Discussion of Recent Events

It’s been a busy start to the year.

There is credible discussion of atmospheric sensitivity that points to a lower value than has been taken for granted. If true, this would lower the threat level that climate change poses to us–or at least buy us extra time to prepare for it.

James Hansen has baldly stated what everyone saw but few on his ‘side’ could bear to admit–temperatures, expected to continue the rise shown between 1976 and 1998, have ‘stalled’ and we really don’t know why.

I happened to run into CDIAC’s estimates for human emissions by year and noticed that one-third of all human emissions had occurred since the period when temperatures stalled–which is not a point in favor of higher values for sensitivity, to say the least.

And today we see from the journal Nature that new Greenland ice cores from 125,000 years ago show that, although there is melting of Greenland ice when temperatures get warmer, that melt is not as extensive as scientists had feared. This may cause us to re-evaluate what will happen with Greenland’s ice if and when our current warming period resumes.


Taken overall, this is good news for humanity. I don’t at this point really care who is advantaged in the debate between activists and skeptics, although both will find reasons to take comfort and attack the other side, I’m sure.

I am having trouble remembering a period that saw such a bang-bang series of released information with the potential for having such a large impact. Readers can help me, and I hope you do.

What surprises me is the lack of discussion about this. Each of these ‘stories’ seem to have lasted about a day. None of them seem to have changed anybody’s mind. The discussion of climate change this year, in major media, mainstream blogs (such as Kevin Drum or Andrew Sullivan) and climate specific blogs doesn’t seem to have absorbed the impact of these stories. In fact, much of what I’ve read about climate change this year could have been pasted in from prior years–or typed in by a robot.

Has climate change become just an icon to which we all must bow, but not one which requires further thought? Readers can help me on this as well…

10 responses to “Discussion of Recent Events

  1. I think you left out that study about black carbon, or soot, being a greater warming driver than methane.

    I think all this might have effect on AR5. We’ll see…

    As to the lack of reporting, I think that journalists feel the pressure to “contribute to the cause”. Saying that it might not be that bad….. then you might get called by the D-word.
    Just look at this piece on “climate communication” by photos in the Guardian:

    “Arresting, startling, attention-getting, amazing, uplifting, upsetting and even shocking images therefore have the potential to raise awareness, as well as inspire people to explore possible actions to take in the face of climate challenges.”

  2. I might be the worst person to comment on this post. I’ve spent 45 years in science. I have not seen science work the way that it is supposed to on the big things during my life time. What is different about climate science is that the science is being used to redirect a massive amount of resources.
    For insiders accounts of scientific dysfunction, I suggest reading Tectonic Globaloney by Chris Smoot, Seeing Red (the title is a pun that refers to cosmological redshift) by Halton Arp, A Revolution Too Far (an account of the acceptance of general relativity)by Rowlands, and DeMeo’s article from Should the Laws of Gravitation be Reconsidered?, Hector Munera, ed.
    “I am having trouble remembering a period that saw such a bang-bang series of released information with the potential for having such a large impact.” I can remember quite a few,but I am reluctant to write down my memories right now, I haven’t had much luck with that.
    In 1988 the Navy declassified their maps for a small portion of one of the Pacific ridges. They did this because they realized for years that they were sitting on data that strongly contradicted plate tectonics. For the establishments reaction to it, read Smoots book.
    In 1989 I was sitting at a solar physics conference when an Italian physicist showed very strong evidence that solar activity was determined by planetary positions. She was laughed at. To this date her model shows the best agreement with what actually has happened.
    By 1993 a number of astronomers showed conclusively that cosmological redshift was quantized, in direct contradiction to an expanding universe. What happened? Some young astronomers repeated the study by making no attempt to correct for the motion of the observatory. (I’m simplifying quite a bit) This added a random signal and of course the statistical significance dropped. These kids went on to successful careers.
    I could go on and on. Science has been corrupted by all the money governments throw at it. It turns off the curious. It attracts career builders.

  3. I too looked at the released information and thought that maybe it would get some play but I have to agree with Marty’s summation: “Science has been corrupted by all the money governments throw at it. It turns off the curious. It attracts career builders”.

    For example, consider the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which is currently in a program review phase. Here’s how Governor Cuomo described it in his recent State of the State message: “By any account, RGGI has been a remarkable success story. From an initial cap of nearly 165 million tons, power plant emissions have dropped to a little over 90 million tons in 2012.” RGGI is a cap and auction program. Cuomo describes it as follows: “The RGGI program applies to fossil-fuel power plants 25 MW or greater. Power plants subject to the RGGI cap must possess a tradable CO2 allowance for each ton of CO2 they emit. They can obtain CO2 allowances in quarterly CO2 allowance auctions or through secondary markets. The proceeds from the auction of allowances are invested by the states in energy efficiency and clean energy programs. New York’s share of RGGI proceeds is administered by New York State Energy Research Development Authority.”

    The biggest issue to be resolved in the program review is the new value of the cap. Because the current cap is so much higher than recent emissions, the auction revenues are currently drive by the minimum price required (around $2 per ton) and just enough allowances purchased to cover required emissions. This debate could also be framed along the lines of the warmist position of this blog. At one extreme is the “this is just a regressive tax and does nothing to alleviate global warming” position so should be rescinded entirely. The other extreme is that there needs to be “environmental integrity” so the program should force affected sources to make reductions.

    I submit the warmist analogue would be to recognize that the investments derived from the auction revenues are beneficial so the program should continue. However, there are strong arguments against setting the cap so low that affected sources have to make reductions solely in response to this program. In particular there is the issue of “leakage”. Because there is no cost-effective way to install CO2 controls on existing facilities the easiest way to comply is to simply not run and transfer the generation necessary elsewhere, i.e., “leak” the emissions elsewhere. The economic and emissions modeling done to support the program review shows that when the cap is set low enough to force reductions the cumulative 2012 to 2020 CO2 emissions reduction within the RGGI states is 84 million tons of CO2. However, 56 million of those tons is simply leaked outside of RGGI so about two thirds of the emission reduction “benefits” are not real.

    But the emissions issue is not the only problem. As leakage increases, the likelihood of general economic disadvantage to the RGGI region and transfer of generation outside the region with resulting loss of generation potential income for in-region generating companies also increases. The lower cap also increases prices and compliance risks which increases pressure to use untried flexibility mechanisms that may cause direct problems and unintended consequences. It also increases potential for issues with potential market manipulation. Also note that if the secondary market has to be used for compliance any resulting higher allowance costs will be passed on to the consumer without additional contributions to RGGI allowance proceed investments.

    Against that backdrop why would any state agency or politician support a level low enough to force reductions? The New York State Energy Research Development Authority is charged with supporting the analyses. Marty nails that with “Science has been corrupted by all the money governments throw at it” because this agency stands to additionally pull in over $10 million in administrative money and administer $933 million in projects with the lower cap. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is charged with implementing the rule. The very fact that there is a climate change department supports Marty’s comment that “It attracts career builders”. Finally we have the Governor who devotes pages in his State of the State speech to this issue which openly acknowledged as the opening speech of his Cuomo 2016 campaign.

    • I kinda think that global warming has achieved the Miss America World Peace status–everyone genuflects at the concept but nobody really thinks about it anymore.

      • I agree and think that it cuts both ways. If you “believe” in the concept you can find support to substantiate that belief. If you haven’t agreed with the concept you can find support to disagree. I really don’t think there is anything that would convince many in either camp to change their minds about the concept at this point.

  4. For the mainstream media you must achieve one of:
    Catastrophe, Confrontation or Celebrity. Alternative be a victim, villian or hero. If you can’t fit a story to one of these it will fade. Hence the constant desire to spin stories to an extreme perspective or conclusion.

    Do it long enough and people get desensitised. The ancient brain is smart, once a fear fails to manifest, it moves on and forgets about it!

  5. The iconic James Lovelock went on record this year retracting his alarmist position (2006) that Earth would become uninhabitable except for a few breeding pairs of humans in the polar regions.

    Recommended read: “He Knew He Was Right: The Irrepressible Life of James Lovelock” by John & Mary Gribbin. Despite the regrettable presence of agenda, the book is an excellent summary of the science and the debate.

  6. One more thing should be included among the recent events. On WUWT on 27 January, he reviewed an article on waste heat. It’s more significant than once thought. And it can change the atmospheric circulation, moving more heat northward in the northern hemisphere.
    This is important because nuclear and gas run turbines emit more waste heat per kilowatt -hour than coal, (I am sure if technology has changed that since I studied the problem, Harry will come up with a link correcting me.)

  7. �sze.
    Finalnie reflektory gasną, – Kusząca usługi dźwigowe.
    Ściśle mówiąc co jest, ruchy, Alcorn (Rolland) ruchyl –
    dobiega na końcu harmider
    głuchy w tej chwili odległością, – Chceciie po tej stronie, ladacznica, pełną noc wzdrygać się?!

    Głośniejszy warkot diesla, światła zawracającej ciężarówki, wydobywają z
    ciemności nieprzyjemnie ciało zabudowań na drugim brzegu.
    Aktualnie wolno wyprostować
    przygarbione plecy, W bezwarunkowej sekundzie, kiedy snop reflektora pr.

  8. piskliwą Jednak co tobie powiem, słuchaj mojej opinii,
    wobec tego wcześniej po momentu szlifierki oscylacyjne (www.rateitall.com) jesteśmy w raju.
    Program znajduje się zgrzebny: odnaleźć
    drzewko doniesienia dobrego także krytycznego, załadować,
    zabezpieczyć oraz konnica w tył na planetę przywrócić światu
    uporczywie wartości. Lądujemy oraz dodatkowo zaraz zabieramy się
    urządzeń. Razu jednego, dwa lokalizujemy drzewko
    (“Jesteś regularny, że owe
    owo? ” – wacek się Vera Boba), trzech, czterech delikatnie

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