Hearing – Climate Change: The Impacts and the Need to Act

by Judith Curry

The House Natural Resources Committee Hearing on Climate Change will be livestreamed on their Facebook page.

Here is the link to the Hearing page [link], I have no idea if they will post the other written testimonies.

My written testimony is posted at [Curry Testimony House Natural Resources].

Below is text of my verbal comments:

I thank the Chairman, the Ranking Member and the Committee for the opportunity to offer testimony today.

Climate scientists have made a forceful argument for a future threat from manmade climate change. Manmade climate change is a theory whose basic mechanism is well understood, but the potential magnitude is highly uncertain.

If climate change was a simple, tame problem, everyone would agree on the solution. Because of the complexities of the climate system and its societal impacts, solutions may have surprising unintended consequences that generate new vulnerabilities. In short, the cure could be worse than the disease. Given these complexities, there is plenty of scope for reasonable and intelligent people to disagree.

Based on current assessments of the science, manmade climate change is not an existential threat on the time scale of the 21st century, even in its most alarming incarnation. However, the perception of a near-term apocalypse and alignment with range of other social objectives has narrowed the policy options that we’re willing to consider.

In evaluating the urgency of emissions reductions, we need to be realistic about what this will actually accomplish. Global CO2 concentrations will not be reduced if emissions in China and India continue to increase. If we believe the climate models, any changes in extreme weather events would not be evident until late in the 21st century. And the greatest impacts will be felt in the 22nd century and beyond.

People prefer ‘clean’ over ‘dirty’ energy – provided that the energy source is reliable, secure and economical. However, it’s misguided to assume that current wind and solar technologies are adequate for powering an advanced economy. The recent record-breaking cold outbreak in the Midwest is a stark reminder of the challenges of providing a reliable power supply in the face of extreme weather events.

With regards to energy policy and its role in reducing emissions – there are currently two options in play:

  1. Option # 1: Do nothing, continue with the status quo
  2. Option #2: Rapidly deploy wind and solar power plants, with the goal of eliminating fossil fuels in 1-2 decades

Apart from the gridlock engendered by considering only these two options, in my opinion, neither option gets us to where we want to go. A third option is to re-imagine the 21st century electric power systems, with new technologies that improve energy security, reliability and cost while at the same time minimizing environmental impacts. However, this strategy requires substantial research, development and experimentation. Acting urgently on emissions reduction by deploying 20th century technologies could turn out to be the enemy of a better long-term solution.

Given that reducing emissions is not expected to change the climate in a meaningful way until late in the 21st century, adaptation strategies are receiving increasing attention.

The extreme damages from recent hurricanes plus the billion dollar losses from floods, droughts and wildfires, emphasize the vulnerability of the U.S. to extreme events. It’s easy to forget that U.S. extreme weather events were actually worse in the 1930’s and 1950’s. Regions that find solutions to current impacts of extreme weather and climate events will be better prepared to cope with any additional stresses from climate change, and to address near-term social justice objectives.

The industry leaders that I engage with seem hungry for a bipartisan, pragmatic approach to climate policy. I see a window of opportunity to change the framework for how we approach this.

Bipartisan support seems feasible for pragmatic efforts to accelerate energy innovation, build resilience to extreme weather events, and pursue no regrets pollution reduction measures. Each of these three efforts has justifications independent of their benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation. These three efforts provide the basis of a climate policy that addresses both near-term economic and social justice concerns, and also the longer-term goals of mitigation.

This ends my testimony.

Ok, let me tweet this and post on Facebook, then I will head over to the Longworth House Office Building.

I will post some reactions to the hearing once I am at the airport.

113 responses to “Hearing – Climate Change: The Impacts and the Need to Act

  1. Excellent contribution.

  2. Well said. I hope all have open ears and open minds.

  3. “In short, the cure could be worse than the disease. …”

    I never realized this. It’s genuinely frightening. I’m glad you’re a “cure could be worse than the disease” alarmist. Keep ringing that bell.

    • Not only is the cure worse than the disease, the cure is ineffective and there is no disease. What would you do if it was your child? It’s a no-brainer.

    • Very, very rational!!! Let’s hope they listen.

    • It wouldn’t be frightening to you if energy “solutions” made the green planet 14% less green as a consequence of reverting to pre industrial CO2 levels; while at the same time bankrupting modern societies around the globe? There’s more frightening evidence for the before than current forward looking theories for catastrophe caused from doing nothing.

      • The United States has produced bumper crops and fed the world since the days when it was nothing but British colonies. With green stuff.

      • That’s part of my point, what’s yours really?

        Increased CO2 has greened the planet, you seem to want to do away with that because you don’t see any beneficial consequences from AGW. You confirm the greening of the planet is also responsible for productivity and profit. But do you think the greening of the planet has been limited to crops?

      • He probably doesn’t like most of the people who exist because of it.

    • “cure could be worse than the disease”

      Hypochondriacs imagine disease where none exists.

      • And people die every day because they ignored symptoms.

      • And hypochondriacs die every day from feeding perceived diseases and symptoms with drugs that ultimately kill them.

        A colleague of mine died recently from a sudden lung infection. It was discovered that because of his germaphobe nature he would take antibiotics regularly, at the slightest sniffle. It weakened his immune response to the point his body could no longer cope properly with a simple infection.

  4. One of the testimonies will be delivered by an Art Director, I’m sure some lovely pictures will be painted. This will be a real doozie of a hearing.

    I hope they don’t do an end around Dr. Curry when it comes to questions; wishful thinking I’m sure.

  5. Adaptation has replaced mitigation as the most viable alternative given the simple climate math. “No regrets” should be cost-effective emission reductions and not reduction for its own sake that can hurt consumers or burden taxpayers.

  6. You should make the point that, particularly in North America and ChinAsia, recent winter extreme weather is likely a small taste of extremes prior to modern records.

  7. It’s also likely that subsistence farming (most agriculture) productivity growth is dependent on rising emissions, both climate factors and fertilization. And it’s not as simple as CO2 is plant food. It is also food for soil and bacteria. It creates a positive feedback making nitrogen and phosphorus more available (requiring less synthetic fertilizer, which itself inhibits carbon accumulation in soil), adding carbon to soil and making better at retaining water and drought resistant (in addition to the plants themselves becoming more drought resistant).

    The effects are strongest outside of industrial agriculture which grows plants that optimize for carb production (so don’t share as much with soil) and is not constrained by nitrogen and phosphorus availability, so don’t require sharing resources with soil and symbiotic bacteria and fungi. (ie, non-agricultural uptake of CO2 could eventually outcompete agriculture in a low emissions world.)

  8. > “Because of the complexities of the climate system and its societal impacts, solutions may have surprising unintended consequences that generate new vulnerabilities. In short, the cure could be worse than the disease.”

    Some explicit examples would be a good idea and make the case stronger. I’ll start.

    Here in the UK there was a big push for diesel cars a few years ago
    with tax cuts and claims that they were good for the environment, just because the CO2 emissions were a bit lower. This lead to an increase in pollution. Now, nobody wants a diesel car and companies have difficulty selling them. So climate “action” damaged people’s health and damaged the car industry.

    More examples please?

  9. Germany, ideally situated to take advantage of excess hyro capacity from neighboring nations and economical strong to leverage neighboring eastern-European countries to bears the costs ramp-up-ramp-down for variability management hit a wall around 20% wind and solar, and due to aversion to nuclear, now is increasing coal production.

  10. Common ground. Energy security. It probably isn’t a good idea to waste natural gas reserve on base load. What makes it valuable, it’s fluidity, ease to extract and move, makes it cheap in the short run. We should build excess capacity and storage, and operate at the low end, with assurance of capability to ramp up during extended crises. The winters we’ve experience this decade are probably nothing compared to what existed before modern records. We shouldn’t be relying on this one resource for variability, vital heat, and base load power.

    Our renewables levels are well below the level where Germany hit its cost prohibitive wall, we can afford to increase this pretty substantially without putting too much burden on the grid and consumers (with probably remediation for low income persons). This could reduce demand on and extend life of natural gas reserves.

    Rely on primarily nuclear and a small amount of clean coal for baseload power.

    Consider CO2 capture cycling, using CO2 emissions for agriculture and industry.

    • And some NG for baseload too, just don’t overdo it.

      We should be subsidizing reliable excess capacity, a large operating range, and operating at the low end of it..

    • I think the best prospects for long term, low CO2 energy are with next generation nuclear. The Trump administration just caused Bill Gates to cancel or postpone a prototype of his proposed traveling wave reactor in China, where there’s less environmental restrictions. This might be bad news for energy, but it also might have some positive aspects. If you’re worried about energy competition with China, perhaps a test site in this country could be streamlined. There’s no reason this can’t happen. Wind turbines are clearly getting a free pass on killing endangered raptors and bats.

  11. “Acting urgently on emissions reduction by deploying 20th century technologies could turn out to be the enemy of a better long-term solution.”

    I like to make the point that human instincts often don’t serve us well in the novelty of modern world. Good examples are the Titanic, turning, rather than just slowing down, is why it sank. Also, “Don’t Veer for Deer” driving safety campaigns.

    Here’s about the Titanic: https://motls.blogspot.com/2007/08/titanic-risk-eco-morality-two-excellent.html

  12. Dr. Curry: Thanks for bringing sanity to this controversy. Hope the participants carefully and honestly consider your testimony.

  13. Dr. Curry: If it were likely that your voice of reason could calm the shrill chorus of doomsayers who demand that we must Do Something NOW™, regardless of consequences they either cannot or will not foresee, then you probably wouldn’t need to testify in the first place.

    Alas, you will be addressing a panel that comprises scientific illiterates whose agenda precludes rational circumspection. They’ve been enfranchised by a propagandized electorate that expects them to use the powers of legalized coercion entailed by their political clout to forcefully interfere with the lives of those who have not unquestioningly embraced the heavily politicized AGW catastrophe scenario. It’s religion now; challenging it is heresy.

    The upshot is that rational argument is not likely to persuade people whose minds have already bought into conclusions driven by emotion—in this case, fear of catastrophic AGW.

    A better strategy for dealing with the climate change hysteria and its cures that are worse than the disease is to bypass the argument completely. There’s no basis for arguing about the effects of carbon emissions if those emissions are reduced so dramatically that there are essentially no emissions left to control.

    The seeds of such a strategy are contained in your assertion that “People prefer ‘clean’ over ‘dirty’ energy – provided that the energy source is reliable, secure and economical. However, it’s misguided to assume that current wind and solar technologies are adequate for powering an advanced economy.“

    There is one energy source that meets all those criteria, and would reduce anthropogenic carbon emissions to levels that surpass even the most unrealistically optimistic projections of the politically driven command-and-control schemes. That’s exactly what would happen if all of the resources the politicians want to waste controlling human activity were instead dedicated to the development of an infrastructure based on nuclear power generation by integral fast reactors (IFRs).[https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_fast_reactor]

    With an abundance of cheap, clean, safe power, we can produce all the hydrogen we need for any application currently using carbon-based fuels, and in other cases use electric heating directly to replace combustion heating. For all practical purposes, that would be the end of carbon emissions. It would take time to build the infrastructure, and to convert combustion engines to hydrogen fueling, but no less time than it would take to implement carbon reduction targets that are impossible to hit, and aren’t practical anyway.

    Such a strategy turns the tables on those who claim they want to reduce carbon emissions. OK…fine; let’s take them at their word. But why just reduce carbon emissions when we can essentially eliminate them? Then there’s no need for any further argument about whether carbon dioxide from human activity is the path to doom, nor is there any need for cures that might be worse than the disease—such as Bill Gates’ impending scheme to dump reflective garbage into the atmosphere to reduce insolation. Where’s the evidence it won’t have unintended consequences? How does anyone know that won’t precipitate another ice age? Why aren’t environmentalists concerned about that?

    Anyhow, the IFR strategy would place those who might stubbornly continue to insist on the current carbon reduction schemes in the untenable position of advocating increased carbon emissions, relative to what could be obtained by conversion to IFR-based power and fuel generation.

    I would bet that most of the committee members you’ll be addressing have little or no knowledge of IFRs. I respectfully ask you to consider at least mentioning IFRs as a concrete example of an energy source that is inherently safe, “clean…reliable, secure, and economical.” It’s worth a shot, and provides a very specific example, which may give much weight to the more general qualities that everyone says they want in our access to abundant energy, but don’t know how to achieve that result.

    I hope it’s not unduly pessimistic to stipulate that, in general, political committees are inherently unqualified to make rational judgments that are unencumbered by the agendas they serve. That’s precisely why it is futile to approach them as supplicants, trusting in their ability to be persuaded by rational arguments. If rationality were the arbiter in the argument, there wouldn’t even be an argument.

    The fact is that they have framed the argument in terms that justify their foregone conclusions, pre-judged what constitutes evidence, and even controlled the makeup of the participants by deciding who will testify. The only effective strategy is an end run around the entire argument itself. And the only way to do that is to end the carbon emissions, and yank the rug out from under the argument.

    A full-blown commitment to IFRs would do that. Anyone who is a committed believer in reducing anthropogenic carbon emissions ought to be passionately devoted to a strategy that effectively eliminates them.

    • I ran across this interesting video in the comments at WUWT (hat tip to AZeeman):


      There’s some interesting trade offs between hydrogen and batteries:

      Batteries — You get very cheap energy because of high electricity conversion efficiency, but you have limited range because of the low energy density per weight. You also have long charging times.

      Hydrogen — You get expensive energy, because of low conversion efficiency, by a factor of about 8. You have the possibility of a very long range because of hydrogen’s very high energy to weight density, although you have to make extra room for the volume. Some places already have hydrogen filling stations with fillup times similar to gasoline.

      One thing that’s not clear is leakage. How fast do unused lithium car batteries discharge or how long do hydrogen tanks hold the notoriously leaky hydrogen?

  14. Pingback: Cooper on Capitol Hill: Please Shackle NC in the Name of Fighting Climate Change | TrumpsMinutemen

  15. “Given these complexities, there is plenty of scope for reasonable and intelligent people to disagree.”

    Agreed– any scientist should be a skeptic, “To any unprejudiced person reading this account,” Freeman Dyson wrote, “the facts should be obvious: that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide as a sustainer of wildlife and crop plants are enormously beneficial, that the possibly harmful climatic effects of carbon dioxide have been greatly exaggerated, and that the benefits clearly outweigh the possible damage.”

    • Grossly exaggerating benefits?

      • “China and India have a simple choice to make. Either they get rich and cause a major increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Or they stay poor. I hope they choose to get rich. The choice is theirs and not ours. Whatever we may choose to do will not make much difference. The discussions in Paris will not make much difference. The good news is that the main effect of carbon dioxide on the ecology of the planet has nothing to do with climate. The main effect of carbon dioxide is to make the planet greener, feeding the growth of green plants of all kinds, increasing the fertility of farms and fields and forests.”

        ~Freeman Dyson

      • “On the face of it, elevated CO2 boosting the foliage in dry country is good news and could assist forestry and agriculture in such areas; however there will be secondary effects that are likely to influence water availability, the carbon cycle, fire regimes and biodiversity, for example,” Dr Donohue said.

        “Ongoing research is required if we are to fully comprehend the potential extent and severity of such secondary effects.” https://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2013/Deserts-greening-from-rising-CO2

        I remain unconvinced that we know what we are doing.

      • Even among scientific skeptics there should be agreement that CO2 is not a poison. “The extra growth is the equivalent of more than four billion giant sequoias – the biggest trees on Earth.” (BBC– Rise in CO2 has ‘greened Planet Earth’)

        More CO2 results in an increase in a renewable resource! The global warming alarmists should breathe easier knowing that, unless all the alarm is simply a hoax and Leftist-socialist political scare tactic to attack business and capitalism and take over the economy to bring about yet another Liberal Utopia… like we see unfolding in Venezuela.

      • CO2 ‘fertilisation’ is the phenotype response in leaf stomato size and density. The reduction possible with excess CO2 reduces water loss through a reduction in transpiration. This is potentially a benefit in water limited environments. But there are many other limitations to plant growth, impacts on terrestrial hydrology, increased surface temperatures in a reduction in latent heat flux, impacts on fire regimes, changes to plant recruitment… There are complications and uncertainties that are unrecolgnised by Freeman Dyson or the BBC in your quotes. We are changing ecologies – terrestrial and marine – across the planet with unknowable consequences.

        Opposed to that is some increase in autotrophic biomass in water limited environments. Why is this an unmitigated good?

        Rattan Lal estimated that 500 GtC has been lost from terrestrial systems since the advent of agriculture. Carbon is much better returned to soils and ecosystems than in the atmosphere. I come to bury CO2 not to praise it.

  16. I read your testimoney. You mentioned we have no acurate record of the past. We do and it is the Antarctic Ice core. If the Icebergs breaking off the polar ice shelves are 250 meters tjick or less it means we are looking at ice which ass been formed in the last 18,000 years or less. The oceans have begun dropping again.

  17. Judy:
    I listened to most of the hearing – though I missed Dr. Cobb’s testimony. You stood out as the one person averse to hyperbole. On the whole it was pretty painful and must have been more painful to sit through it in person.
    There was a depressing absence of factual knowledge and an abundance of mis-statements and misleading statements including from my own Governor. I am still trying to get my head around one comment I heard that indicated that we have lost 50% of the species that existed before the industrial revolution.
    Finally, some of the Representative were simply rude. Chairman Grijalva could have at least shown common courtesy and also thanked Dr Curry and Mr Hollie – the the absence of the ranking member. That was pretty rude!

  18. Dr. Curry,
    I read your entry and several others. Well done with several others drowning you out with virtue signaling the end of time/do it for the children (do what, I’m not sure). Nothing new there but we now have a friend in the WH. Keep up the good work. RCP8.5 is BS.

  19. Thank you for posting your testimony, Judith. As always, well done. Brava!!


  20. Climate change is a “science” problem.” The impossibility of having a thoughtful and reasoned approach to “climate change” is due to climate change being a wicked problem and advocates’ obstinate and uneducated (in the “scientific sense” fanatics who have little or no understanding of science and the limitations thereof, what you can and cannot say about (their) non factual unproven hypotheses, i.e., only conjectures. “But, he says, …. what if you are wrong?” When you think you can prove me wrong based on results of showing of hands, or an Oxford style debate, you are not proving any point and it does not support any conclusion other than conjecture. I will absolutely prove that such in a “science” proposition such as “man-made climate change,” you can try to infer, or suggest opinions, but not prove / not prove something, based on facts, certainly not in a staged debate. This of course is why the climate consensus so strongly resist having a formal red team – blue team debate … because in the end they are left with having to prove unprovable conjectures. You must justify that damage any caused by taking action makes sense only if you are willing to justify our bearing the consequences of the damage caused by a course of action taken. The noise coming from climate change supporters are based om conjecture and are political and uninformed. Of course if we came up with a theory of everything climate change model that clearly covered all known and unknown variables / causes etc. the situation would be different and there would be no problem of everyone agreeing on a consensus solution.

  21. Sorry you had to answer the Mars question. Ugh.

  22. Whatever the solutions are, they all have to be completed within the next 12 years or the whole thing is moot.

  23. Excellent job.

    Despite all virtue signaling nonsense, there was a good bit of reason which I think prevailed, thanks in large part to you. Not something I ever expect from congress.

  24. I have a request. When I share posts to Facebook from these articles, where a logo or other symbol would be on the share, it is blank. It would be nice if the Facebook share showed the blue thing at the top of this page, or something like that.

  25. “The extreme damages from recent hurricanes plus the billion dollar losses from floods, droughts and wildfires, emphasize the vulnerability of the U.S. to extreme events. It’s easy to forget that U.S. extreme weather events were actually worse in the 1930’s and 1950’s.”

    Well the hurricanes and continental interior drought are worse during a warm AMO phase, which is normal during centennial solar minima. Hence the extreme landfall hurricanes in 1675, 1815-1817, 1886, and 1893, and parts of the Great Plains abandoned for 30 years during the Maunder Minimum as it was so dry. So I see much crying wolf with anti-science on these two extremes, if rising CO2 forcing has a positive influence on the NAO/AO it should in theory inhibit them, but increase extreme tornadoes, which hasn’t happened. Southwest wildfires are fed by El Nino rains that boost the undergrowth that fuel fires when dry by summer, and El Nino conditions increase during centennial solar minima.

    • When the AMO switches to the cold phase, the dynamic of all this will change

      • If, IF, the AMO switches to a cold phase.

      • Mainstream climate scientists will not abandon their CO2-as-control-knob story unless and until the thirty-year running average of global mean temperature turns sharply downward and then remains in a strongly downward trend for another thirty to fifty years.

        The upshot here is that climate change activism will remain a prominent feature of the American political landscape long into the future.

      • Is there a physical basis to believe the ENSO, NAO, PDO, AO and 60 year SLR oscillation will all stop in their tracks at this particular juncture at this particular global temperature? If not, then why should the AMO do so.

        More wishful thinking than anything else.

      • The PDO entered into and completed a negative phase during the 21st century. In terms of reducing sea level or sending the GMST into a downward trend, it failed to do so.

        ACO2 would not let it. So sorry. The PDO is a beast; the AMO, despite a prolonged decadal slowing of the AMOC, and the emergence of an intermittent cold blue blob, has remained positive:

      • Gaze for a moment at the mighty downward deflection the crashing AMO caused in the 2nd half of the 20th century. When I look at this graph I can understand how a bunch of chicken littles are so fearful of the mighty AMO. Just look at that massive temperature drop. Those poor people who lived through that.

      • The AMO should shift to its cold phase with a return of sufficiently higher levels of solar wind temperature/pressure. From analogues at the inter-annual scales, I would expect it to follow a ~69 year envelope, and begin notable cooling from the mid 2030’s, and with the strongest cooling in the mid 2040’s, as like the 1970’s.


      • The 1970’s warmed at .26 ℃ per decade:

        People are simply assuming a whole lot of things about the AMO simply because of graphs.

      • LSD – I see colors
        LSD – I see a 60-year cycle

      • Ocean–Atmosphere Dynamical Coupling Fundamental to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.

        The North Atlantic has shown large multidecadal temperature shifts during the twentieth century. There is ongoing debate about whether this variability arises primarily through the influence of atmospheric internal variability, through changes in ocean circulation, or as a response to anthropogenic forcing. This study isolates the mechanisms driving Atlantic sea surface temperature variability on multidecadal time scales by using low-frequency component analysis (LFCA) to separate the influences of high-frequency variability, multidecadal variability, and long-term global warming. This analysis objectively identifies the North Atlantic subpolar gyre as the dominant region of Atlantic multidecadal variability. In unforced control runs of coupled climate models, warm subpolar temperatures are associated with a strengthened Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and anomalous local heat fluxes from the ocean into the atmosphere. Atmospheric variability plays a role in the intensification and subsequent weakening of ocean overturning and helps to communicate warming into the tropical Atlantic. These findings suggest that dynamical coupling between atmospheric and oceanic circulations is fundamental to the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) and motivate approaching decadal prediction with a focus on ocean circulation.

      • AMO traced since Buchanan was a candidate. Any concrete evidence it wasn’t around when Jamestown was founded? Or before.


      • Something was traced. They do not know what it was.

      • Two regimes of Atlantic multidecadal oscillation: cross-basin dependent orAtlantic-intrinsic


        The Atlantic Multidedal Oscillation (AMO) is a prominent mode of sea surface temperature variability inthe Atlantic and incurs significant global influence. Most coupled models failed to reproduce the observed50–80-year AMO, but were overwhelmed by a 10–30-year AMO. Here we show that the 50–80-year AMO and 10–30-year AMO represent two different AMO regimes. The key differences are: (1) the 50–80-yearAMO involves transport of warm and saline Atlantic water into the Greenland-Iceland-Norwegian (GIN) Seas prior to reaching its maximum positive phase, while such a transport is weak for the 10–30-yearAMO; (2) the zonality of atmospheric variability associated with the 50–80 year AMO favors the transport of warm and saline water into the GIN Seas; (3) the disappearance of Pacific variability weakens the zonality of atmospheric variability and the transport of warm and saline water into the GIN Seas, leading to the weakening of the 50–80-year AMO. In contrast, the 10–30-year AMO does not show dependence on the variability in Pacific and in the GIN Seas and may be an Atlantic-intrinsic mode. Our results suggest that differentiating these AMO regimes and a better understanding of the cross-basin connections are essential to reconcile the current debate on the nature of AMO and hence to its reliable prediction, which is still lacking in most of coupled models.

        The AMO is big and bad it has two regimes. Not just one: 2. In other words, it’s the Pacific. Held – somehow it all flows through the Pacific (the eastern Pacific.) There’s a negative phase for the eastern Pacific. We just went through it. The AMO sagged a bit. Completely insignificant. The GMST sagged a bit. Completely insignificant. The rate of SLR sagged a bit. Completely insignificant. That’s all the AMO can do. It barely did anything during the last negative phase of the AMO, and somehow the bear is going to come back. Lol. Pacific islanders; witch doctors; noses with bones stuck in their noses. Feynman’s airport: cargo cult.

      • Look at the amazing downward trend in the GMST (red) that was caused by the last “negative” phase of the AMO (green.) Oh my gawd, they nearly all froze! Lol.

      • JCH wrote: “There’s a negative phase for the eastern Pacific. We just went through it. The AMO sagged a bit.”


        It looks like the the PDO and AMO have very different responses to large volcanic eruptions.

  26. Why are you omitting expansion of clean nuclear power (no CO2 emitted) as the ideal baseline electric energy option? I speak as a health physicist with 40 years of nuclear experience and expertise in radiation measurement, dosimetry, and risk. The health risks of nuclear radiation have been more extensively studied and are better understood than any other hazardous agent and much less than lay people believe. Ionizing radiation is also simpler to detect and measure accurately at far lower levels than any other hazardous or toxic agent.

    Natural environmental radiation is a feature of the world in which we live. Manmade radiation from all sources, including nuclear power, is minor in comparison. The greatest obstacles to nuclear power are political, not technical or economic or unacceptable risks. If you objectively compare nuclear power with any other large-scale means of energy production in terms of public health and safety, occupational safety or environmental effects it will come out on top.

    Nuclear energy is opposed by many largely out of ignorance and fear of something that the average person does not understand. Other sources of energy are simpler for people to understand and have been around for centuries. But public perceptions of relative risk are very skewed by everyday experience. Familiarity breeds contempt for some risks. Conversely, unfamiliarity and ignorance lead to irrational fear.

    Anyone who claims to be concerned about climate change or about the environmental effects of energy production and who is not an advocate of nuclear power is not a person who has any credibility with me. Option 3: expanding nuclear power, needs to be put into play.

    • I think it’s an alliance of the anti-nukers and the Democrats. It is ignorance, fear and feel good dreams of unicorn energy sources. The anti-nukers are effective. Never relenting. Energy is politics.

  27. What is your reference for this statement:
    Based on current assessments of the science, manmade climate change is not an existential threat on the time scale of the 21st century, even in its most alarming incarnation.
    This is contrary to the most recent IPCC reports.

  28. So, this seems to be the outcome.

    • From what little I have read, there is no there there. It’s a bunch of broad statements without being specific. This would be specific: 25% of all gasoline blends will be ethanol by 2022.

    • I should, in deference to Judith, but I won’t. The first paragraph sounds more like a campaign speech and AOCesque. Some of the rest could have come from the NYT or WAPO. Sorry.
      There, I will now tape my mouth shut.

    • “The rapid expansion of renewable energy across the nation demonstrates a strong appetite for carbon-free, clean power on the part of private homeowners and large utilities alike. Even so, US greenhouse gas emissions were up 3% last year (Rhodium Group, 2019). ”
      I couldn’t find the cost of this renewable energy. No mention of grid stability. That it cannot be dispatched. A unicorn from a scientist. People want, therefore, it will work. Nuclear power? Nope. Afraid.

    • She had an opportunity, like Hansen, to push for nuclear power. To break from the Greens.

  29. Pingback: Common ground? | …and Then There's Physics

  30. Dr. Curry –

    It is so nice to hear a voice advocating careful consideration, prudence, awareness of unintended consequences, and – yes – sanity. Unfortunately, I fear yours is a voice in the wilderness.

    Regards – J

  31. I am far from as sanguine as Judith about the low probability of abrupt change in the system. Climate shifts at decadal to millennial scales with civilization collapsing implications in shifting patterns of flood and drought – and changing trajectories of surface temperature. In addition to a highly uncertain – resistant to quantitative evaluation of risk – proximity to the next major NH tipping point. Nonetheless – there are pragmatic responses not to emissions as such but in reducing risk in the context of building prosperous and resilient communities in vibrant landscapes.

    No regrets is illustrated by the smart development agenda of the Copenhagen Consensus. Each of the 19 goals has benefit/cost ratios in excess of 15. Most have emissions implications. Far from regrets there is every opportunity to build thriving communities, economies and environments.


    But 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 benefits. 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.

    And no – there is no bilateral response possible. There are fundamentally incompatible values. Economically the world is locked into a growth cycle – despite any and all reservations and interventions.  A high growth planet brings resources to solve people and environment problems.  The clearest way to economic growth is markets – and the biggest risk is market mismanagement.

    HELE coal plants in Asia and Africa – where most emission increases are coming from – are clearly no regrets with a 10% reduction in carbon emissions and elimination of almost all particulate, sulfur and metals pollution.

    New materials and fuel cycles bring nuclear technology into the 21st century. Modular reactors are being built – and many more advanced designs are in development and licencing.


    Historically, the soil carbon pool has been a major source of atmospheric carbon dioxide with likely more than 80 GtC lost from grazing and cropping lands. The transfer of soil carbon to the atmosphere has created a carbon deficit in agricultural soils. Soils now contain a lower organic content than before conversion to agriculture. In many regions it has led to a spiral of decline to desertification. The rich ecology of living soils – fungi, insects, bacteria, vegetation – in a highly productive symbiosis gives way to bare earth.

    Carbon sequestration in soils has major benefits in addition to offsetting anthropogenic emissions from fossil fuel combustion, land use conversion, soil cultivation, continuous grazing and cement and steel 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. uts.

    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.

    There are ways to a bright future for the planet, its peoples and its wild places – but these need to be consciously designed in a broad context of economics and democracy, population, development, technical innovation, land use and the environment.

  32. Bipartisan support seems feasible for pragmatic efforts to accelerate energy innovation, build resilience to extreme weather events, and pursue no regrets pollution reduction measures.

    This is not the case in Australia, or in much of the western world.

  33. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #347 | Watts Up With That?

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  35. AMOC is now turning,as is obvious to constant observers. Cod species distribution are a tell-tale. As with PDO and Salmon. Brett

  36. Judith: Thank you for your persistence in presenting skeptical views about the IPCC “consensus” on climate change. However, I’m always deeply concerned and confused when you make natural climate variability the centerpiece of the “climate knowledge gap”. Here is why (respectfully).

    First, one doesn’t need any knowledge of warming over the past half-century OR ITS CAUSE to conclude that radiative forcing (which has been rising at a rate of about 0.4 W/m2/decade) is going to produce some warming. Radiative forcing comes from applying quantum mechanics to the well-studied interactions between GHGs and radiation and warming comes from the law of conservation of energy. The question is not whether rising GHGs cause any warming; the question is how much. Natural climate variability doesn’t provide ANY answer to the “how much” question.

    Second, the amount of equilibrium warming that results from radiative forcing depends on how much addition LWR our planet emits and SWR our planet reflects per degC of surface warming – the climate feedback parameter. Natural climate variability isn’t important here either. AOGCMs do a lousy and mutually inconsistent job of reproducing the the changes in OLR and OSR we observe from space. Natural climate variability provides no useful information about the climate feedback parameter and therefore climate sensitivity.

    Third, in the long run, natural variability is an issue which appears guaranteed to lose. For five years, I read nearly monthly reports on a lengthening Pause – which I was confident would end with the next strong El Nino. Today, the warming rate for the past half-century is essentially the same as the warming rate for the three decades preceding the Pause. In the mid-90’s, the putatively-forced warming of the past three decades was comparable to the unforced warming of the three decades ending in 1945. Today we are looking at a HALF-CENTURY of warming totaling 0.9 K, about 3-fold larger than our clearest precedent for unforced variability. With increasing radiative forcing and committed warming, the situation is likely to get worse in the next decade. The same thing is true about the MWP. The hockey stick was great for demonstrating the corruption in climate science However, if the peak warmth of the ill-defined MWP hadn’t been exceeded when the hockey stick was first published (using proxies that ended a decade or two earlier), the MWP was likely exceeded by the 0.4 K of warming that has followed. Or will be in the next decade. Or two.

    Fourth, Unforced variability cuts both was: If unforced variability could have added 50% to forced warming, it is equally possible that unforced cooling could have negated a 33% of forced warming.

    Fifth, the consensus response to the strongest issue skeptics have – the acknowledged low climate sensitivity of energy balance models – is to claim that unforced variability is responsible for the disagreement between AOGCMs and EBMs.

    • Judith wrote in her testimony: “…we do not have sufficient understanding to project future solar variations, future volcanic eruptions, and decadal to century variations in ocean circulations.”

      Unfortunately, I personally find it difficult identify any events in the proxy record that would significantly change the IPCC’s projections (if ECS is 3 K or greater). Can anyone suggest any past events that I should investigate that might change this impression?

      While writing this, I looked in more detail at the Greenland ice core record for the last millennium. To a first approximation, if any key event didn’t occur once in the last millennium, the chances of it occurring in the next century are below 10%. (For events lasting many centuries like the LIA and MWP, this approximation isn’t appropriate, but the last millennium contains these events and they appear representative of what has been observed for the last ten millennia.

      Weissbach et al (2016) has a plot with 15 Greenland ice cores with major volcanos clearly marked. Volcanic forcing lasts for too short a period to produce more than 0.5 K change in temperature smoothed over 30 years, so even the largest volcanos in the millennium are trivial compared with the warming the IPCC projects for the next century. As Willis has pointed out many times in his “Spot the Volcano” series of posts, even the largest volcanos are hard to distinguish from short-term natural variability, especially local variabilty. In Figure 5, the full range of the North Greenland (NG) composite represents a temperature difference of 3.6 to 8.1 K, far larger uncertainty than I realized before reading carefully. One might divide this dynamic range in half (half cooling, half warming). Then we need to ask if these were regional or global events and perhaps divide the amplitude in half again to correct for polar amplification of global warming in Greenland. The biggest warming (1400-1450) does not appear to have been global, but the second biggest 950+/-25 years is a small fraction of the MWP. The IPCC says an MWP existed in many locations, but not at the same time.

      Weissbach, et al Climate of the Past, 12 , pp. 171-188 . doi: 10.5194/cp-12-171-2016

      As best I can tell, natural variability seen in the shift from the MWP to LIA isn’t enough to “save us” from the warming projected by the IPCC high climate sensitivity AOGCMs. And we don’t know when such variability is coming or whether it will be cooling or warming.

      The Greenland record for 10 centuries while the last ice age was ending clearly support Judith’s position that climate change is likely to be dominated by chaos. The delayed warming in Greenland compared with Antarctica, the sudden shift to warming and re-cooling (Younger Dryas) and reversal to warming. If chaos of this type is what rising CO2 is going to bring, that could be worse than what the IPCC projects.

      • Thank you Franktoo. What you write seems plausible to these ignorant eyes. It’s a little surprising that there has been no response.

    • “In summary, although there is independent evidence for decadal changes in TOA radiative fluxes over the last two decades, the evidence is equivocal. Changes in the planetary and tropical TOA radiative fluxes are consistent with independent global ocean heat-storage data, and are expected to be dominated by changes in cloud radiative forcing. To the extent that they are real, they may simply reflect natural low-frequency variability of the climate system.” IPCC TAR

      Discussions of surface temperature variability cannot be informative without integrating into consideration ocean heat and top of atmosphere radiative flux data.


      And then confirming how real it is using 21st century data?

      It is an all too convenient story that Frank has. Models don’t do internal variability – and the lack of verisimilitude may suggest more than half of recent (40 year) warming was natural. And by extrapolation – much of the warming since the LIA.


      Once the source of recent warming is found – in the context of the evolution of the Earth system in dynamical complexity as abrupt shifts between regimes – emergent chaotic behavior – much falls into place.


      Nor can model opportunistic ensembles be definitive. “Lorenz was able to show that even for a simple set of nonlinear equations (1.1), the evolution of the solution could be changed by minute perturbations to the initial conditions, in other words, beyond a certain forecast lead time, there is no longer a single, deterministic solution…” https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rsta.2011.0161

      But that’s a story about limitations to the expectations of science – not just Frank’s..

    • The hypothetical carbon dioxide back radiation, surface warming effect, has been absent across the southern hemisphere for thirty years in the month of January. Carbon dioxide is well mixed, and it’s supposed effects should manifest across and around the entire globe in every month of the year. It doesn’t go on holiday for Christmas.

      In the world of science, a single exception invalidates a hypothesis.

      Here is the data for the southern hemisphere. In January, the average temperature by the decade:
      1979-88 was 17.71°C,
      1989-98 was 17.42°C,
      1999-2008 was 17.5°C
      2009-18 was 17.69°C

      Source of data: https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries.pl?ntype=1&var=Air+Temperature&level=1000&lat1=0&lat2=-90&lon1=0&lon2=360&iseas=0&mon1=0&mon2=11&iarea=1&typeout=1&Submit=Create+Timeseries

      This realization should kill the AGW hypothesis.

  37. Probably a simplistic question. What percentage of the electromagnetic radiation wavelengths entering the atmosphere, that can be absorbed and re-emitted by CO2, are actually captured by CO2 molecules?