King Canute versus the climate planners

by Judith Curry

On sea level rise, President Obama and King Canute.

In 2008, then President-elect Barack Obama said his victory marked “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow

So . . . how has that been working out?  Well, the figure below is the latest global sea-level chart that I could quickly find, current through Feb 2016. Apart from the dip in 2011 following the 2010 El Nino, it doesn’t look like President Obama had much of an effect on sea level rise.  Further, I suspect that the 2016 rates will contribute to a spike from the after effects of El Nino.

Sea level has been rising for centuries, even millennia.  Of course, it is too soon to expect Obama’s policies to have had any impact on sea level rise.  However, President Obama’s emissions reductions policies are expected to influence global temperatures at the end of the 21st century by a few hundredths of a degree, with a corresponding minuscule impact on sea level rise.

Of relevance to President Obama’s efforts futile efforts to change the climate and slow the rising seas, FEE has published an interesting article King Canute vs the Climate Planners.  Excerpts:

The scene prompted many commentators to compare these people celebrating in Paris to King Canute, who ruled Denmark, England, and Norway a millennium ago. According to popular legend, as a way of demonstrating his awesome power, he rolled his throne up to the sea and commanded it to stop rising.

It didn’t work.

His point was that power — even the absolute power of kings — has limits. During his rule, King Canute was enormously popular and evidently benefitted from the common tendency of people to credit authority for the achievements of the spontaneous evolution of the social order itself.

Lacking a Canute to give us a wake-up call, we might revisit the extraordinary speech F.A. Hayek gave when he received his Nobel Prize. He was speaking before scientists of the world, having been awarded one of the most prestigious awards on the planet.

Rather than flattering the scientific establishment, particularly as it existed in economics, he went to the heart of what he considered the greatest intellectual danger that was arising at the time. He blew apart the planning mindset, the presumption that humankind can do anything if only the right people are given enough power and resources.

If the planning elite possessed omniscience of all facts, flawless understanding of cause and effect, perfect foresight to know all relevant changes that could affect the future, and the ability to control all variables, perhaps their pretensions would be justified.

But this is not the case. Hayek called the assumption the harshest possible word: “charlatanism.”

In the climate case, consider that we can’t know with certainty whether, to what extent, and how climate change (especially not 50-100 years from now) will affect life on earth. We don’t know the precise causal factors and their weight relative to the noise in our models, much less the kinds of coercive solutions to apply and whether they have been applied correctly and with what outcomes, much less the costs and benefits of attempting such a far-flung policy.

The idea that any panel of global experts, working with appointed diplomats and bureaucrats, can have the requisite knowledge to make such grand and final decisions for the globe is outlandish and contrary to pretty much everything we know.

Hayek explains further:

“To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.”


Hayek’s conclusion:

If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order, he will have to learn that in this, as in all other fields where essential complexity of an organized kind prevails, he cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible.

He will therefore have to use what knowledge he can achieve, not to shape the results as the craftsman shapes his handiwork, but rather to cultivate a growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner in which the gardener does this for his plants.

There is danger in the exuberant feeling of ever growing power which the advance of the physical sciences has engendered and which tempts man to try, “dizzy with success”, to use a characteristic phrase of early communism, to subject not only our natural but also our human environment to the control of a human will.

The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society — a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.

JC reflections

This essay provides a good starting point for evaluating the legacy of President Obama’s climate policies.  Even if they aren’t overturned by the Trump administration, there is little to no impact on the global climate to be expected from planned U.S. emissions reductions.  But . . . the rest of the globe has signed onto the Paris agreement.  Even in the unlikely event that each of these countries actually manages to meet the obligations that they have already made, the amount of warming prevented by the end of the 21st century will be a few tenths of a degree (and that is if you believe the climate models).

As Hayek points out, the potential for overall harm of such policies is substantial.  The counter argument is that we are facing global ruin from AGW and that therefore we must act with comprehensive global policies.  I have debunked the ‘ruin’ argument in a previous post Is climate change a ruin problem?

Humility in the face of the unknowns of the complex climate system, not to mention global human societies, seems in short supply in the hyperconfidence of the Obama administration in dealing with climate change.  We can anticipate a change in the Trump administration; here’s to hoping for a dose of sanity in dealing with energy policy, the environment and reducing vulnerability to extreme weather  events.

225 responses to “King Canute versus the climate planners

  1. Pingback: King Canute versus the climate planners – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. Updated on 12/11/2016:

    • The rate of sea level rise during the Obama’s administration, 2008 to 2017, will be ~4.25 mm p/yr.

      • As that is to say the Obama trend is ~ 32% steeper than it was under Clinton & Bush, iterating the same rate of MSL change could bring us to a centimeter a year three or four Presidents hence. As sea level is hard to erase, I worry less about saving the data from Trump, than climate scientist’s comments from Breitbart, whom Judy so often cites.

        As Delingpole is always right, he has decided not to trouble his readers with second opinions, and has accordingly banned critical climate scientists from commenting there.

        I never the less wish him a merry Christmas and a swift recovery from his riding fall-
        This should ease his online shopping while he mends.

      • Russell

        I met delingpole once a couple of Years ago. He seems a very bright chap. However, I think his very readable polemics should be taken as quite often right in the vague generality rather than as a precise scientific document.


      • Tonyb , precise scientific documents are famously not on James’s reading list !

      • How high will the seas rise?

        Recent estimates suggest that global mean sea level rise could exceed 2 m by 2100. These projections are higher than previous ones and are based on the latest understanding of how the Antarctic Ice Sheet has behaved in the past and how sensitive it is to future climate change. …

        This basically how it goes. The more they learn, the bigger the estimate by 2100. This why it is so important to end the science.

      • The supposed increase is less than the measurement error.

  3. “Even in the unlikely event that each of these countries actually manages to meet the obligations that they have already made, the amount of warming prevented by the end of the 21st century will be a few tenths of a degree (and that is if you believe the climate models).”

    Wow, I bet some smart engineers could have given a whole bunch of people clean water, a sanitary sewer system and a nice cozy warm place to sleep with lots of light at night (IE the first world) for FAR less money. And the “warming” would only be a few tenths of a degree more in a hundred years (and that is if you believe the climate models). Sounds like a real bargain to me…..

    “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow”;


    Cheers, KevinK.

  4. While not available until this coming June, the University of Edinburgh is scheduled to offer a course entitled “Intellectual Humility: Science.” It will be taught via Coursera, an online company that offers MOOCs. If you cannot wait until June, “Intellectual Humility: Theory” begins January 2nd. I know that many of us who comment here at Climate Etc. could use a double dose of both these courses.

  5. There is a fundament problem with this chart beyond it shows no acceleration in the sat era. See essay Pseudoprecision for amusing ‘peer-reviewed’ consequences.The roughly 40 diff GPS land corrected long record tide gauges show no SLR acceleration, and a centennial rate of about 2,2mm/yr with closure. New sat alt does not close, so must be over estimated SLR. Read the Jason 2 spec, reasons become obvious. Published this with footnotes in 2014. Old news, still good news.

    • The only recent tide gauge data I have seen is faster than satellite SLR.

      The 20th century average is about 6 inches per century (1.5 mm/yr) which is half the recent satellite values.

      • Jim D, enlarge your chart and then look at the CSIRO origins in the footing. Garbage. Now, go to the Official PMSIML database, and access the recent papers of world expert Nils-Axel Moerner. Specifically, the~ 40 long tide gauge records with diff GPS land motion corrections within 10 km give ~2.2 mm/ye and no acceleration.

      • Do you have a plot of that for the last 25 years? How long a period is the 2.2 mm/yr covering? Is it 1.5 mm/yr for the 20th century, and 2.2 mm/yr if you include later years, like the data I am showing?

      • Official PMSIML database…

        Maybe he means PSMSL. Who knows?

        Preliminary analysis of acceleration of sea level rise through
        the twentieth century using extended tide gauge data sets (August 2014)

        …This result agrees closely with recent work and is statistically significant at the 1 sigma level. Possible causes of acceleration and errors are briefly discussed…

      • Nils-Axel Möerner is a fitting example of Feynman’s ignorance of experts… that I can find, there is no mention of him on the PSMSL website.

      • Jim D, You should read Rud Istvan’s chapter mentioned below if you can find it, as well as a recent study in the Journal Nonlinear Engineering finding “Contrary to what is claimed by reconstructions of the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) indicating accelerating sea level rates of rise over the twentieth-century, the actual measurements at the tide gauges show the sea levels have not risen nor accelerated that much” and “The
        information on relative rates of rise at the tide gauges and land subsidence of global positioning system (GPS) domes suggest the relative rate of rise is about 0.25 mm/year, with- out any detectable acceleration. [The naïve average of all the world tide gauges of sufficient quality and length of the Permanent Service to Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) database]”.

      • Compare the 20th century average, which most would agree is 1.5 mm/yr, with the last 25 years, which most would agree is in excess of 3 mm/yr. That is an acceleration in the rise rate.

  6. Sounds like gloating.

    So, Obama, whom you (Judith) said you favored, has accomplished less than he hoped or thought he would. Yes, that was a very heady moment for liberals. Liberals were soft and unready for the degree of demonization Obama would receive – Michelle Malkin portraying him in every issue of her blog as a sort of green vampire is one small example, followed by the “Red State Project” of radical gerrymandering without a moment’s delay after the 2010 census, Citizen’s United, the Koch Donor summits. Have you ever been to one? And the national micro-targeting of the most vulnerable house seats, especially for the disciplining of “RINO”s And the very quick realization “AGW is a hoax” can serve so well as a keystone lie to support the amazing thesis that Right Wing funded think tankery and Fox news are the honest rebels against the lying MSM.

    Quite ironic to see you making your point with a graph confirming sea level rise.

    • No one questions that sea level is rising. Sea level has been rising for 10,000 years since we came out of the last ice age. The issue is whether AGW is ACCELERATING sea level rise. It is difficult to argue that it is, given the IPCC’s own analyses, which show the current RATE of sea level rise is the same as the RATE in 1930’s, 1940’s

      • Just curious, do you communicate with Jevrejeva?

        We construct the probability density function of global sea level at 2100, estimating that sea level rises larger than 180 cm are less than 5% probable. An upper limit for global sea level rise of 190 cm is assembled by summing the highest estimates of individual sea level rise components simulated by process based models with the RCP8.5 scenario. The agreement between the methods may suggest more confidence than is warranted since large uncertainties remain due to the lack of scenario-dependent projections from ice sheet dynamical models, particularly for mass loss from marine-based fast flowing outlet glaciers in Antarctica. This leads to an intrinsically hard to quantify fat tail in the probability distribution for global mean sea level rise. Thus our low probability upper limit of sea level projections cannot be considered definitive. Nevertheless, our upper limit of 180 cm for sea level rise by 2100 is based on both expert opinion and process studies and hence indicates that other lines of evidence are needed to justify a larger sea level rise this century. – Jevrejeva et al 2014

      • No, i don’t have personal communication with jevrejeva

      • Judith

        I have posted this recent study by Fasullo before. It is carried on the University of Colorado sea level page

        Basically it confirms there has been no sea level rise acceleration to date but expects one to occur shortly……

        As regards your comment that sea level has been rising since 10000 years.

        Undo8btedly there was a surge at the start of the Holocene and places like Britain became an island. However, the rise was not continuous and probably lay within a range of plus or minus 2 metres or so from a mean average. Rises were presumably affected by glacial melting and freezing and thermal expansion and is quite separate from land level changes.

        You say in another post here that sea level rise was at its lowest (in recent times) in the (cool) 1970’s and at its greatest during the (warm) 1930’s. This fits in with the notion of sea level rise being connected with climatic conditions as I postulate above. I can’t see therefore why sea level should have been rising for the last 10000 years unless you agree with the notion that its been getting continually warmer since that time or that other factors are at work here.


      • Hi Tony, thanks for reminding me of this one!

        Re for the past 10000 years, this is overall sea level rise since we have emerged from the last ice age, see

      • Here, a combined analysis of altimeter data and specially designed climate model simulations shows the 1991 eruption of Mt Pinatubo to likely have masked the acceleration that would have otherwise occurred. This masking arose largely from a recovery in ocean heat content through the mid to late 1990 s subsequent to major heat content reductions in the years following the eruption. A consequence of this finding is that barring another major volcanic eruption, a detectable acceleration is likely to emerge from the noise of internal climate variability in the coming decade.

        What it suggests is, if not for a volcanic eruption just prior to the beginning of the satellite record, there is an acceleration. It’s masked; therefore, one can imagine it’s not there. You can do that. Fine with me.

        The rate from 2011 to 2016 is 5.16 mm p/yr. Why? Because there is a recovery from the 2011 La Niña… a vast amount of evaporation fell on continents instead of on the ocean, so sea level dropped. The water flowing back into the oceans subsequent to the La Niña mask the actual rate of SLR over 2011 to 2016. The present 10-year rate is 4.06 mm p/yr. What does an acceleration look like?

      • Judith

        I am in the unusual position that JCH seems to be broadly agreeing with me about changing sea levels during the holocene as he posted this

        I think the high and low sea levels were probably greater than shown but the basic principle is there


      • I rarely disagree with data, so I guess that is an unusual place for you to be.

      • Jch

        I rarely disagree with believable data taken from observations and decent science. We have agreed on several things recently so either i am not as much of a sceptic as you think or perhaps your warmist philosophy has started to have chinks in it.

        How do you fbouts for instance about the value of global sea surface temperatures back to 1850? Do you endorse them as believable or not?


      • According to the AMO church, looks like the delusion is confirmed.

        There are no chinks. I’m a nonlinear person. We’re about to be snot knockered.

      • How privileged we are to be concerned with the rise an fall of the seas.

        One small point about kings and presidents.
        Kings claimed the power of God but were required to mount a horse and ride out to enforce it.
        Presidents claim no such power yet can exercise it the with stroke of a pen or less.
        The lowest archer at Agincourt would have been able look around for the King.
        It’s doubtful that any president going forward will ever feel the crush of arms.

      • Jch

        You’re so eloquent . ‘ Snot rockered’ . Is that a phrase from your farming background or one in common parlance.?

        A happy Christmas to ŷou


      • And thus we can conclude rain water takes five years to reach the ocean after we have a strong rainy season during a La Niña year? That’s so cool.

      • Climatereason – it’s a term of endearment when an especially hard hit, tackle or block, inflicted upon a player in American football… often unaware they are about to be hit, or, even when they can see it coming, can do nothing to deflect the blow. Often happens to players who are being sta ah ah ah pu dd… not keeping their heads on a swivel… as in: thinking linearly in a fluid situation… a perfect example of being:

        taking 84 years times 3.3 mm p/yr and getting 11 inches (see the sea level graph in this article):


        dividing the increase in energy in the oceans by the volume and prancing around the room crowing about what a small number it is.

        There’s a player who is going to get snot knockered into dreamland.

        Which looks like this:

      • Jch

        Thanks for the explanation of that phrase. Never heard of it before.

        Still interested in your opinion of the validity of using data that doesn’t exist, such as global sea surface temperaturs that manage to date back to 1850′, before much of the ocran was even traversed let alone scientifically sampled by such as Challenger. Let’s not even go there with the sampling methods generally used.


      • One of the great fake punt plays as the middle opened up like none I have ever seen. Like parting of the red sea. The defense looked like they went to the locker room. Until the end that is. Poor guy.

      • “One of the great fake punt plays”

        Uh, not really. Pete Carroll sought to “run it up” (no, not like Michael Mann) up 21 points with 5 minutes left because the Rams have pwned the Seahawks the past few games.

        After a play that did nothing to change an outcome already decided, his punter was laying face down emitting snot bubbles while Pete yukked it up and low-fived his special teams players. While he’s now out of the hospital I’m not sure if he’s yet been cleared to play Sunday.

        Pete says no problem they’ll just sign a replacement if needed.

      • Back to getting snot knockered, the misdiagnosis of 1930’s warming…

        The Tropical Pacific Ocean displays persistently cool sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies that last several years to a decade, with either no El Niño events or a few weak El Niño events. These cause large-scale droughts in the extratropics, including major North American droughts such as the 1930s Dust Bowl, and also modulate the global mean surface temperature. … Our results suggest that the Pacific will undergo a shift to a warmer mean state after the 2015–2016 El Niño. This could imply the cessation of the drier than normal conditions that have generally afflicted southwest North America since the 1997–1998 El Niño, as well as the twenty-first-century pause in global warming.

        You’re being sold that natural variation is your friend… it’s not. The 1930’s, decade of little to no El Niño… major spike in GMST… because of a positive PDO.

        Now we have a positive PDO and a possibility of frequent ENSO assists…

      • “You’re being sold that natural variation is your friend… it’s not.”
        AGW is much less a threat than natural variation.
        AGW is predictable, NV is not.
        And, reducing GHGs doesn’t reduce NV!

      • Turbulent hogwash is still hogwash.

      • hogwash is still hogwash.
        We agree – though the hogwash I see is the climate catastrophe kind.

      • “Turbulent hogwash is still hogwash.”

        Cheap liquor is still liquor. Poor writing is still writing and refuse of a kitchen is still food. The term hogwash has come, in post-modern/post-truth vernacular, come to mean “nonsense” but this ain’t the etymology of that word. Further, where poor writing (not making commentary on anyone’s writing skills, only speaking to the etymology of hogwash) is concerned, elegant and eloquent writing is no more an indicator of accuracy or of facts than is poor writing just as a fine aged Scotch is no more an antidote to sloppy drunkenness than is a cheap Scotch.

        More pertinent is the fact that “hogwash” is not a reasoned response or valid criticism of another’s argument and as colorful and home-spun as the vernacular my seem it remains nothing more than argumentum ad lapidem. Argument to the stone is not physics it is just cheap politics and cheap politics with cheap liquor is awfully noisy.


    • Michelle Malkin rightfully calling out all of Obama’s lies and distortions on everything from CAGW to health care is a public service.

      Obama’s minnions such as Raul Grijalva and the state attorneys general and their witch hunts and fishing expeditions on the other hand…….

  7. Hayek was in 1974, which was before any examples of global efforts like the Montreal Protocol or regional efforts like clean air acts, so the view is outdated and that argument of it being impossible to have global agreements is outdated. So now we have Paris as a first step, and the advance of technology is encouraged and clearly ongoing to deepen the emission reductions in the future. Targets put CO2 levels well below 500 ppm by 2100, while BAU is more in excess of 700 ppm. This is a 1.5-2 C saving in the warming just going by BAU trends and proposed targets. Understating this is indefensible, and is purely political posturing.

    • Hayek was saying that people were fooling themselves in 74, JimD. Nothing has changed in that regard, the steps you mention are just the same foolishness.

      • The skeptic tank numbers are meaningless. They don’t compare BAU CO2 levels with IPCC targets for 2100. I didn’t even use the extreme RCP8.5 scenario, more like RCP6 for BAU, and the targeted policy effect is still in the 2 C range.

      • Jim D, its best to state the co2 concentration differences between a market driven pathway which uses a more “reasonable” fossil fuel reserve, and a regulation and heavy subsidy for solar and wind driven COP21 world. My guess is the difference is about 50 ppm by 2100.

        If you state the assumed difference the readership can apply their own TCR to arrive at a temperature difference by 2100.

        The next step is to estimate the economic impact of a few tenths of a degree. In the market driven case investments are focused on X,y,z priorities. In the COP21/Oreskes/Figueres world the focus is on investing in solar panels and wind turbines, and shifting to autocracy (remember the climate glitterati are mostly left wing advocates of an autocratic top down “intellectual elite” ruling over the deplorable proletariate).

        Thus we have a final product to which we apply a discount factor, and publish the results in a blog, because neither Science nor Nature would ever accept reasoning which leads one to conclude that Obama, Gore, Governor Brown, Oreskes, Klein, Figueres, Mann, Hansen, and the Pope are wrong.

    • Hi Jim D, the most common mistake most of us make is to assume that the future will be a linear extrapolation of the past. All we can say about the year 2100 is that it will resemble nothing we can imagine. AI will have achieved autonomy by then and its IQ will be racing away from human intelligence at an exponential rate. All the problems that our limited human intelligence cannot solve will have been overcome… or quite possibly exacerbated. The problem with the Paris Accord is the huge cost with only trivial benefits. The trillions that will be spent and the trillions in growth that will be sacrificed could rather have been directed to goals with far higher returns, such as poverty, disease and education.

      • The huger cost is not doing anything, but things are already being done, so it is hard to know what BAU means. I take BAU as a slow per capita CO2 growth to account for developing countries. Anything leading to a per capita reduction would be defined as a mitigation action. Keeping below 500 ppm requires significantly cutting back emissions within 50 years. The Paris agreement is only a first step in the right direction, but more steps are needed as technology enables them.

    • Jim D, I believe the argument is, as Hayek said then and would say today, that the goal of the results of the Paris agreement, even if everything goes perfectly to plan, are unknowable because we don’t know all the conditions, the causes and effects, etc. that we need to know to predict the results. In essence, what we know is that more CO2 in the atmosphere would raise the temperature *all other things being equal*. Unfortunately, all other things will never be equal and we cannot force them to be equal. (Take, for example, the output of the Sun which we cannot predict with the precision necessary to know that all other things will be equal.)

      Thus, by pretending to know everything when we don’t, and prescribing changes as if we did, we likely will do more harm than good.

      I find it nearly impossible to argue with that logic, unless one believes we know everything we need to know with the precision necessary to be prescriptive. Are you arguing that we do know all?

      • The best way to reduce uncertainty is to reduce emissions to keep the climate somewhat like we are used to. Paleoclimate tells us that even at 500 ppm, the world tends towards an iceless state, and 700 ppm is well past what can support glaciers.

      • The best way to reduce uncertainty is to reduce emissions to keep the climate somewhat like we are used to.

        Here’s something to consider:

        Largely, it’s temperature gradients, not absolute temperatures or anomalies, that matter to atmospheric dynamics.

        Those gradients are both horizontal ( e.g. jet stream ) and vertical ( e.g. thunderstorm energy ).

        Part of current understanding seems to be that the oceans are storing AGW heat. Cool off the atmosphere too quickly, and you increase the instability over the oceans. ( cooler atmosphere, warmer oceans -> unstable ).

        So, paradoxically, fighting climate change could make climate change worse!

  8. King Canut was smart enough to know before getting his feet wet that his command over the seas was an empty gesture, done only to mock those who would presume that nature could be made to obey the laws of man. Western academia has yet to show that kind of respect.

    • But, but, but…. President Obama WAS much much smarter than King Canute….

      Or was he ??????

      Guess we will all know for sure in the year 2100…..

      Cheers, KevinK

      • Curious George

        There is more to the world than climate. We can see some of Obama’s legacy already: Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and the oh-so-harmonious American society. People who refuse to accept election results.

      • GCMs are a lot like the recent election polls. Humanity’s contribution is so much smaller than natural variability that the margin of error we are dealing with does more to hide our ignorance than it does to provide meaningful information. On any meaningful human scale, the natural variability the weather will always be outside the margin of error. Climate is nothing more than 30 years of weather and that can only be know in hindsight but none of the GCMs can pass the ‘hindcasting’ test: we must take their predictions on faith.

      • Sorry, but the guy who thought that Hawaii was in Asia, that Austrians spoke Austrian and that “corps” (as in medical corps) was pronounced “corpse” long ago gave up being regarded as smart.

    • Wagathon.

      “Western academia has yet to show that kind of respect.”

      Care to elaborate? As far as I can tell, Western academia has been doing a good job of determining the laws of nature. I have never heard them say they can change CHANGE the laws of nature.

      • My read of the Paris agreement is that “western academia” and governments believe they can control the climate. Is that not your read?

      • Changing the laws of nature is not the same as the assertion or belief that humans can change the outcomes of natural laws. The latter is the essence of the disrespect of which Wagathon writes (and the underlying lesson of both the King Canute story and Hayek speech). Western academia is certainly not innocent in its role as both contributor to AND permitter of the manifest disrespect in current climate science.

  9. Thanks JC. Good post with a lot of common sense. This is my take-home bit:

    As Hayek points out, the potential for overall harm of such policies is substantial.

  10. I’m betting Obama’s “legacy” will be limited to being the first black President.

    With maybe a line about he normalized relations with Cuba.

    Guess that should be expected when you substitute lecturing for leading.

    • His legacy will be far more extensive, methinks:
      1. Strengthening of enemy states through appeasement, poor judgement, broken promises, “lead from behind” “strategies”, inaction & weakness;
      2. Permitting terrorist safe havens and comprising the world’s safety to avoid offending the personal sensibilities of many people who express contempt for western values and norms;
      3. Flouting the rule of law to increase the size and power of the unnacountable Administrative State;
      4. Fanning the flames of racial tensions at every opportunity, including support for the BLM movement and it’s complicity in the rise of cop killings;
      5. Voicing increased contempt and vitriol for America/Americans in speeches given on foreign soil;
      6. Politicization and weaponization of administrative agencies to punish those with who disagrees with/regards as enemies.
      7. Overall arrogance and contempt for those who don’t subscribe to his progressive views
      8. A President (and following) that can’t understand or reconcile his high approval rating (arguably based on his likeability as a person) with the disastrous collapse of his party under his watch (arguably due to his and his party’s policies….

    • Relations with Cuba aren’t normalized. One reason Trump won Florida was a significant shift in the Cuban American vote to Trump after Obama announced additional decrees to help the Castro dictatorship in October.

      As it turns out the dictatorship has increased repression and is starting to behave more like the Kim Dinasty. We Cuban Americans are following closely what’s happening, are also fully aware that Raúl Castro has significant control over the Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, and is encouraging that madman to carry out irrational acts to induce a rebellion. This would be followed by a large scale wave of murder and mayhem, similar to what Fidel Castro did in Cuba in 1959-1961.

      Given these events we can conclude Obama’s foreign policy has been a complete failure. He turned out to be almost as bad as Bush.

    • Best quote I saw from a comment somewhere – “if Obama wants a Legacy, he will have to buy a Suburu”.

      The arrogance of the left who think that by controlling Co2, we can somehow stabilize climate is beyond absurd. The reality is, if we want a greener planet, we want more co2, not less.

  11. “In 2008, then President-elect Barack Obama said his victory marked “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow””
    He wasn’t President-Elect. The speech was his acceptance of the Democratic nomination.

    And he wasn’t saying that the seas would have stopped rising by the end of his term. Here is the full quote:

    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.

    A few if’s there. And generations.

    • Nick Stokes,

      The ability of CO2 to increase the temperature of water is precisely zero.

      The oceans have been absorbing sunlight for millions or even billions of years. The seas are no longer boiling, as they were when the first liquid water came into existence. They have cooled. They have actually reduced their volume, as boiling water is less dense than cooler water.

      Anyone who believes they can make anything hotter day by day, year by year, decade by decade, by leaving it in the Sun, is quite simply loopy.

      Sea levels rise and fall, when measured against the land. Marine fossils are found at elevations above 6000 m. Fossil fuels, of terrestrial plant origin, are found at depths of more than 6000 m. Sea levels have obviously varied by more than 12,000 m.

      And some climatologists claim averaged MSL measurements to 0.01 mm, or far less than the thickness of a human hair? If they are not complete fools already, they are certainly getting there!

      At least King Canute’s advisors only said he had power over the tides! Current advisors must be Warmists, taking the definition of sycophant to a whole new level.


      • “The ability of CO2 to increase the temperature of water is precisely zero.”
        Trotting out your all-purpose rant again. Please try to pay some attention to the topic.

      • Nick Stokes,

        I admit surprise. Are you now admitting that CO2 has precisely no effect on sea levels?

        What sort of emissions are supposed to influence sea levels? And in what fashion?

        A few facts might go down well. I know you don’t actually have a falsifiable hypothesis to explain how unspecified emissions are supposed to influence sea levels, but maybe you can come up with an explanation using normal physics.


    • Sorry, I said the same thing in my post. I do not have much time or respect for people who take quotes out of context to set up a silly straw man.

      It really does say a lot about Dr Curry’s political bias, doesn’t it?

    • Nick Stokes, Thanks for the full quote,

      “… 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.”

      Obama deserves credit for being wrong about everything, not just oceans.

      • What was the unemployment rate when he made that speech and what is it now?

        Inquiring minds would like to know.

      • What was the US Labor Force Participation rate then and now?

      • Looks like the labor force participation rate dropped less than the unemployment rate, so it looks like Barack added jobs

      • Let’s see… unemployment rate lowest since 2008. Labor participation rate lowest since 1977. Yeah, great job!

        How about homeownership rate?

      • Oh, and how about wage growth?

      • And then there are 95 million persons not in the workforce. And no year of Real GDP growth reaching 3%. And then there is the increase in Debt Held by the Public. That awful increase under Obama going from $6.4 Trillion to $14.4 Trillion. Just a 1% increase in interest rates puts a hole in the budget of $140 Billion. That equals Hillary’s entire tax increase proposal. Poof! Poor Hillary would have worked forever to get a tax increase of $140 Billion per year, and with just an increase of 1% in interest rates that amount will be gone for debt service. Not a whimper, and no one got to vote on the increased spending. Here forever. Obama’s legacy.

      • Cerescokid kd

        I always find the US debt clock fascinating

        When people tell Us to think of the children when worrying about climate I always think there are a hundred worse things to worry about, this debt mountain legacy they are being burdened with coming close to the top of the tree


      • “Nick Stokes, Thanks for the full quote,”

        So you truncated it again. It started
        “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…”

        Well, some were willing to fight for it, but powerful people wanted to fight against it.

        So someone asked about the unemployment rate. From here, a graph:

        And no, Obama didn’t create the GFC.

      • Tony

        The US has to get serious about debt or we will be like Japan which spends 40% of its tax revenue on debt service. We now spend 7 to 8% but as interest rates go up that will quickly jump
        Your link shows Total government debt of $19 T. I don’t think it is commonly known by public that our debt has two parts. A subset of the $19 T is the Debt Held by the Public at $14.4 T. The difference relates the basically the government owing itself for “borrowing” from the Social Security Trust Fund and other Trust Funds for annual operating purposes. It started in 1986 when SS tax rates went up higher than needed to start to fund the Baby Boomers 30 years hence.
        The problem is the government couldn’t keep its hands off the money so now it will be paying back all those Trust Funds for the next 30 years. A mess.
        I just took a peak at the UK debt to GDP ratio. It is about 90% up from 41% in 2007. Not as bad as US.

      • > And then there is the increase in Debt Held by the Public.

        Conclusion: on average, Democrat presidents run lower deficits than Republican presidents.

      • Actually B, the second graph from the top shows that the Dems have a higher deficit average. That is including FDR. Of course, why would anyone exclude the mountain of debt from the FDR years. Doing so would be like cooling historical temperatures. And no one does that.

        But the important thing is really that the Democratically Inspired Social Programs are driving the deficits and are responsible for the massive Debt Held by the Public. In the last 50 years, the US has spent $51 Trillion on Democratically Inspired Social Programs. During that same time the Republican Priority of Security through Strength (AKA the Defense Budget) has accounted for a piddly $16 Trillion. Just since 2000 the Democratically Inspired Social Programs have increased annual spending by $2 Trillion while Defense spending has increased by only $300 Billion.

        Discerning individuals recognize what is driving the deficits and the massive debt.

      • The question is who is better at spending and gambling with other peoples money, the Donkeys or the Elephants.

        We will see what happens with Donald the Elephant in office.

        Or is he really a Donkey?

        Though I agree with his proposal to cut the corporate tax rate.

        If that was a campaign promise I might have voted for him.

  12. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “The idea that any panel of global experts, working with appointed diplomats and bureaucrats, can have the requisite knowledge to make such grand and final decisions for the globe is outlandish and contrary to pretty much everything we know.

    Hayek explains further:

    “To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.”

    Top read…

  13. Thanks JC

    I love when this story gets trotted out. We have literally wasted trillions of dollars and countless lives after the formal fall of communism in the USSR. Meanwhile we’ve been quite willing to let it worm it’s Marxist ways through the backdoor of groupthink.

    Stupid fancy apes. It’s that damn mirror neuron defect always being messed with … alters our ability to be reality based primates.

    The pendulum feels like it’s swinging as I notice true believers have these so called shaking moments.

    • How have we “wasted trillions of dollars and countless lives after the formal fall of communism…”? And who is “we”?

      • Count the useless windmills and count the dead birds and bats and add up the useless trillions of money that was spent to kill these birds and bats.

      • scraft1

        “….countless lives after the formal fall of communism…”?

        The lives lost who breath the smoke from open cooking fires. The children whose respiratory defense mechanisms have been overwhelmed by smoke from open cooking fires subjecting them to infections they can not fight like tuberculosis and simple viral and bacterial pneumonias leading to their death.

        These people are but billions (that is spelled with a “b”) also perishing over the decades from not having electricity by which to cook their foods; electricity to refrigerate their milk, butter & cheese; electricity to light their way to self enlightenment; the electricity denied to people by “do-gooders” influencing bankers influencing politicians influencing the lives of people who have no options.

        The criminality of the “CO2” warmists can be assessed by the lives lost since the EPA’s Endangerment Finding, let alone since Rachael Carson’s “Silent Spring.”

        Scraft1, I suggest you get out a little more. Tramp the dusty path, look into the eyes of the mother with her children clustered about her and see she can only pray to some god that life will be better, not knowing of course that billionaires, part of our “coastal elite” knowingly and actively work to deny electricity to her country, let alone to her village.

        These are the deaths of which I speak.

      • RiHoo8 – please don’t presume to lecture me on the way the world works. I’ve probably been around longer than you, and obviously my powers of deduction are far superior to yours.

        I happen to be a skeptic on all things, RiHoo8, and that includes skepticism of undocumented, unsupported claims about causation concerning poor folks who breath smoke and lack clean water, particularly when you claim these unfortunates die as a direct result of windmills and EPA’s endangerment findings. Get a life and worry about something that’s fact-based.

        I assume you call yourself a skeptic. That should include applying your own skepticism to blaming everything on suspected liberals and communists. Stupid claims are stupid claims, regardless of political pedigree.

        If people on this blog, believers or skeptics, are going to make nonsense claims, then I would hope that I’m not the only guy who will call them out.

  14. Hi Judith, good that you have discovered Hayek. His thoughtful analysis is highly relevant, and “charlatanism” is the right word. Too little thought is given to the issues of how we determine what we think we know.

    On a slightly related topic, I’m curious about a recent paper on ocean heat ( which found a “statistically robust upper-ocean warming” trend of 1.3-5.0 ZJ for 1970-2008. However, they found three different types of uncertainty (mapping, instrumental bia and baseline). As far as I can see, these uncertainties should be additive, which would mean the uncertainty would be 28-48.9 ZJ, that is, much larger than the “robust” trend. They seem to gain confidence from the “measurements” all heading up, but given that the minimum uncertainty is at least 5 times the largest trend, is is wise to put much confidence in the robustness of the trend? Is there a paper that explains why they are right to be confident?

    • I think it is correct that the rate of sea level rise has increased since 1970. But 1970 was a low point. Current rates are the same as for the 1930’s-1940’s. See IPCC figure

  15. I’m a free-marketeer but I think that Hayek’s analysis is fundamentally flawed. Basically he said that because we don’t know everything we should just stand back and let things happen.

    The most obvious rebuttal of this is that humans are really very good at working with incomplete information.

    Second we have examples where a leadership decision to take societies and nations in a new direction have worked out brilliantly. I whine as loud as anyone else about political correctness but I love living in a world with equal rights for all. The USA had no gripe with Hitler; Roosevelt’s intervention saved European democracy. The free market did nothing to clean up the environment until the Clean Air Act came along. Eradication of polio and smallpox is thanks to concerted efforts by governments, not to the profit motive.

    For a long time it looked as if CAGW was a real problem. If it had been, the War on Carbon would have been a wise decision by our leaders. Now it has become apparent that the dangers are miniscule, and anyway because of the rise of AI they are likely never to occur. The real problem now is that our leaders, most of them anyway, are either unaware or unwilling to admit that they have made a mistake. And meanwhile the free market is exploiting the situation with gay abandon.

    • Hayek’s argument did not say that the government should never do anything. He was saying that trying to replace a market process that works and involves the decisions of millions of consumers can’t be replaced by a command economy since the small group of politicians or bureaucrats trying to run it don’t have nearly enough information and far less than the millions of consumers they would be trying to replace or emulate.

    • You make a lot of sense here, and certainly the exaggeration of climate risk ( which are a concoction of government institutions ) are apparent.

      However, my irony meter pegged when you cited:
      Roosevelt’s intervention saved European democracy.

      Assuming that Roosevelt had indeed duped the Japanese into attacking, to save Europe’s bacon ,WWII was a huge example of a government created disaster! I don’t think one government resolving other government created disaster goes in the win column for government.

    • Constructing a simple, 20M GBP barrier to address a simple, one dimensional threat on a local scale is hardly comparable to world economies spending trillions (or more) of dollars to address a vastly more complex, multi-dimensional threat at a planetary scale with little to no probability of success.

      • Jarjobro – correct. A quantifiable,local threat is easy to prepare for – though expensive to the local residents.

  16. Notwithstanding land movement, often at least as significant as sea level change, there appears to have been a number of high water stands during the last two thousand years, at around 300AD, around 1200 and 1600Ad. The current sea level rises can be traced back to around 1750 when the glaciers first started melting after the LIA and more generally from around 1830 or so when the melting became more widespread.

    The LIA is said to have been the most significant period of cold this side of the Holocene. It seems reasonable to suggest therefore that the amount of snow and ice locked up during that time was probably more significant than during other cold periods.

    There is therefore likely more snow and ice to melt in the first place and consequently the water locked up will eventually return to the oceans as the glaciers melt. It seems likely therefore that IF the modern warm period reaches the intensity and longevity of previous ones that the sea levels will eventually become higher than the other warm periods mentioned, land movements being the joker in the pack.


    • TonyB.

      “The LIA is said to have been the most significant period of cold this side of the Holocene. ”

      Citation, please.

      • Do you want your nappy changed too?

      • Harry

        Delighted to increase your knowledge

        Try also jean groves, Hubert lamb and ladurie.


      • Harry Twinotter


        From the reference you provided:

        “During the Little Ice Age, the average annual temperature of the Northern Hemisphere was about 1.0 degree Celsius lower than today.”

        Northern hemisphere only, no estimates for global.

        I wonder about the quality of that reference, they include this puzzling statement:

        “The graph indicates that the anomolies for the first 60 years of the record were consistently negative.”

        Ummmm well yes, negative compared to the baseline – but so what?

      • Harry Twinotter

        Peter Lang.

        “Do you want your nappy changed too?”

        Ohhh another insult. The only thing you demonstrate is what a mental midget you are.

  17. “Sea level has been rising for centuries, even millennia.”

    Evidence, please.

    • Global sea level has fluctuated widely in the recent geologic past. It stood 4-6 meters above the present during the last interglacial period, 125,000 years ago, but was 120 m lower at the peak of the last ice age, around 20,000 years ago.

      • Harry Twinotter


        Are you numerically challenged? You are talking about 125,000 and 20,000 years. What is the relevance to what Dr Curry said?

    • Harry

      As far as I can determine! sea level rises and falls roughly in line with periods of cold and warmth and glaciation changes.

      Whilst I would not disagree with the centuries rise ( roughly two or so for the latest episode) I would also like to see evidence for millennia.


      • Harry Twinotter


        The chart matches my understanding as well. The global mean sea level has been more or less stable for the last two thousand years, followed by a recent hockey-stick increase.

    • read the IPCC; or read my congressional testimonies; or read my previous posts at CE on the subject (search sea level rise). Or try the Wikipedia

      • Harry Twinotter,

        In view of the usual Foolish Warmist response to my polite requests for a falsifiable GHE hypothesis involving CO2, you’re doing pretty well to be provided with advice about something that actually seems to exist.

        Maybe you can provide a copy of the magically missing falsifiable GHE hypothesis? It doesn’t appear to be Googleable – doesn’t seem to exist at all, in fact!

        Warmists seem to be adept at issuing stupid demands that others do their work for them, whilst generally being as obstructive and unhelpful as possible.

        Here’s a perfect chance for you to justify the claim of CO2 involvement in making thermometers hotter! I wish you luck!


    • The 10,000-year trend is up. Wow.

      • Yes about 140 m since the last Ice Age, 70 m to go from the ice left on Greenland and Antarctica, but that is the process we are forcing, just to continue towards iceless states last seen over 35 million years ago. CO2 levels are moving towards the levels back then.

    • Harry Twinotter asked for evidence that sea level has been rising for …” even millennia.”

      20,000 years is 20 millennia. 125,000 years is even more millennia. And he asks if I am numerically challenged. Climate Change is real. It’s been around for a long time. Get with the program Harry.

  18. No one could ever accuse Dr Curry of taking a quote out of context?

    “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.”

  19. The Canute story has double relevance for climate policy.

    The first – highlighted by the article – is the misplaced confidence in the power of planners/Kings/Presidents to control the forces of nature.

    The second is the fallacy of believing that to deal with a problem (in King Canute’s case the fact that his feet are getting wet) the obvious approach is to understand what’s causing it (the rising tide) and then to address that causal factor.

    So the IPCC climate scientist’s approach to King Canute’s problem is to do exactly what he’s trying to do – control the tide (ie mitigation). If they have a criticism it is just that he needs more information and better regulatory powers.

    The engineer, by contrast, might say the best approach is to build a sea wall just high enough to keep his feet dry. Not a bad solution and it has the advantage that it would also help to deal with other, non-tidal, causes of sea level rise (a no regrets policy).

    A more pragmatic/bevaioural solution would be to move the King’s throne up the beach out of the way of the tide (adaptation!).

    An evolutionary biologist might say there is no need to do anything: before long everyone would have got fed up with getting their feet wet and would have walked up the beach anyway, by which time all of the top-down planning would look like a waste of time.

  20. Can Dr. Curry clarify her following statement with a “NO SPIN ZONE” comment:

    In the “event that each of these countries actually manages to meet the obligations that they have already made, the amount of warming prevented by the end of the 21st century will be a few tenths of a degree.”

    Most laymen would interpret this above statement as saying:

    (A.) In a “Business As Usual” (BAU) Scenario, CO2 is projected to go up significantly above 400 ppm by 2100.

    (B.) But even if the Paris Agreement was achieved, the resulting decrease in warming would only be a few tenths of a degree — compared to the BAU Scenario by 2100.

    Who is doing the “spinning” on the above statement — Dr. Curry or JimD?

  21. Hi Stephen, You can read the analysis at . “All climate policies by the US, China, the EU and the rest of the world, implemented from the early 2000s to 2030 and sustained through the century will likely reduce global temperature rise about 0.17°C in 2100. These impact estimates are robust to different calibrations of climate sensitivity, carbon cycling and different climate scenarios. Current climate policy promises will do little to stabilize the climate and their impact will be undetectable for many decades”.

    This is actually the “consensus” opinion, even thought it’s rarely stated so clearly.

    • Geoff — Thanks. If I have done speed reading correctly of the paper you cited, JimD is spinning. The Paper you cite does in fact measure the difference in warming in BAU versus the Paris Agreement.

    • Everyone knows that the Paris agreement is only the first step and they do not expect to return to a BAU track after 2030, so it is a weird scenario that assumes that. I explicitly refer to the Paris target, which is 2 C or stabilizing levels at about 450-500 ppm, and it is only achieved if the emission curve continues to bend down past 2030. There are statements from several countries of reductions by 80% by 2050 for example, as a continuation after 2030. None of this should be new.

      • JimD — Dr. Curry has made a very powerful statement (which I hear many Republican Policymakers in Congress also making). Geoff has provided a very credible looking (to us laymen) science paper backing up Dr. Curry’s Statement.

        Just provide us a link to credible science-based Paper(s) that refutes Dr. Curry’s Statement. I’ve asked 4 internationally recognized Climate Scientists for such a paper — where the response has interestingly been no response — ZERO!.

        Dr. Curry’s Statement is extremely powerful — arguing that any current mitigation action “for the purpose of specifically reducing greenhouse gas emissions resulting in warming” is a waste of money. The only justifiable mitigation actions would be those that are cost-justified for other reasons (e.g. SLCPs to reduce harmful air pollution like what Berkeley Earth is showing us of what’s going on in China right now) — but not AGW.


      • The paper they pointed you to is by Lomborg whose view of the IPCC target is plain wrong. If you look at what Lomborg assumes, he assumes the IPCC policy until 2030, followed by a rapid rise along the RCP8.5 emission growth rate from 2030 onwards (a growth rate only achievable by replacing the renewable energy in 2030 with coal plants as per RCP8.5 which is dominated by coal). Instead the IPCC plan past 2030 is to continue to reduce emissions as fast as possible, with some major emitters targeting 80% by 2050. This keeps CO2 levels below 500 ppm, not anywhere near Lomborg’s made-up scenario. Either Lomborg doesn’t know IPCC’s target to reduce emissions beyond 2030, or he is trying to fool people about it.

      • Stephen

        See my 8.55 response I made to you a couple of days ago that is directly related to your queries. It is currently immediately below your latest comment


      • Hi Jim, refering to your Dec 22 comment, you may need to work on your reading skills. Repeating the words of Lomborg’s paper, he assumes all the promised climate policies by the US, China, the EU and the rest of the world, starting in the early 2000s and continuing to policies promised up to 2030 and “sustained through the century” will likely reduce global temperature rise about 0.17°C in 2100.

        The point, which should be obvious and true, is that steps taken and currently “planned” through 2030 will have little impact by 2100 even when they are maintained. That is to say, clost to zero progress has been made on the huge reductions that would be needed to achieve the climate targets that are beleved to depend on CO2 reductions. What could be clearer? Of course, many activists try to obscure this simple point.

      • To get a warming rate of 0.5 C per decade, such as he has at 2100, requires global emissions to be several times larger than today’s at that time. There is no IPCC policy that has higher emission rates in 2100 than today. He has done something wrong to arrive at that warming rate. IPCC policy is to stabilize the temperature before we reach 2100. It should be a flat temperature and a much lower emission rate than today because other energy sources should be taking most of the load. His scenario assumes reverse progress on that score.

      • JimD — The Statement by Dr. Curry of “only a few tenths of a degree by 2100” and your statements gets to the very integrity of this blog, of Dr. Curry, of you — even Congress as they are citing Dr. Curry’s statement.

        As you may know, my professional knowledge is in engineering and Ag. I am an “average Joe on the street” layman on Climate Science. Within this context:

        As I re-read the above cited Lomborg paper, I don’t come to the conclusion you did as to Lomborg’s optimistic scenario. Maybe your point could be valid with a pessimistic scenario, but not in what Dr. Curry is stating.

        My impression is that Lomborg used data/methods used by the IPCC, “gave the benefit of the doubt on a whole lot of assumptions under the optimistic scenario” and came up with the tenths of a degree conclusion (that Dr. Curry cites).

        Until I see a study that either (A) directly refutes the Lomborg study; or (B) or reaches a conclusion markedly different than Lomborg — I would believe Dr. Curry’s statement — which is a “Game Changer” as to any mitigation efforts based on reducing GHGs.

      • Recently I’ve seen another paper that basically confirms Lomborg (who agrees with MIT, knappenberger also). i will try to find it

      • Lomborg neither shows his explicit emissions through 2100, nor the CO2 level in his scenarios. It is a classic “hide the pea” tactic. I have stated above that his final warming rate at 2100 can only be achieved if emissions are several times larger than even now while the IPCC targets would have emissions lower than now or even zero by then. Even keeping emissions at today’s levels through 2100 gives about 2 C less warming than the RCP8.5 scenario. That is easily worked out, being similar to the RCP4.5 scenario. IPCC’s targets are to reduce below today’s levels and keep them there. What Lomborg appears to have done is to take the IPCC as only a perturbation to the RCP8.5 scenario, so that when he says it “continues” beyond 2030, what he means is that the perturbation gets no larger, i.e. emissions grow at the RCP8.5 rate from then on. As I mentioned, that is a coal-driven scenario, and no one expects us to be reversing the Paris trend and burning so much coal in 2100 that we have emissions several times larger than today (except apparently Lomborg). As you say, this is important for people to understand since Lomborg’s number is quoted in political circles.

      • JimD — This thread really isn’t going anywhere on an extremely important topic. Dr. Curry has given us two studies in addition to Lomborg (with a promise to provide a third) that back up her “game-changing” statement.

        You’ve given us zero studies that either (A) directly refute Lomborg; (B) reach a dramatically different conclusion than Lomborg (and other studies that Dr. Curry cites).

        The ball is in your court.

      • Hi Judith, There are a number of “consensus” papers that largely agree with Lomborg. One is

        “The successful implementation of all conditional INDCs would decrease our median estimate by an additional 0.2 °C, but keeps the outcome far from the world the Paris Agreement is aiming for, with well-below 2 °C and 1.5 °C of warming”

        I see Jim D keeps trying to sow confusion. .

      • thx, but neither of this links works?

      • WP is stripping off the final “.PDF” in its URL’s. Seems to be doing it on purpose. It may be a newly introduced bug, or it may be a reaction to something in the body of the URL.

        Anyway, copy/pasting the URL from the comment into the “location” field in the browser seems to work.

      • You only have to look at the IPCC scenarios for refutations. Look at RCP4.5 or RCP2.6. They key is what assumption you make about the emissions in the span from 2030-2100 – more reductions or resuming increases. These studies you quote have larger emission rates than today for the rest of the century, which would be a failure to follow the IPCC targets or even to replace fossil fuels with anything substantive. They also ignore further targets of 80% reduction by 2050 that are being developed for the post 2030 period.

        Lomborg’s assumption was that the emissions would be something like the RCP8.5 scenario minus 6 Gt/yr, which implicitly is saying we get the coal-happy growth rate minus minimal emissions through 2100, and end up with maybe 95% of the emissions we would have had because of the growth of coal and lack of replacement. If you believe his scenario, fine, but that is not what the IPCC goal is. See RCP4.5 and RCP2.6 for their policy goals. You have to look at the skeptics’ assumptions on emissions and CO2 levels, and they don’t usually show those while the IPCC does.

      • Hi Judith, sorry, was trying to link to an available version. The reference is Rogelj,, Paris Agreement climate proposals need a boost to keep warming well below 2 deg C, (2016) Nature, 30 June, Volume 534, 631-639;

        I guess the title alone refutes Jim D’s numerous attempts at obfuscation. The commitments made to date under the Paris Agreement for actions through 2030, and then maintaining those actions through the end of the century, will have little effect on temperature, using IPCC’s median sensitivity.

      • If you read it, they understand that more reductions are needed beyond the INDCs for 2030, and the 2 C target can be reached from there. The values they state are also consistent with what we get if we can hold emissions constant through 2100, which is better than Lomborg’s assumption of something like tripling emissions by 2100, which is how he got 4.5 C instead, that is plain ridiculous. Comparing Lomborg’s RCP8.5 assumption of BAU with 2.6-3.1 C here, shows how much even this partial policy reduces the temperatures.

      • Hi Jim D, I’m not sure you’re really interested in understanding this topic, but hope springs eternal. You may benefit from reading this new analysis in a repected climate journal, The Paris Agreement and the inherent inconsistency of climate policymaking (Geden, WIREs Clim Change 2016, 7:790–797. doi: 10.1002/wcc.427, open access). He makes the point Lomborg is making in a slightly different way, but he conclusion is the same. There is a huge gap, if you accept the IPCC’s median sensitivity, between the Paris Agreement commitments and the stated goal of maximum 2 °C. He questions the consistency between talk, decisions and actions on climate, and states “if consistency of talk, decisions, and actions cannot be assumed, then concepts like evidence-based policy-
        making become essentially devoid of meaning”.

        He states very clearly ” Aggregated voluntary pledges are projected to lead to 55 Gt of greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, while one of the COP21 decisions explicitly states that a 2 °C trajectory would require
        ‘reducing emissions to 40 gigatonnes’ by 2030. This effectively means that significant strengthening of pledges (and actions) has to occur by 2030, and everything world leaders, climate diplomats, and NGOs were saying during and after COP21 suggested the Paris Agreement would secure exactly that”.

        However, in order to address this gap, policymakers and leaders are adopting “magical thinking” and have introduced the concept of “massive amounts of future negative emissions” even though there is no such technology, short of creating a large garden 1.5 times the size of India.

        So, there is a huge gap between the commitments made to date since 2000 or planned to be put into place by 2030, and the “agreed” temperaure limit of 2 °C (if you believe the climate models). Currently, policy makers are using “magical thinking” that the “carbon budgets can be exceeded since we will somehow develop CDR (Carbon Dioxide Removal) technologies (and that they will be cost effective), but this is “magical thinking”.

      • I don’t think you need negative emissions because natural sequestration is a strong effect in the background, absorbing half our emissions, and this can help us out if we can at least halve our emission rates to levels it can keep up with. This would stabilize the climate below 2 C. Emissions are currently near 40 GtCO2/yr so a target near 20 GtCO2/yr by 2100 would be sufficient to control warming. You may ask why the IPCC doesn’t consider this natural sequestration because I do ask that.

      • Hi Judith, The MIT study reference I find ( and no full paper yet published) does calculate a higher temperature effect from the Paris Agreement than Lomborg (and most other analysts), a reduction in “global mean surface air temperature (SAT) in 2100 between 0.63 and 1.07 °C relative to ‘no climate policy'” . We don’t have the full paper, but they say the results are sensitive to “different assumptions about the policies after 2030”. Lomborg’s assumptions are clear in his paper.

      • Hi Geoff, thanks for these links.

      • Hi Judith, Knappenberger has analyzed the US commitments under the Paris accord, and using the EPA’s climate model (MAGICC, not magical thinking) finds little impact by 2100 (0.11 °C).

      • The UN agreement signed during the recent COP21 meeting in Paris defines policies which supposed to be implemented by different countries to reduce their anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Those agreed policies, however, only cover the period up to 2030 and they do not specify actions after 2030. As a result, projections of the long-term climate impact of the Paris agreement produced by different research groups differ significantly because they make different assumptions about the policies after 2030. In this study we estimate possible impacts using the MIT Integrated Global System Model, which consists of the human activity model, Economic Projection and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model, and a climate model of intermediate complexity, the MIT Earth System Model (MESM). In addition to the “no climate policy” scenario, we consider a scenario that incorporates the emissions targets proposed by the international community to address the challenges of climate change based on the submissions to the COP21 process. For the post-2030 period we create several variations: a) no additional climate policy after 2030, but the proposed cuts are extended to 2100; b) reductions in emissions and emission intensities after 2030 at the same rate as in the 2020-2030 period; 3) in addition to the conditions in the previous no country increases its GHG emissions after 2050. Based on the emission scenarios, we simulate possible future climate changes. Our analysis shows that, for the climate parameters corresponding to the median strength of the climate system response to anthropogenic forcing, the Paris Agreement can reduce the global mean surface air temperature (SAT) in 2100 between 0.63 and 1.07oC relative to “no climate policy” case. At the same time, due to a large inertia of climate system, in 2050 the SAT reduced only by about 0.12oC under all three scenarios. Under all three variants of an extension of the Paris Agreement an increase in the SAT relative to an 1861-1880 average exceeds 2oC in 2053 and in 2100 it reaches 3.5, 3.2 and 3.0oC, respectively. We contrast these results with the results from an emission scenario that leads to the 2oC stabilization.

      • The cognitive dissonance between the stated goal of <2 or <1.5 °C global temperature increase by 2100 and the committed actions is not new – it applied to the Copenhagen agreement as well, which was clearly analyzed in the paper "Analysis of the Copenhagen Accord pledges and its global climatic impacts—a snapshot of dissonant ambitions"

        As the authors say (referring to the Copenhagen agreement "even the optimistic interpretation of the Accord's pledges results in effective reductions by 2020 far outside the 25–40% range of aggregated emission reductions for developed countries". They note "the Accord has no legally binding character, parties can add, modify or withdraw their submitted pledges or actions without any restriction. Since mid-April—the moment the snapshot of mitigation actions for this study was taken—several parties have done so". Of course the reductions in the Paris agreement are also not legally binding.

        They conclude "If the average national ambition level for 2020 is not substantially improved and loopholes closed in the continued negotiations, only low probability options remain for reaching the 2 °C (and possible 1.5 °C) ambition of the Accord". The same was true for Paris, they weren't, and low probability remains.

      • This only argues for stronger agreements going forwards, and I think everyone at last sees that. The target of 80% by 2050 is an example of a goal that still keeps us at 2 C, and people, even the skeptics, should get behind it.

      • OK, I hope I’ve demonstrated almost everyone who analyzes the Paris Agreement commitments and extends them to 2100 finds little impact on global temperatures (as always assuming the IPCC mean sensitivity). This is actually causing a panic among those who think we need to cut CO2 emmisions at a level sufficient to reach a target of 1.5-2 °C, as they realize that huge cuts would be required, which in no way have been committed (fancifully assuming as usual that such commitments will be fulfilled when the consequences are evident). This was known when the agreements were signed (“Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change?” answer – no; And nothing has changed – “What would it take to achieve the Paris temperature targets?” (massive, unthinkable reductions or magic fairy dust to create negative emissions; ). Or as they put it “Current INDCs could not avoid 2° of warming without relying on substantially greater net negative emissions later in the century than was proposed in RCP2.6, a capability that is not certain to be realized” (or as I would judge, certain not to be realized).

        Personally I’m more fascinated by the science questions than policy, but I would judge that policy based on fairy dust is unlikely to achieve its stated objectives.

      • While it will be hard, but not impossible, to keep below 450 ppm, 450-500 ppm and stabilized remains very possible, and this is much better than the 700 ppm and rising BAU. The key is stabilization and saving 1.5-2 C while we’re at it. Many major economies have already flattened emissions and are ready to reduce gradually them going forwards. You can protest all you want, but it is already happening.

      • Sure. Fairy dust. (In my best Mosher imitation).

      • Policies can make the difference between 700 ppm and rising. This is a ~2 C difference, however you want to spin it.

      • OK some symbols went missing.
        Policies can make the difference between less than 500 ppm and stable and greater than 700 ppm and rising. This is a ~2 C difference, however you want to spin it.

      • Sure. Fairy dust. (In my best Mosher imitation).

        more like…Fairy farts

      • JCH Thanks for the link to the NASA paper. Geoff and Dr. Curry — what makes this study just not credible? Or, is the temperature range reduction (0.63 and 1.07 C) not considered significant?

      • SS – I don’t think anybody on either side has even begun to understand the potential damage. They’re expecting a gradual warming. They disagree on the size of it. I’m expecting a very rapid surge in warming. I have been since debates with the water chef here at cesspool etc. I do not think cooling is at all possible. So far I’ve been completely correct: GMST surging; sea level rise surging; ice collapsing.

        It’s a global heatwave.

        The stadium wave has come and gone. It barely put a dent in the upward march of the GMST. We are now in a hot regime. How long it will last… who knows? 2 years into the Trump administration, we’re going to have a 10-year increase averaging .05 ℃ per year, or, 2 1/2 decades of IPCC warming in 1 decade.

        Look at the ballyhooed “natural” warming during the Great Depression. The PDO went solidly positive. ENSO was, if anything, cold. Huge spike in GMST; huge spike in SLR; significant loss of ice.

        People who think the 2015-2016 warming was caused by El Niño are krazy. It’s a PDO ramp up, and the stored energy is entirely anthropogenic. In the 20th century there were two: starting mid 1930’s and and ending early 1940’s; starting mid 1970’s and ending early 1980’s.

        The current one started 2012-2013. As usual: huge spike in GMST; huge spike in sea level rise; huge spike in ice loss.

        The AMO feeds delusion. Lukewarmism is a cruel fairy tale.

      • jch

        Here in the UK we just had our second warmest Christmas Day in the very long record


      • watch out . . . cold snowy weather is headed your way

      • Stephen Segrest | December 26, 2016 at 5:51 am |
        “JCH Thanks for the link to the NASA paper. Geoff and Dr. Curry — what makes this study just not credible? Or, is the temperature range reduction (0.63 and 1.07 C) not considered significant?”

        Hi Stephen, There is insufficient detail in the abstract to judge why the result seems to be different than the most common calculation of about 0.2 °C for the Paris commitments extended to 2100. Their language in the abstract is not fully clear to me. They say “For the post-2030 period we create several variations: a) no additional climate policy after 2030, but the proposed cuts are extended to 2100; b) reductions in emissions and emission intensities after 2030 at the same rate as in the 2020-2030 period; 3) in addition to the conditions in the previous no country increases its GHG emissions after 2050”. So three scenarios. (I assume they meant “c” rather than “3 since there’s no 1 and 2).

        However in their conclusion, they only show two outcomes:
        “Based on the emission scenarios, we simulate possible future climate changes. Our analysis shows that, for the climate parameters corresponding to the median strength of the climate system response to anthropogenic forcing, the Paris Agreement can reduce the global mean surface air temperature (SAT) in 2100 between 0.63 and 1.07 °C
        relative to “no climate policy” case. At the same time, due to a large inertia of climate system, in 2050 the SAT reduced only by about 0.12 °C under all three scenarios”. They don’t clarify what they mean by the “no climate policy case”. Perhaps that is their scenario #1, which is no additional climate policy after 2030, but the proposed cuts are extended. This is the assumption of Lomborg. Since they don’t give three outcomes, my working hypothesis is that the scenario they don’t give an outcome for is scenario #1, and that it likes agrees with Lomborg and most other studies, and that the two outcomes they do provide correspond to scenarios #2 and #3, mean huge reductions in emissions (which are not spelled out).

      • OK, let’s see if we can put this part of the story completely to rest.

        Who has recently said in reference to the Paris commitments ” we are actually on track for global warming of up to 3.4 degrees Celcius” and “current commitments will reduce emissions by no more than a third of the levels required by 2030 to avert disaster”? Who has said ” most scenarios that are available in the literature, and that limit warming to below 2 or 1.5°C, assume the use of so-called negative emissions technologies in the second half of the century — that is the active and permanent removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere”.

        Who has said “The emissions gap for 2030 is 12 to 14 GtCO2e compared with 2°C scenarios, for 1.5°C the gap is three GtCO2e larger. Even
        if fully implemented, the unconditional Intended Nationally Determined Contributions are only consistent with staying below an increase in temperature of 3.2°C by 2100 and 3.0°C, if conditional Intended Nationally Determined Contributions are included”? And who keeps repeating themselves on the Paris commitments, saying “the contributions are far from what is required for an emissions pathway consistent with staying
        below 2°C” and “the current level of action is very far from what is required to move towards alignment with the strengthened objective of the Paris Agreement”?

        Well, it’s the United National Enviromental Program (UNEP), as you can see in their current The Emissions Gap Report 2016 (see It’s called the emissions gap report for a reason. The currently committed reductions in carbon emissions fall far below they level they believe are needed to keep the climate temperature under 1.5-2 °C, as they spell out in detail in the report (and even if you include the “conditional” commitments).

        So in conclusion, Prof. Lomborg is correct in his analysis and even the UNEP agrees with him. That’s why they are so panicked.

      • Everyone agrees we need to do more than just what was suggested up to 2030. No one thinks we should increase emissions beyond 2030, as per Lomborg’s assumption. Everyone says what happens past 2030 should be and can be stronger than what is being done prior to 2030. Using those more realistic assumptions about bending down emissions, you get significant reductions over the bending up scenario. Thousands of GtCO2 can be saved by 2100 alone and that is worth of order degrees in saved warming.

      • That’s why they are so panicked.

        Why is there panic over a change in GMST? Whats the justification?

        What is the justification for the 1.5C and 2 C targets?

        Before answering, please read the comments starting here:

      • My last comment is to Geoff@Large

      • Hi Peter, One is only panicked if you believe that we need to cut emissions dramatically to reach a climate goal of 1.5-2 °C, and you think people might believe that sufficient actions have been completed with the Paris accords. I’m not panicked.

      • Hi Jim D, Thanks for one more opportunity to show your continuing silliness on this issue, which I will use to add a few more facts.

        As Lomborg says in his paper, his analysis is based on the methodology used by Tom Wigley to analyze Kyoto (see You remember Tom I’m sure. He’s the former head of the the CRU at the University of East Anglia (successor to founding director Hubert Lamb), and later a senior scientist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in the US. He is a fellow of the AAAS, and a significant contributor to the IPCC. I’m afraid I can’t find an open access online version of the paper, but I suggest you read it. His conclusion on Kyoto is actually quite similar to Lomborg’s. As he showed in his analysis, if all the Kyoto obligations were implemented and held through 2100, the net temperature impact (using median sensitivity) would be 0.15 °C. His point (like Lomborg’s) was pretty clear – the agreements (Kyoto then, Paris now) don’t come anywhere near the cuts the UNEP says are necessary to achieve a maximum temperature increase of 1.5-2 °C by 2100.

        It’s easy to imagine all kinds of fanciful scenarios whereby those cuts may be achieved. However, there are real costs. And if you realize all the analyses presented, including the one from MIT (well, but not yours), even if the most drastics cuts were made, little impact is seen on temperature by 2050 (MIT says 0.12 °C by 2050 under their scenario 3). That’s not likely to give much incentive to reduce emissions by folks who look at practical and measured consequences.

      • It doesn’t matter who he copied from, look at his assumed emissions. They increase at the RCP8.5 rate through 2100 being likely several times higher than today’s by then. If Paris is held to, emissions are not increasing beyond 2030. Major emitters like the US and EU already have peaked. Lomborg’s scenario is not a realistic representation of the IPCC goals mainly because of how he adds on the coal-happy RCP8.5 scenario to their targets. It’s really peculiar.

      • Jim D, gotta work on those reading skills, as I mentioned earlier.

        As Lomborg clearly says, “For the most recent IPCC report, AR5, the literature holds about 250 BAU scenarios (UNEP, 2014, p. 34). The choice of global BAU scenario determines the absolute temperature. Since we are interested in the difference between a BAU scenario and the similar BAU scenario with a policy emission reduction, the global BAU scenario decision matters little. Here I use the RCP8.5, which is regarded as a worst-case scenario. Sensitivity analysis shows that the results change little when using other scenarios like RCP6 and SRES A1B, which are better-case outcomes”.

        Got it? No matter what scenario you use, the impact of the Paris commitments is very limited, and nowhere near the reductions claimed to be needed to achieve 1.5-2 °C by 2100. As you can easily see in the supplementary information, using RCP 6 gives a reduction of 0.2 °C (Table S1). And don’t forget, these are the optimistic scenarios, meaning all the promised cuts are made, and maintained through 2100. A “pessimistic” (realistic?) scenario, meaning all the Paris commitments are kept through 2030 but falter after that towards baseline, leads to a reduction of only 0.056 °C (for RCP 6) or 0.048 °C (for RCP 8.5).

        If you look at Figure ES1: Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel use and industry in the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2016 I linked to earlier (page xiii) for global (non-ag) emissions by country, try to see the impact of Kyoto. Do emissions fall off or slow their rate of increase after 1998? No, not at all. Can we conclude Kyoto was not effective in reducing emissions or the rate of emissions growth? Yes we can. Was Wigley correct in his analysis that Kyoto would have little impact on temperature? Yes, so far and probably for the future.

        Think about the implications of the MIT projection that even if much more drastic emission cuts are put into place by 2030, the temperature impact would only be 0.12 °C by 2050. That means (as always assuming the models are accurate) that we would have spent US$ trillions over the coming few decades, with an immeasurable temperature decrease to show for it. Since we know that El Nino spikes along can raise global temperatures by 1.4 °C from trough to peak, and back down again when La Nina comes, my guess is that it will be hard to get politicians and the public to implement the current commitments, much less the drastic cuts you believe are needed.

        Leaving aside President-elect Trump, let’s consider recently elected President Duterte of The Philippines. In July this year, the President said a foreign ambassador recently reminded him of the country’s commitment to limit its carbon emissions. He said he was angry with the ambassador and “wanted to kick him” when the diplomat, whom he did not identify, asked him if the Philippines could maintain the level of its carbon footprints.
        “I said, ‘No. I cannot tell … You don’t do it that way, Mr. Ambassador. [your country] has reached the apex [of industrialization] and along the way put a lot of contaminants and emissions, and went ahead in destroying the climate,’” the President recalled as telling the ambassador.
        “We have not reached the age of industrialization. We’re now going into it. But you are trying to stymie [our growth] with an agreement that says you can only go up to here,” he added. “That’s stupid. I will not honor that.”

        When the ambassador told him that the Philippines was a signatory to the agreement, Mr. Duterte replied: “That was not my signature. It’s not mine … I will not follow.” The President also said the climate change agreement was forged just when the Philippines was on its way to develop its own industries. “Now that we’re developing, you will impose a limit?” he said. “That’s absurd.” “That’s how very competitive and constricted our lives now. It’s being controlled by the world, it’s being imposed upon us by the industrialized countries. They think that they can dictate the destiny of the rest of the [world],” he added”. (see

        And that’s where there’s little pressure on The Philippines from the cost of trying to reduce emissions. Once the cost of even more drastic cuts are presented to governments around the world, it is (in my humble opinion) beyond delusional to think they will be implemented. I doubt it will take long to dump those signatories of the Paris Accord, like President Duterte’s predecessor and President Obama’s annointed successor have been.

        But hey, don’t let me stop you from creating another graph of how all those emissions can so easily be cut.

      • What he glosses over is that RCP6 and the others are stabilization scenarios, and these are cooler by degrees than RCP8.5. If he can separately believe in RCP8.5 and RCP6, why not believe that the difference comes from policy. Similarly RCP4.5 and RCP2.6 come from policies that can be defined. The whole point of having these 4 scenarios is to show the effect of various defined emission policies in the context of other changes like population and GDP growth. Wigley had two other more realistic scenarios that Lomborg decided to ignore. A realistic scenario is one that says when the IPCC says it will cut emissions by a certain percentage below, say, 2005 or 1990 levels, the emissions will stay below those levels and not immediately go back up after 2030 as Lomborg assumes. The IPCC is setting a maximum on emissions that carries forwards, and Wigley does that in his other scenarios that Lomborg prefers not to speak of for some reason, so his optimistic scenario is Wigley’s pessimistic scenario where emissions resume their growth instead of staying flat or reducing.

  22. Stephen

    I think you might be interested in this article I wrote nearly six years ago

    It covers likely temperature reductions according to a variety of mitigation scenario. There is an estimate by the much missed prof mackay who died this year! but at the time was the chief scientist of the UK department of energy and climate change, the first of its type in the world and tasked with achieving the uk’s legally binding climate change act, the first of its kind in the world.

    The length of time that co2 was supposed to remain in the atmosphere and cause a warming effect meant that even a drastic reduction in our emissions had no discernible effect on temperature.

    I was somewhat surprised by this and subsequent to the article wrote to some ten of the worlds leading climate scientists asking for their estimates.

    Two did not reply, four had not even thought of making the calculation and the remainder all agreed that the reduction was in the thousandths or at best tenths of a degree.

    I remember emailing the results at the time to Judith but i do not still have the results due to a computer change. It would be interesting to repeat the exercise to see if the calculations still result in the trivial reductions of temperature that were made back in 2011


    • Judith

      We shall see….mind you temperatures are definitely on the slide as what was expected to be our warmest Christmas day ever was some half a degree centigrade below the records set jointly in 1896 and 1920 . The latter, with delicious irony, at Killerton, just a couple of miles from the met office hq in Exeter.


  23. The King Canute analogy either seems alarmist, or defeatist. Sea levels are rising because of thermal expansion and melting land ice. The main reason for this is because energy in the climate system is increasing and the main reason it is increasing is because we’re emitting GHGs into the atmosphere. The key issue would then seem to be whether or not we can emit less into the atmosphere than we might otherwise. That should reduce how much energy accrues in the system, and produce less sea level rise than it would if we emitted more. If you think this is simply not possible, then that would seem rather defeatist – we’re a remarkable species, surely we can find ways to generate energy that doesn’t require emitting a GHG into the atmosphere?

    On the other hand, if you really think that there is nothing we can do to influence sea level rise, that would seem to suggest that we’ve passed some kind of major tipping point. That, however, would seem rather alarmist.

    I guess there is a third option, which is that adding CO2 to the atmosphere does not produce warming, but people also seem to complain when I point out what that implies.

    • There is another option: that we do not and cannot know all of the causes of climate change with the precision needed to predict what the result of the Paris (or any other) agreement would be. Further that we cannot control all of the causes even if we knew them.

      That is the point: that we need the humility to know when we cannot be effective, because acting on incomplete knowledge is likely to do more harm than good.

  24. If you prefer a “consensus” opinion see .
    “The consensus among the assessments at this stage is that current INDCs are not in line with the 2 °C goal, which was also stated in the PA (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2015). To achieve the 2 °C goal, either a further emissions reduction before 2030, or more drastic and quick reductions after this date are required”.

    Dr. Judith doesn’t spin.

  25. Is sea level rising faster? Is Isostatic Adjustment needed?
    Sea level expert Prof. Nils-Axel Mörner finds:

    Main Points:
    * At most, global average sea level is rising at a rate equivalent to 2-3 inches per century. It is probably not rising at all.
    * Sea level is measured both by tide gauges and, since 1992, by satellite altimetry. One of the keepers of the satellite record told Professor Mörner that the record had been interfered with to show sea level rising, because the raw data from the satellites showed no increase in global sea level at all.
    * The raw data from the TOPEX/POSEIDON sea-level satellites, which operated from 1993-2000, shows a slight uptrend in sea level. However, after exclusion of the distorting effects of the Great El Niño Southern Oscillation of 1997/1998, a naturally-occurring event, the sea-level trend is zero.
    * The GRACE gravitational-anomaly satellites are able to measure ocean mass, from which sea-level change can be directly calculated. The GRACE data show that sea level fell slightly from 2002-2007.
    * These two distinct satellite systems, using very different measurement methods, produced raw data reaching identical conclusions: sea level is barely rising, if at all.
    * Sea level is not rising at all in the Maldives, the Laccadives, Tuvalu, India, Bangladesh, French Guyana, Venice, Cuxhaven, Korsør, Saint Paul Island, Qatar, etc.
    * In the Maldives, a group of Australian environmental scientists uprooted a 50-year-old tree by the shoreline, aiming to conceal the fact that its location indicated that sea level had not been rising. This is a further indication of political tampering with scientific evidence about sea level.
    * Modelling is not a suitable method of determining global sea-level changes, since a proper evaluation depends upon detailed research in multiple locations with widely-differing characteristics. The true facts are to be found in nature itself.
    * Since sea level is not rising, the chief ground of concern at the potential effects of anthropogenic “global warming” – that millions of shore-dwellers the world over may be displaced as the oceans expand – is baseless.
    *We are facing a very grave, unethical “sea-level-gate”

    A major controversy is on the isostatic adjustments of relative sea level records for glacial rebound.
    An indication of the large uncertainties involved can be seen in: Glacial isostatic adjustment, relative sea level history and mantle viscosity: reconciling relative sea level model predictions for the U.S. East coast with geological constraints
    Sea Level Changes Along Global Coasts from Satellite Altimetry, GPS and Tide Gauge

    In the introduction the authors emphasized the standard line: “The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that between 1901 and 2010, the mean sea level rate 1.7±0.2 mm/yr and increased to 3.2±0.4 mm/yr between 1993 and 2010, and projected that in 2100 the largest increase in global average sea level will reach 0.82m [32]. ”
    Yet they actually found the sea level rise rate of 2 to 2.4 mm/year for 2003-2012 . See mean from Table on page 108-109.
    Trend(GRACE Mass+Steric) / Trend(Satellite Altimetry) / Time-span Trend(Tide Gauge + GPS) / Trend(Satellite Altimetry)
    mean 1.99±0.67 2.13±1.02 2.43±0.61 2.31±1.05
    i.e. a mean of ~2.2 mm/year for 2003-2012
    Why did the authors not dare to declare this very reasonable 2.2 mm/year in their conclusions or in an abstract? 30% LOWER than the IPCC’s 3.2 mm/yr alarm?
    Is this further evidence of Climate Lysenkoism?

    • Earth’s Future

      Changing sea-level is an inevitable consequence of an ever evolving climate. Recent climate warming is responsible for producing some of the highest rates of sea-level rise observed in the past few millennia [Kopp et al., 2016] and it is expected that this acceleration will continue through the 21st century and beyond [Church et al., 2013; Clark et al., 2015], thus, increasing the hazards associated with this aspect of climate change [Field et al., 2014]. …

      • Hi JCH, Stefan Rahmstorf has been riding the “semi-emperical” method for estimating sea level rise for a decade, but the original critique remains valid (see ).
        “In conclusion, although we agree that there is considerable uncertainty in future projections of sea-level change and that model predictions currently
        appear to underestimate observations,we do not agree that simplistic projections of the nature presented in (1) substantially contribute to our understanding of the uncertainties in the nonlinear relationships of the climate system”.

      • The studies of that group – Jevrejeva, Grinsted, others – are now not much different than those of Rahmstorf. Jevrejeva is PSMSL. Hogarth is prominent on their website. He used their data.

  26. ATTP, sea level has risen since 1807 at least ( (if you believe that type of analysis), but carbon emissions from fossil fuel were pretty low back then.

    In the satellite era, no acceleration of sea level is observed (, and during which time a very high percentage of all (modern) carbon emissions have been released. By the way, Steve Nerem is the godfather of satellite observation of sea level, since it’s based on his 1982 master’s thesis, and he led the huge project that funded the satellites to start the measurements.

    So your premises and recommended actions are not supported.

    • Geoff,

      In the satellite era, no acceleration of sea level is observed

      Sneaky, but clever. The average rate of sea level rise for the 20th century is lower than the rate during the satellite era.

      So your premises and recommended actions are not supported.

      My premise was basic physics. Add GHGs, energy in climate system goes up. Energy goes up, sea water expands and ice melts. I didn’t have any recommended actions, I was simply pointing out that it’s not really so much about somehow stopping sea levels from rising, it’s really about whether or not we should emit less (than we could) CO2 into the atmosphere.

      • Add GHGs, energy in climate system goes up. Energy goes up, sea water expands and ice melts.

        All other things being equal (ceteris paribus), and by an unknown factor. Hardly a solid premise.

      • Curious George

        ATTP, anybody who breathes emits CO2 in the atmosphere. Anybody who rides a horse, a car, a bus, a train, or flies, emits CO2 in the atmosphere. It is really about a population explosion. The medical science unleashed penicillin on a mostly unprepared world. I wonder what is the social cost of penicillin.

      • Curious,
        Breathing is mostly carbon neutral. However, the reasons are not really the point. Continuing to emit (fossil fuel) CO2 into the atmosphere, will continue to warm the climate, and will continue to raise sea levels. That is the case whatever the reasons for doing so.

      • Curious George

        Breathing is mostly carbon neutral – only if you are a subsistence farmer. My fingers itch to add “like Al Gore”.

      • > Breathing is mostly carbon neutral – only if you are a subsistence farmer.

        … or don’t burn geologically sequestered carbon when farming.

      • Developing climate models and theories of the source(s) of climate change need to go way, way beyond basic premises. Today, the most sophisticated and advanced models do not match that of the observable data. And when individuals proclaim that the temp changes we see are evidence of warming( and human induced warming at that), and those amounts are within the error of measurement AND/OR are retroactively adjusted to fit that narrative, one must ask and acknowledge who is actually denying science (and reality). And btw, ice age’s have had ~10x the atmospheric CO2 that we have today.

    • @ATTIP

      “My premise was basic physics. Add GHGs, energy in climate system goes up. Energy goes up, sea water expands and ice melts. ”

      Well.. how about adding some feedback effects to that overly-simple physical model?

      Like water vapour? Clouds? etc…?

  27. Is this further evidence of Climate Lysenkoism?


  28. ATTP, my point was not sneaky but precise. Huge amounts of CO2 have been sent skyward from human actions in the past 25 years, which indeed would increase earth system energy (all things being equal, but with considerably uncertainty as to how much since Charney), and yet there is no acceleration in sea level detected. What do you think that means? There has hardly been any surface temperature increase either. The usual explanation of the “excess” heat going into the ocean would certainly lead to increased steric contribution to sea level rise, which we’re not seeing.

    My other point was that sea level seems to have rising in the 19th century in a similar way, before large CO2 emissions. This leads me to question whether reducing them now to lead to lower sea level rise rates.

    As you know perfectly well, the alleged “acceleration” of sea level in the 20th century stems largely from the change in measurement from tide gauges to satellites. This aspect is almost always glossed over (although mentioned by David Hagen above). A good discussion of the “adjustments” made to the satellite data which yielded a higher rate of sea level rise is found in Parker (2016) at .

    • Geoff,
      You also need to know that – given how much we have emitted – that we’d expect to have observed an acceleration. The answer, as I understand it, is no. Therefore not finding an acceleration is not necessarily all that significant.

  29. Parker (2016)
    “The graph of the raw satellite trends from the Topex/Poseidon satellite up to 2000 of (Nils-Axel Morner, 2004) does not show any sea level rise, but a constant noisy signal from 1993 to 1996, plus rises and falls from 1997 to 1999, probably related to the 1997-98 El Nino event. As shown by (Menard, 2000), the GMSL changes from Topex/Poseidon satellite observations cycle
    11 (October 1992) to cycle 276 (April 2000) suggest a rising trend
    of +1.0 mm/year only after a first round of corrections”.

    “After another round of calibration in 2003 (AVISO, 2003), the processed
    satellite altimeter GMSL record from Topex/Poseidon and Jason suddenly showed a new trend of +2.3 mm/year, with the original records presented by (Menard, 2000) tilted by a factor of +2.3 mm/year”.

    • Just to finish this issue off, I would also mention another recent paper by Albert Parker completely devoted to the satellite accuracy issue, which finds “The global mean sea levels (GMSL) from the satellite altimetry missions have been provided since 1993. It is shown here that these results are more a computation than a true measurement, suffering of arbitrary adjustments and corrections, and failing validation against more accurate and reliable products. Sea levels provided by a network of tide gauges provide a superior result.(see

      I would also advise anyone using the satellite sea level record to become familiar with the many issues of data collection and data processing, and the many opportunities for error (see for example, Impact of Altimeter Data Processing on Sea Level Studies, ).

  30. Just a comment in regard to teh efficacy of planning. 19th century people did not have a complete theory of infectious disease, however they knew of the importance of hygiene . 19th century planners built sewers and greatly reduced the incidence of disease. Researchers in artificial intelligence write of developing systems that can reason and take action in the face of uncertainty. There is a danger in asserting a certainty where no such certainty exists. However there is also a danger in not taking action with the excuse that there is no certainty of success.

    • [On decarbonization] there is no certainty of success, but there is a certainty of costs. Are we spending our limited resources wisely?

  31. Climate skepticism is a cargo cult… an expert in complete error is put forth as an expert: Nils-Axel Möerner. He’s the guy Feynman was warning you to look out for… spoon benders.

    Sounds like science; talks like science; acts like science; and, it ain’t science… means it’s a cargo cult. Spoon benders uniting on the internet at CE Etc.

    2017… in the face of a stubbornly positive PDO, NOAA’s 75% probability of a La Niña for 16-17 has gone up in smoke. Looks like first half of 2017 will be ENSO neutral warm:

  32. Dr. Curry, congratulations on your very humble essay. Perhaps 2017 will see an increase in such wisdom and a decline in the irrational belief in the efficacy of coercive interference with human liberty – i.e. a decline in the belief in governmental solutions.

  33. “and yet there is no acceleration in sea level detected. What do you think that means?”


    • There is one paper that list all of the methods used so far to either find or not find acceleration. From memory… it’s around 30 methods. There is another paper that asks what would an acceleration at this time would look like? Basically, it would be noticeable… barely. And then there is the issue… an acceleration of exactly what? Jevrejeva has an acceleration 1807 to present. Trenberth saw no acceleration to date in the satellite record… does that make Jevrejeva wrong? I don’t think so. Given that it’s very early, 2016, I don’t think a lack of acceleration amounts to a hill of beans.

    • The first derivative of a noisy signal (the sea level) is difficult to obtain over a short time period. The second derivative is impossible.

    • Hi Steven “The Man” Mosher, Well, yes possibly. The ocean is huge and inertia is to be expected. However, Steve Nerem has been working on this issue for at least 5 years. I have one of his presentations from 2011 (unfortunately cannot find an online link) titled “Why has an acceleration of sea level rise not been observed during the altimitry era?”. As far as I can tell he didn’t publish a paper with this title, perhaps for political reasons. In that presentation, he cites the 2005 report by Dyurgerov and Meier of the arctic program at the University of Colorado (Occasional Paper No 58, 2005, Glaciers and the Changing Earth System: A 2004 Snapshot) to the effect that glacier melt increased sea level rise contribution from 0.5 mm/year for the period 1961-1993 to 0.9 mm/year for 1993-2003, a net increase of 0.4 mm/year. You will easily recall that for the past 15 years, we seen dozens of papers purporting to show an increase in glacier and ice sheet loss and consequent sea level rise. Many of these papers and comments in Science and Nature (and the more specialist literature) were quite breathless about the acceleration of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica and glaciers with an added contribution to sea level (for example, and So yes, while the steric contribution to sea level rice could likely be slowed by inertia, the eustatic contribution has certainly been “calculated” to lead to an sea level rise acceleration, which in fact we don’t see.

      Of course in Steven Nerem’s recent paper referenced above, he attributes the lack of acceleration to the Mt Pinatubo eruption on June 15, 1991, which “cooled the oceans and decreased water storage over land and in the atmosphere. The net effect of these changes was to lower sea level prior to the altimeter era”. Sure, maybe. But it’s pretty hard to prove how much the ocean heat content decreased as a result of Mt. Pinatubo since that’s pre-Argo, and he relies on climate models to “calculate” what the drop should have been.

      I can think of a few other possibilities, including low climate sensitivity. increased heat loss to space, errors in the altimetry data, and quite a few more.

    • Steve Nerem’s most recent paper doesn’t really resolve any of these issues and does not address the lack of sea level rise acceleration ( It sounds more like an advertisement for continued funding.

  34. So sea level rise is caused by:
    A.} Milankovich cycles (apsidal precession)
    B.) Agriculture and CO2 (manmade)
    C.) Both A & B

    My best guess A = 99% B= 1%

  35. Perhaps an interesting corollary to the discussion is that instead of asking whether sea level rise is accelerating or not, we should be asking: “What rate and what acceleration in sea level rise would man not be able to adapt to?”

    And what is the likelihood of ever seeing that rate and that acceleration?

  36. The role of chance for local planners is significantly underestimated,such as the role of the NZ Kaikoura earthquake and seabed uplift.


    after (rh window)

    • Barack Obama delivers last-minute hit to democracy
      By Geoff Sherridan
      The Australian

      Barack Obama’s presidency is ending with a fine contempt for democracy as he exhibits every trait of hubris, arrogance and disregard for the messy business of elections and democratic mandates in his efforts to tie the hands of his successor on contentious policy that Obama was never willing to take to the electorate, or put before congress.

      On two contentious issues — Israeli settlements and offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic — Obama is taking ­actions directly against the spirit and practice of democracy by using bureaucratic and legal manoeuvres to try to put policy decisions beyond democratic ­revision. Obama chose to wait until after the presidential election to take these steps. Obama, with Hillary Clinton, was always the best advertisement for Donald Trump, even more so now, for Obama, at the extreme end of lame duckery, demonstrates a peerless elite disregard for democratic process and the messy and inconvenient business of elect­oral results.

      It is Obama, not Trump, who pioneered American weakness and retreat from leadership.

      Obama has been kind to America’s enemies, but he is a dangerous friend. America’s allies, in this case Israel, have been his chief victims. By abstaining, Obama allowed a resolution to go through the ­Security Council that the US had always previously vetoed. It is a one-sided and expansively worded condemnation of all ­Israeli ­settlements outside the lines of the state of Israel as it ­existed before the 1967 war.

      On its face, the resolution makes no sense as the land the resolution chiefly concerns was never officially Palestinian land but, before 1967, belonged to ­Jordan. Israel has always ­accepted that the final status of this land must be worked out in negotiations and has made at least three serious offers to give more than 90 per cent of the land in question to a new Palestinian state.

      In exchange, the Palestinian leadership must accept that this is an end of claims, must recognise the legitimacy of Israel, and must commit to its future security. The Palestinians have not been able to meet these conditions.

      MORE: US policy failure on Israel
      No one who lives in the real world thinks the Israel-Palestine dispute can be solved in today’s environment of a Middle East in flames.

      Let’s be quite clear about this. Obama, with extreme irresponsibility, is licensing a new wave of global anti-Semitism. And he knows exactly what he’s doing.

      Because of the blanket terms in which the UN resolution condemns Israel — simplistically equating every Israeli suburb in East Jerusalem with the most provocative and, in Israeli terms, ­illegal settlement outpost in Palestinian population centres in the West Bank — it will give massive encouragement and legitimacy to every international effort from the most toxic actors in the world to demonise Israel and to demonise Jews.

      And to be reversed it will require another Security Council resolution, which Trump’s ­administration will no doubt move, but will be surely vetoed by Russia and China.

      Obama’s contempt for democracy is equally evident in the Atlantic and Arctic oil drilling bans.

      He has every right to prevent such drilling if he wishes, but he has chosen to do so under an ­ambiguously worded law that means that when Trump reverses Obama’s edict this will inevitably be challenged in court.

      This is just the behaviour which brings democracy into contempt and fuels a backlash like that which propelled Trump to the presidency.

      Obama cannot leave office a day too soon, though God alone knows what other harm he might accomplish before January 20.

  37. Pingback: King Canute versus the climate planners — Climate Etc. | Robbie's Blog

  38. King Obama has thrown down the USGCRP gauntlet: “On Climate Change, Obama Lays Down a Scientific Gauntlet for Trump Administration.
    Unveiling a sobering state-of-the-climate [USGCRP] report, President Obama makes clear the dire consequences of unabated global warming.”

    Here is an interesting USGCRP quote: “Human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are primarily responsible for observed climate changes in the industrial era,” it says. “There are no alternative explanations.”

    Industrial era? Clearly out of rhetorical control.

    • How can a research program that urns $25 billion a decade in climate research not have heard of the little ice age? Speaks volumes.

  39. The willful and cynical ignorance of Curry is depressing.

    • “The willful and cynical ignorance of Curry is depressing.”

      If you put that into a physics equation it would be down right frightening for ya, wouldn’t it?

    • “This general definition is that a cynic is a person who sees the faults in things more clearly than most.”
      “But we “cynics,” who point out all these problems and analyze them so enthusiastically, seem to actually enjoy the process of unearthing trouble, even if the things we find often disgust and dismay us. The reason the process is so rewarding is because we know that we’re crawling along towards change, and that the more people we urge to care with our commentary, the faster that crawl will go.”
      Applies to the recent presidential election as well I think.

  40. RE: Uncle Rube: “The willful and cynical ignorance of Curry is depressing.”

    Perhaps you should find something else to do to cheer yourself up. Apparently trolling isn’t working for you . . .

  41. If only people who can would do the maths of the proposed cures for planetary scale changes themselves, as David MacKay said so often, “I’m not against renewables, I’m pro arithmatic.”. AND be able to say what that shows without the zealot greenshirt hords of the modern pseudo science inquisition accusing them of the very science denial that their own fraud on the facts is self evidently based in – on the maths of proven science that anyone can check. Perhaps then more of the non technical and deceived would understand this was just another government run get rich quick scheme for pressure groups and lobbyists.

    e.g. Renewables must make CO2 emissions from generation expensively worse versus gas and nuclear replacing coal cheaply on the grid, certainly in equable and non hydro gifted countries. £Billions pa in easy money to for making CO2 emissions worse by law as well as rendero ing our grid energy supplies, less affordable, adequate, sustainable and secure.

    Nothing significant will change, the sky will not fall, real problems may even be made worse by law through corrections made within a single natural period that in fact create positive not negative feedback, but the same cynical people will always be their to create the fear to support a regressive short term profit from the ignorant fear of the numerically and technically challenged, by law.

    Humans are not significant on a planetary scale, and our lifetimes are miserably shorter than the natural periodicity of a ALL serious long term global change, of anything much. Sea levels, temperatures, coral reefs, polar bears (doing really well BTW) and glaciers all come and go, naturally, some serially. How many nuclear weapons make a hurricane, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc. “Is that the best you got”, says planet Earth. I’d like to see the qualifications of contributors required here, so readers can check they have a basic ability to work this out.

    Science, and real scientists, should not be interested in their beliefs. Neither should politicians when making decisions on practical engineering matters based on them. Engineering is expected to work. Let’s make it so. BY respecting the laws of physics over those of politicians.

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