Some comments on neoskepticism

by Steven E. Koonin

Stern et al. offer “The challenge of climate-change neoskepticism” as a Policy Forum piece in the August 12 issue of Science magazine (hereafter SPSK; paywalled here).

From the summary:

Opponents of policies to limit anthropogenic climate change (ACC) have offered a changing set of arguments—denying or questioning ACC’s existence, magnitude, and rate of progress, the risks it presents, the integrity of climate scientists, and the value of mitigation efforts. Similar arguments have characterized environmental risk debates concerning arsenical insecticides in the late 1800s, phosphates in detergents in the 1960s, and the pesticide DDT in the 1960s and ’70s. Typically, defenders of business as usual first question the scientific evidence that risks exist; then, they question the magnitude of the risks and assert that reducing them has more costs than benefits. A parallel rhetorical shift away from outright skepticism  led us to identify “neoskepticism” as a new incarnation of opposition to major efforts to limit ACC . This shift heightens the need for science to inform decision making under uncertainty and to improve communication and education.

The Science article is summarized by phys.org and EOS.

The authors claim to identify an emerging “neoskeptic” stance that “advocates against urgent mitigation efforts” on the grounds of uncertainty in climate projections. They further offer ways of countering that “challenge.”

I write to comment upon SPSK because the authors raise (but also conflate) two important issues in the climate/energy discussion and also because they identify my essay in the September 19, 2014 edition of the Wall Street Journal (hereafter WSJ14; annotated version here) as an archetype of neoskepticism. (This blog’s hostess is similarly implicated for her WSJ op-ed.)

As a first issue, SPSK note that societal responses to the possibility of anthropogenic climate change are largely an exercise in risk management under great uncertainty, and that better science is needed to inform adaptive risk management. They bemoan that “the science needed to integrate information about decision options and climate risks has not been well represented in the IPCC process” and remind us that values and tradeoffs are an essential aspect of deciding upon societal responses.

I am in full agreement with that thinking, as I wrote in WSJ14: 

Society’s choices in the years ahead will necessarily be based on uncertain knowledge of future climates. That uncertainty need not be an excuse for inaction. There is well-justified prudence in accelerating the development of low-emissions technologies and in cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.

But climate strategies beyond such “no regrets” efforts carry costs, risks and questions of effectiveness, so nonscientific factors inevitably enter the decision. These include our tolerance for risk and the priorities that we assign to economic development, poverty reduction, environmental quality, and intergenerational and geographical equity. 

Individuals and countries can legitimately disagree about these matters, so the discussion should not be about “believing” or “denying” the science. …

My reading of SPSK is that they would largely agree with these thoughts (and much else in WSJ14).   Most importantly, I think we agree on the need for a values discussion informed by a complete, rigorous, and faithful representation of the certainties and uncertainties in projections of climate changes, in the net impacts of those changes, and in the net costs and efficacies of various societal responses. But what apparently distinguishes a neoskeptic in their view is a willingness to acknowledge that different values might support different decisions. While this stance is neither “neo” nor even “skepticism,” I can see how SPSK might find it challenging.

Unfortunately, SPSK conflate their laudable call for a science-informed values discussion with a claim to know that urgent mitigation is THE answer, stating that persuasive factors in their analysis are

… the risks of extreme and damaging outcomes are continually increasing, so that waiting for certainty has increasing costs; that inertia in the system may result in its crossing major tipping points without timely warning; and that there is value to insuring against worst cases, especially when they are likely to be worse than those of the past.

Perhaps. But this thinking rests upon credence in projections of future climates by models that today are demonstrably not up to the task and upon an unsupported conviction that the net benefits of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions outweigh the net benefits of increasing access to affordable, available, and reliable energy for the majority of the world’s people.   We can expect that in the coming decade climate observations will become more precise and complete, that understanding and projections of the climate will improve, and that putative anthropogenic impacts will (or will not) become less uncertain, despite the current IPCC’s ill-supported assertion of 95% confidence. Further, we can expect that future societies will be more resilient and that there will be benefit to taking the time to develop better technologies that can slow or even reverse growing GHG concentrations, should that be needed. All of this to say that SPSK’s certainty can be credibly questioned. In any event, all actions beyond “no regrets” will have drawbacks (by definition) so that these caveats must be folded into anyone’s risk/benefit calculation, which will further suffer the essential subjectivity of the choice of long-term discount rate.

In summary, SPSK raise important points but err in decrying a diversity of values, an essential feature of the very process they advocate. Their polarized framing, including an insinuation that so-called neoskeptics are financially motivated, is inconsistent with the kind of informed, thoughtful, and nuanced discussion of climate and energy that the world so badly needs.

JC reflections

Well, the Science article is interesting in the sense that SPSK attempt to define a new ‘tribe’ in the climate debate – neoskeptics. The definition of of ‘neoskeptic’ seems to be scientists who are well-versed in climate science, acknowledge the many uncertainties in climate science, and comment publicly about concerns that current climate policies may not have the desired impact on changing the climate and human welfare for the ‘better’ and are not commensurate with level and types of uncertainties in climate science, societal impacts, and unintended consequences of proposed policies.  Well ok, but why do SPSK think that neoskepticism is something that needs to be combatted?

The most important article in the past year that could be labeled as ‘neoskepticism’ is Michael Kelly’s paper Is much of our efforts to combat global warming making things worse?  Well, the answer seems to be an unequivocal ‘yes’.  Ah, now I see why SPSK think that neoskepticism needs to be combatted — it threatens the global imperative of carbon mitigation policies at any cost, even if the policies are futile in changing the climate, are damaging to economic and human development, and have other unintended negative consequences.

The mainstream media is showing some hints that they are starting to get it:

  • NYTimes: Another Inconvenient Truth: It’s Hard to Agree How to Fight Climate Change [link]
  • WaPo: ‘Let’s get some perspective’: Researchers say species face bigger threats than climate change [link]

The irony of this article is that SPSK seem to support carbon mitigation imperative at any cost, which is inconsistent with their understanding of uncertainty management.  A quote from their article:

The decision sciences suggest broad principles for uncertainty management, such as (i) adopting policies that will perform robustly across various plausible futures, (ii) pursuing a variety of policy strategies to increase the likelihood that some will yield good results, and (iii) organizing decision-making processes for flexibility and responsiveness.

What Steve Koonin is saying, and what I am saying, and what Michael Kelly is saying, is completely consistent with the tenets of decision making under uncertainty.  Chapter 2 of the IPCC AR5 WG2 Report Foundations for Decision Making is a  good document that outlines the basic principles.

Policies that make sense to me: adaptation to extreme events, energy technology R&D, dealing with real pollution of air/water/soil, and efforts to increase access to affordable and reliable energy.  Policies that don’t make sense to me:  emissions reductions goals that are infeasible and destined to be futile in having any significant impact on 21st century climate.

The really inconvenient truth is that we have absolutely no idea of how we can reduce carbon emissions to avoid a 1.5C or even 2C warming on the timescales predicted by climate models.  A new paper was published last week What would it take to achieve the Paris temperature targets?  From the abstract:

The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to limit warming to 2 or 1.5°C above preindustrial level, although combined Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are likely insufficient to achieve these targets. We propose a set of idealized emission pathways consistent with the targets. If countries reduce emissions in line with their INDCs, the 2°C threshold could be avoided only if net zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) are achieved by 2085 and late century negative emissions are considerably in excess of those assumed in Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 2.6. More aggressive near-term reductions would allow 2°C to be avoided with less end-of-century carbon removal capacity. A 10% cut in GHGEs by 2030 (relative to 2015) could likely achieve 2°C with RCP2.6 level negative emissions. The 1.5°C target requires GHGEs to be reduced by almost a third by 2030 and net zero by 2050, while a 50 year overshoot of 1.5°C allows net zero GHGEs by 2060.

This level of reductions/negative emissions is impossible with current technologies, not to mention the sociopolitical impediments.  Its time to acknowledge this, and start having a real discussion of a range of policies that could reduce our vulnerability to climate change, in whatever direction and whether natural or human caused.  Focusing our efforts on policies that are a priori woefully inadequate for a highly uncertain future climate simply doesn’t make policy or political sense.  THIS is the really inconvenient truth.

197 responses to “Some comments on neoskepticism

  1. Thank you, Professor Curry, for posting this information. I interpret it as an admission that the old “settled science” argument has failed.

  2. Adaptation (as per Judith’s final para) is what Bob Carter was advocating. For that he was pilloried by the Climate Church Faithful supporters of IPCC.

  3. Koonin is spot on. The need to tackle ‘neoskeptics’ arises from the increasingly apparent fact that they are ‘right’ and the warmunists have been ‘wrong’. Pause, no SLR acceleration, polar bears thriving, greening, renewables failing economically and concerning reliability, and all that. So all the warmunists have left is an appeal to the precautionary principle, which is both illogical and economic suicide.

    • So all the warmunists have left is an appeal to the precautionary principle, which is both illogical and economic suicide.

      Maybe not “economic suicide” if the “precautionary principle” is applied to the economic “interventions” that will supposedly “solve” the issue.

    • …all the warmunists have left is an appeal to the precautionary principle…

      Many of us believe the precautionary principle, properly applied, would not support useless/expensive “mitigation” efforts that only seem to line the pockets of Al Gore & partners.

    • Whole essay is creating a false narrative. Skeptics have been asking all these questions for decades. The big thing is that 15 years ago, a person could be reasonably concerned that the greenhouse affect would adversely change the weather since we didn’t have adequate data to know how fast and much weather would change due to GHGs. 15 years of additional data later and we should know now if the weather is changing in the ways that would cause significant adverse affects. We know we can take a reasoned approach addressing changes as they come and evaluating. We can take our time.

    • We have now reached our goal of stopping global CO2 increase. Because that is what the EIA has said has happened for the last two years. The first time without an economic recession. They believe that economic growth has decoupled from emissions growth. http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2016/march/decoupling-of-global-emissions-and-economic-growth-confirmed.html. Moreover, this is confirmed by the US having reached its highest GHG emissions in 2007 and has made a significant drop from since then.
      https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-04/documents/us-ghg-inventory-2016-chapter-executive-summary.pdf
      Thus even the most optimist of the IPCC scenarios was way to pessimistic
      http://www.ipcc-data.org/observ/ddc_co2.html
      If the pause shook the Climate community, this up ends it. One has to wonder why this has not been a headline story in the “Guardian” and the “NY Times”. Really, one has to wonder!

      • Or there really is an economic recession and it’s being hidden by rose colored government statistics.

      • Charles, it would have to be worldwide and started 2 years ago. Also wouldn’t explain US data and I understand the European data looks like the US.

      • By the way, I have to thank TurbulentEddy down stream for the info by EIA

      • Lots of things happening.

        Fracking->Cheap Nat Gas->Less Coal->reduced emissions
        Energy Efficient Product Replacement->reduced emissions
        Decreasing population -> reduced emissions
        Aging population -> reduced emissions

        The last two, decreasing and aging populations, also mean reduced economic growth. So it’s not necessarily recession, but slow growth also helps slow emissions. Some think that we’re still recovering from the financial crisis, and that may be. But I think demographics are more significant.

        Interesting times, indeed.

  4. Neoskeptics have a different risk/action threshold from the mainstream. It is not clear that any level of risk, as perceived by them not other people, would lead to action. For example BAU gives us 700 ppm CO2 and still rising at 2100. Many would say this is risky to glaciers at least, being somewhat higher than at any time in paleoclimate with polar glaciers. Neoskeptics do not see this scenario as a risk yet. Maybe 800 ppm would be? I don’t know. Somewhere there is a value of CO2 ppm that they would consider risky enough to try to avoid. They need to get together and decide what that is and why, because so far it looks limitless. The mainstream puts anything above about 450 ppm as risky enough to try to avoid, so that is one datapoint. Neoskeptics? Who knows? They don’t say.

    • There you go again.

      You’re clearly defining “action” in terms of your own agenda.

      For sane people, the risk of your agenda is much higher than the “climate” risk from CO2. That’s why they look for other approaches. Which you dismiss as “no action

    • Geoff Sherrington

      Jim D
      What evidence can you show for significant partial melting of the Antarctic ice cap in the last many-million years?
      There have been some extreme climates before. If they did not melt Antarctica significantly, why do you worry about the short-term future?

      • The last time CO2 was at 700 ppm, there was no Antarctic ice cap. What else do you need?

      • Yes, 34 milliion yeats ago Antarctica wasn’t at the South Pole, either. You want to mitigate plate tectonics, also? Nonsense statement.

      • It doesn’t support sea ice either. That disappears at even lower CO2 levels. I would bet that parts of Antarctica were as close to the pole as Greenland is today, however. By the way Greenland would not be supported for levels well below 700 ppm.

    • For example BAU gives us 700 ppm CO2 and still rising at 2100.

      No it doesn’t.

      • Yes, take population growth and development leading to per capita growth of CO2, gives you 700 ppm. Reducing per capita CO2 should be a goal in order to avoid this. This is also known as mitigation.

      • You can’t handle the truth. Try some numbers out.

      • catweazle666

        “You can’t handle the truth.”

        Jimbo, you are so wrapped up in your smug self-regarding fantasies that you wouldn’t recognise the truth if it scuttled under your noisome, slimy bridge, jumped up, and sank its teeth into your snout.

    • Jim D, define mainstream. Mainstream warmunists like Hansen who’s shrill nightmarish projections are now being discredited to the point of ridicule, mainstream debunked 97% consensus, mainstream renewable manufacturers now going bankrupt at accelerating rates (unlike SLR), mainstream LDCs like Tuvalu who continue to hope for a GCF windfall that is not materializing, or mainstream developed world voters who have apparently lost interest in alarmism as it isn’t happening (think Hayhoe 2011 and permanent Texas drought 2011)? Your mainstream is slowly but surely losing to objective facts over time, and ever more exposed self interests. Your mainstream will not stay mainstream; its high tide was 2007 AR4 and Copenhagen 2009. Both failed; former on truth, latter on action. Even Mother Nature seems arrayed against the warmunist mainstream at present. Pause returning, SLR not accelerating (new excuse paper), models failed, …

      • Mainstream 2-4 C per doubling which is almost everyone. Neoskeptics do not want to even define a ceiling CO2 level that they are comfortable with. The mainstream put it near 450 ppm. This is the key difference I see.

      • The mainstream put it near 450 ppm. This is the key difference I see.

        Personally, I’m not that comfortable with 400. It’s just that I’m a whole lot more uncomfortable with your socialist agenda.

      • It turns out we have about 50 years to reduce our emissions gradually, and they don’t all have to stop tomorrow. It is a gradual transition handled with modernization and natural phasing out rather than an abrupt scrapping of all fossil fuels. Some have the wrong impression of the time scale, so I thought I should mention it.

      • It turns out we have about 50 years to reduce our emissions gradually, and they don’t all have to stop tomorrow.

        IMO BAU will have it done by then.

        I have some ideas how it might be done sooner, without impacting energy prices…

      • JD, mainstream observational energy budget ECS is 1.5-1.8. Peer reviewed, multiple papers over now 3 years. Get your facts straight.

      • Jim D: Neoskeptics do not want to even define a ceiling CO2 level that they are comfortable with.

        Considering the benefits obtained so far by raising CO2 from 280 ppm to 400 ppm (benefits that you have in past neither rejected nor accepted), I am comfortable with a CO2 ceiling of 800 ppm, which I think is unlikely to arrive in the next 100 years. Getting a 2-4 C increase at the Earth surface from a doubling of CO2 is a proposition with almost no evidentiary support. The calculation of 2-4 C increase only applies to the Effective Radiating Layer of the atmosphere (c.f. Atmosphere, Clouds and Climate, by David Randall), and ignores that there are 3 processes that transfer energy from the Earth surface to the troposphere, but only 1 process for cooling the atmosphere.

      • It turns out we have about 50 years to reduce our emissions gradually,

        Looks like we may be fifty years ahead of schedule.

      • IPCC AR5 does not agree with these low-ball numbers. In fact you need 2.3 C per doubling as an effective transient value to explain this much warming with CO2.
        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/scale:0.01/offset:-3.25/plot/gistemp/from:1950/mean:12

      • (think Hayhoe 2011 and permanent Texas drought 2011)?

        March 20, 2012:

        Q: What kinds of impacts on environment, people and the society are we seeing as a result of the drought?

        A: The drought that we are experiencing right now, [the one] we are hopefully coming out of very soon, is going to have [a] fairly long-term impact. For example, we had enormous wildfires this year that burned down entire neighborhoods. … – Katherine Hayhoe

      • Jim, your graph superimposes the MLO data on top of a known 30 year period of natural cyclical warming… It warmed roughly from 1850-1880, cooled to 1910, warmed to 1940, cooled again to 1970, warmed to 2000 and now we are in the cooling phase again. If there is one thing that the pause should be teaching us, it’s that there is a bigger picture going on here. I could not have definitively written a comment like this one just a mere decade ago…

      • Jim D, you really need to read the late professor, Bob Carter’s book, “Taxing Air”.
        He gives answers to all your questions. Especially this, “To term carbon dioxide a pollutant is an abuse of language, logic and science”!
        More carbon dioxide is likely a major benefit to life and the environment.

      • Tom Harley, did Bob Carter ever mention what a 700 ppm world would look like? A lot of these types of people rush past specifics like that, and don’t even tell you that BAU leads to four times the current climate change.

      • IPCC AR5 does not agree with these low-ball numbers.

        Yes, the IPCC is not doing a very good job of matching even recent observations. Try considering observations, not high end projections.

      • I do consider observations, the last 60 years, during which 75% of the emissions have happened, and I get 2.3 C per doubling as just a transient sensitivity, so these low-ball ECS’s make absolutely no sense in that context.

      • Jim D’ Warmist, AGAIN, the last sixty years has a period of known natural cyclical warming within it. Thus, yours is a meaningless assertion…

      • The system is chaotic and non-linear, so talking about ~60ish-year cycles, or bits and pieces of them, makes no sense at all. All that can be done is to watch it as closely as our monitoring system will allow. Right now the monitoring system indicates onward and upward… aggressively.

        The priests of the AMO want to wait for it to go negative. What the chaotic and non-linear system is telling us is the AMO cannot go negative, and that the PDO cannot stay negative for long enough to make much difference. It points to a rapidly rising GMST for the rest of this century as the system is very sensitive to a radiation imbalance, and that imbalance will be positive, barring some huge volcanic activity, for almost every year for the rest of this century… no cooling.

        Of course, my real goal is to impose global socialism… free medical insurance for all… free housing… free education… 99% top marginal tax bracket… I want to turn productive workaholics into what God meant for them to be… the slaves of the unproductive.

      • I always wondered what you would think, this idea is it so far? It’s old hat to boot.

      • When the sixty year cycles become predictive (as in the “pause”) it makes perfect sense. We can no longer rule out the possibility that these cycles dominate. One thing is for sure, claims (like jim d’s) can no longer be used to “prove” agw and climate sensitivity estimates…

      • Simply untrue… ranks right up there with the enemy fighters could be birds.

      • Not if there are known to be flocks of birds in the area… How can you possibly be staking out the position that you’re taking here? There are known cycles of warming and they are now behaving as predicted. We can not rule out the possibility that these cycles dominate and that there is something wrong with our current understanding of agw. (Simply true…)

      • JCH:
        A 60ish year cycle could be bi-stability in a region such as the Northern Pacific indicated by the PDO. There is some tendency to call an index as positive or negative. We may agree we got half a pause, splitting the difference between the two sides. The atmosphere was sensitive to something else as well. It’s my understanding that sensitivity to CO2 means sensitivity to all things such as increased water vapor lacking a CO2 increase. Or a change in the ocean/atmosphere interface.
        “Below the sea surface, historical measurements of temperature are far sparser, and the warming is more gradual, about 0.01°C per decade at 1,000 meters.” – Scripps
        So I have to go to 1000 meters deep to make a point. Atmospheric temperatures I’d suggest are sensitive to stable things. Things that aren’t going to warm materially when compared to the atmosphere because of their thermal mass. The faster the mixing between 1000 meters and 0 meters the slower the temperature gains in the atmosphere. Isn’t this what they found? It was in the oceans. A while back I mentioned that it appears CO2 warms the oceans as argued at RealClimate and it does so by insulating the surface of the oceans. The atmosphere would then be sensitive to a decrease of ocean to atmosphere transfers. It’s interesting that if we use SSTs as a stand in over the oceans for atmospheric temperatures, a graphic would show the additional trapped in the ocean warmth as in the atmosphere. Trapped in the ocean means not kind of trapped in the ocean, but as RealClimate argued. It didn’t last 10 minutes, it lasted long enough to say the oceans are warming because of CO2.

      • Ragnaar, more RN Jones…

        Reconciling the signal and noise of
        atmospheric warming on decadal timescales

        Our major assumption about a warming climate is that regime shi
        fts (an organised and abrupt change in the structure and function of a system), red‐noise driven shifts in the variable under analysis, random shifts and trending behaviour are all possible. In such a system, abrupt changes will become more common, therefore increase relative risk if those changes are driving impacts. This is the main purpose for the bivariate test in this paper, where it is being used to detect large shifts in mean temperature.

      • Ragnaar, right, and if the oceans are warming because of CO2 then the atmosphere is not… (at least not as much)

      • catweazle666

        “Mainstream 2-4 C per doubling which is almost everyone.”

        No it isn’t, not even close.

        Stop making stuff up.

        It’s running around 1.5°C per doubling, possibly less. And dropping all the time.

        Live with it.

    • Jim D I think you miss the point (or confirm what is the problem with many who want drastic action immediately). There are at least two prior risks that need to be assessed objectively before one gets to assess before one starts bringing action thresholds into play.

      First what is the current risk of getting to 700ppm CO2 over what time frame?

      Second what is the risk to glaciers of various levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

      Then you need to move on to objectively assess what are the risks to humanity of changes to the glaciers.

      If you systematically, scientifically and objectively work your way through the risk assessment and the uncertainties you will get to the point where you can start to have a discussion about subjective acceptance of risk and whether one should be precautionary about it.

      I for one see that there is a risk of glaciers melting and this having an adverse impact on humanity (I think you’ll find that sea ice collapse is actually more of a worry given any level of temperature rise), but I also know the cost of responding today is very high and and much more certain. There are trade offs both ways remembering that the consequences of an event today are much higher than the consequences in 100 years time. these slowly evolving risks are much less risky than random events like Tsunami.

      So to have a discussion about how best to manage risks you can’t start from where you are at. You aren’t talking about the actual real world risk we might be seeking to manage (with at least some attempt to quantify the components). You are trying manage a made up risk in scenario world where things sound as though they have an artificial (and made up) certainty. In the real world they don’t and you can’t start to mange the risks (or even have a conversations about it) until you move beyond this point.

      • The Arctic warming is driven by increased negative NAO, that’s got nothing to do with rising CO2.

      • Everyone can work through their own assessment of what risks occur at what CO2 levels. That is the minimal unifying piece that is needed for a policy. It should be a first step. Neoskeptics have to provide that number, otherwise it looks like they will take any level of risk to avoid action, which comes across as political.

      • HAS, see my previous guest posts here. By Land or By Sea exposed academic misconduct concerning claims of sudden ice sheet collapse during thr Eemian. Tipping Points expalined why, despite PR hype, there arent any concerning SLR. And the newest SLR, acceleration, and closure essay explained how accelerating SLR was ‘manufactured’ by splicing two inconsistent records, the higher of which cannot be right because does not close. Sleep well; no problem is observationally evident.

      • Sorry, I just said it was “more of a worry” I didn’t say how much of a worry. The point is that we routinely simply accept risks with a much higher probability of occurrence over the next 100 years and with similar consequences, and that by being random they are much more difficult to manage.

        Jim D – it should be the first step, so why don’t you have a go. If you want to take drastic action (i.e. impose high certain costs today) then I think the onus is on you to start the dialog.

        Further when it comes to management we have the luxury of watching these risks evolve, and this creates the option of waiting 10 years and seeing how it looks like it is turning out (particularly with further data). So when it comes to proposing drastic action you need to be thinking about the value of doing nothing for a while (or only doing the low cost things that protect from the more certain consequences).

        But we haven’t got to the point of managing the risk yet because you haven’t told us what it is in terms that we can agree upon.

      • HAS, as I have said, a 50-75 year process of modernizing energy generation and use is not disruptive. It is just gradual progress. All it needs is some statement of priorities for research and development, and some targets like the near-term 2030 IPCC ones together with regular monitoring of progress towards these targets, determining best practices, and helping developing countries along the path to low emissions. This is what Paris is. It should be encouraged, not attacked.

      • Jim D:

        …as I have said, a 50-75 year process of modernizing energy generation and use is not disruptive.

        That’s what we are doing now, with or without CAGW fears. Most of it is being driven by technological advances and economic realities. The purpose of Paris was to step in and select winners (and losers) in this process. That has been, and will continue to be, resisted. Not just by skeptics but also by the massive inertia of the global economy.

        IMO the debate over climate change policies is likely to remain along the margins of global, macroeconomic trends.

      • opluso, the purpose of Paris is to keep the overall global target in sight and measure progress against it. Individual countries would not be doing that. If it is already happening, why all the complaining? Clearly that battle is already lost, and coal is being left in the ground.

      • Jim D:

        If it is already happening, why all the complaining?

        Yes, my question exactly.

        Natural gas is displacing coal because it is typically cleaner, cheaper for electricity generation (especially in the US). Numerous regulations (almost none of which are solely climate concerns) help make coal less competitive but I wouldn’t repeal them in a frenzy of free market excess.

        The success of Paris (COP 21), on the other hand, depends on changes in the future that are unlikely to occur. Otherwise, it is merely a bureaucrat full employment project.

      • Jim D: HAS, as I have said, a 50-75 year process of modernizing energy generation and use is not disruptive. It is just gradual progress.

        That also does not require government intervention. If that is what you propose (you are never quite clear what policies you propose), do you oppose government intervention?

      • Matthew Marler, it doesn’t require government intervention if everyone in power knows we should be reducing emissions already and are progressing in that direction. Looking at Congress, I am not sure we are there yet in the US at least because I see some resistance left. For many other nations, public knowledge about CO2 does mean that the government doesn’t have to reinforce the general motivation of society, but it can support and stimulate positive developments while deterring poor emission behaviors. It is especially important for advanced countries to compete on the world market in the growing green industries of the future. Perhaps the government can help start-ups.

    • “The mainstream puts anything above about 450 ppm as risky enough to try to avoid, so that is one datapoint. Neoskeptics? Who knows? They don’t say.”

      How can anyone put a figure on CO2 levels, when there is, even by IPCC AR5 admission, “low confidence” in the damage function? You are assuming that we KNOW the risk that 700ppm poses and the costs involved – to society, and to nature.
      The truth is, we don’t know this.
      So it is a risk of unknown proportions. How much should be spent on this unknown risk? Using whose projections and why those ones? What does the solution you propose cost society and how do you know what the cost is? What is the uncertainty in all these things and how was it calculated? What are the consequences if you are wrong – mildly wrong (warming does not happen or not to the extent you project) or wildly wrong (we get cooling)?
      All of these remain unanswered – perhaps they may be unanswerable. If so, you should state this. And even if all these are answerable or stipulated as unanswerable, the choice to act (or not) is not solely based on the answers you give – because not everyone sees risks in the same way or compensation for damage the same way, or compensation for lost opportunity the same way. These need to be negotiated – political, and geopolitical negotiations.
      It’s all hideously complicated to get done. You’re asking people to make choices without giving them sufficient information to make an informed choice, then complaining because they won’t make the choice you think is right!

      • As I mentioned, this is not a sudden stopping of emissions that anyone is asking for. It is a program beginning now that would reduce emissions to close to zero over a period of 50-75 years. This is a modernization plan that fits in with replacing aging energy systems with better ones, and helping the developing world to use sensible choices as they grow their energy use. This time scale is not drastic. It amounts to a 1-2% reduction in emissions per year. To some extent we have already started on that path that in the more advanced countries with the 2030 goals.

      • richardscourtney

        Jim D;

        You say,
        “As I mentioned, this is not a sudden stopping of emissions that anyone is asking for. It is a program beginning now that would reduce emissions to close to zero over a period of 50-75 years.”

        I invoke the Precautionary Principle (PP) to reject introduction of any such “program”.

        There is no empirical evidence for anthropogenic (i.e. man-made) global warming (AGW); none, zilch, nada.

        Santer made the only claim to have found some empirical evidence for AGW. That was in the 1990s. However, his ‘evidence’ was soon shown to be a result of his having selected data from a data set when the entire set showed no indication of AGW (i.e. his ‘evidence’ was a result of either incompetence or deliberate misconduct).
        The late John Daly provides an excellent summary of that scandal here
        http://www.john-daly.com/sonde.htm

        Indeed, there is no evidence that foreseeable levels of atmospheric CO2 concentration would be harmful in any way.

        The complete lack of any empirical reason to curtail CO2 emissions induces those who advocate curtailing the emissions to rely on projections of not-validated computer models. But no model’s predictions should be trusted unless the model has demonstrated forecasting skill. And no existing climate model has existed for 20, 50 or 100 years, so no climate model has demonstrated forecasting skill.

        Simply, the climate models’ predictions of the future have the same demonstrated reliability as the casting of chicken bones to predict the future.

        Importantly, stopping the emissions would reduce fossil fuel usage with resulting economic damage. This would be worse than the ‘Oil Crisis’ of the 1970s because the reduction would be greater, would be permanent, and energy use has increased since then. The economic disruption would be world-wide. Major effects would be in the developed world because it has the largest economies. Worst effects would be on the world’s poorest peoples: people near starvation are starved by it.

        The precautionary principle says we should NOT accept the risks of certain economic disruption in attempt to control the world’s climate on the basis of assumptions that have no supporting empirical evidence and merely because they have been described using computer games.

        Richard

      • Jim D: As I mentioned, this is not a sudden stopping of emissions that anyone is asking for.

        It depends on what you mean by “sudden”. You apparently advocate a change-over taking 50-75 years, but AAAS has petitioned the US govt for “urgent” action; also, Sen Shelden Whitehouse has called for a RICO investigation into people who don’t accept the case that urgent action is needed.

        From the headline article: Opponents of policies to limit anthropogenic climate change (ACC) have offered a changing set of arguments—denying or questioning ACC’s existence, magnitude, and rate of progress, the risks it presents, the integrity of climate scientists, and the value of mitigation efforts.

        If you truly advocate the 50-75 year timeline that you write of, then you are one of the opponents of the policies proposed by, for example, the State of California. You are closer to Trump than to Clinton:http://www.vox.com/2016/5/9/11548354/hillary-clintons-climate-and-energy-policies-explained.

        At least, if you are advocating a 50-75 year transition.

      • The rates proposed for 2025 by Hillary’s plan are consistent. The 50-75 year timeline only works with a relatively linear decrease throughout the period, no later weighting. This does imply starting now. They say 25-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, but also that 11% is already achieved meaning 14-17% in 10 years. This is in line with the 1-2% reduction per year I mentioned as being necessary. Most countries signing on to Paris have similarly doable goals for 2025 or 2030, and some out to 2050, which need to be revisited every 5 years as we progress towards them.

      • from the Vox page: And as Clinton has said, “Climate change is too urgent a threat to wait on Congress.” So she’s developed a strategy that doesn’t require waiting.

        “Obama’s progress to date”, cited in the article, is principally the CO2 reduction due to fracking for natural gas. On the record to date, a 50-75 year change-over does not require “urgent” government action. And it does not require circumventing the people’s elected representatives or any of the rest of the Constitution.

      • It does require steady action like the CPP to keep the momentum going. Also fuel efficiency standards and increasing the renewable fraction will be key near-term strategies for this target to be reachable.

      • It does require steady action like the CPP to keep the momentum going.

        I don’t think so.

        Falling population and economic incentive are what are leading to the fall in emissions in the developed economy. Corrupt bureaucracies doling out exceptions to their friends slow economic development and make things worse.

    • Jim when you read all the rhetoric about the rapture, why didn’t you take the necessary action? I mean, it was a serious threat wasn’t it? If you didn’t obey, you would lose not merely your life but your eternal soul. So why didn’t you listen to Camping?

    • Your “BAU” is poorly defined and likely based on an IPCC case I think is very weak.

      • It is conservative relative to IPCC, but 700 ppm is easily within reach by 2100. Emissions only have to average 50 GtCO2 per year through 2100, which assumes only a small conservative per capita growth from 6 tonnes per person per year and a conservative population growth to 10 billion.

    • Danny Thomas

      JimD,
      ” For example BAU gives us 700 ppm CO2 and still rising at 2100.”

      I don’t foresee a high likelyhood that BAU (RCP 8.5) will occur even under BAU.

      Things change, and are changing. There is an awareness of the issue even if there is a lack of agreement as to cause and outcomes. Energy efficiency and emissions are improving. Land use must be folded in to include Ag, urban planning, and transportation. Improvement has side benefit even lacking consensus on cause/effect and sensitivities agreements. These are areas of foundation.

      I find your characterizations unreasonable. This kind of approach compounds the problem in to a continuation of right vs. wrong.

      Those who can’t (or won’t) see the ‘common ground’ help to insure it’s lack of growth.

      • Yes, I do see a global move towards reducing emissions, but I also see the Republicans in Congress irrationally trying to block progress in that direction. Now, I know these are just dead-enders that should be ignored, but they still hold influence for now. There are also the neoskeptics who say we can’t do anything about it, so we shouldn’t try. I disagree. Global emissions can be affected by thousands of GtCO2 by 2100 depending on policy, having a significant effect on global temperatures and its trend. It’s called keeping your eyes on the prize. Assuming things will just happen is not a good policy.

      • Danny Thomas

        JimD,

        There’s a distinction between ‘assuming’ something will happen and seeing that it already is. Some due to policy, some due to individual action (of which most ‘seriously concerned’ say will have little if any impact which has a ‘side benefit’ of removing personal responsibility), and some due to market forces.

        Don’t accept the term ‘neoskeptics’ as a polite use of ‘denier’. This will not help the situation.

    • Jim D:
      You may have a point. For the past 20 years I have never reacted to a market drop. I have a roughly 70/30 stock/bond mix almost all of it in low cost domestic and international index funds. Most of us have heard of people who over-react. Selling after a market dip and buying after a rise. To be honest, my approach is I don’t know what the market will do, and neither does anyone else. Not one individual unless they have insider information. I’ve done pretty well, but the markets are up now. So I am hands off, patient, and to date haven’t hit the panic button. The recent El Nino sort of looked like experts talking about a current stock market. All the likely worthless analysis. To make a reach, Joe Stock Guy says the current market highs prove this or that. NASA may not say they mean anything, but they sure tell us records just happened. Stock gains are unequivocal and caused by X. Experts agree about 33% caused by this combination of tax law changes, road building, or something. So I don’t care what any expert says about risk in stock markets. They are just flipping coins and using a lot of computer power, for some software that does not make you rich. I have extreme risk averse clients, who have been left in the dust earning 1% on their CDs. The crime with that is they had piece of mind at the cost of a lot of their potential wealth and the independence that comes from that. What if the government said the stock market is too risky? It can be. That is mitigation policies being implemented. As I rely on the Russell 5000 companies, I take risks. And I have been rewarded. I don’t accept that I should dial my risk back. So there is a risk of opportunities lost by being too conservative.

      • Physics…

        The worthless analyses were not characterized by “warmest evah”.

        They were characterized by “global warming has stopped”; “no warming 18 years”; “the pause has falsified climate models”; “the pause in warming could last until 2025”; “not the warmest year according to satellites”; “satellites provide the best data”; etc.

      • JCH:
        Fair point. The talk of the pause was also people asking what does this mean? The other experts must be wrong. The worthless analysis was more aimed it the financial people. On times frames of the next 3 years, where will the climate be? The PDO flips, (jury still out) this will cause run up in the climate markets. The AMO flips or does a handstand, climate markets down? The heat goes into the oceans, you can set your watch by my prediction of when that will stop. Hopefully back to somewhere near the point, up to this day, the risk tolerant were rewarded financially and could have just tuned out all the financial experts. They were better off. Where would this country be if we didn’t have risk tolerant people?

      • The analogy I would use here is whether you want an adrenaline junkie driving the bus. There’s taking risks for yourself and being responsible for others. Policy makers have to be more like bus drivers than sports car drivers. So far, the neoskepticals have not indicated what level of risk, if any, causes them to take action. If there is no level of risk for that, we do better not listening to them because that would be a sign of impaired judgement.

      • JimD,
        “So far, the neoskepticals have not indicated what level of risk, if any, causes them to take action.”

        Do the ‘neoalarmists’ recognize that ‘action’ is ‘being taken’ organically?

        There are two sides in this.

      • Action is being taken, and no harm has come of it, which is why the opposition to it is so outdated as a view. Paris is used for encouraging and monitoring this ongoing action, yet still has opponents. You tell me.

      • Jim D:
        I don’t want to get on to the bus. The driver might be my President saying Carbon is pollution, so I’ll just skip that ride. The next bus might be a stimulus package, next. I think that each person should determine the level of risk they are comfortable with. With risk comes opportunities. I think it was addressed by JC that there are those ready to take action such as adaptation and increased access to affordable energy. A bus I might get on would be soil carbon restoration for agricultural land. And given the right deal, you’d get some farmers to get on board.

      • Allow small acreage farmers and ranchers to once more get a break on taxes, they take a risk every year and they never seem to have any idle hands sitting around… besides small town auctions are fun.

      • If things unfold like they did when Jim Corter, was put out of office and Ron Reagan, got the hostages out of Iran the very same day (444). It did not take long to get the hint that things were different… which explains 1983. Oh, Harry’s Café & Steak…memorable days I think.

      • Ragnaar says “With risk comes opportunities.” Yes, and I would modify that to say with the recognition of risk comes opportunities. Some are saying there’s no risk, let’s just keep doing the same old thing emitting to eternity. That’s the population I would be addressing. A lot of them are in Congress.

    • Honestly Jim D, I do not understand why your ilk aren’t deathly afraid of glaciers.

  5. Geoff Sherrington

    Fine, but what is the main impediment to getting these spot-on messages heard by those who need to hear?
    The slow way is to wait for events to give better data.
    The fast way is like a form of the “immediate and cost-be-damned” mitigation that would close large numbers of electricity generators and lead to mayhem. Can neoskeptics evolve a more realistic, detailed, plausible, multi-author fast mitigation set, cost it and have it heard?
    The “do nothing” approach could well be right but it is hard to sell.

    • The first step is to get public policy based on more systematic assessment of the risks and then adoption of modern techniques for managing risks under uncertainty.

      The big problem is the mainstream engineering profession are not stepping in and saying setting arbitrary thresholds for progressively evolving risks isn’t the way to optimally mange them.

  6. So Orwellian, ACC, the neo blanket name for AGW
    – if it changes its Anthro.

    And SPSK would seem to support mitigation of CO2 at
    any cost? – Is this the Neo Warmism Under Uncertainty
    stance?

    • Beth, warmunists continue to invoke the precautionary principle despite it having been economically debunked by Tol, Lomborg, and others long ago. They just no longer use the name that can not be mentioned. They got nothing else left. Regards to down under from up over.
      This serf has a bunch of firewood to still lay in on the farm–winter is coming soon and it will likely be a dozy. Diesel tractor, logging chains, trusty chainsaws and splitting mauls all at the ready as soon as the summer heat breaks. Figure mid September up over.
      We just got the final third alfalfa cut in (field dried, waterproof round baled/wrapped) except for a rented 40 acres. Finished up at 3 am, cause rain was forecast and in fact came next morning about 8 am. By then, my guys were half finished with the morning milking. Serfs work hard, long, and late. But don’t need fitness club memberships.

      • You’ve been busy, Rud, the naychur way, storing up,
        hunkering down fer whether, whatever, – not wasting
        $$$$$$$$$$$ of yr resilience so yr at the mercy of
        the elements … like we used ter be before fossil fuel
        technology.

  7. Apparently these authors are dreaded “neoskeptics” too.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160323152508.htm#.VvkQjt-fbkw.twitter
    Efforts to curtail world temps will almost surely fail

    Last December, officials representing more than 190 countries met in Paris to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The historic outcome from that conference was the “Paris Agreement” in which each country agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above temperatures seen near the start of the Industrial Revolution in the 1850s. Such a level was considered acceptable, or “safe,” by all participating countries, but the goal is unrealistic and almost impossible to achieve, according to a new study by two Texas A&M University at Galveston researchers.

    “It would require rates of change in our energy infrastructure and energy mix that have never happened in world history and that are extremely unlikely to be achieved,” explains Jones.

    “Just considering wind power, we found that it would take an annual installation of 485,000 5-megawatt wind turbines by 2028. The equivalent of about 13,000 were installed in 2015. That’s a 37-fold increase in the annual installation rate in only 13 years to achieve just the wind power goal,” adds Jones.

    “To even come close to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, 50 percent of our energy will need to come from renewable sources by 2028, and today it is only 9 percent, including hydropower. For a world that wants to fight climate change, the numbers just don’t add up to do it.”

  8. I’m pretty sure that few if any here, including myself, can, without looking it up, name the annual average temperature of their locale within 1F. And folks here, by reading and commenting here, are those with an interest in climate.

    Why don’t people know this metric? Because it doesn’t matter.
    Annual average temperature is a real and calculable but mostly irrelevant number. Global annual average temperature likewise.

    That there are changes in the global annual average temperature ( assumed from changes in the temperature anomalies ) is fine but those extrapolating climate change as a result not only lack evidence to support their claims, the weak trends that do exist tend to run counter to claims.

    • Charles Taylor

      +1

    • We should all focus on the polar weathers (North and South) and keep a close eye on Greenland and west Antarctica. And sea level change.

    • Turbulent Eddie,

      Not only do people not know their local temperature metric, they do not reliably remember the last time it was this hot/cold/wet/dry/etc. Those people who make claims about having lived here for 20 years and never saw it so ___________, have no concept of how trivial that 20 years actually is in the actual scale of climate. Similarly our climate record now is only a hint of what the climate actually is or should be.

  9. Turb Ed, not only us readers but also the modelers don’t know the global average temperature. I once checked the absolute average (rather than the average anomaly) of the models and found wide disagreement. Can’t remember for sure, but I think it ranged from about 14 to 17 C.

  10. “denying or questioning ACC’s existence, magnitude, and rate of progress, the risks it presents, the integrity of climate scientists, and the value of mitigation efforts.”

    he forgot “statistics”. we also question their statistics.
    two examples:
    (1) the strong correlation between cumulative emissions and cumulative warming that supports the lacis control knob idea does not constitute empirical evidence of a causal relationship between emissions and warming because correlations between cumulative values are spurious.
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2725743
    (2) in the ipcc carbon budget, they state uncertainties in natural flows but ignore them when carrying out the carbon budget accounting. if we don’t ignore the stated ipcc uncertainties we find that uncertainties in natural flows are too large to detect fossil fuel emissions. this result is inconsistent with the idea that we can dial in a temperature rise just by changing the rate of fossil fuel emissions.
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2654191

    More
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=2220942

    • Geoff Sherrington

      chaamjamal
      Hopefully, people are reading your offerings because they have interesting information. I have not seen much of a challenge to it.
      It is plausible that you are correct, or mostly so, giving an outcome where people press forward in ignorance, which is not the proper path to scientific progress.
      Geoff.

  11. Good piece. The part about our knowledge getting better as we get better data and understanding improves is a very good one. In 15 years, we may have a much better handle on ECS for example based on historical data. A lot of the “countering neoskeptics” effort could be better spent on reducing uncertainties and doing real science.

    • BTW, there is even hope climate models might also get better, but one must first acknowledge that they are currently very bad to start that process.

      • David, there you have it. With ipcc contributors like hans von storch hopefully things will get straightened out before too long…

      • 2013:

        Storch: There are two conceivable explanations — and neither is very pleasant for us. The first possibility is that less global warming is occurring than expected because greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have less of an effect than we have assumed. This wouldn’t mean that there is no man-made greenhouse effect, but simply that our effect on climate events is not as great as we have believed. The other possibility is that, in our simulations, we have underestimated how much the climate fluctuates owing to natural causes.

    • “Doing real science,” however, isn’t part of the program.

      The program consists of first deciding upon a predetermined political agenda. Junk science is then used, as the infamous Downing Street memo revealed, “to fix the facts and intelligence around the policy.”

      • …We provide a software environment where scientific groups can develop new physics and new algorithms concurrently, and coordinate periodically. This is the GFDL Flexible Modeling System (FMS), operational here since 1999, and the basis of our flagship models CM2.0 and CM2.1 used in the IPCC AR4 campaign.

        The environment allows algorithms to be expressed on a variety of high-end computing architectures using common and easy-to-use expressions of the underlying platforms, spanning distributed and shared memory, as well as vector architectures. This is the MPP layer of the FMS, developed here with the advent of the Cray T3E in 1998, and still in active use and development toward new architectures and new algorithms. …

        Climate modelers like the above are exceptionally talented, resourceful, and honest. Their goal is to add to understanding of the climate system, and they have never stopped improving the models.

    • David Young,

      I do think there is generally too much focus on temperatures and ECS and not enough on the impacts and on defining the damage function. We have very little evidence that global warming and increased CO2 concentrations will do more harm than good (AR5 WG3 Chapter 3 makes that clear). It’s all unsupported assumption. ECS is not important if the damages of warming are negligible. The damages may even be negative, in which case increasing CO2 will be net beneficial. We just don’t know. We need research to define the damage function and reduce the uncertainties.

      • Peter

        I’d be inclined to say the “damage function” is pretty second order. If we could have a good handle on the likelihood of events (both positive and negative) this gets us a long way without having to get into the detail of the consequences (both +ve and -ve). And without an understanding of the pdf of the events (and their uncertainty over time) a “damage function” has little meaning.

        I should add that I note the term “damage function” seems to be a construct of environmental hazard assessment that seems to preclude the possibility of good things happening i.e. it won’t be very useful in any CBA because it only tells you a very limited bit of the puzzle – no upsides (in contrast to ISO 31000), no damage from depriving property rights today.

      • HAS,

        If we could have a good handle on the likelihood of events (both positive and negative) this gets us a long way without having to get into the detail of the consequences (both +ve and -ve).

        Risk is defined as consequence of an event multiplied by the probability that that consequence will occur. Therefore you have to know both the consequence and the probability density function of it occurring. You cannot do CBA without knowing the consequence. You cannot estimate the consequence without the damage function. The damage function converts global temperature change to net economic benefit (or net economic cost). It handles both costs and benefits. Richard Tol shows that CO2 emissions and global temperature over the past century were a net benefit. That trend is likely to continue for some considerable time.

      • HAS,

        You may have missed the quotes from AR5 WG3 on the damage function on the previous thread:
        https://judithcurry.com/2016/08/13/week-in-review-science-edition-50/#comment-803352

      • Peter

        What I’m saying is forget all about the damage function. It has no real use outside the narrow area where you are concerned about the consequences of a limited event e.g. a flood. It won’t do for the kind of problem you are seeking to apply it to.

        Second, forget about these global measures of risk. They are meaningless. “Risk management” requires a manager, and who do propose as the manager of the globe who will use this stuff?

        You need to get down to the people affected, and at the highest level that will be the nation states. They are the ones managing the risks who need the analysis to help them. And when you work at this level you quickly find you aren’t aggregating all kinds of different risks, you can be quite specific. The weather may change, the sea level may rise and the climate might improve or not, depending on what you were brought up with.

        And down at this level the events get so constrained that you can do first cut assessments by just knowing the pdf of the event in time.

        Round here the where sea level might go up there are really just three classes of damage. Undeveloped land might get eroded, and everyone yawns. Beach front properties might get undermined or flooded and that has happened in the past and people have been upset but adapted. Some major infrastructure might be a risk, but if it is occurring it can be anticipated and managed on the timescales involved.

        You really don’t need to know anything much more than that. The much more important thing is when and how certain are we are about what might happen. In practice the insurance industry has strong incentives to understand this, much more than government land use planners.

        So look at the practical local detail and you don’t need to buy into all this meaningless global stuff. It’s bad for you.

      • HAS,

        What I’m saying is forget all about the damage function. It has no real use outside the narrow area where you are concerned about the consequences of a limited event e.g. a flood.

        That is incorrect. The damage function is the basis of cost benefit analysis for the total estimated damage cost and the total mitigation costs over projected times in the future. It is the basis for justification for policy, for estimating the Social Cost of Carbon, for economic cost-benefit of carbon taxes, etc. It is the basis for the cost-benefit analyses to justify climate policy. Have you read about the IAMs such as DICE, PAGE, FUND etc? Do you know what is the basis for the Stern Review and the IPCC economic analyses?

        This chart compares various analyses of the net benefit of optimal carbon pricing. This is what IAMs do; the damage function is the key input.

        Read about the damage function here: http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf
        I can give you links to the assumptions and the calibration of the DICE damage function if you want to dig deeper.

      • Peter

        I understand the various techniques that try to integrate economics with changes in the climate.

        My point, that I think you my not yet have grasped is that they are a waste of time. There are much better sources of information to use to help manage risks that might arise from climate change.

      • HAS,

        My point, that I think you may not yet have grasped is that they [IAMs and damage function?] are a waste of time. There are much better sources of information to use to help manage risks that might arise from climate change.

        If you can’t quantify the damage function, how can you decide if it is worth spending money on trying to reduce the consequence?

        And when you work at this level [individual countries or regions within countries] you quickly find you aren’t aggregating all kinds of different risks, you can be quite specific.

        That’s the level policy analysts work at now. Look at the example of the Australian Treasury’s justification for the Australian ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’, dubbed the “Carbon Tax”. It operated for 2 years before the government was thrown out of office in a landslide and the legislation was repealed. The analysis and results are explained here: http://carbonpricemodelling.treasury.gov.au/content/default.asp
        In short, the discounted cost per individual for the period 2012 to 2050 amounted to $17,000 per person if paid up front in 2012, or $58,000 per person if paid over the 37 years. A person with a family of three dependents who wanted to pay upfront to get the discounted price, would have to pay for all four family members at a cost of $68,000 in 2012. That’s in the hope of gaining an intangible benefit of $5,400 in reduced climate damages over the next 37 years.

        And down at this level the events get so constrained that you can do first cut assessments by just knowing the pdf of the event in time.

        No you can’t. The pdf of the event over time does not tell you the damage cost. You have to estimate the overall benefits and damage costs to justify expenditure on mitigation action. Furthermore, mitigation policies have no effect unless they are global.

        Round here the where sea level might go up there are really just three classes of damage. Undeveloped land might get eroded, and everyone yawns. Beach front properties might get undermined or flooded and that has happened in the past and people have been upset but adapted. Some major infrastructure might be a risk, but if it is occurring it can be anticipated and managed on the timescales involved.

        Beachfront properties get undermined because erosion is a continuous process that’s been going on for 4 billion years. It has nothing to do with climate change. The damages of the additional rise due to human caused GHG emissions is inconsequential: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11027-010-9220-7 .

        You really don’t need to know anything much more than that. The much more important thing is when and how certain are we are about what might happen.

        You don’t know the consequences of what might happen without a damage function – a regional or local damage function if that’s what you want.

        However, it seems to me you are not wanting to justify mitigation, only adaptation and improved risilience. Is that correct – i.e. you oppose mitigation policies? If you support mitigation, how do you decide how much to spend and how much is too much?

      • Peter

        We were discussing something quite specific – the use of a “damage function” at the global level. You were saying it was the next best thing since sliced bread, I said it was a flaw concept to apply outside its original use in measuring a specific impact in environmental risks and its use had little use in the global context because it end up as hand waving.

        You have now moved to talking about the damage in generic terms “if you can’t measure the damage … “. Of course you need to be able to estimate the consequences of an event (+ve and -ve), and that’s what I did in respect of coastal erosion (it changes with sea level rise that changes with warming).

        You then point to the Oz govt work modelling the impact of carbon prices on the economy. From a quick look it appears like national macro economic scenario modeling of the economy and doesn’t seem to contain any mention of a “damage function” in the reports. In fact to show how mainstream the term is in economic analysis if I ask Google to search for [site:treasury.gov.au “damage function”] it tells me it gets no hits.

        In the end you argue that we have to use these global models baaed on damage functions in order to justify mitigation. Part of the problem of using something called a “damage function” globally to justify mitigation is that it is pretty much in the category of “when did you stop beating your wife”. Mitigation (avoidance) like adaption is just another tool in the toolbox of managing risk. A risk manager trades off the costs and benefits of using any tool available, including the option of waiting and seeing or only dealing with the most obvious of risks or just accepting the consequences.

        The point is the risks can only be managed locally (whether mitigation or adaption or acceptance), even if they may need to be addressed collectively. If some jurisdictions are imposing costs on others by their actions then the first thing they need to get straight is how likely are the relevant events. Any claim by an aggrieved nation reduces to the question of what are you doing to me (not the globe)? It is hard to think of social costs that are external to all nations.

        And my point is that it is much better to think about it that way. It forces precision and consideration of all relevant factors in an otherwise woolly domain. And also just do “risk management” without using concepts like “damage functions”.

      • HAS,

        We were discussing something quite specific – the use of a “damage function” at the global level. You were saying it was the next best thing since sliced bread,

        That is a major misunderstanding or a misrepresentation. Please re-read my comments and the links I provided to better understand what I am arguing. You’ve grossly misunderstood what I am saying (perhaps my problem for not writing more clearly and fully from the start – but that is your problem too). Therefore, there is no point continuing on this when you are arguing against something I never said, never implied and is incorrect. I could correct you and explain again, but I doubt we’d progress at the moment.

        When a comment starts with a misrepresentation and follows with a strawman argument, a rational discussion is not possible. I read your whole comment but the misunderstanding is so deep seated and you make no reference to much of what I’ve linked to, so no point continuing until you can faithfully represent what I am advocating. I would like to continue but only if we can progress without misrepresenting the position of the other person.

        Here’s some background on the big picture:

        https://judithcurry.com/2016/07/12/are-energy-budget-climate-sensitivity-values-biased-low/#comment-796768

        http://anglejournal.com/article/2015-11-why-carbon-pricing-will-not-succeed/

        https://judithcurry.com/2016/08/13/week-in-review-science-edition-50/#comment-803352

      • HAS,

        You began your first comment with:

        I’d be inclined to say the “damage function” is pretty second order.

        IAMs are used to estimate SCC and net costs and benefits of unmitigated GHG emissions and the net costs and benefits of mitigation policies. They require a damage function to do this. Since these estimates are being used to justify country and international climate policies, it is naive to believe they are not having a significant effect on country’s policies, international negotiations, global economics, diplomacy and international agreements and even treaties. Therefore, you cannot just wish them away. You have to make your case (better than you have to me so far). My approach is to demonstrate that the damage functions based on sparse and poor data, are highly uncertain and very likely biased towards high damages. I’d suggest you should be working in parallel with me, not against me. I am trying to get people to recognise that the SCC and damages are significantly over estimated. You can work in parallel and offer the better solution.

        I do tend to agree with most of what I think you are suggesting. However, I’d offer a variation. I don’t think what you are suggesting should be aimed at trying to influence policy makers. I think the approach should be to continually improve the projections of things like sea level rise, floods, droughts, fresh water availability, max and min temperatures by region. With better data developers and engineers will make include these in their designs. That’s how it works now. For example, dams are designed to be able to handle the 1 in 10,000 year flood. In the 1980’s the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) decided that the design guidance was often underestimating the amount of freeboard and spillway capacity required for maximum probable flood. Around the world, many dams had to be raised and the capacity of their spillways increased. That is just one example showing how the design requirements and regulations change as the relevant information becomes widely accepted.

        Therefore, I’d urge you to advocate to get improved information available and accepted rather than trying to influence policy makers to implement more alarmist ‘command and control’ policies.

      • peter, I have no problem with efforts to define more precisely the damage function. That’s another very important piece of the puzzle.

  12. “Similar arguments have characterized environmental risk debates concerning arsenical insecticides in the late 1800s, phosphates in detergents in the 1960s, and the pesticide DDT in the 1960s and ’70s.”

    similar arguments were also made, correctly, about anthropogenic ozone depletion
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2748016
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291833573_ozonePaperResource

    scientists should encourage not fear or vilify skepticism as an exchange of ideas with skeptics is a healthy and necessary part of the scientific process.

    without that science would be too much like religion as evident in this Christopher Hitchens quote: “Is it better for the world to appeal to our credulity and not to our skepticism?”

    • Christoper Hitchens stated, “I am no longer a socialist, but I still am a Marxist.” That’s not good enough. We must put an end to dhimmitude in Western academia and its forced conversions of scientific skeptics to the pagan god of global warming alarmism.

    • Talking about skepticism and neoskepticism, how could we classify Hitchens?

      A pseudo-skeptic?

      An anti-skeptic?

      Yes, he was an atheist. Yes, he wrote eloquently. But that’s about it. He was also personally abusive (particularly, it appears, toward fellow writers), misogynist, obnoxiously in your face about his beliefs (or lack thereof), and spectacularly inconsistent (and incredibly often wrong) about his political positions.

      So here is my admittedly contrarian collection of commentaries on Hitch, in the hope that we can come up with a more balanced view of the man and begin a thoughtful discussion about just how much good or bad he has done to atheism, freethought, and political discourse.

      http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.mx/2011/12/massimos-picks-special-hitchens-edition.html

      • It is interesting hear that he is considered to be an atheist — he obviously is a revolutionary socialist, aka Communists — and yet, some believe he has damage to atheism. But, I think it is stranger yet to see how well his harangue against religion holds up even better when read as a critique of belief in AGW and the liberal fascism of the Leftists global warming agenda– e.g.,

        ETERNAL PUNISHMENT AND IMPOSSIBLE TASKS

        This pathetic moral spectacle would not be necessary if the original rules were ones that it would be possible to obey. But to the totalitarian edicts that begin with revelation from absolute authority, and that are enforced by fear, and based on a sin that had been committed long ago, are added regulations that are often immoral and impossible at the same time. The essential principle of totalitarianism is to make laws that are impossible to obey. The resulting tyranny is even more impressive if it can be enforced by a privileged caste or party which is highly zealous in the detection of error. Most of humanity, throughout its history, has dwelt under a form of this stupefying dictatorship, and a large portion of it still does. Allow me to give a few examples of the rules that must, yet cannot, be followed. (God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens)

      • Hitchens was indeed a harsh and unforgiving critic of traditional religion. He saw its flaws and shortcomings clearly.

        Too bad he was completely blind to the flaws and shortcomings of his own secular stealth religion. When it came to that, there was no skepticism in sight, only a form of religious fundamentalism.

  13. After combatting neoskepticism perhaps the Society for the Promotion of Scientific Knowledge should declare war on the Golden Rule…

  14. The challenge of climate-change neoskepticism By Paul C. Stern, John H. Perkins, Richard E. Sparks, Robert A. Knox Science12 Aug 2016 : 653-654

    “…they [neo-sceptics] question the magnitude of the risks and assert that reducing them has more costs than benefits.”

    I wonder where Stern and his co-authors have been for the last 20 years. They suggest that skeptics have morphed into a new form of skepticism that is now concerned with world economic development and now merit the name “neo-skeptics”.

    They ought to read Hubert Lamb’s Climate, History and the Modern World, H. H. Lamb, 2nd Edition. Routledge, 1995.

    Lamb advocated watchful waiting with minimal intervention to control climate.

    I note that most urban and rural infrastructure development funded by multinational and bilateral agencies increases resilience to environmental hazards, such as extreme weather events, including El Nino and La Nina.

    Such interventions also serve as adaptations to climate change even if not intended to do so.

    By contrast, expenditure on mitigation by developing countries, except the most populous, can have no measurable impact on climate and no measurable economic benefits to the implementing countries that would balance the economic costs of mitigation.

    This is a question answered by arithmetic, not climate and cost-benefit models. Most “neo-skeptics” may use mental arithmetic, but that seems to me to be sufficient.

    I once conducted a social survey in 15 towns and villages of Indonesia to determine willingness to pay for piped water supply. People living in towns stated they were willing to pay much more for water than villagers, most of whom were farmers and farm workers.

    Many villagers challenged the interviewers, saying something like, “Why are you asking us about water? We have wells for water. We have no electricity. That’s what we want.”

    Imagine life without electricity and you will understand why mental arithmetic is all that politicians in developing countries need to accept “neo-skepticism”.

    As a Sea Scout, one of the first lessons I learned was not to spit into the wind. In effect, that is what the Paris agreement is advising the governments of the world to do.

    Paris cannot succeed because the ordinary people in developing countries will not accept loss of benefits from increased use of fossil fuels, mainly coal.

  15. The quote from Stern et al. says:

    Opponents of policies to limit anthropogenic climate change (ACC) have offered a changing set of arguments—… questioning ACC’s …, magnitude, and rate of progress, the risks it presents, the integrity of climate scientists, and the value of mitigation efforts.

    I am one of these people.

    Similar arguments have characterized environmental risk debates concerning arsenical insecticides in the late 1800s, phosphates in detergents in the 1960s, and the pesticide DDT in the 1960s and ’70s.

    That’s an irrelevant argument. So what? There are equivalent parallels of incorrect advocacy by the CAGW alarmists. Such a line of argument is pointless. It demonstrates the authors lack evidence to make their case. If Stern et al. had convincing evidence to show ACC is dangerous, or a significant threat, they’d show the evidence. They haven’t done so. Even AR5 WG3 states unequivocally the evidence is sparse http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg3/ipcc_wg3_ar5_chapter3.pdf (I’d suggest it doesn’t exist or IPCC would not have had to say that) .

    Typically, defenders of business as usual first question the scientific evidence that risks exist; then, they question the magnitude of the risks and assert that reducing them has more costs than benefits.

    What risks? Saying the word “risk” without quantifying it is simply scaremongering. It’s meaningless. Every policy has risks.
    It’s pretty clear that mitigation policies proposed to date have enormous economic costs and low probability of benefits.

    • Peter Lang,

      Saying the word “risk” without quantifying it is simply scaremongering. […] It’s pretty clear that mitigation policies proposed to date have enormous economic costs and low probability of benefits.

      That’s some low-hanging fruit you’ve served up. Appeals to enormous economic costs with a low probability of benefits without quantifying either is simply scaremongering.

      • Brandonrgates,

        Isn’t that rather hypocritical. What figures have you provided to support any of your statement. I’ve provided links to support mine, including this: http://anglejournal.com/article/2015-11-why-carbon-pricing-will-not-succeed/ Did you read it? Can you understand it. Your comment suggests the answer to both questions is no.

      • Peter Lang,

        What figures have you provided to support any of your statement.

        When I have figures to support any of my statements, I generally provide them.

        Did you read it?

        Yes.

        Can you understand it.

        I understand that assertions, speculations and conditionals …

        Unrealistic optimism

        Arguably, the assumptions that underpin the economic analyses used to justify carbon pricing are appropriate for a theoretical modelling exercise but unrealistic, impractical and unlikely to be achieved in the real world. These assumptions, if relaxed, make carbon pricing an even less appealing prospect.

        […]

        If these projections are too high, the net-benefits of cutting emissions to a desired level would be lower. Furthermore, several key assumed parameters in DICE-2013R appear pessimistic (i.e. tending to make damage estimates too high). For example, climate sensitivity, emissions rates, damage function (damage per degree of climate change), participation rates and discount rates. If the assumed values are causing the damages to be overestimated, the projected net-benefits of abatement will also be lower.

        Combined, these assumptions may be increasing the estimated damage from greenhouse gas emissions significantly and, therefore, overstating the net benefits.

        … don’t make it “pretty clear that mitigation policies proposed to date have enormous economic costs and low probability of benefits.” What’s clear to me is that you give strong opinions as if they were factual on the basis that they’re sprinkled here and there with some numbers.

  16. Steven E. Koonin,

    I really like this post. Thank you, and thank JC for posting and for JC Reflections.

    But this thinking rests upon credence in projections of future climates

    I suggest, far more important than the credence of projections of future climates, is the credence of the estimates of the impacts of climate change. It seems to me there is no credible evidence to support the assumption that all the advocacy is based on – i.e. that warming will be (take your pick): catastrophic, dangerous, a substantial negative economic impact, do more harm than good, about net-neutral, do more good than harm.

    In any event, all actions beyond “no regrets” will have drawbacks (by definition) so that these caveats must be folded into anyone’s risk/benefit calculation, which will further suffer the essential subjectivity of the choice of long-term discount rate.

    Very important point, often ignored.

    Their polarized framing, including an insinuation that so-called neoskeptics are financially motivated, is inconsistent with the kind of informed, thoughtful, and nuanced discussion of climate and energy that the world so badly needs.

    Good point. The authors demonstrate their bias and hypocrisy.

    JC Reflectiosn is excellent too, except that this bit does not mention the far more important inconvenient truth:

    The really inconvenient truth is that we have absolutely no idea of how we can reduce carbon emissions to avoid a 1.5C or even 2C warming on the timescales predicted by climate models.

    The more important inconvenient truth is we have a very poor understanding of the impacts of warming. Are they net negative, if so what is the quantum, and how do we know?

    I like this post and JCs Reflections. However, I’d like to see more focus on researching the impacts and defining the damage function and its uncertainties.

  17. Steven Koonin frames it very well, and I totally agree with Judith’s comments on the article. On a positive note it (and other recent media pieces) this Science article (and recent other mainstream media pieces) acknowledge that attribution and uncertainty need to be understood and included in reaching reasonable policy decisions.

    However, the approaches of the current administration in pushing policy in rules and regulations does not do that. As an example, the issues in the updated social cost of carbon (Nov 2014) were discussed in detail in earlier Climate Etc posts, most recently https://judithcurry.com/2016/06/07/assessment-of-approaches-to-updating-the-social-cost-of-carbon/. The Nov 2014 SCC update was based on use of three IAMs (Fund, Dice and Page). The final document does say “…it is important to recognize that a number of key uncertainties remain, and that current SCC estimates should be treated as provisional and revisable since they will evolve with improved scientific and economic understanding.

    The interagency group (IAG) recognizes that the existing models are imperfect and incomplete.” Yet it has been clearly pointed out that the IAMs are based on the last IPCC AR/5 update which are is based on high ECS / TCRs. The interagency group acknowledges the problem. When will the SCCs be updated. It is a most important issue, since the revised Nov 2014 high SCCs are used even today in pushing through new rules/regulations. Also, IMO while the revised SCC rule / regulation was published for review before issuing, I don’t believe any changes were made based on the comments, and further, from reading the technical appendix published separately I am unclear on how any kind of third party due diligence review could be completed based on the details provided.

    The increase in the Nov 2014 SCC vs. 2010 figures is very substantial:

    Nov 2014 Revised and 2010 SCCs:

    Absolute increase:

    Percentage increase:

    • Danley Wolfe,

      Good comment. Thank you. It’s encouraging we are starting to see more discussion of this important topic.

      Yet it has been clearly pointed out that the IAMs are based on the last IPCC AR/5 update which are is based on high ECS / TCRs. The interagency group acknowledges the problem. When will the SCCs be updated. It is a most important issue, since the revised Nov 2014 high SCCs are used even today in pushing through new rules/regulations.

      I agree. However, I’d suggest, even more important than updating SCC is to improve the damage function and the uncertainties. If net damages are $0 then SCC is $0, no matter what the ECS/TCR. If the damage function is lower than assumed for the analyses, then the SCC is lower too.

      IPCC AR5 WG3 Chapter 3 mentions ‘Damage Function’ 18 times http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg3/ipcc_wg3_ar5_chapter3.pdf . Some examples:

      “Damage functions in existing Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) are of low reliability (high confidence).” [3.9, 3.12]”

      “Our general conclusion is that the reliability of damage functions in current IAMs is low.” [p247]

      “To develop better estimates of the social cost of carbon and to better evaluate mitigation options, it would be helpful to have more realistic estimates of the components of the damage function, more closely connected to WGII assessments of physical impacts.”

      “As discussed in Section 3.9, the aggregate damage functions used in many IAMs are generated from a remarkable paucity of data and are thus of low reliability.”

      • The uncertainty in the damage function is alarming and casts a pale on the entire exercise of using SCCs. Also, the 3% 95th percentile SCC, across all three IAMs, “is included to represent higher-than-expected impacts from temperature change further out in the tails of the SCC distribution … (it) is significant because at higher discount rates we expect that a greater proportion of the SCC value is due to damages in years with lower temperature increases.” if you were pushing new rules you would make sure this case gets special attention based on the “worst case scenario” producing the highest SCCs during the earlier years of the time series. It is clear that this update was manufactured to support new policy rulemaking and that it is spotty at best.

      • Danley Wolfe,

        Thank you. We are on the same page. I agree entirely.

        I don’t see GW as a significant problem. I just posted this comment elsewhere, so I’ll post it here too:

        The planet is in a deep ice age – only the second in the past 540 million years – i.e. the entire period that multi-cell animal life has thrived. We are unlikely to get out of this ice age until North and South America separate again so warm waters can circulate the globe in low to mid latitudes.

        Look at these three figures:



        Source: https://www.academia.edu/12082909/Some_thoughts_on_Global_Climate_Change_The_Transition_from_Icehouse_to_Hothouse

        Interpretation: even a 3C increase in global average temperature would get the planet up to only the middle of its temperature range over the past half billion years.

        My interpretation of these three charts is as follows:

        The 2nd chart – ‘Tropic to poles temperature gradient – Icehouse to Hothouse’ shows that if the global average temperature increases by 3C, from the current ~15C to 18C, the temperature at the poles would increase from -36C to -7C, and the temperature gradient from tropics to poles would decrease from 0.82C to 0.44C per degree latitude. That’s likely to be a massive net-benefit for the mid and higher latitudes.

        The 1st chart shows that if the global average temperature increased by 3C, the temperatures would be similar to what they were about 35 million years ago. The 3rd chart shows that the temperature in the tropics 35 million years ago was about 1C higher than now.

        This suggests even a 3C rise in global average temperatures means only a small (~1C) change in average temperature of the tropics and a huge benefit in warming of the mid and higher latitudes.

        Given this, I am not persuaded there is valid justification for the Alarmists’ scaremongering.

        Lastly, sea level rise this century is likely to be less than 0.5 m. Even the net damages of a 1 m sea level rise is inconsequential – about $1 trillion in about $20 trillion cum global GDP to 2100 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11027-010-9220-7 .

  18. …so nonscientific factors inevitably enter the decision.

    So long as it is in their political interest the UN and the Left will continue to spread propaganda that serious warming will someday return and when it does it will be worse than ever unless our socialist government overlords are immediately empowered to raise taxes to dramatically curb the emission of greenhouse gases.

  19. The sun, the oceans, the clouds and the universe (cosmic rays) control climate. We can no more control the climate through CO2 mitigation than we can control the output of the sun, the currents of the oceans, the formation of clouds or the mitigation of cosmic rays and the movement of tectonic plates, or the output of volcanoes.. The hubris of the warmists, our planet saviors, knows no bounds. As it becomes more and more obvious that the very bases of their arguments such as “average global temperature” and “green house” theory may be wrong, the whole AGW theory is about to fall on its face. What Mr. Koonin has so carefully avoided in his article is the admission, finally, from UN officals that “Climate change” is about wealth re-distribution, anti-industrialization, and destruction of the fossil fuel industry. He has also avoided the obvious – climate scientists are not practicing science!

  20. The key seems to be “Similar arguments have characterized environmental risk debates concerning arsenical insecticides in the late 1800s, phosphates in detergents in the 1960s, and the pesticide DDT in the 1960s and ’70s. Typically, defenders of business as usual first question the scientific evidence that risks exist; then, they question the magnitude of the risks and assert that reducing them has more costs than benefits.”

    They obviously think “neosceptics” are simply too benighted to see the light.

    So the way to deal with them is to call on social scientists to devise some kind of “scientific” therapy to bring them back into the fold.

    “Neosceptics” seem to be that fraction of skeptics that isn’t in need of treatment by the attorney general.

    • As for the social scientists to the rescue, also from the article:

      “Neoskepticism thus challenges climate educators and communicators to supplement the teaching of climate facts and processes with mental models of ACC that (i) are factual and not misleading, (ii) use a familiar domain to explain the unfamiliar, (iii) capture interest, and (iv) allow for extrapolations consistent with current science. “,

      “Although there is no perfect familiar analog for climate change, we suggest that some simple mental models, by making key fundamentals of climate change more understandable, can facilitate thinking about the choices facing society. “

  21. Oh, great, another new label “neoskeptics”. Cleverly chosen of course to relate to “neoliberal” and therefore a bad thing in the eyes of the academic left.

    I think we need to counter with “neoscience”. “Neoscientists” are those who publish their own unscientific opinions, with a highly political tone, frequently employing language such as “must” and “need”, in Science journals.

    • Paul Matthews | August 15, 2016 at 5:20 am
      ‘Oh, great, another new label “neoskeptics”‘

      Yes: To efficiently de-legitimize folks with an approach one doesn’t like, one must first identify them as a group, which also more clearly labels them as definitely out-group from ‘true orthodoxy’. Preferably with a name having negative connotations, yet not so negative as to cause obvious realization among the general public as to why they have been so labelled.

    • > I think we need to counter […]

      We? Need?

      I thought you were lukewarm about these words, PaulM.

  22. Hi, Judith, excellent post which I’ve linked to on Facebook, keep up the good work. Regards, Faustino.

    • Faustino,

      What on Earth are you doing showing up here. I thought you were lost overseas somewhere.

  23. When people state they support “No Risk” AGW policies, they need to be a whole lot clearer — especially on specifics for any mitigation efforts.

    Two top mitigation efforts that could be labeled “No Risk” would be (1) Fast Mitigation; (2) keeping existing nuclear power plants running.

    But probably +90% of CE Denizens oppose the Obama Administration initiatives on Smog (ppb); methane (oil & natural gas producers); black carbon (PM); and HFCs (amending the Montreal Protocol).

    How existing nuclear was saved in New York State was by implementing a subsidy based on the “Social Cost of Carbon” so that the units’ could compete against cheaper natural gas.

    I would interpret Mr. Koonin’s position on “No Risk” as saying yes to adaptation and R&D efforts — but no to any significant mitigation effort policies.

    • David Wojick

      Adaptation can be very high risk if the supposed threat being adapted to never comes, or only occurs normally infrequently, because adaptation can be very expensive. Building an irrigation system for increasingly severe droughts, for example. Then too, adapting to a projected rapid acceleration in global sea levels would be monstrously expensive. There are many such examples.

  24. BTW — Fast Mitigation (or SLCPs) is a term used to describe efforts to reduce Smog, Methane, Black Carbon, HFCs.

  25. David Wojick

    The SPSK purported evolution of so-called neoskepticism is historically false. The various skeptical positions they describe as a time series have actually always been part of the debate; they certainly were when I joined in 1992. Thus the “neo” is simply a rhetorical trick, falsely suggesting a retreat of sorts. If anything the resistance is deepening.

    This pro-warming bias is becoming a pattern with Sciencemag. For example, see my little essay http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/confusion-science where they describe teaching about the climate debate as a kind of confuion.

    • DW:

      Someone might want to investigate the acid rain issue as parent to the climate change industry. The original NAPAP effort funded the science and led to the 1990 Clean Air Act’s cap-and-trade approach for SO2. This program was generally seen as a political success (I’m skipping over the scientific debate on acidifying lakes, etc.). Of course, solving a problem means you no longer have to fund the research labs, etc.

      I recall discussions back then that global warming was going to provide the perfect follow-on to acid rain research and environmental activism. History seems to show that, indeed, it has.

      • Cap and trade did come from SO2 control, but the immediate precursor to the global warming scare was the ozone hole scare. That is where the IPCC concept comes from and people like Robert Watson spearheaded both efforts.

      • DW:

        It’s true that the Montreal Protocol process became the template for international climate change advocates. It also provided NASA’s earth observation efforts a nice boost, which was Bob Watson’s bailiwick. And thus we all had to switch from aerosols to stick/roll-on deodorants.

        NASA may have hogged the ozone research budget but domestic funding for research labs, atmospheric scientists, modeling efforts, etc. also received an enormous boost from the acid rain programs (which covered ground-level ozone precursors, not the SH “hole”). The creation of this cottage industry seems like a somewhat ignored part of the history, to me.

        Regardless, the lesson is the same: the universal bureaucratic imperative is to maintain funding and grow regardless of actual public needs. Just because you’ve dealt with the problem (acid rain or ozone hole) doesn’t mean you are willing to waddle away from the trough.

  26. A lot of AGW people won’t want to hear it, but for a lot of us types who come from a physics background, Steve Koonin outranks pretty much all climate scientist modelers put together. Same for Richard Muller, same for Freeman Dyson…
    The point is that we don’t really know that climate scientists have firmly established the basis of their work, and do believe that top physicists are very well grounded.
    Sneer at them and lots more physicists than you would like will respond by assuming that someone ought to take you in hand and teach you your trade.

  27. “The SPSK purported evolution of so-called neoskepticism is historically false.” Even if it would be true, I don’t see the point. AGW mitigation requires the acceptance of a number of propositions; take any one away and Business as Usual becomes the correct response. I’m assuming that last statement is not in question. So it makes sense to me that various issues that seemed to be low-hanging fruit (UHIs, temperature adjustments) have turned out not to be important, and others that were hard to work out (economics, politics, The Pause) have turned out to be really complex and open to discussion.

  28. As Bjorn Lomborg wrote in The Wall Street Journal (‘The Alarming Thing About Climate Alarmism’) last year, the average of all models predicted a 0.8 degree temperature rise over the previous 15 years but it was actually 0.09 degrees — about 90% less temperature rise than expected.

    In hindsight anyone was right to be skeptical 15 years ago. And, it won’t be any different 15 years from now: except for the predicted benefits of the Left’s supposed solutions for non-existent global warming, nothing will be worse than it’s ever been and Climate Alarmists will keep finding new things to be alarmed about when nothing that has been predicted — from sea level rise to more hurricanes — is never worse than we thought.

  29. Thanks JC. I am one of the ones who knows we face far greater problems than co2 or climate change. Society is being distracted by this shiny thing that seems to be of the greatest importance, while the world burns and weeds takeover, the aquifers get sucked dry while good fires are suppressed, food production is at risk and no one says a thing.
    Meanwhile, society is going to find that this shiny thing that has everyone’s attention is nothing more than a gum wrapper, and not a jewel that enriches our lives.

  30. Scientific skepticism is about the only reality check we have going for us in a time when a one-sided liberal MSM and biased Leftist Western education establishment lends their support to claims by a Democrat President that he was responsible for bringing about, “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal… the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”

    Alarmism has encouraged the pursuit of a one-sided climate policy of trying to cut carbon emissions by subsidizing wind farms and solar panels. Yet today, according to the International Energy Agency, only about 0.4% of global energy consumption comes from solar photovoltaics and windmills. And even with exceptionally optimistic assumptions about future deployment of wind and solar, the IEA expects that these energy forms will provide a minuscule 2.2% of the world’s energy by 2040. ~Bjorn Lomborg (ibid.)

  31. Pingback: I’m Now A “Neoskeptic” | Transterrestrial Musings

  32. Curious George

    The damage function is a mystery. No one knows how to quantify it with any semblance of rationality. The reason is simple: we are all already dead – at least according to predictions of “The Limits to Growth”, a granddaddy of all models.

  33. As a NeoSkeptic who indentifies as a TransClimatic, I demand protected status.

    Andrew

  34. For the curious, a TransClimatic (and I’m the only one as far as I know) can not only exist is various states of surrounding climate, I can also detect/perceive significant changes to the climate, even if it’s a climate far away and in the far past or future. It’s a gift.

    Andrew

  35. Dr. Koonin,

    “Society’s choices in the years ahead will necessarily be based on uncertain knowledge of future climates. That uncertainty need not be an excuse for inaction. There is well-justified prudence in accelerating the development of low-emissions technologies and in cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.

    “But climate strategies beyond such ‘no regrets’ efforts carry costs, risks and questions of effectiveness, so nonscientific factors inevitably enter the decision. These include our tolerance for risk and the priorities that we assign to economic development, poverty reduction, environmental quality, and intergenerational and geographical equity.

    “Individuals and countries can legitimately disagree about these matters, so the discussion should not be about ‘believing’ or ‘denying’ the science. …”

    My reading of SPSK is that they would largely agree with these thoughts (and much else in WSJ14).

    Speaking strictly for myself, I largely agree with you on these thoughts … particularly the ones I emphasized.

    Their polarized framing, including an insinuation that so-called neoskeptics are financially motivated, is inconsistent with the kind of informed, thoughtful, and nuanced discussion of climate and energy that the world so badly needs.

    Hmm. From the comment thread here:

    AK | August 14, 2016 at 8:08 pm |

    The mainstream put it near 450 ppm. This is the key difference I see.

    Personally, I’m not that comfortable with 400. It’s just that I’m a whole lot more uncomfortable with your socialist agenda.

    I certainly could do without AK’s polarized framing, but I’m definitely not going to complain about his statement that CO2 at 400 ppmv is uncomfortable. In fact, I applaud him for saying so. I single him out for positive recognition because his is the only skeptical voice in this thread I can find that isn’t thumping on some variation of uncertainty as an excuse for inaction or other arguments consistent with: Opponents of policies to limit anthropogenic climate change (ACC) have offered a changing set of arguments—denying or questioning ACC’s existence, magnitude, and rate of progress, the risks it presents, the integrity of climate scientists, and the value of mitigation efforts.

    • You’ve accidentally hit on the point. People who disagree with your specific action plan aren’t necessarily your opponents.
      The polarization, IMO, comes from two things- 1. The dire fast mitigation plans – what AK reasonably calls the “socialist agenda” – won’t be acceptable to anyone unless the projections for warming are extreme and so 2. the advocates are screaming bloody murder about the simple fact that the projections for warming are getting less extreme every year.
      Twelve years ago it wasn’t uncommon for every newspaper and television station in America to take Joe Romm seriously when he was calling for global binding treaties to immediately deploy millions of windmills to prevent global extinction of the human race. Today, advocates cheer Obama’s non-binding non-commitment in Paris and his pledge to get the next president to maybe do something. Meanwhile the adults are switching power plants to gas and looking at next-gen nukes – something necessary regardless of ACCs magnitude – and the general public ranks their concern about global warming somewhere behind the existential threat of incivility.

      • jeffnsails850,

        You’ve accidentally hit on the point. People who disagree with your specific action plan aren’t necessarily your opponents.

        Are you *sure* it was accidental? :)

        For the record, I don’t personally have a specific action plan. That’s mainly because the time I’ve spent studying and discussing policy is rather limited compared to the time I’ve spent learning and discussing the science. The science was (and still is) a steep learning curve for me, but I’m still all but lost at sea on policy options. I have some policy opinions, but they’re not detailed or confident.

        Meanwhile the adults are switching power plants to gas and looking at next-gen nukes – something necessary regardless of ACCs magnitude – and the general public ranks their concern about global warming somewhere behind the existential threat of incivility.

        I cringed when some of the usual suspects threw Hansen under the bus when he went public as a nuke advocate. Actually, first I danced a celebratory jig, then I got p!sssed off all over again at the never-nuke crowd for what I see as their largely irrational opposition.

        I am familiar with the polls showing a low ranking for AGW relative to other concerns like the economy, terrorism, etc., and I believe the polls. I find this one to be interesting:

        I’m also somewhat familiar with polling, and know that how questions are asked matters. When asked about AGW/CC in isolation, more Americans tow some main tenets of Teh Consensus party line than don’t.

        Then there’s this:

        Bottom line, for the US at least, I’m dubious that winning the hearts and mind of the public is the main reason that we don’t already have more aggressive mitigation policies in place.

    • I certainly could do without AK’s polarized framing, […]

      I calls it as I sees it.

      The majority on the left who are yelling about “climate” are talking about “solutions” that, IMO, will do more to advance a socialist agenda than to fix the fossil carbon problem.

      They also denigrate most anybody who even asks searching questions as “deniers”.

      Searching questions about the science.

      Searching questions about how the fossil carbon problem might be fixed without things like world governments with massive nit-picking bureaucracy, or substantial increases in the cost of energy.

      Also, searching questions about whether they know what they’re talking about, when they create “solutions” that expect linear increases in, say, growth of “renewables” when there’s plenty of evidence that “renewables” grow exponentially like most technology.

      I make a big deal of it because IMO at least one technology, solar PV, is growing exponentially at a rate that will fix the problem without any further shifts of policy direction.

      Of course, the policy support for solar will have to change in detail as its penetration increases. Transition away from feed-in tariffs and meter-based subsidies, to greater focus on on-supply applications (e.g. water pumping, desalination, electrolytic hydrogen), and side-by-side capacity with flex-fuel CCGT.

      As the cost of PV comes down farther, direct deployment for power→gas/liquid fuel, which can be fed directly into the CCGT infrastructure, allowing all of that infrastructure we build right now to become fossil-neutral without having to re-engineer it.

      • AK,

        I calls it as I sees it.

        I’d rather you did than didn’t. That doesn’t mean I have to like what you say.

        They also denigrate most anybody who even asks searching questions as “deniers”.

        One presumes they calls it as they sees it.

        I make a big deal of it because IMO at least one technology, solar PV, is growing exponentially at a rate that will fix the problem without any further shifts of policy direction. Of course, the policy support for solar will have to change in detail as its penetration increases.

        I’m glad you wrote that last sentence because that was my main objection.

        Wind already has more penetration, is more cost competitive *and* it works at night … well, when the wind is blowing that is. I don’t say this to knock solar PV, I in fact prefer it to wind. This is more about me making it clear that I’m loath to put all the eggs in one basket.

        I’m not convinced that you’re right, but neither am I prepared to argue that you’re wrong. I also hope that you’re more or less right.

  36. Wagathon – why is it necessary to lie? Obama did not say he was responsible for those deeds – he said:

    The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”

    This is not a claim for things accomplished – this is a hope that *generations from now* people will be able to look back and cite this as a turning point in history.

    Lying is not conducive to reasoned discourse. It generally shows that your argument is so weak that you must ‘cheat’ to score a point. I don’t know whether to feel sadness or pity for you and those on your side that have to lie and mislead others. It seems to be a very common tactic from those of your ilk.

    • Yes Obama the eternal hope peddler, with hope you never have to actually deliver anything, just hope things get better. Suckers.

      It’s a load of nonsense. Stopping ocean rise with taxes that wont affect anything. ROFL.

      Obama said global warming gave his daughter Asthma, the bloke is an idiot

  37. President Obama has demonstrated a strong leadership position in guiding the US, and hence the world towards fossil fuel free energy. He has employed the greatest minds available to plot out the US course in reliance upon windmills and solar panels for powering the engine of our economy.

    He has correctly labeled as “deniers”, something others have done as well, those people who view the proposed energy solutions and the climate models that foretell catastrophe with a jaundice eye. And, like climate models, which are able to predict weather and seas and fires and flood a hundred years hence, there is a certain clairvoyance in his vision of the future.

    President Obama has been awarded the Nobel Prize in anticipation of his great deeds and accomplishments. I am sure he treasures, as others might as well, his legacy on climate change, environmental regulations by fiat not hampered at all by a balking Congress. He is to be admired, even rewarded with a change in our Constitution to allow a 3rd and maybe even a 4th term as President to continue his good works and fulfill the promise of his Peace Prize.

    Then again, with Obama’s former Secretary of State in the Presidential driver’s seat, there may not be a need to change any laws, just more regulations from the White House. Another Imperial Presidency is all that is really necessary to continue sustainable energy production from harnessing just blowing in the wind.

    The world today will be but a shadow of itself tomorrow.

    Thank you, President Obama.

  38. “The really inconvenient truth is that we have absolutely no idea of how we can reduce carbon emissions to avoid a 1.5C or even 2C warming on the timescales predicted by climate models. A new paper was published last week. What would it take to achieve the Paris temperature targets?”

    Step 1. Scale down the projections of AOGCMs so that their effective TCR and ECS agree with observations (energy balance models). Or retune the models so they agree with 20th-century warming given more realistic cooling by aerosols. Immediately launch a replacement for the Glory satellite to get a better handle on the indirect aerosol effect!

    Step 2. Remember that the 2 degC target was first chosen by European Environment Ministers – politicians, not economists. And the absurd 1.5 degC goal came from the lunatic fringe, not economists. If the 20th-century’s 1 degC of warming has proven net beneficial and we aren’t certain that net benefits won’t continue to increase through +1.5 degC. A total of 2.5 degC of warming is unlikely to be disastrous. Remember AR5 projects only 0.3-0.7 degC of further warming by 2050.

    Step 3. Build and test novel nuclear power plants that won’t produce hydrogen, explode and release radioactivity in case of a loss of coolant. We’ll need at least one decade of practical experience before committing to building hundreds.

    Step 4. Remember that China now emits twice as much CO2 (and climbing?) as the US and as much per capita as the EU. The rest of the developing world wants to emulate China. Their values are not the same as ours – they can’t afford to pay for insurance against the possibility that climate sensitivity is high.

  39. The validity of the IPCC models seems unquestioned, despite known issues of urban heat islands and unreliable proxies such as tree rings. Then there’s the issue that the IPCC tends to select the greatest sensitivity factors for their models, despite the fact that this has produced inaccurate values, as in higher than observed. That’s not to mention their use of a formula for electronic feedback in their modeling.

    After that we have the unused “C” in CAGW; “catastrophic.” The establishment takes that as a given, even though it has yet to be proven.

    What really sticks out for me is that no one that I’ve seen has even mentioned Bayesian analysis on the value of the knowledge in question. I expect that goes back to the “big C” above.

    Finally I have to say using the debate about DDT was a mistake, as it turns out the furor raised in the 1960s was quite inaccurate. They also “forgot” to mention the hysteria raised over the hole in the ozone that was supposed to kill everyone. Or for that matter the coming Ice Age hyped in the early 1970s.

    • > After that we have the unused “C” in CAGW; “catastrophic.” The establishment takes that as a given, even though it has yet to be proven.

      So as to be precise we went from AGW to CAGW, we now go from ACC to CACC.

      Couldn’t make it up if you tried,

  40. So now
    – a neoskeptic then is one who fails to credulously accept the recommendations of junk / uncertain science that has little integrity.

    – a bona fide scientist is one who does accept the accept the recommendations of junk / uncertain science that has little integrity.

    Got it.
    .

  41. Put another way, neoskepticism>/i> is how bogus/neoscientists refer to genuine science and skepticism.
    It’s 100% a propaganda weapon – secondary deception designed to bolster a primary deception.

  42. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #237 | Watts Up With That?