Four fronts for climate policy

by Judith Curry

“For decades, scientists and policymakers have framed the climate-policy debate in a simple way: scientists analyse long-term goals, and policymakers pretend to honour them. Those days are over. Serious climate policy must focus more on the near-term and on feasibility.” – Y. Xu, V. Ramanathan, D. Victor

On twitter, Joe Duarte drew my attention to an editorial published in Nature: Global warming will happen faster than we think.

No surprise that the article sounds the ‘alarm’, accelerated warming, speeding freight train, and all that.

Towards the end of the article, the authors make some very astute recommendations regarding climate policy, which is reproduced in its entirety:

Four Fronts

“Scientists and policymakers must rethink their roles, objectives and approaches on four fronts.

Assess science in the near term. Policymakers should ask the IPCC for another special report, this time on the rates of climate change over the next 25 years. The panel should also look beyond the physical science itself and assess the speed at which political systems can respond, taking into account pressures to maintain the status quo from interest groups and bureaucrats. Researchers should improve climate models to describe the next 25 years in more detail, including the latest data on the state of the oceans and atmosphere, as well as natural cycles. They should do more to quantify the odds and impacts of extreme events. The evidence will be hard to muster, but it will be more useful in assessing real climate dangers and responses.

Rethink policy goals. Warming limits, such as the 1.5 °C goal, should be recognized as broad planning tools. Too often they are misconstrued as physical thresholds around which to design policies. The excessive reliance on ‘negative emissions technologies’ (that take up CO2) in the IPCC special report shows that it becomes harder to envision realistic policies the closer the world gets to such limits. It’s easy to bend models on paper, but much harder to implement real policies that work.

Realistic goals should be set based on political and social trade-offs, not just on geophysical parameters. They should come out of analyses of costs, benefits and feasibility. Assessments of these trade-offs must be embedded in the Paris climate process, which needs a stronger compass to guide its evaluations of how realistic policies affect emissions. Better assessment can motivate action but will also be politically controversial: it will highlight gaps between what countries say they will do to control emissions, and what needs to be achieved collectively to limit warming. Information about trade-offs must therefore come from outside the formal intergovernmental process — from national academies of sciences, subnational partnerships and non-governmental organizations.

Design strategies for adaptation. The time for rapid adaptation has arrived. Policymakers need two types of information from scientists to guide their responses. First, they need to know what the potential local impacts will be at the scales of counties to cities. Some of this information could be gleaned by combining fine-resolution climate impact assessments with artificial intelligence for ‘big data’ analyses of weather extremes, health, property damage and other variables. Second, policymakers need to understand uncertainties in the ranges of probable climate impacts and responses. Even regions that are proactive in setting adaptation policies, such as California, lack information about the ever-changing risks of extreme warming, fires and rising seas. Research must be integrated across fields and stakeholders — urban planners, public-health management, agriculture and ecosystem services. Adaptation strategies should be adjustable if impacts unfold differently. More planning and costing is needed around the worst-case outcomes.

Understand options for rapid response. Climate assessments must evaluate quick ways of lessening climate impacts, such as through reducing emissions of methane, soot (or black carbon) and HFCs. Per tonne, these three ‘super pollutants’ have 25 to thousands of times the impact of CO2. Their atmospheric lifetimes are short — in the range of weeks (for soot) to about a decade (for methane and HFCs). Slashing these pollutants would potentially halve the warming trend over the next 25 years.”

JC reflections

Although these recommendations come from a position of ‘alarm’, I agree with each of these recommendations, since each can be justified in terms of ‘no regrets’ actions.

I most particularly agree with the first recommendation on focusing on climate variability/change over the next 25 years.  This is the time scale that is of greatest relevance for city/regional planning and for industry/enterprise.  While recognizing the key importance of natural climate variability on this time scale, the authors miss what is likely to be the most significant event during this period: a transition to the cold phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.

The second recommendation recognizes the farce of the current international policy on emissions reductions.

Adaptation makes a lot of sense, and the adaptation objectives are mostly the same whether the cause of the extreme events or trend is caused by humans or nature.

And finally, the climate rapid response plan.  I don’t know why this hasn’t received more traction, particularly related to soot.

102 responses to “Four fronts for climate policy

  1. New York’s mayor wants to spend $10 billion to save Wall Street from disastrous flooding, but some people are skeptical

    By elevating parts of a newly constructed landfill about 20 feet above sea level, de Blasio hopes to protect vital pieces of infrastructure, including utilities and subway lines.

    Finally realizing that there are no short-term magic-bullet solutions. 20 feet seems high but maybe it’s the starting bid in a negotiation.

    • Better he fixes an actual problem, like their godawful subway system.


    • $10 billion is about 400,000 cubic feet of dollar bills, so his request should be enough to form a cash barrier 20 feet high, 1800 feet long, and 11 feet thick.

      I don’t know why someone would want to build a levee that way, since it would make our Mississippi and associated levees cost $110 trillion, but its New York City, and they don’t think like normal people.

      • Nice logic , maybe “the wall” should be analysed in the same way. From the numbers I’ve heard it would probably be cheaper to build it from dollar bills.

        It would also solve the migration crisis because they could come and grab US taxpayer dollars directly at the border instead of needing to battle to get in.

      • (now that’s funny… ☺️)

  2. I spotted this. The height is driven more by storm surge than by the predicted global mean sea level rise. Ocean circulations and tides also contribute to SLR variability.

    • curryja | March 25, 2019 at 10:48 am |

      I spotted this. The height is driven more by storm surge than by the predicted global mean sea level rise. Ocean circulations and tides also contribute to SLR variability.

      I’m sorry, but that makes no sense. The current barriers in NYC are generally not being overtopped, and that is INCLUDING 100% of the current contributions from storm surge, ocean circulations, and tides.

      So what NEW phenomena are going to drive the water up twenty feet?


    • If NOAA’s Sea Level Trends – NOAA Tides & Currents are correct it doesn’t appear that sea level rise around New York city will be much, if any, of a problem for the foreseeable future. Storm surges, although not predictable, and always weather related, could be more easily mitigated. All it takes is money..

  3. I most particularly agree with the first recommendation on focusing on climate variability/change over the next 25 years. This is the time scale that is of greatest relevance for city/regional planning and for industry/enterprise.

    That ’25 years’ of government planning, taking the country in a wrong direction at the expense of respect for individual liberty because of an unverifiable obsession with climate change, can also have a lasting negative effects on the wealth building opportunities of an entire generation and ultimately, the financial wellbeing of a nation.

    • Wag, i actually think that the greens have stumbled backwards into the truth on this one. Any time that you diversify sources of energy you have a better chance at wealth building. Today here in the states the unemployment rate stands at 3.8%, a near fifty year low, and inflation a mere 1.6%. Those are excellent numbers! Thanks, no doubt in part, to the relatively cheaper cost of energy on the whole. The one thing that we learned from the Carter/ Reagan years is that the diversification of energy sources keeps energy costs, and hence the cost of doing business, down. Under Reagan we witnessed a shift in the sources of energy from just being OPEC (which doomed my man Jimmy) to domestic sources as well as central & south america and the former soviet union. i think any obsession with energy is a good thing economically. The only thing, i suppose, that we have to be careful of is that it is a good thing ecologically as well…

      • United States Inflation Rate Lowest since 2016

        Consumer prices in the United States increased 1.5 percent year-on-year in February of 2019, following a 1.6 percent rise in January and below market expectations of 1.6 percent. It is the lowest inflation rate since September of 2016, mainly due to a fall in cost of gasoline and clothing while prices of electricity stalled. On a monthly basis, consumer prices went up 0.2 percent after a flat reading in January, matching forecasts. It is the first monthly rise in the CPI, due to prices of food, gasoline and rents. ~ Trading Economics

        Inflation stands at 1.5%. (been a while since i checked… ☺️)

      • The cost of energy is just one of many factors of production and, as see unveiling in Venezuela, not the most important factor.

  4. Along the lines of this post, and to the point about rethinking climate policies, the Dutch are providing an example. One reviewer states:

    “Why should the wisdom of Dutch climate policy be of concern to anyone besides Dutch taxpayers? At this moment all developed countries are entering a new phase in their climate policies. They are moving beyond broad reduction targets and temperature goals to the nitty-gritty of real climate measures and tough choices. The debate is not anymore about whether to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or even by how much, but how.

    From this point on there are still many different roads into the future. The Dutch example is instructive because we are talking about a wealthy, urban, industrialised country – a self-proclaimed climate leader within the European Union. A country moreover that has decided to phase out the use of “unabated” natural gas for the sake of the climate. Yet its climate policies for cutting greenhouse gas emissions are full of flaws.”
    Article is here:
    My Synopsis and additional material:

  5. I’ll take the other side regarding the first recommendation.

    “Policymakers should ask the IPCC for another special report, this time on the rates of climate change over the next 25 years. The panel should also look beyond the physical science itself and assess the speed at which political systems can respond …”

    IMO this is daft for two reasons. First, the IPCC’s reports have provided a useful basis for discussion, but I see no reason to assume that more is better. The SREX was ignored by alarmists. The SR1.5 was an exercise in hubris, and seems to have had little effect on the public policy exercise.

    Second, there is no reason to assume that the IPCC has any expertise in assembling a social science project such as this. Nor is there any reason to believe that the social sciences are capable of producing reliable findings about “political systems.”

    The IPCC’s Working Group One reports are generally considered sound work, albeit (like everything) biased. The second and third WGs overflow with speculative analysis, often treating the work of immature sciences (such as economics) as if they were physics. This proposal would take the IPCC one step further into irrelevance.

    • David Wojick

      SR1.5 is the basis for the Green New Deal so in that sense it has had considerable impact, mistaken though it is.

      • David,

        “SR1.5 is the basis for the Green New Deal …”

        I believe that is not correct. Proposals for a Green New Deal go back to 2007. The Green New Deal Group published its report in 2008, along with favorable mention by the UN Environment Programme. Reports and proposals for it have come in bursts, like confetti, since then.

        A GND has been on the platform of the Green party for a decade. A GND was a core of the Green Party presidential campaign of Jill Stein – and part of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 platform. Support built on the Left during the next two years.

        The current round was kicked off in early 2018, before SR1.5. Data for Progress published their report in Sept 2008.

        Proposals for a 1.5 limit go back to 2008. They went mainstream in 2011, when in 2011, when Christiana Figueres (executive secretary of the UNFCCC) said “If we are not headed to 1.5C we are in big, big trouble.”

        It was, of course, the core of the 2015 Paris agreement.

      • David Wojick

        Larry, I am talking about AOC’s GND, arguably the only one that counts, which is clearly anchored in the IPCC 1.5 report, as are many other proposals. The 1.5 report has become the new spear point for alarmism, just as I predicted it would. It is everywhere one looks.

      • David,

        “I am talking about AOC’s GND”

        The Democratic Party coalition has been working on the GND for a decade, and has devoted much effort into it. There is no “AOC’s GND.” She just endorsed the existing proposal, which already had broad support on the Left. Personalizing it as AOC’s is trivializing it.

        “which is clearly anchored in the IPCC 1.5 report, as are many other proposals.” AND “SR1.5 is the basis for the Green New Deal”

        As I showed above, the GND proposals had reached mature form before the IPCC’s SR1.5 report came out. AOC’s proposal has one sentence mentioning the IPCC. It never mentions the 1.5C target.

        AOC gives little evidence of having read SR15, let alone understanding it. Her big reference to it is saying ” ‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change …” – which isn’t in SR1.5.

      • “This proposal would take the IPCC one step further into irrelevance.”

        Anything which takes IPCC one step further into irrelevance should be supported enthusiastically !

  6. David Wojick

    Adaptation is not no regrets if we spend huge sums to prepare for what does not happen. Protection is a good thing but adaptation to mistaken projections is quite another. They seem to be calling for the latter, not the former.

    More broadly, this article is simply foolish. It assumes science that does not exist and policies that should not exist.

  7. “Third, there are signs that the planet might be entering a natural warm phase that could last for a couple of decades. The Pacific Ocean seems to be warming up, in accord with a slow climate cycle known as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation7. This cycle modulates temperatures over the equatorial Pacific and over North America. Similarly, the mixing of deep and surface waters in the Atlantic Ocean (the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation) looks to have weakened since 2004, on the basis of data from drifting floats that probe the deep ocean8. Without this mixing, more heat will stay in the atmosphere rather than going into the deep oceans, as it has in the past.”
    The above quote from the Nature link.
    But Judith references the cold phase of the AMO approaching.

    So we have a battle for dominance from 2 natural variability sources and CO2.

    The track record for apocalyptic predictions in the 40 years is not the most impressive.

    • Third, there are signs that the planet might be entering a natural warm phase that could last for a couple of decades.

      This is incorrect. IPO is essentially an ENSO multidecadal envelop. ENSO activity is under solar control that for the next couple of decades is still going to be below average. Therefore the next decade and a half should be like the 2002-2014 period, dominated by La Niña conditions. AMO is the main manifestation of the 65-yr Northern Hemisphere internal variability cycle, with teleconnections to the SH. We are entering its down phase. Predictions of a couple of decades warm phase reveal a very poor understanding of natural climate change mechanisms. For the first time since 1900 there is a coincidence in low solar activity and down phase in the 65-yr oscillation. Global warming is impossible under such conditions. That’s why the huge 2016 El Niño has failed to have a lasting impact. There is no subsurface heat left in the Pacific for another one as there hasn’t been a replenishment. The current Niño due to the solar minimum will soon peter out and will be substituted by a 2-year Niña. CO2-induced warming is no rival for natural climate change.

      • That quote was from the Nature link Judith provided. I addressed other parts of the Nature paper below in my comments.

        My general criticism was that this is another example of leaders in the scientific community taking on behavior more befitting activists in the media when they use forest fires and so called extreme weather as proof of AGW.

        The data don’t support their claims.

      • Yes, I know. I agree with what you said and was just answering to the quote. We must not expect two decades of warming because it contradicts what we know about natural forcings and internal variability.

        If we get two decades of warming at ≥ 0.12 °C/decade I’ll have to rethink what I have learned about climate because all my hypotheses would be wrong. I am not like the IPCC, if I am wrong I assume my hypothesis was faulty. The solar + oceanic oscillation hypothesis relies on no warming until ~2035.

      • The instrumental IPO traces shifts at decadal scales in the fractionaly dimensioned state space occupied by the Pacific subsystem.

        There may be a solar trigger to the lower frequency internal modes – the Hale cycle of solar magnetic reversal has been suggested. Predictable?

      • The instrumental IPO traces shifts at decadal scales in the fractionaly dimensioned state space occupied by the Pacific subsystem.

        A fancy way of saying that it reflects ENSO decadal frequencies.

        There may be a solar trigger to the lower frequency internal modes – the Hale cycle of solar magnetic reversal has been suggested. Predictable?

        Like weather, good knowledge of what is involved improves predictability. It never becomes fully predictable.

      • But it is not just ENSO. And weather is pronlematic beyond a week or so. Probabilistic at best because of sensitive dependence in models and deterministic but seemingly random changes in weather. Predicting low frequency climate shifts – which is what is under discussion – is as accurate as tossing a coin (Mojib Latif).

      • It is a loaded coin, and you can make a lot of money betting on a loaded coin.

      • A poor analogy. It is more like a trigger that you squeeze slowly until it goes bang. Predicting when is currently as accurate as tossing an unloaded coin.

      • So you think.

      • “The report does not focus on large, abrupt causes—nuclear wars or giant meteorite impacts—but rather on the surprising new findings that abrupt climate change can occur when gradual causes push the earth system across a threshold. Just as the slowly increasing pressure of a finger eventually flips a switch and turns on a light, the slow effects of drifting continents or wobbling orbits or changing atmospheric composition may “switch” the climate to a new state. And, just as a moving hand is more likely than a stationary one to encounter and flip a switch, faster earth-system changes—whether natural or human-caused—are likely to increase the probability of encountering a threshold that triggers a still faster climate shift.” NAS 2002

        If I do have an original thought – I look for people who got their first. But nothing personal – I regard pretty much any prognostication as simplistic nonsense.

      • So you think. Yet we can predict the coming of the seasons, and we know the orbital changes that cause glaciations and interglacials. So there is prediction at both ends of the temporal scale. You just don’t believe in prediction in the middle, but have no evidence why it is not possible.

      • “We have taken a major step forward in terms of short-term climate forecasting, especially with regard to the development of global warming. However, we are still miles away from any reliable answers to the question whether the coming winter in Germany will be rather warm or cold.” Prof. Latif cautions against too much optimism regarding short-term regional climate predictions: “Since the reliability of those predictions is still at about 50%, you might as well flip a coin.”

        Seasons are not constant – and nor is the global response to orbits a cause of glacials and interglacials – if perhaps a necessary condition sometimes.

        The ’cause’ – although in chaos there is no simple cause and effect – seems to involve AMOC.

        “The climate system has jumped from one mode of operation to another in the past. We are trying to understand how the earth’s climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change… Over the last several hundred thousand years, climate change has come mainly in discrete jumps that appear to be related to changes in the mode of thermohaline circulation.” Wally Broecker

        But it is you who have no evidence for your ENSO predictions based solely on the solar cycle. While in the longer term the sun may be involved in modulating polar surface pressure – the subsystem has its own resonant frequencies that obscure connections at the scale of the Schwabe cycle. Nor do you have any notion of lower frequency shifts in Pacific state.

        Now there may indeed be a Hale cycle influence on the 20 to 30 year periodicity.

        There are more questions than answers as can be seen – and that’s the fun bit.

        The next phase of ENSO must be La Nina given the physical state of the ocean currently – when depends on upwelling and consequent feedbacks in the east.

        While you imagine there is predictability in any of this – given as well anthropogenic changes and nonlinear internal response – then I will continue to not believe it.

      • Javier,
        I have come to respect your opinions especially about the coming little ice age 2 and the long series of ice ages.

        What do you think is the result of the AMO cooling along with the PDO shifts to cooling on the temperature measurements?


      • Based on projected solar activity for SC25, the 1945-1975 cooling period, and temperature trends for the last 150 years I would estimate the cooling at between 0.0 and —0.3 °C for the 2030-2035 period with respect to the 2002-2007 period in HadCRUT4.

        At the long term rate of +0.12 °C/decade the warming should be +0.34 °C if there is no acceleration, and over +0.60 °C according to IPCC, reaching at that time the fabled +1.5 °C over pre-industrial. So the difference should be very clear.

        The effect of the 65-yr oscillation is ± 0.2 °C with respect to the long-term trend.

      • Javier, you have it backwards. The colder parts of the Maunder and Dalton solar minimums saw El Nino episode frequency roughly double from the mean, like since 2014. And El Nino episodes drive the stronger warm pulses to the AMO. Basic meteorology, negative AO/NAO is directly associated with slower trade winds. A bit of seasonal cooling of the AMO due to very positive NAO conditions recently does not mean that it is entering its cold phase. It won’t do that until the solar wind pressure picks up again sufficiently past this centennial solar minimum. We should see a temporary North Atlantic cold blob again though around the next sunspot maximum from 2025.

      • My solar based forecast for the annular modes and cold shots for the continents this cold season, was for a colder than normal second half of November, generally milder through December and the new year start, a slightly colder than normal second week of January, and colder than normal from around 23rd January into early February. Then cold shots returning majorly in the second week of March, the last week of March, and minor the second week of April. And I could do that at literally any range, because it is astronomically defined.

  8. I am of the opinion that before ANY action is taken to further limit emissions output in their claim to reduce the amount of man-made warming, every nation, including and especially the United States should first require by law that each and every climate model used to predict this doom and gloom be fully transparent. Each model should show ALL the data they used and all the data they had which they did not use as well as all the computational code they used to create these models.

    Furthermore I believe every nation should perform a FULL and COMPLETE audit on the data sets where they have actual measured, thermometer based data sets. It is one thing to question proxy data but we, the public who will be forced to make drastic changes in our lifestyles should NOT be required to do so when we cannot even trust the measured data which is being stored in databases like those at the GISS, where repeated doubt has been shown due to flawed data stored. If the spot analysis data had not shown repeated manipulations of data, i.e. cooling the past and warming the current temperatures, as was discovered by several scientists, MAYBE we could move forward with the suggested proposal.

    As it is, the scientific community and certainly the public should have zero trust in the measured data sets being currently used. We need to audit ALL of the data based on the historical documentation stored at each station, then create a completely new set of databases which once entered CANNOT be altered but can only be referenced. That way when a scientist claims they adjusted something, ANYTHING for ANY reason, they will be doing it to a duplicate database and we can compare their manipulations while analyzing their claimed reasons for manipulating that data BEFORE we accept any claim of theory their models show.

    It is a sad day in scientific history when we cannot trust the principal leaders of a particular scientific community because they have ruined historical data sets, and their own emails appear to demonstrate collusion and willful intent to defraud.

    Everything needs to be audited and every bit of ANY science which even remotely seeks to drive any policy should be fully transparent.

    But then again, that’s just MY opinion, for what it’s worth.

  9. This is interesting and perhaps to the point:

    • Those cost-benefit calculations for electricity production in the rankings of solutions are illuminating, aren’t they?

      The average age in Germany is 46, they spend 10% of their GDP on pensions alone and that will climb to 12% over the next few years. Being able to cover that bill will depend on Germany’s ability to build cars and heavy machinery in Germany and sell them to people around the world. The US already exports BMWs made in the US, Volkswagen has a factory in China.
      It is a global economy, Germany is not going to reduce it’s social spending, the most cost-effective alternatives to fossil fuels are the only ones that have a chance of being adopted, and it was a ridiculous mistake to celebrate an international climate elite that did nothing over the last 30 years other than move manufacturing to China and increase global emissions.

      Finally, Americans got a really sharp reminder over the weekend from Robert Mueller that what “everybody knows” and every news organizations asserts can be dead wrong.

  10. “the authors miss what is likely to be the most significant event during this period: a transition to the cold phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.”

    Isn’t about time for the PDO to shift to cold phase as well?

    What’s the general view of the climate/weather response to a ‘dual’ flip?

    More drought for the West, Alaska steps cooler, Arctic sea ice?

  11. The MSM receives its share of blame in exaggerating the known effects of AGW, but why do esteemed publications like Nature have to join in. They reference the California drought and fires as evidence of increases in extreme weather. Even the new governor of California has come to his senses and correctly identified the real culprit as being decades of bone headed forest management practices as setting up the conditions for a catastrophic fire. The 2 multi decadal droughts in that state 1000 years ago should tip off anyone thinking the recent drought was unprecedented that it wasn’t.
    I imagine in a few years the massive flooding in Nebraska will be used as proof of AGW increasing extreme weather even though that area suffered major flooding in 1935, 1940, 1941, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1962, 1963 and 1978. Man made alterations to the river course don’t help.
    And then they mentioned the heat waves having been created by AGW and considered unprecedented. But, at least in the US, this graph shows a little historical perspective.

    Nearly 40 years ago EPA said that in several decades sea levels could rise by up to 10 feet. They didn’t. A few inches maybe. The disappearing snow. The disappearing Arctic Sea Ice. On and on. A miserable record of predictions just keeps getting compounded with more miserable predictions.

    There should be a move toward shorter time frames for making projections certainly. But that ought to be only after they can demonstrate a skill in making any kind of projections at all.

  12. The panel should also look beyond the physical science itself and assess the speed at which political systems can respond, taking into account pressures to maintain the status quo from interest groups and bureaucrats.

    And how are they going to do this? With a crystal ball? Everyone knows that climate change policy is the kiss of death for the political class. That’s why James Hansen refers to Paris as a paper tiger. If the people ever begin to feel the real heat of climate change policy, then they will render extinct that political class for a new Trumpier one. The politicos ain’t fools. They know how to talk the talk without actually walking the walk. Both appeasing their base while not alienating the rest of the electorate at the same time. Good luck with political prognostications. (people have been failing at those for a long, long time)…

    • Chris Kurowski

      The old saying used to be: “you can have anything in the store that you want as long as you pay for it”. It’s easy for a politician to sell social change that brings wealth but hard to sell social change that brings a reduction in wealth. Failure to take into account costs can lead to some very odd results. Based on numbers easily available, I was able to calculate CO2 in Kg per kWhr for the US back in 2016 versus the same metric for Germany today,2018, which was readily available. The numbers came to .6Kg/kWh in Germany versus 0.76Kg/kWh in the US. Take into account the shift towards natural gas in the US that has continued and the numbers would get closer I suspect. Yet is not electricity in Germany much more expensive? So what happened? Well, renewable energy is very expensive so Germany relies on coal to reduce costs while the US relies more on natural gas and oil which it can afford because it doesn’t sustain heavy renewable costs. Coal generates a great deal more CO2 per kWh than other carbon fuels but is cheap. In the end there isn’t such a difference in results.

  13. Climate scientists and IPCC will resist making short term predictions to the death. They were exposed by the failure of 1990 AR1 predictions so they moved to 2100 science fiction predictions to be safe from obvious failure during their time.

    • Javier, it’s so seldom, i think, that we hear the nitty gritty of the political science aspects of climate change. It would be interesting to see the evolution of the political class since ’90 as regards climate change all laid out there to gain some perspective. Surely, someone out there has done this already. (have you any good, meaning readable, references regarding this?)…

      • No fonzi, I must confess that I am not particularly interested in politics, just the science.

        I do have a copy of “The Age of Global Warming. A History.” by Rupert Darwall (2013). I found it very hard to read but interesting, and I use it from time to time as reference, because it gives a good account of how things have taken place in the climate political arena.

  14. The elephant in the room not mentioned is a carbon tax. Personally I’m not a fan as I don’t think they would be effective at the consumer level. As for the business/government sectors, instead of a tax, a new ISO standard could be developed to price in carbon during the capital budgeting of big ticket items such as power plants and transportation fleets. Those that implement the standard could claim to be “An ISO-xxxx Green Plan Company”. Perhaps nations could negotiate whether they would implement these as regulations or guidelines, and the particulars of carbon pricing and discount rates. Although it would still act as an indirect tax where costs/prices are driven higher, I think it would be more palatable than directly forcing poor folk to forego the conveniences of modern living.

  15. Assess science in the near term.

    The most important assessments of the climate for the next 25 years would seem to be changes in rainfall patterns at a regional level, expected sea level rise over the period, and expected changes from past patterns for severe weather at a regional level.

    The other ideas that Judith raises- Rethink policy goals, Design strategies for adaptation and Understand options for rapid response would all seem to require definitive reliable data from the science assessment. How about someone demonstrate the reliable data for the next 25 years before formulating strategies based on that data.

  16. It is all a big farce – an expensive and a wasteful one. Fortunately, it will be exposed in the next few decades. It will not survive the decline part of the ~60-70 year cycle, which is the dominant change/variability on this time scale. The warmists have made their bed and will have to lie in it.

  17. Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  18. “However, variability in ultraviolet solar irradiance has been linked to changes in surface pressure that resemble the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillations (AO/NAO)8,9,10 and studies of both the 11-year solar cycle11,12 and centennial timescales13 suggest the potential for larger regional effects. The mechanism for these changes is via a stratospheric pathway, a so-called ‘top-down’ mechanism, and involves altered heating of the stratosphere by solar ultraviolet irradiance.”

    Rotation of the planet sets up vortices that extend from the surface to the stratosphere. These can be seen at different levels in the earth nullschool near real time visualization. Note the storm cells spinning of both poles.

    Polar surface pressure variations that drive meridional (north-south) or zonal (east-west) – and thus lower latitude atmospheric and ocean circulation – may have a solar component whatever the mechanism. With profound implications for the future evolution of ENSO, AMO, PDO, MOC, etc – the multitude of Earth system chaotic nonlinear oscillators that are nodes of change far beyond the simple notion of teleconnections.

    But the Earth system has its own internal resonant frequencies – and feedbacks into polar surface pressures in the globally coupled fluid flow field. Prediction remains impossible – despite the partial solar trigger for abrupt climate shifts.

    Initialized probabalistic decadal forecasts are feasible. It would require billions of dollars for 2,000 times more computing power. But predicting system shifts to another fractionally dimensioned state space remain as accurate as tossing a coin (Mojib Latif).

    Sensitivity is greatest near tipping points – and the future is another country.

  19. David Albert

    “Assessments of these trade-offs must be embedded in the Paris climate process, which needs a stronger compass to guide its evaluations of how realistic policies affect emissions. ”
    More importantly they need to get a handle on how emissions affect atmospheric CO2. If , as Harde 2017 and ( ) indicate there is little response to changes in emissions there can be little done by controlling them and the cost side of the analysis won’t have anything to balance.

    • David, the emissions drives carbon growth paradigm will only die when we get an extended cooling spell and the atmospheric CO2 growthrate tanks along with it. It may well be the most entrenched paradigm in climate science to date. (and it will not go gracefully into the night)…

      • David Albert

        You may be right but there is goon analytical evidence and physical calculations that put the lie to the A in CAGW. I don’t think skeptics are doing the world any favor by implicitly accepting the lie in all their otherwise solid responses to the consensus positions. If enough of them challenged the lie the consensus group would have to defend it and may start to realize the error of their thinking. That process could happen before CO2 starts to decline which will likely be several hundred years after the atmosphere begins the next dip in temperature.

  20. Totally agree that each of the four fronts should be pursued with a sense of purpose. Short range climate predictions might be possible — and might not be possible — or might be possible but not useful. Certainly double decade predictions of Relative Sea Level Rise can be made to some accuracy — but these will leave alarmists disappointed as they will not be alarming.

    Soot, methane and HFCs are already being addressed, but a lot of traction can be gained by increasing cost-effective measures to rein them in even further — they are total no regrets issues.

    To date, policy goals have been mandated by the IPCC — not just for Paris, but for international development aid, humanitarian aid programs, etc — all required to submit climate projections that do not help….

    • On the other hand, the first section of the Comment in Nature is blatant alarmism hyping iffy points of science that do not add up to their panic-spreading hyperbole.

  21. jungletrunks

    I agree with Dr. Curry’s pragmatism that each of the before recommendations ‘can’ provide justified ‘no regrets’ actions; but it’s those naïve ‘regrets’ actions I’m most concerned about, globally representing a considerable force. Most wouldn’t acknowledge, many wouldn’t know that there’s “a transition to the cold phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation”; nor care about any scientific consideration that doesn’t fit near-term CAGW messaging as confirmed by the 97% as pure science fact.

    Mainstream attitudes, particularly within media, the global political class, and pundit segments of the scientific community; will likely contemplate a different reality that translates to ‘no regrets’ for them; along the lines of:

    “Researchers should improve climate models to describe the next 25 years in more detail”. Why waste time improving model details that are already good enough to describe a dystopian planet within decadal scales if we do nothing? Ask Cortez for her white paper and let’s get on with it.

    “It’s easy to bend models on paper, but much harder to implement real policies that work.” Just bend the policies too, aren’t we already trying to do this now? Since when did redistribution policy get polluted by ever increasing need for more made-up climate science? Talk about mission creep. Seems this process can be sped up considerably.

    “Realistic goals should be set based on political and social trade-offs” Political, absolutely, politics is the primary input for realistic outcomes. But too, newly minted outside professionals can explain convincingly why grass huts is natures superior choice. Bringing up economics just muddies the transition.

    “The time for rapid adaptation has arrived” Thus the rationale for why wasting time on better models is moot. We’ve made stuff up before, duh. While China and other malcontents are generally outside the bounds of conforming to geopolitical climate coercion, uh science; just accept their own impractical ideas for globalist ambitions as irrelevant.

  22. “Adaptation strategies should be adjustable if impacts unfold differently.”

    This is the hardest recommendation of all from a political/advocacy perspective. It’s hard to marshal activists into a strategy that keeps changing the goal posts particularly when the data shows circumstances change. Their minds have to be open to new information, which, given the push-back on allowing contrary to their own viewpoint research into the public’s mind, seems hardly likely. The politicians need time to negotiate policy, which, again, has shown to be quite difficult. Financing any policy implementation, bonds to build infrastructure has to be cognizant of the markets insistence that there is an identified revenue stream such that the bonds will be paid back and on time.

    Adaptation to a changing world is likely what we should be doing all along. Slow moving train or no. Our adaptation speed should be adjusted so that the climate hobos can jump on and jump off the freight train without breaking their necks.

  23. By far the most important front for climate policy is to refute the false premise that up to 3C of global warming this century (if it happens) would be harmful, dangerous or catastrophic (total of all impact sectors for the world).

  24. I’m happy to focus on the next 25 years … just as soon as the climate models can show us that they can successfully forecast a decade into the future. To date, they have predicted the ups but missed the downs … sorry, not impressed.

    One of the early IPCC reports pointed out that both weather and climate are chaotic … and to date, we know sweet Fanny Adams about how to forecast chaotic systems. All I hear is handwaving about “It’s a boundary problem” and the like … but to date, the record of the failed serial doomcasters is horribly bad.


    • The next 25 years or the next ten thousand years can be forecast reasonably well by extending the climate cycles of the last ten thousand years forward. What has happened will repeat. Climate repeats cycles until something evolves to change the patterns, sometimes a little and sometimes very much. Climate Scientists do not understand what caused past changes and cannot predict future changes, Past data is our best guide for future climate. We have nothing better. Models cannot repeat what did happen, they will never get the future right.

      • “Abrupt climate changes were especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. Thus, greenhouse warming and other human alterations of the earth system may increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events. The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet, and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, future abrupt changes cannot be predicted with confidence, and climate surprises are to be expected.

        The new paradigm…” NAS 2002

        There are some disturbing parallels with Alex in this. But it is usually a surprise and with Alex there is no notion at all of either intrinsic or anthropogenic risk. .

    • Over the next 25 years more developed nations will come to the obvious conclusion that the last 25 years of international climate activism has done nothing more than increase global emissions by moving industry to developing nations.
      They will then have a choice- continue putting their citizens out of work and threatening their ability to pay for social services for no environmental benefit. Declare victory in the climate crisis and move on to something else. Address climate change incrementally with lowest-cost technology (incentivizing stuff that actually works).

    • Initialized, decadal scale, probabilistic models may be feasible given billions of dollars and 1000’s more times computing power. Go for it I say.

      It was TAR s14.2.2.2. In summary we should recognize that both models and climate are coupled, nonlinear, chaotic systems. Therefore prediction is not possible.

      But has Willis thought through this initial conditions chaos thing?

      Fun and games until it bites you on the ass.

  25. Judith quotes: “Researchers should improve climate models to describe the next 25 years in more detail.”

    The US government and likely most other governments aren’t able to make policy with a 25-horizon years. Social Security will be bankrupt in about 15 years, and dealing with that reality will be far easier before about 700,000 people begin taking Social Security benefits each year. Under current law, bankruptcy means a roughly 30% across the board cut in benefits, so that payments are balanced by revenue. Compared with climate change, the problem is fully understood. Nevertheless, Congress has no interest in making the changes needed to avoid this inevitable problem. Academics who spend their time in ivory towers don’t have much connection with the real world. (Sorry to be so cynical.)

    • Yes frank too, what you describe is political reality. That’s why Bill Gates is smart to conclude that only new technology will make action on emissions politically possible. Getting people to sacrifice even a little bit in the near term to address a much longer term effect is not the way human nature usually operates.

  26. While David Victor advances on four fronts, his opponents in the climate wars are retreating on nine:

    • Russ

      On this Schadenfreude Tuesday, your link reminds me of the exciting opportunities to enlighten the public about subterranean issues in climate through creation by our leader of this new Commission. I look forward to the MSM being forced to write about the following:
      Debate about the MWP and LIA
      Polar bears appear to be thriving
      Great Lakes are not evaporating to oblivion
      Previous warm periods in the Arctic
      Geothermal activity in Greenland and Antarctica affecting Ice Sheets
      Geothermal activity in Greenland and Antarctica affecting surrounding waters and marine terminating glaciers
      UHI, Time of Observation
      Land use Changes affecting temperatures
      Subsidence at rates multiples of SLR
      No upward trend in cyclonic activity
      California droughts of 1000 years ago
      Forest Mismanagement role in forest fire tragedies
      Poor spatial coverage for global temperatures in the past
      Cooling trends during modern global warming
      AMO, NAO, PDO, AO, ENSO and Southern Annualar Mode
      Glacial Isostatic Adjustments
      Temperature adjustments
      Canvas buckets
      Lack of rigorous quality control standards in historical temperatures
      Hundreds of papers on solar impacts on climate
      Hundreds of citations on the non-existent hiatus
      Up to 100,000 seamounts
      Land storage contribution to SLR
      60 years cycle affecting SLR
      Geothermal affecting abyssal waters circulation
      Seesaw relationship in polar sea ice extent
      Glaciers retreating in 1800s
      Actual floods before 1950
      Abysmal knowledge of abyssal waters pre Argo
      Geological uplift in Antarctica
      EPA Heatwave Index

      Exciting times

  27. Even regions that are proactive in setting adaptation policies, such as California,

    What adaptation policies are Californians setting, either proactively or reactively?

  28. Policymakers should ask the IPCC for another special report, this time on the rates of climate change over the next 25 years.

    Then for 25 years use historical data on climate swings to inform decisions about local adaptation. After the forecasts for the next 25 years have been compared to the actual evolution of climate, maybe some of the forecasts will have shown sufficient accuracy to use as a basis for planning.

    It’s probably not too early for Californians to start preparing for the floods of 2019, not to mention the flood of 1863.

  29. I’m running out of sarcasm.

    On a positive note it seems now they are also planning to manage natural variability away. This will be a boon for some. Bad for some others who wait for a change. Some might actually get triggered by the disappointment. Perhaps the IPCC should add a chapter on psychotherapy. And reparations in case the management should botch it. Then the thought the Russians might hack the model codes. They might like it warmer in Siberia and then sit and laugh while the rest gets toasted. But you can’t have everything. Some risks may remain. You have to take some risks to eliminate these risks. Thats just fate then.

  30. “They should do more to quantify the odds and impacts of extreme events.”

    Major heatwaves and cold-waves are discretely solar driven and hence drivers of climate change. They are also highly predictable.

  31. Pingback: Four fronts for climate policy | Watts Up With That?

  32. Policymakers should ask the IPCC for another special report, this time on the rates of climate change over the next 25 years. The panel should also look beyond the physical science itself and assess the speed at which political systems can respond, taking into account pressures to maintain the status quo from interest groups and bureaucrats. Researchers should improve climate models to describe the next 25 years in more detail, including the latest data on the state of the oceans and atmosphere, as well as natural cycles.

    How hard can that be?

    A. Climate scientists have written that the temperatures since 1988 do not discredit Hansen’s model, so simply run Hansen’s model, initialized to current climate, against a bunch of hypothetical trajectories of CO2 and particulate/aerosol pollutants.

    B. with CO2 increasing exponentially and the effect of CO2 on temperature being logarithmic, the warming due to CO2 is linear in time, and the oscillations can be represented by sine functions (more and more as more oscillations are quantified), so a good fit of a linear plus harmonic regression to the data of the last 125 years ought to produce a reasonable extrapolation of the next 25 years (1/5 the duration of the extant data.) For the next 25 years, regional variation will almost certainly fall within the extremes of the past 250 years almost everywhere.

    A request for another special report from the IPCC merely acknowledges, without acknowledging it, that the present knowledge base is too full of holes (cavities, etc) to be trustworthy for planning purposes.

    Nobody is pressuring to “maintain the status quo”. The public policy dispute is about which investments to make to change the status quo, and who should be given charge of the resources to invest.

  33. We must get progressives (who, as the latest class of conspirators against the laity, will block any progress unless they get a cut) on side. Those damn climate, economic and energy models are all rather beside the point, as is “science.” Carbon trading is obsolete, and will never encourage anyone to do anything. We need a market in virtue signalling tokens.

  34. Javier,
    Thanks for the response above for the impacts of shifting AMO to cooling and the PDO change. Very clear. We shall see but it is a clear marker.

    Thanks for all the work. I enjoy the ice age information and the impacts of solar activity SC 25. How much can mainstream science continue to change past actual temperature measurements to estimated and made up new ones

    regards, Scott

  35. As someone involved in the reduction of soot from the combustion of solid fuels, I second the last note by Judith on the attention that should be paid to it. There is an excusable frustration in the field of “better combustion” with fuels being routinely blamed for the sooty emissions of the combustor. The lack of attention to the basics of combustion in domestic appliances in particular, is inexcusable.

    We have a war on coal by the natural gas industry, we have a war on wood by the WHO and we have a war on all solid fuels by the LP gas industry that is presently playing out at the international level.

    This is a major policy failure. To characterise the emission of soot, of all things, as an inherent property of a fuel is downright unscientific. Soot is an engineering problem. It is a resource management problem. I don’t have to list the things it is not. Let’s just get on with it.

    Here is one recent example of a soot reduction and fuel saving effort undertaken in Central Asia with good potential for broad adoption and major impacts:

    The PM2.5 reduction is >99%. Some things are solvable.

    • Raising the standard of living in areas such as the Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan solves the indoor air pollution problem — their homes are simply “smokey”, especially in winter. Giving them better wood stoves is a one generation solution — this is bolstered by my experiences in the Dominican Republic where 85-90% of the homes have at least one open combustion cooking stove, even the homes with propane kitchen units (the supply of propane and the money to buy it are both iffy for most families).
      It is of value for families — helping one family get a better life is worth the effort — but as a DEVELOPMENT GOAL it is foolish. The continued dependence on wood for cooking and heating is extremely destructive for the environment. In the DR, the government subsidized propane and two ring propane cook units to save the forests — partially successful.

      • crispininwaterloo

        Partially agreed, Kip. There is no wood to burn in many places. They are dependent on coal for perhaps the next two generations. During that time they will build large hydro-electric dams. Both KG and TJ have huge potential in that regard. Indonesia has many regions with no shortage of fuel at all. It is collected by breaking off branches on the way to the house from the fields. An advantage of coal over wood is that space heaters are easily loaded (a hopper) with coal but wood requires nearly continuous attention. For heating, the solution is high mass masonry heaters such as those promoted by the Masonry Heaters Association (MHA North America) and several Russian associations. They are run for 2 hrs once or twice a day at high power. They can be adapted to burn dung, wood or coal. Very poor homes have terrible indoor air quality because of leaky aging stoves. Mostly it is poor design and lack of draft. Some homes average 800 ug/m^3 for days at a time. We solved that completely. Utterly.

      • Crispin ==> If high efficiency wood stoves can be made available for prices that are affordable — they can be a really good thing.
        The Dominican Republic is also a tropical island with lots of rain (most areas) where you would think that wood would grow faster than people can use it up — that just didn’t turn out to be true — 30 years ago much of the island had been denuded and flooding and erosion were rampant. areas near population centers were quickly stripped of anything that would burn, and the charcoal burners denuded areas further away and transported charcoal to the cities. this all in an area where wood was used for cooking — heating was seldom needed.

        I looked at some of the work on better wood stoves around 2010 — but couldn’t find a fit for our humanitarian effort.

        Many of the very poor homes in the DR had no stove at all, just a basic three stones (three blocks) with a twig and branch fire until a big rounded pot. In a home, that would be on a raised platform.

        can you send me a link to various, latest designs? I still have contacts in the DR and Haiti.

      • crispininwaterloo

        Do you know how to contact me? I am easy to find.
        Crispin Pemberton-Pigott

      • Crispin ==> I have your email address @ outlook.

  36. I can’t tell you how strongly feel about people who make dire predictions like those made by the authors of “Global warming will happen faster than we think”. David Victor is a smart guy but there is something wrong with the connections in his mind between his righteous desire to “save the world” and his moral obligation as a scientist to tell the truth. He is far too smart to believe the substance of that Comment in Nature, especially this: “We estimate that rising greenhouse-gas emissions, along with declines in air pollution, bring forward the estimated date of 1.5 °C of warming to around 2030, with the 2 °C boundary reached by 2045.” I intend to hold him responsible for that statement.

    In 2014, I wrote in his defense on WUWT in an essay “Why don’t we all just agree on Global Warming?“. At that time, he called for CliSci to quit calling those who don’t agree “denialists” — then promptly did so over-and-over in the same speech. In the same speech he said “We in the scientific community need to acknowledge that the science is softer than we like to portray. The science is not “in” on climate change because we are dealing with a complex system whose full properties are, with current methods, unknowable.”

    I fear that he has found it better to “go along to get along” in the CliSci world — only the action points, the Four Fronts sound, like the David Victor I defended five years ago. The dire predictions sound like an Al Gore doppelganger.

  37. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #354 | Watts Up With That?

  38. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #354 – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  39. Brian Wilson

    As a former research assistant under an outstanding PhD, I have witnessed science fraud in other researchers and under a later PhD that I worked for, and resigned from, over her fraud. I remember that within three weeks of starting my first job, the residents in our department were joking to me about one other colleague applying the “Kirchenko Factor” to his data to make it conform to his hypothesis. After voicing this conversation to my boss, he went to great pains to educate me about the realities of the community and to view all science with extreme skepticism.

    I have been interested in the climate debate since the original IPCC report and have followed the arguments closely. When we look at Dr. Mann’s behavior, his threats to sue, the Climategate emails, apparent data fudging from many data producers, there is ample evidence of science fudging and outright carelessness (shall we say) in the climate community .

    My view is that nothing ultimately will prevent the obstruction that critics like Steven McIntyre and Dr. Curry has had to put up with until we make the consequences of engaging in science fraud more painful than the rewards. The science community, (very much like the medical community), is apparently loath to severely discipline their colleagues. To that end I would argue that we need to push Congress to pass legislation, well written, that would:
    1: Require that any taxpayer funded researcher make available all raw data used in any given research study. Such data would be subject to FOIA inquiries.
    2. All computer codes used for data analysis be available for scrutiny and be subject to FOIA requests.
    3. Records of sensor and laboratory equipment calibration be archived, made available on request, and subject to FOIA requests.
    4. Peer reviews documented, archived, and be made available upon inquiry and be subject to FOIA requests.
    5. All emails from taxpayer funded contractors or research institutions, not containing classified information, be archived and subject to FOIA requests.
    6. Any researcher found to be willingly violating these guidelines can be found guilty of fraud. Any such finding will subject the researcher to any or all of the following: a) suspension of taxpayer funding on a temporary or permanent basis. b) loss of any security clearances or access to sensitive government archives, and c) personal responsibility for repaying all taxpayer funding for that research. d) criminal fraud.
    7. Any researcher whose obstruction of data requests, which results in a FOIA lawsuit, if found negligent under these guidelines, be liable for the court costs of producing that lawsuit.

    If the science community continues to refuse to police their own, its time to get Congress to force them to do so. Historically we have had too many rogue physicians getting their wrists slapped for medical fraud. Its time that practice ends in the research community also.

  40. This post is based on an unjustified, probably false, premise that global warming is dangerous.

    The focus should be on testing this premise, not simply accepting it.

  41. David Wojick

    2020 climate madness looms

    My latest look ahead:
    2020 climate madness looms

    Some excerpts: The year 2020 is shaping up to be one of madness when it comes to the climate change debate. Several huge milestones are in the cards and these cards are on the table.

    One is the US Presidential election, where the entire world wants to see if President Trump can pull off another skeptical miracle (or curse, depending on who you ask). The official date for the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is the day after the election, so that too may hang in the balance.

    In UN-world there are two monster milestones in 2020. By far the biggest is that the mythical $100 billion a year is supposed to start flowing from America and the rest of the supposedly guilty developed countries, to the developing countries, who claim to be suffering increasingly bad weather because of our prosperity.

    So if Trump wins and the big bucks don’t show the whole house of green cards just might collapse. This is going to make for a very tense (and loud) year on the climate change front.

    Things are already heating up here in 2019. Topping the list is the truly extreme Green New Deal proposal. Most of the Democrat presidential candidates have endorsed the GND, which guarantees it will be a major nomination issue. If a Green New Dealer gets the nomination it will also be a huge election issue, maybe even the deciding one.

    So all things considered, 2020 may be the year of the climate crescendo. The volume is certainly picking up here in 2019. Why not, given that in some ways the world order is on the line. It is certainly about time we had a serious debate over climate change policy.

    Let the big fight begin.

    (There is a bunch more in the article.

  42. Beta Blocker

    Key Questions for Developers of Small Modular Reactors
    Dan Yurman, Neutron Bytes

    “Despite the tremendous levels of excitement and publicity for development of small modular reactors (SMRs), many questions remain unanswered about the success factors for bringing them to market.”

    NuScale is the leader in getting an SMR design approved, constructed, and in operation. Their current schedule calls for initial operation in 2026. They are making steady progress in keeping their project on track towards completion. No one else is nearly that close. However, the questions Dan Yurman raises about the future of SMRs still need answers.