And Then There’s a Physic

noun
1. a medicine that purges; cathartic; laxative.
2. any medicine; a drug or medicament.
3. Archaic. the medical art or profession.
4. Obsolete, natural science.
Well, after whining about Richard Tol’s takedown of Cook et al, And Then There’s Physics is now whining about Bishop Hill. Go figure.
ATTP used to just be focused on whining about Watt’s Up With That. I suppose it’s good news that he’s broadened his horizons.
But when he calls Montford (Bishop Hill’s real name) a ‘pseudo-skeptic’ for saying he thinks warming will come in at the low end of the IPCC range’ ATTP is acting as a pseudo critic.
Much in the same way Michael Tobis used to whine about any coverage of non-Konsensus approved material in the media, ATTP just can’t seem to bear the idea that someone can disagree with him. Or that someone  can be right and he can be wrong.
With the abandonment by its host of Deltoid and the retirement of Planet 3, I guess an ecological niche opened up for something like And Then There’s Physics. It is a safe place for Konsensus Kommenters to insult opponents and commiserate over the ever-worsening state of the planet due to the planet not following their muddy-eyed dreams of disaster. Plus they can continue posting YouTube videos of Bart Simpson and Monty Python, showing that relevance is not really important to true believers.
However, the climate blogosphere is not improved by the addition. Some years ago, when open debate was still possible at places like Bart Verheggen’s blog or Collide-a-Scape, the debate was actually vigorous and while nobody changed sides, many learned important things.
In 2015, there does not seem to be such a venue. Here at The Lukewarmer’s Way, traffic is too light to even propose it as such a place. Although many people arrive here from Konsensus blogs, they don’t comment. Macintyre has been ‘classified’ as a skeptic blog and few opponents show up. The same is gradually happening over at Judith Curry’s blog.
I don’t see much debate happening at all. What is see is…
We’re not better off because of it.
 

Sigh… Cook Again

Update 2: Below in comments, someone named Rachel who helps ATTP moderate the blog And Then There’s Physics, informed me that she had done what I attributed to the blog owner and further, that she did not inform the blog owner immediately.

Update: Well, And Then There’s Physics doesn’t really like to talk with people who don’t agree with him. He said I was rude and appealing to authority when I entered Mike Hulme’s quote (see below).

And the following comment was censored:

“Gee. I’m sorry. Where was I rude? I’d like to know your definition of rude, as I am a guest here and do not wish to offend. Please, can you point out instances?

Was it “To what category does “garbage” belong?” Oh–sorry, that wasn’t me.

Was it “Some people can’t read”? Oh–sorry, that wasn’t me.

Was it “Has I was just going to ask if Thomas Fuller is testing how trollish he can be before his comments are moderated. ” Oh–sorry, that wasn’t me.

Was it “As Groundskeeper Willie says in his political hit job…” Oh–sorry, that wasn’t me.

Was it “then write a f*****g social science paper on it Tom. I’m sure you’ll be seriously influential in the faculty tea room.” Oh–sorry, that wasn’t me.

As for appealing to authority, I thought instead I was finding support within the scientific community for Pekka’s position. I do most humbly apologize.”

 

Welcome to Groundhog Day, climate style. There’s more to say about Cook, but most of it will sound very familiar.

groundhog day

Richard Tol has a new assessment of Cook et al’s 97% purity paper–I mean consensus diatribe. Regular readers of this space will remember that I dealt with the topic here and here. Those wanting to get a more complete picture might also look at Jose Duarte’s treatment here, Poptech here, and Andrew Montford (also known as Bishop Hill) here.

The climate blog And Then There’s Physics is now busy regurgitating the feeble defenses offered on behalf of Cook’s contribution to junk science since the day it came out. It is here.

They have resuscitated the zombie arguments used before, none of which address Tol’s two new additions to the many, many criticisms of the paper, nor any of the older criticisms that are at least as damning if not more so.

Tol writes, “First, U Queensland claimed data cannot be released because of a confidentiality agreement. There is a confidentiality agreement, but it does not cover the requested data. John Cook claimed data cannot be released because they were never collected. They were.

Second, the not-collected-data-that-somehow-do-exist-nonetheless (aka time stamps) reveal the sequence of the research: Data were collected and analysed. More data were collected and analysed. The classification of the data was changed, and more data were collected before the final analysis. Going back to collect data, and collect data differently, is a big no no in experimental design, particularly if those who analyzed the preliminary data also collect the data.”

ATTP (the blog host) calls Tol’s statements ‘deceitful’, but does not say how or what the truth of the matter is.

Typical of the comments is “Tol strikes me as someone who would not drink his own pesticides.” That’s the level of intelligence mustered in defense of Cook’s paper.

For those who have forgotten (or those who simply would like to forget), (and quoting myself) “In May 2013 John Cook et al published a paper in Environmental Research Letters, published by IOP publications. The paper was titled “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature”.  In it they claim that they find a 97% Consensus on Human-Caused Global Warming in the Peer-Reviewed Literature.” The project was conceived as a ‘citizen science’ endeavor using volunteers from the Skeptical Science website.

Except they didn’t. The previous statement was published on the website of Skeptical Science, a weblog that Cook and one of his co-authors, Dana Nuccitelli, operate. (Although there is a lot of science on the website, to call it skeptical is not accurate. It is a purveyor of consensus messages, pure and simple.) But what their paper actually says is very different: “We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11,944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming.  There is a dramatic difference between “97% Consensus on Human-Caused Global Warming” and “66.4% of abstracts expressed no opinion on AGW.”

“The ‘97% consensus’ article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It obscures the complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate in this country [UK] that the energy minister should cite it.”

Mike Hulme, Ph.D. Professor of Climate Change, University of East Anglia (UEA)

When I noted at ATTP that “from Andrew Montford’s analysis of the paper: “There was also apparently a problem with the number of papers processed by raters, with one participant getting through no fewer than 765 abstracts in a 72-hour period” the reply was “In a world where most abstracts are a foolscap page in length.”

Okay. I’ll admit that it is possible to review 765 abstracts in 3 days. I’ll just maintain that you can’t do it well.

When I noted from the paper’s Methods that “Abstracts were randomly distributed via a web-based system to raters with only the title and abstract visible. All other information such as author names and affiliations, journal and publishing date were hidden. Each abstract was categorized by two independent, anonymized raters.” and then quoted from the raters’ discussion board: “FYI, here are all papers in our database by the author Wayne Evans:”

and

“I was mystified by the ambiguity of the abstract, with the author wanting his skeptical cake and eating it too. I thought, “that smells like Lindzen” and had to peek.”

The reply was that since the forum’s contents had been taken from Cook’s website (where they were posted in plain view), that I was “Yes, arguing based on criminally obtained private communication.”

Cook is a curious mixture of junk science and propaganda.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is a scientific consensus on a narrow definition of anthropogenic contributions to global warming. Several surveys have put scientific agreement at about 80%.

I am part of the consensus (although I’m not a scientist). I believe global warming is real, is a threat and should be addressed in the present day.

And I don’t like pseudoscience and puppeteers spouting propaganda that confuses the public, angers their legitimate opponents and further sinks climate science into a muddy morass that makes action less likely.

Sleight of Hand–Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Scientific American has a slideshow on their website calling our attention to eleven ‘natural wonders of the world’ that will soon disappear or be forever changed by climate change.

Or does it? Let’s ask the Fynbos.

fynbos

The first ‘natural wonder’ is the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. It is indeed threatened–it has been predicted to break off and sail into the Antarctic sunset since 1922, if not before. As that predates most of our contributions of greenhouse gases, I’m not sure it’s fair to blame human contributions to climate change (although I’m sure they don’t help).

The second example is the Doñana wetlands. Okay, but what’s the threat? Oh. Pollution and loss of ground water due to farming.

The WWF says, “Considered one of the most valuable wetlands in Europe, Spain’s Coto Doñana, located where the Guadalquivir River reaches the Atlantic Ocean, is a sanctuary for millions of migratory birds and endangered species like the imperial eagle and Iberian lynx. However, mining, farming, tourism and infrastructure development all pose a serious threat to the area.”

Up third on Scientific American’s list is the glacier atop Mount Kilmanjaro. One would think they would have learned from Al Gore’s experience with that snow-topped peak. “Kilimanjaro is a grossly overused mis-example of the effects of climate change,” said University of Washington climate scientist Philip Mote, co-author of an article in the July/August issue of American Scientist magazine. …Kilimanjaro has seen its glaciers decline steadily for well over a century — since long before humans began pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Mote points out.”

Next is the Great Barrier Reef. And again… after the obligatory tip of the hat to global warming they say, “It is also the acidification of the surrounding oceans. In addition, human pollution is exacerbating disease in the reef ecosystem, and dredging and sewage are burying sections of the reef in sediment and sludge.”

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority lists climate change as a threat to the treasure, along with extreme weather. But they also list declining water quality, coastal development, illegal fishing and outbreaks of starfish. A recent “assessment found the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area’s outstanding universal value remains largely intact and the Reef is one of the world’s most resilient tropical marine ecosystems.” The assessment does mention rising sea temperatures as a factor, but spends far more time talking about changes to the land supporting the Reef, disease, introduces species, pests and identify four ‘drivers of change’ impacting the condition of the GBR: economic growth, population growth, technological development and societal values.

We then come to the Arctic, one natural wonder indeed impacted by climate change to date. Scientific American writes, “Mysterious craters in Siberia, drunken trees in Alaska, gas plumes burning above Canadian lakes—all speak to the same thaw of the Arctic. This rapid warm-up in the Earth’s northerly air conditioner will mean even faster global warming as more of the greenhouse gas methane enters the atmosphere and darker earth or open waters replace reflective white snow and ice. Summertime sea ice may become a memory, and even the iconic white polar bear may brown as it interbreeds with the bears moving north into warming climes.”

I have absolutely no argument with Scientific American when it comes to climate change and the Arctic. But I guess an article with just one example (two, if you count the next one) would be… a bit short.

Then S.A. moves to another true natural wonder that truly does seem to be changing in reaction to a changing climate: Costa Rica’s Monteverde rain forest. “This tropical rainforest some 1,700 meters above sea level in the volcanic mountains of central Costa Rica gets its name from living among permanent clouds. The humidity is often 100 percent. But as the warming climate drives those clouds further up and even off the mountainsides, their ascent is exposing the lower reaches of the cloud forest to higher temperatures and drier conditions.”

But then they return again to less fruitful material, writing about the Amazon, “Logging and fire have returned to threaten the Amazon Rainforest, which sprawls over 5.5 million square kilometers in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela, currently. After years of reduced human impacts, agribusiness, farmers and loggers have begun to eat away at the forest anew, according to the most recent statistics and satellite images. Less forest means less rain, a problem that may be exacerbated as the climate changes and dries out the world’s largest remaining rainforest.”

National Geographic lists the main threats to the Amazon:

  • Logging interests cut down rain forest trees for timber used in flooring, furniture, and other items.
  • Power plants and other industries cut and burn trees to generate electricity.
  • The paper industry turns huge tracts of rain forest trees into pulp.
  • The cattle industry uses slash-and-burn techniques to clear ranch land.
  • Agricultural interests, particularly the soy industry, clear forests for cropland.
  • Subsistence farmers slash-and-burn rain forest for firewood and to make room for crops and grazing lands.
  • Mining operations clear forest to build roads and dig mines.
  • Governments and industry clear-cut forests to make way for service and transit roads.
  • Hydroelectric projects flood acres of rain forest.

Next on their list is the Boreal Forest: “his vast global forest, dominated by conifer trees, covers much of Canada, Russia and Scandinavia. But as the northern regions continue to warm, the southern edge of the boreal forest will give way to grasslands, and the forest as a whole could shrink by half. Meanwhile, wildfires and new insect threats—like the pine beetle eating enormous swaths of forest land to death today—will plague the remnant.” They neglect to mention that “Model simulations performed by the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that alpine tundra will lose ground to boreal forest spreading northward. According to their estimates, between one- and two-thirds of the current tundra will likely be replaced by boreal migrants.”

Nor do they mention: “Major industrial developments in the boreal ecoregion include logging, mining, and hydroelectric development. These activities have had severe impacts on many areas and these will face increasing pressure for resource exploitation in the coming years. Approximately 90% of all logging that occurs in this region is by clear cutting, using heavy, capital-intensive machinery. The “high mineral potential” in this region is also very problematic. Specific concerns include the disposal of acidic effluent from tailings, containment of radioactivity and the effects of emissions from processing plants. Some of the problems that the Boreal regions face are:

  • air pollution from smelters and power plants
  • radioactivity from atomic power and weapons testing
  • water pollution & disruption of habitats if commercialization of a northern shipping routes become a reality
  • adverse impact of new mineral and oil/gas extraction
  • new threats to endangered species”

Scientific American then looks at mangrove forests: “One of the largest of the remaining mangrove forests may drown. Mangroves once covered much of the coastlines of Africa and Asia, but these places where rivers meet sea under the shelter of swampy trees are under threat from a variety of human activities, including coastal development—despite providing valuable shelter from tropical cyclones and even tsunamis. In Madagascar, rising sea levels and temperatures may overwhelm the Mahajamba Bay mangroves even before humanity has a chance to replace them with shrimp farms.”

Apparently they didn’t read the 2013 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that said, “Fewer deep freezes, attributable to Earth’s warming climate, have caused mangrove forests to expand northward in Florida over the past three decades, new research suggests.”

Or the report from the Center for International Forestry Research that says, “Where tropical forests meet the sea, you’ll often find mangroves, which harbor unique wildlife and store large amounts of carbon. A project conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) seeks to show how they could also be protecting our coastlines against rising sea levels. As climate change leads to global sea-level rise, mangroves’ adaptability could be hugely beneficial. Yet, despite playing a key ecological role in climate change adaptation, mangroves are being lost at a loss rate equivalent to more than 45,000 football pitches each year.” Once again, humans are doing what is attributed to climate.

We turn then to the atolls that are scattered across the Pacific and Indian oceans. “The small atolls that litter the Pacific face stronger storms like Typhoon Pam, which justdevastated Vanuatu. Sitting barely above sea level, these islands also face saltwater incursions into freshwater supplies—as seen in Kiribati, Tonga and Ontong Java Atoll in the Solomon Islands—among other ill effects of swelling oceans as a result of global warming. It is not just Pacific isles that are under threat: low-lying islands like the Maldives in the Indian Ocean face similar challenges.”

Again, there’s one thing they leave out: Sea levels around Vanuatu have been falling since 2008. What’s been rising is the rate of subsidence and vertical lift from earthquakes. Again, a paper from PNAS: “Our data show that the Torres GPS station subsided by 117 þ ∕ − 30 mm (9.4 þ ∕ − 2.5 mm∕yr) from 1997 to early 2009. This is one of the highest measured interseismic subsidence rates on Earth [along with northwest Malekula Island (1) and West Sumatra. …Island nations such as Vanuatu are concerned about natural hazards and ways to reduce or mitigate risks. In recent years, many of the risk mitigation plans have been carried under the general umbrella of “climate change adaptation.” However, in the case of the Torres Islands, interseismic and 1997 coseismic subsidence is much larger than the climate-induced sea-level rise. On a scale of thousands of years and more, the Torres Islands are less threatened by climate-induced sea-level rise than are many other islands.”

We then come to the 11th Natural Wonder of the World that may disappear due to climate change. the fynbos. Now, don’t pretend you don’t know what that is.

“This 90,000-square-kilometer strip of scrubland in the Western Cape of South Africa hosts a greater array of unique flowers than anywhere else on the continent. Its distinctive proteas, such as the king protea that is South Africa’s national flower, evolved in the cooler climate of the geologic past and are therefore especially susceptible to rising temperatures, which may also bring increased wildfires.”

Now that I do know what they are, they are fascinating. You should read more about them. I did. Here’s the WWF on fynbos: “Constantly under threat from invading plant species, particularly wattle and acacia trees from Australia, as well as from urban expansion and land conversion for agriculture, WWF is committed to protecting the biodiversity of the Cape floral kingdom through a number of conservation projects and by supporting the Cape Action for People and the Environment programme. ”

And you know, that’s enough. Scientific American should have thought this through a bit more thoroughly.

Biodiversity in general is threatened by humans. Our hunting, overgrazing (and overfishing) pollution and our nasty habit of introducing new species into territories has put many, many species and entire ecosystems under severe pressure. For some, climate change may prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But to focus all our attention on climate change when it comes to threatened species is madness. As I wrote on Bart Verheggen’s blog in 2011,”

“I think that recent efforts to mitigate the potential impacts of climate change are important, but more because potential global warming can serve as a ‘last straw’ for certain portions of a beleaguered environment if it happens too fast.

However, 99% of stress on environments has other causes, most man-made, and addressing global warming in a mad and expensive rush without ameliorating our other impacts is madness, like treating a woman with cancer using a facial cleanser.

The environment, as Jeff Id alluded to, has thrived at times in warmer climates, and if warming happens slowly enough it could do so again.

Just as the alarmists forget (functionally, when talking of impacts and mitigation) that the climate always changes, some participants in yesterday’s thread seemed determined to ignore that our biosphere constantly changes too. For some species, warming will be a blessing, especially if warming happens to come in at a lower sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of CO2 concentrations. For some it will not. But that kind of lottery has been occurring for a couple of billion years.

My main concern is exemplified by warmists hijacking iconic examples of negative effects caused by human activity and attributing the stress felt by or threats to, for example, polar bear populations and saying the major problem is global warming or climate disruption.

Climate is disruptive. It always has been. But species either adapt to the changes or make way for others that can. Our contributions to the disruptive nature of climate will not be welcomed by some species. However global warming is the least of their worries now, and is likely to remain so for the next century.

So how we use this century is critical. And my policy preferences are, just as with the human element affected by global warming, to make communities more resilient and able to withstand climate changes that we cannot control, to get off their backs with thoughtless development, pollution and dramatic changes in land use without environmental consideration.”

And on the same thread, commenter Sidd pointed out, “Mr. Bernard J. kindly posted a link to Hoffman et al. In the paper.From the abstract:

“…main drivers of biodiversity loss in these groups: agricultural expansion, logging, overexploitation, and invasive alien species. ”

To check Mr. Fuller’s guess about 1% loss to climate change:

fig S7 allow one to estimate the fraction of deteriorating species (of the IUCN list of 25780 endangered species) due to climate change or extreme weather and fire regime changes, as well as several other factors:

For birds: total number of deteriorating species=433, those due to climate change or severe weather, 8, those due to fire regime change, 1
The corresponding numbers
For mammals:: 171,3,7
For amphibians: 456, 5,1

Slightly above 1%.”

 

Perhaps The Most Cogent Essay On Climate Change I Have Read In Recent Months

George Schultz was Secretary of State for Ronald Reagan’s administration from 1982 to 1989.

I voted against Reagan twice, having lived in California while he was governor and not being impressed with the results. Reagan went on to become a conservative hero. George Schultz is one of the reasons why.

Here’s a picture of him with a friend:

gshultz-nreagan_tx700

From Wikipedia: “George Pratt Shultz (born December 13, 1920) is an American economist, statesman, and businessman. He served as the United States Secretary of Labor from 1969 to 1970, as the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1970 to 1972, as theU.S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1972 to 1974, and as the U.S. Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989. Before entering politics, he was professor of economics at MIT and the University of Chicago, serving as Dean of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business from 1962 to 1969. Between 1974 and 1982, Shultz was an executive at Bechtel, eventually becoming the firm’s president. He is currently a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

George P. Schultz has an article in the Washington Post about climate change. (Thanks, Marty, for bringing it to our attention.) It is perhaps the most cogent and common-sensical article I have read about the subject this year (sadly including my own writings… sigh…)

Schultz is not a starry-eyed liberal. Heck, he’s now with the Hoover Institution. He’s a hard-nosed economist, pragmatic and solutions-oriented.

As a Lukewarmer, most of my ‘opinion’ pieces are about the harm done to the goal of understanding climate and climate change by lobbyists and NGOs who exaggerate the threat of CO2 and focus on it to the exclusion of all else.

Often lost in my tweaking the noses of these people (who very badly need their noses tweaked) is the very real fact that the globe is warming and despite a recent ‘stall’ (as James Hansen characterized it), there is no indication that our planet’s climate is ready to cool off.

Our changes to land cover, the black carbon from our smokestacks, our production of cement, all are causing artificial changes to our climate.

So are our emissions of CO2.

Even with lower calculations of sensitivity of our atmosphere to a doubling of the concentrations of CO2, our emissions, added to our other impacts on the climate, point towards a problematic future–not a Waterworld, not a catastrophe, but an expensive and time consuming adaptation to new conditions.

It could cost trillions of dollars over the course of this century.

As Schultz points out in his article, there are things we could do to lessen our impact on the climate and its subsequent impact on our children’s lives.

We could spend more on research into energy storage and distribution. We could help China get scrubbers on all their coal plants. We could remove many–even most–of the regulations for nuclear power plants and settle on a standard design allowing mass production.

Over there in the U.S. (I’m writing from Taipei), many have reduced the climate conversation to a partisan political issue–and there’s no doubt that part of the impact of Schultz’s article stems from his stature, but also from his standing on the conservative side of the political fence.

Those opposed to any action on climate change who also happen to be Republicans, if your opinion on this issue is based on study of the climate, I have no problem with you. However, for those who side with the skeptics because they are true conservatives or anti-Democrats, I urge you to at least see what some on your side of the fence have to say.

 

Sunday Jog Through The Climate Blogosphere

stock-footage-fit-and-healthy-young-couple-walks-through-the-park

There are some interesting stories regarding climate science and politics.

Most of them are linked at Judith Curry’s Week In Review, so I’ll just send you over there rather than lift them wholesale. Most of them are from actual news stories, so I’ll focus on that limited part of the blogosphere that forms my daily reading fare.

Both Curry and Steve McIntyre hosted a guest post by Nic Lewis on a recent paper by Bjorn Stevens. The paper essentially reports that aerosols do not have as strong an effect on climate as has been assumed. Check the comments section on both Curry and McIntyre for discussion.

McIntyre also notes that scientists he has criticized in the past have been sneaking corrections into their work–corrections Mac has called for. He notes that they manage to use his corrections without mentioning his name. Not the first time that has happened to McIntyre. He spent the rest of the week picking apart a man called Weaver, guilty of showing the homage vice pays to virtue…

Real Climate has a guest post by Kerry Emanuel titled ‘Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam and Climate Change‘. The thrust being that climate change contributed to the intensity of the storm…. which he says was very intense. But not as intense as other storms. And the record only really goes back to 1980. Where’s Roger Pielke Jr. when we need him?

Oh. He’s here, plugging his new book ‘Disasters and Climate Change‘. If he sent me a review copy I’d review it, hint… hint… I think Pielke and Emanuel could have a fruitful discussion of Tropical Storm Pam.

Rabett Run seems to have run out of ideas this week, with Josh Halpern doing his monthly slime of Bjorn Lomborg (it’s in his contract with his fossil fuel funders, doncha know?) maundering a bet on climate (not as sexy as my bet with Joe Romm) and mistakenly titling one entry ‘Immature Post of the Day’, which wasn’t–it actually was his hit job on Lomborg. Fellow blogger and rudemeister William Connelly also couldn’t find anything worthwhile to blog about, but had to put up three posts anyhow.

Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice Blog had a couple of posts up about Arctic Sea Ice, amazingly enough. The winter maximum may have been reached and it may be lower than in recent years, although the jury’s still out. One of the less edifying aspects of the Konsensus bloggers is how excited they are by the occasional bad news–anything that justifies their gloom and doom prophesies seems to delight them.

A quiet week, overall. Bjorn’s paper is interesting, as is Kerry Emanuel’s article, but much of this week could have been more profitably spent on the funny papers.

I wonder what a slow news day looks like in other fields?

slow news day

 

Respect Ability

In 2015 it is starting to appear as though the Lukewarmer view of climate change is winning. At least if what I read out there reflects a) reality and b) the political state of play.

Remember the Lukewarmer position can be characterized very succinctly (and has been by Steve Mosher on more than one occasion): Given the over/under bet on atmospheric sensitivity to a doubling of concentrations of greenhouse gases at 3C, Lukewarmers will take the ‘under.’ We don’t quarrel (much) with the science–believe it or not, Michael Mann has said many true things about climate science and climate change–I hope some day he extends that rigorous honesty to his own work product…

The last year has been full of papers analyzing observations of our climate that indicate that sensitivity is not only below 3C, and not only below my own estimate of about 2.1C, but around 1.7C.

It’s not that I am claiming that Lukewarmers have finally climbed to a position of respectability.

Scientists have questioned the Consensus view of the various aspects of global warming and it would appear that their findings and analysis will carry weight going forward.

I’m arguing that they should be acknowledged for their contributions.

respectability

We have been reminded once again that climate science is even now discovering very basic and important elements that need to be considered, such as the impact of black carbon or the varying effects of aerosols. But the core message–that temperatures are rising and our emissions of greenhouse gases contribute to this warming–is not really questioned. The questions remain ‘how much’ and ‘so what?’

I personally think that the ‘how much’ is answered best by ‘more than we would really like’ and the ‘so what’ by the reply ‘for most of my readers the consequences will be minimal, but for those in the developing world it will pose a big problem–not their biggest, but certainly enough to make their climb towards a developed status much more difficult.

What I haven’t seen are the hundreds of papers being released with the ‘It’s Worse Than We Thought’ motif. There are some, of course. But not the incredible flurry that characterized previous years.

It’s not that the political faction of the Klimate Konsensus has abandoned their struggle. They are still harassing their opponents, from Congressional inquiries into funding to psycho-babble-analysis from pseudoscientists like Stefan Lewandowski.

But to say now in 2015 that atmospheric sensitivity may well turn out to be less than 3C is now, if not acceptable, at least no longer absurd.

What that means going forward is that the people who are arguing with Lukewarmers will gradually quit being the legitimate holders of the Consensus (which is dramatically different from the Kilmate Konsensus), and start to include many of the skeptics with whom we’ve gotten along so well during these last years in the wilderness. This is something Steve Mosher has been finding out over the past two years–when arguments over politics and process get put aside, much of the consensus position is sound.

At least those disagreements will be more good-natured, as most skeptics are overall much more congenial in conversation than the lunatics who have been carrying sandwich boards pronouncing our doom…

In The Huddle

We are in another period, hopefully brief, where the differing sides in the climate debate are not even talking to each other.

Since the Konsensus (different from the scientific consensus) has decided not to debate their opponents, communication was always circumspect, indirect and at the margins–but there were still attempts at communication. At the moment, with Congress harassing scientists, the Konsensus highlighting funding issues and no major scientific announcements in the recent past, it seems that the different sides are talking to each other about next steps. Perhaps after every play (Grijalva throws deep going for it all, but Pielke bats the ball out of the outstretched hands of the receiver…) people just need to go back to the huddle.

huddle

It’s not the first time this has happened, but it’s a little disconcerting to see.

It’s not just the major players–Congress, the major societies and organizations, even the major institutions, such as the recently recapitated IPCC–that are spending more time talking within their groups than across the walls. It is of course reflected in the blogosphere as well.

I take a tour of many of the climate blogs almost every day, and those which list recent comments as a guide to who’s participating in the discussion are most helpful. When I look at them, I recognize many of the names and in this current environment the homogeneity of commenters is as good a guide to the atmosphere in the debate as the nature of the posts.

Nick Stokes still comments at Climate Audit, JimD at Climate Etc., and a few skeptics still lob their comment grenades over the wall at Konsensus blogs, but overall we’re preaching to the choir and living in an echo chamber as a result. More typical was a glance this morning at And Then There’s Physics, where the commenters were long time Konsensus militants like Steven Sullivan, dhogaza, etc., while over at Bishop Hill the story is the same, just with regulars from the skeptic corner talking to each other.

The funny thing is that it is obvious from both posts and comments that we’re all reading each others’ stuff–a theme will surface on either side and will be written about shortly thereafter–but no attempts at communication.

It all makes for a very sterile environment and it reduces the very real pleasure of watching the to and fro of the climate debate. I hope this period is short.

I’m very luck that at my other blog (3000 Quads), I have concrete things to write about at this point in time, what with the Department of Energy having just released their Annual Energy Report. If you want something more concrete from me during this rather fallow period of the debate, that’s where you’re likely to find it.

Toxic China and Climate Change

The overwhelming response by Chinese people to the release of the documentary ‘Under the Dome’ shows how potent an issue pollution is in that heavily polluted country. Again, if you have time the video is really worth a look. It has English subtitles.

The Chinese censors took it down, but not before 200 million Chinese saw the video.

Pollution in China is a big deal, just as it became a big deal in Western countries the minute they crawled out of poverty, something that happened much later than people realize–as late as 1948, half of Americans were poor. When that changed, people began to have time to express dissatisfaction with pollution and just 25 years later Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. It took about the same amount of time to clean up London’s skies and water–somewhat longer for Italy (well, okay, they’re still struggling with it, but that’s more because the Mafia got involved than anything else.)

Parents are now sending their children out of the country, ostensibly for schooling but they cheerfully admit that in fact it’s to get them out of danger from China’s polluted air, water and soils.

The Chinese leadership well recognizes that this is a hot button issue. They have made it a priority. They have the tools to address it and probably will.

What does this mean for China’s efforts to combat climate change?

Not as much as the most committed advocates would like, of course. China wants to get away from coal–but they’re unable to right now. Currently 69% of their energy comes from coal and their plan is to drop that to 65% by 2050.

They can make it a lot cleaner of course. Many Chinese coal plants have scrubbers–many of those scrubbers are not in use. There’s a lot of room for improvement.

They’re building lots of nuclear power plants in China–I think their current schedule is to bring two online every year through 2050. But that won’t even keep up with forecast increased consumption during that timeframe, something I discuss at my other blog, 3000 Quads.

And although they are finally using some of their world leading manufacture of solar panels and wind turbines for domestic use, but it will still amount only to an asterisk in percentages by 2050.

China would love to use more natural gas–they’ve discovered a lot of it amenable to fracking. However, the arid nature of China’s climate means they can’t spare the water to frack it out of the ground.

They’re importing oil and gas from Russia–why not build another pipeline and use it to import water?

Far more than other countries, China would benefit most quickly from a dash to gas–they need to find a way to get the water to make that practical.

Another New-ish Voice

Okay, now I’ve got to update my blogroll. I’m going to add some new blogs and take off the retired ones.

My motivation is to gain exposure for the funniest blog I have seen in a very long time–Climate Nuremberg.

I don’t recall the last time I laughed out loud about climate change (well, maybe while reading Lewandowsky…)

comedy

If you are already familiar with the site you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen it yet you’re in for a treat.

So–the floor’s open for other nominations. I’m going to add Ben Pile, Jose Duarte and a couple of others that escape me at the moment. Your picks? (I was going to add And Then There’s Physics but he said I was nasty… sigh…)

EcoTerrorism, EcoMadness

Those trying to establish policy in the field of climate change need to understand why environmentalism became so popular and what has been done to damage its standing.

The environmental movement at one point enjoyed more widespread support and respect than religions in the 20th Century. I remember Earth Day as a great coming together of diverse people to express their commitment to reducing pollution, repairing damage done by previous development and working towards a day when once again food, water and air were safe.

What happened?

Wikiepedia has an entry on eco-terrrorism: “Eco-terrorism is a [1]term used to refer to acts of violence committed in support of ecological or environmental causes, against persons or their property. Eco-terrorism is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as “the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against people or property by an environmentally oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.”[4] The FBI credited eco-terrorists with 200 million dollars in property damage between 2003 and 2008, and a majority of states within the USA have introduced laws aimed at eco-terrorism.”

From today’s headlines I would say eco-terrorism looks like this:

green_terrorist

Suspected ‘eco-terrorists’ have threatened to poison baby formula in New Zealand unless authorities ban a particular agricultural pesticide.

Anonymous letters have been sent to a national farmers’ group and to Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy exporter, containing samples of infant formula laced with the poison known as 1080.”

Looking back at headlines we see this: “Peru will seek criminal charges against Greenpeace activists who it says damaged the world-renowned Nazca lines by leaving footprints in the adjacent desert during a publicity stunt.”

this… “If you’re one of those who have spent their lives undermining progressive climate legislation, bankrolling junk science, fueling spurious debates around false solutions, and cattle-prodding democratically-elected governments into submission, then hear this: We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many, but you be few.”

this… “Two million children a year are dying, and every year it is delayed, another two million kids are dying. The blood of that is on the hands of the people who have made it impossible to make an exception for golden rice.” Greenpeace has campaigned against golden rice for more than a decade, saying that it is an unnecessary diversion from the real causes of vitamin-A deficiency.

this… “Any attempt to hinder or undermine world agreement to eliminate DDT under the Stockholm Convention would obstruct attempts to break the current cycle of misery related to the use of DDT for malarial vector control.”

the very existence of a group like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Liberation_Front

Or this: “On New Year’s Eve in 1999, for example, arson caused about $1 million in damage to Michigan State University’s architectural landmark Agriculture Hall, damaging offices involved in a project intended to enhance the use and commercialization of crop genetic engineering in developing countries. The Earth Liberation Front, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said that it was “in response to the work being done to force developing nations in Asia, Latin America and Africa to switch from natural crop plants to genetically altered sweet potatoes, corn, bananas, and pineapples.” (The research, under the direction of Professor Catherine Ives, actually was intended to enhance the nutritional value of African staple foods like sweet potatoes.)  A U.S. Attorney in Michigan condemned the act as domestic terrorism.”

As I said above, those trying to establish policy in the field of climate change need to understand why environmentalism became so popular and what has been done to damage its standing.

Environmentalism became a strong movement because environmental damage was easy to see, widespread and had real and measurable impacts.

Crimes committed in the name of (but without permission or even support from) the general population stepped on the message, trashed the brand and sent millions away from the movement.

Since 2000, there has been a slight increase in the percentage of Americans claiming to be active participants in the movement, from 16% to 19%, but a noticeable decline of 13 percentage points in those claiming to be sympathetic to the movement. The result is a 10-point drop (from 71% to 61%) in the overall percentage of Americans holding a positive orientation toward the environmental movement over the past decade.”

I support the broader (and earlier) goals of the environmental movement, just as I support well-considered action to reduce future human contributions to climate change and to also reduce the impacts of climate change whatever the cause.

But just as I despise the criminals who have trashed environmentalism, so too I despise those who have resorted to criminal and unethical actions to coerce the world into adopting their preferred regime of policy responses to global warming.

Peter Gleick, stealing and forging documents kills the fight against climate change. Naomi Oreskes, Jim Prall, John Cook and Stephan Lewandowski, making up numbers to create an imaginary unanimity of opinion of scientists kills the fight against climate change. Greenpeace, trashing archeological remains to call attention to climate change just puts you in the same league as ISIL or the Taliban, both of whom do exactly as you do.

I’m not talking about the pranks and deceptions that are common to any highly charged policy issue–the No Pressure video, the photoshopped polar bear crisis, or even advocacy of one-sided reports, such as those about Syrian drought, Amazonian rainforests or African agriculture. Not even Himalayan glaciers.

The Argentinian couple that killed their child and then themselves in despair over climate change should be lesson enough that your hysteria is counter-productive. What more do you need in the way of a lesson?

In September 2010 one person, the late James Lee walked into the Discovery Channel armed with a gun and a bomb demanding that Discovery changed it’s programming to the content of an 11 point Green manifesto that Lee had published on the Internet, after an explosion Lee was shot dead by a SWAT sniper.

The Infant Science

I don’t want to sound overly critical of climate science, as the news coming out is much better being reported than ignored. I’m glad research is uncovering new and important things–maybe we really are getting our money’s worth, even if the sums spent on climate research seem very high.

When it was announced two years ago that black carbon had been determined to be one of the largest forcings of climate change (the soot from chimneys in the North fall on snow, changing the surface’s albedo and hastening its melt, which… also exposes the ground below, further changing the albedo), I wrote that it was remarkable that the second largest component of climate change was discovered so late.

I put it down to climate studies being an example of an ‘infant science’. I got a lot of flack for that, as people equated ‘infant’ with juvenile behavior or something similar. But it’s a professional term that has been used before to describe fields of study in the initial stages, where everything is new and exciting and those working in it are finding important things rather than refining at the margins.

ScienceMorningNSB

Recent news reinforces my impression–Watt’s Up With That refers us to a study in Geophysical Research Letters asserting that the new generation (CMIP 5) of climate models have programmed in a rather large error in calculating how solar radiation is calculated at the top of the atmosphere, with unsurprising large impacts on the results of these models.

Those with a consensus view of climate science have been resisting skeptical criticism of model performance ever since temperatures plateaued 15 or so years ago. If the findings of this paper hold up, those defences may become a bit more strained.

Almost at the same time, Climate Etc. refers us to another paper that includes an inherent critism of model performance in measuring planetary albedo, which the paper finds to be symmetrical between the northern and southern hemispheres, but is treated differently by climate models.

It is good for climate science to keep improving and I want to applaud these papers. It makes climate science better and we all want that.

However, that matters of such (apparent–it’s early days) magnitude with regard to their impacts on our understanding of both climate and climate change are being discovered now only emphasizes how far we have to go before climate science is settled in any sense of the word.

We are still learning more about some of the basics. Let’s keep doing it, but let’s also remember this before we assume an authoritarian tone in discussing the ramifications of human caused climate change, okay?

Syria, Drought and Global Warming

I will argue that it was not the drought per se, but rather the government’s failure to respond to the ensuing humanitarian crisis that formed one of the triggers of the uprising, feeding a discontent that had long been simmering in rural areas.” Francesca De Châtel, Middle East Studies, Jan. 2014.

That’s what I will argue too. There is an argument going on about whether anthropogenic climate change is impacting the current climate. Alarmists have been insisting that any extreme weather event includes an ACC component. Opponents have been citing numbers showing that case cannot be made for storms. Members of the Consensus have been using droughts and floods as counter examples. However, there is the familiar double jump required to reach the same conclusion as held by the alarmists–first, the simple one, that this particular drought was a contributing factor in the Syrian civil war, which is not too hard to swallow. The second is that climate change either caused or intensified or lengthened this particular drought.

An article dated March 9 in the Guardian also questions the new fashion for blaming all conflict on climate change. “Humans have fought over resources for millennia, so recent studies indicating a link between severe drought and the civil war in Syria shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise. That said, some researchers warn we might be jumping to conclusions a bit too quickly.”

The money quote comes from Andrew Solow, senior scientist at the Wood Hollow Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts. “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,” Solow says. “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. I sometimes have the feeling that some people only care about human suffering if it can be traced to climate change.”

A 2012 article in Nature (Sheffield et al,) is in fact titled, “Little Change In Global Drought Over Past 60 Years.”  It opens with the sentence “Drought is expected to increase in frequency and severity in the future as a result of climate change, mainly as a consequence of decreases in regional precipitation but also because of increasing evaporation driven by global warming.” However, the purpose of the paper is to note that corrections should be made to estimates drawn from the Palmer Drought Severity Index for technical reasons, and that when those corrections are applied there in fact appears to be no upward rising trend in drought.

This paper was quickly replied to by the Honor Guard of the Consensus Brigade, including Kevin Trenberth, Phil Jones and Keith Briffa, in a paper that is sadly paywalled but titled “Global Warming and Changes in Drought.” Since Kevin Trenberth is one of the most prominent advocates of the thesis that climate change is now a component of all weather, it is safe to surmise that the paper does not agree with Sheffield et al.

Syria is in the middle of both drought and armed conflict and members of the climate consensus have linked the two, saying that the drought is a contributor to the conflict. There’s some logic to this–the drought started before the civil war and farmers did move into the cities as a result. This could have resulted in additional tension that triggered the civil war.

However, one would have to be blind or monomoniacal at least to say that global warming had more than a trace effect on what happened in Syrai. And in fact Peter Gleick, the climate consensus’ resident thief and forger, is one of the prominent advocates of blaming the civil war on climate change.

In a paper titled “Water, Drought, Climate Change and Conflict in Syria“, published in the journal Weather, Climate and Society, Gleick tips his hat at other causes in the abstract, saying “The devastating civil war that began in Syria in March 2011 is the result of complex interrelated factors. The focus of the conflict is regime change, but the triggers include a broad set of religious and sociopolitical factors, the erosion of the economic health of the country, a wave of political reform sweeping over the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Levant region, and challenges associated with climate variability and change and the availability and use of freshwater.”

However, Gleick goes on to note “water and climatic conditions have played a direct role in the deterioration of Syria’s economic conditions.” In an article in Huffington Post published to publicized the paywalled paper, Gleick writes “Many factors influenced the civil war in Syria, including long-standing political, religious, and ideological disputes; economic dislocations from both global and regional factors; and the consequences of water shortages influenced by drought, ineffective watershed management, and the growing influence of climate variability and change.”

If you want to add the current drought as one of the factors contributing to the current conflict, I would shrug my shoulders and concede it as a possibility, although orders of magnitude less important than discontent with the regime, the examples of the Arab Spring in other countries, the doubling of the Syrian population from 12 to 24 million in just 25 years, etc. Sure, the drought didn’t help.

But Syrians have suffered a reduced capability to deal with drought. Turkey has built dams syphoning off water that Syria used to have access to. As I mentioned, the population has doubled. A drought of the same intensity as previous droughts would have a greater effect on Syrians.

But Gleick’s paper is about climate change. In Huffington Post Gleick continues, “Assessing the role of climatic changes in altering water availability finds growing evidence that drought frequency and intensity in the Levant/Eastern Mediterranean region have changed from historical climatic norms.”

And this is where Gleick departs from what I consider reality. In 1870-1871 the ‘Levant/Eastern Mediterranean’ he describes suffered from a drought so severe that there was actually zero precipitation for two years. In 2200 BC the region experienced 300 years of arid climate. The Middle East is the poster child for drought–deforestation and overgrazing are the staple topics of scientists discussing environmental degradation leading to arid landscapes prone to drought, and Syria is a prominent example of both.

The 1999-2001 drought was the worst in four decades, seriously affecting crop and livestock production in the Syrian Arab Republic, which, in turn, had serious repercussions on the food security of a large segment of the population as incomes fell sharply, particularly among the rural small farmers and herders (FAO, 2004a; ESCWA, 2005). For example, in 1999, drought played a role in forcing approximately 47,000 nomadic households (329,000 people) to liquidate their livestock assets, which was a primary source of long-term income (De Pauw, 2005). Therefore, many families in the rangelands (Badia) eventually required food aid during the drought years (FAO, 2004a).

And yet, this severe drought did not lead to civil war or mass migration.

As Francesca de Chatel writes, ” I will argue that it was not the drought per se, but rather the government’s failure to respond to the ensuing humanitarian crisis that formed one of the triggers of the uprising, feeding a discontent that had long been simmering in rural areas. Drought forms an integral part of Syria’s (semi-)arid climate and is not an exceptional phenomenon. Syria has experienced 7 severe (Type 2) droughts since 1978 without civil conflict–and the number and severity of droughts in that period is not unusual.

Countries in the region such as Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine were also affected by drought in 2007/8, but only Syria experienced a humanitarian crisis, with large-scale migration of populations and widespread malnutrition.

I will argue that this can be explained by the fact that the humanitarian crisis in fact predated the drought. Similarly, climate change per se – to the extent that its predicted effects would already be visible – did not drive Syrians into the street in protest; it was the Syrian government’s failure to adapt to changing environmental, economic and social realities. While climate change may have contributed to worsening the effects of the drought, overstating its importance is an unhelpful distraction that diverts attention away from the core problem: the long-term mismanagement of natural resources.”

The Middle East is prone to drought. And yet it has thrived for thousands of years, including drought years, because people adapted to conditions, combining pastoralism with agriculture and staying flexible about where they pitched their tents and built their houses. The Middle East has suffered terrible shocks in the last millenium–repeated invasions from Crusaders, Turks and Central Asian invaders had a devastating effect on populations–and some of those invasions occurred during times of drought. Some weren’t. The climate was secondary in importance.

“The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations’ Near East Region comprises 32 countries in Central and Western Asia and Northern Africa.  The Near East Region is one of the most water-scarce regions in the world, with a regional annual average of 1,700 cubic meters (m3 ) of water available per person in 2005 (FAO, 2007). This compares to the worldwide average of 8,411 m3 per person. However, the amounts in the region varied from a low of 8 m3 per person in Kuwait to as much as 7,134 m3 in Kazakhstan in 2005.

Precipitation plays a major role in the availability of water in many of the countries; accumulations range from as little as 51 mm/yr in Egypt to 691 mm/yr in Tajikistan in the more water-rich eastern portion of the Near East Region. In terms of climate, most of the region is classified as a hot, arid desert according to the Koppen-Geiger climate classification scheme (Kottek et al., 2006).

There are four different types of drought:

Meteorological drought refers to a deficiency of precipitation, as compared to average conditions, over an extended period of time.

Agricultural drought is defined by a reduction in soil moisture availability below the optimal level required by a crop during each different growth stage, resulting in impaired growth and reduced yields.

Hydrological drought results when precipitation deficiencies begin to reduce the availability of natural and artificial surface and subsurface water resources. It occurs when there is substantial deficit in surface runoff below normal conditions or when there is a depletion of ground water recharge.

Socio-economic drought occurs when human activities are affected by reduced precipitation and related water availability. This form of drought associates human activities with elements of meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological drought.

Drought and famine have also been recurrent features in West Asian countries, such as Iran. Heydari (2005) synthesized several studies that had collected accounts of ancient droughts in the works of historians, geographers, travelers, foreign diplomats, traders, and other writers. According to researchers, some of the earliest writings are from the Accamedian King Darius’ scroll (522-485 B.C.), in which he prays for protection over Persia from three things: enemies, drought, and lies.

Tabari’s History also later records that Persia was stricken by a severe drought and famine for seven consecutive years during the reign of King Firouz, which caused water sources to dry up, vegetation to wither, animals to perish, and the king to suspend all taxes and levies when the River Tigris dried out. Beihaghi’s History also recounts famine in 1032 A.D. when “rainfall abstained in most of the settled quarter, a dire famine came, and a universal cholera infected every soil”. Famine was said to be so severe in Khorasan that the survivors were unable to bury all of the dead.

Heydari (2005) goes on to describe a long chronology of famines in regions of Persia. For example, in Isfahan, numerous famines were recorded throughout history, including: 1051, 1192, 1350, 1668, 1708, 1722, 1723, and 1752. At the national level, the 1871-72 drought resulted in a famine that is claimed to be the deadliest disaster in the last two centuries. The famine took the lives of more than 1.5 million people across Iran. Most of the subsequent famines in 1885, 1899, 1900, 1903, 1906-7, and 1918 were also reportedly caused by drought and caused great social hardships for the people in the region.”

In 2012 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a special report called “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.” They take drought seriously–the word ‘drought’ occurs 717 times in the report.

In it they write “A changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration, and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events. Changes in extremes can be linked to changes in the mean, variance, or shape of probability distributions, or all of these. Some climate extremes (e.g., droughts) may be the result of an accumulation of weather or climate events that are not extreme when considered independently.”

They continue, “Global-scale trends in a specific extreme may be either more reliable (e.g., for temperature extremes) or less reliable (e.g., for droughts) than some regional-scale trends, depending on the geographical uniformity of the trends in the specific extreme. ”

Later they write, “There is medium confidence that some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts, in particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, in central North America and northwestern Australia.”

“There is medium confidence that droughts will intensify in the 21st century in some seasons and areas, due to reduced precipitation and/or increased evapotranspiration. This applies to regions including southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil, and southern Africa. Elsewhere there is overall low confidence because of inconsistent projections of drought changes (dependent both on model and dryness index). Definitional issues, lack of observational data, and the inability of models to include all the factors that influence droughts preclude stronger confidence than medium in drought projections.”

Syria is not observed to have experienced more intense or longer droughts. It is among the regions where stronger droughts are expected.

Syria’s problems stem from autocratic and opporessive government, the example of the Arab Spring that showed the possibility of political change, a doubling of population, the withdrawal of water from Turkey and ongoing religious tension.

Was drought a factor? Maybe at the margins. Was this drought caused by or intensified by climate change? It is impossible to say. Syria has had many droughts that were worse than the current one. It has had many droughts that lasted longer than the current one. Anyone who insists that anthropogenic climate change is a major factor in the Syrian civil war is using a different instrument to measure it.

dowsing1

 

 

Under The Dome

More than 100 million Chinese people watched this video before the censors took it offline.

As someone who lived and worked in China and who has reported on energy subjects for more than ten years, I can say that this video is honest, important and has the potential to change not just China, but all of the developing world.

If you’ve got the time go see it. I’m linking to the version on The Atlantic’s website because it has a good English translation and shows the whole documentary in one go.

Click here.

Impacts of Modest Global Warming

What will happen if our planet’s atmosphere warms 2 degrees Celsius during this century? I don’t know. I haven’t seen studies of warming to that extent (and I would welcome any links to studies that exist.)

global-warming-impacts

What we’ve seen is mostly media reports of what will happen if temperatures rise much higher and most of those reports are pretty over-dramatic. But a careful study of modest temperature rises would be useful–after all, even if temperatures do climb higher, they will pass through the 2C range and perhaps stay there for quite a while.

The impacts that I have seen discussed are mostly on an unspecified gradient, which may be the best climate science can do at present. At some point between temperature rises of 1C and 4C, disruptions of large scale weather phenomena, such as the monsoon cycle, are expected to occur. But we don’t know at what point.

Similarly, although CO2 helps plants to grow and to use less water, there is a drop off effect–after a certain point CO2 doesn’t help as much. At what level of warming will we see the break point for CO2?

We really haven’t seen the projected climate refugees or climate deaths so far this century, but I would tend to assume that the hiatus in global warming is at least one plausible explanation for our good fortune. But I haven’t seen a linking between specific levels of warming and deaths or conflicts. Is any warming certain to cause people to flee their homes due to drought, storm or flood? Is any warming enough to cause the next Syrian refugee crisis? Or are there threshold levels? If so, what are they?

Are impacts expected to be linear? Are there step changes? I’ve read all the IPCC reports and still don’t have an answer to any of these questions. Perhaps I read too casually. If so, again, please point out to me where I should continue my investigation.

This stuff matters.

Global Flooding Trends

Earlier this year I published my own ‘State of the Climate’ for 2014, looking at the global conditions for a variety of issues, for want of a better word, that have been projected to worsen due to climate change. The issues I previously examined were conflict deaths, overall climate deaths, climate refugees, recent trends in agricultural production, biodiversity (well, polar bear populations) and crude mortality indexes, and a look at trends for the planet’s major ice aggregations, sea level, major storms and drought. (I was unable to get to complete data sets for many of the indicators, showing some U.S. only figures and data for previous years for some categories.)

Before I turn to an examination of flooding trends, the quick summary of those previous posts is that if climate change is going to have an impact on any or all of these factors, it has not shown up yet in the data.

  • Conflict deaths have fallen by two different measures
  • The total number of refugees has risen, but they are pretty clearly conflict refugees, not climate victims
  • Polar bear populations appear to be in rude good health
  • Roger Pielke Jr. is right in saying that there is as yet no discernible climate signal in data regarding storms
  • Sea level is rising at 3 mm / year, (an increase from previous measurements of 2 mm / year. The current rate would amount to one foot of sea level rise this century if maintained
  • Arctic ice is one standard deviation below its 30 year average, while Antarctic sea ice is two standard deviations above.

However, complacency on the part of some due to this flow of encouraging news is perhaps unwarranted, as the most dangerous ‘natural disaster’ seems to be occurring more frequently and taking more lives. The region most affected is Southeast Asia.

flood-500-4

So, on to floods. As with drought, I am as yet unable to get data past 2009, so this is actually a review of part of what is called the ‘recent warming period’ that includes 14 of the 15 highest temperature years, all of which came after 2000.

Floods are the leading cause of natural disaster deaths worldwide and were responsible for 6.8 million deaths in the 20th century. Between 1980 and 2009 there were almost 540,000 deaths due to flooding. Part of the increased mortality (but certainly not all) is due to rapid population growth in areas vulnerable to flooding. Pakistan, which had severe flooding a few years ago, has grown in population from 32 million to 187 million when the flood occurred in 2010. Low lying coastal areas in SE Asia are perhaps the most vulnerable areas in the world–and that is precisely where populations have been increasing rapidly.

The Dartmouth Flood Observatory maintains a database that currently holds records for 3,704 significant floods worldwide from 1985 through August of 2010. (The DFO database provides a comprehensive list of flood events recorded by news, governmental, instrumental, and remote sensing sources from 1985 to 2009. Inclusion criteria are: significant damage to structures or agriculture, long intervals since the last similar event, or fatalities. Flooding specifically related to hurricane storm surge and tsunamis were excluded.)

The number of reported floods has increased dramatically. However, much of the increase is a statistical artifact due to increased availability of information–more floods are happening, certainly, but also more floods are being reported. I don’t want this to sound weaselly–floods are more common now than in the early 80s. But I don’t know how much more common.

Floods-figure-3-300x163

Source: http://currents.plos.org/disasters/article/the-human-impact-of-floods-a-historical-review-of-events-1980-2009-and-systematic-literature-review/

Looking at impacts for two periods–from 1985 to 2000 and from 1998 to 2009 (which is part of the period that has 14 of the warmest 15 years on record), we see:

Deaths 1985 – 1998 -246,077

Deaths 1999 -2009 – 374,324

The peak year between 1985 and 2009 for the global incidence of major floods was 2003, with 290 reported floods.

1985 – 69

1986 – 46

1987 – 46

1988 – 111

1989 – 111

1990 – 103

1991 – 124

1992 – 110

1993 – 99

1994 – 107

1995 – 110

1996 – 103

1997 – 156

1998 – 184

1999 – 101

2000 – 102

2001 – 170

2002 – 261

2003 – 290

2004 – 200

2005 – 167

2006 – 232

2007 – 244

2008 – 172

2009 – 167

 

There is a Consensus on Climate Change. There is also a Klimate Konsensus

Two reputable surveys (von Storch et al 2008 and Verheggen et al 2014) found that about 80% of scientists involved in climate science or closely related fields support a fairly narrow consensus–the obvious points being the operation of greenhouse gases and their ability to contribute a warming effect to the climate, and they agree that the recent warming period indeed had a contribution from human effects including massive emissions of greenhouse gases.

There however exists a Klimate Konsensus, a group of NGOs, social commentators and blog enthusiasts who are on a mission to elevate the importance of combatting climate change to the level of religious fervor.

Jekyll-and-Hyde-Speakoutloud.net_

The Klimate Konsensus has had little luck in alarming the public. The public agrees with the scientists about global warming–poll after poll shows this. But the public has rightly rejected the hair-pulling, screaming at the top of your lungs hysteria coming from the KK. Good for the general public!

The Klimate Konsensus is underhanded, goes for cheap shots and never admits error. They slime scientists on the other side. They insist that those in opposition are funded by fossil fuel interests. When that is shown not to be true, they change the argument and say opponents are using tactics and strategies stolen from the tobacco wars.

Consensus scientists mostly keep their mouths shut about all of this. Which shows that most scientists have good sense. They can see what has happened to the few scientists who have dared to step forward.

So, let’s offer a representative sample of Klimate Konsensus hooligans who have intruded on a scientific debate and turned the debate auditorium into a schoolyard after lunch brawl, complete with food fights.

Joe Romm of Climate Progress.

Josh Halpern, who blogs as Eli Rabett at Rabett Run.

Michael Tobis, who has returned to his blog Only In It For the Gold.

Tim Lambert of Deltoid.

In a lot of the media back and forth, there is an attempt to distinguish ‘real’ ‘sceptics’ from ‘phony’ ‘skeptics.’ That discussion is as political in nature as everything else in current discussions of climate change, adaptation and mitigation.

There are skeptics who are crazily wrong, politically motivated or who are clearly not the brightest lights in the building.

There are also Nobel prize winners, people who have spent their life advancing climate science and people who today are putting forward legitimate questions and offering reasoned objections to some of the malarkey being put out.

The real dichotomy is between the legitimate scientific consensus and a Krazy Klimate Konsensus attempting to piggyback on top of it for their own political reasons, to advance their own societal goals.

Nominate Judith Curry as the next Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change

Update: In the first 16 hours of this petition’s life, 525 signatures were obtained. The challenge from the administration is to get 100,000 signatures in 30 days, at which point they will ‘consider’ it. It’s  great progress for the first day–but there’s a long way to go. If you haven’t signed it, do so now. If you have, tell a friend. Heck, tell a fiend.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/nominate-judith-curry-next-chair-intergovernmental-panel-climate-change/2PYxtyQF

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

Nominate Judith Curry as the next Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organization created by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Programme, will elect a new chair this year. The post is currently being filled by an interim chair following the resignation of Rajendra Pachauri.

The United States has currently nominated Dr. Chris Field. We petition the current administration to withdraw his nomination and instead nominate Judith Curry.

Judith A. Curry is an American climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her integrity, understanding of the science and related policy issues make her a better choice, for the IPCC and American interests as well.

Published Date: Mar 04, 2015

SIGNATURES NEEDED BY APRIL 03, 2015 TO REACH GOAL OF 100,000

99,999

The Brigati Verde–How To Win A Klimate Konversation.

Update: In the comments section below there is a long discussion of Cook’s 97% ‘paper’. In the comments I rely heavily on material scraped from Poptech, Jose Duarte’s blog and Andrew Montford’s critique at the GWPF. Because commenting is quick and messy, I didn’t put the sources in as religiously as I ought to have. Sorry!

Billy Connelly is a very funny comedian from the UK. He’s really good.

He has an almost namesake in the climate world, William Connolley. He’s not funny at all. He runs a blog called Stoat (a weaselly type animal–I call him the Miserablist Mustelid in honor of his title). He’s one of three veterans of the Klimate Konsensus Team, joining Michael Tobis and Eli Rabett as hard-nosed enforcers of message purity and all-out war on opponents of their religion. Where the Brigati Rossi terrorized Italy for a decade, these three are key parts of the Brigati Verde, a green brigade of blog snipers, best at vitriol and doing anything to evade the weaker parts of the very real climate consensus, a consensus they claim to support but do nothing but undermine with their tactics.

Connolley yesterday had a post up and I was commenting there. He has the nasty habit of putting his comments in the middle of yours, and the nastier habit of eliminating comments he doesn’t like. Which he has done with me…(I don’t claim to be pure in this regard–I’ve banned two commenters and removed all their comments here, although I hope I had better justification than W.C., whose initials tend to express best my opinion of him.)

Connolley in one of his precious edits applauded another commenter’s claim that I never talk about the science. So I was surprised, to say the least, when another commenter (a certain Marco) asked me to show why I have such a low opinion of John Cook’s claim that 97% of climate scientists are on the side of the Klimate Konsensus–and Connolley vanished my comment down the memory hole:

..and Then There’s Physics

2015/02/28

Matt,
You might enjoy Tom’s recent “The perils of Great Causes” post which covers Peter Gleick and Al Gore and then ends with the classic

Oh for the days when we talked about science.

[I saw that. The mocking self-irony would be poetic, were it not unknowing -W]

 

  1. Marco

    2015/03/02

    Fuller, your “error” is the result of your willingness to accept any factoid that suits your beliefs and makes a good story. For example, I am certain you will never be able to provide any evidence that “Cook did cook the books”, but it fits what you already believe to be true. Since you generally cannot prove a negative, you can also maintain your belief that “Cook did cook the books”, because it is so much more easy to believe *that*, then to accept that the people you hang around with are wrong and contemptible human beings for making such false claims without evidence.

  2. #60Tom Fuller

    Taipei

    2015/03/02

    Marco (yawn)

    https://thelukewarmersway.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/cooking-the-consensus/

    “The ‘97% consensus’ article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It obscures the complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate in this country [UK] that the energy minister should cite it.”

    – Mike Hulme, Ph.D. Professor of Climate Change, University of East Anglia (UEA)

    And the comment that Connelly didn’t dare print?

    “Cook wrote on Skeptical Science, “We’re basically going with [a definition of] AGW = “humans are causing global warming” Eg [sic] – no specific quantification.” This is very different from what the IPCC says–that humans have caused 90% of global warming. This lower bar renders the conclusion almost meaningless.

    The Cook et al study data base has seven categories of rated abstracts:
    1. 65     explicit endorse, >50% warming caused by man
    2. 934 explicit endorse
    3. 2,933 implicit endorse
    4. 8,261 no position
    5. 53     implicit reject
    6. 15     explicit reject
    7. 10     explicit reject, <50% warming caused by man

    The highest level of endorsement–“Endorsement level 1, Explicitly endorses and quantifies AGW as 50+%.(human actions causing 50% or more warming)” was assigned by the raters to a grand total of 65 out of the 12,000 papers evaluated. This certainly is a weak finding. Even combined with level 2’s 934 papers it amounts to less than 10%.

    The Cook et al 97% paper included a bunch of psychology studies, marketing papers, and surveys of the general public as scientific endorsement of anthropogenic climate change.”

    So, Connolley, when you refuse to allow conversation about the data used in a peer-reviewed paper purporting to advance our understanding of climate science, you’re left–I surmise–with your toadies and a circle of jerks basically congratulating each other on the purity of your thoughts.

    Your blog’s motto is ‘Taking Science By The Throat.’ Perhaps I may speak on behalf of science and request that you quit squeezing.

Homilies and (ad) Hominems

I have recently published posts on a number of consensus ‘players': Most recently Rajendra Pachauri, accompanied by Naomi Oreskes, Jim Prall (inter alia), John Cook, Stefan Lewandowski, while earlier I wrote about Peter Gleick, Micheal Tobis and I’m sure I have criticized other members of the Klimate Konsensus within other posts.

Free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.
–Albert Camus (1913-1960) French novelist, essayist and dramatist

It would be nice to see something similar from the other side, a list of skeptical papers and skeptics, with quotes from them and quotes from those who dispute their findings and explain in a pithy paragraph why they are wrong. If climate change is the challenge of our century, surely something like this would be of use. It would at least offer the benefit of discussing science when we want to talk science and people when we want to talk people.

All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. we can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.
–William Bernbach, of DDB Needham Worldwide, 1989.

What I’ve found on the other side of the fence is the opposite of what I am hoping for.  DeSmogBlog maintains a database of ‘global warming deniers.’ It’s a hit list and a black list of political opponents to DeSmogBlog’s political position. It lists many scientists as climate deniers, so the overall logic of it escapes me. (“DeSmog does at least get its funding from only the highest moral authority, right? Well, wrong again. DeSmog was founded with $300,000 from its chief benefactor John Lefebvre. Lefebvre is a convicted Internet fraudster currently out on bail awaiting conviction after pleading guilty in the NETeller multi-million dollar online pay system scam”. – See more at: http://www.energytribune.com/6994/desmog-debunked#sthash.f5yk7lrw.dpuf)

But where I describe the objections I have to the people I write about, the DeSmogBlog database has entries like this, for their first victim, Arun Ahluwalia.

Stance on Climate Change

“Man indeed may be a pygmy before nature and incapable of causing or reversing a global warming or climate change. To err on the side of caution let us presume man may be contributing a minor fraction towards warming of the earth. The planet has a great resilience we must not however forget.” [3]

Key Quotes

“The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn’t listen to others. It doesn’t have open minds… I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists.” [4], [11]

Note that this quotation may have been used out of context to make Ahluwalia’s position more skeptical, as in his original speech (see here, beginning at 21:20) he mentions that we should remain “on the side of caution” with regards to the potential for climate change. [5], [6]

Pretty thin gruel as a base for equating a scientist with skinhead thugs who deny the Holocaust occurred. Especially one who has 29 published and peer-reviewed papers and 3 books to his credit.

Since the Klimate Konsensus (very different from the group that forms a consensus on climate science, the first group being wild-eyed alarmist thugs bent on stifling discussion, the second being the sober scientists trying to understand more about our climate and our effects upon it) have spent the better part of a week trying to cover up Rajendra Pachauri’s problems by hyperventilating about Willie Soon’s funding issues, I am curious if there does exist a list of people on the skeptic side who really have had their work investigated and, for want of a better word, ‘debunked.’  I have seen individual criticisms of individual papers, such as Lindzen’s ‘Iris Theory’, but is there a credible list from a credible source? (DeSmogBlog is apparently paid propaganda–if you object to Marc Morano, you should object equally to DeSmogBlog.)

I’ve written before that I would expect the level of skeptical science to be below that of the Consensus (not Konsensus–most of their work is pathetic). Mostly that’s because I broadly agree with the Consensus and the areas where skepticism can power investigatory research are not amenable to effective publications at this time.

The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
– Thomas Jefferson
letter to Edward Carrington, 1787.

But I don’t recall seeing a compendium of criticism of failed papers. Can anyone help me on that?

Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.”
–Voltaire
letter to M. le Riche, 6 February 1770, cited in A Book of French Quotations (1963),

The Fight Over The News Window–Willie Soon vs. Rajendra Pachauri

quote-reuben-blades

It’s pretty easy to identify those who have chosen sides in the climate wars. Those railing against Willie Soon for non-disclosure of funding sources have adopted the Consensus point of view, while those highlighting Rajendra Pachauri’s resignation on charges of sexual harassment are arrayed against the consensus.

Mainstream media are obliged to acknowledge what’s happening on the other side–The Guardian, a staunch defender of the consensus, did print a story on Rajendra Pachauri and Fox News has covered the Soon controversy. But story emphasis, sources quoted and number of pieces written (or broadcast) make it easy to see.

Bloggers are more transparent. We have been pretty much frozen into our positions for years and I can’t think of a single blogger who has changed their point of view since they began using Web 2.0 to put their ideas out there.

The same is (mostly) true of readers, of course. Those who come to the blogosphere without an informed opinion seem to make up their minds pretty fast and become fans of a certain circle of blogs.

As a Lukewarmer I’m somewhat distanced from the poles of opinion. I think every scientist should disclose funding sources, but at the end of the day it’s the science that matters–if it’s valid, it’s valid no matter who paid for it.

Sexual harassment needs to be treated severely–not because of it being the most heinous crime (surely murder, rape and robbery are worse) but because it is still so prevalent. Its corrosive effects on the victims can last for decades and many careers have been abandoned because of it. It is serious and when the powerful, such as Dominique Strauss Kahn and Rajendra Pachauri are charged with it, we need to make sure the charges are investigated thoroughly.

As it happens, I don’t think Willie Soon is right regarding the influence solar variation has on our climate. As it happens, I think Rajendra Pachauri should have been booted from office for earlier misdeeds and for inattention to the office he held.

As it happens, I think the media fuss over each of them tells us more about the media (and about us) than it does about Soon or Pachauri.

Which means we have all been sucked into another media moment of intense interest that will be forgotten by next week. Have I played a part in all this? yeah, I have. Sorry!

Explaining The Witch Hunt–It Has To Be Now

Dissent is terrorism

In April of 2007, The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Massachussetts in the state’s suit against the EPA, finding that greenhouse gases were a danger to Massachussetts, largely because of sea level rise. The EPA was compelled to regulate greenhouse gases. They lost the suit.

The EPA somewhat reluctantly took on its new responsibilities and has begun to enforce a number of regulations to limit or reduce CO2 emissions from power plants and vehicles, and to require states to develop action plans to fight emissions. A lot of legal to-ing and fro-ing has occurred in the country’s courtrooms since then and we should expect even more in the future.

However, some of what the EPA would like to do in President Obama’s remaining two years in office requires that certain benchmarks be met. That means the foundation has to be laid now so they can cite certain things as justification for regulations.

Levels of scientific agreement must be clear–dissent from respected scientists makes some regulatory actions challenge-able in court.

Some threat from global warming must constitute a clear and present danger to the health and safety of the country’s citizens. Extreme weather could constitute such a danger and actually it is the only postulated effect that could conceivably be related to the present day. Again, scientific challenges to the immediacy of the impacts of Xtreme Weather make the EPA’s task more daunting.

So when John Holdren attacks Roger Pielke Jr. regarding Pielke’s straightforward assessment that extreme weather events are not in fact detectable at present, it isn’t because of petulance or even malice. Pielke’s statements represent a potential obstacle to what the EPA has already decided to do.  At a minimum, Holdren needs to get his challenge in the media so the EPA can refer to it. At a maximum, Holdren would like Pielke to either recant or retire. And given Pielke’s recent statement that he may withdraw from research on climate issues, Holdren may be able to claim at least a partial victory.

Representative Grijalva’s witch hunt against 7 scientists who have published non-consensus findings on climate science is not just because of his beliefs or political stance. Again, the work done by folk  like Judith Curry on uncertainty threatens the legal standing for EPA findings and future regulations.

Finally, the EPA’s need for legal ‘facts on the ground’ to support further actions is apparent in the recent revival of questions about Willie Soon’s funding. These questions are not new–the were revealed in 2011 and discussed for years before that. Showing political funding for Soon’s science will allow them to ask a court to disregard it without examination. (For the record, I don’t believe Soon’s work would survive scientific examination–but that’s hardly the point.)

The EPA has been in a number of legal battles regarding the regulation of greenhouse gases. Their lawyers understand the value of having their arguments validated by people like John Holdren and having reputable opponents dissed in the media by those who support further EPA regulation.

One of those supporters of EPA regulation is myself. I believe strong regulation of coal power plants is in our best interest. I believe that good emission regulations for vehicles, especially commercial trucks, is also good for our health now and in the future.

However, the demonization of dissent is unconscionable. Holding a modern day witch hunt to further a bureaucracy’s attempts to advance an agenda (an agenda I broadly support) is not just Kafka-esque. It is an affront to the principles of democratic organization of the country’s affairs.

President Obama (who I strongly support–much more than I do EPA regulations) is constrained in his course of actions by the loss of both houses of Congress. Executive actions are the main instrument he can wield to advance his policy agenda. To a limited agree they can be a force for good. This is obviously not one of those cases.

To tear down the reputations of respectable scientists just to have a footnote in the records of the inevitable court actions regarding future regulations is unconscionable. The fact that these seven dissenters have a body of evidence to support their resistance to a rush to climate judgment isn’t a political inconvenience. It is something that the EPA, the administration and John Holdren should carefully consider.

Congressman Raul Grijalva’s Witch Hunt

Update: I now learn via Judith Curry’s blog that Pielke is not the only scientist being pursued. In addition to Pielke and Curry herself, David Legates, John Christy,  Richard Lindzen, Robert Balling,  Steven Hayward.

This is scary.

I am a registered Democrat most recently living in Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. I am more than a Democrat–I am a liberal progressive who supported Barack Obama (and who thinks he has done a very good job as president).

Some years ago I wrote an open letter to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli regarding his investigation of Michael Mann. I told him it was a witch hunt and that absent prima facie evidence of wrongdoing he had no business going after Mann, who is someone I have criticized for getting on for a decade.

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva is also a Democrat. Anything else we share is a mystery to me.

Witch Hunt

People get burned in modern times for being witches. McCarthyism is not such a distant memory. Persecuting scientists because you don’t like their science is not that old either–just ask about Lysenkoism, something that happened within living memory.

Grijalva is investigating 7 scientists including Roger Pielke Jr. to ascertain if they are receiving funding from sources Grijalva does not like. This is in the wake of the recent controversy over Willie Soon’s funding.

Apparently Grijalva has a particular dislike of scientists receiving funding from the Koch brothers. I assume physicist Richard Muller of BEST had best get his papers in order.

Pielke has already disclosed his funding to Congress. He receives no funding from fossil fuel interests. Even if he had received such funding, it is clear that he is being harassed because the data he presents to Congress is not welcome politically.

Pielke has researched the effects, incidence and impacts of large scale climate events. He has found consistently that, although he accepts the science of climate change, it is impossible to impute it as a cause for more or stronger weather disasters. And he is correct. Even the IPCC has said that extreme weather events would not start impacting our planet until 2030 in some cases and even later in others.

The fact that the data he presents to Congress is accurate seems not to matter. Pielke has blogged that he intends to drop all research related to climate issues.

Grijalva’s investigation is resulting in a defeat for science. It is a wicked act and a shame, not just for Democrats such as myself but for the country I love.

When Republican Cuccinelli did this I felt a little smug–my party would never stoop so low. Congressman Raul Grijalva is proving me wrong–Democrats can be as stupid, short-sighted and dirty as any other party.

This is a witch hunt. Representative Grijalva, call off your dogs. You make me ashamed of my political party.

The Peril of Great Causes

Update and correction: Several readers have pointed out to me that Al Gore was not arrested regarding his encounter with the Oregon masseuse. I regret the error.

As a Lukewarmer I cheerfully accept the science explaining how our high emissions of CO2 have contributed to the current warming period. As a liberal progressive I support large-scale (government and NGO) efforts to address the pressing problems of today. And as someone who has worked in the solar power industry and reported on green technology for over a decade, I believe that green energy can provide a partial solution to some of those problems.

But as a Lukewarmer I see flaws in what has become a Great Cause–to me it seems to often be an excuse for NGOs to ask the public for more money, for politicians to gain easy support and to replace the stock prayer from beauty pageant contestants for world peace.

Climate change is real. The political struggle over acknowledging the scope and impacts is full of unreality.

When a political cause gains traction among those in power, a curious thing happens. Conventional ideas about right and wrong slip in priority and winning becomes so important that criminal activity and sexual impropriety become forgivable by those in service to a Cause.

Addendum: I want to be clear that there are two dangers–it is a commonplace that power tends to corrupt and those who gain or seek power within any organization or group are susceptible–we’ve seen similar cases in politics, religion, lobbyists and NGOs. But the other danger is a relaxation of standards amongst the members of these organizations, a failure to hold their leaders to account, to excuse human frailty in a desire to advance a cause they believe in. This to my mind is more pernicious, as it affects so many more and is ultimately more destructive of worthwhile goals.

Peter Gleick stole documents and forged another to attack his political opponents. Despite the gravity of this crime he was welcomed back into the fold of those promoting worst-case scenarios about the impacts of climate change as if he were a hero, not a criminal. This is not unusual in political movements. The cause becomes more important.

 

Gleick

Al Gore was one of the first who promoted global warming as an imminent threat to human safety. His sybaritic lifestyle was evident from the first–private planes, living in a mansion, conspicuous consumption. None of that was sufficient to cause the Cause to disavow him. It still is unclear whether it was his arrest for pressuring a masseuse for sex encounter with a masseuse or his sale of his television channel to a fossil fuel organization was the cause of his fall from grace–but that fall was apparently temporary, as he still speaks on global warming before green groups the world over. The rules don’t apply.

And now it is the turn of Rajendra Pachauri. Women are now speaking of a decade-long pattern of sexual harassment. Even before this revelation, Pachauri was involved in misconduct, ranging from suppressing dissent to hiding the income from his foundation. He showed incredibly poor judgment in publishing a bodice ripper of a novel while head of an organization that had been criticized by the IAC–with many of those criticisms calling into question his leadership. But it doesn’t matter. He was a champion of the Cause.

Gore Pachauri

Currently, some bloggers and mainstream media sources are reviving decade-long questions about the funding of a scientist named Willie Soon, that he received funding from fossil fuel sources.

It doesn’t matter that institutions ranging from the CRU and Stanford University have received funding from fossil fuel sources, or that BEST’s Richard Muller actually got money from the Koch Brothers. It doesn’t matter that this information is old.

What matters for the Cause is that headlines of supposed misbehavior hit the news at the same time as Pachauri’s disgrace.

Because none of this is about science. It is about controlling the levers of power, making sure the right message is fed through the media channels and that funding for the right issues is uninterrupted.

Oh for the days when we talked about science.

Back to the cat fights

So what do you write about the day after you’ve written your “most important post?”

Sadly, it’s back to the observations of the foibles and idiosyncrasies of the Climate Elect, folk such as William Connolley, Eli Rabett and others who strain at gnats while swallowing camels.

camel

They have become obsessed with the funding of one Willie Soon, a scientist who has labored for years trying to show a clear correlation (and more than that, causation) between solar changes and climate changes. While I think he’s well off the mark, if he finds funding to pursue his line of research, best of luck to him.

But coincidentally, while Rabett and Connolley were writing multiple posts (joined in their outrage by the Guardian and other bastions of the Climate Consensus)  about the fact that Soon got funding from fossil fuel sources, another story was also in the news that they seem to have overlooked. In fact, one might wonder if they are deliberately focusing on the Soon story to paper over the other. Nah, that would never happen.

There are 187,000 links to the Google News search results for ‘Pachauri sexual harassment.’  One wonders what Rabett and Connnolley are reading?

Controversy over Willie Soon is not recent. The Climaterati have been witchhunting him for more than a decade. Over at Bishop Hill, the redoubtable Steve McIntyre comments,”As with Mann and Gavin Schmidt, you have to watch the pea with Russell Seitz.

Seitz writes: “12 other leading climate scientists wrote a blistering critique of Soon and Baliunas’ paper in Eos, the American Geophysical Union weekly condemning Soon & Co/s use of precipitation records to reconstruct past temperatures , a proxy they declared “fundamentally unsound.” in testimony before Congress.”

In fact, it was Mann – not Soon – who actually used “precipitation records” to reconstruct past temperatures. By yelling loudly, Mann and Seitz have tricked the public on this issue. In addition to precipitation proxies, Mann used actual instrumental precipitation records to reconstruct past temperature. Oddly, Mann’s geographic locations of his instrumental precipitation records were nearly all incorrect. Thus the rain supposedly located in Maine used the precipitation history from Paris, France. The precipitation record attributed to the Madras, India gridcell appears to come from Philadelphia.

Unlike Mann, Soon did not use precipitation to “reconstruct past temperature”, Soon examined precipitation proxies to see whether the 20th century levels were extreme (hockey stick shaped), concluding that they weren’t. Many of the proxies considered in Soon et al were later incorporated into proxy networks of Graham et al 2010, Seager et al 2007. The earliest draft of AR5, citing such studies, stated, using terminology reminiscent of Soon:

overall, multiple studies suggest that current drought and flood regimes are not unusual within the context of the last 1000 years

One of the single most despicable exchanges in Climategate in my opinion was Tom Wigley writing to Mann in the lead-up to the EOS 2003 article:

Mike, Well put! By chance SB03 may have got some of these precip things right, but we don’t want to give them any way to claim credit.

Wigley and Mann succeeded in that effort. Abetted by people Russell Seitz. The persecution of WIllie Soon by the academic community has been shameful.

There are further details on this persecution in the CG3 dossier that have not yet been publicized.”

The most important post I have ever written

So, okay. I got some blog notoriety for co-authoring a book with Steve Mosher about Climategate. I got a little more for being (I think) the first to point out that we have emitted about one third of all human emissions of CO2  since the start of the current (or recently concluded, depending on your point of view) pause in the increase of global average surface temperatures. But I’m never going to get rich or famous from my blogging activities–and that’s okay. I’m not doing this for fame or riches.

A lot of the time here I am busy tweaking the noses of the Climaterati, especially those who are outrageously wrong or who spectacularly misbehave. And it’s fun and I never seem to be at a loss for examples. It’s sort of a target rich environment.

But I’m an analyst at heart. And my analysis leads me to this post here: http://3000quads.com/2015/02/21/our-global-energy-future/

If you read nothing else I write, please read that post.

3000 Quads is the companion blog to The Lukewarmer’s Way. I have been trying for several years to make the point that we are sleepwalking into a future where we are burning 6 times as much energy in 2075 as we did in 2010, and that because we are not planning for it the odds are that we will be burning coal to get that energy.

I’m hoping someone will prove me wrong. I really am.

Coal

Pachauri and Sexual Harassment

On February 20th a 29-year old research analyst filed a complaint with the Delhi police alleging that Rajendra Pachauri engaged in a long series of sexual harassment activities. The Delhi police have registered a FIR (First Information Report) against Pachauri. The incident has been reported in two Indian newspapers, The Indian Express and The Economic Times.

Hall-of-Shame_zpsbbb7109e

Rajendra Pachauri is chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He’s 74 years old and is also former director general of a research organization called TERI and chancellor of TERI University in India.

He’s an engineer, not a scientist and was heavily pushed for the IPCC post by the Bush administration.

He is the author of Return to Almora, a romance novel published in 2010. The novel is in the form of the reminiscences of a retired bureaucrat, once an engineering student, about his spiritual and sexual past.

I have called for Pachauri’s resignation repeatedly, albeit for reasons totally unrelated to these charges. TERI had to resubmit their accounts for auditing after large sums of undeclared income were found to have been directed to the organization.

People might remember that the IPCC was involved in a controversy regarding Himalayan glaciers, which their 4th Assessment Report predicted would disappear in 2035, a mistake that they corrected when pointed out.

Pachauri was informed of the issue long beforehand, but ridiculed the scientist who informed him, saying he was practicing ‘voodoo science.’ However, the scientist was absolutely correct. Perhaps worse, Pachauri’s TERI was at the time bidding on a consulting job to study melting ice in the Himalayas. Although TERI won the bid, the contract was withdrawn, apparently due to the controversy.

If these latest allegations prove true, it is hard to see Pachauri finishing out his final year as IPCC chairman. Perhaps he can join Al Gore in the Hall of Shame for climate opportunists, under the category of sex offender.

New Voices

next-generation

Even before Climategate, defenders of the Climate Consensus cast around frantically looking for a narrative that would advance their cause in the eyes of the world. It intensified after the scandal.

They used polar bears, glaciers, the threat of malaria, the No Pressure video, the Amazon rain forest, the threat of agricultural decline in Africa and more. They blamed famine in Egypt on climate change. They blamed drought in Russia (and in Texas) on climate change. They blamed Sandy on climate change. They told skeptics ‘We know where you live.’

The death of Stephen Schneider and the semi-retirement of James Hansen left a blank space where science used to speak. And make no mistake about it, whether you agreed with those two or not, they were scientists and they were sorely missed.

Several people tried to claim the stage–and more importantly, the microphone–to hammer home the message. But each was brought down, pretty much due to flaws in their makeup as well as their message.

Al Gore got busted with a massage parlor lady. Peter Gleick got busted for theft and forgery. Joe Romm got more or less muzzled by the Center for American Progress due to increasing hysteria. Lewandowsky was exposed as a charlatan. Anderegg, Prall et al tried to game the system and John Cook tried to cook the books.

The needle of public opinion didn’t move. Yes, they do believe that global warming is real. No, they’re not very concerned about it. Every poll for a decade has reinforced those two findings.

Finally, however, there are new voices emerging, both in science and in the media. Brand new people like Tamsin Edwards. People who have been around but are finally acting with what suspiciously looks like wisdom, such as Richard Betts. On the opposing side, folks like Jose Duarte are examining the flaws in published papers, looking a bit like a young Mac in the making.

I have repeatedly written that the climate war is a 30-year war. We have come pretty close to the halfway point. It’s really heartening to see the next cohort of scientists and communicators have learned from both successes and failures.

It gives me hope that the next round will look more like a discussion than a food fight.

Who to believe? Tobis or your lying eyes?

After the recent resurfacing of the debate about using the word ‘denier’ to describe those opposing the Climate Consensus, many consensus advocates made gestures towards either abandoning the term in the future or at least agreeing on the corrosive effect the term has had on discourse.

The discussion was primarily held here and here. I posted on it here, but it didn’t generate much in the way of discussion.

However, Michael Tobis went further. He has abandoned the floundering Planet 3.0 and returned to his former blog Only In It For The Gold. He recently put up a post called ‘The D-Word and the S-Word’ where he unblushingly states that “I don’t usually call anyone a denier or a denialist by name, though I’ve been in a lot of internet arguments and may well have slipped up a time or two.”

Update: As a courtesy I thought I’d post a comment on his blog to let him know that I am criticizing him, but Tobis has blocked me from his blog.

I have a lot of history with Michael Tobis, mostly characterized by ill-feelings on both sides. Tobis had a habit of conducting sustained smear campaigns, first against scientists (Roger Pielke Sr. and Junior, Judith Curry), journalists (Andrew Revkin, Keith Kloor and myself when I was writing at Examiner.com) and of course bloggers–especially Steve McIntyre, Lucia Liljegren and Steve Mosher. Mosher was the target of one of the most profane (if unintentionally funny) posts I’ve ever seen on a blog. Tobis wrote it. He still seems proud of it, apparently not seeing the silliness of it. He’s also proud of the hatchet job he did on Judith Curry. Apparently calling her incompetent (without taking the trouble to read anything she published) is something that Tobis thinks took courage.

His favorite tactic in his smear campaigns was to make sweeping accusations (He accused me of not knowing anything about science, which stung a bit until I saw him make the same accusations of, well, scientists…) but he never would specify any point that his targets were guilty of.

For example, with Judith Curry he wrote “We have reached a point where it is impossible to judge that Curry is in touch with the science that she is supposed to be a prominent participant in. So has she lost touch, or has she never had much scientific insight to begin with? That’s the only question any of this burbling raises.”

But in the next paragraph he wrote, “On the other hand, to be honest no paper of hers has ever come across my radar in anything I’ve investigated.”

who-you-gonna-believe-me-or-your-lying-eyes-3

As I was a frequent commenter at his blog in its heyday, his walking away from the D-Word did not really strike me as true. I vividly recall one exchange at his blog:

Blogger Tom said…
What many of us hear: … ‘You are the scummy equivalents of skinheads who deny the Holocaust ever occurred.’

January 12, 2011 at 3:37 PM Delete
Blogger Michael Tobis said… Right, Tom, that’s, um, the point.

So I thought I’d play a little game. The rules of the game were:

Find instances of Tobis using the word ‘denier’ or one of its variants.

Time limit: One hour

Only Tobis’ writing–no quotes of others using the term.

Search limited to Only In It For The Gold–no tracking down comments on the many blogs Tobis has ranted at.

Results of a one-hour search at Only In It For The Gold follow:

Update: Don’t miss Sou’s comment #15 at the Shewonk thread on the delicate balancing act of the denier sites. I hadn’t thought of this. It argues against participating.

Blogger Tom said…
What many of us hear:

(equations, rhetoric, hysteria, etc.)… ‘You are the scummy equivalents of skinheads who deny the Holocaust ever occurred.’

January 12, 2011 at 3:37 PM Delete
Blogger Michael Tobis said…
Right, Tom, that’s, um, the point.

January 12, 2011 at 3:53 PM

I believe that climate denialism is a social, not an intellectual or philosophical, movement.

Post title: What Deniers Hear

Bell uses the key technique that denialists use in debates, dubbed by Eugenie Scott the “Gish gallop”, – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/01/forbes-rich-list-of-nonsense/#sthash.uFgMvPwW.dpuf

“Skeptic” is hardly the name for this! “Denier” or “denialist” really isn’t bad, but in addition to rubbing some people wrong, it doesn’t capture the mindboggling recklessness of their activities.

If I bend over backwards to treat the deniers with respect on the grounds that there might be a few genuine skeptics in their ranks, meanwhile looking under every rock for any point of disagreement with people who have their heads screwed on right, my site starts to look like, well, Judith Curry’s.

It is one thing to engage, carefully and consciously. It’s another to butter up the lazy denialists and bash the diligent efforts of genuine scientists.

Remember the story on here about how the denialists made a big fuss about something perfectly reasonable

Denialist websites issue headlines like
Greenpeace Leader Admits Organization Put Out False Global Warming Data

Post Title Spot the Denier Bug

Find a typical article on a typical denialist site, and spot the biggest error!

RC has been able to generate rapid responses to denier pseudoscience

One thing an anti-Morano would do would be just to monitor Morano and take advantage of his efforts as an early-warning system for new denialist nonsense.

Morano is taking his nomination as chief denier literally

Post Title: The Opposite of Denialism

OK, the new meme among the denialists is that the tide is with them,

I don;t think this is what the denialists have in mind when they ask me what would “falsify the hypothesis”.

The denialists have picked it as one of their favorite refutations but it really doesn’t refute much of anything.

The author of the denialist-celebrated point of view, by the way, has also written a brief celebration of what he calls “post-autistic economics”,

No question that a full-blooded GCM is not for amateurs, but with this much at stake you’d think the denial camp

The article is rife with the usual denialist sleight of hand and drivel, but it is not at all clear that the author is insincere.

but it’s still frequently brought up by the do-nothingists (who don’t like to be called denialists but don’t deserve to be called skeptics).

OK, we really need a name for those people that is less respectful than “skeptic” and more so than “crypto-Nazi”, even though the latter, as an interpretation of “denialist”, is a specious back-formation.

one of the most irritating aspects of denialism

The CIA Funding Geoengineering Studies–What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

One of the reasons I’ve taken up the blogging cudgels again is that I’m in Taipei, Taiwan for a while and have free access to the internet after escaping The Great Firewall of China. Here’s a quote from a story published in the Taipei Times today:

“Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has called on secretive government agencies to be open about their interest in radical work that explores how to alter the world’s climate.

Robock uses computer models to study how stratospheric aerosols can cool the planet in the way massive volcanic eruptions do.

He is worried about who would control such climate-altering technologies should they prove effective, he told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose, California.

Last week, the National Academy of Sciences published a two-volume report on different approaches to tackling climate change. One focused on means to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the other on ways to change clouds or the Earth’s surface to make them reflect more sunlight out to space.”

Now, I suppose the CIA might say (and even believe) that understanding the consequences of other people’s attempts to change the client is a national security interest. They might even say (and even believe) that preparing for such actions by hostile actors is important. Okay, granted.

But what scares Alan Robock and makes me more than a little nervous is the possibility that the CIA might look at geoengineering as a tool they can employ against those they consider enemies.

Contemplating geoengineering as a potential weapon to destabilize the climate of enemies real or perceived is scary, if probably premature.

Legacy of Ashes

Most criticism of the intelligence community focuses on their failures to predict important developments in the world, such as 9/11. However, arguably more important is the failure of their active attempts to shape the world.

The CIA, which has organized plots to interfere with governments from Iran to Nicaragua, has often approached destabilization a bit casually, with apparently little thought given to the effects of such programs on either the current population or knock-on effects that are the consequence of such efforts.

Writers like Stephen King have produced lots of fiction about ambitious government programs that went awry, such as King’s The Stand. But we really don’t need to look to fiction.

The Bay of Pigs went wrong in the 60s. Even before that, a CIA attempt to assassinate the Syrian leadership not only failed, it got the station chief arrested and interrogated. The CIA thought the best strategy in Iraq to counter increasing Soviet influence was to support the Baath Party. Arming the rebels to fight the Russians in Afghanistan probably seemed like a good idea at the time–but the consequences later were disastrous.

I’m not against intelligence gathering. Nations need to know what other nations are doing in secret. (However, active attempts to change the course of events usually end in tears.)

I’m not against studying geoengineering. We may find it necessary to modify some of the major processes shaping our climate–if not in response to the current warming period, perhaps we will need it for future climate change in other directions.

But the two don’t mix. Intelligence agencies are by nature focused on current problems. Their solutions last much longer. And changing the climate could be a very long term effect that lasts close to forever.

Position Statement

Update: I also write on similar matters at 3000 Quads.

Over at Climate Etc., Judith Curry is asking frequent visitors to describe their background and evolution of attitudes towards climate change. This is following Paul Matthews paper on the backgrounds of frequent visitors to Jeff Id’s blog The Air Vent. (Which started following a comment from the wonderful and now absent Kendra on a guest post that I wrote at TAV long ago.)

OurGangPic

I won’t do that here–traffic is too spotty and I feel I already know all the regulars. Oh–okay, if you want to, do so in the comments.

I’m posting what I wrote at Judith’s here. The moral of my story is Stay In School. Anybody under the age of 80 reading this–go back and get the degree. No excuses.

“I started off as a skeptic. My skepticism was a reaction to the horrible behavior by some of those in the climate community (starting off with the hounding of Lomborg) and their transparent scare tactics, from doomsday imagery to incendiary labeling to hysterical exaggeration.

I have since moved to my current Lukewarmer status, as good people (mostly but not all) in the blogosphere walked me through various elements of the science and answered a host of questions. I have no issues with the science, although it’s clear many questions still need to be answered. My continued participation in the climate conversation is focused on attribution, adaptation and impacts–and the nature of the debate itself.

Skeptics, although I consider them off base with regards to much of the science, are essentially taking brass knuckles into a knife fight. The climate consensus is playing with big budgets, close connections and no scruples in a struggle to control the language and grammar of the debate. The real struggle is political, not scientific. Scientists who have focused on WG 1 issues are doing good work in framing boundaries and I think finally we will see saner descriptions of atmospheric sensitivity and attribution of anthropogenic contributions other than CO2e gases.

But NGOs and a complaisant media are decidedly ahead on points with regards to the iconography, labeling and deligitimization of their opponents. As an illustration, Al Gore and Peter Gleick are still being listened to with regards to climate change despite offenses which would disqualify them from public discourse in almost any other field.

As for my background, I was educated in electronics and physics by the U.S. Navy (to what they claim is degree level) and studied anthropology during a brief spell at university, but left without taking a degree, one of my major regrets.”

Conflict Deaths and Global Warming

It has been claimed for more than a decade that global warming will contribute to increased conflict, primarily due to competition for scarce resources.

Global warming has been blamed for the Arab Spring, the current conflicts in Syria and Sudan, etc. They haven’t said anything about what’s going on in the Ukraine yet. A paper published in PNAS in 2009 bluntly declared that “Warming Increases The Risk of Civil War in Africa.”

The problem is that the conflicts that are cited as examples of the phenomenon are located in areas known for both frequent conflict prior to the current warming period and for historical patterns of extreme climates similar to those seen today. Attribution is everything. If places with frequent droughts have frequent conflicts, you might be able to make the case that more (and stronger) droughts will lead to more conflict. But you would have to be very careful with the numbers.

When Egypt experienced its short-lived version of the Arab Spring, people attributed it in part to climate change causing food shortages. A bit of closer examination showed that their agricultural output had increased during the years before the conflict–that perhaps population growth was a more effective explanation.

Similarly, looking at climate change as a primary contributor in Sudan, given the civil unrest, religious differences in regions, competition over large oil resources, etc., seems a bit unwise. It also would be a bit foolish not to look at the historical periodicity and intensity of drought in the region–the same being true in Syria and other places.

Some of those who have written on the subject have been suitably cautious, saying that global warming may have been a contributor along with many other factors.

However, others have been more simplistic–perhaps far too simplistic. In 2007, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region as the world’s first climate change conflict. He was not alone. Rebecca Solnit’s article in the Guardian is headlined, “Call Climate Change What It Is: Violence.”  Tom Friedman wrote about climate change as one of the causes of conflict in the Middle East, but apparently didn’t read one of the experts he quoted in the article. “Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, the executive director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development in London, writing in The Beirut Daily Star in February, pointed out that 12 of the world’s 15 most water-scarce countries — Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Israel and Palestine — are in the Middle East, and after three decades of explosive population growth these countries are “set to dramatically worsen their predicament.”

One of the problems is that both conflict and weather extremes are rare, so looking at regional patterns can’t provide adequate numbers to justify authoritative pronouncements.

So let’s look globally. The current warming period had a strong period of temperature climbs from 1976 through the present, with many claiming that 2014 was the warmest year on record. And it does seem clear that 14 of the warmest 15 years in the past 500 occurred since 2000.

What has happened to conflict during this period? Here is a chart that shows conflict from 1946 to 2013.

Conflict trends

 

Here is what happened to temperatures:

temperature anomalies

It is difficult for me to spot a positive correlation between rising temperatures and armed conflict.

What about deaths in conflict? This chart shows trends:

2007HSBrief_fig3_2-ReportedBattleDeathsStateBasedConflicts

Again, deaths begin to decline around 1987.

How about extreme weather occurrences? Here is the chart Joe Romm uses:

number_of_disasters

Here,the number of ‘disasters’ started to rise in 1990, just as the number of conflicts started their dramatic fall.

It would appear to me that those believing that climate change is a contributor to conflict may be intuitively making sense, but they do not appear to have numbers on their side.

I’ll leave you with a quote from a very interesting paper, Global Trends In Armed Conflict, published by the Center For The Study Of Civil War:   “Promoting economic growth and diversification is the best long-term strategy for reducing the risk of conflict. Natural resource-based growth requires very good resource revenue management to have positive political effects. “

Geoengineering

It’s hard to argue with the recommendation from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences–that we should study methods of artificially cooling the climate, but certainly not rush into any actual efforts to do so.

That’s certainly what I think is a prudent course of action. If climate change turns out to be (I made this up) worse than we thought (what do you think of that as a catchphrase?) we may need all the arrows we can fit in our quiver.

geo-engineering

Some of the reactions I’ve read seem a bit hysterical. For example, “Marcia McNutt, editor of the journal Science and former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, said in an interview that the public should read this report “and say, ‘This is downright scary.’ And they should say, ‘If this is our Hail Mary, what a scary, scary place we are in.'”

Michael Mann weighed in as well: “Such an idea “could do far more harm than good” and scientists should treat the Earth like doctors do their patients, abiding by the rule “first, do no harm,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann.”

Ray Pierre-Humbert said the idea was utterly, howlingly, barkingly mad and that developing albedo modification technology would be like giving a loaded gun to a child.

Al Gore called the idea “nuts” in 2013 and a lot of people who spend a lot of time telling us how bad climate change is going to be really, really don’t like geoengineering.

There’s no doubt that it would pose a risk–it might not work. It might work too well. There is the possibility of unintended consequences.

Which is why it’s smart to study it. To condemn it beforehand is just another roadblock–it seems as if they want climate change to remain forever a ‘wicked’ problem without a solution.

But global warming is only a wicked problem if we take all the solutions off the table. We could drastically reduce our impact on the climate by building enough nuclear power plants and converting our cars to electric. But nuclear cannot even be mentioned as a solution. Hydroelectric power and natural gas are considered just as evil. And now geoengineering is something we cannot even contemplate.

Which of these ‘cures’ is worse than the disease?

The C Word

Since I recently wrote about the D word (denier), it’s only fair that I follow up writing about the C word.

Like many who are labeled ‘deniers’, I have  no problem accepting the physics of climate change. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, add more of it you tend to push temperatures up. We’ve added a lot recently and temps have gone up. There is an anthropogenic component to the greenhouse gases and I think we’re responsible for a goodly bit of the warming we have seen–and that we will see in the future.

I also think that temperature rises past a certain point (and in a telescoped time frame) will pose a problem for us. Well, by ‘us’ I mostly mean developing countries that won’t have the money to prepare for or adapt to the effects of climate change. Sea walls and such are expensive.

However, in gracious and polite conversations with those who are part of the climate (No, not that C) consensus (not that C either), they get almost as miffed as I do when they use the D word. Because I tell them that although I accept the findings of science, I see no indication that anthropogenic contributions to global warming will lead to a catastrophe. There. That’s the C word.

Catastrophist

When I write about CAGW, I am referring to statements (mostly by politicians, lobbyists and NGOs) that predict or imply a real catastrophe happening on this our only planet due to global warming. Sea level rise, dramatic rise in surface temperatures, failure of agriculture or water supplies, dramatically increased number and strength of storm, drought and flood.

I do believe that sea levels will rise, temperatures as well and that there will be more and stronger storms, droughts and floods. But I don’t think any of it will be beyond our current (let alone our future) capabilities to deal with.

We could have dealt with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 using only the technology and forecasting available then. We chose not to do our best in preparing for it–I hope we’ll choose differently next time.

In this period where CAGW advocates are prematurely announcing the arrival of Xtreme Weather, talking about 1,000 year events every week, we have set records in agricultural production, reductions in the rate of mortality, morbidity and poverty–imagine where we’d be if there were no Xtreme Weather….

Many members of the Consensus are not in accord with those who are at the extreme. ( The same is true for the opponents of the consensus–for example, I’m no fan of Monckton of Blenchley, or whatever he’s calling himself now.) But unlike what I just wrote, members of the Consensus operate by Reagan’s 11th Commandment–which was never to speak ill of a Republican. Just change the name and you’ve got their strategy.

But the metamorphosis in conversations happens all too frequently. A polite disagreement on the utility of some policy or preparation suddenly transforms into ‘how do we prepare for 3 meters of sea level rise?’ To answer ‘ well, why should we when nobody thinks it’s going to happen’ typically starts a war.

So what do we do about the C word? If those supporting the Consensus feel insulted by it, I guess in all fairness we should find another term, as we are asking them to do with denier. I don’t know. What do you think of Outlier?

The Western Antarctic Ice Sheet

One of the primary threats of global warming/disruption/climate change is dramatic sea level rise over a short time span. This would be caused by sudden melting or disintegration of one of the world’s great ice sheets–Greenland, the Eastern Antarctic Ice Sheet, the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet or the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The first two  aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Greenland sits in a bowl and even the scientists most worried about its future say it would take more than a millenium to actually melt. The great Eastern Ice Sheet is huge, growing and stable. The Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet is subject to the vagaries of both weather and climate change, but is too small to pose a major threat. If it melted completely, sea levels would rise by 0.24 meters.

However the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is considered unstable and may pose a threat to us. If all of  it were to disintegrate and move into the ocean, sea levels could rise as much as 16 feet. To be honest, though, scientists are more worried that specific sections of it might break off into the sea (with a projected 4-foot sea level rise), and by ‘sudden’ scientists mean over the course of a couple of centuries, which is some relief.

waisschem_0

This is a real possibility. So, is it time to hang all those fossil fuel executives yet, for crimes against humanity?

Well, no. People have been speculating about the threat posed by the WAIS since 1925, when The Geographic Journal published The Ross Barrier And The Mechanism Of Ice Movement, sparking an academic discussion that spanned a decade in a number of journals by a number of authors. None of them discussed climate change. What is possibly going to happen to the WAIS has happened over and over again.

Of course, the same people who link climate change to everything do say climate change is speeding up the disintegration of the WAIS. And they may have a point. If climate change is warming the waters that sweep through the bottom of the WAIS, it could be speeding it up. It’s also a real possibility.

So it’s a real shame that the alarmist community has shredded its credibility with me by linking global warming to foolishness ranging from Xtreme Weather to Himalayan glaciers that were said to disappear by 2035.

And this is what infuriates me. I’m not a skeptic of global warming. In theory, I should be on the side of scientists like Michael Mann, Trenberth, Santer and James Hansen.

So instead of manning the ramparts and trying to figure out what we might be able to do to lower eventual warming, I’m scratching my head wondering what to do with…just…another…claim.

Is it as true as this? “Over 4.5 Billion people could die from Global Warming-related causes by 2012. Runaway Global Warming promises to literally burn-up agricultural areas into dust worldwide by 2012, causing global famine, anarchy, diseases, and war on a global scale as military powers including the U.S., Russia, and China, fight for control of the Earth’s remaining resources.”

It’s a travesty.

It is possible that our contributions to global warming could accelerate the collapse of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet and that our great grandchildren have something very real to worry about. And  yet, because of the hysteria strewn about so casually by NGOs, media types and lobbyists–and a few scientists as well, although most are properly conservative and quiet–I don’t trust their statements. But in the back of my mind I do remember…

quote-even-a-stopped-clock-is-right-twice-a-day-marie-von-ebner-eschenbach-55457

 

 

Who Is Winning The Climate War?

…and how would we know?

cagematch

A majority of the public in most countries believes that man-made climate change is real and apparently would like their governments to do something about it.

According to a recent NY Times poll, 81% of Americans believe climate change is caused by human activity. That’s up from 72% in 2011.

Big win for the Consensus.

However, climate change does not appear to be a big concern for Americans, who placed it next to last on a list of issues they worry about.

Big win for the skeptics.

But looking at public opinion may not be the best way to judge winners and losers.

Australia and Canada have both walked back from strong commitments on emissions. But the UK has doubled down and wants to get greener even quicker.

However, those three countries amount to an asterisk for CO2 emissions and will be an even smaller asterisk in the future.

The top 5 CO2 emitting countries are China, the U.S., India, Russia and Japan. They account for 58% of current emissions and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, they will account for 61% of the much larger total of emissions expected in 2040. (The second five emitters account for about 10% of the total.)

Over at my other blog (3000 Quads–check it out) I have just analyzed the energy future for India and China and come to the sobering conclusion that despite their ambitious plans for green energy, hydro and nuclear, both countries will still be very dependent on coal–almost as dependent in 2040 as they are today.

China’s dependency on coal will drop–but only from 69% to 65%. The same is roughly true of India. And they’re building the coal plants to deliver it today, even if all the headlines are about dams they’re building and nuclear power plants coming on line.

So, at the end of the day, no matter who wins the debate, we’re all going to be losers. If the CO2 don’t get us, the pollution will.

Why are we blaming solar customers instead of the utilities?

Recently I’ve seen discussion of the price non-solar residences have to pay to support those who have solar panels on their rooftops. Judith Curry links to this story and here on a previous post a couple of commenters expressed their displeasure.

The conversations make it sound as though greedy rich solar power homeowners are cackling with glee because utilities are charging their poorer non-solar homeowners for some of the utility’s costs associated with dealing with solar power

And it is true that some utilities tried (and mostly failed) to tack on a surcharge for grid connections for solar. When that didn’t work they just said they would raise rates on all customers to compensate themselves for the extra work involved in measuring and paying for microgrid solar.

But that was never part of the discussion when people started putting solar on their homes. The utilities waited 30 years before bringing it up, much the same way airlines waited until deregulation before they got the bright idea of charging for luggage.

Look–do electricity rates go down when the price of fossil fuel declines? Nope. For that matter, do electricity rates ever go down? Like telephone minutes on a prepaid card that expire every month, it’s something the company thinks they can get away with.

It’s clever for utilities to blame those with solar homes for the tragedy of charging their customers higher prices. And it’s even cleverer to introduce a little class warfare into it, insinuating that the richer solar home owners are slyly gouging their poorer neighbors without solar.

But this is a decision made by the utility. For the utility. They don’t reveal their costs for dealing with microgrid electricity. They don’t reveal manhours, paperwork, bureaucracy, anything.

People who are skeptical of bureaucracy in general are all of a sudden believing this sly story. I wonder why?

Utilities

Let It Go

Once again discussion has erupted in the climate blogosphere about the appropriateness of the term ‘denier’ as used by advocates of the Consensus position about their opponents. Science of Doom started the ball rolling, after which it got Keith Kloor to write a post on his Discovery Blog. After which HotWhopper wrote a spirited, if somewhat incoherent defence of using the term and I guess now it’s my turn.

Denier is a political term, not a description. I have seen physicists with 250 published papers to their credit classed as ‘deniers’, as well as luminaries such as Freeman Dyson, Ivar Giaevar, Judith Curry, John Christy, Richard Lindzen and others. It is obvious that they don’t deny climate science, as most of them have helped make it. So why the term?

Here’s what I wrote over at Science of Doom: “Using the ‘d’ word was a political alternative to engaging with the opponents of the consensus.

When veterans of the tobacco wars advised allies that debating climate science was a losing strategy, it left them with few alternatives to one-way messaging.

Broadcasting messages proved difficult, especially as many of the messages were not crafted by scientists. After some errors had to be acknowledged in vehicles such as An Inconvenient Truth, for example, green NGOs began creating and financing campaigns, as if climate science were a consumer product. This led to imagery such as polar bears on ice floes, close-up pictures of mosquitos, Amazon rainforests being cut down, etc. Later these were joined by more bizarre examples such as the No Pressure video.

But because they were one-way messages, those employing this strategy found it difficult to respond to those on the other side of the policy fence. Often(not always) the consensus team was right on the facts of a particular issue, but couldn’t organize a one-way message in real time.

One of the strategems to bulwark their decision not to engage with opponents was deligitimizing them. We see the results today.

It was not just the use of the ‘d’ word, by the way. Another tactic was pointing out the age of the scientists who spoke out against the consensus, using things like ‘gone emeritus’ etc.

Another was the use of carefully crafted literature searches to create the impression of an overwhelming consensus–the 97%, as opposed to merely the 81% that is closer to the truth. Oreskes, Prall, Cook–all of their signature pages were based on research designed to ignore relevant work by their opponents, not measure it.

To be clear–it is not scientists at fault for this strategy. A group of politically concerned activists took the microphones out of the hands of scientists and began insulting their opponents instead of discussing the science.

I would ask scientists (I’ve said all this to Bart Verheggen at his place of business) if it is not time to reclaim the microphone, ‘thank’ the activists for their efforts and ask them to leave the stage.”

The real argument in a nutshell can be summarized quickly at Keith Kloor’s post:

“Denier” is an accurate word for them. Why can’t it be used

  • Go ahead. Knowingly using a word like this that you know may be offensive to someone says a lot more about you than it does about them.

    Sadly, it doesn’t stop there. So I’ll give my advice to members of the Consensus who really, really want to link their opponents to skinhead thugs who deny the Holocaust occurred–but I’ll make it a bit difficult for them, as they annoy me:

 

Solar Power 2014–Still Growing, Still Niche

If lily pads on a pond double the area they cover every day, and it takes 48 days to cover the pond, how long does it take them to cover 50% of the pond? (Answer at the bottom.)

The world is still looking for cost-effective substitutes for fossil fuels. Popular opinion still is heavily against nuclear, and environmental advocates still lobby against hydroelectric installations–at least in the developed world. (They don’t like it in emerging countries either, but they don’t get listened to quite as much down south.)

What’s available is wind, biofuels and solar. Wind and biofuels are stuck in controversy, so what is acceptable is solar.

Solar is hampered by its intermittent nature, unable to dispatch energy 24/7.

However, despite its cost and intermittency, solar power continues to grow. This actually seems to frustrate those who rely on free market economic theory, as they don’t understand why people buy solar installations for their rooftop when it is more expensive than other sources of energy. They don’t seem to understand that there are more signals in a free market than price. Solar can be a vanity purchase, a hedge, a political signal a Veblen good–all of these can explain many of the purchases of solar power.

In 2014 global solar installations grew by 20%, to 42 GW, certainly not solar’s best year. Those installations, when added to those of previous years, mean that solar power is making a contribution to global totals. However, despite impressive growth, it is still an asterisk in world energy consumption.

global-solar-PV-capacity-growth

Solar can show impressive curves when measured by itself. But when you look at global totals it is not so impressive.

World_energy_consumption_by_fuel.svg

 

Solar power continues to get cheaper. Five years ago the average household income of a household buying solar was $150,000. Now households earning half that can think about solar if they choose.

Slide 1

 

Solar is still more expensive than the alternatives, however, when you look at the Levelized Cost Of Energy.

Q2-2013-global-Levelised-cost-of-electricity-Graphic-WEC

So, assuming that solar power grows at 20% a year, driven by falling prices, environmental concerns and rising utility costs (which seem to pay no attention at all to the cost of fuel), what will solar look like in the near term future?

Solar power provided about 2% of all renewable energy in 2013, or about 1.12 quads. If it continues to grow at 20% a year (which is slower than the rate at which it grew in the past two decades) its delivered energy will amount to:

2020: 4 quads

2025: 10 quads

2030: 25 quads

2035: 61 quads

2040: 153 quads

2050: 952 quads

Sure hope it works out that way.

Answer: 47 days

EEWhiteLilyPadPond_lg

Surviving Peak Population In Style–The Magnificent Seven

One of the primary drivers of climate change is population change. The world’s population is increasing–this causes us to grow more crops, cut down more forests, build more dams and burn more fossil fuels, emitting more black carbon to sit on the snows up North and down South. Whether you think any of these factors is more important than the others, humans impact the climate and more humans will impact it more.

Over at Judith Curry’s blog, Planning Engineer has a useful post that segments potential attitudes towards climate or energy policies. I recommend it highly. This post is an attempt to reconcile the different perspectives.

Thankfully population is expected to peak this century and then decline slightly. The UN revised both the time of this peak and the total peak population, but even so, at some point between 2075 and 2100 the human population will most likely reach its top number, between 9.5 and 10.5 billion souls.

The IPCC has written in the past that they expect emissions to peak around 2100, although I’ll have to look for a reference and supply the link after I finish this. (Well, you can start here: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg3/en/ch3s3-3-5-1.html)

Our challenge here in 2015 is to chart a course that gets us to the peak of population and consumption/emission in good shape. What does that entail?

  1. Working with the developing world to lift the standard of living of all the people. This is our primary responsibility, both ethically in recognition of the worth of human life in 2015 and as preparation for the challenges through 2100.
  2. Identifying a path to success–for energy, CO2 emissions, food and water sources, pollution reduction, biodiversity and more. This has to be an integrated approach, as each element impacts all the rest.
  3. Creating consensus. There is no point being alarmed about future temperature rises if you have already vetoed the energy sources that can address CO2 emissions. There is no point in defending the sanctity of either the forests or the oceans if you do not work hand in glove with those utilizing technology to improve agriculture (yes, I’m talking about GMOs, among other factors). There will not only be politics–we will have to resurrect respect for and pride in politics and politicians. (Which may involve getting new politicians…)
  4. Setting benchmarks. As opposed to creating targets from central planning politicians, we will need to spend money identifying best practices and holding them up as examples to the world. (I submit to you that those best practices already exist today.)
  5. Allocating resources. There is no sense in telling Nigeria to simultaneously end their resource addiction to oil–oil that causes corruption, stagnation in the rest of the economy, civil strife and ground pollution–unless we are willing to commit time, energy and money to helping them do this. (As noted in point 4, other countries have successfully done this.)  There is no sense in telling Delaware that they should have some level of renewable energy generation unless we assist in creating the infrastructure (including funding) to help them get on the same road as Rhode Island.
  6. Rewarding winners, helping stragglers. We now pay African leaders $5 million USD if they leave office peacefully at the end of their term. It works. A sustainability fund that rewards progress would also work (Yes, there would be gaming of the system, corruption, false claims, etc. But it would still work.) A second fund set up to help straggling nations or regions achieve benchmarks would also work.
  7. Continuing research. It is time to shift from spending so much time measuring one particular aspect of the problem (effects of CO2) and to start funding research into solutions. Reduction of black carbon particles. Provision of denser fuels to rural households in India. Understanding which of the many reforestation programs is most effective. A deeper understanding of human impacts on biodiversity (yes, including coral reefs)

I’ve no doubt I have left many things out–and hopefully you will bring them to my attention.

It is my sincere hope that I will have time to actually propose concrete methods to address each of these 7 points.

My starting thesis is that (I hope) most people want future generations to look back at our lives and think of us as well, heroes who rose to a challenge and sacrificed to meet it, overcoming real doubts, disagreements and past fights and preconceptions to do so.

Discussing Global CO2 Emissions

To follow on and extend the discussion started yesterday, here is some interesting data taken from CDIAC. I posted earlier on my companion blog 3000 Quads that while climate change is surely a global issue, fixing it is not. The top 5 emitters will be responsible for more than 60% of CO2 emissions between now and 2040, mostly due to China and India’s increasing energy consumption.

CO2

Emissions are projected to be high. The amount of CO2 our energy use will release in the next 25 years amounts to 80% of all the CO2 we have emitted since 1750. That’s quick work.

Global human emissions of CO2 since 1750: 364,725 million metric tons of carbon, multiplied by 3.667 to get 1,337,446.5 mmts of CO2.

(To repeat the point made last year, (Don’t want to abandon my 15 minutes of blog fame), 100,883 mmts of carbon or 369,973 mmts of CO2 have been emitted since 1998. That’s 27.6% of the total.)

2010 emissions: 9,167 mmts carbon, or 33,615.38 mmts CO2. If we stabilized emissions at that level, between now and 2040 we would emit a total of 840,348.5 mmts of CO2. But of course, emissions are increasing.

Global projected emissions, 2015-2040: 1,041,892.19 mmts CO2

U.S. projected emissions CO2, 2015-2040: 143,512.3 (13.7% of global emissions)

China projected emissions CO2, 2015-2040: 342,165.91 (32.8%)

India projected emissions CO2, 2015-2040: 66,559.4 (6.4%)

Russia projected emissions CO2, 2015-2040: 48,886.96 (4.7%)

Japan projected emissions CO2, 2015-2040: 31,445.99 (3.0%)

Total top 5 emitters projected CO2, 2015-2040: 632,570.56 (60.7%)

While I spend a lot of time here criticizing those in the media and academia (and occasionally scientists) about some of the silly things they say, readers should not think I take the overall issue of AGW lightly. As these figures show, if CO2 has any effect on this planet’s climate, we are set to find out in the next 25 years.

 

CO2 Emissions 2015 – 2020

When the great and the good meet to talk about climate change, the dilemma they face is whether the bulk of the responsibility for dealing with it should lie on the shoulders of the rich nations that emitted the most in the past or those of the emerging nations that will push emissions upwards going forward.

That’s not an easy decision to make. It depends on which problem you are trying to solve.

Between 2005 and 2010, the people on this planet emitted about 189,653.5 million metric tons of CO2, according to CDIAC.

According to the DOE, the U.S. was responsible for 34,752 of those mmts, about 18%. China emitted 5,000 more mmts, 39,754, or 21%.

However, in the next 5 years the DOE projects a dramatic change. The U.S. is expected to emit fewer tons of CO2 between 2015 and 2020–only 32,386 mmts. The story is much different for China, which is expected to emit a staggering 65,158 mmts of CO2 between 2015 and 2020.

In the five years between 2015 and 2020, the world is expected to emit 211,077 mmts of CO2, not really that much more than the period between 2005 and 2010–a little more than 10%. But of that total, China will emit 31%.

China’s winning a race that shouldn’t really be run.

China winning the race

In the U.S.A. CO2 emissions peaked in 2007 with 6,000 million metric tons emitted. That has since dropped to 5,363 mmts in 2014, a drop of 10%. Those who first noticed the falling figures put it down to recession, although the DOE was clear that falling GDP only caused about a third of it. The economy has been growing for several years now and emissions kept dropping.

Well, 2014 has a slight uptick, from 5,232 mmts to 5,363, I hope the U.S. economy keeps growing strongly–let’s see what happens to emissions in 2015.

The totals per region are as follows:

Europe peaked in emissions in 2006, with 4,515 mmts. Their 2014 figure was 4,060 mmts, also about 10% down from the peak.

Just to confuse you a little, here’s the total for all OECD countries (including the U.S. and Europe): The OECD peaked in 2008 with 13,817 mmts. The OECD total for 2014 was 12,778, about an 8% drop.

Russia peaked in 2008 and is down about 10% from then. All of non-OECD Europe and Eurasia–the same.

All the growth in emissions comes from China, India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

China’s emissions are up 30% since 2007. (And now are 30% of the global total.)

India’s emissions are up 20% since 2007.

The Middle East’s emissions are up more than 20% since 2007.

Sadly, Africa’s emissions are only up 10% (Like India, they need energy so badly…)

Central and South America’s emissions are up 25% since 2008.

So, assuming it is decided that CO2 emissions must drop, someone must foot the bill–whatever fuel source is decided on as replacement(s), facilities must be built and installed, maintained, etc., and the existing fleet of fossil fuel plants will need to be shut down and mothballed. Decommissioning power plants is actually pretty expensive. Shutting down coal mines–not so much.

If you are looking for climate justice, you want reparations for past actions. If you want to stop climate change, you need to change the energy choices of the emerging world. (We cannot tell them in good conscious not to consume energy. That’s just daft. We can perhaps shape their choices of fuel. That’s just common sense.)

Split it down the middle.

 

Rates of Change, Creatures of Habit

Periodically I see members of the Consensus try and vary their argument about Climate Change. Instead of warning us about the Grand Total of temperature or sea level rise, they talk about how quickly it might happen and how the rate of change is actually more threatening than the total.

That line of argument seems to be becoming more common as the Grand Totals are adjusted downward. Nobody seems to be talking anymore about the Six Degrees of Immolation that was such a popular meme a few years ago, nor about the 3 Meter Backward Somersault With Reverse Twist that sea levels were going to do. Now it’s the fact that it might happen in a few years–even less than a decade–that should alarm us. They say that we evolved in a stable climate and that rapid change can be well… almost catastrophic.

At first that might seem somewhat ridiculous–that (say for example) a quick rise of 2C in surface temperatures could truly pose a threat to an advanced civilization with our access to energy (for air conditioning) and advanced technologies for monitoring and combating sea level rise.

Sadly, that advanced civilization is really only available to the 1.2 billion of us living in the developed world. Rapid change could in fact be a real threat to those in the emerging economies that are home to the other 5.8 billion of us.

This may explain the vehemence of those who refuse to admit that there has been a pause in the climb of surface temperatures. If their argument is that temperatures can climb rapidly, even if they convince us of the possibility (and I am convinced that it is possible–it has happened in the past), that doesn’t get them anywhere unless they can also convince us that it’s happening now.

And it’s not.

Similarly with sea level rise, something like a very rapid melt of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet could produce an almost instantaneous sea level rise that would scare the heck out of us and harm quite a few. But without any idea of when that might happen, the 3mm per year current sea level rise has no power to frighten–that’s 1 foot a (Oops.) century. Amusingly, some scientists have actually lowered estimates of sea level rise from earlier in the 20th Century–so they can then claim with a straight face that the current sea level rise is happening at double the rate of 50 or 60 years ago. Sadly, we’ve seen that story before.

Despite all that, I do give some credence to worries that accelerated impacts of climate change may prove a serious threat. This is not because we are stuck at a low level of mitigation technology–we’re far from that.

I just wonder if in the developed world 21st Century Man is as strong, adaptable and clear-headed as his forebears. I’m actually not at all worried about how people in the Philippines or Indonesia will react to quick climate change. They’re smart, quick thinking and adaptable. It’s we in the developed world who I see (with many exceptions of course) as sluggish, overly dependent and frankly out of shape.

To be clear, I see no present evidence of any acceleration of either the phenomena described as global warming nor impacts. Temperatures have plateaued at a high level–just ask consensus scientist James Hansen. Sea level rise has been a very stable 3mm a year or less for a very long time. Xtreme Weather is an alarmist myth.

And it’s a very good thing.

Backward-Evolution

 

Future Plans For This Blog and 3000 Quads

I’ve been posting quite a bit since I un-retired around the first of the year, and much of what I’ve been doing is to try and set up a clearinghouse for criticisms of the main vehicles used to promote the Second Consensus. By that I mean the consensus amongst the media and commentariat that the science is settled, the skeptics are bad, it’s going to be worse than we thought and anybody who criticizes the consensus is a denier.

When I get done with that I want to look more closely at NGO messaging, something I think has been a major factor in preventing reasonable dialogue and intelligent action. That should take me through February for The Lukewarmer’s Way.

For my companion blog 3000 Quads, I’m going to re-visit themes such as internal variability within countries regarding energy consumption, try to configure a sane fuel portfolio for major emitting countries and wait as patiently as I can for the spring release of the DOE International Energy Outlook.

I also need to make time to clean up my blogroll. Link rot is there and it is evil.

For both blogs, I am open to suggestions on topics of interest to readers. Way back when I did a guest series over at Jeff Id’s blog comparing climate blogs–one skeptic vs. one consensus blog at a time. If there’s interest, I could do something along those lines for 2015. Anybody want a side by side comparison of Jose Duarte vs. And Then There’s Physics?

Critiquing The Stern Review

I know I should probably wait another year and do it at the ten year mark, but I’ve got to scratch that itch.

“The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is a 700-page report released for the British government on 30 October 2006 by economist Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and also chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) at Leeds University and LSE. The report discusses the effect of global warming on the world economy. Although not the first economic report on climate change, it is significant as the largest and most widely known and discussed report of its kind”

The report itself can be found here, broken into bite-sized chunks.

Stern wrote, “The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change presents very serious global risks, and it demands an urgent global response…The benefits of strong, early action considerably outweigh the costs.”

My previous argument against Stern’s conclusions are based on his use of an IPCC scenario that had population estimates at 15 billion by the end of the century. This is a bit below the UN’s new high variant prediction of 16.6 billion, but far higher than their (recently adjusted upward) medium variant of 10 billion.

But there are other things I disagree with in the report (it’s 700 pages long, so that’s pretty much natural). For example, Stern found that under business as usual (i.e., assuming no new policies to reduce carbon emissions), the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could reach double the pre-industrial level as early as 2035.  That is not supported by evidence available to Stern then or the data we can look at now.

In fact, Stern said in his review that CO2 concentrations in 2006 were 430 ppm. At that time they were 381.9 ppm. “The current level or stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is equivalent to around 430 parts per million (ppm) CO2 1 , compared with only 280ppm before the Industrial Revolution. ”

Pre-industrial concentrations are commonly held as 280 ppm. They are now about 400 ppm. The IPCC actually projects as a high range concentration by 2035 a level of 450 ppm. This is dramatically lower than the 560 ppm used by Stern.

Stern also wrote that by the end of the century, business as usual would lead to more than a 50% chance of exceeding 5 C of warming, implying disastrous changes in natural ecosystems and human living conditions around the world.

Stern Review

In the IPCC AR4, published almost at the same time as Stern’s review, they gave different temperature rises for the end of the century for six different scenarios. Only two of those scenarios–A2 and A1F1–have temperatures rising to that level. The others range from 1.1 to 4.4C in temp rises.

The economic model used in the Stern Review finds that the damages from business as usual would be expected to reduce GDP by 5%. This is higher than most economists estimate.

In fact, most of the published criticisms raised are actually by economists.

“The extensive criticisms of the Stern Review’s economics raise three principal points:

• the discount rate is said to be too low;

• the treatment of risk and uncertainty is inappropriate; and

• the calculation and comparison of costs and benefits is done incorrectly.

“Stern’s preferred discount rate, 1.4%  is much lower than the rates used in traditional climate economic models. For William Nordhaus, “the Review’s radical revision arises because of an extreme assumption about discounting…this magnifies enormously impacts in the distant future and rationalizes deep cuts in emissions, and indeed in all consumption, today.” Nordhaus maintains that the discount rate should initially match an interest rate of about 5% above inflation.

The second major innovation in the Stern analysis is the treatment of risk and uncertainty connected to climate change. The  IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (2001) assumed that a doubling of pre-industrial CO2 concentrations would lead to warming of 1.5o – 4.5o, a range the IPCC went back to in AR5. Stern’s high climate sensitivity scenario assumes that the same doubling of atmospheric CO2 would lead to 2.4o – 5.4o.

Second, the PAGE model, used in the Stern Review, includes an estimate for the risk of an abrupt climate catastrophe, something most economic models do not use. There are three commonly accepted methods of modeling uncertainty. Each of these three methods of modeling uncertainty has an important influence on the results. Sensitivity analyses by the Stern team show that “the estimated cost of “business as usual” climate damages would be increased by 3.6 percentage points (i.e., 3.6% of global consumption) by the high climate sensitivity assumptions. Similarly, removal of the calculation of catastrophic risks would reduce estimated damages by 2.9 percentage points. Elimination of the Monte Carlo analysis, doing one run of PAGE using the most common value for each parameter (such as 1.3 for γ), would reduce damage estimates by 7.6 percentage points.24 In short, Stern’s treatment of uncertainty is comparable in importance to the discount rate in determining the outcome of the model.”

In addition to criticisms of the discount rate and the treatment of uncertainty, economists have also criticized Stern’s estimates of the expected damages from climate change, the costs of mitigating those damages, and the comparison of damages and mitigation costs.

Richard Tol and Gary Yohe believe that Stern has exaggerated throughout: “The Stern Review consistently selects the most pessimistic study in the literature for water, agriculture, health, and insurance.”

Robert Mendelsohn adds the claim that Stern has overstated the effects, or the certainty, of extreme weather events, and has downplayed the likely extent of adaptation to a changing climate. In general, Mendelsohn believes the damages from the early stages of warming to be quite small: “…there are hardly any damages associated with a 2 C increase in temperature.”

Stern wrote that temperatures would rise 2-3C within 50 years. Nine years later temperatures haven’t raised much at all. It would take a heroic rise to meet his projection.

Stern writes, “According to one estimate, by the middle of the century, 200 million people may become permanently displaced due to rising sea levels, heavier floods, and more intense droughts.” According to the UN in 2014 there were 15 million refugees who had left their country and 27 million who were displaced internally. Almost all of that was due to conflict. Most environmental refugees flee storms, floods or droughts and return to rebuild their homes when conditions improve. Storms, foods and droughts do not appear to be increasing in either number or intensity. Again, the next 40 years will have to be terrible indeed for Stern’s prediction to come true.

Stern writes, “Based on simple extrapolations, costs of extreme weather alone could reach 0.5 – 1% of world GDP per annum by the middle of the century, and will keep rising if the world continues to warm. ” Again, as none of this has even started yet, if Stern is right we’d better batten down the hatches to survive the next 40 years.

I’ll have to leave it there for today. Posts really shouldn’t be this long. Feel free to continue support or criticism of the Stern Review in the comments.

I can see how Stern can use inflated numbers to get to a scary total. What I can’t see is why it is still being used as a policy guide today.

 

Climate Commenter of the Year, 2014

It’s difficult–but important–to acknowledge quality work from the other side of the fence. It’s a bit easier with blog writers–when I awarded Gavin Schmidt Blogger of the Year a couple of years ago, nobody on the skeptic side even grumbled.

It’s tougher with commenters, as the odds are that you’ve sparred with them more than once.

Respect Your Opponent

But this year’s winner deserves the award. He comments prolifically–but doesn’t spam the same comments across the blogosphere.

He’s (usually) not vitriolic, although like all commenters (including myself when I’m at other venues) he can be a bit acerbic at times.

He’s usually on point–he doesn’t go after personalities very much. His usual tactic–asking for sources from those he opposes–is something we could use a little bit more of here in the climate blogosphere.

The gentleman’s name is Hank Roberts. I think he very much deserves the award for 2014 Climate Commenter of the Year. I hope that’s at least one thing we agree on this year.

I’ll leave you with one of his most recent comments on Real Climate, where the topic is ‘Thoughts On Ongoing Temperature Trends”.

 

  • Ah, Victor?

    Victor, did you ever talk to a reference librarian? The questions you ask are good — but asking them of the wind, or typing them into the computer, does not get you the help for which you appear to be crying out.

    Talk to someone near you who understands statistics.

    Please. Otherwise you may — as appears so far — mistakenly convince yourself that ignoramus necessarily means ignorabimus.

    At Azimuth, the topic that Jan Galkowski points to, ends with:

    Working out these kinds of details is the process of science at its best, and many disciplines, not least mathematics, statistics, and signal processing, have much to contribute to the methods and interpretations of these series data. It is possible too much is being asked of a limited data set, and perhaps we have not yet observed enough of climate system response to say anything definitive. But the urgency to act responsibly given scientific predictions remains.

 

More Bang (And Less Gas) For The Buck

While consumers are happy that oil prices have dropped dramatically in recent months, if people start driving a lot more some worry about the impacts on climate change and conventional pollution.

Since we really don’t want to control people and tell them if and when and where they should drive, this leads us directly back to building better cars that get higher mileage and emit less CO2. So how are we doing on this?

In 2012 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Richard Nixon’s legacy to the nation (well, there’s Watergate, but…) issued a report detailing improvements in automotive performance between 1975 and 2012.

Happy news! Just the one-year improvements between 2011 and 2012 were worth reporting (although I never saw it in the news…). CO2 emissions per mile declined by 7% from 2011 to 2012. Gas mileage improved by 1.2 mpg! Hooray for those in Detroit, Germany and Japan!

But looking at the improvements since 1975 is even more impressive. In 1975 the average CO2 emissions were 681 grams per mile. In 2013 they were 370 grams per mile, a drop of 45%.

Fuel economy went from 13.1 miles per gallon in 1975 to 24.0 mpg in 2013–getting close to a doubling.

You can file this in a category of ‘Good News That Goes Unreported’. In their zeal to get us to support ever more stringent controls on anything we do that emits CO2, there seems to be an earnest desire to never mention anything that is getting better.

Now of course all that efficiency can be outpaced if driving increases. In the U.S., miles driven per year in fact has increased–but slowly. Peak miles driven occurred in 2007 and Americans are driving 60 billion fewer miles right now than they were during the recession.

Good news on the technology! Good news on the environment! Good news on the behavior of the citizens of the U.S.A.!

Not bad for a Wednesday.

well_done_thumb

Wicked

Judith Curry, my Climate Blogger of the Year for 2014, has a post up about Eija-Riitta Korhola’s remarkable article regarding the change of course Korhola thinks is necessary to combat, not just climate change, but the other environmental issues that face the planet. Both Curry’s reaction and Korhola’s article are worth the time spent reading and digesting them and I recommend you read both. (Curry found the article via Roger Pielke’s site–as Korhola praises the Hartnell Dialogues which Pielke participated in, Pielke’s enthusiasm is almost as great as Curry’s–and mine, for that matter.)

Update: I continue the conversation over at 3000 Quads.

Judith’s unbridled enthusiasm for finding a like-minded soul that will be hard to discredit echoes perhaps the feelings most of us who are arrayed against the Consensus regarding climate policy felt when Judith herself started blogging. As a respected climate scientist, we lukewarmers and many skeptics felt that having her join forces against the Green Blob that managed to combine mechanical and maniacal messaging that demonized us would be enough to tip the scales against what we felt (and most still feel) works against coherent action on behalf of our planet. We didn’t anticipate how virulent the reaction would be against Dr. Curry, that the same people who slimed us unceasingly would be perfectly happy to use the same tactics against her. I only hope that they don’t do the same thing with Korhola. Vain hope, I’m pretty sure.

But this post isn’t about Curry or Korhola. It is about their description of the climate issue as ‘wicked.’ That is a characterization I wish to take issue with. I disagree.

A wicked problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. I don’t believe climate change is any of these.

To begin with, we have all the tools we need to reduce anthropogenic emissions by whatever percentage we need, should we agree on the necessity. France got to a total of 85% non-emissive energy consumption through nuclear power in 20 years. The top 5 emitters of greenhouse gases could do the same and they account for almost 60% of global emissions. If supplemented by efforts that are already ongoing to continue expansion of hydropower and other renewables the problem would not be difficult or impossible–it would be solved with current technology and no required innovation.

What I believe creates the impression of ‘wickedness’ is the continuous addition of changing requirements and political non-sequiturs by different parties to the Consensus, one of which is the demonization of both nuclear power and hyroelectric power. If you take those two off the table, meaningful progress on emissions is not just wicked, it is impossible. Bring them into the room and the issue is not even controversial–it is routine.

Another Consensus creation is the differentiation in what is asked of developing versus already developed nation states. Not that there shouldn’t be a difference–there should. But it shouldn’t be bilateral. Each country should have a different set of goals and assistance, where required, should be country specific, as opposed to block grants handed out by one authority in strict percentages to all needy countries. China is now the largest emitter of CO2. Heck, it emits 30% of all greenhouse gases. What China needs to do and what it requires from richer countries is vastly different than what is required from, say, Kenya or Nigeria.

Although the Consensus paints skeptics as a roadblock to progress, in truth it is their redefinition of the problem and their wrong-headedness in acceptance of potential solutions that in fact hampers movement towards a simple solution.

And although their attempt to create false conditions to make climate change not just wicked but insoluble is wrong-headed to the point of insanity, one can look at the Consensus and say they actually are trying to achieve something else…

 

State of the Climate 2014: Climate Deaths

This is (probably) the last in a series of posts evaluating the state of the planet’s climate and the impacts of 2014 being perhaps the warmest year on record and certainly being one of the 14 top temperatures on record, all occurring in the past 15 years. (I say probably because I may do a summary later.)

Death by climate change. Ever since the World Health Organization postulated that 150,000 people per year die because of climate change, it has been a controversial statistic. ‘Statistical deaths’ have been known to estimate more children dying of a particular disease than all child deaths that occur in a year.

Imputing an increased disease burden to climate change is a statistical exercise. I will not criticize it further here. I will instead use their criteria and look at what has happened in the past year or during the course of this century.

The WHO based its claim largely on the work discussed in a paper called Global Climate Change. The paper says there will be some slight health benefits associated with climbing temperatures, such as fewer deaths due to cold. However, over all, they estimated that in 2000 net additional deaths would be 150,000. The paper forecast 47,000 additional deaths due to diarrhea, 77,000 due to malnutrition, 27,000 due to malaria and 2,000 due to flooding. Although this only adds up to 126,000 the rest may be due to unquantified statistical deaths due to cardiovascular disease and dengue fever.

They also assumed that the number of deaths will rise from 2000, but the next year they gave figures for was 2030, so we will evaluate performance from their 2000 figures.

For diarrhea, the number of deaths decreased by 50% for children under 5 from 2000 to 2013, the latest year for which numbers are available. (Young children are the most vulnerable to death from diarrheal disease.) (In 1980 the figure was 4.6 million per year.) I am unable to find figures for the full population.

For malnutrition, the FAO estimates that 805 million people were chronically malnourished in 2014, a reduction of over 100 million from a decade ago.

For malaria, “Global efforts to control and eliminate malaria reduced mortality by 45 per cent worldwide, and 49 per cent in Africa, according to the World Malaria report 2013 published by the UN agency.

That is the equivalent of 3.3 million lives saved between 2000 and 2012, the large majority in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden, and among the most affected age groups – children five years old and younger.”

With the direction of these major killers moving in a favorable direction for humanity, it is tempting to dismiss the statistical deaths as a fiction of alarmists.

But it would take work and scholarship to actually do so. There are two reasons why we can’t just sit back and treat the WHO projections as fantasy. First, who’s to say that progress would not have been even more dramatic in these areas absent climate change? Perhaps we would have been celebrating 1.5 million fewer deaths than the millions we are happy to see alive if there had been no climate change. We don’t know and perhaps we never will. So although it’s intuitive to say that climate change has not had an impact on deaths caused by these conditions, we cannot say for sure. Cynics will say that the way the claims are structured make that inevitable and constitute a feature, not a bug, from the point of view of those most concerned about climate change. I’m not nearly at that point yet.

The second reason we cannot dismiss the climate deaths claim is that from 2000 to 2014 there has been a pause in warming. Although warmists and alarmists are now busy saying there is no pause at all, the IPCC, James Hansen and other respected scientists were saying this during the course of the past few years. And it could be true that the reason all these conditions have improved is because the expected warming has not taken place.

I do have a problem with statistical projections of mortality. There are too many factors that can influence the course of any condition. For diarrhea, slight changes in access to clean water can have a dramatic effect. For malaria, the mobilization of efforts (due in part to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) may not have been factored in. Technology’s progress in agriculture and distribution may be an unexpected factor in  the fight against malnutrition.

Gates quote

It would be quite difficult to disambiguate the prime factors. Which is why these studies should be treated with a grain of salt in the first place.

State of the Climate 2014 Part 3: Climate Refugees

Summary for the time starved: Total refugees have increased from 42 million in 2010 to 50 million in 2014. It is difficult to classify the nature of the conditions that caused people to flee their homes. Some people appear to want to ‘claim’ refugees as victims of climate change inappropriately.

There is a logical case in theory for both the concept of and concern for climate refugees. If extreme weather events increase, more people will have to leave the areas where those events occur. Sadly, that is not the case that is being made throughout much of the media, by politicians and by organizations whose remit stands to expand if climate change is found to increase the number of refugees overall. However, if extreme weather events do increase, the number of climate refugees may be assumed to increase as well.

The logical case is simply put: “Natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan—which devastated the Philippines in 2013—displace more people than war, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center in Geneva. And as climate change sets off increasingly lethal natural disasters, so will the numbers of environmental refugees increase, Reuters reported.

It is a reality that governments must prepare themselves for. In 2013, some 22 million people were displaced by extreme natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis, a number three times the number of those who were forced to migrate because of war, according to the IDMC.

“Many more people in a growing population live more exposed to extreme weather,” Jan Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which runs the IDMC, said this week at a conference in Oslo, Norway.”

However, the topic has been warped by some. There are those who seemingly wish to relabel those fleeing a storm as those forced to move because of sea level rise or other long term impacts of climate change. Perhaps even more disturbing is the effort to classify those fleeing conflict as climate refugees, as has happened with those fleeing Syria. Some have said that climate change was the cause of the Syrian conflict–or at least a major contributor (a concept I find amazingly off-target). They then want to classify the three million who fled the war in 2014 as climate refugees. I find that appallingly cynical. (I can believe that drought exacerbates tensions. I can’t believe that this is new to the Middle East. And I don’t believe that droughts have increased in intensity or frequency there.)

climate-refugee-protest-vietnam-350

In 1988 a researcher named Jodi Jacobsen claimed there were 10 million environmental migrants and refugees. That mutated over the course of a decade to unsubstantiated claims by British environmentalist Norman Myers that there 25 million environmental refugees in the ’90s and that this would double by 2010 and perhaps reach 200 million by 2050.

However, their definition of ‘environmental refugee’ is fairly broad and includes circumstances quite different than assumed for ‘climate refugee’. The Wikipedia article on environmental migrants is actually quite good.

“The International Organisation for Migration proposes three types of environmental migrants:

  • Environmental emergency migrants: people who flee temporarily due to an environmental disaster or sudden environmental event. (Examples: someone forced to leave due to hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, etc.)
  • Environmental forced migrants: people who have to leave due to deteriorating environmental conditions. (Example: someone forced to leave due to a slow deterioration of their environment such as deforestation, coastal deterioration, etc.)
  • Environmental motivated migrants also known as environmentally induced economic migrants: people who choose to leave to avoid possible future problems. (Example: someone who leaves due to declining crop productivity caused by desertification)”

The large majority of current ‘environmental’ refugees are those forced to leave due to storms, etc. But only if extreme weather events are increasing could those be termed ‘climate refugees.’ And extreme weather events are not increasing. There are not more storms. The storms are not becoming stronger.

By more mutation, the earlier work has now transformed into claims that ‘climate refugees’ will number between 150 and 200 million by 2050, made by (of course) Stern et al 2006, several environmental NGOs and even the IPCC. In 2009, for example, an article in the Guardian labeled 20 million people displaced by natural disasters ‘climate refugees.’

But migrants are different from refugees–most of the time. They may get mixed together by some agencies, but they are not the same thing. So what about refugees?

The IOM estimated the numbers of refugees at 15.4 million internationally, with 27.5 million displaced within the borders of their native countries. However, in June of 2014 the UN marked World Refugee Day, noting that the number had exceeded 50 million for the first time since WWII. So the number has risen sharply in just four years, from 42 to 50 million.

But the UN didn’t talk about climate at all during that commemoration. “We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “Peace is today dangerously in deficit. Humanitarians can help as a palliative, but political solutions are vitally needed. Without this, the alarming levels of conflict and the mass suffering that is reflected in these figures will continue.” …”Overall, the biggest refugee populations under UNHCR care and by source country are Afghans, Syrians and Somalis together accounting for more than half of the global refugee total.”

So, it would appear that:

  • There are two types of refugee that are being discussed (although other types of refugees do exist).
  • Refugees who leave their homes when a hurricane, typhoon or flood occurs (most temporarily–they return when conditions return to normal).
  • Refugees fleeing conflict.
  • The total number has increased from 42 million in 2010 to 50 million in 2013.
  • Current refugee counts are clearly dominated by conflict.

Clearly, more work is needed to identify the different types of conditions causing people to flee their homes.

However, that important work is obviously not as important as getting out there and providing material assistance to those afflicted. We should accept that this ambiguity exists for a reason and learn to live with it–and deal with the ‘greyness’ of these numbers rationally.

State of the Climate 2014 Part 2

Yesterday I looked at some commonly viewed indicators of climate change–temperatures, sea level rise, drought and storms. Today I will look at some equally common indicators of climate impacts–agriculture, key species and a few others if I find the stats.

Because it’s so early in the year, 2014 statistics aren’t available for some of the indicators. Where that is the case we look at trends since 2000, comprising the period where 14 of the warmest 15 years in the temperature record have occurred.

In what may have been the warmest year in the modern temperature record, how did agriculture fare? The FAO in October reported that “Global markets for most foodstuffs are characterized by abundant supplies and less uncertainty than in recent years” in their October biannual report ‘Food Outlook‘. Their December check on prices show that prices for major foodstuffs have declined since then, an indication that the situation continues to improve. Record global production was reached for wheat, cassava and coarse grains.

Grain

Since 2000, malaria, predicted by some climate scientists to become wider spread due to warmer temperatures, has seen mortality decrease by 47% worldwide and by 54% in the WHO Africa region, where about 90% of malaria deaths occur. As for global spread, “In 2013, 2 countries reported zero indigenous cases for the first time (Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka), and 11 countries succeeded in maintaining zero cases (Argentina, Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan). Another 4 countries reported fewer than 10 local cases annually (Algeria, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica and El Salvador).”

Malaria mortality

Polar bear populations have been a political football for decades and 2014 is no different. The global population of polar bears appears to be robust. Data is not available for several key regions where polar bears are found. The bears are mobile and migrate easily to areas where their food supply goes and where ice conditions are most congenial. So, although some sectors see populations rising and some falling, it is not clear whether this is because of birth/death ratios, migrations or just bears going on temporary walkabout. The same sentence could have been written 20 years ago, not exactly a testament to modern scientific data collection. Explore for yourself: The ‘consensus’ view is here, a skeptical view here and what may be a synthesis view here. Readers are warned that I personally believe each of those views are more political than anything else. Time to find another icon–charismatic megafauna are in short supply, but certainly one could be found…

polar_bear_pop

Global economic output grew by about 3.5% in 2014 according to the IMF. Since 2000, during the period of 14 of the 15 warmest years, global GDP has tripled from $40 trillion to $120 trillion USD at PPP (Purchasing Power Parity). In inflation adjusted nominal terms, global output has almost doubled, to $74 trillion USD.

recordGlobalGDP2012455394

According to the CIA World Factbook, global mortality in terms of the crude death rate has declined from 8.37 in 2009 to 7.89 in 2013. During the period since 1950 it has declined from 19.5 per 1,000 to its present level.

World_crude_birth_and_death_rates_1950_-_2010

The point in this post and the previous one should be becoming clearer. Just as the IPCC has noted, any effects of global warming that may harm humans are for the future, not the present. Hysterical claims of extreme weather, rapid spread of disease and economic catastrophe are just that–hysterical claims. As the IPCC has noted, even with higher sensitivity, impacts on the planet will turn negative some time after 2040 (or 2070, according to a report Richard Tol wrote for the Copenhagen Consensus). If sensitivity is lower it may be even later.

In another post I will look at the twin issues of climate refugees and climate deaths.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers