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Verheggen’s Consensus: Not 97%, not 47%. It’s 66%.

I have written several times about the 2012 survey by Bart Verheggen and the Netherlands Environmental Survey. However, the climate blogosphere has started to look at it and is coming to some incorrect conclusions. But that’s okay, Bart himself is pushing a skewed interpretation of the results, so let’s look at it again.

Fabius Maximus has posted that the Verheggen survey shows the consensus of scientists believing half or more of recent warming is caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases is only 47%. This got picked up by several blogs and is being used to counter John Cook’s nonsense about the consensus being 97%. Cook’s figure is nonsense. The figure reported by Fabius Maximus is not nonsense, but it is a somewhat tortured reading of the data. Bart Verhegeen himself is turning a blind eye to the headline results and writing solely about the opinions of scientists who have the most publications under their belt.

Let’s show why the true consensus on the issue is not 97% as Cook reported and not 47% as Fabius Maximus reported. It is a very legitimate 66% as the survey data shows very clearly.

In the Spring of 2012, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency PBLheld a survey among 1868 scientists studying various aspects of climate change, including physical climate, climate impacts, and mitigation. The main results of the survey were published in an article in Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T) in August 2014: “Scientists’ views about attribution of global warming”. It showed that there is widespread agreement regarding a dominant influence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases on recent global warming. This agreement is stronger among respondents with more peer-reviewed publications.”

On to the survey findings. Starting with the sexiest topic first, the question of attribution was explored in the survey. 66% of the respondents said that 50% or more of global warming since the mid-20th century can be attributed to human induced increases in greenhouse gases. As 19% responded ‘don’t know’ or ‘unknown’, it is clear that only a small minority has the opinion that GHGs caused less than 50% of recent warming. In fact, only 12% indicated that GHGs caused between zero and 50% of warming since the middle of the 20th century.

An interesting follow-up question was asked of those who felt AGW caused more than 50% of recent global warming. “What confidence level would you ascribe to the anthropogenic GHG contribution being more than 50%?” Similarly, those who ascribed less than half of recent warming to GHGs were asked about their level of confidence.

Those who think GHGs caused more than half of recent warming are far more confident in their perceptions than those who think GHGs caused less than half the warming.

Eighty-nine percent (89%) of those who attribute more than half of recent warming to GHGs said it was ‘virtually certain,’ ‘extremely likely’ or ‘very likely’. In sharp contrast, only 45% of those who felt that GHGs had caused less than half of recent warming expressed similar levels of certainty.

Why Fabius Maximus Is Over-Reaching

Fabius Maximus gets a lower percentage because he feels that the true ‘consensus’ consists only of those who were extremely confident of their opinion out of the 66% who believed half or more of recent warming is caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases. That would be in line with the level of confidence asserted by the IPCC, which says it is 95% certain that half or more of recent warming is caused by humans.

Fabius Maximus writes, “Now for the second part of the statement: what is the certainty of this finding? That the IPCC gives these answers is one of its great strengths. Of the 1,222 respondents to the PBL survey who said that the anthropogenic contribution was over 50%, 797 (65%) said it was 95%+ certain (which the IPCC defines as “virtually certain” or “extremely likely”).”

But the IPCC offers a definition of 95% certainty in their publications. This definition was not presented to survey respondents prior to asking them about how certain they were. Some may have used the IPCC definition of certainty, some may not. In any case, without knowing how they defined certainty it is not possible to assert that only 47% of respondents agree with the consensus.

We do know that 66% agree. We know that they are more confident than those who disagree. That is the percentage that should be offered as the Consensus. It is exactly the same percentage as found in a survey by Bray, von Storch et al in 2008 (although the question was worded differently), which should give us more confidence in the figure.

Why Bart Verheggen Is Under-Reaching

In all of his writing on the results of the survey, Bart Verheggen has focused exclusively on the higher agreement with the IPCC shown by scientists with more publications.

Indeed, in a paper written with John Cook, among others, Verheggen does not even report the top line statistic of his finding–that 66% of the scientists he surveyed agree that half or more of recent warming is caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

This is astonishing. That a report on a survey would not show and discuss the headline finding is bizarre. It would be like writing a report based on what Donald Trump’s supporters think of Mexican immigrants without even reporting what the overall population thinks.

It is legitimate to focus your analysis on the numbers of interest to you–even if that interest is only sparked by the fact that the entire numbers don’t support your position. But it is not at all legitimate practice to fail to report the top line data.

Verheggen’s failure to report the real numbers of his survey in my mind invalidates the rest of his paper. I know Bart Verheggen slightly through extended conversations at his blog and via emails. He has always been fair and honest with me. I find this incident bizarre, but the participation of John Cook in this paper may well explain it. John Cook is the author of a paper that should by now be completely discredited that reports the consensus at 97%. It is junk science and should be treated as such.

As for the position adopted by Verheggen’s report, it may well be that scientists with more publications are a better judge of attribution than scientists with fewer articles to their credit.

But we don’t know that. Verheggen et al make no attempt to show why that would be the case and they don’t even really make the argument. There is nothing in the survey that would show greater expertise on their part and there are a number of reasons to question that assumption, for assumption is all it is.

Scientists working in the private sector may have equal or even superior expertise than academics who must publish or perish. New scientists may be even more conversant with new information and data than older scientists who may not feel they have to keep up with the latest data. Scientists who get their name added to 10 multi-author publications may have no more expertise to offer than their colleague at the next desk who writes only one paper.

In any event, Verheggen et al don’t even try to make the case. They simply ignore the 66% consensus shown by all the respondents to his survey and report only on the differences in opinion shown by those with differing numbers of publications.

So at the end of the day, what a surprise. Advocates for skeptics and alarmists look at the same data and come up with different answers. Neither advocate tells an untruth. Both strain at gnats and swallow camels to come up with an answer that they like. Both the answers that they like are gross distortions of reality.

The consensus is real, although it looks more like a majority. It is not the nonsensical 97% shown by John Cook. It is not the 47% shown by Fabius Maximus. Verheggen doesn’t even show it at all.

It is 66%.

Is It Just Me Or Is Climate Change Making Everybody Crazy?

I hope the title is a two-sided attempt at humor. Certainly I get so frustrated at some of the looniness spouted by both extremes on the climate spectrum that I wonder if I am still sane. Certainly I wonder if people like Eli Rabett or Ted Cruz have lost all their marbles.


In Time today, Cruz is quoted as saying ““If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there’s been zero recorded warming,” Cruz said in California’s Orange County. “The satellite says it ain’t happening.” Instead, Cruz said, government researchers are reverse engineering data sets to falsify changes in the climate. “They’re cooking the books. They’re actually adjusting the numbers,” Cruz said. “Enron used to do their books the same way.”

You might see something like that appear 200 comments down on a thread at Judith Curry’s fine weblog–there are some skeptics who think that 18 years is enough to prove warming either never happened or is finished. But for a candidate for the U.S. presidency to spout off nonsense like this is truly astonishing.

(For the record, we have had two similar pauses that lasted similar lengths of time in the past century, after which warming resumed. The physics functions. As for the adjustments, even skeptics eventually understand that when you measure temperatures in the morning for 50 years and then start measuring in the evenings–or vice versa–if you don’t adjust to account for it you will end up with bad numbers.)

It’s a crazy thing to say.

So too are two separate comments from Eli Rabett, host of the Rabett Run website.

The first is a comment he made here at The Lukewarmer’s Way where he flat out lied about economist Tim Worstall, linking him to economists listed as having worked for the tobacco industry. Worstall not only has not worked for the tobacco industry, his name isn’t even on the list Rabett linked to.

It’s crazy to tell a lie that’s so easy to spot.

Second, over at his site he compares Andrew Revkin to skeptic Sky Dragon aficionados, part of a long-running campaign to undercut Revkin in the same way Rabett, Tobis, ATTP and others have tried to undercut Bjorn Lomborg, Roger Pielke Sr. and Judith Curry.

Rabett claims that reviewing a paper is ‘a matter of ethics’, surprising all of us who felt that reviewing a scientific paper was well, a matter of science. He’s pissed at Revkin for submitting a comment on Hansen’s latest ‘what if’ excursion. Revkin noted two scientific papers that flew in the face of some of Hansen’s latest claims. Apparently noting that the Godfather of Green might be in error is tantamount to heresy.

Despite the fact that the same thing has happened to environmental journalists Mark Lynas and George Monbiot, both of whom like Revkin have been stalwart supporters of the climate cause until all of a sudden they actually reported something in opposition to the party line, the idea of trashing journalists who have supported your cause for years is, well, crazy.

Revkin is a top-notch j0urnalist. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.

Obama, Sanders and the Republicans on Climate Change. Not Edifying.

From a Lukewarmer standpoint, when climate change is discussed by politicians running for office, little good is done. Precious little knowledge is displayed. No judgement at all is discerned.

On the other hand, when a politician no longer is running for office, we can see where her or his priorities lie. Thus, when several newspapers reported today that President Obama is unveiling his new and more robust EPA Plan for reducing U.S. emissions we can see several interesting themes.

First, his plan is indeed a war on coal. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is correct with his label. I support this war on coal, however–I am of the opinion that developed countries should move away from coal as quickly as possible. In part this is to give leeway to developing countries to continue using coal as they develop. In part it is to take the lead on developing alternatives. But in part it is because I believe that coal kills, even in rich countries. Coal kills miners, but it also kills through pollution via fly ash, mercury and simple emissions. It is an archaic fuel that served us well for a long time. But it’s time to say goodbye to it as a major fuel source.

Second, President Obama, who I support, respect and admire, is choosing to play politics with his proffered solutions. Setting a minimum of 28% of generating capacity from renewables and not including hydropower or nuclear as part of the renewable portfolio is ‘picking winners’, something government is not really very good at. Setting emission targets at 32% lower than 2005 by 2030 is not a big deal–I think we’ll make that with room to spare. But pushing states away from natural gas and towards more costly wind and solar isn’t going to help.

Third, by reviving the zombie of Cap and Trade (albeit a modified version of intrastate markets), President Obama is bowing to lobbyists for industry sectors not even associated with energy to help make money. Cap and Trade is unlikely to work. Even if it works it won’t work as well as a carbon tax. It will increase bureaucracy and skew incentives.

It shows Obama once again as a pragmatic Democrat who is doing what Democrats do–going out of their way to satisfy party stakeholders, even at the expense of the nation’s best interests. I’m a Democrat and I’m willing to put up with some of these games to get coal out of the picture–but this is very close to going too far.

But in contrast, Democrat Bernie Sanders and the gaggle of Republican candidates for the role of Obama’s replacement are incredibly worse. Here is a sample of their foolishness:

Bernie Sanders: ““Climate change is the greatest threat facing the planet,” Sanders said. He added that “the debate is over.” Fail. The planet faces a dozen threats greater than climate change and the debate has barely begun.

Dammit, I’m with Sanders on a lot of issues–I really am a confirmed leftist and I like the guy. This ritual obeisance to the party line on climate change is stupid–he’s more than willing to confront the party elders on other issues. There’s no reason apart from ignorance that he would accept the exaggerations of the Konsensus.

As bad as that is, the Republicans are worse:

“Rick Santorum calls climate change “a beautifully concocted scheme.””

No, climate change is real. It has been observed for decades. The planet has warmed and we have contributed.

“Senator Ted Cruz contends that no climate change has been recorded in the last 15 years, bluntly declaring, “It hasn’t happened.””

This is reminiscent of the Know Nothing nonsense of prior centuries. Global warming has stalled. But we do have records that go back more than 15 years. The world has warmed by 0.8 C since 1880 and 0.5C of that is since 1950.

“Ben Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon, has said, “We may be warming. We may be cooling.””

No, Dr. Carson, we have been warming. We’re in a pause right now. We are not cooling.

“Former Florida governor Jeb Bush grants that climate change is real, but he is unwilling to say it is caused by humans.”

Bush is obviously the best politician here–what he says is the least offensive of the statements, but only because he doesn’t say that humans haven’t contributed to global warming.
“Donald Trump, meanwhile, sees a conspiracy: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing noncompetitive.””

Donald Trump is insane. I don’t know how else to characterize him. He’s insane about immigration. He’s insane about John McCain. He’s insane about the Chinese creating the concept of global warming. People are saying his candidaccy might be the equivalent of Perot’s quixotic play for the presidency, which gave a victory to a Clinton at the expense of a Bush. But really, Trump’s bombast and obvious ignorance of just about everything really is more reminiscent of another politician from an earlier era:


That’s Benito Mussolini, for younger readers.

Feminists and LGBT’s on board for climate fight–Racial and ethnic groups, not so much

As a white liberal, I suppose it should distress me that white liberals tend to be on the other side of the climate debate. It doesn’t–white liberals have been wrong on a lot of things historically. Being right all the time would be boring. I can’t do anything about my color–I’m getting of an age where tanning seems dangerous. As for being liberal, I’m liberal because of principle, not past performance. As long as we’re wrong less frequently than the opposition, I figure we’re doing okay. And we are.

I do note that the LGBT community and activist feminist groups are climbing on board the Klimate Train. I just read a story in the Daily Beast titled ‘Is Caring About Climate Change An Essential Part Of LGBT Identity?’

Like the story’s author, I approached this story ready to scoff. But there’s a real case to be made. Those from the LGBT community who have been converted to climate activists say that “While governments and corporations refused to acknowledge the severity of the AIDS crisis—an eerie parallel to the response to date on climate change—we educated the masses, told our stories, harnessed the media, raised money.”

Perhaps even more importantly, they believe that strategies and communications techniques they used in the fight to change public opinion on gay marriage and acceptance of LGBTs overall are exactly what is needed to persuade the ‘moveable middle’ to embrace more active measures to fight climate change.

On the other hand, a recent story in the Des Moines Register titled ‘Why Climate Change Is a Woman’s Issue‘ was not nearly as impressive, the thrust of the piece being that because women handle more of the agricultural work in developing countries, climate change will have a greater impact on women. The author also argues that in those same countries women can get shortchanged at mealtimes if there isn’t enough to go around.

(The piece also features Democrat Tom Steyer, the guy who’s funding candidates based on their commitment to fighting climate change. The story has a quote that may come back to haunt him. Steyer said, “Per kilowatt hour, solar requires eight times more jobs than fossil fuels.” As Tim Worstall has been known to remark, those are additional costs of green energy. Higher labor costs for solar is a bug, not a feature.)

Back to feminism and climate change. Using the same logic as the author, feminists should also be participating heavily in the debates about GMOs and the allocation of resources to micro-nutrients, vaccines and clean water. Women are more heavily impacted by all changes involving health and nutrition, not just because they go out in the fields, but because they are caregivers to children and well, because there are more women than men on this planet. Using the same logic, women would almost certainly argue for more resources being directed to these more immediate threats.

Missing from the bandwagon so far are ethnic activists, despite it being fairly clear that the people most affected by whatever climate change impacts come our way will not… be… white… This may be because even expatriates can see that economic development of India, Nigeria, China, Indonesia and Brazil will have a greater impact than avoiding climate change.

As someone who does not see danger to global agriculture from climate change, I cannot support this feminist viewpoint. (I have no idea how widespread this new climate activism runs through either the LGBT or feminist communities.) I have long argued that feminists in the United States probably miscalculated and misallocated resources when they chose to aim at the glass ceiling instead of fighting harder to establish a concrete floor below which women would not sink. Feminists in other countries that chose differently have seen better outcomes. State supported childcare seems to have more of an impact than a guaranteed percentage of seats on the board of directors. Focusing on climate change rather than malnutrition, disease and access to clean water seems very much like making the same mistake.

I would urge feminists to widen their vision to include other environmental impacts on women. It is women who are breathing dung fumes while cooking over a 3 stone oven. It is women making the long march to get water. It is women looking after ill and weak children suffering from cholera and malaria.

As for gay activists fighting climate change–go for it. Your experience may elevate the discussion of the issue and one thing is for sure. You will certainly  do better than the idiots that have been trying to push the issue to date.


The Climate Change Industry is Worth $1.5 Trillion

The climate change industry is worth $1.5 trillion, according to a story in Insurance Journal.

Greedy Business Man

Their story references a news source I was unaware of, the Climate Change Business Journal.

According to Insurance Journal, “Interest in climate change is becoming an increasingly powerful economic driver, so much so that some see it as an industry in itself whose growth is driven in large part by policymaking.

The $1.5 trillion global “climate change industry” grew at between 17 and 24 percent annually from 2005-2008, slowing to between 4 and 6 percent following the recession with the exception of 2011’s inexplicable 15 percent growth, according to Climate Change Business Journal.”

Climate Change Business Journal is selling a 200 page report that says among other things, “CCBJ estimates today’s climate change consulting market at $1.9 billion worldwide and $670 million in the United States. These figures are expected to more than double in the next five years, even fully accounting for the financial meltdown of 2008. We believe the Climate Change Consulting Industry will have an even steeper and faster growth trajectory than the Environmental Consulting Industry, which in 1976 had billings of $600 million but today generates $27 billion.”

You could buy a lot of solar panels with that kind of money.

Not a word about the brothers Koch, sadly.

Solar Must Fight Straw Men As Well As Fossil Fuels

As an unabashed supporter of solar power, I cringe a bit when I see other enthusiasts make overly broad claims of what we can expect from solar in the near term. Longer term, most seem to feel that solar will make a huge contribution. But between now and 2075, when most policies will be implemented to combat global warming, expectations of solar need to be tempered.

It doesn’t help when opponents of solar power (they’re not really opponents of solar power–they just object to it being accorded subsidy and privilege, sometimes at the expense of fossil fuels) try to show how solar cannot deliver on extravagant claims that… nobody is making.

A case in point is a post up at my friend Anthony Watts’ website, Watts Up With That. A post titled ‘The Green Mirage‘ repeats and helps perpetuate misconceptions about what can be reasonably expected of solar, its impact and even its footprint.

The post, which is actually a review of a piece in Forbes that draws heavily on this piece from fusion4freedom, tries to make the following points:

· 29.3 billion 1square meter panels would cover 29,333 km2 which equals 7.2 million acres, or almost all of Maryland and Delaware.

Here they describe the theoretical footprint of enough solar panels to power the United States–to provide all its energy needs. This is in response to a prediction by Ray Kurzweil that this would happen in 20 years.

But Kurzweil is pretty much alone in his prediction. Almost every forecast has been based on all renewables (not just solar) providing 30% of our electricity needs (not all power). I have the utmost respect for Kurzweil and hope that much of what he writes concerning the Singularity comes to pass. But providing 100% of our power through solar is not what is being asked of the industry. To provide 30% of our electricity needs, putting wind and wood pellets out of business, would require something on the order of 5 billion panels, not counting those that have already been put up.

As for the footprint issue–sigh… Most solar is placed on rooftops. It doesn’t take any additional space. If very large solar arrays are required, they will take up more space. But most of that space will be in desert that is otherwise not fit for human habitation or industry. I don’t understand why this is even an issue. It’s a strawman.

· If 1 square meter PV panels were manufactured at the rate of 1 per second, it would take 929 years to manufacture 29.3 billion panels

Panels can be built in different sizes. They don’t all need to be ready tomorrow, or indeed in 20 years. There were about 370 high volume solar panel manufacturers last time I looked and they would cheerfully ramp up production if asked. There are idle plants waiting for customer orders all over the world. This is a strawman.

· The cost of a solar only approach exceeds $15.27 trillion

Assuming costs freeze today, building 29.3 billion solar panels might indeed cost $15 trillion, give or take. But costs of solar have declined precipitously and can be expected to continue to decline.

Emanuel Sachs MIT

Extending the timeline through 2075 and lowering the number of panels to provide its expected contribution to 30% of electricity needs both lowers the total cost and the annual expenditure. It would cost somewhere near $2.5 trillion. Spread out over 60 years it would amount to about $41 billion a year. For perspective, U.S. subsidies for renewable energy were about $23 billion a couple of years ago.

· Moore’s Law is not applicable to the production or deployment of solar panels

This is true, but irrelevant. The quest for efficiencies and cost reductions in solar panels don’t have to advance logarithymically forever. The steep decline that we have seen in the prices of solar modules looks similar to Moore’s Law. And efficiencies can still be obtained. But the cost of solar modules doesn’t have to drop to zero. The overall cost of solar (including balance of systems, installation, permitting and light maintenance) only has to drop below the cost of the cheapest competing power source in a given area.

This is already the case in some areas of the U.S. and it’s getting close in others. Another generation or two of module manufacturing should get us there. We don’t need 50 years of continuous advancement. This is a strawman.

· Unsubsidized Solar has applicability in rural areas and developing countries with low population density

This is true. If you draw a bubble map of where solar is applicable strictly from a cost point of view, there are many bubbles of different size. The point is that there are more bubbles than two years ago and the bubbles are larger.

· Google’s Green Energy Project RE<C was canceled; “Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach; Suggest “A disruptive fusion technology…”

Google has abandoned so many projects in the past 10 years that it is clear that they have a limited attention span and that spending 1 day a week on your pet project is probably not going to power the company to greater glories. Solar power and other renewables may in fact fail to live up to our hopes. But Google predicting that doesn’t mean a thing. They give up too quickly.

Solar power can, if cultivated properly and used intelligently, provide 30% of the electricity requirements of the United States. It can do so without costing much more than we are spending now. It can do so without ruining landscapes.

That is what was asked of the technology. Complaining that it won’t wash your car or feed your baby as well is a little unfair.

40% of the World’s Population Has Never Heard of Climate Change

As someone who has been writing about the subject since 2008 I can only say I envy them.

I was planning to write a long-ish post about the degradation of the environmental movement. I was going to start with Patrick Moore’s recent video on why he left Greenpeace. Instead I’ll just show it here.

I was going to cleverly segue to Bishop Hill’s brief post on the new book ‘Panda Leaks’ found here, about the sins of the WWF.

I would then go on about the trashing of Machu Picchu by environmentalists, the ‘We know where you live‘ episode by Greenpeace, the opposition of environmental organizations to coal power plants in the developing world, etc.

I was planning to end with a statement about how environmentalist organizations were doomed once they started getting large sums of money, much of it from fossil fuel companies.

But I’m tired today. You’ll have to imagine the post I could have written. I wish I was one of the 40% who haven’t heard of all this mess. I’m tired of being called a denier. I’m tired of being lied to and lied about. I’m tired of being censored.

But I’ll leave you with the graphic I was going to use.


Risky Business? Come Heat and High Water

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has sponsored a series of reports on the economic impacts of climate change under the rubric ‘Risky Business.’

The latest report focuses on impacts on the U.S. Southeast and Texas. The report is here. It is called Come Heat or High Water, remarkably similar to the title of a book published by Joe Romm. It is as alarmist and foolish as Romm, so caveat lector.

The report ignores the published science on climate change, relying on climate models that have shown no indication of predicting the present, let alone the future. They have fantastical projections of sea level rise, temperature increases and damages to agriculture that just ignore reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In other words, it’s a Business As Usual scare story.

A much better take on Risky Business is here:

In Come Heat and High Water they write, “By the end of the century, the Southeast and Texas will likely experience dangerous levels of extreme heat. » By the end of this century, the average number of extremely hot days across the region each year—with temperatures above 95°F—will likely increase by as much as 14 times from nine days per year in recent decades to as many as 123 days per year.

Ooooookay. They continue: “Rising temperatures will likely lead to a surge in electricity demand, as well as to a decline in energy system efficiency in many of the manufacturing-intensive states in the Southeast and Texas. …The Southeast region will likely see an average increase of 4% to 12% in energy costs by mid-century.”

Might happen even sooner, depending on choices of fuel portfolio made today.

“Sea level rise along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts will likely lead to large-scale losses from damage to coastal property and infrastructure. …Local sea level rise will vary along the coasts. At Grand Isle, Louisiana, mean sea level will likely rise 1.9 to 2.4 feet by 2050 and by 4.1 to 5.8 feet by 2100. Meanwhile, mean sea level at Charleston, South Carolina will likely rise by 0.9 to 1.4 feet by 2050 and by 2.1 to 3.8 feet by the end of the century.”

Gee, that’s funny. The IPCC predicts sea level rise will be between 26 and 98 centimeters this century, or between 10 inches and 38 inches. I guess the South will rise again… and again…

Other gems from the report: ” Kentucky will likely experience the third largest crop losses in the country. By mid-century, Kentucky will likely see average losses in its grain and oilseed crops of as much as 32% annually, absent adaptation. By the end of the century, Kentucky’s losses will likely increase to as much as 69% annually.”

“Over the next five to 25 years, Florida will likely see as many as 1,840 additional deaths per year and Texas, as many as 2,580 additional deaths per year due to extreme heat.”

But gee, Mr. Wizard, I thought you just told us that they were all going to get air conditioning?

It’s all in the assumptions of course.

“Our research combines state-of-the-art climate science projections through the year 2100…” Uh-huh, and tell me how that makes you feel?

“When assessing risk related to climate change, it is particularly important to consider outlier events and not just the most likely scenarios. ”

I see, and how long have you felt this way?

“As with classic risk analysis, our work does not take into account the wide range of potential adaptation strategies Southern industries and policymakers will surely pursue in the face of shifting climate impacts.”

Umm, actually classic risk analysis offers several alternatives based on reactions to threats. Didn’t you get the memo? Or take a class? Or read a book?

From the endnotes to the report:

“The “current greenhouse gas emissions pathway” we use throughout the report refers to RCP 8.5.” Ahhh. Basing your standard predictions on an outlier, I see.

“Annual death figures in the report were calculated using state- or region-specific heat-related mortality rates multiplied by that region’s 2012 population.”

So, no thinking at all about increases in air conditioning, take-up of technology such as robots or drones for outside work, no allowances for other adaptations such as telecommuting… and no balancing of your statistics against lower death rates due to cold… Brilliant!

They have achieved Neven-like status.

Umm, Hillary–500 Million Solar Panels?

According to Time, “Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Sunday made tackling climate change one of her key goals were she to enter the White House, pledging to have more than half a billion solar panels installed nationwide by the end of her first term in office.”

I’m a Democrat. Hillary Clinton autographed  my copy of her book. (Bill Clinton autographed my copy of his book, too.) I think Barack Obama will be remembered as one of our finest presidents once he’s safely out of office. In all probability I will vote for Hillary in 2016.

I’m a fan of Hillary Clinton.

I’m a huge fan of solar power. I worked in the industry and have written reports saying it has a glowing future, something I firmly believe. I actually believe that solar power can and probably will rescue us from the worst of global warming, starting around 2075.

I’m a fan of solar power.

But 500 million?

There were 123 million households in the U.S. in 2012, according to the Census Bureau.

Energy Star says there are 5.6 million commercial buildings in the U.S. and 346,000 industrial facilities.

The federal government owns 900,000 buildings.

That totals 130 million buildings, not counting buildings owned by state and local governments. Or churches.

That means that every building in America will have to have 3.84 solar panels on it.

Here are 34 of them:

solar panels

I dunno. Maybe she meant modules, not panels?

I’m not a fan of pie in the sky promises that are pretty obviously undeliverable.

And in four years?

In 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger introduced the California Solar Initiative with the goal of putting solar panels on 1 million California homes. Eight years later they’re at 247,060 solar projects, a good number of which predated the Initiative.

I don’t think the current subsidy structure could handle the increased volume. I’d like to know how lower than average income home owners will afford this. I’d like to know how the 30% of homes that are rented are going to negotiate between landlord and tenant.

President Obama was kneecapped by the climate activists when he came into office, forced to push the Waxman Markey Cap and Trade bill, which turned into a pork-laden monstrosity. This new initiative would do the same thing to Hillary.

I would hate to see Hillary Clinton run on a platform that includes unrealistic projections of solar growth. It would give Trump or whomever too much easy ammunition.

I’m not a fan of pushing the market faster than it can bear, nor of distorting it with budget busting tax rebates and cash subsidies.

I demand a recount!


What Is The Social Cost Of Reducing Carbon?

The World Bank and both the United States and the United Kingdom have chosen not to help developing countries build fossil fuel plants to generate the electricity these countries need to move ahead.

This refusal is designed to reduce emissions of CO2. But there is a social cost associated with it. If the people who otherwise would have had access to electricity are forced to continue burning dung and firewood, many will die from the attendant pollution caused by those much dirtier fuels. The conventional pollution and deforestation may not only harm human health but the surrounding environment as well.

Climate activists make the case that fossil fuel companies should not be subsidized. I happen to agree with them. However, subsidizing green energy sources is different, they claim. New industries with the potential to revolutionize our energy infrastructure deserve government support.

And again I agree with them. I think green energy should receive modest levels of subsidy, as should innovative efforts to improve storage and distribution.

But I at least am aware that there is a social cost to doing what I favor doing. That money might be better spent on vaccines, micronutrients, access to fresh water and more. So far it seems that those other worthy causes are receiving adequate funding, in no small part thanks to private charities. Yanking money away from research into new energy seems a bit like eating the seed corn. But there is a social cost to this spending.

Because they keep good statistics, this is perhaps clearest in the United Kingdom, where government support for green energy in large part consists of allowing utility companies to charge customers more to cover the costs of investing in green energy. The number of English people suffering from fuel poverty has risen every year since this support started and thousands die every winter as they cannot afford the cost of heating their homes.

There of course is a social cost of carbon. It is a negative externality. Sea level rise and increased flooding may cause harm to our grandchildren and their children. It may be appropriate for us to spend money and utilize resources to minimize this threat.

But there is a social cost to reducing carbon. Anyone who goes on (and on) about tackling the social cost of carbon without acknowledging that the sacrifices involved are very real and will be selectively paid, not by those calling for this sacrifice, but by the poorest of those in the emerging countries as well as the more developed nations is engaged in bombastic propaganda.

If you want to discuss the issue, I’m happy to. But the issue has two sides–at least.

If you want to say the future looks like this:

Tesla Powerwall

It is incumbent upon you to acknowledge that it means many more years of this in the developing world:

Woman burning dung

And this closer to home:

Fuel poverty UK

John Cook–Identity Thief

I might actually have several posts today–lots to talk about. But, as always in the climate debate, scandal before science!

John Cook is an Australian and the founder of the Konsensus website ‘Skeptical Science’. It is not Skeptical. It is not Science. It is hysterical condemnation of anyone who opposes the Konsensus view on policy options with regard to climate change.

Cook is not a scientist. Before becoming one of the Leading Lights of the Konsensus, he was a cartoonist. Perhaps that explains some of the flaws in his famous paper “Quantifying the Consensus”, discussed and dissected here and elsewhere.

Update: Andy Skuce volunteers this: “John Cook is not “dressed as a Nazi” in that picture, it’s a Photoshop image. It was done as a joke, by one of the Skeptical Science regulars, in response to people calling us “SS” and Nazis. Of course, it is in very poor taste and should have been deleted, rather than left lying around on the server.”

This is John Cook dressed as a Nazi. He has strange ideas of fun.

Herr Cook

He has other,  stranger ideas of fun. One is stealing the identity of Lubos Motl, a physicist who is skeptical of what the Konsensus says about climate change, and making comments on weblogs.

Identity theft is a crime in some countries–I don’t know if they’ve gotten around to it yet in Australia.

John Cook was co-author (along with Stefan Lewandowsky) of another paper, ‘Recursive Fury‘, that was based on an even earlier paper reporting on the results of an internet survey of climate change skeptics. Recursive Fury had to be retracted because it violated ethical considerations, publishing the names of people the paper incorrectly labeled ‘conspiracy ideationists.’ It has now been republished as Recurrent Fury, the name Sergeant Fury being taken and Samuel L. Jackson considered as unapproachable.

Sergeant Fury

The original paper is very bad. So is the new one.

The survey that led to Recursive Fury (those who criticized the original survey were considered disturbed and available for psychological profiling) was available only on climate alarmist websites. Nonetheless, many who claimed to be skeptics filled out the survey. When the paper was published, many real skeptics noticed when looking at the data that some of those who claimed to be skeptics in actuality looked like they were climate Konsensus believers who were imitating skeptics and falsely answering questions to try and make skeptics look bad–like conspiracy theorists. Falsely impersonating skeptics…

John Cook cheerfully admitted to his friends that he was using the fake identity, falsely impersonating skeptic Lubos Motl. But one of his comments about it was, “John Cook: Sorry about the Lubos thing. Was posting some Lubos comments for the UWA experiment and forgot to log back in as John Cook.” The UWA experiment being the research that led to Recursive Fury.

For those who want to trumpet the story that 97% of climate scientists believe that climate change is real, mostly human caused and catastrophic, please remember that it comes from a non-scientist who steals the identities of his opponents and violates research ethics.

John Cook is now offering an online course meant to educate young people about how awful skeptics are. It is called ‘Making Sense of Climate Denial.’

The Social Cost of Carbon

While I’m trying to get my ducks in a row regarding RCP 8.5, I want to discuss the social cost of carbon (SCC).

Although the immediate trigger for this post is Pat Michaels’ testimony to Congress (found through Watts Up With That), I have been wondering about SCC for some time. Here is Pat Michaels’ testimony:

I have no doubt that those most worried about climate change and the social cost of carbon will ignore Michaels’ testimony, hoping it disappears from public view.

The EPA fact sheet on the Social Cost of Carbon (which of course they have to rename as SC-CO2) is here. They write, “The SC-CO2 is meant to be a comprehensive estimate of climate change damages and includes, among other things, changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damages from increased flood risk and changes in energy system costs, such as reduced costs for heating and increased costs for air conditioning. However, it does not currently include all important damages. The IPCC Fifth Assessment report observed that SC-CO2 estimates omit various impacts that would likely increase damages. The models used to develop SC-CO2 estimates do not currently include all of the important physical, ecological, and economic impacts of climate change recognized in the climate change literature because of a lack of precise information on the nature of damages and because the science incorporated into these models naturally lags behind the most recent research. Nonetheless, the SC-CO2 is a useful measure to assess the benefits of CO2 reductions.”

There is a social cost of carbon. It includes money we spend now and will spend in the future on repairing damage caused by floods, heatwaves, sea level rise, etc. that are worse than they would have been due to climate change.

As the World Resources Institute writes, “In the case of climate change, the government calculates the cost imposed on society globally by each additional tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas. These include health impacts, economic dislocation, agricultural changes, and other effects that climate change can impose on humanity. The benefit to society of avoiding those costs is summed up in the social cost of carbon.

In 2009 an interagency team of U.S. government specialists, tasked to estimate the SCC, reported a range of values from $5 to $65 per tonne of carbon dioxide. The choice of a final figure (or range of figures) is, in itself, a major policy decision, since it sets a likely ceiling for the cost per tonne that any federal regulation could impose on the economy to curb CO2. At $5 a tonne, government could do very little to regulate CO2; at $65, it could do significantly more. Higher SCC numbers, such as the United Kingdom’s range of $41–$124 per tonne of CO2 with a central value of $83, would justify, from an economics perspective, even more rigorous regulation.”

These current and potential impacts are studied diligently and are calculated frequently, always with different results. Skeptics who don’t think that climate change will be significant or severe therefore tend to ignore the discussion or laugh at the imprecise and contradictory results. They shouldn’t.

I don’t want to replicate or even discuss in detail the factors that are covered by high powered think tanks and academia. I don’t want to debate the wide range or optimum value of SCC. I think it’s a political game where activists come up with high values and skeptics come up with low values and I don’t believe either set.

I want to discuss two things. First, the social cost of carbon is already high and getting higher, despite the lack of impacts of climate change on our real world. This is because we are spending large sums of money studying anthropogenic climate change, creating communities of professionals charged with advocating mitigation or preparing for adaptation, launching satellites to monitor climate change, lobbying politicians, sending messages to a largely indifferent public, etc. This costs a lot of money. It continues today and will almost certainly increase.

The point is that money spent in this way is part of the Social Cost of Carbon, even if there is no climate change.

The obvious related point is that I don’t ever see included in these calculations the opportunity costs related to climate change. We have spent many billions of dollars on dealing with climate change. If we were not spending this money on it we could either spend it on something else or put it back in our wallets.


I find it somewhat distressing that of the billions (actually that could read hundreds of billions, depending on how you categorize certain expenses) spent on climate change, very little of it has been spent on building sea walls, relocating roads or towns at risk of sea level rise or floods, funding research into drought resistant crops or pilot studies of geoengineering–any of the concrete steps we will end up taking if climate change is as urgent a problem as the activists suggest. Instead we are spending it on conferences and television commercials.

I actually consider that insane. At least the EPA is spending money (well, forcing companies to spend their money) on actually reducing the amount of CO2 put into the atmosphere.  At least government bodies that approve subsidies for solar or wind are spending their money on reducing emissions. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are just about the only ones that are doing something concrete.  Everybody else is just blowing smoke.

Coincidentally, the EPA and subsidizing bodies are the ones getting the most hate mail and negative coverage.

RCP 8.5: Foundation of Current Climate Discussions

This really is just about the worst post ever. I’m leaving it up as I hope to update it with better information. Read on at your own risk…

Picking up where we left off yesterday, Judith Curry thinks we should take the ‘plausible worst case scenario’ on which to base our plans for living with climate change in the 21st century.

The IPCC has a case that they are putting forward as just such a worst case scenario. It is called RCP 8.5. It is based on what the IPCC says are ‘internally consistent set of economic assumptions’ and is one of four such scenarios. RCP 8.5 is the most pessimistic.

RCP stands for ‘Representative Concentration Pathway’. It attempts to chart the increase in forcings on our atmosphere, measured in watts per square meter. Most of the assumptions are adopted wholesale from the scenarios that RCP replaced–the SREs used in prior versions of IPCC reports AR3 and AR4 .

RCP 8.5 uses assumptions from the most pessimistic SRE, variant A1F1 if you believe Skeptical Science or A2r if you believe the RCP database.

RCP 8.5’s answers to the important question are, emissions will more than triple during this century, radiative forcing will quadruple and temperatures will rise 4.9C over the pre-industrial period.

To evaluate its fitness for purpose we need to examine the assumptions involved. We should be aware of the worst case scenario, but it has to be plausible.

These assumptions don’t appear to be in any one place, either by the term RCP 8.5, SRES A1F1 or SRES Ar2. If anyone can help me find them I will be forever in your debt.

At Climate Change National Forum, John Nielsen-Gammon describes RCP 8.5: “RCP8.5 was developed to represent a high-end emissions scenario. “Compared to the scenario literature RCP8.5 depicts thus a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity.” (Riahi et al. 2011) RCP8.5 comes in around the 90th percentile of published business-as-usual (or equivalently, baseline) scenarios, so it is higher than most business-as-usual scenarios. (van Vuuren et al. 2011a).”

Here are the assumptions underlying RCP 8.5:

Population: They assume population will reach 12 billion by 2100. This is well above the UN median projection of 10.1 billion, but less than their high variation of 15.8 billion.

Urbanization: SRES A2r assumes 85% urbanization by 2100

Emissions: RCP 8.5 assumes peak emissions in 2090 at 27.5 PgC (petagrams of carbon)

Concentrations: RCP 8.5 assumes CO2 concentrations reaching 950 ppm by 2100, more than double current concentrations of 400 ppm.

GDP: Skeptical Science has a chart saying that RCP 8.5 shows global GDP growth to a little less than $200 trillion in US 2000 dollars, which is bizarre, because everybody else shows results in 2005 US dollars. I can’t trust them, but it’s really hard to find these figures. (Help!) The US DOE Energy Information Administration predicts global GDP to reach $200 trillion by 2040…

Energy Consumption: It appears that RCP 8.5 projects energy consumption to reach 1,657 quads by 2100. In 2010 the globe consumed 523 quads. Sadly, I think they have underestimated consumption–as faithful readers know, my projection for energy consumption at my other blog serves as its title–I project consumption to reach 3000 quads by 2075, before stabilizing.

Okay, I don’t even know if I should publish this post. In population, RCP 8.5 looks mid-range, if somewhat pessimistic. They really think GDP is going to grow slowly. But energy consumption? That looks low.

I confess I need help with this. If help arrives I will update this. Quickly, as it is a bit of an embarrassment.

Ah, well–work in progress.

Hansen’s Catastrophic Vision of Climate Change This Century

Retired NASA scientist and climate guru James Hansen is coming out this week with another paper predicting catastrophic climate change. The paper is not yet available but has apparently been sent to some in the media, notably here and here.

As the Washington Post article says, “In the new study, Hansen and his colleagues suggest that the “doubling time” for ice loss from West Antarctica — the time period over which the amount of loss could double — could be as short as 10 years. In other words, a non-linear process could be at work, triggering major sea level rise in a time frame of 50 to 200 years. By contrast, Hansen and colleagues note, the IPCC assumed more of a linear process, suggesting only around 1 meter of sea level rise, at most, by 2100.” The Daily Beast article says Hansen predicts ‘several meters’ of sea level rise this century.


Hansen’s paper apparently also predicts possible disruptions to major ocean currents, potentially blocking the circulation “in which (in the northern hemisphere) warm water travels northward, and then colder, denser water sinks and travels back south again.”

Judith Curry has a good post up at Climate Etc. discussing this and related issues. However, as with most discussion of future impacts, she calls for close examination of the ‘worst plausible case’ to direct our response. As I think that is close to suicidal, I wrote the following as a comment there and reproduce it here.

“Sadly, I think the emphasis on ‘worst case scenarios’ does not really serve our interests, especially if the worst cases are also the least likely.

I think it would be extremely useful to have a graduated approach for a number of reasons. First, even if temperature and sea level rises prove to be high, given the stop-start nature of rises in GAT over the past century we can expect to spend a considerable period of time dealing with lower levels and whatever impacts they bring.

Preparing a response to different levels of climate impacts would allow for a measured response. Sea walls built to deal with 98cm of sea level rise could easily build in a margin of 50%, which might be adequate overall if Nic Lewis is right, but would certainly buy us enough time to see if Hansen’s catastrophic nightmares have any chance of coming to pass.

The same is true of other pre-adaptation measures. It is also true of attempts to mitigate climate change. Radically reducing coal usage in the developed world may actually be enough of a response, if sensitivity is low. But even if more will be required of us in the future, allowing the emerging countries to burn coal for the first decades of this century may be enough to generate the resilience they need to make cuts later if they are required.

Furthermore, preparing for modest impacts now would also buy time for technological innovation to spare us from huge expenses now. Using the technology of 2040 to prepare for impacts in 2075 is likely to be just as effective and far less expensive than using what is available today.

The activist side of the climate debate has consciously tried to maintain the world’s focus on outlier estimates of temperature climbs, sea level rise and sensitivity estimates. It keeps them in the news, allows them to shout denier and probably generates more funding for research.

But it does not serve our needs.”

I short, I label this ‘almost suicidal’ in terms of the politics of climate change, as it allows the climate activists to set the agenda using outlier estimates. But it is also hugely destructive for those of us advocating a more measured response over a longer period of time, as the activists who have been attacking organizations like the Breakthrough Institute, the EcoModernists and proponents of Fast Mitigation would like to take all the options these more moderate voices put forward off the table. And we need those options.

We need to remember that in terms of present impacts on our environment, climate change is an asterisk in the totals when compared to habitat loss, over hunting and over fishing, conventional pollution and introduction of alien species.

We need to remember that in terms of acting against climate change, mitigating black carbon, deforestation, HFCs and methane will reduce forcings more quickly and more cost-effectively than the measures proposed by the catastrophe activists.

In terms of solutions being put into place, we need to remember the adage ‘measure twice, cut once’. Instead of throwing windmill farms up almost at random, we need to site better and integrate with existing generation more fully. The same is true of solar.

Perhaps most importantly, we need to re-evaluate opposition to nuclear and hydro-electric, the producers of 98% of non-emissive energy in the world, and figure out how to more effectively implement these technologies that have worked for us in the past.

No, Eli, Global Warming Is Not Like A Catastrophic Earthquake

Eli Rabett is trying to compare (he misuses the world ‘correlate’, but let’s not quibble) a potential large earthquake in the Northwestern United States with global warming. The two phenomena are similar in the way a pig is similar to a painting. Or a tractor. (Would that then mean that paintings are also similar to tractors?)

Which is to say they are not at all similar.

Rabett writes, “The correlations I see between this issue and climate are in the seriousness of risk, timescale, and effort needed to respond to the problem.” There is no correlation between a large earthquake and global warming for any of these factors.

Seriousness of risk: A large earthquake in the Pacific Northwest is postulated to create a tsunami. The director of FEMA Region X said ““Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.” This would endanger 7 million people living in the affected area. Global warming, on the other hand, moves at a glacial pace. Sea level rise is currently 3 mm per year. And although the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet might succumb to a combination of mechanical pressure and warmer waters at its base, its collapse would still play out over decades, giving ample time to move people and valuables inland.

The sea level rise expected this century from global warming will not be as great as the distance from the bottom to the top of your computer screen. Sea level rise amounts to one inch every 8 years.

This is a tsunami:

Timescale: An earthquake is over in a few minutes. Climate change is something that started 70 years ago, is barely noticeable now and is not expected to hit its stride until the middle of this century. See the difference?

Effort needed to respond to the problem: We are already preparing both both climate change and earthquakes. The difference is we can adapt to climate change. At this point in time there is very little we can do to adapt to a 9.5 earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. The best we could do is move people out of harm’s way.

No, Eli, earthquakes accompanied by tsunamis have nothing at all in common with climate change. However, you inadvertently made on telling point, writing, “Having said all that, one thing that did bother me with the article is that some things seemed exaggerated.” While that I believe is not true for earthquakes and tsunamis (the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killed a quarter of a million people), it is certainly true of climate change.

Peruse The Climate Change News

Or as we used to call it, ‘Point Counter-Point.’


Or, as it’s known in the climate debate,


Part 1: I wanna know what snow is… I want you to show me…


Recent snowfalls at ski fields in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains may have been good news for holidaymakers, but studies have shown there might be disappointment ahead for snow lovers in the long term. …Australia must adapt to warmer conditions caused by climate change, that is increasingly turning the alpine landscape from white to green. …Study co-author Professor Catherine Pickering said the current trends did not look promising and good years like the recent snow dump had become less frequent.”


Winter in Boston has officially come to an end: The last of the leftover snow in the city finally melted on Tuesday, July 14. “The pile officially melted today,” Boston mayor Marty Walsh announced, noting that the end of the 70-foot “snow farms” in Boston’s Seaport District were finally gone, leaving a pile of gravel and refuse behind.”


“The UK government* says that climate change poses risks that demand to be treated as seriously as the threat  of nuclear war. **

* Well, a report done by the Centre for Science and Policy, a ‘networking organization’.

** The report was ‘sponsored’ by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office among others, including the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.


“The risk of climate change demands a similarly holistic assessment” (as analysis of nuclear disarmament and proliferation).

Funnily enough, that’s from the same report. In fact, that’s the  only mention of nuclear threat in the same report that produced the first quote…


“California is a global leader in combating climate change, but it hasn’t been enough.”  “The state has emerged as a global leader in fighting climate change, despite producing only about one percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. It has created a dizzying array of programs to cut pollution.”


“California electricity rates to undergo biggest change in 15 years”  “California regulators radically revamped the way electricity rates work in the state, approving changes Friday that will raise monthly utility bills for the most energy-efficient homeowners while giving many bigger energy users a break.”


“Rude and Touchy”

“What caught my eye was what he said with regards to Matt Ridley and Nigel Lawson:

Their influence is less and less I am happy to say. The facts of science, life and measured views of people like Pope Francis are undermining them. They have become just rude instead of arguing and they are so touchy.”


From the same post: “To be fair, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Matt Ridley being actually rude.”


“Climate Change Seen as Top Global Threat”  “This is particularly true in Latin America and Africa, where majorities in most countries say they are very concerned about this issue.”


“Polls show most Americans believe in climate change, but give it low priority”

Global warming also ranked near the bottom of Americans’ 2014 priorities for President Obama and Congress (28% said it was a top priority). Similarly, when asked last November about long-range foreign policy goals, 37% named global climate change as a top long-range goal; by comparison, 83% cited guarding against terrorist attacks and 81% named protecting American jobs as top goals.”

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Global Drought Has Decreased Since 1901

(Hat tip to Climate Depot): “The annual time series of globally averaged % drought indicates a mean value of 66%, a range of about 4%, and no long-term trend (−0.2% per 100 years, non-statistically significant)”

This rather unambiguous statement comes from a recently published paper “Variability and Trends in Global Drought,” published in the journal Earth and Space Science.

“Monthly precipitation (P) and potential evapotranspiration (PET) from the CRUTS3.1 data set are used to compute monthly P minus PET (PMPE) for the land areas of the globe. The percent of the global land area with annual sums of PMPE less than zero are used as an index of global drought (% drought) for 1901 through 2009. Results indicate that for the past century % drought has not changed, even though global PET and temperature (T) have increased. Although annual global PET and T have increased, annual global P also has increased and has mitigated the effects of increased PET on % drought.”

Temperatures have risen and the potential for evaporation has too. But increased precipitation has more than counter-balanced this and so the annual occurrence of drought has decreased globally. As that is in line with what global warming theorists have written–that global precipitation should increase by about 5% due to global warming–this finding should not be too surprising.

But because we live in a climate dominated by propagandists pushing the idea that we are undergoing constant climate catastrophe, the finding will probably not be welcomed.


I wonder if that will show up in the Guardian? They managed to ignore Sheffield and Woods when they reported the same thing in 2012.

Funny how that works.

“the doctor is saying ‘you are gravely ill.” Climate Checkup

Jeff Severinghaus of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography  said if this is Earth’s annual checkup, “the doctor is saying ‘you are gravely ill.”

Severinghaus was referring to the NOAA report just released, titled ‘State of the Climate.’

Let’s see if these excerpts from that report describe a planet that is ‘gravely ill.’

Carbon dioxide: “Using measurements taken worldwide, scientists estimated 2014 global average carbon dioxide concentration at 397.2 parts per million (ppm), an increase of 1.9 ppm over the 2013 global average.”

Temperatures: “Globally averaged surface temperature for 2014 was 0.27° -0.29° Celsius (0.49°-0.52°F) above the 1981–2010 average. Depending on the small differences among different data sets, 2014 was either the warmest or tied-for-warmest year since records began in the mid-to-late 1800s.”

Precipitation: “When taken as a whole, precipitation over land was generally below average, while precipitation over the oceans was above average. … Southeastern North America, eastern Europe, northeastern South America, central Africa, much of southeast Asia, and eastern Australia were drier than usual. Compared to 2013, however, dry conditions over western North America, northern Eurasia, and southern Africa became less extreme. Above-average precipitation fell over southern Europe and central South America, with the exception of Brazil.”

Soil mosture: “While slightly wetter than 2013, the global average soil moisture in 2014 was near-normal.”

Sea level: “In 2014, global average sea level was 2.6 inches (67 mm) above the 1993 average, which is the highest yearly average in the satellite record (1993-present). Overall, sea level continues to rise at a rate of one-eighth of an inch (3.2 mm) per year.”

Fires: “Overall, total global fire emissions in 2014 were on par with the long-term average. Emissions were much higher than normal in North America (mostly Canada) and the Indonesian archipelago. While North America and Indonesia saw elevated fire emissions, lower than-average emissions were observed in South America and Africa due to a combination of lower tropical deforestation rates and land use changes.”

Glaciers: “In 2014, glaciers continued to shrink. Based on an analysis of more than three dozen reference glaciers with long-term monitoring, the 2014 BAMS State of the Climate reports that in 2014, glaciers experienced an average loss of 853 millimeters of water equivalent, meaning the equivalent depth of water (spread out over the entire glacier area) that would be produced from the amount of melted snow or ice. This loss was not quite as severe the loss from 2013 (887 millimeters), but it still counted among the larger losses recorded since 1980.”

Temperature Extremes: “In terms of both warm days and cool nights, cool conditions prevailed across large parts of the North America, especially the eastern half of the continent. Across much of the rest of the globe, though, 2014 conditions were unusually warm compared to 1961–1990.”

River Outflow: “Overall, however, there was a large decrease in the spring’s high-flow season compared to 2013. Most rivers showed lower than usual conditions except for a few rivers near the Mediterranean Sea such as the Danube. Asia experienced a considerable low-flow deficit in August. The Ganges–Brahmaputra, northern Indochina peninsula, Lena, and East Asia were in a low-flow state, while the Kolyma, Ob, and river systems in southwestern China were in a high-flow state.

North America, Africa, and Australia experienced an average year in terms of annual amount and seasonal variations of runoff, though the peak occurred one month earlier than the long-term average in Australia. Rivers in the northern part of North America such as the Yukon and the Mackenzie experienced high flow, while rivers in the southern part of North America (including the Mississippi and the Colorado) and in Africa (the Congo and the Nile) had lower flow than their long-term average.

The Fifth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that over the long term, runoff and river discharge generally have generally increased at high latitudes, with some exceptions. However, the report concluded, “no long term trend in discharge was reported for the world’s major rivers on a global scale.”

In all honesty, does that sound like a patient who is ‘gravely ill?’

2014 was also a year of increasing vegetation cover over the world’s surface, record harvests, declining mortality and morbidity, the further retreat of malaria, polio and other vector born diseases, an increase in global GDP and per capita income, low levels of storms and storm intensity.

Maybe we should be asking a few pointed questions about our doctor…

bad doctor

Out Of Everything We Do To The Oceans, Is Climate Change The Worst?

… It is, according to this story in Carbon Brief.

Never mind what BP did to the Gulf, never mind the Exxon Valdez. Never mind over-fishing, pollution, de-oxygenated blooms at the mouths of rivers worldwide.


The Carbon Brief story references  a paper just published in Nature Communications titled “Spatial and temporal changes in cumulative human impacts on the world’s ocean.”

The paper says “Globally, increases in climate change stressors (sea surface temperature anomalies, ocean acidification and ultraviolet radiation) drove most of the increase in cumulative impact, confirming the need to address climate change to maintain and sustain marine ecosystems globally.”

However, they also write “Nearly 66% of the ocean experienced increases in cumulative impact over the 5-year study span  Increases tended to be located in tropical, subtropical and coastal regions, with average increases in 77% of all exclusive economic zones.” That would suggest that other human contributions might be more significant.

And in fact, according to the paper, “Overall, countries with greater increases in coastal population had larger 5-year changes in cumulative impacts.”

Well, okay–they suckered me in. Let’s look at sea surface temperatures, which, according to the European Environmental Agency are 1 degree Celsius higher than they were 140 years ago.

Here is how they describe the impacts:

“Some organisms are now appearing earlier in their seasonal cycles than in the past.”

“The consequences include increased vulnerability of North Sea cod and stocks to over-fishing”

“Fish and plankton have expanded their geographical distribution further north in response to increasing temperatures. Depending on the species this expansion occurs at an average rate of 30 -100 km per year.”

The horror.

My problem with the paper is that they lump together various potential impacts–sea surface temperatures, acidification and UV radiation–and assign it a score that is hard to disambiguate. The only impacts I have seen discussed with regards to acidification are to coral reefs, and it appears that impacts are being re-evaluated as the reefs show surprising resilience–as soon as other human impacts, such as dynamite fishing, are removed from the picture.

I have seen no discussion of the impacts of UV radiation. Perhaps a better-informed reader will guide me.

The upshot appears to be that 1C of warming sea surface temperatures have changed seasonal movement and growth patterns in some species, very similar to what has happened on land.

Until there is greater visibility on how their metrics are defined I will remain of the opinion that climate change has had far less impact on our oceans than pollution, over-fishing and introduction of alien species. Just as it has been on land.

20 Feet Sea Level Rises… Won’t Happen Overnight

The migration of a climate meme from over-hyped press release to uninformed discussion in more mainstream outlets is a constant in the climate debate. Just 5 days after publication of the paper “Sea Level Rise Due to Polar Ice-Sheet Mass Loss During Past Warm Periods” comes a story loosely based on it in Market Business asking “Will 20 foot rise of sea water level engulf whole earth?

They are joined in this by Tech Times, ZME Science, Climate Progress (surprise!), and (I’m not kidding here) several hundred other news articles. They don’t answer the question, but I will. No. The ZME article even shows a picture of what Europe would look like after 20 feet of SLR. It is greatly changed. It is still there. We’re not ready for this fellow yet. noah-and-animals-39461-print I read a handful of these articles. They all use the same quote from Andrea Dutton. “It won’t happen overnight.” But they bury that in frightening language and give no estimate of when it might actually take place.

This is despite the widely publicized projection of the IPCC in AR5–that between 26 and 98 centimeters of sea level rise is predicted for 2100. The 2007 IPCC report expects melting of the Greenland ice sheet to occur over about a 1,000 year period, delaying much of the expected sea level rise for many centuries. I have seen estimates of 3,000 years for full meltdown of the Greenland ice caps if climate change continues unabated. Fully melting the vast Anatrctic ice cap will take much longer.

They also use the same term to describe this 20 feet of sea level rise–‘irreversible.’ That’s despite the fact that the study is based on prior periods of high sea levels–that were reversed. That’s, umm, why we have this ice around us today.

Point being that like the game of telephone, as a message filters through the various levels of the media, the factual content is not improved with each passage. We can surmise that there will be periods in our future when all the ice has melted. That’s because there have been periods in the past when it happened.

But scientists are not predicting in within 1,000 years. Or 2,000 years. Can human caused climate change bring that date nearer? Yes, many scientists think so and on balance I agree. But how much closer? Jury’s still out. More importantly, if and when that day arrives there will still be dry ground for us to walk on. Land mammals survived the previous ice-free periods–even polar bears. It will be hugely disruptive for our remote descendants and if something we can do will push that day into the even more remote future, we should do it. But saying ‘it won’t happen overnight’ is not a scientific statement. It is a cheap way of not saying ‘it won’t happen for millenia.’

Zero Room For Climate Debate: Greg Laden Plays With Himself

On June 25, Greg Laden posted an update to his post slamming NY Times journalist/blogger Andrew Revkin for sleeping with the enemy–giving aid and comfort to the enemy–being a Klimate Kwisling, a traitor to the cause. Yeah, Laden’s nuttier than  a fruitcake.

Laden had opined that there was zero room for debate on climate science.


His update was a riposte to Revkin’s reply to him. Revkin had written: ““Zero room.” That’s scientific.”

To which Laden replied

“Yes, it is. There is zero room for debate when an issue has been pretty much settled. In science debate can come up anywhere, you never know, but for all practical purposes we do not debate if the Earth is hollow or solid or flat or round, or that germs cause many diseases, or that frogs reproduce as most other tetrapods do rather then spontaneously emerging from mud.”  He later continued, “So to repeat my original post, I said “… there is absolutely zero room for considering the reality of climate change or its severity.”

Ya know… if that’s really the case then why is Tamino debating (and losing to) Judith Curry on the… ummm, severity of climate change?

Why is Adrew Dessler debating Richard Lindzen on sensitivity and the Iris Effect? They’ve done so publicly, in the peer-reviewed literature and in the blogosphere.

Why is And Then There’s Physics debating Sharapova  Zharkova (think I’ve been following a little tooo much tennis? Thanks ATTP for the correction.) on… um… the severity of climate change?

Why is the Australian  Bureau of Meteorology debating Jo Nova, Jennifer Marohasy and seemingly hundreds of interested Australians on umm… the existence of climate change?

Oh, wait–here’s Greg Laden in the comments section of the post saying there’s no debate… “As stated, there is debate over climate sensitivity, and no one expects the value to converge until it converges … ”


In Praise of Judith Curry’s Week in Review–and the Social Cost of Carbon

As someone who tries to keep up with stories related to energy and climate change, I know how hard it is to keep your finger on the pulse. I used to do a weekly review here at TLW and it was actually very close to work (shudder).

Judith Curry at Climate Etc. has done a remarkable job following the various segments relevant to the climate debate. This week’s post on energy and policy is no exception. I want to explore one of the stories she linked to in a little more depth.

If you think that the climate change debate is all about temperatures and models, her link to a discussion of the social cost of carbon should wake you up to the fact that it’s all about the money. And I’m not talking about contributions from the Koch brothers or subsidizing solar power.

When companies pollute the water or air and they don’t have to pay for the damages that pollution causes, it’s called a negative externality. Now that CO2 is classed in the U.S. (wrongly, IMO) as a pollutant, there are efforts to quantify the damages and to create a metric known as the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC).

This is done by estimating the price in today’s dollars to repair the damage a unit of CO2 (or equivalent) will cause in the future.

I think it’s a legitimate exercise in theory, but I don’t place much stock in early efforts. One of the reasons why it’s difficult is that people on different sides of the climate debate cannot agree on what is called the ‘discount rate’.

One of the stories Judith Curry linked to shows just how contentious this can be. It has a point of view–heck, it’s titled ‘OMB Whitewash on the Social Cost of Carbon‘–but whatever your stance on the impacts of climate change, there is good information here.

That includes a good plain-language explanation of discounting:

“Present dollars are more important than future dollars. If you have to suffer damage worth (say) $10,000, you will be relieved to learn that it will hit you in 20 years, rather than tomorrow. This preference isn’t simply a psychological one of wanting to defer pain. No: Because market interest rates are positive, it is cheaperfor you to deal with a $10,000 damage that won’t hit for 20 years. That’s because you can set aside a smaller sum today and invest it (perhaps in safe bonds), so that the value of your side fund will grow to $10,000 in 20 years’ time.

In this framework, it is easy to see how crucial the interest rate is, on those safe bonds. If your side fund grows at 7% per year, then you need to set aside about $2,584 today in order to have $10,000 in 20 years. But if the interest rate is only 3%, then you need to put aside $5,537 today in order to have $10,000 to pay for the damage in 20 years.

An equivalent way of stating these facts is to say that the present-discounted value of the looming $10,000 in damages (which won’t hit for 20 years) is $2,584 using a 7% discount rate, but $5,537 using a 3% discount rate. The underlying assumption about the size and timing of the damage is the same—the only thing we changed is the discount rate used in our assessment of it.”


Faithful readers of this space will know that much of the criticism of Nicholas Stern’s massive report on the costs of climate change and efforts to combat it were centered on his choice of a very low discount rate, which greatly colored his conclusions.

It’s an important issue. CAGW alarmists and Konsensus Kooks prattle on about the end of the world, saying we are heading for an environment that looks like a Mad Max movie or worse. However, in actual fact even Stern only predicts economic losses of between 1% and 5% of global GDP as a result of climate change. (And to arrive at that figure he not only used a low discount rate, but also over-estimated population rise and the rise in CO2 concentrations.)

But it’s a confusing issue as well. Those who most want action on climate change are also the ones urging a small discount rate, which pushes up the cost of fighting climate change, often to the point where the struggle seems impossible. I imagine they feel that if the cost is too low nobody will take it seriously. And just perhaps they hope that the fight against climate change will get more funding if the cost is higher.

My point is that most of the time we are focused on small ball. Temperature adjustments, solar variation, foolish pronouncements by people who would be better off keeping silent–all of that can be reduced to trivia by a simple accountant’s decision.

More importantly, a lot of these decisions are being made now–and made perhaps in too much haste. We may indeed be headed for a long term future of low interest rates that justify the EPA’s choice of a low discount rate. We’ve already had a long period of almost zero interest rates and Japan’s example shows that such periods can last longer than anyone expects.

However, at some point inflation will return and interest rates will rise. This can confound estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon.

How The Media Confuses People Regarding Climate Change

I want to highlight two stories that show how some parts of the media distort the truth on climate change.

The first comes to us via Bishop Hill and it recounts the story of an encounter between a skeptic journalist and a reporter for the Toronto Star. As can be shown in the video, the Toronto Star reporter flat out lies in the article she wrote on the subject. It turns out that the skeptic was not the bad guy and the reporter was not the good woman. The 9-year-old kid comes off okay, though.

The second example is from the Guardian, the UK’s self-appointed (or self-anointed) champion of climate activism.

Google News returns 66 articles covering a new paper in the journal Science. The paper is titled,”Sea Level Rise Due to Polar Ice-Sheet Mass Loss During Past Warm Periods.” I didn’t read them all but I read enough of them to know that the Guardian missed something that others did not.

The paper shows that in past warm periods, much of the ice melted from the polar ice caps and Greenland and contributed greatly to sea level rise, as much as six meters more than current levels. This is not exactly news–we’ve known that there were ice-free periods on Earth where the seas were much higher.

But other articles on the paper and its subject managed to provide some perspective. As CBS News reported, “The ominous aspect to this is that CO2 levels are continuing to rise, so we are entering uncharted territory,” Clark said. “What is not as certain is the time frame, which is less well-constrained. We could be talking many centuries to a few millennia to see the full impact of melting ice sheets.”

That’s something the Guardian neglected to mention. They’re happy to write, “Dutton’s analysis was able to get better estimates of the upper bounds of sea level rise. And those results don’t bode well for the world’s coastlines as they showed that sea levels were up to 42 ft higher than the present.

“These numbers are consistent with our study on sea level commitment,” Anders Levermann, a sea level rise expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research who authored a 2013 study, said.

But there is no mention of the time frame. This is what the Guardian says: “The big outstanding question — and the one that’s most relevant to people living along the coasts — is just how long it could take sea levels to rise to such great heights. The process isn’t linear. It’s currently accelerating and that trend is expected to continue.”

So, something that has happened repeatedly before and may happen 3,000 years in the future if nothing else interferes with the climate is presented as a man-made event that could happen at any time.

It is clear that many media organizations have made an editorial commitment to support activists advocating robust action on climate change. I have no objection to that–privately owned media companies are entitled to have a point of view,  although it is usually better off in the opinion pages rather than coloring beat reporting.

However, stories like this are at best an advertorial for activists beating the drum for an outlier view of climate sensitivity. At worst it is propaganda.

“a nature hike through the Book of Revelation…”

Al Gore is at it again, telling the Climate Summit of the Americas that fighting climate change will be good for the economy and our current weather is like a nature hike through the book of Revelation.

Maybe he massaged his message a little bit. Turnabout is fair play.

Gore denounced the use of the planet’s atmosphere as an “open sewer.” He also revived the story that “From 2006 to 2010, [Syria] had a climate-related drought that killed destroyed 60 per cent of their farms and killed 80 per cent of their livestock,” describing the country as “the gates of hell.” He also helpfully noted that Germany recorded its highest temperature ever on July 8 of this year. Does that make Germany the gates of heck?

Are we treating our atmosphere as an open sewer? “Air pollution levels in developed countries have been decreasing dramatically in recent decades. However, in developing countries and in countries in transition, air pollution levels are still at relatively high levels, though the levels have been gradually decreasing or have remained stable during rapid economic development.” So, umm, no. Developing countries have a lot yet to do, but they are doing it.

Was Syria’s drought caused by climate (I have to assume he means climate change, but with Al Gore you just never know)? Or did the fact that the population doubled in 25 years mean demand for water grew but supply instead decreased, as Turkish dams withheld water from Syria? Did the 88% of Syrian consumption suffer because of climate change or because of heavy water pollution?

Human caused climate change is at most 70 years old. “The world’s earliest documented water war happened 4,500 years ago, when the armies of Lagash and Umma, city-states near the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, battled with spears and chariots after Umma’s king drained an irrigation canal leading from the Tigris. “Enannatum, ruler of Lagash, went into battle,” reads an account carved into an ancient stone cylinder, and “left behind 60 soldiers [dead] on the bank of the canal.”

Syria may be a gate of hell. But it may be because of decades of autocratic government and large-scale mismanagement rather than human contributions to drought, a phenomenon that has plagued all of the Middle East for thousands of years.

Germany had hot temperatures on July 8. But… ” The heat wave blanketing wide parts of Europe has pushed temperatures in Germany to their highest since record keeping began in 1881.” I guess it means on how you define ever.’ “Germany’s all-time heat record was toppled July 5 in Kitzingen, topping out at 40.3 degrees Celsius (104.5 degrees Fahrenheit), according to Weather Underground’s Dr. Jeff Masters.”

However, Wikipedia cites much higher temperatures in the past for Germany, with some states setting their high temperature record as far back as 1929 and several others in 1940, and all of these highs much higher than 104.5F.

So, yeah, sure I’ll believe that fighting climate change will be good for the economy. Look. I support renewable energy. I want solar on every roof. I even want solar on every wall. And I want that to mitigate climate change.

But it’s going to cost more money than our current coal and natural gas generation. The same way that a Tesla or a Prius are more expensive than comparable cars running on fossil fuels.

There are other reasons than price to buy a car. There are other reasons than price to choose a fuel for generating electricity.

But lying to people about it, lying to people about everything,  isn’t going to help bring about the change we need.



Playing Fair In The 75th Annual Climate Games

The UK Guardian has an article today about how the world’s largest public relations firm has lost four top executives and two clients because it deigned to do business with fossil fuel industry companies.

This is hardball, putting pressure  to divest yourself from a profitable client and the rubber is meeting the road. After all, selling a stock will almost certainly make you money–firing a client loses you dough.

Edelmen, the PR firm in question, already turns away business from tobacco companies and gun manufacturers. So why not fossil fuels? Well, aside from the fact that fossil fuel companies have both more money and more customers…

Given that I’m a pretty constant critic of Konsensus Games, it may surprise some readers that I think this is a fair way of putting pressure on organizations on the other side of whatever debate you might be having. If I’m a big client of a PR agency, I would certainly feel free to look at their client list and think about taking my business elsewhere if I don’t see a good fit.

But although I think it’s a fair tactic to use, I doubt if it’s going to be effective. PR agencies are not famous for their sweet souls and gentle practices and should Edelman bid farewell to fossil fuel companies there will be no shortage of flacks lining up to take their place.

shaw quote communications

In the long run it makes climate change a game that can be measured. We can add up wins and losses, points scored, etc. It already is enough like fantasy football that this kind of change might be beneficial.

It’s better than the way the game is played now, with employers getting calls from Konsensus Kooks complaining that they’ve hired an evile denier (and I speak from personal experience about this). Looking at client wins/losses and monetary effects is far less personal. Maybe we can get Caesar Flickerman to announce the results.


$1 Trillion to Fight Climate Change… is only the beginning

An outfit called The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate has released a report called ‘Seizing the Global Opportunity.’ I like people who think big, so I went straight to the report. Or tried to…


It identifies six opportunities to accelerate the trend to low carbon ‘growth and prosperity':

  1. Rapid innovation and declining costs of clean energy technologies
  2. Using the fall in oil prices as an opportunity to advance carbon pricing and fossil fuel subsidy reform
  3. Growing international attention to infrastructure investment, particularly in the context of low interest rates
  4. Heightened awareness of climate risks in the financial sector
  5. Rising interest in low-carbon growth pathways in emerging and developing economies
  6. An acceleration of the decline in the carbon intensity of the global economy

A report they published last year, Better Growth, Better Climate showed how countries at different levels of development can achieve stronger economic growth, reduce poverty, advance development goals, and reduce climate risk at the same time. Guess I’d better read that too.

Confusingly, their first chapter does not follow their first opportunity, being instead focused on ‘accelerating low carbon development in the world’s cities.’ They write,

“We live in an urban era. Cities are growing at an unprecedented rate, particularly in the developing world, with 1.4 million people added to urban areas each week. By 2030, around 60% of the global population will live in cities.91 Cities are engines of economic growth and social change, expected to produce about 85% of global GDP in 201592– and they generate 71–76% of energy-related global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.93” 

Hmm. I don’t know how they define energy-related GHG emissions, but that seems a bit higher than I would have guessed. I’ll have to check their footnoted documents. Sigh…

They note that 80 cities have joined a ‘Compact of Mayors’ (is that a collective noun?) to promote tracking and reducing GHGs. But for concrete policy measures they pass us off to another website with a Gaggle of Papers. The report does not offer one single proposal. I find that very strange.

Strange enough that I halt my reading of the report to actually find out what The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and who are its members.

Which brings me to the Stockholm Environment Institute website, which explains, “The Commission is a partnership of seven economic and policy research institutes –  of which the Stockholm Environment Institute is one – located in the US, China, Europe, India, Korea and Ethiopia. The project is overseen by an International Council comprising former heads of government and finance ministers and leaders in the fields of economics, business and finance.” But there is also a link to the Commission’s website.

The project team for this report is 24 strong, led by Helen Mountford, who also is Director of Economics at WRI (World Resources Institute, Larry Brown’s outfit). The other 23 include  a Head of Communications, a strategic advisor ‘focused on funding’, an Administrative Coordinator, a Strategic Engagement Director, a Research and Engagement Coordinator, a Communications Assistant, a Project Coordinator, a Communications Officer, an Engagement Coordinator, a Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator, a Grants and Finance Coordinator, a Chief of Staff and 11 researchers. Kind of a Chiefs/Indians thing going on there, it seems.

All to provide a report saying good things can happen if we pursue policies developed by… another organization they link to. Hmm. (Actually it’s to a partner organization–but it’s on the partner’s website…)

Which their footnotes don’t actually link to, just giving the title in a cute little balloon. The first one I found, footnote 98, says to look for ‘Advancing Climate Ambition: Cities as Partners in Global Climate Action.’ It was produced by the Stockhom Environment Institute “in support of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and C40.” And the address they give is the Stockholm Environment Institute… in Seattle, Washington.

The SEI website returns no results for that title. But that’s okay, I can use da Google. Which actually finds the page on the SEI website that links to both a briefing paper with that title and ‘a more detailed analysis and methodology’ published separately as SEI Working Paper No. 2014-06.

So what does it say? That if cities aggressively pursue efficiency programs in certain areas those cities will emit less CO2. The sectors they single out are:

• urban passenger transport, whether due to land use planning for compact urban form, expansion of public transit, measures to improve vehicle efficiency (including electrification), or transport demand and flow management (such as variable speed zones and better signal timing);

• urban road freight transport, due to better urban freight logistics management, and measures to increase urban road freight vehicle efficiency;

• urban building energy use, due to building energy codes, standards, and retrofit programs or requirements, including for lighting and appliances, as well as provision of district energy or incentives for solar PV, in both residential and commercial buildings; and

• urban waste management, due to increasing waste collection, recycling, and landfill management for methane capture.

The amount of CO2 that could be saved by 3.7 GT by 2030 and 8.0 GT by 2050. That’s if all cities globally participate.

There is no price tag. There are no specific measures of what the efficiency levels are now and what they will have to reach by 2030 and 2050 to realize these gains.

So, we move on to their SEI Working Paper No. 2014-06. Surely the answer will be there, right?

“further reduce heating energy consumption, in dramatic ways – down to “passive house” levels for new buildings in most areas: 15 kWh of heating energy per m2 of floor space.”

“The urban action scenario also envisions an aggressive building retrofit program, starting in 2015, that upgrades all existing buildings by 2040, reducing their energy intensity by 30–40% compared with the reference scenario.”

“Lastly, both the reference and urban action scenarios include a gradual transition from traditional biomass to modern fuels for cooking and heating, especially in cities in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia (IEA 2010). Should this transition free up low-GHG biomass for other, more efficient uses in industry and power, other GHG benefits may result that are not considered here.”

“In the urban action scenario, city governments, especially those in developing countries, increasingly plan compact, pedestrian- and transit oriented communities. These actions considerably slow the trend of increasing personal vehicle use in these countries, yielding equal (or greater) mobility by providing proximity to local services and greater availability and convenience of public transport (including rail, subways, buses, and bus rapid transit), cycling (including e-bikes) and walking.”

“Furthermore, the urban action scenario sees cities increasingly using their vehicle licensing authorities to support – or even extend – planned national vehicle efficiency standards, especially for vehicle efficiency technologies that are particularly well-suited to the urban environment, such as hybrid and electric technologies for both personal vehicles and buses.”

“In our urban action scenario, cities reduce GHG emissions from solid waste by collecting and managing refuse in ways that limit methane release and maximize recycling. In developing cities, this starts with higher rates of centralized refuse collection to limit disposal in informal dumps. In all cities, methane releases can be limited by choosing landfill destinations that operate highly effective methane capture systems and, where possible, use that methane (biogas) to generate electricity that otherwise would have been generated at power plants using fossil fuels. Similar GHG reductions can also be achieved via systems that convert waste directly to energy, whether through combustion or other processes.”

Hmm. Quite ambitious. I’m in favor of almost all of that, although I doubt much could be achieved by 2050, let alone 2030.

But again, no price tag.

The original paper called for a $1 trillion investment. I think they just spent it all in Chapter 2 of their paper.

Chapter 3: Restore and protect agricultural and forest landscapes and increase agricultural productivity

Chapter 4: Invest at least a trillion dollars a year in clean energy

Chapter 5: Raise energy efficiency standards to the global best

Chapter 6: Implement effective carbon pricing

Chapter 7: Insure new infrastructure is climate smart

Chapter 8: Galvanize low-carbon innovation

Chapter 9: Drive low-carbon growth through business and investor action

Chapter 10: Raise ambition to reduce international aviation and maritime emissions

Chapter 11: Phasing down the use of hydrofluorocarbons

Well, I did Chapter 2. Some hardy soul who wants to look at the rest can tell me how the story ends.

The sad thing is that I like a lot of what they say. But they hide all the bad news and talk about the hard costs as if they are an investment.

If the only return on that investment is a CO2 free atmosphere, that’s okay–just tell us. But sending us to five different websites just to discover you haven’t costed your dreams is really, really rude.




Shifting the Emphasis in Climate Arguments–Devaluing Attribution?

Those of us following the debate on climate change have noticed that activists are not shy about abandoning one theme and grasping hold of another. Surface temperatures were the primary focus of the debate–until suddenly they were not, the pause that dare not be named having had an effect on their arguments.

More recently, sensitivity, labeled by the IPCC as the most important unresolved question in climate science, is now being hidden behind a curtain after observation-based estimates bring in lower values. It has happily been replaced by Xtreme Weather, which can be brought into play with the tossing of a dart at a map of the world.

I have noticed that Dr. Doom, aka Michael Tobis, has made two comments recently about the over-emphasis his political opponents (including myself) place on attribution issues.

In this post he writes in the comments, “This so grossly overvalues the attribution question that my head threatens to explode.”

And later he says, “I have more to say about this but for now, the naysayer’s overattachment to the attribution question is the honest but misguided part of their obsession with Jones and his mailbox.”

I sense in this the beginning of another campaign theme. We ‘nay-sayers’ who have acknowledged recent warming and the potential for a large human contribution to it are naturally curious about quantifying the different human contributions to warming. There are many, ranging from deforestation and black soot to cement production. There are also natural contributions, some of which we cannot begin to quantify–but some of which we can.


Tobis’ argument, assuming he develops it further,  is treacherous and extreme. If we don’t need to attribute climate impacts to a cause, then all impacts will be laid at the doorstep of industrial emissions of CO2. It will serve to undermine the foundations of the recent Fast Mitigation initiative, which calls for a focus on mitigating other causes of warming than CO2 because it is quicker to implement and more efficient in the short term.

But the fact is that some have postulated (and even have rough figures suggesting) black soot may be the cause of up to 30% of human contributions to climate change and that deforestation is the cause of 17%. That’s almost half.

This lack of intellectual curiosity on Tobis’ part to me suggests that de-emphasizing attribution is a political ploy meant to maintain all focus on CO2. The idea that proper attribution of recent warming and other impacts to the correct causes is not important can only be taken as an attempt to deflect attention and energy from the real complexity of climate change.

Tobis has a history of making really savage (and fact-free) political attacks for short term gain, both against policy preferences and personalities. One example is his vicious campaign against Judith Curry, where he labeled her incompetent, hinting that she was suffering from ‘neurological decay,’  while later admitting he had not read any of her work. He is willing to sacrifice the rules of reasonable discourse for an advantage, believing as he does that emitting CO2 is the ‘equivalent of mugging old ladies.’

I hope he doesn’t get away with this attempt to devalue investigation of every aspect of this sector of science.


I suppose a temperature-related word is best to describe the climate change debate.

It is frozen.

Skeptics focus on one set of measurements and evaluations, the Konsensus on another and in the middle are the climate scientists. Where skeptics look at a decline in storm frequency and intensity, the Konsensus focuses on increasing heat waves and the number of floods. The scientists try to point out to both sides that there are alternative measurements that cast current interpretations into doubt, but nobody listens.

Current warm temperatures in the northern hemisphere are either the resumption of warming and the end of the pause–or summer in an El Nino year. And scientists who say it could be either, both or neither are not heard.

Increases in agricultural productivity and decreases in human mortality are either proof positive of the error of the Konsensus or the last dying gasp of technological innovation before the Fall.

Every measurement becomes a Rorschach test, where what you glean from data is predetermined by the policy you favor.

The President of the United States is a diabolical schemer who has unleashed the EPA upon his country, determined to take us back to firewood and whale oil–or he’s a climate change denier, too cowardly to take the steps needed to save our planet.

We know our historical climate records must be adjusted as new information about the past is digitized or revealed, yet we don’t trust the adjustments. New proxies come along to show warmer temperatures in Greenland in years when it was not supposed to be warm there and others that reinforce the conventional assumption that the current warming is dramatic, if not unprecedented and we don’t trust them either.

Konsensus atheists praise the Pope because he favors immediate and large-scale action to combat climate change, and Catholic skeptics mourn his encyclical. We now choose our heroes and heroines not based on their accomplishments or clarity of thought, but on their affiliations.

Past actions associated with either tribe condemn advocates to be summarily pigeon-holed, as politics offers nothing like the mercy available to science, where new data can prove you wrong without rebuke.

This Lukewarmer still leans towards the consensus on science and (some of) the skeptics on policy. The Konsensus has changed what the consensus has said–when temperatures stalled, they denied it and then came up with a thousand explanations of what they had denied. When observation-based measurements provided lower values for atmospheric sensitivity they began to focus on Xtreme Weather events that became a tautological proof of their assumptions.

The Konsensus continues to focus on outlier prognostications to fuel their love of fear, now embodied in RCP 8.5, previously in SRES that exaggerated population numbers, climate refugees and costs related to climate change, while ignoring the potential of technology to aid in mitigation and adaptation.

Skeptics have their own flaws and my sympathy for them doesn’t obscure them. They are dogmatic. They are too often wrong about important things. They have taken the misbehavior of some scientists and turned it into a blanket condemnation of a field of study that has the potential to make this world a better place through an improved understanding of the forces that shape our climate.

Perhaps this is just the summer silly season. Perhaps this is just a pause in between bouts of more reasonable conversation.

Perhaps August will bring the end of winter.

One can hope.

Xtreme Weather and Self Inflicted Wounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Who will serve as the Andrew Wakefield of climate science?

Bill McKibben Lets Loose Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill, pay attention here:

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

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


Attribution of Recent Climate Change to Human Causes

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

So thanks in advance for the help.

Divesting From Fossil Fuels and Leaving Them In The Ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

It’s a bad move.

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

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

Back to the drawing board, folks.

Climate Messaging Meltdown

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

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

It is a Messaging Meltdown.


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

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

That’s a typical Klimate Konsensus ploy:

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

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

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

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

Imagine that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

better rabett

Hounding the Credit Rating Agencies on Climate Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lancet Commission Endorses Fast Mitigation and Bjorn Lomborg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EPA Report: Benefits of Global Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dodgy dossier

Your Daily Climate Panic Story…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cholera distribution

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

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

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

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

Good Climate News From My Alma Mater

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Fifth Element

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It just hasn’t happened yet.

Refugee Update

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

Catholic tastes

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

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

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

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

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

Viscount Monckton (almost) Gets The Final Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VM: I like motherhood and apple pie too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TF: I agree with you here. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TF: Here is my reaction to this entire series.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TF: I agree. So do most climate scientists.

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

TF: I agree. So do most climate scientists.

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

TF: I agree. So do most climate scientists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

TF: I have not read the  paper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monckton’s Final Response–And My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Twenty One


(VM): “Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monckton’s RAMA Responses, Part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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




Monckton’s RAMA Responses, part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


More From Monckton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the papers cited by Viscount Monckton:

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

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

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

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

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

To what extent do you agree with the following propositions?

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

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

One Global Mean Temperature Change 1900 2015

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

Difference between measured and adjusted tempepratures

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

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

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

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

Three GISS US Temperatures 1999Four GISS US Temperatures 2008

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

Five USHCN BeforeSix USHCN After

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

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

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

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

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

Nine Pause

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

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

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

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

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

Ten ARGO temperatures

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

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

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

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

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

Viscount Monckton Takes The RAMA Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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