Uncertainty about the Climate Uncertainty Monster

by Judith Curry

The many dimensions of the climate uncertainty monster.

Bret Stephens’ climate change op-ed of several weeks ago Climate of Complete Certainty spawned a number of articles related to uncertainty and climate change.

Andy Revkin’s article in response was titled There are lots of climate uncertainties.  Let’s acknowledge and plan for them with honesty.    Revkin even mentions the Uncertainty Monster and Jeroen van der Sluijs.

While the Uncertainty Monster (or  Mr. T) should be pleased at the mentions, there are numerous misconceptions among those that are trying to give climate uncertainty its due attention.

Let’s take a look at some of these issues.

Certainty, probabilities, uncertainty,  and ignorance

If you need a refresher on the Uncertainty Monster, see my original post

See also these additional posts.

Bret Stephens made the following statement

Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the earth since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities.

Loosely speaking, yes climate change is a matter of probabilities.  However, mathematically speaking,  ‘probability’ already implies a great deal of certainty — that we have a well-defined pdf that includes all possible results.  This is certainly not true of very much in climate science, particularly related to attribution and 21st century projections.

From my paper Reasoning About Climate Uncertainty:

Statistical uncertainty is distinguished from scenario uncertainty, whereby scenario uncertainty implies that it is not possible to formulate the probability of occurrence particular outcomes. A scenario is a plausible but unverifiable description of how the system and/or its driving forces may develop in the future. 

Stainforth et al. (2007) argue that model inadequacy and an insufficient number of simulations in the ensemble preclude producing meaningful probability distributions from the frequency of model outcomes of future climate. Stainforth et al. state: “[G]iven nonlinear models with large systematic errors under current conditions, no connection has been even remotely established for relating the distribution of model states under altered conditions to decision-relevant probability distributions. .  . Furthermore, they are liable to be misleading because the conclusions, usually in the form of PDFs, imply much greater confidence than the underlying assumptions justify.”

Insufficiently large initial condition ensembles combined with model parameter and structural uncertainty preclude forming a PDF from climate model simulations that has much meaning in terms of establishing a mean value or confidence intervals. In the presence of scenario uncertainty, which characterizes climate model simulations, attempts to produce a PDF for climate sensitivity are arguably misguided and misleading. 

Back to Brett Stephens’ statement: much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities.

While I appreciate the distinction that Stephens is trying to make regarding ‘its not certain’, our understanding of future climate change is NOT a matter of probabilities.   Climate model projections and IPCC conclusions are possible future scenarios, and the uncertainties are too great to even come close to assessing probabilities.

I am very pleased to see that Andy Revkin has been engaging with the Society for Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty and attended a recent meeting.  Revkin discusses the unknowability of future regional climate change.  However, Revkin’s acknowledgement of uncertainty extends mainly to the impacts:

Of course, no one there questioned the basic science identifying a growing human impact on climate from the buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But as is well known in the scientific community, while the climate basics have long been clear, many of the most consequential aspects of climate change remain shrouded in uncertainty.

Despite three decades of intensifying analysis using ever more sophisticated computer simulations and observing systems and vast troves of data gleaned through the passage of time, two of the most basic questions remain enduringly unclear: the pace and extent of warming from a given rise in CO2 and the resulting rate of sea-level rise as ice sheets deteriorate. Through 2100 or so, either could be disastrous or manageable.

There is some implicit acknowledgement about uncertainty in the rate of warming (associated with uncertainties in climate sensitivity to CO2); but no acknowledgement of the uncertainties about the broad range of causal mechanisms (internal and external) for climate change.

So it is good to see these acknowledgements of uncertainty in journalistic thought leaders in the climate debate.  But the Uncertainty Monster is a tricky dude, it doesn’t help to oversimplify him.

Uncertainty monster simplification

Chad Orzel has an article in Forbes:  Probability is more certain than you think:

Again, the quantitative nature of scientific uncertainty undermines this– there are no shruggies in science, but rather a range of possible outcomes, with quantitative probability estimates for each. Even if you don’t believe the worst claims for climate change, you can do way better than “Well, maybe it won’t happen…” Choosing not to make the effort to engage quantitatively is both lazy and dishonest.

Well, maybe the lazy and dishonest people are those who oversimplify deep uncertainty and ignorance by trying to quantify it.

There are most definitely ‘shruggies’ in science: the knowledge frontier and the unknown unknowns.

Understanding uncertainty associated with the complex, nonlinear and chaotic climate system, let alone managing it, is a very challenging endeavor.  Hence it is tempting for scientists and policy makers to simplify uncertainty to make it appear that the appropriate considerations have been undertaken.  For a previous post on this topic:

The IPCC oversimplifies the characterization of uncertainty by substituting ‘expert judgment’ for a thorough understanding of uncertainty.  They look at ‘evidence for’ and ‘evidence against’ (but somehow neglect a lot of the ‘evidence against’), and completely neglect to acknowledge ignorance.

Formal efforts at Uncertainty Quantification (e.g. regarding climate models) are a useful step, but are only scratching the surface of the uncertainties and neglect major aspects of structural uncertainties of the models.

The bottom line is that the climate system is too complex with myriad uncertainties for simple reductionist approaches to understanding and managing uncertainty to be useful.

Too much uncertainty?  Too much certainty?

There is a perception that uncertainty equals inaction.  The appropriate way to view the decision making under uncertainty challenge is summarized in this tweet by Silvio Funtowicz:

It’s not about certainty in probabilities, but how salient is the uncertainty in relation to a portfolio of policy options.

A recent paper found that upper midwest farmers say that there is too much uncertainty in climate change to justify changing their agricultural practices.

On the other hand, when there is too much certainty in a prediction, the results can be substantial losses:  English vineyards (planted with the expectations of warmer temperatures) were hit by frost this spring, wiping out half of the harvest [link]

Simple linear decision making can lead to decisions that do more harm than good.

Does more uncertainty increase the imperative for action?

Economists Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzmann in their book Climate Shock argue that more uncertainty increases the imperative for climate action [link to FT article]:

The challenge is “almost uniquely global, uniquely long-term, uniquely irreversible and uniquely uncertain”. The book’s big contribution is on the last point: uncertainty. Climate change is a problem of insurance. For this, it is not median outcomes that matter most, but the outliers — the “fat tails” of the probability distribution of temperature.

Framing the challenge of climate change as a problem of insurance against disaster is intellectually fruitful. It also provides the right answer to sceptics. The question is not what we know for sure. The question is rather how certain we are (or can be) that nothing bad will happen. Given the science, which is well established, it is impossible to argue that we know the risks are small. This being so, taking action is logical. It is the right way to respond to the nature and scale of possible bad outcomes.

The manufactured ‘fat tail’ comes from confusing statistical uncertainty (with a possible infinite fat tail) with scenario uncertainty, which is limited on the upper end by articulation of a plausible worst case scenario.  I have written several posts about the flaws in Wagner and Weitzmann’s argument:

Climate of unintended consequences

So for the sake of argument, lets say we buy Gernot and Weizmann’s argument, and we do something.

What if the ‘cure’ is worse than the ‘disease’?  Bret Stephens wrote a follow on op-ed entitled Climate of Unintended Consequences, where he points out the folly of biofuels/ethanol to help address the problem of climate change.  There is also the diesel fuel example.

There is a new documentary that will air on May 18 in the UK — The Uncertainty has Settled [link]. Excerpt from the advert:

After eight years of travelling through conflict and poverty zones, Marijn Poels – a left wing filmmaker/journalist – decides to take some time off. In the Austrian mountains no less. It confronts him unexpectedly with the roots of agriculture and its modern day perspective. Globalisation and climate politics are causing radical changes such as farmers becoming energy suppliers. But the green ideology raises questions. The scientific topic of climate change has now become incontrovertibly a matter of world politics. Poels faces a personal conflict. Are we doing the right thing?

By radically changing global energy policies in a top down way, are we risking continued poverty in the developing world? Risks to our food supply?

And finally, what are the opportunity costs for focusing on this problem at the expense of others?

Value clashes and opportunity costs 

One characteristic of decisions under deep uncertainty is that there are value clashes involved — cost-benefit analysis does not capture the full dimension of the concerns.

For the sake of argument, lets say that we actually believe the climate model predictions and the assessments of costs by economists.  Should we then act, i.e. spend the money to address this problem?

Well, spending money on the climate change problem has opportunity costs, i.e. the money then doesn’t get spent on other problems.

Alex Berzerow has an interesting article:  Are microbiologists climate-denying science haters?  Excerpt:

Recently, I gave a seminar on “fake news” to professors and grad students at a large public university. Early in my talk, I polled the audience: “How many of you believe climate change is the world’s #1 threat?”

Silence. Not a single person raised his or her hand. Was I speaking in front of a group of science deniers? The College Republicans? Some fringe libertarian club? No, it was a room full of microbiologists.

How could so many incredibly intelligent people overwhelmingly reject what THE SCIENCE says about climate change? Well, they don’t. They just don’t see it as big of a threat to the world as other things. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of them felt that antibiotic resistance and pandemic disease were the biggest global threats. One person thought geopolitical instability was the biggest concern.

I told them that I believed poverty was the world’s biggest threat.  If we fix poverty, we could stop easily preventable health problems, such as infectious disease and malnutrition.

What so many in the media (and apparently the climate science community) fail to understand is that people have different values and priorities. Foreign policy analysts are terrified of North Korea. Economists fear Brexit and a Eurozone collapse. Geologists, especially those in the Pacific Northwest, fear a huge earthquake. Experts across the spectrum perceive threats differently, usually magnifying those with which they are most familiar.

In his response to his inaugural NYTimes op-ed [link], Brett Stephens writes:

The human race is forced to confront multiple environmental threats with limited economic resources. We have to make hard choices about how we assess the threats and how we allocate the resources — knowing all the time that information is imperfect and economic and environmental conditions are subject to change over time. Climate change is one of those threats, but not the only one: think of malnutrition, “ordinary” pollution, land mismanagement and so on. We need a serious debate not only about how to allocate those resources, but also about whether we have the tools right now to make a switch to less carbon-intensive energy sources in a way that doesn’t impose its own set of grave and unanticipated economic and environmental problems.

In other words, to say we want to take out insurance for climate change is perfectly sensible. But whether we know we’re buying the right insurance, at the right price, is less clear, and it behooves us to look closely at the fine print before we sign on.

Decision making under deep uncertainty

So how should we deal with risks associated with human caused climate change? To say with full confidence that there are no risks is simply wrong.  We can argue until the cows come home about how likely catastrophic risks are, but there remains the possibility of catastrophic risks — I have argued that the uncertainty is too great to assign a probability to this; possibility is the appropriate likelihood.

From my post Permanent paradigm paralysis:

In their Wrong Trousers essay, Prins and Rayner argue that we have made the wrong cognitive choices in our attempts to define the problem of climate change, by relying on strategies that worked previously with ozone, sulphur emissions and nuclear bombs. While these issues may share some superficial similarities with the climate change problems, they are ‘tame’ problems (complicated, but with defined and achievable end-states), whereas climate change is ‘wicked’ (comprising open, complex and imperfectly understood systems). For wicked problems, effective policy requires profound integration of technical knowledge with understanding of social and natural systems. In a wicked problem, there is no end to causal chains in interacting open systems, and every wicked problem can be considered as a symptom of another problem; if we attempt to simplify the problem, we become risk becoming prisoners of our own assumptions.

Simply put, the current focus on CO2 emissions reductions risks having a massively expensive global solution that is more damaging to societies than the problem of climate change.

The precautionary principal is by no means the only decision analytic framework to use under conditions of deep uncertainty, see these previous posts:

The Hartwell paper has a very insightful summary

‘Muddling through’ at the local level is probably what will happen.  We can be smart about muddling through, as illustrated in this blog post at deepuncertainty.org.
 .
 JC reflections

The ‘Uncertainty Monster’ was the theme that launched this blog in 2010. There have been some very significant advances in our thinking on this topic, both in the scientific community and our thinking about decision making.

However, much of this has not trickled up into the UNFCCC/IPCC and the public debate on climate change.  Brett Stephens and Andy Revkin can play an important role on the media side of all this.

The climate Uncertainty Monster is maturing, and he is demanding that we pay attention.

268 responses to “Uncertainty about the Climate Uncertainty Monster

  1. Pingback: Uncertainty about the Climate Uncertainty Monster – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. Alarmists want to make this about saving the world from the sin of carbon pollution, when in fact the real sin may be human pride and the desire to control a non-cooperating non-linear, chaotic, complex system.

    • Isn’t it more about reliably understanding what the system will do, where and when as a function CO2 changes than it is about control? If you understand what conditions will be like you can plan for what will occur.

      Currently there seems to be no reliable modelling to forecast changes in regional climate as a function of CO2 changes over time. There also seems to be no shortage of wild claims of great knowledge.

      • David Wojick

        People, including scientists, simply cannot accept that chaotic systems are intrinsically unpredictable. For that matter, there may simply be no such thing as predictable changes in regional climate as a function of CO2 changes over time. CO2 is roundoff error as far as the system is concerned.

        AGW is based on the wildly false idea that climate is naturally stable and unchanging. See my https://www.cato.org/blog/nsf-climate-denial?utm_content=buffer2695b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.

      • People, including scientists, simply cannot accept that chaotic systems are intrinsically unpredictable.

        There certainly are some conditions under which CO2 could increase but global surface temperature doesn’t ( significantly increased warming aloft but zero at the surface, increased humidity near the surface, but decreased humidity aloft, and increased low cloud cover, but decreased cloud cover aloft ). However, for just about every vertical profile around the globe for all seasons, increased CO2 implies radiative surplus. i.e. warming.

        I’ve been trying to distinguish predictable versus unpredictable aspects.

        Consider a hypothetical atmosphere at rest versus in motion.
        For temperature, increased CO2 and resultant radiative forcing implies increased temperature for atmosphere at rest as well as in motion ( as indicated by GCMs ). It’s not so important that the motions be correct for annual mean temperature change.

        For precipitation, however, an atmosphere at rest produces zero precipitation, regardless of the CO2 level (or temperature, or humidity). So it’s critically important that the motions of the atmosphere be correct for valid prediction of precipitation. But, of course, the motions of the atmosphere that produce precipitation are not predictable beyond a week or so.

      • David Wojick

        TE, how about the onset of the next ice age? Or a big change in indirect solar forcing? Or a change in ocean circulation? Or just a small increase in cloudiness? The increased CO2 forcing is minuscule, easily cancelled out.

        Nor was I talking about surface temperatures. Regional and global surface temperatures are completely unknown. See my latest on this:
        http://www.cfact.org/2017/05/18/fake-temperatures/.

      • Jay Turberville

        As a lay person, what has always bothered me about this issue is that I don’t see how scientists can reliably confirm their hypothesis. There is no easy (or hard) verification test that can be set up.

        Let’s imagine that the climate models had correctly forecast the recent “pause.” Could/would/should we then conclude that the models were right and and be confident in future forecasts? I don’t think we should. Not when you consider all of the variables that aren’t included in the models – nevermind the gross simplifications and limited understanding of many of the processes that are included. For all we know, we got a correct forecast for the wrong reason(s).

      • David writes- “AGW is based on the wildly false idea that climate is naturally stable and unchanging.”

        That is a simply wrong.

        AGW is based on the concept that humans releasing mass amounts of CO2 will result is warming. That is simple science. That does not mean negative consequences result.

    • Well put.

    • Dangerous and catastrophic impacts of global warming can be ruled out because the global mean surface temperature averaged 7C warmer than now for the past 650 Ma and life thrived thought most of that period (Scotese, 2016, ‘Some Thoughts on Global Climate Change: The Transition for Icehouse to Hothouse Conditionhttps://www.researchgate.net/publication/275277369_Some_Thoughts_on_Global_Climate_Change_The_Transition_for_Icehouse_to_Hothouse_Conditions . We are currently in about the severest coldhouse phase since complex life began. 3C increase in in GMST would not even get us up to half average GMST for that period.

      Since the risk of catastrophe or danger due to human-caused GHG emissions is effectively ruled out, it is the economic impact of 2C or 3C warming that is relevant for policy analysists and policy makers. The estimate of economic impacts depends on inputs from the GCMs and the damage functions. The damage functions being used are highly uncertain and based on very little data. IPCC AR5 WG3 Chapter 3 mentions ‘Damage Function’ 18 times http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg3/ipcc_wg3_ar5_chapter3.pdf . Some examples:

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

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

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

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

    • The global economic impact of sea level rise is negligible compared with global GDP when adaption costs are included, Anthoff, Nichols and Tol (2010) ‘Economic impact of global sea-level risehttps://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11027-010-9220-7

      In fact, Tol (2013) Figure 3, ‘The economic impact of climate change in the 20th and 21st centuries
      https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-012-0613-3#page-1 (free access here: http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/sites/default/files/climate_change.pdf ), shows the main impact sectors (excluding energy consumption for space-heating and space-cooling attributable to global warming) in total would be net positive for the world to around 4C of global warming.

      The projected energy consumption looks like a ‘hockey stick’. It shows global warming gave positive economic impacts throughout the 20th century, but turned negative when empirical data ended and model projections began. The damage function for space heating and cooling warrants further investigation.

    • How can uncertainty enter into climate policy with Riyadh , Queens, and Tulsa on the same page?

      https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/05/trump-epa-director-welcomes-hand-of.html

  3. The biggest threat to life, liberty, and prosperity is not global climate change, it is the widespread belief in the myth of governments. The myth is that governments solve problems. The reality is that government action is predicated on the use and threatened use of force and violence, and it’s based on disrespect for the freedom of people to choose how they wish to live. Government action is based on the assumption that “the right people” will somehow be selected to control the lives of the rest of us, people who are too stupid collectively to do – or even to know – what is good for them.
    If global climate change can be controlled by soldiers with guns, and the world thereby made better for us all, and if politicians do know what’s best, then pigs will fly and government policy choices should be pursued and implemented.
    Otherwise, government actors should simply get out of the way, should stop interfering with free people using their ingenuity in adapting to changing conditions.

    • paul23

      I have recently subscribed to The Libertarian Party in the UK for that very reason. In the vain hope we can somehow rid ourselves entirely of overreaching government officials, and let them do only what we demand, protect our shores and borders, and maintain internal security.

      Nor make the mistake that the Libertarian Party is anything like Liberals who simply engage in the same old political merry go round. They are entirely different animals.

      If we want to see change, we must be prepared to vote for it.

      • Joe Crawford

        “…and let them do only what we demand…”
        Problem is there are too many idiots out there making demands on their elected officials. Early on, government officials get frustrated with all of the idiotic demands made on them, most of which they can do nothing about. When something comes along that appears easy they jump on it with both feet, happy that they’ve finally found something they can fix.

        Many years ago a little old lady in Boulder, Colorado complained to city officials that an airplane towing a banner over CU stadium during the homecoming football game was interfering with her quality of life. The officials, happy to find something they could fix, passed a law banning airplanes from flying at less that 2,000 ft above the city (i.e., less than about 7,500ft. altitude). Didn’t take long for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to correct them by threatening to close down the local airport. This just go to show how stupid both the electorate and elected officials can be in a representative democracy.

      • Joe Crawford,

        simple solution.

        Cut down the elected officials. If people don’t have someone to complain to, they’ll find their own solution.

        And make no mistake, I often feel sorry for our elected officials, they are the whipping boys of people who can’t be bothered to do anything for themselves.

        You have a problem with your neighbour? Try talking to your neighbour first before immediately threatening them with officialdom, or ignoring them altogether and expecting officialdom to sort the problem for you.

        Political ‘discourse’ is depriving us of our right to to face up to our own petty problems, and providing politicians the ability to interfere in our day to day lives.

        That’s not politics, that’s busybody activity by proxy.

    • +1

      There’s the famous quote: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. I thought of it when I ran across this tweet:

    • Most Oligarchs would just as well do away with most people.
      Government is just a front for these Oligarchs.
      And the Climate Change agenda is most just a way to get nationalist governments to cede power to internationalist monetary forces.

      • nickels,

        nice idea, but oligarchs prosper on the shoulders of the people who work for them. There is not one oligarch in the world who doesn’t recognise that fact. Could you imagine one millionaire, never mind billionaire, succeeding without paying legions of people to do his/her heavy lifting?

        The two coexist.

      • Most of these Oligarchy families are big eugenics freaks (Rockefeller, Gates, etc). Robots will do everything. 1% of the current population would be a sufficient slave force.

    • Canman,

      whilst I largely agree with you, if we stick rigidly to following historical precedents, there can be no political innovation.

    • The myth of governments? Governments are real and observable enough; what is mythical is the idea of a stable society without significant government. I’ve been looking for a good example for years. It seems to be a unicorn. Governments did not invent force, fraud, or violence. The absence of government usually involves more violence rather than less. The reality is that we interact with each other, so our decisions never occur in a vacuum and always have some overlap/interaction term in other people’s lives. How do people resolve fundamental disputes if they cannot turn to some third party with the persuasive power (read: force) to insure compliance?

      If people don’t trust (or fear) the government’s ability to arbitrate and enforce resolution, they take force into their own hands. We specialize in a variety of roles, and if the rights to life and property include the implicit right to use force in defending those rights, then those societies which collectivize and hone that capability will always have a competitive advantage over those which do not.

      Obviously, there are corrupt, authoritarian, and abusive governments which have been the vehicle for history’s worst atrocities. White blood cells also turn cancerous and sometimes kill what they’re supposed to preserve. What’s worse? Cancer or AIDS? I’d rather have neither: the metaphorical equivalent of good, functioning government.

      • Most libertarians are not anarchists but minarchists. They follow the classical liberal position which does indeed include government at all levels. Courts, police, military normally require a government (although alternate models may exist) but the government need not do everything. One should keep in mind that government actions also have unintended consequences. Drug and alcohol prohibition are good examples. The more laws that exist and the more power in the hands of government, the greater the possibilities for those in power and those able to influence those in power to get special favors. Thus attempts to “help the little guy” can often hurt the little guy instead. Think of minimum wage laws and many licensing requirements. For example, hair braiding by African Americans and fingernail shops run by Asian Americans are often put out of business in many cities by efforts to make them “safe” and require all kinds of training and licensing not really needed for such simple procedures.

      • Bill,

        I agree with your points. I’m libertarian in my preferences for what good government looks like, but I wish fewer libertarians subscribed to philosophical fairy tales about how we’d be magically rational, efficient, and free if only we didn’t have government interference.

      • “The absence of government usually involves more violence rather than less.”
        WHAT?!?!?!?!
        Every war ever was started by a government.
        There’s 10 million+ in prison world wide , mostly for victimless crimes. All got there via violence.
        Don’t pay your taxes? Violence.
        Don’t accept a piece of paper from a road pirate and keep driving? Probably death.

        Government is violence without the personal responsibility being laid on the man/woman the perpetrates it.

        The idea that your too incompetent to govern yourself but your only competent enough to appoint someone else to govern you is completely illogical.
        Especially when you consider they aren’t allowed to govern themselves either and must also choose someone else.

  4. I’ve just been reading true believer Thomas L. Friedman’s “Thank You For Being Late” in which he makes it inadvertently clear that climate catastrophism is a mode of virtue signalling.

  5. The precautionary principle as it is formulated in Wikipedia is two sided:

    The precautionary principle (or precautionary approach) to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public, or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus (that the action or policy is not harmful), the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action that may or may not be a risk.

    United Nations seem to have forgotten that the precautionary principle also applies to the ideas pushed by United Nations. United Nations is pushing both a policy and a whole range of actions on the public. A range of actions which is potentially harmful to the public. A range of action which might cause energy-cost-push inflation, general price inflation, and energy poverty. All of which will tend to hit the poor hardest.

    • qbeamus

      The point I was trying to make with the graph is that CO2 acted in a particular way for 65(?)M years, then, according to alarmists, it changed it’s physical nature and decided to do precisely the opposite to what it has been doing, over the last 1.5M years.

      It’s a simple concept, please don’t over analyse it.

      • @HotScot: Wrong address? :)

      • qbeamus,

        Nah. I just find it difficult to follow you guys when you get into scientific or intellectual detail.

        I am highly likely to have misinterpreted your post.

        My apologies, but it’s tough for thicko’s like me to understand what you guys mean sometimes.

        However, I do believe it’s the responsibility of scientists, to make scientific principles accessible to people like me. We do, after all, usually pay your wages or buy your products.

        EAOA of course.

      • @HotScot
        You replied to the wrong comment. Your reply was to:
        qbeamus | May 19, 2017 at 5:39 pm |
        to your comment below. :)

      • Science or Fiction

        I rest my case. I’m to thick to follow a simple conversational thread, far less debate serious scientific issues.

        thanks for the heads up.

        :)

      • @ HotScot. Don´t refer to yourself as thick. Your points are excellent and very well selected.

      • Science or Fiction

        Put a graph down in front of me, then you might reconsider that generous complement. :):)

    • Principle 15 of the Rio declaration states –
      ‘In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be
      widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are
      threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty
      shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.’

      So we know what it is – we are just haggling about the price.

      • That kind of demonstrates my point.
        There is no clear reference to the other side of the precautionary principle in that quote. There is a reference to cost, but there is no warning that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public … the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action that may or may not be a risk.

        United Nations intends to bring about radical changes our society to curb the emission of CO2. Changes that are potentially harmful to the public. The following quotes exemplify the radical and revolutionary thinking that is reigning the extremely powerful bureaucracy in United Nations. All quotes by Christiana Figueres, who was heading the United Nations’s Framework Convention on Climate Change:

        “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the, at least, 150 years, since the industrial revolution,”

        “The tools that you design, the financial structures that you develop, the blends that you are able to put together, all of that, in the next five years, will decide the quality of certainly the energy and certainly the quality of the global economy for the next thirty-five years, and hence the quality of life for everyone else for hundreds of years.”
        The New Yorker – The Climate Summit of Money

        “I am the daughter of a revolutionary and I feel very comfortable with revolutions,”

        To «change the economic development model» has major implications for our society. I can think of a few others who intentionally brought about radical changes to a nation, or developed fancy financial structures. It often turns out bad for the public.

      • I wanted to get the language precise. I have quoted Christiana Figueres myself. Her’s is a failed paradigm

        But all over the world are ordinary people focusing on far more practical options.

        e.g. http://www.soilsforlife.org.au/who.html

      • i believe UNFCCC Rio principle is saying (if) we don’t know what it is, don’t let that hold taking action to take “cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” Implicitly it says it doesn’t matter whether or not we understand it. It has already been edicted under UNFCCC authority, of and by themselves. Questions anyone? What is the definition of environmental degradation; and what is the tradeoff vs. cost effective? So many mysteries.
        Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
        O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
        Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
        Wi’ bickerin brattle! But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,

        In proving foresight may be vain,
        The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
        Gang aft agley,
        An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
        For promis’d joy!

      • If there is a risk of severe or irreversible consequences. You shouldn’t really leave bits out if the objective is to deconstruct language with any objectivity.

        Yes there is – and the question now is what is cost effective.

      • And the other bit was a lack of scientific certainty – or in other words – uncertainty. It implies that we know enough to have informed risk assessment – but not enough to be definitive.

      • Judging by the IPCC report, the risk is anything from a walk in the park to catastrophe:
        “The equilibrium climate sensitivity quantifies the response of the climate system to constant radiative forcing on multi-century time scales. It is defined as the change in global mean surface temperature at equilibrium that is caused by a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C (high confidence), extremely unlikely less than 1°C (high confidence), and very unlikely greater than 6°C (medium confidence)( Note 16 ).”

        Note 16 “No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given because of a lack of agreement on values across assessed lines of evidence and studies.”
IPCC; WGI ; AR5; Summary for policymakers; Page 16

        It seems as if we will be closer to a walk in the part than a catastrophe. Is it reasonable to risk energy-cost-push inflation, general price inflation, and energy poverty to avoid a walk in the park?

        United Nations propounds radical changes to our society. Changes that will have unintended consequences. Is it worth the risk?

  6. Please correct me if I’m wrong (someone), but my understanding is that there are no credible, empirical studies over the last 40 years which demonstrate that CO2 caused global temperature rise.

    By any reasonable measure, global political decisions affecting every person on the planet, to the extent now being undertaken thanks to the Paris accord, surely needs lots of concrete evidence. There should be hundreds of these studies demonstrating the relationship, if not thousands over 40 years, but I believe there are none.

    Meanwhile, and I again stand to be corrected, the only observable effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 is that the planet has greened by 14% according to NASA, supported by at least one other study into high resolution Google Earth images (accurate down to about one square metre) which were painstakingly examined by a huge number of scientists who, I believe, almost physically counted shrubs.

    Sea level is continuing to rise at about 3mm a year(?) I believe, depending on where one is on the planet and what geological activity is/has taken place, as JC has pointed out before. So nothing extraordinary there.

    Hurricanes are declining and the effects of them in terms of deaths has dropped dramatically over the last 40 years. Which to my simple mind seems an obvious positive consequence of their being less cold air to meet warm air creating conditions that encourage hurricanes. Over simplistic, I know.

    And we know that data from ground temperature records extending back over a hundred years are notoriously unreliable. Primitive equipment measuring data that was likely recorded by the tea boy and noted to the nearest degree Centigrade/Fahrenheit when our contemporary inclination is to measure temperatures to within fractions of a degree. Stephenson screens painted, if they are maintained at all, with different kinds of white paint, not to mention the more recent development of urban heat islands.

    Water temperatures taken by the cabin boy chucking a bucket overboard or ship inlets passing water past engines before someone might accurately record the result, assuming its not the ever present cabin boy.

    Data manipulation/distortion/management being accepted as comparable when the methods by which they are compiled are likely down to barely comparable scientific standards. I cant’ claim to be knowledgeable on this at all, I would hope all data conforms to the same strict rules and is directly comparable, but somehow I doubt it.

    And again, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand this graph http://www.biocab.org/Geological_Timescale.jpg is a universally accepted, accurate description of the relationship between atmospheric CO2 and global temperatures. In which case, what happened to CO2 over the last million years or so? Did it somehow change its physical properties to enable it to influence global temperatures, because it sure didn’t before then?

    The only experience I can draw on to assess the truth or otherwise of the accusation of AGW is criminal law. Now, being that we’re not yet at the point of Tom Cruises’ Minority Report, the predictions of an offender, re-offending can only be assessed by past behaviour and in even the most sophisticated of legal systems, that is little more than a guess, often driven by the political imperative to keep people out of prison.

    With the current observable evidence available, and reflecting on CO2’s past history, and the, frankly, dodgy data it’s based upon, The case for AGW would, I’m certain, not even reach the steps of a court, far less be convicted of heinous crimes against humanity, and even less likely to be locked up to protect humanity from recidivism.

    The uncertainty monster is indeed, a matter of considerable concern for all of us. Sophisticated western standards of criminal justice requires a standard of proving ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ the guilt of the accused.

    Sadly for science, to my mind, AGW alarmists fall well short of this vital concept and therefore discredits all science, risking the re-emergence of religion as scientific direction. Indeed our current Pope is elbow deep in claiming the science to be settled himself, yet will not face up to the fact his own religious beliefs don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.

    • HotScot, I believe its pretty incontrovertible that CO2 causes warming. The question is how much.

      • David Wojick

        No, a CO2 increase will cause warming if nothing else happens. It is an abstraction, like the rate of fall in a vacuum. But in real cases there need be no warming at all, in fact there can be extreme cooling as CO2 increases. Just as rate of fall can be negative for a feather on a windy day.

      • In that graph, what really jumps out at me is the strong correlation between CO2 and temperature–a strong negative correlation. Apparently, the greenhouse effect is very weak, and is usually more than drowned out by other factors that tend to drive temperature in the opposite direction. Apparently the story is different over the last 400ky or so, but I still think some explanation for why that is–and why earlier conditions won’t reassert themselves–is necessary.

        For that matter, even within that 400ky window, a foundational assumption of climate models appears to be wrong. The assumption is that CO2 is an independent variable that drives temperature, rather than the other way around. But CO2 appears to move first, with temperature following. (http://news.ku.dk/all_news/2012/2012.7/rise_in_temperatures_and_co2/) This has caused some panicked efforts to explain this data away, none of which I found terribly convincing, though its been several years since I tried to study the issue carefully.

      • dpy6629,

        prove it, in the real world.

        Whilst test tube studies in a sterile environment demonstrates CO2 causes warming, there is not one single, credible study that proves it does in the wild.

        Like I said, to determine the future direction of mankind, deviating from our current norm, one should provide incontrovertible evidence it is necessary.

        There is not one single credible study that proves (theorises or otherwise) CO2 causes global warming in the wild. Not one. It’s all test tube theory that has fallen flat on it’s face in light of unpredicted global greening.

        Never mind anything else, barely any, if any at all, climate alarmist’s predicted a positive outcome of increased atmospheric CO2, yet it is the only observable outcome we have seen, in the last half century. And the outcomes are the basis of the success of a scientific theory, not its predicted outcomes, as many would have you believe.

        Following all the predictions of doom, which were worrying, I must admit, the worst outcome is zero anthropogenic effect on the planet by our CO2 emissions. The best is that we’re growing stuff, whilst doing nothing abnormal.

        Abnormal is building whacko windmills that contribute nothing other than raising tax bills. Feel good factor, that’s all they are.

        Sure, we need to clean up particulate emissions, but in light of this information, CO2 isn’t the problem you are conditioned to believe it is.

      • CO2 increase will cause warming if nothing else happens.

        The radiative effect of increased CO2 implies surplus for nearly all the earth.
        Something else will happen, but it has to be more than just the one location being more like a different location in order to counter the RF of increased CO2.

      • “Whilst test tube studies in a sterile environment demonstrates CO2 causes warming, there is not one single, credible study that proves it does in the wild.”

        I don’t know what it is, that a transfer from a lab to the atmosphere does to the CO2? What is known about the CO2 molecule, how and why it absorbs IR and emits it doesn’t change. We could argue that more CO2 increases vertical circulation of air columns moving more warmth to the TOA and partially cooling in the face of warming. But CO2’s properties will not change.

      • First Direct Observation of Carbon Dioxide’s Increasing Greenhouse Effect at the Earth’s Surface
        http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2015/02/25/co2-greenhouse-effect-increase/

      • Ragnar

        “I don’t know what it is, that a transfer from a lab to the atmosphere does to the CO2?”

        You have illustrated one of my earlier points very concisely.

        “And again, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand this graph http://www.biocab.org/Geological_Timescale.jpg is a universally accepted, accurate description of the relationship between atmospheric CO2 and global temperatures. In which case, what happened to CO2 over the last million years or so? Did it somehow change its physical properties to enable it to influence global temperatures, because it sure didn’t before then?”

        It would seem either scientists seriously misunderstand the physical properties of CO2; the physical properties of CO2 have changed in the last million years or so; or there is something else either suppressing CO2’s inclination to cause warming, or something else altogether is happening that science can’t explain or haven’t discovered yet.

        Personally, I would suggest the latter two possibilities that are most likely.

        Under almost any other scientific circumstance other than perhaps micro biology, 400ppm of any non, self replicating, inert material, would be written off as statistically inconsequential.

      • rovingbroker

        “Like warming, observed greening demonstrates correlation, not causation.”

        That is simply wrong. NASA’s study of their own satellite data states, explicitly, that the planet has greened by 14% over the last 30 years. 70% of that greening is a direct consequence of increased atmospheric CO2, 9% net of any human influence. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth

        That’s not correlation.

      • Ragnaar,

        I’m glad you brought that single piece of fake evidence up.

        The single element of that study which entirely discredits it, is that “The authors started in the 2000 La Nina, and ended at the 2010 El Nino – when troposphere temperatures were half a degree warmer.”

        Comprehensively illustrated here: http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/why-new-paper-does-not-provide-evidence.html

      • HotScot wrote, “That is simply wrong. NASA’s study of their own satellite data states, explicitly, that the planet has greened by 14% over the last 30 years. 70% of that greening is a direct consequence of increased atmospheric CO2, 9% net of any human influence.”

        A scientific control is an experiment or observation designed to minimize the effects of variables other than the independent variable. This increases the reliability of the results, often through a comparison between control measurements and the other measurements. Scientific controls are a part of the scientific method.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_control

        Factorial simulations with multiple global ecosystem models suggest that CO2 fertilization effects explain 70% of the observed greening trend, followed by nitrogen deposition (9%), climate change (8%) and land cover change (LCC) (4%).
        http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n8/full/nclimate3004.html

        This was not a controlled experiment but a series of observations applied to “multiple global ecosystem models.” The cause may be as claimed by NASA but the claim is no stronger than the one that attributes “global warming” to increased atmospheric CO2 concentration.

        Goose and Gander.

      • HotScot:
        In your 4 billion year plot, a number have things have changed. Continents drifted. When did we get plants on land? 450 million years ago I think. The plants used the CO2, died and turned into oil. 4 billion years ago, cavemen physicists figured out there was CO2 and its properties have not yet changed.
        Call me gullible, I am going with Lawrence Berkeley on, The Observational determination of surface radiative forcing by CO2 from 2000 to 2010 paper. This is at your link:
        “Rather, the entire 33K greenhouse effect is entirely explained by the Maxwell/Carnot/Clausius atmospheric mass/gravity/pressure theory”
        Inert material? No, it’s the basis of life.

    • HotScot wrote, “Meanwhile, and I again stand to be corrected, the only observable effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 is that the planet has greened by 14% … ”
      Like warming, observed greening demonstrates correlation, not causation.

    • Please correct me if I’m wrong (someone), but my understanding is that there are no credible, empirical studies over the last 40 years which demonstrate that CO2 caused global temperature rise.

      Well, it’s not a controlled experiment, right?
      Will there ever be such clear and confirming evidence?
      I don’t think so.

      On the other hand, the calculable effect of increased CO2 for just about every location on earth is to run a surplus of energy which implies an increase in temperature.

      • Turbulent Eddie

        Nor is estimation of global greening a controlled experiment. It’s an observational fact, as factual as it can be.

        Controlled experiments are just that, perhaps at best, educational guesses. They must be proven in the real world. We would have conquered space, and be living on the sea bed were controlled experiments believable. When real life observations, and experience applied, controlled experiments were found impossible, or Jules Verne and Gene Roddenberry would be in the annals of history as pioneering scientists instead of authors of fiction.

        Observations are not calculations on the back of a beer mat, nor that transferred to a computer to impart credibility. They are factual records of current, or past events.

        “Calculable effects” are just that, again, educated guesses by science fiction writers. So far, from the experience of the last observable 40 years, they remain embedded in the realm of science fiction.

        Science fact, on the other hand, has proven the world is greening by 14% in the last 30 years. Unprecedented is merely one term that can be genuinely applied to that.

        What meaningful term can be applied to the 40 years of failed predictions so far issued by alarmists?

        BS perhaps?

    • https://scied.ucar.edu/carbon-dioxide-absorbs-and-re-emits-infrared-radiation
      What about water vapor? What does it do?
      The insulation in your attack does the same thing as the animation. It absorbs and then re-emits in a random direction AFAIK.

    • The assumption that global average temperature is the outcome of a stochastic process leads to a satisfactory explanation of the observations, viz.: that observed variations are red noise fluctuations. There is no need for any further explanation. Uncertainty as in “Uncertainty Monster” is what we get when we seek deterministic solutions to statistical problems. Climate models are deterministic.

      http://www.lavoisier.com.au/articles/climate-policy/science-and-policy/john-reid-2017-1.php

      The last time the climate changed significantly was 11,000 years ago during Termination I. There is no evidence that human production of CO2 has any effect on climate. It comprises only one percent of the CO2 in the ocean atmosphere system.

  7. I prefer “a matter of possibilities“. As you say, “probabilities” suggests a known probability distribution, such as with lotto numbers.

    • By the same token, insurance is not for unpredictable events. It is for large classes of predictable events where who it will happen to is unpredictable. House fires, car crashes, illnesses, etc. Insurance can only be priced when the frequency of occurrence is relatively predictable.

      • That is a very important point that I didn´t realize before now.
        Thanks for making that so clear. :)

      • Indeed. Force Majuere clauses typically invalidate policies or contracts for those events which are unpredictable, if they are directly or indirectly the main cause of damage. Sample Force Majeure clause:

        1.1.1 act of God (such as, but not limited to, fires, explosions, earthquakes, drought, tidal waves and floods);
        1.1.2 war, hostilities (whether war be declared or not), invasion, act of foreign enemies, mobilisation, requisition, or embargo;
        1.1.3 rebellion, revolution, insurrection, or military or usurped power, or civil war;
        1.1.4 contamination by radio-activity from any nuclear fuel, or from any nuclear waste from the combustion of nuclear fuel, radio-active toxic explosive, or other hazardous properties of any explosive nuclear assembly or nuclear component of such assembly;
        1.1.5 riot, commotion, strikes, go slows, lock outs or disorder, unless solely restricted to employees of the Supplier or of his Subcontractors; or
        1.1.6 acts or threats of terrorism.

      • “Insurance can only be priced when the frequency of occurrence is relatively predictable.”

        Indeed.
        One rarely takes out insurance against an event when the cost of the insurance is greater than maximum loss – ie, I won’t pay $10k p.a. for insurance that pays out $5k for total loss, especially when I perceive the risk of total loss over one year is < 0.5.
        I certainly don't take out insurance when I have no idea of what the loss may be, what the risk of loss is and most especially when the premium is not stated up-front and once taken out, the policy is impossible to cancel – ever.

        The precautionary principle is the wrong one for climate change because it is designed for low uncertainties, not high uncertainties. For example, we know from direct observation that a particular waste product is damaging the environment – we see the destruction, it is incontrovertable. Just because we don't know exactly how toxic this waste product is, doesn't mean we shouldn't regulate its release into the environment. With CO2 (AGW), we are still struggling to see the damage rise above the noise, so the "damage" is hardly "incontrovertable" at this point – there is even some evidence anthropogenic CO2 may be beneficial to this point and even for some decades to come! Further, even if we assume that damage will eventuate, we are highly uncertain how much damage that may be. Further, even if we assume the damage will be great, we are uncertain that the mitigation will help at this point, and even if it does, we don't know how much is required to "avert disaster". Further, even if we assume that we do know these things, we are unsure of the other consequences of that mitigation – will it do more damage in other areas than it mitigates in AGW prevention? It therefore seems highly risky to persue this path – the potential consequences of acting prematurely seem to outweigh the the risks of all but the most extreme scenarios, and the most extreme scenarios appear to be reduced in likelyhood with every refinement of the science. And yet we are still going down this path – is this logical?

      • Kneel 63, in short, there is no rational basis for emissions-reduction programmes; something which I have long argued. Whatever it’s about, it’s not about climate. Power and ideology perhaps.

  8. Quite so. The probabilities assigned from ignorance are not the real probabilities of an outcome happening. And more absurd is forgetting the uncertainty (and the quite possible unintended consequences) of the result of the proposed solution, which is no less a “systemic risk” than the alleged problem.

    You don’t know the cost of “doing nothing”. It could be zero cost, even a net benefit. You don’t know the cost of the fancy solution, but you can bet it is between huge and disastrous.

    The precautionary principle should work both ways. If a solution to an uncertain problem has a suspected risk of causing more harm than good, in the absence of scientific consensus (that the solution is not harmful), the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking that solution.

  9. The reliance on models to make decisions about future actions is fraught with false steps. For instance, Great Lakes ore carriers rely upon water levels to load their ships. Higher water levels mean more tonnes of ore can be carried per trip, and, lower water levels mean more round trips are needed to transport the same tonnage.

    The Army Corps of Engineers, along with the Detroit District Office collection of water level gage inventory provides shippers a forward view of Great Lakes water levels. Using data collected from previous years as well as estimates of snow fall, ice coverage and regional precipitation these values are plugged into models that inform the prediction. The forecast for Great Lakes water levels based upon those models is then made before the next shipping season and ore shipping companies plug those numbers into their costs of shipping. Six inches higher or lower water levels can make for profit or loss for the shipping season. A foot error either way can be… devastating.

    Last year 2016, the Great Lakes water levels were substantially above chart datum. This winter was predicted to be relatively mild for the Great Lakes region and so it was. In a warmer climate, ice cover was limited, hence, in the models, the Great Lakes water levels were forecasted for this shipping season to be lower than 2016, yet still above chart datum.

    Over these last two weeks in May, while I have been out of the country and not watching closely, surprise, the forecasts have changed substantially. Namely, the forecast for 2017 is now similar to water levels of 2016. Apparently, the pre-season model had weighted ice cover much more than was warranted by a large margin. Significantly increased regional precipitation accounted for maintaining water levels as well as cooler regional weather.

    If I recall correctly, regional precipitation predictions in the current climate models is an achilles heel.

    So the pre-season model error for the ore shipping companies is like the Monopoly “Bank Error in Your Favor” card to which they will certainly adjust. I am wondering if the CO2 Greening of mother earth is another form of a Bank Error in global well-being all in our favor.

    The uncertainty we observe in the climate for earth makes a mockery of model predictions, again.

    • Until a couple of years ago, the declining water levels in the Great Lakes were being used as evidence for the certainty of AGW. That worked until the water levels were no longer dropping. They are now above the long term average going back to 1918. For some reason the newspapers no longer have articles about global warming dropping the Great Lakes water levels.

      A colleague of mine, a veteran of the Great Lakes Shorelands Program since the 1940s, explained to this brand new employee in 1972 that the water levels in the Great Lakes had a cyclical nature to them. A few years later, in 1986, I was involved in the appropriation of $6 million for mitigation of the “record high” water levels for Lake Michigan. After that the levels receded.

      For the time being, when there is doubt, I will be going with natural variability over any other cause. While I have seen many models and forecasts from the climate community proven wrong, so far, my co-worker from over 40 years ago has been spot on. Funny how experience works that way.

    • From last year …
      Lake Michigan water levels see ‘historic’ rise
      Lake Michigan water levels have risen more than four feet since January 2013, an unprecedented increase since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began keeping records in 1918, says Thomas O’Bryan, area engineer for the  US Army Corps of Engineers’ Lake Michigan office.
      http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/news/

      Lake Michigan water levels are quite reliably variable. Still, people claim to be astonished when their beaches wash away or they need to dredge the marina. I know one home owner who built a very expensive sea wall when the lake was high but now has more than one hundred feet of beach in front of it.

  10. Even the only international accepted standard on uncertainty: Guide to expression of uncertainty in measurement messes up on uncertainty. It correctly distinguish uncertainty derived from a series of measurements for which a probability distribution can be established (Type A) from uncertainty established by other means (Type B):

    “2.3.2 Type A evaluation (of uncertainty)
    method of evaluation of uncertainty by the statistical analysis of series of observations”

    “2.3.3 Type B evaluation (of uncertainty)
    method of evaluation of uncertainty by means other than the statistical analysis of series of observations ”

    But the standard fails to highlight that there is a fundamental difference between measurement and belief:

    “Thus a Type A standard uncertainty is obtained from a probability density function (C.2.5) derived from an observed frequency distribution (C.2.18), while a Type B standard uncertainty is obtained from an assumed probability density function based on the degree of belief that an event will occur [often called subjective probability (C.2.1)]. Both approaches employ recognized interpretations of probability.”

    Unbelievable

    “3.3.4 The purpose of the Type A and Type B classification is to indicate the two different ways of evaluating uncertainty components and is for convenience of discussion only; the classification is not meant to indicate that there is any difference in the nature of the components resulting from the two types of evaluation. Both types of evaluation are based on probability distributions (C.2.3), and the uncertainty components resulting from either type are quantified by variances or standard deviations.”

    I´m not an expert within my field because of what I believe, but because of my ability to provide traceable data and logically valid statements about how things work.

  11. Very good post Judith. The bottom line truth you point our for me is that climate change is a chronic condition that is always happening. Coping and flourishing is not a binary choice of “doing something” vs. “denying the science.” What has really happened is that there is a vast ideological echo machine out there spearheaded by “fake news” from Green NGO’s constantly trying to create a narrative that disaster is just around the corner. Almost all these scare stories turn out to be false of exaggerated.

    In practical terms, sharp curtailment of emissions is simply not possible in a complex political world with hundreds of countries and widespread deep poverty. Without creative technical solutions for energy generation, the outcome here is already pretty certain. So Bill Gates has the right idea.

    In this context, the consensus enforcement “team” looks divorced from reality. They stupidly think that if they can discredit skeptics, effective action will follow. This shows a deep immaturity and lack of understanding of human circumstances and motivations.

    • > Unbelievable.

      Read their title again, Fiction. There’s the word “measurement” in it. Mr. T escapes any kind of measurement.

      Contrarian posts need no metrology. Just wave your arm and say that the climate is always changing. Then shrug.

      Here’s Mr. T in action: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

  12. “The manufactured ‘fat tail’ comes from confusing statistical uncertainty (with a possible infinite fat tail) with scenario uncertainty, which is limited on the upper end by articulation of a plausible worst case scenario”

    The worst case scenario is the collapse of civilization and the complete or near-complete extinction of the human race, which could come about through either nuclear war being triggered over disputes about climate impacts, or natural phenomenon such as ocean hypoxia leading to a toxic atmosphere, for example. If you want to call that a “limit”, that is technically correct. But it’s ice cold comfort.

  13. Steven Mosher

    “Simply put, the current focus on CO2 emissions reductions risks having a massively expensive global solution that is more damaging to societies than the problem of climate change.”

    Simply put. You offer no evidence that it is more damaging. You refuse to mention any uncertainty when comes to youanalysis.

    • She said “it risks having” which not an assertion that it is definitely so. The problem for you Steven is that you want Judith to “call out people who make wrong statements.” It’s a silly standard and a hypocritical one. What evidence do you have to the contrary?

    • SM

      Simply put. You offer no evidence that [GW will be net] damaging.

      You refuse to provide any evidence that negative impacts will exceed positive impacts of global of global warming. You refuse to mention any uncertainty when comes to your [beliefs].

    • Odd really if there is a ‘possibility’ of catastrophic outcomes to not consider ways of reducing risk.

    • The usual smart-ass, snide remark from guess who.

      Of course the possibilities are considered and analyzsed. it;’s been going on for many decades. It’s what the economic analyses of cost and benefits of mitigation are all about. And of Social Cost of Carbon.

      Strange you think you are so smart and don’t even know that. However, you have no expertise in policy analysis, so it’s not surprising.

      • It seems an unremarable comment. I was of course quoting Judith on the possibility.

        ‘We can argue until the cows come home about how likely catastrophic risks are, but there remains the possibility of catastrophic risks — I have argued that the uncertainty is too great to assign a probability to this; possibility is the appropriate likelihood.’ A low probability high consequence event is high risk. In an industrial environment you’d want to cost-effectively mitigate it.

        “A policy is a statement of intent, and is implemented as a procedure or protocol.” Oh right. I have a lot of policy experience.”

    • Steven Mosher: You offer no evidence that it is more damaging.

      There you go again, refusing to “engage quantitatively” (as Jim D put it.) Evidence for the benefits of the combination of warming and increased CO2 since the 1880s has been presented in peer-reviewed research and summarized here. Evidence for the “risk” of damage that might result from a “massively expensive global solution” has also been presented, though not today. Californians are now experimenting with a “massively expensive” local project that could do more harm to their economy than any benefit to them or the world at large.

      • Climate change has winners and losers, but “social cost skeptics” can only count the benefits to the social cost if they plan to tax the winners to pay the losers, which I expect either they don’t or they haven’t thought it through properly. The winners and losers are whole different groups of people so it is not a wash when both happen. Some whole countries will be winners while others will be losers. It is an international problem to solve.

      • Climate change has winners and losers

        Which physical principle is this?

      • Jim D:
        Climate change has winners and losers. Now figure attribution. Now use attribution to see how much the winners have taken from the losers but is that correct?

        I use no fossil fuel as I am off the grid and have a battery operated car. My earth friendly organic farm land worked with only teams of horses is worth more as rainfall has improved and the growing season is longer. I won. What did I take from the losers?

        I use a lot of fossil fuels. My farm land now has permanent drought. I lost. From who does my retribution come from as I was part of the problem?

      • TE, if you are disputing that there are winners and losers, say why. As far as I know everyone would agree with this, so your comment is peculiar.

      • Ragnaar, this is why a carbon tax based on cost, excluding benefit, makes sense. If you don’t emit, you don’t pay. If you do emit, you may be a winner or a loser, but that can’t be judged in advance, so you pay, and it is not much per person. The funds go towards mitigation, adaptation and damage repairs, unless a rebate approach is taken which net rewards low emitters.

      • Jim D:
        You got me there.

  14. John Carpenter

    “The question is rather how certain we are (or can be) that nothing bad will happen.”

    Presumably due to dumping CO2 into the atmosphere.

    It’s not the right question to ask. We know the answer to that question in the absence of elevated CO2 in the atmosphere already. Bad things (extreme weather events) happen. We are still not prepared today to handle the extreme weather of yesterday. The question is not how certain nothing bad will happen, but how certain are we bad things will become worse and if worse, how much worse?

    And don’t forget to ask what will get better.

    Our bed has been made. Nothing is permanent.

  15. “climate change is best understood as a persistent condition”

    It is only the lifeless planets that do not have this “persistent condition”.
    I should pay a tax to treat this condition?
    Is Climate Science having consensual relations with Big Pharma?

  16. Uncertainty unnoticed pulls in a context, as to what sort of doubts are in question.

    You can do a probability calculation only once you know the doubts you’re dealing with.

    You know it’s a goldfinch by its markings; then you might do probability of observed markings being obscured or changed by the optics.

    Or it might be a stuffed goldfinch; then you do probability on pranksters and eccentric old ladies living nearby.

    Climate science doesn’t know what sorts of doubts ought to be handled, as to what systems might or might not come into play, or even whether the ones considered are considered correctly.

  17. Nice current overview. Good to see your uncertainty monster/wicked problem ideas gaining some public traction.
    Ironically, there are some reasonably certain things about CAGW.
    1. Many warmunist careers have been made by creating false alarms, and that won’t change until funding is cut off. Watermelons increasingly exposing the inside color, as during the recent science and climate marches.
    2. None of the alarming predictions have come true, or are likely to ever. Children still know what snow is. West Side parkway is not under water. Tuvalu has not disappeared. There are no climate refugees. Polar bears are thriving. Models now falsified several ways.
    3. China and India won’t play along beyond lip service, even if California and the UK chose to commit economic suicide as mitigation role models.

    • Curious George

      Even modelers don’t take their task seriously. Models overestimate the energy transfer by evaporation from tropical seas by 2.5%. It is difficult to estimate a final impact of this discrepancy, so I’ll call it an uncertainty, not an error. As the CAGW argument is based on thermal radiation, the temperature must be measured as an absolute temperature (in degrees Kelvin). The average Earth surface temperature is close to 300 K, so a 2.5% uncertainty is 7.5 K, same as 7.5 C, or 13 F. And IPCC worries about a 2 C temperature rise.

  18. United Nations climate panel IPCC founded a perversion of science in the document: Guidance Note for Lead Authors of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on Consistent Treatment of Uncertainties

    That is the guidance that attempts to standardize the expression of subjective levels of confidence:

    Maybe I should ask the Secretary General of United Nations to hand over to me a lead author of the IPCC report so that I can perform some objective testing on the author´s subjective levels of confidence?

  19. Of course we must pay attention to the uncertainty in climate science:
    – Uncertainties in the estimation of global temperatures are extremely important. It is not the same to get +0.14 +/- 0.01 C/decade than to get + 0.14 +/- 0.41 C/decade. The same applies to the uncertainty estimation of the rest of climatic parameters (global sea level, concentrations of greenhouse gases, etc.).
    – The LOSU (level of scientific understanding) attached to different radiative forcings makes them impossible to be added statistically. As those probability density functions (pdfs) of the radiative forcings are not well defined: if you apply statistical techniques to these pdfs, you are just inventing the numbers instead of computing them.
    – JC: “Lets say that we actually believe the climate model predictions”: WRONG!. Climate models like CMIP5 provide only PROJECTIONS, not PREDICTIONS. Roughly speaking, a model has predictive capacity if it is related to reality (to the actual world) and if statistics are achieved properly; BUT in these climate change projections, nothing goes appropriately.
    More actual climate science at: drive.google.com/file/d/0B4r_7eooq1u2ZlIwZFcxQ2ZWaHc

  20. To me recent history provides a guide. The uncertainty monster over the possible range of climate outcomes is not too dissimilar to the geo-political situation in the Mideast at the start of this century.
    Recall the second Bush administration and their insistence on “weapons of mass destruction” and the need to remove Saddam Hussain. The result would be a better, safer world. Well, 15 years after the fact it’s pretty safe to say those projections of certainty turned out to be false. The cost of removing the problem and the resultant chaos is a concrete example of how a motivated cabal of self-claimed experts were flat out wrong. Skeptical voices were hushed or worse had their careers halted. The press was co-opted into presenting the required narrative.

    Not really too different from the current debate on climate. There is an establishment narrative and in every case the public is told about the dangers of future climate change. Again and again the public is hectored to act now and save itself before it is too late. But never are the costs of making this choice presented – is it really a good idea to turn food into fuel, convert rainforest into palm oil plantations, adding additional energy taxes on the poor, using public wealth in the form of massive subsidies for preferred energy companies. Will the world really be worse if temperatures rises 1 degree. Do we even know how to measure global temperature and to what accuracy and precision.

    Until I see a fair, disinterested analysis of all the pros and cons of future climate effects, I see the only reasonable choice of action is to only use known solutions to solve precisely defined problems. Recent history shows unquestioned following of self-appointed experts can make a bad situation worse.

    • Curious George

      You should appreciate that the Greens do their best to stop the planet from greening.

    • Curious George

      Regarding the Iraq war, we are paying the price of action (and a following inaction). In Libya and Syria we are paying the price of inaction. You are right on the spot regarding the pros and cons of future climate effects: Would a warmer world be better or worse than a colder world? Was the Ice Age really the climatic optimum?

    • I agree with this comparison, with the caveat that the certainty of calamity rises to the top (and is eventually trumpeted by authority) largely via emergent social process (and the bigger / more global the issue, the more this is so).

    • So we agree it’s uncertain – and insist it be described – fairly and with some precision certainty as the reasonable thing to do. Otherwise we risk making a mistake..

  21. Analyse this: (Lorenz 1963, Deterministic nonperiodic flow)

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0469(1963)020%3C0130:DNF%3E2.0.CO;2

    It’s not just probability as a simple number or fraction. It’s a probabilistic landscape where you need to know where the attractors are. Like glacial and interglacial. On a smaller scale, different regimes of ENSO or AMOC. Or any other of the oceanic oscillatory systems described by Wyatt and Curry:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00382-013-1950-2

  22. Our knowledge concerning the sun’s impact on climate probably is like believing we know what a person is thinking by looking at their skin color.

  23. “However, mathematically speaking, ‘probability’ already implies a great deal of certainty ”

    Yes, I appreciate this sentence.
    -If we had a perfect climate model (we don’t)
    -If we have perfect numerical solutions (we don’t)
    -If we had perfect measures of the uncertainty in tuning parameters and substantive parameters of our model in the form of probability distributions.

    We could then imagine running a massive monte-carlo simulation to obtain an aposteriori probability distribution of possible climate states. This would require a massive number of simulations (probably unattainable) that would well represent the multidimensional input parameter uncertaintly.

    WE CAN’T EVEN SOLVE for ONE of these Monte Carlo points because numerical error is 100% within a few months of the simulation start.

    Insanity.

    • Did someone mention sensitivity to initial condition and structural instability?

      The thick black line is mine – I ran a massively parallel computer model with 3 calculators and the TV remote.

      • Such instability basically makes the problem intractable in several ways. Firstly, it makes the solution of even a single instance numerically impossible.
        Secondly, the resulting distribution likely has large variance and therefore requires a very large number of solutions to resolve (each solution is a massively parallel computation).

  24. There is a much more profound limitation on the predictive power of “climate science” than sheer statistical uncertainty of stochastic variations. That limitation lies in the dismal inability to specify physically the dynamics of in situ processes relevant to climate change.

  25. The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) defined abrupt climate change as a new climate paradigm as long ago as 2002. A paradigm in the scientific sense is a theory that explains observations. A new science paradigm is one that better explains data – in this case climate data – than the old theory. The new theory says that climate change occurs as discrete jumps in the system. Climate is more like a kaleidoscope – shake it up and a new pattern emerges – than a control knob with a linear gain.

    I have posted the graph below maybe a 1000 times it seems. It is based on analysis of red sediment in a South American lake. The graph comes from a cute little paper by Anastasios Tsonis on the demise of the Minoan civilisation. Higher red intensity is caused by more rainfall in El Niño/positive PDO states.

    The sediment record has continuous high resolution coverage over 12,000 years. It shows periods of high and low ENSO activity alternating with a period of about 2,000 years. There was a shift from La Niña dominance to El Niño dominance some 5,000 years ago that was a chaotic bifurcation associated with the drying of the Sahel. There is a period around 3,500 years ago of high ENSO activity associated with the demise of the Minoan civilisation. It shows ENSO variability considerably in excess of that seen in the modern period. Red intensity was over 200 in Minoan times – for comparison red intensity in the 1997/98 El Niño was 99.

    It shows the patterns of persistence and shifts – known as Hurst phenomena – seen in Nile River flow over more than a millennia. Nile River flows reflect the state of both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Ocean states shift rapidly between regimes as tremendous energies cascade through powerful sub-systems – a concise description of the stadium wave. In chaotic systems like climate – control variables change slowly until the system shifts and then settles into a new state. Changes in control variables may be too small to detect but result in a large change at a rate determined by internal mechanisms in the global spanning system.

    One control variable is the surface pressure in polar regions. High pressure pushes storm fronts into lower latitudes spinning up sub-polar gryes in all the oceans, triggering increased upwelling in the north and south Pacific and modulating north Atlantic conditions. Surface pressure changes are caused in part by solar UV/ozone interactions in the stratosphere – suggesting that the control variable in this is solar activity – providing an explanation for quasi-periodicity over decades to many millennia. The polar annular mode modulation of wind and ocean circulation is illustrated below.

    There are some things that are certain. We are changing the atmosphere of the Earth with implications for global energy dynamics, terrestrial hydrology and marine chemistry. There is an indeterminate risk of large or small – and utterly unpredictable – changes to Earth systems. Transitions between states will be fast and may be extreme. Whether natural or anthropogenic – 4 climate shifts this century are odds-on. Addressing carbon emission risks as best we can – has been an utter failure. The situation can only get worse if as I suspect the next climate shift – due in a 2018-2028 window – is to yet cooler conditions.

    https://watertechbyrie.com/2017/01/12/an-earnest-discovery-of-climate-causality/

    Gwyn Prins & Steve Rayner discussed the inevitable failure of Kyoto – and suggested oblique approaches with multiple benieits.

    The challenge of reconfiguring the interactions of these systems is difficult
    enough. To do it in time to meet the FCCC objective of avoiding dangerous
    interference with the climate is tremendous. The claim that it can be
    achieved in a couple of decades, through the top-down creation of an
    artificial global market in greenhouse gases seems extraordinary. Bear in
    mind that, as we observed at the outset, since the agreement of the FCCC
    at Rio, global carbon emissions have continued to rise inexorably, while
    national emissions targets have been repeatedly watered down, both
    directly and through “offset” credits (many of a dubious nature).
    In the case of climate change this would mean adopting a wide variety of
    climate policies—silver buckshot—and non-climate policies with climate
    effects. Each would have the potential to tackle some part of the overall
    problem, although it would not be clear which would be the most
    successful, let alone the most economically efficient.53 52 Anthropologists are especially tuned to the dangers that can come from attempts to overdetermine fragile data. See, J. Vansina, in “The Power of Systematic Doubt in Historical Enquiry”, History in Africa, 1 (1974) 139-72.
    53 Ibid. 27

    This approach is based on an analogy with market forces. It is well known
    that the chance of markets working is increased by chopping up the problem
    because there needs to be some proximity between cost and benefit for
    markets to be energised. One reason why the global trading schemes are
    unattractive is because the costs are borne now and the benefits are in an
    indeterminate future. Chopped into parts, cost and benefit are brought into
    closer proximity, allowing the hidden hand of the market to emerge through
    real price signal fluctuations.

    Rather than putting all our eggs into one policy basket’ made in Kyoto, a
    more viable climate regime would consist of a series of policies intended to
    build resilience against climate turbulence into all the day-to-day
    dimensions of society. These need not be primarily, or even solely, directed
    at climate stabilisation. Instead they would be intended to achieve that goal
    through the accumulation of contingent benefits. They would be aimed to
    work in the world as it is, rather than being predicated upon changing the
    world first so that it fits the policy.54

    This oblique and clumsy engagement with climate change is more likely to
    succeed than renewing the same costly and futile frontal assault. There are
    three leading reasons why. First, our approach is not a fragile monoculture.
    It allows a thousand flowers to bloom. It is therefore both more robust and
    more likely to avoid failure, and it commands legitimacy: it meets Adam
    Smith’s design guidance for viable social change. Secondly, it leverages
    existing powerful forces. Finally, it offers a different process with which to
    engage for those who have become institutionally and emotionally wedded
    to the Kyoto Protocol’s flawed assumptions, through their intimate
    entanglement in the minutiae of its proliferating bureaucratic
    superstructure. It provides a golden bridge across which to withdraw from
    Kyoto with dignity.”

    A multiple objective strategy has been analysed by the Copenhagen Consensus. The focused 19 sustainable development goals (SDG) are vastly different to the 169 goals of the UN. The emphasis is on global development – but each of these goals has implications for population and climate. Notably increasing agricultural productivity – which requires taking carbon from the atmosphere and putting it back into soils and vegetation.

    http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/post-2015-consensus/nobel-laureates-guide-smarter-global-targets-2030

    The global economy is worth about $100 trillion a year. To put aid and philanthropy into perspective – the total is 0.025% of the global economy. If spent on Copenhagen Consensus smart development goals such expenditure can generate a benefit to cost ratio of more than 15. If spent on the UN Sustainable Development Goals you may as well piss it up against a wall. Either way – it is nowhere near the major path to universal prosperity. Some 3.5 billion people make less than $2 a day. Changing that can only be done by doubling and tripling global production – and doing it as quickly as possible. Optimal economic growth is essential and that requires an understanding and implementation of explicit principles for effective economic governance of free markets. I apologise for the extra long comment – but not for solutions that increase economic growth.

    Returning carbon to soils and ecosystems has major benefits in addition to offsetting anthropogenic emissions from fossil fuel combustion, land use conversion, soil cultivation, continuous grazing and cement manufacturing. Restoring soil carbon stores increases agronomic productivity and enhances global food security. Increasing the soil organic content enhances water holding capacity and creates a more drought tolerant agriculture – with less downstream flooding. There is a critical level of soil carbon that is essential to maximising the effectiveness of water and nutrient inputs. Global food security, especially for countries with fragile soils and harsh climate such as in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, cannot be achieved without improving soil quality through an increase in soil organic content. Wildlife flourishes on restored grazing land helping to halt biodiversity loss. Reversing soil carbon loss is a new green revolution where conventional agriculture is hitting a productivity barrier with exhausted soils and increasingly expensive inputs.

    Increased agricultural productivity, increased downstream processing and access to markets build local economies and global wealth. Economic growth provides resources for solving problems – conserving and restoring ecosystems, better sanitation and safer water, better health and education, updating the diesel fleet and other productive assets to emit less black carbon and reduce the health and environmental impacts, developing better and cheaper ways of producing electricity, replacing cooking with wood and dung with better ways of preparing food – thus avoiding respiratory disease and again reducing black carbon emissions. A global program of agricultural soils restoration is the foundation for balancing the human ecology. Many countries have committed to increasing soil carbon by 0.4% per year. As a global objective and given the highest priority it is a solution to critical problems of biodiversity loss, development, food security and resilience to drought and flood.

    • Ocean states shift rapidly between regimes as tremendous energies cascade through powerful sub-systems – a concise description of the stadium wave.

      Because of their vast extent and high “thermal inertia,” rapidly shifting oceanic states are a convenient figment of imagination! It is paradigms of thought that shift rapidly in a field that has scant dynamical understanding of geophysical systems. The notion that “tremendous energies cascade through powerful sub-systems” is as empty a hand-waving explanation as the imputed “stadium wave” synchronicity of multi-decadal surface temperature variations. No experienced oceanographer can take such bald assertions seriously. But they do make good fodder for blog-lions.

      • The shifts are in oceanic and atmospheric circulation – which have climate implications. Very obvious in the data.

        Unlike El Niño and La Niña, which may occur every 3 to 7 years and last from 6 to 18 months, the PDO can remain in the same phase for 20 to 30 years. The shift in the PDO can have significant implications for global climate, affecting Pacific and Atlantic hurricane activity, droughts and flooding around the Pacific basin, the productivity of marine ecosystems, and global land temperature patterns. #8220;This multi-year Pacific Decadal Oscillation ‘cool’ trend can intensify La Niña or diminish El Niño impacts around the Pacific basin,” said Bill Patzert, an oceanographer and climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “The persistence of this large-scale pattern [in 2008] tells us there is much more than an isolated La Niña occurring in the Pacific Ocean.”

        Natural, large-scale climate patterns like the PDO and El Niño-La Niña are superimposed on global warming caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and landscape changes like deforestation. According to Josh Willis, JPL oceanographer and climate scientist, “These natural climate phenomena can sometimes hide global warming caused by human activities. Or they can have the opposite effect of accentuating it.” https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=8703

        It appears to be something recognised by oceanographers – and I have read many over the years and decades. Comes with the hydrological territory.

        Cascading energies relate to positive and negative feedback in components of complex, dynamical systems. In the case of climate – with a signal that propagates around the planet.

        But here it seems I am just correcting the misconceptions of a blog jackal.

      • But here it seems I am just correcting the misconceptions of a blog jackal. jackal.

        Ad hominems fail to conceal that the misconceptions lie on the other side. As is evident from their reference to the multi-decadal PDO, neither Patzert nor Willis embrace the notion of abrupt, truly “rapid” shifts in oceanic climate, which has never been the study domain of hydrologists. [In fact, SIO will not accept a hydrology degree as qualification for graduate studies in oceanography.] Nor do they resort to gimmicky “stadium wave” explanations, based upon nothing more than temperature indices, in dealing with bona fide oceanic physics.

      • If you don’t like the ad hom – chose another way to begin discourse.

        I began decades ago with drought and flood dominated regime in eastern Australia. It evolved from an observation that streams had changed form in the lte 1970’s. It was ultimately traced to Pacific conditions. 90% of terrestrial rainfall originates in the oceans. Both the PDO and linked changes in the frequency and intensity of ENSO events.

        Blue to 1976, red to 1998 and a bit indeterminate since.

        The temporal patter of the PDO is the same. Imagine that. The transitions between climate states is evidently abrupt.

        “We construct a network of observed climate indices in the period 1900–2000 and investigate their collective behavior. The results indicate that this network synchronized several times in this period. We find that in those cases where the synchronous state was followed by a steady increase in the coupling strength between the indices, the synchronous state was destroyed, after which a new climate state emerged. These shifts are associated with significant changes in global temperature trend and in ENSO variability. The latest such event is known as the great climate shift of the 1970s. We also find the evidence for such type of behavior in two climate simulations using a state-of-the-art model. This is the first time that this mechanism, which appears consistent with the theory of synchronized chaos, is discovered in a physical system of the size and complexity of the climate system.” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2007GL030288/full

        The first is mainstream oceanography –
        and we would be hard pressed to find any person knowledgeable in fields from biology to hydrology who wasn’t familiar with these fundamental modes of climate variability. The climate shifts are quite obviously abrupt – as is the fundamental nature of complex dynamical systems.

        You wander all over the place, change ground, claim the authority of people you don’t know for erroneous notions and hand wave about discipline boundaries you seem clueless about.

        Just because you haven’t heard it in one of your blogospheric echo chambers means zilch. Try some actual science instead.

      • But they do make good fodder for blog-lions.

        Start with nonsense and then pretend to injured innocence when I respond with blog jackal? But when it is your only strategy… ya might as well try it on.

      • David Springer

        Hey John, a rapid shift in oceanic climate would require a massive amount of energy to enter the ocean in a short period of time. The TOA energy imbalance is 0.5W/m2 therefore unless that changes in a huge way it’s all the energy available for ocean warming. Th current amount of excess energy entering the ocean is enough to warm the basin top to bottom 0.2C per century.

        Please explain how your “notion” of rapid shift in oceanic climate is supposed to happen. What’s the mechanism? How does the ocean rapidly gain the energy that would require?

      • David Springer

        Nevermind that John. I see you’re actually disputing the notion of rapid shift in oceanic climate. I agree with you.

      • The energy imbalance is an assumptions that oceans move steadily from a cooler to a warmer state. Oceans in fact warm and cool annually due to north/south asymmetry and from the bottom up with heat from the mantle. If you do the math a better assumption is that instead of losing all of that heat to space – with extra CO2 some of the heat is retained and the planet warms.

        Any warming is assumed to be greenhouse gases – and the imbalance is measured in the oceans. The reality is that there is huge natural variation at TOA and that the imbalance is zero twice a year – as well as notably around 2008. The point at which oceans stopped cooling and warmed again.

        https://watertechbyrie.com/2017/01/12/an-earnest-discovery-of-climate-causality/

        A previous generation of instruments suggest a temperature peak in the oceans late last century. Mostly the result of reduced cloud cover associated with warm Pacific sea surface temperatures.

        But we talking about coupled ocean/atmospere circulation modes. Specifically more or less upwelling in the eastern and equatorial Pacific – no biggie there – that are plausibly triggered by secular variation in the polar annular modes.

        https://watertechbyrie.com/2017/01/12/an-earnest-discovery-of-climate-causality/

        Is Springer really wanting to wave away the PDO and ENSO?

      • This was meant to be the first link – https://watertechbyrie.com/2017/02/18/21st-century-climate-data-gives-new-insight/

        There is a wealth of data here – by all means interpret it differently – but the sort of arm waving going on here means SFA.

      • Just because you haven’t heard it in one of your blogospheric echo chambers means zilch. Try some actual science instead.

        When the claim is made that the multi-decadal PDO index shows that the “transitions between climate states is [sic!] evidently abrupt,” based merely on the polarity-indicating color change of the graph, the sheer silliness of the claim becomes apparent. By that token, ANY oscillation that goes through zero–no matter how long or gradual–is an “abrupt” transition.

        And when someone who patently fails to comprehend what scientific point is being made by experienced professionals, but displays his Wiki-expertise daily in lengthy off-the-point blog comments, the pathetic irony of his words quoted above becomes glaring.

      • Just because you haven’t heard it in one of your blogospheric echo chambers means zilch. Try some actual science instead.

        When the claim is made that the multi-decadal PDO index shows that the “transitions between climate states is [sic!] evidently abrupt,” based merely on the polarity-indicating color change of the graph, the sheer silliness of the claim becomes apparent. By that token, ANY oscillation that goes through zero–no matter how long or gradual–is an “abrupt” transition.

        And when someone who patently fails to comprehend what scientific point is being made by experienced professionals, but displays his Wiki-expertise daily in lengthy off-the-point blog comments, the pathetic irony of his words quoted above becomes glaring.

      • Please replace the 5:52pm comment by that submitted at 5:53pm.

  26. Great post Judith. Maybe those journalists and others like them can help change perceptions. But there’s huge social inertia to work against. The widespread belief in the certainty of imminent (decades) climate calamity is not ultimately owed to flawed reasoning about the issues raised in this post (reasoning is theoretically still an objective process even when through lack of knowledge or missed steps it goes wrong). This belief is owed to the effect whereby in certain circumstances, such as an original strong dearth of knowledge, and iteratively within society, emotive selection can trump veracity. And once large swathes of society are emotively engaged with a belief (in this case of the *certainty* of imminent climate calamity), they will work actively to defend it. As will many scientists embedded in that society. Hence the potent reaction against Brett Stevens, who didn’t express the even more unpalatable prospect to believers, which as you point out is that CC understanding is not even a matter of probabilities. The size of this social inertia is made very obvious by the fact that, until the recent Trump administration, practically all the most influential Western leaders (and even including the Pope) for many years have trumpeted the certainty of climate catastrophe in the most emotive and critically urgent terms, along with the orgs beneath them. This is the authority narrative that ultimately drives main policy. Against this, the bravely expressed evolving reason of those such as Revkin and Stephens seems still to be a nascent perception and, comparatively, a very modest force indeed. However, social process is also non-linear and practically impossible to predict, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

    • AW, thanks for that comment. I had not thought about emotional inertia before. Explains Obama and the Pope. Does not explain Mann or Santer or Hansen.

      • Hi Rud. I think the behavior of many climate scientists, maybe these 3 included, can plausibly be explained by emotional engagement. When major new religions arise, they do not turn on like a switch. Rather they have deep roots going back in time to long before they become obvious on the world stage, within particular segments of society or geographical regions or both, where preferential selection of emotive memes in more favorable conditions leads to early expression at those spots. And belief in the certainty of climate calamity arises due to the same mechanisms as religions. So consider scientists at those hot-spots, of which indeed segments of environmentally orientated academia appear to be one of the hottest and earliest. Scientists are just people, as even Lewandowsky says: “Nonetheless, being human, scientists’ operate with the same cognitive apparatus and limitations as every other person”. So as co-evolving narratives of calamity take hold due to a high selective value that trumps veracity (selection preference being due to fear and a raft of other emotions, including +ve ones such as hope, which is very powerful too) many of the scientists embedded in those social hot-spots will both be carried along by the local tide, and as they become older and more influential, will become powerful contributors to the much stronger tide as this breaks out into the wider world (and hence ensnaring many more younger scientists too). A key enabling factor is a dearth of knowledge about how the climate works, which helps prevent the emotive memes being short-circuited back to reality.

        If you want to see the self-admission of this process you need look no further than the link below, where 43 climate and environmental scientist confess their relationship to climate change. For the great majority, this is not only dominated by a raft of powerful emotions both +ve (e.g. hope of salvation) and -ve (e.g. great fears for children / grandchildren), the posited scenarios bear little or no resemblance to the mainstream position (e.g. taking the IPCC technical papers as a benchmark), for instance being highly speculative about impacts, to say the least. Such speculation expressed as a certainty of calamity is an emotive belief and nothing to do with science, yet these personal relationships are freely volunteered and are not out of context in some pressured interview or some-such. Out of several key characteristics that spring from such a relationship with the issue, one will be a highly emotive defense of the consensus on calamity, and another is that their position is not driven primarily by dishonesty or indeed any objective considerations good or bad, but in the main from an honestly felt passion (which doesn’t rule out some, in fact sometimes a lot, of morphing to noble cause corruption). Fear and hope and anxiety and the rest are strong drivers, to the extent that they can blind people even to everyday realities or contradictions.

        Ben Santer had his degree and doctorate from the university of East Anglia. An early hot-spot if ever there was one. One of the letters at the link is from Michael Mann. It conveys the classic memes of ‘catastrophe’ plus children / grandchildren invocations and in this case the list of emotions being: concern, bemusement, frustration, disgust, anger, and hope. ‘Most of all hope’ – which derives from ‘faith’ that we (humanity) will act in time. Faith is very powerful too. The process of objective science is extremely fragile in the face of such a powerful array of emotions running so high in those who are supposed to be its detached practicioners. I think Hansen’s highly emotive comparison of AGW to the holocaust via coal ‘death train’ metaphors speaks for itself. It’s rather moot to wonder whether these scientists are more drivers than driven; they are part of an emergent social process which runs on emotive selection. Perhaps in former times they were more the latter, and latter times more the former.

        My guest post here from 2015, ‘Contradiction on emotional bias in the climate domain’, links to and categorizes further freely offered emotive expressions from climate / environmental scientists, including the ‘Scared Scientists’ and some ‘from the heart’ videos.

        http://www.isthishowyoufeel.com/this-is-how-scientists-feel.html

      • Andy, very interesting. I have many friends who are educated and well-meaning, oriented to helping others – as I am, but they are far to the left of me – who are totally resistant to the material I post which debunks the climate scare, and to my arguments that whether or not further warming might occur and might be dangerous, destroying our economy in the present (as Australia is doing) through mad energy and emissions policies will severely reduce our capacity to deal with any adverse impacts of climate change (or anything else). Their behaviour fits your analysis. FYI, I first got involved in the alleged CAGW issue (in the 1980s) because of concerns about it, as I learned more I became increasingly sceptical.

      • Yes, in the US and Oz particularly, climate culture and left wing culture are strongly allied, which makes those on the left statistically more vulnerable to the emotive CC memes of calamity. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that nevertheless, there are still (at least) 3 distinct cultures in a mapping of the domain like that below for the US.

        …and this same type of map can be drawn for other cultures, like the religious one that spawns creationism for instance. Likewise 3 cultures, but this time the stronger alliance is with the right not left (and probably because religion has been around for far longer, it is also more deeply embedded on both sides).

        It is hard to unconvince folks of *certainty* (in this case of calamity) when they are committed to this primarily through emotive engagement rather than reason. As you note, challenging reason is merely rejected. This is particularly the case when indeed calamity remains a possibility, and our knowledge of the system is so poor that as Judith notes this is still only a possibilistic thing not a probabilistic thing.

        I think there is an extra vulnerability for scientists, because for a system covering a large array of specialisms, each scientist only occupies / knows about one small cell in this array. It is in the assembling of cells to obtain a net picture that the biggest opportunity for bias and emotive influence occurs. There’s a sense in which each scientist is believing the overall bias in the result, yet the emergent consensus is more a product of social process than the science from any of the cells.

      • P.S. above was to Faustino.

      • P.P.S. red, blue and green each represent a cultural position,

      • Some more links:

        The ‘Scared Scientists’, emotion in action, from which fear will propagate.
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/25/nick-bowers_n_5701202.html

        ‘Morethanscientists’ demonstrates that they are indeed all still humans, and hence vulnerable to powerful emotive responses which are freely expressed, and cannot do other than impact objectivity.
        http://morethanscientists.org/

      • The following finding indicates that the pope’s ability to judge certain types of information correctly might be questionable:
        «Furthermore, both ontological confusions and religious belief were positively correlated with BS receptivity.» (Section: 7 Results; Page 553 )
        Paper: On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound BS
        In the Journal: Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563

  27. To determine if something or nothing should be done as soon as possible the best approach is to first simplify that determinate (perhaps in steps).

    First, can we disprove that a tipping point exists (shortly) down the road. If this can be disproved then we should be able to simply wait, do nothing. If technologies come along (fusion reactors) we don’t have to spend $$$ and other resources in really silly ways to power a national grid.

    As Mark Twain commented “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

    Of course one must temper the above, coming from a proud and experienced procrastinator, such as I.

    Note: And yes, the opening line above can be read as … doing nothing … as soon as possible. Smiles.
    AL

    • “We construct a network of observed climate indices in the period 1900–2000 and investigate their collective behavior. The results indicate that this network synchronized several times in this period. We find that in those cases where the synchronous state was followed by a steady increase in the coupling strength between the indices, the synchronous state was destroyed, after which a new climate state emerged. These shifts are associated with significant changes in global temperature trend and in ENSO variability. The latest such event is known as the great climate shift of the 1970s. We also find the evidence for such type of behavior in two climate simulations using a state-of-the-art model. This is the first time that this mechanism, which appears consistent with the theory of synchronized chaos, is discovered in a physical system of the size and complexity of the climate system.”
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2007GL030288/abstract

      There are likely to be 4 tipping points this century.

      • David Springer

        re; 4 tipping points

        Great. Now let’s turn that narrative (hypothesis) into some science. Attach 4 dates to those tipping points (make predictions) and then we’ll wait to see if they happen.

      • 1912, 1944. 1976, 1998 and in a window of 2018-2028. Predicting the future is hard.

  28. I would think also, about this 2 or 2.5 Degree C thing, that if we are going to use temperature rise as a guideline to when something must be done (or too late – don’t bother) the temperature rise time should start from about 2,000 years ago, which would mean we have about another 2 or 2.5 Degrees C to go.

  29. Geoff Sherrington

    There is an implicit assumption that society as a whole should spend money on those harmed by climate change. I hold the counter view derived with help from examples like these.
    Harm often hits at personal level, such as by food scarcity, loss of home, loss of energy source. These can happen from events remote from cc. A careless cigarette can destroy a home, a forest – but the remedy has long been the option of paying for personal insurance. This would seem to apply also to some cc outcomes like sea level change if indeed it has a man-made component.
    I dispute the need to create standing funds ahead of uncertain harm. In the past, there have been many an ad hoc response to large scale harm, like sending in the military. Sending in medical teams has headed off disease spread. Because large episodic cc harm is not common, it would be a waste of resources to have disaster teams sitting waiting.
    The uncertainty monster has to play a major part in planning. If that reduces knee jerk planning, so much the better. History has many examples of voluntary human kindness following harm including weather harm like hurricanes. It would be wrong to diminish kindness by replacing it with bureaucratic structures. There is a lot of planning proposing to do just that.
    In a nutshell, why should community imposts be mandatory when informal kindness and insurance can work well? And how can attribution of harm to climate be made given the unresolved uncertainty?
    The cc demands are but another example of greed by a planning minority, trying to impose cost structures on all people for easier control of them. Megalomania posing as concern.
    Geoff

    • Here’s the other red mewt from the LSE.

      “The Paper therefore proposes that the organising principle of our effort should be the raising up of human dignity via three overarching objectives: ensuring energy access for all; ensuring that we develop in a manner that does not undermine the essential functioning of the Earth system; ensuring that our societies are adequately equipped to withstand the risks and dangers that come from all the vagaries of climate, whatever their cause may be.”

      http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27939/1/HartwellPaper_English_version.pdf

      Why the hell should we plan ahead for natural disasters?

  30. There are two kinds of uncertainty. One is when dealing with a random event. So, one is uncertainty about what number will next come up on a roulette wheel. But, climate uncertainty is the other type. It’s about our ignorance. When the IPCC says it’s highly likely that equliblibrium climate sensitivity is between 1.5 and 4.5 deg C, that’s not because climate sensitivity fluctuates randomly. It’s because scientists’ knowledge is limited. Presumably ECS is a particular figure, but we don’t know what that figure is.

  31. Even if you claim complete ignorance of the warming effect, you can with a fair amount of confidence predict the CO2 level under various scenarios in 2100. These range from a BAU population and development growth with its corresponding per-capita CO2 growth giving you 700 ppm and rising rapidly at 2100, versus realistic mitigation efforts that gradually reduce per-capita emissions over the decades resulting in stabilization below 500 ppm. Given these scenarios, you can decide which you prefer and what gain there is from mitigation. That is the starting point, and there is little uncertainty with this part. Argue about what CO2 status you want at 2100. Some may say they prefer having 700 ppm and rising to having below 500 ppm and stable, and they can try to make that case. Thinking about it this way focuses the mind and puts the uncertainty in its right place which is after we have made our policy decision. Some policies or no policy at all lead to a much more uncertain state than mitigation policies that leave us closer to the current state.

    • “The final section sets down the principles that should underpin a viable engagement with climate security. In it, we take a radically different approach from the top-down command and regulatory regime of output targets that is Kyoto. Our approach is both older and simpler. It sets out to
      harness enlightened self-interest to drive a process designed to generate a range of possible solutions, which can be compared and assessed, mixed and matched, changed and refined as we pursue the goal of climate security.” http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27939/1/HartwellPaper_English_version.pdf

      Absolutely – doing the same thing over will produce a different result.

  32. Reblogged this on 4timesayear's Blog.

  33. The beauty of knowing causal laws or strong correlations is the ability to increase our knowledge of the possible future states of the world. It helps decrease the entropy of this knowledge and thus enables the extraction of more useful energy.

    Without such knowledge (deep uncertainty) it is advisable to stay with the maximum entropy state. In such cases it will be optimal to assume the world of tomorrow will be like today and adjust if necessary.

    Thats actually what insurance is about. Current policy ideas haven’t much to with taking out insurance. Insurance companies don’t try to handicap the next storm track and fortify buildings accordingly or trying to calm down the wind. They simply stay put wait how things turn out and pay the damage. The philosophy is about handicapping the damage correctly and taking precautions that there are enough resources to make quick repairs.
    They only demand that their clients don’t engage in dumb behavior.

    Avoiding dumb behavior is the other way to handle risks. But using fossil fuels isn’t dumb behavior but the precondition for the life and survival of billions of people. Preventing their use before there is a viable alternative is an attempt to kill people as a precaution to save them from the possibility to commit suicide some day. If there are viable alternatives they will spread naturally without need of special policies different from a free market.

    Fostering the development of such alternatives makes perfect sense. To a certain extent at least, you can’t force innovation when the complementary elements are simply not there. And politically motivated voluntarism isn’t a substitute for such knowledge and innovation. In the meantime keep the system efficient and people calibrated to the real world.

  34. “In Oliver Cromwell’s famous words, we plead that your officials consider, in the bowels of Christ, that they may be mistaken. No doubt in good faith, Britain led the world into legislating on the narrative of catastrophic climate emergency during its apogee years of
    2005-09 and on the flawed principles of top-down timetables, targets and trading that crashed at Copenhagen last December. If you haven’t, you should listen to Der Spiegel’s secret tape of the heads of
    state failing. (It was Nicolas Sarkozy calling the Chinese hypocrites that really did it.) So would it not be a splendid early tonic for the Con-Lib coalition if Britain could find the courage to admit error, correct that error and become one of those countries that lead the way out of the wreckage, rather than go on head-banging?” http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/units/mackinder/pdf/GPStandpointJune10.pdf

  35. I think the above comment makes a massive assumption, that CO2 levels are the cause, rather than a symptom of warming, that numeric computer models can be made to fit without understanding the actual mechanisms causing the change well, sometimes not including unknown or unmeasureable variables at all, except as slack variables amenable to 4×2 mathematical empiricism. etc.

    To me all this denies the ocean circulation problem which decouples thermal change from our own activities from global warming by hundreds of years, with the majority of planetary surface energy stored and mixed in the oceans, much less in the atmosphere which is driven by the oceans. In reality models are more like neural nets, and as relaible outside their data ranges, than firmly based in proven science. They only correlate CO2 levels with temperature as a probability, they don’t prove a law, or laws, of physicical cause and effect so should not be used to predict/extrapolate other than as a guess. Only interpolation is reliable. Too many variables, non-linear stochastic system, no control planet.

    And, again, this is all largely relevant smokescreen, as the FUD this gueswork in used to promote is then used to promote the absolute science denail of renewable energy on the grid, supposedly to “mitigate” the unproven cause of human caused CO2, using guilt by association AKA circumstantial evidence from the “models” described above – that is in fact not NOT science that proves any laws or causality. These renewable snake oil remedies actually make net CO2 emissions expensively worse vs better unsubsidised solutions, for massive profit by law, and provide no long term sustainable energy solution to protect wealth and allow developed economies to defend themselves against natural or AGW related climate change after fossil energy has gone. Wholly regressive for grid supply in most temperate countries. on the science facts of energy.

    FACT: After fossil ONLY nuclear power can deliver enough energy to power a develped economy, affordably, sustainably, when needed. Renewable sources just can’t.

    Renewable energy as the mainstay of a developed economy’s grid supply is the real science denial, that physicists should deny with one voice. It’s simple, it’s not climate science no one can ever prove or disprove. It’s a fraud on the easy to enumerate science fact. Why not simply disprove the supposed solution? The maths is simple, the laws proven. The end game obvious.

    End the renewable subsidies, justified on the overtly fraudulent assertion they are a deliverable cure for CO2 emissions that may or may not cause AGW. Support solutions that work on the science fact.

    Unprovable cliamte science that brooks no scientific challenge is used to justify what makes its supposed cause worse. That is why the people behind this want the debate to stay away from provable energy physics and focus on unprovable climate model forecasts, a version of religious belief, and their supposed economic impact – determined by an additional layer of suspect economic modelling the IPCC uses to assess threat levels. See the recent Dilbert cartoon on this. Scott Adams also did a cartoon on the precautionary principle, which is equally easy to lampoon if you are rational and outside science. And not in the irrational fear for profit industries.

    Everything is done to keep the discussion away from the hard science facts of costed energy engineering, that renewable energy denies when presented as a viable way to substantively power most developed economies’ grids, saving hydro in Paraguay and Norway.. But why doesn’t anyone want to focus on the absolute science denial and the waste of subsidy money of the snake oil solutions?

    If the renewable fraud goes away we can prefer to build what works instead. This can actually maximse CO2 reduction with technically viable long term solutions, climate change science can settle into a more sensible and scientific monitoring role, and we can use the huge amount of money saved from funding an undeliverable solution to defend, adapt and eventually move the only technological civilisation the planet has ever seen, probably, out of the way of the next ice age.

    This is the next very clearly predictable event driven by forces more powerful than most atmospheric climate scientists can possibly imagine (like 30% actual gravitational variability on the Earths internal structures pa, as well as solar radiation, at Milankovitch extremes might be a clue to how the oceans suddenly warm and end the ice ages in a geological blink in time (tectonic punctures warming the ocean arising from variable stress and/or molten iron core instability of our internal nuclear reactor anyone? That’s real macro hammer blow stuff, on longish but not geological time scales, not 0.04% of low heat capacity atmosphere changing a tad, surely more probably a consequence of what the planet and solar system is up to. Not us.

    Whatever, change is gonna come, from causes we can dcoument but don’t understand and can never prove ex ante, so we had better use our knowledge and treasure wisely over 100’s of generations to engineer our own survival by preparedness. Cities and nations will have to relocate, Oceans will fall 100 metres, etc. This is a change. It is so self evidently wrong for serious scientists to angst on about what is self evidently unexceptional short term noise within the tiny range of an interglacial maximum, for the cynical profit of a few short lived human carpet baggers whose ony interests are selfish exploitation of irrational fear, while jeopardisig a response that can actually deliver through their complicity in the actual renewable science denial fraud.

    So. Never mind whether or not AGW is significant, why don’t physicists suppport what delivers the most CO2 reducing, affordable, adequate, sustainable, safest energy supply on the measured and provable science facts? Because that also best ensures our prosperity, brings developed status and stability to those who don’t yet have it to stablilise the human planet, removing rich and poor nations vested interests, and hence enabling the future ability and institutions to cope with global responses for all mankind as the climate cools and the glaciers come for many, desert blooms, etc.

    First job for real physicists. Start by ending the renewable subsidy fraud on the easy to demonstrate energy science facts. “Save the planet” by preferring proven energy science that can to the outright science denial of renewable energy sources. Not a serious solution..

    SUMMARY: Why do responsible physicists instead waste any time debating the obvious and unprovable on the facts science denial of climate change numerical models, which is mostly about providing “expert evidence” for profitable, regressive and decitful in science fact political agendas, exploiting these unprovable beliefs for easy money by law?

    To illustrate the simple and cynical process used by politicias and pressure groups to promote the climate change justified energy fraud I end with a rewrite of Goering at Nurenburg, re stated for climate change and its consequences in the energy poverty, social and economic macro level effects.

    “Naturally, the common people don’t want expensive, rationed and unreliable energy, the destruction of their farming culture and the vandalism of their environment.

    But, after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist state, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

    Voice or no voice, the people can always be bought to the bidding of the leaders.

    This is easy. All you have to do is tell them the planet is in danger of climate catastrophe, caused by CO2 emissions they are responsible for but cannot test or see, and denounce those who question this for lack of belief and exposing the country to danger.

    It works the same in very country.”

    Nothing much changes, in the method or the people who do this, and the gullible opinionated and tribal masses they exploit. Seems knowledge and education doesn’t help most understand, or want to understand. So I suggest real scientists just stick to telling people how they have been lied to for a fast buck by politicians, because that’s what happened, and climate scientists have supported the lie, that climate change = renewable enrgy that can’t, expensively.

    Caveat: I may have repeated myself :-). All peer reviewed criticism on the facts welcome. All the above energy statements are fully supported by data in relevant papers. Or you can check a grid enrgy mix and the CO2 and energy different scenarios produce. It’s not climate science. CEng, CPhys MBA

  36. Another sign that the Earth has gone from GLOBAL ICE MELTING to GOLOBAL ICE MAKING. The Arctic Ocean has turned over. This means the water on the bottom is 39 degrees and 32 degrees at the top. This means the addition of 800 ft of ice on the top has forced the edges lower into the warmer wqter. The edge is melting from the bottom up, thus the increase in icebergs. One of your readers said he has never seen so mush ice breaking off.

    Robert D. Clark

  37. JC: “So it is good to see these acknowledgements of uncertainty in journalistic thought leaders in the climate debate. But the Uncertainty Monster is a tricky dude, it doesn’t help to oversimplify him.”

    So the Uncertainty Monster is male, while Mother Nature is female. If the two get together and chemistry happens between them, how likely are their offspring to become pro-growth, pro-business capitalists as opposed to anti-growth, anti-business climate change activists?

  38. A couple of quotes to bring up. One by Orzel
    “Even if you don’t believe the worst claims for climate change, you can do way better than “Well, maybe it won’t happen…” Choosing not to make the effort to engage quantitatively is both lazy and dishonest.”
    This was just dismissed by Judith without much thought and needs another attempt.

    The other relates to the deep-seated fear among skeptics about the mitigation policy itself.
    “By radically changing global energy policies in a top down way, are we risking continued poverty in the developing world? Risks to our food supply?”
    One can substitute the words “global energy policies” with “global climate change” and get the starting point for the UN. They view climate change as a foremost problem for the developing world from their perspective of trying to reduce poverty and improve living conditions and the environment.

    • Jim D: Choosing not to make the effort to engage quantitatively is both lazy and dishonest.”

      Informatively for the rest of us, Californians are engaged in a project of expanding their solar and wind generating capacity, and expanding high speed rail transportation, while neglecting their flood control and irrigation infrastructure. We can engage quantitatively with that strategy as the results play out.

      I do not know who exactly you refer to as choosing not to make the effort to engage quantitatively. Professor Curry (!), I, Rud Istvan, Turbulent Eddy, Capt Dallas, Planning Engineer, Willis Eschenbach, Robert Ellison and plenty of others too numerous to mention engage quantitatively here all the time. The people who refuse to “engage quantitatively” are those who adopted a strong anti-CO2 position a decade and more ago and who are resistant to the quantitative information published since then in peer-reviewed journals — you, for example.

      • And how do we quantitatively engage with unknown unknowns, Matt?

        AFAIK, it’s hard to engage with unknown unknowns except with:

        ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Last time I checked, the Italian Flag has been reduced to handwaving.

      • I think what he means by “engaging quantitatively” means looking at the costs of raised CO2 versus the costs of mitigation. Skeptics fail to do this analysis in any quantitative way. If they did, they would see that mitigation pays off. It’s a big gap in their argument not to have numbers and just posturing or gesticulating about things.

      • David Springer

        It seems to me that raised CO2 is a net benefit in both short and long term. The earth’s measurably getting greener. Agriculture is booming. Frozen wastelands promise to become arable farmland over time. Killer frosts are less frequent. Growing seasons lengthen. Life blossoms.

        In trade the ocean gradually rises and we have to migrate inland where poor long term planning resulted in permanent structures being built very near to sea level. Humans and all other land dwellers have been moving due to changing ocean level for hundreds of millions of years. Migration is a perfectly natural thing. Just do it.

  39. One of the areas of uncertainty that is much reduced since the alarm about warming was first raised in the mid 1980s is uncertainty over the damage accrued since the mid 1880s due to warming: there has been much much less than was feared. Subsidence has proved so far to be a much bigger problem than global sea level rise; the overall effects on vegetation have been beneficial, and the the distributions of the intensities of cyclonic storms have remained about the same. Evidence that anything has worsened because of warming (in contrast to increased property damage from increased building in threatened areas) is sparse.

    Another area of uncertainty that has been much reduced since the mid 1980s is the length of time over which to expect global warming: however much is the actual response to a doubling of CO2 concentration, the doubling isn’t going to happen until about 2150, and may not happen at all (about that, there is still uncertainty regarding how much fossil fuel humans can extract and burn.)

    Overall uncertainty over the climate sensitivities, represented by the persistence of the confidence interval 1.0-4.5 C/doubling, is unchanged, but the more reasonable (and recent) estimates, those not based on broad uniform Bayesian priors (e.g. uniform on the interval 0 – 12 C/doubling) are under 2 C/doubling. (I call them “more reasonable” because they avoid the unsupported broad uniform priors.)

    For people who tout that “science is process, not facts” the irony is that an extreme anti-CO2 policy was formulated before the process of studying CO2-induced warming had gotten underway, and most of the evidence disclosed subsequently by “the process” has gone toward undermining support for the policies.

    • At current rates, doubling (560 ppm) will be reached around 2080. Anything longer builds in a mitigation assumption, and even assuming current rates is a mitigation assumption in per-capita emissions because of global population growth and development. When skeptics start building mitigation into their argument they need to be aware of that concession that they have made. Any per-capita emissions reduction is de facto mitigation, and doesn’t happen without a policy to replace fossil fuel usage or improve energy efficiency.

      • David Springer

        At current rates we’ll have undergone two or more technologic revolutions by 2080. We can science our way out of any problems caused by CO2. I’m a real believer in science. Climate catastrophists are defeatists that lack confidence in science & engineering delivering solutions to future problems. If science, practical science not narrative soft sciences like climate change, fails to deliver it’ll be the first time it failed since the enlightenment!

      • You have that backwards. It is the skeptics who don’t believe in technological solutions, even when there is a global effort on scaling down fossil fuels that has already started. It will take decades, but only needs to be gradual to succeed, which is why I am optimistic about stabilizing CO2 levels well below a doubling by 2100.

      • At current rates, it seems that we may not reach a doubling of the CO2 levels in the atmosphere at all:

        Recent pause in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 due to enhanced terrestrial carbon uptake

        “Here using global carbon budget estimates, ground, atmospheric and satellite observations, and multiple global vegetation models, we report a recent pause in the growth rate of atmospheric CO 2, and a decline in the fraction of anthropogenic emissions that remain in the atmosphere, despite increasing anthropogenic emissions. We attribute the observed decline to increases in the terrestrial sink during the past decade, associated with the effects of rising atmospheric CO 2 on vegetation and the slowdown in the rate of warming on global respiration. The pause in the atmospheric CO 2 growth rate provides further evidence of the roles of CO 2 fertilization and warming-induced respiration “

      • Yes, 2080 assumes that the growth rate stops at current values of 2.5 ppm/yr, i.e. that the pause continues. This is optimistic unless we can keep emissions from growing. Uptake is important to consider because it means that we can stabilize CO2 levels near current values even without negative emissions, but that does require a reduction of emissions by about 50% to allow natural processes to keep up. It is very attainable.

      • Can you please identify the source for your claims?

      • Be more specific. Which one do you want me to back up?

      • Sorry, The extrapolation of a 2,5 ppm yearly increase in CO2 level until 2080.

      • 400+2.5*64=560
        2080-2016=64
        CO2 in 2016=400
        560=2*280

      • I was curious about your perspective on the possible emission scenarios. According to this paper. The implications of fossil fuel supply constraints on climate change projections: A supply-side analysis IPCC´s emission scenarios seem to be wildly exaggerated.

        “Based on this analysis, we find that supply constraints on total fossil fuels production are likely to provide an upper-bound to climate change over the time horizon considered in this paper (out to the end of 2100). Specifically, based on the SD-PCU [supply-driven peak conventional & non-conventional fossil fuels’ scenario] emissions scenario, the median atmospheric CO2 concentration, and global-mean surface temperature increase, are likely to reach about 610ppm and 2.63 C respectively by 2100, even when the rapid growth in the production of the non-conventional fossil fuels (specifically, oil and gas) is considered. Note that these results are significantly lower than those projected by the IPCC under its earlier high-emission scenarios, such as SRESA1FI, or in its later high-concentration pathway of RCP8.5. Therefore, we conclude that the IPCC is likely to be overestimating the upper-bound of possible climate change over this time horizon; where this conclusion is supported by most of the ‘peak fossil fuel production’ studies published after the year 2000 that we examined.”

        Notably, the paper conclude that there will be a peak in fossil fuel emissions this century, even if nothing is done to curb the use of fossil fuels:

        “Based on the sources described above, we conclude that a very likely pathway for the total production of all fossil fuel resources in future is to keep increasing in next two decades to reach a maximum at 12.40 Gtoe/yr, and then to decline.”

        If we now take into account that the models used to estimate global temperature as a function of CO2 levels in the atmosphere also seem to overestimate the warming, we seem to meet the 2 degree target without implementing any radical policies at all.

      • > we seem to meet the 2 degree target without implementing any radical policies at all.

        Indeed, Fiction. There’s nothing very radical to envision when consider that by 2050 we’ll reach peak oil. Less and less fossil fuels in our fossil-fuel-based world: what could go wrong?

        ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        You might have missed that the authors results are in agreement with most climate studies.

      • “You might have missed that the authors results are in agreement with most climate studies.”

        Smoke and mirrors.

        You might have missed that by the study I linked to above:
        – “The emission scenarios used by the IPCC and by mainstream climate scientists are largely derived from the predicted demand for fossil fuels, and in our view take insufficient consideration of the constrained emissions that are likely due to the depletion of these fuels. This paper, by contrast, takes a supply- side view of CO2 emission, and generates two supply-driven emission scenarios based on a comprehensive investigation of likely long-term pathways of fossil fuel production drawn from peer-reviewed literature published since 2000.” – Ref. the abstract

        – The so-called Representative Concentration Pathway
        RCP6, and RCP8.5, in the climate study by United Nations climate panel IPCC, seem to be wildly exaggerated.
        (See figure 4 in the article.)

        – Hence: The frightening scenarios presented by IPCC in the Summary for Policymakers seem to be wildly exaggerated: “Increase of global mean surface temperatures for 2081–2100 relative to 1986–2005 is projected to likely be in the ranges derived from the concentration-driven CMIP5 model simulations, that is, 0.3°C to 1.7°C (RCP2.6), 1.1°C to 2.6°C (RCP4.5), 1.4°C to 3.1°C (RCP6.0), 2.6°C to 4.8°C (RCP8.5).”
        Ref. IPPC;AR5;WGI:SPM page 20

      • Yes, RCP8.5 is high and relies on a coal-happy scenario that most nowadays, even the skeptics, would consider plain dumb despite the coal supplies being there for such a scenario to occur. Oil and gas will run into limits of availability by 2100 and what there is becomes harder to extract, so they will naturally price themselves out of the energy market. Even more reason to look for alternatives before that happens, and that alternative is not coal.

  40. > represented by the persistence of the confidence interval 1.0-4.5 C/doubling

    That’s more NicL’s persistence, at least as far as the lowest bound justified disingenuousness the GWPF can buy.

    • Willard: That’s more NicL’s persistence, at least as far as the lowest bound justified disingenuousness the GWPF can buy.

      Why the claim that GWPF is buying lower bounds?

      Are you claiming that NicL is wrong?

      • Thank you for your questions, Matt.

        First, because the GWPF pays for reports to be produced. They persist in peddling the lowest bound NicL is selling.

        Second, I am claiming that NicL persists in seeking the lowest bound of justified disingenuousness. That’s why I say so.

        When we take Mr. T srsly, we can’t say anything about right or wrong. It’s all so uncertain. All we can do is:

        ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Your turn to answer my question. See above.

  41. Interesting reading articles and comments from distinctive scholars and academics. Having lived 40 years in forested mountain regions this statement from an article is a cynical characterization: “It’s boring, for one thing with no television, no MP3 player, no video games, no computer, no Internet, no mobile phone.”

    I witnessed mountain glaciers disappear, entire forests removed by strip mining, giant landslides of soil during rain storms, mountains removed for open pit mining of the coal beneath them, the rock pushed into the deep scars afterwards and abandoned. It took nature 200 million years to create those mountain ranges and humans 10 to destroy them. You are attempting to use words to describe the disaster facing humans. Your task is not a pleasant one. Please, excuse my intrusion into your debate, by a plebeian.

  42. Common business sense dictates that you must concentrate on the most immediate solvable problems and adapt to the unsolvable ones. Possible future developments require only awareness and a readiness to adapt. Concentrating and preparing for one possible threat is a recipe for disaster. You can tie up all your resources and get sideswiped by the unexpected.

    Preventing climate change is impossible,or an unsolvable problem, since we cannot be certain of any possible outcome, or of the consequences of any action taken. We could only introduce further or different changes with unknown consequences and at tremendous cost.

    Insurance is used to guard against catastrophic losses or what you cannot afford to lose. The degree of possibility only determines the cost of that insurance. An example would be your automobile, which is expensive, and insurance is used to ensure that you can replace it in the case of loss. If you own a fleet of widely scattered automobiles it becomes pointless to insure individual vehicles. It is cheaper to simply absorb the occasional loss. A form of adaptation.

    Attempting to prevent climate change is not insurance. Preparing to adapt to the worst possible consequences would be insurance. It seems to me that spending to strengthen seawalls, provide storm shelters, and move infrastructure, and development, to higher ground would be much better insurance than subsidizing windmills, solar farms and alternative fuels. The value is obvious even without global warming. Reducing poverty and dealing with population growth would be equally beneficial.

    “The consequences will take several centuries to be fully realized, as the Earth settles into its new state. It is probable that, as in the distant geological eras with high CO2, sea levels will be many tens of meters higher and the average global temperature will soar far above the present value: a planet grossly unlike the one to which the human species is adapted.” a quote from Spencer Weart.

    Common alarmist rhetoric with no quantifying of “the distant geological era” and using probable to describe a vanishingly small possibility. Does he mean 100 years or 100 million. What Mr. Weart misses is that many humans already live in conditions grossly unlike those in which we evolved. Without technology, houses, clothing, etc. very little of the earths population could survive the conditions in which they live. It is likely that technology will continue to save us but highly unlikely that the anti technology stance of alarmists will.

    • > Attempting to prevent climate change is not insurance.

      Of course it’s not. It’s called investment:

      Like so many other people, I see the “end game” of policy as simply correcting a negative externality, eliminating the price distortion that it created, then relying upon the combined efforts of both governments and market actors to find a technological solution to the problem, which will eliminate the underlying incentive to burn fossil fuel.

      From this perspective, the basic problem is that because fossil fuel is too cheap (due to the externality), there has been significant underinvestment in energy research. Green energy can’t compete with brown energy, because the latter is being tacitly subsidized (by the victims of climate change). If one compares the amount of technological innovation that we have seen in computing, over the course of the 20th century, and compare it to the amount of technological innovation in energy systems (which is practically zero, we still use predominantly 19th century technology), there is reason for optimism that we will be able to find zero-carbon energy sources. The world, after all, is awash with energy. At any given point in time, the earth is being struck by over 15,000 terawatts of solar energy. Total human energy usage at any given point in time is roughly 17 terawatts. Furthermore, most of that energy is not being captured directly by yhumans – it comes from solar energy captured and transformed millions of years ago by plants. We should be able to do better than that!

      http://induecourse.ca/why-are-carbon-taxes-so-low/

      Otters might prefer Mr. T’s approach:

      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      • You can call it an investment if you like and you are welcome to make that investment. I object t to you making that investment on my behalf with my resources. You can not show with any reasonable certainty that there is a chance of any return and there is a definite probability of a loss of capital.That is a accurate use of the word probable.
        I would much prefer to invest in an air conditioner or the planting of some trees for more immediate returns. Investing in the possibility of altering the climate to someones specifications in 100 years is such an optimistic approach that it borders on the ridiculous.

      • > I object t to you making that investment on my behalf with my resources.

        And I object that you consider the atmosphere as if it wasn’t a shared resource or as if dumping carbon in it like there was no tomorrow did not come with debilitating externalities.

        Investmenting in energy sectors sound less ridiculous when not caricatured by contrarians and Freedom Fighter alike. The first step could very well be to stop subsidizing an already profitable industry. There are better ways to care for the energy challenged than to transfer more wealth to the mightiest industries known to mankind.

      • “Of course it’s not. It’s called investment:”

        It would be a really bad investment. Do you make investments where you have no clue often?

      • Do you often beat hippies, RobS?

        Just about any technological field might meet your conception of a bad investment.

        Here’s an old chart:

        Source: https://about.bnef.com/blog/clean-energy-defies-fossil-fuel-price-crash-to-attract-record-329bn-global-investment-in-2015/

        $329bn sounds like a lot of bad investment, don’t you think?

      • Willard:

        Computing power advances can be described as increased density. The main frames of 40 years ago had terrible density. Fossil fuels have much greater density than wind or solar with solar deployed at 5 watts per square meter, wind at 2.5 watts and energy crops at 0.5 watts.

        That said, “Since 1993, the US federal gasoline tax has been 18.4¢/gal.”

        It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.

        A nickel, let’s do this. We like roads and bridges. Look what we paid for. It’s a good road. Where did the money come from again? People buying gasoline. That’s can’t be good. They are destroying the planet. But fixing the roads too. What a great PR idea.

      • “Personally, I find that the most objectionable feature of the conservative attitude is its propensity to reject well-substantiated new knowledge because it dislikes some of the consequences which seem to follow from it—or to put it bluntly, its obscurantism (to obscure the facts). I will not deny that scientists as much as others are given to fads and fashions and that we have much reason to be cautious in accepting the conclusions that they draw from their latest theories. But the reasons for our reluctance must themselves be rational  and must be kept separate from our regret that the new theories upset our cherished beliefs. . .  By refusing to face the facts, the conservative only weakens his own position.  . .  Should our moral beliefs really prove to be dependent on factual assumptions shown to be incorrect, it would hardly be moral to defend them by refusing to acknowledge facts.”

        https://judithcurry.com/2013/07/15/why-libertarians-should-support-a-carbon-tax/

        I have problems with everyone, so if you prefer, substitute liberal for conservative above.

        At the link the argument is made that, a libertarian should not let their market beliefs influence their beliefs about the harms of adding CO2 to the atmosphere. And that decisions can be made with uncertainty. My nickel a gallon tax would be a decision, but admittedly not a pure decision. For instance it might be about COLA index this thing and save the roads. Social Security benefits get COLA index increases not in 2016 though. Our tax code, lots of COLAs. ACA, COLAs.

      • > Social Security benefits get COLA index increases not in 2016 though. Our tax code, lots of COLAs. ACA, COLAs.

        Then all you need is some COCAs, Ragnaar.

        My only qualms with Hayek is that most of his work is intertwined with ideological crap. During his time it was still possible to dream of economics as an generalization of morality and social reality. The theory of evolution may not be as powerful to explain cultural phenomenons as he presumed.

        You might be interested in his argument against Malthus, which were based on the intensification of work: more people means more work, more diversity, more specialization, and more wealth. When we put his argument within a physical context (he idealized One Big Science), GRRROWTH can’t be indefinite, but that’s for another time.

        Enjoy your evening,

        W

      • Saved by Ragnaar quoting Hayek. The vast majority of comments on this post confirm Hayek’s observation.

      • > The vast majority of comments on this post confirm Hayek’s observation.

        Hayek’s observation being unfalsifiable, Freedom Fighters win this fight at the expense of sealing themselves within the confines of their inner windmills.

      • Cost of Carbon Adjustment. For that I’d not be adverse to getting a participation trophy. A 5 cent gasoline tax increase cannot come to be because, No new taxes. No kumbaya either. You may take my money but you’ll never take my freedom.

        One never knows when said windmill will need to defend itself from Don Quixote.

      • > One never knows when said windmill will need to defend itself from Don Quixote.

        Nicely put.

        There are enough fossil fuel subsidies to eliminate that we could create a revenue-neutral carbon tax. This resource allocation problem is easy compared to the problem of right-wing populism, but then teh Donald could very help address it.

      • The global economy is worth about $100 trillion a year. To put aid and philanthropy into perspective – the total is 0.025% of the global economy. If spent on Copenhagen Consensus smart development goals such expenditure can generate a benefit to cost ratio of more than 15. If spent on the UN Sustainable Development Goals you may as well piss it up against a wall. Either way – it is nowhere near the major path to universal prosperity. Some 3.5 billion people make less than $2 a day. Changing that can only be done by doubling and tripling global production – and doing it as quickly as possible. Optimal economic growth is essential and that requires an understanding and implementation of explicit principles for effective economic governance of free markets. So what are these laws of capitalism?

        https://watertechbyrie.com/2016/03/11/all-bubbles-burst-laws-of-economics-for-the-new-millennium/

        When I think limits to growth – I think not here and not now. Markets exist – ideally – in a democratic context. Politics provides a legislative framework for consumer protection, worker and public safety, environmental conservation and a host of other things. Including for regulation of markets – banking capital requirements, anti-monopoly laws, prohibition of insider trading, laws on corporate transparency and probity, tax laws, etc. A key to stable markets – and therefore growth – is fair and transparent regulation, minimal corruption and effective democratic oversight. Markets do best where government is large enough to be an important player and small enough not to squeeze the vitality out of capitalism – government revenue of some 25% of gross domestic product. Markets can’t exist without laws – just as civil society can’t exist without police, courts and armies. Much is made of a laissez faire concept of capitalism – but this has never ever been a model of practical economics.

        I learned that from Hayek. Poor wee willie’s economics seems straight out of the socialist planning playbook.

      • Just as I was about to like Chief’s comment, he goes for the cheap and silly sideswipe based of Hayek’s strawman – much both him and Chief made of socialist central planning, it has never been a model of practical economics.

        Hayek is known for two theorical arguments central planning: no institution can know enough and institutions emerge out of some kind of spontaneous evolution. The second argument is more interesting than the first one, as the latter leads to the conclusion that no economic decision can ever be rationally justified. The former argument, however, is also problematic, as it opposes unexplained forces to idealized constructions. While an invisible show of hands might have been plausible in the 30s, contemporary computation theory might very well have vindicated some minimal form of constructivism. To that effect, my own intuition would be that bitcoins refute Hayek insofar as it is both decentralized and constructive.

        Perhaps a more direct refutation would simply be social liberalism.

      • Poor wee willie has a problem with modest government, economic growth, capitalism and democracy. It is a social illiberal disease that is incurable. The vision involves narratives of moribund western economies governed by corrupt corporations collapsing under the weight of internal contradictions – leading to less growth, less material consumption, less CO2 emissions, less habitat destruction and a last late chance to stay within the safe limits of global ecosystems. And this is just in the ‘scholarly’ journals.

        The essential premise of Hayek’s social philosophical is that individual businesses and consumers know better what their priorities are than central planners – whether or not the latter have computers or bitcoins.

        For me it starts with democracy and the rule of law – the hard won freedoms of the enlightenment. To quote from Hayek if I may. For a classic liberal there is a commitment to ‘political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force.’

        The outcome is a social contract – the rule of law – that is compromise arrived at in the cut and thrust of politics. It may be obvious that democracy is the foundation for social progress – but it is always worth restating.

        One critical freedom is economic freedom. Markets need fair, transparent and accessible laws – including on open and equal markets, labour laws, environmental conservation, consumer protection and whatever else is arrived at in the political arena. Optimal tax take is some 23% of GDP and government budgets are balanced. Interest rates are best managed through the overnight cash market to restrain inflation to a 2% to 3% target. This is the core of Hayek’s economic work. It defines the rational limits of government economic decisions. These nuts and bolts of market management are mainstream market theory and keep economies on a stable – as far as is possible – growth trajectory.

        Free people and free markets remain the ideal – despite poor wee willies picayune posturings.

      • > Poor wee willie has a problem with modest government, economic growth, capitalism and democracy.

        Chief wins again, this time by burning down another strawman. While our Freedom Fighters cry minarchist chants, the caravan moves on:

        When excluding World War II (therefore, since 1946), the average increase in government spending was 2.4% under a Democratic President and 2.2% under a Republican President.

        http://www.truthfulpolitics.com/http:/truthfulpolitics.com/comments/u-s-federal-government-size-as-measured-by-spending-by-president-political-party/

        In pictures:

      • And yes central planning has never worked.

      • > central planning has never worked.

        Of course not:

        Source: https://piie.com/research/piie-charts/size-chinas-government-growing

        The consensus on the Washington consensus (a fitting name for ideas developed by South American technocrats) may have been exagerated. Speaking of which, here’s his second key point:

        Redirection of public spending from subsidies (“especially indiscriminate subsidies”) toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment;

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

        Hayek’s anti-socialist argument may not mean what Chief is suggesting.

      • … Uncertainty. The infrastructure and institutions of civil society? Freedom and enfranchisemnt and political agency? Education? Healthcare? Who needs ’em? Only a fool would think they would be indespensible for raising standards of living among the currently empoverishef. .

      • =={ And yes central planning has never worked. )==

        And yet, standards of living have grown exponentially, almost exclusively in association we centralized planning. Funny how that works. Oh, for the days we lived in caves. People were so much better off then, without that infernal centralized planning!

      • Comparisons of spending broken down by political affiliation of the presidency is yet another much abused straw man argument. The GOP has only controlled the entire congress 18 of the last 84 years, mostly with an extreme narrow margin of seats requiring even these majorities to have a great deal of bipartisanship in order for the GOP to advance any policy initiative. By contrast, the Democrats have held the house and senate 56 of those 84 years, much of the time with tremendous majorities. Congress of course controls the purse strings.

        Also, there seems to be profound confusion about knowing the difference between central planning and a centrally planned economy. Hints: the Constitution is a form of central planning, and a social democracy is not the same thing as a centrally planned economy.

      • > there seems to be profound confusion about knowing the difference between central planning and a centrally planned economy.

        Do you even Hayek, bro?

      • > The GOP has only controlled the entire congress 18 of the last 84 years, […] By contrast, the Democrats have held the house and senate 56 of those 84 years,

        Do you even arithmetic, bro?

        ***

        Furthermore:

        The budget for the Department of Education, which candidate Reagan promised to abolish along with the Department of Energy, has more than doubled to $22.7 billion, Social Security spending has risen from $179 billion in 1981 to $269 billion in 1986. The price of farm programs went from $21.4 billion in 1981 to $51.4 billion in 1987, a 140% increase. And this doesn’t count the recently signed $4 billion “drought-relief” measure. Medicare spending in 1981 was $43.5 billion; in 1987 it hit $80 billion. Federal entitlements cost $197.1 billion in 1981—and $477 billion in 1987.

        Foreign aid has also risen, from $10 billion to $22 billion. Every year, Reagan asked for more foreign-aid money than the Congress was willing to spend. He also pushed through Congress an $8.4 billion increase in the U.S. “contribution” to the International Monetary Fund.

        His budget cuts were actually cuts in projected spending, not absolute cuts in current spending levels. As Reagan put it, “We’re not attempting to cut either spending or taxing levels below that which we presently have.”

        The result has been unprecedented government debt. Reagan has tripled the Gross Federal Debt, from $900 billion to $2.7 trillion. Ford and Carter in their combined terms could only double it. It took 31 years to accomplish the first postwar debt tripling, yet Reagan did it in eight.

        https://mises.org/library/sad-legacy-ronald-reagan-0

        Please repeat “but bipartisanship” – Denizens need to be entertained.

      • Willard, centrally planned economies are economies where government either owns the means of production or centrally planned cooperative controls it; such as communism/socialism; whereas central planning can mean many things. The Constitution is a form of central planning. Government of any form on a basic intrinsic level represents some form of central planning.

        A social democracy is not socialism, for example, one of the nations first social endeavors was when the Congress officially created the U.S. military in 1789.

        Willard: > The GOP has only controlled the entire congress 18 of the last 84 years, […] By contrast, the Democrats have held the house and senate 56 of those 84 years,

        Do you even arithmetic, bro?”

        There were split congresses that I don’t count, Willard.

      • Repeating that distinction only shows you don’t Hayek, Mop. No, that’s not correct. It also shows you haven’t paid attention to what I said or shown so far in this subthread.

        Look back at PIIE’s chart. Notice how your distinction makes no difference whatsoever.

        Hayek was addressing a theorical concern that had some currency in the 30s. It now has none. It might be time for Freedom Fighters to let it go.

      • BTW, Willard, did Reagan control all congress at any time during his tenure? Who controls the purse strings? Are you aware that Jimmy Carter deregulated the S&L industry which led to its crash during the Reagan administration?

      • Another JAQing off, Mop? Isn’t that just great? You do realize that your argument amounts to say that the Democrats controlled the government spending during the last century?

        In fact, do you even realize that teh Donald will embiggens the government size even more? That Republicans never downsized the government, that their “small government” brand is a pure scam?

        I bet you do.

      • It’s simply a fact that the Dems controlled congress for 56 of the last 84 years, and when the GOP did have control, it was mostly with narrow margins. Do a little research, it will help you here. There’s no need to get into economic theory to obfuscate an issue when a simple definition suffices.

        Now, I can appreciate there may be a pathology to wearing daisies around ones head for decades, but most common sense people will arrive at a conclusion that the effects from heavier weight will tend to lean to the side of the weight. The Lefts talking points are hefty too, but air is light, even if monolithic.

      • > It’s simply a fact that the Dems controlled congress for 56 of the last 84 years

        It’s rather a cherry-picked fact. This little chart may explain why you picked 84 years.

        Here’s another fact: Republicans controlled Congress 19 of the last 23 years. And here’s another, more relevant one: most economies known to mankind are mixed. Economically speaking, China and the US of A aren’t that different as Freedom Fighters drone.

        The hippie bashing still provided a nice touch, Mop.

      • We should not suppose that the US or China are models of economic rationalism.

        There is an optimal size of government to maximise economic growth. It is about 23% of GDP – including deficits which are a future tax.

        “The assurance of a certain minimum income for everyone, or a sort of floor below which nobody need fall even when he is unable to provide for himself, appears not only to be a wholly legitimate protection against a risk common to all, but a necessary part of the Great Society in which the individual no longer has specific claims on the members of the particular small group into which he was born.” Hayek

        Hayek is not what they imagine. Governments tax and spend on line items agreed to in a democratic process. There are no general principles that limit permissible expenditures. But if they imagine they can plan economies it is inevitably a disaster. Economics is a matter of managing not planning.

        https://watertechbyrie.com/2016/03/11/all-bubbles-burst-laws-of-economics-for-the-new-millennium/

        There are a few warning signals of crashes that make them potentially controllable – primarily hyper growth with positive feedbacks. Long before dragon-kings Friedrich Hayek and the Austrian school of economics developed principles of management of interest rates that are used to maintain price stability (low inflation) and stable economic growth. In monetary policy the Australian government instituted a consumer price inflation target of 2–3 per cent in 1993. This is managed primarily through the overnight cash rate. When the economy is at risk of overheating – the overnight cash rate is increased putting a damper of demand. Conversely – rates are decreased during downturns. Over the period of the target Australia has had uninterrupted economic growth. At the same time we had low government debt, conservative banking practices, a strong democracy, an effective legal system and low levels of official corruption. Growth and stability are as much psychological as technical and flourish during periods of moderate change.

        There a fringe of the extreme left who imagine that they can re-imagine economics. The tedium of the likes of poor wee willie and Josh is fringe and utterly incoherent – they are persistent but just picayune distractions.

      • > We should not suppose that the US or China are models of economic rationalism.

        According to Hayek, there’s no such thing as a rational economic model.

        It’s his freaking point against socialism.

        No wonder Chief wins again, this time with another “extreme left” strawman.

      • Hayek’s economics were about rational management. Markets need fair, transparent and accessible laws – including on open and equal markets, labour laws, environmental conservation, consumer protection and whatever else is arrived at in the political arena. Optimal tax take is some 23% of GDP and government budgets are balanced. Interest rates are best managed through the overnight cash market to restrain inflation to a 2% to 3% target. These nuts and bolts of market management are mainstream market theory and keep economies on a stable – as far as is possible – growth trajectory. The critical project for development is opening up markets for agricultural products. The Copenhagen Consensus found that a deal on the DOHA round of trade talks would make the world richer by $11-trillion by 2030.

        There is an extreme left – you can tell by the background noise as poor wee willie is left floundering.

      • > Hayek’s economics were about rational management.

        Or rather itslimitations::

        What is the problem we wish to solve when we try to construct a rational economic order? On certain familiar assumptions the answer is simple enough. If we possess all the relevant information, if we can start out from a given system of preferences, and if we command complete knowledge of available means, the problem which remains is purely one of logic. That is, the answer to the question of what is the best use of the available means is implicit in our assumptions. The conditions which the solution of this optimum problem must satisfy have been fully worked out and can be stated best in mathematical form: put at their briefest, they are that the marginal rates of substitution between any two commodities or factors must be the same in all their different uses.

        This, however, is emphatically not the economic problem which society faces. And the economic calculus which we have developed to solve this logical problem, though an important step toward the solution of the economic problem of society, does not yet provide an answer to it. The reason for this is that the “data” from which the economic calculus starts are never for the whole society “given” to a single mind which could work out the implications and can never be so given.

        The peculiar character of the problem of a rational economic order is determined precisely by the fact that the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess. The economic problem of society is thus not merely a problem of how to allocate “given” resources—if “given” is taken to mean given to a single mind which deliberately solves the problem set by these “data.” It is rather a problem of how to secure the best use of resources known to any of the members of society, for ends whose relative importance only these individuals know. Or, to put it briefly, it is a problem of the utilization of knowledge which is not given to anyone in its totality.

        This character of the fundamental problem has, I am afraid, been obscured rather than illuminated by many of the recent refinements of economic theory, particularly by many of the uses made of mathematics. Though the problem with which I want primarily to deal in this paper is the problem of a rational economic organization, I shall in its course be led again and again to point to its close connections with certain methodological questions. Many of the points I wish to make are indeed conclusions toward which diverse paths of reasoning have unexpectedly converged. But, as I now see these problems, this is no accident. It seems to me that many of the current disputes with regard to both economic theory and economic policy have their common origin in a misconception about the nature of the economic problem of society. This misconception in turn is due to an erroneous transfer to social phenomena of the habits of thought we have developed in dealing with the phenomena of nature.

      • So here is established the rationale that there is no mind – not even Deep Thought – that can assimilate in one place the billion of decisions that are made every day to produce or consume. I always imagine this ‘mind’ as a dark, gaunt Mephistopheles figure in a high tower declaring that they shall produce that here and consume this here. It always ends up with a shortage of toilet paper. But this is precisely what the extreme left wan’t to try yet again. We’ll get it right this time they say. And pigs may fly.

        The work that led to Hayek’s Nobel Prize is not related despite poor wee willie’s picayune misunderstandings.

        “The Austrian business cycle theory (ABCT) is an economic theory developed by the Austrian School of economics about how business cycles occur. The theory views business cycles as the consequence of excessive growth in bank credit, due to artificially low interest rates set by a central bank or fractional reserve banks.[1] The Austrian business cycle theory originated in the work of Austrian School economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Hayek won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1974 (shared with Gunnar Myrdal) in part for his work on this theory.[2][3]
        Proponents believe that a sustained period of low interest rates and excessive credit creation result in a volatile and unstable imbalance between saving and investment.[4] According to the theory, the business cycle unfolds in the following way: low interest rates tend to stimulate borrowing from the banking system. This leads to an increase in capital spending funded by newly issued bank credit. Proponents hold that a credit-sourced boom results in widespread malinvestment. A correction or “credit crunch” – commonly called a “recession” or “bust” – occurs when the credit creation has run its course. Then the money supply contracts (or its growth slows) causing a curative recession and eventually allowing resources to be reallocated back towards their former uses. ” Wikipedia

        So what happens where the rubber hits the road?

      • > So what happens where the rubber hits the road?

        Social liberalism, which Hayek himself approves. As long as a pricing scheme drives markets, all should be for the best. This is true even for doctors’ wages in so-called socialist countries like – gasp! – Canada.

        Everything else is either negotiable (hopefully in a bipartisan way, as shown by Americans since their Foundation Fathers) or ideological crap, crap which includes for instance Lawson’s monetarism:

        http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/114501

        Hayek’s own Nobel prize should suffice to show that his reputation for being a libertarian champion weren’t mere technicalities, but the result of his constant reminders of the tyrannies he witnessed in his youth.

        http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/1974/hayek-lecture.html

        This reputation is undeserved, considering the safety nets Hayek was ready to allow states to maintain (around p. 130 if memory serves well) the amount of which would put him at the left of Obama.

      • ” This already existing confusion was made worse by the recent attempt to transplant to America the European type of conservatism, which, being alien to the American tradition, has acquired a somewhat odd character. And some time before this, American radicals and socialists began calling
        themselves “liberals”.

        An odd appropriation of Hayek by poor wee willie – it seems a complete and astonishing turn around. From complete crap to socialist hero in the space of a few comments. And I’ll take it as read because I haven’t memorised the complete (un-referenced?) work up to and including p130 at least.

        But where the rubber meets the road is a very much more modest goal of stabilising interest rates and restraining taxing and spending. On the loftier level it is much more about the ideals of democracy and classic liberal freedoms which we find lacking in both conservatives and progressives. Not everything is negotiable.

        “From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.” Friedrich A. Hayek

        Apparently Hayek was to the left of Obama. It goes without saying that this is a unique perspective. Someone less generous than me – from the right or the left – might suspect that poor wee willie has become unhinged.

      • > An odd appropriation of Hayek

        It’s the other way around: Freedom Fighters appropriated themselves Hayek’s arguments. The most obvious reason is that they embrace his ideological crap. A less obvious reason is that they don’t even Hayek:

        [T]here can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody. Indeed, for a considerable part of the population of this country this sort of security has long been achieved.

        Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise
        a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. There are many points of detail where those wishing to preserve the competitive system and those wishing to supersede it by something different will disagree on the details ofsuch schemes; and it is possible under the name ofsocial insurance to introduce measures which tend to make competition more or less ineffective. But there is no incompatibility in principle between the state providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom. To the same category belongs also the increase of security through the state rendering assistance to the victims of such “acts of God” as earthquakes and floods. Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself, nor make provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken..

        Hayek may not have been the libertarian freak (or classical liberal, to borrow Chief’s winning epithet) Freedom Fighters fantasize.

      • Willard: “Republicans controlled Congress 19 of the last 23 years.”

        Your point is actually not very illuminating, Willard. While it’s true the GOP has held congress more in the last couple decades, 12 of those years were when a Democrat held the WH, there were no dynasties where one party controlled all branches of government while also controlling congress with significant margins like the Democrats did for many periods beginning with the New Deal. The most important point about the last quarter of the 20th century was that it ushered in a political impasse as citizens wrestled with the direction of the country and mounting debt.

        Debt, let’s review the Great Recession which is the primary culprit for the massive inflation of U.S. debt. A quick sketch; the genesis for this reaches all the way back to the LBJ administration. During LBJ’s administration the courts reinterpreted and liberalized Glass-Steagall to allow for expansion of certain banking activities; this set into motion roughly 40 years of lending standards erosion. It was these actions that enabled the first mortgage backed security to be created in the early 1970s, by Fannie Mae. More weakening of Glass-Steagall by the courts occurred during the Carter administration, but also legislation, the Community Reinvestment Act. Carter also deregulated the S&L industry which facilitated the S&L crash that occurred during the Reagan administration. Now, while the CRA didn’t cause the GR it played a role by facilitating low income lending practices. Clinton gave the CRA teeth. Banks were threatened with punitive actions if they didn’t meet lending quotas. The kicker: in the early 1990s due to pressures for making loan quotas, the first subprime was created. By the end of the 1990s sub-primes became a standard loan, widely popular, not for just low income loans. These actions greased the skids for the housing bubble as cheap capital became available. Sub-primes packaged with MBS combined with the housing bubble created the perfect storm. The late 1990’s to the crash was simply the end game in motion. The shenanigans on Wall Street was the metastasization from decades of eroding lending standards, a symptom of excess.

      • > While it’s true the GOP has held congress more in the last couple decades, 12 of those years were when a Democrat held the WH, there were no dynasties where one party controlled all branches of government while also controlling congress with significant margins like the Democrats did for many periods beginning with the New Deal.

        I like when Freedom Fighters use words like “dynasties,” Mop. I also like when they move the goalposts. More so when it’s to double down on their cherrypicking.

        So let’s take another look. The all-red lines goes from 1901-1910, 1921-1932, 1953-1954, 2003-2006, and 2017-. The all-blue lines are: 1933-1946, 1949-1952, 1961-1968, 1993-1994, 1977-1980, and 2009-2010. Anyone with a modicum of honesty should be able to see that we’re far from the 84 years of Democrats’ dominance alleged earlier.

        That the Whitehouse had to deal with partisanship would suit my argument just fine. Government size increased whoever was in power, and there’s no perceptible effect of “dynasties” one way or another. So while Republicans were whining about Big Gov since at least Nixon, they never did anything about it. In fairness, one can see that when Democrats are whining about Big Military, the data show otherwise – military spending % has decreased. Heck, even safety nets always increased.

        My own hypothesis is that whining is good for political speeches, while genuine governance requires more prudence.

        Sure, Mop. You can still argue by counterfactual: IF Freedom Fighters truly had a “dynasty,” THEN they would create a minarchy. But I doubt it. Here are some numbers on teh Donald’s promises:

        In the June report Promises and Price Tags, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that his original tax plan alone would cost roughly $9.25 trillion over the course of a decade, while his entire agenda would add $11.5 trillion to the national debt, including interest, by 2026.

        Based on today’s speech – which proposes individual tax rates of 12 percent, 25 percent, and 33 percent instead of 10 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent – [Dodgy Donald]’s new tax plan is likely to cost significantly less. However, the plan is still likely to add substantially to the debt, particularly the plan to cut business taxes, which we previously estimated would cost about $2.55 trillion over a decade.

        The main lesson from past experience is that whatever party’s in the White House, you can expect the government to grow. All you can hope is that the team for which you are rooting will spend according to your own personal preferences.

      • Willard: “most economies known to mankind are mixed. Economically speaking, China and the US of A aren’t that different as Freedom Fighters drone.”

        Who do you think has had the biggest influence on China’s move towards capitalism?

        Big government loving freedom fighters and jumbo shrimp, I like a good oxymoron. “Freedom fighters” is more programming jargon, Willard, it’s a type of romanticist programming, feel good reinforcement language to buttress eco warriors. Just more manifesto jargon.

        At the heart of the völkisch temptation was a pathological response to modernity. In the face of the very real dislocations brought on by the triumph of industrial capitalism and national unification, völkisch thinkers preached a return to the land, to the simplicity and wholeness of a life attuned to nature’s purity. The mystical effusiveness of this perverted utopianism was matched by its political vulgarity. While “the Volkish movement aspired to reconstruct the society that was sanctioned by history, rooted in nature, and in communion with the cosmic life spirit,” 8 it pointedly refused to locate the sources of alienation, rootlessness and environmental destruction in social structures, laying the blame instead to rationalism, cosmopolitanism, and urban civilization.

        The chief vehicle for carrying this ideological constellation to prominence was the youth movement, an amorphous phenomenon which played a decisive but highly ambivalent role in shaping German popular culture during the first three tumultuous decades of the 20th century. Also known as the Wandervögel (which translates roughly as ‘wandering free spirits’), the youth movement was a hodge-podge of countercultural elements, blending neo- Romanticism, Eastern philosophies, nature mysticism, hostility to reason, and a strong communal impulse in a confused but no less ardent search for authentic, non-alienated social relations. Their back-to-the-land emphasis spurred a passionate sensitivity to the natural world and the damage it suffered.

        *Ernst Lehmann, Biologischer Wille. Wege und Ziele biologischer Arbeit im neuen Reich, München, 1934, pp. 10-11. Lehmann was a professor of botany who characterized National Socialism as “politically applied biology.”

        *See Raymond H. Dominick, The Environmental Movement in Germany: Prophets and Pioneers, 1871-1971, Bloomington, 1992, especially part three, “The Völkisch Temptation.”

      • > Who do you think has had the biggest influence on China’s move towards capitalism?

        It’s not a who, Mop, it’s a what:

        In 1978, the farmers in a small Chinese village called Xiaogang gathered in a mud hut to sign a secret contract. They thought it might get them executed. Instead, it wound up transforming China’s economy in ways that are still reverberating today.

        http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2012/01/20/145360447/the-secret-document-that-transformed-china

        My turn to ask a question: who’s the main foreign country that helped Pinochet for his 1973 military coup?

        That should be an easy one, but I’ll give you a hint: it’s the same country that helped him stay in power until 1998.

      • Willard
        “Just about any technological field might meet your conception of a bad investment.”

        WRONG!

        Investments are made expecting a return on that investment.

        Spending on climate change has no such potential return on investment.
        Spending on CO2 mitigation today will not result in any individual or nation in having greater discretionary funds to spend in the future. Spending on CO2 mitigation today removes funds that could be spent on actions that could actually mitigate damage from adverse weather.

        Will the weather be better vs. worse at 480 ppm as compared to 550 ppm?

        By thinking you are investing by spending on CO2 mitigation you are eliminating funds that could have been spent on mitigating damage from adverse weather.

      • > Spending on climate change has no such potential return on investment.

        Pending clarification on what the hell “investing on climate change” might mean, of course it does.

        Please stick to engineering stuff and FUD, RobS.

  43. Increased agricultural productivity, increased downstream processing and access to markets build local economies and global wealth. Economic growth provides resources for solving problems – conserving and restoring ecosystems, better sanitation and safer water, better health and education, updating the diesel fleet and other productive assets to emit less black carbon and reduce the health and environmental impacts, developing better and cheaper ways of producing electricity, replacing cooking with wood and dung with better ways of preparing food – thus avoiding respiratory disease and again reducing black carbon emissions. A global program of agricultural soils restoration is the foundation for balancing the human ecology.

    The key to productivity – to double food resources by 2050 – is restoring soil organic content with 21st century soil science. This enhances water holding capacity and creates a more drought tolerant agriculture – with less downstream flooding. There is a critical level of soil carbon that is essential to maximising the effectiveness of water and nutrient inputs. Global food security, especially for countries with fragile soils and harsh climate such as in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, cannot be achieved without improving soil quality through an increase in soil organic content. Wildlife flourishes on restored grazing land helping to halt biodiversity loss. Reversing soil carbon loss in agricultural soils is a new green revolution where conventional agriculture is hitting a productivity barrier with exhausted soils and increasingly expensive inputs. Restoring soil organic content has the potential to move vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

    The alternative vision involves narratives of moribund western economies governed by corrupt corporations collapsing under the weight of internal contradictions – leading to less growth, less material consumption, less CO2 emissions, less habitat destruction and a last late chance to stay within the safe limits of global ecosystems. And this is just in the ‘scholarly’ journals.

    The future of climate can’t be predicted – and this is quantified using network math. “We construct a network of observed climate indices in the period 1900–2000 and investigate their collective behavior. The results indicate that this network synchronized several times in this period. We find that in those cases where the synchronous state was followed by a steady increase in the coupling strength between the indices, the synchronous state was destroyed, after which a new climate state emerged.” Four times in the last century – it is the fundamental nature of chaotic systems.
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2007GL030288/abstract

    Changes of 10’s of degrees locally have occurred over years to decades. A repetition would be catastrophic by any definition. It theoretically could be triggered by carbon dioxide.

    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/full_page_width/public/Years-before-present-Younger-Dryas.jpg?itok=eL0wDCg-

    There are rational responses and they involve building prosperous and resilient communities with 21st century technology.

  44. That’s very interesting

  45. As I have long argued, the main thing we know about the future is that it will surprise us. We know that there are a wide range of current problems: letting fear of possible – but far from proven – negative impacts of climate change at end-century dominate current policy is neither a sensible nor rational focus for policy.

    What is sensible is to pursue policies which promote enterprise, innovation, resilience and growth of capacity, policies which make us better able to deal with whatever the future brings while also providing immediate benefits. These are fostered by free-market, free-trade, low regulatory, small government environments, but most governments are moving counter to this, including in massive interventions in energy and emissions policies. We are beginning to find out in Australia just how bad the effects of such big-government approaches are.

  46. “The IPCC oversimplifies the characterization of uncertainty by substituting ‘expert judgment’ for a thorough understanding of uncertainty.”

    This may be the key, rather than whether probability is too precise as an expression of uncertainty. There are quite rigorous theories of subjective probability which apply widely. But the key word is subjective. In effect, much of the claimed probability in climate research is subjective, passed off as ‘expert’. There have been some nice examples of this kind of ‘expert probability’ from recent politics. Bayesian poll predictors once hailed for their foresight have converted to objects of ridicule for their failed predictions. Their subjective ‘expert’ probabilities in fact clearly reflected their political preferences, rather than a rigorous self-analysis of the kind demanded by something like de Finetti probability

  47. Berényi Péter

    The bottom line is that the climate system is too complex with myriad uncertainties for simple reductionist approaches to understanding and managing uncertainty to be useful.

    Annual average incoming shortwave radiation is the same for both hemispheres due to a peculiar property of Keplerian orbits. Oddly, annual average absorbed shortwave radiation is also measured to be the same (by satellites) for both hemispheres within 0.1 watts per square meter, in spite of the fact that the Southern Hemisphere has a much lower clear sky albedo (by about 6 watts per square meter, sixty times larger than that). There is no uncertainty about it.

    No computational climate model reproduces this observed symmetry, not even close. Therefore they are falsified, all of them.

    I think this is the kind of question climate science has to focus on. It is called basic research, unfortunately (from a funding perspective) with no immediate policy consequences at all.

  48. I think this is the kind of question climate science has to focus on.

    Amen, but without manna from heaven!

  49. Timescales for detecting a significant acceleration in sea level rise
    “But it is clear that internal climate variability also needs to be taken into account to allow better assessment of any acceleration over the last century that can be attributed to the causes other than natural variability, and to allow detection of such accelerations as early as possible.”

    In the context of a recovery from the LIA, read the above again. Changes over the last century seemed to be presumed natural.

    • I think you’ve placed your reply to a science link to insincerity monster thread.

      But no, they do not presume SLR in the 20th century is natural. It’s a paper from 2014 that she has linked to before in previous science edition threads. Since they closed data, the rate of SLR has been ~4.51 mm/yr.

  50. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that most of you don’t get it. The fundamental mechanism of climate is known. It is like a light switch on which we are steadily pushing. It will eventually flip on – and that’s where Judith’s monster lives.

    The theory suggests that the system is pushed by greenhouse gas changes and warming – as well as solar intensity and Earth orbital eccentricities – past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. Some of these changes have a regularity within broad limits and the planet responds with a broad regularity in changes of ice, cloud, Atlantic thermohaline circulation and ocean and atmospheric circulation.

    Climate in this theory of abrupt change is an emergent property of the shift in global energies as the system settles down into a new climate state. The traditional definition of climate sensitivity as a temperature response to changes in CO2 makes sense only in periods between climate shifts – as climate changes at shifts are internally generated. Climate evolution is discontinuous at the scale of decades and longer. Dynamic climate sensitivity implies the potential for a small push to initiate a large shift.

    The problem in a chaotic climate then becomes not one of quantifying climate sensitivity in a smoothly evolving climate but of predicting the onset of abrupt climate shifts and their implications for climate and society. The problem of abrupt climate change on multi-decadal scales is of the most immediate significance.

    • Robert,

      Do you know about this wonderful resource: –

      http://manhattanprojectvoices.org/

      There’s lots of stuff, but to give a flavour of some of the treasure contained therein, here is a particular nugget: –

      I always find your comments interesting and stimulating, but you are entirely wrong about engineers. In my experience they are the most open-minded, non-dogmatic and innovative group of people of all the various representatives of the human race that I’ve encountered. It goes without saying that they fall short of the ideal that utopians will not compromise upon (except when it comes to themselves).

      • I am an engineer. I said that engineers follow rules – it is just the nature of the game. You operate within established parameters to ensure public safety mostly – change comes up against a lot of inertia.

    • Robert I Ellison: The problem in a chaotic climate then becomes not one of quantifying climate sensitivity in a smoothly evolving climate but of predicting the onset of abrupt climate shifts and their implications for climate and society.

      It isn’t an either/or, at least not on present evidence. Which of the many scenarios from computational and experimental dynamical systems studies is the best analogy (or “are the best analogies”) for the effect of gradually doubling CO2 concentration just plain is not known. And there is no path from there to biological consequences, which require empirical studies not dynamical systems theory.

      • Ghil, 2013, explored the idea of abrupt climate change with an energy balance climate model that follows the evolution of global surface-air temperature with changes in the global energy balance. The plot below originates from work for Ghil’s Ph.D. thesis in 1975 and was reproduced in a 2013 World Scientific Review article to illustrate a dynamic definition of climate sensitivity in a climate system that exhibits abrupt change.

        This shows solutions of an energy-balance model (EBM), showing the global-mean temperature (T) vs. the fractional change of insolation (μ) at the top of the atmosphere. (Source: Ghil, 2013)

        The model has two stable states with two points of abrupt climate change – the latter at the transitions from the blue lines to the red from above and below. The two axes are normalized solar energy inputs μ (insolation) to the climate system and a global mean temperature. The current day energy input is μ = 1 with a global mean temperature of 287.7 degrees Kelvin. This is a relatively balmy 58.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

        The 1-D climate model uses physically based equations to determine changes in the climate system as a result of changes in solar intensity, ice reflectance and greenhouse gas changes. With a small decrease in radiation from the Sun – or an increase in ice cover – the system becomes unstable with runaway ice feedbacks.

        Runaway ice feedbacks drive the transitions between glacial and interglacial states seen repeatedly over the past 2.58 million years. These are warm interludes – such as the present time – of relatively short duration and longer duration cold states. The transition between climate states is characterised by a series of step changes between the limits. It caused a bit of consternation in the 1970’s when it was realized that a very small decrease in solar intensity – or an increase in albedo – is sufficient to cause a rapid transition to an icy planet in this model.

        The analogy is to a greenhouse gas finger pushing steadily on the light switch.

        Carbon dioxide changes change transpiration losses from plants – and terrestrial hydrology. Carbon dioxide changes ocean chemistry. Ecologies are chaotic.

      • Robert I Ellison: Ghil, 2013, explored the idea of abrupt climate change with an energy balance climate model that follows the evolution of global surface-air temperature with changes in the global energy balance.

        It’s a good paper, but it does not derive consequences for a gradual doubling of CO2 concentration over the next century.

        It does not, for example, resolve the unknowns about cloud cover changes.

      • It’s a 1-D model – it doesn’t resolve much at all. Simply illustrates principles using physically based equations.

        I’ll give you a hint – pick door number 3.

      • Robert I Ellison: it doesn’t resolve much at all. Simply illustrates principles using physically based equations.

        That’s close to what i wrote: it illustrates general principles but does not resolve any of the questions posed by the increase in CO2 concentration.

      • The principle is door number 3 and uncertainty. I’m not sure what your point is. But you have been wrong all along – why stop now?

      • Robert I Ellison: I’m not sure what your point is.

        You model can not predict the next 150 years any better than any other model, or tell us when and in what circumstances any of those cusps will appear in the climate evolution. It is analogous to the principle of gravity without either the gravitational constant or the inverse-square law.

      • Yes – absolutely – because we don’t know the end result of a leap in the dark – let’s do it anyway.

        I’d suggest instead a focus on practical responses. Perhaps 21st century energy and agriculture?

      • Robert I Ellison: I’d suggest instead a focus on practical responses. Perhaps 21st century energy and agriculture?

        I agree. How is Ghil’s perspective (which, you may recall, I like) practical?

        The policy debate, which enlivens this discussion more than a debate about the limits of the standard theory at far distances from the Earth, is about anthropogenic CO2: has it raised the Earth mean temperature? Is that bad? Will warming continue? Will that be bad? What can be achieved by a dramatic redirection of investment away from fossil fuels which such fuels remain abundant? Ghil’s perspective says nothing about that.

        Of more immediate interest, with reference to your figure 3. The 1997-1998 el Nino (sorry I forgot how to produce ~) produced a wide swing in Global Mean Temperature (or “was associated” with same) followed until the 2015-2016 el Nino by a plateau that was higher than the previous mean temperature. The 2015-2016 el Nino also produced (or … ) a wide swing in temperature. Does the model predict that the mean following the recent big swing will be higher than the mean of the 15 years before the swing?

        Recent reviews, linked at ClimateEtc, some published in peer-reviewed journals, show that the effects of temperature increase and CO2 increase since the late 19th century have been beneficial to vegetation, including agriculture. Do you agree with that? Will effects continue to be beneficial/harmful, on your reading of the evidence.

    • The fundamental mechanism of climate is known.

      If that were the case, the charateristic equations of that mechanism operating in a complex Hamiltonian system would by now have been chiseled in stone. Instead, what we have is vigorous disagreement over mere verbal narratives and unproven Ph.D. theses.

      • ” Sensitive dependence and structural instability are humbling twin properties for chaotic dynamical systems, indicating limits about which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable. They echo other famous limitations on scientist’s expectations, namely the undecidability of some propositions within axiomatic mathematical systems (Gödel’s theorem) and the uncomputability of some algorithms due to excessive size of the calculation.” http://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709.full

        “The new paradigm of an abruptly changing climatic system has been well established by research over the last decade, but this new thinking is little known and scarcely appreciated in the wider community of natural and social scientists and policy-makers. At present, there is no plan for improving our understanding of the issue, no research priorities have been identified, and no policy-making body is addressing the many concerns raised by the potential for abrupt climate change. Given these gaps, the US Global Change Research Program asked the National Research Council to establish the Committee on Abrupt Climate Change and charged the group to describe the current state of knowledge in the field and recommend ways to fill in the knowledge gaps.

        It is important not to be fatalistic about the threats posed by abrupt climate change. Societies have faced both gradual and abrupt climate changes for millennia and have learned to adapt through various mechanisms, such as moving indoors, developing irrigation for crops, and migrating away from inhospitable regions. Nevertheless, because climate change will likely continue in the coming decades, denying the likelihood or downplaying the relevance of past abrupt events could be costly. Societies can take steps to face the potential for abrupt climate change. The committee believes that increased knowledge is the best way to improve the effectiveness of response, and thus that research into the causes, patterns, and likelihood of abrupt climate change can help reduce vulnerabilities and increase our adaptive capabilities.” https://www.nap.edu/read/10136/chapter/2#2

        The not so new paradigm and the evolving consensus. Scientists who are not caught up are known as dinosaurs for very good reason.

        There is research on these things – it just isn’t featured in the blogs you inhabit. And the best response is to build community resilience in a 21st century agriculture, infrastructure and energy. If we reduced the threat to wild populations – most of which comes from exploitation by impoverished people – that would be a good thing.

      • I suppose you are talking Michael Ghil’s 1973 thesis? Things have moved on considerably. And hand waving about Hamiltonian’s I have seen before.

      • There is research on these things – it just isn’t featured in the blogs you inhabit.

        Amusing! Leave it to a certified blog-denizen whose own research consists solely of Google searches to come up with a purely computational study of “sensitive dependence and structural instability” and a fund-begging “executive summary” as evidence of actual abrupt climate change–while failing to grasp the energy-preserving property of Hamiltonian systems.

        No competent geophysical researcher would make the mistake of accepting his “Door #3” example of jump resonance as having credible bearing upon the behavior of a first-order thermodynamic system devoid of resonance. But that’s what you get in a field dominated by self-promoting carpetbaggers without serious scientific qualifications. I don’t have time for such polemical postures.

      • I am not even sure who he is referring to here. There is a ‘computational study’ using network math and observed ocean and atmospheric indices, there is a review from the NAS on abrupt climate change – by a committee of luminaries in the field – and there is a commentary by James McWilliams on AOS. There are some schematics from Michael Ghil.

        And again he hand waves at Hamiltonians. Hamiltonians are essentially the sum of kinetic and potential energies of particles and energy is preserved are conserved along pathways. Distinct from classical mechanics – in the many-body problem the motion of one particle will vary chaotically due to spatial distribution of other particles in an essentially closed system. It is irrelevant to climate. We are light years away from being able to apply anything of the sort to climate.

        “Finally, Lorenz’s theory of the atmosphere (and ocean) as a chaotic system raises fundamental, but unanswered questions about how much the uncertainties in climate-change projections can be reduced. In 1969, Lorenz [30] wrote: ‘Perhaps we can visualize the day when all of the relevant physical principles will be perfectly known. It may then still not be possible to express these principles as mathematical equations which can be solved by digital computers. We may believe, for example, that the motion of the unsaturated portion of the atmosphere is governed by the Navier–Stokes equations, but to use these equations properly we should have to describe each turbulent eddy—a task far beyond the capacity of the largest computer. We must therefore express the pertinent statistical properties of turbulent eddies as functions of the larger-scale motions. We do not yet know how to do this, nor have we proven that the desired functions exist’. Thirty years later, this problem remains unsolved, and may possibly be unsolvable.” http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1956/4751

        Michael Ghil is an illustrious geophysical researcher. And defining the Earth as a system devoid of resonance is ludicrous.

        I am dumbfounded – we have a clutch of seriously illustrious researchers I referenced – just in this thread – that John waves away with a seriously simplistic narrative and some routine disparagement. These people are leaders in the field – and I seriously doubt that we should defer to John instead. I seriously doubt that John has any qualification or understanding beyond that of a blogospheric climate warrior.

      • Hamiltonians are essentially the sum of kinetic and potential
        energies of particles and energy is preserved are conserved along
        pathways… It is irrelevant to climate. We are light years away from being
        able to apply anything of the sort to climate.

        Lest some readers be mislead by this incompetently narrow view of the scope of Hamiltonian systems, which I invoked for their energy-preserving
        properties that militate against abrupt changes, here is a brief overview:
        http://www.math.colostate.edu/~shipman/47/volume3b2011/M640_LaneHarvard_Schwagger.pdf
        But what is truly amazing here is the lack of any recognition that if “we
        are light years away…” then the fundamental mechanism of climate is NOT
        known. That amazement is only compounded by the invocation of Lorenz’ sage admission that we can only “visualize the day when all of the relevant
        physical principles will be perfectly known.”

        Even lay readers will have no trouble in recognizing that in referring to
        “the behavior of a first-order thermodynamic system devoid of resonance” I
        am referring only to thermodynamic processes. What is truly ludicrous is
        the claim that I’m “defining the Earth as a system devoid of resonance…”
        Mathematically adept readers, of course, will recognize that no resonance
        is possible in systems characterized by first-order differential equations.
        That is precisely the form of basic thermodynamic equations!

        While Michael Gil has indeed become a highly esteemed researcher in
        geophysics, he wrote his Ph.D. thesis at Courant Institute as a
        mathematician. It is in that limited capacity that he explains that jump resonance is possible with certain nonlinear systems. Mere mathematical possibility, however, does not make it physically actual. In fact, random fluctuations are known to quench jump resonance in physical systems.

        Decades later, it’s interesting to see how his views on certainty have evolved:
        http://research.atmos.ucla.edu/tcd//PREPRINTS/Hannart&co-Uncertain_future-2cols.pdf

  51. Forgetting the uncertainties in the science (which are enormous); the uncertainties in the social, political and economic spheres are unknowable. Scientists who claim that some variation in the environment will lead to disaster are selling snake oil. They have less idea than the experts in these fields whose predictive ability is marginal at best over a short time frame. 100 years hence is simple speculation. To claim catastrophe is to ignore human history and technological progress. The most likely scenario at present anyway is a mild 2 degrees rise in temperature which would almost certainly be advantageous. 2 degrees colder would be a whole lot worse. CAGW is pseudo-science at best, and a new religion at worst. The answer to a non-existent problem always seems to be to give governments more power and to transfer funds from developed countries in the West to others whilst limiting their economies. You couldn’t make this up.

  52. This is a discussion going on above. It has to do with the basis of rational responses to building prosperous and resilient communities globally. Economic growth provides resources for solving problems – conserving and restoring ecosystems and soils, better sanitation and safer water, better health and education, updating the diesel fleet and other productive assets to emit less black carbon and reduce the health and environmental impacts, developing better and cheaper ways of producing electricity, replacing cooking with wood and dung with better ways of preparing food thus avoiding respiratory disease and again reducing black carbon emissions. The problem is that poor wee willie abjures economic growth and and mocks democratic, classical liberal freedoms on which it is based.

    It’s the other way around: Freedom Fighters appropriated themselves Hayek’s arguments. The most obvious reason is that they embrace his ideological crap. A less obvious reason is that they don’t even Hayek:

    https://judithcurry.com/2017/05/19/uncertainty-about-the-climate-uncertainty-monster/#comment-849750

    I have quoted this aspect of Hayek’s social philosophy any number of times – but poor wee willie claims that true liberals have usurped his socialist prerogative in supporting a social safety net. With poor wee willie it is all sloganeering about a social conscience – which we lack – without any concrete way of getting there. Apart from hand waving about democratically elected socialists. It seems about as relevant as libertarians.

    Hayek’s social philosophy – grounded firmly in the Scottish Enlightenment – is balanced by the fiscal and monetary responsibility that is the core of the Austrian school – and which led at least partially to his Nobel Prize. Markets provide the resources for government expenditure.

    Markets exist – ideally – in a democratic context. Politics provides a legislative framework for consumer protection, worker and public safety, environmental conservation and a host of other things. Including for regulation of markets – banking capital requirements, anti-monopoly laws, prohibition of insider trading, laws on corporate transparency and probity, tax laws, etc. A key to stable markets – and therefore growth – is fair and transparent regulation, minimal corruption and effective democratic oversight. Markets do best where government is large enough to be an important player and small enough not to squeeze the vitality out of capitalism – government revenue of some 25% of gross domestic product. Markets can’t exist without laws – just as civil society can’t exist without police, courts and armies. Much is made of a laissez faire concept of capitalism – but this has never ever been a model of practical economics.

    Hayek consists of a social contract evolving in the democratic process and some mainstream market management principles.
    It is ultimately less exciting than the revolution of transforming society and abolishing capitalism – but quite likely to better improve global welfare.

    “There are many values of the conservative which appeal to me more than those of the socialists; yet for a liberal the importance he personally attaches to specific goals is no sufficient justification for forcing others to serve them. I have little doubt that some of my conservative friends will be shocked by what they will regard as “concessions” to modern views that I have made in Part III of this book. But, though I may dislike some of the measures concerned as much as they do and might vote against them, I know of no general principles to which I could appeal to persuade those of a different view that those measures are not permissible in the general kind of society which we both desire. To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one’s concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends.” F. A. Hayek

    This is probably an unfamiliar idea to fringe progressives like poor wee willie.

      • Poor wee willie – lost in the land of sloganeering. How many actual libertarians are there anyway? Not nearly as many as the poor wee willie club I’d warrant – even if I wouldn’t join a club that would have willie as a member.

        ‘”“Compulsory charity,” that is, the threat or the use of violence to expropriate the wealth and income of some for the purposes of aiding those in need cannot be morally justified.1 First, expropriation, regardless of its beneficial end, violates the principle of negative human rights or side-constraints. Aquinas states (Summa Theologica II-II q.32 a.7) that when a thing is ill-gotten (for example, through theft), it may not be given away in alms because it must first be restored to the proper owner.”

        Government as theft is an utter nonsense. They would last 10 minutes without police, courts, prisons and armies. And you can’t really pick what you want to pay for and what you don’t in a democracy. Even Republicans love healthcare. Good governance is fairly rare however and I wouldn’t leave it to willie’s cronies for a start.

        Not a big picture sort of guy are you poor wee willie?

  53. Random thoughts on the CAGW

    IPCC ‘Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptationhttps://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srex/SREX_Full_Report.pdf uses emotive adjectives (e.g., disaster, extreme events, catastrophe, danger, serious, threat) throughout the document. This is politics, not rational, objective, unbiased science. Examples of some of these and the number of times mentioned are:

    Disaster: 4,111
    Extreme: 2,555
    Extreme events: 316
    Catastrophe or catastrophic: 155
    Danger or dangerous: 34
    Serious: 34
    Threat: 96

    But these adjectives are usually applied to selected events and types of events. They are not applied to overall harm or benefit for the planet. The benefits and damages of warming are not summed. They use innuendo to imply that global warming would dangerous and catastrophic, or at a minimum, would do more harm than good. But would it? What’s the evidence?

Leave a Reply to Turbulent Eddie Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s