is not likely; the panel gives it a 3 percent probability. Such low-probability, high-impact risks are routinely factored into any analysis and management strategy, whether on Wall Street or at the Pentagon

      She might also have said that the risk of a 6 degree rise is 16.6%.

      • @tempterrain – you are talking about “conventional” risk management, which assumes certainty in the numbers and that what is being done will work. Venture capitalists assume a lot of startups with uncertain futures may not turn out as their managers expect. So the high discount rate accounts for probablity that it will all turn out wrong.

        People other than venture capitalists don’t think of using numbers like that.

      • blouis79,

        You’ve misunderstood. Maybe I should have made it clearer. The explanation was Dr Curry’s , not mine.

        Though, having said that, I do fully agree with it. I often do agree with Dr Curry. Its Ms Judith I have the problem with!

  63. Today’s ‘Thought for Today’
    … tomorrow, who knows?

    Given the problem of missing variables, the unknown unknowns of
    climate science, since the future remains highly uncertain, pehaps
    ‘no policy’ is the course ter be preferred.

    H/t Pooh, Dixie.

  64. Judith;
    UNFCCC reports to UNED / WMO; IPCC to UN Gen. Assembly;
    further: “… main functions of the secretariat …:” / “… coordinate with the secretariats of other relevant international bodies, notably… (IPCC),…”

  65. Further to …

    Silver rifflings on the river
    the plains touched with fugitive mist
    clouds shifting on mountain peaks
    while in a field, a butterfly
    brushes the honeyed flower
    of a ragwort with its wing
    … and is gone.

  66. Ever eager for new ways to try and cripple the fossil fuel industry, Bart says he wants “his” money for coal etc that is mined. His implication is that, as per the ideas of Henry George, ownership of such natural resources should belong to every person by virtue of being born; it should not as now belong to those who do nothing except carry all the economic risk and do all the work involved.

    Personally I don’t have a problem with the idea of natural resources being owned in common, but I hardly think this is going to change fossil fuel usage. Nor will it even redistribute wealth as per his leftist desires.

    Since the average person is both an owner and a user of fossil fuel, the effect on fossil fuel usage and overall wealth distribution is likely to be zero. Yes the public will receive royalties on “their” fossil resources, but this added cost to the fossil companies will be passed on to the consumer who will pay more for electricity etc.

    All it will achieve is create more government bureaucracy and “jobs” to impose and distribute the new tax. But perhaps that’s the whole idea…

    • Memphis | October 21, 2012 at 5:17 am |

      Mining rights are already private in America.

      I have no issue with the private rights to mine, except I wish miners would stop lobbying for and demanding subsidies and tax loopholes the rest of us can’t get.

      Therefore, your argument is invalid.

      • > Mining rights are already private in America.

        It’s even better in Canada:

        > Canada is home to nearly 70% of the mining companies in the world. [S]peculation is encouraged and the flow of investment capital is authorized towards overseas projects that are sometimes dubious. [T]hese enterprises are promoted by a pro-active diplomacy in international institutions and that they benefit from fiscal bloodletting to tax havens in the Caribbean, or from important government subsidies. [C]anada constitutes a true “judicial paradise” for the mining industry, actively refusing to make those companies accountable.

        Speaking of which:

        > Two of my neighbours derive incomes from the public sector. My neighbour across the street works for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. He is returning in August from a year’s sabbatical in the south of France. He is contemplating early retirement at 55 on an indexed pension. My next-door neighbour is a professor at York University. He is about to begin a second sabbatical in seven years. His previous sabbatical was spent in England. My wife is absolutely bewildered about why I persist with our business. Fundamentally, it is that I do not want to be a bureaucrat.

      • @Willard
        You speak emotively of fiscal “bloodletting” to countries such as the Caribbean with less overbearing tax regimes. This is just healthy competition between political units. If they can manage with lower prices (taxes), why can’t everyone else? It’s just like with supermarkets.

    • Bart your stated argument was that putting fossil mining rights into common ownership would benefit the public. I pointed out that this extra cost to fossil companies would be passed back in fuel prices.

      Your reply was non-responsive – merely stating your contentment with private ownership of mining rights – in stark distinction to your earlier call for a tax – and adding a completely unrelated issue of alleged tax breaks and subsidies.

      So despite completely ignoring my argument, you say it is “therefore” invalid ???

      Your unstated argument, it seems clear from the general tenor of your many postings, is that the tax would reduce fossil fuel usage. This is also not true, since the if the tax is returned to the public as you envision, they will just use it to offset the higher price of fuel.

      What both of your arguments fall foul of, is that Joe Public will then be both shareholder and consumer of fossil fuel, each role offsetting the other’s effect.

      • Memphis | October 22, 2012 at 1:56 am |

        What the heck are you talking about?!

        Where did I argue for putting fossil mining rights into common ownership?!

        At all?

        I’m talking about air rights, and privatizing them.

      • So what was all that bleating about fossil fuel companies being ‘free-riders then’ Bart, depriving you of ‘your’ revenues from coal etc, if not a desire to nationalize/commonize fossil fuel? Suddenly switching to nationalizing air now are you?

  67. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Judith Curry asserts  “If the risk is great, then it may be worth acting against even if its probability is small. Think of risk as the product of consequences and likelihood: what can happen and the odds of it happening. A 10-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100 is not likely; the panel gives it a 3 percent probability.

    Such low-probability, high-impact risks are routinely factored into any analysis and management strategy, whether on Wall Street or at the Pentagon.”

    It is common practice for young parents to purchase life insurance … even though mortality rates for young adults are typically 0.1% per year (or less).

    Here on Climate Etc it has become apparent that a primary symptom of climate-change denialism is utter refusal to estimate the statistical odds of adverse climate-change.

    This shows us that denialist cognition amounts to: The likelihood that Hansen-style super-CAGW scenarios will be proved credible is zero, because no other outcome is conceivable.

    Denialism’s predetermined conclusions are, of course, utterly at odds with scientific rationality … and this is why Climate Etc committed denialists are implacably hostile to all forms of science.

    It’s not complicated, eh?   :shock:   :shock:   :oops:

    • fan

      “It’s not complicated, eh?”


      You just posted a very silly statement, fan.. I’ll reword it slightly for you, just to show how absurd it is:

      Denialism’s Alarmism’s predetermined conclusions are, of course, utterly at odds with scientific rationality … and this is why Climate Etc committed denialists alarmists are implacably hostile to all forms of science.

      “It’s the science, stupid.”

      [And it IS complicated, fan.]

      Even our hostess (who knows a lot about “the science”) concedes that it is “complicated” and that there is great “uncertainty” regarding attribution of climate change (and, hence, all the projections for the future).

      To pretend otherwise is silly.


      • I think fan’s statement fits better. Who is more hostile to science? Skeptics, not alarmists. Alarmists accept far more science, it’s skeptics by and large who seek to shutdown funding for climate science and deny things like the surface records and the use of climate models. It’s skeptics who abandon actual scientists and instead get their theories from snake oil salesmen.

      • It’s true – skeptics are more hostile to corrupt science than alarmists are.

    • AFMD,

      Professor Curry also asserts that the risk of greater than 6deg C warming is 16.6%. I think this is a fair interpretation of her remark that climate sensitivity is 1-6 degC (to the 66% confidence level). I have asked, but she’s not forthcoming, on the risk of it being 3 deg C, or higher, but that would have to be at least 50%.

      However , Ms Judith seems to want to give the impression that no insurance is necessary at this stage.

      It really doesn’t make any sense for anyone to argue against it , unless they are absolutely sure that climate sensitivity is very low.

  68. lolwot, it is obvious to all, that you have paid too much for your education.

  69. US climate-change skeptics LOSING SUPPORT
    Most Americans now believe in human-caused global warming

    Hmm I take it with a pinch of salt, but it was interesting enough to share it here.

    • Heh, when they figure out the globe’s cooling, they’re gonna want more of this ‘human activity’, and then perhaps we’ll figure out what does what.

      • Catatrosphic cooling kim keeps pushing the alarmism….

      • I grew up in South Dakota, so global cooling scares the holy crap out of me. It would be like my childhood all over again. Sleds; ice skating; skiing; snowball fights; ice fishing; white Christmas’s; king of the mountain. Fear. I live in abject fear.

      • JCH,

        As long as you bring your Bernoulli-space-powered snowmachine, you will be able to skate, sled, ice fish, and throw snowball everywhere you go, any time of the year.

    • lolwot | October 21, 2012 at 9:07 am said: ”US climate-change skeptics LOSING SUPPORT”

      That’s what ”wishful thinking” is. Dream, dream the impossible dreaaam,,,

  70. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

  71. Bart R

    “wants to rush 40% Chinese-owned pipelines from Canada through the USA to ports on the Pacific, giving China control over Canadian oil the USA knows is vital to US economic security. ”

    Where did China get the money to partially back the pipeline? From the US Government spending 20%(Bush) to 60%(Obama) more than the government takes in. It has been a bipartisan policy, exacerbated by the fact that Obama has never actually passed a budget, just agreed with congress to keep on spending.

    China won’t control the pipeline. Some influence maybe, but talk to Exxon, BP etc. about how much actual control they have over their investments in places like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, about how they handled it when their investments were confiscated. In the end, the pipeline runs through Canada and the US. The two countries control it. Period. China can’t just pick it up and take it with them.

    “…..or a future-focus on the most effective and efficient new ways of replacing tired old polluting technologies with clean, lean, better-paying advances?…..” The only power source that has any chance of doing what you want is the molten salt thorium reactor. Building it is an engineering/development problem, not praying for some breakthrough development in technology. Solar, wind, and biofuel all have the basic problem of not being dispatchable (you can’t turn them off and on), very low efficiency overall(KWh/$), and the biggest problem- they all require retooling the entire energy distribution net in the US. Add in the ??? trillions required and they are totally uneconomic. take another look at

  72. Hello, S. Hallegate and his colleagues from World Bank remind me of another (most senior) executive from the same institution, Nick Stern. How would his famous ‘review report’ qualify within the new World bank categorization of economic calculation ? For me, it looks like the Stern report is rather a traditional optimisation computation focused on some sort of worst case for damages from climate change and best case for mitigation cost, amalgamated with some alternative discounting methodology. Basically, a single scenario approach…Nothing to do with ‘real options’ or with ‘ climate informed decision analysis’ methodologies as suggested by the World Bank today. Very far indeed from any sort of resilient / robust economics…

  73. For your information, the first author of the World Bank report is also involved in the preparation of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. He is a lead author of the chapter ‘Economics of Adaptation’ of Working Group II.

    Also, the link you provide under ‘Update’ does not concern the UN climate negotiations (at least not directly). The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC will take place in Doha later this year, you linked to a report on the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

  74. P.S. Also the third author is involved in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. He is a lead author of the Working Group II chapter ‘Foundations for Decision-making’.

  75. Richard Klein,

    Thank you for your comments. I’ve been reading the WB report carefully.

    It is interesting. I have a few thoughts.

    1. Robust decision making seems to be a new name for what engineers have been doing virtually since the construction of the Pyramids and since they started diverting water for irrigation and water supply.

    2. The methods have been developed and used in practice and are continually refined, better documented, and now being supported by more sophisticated analyses and modelling methods.

    3. ‘Value Management’ is a sub-discipline of engineering that covers some of the methods described in the WB report; e.g.

    4. Apparent bias towards renewable energy throughout the report, together with other statements that suggest the authors are of the eco-warrior and ‘Catastrophic climate change’ advocacy crowd, are a concern.

    5. Some of the advocacy for value judgements and other clear indications of bias – for example the clear advocacy of renewable energy – do not give me confidence that this report should be considered to be unbiased or of significant value.

    6. The fact at least one authors is tied up in the AR4 author team is an even greater concern.

    7. I wonder, what can we trust? How can we get reliable, objective, unbiased, good engineering guidance when it seems everyone is tied up inside the IPCC process?

    8. The report is rather poorly written. I would have expected it would have been well edited before being released under the World Bank name.

  76. If you believe anthropogenic CO2 emissions are not driving a steep increase in global temperature you are quite simply wrong. You may cite all the spurious misinformation or selective quotes you desire, your assertion is simply incorrect.

    Further, every year by which remedial measures are delayed is one year less across which the cost could be amortised. The problem is getting worse and more expensive to fix the longer people prevaricate, as the period of amortisation gets shorter.

    You may indulge in all the self-congratulatory, pseudo-rational back-slapping you desire, with every word you type you are killing and impoverishing your grandchildren.

    Good work.

    • tonyp, you see, it’s this way……

    • tonyp

      That comment is a pile of unsubstantiated and unsubstantiatable assertions that are clearly based on a religious like belief.

      The problem is getting worse and more expensive to fix the longer people prevaricate, as the period of amortisation gets shorter.

      … with every word you type you are killing and impoverishing your grandchildren.

      These statements are, in your own words “you are quite simply wrong”.

      The delays are caused by the people who advocate economically irrational policies and policies that have more to do with pushing Leftist agenda than anything else.

    • Exactly, tonyp, early action, even on just saving funds, reduces the pain and cost-rate later. Nothing beats saved funds for robustness, and even the skeptics want robustness in the face of uncertainty as part of their no-regrets solution.

      • Jim D

        even on just saving funds

        Dead right. So those advocating we waste money on carbon tax and ETS, renewable energy, and world government initiatives like Agenda 21, should stop advocating for those high costs, economy damaging, wasteful policies and start advising people they got it wrong. What they’ve been arguing for for the past 20+ years was wrong.

        Your point is well made. I look forward to seeing you spreading the word.

      • You are also planning to save significant funds for the future mitigation and adaptation? I missed that part. Where do they come from? Can we use them to invest in better infrastructure for water resources, energy and climate change? A lot of people talk about doing costly things without first figuring out how to pay for them. We have a party here called the Republicans whose policy is free money for everyone, but some are thinking “wait a minute…’.

      • Jim D,

        That comment is gobbledygook.

      • Simply put, robustness=funds, funds=robustness.
        Source of funds? People have ideas. Perhaps the producers of carbon could pay since they also produce the problem to pay for. That would be too obvious, though.

      • Jim D,

        Simplistic ignorance. Not worth discussing. Ask the another taxi driver for another idea.

      • But you agreed we need to save funds for the future, correct, or was that a mistake?

      • Jim D,

        Yes. You need to save funds for the future. But wasting funds on economy damaging policies does not save funds.

        I think you don’t have little understanding of the most basic concepts but have seriously flawed beliefs that you are trying to build an argument on. I am not interested in discussing this sort of silliness.

      • Saving funds for robustness. A point of agreement. I didn’t say anything about damaging policies unless you count raising revenue for the future as a damaging policy, in which case you are contradicting yourself.

      • Jim D
        If and when we have something resembling evidence that CO2 is the problem that alarmists claim it is, instead of just government-funded science/propaganda supporting the case for yet more taxes, then having those who produce CO2 would indeed make sense.
        But doing it without such evidence – as you seem to favor – is just madness.

    • Tonyp
      You may indulge in all the self-congratulatory, pseudo-rational back-slapping you desire, you have zero evidence of what you claim.

  77. Dr. Curry, you might find “The Argument Culture” by Deborah Tannen an interesting volume. It would complement discussions of both uncertainty in science and “post-normal” science.

  78. The main thing to understand is that the first step is assembling stakeholders and mapping out their concerns — where they are vulnerable, what they can tolerate, what they want to avoid, what they aspire to. That’s your vulnerability analysis

    That’s ‘Value Management’ by a new name. We’ve been doing ‘Value Management’ since man first started diverting water for agriculture.

    Yes, that would be a good approach. However, the selection of stakeholders needs to be appropriate. If IPCC or any of the CAGW alarmist, including the CAGW alarmists who wrote the World Bank report, are involved, the process will be flawed from the start.

  79. What do you think climate science and policy would look like if the IPCC worked for the World Bank, instead of the UNFCCC?

    If the people who are running the show are CAGW alarmist or swallow the scaremongering, then I’d say the process would be flawed from the start.

    The process needs to be run by people with impeccable integrity, totally impartial, and not in the slightest biased.

    Any such process must not be about climate change. It must be about all risks in a totally impartial way.

    In my opinion by far the greatest risks are the near term economic damage that CAGW alarmist’s policies will do to the world economy.

    • The process needs to be run by people with impeccable integrity, totally impartial, and not in the slightest biased.

      This is not possible! Those people have all been kicked out of the Consensus Alarmist Clique.

      The Consensus Alarmist Clique still decides who decides.

      They don’t have anyone with impeccable integrity, who is totally impartial, and who is not in the slightest biased.

      Well, maybe 3%,

      They can’t kick those out who become skeptic, fast enough to the get the percent below 3%.

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  83. It’s still possible to construct models and get answers, but the danger becomes higher and higher of getting the wrong answer, i.e., optimizing for the wrong thing.

    Yep, when models are always wrong for decades, it is most likely they will be always wrong for centuries.