AGW Omniclimate

Catastrophes Book "Equivocal" About Climate Change

A recently published (serious) book about future catastrophes appears to confirm that there is nothing special about allegedly upcoming climate change disasters: to the contrary, there are too many uncertainties to put those on equal standing with, for example, the spread of new diseases.

If that is true, the oft-repeated “precautionary principle” argument (by AGW alarmists) will lose any sense it might have ever had.

The following is from the New York Review of Books, Sep 24, 2009. The reviewer is Joel E. Cohen, the book is Global “Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years” by Vaclav Smil, “a versatile geographer at the University of Manitoba” that “provides a broad, factual vision of the “major factors that will shape the global future“:

About climate change, Smil is equivocal. He acknowledges the potentially far-reaching consequences of global warming, and warns that “continued large-scale combustion of fossil fuels could increase atmospheric CO2 to levels unseen since large herds of horses and camels grazed on grassy plains of America.” He also writes that “no country will be immune to global climate change, and no military capability, economic productivity, or orthodox religiosity can provide protection against its varied consequences.” But he suggests that “this preoccupation with CO2 misses nearly half of the problem,” because other kinds of greenhouse gases, such as methane (which is emitted by livestock, natural gas, and organic decay), have more potent greenhouse effects, even if they are less abundant. And he is critical of predictions about global warming derived from complex models of climate behavior, which he considers “elaborate speculations“:

In order to forecast the additional warming that might take place by the year 2050 we must rely on a set of highly uncertain assumptions. We do not know…the future rates of fossil fuel combustion, land use changes, fertilizer use, and meat production. They will depend on the continuing increases of energy use, the extent of discoveries of new hydrocarbon deposits, the rates of penetration of nonfossil energy conversions, national land use policies, disposable incomes, and the overall vitality of the global economy“.

Perhaps as a consequence, Smil sees climate change as one of “many other worrisome large-scale environmental changes,” and does not discuss the possible catastrophes about which some climate scientists have warned

Smil appears to be an AGW Believer of the Pielke Jr/Lomborg variety: that is, not fundamentalist enough to miss the fact that climate change scenarios are simply “elaborate speculations“. And the possibility of AGW just as one of many other problems.

Culture Omniclimate Policy Politics

For President Obama, Energy Is More Important Than Climate Change

(You can read previous blogs on similar topics here, here and here).

In “Can Obama Change the Climate?” (New York Review of Books, June 11, 2009) Bill McKibben has warm words for President Barack Obama, including the following

“Obama himself has continued to mention global warming at every turn, and in commendably strong terms”

I am afraid Mr McKibben is missing the point. During the first 6 months in office, President Obama has mentioned “global warming” almost exclusively as just one aspect of the “energy” issue.

Take for example the New York Times’ archives, where between January 1 and June 11 2009 there are:

  • 114 articles about President Obama speaking on “energy
  • 22 articles about him mentioning “global warming
  • 16 articles with the President of the United States talking about “global warming” and “energy

That is, only 6 articles are left when “global warming” appears without “energy“.

There are also 42 articles with President Obama talking on “climate change”: only 12 of which are not about “energy”.

Remarkably, the situation is more skewed when one visits the White House’s own website (

A search via Google on that website shows:

  • 3,260 pages with “Obama” and “energy
  • 68 pages with “Obama” and “global warming
  • the very same 68 pages with “Obama”, “global warming” and “energy

That is, 3,066 “Obama” pages talk of “energy” but not of “global warming”; and not even once “Obama” pages mention “global warming” but not “energy”.

Just out of curiosity: only 4 “Obama” pages talk of “climate change” but not of “energy”.

One can safely assume that for President Obama, global warming/climate change is a sideshow to the far, far bigger issue of the future of energy. Therefore, when and if a choice will have to be made between “energy” and “global warming”, in all likelihood the current US Administration will choose “energy”.