Embracing uncertainty in climate change policy (!)

We argue for a redesign of climate change mitigation policies to be ‘anti-fragile’ with respect to scientific uncertainty. – Otto et al.

A very interesting new article in Nature Climate Change:

Embracing uncertainty in climate change policy

Friederike E. L. Otto, David J. Frame, Alexander Otto and Myles R. Allen

Abstract. The ‘pledge and review’ approach to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions presents an opportunity to link mitigation goals explicitly to the evolving climate response. This seems desirable because the progression from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth to fifth assessment reports has seen little reduction in uncertainty. A common reaction to persistent uncertainties is to advocate mitigation policies that are robust even under worst-case scenarios , thereby focusing attention on upper extremes of both the climate response and the costs of impacts and mitigation, all of which are highly contestable. Here we ask whether those contributing to the formation of climate policies can learn from ‘adaptive management’ techniques. Recognizing that long-lived greenhouse gas emissions have to be net zero by the time temperatures reach a target stabilization level, such as 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, and anchoring commitments to an agreed index of attributable anthropogenic warming would provide a transparent approach to meeting such a temperature goal without prior consensus on the climate response.

Published in Nature Climate Change [link]

Extended excerpts, with embedded comments:

The primary reasons for the slow progress in global mitigation policy are not scientific. They are strategic — economic and political barriers to action arising from weak incentives to mitigate and strong incentives to free-ride on the efforts of others, internationally and inter-generationally. To be successful, a climate change mitigation policy not only has to overcome those economic and political barriers, but also has to withstand and adapt to other external pressures that originate from shifts in the economy (for example, ‘austerity’) and political interests (for example, ‘climate scepticism’). Attempts have been made to design policies that are more robust to these external pressures, for example, by attempting to find ways for regulators to credibly commit both themselves and their successors in an environment of changing power structures, locking in certain policies through institutional design, capitalizing on emergent government structures  and self-reinforcing effects of certain policies.

Connecting these lines of thought to those of adaptive management and the governance of complex systems, here we argue for a redesign of climate change mitigation policies to be ‘anti-fragile’ with respect to scientific uncertainty. Anti-fragile means that uncertainty and changes in scientific knowledge make the policy more successful by allowing for trial and error at low societal costs. Hence, anti-fragile re-design allows the incorporation of a wider range of risks of concern to policymakers, potentially allowing more successful mitigation policies.  Arguably, a key pre-requisite for an anti-fragile climate policy is an index not beholden to high scientific uncertainty. Here we suggest ‘attributable anthropogenic warming’ as an anti-fragile index against which pledges could be reviewed, independent of the details of individual countries’ mitigation policies.

Precautionary mitigation policies

The predominant approach to the design of climate mitigation policies refers to the precautionary principle, embedded in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As any climate policy has the joint goals of enabling continued human development while staying within the boundaries posed by the limitations of the climate system, a trade-off between these goals has to be struck.

In the context of climate change, by far the most discussed structure pertaining to the cost-effectiveness approach is the 2°C goal adopted by the UNFCCC in Cancun. A substantial body of research into how we might achieve successful management of the climate change problem has focused on meeting the agreed 2°C target — an approach that is especially common among physical climate scientists researching the problem.

JC comment:  My concerns with the  2°C target are discussed in Politics of the 2C target and Challenging the 2C target.

First, minimizing the risk of high damages requires a huge and immediate mitigation effort that is too demanding of communities with multiple priorities. Second, by focusing on the upper tail of the distribution of possible future warming, the required mitigation effort for meeting the climate target becomes very sensitive to the upper bound of the climate-system response, which is badly constrained by observations, and hence easily contested by different interest groups.

Policies invoking this interpretation of the precautionary principle can, therefore, lead to high and uncertain mitigation costs to guard against potentially high but equally uncertain impacts. They are, therefore, ‘fragile’ in the sense that uncertainty in both mitigation costs and impacts make it more difficult for any policy to be adopted, providing a strong incentive to defer decisions until these uncertain-ties are resolved. Yet, this could mean a recipe for indefinite procras-tination: some uncertainties, including the costs of mitigation and the speed at which temperatures respond to falling emissions, may only be resolved after substantial mitigation efforts are already under way. The potentially paralysing impact of uncertainty becomes particularly acute if rational fears of over-mitigating combine with the politics of special interests to create additional pressures on negotiations.

In view of these issues, we argue that an approach that (a) is less beholden to the contestable tails of climate distributions, (b) more fully accounts for the set of risks governments care about, and (c) is less dependent on a globally binding mandate, may be a better way of preserving flexibility in climate mitigation. There are many currents of thought associated with adaptive management, resilience and more recently ‘anti-fragility’ that argue for a more iterative approach to the management of complex problems. Although these approaches are usually associated with environmental or natural resource management or, when in the field of climate change, responses to climate change and adaptation strategies , we argue that some of this thinking could be constructively used in mitigation strategies, too. Basing strategy on more robust statistical properties, such as median estimates of both climate impacts and mitigation costs, reduces dependence on contestable tails of these distributions.

JC comment:  I agree with their general framing of this.  However, I don’t think that focusing on the median versus the tail really helps, given the uncertainties.

To be credible, however, such a policy must also adapt to new scientific findings in a predictable way that itself minimizes the risk of unacceptable outcomes, such as a sudden and precipitate revision in mitigation pathway, and avoids placing an intolerable burden on future decision-makers. Simply stating that policies will be revised in the light of new evidence is insufficient: some constraints are needed on the scale of these revisions if policies are to be used as a basis for investment.

Flexible policies have been advocated before that internalize costs of emission-externalities contingent on observed climate states and thus adjust to new information about the uncertain climate response to emissions. Policies that automatically adjust expenditures or efforts on the basis of some numerical parameter (usually consumer prices) are commonplace. Indexing makes it easier for politicians to commit to long-term stability than might otherwise be the case if explicit assent were required for every policy adjustment. It can also help create a normative aura around policies if they are seen to reflect an underlying fairness in the indexing.

An index of anthropogenic warming

A number of features are desirable in the index variable: first, it should be clearly relevant to the overall policy goal; second, it should evolve predictably to minimize short-term policy volatility; and third, it should be simple to calculate and update regularly. Since governments have already adopted the goal of limiting global aver-age warming above pre-industrial temperatures to 2°C, and recognizing that the majority of climate impacts scale more closely with this than any other readily accessible variable, an index based on global average near-surface temperature is a logical starting point.

Global temperature itself, however, is subject to natural inter-annual and interdecadal variability that would significantly increase the risks of indexing climate policy on this variable alone. Investments in energy infrastructure mature over timescales of decades. If a global carbon tax were anchored to global temperature, as proposed by McKitrick, then a large volcano or an upward fluc-tuation in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation could depress or inflate carbon prices for a decade or more. Neither is relevant to the long-term goal of limiting anthropogenic warming, but could unnecessarily bankrupt investors in either renewable or fossil energy supplies, respectively.

A more predictable variable that is also more closely tied to the overall policy goal would be an index of warming attributable to human influence:  this has been defined in terms of a weighted least-squares fit between observed temperatures and the expected temperature responses to anthropogenic and natural factors.

Estimates of attributable warming are traditionally updated in the scientific literature when new statistical methods or new simulations of anthropogenic and natural warming become available, and assessed every few years by the IPCC. This would be inappropriate for an index variable: the method of calculating the index should be subject to scientific scrutiny, but if the value of the index itself were directly dependent on scientific judgement, this would place undue pressure on the scientists making the assessment.Fortunately, when the target is net anthropogenic warming, very simple approaches based solely on global mean temperature and radiative forcing time-series give results that are statistically indistinguishable from the most complex statistical and modelling tools available. 

JC comment:  This index assumes that all climate change on relevant time scales (multi-decadal to centuries) is externally forced.  I believe this assumption to be incorrect (this issue is at the heart of the attribution argument), as it ignores internal variability (e.g. ocean oscillations on multi-decadal and longer timescales).

This index of anthropogenic warming requires no complex model calculations and can be updated as soon as new figures for annual mean temperatures and radiative forcing are released. It would have been assigned a value of 0.54°C in 1992, and has since monotonically increased by 0.37°C. The rate of increase slowed slightly after 2000 in response to the so-called hiatus in observed warming, showing how this index responds to evolving observations, but it does so sufficiently slowly that it would not compromise its use as a policy index. A plot of regression residuals shows nothing unprecedented about the past two decades.

JC comment:  I like the idea of an index variable, especially one that does not rely on global climate models.  The two choices on the table are global temperature (McKitrick’s idea) and the Otto et al. index related to external forcing. McKitrick’s index is perhaps too sensitive to natural variability while Otto et al. is too insensitive to natural variability.  Perhaps split the difference here?

Anti-fragile policies

Given the burgeoning uptake of adaptive management techniques in the climate adaptation and natural resource management domains, their absence from mitigation discussions is striking. Using the index described above (or a variant of it), a range of automatically indexed policies could be explored: here we simply outline some illustrative examples reflecting the goal of limiting anthropogenic warming to 2°C and the recognition that net emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, have to reach zero to stabilize temperatures.The simplest policy would be indexed emission reductions: countries could commit to reduce their emissions from a predetermined baseline by a fraction proportional to anthropogenic warming from the time the policy is adopted, rising to 100% when this warming reaches 2°C.

Indexing to attributable anthropogenic warming allows a transparent link between the policy instrument and the policy goal. It renders the policy ‘anti-fragile’ or ‘adaptive’ in the sense that disputes over the climate response are no longer an impediment to policy adoption. In fact, such disputes make the policy easier to adopt, as stakeholders who are convinced that future anthropogenic warming will be slower than current models predict will be reassured that the policy will ‘bite’ correspondingly more slowly, while the converse is also true for those concerned about unexpectedly rapid warming in the future. Even if climate policies directly indexed to attributable anthropogenic warming are not adopted formally, this concept provides a simple and natural way of monitoring the overall consistency between the evolving climate change signal, individual countries’ emission ‘pledges’ and the overall goal of achieving net zero emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases by the time anthropogenic warming reaches 2°C. Annual updates of anthropogenic warming, based on a simple and transparent algorithm, should be as much a part of a full suite of climate services as an annual update of global temperature.

JC comment:  I like the idea of framing climate policy in terms of anti-fragility -I raised this issue on a previous post Bouncing forward (not back).     However, ‘anti-fragile’ should not be equated with ‘adaptive’.  While adaptive is one component of anti-fragile, anti-fragility has an element of getting stronger through stress (making black swans work for you).

JC reflections

There is much to like about this paper:

  • a realistic perspective on the challenges of rapid and deep mitigation of CO2
  • emphasis on uncertainty of climate response, dangers, and social factors
  • adaptive framework whereby CO2 reductions are linked to the evolution of the climate (attributable warming)
  • framing of the climate response challenge in context of anti-fragility

The devil is of course in the details:

  • determining a credible index of anthropogenic warming that fully accounts for multidecadal and longer internal variability and solar indirect effects on the attribution of warming
  • a more sensible analysis of ‘dangerous’ climate change, beyond the arbitrary 2C target.  This requires a better impact assessment of current warming temperatures, and a better understanding of the causes of paleo sea level rise.

Otto et al. have proposed a new decision-analytic framework, with many similarities that that proposed previously by McKitrick.  The current decision-analytic framework has focused scientific research on climate sensitivity, with little scientific progress over the past several decades in narrowing the uncertainty.

This new decision-analytic framework would focus research on detection and attribution, and a better assessment of ‘dangerous’ in context of societal vulnerabilities.  This way lies progress.

387 responses to “Embracing uncertainty in climate change policy (!)

  1. The “uncertainty” is in the whole of the radiative GH forcing conjecture, because it just simply does not match with reality.

    Based on the mean flux of radiation …

    (a) The effective temperature of the Sun’s radiation reaching the surface of Earth is about -40°C. Yes, minus 40.

    (b) The effective temperature of the Sun’s radiation reaching the surface of Venus is about -140°C

    (c) The effective temperature of all the radiation from Earth’s atmosphere to its surface is about 3°C.

    Because these planets are rotating spheres, the actual mean temperature that any of the above radiation could achieve is a few degrees colder than would be achieved with uniform orthogonal flux striking a flat non-reflecting surface. The reason for this relates to the fact that the achieved temperature is only proportional to the fourth root of the flux. So, because the flux varies with the angle of incidence, flux that is above the mean achieves only a relatively small increase in temperature above that achieved by the mean flux.

    From this it is obvious that the mean temperatures of the surfaces of Earth and Venus are not achieved by direct radiation into those surfaces. Some relatively small regions on Earth may rise in temperature due to direct solar radiation, but overall, the observed global mean temperature cannot be explained by solar radiation. Atmospheric radiation would also not keep the mean temperature above freezing point (0°C) either.

    Hence we need to consider a totally different paradigm (based on entropy maximization and the laws of thermodynamics) which can and does explain the actual observed temperatures, not only for Earth and Venus, but for all planets and even the regions below any solid surface. Correct physics produces correct results that agree with data from the real Solar System.

    The breakthrough has come in this 21st Century and the science stands up to the test, being supported by copious evidence from planetary data, studies and experiments such as outlined at http://climate-change-theory.com so you will learn what is really happening if you read and study such.

    • From this it is obvious that the mean temperatures of the surfaces of Earth and Venus are not achieved by direct radiation into those surfaces.

      Unclear, but let’s accept it for now.

      Hence we need to consider a totally different paradigm (based on entropy maximization and the laws of thermodynamics)

      Why do you need a different paradigm when lapse rate alone fully explains the surface temperatures on both Earth (lapse rate of around 6.4 °C/km) and Venus (slightly higher)?

    • David Springer

      D0ug C0tt0n is that you?

  2. Nature publishing this is an encouraging development !

  3. There is also, from an economist’s perspective, much not to like in your provided excerpts (I have not yet read the paper). Sails close to the precautionary principle wind. That way lies economic stalling/heading. (Competitive sailors will understand the metaphor.)
    Yes, attribution is as/more important as sensitivity. After all, the latter is a function of the former. But that is of long term science, not immediate policy, interest. We are facing immediate policy days in Paris.
    Anti-fragility is a two edged sword. Popular notion. Look who started its fuzzy wuzzies, and what Taleb says about climate in his concept’s regard. Pure precautionary CAGW.
    Economically absurd precautionary principle in a fancy disguise. Deja view.
    So, as an economist/business guy, think there is less here than you think based on provided excerpts.
    I will read the whole thing, sleep on it, and get back with a more considered opinion.

    • Taleb doesn’t seem to understand the climate problem very well – he regards it as a ruin problem https://judithcurry.com/2015/03/30/is-climate-change-a-ruin-problem/ (nobody else seems to, other than maybe jim hansen)

      My previous posts do a better job IMO of applying Taleb’s take on precautionary principle and anti-fragility to the climate change problem, than does Taleb’s own analysis of the climate change problem

      • I think anti-fragile is becoming a buzz word. It seems Otto is using it incorrectly, perhaps encouraged by Taleb’s misunderstanding. Global warming through CO2 is itself anti-fragile: The earth has had a habitable climate at 5 times the current level of CO2. (A modest increase in temperature has a modest effect on climate). However, Global cooling would be fragile: It will be difficult to feed the current population in the colder and drier conditions of a glacial. (A modest reduction in temperature has a major effect on climate.)

        Note that I grew up near a place 6 meter below average sea level in the Netherlands. This shows that far more sea level rise can be managed than is commonly acknowledged. At a rate of just under 3 mm/y sea level rise, we have 2,000 years to build sea walls capable of accommodating a 6 meter increase. These sea walls would be equivalent to what is operational in the Netherlands today. So melting ice does not change warming from anti-fragile to fragile.

      • I am disappointed with Taleb’s recent suggestions regarding climate and GMOs. He is lost assuming a particular black swan and ignoring the opportunity costs of solutions. I don’t get it. The “Black Swan” was so good…

      • jw,

        Nassim Taleb seems to have overlooked his own claims
        in ‘The Black Swan’ and ‘Anti-fragille’ where he sees
        ‘experts’ transferring fragility ter others.and would
        welcome addressing top-down asymmetries of risk by
        applying the ancient code of Hammurabi.

        Anyone reading Taleb’s books would be aware that
        ‘experts’ and guvuh-mints are no more successful
        than individuals at predicting the fuchure, even,
        ‘experts like Paul Ehrlich, Alan Greenspan or
        Joseph Stiglitz.

    • I agree with rest an. I have two fundamental problems with the excerpts from the get go.

      First, there is no objective basis for the 2C ‘dangerous’ limit.

      Second, I do not support any policy that has net cost to society on an expected monetary value basis, and nor does 99.9% of the world’ population. We know that any policy that will raise the cost of energy will have high cost to society (i.e be net damaging). But we do not have objective evidence to show that GHG emissions will do more harm than good.

    • As ristvan implies, there are three parts to avoiding systemic fragility: correctly judging the problem and its causes, raising funds in an acceptable and productive manner, and mounting an efficient response. To be effective, all three parts must be done in an open and iterative fashion.

      As of now we are only in the earliest stages of judging the problem, funding largely by ad-hoc debits from general accounts, and utilizing piecemeal response methods that are unproven but likely have low effectiveness.

      As much as we would like to pass on a healthy planet and economy, it is far too early to make large-scale decisions on mass implementation. We must face the fact that our best policy now would be to continue research and development while we grow a healthy world economy which will be capable of funding the programs we decide are necessary when we have sufficient knowledge and buy-in.

  4. Adaptation as problems arise should do the trick. No government program is necessary.

    • I think flexibility is less confusing. There are already plenty of ridiculously expensive “solutions”. What’s needed are fiscally responsible options.

      • Capt — In a good faith request, could you provide a bullet list of your fiscally responsible options?

      • Severest why do you keep mentioning good faith, when you don’t ever practice it yourself?

      • SS does not show good faith. Period.

      • Stephen, Fiscally responsible options would be “proven” as you have a good idea of cost and performance, you can be specific, AP1000/ESBWR etc..

        Generic Solar isn’t “proven” because various types of solar are still in development, costs are changing, lifetime and maintenance are questionable. Roof top solar pv is fiscally responsible depending on the situation which would be determined by the utility and/or owner. Most solar is still “energy of the future” or only deserves research stimulus.

        Cellulose ethanol – research, energy of the future not ready for prime time.

        Natgas, fiscally responsible at twice current natgas prices.

    • Of course, if NYC want to start jacking up sky scrapers now, that would be their choice as long as we don’t have to pay for it.

      • Skyscrapers are no problem if the bottom 20 stories are open. They would be like the fire lookouts of old – on a grander scale. Imagine the pigeons!

  5. “JC comment: This index assumes that all climate change on relevant time scales (multi-decadal to centuries) is externally forced. I believe this assumption to be incorrect (this issue is at the heart of the attribution argument), as it ignores internal variability (e.g. ocean oscillations on multi-decadal and longer timescales).”

    I don’t buy it. The AMO isn’t internal variability, it is a accumulative response to changing solar wind states. Once you see that, it is easy to see that the decline in the SW since 1995 is responsible for the AMO & Arctic warming since then, and the cool mid 1970’s were when the SW was particularly strong. And when the AMO is cool, the continental interiors cool off too as they are wetter. No aerosols need apply.
    Look at the warming of the AMO/Arctic from 1925, it is a tiny bit faster than from 1995. The increase in CO2 forcing should have inhibited the warming of the AMO since 1995 be increasing positive NAO states. And it may have by a gnats whisker.

  6. The McKitrick solution of using the agreed signal of the hotspot in the
    Troposphere is simple and can easily have statistically sound bounds put on it. The Otto solution requires we separate Anthropogenic and Natural variability and we haven’t been able to do that after $B invested.

    Simple is best (McKitrick) because it is less prone to fiddling by both scientists and politicians. It also improves the likelihood that the public can understand it and vote from knowledge rather than ignorance.

  7. Can’t say I like it. It ignores too many other risks from fossil carbon.

    A better approach, IMO, would be to look for things we can to cheaply now that will foster exponential growth of industries, and markets for them, that will have a huge effect later on fossil CO2, without ever raising the price of energy significantly.

    IMO people tend to stop at the first “solution(s)” they find to a problem, without spending the effort to look farther for better ones.

    • AK — Can you provide us some bullet items of what you are referencing? (e.g., cheaply and fostering exponential growth)

      • Can you provide us some bullet items of what you are referencing? (e.g., cheaply and fostering exponential growth)

        Yes. How much sense they’d make without longer explanations is questionable, else I’d be plugging it into almost every thread here. But some examples (the most important thrust being to look for more, before trying to settle on a “solution”):

        •     Requiring an exponentially rising fraction of carbon-based fuel to be non-fossil. More:

        [… A] generally agreed percentage of fuel being required to use environmentally derived carbon (“carbon-neutral”). Suppose the required fraction starts at 0.1% (1/1000) and increases by ~25% each year. After 31 years the required fraction would be 100%.

        •     “Free” subsidies; i.e. subsidies that don’t require taking any money from current fisks. More

        So here’s what could be done: anybody who creates a prototype underwater compressed air system can be granted a large plot of ocean bottom, for future development. To keep it (analogous to homesteading in the 19th century US) the grantee must show progressive development of energy storage using the underwater area granted. As with the railroad subsidies, the underwater rights will only acquire value when the technology develops.

        •     R&D subsidies without (much) regulatory oversight. More:

        Why not allow businesses to allocate a portion of their taxes due to research of their choice, with some limited rights in the result (less than full patents, more than nothing), rather than giving it to the government to spend on congressional pork-barrels or whatever?

        These are examples of opportunities I’ve noticed but never seen discussed (except by me). They seem to me to be well “out-of-the-box”, but plausibly feasible, plausibly low-cost, with a good chance of actually doing something about the problem.

        Of course, these are only examples, and even in the linked comments, I’ve only very briefly sketched out ideas that would/will require a lot of fleshing out. But that’s a big project. I’m working on it, in my spare time, but most of my time is taken up with things I get paid for.

      • AK — I understand your 2nd & 3rd bullets as to cheaply and fostering exponential growth. My lightbulb hasn’t come on with Bullet 1. Could you give some specific examples as to cheaply on Bullet 1? Thanks.

      • @Stephen Segrest…

        I assume you read the linked comment stream. So think about the numbers. If everybody has to buy 0.5% of their fuel from somebody who produces “carbon-neutral” alternatives, and it costs 10 times as much, they’ve added 5% to their fuel costs.

        Meanwhile there’s a fairly small market for this product at that price (10X), a price sufficient to pay for new technology while it matures. As the technology matures, the price comes down, the volume it can produce goes up, and due to the nature of the legal requirement so does the market. Thus, the market can support exponential growth without adding more than maybe 2-3% to the price of electricity, 5% to fuel.

        Of course, it doesn’t really need to be the fuel itself: you could perform an alienation of actual fuel from the amount of fossil-free carbon added to the system, or sequestered to balance it.

        So, in the case of gas, for instance, somebody creating methane by using solar power to create hydrogen and CO2 from sea-water, using, say, the Navy’s new process, creates a ton of methane.

        They sell that ton into the gas distribution system, and collect 3/4 ton of carbon credits (the mass of carbon within each ton of methane). A power plant can buy those 3/4 ton credits, and use them to offset burning 200 tons of methane. (With 150 tons of carbon, thus 0.5% of the amount burned.)

        Next year, they could use those same 3/4 tons of carbon credits to offset 160 tons of methane. The year after that, 128 tons. And so on, less each year by 20%. (Equivalent to the fraction of carbon credits rising by 25% each year, either way a 4 to 5 ratio.)

        Based on the assumption that the market will grow exponentially, and the cost decline the same way, this system would nurture any and every competitive technology for converting ambient CO2 to fuel, or sequestering it (either before or after it’s converted to cellulose or other agricultural waste). They would get a high price for the small amounts they could handle at first, while the per-unit cost for energy would be very small because of the small fraction required.

        As I said in one of the linked comments, it produces a small, mandatory, high-value market, rather than a large, optional, low-value market. A carbon tax of $20/ton might have the same effect on energy prices, but anybody producing “fossil-neutral” fuel would only be able to sell it for, perhaps, 1.2 times as much as the fossil, rather than 10 times.

      • @Stephen Segrest…

        You’re welcome. It’s hard communicating these ideas sometimes.

    • Ak, that’s easy if you want to be objective. Simply advocate to remove the irrational regulatory blocks to nuclear power. But of course, you don’t like that. Your gullibility and attraction to beliefs of catastrophes prevents you taking an objective and rational approach, right?

      • Peter, I’m against “irrational regulatory blocks” to anything. The issue being the definition of “rational”.

        But I’ll point out that in the first bullet item in my response to Stephen Segrest above, given the price utilities and transport would be able to pay for fuel made from power→fuel options, it would serve as an immediate market for fuel made using nuclear power, as well as solar. It might pay better than hooking nuclear to the grid, and by the time nuclear actually becomes cost-effective (if it does), it could easily solve most of the storage problem, while avoiding sunk costs from current investments in gas and fuel technology.

        Personally, I’m very confident solar will price other nuclear out of the major markets within a couple decades, but I certainly think “we” should have as many strings to “our” bow as possible. It should be pursued, especially as there are probably many situations where it would be cost-effective even with solar PV at a ¢/watt.

      • Beta Blocker

        Peter Lang: AK, that’s easy if you want to be objective. Simply advocate to remove the irrational regulatory blocks to nuclear power.

        Peter, here in the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has gone as far as public opinion will allow it to go in removing regulatory blocks to the expansion of nuclear power.

        The only way the nuclear renaissance can be revived here in America is to force the price of natural gas to levels which will make it predictably and permanently more expensive relative to all other non-fossil energy resources.

        Unless the US Government intervenes in the energy marketplace to raise the price of carbon, nuclear power will not play an expanded role in America’s energy future.

    • It ignores too many other risks from fossil carbon.

      Can you be specific?

      • The risk of sudden, unexpected, destabilization: of the climate, the ocean, or the terrestrial ecosystems.

        All three of those are hyper-complex non-linear systems. Predicting the effect of additional CO2 on their actual behavior is very difficult: the response is not linear. Sudden changes of state are the norm. A change that takes one or more of these systems outside the limits experienced in the last few hundred million years can’t be ruled out.

      • Thanks for replying.

        My sense of ‘climate change’ as a problem is that it is ill-defined and unbounded and I’m just trying to get to what real problems we think we’re solving.

      • Dumping fossil carbon into the system produces a risk, or perhaps a set of risks (semantic quibble). We don’t really have any way to evaluate the nature or extent of the risk(s). Therefore, it behooves us to be able to stop, and reverse if necessary, the dumping problem, while studying it. That way, if our studies end up showing a fairly certain damage, we don’t have to start from scratch.

        OTOH, there are many reasons to suppose that really serious effects are low-probability, at least several decades off, or both. And nobody’s come up with a plausible “worst-case” scenario that any sort of existential risk even to civilization, much less our species. So our efforts to mitigate the risk (not the carbon, where both mitigation and remediation need to be considered) should be low-impact. At least for the moment.

        Question is, how to get the best bang for the buck?

      • “Question is, how to get the best bang for the buck?”

        The answers are likely to conflict in different nations.

      • The answers are likely to conflict in different nations.

        Another reason to keep asking the question(s), rather than stopping with the first answer.

      • We don’t really have any way to evaluate the nature or extent of the risk(s).

        Right, so risks could be zero and the benefits ( which don’t get much coverage ) could be greater than zero.

      • Right, so risks could be zero and the benefits ( which don’t get much coverage ) could be greater than zero.

        Nope. The risks can’t be zero when you don’t know what they are. Not to you.

      • AK

        An issue is that CO2 mitigation can’t be reasonably concluded to reduce the risks of negative climate change for those paying for the actions.

      • CO2 mitigation can’t be reasonably concluded to reduce the risks of negative climate change for those paying for the actions.

        A matter of opinion. IMO it can.

  8. McKitrick’s way would allow everyone to play. The dollars lost or saved depending on how one bets on future temperatures may allow individuals to choose the answer they are happy with. People can pick a certain level of investment risk. Stock or Bonds? Why not on this issue?

    • If this were a viable market, free agents would have already implemented it. The fact it requires government intervention means it’s not a good idea.

      • +1

      • +1
        True for this and so much else

      • McKitrick’s approach is already somewhat in play. Future local rainfall amounts are predicted and infrastructure is being built to deal with the predicted amounts. Some are already taking natural variability into account with their predictions. While any tax is anti-market, we have them. We plan things to have a better chance of lowering current and future taxes. For instance, are all your investments in a 401(k)? Currently for most people, there is no worse tax treatment than the ones that applies to 401(k) withdrawals. Some changes in your investment vehicles (after tax ones are an option) might warranted driven by the taxes we don’t like.

  9. My initial reaction is that this is not particularly practical or helpful.

    This essay in Quadrant is an interesting take on the science/policy interface.

    https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2015/07-08/climate-change-scientism/

  10. How is this supposed to be implemented?
    For example you start in 2020 when there may be 1 C left in the budget. For a ten-year policy, you need to forecast the temperature change by 2030, maybe 0.2 C and the implement a 20% cut by 2030 based on that forecast. This prevents long-term planning because we don’t know how much warmer it will be in 2040 or 2050, and it could end up falling short of what is needed by not having a precise long-term goal for energy transitions.
    Much more workable for long-term planning is the idea of a global carbon budget, estimated to be about 750 GtCO2 that we can still emit for 2 C or 450 ppm. From today’s emission rates we can get there with a linear reduction of about 1 GtCO2 per year for about 40 years. This gives a more definite timeline and it is fixed without floating around. If global temperatures rises slow in a way that indicates we don’t need to cut emissions in 40 years, that can be modified, but the 1 GtCO2 per year target would hardly change, I suspect. This is net emissions, so things like reforestation count in its favor, and deforestation counts against it too. The measure of success is the ppm rise rate, and the policy can be tuned on that, as it is a more precise measure than temperature anyway.

  11. The UN et al. are using an opposite approach; Their method involves cementing policies asap in case observational data forces uncertainty out of its cage.

    It’s a huge shift and ultimately an annoyance that’ll fizzle out faster than a Higgs boson.

  12. Steven Mosher

    Skeptics have an opportunity.
    Accept for the sake of argument that cagw is true.

    Your alternative solution?
    Go!

    • This paper will hopefully be viewed favorably by many skeptics (me is one)-no change in climate, no mitigation.

      • This paper will hopefully be viewed favorably by many skeptics . . . .
        Not me, not until the engineering of mitigation has models that support cost-benefit trade studies. We are a long way from that and this blog active members don’t seem to know what such engineering modelling entails.

      • Philip Lee,

        +1

    • Don’t know if I want to claim the label skeptic or not but here’s an answer Stephen (better than denier label though- thanks). . Rud and I are developing a column arguing that different areas have different resources, drivers and capabilities so that most “solutions” are not universally applicable but must fit specific areas. For the U.S. a very promising alternative solution to alternative energy would be to focus on what we can do with natural gas near to midterm. Our efforts at renewables are just consuming more energy than they produce in the short term. But we have cut our CO2 emissions with natural gas ( while Germany raised theirs with solar) even though “policy” did not give it a favored position and imposed barriers in many cases,

      • Sorry “Steven” no name change intended.

      • Looking down and seeing Peter Lang it occurs to me that you could do a gas nuclear mix for much less than the current plans calling for so much renewables. Also if we are balancing risks (thinking outside the box) nuclear plants could be built for significantly less money if we were not disproportionately risk averse to nuclear. If CO2 is extremely risky we can take more risks when mitigating against it and get a net gain.

      • PE,

        If you and Rud want to suggest policies that can substantially reduce global GHG emissions by mid century, can I urge you to present the case for removing the regulatory burden that is making nuclear power unviable? We know that 80% nuclear is viable and works in France, a large modern industrialised economy! It provides near least cost electricity in Europe and reduces the emissions intensity of electricity system by 90%. So, why dodge the objective reality. Why not confront it and explain it.

        Could I urge you to look at slide 10 in the presentation here and also read my comment that starts “Steven,” here: http://canadianenergyissues.com/2015/01/07/fight-carbon-why-alara-should-become-the-leading-principle-of-electric-power-generation-infrastructure-planning/ (it’s the ninth comment from the top of the comments).

      • PE we were writing our comments at the same time. I hope you can take a moment to look at slide 10, and also slide 14, in the presentation and my comment I referred to in the link I provided above.

      • Peter -two seconds after I hit the Post key, I figured you would get on me for not throwing nuclear in as well as gas. Funny that on opposite sides of the world we had the same thoughts at the same time. I can not see your slide 11, the link did not come through.

        Between nuclear and gas the battle as to which is better is really a question of what you take as a given and what you see as the more pragmatic approach from that given. From my perspective it’s easier to remove the obstacles to gas, but that’s my view of the world we live in nothing about the technology or potential. Clearly nuclear could be more competitive if the burdens on it were eased. I wouldn’t argue either perspective as wrong.

      • aplanningengineer:

        …a very promising alternative solution to alternative energy would be to focus on what we can do with natural gas near to midterm.

        I look forward to your column. It seems to me that the comparative ease of adding gas units (peaker or baseload) compared to nuke units (and when will we solve the political issue with spent fuel?) weighs heavily in their favor for the foreseeable future.

      • PE,

        The link is opening for me. Scroll down to the embedded presentation, then go forward to slide 10 and then to slide14.

        Regarding gas v nuclear, I advocate the least cost electricity. However, I say to those who are concerned about GHG, if they want to reduce global GHG emissions substantially, they will need to advocate to get the impediments to nuclear removed. If they don’t allow these impediments to be removed little can be achieved towards meeting their GHG reduction goals.. Nuclear is by far the least cost way to substantially reduce GHG emissions. However, if it isn’t cheaper than fossil fuel fired electricity it will not displace fossil fuel electricity generation globally. That’s my argument. I am looking at the 50 to 100 year time frame for nuclear to largely replace coal for electricity, not just the next two to three decades.

    • Steven, what you are advocating is to make up a straw man and then build an argument for costly policy to address it. But first we need a persuasive case that cage is true. Please present the persuasive case for the “C”.

      Go!

      • Steven Mosher

        here is what you fail to realize.

        In the absence of an alternative theory, skeptics lose.
        Having lost the debate, you now have a chance to construct a less
        painful solution. When you walk away from that opportunity,
        you lose to the pen and the phone.

        The RIGHT answer for you would have been to DETAIL how nuclear
        could save the planet and the economy.

        Dont make me think for you again, or it will look like plagarism when you make this argument in the future

      • What is it that you say I need to invent an alternative theory to explain?

      • You didn’t answer my question. What is it you say I need to invent a theory to explain?

      • “In the absence of an alternative theory, skeptics lose.”

        Theory: Alien space craft that are invisible to all our instruments will attack and destroy the earth in the year 2030.
        Now, unless you have an alternative theory, you lose and we must devote our budget to giant space canons.

        Or accept that sometimes it’s okay to say “prove it.”

      • Now, unless you have an alternative theory, you lose and we must devote our budget to giant space canons.

        That would be true given your hypothesis of no alternative theory. However in this case there’s a fine alternative theory: there are no hostile aliens in Earth’s foreseeable future. This theory has a very simple argument for it. There’s been no sign of such for billions of years, making it highly improbable that they’d show up at any point in the next 15 years, far too unlikely to justify spending even one millionth of our budget against that remote possibility. This is a much better theory than that of your example for that reason.

      • However in this case there’s a fine alternative theory: there are no hostile aliens in Earth’s foreseeable future. This theory has a very simple argument for it. There’s been no sign of such for billions of years, making it highly improbable that they’d show up at any point in the next 15 years, […]

        Wrong!

        They only care about “intelligent” species, which they define as producing coherent radio waves. So your sample is only a century or so.

        Not only that, but we don’t know how far away they placed their sensor, so how long a time to expect between when our “civilization” started producing coherent radio waves, and when they notice them.

        They might show up any day!!!!

      • Or maybe they showed up in the ’70’s, and started the “global warming” movement. Making us destroy ourselves is easier than spending ammunition on us.

      • I think you may be wrong about the aliens. You realize Obumble’s birth certificate is in dispute … don’t you?

      • @AK: Wrong! They only care about “intelligent” species, which they define as producing coherent radio waves. So your sample is only a century or so.

        Great caricature, AK, thanks for that. The “Wrong!” instead of “Here’s an even better theory” is spot on.

    • If CAGW is true, it’s already too late for prevention, so what is needed is massive deregulation to allow local adaptation actions to flourish, decided upon and acted out as close to the individual level as possible. Free people to sort themselves out.

      Mind you, I also think we should do this anyway, CAGW or not.

    • Hysterics have an opportunity.
      Accept for the sake of argument that cagw is false.

      • Steven Mosher

        Simple: do nothing.
        your turn.

        You guys punted the ball when it came to giving an alternative theory
        Now U punt when offerred the chance for an alernative solution.

        Dont whine when a bad solution is crammed down your throat.

      • Simple: do nothing.
        your turn.

        Sorry – won’t proceed on a false premise.

      • Dont whine when a bad solution is crammed down your throat.

        People are irrational and democracies do stupid things.

      • Mosher, you are making this way too complicated. Easy peasy. The alternative theory is that mechanisms involved in the Roman Warm Period and MWP are at play now and the alternative solution is to do what humans did during the aforementioned warm periods. Nothing! If one believes in natural variability and discounts CAGW, who cares about the rest. You have worked yourself into a lather for nothing.

      • @TE: Sorry – won’t proceed on a false premise.

        Thereby passing up a great opportunity to make your point, whatever it might be.

        If you know P is false then you have not-P. So if you take P as a premise you have not-P and P, from which your point follows. Along with its negation but hopefully no one will notice if you obfuscate your reasoning sufficiently.

        “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

        Emerson was more of a libertarian than a logician.

      • You guys punted the ball when it came to giving an alternative theory
        Now U punt when offerred the chance for an alernative solution.

        I hope you’re not including me in that “U punt

    • “Accept for the sake of argument that cagw is true.”

      So much for science. Who knew it could be this easy?

      Andrew

      • Steven Mosher

        The debate is over.
        You lost.

        Take this opportunity to propose an alternative solution.
        or live with the pen and the phone.

      • “The debate is over.
        You lost.”

        Steve – You writing something does not make it true and in this case you are obviously wrong. The debate is over what policies should be implemented. There is no consensus on this issue- the debate continues.

      • “Take this opportunity to propose an alternative solution.”

        OK. My solution is to have unreasonable AGW salestrolls like you go do something productive with their lives instead of wasting our time.

        Can do?

        Andrew

      • Mosher,

        Your alternate theory line is getting very, very tiring. That is on top of the fact it is a garbage line to begin with.

        One doesn’t need an alternative theory. In fact one can except the current theory and then point out all the many ways people have f’d it up.

        As in:

        Made an assumption about water vapor with no idea of the processes actually in play. (Alternate assumption – the total effect of water vapor may be mildly positive to slightly negative rather than a 3x positive factor.)

        Made an assumption that CO2 is the dominant anthropogenic factor impacting temperature. (Alternate assumption – land use changes play a significant role.)

        Made an assumption that natural variability was a minor to non-factor. (Alternate assumption – natural variability is non-trivial and can amplify or mask the temperture signal.)

        Made the assumption that even a 2C rise in temperatures will have significant consequences, all of which will be bad. (Alternate assumption – 2C will have consequences, some bad and some good, almost all of which will happen at a rate that can be dealt with.)

      • Steven thinks his line about ‘the debate is over, sceptics lost’ is clever. It isn’t.

        What he hasn’t noticed is that both sides lost. Global warming is no longer a scientific issue, it has become purely political.

      • @timg56: One doesn’t need an alternative theory. In fact one can except the current theory and then point out all the many ways people have f’d it up.

        In the following I’ll take “people” to refer to the most recent contributors to the topics you raise.

        Made an assumption about water vapor with no idea of the processes actually in play. (Alternate assumption – the total effect of water vapor may be mildly positive to slightly negative rather than a 3x positive factor.)

        Berkeley’s David Romps has a recent (2014) very detailed analysis of water vapor and its contribution to rising temperature at

        http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00255.1

        Your proposed alternative to Romps’ theory is devoid of any analysis whatsoever and is nothing but completely unsupported conjecture.

        Made an assumption that CO2 is the dominant anthropogenic factor impacting temperature. (Alternate assumption – land use changes play a significant role.)

        This doesn’t even make sense. The impact of human-caused land use changes is on CO2, which you’re proposing as an alternative to human-caused CO2. If you meant that land-use changes had a bigger impact on atmospheric CO2 than human-caused emissions of CO2, the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center estimates the former as around 15% of the latter.

        Made an assumption that natural variability was a minor to non-factor. (Alternate assumption – natural variability is non-trivial and can amplify or mask the temperture signal.)

        This is a fair alternative based on experience to date. That natural variability of climate is of a similar amplitude to climate variability attributable to CO2 variation is, at least superficially, a reasonable observation about 20th century climate. For example it is often pointed out that the rise during 1970-2000 is about the same as that during 1910-1940 (the superficiality is in neglecting the absence of a comparably large decline from 1940 to 1970).

        If however the exponentially increasing excess CO2 (excess over 280 ppmv) continues well into the 21st century, aka the RCP8.5 concentration pathway, then climate variability (CV) attributable to CO2 (CV-CO2) in the 21st century (CV-CO2-21) will considerably exceed CV-CO2-20. CV-CO2-21 can therefore only remain masked by CV-NAT-21 if one or both of the following turns out to be the case: (i) CV-NAT-21:CV-NAT-20 grows like CV-CO2-21:CV-CO2-20, and/or (ii) CV-CO2-20 was much less than CV-NAT-20.

        Arguments for either (i) or (ii) would be needed to support your alternative theory.

        (Sorry about the abbreviations, but expanding them out into English seemed to make it less readable than more.)

      • Steven Mosher

        tmg

        “Your alternate theory line is getting very, very tiring. That is on top of the fact it is a garbage line to begin with.

        One doesn’t need an alternative theory. In fact one can except the current theory and then point out all the many ways people have f’d it up.”

        #########################

        1. My argument is NOT that you need an alternative theory.
        2. My argument is that skeptics are not taken seriously
        because they dont have one.

        Pretty simple.

        you join the ranks of many denizens who do not get this argument.

        I offer you two choices

        A) be a mere critic
        B) criticize and replace the theory with a better one.

        which do you choose.

        I bet you choose B as the better choice.

        with the worlds economy at stake from bad climate policy one can only wonder why so many skeptics choose path A.

      • @SM: The debate is over. You lost.

        I can’t think of anywhere that this is true. It’s obviously false where the debate is ongoing, such as climate blogs and their supporting literature. Elsewhere, such as mainstream geophysics conferences, peer-reviewed journals focused on advancing our understanding of atmosphere and ocean, and blogs like RC, the debate never began.

    • Accept for a moment that gravity is only 1/6th of the current acceleration. How would our transportation system change?
      Go!

    • Steve asks– “Accept for the sake of argument that cagw is true.”

      My response-It order to accept the concept of CAGW and make plans for government policy additional information would be necessary to bound what was being planned to protect against.

      What government are we theoretically making plans for? You need to know the conditions (economically, politically, and environmentally) in order to make reasonable plans.

      Details are important Steve

      • Steven Mosher

        assume current US details.
        Go

      • Steve–again details are important. What level of US government are you asking to see “draft plans” for– Federal, State local. Where?

      • Steven Mosher

        Start with national.
        Pretend you have a pen and a phone
        Or step aside and let those who need less detail run your life.

        Question and delay is not a thread winning strategy.
        Go

      • Mosher, “Question and delay is not a thread winning strategy.
        Go”

        The majority of the US reduction in CO2 emissions will be due to natural gas thanks to fracking which was opposed by the warm and fuzzies and improved efficiency of nuclear reactors thanks to business as usual.

        Since the beginning of the “questioning and delay”, more has been accomplished without regulation, carbon tax or signing “protocols” than with and the potential for “catastrophic” impacts reduced with more reliable data.

        When you are dealing with ideological idjits, questions are a prefect strategy. Now we just can chuckle while they try and take credit.

      • I could be wrong, Capt, but what I am hearing Mosher saying (repeating over and over again) is to successfully implement (concrete and steel constructed on dirt and wired to the grid) the gas and (IMO) ultra-clean coal bridge to intrinsically safe, non-proliferation nuke, you need to sell that as the Republican alternative to the commie command and control solution that many fear. Otherwise, bend over.

        e.g, Realpolitik

      • Horst, Mosher isn’t really saying anything. You don’t need an alternate theory to maintain business as usual. You need a compelling theory with real evidence to change business as usual. The Clean Air Act is business as usual. New technology and improved efficiency is business as usual. Poorly considered mandates and overly restrictive regulations are not business as usual.

        Republicans can if they, like lay claim fracking and nuclear efficiency increases which are both due to less regulation not more. There are plenty of examples of where the liberal “enlightened” opposed both. The do nothing delayers accomplished more than the scardicrats by letting the system work.

      • Steve writes– “Start with national.” “Question and delay is not a thread winning strategy.”

        My response- You do seem to frequently write things as if they were facts when in fact they are no more than your opinion. At a US federal level I would suggest:

        Looking at issues that are of the highest importance to resolve for the USA in the next few years/decades. The economic health of the US and influence of the nation globally is threatened far more by economic issues than by AGW over the next few decades. Economic issues are more likely to negatively impact people’s lives in the USA than are changes in the climate.

        I would promote US energy independence as a primary goal since that is a key to US economic health. I would promote continuation of useful research into more reliable modeling of issues such as potential sea level rise and regional models depicting how the climate is likely to change in the next 20 or so years.

        I would accept (vs. advocate) an additional fuel tax but with very limited if any givebacks to lower income people. This is needed more to generate revenue than to reduce CO2 emissions.

        Overall- I would suggest maximizing “no regrets” or at least “minimum regrets policies”. At a federal level there is nothing reliable that leads me to believe that immediate action regarding CO2 is warranted. It is best to wait to learn more about the system before implementing actions that could easily conflict with long term goals.

        I’d communicate concern about the issue, but a lack of confidence that we really understand yet what will occur. IMO–State and local actions are the more important to protecting infrastructure

      • Thread WINNER

        “I could be wrong, Capt, but what I am hearing Mosher saying (repeating over and over again) is to successfully implement (concrete and steel constructed on dirt and wired to the grid) the gas and (IMO) ultra-clean coal bridge to intrinsically safe, non-proliferation nuke, you need to sell that as the Republican alternative to the commie command and control solution that many fear. Otherwise, bend over.”

      • Big Horst WINS Mosher Medal! Buries competition in graben.

    • I like how Mosher carves out his own reality with such gumption. Its an interesting tactic, although not uncommon with progressives.

    • Here is my alternative solution.

      Fund research for energy production which doesn’t produce carbon, but which is cheaper than all the hydrocarbon forms of oil, natural gas and coal.

      I am talking about cheaper nuclear, or fusion or space-based solar.

      It should be baseload (24/7 365 days a year) – not intermittent (i.e. not wind or solar).

      Short term – I would focus on building a ton of nuclear plants, to replace the coal plants as they reach end-of-life over the next 40 or 50 years.

      We ought to be able to produce nuclear power cheaper than oil, natural gas and coal.

      By the way, I would store all waste locally or perhaps regionally and I would look at building a reprocessing plant or two to recycle existing waste.

      If the new energy product is cheaper than oil, natural gas and coal it will be easy to switch.

      I would not advocate a carbon tax – which will simply make everything more expensive – which is very bad for poor people and is a very blunt instrument.

      Focus on making energy cheaper and which doesn’t produce carbon.

      However, I very seriously doubt that CAGW is true – but am willing to wait and see if I am incorrect.

      • Until Sen. Inhofe gets behind any comprehensive alternative like the one you propose above, the commie pinko plan that is currently being sold will continue to be adopted bit by bit, slowly boiling the frog until dead.

      • Horst gets my logic.

      • Actually, I take back my first response to Steven’s question. This is quite a good response.

      • Sen. Inhofe is doing that already. He and his party are removing roadblocks to gas and nuclear and preventing spending on worthless diversions.
        It’s not only an alternative plan, it’s being implemented and it’s winning the debate. We aren’t spending money on worthless diversions, Obama pats himself on the back for natural gas when it suits, the US is reducing emissions faster than Europe thanks to the gas revolution, and even the Obama administration is approving new nuclear.
        Remind me what the problem is again.

        By the way, anyone run the numbers on how many tons of CO2 emissions over the last 45 years can be attributed to the Democrats’ unscientific demonization of nuclear and fracking for gas as well as their disingenuous push for renewables and international treaties? Talk about a failed comprehensive plan!

      • By the way, I would store all waste locally or perhaps regionally and I would look at building a reprocessing plant or two to recycle existing waste.

        That’s what they do now.

        Currently, most spent nuclear fuel is safely stored in specially designed pools at individual reactor sites around the country.

        http://www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage.html
        http://www.nrc.gov/waste/incidental-waste.html

      • bedeverethewise

        I really like it Richard, I would only add one other thing.

        We should be funding research to try to turn Mosher’s smug sense of self-satisfaction into electricity. If it were possible, we could somehow insert a probe into one of his orifices and then sit him in front of a computer and have someone suggest that they have an opinion which differs from his own…. Just think of the potential. I bet we could power Las Vegas.

      • Fine answer Richard. I think Mosher and others are missing that natural gas by itself is a perfectly acceptable 40 year time range alternative to the EPA’s plan. It will provide similar or better net benefits than the clean air plan. (Plus you can fund some side activities with the extra savings if you want). Right now it’s cheaper to run natural gas combined cycle plants than existing coal plants (which often sit idle during even peak seasons). The plan is getting read of the dead weight that costs a lot but provides limited benefits. New gas (with a combined cycle) beats new coal and new nuclear even for base load conditions.

        Side activities- build nuclear, study ways to remove overly cumbersome regulatory blocks that are not cost effective to bring price down. Fund clean coal research to support the inevitable expansion of coal in China and India (because if we can help them know coal emissions a slight bit, the worldwide impacts will dwarf anything we could do hear for comparable costs. And if like with the Clean Air plan undue optimism is allowed we could research and develop processes (somewhat like Haber Bosch -which extracts nitrogen) to directly remove C02 from the air. Anyone should be able to manufacture more details, maybe push virtual conferencing to slow air travel (the original plan is not that good in all the detailsl -why does the alternative have to be?)

        But really just building CC’s like crazy is a great plan that with a plethora of alternative potential details could beat the pants off the clean air plan with it’s promotion of inadequate technology.

      • PE,

        Are their resource constraints that mean your plan for CC gas cannot substitute for coal for a century throughout the world? Will the cost of gas remain as low as it is in USA for all this time? Will that price advantage apply to all countries?

        The cost of electricity is highly sensitive to the price of gas but insensitive to the price of nuclear fuel. And gas availability and price you have in USA is not available where most of the electricity will be produced and consumed this century.

      • pe, “Fine answer Richard. I think Mosher and others are missing that natural gas by itself is a perfectly acceptable 40 year time range alternative to the EPA’s plan.”

        No, they are making the natural gas boom their own by incorporating it in the pan.

        http://www.nationalreview.com/article/419418/even-obamas-epa-now-admits-fracking-hasnt-harmed-water-supplies-jillian-kay-melchior

        Combined cycle natgas can also run as combined cycle syngas and even as combined cycle syndiesel.

        http://www.wvcoal.com/research-development/austraila-coal-to-53-per-barrel-diesel-fuel.html

        Either way you get close to twice the nominal efficiency so it is “greener”. If push comes to shove they will embrace whatever they have to in order to keep their minions happy.

      • Niels Bohr: Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

        I think the price of natural gas will rise. The US is building more LNG terminals and obviously more nat gas is being consumed in the US for electricity generation.

        Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE) continues to build out nat gas fueling stations.

        http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/08/05/clean-energy-fuels-corp-gross-margins-and-fuel-sal.aspx?source=eogyholnk0000001

        I’m sure given the current low price that more applications will be found for nat gas.

        What isn’t certain is how much more will be discovered and produced around the world.

      • Will the cost of gas remain as low as it is in USA for all this time? Will that price advantage apply to all countries?

        With a bit of clever engineering, and economies of scale, deep-sea gas pipelines operating at ambient pressure could be made very cheap. And big, reducing the repumping costs.

        That way, gas could be available at good prices and quantities anywhere there’s deep water nearby offshore.

      • What isn’t certain is how much more will be discovered and produced around the world.

        Plenty of methane hydrate clathrate on the sea-floors. Here’s another opportunity for free subsidies.

      • PE,
        “But really just building CC’s like crazy is a great plan that with a plethora of alternative potential details could beat the pants off the clean air plan with it’s promotion of inadequate technology.”

        Do you mean the EPA’s final rule the Clean Power Plan when you say clean air plan? I agree that the final EPA rule changes to encourage renewables at the expense of natural gas is a mistake.

      • Peter – TI suggested a plan for the U.S., just at the EPA plan is for the U.S. The request was not for an optimal plan or even a better plan, though I think this plan is clearly better. It it’s only an incremental change to the EPA’s plan, so what?

        It may be no more practical for Africa, India or China to follow our lead in natural gas versus following our lead with “renewables” (or nuclear for that matter.) I think the plan is good for 30 years easy, 20 would be plenty enough though. (I suspect AK is right that it will last much longer). I suspect that in a significant bridge time range we could export a lot of LNG to assist others in limiting emissions much more cost effectively than having them emulate our efforts at inadequate renewables.

      • Sorry Roger, yes Clean power not clean air.

    • Beta Blocker

      Peter Lang: If you and Rud want to suggest policies that can substantially reduce global GHG emissions by mid century, can I urge you to present the case for removing the regulatory burden that is making nuclear power unviable?

      Peter, there is little question that it is impossible for the world to greatly reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, including its reliance on natural gas, without an expanded commitment to nuclear power.

      But repeating what I said above in response to another similar comment, here in the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has gone as far as public opinion will allow it to go in removing regulatory roadblocks to the expansion of nuclear power.

      The only way the nuclear renaissance can be revived here in America is to force the price of natural gas to levels which will make it predictably and permanently more expensive relative to all other non-fossil energy resources.

      Unless the US Government intervenes in the energy marketplace to raise the price of carbon, nuclear power will not play an expanded role in America’s energy future.

      • Beta, I see it differently and so argued in essay Going Nuclear. Observational sensitivity is near half of IPCC modeled. The extreme high tail has by and large been chopped off–even Annan agrees in peer reviewed papers. So no matter what, the world has time and can use nat gas where available, or clean coal where not (guest post–washing and scrubbers for SO2, baghouses and electrostatic precipitators for fly ash, activated carbon for mercury…) for the decades needed to develop gen 4 nuclear. Gen 3 provides passive safety (e.g. Westinghouse AP1000, which China is massively building copies of). Gen 4 adds better radwaste solutions than MOX reprocessing like at Rokkasho in Japan. Safety and radwaste (plus proliferation) are IMO the general public concerns.There are several schemes based on Uranium-Plutonium and Thorium-Uranium. They all have the advantages of breeding fissionable fuel from much more abundant fertile isotopes, while much reducing radioactive waste through much more complete fission. especially for the long lived actinides. I have read credible estimates of by 80-90 percent by volume. Gates has put big money into one of these, TerraPower’s TWR. There are at least 5 other equally promising approaches highlighted in the essay. And then there is high beta fusion. Maybe even LENR (weak force Widom-Larson heavy electron theory, probably now shown in several labs, but far from commercial proof of principle.)

      • Betablocker,

        Policies that raise the cost of energy will not succeed. You can forget that idea. It is the exact opposite of what is needed.

        Your answer is conflating physical constraints with political constraints. Physical constraints are realities and cannot be changed. Political constraints can be changed by oratory and changes of group think. The change to a majority acceptance of nuclear power could happen in two terms of a good president who selects wise advisers.

        The costs of nuclear can come down by orders of magnitude over a period of many decades. All we have to do is to progressively remove the impediments we’ve imposed in ignorance. It can be done by the strokes of a pen. It can be started in the IAEA re investigating the evidence for the LNT hypothesis, then progressively raising the allowable radiation limits.

    • Steven,
      Good question. Unless I missed it (I didn’t read all the responses thoroughly) I haven’t seen a good response.

      • The funny thing is that none of them wants to engage in the fundamental job any good critical thinker loves:

        Accepting the oppositions givens and winning anyway.

        when you look it that is what Nic Lewis did.

      • David Springer

        No one “wins” an argument in the present when the deciding information is in the future. That’s what has all the warmunist imbeciles’ panties in such a bunch… you’ve convinced yourselves you can divine the future and in so doing offended the intellects of everyone who knows you can’t. For a span of a couple decades from 1980 to 2000 the trend was your friend. Now the worm has turned and it turned before all the grand schemes to form a global village singing kumbaya around a carbon neutral campfire took root. Insufferable asshats.

    • David Springer

      Steven Mosher | August 6, 2015 at 12:51 am | Reply


      Skeptics have an opportunity.
      Accept for the sake of argument that cagw is true.
      Your alternative solution?
      Go!

      Move back to the old homestead at 42N latitude, 1600’msl and never have to shovel snow again.

      Thanks for asking. You?

    • SM says “here is what you fail to realize.In the absence of an alternative theory, skeptics lose.”

      CAGW alarmists have already lost, on both observational proof and the physical proof. The paleoclimate data proves beyond 97% confidence that CO2 is not significantly different from zero as a forcing:

      http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2015/08/why-there-is-97-confidence-that-climate.html

      And the physics of the Maxwell/Clausius/Carnot/Feynman/Boltzmann/US Standard Atmosphere/International Std Atmosphere/etc. prove that the gravito-thermal 33C greenhouse effect is the only physically correct explanation of the “GHE,” and the only GH theory/model verified with millions of observations. That is why all of the giants above mathematically proved the greenhouse effect is due to mass/gravity/pressure/heat capacity only and has nothing to do with CO2 concentrations or “radiative forcing.”

    • David Springer

      Assume skeptics have already won and there’s no carbon tax, no cap & trade, and fossil fuel consumption is keeping pace with market. Go!

  13. This paper and its assumptions flies in the face of recent experience with climate predictions. The climate prediction emperor has no clothes and this mitigation parade reveals more than his bare posterior.

  14. This is another paper by climate scientists advocating for policy – something that is totally outside their area of expertise and they are wholly untrained to do.. Furthermore, their advocacy is based on their beliefs, not science. They should focus on trying to demonstrate the consequences of global warming and of reduced cooling, not on policy advocacy. They should also provide PDFs of time to and rates of the next abrupt climate change. So far we have no substantial basis for making any policy that would have net costs, as almost all of the advocated policies would have.

    • Peter Lang has saved me a post. My lasting impression was scientists looking for a policy to fit what appears to be a conclusion on policy., I.e. immediate mitigation while being more than vague on evidence for scientific detrimental effects from AGW.

    • They should focus on trying to demonstrate the consequences of global warming and of reduced cooling, not on policy advocacy.

      +1

  15. The whole notion of top down policy is unworkable. It won’t work. What is needed is deregulation, not more regulation. The problem is largely caused by bad regulations imposed largely by the very people who now want to regulate to protect us from their latest doomsday beliefs.

    • “The whole notion of top down policy is unworkable.”

      Nonsense! The Soviet Union, E.Germany, China 1949-1980, N Korea, Venezuela, etc. are shining examples of how enlightened leadership following scientific principles can produce near miracles of economic growth.

  16. I’ve faced this type of problem at work, which eventually led to a flexible strategy involving a phased approach, with each phase designed to allow expansion and additional data gathering and analysis. My approach when developing such strategies included consideration of “out of the box” solutions as well as taking account of the fact that management and governments don’t use the results of data we acquire in each phase (meaning they get anchored on a pathway, and insist on following it in the face of information that alternatives are preferable).

    This paper has the flavor I like. It has a flaw in the sense that it presumes the 2 degrees C limit is a “hard boundary”. However, it does look like scientists are beginning to grasp concepts we have learned in project planning, and that’s a breath of fresh air.

    • In water planning, the buildout demand projection is considered a hard boundary. Then you proposed new supply alternatives to fill that gap as best you can. One alternative is to build in mandatory rationing or conservation to lower demand. This is done in California.

      With climate, set 2-degC (or 3-degC which I think is already baked in assuming CO2 peak at 700ppmv with TCS of 2K/2xCO2) as a hard boundary and design reasonable and appropriate CO2 cutbacks to chip away at that target and fill the gap, if necessary, with a mix of long and short term adaptation measures.

      BTW, if you are right that we are approaching peak frack, coal will be king again. That’s why I don’t think we will hold it below 700ppmv even with a serious mitigation program.

  17. While I don’t doubt the credentials of the authors as far as climate research and modelling is concerned, I do not see how this gives them any particular expertise in formulation of public policy. Sorry guys, but you are not experts in the field of which you speak.

  18. Besides the misplaced use of “resilience” and “anti-fragility” in the excerpts and beyond:

    – how can anyone index anthropogenic attribution without a model?

    – how can this divorce the problem from climate sensitivity? (What’s the relevance of anthropogenic attribution if climate sensitivity were 0.5°C per co2 doubling or lower?

  19. It is politically relevant to remember that a 2C temperature increase, sans significant sea level rise, is most likely to be net beneficial to humanity. So why not base policy on measured sea level (not Hansen-esque projection)? At least that is the one threat everyone seems to agree upon.

    The trigger for international action could be based on a selection of agreed upon coastal monitors. Of course, estimating sea level change is about as fraught with uncertainty as estimating “global average” temperatures. But if you are trying to mitigate potential harm, you should at least consider correlating your response activities to the harm itself, rather than a surrogate.

    • What international action are we talking about? Something like threatening economic sanctions on coal exporting countries?

      • Poor word choice on my part. I wasn’t thinking in terms of international sanctions so much as coordinated individual national policies. I do not think internationally-imposed policy is advisable or even will work.

      • You say we should use SLR as a trigger warning system, then assert SLR is not an accurate metric of anything.

        Global mean sea level is, like global average temperature, a number that is distrusted by many in the climate debate. I propose looking at alternatives, building up from individual station data. Because individual stations (sea level or temp) are subject to local/regional fluctuations you would need to carefully select a representative sampling to establish your metric. The priorities should be data quality and transparency, rather than faux universal coverage.

        One reason temperature (average or anomaly) is questioned as a policy-relevant metric is because it cannot be demonstrated that temperatures in, say, 1950 were “ideal” and anything warmer is harmful to humanity. In constrast, pre-existing sea level determines the scale and scope of coastal infrastructure. So we seem more reliant upon steady seas than steady temperatures.

        But if you dislike my suggestion for dealing with distrust of existing metrics you may propose one of your own.

    • By the time SLR triggers a response, it will be too late to stop it. That’s like buying a gun when the robber is banging on your door.

      • Is it ironic that a horst graben finds *fault* with my reasoning?

        I would argue that allowing advocates to massage data into a global MSL (or temp anomaly) is like inviting the robber into your house and pointing out where you hid the silver.

        But to address your important point, Hansen and friends believe current warming is already reaching the crisis (cr-ICE-is?) point and some sea level estimates claim rapid recent acceleration. So that crew should welcome an option based on what they believe is a “sure bet.”

        IMO, there is no single “sea level” (or meaningful global temp). It varies greatly from point to point and over time. So there would need to be an agreed upon selection of high quality sea level gauges along with an agreed upon time frame (three years of linear increase? five years of acceleration?). I didn’t say it would be easy but why should we base policy on surface temps that are broadly beneficial?

        In any event, it has often been said in politics that you can’t beat something with nothing (cf., Steven Mosher’s taunts). So when it comes to potential regulatory action, I think rational people should be engaged but armed with their own proposals.

      • I can only see faults. You say we should use SLR as a trigger warning system, then assert SLR is not an accurate metric of anything. Keep chasing your tail, you do minimal damage to the rest of us that way. Thanks!

      • opluso:But if you dislike my suggestion for dealing with distrust of existing metrics you may propose one of your own.
        That’s a tall order. With HAARP and Chem-Trails controlling everything, I don’t think we can ever know what they want us to think we know or don’t know. The only real solution is to keep your Ruger well oiled. Me, I go fishing. Just polished off a couple fresh Ling Cod tacos… yum.

      • Horst,

        Geologists see faults everywhere they look, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I agree with Hansen about the nukes, but I am not sure about his Venus nightmares. Maybe he’s right…

        Stop breathing those chemtrails!

      • Justin: Did you notice those chemtrails last night just at dusk… then we got thunder and lightening. You know Elon Musk is part of the Bilderburgers and the Tri-Lateral commission. Just sayin

      • Horst,

        I have made a good faith effort to help the anti-vaxers, GMO fwaidycats, chemtrail kooks, and Fed Reserve fearful to no avail. I just let it go.

        My main concern is the impact of SLR on local fishing. So far, my favorite, by default, fishing rock has been in the same place for forty years. Big, chunky stripped surfperch love to jump in my bucket. What will happen when the sea rises 6 meters. Will your house become a new reef?

        Do you have a boat?

      • Never had much luck with perch. Saw a couple farm workers nailing them from that high cliff across the berry farm south of Davenport. Ditto from the ledge at the bottom of the rope on the south side of Dooner beach. My yacht is a surfing Kayak with a milk-crate lashed to the stern.

      • Horst,

        A kayak is a most excellent rig! Every time I see those kelp beds beyond the surf zone I think about how cool it would be to fish those reefs. From a kayak. I used to snorkel and spearfish around those holes, but the poor visibility, due to the plankton I think, gives me the willies. It’s spooky. I also almost drowned in the kelp near lighthouse point once, which was a sobering experience. Someday I will get a kayak.

        Re the barred surfperch, a guy from Portugal used to fish from a neighboring rock and he nailed the really big ones using live sandcrabs.

      • Horst,

        Btw, I need to use the tounge in cheek emoticon more often. :) I am a STEM guy all the way, and I embrace the scientific method. The unfortunate alliance of climate science, certain mitigation policies, politics, and crony capitalism causes my BS detector to ring. I am a climate agnostic, if anything, and I will let the scientists duke it out – I am not qualified to evaluate the science. All is fair when it comes to policy and politics!

        Out of curiosity, I plan to take an online course entitled “Transport Phenomena” via edX.org in October. Check it out!

      • @HG: By the time SLR triggers a response, it will be too late to stop it.

        Suggestion: when the satellites show global mean SL to be 10 cm above what they showed it to be 10 years earlier, start taking SLR seriously.

        That would be a rate of rise roughly ten times what it was during the first half of the 20th century. Big enough to be an appreciable increase but not so big that cities would not have time to plan for further increases.

        Although if 5 cm of that rise had happened over the previous 12 months then the planning might take on an urgency that would not be needed had it happened over the previous 5 years.

      • Justin: It’s all geology all the time. The vis is bad from the highly erosive Tsc (Santa Cruz Mudstone) which keeps eating back towards West Cliff Dr. The good diving is in Monterey because of Kgd, the Santa Lucia granodiorite, and all of the coarse grained sediments derived from it. The Monterey Shale (lets Frack It!) is well inland (unlike Santa Barbara) so it does not contribute to turbid visibility. The vis is better up at Pigeon Pt due to the relatively hard Cretaceous pudding-stone (Kpp). Of course, diving in that area is limited by one’s feelings about the man in the gray suit. It’s excellent for yak fishing and poke polling on low tide.

        You can rent a kayak from the Wharf and paddle out to the Condo-Pink House Sub-Canyon in about 1/2-hour. Make it dawn patrol to avoid the wind.

        Vaughn: Your strategy is that if the average SLR rate triples over a 10-year period, we should do what? Full Monty Nuke plus seawalls for the non-emergent coastlines? What should we do if we get 5cm in 1-year? Party like it’s 1999?

      • @HG (to me): Your strategy is that if the average SLR rate triples over a 10-year period, we should do what? Full Monty Nuke plus seawalls for the non-emergent coastlines? What should we do if we get 5cm in 1-year? Party like it’s 1999?

        I imagine every city will have its own idea of what they want to do about it, Horst. In any event, mitigation (IPCC Working Group 3) is well above my pay grade, they need experts in civil and environmental engineering like our Mark Jacobson.

        Not that I don’t have a vested interest in seeing it done right. Although our house just off Stanford’s main campus is at a comfortable elevation of 250′, our beach house directly opposite Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station campus is only at 30′.

        Not that I’m at either this week, I’m enjoying the island climate on Martha’s Vineyard at my wife’s sister’s house at 35′ (the house in Figure 26 (p.410) of this remembrance of Raoul Bott—the little cabin at the pond’s edge, elevation 10′, is where my wife and I are staying). For my east coast island climate report here’s Thursday’s sunset as seen from Zack’s Cliff beach,

        It looked considerably redder than the little pocket camera captured, maybe I should have stopped it down more. Wife’s sister and wife at right.

  20. Whatever index variable is conceived, I want to know how we keep government climate agencies honest. Will they continue to manipulate temperature and other source data to match their ideologies? If I see another temperature curve bent upward without sufficient scientific debate, I am going to puke! We need a Red Team first, then let’s talk about index variables!

    • That is why policy shouldn’t be based on easily debated or easily manipulated global averages. Using some number of specifically selected sites may produce the same end result but it would provide a more transparent opportunity for oversight.

  21. The normal set of antiniers are very quiet! They must be sitting back for a smoke and drink enjoying the chatter of the “niers”, for once without needing to add their wind to deflect the prevailing wind direction. Quite a shift in the “wind” (or “gas”) from where I sit! Seems like there are lots of “eddies” now. Waiting to see how many more hard/electronic publications, tweaking the water flow through the rocks, will appear as polys make their way to Paree.

    • Problems seem related to where you choose to sit and observe. Lots of controversy about WHERE-to-SIT.
      eg
      Are monarch butterflies really being massacred? A new study says it’s a lot more complicated than it seems. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/08/05/are-monarch-butterflies-really-being-massacred-a-new-study-says-its-a-lot-more-complicated-than-it-seems/
      Depends on where you count: Illinois or Mexico. Check out the extreme difference between the observation for the two i 1996!

      Changing winds mean longer flights Nature 523, 258–259 (16 July 2015)
      (of course, they may be shorter at some other observation point) Sailing ships were VERY aware of where the trade winds blew! Low tech transportation relative to modern day, but high IQ exhibited by the navigators with a sextant and a finger to the wind.

      • Joel,

        Good link, thanks! Yes, things in the real world are complicated, which is why we try to isolate things to study them, I guess.

        I have an interest in butterflies and I don’t see as many, off all species, as I used to back in the early 90’s. I don’t know what that means.

    • @JW: The normal set of antiniers are very quiet!

      I think you just coined a one-word term for “climate denial opponent”. ;)

      Depending on context you may need to call them climate antiniers.

  22. It’s an interesting idea, however,
    if we think observation data sets are monkeyed with now,
    just wait until there’s economic incentive behind the numbers.

  23. Craig Loehle

    False premise 1: obstacles not scientific. If the models can’t agree with each other, can’t predict the hot spot or ITCZ or monsoons and are running hot, then there is no basis for mitigation. The uncertainties are floor to ceiling.
    False premise 2: risk profile from the models is real. The risk assessments tend to downplay both the benefits of future economic growth and the costs of mitigation (which would reduce that growth), based on high end scenarios of warming and ignoring benefits to the biosphere of rising CO2. Thus the entire game is biased and their adaptive approach is undermined.
    False premise 3: response not limited by economics. No carbon reduction scheme has been shown to be affordable except nuclear which has unacceptable risks to many people. Germany and Denmark with the highest (supposed) % renewables have 3X the electricity costs of the US and other countries with low renewables load.
    They also ignore the huge lags inherent in energy infrastructure. Power plants are a big investment meant to last 50 years. The grid likewise.

    • Good points all. Would add false premise 4, anthropogenic attribution. The period 1920-1945 is essentially indistinguishable from 1975-2000. The former was natural. The latter is falsely asserted to be mostly anthropogenic.

      • @ristvan: The period 1920-1945 is essentially indistinguishable from 1975-2000.

        Rud, if the debate were chess Mosher would be right: the debate would have been over a decade ago, right after the third use of this tired old fallacy.

        Just because the second step of a staircase is essentially indistinguishable from the first doesn’t mean you can’t use it to climb to the second floor.

        Surely you’ve been able to come up with a stronger argument by now.

      • > Just because the second step of a staircase is essentially indistinguishable from the first doesn’t mean you can’t use it to climb to the second floor.

        The staircase explains why it’s a tired fallacy:

      • Steven Mosher

        c-5

      • 1940 was already, with a perturbation of +0.2 C, at the upper end of millennial natural variability. What has happened since then is the addition of another 0.5 C. It is another step of an entirely unprecedented nature.

      • Prove it’s “unprecedented” and that it’s due to ACO2 and that it caused net adverse consequences.

        You are a long way from making anything resembling a rational point.

      • The forcing is also unprecedented in the millennium and the imbalance is still positive meaning the rise isn’t done yet? What specifically do you need for proof?

      • Assertions are not proof, yimmy.

      • You probably can’t get to the second floor on just two steps, little dudes. The second step does not a whole flight imply.

      • Jimd

        A step Of an entirely nprecdented nature?

        Tonyb

      • tonyb, yes, this one shows it too.

      • Jim

        Glad you agree that the temperature has been rising generally since 1699 . Why do you think that might be?

        Also glad you have identified, as did Phil jones, the biggest rise as happening during the first Four decades of the 18th century. Why do you think that might be?

        The rise and descent prior to the official records is also intetesting, with the years around 1540 being probably the warmest in the millennium and the 1570’s being some of the coldest. Why would that be?

        Such a large amount of natural variability, so perhaps co2 started to kick in hundreds of years earlier than we had previously believed?

        Tonyb

      • tonyb, the thing you are “glad” of just isn’t the case. You can see that the pattern is more exponential, which has a striking resemblance to the shape and timing of GHG forcing, both with a faster rise towards the end. Now “skeptics” have always asserted this is just coincidental and that AGW is kind of lucky to explain so well this just using physics.
        CET shows regional changes too, which just are not reflected globally, so I would not trust particular wiggles in CET to mean something, unless someone could show another site that did the same, which is the way BEST resolves the reality of these wiggles.
        As you showed, 50-year smoothing reveals what is really happening better, and the recent rise is the only one that survives that filter.

      • Jimd

        From my resarch i can see that There is certainly going to be a sharp CET rise in the first half of the 16 th century, there is another steep rise in the first half of the 14 th century. Both look to be approaching somethimg like the last decades of the 20 th century in terms of warmth.

        However, not having yet researched the periods in between I do not know the extent of the perturbations in between these dates

        I have previously said there is a reasonable cET correlation with the 50 year centring of the novel proxies but the latter are hopeless in showing the enormous annual and decadal variability.

        Tonyb

      • Local warm periods could easily be changes in the Gulf Stream or something in the ocean that is not global, which also cool other regions in a compensating way. The MWP did not occur in both hemispheres at the same time, but people still keep citing that as a previous example of global warming. These are just regional changes.

      • Jimd

        I have cited here before the numerous scientists that believes that CET is a reasonable but not perfect proxy for global, or at the very least northern hemisphere temperatures. You could see that in the BEST graph you posted.

        There were substantial periods when the mwp and lia coincided in both hemispheres. I personally do not believe there are many times when the whole world warms or cools simultaneously for hundreds of years at a time. Today is no different. As prof muller remarked, one third of the world is cooling and I look forward to mosh descending on us to spell out the caveats.

        Mind you, I would welcome a paper from him on the subject even more.

        Tonyb

      • This is the warming map in the last 50 years. It has an average of 0.65 C. Clearly something global is going on here.
        http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/nmaps.cgi?sat=4&sst=6&type=anoms&mean_gen=0112&year1=2005&year2=2014&base1=1951&base2=1980&radius=1200&pol=rob

      • Jimd

        Have you taken a nine year period and used it against the 30 year anomaly?

        The general warming disguises the nuances of the climate. I wrote about it here

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/09/04/in-search-of-cooling-trends/

        Tonyb

      • I took the last ten years and compared it to a climate baseline 50 years before it. If you want both to be 30 years, that’s just as easy. Still warming nearly everywhere.
        http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/nmaps.cgi?sat=4&sst=6&type=anoms&mean_gen=0112&year1=1985&year2=2014&base1=1951&base2=1980&radius=1200&pol=rob

      • @DM: The second step does not a whole flight imply.

        Don, it only takes one staircase to disprove Rud’s argument.

        You love the idea that a single counterexample disproves a theory when it works for you, but hate it when it’s used against you.

      • I didn’t say or imply that Rud’s story disproved any theory. I am surprised at your sloppiness, doc.

        You haven’t made a strong argument against Rud’s one-two step. Where is the staircase? We been looking at a two-step stoop. Show us the third step, doc.

        The pause is killing the cause.

      • You haven’t made a strong argument against Rud’s one-two step.

        Let me try to be clearer then. The second step is higher than the first step. Therefore the temperature is rising. In particular the mean temperature from 1975 to 2000 is higher than that from 1920 to 1945 (namely 0.274 °C higher).

        Your point about the third step not having happened yet is no different than pointing out that no further rise has happened yet. But even if the temperature had gone up in a perfectly straight line since 1920 instead of in steps, you could still point out that there was no evidence that it would continue to go up.

        If the temperature is rising, what difference does it make whether it rises smoothly or in steps?

        Rud’s argument is that the second step has the same shape as the first step. How does this negate the fact that the temperature is rising?

        Whether the temperature rises in steps or smoothly is irrelevant, hence Rud’s argument is irrelevant.

      • You don’t understand what Rud is arguing, doc. And your argument that the second step is higher than the first step is trivial.

        “The latter is falsely asserted to be mostly anthropogenic.”

        Rud is apparently arguing that the second step warming could just as well be natural. Your staircase argument is irrelevant.

      • > Rud is apparently arguing that the second step warming could just as well be natural.

        Rud then apparently needs to explain away the second step as natural variability. This explanation might certainly be ebook-worthy. Would he release its explanation publicly, I would cite in the my Contrarian Matrix.

      • Poor willy: “Rud then apparently needs to explain away the second step as natural variability.”

        No he doesn’t. Rud is making a fortune off those e-books and climate change doesn’t scare him. It’s the Chicken Little crowd that is desperate and has a lot of esplainin to do, if they want to save the planet.

    • > If the models can’t agree with each other, can’t predict the hot spot or ITCZ or monsoons and are running hot, then there is no basis for mitigation.

      False premise 4a: unless models “agree” or predict, they can’t offer a scientific basis for mitigation.

      False premise 4b: the so-called “linear model” would require a scientific basis for mitigation.

      False premise 4c: the claims 4a and 4b are scientific.

      • Craig Loehle

        If I take the upper end models, action is urgent. If I take the lower end models, there is nothing to worry about and we should stop building windmills and solar. Likewise with models of the impacts from X deg warming or models for future economic growth: floor to ceiling depending on bias and assumptions. How exactly does this provide a basis for mitigation? Claims about urgency are based on making several assumptions (warming will be a lot, impacts extreme) that not everyone agrees with (to put it mildly).

      • > If I take the upper end models, action is urgent. If I take the lower end models, there is nothing to worry about and we should stop building windmills and solar.

        False premise 5a: we need to take one end of the other to make a decision.

        False premise 5b: there is a clear inferential basis to jump from the model ends to action.

        False premise 5c: the only reason to build windmill and solar is to take mitigation action.

        False premise 4b (the so-called “linear model”) is still there too.

      • Craig: You have it backwards. If the upper end models are right, we should stop building windmills and solar and put all $$$ into nuke. This is why Hansen is pro-nuke.

      • Why would we even consider taking the upper end models as a basis for action? They are so far out of line they should be retired to the trash can.

        The answer is that the multi-model mean would be too low to scare anybody, if the obviously bogus high sensitivity models were discarded.

        There you go, wee willy. Se what you can do with that.

    • “False premise 1: obstacles not scientific. If the models can’t agree with each other, can’t predict the hot spot or ITCZ or monsoons and are running hot, then there is no basis for mitigation. The uncertainties are floor to ceiling.”

      1.http://www.atmos.uw.edu/~qfu/Publications/jtech.pochedley.2015.pdf

      And I have been telling WUWT readers for a long time the time of observation for a satellite is important.

      2. You assume that you have to get ITCZ correct

      3. You assume that you cant use hot biased models.

      you can in fact use bad models. we do it all the time.

      • Craig Loehle

        Mosh: one can only used biased models if you admit the bias and subtract or add the bias out. If the uncertainty (which is not the same as bias by the way) encompasses everything from “doing nothing is ok” to “we are all doomed” then it is not at all clear which actions are efficacious.
        My point about the ITCZ was that this is one of many things the models get wrong. The claim that the models can’t do local/regional/hot spot/etc but are right at the global/100 yr scale does not impress everyone with its obviousness.

      • SM, you may do it all the time. I don’t, and will not let anyonemunder me or within my scope of influence do it either. Bad financial risk models caused the collapse of AAA rated subprime CDO’s. Bad engineering models caused the collapse of the Tacoma narrows bridge. Bad business models (remember asset lite) caused the collapse of Enron.
        If you ‘do it all the time’ you either live in the Berkeley reality disconnect bubble, or won’t last long, or both.

      • Steve
        That response, while accurate is intentionally misleading.

        Yes, you can potentially learn valuable information from a model that is deeply flawed.

        That does not mean that GCMs have produced valuable information RELAVANT TO GOVERNMENT POLICY formation. They are likely very valuable for future modeling of the climate

      • “SM, you may do it all the time. I don’t, and will not let anyonemunder me or within my scope of influence do it either. ”

        If you had a revenue forecast model that was consistently high by 5%
        and every attempt to improve it failed.

        what would you do?

        1. Make no statement about a revenue forecast
        2. used the forecast biased high by 5% and say nothing
        3. bias adjust the forecast down by 5%

        You know full well that in day to day operations we often have models that are biased high or biased low. We STILL go out and purchase material.
        we dont stop acting merely because our forecast models have large errors or biases. And yes we work to improve them. But today a PO has to be issued. somebody used an imperfect model to issue that PO

      • lol,

        “If you had a revenue forecast model that was consistently high by 5%
        and every attempt to improve it failed.

        what would you do?

        1. Make no statement about a revenue forecast
        2. used the forecast biased high by 5% and say nothing
        3. bias adjust the forecast down by 5%”

        We are looking at more like 300% high.

        When your buddy Cowtan pointed out part of the model flaws he used that RCP8.5 curve which had absolutely nothing to do with his paper. Why did he do that ya reckon?

      • “That does not mean that GCMs have produced valuable information RELAVANT TO GOVERNMENT POLICY formation. They are likely very valuable for future modeling of the climate”

        Wrong.

        The models for example project warming of 3C per doubling.
        no feedback warming from basic physics is 1.5C per doubling.

        We note that 3C models appear to be high.

        A policy maker could rationally defend setting policy by splitting the difference, subject to revision as more data comes in.

        We do this sort of decision making all the time.

      • “Bad engineering models caused the collapse of the Tacoma narrows bridge. Bad business models (remember asset lite) caused the collapse of Enron.”

        The current “skeptical” model is that climate varies naturally and that man has zero effect. This is the bad model that can cause disaster.

      • Steve Mosher writes—“A policy maker could rationally defend setting policy by splitting the difference, subject to revision as more data comes in.”

        My response– Really? You seem to advocate taking a model (or models) that you only know are not acceptably accurate, but do not really know why not, and then taking one variable, tweaking it establishing long term government policy around your new model untested or validated new model????

        That seem pretty dumb

      • “If you had a revenue forecast model that was consistently high by 5%”

        Steve–Once again imo you know you are being misleading. If we knew the models were going to be “over predict” temperature rise by a certain percentage over a certain time it would be easy—nobody does.

      • Steven Mosher:

        The current “skeptical” model is that climate varies naturally and that man has zero effect.

        Wrong.

      • RobS: If we knew the models were going to be “over predict” temperature rise by a certain percentage over a certain time it would be easy—nobody does.

        Cap’n: We are looking at more like 300% high.

      • Willard- The issue is you know the models have been inaccurate over a fairly short term period by a significant. You do not know if they will be more or less accurate in the future- you know that they have been unreliable for temperature and the other conditions they were designed to forecast

      • Rob has touched on something WRT CAGW predictions not panning out. No matter how many times we see a prediction that snow will be a thing of the past, islands will be flooded, or Manhattan will be under water; and the prediction does not come to pass; the CAGWers just ignore the failed prediction and make yet more CAGW predictions. It’s always in the future. Never an event now or in the past that they can definitively blame on ACO2.

      • “Steve–Once again imo you know you are being misleading. If we knew the models were going to be “over predict” temperature rise by a certain percentage over a certain time it would be easy—nobody does.”

        Your argument is that if we knew the future it would be easy.

        We know what we know.

        1. The models represent the best science has to say.
        2. No alternative QUANTITIVE model exists.
        3. the models have been trending high.

        If you want to make an informed decision you consider all of these.

      • Steve Mosher writes—“A policy maker could rationally defend setting policy by splitting the difference, subject to revision as more data comes in.”

        My response– Really? You seem to advocate taking a model (or models) that you only know are not acceptably accurate, but do not really know why not, and then taking one variable, tweaking it establishing long term government policy around your new model untested or validated new model????

        That seem pretty dumb
        ##################################

        Given that there is no alerternative model, you can always choose to do the best you can with the available knowledge.

        yes, it is potentially dumb. Such are the limits of knowledge.
        Doing nothing is also potentially dumb, so its an issue
        of RELATIVE DUMBNESS

        Since skeptics offer no numbers, it would be dumber to try to read their minds.

        There is no question that any decision we make could be wrong or dumb.
        The question is how do you make the least dumb decision.
        Skeptics have retreated from the debate. So, you just make the best decision you can with information provided.

      • “Rob has touched on something WRT CAGW predictions not panning out. No matter how many times we see a prediction that snow will be a thing of the past, islands will be flooded, or Manhattan will be under water; and the prediction does not come to pass; the CAGWers just ignore the failed prediction and make yet more CAGW predictions. It’s always in the future. Never an event now or in the past that they can definitively blame on ACO2.

        1. Yes predictions are always of the future.
        2. NO climate event can be “blamed” on C02. That’s Not the theory.
        3. Hurricane predictions always get the speeds wrong and the landfall
        wrong, even though there are dozens of models. We still use them.
        sorry

      • > You do not know if they will be more or less accurate in the future- you know that they have been unreliable for temperature and the other conditions they were designed to forecast

        The more you project in the future, the more reliable models become, at least ceteris paribus. Unless climate turns out to be very different than what we conceive of it, in the long run, it will warm alright.

        That’s for the W part. The same applies to the G part: taking a global view provides more accuracy than regional perspectives. Even eminent climate scientists (H/T Fabius’ Editor) fail to grasp that.

        As for the A part, it’s the best explanation we got. The AGW problem is quite simple, when you think of it. The Climate-Ball problem is more complex, .

        Right-wing populism is still an open problem.

      • “no feedback warming from basic physics is 1.5C per doubling.”

        Did you mean 1.15C?

      • Mosher:1. The models represent the best science has to say.

        Which model is the best? They are all over the freaking map.

      • @CL: If the uncertainty (which is not the same as bias by the way) encompasses everything from “doing nothing is ok” to “we are all doomed” then it is not at all clear which actions are efficacious.

        There’s a CMIP5 model that says “doing nothing is ok”?

        News to me. Yet another strawman argument.

      • The models most closely tracking observations aren’t going to scare anybody into doing anything, doc.

    • David Springer

      If the upper end models are right we should start colonizing Mars and stop worrying about this doomed planet.

    • Craig Loehle

      For Mosher: The problem is that advocates are not admitting the models might be running hot but claiming that they are 100% accurate and drastic action is needed to prevent doomsday. Your claim that we can use a biased model (we do it all the time, as you say) assumes that people will recognize the bias and act accordingly, but that is not what is going on. If anything, public statements go even beyond what the IPCC claims (Hansen’s boiling oceans, Met office “children won’t know what snow is”, Gore’s 20 ft sea level rise, claims of Antarctic ice shelves “sliding” into the ocean).

      • The problem is that advocates are not admitting the models might be running hot but claiming that they are 100% accurate

        This is nonsense.

      • More precisely, straw man arguments.

        Given that there are over 1500 pages in AR5 WG1, one would think that those objecting to it could find something wrong in it. Yet In all of the above being put into the mouths of climate scientists, I didn’t see a single one with the slightest support in AR5 WG1.

  24. ◾determining a credible index of anthropogenic warming that fully accounts for multidecadal and longer internal variability and solar indirect effects on the attribution of warming

    In order for that to happen we need accurate, non manipulated adjusted data, that is the first and biggest problem.

    If that problem were solved I think the perfect experiment is occurring right now.

    On the one hand there is increasing CO2 which is suppose to result in a warmer climate going forward versus a prolonged minimum solar period which is suppose to result in a cooler climate going forward.

    Which way the climate goes from this point in time forward would give us our index for anthropogenic warming.

  25. Paris is the next step in establishing a new OPEC — Organization to Paralyze Economies by Carbon Controls.

  26. I don’t hold out much hope for rationality in the arena of climate policy. Take for example our relations with the Iranian regime. They say they want nuclear capability for peaceful reasons. We believe they’re liars. The Western government-education complex says they want to limit humanity’s atmospheric CO2 to prevent global warming. Many believe those in the official Western global warming establishment are liars who are using climate change for, as Amber Rudd says, “cover for anti-growth, anti-capitalist, proto-socialism.”

  27. Robust policy –

    Gen IV Nuclear Initiative – It doesn’t matter what you believe about climate change…safer,cheaper, mre felxible nuclear power with less waste benefits all of us.

    https://www.gen-4.org/gif/upload/docs/application/pdf/2015-06/1-1-2_150513_gif_symp_openning_kamr1_for_upload.pdf

  28. That Hansen should explore run away ice melting and eventual boiling seas should be no surprise. It’s been his whole premise from the start. Since it’s too late to mitigate CO2, according to him, there is no solution. Trying to talk people into nuclear is a waste of time.We’re doomed!!

  29. Any mitigation policy is an assault on prosperity with no identified gain.

    If you understand the relation between mathematics and the physical world, you understand that, for a forcing to have an effect, it must exist for a period of time and the effect of the forcing is calculated by its duration. If the forcing varies, (or not) the effect is determined by the time-integral of the forcing (or the time-integral of a function thereof).

    The CO2 level has been above about 150 ppmv for at least the entire Phanerozoic eon (the last 542 million or so years). If CO2 was a forcing, its effect on average global temperature (AGT) would be calculated according to its time-integral (or the time-integral of a function thereof) for about 542 million years. Because there is no way for that calculation to consistently result in the current AGT, CO2 cannot be a forcing.

    Variations of this proof and identification of what does cause climate change (R^2 > 0.97) are at http://agwunveiled.blogspot.com

    • “Any mitigation policy is an assault on prosperity with no identified gain.”

      The assault on prosperity is the identified gain.

      “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

    • Any mitigation policy is an assault on prosperity with no identified gain.

      And here’s a fun twist – higher rates of economic growth will reduce CO2 emissions!

      At least that’s what the RCP scenarios indicate:

      This makes sense when we reflect that economic development leads to:
      1. more efficient use of energy and
      2. reduced fertility rates

      So many of the tenets on which environmental movements were based – reduced economic growth, are wrong.

      It might be a lot easier sell ( and more logical per RCP, and more effective ) to promote programs of economic development ( which, after all, include shareholder incentive ) in South Asia and Africa.

      But we’re humans, so…

    • @DP: If CO2 was a forcing, its effect on average global temperature (AGT) would be calculated according to its time-integral (or the time-integral of a function thereof) for about 542 million years. Because there is no way for that calculation to consistently result in the current AGT, CO2 cannot be a forcing.

      The fallacy in this argument is that it neglects radiation to space.

  30. So, would temperature at the very least have to reach the median RCP2.6 scenario before invoking a tax?

  31. “Attempts have been made to design policies that are more robust to these external pressures, for example, by attempting to find ways for regulators to credibly commit both themselves and their successors in an environment of changing power structures, locking in certain policies through institutional design, capitalizing on emergent government structures and self-reinforcing effects of certain policies.”

    The operative word is: Regulators. This is a top down approach, by-passing a country’s elected representative process. Fears of an unelected central control government making decisions for the global population whose structured input is negligible becomes a reality. “1984”

    Mitigation is great for those who can afford it. Just don’t make mitigation decisions for 2 billion plus people living on < $2/day without their consent. You might find they have other priorities than concerns regarding your beachfront property.

    "To be credible, however, such a policy must also adapt to new scientific findings in a predictable way that itself minimizes the risk of unacceptable outcomes, such as a sudden and precipitate revision in mitigation pathway, and avoids placing an intolerable burden on future decision-makers."

    Think sunset provisions. How does one adapt to abrupt climate change? make the sunset timeline sufficiently long, maybe 15 years. If reality doesn't meet expectations and the provision's is drawing neigh, the provision is toast. If the expected and reality are matched, (providing last minute adjustments to the data ala Karl are not made), the provision is re-upped.

    If CO2 is such a long lived gas and its influence on the global radiative budget is to be expected for a millennium, then a sunset provision would hardly alter the course of human climate change history.

    With sunsets comes bench-marks. Does the provision, what one is indexing or whatever, meet the benchmark. If not, the provision is superfluous and should be jettisoned. Choose the benchmark well. It appears that the 2 C above pre-industrial is not such a hot idea as the number had no scientific basis, rather, the number came out of the inspiration of a person's guess. At the time of the guess, the predicted sea level rise for today would have already occurred and Manhattan would be inundated. Try another one.

  32. David Wojick

    Given that McKitrick is a skeptic (whom I know) I always figured his index proposal was a joke. Basically if the missing hot spot ever shows up then maybe we should think about doing something, but not until then. Seems the warmers have yet to get the joke. Very funny.

  33. David Wojick

    The idea that the US Congress (and the rest of the countries of the world) might adopt the Otto et al proposal is ludicrous. Better to look at how policy decisions are actually made and work with that.

    • The US Congress no longer makes law. US policy is now made with Obama’s pen as dictated by big money left-wing activists. The Constitution and the rule of law were deemed archaic leftovers from the days of dead white guys and have been superseded.

      • David Wojick

        Congress is still in charge. That they are divided hence impotent is merely a reflection of how things are in the country. Democracy is messy like that.

  34. Rather than uncertainty, I would prefer that we embrace honesty, logic and quality control in climate change policy.

    • +10. Both in climate science and climate policy. Which you umdoubtedly meant.

    • David Wojick

      Sounds like you do not believe there is an actual, logical debate, Stanton. You are mistaken. The debate lies before you, including here.

  35. Berényi Péter

    World debt over $200 trillion, of which $60 trillion is public debt, dealing with monetary issues is a bit more urgent than anything else. There’s no uncertainty about that.

    • David Springer

      +1

    • The world cannot be in debt to itself and countries all have differing ratios of public and private debt. Creditor countries and individuals should be turning off the tap and governments all need to budget more effectively.

      • Berényi Péter

        Funny, but it can. With real money it would not happen, but that’s something no one uses any more. What we actually have is token money, and that’s something completely different.

        Even commercial banks are legally authorized to create it out of thin air and that’s what they do. They let you borrow money they don’t have for interest. That’s how fresh money is created from nothing as debt.

        This is why money supply is increasing exponentially. For a while.

      • Even commercial banks are legally authorized to create it out of thin air and that’s what they do.

        So are you! Every time you write a check, it’s money. Assuming you had the money in your account, you’ve just doubled it. Until somebody cashes it. But if they just swap it around, then it remains money.

      • > Every time you write a check, it’s money. Assuming you had the money in your account, you’ve just doubled it.

        What?

      • Thanks for the reference, Arch.

        However, note that double-counted money is not doubled money. Double-counted money may bias our estimate of a country’s wealth. It does not change its wealth, at least not directly.

        I don’t think we should conflate this phenomenon with money creation.

      • Makes a person wonder just how China went from melting down vintage woks to building ghost cities in just fifty years? They had no money yet they built with money. How were they able to do it? We had swing once.

      • > They had no money yet they built with money.

        Blame on on double-entry accounting. The inventor was Leonardo’s lover anyway.

      • > The inventor […]

        Make that the promoter, promotion being a technical term in the auditing sciences.

      • Now we could say it is AGW with a twist of Lime.

      • Money used to be a means of exchange backed by gold bullion belonging to the country of issue. Now the currencies are backed by the economic credentials of the issuing counties and their propensity to print the stuff. New units of value such as bitcoins are backed by the issuer and their value is maintained through its scarcity.

        In the above context debt is merely a promise to pay a certain sum of money in future in return for goods or services provided today. Debt as a medium of exchange therefore being only as good as the economic credentials of the debtor.

    • Berenyi,
      Here’s a take on the situation in the US and California, the guinea pig state. They say people that live at the base of of the dam are the most in dee nye al.

      “California Dreaming” by somebody….

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/29/indpndnt-inst-pension-idUSnPn3y2j51+80+PRN20150529

  36. Well, bought and read the full paper. iMO, much Worse than my previous comment. Would not recommend going beyond a very careful reading of the abstract. They ASSUME AGW mitigation is urgent and mandatory. They recognize uncertainty in things like sensitivity that might make mitigation neither urgent nor even eventually necessary. Tacitly, they recognize the wheels are falling off the CAGW bandwagon in many respects and that the momentum is turning. So the paper is arguing for ‘anti-fragile’ mitigation. Stuff not so easily undone after CAGW is debunked is whatnthe mean by anti-fragile measures. The premise is CAGW is fragile, so the mitigation remedies should be antifragile. That is stark raving looniness. If we are not troubled by CAGW, then recommending we punish ourselves and our economies anyway with unnecessary but very costly ‘antifragile’ undoable mitigations can only be construed as some perverted form of sadomasochism. Paris will fail. The warmunist desperation is palpable.

  37. For those who have difficulty, like me!, reading Swedish, I have done an on-line translation of the Swedish article listed in “Hansen’s backfire” posting and have posted it on my server. I cleared up all (there were many!) connected words to make the reading easier, but did NOT go to the trouble of eliminating other formating problems. Hope you find it useful.
    It can be found at: http://pages.swcp.com/~jmw-mcw/Swedish_James_Hansen.pdf

  38. This was a lively debate spawned by the dispassionate JC. I trust that climatology will be all the better for it. However, I don’t have time to wind myself this this thread.

    I am too busy reading the 1500 page final regulatory rules of the Clean Power Plan, issued on August 3, 2015 by the EPA.

    “Whose going to save the planet from those who are trying to save the planet?”

    Anonymous Heins

  39. Complete climate policies already exist. Their names are Prudence and Engineering. Prudence means that what has been will not necessarily be, so don’t assume your drought cycle won’t turn into a flood cycle, or that warming won’t be followed by cooling. Engineering is where you muster the will and money to make useful stuff for all outcomes – which means you better not have wasted your money and nixed your cred by building fetishistic junk at the behest of Gaia’s theocrats.

    An anti-fragile framework instead of old style Gorean climate-tackling is like a modernist Anglican parson in place of a ranting fundamentalist. Calling for a better class of white elephant still negates prudence. It negates more slowly, but in end the money and cred are frittered away.

    • mosomoso

      The climate change we are expecting any minute in Britain should make our pitches more suited to Australian batting.

      tonyb

      • Also meant to say that despite the hottest July day EVAH next to a jet aircraft on the runway at Heathrow airport, May, June ad July CET are all below average. Whatever average really means.

        tonyb

      • I have recently had a deep insight into what average really means.

      • …as well as the coldest July night EVAH, all in the same month.

      • tonyb
        What is your reaction to the new HadCru4 adjustments? Seem to be falling in line for Paris with the canvas and wood bucket SST adjustments from Karl. How he took the random and high error bars from ship bucket thermometers to adjust buoys and ARGO thermocouples left a question as to Jones et al integrity. For some time they seemed to be on a higher integrity course than the US government scientists but seems to be backsliding.
        Scott

      • Scott

        There was a good discussion over at wuwt when Tim Osborn chipped in

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/11/05/hadcrut4-adjustments-discovering-missing-data-or-reinterpreting-existing-data-now-includes-september-data/

        Do I believe they fiddle the data or there is some sort of conspiracy? No.

        The adjustments come from previously Missing and under sampled areas.

        There are very few historical country land temperature data sets I would give much house room to and there is an awful lot of highly dubious data taken to be accurate which is far more anecdotal than my anecdotal historical written records that Mosh scoffs at. Somehow when the data comprises of numbers rather than text, they are given greater credulity

        The sea surface temperatures are very sparse and I would only think that a small percentage could be considered to be broadly accurate, to within a degree or two. I don’t know if yu have ever looked at the Challenger expedition carried out in the mid 19th century? They sampled scientifically a tiny fraction of the seas surface and then some other scientific expeditions were mounted but basically our knowledge of sea temperatures is even more debatable than land temperatures.

        Neither CRU, Hadley, giss the met office or BEST are deliberately setting out to deceive or fiddle the figures, but they do take basic data far too seriously and accord it a gold standard most don’t warrant.

        Tonyb

  40. In debate, acceptable tactics include shouting, pounding the podium, and fooling the audience into believing you are right.

    Mosher seems to be fond of these tactics. He is wrong on so many levels. First, sceptics do not have to assemble their own climate model or a set of climate hypotheses. They don’t have to write their own papers either.

    All that is necessary is to point out flaws in the CAWGer’s models, hypotheses, and papers.

    Don’t let Mosher tell you otherwise.

    Anyway, the very best thing sceptics can do is pound on their … err … “leaders” to ignore calls for draconian policies. That’s where they need to focus the most effort.

    • Steven Mosher

      “First, sceptics do not have to assemble their own climate model or a set of climate hypotheses. They don’t have to write their own papers either.

      All that is necessary is to point out flaws in the CAWGer’s models, hypotheses, and papers.

      Don’t let Mosher tell you otherwise.

      ################################

      1. That is not my argument.
      2. Here is my argument: If skeptics want to be taken seriously they need an alternative theory.

      Given a choice, which would you choose? would you be in a stronger position if you
      A) had No alternative theory
      B) had an alternative theory that explained the facts better

      I argue B. Skeptics would be taken more seriously if they had a theory that worked better than standard theory.
      The point is criticism as you point out is necessary, but my argument is that it is not sufficient. That’s why so many skeptics get excited when, for example, willis or anyone else proposes alternative concepts.

      This is obvious. criticism is necessary but not sufficient.

      Next, publishing. Yes, you need to publish your ideas. They cannot have influence unless people can read them.

      • While it is true that a cohesive and explanatory computer model or theory from sceptics would enhance their case, it isn’t a necessity. It is adequate to simply shoot holes in the CAGWer’s models and theories. That’s where we disagree, I posit that criticism is adequate.

        Of course, there are sceptical climate scientists who have published their own interpretations of climate concepts and data interpretations. So your argument that sceptics have not published papers and done other work is vacant. But that isn’t necessary for most CE denizens.

      • I believe what you mean Mosher is this:

        2. Here is my argument: If skeptics want to be taken seriously BY ME they need an alternative theory.

        ———

        That’s cool. Doesn’t imply that everyone believes the same way you do.

        You know, for someone who demands so much of others you are very sloppy at times.

        When talking about CO2’s effect, for example. You keep forgetting the “ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL” piece of the statement.

        Why is that?

      • Steven Mosher

        Clearly you agree that having a theory would be better.
        Thank you for admitting I am right.

        Without that theory skeptics are not taken seriously by those in power

        Obviously if skeptics cared more about winning they would have developed a theory. This means that they
        Don’t fear the solutions imposed by the pen and the phone.

        They only did half of the job.
        They did what was necessary but that is not sufficient.

        Question why did skeptics do half a job.
        Answer. The full job was too hard and they really don’t fear obamas climate policy

      • Mosh

        “Theories have four stages of acceptance: i) this is worthless nonsense; ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view; iii) this is true, but quite unimportant; iv) I always said so.

        — J. B. S. Haldane ”

        —— ——–
        Of course, some might unkindly say that the process can go in reverse if founded on the uncertain premises of post modern science;

        1) I always said so
        2) This is true but quite unimportant
        3 This is an interesting but perverse point of view
        4 This is worthless nonsense

        tonyb

      • Craig Loehle

        Mosher: yes it would be BETTER to have an alternate theory. However, it is logically sufficient to point out flaws in a theory. Many theories of physics have vanished because flaws were discovered (some flavors of string theory, of dark matter, of nutrinos, etc). Strategically one is better off with an alternate theory.
        In decision-making say for a business, if someone claims that X is going to happen (to the stock market, money supply, inventions, consumer trends, you name it), it is not necessary for me to be able to predict what WILL happen, only to show that this person cannot predict X (because he has never made a good prediction, because X is not inherently predictable, because he has not shown good reason for his prediction, pick one).

      • “it would be BETTER to have an alternate theory”

        Not necessarily. The only theory that’s good to have is a theory that aligns with the truth of the issue. An alternate theory isn’t any “better” if that’s not the case.

        That’s why science demands the move beyond “theory” and into fact.

        Andrew

      • Taking Loehle’s example, a stock broker will try to tell me they can predict the future. I’ll tell them I have another call I have to take. My choice is a total stock market index fund. My theory is that no one knows the future of the stock market. The broker’s theory is that they do. I don’t try to solve the problem of predicting the stock market. I do agree with most brokers that diversification of investments, stocks, bonds, real estate, pretax and aftertax. I do this because we don’t know what’s going to happens to markets and tax laws. Indexing is gaining as an alternate theory. It has about a 20% share it seems.

      • Mosher says: If skeptics want to be taken seriously they need an alternative theory.

        Wrong. Most of this discussion has transitioned from “science” to engineering (mitigation). In engineering you need models of sufficient quality to support engineering trade studies. It is entirely appropriate to raise an issue when model quality is insufficient to support engineering goals.

        Of course Mosher argues for “science” based on politics (Chicken Little) not on real science and few here have any real engineering experience (or hide it well).

      • If anyone else used “theory” in the place of “hypothesis” Steven Mosher would be jumping all over them.

        Regardless, as others have pointed out, skeptics do not need to reject or replace climate models (or climate “theory”) whole cloth. They merely have to make them work better. Consider that skeptics easily accept weather forecasting models (with similar physics-based assumptions) because they are not pushed beyond their inherent capabilities.

        Arguing over forcing and feedback parameters is an example of the scientific method in action. Pointing out that model calculations of climate sensitivity do not match observations does not require inventing a competing “theory.” To claim otherwise is just a distraction.

        Steven goes on to argue that correcting flawed assumptions in the consensus model is insufficient and that critics must be published to have influence. I assume he means specifically in top-tier (paywalled) scientific journals.

        The other side of that coin, of course, is why does so much utter dreck get published in scientific journals simply because it toes the consensus line on global warming? Given the low quality or speculative nature of much of the climate change literature (not limited to model forecasts but encompassing ecosystems, endangered species, social cost of carbon, etc.) one might safely assume that the deck is stacked in favor of the dreck.

        Then again, compared to reforming the science publication incentive system, concocting a new theory of climate physics should be a piece of cake.

        Kent

  41. Use a fat tail model thought experiment. Suppose somebody says that we don’t know that the moon won’t explode, wreaking havoc on earth. An all-out space program is the only way to alleviate this enormous risk.

    It’s enormous owing to damage, not probability.

    How about you keep the windows open to keep an open mind, but you put up screens to keep out the bugs.

    Watch out for Moon Dynamics Science once funding starts. Money in the form of careers and power drives everything, including climate.

    My suggestion is spend money only on curiosity. The rest goes into window screens.

    • It is funny how one chooses to look at tails. They are fat tails when it helps your point and most often thin tails in reality. The PM2.5 policy with respect to coal is working on the left over thin tail between coal power plant emissions and background concentration.

  42. Steven Mosher keeps telling skeptics they need an alternative theory. I’ve asked him to explain what the alternative theory has to explain. He hasn’t replied. I honestly don’t know what he is asking for.

    Mosher believes that GHG emissions are dangerous. I am not persuaded that is true. In fact I am not persuaded they are doing more harm than good. However, I am strongly persuaded that any policy to mitigate GHG emissions that increases the cost of energy will do far more harm than good. Therefore, I advocate for least cost energy for the whole world, and especially for the developing countries.

    It is up to those people who are concerned about cutting global GHG emissions to advocate for policies that will enable low emissions energy to be cheaper than fossil fuels – I.e much cheaper.

    By far the easiest and fastest way to do that is to remove the impediments to nuclear power.

    So, it’s up to the ECAGW alarmists, not the CAGW skeptics, to argue for nuclear if the genuinely want to reduce global GHG emissions.

    Over to you, CAGW alarmists.

    Go, Mosher.

    • > I’ve asked him to explain what the alternative theory has to explain.

      Global warming.

      Over to you, Denizens.

    • Steven Mosher

      Steven Mosher keeps telling skeptics they need an alternative theory. I’ve asked him to explain what the alternative theory has to explain. He hasn’t replied. I honestly don’t know what he is asking for.

      1. They do not need an alternative theory
      2. The claim I made, unchallenged to date, is this :
      If skeptics want to be taken seriously they need an alternative theory.

      Theory of what? A theory of the climate, how it works, and why it has, warmed.

      • Steven Mosher,

        “Theory of what? A theory of the climate, how it works, and why it has, warmed.”

        I don’t understand why you think sceptics need a theory of how the climate works and why it has warmed. There is no persuasive evidence that the warming is unusual, in magnitude or rate, or that it is more likely than not to be net damaging. There is persuasive evidence that the policies advocated by the CAGW alarmists will be damaging, even using the alarmists’ own models and their central estimates inputs.

        Given the above, no theory of climate change is needed. It’s up to those concerned about GHG emissions to advocate for policies that are net beneficial to the world. They need to stop using CAGW alarmism as a means to push their Leftist agenda.

        Less than 1% of the world’s population see GHG mitigation policies as a priority. They want cheap energy. Unless you can come up with policies to achieve that, you are going nowhere. You’ve lost.

      • > I don’t understand why you think sceptics need a theory of how the climate works and why it has warmed.

        Because otherwise AGW stays on the table, along with its risks.

        Your turn, team Denizens!

      • Willard,

        Flat earth theory stays on the table too. That doesn’t mean it will be taken seriously. You comments are stupid.

    • Steven Mosher

      Steven Mosher keeps telling skeptics they need an alternative theory. I’ve asked him to explain what the alternative theory has to explain. He hasn’t replied. I honestly don’t know what he is asking for.

      1. They do not need an alternative theory
      2. The claim I made, unchallenged to date, is this :
      If skeptics want to be taken seriously they need an alternative theory.

      Theory of what? A theory of the climate, how it works, and why it has, warmed.

      • So, an antonym of skeptical is gullible

        What do gullibles need?

        Why would anyone take gullibles seriously to begin with?

      • Why would anyone take gullibles seriously to begin with?

        ‘Cause the vote?

      • Steven Mosher

        What do gullibles need?
        a pen and a phone.

      • Why would anyone take gullibles seriously to begin with?
        ‘Cause they vote?

        Ya, I’m getting wise to that.

      • Hey Mosher, why only “…and why it has, warmed”. Hasn’t the climate warmed, cooled, gone quiet, etc. in the past? Shouldn’t the theory explain it all?

        Sloppy.

      • I don’t agree that skeptics need a theory to be taken seriously.

        But who cares?

        This is all he said, she said stuff anyway.

        Either global warming is happening or it is not.

        Either humans are contributing to global warming or they are not.

        We will run out of hydrocarbon based fuel someday or we won’t.

        If a skeptic invented a baseload energy solution which was cheaper than nuclear, solar, wind, coal, natural gas and oil, and it doesn’t produce CO2 – that would be a win win – even if I couldn’t provide an alternative theory of global warming.

        If global warming is happening and humans are contributing to it or even if it is not and we are not – but we are going to run out of hydrocarbons at some point in the future – it makes sense to try to invent energy solutions which are cheaper than all of our current energy technology and which don’t produce CO2.

        If I (a skeptic) invented a way to generate power which was 1/2 the cost of coal, totally clean, didn’t take up much space, wasn’t ugly and was easy to roll out – believe me I would be taken seriously – whether I could provide an alternative explanation for global warming or not.

        Because none of that would matter – the world would naturally switch to my new power source and we would naturally decrease CO2 emissions and everybody would be happy.

        Now all we have to do is invent this new, non-carbon emitting, baseload cheaper energy source.

        Go.

        Meanwhile go nuclear – this is a no brainer.

        Or go CC as PE recommends – at least until we run out of natural gas.

      • What are the antonyms to contrarian?

        One of them is conformist, which isn’t a particularly admirable trait for intellectual pursuit, either.

      • Going to the dictionary and/or thesaurus is the last refuge of a dilettante.

      • Going to the dictionary and/or thesaurus is the last refuge of a dilettante.

        Wait, let me look that up….

        Mosher goes with ‘skeptics’ but it’s a sucker punch because one is drawn in to group identity or Mosher opposition syndrome. But it works both ways – those who counter-identify with ‘skeptics’ are drawn in ( as you were ) by pejorative ‘gullibles’ and ‘conformists’.

        But words have meanings as does accepting the term skeptic as a perjorative and not considering its meaning.

        In science:
        ‘skeptic’ good – demand evidence,
        ‘gullible’ bad – authority is no basis for knowledge ( Pascal ).

        There is evidence of warming induced by anthropogenic GHGs.
        That evidence exists in the context of a naturally transitive climate, but there is evidence all the same.

        Where there is scant or contradictory evidence is to the questions of
        How much will non-policy factors determine CO2 emissions?
        How much warming?
        How rapid warming?
        What portion of warming is natural variation versus anthropogenic?
        How certain of this can we be?
        What would the impacts of such warming be?
        What harm of warming would there be?
        What benefits of warming would there be?
        ( both humans and other ecosystems ).

        Many are claiming these questions are known and imply danger.

        Certainly, observations of warming rates are toward the low end of projections and there is little if any evidence of any significant harm to date.

      • > One of them is conformist,

        One synonym is established. Another is orthodox. Others are:

        acknowledged
        admitted
        approved
        authoritative
        canonical
        conservative
        conventional
        correct
        customary
        established
        legitimate
        official
        proper
        received
        recognized
        right
        rightful
        sanctioned
        sound
        standard
        straight
        true
        well-established

        http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/conformist

        ***

        Some antonyms to “conformist”: irregular, maverick, atypical, unpredictable, irregular, unorthodox, unconventional, improper, wrongful, illicit, outlaw, wrong, illegitimate, bohemian, go-as-you-please.

        Please, do continue.

      • “Going to the dictionary and/or thesaurus is the last refuge of a dilettante.”

        It’s the first refuse of a linguistic idi8t

        We all learned to argue via the dictionary in 5th grade or so.

      • “Hey Mosher, why only “…and why it has, warmed”. Hasn’t the climate warmed, cooled, gone quiet, etc. in the past? Shouldn’t the theory explain it all?”

        1. No theory explains it all.
        2. Again, look at Dalton’s first theory of the atom.

        After you do that look at what ACTUAL scientist’s did.
        They found mistakes and fixed them.
        They found gaps and filled them
        By doing this they made names for themselves.
        They created a foundation that others built on.

        You will have a hard time finding a working scientist who RESTRICTED his behavior to criticism only. you will have a hard time finding a working scientist who argued that the full job of science could be accomplished by mere criticism.

        A philosophy of science that aims at being scientific should start with these facts. doing science requires mode than criticism.

        yes there are holes.

        scientist’s fill holes.. or they rearrange the fabric of though such that the hole disappears or is shown to be an illusion.

    • Steven Mosher

      Peter
      Mosher believes that GHG emissions are dangerous. I am not persuaded that is true. In fact I am not persuaded they are doing more harm than good. However, I am strongly persuaded that any policy to mitigate GHG emissions that increases the cost of energy will do far more harm than good. Therefore, I advocate for least cost energy for the whole world, and especially for the developing countries.

      1. I don’t hold that ghg emissions are dangerous.
      2. Co2 emissions pose a risk
      3. It doesn’t matter what you are persuaded of.
      4. I advocate for zero cost everything… Weeeeeeeee

      • 2. Co2 emissions pose a risk

        But can you articulate this risk?
        Especially articulate this risk with numbers, not adjectives?

      • Driving a car is a much greater risk than ACO2.

      • More on the Lomborg Collective:

        In the Copenhagen Consensus paper on climate change, William Cline attempted a more sober and rigorous cost-benefit analysis, resisting the temptation to award fantastic numbers to his favorite policies. Using a modified version of William Nordhaus’ DICE model, Cline showed that active climate mitigation scenarios had benefit-cost ratios of 2-4. The other Copenhagen Consensus economists were dismissive of Cline’s results, rejecting his choice of a discount rate – and pointing out that his benefit-cost ratios were far below those claimed for the rival policy options. In Cool It, Lomborg cites one of the other “consensus” economists’ critique of Cline, but not Cline’s analysis itself.

        http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/rp/Ackerman_CoolIt.pdf

      • But can you articulate this risk?
        Especially articulate this risk with numbers, not adjectives?

        Yes. see below.

      • Steven Mosher,

        Often your comments are childish and silly.

        You say you believe in cheap everything wheeeee. Well gee, eh, how silly and childish is that comment? The reason why least cost energy for all peoples, especially the poorest, is so important is well established and has been demonstrated since humans first began to control fire and later tame animals to do work. If you are not aware of this you are ignorant of the most basic facts.

        You say you don’t believe GHG emissions are dangerous. But then you say there is a risk. What is the risk? Do you know what risk means and how to quantify it? It is consequence of an event or condition multiplied by the probability it will occur. So, what is the consequence? Please state it and quantify it in units of economic cost or fatalities per time period for a given year. If you say GHG emissions are not dangerous, what is the consequence?

        Please avoid the juvenile sentences and answer constructively.

  43. Re Alternate Theory

    In the spirit of scientific enterprise, maybe Mosher himself can supply us with an alternate theory or two. Isn’t that what “scientists” are supposed to do? Do science? lol

    Andrew

  44. One thing that got somewhat lost in the above thread was that the selection of specific generation resources should be customized as to specific systems at specific times. In general I see natural gas plants a a good resource that should be in the mix and a good candidate for additions. But nuclear should be in the pool too, as should renewables in many locations. For one area based on their resources existing resources, loads and projections the best solution might be natural gas, but for another it may be nuclear.

    Advocacy for specific generation resources seems a little like advocating that everyone should drive the same make and model of car because the favored model has the right blend of comfort, cost, convenience…. But such advocacy ignores the different drives for consumers.

    I think gas will overwhelmingly be a good resource choice in the future. It has the benefit of working with peaking plants, intermediate plants and baseload plants. If your goal is to reduce CO2 from the level of coal plant it works as a good option. If your goal is to near elimante CO2 from generation it does not, nuclear would be a better baseload option.

    The idea that different systems should have similar percentage mixes of various resource types, particular when that mix includes resources whose applicability, cost and capabilities vary tremendously from place to place, is naive at best.

    • I think it’s safe to say that nuclear fuel will remain cheap per watt much longer than nat gas. Remember TXU and what can happen when one makes unwarranted assumptions! (Not u, PE.) At any rate, the cost to build nuclear can be significantly cheaper than now if we get the right politicians elected. SMRs, IMO, still hold a lot of promise for cheap energy that could serve isolated cities, mine, industrial complexes, etc. I see no reason why a half dozen SMRs couldn’t be used in a conventional generator plant. They could be rotated in and out without bringing down the plant.

      • No disagreement there jim2 (or with Scotts4sf below). From where I sit, nuclear is unquestionably the long term best answer we have now. But that does not mean that building it now is the best answer. (Again some places it might be but not all places.) I’d guess it will be 50 years from now with good confidence but it’s possible it could be twenty years from now. I don’t think “forcing” nuclear at this time enhances its eventual adoption.

        The revision in the EPA plan greatly helped those who are currently building nuclear (and should help encourage future nuclear). The original version was not going to credit them for the reductions associated with the new plants, but the new version does.

    • RE coal, from the article:

      At the very moment President Obama has decided to shutter America’s coal industry in favor of much more expensive and less efficient “renewable energy,” coal use is surging across the globe. A new study by the prestigious National Academy of Sciences detects an unmistakable “coal renaissance” under way that shows this mineral of fossilized carbon has again become “the most important source of energy-related emissions on the global scale.” Coal is expanding rapidly “not only in China and India but also across a broad range of developing countries — especially poor, fast-growing countries mainly in Asia,” the study finds. Why is coal such a popular energy source now? The NAS study explains that many nations are attracted to “(relatively) low coal prices . .. to satisfy their energy needs.” It also finds “the share of coal in the energy mix indeed has grown faster for countries with higher economic growth.” –Stephan Moore, Investor’s Business Daily, 7 August 2015

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/08/07/newsbytes-global-coal-boom-accelerating-despite-obamas-green-posturing/

    • Planning Engineer — From an Integrated Planning Engineer’s perspective, what you are heavily referencing in your above post is ELCC.

      You should write about this some time — especially discussing things like how solar projects can have very high capacity factors (when the power is necessary to meet load).

      You and Rudd should also correct some mis-conceptions here at CE that somehow base load (and the generating options providing it) are more important than intermediate or peaking load (and its generation resources).

  45. PE,
    Great comment. Reasonable the variations in energy sources tailored to local conditions. Solar in sunny places, Wind in windy and natural gas in the west. Nuclear when one can license the plants and coal where it is cost effective. Lots of disadvantages with coal due to mining, NOx, SOx, HQ emissions, slag piles and mountain top removal. That in itself is a reason to move towards more efficient coal plants and retire the 40 year old ones. But wholesale shutting down the existing 50% baseload electricity source in the east is just politics based on green fantasy.
    Scott, PE

  46. Beta Blocker

    Peter Lang and Rud Istvan, for purposes of initiating an expanded debate concerning a possible future expansion of nuclear power in the United States, let’s start the discussion by examining what would be necessary to achieve President Obama’s GHG emission reduction targets for 2025, 2030, and 2050:

    2005 Baseline..: 6.0 Giga-tonnes (2005 Emission Baseline)
    2013 Emissions.: 5.5 Giga-tonnes (2013 Emission Figure)
    28% by 2025….: 4.3 Giga-tonnes (1.2 reduction from 2013)
    32% by 2030….: 4.1 Giga-tonnes (1.4 reduction from 2013)
    80% by 2050….: 1.3 Giga-tonnes (4.2 reduction from 2013)

    What the President is doing with his climate action plan is to greatly accelerate the process of moving away from fossil fuels towards other forms of energy while using natural gas as the preferred bridge fuel. A process which might have taken one-hundred years to accomplish under normal market conditions as the easy-access fossil fuels gradually ran out will now be accelerated to only thirty-five years.

    It is difficult to see how this objective can be accomplished in so short a time period unless a very effective energy conservation strategy is adopted, one which covers all sectors of the energy marketplace — electricity, transportation, and industrial/chemical alike. Moreover, we will not use natural gas successfully as the preferred bridge fuel unless we cover the country from one end to the other with gas fracking wells.

    The most fair and effective way to implement a highly effective energy conservation strategy is to put a price on all carbon fuels and to deliberately constrain their supply and availability. Any ambitious carbon reduction plan which doesn’t do these things will fail to achieve its carbon reduction goals.

    If we want to increase our reliance on nuclear power here in America, two basic stumbling blocks stand in the way of a major expansion of nuclear power in the United States. The first is the much higher up front capital cost of a large nuclear facility in comparison with the capital cost of a similar capacity gas-fired plant. The second is the prospect that the price of natural gas will continue to remain lower than it was prior to the fracking boom, thus eliminating nuclear’s advantage over natural gas of stable future electricity prices and a lower total lifecycle cost.

    Nuclear waste issues generate lots of heat and toxic debate from the anti-nuclear activists, but the true stumbling block for nuclear power is that it is no longer clearly and unambiguously cost competitive with natural gas from a total lifecycle cost perspective. Claims that the capital cost of large nuclear plants can be significantly reduced by significantly reducing the nuclear industry’s regulatory oversight burdens don’t stand up to scrutiny.

    A look at the past history of America’s nuclear construction industry, and at the situation it currently faces, is appropriate here.

    By the late 1980’s, the nuclear construction industry in the United States had solved nearly all the serious problems it had been experiencing in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s with cost overruns and with inadequate attention to nuclear quality assurance requirements. The industry as it existed in 1990 was in a good position to support an expansion of nuclear power in the United States. But then a variety of economic and socio-political trends began to work against nuclear power as an option, and so all those new projects which could have kept the nuclear construction industry efficient and well-tuned up were never initiated.

    The inflation-adjusted cost of construction for any large-scale industrial facility here in the United States is roughly double what it was twenty-five years ago. The reasons for this dramatic increase in construction costs include:

    Lack of Industrial Construction Projects: Over the last two decades, the economic, political, and social climate in the United States has become much less conducive to supporting industrial businesses, hence there is significantly less demand for new industrial construction and so there are fewer projects being pursued, resulting in a general decline in the overall capability and efficiency of the industrial facilities construction industry.

    Cost and Availability of Materials: The United States is no longer capable of supplying the full range of construction materials needed for large-scale industrial construction projects. Over the last two decades, competition from Asian economic expansion has raised the worldwide costs of basic construction materials, steel especially.

    Cost and Availability of Industrial Equipment: The United States is no longer capable of supplying the full range of industrial equipment needed to operate a large-scale industrial facility once it is constructed. Competition from Asian economic expansion has raised the capital costs of many types of industrial production equipment. As it applies to nuclear construction, there are only one quarter as many nuclear-qualified equipment suppliers in the United States as there were in 1990.

    Cost, Availability, and Productivity of Skilled Construction Labor: A declining number of industrial construction projects results in a smaller pool of skilled industrial construction workers, especially for the high-skill niche job categories. When new projects are initiated, they must compete for a smaller available workforce; and training new workers as part of ramp-up for a specific project takes additional time and resources that add to the total bottom-line project cost.

    Costs of Access to Land and Civil Infrastructure: The best sites for industrial construction are most often located in areas near large cities and must compete with non-industrial businesses and with residential real estate development for access to land and to civil infrastructure — power, water, sewer, civil services, etc.

    Cost of Mobilization for Transportation, Equipment, and Labor: Mobilizing for new projects is much more difficult than it was twenty-five years ago. Land use easements and land use permitting, ease of transport through urban areas, competition for space needed for construction staging areas, and locating and hiring a skilled workforce are all much more difficult and time-consuming than they were twenty-five years ago.

    Costs for Rework and Redesign: The broad base of hands-on experience in a variety of engineering disciplines which existed twenty-five years ago is now largely retired or in the graveyards. Lack of new projects has left the United States with a professional workforce which does not produce a quality of design work which is consistent with prior past practices. Combined with the shortage of skilled craft workers who can produce acceptable work on a construction site, there is significantly more in-office redesign and in-field material rework than was prevalent twenty-five years ago.

    Costs of Environmental Compliance: A variety of environmental compliance regulations increase the capital costs for new construction projects and raise the cost of a variety of activities being performed at the construction job site.

    Costs of Worker Safety and Health Compliance: A variety of worker safety & health regulations increase the capital investment costs for new construction projects and raise the costs of a variety of activities being performed at the construction job site, especially with their impacts on worker productivity. An experienced worker is also generally a safer worker; but gaining the experience needed to work both safely and productively at the same time is much harder to do than it was twenty-five years ago, simply because there are fewer projects being initiated with which to develop the needed skills and experience.

    Lack of Experienced & Competent Project Managers: In comparison with the situation which existed twenty-five years ago, there are now many fewer experienced project managers available who are of the caliber needed to keep a large-scale construction project on track towards final completion. As compared with twenty-five years ago, we have a variety of new project management tools and cost management tools available to us. But these tools aren’t being used nearly as effectively as they could be; i.e., even having a useful PM toolset available to them, many project managers today simply ignore these tools and prefer to run their projects by the seat of their pants instead, with predictable consequences for cost, schedule, and the quality of the work being done.

    What about the issue of nuclear waste?

    Civilian spent nuclear fuel still has 90% of its potential energy left in it when it is pulled from a reactor core. The biggest problem with managing nuclear waste here in the United States is that current law views civilian spent nuclear fuel as ‘waste’ rather than as an interim-status nuclear material which should be preserved and protected until such time as it once again becomes economically viable as an energy resource.

    The way things are shaping up here in the United States, America’s spent nuclear fuel (SNF) will stay just where it is for at least another seventy-five years, if not longer. A combination of three factors will keep spent nuclear fuel from being relocated either to a centralized interim SNF storage site or to a permanent geologic disposal site. These three factors are: (1) the requirements of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) of 1982; (2) the toxic, byzantine politics of nuclear waste management; and (3) the recent publication of the NRC’s waste confidence rule.

    The NRC waste confidence rule allows for safe on-site storage of SNF for a hundred years or more. Unless some new political dynamic upsets the toxic politics of nuclear waste management, America’s SNF will leave the plant sites where it is presently being stored only when technology is developed which allows economic reuse of the spent fuel for extracting more energy from it; i.e, when either reprocessed SNF or else reloaded SNF becomes economically competitive with the once-through uranium fuel cycle.

    If the NWPA is not revised to allow interim central storage of SNF in the absence of a licensed geologic repository; and if the nation’s spent nuclear fuel is not removed for direct reloading into advanced nuclear reactors; or if it is not collected for chemical reprocessing, it will just sit where it is until such time as the economics of the once-through uranium fuel cycle are no longer as attractive as they are today and a civilian-managed SNF reprocessing industry becomes a profitable business investment.

    For those who argue for the adoption of thorium reactors as a panacea for solving America’s nuclear waste management issues, argue the merits of a thorium fuel cycle as much as you like, it will not be adopted here in the United States. The nuclear industry here in the US sees no cost advantages to the thorium fuel cycle; and as far as the anti-nuclear activists are concerned, the thorium cycle remains a nuclear fuel cycle and is therefore evil by definition.

    Peter Lang, as a professional geologist who is promoting nuclear power, please recognize that you are caught between a rock and a hard place — at least as far as your efforts in promoting nuclear power for America. Expansion of nuclear power here in America cannot occur unless the US Government puts a price on carbon, especially on natural gas, thus eliminating the cost advantage natural gas currently has over nuclear.

  47. Steve Mosher generalizing skeptic positions and proposing there is winning side in the AGW debates is pretentious poppycock. Short quips meant to provoke some posters will not get what I think is your intended job done.

    A better use of your time and talents would be to develope long and well detailed thoughts for an article or even a book. It would allow you the space to avoid generalizations.

    • generalizing “skeptics” positions is a well known tactic to get them to
      take a stand.

      If you ask them for a simple explanation of their position, their response is
      ‘i dont need a position, I just need to say NO’

      So, its a laborious task to pin them down.

      But prove me wrong.

      1. Do you think c02 is a GHG? yes or no
      2. If we double c02 and hold everything else constant will the temperature increase?
      3. What is your best estimate for ECS and TCR and why do you hold that view?

      • 1. Yes.
        2. Yes.
        3. ECS 1.5C, TCR 1.2C
        Why. Since it is impossible to hold everything constant I am just estimating from observations. I think 1/2 of the warming is natural and 1/2 is caused by humans, so I take 1/2 of 3C for ECS and then just take a little off to get to TCR. TCR could be as low as 1.0 – but really I am just guessing.

        I thought you should get at least one answer to your questions.

      • Warm with a light breeze…

        here.

      • “If we double c02 and hold everything else constant will the temperature increase?”

        Silly question in reality since we can’t.

        It seems if you ask someone to comment about TCR you should also be asking the period that their estimate covers as TCR varies greatly over time. Shouldn’t the question be something like- “what do you think TCR will be between 2015 and 2025?

      • Shouldn’t the question be something like- “what do you think TCR will be between 2015 and 2025?

        Since TCR is defined as the increase in 20-year-averaged temperature over a period of 70 years when CO2 is rising at 1% a year, how do you propose to measure TCR over a period of ten years?

      • Mr. Mosher,

        I don’t speak for other “skeptics” – I speak only for my self. I do not think sceptics are monolithic which is a convenient belief for some.

        Your questions and answers sir …

        “1. Do you think c02 is a GHG? yes or no”

        Yes, there has been plenty of time to prove that false.

        2. If we double c02 and hold everything else constant will the temperature increase?

        Yes, clearly 1 => 2

        3. What is your best estimate for ECS and TCR and why do you hold that view?

        Not for me to determine, it is beyond my knowledge and skills. It appears to be controversial. Consider the past testimony of Judith Curry.

        Here is my position. Unless and until TCR and ECS are determined with less uncertainty and more agreement within the climate science community I will oppose the current mitigation proposals because of their negative effect on me personally. I will use my one vote, as should everyone else.

        Right now, there is an unhealthy, IMO, coupling between politics, crony capitalism, and current and proposed mitigation policies.

        My proposal:

        1. Prepare for the weather of the past and ALL that implies.
        2. Build a diverse and flexible portfolio of energy sources and infrastructure.
        3. Negotiate and implement shock-resistant global trade agreements – expand the circle.
        4. Increase government subsidies of basic science research across the board. Conversely, avoid government selection of technological winners. The market can do that.
        5. Avoid war at all costs – it is tragic, expensive, negative growth, and chaotic in the mathematical sense.

        This is just the humble opinion of one little sceptic. As a STEM-trained person, I think to not be skeptical is to be gullible. I am not gullible – I am too old, have seen too much, have been let down too many times to be gullible.

      • stevenreincarnated

        VP, if you stick closely to that definition then how do you expect to use the term TCR for anything other than a model run?

      • VP, if you stick closely to that definition then how do you expect to use the term TCR for anything other than a model run?

        Excellent question. It’s the only use it’s been put to so far. And the only other use I can imagine for it is for estimating the temperature increase during the 70 years from 2015 to 2085, during which CO2 doubles assuming the excess of CO2 over 280 ppmv continues to increase exponentially (essentially RCP8.5).

        I don’t find TCR a terribly useful notion for any other purpose. In particular what people call “observational climate sensitivity” is a far cry from TCR since it’s based on a CO2 CAGR that over the past half century has increased from 0.25% in 1960 to 0.5% today. At a conference a couple of years ago I proposed “prevailing climate sensitivity” for that concept, but “observational climate sensitivity” ought to meet the same need.

    • “proposing there is winning side in the AGW debates is pretentious poppycock. ”

      I will say it again because it annoys people. the science is not settled but the debate is over. A debate is a social behavior. Folks in power,
      congress, the senate, EPA Obumbles, have listened. The skeptics lost their best opportunity to influence that power. The judges of the debate are moving on and taking action. debate is over. There is STILL disagreement, but the debate is over.

      Maybe the courts will help, but if your strategy relies on winning in court…
      well, that’s sub optimal.

      folks will disagree about the science. epistemically science is never settled.
      but pragmatically, it looks like those in power have decided to do something about C02 and not because its plant food.

      • Craig Loehle

        Well, Mosh, let’s see. Several countries such as Australia have taken steps back from radical action, so that remains possible. Republicans in US are mostly united in opposition to Obama’s Clean Power Plan. England is rolling back subsidies for wind. Germany is building coal plants. So it isn’t “over”.

      • yes craig there are some ‘bright spots” if you want to call it that.
        So there is an opportunity for people to seize the agenda rather than merely resisting it.

      • David Springer

        Mosher is in denial. No cap & trade. No carbon tax. Fossil fuel consumption is following market demand. Fracking like crazy because it’s the cheapest fossil fuel available. Nukes are moribund. Solar and wind is a joke. Ethanol has faded. Electric vehicle penetration is close to zero.

        Exactly what do you think constitutes the warmunist wins, Mosher? Compact flourescent light bulbs? Obumbles 12th hour end run around congress with the EPA? That has yet to bear fruit and probably won’t. States are going to thumb their noses at it, challenge it in court, and republican controlled congress will defund it. You’re losing on every front near as I can tell. Get a grip.

      • David has a point. Nat gas had already gone a long way moving electricity generation away from coal. I’m not for more Obumbles intervention in the electricity market, though. Nat gas isn’t going to be this cheap forever.

      • David Springer

        Warmunists are the new Black Knight. ROFL

      • stevenreincarnated

        Just Obama and his appointees have listened and I’m not sure if they have listened to the risks of climate change or the risks of losing climate change dollars. Phones are cheap. Every drug dealer in town has 3 or 4 Obama phones. The next president will have his own phone and his own appointees. Congress hasn’t listened:

  48. David Springer

    The warmunists have withdrawn from the debate. Skeptical scientists are calling for debates all the time. Alarmist scientists won’t accept. There’s a good reason… they’d lose. The earth is getting greener. No increase in severe weather. No increase in sea level rise. No water vapor feedback. No significant temperature rise in 18 years. The facts are all lined up against the warmunists so they retreat into their little closed society of pal reviewed fantasy models and ad populum 97% consensus fallacies. Spare me, Mosher.

  49. David Springer

    USA has 25% of the world’s coal reserves. I’d just as soon keep it in our back pocket against the day when easier to reach fossil fuels peter out. I’m opposed to exporting it due to national security concerns.

  50. Otto et al’s uncertainty does not extend to doubts about the alleged dangers of global warming. The facts are that late-20th century warming was not exceptional either by the standards of that century or earlier periods, that there has been no significant warming since 1998, that we can not accurately predict the future of warming or other climate changes, and that many with relevant experience doubt the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of current and proposed emissions- reduction programs. This would surely give an unbiased observer pause for thought as to the nature of uncertainties in the climate change issue. However, they say that “The ‘pledge and review’ approach to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions presents an opportunity to link mitigation goals explicitly to the evolving climate response. … Recognizing that long-lived greenhouse gas emissions have to be net zero by the time temperatures reach a target stabilization level, such as 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, and anchoring commitments to an agreed index of attributable anthropogenic warming would provide a transparent approach to meeting such a temperature goal without prior consensus on the climate response.”

    They then state that “The primary reasons for the slow progress in global mitigation policy” is a widespread view that the dangers are exaggerated, the costs are too high and there are more pressing priorities. Clearly, Otto et al do not accept this, they think that any opposition to urgent mitigation measures is misguided or perhaps evil. So they are addressing a falsely-framed issue.

    Otto et al say that “As any climate policy has the joint goals of enabling continued human development while staying within the boundaries posed by the limitations of the climate system.” I haven’t seen a warmist-advocated policy with such joint goals, they are in my view inimical to human development, particularly in the poorest countries. They continue:

    “Policies invoking this interpretation of the precautionary principle can, therefore, lead to high and uncertain mitigation costs to guard against potentially high but equally uncertain impacts. They are, therefore, ‘fragile’ in the sense that uncertainty in both mitigation costs and impacts make it more difficult for any policy to be adopted, providing a strong incentive to defer decisions until these uncertainties are resolved.” Quite so, and as it should be. “The potentially paralysing impact of uncertainty becomes particularly acute if rational fears of over-mitigating combine with the politics of special interests to create additional pressures on negotiations.” Most of the special interests are in the dangerous warming camp, many of those opposing strong mitigation measures have a broad concern for human well-being rather than a special interest. I place myself in the latter category.

    A somewhat different view was put in a submission to Australia’s UNFCCC Taskforce in April by the Lavoisier Group, drawing in part on behavioural economics, and in particular a paper by Matthew Rabin at Berkeley, entitled “Psychology and economics”. Links:

    http://www.lavoisier.com.au/articles/climate-policy/science-and-policy/Government-Submission-2020-emissions-reductions-ltr.pdf

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/2564950?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    Given that Rabin’s paper was published in 1998, it has long been available to those interested in people’s reactions to warnings of dangerous warming.

    Lavoisier’s Climate Study Group paper says that: “Implications of biases described by Rabin, and listed below, are reviewed for their relevance concerning the hypothesis that human activity will cause dangerous global warming (Climate Change).

    – We infer too much from too little evidence.
    – We misread evidence as confirming a previous held hypothesis.
    – People expect too few lengthy streaks in sequences of random events. There is a misperception that purely random streaks are too long to be purely random.
    – There is a general inability of people to accurately perceive correlation. Illusionary correlation can play an important role in the confirmation of false hypotheses.
    – Once having formed a strong hypothesis people are often inattentive to new information contradicting their hypothesis. There is thus the problem of selective scrutiny of evidence. “

    The authors conclude that “In the context of the analysis in this submission of psychological research and new revelations of how bias can affect decision making, the Authors of this submission recommend the case for reduction of CO2 emissions is not well founded and certainly no Australian post-2020 emissions reduction target could be justified.”

    In the paragraph beginning “In view of these issues,” Otto et al are at least starting to move in the right direction. However, they believe that policymakers should be constrained to, in effect, give more credence in current policies to prospective future dangerous warming, so that if evidence of greater dangers emerges then mitigation measures would automatically be ramped up. My first concern with this is that many governments have reacted strongly to past warnings which were largely based on modelling which has not been borne out by actual developments, and have incurred great expense for no apparent benefit. My second concern is that this approach isolates one policy area and ignores other factors which might influence policy. For example, if economic and/or military crises lead to falling incomes, rising unemployment and a variety of new threats, governments would need to review all policies and priorities in the light of non-climate developments. In addition, given that some governments IMHO give exc essive weight to potential dangers and insufficient weight to economic and other costs, and that alternative governments might and indeed do take a different view, measures that attempt to indefinitely constrain future policy would be undemocratic and unenforceable.

    Long enough for now, perhaps more later.

    Faustino aka Genghis Cunn aka Michael Cunningham

    • there has been no significant warming since 1998

      Michael, the trend from 1900 to 1998 was 0.609 °C/cy, whereas from 1900 to now was 0.764 °C/cy. If what you claim were true the latter should be less, not more.

      Warming since 1998 trended up at 0.734 °C/cy. A couple of factoids:

      * 1900 is not the only year for which warming since then was greater than the warming since 1998. It’s true for every year of 1900-2000 inclusive except 1998. Your choice of 1998 is therefore very special.

      * If you ask for all 15 trends since 1998, 1999, …, 2012, they average 1.75 °C/cy.

    • ” The facts are that late-20th century warming was not exceptional either by the standards of that century or earlier periods”

      Correct!

    • “… That we can not accurately predict the future of warming or other climate changes, and that many with relevant experience doubt the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of current and proposed emissions- reduction programs”

      True. Correct. This is what is important. It’s amazing how CAGW alarmists dodge the important points and fid some minor irrelevancy to argue about. It’s a sign if bad faith and of intellectual dishonesty.

    • Faustino,

      This is an excellent comment. It could be a post on its own.

      + very many.

  51. On the issue of overstating the importance of “climate change” compared to other issues, here’s a letter I sent to The Australian a week ago. The specific incident I refer to occurred during the journalist’s short visit to Vanuatu, the sea level data was the latest I could find.

    “The admirable Kate Legge’s article on the inspirational Gail Kelly had one flaw (“Gail force,” August 1-2). Legge refers to “rising sea levels” as a concern for those on the atoll Aniwa Island. The sea level rise around Vanuatu is negligible at around 2.5 mm a year. Atolls are living bodies which adapt to rises and falls in sea level, and monitoring shows that many have expanded over the last 30 years. Contrast that with real concerns, such as an inter-tribal killing followed by the burning down of tourist properties on which livelihood depends.”

    I can’t believe that sea level rise is of any concern to the impoverished islanders, unless they have been subject to intensive rich-country-activist brain-washing. Faustino

  52. “Smart Quote” from Friday’s Sigma Xi Smart Brief
    Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.” — Theodore Vail, industrialist
    Tomorrow will be more like today than drastically different. How much of mankind’s contributions lie in the uncertainty of geological time behavior? If mankind could effect drastic changes, what would be the result? How sure could mankind be that its changes would be beneficial versus making matters catastrophically worse?

  53. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #191 | Watts Up With That?