Future of Arctic enterprise

by Judith Curry

As a complement to the discussion on Arctic sea ice decline at Climate Dialogue, lets take a look at the outlook for the development of existing and new economic activity in the Arctic marine region, as a result of this change.

The Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford published a report entitled The future of Arctic enterprise:  Long-term outlook and implications.   From the Executive Summary:

Over the next 20 years, shipping, oil and gas, mining, tourism and aquaculture will be the key sectors of economic activity. The factors shaping the future development of each economic sector are diverse and include, political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, demographic, legal and regulatory, and ecological-environmental changes. Furthermore, there are synergies in the development of individual sectors, most notably in linkages between shipping and other sectors.

Despite the considerable uncertainties relating to existing and future economic development in the Arctic, concerns about the long term and sustainable development of the Arctic marine region are set to increase. This study draws attention to new ‘hotspots’ that could emerge from the synergies between different sectors and the interplay of economic activity with political and social developments in the context of climate change and cumulative environmental impacts.

Further excerpts:

The primary drivers can be summarised quite simply: the increase in enterprise activity is being driven by the global demand for resources and logistical efficiency. In addition, the reduction in sea ice is opening new shipping routes that are also driving and enabling enterprise activity. This is either directly through trade, or indirectly by accelerating resource exploitation. The implications of this produce a set of secondary issues that are the key issues governments will need to address in order to keep stability in the region.

Secondary drivers are sovereignty and territory issues, governance and regulations, issues for indigenous communities, and pollution and biodiversity loss.

Hot spot issues


  • Increasing periods of ice-free sea in coastal Arctic regions
  • Changes in ice cover and arctic water
  • Reduction in ice thickness and extent
  • Earlier ice break up in spring, earlier onset of plankton blom
  • Ecological changes; decreasing pH levels

Societal issues

  • Migration associated with mining and exploration
  • Social impacts of mining and exploration
  • Risk of increased shipping accidents
  • Impacts on local communities in terms of mixing cultures
  • Impacts of ship noise
  • Physical and noise related disturbances of seismic activity during oil & gas exploration
  • Increased shipping
  • Sea ice breakup by icebreakers interfering with hunters traveling over sea ice

Economic issues

  • Species at risk in areas of high shipping
  • Black carbon emitted fro shipping
  • conflict between shipping lanes and migration routes
  • oil spills
  • Ship conflict with large mammals
  • Introduction of invasive species from shipping
  • Economic drivers encouraging year round operations
  • On shore mines damaging tundra
  • Mining externalities (e.g. contamination, permafrost instability)

Governance issues

  • Management of old dumping grounds now with potential for shipping lanes running through them
  • Territory claims
  • Regulation of Trans-Arctic shipping
  • Management of cruise ships operating in the Arctic

From the conclusions:

The factors shaping the future development of each sector are diverse and include, political-,economic-, socio-cultural, technological-, demographic-, legal and regulatory-, and ecological environmental changes. There are significant uncertainties associated with the scale, nature, and environmental impacts of different sectors of economic activity and stemming from the interplay between different sectors.

For example, there are significant technological and operational challenges involved in existing economic activities in oil and gas and mining. Uncertainties persist about the nature of oil and gas reserves, as well as considerable operational and technical challenges in producing and transporting oil and gas under extreme conditions of pressure, temperature and weather. There is also uncertainty about the impact of oil and gas operations on the marine ecosystems that unique to the Arctic, and how both might be affected by climate change related impacts.

Shipping activities will be driven by a combination of factors, including servicing the logistical needs of other economic activities, such as mining, oil, and gas, and the growth of tourism in the region. The extent to which an ice-free Arctic facilitates the relocation of global shipping lanes and traffic routes from the Suez and Panamanian Canals is unclear. In sectors such as fishing and aquaculture, the impacts of climate change on Arctic marine biophysical- and ecosystems will also determine the scale and location of activity. It is unclear, whether and how fast new forms of enterprise, such as bio-prospecting, deep ocean mining or renewable energy, might enter into the region. There is a lack of shared and systemic understanding of the complex interplay of changes unfolding in the region.

Despite the considerable uncertainties relating to existing and future economic development in the Arctic, concerns about the outlook for indigenous communities and marine Arctic ecosystems are set to increase. The dynamic interplay of an increasing number of users and uses, in a context of political and regulatory uncertainty and global environmental changes, has catalysed stories of hope, hype and horror about the future of the Arctic. Economic activities in the region are governed by a variety of international and national agreements and laws, and the management of different uses and users is evident in the shift towards more integrated marine management planning approaches by member states of the Arctic Council.

However, the nature of the Arctic marine environment economy is unique in terms of the numbers of jurisdictions, interests and dimensions of challenge involved. The scales of enterprise range from community fishing to global mining, shipping, oil, and gas. The communities that depend on the Arctic include coastal towns, indigenous peoples, and nation states, within and beyond the Arctic region.

Developing more shared and systemic understanding of changes, synergies, and challenges is needed if peaceful and sustainable development is to be possible. Given the limits of forecastbased planning in situations of social and political ambiguity, and the complex interplay of uncertain dynamics, scenario based initiatives are needed to enable more proactive, collaborative approaches. For example, scenarios focussed on the interplay of economic developments in the Arctic and associated cumulative environment, developed in a process that involves a range of different sectors and wider stakeholders, would provide a basis for the redevelopment of more detailed regulations and/or cross-industry guidelines.


The challenges for resource extraction in the Arctic are illustrated by this WaPo article Shell thwarted in plans to drill for Arctic oil this year.  Some excerpts:

Here’s a perfect example of how tricky Arctic drilling can be: On Monday, Royal Dutch Shell announced that it was abandoning its plans to harvest oil from Alaska’s Chukchi Sea this year, after the company sustained damage to a containment dome designed to cap any major spills.

The time required to repair the dome, along with steps we have taken to protect local whaling operations and to ensure the safety of operations from ice floe movement, have led us to revise our plans,” Shell said. 

Shell has spent $4.5 billion and nearly seven years obtaining leases to drill for oil in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the Alaskan coast. The company has fended off dozens of lawsuits from environmental groups and Alaskan tribes who say that drilling could threaten sensitive wildlife habitats. 

But there was still the unruly Arctic to deal with. Shell managed to drill for about a day before encroaching sea ice forced the company to move its rig out of harm’s way. And the damage to the containment dome during testing has forced the company to abandon its oil hopes this summer—the Interior Department’s permit was contingent on Shell having a spill-containment system in place.

This latest setback for Shell comes after a number of snags throughout the year. Even though the Arctic sea ice melted to a record low this summer, the ice happened to be exceptionally thick this spring in several areas where Shell held leases. That forced the company to postpone its drilling plans by three weeks. Then, in July, the Coast Guard delayed Shell’s oil-spill barge after questioning the ship’s ability to operate in stormy weather. Later that month, Shell’s Noble Discoverer drill ship escaped from its mooring off the Aleutian Islands and drifted to within 100 yards of shore. (The rig crew reported no damage.)

JC comment: You can understand the substantial interest that people have in decadal sea ice projections.  Apart from socioeconomic issues discussed here there are a host of international security issues associated with increased accessibility to the Arctic.

In view of the uncertainties, I strongly support the scenario planning approach described by the Smith Institute to attempt to understand the complex dynamics of what might transpire in the Arctic.

197 responses to “Future of Arctic enterprise

  1. What is a reasonable metric to use today to determine if arctic ice is melting faster than was forecasted in 2005 to 2007?

  2. All exploration must be the work of great minds, doers, risk-takers and those driven to make known the unknown–as has been the case for all great endeavors throughout the ascent of humanity–not fectless government toadies.

    • Thank you, Wagathon and Professor Curry, for helping guide us through the wilderness to again give thanks for the truths and beauty recorded in ancient scriptures: http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-1807

    • Waggy said:

      “All exploration must be the work of great minds, doers, risk-takers and those driven to make known the unknown…”
      How funny and unrealistic you are Waggy. You make it seem almost beautiful and romantic. Land rush and exploration periods bring out the best and worst of humanity. Here’s a little tidbit about the California gold rush back in the 1850’s. Hardly the work of “great minds…”

      “The disruptions of the Gold Rush proved devastating for California’s native groups, already in demographic decline due to Spanish and Mexican intrusion. The state’s native population plummeted from about 150,000 in 1848 to 30,000 just 12 years later. As foreigners methodically mined, hunted, and logged native groups’ most remote hiding places, natives began raiding mining camps for subsistence. This led to cycles of violence as American miners — supported by the state government — organized war parties and sometimes slaughtered entire native groups.”

      Here’s the full source:


      Not saying this will happen in an Arctic “gold rush” but the motivations of those rushing up there is about one thing– money. And when that is the only motivation, it won’t all be the romantic picture you paint.

      • … and made is safe for idiot schoolteachers to migrate there and corrupt the youth with their nihilism and holier than thou impetent self-righteousness.

      • My neighbors next door home school their kids. They’ve taught their kids that the Earth is only 7,000 years old. Very hard to have a conversation with kids that smart.

      • That pretty much is how skeptics feel when trying to have an intelligent conversation with global warming alarmist–especially when they cannot even admit Mann’s hockey stick is political and more social than science.

      • Berényi Péter

        7,000 years is a very unorthodox view and a grave exaggaration. Are those people determined to make fool of their kids? Accordig to the Jewish calendar, Earth is exactly 5,773 years old.

      • In as much as humanity’s entire experience on Earth is only during the last 10,000, it’s sort of anticlimatic to talk about a grain of zircon in Australia that is over 4 billion years old.

      • Probably much easier than communicating with those who know too much to learn anything.

      • I wish the poor understood how much the Left holds them in contempt.

        “The poor world is almost 6,000 years old.” ~Shakespeare

      • Gates,

        Different time. Today people wet their drawers at the thought of even minor disruptions to the habits of “indigenous peoples”.

        One thing hasn’t changed – a culture either adapts or dies when faced with a changing world.

  3. Mark B (number 2)

    “Management of cruise ships operating in the Arctic”

    The important thing, regarding these Arctic cruises, is to bar all the miserable people, who have been opposed to an ice free Arctic, from having tickets. Quiet frankly, they don’t have any moral right to a ticket.
    I especially would like to see Guardian columnist George Manbiot barred from the cruises, as he has done nothing but write scare stories about the fate of the world.
    I, for one, would love to cruise beneath the midnight sun!

  4. Just think about all the jobs that will be created — I suspect very few at minimum wage — getting the job done and getting it done right. Think also about the new knowledge that will be acquired and the new wealth created. There are two mindsets that come into play when new challenges present themselves: 1.) the challenges may be great but let’s figure it out, do it, and do it right, or 2.) the challenges may be great so let’s not do it. It appears to me there is a large body of well financed and respected — in some quarters — opinion that has the second mindset whenever it comes fossil fuel energy development and the environment. That mindset denies humanity the great new, high paying STEM jobs that figuring out great challengers will create, denies us the new and unknown knowledge that most likely will be acquired, some of it quite possibly applicable to other future, and possibly unavoidable, challenges in areas completely divorced from the challenge at hand, and denies the creation of wealth so necessary for a better life for everyone.

  5. It is good to see that US regulations have kept up with these rapid developments, as shown by the two Shell stories about containment and the Coast Guard restrictions. I don’t know if any of the Arctic Ocean is unregulated or poorly regulated by other countries, but we need to be aware of similar things that might be done out there.

  6. Predictions based on an indefinite extrapolation of current trends always turn out wrong.

    Arctic ice cover has ebbed and flowed many times in the past.

    What if it starts to recover again ?

    Substantial investment should be avoided until it is clear whether current changes are likely to persist.

    I am doubtful.

    • As with all climate-change related decisions. Those that delay them will be the losers. In the Arctic, like it or not, it is a race for the riches.

    • You can be sure with billions of their own dollars at risk the companies are looking at the best science we have today. That means they are not reading you. They are not reading Steve Goddard. They are not listening to people who claim, on no basis, to know better than what the best science tells us.
      Artic ice is headed down and will continue to head down. Recovery, while possible, is not probable. They are betting money they are right. Others play with words.
      It is already clear that the current changes are more likely to persist than not. That’s why people with skin in the game are laying their bets.

      • “Artic ice is headed down and will continue to head down. Recovery, while possible, is not probable. “

        I think you’ll find that Arctic ice recovers every 6 months regardless of summer extent.
        Recovery is certain, when and at what rate are the only variables. During the LIA and the Dalton there were reports of a rampant Arctic. Since the sun looks to all intents and purposes that it is about to take it’s afternoon nap then I think we can expect the question of when and at what rate to be answered quite soon.

      • Unfortunately the winter recovery is smaller and smaller as years go by.
        Unfortunately the business opportunity has to do with the collapse in the summer which you ignore. you ingore it because you are an unimaginative dolt. Those with foresight see the opportunity. They dont listen to your distractions because they won’t make money by listening to fools who don’t know what they are talking about.
        This is why no company that is planning to make money in the arctic has a skeptic on board. The smart capitalist understands the science. that science points to an opportunity. They will make money while you have your thumb up your butt.

      • Steve Mosher, you brilliant but arrogant old fool. First, I doubt you seriously know who these companies consult with. Second, you suggest Martin has his thumb up his butt. Replay your talk the other night on WUWT TV and then tells us whose thumb is where. Remember, Lukewarmer san, you’re in the middle – which means you really know very little despite your protestations.

      • Seems I hit a raw nerve there. Mosher calls me a ‘dolt’ and Gates calls me a ‘denialist’

        Guys no one is going to exploit Arctic resources during this interstitial, perhaps they will during the next one.

        Fracking what we already have beneath our feet is so very much cheaper than doing battle with conditions in the Arctic that it simply won’t happen. A second reason it won’t happen is that territorial claims are not going to be resolved any time soon. A third reason it won’t happen is that the greens will go doo-lally if anyone looks like they are going to take a drilling rig up there.

        So the whole discussion of Arctic resources is moot.

        Have a good evening.

      • J Martin

        I’d agree that the USA, Canada or Norway are unlikely to do any offshore drilling in the Arctic anytime soon. As you say, why should they – when there is much less expensive oil to be had.

        The “wild card” in this game may be the Russians – maybe as a first move to establish territorial rights.

        I remember in the early North Sea days – both the UK and Norway drilled very close to the demarkation line. This was before the days of horizontal drilling, so neither side was “cheating”, but both were simply establishing territorial rights.

        Like a dog with a fire hydrant.


      • Steve Mosher, you say “Unfortunately the winter recovery is smaller and smaller as years go by.” Why is it unfortunate Steve. It might be, but how do you know with such certainty? Conveyor belt?, polar bears? How about the poor Narwhals and Belugas that might not get trapped in a small air hole miles from open ocean getting ruthlessly mauled by polar bears. Not as simple as “unfortunately”, Steve.

      • The time frame is well defined. There are hundreds of years in these cycles. A Roman warm period was followed by a cold period that was followed by a Medieval Warm Period which was followed by a Little Ice Age which was followed by the current modern warm period which will be followed by a cool period that is much like the many other cool periods of the past ten thousand years.

      • Steve Mosher,

        This is why no company that is planning to make money in the arctic has a skeptic on board.

        And nobody that goes to Vegas to gamble believe that the odds are always in the houses favor.

      • Steven, I appreciate your role in disclosing the Climategate emails and documents in 2009.

        There may be an element of truth in some of the predictions made from those cherry-picked temperature data, but so far I haven’t seen any.

        Climategate and later official responses to evidence of fraudulent global temperature data exposed a much greater threat than Earth’s changing climate:

        A tyrannical one-world government promoting misinformation as science to subjugate the Divine human spirit, e.g., “1984”


      • “It is already clear that the current changes are more likely to persist than not.”

        Who made that clear to you? Nobody can foretell the future, not even a scientist. The IPCC doesn’t foretell the future, it stated in TAR that it was impossible for forecast the future state of a coupled non-linear chaotic system. Now you’re telling us the future climate can be foretold.

        Have a look at this article from the arcus.org website. A synopsis of which is: “We know bugger all about the Arctic”.


        If these are the scientists the big corporations are consulting they’ll wait and see I suspect.

      • “It is already clear that the current changes are more likely to persist than not.”
        That has always been true, regardless of human activity. Tomorrow is more likely to be similar to today than it is to be like yesterday. This holds for weather, climate, and just about everything else around us.

        Take a look at the cars on the road. Will tomorrow’s cars be more like today’s cars or yesterday’s cars? Look at your face in the mirror. Will tomorrow’s face look more like today’s face or yesterday’s face?

        This sort of “knowledge” used to be called common sense. Then folks found out they could make money dressing it up in fancy titles to impresses the gullible.

      • “Artic ice is headed down and will continue to head down.”

        Until the AMO starts falling.


      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Yes, the great AMO is going to be the savior of the Denialists. Just you wait…brrrrr…it’s gonna get cold they say. Then you’ll see, it was all just natural cycles. Hmmm…tick-tock, ocean heat content goes higher and higher, greenhouse gas concentrations go higher and higher, Arctic sea ice volume goes lower and lower, ocean PH goes lower and lower, Greenland and Antarctic glacial mass goes lower and lower…my, that all-powerful AMO better hurry back real soon…

      • The AMO exists. Don’t deny it has an effect.
        1) The AMO trend is identical to the Antarctic trend even though the AMO is the sea surface trend of the North Atlantic Ocean! The trend are so close it is hard to see the AMO and Antarctic trends as separate items.

        2) The Arctic trend is almost a mirror image of the Antarctic trend.

        3) The cross over point is around 1997 which is when the AMO went officially positive (it sometimes goes opposite to the main trend for a few months)

        The AMO is cyclic and will return to negative soon enough and this graph implies that sea ice trends will just reverse in a few years.


      • There seems to be a lot of hype and little scientific examination of the facts (ie typical of most things climate related).

        I’m sure you are sincere in what you say an like most people you have been fed on annual arctic ice minimum jamboree.

        It is interesting to look at ALL the available data rather than just one day per year, that is quite dependant on weather.

        Here I have used a 13 day gaussian filter to remove the short term weather variations. This leaves a very smooth almost sinusoidal annual variation.

        Then if we find the winter max and summer minimum each year we can look at the how the length of the melting season changes:


        “Artic ice is headed down and will continue to head down. Recovery, while possible, is not probable. ”

        Well, the “good” news is, recovery is not only possible, it has started. The turning point was 2006 but was not obvious at the time due to annual variations. Freezing period exceeded melting period in 2009 and the way it’s heading is clear.

        The problem is that we have only been looking at Arctic ice coverage properly during the warming phase of the 60y recurrent pattern. This hit its peak somewhere around 2003.

        Those who still have the imagination to search will find. Those with closed minds will see what they wish to see to confirm their beliefs.

        Here’s another look at the Arctic. Since we’re all excited about change, maybe we should be looking at change, ie d/dt

        The persistent and accelerating melting that was rightly causing concern has FINISHED.

        Anyone planning to make a killing in arctic off-shore drilling in the near future is going to take a hit.

  7. I checked Arcus, and the latest report I found was

    This did not discuss the final results. If last year is anything to go by, we will get the final report in January 2013. My reading of what the forecasts told us, is that none of the experts had any idea as to how low the sea ice minimum extent would be this year, when they made forecasts in August. This certainly does not give anyone much confidence that there is yet a good way of forecasting ice conditions in the Arctic.

    In view of the lack of forecast capability, I would suggest that the Smith School report our hostess referenced is premature. Yes, there are forecasts, based on the idea that CAGW is real, that the Arctic Ocean will be “ice free” (less than 1 million sq kms), in the near future. For those of us who are convinced CAGW is a hoax, these forecasts are not worth the powder to blow them to hell.

    So, by all means let private money be spent on plans and preparations to exploit the resources of the Arctic. And let us hope the various governments will institute the necessary regulations to prevent disasters. Personally, I dont believe the Arctic Ocean will be benign enough in the future to make exploration economically viable. MIning methyl hydrates from the Alaskan north shore is one thing; but oil rigs in the ocean itself is, I suspect, a pipe dream.

    • Jim Cripwell

      You are certainly right that offshore drilling rigs in the Arctic Ocean will be extremely difficult and costly.

      I recall how tough it was in the North Sea, and this was a stroll in the park compared to the Arctic.

      But I’m convinced if the oil price stays much over $100/bbl there will eventually be people figuring out how to do this – right now there’s still a lot of ANWR space to explore, Canada has the tar sands and the USA has the immense quantities of shale oil, so it will probably be some time before the Arctic offshore gets explored and developed (the Russians may be the first to do this).

      The end-Sept data from NSIDC tells us that this year was at an all-time low of 3.61 msk (previous low was in 2007 at 4.28 msk).

      Whether it will recover again next season is anyone’s guess, but the long-term end-summer downward trend will probably continue for a while yet.

      I don’t think this will have any real impact on when oil exploration starts, though.


  8. how about a list of companies involved.
    folks can then go long or short depending on their views about the future of ice.

    • Steven Mosher

      If there’s an oil boom, there will be a boom town and the money will be made by the bartenders, gamblers and hookers, as it was in the Gold Rush.


      • “bartenders, gamblers and hookers…”

        In other words, good old fashioned capitalism.

      • Yeah – good old fashioned capitalism.

        At least the roughnecks get some action for their hard-earned money.

        Under the other system, the “state” takes it all – and there’s no action.

      • A hard day in the field followed by a hard night at the bar. That’s the rhythm of oil & mining life…

      • RG,

        You have something against booze, sex and gambling?

        I can understand not engaging in one, perhaps two of the above (I am not much for gambling), but all three?

      • Its in good hands then.

      • The salt of the Earth. Uh, wait…they won’t work too well around all that ice, or would it?

      • I suspect there are many NSFW jokes here. Thanks for keeping it clean and funny

  9. Wise to start planning, as the rush to the Arctic will be unstoppable once it is becomes clear that we won’t be going back to the kind of Arctic we’ve seen for the past several thousand years. Barrow AK is a perfect test case for what will be happening, and is already happening. Huge economic benefits to the local population but also huge societal disruptions. Ways of life going away and new ones replacing them. What will also come with be ethnic tensions (as the always do with such disruptions). As the non-native population in the region grows, they will at first be the minority and then eventually, out number the natives. This will not come without conflict, but so long as the economy is strong and everyone has enough of the good life, the tensions will be minimized.

    • R. Gates

      The Arctic will not be that different, even if it continues on the present path.

      If summer is “ice free” (i.e. down to 1 million square km – this summer it was just below 4 msk), it will still be a cold and inhospitable place for humans. because in winter it is frozen again every year.

      And that is unlikely to change.


      PS But planning is a good thing, I agree.

      • Like many non-ski mountain towns here in Colorado, they make their money in the summer from the tourists, and pretty much close down and live off of their saving in the winter. I see a similar pattern emerging for the Arctic for the coming century.

    • Berényi Péter

      What are you talking about? Population of Barrow, Alaska is on the decline. It is 4,212 in 2012, 45 less than a year ago. It was 4,790 (14% more) in July 1999, when it peaked.

      • Have you actually looked at what is happening to the town, or are you just going by the population figures? This has been a poor community living off the land and sea for generations. Now, oil money is already coming to the town and changing it’s culture. It’s a big debate in the town– taking the money but trying to save their culture as well. It may be for better or worse, but it is just the beginning. The population figures mean nothing right now– though immigration is up, some native people have already left as well. Also, the money is coming first (as an “investment” in the community) and non-native people will follow. Again, it’s only beginning.




        And in this one, immigrants to Barrow are specifically pointed out:


        To quote:

        “Barrow, it turns out, is an emerging magnet for immigrants. Asians are one of the largest minority groups, now constituting nearly 10 percent of the population.”

        Barrow is a great test for what will happen across the Arctic as the resource boom intensifies.

      • John Carpenter

        They could take a look at the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegan tribes here in CT for examples of tribes that ‘came into wealth’.

  10. I suggest to all investors and the gamblers alike:
    Sell Arctic ice short.

  11. Most people have never been into the Arctic, but they like to procrastinate on it. I have been many times and all you can really say about it is there a huge amount of nothing. I am always amused when talking to First Nations people just how much they dislike and despise environmentalists for being so patronising and trying to interfere in their way of life.

    Not only is it very cold, but it is very big and infrastructure is effectively non-existent. Mining and oil & gas projects need large, rich, deposits to exploit because of the huge additional costs of operating in the Far North, The environmental legislation controlling these companies’ activities is totally draconian.

    Having a go at mining and oil companies operating in the Arctic is just pure greenie nonsense. To try and put things in perspective, the area covered by parking lots in Toronto exceeds the area disturbed by mining in the Canadian Arctic.

    • Peter Miller

      Having visited the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field, I’d agree that you are right. This is a gigantic oil field, but still just a pimple on the Alaskan map. It’s a helluva long way from civilization. And, outside the main section where there is a small town, there is not much evidence of an oil field. It’s a pretty desolate place.

      BP is doing a better job here than they did in the Gulf as far as the environment is concerned. The people with whom I talked are proud of the way the oil is being extracted with essentially no disturbance to the environment.

      They tell me the biggest pests are the Caribou that walk around, apparently attracted by the warmth of the well-head “Christmas trees” that are in heated huts to keep the oil flowing.


      • My memory is BP acquired Arco Oil and Gas. Prudhoe was mostly the work of Arco Oil and Gas and Exxon. BP just hasn’t managed to kill anybody up there. Yet.

      • Too true JCH.

        As we are all aware, the goals of big oil are:

        1) Make obscene profits

        2) Rape the environment

        3) Kill a few people from time to time for the free publicity

    • Peter, when I came to Australia, I gathered from the media et al that mining was destroying the continent. I later found (a) that the area mined was less than the area covered by hotels and (b) post-mining restoration was world-leading, with the landscape often restored after a few years. But never let the facts get in the way of a good doom-and-gloom story.

    • simon abingdon


  12. If we have a window of opportunity to raid the resources in the Arctic then we should do so.

    Despite a long list of “Hot Spot Issues” only one is significant;

    “Territory claims”

    However, I’m with Stephen Wilde on this;
    “Arctic ice cover has ebbed and flowed many times in the past.
    What if it starts to recover again ?”

    I suspect recovery will be swift somewhere in the coming years.

    Lets get those Arctic resources while we can.

    • “I suspect recovery will be swift somewhere in the coming years”

      This is what AGW deniers have been saying for many years, but this suspicion seems to have no basis in fact. If you look at the long term trend of Arctic Sea ice, it appears to be only down down down to ice free from here. Increasing ocean heat content also shows no recovery of Arctic sea ice anywhere in the cards.

      Sorry J Martin, but your continual repetition of oft repeated denialist memes seems too shallow for you. Why not move to a scientific viewpoint instead?.

      • Down down down is fine by me. That’ll help us extract that oil and gas.

        Denialist ? now, now, must be that Colorado background radiation talking.

        By the way, recovery occurs every 6 months.

      • Gates: “This is what AGW deniers have been saying for many years, but this suspicion seems to have no basis in fact.”


        “Seems” you are wrong about the facts. So ease up on the name calling. If you have trouble reading the graphs: it FINISHED.

        Expect cooling and arctic ice recovery for the next 20-25 years.

        Since you’re into name calling let me be the first to call you a “global cooling denier”.

      • Greg,

        I don’t consider the term “denier” to be name calling at all, and would gladly wear the moniker if it fit me. A denier is simply opposite of a true believer (call them a true-un-believer) as they’ve made their mind up that something is not happening despite all evidence to the contrary. In regards to being a “global cooling denier”, I am not, as I would be quite open to looking at any evidence that the world was in for a period of global cooling. As long as the oceans keep accumulating heat, global cooling is physicaly impossilble and self-contradictory, so I would be skeptical of such a contention, and as long as the atmosphere continues to accumulate more and more greenhouse gases every year, the oceans will continue to accumulate heat.

      • you should know better than to use area and extent. Very
        noisy. very subject to mechanical forces ( random weather )
        That said
        within the next 6 years we will crush the 2012 record again for both of them. 2013 -2016 will likely be higher than 2012, unless the weather conspires to blow more ice out. Between 2017 and 2019 the 2012 record will get challenged again.

      • R. Gates

        I think Wiki has the best name: the “scientific (or rational) skeptic” (one who insists on empirical scientific evidence before accepting a hypothesis): the “CAGW skeptic”

        For the other side I think the best name is “believer” (as in “blessed are those who have not seen and have still believed”): the “CAGW believer”

        “Denier” fits both sides (they “deny” that the other side is right).

        If you want to use “denier”, it should be “CAGW denier” (those who deny that the CAGW premise of IPCC is valid).

        Just my thoughts.


      • A denier is convinced the other side is wrong. A skeptic is not sure if they are right or wrong. Very few true skeptics here except Judith.

      • I would add a contrarian, who actually is not only a denier, but actually has a theory of their own.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Deniers are true un-believers, in that they are certain the beliefs of the CAGW believers are wrong. Neither side are true skeptics, as true skeptics are never certain of anything.

      • Jim D

        Your definition of the difference between a “denier” and a “skeptic” is interesting but misses the point.

        A “rational skeptic” (and that’s what we are talking about here) of a premise (in this case the IPCC version of CAGW) is “rationally skeptical” that the premise is valid, UNLESS it can be validated by empirical scientific data (Feyman),

        He may “deny” that he has seen such empirical data, but he always must keep his mind open to the possibility that it may some day be found, thereby validating the premise of which he was “rationally skeptical”

        He should also insist that the proponents of the premise or hypothesis (in this case the IPCC version of CAGW) tell him how the hypothesis could be falsified (Popper).

        If there is NO WAY to falsify the hypothesis, then this presents a real problem regarding its scientific validity.

        Let’s take “Darwinism” or the evolution theory versus “creationism”.

        Many attempts have been made to falsify Darwinism scientifically – they have all failed.

        There are many empirical data from observations as well as lab work that support the theory.

        As a result, it has progressed from just being a hypothesis to becoming generally accepted scientific knowledge.

        “Creationism” does not have the support of empirical data from observations or lab work. The 6,000BC date has been falsified by the fossil record. Yet it cannot be “falsified” as a hypothesis or premise, because it is impossible to demonstrate scientifically that there is no God, who created all of life. Since it is not “falsifiable”, it is not a valid scientific hypothesis.

        The IPCC CAGW premise or hypothesis has not yet been supported by empirical scientific data, nor has it successfully withstood falsification attempts – as a result it remains an uncorroborated hypothesis, nothing more.

        In order for it to advance to generally accepted scientific knowledge it must be supported by empirical scientific evidence (Feynman) and must be falsifiable (Popper).

        These are the real challenges the proponents of CAGW have.


      • The Dust Bowl of the 1930’s was also unfalsifiable before it happened.

        Can you imagine someone predicting that level of devastation just from planting a little bit of wheat?

        Extinction of passenger pigeons was also unfalsifiable. Imagine someone predicting the extinction of the most abundant bird in the eastern USA?

        In retrospect, both these can easily be predicted, just as AGW after it occurs and enough data accumulates.

        Comparing this to Creationism is the mark of an addled brain.

        Btw, Ken Burns Dust Bowl documentary is remarkable and thought provoking, and what prompted me to state my opinions on what may or may not happen.

  13. If you are in the UK, on BBC2 Operation Iceberg (recent Arctic ice expedition) now on until 8pm.

    • NEWTop 10m of the layer warm, melting the berg, below 10m much colder and salty .Surface notch created from melting by warmer water, below 10m no melt. This lower part becomes predominant, its buoyancy moves it up, and the lever action snaps it off from the rest of the berg, the section then tips over. Apparently newly discovered process of the ice break-up, caused by non melting part below 10m depth.

      Next on BBC 2 (8-9pm) Sandy-Anatomy of a superstorm

  14. Mark B (number 2) said on November 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I especially would like to see Guardian columnist George Monbiot barred from the cruises, as he has done nothing but write scare stories about the fate of the world.

    Better still, put him on the first cruise and drop him off with sufficient provisions to survive but not escape, so that future cruises will have something to see in an otherwise empty wilderness.

  15. Berényi Péter

    The Northern Sea Route was officially defined open by Russian authorities in 1935, commercial exploitation began in that year. It also played a role in WWII, was a theater of war. That’s how new the idea is.

    It is navigable for several months in a year (from July to October), with the aid of the russian nuclear icebreaker fleet. Incremental costs include seasonality, ice-strengthened vessels, insurance, pilotage and icebreaking. It was not open to international traffic until recently.

    Jan Drent for details

  16. The largest icebreaker in the Arctic is Russian, and it is nuclear powered. Hmm, self-contained, non-polluting, and built for the environment.

    How about an international treaty that all ships that will traverse, supply and work in the Arctic are nuclear powered as well; no oil burners. Nuclear power is much more expensive to build but the club that will be playing in that realm are the nuclear power one’s already.

    There will be no need for oil tankers to traverse, nor the huge container ships, nor the bulk carriers. High freeboard make these ships appear as sails in the wind, vulnerable to cross winds that would make them very hard to control in gales in the small confines of an icebreakers’ wake; little wiggle room to maneuver.

    With the right ship, passing its engine heat bow to stern, it could lay up a day or so awaiting an ice flow to pass before resuming course and speed.


  17. Willis Eschenbach

    Another interesting topic, Judith. Having spent some time on the ocean in the frozen north, I gotta say that reduced summer ice in the Arctic Ocean is not going to make a whole lot of difference. The Arctic is a whore and a bitch and anyone that thinks that less summer sea ice is going to open a treasure chest is chasing rainbows. Shell’s experience should serve as a cautionary warning.

    The article says:

    The extent to which an ice-free Arctic facilitates the relocation of global shipping lanes and traffic routes from the Suez and Panamanian Canals is unclear.

    This is pie-in-the-sky dreaming, there will be no significant relocation of routes from Panama and Suez. Remember that “ice-free” doesn’t mean no ice, that’s just hype. It means a million square kilometers for one day during the summer … but regardless of that, I can assure you that no sane ship owner would routinely schedule shipping by way of the Arctic Ocean. Even if there is no ice, the Arctic Ocean is still insanely stormy, rough, and unpredictable.

    And that doesn’t even touch the question of the lack of facilities, supplies, and assistance (harbors, tugs, slipways, fresh water, food, passing ships) if there is any kind of problem … which of course drives the insurers spare and puts the insurance premiums straight through the roof. And when the insurers say jump, the shipowners ask how high.

    The other thing putting the premiums up is the fact that an error in the Arctic can be very, very costly. For example, if you are a couple of days slow getting your ship to Panama, it’s no big deal. But if you are a couple of days late in judging when the ice will close in, you could lose your entire ship to the ice, or have to hole up for months … not pretty, in fact it’s downright ugly. Add to that the fact that the odd unseen iceberg can put your ship on the bottom … icebergs are scarce around Suez and Panama.

    So despite the sunny projections of people sitting in warm chairs in heated offices, the Arctic Ocean remains an icy, frigid, forbidding, dangerous, and foreboding place, where the sea ice is only one among many dangers. There’s not going to be some big change in shipping lanes.


    • In some ways I wish you were right Willis, as the Arctic (even though a “whore and bitch” as you say) is a beautiful and rich “whore and bitch”. But the Arctic is changing rapidly, and companies from around the world are even now planning and plotting how to get at her riches. It will come in fits and starts, with setbacks and disasters that will discourage some and bankrupt others. But the Arctic represents one of the last great untapped resource areas on the planet and the potential riches are now beginning to outweigh the risks. We will have an ice free summer in not more than a few decades, of this I am very confident. For many decades after that it will be a matter of “making hay when the sunshines” in the Arctic summers and the ice free period of those summers will grow longer and longer.. Fortunes will be won and lost, and slowly but surely the Arctic “whore and bitch” will give up her treasures. Also, don’t discount the fact that robotic mining and drilling machines, much like the ones planned for the moon and Mars, would be very easily adapted for work in harsh Arctic conditions. These are already on more than a few drawing boards.

      • “We will have an ice free summer in not more than a few decades, of this I am very confident. ”

        You may be right, there is an underlying century scale warming. At the peak of the next cycle that may be more realistic.

        See you in 60 years.

        In the mean time the world will have pressing worries I suspect. Take a look around.

    • I suspect they have their share of people who have spent more time in the arctic. I suspect they are listening to them. When the risk/reward ratio is right, they will act. They are paid to evaluate the risk. They have skin in the game. I would defer to their judgement rather than cautionary tales slung around the internet.
      The best science says the ice is headed down. Russia has decades of experience on running a northern route. On balance if I have to rely on somebodies opinion about the feasibility of the enterprise.. I’d side with
      with folks with more experience who put their money in the pot. Anybody can kibitz.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Steven Mosher | November 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

        I suspect they have their share of people who have spent more time in the arctic. I suspect they are listening to them. When the risk/reward ratio is right, they will act. They are paid to evaluate the risk. They have skin in the game. I would defer to their judgement rather than cautionary tales slung around the internet.
        The best science says the ice is headed down. Russia has decades of experience on running a northern route. On balance if I have to rely on somebodies opinion about the feasibility of the enterprise.. I’d side with
        with folks with more experience who put their money in the pot.

        My point exactly. It will be a business decision. The kind of University report that Judith quoted above will play little part in the choices. The decisions will be made by people with, as you point out, “skin in the game”. It will be based on shipping costs and shipping times and demurrage and insurance and risk and reward.

        But mine was not a “cautionary tale” to try to affect the decision makers, as you seem to think. I’ve run ships myself, I know what is involved in the decisions about where and when to send them. It’s based on hard facts.

        Instead, I was warning against unwarranted optimism of the kind that thinks that the Panama and Suez Canals might lose significant business to the Northeast and Northwest Passages. I read stuff that implies that “ice-free summers” means warm climes and good times and open doors for enterprise. I’m simply trying to knock back the more extravagant ideas about what it will mean. As the Shell folks found out, less ice doesn’t necessarily mean less logistical, technical, or practical problems.

        Heck, I’d be interested in your estimate of how much traffic the Northern Passages could conceivably take from the Suez and Panama Canals …. my estimate would be less than one percent. Here’s why. The northern passages are only open for a part of the year, likely a short part even if there are “ice free summers”. The area served doesn’t have a lot of population. And finally (and most important), for many routes, it’s no shorter than Panama or Suez. For example, New York to Seattle via Panama is about 6,900 miles. Going by the Northwest Passage, the same trip is 8,600 miles. Rome to Hong Kong is 12,600 miles on the Northern route, and 9,100 miles on the Suez route. So I simply don’t see much traffic going north, it’s still a long, dangerous, stormy route even if there is less ice.

        It was that kind of unthinking optimism about the shipping routes moving North that I was warning against, Mosh.


      • Willis

        That’s a common sense analysis, Willis.

        The NYT ran a series of articles on “The Big Melt”.

        BBC ran a blurb entitled, “Arctic ice melting at ‘amazing’ speed, scientists find”

        These are mostly the usual hype, apparently based on some press releases from NASA and IPCC.

        But the decisions to “move to the Arctic or not” will be made by businesses based on economic evaluations of the ROI and risks involved (not on NYT or BBC blurbs).

        And the recent reduction in end-summer ice won’t have much of an impact on these decisions.

        As far as exploring and potentially developing the oil resources that are allegedly up there, this probably won’t really take off as long as there are large, less costly, untapped reserves elsewhere – which is the case today for the nations with territorial claims to the Arctic:

        USA: 28 billion bbl proven reserves, plus another 190 billion bbl est. technically recoverable, 3.7 trillion bbl estimated oil shale
        Canada: 22 billion bbl proven, 1.7 trillion bbl est. recoverable from tar sands, 250 billion bbl from shale
        Russia: 79 billion bbl proven, additional 50 billion bbl est. recoverable excl. shale
        Norway: 7 billion bbl proven, additional 3 billion bbl est. recoverable

        So if anyone does drill up there anytime soon it will most likely be to “drive a stake in the ground” rather than to start a major exploration and development project.

        The polar bears (and seal pups they eat) won’t have to worry about evil industrialists destroying their habitat yet.


      • Looks like Norway’s Statoil is already looking at doing some wells next year:

      • Let’s see, heating the state-sized rock formations to get flow; freezing the state-sized rock formations around it to prevent escape…

        Versus hitting freakin’ humungous gushers.

        Go North young man.

  18. Steve Mosher wrote: “You can be sure with billions of their own dollars at risk the companies are looking at the best science we have today. That means they are not reading you. They are not reading Steve Goddard. They are not listening to people who claim, on no basis, to know better than what the best science tells us.
    Artic ice is headed down and will continue to head down. Recovery, while possible, is not probable. They are betting money they are right. Others play with words.
    It is already clear that the current changes are more likely to persist than not. That’s why people with skin in the game are laying their bets.”

    This is a gross simplification, These companies have many billions of dollars to invest, investments that often do not pay off. To ascribe some profound corporate wisdom to the clowns that run BP and companies like it is naive.

    • Who said anything about profound wisdom.
      I am saying something quite different. If I have to lay my money on the matter, I will listen to the people who have a stake in getting the answer right.

      Goddard has no stake. If he is wrong, he loses nothing. he can say whatever he likes. he is not held to account. Similarly, a climate modeller, can report whatever he likes. he is also not held to account.

      The businessmen who put their money into the pot will be held to account. They will win or lose. When people have money at stake I would expect them to take due diligence. this does not insure success. they can lose.
      However, they have more at stake than blog fight, blog reputation or scientific reputation. They have cash at stake. They bet their jobs and their lives in some case. If I am forced to side with someone, if I cannot study the problem in detail and have to accept the opinions of others, i am going to listen to guys with skin in the game. Not internet tools, or guys in the ivory tower.

      • You’re not understanding that these companies would be taking an unacceptable risk by not investing here, not because they’re even close to being sure how this will work out, but because the potential payoff is enormous. Go ahead and bet your shirt because you think you’re following the “smart money,” but your reasoning remains wrong.

      • Then short them. You wont. The fact remains undisputed. they are not taking advice from the likes of you or Goddard. That speaks volumes.
        They are not listening to the sun nuts who predict 1-3 decades of cooling.
        They are not listening to Girma. Not to archibald, or tallbloke, or the skydragons. I suspect you havent done risk analysis

      • Scott Basinger

        They’re listening to their P.E.’s.

      • Mosher: I am corious how you determine the “best science”? Who are the judges? Citation rates? In any case basic science has no skin in this game, whatever that means, so if they are listening to specific scientists they are in fact listening to skinless people, contrary to your claim. They too may get skinned as a result but that is the risky nature of business.

        That it is more likely than not that the ice will go lower in future may be true on a statistical basis but that may be simply an artifact of the extremely short data period. All we have is a partial oscillation. But as we do not know why this is happening there is no scientific support for this conjecture. People who act on projected short term trends often get skinned.

      • Hey Mosh, this has nothing to do with “sun nuts”, just look at the data , Met. Office nuts and NOAA nuts for example:


        which part of “up and down” are you finding it hard to follow?

      • greg, you are challenging girma and vuk for meaningless chart posting.
        You might the award this year

  19. There is a risk that instead of continued melting, natural oscillations will make ice grow again once an extensive infrastructure is in place for extracting, storing and transporting hydrocarbons. Hopefully the fracking boom will slow down investments up North allowing us to get a clearer picture of what is actually happening there and how it will develop. A reason to be extra careful is that safety in the arctic depends much more on day-to-day judgement and decisions than elsewhere.

  20. The “clowns that run (or ran) BP” have made their share of expensive errors.

    So have the guys that granted them the permit for the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf.

    Wiki tells us:

    According to the US Congressional investigation, the rig’s blowout preventer, a fail-safe device fitted at the base of the well, built by Cameron International Corporation, had a hydraulic leak and a failed battery, and therefore failed.[420] On 19 August, Admiral Thad Allen ordered BP to keep the blowout preventer to be used as evidence in any court actions.[421] On 25 August, Harry Thierens, BP’s vice president for drilling and completions, told the hearing that he found that the blowout preventer was connected to a test pipe, rather than the one conveying oil to the surface. He said that he was “frankly astonished that this could have happened.”

    This is not quite right, according to the info I have heard. There was a “blowout preventer”, but this was not a “fail-safe device”. A “fail-safe device” is so designed that it fails in the safe position, preventing a blowout, without the need of a “battery”, which can fail. These devices exist, but are quite expensive (upward of $500,000 added cost), so BP management decided not to spend the extra money (against the advice of Transocean). They were granted the exploration permit despite this, although they should have had such a device when drilling at these depths. So the monumental screw-up was caused by both BP and the permit authorities.

    And it will now cost BP (and their insurance) at least $5 billion in punitive damages, legal costs, etc., not even counting “loss of goodwill” (the “green” BP logo looks a bit tarnished).


  21. I asked on Climate Dialogue whether the loss of Arctic was ice was an issue for concern or something to be celebrated, because of the shipping and resource access. The Smith School report (from the excerpts) seems to see only the potential negatives, not the potentially immense economic benefits. While these are uncertain – cf the Shell example – any scenario planning must be aware of potential benefits as well as potential costs and the complex issues which might arise.

  22. SystemsProgrammer

    From what I read the climate change in the Arctic looks to be long term and it certainly will bring considerable benefits in increased mining, oil exploration and transportation opportunities and certainly it will bring new well paid work opportunities to the local Inuits. It has to be well managed and I think the Hot Spot Issues cover most of the issues I can think of. Inuits will need to adapt and will be exposed to many new issues, rather like other tribal groups, and it needs careful planning and execution. As for the effects of the changing polar jet stream on lower latitudes and possible detrimental effects is another topic, so much to do ..so little time

    • …or, the continued reduction of TSI marks the beginning of the decent into another LIA, tra-la.

      • nah, can’t have a decent ice age without ice. I don’t know anybody that wants a semi-permanent ice sculpture in their backyard. I guess we will just have to live with an almost ice age.

      • “From early 90s we observe bicentennial decrease in both the TSI and the portion of its energy absorbed by the Earth. The Earth as a planet will henceforward have negative balance in the energy budget which will result in the temperature drop in approximately 2014. Due to increase of albedo and decrease of the greenhouse gases atmospheric concentration the absorbed portion of solar energy and the influence of the greenhouse effect will additionally decline. The influence of the consecutive chain of feedback effects which can lead to additional drop of temperature will surpass the influence of the TSI decrease. The onset of the deep bicentennial minimum of TSI is expected in 2042±11, that of the 19th Little Ice Age in the past 7500 years – in 2055±11.” ~Abdussamatov

      • So Wag are you and Abdussamatov planning on leasing the few million kilometer squared of land for the new ice gardens? last I heard Russia and Canada were holding out for a better offer. Kazakhstan and Mongolia though might be willing to sign a long term lease, but I don’t know if that would be a big enough venue for the project.

      • SystemProgrammer

        Wouldn’t count on Total solar irradiance, to change this anormous Earth experiment you have embarked on – pumping extra CO2 and cutting down our CO2 sinks. As for the little ice age – maybe it will happen caused by displacing the Polar Jet stream. Thanks U.S.A, China. Russia and India – rest of the world truly appreciate it. Much thanks to y’all

      • What do the Vostok ice cores show about the past 650,000 years? For example, the current levels of atmospheric CO2 is at about the lowest level in the geological history of the Earth.

        Will Happer’s testimony in the Senate established that, “the planet is currently starved of CO2. And, it has been so starved for several million years.”

        The observation is valid without advert to what humans in the business of living may do or refrain from doing. Humanity is powerless over whatever comes our way from the only truly independent variable–the Sun—that explains both global warming AND global cooling.

        You shout at the Sun to bring it on but there is nothing any of us can do about whatever is coming our way. Humanity will live with or die because of whatever the Sun has in store for us. Perhaps someone like a modern-day Noah can prepare the next ice age that certainly is not a case for centralized government planning based on the ravings of government-funded witchdoctors about the impending doom of too much atmospheric CO2 causing runaway global warming plus deep and disastrous climate change catastrophe.

      • SystemProgrammer

        I’ve heard and debated that theory before, personally I don’t believe it, but either way I do not want to risk the lives or quality of life of my descendants, we should at least mitigate the risk and have sensible global agreements in place. If an ice age is coming we are equally in trouble.

      • Why should you have the last say? What about those who do not want you making decisions about what they will do, what they shall have and how they shall live?

        “The eco-bureaucracy has become a sheltered workshop for those afflicted by the saviour syndrome.” (Walter Starck)

        Throughout the history of science, monocausal explanations that overemphasize the dominance of one factor in immensely complex processes (in this case, the human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases) have been inevitably replaced by more powerful theories. (Philip Stott)

      • SystemProgrammer

        We were talking about the Arctic, so are you saying that J.C is wasting her time discussing it and we are heading for a lia – so it is all a complete waste of time developing it is that what you are saying:

      • Energy poverty is the problem not the solution. The poor need more energy not less. It is better for everyone to strive for a better life and the Left cannot stop it nor should it.

        Higher density sources of fuel such as coal and natural gas utilized in centrally-produced power stations actually improve the environmental footprint of the poorest nations while at the same time lifting people from the scourge of poverty… Developing countries in Asia already burn more than twice the coal that North America does, and that discrepancy will continue to expand… So, downward adjustments to North American coal use will have virtually no effect on global CO2 emissions (or the climate), no matter how sensitive one thinks the climate system might be to the extra CO2 we are putting back into the atmosphere. ~Dr. John Christy (August 2012)

      • SystemsProgrammer

        I see, then It would be good for all if we could exploit the petrol in the Arctic, like in my country where we thrive on it . In my country we think we have around 90 years of exploitable oil left, so we are beginning to develop large solar plants to suppliment our supplies (we have sun 365 days a year). Thanks for your kind clarification

  23. At present ship transit from the uk to Australia or New Zealand is uaually via the Suez Canal. I understand the passage through the canal costs an average $251,000 per ship. It may be cheaper for a ship plying to the east coast of Australia or New Zealand to go via the North-West passage if the ice is sufficiently dispersed. Also as I remember it, there is often a hold up at Bitter Lakes to allow ships going in opposite directions to pass.

  24. Steve Mosher, why should anyone in the industry employ Hockey Team member or likewise for their arctic endeavours, with the esoteric Hockey Stick shattered, sensitivity estimations currently falling apart, temperatures refusing to rise for over a decade and Watts/Evans about to prove that UHI in the US caused exaggerated trends by a factor of 2 or 3 ?

    Sceptic Professor Tim Patterson gives advice for the Canadian government and industry about the future of Canadian ice roads.

    Here testifying at the Canadian Senate Hearing

  25. @- MSchopp
    ” why should anyone in the industry employ Hockey Team member or likewise for their arctic endeavours, with the esoteric Hockey Stick shattered, sensitivity estimations currently falling apart, temperatures refusing to rise for over a decade…..”

    Because the predictions from what you call Hockey team members has been far batter than those predictions from science rejectionists.
    Hansen got the warming right in the 1980s, the hockey stick is validated by numerous oth alternative research methods and ocean heat content and arctic ice continue to rise and shrink as predicted from the understanding of the physical effect of CO2, as have air temperatures in the area.
    Meanwhile the people predicting a return to the ice cover that existed since the Holocene maximum according to sea floor sediment cores have no physical process to account for their assertions of returning ice.

    I wonder what advice Tim Patterson is giving to ice road truckers when the last few decades have seen shorter and shorter seasons when ice roads are viable and rising temperatures in the region. While global temperatures may only have risen a little in the last decade, in the Arctic fast, exceptional and uniquely rapid warming has continued.

  26. “Then short them. You wont. The fact remains undisputed. they are not taking advice from the likes of you or Goddard. That speaks volumes.
    They are not listening to the sun nuts who predict 1-3 decades of cooling.
    They are not listening to Girma. Not to archibald, or tallbloke, or the skydragons. I suspect you havent done risk analysis”

    You again miss the point, Mr Mosher. Investments in the arctic will either make them a pile of cash or they won’t. If they don’t, these companies will do just fine anyway. A few billion here cast upon the icy waters, and a few billion there, will scarcely be missed. At best, shorting oil companies as a way to wager against global warming is inefficient.

    If you really want to make a bet on “climate change” then the best way to do that it seem to me is to invest in so-called green companies. Take a gander at their collective performance over the last few years. One of the very worst performing sectors. But you don’t see the “wisdom of the market” at work there I’m sure, because that would be contrary to your world view…

    • Poker. You continue to miss the point.

      On your logic I could go to a company and say. ‘look’ give me a billion dollars and I will turn lead into gold. they will either get filthy rich or lose a billion.
      The point is this. There is an upside ( they are right) and there is a downside (they are wrong) obviously the expected value weighs in favor of risking dollars. But that expected value derives from an understanding of the probability of being right and the probability of being wrong. Now, when they make this assesment do they consult you?
      do they consult goddard? Willis? tallbloke, the sun nuts?
      if i went to them with my alchemy suggestion they would not go looking around the web and find some nuts who thought it was possible and justify the bet based on idiots opinions. Some nuts think recovery is going to happen within the next decade. Does shell listen to them? No. why not?
      And its actually more complicated than that since they have many choices of where to put there money. The bottom line is this. people are putting their money in the pot. Of course they think the reward outweighs the risk, but they are not betting longshots here, otherwise, it would make sense to bet my alchemy longshot. Further, in assessing their prospects, they are not calling you. you know nothing. They are not telling their shareholders that some post on Goddard or WUWT made them change their mind.
      Since you havent made multimillion dollar bets on risky ventures and I have, you will excuse me if I dont listen to you about them either.

      • I agree with you Mosher.

      • SMosher: The corporate payoff function on large investments is highly subject to agency problems between managers and shareholders. The biggest problem is herding behavior–a manager who performs badly, but with the same strategy as his rivals, is less subject to loss of reputation than is a contrarian. Bottom line: If everybody else makes money in the Arctic and you don’t, you the manager are punished and denigrated, but if everyone else also fails there you get off pretty unscathed. The higher-variance upside and downside of contrarianism is not attractive to the typical risk-averse manager.

        There is also a problem of managerial risk-aversion in general; since more of their total wealth (including human capital) is tied up in the corporation than is the typical diversified shareholder, they are more worried about the variance of earnings than the typical shareholder. (Stock options used to be used to lean against this bias, but the new and improved regulatory climate has shifted firms away from that approach.)

        I’d love to see a good event study on the market reaction to Shell or BP announcements of Arctic investments.

    • John Carpenter

      “A few billion here cast upon the icy waters, and a few billion there, will scarcely be missed.”

      You really think so? I thought engineering types accounted for everything? I thought that’s why we like them. They confrim, validate, and account for everything… including the money part. They don’t count the money they spend on exploration? The reality is, mere million dollar investments on risky proposals have to go through layers of risk analysis followed by layers of management approvals and buy in before release. Believe it or not, the folks that sign off on these projects actually have to be accountable to them. The idea that billions are thrown around like confetti is not reality as I know it.

  27. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    To illuminate the short-sighted selfish silliness of Judith’s quoted passage from the Smith School of Enterprise, here is their follow-on analysis:

    The Future of Equatorial Enterprise: Long-Term Outlook and Implications
    authored by: the Smythe School of Enterprise, 2012

    Executive Summary  Over the next 2000 years, coastal flooding, mass extinctions, and civilization collapse will emerge as the key sectors of equatorial economic activity. The factors shaping future development are diverse and include heat lethality, drought, reproductive failure, and conversion to a bacterial anaerobic ecology. Furthermore, there are synergies in the collapse of individual sectors, most notably in linkages between ecological collapse and civilization collapse.

    Conclusion  The science of climate-change teaches that economic analyses whose outlook is short-term and/or ideology-driven are moronic and destructive, eh?

    Utterly moronic and destructive.   :eek:   :oops:   :cry:   :eek:   :oops:   :cry:

  28. Would better read “as a way to wager on arctic sea ice recovery”

  29. The truth of the matter is that eventually any riches that are hidden in the Arctic will be extracted.

    This will happen regardless of the extent of late-summer sea ice (which is what all the “hoopla” is about now). In fact, this is not a “climate change” issue at all.

    The only thing that could stop that from happening is an international treaty among the nations bordering on the Arctic to make it an “industry free zone”.

    There may be some green lobby groups like Greenpeace that would like to see this happen, but I would think that the nations that have territorial claims there would not agree.

    Since Norway’s Statoil has already announced it will drill some wells in their sector next year, it looks like a stake is being driven.


    • Look at the last paragraph in this Shell story.


      Looks like Statoil may wait a little longer and watch how it goes with Shell.

    • Greenpeace claims “This will be the first time a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean has existed for many thousands of years.”
      That is totally untrue. Conditions like this occurred at the peaks of every warm period in the past ten thousand years. That is where the snow came from to cause the corresponding number of the cool periods in the past ten thousand years. This is a normal phase of a natural, well bounded, cycle.
      When the oceans are warm it snows more.
      When the oceans are cold it snows less.
      That is why temperature stays well bounded.
      There were conditions like now, during the Roman Warm period and during the Medieval Warm period and that is why enough snow fell to cause the cool periods that followed. Look at the data from the ice cores.

  30. What I conclude from all this is that we don’t learn a damn thing from history. As a consequence we fight the overwhelming elements in New Orleans, we build homes on flood plains, we build cities on earthquake faults, we expand into deep forests which natures regularly refreshes with fire, we put reservoirs in dangerous places, we create great open sores on our land and watch Nature fill them with poison (Berkeley Pit). Now we’re going to play god with Arctic ice based on a brief period of observation while ignoring the long term record.

    Some day a team of geneticists is going to find a madness gene in the human genome. This serial bad judgement has to be in our DNA.

  31. @- Herman Alexander Pope
    ” Conditions like this occurred at the peaks of every warm period in the past ten thousand years. …
    There were conditions like now, during the Roman Warm period and during the Medieval Warm period …

    I have seen this assertion before, but as far as I can tell it is entirely without supporting evidence.
    In fact the evidence available indicates that there was NOT a similar melt of Arctic ice in the MWP or any Roman warm period. Sea sediments and geological evidence from the landfast ice north of Greenland and Canada indicates nothing comparable since the Holocene maximum around 8000 years ago when summer insolation was ~ 5% higher than now due to orbital variance.

    Perhaps you have some credible evidence to back up the claim that similar melts happened during the recent past, could you post links to such research to show that these claims are not egregious ?


  32. Willis Eschenbach

    izen | November 19, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Because the predictions from what you call Hockey team members has been far batter than those predictions from science rejectionists.

    Yes, for example the eerily accurate predictions of an ice-free Arctic like this scientific forecast from a scientific scientist:

    Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’

    By Jonathan Amos
    Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco
    12 Dec 2007

    Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice.
    Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years.
    Professor Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous projections had underestimated the processes now driving ice loss. …

    Now izen, you say the predictions of the scientists are far better than predictions of simple folk like myself … so shall we put say $100 on whether the Arctic will be ice-free next year (as the scientists say), or not ice-free next year (as I say)?

    You gonna put your money where your scientist is, or are you just flapping your gums?

    Your choice …


    PS—Here’s an update since 2007. As the predicted ice-free date neared, the scientists got nervous. Very nervous. Because they knew their calculations were right, so what could be wrong?

    So they got a brand new whiz-bang computer model. The new computer model now says the Arctic will be ice-free in 2016, viz:

    New warning on Arctic sea ice melt

    By Richard Black
    Environment correspondent, BBC News
    7 Apr 2011

    Scientists who predicted a few years ago that Arctic summers could be ice-free by 2013 now say summer sea ice will probably be gone in this decade.

    The original prediction, made in 2007, gained Wieslaw Maslowski’s team a deal of criticism from some of their peers.

    Now they are working with a new computer model – compiled partly in response to those criticisms – that produces a “best guess” date of 2016.

    Ooooops …

    But heck, I’m a generous man. I’m willing to put up $100 that the Arctic won’t be ice-free by 2016 either, izen … are you willing to take the bet? Anthony can hold the stakes, “ice-free” to be defined as less than a million square kilometres of ice at the lowest point.

    You on for the bet? Or are you just blowing wind?

  33. Willis Eschenbach

    A fan of *MORE* discourse | November 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Willis, what about this bet: WUWT/Anthony Watts will continue to mock all scientists and/or analyses that are concerned for the long-term stability of the planetary ecosystem.

    But heck … everyone’s on for *THAT* bet!

    Fan, do you have to work at being a ridiculous internet popup mouthing inane personal attacks no matter what the subject of the thread, or does it come naturally to you? I’m betting you are a natural rectum, you’re just too good at it for it to be learned behavior.

    And the smilies? Are you really still in high school, or are you just trying to convince us you are in high school? Because the general quality of your writing already convinced me …

    Truly, my friend, the smilies make you look like a mouth-breathing idiot. Can you imagine Rcihard Feynmann, or our gracious host for that matter, putting a line of smilies at the end of their statement? It marks you as a dweeb, it’s the internet equivalent of a “tramp stamp” tattoo.

    But heck, if you want to play the fool, I can’t stop you, so get on with it. More smilies! More inane statements! More personal attacks! Go for it, FAN, you’ve ruined your reputation already, nobody takes you seriously, so you might as well go all out.


    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Willis, with respect, doesn’t this week’s World Bank Report: A Dramatically Warmer World This Century suggest to you — as it does to His Holiness Pope Benedict — that a longer-term view of climate-change impacts may be appropriate?

      After all, facing up to long-term responsibilities can be both morally satisfying *and* scientifically challenging, eh Willis Eschenbach!   ❤   ☺   ♫   ッ

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Well, that brings up the obvious question … do you get your banking advice and financial direction from climate scientists and from the Pope?

        And if not … why should I go to bankers or to the Pope for information and advice about the climate?

        In addition, I’ve dealt with some of the World Wankers before in a variety of projects. I was not impressed. Most of them, I wouldn’t even take banking advice from, much less climate advice.


      • Willis,

        fan has demonstrated his mastery at the creative use of emoticons and linking to non-relevant or useless articles.

        A piece of advice – think hard before sending a kid you know to UW. fan might be an indication of the sort of eductation they might get.

  34. Willis,

    I’ve been trying for 3 years to get a bet going with someone from the warm side…nary a taker. With all their angry certainty, it’s really pretty puzzling.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Pokerguy, perhaps that’s because Intrade’s been offering better odds (and serving as a trustworthy stateholder too).

      That’s where the warm-side betters have been cleaning-up! Climate-change skeptics, not so much, eh?   ;)   :smile:   :grin:   :lol:   :!:

  35. lurker, passing through laughing

    What assurance is there the current state of the Arctic is any more long term than the last time there was reduced icepack?

    • Good question.

      Why are we so surprised that climate is changing? Climate always changes. It would be newsworthy if climate stopped changing. (Philip Stott)

  36. Climate is governed by millions of factors, from the flip of a butterfly’s wing, through volcanic eruptions, the oceans and natural greenhouse gases, to solar activity and meteors. (Philip Stott)

  37. While my email was knocked out by hurricane Sandy, an interesting discussion appeared as part of “Melting of the Arctic sea ice” exchange on Climate Dialogue:
    Judith Curry November 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I’ll kick off the discussion, focusing on the following question:

    …What percentage of the recent [sea ice] decline would you attribute to anthropogenic greenhouse gases?… My assessment is that it is likely (>66% likelihood) that there is 50-50 split between natural variability and anthropogenic forcing, with +/-20% range…”

    May I suggest that the true answer is 0% anthropogenic greenhouse gases? You of all people should know it, having had access to my Arctic work for several years now. Instead I see you citing opinions of people like Walt Meyer and Ron Lindsay who haven’t the vaguest notion of what is going on in the Arctic. They and others in this discussion remind me of blind men trying to learn about the elephant: they may have contact with some part of the beast but they sure don’t know what to make of it. Briefly, Arctic warming started at the turn of the twentieth century after two thousand years of slow, linear cooling. No cycles, no nothing until it got going according to both Kaufman and Spielhagen. Theirs were two independent measurements, Kaufman’s from sub-Arctic lake deposits, Spielhagen’s from Foraminiferal cores near Svalbard. Kaufman shows that after the warming got started it paused for a while in mid-twentieth century and then resumed. The scale of his graph was highly compressed but I was able to get a more high resolution graph for the twentieth century and above from NOAA’s Arctic Report Card for 2010. This NOAA chart showed that the mid-century pause in warming was not just a pause but an actual cooling that lasted from 1940 to 1970. This corresponds well to numerous observations that show warming in the twenties and thirties that was interrupted but then started up again in the latter part of the century. This dual warming regime in the twentieth century was also well known to Polyakoff et al. when they published Arctic warming data for the years 1875 to 2000. Among the observations reported are reports of warming in the early part of the century and direct measurements of Arctic water temperature by Spielhagen in 2010 who reported temperatures that never had been reached in the previous two thousand years. He makes it very clear that this is not part of any cycle but a completely unique occurrence without any precedent. This is all observational, but what about its cause? Some of your participants (e.g. Lindsey) think the warming is due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Unfortunately these people have no idea of the physics of the greenhouse effect. In order to start greenhouse warming by carbon dioxide it is quite necessary that there must be a parallel increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide. That is because the absorptance of carbon dioxide in the infrared is a property of the gas and cannot be changed. If you want it to start a warming you must put more carbon dioxide in the air and we know that this did not happen. What else could be the cause? Carbon dioxide and the sun can both be ruled out, so what is left? The only process I could think of was a re-arrangement of the North Atlantic current system at the turn of the century that started carrying warm water of the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean. The mid-century suspension of warming could then be explained as a temporary resumption of the previous flow pattern of currents. Such abrupt changes are impossible for the greenhouse effect to perform but they are easy to understand if shifting currents are involved. I went to press with that and subsequent reports have only strengthened this view, including a reference to “North Atlantic currents” entering Barents Sea in the early century. You can be assured that the above processes accurately describe the Arctic warming today. To make that point even more strongly, Arctic today is actually the only part of the earth that is still warming. According to the Met Office, there has not been any global warming for the last 16 years. I count it as twelve because satellite view tells me that. David Rose unearthed the temperature standstill from their web site and published it in the Daily Mail on a Sunday in October. The Met Office rushed out a damage control comment on the same day the article came out but had to admit Rose was right. Look up my comments for that. This particular temperature standstill is not the only one on record. Satellite temperature data indicate that there was no warming from 1979 to 1997, just ENSO oscillations, while global mean temperature stood still. The only actual warming since the satellites started operating is a step warming that began with the 1998 super El Nino, raised global temperature by a third of a degree in four years, and then stopped. There has not been any warming since then as Met Office temperature record proves. There was another long temperature standstill before that – no warming at all from about 1950 to 1976. What brought that one to an end was also a step warming which raised global temperature by 0.2 degrees and was over by 1980. It was then called the Great Pacific Climate Shift but since that time it has been subsumed into the PDO phase shift from cool to warm phase that supposedly has a thirty year period. For more information, get my book “What Warming?” from Amazon. Also read my article in E&E 22(8):269-283 (2010).

  38. http://i49.tinypic.com/xudsy.png

    From 1997 to 2007 there was an accelerating melting in the Arctic.

    That has FINISHED. Previous oscillatory behaviour appears to be re-established.

    Warning: this graph was created by cherry-picking ALL the available data, not just one day per year, so it may be misleading. ;)

  39. Mark B (number 2)

    “What percentage of the recent [sea ice] decline would you attribute to anthropogenic greenhouse gases?”

    The question is wrong. There should really be 3 separate questions:
    1. How much warming has occurred since a particular year?
    2. What percentage of the current warming can be attributed to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?
    3. What percentage loss of sea ice can be attributed to the warming?

    I remember that Dr Curry estimated 10%, as the answer to question 2, a few months ago.
    To a casual observer, who has not seen how the original question has been worded, Dr Curry’s answer to the original question gives a false impression (from her view point) that carbon dioxide emissions have actually caused about 50% of the warming.

  40. SystemProgrammer

    As a lay person I am totally amazed at some of the comments here, we can all quote a favourite scientist (with Empirical evidence) who fits our own personal view perfectly. Climate Science has become almost akin with a religion or a political party. In my own country a recent opinion poll came to the conclusion we were pretty equally divided (I can see that here too) I just hope J.C has a fruitful discussion and the interests of the local Arctic inhabitants are well protected.

  41. Favourite Quotation:
    “Future generations will be living in a world that is very different from that to which we are accustomed. It is essential that we prepare ourselves and our children for that new world.”
    What utter claptrap.

    Past generations lived in a very different world than the one we do. So what? Did they sit around agonising about ‘preparing’ us for the age of space travel and computers? Even in the unlikely event that they could accurately predict the future, what could they possibly have done anyway?

    Honestly, whenever I hear someone dribbling on about ‘future generations’, I clasp my wallet tight, and my critical faculties tighter – because they are about to ask me to make a personal sacrifice on the altar of their ideology.

  42. SystemProgrammer

    Don’t insult my beloved leader – he was a man of great wisdom and we could all learn a lot from him, he held the Trucial Emirates together with kindly wisdom.

  43. Willis Eschenbach

    johanna, I can only agree. When somebody starts talking about the grandchildren and the future generations and the new world, my urban legend detector starts ringing loud and clear …

    However, in this case I suspect the good Sheikh was talking about taking his people from being desert nomads to being members of the modern industrialized world in a single generation … and for that, it is indeed essential that they prepare their kids.


    • SystemProgrammer

      Thanks Willis – that is exactly what he meant – and it is my favourite quotation, having lived in the U.A.E for many years

    • Fair enough, but that is no different from what all parents always do anyway. What got my BS detector going was the plural – “future generations”.

      I grant that in the case cited the task that every parent has faced forever would be more challenging than is usual. Still, when my father (who is still alive) was growing up, commercial air travel was in its infancy and computers and space travel were unheard of. He has not only adapted to them, he understands them and loves them with a passion!

      • Sure, and when I grew up people understoond that those who can’t do teach. Now, teachers are the saviors of the world.

        “Promoters of global warmng alarmism are, playing the children’s game to scare each other.” ~Lubos Motl

      • Johanna,

        O/T but you are my go to person for all matters NBN. Would you know where I can get the actual numbers to substitute in the example I gave in reply to Michael Deecke here: http://www.technologyspectator.com.au/reporting-nbn-right

      • Sorry Peter, I’m not able to help you on this. Presumably you have looked at the NBN’s own figures (on their website) and the various reports relating to them.

        Since the figures themselves are hotly contested, it’s difficult to get a handle on the issue you raise.

        I will say, though, that I actually support the building of the NBN infrastructure – it’s the competition aspects that worry me. Telstra was routinely spending $4-5bn a year on capex anyway, so economically I don’t think it’s a big deal in expenditure terms. The copper network is falling apart and other technologies need fibre to support them – plus high volume and critical security/health/high bandwidth users will still require fibre.

        However, this is not the venue for it, and I acknowledge that there are good arguments on both sides!

  44. CO2 production of all of humanity is responsible for a staggering 0.001% of the atmosphere. Does anyone seriously think that China, India and Brazil are as gullible and superstitious as the average Western-educated, flip flop-wearing science astrologers that are taking government grants to spin doomsday tales about evil American businesses causing a climate Armageddon as an excuse to ramp up taxes on all factors of production to fuel an out-of-control Leftist-liberal government grown too big to fail?

  45. “That’s where the warm-side betters have been cleaning-up! Climate-change skeptics, not so much, eh? ;) :smile: :grin: :lol: :!: ,

    Fan, Do they have a drooling emoticon? If so, may I suggest it would be a most apt addition to your almost unbelievably ridiculous posts.

  46. Willis Eschenbach

    Thanks, johanna. You say:

    I grant that in the case cited the task that every parent has faced forever would be more challenging than is usual. Still, when my father (who is still alive) was growing up, commercial air travel was in its infancy and computers and space travel were unheard of. He has not only adapted to them, he understands them and loves them with a passion!

    Your father started from a position of being a presumably educated member of an industrialized country.

    Like you, my dad used to tell me about the iceman delivering ice to their house. Going from an iceman bringing ice for your icebox to having a refrigerator in the modern world is a big step, as you point out with your example of computers and space travel. Our society has changed, and we have changed with it.

    But going from a pre-literate, semi-nomadic society to a modern point-of-view is a big step. As the Sheikh points out, it takes education to prepare the boys and girls in that world for employment and full involvement and opportunity in the modern economy.

    At least, that’s how I understand his words, but I’m probably the wrong guy to ask, since I’m neither an Emir nor an Arab … nor am I all that United, now that I think about it …



  47. “how smart are we really? if all those dudes that invented and run most of our modern technology suddenly disappeared, would you be able to get the lights back on?” Joe Rogan

  48. It isn’t stated explicitly, but clearly the scenarios being considered do not include the the possibility that the next few decades will be of global cooling.
    That’s not very smart.

    The Arctic has had warmer temperatures many decades ago, and it also experiences rapid warming and cooling of the order of 3 to 4 degrees in a short time. It’s not related to carbon dioxide levels, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Natural cycles will keep control of things in the long run.

    It’s good to see mention of the 60 year cycle in an article on WUWT (19 Nov), for when that cycle was rising in the 30 years before 1998-99 it was the cause of all the alarm. As a co-author of this article published today you will see that I believe all climate change can be explained by natural cycles. There is a longer-term cycle of about 1,000 years which will ensure 500 years of cooling. probably starting within 50 to 200 years.

    The real “big picture” referred to is the fact that nothing unnatural is going to make a dent on the massive amount of energy stored not only in the ocans and crust, but all the way down to the core. To bring about a significant, long-term warming (or cooling) in surface temperatures (even within a few thousand years) there would have to be an impossible flow of energy into out out of the whole Earth system.

    The stabilising mechanism has nothing to do with the very low terrestrial heat flow: rather it has to do with the temperature which has been established over a billion years or more. So, if you question the brief mention of such in the above article, this page of explanation may help you follow the argument.

    • Doug Cotton

      The Arctic has had warmer temperatures many decades ago, and it also experiences rapid warming and cooling of the order of 3 to 4 degrees in a short time

      There are many studies, which confirm that it was warmer earlier this century, with a rate of warming that was also greater, but I always like to look at actual physical data.

      We have a temperature record at Illulissat, Greenland (near the mouth of the Jacobshavn Glacier) that goes back over 100 years.

      I’ve taken the trouble to download and plot this:

      It shows exactly what you have written.


  50. Yes Max – there are also some plots half way down my Home page.

  51. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Willis Eschenbach’s  describes his personal reasoning process: “When somebody starts talking about the grandchildren and the future generations and the new world, my urban legend detector starts ringing loud and clear …”

    Willis Eschenbach, the list of distinguished, foresighted conservative scientists and conservationists who have argued strongly against with your post’s “detector” includes (or has included) America’s Founders and Framers, Jane Goodall, Wendell Berry, James Hansen, Ed Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Pope Benedict, and all the hunting-and-fishing folks at Season’s End.

    So perhaps it would be instructive to consider, Willis, the possibility that what you personally experience as the internal “ringing” of an “urban legend detector” reflects no process of rational cognition, but rather is an instance of the non-rational process that cognitive scientists call “denial”?

    One way to explore this hypothesis of cognitive bias, would be to post the finest available exemplars of reasoned arguments that reject “talking about the grandchildren and the future generation.”

    That is why links to your favorite exemplars of reasoned-yet-short-term climate-change analysis would be a welcome contribution to the public discourse, Willis! \rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\boldsymbol{\,\ddot\smile\,}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\boldsymbol{\,\heartsuit\,}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\boldsymbol{\,\ddot\smile\,}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    Not everyone insists upon thinking exclusively about the short-term future, you know! In fact, plenty of folks (including the above-mentioned list) in effect regard a unilateral insistence upon short-term analysis as a pathognomonic sign of denialist cognition. And this is a reasonable assumption, eh?

    • Fanny

      Willis and Johanna are correct on this one.

      “Saving the great-great-grandchildren” is as ludicrous a proposition as “saving the polar bears” or (even more stupid) “saving the planet”.

      And when this is evoked, it’s time to hold on to your wallet (and read the fine print).


  52. Freeman Dyson has pointed out that technology forecasts of more than ten years are practically impossible. I think he used the example of a late-nineteenth century science-policy type trying to imagine the best research strategy for making music more accessible. He pointed out that that individual would be likely to invest in superior player-pianos but not likely to put money into the research on electromagnetism that eventually led to radio and recording devices.

    Much the same holds for long-term economic forecasting, but I’ll take a cut at it here. In the long run, much of the economic growth of developed economies is likely to involve less energy-intensive sectors because of demand-side factors such as 1) the amount of stuff people can physically manage is limited (even with rented storage space), 2) migration to areas where the weather is more moderate will continue, 3) increased urbanization and population density reduces energy consumption per capita, 4) there is a lot of running room to decrease the energy consumption of our electronic devices (e.g., switching to clockless microprocessors, not that I’m predicting that specific innovation), 5) telecommunication will substitute for transportation on the margin, 6) cheaper and better data acquisition and processing will enable less wasteful routing and warehousing of material goods, and 7) aging populations will eventually reduce the total amount (local plus distant) of travel per person per year.

    These long-term forces will tend to slow the outward shift of the demand curve for energy of all types as GDPs grow. Regardless of one’s estimate of the long-run supply elasticity of energy production, these trends will inhibit both price increases and quantity increases. With a low supply elasticity, prices will go up more and quantities less, while the reverse will be true with a high supply elasticity, but the trend toward lower energy intensiveness per dollar of GDP will continue even in the absence of any regulatory constraint on the energy sector. (Aggressive policies aimed at coercing an even faster decrease in energy intensiveness may be imposed, in which case the standard of living will be less than it otherwise would be, but unless these policies are truly draconian the contours and structure of the economy will not be greatly changed.)

    If this forecast is correct, it will take a long time or big technological innovations on the production side to induce large-scale fossil-fuel production from high-cost areas such as the Arctic Ocean, regardless of sea-ice conditions. Corporations dabbling up there are either a) foresightedly experimenting, effectively buying call options on Arctic production in the event it turns out to be a lot cheaper than expected, or b) inappropriately covering their managers’ butts by hedging against the small possibility that Arctic production will be economic while they are left out of the party.

    • Well said, Steve, and that is precisely why all the emotional blackmail about “our grandchildren” is such a sleazy and duplicitous lie.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      stevepostrel posts  “Freeman Dyson has pointed out that technology forecasts of more than ten years are practically impossible.”

      LOL …

      (1) no citation is given,

      (2) the quoted passage is out-of-context,

      (3) the assertion itself is wrong-on-the-facts, and

      (4) climate forecasts are *not* technology forecasts.

      Were it not for these four egregious errors, your post’s claims would be superficially plausible, stevepostrel! \rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\ddot\smile\,\heartsuit \,\ddot\smile\,\heartsuit \,\ddot\smile\,\heartsuit}\,\rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

  53. 1. Googling “Freeman Dyson pianola” quickly yields his 1974 essay (reprinted in the 1992 collection From Eros to Gaia–I highly recommend that book) “The Hidden Cost of Saying No” which includes this passage:

    “In each case two stubborn facts of life make it difficult for political authorities to reach wise decisions. The two facts are the unpredictability of technology and the inflexibility of bureaucratic institutions. Technology has always been, and always will be, unpredictable. Whenever things seem to be moving smoothly along a predictable path, some unexpected twist changes the rules of the game and makes the old predictions irrelevant. Quantitative factors that are predictable are outweighed by qualitative factors that are unpredictable. To take an example from the past, which I owe to Leon Cooper, a nineteenth-century development program aimed at the mechanical reproduction of music might have produced a superbly engineered music box or Pianola, but it would never have imagined a transistor radio or subsidized the work of Maxwell on the physics of the electromagnetic field which made the transistor radio possible.”

    The ten-year idea comes from Dyson’s chapter “Quick is Beautiful” from his Infinite in All Directions (1988). He points out that industries or businesses that rely on plans longer than five years tend to get tripped up by fundamental changes in demographics, economy, or technology. He gives examples from the nuclear power industry, where he had direct experience, but he discusses other businesses as well.

    2. It’s a blog comment–how much context do you need? Anyone familiar with Dyson’s work would know that he has consistently and repeatedly argued for an ecology of projects in science and technology in which small, quick, nimble efforts dominate. It’s practically an obsession with him. One of his main arguments is that long-term, large-scale projects tend to get overtaken by events, including technological events, while tying up resources that could have gone to more modest and attainable incremental efforts. (I’ll let slide the hypocrisy of getting such a complaint from you, of all people.)

    3. Your link has no obvious relevance nor does it seem to provide a warrant for the claim that I am “wrong on the facts.”

    4. Very astute! But policy and economic forecasts about the exploitation of the Arctic depend much more on the development of technology and economy than they do on climate. That’s why the bulk of my comment, which you either did not read or comprehend, is about trying to forecast the demand for energy over the long term.

    5. You should have attacked me for contradicting myself by trying to make a long-run prediction when I just said that it’s very hard to do that over more than a decade. But you’re a very poor debater, so you missed that one. Can you guess what my responses to this argument that you missed would have been?

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      StevePostrel claims  “Your link [link here] has no obvious relevance nor does it seem to provide a warrant for the claim that I am “wrong on the facts.””

      The link was to a 1955 study of future technologies sponsored by Fortune magazine; the full reference is

      Author = {J. Von Neumann},
      Booktitle = {The Fabulous Future: America in 1980},
      Pages = {33--48},
      Publisher = {E. P. Dutton {\&} Company},
      Title = {Can we survive technology?},
      Year = 1955}

      These rock-solid conservatives foresaw in 1955:

      (1) Nuclear power’s inherent dangers would greatly slow its acceptance and greatly increase its price.

      (2) That coal-oil-gas would therefore be a mainstay of the energy economy for decades to come.

      (3) That in consequence, CO2-induced AGW would “Merge each nation’s affairs with those of every other, more thoroughly than the threat of a nuclear or any other war would have done.”

      Not too shabby (in regard to accurary) are these 1995 predictions, eh StevePostrel?

      Moreover, the author of the last quote was none other than Freeman Dyson’s own colleague, John von Neumann. So there’s not much excuse for Dyson’s unawareness of this, is there?

      As for the link … well it appears that denialists have started asking Google to block my scholarly links (just as they have asked Judith to block my friendly smilies).

      Over the long run, we can confidently foresee that denialist efforts to block open discourse are entirely futile, of course!  \rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\ddot\smile\,\heartsuit \,\ddot\smile}\,\rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

  54. Fan: Why do you persistently ignore the thrust of other people’s comments in order to make irrelevant nitpicks? When you are accused of trolling, that’s what people have in mind. In a debate, when you ignore a point you are assumed to have conceded it, so would I be correct to believe that you agree with me about the likely future path of energy intensiveness per dollar of GDP?

    Also, why do you become so agitated over arguments from authority and who said what? I cited Dyson to give credit to his contribution, not to invoke his authority (I”m not sure that he either has any or seeks any; he’s always tried to persuade others through argument and pointed out his lack of any degree beyond the undergraduate). The fact that Dyson is a polymath who is much smarter than either of us about technical matters ought not to concern you if you want to disagree with him. Similarly, von Neumann’s seemingly superhuman brilliance didn’t make him an oracle. He favored a first nuclear strike on the Soviet Union in the 1950s; he failed to realize that chaos would make long-term weather predictions impossible; his variable-sum game-theory solution concept proved unworkable and useless.

    On the substance, your ignorance of Dyson’s history on global warming is astonishing. He was writing about it back in the 1970s as something that we had to think about. He studied it fairly intensively. Unlike the Urgent Mitigationists, however, he concluded that we know far too little about whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing to justify panic, and, along with von Neumann, always considered the possibility that weather modification might be the optimal response.

    Finally, pointing to an occasional correct prediction (which the vNM one you cite is certainly not, at least not yet) does not redeem the project of long-term projection of technology. Jeanne Dixon got a lot of publicity for seeming to predict JFK’s assassination, but all the other things she wrongly predicted ought to be entered into the account before endorsing astrology.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      StevePostrel I  cited  cherry-picked Dyson to  give credit to his contribution  invoke his authority, not to  invoke his authority  give credit to his contribution .

      Perhaops yah wrote it backwards, StevePostrel? \rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\ddot\smile\,\heartsuit \,\ddot\smile}\,\rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      Seriously, all the chapters in the 1955 text The Fabulous Future: America in 1980 are well-worth reading … these works will substantially enhance anyone’s appreciation of how strikingly accurate the predictions of scientists, engineers, statesmen, *and* sober-minded business folks can be!

      Cherry-picked Dyson quotes (just like cherry-picked Al Gore quotes), not so much, eh? \rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\ddot\smile\,\heartsuit \,\ddot\smile}\,\rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.0ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}.

  55. I sure hope this intellectually dishonest style is not how you conduct yourself in your normal academic role. What’s particularly juvenile about it is that the flaws in your posturing are so visible.

    Once again, you ignore the substantive points in my comment–effectively conceding them to any neutral observer. So now you’ve conceded not only that my energy-intensiveness forecast is likely correct, but that arguments from authority are pointless here and that your favored oracles are no more likely to be correct than anyone else’s. OK, I’m glad we agree about future energy demand and the pointlessness of citing von Neumann’s 1955 opinions as authority for anything.

    Then, you accuse me of cherry-picking Dyson. Uh, no. Anyone who’s read Dyson’s books–Disturbing the Universe, Infinite in all Directions, The Sun and the Genome, Eros and Gaia–would recognize that I have accurately represented his sensibility.

    In fact, your warmist cohorts (and perhaps you, I don’t remember) have attacked Dyson precisely on the grounds that he’s an out of date denialist (he isn’t, of course) because of his heterodoxy on climate change issues. You need to get your story straight if you want to remain addicted to arguments from authority.

  56. 30 years of satellite observations is barely long enough to establish a trend. But, what sort of a trend? What is the baseline used?

    Alarmists continue to claim that the current situation in the Arctic is unprecedented. Historical and empirical evidence be damned.

    This link should be enough to justify calling the alarmists pap BS.

    There, I said it: BS.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Paddylol claims  This [cherry-picked, wholly anecdotal] link should be enough to justify calling the alarmists pap BS. There, I said it: BS.

      LOL … cherry-picked anecdotes convince no rational folks, eh Paddylol? \rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\frown}\,\ !?!\ \overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\frown}}\,\rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      For a rational survey of the science, try Neven’s You Do It To Your Shelf: Canadian Ice Shelves Breaking up at High Speed.

      For a rational survey of the strategic implications, try the US Navy’s Admiral David Titley: Climate Change and National Security.

      These thorough, fact-based, verifiable, fore-sighted, long-term analyses will be hugely satisfying to you, and to every other rational climate-change skeptic, eh Paddylol? \rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\ \overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\ \overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\,\rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      Happy Thanksgiving Holidays to all! \rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\ \heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\rule[2.5ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Dialog might be possible if you dealt with the points raised in my post. 30 years of satellite data is trivial when there is no baseline point of reference; and anecdotal (observations) evidence shows that an ice free North Pole is not unprecedented. Do not cite unfounded expert opinions as proof of anything scientific.

        Where is the empirical data that proves that AGW is causing ice loss in the Arctic? Model outputs prove nothing in that each run yields a hypothetical scenario based upon hypothetical assumptions. Model output are the antithesis of ” . . . fact-based, verifiable, fore-sighted, long-term analyses . . .”

        GIGO proves nothing except the extent of the odor from the particular scenario.

  57. http://i49.tinypic.com/xbfqtw.png

    which part of “up and down” are you finding it hard to follow?

    Steven Mosher | November 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    “greg, you are challenging girma and vuk for meaningless chart posting.
    You might the award this year”

    Mosh, do you have any more intelligent observations than “meaningless” to offer. You have shown yourself to be quite astute at times but It is getting a little difficult to take you seriously any more.

  58. All based on the false presumption that CO2 is warming the Arctic. A severe Reality Collision is pending …

  59. Pingback: The coming Arctic boom | Climate Etc.