Xtreme Weather and Self Inflicted Wounds

Although consensus scientists are properly cautious about global warming’s effect on weather extremes (with the IPCC publishing a report called SREX 2012 specifically stating that weather events cannot be linked to global warming), the Krazy Konsensus Kooks cannot resist tying any weather event at all to human caused climate change. It’s Xtreme Weather and it’s coming to kill you!

The latest example comes to us courtesy of Jo Nova, a skeptical blogger who I think is spot on when it comes to a recent post.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has quite clearly adopted a corporate stance favoring climate activism. As they are not scientists, it is inevitable that they will make some mistakes.

Stephen O’Brien: “The Pacific Region, and particularly the Pacific Island countries whose land, as you rightly say, are the ones just above sea-level, are the ones that really do have the greatest challenge when it comes to climate change effects on humanitarian need, with the regularity of cyclones, tropical storms, and tsunamis coming through…”

While I suppose there are some who actually believe human caused global warming can affect the frequency and amplitude of earthquakes and their occasionally attendant tsunamis, I’m inclined to let this one pass as just a slip-up.

But when it’s followed by coverage of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s statement regarding the occurrence of cyclones in or near Australia in the month of July, that seems a bit like not doing the job that journalists are supposed to do.

The BOM stated that a July 1 cyclone was the very first cyclone to strike the region in July.

Mistake

Nova lists 12 such cyclones occurring in July and her commenters add quite a few more.

The BOM statement is inaccurate. The ABC published the memo without checking.

People are frequently making absurd claims about Xtreme Weather. It is damaging the debate we need to have about climate change.

This frantic search for something that will garner a headline is destroying the credibility of climate science.

Who will serve as the Andrew Wakefield of climate science?

Bill McKibben Lets Loose Again

Fresh from calling President Barack Obama a climate change denier, Bill McKibben is now lumping Canada with places like… Mordor, or maybe Nigeria. Fresh from his three day round trip flight to Ireland for a convention against CO2 emissions, McKibben said, “From a distance, watching the trashing of environmental regulations; watching the efforts to intimidate environmental groups, First Nations – watching all that’s been pretty sad.”

Canada has recently backed away from some environmental initiatives, but they have been in the forefront on the environmental front for decades. Condemning them because you don’t like one thing they’ve recently done is as stupid and crazy as… well, calling the most environmentally friendly president since Theodore Roosevelt a denier. Oh.

Perhpas McKibben can take solace in the publication of the recent Papal encyclical, which McKibben said was “a moment to revivify the many millions of Americans who stopped thinking that faith had something important to say to the world and to remind them that in fact it does have something important to say to the world.”  It’s amazing how many new converts the Pope has from unexpected sources, ranging from McKibben to Eli Rabett to And Then There’s Physics.

One of McKibben’s greatest missions has been to disrupt Canadian excavation of tar sands for oil, which he pitches to the Canadians as an effort to protect their environment and which he pitches to the rest of the world as a way of leaving fossil fuels in the ground. Of course, the net result is more oil extraction from places like Nigeria, where “Royal Dutch Shell and the Italian multinational oil giant ENI have admitted to more than 550 oil spills in the Niger Delta last year, according to an Amnesty International analysis of the companies’ latest figures.”

Blocking the Keystone Pipeline has forced shipment of Alberta oil by rail and truck, coincidentally emitting more CO2 and increasing the chances of oil spills. Sort of destroying the village to save it, but at least it’s making Warren Buffet richer. Buffett owns the rail line that currently is substituting for the unbuilt Keystone pipeline. As McKibben doesn’t disclose who’s funding his efforts at 350.org, who knows? Maybe Buffet can find a way to thank him for his efforts, if he hasn’t already. However, although McKibben doesn’t talk about who funds him, others discovered that considerable funding for 350.org comes from the Rockefeller Brothers, who of course made the money they are donating to McKibben by extracting oil from Pennsylvania and other places far from Canada.

McKibben is also an enthusiastic advocate of divesting your shares in fossil fuel companies. McKibben apparently believes that the past success of international efforts to lower emissions means that governments worldwide will demand that oil companies leave oil in the ground as ‘stranded assets’, that China and India will quit digging for coal, that frackers will lay down their drill bits. Of course, the Department of Energy and the International Energy Agency believe consumption of fossil fuels will double in the next 20 years, so you divestors will be sort of selling at the bottom of the cycle, but that’s a small price to pay for purity.

In short, McKibben is an activist who is (in my opinion) wrong on all the major issues of the day, joining people like Rajendra Pachauri, Michael Mann and Paul Ehrlich at the top end, supported by bloggers like Eli Rabett, Michael Tobis and And Then There’s Physics at the bottom end.

Bill, pay attention here:

  • Barack Obama is not a denier
  • Stopping the Keystone pipeline will not stop oil extraction in Canada. It will however, make transporting it more emissive and more dangerous.
  • The Pope understands poverty. Getting his opinion on climate change is not relevant
  • Fossil fuel consumption will double in the next 20 years. People and institutions who sell their shares now will be selling to people who recognize a real opportunity. Those buyers may be less concerned about the environment than those who are selling.

Can someone point me to an instance of McKibben being right about anything? I suppose it doesn’t really matter very much, but I just wonder what kind of world we will create if we keep listening to people who are demonstrably mistaken on issue after issue.

Lilys_-_Everything_Wrong_Is_Imaginary

Attribution of Recent Climate Change to Human Causes

There are serious climate scientists who  believe that 110% of recent climate change is due to human emissions of CO2. They think that natural variability is pushing down temperatures, canceling 10%  of the effect of our greenhouse gases. There is apparently no room in their world for deforestation, black soot, etc. Greenhouse gases uber alles!

Humans do a number of things that affect the climate.  Emitting greenhouse gases is the one that gets all the attention. But deforestation, black carbon, aerosols, changes in land use and land cover, reservoirs behind dams, all change the climate. Production of cement is estimated to emit 5% of all CO2. That’s as much as is estimated for air travel.

I haven’t seen a table anywhere that shows the estimated contributions as a percentage of the whole. What I have seen are charts of those that contribute to radiative forcing, such as this one:

220px-Radiative-forcings.svg

But I’d like to see a list of all contributions to global warming, such as black carbon. Back in 2001, Stanford scientist Mark Jacobsen wrote, “”Soot -­ or black carbon ­ may be responsible for 15 to 30 percent of global warming, yet it’s not even considered in any of the discussions about controlling climate change.”

Then for 13 years we didn’t hear about it anymore. It resurfaced last year, but without percentage estimates.

When I first started covering climate change, deforestation was estimated to contribute 20% of our greenhouse gases. Now it’s down to 17%, due in part to lower deforestation but sadly also in part due to an increase in total emissions.

So, another bleg–does anyone have such a chart at hand?

It’s important. If we don’t have a simple attribution figure that is widely agreed on, we will not get the support we need.

This is the second part of the RAMA Initiative. Part 1 was Recognition. We spent a week with Viscount Monckton establishing that even a staunch skeptic is capable of recognizing climate change and that humans are capable of causing it. Attribution much exist and be accepted before we even talk about Mitigation and Adaptation, the other two components of the initiative.

So thanks in advance for the help.

Divesting From Fossil Fuels and Leaving Them In The Ground

Two new major campaigns have emerged in recent weeks in the never-ending battle against human-caused climate change.

The first is an organized movement to encourage divestment of shares in fossil fuel companies. This had some success in the campaign against South Africa’s apartheid regime, although other factors (like the dramatic drop in gold prices) had quite a bit to do with it as well. Similar campaigns have not worked well against Israel or tobacco companies. The second ‘campaign’ is a more general exhortation to unite in forcing the world to leave fossil fuels in the ground unburned.

As I recently wrote, I have no problem with people or institutions reconfiguring their portfolio to move away from business sectors that trouble them. However, some of their additional justifications for doing so don’t really make sense.

They warn that fossil fuel reserves may become stranded assets as political bans against fossil fuels may at some point make the reserves inaccessible. Although there are no such bans at present, nor are any under consideration, I suppose that is possible.

However, India, China, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico are not likely to sign on to such initiatives. Indeed, the use of fossil fuels is projected to double by 2040. Instead of assets being stranded, it seems clear they will be sweated.

For every shareholder looking to clear their conscience by selling their shares in Exxon, there will be a willing buyer who looks to the increased demand as an opportunity.

As for the idea of leaving fossil fuels in the ground, some are pushing this as a replacement meme following unsuccessful attempts to generate concern about concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is a simpler, cruder campaign–Fossil fuels are bad. We must quit using them. There are X amount of tonnes of fossil fuels that we can use without exceeding our Carbon Budget–all the rest must lie untouched.

unburnable-carbon-2

I don’t know why these campaigners would move away from science and towards bombast and politics. The Carbon Budget is an accounting fiction, much in the way 350 ppm and 2C were accounting fictions. It may just be a way of gathering fracked natural gas into the fold of condemned substances–I don’t know.

But the science behind the focus on CO2 concentrations is clearer and better understood. The Keeling Curve is the most trusted metric in the climate change debate. Sidelining it in favor of a mythical Carbon Budget is acknowledging only that you cannot make headway using science.

It’s a bad move.

I also don’t understand why climate activists want to let private companies off the hook regarding climate change. The owners of the big reserves of fossil fuels are predominantly national governments–70%, according to Forbes magazine. I wonder which government will be the first to abandon the billions they get from fossil fuels. Nigeria? Saudi Arabia? Kuwait? Russia? The U.S.?

Bear in mind that those countries that do not abandon fossil fuels will become even richer if some do. I don’t think incentives line up for success of this initiative.

Back to the drawing board, folks.

Climate Messaging Meltdown

Those advocating quick and robust action to fight climate change have never been the most adept at communicating their message. From careless and aggressive social media messages (‘We know where you live. And we be many but you be few… ‘) to the No Pressure video blowing up schoolchildren, climate activists seem intent on ignoring the effective environmental messaging of previous decades.

It may have reached a new low recently. Bill McKibben, founder and former head of 350.org, recently called President Obama a ‘denier‘, equating him with Holocaust deniers (and me too, apparently). Considering all that Obama has done to further the cause of combating climate change–and considering the post he holds–it qualifies as perhaps the Stupidest Climate Message in history.

It is a Messaging Meltdown.

MeltdownAd-GTAV

Andrew Revkin is that rare breed of journalist who can tell readers about his beliefs and still cover his beat dispassionately and fairly. He really is a throwback to the days when journalism attracted high quality minds and writers. He is passionate about the environment and firmly committed to fighting climate change. And yet Greg Laden  has attacked Revkin for essentially collaborating with ‘the enemy’, or as other, saner people would put it, doing his job. Revkin not only converses with contrarians without screaming ‘denier’ at them, he actually (gasp) allows people with different views to… comment… on… his… blog! As that is basically unknown in the activist section of the blogosphere, we can understand Laden’s shock.  (One of the crippling features of climate messaging is the fact that it never passes through the edifying crucible of debate, a conscious decision made by, well, the people contributing to this Meltdown, and so activist arguments are never sharpened by encountering the opposition–which is why skeptics and even lukewarmers just take the activists’ lunch money on the rare occasions that they do face off in a public forum.)

The writers of the recent EcoModernist manifesto are now being attacked by the activist  Eli Rabett who, failing to find anything concrete in the Manifesto to object to, managed to create out of thin air a Manichean Manifesto desire to drive towards Marxist Industrial policy (or is it Industrial Marxist policy?), saying that when the Manifesto notes that people are moving into big cities they are implicitly accepting that some big cities have authoritarian central control mechanisms.

That’s a typical Klimate Konsensus ploy:

EcoMod: “I note that this trend is occurring. If it continues it will lessen human impact on the planet.”

KK: “I say this trend leads to more central control and less freedom. No, I don’t have evidence past Singapore and no, I won’t look at places like London or Rio de Janeiro where the opposite is the case.”

KK: “I have conclusively proved that EcoMods are out to take away your freedom! They are Maaarrrxxxxists! Maaarrrxxxxists! Maaarrrxxxxists!”

Not coincidentally, all of those guilty of this type of messaging also write long screeds bemoaning and bewailing the inability of the public to react appropriately to their messaging.

Imagine that.

In Which Eli Rabett Personifies Joseph McCarthy–The Attacks On EcoModernism Begin

Because The EcoModernist Manifesto is both logical and reasonable in its approach to dealing with climate change, it is anathema to the Konsensus Alarmists that split off from logic and reason long ago.

It’s actually quite good and if you haven’t read it I encourage you to do so. Think of it as the counter example to the more recent papal encyclical. Where the encyclical is mysterious, the manifeto is logical. Lots of other yin/yang comparisons could be made.

One of the central themes of the Manifesto is that as we progress, we have less of an impact on nature–they call it ‘decoupling.’ But noting technological progress has been a force for good makes the Konsensus’ heads explode–they demand that we turn back the clock on progress and regress to simpler times, specifically before the inventions of democracy and the middle class. Useless fripperies.

So the Konsensus Alarmists, well represented by Eli Rabett of Rabett Run, are in attack mode. Like well-organized hatchet jobs they have done in the past against skeptical scientists, they employ innuendo, bitter sarcasm and a conscious misreading of what their opponents write and say in an effort to first discredit their opponents, then deligitimize their very participation in the debate.

Konsensus Alarmists are the political faction that hide behind the very real consensus of scientists who tell us that global warming is real, in good part man-made and something we need to address. Konsensus Alarmists are a very different group of people, trumpeting the findings of decades ago regarding the potential for climate damage and studiously ignoring all findings since then that show sensitivity as being lower, sea level rise as more moderate, weather being quite similar to weather of previous eras, coral reefs being more resilient, etc.

They did it with Roger Pielke Sr., and enjoyed it so much they did it to Pielke’s son. They did it with Judith Curry. They did it with Richard Lindzen and with Freeman Dyson. They did it with Steve McIntyre. They did it with Lucia Liljegren.

The Alarmist Konsensus more recently has tarred President Obama with the epithet ‘denier’ and accused NY Times blogger Andrew Revkin of sleeping with the enemy. No deviation from ideological purity will be tolerated–President Obama has done more to combat climate change than anyone in recent memory, spending political capital as well as hard-earned taxpayer dollars to do so. Andrew Revkin was one of the first reporters to focus on climate change and has done so brilliantly for decades. But the slur ‘denier’ has never had anything to do with denying climate change. It has always and only been about ‘denying’ that the Alarmist Konsensus policy proposals were the only way to deal with it.

The EcoModernist Manifesto does incorporate both recent science and recent economics in charting a path that supports the continuing development of the emerging countries while accepting the need for the developed countries to take actions that will both mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

So naturally Eli Rabett calls it a return to industrial Marxism, comparing it to what Mao did in China and Stalin did in Russia. This is projection of the  most classic variety–Rabett has employed Stalinistic tactics in his writings for years, demanding ideological purity and ruthless in his work in stamping out any deviation.

As he has done when inveighing against other more moderate views on climate policy (Rabett is lauded by his circle of Konsensus pietists for his attacks on The Breakthrough Institute, The Hartwell Paper, as well as on both Pielkes and more), Rabett reaches for a political insult first and then happily begins to make stuff up to justify it.

Rabett scribbles “Ecomodernism postulates movement of population to large cities, industrialization of agriculture and the isolation of areas for nature.  It is not that we do not know where that vision leads, and we even have examples today of nations that are essentially single cities such as Singapore and Qatar moving in that direction.”

Perhaps Rabett has been too busy hunting witches to notice that the global trend towards urbanization pre-dates the Ecomodernist Manifesto by several decades: They don’t ‘postulate’ it, they recognize it and note the possibilities this trend offers for returning vast tracts of land to nature.

Of course, Rabett then makes the obligatory jump through the hula hoop of illogic, the leap of bad faith, writing “The reliance of the ecomodernist city state on complex technologies requires strong central control to keep the machine running, leaving little room for individuality.”

And that’s it. That’s why the EcoModernists are secretly pushing for a Marxist world. So for his fellow Lysenkoists, Rabett’s point is characterized quite neatly. It is only the rest of the world that notices that he is writing functionally as would a moron.

1. The world’s population is moving to the cities

2. The EcoModernist manifesto notes this and suggests it is an opportunity to return land to nature.

3. Rabett says that big cities require central control (I guess he has never been to London or Taipei, which have thrived without central control)

4. Because Rabett says that big cities require central control, The EcoModernist Manifesto is endorsing industrial Marxism.

Sane people look at this and say that Rabett has pulled the accusation out of his hat. Or somewhere else.

better rabett

Hounding the Credit Rating Agencies on Climate Change

Well, a concerted campaign for divestment of South African company shares may have contributed to the end of the Apartheid regime there. Now some are trying to push a similar strategy for divestment in fossil fuel companies.

As a political choice I think it’s certainly legitimate, if not likely to prove as effective as it was in South Africa. If you don’t want to own Exxon, sell your shares. Someone will be happy to buy them at the right price.

What’s coming up on the horizon is more hard ball, however. A report from The Center for International Environmental Law basically accuses the credit rating agencies (Standard & Poors, Moody’s and others) of ignoring the impact of attempts to curb climate change on the value of fossil fuel companies. They think that fossil fuel companies are riskier than they appear.

They appear to want to drive down the share prices of fossil fuel companies. I wonder if they’ve thought this through. If they want people to divest their shares in oil companies, do they want to drive the price down first? Hmmm.

Certainly, if we stopped burning fossil fuels their producers would be in a bit of a quandary.

But we already know that is not going to happen. As I wrote on 3000Quads, the companion blog to my efforts here, “The five top fuel consuming (and CO2 emitting, for those keeping score) countries are China, the U.S., India, Russia and China will consume about 60% of the world’s energy in 2040 (and account for a similar percentage of emissions. The second five countries account for about 10%, so it really is the top 5 countries that matter.

“And each of these five countries has been pursuing (and promoting their pursuit) of green energy sources to the rest of the world. To hear them all talk, green energy is going to take over the world.
“However, their planned expansion programs for nuclear, hydroelectric, solar and wind,biofuels and natural gas are not going to do the job.
“In fact, if everything that is on the planning boards gets built in those five countries, the percentages of renewable and nuclear energy used will climb from 17% today to 20% in 2040. And that’s if the DOE estimates of fuel consumption (819.6 quads projected for 2040) are correct. If my more pessimistic projections are more accurate our world will be burning about 965 quads by then. And if that energy isn’t coming from nuclear, hydroelectric, renewables”, it will come from fossil fuels.
We will be using twice as much fossil fuels in 2040 as we did in 2010. I don’t think that sector is as risky as environmentalist wish to persuade us it is. I wish it were otherwise.
Expect more of this:
oilfields

As Estimates For Sensitivity Lower, The Debate Has Gotten More Vicious

Skeptic blogger Jo Nova has always been one of my favorites, primarily because she tries to go beyond the old arguments and is willing to dig deeper to find and then make her points.

Jo has a post up with a brilliant chart showing the trend in estimates for sensitivity, reproduced here (red line is ECS, blue is TCR):

climate_sensitivity5

I’m sure a chart like this has the potential to be a Rorschach test of people’s sense of sensitivity, but for me it says that science works–that when temperatures began to stall despite exploding levels of CO2 emissions, scientists went back to the books and reworked the calculations and the numbers that served as inputs to those calculations.

I wish I had a corresponding chart that showed the level of virulence in attacks on anyone who opposed the Alarmist Konsensus. I believe it would show that right around the time of publication of lower sensitivity estimates in 2008 and again in 2012, the Alarmists with an axe to grind started looking for skeptic necks. It was then that attacks became alarmingly personal and ad campaigns shifted from pictures of cuddly cute polar bears to fanatics with red buttons blowing up skeptical children.

When those interested in public policy started reacting reasonably to these new scientific findings, such as with the Hartwell Paper, Fast Mitigation and The EcoModernist Manifesto, the Alarmists just shifted their attacks from the skeptics to the lukewarmers, using the same shabby tactics and insults, although they added new ones like ‘mitigation skeptic’ and ‘delayer’.

However, this has led to a bit of a reversal where the Konsensus ends up referring to older research as support for their nightmarish pronouncements and ignoring the more recent science that depicts a world that can thrive as well as survive the climate change that is coming. As an example, Michael Tobis just recently wrote ‘Lindzen has long since jumped the shark’, blissfully unaware that recent science has revived Lindzen’s concept of an Iris hypothesis.

Alternatively, the Konsensus tries to remain unaware of what saner people are advocating, which leads to absurdities like And Then There’s Physics writing post after post about how fuzzy he is on what EcoModernists are proposing, what Fast Mitigation really is and what Lukewarmers  really  think. He is eternally ‘struggling to understand’, but not struggling enough to actually read what we write.

Eli Rabett, on the other hand, isn’t struggling at all. He understands that his Stalinist position on climate purity is threatened by compromise and he will use any tactic to undermine any reasonable position, even to the extent of projecting ‘stalinistic’ to his opponents. (As I am to the left of Rabett on the political spectrum, I feel free to criticize his hypocrisy.) I guess he doesn’t own a mirror. Like any good Konsensus leftist atheist, he  wrote  five  posts in a week praising Pope Francis’ encyclical, finding moral support in the writings of a Pope he wouldn’t listen to on any other issue ranging from abortion to gay rights.  ATTP limited himself to one.

As with other insane arguments such as the one regarding divestment of fossil fuel stocks (they should realize at some point that another party must buy the stocks they are so eager to be rid of) or determining in advance how much of our fossil fuels we must leave in the ground (wouldn’t it be useful to learn how much we have and how much we are likely to need first?), the Alarmists move ever farther from the science and ever deeper into their own dark fantasies.

Maybe it’s not the current Pope or his encyclical they like so much–maybe they just long for the days when the Church could just organize an Inquisition…

Lancet Commission Endorses Fast Mitigation and Bjorn Lomborg

Coming on the heels of the EPA’s somewhat dubious report on how mitigating climate change can bring benefits to the U.S., the Lancet’s reports on the health effects of climate change was sure to bring criticism. And indeed, skeptics have jumped on it, especially Bishop Hill. That’s probably because the Lancet Commision imputes a large figure for increased mortality and morbidity due to the modest warming we have already experienced. I look at their figures and wonder how on Earth they arrived at them–but I don’t intend to dwell on them in this post, as I consider the bulk of their report a very positive contribution to the discussion.

The report starts off by echoing Bjorn Lomborg and The Breakthrough Institute:

“The reduction of poverty and inequities in health is essential to the management of health effects of climate change. Vulnerability of poor populations will be caused by greater exposure and sensitivity to climate changes and reduced adaptive capacity. Investment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals will not only reduce vulnerability but also release public expenditure for climate change currently consumed by basic prevention strategies (eg, malaria control). Health-oriented and climate-orientated investments in food security, safe water supply, improved buildings, reforestation, disaster risk assessments, community mobilisation, and essential maternal and child health and family planning services, will all produce dividends in adaptation to climate change.”

“Poverty alleviation and climate adaptation measures will be crucial in reducing population growth in countries where demographic transition (to stable and low fertility and death rates) is delayed. Population growth will increase overall emissions in the long term and expand the number of vulnerable individuals (and thus the potential burden of suffering) greatly.”

“The application of existing technologies is as important as the development of new ones. Nonetheless, technological development is needed to boost food output, to maintain the integrity of ecosystems, and to improve agricultural and food system practices (agriculture is responsible for an estimated 22% of greenhouse gas emissions), to improve systems for safely storing and treating water, to use alternative supplies of water, for waste water recycling and desalination, and for water conserving technologies. It is also needed to create buildings that are energy efficient and use low-carbon construction materials; to allow for planning settlements, and to develop software of planning and land use; to increase regional and local climate modelling, creating effective early warning systems, and the application of geographic information systems; and to ensure the provision of existing health and family planning services at high coverage, and thus ensure the rights of individuals and couples to have good health outcomes and access to voluntary family planning methods.”

However, it’s interesting to note that a paper published in Lancet at the same time as their report focuses on reducing SLCPs or Short Lived Climate Pollutants, which produce a strong global warming effect but have relatively brief atmospheric lifetimes. These include black carbon, ozone and methane. (They didn’t mention HFCs, hydrofluorocarbons, the other SLCP, I don’t know why.)

This is essentially the primary target of those advocating Fast Mitigation. Fast Mitigation advocates claim that 1.6C of whatever warming we will face can be eliminated by the end of the century, compared to 0.1C of warming avoided by strategies to reduce CO2 emissions. (They still favor reducing CO2 emissions for longer term benefits.)

The report intelligently notes (they must have been reading Paul Kelly) that “Mitigation of SLCPs can provide health benefits in three ways. First, a decrease in black carbon and its coemissions, or emissions of ozone precursors, will reduce the substantial health burden attributable to air pollution. This reduction is a direct route to climate and health cobenefits and is most often the focus of policy discussion. Air quality improvements, from implementation of nine proposed mitigation actions targeting black carbon assessed by the UN Environment Programme and World Meteorological Organization, are estimated to prevent about 2·4 million deaths annually. Reduction in ozone exposure can also benefit health because it is responsible for roughly 150 000 deaths annually worldwide.

Second, the indirect effects of emission reductions can yield cobenefits. For instance, ozone and black carbon cause warming and decrease agricultural yields, thus threatening food security for poor individuals; ozone is toxic to many plants, whereas black carbon diminishes the amount and quality of sunlight available for photosynthesis.

Third, health benefits directly related to some SLCP mitigation actions can accrue independently of reduced air pollution. For example, in affluent populations, improved diets with reduced consumption of red and processed meat, together with increased consumption of plant-based foods, especially fruit and vegetables, can improve health, lessen demand for land, and reduce emissions of SLCPs.

They also advocate other methods of improving our health and reducing emissions, such as low impact travel such as bicycling or lower levels of meat consumption, etc., which improve health in several ways–improved cardiovascular health, lower particulate pollution, etc.

From a Lukewarmer point of view this all makes very good sense and I endorse the findings completely–for this section. (I haven’t read the rest of it yet.) They amount to the next logical step after ‘no regrets’ actions such as increasing energy efficiency, etc. As part of an intelligent, staged approach to combating human-caused climate change it fits in with my RAMA initiative, where we start the climate debate over and address outstanding Recognition and Attribution issues and agree on implementing Mitigation and Adaptation strategies.

I am going to read the rest of Lancet’s contribution–I don’t know why the skeptics are jumping all over it. Maybe this was the only part that made sense. I’ll update this post when I’ve finished it.

For now, though, I think Lancet should be congratulated on their contribution. I wish the EPA had done as good a job.

EPA Report: Benefits of Global Action

The EPA released a report yesterday titled United States: Benefits of Global Action. In it they try to quantify benefits the United States would receive if the world bands together and limits global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. It’s 82 pages plus end notes–but it’s reader friendly for the most part.

News coverage of the report has been quick-started by mainstream media that have been somewhat over-eager supporters of the most alarmed advocates for action. I want to overlook that, as readers will be aware of my opinion regarding their complaisant acceptance of all projections of doom caused by climate change.

I want to look at the report. To do so, I have to wade past an Introduction that verges on hyperbole, baldly stating that “Across the United States (U.S.), temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting, and extreme climate events are becoming more common.” U.S. temperatures have risen 0.72C since 1900, it is true. However, drought is not more common, tornadoes and tropical storms have declined and snow and rainfall patterns have always shifted.

So let’s move to the body of the report. It is based on a modeling exercise and tries to show the difference in impacts between a ‘business as usual’ scenario where CO2 concentrations climb to 826 ppm by 2100 and an aggressive mitigation program where concentrations are limited to 462 ppm (we’re at 400 today, so that means a quick stop to emissions). I literally see no way that can happen, but if it makes for an interesting exercise…

Their reference for temperature rises is the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report, published in 2001. Perhaps someone can explain to me why they didn’t refer to the 4th or 5th Assessment Report.

More importantly, their BAU scenario shows temperature rises near the very top end of the IPCC range, 9F, which of course will increase their damage estimates from climate change.

The report maps projected changes in precipitation under BAU conditions, ignoring all the caveats regarding climate models–that they do a very poor job with precipitation. Their map shows the Western half of the United States turning into the Sahara, whereas the rest of the country turns into a perpetual rain collector. In a survey of published climate scientists, most of whom worked in modeling, von Storch, Bray et al found that only 2% thought that models dealt adequately with precipitation.

Their BAU prediction for sea level rise is 56 inches by 2100. This is in sharp contrast to the IPCC, which projects between 52 and 98 centimeters in sea level rise by 2100 in their 5th Assessment Report, or between 20 and 38 inches. This of course will raise the report’s estimated damages.

For impacts on healthcare, they predict increased loss of life due to higher temperatures, but they assign an economic value per life of $9.45 million (I believe $8 million is the going rate right now…) so they get higher numbers. They also only measure 49 cities… and don’t tell us which cities.

The report predicts under BAU circumstances that the number of extremely hot days (undefined) will triple. To which an interested reader can only ask, ‘what is extremely hot? What are the numbers today and what will they triple to?’

They predict the number of hours worked in the U.S. will decrease due to high temperature days under their BAU scenario, estimating that there will be 1.8 billion hours of work lost due to high temperatures by 2100. I wonder how they feel about air conditioned offices and robots…

In their predictions of how much will be saved if we mitigate to stop warming at 2C, they casually mention that some of the savings will be in fact due to adaptation, not just mitigation. But they don’t specify how much…

Gotta stop there. A report like this could have been very helpful, had they offered more than a black and white choice with the dice loaded in their favor. Maybe they’ll do better next time.

As it stands, the report reminds me of something else:

dodgy dossier

Your Daily Climate Panic Story…

comes to you courtesy of MSN. This time it’s cholera. I guess plague is just around the corner.

MSN writes, “Since the early 1990s, the concern for another pandemic has been haunting public health officials. What makes their worry more pressing is the fact the oncoming onslaught may be due to a factor seemingly out of our control: climate change.”

Now, Wikipedia tells us that “Cholera is caused by a number of types of Vibrio cholerae, with some types producing more severe disease than others. It is spread mostly by water and food that has been contaminated with human feces containing the bacteria.[2] Insufficiently cooked seafood is a common source.[5] Humans are the only animal affected. Risk factors for the disease include poor sanitation, not enough clean drinking water, and poverty. …Cholera affects an estimated 3–5 million people worldwide, and causes 58,000–130,000 deaths a year as of 2010.[2][8] This occurs mainly in the developing world.[53] In the early 1980s, death rates are believed to have been greater than 3 million a year.”

It would appear that unless climate change makes people much poorer, less careful about sanitation and more likely to eat undercooked seafood, that any connection between cholera and climate change is a bit ephemeral. It would appear that despite the warming of the planet since 1976 we have made dramatic progress in combating the disease.

Nonetheless, MSN is undeterred: … “In the context of cholera, changes in climate are stressors on microbes forcing them to either die off or figure out means to adapt to the conditions. In Bangladesh, this has been shown through the evolution of the classical strain to one known as El Tor. This particular strain relies less on seasonality and occurs more frequently. The overall result is a year round threat of infection as opposed to only during the rainy season. As to the reason behind this variant, the cause appears to be related to less divergence between the rainy and dry seasons. This has allowed the El Tor strain to develop resistance to drier weather over time such that it can survive in any climactic environment.”

But, waitaminnit. The El Tor strain of cholera was identified in 1905, decades before humans began contributing to the concentration of greenhouse gases. It has been successful in spreading from Mecca to the rest of the world due to increased international travel and has survived because it is milder than other strains of cholera, with more asymptomatic carriers.

As MSN notes in their article, “In 2011, several possible factors were examined to determine if one or a combination could lead to intensified growth and transmission of the bacterium. There were two specific factors implicated, none of which had to do with temperature. The included a higher level of discharge from rivers into the oceans and the level of phytoplankton. Interestingly, the temperature of the sea surface was not implicated as a factor.”

Ah, but the connection comes to us directly from… a computer model that shows that basically the entire world could support the cholera bacterium as the planet warms. ”

Last week, an international team of researchers who undertook the task revealed their results. They developed a global map where cholera may be able to live currently as well as into the future. Based on the findings, there is every reason to believe we are on the verge of another pandemic and this time, even North America may see a return.

The team used 12 environmental variables attained from an existing marine dataset calledBio-ORACLE. These included climate-associated factors such as sea surface temperature, sunlight, and levels of microbial growth. The others focused on physical attributes such as salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrate and phosphate levels. From there, they examined regions known to have cholera growth. From this analysis, they were able to define a list of parameters necessary to harbor, grow and spread the bacteria.

At this point, the team went looking at other areas around the world for similar environmental conditions. Using statistical analysis, they were able to determine suitability as a percentage. The most likely places had at least a 50% chance of allowing enough growth to cause an outbreak. They performed this for current climactic conditions and for the year 2100.

Although the authors expected to find more than a few places where cholera could survive, the data showed an almost-global distribution of environments prime for growth. These included expected areas such as Peru, Ecuador, West Africa and parts of Australia. But some regions were completely unexpected such as the North Sea, regions south of the Scandinavian countries. In the American context, the Gulf of Mexico and the entire East Coast of America would also be prime spots for cholera to grow.”

But in actual fact, pretty much the entire world has supported cholera in the past. This map of cholera distribution is from 1842 through 1923:

cholera distribution

Climate change Alarmists tried this tactic once before, warning that malaria would spread due to climate change expanding the habitat of the mosquito. They forgot that in 1905 malaria plagued places from Archangel to Alaska.

Just as we made rapid progress in combating malaria during the current warming period, we have made rapid progress in combating cholera while the planet warmed.

That’s because the way to defeat both diseases is through better healthcare systems, improved sanitation and education of the public on what they can do to prevent it.

One shudders to think what the Alarmist Konsensus will do with this story.

Good Climate News From My Alma Mater

“Redwood forests near the California-Oregon border have seen the largest surge in wood production, with growth rates since the 1970s up to 45 percent faster now than at any time in the past 200 years.”  For the second day in a row I’m looking at the San Jose Mercury News as my source for a story that seems like untrammeled good news.

redwood_forest__girl_and_horse_by_mariegoff

“We’re not seeing any evidence of declining growth rates,” said Steve Sillett, a forestry professor at Humboldt State (where I briefly studied anthropology and journalism) and nationally known redwoods expert. “In fact, a lot of the sites are exhibiting increasing rates of growth over the last 100 years.”

As Matt Ridley reported two years ago, this was predicted by Charles Keeling, known for the eponymous Keeling Curve. It isn’t just the redwood forests. Ridley wrote, “Between 1982 and 2011, 20.5% of the world’s vegetated area got greener, while just 3% grew browner; the rest showed no change.

What explains this trend? Man-made nitrogen fertilizer causes crops to grow faster, but it is having little effect on forests. There are essentially two possibilities: climate and carbon dioxide itself. Warmer, wetter weather should cause more vegetation to grow. But even without warming, an increase in carbon dioxide should itself accelerate growth rates of plants. CO2 is a scarce resource that plants have trouble scavenging from the air, and plants grow faster with higher levels of CO2 to inhale.”

Models were unable to capture the magnitude of this effect, according to the BBC. “Global climate models have underestimated the amount of CO2 being absorbed by plants, according to new research. Scientists say that between 1901 and 2010, living things absorbed 16% more of the gas than previously thought. The authors say it explains why models consistently overestimated the growth rate of carbon in the atmosphere.”

In perhaps what is the understatement of the century, the BBC story has a quote from Dr Lianhong Gu at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US: “”There is a time lag between scientists who study fundamental processes and modellers who model those processes in a large scale model. It takes time for the the two groups to understand each other.”

 

The 6th Extinction and the Dog That Didn’t Bark

As the San Jose Mercury News reports, “In the most sobering study of extinction yet, a team of Bay Area scientists says that animal species are disappearing at an accelerating rate — portending the sixth mass extinction in the 4.5-billion-year history of the Earth.” Perhaps inspired by the recent book by Elizabeth Kolbert titled ‘The Sixth Extinction‘, the subject is now au courant. Personally I preferred The Fifth Element.

Fifth Element

Such a story would be incomplete without a mention of Paul Ehrlich, and he does indeed appear, saying “without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event.”

The entire argument is not helped by the fuzzy nature of the mathematics used by those announcing the Sixth Extinction. We quite literally don’t know how many species exist on the planet. We do not know how many species are going extinct now. We don’t know how many species existed, nor how many went extinct in a specific time frame in the past. Those saying that X% of terrestrial or marine species have gone extinct in the past 50 years are just guessing. They don’t have many specific species to point to saying they are gone.

As is always the case in modern times, when talking about the modern causes of threats to biodiversity, they put the least important factor–climate change–at the front of the list, when in fact habitat reduction, conventional pollution, over hunting/fishing and the introduction of alien species have far greater impacts.

Indeed, while the warming we have experienced has caused a poleward shift in migration patterns and changes in the time of the year that species migrate, breed and give birth, those changes–those adaptations to climate change by species that don’t have global warming alarmists to tell them they’re doomed–seem to be effective. In other words, birds and insects are not going extinct because of climate change, they’re just changing their habits and habitats. As they have done countless times before, adapting to changes in the climate that were caused by Mother Nature rather than Man. Our responsibility, if responsibility we have, is to insure that as these species look for new and more congenial territory, there in fact is new territory available to them.

Back before we started hunting species to extinction, extinction happened in slow motion, taking hundreds or thousands of years. That’s one cogent argument against blaming climate change for current threats to biodiversity–it’s too recent to be the culprit. Anthropogenic climate change is the dog that hasn’t had time to bark.

If, as I suspect, the attribution of stress on species from climate change is around 1% of the total (when compared to habitat reduction, hunting/fishing, pollution and alien species), the best thing we can do is continue the good work started by real environmentalists (not the Konsensus Alarmists masquerading as such) in preserving or restoring natural environments, reducing pollution, managing the fisheries and being more attentive regarding the introduction of alien species.

This will do far more to preserve the biodiversity of this planet than any of our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. And I say that as someone who firmly believes we need to reduce our contributions to greenhouse gases. Eventually, climate change will become a significant stressor for some, perhaps many species.

It just hasn’t happened yet.

Refugee Update

From the BBC: “The number of people displaced by war, conflict or persecution reached a record high of nearly 60 million around the world in 2014, a UN report says. The document by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says the number of people forced to flee their homes rose by 8.3 million from the previous year. The continuing conflict in Syria is seen as a major factor behind the record numbers.” That’s getting close to 0.1% of the world’s population. It’s a horrible figure. North Africans are dying in the Mediterranean while Rohingyas float aimlessly in the Indian Ocean Pacific. In some countries the refugees come close to outnumbering the native inhabitants. The largest contributor to refugee totals is Syria. War is all bloody hell. refugees There are two points to this. First, the BBC correctly identifies the reasons why people flee their homes: war, conflict and persecution. Not on the list? Climate change. People do leave their homes when storms, floods or eathquakes strike, but they overwhelmingly choose to return when the worst of the weather has passed. There may come a day when climate change causes people to flee. That day has not arrived. Second, although I am a Lukewarmer who believes that climate change is real, a threat and should be addressed in the present day, where do our priorities lie? The head of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, Antonio Guterres, says “The drama is that if people think that humanitarians can clean up the mess. It’s no longer possible. We have no capacities to pick up the pieces.” I emphatically do not believe that funding should stop for the study of climate change. But I do believe that a lot of the very expensive climate messaging that is battering the eyes and ears of all in the developed world is a waste of money. That money could be used to help the UNHCR deal with the refugee crisis.

Catholic tastes

Pope Francis seems like an admirable man, showing concern for the poor everywhere and for the developing world. I wish him all the best in his efforts to improve their condition.

I don’t care about the Pope’s or his institution’s opinions about climate change. I cannot imagine why anybody else does. They have been virulently anti-science for most of their history. I don’t think they are an authority on climate science. I do not trust them to advocate proper policy with regards to adaptation or mitigation.

The Catholic Church is not an institution I respect. They try to control humans by regulating who they bed and wed and have been responsible for much of the misery of the past 2,000 years. The fact that they have sheltered within their walls the largest pedophile ring in history should not be surprising and nor should be their sluggish and dilatory efforts to address the tragedy.

They don’t treat women equally. They oppose contraception and gay marriage. They hyped their opposition to condom use during the peak of the AIDS crisis. They helped kings launch the Crusades. They authored the Inquisition. They were anti-Semitic. They acquiesced to Nazi-ism. They played criminally fast and loose with the money donated to them by their parishioners.

Fortunately, I fully expect the Catholic Church and its adherents to show just as much disregard for my opinions as I have for theirs. I won’t take it personally.

Viscount Monckton (almost) Gets The Final Word

Well, Monckton Week at The Lukewarmer’s Way finishes today. It’s been an instructive week, with Viscount Monckton’s responses to my questions and statements about recognition of human contributions to climate change going far beyond a simple yes or no. The previous posts in this series are hereherehere,here, here and here.

Viscount Monckton has provided another Word document with responses to my follow-up questions. It is here–and I provide replies.

My original statements are in bold. His responses are in plain text. My counter-responses are also in bold.

TF: You seem to be making one of the many mistakes Cook made – thinking that a published paper speaks for anything beyond the subject of the paper. Cook thinks he can divine a consensus from this. Do you really think you can divine a lack of consensus from it? I believe asking climate scientists what they think is far more effective.

VM: Cook et al. (2013) stated very plainly that they defined the “consensus” proposition as being to the effect that recent global warming was mostly manmade. They also stated very plainly that they had rated the 11,944 papers they had examined by seeing whether their abstracts had explicitly stated that recent global warming was mostly manmade. Their own data file shows they had marked only 64 of the 11,944 papers as having thus assented to the “consensus” proposition as they had defined it. We read all 64 abstracts and found only 41 of them, or 0.3% of the entire sample, had in fact stated their support for the “consensus” proposition as defined by Cook et al. in the introduction to their paper. We can, therefore, quantify the “consensus” that has stated its support for the proposition defined by Cook et al.: it is 0.3%. It is not 97.1%, as Cook et al. falsely stated. Police are investigating. Prosecutions are expected.

TF: Viscount Monctkon, it is disingenuous for you to cite a paper both of us believe is so badly flawed as to be useless. You have published on the flaws of Cook et al and so have I. In your research on the paper you surely have noted that most papers offered no opinion at all on human contributions to climate change, hence your offering of either 41 or 65 abstracts that explicitly endorsed the concept is not a percentage of the whole. This line of argumentation is not only weak it is beneath you. Given that you make solid responses elsewhere I urge you not to continue with this line of argument. Your opponents don’t need much of an excuse to trash you (or me). This straw man does you and your arguments no good.

VM: Aristotle’s headcount and reputation fallacies are not repealable. No rational conclusion as to the truth or falsity of a scientific proposition may be drawn on the grounds either that many people are said to have spoken out in support of it, or that many of the many are scientific experts. Therefore, it does not matter whether anyone believes “asking climate scientists what they think is … effective”. In scientific terms, it is meaningless, and is meaningless a fortiori when the scientists’ views have not first been subjected to peer review.

TF: While the Aristotelian remarks provide a useful caution about blind belief in numbers or authority, we have found a way to account for their dangers in both our judicial systems, where we count the heads of jurors, and in democratic elections. Although the recent UK elections show where polls can go wrong, there are enough examples where they get it right to prove to me that they can provide valid measurements.

VM: Let me run through the relevant quantities again: for science, like it or not, is quantitative, not qualitative. Of the 0.9 K warming since 1900, 0.3 K comes from adjustments to the measurements – adjustments mde years and sometimes decades after they were made; 0.2 K comes from failures to compensate properly for the urban heat-island effect; and 0.2 K occurred before 1950, when we could not on any view have appreciably influenced the climate. That does not leave much room for CO2 to have been the main driver of global temperature over the past century or so.

TF: And yet when new data comes in, primarily from digitizing paper records of older temperatures, what would you advise? Ignoring it? I should think that adjusting the records in the light of new information is a good thing.

VM: It may or may not be true, therefore, that most of the global warming since 1950 was manmade. Even if it were true, the scientists were not asked whether it would prove catastrophic. The mere fact of manmade warming – to the extent that it is a fact – tells us little or nothing about whether the warming will be beneficial or harmful.

TF: I did not ask if they thought AGW would be catastrophic. Scientists, with a few notable exceptions, have not published papers saying it would be catastrophic. Even Nicholas Stern, staunch warmist and alarmist, did not write that it would be catastrophic. Don’t confuse what scientists say with what Konsensus Alarmist bloggers and marketers from NGOs write. There is a big difference.

TF: Blind belief in a consensus has often led to grievous error in the past and I do not advocate it. Ignoring it seems just as fraught.

VM: I do not ignore the consensus. It has been reliably quantified as 0.3% of a very large sample of peer-reviewed studies on climate change over a 21-year period.

TF: No, and I refer you to your previous misuse of junk science by Cook et al. You know it is junk science–you published a paper debunking it. If you truly believe that that paper quantifies the consensus then any further reference by you to quantitative analysis must surely be suspect.

TF: I find that some skeptics do repeat the errors of those most alarmed by climate change. They fixate on papers that support their point of view and ignore those that do not. I also think that climate scientists are not instructed on how to think nor do they agree on talking points among themselves. I believe that about two thirds of all climate scientists honestly think that humans have caused much of the warming experienced since the mid-twentieth century. I have no more use for the Konsensus alarmists than do you–but strip away the Joe Romms and the Eli Rabetts from the conversation and you are left with a solid consensus. The informed minority report that should be commissioned, from luminaries such as Freeman Dyson, John Christy and others, should not be ignored. But it is a minority viewpoint.

VM: The consensus has been reliably quantified as 0.3% of peer-reviewed studies on climate change over a 21-year period. That is not two-thirds: it is one-thirtieth.

TF: Perhaps you didn’t sleep well last night. I can’t think of another logical explanation for this.

TF: You may say that the statement [that scientists have identified ways in which human activity can change the climate] is trivially true. But it, like the others, is not. If you do not believe scientists know how humans can change the planet, they have to qualify as scientists who know their material. If you do accept that they have identified mechanisms for artificially altering the climate, it is only a matter of agreeing on metrics and finding the numbers.

VM: I had said that the debate is not about whether the statement that human activity can change the climate. I had said it was about how much it can change the climate. For I try to write plain Latin (or English if I must), so I do not talk about “agreeing on metrics and finding the numbers”: I talk about how much our influence can change the climate. And my own published studies on the climate-sensitivity question find sensitivity low – though not as low as several further studies by distinguished colleagues that are now in the pipeline.

TF: Yes, well my question was about the whether, not the how much. That’s for another day.

TF: I agree with you that they have identified those mechanisms. And if your subsequent statements boil down to “They haven’t shown it to my satisfaction”, in some respects I would agree. However, I think they’ve come a long way in the past quarter century and have hopes that progress will continue.

VM: I like motherhood and apple pie too.

TF: I don’t know where you get your increasing certainty [that the magnitude of our current enhancement of the greenhouse effect will not cause so much warming as to be harmful]. Not from the papers I am reading. Sensitivity may come in at a low value – I think we all hope so. However, due to development (which I enthusiastically endorse) in the developing world, our CO2 emissions will double over the next few decades. With any positive value for sensitivity this could and probably will pose problems for us.

VM: For the nth time, science is quantitative, not qualitative. What, for instance, is the ideal global mean surface temperature? That which prevailed in 1750, which was about 1 K below today’s temperature? That which prevails today? 1 K more than today? None of the above? And what is your evidence for your choice? At no point have those who try to tell us there is an actual or potential problem with our influence on the climate ever stated definitively, after peer review, what the ideal global mean surface temperature is. From the evidence available to us, chiefly from the present climate, some 90% of species live in the tropics and 1% at the poles, surely suggesting that warmer is better than cooler.

TF: Stating the obvious on matters that I did not bring up or dispute–without responding to the points I did make. Too bad we don’t have a term for that… Most of the scientists I have read make the point that it isn’t the absolute value of future temperature changes that concern them, it is the telescoped rate of the change.

VM: The increasing certainty that the influence of Man on the climate will be small comes from the inexorably growing discrepancy between the predictions of the “consensus” models and the unexciting reality that global temperature has barely risen for a quarter of a century. In fact, on the RSS dataset the central IPCC near-term warming estimate in 1990 was more than two and a half times too big. In the end, one cannot ignore quantitative discrepancies as egregious as this.

TF: As we discussed in a previous post, there were two very similar pauses in the 20th Century that were followed by strong warming pulses. I asked then and will repeat here–do you think this pause is different from the previous two? Why?

VM: Likewise, why should “any positive value for sensitivity … pose problems for us”? At present, to the nearest tenth of one per cent, there is no CO2 in the air at all. If CO2 concentration increases by 50% (which is about all that is possible before fossil fuels run out), to the nearest fifth of one per cent there will still be no CO2 in the air at all. Yet the thermostatic processes that keep the planet’s temperature stable will all be functioning, so there is little reason to suppose that so small an eventual enrichment of the atmosphere with CO2 will cause any problems whatsoever, and still less reason to suppose that such problems as may arise will outweigh the enormous benefits of fossil fuels and of their useful natural by-product, CO2.

TF: Again you use the misleading metrics game so favored by the Alarmists with their Manhattans of ice and their Hiroshimas of heat. It is beneath you. What percentage of your body mass must cyanide constitute before being a health issue?

TF: Your geopolitical analysis is quite different from mine. (I am a confirmed leftist and likely to remain so.) However, your numbers here are quite accurate. I would say focusing on China actually flatters the figures. The top five emitters in 2040 – China, the U.S., India, Japan and Russia – will account for 60% of emissions.

However, I wonder how you think Obama “exempted” China from emission cuts. Do you suggest he could have imposed his will by imperial edict? I think the days of gunboat diplomacy are (thankfully) over. Xi Jinping has every incentive to move to less emissive power generation and would love to do so. But he can’t – and I have no doubt that Obama knows it.

VM: Communist China blew the Copenhagen talks out of the water because its leadership rightly wished to electrify the country using coal because it is cheap, low-tech, reliable base-load power, and were not prepared to subject their nation to some ghastly global bureaucracy telling them what they could and could not emit. That remains their position today. The significance of Mr Obama’s visit to China last December and of the joint statement at the end of it is that there will, in effect, be no restrictions on China’s right to emit CO2 either before or after 2030, though China has made pietistic, non-binding noises about aiming to make reductions after 2030. In return for that exemption granted by Mr Obama, China will not this time stand in the way of a deal to establish an unelected global government in Paris this December.

Of course, precisely because China has been exempted (whereupon India and other third-world nations will demand and get similar exemptions), nothing the West now does will prevent a rapid and continuing increase in CO2 emissions over the coming century. If the true objective of Paris were to prevent that increase, Obamna has already guaranteed it will fail. However, the true objective is to use the climate as a pretext to establish an unelected global “government” or, in the latest draft, “governing body” with overriding powers of taxation, regulation and enforcement. I suspect that objective will succeed. That will be the end of democracy, worldwide.

TF: Elsewhere you remark that most of your argumentation is scientific and based on peer-reviewed papers. I offer the preceding paragraph as evidence that my point (that your argument is political) is valid. President Obama (Do you support or oppose the use of appropriate honorifics?) does not in my opinion seem to be moving towards a global government and has not, in any speech I have heard or read, seemed to advocate it.

TF: Given the nature of the climate debate I do not think [the fact that adding a greenhouse gas to an atmosphere such as ours will – all other things being equal – be expected to cause some warming] is trivial[ly true]. You and I are both called ‘deniers’ because the alarmists maintain that we do not accept what you call a ‘trivial truth’ (Although I guess I guess I have recently been promoted – they are more likely to call me a ‘delayer’ or ‘mitigation skeptic’ than ‘denier’).

The purpose of this exercise is to find out if mainstream science is accepted by the honorable opposition – the skeptics (& lukewarmers). Throughout this series of posts you have shown that you do accept it. As I hinted at yesterday, it is far easier to make a case than to build the courtroom.

VM: My scientific case has always been built entirely on scientific considerations. On the evidence, CO2 is not proving to be a problem, and is proving to be beneficial. Witness the absence of any global warming at all for 18 years 6 months, and the 2%/decade increase in total plant biomass, caused by CO2 fertilization.

TF: The climate scientists you deride predicted the increase in total plant biomass decades ago and that the purely economic impact of climate change would be net beneficial in the early decades. As for the current pause, we have two examples in the current temperature record for what happens after pauses–more warming. What do you think will happen?

TF: There are even more factors at play [in predicting future climate] than [evaporation, convection and suchlike thermostatic transports, and the mathematically-chaotic behavior of the climate object]. But it is being studied by a host of scientists and more is being learnt about it every day. These are by and large the scientists whose opinions you do not care to consider.

VM: I am always happy to consider the results of scientific research published in the learned journals after scrutiny by their peers. I am not prepared to draw any conclusions from mere headcounts of scientists, particularly when those headcounts do not concern peer-reviewed results but are merely opinion-polling – and inadequately conducted polling at that.

TF: Both von Storch/Bray in 2008 and Verheggen et al in 2012 conducted more than adequate polling studies of published climate scientists. Verheggen went so far as to add in sample of skeptics to insure their participation. They asked unambiguous questions and accurately reported their replies. They both showed a consensus of 66% of published climate scientists that attribute half or more of the recent warming to human influence. Greater percentages expressed strong concerns about future warming and its impacts. They may be wrong. You may not like the results. But they were more than adequate and are useful tools for those who, unlike you, believe that good polling can be instructive.

VM: At present the “opinions” you imagine scientists hold are at variance with the experimental results. The “opinion” of the scientists who co-authored the IPCC’s first assessment report in 1990 was that global warming should now be occurring at 2.8 C°/century equivalent. It is occurring at 1.1 C°/century equivalent. The “opinion” was wrong. I don’t care how many scientists still adhere to that wrong opinion: the results are in, and over the significant period of 25 years, during which record increases in CO2 concentration have occurred, there has been no statistically-significant warming. And that is that. For the “opinion” of the scientists was that natural influences on climate have a negligible influence on global temperature. If they were right in that opinion, then the entire discrepancy between their then predictions and reality is accounted for by a vast overestimate on their part of the influence of CO2 and other greenhouse gases on temperature. If, on the other hand, they were wrong in that opinion, then natural variability plays a far greater part in global warming and cooling than they had previously thought, whereupon it becomes entirely illegitimate to draw the conclusion that such little warming as has transpired over the past 25 years must have been chiefly manmade.

TF: I agree with most of what you write here. As I have disagreed so strongly with other comments of yours, I should note where we agree. I would only add that as the field of study matures, the wilder claims (most made by activists, not scientists)  are being withdrawn.

TF: Would you not consider [the sharp reductions in the IPCC’s central estimates of the CO2 radiative forcing and of the temperature feedback sum] as evidence that science is progressing and that the scientific mainstream is willing to publicize previous errors and corrections that work against their primary hypothesis?

VM: Where, o where are the quantities in these vaguely-worded comments? Let us, then, do the math, using the simple sensitivity model in Monckton of Brenchley (2015).

In 1990 the IPCC thought the coefficient in the CO2 forcing equation was 6.3, and it thought temperature feedbacks summed to 2.1 Watts per square meter per Kelvin. On these values, the central estimate of climate sensitivity would be 4.0 K.

In 2015 the IPCC thinks the coefficient in the CO2 forcing equation is 5.35, and it thinks temperature feedbacks sum to 1.5 Watts per square meter per Kelvin. On these values, the central estimate of climate sensitivity should be 2.2 K.

Yet the CMIP5 models relied upon by the IPCC say the central estimate of climate sensitivity is 3.2 K. The central estimate of climate sensitivity in the Charney report in 1979 was 3 K, on an interval [1.5, 4.5] K. Despite the IPCC’s reductions in the CO2-forcing coefficient and in the temperature feedback sum, its climate-sensitivity interval is [1.5, 4.5] K. While the IPCC continues to maintain for political reasons a climate-sensitivity interval that is insupportable now that it has conceded the reductions in the CO2 forcing coefficient and in the feedback sum, it cannot be said either that its “science is progressing” or that it is “willing to publicize previous errors and corrections”.

TF: We disagree. To me it sounds like you are asking for capitulation, not consideration. I call your attention to the SREX that the IPCC published in 2012 on Extreme Weather to counter the alarmist drivel that was seeking to attribute every instance of weather except a bright April morning to global warming. 

TF: I agree [given the growing disparity between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and relentlessly static global temperatures, and between the models’ excitable predictions and far less exciting reality] that there is a lot of work ahead of us all in attribution and quantification. In a less politically charged environment this would be grounds for excitement. It is a pity that it all has become a partisan political issue. Both alarmists and skeptics have contributed to this polarization.

VM: For my part, I have got on with my climate researches, have published the results from time to time in the reviewed journals, and have defended myself, sometimes vigorously, against the well-funded stream of organized personal attacks to which skeptics are routinely subjected – attacks whose viciousness grows ever worse as the world conspicuously continues to fail to warm at anything like the rate on the basis of which the original calls for the extinction of the Western economies were made.

TF: I too am the subject of vicious attacks–taking heart in the obvious defects of character in those making the attacks. But I note that the attacks do not come from scientists, but that part of the uneducated public that has bought wholesale the Alarmist dogma emanating from NGOs and those alarmists and NGO participants themselves. That’s the price of public commentary on hot button issues. Let us proceed.

VM: Nearly all of the published commentary on the global warming question is simply wrong. The central facts – such as the absence of any significant warming either of the oceans or of the atmosphere over the past decade and more – are withheld from the public. Those on the political Left take a partisan position regardless of the evidence, Mr Obama being a good example. And they will now get their world government. But it will not endure, for it is founded on a lie, and that lie will become ever more apparent as the temperature grows more slowly than predicted.

TF: Why should global warming be different from almost every issue, where the vast majority of public commentary is wrong? I don’t believe the pause disproves global warming, any more than the notable warming that preceded it proved it. And once again, I don’t see any place for partisan politics in this conversation. David Cameron is just as vehement in his railing against climate change as is Barack Obama. The Republican candidate for the 2008 presidential election supported Cap and Trade, as did the Republican leader of the House. I don’t see the world moving closer to global government–the UK almost went the other direction with Scottish independence and may leave the EU. I think an objective view would show things moving in the other direction.

TF: As to your graph [showing that 33 IPCC models have over-predicted medium-term warming from 1990-2014] I would amend the title [“It’s official: the models have failed”]. The models have indeed failed, but they have failed to do what they were not designed to do. They are not meant to accurately predict future temperatures at a decadal level. They have done a good job at showing the broad sweep of climate over much longer periods of time and contributing to our understanding of the various forces at work in shaping it. If you criticize them for not doing what the alarmists had hoped they would do, you might spare a moment to praise them for doing a good job at what they were designed to do.

VM: It is disingenuous in the extreme to maintain that the models were not designed to predict global temperature change. As the builder of a sensitivity model myself, I know that all the major climate models have as one of their key outputs the rate of change in global temperature over a chosen period under given conditions. Most of those models would never have been funded if the panicky governments that paid for them had thought they were not intended to be able to predict global temperature change.

TF: You are omitting the key detail–I wrote that they could not provide temperature predictions on a decadal level. Which they cannot. The ‘chosen period’ for total temperature change is usually 50 years or more.

VM: There are now far more taxpayer-funded climate models than necessary. In temperature prediction and in much else they are unsatisfactory. Intercomparison ensures that they share common mistakes and duplicate their efforts. The governments I advise are already reducing funding for climate modeling, not least because the climate is a complex, non-linear, chaotic object in which an infinitesimal alteration in one of the initial conditions can cause deterministic but undeterminable bifurcations in the future evolution of the object. The models are trying to do what mathematics has long established they cannot do. They are largely a waste of money.

TF: I agree with you here. 

TF: [Growth in emissions of greenhouse gases] is “dramatic” when compared to emissions prior to 1750. As you noted yourself in a previous contribution, one-third of all human emissions have occurred since 1998.

VM: 10,000% of zero is still zero. And 43% of 0.03% is not significantly greater than zero.

TF: Well, let’s go with curare this time–or maybe strychnine. How big a percentage of your body mass must they be before you are carted off to the hospital to enjoy the tender mercies of the NHS? We are both of an age where we should be very aware of the Liverpool Pathway…

TF: [The fact that the IPCC now concedes that its four previous predictions of growth in methane were vastly exaggerated] is science in progress, improving and correcting prior mistakes. You try to use this as a stick to beat them with. Yep, before the spread of the internet and the introduction of modern mobile phones they thought there would be a lot more methane in the atmosphere. Now they don’t. And they don’t hide the change – they report it and incorporate it into their next assessment.

VM: It is not at all clear what the introduction of mobile phones and the internet has to do with global methane emissions, particularly since three of the four IPCC reports were issued in the age of the internet and mobile phones. And the IPCC did indeed hide the monstrous discrepancy between the predictions in its four previous reports and observed growth in methane concentration. At the insistence of Germany and Hungary, its revealing graph from the pre-final draft that I reviewed was removed, because those two countries stated that leaving it in would “give ammunition to skeptics”. So it was removed – and thereby gave ammunition to skeptics. Like other very clear graphs in the pre-final draft, it was replaced with graphs that were deliberately made far less clear, precisely so as to conceal as far as possible the gulf between prediction and observed reality.

TF: I am unaware of those incidents. I have no reason to doubt your honesty–if true, it’s a shameful addition to an already long list of misbehaviour–by non-scientists. 

TF: As we both know, as do most readers, many things impact the climate, not just human activities. Large meteor impacts, continental shifts, supervolcanoes – some of which occurred at the times when there have been real regime changes in the climate, but none of which have occurred since 1750. And yet CO2 has climbed dramatically and temperature change, while not as dramatic, has climbed notably. But you agree that the change from 0.28 to 0.40 millimoles per mole can have an impact on climate, if what you’ve written here is correct – or am I misinterpreting you?

VM: I have made it repeatedly plain that changing the concentration of greenhouse gases can influence climate. The question is not whether it can influence climate, but how much it will influence climate. On the real-world evidence, which is the starting point for scientific enquiries that are legitimate, the trivial increase in CO2 concentration is having a negligible effect on global temperature, because the climate under modern conditions is in essence thermostatic.

TF: The purpose of this entire exercise is to establish a common foundation of fact. For me the question at this stage is very much whether it can influence climate. Once we are all agreed on that we can move to the how much.

TF: I agree that more CO2 is good for trees and plants and I welcome the boost to agriculture provided by this extra CO2. But they share the planet with other species, including us, and increased vegetation is not the only effect of climate change. Similarly, while I am very happy that we can expect fewer deaths owing to cold weather, it is not the only impact climate change will have on us.

Some of the worst of the alarmists have been trying to tie every instance of extreme weather to climate change. We both know that’s nonsense. But the recent heatwave in India may well be a preview of coming attractions. If we are unable to influence the climate to prevent it from becoming a common occurrence, we had damn well better make sure the Indians can afford air conditioning.

VM: Any benefit/cost analysis must include the known benefits and the known costs. Speculation, on which the exaggerated predictions of the IPCC are based, is not a suitable input to benefit/cost analyses. The correct method of conducting such analyses is spelt out in Monckton of Brenchley (2013) Is CO2 mitigation cost-effective? (The answer is No).

TF: I prefer the work of Nordhaus and others who come up with answers that are different from both you and from the more alarmed Nicholas Stern. Papers such as Hartwell and The Ecomodernist Manifesto give more common-sense advice such as strengthening defenses against the weather already existing and building in a safety margin for potential climate effects, improving energy efficiency and investing in R&D.

VM: As for heatwaves, droughts, floods, plagues, hurricanes, fires, acidifications etc. etc., the IPCC has made it repeatedly plain that one cannot ascribe any individual extreme-weather event to global warming – a point which, to anyone of a sufficiently quantitative turn of mind, ought to be self-evident given the total absence of global warming over the past 18 years 6 months. Warming that has not occurred cannot have caused warming that has occurred. This is elementary causative logic. Besides, the cheapest way to ensure that India gets air-con is to ensure that it, like China, goes in for a massive program of coal-fired power stations.

TF: Then you have read the IPCC SREX of 2012. Good. I agree that current conditions including those you list are not attributable to global warming. Yet. I agree with you about India. They need the coal.

TF: If, as we all hope, sensitivity proves to be low, then we may need to shove the climate to change it, rather than just providing a gentle nudge. But we quite possibly will double our emissions over the next few decades. That may well serve as a shove, not a nudge.

VM: Sensitivity cannot be high, for the thermostasis of the climate indicates net-negative temperature feedbacks: hence a climate sensitivity of 1 K per CO2 doubling, though I know of two papers in preparation that will suggest it is

TF: No, in an equation it is all very well to constrain the bounds of one variable. But if there is another variable in the equation that may increase, the result may not be too our liking. If CO2 increases dramatically, even at a low value for sensitivity we are likely to experience problems as a result.

TF: The scientists may be wrong about climate change in some respects. But if you look back at the statements where you remark that they are trivially true, it doesn’t seem as though you think they are wrong. It doesn’t seem that you think a patent clerk will emerge from his office clutching a paper that disproves the greenhouse effect or that we will discover the Arctic has been cooling in recent decades. So why bring in these examples?

VM: I did not suggest that anyone would disprove the greenhouse effect or discover the Arctic has been cooling: subsea volcanic activity off Greenland makes that unlikely.

TF: [The skeptics] have been often wrong. They may be wrong now. But the Arctic has warmed by 2 C° over the past decades and sea ice in the region has diminished dramatically. There have been other successes in predicting the impacts of climate change but if that were the only one it would be worth our time and effort to investigate.

VM: The Earth has warmed by 0.9 K over the past century or so. Polar amplification would lead us to expect that the Arctic would therefore warm by twice that. There is nothing at all surprising in this, and the processes of tropical afternoon convection, Hadley-cell circulation and extratropical baroclinic-eddy advection that transport heat from the tropics to the poles, thus causing amplification, is well understood.

Since we have no records of Arctic sea-ice extent before the early 1970s, we cannot say whether “sea ice in the region has decreased dramatically”. There has been a decline since 1979, when the current satellite series began, but there was far less ice in the early 1970s than in 1979. And the extent of global sea ice has barely changed throughout the satellite era, whereas it had repeatedly been predicted that all the sea ice in the Arctic would be gone by the summer of 2013. So it is far from clear whether the fact that there is less summer ice in the Arctic than formerly is “a success in predicting the impacts of climate change”: and we know that the reduction in Arctic sea ice over the past 18 years 6 months is not attributable to global warming because over that period there has not been any global warming.

To draw any conclusions about global warming from the warming of a single region – particularly one with a climate that is known to be volatile – is to perpetrate the Aristotelian logical fallacy of argumentum a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter, or converse accident. A fallacy is a defective form of argument whose conclusion cannot be safely said to be entailed by its premises.

TF: Here is my reaction to this entire series.

First, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is clearly not a ‘denier’ of science. He uses data the same way his opponents do, to reinforce his points. He’s just on the other side of a political struggle.

VM: While the admission that the climate scare forms part of a “political struggle” is welcome, it will be clear to all but the author of this blog that my answers have concentrated near-exclusively on scientific data and references.

TF: I can only refer you to repeated references to Leftist government policy and your belief that some are pushing for world government as evidence that your answers are not near-exclusively based on scientific data and references. And again, you dispute Cook and then use it. You mock the IPCC and then use their work. You are not consistent.

TF: He is willing to use the same tactics as his opponents, criticizing climate scientists for not being perfect and yet using the same work product for his own purposes. He steadfastly refuses to listen to what scientists say about possible futures, dismissing legitimate surveys as just ‘opinion’.

VM: I do not criticize anyone for not being perfect, or it would be hard to look in the mirror. As a published scientific researcher, I am required to cite references for the premises upon which my hypotheses are founded – like it or not, that is how science is done. And I do not “refuse to listen to what scientists say about possible futures”: I check whether the temperature data conform to prediction; I find that they do not; I find that very nearly every model has exaggerated; and I draw the conclusion that, after 18 years 6 months without any global warming at all, there is plenty of time to conduct further research to see who is right before blowing trillions of other people’s money on boondoggles that vastly enrich the rich at the expense of the poor.

TF: I agree that we have time. I hope we use it wisely.

VM: For the reasons already explained, the opinion surveys of scientists’ views have not been conducted in accordance with the minimum statistical standards applicable to opinion polling.

TF: I am a professional market researcher. I have conducted more than 1,000 quantitative surveys. It is my professional judgment that your statement is factually incorrect.

VM: In any event, as I have also explained, Aristotle made it quite clear that to plead consensus is to perpetrate the fallacy later labelled by the mediaeval schoolmen as argumentum ad populum, the headcount fallacy; and that to plead that the consensus is one of experts is to perpetrate the Aristotelian fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam, appeal to authority. I am trained in logic and, accordingly, well armed against woolly thinking. Science has never been done by consensus; like it or not, it is not done by consensus now; it will never be done by consensus; and, as I have demonstrated, there is no scientific consensus anyway on the extent of our influence on the climate, still less on whether our influence may one day prove catastrophic unless the West is shut down (for I have also explained that thanks to Mr Obama the East will not be shut down as a result of the Paris global-government treaty).

TF: As mentioned above, I agree with Aristotle that blind reliance on headcounts and expertise is foolish. But we have found ways to use headcounts of juries and voters to guide our governments and laws, and expertise, such as with ICANN, to run the internet. There is a solid consensus among experts in climate change. It isn’t 97%. It is 66%. There is both room and need for minority expression on the issue. But there is a consensus.

VM: Abu Ali ibn al-Haytham put it this way: “The seeker after truth does not place his faith in any mere consensus, however widespread or venerable: instead, he subjects what he has learned of it to his own hard-won scientific knowledge, to scrutiny, investigation, inquiry, checking, checking and checking again. The road to the truth is long and hard: but that is the road we must follow.”

TF: I agree. So do most climate scientists.

VM: T.H. Huxley said: “The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the very highest of duties: blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”

TF: I agree. So do most climate scientists.

VM: Feynman said, “If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong.”

TF: I agree. So do most climate scientists.

VM: The failure of the globe to warm for 18 years 6 months was not predicted by any model. The models, therefore, and all who place their faith in them, are wrong. They do not constitute evidence. The evidence is that CO2 has a very small influence on global temperature. And no evidence has been provided of the ideal global temperature, or of the reasons why that ideal should have been chosen. All life on Earth has to be able to withstand considerable climatic variability: yet, though there are often powerful short-run changes, in the long run the most remarkable feature of the climate is its thermostatic stability – a stability that, as our paper for the Science Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences makes clear, is not represented correctly in the models.

TF: Models are wrong. Models are always wrong. Even Kate Moss. But they do show the broad sweep of climate over a long period of time and are useful tools to understand the forces acting upon the climate. That they were pressed into service to chart future temperatures on a decadal basis is folly–but the folly is that of those who used them, not the models themselves. Observations and use of paleoclimatic records support the broad assumptions about global warming. Physics, biology, chemistry and geology support the broad assumptions of global warming. Models were mis-employed because of the perceived need to show ‘how much, how soon’, as if this were a Fantasy Football League needing instant stats for instant gratification. My RAMA Initiative is an attempt to both move beyond it and to return to the basics.

Viscount Monckton brings considerable intelligence and clarity to his side of the debate and constitutes a worthy opponent for the Alarmists. But he cannot do more than dispute individual points – often justifiably, but too often ignoring the forest for the trees, in my opinion.

VM: Albert Einstein, when discussing his special theory of relativity, was asked what it would take for him to recognize that he was wrong. He said: “No amount of research can prove definitively that I am right. A single paper can prove that I am wrong.” The single individual point that demonstrates the models on which the climate scare was built were wrong is that the rate of warming they predicted for the past 25 years was well over two and a half times too high.

TF: Most of the models were badly wrong. That doesn’t mean that the globe isn’t warming or that humans are not contributing. It just means that the models were wrong. You seem to be of the point of view that the models are the primary source of information about global warming and that if they are discredited the entire case for global warming and human contributions disappears. That is not the case.

VM: For a more fundamental objection to the models and to the case for alarm that is founded near-exclusively on their exaggerated predictions, read our paper at scibull.com (click on Most Read Articles and ours is the all-time no. 1 by a factor of ten). There, we explain that the Bode feedback system-gain equation is inapplicable to the climate under high net-positive feedback, for the output of the equation prodigiously exceeds the asymptotic limits on global warming inferred from the cryostratigraphic record over the past 810,000 years.

TF: I have not read the  paper.

TF: I personally am left with the impression that Viscount Monckton is more interested in a political victory than the triumph of science over ignorance. Given that he is undoubtedly intelligent and obviously a clear communicator, I find this sad.

VM: It will be self-evident to anyone who starts not with a political chip on his shoulder but with a clear and honest eye that the very great majority of the points I have made here have been based not on politics but on science. The climate question, for me, is interesting chiefly because it is a scientific question. I have written very few articles for political journals on the climate question, but I have written many peer-reviewed scientific papers on it (and must now break off to polish and submit another).

TF: See above. What you say about Leftists in general, Barack Obama and plots to install world government is nothing if not political.

When Alarmists are alarmist, I just discount their hyperbole. I find it more disconcerting when it happens on the other side.

VM: This is mere yah-boo. Since no evidence is offered that I have perpetrated hyperbole in my answers here, readers may discount the above statement as petulant.

TF: Others might see your repeated use of Cook et al, which you published a paper to refute, as a bit desperate.

VM: A final thought on the readiness of some people to assume that opinion surveys of scientists (even if properly conducted) provide the slightest evidence for some scientific proposition to which a majority of those scientists are said to assent.

Karl Popper, in Logik der Forschung (The Logic of Scientific Discovery), wrote: “A subjective experience, or a feeling of conviction, can never justify a scientific statement, and within science it can play no part except that of an object of an empirical (a psychological) inquiry. No matter how intense a feeling of conviction it may be, it can never justify a statement. Thus I may be utterly convinced of the truth of a statement; certain of the evidence of my perceptions; overwhelmed by the intensity of my experience: every doubt may seem to me absurd. But does this afford the slightest reason for science to accept my statement? Can any statement be justified by the fact that Karl Popper is utterly convinced of its truth? The answer is No; and any other answer would be incompatible with the idea of scientific objectivity.”

TF: I guess ending with Popper isn’t a bad thing. What he says is true–that is why surveys ask a large number of people. So that we don’t rely on the fallible opinions of the one. And the results of a poll may be inaccurate. However, their track record overall is good enough that hard-nosed businesses spend hard-earned money on them every day–because their results help them make hard decisions.

Monckton’s Final Response–And My Thoughts

Before I turn the microphone over to Viscount Monckton, here is my reaction to this entire series.

First, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is clearly not a ‘denier’ of science. He uses data the same way his opponents do, to reinforce his points. He’s just on the other side of a political struggle.

He is willing to use the same tactics as his opponents, criticizing climate scientists for not being perfect and yet using the same work product for his own purposes. He steadfastly refuses to listen to what scientists say about possible futures, dismissing legitimate surveys as just ‘opinion’.

Viscount Monckton brings considerable intelligence and clarity to his side of the debate and constitutes a worthy opponent for the Alarmists. But he cannot do more than dispute individual points–often justifiably, but too often ignoring the forest for the trees, in my opinion.

I personally am left with the impression that Viscount Monckton is more interested in a political victory than the triumph of science over ignorance. Given that he is undoubtedly intelligent and obviously a clear communicator, I find this sad. When Alarmists are alarmist, I just discount their hyperbole. I find it more disconcerting when it happens on the other side.

Those who have been following this series know the drill. Viscount Monckton is replying to my Recognition statements. I respond in bold. If he has further contributions they will be in italics. The previous posts in this series are herehere,here, here and here.

5. Emissions of greenhouse gases have grown dramatically over the past two centuries, as have concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.

(VM): “Yet again, there is insufficient quantitative information in this statement. Yes, emissions of greenhouse gases have grown, but in what sense is the growth “dramatic”? Grown compared with when? Dramatic compared with what?

TF: It is dramatic when compared to emissions prior to 1750. As you noted yourself in a previous contribution, one-third of all human emissions have occurred since 1998.

Take methane. At one stage the IPCC thought CO2 would contribute a far smaller fraction to the total anthropogenic greenhouse effect than now. It thought the impact of rising methane concentrations would be far larger than it now thinks:”

TF: Again, you observe science in progress, improving and correcting prior mistakes and try to use this as a stick to beat them with. Yep, before the spread of the internet and the introduction of modern mobile phones they thought there would be a lot more methane in the atmosphere. Now they don’t. And they don’t hide the change–they report it and incorporate it into their next assessment.

Nineteen

 

(VM): “In geological terms, there is nothing unprecedented about today’s CO2 concentration, except how low it is. It was once 7 millimoles per mole, compared with just 0.4 millimoles per mole today:”

TF: As we both know (as do most readers here), many things impact the climate, not just human activities. Large meteor impacts, continental shifts, super volcanoes–some of which occurred at the times where there have been real regime changes in the climate, but none of which have occurred since 1750. And yet CO2 has climbed dramatically and temperature change, while not as dramatic, has climbed notably. But you agree that the change from 0.28 millimoles to 0.4 millimoles can have an impact on climate, if what you’ve written here is correct–or am I misinterpreting you?

Twenty

 

(VM): “Seen in geological terms, then, there is nothing in the least “dramatic” about today’s CO2 concentration. It may well be higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years. But the correct response to that is that today’s concentration is very good news for trees and plants. They would function still better if we were able at least to triple today’s concentration.

TF: I agree that more CO2 is good for trees and plants and I welcome the boost to agriculture provided by this extra CO2. But they share the planet with other species, including us, and increased vegetation is not the only effect of climate change. Similarly, while I am very happy that we can expect fewer deaths due to cold weather, it is not the only impact climate change will have on us. 

Some of the worst of the alarmists have been trying to tie every instance of extreme weather to climate change. We both know that’s nonsense. But the recent heatwave in India may well be a preview of coming attractions. If we are unable to influence the climate to prevent it from being a common occurrence, we had damn well better make sure the Indians can afford air conditioning.

Besides, global temperature is remarkably resistant to systemic change under anything like modern conditions. For the past 810,000 years, global temperature has varies by less than 3.5 K either side of the long-run mean – about the same variance as that which the average house thermostat permits. Yet huge orbital, asteroidal, supervolcanic and other forcings occurred throughout the period. This formidable thermostasis suggests that the climate may well be rather insensitive to any forcings:”

TF: If, as we all hope, sensitivity proves to be low, than we may need to shove the climate to change it, rather than just providing a gentle nudge. But Viscount Monckton, we quite possibly will double our emissions over the next few decades. That may well serve as a shove, not a nudge.

Twenty One

 

(VM): “Conclusion

“Any survey of mere opinion on a scientific question is intrinsically of little scientific value, in that consensus has no place in the scientific mattered. It mattered not that once everyone thought the Earth was flat: like it or not, it is an oblate spheroid. It mattered not that for 300 years everyone thought Newton’s celestial mechanics the last word, until a patent-clerk third class, in a non-peer-reviewed paper, demonstrated otherwise. Likewise, it matters not what the established scientific community, and still less the governing class, thinks is true. What matters is what is objectively speaking true.

TF: The scientists may be wrong about climate change in some respects. But if you look back at the statements where you remark they are trivially true, it doesn’t seem as though you think they are wrong. It doesn’t seem that you think a patent clerk will emerge from his office clutching a paper that disproves the greenhouse effect or that we will discover the Arctic has been cooling in recent decades. So why bring in these examples?

Notice that the quantitative information supplied here is typical of the sceptical scientific researcher: it is information taken from observations and measurements and experiments.

TF: Yes, most of them provided to us by the climate scientists that you really don’t want to listen to. As you inadvertently note, they have continuously re-evaluated their hypotheses when new data showed it was appropriate. And yet the very large majority of experienced climate scientists are worried about what the impacts will be of human-caused climate change.

Those who say there is a problem with our influence on the climate can only assert that there is a problem by making predictions. Insofar as some of those predictions were made long enough ago to be compared with outturn, it will be seen that they have fallen relentlessly on the side of exaggeration. Empirically speaking, then, the skeptics have been proven right – so far.”

TF: They have been often wrong. They may be wrong now. But the Arctic has warmed by 2C over the past decades and sea ice in the region has diminished dramatically. There have been other successes in predicting the impacts of climate change but if that were the only one it would be worth our time and effort to investigate.

Monckton’s RAMA Responses, Part 4

Those who have been following this series know the drill. Viscount Monckton is replying to my Recognition statements. I respond in bold. If he has further contributions they will be in italics. The previous posts in this series are here, here, here and here.

4. Conventional physics accurately describes how greenhouse gas concentrations can contribute to warming.

(VM): “Once again, the question is not expressed quantitatively and cannot, therefore, be answered definitively in scientific terms. It is trivially true that adding a greenhouse gas to an atmosphere such as ours will – all other things being equal – be expected to cause some warming. The results of Tyndall’s experiment are not up for repeal.

TF: Again, given the nature of the climate debate I do not think this is trivial. You and I are both called ‘deniers’ because the alarmists maintain that we do not accept what you call a ‘trivial truth’. (Although I guess I have recently been promoted–they are more likely to call me a ‘delayer’ or ‘mitigation skeptic’ than ‘denier’.)

The purpose of this exercise is to find out if mainstream science is accepted by the honorable opposition–the skeptics (and lukewarmers).  Throughout this series of posts you have shown that you do accept it. As I hinted at yesterday, it is far easier to make a case than to build the courtroom.

The real scientific questions are whether all other things are equal, and how much warming a given greenhouse-gas enrichment will cause. The uncertainties, already formidable, are greatly aggravated by the fact that the climate behaves as a mathematically-chaotic object: that is, it behaves deterministically but indeterminably. Everything happens for a reason, but without unattainably well-resolved initial data we cannot predict what will happen or why (Lorenz, 1963; Lighthillk, 1998; Giorgi, 2005; IPCC, 2001, §14.2.2.2).

Take the question whether all other things are equal. If the world warms, more evaporation occurs, chiefly from the oceans. But evaporation cools the surface and transfers heat upward, particularly via the mechanism of tropical afternoon convection. From the upper atmosphere, some of that heat will radiate harmlessly to space. The rate of surface evaporation – and the corresponding cooling effect – turns out to be thrice the rate per Kelvin of warming that the models had assumed (Wentz et al., 2007). And that is just one of numerous examples one might take.

TF: Yes,and there are even more factors at play than those you cite. It is a complex subject. But it is being studied by a host of scientists and more is being learnt about it every day. These are by and large the scientists whose opinions you do not care to consider.

And what of the quantitative determination of the warming influence of CO2? Monckton of Brenchley et al. (2015), in a revealing paper in the Science Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, report that the coefficient in the CO2 forcing equation, and hence the magnitude of the forcing itself, was reduced by 15% between the IPCC’s 1995 and 2001 reports. They also report that the IPCC has reduced its central estimate of the temperature feedback sum (which accounts for two-thirds of all global warming in the IPCC’s understanding) from 2 to 1.5 Watts per square meter per Kelvin since 2007. These two influences on their own require climate sensitivity to be halved.

TF: Would you not consider that as evidence that a) science is progressing and b) that the climate science mainstream is willing to publicize previous errors and corrections that work against their primary hypothesis?

There is also the question how much net forcing our emissions will cause. In 1990 the IPCC estimated that by now the total anthropogenic forcing should have been 4 Watts per square meter:”

Sixteen

(VM): “However, by 2013 the net anthropogenic forcing had been reduced by almost half, to just 2.3 Watts per square meter:”

Seventeen

(VM): “Manifestly, then, the quantitative impact of our influence on the climate via emissions of greenhouse gases is perforce poorly constrained. We do not have any idea how much or how little influence we are having. All we can go by is the growing disparity between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and relentlessly static global temperatures, and between the models’ excitable predictions and far less exciting reality:”

TF: I agree that there is a lot of work ahead of us all in attribution and quantification. In a less politically charged environment this would be grounds for excitement. It is a pity that it all has become a partisan political issue. Both  alarmists and skeptics have contributed to this polarization.

As for your final graph below, I would amend the title–the models have indeed failed, but they have failed to do what they were not designed to do. They are not meant to accurately predict future temperatures at a decadal level. They have done a good job at showing the broad sweep of climate over much longer periods of time and contributing to our understanding of the various forces at work in shaping it. If you criticize them for not doing what the alarmists had hoped they would do, you might spare a moment to praise them for doing a good job at what they were designed to do.

Eighteen

 

 

Monckton’s RAMA Responses, part 3

I’m continuing to post Viscount Monckton’s full responses to my RAMA challenge issued last week. Previous posts are here, here and here. As with previous posts, I will have my comments to his responses in bold and if he has time to continue the discussion his further replies will be in italics.

3. Scientists have identified ways in which human activity can change the climate: Deforestation, pollution, changes in land use / land cover and emissions of greenhouse gases.

(VM) “Again, the statement is trivially true, and accordingly skates neatly around the true topic of scientific debate, which is not whether the four listed activities can change the climate but to what extent they do change it. The statement is qualitative, but science is quantitative. Equations are its syntax; expressions its grammar; quantities its vocabulary.”

TF: You may say that this statement, like others you have characterized with the same words, is ‘trivially true.’ But it, like the others, is not. If you do not believe scientists know how humans can change the planet, they have to qualify as scientists who know their material. If you do accept that they have identified mechanisms for artificially altering the climate, it is only a matter of agreeing on metrics and finding the numbers.

I agree with you that they have identified those mechanisms. And if your subsequent statements boil down to ‘they haven’t shown it to my satisfaction,’ in some respects I would agree. However, I think they’ve come a long way in the past quarter century and have hopes that progress will continue.

(VM): “Take deforestation. A tree is a store of carbon from CO2 that it extracted from the atmosphere. And the atmosphere once contained at least 7000 micromoles per mole, compared with just 400 today. To the nearest tenth of one per cent, then, there is at present no CO2 in the atmosphere at all.”

TF: Again, you are repeating the mistakes of the alarmists. They go on about how many Hiroshimas worth of heat are accumulating in the ocean and how many Manhattans are melting from the ice caps. It’s a nonsense. Sadly, your attempt to quantify CO2 as a percentage of the atmosphere is the same. CO2 is almost at the level of a trace gas, both at 400 ppm at present and 8,000 ppm in the past. But as you note below, it is an important trace gas.

(VM): “Trees and plants die if CO2 concentration falls much below the ice-age value of 150 micromoles per mole. Trees and plants grow faster, produce better crops, and consume less water the more CO2 is added to the air. These benefits are relentlessly excluded from the account by the profiteers of doom. One scientific consequence is that, notwithstanding deforestation, the phenomenon known as CO2 fertilization has caused a net increase of 0.2% per year over recent decades in the total biomass of vegetation on Earth (known as the “net primary productivity of plants”):”

Thirteen

(VM) “Take pollution. CO2 is not pollution, in that it is naturally occurring, in that it is beneficial to, as well as essential to, just about all plant and animal life on Earth, and in that it has normally been present in the atmosphere at larger concentrations than that which obtains at present. Currently, the only globally significant form of atmospheric pollution (and no other kind could much influence the climate) is particulate aerosols – i.e., soot. However, the cooling effect of these aerosols largely offsets the supposed warming effect of CO2; and, intriguingly, removing all constraints on emitting particulates, while very bad for human health, would be sufficient to offset CO2-driven warming altogether. However, since warming has been negligible in recent decades, the real question is whether the magnitude of our current enhancement of the greenhouse effect will cause so much warming as to be harmful. It seems increasingly certain that the answer is No.”

TF: I don’t know where you get your increasing certainty. Not from the papers I am reading. Sensitivity may come in at a low value–I think we all hope so. However, due to development (which I enthusiastically endorse) in the developing world, our CO2 emissions will double over the next few decades. With any positive value for sensitivity this could and probably will pose problems for us.

(VM): Take changes in land use and land cover. These have a generally marginal effect on the concentration of CO2 resident in the atmosphere and, in all other respects, are capable of having only a very small and harmless influence on the global climate, though they may have a more significant impact at the regional level.”

TF: Yes, but ‘global’ warming is an accounting fiction. All of whatever impacts may result will be expressed at the regional level. And the IPCC thinks that the regions most affected will be those least able to counter it at present.

(VM) “Take emissions of greenhouse gases. We have emitted more CO2 than the IPCC had predicted in 1990 on its “business-as-usual” Scenario A:”

Fourteen

“In short, all the rhetoric about CO2 reduction has made not the slightest global difference, because Socialist measures to shut down the economies of the West have been more than offset by the very rapid growth in emission in China, which overtook the United States as the world’s largest emitter just a decade ago and already now emits twice as much as the U.S. China will soon emit one-third of all the CO2 emitted worldwide: and yet Mr Obama, in December last year, exempted China from any obligation to cut its CO2 emissions, which will continue to rise steeply until at least 2050, regardless of what we do in the West.”

TF: Your geopolitical analysis is quite different from mine. (I am a confirmed leftist and likely to remain so.)  However, your numbers here are quite accurate. I would say focusing on China actually flatters the figures. The top 5 emitters in 2040–China, the U.S., India, Japan and Russia–will account for 60% of emissions.

However, I wonder how you think Obama ‘exempted’ China from emission cuts. Do you suggest he could have imposed his will by imperial edict? I think the days of gunboat diplomacy are (thankfully) over. Xi Jinping has every incentive to move to less emissive power generation and would love to do so. But he can’t–and I have no doubt that Obama knows it.

(VM) “To put this in context, if the U.S. were to continue on its present course and shut down its economy altogether and immediately, the growth in Chinese emissions has already replaced that entire output of CO2:”

Fifteen

More From Monckton

Update: Viscount Monckton has replied to the questions I posed him. I have inserted them here in italics.

This is another post providing you readers with more complete responses to my Climate Change Recognition questions to Viscount Monckton. As before, I will add questions or comments below his replies in bold. Previous posts in this series can be found here, here and here. Remember that the purpose of this is not for me to persuade Viscount Monckton that Lukewarmerism is the true belief for everyone–nor for him to convince me that skepticism is the order of the day. I am trying to determine how much of a struggle it would be to get opponents of the consensus to agree on the existence of first, recent rapid climate change (well, not counting the pause…), second, human contributions to climate change and third… well we’ll see. I want to understand if different parties can work from the same set of ‘facts’

2. Humans have the capacity to change the climate through our actions. (VM) “This statement is trivially true. Every living thing on Earth has the capacity to change the climate. Nearly every plant takes CO2 out of the atmosphere; every volcano and fire and nearly every animal adds CO2 to the atmosphere every time it breathes out. The ocean takes CO2 out of the atmosphere when it cools and adds it to the atmosphere when it warms. The greenhouse effect has been posited hypothetically, demonstrated empirically and explained theoretically. Its existence is no more in doubt than the theorem of Pythagoras. The question is whether but how much our emissions influence the climate. The answer to that quantitative question is very far from being settled science. Svante Arrhenius, for instance, published a paper in 1896 estimating that a doubling of CO2 concentration would cause 4-8 K global warming. By 1906, however, he had come across the fundamental equation of radiative transfer and was able to determine that the warming would be more like 1.6 K. Monckton of Brenchley et al. (2015) thought 1 K at equilibrium (of which only half would occur within 100 years) was correct; Lindzen & Choi (2009, 2011) and Spencer and Braswell (2010, 2011), recently supported by Professor Ray Bates, think climate sensitivity is well below 1 K. So far, at any rate, events are proving the low-sensitivity case to be correct. The IPCC in 1990 predicted with “substantial confidence” that by now two and a half times as much warming would occur as has occurred:”

(TF): Isn’t it also true that Arrhenius actually published four different values for climate sensitivity, including two that were higher than the one you cite that were published later? More broadly, isn’t it also correct to state that there a large number of estimates for climate sensitivity? Certainly the past two years have produced a number of observation-based estimates that are significantly lower than those drawn from computer model runs, but some good scientists have noted issues with them and counsel what you yourself might term ‘caution’ in evaluating the results.

(VM Reply): You do not say what subsequent values Arrhenius published: nor do you provide references. However, any additional values he published tend to confirm the point I made in citing his two very different values: The answer to the quantitative question how much warming our enrichment of the atmosphere with CO2 may cause is not settled science.

Our own reasons for concluding that climate sensitivity is low are set out in some detail in Monckton of Brenchley et al. (2015) Why models run hot (Science Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 60(1), January: go to scibull.com, click on “Most Read Articles” and ours is the all-time no. 1). Further testing of the simple climate-sensitivity model therein presented by comparing its hindcasts based on IPCC estimates of net anthropogenic radiative forcings from 1750-1950, 1750-1980 and 1750-2012 with observed temperature change over these three periods, carried out for a follow-up paper currently under review by the journal, show the model’s predictions as very close to observation on all three timescales. Our simple model, using a choice of parameters that reflects the underlying physics better than those of the more complex models, predicts that the equilibrium response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration will be 1.0 [0.8, 1.3] K per CO2 doubling,

Nor are we alone in concluding that climate sensitivity will be small. The following is a non-exhaustive list of papers in the reviewed journals of climate and related sciences concluding that climate sensitivity will be less than the canonical interval 3.0 [1.5, 4.5] K (Charney, J., Nat. Acad. Sci., 1979; IPCC, 2013):

(TF) Viscount Monckton provided a number of citations in support of this. I have placed them at the bottom of the post.

Eleven (VM) “Indeed, the observed rate of warming since the IPCC’s First Assessment Report is very considerably below even the lower bound of the IPCC’s predicted interval (orange in the graph).

(TF) Don’t we have observational evidence that temperature rises have occurred in stairstep fashion? Haven’t temperatures risen quite quickly over two decade periods followed by pauses of about the same length of time? Isn’t it mirroring the mistake of  the alarmists to say this pause will be permanent as opposed to their saying the previous rise would be monotonic and last for a century?

(VM): The “escalator” pattern of global warming periods between periods of hiatus is indeed evident in the temperature record. It is perhaps no accident that the two warming periods since the first identifiable ~60yr PDO cycle began in about 1890 coincide precisely with positive or warming phases within the cycles. Dates for the negative and positive cycles are provided by JISAO, which maintains the PDO index.

Twelve

From the graph you will at once see that temperature change over the past century and more has not been “monotonic”, so that we have no particular reason to suppose it will be monotonic in future. Nor do the alarmists say there will merely be a continuation of the 20th century’s 0.9 K warming rate in the 21st century: they say there will be up to 4.8 K warming. Our analysis shows such fanciful and extreme predictions to be highly unlikely.

At present, we are about halfway through a negative or non-warming phase of the PDO. However, there is a rather obvious difference between the current non-warming phase and its two predecessors: this time, CO2 emissions and concentration are at levels not inferred in 810,000 years (Jouzel et al., 2007); yet there has been no flicker of global warming for 18 years 6 months (RSS, 2015, based on Mears & Wentz, 2009). Even if the next two positive PDO phases were to show warming as great as that in the past two, the warming over the 21st century would be the same as it was in the 20th – around 0.9 K, which is exactly the 21st-century warming that our simple model of the climate predicts. Would so small a warming matter? No: even the IPCC concedes that warming at that slow a rate would be harmless and beneficial.

The first draft of IPCC’s Synthesis Report for 2013 admitted that 111 of 114 models had not predicted the absence of warming from 1988-2012, which was below the lower 95%-confidence bound in those 111 models. This illustrates a crucial point: the case for climate alarm is based on the relentlessly exaggerated predictions of very nearly all climate models (our own being an honourable exception). The case for climate scepticism is based not on predictions but on observations and data. Predictions are for astrologers: measurements and data are for scientists: and that is one of many reasons why I for one have never predicted that the pause will be permanent.”

(VM): The most comprehensive survey of peer-reviewed opinion in climate-related papers in the learned journals considered 11,944 such papers published over the 21 years 1991-2011. It found just 0.3%, or 64 papers, stating that recent global warming was mostly manmade (or, equivalently, that at least one-third of a Kelvin of warming since 1950 was manmade).”

(TF): Citing the Cook study is unhelpful–it is garbage, as Tol and others have pointed out. But von Storch, Bray et al 2008 and Verheggen et al 2013 both found very respectable percentages–66% in each study–of published climate scientists who attribute half or more of warming since the mid–twentieth century to human emissions of greenhouse gases. I go into some detail on that here.

 (VM): The definitive dismissal of Cook et al. is in Legates et al. (2015), of which I was a co-author. We obtained Cook’s own data file listing 11,944 papers in the reviewed literature over the 21 years 1991-2011. Cook and his co-authors had themselves marked only 0.5% of the papers – just 64 out of 11,944 – as stating that recent warming was mostly manmade. We read all 64 papers and only 41 of them, or 0.3%, had said what Cook et al. had said they had said.

TF: Yes, we both agree that Cook is not good.

The significance of the absence of supposed “consensus” in the Cook paper is that all of the papers evaluated had been peer-reviewed. Under the rigorous conditions for peer review, speculation about how much warming we may see, however fashionable, is not science: it is astrology, and reviewers will nearly always disallow it. On the other hand, the headcount surveys you mention were of non-reviewed opinions. At present, the climate extremists are vicious in their personal, ad hominem attacks on anyone in academe who dares to question the Party Line. There is a palpable atmosphere of fear in the universities on the climate question: indeed, when I am invited to give faculty-level presentations, a team of pseudo-academic thugs menaces deans and vice-chancellors to try to get me disinvited. About half the time they succeed.

TF: You seem to be making one of the many mistakes Cook made–thinking that a published paper speaks for anything beyond the subject of the paper. Cook thinks he can divine a consensus from this. Do you really think you can divine a lack of consensus from it? I believe asking climate scientists what they think is far more effective.

Besides – and we have found by experience that this point is extremely difficult for those on the Socialist or totalitarian wing of politics to grasp – science is not, repeat not, repeat not, done by consensus. Aristotle made it perfectly plain 2350 years ago in his Refutations of the Sophists that argument by headcount and argument by appeal to the authority or reputation of experts are both logical fallacies – unsound forms of argument from which no rational conclusion may be drawn except that those who persist in relying upon them are feeble-minded (Aristotle says as much). As Feynman said, “If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong.” It does disagree with experiment. So it’s wrong, however many terrorized scientists may have been cowed into declaring their undying belief in it.

TF: Blind belief in a consensus has often led to grievous error in the past and I do not advocate it. Ignoring it seems just as fraught.

It requires a new and exceptional degree of intellectual vapidity to believe in and parade a “consensus” of “experts” when not only is any such belief an instance of not one but two logical fallacies injudiciously conflated but also no such consensus exists in fact in the reviewed journals where, like it or not, science is done. The vapidity is doubled down upon where it is insisted that peer review is the yardstick of true science and yet head-count studies based on non-reviewed opinions are cited with approval, and is doubled down upon again where those studies are not conducted after careful randomization of the sample in accordance with the established norms of opinion polling.

This, too, is a fundamental divide. Just as the climate extremists rely upon predictions while the skeptics rely upon data, so the climate extremists rely upon an imagined (and, as Cook et al. inadvertently demonstrated, imaginary) “consensus” of “experts” while the skeptics rely upon peer review, which, with all its faults, is the least bad method we have at present for groping towards the truth in science.

TF: I find that some skeptics do repeat the errors of those most alarmed by climate change. They fixate on papers that support their point of view and ignore those that do not. I also think that climate scientists are not instructed on how to think nor do they agree on talking points among themselves. I believe that about two thirds of all climate scientists honestly think that humans have caused much of the warming experienced since the mid-twentieth century. I have no more use for the Konsensus alarmists than do you–but strip away the Joe Romms and the Eli Rabetts from the conversation and you are left with a solid consensus. The informed minority report that should be commissioned, from luminaries such as Freeman Dyson, John Christy and others, should not be ignored. But it is a minority viewpoint.

Here are the papers cited by Viscount Monckton:

  • Michaels PJ, Knappenberger PC, Frauenfeld OW et al (2002) Revised 21st century temperature projections. Clim Res 23:1-9
  • Douglass DH, Pearson BD, Singer SF (2004) Altitude dependence of atmospheric temperature trends: climate models versus observation. Res. Lett. 31:L13208, doi:10.1029/2004GL020103
  • Landscheidt T (2003) New Little Ice Age instead of global warming? Energy & Envir 14:2, 327–350 
  • Chylek P, Lohmann U (2008) Aerosol radiative forcing and climate sensitivity deduced from the Last Glacial Maximum to Holocene transition. Res. Lett. 35:L04804, doi:10.1029/2007GL032759 
  • Monckton of Brenchley C (2008) Climate sensitivity reconsidered. Phys Soc 37:6–19 
  • Douglass DH, Christy JR (2009) Limits on CO2 climate forcing from recent temperature data of e Energy Environ 20:1–2 
  • Lindzen RS, Choi Y-S (2009) On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data. Geophys Res Lett 36:L16705, doi:10.1029/2009GL039628 
  • Spencer RW, Braswell WD (2010) On the diagnosis of radiative feedback in the presence of unknown radiative forcing. J Geophys Res 115:D16109, doi:10.1029/2009JD013371 
  • Annan JD, Hargreaves JC (2011) On the genera­tion and interpretation of probabilistic estimates of climate sensitivity. Clim Change 104:324-436 
  • Lindzen RS, Choi Y-S (2011) On the observational determination of climate sensitivity and its implica­tions. Asia-Pac J Atmos Sci 47:377-390 
  • Monckton of Brenchley C (2011) Global brightening and climate sensitivity. In: Zichichi A, Ragaini R (eds) Proceedings of the 45th annual international seminar on nuclear war and planetary emergencies, World Federation of Scientists. World Scientific, London 
  • Schmittner A, Urban NM, Shakun JD et al (2011) Climate Sensitivity Estimated From Temperature Reconstructions of the Last Glacial Maximum. Science334:1385-1388, doi:10.1126/science.1203513 
  • Spencer RW, Braswell WD (2011) On the misdiagnosis of surface temperature feedbacks from variations in Earth’s radiant-energy balance. Remote Sens 3(8):1603-1613, doi:10.3390/rs3081603 
  • Aldrin M, Holden M, Guttorp P et al (2012) Bayesian estimation of climate sensitivity based on a simple climate model fitted to observations of hemispheric temperature and global ocean heat content. Environmetrics 23(3):253-271, doi: 10.1002/env.214 
  • Hargreaves JC, Annan JD, Yoshimori M et al (2012) Can the Last Glacial Maximum constrain climate sensitivity? Geophys Res Lett 39:L24702, doi:10.1029/2012GL053872 
  • Ring MJ, Lindner D, Cross EF et al (2012) Causes of the global warming observed since the 19th century. Atmos Clim Sci 2:401-415, doi: 10.4236/acs.2012.24035 
  • van Hateren JH (2012) A fractal climate response function can simulate global average temperature trends of the modern era and the past millennium. Clim Dyn 40(11-12):2651-2670, doi:10.1007/s00382-012-1375-3 
  • Lewis N (2013) An objective Bayesian improved approach for applying optimal fingerprint techniques to estimate climate sensitivity. J Clim 26:7414-7429, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00473.1 
  • Masters T (2013) Observational estimates of climate sensitivity from changes in the rate of ocean heat uptake and comparison to CMIP5 models. Clim Dyn 42:2173-2181, doi:101007/s00382-013-1770-4 
  • Otto A, Otto FEL, Boucher O et al (2013) Energy budget constraints on climate response. Nature Geosci 6:415-416, diuL19,1938/ngeo1836 
  • Spencer RW, Braswell WD (2013) The role of ENSO in global ocean temperature changes during 1955-2011 simulated with a 1D climate model. Asia-Pac J Atmos Sci 50(2):229-237, doi:10.1007/s13143-014-0011-z 
  • Lewis N, Curry JA (2014) The implications for climate sensitivity of AR5 forcing and heat uptake estimates. Clim Dyn, 10.1007/s00382-014-2342-y 
  • Loehle C (2014) A minimal model for estimating climate sensitivity. Ecol Modelling 276:80-84, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2014.01.006  
  • McKitrick R (2014) HAC-robust measurement of the duration of a trendless subsample in a global climate time series. Open J Stats 4:527-535, doi:10.4236/ojs.2014.47050 
  • Monckton of Brenchley C (2014) Political science: drawbacks of apriorism in intergovernmental climatology. Energy & Envir. 25(6-7):1177-1204.

Monckton’s More Complete Response–With Some Comments and Questions, Part 1

Update 2: Viscount Monckton was kind enough to respond to my further questions. They appear below my questions in italics. I will probably break this discussion up into separate posts if it continues–it’s getting a bit unwieldy here.

Update: At Viscount Monckton’s request I have added some charts that he sent with his response. He is confident the addition of these charts clarifies his points. (For all these charts, click to ’embiggen’.)

Viscount Monckton’s reply to my questions about recognizing the potential for human caused climate change was a 10-page Word document. I previously showed snips of his answers here. In this post I will put his full response to the first RAMA statement and add some of my own comments and questions in bold.

To what extent do you agree with the following propositions?

  1. Global surface temperatures have warmed by about 0.8 K over the past century or so.

(VM): Since 1900, global mean surface temperature as measured by the three longest data series – GISS, HadCRUT4, NCDC – has risen by approximately 0.9 K, a rate equivalent to 0.8 K century–1.

One Global Mean Temperature Change 1900 2015

However, these results should be interpreted with caution, for each of the three datasets has been tampered with to depress artificially the temperature measurements recorded in the early 20th century and to increase them in the late 20th century, with the effect of increasing the apparent warming rate by 0.3 K, or about half, compared with the measured and recorded values.”

Difference between measured and adjusted tempepratures

(TF) I assume from what follows that you don’t think the results have been interpreted with caution by some others. May I ask what your interpretation is? Do you think there has been global warming since 1945 and if so, how much?

(VM) I do not speak for others. However, of 0.9 K global warming since 1900, 0.3 K arose from adjustments to the terrestrial datasets; 0.2 K arose from uncorrected urban heat-island effects on poorly-sited thermometers; and an unknown amount – perhaps another 0.2 K, perhaps more – arose from natural influences before our influence on the climate became even in theory detectable in 1950. That does not necessarily leave much room for CO2-driven warming. No surprise, then, that of 11,944 climate papers published in the reviewed journals over the 21 years 1991-2011 only 64, or 0.5%, were marked by global-warming enthusiasts as stating that recent global warming was mostly manmade. There is no scientific “consensus” on that point and, even if there were, the head-count and argument-from-authority fallacies are no less fallacies today than they were when Aristotle first codified them 2350 years ago.

 Nor is it a question of whether I “think” there has been global warming since 1945. The HadCRUT4 dataset shows 0.7 K warming since 1945, but one must make some allowance for data tampering and also the urban heat island effect. It is not clear either how much warming has occurred or who or what caused it. However, the rate of warming since 1945 is equivalent to only 1 degree per century. Since the IPCC’s first report in 1990, the rate has been scarcely greater, though the IPCC’s 1990 predictions were equivalent to 2.8 [1.9, 4.2] degrees per century.
 
Therefore, even if one assumes, for the sake of argument, that all of the warming shown by the datasets occurred and was manmade, it is clear that the rate of warming predicted by the IPCC in 1990 as its central estimate was at least two and a half times greater than  observation over the past quarter of a century. For these and suchlike reasons, caution is appropriate.

GISS, which depends on the NCDC dataset for its own record, also shows very substantial adjustments to what was actually measured – again with the effect of greatly increasing the apparent rate of warming compared with the true, measured rate:

Three GISS US Temperatures 1999Four GISS US Temperatures 2008

(VM) “The U.S. Historical Climate Network, on which all three terrestrial datasets rely, has also been tampered with, to create a warming where the original measurements showed a cooling.”

Five USHCN BeforeSix USHCN After

“Here are examples from Australia and New Zealand. Many other nations have done similar tampering:”

Seven Darwin Airport Temperatures and AdjustmentsEight NZ temperatures before and after adjustment

(TF): ‘Tamper’ is an emotionally charged word. Do you think the adjustments that have been made were deliberately made to either lower past temperatures or increase more recent temperatures to show a higher rate of warming than has actually been the case?

(VM) The scale of the “adjustments” goes well beyond the routine technical corrections that are normally made in the year or two following the original measurements. The relentless reduction in early 20th-century temperature data, combined with the relentless boosting of late 20th-century temperature data, means that – whether or not the tamperings at both ends of the record were justifiable – a considerable fraction of the warming of the 20th century has arisen from the tampering. Caution is appropriate.

(VM): “Nor can it be safely said that the underlying warming rate in recent decades reflects the record increases in CO2 concentration that have occurred despite all the rhetoric about making reductions. The two satellite lower-troposphere datasets show no global warming for 18 years 6 months. As Dr Isaac Held, an IPCC lead author, has rightly stated, if that record goes to 20 years then the entire basis for the models’ predictions will require urgent re-examination.”

Nine Pause

(TF): During the twentieth century there were two pauses in warming that lasted even longer than the 18 years 6 months that you note. Following each pause, warming resumed. Is there a reason you don’t expect such a resumption at the end of the current pause?

(VM) Again, caution is advisable, particularly in light of the fact that the current pause of 18 years 6 months, unlike the previous pauses over the 20th century, is occurring at a time when CO2 emissions and concentration are rising at record levels. To anyone with a clear eye, that is surprising. 

Also, the length of the pause is now great enough to make a lasting impact on the long-run rate of warming, even if it were to resume.
 
Furthermore, as the first draft of the IPCC’s 2013 synthesis report admitted, 111 of 114 models did not predict so long a pause; the 2008 NOAA State of the Climate report said a pause of 15 years or more would indicate a “discrepancy” between prediction and observation; and Dr Isaac Held, right at the heart of the IPCC process, has recently said that if the pause endures for 20 years very serious questions will have to be asked.
 
Even if global warming were to resume – and theory would lead us to expect that to occur not later than the end of the current negative PDO phase in 10-15 years’ time – it is becoming increasingly implausible to maintain that the long-run rate of warming will ever be as high as the IPCC’s central long-term projection.
 
The IPCC has already all but halved its medium-term projection interval from [0.2, 0.4] K/decade to [0.1, 0.2] K/decade. If the pause continues for very much longer, it will no longer retain any credibility if it fails to reduce its long-term projection interval for global warming as well.
 
In this analysis I take no account of Karl (2015), who purports to have abolished the pause, much as Mann (1998, 1999), followed by IPCC (2001), purported to abolish the inconvenient medieval warm period. The satellites show the lower troposphere has not warmed during the 15 years 2000-2014; the ARGO floats show the upper ocean has not warmed either; the terrestrial datasets, even after tampering, only show warming at 0.3-0.6 K/century equivalent over the period; Karl defies the laws of thermodynamics by positing 1.2 K/century equivalent; and, even if he were right (which, on the evidence, he is not), that warming rate is well below half of the IPCC’s central prediction in 1990. Even if Karl were right, therefore, there would be little cause for concern and still less for action.

(VM): “Furthermore, the published datasets, satellite as well as terrestrial, do not take sufficient account of the urban heat-island effect. Michaels & McKitrick (2006) analysed the temperature records and found a highly significant correlation between regional rates of economic growth and regional rates of warming – a correlation that should not exist at all if proper allowance for increased urban development near temperature sensors had been made. They determined that in recent the warming rate over land had been overestimated by double.

Therefore, it is likely that the 1930s were warmer than the present in the United States, and that the warming since 1900 may have been little more than half the rate shown by the terrestrial datasets.”

Ten ARGO temperatures

(TF): There have been numerous attempts to quantify the effect of UHI and they downplay any impact on global totals, given that urban areas do not comprise a significant percentage of the total land area and that land area is only 30% of the earth’s surface. Rural stations unaffected by UHI show similar rates of warming.  How important is this issue to your overall view of global warming?

(VM) The advantage of the McKitrick & Michaels approach is that it provides an independent examination of the extent to which urban heat-island effects have been allowed for. There should not have been any significant correlation between regional rates of warming and regional rates of industrial or population growth if the urban heat-island effect had been properly corrected for. There was a significant correlation. No one has yet provided a convincing answer to the M&M analysis. 

And it is puzzling that the US Climate Reference Network, which has 114 ideally-located rural stations with a respectable and uniform standard of quality monitoring, still does not publish a monthly temperature anomaly for the whole network. Until it does, it is difficult to establish whether properly-sited stations will show warming at the same rate as the inadequately-sited stations.
 
I do not have an “overall view of global warming”. I remain open to the evidence, whichever way it leads. At present, the evidence is manifestly insufficient to justify any action to mitigate CO2 emissions; and, even if it were sufficient, the peer-reviewed literature of economics is near-unanimous in sharing the IPCC’s conclusion that it is costlier to mitigate today than to allow global warming to happen, even at the overblown rate predicted by the IPCC, and then to adapt to its consequences the day after tomorrow.
 
Who benefits from the global warming storyline? The governing class; the rich; the powerful; the corporate and landowning interests; the public sector. Who pays? The poor, and not just in treasure but in lives. In one recent very cold month in the UK, there were 7000 excess deaths over and above the excess deaths that are normal every winter. Many of those who died probably did so not so much because the weather was cold as because their homes were cold. Owing to the staggering increases in the cost of fuel and power that have arisen directly because of ill-considered and uncosted policies intended (however piously) to mitigate global warming, they could not afford to heat their homes. In that winter a neighbour found one close to me lying on the floor of her unheated house, unable to move.
 
But the real losers are the poor in the third-world countries, whose children die of smoke inhalation from dung and wood fires in unventilated shacks. They have no refrigeration, no lighting, no air conditioning, no heating: none of the life-changing and life-sustaining conveniences that electricity brings. Look at the satellite image of Africa at night. There are hardly any lights across the center of that vast and heavily-populated continent. It is the Dark Continent in every sense. Instead of installing coal-fired power – the cheapest and most low-tech base-load electricity – we are instead squandering trillions on making non-existent global warming go away. That is not merely a failure of priorities: it is a crime against humanity. Global warming policies are already having consequences more severe than those predicted by the canting profiteers of doom, whose victims – as ever – are the poor.
 
Herr Jean Ziegler, the UN’s right-to-food rapporteur, said in 2007 that the conversion of crops to biofuels was – his words – “a crime against humanity”. It led to a doubling of world food prices over the past decade. In Haiti, even the mud pies made with real mud on which the poorest subsisted doubled in price from 3 to 6 cents each. Any accounting of the costs and benefits of CO2 should, therefore, take account of the costs of ill-considered mitigation strategies and the benefits of CO2 fertilization and the consequent increase in the net primary productivity of trees and plants worldwide, as well as the advantages of universal electricity and the boon of cheap transport. The debate on the climate has been immature. It is those who most need our help who have paid the price of our immaturity.

(VM): “Given the conflicting and much-altered testimony, one should look for an authoritative method of measuring change in global mean surface temperatures, such as sufficiently well-resolved measurements of ocean temperature, for the ocean heat capacity is two or three orders of magnitude greater than that of the atmosphere. However, the ARGO bathythermographs, the first global uniform dataset, have been operating for only 11 full years, and each of the 3600 buoys takes only three temperature and salinity profiles from 0-1900 m depth every month over 200,000 square kilometers. For the record, though, the warming rate over the 11-year run of data is equivalent to little more than 0.2 K century–1.”

(TF): Apart from agreeing with your assessment of the utility of better measurements of ocean temperatures, I have no questions here.

Viscount Monckton Takes The RAMA Challenge

I am trying to develop a RAMA initiative, working to improve our understanding of Recognition and Attribution of climate changes and later to prepare and prioritize options for Mitigation and Adaptation should they prove needed.

Yesterday I offered a set of basic statements. They are aimed at finding out where agreement stops and starts with skeptics. (My secondary motivation is to help deligitimize use of the term ‘denier’, which I despise.) The statements are:

  • Global surface temperatures have warmed about 0.8C over the course of the past century or so.
  • Humans have the capacity to change the climate through our actions.
  • Scientists have identified ways in which human activity can change the climate: Deforestation, pollution, changes in land use / land cover and emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Conventional physics accurately describes how greenhouse gas concentrations can contribute to warming.
  • Emissions of greenhouse gases have grown dramatically over the past two centuries, as have concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere

I asked if skeptics would tell me if they agreed with these statements. So far, they do, if my comments are any indication. I’ll repeat my invitation here. Skeptics, what is your level of agreement with these statements?

I emailed them to Viscount Monckton, the UK nobleman who has been one of the leading figures of climate skepticism.

He has responded. And boy, did he respond, sending me a Word document 10 pages in length. I’ll publish his entire response in a separate post. First, though, here are his responses, his level of agreement, with the base statements above.

1. Global surface temperatures have warmed by about 0.8 K over the past century or so.

(Viscount Monckton, or VM) “Since 1900, global mean surface temperature as measured by the three longest data series – GISS, HadCRUT4, NCDC – has risen by approximately 0.9 K, a rate equivalent to 0.8 K century.” (He offers serious reservations which I show below.)

2. Humans have the capacity to change the climate through our actions.

(VM) “This statement is trivially true. Every living thing on Earth has the capacity to change the climate. Nearly every plant takes CO2 out of the atmosphere; every volcano and fire and nearly every animal adds CO2 to the atmosphere every time it breathes out. The ocean takes CO2 out of the atmosphere when it cools and adds it to the atmosphere when it warms. The greenhouse effect has been posited hypothetically, demonstrated empirically and explained theoretically. Its existence is no more in doubt than the theorem of Pythagoras. The question is whether but how much our emissions influence the climate.” (Again, more below.)

3. Scientists have identified ways in which human activity can change the climate: Deforestation, pollution, changes in land use / land cover and emissions of greenhouse gases.

(VM) “Again, the statement is trivially true, and accordingly skates neatly around the true topic of scientific debate, which is not whether the four listed activities can change the climate but to what extent they do change it.” And again, more below.

4. Conventional physics accurately describes how greenhouse gas concentrations can contribute to warming.

(VM) “Once again, the question is not expressed quantitatively and cannot, therefore, be answered definitively in scientific terms. It is trivially true that adding a greenhouse gas to an atmosphere such as ours will – all other things being equal – be expected to cause some warming. The results of Tyndall’s experiment are not up for repeal. The real scientific questions are whether all other things are equal, and how much warming a given greenhouse-gas enrichment will cause.”

5. Emissions of greenhouse gases have grown dramatically over the past two centuries, as have concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.

(VM) “Yet again, there is insufficient quantitative information in this statement. Yes, emissions of greenhouse gases have grown, but in what sense is the growth “dramatic”? Grown compared with when? Dramatic compared with what?”

Despite his caveats (some of which I agree with, some of which I do not), it is quite clear that Monckton is not a ‘denier’ of science. He may vigorously dispute the findings of some research and he may be right in some cases and wrong in others. I will try to add my comments to his so readers can see some of the differences between a lukewarm and a skeptic point of view.

More importantly for the future of my RAMA initiative, we can see that we don’t have to start at zero level in establishing a base for negotiating recognition of climate change. We still have to make the case–Monckton (and others) are clear on this.

As commenter Hunter remarked in yesterday’s post, “The list is more or less agreeable. The question is: To what degree? The least agreeable point is that “Conventional physics accurately describes how greenhouse gas concentrations can contribute to warming.”
-Are we dealing with “change” not definable, a term of convenience for hypesters, or “warming”, which the hypesters have largely left behind?
If it is “change”, the question like all questions regarding “change” of any sort is this: how much, and what are the good and bad impacts?
So far a rational honest look at that question has not taken place in the larger public square.
The second question is regarding the 0.8oC: So what?
Grant that this change has actually happened, and let’s posit that 100% of it was caused by human generated CO2. Where is the harm?”

But that is infinitely easier that it would have been if the Konsensus alarmists had been right about skeptics. As the Konsensus has been wrong about everything else, I am not surprised to encounter firm evidence they are wrong about skeptics as well.

Recognizing Climate Change

Skeptics are wont to say that the climate always changes, which is true but not helpful in the AGW debates. It does always change, but it changes for a variety of reasons.

What science needs to do is present compelling evidence that we’ve added some new reasons for climate to change. And science needs to convince enough skeptics to enlarge the consensus. Right now, about two-thirds of climate scientists, a large majority of politicians and a simple majority of citizens agrees that is the case. That is not enough.

Recognition

Most skeptics would agree more or less with the following statements:

  • Global surface temperatures have warmed about 0.8C over the course of the past century or so.
  • Humans have the capacity to change the climate through our actions.
  • Scientists have identified ways in which human activity can change the climate: Deforestation, pollution, changes in land use / land cover and emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Conventional physics accurately describes how greenhouse gas concentrations can contribute to warming.
  • Emissions of greenhouse gases have grown dramatically over the past two centuries, as have concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere

In fact, I think that every skeptic I know would agree with the above statements, which is why I think using the term ‘denier’ is cheap agitprop and an insult that defines the user more than the target. At any rate, I intend to ask some of the better-known skeptics to sign off on those. Feel free to join them or oppose them in the comments.

Introducing the RAMA Project

Let RAMA stand for the following:

1. Recognition

2. Attribution

3. Mitigation

4. Adaptation

Let’s define those terms further.

Recognition: Widespread acknowledgment that significant warming is occurring and is likely to continue during the course of the 21st century. Useful ranges of likely further warming are developed and explained.

Attribution: Clear fingerprints of the causes of this warming are identified and disambiguated from natural variation. Human contributions are identified and quantified by type, including greenhouse gases, deforestation, black soot, changes in land use and land cover, etc.

Mitigation: A staged strategy of efforts to reduce all human contributions to warming is designed, agreed and implemented incrementally, based both on projections of future warming and observations of climate impacts as they happen. Backup plans for both accelerating and decelerating these efforts are put into place.

Adaptation: A multinational program to help regions deal with current weather-related losses and future climate impacts is developed and funded as part of the next set of Millenium Goals. Separately, a series of X Prizes is announced offering significant rewards to those who develop advances in CO2 free cement production, energy storage, solar power efficiency, wind turbine technology, hydroelectric turbine efficiency, improvements in tree absorption of CO2, breakwaters and seawalls, etc.

I guess the devil’s in the details, but this looks pretty.

Rama’s life and journey is one of adherence to dharma despite harsh tests and obstacles and many pains of life and time. He is an ideal man and a perfect human. For the sake of his father’s honour, Rama abandons his claim to Ayodhaya’s throne to serve an exile of fourteen years in the forest.[6] His wife Sita and brother Lakshmana decide to join him, and all three spend the fourteen years in exile together. While in exile, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the Rakshasa monarch of Lanka. After a long and arduous search, Rama fights a colossal war against Ravana’s armies. In a war of powerful and magical beings, greatly destructive weaponry and battles, Rama slays Ravana in battle and liberates his wife.[7] Having completed his exile, Rama returns to be crowned king in Ayodhya and eventually becomes emperor,[6] rules with happiness, peace, duty, prosperity and justice—a period known as Ram Rajya.

lord-rama-wallpaper_138536428010

 

Recognition and Attribution

Our world has grown complex enough that metrics matter. It is famously said that what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed. In climate science, our inability to produce simple metrics has delayed action while further polarizing the debate.

Metrics.jpg

About 66% of scientists are convinced that more than half of the 0.8C warming of the past century is caused by human contributions of greenhouse gases. They and their interpreters in the media have convinced majorities of the public in most of the world that this is true. (That includes me, by the way, although I suspect a good part of the human contribution consists of black soot, deforestation and changes in land use / land cover.)

However, this has not translated into a mandate for either preparatory actions that would prevent some further warming (mitigation) or action to deal with its consequences (adaptation).

That’s because everybody is convinced about climate change, but not about climate consequences. Three things have to happen before public support for mitigation and adaptation will rise to a level permitting action without causing a revolution.

First, scientists will have to do a better job of attribution. What percentage of the temperature rise is due to natural variability, what part to greenhouse gases and what part to other human influences?

Second, scientists will have to provide a better range of sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of CO2 concentrations. At its current level, the range of 1.5C – 4.5C is too wide to enable planning.

Third, everyone–scientists, politicians, lobbyists, NGOs, energy companies and the public–have to agree on a set of markers and metrics for the consequences of climate change. Currently, anything besides a lovely autumn day is labeled as a hellfire consequence of global warming. This has to stop. Currently, loss of ice in the major ice caps or the seas around them is counted in Manhattans. That’s absurd. Tell us percentages of the total. I really don’t care how many Hiroshimas are being detonated in the deep ocean. What was the temperature before? What is the temperature now? What will the temperature be in 10 year’s time?

Currently, the IPCC WG2 has a list of 26 key risks the planet can expect due to climate change. (Some of them, like loss of coastal areas due to sea level rise, are repeated for different parts of the world.)

What is needed is a series of progress (or regress) reports, saying X amount of coastline has been lost in the past decade and we are fairly confident that Y% of that X amount is due to sea level rise caused by global warming. Repeat for each of the 26 key risks.

Then put a price on it. The world has lost $X billion due to this loss of coastal area or our efforts to save it.

It’s a lot of work. If we unanimously agreed that it was worth doing it would still take a decade to come up with what I’ve requested.

But in an age where Merchants of False Certainty are crying doom and calling Barack Obama a denier, while some skeptics are still insisting that temperatures haven’t actually risen, we need to have plain language and simple numbers to show where we came from, where we are and where we may be going.

There’s a reason everyone trusts the Keeling Curve. It’s simple–it isn’t easy to misinterpret. Funnily enough, it’s about the only climate metric that isn’t abused by both sides.

Climate Change: Recognition, Mitigation and Adaptation

I have recently been posting on mitigation and adaptation issues regarding climate change. They have been preparations for a future series of posts that will attempt to create a coherent plan of action for dealing with current and expected climate change.

The first section will be on recognition–until the extent of climate change is quantified and broadly accepted, no future schemes for mitigation or adaptation stand a chance of gaining wide acceptance.

For mitigation and adaptation, I hope to come up with concrete measures that taken together can offer a credible scenario for dealing with recognized climate change. Ideally they will come with timetables and a price tag–but I’m only human, so we’ll see.

Unlike broader brush attempts at doing the same thing, from organizations ranging from The Breakthrough Institute, the Copenhagen Consensus, WG2 and 3 of the IPCC and Nicholas Stern, I don’t have a deadline and am willing to explore options at depth.

I would welcome your help. Happy Sunday to all!

IPCC WG2 Tells Us What 26 Key Risks of Climate Change Are–And How To Fight Them

Well, this may be the longest post I’ve ever written. It comes about because of the serendipitous combination of my current focus on adaptation and my casual reading of a comment over at the Konsensus weblog Rabett Run.

I had commented on the EIA prediction that the world would burn 219 quads worth of coal in 2040, up from last year’s total of 160. Barton Paul Levenson offered this comment:

“Then we’re all as good as dead.”

Huh?

Not to be outdone, on another thread at Rabett Run, commenter Bernard J offered his cheerful outlook on life:

“At 2° C over preindustrial mean global temperature (and in consert with other, non-climate challenges), international governance and the cohesion of many and probably most nation-states will eventually fail. The biosphere will be severely damaged and significant portions of the human population will suffer and even die from climate disruption.

At 4° C over preindustrial mean global temperature, global and national civilisation structures will effectively fail, as will many and indeed probably most local-civilisation apparatus. Present-day Cuba will be as (or better than…) a First World country is now should this amount of warming occur. There will be so much extinction of flora and fauna species that humans’ ability to garner a sustainable living from biodiversity will fail, with catastrophic consequences for large swathes of the population.

At 6° C over preindustrial mean global temperature, humans will have no long-term particiption in the ongoing evolution of (any?) intelligent life on the planet. None whatsoever. Even high-tech enclaves will not offer refuge from premature extinction, because too many complex societal systems will have failed and too much pre-industrial skill will have been lost for tech to remain coherent and to push aginst the thermodynamic cost of FUBARing our ecology. A majority of the eukaryotic taxonomy will be committed to extinction as well, many taxa before humans, and many afterward, even millenia after.

Any uncertainty in the estimations will be biased to the scientifically (not politically) conservative side, especially in the context of eventual equilibrium of the global system.”

Now, as it happens I’ve been reading the IPCC AR5 Working Group 2 Summary for Policy Makers. And it lists the major risks we face from global warming.

I defy anyone to read this list and connect it in any way, shape or form to what Barton Paul Levenson and Bernard J. wrote. The idea that global warming threatens not just development, but civilization and even all life on earth is a favorite, if twisted, fantasy of many in the Konsensus. And it is this that causes them to label their opponents deniers. It’s not denying the science. It’s denying the certainty of doom, doom, doom.

do_for_fun__brutal_doom_by_leonelc-d5k7lob

Starting on page 22 of the IPCC AR5 Working Group 2’s Summary for Policy Makers we find a list of 26 ‘Key Risks’ posed by climate change. I list them here as well as their key adaptation issues and prospects for these risks.

Africa

1. Compounded stress on water resources facing significant strain from over-exploitation and degradation at present and increased demand in the future, with drought stress exacerbated in drought-prone regions of Africa

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Reducing non-climate stressors on water resources. • Strengthening institutional capacities for demand management, groundwater assessment, integrated water-wastewater planning, and integrated land and water governance. • Sustainable urban development

2. Reduced crop productivity associated with heat and drought stress, with strong adverse effects on regional, national, and household livelihood and food security, also given increased pest and disease damage and flood impacts on food system infrastructure (high confidence)

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Technological adaptation responses (e.g., stress-tolerant crop varieties, irrigation, enhanced observation systems) • Enhancing smallholder access to credit and other critical production resources; Diversifying livelihoods• Strengthening institutions at local, national, and regional levels to support agriculture (including early warning systems) and gender-oriented policy • Agronomic adaptation responses (e.g., agroforestry, conservation agriculture)

3. Changes in the incidence and geographic range of vector- and water-borne diseases due to changes in the mean and variability of temperature and precipitation, particularly along the edges of their distribution (medium confidence)

Adaptation Issues and Prospects:  Achieving development goals, particularly improved access to safe water and improved sanitation, and enhancement of public health functions such as surveillance • Vulnerability mapping and early warning systems • Coordination across sectors • Sustainable urban development.

Europe

4. Increased economic losses and people affected by flooding in river basins and coasts, driven by increasing urbanization, increasing sea levels, coastal erosion, and peak river discharges

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: Adaptation can prevent most of the projected damages (high confidence). • Significant experience in hard flood-protection technologies and increasing experience with restoring wetlands • High costs for increasing flood protection • Potential barriers to implementation: demand for land in Europe and environmental and landscape concerns

5. Increased water restrictions. Significant reduction in water availability from river abstraction and from groundwater resources, combined with increased water demand (e.g., for irrigation, energy and industry, domestic use) and with reduced water drainage and runoff as a result of increased evaporative demand, particularly in southern Europe (high confidence)

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Proven adaptation potential from adoption of more water-efficient technologies and of water-saving strategies (e.g., for irrigation, crop species, land cover, industries, domestic use) • Implementation of best practices and governance instruments in river basin management plans and integrated water management.

6. Increased economic losses and people affected by extreme heat events: impacts on health and well-being, labor productivity, crop production, air quality, and increasing risk of wildfires in southern Europe and in Russian boreal region (medium confidence)

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Implementation of warning systems • Adaptation of dwellings and workplaces and of transport and energy infrastructure • Reductions in emissions to improve air quality • Improved wildfire management • Development of insurance products against weather-related yield variations.

Asia

7. Increased riverine, coastal, and urban flooding leading to widespread damage to infrastructure, livelihoods, and settlements in Asia

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Exposure reduction via structural and non-structural measures, effective land-use planning, and selective relocation • Reduction in the vulnerability of lifeline infrastructure and services (e.g., water, energy, waste management, food, biomass, mobility, local ecosystems, telecommunications) • Construction of monitoring and early warning systems; Measures to identify exposed areas, assist vulnerable areas and households, and diversify livelihoods • Economic diversification.

8. Increased risk of heat-related mortality

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Heat health warning systems • Urban planning to reduce heat islands; Improvement of the built environment; Development of sustainable cities • New work practices to avoid heat stress among outdoor workers.

9. Increased risk of drought-related water and food shortage causing malnutrition.

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Disaster preparedness including early-warning systems and local coping strategies • Adaptive/integrated water resource management • Water infrastructure and reservoir development • Diversification of water sources including water re-use • More efficient use of water (e.g., improved agricultural practices, irrigation management, and resilient agriculture).

Australasia

10. Significant change in community composition and structure of coral reef systems in Australia

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: Ability of corals to adapt naturally appears limited and insufficient to offset the detrimental effects of rising temperatures and acidification. • Other options are mostly limited to reducing other stresses (water quality, tourism, fishing) and early warning systems; direct interventions such as assisted colonization and shading have been proposed but remain untested at scale.

11. Increased frequency and intensity of flood damage to infrastructure and settlements in Australia and New Zealand.

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Significant adaptation deficit in some regions to current flood risk. • Effective adaptation includes land-use controls and relocation as well as protection and accommodation of increased risk to ensure flexibility.

12. Increasing risks to coastal infrastructure and low-lying ecosystems in Australia and New Zealand, with widespread damage towards the upper end of projected sea-level-rise ranges.

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Adaptation deficit in some locations to current coastal erosion and flood risk. Successive building and protection cycles constrain flexible responses. • Effective adaptation includes land-use controls and ultimately relocation as well as protection and accommodation.

North America

13. Wildfire-induced loss of ecosystem integrity, property loss, human morbidity, and mortality as a result of increased drying trend and temperature trend.

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Some ecosystems are more fire-adapted than others. Forest managers and municipal planners are increasingly incorporating fire protection measures (e.g., prescribed burning, introduction of resilient vegetation). Institutional capacity to support ecosystem adaptation is limited. • Adaptation of human settlements is constrained by rapid private property development in high-risk areas and by limited household-level adaptive capacity. • Agroforestry can be an effective strategy for reduction of slash and burn practices in Mexico.

14. Heat-related human mortality

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: Residential air conditioning (A/C) can effectively reduce risk. However, availability and usage of A/C is highly variable and is subject to complete loss during power failures. Vulnerable populations include athletes and outdoor workers for whom A/C is not available. • Community- and household-scale adaptations have the potential to reduce exposure to heat extremes via family support, early heat warning systems, cooling centers, greening, and high-albedo surfaces.

15. Urban floods in riverine and coastal areas, inducing property and infrastructure damage; supply chain, ecosystem, and social system disruption; public health impacts; and water quality impairment, due to sea level rise, extreme precipitation, and cyclones

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Implementing management of urban drainage is expensive and disruptive to urban areas. • Low-regret strategies with co-benefits include less impervious surfaces leading to more groundwater recharge, green infrastructure, and rooftop gardens. • Sea level rise increases water elevations in coastal outfalls, which impedes drainage. In many cases, older rainfall design standards are being used that need to be updated to reflect current climate conditions. • Conservation of wetlands, including mangroves, and land-use planning strategies can reduce the intensity of flood events.

Central and South America

16. Water availability in semi-arid and glacier-melt-dependent regions and Central America; flooding and landslides in urban and rural areas due to extreme precipitation

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Integrated water resource management • Urban and rural flood management (including infrastructure), early warning systems, better weather and runoff forecasts, and infectious disease control.

17. Decreased food production and food quality

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Development of new crop varieties more adapted to climate change (temperature and drought) • Offsetting of human and animal health impacts of reduced food quality • Offsetting of economic impacts of land-use change • Strengthening traditional indigenous knowledge systems and practices.

18. Spread of vector-borne diseases in altitude and latitude

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Development of early warning systems for disease control and mitigation based on climatic and other relevant inputs. Many factors augment vulnerability. • Establishing programs to extend basic public health services.

Polar Regions

19. Risks for freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems (high confidence) and marine ecosystems (medium confidence), due to changes in ice, snow cover, permafrost, and freshwater/ocean conditions, affecting species´ habitat quality, ranges, phenology, and productivity, as well as dependent economies.

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Improved understanding through scientific and indigenous knowledge, producing more effective solutions and/or technological innovations • Enhanced monitoring, regulation, and warning systems that achieve safe and sustainable use of ecosystem resources • Hunting or fishing for different species, if possible, and diversifying income sources.

20. Risks for the health and well-being of Arctic residents, resulting from injuries and illness from the changing physical environment, food insecurity, lack of reliable and safe drinking water, and damage to infrastructure, including infrastructure in permafrost regions

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Co-production of more robust solutions that combine science and technology with indigenous knowledge • Enhanced observation, monitoring, and warning systems • Improved communications, education, and training • Shifting resource bases, land use, and/or settlement areas.

21. Unprecedented challenges for northern communities due to complex inter-linkages between climate-related hazards and societal factors, particularly if rate of change is faster than social systems can adapt.

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Co-production of more robust solutions that combine science and technology with indigenous knowledge • Enhanced observation, monitoring, and warning systems • Improved communications, education, and training • Adaptive co-management responses developed through the settlement of land claims.

Small Islands

22. Loss of livelihoods, coastal settlements, infrastructure, ecosystem services, and economic stability

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Significant potential exists for adaptation in islands, but additional external resources and technologies will enhance response. • Maintenance and enhancement of ecosystem functions and services and of water and food security • Efficacy of traditional community coping strategies is expected to be substantially reduced in the future.

23. The interaction of rising global mean sea level in the 21st century with high-water-level events will threaten low-lying coastal areas.

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • High ratio of coastal area to land mass will make adaptation a significant financial and resource challenge for islands. • Adaptation options include maintenance and restoration of coastal landforms and ecosystems, improved management of soils and freshwater resources, and appropriate building codes and settlement patterns.

The Ocean

24. Distributional shift in fish and invertebrate species, and decrease in fisheries catch potential at low latitudes, e.g., in equatorial upwelling and coastal boundary systems and sub-tropical gyres.

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Evolutionary adaptation potential of fish and invertebrate species to warming is limited as indicated by their changes in distribution to maintain temperatures. • Human adaptation options: Large-scale translocation of industrial fishing activities following the regional decreases (low latitude) vs. possibly transient increases (high latitude) in catch potential; Flexible management that can react to variability and change; Improvement of fish resilience to thermal stress by reducing other stressors such as pollution and eutrophication; Expansion of sustainable aquaculture and the development of alternative livelihoods in some regions.

25. Reduced biodiversity, fisheries abundance, and coastal protection by coral reefs due to heat-induced mass coral bleaching and mortality increases, exacerbated by ocean acidification, e.g., in coastal boundary systems and sub-tropical gyres.

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Evidence of rapid evolution by corals is very limited. Some corals may migrate to higher latitudes, but entire reef systems are not expected to be able to track the high rates of temperature shifts. • Human adaptation options are limited to reducing other stresses, mainly by enhancing water quality, and limiting pressures from tourism and fishing. These options will delay human impacts of climate change by a few decades, but their efficacy will be severely reduced as thermal stress increases.

26. Coastal inundation and habitat loss due to sea level rise, extreme events, changes in precipitation, and reduced ecological resilience, e.g., in coastal boundary systems and sub-tropical gyres.

Adaptation Issues and Prospects: • Human adaptation options are limited to reducing other stresses, mainly by reducing pollution and limiting pressures from tourism, fishing, physical destruction, and unsustainable aquaculture. • Reducing deforestation and increasing reforestation of river catchments and coastal areas to retain sediments and nutrients • Increased mangrove, coral reef, and seagrass protection, and restoration to protect numerous ecosystem goods and services such as coastal protection, tourist value, and fish habitat.

Adaptation: Which statements are Lomborg’s and which are the IPCC?

HeSaidSheSaid

  1. No matter what we do, we are unlikely to avoid all of the impacts of climate change. Adaptation is unavoidable.
  2. At present the worldwide burden of human ill-health from climate change is relatively small compared with effects of other stressors and is not well quantified.
  3. Adaptation is an effective means of reducing climate related damages. The benefit-cost ratios of adaptation expenditure are larger than one in all scenarios, and for high and low climate damages and discount rates. Nonetheless, benefit cost ratios, and consequently global welfare, are even larger when adaptation and mitigation are implemented jointly. Even though a clear trade-off between adaptation and mitigation has been quantified, they are strategic complements and both contribute to a better control of climate damages. Mitigation prevails in the short-run and/or if the discount rate is low.
  4. Differences in vulnerability and exposure arise from non-climatic factors and from multidimensional inequalities often produced by uneven development processes.
  5. Market adjustments can substantially attenuate initial negative impacts. Nevertheless, equilibrium climate change damages remain substantial at the global level, particularly in developing countries. Accordingly, the distributional and scale implications of climate-related damages must be addressed by adequate policy-driven mitigation and adaptation strategies
  6. As highlighted in IPCC AR4 (2007), already a moderate warming produces negative consequences: increasing number of people exposed to water stresses, extinction of species and ecosystems, decrease in cereal productivity at low latitudes, land loss due to sea level rise in coastal areas, increase in mortality and morbidity associated to change in the incidence of vector borne diseases or to increased frequency and intensity of heath waves; infrastructural disruption and mortality increase due to more frequent and intense extreme weather event occurrence.
  7. For most economic sectors, the impacts of drivers such as changes in population, age structure, income, technology, relative prices, lifestyle, regulation, and governance are projected to be large relative to the impacts of climate change
  8. Economic impact estimates completed over the past 20 years vary in their coverage of subsets of economic sectors and depend on a large number of assumptions, many of which are disputable, and many estimates do not account for catastrophic changes, tipping points, and many other factors.  With these recognized limitations, the incomplete estimates of global annual economic losses for additional temperature increases of ~2°C are between 0.2 and 2.0% of income (±1 standard deviation around the mean)

You would be surprised.

Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus wrote numbers 1, 3, 5 and 6.

IPCC AR5 WG2 wrote 2, 4, 7 and 8.

Adaptation: Evaluation of IPCC AR5 WG2–Did Bjorn Lomborg Write This?

Adaptation: The process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects. (IPCC AR5 WG2, Summary for Policy Makers [SPM]). Read the SPM here.

adaptation1_10241

I had to read the beginning of the AR5 WG2 report very quickly, as I didn’t want to get bogged down in stuff I don’t agree with. I was looking for specific recommendations on what the human race can do to adapt to climate change over the course of this century.

Having read the rest of it, I have to say that it makes sense. It also reads as if it were written by Bjorn Lomborg.

Their advice for dealing with malaria and other vector borne diseases? “Achieving development goals, particularly improved access to safe water and improved sanitation, and enhancement of public health functions such as surveillance”

For dealing with stresses on crop productivity? “Technological adaptation responses (e.g., stress-tolerant crop varieties, irrigation, enhanced observation systems)”

For stress on water resources? “Reducing non-climate stressors on water resources.”

I wonder why the Konsensus is so angry at Lomborg. The IPCC is stealing his ideas….

Here’s more. I will  continue with this for a few posts.

The IPCC believes that some progress is being made in institutional planning processes, writing “Engineered and technological options are commonly implemented adaptive responses, often integrated within existing programs such as disaster risk management and water management. There is increasing recognition of the value of social, institutional, and ecosystem-based measures and of the extent of constraints to adaptation. Adaptation options adopted to date continue to emphasize incremental adjustments and cobenefits and are starting to emphasize flexibility and learning (medium evidence, medium agreement). Most assessments of adaptation have been restricted to impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation planning, with very few assessing the processes of implementation or the effects of adaptation actions (medium evidence, high agreement). 1″

Most of what has happened in terms of adaptation involves education and planning.

“Examples of adaptation across regions include the following:

• In Africa, most national governments are initiating governance systems for adaptation. Disaster risk management, adjustments in technologies and infrastructure, ecosystem-based approaches, basic public health measures, and livelihood diversification are reducing vulnerability, although efforts to date tend to be isolated. 18

• In Europe, adaptation policy has been developed across all levels of government, with some adaptation planning integrated into coastal and water management, into environmental protection and land planning, and into disaster risk management. 19

• In Asia, adaptation is being facilitated in some areas through mainstreaming climate adaptation action into subnational development planning, early warning systems, integrated water resources management, agroforestry, and coastal reforestation of mangroves. 20

• In Australasia, planning for sea level rise, and in southern Australia for reduced water availability, is becoming adopted widely. Planning for sea level rise has evolved considerably over the past 2 decades and shows a diversity of approaches, although its implementation remains piecemeal. 21

• In North America, governments are engaging in incremental adaptation assessment and planning, particularly at the municipal level. Some proactive adaptation is occurring to protect longer-term investments in energy and public infrastructure. 22

• In Central and South America, ecosystem-based adaptation including protected areas, conservation agreements, and community management of natural areas is occurring. Resilient crop varieties, climate forecasts, and integrated water resources management are being adopted within the agricultural sector in some areas. 23″

• In the Arctic, some communities have begun to deploy adaptive co-management strategies and communications infrastructure, combining traditional and scientific knowledge. 24

• In small islands, which have diverse physical and human attributes, community-based adaptation has been shown to generate larger benefits when delivered in conjunction with other development activities. 25

• In the ocean, international cooperation and marine spatial planning are starting to facilitate adaptation to climate change, with constraints from challenges of spatial scale and governance issues. 26

Sadly, “Uncertainties about future vulnerability, exposure, and responses of interlinked human and natural systems are large (high confidence). This motivates exploration of a wide range of socioeconomic futures in assessments of risks. Understanding future vulnerability, exposure, and response capacity of interlinked human and natural systems is challenging due to the number of interacting social, economic, and cultural factors, which have been incompletely considered to date.”

However, starting on page 21, they start giving concrete policy options.

Their first ‘key risk’ is “Compounded stress on water resources facing significant strain from overexploitation and degradation at present and increased demand in the future, with drought stress exacerbated in drought-prone regions of Africa.”

The options they provide are: “• Reducing non-climate stressors on water resources • Strengthening institutional capacities for demand management, groundwater assessment, integrated water-wastewater planning, and integrated land and water governance • Sustainable urban development.”

Next is “Reduced crop productivity associated with heat and drought stress, with strong adverse effects on regional, national, and household livelihood and food security, also given increased pest and disease damage and flood impacts on food system infrastructure (high confidence)”

And their advice is “• Technological adaptation responses (e.g., stress-tolerant crop varieties, irrigation, enhanced observation systems) • Enhancing smallholder access to credit and other critical production resources; Diversifying livelihoods • Strengthening institutions at local, national, and regional levels to support agriculture (including early warning systems) and gender-oriented policy • Agronomic adaptation responses (e.g., agroforestry, conservation agriculture.”

This is followed by “Changes in the incidence and geographic range of vector- and water-borne diseases due to changes in the mean and variability of temperature and precipitation, particularly along the edges of their distribution (medium confidence)”

Their prescription is: “• Achieving development goals, particularly improved access to safe water and improved sanitation, and enhancement of public health functions such as surveillance • Vulnerability mapping and early warning systems • Coordination across sectors • Sustainable urban development.”

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ll be struck by how much Bjorn Lomborg would be nodding his head.

 

Adaptation Bleg

Most of the stuff I’ve read about adaptation to climate change involves sea walls and rerouting roads.

What I’d like to see is costings and timelines for retrofitting large cities, from rerouting sewers to jacking up buildings, from flood proofing metros and power sub stations to improving drainage.

Anyone know where I can look for this?

keep-calm-ca-esti-bleg-1

Adaptation to Climate Change

I have had the privilege of living in London, Turin, San Francisco, Shanghai and Taipei over the last 20 years. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Each of those cities is different in different ways. One way in which they are very different is their climate.

I bring this up to introduce the topic of adaptation. After a week going on (and on) about mitigation, it’s time to change the subject.

If mitigation is not successful in reversing whatever climate change is coming our way, we shall have to adapt. For a species that has robust communities in the Arctic and the Sahara, adapting to 2C or even 4C doesn’t sound like much of a challenge.

My own experience suggests that adaptation to differing climates is certainly possible–but it brings noticeable changes and you have to actually consider it. The daily pattern of your life does change. It can affect your work, your travel plans and your love life. Here in Taipei I go jogging (well, shuffling…) early in the morning. In London I went in the evening.

The infrastructure of the cities I have lived in are built around expectations of a certain range of temperatures, precipitation and even pollution. Streets are surfaced differently, buildings have different interiors and exteriors, drainage is very different.

London and Turin are built along the Thames and the Po rivers respectively. Each city has different ways of preparing for flood and drought. San Francisco is at the tip of a peninsula on the Pacific and a lot of it is built on landfill. Shanghai is a low lying city in the Yangtze River Delta bordering the East China Sea. Taipei is on the northern tip of an island and is bordered by the Keelung and Xindian rivers.

All of these cities could survive 2C or 4C of temperature rises and its attendant climatic consequences, increased precipitation and sea level rise. But it would not be automatic or easy. It would be expensive and time consuming. People would be relocated. Transportation would be disrupted. Buildings would have to be renovated and reinforced. Sewers would have to be rebuilt and defenses against rivers and seas built higher and tougher. But they are modern, wealthy cities and they would find a way to thrive.

I have visited other cities built low to the ground and near the seas–Manila, Singapore, etc. I think they would have a much tougher time of it, mostly because of the expense involved. They have just as many active and intelligent people as the cities where I have lived. But it takes money to build seawalls, relocate sewers, elevate buildings, etc. It also takes time.

The megacities of the developing world are growing so quickly that they struggle to meet the needs of their people with today’s climate. They are projected to keep growing as quickly as they have in the past two decades. Most of these megacities are in harms way from existing climate and that harm will increase if temperatures, precipitation and sea levels rise.

I’m not worried about Miami–it would probably get richer as the new Venice than it is today. I am worried about Mumbai, good portions of which are already below sea level.

mumbai_rains_floods_20060717

I will be writing more about adaptation this week, perhaps not as much as I did about mitigation.

I hope you all are as generous about sharing your thoughts as you were last week.

Meditation on Mitigation

Happy Sunday, everybody. Let’s take a minute for some morning meditation about mitigation.

meditation

My knees don’t bend like that any more. Actually, they never did.

If you start with the assumption (and skeptics will call it a heroic assumption) that it is worth time and money to reduce human contributions to climate change, this week’s posts here , here, here, here, here and elsewhere on mitigation should show that it is possible with current technology to provide significant levels of mitigation at a cost of far less than 1% of global GDP per year.

By ‘significant’ I mean rapid progress towards meeting the Kyoto goal of 20% less than 1990 emissions by 2020. We will not achieve that goal, but we can get within signaling distance.

President Obama’s plan for the U.S. is well-designed to go after the low-hanging fruit–moving towards the elimination of coal as a fuel for power plants, rapid escalation of CAFE standards, maintenance of subsidies for renewables. If he can break the logjam preventing construction of nuclear power plants before he leaves office he will have done enough for his two terms. Assuming of course that the U.S. doesn’t stop there.

Improvements in energy efficiency, the Rodney Dangerfield of efforts to address climate change, can do a lot–easily able to reduce emissions by 5,300 mmts of CO2 out of the approximately 40,000 mmts we emitted in 2014. If we could magically replace coal with nuclear worldwide, that would eliminate another 10,000 mmts and we would be within striking distance of the Kyoto deal.

We cannot wave a magic wand and remove coal from the developing world’s plans. What we can do is provide technology assistance to make their use of coal as low impact as possible and work with them on speeding adoption of more efficient energy sources.

I also favor adoption of a carbon tax in those parts of the world that don’t have one yet. I recommend that it be revenue neutral and re-evaluated every decade against pre-agreed metrics and that it start at a low level ($12/ton in the U.S.)

The rest of the program should consist of Fast Mitigation efforts–planting trees, (lots of trees), attacking black soot, improving the technology of cement production and heightening the albedo of some parts of the earth’s surface.

There are longer term efforts we can’t ignore, such as continued investment in energy research, storage and distribution, and smaller scale efforts that can contribute at a 2% each level, such as dismantling no-fly zones left over from the Cold War, encouragement of telecommuting, uprating of turbines in hydroelectric facilities and increased adoption of CHP and ground source heat pumps in northern residences. We should also continue to encourage take-up of solar power and this encouragement should include subsidies.

Taken together, these measures would reduce human forcings dramatically and lower CO2 emissions to roughly 18,000 mmts by 2050.

I have written this series as a result of the invention of the derogatory term ‘mitigation skeptic’ used by the minions of the Konsensus against Lukewarmers. I have made this mitigation case in the past but it was scattered in comments across the blogosphere. Pulling the threads together I have noticed that neither the consensus nor their exploiters in the Konsensus have actually put together a coherent mitigation plan.

They’re welcome to any part of this that fits their fancy.

More Mitigation Metrics For Climate Change

The other day it seemed as though the metrics I showed were painting us into a corner. It appeared that the only way we could reduce CO2 emissions was by constructing a vast armada of 600 nuclear power plants, something that would cost at least $12 trillion dollars.

Then we looked at a list of 2% solutions that might add up to the emission totals we need to exorcise from our diet–portion control and exercise…

Today we’ll approach the issue from a third perspective, by looking at how we use the fuel we consume. This time we’re going to use 2011 figures from the DOE EIA, as that’s the latest year they have figures for.

This is essentially a ‘no regrets’ approach at improving the efficiency of the machines we use and which consume large quantities of energy. It is sneered at by some, most of whom have already shown that they are math deficient. Watch it work.

In 2011 the EIA estimated world energy consumption at 524 quads (in our previous posts the 2012 figure was 542.) For convenience we’ll use the same figure of 73.8 million metric tons of CO2 for each fossil fuel quad. Remember that in 2011 we generated about 56 quads without emitting CO2–thanks to hydroelectric power, nuclear and wind/solar. So the 468 quads from fossil fuels produced a total of 34,538 mmts of CO2.  The total we would like to reach is 90% of 1990 emissions, 16,700 mmts. In a world where energy consumption grows every year, that’s an ambitious target–but that’s the target.

I’m sure readers understand that coal emits more than natural gas, but I hope for this exercise that isn’t too important.

Here’s the EIA table:

End-use sectors Energy end use2  Electricity losses3  Total energy use4  % of total
Commercial
29
34
62
12%
Industrial 200
66
266
51%
Residential
52
40
92
18%
Transportation
101
2
103
20%
Total end-use sectors
382
524
Electric power sector4
204
39%

Obviously, when 27% of your entire energy consumption is wasted while generating electricity, you have an existing problem and a clear target for a solution. If we could eliminate this waste it would save 10,479 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. It’s quite a bit more now, as the developing world has been increasing its use of coal.

Of course that just leads us back to the conclusion of my previous post, that eliminating coal-fired power plants is where we should look first. But the EIA’s table also shows other areas where we can improve.

It is a commonplace that about a third of the energy used in homes and offices is wasted–that we could use existing technology to eliminate most of that waste and that it would actually pay for the cost of improvements in a short period. That number is rarely disputed. What’s much discussed is why it doesn’t happen. Again, I’ll glide over that topic as something that we could solve if we decided it absolutely needed to be solved.

If we reduced energy consumption by a third in both the residential and commercial sectors it would reduce global emissions by 1,972.6 mmts of CO2. Not as much as we might have hoped for, but still significant.

Can industry help? Well, in 2004 a study conducted for the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy indicated that yes, industry can contribute to lower emissions.

Loss Factors for Selected Equipment Energy System Percent Energy Lost Steam systems

  • Boilers – 20%
  • Steam pipes and traps – 20%
  • Steam delivery/heat exchangers – 15%
  • Power generation Combined heat and power – 24% (4500 Btu/kWh) Conventional power – 45% (6200 Btu/kWh)
  • Energy distribution Fuel and electricity distribution lines and pipes (not steam) – 3%
  • Energy conversion Process heaters – 15%
  • Cooling systems – 10%
  • Onsite transport systems – 50%
  • Electrolytic cells – 15%
  • Other – 10% Motor systems
  • Pumps – 40%
  • Fans – 40%
  • Compressed air – 80%
  • Refrigeration – 5%
  • Materials handling – 5%
  • Materials processing – 90%
  • Motor windings – 5%

The study charted how losses could be reduced cost effectively, with a payback on money spent on increasing efficiency of between 3 and 8 years.

If extrapolated across the world (which means assuming the rest of the world is currently as efficient/inefficient as the U.S.) in only six industry sectors (that account for 80% of industrial energy consumption) the global energy savings would be 25 quads, further reducing emissions by 1,845 mmts of CO2.

Which brings us to the transportation sector, which in 2011 consumed 101 quads and was responsible for 7,453.8 mmts of CO2 emissions.

Jet aircraft are now being built that use 20% less fuel than their predecessors. Well, the same is true for cars and ships. Just by telling companies and people to use best of breed vehicles would have dropped consumption by 20 quads, reducing emissions by a further 1,476 million metric tons.

This low pain scenario, mostly consisting of doing things we should do regardless of global warming, would have reduced 2011 emissions by a total of 15,772 mmts of CO2. Subtract that from 2011’s total of 34,538 mmts and this ‘no regrets’ policy would have left emissions at 18,766.4 mmts, only 2,000 mmts above our Kyoto goals.

There are a number of problems with this simplified scenario. Savings are never 100%, implementation is never immediate and solutions bring problems of their own, trailing behind.

But I think this shows that we could make major savings in emissions without ruining the economy, letting the lights go out or destroying the industrial base of the world.

The coal companies won’t like it. And I feel some sympathy for them and a lot more sympathy for their employees. Coal powered us for many years and created much of the good we see in modern economies today.

But you could say the same of wood and even whale oil. Coal has had its day. Let’s retrain the workers, offer compensation for stranded investment to the shareholders in coal companies and move on.

Answers to Climate Questions That Never Get Answered–Fifty 2% Solutions

My thanks to everyone who responded to my call for suggestions on how coping with different levels of anticipated warming could be addressed. Your answers matched some of my own opinions and, well, preconceptions about the issues.

The skeptics among you advocate no special actions, a reasonable position given your beliefs and attitudes about climate change. If you are correct, then we would save money and other resources that would be used to address climate change.

As I disagree with you about the subject, I’ll press on if you don’t mind.

Some of you who I think of as lukewarmers made concrete suggestions, including staged conversion of coal-fired energy plants to first natural gas, then nuclear. You also advocate smaller scale solutions such as increased (and mandated) telecommuting, dramatically higher CAFE standards, etc.

Almost Iowa, a frequent commenter here, did the most detailed assessment which I reproduce here:

[2C]
1) The president goes on television and announced a goal of having 10% of the workforce telecommute. The ripple affect would be tremendous, anyone who lives in a metro area knows the difference between summer (vacation time) driving and the traffic when school is in session.
2) Conversion of all coal-fired power plants to natural gas. accelerated roll-out of nuclear.
3) CAFE standard of 70 MPG (Yes, it is doable).
4) Energy standards for all devices powered by electricity.
5) Beefed up funding for alternative energy R & D.

[3C]
1) Workforce telecommuting goal of 30%
2) Conversion of all coal-fired power plants to natural gas. accelerated roll-out of nuclear.
3) CAFE standard of 70 MPG (Yes, it is doable).
4) Modification of protection for specified patents, like hybrid technology, to allow licensing but not competitive advantage.
5) Energy standards for all devices powered by electricity.
6) Beefed up funding for alternative energy R & D.

[4C]
1) Restriction on all unnecessary travel. Workforce telecommuting goal of everyone who can. Banning of all unnecessary air travel.
2) Conversion of coal-fired power plants to natural gas, accelerated roll-out of nuclear.
3) CAFE standard of 70 MPG (Yes, it is doable). Removal of all vehicles that do not comply with CAFE standards within 5 years.
4) Modification of protection for specified patents, like hybrid technology, to allow licensing but not competitive advantage.
5) Incorporation of solar technology into building materials.
6) Energy standards for all devices powered by electricity. Restrictions on air conditioning.
7) Manhattan project-type funding for alternative energy R & D.

Almost Iowa’s prescriptions are for U.S. responses, although they could be extended throughout the developed world. As I wrote in response, I agree with most of what he wrote, although I would add to his list. What I especially like in Almost Iowa’s proposals is that with some of them he involves the entire population, which offers scope for wider engagement with environmental policies overall, and may extend beyond climate change, which I think is extremely important. Our major impacts on the planet at present–habitat loss, introduction of alien species, conventional pollution and over hunting/fishing, still dwarf the current impacts of climate change and we need the populace to enter into efforts to reduce each of them.

Although I hope to address what the developing world can contribute to mitigation efforts in another post, it seems clear to me that for an exercise like this we in fact should focus on the developed countries. We are the ones most exercised about this, we have the wealth to adopt mitigation strategies, with most of that wealth being in part due to our current and past consumption of fossil fuels.

It seems apparent that for lower levels of anticipated warming that the actions that are most appropriate do not consist of blanket, high impact changes. For example, Almost Iowa’s prescription to move from coal to natural gas and nuclear is already being undertaken piecemeal, which serves to lessen the impact.

His other suggestions for mitigating 2C or 3C warming are what I have in the past labeled “2% Solutions.” Even his most ambitious, the doubling of CAFE standards for automotive efficiency, if adopted throughout the developed world would only reduce emissions by about 2%. I haven’t run the numbers on telecommuting, but it would at best approach 2%.

smallcale_solutions

I think this is perfectly okay–if we can find 50 of them. Almost Iowa has started the list. I would add some more:

  • Uprating of turbines in hydroelectric facilities to increase generation from existing plants
  • Introduction of best of breed technology and best practices to air traffic control systems, allowing large savings of jet fuel
  • Institute a Cash for Clunkers program for commercial aircraft, retiring planes that are not fuel efficient
  • Homogenize permitting and regulation for installation of solar and wind power to make it easier to gain approval. Maintain current levels of subsidies and RPS.
  • Increase utilization of Combined Heat and Power facilities in the U.S. from its current 7% of primary energy production to the world average of 9% and then by steps in northern regions to benchmark levels found in Denmark, Holland and other northern European countries.

I hope readers will volunteer other suggestions. If we get to 50 we have a program.

With regards to mitigating temperature rises of 4C, Almost Iowa offers a more draconian set of suggestions. I hope to deal with them in another post.

Climate Change Mitigation Metrics

In 2012 human emissions of CO2 were 32,310 million metric tons.

In the same year we consumed 540 quadrillion BTUs (quads) of energy. However, about 61 quads of this was generated by renewable resources or nuclear power, so let’s say that burning 479 quads of energy created those 32,310 mmts of CO2.

At current levels of efficiency, that works out to about 73.8 million metric tons of CO2 for each quad.

Let’s imagine that we wanted to reduce emissions by 25% below our 1990 emissions, in line with the Kyoto Protocol. The world’s 1990 emissions were 22,261 mmts, less 25% gets us 16,700. Roughly 50% of what we emitted in 2012. How would we go about this?

hard choices

Let’s see what we have to work with. According to the DOE EIA, this is the fuel portfolio the world used in 2012:

Liquids: 179.9 quads
Coal: 154 quads
Natural gas: 120.4 quads
Nuclear: 25.5 quads
Other: 60.6 quads

The ‘other’ category includes renewables–but also firewood and dung.

If we look at our goal using the portfolio approach we would say let’s convert coal to natural gas and nuclear. In addition, we would say let’s use clean energy to power trains and push to get everybody out of cars and planes and into trains (and metros).

If we were wildly successful–let’s say cutting liquids from 179.9 quads down to 90 and eliminating coal altogether (with half being replaced by natural gas and half by nuclear), we would save 14,000 mmts of CO2 from being emitted (the energy switch from coal to natural gas still produces emissions). And we would be almost there.

The sobering news is that to get an additional 75 quads from nuclear power we would have to construct about 600 new nuclear power plants… which we could do, of course.

But that immediately should start us thinking that a top down allocation of fuel portfolio choices may not be the best approach.

So we’ll look at alternatives in an upcoming post.

Climate Questions That Never Get Answered

Let’s take a mini-test. I will discuss the results in another post. All are invited, all are welcome. Good faith is urged.

child taking test

Let’s say we knew without a doubt that anthropogenic influences meant that temperatures were going to rise 2C over the course of this century. Please take a minute to marshal your list of what we would do to either prevent it or adapt to it before, during and after. Order your list–what’s the first thing you would have us do? What’s next?

Now let’s imagine that we learned that our treatment of the planet meant that temperatures were going to rise by 3C over the same period.

What would we do differently? I have asked this question repeatedly without anyone ever giving an answer.

And for 4C–same question.

It is my working hypothesis that if we ordered a list of adaptation and mitigation processes, the first 10 things we would do would be absolutely the same for each level of rise.

If true, that would mean that a lot of the squabbling going on between various factions is not strictly necessary. We could actually just start doing the first 10 things on the list and by the time we had finished we might even know whether or not number 11 was appropriate.

For bonus points on this exercise, please indicate which items on your list are things we should do whether or not there is any global warming for the rest of this century.

One Technological Innovation With The Potential To Reduce Energy Consumption

Yesterday I talked about the potential for robotics, drones and driverless cars to increase energy consumption in ways that are not currently accounted for in calculations of energy usage. More of each of them will result in more energy consumption, as not all of them will be replacing humans or less efficient machines. They will be used to do brand new things and consuming energy to do so.

But one new technology may be instrumental in reducing energy consumption. I refer to additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.

By reducing the need for mass production runs, the idea of ‘build to order’ for replacement parts and even new products will reduce energy in manufacturing, storage and recycling or disposal.

When Steve Mosher and I self-published Climategate: The CRUTape Letters, there was no advance publishing run. If you ordered the book, Amazon printed it, packed it and mailed it to you. That was just 2D printing.

Now the same principle can apply to almost anything–parts for your car, vacuum tubes for your 1940 radio, your new gadget for monitoring your heart rate while you sleep, etc.

Nonrefrigerated warehouses in the U.S. use an average of 6.1 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 13,400 Btu of natural gas per square foot annually. There are a lot of square feet of warehouse space–just ask Amazon.

General Electric is trying to get its large customers to install 3D printers to print large airplane parts like turbines, which will save GE transportation and storage costs.

advanced_materials_carousel_1_650

I don’t know if 3D printing will save more energy than robots will consume while flying, driving or working–but it’s something…

Technological Innovation and Climate Change

Most discussion of technology with regards to climate change focuses either on energy efficiency or green energy generation. Given that the next 10-15 years is going to be a time of dramatic technological change, perhaps we should expand our focus a bit.

Improvements in software have now laid the groundwork for expanded use of machinery, principally robots, drones and driverless cars. It seems clear that there will be very large numbers of them deployed throughout the world in the coming decades. Deployment is already being led by military applications. Typically that transitions into police and other first responder organizations and then into commercial application and finally home use.

audi-calamaro-concept-car-1

Many of these new machines will replace humans, which is already worrying many. I personally will welcome the arrival of our new Robotic Blogging Overlords… But many of these machines will be doing things that humans cannot or will not do.

This means that these technologies will spur energy consumption. If these technologies innovate and spread as quickly as other recent technological advances there may be tens of millions of each of them by 2050. That’s actually a sizable amount of energy. when Google driverless gyrobikes are bringing your groceries to your door while sushi comes to your window via a drone, it will all take power. When community service has to be redefined because robots are picking up the trash along the county highway, the robots will be using power.

This is likely to provide added impetus to research in improved batteries, which is all to the good. However it should sharpen our gaze on the fuel portfolio for generating electricity. We’re going to need more energy than people think.

As these are only three of the next generation of coming ‘gadgets’ I think it is safe to assume that we will need a lot more energy than people think. The last generation of innovation has been purposefully invisible–your computers, televisions and mobile phones are better by far, but they’re pretty much still the same shape and size, coming in the same boxes.

The next generation of technological change will be very different.

Lukewarmers under the microscope

Over at the blog Making Science Public, Brigitte Nerlich is trying to figure out who Lukewarmers are, what we actually think and how we’re different from skeptics and warmists. After a lot of discussion it turns out that we agree with the science, that there is an A in AGW, but that we also think sensitivity is lower than warmists. Not much of a revelation there.

One of the commenters on the thread is one of my favorite humans, Lucia Liljegren of The Blackboard. She pursues the topic in greater depth here, referring to Tamsin Edward’s post in The Guardian and is kind enough to mention me.

With all of that as background I would like to offer some thoughts on why there is a sudden flare-up of interest in Lukewarmers.

lukewarm10

From the point of view of the consensus, it seems clear that a combination of the pause that may no longer be mentioned and observational studies showing the likelihood of a lower value for atmospheric sensitivity are pushing them to consider that Lukewarmers may well be correct.

As for the parallel universe inhabited by the Konsensus, those who exaggerate what the consensus says for political gain, these efforts by the better-educated and better-mannered consensus holders are galling. They are making a concerted effort to counter the more reasonable explorations of the Lukewarm ideas with their own propaganda.

Dana Nuccitelli at the Guardian is leading the charge to imprint the label of denier on Lukewarmers, making up stuff like “This group believes that the climate is relatively insensitive to the increasing greenhouse effect, and hence that climate change will proceed slowly enough as to not be a serious concern in the near future.” Not that he allows his article to be sullied by any conversation with Lukewarmers–not even a quote from things we’ve written in the past. Nuccitelli ends up calling us Stage 3 Denialists–I don’t know if that’s better than Stage 2 or Stage 4…

When Nuccitelli writes “For the Luckwarmer case to be true, first the climate sensitivity must be close to the lowest end of possible values” he writes something that is untrue. The IPCC provides a range of possible values for sensitivity. Lukewarmers almost by definition believe that sensitivity is within the range provided by the IPCC. We just think it’s at the lower end. My personal SWAG is about 2.1C.

Not to be outdone, Evil Eli Rabett has taken on the responsibility of popularizing the label ‘luckwarmer’ and taping it to our foreheads. He says we’re all from the far right and as delusional as he believe skeptics to be. Does that mean I can get a refund for 30 years of campaign contributions to Democratic candidates?

(Why do I call Eli Evil? Because he’s a trasher. Because Tamsin Edwards did not condemn us in her article, Eli wrote “Tamsin Edwards is Roger Pielke Jr. in training with a couple of good papers to her name. She is a careerist just like Roger, just a bit younger.” Anyone who reads Tamsin’s article will see immediately that this is not true. But Eli does this to everyone who doesn’t fall into lockstep with his rigid worldview.)

We could go case by case refuting the untruths written about Lukewarmers–and it might end up with a pretty good definition. As we don’t have a manifesto or anything like that, the definition of Lukewarmer has been pretty ad hoc.

But the fact that people are starting to write about us means that if we don’t come up with a definition someone else will do it for us. And the odds are pretty good that the someone will be as unprincipled and as careless about the truth as Dana Nuccitelli or Eli Rabett.

So let’s look at what Lucia Liljegren, one of the Lukewarm pioneers, has to say.

Lukewarmers are different from skeptics:

“Lukewarmer disagree with those who:
1) Believe CO2 has no net warming effect.
2) Believe the warming effect is so small that any observed rise in measured global temperature is 100% due to natural causes.
3) Believe the measured global temperature rise purely or mostly a result of “fiddling”.
4) Believe the world is more likely to cool over the next 100 years than warm.”

As for what we actually do believe, Lucia writes

“To expand, the list of things lukewarmers believe include:

* lukewarmers believe ECS is on the lower end of the IPCC AR4 range (note the AR5 range did move down). However, they believe it is inside that range. That is, they don’t think it has the optical properties of something like Nitrogen.

* lukewarmers recognize the magnitude of the temperature change matters as does the rate of change. So the magnitude of ECS matters. (If lower, the consequence of a set emissions level is lower than if it is higher.)

* lukewarmers think it’s important for the estimates of ECS used in economic models that are used to guide policy to not be biased by things like using inapproriate priors in statistical results or models that appear to be over-predicting the level of warming. In contrast, your comment specifically omitted this in your list of what is important.

* lukewarmers disagree with the rhetoric that suggests that we must all focus on the high end of ECS especially when the rhetoric seems to suggest this focus means we are to pay less attention to other features like the central estimates ( mean, median). In other words: they think we should use the full range out comes just as we normally do for things like life insurance car insurance and so on. We don’t base decisions only on the worst possible outcome. (This rhetoric that the high end is central exists exists– as ATTP’s site and in his comments indicate. Some may tap-dance carefully when implying this but its evident in the tone and sometimes directly stated.)”

That’s good enough for a starting point. But I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.

Global Warming and 30C Temperatures

Today in Taipei it reached 30C by 9:00 a.m. That’s 86F for you incorrigibles out there. It changes how you think of your day. You break the day into activity in the morning, reading (or napping) in the afternoon and more activity in the evening.

When the Wall Street Journal asked the great and the good to name the most influential invention of the last millenium, those in more temperate climes were free to choose things like the internet, birth control, the printing press and other fripperies. Lee Yuan Kew got straight to the point, naming air conditioning. The authoritarian leader of Singapore understood that without air conditioning, those in tropical countries could not be as productive as those with more forgiving climes.

Air-Conditioner-Penetration

This is relevant to discussions about climate change. The United States currently uses more energy for air conditioning than all other countries combined. The U.S.consumes 185 billion kilowatt hours on air conditioning each year.

By 2050, half the world’s population will live in the tropics.

Currently the climate is one factor in keeping them poor.

gdp-per-capita-vs-latitude2

However, they are getting richer. In 2010 China installed 50 million air conditioning units. This will help them improve productivity and get richer still.

Currently, the Konsensus has introduced a new line of argument into the climate debate. They have de-emphasized the focus on sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of CO2 concentrations, probably because all the new studies show that sensitivity is far lower than the Konsensus has claimed. Now they are just saying we must leave fossil fuels in the ground. It’s about as content heavy as Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No.’

If we leave fossil fuels in the ground we are leaving the tropics and half the world’s people trapped in a cycle of poverty.

I’m not saying ‘drill, baby, drill.’ If we can provide them with nuclear power, hydropower, wind and solar instead I am all in favor of it. But for those who think it is a viable alternative just to not provide the developing world with power you have nothing but my contempt.

It’s hot outside even without climate change.

From Climate Hero to Denier–McKibben Goes After The President

Not since Theodore Roosevelt has a president shown as much concern for the environment as Barack Obama. Much of that concern has been evidenced in his efforts to combat climate change. From spending early political capital in a vain effort to pass Cap and Trade legislation to giving the Environmental Protection Agency free rein to go after large emitters, Barack Obama has been upfront in championing the fight against climate change. Indeed, in my opinion he has sometimes gone overboard, casual in his use of the term ‘denier’, more confident in assessing the state of the science than scientists, etc.

But now he’s a climate denier, according to Bill McKibben. “This is climate denial of the status quo sort, where people accept the science, and indeed make long speeches about the immorality of passing on a ruined world to our children. They just deny the meaning of the science, which is that we must keep carbon in the ground.”

Never mind that McKibben is one of the looniest of climate alarmers.

What’s important here is what now qualifies someone as a ‘denier,’ suitable for photographing next to skin-head thugs denying the Holocaust.

It is no longer skepticism. It is no longer lukewarmism. You are now a ‘denier’ even if you accept all the science and the urgency of swift action.

You’re a ‘denier’ if you don’t accept the solution of the Alarmist Konsensus. Unless you sign on to their policy prescription–in this case that fossil fuels need to be left in the ground–you are a ‘denier.’

This is insane. So is McKibben. So are all those that insist that leaving fossil fuels in the ground is the only scientific stance to take on climate change.

We live in a world where we don’t know what atmospheric sensitivity is to a doubling of concentrations of CO2. We live in a world where almost every month a new study comes out strengthening the idea that sensitivity is lower than assumed. We live in a world where temperature rises have plateaued at their current high level for almost two decades. We live in a world where the developing countries have stated as plain fact that they intend to increase their use of the fossil fuels McKibben insists we leave in the ground.

So an American president who has spent much of his presidency and no small amount of the meager political capital he had to work with in combatting climate change is now a ‘denier?’

I suggest that McKibben and perhaps the Alarmist Konsensus alongside him have jumped the shark. Or tried to…

jump the shark

Feeding the world in a warming world

Chris Mooney, a man long recognized as one of the most alarmed of climate activists, writes in the Washington Post that “With a world population of 9 billion in 2050, wheat demand is expected to increase by 60%. To meet the demand, annual wheat yield increases must grow from the current level of below 1% to at least 1.6%.” That’s why the punchline of a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is pretty troubling. A warming climate, it suggests, could drive wheat yields in the opposite direction – down — in the United States and, possibly, elsewhere.”

Wheat_harvest

The thrust of the article is that global warming will either reduce crop yields if there are more days with high temperatures above 34C, leave them the same or improve crop yields if there are fewer freezing days in the fall.

So of course the piece is headlined “Troubling new research says global warming will cut wheat yields”.

President Obama joined his voice to the scientific community’s in declaring (quite correctly) that 14 of the 15 highest recorded temperature years have occurred this century. Some have declared an increase in the number of heatwaves, droughts and dry spells falling short of drought.

So let’s see how that has impacted global wheat yields. We turn to the FAO, the UN Organization for Food and Agriculture, which for some reason wasn’t consulted for Mooney’s article. They show that wheat yields have increased from 585,690,886 tonnes in 2000 to 713,182,914 tonnes in 2013. The table doesn’t extend beyond 2013, but 2014 set records…

Mooney quoted the Wheat Institute as saying “To meet the demand, annual wheat yield increases must grow from the current level of below 1% to at least 1.6%.” But the FAO says historical growth for the past 15 years has been 1.34%. Someone will have to explain that to me.

At any rate, having the 14 hottest years since modern records began, having the supposed increase in droughts and heatwaves–has resulted in bumper harvests and record yields. Someone will have to explain that to me as well.

Given the rate of technology transfer and the ability of farmers in the developing world to improve yields by adopting modern agricultural methods, given the promise of genetically modified strains and the boost afforded by additional CO2, I really have to wonder if worrying about wheat is the most profitable use of our time.

How Would You Make Climate Policy Using These Facts?

Someone once said that everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but everybody has to rely on the same facts. All but one of the statements below are made by, or in stories about statements by scientists. Spot the one that wasn’t and win a cookie! Now, no Googling blocks of text or I’ll be very annoyed.

What do you do when people state things as fact that are wildly different? If you’re a city planner evaluating developments on a coastline, who do you listen to? If you’re a voter trying to make sure your choice means something, who do you believe?

contradiction-e1330258275985

I’m going to do this with no links, as I want you to decide what to do based on statements, not your opinion of where it appeared.

1. “The five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

2. “No, climate change is not experiencing a hiatus. No, there is not currently a “pause” in global warming.”

3. “A new study has found sea level rise accelerated faster in the past two decades than it did for the majority of the 20th century.”

4. “A new paper shows that sea levels rose faster in the ten years from 1993-2003 than they have since. Sea levels are still rising but the rate has slowed since 2004.”

5. “The number of victims caused by climate change is very big–bigger than the victims of wars.”

6. “I’ll put this in a crude way: no amount of climate change is going to cause civil violence in the state where I live (Massachusetts), or in Sweden or many other places around the world.”. “If we want to reduce the level of violence in other places, then it would be more efficient to focus on these factors: to bring people out of abject poverty, to provide them with the technology that loosens the connection between climate and survival, to reduce corruption, and so forth, rather than on preventing climate change.”

7. “In the context of global warming, extreme atmospheric flows are causing extreme climate incidents to appear more frequently.”

8. “There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e., intensity, frequency, duration), after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.”

mmm, okay, some of them were IPCC, Michael Mann, Osama bin Laden, James Hansen, but not in that order…

Climate Seepage–Another Gem From Lewandowsky and Oreskes

As far as I can tell, Stefan Lewandowski is the author of one true statement in his less than illustrious career as propagandist for the false Konsensus. It is this: “The media failed to accurately report facts prior to the Iraq War; climate reporting is failing in similar fashion. The lethal fallout from misinformation a decade ago,” wrote Lewandowsky, “primarily affected the people of Iraq.” But “the fallout from misinformation about climate change is likely to affect us all.” I think that is something both extremes of the climate spectrum would agree on, although I doubt if they’d come up with the same examples.

In his latest charade, the charlatan worked with (of all people) Naomi Oreskes to alert us all that extremist language is ‘seeping’ into the debate. Funnily enough he didn’t talk about the term ‘denier’ in his work. That term managed to ‘seep’ into the diatribes of the Konsensus after James DeHoggan let slip the words of war in 2005. But because it was directed at their opponents, Lewnadowsky and Oreskes seem to think it isn’t worth mentioning.

No, their targets are words like ‘hiatus’, one of several terms used to describe the plateau (oooh–is that next?) in global average temperatures reached in 1998. Since then, temperature rises have been slight–on the order of 0.05C in total, far below the rapid rate experienced between 1976 and 1998.

Google nGram shows the occurrence of words found in Google books. I’m sure Lewandowsky and Oreskes will be pleased to discover that, unlike the temperatures that have plateaued, the usage of the word ‘hiatus’ has actually declined since 1998.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/interactive_chart?content=hiatus&year_start=1998&year_end=2014&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chiatus%3B%2Cc0

According to Tech Times, “The imbalance in discussing warming trends reflects what the researchers refer to as “seepage” of contrarian claims into scientific work. Lewandowsky said it’s reasonable to say that deniers create enough pressure to get climate scientists to re-assess their studies, as if second-guessing their works.

To explain how deniers are able to influence climate scientists, researchers pointed to three psychological mechanisms: stereotype threat, pluralistic ignorance and the third-person effect.

Stereotype threat refers to behavioral and emotional responses when an individual is reminded of a stereotype against the group they belong to. So when climate scientists are dubbed as alarmists, they respond by downplaying threats to distance themselves from the stereotype.

Though its effects are in evidence, climate change remains a debatable topic. Now, researchers have found that deniers can have an impact on climate scientists — influencing the way they present their work.

In a recent study, Stephan Lewandowsky and colleagues showed how language used by deniers has seeped into discussions among scientists regarding the alleged pause in global warming — which has them unwittingly reinforce a misleading message.

The idea of a hiatus in global warming has been promoted in many avenues available to deniers for years, even finding its way into scientific works. That includes the latest assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The researchers focused on this event to show how misleading the talk of a hiatus is.”

I guess they didn’t focus on James Hansen, former director of NASA’s GISS, who said in 2013 that “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.” Of course, ‘flat’ is not the same as ‘hiatus’…

Tech Times continues, “The imbalance in discussing warming trends reflects what the researchers refer to as “seepage” of contrarian claims into scientific work. Lewandowsky said it’s reasonable to say that deniers create enough pressure to get climate scientists to re-assess their studies, as if second-guessing their works.”

Because we know that people like James Hansen, who once said “chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to [should] be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature” is probably easily cowed by those dastardly deniers and started using the word ‘flat’ because he was scared…

Tech times continues, “To explain how deniers are able to influence climate scientists, researchers pointed to three psychological mechanisms: stereotype threat, pluralistic ignorance and the third-person effect.

Stereotype threat refers to behavioral and emotional responses when an individual is reminded of a stereotype against the group they belong to. So when climate scientists are dubbed as alarmists, they respond by downplaying threats to distance themselves from the stereotype.”

Like this statement: ““Our research shows that while there may be short-term fluctuations in global average temperatures, long-term warming of the planet is an inevitable consequence of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations,” says Matthew England, chief investigator at the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales. “This much-hyped global warming slowdown is just a distraction from the matter in hand.” He sure sounds like he’s downplaying global warming, doesn’t he?

“Pluralistic ignorance is the phenomenon that arises when minority opinion is given too much attention in public discourse, which makes it seem like it represents more people. This makes those in the actual majority assume their opinion represents the minority — inhibiting them from speaking out.”

Funnily enough, Oreskes and Lewandowsky are responsible for inflating the consensus, from a very real and respectable 66% to an imaginary if not hallucinatory 97%. So if the word ‘hiatus’ can awaken scientists from the fever dream spun out of nonsense by Oreskes and Lewandowsky, it is a powerful word indeed–and perhaps one we should use more.

As for the third-person effect, it highlights how persuasive communication can win over the truth. This hints that the scientific community is at risk of being susceptible to arguments made by deniers — even though climate scientists know them to be false.”

I typed ‘hiatus global warming’ into Google News and got a paltry 3,800 results. By comparison, the Greek word ‘sinensis’ returned 10,400′ results. Only one of the top 50 results fr ‘hiatus’ was on a skeptic communication, a piece by Forbes.

The idea that skeptics of the Konsensus are all that persuasive beggars the imagination. I find it difficult to imagine too many scientists spending much time on skeptic or even lukewarmer blogs being exposed to our smooth talking and persuasive good looks. Tamsin Edwards followed up her excellent article in the Guardian about Lukewarmers by paying blog visits, not to Judith Curry, Steve McIntyre or even here, but to And Then There’s Physics, where she kowtowed to the majority opinion and emphasized that she did not agree with lukewarmers.

What is seeping into the climate conversation is increasingly absurd tap-dancing from people like Lewandowsky and Oreskes, John Cook, Jim Prall and others and the effect of their efforts is to devalue science.

In short, Lewandowsky and Oreskes are just up to their old tricks. They are making up reasons why their chosen tactics for conducting climate discussions–refusing to debate, calling their opponents deniers, inventing a 97% consensus that falls apart at the slightest examination–are failing in the court of public opinion.

Couldn’t happen to a more deserving group. Perhaps some more rebranding is in order.

Shyster

Economics of Wind Power

I know a lot more about solar than I do about wind, having worked in the solar industry. However, I reported on wind energy for BCC Research in several published (and still available) reports, so here goes.

To my mind, solar has several big advantages compared to wind. First, sunshine is much more reliable than wind. Second, panels last twice as long as turbines, maybe more–a lot of panels are still producing well long past their sell-by date. Third, wind turbines require far more maintenance than solar. Other factors to consider are attractiveness (people have fewer objections to being next door to a solar array than a wind turbine), footprint, noise, bird kills, etc.

But wind power is still a potent entry into the field, manufactured by very large companies for sale to very large companies. (Which is something else that puts me off–with residential solar it’s a consumer product, requiring consumer satisfaction and with higher levels of competition working to lower prices). So why is wind such a popular choice by governments, utilities and manufacturers?

First off, wind power stays on the right side of the meter. It’s still owned by the utility and the power it produces is sold to consumers. True, there are large solar plants that fit the same description, but most solar is on your home’s rooftop.

Second, when the wind is blowing, turbines can push a lot of electrons our way. They have more oomph than solar when conditions are propitious, producing more energy for the buck. It is easier to build a wind farm than a large solar array, especially if you’re using CSP (concentrated solar power) for the solar.

Other problems with wind are those they share with solar power–intermittency makes wind impossible to rely on for baseload production of electricity. You have to have another generator primed and ready to take up the slack when the wind stops. That means leaving the spare generator operational, burning fuel and emitting CO2. (Same is true for solar.) As these are frequently cited in climate conversations, I won’t go into that further.

About 75% of lifetime costs of a wind turbine are upfront–construction, installation, siting and transportation. As is the case with solar, the fuel is free.

One way of analyzing the economics of all energy sources including wind is by calculating the ‘Levelized Cost Of Energy’, or LCOE.

The DOE EIA defines that as, “Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-kilowatthour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. Key inputs to calculating LCOE include capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant type.3 The importance of the factors varies among the technologies. For technologies such as solar and wind generation that have no fuel costs and relatively small variable O&M costs, LCOE changes in rough proportion to the estimated capital cost of generation capacity. For technologies with significant fuel cost, both fuel cost and overnight cost estimates significantly affect LCOE. The availability of various incentives, including state or federal tax credits, can also impact the calculation of LCOE. As with any projection, there is uncertainty about all of these factors and their values can vary regionally and across time as technologies evolve and fuel prices change.”

Bear in mind the last sentence there. People game LCOE calculations, which is why every time you see them they are different.

That said, here’s what Worldwatch Institute put forth as LCOE in 2013:

the-development-of-the-renewable-energy-market-in-latin-america-and-the-caribbean-7-638

Compared to other renewables, wind looks pretty good. The NREL makes the case that wind has never been cheaper:

wind-lcoe-at-all-time-low-500x415

However, I do trust the EIA numbers a lot more. Here’s what they say LCOE is before subsidy:

Table 1. Estimated Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) for New Generation Resources, 2019

Plant type Total system LCOE
Dispatchable Technologies
Conventional Coal 95.6
Integrated Coal-Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) 115.9
IGCC with CCS 147.4
Natural Gas-fired
Conventional Combined Cycle 66.3
Advanced Combined Cycle 64.4
Advanced CC with CCS 91.3
Conventional Combustion Turbine 128.4
Advanced Combustion Turbine 103.8
Advanced Nuclear 96.1
Geothermal 47.9
Biomass 102.6
Non-Dispatchable Technologies
Wind 80.3
Wind-Offshore 204.1
Solar PV2 130
Solar Thermal 243.1
Hydro3 84.5

So if we were doing this all based on LCOE we would start digging for geothermal everywhere.

On land, wind doesn’t look horribly awfully bad. Offshore it seems horrendously expensive.

The other thing to remember is variation in price by geography. In China and India, installed costs run $1,300 per kw. In the U.S. it’s $2,000. So maybe wind makes more sense in the developing world. But it’s still far more expensive than coal, which is why they’re using so much of it.

Willing the ends without describing the means

When we talk about what to do about climate change there is a curious disconnect between where we want to end up (with temperature rise hopefully below 2C) and how we mean to get there.

Perhaps the upcoming conference in Paris will fix all that–countries are supposed to show up with detailed plans in hand, although only a couple seem ready. The U.S. is one of them, with Barack Obama and the EPA relying heavily on higher CAFE standards and replacing coal fired electricity plants with natural gas.

However, I haven’t seen any concrete suggestions that are appropriate for the developing world.

Our default strategy appears to be denying them capital for construction of coal fired plants, as cynical and immoral a strategy as the colonialism of past centuries. If we make energy expensive enough the developing world will certainly use less.

Fortunately, China is making that strategy almost completely ineffective by establishing development banks that will supply the money that the West won’t.

That means that energy consumption in the developing world will most likely continue to increase at 4.19% per year, almost double what has been forecast by the DOE EIA and the IEA. This will lead to global energy consumption doubling from 2010 levels by about 2035.

So what’s Plan B?

Skeptics and lukewarmers are criticized for not contributing to the peer-reviewed literature, for not advancing plans for mitigation, for sitting on the sidelines and carping. And of course there’s an element of truth to that.

But truth be told, the mainstream community has not exactly deluged us with policy prescriptions. In fact, the standard line from both the consensus and the Konsensus is that we have to stop emissions. Okay, but how? On this they are uncharacteristically silent.

This is not because a lack of knowledge. They, like anyone who has taken time to inform themselves on the situation, can clearly see what is possible. But they lack the moral fiber to advance these prescriptions because some of them are unpalatable.

So let’s lay out the potential alternatives for them.

1. Nuclear power. For $23 trillion spent over the course of the next 40 years we could build enough nuclear power plants to generate all our electricity. In addition, we could transform the world’s transportation sector, powering trains while electrically replacing the internal combustion engines of cars and trucks with electric batteries and drive trains. This would drop our emissions to where the consensus says they need to be. It is a brute force solution, but it would work.

2. Natural gas. We could do essentially the same thing using natural gas. It would be considerably less expensive than nuclear, but the emissions savings would be far less and we could end up using all the easily available natural gas fairly quickly. But natural gas already runs a lot of cars and buses and it could run more. And it is a quick and easy way to replace coal in electricity plants. The painful part won’t be building the plants–it will be converting the infrastructure. LNG refining, transportation and storage, converting vehicles to run on LNG, all this could double the cost and insuring that all of this doesn’t leak won’t be cheap either. About $8 trillion over 25 years.

3. Renewables. Renewable energy is growing quickly, but from such a small base that it won’t make an impact on emissions for several decades. My projections are that by 2075 solar alone will be a primary source of power worldwide. However, take-up of renewable energy could be accelerated with increased government funding. Quite a lot of government funding, actually. But wind, ethanol and solar have well-publicized drawbacks that would also require governmental intervention to enable large-scale use. About $12 trillion if done organically through 2075, about double that (the same as nuclear!) if accelerated to a 25-year time frame.

So, my challenge for the consensus is to pick an alternative and push for it in the sphere of political advocacy. Heck, mix and match and say 30% of each if you want to. Come up with alternatives 4, 5 and 6 if you want.

Right now your entire platform is based on what you don’t want. CO2. Okay, we get it. How about a policy preference on how the world gets to Climate Jerusalem?

climate_lan129_2_5_RG

Climate Cage Match: Christiana Figueres vs. Maurice Newman

While in the U.S. people might not feel overly threatened by a disagreement with someone named Maurice (does he speak of the pompitous of love?), it may well be different in Australia, where Maurice Newman serves as advisor to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Mr. Newman is upset with Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. That’s because part of what she said in an interview with an Australian journalist was “Not overnight but over time there does need to be an economic diversification view that is not going to rely fully on coal but that is actually going to look at what are the other possibilities for an expanded export base over time for Australia.”

To which Maurice helpfully added, “Figueres is on record saying democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China, she says, is the best model,”

You know, Maurice, in climate change discussions we tend to look down on cherry picking numbers to make our position look better than it really is. The same is (or certainly should be) true of cherry picking quotes.

Let’s get the China thing out of the way so we can rationally discuss the rest of this.

First off, Figueres is right. China as a dictatorship can move more quickly on any policy initiative it deems of primary national interest. China has done so with plans to quickly and dramatically increase the number of dams, nuclear power plants and wind and solar power installations. How many nuclear power plants and dams are being built in Western countries these days?

Second, noting that China can move quickly is not an endorsement of communism or any dictatorship. People forget that when everyone was talking about Mussolini making the trains run on time it was not because they liked Fascism.

Throwing that quote into today’s argument is cheap populism.

Regarding the rest of what Figureres said, I wonder how Maurice could have avoided reading this?

“That’s for Australia to decide what that is going to look like for them.

It’s not for us to put out a number there and put out a level of which any country has to jump.

That is very very much of an internal conversation that is then submitted internationally and all of the other governments then take a look at each other and will be asking each other questions about the depth of the policies and measures behind any commitment as well as to the level of commitment, but that is for governments to do.

JAKE STURMER: Why should Australia take a strong position?

Our emissions only make up around 1.5 per cent of global emissions.

CHRISTIANA FIGUERES: It’s 1.3 per cent actually, not even 1.5 so it’s 1.3, but Australia is the 14th largest emitter in the world and among all industrialised countries, it is the highest per capita emitter, the highest per capita emitter.

So that does put a very interesting responsibility on the shoulders of each Australian citizen and that cannot be taken lightly as we look into the future.

Not overnight but over time there does need to be an economic diversification view that is not going to rely fully on coal but that is actually going to look at what are the other possibilities for an expanded export base over time for Australia.

JAKE STURMER: The Prime Minister said coal is good for humanity and that it’s the foundation of Australia’s prosperity and will be for the foreseeable future, so given that, should it be?

CHRISTIANA FIGUERES: It probably was or it definitely was together with the other minerals, our resource base that Australia has and has been blessed with, that’s not the only resource that is underground here in Australia and it definitely was the backbone of growth and of prosperity.

There’s no doubt about that.

And some of the rest of the resource base will continue to be part of that backbone but equally true is that Australia has two other resource bases that still have not been used to their fullest potential and that is sun and wind.

So it is the sunniest continent of the world, it is the windiest continent of the world, and also it doesn’t seem logical or prudent not to use resource base that is there frankly for only the cost of infrastructure but no fuel cost.

It makes a lot of sense to begin to integrate as much as possible those two other resource bases.”

Ms.Figueres in my mind is making perfect sense, speaking very diplomatically and does not deserve being treated in this fashion.

It brings to mind other Australian scenes of conflict.

mad-max-beyond-thunderdome

And we’ve clearly moved beyond a Mad Max view of the world, haven’t we? We can have a civilized discussion between a Central American diplomat and the aide to an Australian Prime Minister, can’t we?

Oh.

Fury road used

The Economics of Renewable Energy, Part 1, Solar Power

As usual during a climate discussion, we always start talking about the wrong part of the issue and get stuck there for years.

Solar power is getting cheaper!
Yeah, but it’s still more expensive than traditional power!
You can get power without going through the utility company–distributed generation is great!
Yeah, but you free ride for the connection you need when the sun isn’t shining and poor people are paying for the maintenance on your wires and poles!
We’re going to have to turn to solar eventually–why not start now?
Because we can’t store it–we’re burning fuel to back you up while you’re burning daylight.

Sound familiar? Getting a little boring?

If you want a fairly recent evaluation of the costs, payback times and energy savings for a solar home, click here.

On a more general level, let’s talk honestly about solar power. It is almost certainly the power source of the future. We will find adequate storage, modules and balance of systems components will continue getting cheaper and there are just too many rooftops begging for panels.

Solar power is probably not the fuel of the present. I predicted 2015 would be the year that solar reaches parity for residential systems. Hasn’t happened yet. Looks like mayyyyybeee 2017. But even when it hits parity that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to switch in a day. Or a decade. It will take 50 years from the point it’s cheaper to the point where it’s everywhere. That’s how long it took coal. That’s how long it took oil.

Here’s the best looking solar chart in the world:

Emanuel Sachs MIT

But here’s one that’s a little more recent:

Economist solar

Solar isn’t there. Solar is almost there.

What tickles me when discussing solar power is that nobody talks about the elephant in the room. Or to mix metaphors, they don’t talk about the parable of the bear. At this point, the cost of solar power could probably just stand still and it would still win out. Why?

Here’s what happened to utility rates between 1990 and 2011:

State % Increase in Avg. Rate
Arizona 22.6%
California 48.1%
Colorado 12.6%
Connecticut 80.9%
Hawaii 238.0%
Maryland 68.5%
Massachusetts 41.1%
New Jersey 50.1%
New York 52.5%
Oregon 101.7%
Pennsylvania 38.4%

While the cost of solar is going down, the cost of everything else is going up.

Astute observers will already have noticed that many of the states with the highest increase in electricity prices are heavy into solar power. Some will say that that’s one reason solar is popular. Others will say that accommodating solar is driving electricity prices higher.

Both statements are trivially true. Solar is popular primarily because upper middle class people want to go green. Utilities are using connection issues that cost them pennies to raise rates by dollars.

Solar will win in the end. The fuel is free and the capital costs get lower every year.

But it won’t win tomorrow. And it will face robust competition from natural gas, coal and the subject of the next post, wind power.

Denial 101–I made the list!

I’m getting hits on this weblog from https://courses.edx.org/accounts/login?next=/courses/UQx/Denial101x/1T2015/discussion/forum/a5118f6c96944bc39b139602c41306d3/threads/553f780445b3c3b1b9000080. That’s the website where John Cook and his merry band of witch hunters are busy inoculating innocent minds to prevent contamination from skeptics and lukewarmers.

For those of you arriving from that site, welcome! I wouldn’t want it to be said that we dastardly denialisters are inhospitable. I mean, wrecking the planet is one thing, but rudeness? Heaven forfend.

While you’re here, I hope you check out some of the things I’ve written about the fearless leaders of your course.

On John Cook, I have a couple of posts here and here.

On Stefan Lewandowsky, see here and especially here.

Long ago, before climate change brought sea level rise to our collective intention, the phrase ‘beachfront property in Florida’ was used to describe a scam, a con, unethical real estate agents selling plots to gullible retirees.

Walter-Coker
Perhaps we should revive the phrase to discuss the course you are taking. On the other hand, if you think you are getting good value for money from your MOOC, (and time is money, innit?), perhaps I could interest you in a bridge in Brooklyn, slightly used, only one owner.

George-C-Parker-Brooklyn-Bridge-Seller1

Why the Konsensus Doesn’t Talk About Legitimate Surveys of Climate Scientists

Almost since the beginning of the controversy over man-made climate change and its potential impacts on human society, policy advocates have jumped in front of the science repeatedly. This has contributed to a politicization of the issue and a polarization between skeptics and alarmists. Although both sides have contributed to this unfortunate turn of events, the harm done by alarmists is much greater.

There is a real consensus among climate scientists that global warming is real, in part caused by humans and likely to continue. That consensus has been measured by surveys of climate scientists. However, Alarmists don’t refer to these surveys much at all, first because the ‘consensus’ revealed by the surveys is not overwhelming enough and second, the surveys reveal problem areas within climate science that Alarmists don’t want to publicize.

Von Storch Bray 2008

In 2008, Hans von Storch and Dennis Bray surveyed 375 scientists from 34 countries who had authored papers in peer-reviewed climate journals. 65% had worked in climate science for more than 10 years and 66% had authored more than 6 papers. 78% of them were working in the physics of climate science, on model development, data acquisition, etc.

And 66% were either ‘very much convinced’ (35%) or ‘convinced’ (32%) that ‘most of recent or near future warming is/will be a result of anthropogenic causes. Furthermore, 62% were ‘very much convinced’ (35%) or ‘convinced 28%) that ‘climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to humanity.’

But because the survey also disclosed that climate scientists had very real issues with the quality of data they were working with and the ability of current models to predict precipitation in the future, the Alarmists don’t really like to talk about the von Storch Bray survey. Besides, 66% doesn’t sound… convincing enough.

Verheggen et al 2012

Atmospheric scientist Bart Verheggen teamed up with the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency to conduct a larger survey of climate scientists in 2012 . (Disclosure—I offered some advice to Verheggen on how to field the survey.) 1,868 scientists participated. The research went out of their way to insure that those skeptical of climate science were included in the survey. Some of the skeptics had not published in peer-reviewed journals—many had, as had all of those recruited in other ways.

More or less replicating the von Storch findings, Verheggen’s study found that 66% of the respondents felt that more than half of the global warming since the middle of the 20th Century was anthropogenic in origin. Those who felt that way were far more confident in their perception than those who felt that humans had been responsible less than 50% of the current warming period. This is a solid consensus about recent climate change.

Again, the survey has not been frequently cited by Alarmists—66% just isn’t sexy enough. So Alarmists went to work to create a false picture of a consensus that would satisfy their needs. Cue John Cook, Jim Prall and Stefan Lewandowsky…

The Disturbing Data From The Surveys

I mentioned above that one reason Alarmists don’t use these surveys in their discussion of climate change is that some of the data might not be helpful to their cause. Here are some examples.

In the Bray von Storch survey:

• 43% of the surveyed climate scientists said that the direction of research in climate science has been influenced by external politics in the last 10 years, either ‘very much’ or ‘much’.
• Only 9% said that atmospheric models are adequate in dealing with vapor in the atmosphere and only 1% said they were adequate in dealing with clouds. 2% said the models were adequate in dealing with precipitation.
• Only 5% said the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of turbulence and only 5% said the same for land surface processes. 9% said the same for sea ice and 32% said the same for anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
• Only 9% said that the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of model temperatures for the next 50 years.

In the Verheggen et al study:

• 30% of respondents set the lower bound for sensitivity at below 1.5C. 38% gave their best estimate for sensitivity at 2.4C or below.14% gave their upper bound for sensitivity at 4.4C or below.
• 46% of these climate scientists believe that the lower bound for sea level rise this century is below 26 centimeters. 40% believe the upper limit for sea level rise this century is below 70 cm.

This is why the Konsensus turned to John Cook, Prall et al, and Stefan Lewandowsky. The consensus wasn’t strong enough so they had to manufacture a Potemkin Village of opinion, a Konsensus.