A closer look at scenario RCP8.5

by Larry Kummer

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris climate was preceded by a surge of studies and articles warning of a dismal future if we do not take strong policy action. One scenario in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) provides the basis for these: RCP8.5. Even a casual examination of this shows it to be a useful worst-case scenario, but not “business as usual”.

(1) An introduction to scenarios about our future

In AR5 four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) describe scenarios for future emissions, concentrations, and land-use, ending with radiative forcing levels of 2.6, 4.5, 6.0, and 8.5 W/m2 by 2100. Strong mitigation policies result in a low forcing level (RCP2.6). Two medium stabilization scenarios lead to intermediate outcomes: (RCP4.5, RCP6.0).

IPCC's AR5: 4 RCPs

Detlef P. van Vuuren et al, Climatic Change, 2011.

RCP8.5 gets the most attention. It assumes the fastest population growth (a doubling of Earth’s population to 12 billion), the lowest rate of technology development, slow GDP growth, a massive increase in world poverty, plus high energy use and emissions. For more about the RCPs see “The representative concentration pathways: an overview” by Detlef P. van Vuuren et al, Climatic Change, Nov 2011.

RCP8.5 assumes a nightmarish world even before climate impacts, resulting from substantial changes to long-standing trends. It provides AR5 with an essential worst case scenario necessary for conservative planning.

Unfortunately scientists often inaccurately describe RCP8.5 as the baseline scenario — a future without policy action: “a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity” from “RCP 8.5: A scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions” by Keywan Riahi et al in Climate Change, November 2011, This is a material misrepresentation of RCP8.5. Scientists then use RCP8.5 to construct horrific visions of the future. They seldom mention its unlikely assumptions.

(2) About RCP8.5, the stuff nightmares are made from

(a) Rapid population growth

RP8.5 assumes population growth at the high end of the current UN forecasts: 80% odds of between 9.6 and 12.3 billion people by 2100 (Gerland, P. et al, Science 10 Oct 2014). Most of this growth occurs in Africa, assuming that the collapse in fertility seem in the rest of the world will not occur there (Iran’s fertility was 6.0% in 1980, it is ~1.6 now, below the replacement rate of 2.1).

Gerland makes a purely probabilistic forecast, without considering if Africa can support the same population density as China does today. Their high end forecast, used in RCP8.5, is that Nigeria’s population will grow from 175 million today to 1.5 billion in 2100. See this for more information about the Gerland 2014 forecast.

RCP8.5: population & gdp

Detlef P. van Vuuren et al, Climatic Change, Nov 2011. Click to enlarge.

(b) Technological stagnation: back to the 19th Century’s coal-driven world

RCP8.5’s assumes that the centuries long progress of technology will slow. Most importantly, it assumes that three centuries of evolution to ever more efficient energy sources reverses and we burn off almost all of Earth’s fossil fuel reserves.

The IPCC's projection of coal use in RCP 8.5

Keywan Riahi et al in Climate Change, November 2011,

RCP8.5 describes a hot dirty future for the world, in which coal use increases to become the major source of power for the world.

Coal: legend

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There is an analytical basis for these forecasts. For example, see “Drivers for the renaissance of coal” by Jan Christoph Steckel et al in PNAS, 2015. The authors predict that coal use will increase not just in China and India, but also in fast-growing poor countries. There are a lot of poor nations in RCP8.5.

But this assumes that the long shift away from coal continues. Data from the Energy Information Agency shows that world coal consumption fell by 98 million short tons (1.2%) in 2012 (most recent data) following peaking in many nations, both poor and rich nations. North American use peaked in 2005; 2012 was down an astonishing 21% since then (USA use in Q1 2015 was down 24% from Q1 2005). Europe peaked in 2007, after 6 of its 9 largest coal-consuming nations peaked: UK and Poland in 2006; Czech, Germany, and Greece in 2007; and Turkey in 2011. Africa peaked in 2008 and Asia in 2011.

History shows that as poor nations grow into the middle income brackets, people become willing to pay for a cleaner environment. That often drives regulations on the mining and burning of coal, which raises its cost (in the US perhaps going to uneconomic levels). We see the first signs of that now in India and China. A March report by the Sierra Club describes the situation:

“From 2005 to 2012, worldwide coal-fired generating capacity boomed, growing at three times the previous pace. The increase in the global coal fleet was twice the size of the entire existing U.S. coal fleet. That boom is now busting. In India, projects shelved or cancelled since 2012 outnumber project completions by six to one, and new construction initiations are at a near-standstill. In both Europe and the U.S., the coal fleet is shrinking, with retirements outnumbering new plants. China faces a looming glut in coal-fired generating capacity, with plant utilization rates at a 35-year low.”

China has been the largest driver of global commodity consumption, including coal. Excluding China, world coal use is flat for 5 years, up only 13% for 10 years, and up only 7% in the previous 25 years (there is no Energy Information Agency data after 2012).

China has shown little concern about climate change, but air pollution from coal is a major public policy problem. “The cost of China’s reliance on coal: 670,000 smog-related deaths a year“. “Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution“. There are headlines like this almost monthly as public pressure grows for drastic action (see this Pew Research poll).

The Sierra Club report describes this and other drivers of China’s shift away from coal…

“Within China, the following policy trends are playing a significant role in determining future coal capacity: (1) Small Plant Replacement Policy, (2) air pollution mitigation, (3) economic restructuring, (4) expanding renewable, gas, nuclear, and hydro power sources, (5) climate policies, (6) energy efficiency initiatives, and (7) shifts in the regional distribution of generating capacity.”

Perhaps these trends will reverse, but that cannot logically be considered the “business as usual” scenario.

Phoenix, Earth's first warp flight

The Phoenix making Earth’s first warp flight on 5 April 2063. Powered by coal?

(c) Technological stagnation: energy efficiency

RCP8.5 assumes no decarbonization of world power sources from new technology (e.g., solar, wind, fission, fusion) or regulations to reduce not just climate change but also air pollution and toxic waste. Although possible, how likely is this? For example, use of solar and wind is skyrocketing as these technologies improve.

RCP8.5 also assumes a slowing of technological innovation, most clearly seen in energy use. By 2100 energy efficiency has improved only slightly, so that despite GDP being one-third lower than under RCP2.6, energy consumption is over twice as large. That breaks the decades long trend, as partially shown in this graph of energy efficiency from the World Bank. There is not reason to assume this progress will halt.

GDP per kilogram of oil equivalent of energy use

Energy Intensity of GDP; from the World Bank

(d) A more realistic view of our energy future

More speculatively, new technology to produce energy might lie in our future. There are dozens of advanced nuclear and fusion projects under development. A new report by Third Way describes that some have matured to the stage attracting private capital:

The American energy sector has experienced enormous technological innovation over the past decade in everything from renewables (solar and wind power), to extraction (hydraulic fracturing), to storage (advanced batteries), to consumer efficiency (advanced thermostats). What has gone largely unnoticed is that nuclear power is poised to join the innovation list.

A new generation of engineers, entrepreneurs and investors are working to commercialize innovative and advanced nuclear reactors. … Third Way has found that there are nearly 50 companies, backed by more than $1.3 billion in private capital, developing plans for new nuclear plants in the U.S. and Canada. The mix includes startups and big-name investors like Bill Gates, all placing bets on a nuclear comeback, hoping to get the technology in position to win in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.

(3) Conclusions

The designers of the RCP’s made a methodological choice that was logical, but was either not understood or ignored by the IPCC’s authors. They started with targets for forcings and created scenarios that would produce them.

The RCP8.5 scenario assumes ominous breaks in several important and long-standing trends. As such it provides a valuable warning against complacency and a reminder to prepare for extreme outcomes. But that meant that there was no business as usual scenario, a critical component for forecasting. None of the RCPs is even remotely close to fulfilling this role.

Worse was the labeling — with no supporting analysis — of RCP8.5 as the business as usual scenario (see the history here). Doing so preceded AR5, as in “Compared to the scenario literature RCP8.5 depicts thus a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity” from “RCP 8.5: A scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions” by Keywan Riahi et al in Climate Change, November 2011.

I have written a description of the year 2100 assuming continuation of existing trends — including substantial advances in fusion. It’s a non-analytical discussion piece, showing that there is a more plausible alternative to RCP8.5’s nightmarish world of 2100. It shows that we need another RCP, one describing a base case showing reasonable projection of current trends.

Preparing that requires extrapolating trends for GDP, population, energy intensity, sources of energy, etc — assuming no breakthroughs in technology (e.g., fusion, a male contraceptive pill) — then calculating the resulting forcing. This should be done by a multidisciplinary team (imo tapping too-narrow a disciplinary base is one of the most serious weakness in climate science today). The cost would be trivial compared to its benefits.

As COP21 has shown, the public policy debate about climate change is gridlocked. Repeating what we have already done, with higher volume, seems unlikely to break it. Let’s draw outside the box and try different tactics.

(4) For More Information

For a detailed look at RCP8.5 see “Scenarios of long-term socio-economic and environmental development under climate stabilization” by Keywan Riahia, Arnulf Grüblera, and Nebojsa Nakicenovica, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, September 2007 (gated). To better understand the evolution of IPCC’s scenarios I recommend this by John Nielsen-Gammon (Prof Atmospheric Science at Texas A&M, Texas State Climatologist).

This article was originally posted at the Fabius Maximus blog [link], of which Larry Kummer is the editor.

JC note:  As with all guest posts, please keep your comments relevant and civil.

560 responses to “A closer look at scenario RCP8.5

  1. Pingback: A closer look at scenario RCP8.5 | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. Well, the Paris agreements seem to have the effect of lowering GDP growth, so that makes sense; poorer countries tend to have more population growth, so that makes sense; poor populations tend to use a lot of fossil fuels, so increased CO2 production makes sense.

    I’m not sure if that’s a worst-case scenario or wishful thinking.

  3. A simple case of garbage in, garbage out. Especially looking at the GDP per kg of oil equivalent, a subject covered in fine detail by Mearns and Andrews at euanmearns.com, it’s clear that no reality checks were performed on the model output.

    The RCP ensembles are very much locked into linear thinking… business as usual could you call it? By 2060 if the Singularity has not already happened it will be very close and technology will change at a rate too fast for any human to keep up. If one hundred of the world’s best brains got together today to predict what 2100 will look like, they might spend half an hour in discussions before agreeing to laugh off the idea as a bad joke.

    • Mike,

      “A simple case of garbage in, garbage out. ”

      That seems unkind. AR5 gave multiple scenarios to help people understand the many futures available to us. RCP8.5 is a legitimate scenario of what happens should we get unlucky.

      That it has been misrepresented as a “business as usual” scenario is not the fault of its designers or AR5’s authors.

      However, that this has continued for so long with so little attention from climate scientists shows a major weakness in the processes of climate science. What other key assumptions will prove to have such weak fundamentals?

      • “RCP8.5 is a legitimate scenario of what happens should we get unlucky.”

        The parameters of RCP 8.5 are rapidly falling outside of chance and landing in the impossible, with, for example, global coal output multiplied in 8.5 by ~eight fold.

    • Mark,

      “The parameters of RCP 8.5 are rapidly falling outside of chance and landing in the impossible,”

      I agree. That is the key insight. So here is the question — of course activists like ATTP and Nick Stokes can’t accept this (it undercuts much of the case for massive immediate policy action) …

      But why the do skeptics ignore this? It’s a powerful rebuttal to much of the peer-review literature predicting disasters. The research is excellent, but built on sand. Yet this point is mostly ignored.

      Any thoughts?

      • of course activists like ATTP and Nick Stokes can’t accept this

        Is it okay if I start referring to you as a climate science denier? Only seems fair. You seem to be behaving like one.

      • You and nicky are active propagandists for the CAGW alarmist cause, kenny. Just calling you jokers “activists” is being kind and gentle. You should thank the man.

      • Gee Ken,

        Exactly what part of the science is Larry denying?

        The point of his post is that RCP 8.5 is based on a large number of assumptions which appear highly unlikely, yet it often gets referred to (by third parties, if not the IPCC) as a business as usual scenario. He supports that point with facts highlighting the many trends the 8.5 scenario assumptions run counter to.

        At most, the only thing Larry Kummer can be said to be denying is that RCP 8.5 has any real likelihood of happening. That’s like me stating the Cleveland Browns are extremely unlikely to win the Super Bowl this year.

        (Or, since you are in Britian Ken, it’s like me stating the odds you you earning a Nobel in astrophysics are astronomically unlikely. Perhaps I’m denying the possibility of a miracle, but no denial of science is involved.)

      • I couldn’t help noticing this gem from Ken Rice yesterday in his response to “words matter.”

        “They might, but amongst those who would like to engage honestly, … (had to stop right there and take a couple of deep breaths after nearly busting a gut laughing. How does Ken Rice know about “those who would like to engage honestly…”? )

        ok, back to the rest of his comment:
        : … they shouldn’t really. It’s the information that they’re trying to convey that should matter, not the words themselves.”

        It’s the information they (as in the words) that they’re trying to convey. And how does said information get conveyed? Well, Professor Rice is a physist and mathematics is a language, so maybe that’s what he means. But to the rest of us lesser beings, words are pretty much all we have to convey and have conveyed to us various points of information. And what words get used can be extremely important.

        So I have to wonder just what Ken is telling us here. Perhaps on his oh so higher plane of existence, people can sense the essence of information and don’t have to have it communicated by something as base as words. Then again it could just be ken being his usual dissembling self.

      • Ristvan, and a number of other people have questioned the reality of RCP8.5.

        It isn’t likely we will be burning as much fossil fuel in 2050 as we are today.

        RCP 8.5 is a political tool and not a realistic projection.

      • “Is it okay if I start referring to you as a climate science denier?”

        Fill your boots Rice, you patronising, arrogant little fellow.

        As long as you don’t mind being referred to as a “scientist”.

        And IMO even that is possibly overestimating you.

      • As long as you don’t mind being referred to as a “scientist”.

        And IMO even that is possibly overestimating you.

        He clearly doesn’t even know what science is. For him, it’s simply a tool of socialist advocacy.

  4. IMO, all the critiques of RCP8.5 and the usage of “business as usual” miss the crucial point. RCP8.5 and the term “business as usual” refer to a future pathway in which emissions continue increasing and in which we reach a change in forcing by 2100 of 8.5W/m^2. Given the resulting change in temperature, and the potential impacts due to such a change, the crucial point is whether or not we should avoid following such a pathway. We may indeed do so without actually trying to, but that’s not a particularly good argument – IMO – for ignoring what might happen if we did.

    • ATTP,

      “refer to a future pathway in which emissions continue increasing and in ”

      Wow, that’s missing the point. To get a forcing of 8.5 they had to assume unlikely changes in current tech and population trends. The pathway described in RCP8.5 cannot logically be described as “business as usual”.

      Just waving your hand to make this critically important point is not credible.

      • Sadly, your reply is no great surprise. I’ll repeat what I said, just on the off chance that you actually spend a fraction of a second thinking about this (do me a favour, and actually surprise me). RCP8.5 is a concentration pathway. It is a concentration pathway that leads to concentrations in 2100 that produces a change in forcing of 8.5W/m^2. We can then estimate what change in temperature will result from such a change in forcing and the potential impacts of such a change. The reason people highlight this is because it is possible to follow an emission pathway that could produce such a change, and that the likely impacts will be severe (potentially catastrophic). The reason people call it “business as usual” is because that is defined as a high emission pathway with no mitigation and no attempt to find and implement alternatives. The reason people focus on this is because it is seen as a pathway that we should definitely be avoiding. Of course, if you want to pedantically focus on the terminology, rather than recognising this, feel free; it is your choice. Of course, that you do so is one reason I have very little time for your supposed attempts to identify why the policy debate has been broken. That you do so without acknowledging your own contribution, suggests a lack of self-awareness that is second to none.

      • ATTP,

        “The reason people call it “business as usual” is because that is defined as a high emission pathway with no mitigation and no attempt to find and implement alternatives.”

        Those aspects of RCP8.5 are correct, but they are not a complete description. You ignore the unlikely assumptions of RCP8.5 that generate those high emissions — which is why it is not a “business as usual” scenario.

      • attp, “The reason people call it “business as usual” is because that is defined as a high emission pathway with no mitigation and no attempt to find and implement alternatives”

        People actually engaged in business as usual call it a “worse case scenario”.. Worst case scenarios are extremely unlikely but provide guidance on what to avoid. Business as usual is attempting to avoid worse case scenarios.

        However, calling the most destructive path “business as usual” is a great sales tool.

      • Those aspects of RCP8.5 are correct, but they are not a complete description. You ignore the unlikely assumptions of RCP8.5 that generate those high emissions — which is why it is not a “business as usual” scenario.

        I’m not really ignoring anything, I’m making a different point. It is possible to follow an emission pathway that could lead to a change in forcing of 8.5W/m^2 (or close) by 2100. The impacts of such a change in forcing could be severe, potentially catastrophic. Consequently many regard this as an emission pathway that we should be avoiding and is why it is often highlighted. Arguing about terminology, or the fine details of the assumptions underlying this pathway, misses – IMO – the crucial point. Yes, of course we may follow a different emission pathway (I really hope we do) and the reasons we do so may be a consequence of many factors, but that doesn’t change the potential consequences of following a high emission pathway.

      • People actually engaged in business as usual call it a “worse case scenario”.. Worst case scenarios are extremely unlikely but provide guidance on what to avoid.

        I agree, and “worst case scenario” may indeed be a better term. I’m not trying to defend the terminology. If anything, I’m suggesting the terminology is largely irrelevant if we understand what is being discussed.

      • ATTP,

        I assume that the Paris BS has put you in an even more foul mood than is your norm. You need to read/listen more and pontificate less.

      • attp “If anything, I’m suggesting the terminology is largely irrelevant if we understand what is being discussed.”

        Scientifically, probably not. Politically, it is a big deal. If you remember the China Syndrome you might remember why.

      • Scientifically, probably not. Politically, it is a big deal. If you remember the China Syndrome you might remember why.

        Sure, I would agree. However, that would seem to suggest that those who criticise terminology are playing at politics, not science.

      • attp, “Sure, I would agree. However, that would seem to suggest that those who criticise terminology are playing at politics, not science.”

        You have won yourself a cigar. Being part of the scientific “elite” it is your responsibility to understand the intricacies. The China Syndrome was the absolute worst possible case to the point of insanity. It was “demanded” for the purpose of politics. When political bodies word grants in order to find worst or best possible cases they aren’t playing science.

      • Mark Silbert,

        “I assume that the Paris BS has put you {ATTP} in an even more foul mood than is your norm.”

        ATTP is showing anger, as are many other climate activists. It’s a natural, the second stage of grief for the death of the campaign for massive public policy action to fight climate change.

        More details here.

      • David Springer

        ATTP (Ken Rice) states: “I’ll repeat what I said, just on the off chance that you actually spend a fraction of a second thinking about this (do me a favour, and actually surprise me).”

        A fraction of second is more than it deserves.

      • ATTP is showing anger, as are many other climate activists. It’s a natural, the second stage of grief for the death of the campaign for massive public policy action to fight climate change.

        Really? Strange, I – until I read the above – thought this had actually gone better than I was expecting. Maybe I should be pleased that you’ve lived up to my expectations, but I’m not really.

      • captdallas,

        About the terminology: “Scientifically, probably not. Politically, it is a big deal.”

        The “terminology” describing RCP8.5 as “business as usual” has an important role in the science — as shown by the prominence of that framing in scores of peer-reviewed forecasts. Here are ten from late 2015:

        http://fabiusmaximus.com/2015/11/05/visions-of-dark-climate-future-90153/

      • ATTP

        Thanks for pointing out that the terminology doesnt matter.
        Since we agree that the terms dont matter, and since the planet is at stake, you’ll have no problem in referring to RCP 8.5 as
        the “worst case” scenario. if terms don’t matter then show your good will
        by simply agreeing on a point that doesnt matter. The planet is at stake,
        and perhaps your display of good will can move the other side.
        What’s to lose if terms dont matter?

      • You don’t have to yammer about RCP8.5 any more, kenny. The Soiree d’ Paree Legally Binding 1.5C Agreement rules that out. We got it made in da shade. What are you going to do with your blog now that climate change is settled, kenny? Gardening? Astrology?

      • Steven,
        I have no problem referring to it as a “worst case scenario”. As I said, I don’t think the terminology is that important. I think I normally simply refer to it as RCP8.5, but if I ever do feel the need to describe it in some other way, I will endeavour to use “worst case scenario”.

      • and Then There’s Physics: I’m not trying to defend the terminology. If anything, I’m suggesting the terminology is largely irrelevant if we understand what is being discussed.

        The important point is that “RCP8.5” is not an accurate representation of the CO2 trend of “business as usual”. As long as we understand what is being discussed, we should avoid RCP8.5, and focus attention on the CO2 trajectory following “business as usual”. The use of RCP8.5 is a distraction, a deception, a confusion, an inaccuracy, or some such that is at best purely unhelpful.

        If it is a reasonable public policy goal to get below RCP8.5, the discussion is over because “business as usual” will do that.

      • ATTP,

        “I have no problem referring to it as a ‘worst case scenario’.”

        That is the point of this essay. While it is nice of you to agree with me, it more important to get climate scientists, activists, and journalists to stop referring to RCP8.5 as the “business as usual” scenario.

        Words matter.

        Also important would be constructing an actual “as usual” or base case scenario. Then we would have a full set of RCPs for planning.

      • Editor, I was trying to be charitable, not something I am used to on blogs :)

      • CaptDallas,

        “I was trying to be charitable,”

        Good idea – an example to us all! ;)

      • captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.3 | December 13, 2015 at 11:40 am |
        attp “If anything, I’m suggesting the terminology is largely irrelevant if we understand what is being discussed.”

        Scientifically, probably not. Politically, it is a big deal. If you remember the China Syndrome you might remember why.

        Smart people don’t call it the China syndrome. It would come out in the Indian Ocean for virtually any location in the CONUS.

      • referring to RCP 8.5 as the “worst case” scenario

        So, it RCP2.6 the “most likely case”?

        Evidence supporting that would include:

        1. The fact the annual growth of forcing from CO2 appears to have peaked in 2007 and has declined since:

        and
        2. CO2 emissions appear to be peaking also:
        http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31872460
        http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/climate-change-global-carbon-dioxide-emissions-stall-for-second-year-in-a-row-a6763776.html

      • ATTP’s obtuseness and argument through repetition is his trademark. I see little evidence of anger however in this behavior pattern. What does evidence anger however is the hunting of witches as scapegoats. Just as in the Middle Ages, when something really bad happens (or something perceived as counter to dogma happens), you round up a few heretics or witches and sacrifice them. You then temporarily feel better and more importantly avoid having to think about the fact that your dogma is the real problem.

      • For those who are interested the term “business as usual” isn’t used in either of the relevant IPCC AR5 WG1 Chapters (1 or 8). It is however picked up and used without the qualifier in the summary for policy makers.

        It is obviously an upper bound on the emission scenarios – reflecting the top 75% of the scenario conditions. It should be used as such, not as it is routinely used as the best estimate.

        If you stop and think about it, had it been the best estimate of business of usual – why did IPCC include a higher another higher scenario to balance its lower ones?

      • “why didn’t” not “why did” last para, sorry.

      • HAS,

        “{“Business as usual”} is however picked up and used without the qualifier in the summary for policy makers.”

        Can you give a pointer? I don’t see any in AR5’s WG1 SPM.

      • Fabius,

        While it is nice of you to agree with me

        I don’t really agree with you. That you would suggest I do, when I don’t, reflects poorly on you. Quite why you seem to think that you’re some kind of objective, unbiased observer really is beyond me.

        Words matter.

        They might, but amongst those who would like to engage honestly, they shouldn’t really. It’s the information that they’re trying to convey that should matter, not the words themselves. I realise that there might be arguments for using different words in order to better convery the information, but that doesn’t change that focussing on the words, rather than the information, is typical of those who’d rather play politics, then discuss the science.

      • It is however picked up and used without the qualifier in the summary for policy makers.

        I went through the SPM (PDF) and looked at every occurrence of the term “RCP8.5”. I found no identification of it as “business as usual”, neither word occurs in the document. Here are the relevant quotes (page 27):

        For the Fifth Assessment Report of IPCC, the scientific community has defined a set of four new scenarios, denoted Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs, see Glossary). They are identified by their approximate total radiative forcing in year 2100 relative to 1750: 2.6 W m^-2 for RCP2.6, 4.5 W m^-2 for RCP4.5, 6.0 W m^-2 for RCP6.0, and 8.5 W m^-2 for RCP8.5. […] These four RCPs include one mitigation scenario leading to a very low forcing level (RCP2.6), two stabilization scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP6), and one scenario with very high greenhouse gas emissions (RCP8.5). The RCPs can thus represent a range of 21st century climate policies, as compared with the no-climate policy of the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) used in the Third Assessment Report and the Fourth Assessment Report. For RCP6.0 and RCP8.5, radiative forcing does not peak by year 2100; for RCP2.6 it peaks and declines; and for RCP4.5 it stabilizes by 2100.

        The problem with “the no-climate policy of the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios” is that the term is incorrect for the situation over the last few decades: policies have been in place, and they’ve had effects

        The well-known exponential decline in solar PV panel costs (at the factory gate) may well have resulted partly from some of these policies. “Business as Usual” would presumably include some of these policies, perhaps in more intense form.

        Thus the characterization of RCP8.5 as “Business as Usual” is essentially a straw man.

        I would suppose this is commonly communicated through back-channels: “it means BAU but we’re no allowed to say it,” or some such thing. Using it as a spur for action at COP21 is essentially intellectual dishonesty

      • HAS,
        “It should be used as such, not as it is routinely used as the best estimate.

        If you stop and think about it, had it been the best estimate of business of usual – why did IPCC include a higher another higher scenario to balance its lower ones?”

        Who does this? What is your evidence? You mentioned SPM, but like FB and AK, I can’t find it there.

      • It looks as though I was wrong re the SPM. I did this some time ago and can’t recall what I did – I think I may have inadvertently picked up a reference using Mr Google elsewhere on the ipcc.ch site.

        My bad.

      • I like to mention that 8.5 was specified, that it was very difficult to achieve, that a very dishonest trick was pulled by labeling it as “business as usual”.

        Let’s put it this way, if climatology is informed with garbage, the results are garbage. If impacts are estimated using garbage climate projections, the impacts are garbage. And if the impacts are garbage the economic models used to estimate global warming impacts are worthless.

        So, if you were to present that work to me in a professional setting I would treat you kindly, explain everything you have done, those thousands of papers, have to be reworked if they had anything to do with rcp8.5 as “business as usual”.

      • Nick Stokes: Who does this?

        Elsewhere on this thread I mention the habit in NZ of consultants to pass RCP8.5 projections as the likely projections. I’m sure in 5 minutes searching you can find similar bahaviour on your side of the ditch.

        Funnily enough someone turned up another example yesterday where the RCP8.5 is explicitly being passed off as BAU. Have a look at https://www.climateinteractive.org/tools/scoreboard/scoreboard-science-and-data/

      • @HAS…

        I did this some time ago and can’t recall what I did – I think I may have inadvertently picked up a reference using Mr Google elsewhere on the ipcc.ch site.

        It might have been this site, which includes this:

        A more nuanced discussion can be found here, both sites are linked at the WUWT post discussed by Nick Stokes below.

      • Who does this? What is your evidence? You mentioned SPM, but like FB and AK, I can’t find it there.

        This seems a little disingenuous. If you’d actually read the WUWT post you linked below, you’d have found links to all sorts of people who do this. It’s pretty sad when you can ask somebody “[w]hat is your evidence?” after posting a link to the evidence yourself.

      • AK, yes thanks I had read back through the provenance on RCP8.5 to A2r etc etc. What I was doing was searching using [site:.ipcc.ch] and thought I’d found a reference. In retrospect I think I probably tripped up on a reference to an earlier AR (or one of the Social Economic scenarios).

      • AK,

        Your reply to Nick Stokes: “t’s pretty sad when you can ask somebody “[w]hat is your evidence?” after posting a link to the evidence yourself.”

        Good catch. Nick spells out his objection downthread. His complaint is in effect that material in the supplemental (i.e., by link) should be in the main body.

        He is not saying that I don’t provide the necessary documentation of my claim (that studies use RVP8.5 as the “b-as-usual” scenario). He is not denying that they do so. His is a trivial claim irrelevant to the important issue raised.

        That is similar to ATTP’s initial argument upthread, which evolved into something else. It’s a tactic used often these days by climate activist, as their claims fall apart.

      • That is similar to ATTP’s initial argument upthread, which evolved into something else. It’s a tactic used often these days by climate activist, as their claims fall apart.

        My argument hasn’t changed. Suggesting that it has, when it hasn’t, is a typical tactic of those who I shall politely call climate “skeptics”. Similarly, suggesting that those who disagree with you are simply missing the point, is also a tactic.

      • ATTP your original, “crucial point [was] whether or not we should avoid following such a pathway [RCP8.5].”

        Since this is what is known in the trade as a straw man none of us could believe that is what you realty meant, and have been search for content in what you wrote ever since.

      • HAS,
        “Funnily enough someone turned up another example yesterday where the RCP8.5 is explicitly being passed off as BAU”
        Again, just not true. RCP8.5 is not mentioned there. In fact, they are using their “C-ROADS” to evaluate what would happen if various commitments are honored (INDCs strict, ratchet 1 etc). They use BAU in the strict sense of no commitments being honored.

      • AK,
        ‘ It’s pretty sad when you can ask somebody “[w]hat is your evidence?” after posting a link to the evidence yourself.’
        No. This post is about
        ‘Even a casual examination of this shows it to be a useful worst-case scenario, but not “business as usual”.’

        It is not condemning the scenario, but what people are saying about it. So the evidence needs to be presented. That’s just basic journalism. Useless to say “well, you can Google it” or “follow these links”. They lead to all sorts of things. It needs to be shown here and now – who said it, and what did they say?

        I show the fallacy here. You get waved at a list of links. But the first one is not supporting the claim at all. It is actually a careful setting out of the range of scenarios considered. It explains, even in the title, that RCP8.5 is the upper end of the range. And it explains why you need a range.

        And so on. If these are the basis for the essay, let’s see them stated and defended here.

      • Nick

        Read the fine print.

        “Assumptions inherent in C-ROADS:

        1 The C-ROADS “reference scenario” (often called “business as usual”) is based on the RCP 8.5 scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) report.”

      • HAS
        “Read the fine print.”
        Well, that isn’t “the RCP8.5 is explicitly being passed off as BAU”. They have used 8.5 in making their own scenario, which is then related to explicit restraint proposals, one of which (no restraint) they call business as usual.

      • Nick

        The reference scenario is RCP8.5 and is called “business as usual”. ‘[T]he RCP8.5 is explicitly being passed off as BAU”.

      • and Then There’s Physics: I realise that there might be arguments for using different words in order to better convery the information, but that doesn’t change that focussing on the words, rather than the information, is typical of those who’d rather play politics, then discuss the science.

        Is this your way of backing off from the propositions that (a) RCP8.5 accurately represents BAU and (b) that there is utility in comparisons to RCP8.5?

        Nothing has yet prevented you from discussing the “information”, but you seem stuck on the non-informative RCP8.5.

      • and Then There’s Physics: IMO, all the critiques of RCP8.5 and the usage of “business as usual” miss the crucial point. RCP8.5 and the term “business as usual” refer to a future pathway in which emissions continue increasing and in which we reach a change in forcing by 2100 of 8.5W/m^2.

        See, you made a mistake right off the bat. RCP8.5 and “business as usual” do not refer to “a” future pathway, they refer to “two future pathways”. The critiques of RCP8.5 and the usage of “business as usual” pathways in its place are quite pertinent.

      • Ken,

        Your arrogance is matched by your dishonesty in debating an additional issue. You say 8.5 is highlighted because is is possible to follow an emissions pathway that leads to 8.5. Possible, yes. Just as it is possible I will win the lottery. Which is an apt analogy because the people odds of either happening are similar. That is not business as usual by any stretch of reality. And since your description has no foindation on the real world it means either you are easily confused or know exactly what you are doing and are therefore another dishonest putz.

        But then we already knew that.

      • …and Then There’s Physics | December 13, 2015 at 11:38 am |
        People actually engaged in business as usual call it a “worse case scenario”.. Worst case scenarios are extremely unlikely but provide guidance on what to avoid.

        I agree, and “worst case scenario” may indeed be a better term. I’m not trying to defend the terminology. If anything, I’m suggesting the terminology is largely irrelevant if we understand what is being discussed.

        Well, it isn’t really a worst case. It is the Greenpeace worst case. They like most greens seem to be confused about things and don’t understand how the private sector works.

        1. The methane levels are a flight of fancy.
        2. The emissions to atmospheric CO2 level conversion is far too high.
        3. The rates of fossil fuel consumption are impossibly high.

        At the rates of fossil fuel consumption in RCP8.5 fuel would be a high multiple of the current price and clean cheap nuclear would replace fossil fuel for much of the power generation. Novelty power generation like wind or solar that isn’t good for much could be used for power to create liquid fuels.

        An industry team could rework the RCP 8.5 scenario – it would end up being RCP2.0 or maybe RCP1.0 once reality is factored in.

    • “Given the resulting change in temperature, and the potential impacts due to such a change, the crucial point is whether or not we should avoid following such a pathway.”

      Since these modelled changes in temperature and the potential impacts are based on less than reliable data, care needs to be taken to not waste limited resources in an attempt to avoid what potentially might happen in the far future. In the real world people have limited financial resources and need to use them wisely.

    • Please stop making me laugh with glee watching you try to defend THE THING.

    • …and Then There’s Physics | December 13, 2015 at 11:04 am | Reply
      IMO, all the critiques of RCP8.5 and the usage of “business as usual” miss the crucial point. RCP8.5 and the term “business as usual” refer to a future pathway in which emissions continue increasing and in which we reach a change in forcing by 2100 of 8.5W/m^2.

      This is incorrect. To obtain the RCP8.5 scenario in 2100 we would have to burn off a considerable portion of the planets surface to reduce environmental absorption and increase CO2 emissions. That isn’t good business and isn’t normal.

      China, responsible for almost half the world’s coal consumption, reduced coal use by 2.9% in 2014. It is claimed they will hit peak coal in 2030. China has about 114 billion tons of coal and is burning it at about 4 billion tons per year. 114/4 = 28.5 years of coal available.

      In 30 years half the global coal consumption will stop. If it doesn’t stop it will drive the cost of coal imports moonward which will plateau coal consumption anyway.

      New oil wells cost 5-6 times as much as traditional oil wells. And peak oil/gas is rapidly approaching. The lower 48 states of the US hit peak oil/gas in 1970.

      Further, at 500 PPM the environmental absorption will be 10 GT/Y.

      With fossil fuel consumption peaked before mid-century and an ever rising environmental absorption we will have start deliberately torching the planet to stay on RCP8.5. And that isn’t “business as usual”.

    • It’s an extremely improbable pathway, which would not normally be thought of a “business as usual”, since nearly all of the extrapolations require a *change* in current trends.

    • and Then There’s Physics: I’ll repeat what I said, just on the off chance that you actually spend a fraction of a second thinking about this (do me a favour, and actually surprise me). RCP8.5 is a concentration pathway.

      I think you missed the other point: that RCP8.5 can not reasonably be considered “business as usual”. Therefore, thinking about changing “business” in order to avoid RCP8.5 is an empty exercise, and has no important conclusions. It is no more important for actual policy decisions regarding CO2 than dental floss.

    • Oops. So we use consilience to establish ‘fact’ and a ‘worst case’ to act on on ‘fact’? Well, where do I sign up? … I do not think so.

      Seriously, think about what you are stringing together.

      • mwgrant,

        That is an interesting comment, but I’m unsure to what you are replying. Can you explain a bit more?

      • Hi Editor,

        ATTP’s latest post is ‘Consilience of the evidence’ [ see https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/consilience-of-the-evidence/ ]. At the post I commented/queried on whether consilience is weaker than ‘weight of evidence’. I had looked at the topic on wikipedia [ see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consilience ]:

        In science and history, consilience (also convergence of evidence or concordance of evidence) refers to the principle that evidence from independent, unrelated sources can “converge” to strong conclusions. That is, when multiple sources of evidence are in agreement, the conclusion can be very strong even when none of the individual sources of evidence is very strong on its own. Most established scientific knowledge is supported by a convergence of evidence: if not, the evidence is comparatively weak, and there will not likely be a strong scientific consensus. [mwg bold].

        The bold part caught my attention and that resulted in my initial comment to ATTP here. While I tweak him a little I find it is a potentially rich topic. If I was structuring a policy decision I would want to explore, incorporate, and document that terrain into risk calculations calculations. One big reason it is rich (IMO) is because it because it presents a more formal face on how science is practiced. [rife with uncertainties]. I guess I am in my own world. I appreciate Ken’s raising the term because I think that it moves toward clarifying matters–to me at least.

        As for the ‘worst case’…it seems to me that evoking the precautionary principle is premature if a number of the independent indicator observations are not strong and significant downside risks with ‘worst case’. Now in content this is no different then what some people have stated often before, but the interesting thing is that it the language suggests little lines of approach to the uncertainty monster.

        For example , multiple (sets of) independent observations–in the sense of sea ice, temperature anomalies, wooly-worm banding statistics, etc., have an element of inference even if qualitative assessments are involved. That is, a set of observations is a some level a test albeit qualitative.* Taking that perspective then the question of global warming is a multiple testing situation. Now in the quantitative world significance and power can really work against one another and work is required to set up testing protocols, Clearly setting the null hypothesis also can be important and this suggest possible lines the utilities of assessing existing sets of observation.
        ———–
        Always trying to get a handle…one wonders about ‘statistics’ of categorical data.

      • mwgrnt,

        Thank you for the explanation. It’s food for thought!

      • My apologies for getting carried away. It really just kind of ran away while I was writing…:O)

      • It is not condemning the scenario, but what people are saying about it. So the evidence needs to be presented. That’s just basic journalism.

        Depends on what type of debate you’re trying to have.

        The contention is that RCP8.5 is widely considered “the” “business as usual” alternative to various mitigation strategies. It’s both arguably one possiblebusiness as usual” scenario with respect to CO2 mitigation, and the only one included in the AR5 that lacks mitigation assumptions.

        Thus, when readers who don’t expect intellectual dishonesty read widespread statements that it’s “the” “business as usual” option, and look in the SPM and see the text I quoted, they’re taken in.

        But RCP8.5 is not a real “business as usual” scenario, except in the limited case of mitigation assumptions. That’s the point of the main post. The people who are presenting it as such are mostly trying for something like “we’ve got to do something drastic or look what’ll happen.” But it’s extremely unlikely to happen, even if no mitigation efforts take place.

        Furthermore, policy options to prevent it could well involve increased efforts to provide better lifestyles to the poor of Africa, and support technological R&D to maintain the current rate of development. Climate mitigation not needed. So the arguments using RCP8.5 as “the” “business as usual” alternative to various mitigation strategies is basically dishonest rhetoric.

        If these are the basis for the essay, let’s see them stated and defended here.

        What’s basic to the argument in the essay is that RCP8.5 has been widely presented as “the” “business as usual” alternative to various mitigation strategies. Which you already know. So your demand for “ your evidence” is basically an effort to waste an enemy’s time. Dishonest rhetoric.

      • Editor,

        One final word on consilience…reflecting some further consideration. Below is my last comment at ATTP. Basically I am at the point the argument of consilience is immature:
        ======================================

        Consilience in anthropogenic climate change may not be as strong as some think. Consider VTG’s list of processes from above:


        The basic physics: the radiative properties of CO2 and H20
        Simple modelling: 1d atmospheric models coupled with the vapour pressure of water
        Surface temperature records showing rises consistent with the physics
        Rising sea levels accelerating as expected with warming
        The retreat worldwide of mountain glaciers
        The collapse in Arctic Ice volume
        The cooling of the stratosphere, as expected
        The changing of species’ range, expected with rising temperatures
        The rise in ocean heat content

        Parsing out anthropogenic contributions from natural contributions would have to accomplished in each case. Independence in the ‘measurement methodologies’ has to be addressed, demonstrated, and documented–both the original sets and the parsed out anthropogenic sets. Modeling of course should be eliminated if it is not V&V’ed. (IMO it is unlikely that simple 1d models could be.) I agree with “I do not think it is as trivial as you are treating it,” [Anoneuoid] but for very different reasons. Consilience is still interesting because it suggests some a line to maybe get more insights.

        My point is that I do not think one can evoke consilience as supporting man-caused climate change until more is accomplished and documented. While interesting this specific evocation probably is not ready for prime time.

        My apologies–closing out OT stuff that I wandered into.

      • mwgrant wrote:

        Parsing out anthropogenic contributions from natural contributions would have to accomplished in each case.

        No. This is wrong.

    • Of course, there are now many predictions that population will peak soon at 8.5 billion.

      Those believing otherwise should be prepared to explain why they think fertility rates are going to stop falling and actually rise soon:

      Africa does remain somewhat of a question because automation would appear to deny Africa an industrial revolution. Economic development there would seem to require an evolution directly to a service economy.

      High emissions scenarios are an easy way doomsters have pushed the issue so far. Here’s Hansen’s ABC:

      Black is actual.

      Hmmm, I guess they did have to make up scary scenarios.

      • TE your chart isn’t accurate. The chart is the trend in W/m2/year.
        http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v519/n7543/full/nature14240.html

        The forcing from 2000 to 2011 was measured as 0.2 W/m2/decade.

        That is 0.02 W/m2/y.

        Myhre, G. et al. Anthropogenic and natural radiative forcing. In Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (eds Stocker, T. F. et al.) 661 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013)
        Due to increased concentrations, RF from WMGHGs has
        increased by 0.20 (0.18 to 0.22) W m–2 (8%) since the AR4 estimate
        for the year 2005. The RF of WMGHG is 2.83 (2.54 to 3.12)
        W m–2. The majority of this change since AR4 is due to increases in the
        carbon dioxide (CO2) RF of nearly 10%. The Industrial Era RF for CO2
        alone is 1.82 (1.63 to 2.01) W m–2, and CO2 is the component with the
        largest global mean RF. Over the last decade RF of CO2 has an average
        growth rate of 0.27 (0.24 to 0.30) W m–2 per decade.

        The actual forcing post 2000 is about 75% of the IPCC guesstimate. The Feldman study came out after AR5.

        So we are in for 0.2 W/m2/decade or about 2 W/m2/century. Doesn’t seem particularly scary. Considering we have been following the RCP8.5 scenario the whole time. Considering an exponential increase in Chinese emissions that is now over. Considering that peak fossil is approaching. Considering that when peak fossil hits we will part company with RCP8.5 forever.

    • Eddie,

      Thanks for posting about current CO2 emissions. Most of what I read says that they’re tracking RCP8.5’s forecast. Good news to see that is not so.

      • There’s not much difference between RCP3,45,6,or 85 because the clock just started ticking:

        But the recent stall in CO2, the peak in CO2 forcing in 2007, and the level of the past decade of forcing growth at about 3.3W/m^2 per century indicate that we are not on the RCP8.5 path.

      • Eddie,

        Thanks for flagging this … There is some good news about CO2 emissions, as described in “Reaching peak emissions” by Robert B. Jackson, Nature Climate Change, in press. “Rapid growth global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry ceased in the past two years, despite continued economic growth.”

        From the press release: “The most promising finding in our report is the coupling of lower carbon emissions with a strong economic growth of more than 3%”.

        Assuming that this decades-long trend of increased energy efficiency slows while emissions continue (or accelerate) is horrific — but not “business as usual”.

      • The graph from Jackson 2015 didn’t appear in my comment. Trying again…

      • TE: “the peak in CO2 forcing in 2007”

        Say what?

        Is this merely sloppy or confused? CO2 forcing will peak when net emissions go to zero.

    • @ ATTP –
      Well it’s good to see that you are on board for the Orwellian redefining of ‘business as usual’ in order to help save the planet!

    • ATTP:

      “My argument hasn’t changed.”

      That was my error. Your comment was quite clear, and was not a change of your view. This is a long thread, and I misremembered what you had said.

      https://judithcurry.com/2015/12/13/a-closer-look-at-scenario-rcp8-5/#comment-750690

    • Ken Rice can’t even be honest with himself.

      He picks one point which is accurate (RCP8.5 represents a future in which emissions are increasing) and ignores all of the other pertinent points of the scenario.

      Nice work Ken.

    • Perhaps you should stick to physics. The point of the post, I think, is that RCP 8.5 and business as usual are radically different paths, one real and one imaginary. And conflating them does not help the formulation of sensible policy.

    • Gapminder real data trends concerning the RCP 8.5
      ass-umption concerning population growth.

      History and Philip Tetlock remind us we ain’t great at
      prediction.The Reverend Mister Pessimist, Thomas
      Malthus, physicist Sir William Crooks, Paul Ehrlich
      et Al, predicted global population would out run grain
      production. It didn’t happen because, though not crash
      hot at prediction, we ARE good at innovation. Malthus
      didn’t foresee the innovations of the Industrial revolution
      that transformed farm technology in the 19th century.and
      Crooks did not predict the Green Revolution of the 20th
      century. 1970’s Nobel Laureate, Norman Borlaug, who
      revolutionized wheat production is said to have, saved
      possibly more lives than any other person who has ever
      lived.

  5. Nice post. I would add the fact that RCP8.5 has a serious disconnect in the oil production forecast. When dealing with oil, it’s important to segregate the different streams being mislabeled “oil” by some entities. With that in mind, if we compare the RCP8.5 “oil” forecast with the very long term forecasts prepared by outfits such as ExxonMobil, IHS, IEA, and others, we can see that rcp8.5 grossly overestimated what can be produced.

    Furthermore, because they couldn’t achieve the radiative forcing they wanted, they assumed a very steep increase in methane concentration.

    Finally, and I realize I’m dealing with a very strong cornucopian audience, I would like to ask, where is the coal in rcp8.5 supposed to come from, and what will be the market price? Will that price be affordable to several billion Africans supposed to be alive in the RCP8.5 dystopia?

    • Fernandoleanme,

      You raise several interesting points. I posted a comment about them below, but by mistake mentioned only PA.

      • Editor, I wouldn’t be mixing NGL and gas to liquids synthetics into the main stream. The system model really needs crude oil plus condensate, and judicious separation of C2-C3-C4 molecules as NGL. The big boys like to disguise the ongoing crisis by lumping everything including BIOFUELS in those forecasts. It takes a lot of detective work to separate them. And I guess we all know there are hidden agendas. For example, OPEC reserves and production statistics are mangled. Right now they are engaged in a war, and anything goes.

    • To be fair, the forecasts from 30 years ago grossly under-estimated the amount of oil that could be produced this year.

      • Charlie,

        That’s an important thing to remember about forecasts! I have not seen forecasts from 30 years ago, but those made in 2000 for 2010 were far off the mark.

        http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/How-Accurate-are-Long-Term-Government-Oil-Forecasts-Can-we-Trust-them.html

      • Actually, they did not. In 1956 Hubbert predicted US peak production of conventional oil in 1970, and the global peak about 2005. IIRC Scientific American ran an article in 1992 by Campbell and LaHerere also predicting the global peak around 2005. The actual US peak was 1971, and the actual global peak was 2007 according to IEA.
        Conventional oil has a viscosity lower than API 10 (a higher number), from a reservoir > 5% porosity and permeability >10 darcies.
        If you include unconventional oil (shale, effectively 0 porosity and millidarcies of permeability, Athabasca bitumin and Orinico tar viscosity higher than API 10 ( lower number) then the best current estimate tfor total peak is 2023. Explanations and references in essays IEA Fictions and Peaking at Peaks in my ebook Blowing Smoke

      • Ristvan,

        The work of Hubbert, Campbell and LaHerere were not mainstream forecasts. Especially Campbell, with his long series of very wrong forecasts. I believe it is more useful to look at the forecasts of the EIA, IEA, and major oil companies.

        Given how tech advances, long-term forecasts of “petroleum” are imo more useful than those of “conventional” oil. Many unconventional forms have total costs (capital and operating, extraction and refining) similar to much of that in the remaining untapped fields of conventional oil in the the poles and deep ocean (e.g., Brazil’s Santos Basin).

      • Read the essays and get back. One expressly deals with the IEA. Adapted from a guest post here a coiple of years ago. The digging involved ONLY IEA information (data) compared to contemporaneous IEA pronouncements about same. Nullius in verba.

      • Two other examples concerning the trustworthiness of the EIA. Re Monterey shale TRR, essay Reserve Reservations. Re Bahzenov shale TRR, Matryoshka Reserves. Both classic examples of collosal geological blunders by the lead agency entrusted not to make them.

        Editor, nullius in verba. You have to put in the work to check stuff. The sole theme of my ebook The Arts of Truth, which has over a hundred different examples drawn from policy relevant areas including health care, education, and energy, most involving ‘official’ US government stuff. For example, the official EPA MPG eqivalent for the Chevy Volt is 60. The ‘real’ (apples to apples, not fruit salad) number should be 35. This despite 99 pages of regulations backed up by 179 pages of technical support documentation on how to provide the new vehicle MPG stickers for every car sold in the US.

      • Charlie, 30 years ago i was supervising a small engineering operations team, never gave much thought to the end of oil. I am writing now with sound knowledge base about the business.

        And I can’t visualize where all that oil will come from. The same applies to Natural gas, although that picture is rosier.

        I’m willing to sit in a forum, say in the uk, to discuss the issue seriously. Most of the comments I get within the climate debate community are fairly weak, so I think I can pull them apart. It would help to have access to IHS data bases. I’m familiar with their material, WoodMac’s etc. but that is confidential.

        The oil companies treat this like a hand grenade, but since I’m retired I don’t owe anybody anything.

      • Rust an, that definition of conventional is confusing.

      • Dead thread, but Fernando I am Not confused re American Petroleum Institute viscosity defintions. They are. Not my fault they do viscosity backwards. The official API standard works backwards. ‘light low viscosity crude is >API 32 ( e.g. Brent at about 56-60). Bakken is 62, which is why its light frothy oil keeps exploding in rail car detrainments. ‘Heavy oil’ is < API 30. 'Tar' (Orinoco) is < 10 API (averaging 6 IIRC), and Athabascan bitumen is < 6, essentially the equivalent of road bitumen left after millions of years of evaporation from the world's largest natural oil spill.

    • Ristvan,

      “Read the essays and get back.”

      Good idea. Here’s the March 1998 Campbell Scientific American article: “The End of Cheap Oil“. That was written during the emerging market bust that depressed the price of oil. I believe that today oil’s prices are roughly where they were in 2000, adjusted for inflation. No sign that will change soon (but it will, eventually).

      Here is M. King Hubbert’s prediction that oil production would peak in 1995, based on a total URR of 2 trillion barrels. “Oil, the Dwindling Treasure“, Noel Grove, National Geographic, June 1974.

      Neither was a mainstream forecast. I’m not sure why you believe they were, since the IEA, EIA, and others have consistently said otherwise.

      “the actual global peak was 2007 according to IEA.”

      Definitions and estimates vary, but I believe (from my notes) that global conventional oil (crude and condensate production; C+C) made a new record high of 74.28 Mbpd in December 2014. Haven’t seen 2015’s numbers, but the world is awash in cheap oil — which has reduced oil capex — and hence production growth. When prices recover, it is likely that production growth will resume as well.

      • Condensate is not oil. It is stuff like butane and propane.
        I do not care about consensus forecasts for crude oil any more than for climate change. Both ‘official’ estimates proven wrong. I again suggest you maybe read some of my footnoted essays rather than blathering on in factual ignorance– so, is Monterey shale folded? Is Bazhenove a pure source rock, and to the extent it remains one, what are the geometries of its frackable strata? Would be glad to reconsider any of my conclusions if you or anyone else can provide counter factuals. But I will not argue mere opinions or beliefs. That is useless futility, as you are here demonstrating.
        Larry Kummar, you advocate better informed public policy. I agree. But you persist in ignoring underlying facts and fictions even when pointed to them. Study more, opine less. Your factual knowledge is less than you think it is. Par for the course. Read my ebook The Arts of Truth. It explains in graphic detail what I infer Fabius Maximus aspires to. Using only over a hundred graphic explicit numeric examples, and almost no philosophy.

    • Editor of the Fabius Maximus website | December 13, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Reply
      Ristvan,

      “Read the essays and get back.”

      Good idea. Here’s the March 1998 Campbell Scientific American article: “The End of Cheap Oil“. That was written during the emerging market bust that depressed the price of oil. I believe that today oil’s prices are roughly where they were in 2000, adjusted for inflation. No sign that will change soon (but it will, eventually).

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/continental-resources-cuts-spending-in-bakken-oil-field-by-2-5b-1.2882476

      If you google “Bakken cutback” you find that everyone in Bakken is pulling back because the prices are too low to support exploration and extraction.

      The peak production in the lower 48 states was in 1970. So to some extent “peak oil” has already arrived.

      • For my above defined conventional oil, using three specific geophysics parameters, it arrived in 2007 according to the fact details, not the glossy prose, of IEA. Using the same methods, for all oil it will arrive sometime in the 2020’s. My own best estimate using gamma rather than logistics functions, plus creaming curves, is about 2023. Maybe 2024 given the Saudi war on US shale oil. Which both they and we know is a mere TRR ‘blip’, lasting at most a decade. Hence their gambit.

      • ristvan, tell me something.

        If peak fossil fuel is on or before 2030, If the country responsible for almost 1/2 of coal consumption is going be tapped out by 2045, if a country responsible for 6% of coal production is going to be tapped out in the next decade, who is burning all this fossil fuel in the RCPs and where are they getting it from? It is hard to make the case that 2050 emissions will be as high as current emissions (10 GT).

        If it is impossible to cause harmful global warming, why all the charades?

      • PA, you pose a very complicated question. That peak oil production ( of all types) will occur before 2030 is unquestionable, no matter what others here post out of ignorance. Nat gas (least CO2 forming) is pretty optomistic. Shale TRR 15% versus shale oil maybe 1.5%, and larger shale extents in the gas window. Difficult to estimate a production peak, since past flare gas is an unknown. I am personally optomistic that the world has many decades of abundant shale gas available.. Coal, I have only read the analyses of Patek (U. T Austin) Rutledge (Caltech) and the U. Uppsala team. See no reason to doubt their conclusions about peak production by maybe 2050-2060, but…

        However, all this data says sharply rising FF prices in coming decades. First oil, meaning about 70% transport fuels. The present $40/bbl is a Saudi war on US fracked shale oil headfake, IMO. Based on OPEC financing needs, and US shale rig counts and decline curves, I think oil prices will be back near $100/bbl by ye 2016. Is pretty easy to guestimate given sufficient geophysical granularity.

  6. https://yearbook.enerdata.net/coal-and-lignite-world-consumption.html
    The basic problem with RCP8.5 is that it isn’t informed by any realistic considerations. China will hit peak coal in 2030. China’s coal consumption dropped 2.9% last year. China consumes almost half of the worlds coal production. China is not going to replace much of the coal consumption with imports because of cost.

    It is pretty simple. Coal consumption will slowly decline after 2030. Indonesia exports will dry up in the next 10 years. Other fossil fuel consumption will start to decline in the 2030-2040 period because of cost. New oil production costs 5 to 6 times as much as traditional oil wells.

    So it is RCP8.5 to 2040 then a transition to RCP3.0 or RCP4.5

    The CO2 level will peak before mid-century, when declining emissions of 10 GT/Y meet rising environmental absorption of 10 GT/Y

    The RCP writers started from the wrong end of the horse, and ended up with what you get from the wrong end of the horse. They started from forcing. If they had looked at realistic fossil fuel consumption and production scenarios there wouldn’t have been a concern about runaway warming. Particularly if they factored in the increasing environmental absorption.

    • There is nothing wrong with starting form the forcing.

      From a purely analytic standpoint it makes sense to lay out various scnearios. 8.5W, 6W, 4W, 2W 1W 0W -1W etc.

      Think of that as a top down approach.

      Next you would do bottoms up.. like the old SRES.

      If you did that you’d see that there is virtually no way to get to 8.5W unless you make some really crazy assumptions.

      It would be business as unusal

      But never mind– the damages of 6W would then be blow out of proportion.

  7. Isn’t it the case that the various RCPs are using the standard sensitivity of 3C per doubling of CO2, which even the IPCC is abandoning (hidden away in AR5). So RCP8.5 is actually RCP4.25 or some similar smaller warming, dependent on the true sensitivity.

    Then too, even with nonzero sensitivity, do anthropological emissions have any discernible effect on atmospheric CO2? Munshi 2015 compares annual CO2 emissions from 1959-2011 with atmospheric CO2 over the same period and finds no relationship after detrending the two series.

    ABSTRACT: A statistically significant correlation between annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions and the annual rate of accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere over a 53-year sample period from 1959-2011 is likely to be spurious because it vanishes when the two series are detrended. The results do not indicate a measurable year to year effect of annual
    anthropogenic emissions on the annual rate of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere.

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2642639

  8. The thing I find most interesting about your predictions for 2100 is the assumption that fusion power will be solved. While it can’t be ruled out, it seems counter-productive to me to build it into optimistic scenarios.

    Space Solar Power, OTOH, is potentially feasible and cost-effective (arguably, assuming continuation of certain learning curve trends), without the need for any real scientific “breakthroughs”. Assuming either the planting of “seed” technology on the Lunar surface, or the development of more cost/energy-efficient access to space (NEO) from the surface, exponential growth could easily lead to a replacement of most surface generation.

    IMO the biggest challenge to space solar power is the current exponential cost decline in regular, surface-based solar PV. Techniques for avoiding the need for much ancillary equipment (e.g. inverters), as well as eliminating the need for direct energy storage through use of intermittent equipment for power→gas/liquid fuel conversion, will probably (IMO) end up making surface-based solar PV the lowest-cost option.

    Nor can nuclear fission be ruled out. It has been frequently noted here that much of the current cost of fission generation comes from meeting highly burdensome regulatory constraints. Like Space Solar Power, nuclear fission has the potential to achieve the needed energy solutions.

    The problem with fission, and likely with fusion given how easily demagogues could smear it with safety issues using the word “nuclear”, is the enormous set of political hurdles it would have to overcome: not just public fears of “safety” issues, but politicians’ fears of public fears of “safety” issues.

    IMO in the long run, Space Solar Power will supply most of mankind’s power, even if the process is delayed until most of industry, and probably agriculture, is moved into space where it won’t interfere with a Terrestrial “return to nature”. Which could be a while.

    • AK,

      “While it can’t be ruled out, it seems counter-productive to me to build it into optimistic scenarios.”

      I agree, which is why I made no such assumption in this essay. My article about 2100 AD was speculative, to spark discussion about the wide range of futures out there.

      There are many exciting research projects to develop alternative energy, some even attracting private capital. However many promising projects have died due to lack of funding. One high-profile project I followed died despite positive findings because DoE would not give them $5 million for 3 years to develop a prototype — what the F-35 and hypersonic missile programs burp in a day.

      This is insane given the many reasons we desperately need new energy sources.

    • AK, I think fusion is not an over-optimistic assumption. Actually, solar, wind and tidal energy are making very rapid progress now even with still cheap oil. I just signed with Solarcity this week for rooftop panels, for example. History shows that if given a clear challenge that unifies resolve humankind will do what it takes. If we have fusion mastered we can have robotic powered coastal dredging to lower sea level on a global scale. Or other things beyond imagination.

  9. Pa,

    You raise many important points about energy that were beyond the scope of this essay. Two are of special importance, worth expanding on your comment.

    (1) We will not run out of coal or petroleum

    The inverse relationship between ore quality and quantity– mediated by technology — has been known by geologists for generations. Once all reserves are discovered the cost per BTU will change by the interplay of tapping lower quality reserves (raising costs) and new technology (lowering costs).

    This makes forecasting more difficult than if it was merely a matter of ore availability. If we don’t continue to develop alternative sources, the cost of fossil fuels might become very high in the late 21st century — which will reduce consumption.

    For a good summary of how this works see this excerpt from Sir Ronald Prain’s 1975 classic Copper: the anatomy of an Industry.

    (2) How much coal?

    A DoE expert told me that many of the unexplored fields in the western US probably had the energy density of “kitty litter” (I assume he meant biodegradable litter, not clay or silica gel). I haven’t updated my files on this for several years, but here are some useful cites suggesting that the energy content of global coal reserves has been overestimated.

    The Peak in US Coal Production“, Gregson Vaux (DoE’s NREL), May 2004.
    The Future of Coal“, B. Kavalov and S. D. Peteves, European Commission Institute for Energy, February 2007.
    COAL OF THE FUTURE (SUPPLY PROSPECTS FOR THERMAL COAL BY 2030-2050)“, European Commission Institute for Energy (JRC IFE), February 2007.
    Coal: Resources and Future Production“, Energy Watch Group, March 2007.
    The Future of Coal“, MIT, March 2007
    Coal: Research and Development to Support National Energy Policy“, National Academies, June 2007.

    • If we subsidized fossil fuels at the level renewable energy is subsidized we would effectively never run out of fossil fuels. That high a subsidy multiple would let us harvest methane hydrates.

      However, the amount of fossil fuel that can competitively be delivered to the customer is quite limited.

  10. Here’s a concise summary of the UN’s COP-21 Conference:

    http://junkscience.com/2015/12/wapo-historic-climate-treaty/#respond

    Now is the time to start rebuilding science.

  11. What I would like to see is the RCP 8.5 scenario including economic negative feedbacks of rising temperature. The scenario is currently strangely unaffected by huge increases of global average temperature.

    What does it look like when the allegedly negative effect of temperature increase is fed back into the emissions?

  12. Great story and, if you don’t believe it… I’ll tell you another one. I’ve got a million of’m and computer time is cheap.

  13. They truly believe in all this global predicting and control-knobbing. My God.

    The US has Bomber Barry and something under a bouffant as Secretary of State. Pope Junta is a nature-worshipping brute. European leadership is squashed between Green Blob and a Crescent. Canada’s PM is a re-run of Home Alone. And Australia’s New Class PM is one of those unfathomable “great communicators” who is still to finish a sentence from last Tuesday.

    Nature abhors a vacuum. It’s just such a great time for two-bob intellectuals and pseudo-scientists to take charge. The technocrat elites don’t present a worst case scenario. They ARE the worst-case scenario.

    Fight, people. Fight today. Fight Green Blob.

    • Shouldn’t you be asleep Generalissimo? Even you need to rest.

      • Si, mi coronel. I should rest.

        But I have a sinus problem which wakes me constantly. So I come over to Judith’s place and look for a warmie to eviscerate. You know the feeling, surely.

    • Every level of human society makes future predictions, on all time scales. From people organising their lives, to private companies, to the most masive global investments of the free market. All have some form of ‘predicting’ or ‘projecting’ the future in order to make decisions. You think we should all abandon this process? Even just governments and international bodies abandoning such activity would be utter madness.

      • One can need to predict and it is possible to meet that need successfully, especially if the term is short and the reference frame narrow. Some people nose the future with some accuracy, others calculate and get it right. Most (including me) just can’t. That’s why we have things like engineering and solid wealth: not because you know what’s coming, but because you don’t.

        Should you manufacture more fizzy drinks because it’s summer? Probably. Should you aim to sell more drinks because it will be hot and dry in NSW due to El Nino? Uh oh. Nino isn’t doing his thing like he’s supposed to…and they said he’d be “super” this year (again). Ah well…

        Doesn’t mean that climate indicators are useless or that predictions have to be wrong. Just consistently overrated.

        Of course, the IPCC are wrong not because of the natural limitations of information and intellect but because they are a nasty clutch of deceptive, manipulative, politicking vipers. That’s on their good days.

    • And my wife questions why I am only asking for scotch and cartridges for Christmas.

  14. You did a post criticizing RCP 8.5 but didn’t even mention its insane methane emissions…

    • -1=

      I focused on the core assumptions of RCP8.5, and didn’t look at its emissions forecasts (the essay is already too long). Please tell us about its predictions of methane!

      • You can just compare methane emissions under RCP 8.5 with historical trends.


        Methane emissions have pretty much plateaued, which means that methane will stabilize around 1800 ppb. Yet RCP 8.5 has methane concentrations doubling over the next century for no good reason.

      • Methane emissions have pretty much plateaued

        Perhaps not.

        Rates of forcing from CH4 ticked back up in the last decade or so
        (and rates of N2O continue to accelerate ):

        CO2 may be falling, but total forcing edged back up after a minima around 2000.

        May be agriculture related in the developing world.

        But technology is really changing fast, even for ag.

    • Anthropogenic methane is about 400 MT/Y, natural is about 300 MT/Y About 1/3 of the anthropogenic methane due to fossil fuels or about 19% of the total.

      RCP8.5 has a roughly 120% increase in anthropogenic methane emissions by 2100. That number at first glance looks difficult to justify.

  15. As is endemic worldwide there is in NZ an industry of coastal consultants grinding out what are meant to be best estimates of sea level rise based on the likely effects of cliamte change, and RCP8.5 scenarios has become the standard basis for these.

    I noted on an earlier thread that in New Zealand we have recently had a review of sea level rise and coastal hazards by our Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (someone accountable to the whole Parliament, not just the government of the day).

    They fortunately they have got it referring to “‘Very high greenhouse gas emissions’ scenario (RCP8.5)”. This will reduce the level of business for the coastal consultants in the future, but will get some sanity back into the issue.

  16. This article has been around for a while – the original was in July, and then a run at WUWT (under the restrained headline “Manufacturing nightmares: an example of misusing climate science”). But it never had a point.

    GCM’s are programs that will tell you the consequences of putting GHG’s in the atmosphere. They don’t tell you whether that will happen. To use them, you need a scenario of what you think might happen to GHGs. The CMIP programs are big cooperative efforts whereby people across the wold work for several years to analyse a common set of scenarios. The commonality is needed to make comparisons. Someone needs to choose scenarios that span the range of likely views. That range shouldn’t reflect any particular person’s view. It’s a way of rationally organising a huge effort so that it will be maximally useful.

    So they chose a range, expressed by the numbers 2.6, 4.5, 6.5 and 8.5. The numbers, and the associated sequences of gas concdentrations, are what are actually used. They are what matters. In choosing them, people explain why they think they are appropriate. Estimates of population growth etc. But different peoiple will have different ideas on RCP8.5 as a top end. Some will think it’s right for certain reasons – some will think it is too high to be plausible – others will think more extreme scenarios are likely. RCP stands for Representative Concentration Pathway. Representative of what people may think. And RCP8.5 has a constituency, so it’s in. Even if some of them are Leftists.

    In practice, those rationales don’t matter. What counts for the program are the actual forcing numbers. And what counts for the designers is not the strength of their own rationale, but whether their numbers fit as yet unknown expectations of other people.

    So the complaint here should not be directed at the program. What do you think is the right top end? Instead, it only makes sense as a criticism of what certain people believe about the future. But there it is hopelessly weak on evidence. Who are these people? What do they actually say? Why is what they actually say, wrong?

    • Nick,

      That’s a fun mode of analysis: just ignore what the article says and declare that there is no point. But the rest of your comment is even odded.

      “What counts for the program are the actual forcing numbers.”

      Wow. That is missing the point. What counts for the users of these forecasts is the likelihood of the assumptions (and the resulting forecast). Hence the great emphasis put by the authors of studies and articles that these are “business as usual” forecasts. They would have far less impact on climate scientists, policy decision-makers, journalists, and the public if described as forecasts using worst-case scenarios.

      “And what counts for the designers is not the strength of their own rationale, but whether their numbers fit as yet unknown expectations of other people.”

      Zen and the Art of Climate Science. But bizarre in this context.

      “What do you think is the right top end?”

      That’s not the relevant question, which is what is an accurate “business as usual” scenario.

      “What do they actually say?”

      That’s why people put links in the text. Click on the relevant link above and you will go here, which answers your question:
      http://fabiusmaximus.com/2015/11/05/visions-of-dark-climate-future-90153/

      “Why is what they actually say, wrong?”

      This is an 1800 word essay explaining exactly that. As so often the case, your comments suggest that you have not read the text — just the title and summary, from which you write free-form verse.

      “and then a run at WUWT … “Manufacturing nightmares: an example of misusing climate science”).”

      Wrong again. That post at WUWT was a follow-up to this one. It showed the history of how RCP became described as the “business as usual” scenario, examples of how it was misused as such in the climate science literature and the general media.

      • “What counts for the users of these forecasts is the likelihood of the assumptions (and the resulting forecast).”
        No. The users determine the likelihood, as they see it. That is why alternatives are offerred.

        ‘Hence the great emphasis put by the authors of studies and articles that these are “business as usual” forecasts.’

        Despite all your talk about this, you don’t say who these people are, or what they actually say. We seem to have established that it isn’t the IPCC.

        “That’s why people put links in the text.”
        No, it’s why people put words in their essay. You have put in a lot, and your central point seems to be that some people have said that 8.5 is BAU, and you think that they should not. Who those people are and what they say is central to your case.

      • Nick,

        “Despite all your talk about this, you don’t say”

        First, you are wrong (again). I give as an example one of the first such uses: Keywan Riahi et al in Climate Change, November 2011.

        Second, I gave a link with 1000+ words of examples (with links).

        Third, this has to be among the weakest possible rebuttals. Again, as usual.

      • To take just one example of “what do they actually say” I looked at the first paper in your linked list (Raihi et al), which you cite again here. It does seem to be by some designers, and you quote:
        ” “Compared to the scenario literature RCP8.5 depicts thus a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity.””

        But their paper is titled
        “RCP 8.5—A scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions”
        In the abstract
        “Compared to the total set of Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), RCP8.5 thus corresponds to the pathway with the highest greenhouse gas emissions”
        Introduction
        “As a set, the RCPs cover the range of forcing levels associated with emission scenarios published in the literature. The Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 corresponds to a high greenhouse gas emissions pathway compared to the scenario literature (Fisher et al. 2007; IPCC 2008), and hence also to the upper bound of the RCPs.”

        You quote comes from a para in the main text:
        “This trend reflects the storyline assumption of slow technological change. Energy intensity improvement rates are thus well below historical average (about 1% per year between 1940 and 2000). Compared to the scenario literature RCP8.5 depicts thus a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity (Fig. 4).”

        So they are making clear what “conservative” means. It means, what happens if we don’t keep up apparent current improvement. Well, it’s a possibility. They include the dread words, “business as usual”. Maybe they shopuldn’t have. But they are making the status of RCP8.5 as the top end of the range perfectely clear.

      • You quote comes from a para in the main text:
        “This trend reflects the storyline assumption of slow technological change.

        “Storyline”, yup, that’s the problem with the RCPs. They are fairy tales. The RCP8.5 scenario with continuing fossil fuel consumption increases after peak fossil fuel and a ginormous methane increase for no particular reason is about as likely as a 1 km asteroid impact.

        We should devote as much funding to mitigating the RCP8.5 scenario as we do to 1 km asteroid impacts.

        The engineering societies should grade the RCPs and assign a probability to each.

        This would allow intelligent discussion of future warming trends, and disqualify the high end scenarios as the “business as usual” case. The use of the high end scenarios such as RCP8.5 for the “business as usual” case is like assuming a 1 km asteroid impact in the next 40 years as the default case..

      • “…if described as forecasts using worst-case scenarios.”

        Yes, though over time RCP 8.5 is rapidly becoming not just worst-case but impossible.

        In the same way that population can not be reduced quickly without calamity, neither can an additional 1.5 billion (above the current 2100 prediction) be quickly brought into existence. Similarly, multiplying global coal output requires time. Multiplying coal output eight fold per RCP 8.5 requires a great deal of time and displacement of other resources such as agriculture, that will also soon become impossible without destroying the other assumptions in the scenario.

      • > They include the dread words, “business as usual”. Maybe they shopuldn’t have. But they are making the status of RCP8.5 as the top end of the range perfectely clear.

        Since the Editor recommends NG and that NG refers to 8.5 as one of the BAUs, I duly submit that the Editor’s dread is only fabricated to dramatize his favorite meme. See here:

        http://climatechangenationalforum.org/what-is-business-as-usual/

    • Nick

      Bearing n mind the flexibility, concentration and portability of fossil fuels such as oil and coal, should we not start thinking of them as an invaluable resource rather than an evil commodity that will ruin mankind?

      To this end a very small amount of the money intended for mitigation or intended to go into clean renewables that unfortunately don’t work very well, should we not be setting our considable technical prowess to finding means to decarbonise fossil fuels rather than casting them into the wilderness ?

      Now it matters not that I don’t think co2 is a particular problem as it is not me that makes decisions and at this moment no one seems capable of seeing fossil fuels as undoubtedly the great resource they are.

      Tonyb

      • “finding means to decarbonise fossil fuels”
        Well, you can’t decarbonise them, except maybe by burning. Maybe you mean to capture the CO2. But even if you can, the industry required to deal with it would be comparable to the industry which mined and transported the fuels. And it’s very hard to capture when you are using them in flexible, portable mode.

      • Nick

        No, decarbonise is the correct term. If you disagree, take it up with our scientists and our govt. The uk was a world leader in the process Until they realised that ‘all this green crap’ (our prime ministers description not mine,) was too expensive and didn’t work, so stopped funding It last year.

        However, bearing in mind western commitments to shovel vast amounts of money to those who bizarrely emit more co2 than we are, it seems to me that using a fraction of this money in order to be able to use the good qualities of fossil fuels is a worth while investment. Here is the UK govt report on the subject.

        Tonyb

        https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/65689/7379-decarb-carbon-capture-storage-progress.pdf

      • Tony,
        “No, decarbonise is the correct term.”
        You can decarbonise electricity generation, as in that report. It means to avoid using fossil fuels. You can’t decarbonise the fuels.

      • Nick

        Sorry, but decarbonise is the word they use, although obviously actual CCS is the prime area of research chosen.

        ” CCS is essential in mitigating global climate change while ensuring a secure energy supply. It involves capturing carbon dioxide from fossil fuel power stations (or large industrial sources), transporting it via pipelines and then storing it safely offshore in deep underground structures such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs or deep saline aquifers.

        We have developed one of the most comprehensive programmes in the world to help create a new CCS industry. Through our programme we are:
        •running a competition (with £1 billion capital funding available) to support practical experience in the design, construction and operation of commercial-scale CCS

        •funding a 4-year co-ordinated research, development and innovation programme
        •working with industry to reduce costs of CCS technology, develop the supply chain, create storage and help develop CCS infrastructure

        Find out more about the Next steps in CCS: policy scoping document

        Find out more about how we’re supporting the development of a CCS industry.”

        My point was that the government in its eagerness to get rid of the expensive ‘green crap’ abruptly discontinued the ongoing research programme earlier this year. Bearing in mind the potential usefulness of using fossil fuels due to their versatility this seems to me a backward step. (if you put yourself in the mindset of those fearful of co2)

        Their own chief scientist has advised that renewables are not a viable alternative for a developed economy such as ours with some 60 million consumers.

        What they probably mean is that solar is useless for much of the year, the wind is capricious and both take up vast amounts of land we are in short supply of. We should be looking to ocean renewables such as tides and waves but have not gone far down that route

        tonyb

      • tony b,

        +1 on your two clear replies to Nick’s “You can’t decarbonise the fuels.”

      • “two clear replies to Nick’s”

        No, the replies are muddled. Can you find anyone else referring to decarbonising fossil fuels?

        You can decarbonise electricity generation, say. That means use winds etc. But how do you decarbonise coal?

      • Nick Stokes | December 16, 2015 at 10:05 am |

        You can decarbonise electricity generation, say. That means use winds etc. But how do you decarbonise coal?

        We are currently decarbonizing about 16 GT of fossil fuel per year and are quite good at it.

        We should continue to decarbonize about 15-20 GT of fossil fuel per year until we run out . We can switch to nuclear power as things to decarbonize become scarce. More CO2 in the atmosphere ensures a brighter future and we should continue to make the future brighter.

        We cannot rely on renewable energy. Renewable energy is virtual useless as a power source the solar version produces little power and the wind version produces significant pollution when chopped up and burned as fuel.

      • PA: “We should continue to decarbonize about 15-20 GT of fossil fuel per year until we run out”

        That’s going to be quite a while yet.

        Using the same breakthrough drilling technology that has made available orders of magnitude more oil than was originally available, we can utilise orders of magnitude more coal too via in-situ gasification.

        A billion-pound plan to reach untapped coal reserves under the North Sea will be under way by the end of the year, as the vast scale of the energy source beneath the North Sea is made clear.

        Scientific data of the true extent of the coal deposits on the sea bed reveals that even a tiny percentage of them would be enough to power Britain for centuries to come, says a local expert.

        Dermot Roddy, chief technical officer of energy company Five Quarter which will be leading the much-anticipated extraction work, said there are trillions of tonnes of deeply-buried coal stretching from the North East coast far out to sea: an amount thousands of times greater than all oil and gas extracted so far.

        http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/drilling-date-set-north-seas-6896191

        Then there is ocean bed methane:

        Lots and lots and lots of that, the Japanese for one have completed a successful pilot and are working on full industrial extraction technology.

        That’s just with the technological advances for utilising currently unavailable fossil fuel resources that are already in the pipeline.

        So all in all, it looks to me like we’ve got fossil fuel reserves to keep us going for millennia.

        Of course, long before that we will have invented energy sources that are cleaner, cheaper and more efficient – and that does NOT include the ‘unreliables’ such as solar and wind.

    • Nick you need to watch the pea. RCP8.5 is designed as an upper bound on emission scenarios, for whatever reason its authors refer to it, among other things as “a relatively conservative business as usual case” (they also use the more accurate “A scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions” in title of their paper and as “the upper bound of the RCPs” in the same breath as the BAU comment.

      Over time the BAU description gets picked up without the qualifier, and before you know it we are getting all kinds of projections, claiming to be based on business of usual that are in fact based on the RCP8.5 scenario.

      • HAS, “Over time the BAU description gets picked up without the qualifier, and before you know it we are getting all kinds of projections, claiming to be based on business of usual that are in fact based on the RCP8.5 scenario.”

        From the beginning really. Hansen’s A1F1 “worst case” was business as usual.

      • “we are getting all kinds of projections, claiming to be based on business of usual that are in fact based on the RCP8.5 scenario.”
        Again, not a single example quoted.

        Of course, people say a range of things. Some are convinced that we are doomed. Some say CO2 is just plant food. All the CMIP planners can do is select representative pathways and do their computations. Others will say what they were always going to. Some will learn.

      • Nick, you need to learn to multi-task. Have a look at a couple of my other posts on this thread.

        Did you try searching in Australia? Since you are too busy commenting I thought I’d do it for you. First hit https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/coastalflooding that happily tells us “RCP8.5: this is a “business as usual” trajectory in which atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise through the century. This trajectory will result in global temperatures around 4°C at the end of the 21st century relative to the latter half of the nineteenth century.’

        I trust when you’ve finished here you’ll write to the Climate Council and tell them the error of their ways.

      • HAS, btw, since a1f1 is higher than RCP8.5, “Compared to the scenario literature RCP8.5 depicts thus a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity.” (Riahi et al. 2011) RCP8.5 – See more at: http://climatechangenationalforum.org/what-is-business-as-usual/#sthash.UDDonSSS.dpuf

        That “relatively conservative” BAU has gotten a bit of play.

      • HAS,
        “tell them the error of their ways”
        I see no error. They are comparing two scenarios, 8.5 and 4.5. They characterise them as “business as usual” and “weak mitigation”. They use quotes for BAU, and explicitly say that this is their shorthand. But they aren’t making any specific claims about its likelihood – that’s why they introduce 4.5 as well. That is the intended use of scenarios – to mark out a range. I think plenty of people would argue about whether 4.5 is “weak mitigation” too. But you need a descriptor.

      • “business as usual” and “weak mitigation” don’t sound as bad as
        “silly wild ass guess” and “we have no clue”.

      • turbulent, ““business as usual” and “weak mitigation” don’t sound as bad as
        “silly wild ass guess” and “we have no clue”.

        Pretty much. When you have 4 scenarios and they are all BaU they have not used the term correctly. Then they tend to use the worst case with their meaningless BaU attached without understanding, supposedly, what political impact it has.

      • captdallas,

        “When you have 4 scenarios and they are all BaU they have not used the term correctly. ”

        I have never heard the 3 scenarios — all of which assume mitigation efforts — described as BAU.

        Rather, I think the problem is that there is no BAU among the 4 RCPs.

      • Nick the report introduces two projections. One claims to project what will happen if there is weak mitigation (RCP(4.5)), the other if there is business as usual (RCP(8.5)). BAU is used throughout as synonymous with RCP8.5.

        Why you are bothering us with issues about whether BAU or weak mitigation are likely or not I know not. You do understand the difference between projections and predictions/forecasts?

      • captdallas,

        Good catch! I included that as a cite, but forget about this…

        Nonetheless, from my point of view it seems that RCP6.0 can crudely represent a very likely (95% probability) lower bound on business-as-usual radiative forcing by the year 2100 and RCP8.5 can crudely represent a likely (90% probability) upper bound on business-as-usual radiative forcing by the year 2100.

      • btw, Nielsen-Gammon’s best estimate of “business as usual” in the more common usage is 3.0 C and since BaU tries to void disaster contrary to liberal mythology, I believe that makes him a lukewarmer.

      • thanks capt

        “RCP8.5 was developed to represent a high-end emissions scenario. “Compared to the scenario literature RCP8.5 depicts thus a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity.” (Riahi et al. 2011) RCP8.5 comes in around the 90th percentile of published business-as-usual (or equivalently, baseline) scenarios, so it is higher than most business-as-usual scenarios. (van Vuuren et al. 2011a) – See more at: http://climatechangenationalforum.org/what-is-business-as-usual/#sthash.busWAb7N.dpuf

      • Steven,

        Everybody loves the “conservative b-a-u” quote. That’s the 8th time it appears here — with varying interpretations. I believe this wide ranging discussion has lost the thread, which is illustrated by another quote you give from JNG’s article:

        “RCP8.5 comes in around the 90th percentile of published business-as-usual (or equivalently, baseline) scenarios, s”

        An examination of RCP8.5’s assumptions show they to be quite unlikely, yet large numbers of climate scientists have unquestioningly accepted it as the “BAU” foundation for their forecasts. That doesn’t give me confidence that the other BAU scenarios are accurate. Perhaps they are all biased with too aggressive assumptions (i.e., changes to basic trends).

        And what about the baseline scenarios used for the other RCPs?

        So the statement that it is in the 90th percentile does not, imo, tell us much. More work is needed before these RCPs, and the forecasts based on them, can be used for public policy. Also, that we’re having this discussion in Dec 2015 suggests that some core processes in climate science do not work well.

        That is the big picture, the elephant in the room.

      • HAS,
        “Why you are bothering us with issues about whether BAU or weak mitigation are likely or not I know not. You do understand the difference between projections and predictions/forecasts?”

        It’s this post that is bothering you, not me. And its predecessors under headings like “Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No!”. My constant contention is that the scenarios are not predictions. GCMs connect scenarios with results. and the CMIP planners prepare representative scenarios in accordance with what other people may consider likely. CMIP just provides the connections. Riahi is explicit about this, and about the fact that RCP8.5 is the upper end of a range. So was Nielsen-Gammon cited just above.

      • The information in this paper also reveals several limitations associated with the use of
        the RCPs that need to be kept in mind:
        & The RCPs should not be interpreted as forecasts or absolute bounds, or be seen as
        policy prescriptive. The RCPs describe a set of possible developments in emissions and
        land use, based on consistent scenarios representative of current literature (see Section 2).
        The RCPs should clearly not be interpreted as boundaries for possible developments with
        respect to emissions and land use. Similarly, while the RCPs may be used to identify the
        range of climate impacts associated with different anthropogenic forcing levels, they are
        not meant to be policy prescriptive, (i.e. no likelihood or preference is attached to any of
        the individual scenarios of the set). At the same time, the use of the RCPs in climate
        research may provide important information for decision-making.
        Table 4 Main characteristics of each RCP
        Scenario
        Component
        RCP2.6 RCP4.5 RCP6 RCP8.5
        Greenhouse gas
        emissions
        Very low Medium-low mitigation Medium baseline;
        high mitigation
        High baseline
        Very low baseline
        Agricultural area Medium for cropland
        and pasture
        Very low for both
        cropland and pasture
        Medium for cropland
        but very low for
        pasture (total low)
        Medium for both
        cropland and
        pasture
        Air pollution Medium-Low Medium Medium Medium-high
        26 Climatic Change (2011) 109:5–31
        & The socio-economic scenarios underlying the RCPs cannot be treated as a set with an
        overarching internal logic. The RCPs have not been designed as a new, fully integrated
        set of scenarios; the focus in the development process has been on providing a
        consistent set of projections for components of radiative forcing (emissions and land
        use) by using scenarios available from the literature. The underlying scenarios are
        independent efforts developed by four individual modeling groups; this implies that the
        RCPs do not necessarily form a comprehensive set for elements other than the
        emissions and concentrations of the main greenhouse gases and associated radiative
        forcing. For instance, the RCPs with lower radiative forcing (RCP4.5 and RCP2.6) are
        not derived from those with higher radiative forcing (e.g. RCP6.0 and RCP8.5).
        Differences between the RCPs, therefore, cannot be directly interpreted as a result of
        climate policy or particular socio-economic developments. Differences may very well
        result from differences between models. For instance, in many models it might not be
        possible to reach the lowest stabilization targets from baseline scenarios in which
        emissions are as high as in RCP8.5.
        & The socio-economic scenarios underlying each RCP should not be considered unique.
        Each RCP is based on a scenario from the literature that includes a socio-economic
        development pathway. However, the socio-economic scenario underlying each RCP is
        just one of many possible scenarios that could be consistent with the concentration
        pathway. This implies that additional work is needed to allow some further analysis,
        such as impact assessments on the basis of the RCPs. This work is planned in
        subsequent phases of the scenario development (Moss et al. 2010) and, in fact,
        individual modeling groups are strongly encouraged to reproduce the land-use and
        emission pathways of the RCPs, on the basis of various socio-economic assumptions
        (see also Section 4.2).
        & Certain characteristics of individual RCPs may play a role in interpreting their results.
        Further research is needed to explore sensitivity of results to these characteristics. The
        fact that the RCPs are derived from individual model runs is relevant in interpreting the
        projections for scenario elements that are only indirectly coupled to the radiative forcing
        targets, such as land use/land cover, socio-economic parameters, and, to some degree,
        emissions of short-lived species. The main characteristics of each of the RCPs is
        summarized in Table 4. The logic for the land-use patterns is related to the modelspecific
        assumptions of each RCP and not just to the target radiative forcing level.
        Climate policy may have clear consequences for land-use patterns, but these have been
        included in RCPs in different ways. For instance, the reforestation policies assumed in
        the RCP4.5 might also be possible in RCP2.6. Similarly, the assumed baseline trends in
        land use are not specific to any RCP level. Climate impacts of the land-use patterns
        (such as albedo), therefore, cannot be directly attributed to the level of climate policy in
        each RCP, but need to be traced to model-specific assumptions. Therefore, it may be
        very important to consider how these scenario-specific impacts could be dealt with in
        pattern scaling exercises on the basis of RCP climate modeling results. This, for
        instance, could be explored by specific experiments in which land-use changes are
        switched off. For air pollution emissions (and concentrations), the RCPs at the global
        level are more-or-less ordered along the radiative forcing axis, as could be expected on
        the basis of the co-benefits. However, at the regional level, model-specific assumptions
        may dominate and differences between RCPs are often small. The fact that all
        RCPs assume increasingly stringent air pollution control policies implies that the
        RCPs are not suitable for analysis of possible trends in air pollution under less
        optimistic assumptions.
        Climatic Change (2011) 109:5–31 27
        & There are uncertainties in the translation of emissions profiles to concentrations and
        radiative forcing. We have used several methods for developing consistent sets of
        emissions, concentrations and radiative forcing pathways—in particular using the
        CAM3.5 atmospheric chemistry model and the MAGICC-6 simple carbon-cycle
        climate model. However, there are considerable uncertainties involved. As a result,
        the current set of RCPs represents one possible set of assumptions with regard to this
        translation. As the RCPs are used as input in all major global climate models, some of
        these uncertainties will be revealed as part of the activities that are currently under way.
        Further coordination of uncertainty analyses in subsequent phases by the climate
        modeling community and IAM community may further contribute to this.

      • Mosh, if I decide to publish a paper on how the reference surface temperature is misused and use RCP2.6 as a reference in a nice and glossy multi-colored graphic, would you consider my paper to be politically biased?

        It really doesn’t matter how they are intended to be used, it is how they are used especially in neat attention grabbing graphics for not the so scientifically savvy of the population.

        That was the point of Nielsen-Gammon’s post, feeding overestimates to the politicians.

        “Back in January, fellow CCNF columnist and Texas A&M University colleague Andrew Dessler used the RCP8.5 projections as an estimate of what “unchecked” emissions would do to the climate, in his written testimony to the Senate. I conclude below that this is a slight overestimate, and that (fortunately for us) lack of action probably wouldn’t lead to quite so large an impact. The central estimate I get from what the IPCC uses for business-as-usual emission scenarios and the IPCC uncertainty for climate sensitivity is a rise of 3.0 C over the present century.” – See more at: http://climatechangenationalforum.org/what-is-business-as-usual/#sthash.UDDonSSS.dpuf

      • Nick (some way back in the distant past before some drive-by graffiti artists cut and pasted from a paper already referenced in the original post) the scenarios are projections, a product of their assumptions. The assumptions that go into RCP8.5 are not business as usual (and not even claimed as such by its creator) so any time you see someone claiming a RCP8.5 as BAU tell them they are wrong.

        This extends to projections based on RCP8.5. If someone tells you any of these are likely then by implication they are saying RCP8.5 is likely, and of course it isn’t. It is designed as an upper bound.

        If the scenario doesn’t fit, then don’t wear it.

      • Captain.
        I’m just quoting.
        Of course people misuse things.

      • Steven,

        “Of course people misuse things.”

        Yes, but sound systems are designed to minimize this — especially when the consequences are so large. That’s true in medicine and engineering — but the misuse of RCP8.5 suggests that these mechanisms are not working well in climate science.

        The misrepresentation of RCP8.5 proceeded publication of AR5, and has grown since then as it became the basis for scores of peer-reviewed studies predicting large-scale disasters if we continue as we are (usually explicitly stated to be “business as usual”).

        Where were the climate scientists who designed RCP8.5 and why did they not speak up? Where were the climate scientists who read the papers about RCP8.5, who saw that it was not a BAU scenario — and why did they not speak up?

        Considering the stakes, the attention paid to public policy decisions about climate, i don’t see how this can be blown off as “people misuse things.” Boys will be boys?

      • “I’m just quoting.
        Of course people misuse things.”

        So we have the worlds greatest problem or opportunity depending on perspective and instead of shooting for clear communication we have compiled an apocryphal text of sorts so everyone can read in what they like.

        It isn’t particularly original but it does help build a consensus since everyone thinks they understand what was written.

      • > I included that as a cite, but forget about this…

        This being what contradicts the Editor’s whole narrative.

        Next post, please.

      • Willard (as so often the case) gives a nice demo of why the climate debate has collapsed into a cacophony…

        “This being what contradicts the Editor’s whole narrative.”

        It’s the “single cite” theory.

        Enthusiasts find someone who gives an assertion that they like, and declare “PROOF!” with childlike glee. This contradicts all evidence, and the door of their minds closes ever more tightly.

        That’s quite daft in this case, where I provide ample evidence that the assumptions of RCP8.5 — obvious, large assumptions — contradict the assertions in the climate science literature that this is a business as usual scenario — unless the range considered such is expanded to include unlikely scenarios.

      • > It’s the “single cite” theory.

        That you misread NG is more than a theory, Editor.

        That you misread NG about BAU is not unconsequential to your point.

        One cite is enough to refute the only substantial point you had.

        Should we say that your “casual examination” rests on a zero-cite theory?

        After all, it’s your own casual examination of words against the world.

        All these rookie mistakes just to spin your favorite meme.

        Better luck next time.

    • Nick,

      Has it occured to you that Larry is not commenting on the modelers?

      I see two points he is making:

      1) The assumptions used for RCP 8.5 are highly improbable. Now if that is due to choosing a method that starts with a forcing number and working back, then ok. That is understandable, to a point. The point being where you recognize that 8.5 is only achievable if more than one unlikely scenarios play out. That is where a reasonable person asks the question “Shouldn’t we pick a lower number as the possible high end scenario?”

      2) The other point is that others (again, we are not talking about the modelers, but the people who take their output and run with it to force policies) regularly use 8.5 as if it is either the business as usual scenario or at the very least a scenario with a realistic probability of happening. That is plain dishonest.

      Instead of coming to the defense of people who are not being challenged, how about acknowledging that RCP 8.5 is nothing more than an extremely unlikely worse case scenario and that anyone pushing for policy based on it can be safely ignored?

      • Tim,
        excellent post. RCP8.5 lives because it’s the only way to justify truly bad energy policy.
        But it also provides room for ego stroking. Any temperature growth that is less that RCP 8.5 will be credited to politicians (and since RCP 8.5 is impossibly high the politicians are guaranteed will have “succeeded” in saving the planet even if they have no impact on emissions at all.) Politicians love to place the ball on the one yard line and congratulate themselves for their touchdown.
        Finally, there is a case where RCP8.5 is realistic- the end of capitalism scenario. 20th century history shows us that where capitalism ends, energy production becomes extraordinarily filthy- part of the problem with Kyoto was that Europe got a pass simply by cleaning up old eastern European plants built under communist rule. Africa and Asia, abandoned or suborned into never ending civil war like the 60s 70s and 80s, will have very high birthrates just as a survival mechanism. RCP8.5 is what you’ll get if Naomi Klein gets her way (which is cool because she wasn’t really interested in global warming anyway.)

      • timg,
        “The assumptions used for RCP 8.5 are highly improbable.”
        No, he doesn’t say that, at least not consistently. He says:
        “Even a casual examination of this shows it to be a useful worst-case scenario”
        But the thing is, you can’t apply a probability to scenarios. They depend on humn decision making – politics. The author makes much of the scenario being nightmarish. But that doesn’t make it improbable. What analysis with scenarios does is it says – if you do this, then this is what will happen. You may say that people would be too sensible to allow that to happen. Observing the current Republican candidates does not convince me of that. But anyway, someone needs to set it out in order that it may be avoided. That is the point of its place in the range of scenarios.

        “The other point is that others (again, we are not talking about the modelers, but the people who take their output and run with it to force policies) regularly use 8.5 as if it is either the business as usual scenario or at the very least a scenario with a realistic probability of happening. That is plain dishonest.”
        And the point I am making is that we are not told who these people are, or what exactly they say. At least not in the top post, and there has been precious little that is convincing since. Of course, on the internet you can find anything said. But without that information at all, the argument is empty.

        The whole point of the scenario range is to try to quantify the outcome of various scenarios that people have in their minds. You may think some people’s view is pessimistic, but that doesn’t mean that the consequences should be suppressed.

      • Nick Stokes, “But the thing is, you can’t apply a probability to scenarios. They depend on humn decision making – politics. The author makes much of the scenario being nightmarish. But that doesn’t make it improbable.”

        I think you might be a witch, I cannot assign a probability to it, but it would be nightmarish to have witches in the scientific community. Just to error on the side of caution, perhaps we need some witch trials?

        It is useful to know that you might be a witch. Or would you like me to “prove” it?

      • captdallas,

        Nicely said. It’s useful to realize that Nick Stokes is an intelligent and knowledgeable guy. I assume he writes these absurd things — obviously false and illogical things — as a climate warrior.

        Unfortunately experience shows discussion with him is a waste of time. Rebuttals, not matter how firmly rooted in fact or logic, are disregarded as he just manufactures another (often even odder) objection. He probably can keep this up until the weather eventually decides the climate debate.

        Still, this is sophistry, even for Nick: “But the thing is, you can’t apply a probability to scenarios They depend on humn decision making – politics.”

        First, many of the assumptions of RCP8.5 do not depend on politics, but on reversal of long-standing trends in population and technology. Since those are the major basis for my case, Stokes’ mention of politics is odd.

        Second, we cannot calculate an probability about a given political outcome, but can determine if it is probable or improbable. Canada’s decision to invade America in 2020 is a political one, with a non-zero probability (mass insanity, drugs?). But it is improbable.

      • It’s useful to realize that Fabius is an intelligent and knowledgeable guy. I assume he writes these absurd things — obviously false and illogical things — as a climate delayer.

        Just sayin’

      • ” Canada’s decision to invade America in 2020 is a political one, with a non-zero probability (mass insanity, drugs?).”
        Cruz is just the advance guard.

      • Surprised to see this hare is still being kept running, but …

        Nick: “But the thing is, you can’t apply a probability to scenarios.”

        Of course you can. If the assumptions are unlikely to occur then ipso facto the results of the scenario/the projection based on them are unlikely to occur unless some other factor not included in the scenario comes into play.

        Temps and sea level rise projections based on RCP8.5 are unlikely because the assumptions that go into RCP8.5 are unlikely (above the 75% level for the scenario literature).

      • HAS,
        “Of course you can. If the assumptions are unlikely to occur”
        But you can’t tell that. What do you think the probability of, say, RCP2.6 is?

        Those who try to quantify, like you (” 75% level for the scenario literature”), quantify it in terms of what other people are saying. And that is the right thing to do. CMIP is trying to calculate numbers that will help in the debate. But that 75% is not a probability that the scenario will happen.

      • Nick,

        Canada already invaded the US. It was documented on South Park.

        I understand the part about developing different scenarios. I also understand about having scenarios with low probability in order to see what the high end of any potential threat is. What I have a problem with is when those low probability scenarios become the primary basis for action. I’ll accept that for scientists studying anthropogenic impacts to climate, the RCP’s have value. But that wouldn’t prevent me from speaking up when I see someone misusing them.

        I happen to believe in the right to self defense. Doesn’t mean I’d stand there and watch someone hand a loaded gun to a child. And my takeaway from Larry’s post is this is exactly what some peole have done with RCP 8.5.

      • timg,
        I don’t know why this causes such problems. Most of applied science is about scenarios. Climate scientists didn’t invent them.

        What if you drop a cannonball from the tower of Pisa? Science can tell you. That’s a scenario. But it can’t tell you the probability that you will drop one. You could say that given the short supply now of cannonballs and concern with safety, the scenario is unlikely. But that doesn’t mean I have to berate everyone who wants to think about it. Maybe they know something I don’t.

      • Again surprised that this thread still has life but …

        Nick says we don’t know if a scenario is likely or not.

        Either Nick is redefining the word “know” or the word “likely” or possibly both.

  17. Useful article, regardless of what ATTP and Nick Stokes are saying. Some of us didn’t know that 8.5 is an unlikely scenario – which the arguers here don’t seem to be arguing against. So that’s good to know.
    And claiming that this is just a “political” point: well, yes. An important political point, and one that some politicians are abusing. They should stop. From now on we should all call it a “worst-case scenario”, and that will help us make better decisions.

    • milker,

      “Some of us didn’t know that 8.5 is an unlikely scenario”

      From my conversations with scientists and journalists, almost nobody knows. Their reactions to this information tell us much — as seen in this thread.

      • Fabius,

        From my conversations with scientists and journalists, almost nobody knows.

        I doubt this is true. I suspect that you’re misrepresenting their understanding.

        Their reactions to this information tell us much — as seen in this thread.

        Really, I suspect that it is indeed unlikely that we will follow an RCP8.5 pathway for a number of reasons. We’re not that stupid and we will probably find suitable alternatives. That, however, is not an argument against highlighting what might happen if we did.

        Again, I think you’re misrepresenting the issue. People who highlight RCP8.5, and the potential impacts of following such a concentration pathway, are doing so because even if it is unlikely, they’d really rather we ensured that we didn’t follow it, than simply leaving it to chance.

        I would also suggest that you read Nick’s comment again. He makes all the key points. These really are concentration pathways that are used to try and understand the possible impacts of following these various different pathways. They are then associated with future emission pathways which are associated with various socio-economic futures. Of course, some of them may not come to pass and people will disagree about what is realistic and what isn’t. However, that doesn’t change that the RCPs are intended to inform decision making and that the different pathways provide a range from what is now possibly unrealistically low, to possibly unrealistically high.

      • It makes me feel so useless. I criticize RCP8.5 once a day. Gave been doing it since I saw the AR5 bootleg in 2013.

    • “From now on we should all call it a “worst-case scenario”, and that will help us make better decisions.”

      Nah. If you are a true believe of the church of climate change alarmism, then the best decision is to stop emitting CO2 as soon as possible regardless of the economic cost. Therefore, spreading misinformation to increase the chances that policy makers pass laws to stop emitting CO2 as soon as possible is justified. Making unrealistic emission scenarios like RCP 8.5 and calling them ‘business as usual’ is a great way to mislead the public… for the greater good of course.

    • miker –

      ==> ” An important political point, and one that some politicians are abusing.”

      Hmmm. What % of the public do you suppose have ever heard of RCP 8.5? What percentage of politicians have ever heard of it? What % of politicians are using it, in any way, to achieve political goals.

      This is an arcane debate that only exists in an outlier community of climate combatants. Do you really think that some folks calling RCP 8.5 rather than “worst case scenario” are having some meaningful impact on which decisions are getting made? I’d say that those who are over-estimating the impact are having just as much effect on decision-making as those who are calling it RCP 8.5 rather than “worst-case-scenario.” Which ain’t much at all, actually.

      The kerfuffle is another example of people trying to generalize from unrepresentative sampling.

  18. This would really be an interesting discussion if it wasn’t about what the GCMs say will happen under different scenarios including Fabius’ description of worst case.

    Given how wrong the GCMs appear to be, I don’t think I really care what they tell us. The fact that warmunists take the GCMs at face value and want to enact policies that are economy wrecking is the real problem.

    • Mark,

      “Fabius’ description of worst case. ”

      Just to be clear (these threads go wild once such things are introduced), RCP8.5 is not “my” description of the worst case. I have given no such description.

      • Fair enough, but given the inadequacies of the GCMs, why should we care what they tell us about RCP8.5 or any other scenario for that matter?

      • Mark, because the climate lobby does use those climate models, and stands by them.

        The next step in this battle will be more senate hearings as the cop21 is brought in by its sponsor, president Obama. The hearings need to have groundwork. And this includes a serious effort to understand the IPCC AND EPA cost to benefit analysis(the EPA work uses an RCP8.5 plus approach). The cost analysis will have been done using rcp8.5 as the reference. This means that if rcp8.5 can be shown to be poppycock then the whole edifice falls apart.

        Most of you are smarter than me, if you think about this as a chess game the rcp8.5 is like a very exposed queen ready to be taken.

      • fernandoleanme

        Excellent point!!! +++

      • “Fair enough, but given the inadequacies of the GCMs, why should we care what they tell us about RCP8.5 or any other scenario for that matter?”

        Its pretty simple.
        If a GCM overestimates the warming, and if 8.5W results in say ‘X’ amount of warming, then you can assume that we wont see “X” amount of warming.

      • Well, given that the trend in estimates of sensitivity are headed toward zero, looks like just waiting a while will make global warming go away, regardless of the CO2!

      • Here’s a sharper picture:

        By 2020 it will be well under 1 deg C, likely close to zero. It should have been obvious in the first place…

      • fernando,

        There will be no Senate hearings on COP21, that was the whole point about ensuring it was non-binding. There will be no groundwork and there will be no serious effort to understand diddley squat. Didn’t you watch the hearings last week. It’s all theater. Give me a break, EPA cost/benefit analyses are total BS.

        We need to stop wasting the time of the real scientists like Curry, Christy and Happer and stop throwing good money after bad.

        Join the uprising and enlist in the effort to throw out the green blob climatariat, the rent seekers and the blood sucking bureaucrats of the UN. Contact Generalissimo Mosomoso for your commission. While you’re at it buy a coffee mug or a tee shirt or a book from Mark Steyn so that he can continue his super human battle for free speech in America and against the tyranny of the climatariat.

      • Turbulent Eddie,

        Is that chart “Published Measurement so Climate Sensitivity to CO2 doubling” from an authoritative source? Is it complete or is it cherry picked publications? Can you post the link to where it appeared in an authoritative source

  19. Much ado about nothing! None of these RCPs are likely. First, anthropogenic emissions cause very little change (if significant at all) in atmospheric concentrations. Second, even if they did, concentrations don’t produce significant “forcings”. And even if they did, they’re overwhelmed by natural factors.

  20. The Editor is sadly right about this. The issue is so politicized, language is slanted by people to try to get their point across. An example is provided by the latest Schmidt graph of models vs. TMT temperatures. ATTP has provided a post showing it, while ignoring the main feature of the graph, namely that the overall rate of warming is very different between the two. It is supposed I think to represent some kind of counter to the widely shown Christy graph. Schmidt conveniently hides the individual model runs and shows just the envelope of them so one cannot tell if any model actually shows the same low rate of increase as the data. But ATTP being anxious to advocate for action, is entirely UNskeptical about it.

    The Editor is also right that the almost 30 year climate action campaign has shown only very modest successes but this paucity of results has not kept activists like ATTP from doubling down by continuing to believe that debunking of skeptical arguments using half truths will change anything. As a wag said of the French between the World Wars, they learned nothing and forgot nothing. Green activists are actually worse in that they are self-righteous about their errors and misrepresentations. A far better strategy would be to argue for better science and data to narrow the range of uncertainty that has not changed (according to the IPCC) in 35 years.

    • I shall repeat what I’ve pointed out before. The last time we interacted the only person who promoted something that was definitively untrue was you. Given this, I should probably ignore your comment, but I’ll point it out for the benefit of others.

      This is also not true.

      ATTP has provided a post showing it, while ignoring the main feature of the graph, namely that the overall rate of warming is very different between the two.

      The envelope represents the range of warming that models suggest could be possible (with 95% confidence). The observations in principle represent reality (and even this is not necessarily true, since they too have uncertainties). You cannot simply compare the model mean with the observations, and claim that the rates are very different. This is trivial, basic science. If you can’t even get this right, why would anyone take anything else you say seriously? Also, these models have not been rerun with the updated forcings, which would probably bring them into closer agreement.

      • ATTP, You are arguing with a straw man again. What I said was that individual models were invisible in this plot, so it is impossible to access the individual model RATE of increase vs. the data on an individual model basis. It is clear from the chart that the data and the model mean have quite different rates of increase. If there is an individual model that agreed with the data, that is impossible to determine.

        Reading what I said might help you respond meaningfully. The last time we interacted, you simply ignored the main facts and insisted on focusing on a superficial and not very meaningful one, thus showing that you are one of those who needs to think about the Editor’s criticism, which is very apt in your case.

      • DY,
        I quoted you directly. However, given how you were completely unwilling to acknowledge how you had said something untrue last time, I will leave it at that.

      • “The envelope represents the range of warming that models suggest could be possible (with 95% confidence). The observations in principle represent reality (and even this is not necessarily true, since they too have uncertainties).”

        That’s not how you would perform a hypothesis test to determine if the model agrees with observations or not. The 95% CI is for an observation for a single year, but you have multiple years of observation. If you are consistently at the low end of the 95% CI then having those observations can allow you to reject the model at the 95% confidence level. Alternatively, even if you have a few observations outside of the 95% CI, that does not mean that you can reject the model at the 95% CI since it is expected that you would have roughly 5% of years fall outside of the CI. What you need to do is look at the trend implied by the observations and see if it differs from the trend implied by the model at the 95% confidence level (while accounting for the fact that there is autocorrelation in observations). I did this using Cowtan and Way data from 2006-2014 and got a p-value of like 7% for CMIP5 predictions. Not quite outside the 95% confidence level, but pretty close; just needs a few more years.

        A better question is why does it make sense to rely on models that do not have free parameters in them that allow them to agree with observations.

      • You are having a rough day, kenny. It’s cocktail time (somewhere). Why don’t you have some stiff drinks in celebration of the success of the World Saving 1.5C Soiree in Paree. You don’t have to fret over this climate stuff anymore. Go back to your star gazing. We won’t miss you.

      • Don

        It’s very liberating to now that the world has been saved. It meant I had the time to attend th RNLI carol service in our local church. The very one where public subscription helped to repatriate some of the local Christian slaves snatched by the Muslim pirates of Barbary .

        The slave trade was put to an end by our very own admiral pellew in 1824 who smashed the pirates lair at Algiers. Curiously the same Year that the royal socety expeditions were investigating the sudden melting of the arctic reported a decade earlier by whalers from our port.

        So now we know the world has been saved from modern day climate change we can concentrate on just what caused previous periods of climate change, which probably didn’t happen did they?

        Tonyb

      • Ken Rice, You quoted out of context and are ignoring the main point. Quite in character for you. The important point which you did not deal with again (as if ignoring an obvious point makes it go away) is that the trends between the model mean and the data are quite different rather reinforcing Christy’s point. Gavin should have shown all the individual model curve though and explained how his chart differed from Christy’s. As a well known activist, you simply ran with it without providing any detail or careful thought. This does not help advance science or policy and just confirms people’s idea that this issue is highly politicized.

      • Tony, we are laughing because we are doubtful that the drastic mitigation schemes the alarmists desperately desire are necessary. So we are happy, or at least ambivalent, over the obvious failure of the Soiree d’ Paree. But it’s only funny if we are right and they are wrong.

        What the phony declaration of victory clearly tells us is that the climate alarmism movement is run by self-serving politicians, not altruistic scientists. Dr. Hansen is telling the truth about COP21. Any scientist who pretends this is meaningful mitigation is a sell out.

        If CO2 is really a danger, the world would have been better off if they had admitted failure. They have given the folks a reason for complacency. It’s going to be really hard for them to gen up any sense of urgency for real mitigation, for at least a decade.

        Maybe they will start juggling the data to produce warming in the past and cooling in the present to cover their little dishonest buttocks. See, it’s working!

  21. Pingback: The good news undercutting most forecasts of a climate disaster | Fabius Maximus website

  22. It does appear that Representative Concentration Pathways are just more Warmist pseudo-science, peculiar to Climatologists and their gullible followers.

    They refer to non existent radiative forcing, apparently based on the magical ability of objects to create energy out of nothing, when surrounded by CO2. What a load of cobblers!

    If you want to warm something, you need to supply energy at a greater rate than is being lost. Warming and cooling are demonstrations of energy imbalance – no “equilibrium” or other similar stupidity to be seen! Warmists have no understanding of the role of CO2 in our continued survival, and seem to believe that coal, even though completely organic, is “evil” because it is black! Just listen to Death Trains Hansen, and the rest of the delusional crew.

    I suppose that as long as Warmists come up with sciencey nonsense such as Representative Concentration Pathway Scenarios, and there are enough worshippers shouting Hallelujah, we are in for some interesting times.

    They haven’t got the guts to say prediction or forecast. Oh no, it’s just a scenario, given with no warranty or after sales service. They’re laughing all the way to the bank.

    CO2 good. Climate change – always was, always will be. Day warmer than night, summer warmer than winter. Earth used to be very hot, now not so hot.

    No sciencey RCPs needed.

    Cheers.

  23. Pingback: A closer look at scenario RCP8.5 | Climate Etc. | sanandamelchizedek

  24. Nick, ATTP, the point of this post is not whether there is a valid use for RCP8.5 or whether it is labeled correctly by scientists. Its whether it routinely gets misused by advocates, scientists or not. Here is a Yahoo News article giving the public a timely primer on climate change two days ago. http://news.yahoo.com/global-warming-051556794.html

    Within the article:

    The UN’s climate science body has predicted that without reducing emissions, global temperatures would likely rise 3.7-4.8C by 2100.

    My question is if the AR5 gets these temperatures from a model ensemble mean using RCP8.5 ? Do those realizations (runs) assume no volcanic eruptions? Do these models, even without cooling volcanic events, show skill as low as 7% confidence, as an above comment asserts?

    If any or all of the answers are “yes” then the public, press and political leaders are guiding policy on false assumptions they believe are the result of unbiased science, rather than likely biased science that is further exaggerated intentionally for motives that are somehow personally justified.

    • Before the IPCC’s climate representatives weigh in I assert the articles quoted wording “without reducing emissions” means business as usual, which means reasonable alternative energy development and efficiency gains without economic penalties or carbon taxation.

      • To go ahead and answer my own questions, the first one is yes. Wikipedia puts the RCP8.5 temperature anomaly at 2100 to be 2.6C to 4.8C, with best estimate of 3.7C. The mass consumption article took the liberty of erasing the low end and replacing it with the median to create it’s own range. Who’d complain? Right? (Everyone wants to get into the act of helping the planet.)

        The IPCC models on volcanoes, according to Ed Hawkins, contributing Author to both IPCC AR5 WG1 & WG2:

        Volcanoes are prescribed to occur at the observed time in simulations of the past and there are no volcanic eruptions in future simulations.

        So they cool projections down after volcanoes occurs, leaving a pessimistically warm future perpetually forecast.

        The last question everyone already knows the answer to. Yes, the models are that far off. Does anyone know how far off UAH and RSS they are? And Radiosondes?

        This is all really a skeptic needs to know to make an informed opinion of what is going on, in my opinion. All skews are in one direction.

      • Ron
        You have hit the take away from the post. Climate science is the science that thrives on exaggeration. All parties are incented to focus on the worst case scenario. The media sell papers and get eyeballs by focusing on the most disastrous outcomes. Leftist politicians get votes from their base who live to be scared. When was the last time any consensus scientist wrote an op-ed correcting an exaggerated story in the NYT?

        Once again science has become just an afterthought.

      • ” Climate science is the science that thrives on exaggeration.”

        Yes, Exactly. Climate science is a science of exaggeration. What is the phenomena from the Whisper down the lane game where each person in a circle repeats the story that they heard in the next one’s ear? With so many compartmentalized contributors to the IPCC process, each wanting to “do their part” one wonders if there is any science at all left.

        I ask, if NASA could create a satellite that could record the GMST within 0.001C would many of the career climate science professionals want it?

      • Since physics indicates the the GMST should be higher than the current observations, yes, they would want that.

      • JCH, I am glad you think the activists would want that, and I assume that means that your would too. But do you really believe ATTP and Nick would want that? It would make BEST second best (at best). How would Stephen Mosher feel about this? Are you so certain that UAH, RSS and radiosondes are conspiring to be measuring too low?

      • On UAH and RSS, yes, I think it is very likely that are messed-up junk when it comes to 2 meters above the surface of land and the SST.

        aTTP is a physicist. Nick is a retired scientist. How could they not want it?

      • Why do we care about temp 2m above surface? Don’t we want to know first and foremost radiative forcing and energy flux at the top of the atmosphere?

        If Nick, Ken and Steve want a high precision satellite I would love to hear it from them. Maybe we can start a petition with common ground.

      • Ron,

        “Why do we care about temp 2m above surface? ”

        We want to know the temperature at various altitudes in the troposphere and stratosphere for the same reason as we want to know that in the upper and lower ocean depths: to understand the state and workings of the entire Earth system. It can’t be fully understood by looking only at a few parts.

        There are papers working to reconcile the data from surface and satellite instruments, among the many other issues under study in climate science today. For example (random paper off the top of my pile) “Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change” by David H. Douglass & John R. Christy, E&E, June 2013.

        http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~douglass/papers/07-Douglass-Christy-EnE-2.pdf

      • JCH | December 14, 2015 at 10:49 am |
        On UAH and RSS, yes, I think it is very likely that are messed-up junk when it comes to 2 meters above the surface of land and the SST.

        aTTP is a physicist. Nick is a retired scientist. How could they not want it?

        Huh?

        The UAH TLT product (and presumably the RSS product) have a maximum around 3500 meters from the ground (650 HPA).

        Surface measurements are 2 meters from the ground. The surface layer extends up about 450 meters.

        The UAH isn’t the surface temperature trend, it is the lower troposphere trend. UAH uses the radiosondes for calibration. Radiosondes are not mounted on a two meter stick to collect data.

      • Professor Curry,

        Why is this Douglas-Christy paper in E&E rather than a higher-impact journal? Not my field, but the topic is of great importance and the work looks good (so far as I can tell, which isn’t much).

        Also, there seems to be little in the current climate science literature attempting to reconcile the instrument temperature data from lower troposphere data with that from the surface. Seems odd, since that is relevant not only to the large debate in the p-r literature about causes of the “pause”, but also to validation of the output of the current climate models.

      • Eddie,

        Another paper attempting to reconcile the temperature data from lower troposphere and surface datasets:

        Removing Diurnal Cycle Contamination in Satellite-Derived Tropospheric Temperatures: Understanding Tropical Tropospheric Trend Discrepancies” by Stephen Po-Chedley et al, Journal of Climate, March 2015. Ungated copy here. Abstract:

        Independent research teams have constructed long-term tropical time series of the temperature of the middle troposphere (TMT) using satellite Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) and Advanced MSU (AMSU) measurements. Despite careful efforts to homogenize the MSU/AMSU measurements, tropical TMT trends beginning in 1979 disagree by more than a factor of 3. Previous studies suggest that the discrepancy in tropical TMT trends is caused by differences in both the NOAA-9 warm target factor and diurnal drift corrections. … Large differences in tropical TMT trends between this work and that of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) are attributed to differences in the treatment of the NOAA-9 target factor and the diurnal cycle correction.

    • Ron,

      But do you really believe ATTP and Nick would want that?

      I’m not entirely sure what I meant to want, but if it is a better understanding of our climate and how it responds to changes, then sure, I’d want that.

      Its whether it routinely gets misused by advocates, scientists or not.

      Yes, I do get the point of the article. My point is that it’s largely irrelevant. There is information in the different projections. If people really wanted to have a serious discussion, they could focus on that, rather than on whether or not some people are describing it using words you disagree with. Whining about activists is – IMO – itself a form of activism. Making things up about what other people supposedly think is also a form of activism, and a particularly dishonest form.

      • attp, “Making things up about what other people supposedly think is also a form of activism, and a particularly dishonest form.”

        Couldn’t agree more. when VTG uses the RCP8.5 I mention that I believe it is unrealistic then ask him what his estimate of likely impact is. Since he won’t honestly answer I don’t really care to see him scribbling tripe.

        So which of the 4 business as usual RCP versions do you think is more “business as usual”?

      • “I’m not entirely sure what I meant to want, but if it is a better understanding of our climate and how it responds to changes, then sure, I’d want that.”>

        Does this mean if we started a petition for NASA or ESA to create a satellite that could measure the upper and lower troposphere, from equator to poles, with 0.001C accuracy, you are a signer?

        Most of the public assume that is how we are getting the data now. I, and I’m sure a lot of others, were surprised to learn that the primary data used for GMST was the same instrument that we use on our oven meat.

        “Yes, I do get the point of the article. My point is that it’s largely irrelevant.”

        The public is being misinformed but you say that mass media articles are not important, interesting.

        “Making things up about what other people supposedly think is also a form of activism, and a particularly dishonest form.”

        I am glad you are straightening me out.

      • I wonder if there is any other “science” that uses “business as usual’ as a loosely defined metric. Do they have that crap in astrophysics, kenny?

      • Ron,

        Does this mean if we started a petition for NASA or ESA to create a satellite that could measure the upper and lower troposphere, from equator to poles, with 0.001C accuracy, you are a signer?

        I have no objection to that being proposed, but decisions as to what scientific tool we should spend our money on shouldn’t – IMO – be decided by petitions.

        The public is being misinformed but you say that mass media articles are not important, interesting.

        Hmmm, now you’re misrepresenting me. Was that intentional? I also don’t think the public is quite as stupid as you seem to think. I get the impression that many can get the concept of “if we do this, the following might happen, maybe we shouldn’t do this”, even if you and Fabius struggle with this basic concept.

      • Don,

        “I wonder if there is any other “science” that uses “business as usual’ as a loosely defined metric.”

        I would like to know that as well, at least from among the physical sciences. The social sciences are notoriously loose in their terms.

        For example, economics. Inflation has a precise meaning, which is routinely ignored — even in the peer-reviewed literature. Worse, economists often make statements without specifying the time horizon it applies to. Even in textbooks, to students confusion.

        Example from my son’s Econ 101 text: “A rent price ceiling benefits nobody.” While that’s true over a long time horizon (at “equilibrium”), it is very false over the short term.

        Everybody has physics envy, but is unwilling to accept the necessary discipline.

      • I would like to know that as well, at least from among the physical sciences. The social sciences are notoriously loose in their terms.

        Well, in the physical sciences there are of course terms that are well defined, and others that are less well-defined. If someone uses some terminology that is unclear, the norm is to ask them what they mean by that terminology, not to start complaining about them being misleading and being an activist. Each to their own, though.

      • ATTP,

        “not to start complaining about them being misleading”

        Comments by you and Nick Stokes often misrepresent what I write. Here you provide a clear example.

        This essay shows that RCP8.5 is not a business as usual scenario, and suggests remedies. it does not “complain” about it, except in the sense that any refutation does so.

      • Stop whining, kenny.

      • Fabius,

        Comments by you and Nick Stokes often misrepresent what I write. Here you provide a clear example.

        This really is rich coming from you. You still haven’t answered my question as to whether or not you mind me calling you a climate science denier?

        This essay shows that RCP8.5 is not a business as usual scenario, and suggests remedies. it does not “complain” about it, except in the sense that any refutation does so.

        Sorry, you’re not “complaining” about it’s use, just pointing out that it’s wrong to use it? Do you actually read what you write before posting it? Doesn’t seem like it.

        I’ll elaborate on my point since you’re clearly deciding not to concentrate again. Even if someone might disagree with the use of some terms, if they understood what the other person meant when they used it, they would probably simply accept it as intended, rather than going on and on and on and on and on about the other person using some terminology that they think isn’t appropriate. Now feel free to go ahead and misunderstand this too.

      • Ken,

        I don’t want to call you names or make representations about your intentions.

        I see you agree that the RCP8.5 is not business as usual.
        Can I assume you agree that the article in Yahoo News giving the public a first lesson on climate science should not have used the RCP8.5 as a representation of business as usual?

        Can I assume you agree they should not have revised up the published temperature range forecast for RCP8.5 for 2100?

        Do you feel both these errors were coincidental and innocent? Do they happen all the time? Are they important? Does proper communication to lay people, including policy makers, matter?

        Are you on board to sign a letter to the editor, including you credentials, to correct the wrong factual information published three days ago on Yahoo? The may call you a denier but wouldn’t be the right thing to do?

        I remember Michael Mann’s defense in the peer inquiry of MBH98 that many people knew. The divergence problem of MXD proxy and contamination of Bristlecone proxy was not secret among authors (those who mattered). So he did nothing underhanded.

        I am glad to know that you would support the petition. It’s a start.
        How about a petition to include volcanic events in the CMIP5 forecasts? Hansen was willing to do it in scenario B and C, all but the implausible worst case A. Why shouldn’t the CMIP5 be based on best statistical forecast?

      • Here’s the RCP85 scenario annualized ten year trends versus observation.
        Remember they just unveiled RCPs about a decade ago.
        Never the less, there is already divergence in that time:

        Seems to me the longer term trend indicates a concave down shape.

        Others will not doubt exclaim, ‘good thing we saved the planet.’

      • Eddie,

        See not clear size or nature of the model-actual temperature gap. See “Reconciling warming trends” by Gavin A. Schmidt et al, Nature Geoscience, March 2014. Ungated copy here. Abstract:

        “Climate models projected stronger warming over the past 15 years than has been seen in observations. Conspiring factors of errors in volcanic and solar inputs, representations of aerosols, and El Niño evolution, may explain most of the discrepancy.”

      • kenny whimpers:”Even if someone might disagree with the use of some terms, if they understood what the other person meant when they used it, they would probably simply accept it as intended, rather than going on and on and on and on and on about the other person using some terminology that they think isn’t appropriate.”

        You better get willy to do some extensive editing for you, kenny.

      • Don,

        Just ignore it. This essay is a simple case of matching statements with facts. Rebuttals could discuss either. Instead ATTP is playing word games, in effect tossing chaff into the air.

        IMO there are useful comments here that deserve discussion, rather than letting the thread get sidetracked by nonsense.

      • Fabius,

        This essay is a simple case of matching statements with facts.

        Facts about the future. Brilliant.

        Rebuttals could discuss either. Instead ATTP is playing word games, in effect tossing chaff into the air.

        Or, just throwing this out there, you could actually give it some thought. I’m not trying to or intending to play word games. That you would respond in this way is rather typical, though. You could also answer my question as to whether or not you’d mind if I called you a climate science denier.

      • ATTP:

        “You could also answer my question as to whether or not you’d mind if I called you a climate science denier.”

        ATTP, why don’t you answer my questions about issues relevant to the post rather than the standard deflections into nonsense?

      • Still whining about being called an activist, kenny. We are all activists here. Nothing pejorative in the word activist. If it will make you feel better, I give you permission to call me a climate science denier.

        I will help you, kenny. Watch this:

        Fabius, you are a climate science denier!

        Now watch him get mad and sulk like a big baby, kenny. Or maybe he knows who he is and doesn’t give a squat what he is called.

      • Don, I’m trying to build a bridge here. Ken is about to come over. I can feel it.

      • > The social sciences are notoriously loose in their terms. […] Everybody has physics envy, but is unwilling to accept the necessary discipline.

        Since mathematics is the worst terminological smorgasbord known to mankind, chances are that the discipline the Editor requires is quite unnecessary in humans’ theorical affairs.

      • Willard,

        ” are that the discipline the Editor requires is quite unnecessary in humans’ theorical affairs.”

        “unnecessary”?That’s a big too grand of a judgement for my pay grade.

        But back on Earth, the sloppiness in economist’s use of definitions causes serious problems in economics, often reducing debates to Tower of Babel-like incoherence. That is unfortunate given the large role of economics in public policy. It contributes to dysfunctional decision-making, such the US sub-par response to the 2008 collapse — and the EU’s horrifically bad response to the ongoing crisis that began with Greece in 2010. Better use of current knowledge might have produced better outcomes.

      • OK, kenny’s little assistant chaffer has reared his pointy little head. Hi, willy!

      • Ron,

        ATTP, why don’t you answer my questions about issues relevant to the post rather than the standard deflections into nonsense?

        I can’t help it if Fabius only wants to talk with people who agree with him, and wants to label anyone who doesn’t. I’ve also rather lost track of what questions you’ve asked that are relevant.

      • Ron,

        RE your trying to build a bridge.

        Ok, so long as you are aware that Ken will only hide under it.

      • > That’s a big too grand of a judgement for my pay grade.

        Yet the Editor’s pay grade is big enough to classify economics as a social science to help him pontificate on linguistic practices he clearly never studied, and to offer his unsollicited advice that goes against how lichurchurs develop.

        While there is merit in the idea that scientists ought to clarify their terminology, there’s nothing special about the sloppiness of social scientists in general or economists in particular. Everyone’s quite sloppy, but what’s being written’s already clear enough for the target audience, of whom he’s not.

      • Willard, seeing as you have known ATTP for years and are his trusted surrogate moderator on his blog, etc., can you answer these questions the way you feel ATTP would if he were here again?

        1) RCP8.5 is not a “business as usual scenario”. True. False

        2) This Yahoo News article misrepresents RCP8.5 as being business as usual. True. False.

        3) The Yahoo News article misrepresents the temperature forecast for 2100 as being between 3.7-4.8C when in actuality the range is 2.6C to 4.8C, with best estimate of 3.7C. True. False.

        4)Both these errors were innocent coincidental? True. False.

        5) Most articles for public consumption are exactly factual or are skewed toward dismissing climate change as a problem? True. False.

        6) The question of whether the public is being given factual information is relevant to the topic of climate change. True. False.

        7) The editor or the Yahoo News article cited should correct the errors if brought to his/her attention. True. False.

        8) Professor Ken Rice would be the perfect person to co-sign such a letter, considering his non-denier credentials, if he wanted to show good faith to this thread under discussion. True. False.

        9) Ken Rice is too busy to sign such a letter. True. False.

      • Ron,
        True/False type questions are not conducive to a decent discussion, but here are some responses.

        1) RCP8.5 is not a “business as usual scenario”. True. False

        I don’t hugely care how it’s described. It’s a concentration pathway that leads to 8.5W/m^2 in 2100 and would be associated with increasing emissions.

        2) This Yahoo News article misrepresents RCP8.5 as being business as usual. True. False.

        I can’t see where it says RCP8.5 or business as usual

        3) The Yahoo News article misrepresents the temperature forecast for 2100 as being between 3.7-4.8C when in actuality the range is 2.6C to 4.8C, with best estimate of 3.7C. True. False.

        It says – Highest emissions –

        The UN’s climate science body has predicted that without reducing emissions, global temperatures would likely rise 3.7-4.8C by 2100.

        If one considers the highest emission pathway, then this is reasonable, especially as it is explicitly labelled as “Highest emissions”. On the other hand, we could follow a pathway where we neither increase nor decrease our emissions, in which case if would be more like 2.6C – 4.8C. Hence, pedantically one could argue that their statement isn’t strictly correct. However, it seems entirely defensible.

        4)Both these errors were innocent coincidental? True. False.

        I’ve no idea. I’ve no reason to think they were intending to mislead.

        5) Most articles for public consumption are exactly factual or are skewed toward dismissing climate change as a problem? True. False.

        There are some good, some bad.

        6) The question of whether the public is being given factual information is relevant to the topic of climate change. True. False.

        Sure, but I don’t think this qualifies as particularly egregious.

        7) The editor or the Yahoo News article cited should correct the errors if brought to his/her attention. True. False.

        You’re welcome to try. Again, I think what was presented is entirely defensible.

        8) Professor Ken Rice would be the perfect person to co-sign such a letter, considering his non-denier credentials, if he wanted to show good faith to this thread under discussion. True. False.

        What would such a letter say?

        9) Ken Rice is too busy to sign such a letter. True. False.

        Probably.

      • and Then There’s Physics: I don’t hugely care how it’s described. It’s a concentration pathway that leads to 8.5W/m^2 in 2100 and would be associated with increasing emissions.

        You previously, as I quoted, treated RCP8.5 and “business as usual” as equivalent names for the same pathway. RCP8.5 would only be “associated with” (or produced by) emissions increasing more than any analysis can support. Serious consideration of RCP8.5 is an academic exercise of no importance to any decisions about fuel use that have to be made in the real world. Except to alarm people about catastrophes unlikely to occur under “business as usual”, what is the point of using it?

      • You previously, as I quoted, treated RCP8.5 and “business as usual” as equivalent names for the same pathway.

        No, I don’t think I did.

      • Ron’s question: 1) RCP8.5 is not a “business as usual scenario”. True. False

        ATTP’s Answer: “I don’t hugely care how it’s described. It’s a concentration pathway that leads to 8.5W/m^2 in 2100 and would be associated with increasing emissions.”

        Well I think this proves the topic of this post was very relevant then. It seems to me that many proponents of the argument for drastic economic action to limit fossil fuel use don’t care hugely how the logic of their position is formed. Because it seems to me that if the scenario that was created to be a worst case (RCP8.5) is being used by “consensus science” as a current extrapolation without drastic action there is a major problem in communication and logic.

        So we all really need to back up and agree on where we are realistically headed now if moderate action without government intervention and more severe action with world body imposed sanction.

        Perhaps we should lobby a petition for clearer model RCPs.

        Here is a quote from a downloadable paper’s summary on RCP8.5 I found from a random search for RCP8.5.

        RCP8.5 depicts, compared to the scenario literature, a high-emission business as usual scenario. Its socio-economic development pathway is characterized by slow rates of economic development with limited convergence across regions, a rapidly rising population to comparatively high levels, and relatively slow pace of technological change. The latter assumption is reflected also by the scenario’s modest improvement rates of energy intensity, which drives energy demand towards the high end of the scenario literature. The primary energy mix of RCP8.5 is dominated by fossil fuels, leading to the extraction of large amounts of unconventional hydrocarbon resources well beyond presently extractable reserves. GHG emissions grow thus by about a factor of three over the course of the century, mainly as a result of both high demand and high fossil-intensity of the energy sector as well as increasing population and associated high demand for food.

        my bolds

      • Has it occurred to anyone else that if we triple our population accompanied by little technological advancement that loss of beaches and some Pacific atolls might be the least of mankind’s problems?

      • Ron,

        Since you talk behind people’s backs at Lucia’s, do you think that Peabody Coal paid for William Happen’s testimony as an expert witness during regulatory hearings in Minnesota by rerouting this money to the CO2 Coalition, which in turn paid for Professor Happer’s “travel fees”?

        See here:

        https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2642410-Email-Chain-Happer-O-Keefe-and-Donors-Trust.html#document/p3/a265568

      • Willard, I will lend my signature to any letter that outlines clear evidence and complaint against illegality, deceptions or unethical lack of disclosure. I would hope that you and your mentor would reciprocate. I have an example currently in mind here: http://climateaudit.org/2015/09/28/shuklas-gold/

      • I would love to initiate a joint coalition with you and your associates to clean up climate science and weed out the merchants of deceit on all sides.

      • You should be very happy, willy. The vast sums of filthy lucre spent by the Merchants of Doubt on little willy happer had no effect. You got your world saving agreement. We don’t need you any more.

      • When Lomborg says we need to reduce emissions by 6000 Gt by 2100 to reach 2 C, he seems to be using the RCP8.5 scenario as a baseline. There is no way we could even save 6000 GtCO2 emissions under other scenarios, and a more realistic number would be half that.

      • Willard | December 14, 2015 at 5:46 pm |
        Ron,

        Since you talk behind people’s backs at Lucia’s, do you think that Peabody Coal paid for William Happen’s testimony as an expert witness during regulatory hearings in Minnesota by rerouting this money to the CO2 Coalition, which in turn paid for Professor Happer’s “travel fees”?

        The US spends $2.54 billion per year to bribe scientists to lie about global warming and spends $ 20 billion to get other people to lie about global warming. And we are still supposed to believe them.

        Princeton physicist Dr. William Happer only gets travel expenses so I would believe him over a “green” scientist.

        We shouldn’t believe “green” scientists anyway until they ripen.

      • Thanks, yimmy. That lombag character is clueless. We doesn’t has to talk about 6000 Gt and that RCP crap anymore. We done got our agreement to save the world. Thank you…thank you…thank you, YIMMY! You can stop the incessant preaching now.

      • Lomborg also uses RCP8.5 as his “do-nothing” valuation here.
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/bjornlomborg/2015/12/07/whats-the-price-tag-of-paris-dont-ask-the-politicians/
        He doesn’t consider the flip side, which is the larger cost of unmitigated climate change itself from damage and adaptation, and he uses the usual low-balling tricks to minimize the effects of policies on emissions through 2100.

      • Rev. yimmy will never stop.

      • and Then There’s Physics: No, I don’t think I did.

        I think you did, in this: RCP8.5 and the term “business as usual” refer to a future pathway in which emissions continue increasing and in which we reach a change in forcing by 2100 of 8.5W/m^2.

        They refer to different pathways.

      • > I will lend my signature […]

        I’d rather have you confirm if you read that Dr. Happer clearly wrote that:

        I am sure Matt Ridley will be interested in whatever you produce. The Breitbart news organization would also likely help, as would various blogs, columnists, etc.

        https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2642410-Email-Chain-Happer-O-Keefe-and-Donors-Trust.html#document/p3/a265568

        Also, do you think Pr. Happer should have explicitly included Judy’s into the “various blogs” or under “columnists”?

        Many thanks!

      • “Climate models projected stronger warming over the past 15 years than has been seen in observations. Conspiring factors of errors in volcanic and solar inputs, representations of aerosols, and El Niño evolution, may explain most of the discrepancy.”
        Please! Let’s not over-complicate it.
        The reason for the discrepancy is because 99.9% of the time when a wild-ass prediction is based on nothing more than speculative theories with no historical pattern to back it up, it’s going to be way off the mark.

      • “Climate models projected stronger warming over the past 15 years than has been seen in observations” …and in the 15 years before that they underestimated it by just as much, so…

      • Being equally inept for being able to predict the future of the past is a strange way to claim skill.

      • So your 30-year hind-casting is spot on. Well done.

      • As I have said many times here, 30-year trends are very stable within 10%, while 15-year trends vary from zero to twice the 30-year trend. It tells us something about the time scales of the other variations.

      • Probably the worst period to take a trend over is 15-18 years, because that is one and a half 11-year cycles, and the regular solar max/min variation would heavily influence those time scales.

      • So does this mean your prediction for the next 15 years is that climate models are going to severely underestimate global warming?

      • No, it means the models have been right for the last 30-year trend, and will continue to be right for the next 30-year trend.

      • Jim D: “No, it means the models have been right for the last 30-year trend, and will continue to be right for the next 30-year trend.”

        Utter drivel.

        Stop making stuff up.

      • What about the overlapping thirty-year period that started 15 years ago? Will the models accurately predict that thirty-year trend?

      • You can choose to begin where you like, the 30-year trend has not changed much.
        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/mean:240/mean:120/plot/gistemp/from:1985/trend

      • “You can choose to begin where you like …”
        Apparently not, because if I choose to begin 15 years ago when “Climate models projected stronger warming over the past 15 years than has been seen in observations”, then over the next 15 years climate models will have to underestimate warming to get the 30-year trend right. Yet you’re telling me No, the models won’t be doing this.

      • When you look at the last 30-year trend, it is hard for you to assert that the temperatures won’t continue to follow the line. This is also the line that the models would follow with a 2 C TCR, which is a normal value.
        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/mean:12/from:1950/plot/gistemp/mean:12/from:1985/trend

      • If both models and observations are to follow the same trend line over the 30-year period starting 15 years ago, and “Climate models projected stronger warming over the past 15 years than has been seen in observations”, then during the next 15 years climate models will have to project less warming than will be seen in the observations. Otherwise, their thirty-year trend lines won’t match for the thirty-year period starting 15 years ago.

      • You can see that if you start the trend at the 1998 peak, the line’s trend is faster. You can also see the bigger picture and why the trend starting in 1998 is not typical of the real long-term trend, but that is the game they play with 1998, so don’t fall for it.

      • No disrespect, Jim D, but the person being fooled here might be you and you’re doing it to yourself. You appear to be oblivious to the fact that you’re cherry-picking start dates to support your 30-year trend hypothesis.

      • I think you did, in this: RCP8.5 and the term “business as usual” refer to a future pathway in which emissions continue increasing and in which we reach a change in forcing by 2100 of 8.5W/m^2.

        Okay, I did phrase that rather poorly. I was trying to explain the idea behind the pathway (something to avoid) and how it is defined (8.5W/m^2 by 2100) than justify using that specific terminology to describe it.

      • willb, you can slice it and dice it any way you like, but from GISTEMP all 30-year trends ending on any date in the last 25 years have been in excess of about 0.15 C/decade. That is from the 1960-1990 trend until the 1985-2015 trend, all have been 0.15-0.18 C/decade. This is as robust as it gets.

      • The 30-year trend to 1999 was.174C per decade – 1969 to 1999.

        From 1969 to 2006, the trend goes up to .179C per decade. So it got warmer during the period of no warming. What tonyb calls a nuance.

        From 1969 to 2014 the might pause, a hiatus in global warming, reduced the trend to .169C per decade.

        And 1969 through November 2015 is .171C per decade. Ouch, the mighty pause has exceedingly labored breathing, and can barely fog a mirror. Onward and upward. Are three, or more, monthly GISS anomalies above 1.0C possible. Yup. 2 down, more to go.

        And they actually believe a La Nina can undo this. Haha.

      • OK Jim D. I’ll just assume you misspoke yourself when you wrote: “No, it means the models have been right for the last 30-year trend, and will continue to be right for the next 30-year trend” and that you meant to write “Yes, it means the models have been right for the last 30-year trend, and will continue to be right for the next 30-year trend.”

      • No, willb, your assumption was wrong. There will be periods above and below the line in the next 15 years. It will not look like a “severe underestimate” any more than 2000-2015 looks like a severe overestimate, which it doesn’t.

      • Here are the OLS temperature trends for each year through the last complete year (2014) minimum duration of 17 years ( the reputed significant duration ):

        AR4 promised 2C/century for all scenarios ( the orange line ).

        Actual trends are diverging away from this line.

      • and Then There’s Physics: Okay, I did phrase that rather poorly. I was trying to explain the idea behind the pathway (something to avoid) and how it is defined (8.5W/m^2 by 2100) than justify using that specific terminology to describe it.

        We already understood the idea that RCP8.5 was something to avoid, and the point of the lead essay was that business as usual AVOIDED IT ALREADY, without the need for strong new measures to reduce CO2 emissions. “Business as usual” is not just a “specific terminology”, but refers to business as usual.

        You did not merely “phrase that rather poorly”, you denied the point of the lead essay that RCP8.5 was not an accurate mathematical representation of any realistic scenario.

      • You did not merely “phrase that rather poorly”, you denied the point of the lead essay that RCP8.5 was not an accurate mathematical representation of any realistic scenario.

        No, I did no such thing. I pointed out what people mean when they typically use those terms. For example, RCP8.5 is a concentration pathway that leads to a change in forcing of 8.5W/m^2 in 2100. It is regarded as being on one extreme of a range of future concentration pathways. Many people who refer to it as a “business as usual” pathway define that in a way that is consistent with the definition of RCP8.5 and do so because they regard it as a pathway that we should avoid following. I suspect we will indeed not follow it. One of the reasons may well be because people have pointed out why we should avoid following it. There will be many other reasons too. The idea that we can actually predict what will happen in the coming decades is a little bizarre. That’s why this range of pathways provides useful information, even though we will only follow a single pathway in reality.

        My view (partly as a consequence of this post and thread) is that those who object to the terminology do so because they would rather not engage with the information being presented, and want to delegitimise a narrative that is actually quite effective. There’s nothing wrong with doing this (it’s a standard part of any public discussion). However, pretending that they’re doing it because they’re above tribalism and are interested in objective truth, is the part of this that is – IMO – disingenuous.

      • ATTP: “I was trying to explain the idea behind the pathway (something to avoid) and how it is defined (8.5W/m^2 by 2100) than justify using that specific terminology to describe it. ”

        We can avoid the RCP8.5 scenario by avoiding the conditions assumed in it: a population of 12 billion, reverting to a world powered mostly by coal, slow economic and technological growth. This is why understanding the assumptions of RCP8.5 is important.

        Almost everybody else here understands that. It’s too basic to need mention.

        ATTP: “My view (partly as a consequence of this post and thread) is that those who object to the terminology do so because they would rather not engage with the information being presented,”

        My view — well-supported by your comments here — is that your argue almost entirely by misrepresenting what people say. You describe your own comments, not those of others here who quote the text and outside expert sources.

      • Fabius,

        We can avoid the RCP8.5 scenario by avoiding the conditions assumed in it: a population of 12 billion, reverting to a world powered mostly by coal, slow economic and technological growth. This is why understanding the assumptions of RCP8.5 is important.

        Yes, I agree. This seems patently obvious and a reason why this particular pathway is highlighted. In a sense this is why such pathways exist; so that we can be informed by what they present. If anything, this is entirely the point I’ve been trying to get across; the pathways provide information that we should be using to inform what we might do in the future.

        My view — well-supported by your comments here — is that your argue almost entirely by misrepresenting what people say. You describe your own comments, not those of others here who quote the text and outside expert sources.

        My view – well supported by your comments – is that you only interact reasonably with people who already agree with you, and you label everyone else. It’s unfortunate, because some of what you present is interesting and informed. On the other hand, your apparent inability to see yourself as part of this, rather than above it, makes it extremely hard to take you seriously.

      • Let’s see if A question will lend some clarity.

        As I read it RCP 8.5 is referred to as a “business as usual” because there is no “mitigation” plan. the “business” being refered to is ‘mitigation” business.

        What happens under this assumption, is then dependent on Other changes… changes in population— increasing, as well as other assumptions about energy mix… etc. So under no mitigation if we assume population going up etc…then we have a scenario that could produce 8.5W

        Question: under this approach to using the term business as usual, if we assumed no mitagation and a population that went to 1Billion people… That too would be describable as “business” as usual. and business as usual would look great

        or have I misunderstood something

      • TE, the 17-year trend is highly variable on climate time scales, so why stop there? The one-year trend is plus 5 C per decade.

      • Mosher, “Question: under this approach to using the term business as usual, if we assumed no mitagation and a population that went to 1Billion people… That too would be describable as “business” as usual. and business as usual would look great

        or have I misunderstood something”

        Business as usual means business goes on in spite of any complications or other issues. That is simply a linear projection, you aren’t allowing for booms or busts, just steady progress. It is a useful but always wrong reference.

        business as usual
        phrase of business
        1.
        an unchanging state of affairs despite difficulties or disturbances.
        “apart from being under new management, it’s business as usual in the department”

        Now if you want other scenarios you specify why they differ from BAU, but you should only have one bau.

        Now if you want RCP8.5 to be both BAU and worst case like Hansen, you should recognize the amazing progress made by humanity to avoid BAU. Let us all celebrate the saving of the world from the worst possible case and have a cigar. Cannot have your cake and eat it too.

      • and Then There’s Physics: My view (partly as a consequence of this post and thread) is that those who object to the terminology do so because they would rather not engage with the information being presented, and want to delegitimise a narrative that is actually quite effective.

        Then engage with the information that business as usual will avoid RCP8.5.

        I critique narratives that I think are inaccurate. RCP8.5, and the warnings of catastrophes and such that will follow increased anthropogenic greenhouse gases, are exaggerations beyond what is supported by the evidence. You want to legitimise narratives that are effective because they hide that disparity. You persistently choose language that is inaccurate, and then you defend the inaccuracies, calling critics “nitpickers” and such.

        RCP8.5 and “business as usual” are two different paths that should always be clearly distinguished.

      • Steven,

        “As I read it RCP 8.5 is referred to as a “business as usual” because there is no “mitigation” plan.”

        Logical, but not really accurate. In fact there is no analysis in the peer-reviewed literature — or anywhere else I’ve found — for describing RPC8.5 as the BAU scenario.

        The first reference I’ve found is “Compared to the scenario literature RCP8.5 depicts thus a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity.” From “RCP 8.5: A scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions” by Keywan Riahi et al in Climate Change, November 2011.

        It’s repeated as gospel (quoted 7 times in this thread), although the paper gives no supporting logic or fact for the “BAU” description. See other such quotes in the p-r literature and general media (but not in the IPCC’s reports):

        http://fabiusmaximus.com/2015/11/05/visions-of-dark-climate-future-90153/

        There are similar cases in the history of science of things being repeated as canon without examination. My favorite is the “100th Monkey Effect”, repeated in textbooks and p-r studies for a decade before being totally debunked, Details:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredth_monkey_effect

      • and Then There’s Physics: I pointed out what people mean when they typically use those terms.

        Your posts contain no previous claims that you were pointing out what other people typically mean. You wrote in response to a particular point of view, and you wrote that RCP8.5 and business as usual refer to “a” pathway, when they are clearly distinct pathways. Who ever those other people are who typically use those terms as you did are making the same mistake that you made.

      • matthew,

        RCP8.5 and “business as usual” are two different paths that should always be clearly distinguished.

        When you become emperor of the world, you can decide what should always be done. Until such time, you can wail and gnash as much as you like, but people are perfectly entitled to ignore you.

        Your posts contain no previous claims that you were pointing out what other people typically mean.

        The words “refer to a” was intended to mean “what is meant by these terms”.

        To be clear, I don’t care whether or not people refer to RCP8.5 as BAU or not. It doesn’t seem all that important to me. I do doubt that we will actually follow such a pathway, for many reasons most of which we probably can’t actually predict with any accuracy. I’m more interested in understanding the information presented by the different pathways, than arguing about the terminology used to describe them.

      • and Then There’s Physics: I do doubt that we will actually follow such a pathway [RCP8.5], for many reasons most of which we probably can’t actually predict with any accuracy.

        That puts you in agreement with the lead essay. It is a shame you did not say so at the start.

        To be clear, I don’t care whether or not people refer to RCP8.5 as BAU or not. It doesn’t seem all that important to me.

        The important point I have been trying to emphasize is that “RCP8.5” and “BAU” are not different names for the same pathway. If business as usual does not produce the RCP 8.5 CO2 pathway, then RCP8.5 is irrelevant to the choices that people have to make while carrying out business as usual. For someone who does not care whether people refer to RCP8.5 or BAU, you have written a lot in support of RCP8.5.

        Of course, billions of people ignore me daily. But a few people here have read our interchange. You do not agree that BAU and RCP8.5 ought to be clearly distinguished. You write as though it is ok to refer to RCP8.5 as BAU. I think that is clear by now to everyone who has read us.

  25. So they make assumptions that not only are worse case, but ignore or contradict well established trends and then represent it as business as usual.

    Is it any wonder people question the motives (because if it isn’t motivated it can only be incompetence) of the people pushing the “We have to act now.” Storyline?

  26. FM Editor

    I don’t agree with the view that RCP8.5 is the “worst” case out of a range of possible cases. It is the “extremely unlikely” case.

    Both Riahi and Van Vuuren note that the RCPs are designed to “cover the range of forcing levels” in the published literature. That range includes not only every one of the SRES scenarios but also the extreme cases and outliers that were discarded in 1999 by the compilers of SRES.

    SRES set out to establish a set of storylines that were “equally possible” and it therefore made sense for users to select a scenario close to the mean. The RCPs, on the other hand, preceded their (incompatible) storylines and cannot be aggregated or averaged. They are not usable until a user first selects the pathway she thinks is most probable.

    It can be assumed that the extreme cases that were rejected for SRES were largely those written/commissioned by Greenpeace, WWF and the like, in a quest for alarm rather than accuracy.

    It is self-obvious that these extremes were accommodated by 8.5. The storylines to achieve this forcing level rely upon a doubling of methane which could only be explained by major out-gassing from frozen tundra and hydrates – an event which AR5 describes as “extremely unlikely”.

    • Barry,

      “I don’t agree with the view that RCP8.5 is the “worst” case out of a range of possible cases.”

      I do not understand what you are attempting to tell us.

      RCP8.5 was a “worst case” in two senses. First, trivially, it was the worst of the 4 RCPs used in AR5. Second, it is a “worst case” of the sort used in risk planning. That is, a worst case with a probability worth considering.

      RCP8.5 is of course not the worst possible case, although developing more severe outcomes would take us into dystopian worlds. However, at some point extreme outcomes are seldom worth preparing against. Does your financial planner consider a post-atomic war scenario? Does your home fallout shelter stock “Change of Address” postcards?

  27. After this “historic” agreement that was touted as the last saving of the planet and the seal of Obama’s climate legacy, the point and the potential use of next year’s Marrakech meeting are hard to fathom.

    The model scenarios are not being updated. If it weren’t for the recent NOAA tweaking of its surface temperature data, the disconnect between observation and models would be incontrovertible. Satellite data may be officially ignored, but the conspicuous way people like Sierra Club Brune and Senator Markey won’t even allow it in conversation indicates how high it is in their consciousness as a threat.

    The warmists really, really need some terrible weather events – a Cat 5 hurricane making landfall in the Carolinas, a continent-wide European drought, perhaps a storm surge that sweeps across the Maldives. The El Niño – the Super El Niño of only a couple of months ago – so far is not working its destructive magic. After an El Niño the global temperature takes a hit (another example of the heat redistribution of the Earth: the extra oceanic heat of this year isn’t extra heat, as much as the warmists would like to think). Next year global temperatures will drop – a lot, more than can be ignored. La Niña will be blamed, but a drop is a drop, not a threatening rise.

    The disasters we hear about are cherry-picked from the planet. There is an interesting split in the world-view of the enviro-fiends: the drought (and overuse of water) in California is a sign of global changes that threaten the average American life, but the San Bernadino and Paris ISIL-inspired attacks that actually kill people, are random, individual incidents that have no general pattern or import.

    Has the IPCC reached its zenith? The only world leaders who are “leading” on climate change and decarbonization are Obama and Merkel (I consider Hollande an opportunist who will switch sides as soon as it is in the interest of the French State to do so, and the various British leaders …. Well, they follow the leftist trend, whatever it is, and they seem to be backsliding quickly.) With the ending of the Obama regime, will Hillary pursue things as strongly? She has to have her own “legacy”. Can’t be the climate – that would say her buddy didn’t succeed, and she is just a follow-on actor. As for Merkel, if the migrant problem blows up in the polls, so will her energy transformation plans (at least the most egregious of them): once you say your ex-leader was foolish in one area, you are allowed to say she was foolish, or at least naive, in all others.

    Without plans – not reduction committments, even – to reduce emissions by China, India, Malaysia, the mid-East oil nations, the developing, small countries outside of large-scale payments by the EU and the US, the impact of economy-harming policies is obviously neglibible at a global level. The moral imperative of helping those who aren’t prepared to help themselves at the same time has always been a hard sell. The only “commitment” of note in the COP21 Agreement is that of the developing countries to act on CO2 reductions IF the developed countries pony up the money. Even with the clauses that give the developed countries oversight on how this money is actually spent, issues of sovereignty make it difficult to impossible to assure that what is being paid for happens. Being played the fool in the Oil For Food programme did not sit well with the liberal sponsors. Money for green energy had better have results to continue beyond the first tranche.

    The Eco-green may have overplayed its hand in Paris. The non-agreement agreement is being damned by faint praise even by McKibben – “saves the chance of saving the planet”. If they complain too much, then COP21 Paris is like the fiasco in 2009 in Copenhagen. They do not want to say that as it demolishes their position of having advanced the cause and their having an important say in the matter. But the Agreement is certainly not the “win” they hoped for or danced in the aisles about. And the skeptics didn’t do it this time (or the other, for that matter). Obama, Hollande and Merkel did. The 190 countries in the world in Paris did. This was the best THEY WERE PREPARED TO DO, despite their green credentials.

    Prepare to read about rising CO2 emissions, cheating and the necessity of “doing more”. About the moral “failure” of the developed world, and the “reasonable” anger of the developing world, because nobody gave them the money they asked for. Or perhaps the Eco-green will simply change targets: no longer global warming (it isn’t), but ocean acidification. You could get a 15-year run out of that, for sure.

    • The ocean acidification is easy to solve. If the greens keep complaining we should start dumping coal ash in the core ocean (the desert part in the middle where nothing lives). This would create life in a “desert” much like CO2 does on land and would counter any neutralizing influences.

      If done properly we could farm the core ocean and get much of our seafood from the farmed area.

  28. President Obama has set a policy goal of reducing America’s greenhouse gas emissions 80% over the next thirty-five years. That is an aggressive goal by any standard — not only a stretch goal, but a super-stretch goal, if you will.

    Suppose we were to greatly simplify things in making RCP scenario projections and just extend the latest 20-year upward trend in the Keeling Curve out to 2050, and then further on out to 2100. If we made this very simplistic linear extrapolation, we might end up with roughly 500 ppm CO2 in 2050, and with roughly 620 ppm CO2 in 2100.

    My question is this: “What corresponding radiative forcing levels, as stated in Watts per Square Meter, are suggested by the IPCC AR5 climate models for the year 2050 and for the year 2100 respectively, if the Keeling Curve reaches 500 ppm CO2 in 2050 and then 620 ppm CO2 in 2100?”

    • 22 PPM = 0.2 W/m2. 220 PPM / 22 PPM = 10.

      10 x 0.2 W/m2 = 2 W/m2.

      The 2000-2010 decadal trend was 0.2 W/m2 during a 22 PPM rise.

      Ten times the trend is a 2 W/m2 change from 2000 in 2100. This is just a linear extropolation, If you do all the loggy stuff it is significantly less.

      • China is responsible for almost 50% of coal consumption currently about 4 GT/Y and that is going to go to 0.0 (zero) by 2045 since they have less than 3 decades of fuel at current consumption. Indonesia mines 6% of global coal production. They will run out in the next decade.

        The 30% of global supplies held by the US are basically off the table.

        https://www.worldcoal.org/coal/coal-market-pricing
        Indonesia is the leading exporter. It exported 410 MT of coal in 2014.

        Indonesia and Australia supply about 2/3rds of exported coal. The 2012 breakdown is shown below:

        The claim that there will be a lot of undeveloped country coal use to replace China is simply unsupportable and is the sort of claim these people would make, because they can’t see what is going on::

      • PA:

        China is responsible for almost 50% of coal consumption currently about 4 GT/Y and that is going to go to 0.0 (zero) by 2045 since they have less than 3 decades of fuel at current consumption.

        Economically recoverable reserves will only run out on your timetable if no more coal is added to the category “economically recoverable”. That is not what history teaches us. And it would appear that China has sufficient geologically identified coal to more than double the “proven reserves” estimate of 114 Gt.

        http://carnegieendowment.org/files/China_Coal_Value_Chain_Kevin_Tu3.pdf

        Of course, economic recoverability is not the only potential constraint on coal use in China given its transportation issues and, especially, pollution problems.

      • opluso,

        It’s astonishing how many people (like PA) still believe the “we’re running out of stuff” theory — despite so many false predictions. I posted this elsewhere in this thread, but it bears repeating…

        The inverse relationship between ore quality and quantity– mediated by technology — has been known by geologists for generations. Once all reserves are discovered (i.e., the world is fully explored) the cost of coal (or petroleum) per BTU will change by the interplay of tapping lower quality reserves (raising costs) and new technology (lowering costs).

        This makes forecasting more difficult than if it was merely a matter of ore availability. If we don’t continue to develop alternative sources, the cost of fossil fuels might become very high in the late 21st century — which will reduce consumption.

        For a good summary of how this works see this excerpt from Sir Ronald Prain’s 1975 classic Copper: the anatomy of an Industry.

      • opluso | December 15, 2015 at 6:09 am |
        Economically recoverable reserves will only run out on your timetable if no more coal is added to the category “economically recoverable”. That is not what history teaches us.


        Actually that is exactly what history teaches us. Further the greater the demand the higher the price since increasingly marginal resources are exploited. By definition if the price doubles or triples more fossil fuel is economically recoverable. The price is still double or triple.

        These RCP future fuel use scenarios are misinformed or deliberately dishonest – take your pick.

        Your view is without merit and not supported by the facts. “Economical Recoverable” at two or three times the price is not the same a “economically recoverable” at the current price.

        Further, nuclear is in the same price range as fossil fuel. If fossil fuel prices double (which is where things are going) even in the US there will be a move to nuclear. There will always be migration to the cheapest energy source.

        Fossil fuel emissions are going to start declining by mid-century. That is why all the disaster scenarios and smoke and mirror predictions don’t make a lot of sense.

        Further – at 500 PPM the environmental absorption is 10 GT/Y. So after mid-century the CO2 level will plateau and then start to decline.

      • PA:

        Your view is without merit and not supported by the facts.

        I see that we agree completely … except for the person identified by the pronoun.

        Outside the old Soviet Union, economically recoverable resources are the only kind that ever get used.

        That is not to say that RCP8.5 is somehow related to reality.

      • opluso | December 15, 2015 at 3:02 pm |

        Outside the old Soviet Union, economically recoverable resources are the only kind that ever get used.

        That is not to say that RCP8.5 is somehow related to reality.

        Well… we agree on RCP8.5.

        As far as the referenced article on Chinese coal…

        That isn’t a bad article. There are some caveats.
        1. China does mostly subsurface mining
        2. Surface Mines can be up to 90% efficient but underground mines typically have a 50% yield.
        3. Much of the “prognosticated” Chinese reserves are in Inner Mongolia.
        4. Most of the typical cost of coal is transportation.
        5. There are 200 MT of Chinese coal that is theoretically reserves but deemed “unextractable”.

        Much of the Chinese prognosticated coal reserves appear to be like the majority of the US potential reserves – stuck in the middle of nowhere where no one is going to mine them unless they get really desperate.

    • 620 ppm corresponds to less that 4.5 W/m2 which is one of the mitigated scenarios. This makes sense because population growth and development mean that keeping the current emission rate constant through 2100 requires some mitigation, especially in the developed countries to counter inevitably growing emissions in developing countries.

      • 620 ppm corresponds to less that 4.5 W/m2 which is one of the mitigated scenarios. This makes sense because population growth and development mean that keeping the current emission rate constant through 2100 requires some mitigation, especially in the developed countries to counter inevitably growing emissions in developing countries.

        Meanwhile, my world keeps getting bluer:

        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2e/Countriesbyfertilityrate.svg

        Japan kept thinking population growth would resume, or at least shrinking would slow down too, but that thinking didn’t change reality:

      • 620 ppm corresponds to less that 4.5 W/m2 which is one of the mitigated scenarios.

        This is not accurate. The current rate of increase is 2 PPM/Y or 570 PPM by 2100 assuming unlimited fossil fuels burned at current prices.

        Your “4.5 W/m2” simply requires we sit on our couches swilling beer and watching MNF. It is the default if we do nothing and are really really (and I do mean really) creative at finding new fossil fuel sources, cheap.

        If sitting on my couch swilling beer watching MNF is mitigation, then yes there will be some mitigation.

      • PA, you may want to quash the development trends in the third world as your BAU, but that is not a realistic assumption,

      • Jim,

        “to counter inevitably growing emissions in developing countries.”

        That is not inevitable. it’s not even happening now. Emissions in the developing nations might be rolling over.

        Reaching peak emissions” by Robert B. Jackson in Nature Climate Change, in press. “Rapid growth in global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry ceased in the past two years, despite continued economic growth. Decreased coal use in China was largely responsible, coupled with slower global growth in petroleum and faster growth in renewables.”

        It’s just the latest study showing the emissions “pause”. Such as earlier reports from European agencies and the IEA.

      • Developing nations are a separate issue. They have population growth, are building infrastructure, cities, roads, adding energy needs for transportation and buildings. Without mitigation they could go from 2 tonnes per capita to 5 tonnes per capita, and with population growth, these countries will be half the global population by 2100, so this development would be a major addition to global emissions.

      • Jim D | December 14, 2015 at 2:33 pm |
        PA, you may want to quash the development trends in the third world as your BAU, but that is not a realistic assumption,

        https://judithcurry.com/2015/12/13/a-closer-look-at-scenario-rcp8-5/#comment-751093

        My assumption is valid. Your claim is not.

        Jim D | December 14, 2015 at 4:14 pm |
        Developing nations are a separate issue. They have population growth, are building infrastructure, cities, roads, adding energy needs for transportation and buildings. Without mitigation they could go from 2 tonnes per capita to 5 tonnes per capita, and with population growth, these countries will be half the global population by 2100, so this development would be a major addition to global emissions.

        Without mitigation it could be samo samo. They can’t afford gobs of fossil fuel and they are near the equator where they don’t need it.

        http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC/
        Sitting around in the jungle sipping Mai Tais doesn’t take a lot of fossil fuel.

        The countries that are mostly agricultural might not ever develop industry.

        The countries that burn a lot of coal have a lot of coal to burn. The developing countries that don’t have a lot of coal don’t have the money or motivation to burn a lot of coal.

        I don’t understand the paranoid delusions of global warmers about burning fossil fuel. There is nothing wrong with burning fossil fuel. It is good for the planet to get all that CO2 into the air.

  29. For the record for those folks who think that the issues about RCP 8.5 are simply theoretical concerns and that no regulatory agency would actually use that scenario in a rulemaking I refer you to the New York State Part 490 – Projected Sea-level Rise rule. New York enacted the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) in 2014. CRRA is intended to ensure that decisions regarding certain State permits and expenditures consider climate risk, including sea-level rise and requires the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to adopt regulations establishing science-based State sea-level rise projections. The regulation projecting sea-level rise in New York is(http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/103870.html). The rule establishes five projection levels (low, medium-low, medium, medium-high, and high) at three locations in New York in the 2020s, 2050s, 2080s and 2100. The high projection for New York City is 75 inches in 2100 and every headline of every article describing this regulation pointed to that projection.

    The intent of this rule is to provide information for policy decisions. The Regulatory Impact Statement states: “Inclusion of unlikely but plausible projections provides benchmarks against which long-term decisions, e.g., those regarding critical infrastructure and land-use change, can be evaluated for low-probability but high-consequence events.” The 75 inch projection relies on RCP 8.5 to get the forcing necessary to exceed the AR5 95% projection of 39 inches, force land-ice melt to pick up another 36 inches of sea-level rise and do all that 85 years from now. I do not agree that this is a plausible scenario and will submit comments to that effect.

    So yes RCP8.5 is being used by policy makers and I do not think that those folks understand the original intent of that scenario.

  30. ATTP asked Fabius (above) if it was ok if he called him a climate science denier.

    “Is it okay if I start referring to you as a climate science denier? Only seems fair. You seem to be behaving like one.”

    I have already explained to ATTP on his own blog that calling someone a climate science denier is name calling. But ATTP rejects this, and instead has stated that it is merely a factual description.

    You see – ATTP has an opinion.

    If you disagree with ATTP’s opinion – which he believes rises to the level of a law – like the law of gravity – than in his eyes you are denying reality.

    Which to ATTP means you are in denial (and hence a denier).

    ATTP is drowning in confirmation bias – but like a fish in water, fails to even perceive it.

    Because I believe calling someone a denier over issues which are still unsettled is name calling – I think ATTP’s question is a little like asking “is it ok if I call you an as*hole?”

    This confirmation bias is why ATTP insists that you should ignore what he actually said and instead merely respond to what he meant to say (regarding the RCP8.5 issue).

    Well – we all have our biases to bear.

    30 more years should allow us to know who is right.

    ATTP and his in-group or the climate skeptics and their in-group.

    I wait with bated breath.

    Personally – I do not believe the sea will rise by 75 cm by 2100. I do not believe it will even rise 39 cm by 2100. 30 more years should give us a good fix on the trend line.

    Of course – who am I kidding.

    ATTP will merely say the effects are non-linear and will sharply ramp up in the future (past 2045). After all – that is what ATTP and his in-crowd are saying right now.

    • I forgot to mention that I blog over at ATTP’s site as RickA.

    • Richard,

      To highlight the absurdity of ATTP’s comment, I am a somewhat dogmatic defender of the IPCC and the other climate agencies — and have the claw-marks from both activists and skeptics to show for it (those both being just convenient group labels).

      That nicely shows how far out activists have gone in — as you point out — declaring anyone who does not agree with them to be a “denier.” Which is why that charge no longer carries any weight outside their group.

      • That nicely shows how far out activists have gone in — as you point out — declaring anyone who does not agree with them to be a “denier.”

        Could you at least answer my question as to whether or not you’d mind if I called you a climate science denier. I probably shouldn’t bother asking as you seem perfectly comfortable labelling others, and so you presumably are more than happy for others to label you. Would seem rather hypocritical otherwise, wouldn’t it?

        Tell you what, I’ll explain the point so that you can get it more easily. The person on this thread who has labelling those with whom they disagree is you, which is why I’m asking the question I am. If you cannot get this utterly trivial point, I shall have to assume that you’re incapable of really understanding any complex issue. You could at least illustrate that you do get this.

      • Agreed.

        It still makes my blood boil.

        I have been called a global warming denier – even though I have always admitted the globe has warmed.

        I have been called a climate change denier – even though I have always admitted the climate has changed.

        I see now the slur has changed to “climate science denier” – which is funny since many people the slur is applied to agree that – all things being equal – more CO2 in the atmosphere will cause warming.

        I merely quibble on the amount of warming and the certainty of opinion the other side expresses in their opinion on the amount of warming.

        I still believe in the scientific method and fully expect that as we gather more data ECS will continue to drop (as it has been for several years) – right to the low end of the IPCC range of 1.5C – 4.5C.

        But I could be wrong and am willing to wait to see what the data show.

        It is the other side who cry – we cannot wait for data to confirm our opinion – we need to act now! Or it will be to late. This is very unscientific and could lead to horrible economic results for the world economy.

        I would apply the precautionary principal and wait for data to lower the uncertainty before taking unwise action.

      • ATTP:

        Yes – your little joke went right over my head.

        You are so willing to label others as climate science deniers that I had no idea that you found the label to be name calling and derogatory (which you now imply).

        Especially the way you defend the label denier over on your own blog.

        Remind me how you were labeled again – I missed it.

      • “ATTP asked Fabius (above) if it was ok if he called him a climate science denier.”

        I think he’s a delayer.

      • Nick,
        I’m not sure everyone will get why.

      • Richard,

        I still believe in the scientific method and fully expect that as we gather more data ECS will continue to drop (as it has been for several years) – right to the low end of the IPCC range of 1.5C – 4.5C.

        I don’t think you can believe in the actual scientific method AND believe that ECS will continue to drop. That isn’t really a consistent position.

      • ATTP,

        You wrote –

        “I don’t think . . . ”

        I am inclined to agree with you. Maybe you should try the alternative.

        Cheers.

      • ATTP said “I don’t think you can believe in the actual scientific method AND believe that ECS will continue to drop. That isn’t really a consistent position.”

        Why not?

      • Nick, do you accept the RCP8.5 as the “business as usual” trajectory the world was/is on before Paris?

        Is Paris now the savior? Should it be credited with our avoidance of RCP8.5 by technological development of alternative energy and efficiency that otherwise would never have happened?

        Is the world going to have less population now too because of Paris?

      • @ Richard –
        “I would apply the precautionary principal and wait for data to lower the uncertainty before taking unwise action.”

        How does the precautionary principal imply no action as opposed to action to avoid the uncertainty about future climate change? What version of the precautionary principle are you referring to? The strong precautionary principal?

        Expected social welfare maximization is a better basis for decision making.

      • Woops. Misspelled principle with principal.

      • ATTP
        Believing in the scientific method and a drop in ECS are not consistent.

        In every decade in every field, scientists have discredited theories of the past. Hubris is endemic in climate science, which in turn hampers further investigation into what is really happening.

        Your statement belongs in a time capsule to be opened in 2100 and used as prima facie evidence for what was wrong with climate science in 2015. I hate to break it to you but you don’t have a monopoly on knowledge.

      • ATTP: I don’t think you can believe in the actual scientific method AND believe that ECS is an actual metric of climate. That isn’t really a consistent position.

      • Ken,

        You whine about being labeled and and then use it as justification to call Larry a science denier. (You posing it as a question just means you qualify for a stupid pet tricks competition.)

        The funny thing about this is the label you seem to object to is “activist”. You walk like a duck and quack like a duck, yet complain when someone points out the duck.

        Meanwhile, you have yet to identify the science Larry is denying. You really shouldn’t let your high opinion of yourself allow you to make such foolish moves.

      • timg,

        Actually, he’s a goose!

      • > Remind me how you were labeled again – I missed it.

        I don’t approve putting words into mouths.

        I don’t think AT claimed he has been labelled.

        I rather think he was talking about the use of labels.

        Do you really dispute that labels were used on this page?

        Really?

      • By any reasonable definition, Ken Rice (ATTP) is an activist. He has made it clear time and time again. His tactics here are typical. Instead of denying the charge, (because he can’t credibly deny or rebut the charge) he tries to turn the spotlight onto someone else. This is another typical activist tactic and an unfair method of argument. ATTP needs to grow up and try to at least rise to the level of a Gavin Schmidt. Steve McIntyre is to ATTP as Churchill is to Chamberlin.

    • > ATTP is drowning in confirmation bias […]

      Is that a description, or just another way to label someone’s mental states?

      • Your boss is really struggling here, willy. I am sure he will appreciate it in the morning, if you drive him home.

      • > Your boss is really struggling here, willy. I am sure he will appreciate it in the morning, if you drive him home.

        Anything remotely like what you “don’t approve,” RickA?

        Also, you forgot to link to the thread:

        https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/honesty-and-hypocrisy/#comment-66166

        In a comment thread of an episode that starts with PaulM calling AT “dishonest and a hypocrite.”

        You just can’t make this up.

        I don’t see where AT “rejects” your disapproval, BTW.

        Got a quote?

      • I don’t know what you are yammering about, willy. Just get kenny home safely. Give him a glass of warm beer and tuck him in. His little teddy bear is in the clothes dryer.

      • Willard,

        You guys all attend the same dance school?

        Ken Rice asks if it is ok to call Larry a denier, in response to a comment where he is referred to as an activist. He then lanches into his labelling complaint.

        Ken probably thought he was being clever. Since he isn’t as clever by half of what he thinks he is, it fell flat, even though the point was valid – don’t complain of being labelled then go and do it yourself. Problem with Professor Ken is he was so excited at having a real point to make tht he sort of jumped at the wrong time. Calling someone an activist isn’t in the same stadium as calling someone a denier. Not by a long shot. It’s made worse when there is evidence supporting the activist label, yet none is provided to support the denier label.

        Now whom is the one waving pom poms?

      • Thought he was being clever. Isn’t clever by half. So excited.

        Add to it your true Scotsman: but the D word is so much meaner!

        You’re in splendid form, timmy boy.

        Labeling is labeling. Paraphrasing Talk Talk, labeling’s what you make it. Can’t escape it.

        “Activist” dogwhistles everything a CAGW meme afficionado like the Editor would wish to convey.

      • Keep dancing and shaking your booty Willard. That’s all you got these days.

        BTW – I love the labeling is labeling line. Discernment and a discriminating mind apparently isn’t your strong point. As in wind is wind, whether it be the gentle warmth of the Hawiian tradewinds, a large typhoon slamming the Philippines or you flapping your gums.

      • A discriminating mind apparently isn’t your strong point. Fantastic!

        Discernment starts with discerning words and usages, timmy boy:

        Adolf Hitler

        Animal Rights Activist?

        You Decide….

        http://theharryrowellfamily.org/hitleranimalactivist.htm

        The “activist” branding has a long Internet tradition. It’s a staple of reactionary claptraps before the Tea Party was invented. One random study for your consideration:

        http://www.jstor.org/stable/3481421

        There are many other labels in this page alone.

  31. RCP8.5 is not a likely scenario. Imagine if every country was as denialist, coal-happy and burn-baby-burn as the current US Republicans and the majority of denizens here, then it could happen out of continued ignorance in policy in the face of mounting evidence, but thankfully that is not the case. Paris shows that their belief system is on the wane especially beyond the US borders.

    • …and Then There’s Physics | December 13, 2015 at 11:04 am
      “IMO, all the critiques of RCP8.5 and the usage of “business as usual” miss the crucial point. RCP8.5 and the term “business as usual” refer to a future pathway in which emissions continue increasing and in which we reach a change in forcing by 2100 of 8.5W/m^2. Given the resulting change in temperature, and the potential impacts due to such a change, the crucial point is whether or not we should avoid following such a pathway. We may indeed do so without actually trying to, but that’s not a particularly good argument – IMO – for ignoring what might happen if we did.”

      There is no argument against having a RCP8.5 scenario but shouldn’t it be disclosed in articles using it that it represents the worst possible case dystopia that we can reasonably imagine without having the Sun explode?

      Why do we need to scare children into being responsible? Was making and showing the movie Refer Madness responsible? No. It just discredited the establishment as deceitful, know-nothing, squares. Much better would have been honest and say pot makes you paranoid, forgetful and ravenous for chips.

      Why do we have to ruin the brand of science to scare school children and their grandmothers? Why can’t we try trusting people with straight dope? No pun.

    • Jim D, what makes you think that myself and other denizens here are irresponsible in managing our resources? It seems to me that Gore and other climate scientists would set a great example by practicing what the preach. They should have the conferences electronically, solar powered.

      • I mainly go by the unquestioning agreement with the Republican attitude of not doing anything at all on emission reductions, especially to replace oil and coal, and instead to actively promote emission increasers such as tar sands, more coal and Arctic drilling. Extrapolating this wrong-way attitude globally may give RCP8.5.

      • Jim D, I urge you not to paint all conservatives with the same tar. The only thing that binds lukewarmers is the belief that political forces are corrupting science. BTW, I think this is precisely why you are not allowed to say that on ATTP’s site.

        I want to save the planet for my children just as much as anyone. I just realize that there are a lot of challenges we will overcome and I believe global warming will be laughed at by our great grandchildren when they read about it in their history mind-melder (or whatever).

    • JimD: You are high, Paris showed the world is willing to do nothing but make empty gestures. We will burn it all because we are all greedy b_st_rds. It’s human nature. 8.5 is BAU. The only thing to prevent BAU is cheaper carbon-free power that can be generated and delivered when and where needed. This is why Hansen is Pro-Nuke.

      As you know, you go to save the planet with the human beings you have, not the human beings you might want or wish to have at a later time. (with apologies to Don Rumsfeld)

      • Horst,

        “8.5 is BAU.”

        Can you provide any sort of justification for that statement, other than hand-waving?

      • Editor, Lomborg describes RCP8,5 as do-nothing, and he is one of the leading lights of the skeptics.

      • Here is a free paper cited by Skeptical Science for definition of RCP8.5. The summary says

        RCP8.5 is dominated by fossil fuels, leading to the extraction of large amounts of unconventional hydrocarbon resources well beyond presently extractable reserves. GHG emissions grow thus by about a factor of three over the course of the century…

        my bold

      • Jim,

        “Lomborg describes”

        Who cares what he thinks? Does he provide a supporting analysis, or is he just going by what he read?

      • Your post is ascribing that type of thinking to one side of the argument, but you failed to notice it is on both sides. By playing the RCP8.5 card, skeptics can make a better case for mitigation being ineffective unless it is stronger than anyone wants.

      • Ron,

        “Here is a free paper cited by Skeptical Science”

        It is cited (with a link) in my essay.

      • Your compadre horse grabber said you are high, yimmy. Dude is an agreement denier, like Hansen.

        Tell him about Paree, yimmee. We be saved! Nobody is going to pay Happer’s transportation, after this. He’ll have to stay home.

        RCP8.5 is a dead issue. We are going to hold it under 2C. We are shooting for 1.5C. And we have definitely been smoking something strong.

      • EdFabMax:
        http://tinyurl.com/RCP-8-5

        4 Discussion and conclusions
        RCP8.5 depicts, compared to the scenario literature, a high-emission business as usual scenario. Its socio-economic development pathway is characterized by slow rates of economic development with limited convergence across regions, a rapidly rising population to comparatively high levels, and relatively slow pace of technological change. The latter assumption is reflected also by the scenario’s modest improvement rates of energy intensity, which drives energy demand towards the high end of the scenario literature. The primary energy mix of RCP8.5 is dominated by fossil fuels, leading to the extraction of large amounts of unconventional hydrocarbon resources well beyond presently extractable reserves.

        It requires technological advances to produce unconventional fossil fuel reserves currently unreachable, which is the same arm-waving geologists have been doing for the past 30-years of fears of peak oil.

    • As I mentioned above, perhaps a compromise on the RCP8.5 scenario is Lomborg’s “do-nothing” description of it. I might also add it would be the “know-nothing” approach where the world continues to use, and even double down on, the cheapest and longest-serving energy sources with no obvious need or incentive to find alternatives. It’s an interesting question of how would we behave if CO2 had no effect on climate. RCP8.5 may be it. The know-nothing scenario.

  32. The RCPs were built on imaginary scenarios to produce a range of outcomes which could be used to compare with Hansen’s for discussion purposes .The have no testable connection to reality because of the number of variables involved.
    The climate models on which the entire Catastrophic Global Warming delusion rests are built without regard to the natural 60 and more importantly 1000 year periodicities so obvious in the temperature record. The modelers approach is simply a scientific disaster and lacks even average commonsense .It is exactly like taking the temperature trend from say Feb – July and projecting it ahead linearly for 20 years or so. They back tune their models for less than 100 years when the relevant time scale is millennial. This is scientific malfeasance on a grand scale. The temperature projections of the IPCC – UK Met office models and all the impact studies which derive from them have no solid foundation in empirical science being derived from inherently useless and specifically structurally flawed models. They provide no basis for the discussion of future climate trends and represent an enormous waste of time and money. As a foundation for Governmental climate and energy policy their forecasts are already seen to be grossly in error and are therefore worse than useless. A new forecasting paradigm needs to be adopted. For forecasts of the timing and extent of the coming cooling based on the natural solar activity cycles – most importantly the millennial cycle – and using the neutron count and 10Be record as the most useful proxy for solar activity check my blog-post at http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com/2014/07/climate-forecasting-methods-and-cooling.html

    The most important factor in climate forecasting is where earth is in regard to the quasi- millennial natural solar activity cycle which has a period in the 960 – 1020 year range. For evidence of this cycle see Figs 5-9. From Fig 9 it is obvious that the earth is just approaching ,just at or just past a peak in the millennial cycle. I suggest that more likely than not the general trends from 1000- 2000 seen in Fig 9 will likely generally repeat from 2000-3000 with the depths of the next LIA at about 2650. The best proxy for solar activity is the neutron monitor count and 10 Be data. My view ,based on the Oulu neutron count – Fig 14 is that the solar activity millennial maximum peaked in Cycle 22 in about 1991. There is a varying lag between the change in the in solar activity and the change in the different temperature metrics. There is a 12 year delay between the activity peak and the probable millennial cyclic temperature peak seen in the RSS data in 2003. http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1980.1/plot/rss/from:1980.1/to:2003.6/trend/plot/rss/from:2003.6/trend

    There has been a cooling temperature trend since then (Usually interpreted as a “pause”) Once the current El Nino ends there is likely to be a steepening of the cooling trend in 2017- 2018 corresponding to the very important Ap index break below all recent base values in 2005-6. Fig 13.

    The Polar excursions of the last few winters in North America are harbingers of even more extreme winters to come more frequently in the near future.

  33. I have to admit when I originally decided to read a post on RCP8.5 it was not due to the sexy title. Editor Larry has done a magnificent job in composing and moderating and I have to apologize for not reading all his reference material from the top.

    What got me away from my day job today is watching ATTP attempt to say that it does not matter whether RCP8.5 is realistic or not as long as it cannot be plausibly denied there could be such a scenario. And, as I understand his logic, if there is a real possibility, no matter how small, hapless mankind is just bound to find it (doing their “business as usual,”) the drunken sailors that we all are.

    If I am not way off by now, the next step in ATTP et al’s logic is that the above being the case, it gives “science reporters” defensible cover to cite the projected effects of RCP8.5 as what will happen if immediate coordinated world government action is not taken. Actually, it is already too late, some are lamenting. Urgent! Urgent! that we take action they say. And, although I’m sure the IPCC executive committee might have put a tad of pressure on authors to inflate the RCP8.5 (the conservative scientists they are) and the temperature effects of such forcing, much the same way they put pressure on Mann to solve his MBH98 presentation cosmetics, the “science writers” are unaware of this and fret they did not do their part. It is too important a thing to be underestimated. Mankind is on the line. They inflate the scientifically peer reviewed numbers just a notch for public consumption (just in case). Ken and Willy ATTP et al when presented evidence of this by informed analysis here resort to the “do you want to be called a denier” game. Or it reminds them of the to ask you if you know who the latest merchant of doubt is. You see this guy took gas money to appear at a senate hearing. I want you to go to my link and read all about it. It’s really relevant. (This is because this is their evidence of conspiracy.)

    But wait, it’s already been scientifically decided (peer reviewed) that only conservatives can be afflicted with conspiracy ideology.

    Just a suggestion.
    I say we all pitch in and hire Mark Steyn to recap each of these blog posts.
    I’m serious. -Ron

    • Imagine if every country was as denialist, coal-happy and burn-baby-burn as the current US Republicans and the majority of denizens here, then it could happen out of continued ignorance in policy in the face of mounting evidence

      This statement is simply incorrect. Emissions will decline before 2050 even if “everyone was denialist, coal-happy and burn-baby-burn as the current US Republicans and the majority of denizens here.”

      The claim that we have to take action is misinformed or deliberately misleading. The statements that disaster will happen except for wise green governmental hugely expensive intervention are simply false.

      There isn’t even a case for moderate warming (2+ °C) without extreme and unrealistic assumptions.

      Attacking anyone who is honest and realistic as “denialist, coal-happy and burn-baby-burn” says more about global warmers than the people they are attacking.

    • Ron,

      If I am not way off by now, the next step in ATTP et al’s logic is that the above being the case, it gives “science reporters” defensible cover to cite the projected effects of RCP8.5 as what will happen if immediate coordinated world government action is not taken.

      Ummm, no. I don’t think I’ve said anything about “coordinated world government” (I thought you – unlike Fabius – were at least able to not make things up about what I’ve said). RCP8.5 simply gives us information as to what would happen if we were to follow such a pathway. That’s really all. There are also a range of RCPs from one where the change in forcing in 2100 is low (possible unrealistically so now) to one where it is high (also possibly unrealistically). It’s probably now clear that we will not follow an RCP8.5 pathway, but one reason for that is probably because people have highlighted what might happen if we did.

      • “RCP8.5 simply gives us information as to what would happen if we were to follow such a pathway. That’s really all.”

        It is not at all settled science that we will get 2.6C-4.8C warming from RCP8.5. Doing a quick check against transient climate response estimates of 1.1-3.5 the range in my view should be 1.7C-2.7C since 850ppm is 1.5 doubling of 260ppm and the TCR range established by arguably the most respected authority on that number, Isaac Held, is a range of 1.1C-1.8C, with 1.4C as most as median. The calculation is thus (1.1)(1.5)= 1.7 (1.8)(11.5)= 2.7.

        ATTP: “It’s probably now clear that we will not follow an RCP8.5 pathway, but one reason for that is probably because people have highlighted what might happen if we did.”

        To many it has been clear from the beginning of the issue that fossil fuel was a temporary step to fission, fusion, solar and wind. The point I have been making in this post is that the news 97% of the population is being fed it known to be false be yourself and many others. As Larry Kummer said to Stephen Mosher above, it seems your position is that “boys will be boys”; its not your concern if the public discussion is on the wrong facts.

        The article that I highlighted informed the public this week that without actions like Paris that it’s “settled science” that we will have 3.7C-4.8C warming by 2100. You read that in black and white and were fine with that; no need for the editor to be corrected you said.

        Bottom line is that if you are fine with the public being misinformed you cannot rightly count yourself as a worthy professor.

      • Ron,
        RCP8.5 is defined as being a pathway in which the change in forcing by 2100 is 8.5W/m^2. 8.5W/m^2 is more like 2.3 times the change in forcing due to a doubling of CO2. The range that one gets is not quite as simple as purely doing a TCR calculation on this, because there are other uncertainties (such as those associated with carbon cycle feedbacks) that also need to be considered. However, the analysis that is reported in the literature suggests warming of between 2.6C and 4.8C along a high emission pathway.

        Bottom line is that if you are fine with the public being misinformed you cannot rightly count yourself as a worthy professor.

        This is not what I said, and good job personalising this (do you ever wonder why some people may choose to either not engage, or remain pseudonymous if they did?) All I said was that what the article said was defensible. They were explicitly commenting on what would happen if we continued along a high emission pathway. If you were being really pedantic (which seems to be the theme of this post) then strictly speaking they should probably have said “if we continue increasing our emissions” rather than “if we don’t reduce our emissions” but other than that, what they said was clearly fine.

      • kenny, kenny

        “…then strictly speaking they should probably have said “if we continue increasing our emissions” rather than “if we don’t reduce our emissions” but other than that, what they said was clearly fine.”

        Removing the weasel words:

        …then honestly speaking they should have said “if we continue increasing our emissions” rather than “if we don’t reduce our emissions”.

        You little fellas don’t do your cred any good when you reflexively make lame attempts to defend the indefensible, on every little detail of the CAGW dogma.

      • “The range that one gets is not quite as simple as purely doing a TCR calculation on this, because there are other uncertainties (such as those associated with carbon cycle feedbacks) that also need to be considered.”

        Okay, I admit I have no idea what forcing you are talking about here. Carbon cycle in my mind affects the scenario to achieve 850ppm, which I know some strongly believe is unattainable simply by rate ocean uptake of CO2 overtaking emission before that point. I am thinking they came up with their number by inflating the methane and other non-CO2 GHG, along with counting land use as a decrease in albedo (somehow).

        My rough work was to show the ballpark is skewed high from the start. The media then skews that even higher, which you do not dispute. And the media misrepresents that RCP8.5 is the current most likely scenario. And, the media fails to disclose that these projections are based on models that are currently showing 7% skill. The article to be balanced should have pointed out that for the last 20 years the actual warming rate would put us at less than 1.8C in warming by 2100.

        “If you were being really pedantic (which seems to be the theme of this post) then strictly speaking they should probably have said “if we continue increasing our emissions” rather than “if we don’t reduce our emissions” but other than that, what they said was clearly fine.”

        It’s not the we are being fussy. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence even when you are not asking for trillions of dollars and surrender of liberty and sovereignty.

        Why don’t you agree with my proposal that NASA and ESA put up a satellite that would settle the GMST question and determine which past data set best matches the actual GMST?

        Also there are many other risks of catastrophe that mankind must be allocating resources to prepare for. Being hit be an asteroid would be catastrophic and their is undeniable evidence of the risk, as we see them whiz by. I would say a program to deal with that would be expensive but reasonable.

      • ATTP

        “Here’s the key point. There is no such thing as CAGW. It is a construct, typically used by people who would be called “climate science deniers””

        ATTP- What you wrote is simply untrue. Many who advocate taking significant (and expensive) actions today to reduce CO2 emissions justify those actions as “sensible” based solely on the potential that more atmospheric CO2 will result in warming that “will” lead to dangerous changes in conditions. You and others throw out the term “denier’ as a ploy.

        You also wrote
        ‘However, there clearly are risks associated with continuing to emit CO2.”

        That is true and there are also benefits. The is no reliable data to show that there will be “net negative” changes in the climate associated with AGW. You and others make claims not justified by reliable data. Pick a few locations you choose and tell me how you have concluded that the climate there “is likely” to get worse there as a result of AGW. When will the rate of sea level rise increase?

      • Ron,

        Okay, I admit I have no idea what forcing you are talking about here.

        RCP8.5 is defined as a concentration pathway that produces a change in forcing by 2100 of 8.5W/m^2.

        It’s not the we are being fussy. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence even when you are not asking for trillions of dollars and surrender of liberty and sovereignty.

        It’s not an extra-ordinary claim. If we follow a high emission pathway we could warm by between 2.6C and 4.8C by 2100. That you don’t like this, or disagree, does not invalidate this. If anything, suggesting that we probably won’t is the extra-ordinary claim.

        Why don’t you agree with my proposal that NASA and ESA put up a satellite that would settle the GMST question and determine which past data set best matches the actual GMST?

        I don’t disagree with this. I just don’t think spending on science should be settled by a petition.

        Also there are many other risks of catastrophe that mankind must be allocating resources to prepare for.

        Of course, I never said that we should not be considering other important issues. That there are other important issues is not – IMO – an argument against ignoring the risks associated with AGW.

      • Isn’t RCP8.5 rendered irrelevant by the Agreement d’ Paree, kenny? You can stop this foolish argument, now.

      • RCP8.5 assumes that if we go out in our backyard, anywhere we dig or drill we find fossil fuel. As we go to work we trip over coal chunks and have to dodge oil slicks.

        Further it assumes the Arctic will fizz like a warm pop bottle.

        In RCP8.5 the fossil fuel practically crawls to the power plants on its own. Will we burn more fossil fuel? Sure.

        Will this make it a little warmer?
        Sure

        Is any of this realistic? Does any of this have a chance of happening?
        No.

      • Let me spell it out for you children addicted to winning at verbal diarrhea. RCP 8.5 is BAU. BAU will not extend for 50-years into the future unless humans decide to stop innovating. Therefore, 8.5 is a worst case if we continue down the path we are currently on. That’s all. No big mystery or conspiracy.

        The other RCPs represent a range of more likely scenarios of natural and forced decarbonization. The temperatures you get are guesses. Deniers focus on the low #’s and say all will be well. The alarmists focus on the high #’s but maintain strict plausible deniability regarding CAGW in the peer reviewed edifice of truth while sponsoring proxy Chicken Littles.

        Don Don, Kenny-boy does not have a stuffed animal, he sleeps with a Richard Troll doll and sticks needles into hurtful places. Also, Willard is the man behind the curtain at ATTP. Ken just thinks it’s his blog.

      • PA, “RCP8.5 assumes that if we go out in our backyard, anywhere we dig or drill we find fossil fuel. As we go to work we trip over coal chunks and have to dodge oil slicks.”

        12 billion, right now we are at about 7 billion with an emissions rate of 8.35 billion metric tons. “Business as usual” would be an increase to a peak of 14.31 billion metric tons. That is your basic business as usual and that happens to be RCP6.0. RCP8.5 is 25% higher than RCP6.0 making it an engineering worst case. RCP4.5 allows for increased energy efficiency on a per capita basis which is a likely scenario.

        It doesn’t matter if anything is doable, a linear increase is business as usual, an unsustainable exponential increase is worst case, and some basic improvement is a likely case. If you want to get to the best case, you start with the likely case.; If you want to sell fantasies you use the worst case.

        If you want to communicate with people that actually fix stuff, learn their lingo.

      • Therefore, 8.5 is a worst case if we continue down the path we are currently on. That’s all. No big mystery or conspiracy.

        The other RCPs represent a range of more likely scenarios of natural and forced decarbonization. The temperatures you get are guesses.

        Apart from the suggestion that the temperatures are simply guesses (which is clearly nonsense) I see little to disagree with in the above.

      • ATTP: If you fail to recognize that the results of GCMs are nothing more than numerically derived guesses, then you have no clue about the scientific method.

      • If you fail to recognize that the results of GCMs are nothing more than numerically derived guesses, then you have no clue about the scientific method.

        I’m pretty sure guessing isn’t part of the scientific method. Other than that, what you said earlier was quite reasonable.

      • attp, “I’m pretty sure guessing isn’t part of the scientific method. Other than that, what you said earlier was quite reasonable.”

        Well, they don’t call it guess but it is actually. Cloud parameterization is one of the biggest guesses. A brand new PhD at the University of Reading did his thesis on improving the quality of that guess. Just allowing for mid-level, liquid layer topped stratiform clouds reduced sensitivity of their model from around 2.7C to 1.6C degrees. Andrew Barrett I think is his name.

      • > Other than that, what you said earlier was quite reasonable.

        [booming] Enough!

      • Mosher:
        “You must have a lot of fun when considering what insurance to buy, and how much.”

        There is a non-zero chance that space aliens exist and will attack.

        I’m pretty sure you haven’t bought alien invasion insurance.

        But why not?
        Why not follow the precautionary principle for everything?

        You don’t, because you would bankrupt yourself with premiums for every possible but not real and not imminent threats, that’s why.

        Global temperatures are about 0.5C warmer than the 1970s, when cooling was real and identified as a threat.

        Warming appears real, but not a threat, certainly not imminently.

    • The reason the CAGW alarmists are not persuading me there is a serious problem with GHG emissions is that they have not been able to provide a persuasive case of the damages. That is the real issue. Temperature change is not a measure of damage.

      We know that mitigation policies would be damaging to the global economy and therefore to human well being. However, we don’t know that the proposed mitigation policies would deliver any significant benefits in terms of reduced damages. That’s the reason the CAGW alarmists are failing to make their case. It’s not about physics; it’s about costs and benefits and the human consequences.

      • ““We can certainly choose to describe something as catastrophic, or – I guess…”

        Jim D, my definition would be that the term refers to the emotion of visualizing a state in which one’s resources to cope are overwhelmed. Under such definitions world war or financial collapse or global natural disaster can be seen to fit the definition. In actuality, it does not matter what the state, humankind will adapt and build a new baseline for defining success whatever the circumstance. Although my father would agree the Great Depression and WWII are things that were best avoided they still contained many of the best times of his life.

      • attp, I am still a bit mystified by the C in CAGW denial. James Hansen titled his most famous book, “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity”

        Ya – those with Climate Anxiety Disorder only like Hansen until his delusions become indefensible. Then they run away from him.

    • Peter,
      Given that CAGW is in your own head, that might explain the problem. You’re listening to people who don’t really exist.

      • Responded below, accidentally posted at the wrong top level.

      • By the way, your response is avoidance; this is a common approach of the real deniers and is a sign of intellectually dishonesty. You avoided addressing the point raised I made and instead disagreed with the term CAGW alarmists, yet you incessantly use branding terms yourself.

      • Given that CAGW is in your own head, that might explain the problem. You’re listening to people who don’t really exist.

        News Flash! Jim Hansen does not exist.

      • ATTP gives us another demo of why debating with climate warriors like him is a waste of time. They’ll boldly make assertions obviously false, chaff tossed into the discussion. But even for ATTP this is a gem, directed at Peter,

        “Given that CAGW is in your own head”

        This is quite daft given that I’ve given several dozen cites of studies in the p-r literature describing futures of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming based on RCP8.5 — then described in lurid terms by the general media.

        “It showed that if greenhouse gas emissions continued at their present rate, the Antarctic ice shelves would be in danger of collapse by the century’s end.” “Climate change map shows Boston is an Atlantis in waiting.” “These Cities May Soon Be Uninhabitable Thanks to Climate Change.“ “Under a business-as-usual scenario, which assumes that there will be no significant change in people’s attitudes and priorities, Earth’s surface temperature is forecast to rise by 7.9oC over the land…”

        And on and on. After decades of these in the headlines, ATTP denies the news.

        Read more at: http://fabiusmaximus.com/2015/11/05/visions-of-dark-climate-future-90153/

      • Fabius,
        I think you’re illustrating why debating climate delayers like yourself is a waste of time. Here’s the key point. There is no such thing as CAGW. It is a construct, typically used by people who would be called “climate science deniers” if it weren’t for the fact that they whine when people do so. However, there clearly are risks associated with continuing to emit CO2. Consequently there is a chance that the impacts of doing so could be severe. They may be sufficiently severe that they would be described as catastrophic were they to occur. Here’s the main point (try and concentrate now, I’m confident you can do this); they are not guaranteed to occur. The chance of such impacts occuring depends on what pathway we follow in future. If we choose to follow a high emission pathway they become more likely than if we were to reduce our emissions. Hence, there are people who are justifiably concerned about following such a pathway, since they would rather we reduced the risks of such an outcome. On the other hand, there are others (yourself, it seems) who would rather we didn’t talk about such things, because presumably it makes it harder for you to argue that we shouldn’t do anything yet. Closing down the debate, essentially.

        So, to summarise, the only “catastrophic” associated with AGW is the possibility of these outcomes if we follow a pathway where such outcomes become likely. Those who discuss this typically do so so as to motivate avoiding these outcomes. Simply because the word “catastrophic” can occur in the same sentence as AGW doesn’t suddenly validate the CAGW construct. Most people who do discuss the possibility of catastrophic outcomes do so because they think we should aim to avoid them, not because they think they’re a guaranteed outcome. On the other hand, most people who use CAGW, then go on to say things like this.

      • I’m through debating with alarmists and deniers. It’s a waste of my time. As you know, I write about 10,000-words per day about climate that has had zero impact on swaying anyone nor on advancing the science, so you know that I view that my time is extremely valuable to me. That is why I pull out the “waste my time” argument as the coup de gras blow when I want to vansquish my lowly opponent in one swell floop. Typically, it really means that I will make five or six additional posts in an effort to get in the last word before I go back to my echo-chamber to celebrate my victory.

      • There is no such thing as CAGW

        Does that mean you understand that warming is real but harm from that warming is nebulous while benefit of that warming is wilfully ignored?

      • You are pathetic, kenny:

        “There is no such thing as CAGW. It is a construct, typically used by people who would be called “climate science deniers” if it weren’t for the fact that they whine when people do so. However, there clearly are risks associated with continuing to emit CO2.”

        You clowns got your constructs-“climate science deniers”-and we got ours. You Chicken Littles have been hollering for the past couple of decades that AGW is going to result in Catastrophe. We call that CAGW. Get over it.

      • Certainly the use of the term CAGW makes the debate nebulous. Are the anti-CAGW people saying that 4 C warming is impossible under BAU, or admitting it is possible but saying 4 C is not catastrophic for anyone? Note also, that even at 3 C warming, continental and polar areas could have 5 C or more, because global warming is not uniform.

      • What are you talking about, yimmy? The Agreement d’ Paree says we are going to keep it under 2C. Stop with the catastrophic scenarios, already. Little kenny doesn’t like that talk.

      • Indeed, Don, the debate has moved on past you people because of the global realization that mitigating each degree of warming is rather more cost-effective than having to adapt to it, which is the basis of the Paris agreement.

      • You are delusional, yimmy.

      • JimD: Itty-bitty little Donnie Don Don is right. Climate action has no traction and Paris just papered over this to give folks like you some hope. Why do you think Hansen is having an aneurysm? The problem will not be seen as serious unless there is a major ice sheet collapse. Until then, it’s burn baby, burn. If you really care about global climate warming, you should lobby the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Counsel and Greenpeace to get behind nuclear power.

      • Horst, yes, I am more in line with Hansen and Emanuel on nuclear power. It serves at least as a stop-gap until something cleaner comes along. The mitigation need is such that quick imperfect solutions are better than waiting. I disagree with Germany and Japan backing off nuclear in the wake of Fukushima. Even France has plans to phase out nuclear in favor of renewables, which I don’t understand. The US needs to step up its effort and start to build modern nuclear plants. It is safer now, but probably not a solution for some countries that we may not trust with it, so it will be limited in application.

      • There is no such thing as CAGW.

        However, there clearly are risks associated with continuing to emit CO2. … They may be sufficiently severe that they would be described as catastrophic were they to occur.

        It’s like debating with Sybil.

      • My friend little horse grabber is telling it like it is, yimmy. The so-called agreement in Paris is not a solution, not even a step forward.

        It creates the false impression that something substantive is being done and it makes meaningful mitigation less likely. Whew, the world is saved. We can relax now.

        Trying to demonize and silence unbelievers and shameless alarmism has failed, yimmy. Your crowd needs to try something else.

        Open and honest science.

        Open and honest debate.

      • It’s like debating with Sybil.

        Do you not get the point? AGW is real. We can define it scientifically. CAGW is not. At best, it’s conditional on our future choices and, even then, will always be a judgement. Science cannot, by itself, define something as catastrophic.

      • You are not a smart guy, kenny.

      • ATTP: ” If we choose to follow a high emission pathway they become more likely than if we were to reduce our emissions. Hence, there are people who are justifiably concerned about following such a pathway, since they would rather we reduced the risks of such an outcome. On the other hand, there are others (yourself, it seems) who would rather we didn’t talk about such things, because presumably it makes it harder for you to argue that we shouldn’t do anything yet. Closing down the debate, essentially.”

        ATTP, it seems that we should step back again and introduce ourselves. I believe, and think most here do, we need to solve problems. The more the better. We did not become involved in this debate because we reflexively want to interfere with human progress. It is quite the opposite. We just come with a different assumption of how to go about that.

        I was not against phasing out CFCs or tightening emission standards for particulates from smoke stacks. I am all for clean coal, scrubbers and catalytic converters, etc… I am a Boyscout. I believe in leaving cleaner than how I found it. Our first law is be trustworthy. I feel there are people giving themselves license to exaggerate because it is for a noble cause. My theory is that they believe it is necessary to exaggerate because the other side is recalcitrant and thus the only way to gain political support for desired action is to misinform the young and less experienced to garner their voting power.

        The untended consequence of this dishonesty, however, is to sacrifice your credibility. Thus you become less persuasive to those you saw as recalcitrant, who really are people that are now also skeptical of messengers as well as the message.

        The IPCC board, (Folland in particular) thought that the message was more important than the science when they pressured Michael Mann to fix up his chart for TAR (third assessment report 2001). This put many, into a dilemma. Keith Briffa, for example, decided to go along with having his data truncated to 1960 to hide the decline. Authors like John Christy who got wind of what was going on did not sit so still but stayed quiet for long enough. Maybe others did too until MM(2003) and the climategate(2009) brought more out. These are the real scientists who see that humanity relies on the credibility of science, of the credibility of the western world. Without it we will leave future generations of scientists in a pickle when needing to highlight a myriad of challenges we are facing now and the ones yet to surface. They need their voice stay credible.

        Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy. Live it, demand it.

      • ATTP, I don’t think you can believe in the actual scientific method AND believe in statements like this:

        Science cannot, by itself, define something as catastrophic.

        That isn’t really a consistent position. The K-T Boundary immediately comes to mind.

      • That isn’t really a consistent position. The K-T Boundary immediately comes to mind.

        How did science, by itself, define it as catastrophic? We can certainly choose to describe something as catastrophic, or – I guess – define some change as catastrophic if we wish. Science, however, is about understanding and quantifying. How we choose to actually describe something is, however, typically a judgement. Now, we could spend a long time arguing about this, but I really can’t be bothered. If you want to suggest that it is possible to define something a catastrophic, fine, my point was simply that it still requires some kind of definition, or a judgement.

      • aTTP:

        IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007

        2.2.4 Risk of catastrophic or abrupt change

        The possibility of abrupt climate change and/or abrupt changes in the earth system triggered by climate change, with potentially catastrophic consequences, cannot be ruled out.

        https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg3/en/ch2s2-2-4.html

      • Note “risk”. CAGW should be replaced with “RAGW” risky climate change. Then I think everyone would be saying it as it is. Deal?

      • Jim D:

        Note “catastrophic” — as written by the authors of WGIII of the IPCC in 2007. People who refer to CAGW are simply taking the IPCC at its own word. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?

      • opluso,
        I fail to see how that differs from what I’ve been saying. There are risks associated with continuing to emit GHGs. Some of those risks could lead to impacts that we might describe as catastrophic. This is, however, not guaranteed and whether or not we describe something as catastrophic is a judgement – an obvious one at times, I will admit.

      • aTTP:

        You accused others, essentially, of making things up “in their own heads.” You. Were. Wrong.

        Trying to parse different statements does not change that fact.

      • You accused others, essentially, of making things up “in their own heads.” You. Were. Wrong.

        There is no such thing as CAGW, at least not in the same sense as AGW, which is real and well-defined.

      • …and Then There’s Physics: “There is no such thing as CAGW, at least not in the same sense as AGW, which is real and well-defined.”

        AGW real? Quite possibly.

        Well-defined? In your dreams!

      • aTTP:

        There is no such thing as CAGW, at least not in the same sense as AGW, which is real and well-defined.

        It’s all in your head.

      • It’s all in your head.

        Do you feel better now ;-)

      • We have been told that AGW will result in numerous catastrophic consequences if we don’t repent, kenny. That’s where the C comes from. You are either dumb, playing dumb, or you are being disingenuous. We ain’t impressed.

      • IQ test for little kenny:

        Would business as usual RCP8.5 result in AGW, or CAGW?

        You can make up your own acronym. AAGW might suit you better. ApocalypticAGW.

      • It comes down to whether you consider a 4 C change catastrophic or not. Perhaps for some people it is not, as they will now be able to grow citrus fruits in their non-tropical backyards. For others, who have a broader perspective than their backyard, it may be catastrophic. It is a very loose word, and depends very much on the person’s values, which is why it is not scientifically defined in WG1.

      • It comes down to whether you consider a 4 C change catastrophic or not.

        A truer catastrophe might be your getting away with making up numbers to throw out.

        Meanwhile, actual rates of warming never even made it to the AR4 promise of 2C per century and are falling:

      • Poor, yimmy. What your pal kenny has been pretending is that skeptics made up CAGW in their little heads. But skeptics didn’t start the story that AGW is an exsistential threat. The greatest threat faced by mankind..blah..blah..blah.

        This is the kind of crap that is the equivalent of the ‘sky is falling’ from the hysterical AGW Chicken Littles:

        https://uk.news.yahoo.com/cop21-obama-hails-paris-climate-043949503.html#IOwpa8u

        “US President Barack Obama has hailed the global pact reached in Paris to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and reverse the effects of climate change as a “turning point for the world”. The “historic” agreement represents the best chance to “save the one planet that we’ve got”, Obama said.

        His remarks came after nearly 200 countries committed to limiting global temperature rise to less than 2C by the end of the century – with an inclination to curb it further to 1.5C – after more than two weeks of tough negotiations in the French capital. Under the landmark agreement, countries are legally bound to set emissions targets and review them periodically, although the objectives themselves are set voluntarily and are not subject to international oversight.

        The deal has elicited a largely positive response from governments, environmental groups, campaigners and scientists, but some critics say the measures are not ambitious enough.

        Climate scientists have warned that there is a danger of irreversible and catastrophic climate change if global carbon emissions do not peak soon.”

        What are we supposed to have saved the planet from, yimmy? I will help you: CAGW.

      • Let’s get a less evasive answer as to whether you consider a 4 C change catastrophic or not, first. This is important in order to frame the debate properly. The IPCC projections are for 4 C under some scenarios. Is that catastrophic to you? If it is, you may term a 4 C warming as CAGW, and what you are denying is the 4 C part not the “C” part. It’s a very simple question.

      • Are you claiming you asked me a question, yimmy? You made a statement which is irrelevant as to whether skeptics made up CAGW in their heads, or not. Try to pay closer attention. Anyway, enough of this foolishness. The one planet we have is saved. It’s party time!

      • Don, my question was more to TE and opluso, but you can answer too if you want, not that I care what your answer is.

      • Jim D, since you’re not picky who answers…

        I think from pre-industrial to 2100 an 4C anomaly (or delta T) is beneficial to most land habitats, especially since most of that warming would be in winters and polar ward latitudes. The one and only big problem is sea level rise SLR.

        So the question is can you imagine that in 2100 humankind will be advanced enough to figure solutions to that challenge. From today’s technology I can see several strategies to consider.

        1) Build dykes. This would also protect against storm surge and tsunami.

        2) Seed Antarctic and Greenland clouds. We have silver iodide technology now. I’m sure nanotechnology and colloidal advances will have much better efficiency than a lab chemical (with silver in it). Building glacier winter ice faster than it melts will offset warming effect.

        3) Dredge shore areas. This would have the added benefit of creating natural dykes will pulling out water displacement. Dredging would require a lot of energy but we should have mega-power from fusion by then. Fusion powered robotic dredges working 24/7 pulling out mega-tonnes of displacement.

        4) we could increase Earth albedo to make it cooler with artificial sea spume of bio-engineered reflective plankton. But this is my least favorite since I like the warm. But it is still preferable to losing the CO2, which is a fertilizer for crops and is much harder to get in the air in a hurry if we needed to. You see, any other catastrophe will cause sudden cooling; nuclear winter, asteroid strike, super volcano, etc.. The all kick aerosols into the air to block sunlight. Any one of these would resume the Quaternary Ice Age, for which we have been lucky enough to be enjoying a temporary reprieve from for the last 10,000 years. So having a controllable temperature knob to use when we need to would be great.

      • This seemed to be in response to my comment about kenny yammering about CAGW being invented by skeptics:

        little yimmy proclaims:”It comes down to whether you consider a 4 C change catastrophic or not.”

        No it doesn’t. You don’t get to frame the debate. You are just an anonymous little blog character.

      • ATTP

        How did science, by itself, define it as catastrophic? We can certainly choose to describe something as catastrophic, or – I guess – define some change as catastrophic if we wish. Science, however, is about understanding and quantifying. How we choose to actually describe something is, however, typically a judgement. Now, we could spend a long time arguing about this, but I really can’t be bothered. If you want to suggest that it is possible to define something a catastrophic, fine, my point was simply that it still requires some kind of definition, or a judgement.

        Science is a concept. It does no work by itself or in a group. Your use of the term “science” as a rational actor that accomplishes real-world tasks rather than as an abstraction is clear and convincing evidence that you have zero appreciation and scant understanding of the scientific method. When folks like you claim to be “doing” science, well, I don’t need to spell that fraudian slip for the peanut gallery.

        FYI, living, breathing geologist animals (not “science”) defined K-T as catastrophic… a mass extinction based on field data all over the planet. It’s now as obvious as the nose on your face. Perhaps you’re the type who needs a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows.

        Of course you can’t be bothered with anything, no need to keep mentioning that. That’s why you responded, right? That’s why you produce a few gigabytes of words every day fighting deniers because you can’t be bothered to waste your precious time. I really can’t be bothered to go into the details, but I am sure everyone reading this knows what sort of pop psychology can be easily applied to your kind of behavior.

        Science tells us that your “time-bother” catch-phrase is a mask you deploy to hide the yawning abyss that contains your insecurities. This also helps your acolytes and sickopants maintain their delusions of wholeness as they reflexively cheer your shabbily disguised passive aggression.

        FYI, the first step in the scientific method is to make a series of guesses. The last guess standing wins.

      • ATTP:

        “We can certainly choose to describe something as catastrophic, or – I guess – define some change as catastrophic if we wish. but I really can’t be bothered.”

        Since you are in effect arguing about the definition of “is”, that’s quite wise. Nobody should be bothering with your line of argument about the meaning of “catastrophic”. It is quite feckless.

        Even for you.

      • The question I asked is because I want to know what about CAGW they are arguing with, since it is such a vaguely defined and unofficial term. Perhaps I won’t get an answer, but it helps to know what they are talking about when they say CAGW is not an issue to be concerned with. We see one who says 4 C is net beneficial, against all known published reports, so what do the others think? The question rephrased to be clearer: Does 4 C of warming (since pre-industrial) risk catastrophe or not?

      • That explains your inappropriate question, yimmy. You are on the wrong thread. Why don’t you write a guest post on that BS.

      • > When folks like you claim to be “doing” science, well, I don’t need to spell that fraudian slip for the peanut gallery.

        Of course you don’t, since apophasis works so well, and of course AT can’t be doing science if we assume that science is a concept. One can’t do concepts. Or if one does, it’s not by virtue of doing science.

        FYI, the “science as guesswork” has been put forward by Popper to counter the conventionalist conception of science (which held definitional games as sacrosant) that pervaded in his youth, and it seems that Wikipedians can define the K-T boundary without using the C word:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretaceous%E2%80%93Paleogene_boundary

        ***

        In any case:

      • I like the way people change their view of risk depending on the issue

        “There are risks associated with continuing to emit GHGs. Some of those risks could lead to impacts that we might describe as catastrophic.”

        “There are risks associated with continuing to accept syrian refugees. Some of those risks could lead to impacts that we might describe as catastrophic.”

        interesting thought exercise on pre cautionary principle and such

      • and Then There’s Physics: There is no such thing as CAGW. It is a construct, typically used by people who would be called “climate science deniers” if it weren’t for the fact that they whine when people do so.

        If AGW will produce no “catastrophes”, what’s the big deal? Why the rush to reduce CO2 emissions?

        CAGW, or “catastrophic anthropogenic greenhouse-gas-induced global warming”, is simply a short-hand for all of the catastrophes that COP21 was organized to prevent. Lists of these “hypothetical constructs” (that is, lists of catastrophes that we have been warned of) abound. Without catastrophes, the RCP8.5 scenario is benign, hardly deserving a label such as “worst case”.

      • Steven Mosher: interesting thought exercise on pre cautionary principle and such

        You must have a lot of fun when considering what insurance to buy, and how much.

      • > lists of catastrophes that we have been warned of

        Denizens (go team!) and other promoters of the CAGW meme colligate a few list of them. A recurring item is the death of the free world as we know it. A few days Matt King Coal was lukewarmingly uncovering a conspiracy to kill the poors. The Editor is currently suffering from a terminological breakdown as we speak.

        None of these Hayekian lists are scientific, mind you, a lack that should only bother partisans of the linear model. Right?

      • Willard: A recurring item is the death of the free world as we know it. A few days Matt King Coal was lukewarmingly uncovering a conspiracy to kill the poors.

        What a bizarre comment.

        I realize that I was ambiguous in referring to the lists of catastrophes said to follow CO2 induced warming: I was referring to the catastrophes warned of by Ehrlich, Holdren, Schneider, Hansen, AAAS, etc.and alluded to in the “agreement” from COP21. Are you denying that they have warned of catastrophes that can be listed?

      • Fabius,
        I realise that the chance of us having a reasonable discussion is vanishing fast, but even I thought you were above making things up about what I’ve said. Was the following intentional, or not? Seems pretty hard to have simply been a mistake.

        Here’s what I said

        We can certainly choose to describe something as catastrophic, or – I guess – define some change as catastrophic if we wish. Science, however, is about understanding and quantifying. How we choose to actually describe something is, however, typically a judgement. Now, we could spend a long time arguing about this, but I really can’t be bothered.

        Here’s what you’ve quoted me as saying:

        “We can certainly choose to describe something as catastrophic, or – I guess – define some change as catastrophic if we wish. but I really can’t be bothered.”

        See the difference?

        Also your response makes it hard to see it as a simple mistake

        Since you are in effect arguing about the definition of “is”, that’s quite wise. Nobody should be bothering with your line of argument about the meaning of “catastrophic”. It is quite feckless.

        Given that I wasn’t arguing about the definition of something (I was simply pointing out that it had to be defined), your response seems rather odd. Again, was this an intentional misrepresentation, or not?

      • Jim D:

        I’m afraid I’ve lost the thread so this may not reach you but I disagree with you and aTTP when you argue that skeptics who use the phrase CAGW are doing anything other than responding to official (scientific and political) declarations.

        …since it is such a vaguely defined and unofficial term.

        That’s just wrong. “Catastrophic” is officially defined as 2C over pre-industrial. Did you sleep through Paris?

        We are told repeatedly that it’s an existential crisis and a threat to all life on the planet. Two degrees celsius.

        You can look it up.

        I happen to disagree with the official, science-based opinion. Given that you chose 4C as your definitional starting point, perhaps you do as well.

        Kent

      • > I realize that I was ambiguous in referring to the lists of catastrophes said to follow CO2 induced warming […]

        Do you also realize how disingenuous your Inhofe cheeseburger “If AGW will produce no “catastrophes”, what’s the big deal” is?

      • That’s just wrong. “Catastrophic” is officially defined as 2C over pre-industrial. Did you sleep through Paris?

        Can you provide a link? I’m well aware that 2C is a target, but I’ve yet to see it defined as “catastrophic” if we exceed 2C.

      • attp, I am still a bit mystified by the C in CAGW denial. James Hansen titled his most famous book, “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity”

      • I am with little kenny on this one. The official line on 2C is that it maybe might could be “mildly problematic”. That’s why 40,000 hysterical warmies assembled at the soiree d’ Paree.
        To save the planet and the children from “mildly problematic”.

      • Google:scientists say global warming catastrophic

        https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=scientists+say+global+warming+catastrophic

        About 8,630,000 results (0.45 seconds)

        We always enjoy little dogmatic warmies making fools of themselves. But this thread is beyond ridiculous. STFU, kenny, willy, yimmy et al. You are not doing the cause any good.

      • Willard: Do you also realize how disingenuous your Inhofe cheeseburger “If AGW will produce no “catastrophes”, what’s the big deal” is?

        No. You’ll have to be explicit.

        I was responding to the assertion by aTTP that there is no such thing as CAGW. He’s wrong: plenty of people (I named 4 plus the AAAS who send me alarmed requests for donations regularly) have been warning us that AGW will produce “catastrophes” (disasters, etc). Without disputing that we have been warned of catastrophes, you wrote a mockery, intended to be humorous (I chuckled myself at being called “Matt King Coal” — since I respect Nat King Cole), but I repeat you did not dispute my assertion.

        So, …, I disagree with aTTP, but there is a simple logical conclusion if he is correct; if there is not such thing as CAGW, then there is no point in debating CO2 reductions.

      • Matt

        “You must have a lot of fun when considering what insurance to buy, and how much.”

        here is a fun one

        C02 is a trace gas and there fore can have no effect.
        only a tiny percentage of refugee’s are ISIS sympathizers,

        It would fascinating to map all the climateball “moves” and tactics from the climate debate onto the immigration debate..

      • and Then There’s Physics: Can you provide a link? I’m well aware that 2C is a target, but I’ve yet to see it defined as “catastrophic” if we exceed 2C.

        Can we clarify something? Are you asserting that no one has been warning anyone who will listen that AGW will produce catastrophes unless urgent and expensive actions are taken to reduce CO2 emissions? ( Do you think COP21 was about something else? That IPCC was formed to forestall something negligible like a small migration in anchovie populations?)

        My claim, with references that can be expanded to more references, is that warnings of catastrophe have been prevalent since Hansen in 1988, and CAGW is a clear reference to them (catastrophes and warnings of catastrophes.)

      • > I was responding to the assertion by aTTP that there is no such thing as CAGW.

        I thought it was a question. An irrelevant question, to boot. CAGW is simply a strawman simply because the scientific theory is AGW. The C is added to AGW as a slur to minimize it. Considering that minimization is a part of denial, I’m not sure minimizing AGW is the best way to let go of the D word.

        Do you often respond using irrelevant questions, MattStat?

      • Matthew,
        I think I’m making a fairly simple point (which is essentially what Willard has just said) that there isn’t really something called “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” or CAGW. Of course there are people who point out that the impacts of AGW could be catastrophic and the very same people argue for emission reductions in order to minimise the risk out that outcome. That doesn’t, however, suddenly create something called CAGW, at least not in the sense of something that is definitively happening. What is happening is AGW.

        I guess you could argue that you want to define the possible impacts as CAGW (although I’m not sure that makes sense, since it is the impacts that could be catastrophic, rather than the anthropogenically-driven warming itself) and label anyone who warns of them as an alarmist. However, if that is the case you should probably make that clearer and should maybe be adding a C to anything that carries risks and label anyone who warns of those risks an alarmist.

      • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catastrophism
        Good morning Willard. We can always count on you as being the memory well of ClimateBall. You might be correct that the KT Wiki nary mentions the obvious and well understood catastrophic nature of that event. Why bother to check, I trust you implicitly in such trivial matters. However, the Wiki on catatrophism has a sub-section on KT with a link to:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_event
        which mentions catastrophe thrice and links to:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_catastrophic_risk
        which has a sub-section on anthropomorphic global worrying. You people need to get the Weasel to talk to people who know people to get this fixed. Oh, snap. The sky is falling, the sky is falling:
        http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2015/11/23/cagw-rears-its-ugly-head/

        The way you chicos con bigotes (coined by Roberto the late, great laborer-philosopher) love to prance and mince about words reminds me of the greatest advise given by semanticist Korzybski to pilots and geologists alike: The map is not the terrain.

        Please don’t respond, I don’t want you to waste your precocious time.

      • “CAGW is simply a strawman simply because the scientific theory is AGW. The C is added to AGW as a slur to minimize it. Considering that minimization is a part of denial, I’m not sure minimizing AGW is the best way to let go of the D word.:”

        But the conversation is NOT about the science. It’s rarely just about the science.

        test: try to argue that AGW could never be catastrophic. See how that works? it dont.

        When people object to CAGW they are talking about the manner in which people focus on the potential catastrophic results of AGW.

        denying that we think AGW could be catastrophic is just straight up bad faith. WE DO THINK AGW COULD BE CATASTROPHIC. we argue that,
        we rely on that, we defend that when challenged. the science supports that… total collapse of marine eco systems is an example.

        2C and 1.5C is ABOUT avoiding CAGW.

        we basically need to own CAGW, cause the science supports it.
        if ECS is more like 4C and we continue BAU, then yes.. you have a chance at some catastrophic shit happening, dont forget ocean acidification, where is BBD?

      • if there is not such thing as CAGW, then there is no point in debating CO2 reductions.

        Why do you say that? Why do the consequences have to be catastrophic for us to need to reduce CO2 emissions. Why can’t they just be negative or severe?

      • kenny, kenny

        What is it in AGW that has had you people running around for decades hollering about getting rid of fossil fuel use to save the planet? I will help you. It’s the C, kenny. Without the C you bozos wouldn’t be hollering. You bozos are claiming that unchecked AGW is going to result in climate catastrophe. Skeptics didn’t make that up. Have you no shame, kenny? Just stop it! You are worse than the skydragons.

      • Willard writes

        “The C is added to AGW as a slur to minimize it. Considering that minimization is a part of denial, I’m not sure minimizing AGW is the best way to let go of the D word.”

        If the goal is to prevent the implementation of costly CO2 mitigation actions then it makes sense. Those that justify the costs of many CO2 mitigation actions have attempted to convince the public that the highly unlikely potential outcomes are more probable than not. If highly net negative changes to the climate are not likely, then spending vast amounts to mitigate CO2 emissions makes no sense.

      • This sub-thread is so entertaining that I keep wanting to jump in, but Ken, Jimmy and Willard are doing so well tripping themselves up I’d hate to disturb their rhythm.

        Don, do you think they’ll ever stop tying that rope you feed them into nooses?

      • It’s funny ain’t it, Jonathan. It’s like Chicken Little protesting: “I didn’t say anything about the sky falling. You guys made that up.” Whatever credibility these clowns had, they lost it on this thread.

      • Good evening, venerable anonymous geologist!

        Korzybski’s work’s a very serious farce, but you love his the map is not the territory (a bit different than terrain), so at least you have everything to understand why the very concept of CAGW can’t work.

        There’s no such theory that we can call CAGW. It’s simply AGW. There is of course catastrophe theory, but that has very little to do with the C in CAGW. CAGW is just the padding of AGW with the alarmism meme, a meme that seems quite popular amont at least half of the population of geologists.

        The Moshpit is of course right in saying that we need to own CAGW. The first step I am suggesting is to distinguish it from the denizens’ and Judy’s favorite meme. Why? The simplest reason is because the map is not the territory.

        The second step is be to remind that AGW has consequences and risks. So I’d rewrite this as AGW => C, where the C is “consequences.” Dumping CO2 in the atmosphere like there’s no tomorrow is just not wise anymore. There will be consequences.

        Science can tell us what kind of consequences we might be dealing with. Sciences can’t tell us which ones will be catastrophic, which one will not. Objectively speaking, nature bats last and if she was an entity to which we could attribute agency, she would not care less about us:

        It’s often hard to bite the hand that feeds you, but sometimes it’s required. Now is such a time for you, oh anonymous geologist.

      • and Then There’s Physics: Of course there are people who point out that the impacts of AGW could be catastrophic and the very same people argue for emission reductions in order to minimise the risk out that outcome. That doesn’t, however, suddenly create something called CAGW, at least not in the sense of something that is definitively happening.

        There is a lot that is “definitively happening” in CAGW, though the latest “happening”, COP21, is over now. (“happening” is a 60s usage for a gathering of people doing something interesting.) When advocates of urgent CO2 reduction to avoid catastrophe stop their advocacy based on anticipations of catastrophic consequences of CO2 increase, then there will not be any CAGW happening. CAGW is as real as Sen Whitehouse trying to investigate “deniers” under RICO, and as real as the EPA trying to restrict CO2 emissions. No one has claimed that CAGW “suddenly” emerged, only that it is real.

        Of course there are people who point out that the impacts of AGW could be catastrophic and the very same people argue for emission reductions in order to minimise the risk out that outcome. That’s what I and others have written, and it is why CAGW is real.

      • Joseph: Why do the consequences have to be catastrophic for us to need to reduce CO2 emissions. Why can’t they just be negative or severe?

        That is an interesting pair of questions. Is there anybody advocating urgent action against fossil fuels to avoid consequences of CO2 that will just be negative or severe?

      • Matthew, I think it was pointed out earlier that the 2C threshold is not considered to be a point at which the consequences are considered to be catastrophic, but should be avoided nonetheless.

      • Joseph | December 16, 2015 at 2:24 pm |
        if there is not such thing as CAGW, then there is no point in debating CO2 reductions.

        Why do you say that? Why do the consequences have to be catastrophic for us to need to reduce CO2 emissions. Why can’t they just be negative or severe?

        More CO2 has a massive provable benefit.

        Further – more CO2 increases plant temperature tolerance and reduces water consumption. Hence the “blooming deserts”.

        Given the massive obvious benefits what is the proven harm? Well… the “harm” to this point has been the zonderistic carping from global warmers

        It is obvious at this point, 18 years into a 30-35 year pause, that we have many decades if not centuries to get to 2°C. We might as well, given the glacial pace that disaster is coming our way, make the global warmers show proof positive that warming from more CO2 is a net negative before we make a huge and massively expensive change in course.

        Cutting CO2 now is pouring our wine on the ground. We are sacrificing a tangible benefit at great cost, based on myths and rumors of harm.
        .

      • Willard, you have lost it. Grasping for a Mosher lifeline, how pathetic. Next we get the anonymouse argument. Oh, boy. That really hurts. You are venturing into Spencer territory without a map. That is first order evidence that you lost the CAGW debate.

        Nature bats last is like “doing science”. It’s first order data you know nothing about nature. If you had said nature bats, there might be hope for you, but alas, a clever dilettante is only useful at cocktail parties.

        Words don’t matter. We are going to burn all the coal and the tar, then smoke the resin. None of the silly control knob models and manipulated proxy studies amount to a hill of beans because we are screwed if we stay on 8.5.

        You are keep trying to defuse a bomb that has already gone off. It’s time to get off the denier bandwagon and get real about what can be accomplished with the Ted Cruz’s, James Imhoff’s and Hillary Clinton’s of the world.

        Oh, wait, that’s no fun because reality is such a bummer, man. This whole exercise for people of your mental makeup is the setup for an “I told you so” moment.

        Don’t fret, the Yanks will pull the Chestnuts from the fire.

      • > It’s time to get off the denier bandwagon and get real about what can be accomplished with the Ted Cruz’s, James Imhoff’s and Hillary Clinton’s of the world.

        Don’t forget the Denizens in your bandwagonning, Regions that Lie Between Normal Faults.

      • ==> “we basically need to own CAGW,”

        Another argument about definitions that goes nowhere. Reminds me of estimation vs. measurement and “Is Muller a “skeptic.”

        The ownership of CAGW depends on the definition and the definer. When it’s definition is a strawman that’s employed for rhetorical purposes. then “skeptics” own it.

        There are some “realists” who define CAGW with a very high degree of certainty. That’s what they own.

        Other “realists” own a definition that continued ACO2 emissions poses a risk of significantly harmful outcomes.

        It’s all about accountability.

      • CAGW doesnt exists.

        until you try to deny it

        https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/ecs-2k-again/

        https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/curry-for-dinner/

        https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/censoring-their-own-research/

        https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/tolerably-tepid/

        I will note this.

        You have a bunch of republicans and one of them says “ban all muslims” And of course you get

        Side A) There you go the truth of republican evil
        Side B) he is not a true republican.

        You have a bunch of muslims, and a few of them say “Caliphate”
        Side A) there you go the truth of islamic evil
        Side B) they are not true muslims

        You have a bunch of warmists and a few of them say… Planet fever
        we are driving off the cliff, you doctor says you have cancer, ice free arctic, catastrophic changes to marine eco systems. Civil wars…
        blah blah blah.. the whole narrative is a horror story

        Side A) see!! CAGW
        Side B) that is not the true science… err wait. we meant to say severe

      • Bandwagon, to god-damned hell with Bandwagons! We have no Bandwagons. In fact, we don’t need Bandwagons. I don’t have to show you any stinking Bandwagon.

      • My friend horse grabber is killing you, willy. You should run from here. I wonder is he is related to horse buckhorse, the Teutonic actor who portrayed the young Mexican gunfighter in Magnificent Seven.

        Before you go away with your tail tucked between your legs like kenny did, do you know what Mosher is talking about, willy?

      • > I chuckled myself at being called “Matt King Coal”

        Here’s Matt King Coal:

        The climate change agenda is a conspiracy against the poor

        http://new.spectator.co.uk/2015/12/the-green-delusion/

        You’re just MattStat, and seems to prefer Inhofe cheeseburgers:

      • Willard, oh that’s the real Matt King Coal. I don’t agree with that conspiracy ideation.

        But back to the question, If CO2 will produce no catastrophes, what is the urgency in reducing the amount of it? We shall have severe consequences from neglecting flood control and irrigation, as we are doing.

        I can’t help it if Sen Inhofe agrees with me; no matter what you think, some of the people who agree with you are ignorant or idiots, as are some of those who agree with me.

      • > But back to the question, If CO2 will produce no catastrophes, what is the urgency in reducing the amount of it?

        I thought it was a response to something AT said, but let’s stand that aside for the moment.

        The question presumes that only catastrophes matter to the case of mitigating CO2. If you look at our new inhouse geologist guru’s Wiki links to Impact events and global catastrophic risk (notwithstanding that one of them rests on Doug Bostrom’s sci-fi philosophical know-how), you can immediately recognize that these are not the only kinds of risks that would require mitigation.

        Therefore the question, besides being a red herring, presumes a false dilemma, false dilemma that helps hammer in the CAGW meme.

        Hope this helps.

      • Willard: If you look at our new inhouse geologist guru’s Wiki links to Impact events and global catastrophic risk (notwithstanding that one of them rests on Doug Bostrom’s sci-fi philosophical know-how)

        If we are to consider global catastrophic risk, then I would repeat that “CAGW is real.”

      • > If we are to consider global catastrophic risk, then I would repeat that “CAGW is real.”

        Nice bait and switch. Let’s follow it through.

        There’s no need to consider global catastrophic risk to assume that “CAGW is real”. The meme exists quite alright. Memes too are real. That meme is independent from seriously considering global catastrophic risk. CAGW’s all about alarmism, which minimizes AGW. The CAGW meme is and will always be one step from pure denial.

        Considerations about global catastrophic risk exists doesn’t validate the CAGW meme. The meme caricatures these considerations beyond belief. The meme does not even refer to these considerations anyway most of the time. It simply minimizes these risks with its reliance on the “but alarmist” rhetoric.

        The bottom line is that using an Inhofe cheeseburger to justify the CAGW meme is even more ridiculous than the Editor’s concern about “business as usual.”

    • The problem I have with hire Mark Steyn doing the recap is that he seems to be biased in favor of America which is clearly unacceptable. George Bush had that same approach and it just doesn’t go over well.

  34. The relevant facts about climate change that people should be aware of are:

    1. Earth is in a coldhouse phase. In fact we are in only the third cold house phase in more than half a billion years (the time when multi-cell animal life has thrived on Earth).

    2. There have been no ice sheets at the poles for 75% of the past half billion years, demonstrating the planet is unusual cold.

    3. The planet has been cooling from its normal tempts for the past 50 million years.

    4. Life thrives when the planet is warmer and struggles when colder.

    5. The climate does not change in smooth curves as projected by the GCM’s. The climate changes abruptly; always has always will.

    6. We are currently past the peak of the current interglacial. If not for humans’ GHG emissions the next abrupt change would be to cooler – that’s catastrophic. Warming is not catastrophic, as clearly demonstrated by the paleo evidence

    7. Our GHG emissions are reducing the risk of the next abrupt climate change – we are delaying the next abrupt cooling and reducing its severity. This has to be balanced against the risks of potential (but temporary) increased warming (the long term cooling to the next ice age will continue, and the sequence of ice ages and interglacials will continue until the plates realign so North and South America are separated and ocean currents can flow around the world in low latitudes).

    Those interested in the climate debate are urged to do their own reality checks, not just accept the doctrine according to the doomsayers, CAGW alarmists and preachers of the Green Cult.

    The true deniers are those who do deny the relevant facts.

    • 1-4 are irrelevant emotional appeals. Those times are dead and gone.

      5 You have no real evidence of this because we do not have hi freq global data. We know that rapid temperature changes occur at the poles and the GCMs predict this. We also know that change is never in one direction only.

      6 no, we are a couple thousand years away from the next glacial period. The records for the last glacial periods show an up and down saw-tooth where the glacial maximum takes almost 100,000-years to reach.

      7 see 6 above. the effects of CO2 will be gone before the next glacial period.

      When you post relevant facts someone besides WUWT cheerleaders will let you know.

      • Horst Graben,

        I sure hope you not a geologist. Because if you are, your comment suggests you’ve been poorly educated.

        1-4 are irrelevant emotional appeals. Those times are dead and gone.

        It’s not appeals to emotion because it is a statement of the relevant facts that clearly demonstrate we are in a cold period, very much colder than the projected warming from human caused GHG emissions, so human contributions to CAGW are not catastrophic, not dangerous and may actually be more of positive than negative. All the past is “dead and gone” so this is a really stupid statement. You must think that all history is irrelevant: the history of the universe, the planet and your dead ancestors and all the temperature records are irrelevant since they are all “dead and gone”. What an incredibly dumb statement.

        5 You have no real evidence of this because we do not have hi freq global data.

        Yes we do. We have three readings per year from Greenland ice cores and we have high frequency readings from many geological studies. Here’s one for example:
        “Cenozoic: Tertiary and Quaternary (until 11,700 years before 2000)” http://eprints.maynoothuniversity.ie/1983/1/McCarron.pdf

        Figure 15.21 The stable isotope record (∂18O) from the GRIP ice core (histogram) compared to the record of N.pachyderma a planktonic foraminiferan whose presence indicates cold sea temperatures) from ocean sediments (dotted line). High concentrations of IRD from the Troll 8903 core are marked with arrows. After Haflidason et al. (1995). The transition times for critical lengths of the core were calculated from the sediment accumulation rates by the authors and these gave the following results: Transition A: 9 years; Transition B: 25 years; and Transition C: 7 years. Such rapid transitions have been corroborated from the recent NGRIP ice core data.

        6 no, we are a couple thousand years away from the next glacial period.

        Rubbish; ignorance. We are about 80,000 years away from the next glacial maximum. We have no idea when the next abrupt cooling event is likely to occur. Despite decades of climate research there has been almost no research into this important issue. However, there will be many warmings and cooling over the next 80,000 years as the Earth progresses inevitably towards the next ice age. However the next rapid cooling may be somewhat delayed and slightly less severe thanks to the risk mitigation humans have been practicing by emitting GHGs to improve the Earths insulation blanket. BTW, the next glacial maxima is likely to be even colder than the previous ones if the trend continues.

        Horst graben, “deniers” deny the relevant facts. Your comment suggests you are a denier of the relevant facts.

      • So Peter, are you saying that it is supposed to get colder from now until whenever, so we don’t have to worry about warming caused by ACO2? Let’s pull yimmy’s 4C out of a hat. If they are right and the failure of Paree results in at least 4C being added by ACO2 by 2100, would that be a problem?

      • Don Montford,

        First, I don’t accept that 4C is realistic.

        Second it is highly unlikely, almost impossible, and there are far greater risk to deal with.

        Third, 4C would not be catastrophic, for the reasons the paleoevidence shows so clearly. The planet was much warmer than this in the past and life thrived.

        Fifth, it would take centuries or millenia or millions of years to get there. Sixth, We are not going to get out of the coldhouse phase until the tectonic plates move so that ocean currents can flow around the low latitudes again. That’s tens of millions of years away – I’ll be too old to be concerned about it. :)

      • Peter Lang wrote: We are not going to get out of the coldhouse phase until the tectonic plates move so that ocean currents can flow around the low latitudes again.

        Have you been reading my stuff? As more and more warm tropical water circulated in polar regions, over the past fifty million years, that melted more and more cold oceans and provided moisture to support more ice on land which provided more and more cooling. Earth got colder because more and more warm water flowed in Polar regions and caused more and more snowfall.

      • You can see that thirty million years ago, the cooling paused and slightly reversed for 15 million years. Then the space between North and South America closed and the circulation was forced more into polar regions and the cooling resumed.
        http://popesclimatetheory.com/page81.html

      • Peter:

        I really don’t have time to respond to all of your non-sense. You see, I am a very busy and well respected scientist and only post here through the goodness of my generous and compassionate heart.

        1) Comparing pre-mammalian earth to our current Disneyland house of cards lifestyle is completely and utterly irrelevant. You are as dense as ATTP and his band of merry pranksters.

        2)You continue to think, like the CAGW hockey stick idiots whom paste low freq proxy to UHF instrumentation data, a few polar ice cores are proxies for the entire globe when judging rapid climate change. We know the north pole is twitchy. We don’t know if this is a global phenomenon.

        Maybe it is, but we don know… a known unknown for the fans of Rumsfeld.

      • Horse Grabber,

        I really don’t have time to respond to all of your non-sense. You see, I am a very busy and well respected scientist and only post here through the goodness of my generous and compassionate heart.

        What a joke!

    • Previously posted at
      https://judithcurry.com/2015/12/13/paris-impacts/#comment-751409
      I prepared an “interpretative” graph of the Antarctic Ice Core Data – below.
      The May 2015 earth cloud-cover is estimated to be 2/3rds (http://news.discovery.com/earth/weather-extreme-events/two-thirds-of-the-earth-is-covered-by-clouds-150511.htm); I put 70% on the graph. Has anyone generated a %cloud-cover vs time plot for the last few centuries. I assume that NOAA is keeping track of the global sea and land average temperatures separately. Where in the future would a “crossing” (“tipping”) of the two temperature curves occur? It’s the difference in behavior of the two that is the driving force. Global warming could actually accelerate the coming of the next “Major ICE AGE” via warming of the seas that bring on the “tipping” cloud coverage sooner. A bit of rise of temperature and then a drastic crash.

  35. nobodysknowledge

    According to Australian government
    “Most of the CMIP5 and Earth System Model (ESM) simulations were performed with prescribed CO2 concentrations reaching:
    • 421 ppm (RCP2.6),
    • 538 ppm (RCP4.5),
    • 670 ppm (RCP6.0),
    • and 936 ppm (RCP 8.5) by the year 2100.
    Including also the prescribed concentrations of CH4 and N2O, the combined CO2-equivalent concentrations are:
    • 475 ppm (RCP2.6),
    • 630 ppm (RCP4.5),
    • 800 ppm (RCP6.0),
    • and 1313 ppm (RCP8.5).
    For RCP8.5, additional CMIP5 ESM simulations are performed with prescribed CO2 emissions as provided by the integrated assessment models.
    For all RCPs, additional calculations were made with updated atmospheric chemistry data and models (including the Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate component of CMIP5) using the RCP prescribed emissions of the chemically reactive gases (CH4, N2O, HFCs, NOx, CO, NMVOC). These simulations enable investigation of uncertainties related to carbon cycle feedbacks and atmospheric chemistry.”
    https://www.climatescience.org.au/content/379-new-scenarios-spm1-representative-concentration-pathways-rcps
    936 ppm CO2 by year 2100 is an increase of over 6 ppm pr year. And now it is about 1 ppm increase. And I assume that it is calculated with a climate sensitivity of 3,2 degC pr doubling CO2, which is the average of CHIMP 5.
    So it is clear that the scenario RPC8.5 is about another planet.

    • nobodysknowledge

      Sorry. There has been an increase of about 2 ppm CO2 pr year.

    • Well…

      1. Emissions increased around 50% since 1998 (the year of the record 2.93 PPM/Y CO2 increase) and we haven’t hit a new record since then. Even in 2015 a strong El Nino year. The current rate of CO2 increase is around 2.2 PPM.

      2. Emissions have been flat the last couple of years.

      3. The only empirical measurement of CO2 forcing would suggest and ECS of around 1°C and estimates have been converging on something under 1.5°C.

      4. Anyone who follows coal knows 1/3 of coal exports comes from a country (Indonesia) that is just about tapped out, and the prices follow China demand like a yo-yo in reverse. If demand increases the price will increase significantly. Higher priced fossil fuel inhibits demand.

      Slow growth in emissions to a fossil fuel peak in the 2040s isn’t going to put a lot of pressure on the atmospheric CO2 level, because absorption will catch up with emission.

      If you assume 1.5°C forcing and a CO2 peak around 460-480 PPM you get a RCP2.6 scenario with significantly higher CO2.
      That seems pretty realistic.

  36. RCP 8.5 may be implausible using emissions only (I wish I were so sure as Larry is) but there’s also the issue of biogeochemical feedbacks (especially permafrost decay, possibly also net forest decline) which may well be strong by the second half of the century.

    • MT,

      “I wish I were so sure as Larry is”.

      It’s science and logic, the basis for making reliable public policy. Somebody has a theory and presents their evidence and reasoning. Others review it and give rebuttals.

      I have clearly shown that the case RCP8.5 makes is unlikely. Perhaps there is a stronger case to be made. When somebody makes it, we can review that too.

      If you have some rebuttal to what I’ve said — that is, about the climate science literature about RCP8.5 — then share it with us.

      • There’s a ton of research, not hard to find. Google is your friend.

        An example is http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n10/full/ngeo1573.html

        I don’t have text for this talk, but you can get the gist here:

        http://www.lter.uaf.edu/symposium_2015/F0830_BNZsymposium2015_Schuur.pdf

        This could well be important enough to figure into CO2 concentration pathways even on the short 85 year time scale.

        Refuting EXACTLY the RCP8.5 future history is a soft target, but all sorts of things could happen. Fracking was unexpected; it is likely as I understand it that the Russians have even bigger shale resources than the US. Eventually they’ll be getting it online. The Japanese (who are in a tough spot now that their population is so anti-nuclear) have been talking about commercial development of continental shelf seabed clathrates for a long time. There’s a LOT of carbon there. Will either country defect from COP-21 and its successors? Is that really so unlikely?

      • MT,

        You are confusing the RCPs — which describe a condition before climate change — with the results of models run using the RCPs as an input.

        The study you cite uses the RCPs as inputs; see the 2nd paragraph of the paper.

        The question about future climate has many factors beyond the RCPs. We’re not trying here to assess the cosmic truth of climate change. Just conducting a close look at one key component.

      • <iFracking was unexpected; it is likely as I understand it that the Russians have even bigger shale resources than the US. Eventually they’ll be getting it online. The Japanese (who are in a tough spot now that their population is so anti-nuclear) have been talking about commercial development of continental shelf seabed clathrates for a long time. There’s a LOT of carbon there. Will either country defect from COP-21 and its successors? Is that really so unlikely?

        And yet, CO2 emissions have stalled for two years now.

        Fewer people, older people, efficient gadgets, slowing economy all point toward slowing rates.

  37. I’m also concerned at how people think human responsibility for the environment terminates abruptly at the end of the century. Anything greater than net zero means increasing anthropogenic climate forcing. That is to say, anything worse than RCP2.6 means the problem remains unsolved.

    At the very least our concerns should be a rolling window and we should be looking out to 2115 by now.

    • Solving imaginary problems of the future is bad enough, but extending imagination beyond your lifetime is even worse.

      Technology and human behaviour are changing far more rapidly than any imagined adverse climate impact making these discussions irrelevant.

      It’s pretty clear ( to me ) that population will be peaking soon and will be lower and falling in 2100. That means not only the direct effect of fewer people, but the direct effect of fewer consumers and the effect of more of the population being older. Throw into this mix technology which dramatically improves the efficiency of energy use, but also which eliminates the relative employability of humans.

      Perhaps Elon Musk is right, and people will revolt against the very technology that is advancing us, with or without religious motivation.

      But if they do send us to post apocalyptic coal burning, CO2 or global average temperature will pale compared to other real problems.

      • MT,

        “Yes and No. Yet another commonly proffered point of confusion. Predicting what humans will do over decades is notoriously difficult, of course.Predicting what physical systems will do is sometimes possible for much longer.”

        That’s an odd rebuttal, since the two examples I gave were predictions of physical systems; neither involved what “humans do.”

      • MT,

        “Predicting what physical systems will do is sometimes possible for much longer. Some aspects of climate are more predictable than others, but we know with profound certainty that the laws of thermodynamics will hold, and consequently that the world’s climate will be changed in response to the total amount of radiative forcing.

        OK – give us an example of a predictable physical system (in the naural realm) that is predictable.

        Can you identify which aspects of climate are more predictable?

        Just because we say we have laws (thermodynamics) is not the same as saying we know anything about what changes may occur. I don’t think there is anyone discussing the topic who doesn’t believe the climate of our planet changes. What we don’t know very well is how those changes come about. We can predict the change in temperature (in a closed system) resulting from doubling the concentration of CO2. But since we don’t live in a closed system, we have little understanding on what changes occur with the same doubling. The folks running the GCM’s appear to be convinced they have pegged it. But all they have really done is make some really simple assumptions and say that it is water vapor. But if they don’t understand clouds and they don’t understand the oceans then they are really just making guesses.

        And I for one am not confident in people making decisions based on guesses. That some folks take the next step and talk about all of the scary and terrible things which might befall us – the castrophe meme that Ken Rice says doesn’t exist – as further justification to take the actions they are pushing makes it obvious that it is not science driving the boat.

      • Timg56: “But since we don’t live in a closed system, we have little understanding on what changes occur with the same doubling. The folks running the GCM’s appear to be convinced they have pegged it. “

        Tim, don’t you know it’s just physics? And, just like his pseudonym implies, (And then there’s physics…,) us simpletons are just too dense. Don’t you trust?

      • Speaking of informing the public, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a news article or broadcast explain that the only claimed settled science is a hydrosphere warming of 1.1C over a 500+year period after doubling CO2. Lindzen and Choi actually put cloud negative feedback as stronger than vapor positive feedback, lowering the 1.1C to 0.9C.

        Here’s an interesting article of how settled radiative transfer really is:
        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/02/new-paper-claims-a-value-one-seventh-of-the-ipcc-best-estimate-for-climate-sensitivity-for-a-co2-doubling/

    • MT,

      “I’m also concerned at how people think human responsibility for the environment terminates abruptly at the end of the century.”

      It’s a planning horizon. History suggests our ability to accurately predict events 85 years out is close to zero, but 2100 is a nice round number — and such horizons are arbitrary. The basis for not considering more distant periods is quite strong.

      Decade predictions have a poor record of accuracy, in climate science as in so many other things. For example, predicting more and stronger Atlantic hurricanes after Katrina in 2005. Got lots of headlines, proved quite wrong.

      http://fabiusmaximus.com/2015/08/26/hurrican-predictions-since-katrina-88813/

      Longer-term predictions have an even worse record. For example, has anybody found predictions of the “hiatus” (either as a pause or substantial slowing in warming?) before 1998? Note: post-hoc explanations are not predictions; we know there are explanations (i.e., it is not a miracle).

      • Yet another commonly proffered point of confusion.

        Yes and no.

        Predicting what humans will do over decades is notoriously difficult, of course.

        Predicting what physical systems will do is sometimes possible for much longer. Some aspects of climate are more predictable than others, but we know with profound certainty that the laws of thermodynamics will hold, and consequently that the world’s climate will be changed in response to the total amount of radiative forcing.

        The argument that this amount of radiative forcing will be dominated by net CO2 emissions (including amplification or conceivably attenuation by geochemical feedbacks) requires a bit of digging into the details but is straightforward and a careful reading of WGI is enough to reveal it.

        The peak CO2 concentration is a good first order index of the amount of anthropogenic radiative forcing.

        The “hiatus” problem is like the weather problem. Bumps and wiggles in the various quantities notwithstanding, energy out + energy stored (or if negative, released) = energy in. The broad consequences of this are well understood and in principle predictable (at least in the Charney subsystem – land ice and geochemistry is less well constrained, and of course volcanoes can rock the boat).

        What this tells us is that the main concern is the total CO2 emitted between now and the time of net zero emissions. A given carbon budget will lead to a fairly specific amount of disruption. There’s roughly a factor of two uncertainty on that, the low end of which is not enough to argue against net zero emissions as soon as feasible.

        The reason we need to get to zero net is because until we do, we continue to make matters worse for our descendants and more problematic for the sustainability of the biosphere.

        We may not know what will happen in future centuries, but we have no ethical right to do things that we have strong reason to believe will make matters more difficult for them.

      • mt,

        It seems that “radiative forcing” is a term unique to so-called climate science, and therefore devoid of meaning in normal physics. The following definition is from Wikipedia –

        “In climate science, radiative forcing or climate forcing is defined as the difference of insolation (sunlight) absorbed by the Earth and energy radiated back to space.”

        Obviously, this is just so much specious nonsense. All energy received by the Earth from the Sun is eventually radiated to space, plus a little bit more due to the fact that the Earth is still above absolute zero, and hence continuously radiating energy whether you want it to or not. This explains how the Earth has managed to cool, in spite of receiving the Sun’s energy for billions of years.

        Climatology is littered with pseudo-scientific nonsense such as this. Climate sensitivity, back radiation, energy budget . . ., the list goes on!

        The popular climate delusion has been swallowed hook, line, and sinker, by all sorts of people who really should know better. Strange but true.

        Cheers.

      • ““In climate science, radiative forcing or climate forcing is defined as the difference of insolation (sunlight) absorbed by the Earth and energy radiated back to space.”

        Can I get a URL? That is actually not the usual usage; the definition applies to the jargon “radiative imbalance” not to “radiative forcing”.

      • MT,

        (1) “Yes and No. Yet another commonly proffered point of confusion. Predicting what humans will do over decades is notoriously difficult, of course.Predicting what physical systems will do is sometimes possible for much longer.”

        That’s an odd rebuttal, since the two examples I gave were predictions of physical systems; neither involved what “humans do.”

        (2) “we know with profound certainty that the laws of thermodynamics will hold, and consequently that the world’s climate will be changed in response to the total amount of radiative forcing.”

        You remain confused about the subject of this essay: the likelihood of RCP8.5 — and the wider topic, the warming in response to radiative forcings. Of course forcing of 8.5 would change substantially change the climate, as one of .085 would not. Planning requires understanding of the relative probability of large and small forcings, so that we can appropriately allocate resources among the many risks facing us.

        {I accidentally posted part of this upthread, in response to an earlier comment).

      • mt,

        Just look for Wikipedia. Cut and paste the quote into a search engine if you prefer. I assumed you knew what Wikipedia was. Sorry.

        If you prefer something more sciencey, you might like this –

        “In particular, IPCC (1990, 1992, 1994) and the Second Assessment Report (IPCC, 1996) (hereafter SAR) used the following definition for the radiative forcing of the climate system: “The radiative forcing of the surface-troposphere system due to the perturbation in or the introduction of an agent (say, a change in greenhouse gas concentrations) is the change in net (down minus up) irradiance (solar plus long-wave; in Wm−2) at the tropopause AFTER allowing for stratospheric temperatures to readjust to radiative equilibrium, but with surface and tropo- spheric temperatures and state held fixed at the unperturbed values”. – IPCC paper.

        Complete arcane rubbish, useful to neither man nor beast. Of course, the definition changes to suit the Warmist use to which it is put.

        Arguing about climatological definitions is just another Warmist attempt to deny, divert, and obscure. The IPCC possesses about the same amount of clue as you – which is to say, not much at all! Just keep believing, if it makes you feel better.

        Cheers.

  38. nobodysknowledge

    One thing I wonder about is what calculations lie behind the 8.5 number.
    “The greenhouse effect is well-established. Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, reduce the amount of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) to space; thus, energy accumulates in the climate system, and the planet warms. However, climate models forced with CO2 reveal that global energy accumulation is, instead, primarily caused by an increase in absorbed solar radiation (ASR). —- Observations and model simulations suggest that even though global warming is set into motion by greenhouse gases that reduce OLR, it is ultimately sustained by the climate feedbacks that enhance ASR.” Donohoe et al. 2014
    http://www.pnas.org/content/111/47/16700.abstract
    So: How can the Earth capture all that sun radiation when the longwave radiation has an increased cooling effect according to climate models?

    • Look at the Kiehl/Tremberth diagram.

      Keep looking until you get it. Do some studying if you need to. Then read Donohoe’s claim (and it’s a single study, so it’s only a claim) again, and see if it makes more sense.

      ===

      I wish we could have a version of the sort of conversation that happens here including only people who understand the Kiehl/Trenberth diagram. Maybe pass an exam or something?

      I’d venture that the predominant tone of the postings would change.

      • mt,

        Do you seriously believe the Earth is heating up after four and a half billion years of cooling, on the basis of a cartoon graphic?

        It’s worse than I thought!

        Cheers.

      • One reason we might focus on surface temperature data, rather than satellite data, is because we live on the surface. However, I can see some obvious merit in considering the satellite data. I can’t, however, see any reason why the temperature of the Earth’s interior has any real significance. Maybe Mike can convince me otherwise.

      • nobodysknowledge

        The Donohoes claim can be multiplied. It is settled science among climate model believers. So just keep looking until you get it.
        The Kiehl/Trenberth diagram is not very useful when it comes to a more exact calculation of energy flow. But assuming a reduction of outgoing radiation of 8,5 W m2, and little change in OLR, then reflected solar radiation will be close to 95 W m2 in the RCP8.5 scenario.

      • 1. MT is using an old (2008 or earlier) chart.

        …and Then There’s Physics | December 15, 2015 at 4:36 pm |

        I can’t, however, see any reason why the temperature of the Earth’s interior has any real significance. ..
        .

        The only number on the whole diagram that makes any difference is the 0.6 W/m2 – that is the amount the surface is warming.

      • ATTP,

        I assume you are only pretending to be stupid.

        However. The Earth’s surface was once molten. I assume this means the average surface temperature was in excess of 1000 K. Some time later, the average had dropped to the point where the seas no longer boiled. At least in some places, below 373 K.

        The surface temperature kept dropping, to its present level. Climatologists say this is around 288 K, and shake their heads in astonishment. “It should only be 255 K”, they cry. “Must be CO2- the science is settled!”

        Yeah. Right. If the Earth’s interior is hotter than the surface, (and it is), then the surface, must, of necessity, continue to cool. Hot things cool. Very big hot things cool more slowly. Lord Kelvin worked out from the rate of cooling that the Earth was no more than 20 million years old. We know how accurate that calculation was (not very). He was unaware of the heat produced by radioactivity. Bad luck for him, obviously!

        Lord Kelvin had a first rate mind, unlike the motley ragtag collection calling themselves climatologists. So colour me unimpressed with their denial of reality, and their stupid cartoons and witless “calculations”.

        Back to reality. Take a large rock. Place it on the ground in an exposed position. Measure its temperature – internal, external, whatever you like. See how much heat it has accumulated after a year, or five, or five million!

        Or maybe the heat accumulates in CO2? Maybe that’s why it’s so warm in the arid deserts at night – it only drops to below freezing, sometimes. Maybe we could develop giant CO2 batteries. Accumulate heat during the summer, release it during the winter. Maybe you’re gullible enough to believe such rot. You certainly believe that CO2 can cause temperature to be elevated on the Earth’s surface!

        Has it never occurred to you that the wondrous heating abilities of GHGs only appear when the Sun is shining, and it’s not cold? Maybe you believe that filling your wall cavities and double glazing with CO2 will raise the temperature of the interior of house by 33 K? Of course not, that would be silly, wouldn’t it? And that that’s with 100% CO2!

        Foolishness. A deluded bunch of second raters, more and more of whom are quietly abandoning the cult. Hang in there, ATTP. Warmism needs more recruits – be strong in the faith! Spread the word! Print more cartoons!

        Cheers.

    • However, climate models forced with CO2 reveal that global energy accumulation is, instead, primarily caused by an increase in absorbed solar radiation (ASR).

      Thanks for raising this very interesting point!

      I was reading Manabe & Stouffer
      @ http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/sm8001.pdf
      ( a really good paper well worth reading and reputed to be the origin of ‘Arctic Amplification’ which originally piqued my interest )

      Figure 15 of this paper indicates expected SW change for a CO2 quadrupling:

      The large increase in SW in the NH I took to be from snow/ice loss.
      But living at 32 degrees North latitude, this struck me as quite wrong when I first saw it – there’s very little snow for very few days.

      So, that’s not a huge deal – this was 1980 after all and an early (but still very useful) model.

      But I compared this with the results of two of the CO2 quadrupling runs of GISS, here: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/efficacy/

      The results are:

      These results don’t include the large SW component in northern latitudes, or really much of any albedo feedback for the ‘Arctic Amplification’.
      But they don’t instil much confidence either.

      If there is albedo change in the tropics ( positive and negative it appears ) that must come from cloud changes. But cloud changes are determined by dynamics – the kind that are known unpredictable.

      Indeed, the failure of the models with the Hot Spot should raise all kinds of questions with how much additional warming is coming from erroneously prescribed additional incoming solar radiation ( continued … )

    • (…continued)

      So, the GISS models also indicate that much of future modelled warming is not because of reduced outgoing longwave radiation, but because of increased absorbed incoming shortwave radiation:

      Shortwave albedo is very poorly known ( because SW reflectance varies in all directions, not just the direction at which a satellite sensor is pointed toward earth ), so no one knows, but seem dubious to me.

    • Spores will be blown by the wind just like always.

      http://www.climateaction.umd.edu/

      Spring will be here sooner than they think.

  39. Here’s an interesting visualization of RCP8.5 for the period 1850-2100.

    It plots it in Excel as the log (base 2 but any base will show an equally linear trend after 1950) of the excess CO2 above 280 ppm, the level it held steady at to within a few ppm for several millennia prior to 1750.

    Never mind who’s responsible for this excess. Maybe it’s Flash Gordon’s arch-nemesis Ming the Merciless of Mars adding CO2 instead of sucking Earth’s nitrogen. Or perhaps the vegetable kingdom has gone on a carefully calibrated CO2 hunger strike.

    What is clear from this graph is that, regardless of the cause, during the past 65 years this excess has been doubling very reliably every 1/0.0306 = 32.7 years (the coefficient of x in the box at upper right).

    RCP8.5 is nothing more complicated than the pathway along which this excess CO2 continues to double at that rate.

    At least up to about 2085, at which point it starts to slacken off just a little. Maybe Ming’s getting old, or the vegetation needs a little snack to keep it going.

    Much the same behavior can be observed over the previous century 1850-1950, with the exception of two flat spots 60 years apart starting in respectively 1880 and 1940.

    Why there, and why not after 1950?

    Whenever the global thermometer drops the oceans can dissolve CO2 better. On both of those occasions global mean surface temperature declined, thereby pulling down CO2.

    However it continued to decline until 1970, yet CO2 began to rise again, initially a little more slowly than today, but by 1970 it had reached the line it has been solidly on ever since.

    What is different about post-1950 is that the proportion of this exponentially growing excess dominates the amount that a cooler ocean can draw down. Before 1950 the opposite was true: what the cooler ocean could pull down dominated the excess over 280. Once this is clear, then it should also be clear that this graph is essentially linear all the way back to 1850, modulo climate fluctuations that remained influential up until 1950.

    Whether CO2 will continue to follow RPC8.5 is anyone’s guess. It’s merely one of several competing hypotheses. What distinguishes it from the other pathways is the very simple property that it linearly extrapolates a very linear plot after 1950, at least up to 2085 or so.

    (This comment adds a quid to what I owe Tony Brown.)

    • Vaughan,

      “What distinguishes it from the other pathways is the very simple property that it linearly extrapolates a very linear plot after 1950, at least up to 2085 or so.”

      Thanks for posting that. What is the source?

      The line is interesting from a climate science perspective! From a public policy perspective not so much. Why would this scenario be of interest?

      The industrialization of the world from 1950-2000 resulted from very different processes that will happen from 2000-2050. Some seem likely to continue (e.g., tech progress). Some appear to have ended (e.g., rapid growth of emissions from the developed nations). Some are changing rapidly (e.g., fertility, energy efficiency). A “base case” (BAU) involves looking at these trends and drawing extrapolations.

      That’s how the RCPs were constructed.

      Using a ruler to extend a line on a graph seems of little value. Especially given the stakes.

    • VP, I believe if you plot all four without the log paper RCP6.0 is more linear in the common sense. Some consider continued exponential growth unsustainable and a worse case.

      • @cd: Some consider continued exponential growth unsustainable and a worse case.

        I often agree with you, cap’n, but on this occasion I beg to differ.

        Compared to real estate, energy today is essentially free. Until exhuming deceased dinosaurs becomes more expensive per capita (human capita, not dinosaur) than erecting McMansions on prime real estate, sustainability of carbon-based fuels will remain a non-issue.

        Arguments based on proven reserves are meaningless because new reserves are constantly being proven. This process is showing no sign of abatement, and is likely to continue well into the 22nd century.

        Had you said “uncompetitive” instead of “unsustainable” I’d have agreed with you. Non-carbon-based sources of energy are slowly starting to compete economically with the carbon-based variety.

        A second factor is efficiency. Civilization is learning how to do more with less energy. Boltzmann’s constant k is one clear limiting factor there, but thus far we are not even remotely running into the Boltzmann limit, and are unlikely to do so in this century (famous last words?).

        But the Boltzmann limit is rather naive, and as we approach it we may discover one or more other limits ahead of it. If such exists, a Nobel prize in physics may await its discoverer.

        Bottom line: “unsustainable” is the wrong epithet for carbon-based fuels, whose only Sword of Damocles is “uncompetitive”. Without that competition it would take only a few centuries for carbon-based fuels to drive Earth’s global mean surface temperature higher than that of Venus.

        Earth’s greater distance from the Sun might seem to make such a fate impossible. However the danger to Earth is its presently low bond albedo of 0.3 vs. Venus’s far higher protective albedo of 0.9. A shield of sulfur dioxide clouds protecting Earth’s surface the way it does today on Venus would prevent this disparity, but for life on Earth it would be Game Over long before then. The easily modeled phenomenon of lapse rate would kill the entire biosphere as reliably as if it had been placed in today’s most advanced sterilizer.

        Not a problem for now. None of this will happen in your lifetime, even if you’re in kindergarten.

      • VP, to a devote capitalist, uncompetitive is unsustainable. but I see your point, there are plenty of socialist types in the world that will never admit defeat.

      • VP:

        Compared to real estate, energy today is essentially free. Until exhuming deceased dinosaurs becomes more expensive per capita (human capita, not dinosaur) than erecting McMansions on prime real estate, sustainability of carbon-based fuels will remain a non-issue.

        Since energy is “essentially free” I will gladly exchange one McMansion on prime real estate for 2MM bbls of Brent crude. Let me know when your supertanker is approaching port and I will draw up the paperwork.

        And you do know hydrocarbons are not dead dinosaurs, right?

    • The RCP8.5 has 11.5 GT/Y of emissions in 2020 and 20.2 GT/Y in 2050.

      2020 has a 415.78 CO2 level (midyear) and 2030 has a 448.8 CO2 level.

      So 3.3 PPM per year. Reality is going to be 2.2 PPM/Y – or less.

      The RCP8.5 was written in 2011. It may have tracked in the past – but it won’t in the future. As discussed before emissions and the CO2 level started parting company in 1993.

      • PA, this is an interesting chart. Am I correct to understand the left side shows CO2 rising rapidly at low emissions due to no ocean uptake until 295ppm? It looks like a fitted overlap for the center showing the rising emissions raising CO2 but also being increasingly ocean absorbed. Then at the right the CO2 accumulation concentration becoming less sensitive to emissions as equilibrium imbalance with the oceans steepens.

        So if emission level off now does that mean this chart is indicating that CO2 atmospheric concentration would fall?

      • Ron Graf | December 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm |
        PA, this is an interesting chart. Am I correct to understand the left side shows CO2 rising rapidly at low emissions due to no ocean uptake until 295ppm?

        Yeah. Another way to look at it is a ratio of emissions in GT vs atmospheric increase in GT (the difference between current PPM and the 276 PPM level in 1752 multiplied by 2.13)

        In 1852 the ratio is 0.074 and there are 1.419 GT of emissions
        In 1880 the ratio is 0.163 and there are 4.892 GT of emissions
        In 1896 the ratio is 0.257 and there are 10.361 GT of emissions
        In 1963 the ratio is 0.9996 and there are 91.533 GT of emissions
        So 1963 is the first year total emissions exceeded the atmospheric CO2 increase from 1752.
        Currently the ratio is 1.544 and emissions are roughly 403.119.

        From 1963 to today the ratio (computed from 1963) is 1.84 so only 54% of post 1963 emissions have gone into the atmosphere. And the ratio is increasing (IE less and less carbon is staying in the atmosphere..

        The chart looks weird – but the CO2 in the atmosphere had increased faster than emissions until 1963. Dr. Curry has a good case that the initial CO2 increase (pre-1950) was from ocean heating.

        So if emission level off now does that mean this chart is indicating that CO2 atmospheric concentration would fall?

        As far as falling, the atmospheric absorption is 6 GT/Y at 400 PPM. If the emissions level off at 10 GT/Y the CO2 level will rise to about 500 PPM, the absorption will have increased to 10-11 GT/Y, and the CO2 level will plateau at 500 PPM.

        The absorption is roughly proportional to the difference from 280, IE:
        +120 PPM.(today, 400 PPM) = 6 GT/Y
        +220 PPM (future, 500 PPM) = 11 GT/Y

        The absorption is going to occur whether or not there are emissions so if the emissions drop below absorption the CO2 level declines.

    • Thanks for posting that. What is the source?

      AFAIK the first person to notice that log2(CO2 – 280) was linear for the Keeling curve was David Hofmann late of NOAA ESRL Boulder, who presented it as a poster at a 2009 American Meteorological Society meeting and later published it with coathors James Butler and Pieter Tans. Previously all attempts at modeling the Keeling curve involved polynomial fits ranging from cubic to quintic, all of which both hindcasted and forecasted terribly compared to Hofmann’s model. I noticed that RPC8.5 tracked Hofmann’s function remarkably closely up to 2080 or so, but I’m sure many others must have too, though I’ve never heard or read anyone else expressing that rather obvious connection.

      Using a ruler to extend a line on a graph seems of little value. Especially given the stakes.

      Indeed. Newton’s first law of motion, that a moving object continues its motion, includes the exception that it might be acted on by an external force. The inclusion of that exception allows James Dean’s death to be ruled an act of Newton instead of an act of God.

      No doubt some future event or events will drive CO2 off that line at some point. One could start a pool as to when and which direction.

      But auto insurance companies base their premiums on the past frequency of such applications of the exception in Newton’s first law, in preference to wild speculations as to things like changing drinking habits of future drivers. “Given the stakes” as you put it, I don’t see why either wild speculations or wishful thinking about what will drive rising CO2 off that line are an improvement on the simple historical data on which much of actuarial science is based.

      • Yes, I have also noticed that using a doubling of the manmade component every 33.3 years, three doublings per century, you get an excellent fit up till now that has 370 ppm at 2000 (90 ppm above 280 ppm) to exactly 1000 ppm at 2100 (720 ppm above 280 ppm), and that is somewhat like RCP8.5. It just carries on the 20th century doubling rate through the 21st, as Vaughan has noted.

      • > I don’t see why either wild speculations or wishful thinking about what will drive rising CO2 off that line are an improvement on the simple historical data on which much of actuarial science is based.

        I asked a guy from the reinsurance industry that question, and his response was that they were already losing money.

      • his response was that they were already losing money.

        Correlation is not causation.

      • Well, your log curve was supported by exponential emissions growth that appears to be over.

        If you only look at the existing part of your chart it doesn’t look that linear.

        And with slowing emissions growth to 2040 and attenuation of emissions after 2040 the log curve will go from looking more loggy and less linear.to actually droopy.

      • Willard,

        “I asked a guy from the reinsurance industry that question, and his response was that they were already losing money.”

        Either you are making that up (my vote) — or the “guy” lied. The profitability of the reinsurance section of the property-casualty insurance moves with that of the overall industry. And that industry is quite profitable.

        2013 was a great year, as was 2014 was a good year. 2015 also looks good.

        Climate fears (which the industry has fed) have helped allow rate increases in the past few years. Since losses have not increased…

      • > The profitability of the reinsurance section of the property-casualty insurance moves with that of the overall industry.

        Since insurance companies are Dutch-book based (not bad for mere correlators!), it surely doesn’t mean the whole industry is suddenly in the red, dear Editor. It would be absurd to think that’s what he meant. “Losing money” can refer to a loss in profits. It can also mean earning losses in a specific sector. Perhaps the guy wasn’t clear enough for you. Just like the social scientists you just criticized, so it would not be a first.

        Start here if you’re interested in something else than to lose another terminological argument:

        Actuarial estimates derived using traditional pricing methodologies are based on historical claims. To the extent that certain claim types are either not present or have very limited frequency in the database, projections of future claims will not provide for such claims. For example, there are very few claims for 50-year and 100-year storms in Canadian property data; similarly there are very few claims for losses resulting from failing infrastructure. In “From Risk to Opportunity: 2008 – Insurer
        Responses to Climate Change”, Dr. Evan Mills writes: “A major obstacle to insurers taking action on climate change has been that the models the industry uses to manage and price risk have been backward-looking and thus, by definition, unable to take climate change into account”.

        To the extent that climate change, aging and inadequate infrastructure, and changing lifestyles lead to a greater number of claims and/or more costly claims in the future than in the past, traditional actuarial pricing methodologies based on historical data will not capture the potential for these claims.

        http://www.cia-ica.ca/docs/default-source/2014/214020e.pdf

        If you could tell me under what conditions a 160% increase in ten years forms a linear trend, that would be nice.

  40. @PA: If you only look at the existing part of your chart it doesn’t look that linear.

    Here’s log2(co2 – 280) for the annual Mauna Loa data.

    You have a keen eye for nonlinearity…

    And with slowing emissions growth to 2040 and attenuation of emissions after 2040

    …and the clairvoyance of a Nostradamus.

    • Here is my similar plot of log total emissions vs time

      and the plot of cumulative emissions vs CO2:

      Put them together, and you have linear C)2-280 vs time. The post here explains why the linearity of the latter plot is a result of the linearity of the former.

      • These are fun, but the significant value is the (estimated) radiative forcing, and to the extent that radiative forcing is very quickly realized, the rate of change in RF.

        The rate of change of all anthro GHGs peaked in 1989.
        This is coincides with the decrease in rates of warming since then.

        The rate of change in CO2 based RF peaked in 2007.
        And given the recent stall in CO2 emissions, CO2 would appear to be a decreasing component of RF:

      • And, of course,
        The rate of change of all anthro GHGs peaked in 1989.
        should read:
        The rate of change of all anthro GHG based RF peaked in 1989.

      • @NS: The post here explains why the linearity of the latter plot is a result of the linearity of the former.

        Agreed, Nick. I’ve said as much myself on various occasions in the past.

        However the claim that this linearity is independent of the sinks is only true for the linearity itself and not for the coefficient of x in that linearity.

        You need that coefficient for when the growth drops below exponential, in order to be able to continue to extrapolate the growth reliably. This is the situation that some here expect either is imminent (PA) or has even started already (TE).

        As near as I’ve been able to tell so far, the basis for this expectation is the principle first expressed in a previous millennium (e.g. Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark) that if you say something three times it must be true.

  41. In History, Chicken Little was wrong, much more often than right.

    When the sky did fall from time to time, Chicken Little was caught off guard.

    About 2000 years ago, there was a Roman Warm Period and then it got cold. About 1000 years ago, there was a Medieval Warm Period and then it got cold. That was called the Little Ice Age. It is warm now because it is supposed to be warm now. It is a natural cycle and we did not cause it.

    When the oceans are warm and wet, it snows more and that bounds the upper limits of temperature and sea level. When the oceans are cold and frozen, it snows less and that bounds the lower limits of temperature and sea level.

    CO2 just makes green things grow better, while using less water.

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  43. Your population numbers are out of date. The 2015 revision has an 80% range of 10 – 12.5 billion, median 11.2 billion. Fertility rates apparently aren’t declining as fast as previously expected. That makes RCP8.5 the closest to median of all scenarios, and the only one within the 80% envelope. I think it may be the only one within the 9.5 to 13.3 billion 95% envelope.

    • Is RCP 8.5 BAU? Well up to now, since it has been around, it is. Anybunny want to argue with that?

      So the question is, will it continue to be? One argument for not is the Paris agreement, but let Eli examine some of the arguments here. Well, Paulskio pointed to Falbuilist Maximus’ optimism on population growth, but Eli will just turn it over to Roger Pielke Jr. on the techno optimist points

      http://rogerpielkejr.com/2015/07/08/a-bit-of-house-cleaning-an-unpublished-climate-paper/

      http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2014/06/clueless-krugman.html

      And oh yes Fabulist, why do you hate all those poor people in Africa who really need to use coal in order to prosper.

      • Yes Eli, I’m happy to argue with that.

        Your absurd graph shows a major increase in emissions for 2009 and 2014 when both years actually saw a reduction. 2015 was another reduction year and forecasts are that this trend will continue until 2019.

        So, if we were to follow the usual rational practice of ascertaining BAU by projecting the empirically-established trend of the past three years, none of the RCPS are in the frame. The best we can do is accept 2.6 as being BAU until there is a clear change

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