Steve Koonin: The tough realities of the Paris climate talks

by Judith Curry

And, overarching all this, the tension between emissions reductions and development is complicated by uncertainties in how the climate will change under human and natural influences and how those changes will impact natural and human systems. – Steve Koonin

You may recall Steve Koonin’s previous op-ed in the WSJ:  Climate science is not settled, which created quite a stir.  Steve Koonin has published a new op-ed today in the NYTimes: The Tough Realities of the Paris Climate Talks.  Steve sent me an annotated version of the op-ed (with numerous foot notes), which I reproduce in full here:

Tough Realities of the Climate Talks

Stabilizing or reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is a distant prospect, so the world must continue to adapt to a changing climate.

By STEVEN E. KOONIN

IN LESS than a month, delegates from more than 190 countries will convene in Paris to finalize a sweeping agreement intended to constrain human influence on the climate. But any post-meeting celebration will be tempered by two sobering scientific realities that will weaken the effectiveness of even the most ambitious emissions reduction plans that are being discussed.

The first reality is that emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas of greatest concern, accumulate in the atmosphere and remain there for centuries as they are slowly absorbed by plants and the oceans.i This means modest reductions in emissions will only delay the rise in atmospheric concentration but will not prevent it. Thus, even if global emissions could be reduced by a heroic average 20 percent from their “business as usual” course over the next 50 years, we would be delaying the projected doubling of the concentration by only 10 years, from 2065 to 2075.ii

Unconditional national commitments made by countries for the Paris meeting are projected to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions through 2030 by an average of only 3 percent below the business-as-usual average rise of 8 percent.iii

This is why drastic reductions would be needed to stabilize human influences on the climate at supposed “safe” levels. According to scenarios used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global annual per capita emissions would need to fall from today’s five metric tons to less than one ton by 2075,iv a level well below what any major country emits today and comparable to the emissions from such countries as Haiti, Yemen and Malawi. For comparison, current annual per capita emissions from the United States, Europe and China are, respectively, about 17, 7 and 6 tons.v

The second scientific reality, arising from peculiarities of the carbon dioxide molecule, is that the warming influence of the gas in the atmosphere changes less than proportionately as the concentration changes.vi As a result, small reductions will have progressively less influence on the climate as the atmospheric concentration increases. The practical implication of this slow logarithmic dependence is that eliminating a ton of emissions in the middle of the 21st century will exert only half of the cooling influence that it would have had in the middle of the 20th century.

These two scientific realities make emissions reductions a sluggish lever for constraining human influences on the climate. At the same time, societal realities conspire to make emissions  reductions themselves difficult. Energy demand, which is strongly correlated with rising incomes and living standards, is expected to grow by some 50 percent by midcentury,vii driven by economic progress in developing countries and by population growth to about 9.7 billion people from the current 7.3 billion.viii

Fossil fuels, which are not running out anytime soon, supply over 80 percent of the world’s energy todayix and are usually the least expensive and most convenient means of meeting growing energy demand. They continue to be widely adopted as the developing world builds its energy-supply infrastructure, because whatever the emissions benefits of technologies such as nuclear fission, carbon sequestration, wind and solar, all currently have drawbacks (including cost, land use and intermittence) that hamper their deployment at scale.

And in the developed world, the energy-supply infrastructure of electric generating plants, transmission lines, refineries and pipelines changes slowly because of the large capital costs and long facility lifetimes, and because different parts of the energy system must work together (for example, cars, their fuel and the fueling infrastructure must all be compatible).

Improvements in energy efficiency can help, but even if today’s annual per capita emissions of three tons in the developing world grew by midcentury to only five tons (about 70 percent of Europe’s per capita emissions today), annual global emissions would increase by 60 percent.x

And, overarching all this, the tension between emissions reductions and development is complicated by uncertainties in how the climate will change under human and natural influences and how those changes will impact natural and human systems.

These scientific and societal realities compound to make stabilization of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, let alone its reduction, a distant prospect. As a result, even as the world struggles to reduce emissions, human influences on the climate will not be decreasing for many decades. Thus, adaptation measures such as raising the height of sea walls or shifting to drought-resistant crops become very important. Fortunately, adaptation is on the table in Paris to complement emissions reductions.

Adaptation can be effective. Humans today live in climates ranging from the tropics to the Arctic and have adapted through many climate changes, including the Little Ice Age about 400 years ago.

Adaptation is also indifferent to whether the climate change is natural or human-induced; it can be proportional, depending upon how much or how quickly the climate changes; and it can be politically easier to accomplish because it does not require a global consensus and has demonstrable local and immediate effects. Adaptation will no doubt be more difficult if the climate changes rapidly (as it has done naturally in the past), and, like emissions reductions, it will induce inequalities, as the rich can adapt more easily than the poor. Adapting ecosystems to a changing climate will require a more careful monitoring and deeper understanding of the natural world than we have today.

The critical role of adaptation in responding to the realities of climate change demands a deeper analysis and more prominent discussion of the nature, effectiveness, timing and costs of various adaptation strategies. But whatever the outcome in Paris, or of future discussions of emissions and the climate, the reality is that humans must continue to adapt, as they always have.

Steven E. Koonin, director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University, was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department from 2009 to 2011. Previously, he was chief scientist for BP, where he worked on renewable and low-carbon technologies.

—————-

i IPCC AR5 TFE.7 Figure 1 shows that, for plausible amounts of carbon dioxide injected into the atmosphere, models suggest only 20% remains after 400 years. IPCC Box 6.1, Figure 1 shows, inconsistently, that 30% remains after 400 years, with the fraction decreasing to about 10% after 10,000 years.

ii Additions to concentration are proportional to the cumulative emissions. If emissions for the next 50 years are reduced by 20% on average, the time must extend an additional 20% (i.e., 20% of 50 years = 10 years) to accumulate the same emissions.

iii The IPCC assessment of the INDCs [http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/07.pdf , Figs 9 and 10] shows that 2030 total ghg emissions (mostly CO2) will be 6% below BAU, or an average reduction of 3% over the coming 15 years, assuming a linear phase in.

iv Figure 10 of http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-011-0148-z#page-1 shows RCP 2.6 stabilizing at about 2.5 W/m2 with Fig 6 showing the CO2 emissions dropping to essentially 0 beyond 2070. Assuming a “danger line” of 2C temperature rise and a climate sensitivity of 3C (mid-point of the IPCC suggested range), RCP2.6 will lead to a “safe” temperature rise. Note that if RCP 4.5 is chosen, the radiative forcing stabilizes beyond 2075 at 4 W/m2, with emissions dropping to about 18 Gt CO2 or 2 t/cap. That would be only 40% of today’s value, but the temperature rise (assuming the same nominal sensitivity), would be 3.2 C, well beyond the 2C deemed “dangerous.”

v http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=90&pid=44&aid=8 . Note that these are CO2 emissions only from consumption of energy

vi The upshot of this point is that having the forcing proportional to the logarithm of concentration (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_forcing ) is like quicksand – it attenuates the impact of any change in concentration (whether increase or decrease).

vii Pg. 1 of http://www.iea.org/textbase/npsum/weo2014sum.pdf states Global energy demand is set to grow by 37% by 2040 … Extrapolation to 2050 gives the 50% number.

viii http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/DataQuery/

ix http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html

x Assume OECD remains constant in emissions and population. Non-OECD population is 6B today, going to 8B in 2050. Non-OECD today has 19 Gt emissions, OECD 13 Gt. Europe per capita emissions today are 7t. So if non-OECD is at 75% of Europe level with a population of 8B, it will emit 40 Gt, which when added to the 12 Gt from OECD, gives 52 Gt, or 60% more than today’s 32 Gt. Published in the New York Times, November 4, 2014 print edition p. A31

JC reflections

Once again, Steve Koonin hits it out of the park with his op-ed.  The political tensions between funding for mitigation and adaptation are the key thing to watch for at the forthcoming Paris confab.

His key point about adaptation is this:

Adaptation is also indifferent to whether the climate change is natural or human-induced; it can be proportional, depending upon how much or how quickly the climate changes; and it can be politically easier to accomplish because it does not require a global consensus and has demonstrable local and immediate effects.

He underscores the futility of changing the climate by CO2 emissions reductions:

Unconditional national commitments made by countries for the Paris meeting are projected to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions through 2030 by an average of only 3 percent below the business-as-usual average rise of 8 percent.

Even if you believe the climate model projections, and that the countries can actually implement the emissions reductions that they have committed to, climate models (running with an ECS=3 C) produce a reduction of warming of only a few tenths of a degree C by 2100.  A sluggish lever indeed; and if the ECS is 2.5C or even below 2C, then even less warming will be mitigated.

I make no predictions as to whether the Paris confab will be successful politically, by I am pretty confident that whatever they accomplish will end up having little impact on the climate of the 21st century.  Exercise in futility, anyone?

256 responses to “Steve Koonin: The tough realities of the Paris climate talks

  1. Pingback: Steve Koonin: The tough realities of the Paris climate talks | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. All climate, as all politics, is local. Adaptation is immediately and emotionally local. Yet, the Masque of Paris nigh.
    ==============

  3. The first reality is that emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas of greatest concern, accumulate in the atmosphere and remain there for centuries as they are slowly absorbed by plants and the oceans.i

    […]

    i IPCC AR5 TFE.7 Figure 1 shows that, for plausible amounts of carbon dioxide injected into the atmosphere, models suggest only 20% remains after 400 years. IPCC Box 6.1, Figure 1 shows, inconsistently, that 30% remains after 400 years, with the fraction decreasing to about 10% after 10,000 years.

    These statements are predicated on several unwarranted assumptions, the most important being that humans don’t develop an exponentially growing technology to remove ambient CO2 for useful purposes.

    Once such technology reaches maturity, if subsequent science determines that it’s needed to remove CO2 that’s being added today, a question that’s still open, it will be much easier to redirect it to sequestration after the fact, or large-scale purposes that don’t involve returning it to the atmosphere.

    • Actually, the primary unwarranted assumption is that *any* technology can remove CO2 without a great deal of cost: energy or otherwise.
      It is amazing how many people trot out the Moore’s law example when Moore’s law actually has to do with the fundamental massless nature of information, not the transistors which convey it.
      For anything else which *does* have mass, Moore’s law isn’t ever going to apply. This means you, solar PV.

      • Actually, the primary unwarranted assumption is that *any* technology can remove CO2 without a great deal of cost: energy or otherwise.

        Ign0rant blather.

        It is amazing how many people trot out the Moore’s law example when Moore’s law actually has to do with the fundamental massless nature of information, not the transistors which convey it.

        More ign0rant blather. “Moore’s Law” has to do with increasing accuracy of applying dopants and conductors to silicon. All three, dopants, conductors, and silicon, have mass.

        For anything else which *does* have mass, Moore’s law isn’t ever going to apply. This means you, solar PV.

        Still more ign0rant blather. Recent research (do you know what that is?) has strongly suggested that all sorts of technologies are subject to exponential growth[Nagy et al. (2013)]:

        But as we demonstrate here, information technologies are not special in terms of the functional form that describes their improvement over time. Information technologies show rapid rates of improvement, but many technologies show exponential improvement. In fact, all the technologies we study here behave roughly similarly: Information technologies closely follow patterns of improvement originally postulated by Wright for airplanes [3]–[8], and technologies such as beer production or offshore gas pipelines follow Moore’s law [9], [10], but with a slower rate of improvement [8], [11]–[15].

        It has nothing to do with the “fundamental massless nature of information,”. in fact:

        This evidence from information technologies [24], and the results presented here, suggest that Moore may perform significantly worse than Wright over longer time horizons.

        Ref:

        Nagy et al. (2013) Statistical Basis for Predicting Technological Progress by Béla Nagy, J. Doyne Farmer, Quan M. Bui, and Jessika E. Trancik

      • Actually, the primary unwarranted assumption is that *any* technology can remove CO2 without a great deal of cost: energy or otherwise.

        Ign0rant blather.

        Energy has a cost. The reason why you pay your heating, cooling and driving, is that someone has to work for that. If it were possible to stop using CO2 and get energy and it wouldn’t need some extra people somewhere to work continuously, companies that now use coal to produce electricity would stop doing that. You personally would not need to do anything, because the companies would find and use the cheaper (effortless) way.

        It is really that simple. The cost is too much. But not only that. Even though you could buy a solar panel and associated tools like batteries and transformers for some price, you also need stuff to make those appliances. Even if you had all the money to solarize the world, you wouldn’t necessarily want to pay the collateral damage which includes mining and using all the lithium, erbium etc. of the world.

        It is really easy to claim solar power is relatively cheap. But even when it is cheap it is not as valuable as coal power. Something can be cheap because it is not useful, not necessarily because it is cheap to produce. Subsidy can make expensive, not valuable stuff inexpensive, but the value does not change. It just means you increased taxing and gave the money to someone who does not produce value. Euro-socialism at its best.

        We have heard that China is moving to solar. Nice. I’ll wait for that. Because China just revised their yearly coal consumption statistics upwards more than the whole use Germany. That is, Germans are free to switch off the toilet lights when they leave, and they are in the margin doing marginal things, but even when they did non-marginal things locally, they are just a side note in the world coal use.

      • @Hugh…

        More ign0rant blather:

        Energy has a cost.

        Wrong. For any specific transaction, there is a cost for a quantity of energy.

        But averages of “cost”, over time, will change depending on changing conditions. You’re confusing a snapshot with a moving target.

        It is really that simple.

        No it’s not. It’s never simple.

        The cost is too much.

        Maybe today. Tomorrow may be a different story. As long as you fail to distinguish between your simplistic snapshots and dynamic reality, all you can produce is blather.

        Even though you could buy a solar panel and associated tools like batteries and transformers for some price, you also need stuff to make those appliances.

        “[B]atteries and transformers”, also inverters, aren’t necessarily needed for many applications of solar power. DC straight from the panel electrodes can be used for electrolysis and CO2 extraction from sea-water. It can also be used for pumps and desalination.

        Even if you had all the money to solarize the world, you wouldn’t necessarily want to pay the collateral damage which includes mining and using all the lithium, erbium etc. of the world.

        Those aren’t required.

      • @AK
        Sadly, you only continue to underscore your fundamental ignorance of Moore’s Law.
        I’ll take one more stab to educate you, then no more.
        Computing is the process of organizing information – specifically 1s and 0s which are used to construct Boolean functions, in turn providing the base for instruction sets, then to operating systems, thence to actual program execution (computing itself).
        1s and 0s have no mass. They are pure information. As such, the transistors which are used to create said 1s and 0s, can be scaled as small as is possible *so long as* they can continue to reliably create said 1s and 0s. Or in other words, a 1 or 0 from a 1970 transistor is no different whatsoever than a 1 or 0 from a 2015 transistor even if the relative sizes of the transistors is 1000 to 1. The primary effect of smaller transistors is to allow the speed of transition to change, but again, so long as 1s turn to 0s and then back, all is good.
        Now, let’s look at solar PV. In Solar PV, photons are captured and then converted to electricity. The actual process is more complicated because the specific physical mechanism (the junction) can generally only capture photons of a small range of wavelengths. One junction does not automatically equal another, and you can even stack junctions.
        Yes, different levels of dopants help, but the cost to dope isn’t free. The numbers of stages in order to create ever more complex structures is why a modern mask set costs $1.5M whereas even a 2000 era mask set might have been $50K. The silicon substrate also has a cost – and it isn’t cheap. It has gone down a little – mostly because larger wafers can be spun these days – but by no means anywhere close to even one order of magnitude.
        But even ignoring all that, the real issue is that junction area is what determines strength of electricity generated. Making a smaller cell does nothing but require more cells to expose the same amount of junction area. Multijunction solar cells just expand the junction area in a single cell but at a ruinous manufacturing cost (2 junctions require more than twice as many masks as 1 junction, and generally more expensive masks to boot).
        Solar PV is thus NOT massless, and *cannot* be scaled like a Moore’s law transistor.

      • @…ticketstopper

        Sadly, you only continue to underscore your fundamental ignorance of Moore’s Law.

        Nope. I understand it, and Wright’s Law, and Learning curve pretty well.

        I’ll take one more stab to educate you, then no more.

        Yeah. Don’t waste both our times trying to pontificate on a subject you don’t understand.

        1s and 0s have no mass. They are pure information. As such, the transistors which are used to create said 1s and 0s, can be scaled as small as is possible *so long as* they can continue to reliably create said 1s and 0s. […] The primary effect of smaller transistors is to allow the speed of transition to change, but again, so long as 1s turn to 0s and then back, all is good.

        Nope. The primaryeffect of smaller transistors” is to allow more of them to be fitted onto the same size piece of silicon. Speed is an added benefit, but the primary effect on cost is generated by using less silicon.

        The silicon substrate also has a cost – and it isn’t cheap. It has gone down a little – mostly because larger wafers can be spun these days – but by no means anywhere close to even one order of magnitude.

        Yes. Packing more transistors onto the same amount of silicon is the primary driver of “Moore’s Law”.

        This obviously won’t drive “Swanson’s Law”, since, as you say, it’s junction area that controls the amount of energy captured. But the junction itself is orders of magnitude thinner than the amount of silicon used in current processes.

        Solar PV is thus NOT massless, and *cannot* be scaled like a Moore’s law transistor.

        Not in exactly the same way. But the silicon can be made thinner. It can, in principle, be made so thin that the cost of the silicon becomes effectively irrelevant.

        I’m sure you are aware of the technology involved, and will provide an explanation of why this couldn’t support at least several halvings of cost of manufacturing solar PV.

        Go ahead…

      • @AK
        ““[B]atteries and transformers”, also inverters, aren’t necessarily needed for many applications of solar power. DC straight from the panel electrodes can be used for electrolysis and CO2 extraction from sea-water. It can also be used for pumps and desalination.”

        Yeah!… Sure!… like saying that the engine is not needed in cars, after all they could ride around pushed by their owners, or pulled by horses, like in the “good ol’ times”, right?

        Let’s forget the nuisance of the heavy losses incurred in electrolysis, shall we?
        Try again.

      • Sadly, your attempts to show your erudition fail mightly.
        Packing more transistors is only possible because the transistors are merely the means to create 1s and 0s. Since 1s and 0s are massless, the size of transistors used to generate them is exactly as I’ve noted above.
        You thus mistake the physical fact of transistor sizes with the function which is the 1s and 0s. The objective isn’t a smaller transistor – it is the 1s and 0s; as quantum computing shows, there are alternate means of creating 1s and 0s which do not require a transistor.
        Equally, you failed to address the other point: that solar PV fundamentally is *not* about information, it is about energy. And you can’t get around the problem of energy by shrinking.
        Making substrate thinner: that’s a laugh. In reality, the substrates are getting relatively *thicker* vs. the transistors because of effects like hot electron. The finished chips are thicker, but that’s because there are now a dozen or more wiring layers on top – but this doesn’t apply to solar PV.
        All you have convinced me of is that you’ve read a lot of books talking the words of theory, but don’t have any real world experience to mitigate the theory with empirical reality.

    • > … humans don’t develop an exponentially growing technology to remove ambient CO2 for useful purposes

      No need, it already exists

      It’s called photosynthesis, catalysed by chlorophyll

      [Ain’t evolution wonderful]

      • Well, improvements in cultured photosynthesis would count as CO2 removal technology. In fact, according to my calculations just one millions square Km, “less than 1/7th the area of Australia” given over to high-intensity cultivation of existing strains of Azolla, an aquatic fern, could draw down ~212Pg, enough to remove 100ppmv from the atmosphere, in 16-17 years.

        Thing is, my back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that it would take an order of magnitude or so less surface area for PV of current efficiency (say, ~20%) to achieve the same result by converting ambient CO2 to methane.

        Energy requirements for simple extraction and sequestration would be an order of magnitude less. Of course, I’m not assuming anybody pulling it out of the air just to bury it, at least not right away.

    • This is a misstatement of the situation.

      1. 400 PPM CO2 is perfectly fine. We don’t need (and don’t ever want) the CO2 level to go lower. Only crazy people talk about returning to 280 PPM.

      2. The CO2 ocean/land absorption is about 5.7 GT/Y. Just multiply 0.047 * (Xco2-280) to determine the absorption from the atmospheric CO2 level.

      3. At 500 PPM the absorption will be 10.4 GT/Y. At the current emissions level we will never hit 500 PPM.

      500 – 400 = 100 PPM.(net desired change in CO2)
      100 * 2 / (10.4 + 5.7) = 12.4 years. (change divided by average absorption)

      If the mean lifetime of the excess is 12.4 years – why bother with removal technology?

      The sweet spot in the CO2 picture is to motor up to 500 PPM at which point we will be beyond 2030 and China will be running out of coal, have its nuclear generators online, and cutting emissions, . Emissions will drop to the absorption level (10.4 GT/Y) or below. This is the “don’t do anything let nature take its course” approach.

      At that point where emissions match absorption we don’t need to anything but kick back and watch the plants grow.

      • PA: The sweet spot in the CO2 picture is to motor up to 500 PPM at which point we will be beyond 2030 and China will be running out of coal, have its nuclear generators online, and cutting emissions, . Emissions will drop to the absorption level (10.4 GT/Y) or below. This is the “don’t do anything let nature take its course” approach.

        where do the 5.4 GT/Y and 10.7 GT/Y absorption figures come from?

        I think you make a better case than the alarmists have made (Hansen, Ehrlich, Holdren, IPCC writers of summaries for policy makers, Trenberth, etc, AAAS officials who keep asking me for money).

      • 3. At 500 PPM the absorption will be 10.4 GT/Y. At the current emissions level we will never hit 500 PPM.

        Really hard science ref here, please.

      • matthewrmarler | November 4, 2015 at 8:30 pm |

        where do the 5.4 GT/Y and 10.7 GT/Y absorption figures come from?

        I actually reviewed and improved what I was doing. I separated out the land/ocean treatment because the physics is different.

        http://cdiac.ornl.gov/GCP/carbonbudget/2014/
        ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_annmean_mlo.txt

        Now the CDIAC data is a bit of a pain because the land absorption is a computed field (from the difference of everything else) and varies +/- 100%. The ocean data also has some bounce to it.

        The sea absorption is 340% of the 1959 absorption.
        The land absorption is 170% of the 1959 absorption (3.0 vs about 1.7).

        The sea absorption is proportional to the difference from the equilibrium partial pressure:
        Ks = 0.02469
        Sea Absorption in GT/Y =Ks*(Xco2-280)

        The land absorption is roughly linear from 300 to 600. The CO2 absorption will double. We’ll construct a linear equation:.
        Kl = 0.0158
        Land Absorption in GT/Y =Kl*(Xco2-316)+1.70

        The CO2 level will never hit 600 so this is good enough for our purposes. Since the amount of vegetation is increasing (11% from 1982 to 2010 per CSIRO) the land performance is better than the CO2 plant curve would indicate.

        Having improved the approach, the absorption at 500 PPM will be:
        4.6072 (ocean) + 5.43138 (land) = 10.0 GT/Y

        The average of the last 5 years (2009-2013) is 5.7 GT/Y from the CDIAC data (the 5.4 was just 2013).

        It is sort of like the pirates code. It isn’t a rule it is more of a guideline.

        Hope that answers the question. Comments are welcome.

      • PA: Hope that answers the question. Comments are welcome.

        Thank you.

        And thank you for this link: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/GCP/carbonbudget/2014/
        ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_annmean_mlo.txt

  4. The table referenced for CO2 production has China emitting ~30% more than the US in 2012, but not on a per capita basis. Does the atmosphere respond to total emissions or per capita emissions? Just sayin’.

    The caveat being we don’t yet understand what impact CO2 actually has on climate.

    • They like the per capita variable as a means to measure climate social justice in order to calculate reparations. Those little tin horn dictators in the UN can’t wait to get their hands on the money so they can buy beach houses in tropical climates and send their brats to ivy league schools.

      They don’t care if blue collar people in the USA have to pay more for gasoline, heat, AC, food, water, user fees, and taxes – that is off their radar.

  5. Then there’s Mother Nature, aided by her two legged helpers. http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a39366/indonesia-fire/
    So, is carbon dioxide really the concern? Why do we focus on that and do zero about real pollutants? Isn’t that far more important? https://youtu.be/hYWZbYnmbQo

  6. On the question of sea level rise, in developed countries it is usually the rich that live in coastal areas. They can afford the hit, IF it comes, and should pay for it.

    In poorer countries, the people on the coast can just pick up the grass hut and move inland.

    For larger coastal cities like NYC, why aren’t they doing something right now if sea level rise is really the big threat as painted by alarmists?

    Even IF it happens, what really are the impacts?

    • For NYC the rhetoric and facts don’t match. With a trend under 3mm/yr that makes any real threat decades away. But the Wall Streeters will be retired by then having moved to Key West where it is not any more threatened. The more I really dig into the sea level rise data, the more holes there are in the hysteria. Globally there certainly are threats, but in almost every case , natural or man-made subsidence is the major contributor. And where the trends are above the global average, they have been that way for generations.

    • Jim, deniers, err doubters, just don’t put enough weight on the fear mongering from warmers (i.e. massive sea level rise). But doubters take heed; a new warmer conspiracy in the U.S. may soon be upon us post Paris. Lack of meaningful change will lead to visceral hate expressed in the media; a crying chorus will ensue from warmer evangelists that deniers are just trying to sink the blue states! Such imagination.

    • “For larger coastal cities like NYC, why aren’t they doing something right now if sea level rise is really the big threat as painted by alarmists? ”
      They are. Its called landfill. Manhattan has more area now that it ever did, despite literally centuries of sea level rise.

    • “For larger coastal cities like NYC, why aren’t they doing something right now if sea level rise is really the big threat as painted by alarmists?”

      This post is the first of several posts (one long one would not publish for me) describing what “they” are doing. The big question now is how will New York City and New York State projections of sea-level rise be used. If they insist on using six feet for their planning how much more will that cost as opposed to other projections.

      New York City has defined what they think the sea-level risk is.

      The New York City Department of City Planning has a web page on climate resilience at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/climate_resilience/index.shtml. The Department in partnership with the New York City Office of Emergency released the latest New York City Hazard Mitigation Plan in April 2014 (http://www1.nyc.gov/site/em/ready/hazard-mitigation.page). On that web page various chapters for the NYC’s Risk Landscape: A Guide to Hazard Mitigation document are listed. The flooding chapter defines their sea-level rise risk: “The New York City Panel on Climate Change, a group of leading scientists and risk management experts convened by the city, developed a range of sea level rise projections (low, medium, and high estimates) over the next century (2020s, 2050s, 2080s and 2100) and found higher sea levels are very likely for New York City in the coming decades. Middle-range projections range from 4 to 8 inches by the 2020’s, 11 to 21 inches by the 2050s, 18 to 39 inches by the 2080s, and by the 2100s, as much as 50 inches.”

    • “For larger coastal cities like NYC, why aren’t they doing something right now if sea level rise is really the big threat as painted by alarmists?” In the second post I describe what New York State is doing.

      New York State passed the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) in 2014. It is intended to “ensure that decisions regarding certain State permits and expenditures consider climate risk, including sea-level rise”. CRRA requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt regulations establishing science-based State sea-level rise projections. On Friday October 30 the Department proposed Part 490, Projected Sea-level Rise (http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/103870.html) which will establish projections of sea-level rise in three specified geographic regions in New York over various time intervals, but will not impose any requirements on any entity. In a couple of weeks there will be a stakeholder meeting to discuss CRRA implementation guidance that will presumably impose requirements on entities.

      A quick google search of New York City sea level rise will bring up news articles saying that New York has to prepare for up to six feet of sea level rise by the end of the century which is an outgrowth of the press release for Part 490 and this summary in the Regulatory Impact Statement:
      “Based in part on this input, the Department proposes to adopt five projections for each of three regions of the State. The three regions of the State are Long Island, New York City and the Lower Hudson River upstream to Kingston, and the Mid-Hudson River from Kingston upstream to the federal dam at Troy. These three regions exhibit small differences in relative sea-level rise due to local conditions. The five projections for these three regions are low, low-medium, medium, high-medium and high. These qualitative terms refer to the rate of rise, not to ultimate water levels, as warming of the Earth system has already resulted in a long-term commitment of at least six feet of global sea-level rise (Strauss, 20131). In other words, while there is some uncertainty regarding the precise rate at which sea level will rise, there is relative certainty that global sea level will ultimately rise at least six feet over current levels. Finally, each of these projections is presented for four different time periods: the 2020s, 2050s, and 2080s, and the year 2100.”

    • “For larger coastal cities like NYC, why aren’t they doing something right now if sea level rise is really the big threat as painted by alarmists?” So New York City says to plan for up to 50 inches by 2100 and the State says prepare for six feet. The NY State Regulatory Impact Statement goes on to explain their rationale:

      “Finally, as explained above, sea-level rise will continue for many centuries as the earth system comes into equilibrium over many centuries or even millennia. Thus, as noted above, the question for decision makers is not if a critical sea level will be reached, but when. Strauss (2013) calculated that historic emissions have already committed the globe to a mean sea-level rise of 6.2 feet. Levermann et al. (2013) estimated that the current international target of 2°C warming will result in an eventual mean global sea-level rise of more than 15 feet after 2000 years. Even some more conservative projections of rates of sea-level rise, e.g., the RISE 50th-percentile RCP 8.5 projection, indicate sea-level rise of approximately six feet within the next 150 years. Thus, a full range of projections in Part 490 that includes higher values is appropriate to allow for consideration of a level of sea-level rise that will likely occur at some point, even if the timing of such occurrence is uncertain.”

      For the record consider the three references:
      “Strauss calculated that historic emissions have already committed the globe to a mean sea-level rise of 6.2 feet.” Strauss holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University, an M.S. in Zoology from the University of Washington, and a B.A. in Biology from Yale University. He now works for the advocacy organization Climate Central. This was not a published paper it was published as “commentary” and the pedigree of the author suggests that determining an alarming result was more or less pre-ordained.

      “Levermann et al. (201320) estimated that the current international target of 2°C warming will result in an eventual mean global sea-level rise of more than 15 feet after 2000 years.” This kind of stretches the implications of the “timing of such occurrence is uncertain” and certainly is something that weakens the use of the number for a policy application such as this.

      The claim that there is a conservative projection for six feet at the 50th percentile relies on the RCP 8.5 projection. The RCP 8.5 projection is used by the IPCC for modeling scenarios consistent with back-calculated emissions that would result in a forcing of 8.5 watts per m2. Simply put, the assumptions necessary to get there are beyond unlikely. It assumes world population will be 12 billion in 2100 but the best guess today is under ten billion. It assumes increasing reliance on coal world-wide but has already been invalidate by the switch to natural gas in the US. Moreover, it assumes slow technological improvements in low-carbon technologies further exacerbating coal use and assumes slow economic growth which reduces the amount of efficiency implemented. Therefore using this in any way is not “conservative”.

    • “For larger coastal cities like NYC, why aren’t they doing something right now if sea level rise is really the big threat as painted by alarmists?” Ultimately I think many readers here prefer data over model projections. The observed sea level rise data tells a much different story.

      The mean sea level trend at the Battery, New York City http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8518750 summary states:
      “The mean sea level trend is 2.84 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.09 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1856 to 2014 which is equivalent to a change of 0.93 feet in 100 years.”

      The mean sea level trend at Montauk Point
      http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8510560 states
      “The mean sea level trend is 3.24 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.28 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1947 to 2014 which is equivalent to a change of 1.06 feet in 100 years.” So in order to get the model projected values the sea-level rise is going to have to accelerate by six times the observed rate and a quick look at the data shows no indication of any acceleration in rate.

      Again, the question is just how will they use their projections. Stay tuned.

    • “In poorer countries, the people on the coast can just pick up the grass hut and move inland.”

      This sets a new standard for ignorance.

      • This sets a new standard for inability to detect tongue-in-cheek comments.

      • jim2,

        You could have responded by saying something like: “Sorry, I meant that as a tongue-in-cheek comment, I should have made that clearer.”

        But you elected to set a new standard for a lack of maturity.

  7. Steve Fitzpatrick

    A very good editorial, but one which will only make him, even more than he already is, an object of loathing among those who insist on unrealistic public energy policies. Such is the state of green politics: stating these uncomfortable political realities will not go unpunished. IMO, the Paris confab will be little more than Kabuki theater; few in attendance want an outcome that is congruent with reality. They want only a fantastic plan….. one which will never actually happen.

  8. He prefers to consign the world to endless adaptation as a drain to its economy, rather than saving a lot of the long-term cost with early and effective mitigation. His other assumption is that fossil fuels will not be replaced by non-fossil alternatives in the next half century despite the rapid decline in their costs and other new technologies that will also be passed to the poorer nations. As a prognostication of how the world’s energy sources will evolve, it is very myopic.

    • His other assumption is that fossil fuels will not be replaced by non-fossil alternatives in the next half century despite the rapid decline in their costs and other new technologies that will also be passed to the poorer nations.

      Not really. If they (fossil fuels) are replaced, without significant impact to energy costs or political/economic structures, his logic WRT adaptation remains valid. After all, nobody’s really predicting major changes to climate. Just minor adjustments of the sort that have been happening since the end of the last glaciation.

    • Mitigation scenarios save 2-4 W/m2 which is 1-2 C even with conservative sensitivities. Those are the numbers the UN talks about, so people like Koonin are just not on the same page with even the basic numbers.

      • The numbers the UN talks about are BS, yimmy. Meaningful mitigation is not going to happen. Koonin is just keepin it real.

      • Jim D: Mitigation scenarios save 2-4 W/m2 which is 1-2 C even with conservative sensitivities.

        Those are scenarios. Steve Koonin gave the reasons why he thinks that the actual world will not change according to those scenarios. With or without scenarios, natural oscillations of flood, drought, warm and cool will continue, and in most places adaptation to them is already required.

      • Why do people consider Koonin as all knowing when he doesn’t even talk about the scenarios and how they play out? He talks about building sea walls as one concession, but what about the effect of climate change on especially vulnerable poorer communities that rely on their environment? What he can’t answer, he hopes nobody will notice, or assumes they can just adapt.

      • John Carpenter

        “but what about the effect of climate change on especially vulnerable poorer communities that rely on their environment? ”

        Simple, it’s going to hit them harder. Survival of the fittest and all that.

      • Why do people consider Koonin as all knowing when he doesn’t even talk about the scenarios and how they play out?

        Why do people consider Newton to have been such a genius when he didn’t “even talk about” how many angels could dance on the head of a pin?

    • JimD. The History of the World is one of continual adaptation. It’s is and will be business as usual. We are already very good at it. We modern humans have had hundreds of thousands of years of practice. Da nada.

      • It is even more a world of invention, and that is the way out of it, primarily used towards mitigation and saving the need for adaptive measures and damage costs. Fifty years is a long time, and, while some think sea walls and a/c are all you need, that is naive view to say the least.

      • 1. Invention is also a major adaptation technique. Don’t like the mountain in your way? Blow it up with dynamite :)
        2. If you think you know what we will need in fifty years, it’s you who are “naive to say the least.”

      • So jimd, if we mitigate away, will the climate stop changing? Will we no longer have extreme weather events? If we control co2, will we control the climate such that we will achieve some mythical utopian stable state? And if so, what exactly is that perfect stable state? Does it resemble the climate of the polar latitudes or the equatorial latitudes, or something in between? If you select any one of these, what will you tell those who prefer one over the other?

    • Curious George

      Early and effective mitigation? Can you suggest any other than World War III?

      From the other side, do you believe that the 1950 climate was ideal, optimal, and created by God himself, and must be preserved?

    • Jim D:
      “He prefers to consign the world to endless adaptation as a drain to its economy…”
      Who is doing the consigning here? We are the product of thousands of years of adaptation. We settled Minnesota despite its cold by adapting to it, not by changing the climate. If it gets hot here, we’ll adapt to that, growing produce perhaps rather than grains. If growing season lengths change, we’ll pick longer or shorter time frame maturity seeds. Control knob answers aren’t going to do much to maximize production. Adaptation is a drain versus static repeated sameness. That drain is minimized with an agile approach. Mitigation is anything but agile. Let’s say the question is our food security (and affordability) along with a fair amount of the world’s food security. Mitigation doesn’t get traction, and is a poor choice compared to agility. Say we improve drought resistant corn. With the expected changes, that’s an answer we want.

      • As I mentioned above, we tend to invent ways out of problems. In this case mitigation rather than adaptation will be the optimal path of invention because that offers permanent solutions rather than temporary patches. Some have trouble realizing the economies offered by this route.

      • bedeverethewise

        When do you plan to invent the solution Jim? Or are you going to demand that someone else do that, on your schedule?

      • In this case mitigation rather than adaptation will be the optimal path of invention because that offers permanent solutions rather than temporary patches.

        Actually, even if humans stopped emitting fossil CO2 tomorrow, adaptation would still be necessary.

        History makes it clear that the “climate” goes through many state changes, as well as sending the occasional rare occurrence. Adaptation is necessary regardless of “mitigation”.

    • saving a lot of the long-term cost with early and effective mitigation

      Not many of us see working plans for mitigation that would not kill the patient. Not many of us see so much a problem that mitigation would be necessary.

      I’m sure the world can take sea level rise of 1cm / year. It will cost at some places, and it might be Venice will be inconvenient to stay, but it definitely is easier to build a dam around Venice than try to stop China from using its coal. 3mm a year is just not something that makes anyone jump.

      Should something drastic happen, like sea level start rising 10cm a year, well then I guess mitigation could be cheaper, but it was also said by doomsters already almost ten years ago that it is too late in 2015.

      Doomsters think that they can force mitigation by predicting or projecting doom, but they don’t realize their story has to be consistent. For example, if you are telling sea level is rising because Antarctic glacier ice melts, you should actually have science which says it melts and not science that says the ice grows. I’m not going to mitigate a non-problem.

      • Not many of us see working plans for mitigation that would not kill the patient.

        Perhaps if you didn’t have your eyes squinched tightly shut…

        Not many of us see so much a problem that mitigation would be necessary.

        Wouldn’t that depend on the cost of the solution?

        Rather than spout ign0rant straw-man arguments based on high-cost “solutions” of CAGW watermelons, why not look at how to deal with the problem CHEAPLY?

        Then, look at whether the reduced risk justifies the low-impact solutions available.

  9. In response to Kim’s suggestion that we remove CO2 from the atmosphere for useful purposes. I’m in the CO2 business and we have looked at this. The cost of compression is way too high for this to be practical. CO2 must be compressed to roughly 1300 psi to be put in a pipeline. It has to be in the supercritical state to be pumped efficiently. Plus the water content has to be minimal to avoid dangerous corrosion, this can only be achieved if it is supercritical. The costs of the compressors to go from 400 ppm atmospheric to 1300 psi and fully dehydrated are astronomical. Cheaper to plant trees and install irrigation to keep them alive and growing. Outstanding article! Loved reading it.

    • It was AK, and I don’t think he was restricting himself to removing it as a gas. But, yes, trees; they’re cheap, and so is nearly every other blessed chlorophyll containing critter extant.
      ==============

    • CO2 must be compressed to roughly 1300 psi to be put in a pipeline. It has to be in the supercritical state to be pumped efficiently. Plus the water content has to be minimal to avoid dangerous corrosion, this can only be achieved if it is supercritical. The costs of the compressors to go from 400 ppm atmospheric to 1300 psi and fully dehydrated are astronomical.

      You’re including a lot of unwarranted assumptions.

      If, for instance, CO2 replacement is used as a method of mining sea-floor methane hydrate, it can be extracted right there (at the ocean surface). No pipelines needed.

      You also have no business assuming that the pipelines will be made of corrodible materials, just because that’s what’s been used in the past. Even if/where pressure needs to be contained, carbon-fiber reinforced plastic would work far better.

      And there’s no need to contain pressure for long-distance transport across the ocean. Just carry it at a depth equivalent to the pressure you want.

      Of course, that’s all new technology. The nay-sayers almost always seem to set up their straw men by assuming existing technology. That’s (part of) why they’re straw men.

      • Some people tend to assume that technology, which works fine inside their heads will become available in the real world at an affordable price.

      • Some people assume that any technology that isn’t mature will never get that way.

      • That is why there are standards / guidelines for technology evaluation with terms ranging from:
        “Unproven idea/proposal Paper concept. No analysis or testing has been performed ”
        to
        “Proven technology”
        Most ideas never survives all the way to proven technology.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_readiness_level

      • Your CO2 replacement statement makes no sense, where does the CO2 come from? Carbon fiber costs 4x to 6x as much as high Carbon steel with plastic corrosion resistant coatings, economically it is a non-starter. Long distance transport by submarine?? No way. The compression must occur, the electricity costs alone are prohibitive. Not to mention the compressor costs, typically $100,000 or more apiece with a 10 year life if you are lucky.

      • And, AK, CO2 sequestration more than likely isn’t even necessary. So, this would just be a colossal waste of money.

      • Carbon fiber costs 4x to 6x as much as high Carbon steel with plastic corrosion resistant coatings, economically it is a non-starter.

        Take a look at what’s happened to its price over the last few decades.

        I’ll repeat my statement: Some people assume that any technology that isn’t mature will never get that way.

      • jim2: So, this would just be a colossal waste of money.

        Why assert positively that the technologies can never be made economically for any purposes? Carbon-based materials are a large fraction of the mass of golf clubs and Boeing 787s. And decorative ornamentations made by hobbyists.

      • The energy cost to collect, compress and transport carbon dioxide will always exceed the benefit from its reduction in the atmosphere. Think of Maxwell’s demon – you can’t put the genie back in the bottle with less energy than was released in the first place. Another name for it: entropy.

      • @Andy May…

        Your CO2 replacement statement makes no sense, where does the CO2 come from?

        You need to stop with your knee-jerk nay-saying. We were talking about ambient CO2 extraction. I brought up CO2 replacement in mining sea-floor methane hydrate clathrate because it could be done a few hundred meters down from where the CO2 is extracted from sea-water.

        Long distance transport by submarine?? No way. The compression must occur, the electricity costs alone are prohibitive.

        Typical nay-sayer’s straw-man argument. No compression is necessary.

      • The energy cost to collect, compress and transport carbon dioxide will always exceed the benefit from its reduction in the atmosphere.

        Whistling in the dark.

        Think of Maxwell’s demon – you can’t put the genie back in the bottle with less energy than was released in the first place.

        Putting “the genie back in the bottle” would mean converting CO2 and water back to fuel and oxygen. The energy to remove diffuse CO2 is an order of magnitude smaller than the energy yielded in burning even carbon, much less hydrocarbon fuels in oxygen.

        Another name for it: entropy.

        Wrong.

    • Andy May: In response to Kim’s suggestion that we remove CO2 from the atmosphere for useful purposes. I’m in the CO2 business and we have looked at this.

      The idea is to make useful stuff from the CO2 like fuel and fibers. Demonstrations show that it is possible. Whether the costs can be reduced sufficiently for it to make economic sense is not known. Trees and algae, among many plant species, already make useful stuff from CO2, such as O2, cotton, food, and cellulose. How much of extra economic value can be obtained from massive new plantings is also not known, but reforestation is valuable in many places without considering the fuel and housing that can result.

      The only thing we can say about the technologies of 2100 is that we will have a lot of them that we don’t have now, and the economics will be different from what we can clearly foresee. Well, we can be confident they won’t violate the laws of gravity and thermodynamics, but not much else.

  10. Prof Curry, you’ll have seen this NYT news piece about China data showing they’ve put 900 million metric tonnes more CO2 into the atmosphere than previously realised – I think since 2000.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/world/asia/china-burns-much-more-coal-than-reported-complicating-climate-talks.html?smid=tw-share

    Doesn’t this change an awful lot of climate science?

    Temp rise has been ‘paused’ in the period when CO2 emissions have been much higher than the science has understood. Right?

    • 900 million metric tonnes more CO2

      Then the carbon sinks must be taking up more CO2 then previously thought. We have missin heat, missing CO2 etc etc etc but we can predict what the temperature of the earth will be in 2100 with great accuracy.

    • The climate change science is mostly impacted by atmospheric concentrations. If China was emitting more and concentrations increased as they did, then we can conclude whatever removes co2 seems to be even more efficient than estimated.

      • Sure the biomic sink is increasing, and probably commensurate with the 20-30% greening noted on land; Gaia only knows what’s happening in the oceanic biome.

        And why shouldn’t the sink increase as CO2 rises, likely recruiting more previously unknown sequestering mechanisms the higher it goes?

        We may not need to breed giant trees, or even ever be forced to anthropogenically remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
        ==========================

      • If China was emitting more and concentrations increased as they did, then we can conclude whatever removes co2 seems to be even more efficient than estimated.

        This is very good news. The question of how much CO2 will grow with current emissions is little discussed, as if we’d hit 2xCO2 and doom just like that. What I see is increasing difficulty to increase CO2 content of the atmosphere. At this pace we’ll hit 450 in 30 years, but will we hit 500 in 70 years?

        Doomsters have the committed warming monster under their bed. I’m not convinced yet.

  11. ==> “Fossil fuels, … are usually the least expensive and most convenient means of meeting growing energy demand.”

    As long as (1) we look at the level of “convenience” as static rather than changing over time and, (2) we don’t even bother to consider the relative external costs of different energy resource pathways.

    It would be interesting to see a prominent “skeptic” show that they’re taking their advocacy for adaptation seriously by a comprehensive campaign to promote a mechanism for funding adaptation on local and international scales.

    Many “skeptics” like to like to argue that they’re not simply dismissing the risks associated with ACO2 emissions in that they’re advocating for adaptation over mitigation. But many “skeptics” also, ideologically, reject large government funding infrastructures on local and international scales.

    I find hat quite interesting.

    It’s awful easy to say that you have a more practical approach than a more “costly” approach (without actually quantifying costs) without actually explaining how you’re going to fund your preferred approach. You can just hand wave at “adaptation” and talk of how it would be better, even if those who most vociferously oppose mitigation reject the mechanisms that would be required to fund adaptation.

    sameosameo.

    • Joshua,
      This post does need a reply. Your base assumption on how adaptation has and will be funded is incorrect. You are leaving out the ongoing funding of normal infrastructure maintenance and replacement – and of course new infrastructure required for an increased world population. Of our roads, homes, commercial buildings, and other forms of infrastructure, only a small percentage will not have been replaced or removed by the end of this century. This is the normal process of maintenance, growth, and readjustments for technological and societal changes. CO2 reductions do not address that issue. Most of the funding for adaptation is automatically part of the infrastructure evolutionary process.

      • Gary –

        Well, sure ongoing funding for normal infrastructure maintenance should be included, as well as new infrastructure that would be a “normal” course of events beyond what might be directed at climate adaptation infrastructure.

        However, (1) Koonin was not referring to either in his advocacy for adaptation in contrast to mitigation

        Thus, adaptation measures such as raising the height of sea walls or shifting to drought-resistant crops become very important.

        and (2) we seem to be struggling to find funding to sufficiently maintain our existing infrastructure (which is part of my point, as there are many who are ideologically aligned against such funding) and (3), the normal course of infrastructure development and support, of which you speak, won’t be sufficient to meet future needs (see Koonin’s reference to “raising” and “shifting,” and (4) the normal course of infrastructure development and support, of which you speak, won’t do much for large populations who don’t, as a matter of course, have the option of financing infrastructure maintenance or development.

        In the end, the question remains…where will the funding come from to build infrastructure that targets future needs? IMO, it is problematic to pit adaptation and mitigation against each other…but even more so to hand wave at the benefits of adaptation (vs mitigation) without addressing the questions of funding in a realistic manner (let alone comprehensively address the relative costs associated with different energy resource pathways, respectively) .

      • Joshua,

        Cute reply! You are saying there is not enough money to fund maintenance and improvement of existing infrastructure and that adaptation efforts are not affordable. Your alternative appears to be diverting part of that infrastructure maintenance money to CO2 mitigation efforts.

        Sorry old boy but that is plain silly logic.

        Again: CO2 mitigation efforts takes funding from infrastructure maintenance and growth. Adaptation is simply smart use of funding while maintaining and improving infrastructure.

      • Gary –

        ==>“You are saying there is not enough money to fund maintenance and improvement of existing infrastructure and that adaptation efforts are not affordable. ”

        No. I’m not saying that. I think that it is entirely affordable. It’s a matter of priorities and values that determines whether it is “affordable” or not. I’m saying that it doesn’t happen now, sufficiently, because of political opposition, and it isn’t meaningful to just hand wave at future adaptation that will require (exponentially?) more funding without addressing the likelihood of political opposition in the future (much, from the ideological brethren of those who are calling for adaptation). It serves a rhetorical purpose to do so, of course, but it isn’t serious engagement with the issues at hand.

        ==> “Your alternative appears to be diverting part of that infrastructure maintenance money to CO2 mitigation efforts.”

        Well, I think that there should be funding for both, so in a sense, yes, I am saying that I think there should be policies implement that would in effect result in a net loss for adaptation per se (since there isn’t an unlimited supply of funding). But then again, why should we believe that absent spending on mitigation there will be sufficient funding available for adaptation – particularly in the developing world – because of the existing obstacles to funding. If the goal is to increase adaptive infrastructure, then advocates for adaptation vs. mitigation should get going on a realistic plan to address those obstacles. How’s that going to work, exactly, when the opposition to spending on mitigation is the same ideological block that opposes government spending on adaptation?

        This is like when “skeptics” argue that children are starving in Africa because of efforts to support renewable energy, based on a facile assumption that absent the efforts to support renewables, those resources would be redirected towards saving starving children, or that it would be redirected in ways that would be optimally beneficial and efficient, and that further, we should just ignore any potential of a long-term negative impact from redirecting those funds.

    • “It would be interesting to see a prominent “skeptic” show that they’re taking their advocacy for adaptation seriously by a comprehensive campaign to promote a mechanism for funding adaptation on local and international scales.”

      Your solution to every problem is government. Doubleplusgood, comrade!

      • Mechanism for evolution and adaptation are already in place. That is what societies does, that is what societies has always done – tried their best to cope with the challenges at hand.

        By the United Nations climate theory everything is allowed, more rain, less rain, more ice, less ice, more drought, less drought, more wind, less wind – and the oceans are rising anyhow. How on earth do you think United Nations shall be able to distinguish bad weather, or lasting dire conditions from climate change induced by CO2 in accordance with their hypotheses?
        I think that some may believe that all possible weather records has already been set at all locations on earth – and that all new records must be due to climate change. Clearly this is not so.

    • Joshua,
      You are basing your argument on who you think skeptics are and presupposing how they think. If I were to do the same with the warmist camp I’d be just as wrong. Besides some are in both camps.

      sameosameo

      • ordvic –

        There’s a sh*tton of evidence about the association between beliefs on climate change and ideological orientation. It isn’t just an assumption on my part. I don’t make any assumptions about any particular individuals.

        There is no doubt that in general, “skeptical” beliefs about climate change are associated with anti-government ideology (at least in the U.S.) and sub-groups who, in general, oppose government spending on infrastructure. There is even a “dose-dependent” relationship between conservative/libertarian ideology and climate change “skepticism” (in other words, mainstream Republicans are more aligned with Independents in their views on climate change than they are with Tea Partiers).

      • Yes and since you’re on the opposite side you paint them as somehow evil. Libertarians are actually usually very patriotic and see Keynesnian economics as anti-liberty. They see climate change as a ruse for more government programs and spending. They think that people are being brainwashed by an ideology and that climate change is just another devise for promoting that ideology that is diminishing individual liberty.

    • The skeptics aren’t likely to be deely involved in a solution if they suspect there is no problem. There is no empirical evidence showing that co2 level EVER had any impact on our temperature, even over geologic periods when co2 level was several times higher than now. Dr. Craig Ipso states that during the four interglacials before our current one, the temperature was 2 degrees higher than (so far) in our current interglacial, yet co2 level is 40% higher.

      The alarmists have NOTHING even close to a plausible hypothesis. A crowded gym with poor ventilation can be at 1,000 ppmv. Submarine crews live in 5,000 to 8,000+ppmv environments for months – nothing out of the ordinary noted. (Of course, some folks now claim that co2 affects intelligence, and president Carter was a submariner…..

      • ==> “The skeptics aren’t likely to be deely involved in a solution if they suspect there is no problem. “

        Yes, that was my point. hence, Konnin’s advocacy for adaptation is a rhetorical device with shallow roots.

  12. “Even if you believe the climate model projections, and that the countries can actually implement the emissions reductions that they have committed to, climate models (running with an ECS=3 C) produce a reduction of warming of only a few tenths of a degree C by 2100.”

    Which is, of course, completely irrelevant to the global warming movement.

  13. Unfortunately Dr Koonin falls in the trap of referencing his ideas to the “business as usual” IPCC 8.5 case. I suspect he never researched what it takes to increase oil production to the 160+ million barrels of oil per day assumed by the RCP8.5 model. I think it’s impossible no matter what we do.

    I also note the misleading statements made by some parties regarding our ability to extract such huge volumes without breaking the world economy. The recent statement by BP is sheer misdirection. It starts aiming at blaming their inability to find and produce oil to “the fight against the climate”.

    • richardswarthout

      Fernando

      It appears that you and Rud have similar ideas regarding the production of fossil fuels over the next twenty years; that production will fall drastically due to market forces, and that oil will be the first to go. Could you provide a link with more detail?

      Rud: Is Blowing Smoke sufficiently up to date? There’s been lots happening in the oil, coal, and natural gas industries of late. I plan to get the book, but do I need some supplemental reading material?

      Richard

      • Richard, Blowing Smoke was fully current when published a year ago. The only thing thatnhas happened since is the Saudi engineered oil price war to curtail Canadian tar sand and US shale oil production. That is working, and one can expect oil back around $100 by yearend 2016. Two reasons. 1. US shale oil decline curves and halved rig counts. 2. Venezuela, Iran, and even the Saudis need it there to prevent societal disruption.
        Remember that ‘peak oil’ is not about how much is left (although that can be estimated). It is about the rate at which what remains can be extracted at what cost. For conventional petroleum (defined as viscosity API>10 in porous reservoirs >8% with pemeability >10 millidarcies) the production peak was reached in 2008. The present decline rate is about 5.1%/year in existing conventional fields, with only a few new giants brought on a year, mostly costly Arctic or deepwater. A number of estimating methods say the overall peak including all unconventional petroleumwill be between 2020 and 2030 ( my own most likely year is 2023). In 2012 the IMF estimated that will in short order cause crude prices to be over $200/bbl. quite economically disruptive, as FL points out.
        There is much more detail on fossil fuels in my first ebook, Gaia’s Limits, including coal and gas to liquids (needing, guess what, $200/ bbl to be viable). Simply because food calories and liquid transportation fuels are the two foreseeable (IMO) ‘pinch points’ by mid century given current projections for global population growth at current or increased GDP. And innovation is very unlikely to remove either carrying capacity constraint, as many hope and some believe. Both books touch on energy innovation; Gaias Limits goes into great detail for food.

  14. “…eliminating a ton of emissions in the middle of the 21st century will exert only half of the cooling influence that it would have had in the middle of the 20th century”

    The way I would usually put this is

    “… *producing* a ton of emissions in the middle of the 21st century will exert only half of the *warming* influence that it would have had in the middle of the 20th century”.

    Glass half full or glass half empty?

  15. Intermittent, inefficient renewables rely on fossil fuels
    for fabrication and to run alongside them as back-up.
    Wouldn’t you think that the Club of Paris, if genuinely
    concerned with emissions’ reduction and not the West’s
    industrial reduction, would be advocating for efficient
    Nuclear energy?

    • Why use nukes when we already have rocket jet technology moving right along.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/11967229/Want-to-fly-at-2500mph-BAE-Systems-does-and-is-willing-to-pay-20m-for-it.html

      MPG will be a thing of the past when we are really in a big hurry.

    • Beth — From an engineering perspective, your ubiquitous statement is just flat wrong. Again, you (and others) need to read about what a natural gas combined cycle is and its flexibility.

      Your paradigm that each new increment of intermittent Renewables needs an associated new increment of fossil fuel generation is just flat wrong.

      A valid argument is that Renewables must always follow sound engineering economics in their penetration level.

      • Well, sort of.

        Renewables forced the Fitzpatrick reactor (and about 5 other reactors offline).

        That creates emissions with the need to cover some of the lost baseline capacity of the nuclear plant. If the wind installed capacity is less than 100% of the reactor output fossil fuels will replace 65-70% the lost energy.

        If the wind capacity is more than 100% there will be less additional emissions but some of the time the windmills will just be spinning like a child’s toy, and producing the same amount of output, which greatly increases the cost per kilowatt.

        Replacing a nuclear reactor with renewables is just mindlessly stupid.

      • No storage is a problem for intermittent renewables
        and you can’t always borrow from the neighbour.
        http://www.poyry.com/sites/default/files/imce/files/intermittency_-_march_2011_-_energy.pdf

      • richardswarthout

        Stephen

        You are wrong; the engineering perspective of which you speak is the wrong perspective. Wrong book, wrong chapter. Closely looking at the trees and not seeing the forest. Nobody doubts the feasibility of incrementally adding renewables to an existing system that already has sufficient back up capacity, only that there is a limit; renewables need back up, whether it be existing back up or new back up. Beth is not wrong.

        Richard

      • Beth and Richard Your paradigm of how integrated System Planning is done is just wrong. The proof can be especially illustrated in the Southeastern U.S. where natural gas use has dramatically increased — with very little increase in Renewables.

        Its engineering economics — where combined cycle natural gas units have become the “technology of choice” in replacing an aging fleet of power plants (especially coal).

        A natural gas combined cycle unit has tremendous flexibility in meeting base, intermediate, and yes, peaking load.

        This increased flexibility can allow for greater penetration of cost effective Renewable options (like solar for peaking load) — where engineer system planners would be following “solid” engineering economics.

      • Engineering perspective is not enough. You need to consider politics and economics. If the government mandates renewable use, economics may force the closure of nuclear which can’t turn and and off on a dime. Then the nuclear has to be replaced by fossil to back up the renewables.

      • Greg — As a “Greenie Conservative”, I’ve been very clear on this — agreeing with you. Many of us GOP Greenies dislike (A) a carbon tax because its regressive and ignores international manufacturing realities; (B) cap & trade as just another Wall St. play-toy of a financial derivative.

        But to directly address your point — Us Greenies dislike a (C) Federal Renewable Energy Portfolio Mandate that puts decision making in the hands of Politicians rather than our engineers (where it belongs).

      • SS, Planning Engineer and I covered this ina series of three guest posts recently for wind, solar, and grid storage. As you point out, it is penetration dependent. But as we point out, greater than 10% penetration sharply increases LCOE because of intermittency redundancy. Denmark and Germany are specific examples in our guest posts.

      • Rud — Personally, I believe that if you, I, and PE had lunch together it would be very pleasant — with me probably agreeing with 99% of what you and PE have said. How could it be any other way, with all three of us professionally trained in engineering economics? (specifically knowing our way around integrated system planning models, like from GE).

        The problem we have here at CE is that most/many of the most vocal folks only listen to negative comments on Renewables — and close their eyes and ears to positive and solid engineering aspects.

        Also, the U.S. isn’t Europe — and the U.S. has a long, long way to go, on say solar with a current penetration level of about one-half of 1%.

      • SS…

        Your message to Rud and PE…I’m having a hard time with autocorrect here…How do you spell “obsequious”?

      • justinwonder — Will you ever come up with a germane technical engineering question that one can respond to?

        You’re not a serious player on this blog — just serious in sophomoric bloviation.

      • richardswarthout

        Stephen

        I sense that you are not comprehending what Beth and I wrote. We wrote only that renewables need back up power sources; nothing about natural gas or each each new increment of renewables. Is this becoming more frequent, targeting denizens for things not written? Presuming what was written rather than reading what was written?

        Richard

      • Richard — Technically, everything needs backup — that’s what an integrated electricity system is all about. Guess what — pulverizers at coal power plants jam.

        You, Beth, and others just don’t even try and understand engineering concepts, like ELCC — where expected available capacity on solar can be +80%.

      • SS,

        “justinwonder — Will you ever come up with a germane technical engineering question that one can respond to?

        You’re not a serious player on this blog — just serious in sophomoric bloviation.”

        I can smell your desperation from here. For a long time you have pitched the renewables game and now you have added the fist mitigation meme.

        As for engineering questions, I doubt you would understand them. IAC, you still owe me the answers to some questions:

        1. What is 2×7%? Hint: it’s double the current “penetration” of renewables.

        2. Do carbon credits, carbon trading, etc. help you sell your trees?

        Every time you post on JC’s blog you get pounded, as you should. Please do look up the meaning of “rope a dope”.

      • Justinwonder — Have you ever taken an engineering course involving electricity generation or engineering economics? Without Googling do you know what integrated resource planning is? Have you ever run an integrated planning model (such as GE has)? Many U.S. Utilities use software I wrote, called PROVAL (project evaluation model) on levelized revenue requirements. Have you ever used it?

      • Stephen Segrest | November 4, 2015 at 8:04 pm |
        Justinwonder — Have you ever taken an engineering course involving electricity generation or engineering economics? Without Googling do you know what integrated resource planning is? Have you ever run an integrated planning model (such as GE has)? Many U.S. Utilities use software I wrote, called PROVAL (project evaluation model) on levelized revenue requirements. Have you ever used it?

        Well…

        Since this is your expertise – what is the result of replacing 838 MW of baseband nuclear generation with renewable (wind) energy?

        How much average emission generating capacity is needed?

      • PA — If you were a serious player with system planning expertise you’d know you’ve asked a silly question. Replacing nuclear generation involves looking at an entire integrated System. Your question wants to assume a System with only 1 asset (nuclear) and replacing it with wind. Another example of a silly strawman here at CE.

        In replacing nuclear, one would have to know the integrated system you are talking about. A system say in New England with access to Canadian hydro and a fleet of shinny new combined cycle natural gas units would have a different answer than a System not having these flexible system characteristics.

        I’m just not going to respond to non serious players here at CE anymore.

    • BtS, you make too much sense. There is so much money to be made in renewables, carbon credits, fuel tax monies to NGOs, cash flowing to new politicians ( or to the old guard in CA, the climate hostage state).

      Here are some numbers:

      17% : amount of total electricity generated for the state of Massachussetts by one soon-to-be-closed-by-green-nuts nuclear power plant.

      20% : amount of total electricity used by the state of Georgia, USA, and provided by two nuclear power plants.

      7% : total amount of electricity provided to the state of California ( population appx. 40,000,000 ?) by two nuclear reactors on only 900 acres of land of that enormous state.

      Those numbers should provide a clue to the thoughtful, but when greed, pride, and social status are the drivers of behavior the numbers are invisible.

    • Concerning “intermittent, inefficient renewables,” the UK currently has an energy crisis. The Telegraph reports that coal plant breakdowns and low wind power output have forced the National grid to pay dozens of businesses to reduce their average energy usage. (The cost is added to consumers’ bills.) I know that in Australia, green policies have made it uneconomical to properly maintain coal-fired plants, perhaps it’s the same in the UK. “National Grid blamed the power crunch on “multiple plant break downs”. Several ageing coal-fired power plants had unexpected maintenance issues and temporarily shut down, experts said, reducing available supplies. The problem was compounded by low wind speeds meaning most of Britain’s 6,500 onshore and offshore wind turbines were barely generating any power just as demand hit its highest. UK wind farms have a theoretical maximum capacity of more than 13,000 megawatts, but produced less than 400 megawatts of power for much of the peak demand period – meeting less than one per cent of the UK’s electricity needs, published data suggests. Britain’s 8,000 megawatts of solar panel capacity would also have produced no power during the peak, because it was dark at the time. …

      “The Department of Energy and Climate Change declined to comment.”

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/11975069/Power-plant-breakdowns-force-National-Grid-to-issue-alert.html

  16. The carbon reductionists will have to fight the climate mitigationists for taxpayer money.

  17. It would be constructive to have a scientific discussion on the effectiveness of a World-wide “Fast Mitigation” effort (methane, smog, black carbon, HFCs).

    Dr. Molina (Nobel Prize winning scientist on ozone depletion) and Dr. Ramanathan emphasized “Fast Mitigation” to Pope Francis, and he makes this a nexus point of no/low regrets mitigation efforts to especially help the poor.

    Dr.s Molina and Ramanathan argue that “Fast Mitigation” can give the World ~30 years (buy time) to hopefully better understand climate science and discover cost effective energy engineering breakthroughs.

    In the public debate, we see statements that mitigation efforts will not achieve anything of significance — but this is not what Dr. Molina, Ramanathan, and others are arguing in “Fast Mitigation”.

    Could we have dialogue from climate scientists on the potential validity/robustness of Dr. Molina’s and Dr. Ramanathan’s arguments of “buying time”?

    • richardswarthout

      Stephen

      Captain Dallas’ answer on the same subject is, IMO, painfully true. Fast mitigation action would require the ROW to adopt policies that replicate the US Clean Air Act. It would require politicians in developing countries to employ common sense. What dialogue among us will change the mindset of those politicians? Better yet would be a plan assuring them of personal wealth and luxury. Perhaps Trunp could be more effective than the denizens.

      Richard

      • Richard— My question was asking for a “scientific critique” on Dr. Molina and Ramanathan (and others) view on “Fast Mitigation”.

        Can it “buy the World time”?

    • richardswarthout

      Stephen

      Your opening statement was “It would be constructive to have a scientific discussion on the effectiveness of a World-wide “Fast Mitigation” effort (methane, smog, black carbon, HFCs)”

      I was not trying to answer your question “Could we have a dialogue …”

      Rather, I was addressing the premise of your opening statement. Any discussion, to be constructive, must persuade politicians of developing countries; persuade them to adopt regulations similar the US Clean Air Act. Your premise assumes that a scientific discussion will do that. Why proceed with the scientific discussion, before discussing the premise?

      Richard

      • Richard — It takes a nanosecond to get someone here at CE to post a negative story that implementing Renewable Energy will not achieve anything in temperatures (like what is it? .0000002 degrees).

        The question is to address what Dr. Molina is saying — that “Fast Mitigation” can achieve something short term, to give us time. Any scientific studies in testing this belief of Dr. Molina, Dr. Ramanathan? Dr. Curry has spoken favorably of Fast Mitigation — does she know of any studies testing the belief that it will give us more time?

      • Jim2 — I haven’t seen any scientific papers on “fast mitigation” either. With esteemed scientists like Dr. Molina, Dr. Ramanathan, and Dr. Curry (writing favorably on it) — seems like somebody here at CE would know something. Oh well, worth asking.

      • AK Thanks! — I’ll start reading.

    • Stephen, do you have any links to papers that estimate the cost, in detail, of the “fast mitigation” plan?

  18. I don’t usually defer to Christopher Monckton and I have no doubt his below article contains much hyperbole. However, after reading it, even if only some of it is true, this has me worried: http://www.wnd.com/2015/11/nations-and-peoples-should-fear-the-paris-coup/

  19. “The first reality is that emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas of greatest concern, accumulate in the atmosphere and remain there for centuries as they are slowly absorbed by plants and the oceans.i”

    That statement is false.

    Currently, half of co2 or more are being absorbed by the land and ocean. That amount exceeds that total production of any year produced in the 1960’s.And yet, there was an uptick in total co2. Further, in spite of nearly a billion ton increase year over year for the last 5 years the rate at which co2 increased has not exceed 3 ppm nor has it exceed the high in 1998. Further complicating matters is the see saw pattern based on the northern hemisphere decline and subsequent uptick in co2. It shouldn’t be there.

  20. Newsflash: Time may run backwards in Paris IN LESS than a month!

    • The co2 sink is expanding faster than the rate of AG production. In other words, the numbers are already running backwards to the amount of co2 being produced. Do the calculation for yourself, the ppm should have been 5 to 7 ppm per year for the last 5 years, at least. Now they are saying that co2 has flattened. I can see another year of increased production followed by a flat line of 2 to 3 ppm will be a problem. Have you looked at the numbers? For 3 years after 1998, co2 levels were increasing at the rate that would be expected at a third of the production. Do you think I think production of co2 has flattened? No I don’t think that at all.
      The other side of this is that let’s say the IPCC is correct and co2 causes so much increased temperature, and that the numbers on the mean are average and what we should be seeing with a high degree of certainity. Then why are the numbers below the lowest modeled? Even though the temperature has risen, it is not validating AGW theory. And if it is a true theory then temperatures are actually falling held up only by increasing amounts of co2.

  21. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

    Dr Curry:
    If this op-ed is “out of the park”, then you really need to “up your game”.

    Koonin:

    The first reality is that emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas of greatest concern, accumulate in the atmosphere and remain there for centuries as they are slowly absorbed by plants and the oceans.i This means modest reductions in emissions will only delay the rise in atmospheric concentration but will not prevent it.

    Sorry. This is pure horse manure. Koonin presumes here that emissions are somehow ‘inevitable’. And he supports this presumption with no evidence whatsoever.

    If a tonne of CO2 is kept from being emitted – there will be a tonne less in the atmosphere.

    The fact that a fraction of the emitted CO2 will remain in the atmosphere for centuries means that every tonne emitted will be committing our descendants to more climate change. The fact that Koonin cannot imagine preventing emissions is amusing, but irrelevant.

    Koonin:

    The second scientific reality, arising from peculiarities of the carbon dioxide molecule, is that the warming influence of the gas in the atmosphere changes less than proportionately as the concentration changes.vi As a result, small reductions will have progressively less influence on the climate as the atmospheric concentration increases.

    This is another ridiculous line of argumentation from Koonin.

    A non-linear response does not negate the fact that the effects of CO2 emissions are cumulative. Koonin could use the same fact of non-linearity to argue that we should cut emissions drastically NOW, instead of gradually.
    But, strangely, he doesn’t draw that conclusion.

    Using Koonin’s reasoning, we could claim that it’s futile to give people courses of vaccines for preventable diseases because the effect of subsequent doses is less than the first.

    Using Koonin’s reasoning, we could also claim that it’s futile to use layered insulation against cold because the effect of subsequent layers is less than the first.

    JC:

    Exercise in futility, anyone?

    Yes.
    Koonin’s op-ed is a treadmill of futility.

    Exercise in advocacy, anyone?

    • This not advocacy because….because it isn’t advocacy. We know that because it isn’t advocacy.

    • Don’t look now, Jeb, but your S-T segment is hypotenusing. You could use a breather.
      =====================

    • To The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse: Bull Pucky

    • “Koonin presumes here that emissions are somehow ‘inevitable’. ”
      He’s right. Humans will burn fossil fuels to stay alive and live the good life.

      “A non-linear response does not negate the fact that the effects of CO2 emissions are cumulative.”
      He is right. You are wrong. Whatever effect there might be is log[CO2]

      “Using Koonin’s reasoning, we could claim that it’s futile to give people courses of vaccines for preventable diseases because the effect of subsequent doses is less than the first.”
      I recognize this logical fallacy. Reasoning by id-eo-C.

    • The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse | November 4, 2015 at 10:33 am | Reply
      Dr Curry:
      If this op-ed is “out of the park”, then you really need to “up your game”.

      Koonin:

      The first reality is that emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas of greatest concern, accumulate in the atmosphere and remain there for centuries as they are slowly absorbed by plants and the oceans.i This means modest reductions in emissions will only delay the rise in atmospheric concentration but will not prevent it.

      Sorry. This is pure horse manure. Koonin presumes here that emissions are somehow ‘inevitable’. And he supports this presumption with no evidence whatsoever.

      If a tonne of CO2 is kept from being emitted – there will be a tonne less in the atmosphere.

      No you are wrong. If 1 tonne of CO2 is kept from being emitted there will be 0.4 tonne less in the atmosphere.

      The fact that a fraction of the emitted CO2 will remain in the atmosphere for centuries means that every tonne emitted will be committing our descendants to more climate change. The fact that Koonin cannot imagine preventing emissions is amusing, but irrelevant.

      No you are wrong again. It takes centuries to get to a starvation level (280 PPM) because it is a starvation level. A reasonable level like 400 PPM (the current level) which is just fine and not harming anything only takes a decade or so to return to after termination of CO2 emissions.

      • Steven Mosher,

        “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from [current levels] to at most 350 ppm.”
        Dr. James Hansen”

        On the other hand, if we want to have a better standard than our Palaeolithic ancestors, 700 ppm might be worth aiming for, don’t you think?

        Just because Hansen is a delusional phobic – “death trains”, and all that – should any rational person willingly follow him down a Stone Age path to a short, brutish, and more miserable life?

        Off you go then, Steven. Good luck!

        Cheers.

  22. Dr. Koonin continues to attempt to repair his reputation. Leading the way for others to do likewise, if they’re smart. Of course he’s had his way paved by our hostess. Good to see!

  23. If success since Kyoto is to be measured by Iranian oil exports over the next couple of years, we probably will be able to say that Paris doubled the progress.

  24. Two points, on models:
    1.- The science is NOT SETTLED on Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS, the temperature raise that would correspond to a doubling of the CO2 atmospheric concentration). We have never experienced a CO2 doubling; it is now at approx. +42% since the beginning of the industrial era.
    Thus any value used for ECS rests on a projection from models, simple and verifiable (mine, based on radiative forcing with feedbacks, gives ECS at 0.4 to 0.8 K, which is 4 to 6 times less than the 1.5 to 4.5 K from IPCC), or complex and unfathomable.
    These models, reviewed by IPCC, have proven invalid in calculating the present “pause”, why should they be valid for telling oracles for the future? Doing this is not scientific, and dishonest.

    2.- Only GHG emissions form part of the scenarios retained by IPCC and the “scientific community” to predict future climate changes.
    The causes for the initiation of the current warming and sea level rise at the end of the Little Ice Age (before massive CO2 emissions) are not understood; therefore, no equations and no parametrised scenarios concerning such mechanisms can be included in model simulations. They are just being ignored.
    This is another reason not to accept at face value the forecasts reviewed and promoted by IPCC.

    So yes, adaptation is the strategy to follow.
    Drastic CO2 emission reductions as demanded for the COP21 conference in Paris are pointless, ruinous, and inequitable.

  25. Yes, exercise in futility. There is no convincing evidence of AGW, human induced global warming.

  26. Judith writes: “Exercise in futility, anyone?”

    Yes, and Exercise in futility, everyone!

    • The Left is still searchin for a rainbow and pot of gold at the end of a pointless endeavor.

      • Wag,
        They already found the pot of gold. They just need the rest of peasants to continue filling it up with fresh contributions and quietly continue fooling the % one may fool all of the time.
        Scott

  27. The world will have access to economic supplies of fossil fuels for a hundred years or more into the future, and so cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels is strictly a public policy decision. Here in the United States, President Obama’s highly ambitious GHG reduction targets cannot be achieved unless three major public policy actions are adopted which dis-incentivize or otherwise constrain the production and consumption of all carbon fuels.

    These three public policy actions are: (1) Put a stiff price on carbon, doing so both directly and indirectly; (2) Incentivize a variety of energy conservation measures, doing so both directly and indirectly; and (3) Treat nuclear power as a renewable energy resource for public policy purposes and incentivize its adoption to the same extent that wind, solar, and natural gas are now being directly or indirectly incentivized.

    It is impossible to achieve an 80% reduction in the world’s GHG emissions without the widespread adoption of nuclear energy. Here in the United States, where opposition to nuclear power is strong, the best approach is to first levelize the economics of energy resource production and consumption and then to let each region of the country decide for itself what mix of wind, solar, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and energy conservation best fits its own public policy priorities.

    As the US Government begins taking increasingly stronger action against carbon emissions, a picture is already beginning to emerge as to how each region will be choosing to shape its anti-GHG public policy actions.

    The US Southeast will rely on nuclear power as a primary source of its energy needs, backed by a combination of energy conservation, wind, solar, and natural gas. The US West Coast and the US Northeast will abandon nuclear power altogether and will rely on some combination of energy conservation, wind, solar, hydro, and natural gas. The US Midwest and the US Rocky Mountain states will adopt some yet-to-be-determined mix of energy conservation, wind, solar, and natural gas, but with a smaller contribution from nuclear in comparison with the US Southeast.

    As a purely practical matter, those regions of the US which decide against nuclear power as an anti-GHG public policy option will likely find themselves relying on energy conservation as their primary means of achieving President Obama’s emission reduction targets. For one prominent example, if that’s what the voters of the US West Coast and the US Northeast want to do, then more (green) power to them, at least as much green power as they themselves can practically generate and consume.

    • It’s OK, the BRICs mostly all expect nuclear to help solve their future problems and energy needs, and it’ll happen in due course, probably relatively independent of the artificial carbon restrictions, and more dependent upon the rising cost of fossil fuel acquisition.

      AtomKraft, ja bitte.
      ====================

    • BB, your first statement is debateable. There are two considerations. 1. All fossil fuels are not created equal. Cars, trucks, and airplanes do not operate on coal. 2. What is Economic or ‘affordable’? Shell’s gas to liquids Pearl plant in Qatar is equivalent to $170/bbl, and only viable because the gas was stranded so ‘free’. Coal to liquids is over $200/bbl, albeit a bit process choice dependent.

      • Rud, the practical utility of an energy-dense liquid carbon fuel is such that when easy access to petroleum is no longer generally available, more likely than not, there will be still be a market for liquid carbon fuels, assuming that the alternatives which are available a hundred years from now don’t possess nearly the same energy portability as do current fuels.

        How big will the market for these fuels be a hundred years from now if the world rejects taking strong action against carbon emissions and the market for liquid carbon fuels evolves largely unfettered?

        My guess on that score is that in the absence of strong anti-GHG measures, there will still be significant demand for liquid carbon fuels a hundred years from now, even if those fuels must be supplied through expensive coal liquefaction processes.

        If the world fails to enact strong-GHG measures, by the time 2115 rolls around, might there be a total of eight billion Smart Cars buzzing around the world’s highways using about the same total quantity of liquid carbon fuel as we do today?

  28. As Fernando L. pointed out earlier, Koonin falls into the trap of calling RCP8.5 “business as usual”. It is not. It is an extreme scenario (NOT a prediction or projection) that relies on the burning of improbably large amounts of fossil fuels.

    A more reasonable “business as usual” projection would be in the middle of the IPCC scenarios; that is, an anthropogenic forcing of 5.0 to 5.5 W/m^2 in 2100. Combining that with observational estimates of transient climate response (1.0 to 1.5 K), suggests that it is rather unlikely that we will exceed 2.0 K of warming (relative to pre-industrial) by the end of the century. So there is no crisis.

    Koonin makes an excellent point that adaption prepares us for whatever does happen in future, not just for the peculiar expectation of the climate modellers. Combined with the lack of any crisis, that makes for a much more sensible policy.

  29. The sure way to get more emissions is to stop promoting alternatives to fossils fuels and subsidizing them. Who cares if climate change will get worse with increased emissions and temperatures, with no alternatives we can just use more fossil fuels instead of slowing down.

    • Joseph, you paint black and white. The issue is COSTS of mitigation alternatives relative to possible BENEFITS. If the costs are high and the benefits low, fuggetaboutit.

      • Well if you don’t care about reducing CO2 you aren’t going to have any incentive to adopt more renewables.

        And then it’s let’s starting rolling the coal into Africa, stat!

    • the benefits low, fuggetaboutit.

      If the climate change turns out bad, the benefits could be very high. Let’s just roll those dice and hope for the best, I guess.

      • Those who support massive CO2 mitigation actions make little sense. They complain when others do not support their positions, but

        Is the climate clearly worse for humans at 400 ppm than it was at 280 ppm? – NO

        Is there ANY reliable information to demonstrate where the climate will be worse at 500 ppm than it is at 400 ppm. All you have is speculation unsupported by valid science. Warming does not equal a worse climate overall!

      • All you have is speculation unsupported by valid science.

        All you have is your opinion about a subject you only have a superficial knowledge of. You expect me to believe all of these government are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist and has no scientific basis. I find that difficult to believe.

      • ” You expect me to believe all of these government are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist and has no scientific basis. I find that difficult to believe. ”

        But it is true- examine the details of the evidence that predict that higher levels of CO2 will lead to net negative conditions. Joseph, please try to show a single condition that you can show where higher CO2 levels will result in a net negative change in the climate.

        All you have if a “risk” that maybe things will change more, for the worse later….sometime.

      • But it is true-

        So you believe the scientists are making it up and or that governments are trying to fool us or what? Mass delusion? What is your theory?

        And this all about risks there is nothing certain

      • At first I thought maybe CAGW was mistaken. And certainly mistakes can be made. Some small errors, but not the bigger picture. When you are talking about about life, economic, and property where you want huge changes, then you’d better be right. Name me one prediction where CAGW has been correct? You can’t, there aren’t any. In 18 years it is the same fear mongering, the Arctic will be ice free in 2013, no one will know what snow is, epic drought in the midwest. It’s all might, could , if … they are pushing out to 2100. NO! That’s not what they were saying. It’s not in 20 or 50 years, it’s now , and the math they produced, supports their arguments that NOW we should be seeing.
        CAGW is made up, and some are naive, and some are just greedy. After all democracy is the problem according to those that want us charged with the Rico act. Wonder why that is?
        If you can’t silence the hertics, throw em in jail. And the worst of them try for crimes against humanity. That’s where the term denier comes from. Denying the Holocaust happened. There has never been a debate. That’s what CAGW is advocating.

      • The precautionary principle is neither rational nor economically viable. If it were, we should be spending hundred of billions on just in case defenses against asteroid strikes. And Florida would tear down every single pre 1991 (Andrew) structure and rebuild to Cat 5 standards.
        About the only place the ‘precautionary principle’ might make sense is to abandon/build defenses for the low laying coasts of Oregon and Washington opposite the Cascadia fault. It is certain to rupture again, certain to cause another tsunami, and certain to cause from hundreds of thousands to millions of deaths. Vastly worse than Tohoku. Geologically speaking, the next rupture is already ‘due’ since previous seismicity has been surprisingly regular. Good luck selling that more limited action, even though it is not really even the precautionary principle because not a what if, rather just a when and how bad (part of the fault, or the whole thing, in one quake?).

    • Joseph,

      You wrote: “The sure way to get more emissions is to stop promoting alternatives to fossils fuels and subsidizing them.”

      That is not at all obvious. It may well be that wind and solar are dead-end technologies, in which case subsidizing them could end up *increasing* CO2 emissions in the long run. The reason is that since wind and solar are intermittent, there is no economical way for them to provide more than a fraction (likely 20-30%) of total electricity production. But they need to be matched up with a highly adjustable source of power to enable demand to be met. In areas without a lot of hydro (most places), the only suitable adjustable sources are fossil fuels. There is no realistic prospect for storage solving more than a small fraction of the problem, except perhaps in areas that are extremely favorable for solar.

      So a huge investment in wind and solar effectively locks in fossil fuels and locks out nuclear. As a result, in the long run they might well lead to more total CO2 emissions than if we let the technology develop naturally.

      • I think any approach would include nuclear and with more advanced battery technology will increase the penetration of solar. But we need more public and private investment in these technologies to speed up the process. It’s not going to happen if there is no incentive for the private sector to make that investment.

      • Joseph,

        You wrote: “I think any approach would include nuclear”.

        Glad to hear it, but the people pushing wind and solar mostly don’t agree. Government driven investment is going overwhelmingly into wind, which is pretty much incompatible with nuclear. Germany is phasing out nuclear. So far as I can tell, Obama’s rules for reducing carbon emissions do not allow for nuclear. And so on.

  30. We may be uncertain whether it’s going to be good or bad, but we are certain it’s inevitable that we will find out. Let’s just give up..

    • Joseph

      Your comment is typical of many who fear AGW. If your approach is not adoptedyou describe it as “giving up”.

      That is untrue

    • Curious George

      Joseph – are we really promoting alternatives? Who is promoting batteries not yet invented?

      • You need investment to do research and development to improve technologies. With all the capital going to the fossil fuel industries, there is not an incentive to invest in low carbon technologies..

      • We should invest a ton more in Tesla. They got that battery wall thing going and they are only losing about $20,000 per car sold. They are pretty cars. Many of my neighbors have them. They use them on short guilt trips and when the Rovers and Escalades are in the shop getting serviced.

      • Curious George

        Joseph – so you are not referring to wind and solar subsidies? Do you call them a research or development? Yes, plenty of capital is going to fossil fuel industries – but also to Silicon Valley and medical industry. That capital may lose on a bet; but government subsidies use my money, so I am a guaranteed loser. Subsidized windmills kill our birds, and subsidized Ivanpah solar power plant roasts them in flight.

      • Don Monfort

        “We should invest a ton more in Tesla. They got that battery wall thing going and they are only losing about $20,000 per car sold. They are pretty cars. Many of my neighbors have them. They use them on short guilt trips and when the Rovers and Escalades are in the shop getting serviced.”

        Your post is so funny it should be posted twice, so I posted it! :)

      • Thanks, justin. Just reporting what I see, in a target rich environment.

  31. NY Times
    “China Burns Much More Coal Than Reported, Complicating Climate Talks”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/world/asia/china-burns-much-more-coal-than-reported-complicating-climate-talks.html?_r=0

    17% more in fact, as much extra as Germany burns in total in a year, so the article says..

    what does the extra 17% coal, do for China’s per capita figures?

  32. Adapting ecosystems to a changing climate will require a more careful monitoring and deeper understanding of the natural world than we have today.

    It’s this bit about living in the very test tube in which we’re conducting this experiment that concerns some.

    Paleontological evidence suggests that the way ecosystems “adapt to a changing climate” is that a lot of stuff goes extinct and over geological time other stuff eventually replaces it.

  33. Among the 40 coldest temperatures ever recorded in France:

    −34.6 °F (−37 °C) Saint-Dié, Vosges – December 10, 1879
    −11 °F (−23.9 °C) Paris Montsouris – December 10, 1879

    The temperature expected in Paris during the first week of December this year is in the 40s. Sounds like global warming to me.

  34. November 20, 1879 — Conference Marseille, Jules Guesde and Benoit Malon founded the Workers Party (Socialist Workers Party of France) to advocate a collectivist socialism. Did this cause of global warming?

  35. “….. in Asia alone this year power companies are building more than 500 coal-fired plants, with at least a thousand more on planning boards.”

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/11/03/us-asia-energy-power-idUKKCN0SS0IF20151103

    Whatever a Paris agreement might say, carbon dioxide emissions will continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

  36. Koonin’s essay is quite masterful. He obviously learned a lot and has thought a great deal about what his APS task force uncovered. Pity APS turned him out. Shows how political and ‘blind’ even the great science groups (APS, Royal Society, …) have become on this issue.

    • “The great science groups” appear to have been transformed into “great marketing groups.” Science is now just another for profit business.

  37. RV
    What was the final outcome of the APS review? Last sighting was the WSJ editorial by Dr Koonin but nothing further from APS. Did it just stop?

    Did the APS reaffirm the previous statement based on no further info?

    Scott

  38. ristvan
    What was the outcome of the APS task force on the statement?
    Did it stop after Dr Koonin left and then reaffirm the earlier polic statement?

    Were they going to put it up for some sort of vote of the members?
    Scott

    • Judith would perhaps know more. It appears his committee came in with some preliminary negative conclusions, so was shut down by the powers that be. Which then initiated his previous NYT post, also highlighted by Judith.
      The initial idea was to examine the CAGW basis using APU standards, to see whether IPCC held up. Remenber a couple of very famous APS Nobel prize winners had already resigned over this ‘simple’ evidentiary issue.

  39. Since the Climate Change Conference is being held in Paris this year and not Cancun, the overarching question is, where to the parties go after saving the world for a good margarita?

  40. …and, who’s paying?

  41. Meanwhile, the Devil we know is still at it … from the article:

    The Environmental Protection Agency is coming under increased scrutiny over accusations that it rigged its own review process to block the Pebble Mine project in Alaska.

    The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is scheduled to weigh in Thursday with a hearing on whether EPA officials orchestrated an environmental assessment in concert with anti-mine groups to reach a predetermined outcome.

    Exhibit A is an explosive Oct. 6 report by the Cohen Group, headed by former Defense Secretary William Cohen, which cited the EPA’s “unprecedented” evaluation process, including its decision to use procedures under the Clean Water Act instead of the National Environmental Policy Act to assess the project.

    The 346-page report, commissioned by the Pebble Limited Partnership, the project’s developer, also said that the statements and actions of EPA officials raised “serious concerns” about the agency’s objectivity and transparency.

    “This project is too important, for all stakeholders, to pilot a new, untested decision-making process,” said Mr. Cohen in the report. “The fairest approach is to use the well-established Permit/NEPA Process, and I can find no valid reason why that process was not used.”

    Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican and committee chairman, said this week that the agency’s behavior on the Pebble Mine project “demonstrates how the EPA is truly out of control.”

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/nov/4/pebble-mine-rejection-epa-was-riggin-collusion-rep/

  42. I’m not crazy about the argument, as it gives too much credibility to the state and certainty of climate sceance, but I admire its political effectiveness. But people think they are heros and would struggle even against this exponential beast!!!!

  43. Many of the now retiring nuclear power plants were first placed in service in the 70’s and 80’s.

    I remember coal interests making arguments that the Federal Government was picking winners and losers — and that these nuclear plants shouldn’t have been built in the first place. That straight up, nuclear couldn’t compete against coal — and that only through incentives (especially tax policy) could nuclear survive.

    Historical Article: http://lawschool.unm.edu/nrj/volumes/22/2/04_chapman_federal.pdf

    • Thanks Steven. I still think my suggested approach is the best on the table. Of course, it depends on some assumptions that many would question.

  44. Steve Koonin,

    Excellent post. Thank you. This is the main take away message for me:

    Adaptation can be effective. Humans today live in climates ranging from the tropics to the Arctic and have adapted through many climate changes, including the Little Ice Age about 400 years ago.

    Adaptation is also indifferent to whether the climate change is natural or human-induced; it can be proportional, depending upon how much or how quickly the climate changes; and it can be politically easier to accomplish because it does not require a global consensus and has demonstrable local and immediate effects.

  45. Judith asks:

    ‘Exercise in futility, anyone?’

    Not if you are in the airline business… 40,000 green warriors burning loads of lovely kerosene (mostly at public expense) to go to Paris for a jolly and pre-Xmas p*ss up must do wonders for your winter load factors.

    Not if you are a Parisian hotelier. Those whose mission is to Save the World are far too important to slum it in anywhere less than the best accommodations.

    Not if you are a Parisian restaurateur. Even Self-Appointed Saviours need to eat (and drink). Tho’ dedicated veggies will probably find Paris a bit of a wasteland.

    Not if you are a Parisian retailer. Surprise surprise…The bunfight is scheduled for just before Christmas and other midwinter festivals. Their loved ones (if, indeed, they have any) will be expecting something rather classier than a lousy cheap T-shirt when their hero returns from the sophistications of Yurp.

    And especially not if you are the Gods on Mount Olympus. I can almost hear them chuckling right now. Remembering the great time they had with Snowpenhagen a while back. And dreaming up some new devilish plan to remind us puny humans where the real power lies.

    Hubris will be followed by Nemesis. The Gods will prevail.

    • Come to think of it; deciding, all those years ago, to have their jamborees at this time of the year was an extraordinary piece of hubris, making them hostage to ill-fortune. And they can’t really change to a more propitious time – July, say – cos someone would notice.

      • Living just outside London, I am braced for the blizzards that are bound to accompany this early winter conference only a couple of hundred miles away…

        Gore effect writ large

      • Snow is predicted now by so many that it will be a disappointment if there’s no significant weather disruption.

        I console myself with the fact that if there’s no snow outside, the snow inside will be sufficiently blinding.

        And chilling. A blizzard of the human spirit.
        ====================

      • @Ian

        Console yourself that David Viner, claiming to be a climatologist, was widely reported in 2000 as soothsaying that ‘snowfall is now just a thing of the past [in UK]’

        Console yourself also that, following on from our national emabarrassment when Heathrow was brought to a grinding halt three winters, because some ‘planners’ were foolish enough to believe his wishful thinking, the Heathrow Snow Base is now fully prepared for a hard winter.

        I too live close to London. My snowshovel is oiled, sharpened and ready for action.

  46. Some visitors to Paris may choose to extend their visit with a trip to London.

    They will find that to do so they will need to find a way to cross the 22 miles of English Channel that is in the way (*)

    As they do so they may ponder that only 20,000 years ago they could have walked. No need for train. tunnel, boat or plane. The sea was not there. England and France were joined by land.

    But as the sea level rose at the end of the last Ice Age, the channel was inundated and the White Cliffs appeared on both sides.

    Amazingly, and no doubt contrary to the dire predictions of the doomsayers, humanity survived. We are an adaptable species and we survived (many might say rejoiced) in our new found status as an island.

    Nobody was drowned. Civilisation did not collapse. The world did not come to an end.

    We adapted to the change. Humans are good at observing our local environment and adapting to it. We’ve had thousands of generations to learn and remember how to do it. And the story of the English Channel is a fine illustration of it.

    • * Those who take the scenic route via a ferry will wonder at the great cliffs on both sides of the Channel.

      On the English side they’re called The White Cliffs of Dover. And on the French ‘La Cote d’Alabatre’ (The Alabaster Coast). Keen geologists will guess that the whiteness comes from being made of chalk. And they will be right.

      And chalk has an interesting chemical property. It neutralises acids. So any any ‘ocean acidification’ CO2 that gets dissolved in the English Channel will soon be neutralised by the White Cliffs.

      Our putative visitor may lean on the guard rail as he approaches Dover (or Newhaven, 60 miles away) – and observe that there’s a heck of a lot of chalk in those cliffs. And it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The supposed ‘threat’ of ocean acidification is a red herring – at least in these waters.

  47. Plus lots in Euros! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  48. Pingback: El muy olvidado disentir en las “soluciones” al Calentamiento Global Acojonante | PlazaMoyua.com

  49. “The Paris conference on climate this December will be a perfect example of dirigisme at its worst. Instead of trying to impose on the world a set of top-down targets for reducing emissions, when those targets cannot possibly be achieved with today’s technologies without badly hurting poor people, and when those targets will create perverse incentives that will make the Volkswagen scandal look like a picnic, governments should be supporting bottom-up research into new energy technologies with open minds about what might emerge.”

    Matt Ridley http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/diesel-scandal/

  50. IPCC AR5 TFE.7 Figure 1 shows that, for plausible amounts of carbon dioxide injected into the atmosphere, models suggest only 20% remains after 400 years. IPCC Box 6.1, Figure 1 shows, inconsistently, that 30% remains after 400 years, with the fraction decreasing to about 10% after 10,000 years.

    I think this is because TFE.7 Figure 1 shows only a 100GtC and a 5000GtC pulse. Box 6.1 Figure 1 is – I think – a 1000GtC pulse in the left-hand two panels, and a 100GtC, 1000GtC, and a 5000GtC pulse, in the rightmost panel.

  51. If you think that the international climate negotiations aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then Paris is indeed an exercise in futility.

    However, if you think that the international climate negotiations aim to maintain and expand government bureaucracies, then Paris is likely to be a resounding success.

  52. Richard –

    It looks like you’ve expanded your area of expertise. What’s your secret to being able to see how people’s aims are different than what they state?

  53. Pingback: “soluciones” al Calentamiento Global Acojonante - Chismes Mundo | Chismes Mundo

  54. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #204 | Watts Up With That?

  55. Paris, a beautiful city. I loved visiting her in 2012. Its a pity that her name will now forever be tainted with this climate change BS!