scientists are just as human as the rest of us, in that they are strongly influenced by the need to be accepted, to kowtow to peer opinion, and to “belong” in the scientific community
a growing number of prominent scientists disagree (on the IPCC consensus)
science does not depend on consensus
History supplies us with many examples where scientists were just plain wrong about certain matters, but ultimately discovered the truth through continued research
as far as humans are concerned, ten times more people die each year from the effects of cold than die from the heat
In my amateur opinion, more attention to disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies, as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use, are problems that should distract us from fretting about baking in Global Warming.
A Skeptic that is skeptical about making Global Warming THE defining issue of our times? Obviously, that’s not something that could be left unpunished. And in fact…there are some slightly ominous remarks by Phil “Jekill” Plait (not the usual reasonable Plait one can find talking about every topic but global warming):
I just talked with Randi about it (and sent him some info on AGW), and he’s posting a followup tonight
In a slightly unsettling if not miraculous development on his way to fight climate change, Tom Friedman tells us today that Dick Cheney’s “instinct” (treating any “low-probability, high-impact event” as a certainty) “is precisely the right framework with which to think about the climate issue“.
As Mr Friedman rightly points out, Cheney’s strategy concerns “the same ‘precautionary principle’ that also animated environmentalists“. Unfortunately, previous performances bodes badly for the attitude that has brought upon us the Iraq invasion disaster.
It is a fact that everybody wants a green economy with clean air and non-polluting energy for all. Greenhood has become the new “motherhood and apple pie” of politics. It is also a fact that a shared goal doesn’t mean a shared idea on how to reach it. Each one of the various ways to address the risk of catastrophical global warming has its own inherent costs and risks. It is not just about declaring the will to buy insurance “aggressively“: one has to go out and choose which insurance to buy, weighing the various pros and cons.
For example, steel giant Mittal has been recently reported as benefiting around £1,000,000,000 ($1.6 billions) from the European emission trading scheme (cap-and-trade) If Mr Friedman wants to be serious about preparing for climate change, that’s what he should be discussing about.
[…] We have a ‘widely accepted [by the scientific community]…global cooling trend’, at least judging from Mitchell’s work in 1972; doubts about that growing in the same scientific community from 1975/1976, as per Damon and Kunen’s paper; but not early enough to prevent Newsweek from publishing its 1975 article, one that even mentions a certain Dr Murray Mitchell. That means that pieces of the global cooling puzzle do suggest that cooling was a widely-held view in the 1970s.
Admittedly, such an agreed view did not last the whole decade: rather, it concerned the 1972 to 1975 period. Says who? Says the CIA, in a unique report I was recently able to re-discover in the British Library […]
This article is much longer than the Spectator’s and contains all the evidence one should need to establish that there was a scientific consensus on global cooling in the period 1972-1975.
For heaven’s sake, somebody is claiming that humans can have effects over a planet-wide phenomenon. Those same humans that can’t predict earthquakes, can’t switch off a volcano, can’t change the course of ocean currents, can’t stop hurricanes, can’t make sustainable quantities of rain, can’t even generate nor control wind (of the non-intestinal variety). We have no idea of entire major waterflows in the North Atlantic, and yet somebody thinks to be able to cause (and to tell) a few degrees difference in the Earth’s climate over 50 or 100 years?
Vague threats and doom-and-gloom scenarios make little sense. Give me a break. Or give me evidence that the climate is really changing because of humans. For example by showing what is the difference between the current temperature changes and those that happened over 3 or 4 years at the end of the “little ice age” in the mid-1800s (surely those were not man-made)? Or by showing how the amount of emissions by humans can compare to the natural ones?
Or by comparing the energy used and release by humans to that involved in the Earth’s working on a daily basis? To understand the situation, I did some quick computations last year to find out that all energy ever generated by humans would rise the ocean temperature by hundredths if not thousandth (0.01 to 0.001) of a degree…ours is still a big planet indeed, tampering with it requires enormous quantities of energy and I am aware of little work done in planetary engineering.
My mind is open to explanations, and I can definitely talk to people saying “Beware the climate beast“. But I won’t listen to those that panic to claim that the world is ending tomorrow (or this century, or this millennium).
In “What They Really Believe” (NYT, Nov 17), Tom Friedman states (before the usual tirade against “willfully blind” non-believers in global warming):
if you follow the debate around the energy/climate bills working through Congress you will notice that the drill-baby-drill opponents of this legislation are now making two claims. One is that the globe has been cooling lately, not warming, and the other is that America simply can’t afford any kind of cap-and-trade/carbon tax
I am afraid Mr Friedman is missing the most important point.
“If you follow the debate around the energy/climate bills working through Congress“, and what has already come out of it in the House of Representatives, you will not find anything remotely like the “serious energy/climate bill” global warming advocates such as Mr Friedman are opining for.
Surely not even “green hawks” believe that the pork-laden 1,400-pages of the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009” (aka “Waxman-Markey”) will bring anything practical about climate change? Unless, that is, one is talking about “green hawks” that are “willfully blind“, and (literally) “hurting America’s future to boot“.
Then incredibly in the “Scotland” pages an article and a video, part of a “three part special” filmed…in Thailand! Including what is likely to be the silliest ever report ending: “Fiona Walker, reporting Scotland, in the Gulf of Thailand”
(alas, they could kid themselves only up to a point: the “three part special” is classified under “Scotland politics” and Ms Walker clearly introduced as “BBC Scotland’s social affairs reporter“).
The two Koutsoyannis et al.’s are of course the papers arguing that climate models “won’t reproduce the local climate” and any “statement that the predictions would work at [a] longer distance scales is unsupported” (in the words of Luboš).
HK Climate has definitely been written for non-specialists. A couple of quotes:
(from the Start page) “we maintain that there is no reason whatsoever to worry about man-made climate change, because there is no evidence whatsoever that such a thing is happening“
(from the Epilogue page) “Climate is equally uncertain at all zoom levels. In fact, mathematical analysis of the climate indicates that its behaviour is such that the uncertainty is the maximum possible at all zoom levels. This maximisation of uncertainty at all scales is called the Hurst-Kolmogorov behaviour of climatic processes. Nature loves uncertainty, and it fools us in two ways: on the one hand we wouldn’t be able to predict the future of climate, even if we fully knew the natural laws that govern it, because of chaos; and on the other hand, we can’t be very certain of the statistically expected behaviour of climate which is based on our observations of the past, because of the Hurst-Kolmogorov behaviour.”
In his quest to find how to ‘change any minds‘ about the need for a ‘climate fix‘, Tom Zeller Jr repeats the tired mantras of climate campaigners such as former US Vice president Al Gore (‘Sheer will is needed for climate fix‘, NYT, Nov 16, 2009), including an alleged lack of ‘capacity to respond quickly‘ to dangers that are not ‘tangible in the here and now‘, and the general inability to pass laws anywhere on a carbon tax.
I have a more profane explanation.
Precisely because ‘virtually every Pavlovian trigger discovered in the human brain is now pulled by advertisers‘ (in the words of Mr Gore), people have grown smarter and more skeptical to concocted gimmicks such as those incredibly mentioned by Mr Zeller, i.e. the cat video with fake subtitles and the Maldives Government’s antics scuba-diving in the latest gear to submerged desks (one hopes they found a way for the manufacturers to pay for the publicity).
The cause for a serious analysis and management of climate change is further undermined by the constant barrage of absurdly bad news, once again taking up a prominent space in Mr Zeller’s article: climate change causing mental health problems, women faring worse than men, golf participation plummeting. Who in their right mind could ever believe that everything and anything will be negatively affected by climate change?
The desire of too many to rethorically batter the general public into climate submission by including evermore far-fetched and scary statements however flimsy the evidence and surreal the claim, can only harden the public’s resistance to do anything at all, not just about purported disasters of the year 2100 but also concerning those of 2010.
Unless and until the likes of Mr Zeller, let alone the average climate crusader, get such a simple point, I am afraid it is going to be plenty of fruitless talking, grand posturing and ridiculous feline videos for a long long time. And minds will keep changing, yes, but in the sense of turning away from climate action.
With the most classical of globalwarmist sleight-of-hand, a Nov 6 press release by NASA titled “A Tale of Planetary Woe” surreptitiously changed the focus of MAVEN, a whole new mission to Mars scheduled to reach the planet in 2014.
Look at the following words:
Why did Mars dry up and freeze over? […] One way or another, scientists believe, Mars must have lost its most precious asset: its thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide. CO2 in Mars’s atmosphere is a greenhouse gas, just as it is in our own atmosphere. A thick blanket of CO2 and other greenhouse gases would have provided the warmer temperatures and greater atmospheric pressure required to keep liquid water from freezing solid or boiling away.
My first reaction was a “Wow!” followed by “Finally a CO2 mission by NASA!” (yes, the greenhouse effect has so far been singularly of absolutedisinterest for planetary scientists, for some reason).
Alas, the feeling didn’t survive a quick investigation about MAVEN…
Determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere ot space has played through time, allowing us to understand the histories of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability
No mention of CO2 or of blankets. And no mention of them in the MAVEN mission page either:
Mars once had a denser atmosphere that supported the presence of liquid water on the surface. As part of a dramatic climate change, most of the Martian atmosphere was lost. MAVEN will make definitive scientific measurements of present-day atmospheric loss that will offer clues about the planet’s history.
The Principal Investigator for MAVEN is renowned Mars expert Dr Bruce M Jakosky of the University of Colorado (can be seen in a video at this page). I haven’t been able to find anything abour Dr Jakosky showing any specific interest in an ancient “thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide” with or without greenhouse warming characteristics.
Given also the amount of time needed to put together a space mission, and the various review stages any proposal has to go through, we can safely consider any newly-found CO2 focus for MAVEN as an artifact introduced by whomever decided the gist of the Nov 6 NASA press release.
And luckily so: there is very little we know about the Martian atmosphere, hence any undue assumption such as obsessing with CO2 as a greenhouse gas would risk making us miss out important observations.
Global warming makes an inevitable appearance, but it’s not in Streever’s nature to mount the pulpit. His usual spark is missing here. His molecules have cooled. He is a man beguiled by nature’s complexities, and he knows too much to make the simplified arguments of the Gores and the anti-Gores. “The good new is this: the planet is not warming evenly. As ocean currents change, temperate Europe may become pleasantly frigid. And the Antarctic interior, surrounded by swirling winds thought to be driven in part by the hole in the ozone layer, has cooled.” he writes. And he impishly points out that the first two scientists to write about the greenhouse effect looked forward to a warmer planet.
Another problem is the treatment of global warming. Streever opens with a nod at the greenhouse effect, and halfway through he curses an unseasonable mid-winter warm-up in Anchorage for ruining his cross-country skiing, but it’s not until the last few pages that he addresses the issue of climate change head on. His discussion is (predictably) adroit, pointed, clipped and alarming — but it doesn’t connect the many scattered dots that came before. “Warmth is not always a good thing,” Streever declares heatedly.
I’ll definitely look to buy or borrow “Cold“. In the meanwhile, here’s an interesting quote from the book (my emphasis):
We are in the midst of a warm spell, we are worried about global warming, but the fact remains that even in summer, whole regions remain covered with snow and ice. An area of land five times the size of Texas is in the permafrost zone, underlain by permanently frozen ground. If the mathematical predictions are right, we are at the tail end of an interglacial period, dramatically increasing its warmth with greenhouse gas emissions. But nevertheless we remain in what a geologist one hundred thousand years in the future would clearly recognize as part of the Pleistocene Ice Age.
Myself, I have been able to get to the conference and back, just in time and only to hear Corbyn’s opening remarks, when he lamented the immorality of the mainstream obsession with CO2 and compared his work to longitude measurer Harrison, rejected by the scientific and political establishment for a long time despite being right and only winning acceptance by winning the acceptance and trust of users (the Royal Navy, according to Corbyn)
SRC have identified nine Planetary Boundaries (PB):
Stratospheric ozone depletion
Atmospheric aerosol loading
Biogeochemical flows: interference with P(hosphorus) and N(itrogen) cycles
Global freshwater use
Land system change (to cropland)
Chemical pollution (eg persistent organic pollutants (POPs), plastics, endocrinedisruptors, heavy metals, and nuclear waste)
(yes there is a reason why SRC do not list then in alphabetical order)
I have several criticisms about the above (I am not alone). What “stewardship” can we provide to the planet if we consider our existence as under siege? Do Planetary Boundaries exist, and even if they do, what can they scientifically tell us about the real world? And even if they are really, mostly useful as a policy tool, is it prudent to take any decision based on them?
-1- A PLANET UNDER SIEGE, or THE MASADA MENTALITY
The “joyous and optimistic” (not my words) goal of SRC appears to be computing the limits of essential resources (essential to us, that is), in order to help better manage those same resources better.
Crucially though, those “limits” are considered “boundaries” in the sense of “thresholds”: once a certain threshold is passed, SRC say, the tipping point (“non-linear changes in the functioning of the Earth System”) starts looming. That is, passing the limits means risking “unacceptable, potentially disastrous” changes, jumping into the dark, most likely straight into a ravine.
In this respect, SRC’s all-too-desperate attempt of communicating a “message” (“The Planet is in peril! It’s all our fault!”) is just too blatant to convince the unconvinced. Consider for example the way they describe PBs in their website. From the PB homepage, aptly titled “Tipping towards the unknown”:
Within these boundaries, humanity has the flexibility to choose pathways for our future development and well-being. In essence, we are drawing the first — albeit very preliminary — map of our planet´s safe operating zones. And beyond the edges of the map, we don´t want to go
– 2- DO PLANETARY BOUNDARIES EXIST?
According to SRC, no tipping point has been reached so far. That is, simply none of the expected “non-linear” changes of state has happened. What are we talking about, one wonders? Every “unacceptable environmental change” that would “drive the Earth System[…] abruptly into states deleterious or even catastrophic to human well-being” is firmly in the future.
The PB framework is only loosely connected to reality. In fact, too many of the foundations of the PB framework are taken for granted rather than demonstrated. Are we really in the “Anthropocene”? Only if we believe so. Can we seriously link Arctic ice extent and the increase of atmospheric CO2? (more about this later). Etc etc.
And in any case…do planetary thresholds/boundaries exist?
It is true that the simplest spinning top can show what a tipping poin is. On the other hand, is there anything about the environment or any of its aspects that suggests they behave like spinning tops? That is, do we have any example where a minor perturbation has resulted in a major shift from one relatively stable status to another relatively stable status?
Say, has the temporal evolution of any environmental indicator about the now-mostly-dry Aral Sea followed a similar path to the graphs used by SRC?
– 3 – WHAT COULD PLANETARY BOUNDARIES TELL US ABOUT THE REAL WORLD?
SRC admit that they can do quantifiable work in only seven out of nine PBs. In other words, discussions of PBs for “Biodiversity loss” and “Chemical pollution” are on the threshold of being science-free.
Among the remaining seven PBs, SRC state that only in three cases they have solid data to estimate the “threshold” has been “transgressed”. In other words, even if thresholds exist, there is little indication we are near danger for “Atmospheric aerosol loading”, “Biogeochemical flows”, “Global freshwater use” and “Land system change”.
Among the remaining three “transgressed” PBs, regarding “Ocean acidification” and “Stratospheric ozone depletion” the tipping point “into states deleterious or even catastrophic to human well-being” is still far away in the future.
Finally, for Climate Change, the one remaining PB where the threshold has been (perhaps) transgressed and the tipping point (perhaps) reached, all the SRC work appears to be pivoting around a single published work:
The author presents an empirical relation between annual sea-ice extent and global atmospheric CO2 concentrations, in which sea-ice reductions are linearly, inversely proportional to the magnitude of increase of CO2 over the last few decades
Hopefully the esteemed Johannessen will be magnanimous with whomever will state that his findings are contrary to other research, e.g. done by NASA.
Who knows, perhaps there is a case for awaiting more analysis and confirmatory studies? It is not one swallow that bringeth in summer.
– CONCLUSIONS – WHAT ARE PBs GOOD FOR?
Based on unremittingly pessimistic and undemonstrated assumptions, observation-free, with admittedly shaky foundations, and the one promising application based on a single article… would it be wise to follow SRC and base public policy on the concept of “Planetary Boundaries”?
One can expect the usual criticisms…who am I to dare critically reading some scientist’s work…
Thresholds are comforting for decision-makers […] But is a threshold really a good idea at all? […] Waiting to cross the threshold allows much needless environmental degradation. […] Unfortunately, policymakers face difficult decisions, and management based on thresholds, although attractive in its simplicity, allows pernicious, slow and diffuse degradation to persist nearly indefinitely […]
Schlesinger’s insight is important. The concept of “Planetary Boundaries” is written in the language policymakers will understand. On the other hand, under PB scientists and anybody caring about the environment become second-class players, in this paradoxical locking up of the study and preservation of our planet to the service of those who make “policy“.
That’s the way of the worst kind of management techniques, geared up to handle not what should be managed, rather just whatever happens to be measurable. A quick look at the proverbial efficiency and low costs of the British National Health System (NHS) will be enough to understand what can this all end up as.
Obviously, the PB concept is not unadulterated rubbish to be thrown away. Just as obviously, it is not (even remotely) the ultimate solution to our problems. My wild guess is that PB is valid and useful in two out of seven of the listed “boundaries”, but the thresholds need to be understood in terms of the range of possible scenarios (some good, some bad) that the reaching of the tipping point may bring.
And I realize that these questions do not have as much sense to most of the catastrophiliacs now, but let me ask their selves, reading this in 2029:
(1) Why were you scared silly of the future?
(2) On what logical basis did you take any possible change as something necessarily negative?
(3) Why did you fill your “scientific” thoughts of “tipping points” before having ever experienced even one of them?
At 10:33GMT, 3,916 IN and 4,836 OUT. Twelve hours later, it’s 10:36PM GMT, and 5,352 IN, 5,426 OUT. Even if there is nothing scientific in these onlines polls, considering also how lopsided the count was at the beginning of the day, one thing that is certain is that there are simply not enough AGW web users to counterbalance skepticism on their own
(I would not be surprised if in the long run the numbers will be higher on the AGW side…persuasion is the weapon of the AGW campaigner…)
PROVE IT! claims to provide “the evidence to decide where you stand”. Does it? One has to dig a lot in the site but it appears the evidence that the climate is changing rests solely on the increase in temperature “by 0.75 °C“. And the effects that should prove the climate is changing are dubious to say the least:
Rainfall patterns are changing. After three centuries of stability, sea level is now rising. Ice in the Arctic is melting further back year on year. Extreme weather, such as droughts and hurricanes, is becoming more common or more intense. The changing weather patterns are causing plants to flower earlier in the year and species to migrate as the climate in their habitats changes
If I happen to pass by the PROVE IT! exhibition, I will think of the best ways to rectify the Science of the science Museum on the topic…
I have found that the only scientists who disagree with the IPCC report are those who have not read it and are poorly informed
Contrarily to what the most argument-challenged readers of this blog might think, I fully agree with Dr Trenberth’s statement. Only, I arrive at his same conclusion starting from a very different point of view (wonder if Morano will ever try to sing a different tune?).
I have read several chapters of the IPCC AR4 (2007) (sadly, I have not read the whole thing in full from start to end and seriously wonder if anybody ever has). Fact is, they are all written in a scientifically very valid way. As the science of climate is still full of uncertainties, then whatever the future, may it be hot, may it be cold, it will be impossible to ever find in the IPCC reports any item that may be actually considered as fundamentally wrong or misleading.
Everything is in there and its opposite, by wise [UPDATE: “wise” means “wise” in a POSITIVE way…do not mix it up with “weasel” or anything else with a bad connotation] use of words like “could”, “might” and “likely”. Even if we meet again in 2050 and global cooling is in full swing, still the IPCC reports will be, in a sense, correct. Take for example AR4-SYR-SPM (Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers)
page 5: Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations
page 7: Continued GHG emissions at or above current rates would [note how they had so many would‘s to distribute, they added one too many here]cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century
Where uncertainty in specific outcomes is assessed using expert judgment and statistical analysis of a body of evidence (e.g. observations or model results), then the following likelihood ranges are used to express the assessed probability of occurrence: virtually certain >99%; extremely likely >95%; very likely >90%; likely >66%; more likely than not > 50%; about as likely as not 33% to 66%; unlikely <33%; very unlikely <10%; extremely unlikely <5%; exceptionally unlikely <1%.
Since “very likely” stops at 90%, it means that the IPCC experts agree that there is a 10% probability that most of observed temperature increases might not be due to “increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations“. And that there is a 10% probability that the 21st century will not see anything larger than the 20th century has seen.
So if anything like that actually happens, well, the IPCC AR4 has already included that possibility, has it not?
Interestingly, if the IPCC work were to be presented as a scientific article, and the p-value associated to the null hypothesis (that observed temperature increases have nothing to do with increased GHG concentrations) were 0.1 or 10%, most if not all journals would deny publication.
(2) For the time being, HSR is a place where AGW believers and skeptics can exchange disagreements rather than outright insults. One suspects, that is because of the absence of the “usual suspects”, the clique of self-appointed AGW True Believers, the Osama bin Climate‘s fond of censorship and coprolalia
(3) The HSR comment area is the best place where to see AGW skepticism at work, with plenty of nuances, disagreements, sentences at the opposite ends of some scales on the part of people that only agree that the AGW brouhaha is a wild overstatement. If that doesn’t disprove the cretin label of “Denialists”, I don’t know what will.
To summarize, a pro-AGW paper being peer reviewed by other climate scientists is probably (like Briffa appears to have been) being considered favorably because of its results, is being reviewed by reviewers who know and often have co-authored with the paper’s writer, likely contains undisclosed data treatment that influences the result, is being reviewed by reviewers who do not have the mathematical background to spot subtle statistical errors, and is being judged on “conformity to accepted practices in the discipline” in a discipline that is evolving so quickly that the “accepted practices” themselves are not well validated.
I’m not sure that this kind of peer review means what many of us appear to think it does.
Are reputable people actually saying this? Even with my basic and flawed understanding of AGW, this is expressly not what people are saying. I call straw man.
That led me to elaborate more on the topic (see here and here and here). I am putting it all together below.
The overwhelming importance in contemporary mainstream climatology of CO2/GHG warming, and of the human contribution to it, can be read in a Jan 27, 2005 blog (“What If … the “Hockey Stick” Were Wrong?” by stefan) on Real Climate:
The main reason for concern about anthropogenic climate change is not that we can already see it (although we can). The main reason is twofold.
(1) Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing rapidly in the atmosphere due to human activity. This is a measured fact not even disputed by staunch “climate skeptics”.
(2) Any increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will change the radiation balance of the Earth and increase surface temperatures. This is basic and undisputed physics that has been known for over a hundred years.
The key words are main, concern, anthropogenic climate change, due to human activity. That is, RealClimate and (by simple logical extension) the scientific consensus on Climate Change, are concerned because human activities are increasing ghg’s (and especially, CO2) in the atmosphere.
What was the IPCC established for, after all, if not to investigate the warming effects of CO2/GHGs emissions from human activities? Here’s from the FAR (1990) as per Wikipedia:
…emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases: CO2, methane, CFCs and nitrous oxide. These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface…
The key words there are human activities, increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases, additional warming.
Hence: “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!”…a slogan that has all the defects of a slogan (e.g. simplification), and yet conveys the two most important aspects of the AGW scare and dogma. “Most important” by a long shot.
Let’s look at how long a shot, from a purely logical point of view. What would happen if human activities would not be emitting CO2/GHGs? There would be no IPCC. What would happen had it been thought there were no AGW, Anthropogenic Global Warming? There would be no IPCC.
That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are necessary conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.
What would happen if the only driver for climate change were human emissions of CO2/GHGs? There would still be an IPCC. What would happen if the only climate phenomenon of note were AGW? There would still be an IPCC.
That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are sufficient conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.
Therefore, since CO2/GHG emissions and AGW are (together) necessary and sufficient for the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus to exist, the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus are for all intents and purposes exclusively dedicated to CO2/GHG emissions and AGW.
“It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW”. QED.
That’s why, as remarked by another commenter “MrPete”, the “primary policy push” is about GHGs, and in particular about CO2.
In a saner world, in fact, we would have gone a long way already to eliminate that other, and shall I say even more established source of climate change and untold numbers of respiratory diseases and deaths, namely soot. And especially the soot generated by primitive cooking stoves.
It is one of the biggest tragedies of the AGW consensus: we could have in a month a 10-year worldwide plan to physically eliminate all human emissions of soot at a relatively minor cost…look instead how many person-years are being wasted for a Copenhagen deal that everybody well knows it will be ineffectual and costly at best.
But what can we do? After all…It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!
What’s so good about it? Well, for once everybody should join in the celebration of a climate model that is presented for what it is (a policymaking tool for “negotiators to assess their national greenhouse-gas commitments ahead of December’s climate summit in Copenhagen“) rather than for what it is not (a scientific tool “used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the climate system to projections of future climate“, as rather naively claimed on Wikipedia).
Shermer’s point is so incredibly obvious, I am sure very few people will be able to “get it”:
In my opinion we need to chill out on all extremist plans that entail expenses best described as Brobdingnagian, require our intervention into developing countries best portrayed as imperialistic, or involve state controls best portrayed as fascistic. Give green technologies and free markets a chance
Will the above earn him (again?) the label of Denialist? Who knows? For well-known reasons, his mention of Bjorn Lomborg seems to have caused a stir (even if they both are firmly in the AGW camp…I presume that’s what happens when one agrees with people all too ready to label as “denialist” anybody that doesn’t fully agree with them).
Shermer suggests also five questions to help establish if one is “a global warming skeptic, or […] skeptical of the global warming skeptics“:
Is the earth getting warmer?
Is the cause of global warming human activity?
How much warmer is it going to get?
What are the consequences of a warmer climate?
How much should we invest in altering the climate?
Shermer’s answers: (1) yes, (2) “primarily“, (3) “moderate warming with moderate changes” (following the IPCC, no less), (4) “consequences must be weighed in the balance” (that is, positive consequences should be considered too), (5) much less than the “Brobdingnagian“ proposals being talked about, and not even as much as recommended by the IPCC (with references to Lomborg and Nordhaus).
Interestingly, Shermer shows his skepticism increasing from nil (questions 1 and 2) to almost 100% (question 5)
How do you score on Shermer’s questions? I can answer also on the basis of my About page: (1) yes, (2) slightly, (3) between almost nothing and half of what Shermer expects, (4) overall, consequences will be positive and (5) zero.
A couple of interesting “greenie” articles…if only because one doesn’t have to follow through to each and everyone of their conclusions to agree with their observations: much of what is being touted as solution to (alleged) planetary environmental problems is “a way of making you think” begging the question of “what difference does it make?”
You can bet that in the next few months someone will chastise you for not being “green” enough. […] Car companies are going “green” and so are refineries, builders, and just about every other industry with any exposure to the public. As a matter of fact, even manufacturers of ammunition are producing “green” bullets. These would be particularly appropriate, I suppose, for shooting environmental activists. So, what is this “green?” Is it new? Where did it come from and, why now?
[…] “Green” isn’t a thing as much as a way of thinking. Or, a way of making you think.
[…] Being Greener. The first phase had already taken place. They switched to “greener” office products: recycled paper, bamboo paper clips, solar powered calculators; a bold switch from chemical adhesives to certified organic muselage ground from the bulbs of renewable wild Hyacinth.
I was musing about some of the consequences, like the move to far costlier refillable pens. They still buy the same number of pens. What they didn’t consider was that the pens weren’t wearing out or running dry, they would “disappear” long before they ever ran out of ink. It would have been greener to simply chain the disposable pens to conveniently located writing surfaces.
As I waited for the light to change, my eyes were drawn to the gutter where the exact composition of the decaying soggy mass was indiscernible, but I did notice that some of it was turning green. And, it sort of begs the question, what difference does it make […]
WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?
[…] An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.
Or let’s talk water. […] See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings.
[…] Or let’s talk energy. […] “even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”
[…] Or let’s talk waste. […] Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States […] .
That’s the start of a courageous, no-holds-barred Sep 9, 2009 editorial by Sian Lewis on SciDev.net (“a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world“).
research agendas must both respond to social needs and offer good science
fulfilling the second condition is more tricky
There is clearly a link between insect-borne diseases and climate
But a whole host of non-climate factors also influence disease transmission…
So we mustn’t go overboard, reading too much into the role of climate change at the expense of research into other triggers of these major diseases
good science is crucial for good policy
The task is urgent — but this must not lead to short-cuts
The editorial is an introduction to
“a series of articles [that] explore the evidence for (and against) the notion that climate change will worsen the burden of insect-borne disease, highlights gaps in our knowledge, and provides advice to policymakers“
Skeptic vs. Climatechanger debates are few and far between, and not for the lack of willing skeptical debaters (one suspects, it’s because skeptics invariably win, just like against homeopathy practitioners, UFO believers, creationist/ID proponents, chemtrails counter-conspirators, etc etc)
If Monbiot could sustain a debate, that is. I have my doubts.
The Monbiot/Schmidt couple took the Plimer bait actually a tad too easily. Evidently knowing how to make opponents fall flat on their faces even when apparently much more powerful than him, all Plimer had to do is artificially concoct an “escape route” that would allow Monbiot to declare himself the winner without actually having won anything.
The “escape route” is Plimer’s refusal to answer in print. And Monbiot, shall I say OF COURSE, eagerly took it, unable to understand the consequences.
Isn’t it more heartwarming to be able to tell one’s own troops about how bad the enemy is, rather than getting into a dangerous, live debate with that same enemy?
Especially when one has extremely poor argumentative skills, like Monbiot when he includes the mention of the “Gish Gallop“, “named after [creationist] Duane Gish […] a special case of fast talking (the technique famously employed by Snake Oil Salesman that confuses people with fast long strings of words long enough to convince them to buy snake oil“.
Yes, but: people like Michael Shermer (and Ian Plimer, by the way) have actually debated with Gish. They haven’t just sat at their desk whining about the Gish Gallop.
Now we will only get Plimer on Thursday 12 November at 2 Savoy Place, London WC1, where he “will give a 30 minute lecture on global warming and then take questions/points from the audience for 60 minute“.
I will believe in that only when I see it happening, by the way…whose kneecaps is Plimer going to try to (figuratively) break? 😎
In matters of AGW, are the poor of the world going to get the wrong end of the stick no matter what?
A relatively long letter by a Rebecca Harris from Washington has been published in the Aug 4, 2009 print edition of the International Herald Tribune, under the title “World Bank: A Carbon Bigfoot“. Ms Harris obviously wants to convince the World Bank to become AGW-friendly:
The World Bank continues to promote development models based on a prolonged reliance on fossil fuels, illustrated by its 59 percent increase in fossil fuel lending over the last three years. Every additional coal investment ensures future greenhouse gas emissions for the multiple-decades-long lifespan of the coal plant. If the rest of the world is talking emissions targets at long last, why is the World Bank playing saboteur?
The bank must accept its role in transitioning countries onto a low-carbon development trajectory by shifting its energy investments away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy projects. Developed and developing countries alike will be held to increasingly stringent emissions standards in the coming years. World Bank investments in renewable energy now will lessen the burden developing countries will face in meeting these standards in the future.
Talk about a peculiar strategy: the World Bank would have to help people develop (i.e. get out of poverty) but not in a coal-using way. One suspects the development course (the getting out of poverty) will only be slower than it would be with an unfettered use of coal. But wouldn’t that make people poorer, that is more vulnerable to climate change?
Who is Rebecca Harris? The (print) letter refers to a “Bank Information Center”. Google sends to a (single entry?) blog on “Foreign Policy”, where Ms Harris is indicated as “information services coordinator at the Bank Information Center (www.bicusa.org)“.
In its website, the BIC (lists Rebecca Harris’ letter high in the Updates section, and) defines itself as the following:
The Bank Information Center partners with civil society in developing and transition countries to influence the World Bank and other international financial institutions to promote social and economic justice and ecological sustainability
Notably, they promote social and economic “justice”, whatever that is. Coupling that mysterious concept to “ecological sustainability”, it seems the fact that people might as well remain poor is of no much importance to BIC.
BIC’s Climate Change Campaign will focus on shifting the World Bank Group’s (WBG) energy sector strategy/portfolio away from fossil fuels and toward the financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency
Going around the BIC site, one discovers also their “Strategic Plan 2009-2012“. They describe 3 Campaigns for the period, one of them about Climate Change, with the following “desired outcomes”:
WBG supports global transition to lower-carbon energy production by reducing its fossil fuel lending and increasing financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency
Climate Investment Funds and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility are governed transparently and consistently with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) principles and decisions
Civil society partners have deeper understanding of the role of the WBG in both contributing to and mitigating climate change.
Curiously, the underlying challenge is publicly acknowledged
With an estimated 1.6 billion people in developing countries without access to electricity, the Bank‟s approach to energy sector investments must balance climate change concerns with availability of energy for the poor.
[…] development need not be sacrificed in the name of climate change. In 2008, the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group found that there is no significant trade-off between climate change mitigation and energy access for the world’s poorest. The provision of basic electricity services for the world’s unconnected households would add only a third of one percentage point to global greenhouse gas emissions! […]
I am definitely puzzled now…if the “provision of basic electricity services for the world’s unconnected households would add only” 0.3% to GHG emissions, why would it be wrong for the World Bank to finance coal-using projects to do just that?
The assessment finds that even with important gains in renewable energy and energy efficiency in recent years, the World Bank Group’s overall lending approach to the energy sector does not support developing countries’ transition towards a low-carbon development path
Once again, BIC show that what they worry about, is for developing countries to develop but only and strictly along a (forced) “low-carbon development path“.
Even that 0.3% is 0.3% too much…because in matters of AGW, the poor of the world are going to get the wrong end of the stick, no matter what.
That is, with RealClimate in tow, and after Swanson and Tsonis, we can yell out loud and clear that the scientific consensus says that all AGW-related troubles that we could be concerned about, they belong to the future.
Repeat with me: AGW as a matter of grave concern for the whole of humanity, is not happening. That is, there is no scientific justification at all to discuss AGW as an issue for the present instead of properly, as a risk management question involving some decades in the future.
(2) All this discussions about the recent “pause in warming” (in Swanson’s words…as if it had any meaning given the above) are ammunitions that will be used to argue against AGW once the warming resumes (eventually, it will…). If 10 years can’t say much in a direction, they cannot say much in the other direction either.
(3) In other words, all scientific discussions in climatology should confine themselves to the climate of the end of the 1970’s. Anything that has happened after that, it’s by definition too early to talk about.
(3) Raypierre tries at length to justify Tsonis’s words published in an interview. Among those:
“if we don’t understand what is natural, I don’t think we can say much about what the humans are doing. So our interest is to understand — first the natural variability of climate — and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural“
I am afraid all “comments were taken out of context” (Raypierre’s defense) are excuses simply demolished by Swanson’s writing that:
“humanity is poking a complex, nonlinear system with GHG forcing – and […] there are no guarantees to how the climate may respond“
Repeat with me: We have little clue about the Earth’s climate will respond to anything, be it natural or man-made. The final result might be a cooling, a warming, or no much change at all.
Let me finish by noticing two details. First of all, in Swanson’s words presumably approved by Raypierre/RC, Global Warming (AGW) is now “the century-scale response to greenhouse gas emissions“. And I thought it was multidecadal? Not any longer: even 50 years of global cooling will be compatible with AGW.
But to conclude on a high note: the anti-skeptic RC filters of old don’t appear to have been heavily used this time. Who knows, it might even be a way to show that the RC folks are thinking of getting rid of their aburd fear for debating.
But don’t hold your breath about that…especially when they will realize what the stuff they publish actually means.
While you’re at it, could you also please try to transform parts of the central Mediterranean into jacuzzis during the month of August, and provide in those same areas a gently cooling breeze, preferably between 2-4pm?
Or do they? Top of the list comes Costarica, a wonderful country if you ask me, the best place on Earth to live in if you don’t want to be poor, have your life cut short or live iwth a gian ecological footprint. But alas that is not enough:
“Costa Rica narrowly fails to achieve the goal of ‘one-planet living’“
Unbelievable, isn’t it? On a positive note, nef acknowledges that previous “Happiness” measurements were a tad too fundamentalist, with that paradise called Haiti ranked first, despite its murder rate, abysmal poverty, garbage-built shanty towns, etc etc
“The country with the highest I based on the data for 2005, would be Haiti – which has very poor levels of life satisfaction and life expectancy, but the smallest ecological footprint: 0.5 gha“
Anyway…let’s wait until nef moves its HQ from London to somewhere near San José, shall we…
Rejoice all ye faithful! Warmist Extraordinaire, BBC News environmental expert journalist Mr Richard Black has started to grasp all that is wrong with AGW messages such “the planet is burning”, “humanity is in peril”, “climate change is a bigger threat than nuclear war”.
I would have never expected to read Mr Black (with whom I have a longlist of past disagreements) write statements such as
Climate change is projected to become a major driver of biodiversity decline […] but at the moment, the major factor is habitat loss as the human footprint expands. When it comes to fisheries […] the single biggest driver is undoubtedly over-consumption […] And underlying it all is the growth in the human species
[…] if climate impacts are at present largely reversible but the loss of a species self-evidently isn’t, does that make biodiversity loss more important than climate change?
[…] if the fundamental drivers of all the trends are the swelling in the human population and our expanding thirst for raw materials, why aren’t these the things that politicians and environmental groups are shouting about and trying to change?
some of the policies being considered as a response to climate change […] could exacerbate other environmental problems
Perhaps he (and some among my twelve readers) will now understand why I simply cannot bear the constant barrage of absurdist climate change claims (shrinking sheep included). AND the BBC’s own fixation with all things global warming.
IMNSHO, anybody that cares about the environment should be wary of overshooting remarks about any particular environmental issue: those will not help solve anything, and likely will make things worse overall.
…we might get up to 2.37C total temperature reduction by 2100. That’s around half of the projected BAU rise. And 1.129C of those would be the result of implementing Waxman-Markey targets in China, India and the rest of Asia, minus the Middle East and the former Soviet Union that is.
Now, who or what is going to convince China and India, a combined total of 2.5 billion people, to remain poor in the name of safeguarding the planet, exactly at the moment when their fortunes appear to be turning and future riches start to beacon?
Good luck with that…considering also that the implementation of climate-virtuous solutions developed in the USA and in Europe will not necessarily be feasible outside of the USA and Europe.
It is truly amazing to discover an “Open Letter to Climate Change Denialists” that is as close-minded as they can get, with sentences such as “we also welcome dissenting views, even when we think they’re unfounded” and “there’s no point in debating the science with you“.
The guy signing as Daniel Farber appears to be some sort of a “lawyer” that has written a paper titled “Climate Models: A User’s Guide” with “two goals: providing legal and policy analysts with a basic understanding of the types of computer models that are used in studying climate change, and thinking through the uses and limitations of these models for courts and agencies“.
Trouble is, the “User’s Guide” looks just like a glorified appeal on managing risk by concentrating on the “fat tail”, the potential, enormous risks should things go very badly. Its conclusions are not climate-specific: they apply to any problem with a “fat tail”. And they are wrong.
Man shall not manage risk on “worst-case scenario” alone. If one were to educate one’s children only based on that principle, one’d make their life a hell on earth. If one were to live by that principle, one’d never get out of bed in the morning. And if one were to make politics by that principle, well, no need to imagine things there, it’s been the Cheney/Rumsfeld strand of foreign policy for a few decades.
Luckily Mr Farber is no risk manager, otherwise some serious professional questions could have been made. Anyway, it would have been nice to read something more lawyerly than a rather fallacious attempt at presenting a three-possibilities choice that is obviously a reduction too far (already the second comment found a fourth possibility…)
ps as of now no much support for Mr Farber in the comments
pps Mr Farber appears to make the peculiar argument of having only AGWers as friends and acquaintances (“reaching readers who are well outside our usual circle of friends and acquaintances“)
ppps I would not be surprised if the overall goal is just to write another article attacking all anti-AGW arguments that pop up in the comments
I think too many people are missing the point…”sustainable energy” is sustainable in the sense that in the medium if not short term it will make all of us poor and jobless, therefore drastically reducing our greenhouse emissions.
As a bonus, it will also make most of the Western world wretched enough to be wholly unattractive to Third World workers, thereby resolving the immigration issues as well.
Here’s a couple of signs of what bright-minded greenies are preparing for us…
[…] There may well be an argument that what happens to trees thousands of miles away is a problem. But the problems experienced by the poor in Brazil, and throughout the world, must surely be more pressing. Instead, it is squeamishness about what our shopping habits do to forests that drives the argument for international regulatory frameworks, and it is hard to see how focusing on land, trees and cows will raise the standard of living for people whose labour and lives are cheap. Such campaigns seem to express greater solidarity with wood than with people.
Greenpeace enjoys an increasingly cosy relationship with the establishment. As politicians find it harder to make arguments for themselves, they frequently turn to NGOs to give their policies credibility. For instance, the UK Conservative leader David Cameron recently launched his party’s energy policy at a press event held on the rooftop of Greenpeace’s London HQ (watch it here).
Journalists, too, look to such organisations for moral direction and sensational copy. This means that rather than holding them to account, the claims and broader agendas of NGOs often go without scrutiny or criticism. It is taken for granted that they are ‘ethical’, but no one ever voted for Greenpeace and there is no good reason to believe that the preoccupation with environmental issues is in the interests of people, either in the UK or in Brazil