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Thunder down under:
A look at our future?

by Donald Prothero, Dec 21 2011

Today is the northern hemisphere winter solstice  and we’ve already seen a year with many climatic records broken and numerous record-breaking disasters, especially with all the tornadoes and droughts and heat waves. Already the global average temperature estimates for 2011 are coming in, and it looks like it will once again break all previous records for the warmest year in history (which was previously broken by 2010, and before that by 2009). The reports we’re hearing from the media about even more rapidly melting polar ice caps and the vanishing of glaciers around the world are not reassuring.

But in the southern hemisphere, it is summer solstice today, and there the signs are even more ominous. Australia has just gone through years of one climatic disaster after another, capped by 2011 with record flooding, wildfires, drought, and even an gigantic typhoon named Yasi. As this article points out, or an article in the December 2011 issue of Discover magazine discussed, many climate scientists view Australia as a harbinger of the future. It is far more vulnerable to changes in climate than most other regions, since it is a small continent located in the southern high-pressure belt of deserts, with only limited wet areas along the coast and the tropical north. It has few mountains or other topographic features that modify climate or trap rain and snow compared to most other continents, so it can be whipsawed through climate changes much faster than other regions. As the article’s author quoted in an email he received from an Aussie friend, “Welcome to Australia, the petri dish of climate change. Stay safe.” Or as David Karoly, the leading climate researcher at the University of Melbourne, put it, “Australia is the canary in the coal mine. What is happening in Australia now is similar to what can expect in other places in the future. One of the effects of increasing greenhouse-gas levels in the atmosphere is to amplify existing climate signals. Regions that are dry get drier, and regions that are wet get wetter. If you have a place like Australia that is already extreme, those extremes just get more pronounced.”

Australia has seen more extreme climatic events in the past decades than in all of its previous recorded history. It has gone through decades-long drought, and heat waves of 115° for weeks, leading to historic wildfires in 2009 and each year since then which have wiped out millions of acres and killed 173 people. Its topsoil built over generations is blowing away, causing record dust storms reminiscent of the “Dust Bowl” years in the U.S. in the 1930s.  Its groundwater supply has nearly vanished, leading to nationwide water shortages, and severely damaging the crops that were developed when it had enough water to irrigate them. When the drought finally broke last summer, the region suffered through record flooding instead, which was even more destructive of farmlands and cities. Even the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s great gem of biodiversity (and an important magnet for tourist dollars as well as science) is rapidly dying from bleaching caused by warmer, more acidic oceans. With the loss of the Great Barrier Reef (and many other reefs around the world), scientists predict a collapse of the food chain and mass extinction in the oceans (including important fisheries) that will dwarf any of the geologic past.

As the article’s author, Jeff Goodell, explains:

Adding to Australia’s vulnerability is its close connection with the sea. Australia is the only island continent on the planet, which means that changes caused by planet-warming pollution – warmer seas, which can drive stronger storms, and more acidic oceans, which wreak havoc on the food chain – are even more deadly here.

How bad could it get? A recent study by MIT projects that without “rapid and massive action” to cut carbon pollution, the Earth’s temperature could soar by nine degrees this century. “There are no analogies in human history for a temperature jump of that size in such a short time period,” says Tony McMichael, an epidemiologist at Australian National University. The few times in human history when temperatures fell by seven degrees, he points out, the sudden shift likely triggered a bubonic plague in Europe, caused the abrupt collapse of the Moche civilization in Peru and reduced the entire human race to as few as 1,000 breeding pairs after a volcanic eruption blocked out the sun some 73,000 years ago. “We think that because we are a technologically sophisticated society, we are less vulnerable to these kinds of dramatic shifts in climate,” McMichael says. “But in some ways, because of the interconnectedness of our world, we are more vulnerable.”

With nine degrees of warming, computer models project that Australia will look like a disaster movie. Habitats for most vertebrates will vanish. Water supply to the Murray-Darling Basin will fall by half, severely curtailing food production. Rising sea levels will wipe out large parts of major cities and cause hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage to coastal homes and roads. The Great Barrier Reef will be reduced to a pile of purple bacterial slime. Thousands of people will die from heat waves and other extreme weather events, as well as mosquito-borne infections like dengue fever. Depression and suicide will become even more common among displaced farmers and Aborigines. Dr. James Ross, medical director for Australia’s Remote Area Health Corps, calls climate change “the number-one challenge for human health in the 21st century.”

And all this doesn’t even hint at the political complexities Australia will face in a hotter world, including an influx of refugees from poorer climate-ravaged nations. (“If you want to understand Australian politics,” says Anthony Kitchener, an Australian entrepreneur, “the first thing you have to understand is our fear of yellow hordes from the north.”) Then there are the economic costs. The Queensland floods earlier this year caused $30 billion in damage and forced the government to implement a $1.8 billion “flood tax” to help pay for reconstruction. As temperatures rise, so will the price tag. “We can’t afford to spend 10 percent of our GDP building sea walls and trying to adapt to climate change,” says Ian Goodwin, a climate scientist at Macquarie University in Sydney.

The strangest irony of the whole situation is that politically, Australia is in a bind. The right wingers in Australia are very powerful, with huge financial backing from the powerful coal companies, and many of them deny the scientific evidence  of the global climate change, even as the warning signs are occurring all around them. With all its vast deserts, one would expect Australia to be at the forefront of solar energy, and moving quickly to ameliorate the climate problems that it has produced. And yet the opposite is the case: energy conservation efforts have had little traction in Australia, since coal is still cheaper. As Goodell writes:

Australia remains deeply addicted to coal, which not only provides 80 percent of its electricity but serves as its leading export. Perhaps more than any other nation on earth, Australia is trapped by the devil’s bargain of fossil fuels: In the short term, the health of the nation’s economy depends on burning coal. But in the long term, the survival of its people depends on quitting coal. Australia’s year of extreme weather has reawakened calls for a tax on carbon pollution, but it is far from clear that the initiative will pass, or, in the big picture, whether it will matter much. “What we are ultimately talking about is how climate change is destabilizing one of the most advanced nations on the planet,” says Paul Gilding, an Australian climate adviser and author of The Great Disruption. “If Australia is vulnerable, everyone is vulnerable.”

And the saddest part of this irony is that even if Australia could switch from coal to solar and reduce its own carbon footprint, it would still need to sell its coal to China and the rest of Asia. In short, there are no easy solutions.  As Goodell describes it:

“Living on the beach is pretty much the Australian dream,” he says as we pass beach town after beach town. At Narrabeen Beach, a broad sweep of sand 15 miles north of Sydney, Goodwin points out where residents have been forced to truck in sand in an expensive and hopeless effort to keep the beach – and the homes along it – from being washed away by increasingly strong storm surges. If the seas rise by at least three feet this century, as the current scientific consensus expects them to, every one of the structures along the beach will vanish. “In fact,” Goodwin says, “the way things are going, they could be gone within a decade or two.”

“Do the people who live there know that?” I ask.

“Some of them do, but they don’t care,” he says. “Or they don’t think about it. Australians have a hard time imagining the future will be any different than the present.”

Australians aren’t alone in their denial, of course. But there is a sense of fatalism here that is absent in America, a feeling borne by having lived for long years in a harsh climate, of being able to take whatever nature dishes out. It is why Australians don’t leave their houses during raging wildfires, and why they build cites in landscapes where no cities should be built. When it comes to dealing with Mother Nature’s nasty moods, Australians have a kind of outback machismo, a justifiable sense of pride for having built a nation in one of the most extreme climates on the planet. But as the catastrophes multiply, so too do the psychic costs of living with it. As a recent report by Australia’s Climate Institute concluded, “Higher rates of drug and alcohol misuse, violence, family dissolution and suicide are more likely to follow more extreme weather events.” In 2006, during the prolonged drought in the Murray-Darling Basin, the government estimated that an Australian farmer committed suicide every four days.

It’s too soon to say for sure, but it may be that the deadly weather of the past few years will open people’s eyes to the risks of living on a superheated planet. In July, Prime Minister Julia Gillard introduced her proposal for a carbon tax in Australia. The plan would levy a modest price of $25 a ton on carbon for several years, then morph into a carbon-trading scheme in 2015. It’s a complicated proposal, full of loopholes and subsidies for Big Coal, but if it passes, it would be a big step in the right direction. “It’s a critical time,” Ross Garnaut, the government’s key climate adviser, told reporters. “Each year, the growth in emissions makes it less likely that we’ll be able to avoid severe damage from climate change. So the requirement to take action is urgent.”

It’s not just floods and drought and wildfires that are spurring action to cut carbon pollution. It’s also the fear of being left out of the economic benefits of clean technology. “With its deserts and sunshine, Australia should be the solar-energy capital of the world,” one California entrepreneur tells me. “Instead, they are still passing out subsidies to the coal industry.” Or as one Australian blogger put it, “Australia is currently exporting typewriters to a global economy moving quickly toward computers.”

But as the demand to take action grows, so too does the corporate and political push-back. The coal industry is a powerful force in Australia, and it is rolling out the usual tired arguments that a tax on carbon would devastate the economy and send jobs scurrying overseas. The country’s opposition leader, echoing the language of right-wing deniers in Congress, dismisses climate change as “absolute crap.” But as befits the Australian psyche, the scare tactics here are even bigger and nastier than in America. The rhetoric over global warming has grown so heated, in fact, that climate scientists at the Australian National University have been assigned security protection after several weeks of abusive e-mails and phone calls. For their work in understanding what is happening to their country, some scientists have even received death threats.

Let’s hope that the Australian “canary in the coal mine” can help us better understand and prepare for what is already happening in the U.S. and around the world.

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A look at our future?
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273 Responses to “Thunder down under:
A look at our future?”

  1. Kyran says:

    Just like to point out that a strong tropical storm system in the southern hemisphere is known as a cyclone, not a typhoon.

    Also, it isn’t correct to link specific weather events with global warming, it is more correct to say global warming will cause an increase in extreme weather events (as you say). In addition, the 2010/2011 Australian summer was a particularly strong La Nina cycle so the higher summer rainfall WAS unusual in itself but the level and strength of the storm systems that hit the northern areas of Australia was beyond anything I can recall in my lifetime.

    On that, and I know it is anecdotal, I have noticed a change in the climate where I live (south-western Australia). This area, as Donald said, is highly dependent on seasonal winter rainfall from low-pressure systems and we are being hit with drought after drought. The capital city of my state is dependent on catchment dams and because of the reduction in rainfall is in the midst of severe water shortages. There have been estimations of when we will run out but I can’t remember the timeframe or the source.

  2. klem says:

    “Let’s hope that the Australian “canary in the coal mine” can help us better understand and prepare for what is already happening in the U.S. and around the world.”

    Yea, whats happening in the US and around the world is anthropogenic climate change has been put behind them. It is now out of the publics concern, they don’t care anymore, they’ve moved on, it is so 2009. The failure of Durban demonstrated that. Even though Ban Ki-Moon took a few minutes to condescendingly pat Gillard on the head for introducing her carbon tax, he still ignored her as did everyone else at Durban. They were too busy ordering martinis by the pool.

    cheers

  3. Renegade Saint says:

    I don’t see any way that a system based on the endless accumulation of capital can solve a problem of this magnitude.
    We need to face the fact that it won’t be profitable in the short term to save their environment, so private businesses won’t do it-not unless they’re forced to.
    Naomi Klein’s article in The Nation a few weeks ago was a wake up call.

  4. rumah dijual says:

    i had live in australia and Australia has seen more extreme climatic events

  5. klem says:

    Naomi Klein’s article was really long, deathly boring and only interesting to neo-nazis.

  6. Gwenny says:

    I am always bemused when skeptics have this much hysteria about something. Climate change is natural. It has been happening for billions of years. Within the time since modern humans evolved, there have been a dozen or so Ice Ages. And interglacial periods. We have been very fortunate, from a evolution of culture pov, that the current interglacial period has been very stable. (Ice cores show that interglacial periods can be extremely erratic with weather changing abruptly) Which allowed us to develop agriculture. And build cities. We have evenbeen much warmer . . DURING THIS INTERGLACIAL PERIOD! http://bit.ly/sew8k1 When you talk about “recorded history” or “history” you are talking about 200 years A THE MOST. At the most. On a planet that is 4.5 BILLION years old. 200 years. That is all we have been recording our weather. AT MOST.

    So what is happening now, even with the human additions, is NATURAL. It has happened before. It will happen again unless we develop a system that controls the weather. In the past, during the dozen or so climate changes that happened since the development of “modern man”, we migrated. Went to better places. Or went extinct in some places. (The folks from Europe almost went extinct 10k years ago, with maybe as few as 120 breeding people left, because they got trapped on the Iberian peninsula and couldn’t get to warmer places. YIKES!)

    We can’t migrate anymore. The world is full of us. Seven billion little 100 watt incandescent bulbs (the heat the human body gives off) just heating the world around us up in our cities between our bodies and our homes and places of work and millions upon millions miles of roads and acres of parking lots turning sunlight into heat instead of sugar. Our billions of roofs, turning sunlight into heat. Eating, sleeping, breathing out CO2, procreating . . . just seven billion little heaters making the world warmer.

    So what do we do? We adapt. First world lifestyles have to change. Single family house, in the past. Private ownership of cars, need to be outlawed and efficient mass transit developed. Mega cities . . dense, sustainable and in the middle of continents away from rising (or lowering) oceans, hurricanes and the worst of the tectonic plate edges with their earthquakes. Lovely cities built for humans, not cars. Vertical farms and recycled water. Solar on every surface exposed the sun. Extremely tight controls on breeding. Housing, manufacturing and retail all in the same place so you can take an elevator down to buy groceries or go to work. We can do all of this now. We SHOULD be doing it NOW. We are running out of time.

    Oh, I don’t think we will go extinct. But we could lose a lot of people in horrible painful ways. Lots of starvation and deprivation. Especially in countries where life is already marginal. Something like 20,000 children died this past year in just one country from starvation . . so a lot more of that. Those of us in First World countries will adapt. We have a couple of centuries. One way or the other. We are 4C away from the highest temps of any of the recent previous cycles, so I suspect we can easily manage that much heat. Assuming that we aren’t plunged into a new Ice Age. Which is far more likely. Ice Ages can come really fast . . . in one, Europe was totally glaciated in three months . . over the summer.

    Changes are coming. But it’s NOTHING we can’t prepare for . . it just means changing ourselves, our society . . . letting go of worn out ideas and ways of doing things. And, of course, for all you folks who think CO2 matters to wake up and realize that CO2 is just a tiny part of the big cycle and doesn’t have that much of an impact. Sorry.

    • Sorry, Gwenny, but that’s not what the geologic record says–and I published peer-reviewed research on that topic. The EPICA core from Antarctica shows that the temperature and CO2 we’re in the midst of is MUCH higher than ANY previous interglacial over the past 750,000 years, so it’s not just “normal climate variability.” And the evidence is OVERWHELMING that the CO2 is man-made and NOT just “part of a natural cycle.” Yes, there HAVE been warmer periods in the geologic past, when the planet was in a full-fledged greenhouse mode (see my book “Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs”) but when that happens, the continents were largely flooded, and nearly all the low-lying coastal plains and even the Plains of the midwest were drowned in shallow seas. We MIGHT be able to adapt, but we would see severe disruptions in all our lives, and no chance of supporting the 7 billion people already alive. And there are LOTS of scientists who think we CAN make our fate less dire if we act now. Even if we can’t stop what’s already started, it’s suicidal to burn more fossil fuels to make things even worse.
      That’s what the scientific evidence shows, whether you choose to accept it or not…

      • Somite says:

        Epic response that I am saving for future use. Thanks Dr. Prothero.

      • Miles says:

        “We MIGHT be able to adapt, but we would see severe disruptions in all our lives, and no chance of supporting the 7 billion people already alive.”

        Do you claim to be able to predict what we can and cannot adapt to with future innovation? Malthus famously failed when he predicted that the world would be unable to feed itself, because he made the mistake of assuming that the only means we’ll have to face the challenges of tomorrow are the tools that we have today. You seem to be making the same mistake here.

        “Even if we can’t stop what’s already started, it’s suicidal to burn more fossil fuels to make things even worse.”

        I did a double-take when I read this. Are you suggesting that we just stop burning fossil fuels? I know you are a thoughtful guy Donald, so I assume you are well aware what some of the likely consequences to human well-being would be tomorrow we just stopped burning fossil fuels. Maybe you meant to say:

        “It’s suicidal to give up on trying to innovate cleaner sources of efficient energy.”

        In which case, I might agree with you, at least that it is beneficial to do so, as opposed to being suicidal not to.

        Queue the accusations that I’m a “science denier”…

      • tmac57 says:

        Maybe we should reduce our ‘fly eating’,as soon as possible.Depending on swallowing spiders,cats,and dogs etc. to remediate the probelm,just doesn’t sound too appetizing,and who knows where it will lead?

      • Miles says:

        Are you trying to say that we can just stop burning fossil fuels and start using something else? Do you really think it’s that simple? If so, please illuminate me, oh wise and benevolent king of science who knows what is best for everyone else, what existing energy technology would you replace all FF sources with?

      • tmac57 says:

        No,I said reduce as soon as possible.FF’s have to be phased out,but our timeline for that is rapidly contracting if we want to avoid the worst consequences of AGW.
        Solar and wind are growing quite a bit,and becoming more competitive.Nuclear will probably have to play a big part,although it is not ideal.Carbon sequestration might be feasible,but much more research needs to be done.Biofuels can play a part too,but they currently can be problematic,but if they were used only for aviation,that would be better than FF for that purpose. Increased effeciency of all energy using devices,coupled with personal conservation will help too.
        There is an enormous amount of research in to alternative energy that we need to support,and we need to price the external costs of carbon ,to discourage it’s use.

      • Malthus was writing before the era of skyscrapers, public utilities, paved highways, conurbations of 10-20 million people and many other things.

        Rather than science denier, I’ll just call you “historically clueless.”

      • Miles says:

        “Malthus was writing before the era of skyscrapers, public utilities, paved highways, conurbations of 10-20 million people and many other things.”

        Call me whatever you like. I’ve been called worse by better. I still don’t understand your logic, as you have simply reinforced my point.

        Malthus made poor predictions because he did not foresee dramatic advances in technology which took place to address the problems he predicted. For you to point out that it is irrelevant – because he lived in a time before many technological advancements – is a logical error. You are simply agreeing with and reinforcing my argument.

      • Miles says:

        Further, for it to have made any sense at all for you to claim that I am “historically challenged” by citing that “Malthus was writing before the era of skyscrapers, public utilities, paved highways, conurbations of 10-20 million people and many other things.”, I would have had to deny that your observation was true. Yet, I have never denied this, only pointed out this very fact.

        You have a very strange logic unit, SocraticGadfly. I try to think the best of my opponents and give them the benefit of the doubt, so in this case the only thing I can imagine is that you grossly misinterpreted my comment, perhaps because you were mentally distracted while reading it or something along those lines.

      • tmac57 says:

        Miles,please keep in mind that the opponents of AGW theory are also making predictions about the future.The big difference,is that they do not fully understand the current science,or have vested interests that diverge from the need to reduce fossil fuel use.

      • Miles says:

        “Miles,please keep in mind that the opponents of AGW theory are also making predictions about the future.The big difference,is that they do not fully understand the current science,or have vested interests that diverge from the need to reduce fossil fuel use.”

        Agreed. In fact, I spend most of my time thinking about the subtle ways in which ideology and confirmation bias affect our attempts at being objective. BOTH sides have “vested interests”.

        Now, when you say “AGW theory”, I assume you are talking about the conclusion that warming is happening and humans are a big contributor to that warming. This, I agree with, and haven’t found very controversial for a few years now. I was more skeptical of this back in 2004, but I found it more and more convincing as the years went by that our current warming trend is a little more than just the normal climate fluctuations of the earth, and is likely the result of human activity.

        But this is just the beginning of several important questions. How bad is the warming likely to be? How dire does the future look for humans on earth? What can we do about it? What is the evidence that current proposals to counter this warming trend will have any significant impact, and what is the evidence that it is likely to do more good than harm?

        These are the questions that I come down on the opposite side of the majority of commenters here, not AGW itself. So when you say “the other side doesn’t fully understand the science”, whether or not I would agree with that depends on whether or not you are strictly talking about AGW, or if you are including all of those other questions as well.

        Additionally, even though I accept that the evidence for AGW itself is solid, I see a lot of value in having at least a few climatologists out there or remain skeptical, and continue to re-evaluate the evidence. I don’t condemning those “heretical” scientists does a great disservice to the process.

        As far as “vested interests” goes, yes, many businesses and individuals who are skeptical of AGW have incentives that keep them from being objective. The same is true for climatologists. No climatologist wants their reputation sullied or their funding jeopardized. The history of science is rife with examples of scientists doing bad science and allowing their ideological views to come before their impartiality and methodology. I’m not “poisoning the well” by saying this, rather, I’m saying that it is “anti-science” to automatically reject research funded by businesses with a vested interest in the same way that would be “anti-science” to automatically reject any evidence presented by a group of climatologists because of the IPCC email scandal.

      • Miles says:

        Ugh, I really should start writing my comments in a separate application before copying them here to post.

        I meant to say:

        Condemning those “heretical” scientists does a great disservice to the process.

      • OK, how about, “you’re a general, all-around effing idiot.” Because you are.

      • Markx says:

        Aah Socratic.

        What a great debater you are!

        A very scientific riposte :-)

      • Ahh, “riposte.” Was that the Merriam-Webster word of the day via email? Or did you have to go hunt for it?

      • Markx says:

        Ha ha Socratic – sounds like I sent you hunting for the dictionary.

        As you did to me. I had to now go and look this up to make sure it was in fact correctly applied.

        But, indeed I think it was, yes?

    • tmac57 says:

      Well at least you apologized for your misinformed rant.

      So, to recap,humans are reintroducing CO2 into the atmosphere ,very rapidly,which was sequestered there over the last several million years,and that known quantity,has the ability of raising the earths temperature by about 3 degrees C per doubling of CO2. No need to worry about any ice age for the next 10,000 years or so. Oh,and don’t invest in any ocean front property,unless you have a potential buyer that only reads WUWT,or watches FOX news,however,starting up a relocation service for displaced persons,might be a great ground floor business opportunity.

      For a more factual look at “the climate has changed for billions of years,and this is no different”,see this:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-change-little-ice-age-medieval-warm-period.htm

    • Gwenny, what fascist dictator are you going to find to impose all your suggested solutions? And, if it’s just natural variability, then why are you suggesting such drastic changes?

      Beyond what Don said, *rate of change* is also part of the equation.

      Don, that said, not that it helps, but there is the “schadenfreude” that the red-state Sunbelt is going to be hard hit by all this. Tom Coburn, Rick Perry, et al? Look in the mirror as you shoot yourselves in the foot.

    • Somite says:

      I am always bemused when people with 0 expertise in a field can spout paragraph over paragraph on why the experts are wrong. You are not a skeptic if you don’t accept the scientific consensus; that makes a cynic and a denier.

    • Phea says:

      Gwenny, your vision of a viable future sounded vaguely familiar. It took me awhile to remember, but it sounds almost exactly like an old movie called, “Logan’s Run”.

  7. d brown says:

    There is noway there will ever be a Waterworld from whats here. There is nowhere near enough ice. Over time the land goes up and down. That’s why there is limestone with shells in it in my back yard. Back I think it was in the late 70′s, or maybe the early 80′s I read that if work was not started on GW then we could be too poor and busy with fires and floods to. China and America stopped the last treaty. One wanted to make as much money as they could. And so did the other. The only thing that could work that I can think of is a sales tax, based on how much greenhouse gases was made to produce anything. Then keep the money in country and use it to pull co2 out of the air. It’s known how, but nobody wants to spend their money. Oh, co2 is about %50 of the GH gases. But it can be pulled out. It now looks like that in less than 50 years the seas will too full of co2 making the acidic to support life. Almost all sea life will die. And then almost all of us will.

  8. Michael G says:

    I’m an Aussie living in southern Victoria (Just west of the capital Melbourne in Geelong). Thanks for making me feel a bit depressed.

    One thing not make clear in your article is that the Carbon Tax (the highest in the world) has been passed and takes effect from the middle of 2012. Whether it’s the right answer is yet to be seen but it has been passed into law.

    Well, you’ve opened my eyes a bit more Donald (I was never a climate skeptic but didn’t realise how serious it was for us Aussies living on the coast). Keep up the good work.

    Michael.

    • Markx says:

      Australia’s carbon tax is aimed to make a 5% reduction in the nation’s contribution to anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Which is 1.6% of the world’s total anthropogenic CO2 emission.

      The tax should result in an annual 0.08% reduction in the world’s anthropogenic CO2 production by the year 2020.

      Apparently some recalibration of instruments may be necessary to measure whether or not this is actually achieved.

    • From the way I understand WTO regs, IF, IF, IF, a WTO member has internal carbon taxes, it can also impose external carbon tariffs on imports.

      THIS is the way for the US to clean itself up without worrying about “what China will do.” It will either start cleaning itself up in response or see its manufacturing totally crater from the carbon tariffs.

  9. CountryGirl says:

    When Kim Jong Il died the north Korea’s propaganda machine claimed storms brewed, the mountain tops turned red and massive sheets of ice cracked.

    When the global warming conspiracy died after the two successive massive leaks of email proving a conspiracy to phoney up the data and hide the facts the response from the global warming propaganda machine is eerily similar: “more rapidly melting polar ice caps and the vanishing of glaciers around the world”, “the tornadoes and droughts and heat waves”. We already know you have no shame or honor but give me a break can’t you make up something more believeable???

  10. Markx says:

    MIT was forecasting this 5.1 degrees C (9.2 degrees F) back in 2009,

    it is amazing what a little tweaking of models does:

    “……There is no single revision that is responsible for this change.
    In our more recent global model simulations,
    •the ocean heat-uptake is slower than previously estimated,
    •the ocean uptake of carbon is weaker,
    •feedbacks from the land system as temperature rises are stronger,
    •cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases over the century are higher,
    •and offsetting cooling from aerosol emissions is lower.”

    http://globalchange.mit.edu/resources/gamble/comparison.html

  11. Markx says:

    Super cyclones more common in the past?

    Nature 413, 508-512 (4 October 2001) | doi:10.1038/35097055;
    High frequency of ‘super-cyclones’ along the Great Barrier Reef over the past 5,000 years
    Jonathan Nott & Matthew Hayne

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v413/n6855/full/413508a0.html

    “….the intensity of prehistoric tropical cyclones over the past 5,000 years from ridges of detrital coral and shell deposited above highest tide …..

    …. We infer that the deposits were formed by storms with recurrence intervals of two to three centuries…..and we show that the cyclones responsible must have been of extreme intensity (central pressures less than 920 hPa).

    Our estimate of the frequency of such ‘super-cyclones’ is an order of magnitude higher than that previously estimated (which was once every several millennia…….)….”

  12. Chris Howard says:

    I wonder what kind of ramifications the PR agencies, politicians, and corporate heads who know that global warming is anthropogenic will have to suffer if people start dying from the effects of global warming? Drug into the streets by angry mobs? Brought up on manslaughter charges? Criminal negligence? Will some industries sue others? Fishing, farming, tourist industries suing the coal, and automotive industries for damages? The Faux “News” building razed to the ground, by asthmatic hordes!?

    • Markx says:

      Fear not Chris.

      Terrible things will occur whether or not warming is anthropogenic.

      The blame and counter-blame stores are already in place.

      It will pan out as you wish.

      Blood will be shed.

      • Markx says:

        ….blame and counter-blame stories….

      • Chris Howard says:

        I hope there isn’t blood shed, but if it is anthropogenic I do hope that there is justice for all those who were/are the victims. It does make me wonder if there are lawyers out there “sharpening their knives”?

      • Chris Howard says:

        I wonder if the tobacco industry suites could be used as precedence?

      • Markx says:

        Chris, the lawyers always have their knives sharp, and would love this.

        They’d be in court forever debating the validity of those models.

  13. Markx says:

    The solution for Australia is obvious and simple.

    Dig all that coal up as quickly as possible, sell it off to the highest bidder, but whack on a tax of 20% or so (henceforth known as the Whacking Great Save the World Tax), all to go onto a sovereign wealth fund.

    Use that fund to develop the technology to survive without coal, to set up nuclear power and to develop that new export industry of uranium, to dam, desalinate and otherwise source water, and to arm ourselves to fight off the ravaging hordes invading our paradise.

    Then use our abundant wealth to lobby like hell to prevent those who bought the coal from burning it.

    Thus saving the world and (accidentally of course) supporting our new uranium export based economy.

  14. CountryGirl says:

    Don’t be silly. The Whacking Great Save the World Tax is already divvied up. Some goes to the pseudo-scientists to study more global warming, some goes to politicians to be used to buy votes and insure a good retirement and most will go to the UN to continue their efforts to make most third world countries the hell holes they are today. There is no excess “Whacking Great Save the World Tax” money left to find alternatives.

  15. Canman says:

    There seems to be a pretty good case that human caused CO2 is warming the planet and will probably cause problems. It’s even an interesting story with published papers going back to 1896.

    What erks me is how AGW and the rest of environmentalism is steeped in left wing politics. On blogs like Joe Romm’s Climate Progress, any government spending on solar, wind or whatever is automatically good. Regulation creates jobs. The 99 percent are getting poorer, yet we’re consuming too much!

    We have a couple of real world examples of goverments pushing environmental agendas: California and Spain.

    Environmentalists have a history of overly pessimistic predictions. The most notable of them is Paul Ehrlich. After his miserable record (unavoidable famines in India, lifespans in the US falling to 42 years … ect,) the policical and scientific left do not even try to distance themselves from him. I still see people saying he just got his timing wrong. John Holdren, who helped pick the basket of metals on which Ehrlich lost his bet with Julian Simon, is president Obama’s science adviser.

    • tmac57 says:

      Don’t listen to the environmentalists,listen to climate scientists instead.

      • Miles says:

        “Don’t listen to the environmentalists,listen to climate scientists instead.”

        That can be hard to do (note: hard, not impossible) when often times they are one and the same. The political views of a majority of academics and scientists are overwhelmingly progressive. I’m not saying that makes them wrong, simply that hard data tends to get interpreted through a progressive lens more often than alternative optics. And yes, I would have the same opinion if the majority of climate scientists were libertarians. I’ve always been uncomfortable with highly homogeneous worldviews within academic circles and the group-think mentality which naturally results.

        I think the one thing we can all agree on, whether you believe that we are heading toward environmental disaster, or if you are skeptical of that claim, is that the global climate is a very complex system and difficult to fully understand. In my opinion, this fact is underestimated by folks who like to dig up mounds of observational data and numerical evidence.

        We can take a lot of measurements and gather a lot of factual data, yes, but we still have to interpret that data and construct a theory which explains that data, which is exponentially more challenging.

        It’s frustrating to be dismissed and labeled as a “denier” in the AGW debate, when I do not actually “deny” any facts, data, or other evidence, but simply disagree with some of the interpretations and conclusions of that evidence. I’ve always felt that this debate could be much more productive if we could move beyond that point and spend more time defending our theories instead of the old “you do not agree with my conclusions, therefore I’ll accuse you of denying my evidence” trick.

        I don’t deny that there are plenty of people on both sides of the debate who do, in fact, deny factual data. Rather, I’d like to listen to, and possibly participate in, more debates that focus on theories. It’s a shame that they are few and far between.

      • tmac57 says:

        …the global climate is a very complex system and difficult to fully understand. In my opinion, this fact is underestimated by folks who like to dig up mounds of observational data and numerical evidence.

        Miles,surely you are not saying that climate scientists are not aware of how complex climate science is…are you?

        Rather, I’d like to listen to, and possibly participate in, more debates that focus on theories. It’s a shame that they are few and far between.

        That’s a great attitude,and in my opinion,the best site for that is (as I have been saying for a while now) Skeptical Science:
        http://www.skepticalscience.com/
        They are a no nonsense, no ad hominem site that tries to stay focused on the science,and there are many lively but polite debates going on there.

      • Miles says:

        “Miles,surely you are not saying that climate scientists are not aware of how complex climate science is…are you?”

        I was directing this comment not at climatologists, but at commenters here who have a tendency to quote some data and then consider all arguments settled because they have referenced some data.

        I will say that being a climatologist isn’t a “free pass” in that department either. I’m sure there are good and bad climatologists, just as there are good and bad practitioners in any industry. For example, there are several economists out there who I think mistakenly believe that their models sufficiently capture the complexity of the economy, such that they believe they can twist a few knobs here or there and “tune the engine” to the desired result. I think those economists do not have a sufficient appreciation of how complex the economy really is. If it can happen in economics, I’m sure it can happen anywhere, including climatology.

        This discussion reminds me of my favorite Richard Feynman quote:

        “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

    • Max says:

      Nobody is good at predicting technology, politics, and economics, which affect prices. If scientists could predict prices accurately, they’d be a lot richer. What they can do is predict temperature changes as a function of greenhouse gas emissions, but the actual emissions will depend on technology, politics, and economics.

      • Markx says:

        We must beware lest the cure is worse than the affliction:

        Carbon Derivatives

        Now, Bloomberg notes that the carbon trading scheme will be largely centered around derivatives:

        The banks are preparing to do with carbon what they’ve done before: design and market derivatives contracts that will help client companies hedge their price risk over the long term.

        They’re also ready to sell carbon-related financial products to outside investors.

        [Blythe] Masters says banks must be allowed to lead the way if a mandatory carbon-trading system is going to help save the planet at the lowest possible cost. And derivatives related to carbon must be part of the mix, she says. Derivatives are securities whose value is derived from the value of an underlying commodity — in this case, CO2 and other greenhouse gases…

        Who is Blythe Masters?

        She is the JP Morgan employee who invented credit default swaps, and is now heading JPM’s carbon trading efforts. As Bloomberg notes (this and all remaining quotes are from the above-linked Bloomberg article):
        Masters, 40, oversees the New York bank’s environmental businesses as the firm’s global head of commodities…

      • Canman says:

        More complexity! This is why a carbon tax is preferable.

      • Markx says:

        And, there are very easy ways to predict multimillion dollar price moves in carbon trading …

        …if you are on the committee making decisions:

        Carbon allowances rose 32 percent overnight

        European Union carbon prices jumped after the EU Parliament environment committee backed a draft rule requiring the bloc’s executive to propose a temporary cut in permit supply in the next phase of its carbon market.
        Carbon allowances rose as much as 32 percent on speculation that an amendment to an energy efficiency law voted today……..(note the committee which has 68 members …)

        The Bloomberg article
        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-20/eu-parliament-committee-backs-proposal-to-withhold-co2-permits.html
        EU Carbon Surges as Parliament Backs Proposal to Withhold Permits
        By Ewa Krukowska – Dec 20, 2011 11:26 PM GMT+0800

  16. tmac57 says:

    NASA weighs in with climate change evidence:
    http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

    But then what do they know?

  17. Markx says:

    Australian droughts – Victoria

    http://home.iprimus.com.au/foo7/droughthistory.html

    Murray-Darling Basin Commission water resources manager Andrew Close said if the Murray still had its natural flow, it would have probably stopped flowing this year (2006), …..

    …..as it did in 1850, 1902 – (during the Federation drought when it stopped flowing for about 6 months), 1914, 1915 and 1923, while the Darling River dries up more frequently.

    • CountryGirl says:

      Dont be silly! Those other droughts simply happened. This new drought is caused by AGW don’tcha see. Proof! Proof! We don’t need no stinking proof!

      • Markx says:

        AND I’d left out the WWII droughts!

        The World War II droughts 1937 45

        As in the Federation drought, dry conditions were … endemic during the period 1937 through 1945 over eastern Australia. Conditions first began to decline seriously in 1937, with New South Wales, Victoria, much of Queensland and parts of Western Australia affected. Isolated parts of NSW, notably in the central west, suffered record low rainfall.

        Things worsened in 1938 – remarkably so, for this was a La Niña year. Drought intensified in NSW and Victoria, and also spread to eastern South Australia and the grain-growing areas of southwest Australia; Australian wheat yields plummeted to their lowest level since 1914. In Victoria, an extremely dry six-month spell commenced in August: forests became tinder-dry, leading to the disastrous “Black Friday” bushfires of January 1939.

        Relief finally came with heavy rain in late February 1939 over Victoria, South Australia and NSW, and rains were generally abundant over eastern and central Australia for the remainder of 1939.

        The 1939 rains were but a respite. Dry weather set in again in December, and 1940, a strong El Niño year, was one of the driest years of the century over most of southern Australia. By August 1940 the Nepean Dam in NSW was empty; by October, water restrictions were imposed in Brisbane. In the west, Perth had its driest year on record. The drought loosened its grip in the southeastern States in November, and more emphatically so in January 1941, when heavy rains fell.

        The second half of 1941 was again very dry along the eastern seaboard, with water restrictions necessary in Sydney from September onwards. Fortunately, 1942 was a year of good general rain – the value of which became more evident when drought returned to the southern States in 1943, followed by an even worse 1944. By April 1944, northern Victoria was carting water, and failure of the winter-spring rains led to failure of the wheat crop.
        As the drought extended into 1945, large rivers virtually dried up. By December 1944 the Hunter had ceased to flow along most of its course; by January the Hawkesbury was dry at North Richmond. By April 1945, most Victorian water storages were empty, the Murray had ceased to flow at Echuca, and Adelaide faced water shortages. As far north as Townsville here were water restrictions. Dust storms raged in South Australia, northern Victoria and southern NSW on many days in the summer of 1944-45.

        The drought finally ended in the southern States in winter 1945, ensuring a good wheat crop, but continued into 1946 in southern Queensland and northern NSW (in some parts, 1946 was the worst year of the lot!). It wasn’t until 1947 that significant general rains effectively ended the long drought.

  18. Markx says:

    Prothero, Goodell, DON’T proceed with the screenplay, the story has already been told!

    The Brisbane Courier Friday 11 October 1889
    THE PREDICTED DROUGHT. Australian weather statistics 1782 – 1889.

    ….. I will furnish a few condensed Australian weather statistics of the last 107 years……….
    (….)
    There was a great drought in 1797 for 100 miles round where Melbourne now stands ; 1799 to 1806 were very wet years, and in 1806 the floods culminated by a rise of 101 ft. at Windsor, on the Hawkesbury River.
    The crops were destroyed, wheat rose to 80s. a bushel, and a famine prevailed.

    The excessive rain kept on till 1810, but 1811 cut it short, and was so dry that water was worth 8d. per bucketful in Sydney.
    This drought was sharp but short, and there was plenty of increasing rain for years afterwards, till in 1820 the Hunter River rose 37ft.

    Ten years now elapsed without any more floods, and it was so dry from 1826 to 1829 that water at last became worth 4d. a gallon in Sydney. 1830 saw the first flood for ten years.

    Ordinary weather followed till 1837, but 1838 and 1839 saw the champion drought of the century. Stock were all but exterminated. The Murrumbidgee is a great river, 150ft. wide, 60ft. deep, and overflows its banks, like the Nile, when the head snows melt, for five miles on each side to a depth of 3ft. This gives a volume of water equal to a river of 1450 ft. wide and 120 ft. deep, and besides this it fills a group of lakes each from seven to eighteen miles in diameter.

    Yet this great river dried up so thoroughly in 1839 that the fish died and putrefied at the bottom of it.

    (….)

    1841 broke up this drought with the champion flood of Queensland; the Bremer River rose 70ft., and the Brisbane bar not being then dredged, there was no quick “get away” for the water, and it filled the lower story of the commissariat stores here, and Ipswich was very short of rations for some days.

    Moderate rain carried the colony of Now South Wales (then the only one) on till 1849, when dry weather began and lasted till May, 1851.

    The scattered bush fires of Victoria got ” boxed” into one mighty whole on 6th February, 1851 (” Black Thursday “), before a southerly hurricane which sent smoke and leaves across Bass Straits.

    1852 brought a flood that swept Gundagai away and drowned the inhabitants ; 1853 saw great overflows of the Lachlan, Murrumbidgee, and Darling rivers, but not from local rain ; 1854 was dry; 1855 and 1856, ordinary weather; 1857 was a flood year, with three months ceaseless rain from February to May.

    Settled weather lasted till 1863, which, with 1864, both gave heavy flood. The weather settled again till 1873 (bar a small drought up North in 1866), which, with 1875, was very wet, and gave a flood each.

    Settled weather again carne, with a small local flood in 1879-80 ; 1882 very wet: 1883 to 1886 very dry; 1887 very wet; 1888 very dry; 1889 moderately wet.

    (….) N. Bartley The Brisbane Courier 1889 ”

    http://home.iprimus.com.au/foo7/droughthistory.html

  19. Markx says:

    … then came the great Australia wide ‘Federation Drought” 1901, 1902,

    then

    Australia’s Longest Drought 1958 to 1968

    Most areas of Australia were drought-affected for long periods between 1958-1968.
    ….Australia-wide, during its last two years alone (1967-1968) there was a 40% drop in the wheat harvest, a loss of 20 million sheep, and a decrease of farm income of up to $500m. Five million people were affected and a total loss of livestock was 40 million.

    Event Start Date 01/01/1958 Event End Date 09/01/1968
    Duration of Event 3896 days

  20. Kenn says:

    As Stonewall Jackson famously remarked to General Richard Ewell, “He who does not see the hand of God in this is blind, Sir, blind!”

    Surely any thinking person with an open mind can see this is an act of God announcing the imminent Second Coming.

    I’m just trying to figure out why Jesus is going to Australia.

    • Markx says:

      Ken, that is obvious, ALL the refugees want to go there.

      We just have to email them all a copy of Prothero’s article, and they will surely change their minds!

  21. d brown says:

    “people (ARE) start dying from the effects of global warming” BIG FIRES AND FLOODS ARE NOW KILLING MANY PEOPLE. Carbon tax things as they are sold by about how much GH gases are made. No mater where its made, just where they are sold. And use the money, there to pull co2 out of the air. I think what we are seeing is the paranoid style of thinking. Someone, somewhere is out to get me and mine.

  22. tmac57 says:

    From the U.S. Global Change Research Program:

    http://www.globalchange.gov/publications/reports/scientific-assessments/us-impacts/full-report/national-climate-change

    Key Messages:

    U.S. average temperature has risen more than 2°F over the past 50 years and is projected to rise more in the future; how much more depends primarily on the amount of heat-trapping gases emitted globally and how sensitive the climate is to those emissions.
    Precipitation has increased an average of about 5 percent over the past 50 years. Projections of future precipitation generally indicate that northern areas will become wetter, and southern areas, particularly in the West, will become drier.
    The amount of rain falling in the heaviest downpours has increased approximately 20 percent on average in the past century, and this trend is very likely to continue, with the largest increases in the wettest places.
    Many types of extreme weather events, such as heat waves and regional droughts, have become more frequent and intense during the past 40 to 50 years.
    The destructive energy of Atlantic hurricanes has increased in recent decades. The intensity of these storms is likely to increase in this century.
    In the eastern Pacific, the strongest hurricanes have become stronger since the 1980s, even while the total number of storms has decreased.
    Sea level has risen along most of the U.S. coast over the past 50 years, and will rise more in the future.
    Cold-season storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent.
    Arctic sea ice is declining rapidly and this is very likely to continue.

    • Markx says:

      It is worth considering the words and publications of Chris Landsea.

      Landsea resigned as a chapter author on IPCC extreme weather projections soon after Trenberth’s email ‘discussion’.

      Landsea seems to feel that AGW is a real issue, but also very strongly feels that the prevalence of severe storms will remain the same or decrease by up to 25%.

      He makes a good case that recent storm activity has not been unusual.

      He outlines very neatly why having millions of richer humans with more material possessions living in seafront areas adds substantially to the cost of recent storms.

      http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Landsea/gw_hurricanes/

      (Trenberth’s email message) ‘I responded to [Chris Landsea's] earlier message in a fairly low key fashion. I think he has behaved irresponsibly and ought to be fired by NOAA for not have an open enough mind to even consider that climate change might be affecting hurricanes. I am quickly becoming outraged by this and I hope it backfires on him!!!! Kevin [Trenberth]‘

    • Markx says:

      And (directly from Landsea) very relevant to the MIT scenario discussed:

      “It is assumed here that this (an AGW rise of 2-3°C ocean warming by century end) is correct. (Such a stance presumes that a quite sizable vicious cycle of warming due to cloud and moisture effects will occur, much beyond what the greenhouse gases are capable of in isolation). “

      • Somite says:

        Markx: you are doing it wrong. Random examples of weather/climate changes would not be the way to dispute anthropogenic global warming.

        The only way would be to demonstrate a faster naturally occurring global rate of temperature change in the past. Other than that you are just trolling.

      • Markx says:

        Aw, C’mon Somite – the whole article is based on these disaster stories of droughts, bushfires, sea level change, and floods occurring in Australia!

        Surely this is all quite relevant?

      • Somite says:

        Nope. Disasters are only relevant in the context of their incidence and severity. Isolate events are of no value to the discussion.

      • Markx says:

        Somite,

        Landsea discusses exactly that issue. He research and publications are precisely on the incidence and severity of climate disasters.

        And 250 years of Australia wide weather comments are surely relevant in a discussion initiated by an article on Australia wide weather events.

      • Markx says:

        Further, this post above is simply a direct response (another opinion) to the ‘official line’ that tmac posted.

        The worsening hurricane story stands on really shaky ground, and it surprises me that it seems so central to the disaster scenario that it keeps getting trotted out.

        Then one tends to think, so what else do we have?

        Sea level rise by between 18 and 59 cm (7.1 and 23 in) during the 21st century, ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected). A lot of people will have to move, over the next 100 years, and a lot of expensive property is going to get cheaper. But, a world wide disaster?

        There WILL be associated disasters, (floods, storm surges) horrific for those in the middle of it, but the world does not blink. Just yesterday someone was telling me how much worse the Japan Tsunami was than the Indonesian (Indian Ocean) one! Yes, 15,000 dead in Japan vs 310,000 dead in Sumatra. Japan just got more TV. In Indonesia, life goes on, as it does in Japan.

        Nations can recover from incredible disasters: the Vietnam war is a great example: At least 1 million military deaths and perhaps the same number of civilian deaths, now it is a dynamic place, teeming with friendly outgoing new generations.

        Here is another we know little about: 2,500,000 to 3,700,000 deaths in the 1931 China floods. Did that change the world?

        Shifting climate patterns over a 100 years? That’s 3 to 4 generations of farmers, and, as problems arise in one area there will be very compelling economic pressure for new growing areas to adjust.

        Now, economics is a whole different game, perhaps the economists are figuring we need a whole new tax and trading system to keep the big imaginary machine rolling. They may be correct.

        And a carbon tax is probably preferable to the usual solution of starting a slow burning, low grade war somewhere.

      • Miles says:

        +2, Markx. Well said.

        As per this:

        “And a carbon tax is probably preferable to the usual solution of starting a slow burning, low grade war somewhere.”

        I agree with you. I’m certainly skeptical that a carbon tax will lead to more good than harm, but I’d rather have the least bad of two bad options (war vs. carbon tax).

        I definitely want to put myself on record as admitting that predicting the economically negative effects of carbon taxes and other environmental policy is probably just as difficult to do as is predicting the negative environmental effects of some 3%-5% amount of global warming. I certainly wouldn’t think the sky is falling, should a carbon tax become common.

      • tmac57 says:

        Markx- You seem remarkable sanguine about the deaths of millions of people during previous disasters.I think I see now why the prospect of AGW doesn’t make a blip on your radar.

      • Markx says:

        Miles,

        Yes, a “country internal” tax I can cope with, though given the current energy prices the average man is probably not using much more than he needs even now, so change will be slow to achieve.

        But at least the money can be applied internally, rather than being handled by international bankers and wonderfully non-democratic bodies such as the UN and the World Bank.

        Tmac, the point is, such things have happened before, and will continue to happen on a greater scale as populations double and live in more vulnerable places, and will be very difficult to ascribe to directly to ‘climate change’. (You, no doubt, will have little difficulty doing so.)

        Can you people really not see the echoes of Orwell’s messages from the novel ‘1984’ in your thinking?

        You are being railroaded, and it ain’t with the intention of saving the world.

      • tmac57 says:

        Markx- Evoking an unfounded Orewellian conspriacy theory,is not helpful for what should be a serious discussion about a scientific question. Please try to stick to the science if you want to be taken seriously.

      • Markx says:

        As I’ve pointed out before, it does not need a conspiracy.

        Just enough people with the same viewpoint publishing hyped up cases of worst case scenarios to convince the average man.

        Donald’s article is indeed a prime example, itself based on a rambling story centred on an MIT worst case scenario which is far more extreme than the IPCC projections.

      • tmac57 says:

        Just enough people with the same viewpoint publishing hyped up cases of worst case scenarios to convince the average man.

        With a little modification this sentence could apply to what the deniers are doing.Why does that not register with you I wonder?

      • Markx says:

        Tmac, where we differ is that I do grant you the possibility you may be right.

        But from everything I see and read I feel the absolute worst case scenario is being presented. I think it will be far less of a problem (and IPCC probability statistics also indicate that), and mankind will deal with it.

        You hold the view that all we are being told is the absolute truth, we should accept the scale of the problem and the solutions unquestioningly, and in spite of the UN and World Bank involvement, there are no other possible politics or agendas at work.

        The great haste may be an indication that somewhere there is a worry the warming may just stop before we are all convinced the world is about to end.

        Whatever we do right now will take about 100 years to take effect, so let’s take a little more time and get the science right.

      • tmac57 says:

        Actually,the IPCC gives a range of possibilities,from best case to worse,and usually splits the difference between those error bars to give the most likely scenario.So maybe their prediction will be an overestimation,but just as likely it could be an underestimation.They really are being pretty conservative,for example current observed sea levels are rising at the upper most boundary of their projections:
        http://www.skepticalscience.com/sea-level-rise-predictions.htm

      • tmac57 says:

        Additionally,Arctic sea ice is declining more than IPCC’s worse case scenario,and fossil fuel CO2 emissions are on the upper range of IPCC’s projections.

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/ipcc-scientific-consensus-intermediate.htm

      • Miles says:

        “With a little modification this sentence could apply to what the deniers are doing.Why does that not register with you I wonder?

        I think that registers with both Markx and myself. Speaking for myself, one of the reasons that I spend time here instead of all of my time over at Roy Spencer’s blog, is exactly the reason you bring up tmac. It’s the same reason I spend time over a Paul Krugman’s blog, instead of staying exclusive to free-market economists, like cafehayek.com.

        I know that no matter what I do, I can’t purge all of my biases from my system and evaluate all evidence from a truly neutral perspective. The best I can hope for is having an exchange with those who disagree and trying to stay as honest as possible during that process.

      • Markx says:

        Re CO2 emissions, well, that’s what’s certain it happen with a Kyoto style agreement, 1st world adds costs to its industry, industry moves to (probably less energy efficient) unregulated 3rd world, funded by ‘tax’ on 1st world, CO2 emissions increase as those countries industrialize (unregulated). (might be a fair thing socially…but…)

        Sea levels, temperatures – have been increasing and decreasing for thousands of years, given the right models, surely very easy to tie recent rises to recent CO2 rises (climate sensitivity to CO2 is a calculated figure, fed into climate models as an energy input to the system). The result of net added energy is a pretty simple result to predict! (though, not entirely guaranteed, some runs actually show increased precipitation from warming adding to the polar ice and eventually cooling the system).

        But, now you have it all hedged.
        If there is a dramatic warming – AGW! CO2 was to blame.
        Dramatic cooling – Climate change! CO2 was to blame.

        But these heatings and coolings have all occurred before without human help. (you may have no interest in that argument, but it is very a significant thing.)

      • Markx says:

        Not sure whose argument this one supports, but it sure is fascinating … we have much to learn:

        Only one period of stable climate has existed during the past 110,000 years–the 11,000 years of modern climate (the “Holocene” era)

        “……when Earth emerged from the final phase of the most recent ice age …. the Younger Dryas …11,600 years ago…. the Greenland ice core data showed that a 15°F (8°C) warming occurred in less than a decade, accompanied by a doubling of snow accumulation in 3 years. Most of this doubling occurred in a single year….

        …. The historical records show us that abrupt climate change is not only possible–it is the normal state of affairs. The present warm, stable climate is a rare anomaly. It behoves us to learn as much as we can about the climate system so that we may be able to predict when the next abrupt shift in climate will come….”

        http://www.wunderground.com/resources/climate/abruptclimate.asp

      • Miles says:

        “Re CO2 emissions, well, that’s what’s certain it happen with a Kyoto style agreement, 1st world adds costs to its industry, industry moves to (probably less energy efficient) unregulated 3rd world, funded by ‘tax’ on 1st world, CO2 emissions increase as those countries industrialize (unregulated). (might be a fair thing socially…but…)”

        That reminds me, one of the predictions I almost never see during discussions of the consequences of heavy CO2 emissions regulation, is the proliferation of black markets. Any time there is a good or service that is highly desired by groups of people, and that good/service is restricted or made illegal, black markets emerge. Any time we see black markets emerge, we see violence right along with it. Prohibition, the war on drugs, gambling, firearms, organ sales, you name it. It’s not long after that many people start to believe that the good or service being restricted is the cause of the violence, instead of the restrictions.

        If emissions regulations were strict enough to significantly impact certain groups, we’ll likely see some of those groups that are desperate enough resort to “illegal” CO2 emissions. I have to chuckle at the likely response by certain political groups should this actually happen: a proclamation that CO2 emissions cause violence.

      • tmac57 says:

        Sea levels, temperatures – have been increasing and decreasing for thousands of years, given the right models, surely very easy to tie recent rises to recent CO2 rises

        That’s right.They rise when ice melts because of increased temperature.A know factor in increased temperature is CO2 levels.We are introducing an unprecedented human element of rapidly adding CO2 to the atmosphere,unwittingly (well originally unwittingly)performing an experiment in raising global temperature,with no prospect of being able to easily reverse the trend.The best that we can do now,is to try to slow down that input,and hope for the best,while expecting and dealing with the consequences.

      • tmac57 says:

        Since climate changes throughout all of history,maybe a look at an extreme period (PETM)
        and a comparison of rising CO2 and methane levels can give us pause:

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-rising-ten-times-faster-than-petm-extinction.html

        The authors find that the maximum PETM rate of emission for organic carbon as the source is equivalent to 6.2 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, and for methane as the source, 1.1 billion tonnes of CO2 per year. For comparison: 2010 human-carbon emissions were 30.6 billion tonnes. So if organic carbon was the source, current emissions are almost 5 times faster than the PETM, and if methane, current emissions are rising 27 times faster.

      • Markx says:

        That is an interesting one tmac.

        There are some good comments there … of course this one struck me: “the models are based on a framework in which the PETM cannot have occurred … but it did…”

      • Markx says:

        Further – described as the ‘last great warming” the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM around 56 million years ago global temperatures rose by about 6 °C (11 °F) over a period of approximately 20,000 years …

        but how does that compare with the recent ending of the last ice age?

        the Younger Dryas …11,600 years ago…. the Greenland ice core data showed that a 15°F (8°C) warming occurred in less than a decade….

      • Max says:

        Lemme try to close the italics

      • Max says:

        One more time

  23. Miles says:

    Donald,

    I’m curious what your response to Matt Ridley would be when he says the following:

    “I’m not a denier. I absolutely accept we’ve increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I absolutely accept that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. What I don’t accept is that there is a consensus that makes any sense at all about the feedback effects that would make that dangerous. Carbon dioxide on its own cannot produce dangerous warming. All the models are based on there being positive feedbacks in the atmosphere through moisture. But I don’t find the science on that at all persuasive. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there’s an 80-to-90-per-cent chance of there being mild, slow and harmless warming. It then says we should worry and panic about the 10 to 20 per cent. I think it’s lower than 10 to 20 per cent, but I very carefully say in the book that even if you accept all of that, the probability is still that we won’t experience dangerous climate change.”

    URL: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/books/optimism-is-not-dead-meet-matt-ridley/article2242139/page2/

    I assume you don’t agree with his point of view. What do you think about the IPCC “10%-20%” predictions? Do you think they are too conservative? If you are comfortable with that prediction, do you believe that strong government interventions, regulations, and economic sanctions are still a proper response to that risk?

    • Somite says:

      Not a peer-reviewed article and likely no climatologist. Irrelevant.

    • tmac57 says:

      Matt Ridley is not a climate scientist,and is not doing research in that field.
      See this report from the NSF about one of many possible positive feedback mechanisms:

      http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=116532&org=NSF&from=news

      The research results, published in the March 5 edition of the journal Science, show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is starting to leak large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.

      “The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world’s oceans,” said Shakhova, a researcher at UAF’s International Arctic Research Center. “Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap.”

      • Miles says:

        “Matt Ridley is not a climate scientist,and is not doing research in that field.”

        You aren’t either. Therefore, the evidence that you present in your comment is invalid. Isn’t that how it works?

      • tmac57 says:

        Feel free to disregard anything that I offer as my opinion,however,when I link to information that is backed up by peer reviewed climate researchers,then that deserves to be taken seriously. What peer reviewed evidence did Matt Ridley referrence,or was he just opining?

      • Miles says:

        Here’s another observation about the progressive commenters here…

        When anyone who has a more optimistic outlook on our future climate states their arguments for why, they are met with:

        “Your argument is invalid. All that matters is data and facts. Show me the data.”

        When I talk about opinion that concerns that very data (climate predictions made by the IPCC), that still isn’t good enough. The response is:

        “The person who referenced the IPCC data isn’t a climatologist, therefore the argument is invalid.”

        Ok, let’s try this then. Here is a link to the wikipedia article of climatologist John Christy which states:

        In a 2003 interview with National Public Radio about the 2003 American Geophysical Union (AGU) statement, he said he is “a strong critic of scientists who make catastrophic predictions of huge increases in global temperatures and tremendous rises in sea levels”.

        So what is the reason going to be for automatically invalidating this opinion? Does his opinion not count, because he is not a progressive climatologist? I can’t wait to find out the answer…

      • Somite says:

        Off-hand comment not based on published peer-reviewed data. That’s why.

        Understand this. Only peer-reviewed facts and their interpretation, the structure of science papers, is valid information. The IPCC is a collection of these plus recommendations on what should be done about it developed by panels of experts.

        Blogposts, interviews and magazine articles are not appropriate sources for a discussion.

      • Markx says:

        Somite,

        The IPCC would appear to have a very clear agenda, which they may have managed to achieve had they not rushed it and declared ‘the science is settled’.

        Their ‘peer review’ process is stacked.

        Google IPCC reform
        Here’s a very well reasoned article by McKitrick:

        http://www.thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/mckitrick-ipcc_reforms.pdf

      • Markx says:

        And the funny part is, you are setting your bar of ‘only peer reviewed papers’ in a discussion on an article which is full of B grade cinema dramatic hype.

      • Markx says:

        The IPCC is famous for referencing non-peer reviewed, opinion articles from environmental groups in its reports.

        Even the InterAcademy council review in 2010 stated: “The use of so-called gray literature from unpublished or non-peer-reviewed sources has been controversial…”

      • Miles says:

        I can’t believe I’m taking the time to respond to a Somite quote…

        “Off-hand comment not based on published peer-reviewed data. That’s why.
        Understand this. Only peer-reviewed facts and their interpretation, the structure of science papers, is valid information. The IPCC is a collection of these plus recommendations on what should be done about it developed by panels of experts.
        Blogposts, interviews and magazine articles are not appropriate sources for a discussion.”

        First, I’ll echo my agreement with Markx’s responses to this nonsense. Second, I want to remind you what the consequences are of what you are saying here…

        “Blogposts, interviews, and magazine articles”, includes everything ever written on this blog, so your participation here proves that you do not actually believe that these should not be part of the discussion. But more importantly, we are not talking about what is valid for proof of a claim, we are talking about what constitutes valid discussion of the evidence for a claim.

        What you are saying here Somite, is that only “scientists” are ever allowed to even discuss scientific topics. Any other discussions about science or about evidence at all should not take place, according to this point of view. With this kind of view, you may as well institute Plato’s Republic as martial law and call it a day.

        Note: Normally, I would give Somite the benefit of the doubt and assume that he really isn’t advocating this, he’s simply confused about the discussion or failing to articulate himself properly. But, considering this is the same person who openly claimed that he is 100% devoid of any bias or ideology, I make a special case for him.

      • Somite says:

        It is not scientists (no need for scare quotes, they are actual scientisits) but their published data that you should use to arrive at conclusions.

        Ideas have a progression. They begin as speculation and have to painfully claw their way up to peer review and publication.

        I read blog posts and comments because they may explain difficult concepts better than the paper or is it authors themselves putting their work in context with others.

        If you take a moment you will see denialist blogs are all discussing someone else’s work. This is fine but if you are going to argue that a published work or interpretation is incorrect you must publish your argument and earn approval by peer reviews just like the original article.

        My suspicion is that Miles and Markx can not find published work that happens to confirm their preconceptions. This is why they resort to ANY opinion from any source. If we or preferably themselves were to adhere to publications and their authors as a source the bias would be untenable.

      • Miles says:

        “It is not scientists (no need for scare quotes, they are actual scientisits) but their published data that you should use to arrive at conclusions.”

        Agreed. Which is why I advocate that you listen to your own advice. But instead, your response to Matt Ridley referencing official IPCC data was:

        “Not a peer-reviewed article and likely no climatologist. Irrelevant.”

      • Markx says:

        “about one of many possible positive feedback mechanisms”

        Ya gotta love ‘settled science”!

    • Markx says:

      Miles,

      This (Matt Ridley discussion) IS a very significant post.

      Especially the IPCC “10%-20%” chance of their worst case scenario coming off. (I’d not heard that figure before).

      This is the issue which should be discussed.

  24. d brown says:

    There is one big thing that nobody can say is not a fact. Fire seasons are the time when things dry out in the wild. And fires start and keep burning. The dryness is will know and records are kept. Fire seasons have been getting longer and dryer for years, and we are having more and bigger fires. Something is making the woods and grass dryer and dryer. If not GW then what. This was predicted back in the late 70′s.

  25. tmac57 says:

    For a look at Mile’s offering of Dr. John Christy as expert witness,take a look at this comprehensive look and criticisms of his work (a full reading of it should take quite a long time,but I doubt his supporters will bother):
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/John_Christy_art.htm

    • Miles says:

      The motto of SkepticalsScience.com, found under their logo is:

      “Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism”

      I appreciate that the contributors to this site are open about their intentions and goals. It would be wrong of me to dismiss their claims for no other reason than these contributors being biased toward discrediting AGW skepticism. Instead I should evaluate their evidence and arguments. Their evidence may not persuade me, but to outright dismiss them would be wrong.

      I’ve only read through some of the arguments discrediting Christy so far, but I will finish reading through the rest. But I think you are misunderstanding why I brought up Christy in the first place, considering that I didn’t know who he was until I Googled for someone like him.

      Let me re-iterate the underlying point of most of my comments to this article. I do not begrudge anyone here for not agreeing with my position on AGW. I am not frustrated that more optimistic predictions of AGW effects do not persuade the majority of you. The frustration is not that you do not agree. The frustration is that you do not find alternative interpretations of the same data legitimate. There is only room for one conclusion: the effects of AGW projections are going to be catastrophic, cutting CO2 emissions will fix the problem, and any negative externalities which might be a result of aggressive CO2 cuts (raising the cost of food, more people starving, etc.) are justified.

      When I bring up an argument, such as Ridley pointing to IPCC data that their own projections are “80-to-90-per-cent chance of there being mild, slow and harmless warming.”, your response isn’t to tell me why that data isn’t persuasive, or what is wrong with the argument. Your response isn’t to evaluate that argument and disagree with it’s merits. Your response is to outright dismiss any argument of Ridley’s on the grounds that “he is not a climatologist”, or that his interview was not a “peer-reviewed scientific paper”, or that his views are not consistent with the views of other experts.

      The frustration is that you do not seek to evaluate the merit of these arguments and disagree with their conclusions or content, your tactic is to try and dismiss any arguments from being allowed to be considered in the first place.

      If you were to respond to most of my arguments like you did with Christy, and say “I don’t find that evidence very persuasive, and here is why…” there would be no problem. But that is rarely the response on this blog. The response is usually to claim everyone else as being “anti-science” or “ideological”, etc. The response to Michael Shermer’s posts are often similar. And then after such behavior un-befitting a skeptic, you claim yourselves to be “impartial”, “unbiased”, and “objective”. You reinforce this fantasy to the point where everyone else who disagrees with you is simply blinded by ideology, while you are the true thinkers of society, with un-matched intellectual clarity and duty to enlighten the rest of us with how we should be living our lives.

      • tmac57 says:

        When I bring up an argument, such as Ridley pointing to IPCC data that their own projections are “80-to-90-per-cent chance of there being mild, slow and harmless warming.”, your response isn’t to tell me why that data isn’t persuasive, or what is wrong with the argument.

        Miles,speaking for myself,I dismissed your post about Ridley,because he was clearly offering his personal opinion,and he is not a researcher in the field,and he offered no referrences for his assertion about the IPCC’s data that he was referring to,so there is no easy way to see what the context was. It also does not comport well with any other thing that I have read about this from any reliable source,so I feel that I was being appropriately skeptical of what he was asserting in that interview. If you have any good research that would back up his statement,I will be happy to take a look. The political jabs,are gratituious,by the way.

      • Miles says:

        Hopefully later today I’ll have some time to see if I can dig up the IPCC projection that Ridley mentions. Yes, he was offering his personal opinion, and I was asking for Donald’s personal opinion in response. I wasn’t asking for anyone to perform a peer-reviewed, scientific experiment to confirm whether or the opinions of Matt Ridley are accurate. I was pointing out his interpretation of some data and asking for what Donald’s interpretation would be.

        Also, I wanted to respond to this:

        “The political jabs,are gratituious,by the way.”

        It’s true that I may be exaggerating when I talk about how alternative viewpoints are treated. But it’s possible I might not be. Here’s one example from this very page of comments:

        OK, how about, “you’re a general, all-around effing idiot.” Because you are.

        That was a response to one of my arguments by SocraticGadfly. Ironically enough, I was catching up on my backlog of Paul Krugman blog posts just a few minutes ago, where he posted this little tidbit:

        “what’s going on in the discussion of economic affairs (and other matters, like justifications for war) isn’t just a case where different people look at the same facts but reach different conclusions. Instead, we’re looking at a situation in which one side of the debate just isn’t interested in the truth, in which alleged scholarship is actually just propaganda.”

        URL: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/24/joe-nocera-gets-mad/

        The common theme of these comments remains:

        I will not offer a critique of why your evidence is wrong. Instead, I will dismiss your legitimacy in taking part in the debate at all, on the grounds that you are intellectually inferior and incapable of evaluating the “facts”.

  26. Markx says:

    Well then, how about an opinion on the MIT publication behind the original article?

    MIT 2009 forecast this 5.1 degrees C (9.2 degrees F),
    The MIT site comments on what was done:

    “……There is no single revision that is responsible for this change.
    In our more recent global model simulations,
    •the ocean heat-uptake is slower than previously estimated,
    •the ocean uptake of carbon is weaker,
    •feedbacks from the land system as temperature rises are stronger,
    •cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases over the century are higher,
    •and offsetting cooling from aerosol emissions is lower.”

    http://globalchange.mit.edu/resources/gamble/comparison.html
    Do you think this is really a likely scenario?
    Why do they publish then?
    Is it likely they would try to frighten people?

    • Somite says:

      This is a denialist argument I never understood. The possible outcome is so bad it couldn’t possibly be true.

      • Markx says:

        Thanks Somite, for your well reasoned reply. I think you covered all issues well.

      • Miles says:

        You’re a “denier” Markx! See, argument over. Nothing you can do.

      • Markx says:

        Ha ha Miles. I’ve been called worse things! Note, there is no rank of questioner (this was abolished in the last revolution), it’s either denier, … or …THE TRUTH.

        But this really is sometimes the strangest discussion, with special rules suddenly appearing, and any science we do mention apparently ignored.

        Though I must say everyone is pretty decent and patient about it, given the very different viewpoints.

        But these vague, random detail, ‘disaster weather’ stories are popping up everywhere,

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/science/earth/climate-scientists-hampered-in-study-of-2011-extremes.html?_r=1&hp

        … and I’m sure the average man just soaks it up until it becomes a ‘truth’ (ooops, sounds a little Orwellian right there!).

        But now we know how tmac and somite feel about such pointless stories, we can probably expect them to go over there and leave a few critical comments.

        Socratic may even drop in and roundly abuse someone a little!

      • Markx says:

        Put things in perspective:

        ….. likely to raise sea level 15 cm by the year 2050 and 34 cm by the year 2100.
        There is also a 10 percent chance that climate change will contribute 30 cm by 2050 and 65 cm (approx 2 ft) by 2100. ……..

        A two foot rise in sea level (USA) would eliminate approximately 10,000 square miles of land including current wetlands and newly inundated dry land, an area equal to the combined size of Massachusetts and Delaware (EPA, 1989).

        That is an area of 100 x 100 miles. (a good bit less than the area of those two states, btw)

      • tmac57 says:

        Question:Will sea level stop rising at 2100? If you think it will,why would it?

    • Max says:

      They publish it because they think it’s a likely scenario.
      It’s more confirmation that the IPCC underestimated the warming.

      • Markx says:

        Don’t worry, the IPCC have enough models and simulations that can produce very similar extreme figures (which have low probability of occurring).

        Now, with the same models, at the other end of the scale, they get simulations which produce cooling. (Which have similarly low probability of occurring)

        Very likely the cooling would be more serious, but, strangely enough, there are no dramatic stories coming out in the press on that theme.

      • Markx says:

        Correction – bending the facts (well, my tired brain is) – the ‘negative’ came from spaghetti graphs on Antarctic contribution to ocean rise – quite a few of those simulations went negative.

        Some of the global temperature simulations re pretty flat, but not negative. (so that would be a pretty boring story!)

  27. d brown says:

    So, how about those longer and dryer Fire seasons? You know the fires TV has been full of from all over the word.

    • Markx says:

      Yep, dbrown, it is warmer, and drier in some places, and very likely some fires are worse in some areas in recent years.

      Other factors worsening fires, and adding to the higher costs of fires (in Australia) – cessation of firebreak burning, removal of grazing livestock from forestry areas, more people building houses in heavily timbered areas, local government restrictions on removing trees, or creating firebreaks around such houses (with the intent of saving (greening) the world!).

  28. Markx says:

    More scientific publication:

    Somite and others – any comment on Donald Prothero’s mistake re ancient Oklahoma’s “greenhouse warming”? Sounds a bit hyped up like the original article. Under comment #6 (ref attached there):

    Here is the real situation:

    “Since the broad, gentle raising of Oklahoma and surrounding areas (with the raising of the Rocky Mountains, imparting an eastward tilt to the area ) above sea level at the beginning of the Tertiary Period, no part of the State has been covered by sea water”.

    Are you sure all these extreme (and random) examples enhance your argument?

  29. Markx says:

    It seems clear storms are not (after all!) going to get worse:

    Chris Landsea (mentioned above #22) says Chris Landsea.

    “.. the prevalence of severe storms will remain the same or decrease by up to 25%…

    … having millions of richer humans with more material possessions living in seafront areas adds substantially to the cost of recent storms…

    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Landsea/gw_hurricanes/

    No hype? No comments?

    • tmac57 says:

      From what I have read,hurricanes are a very legitimate point of debate. There appears to be conflicting evidence on both sides,but so far it looks like we might expect fewer numbers of hurricanes (having something to do with wind shear),with higher intensity due to more energy content of the oceans.But I think this is still an open question.

      • Markx says:

        Thanks for the reply tmac.

        The latest IPCC report echoes that (albeit with a few provisos) NOTE Landsea’s calculation of the worsening intensity being perhaps of the order of 1% or less, is not mentioned.

        Tropical Cyclones (Hurricanes and Typhoons)

        Results …… project a likely increase of peak wind intensities and notably, where analysed, increased near-storm precipitation in future tropical cyclones. Most recent published modelling studies investigating tropical storm frequency simulate a decrease in the overall number of storms, though there is less confidence in these projections and in the projected decrease of relatively weak storms in most basins, with an increase in the numbers of the most intense tropical cyclones.

        Mid-latitude Storms

        Model projections show fewer mid-latitude storms averaged over each hemisphere, associated with the poleward shift of the storm tracks that is particularly notable in the Southern Hemisphere, with lower central pressures for these poleward-shifted storms. The increased wind speeds result in more extreme wave heights in those regions.

  30. d brown says:

    So its really happening. Its just not as fast as was expected. Is’n that wonderful..“……There is no single revision that is responsible for this change.
    In our more recent global model simulations,
    •the ocean heat-uptake is slower than previously estimated,
    •the ocean uptake of carbon is weaker,
    •feedbacks from the land system as temperature rises are stronger,
    •cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases over the century are higher,
    •and offsetting cooling from aerosol emissions is lower.”

    • Markx says:

      Sorry , dbrown, you perhaps miss the point.

      This is not what is actually happening.

      Those are the factors that were fed into a computer simulation program to come up with a calculation that the temperature was going to rise 5 degrees C.

      If you have a program which is based on the concept of increased levels of carbon dioxide causing heating of the atmosphere, and you then try a simulation where you increase the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions, reduce the carbon uptake by the oceans, and also tweak your feedbacks and reduce aerosol coolings;

      Hey presto …. you can get 9.18 F or 5.1 C ! (or any other figure you wish, models are a bit like that)

      Again- it is a computer simulation, these were the variables typed into the program.

      • Max says:

        Models capture the science. The Schrödinger equation is a model too.

      • Markx says:

        I could be wrong, Max, but I was under the impression that dbrown saw that as a list of consequences.

      • Max says:

        I don’t have a problem with pointing out that it’s a model, I have a problem with “models are a bit like that.” You may as well say science is a bit like that.

      • Markx says:

        Ah, I confess I don’t have as much faith in these particular models as I perhaps should.

        I’m sure they are not perfect, in spite of the ‘science is settled’ argument.

        “the models are based on a framework in which the PETM cannot have occurred … but it did…” (re PETM) (discussion under #22)

        re: http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-rising-ten-times-faster-than-petm-extinction.html

      • tmac57 says:

        So to summarize your position:
        “Scientists don’t know everything,so their predictions are worthless…oh,except for the predictions by a handful of contrarians,most of whom have never published any peer reviewed climate science…they have assured me that all is well,and nothing to see here.Carry on,business as usual.”
        Strangely,I don’t find this very reassuring.I guess I am just an alarmist worrywart.

      • Markx says:

        Here ya go.

        It’s worse than you thought!

        http://www.nrdc.org/health/extremeweather/

      • Markx says:

        Dang, that is one odd concoction, they start by talking about 2011, but it turns out it is a collection of severe weather events from over the last 30 years….

        Oh, except for any extreme cold events, they were inadvertently left off.

        And some disasters are defined by the scale economic damage caused, we’ve been through that one I think.

        http://www.nrdc.org/health/extremeweather/methods.asp

      • Markx says:

        Yes tmac, postion summary correct.

        Re the models, as I understand it, everything is based on ‘climate sensitivity’, defined as the temperature rise of the atmosphere rsulting from a doubling of CO2.

        Fo the IPCC forcasts, various scenarios are then entered into the models as enrgy inputs into the system.

        But, from the famous emails we find out we cannot even calculate the climate sensitivity with any certainty.

        e-mail exchange:

        cc: Simon Tett
        date: Fri, 30 Jun 2000 12:30:43 -0600 (MDT)
        from: Tom Wigley
        subject: Re: PRESCIENT: Draft plan — updated
        to: Keith Briffa
        Keith and Simon (and no-one else),
        Paleo data cannot inform us *directly* about how the climate sensitivity (as climate sensitivity is defined). Note the stressed word. The whole point here is that the text cannot afford to make statements that are manifestly incorrect. This is *not* mere pedantry. If you can tell me where or why the above statement is wrong, then please do so. Quantifying climate sensitivity from real world data cannot even be done using present-day data, including satellite data. If you think that one could do better with paleo data, then you’re fooling yourself. This is fine, but there is no need to try to fool others by making extravagant claims.
        Tom

      • Somite says:

        As usual you are using one guy’s opinion 12 years ago as a basis for your conclusion ignoring everyone else and the intervening 12 years of research.

      • tmac57 says:

        So you have a problem with consensus science models.Then what do you make of contrarian scientist’s models:

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-curve-fitting-fools-gold.html

      • tmac57 says:

        Here is a nuanced discussion about a new study that proposes that climate sensitivity may be (may be) lower (2.3 C) than previously thought.If true this would be somewhat good news,but nothing to feel great about.
        In any case,it has quite a lot to say about climate sensitivity:

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/11/ice-age-constraints-on-climate-sensitivity/

      • Miles says:

        Here is a recent research paper by Lindzen and Choi, in which they present their evidence that climate sensitivity in the IPCC models is exaggerated.

        http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Lindzen-Choi-06-11111.pdf

        Here is an interesting excerpt:

        CO2, a relatively minor greenhouse gas, has increased significantly since the beginning of the industrial age from about 280 ppmv to about 390 ppmv, presumably due mostly to man’s emissions. This is the focus of current concerns. However, warming from a doubling of CO2 would only be about 1oC (based on simple calculations where the radiation altitude and the Planck temperature depend on wave- length in accordance with the attenuation coefficients of well- mixed CO2 molecules; a doubling of any concentration in ppmv produces the same warming because of the logarithmic depend- ence of CO2’s absorption on the amount of CO2) (IPCC, 2007).
        This modest warming is much less than current climate models suggest for a doubling of CO2. Models predict warming of from 1.5oC to 5oC and even more for a doubling of CO2. Model predictions depend on the ‘feedback’ within models from the more important greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds. Within all current climate models, water vapor increases with increasing temperature so as to further inhibit infrared cooling. Clouds also change so that their visible reflectivity decreases, causing increased solar absorption and warming of the earth.
        Cloud feedbacks are still considered to be highly uncertain (IPCC, 2007), but the fact that these feedbacks are strongly positive in most models is considered to be an indication that the result is basically correct. Methodologically, this is unsatis- factory. Ideally, one would seek an observational test of the issue. Here we suggest that it may be possible to test the issue with existing data from satellites.

        I find this to be fairly good validation for part of the Matt Ridley quote which I posted early, which as received a lot of backlash here:

        “Carbon dioxide on its own cannot produce dangerous warming. All the models are based on there being positive feedbacks in the atmosphere through moisture. But I don’t find the science on that at all persuasive. “

      • Miles says:

        Miles- Dressler 2011 addresses their paper

        Thanks tmac. I was aware of that paper. Despite the snide remarks at SkepticalScience, there has been some highly civil and cooperative exchanges between Spencer and Dressler back and forth in response to each article. One of the things that Dessler’s paper, and the SkepticalScience review got wrong about Spencer’s claim, is that he is claiming a one-way causal relationship that warming is caused by cloud cover. Spencer isn’t claiming that in his paper, he is claiming a two-way causality. He is claiming that warming can sometimes cause cloud cover, and cloud cover can sometimes cause warming. This makes a big difference in the analysis. Dressler has since corrected his position, and it seems while the two continue to disagree, it is leading to productive research being accomplished.

        Roy has been publishing parts of the exchange on his blog:
        http://www.drroyspencer.com/

        I think it’s important to avoid a “data war” in situations like these. I don’t think posting papers back and forth is going to accomplish a whole lot. Yes, tmac, there are far more climatologist who attribute warming to human CO2 emissions. I’ve been of the mind that they are probably right for a few years now. But, unlike the commenters on SkepticalScience, I’m quite comfortable that folks like Spencer, Christy, Lindzen, and Choi are out there, challenging conventional theories, advancing alternative hypothesis, and improving our body of knowledge in the process.

        Pollution is always bad, I’ll agree to that. Cutting down on pollution is always a good thing. It’s a shame that nuclear power is so mistrusted by the general public, because it seems like the best alternative that we currently have to cut CO2 pollution without making things worse.

        I’m all for making the environment better, but there is always a cost. I’m not convinced that the IPCC has shown that we know enough about how the Earth’s climate works to make accurate predictions of the future, or to guide public policy enough to make good cost/benefit decisions. Some things are easy to recommend. I think nuclear is a bit of a no-brainer. But I do not think that we – the human race – are knowledgeable enough about the climate to dictate who is allowed to emit CO2, how much they are allowed to emit, etc.

  31. Markx says:

    It seems not easy to find too many percentages of chance offered in more recent publications, this from 1995:

    …..estimates that global temperatures are most likely to rise 1°C by the year 2050 and 2°C by the year 2100, that there is a 10 percent chance that temperatures will rise more than 4°C in the next century, and a 90 percent chance that they will rise by at least the 0.6°C warming of the last century.

    We see (above comments) that the storms may not be so bad, so how about the sea level rises then?

    ….. likely to raise sea level 15 cm by the year 2050 and 34 cm by the year 2100.
    There is also a 10 percent chance that climate change will contribute 30 cm by 2050 and 65 cm by 2100. ……..
    …….There is a 1 percent chance that global warming will raise sea level 1 meter in the next 100 years and 4 meters in the next 200 years. .

    From THE PROBABILITY OF SEA LEVEL RISE J G. Titus V K Narayanan

    http://epa.gov/climatechange/effects/downloads/toc.pdf

    We may have time to actually sort out this ‘settled science’, rather than getting railroaded by UN 1.6 trillion dollar wish lists.

  32. tmac57 says:

    Skeptical Science has a three part treatment of Matt Ridley:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Ridleyriddle1.html

    • Miles says:

      I just finished the first part and have more reading to do. So far, I have found the article to be lacking any actual arguments, and quite irritating to read. The SkepticalScience article offered no actual arguments as to what Matt Ridley is wrong about. There were no refutations of AGW claims, no refutations of any of his data, no refutations of any of Ridley’s references. There were hardly any arguments against any of his opinions. Most of the article was simple a list of some of Ridley’s claims and opinions, presented in a snarky and chiding tone. It basically read as “Here’s some crazy stuff that this Matt Ridley guy says…” – and that is it.

      The article did link to a separate blog article, which supposedly “debunks” some of the claims that he made. I thought, “Ok, well, maybe this other blog article actually has the arguments refuting Ridley’s claims”. I was greatly disappointed. Not only did the blog post from “Watching The Deniers” (http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/the-rational-optimist-matt-ridley’s-regurgitation-of-denialist-propaganda/) lack actual arguments and refutations, it was even more of a character assassination piece than the SkepticalScience article.

      The point at which this article claims to “debunk” Ridley’s claims, specifically:

      -Polar bear populations are rising
      -That Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” is broken
      -The hoary old “scientists in the 1970s used to believe an ice age was immanent” myth
      -Average temperatures during the Medieval Warming Period were higher globally than today

      The refutations are simply:

      -These sound like the same arguments we hear from Bjorn Lomborg, and we have bad things to say about that guy.
      -Matt Ridley is “pro-markets”, therefore he is an “ideologue” and should not be trusted
      -Matt Ridley criticizes journalist articles instead of scientific papers (yes? and?)
      -Matt Ridley “cherry picks” evidence (e.g., pointing to valid data and research == cherry picking)
      -Matt Ridley “fraudulently” makes the claim that there is a “debate” (Well, I can point to at least 3 active climatologists who do, in fact, disagree with the consensus. If that is not valid for “debate”, then science has turned into a democratic vote of the majority and nothing else.)
      -Matt Ridley points to a scientific journal in support of his claim that the Medieval period was warmer, and that journal is known to be skeptical of the consensus, therefore it is invalid.
      -Another scientist, John Cook, is critical of a paper that Ridley references which was published by another scientist, Craig Loehle. Therefore, the paper by Craig Loehle is a “shaky foundation” for Ridley to form an opinion upon.
      -Ridley is wrong about Polar Bear populations “holding steady”, citing a research paper.
      -Ridley’s references are not usually in footnote format, but posted at the back of the book. Therefore, Ridley is “ashamed to name is references”, as if is intentionally trying to hide them.
      -Even though the original 1998 “hockey stick” paper may have had statistical flaws, there have been numerous studies since then confirming the “hockey stick”, therefore Ridley is being disingenuous.

      Out of all of these arguments, only two of them passed the basic logic test of being relevant to anything. The first, was the refutation of the Polar Bear population data. If Ridley’s claim is wrong, then that should be corrected. However, a few minutes of Googling brought me to the latest USGS study on this topic, which seems much more ambiguous that this blog would have you believe:

      http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/special/polar_bears/docs/USGS_PolarBear_Obbard_SHudsonBay.pdf

      “The size of the SH population appears to be unchanged from the mid-1980s (1984-1986: 641, 95% CI = 401, 881) vs. 2003-2005: 681 (95% CI = 401, 961). Point estimates of survival for subadults and adult females were 94% (95% CI = 68%, 100%) in 1984-1985 to 89% (95% CI = 79%, 99%) in 2003-2005, but imprecision exhibited by overlap of the confidence intervals prevented us from unequivocally concluding that this 5% decline in survival was not a chance occurrence.”

      There was weak evidence of lower survival of cubs, yearlings, and senescent adults in the recent time period. This, combined with
      the evidence of significant declines in body condition for all age and sex classes, which were greatest for pregnant females and subadults, suggests this population may be under increased stress at this time. However, we did not find any clear association between survival and cub-of- the-year body condition, average body condition for the age class, or extent of ice cover in our data. This lack of association could be real or attributable to the coarse scale of our average body condition measure, or to limited sample size and few years of intensive sampling.”

      It seems to me that the data is fairly unclear on this. Further, when you read the context in which this statement was made in the book, it is fairly clear that Ridley is making the case that the Polar Bear is not currently in danger of extinction. He does not deny environmental challenges faced by Polar Bears, but simply attempts to put the issue into perspective. Which is further clarified and better contextualized in the following paragraph:

      “Do not get me wrong. I am not denying that species extinctions are occurring. I passionately believe in saving threatened species from extinction and I have twice worked on projects attempting to rescue endangered species – the cheer pheasant and the lesser florican. But the threats to species are all too prosaic: habitat loss, pollution, invasive competitors and hunting being the same four horsemen of the ecological apocalypse as always. Suddenly many of the big environmental organizations have lost interest in these threats as they chase the illusion of stabilizing a climate that was never stable in the past. It is as if the recent emphasis on climate change has sucked the oxygen from the conservation movement. Conservationists, who have done tremendous good over the past half-century protecting and restoring a few wild ecosystems, and encouraging local people to support and value them, risk being betrayed by the new politicized climate campaigners, whose passion for renewable energy is eating into those very ecosystems and drawing funds away from their efforts.”

      The other argument is actually more of a complaint of the way Ridley presents his case, and is not so much a refutation of any specific claim. I paraphrased the complaint thusly:

      “Even though the original 1998 “hockey stick” paper may have had statistical flaws, there have been numerous studies since then confirming the “hockey stick”, therefore Ridley is being disingenuous. “

      I could accept this as a valid complaint. But, unsurprisingly, the context of these statements are dubiously misrepresented in this article. First of all, the reference to the “hockey-stick” wasn’t anywhere in the main text of the book. It was given as a reference in the back of the book for his claim of “previous warm episodes”.

      Then, the blog article goes on to quote this paragraph:

      “In 2003 Professor McKitrick teamed with a Canadian engineer, Steve McIntyre, in attempting to replicate the hockey stick and debunked it as statistical nonsense. They revealed how the chart was derived from ‘collation errors, unjustified truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, incorrect principal component calculations, geographical mislocations and other serious defects’, substantially affecting the temperature index.”

      This paragraph appears nowhere in the Rational Optimist. He goes on to refute this paragraph, which appears nowhere in Matt Ridley’s book, and attribute the dishonesty to Matt Ridley himself. The only truth-claims that Matt Ridley has made here, was that the original, 1998 hockey-stick paper had flaws, and then referenced another paper which talked about those flaws:

      http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=7168

      But the blog article writes this portion of their critique as if Ridley is “denying” other studies that have been done, which he hasn’t.

      What is telling to me about this critique, is that Ridley makes dozens of well-presented arguments, with references to real data and expert research, which go completely unanswered by this article. Of all the things that the authors could have attacked, if they found a problem with Ridley’s work, this is all they come up with?

      I’m sure this article will automatically be more convincing to someone who is on the side of predicting global catastrophe, and will be automatically less convincing for someone like me, who is also obviously biased. But I have honestly done my best to look for real arguments here and admit faults where they seem reasonable, and I’m just not impressed at all. If anything, I’m impressed with how well Ridley’s book has held up to scrutiny more than anything else.

      • Miles says:

        Oops. Sorry about everything been italicized, I must have missed a tag somewhere. I really wish I could go back and edit previous comments. :(

      • Markx says:

        Mann’s hockey stick is indeed a flimsy fabrication, for all the reasons listed above (McKitrick), confirmed by the lack of access to the original data, giving absolutely no indication on how confidence intervals were calculated, and especially by the hiding of the precipitous decline of modern times (which should have invalidated his use of that set as a temperature proxy).

        Publications from other researchers using tree ring data from Mongolia, Tasmania (Australia) and New Zealand, confirm the existence of a worldwide MWP (Medieval Warming Period).

        Actual temperature records from UK dating back to about 900 AD, show the average temperature (in the UK) from about 1100 to 1250 AD was more than 0.5 C warmer than today. (Lamb 1965)

      • Somite says:

        “Mann’s hockey stick is indeed a flimsy fabrication”

        Denialism at its worst. The hockey stick graph has been confirmed by many other methods.

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/

    • Canman says:

      Thanks for the Ridley link. I don’t think Skeptical Science was too hard on him. But I was really pleased to find that Matt Ridley has a blog, and I think it’s fantastic!

  33. tmac57 says:

    Looks like Skepticblog got Italics for Christmas ;)

    • Markx says:

      Tmac, I’ve been wanting to ask ; how do you manage to format quoted test in a different font? It really enhances readability.

  34. d brown says:

    In 1953 the Sloan Kettering foundation published a report showing that the substances in cigarette smoke produced malignancies in rats. Big tobacco initiated a PR campaign to impugn the research. Just like now about GW. People wanted to believe that to. Many still do. And nobody says the data on the fire seasons getting longer and dryer is wrong. But they do talk around it.

    • Markx says:

      I don’t see an organized PR campaign at work here.

      It is more about the internet allowing wide access to a wide range of contradictory research and opinion.

      (For better or for worse)

    • Markx says:

      Speaking of PR campaigns, does anyone else find this mind-boggling?

      Why is the EPA funding advocacy groups?
      Should the ‘push’ not be in the other direction?

      The agency (EPA) recruited, guided and financed activist groups that promoted its rulemaking. Over the past decade, it gave nearly $4 billion to the American Lung Association and other advocacy organizations and various “environmental justice” groups, according to a Heritage Foundation study.

      • Canman says:

        It certianly sounds mind boggling to me. You should include a link. $4 billion sounds like it could be a few orders of magnitude high.

      • Markx says:

        Yeah, agreed, it $4 billion over ten years sounds ridiculously high in relation to the annual budget available:

        … The President’s 2012 Budget includes $9 billion (for the EPA) …

        They did spend US$0.68 billion in 2011 on R&D, maybe that was counted? It seems some of their budget is disbursed as ‘grants’ for projects, which apparently totalled $548 million in 2011. Training and awareness grants, fellowships and associated expenses only totalled $39 million in 2011.

        Can’t find any more on it, but I originally saw it on WUWT (and we know they are unbiased!). :-)

      • Markx says:

        Further:
        Looks like it was (a little) exaggerated! Sorry!

        In the last 10 years, the EPA has given the ALA $20,405,655, according to EPA records.
        http://junkscience.com/2011/03/15/epa-owns-the-american-lung-association/

        another “… the $5 million in funding it (ALA) takes from the EPA each year…”

        Only wrong by a factor of 100 or 200.

        But still, it’s odd they should fund them at all.

      • Markx says:

        I also saw approx another US$20 million went to “small environmental advocacy groups” over 10 years…

      • Canman says:

        I agree, plus I really don’t like them arbitrarily regulating CO2.

    • d brown says:

      You don’t see an organized PR campaign at work here!! I can’t remember how much just one big oil company has paid over many years. The usually lying Heritage Foundation is a PR group. They even print things that that great men said that has long known to be phony. I know because I looked up the real words of great men, and the Heritage Foundation put in … to change what great men said to what the New Right wants them to say. DON’T YOU EVER CHECK WHAT YOU ARE TOLD IF YOU LIKE IT. I DO.

      • Markx says:

        dbrown, yeah, I do check most things (too many, perhaps). If you read some of my other comments you may see that this is so. And, please don’t shout.

        Most people I know who have a few doubts about all this were probably simply a bit like me, saying to themselves, “Gee, that doesn’t sound right”.

        Searching of course, leads to lots of like minded people and much useful information. Some of these people and information sites are, no doubt, funded by somebody, something or someone.

        But, you may note, most of the information comes from older records, eg China historical floods, UK historical temperature records, and earlier publications including pro-AGW reports and publications.

        It is hard to see how ‘big oil’ might be manipulating all this older data.

        If it is just the ready availability of information you resent, then do not worry. I do predict that in future the internet will become a more restricted place, and in future this will be attributed to the aftermath of the natural disaster known as the Great Global Warming Indoctrination Failure. :-)

  35. Somite says:

    Similar effects may be seen in the US too.

    Incidence of extreme weather events in the US http://t.co/gZyGz578

    • Markx says:

      Scientific publications and IPCC reports indicate there is no statistical evidence of more extreme storms.

      Newspaper reports (such as this) present data to show the weather has always been like this, but then go on to add the obligatory AGW paragraph blaming recent temperature rises on manmade emissions.

      It seems the same AGW paragraph is obligatory for publication in many of the peer reviewed journals as well.

      • Somite says:

        Maybe not statistical yet but all the indications are there:

        Storm Warnings: Extreme Weather Is a Product of Climate Change
        More violent and frequent storms, once merely a prediction of climate models, are now a matter of observation. Part 1 of a three-part series

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=extreme-weather-caused-by-climate-change

      • Somite says:

        This latest review in science magazine of the relationship between climate change and extreme weather also disagrees with you;

        http://m.sciencemag.org/content/334/6059/1040.summary

        Humans Are Driving Extreme Weather; Time to Prepare
         Authors
        Richard A. Kerr
        Summary

        An international scientific assessment finds for the first time that human activity has indeed driven not just climate change but also increases in some extreme weather and climate events around the world in recent decades. And those and likely other weather extremes will worsen in coming decades as greenhouse gases mount, the report finds. But uncertainties are rife in the still-emerging field of extreme events.

      • Markx says:

        Somite, the Scientific American article is just some vague mentions of “scientists say”, including comments from insurance companies (who measure disasters in dollars) and then a few anecdotal stories of floods etc. (sorry, can’t get at the Science paper).

        There is plenty of anecdotal information (but evidence of what?) above regarding Australia (both the original post , and my follow up comments), it would be a very dodgy statistician who could prove recent droughts or rains there were unusual.

        China floods are mentioned: Here’s some anecdotal evidence for China:

        “…the floods of 1931 were a series of floods that occurred during the Nanjing decade in the Republic of China era. It is generally considered the deadliest natural disaster ever recorded; almost certainly the deadliest of the 20th century..”

        And

        From 1928 to 1930 a long drought preceded the flood…..

        And before that was the 1935 Yangtze river flood China with 145,000 deaths

        A bit earlier?

        1887 Yellow River (Huang He) flood China 1887 900,000–2,000,000 deaths

        Even the IPCC does not state this extreme weather as a very likely scenario. (except Trenberth of course).

        Does not seem logical storms would get worse, slightly warmer air should be hitting slightly less cool air….correct?

      • Somite says:

        Please explain how citing examples of natural disasters helps in any way? The discussion is about an increased incidence not individual instances.

        And no. You can not wave away articles in Scientific American or Science Magazine.

      • Markx says:

        ha ha, Somite, rule number 27?

        “…the masters, make the rules, for the wise men, and the fools…” Bob Dylan

        The explanation is very simple. These disasters (far, far worse than the many anecdotes in the sources you quote, or in the original article) would today be grasped with both hands as definitive proof of man-made climate change.

      • Markx says:

        Somite, Could you please quote a small summary of interesting bits from Kerr “Humans are driving extreme weather” (Science Mag) – can’t seem to get it anywhere.

  36. Miles says:

    It would be great if I could get some insightful responses from a paleoclimatologist to some of the criticisms I’ve seen of pale-proxy data sources and their accuracy. I haven’t learned enough yet to form an opinion of my own on whether or not to be skeptical of these data sources, but I have found other climatologists who are skeptical of them.

    I first came across this skepticism in Roy Spencer’s book, “Climate Confusion”. A few quotes from the book:

    Since they [paleoclimatologists] do not have to deal with actual temperature measurements to verify their methods, their results are often treated as gospel.

    and:

    I personally do not put much faith in paleoclimate studies. Since scientists can’t even agree on the accuracy of actual thermometer-measured temperatures over the last hundred years, I find claims that we can discern ancient temperatures based upon of the tree-ring spacing of a Bristlecone Pine growing at 9,000 feet elevation in a remote corner of Colorado to be a little dubious.

    Now, I’ll admit that this seems like a bad argument. Spencer doesn’t identify any direct problems with paleoclimate methodologies, but instead draws a conclusion that is a logical fallacy. Whether or not scientists can agree on the accuracy of thermometer-measured temperatures does nothing to invalidate paleo-proxy data.

    So I learned a bit more on how this data works from this source, which was well presented:

    http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/icecore/review.php

    But I did come across a real paper written by an active paleoclimatologist pointing out how the methods might be flawed and suggesting ways to improve them:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/reports/trieste2008/ice-cores.pdf

    As a laymen, there are few specific questions I’d be interested in hearing answers to:

    1) Since we do not have direct temperature data from more than 100 years ago, how can we verify the accuracy of ice core samples and other pale-proxies which examine samples from much further back in time?

    2) What kind of error margins are we dealing with in these measurements? Is there any consensus as to what those margins are?

    3) The global average temperature, which is what we are mostly interested in when comparing previous climate data to current climate data, is averaged using temperature measurements from all over the globe. How can a few sparse ice core samples from just a few regions be used to come up with an accurate global average?

    4) Since heat naturally moves around the surface of the earth in different patters, and at any given point in time one region of the planet might be much hotter than average for that region, yet another area will likely be much cooler than average for that region, how can we look at a few paleo-proxy samples in one particular region and know whether or not those temperature estimates were the result of a regional, temporary change in climate, or the result of a longer global climate trend? Wouldn’t we need to have hundreds and hundreds of samples from all over the earth to get an accurate picture of what the global trend looked like?

    5) If we look at ice core samples for a particular region, say Greenland, and find no evidence for very much warming in Greenland over the past 700,000+ years, how do we know that there wasn’t extensive warming in some other region at some point in that time-frame?

    Maybe someone here can help me find some informed answers to these questions.

    • Somite says:

      The simple answer is that you are focused for some reason on ice cores. Many different lines of evidence point to unprecedented warming:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/broken-hockey-stick.htm

      The “questions” you raise are what peer review is for. A paper or set of data that is incorrect or misinterpreted is not published or fails verification. What you are asking is for someone to do your personal peer review. I’m afraid it has been done already and you would have to look at the materials and methods of each paper where everything is documented.

      Since I trust modern science and peer review I can enjoy the results and conclusions without worrying about the minutia. Others thankfully have worried about it already.

      Regarding the comparison of local vs global. You can find many, many papers that report local temperatures based on a single proxy. Deniers love this because they can cite papers that say it was cold or warm at X a Y number of years ago. It is only on big picture papers, usually on Science or Nature where multiple data points are summarized to present a global or hemispheric temperature.

    • tmac57 says:

      Miles,you ask a lot of good skeptical questions about things that are actively being thrashed out in the climate science world,and I applaud that.However,I am continually struck by your lack of skepticism of contrarian climate scientists and writers, who are obvious outliers in their positions. It’s fine for scientists to challenge positions they don’t agree with,but why do you,as a non-scientist,find the outliers to be more convincing than the majority?

      • Miles says:

        Miles,you ask a lot of good skeptical questions about things that are actively being thrashed out in the climate science world,and I applaud that.However,I am continually struck by your lack of skepticism of contrarian climate scientists and writers, who are obvious outliers in their positions. It’s fine for scientists to challenge positions they don’t agree with,but why do you,as a non-scientist,find the outliers to be more convincing than the majority?

        Thanks for the kind words, tmac. You ask a fair question. If I come across as a “contrarian”, I might be doing it unconsciously, or maybe it just seems that way here because I only bother to comment on articles where I sense an actual debate. I agree that ghosts aren’t real and that 9/11 wasn’t a conspiracy, so, I just don’t have much to add to those blog posts. So, I don’t think, as a general rule, I inherently find the minority of scientists more convincing than the majority. I think for the majority of scientific topics, I agree with scientific consensus.

        So, why, in the case of climate change, am I not convinced that we are headed toward global catastrophe? Well, I could list my usual arguments, but if I’m going to be completely honest with you, the answer is: I don’t know.

        I can sit here and tell you noble stories about how I evaluate all the evidence and that I’m only interested in whatever the truth is. But I know that’s misleading at best. I’m biased, and I need to be up front about it. I really don’t believe that a small group of people – even a group of well-intentioned, very smart scientists – are capable of reorganizing large economies to produce well-intentioned outcomes. Sure, I have evidence, and data, and rational arguments. But I’d be lying if I said that those are the only factors and that simple ideology has nothing to do with it.

        I’ve also been a bit stunned by the way that climatologists who disagree have been treated. I always looked at science as the place where “heretics” were supposed to be welcomed, even celebrated, as long as they had evidence and were doing real science. And while there is no global warming “conspiracy” to keep the heretics out, they certainly haven’t been welcomed with open arms. Now that’s not why I find some of their arguments convincing. I say “some arguments” because Spencer has not convinced me that most of the warming can be attributed to clouds, I simply find his research compelling enough to be considered and further researched. But it does frustrate me a great deal that the heretics have not been treated with more respect, as if their arguments are not allowed to be considered simply because they are not part of the “consensus”. This attitude has mostly been from the public, but I see examples of it within the scientific community as well.

      • Somite says:

        The discomfort you feel is the cognitive dissonance from a reality you are unwilling to accept because of your ideology.

        These are the relevant phrases from your post:

        “I’m biased”
        “I really don’t believe”
        “simple ideology”

        Ideology and bias are poison to science. There is data and there is interpretation. If you disagree with either you must provide an alternative. Deniers simply fail to do so.

        Exactly when have scientists that openly disagree with the evidence have been mistreated?

      • tmac57 says:

        I really don’t believe that a small group of people – even a group of well-intentioned, very smart scientists – are capable of reorganizing large economies to produce well-intentioned outcomes.

        This is a telling statement.Climate science is about understanding the physics of our planet,not about reorganizing the economy. One may have implications for the other,but in my view most climate contrarians are letting their political ideology drive their need to discredit the consensus.
        Take a deep look at who they are,and I am betting that you will find they are Libertarian or conservative GOP members,while the consensus has a mix of differing political leanings,for example Richard Alley,and Barry Bickmore are conservative Republicans.James Hansen was also a Republican,I don’t know if he still is though.
        In any case,WHAT to do about AGW should be a separate issue from IF it is happening or not,and I believe that that is what most climatologists are trying to establish.

      • Miles says:

        This is a telling statement.Climate science is about understanding the physics of our planet,not about reorganizing the economy. One may have implications for the other,but in my view most climate contrarians are letting their political ideology drive their need to discredit the consensus.

        I am well aware of what climate science is about. But let’s take a time-out for a second and think about this. Take a look at your next statement:

        Take a deep look at who they are,and I am betting that you will find they are Libertarian or conservative GOP members,while the consensus has a mix of differing political leanings,for example…

        Do you not find this at least ironic, considering the “Michael Moore” job that Somite attempted on me, just above your comment? SocraticGadfly dismissed my arguments on the grounds that I’m an “idiot”. Somite has claimed that he is 100% unbiased. Think about the irony in that for a second.

        Here, let’s put this another way. Let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that you are right. Let’s assume for a second that most Libertarians and Republicans are choosing a side based on ideology, and that everyone who is worried about a global warming catastrophe are simple truth-seekers, evaluating the evidence objectively and impartially.

        Given the above scenario, wouldn’t you have to admit that if you were wrong, then you would be guilty of the very thing you are accusing others of? Instead, if it were the case that progressives, libertarians, and conservatives were all pretty much equally biased, that would mean that you are guilty of the group-think you are accusing everyone else of.

        Now, I don’t expect to convince you that your worldview is wrong, but let’s look at this from another hypothetical angle: the impartial alien viewing human society from above. To the truly impartial alien, who do you think appears to have better control over their biases?

        -The progressive who says that everyone else is being ideological, but progressives are not.

        -The conservative, who says that everyone else is being ideological, but conservatives are the ones thinking clearly.

        -The “consensus” man, who says that everyone else who disagrees with the consensus is just being ideological, but if you are part of the club, you are thinking clearly.

        -Me, the libertarian (but I don’t believe the libertarian part has much to do with it), who admits that he is biased, thinks that EVERYONE is biased, doesn’t hide from the fact that he has an ideology and does his best to compensate for it, partly by being honest about it.

        In this scenario I’m not speaking for all libertarians, just myself. I have a feeling that out of almost everyone here, I am the most willing to admit my bias, confront it, and be honest about a degree of uncertainty due to that bias. I might spend more time than any of you thinking about my bias and how it affects my conclusions. I certainly spend more time writing about it. As an example, I’ll point out again that I don’t agree with Spencer that there isn’t enough evidence to attribute most of the warming trend to humans, even though I find his case compelling enough to warrant further research.

        I also bet that I am the least likely to ignore valid arguments on the grounds that they are “biased”. But instead, evaluate opposing arguments based on their merits.

        Even now, I don’t want to dismiss any of your claims on the grounds that you are a progressive and that you are biased toward progressive conclusions. Yet the fact that I am willing to admit that I am biased, causes you to take me less seriously. You should’t seek to discredit me because I am biased. You should seek to discredit me because my arguments are wrong. The fact that you seem believe that my bias has anything at all to do with whether or not I am right should be a big red flag to you about who is letting their bias cloud their judgement more.

        You aren’t right or wrong because you are biased or not. What makes you right about something, is that your view is more consistent with reality. We don’t dismiss scientific claims on the grounds that the person making that claim is “biased”. We dismiss them because the evidence overwhelmingly supports and alternative theory.

        But you guys are so stuck on this idea that because someone has an ideology that their claims inherently have no merit, that you don’t realize you are guilty of the very thing you are accusing me of.

      • tmac57 says:

        Miles,you just expended a lot of time describing how you try not to be biased in your view of climate science,and yet you did write this statement:

        “I really don’t believe that a small group of people – even a group of well-intentioned, very smart scientists – are capable of reorganizing large economies to produce well-intentioned outcomes.”

        Explain to me why this isn’t a politically screwed up view of what the motives of these climate scientists are.
        And as for me,yes I admit that I have biases,but when it comes to AGW,I have absolutely no motive whatsoever for it to be true,and as a matter of fact I have every reason to want it NOT to be true,because then I could rest easy about the future for my kids and grandkids.It is for them that I worry about what kind of world they will have to deal with.I will be long gone,so I won’t have to deal with it.And I certaintly do not wish for any new unwarranted fees,taxes,government intrusion or power,one world government,or whatever the hell it is that is supposed to be motivating us “warmists”.That really is stupid,I’m sorry to have to say.

      • Somite says:

        Miles: your arguments are wrong. They also happen to be biased.

      • Markx says:

        Sure tmac, this is a fair statement you made:

        In any case, WHAT to do about AGW should be a separate issue from IF it is happening or not, and I believe that that is what most climatologists are trying to establish.

        But, that IS the very problem. It’s not working that way.

        The scientists are hard at work, but we are being hit with “act now, we are all going to die tomorrow, see here’s another disaster weather story (read it: just hot days, some dry spells, some heavier rain, but of course illustrated with tornado damage photos)” while the science and the solutions are still under way.

        This dramatic haste and dramatic ‘advertising’ makes some doubt the true motives of those behind the scenes.

        And such haste allows some to take political advantage by using other peoples’ money to perhaps enrich themselves, but certainly to enrich their electorate and thereby buy votes (ie the ludicrous corn ethanol subsidy and use mandates.)

      • Miles says:

        Miles,you just expended a lot of time describing how you try not to be biased in your view of climate science,and yet you did write this statement:

        You are being misleading. I spent a lot of energy describing how I am biased, and the fact that I’m comfortable being honest about it makes it much easier for me to compensate for it and keep it in check. I then laid out a specific bias that I have (one of many) to demonstrate my willingness to be open and honest about them.

        Explain to me why this isn’t a politically screwed up view of what the motives of these climate scientists are.

        Whether or not you feel that it is “politically screwed up” has nothing to do with whether or not it is true. This is the kind of stuff that makes it true:

        http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2007/05/new-ipcc-report-how-to-mitigate-climate-change/

        I think the worst you can accuse me of in my quote is exaggerating when I use the word “reorganizing” an economy. That might be a fair point, and maybe using “readjusting” the economy might be better. But the message still stands. The IPCC is recommending legislation and policy changes, which will enforce rules, which will cause the economy to readjust in a top-down fashion, and which will impose rules on private property owners as to how they are allowed to use that private property. There will be unintended consequences of this. I do not think that future climate predictions are accurate enough to warrant these recommendations.

        And as for me,yes I admit that I have biases,but when it comes to AGW,I have absolutely no motive whatsoever for it to be true,and as a matter of fact I have every reason to want it NOT to be true,because then I could rest easy about the future for my kids and grandkids.It is for them that I worry about what kind of world they will have to deal with.

        Absolutely no motive whatsoever? Wrong. The fact that you are worried about the future of your kids and grandkids (every parent is), causes you to be overly risk-averse. Small risks become amplified for you, because the thought of harm coming to your children is (understandably) horrific. I don’t expect that you would “like” the future climate to be catastrophically bad, that would be silly. I expect that you fear it more than I do, and that fear amplifies small probabilities into large, dire risks. It’s part of human nature. Parents overestimate risk when it comes to their children all the time.

        Can’t you see how good you are at tricking yourself into thinking that you are impartial? Don’t feel bad about it, it’s perfectly normal. But it should be a signal to you, that after everything I have written on bias, you still think that you have “absolutely no motive whatsoever”. Well of course that isn’t true. But the important bit is that just because you have a motive, doesn’t mean you are wrong. For me, recognizing that fact was the easiest way for me to start opening up and being more honest about my biases.

      • tmac57 says:

        Point one,

        …the fact that I’m comfortable being honest about it makes it much easier for me to compensate for it and keep it in check.

        is equal to

        …how you try not to be biased in your view of climate science

        No?

        Point two,The IPCC’s charter,is to synthesize the current climate science,and come up with policy recommendations.The IPCC is NOT the climate scientists.Those scientists voluntarily contribute their work,and they are not working for the IPCC,and have their professional reputations at stake as competent researchers.

        Point three

        The fact that you are worried about the future of your kids and grandkids (every parent is), causes you to be overly risk-averse.

        That would be a motivation to act on information,not a motivation to believe it.
        I have been hearing about global warming since the early 80′s and sort of passively followed the story,watching all of the usual back and forth of one study,then a counter study,and didn’t really give it much thought until about two years ago,when the evidence supporting it became a virtual landslide.Then as I followed the competing side,I noticed an obvious strain of disingenuousness ,and a tendency to repeat fallacious arguments. In short,many of them are known liars (Christopher Monckton comes to mind) and the contrarians usually refuse to denounce them,even when it is obvious that they are propagandists. That shows a lack of integrity on the behalf of the people whom you probably think are honest contrarians such as Christy,Lindzen or Spencer. That Miles is what drives my reasoning,not some panicky poorly thought out ideological belief in catastrophe.

      • tmac57 says:

        Oh,and I forgot to add,I sincerely hope that these ‘skeptics’ are right,and that we have nothing to worry about.I just think that the probability of that is very, very small…not zero,but very, very small.
        In the mean time,wouldn’t it be great to wean our world off of fossil fuel,and all the attendant problems that come with it?

      • Miles says:

        tmac:

        Concerning your “point one”, you presented your point as if to show that there is some contradiction in the fact that I admit to being biased, and then go on to talk about how I try not to let that bias cloud my thinking. I do not see any kind of contradiction in this. If that is not why you pointed this out, then I apologize for the misinterpretation and I retract it. If that is the case, I’d like to hear from you what it is that you were trying to demonstrate.

        On your point #2:

        The IPCC is NOT the climate scientists.Those scientists voluntarily contribute their work,and they are not working for the IPCC,and have their professional reputations at stake as competent researchers.

        This is a good point. It should be re-iterated now and again to be accurate about what we are talking about. I think that Markx might agree with me that a lot of our frustration is not in response to those researchers (at least their work, their opinions on what we should do about their work may be a different story), but in response to the various groups of people who interpret that work and advocate different things as a result. When I talk about the “Global Warming Hysteria”, I’m not talking about the climatologists who model predictions of warming somewhere in the 2.3C – 5.0C range, I’m talking about the environmentalists, politicians, pundits, foundations, “institutes”, bloggers, and other groups who attribute any extreme weather pattern to global warming, who tell us that the world is going to end if we don’t all start driving a Prius, that if you don’t vote for a carbon tax you are voting for our children to die, etc.

        Because climate change has become so politicized, it can be easy to lose track of this distinction. It can be confusing when some climatologist, do in fact advocate for certain policies sometimes, etc. You are right that I should be more explicit in who I am accusing of what. It makes for more long-winded posts, but it’s a good thing to specify that stuff from time to time, and I’m certainly guilty of generalizing.

        So, point taken. ;)

        As to your point #3:

        That would be a motivation to act on information,not a motivation to believe it.

        That is another great point, and I agree with your distinction. However, I think the two reinforce each other. The fact that you have a motivation to act on it, reinforces your acceptance of the evidence to support it.

        And that is not the only possible motivation you could have. There are others. Here are a few that come to mind:

        -The more time you spend arguing with others that a particular idea is true, the more you become invested in that idea. Over time, it becomes more intellectually painful to accept that the other side has a valid point, when you have spent so much time saying they don’t.

        -This one is AGW specific and not related to the view that the effects of AGW are likely catastrophic, but believing that warming is caused by man gives you a reason to believe that we can do something about it. Believing that we are powerless to stop potentially dangerous climate change isn’t a pleasant prospect.

        -I’m guessing you are a progressive. I’m sure that other progressives wouldn’t like you very much if you went around saying that the effects of AGW are going to be fairly mild. Being alienated from your group and the people that you share common values with is never a pleasant experience.

        There are others, but I’m sure you get the idea. Let me be clear that I’m not accusing you of any of these specific biases. I’m just saying that any of them are possible. My personal experience and my research into the science of how human beings rationalize ideas and construct world-views makes me very skeptical that you do not have any motivations or biases, conscious or unconscious, behind your view that warming is likely to be catastrophic.

        Also, let me once again clarify my view. I accept AGW. I am not skeptical of the claim that human CO2 emissions have been largely responsible for a 1 degree Fahrenheit increase in average global temperature of the last 100 years. Once again, the parts that I am skeptical about:

        -Our knowledge of how the planet’s weather systems are likely to respond to an increase in average global temperature.

        -Our ability to accurately predict the strength of feedback effects as a result of a small amount of warming.

        -The human race’s inability to adapt and cope with small increases in storm intensity, average global temperature, and rising sea levels.

        As I said before, pollution is always bad. Cutting pollution is always good. But what kinds of CO2 cuts we should make is a cost-benefit question, not a science question. I’m all for cutting CO2 pollution as long as the costs are worth it.

      • Somite says:

        Then you should be more concerned. Not less. What if you are right and we are unable to model the consequences accurately? Then it could be much, much, worse and we wouldn’t know. Uncertainty goes both ways.

      • Miles says:

        Then you should be more concerned. Not less. What if you are right and we are unable to model the consequences accurately? Then it could be much, much, worse and we wouldn’t know. Uncertainty goes both ways.

        For the same reason that I did not get my breaks checked before driving to work today, and for the same reason I will not get them checked tomorrow morning either.

        Uncertainty is all around us, yes. If you want to live any kind of life at all in this world, then you have to accept risks. I’m sure there is some kind of small probability that my computer could kill me right now via a chemical explosion in the battery, but if I want to continue earning my paycheck today, I need to get over it.

        “Uncertainty”, is not a good enough reason to predict global catastrophe. The human race has had a long history of overcoming difficult challenges and thriving despite great tragedy. “Uncertainty” is not enough to convince me that a catastrophe is likely, and even a “catastrophe” is not enough to convince me that human beings will not be able to cope, should it actually happen.

      • tmac57 says:

        Suppose that astrophysicists detected an asteroid on a possible collision course with the earth,with a 50% chance of collision in 30 years from now,but the mass of it was sufficient to cause massive global harm,maybe mass extinction.
        Should we act,even if it would cost a considerable fortune,or should we wait a few decades to be absolutely sure? How about if the solution to it also had a coincidental benefit to the world that helped justify the costs?
        How about if you could only reduce uncertainty to the point that they were 80% sure…70%…60%?

      • Miles says:

        Suppose that astrophysicists detected an asteroid on a possible collision course with the earth,with a 50% chance of collision in 30 years from now,but the mass of it was sufficient to cause massive global harm,maybe mass extinction.
        Should we act,even if it would cost a considerable fortune,or should we wait a few decades to be absolutely sure? How about if the solution to it also had a coincidental benefit to the world that helped justify the costs?
        How about if you could only reduce uncertainty to the point that they were 80% sure…70%…60%?

        I assume that you are asking for my cost-benefit opinion about this hypothetical scenario, and that you are not asking me to make a scientific statement about the correct course of action.

        Given the odds that you describe, and if I believed that those odds were convincing and that we are pretty good about making such predictions, then I would be willing to pay quite a high price to “act”, if I thought those actions might actually avoid a disaster. I want to emphasize the part about finding those odds convincing, because the more extreme of a scenario we are dealing with, the more careful I want to be about how I “play the odds”.

        In short, the higher the price I’m going to have to pay for a benefit increases the amount of evidence that I want beforehand that I would be getting my money’s worth.

      • Max says:

        When you predict the chance of a future event, it makes no sense to say how confident you are in your probability estimate, because the probability estimate IS your confidence. What’s the difference between being 10% sure that an asteroid has a 90% chance of hitting the Earth, and being 90% sure that it has a 10% chance of hitting the Earth? The asteroid’s path is predetermined; all the uncertainty is on your end.

      • tmac57 says:

        Huh…that’s weird,Mile’s comment that I replied to disappeared,now my reply (the 3 points one)looks like a non sequitur.Oh well.

      • Miles says:

        I still see it, tmac. And I won’t be accusing you of a non sequitur. I think I acknowledged the validity of each of your points.

      • Somite says:

        Miles: You do believe in vaccination right?

      • Miles says:

        Uh, yeah, I guess I “believe” in vaccination. I think vaccinations work, and I do not believe that vaccinations cause Autism, if that is what you mean.

      • Somite says:

        Well…science discovered and manufactures vaccines and makes recommendations on how to use them. Many laws enforced by the government regulate vaccine use and administration to individuals.

        So…

      • Miles says:

        Well…science discovered and manufactures vaccines and makes recommendations on how to use them. Many laws enforced by the government regulate vaccine use and administration to individuals.
        So…

        So…..

        …go ahead Somite, I’m still waiting. I’m not gonna make your non sequiturs for you, you do that just fine on your own. So you go ahead and tell me what logically follows from the fact that regulations exist for vaccines, and if it turns out to be the non sequitur that I suspect it will be, I’ll respond with why it’s wrong.

      • Somite says:

        That’s alright. I’m sure everyone else does.

      • Markx says:

        Somite, I can’t see that vaccination has much to do with this.

        Vaccination was on pretty solid ground as soon as Jenner put his cowpox theory to the test in 1796 with a natural smallpox challenge. The evidence was pretty clear right then and there.

        Interestingly, I just read that there was some knowledge of this protective immunity from cowpox going back as far as 1765 (”…a Dr Fewster published a paper in the London Medical Society entitled “Cow pox and its ability to prevent smallpox” but did not pursue it further).

      • Somite says:

        There is as much evidence of anthropogenic climate change with clearly detectable increases in greenhouse gases as there is of the effectiveness of vaccination. There is as much a regulatory background and industry behind vaccinations as that proposed for preventing excessive climate change.

        Yet you like one and not the other.

      • Miles says:

        There is as much evidence of anthropogenic climate change with clearly detectable increases in greenhouse gases as there is of the effectiveness of vaccination. There is as much a regulatory background and industry behind vaccinations as that proposed for preventing excessive climate change.
        Yet you like one and not the other.

        And there is the non sequitur that I had a feeling you were going to make. Actually, there are several in here.

        First off, I’ll re-iterate yet again, that I do not deny AGW. I’ve stated that here plainly several times. The reasons that you give (because there was a lot of evidence for vaccination being effective) for why I should believe that AGW is real are not valid reasons. But I don’t see the point anyway, because I have been very clear in stating that I do not deny AGW in the first place.

        The second part of your comment is exactly the logical fallacy that I thought you were going for. Let’s revisit:

        There is as much a regulatory background and industry behind vaccinations as that proposed for preventing excessive climate change.
        Yet you like one and not the other.

        1) How many government regulations exist to regulate vaccines has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I accept that vaccines are effective.
        2) Just because I think that vaccines are effective, it does not logically follow that I think government vaccine regulation is good or bad.
        3) Whether or not I think regulations for vaccines are good or bad, has nothing to do with whether or not I think regulations for CO2 emissions are good or bad. That would be the equivalent of saying, that if you think one regulation is good, then you must think all regulations are good. This is a logical fallacy.

  37. d brown says:

    FOX NEWS SAID; FOXNews.com – Scientists: ExxonMobil Paid Groups to Mislead Public on Global Warming – Business And Money | Business News | Financial NewsWe
    Report.

    Scientists: ExxonMobil Paid Groups to Mislead Public on Global Warming
    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    WASHINGTON — ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups
    between 1998 and 2005 in a coordinated effort to mislead the public by
    discrediting the science behind global warming, the Union of Concerned
    Scientists asserted Wednesday.
    The report by the science-based nonprofit advocacy group mirrors similar claims
    by Britain’s leading scientific academy. Last September, The Royal Society wrote
    the oil company asking it to halt support for groups that “misrepresented the
    science of climate change.”
    ExxonMobil did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the scientific
    advocacy group’s report.
    Many scientists say accumulating carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases
    from tailpipes and smokestacks are warming the atmosphere like a greenhouse,
    melting Arctic sea ice, alpine glaciers and disturbing the lives of animals and
    plants.
    ExxonMobil lists on its Web site nearly $133 million in 2005 contributions
    globally, including $6.8 million for “public information and policy research”
    distributed to more than 140 think-tanks, universities, foundations,
    associations and other groups. Some of those have publicly disputed the link
    between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

    But in September, the company said in response to the Royal Society that it
    funded groups which research “significant policy issues and promote informed
    discussion on issues of direct relevance to the company.” It said the groups do
    not speak for the company.
    Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ strategy and policy director,
    said in a teleconference that ExxonMobil based its tactics on those of tobacco
    companies, spreading uncertainty by misrepresenting peer-reviewed scientific
    studies or cherry-picking facts.
    Dr. James McCarthy, a professor at Harvard University, said the company has
    sought to “create the illusion of a vigorous debate” about global warming.

  38. d brown says:

    It later turned out that many of the Scientists the ExxonMobil used, said they never said the things the ExxonMobil’s PR people said they did. Others said they had always believed there was GW and still others said they now believed in it. But you know they are all lying like all the rest, right?

  39. d brown says:

    Bush aide who doctored global warming documents joins ExxonMobil
    By Joseph Kay
    18 June 2005

    A Bush aide who reportedly altered government climate reports to favor the
    interests of the oil industry has resigned from the administration to take a job at ExxonMobil, the world’s largest energy company and most fervent opponent of carbon emissions regulations. For the aide, Philip Cooney, the move completes a cycle in which he has served the interests of the oil giants both in and out of government.
    The New York Times reported June 8 that, during his tenure as chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Cooney repeatedly altered government scientific reports to deemphasize the link between carbon emissions and global warming, and cast doubt on the science of climate change.
    The newspaper obtained the internal government documents from the Government Accountability Project, which is representing Rick Piltz, a former associate at the federal Climate Change Science Program that
    coordinates government research on global warming and related issues.Piltz’s office issued the documents that were later altered by Cooney.
    One example of Cooney’s changes cited by the Times comes from an October 2002 draft entitled “Our Changing Planet.” The draft originally read,
    “Many scientific observations indicate that the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change.” This was modified to read, “Many scientific observations point to the conclusion that the Earth may be
    undergoing a period of relatively rapid change.”Many of the changes were of a similar character—subtle rewordings that
    cast greater doubt on the conclusiveness of scientific understandings of climate change. On one occasion, he deleted a paragraph describing projected effects of global warming on glacial melting, on the grounds that the paragraph strayed “into speculative musings/findings.”
    Cooney has no scientific training. Before taking the post of chief of staff at the CEQ, he worked as a lawyer and lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, the main oil industry lobbying group, which is heavily funded by Exxon. The API has worked consistently to promote doubts about the validity of climate change research and has opposed legislation that would require the energy industry to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
    This is not the first exposure of the CEQ’s efforts to tone down
    government reports on climate change.

    • Somite says:

      The misinformation campaign that preys on people like Miles and Markx is well documented in the book “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes. Not only the strategy is the same as that used by tobacco companies, recruit scientists to generate “research”, think tanks, etc, also many of the same individuals managed the campaign.

  40. tmac57 says:

    Measured CO2 variations with time and latitude, 1979 to 2006, showing positions of monitoring stations as well as zoomed data from Siple Ice Core (Antarctica) Animation courtesy of Andy Jacobson and the team at NOAA ESRL.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7jvP7BqVi4

  41. Somite says:

    SMBC gets it right regarding Internet discussions on any topic. In this case unless we are climatologists we have been discussing on the slopes of mount stupid.

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2475

  42. Markx says:

    We either have a lying conniving bunch of political and financial manipulators behind the scenes lying about the risk of AGW with the aim of enriching themselves,

    Or

    We either have a lying conniving bunch of political and financial manipulators behind the scenes telling the truth about the risk of AGW with the aim of enriching themselves.

    Both situations explain to me the frantic haste we are seeing.

    (Yeah, you guys are nowhere near paranoid enough; you need to hang around me a bit longer)

  43. Markx says:

    My position is a bit clearer than that of Miles. My opinion:

    We either have a lying conniving bunch of political and financial manipulators behind the scenes lying about the risk of AGW with the aim of enriching themselves,

    Or

    We either have a lying conniving bunch of political and financial manipulators behind the scenes telling the truth about the risk of AGW with the aim of enriching themselves.

    Both situations explain to me the frantic haste we are seeing.

    (Yeah, you guys are nowhere near paranoid enough; you need to hang around me a bit longer)

    • tmac57 says:

      Can I assume that you realize that SOME of the “…lying conniving bunch of political and financial manipulators behind the scenes lying about the risk of AGW” are in the ‘denier’ camp…or am I misreading you?

    • Somite says:

      Yeah. The climatologist chamber of research just gave 20 million dollars to several congressmen..

      • Markx says:

        Not sure who the climatologist chamber of research is, but you bring up a good point.

        Don’t you guys ever get worried by that cash driven, funding allocating, influence peddling, horse trading deal making system you call a democracy?

        (Please don’t take that too hard, I’ll agree in advance that most systems have similar problems, but I am amused at our arrogant criticisms of some third world corruption. (although, Africa is astonishing in its leaders’ blatant looting of aid and resources).)

      • tmac57 says:

        Don’t you guys ever get worried by that cash driven, funding allocating, influence peddling, horse trading deal making system you call a democracy?

        I sure do! They have managed to convince much of an unsuspecting public that AGW is a scam,instead of the proven fact that it is.Good job guys!

  44. Markx says:

    Look, what you have here is a marketing problem. Somebody decided the best way to get the message across to the masses was to drop lots of “we are all doomed” stories into the news.
    Based on the “Karl Rove” premise of if you repeat something often enough, whether it is true or not, it will eventually be seen as a fact. (and that comment is not meant to reflect on the truth or otherwise in this particular matter).

    But, following the debacle of the “truth” about reasons to go into Iraq and Afghanistan, (believed by 90% of the US public?) the first thing people think now when they see a news report is “Is this correct, or is Karl Rove up to something again?” (yeah, I’m kidding! … a bit…)

    But really, when we see a story detailing extreme weather, it tends to activate some historical memories, and we naturally go looking to see if it IS extreme. And, with ready access to the internet, we often find it is not. The whole approach has become counterproductive.

    This all needs to be eased back a bit. Greenland ice won’t disappear in the next few hundred years, half a meter of sea rise over 100 years won’t wipe out civilizations (although the USA would lose an area of land, including current wetlands, of approximately 100 x 100 miles!), and under the worst case scenario, Antarctica cannot melt in many, many thousands of years.

    Keep doing the science (yeah, I know, but it’s settled!), and keep discussing. As has been said before “These truths (should soon become) self evident”. Another round of dramatic warming and weather change would pretty well clinch it for most. Then you have still got sixty years to really start fixing it!

    Then instead of dealing with a UN 1.6 trillion dollar socialist redistribution wish list, a World Bank backed carbon trading enrichment scheme, and government agencies which are developing more political and financial clout and more ability to direct the economy than the government (eg, the EPA)…

    If the science it’s correct, and this becomes self-evident, the world can focus ALL of its resources on real, practical solutions to known and obvious problems.

      • tmac57 says:

        Ha ha… I should have checked before I submitted! But I guess you would find your own comments more palatable ;)

        Here is the link that I intended:

        http://www.viddler.com/explore/heartland/videos/369/

        Uploaded by the Heartland Institute no less.

      • Markx says:

        Yep, I like the first link!

        But more seriously (the real link): That IS a VERY good video, and Denning is an excellent speaker.

        Putting my marketing hat on, THAT is how they should ‘sell’ the issue, all this drama about extreme weather adn doom etc just creates drama.

        Off topic a little, (but because it is another hobby horse of mine) that is a remarkable fact in there that biomass is now rapidly increasing on earth. Something I’ve always said, …. It is a pretty damn easy thing to grow a forest if you want to do it!

      • Miles says:

        Great talk by Scott Denning in that video. Thanks for sharing tmac.

        A few thoughts:

        Discouraging climatologists such as Spencer from the work they are doing isn’t going to help either. Discouraging others from listening to their information and their arguments is not going to do anything to “solve” a perceived climate threat. Sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “DENIER!” anytime someone questions the general wisdom of the crowd (I’m looking at you Somite) is not going to persuade those people of your point of view and will certainly lead to more wasted energy.

        “Stop wasting your time, and go find solutions!” is an interesting message, but it’s not that simple I’m afraid. This message suggests that folks like Markx and myself are doing the world harm when we argue about details with you guys, instead of inventing new technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The fact is that different people are good at different things, and the value that they can contribute to others can’t be dictated to them like this.

        Think about this for a second. Should we be telling Tiger Woods that he is wasting his time with golf, and that he should be in the lab instead, coming up with CO2 solutions?

        What about other problems? Should we be telling cancer researchers that they are wasting their time, and they need to be working on CO2? Of course not. Scott Denning certainly is not advocating this, but the general tone and attitude at the end of his speech certainly implies that if you are doing anything other than thinking about how to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, you are wasting your time and turning your back on the human race.

        A quick note on “solutions”. This is a common theme of what economist Thomas Sowell calls “the unconstrained vision”. It is a common underlying difference between the left and the right (but not always). The idea is that left seeks to deal with problems with “solutions”, while the right prefers to think in terms of “trade-offs”. Again, Sowell doesn’t claim this to be some kind of universal rule, but simply sees it as a common difference between the two sides in many different kinds of debates.

        The left seeks to “solve world hunger”, “cure disease”, “eradicate poverty”, and “solve climate change”. The right tends to think that these problems cannot be “solved”, so instead seeks to “maximize prosperity”, “maximize medical innovation”, and allow the free market innovate cleaner energy sources.

        This is how it is “supposed” to go anyway. The Right has certainly been a big let down over the last 20+ years, and has been spending more of their time destroying our civil liberties than allowing the free market to operate. But I digress…

        I applaud Denning’s recognition that the government isn’t going to “solve” climate change. But I’m not so sure that the free market can “solve” it either. I think it more likely that we are going to get some trade-offs. The earth is going to get slightly warmer, there will be some negative consequences of this, and humans will adapt along the way but continue to grow and prosper despite the warming trend. I know that’s not very satisfying, but I just see it as being more realistic.

        For another summary of climate change that I think represents my view quite well, see Brian Dunning’s 2007 Skeptoid podcast “Heating Up on Global Warming”. Whenever I try to include the URL, my post gets rejected for some reason, so just go to the Skeptoid website and find the episode guide if you want to check it out.

      • Canman says:

        I also think the Denning Video was great, but I think conservatives have more to say about low carbon energy by supporting natural gas and nuclear power. The greenies, with their religious like devotion to solar and wind ignore not only cost, but other effects. Matt Ridley really kicks wind power’s ass:

        http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/gas-against-wind

      • Somite says:

        A glaring omission is carbon footprint. Oil and gas are uncompetitive with solar and wind if greenhouse gas emission is considered.

        In a decade solar will be cheaper than gas, oil or nuclear regardless.

        It is so short term that Germany decided they would abandon nuclear altogether

        http://www.grist.org/#/list/2011-11-03-solar-cheaper-than-fossil-fuels-in-a-decade-says-steven-chu

      • Miles says:

        A glaring omission is carbon footprint. Oil and gas are uncompetitive with solar and wind if greenhouse gas emission is considered.

        Somite,

        He didn’t rate them on “carbon footprint” because it would be silly to do so. If carbon footprint were the determining factor of a good energy alternative, then we may as well go back to steam engines.

        Any energy source has to be efficient enough to meet the demands of how much energy we consume. An energy source with zero carbon footprint and very poor energy efficiency is not a viable alternative.

      • Somite says:

        Unless carbon emission causes irreparable damage. Then it matters.

      • Miles says:

        Unless carbon emission causes irreparable damage. Then it matters.

        I encourage you to think about the issue a bit more deeply, Somite. The question you are asking isn’t going to be particularly illuminating.

        Carbon emission surely causes damage. So does wind, so does solar. There are costs to everything. Human beings cannot exist on this planet without causing some kind of damage.

        The question you should be asking yourself is “What option is going to best maximize human well-being?”

        Again, Somite, this is a cost-benefit question, not a science question. What are the costs and what are the benefits. Not “what causes damage and what doesn’t”.

        Oh and tmac, here is a libertarian at the OWS event doing what you were advocating before, trying to persuade people to move in the right direction environmentally. It’s entertaining if nothing else:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRN9Pd8MI-4

      • Somite says:

        Why do you think oil is less adverse that solar and wind. Even without including spills and other disasters it seems to me the reverse is true.

      • Miles says:

        Why do you think oil is less adverse that solar and wind. Even without including spills and other disasters it seems to me the reverse is true.

        Because solar and wind cannot provide the amount of power that we need for civilization, Somite.

        When I say it is a matter of cost-benefit, that does not mean that one solution is only costs, and the other is only benefits. It means that anything we do will have both costs and benefits.

        Solar and wind cannot yet provide cheap energy to the 7 billion people on this planet who need it. If that changes, then my opinion will change.

        Risking occasional oil spills, where a small amount of wildlife dies and it takes a few months for humans to clean it up, isn’t good, but it’s a much better alternative to clearing out the vast amounts of land that we would need to destroy, in order to build enough windmills and solar panels to power our cities. And the cost of using that energy would be so high, that many people around the world would not be able to afford enough of it for basic things like clean water, heat, sewage disposal, transportation, etc.

        So no, I do not think it is a good trade-off that we condemn potentially millions of humans to freeze to death or die from drinking dirty water, when the upside is zero carbon emissions and no “oil spills”.

        If solar and wind somehow gets vastly more efficient and cheap, then sure, I’m on board. But the only alternative energy sources to fossil fuels that we currently have the technology to harness, which could provide us with the amount of energy we need at a price to make it available to people much poorer than those of us in first world economies, are natural gas and nuclear. And those still might be too expensive for those in the third world.

        Natural gas and nuclear have downsides just like any source of energy. But they are much cleaner than oil and coal, don’t require nearly as much destruction of land as wind and solar, and can actually produce the large amounts of energy that we rely on to make life good for humans.

      • Somite says:

        That tabloid known as Scientific American disagrees with you:

        “Wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels.

        Supplies of wind and solar energy on accessible land dwarf the energy consumed by people around the globe.

        The authors’ plan calls for 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants, and numerous geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations worldwide.

        The cost of generating and transmitting power would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power.

        Shortages of a few specialty materials, along with lack of political will, loom as the greatest obstacles.”

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030

      • tmac57 says:

        Miles,I watched the video with Alex Epstein. What struck me,was that it was a very poorly matched ‘debate’ since he was challenging an obviously ill informed protester. How do you think he would have fared against John Cook,or any of the highly informed people who run Skeptical Science blog? I’m guessing that he woulddn’t have posted THAT one on YouTube ;)
        Hey guys!Remember the time I beat the crap out of that papaplegic guy…man…I was awesome that day!!!

      • Miles says:

        That tabloid known as Scientific American disagrees with you:

        There are many who disagree with me. But one thing I’ve always been an advocate of, since the very beginning, is allowing open competition in energy markets so that we can really see what works and what doesn’t.

        Let’s advocate that the government step back, and let this natural experiment take place. Let’s advocate to end all energy subsidies, dismantle the EPA, throw all all regulations that aren’t absolutely justified, and create a free market where every entrepreneur is on even footing with all the others.

        Then let’s the market decide which is better, cleaner, cheaper, safer, etc. Then we can truly find out which technologies server their customers better.

        Would you agree to that?

      • Miles says:

        Miles,I watched the video with Alex Epstein. What struck me,was that it was a very poorly matched ‘debate’ since he was challenging an obviously ill informed protester. How do you think he would have fared against John Cook,or any of the highly informed people who run Skeptical Science blog? I’m guessing that he woulddn’t have posted THAT one on YouTube ;)
        Hey guys!Remember the time I beat the crap out of that papaplegic guy…man…I was awesome that day!!!

        tmac, I don’t understand. In your other comment you said:

        One thing that I would like for people like yourself and Markx to do,is to challenge the ‘deniers’ and misinformed openly.And by deniers,I mean the ones who you can obviously see using discredited,fallacious,ad hominem,and generally intellectually dishonest arguments.

        Wouldn’t the woman in that YouTube video qualify as someone who is using discredited, fallacious, ad hominem, and generally intellectually dishonest arguments? She’s not a libertarian, but she still fits your description, right?

      • tmac57 says:

        Miles,I’m not arguing that she shouldn’t have been challenged on her faulty reasoning,for that she was fair game.
        My observation,was that Alex chose an easy target to make his points, on why it’s OK to continue using fossil fuels,instead of transitioning to carbon neutral energy.
        It really amounted to a ‘strawman argument’ in my opinion,because she was not the person with the best arguments and facts to debate with,and put on YouTube to show; “Hey look how smart I am,and what a bunch of dummies they are on the other side of this debate!”
        Like I said she was fair game,for debunking,but it doesn’t support his argument, because there is a much more sophisticated,nuanced,factual,and scientific case to be argued for the other side.
        He just proved that he could shoot some fish in a barrel,that’s all.Nothing to be proud of.

      • Canman says:

        There’s a lot of other factors with solar besides the cost of the solar cells — not the least of which is that the sun doesn’t shine all the time. What’s all that sunshine hitting PV cells and reflecters not going to be shining on?

        I wonder if a better use for sunlight might be bioengineered, oil spewing algee. Mabe nanotechnology can improve on that.

        Of course you can cover a bunch of desert with solar cells. But even if you can make the PV cells for nearly nothing, you still probably need platforms to keep the scorpians off. You’ll probably have to periodically clean off the dust, rattlesnake skin and vulture poop. They’ll have to be wired together. Are the mice going to chew it up and make nests out of it?

      • Miles says:

        Like I said she was fair game,for debunking,but it doesn’t support his argument, because there is a much more sophisticated,nuanced,factual,and scientific case to be argued for the other side.
        He just proved that he could shoot some fish in a barrel,that’s all.Nothing to be proud of.

        tmac, I think you might be misunderstanding my motivation for posting the link. I posted the link, because I had the sense that you were concerned that libertarians don’t spend much time debunking ideas that are obviously bad, but instead spend time arguing with people like yourself, who have good arguments. I was not posting the video because I thought Alex was being challenged by someone knowledgeable about the subject matter, but quite the opposite.

        As for the suggestion that Alex was feeling good about himself because he shot some “fish in a barrel”, that may be true, I don’t know. I don’t know Alex personally and certainly can’t claim to know what is going on in his mind. But after watching the other videos on his channel, I don’t get the sense that those were his motivations. This video was part of a series that he did, where he traveled to various occupy movements around the United States, talking to people about why they are protesting, and trying to persuade them that their concerns are misplaced. He does have a video where he has a more serious debate on energy with a representative from Greenpeace on his channel, if your looking for something more substantial. I understand that someone from Greenpeace isn’t likely to present the best challenge to Alex’s views, but I think Alex is simply trying to promote himself and engage in whatever debates he can set up, considering he isn’t exactly a household name. Alex strikes me as the type of person to be up for it, but arranging a debate with someone like John Cook might be a bit outside of Alex’s sphere of influence.

      • Canman says:

        I read the Scientific American article and thought it was pretty insipid. I read a few of the comments and most of them agreed with me. I think Michael Shermer should be embarassed to see it in the same magazine as his column.

        As an example, take hydrogen fuel cells for transportation. This used to seem like a pretty good idea to me. Hydrogen, a high density fuel whose exaust product is water. Used in the Apollo moon missions for electricity and in the cryogenic rocket engines. Made me feel pretty smart! Then I read a column by engineer Patrick Bedard in Car and Driver magazine with a title something like “Hydrogen, cleanest of all energy myths”. It was just devastating and I can’t find it online. But he does cover most of the material in another column:

        http://www.caranddriver.com/columns/the-case-for-nuke-cars-its-called-hydrogen

    • Somite says:

      The science is correct and solutions like conservation and renewables are perfectly practical. You just don’t like them because they would require cooperation and a minimal adjustment rather than plunder.

      • Markx says:

        No, it’s plunder I’m against.

      • Somite says:

        By the way, none of this is true:

        “Then instead of dealing with a UN 1.6 trillion dollar socialist redistribution wish list, a World Bank backed carbon trading enrichment scheme, and government agencies which are developing more political and financial clout and more ability to direct the economy than the government (eg, the EPA)…”

        How is that any better of worse than oil companies and the wars we wage to support them?

      • Markx says:

        We may have to agree to disagree on the first paragraph.

        Good point re the second one, which is one of the larger problems in the world today.

        (just placed this in context)

      • Markx says:

        Somite, you may want to read this one:

        http://pjmedia.com/blog/support-the-sacketts-epa-suit-goes-to-supreme-court/?singlepage=true

        This is a line-in-the-sand case. The EPA, a wholly unconstitutional organ of the federal government, is now asserting arbitrary and unreviewable power over private property in the absence of (any) justification. (from comments)

        ….because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones? Bob Dylan ….. and no, I don’t know either….

      • tmac57 says:

        Markx,since you are a free market proponent,what do you think about the paradoxical situation that because fossil fuels remain the cheaper energy source,that if the situation is left to market forces only, to deal with the CO2 problem,there is less market incentive to stop using FF than to use them all up(which would indeed lead to a catastrophe)? Should we rationally put a price on carbon to represent the external harm that goes with using it,and if so how should that be done to accommodate the ideals of the free market?

      • Markx says:

        I am not a free market proponent in the sense that many right wingers see the term (ie ‘the market will regulate itself’ is plainly wishful thinking, and markets only operate correctly with some defining rules.)

        But, ‘relatively free’ markets are what makes our whole system work.

        I believe a carbon tax, or similar, could be made workable, but, for instance, can’t see why carbon credit schemes would require the creation of complicated derivative instruments, as the market would be gigantic in itself and have plenty of fluidity to set real prices.

        But who should administer either? Hopefully not the UN. (money, deals, other agendas, corruption etc)

        Hasten slowly.

        McKitrick’s T3 tax sound intriguing – effectively a tax on temperature – to satisfy everyone. As the temperature goes up, the tax increases, if it goes down, the tax decreases. Not sure how it would be administered or distribute, but who would argue against it? Everyone would think they were on a winner.

        http://maint.ssrn.com/?abstract_id=1154157 His T3 summary is here, but site is down at the moment.

      • Miles says:

        Markx,since you are a free market proponent,what do you think about the paradoxical situation that because fossil fuels remain the cheaper energy source,that if the situation is left to market forces only, to deal with the CO2 problem,there is less market incentive to stop using FF than to use them all up(which would indeed lead to a catastrophe)? Should we rationally put a price on carbon to represent the external harm that goes with using it,and if so how should that be done to accommodate the ideals of the free market?

        This is a FANTASTIC question tmac, and I would love to get in on this, even though you were asking Markx instead of myself. This is a question that I think every free-market guy like myself should spend some time thinking about, and one to which there is no easy answer.

        Since I’m a free-market guy, and more of my academic knowledge is in economics, I’m going to frame this as an “economics” question, which I think is appropriate anyway.

        What you describe is a situation that economists call a “negative externality”. It’s one of a handful of different kinds of “market failures”. Now, a “market failure” in economics doesn’t mean what a “market failure” means to the general public, so keep that in mind. It’s kind of like how the general public tends to misunderstand the meaning of what a “theory” is in science, when they say “evolution is only a theory”.

        Anyway, negative externalities like pollution (pollution is by far the most common negative externality by the way) is something that is very difficult for markets to solve on their own. But the reasons are not quite the same as the ones you mention in your example tmac.

        The reason is not because the business creating the pollution is going to go with the cheapest method (I’ll talk about that later), but because the business responsible for the pollution doesn’t directly pay the cost of that pollution. The cost is paid by everyone, which is creates an equilibrium problem.

        In this case, the standard answer is….(drum roll please)….: government regulation! Yes, if the costs of a negative externality is high, it might be worth it to accept the inherent problems with government control and impose such controls anyway.

        BUT…(you just knew there was a but coming, didn’t you tmac?)…before we go drinking dirty water and accepting that we are going to get sick if we want to survive, we need to make sure that drinking the dirty water is really necessary in the first place. Hopefully that analogy made sense.

        In the case of the energy industry, there is already a LOT of government control. In fact, it is one of the most heavily regulated industries not only in the United States, but all over the world. Some nations go so far as to completely annex their energy industries. To claim that the free market is failing, and we need more government regulations in the energy industry, doesn’t make sense when markets haven’t really been able to operate freely in the first place.

        One of my suspicions is that absent government interference, nuclear power would be a much more attractive (and cleaner) alternative for most of the big energy companies. But government policy has stopped energy companies from being allowed to build nuclear plants.

        Further, a free market in energy would likely result in some people at least trying to make smaller-scale energy businesses viable. We might see many small businesses attempt to provide cleaner energy on a much smaller scale to local customers. But the crony-capitalistic way in which energy company lobbyists have their hooks in government regulators pretty much denies smaller companies entry into the market period.

        IF we did try free energy markets and those markets failed to provide us with cleaner energy alternatives than what we have now, then I would be in favor of government regulations.

        I have a TON more to say on this topic, but this comment is getting pretty long so I’m gonna end it here and give others a chance to weigh in.

      • tmac57 says:

        Thanks Markx and Miles for your comments.It looks like there is a lot of work ahead to reach a practical and politically feasible solution to the CO2 problem.Currently,the biggest obstacle is getting everyone on board that there even IS a problem.
        Miles,about your comments about Scott Denning’s
        “Stop wasting your time, and go find solutions!”
        statement.One thing that I would like for people like yourself and Markx to do,is to challenge the ‘deniers’ and misinformed openly.And by deniers,I mean the ones who you can obviously see using discredited,fallacious,ad hominem,and generally intellectually dishonest arguments.I don’t know if you already do this or not,but I see precious little of if coming from that side of the debate.Usually,no matter what ridiculous statement is made,even if it contradicts other contrarian positions,it is allowed to go unchallenged except by those who accept AGW already.That is just dishonest.
        Another thing that should be happening is for conservative and libertarian voters who accept that AGW is happening on at least some scale,and who think that the climate scientists are doing their best to sort the facts out,send an unequivocal message to their politicians who represent them,that they need to get on board with accepting reality,and quit playing this dangerous game of politics with our future.

      • Miles says:

        ‘the market will regulate itself’ is plainly wishful thinking

        Here is an area where I disagree with Markx. Forget about this view that markets are some kind of noun than then supposedly engages in the verb of self-regulation. This is a misunderstanding of what a market is.

        Instead, markets are regulations. Markets in themselves are inherently constraints upon human activity. That’s part of what a market is. The very definition of a market includes constraints on human activity.

        They are not constraints that are invented by human beings, true. But they are constraints nevertheless, which occur naturally as human beings interact with each other.

        Constraints on human activity can come from a handful of different sources. They can come from human beings themselves (governments, dictators, monarchs, etc.), they can come from the natural world (physics, chemistry, etc.), or they can come from the social environment that naturally emerges from human beings interacting with each other (markets).

        All three of those things are “regulations”. The government restrains you from putting chemicals into your body that it deems inappropriate, the natural world restrains you from traveling faster than light, and the market restrains you from opening a pizza shop in New York City and charging customers $10,000 per slice.

        To say that a market can’t regulate itself is to misunderstand what a market is in the first place.

        One of the reasons that free-market guys like markets so much and don’t like government regulations, is because we don’t like the very thing that progressives often accuse us of: self-interested greed that harms others.

        When a human being invents constraints for everyone else to follow, it comes with all of the trappings and problems of being human: self-interest, greed, picking favorites, corruption, etc. Hence we get situations where big business is able to use government as a tool to keep small businesses from competing with them.

        When markets place constraints on human activity, it’s much more difficult for any single human being to impose their constraints on others.

        Try asking a hiring manager sometime whether or not they can simply offer any salary they want when they hire people. No matter how big the company is, whether it’s Wal-Mart, GM, or whatever big company you particularly hate, the answer will be “no”. They are constrained, not by a single human being or group of human beings, but by the entire market, and they are powerless to do anything about it.

        Apple can’t simply say “oh, let’s hire a new programmer and pay them $1/hour. They will have to accept those terms, because we are Apple and we have a lot of market-share”. It doesn’t work that way.

        When markets constrain human activity, those constraints are much less likely to be the result of some corruption or special interest than when governments constrain human activity.

        Free-market guys don’t like markets because they give “corporations” more control. We like them because they give corporations less control. It is much easier for corporations to influence and corrupt government than it is for them to corrupt the market. Why else do you think they spend so much money lobbying and financially supporting politicians?

      • Miles says:

        One thing that I would like for people like yourself and Markx to do,is to challenge the ‘deniers’ and misinformed openly.And by deniers,I mean the ones who you can obviously see using discredited,fallacious,ad hominem,and generally intellectually dishonest arguments.

        I agree with this 100x over tmac! I used to have a YouTube channel in which I argued with Objectivists (the philosophy of Ayn Rand), on the things that I think they are dead wrong about. Objectivists and Libertarians sometimes get lumped into the same category, but I wanted to criticize them from a perspective they are not used to. That was an interesting experiment.

        I would certainly be interested in doing the same with climate change. It is only within the last month or so that I have refreshed my education on how climate works, and I’d say I have a fairly decent high-school level understanding of climate and weather.

        I’ve been thinking about running my own blog for the purposes that you mention tmac. I purchased “libertynerd.com” a few months ago, and I have a backlog of things to write about. But honestly, I’ll just be one more drop in the sea of opinions, so I’m still on the fence about whether or not that would be worth the energy. My girlfriend is a professional editor, so that would help. But when I honestly ask myself “why would anyone care what I think?”, I don’t have a good answer to that. If the only value in doing that would be “therapeutic”, then I’m not interested. That’s what Skyrim is for. ;)

        But you certainly have every right to criticize me about that, tmac. Undoubtedly, my biases mean that I’m more motivated to argue with conservatives and progressives than I am with other libertarians. But maybe that is exactly the kind of gap that is waiting to be filled by someone like me.

      • Markx says:

        Perhaps a quick clarification of my thinking… re markets..(Sorry we are going OT here – )

        “‘the market will regulate itself’ is plainly wishful thinking, but the market will regulate itself sufficiently within a set of well thought out laws

        …. I live and work in a 3rd world (or more correctly, developing) country, where the unemployment rate is officially 8%, but in reality is probably 20% or more.

        Wages are low by 1st world standards but are strictly regulated by law. I’m not sure anyone would like the result, or that anyone would benefit, if the ‘free market’ was allowed to operate in this matter.

      • Miles says:

        Ah yes, I agree Markx. Free markets don’t mean squat if you don’t have the rule of law. Private property rights need to be protected and well-defined before markets can be of much use. It can be easy for me to take those things for granted, since I’ve never experienced life in any other kind of environment.

        Do you mind sharing a little about where you live and work, Markx?

      • Markx says:

        Miles, I am in Indonesia –

        Incidently I am about 100km/70 miles north of the equator….. and with the current NE Monsoon season, with all that humidity and overcast days, the daily temperature maximum sometimes has been as low as 26 C instead of the usual 32 C !

  45. Markx says:

    We may have to agree to disagree on the first paragraph.

    Good point re the second one, which is one of the larger problems in the world today.

  46. d brown says:

    Adam smith believed in Free markets and government regulation. that last part is overlooked now days. and the R/W will not believe that. they only know what they are told,. they never go back and see what was dome and said. Only what some one says happened.

  47. d brown says:

    The simplest may be the best. I think a test Solar thermal plant was made out of a black pond filled with salt water in the desert. The sun heated the salt water to well past boiling and a heat exchanger pulled the heat into a steam turbine. The mass of water was storage and could, I,think, be used as power storage from other ways of making energy that is not used at that time. Size matters.

    • Markx says:

      True! I have a friend in Australia who is very enthusiastic about solar gradient ponds! Sounds marvellous for hot areas.

      Website here:

      Enersalt

      coupla snippets:

      Heat: A solar pond of 0.7 hectare would cost approximately $220,000 to $300,000 AUD, depending on availability of earthmoving machinery and cost of salt.

      If it was located in Riverland SA (or a similar climate) it could produce 90kW of hot water- eg a flow rate of 7 litre /second of water at 65 degree C – 24 hours per day (that is 2150 kWhrs per day). If you have a need for heat then that’s as far as you go – this will cost about 2c/ kWh ….

      Electricity: Rankine engines are not highly efficient, but there is a huge reserve of low cost heat in a solar pond. A small pond like the one above will run a 25kWe generator – enough electrical power for about 15 houses – or a small industry.

      The generator system (Rankine engine and alternator) will cost around $180,000 and about $10,000 a year for

      maintenance

  48. Markx says:

    Trying to leave this alone, but just had to add this – as is quite relevant to the topic of the original article.

    Maue, GRL

    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 38, L14803, 6 PP., 2011
    doi:10.1029/2011GL047711

    Recent historically low global tropical cyclone activity
    Ryan N. Maue

    Center for Ocean and Atmosphere Studies, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA

    1.In the past 5-years, global tropical cyclone activity has decreased markedly
    2.Tropical cyclone ACE is modulated by ENSO and PDO on a global scale
    3.Heightened North Atlantic hurricane activity is not unexpected

    Tropical cyclone accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) has exhibited strikingly large global interannual variability during the past 40-years.

    In the pentad since 2006, Northern Hemisphere and global tropical cyclone ACE has decreased dramatically to the lowest levels since the late 1970s.

    Additionally, the global frequency of tropical cyclones has reached a historical low.

    Here evidence is presented demonstrating that considerable variability in tropical cyclone ACE is associated with the evolution of the character of observed large-scale climate mechanisms including the El Niño Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

    In contrast to record quiet North Pacific tropical cyclone activity in 2010, the North Atlantic basin remained very active by contributing almost one-third of the overall calendar year global ACE.

    • Somite says:

      It is possible global warming has not yet affected storm intensity. This is still speculative and is the least certain of effects compared to sea level rise, loss of polar ice, etc.

      But I am curious, this paper you believe?

      • Markx says:

        Somite, I’ve no reason so far to not believe it. If you can point to some errors in the data, analysis or conclusions I would certainly be interested to know.

        The conclusion (reached by Ryan N. Maue in the paper above) that there is so far NO evidence of worsening storms is also backed by the work of Chris Landsea (an IPCC report chapter lead who resigned his position over this issue – resignation letter )

        http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Landsea/gw_hurricanes/

        Landsea’s work indicates there will be a substantial decline in frequency (by 25%) of severe storms, and any increase in intensity will be of the order of 1%.

        As you state above: “….. (The theorized worsening of storm intensity/frequency) is still speculative and is the least certain of effects”…..

      • Miles says:

        I hadn’t read that before, thanks for sharing Markx. I’ll be the first to agree that this isn’t any kind of evidence of a conspiracy, or that all of the evidence supporting dangerous warming is just a fabrication. But I would think that even if I were someone like Donald or tmac, reading something like this would at the very least make me interested in the idea that there is a bias within the IPCC and the reports they publish. It would at the very least give me pause enough to realize that maybe folks like Roy Spencer actually have a reason to be concerned with the way this data gets interpreted, even if I wasn’t convinced by his argument. Yet, the typically implied tone behind such reactions is that any researcher who disagrees with the “consensus” is just some Big Oil “shill” with an agenda that is trying to mislead the public by confusing the “facts”.

        What I’d like to know, is when folks within the skeptic community started thinking of science as a “democracy”. We keep hearing the word “consensus” over and over again, as if that is somehow meaningful within the scientific process. Well, news flash, it isn’t. It’s ironic to me that when someone like Sam Harris gets on a stage and reminds everyone that “Science isn’t a democracy. We don’t simply get together and hold a ‘vote’ on what we think is true”, skeptics cheer at the un-corruptability of the scientific process. Yet when we talk about climate change, any contrary opinion is met with “that goes against the consensus!”, as if that is somehow a meaningful argument.

        Sometimes we have our little debates and disagreements about what the “scientific method” is. This debate can easily turn one into such a pessimist that the real definition starts looking like “Scientific Method: whatever methodology you find appropriate for referencing data to support your ideology.”

      • Markx says:

        Miles, I agree with all your points.

        As I’ve said before, it takes a certain type of ‘faith’ to accept the output of those models, and those cleverly worded predictions of doom. I’m surprised that intelligent people don’t even WANT to question it.

        Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the discussion, which further convinced me we’d better ‘hasten slowly’, to assess both the science and the politics behind this.

        But, I think we are probably the only two left in here reading this!

  49. Markx says:

    Re ” Warming deep ocean”

    >The cited study, PJ2010, says:

    Excepting the Arctic Ocean and Nordic seas, the rate of abyssal (below 4000 m) global ocean heat content change in the 1990s and 2000s is equivalent to a heat flux of 0.027 (±0.009) W m−2 applied over the entire surface of the earth. SOURCE: PJ2010

    That works out to a claimed warming rate of the abyssal ocean of 0.0007°C per year, with a claimed 95% confidence interval of ± 0.0002°C/yr.

    a claimed warming rate of the abyssal ocean of 0.0007°C per year, with a claimed 95% confidence interval of ± 0.0002°C/yr.

    (from WUWT, prompted some very good discussion, http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/31/krige-the-argo-probe-data-mr-spock/)

    • Somite says:

      WUWT LOL. Who says abyssaly temperature is relevant to the discussion or that a small increase in temp at the depth is hugely relevant. Like most denier blogs WUWT cherry picks for any parameter, relevant or not, that trends in the direction they like.

      • Markx says:

        Trenberth’s missing heat

      • Somite says:

        Looks to me like the lows are getting higher over time. A graph presented without context or without discussion by an expert is irrelevant.

      • Markx says:

        Somite,

        Sometimes it is good to look firstly without the ‘expert’ discussion; these days they are all putting their own spin on it. Changes in ocean temperature of hundredth or tenths of a degree equate to a sh**load (a technical term) of energy change. But then you might query the accuracy of the sampling or the instrumentation or the analysis. (eg a claimed 95% confidence interval of ± 0.0002°C/yr) But then, you’d have to go to WUWT to get another opinion.

        I find it always interesting to keep an open mind and to try to consider all possibilities
        Even in science it seems best to do so. eg; evolution/natural selection (a popular topic in here!) : Just when we think we have it all wrapped up, along comes something like epigenetics.

        I spend a lot of time on Skeptical Science, you may find some interesting analyses on WUWT, and if you skip over all the fanboy replies in the comments, there are some very good technical discussions.

      • Markx says:

        hmmm… “…these days they are all putting their own spin on it.” overstates the matter and has certain implications.

        Let’s say, it is useful to examine data before reading introductions and conclusions. That encourages ‘inquiry’.

  50. Somite says:

    Climate change denier winter Olympics

    http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2012/01/11

  51. romsey australia says:

    reply to: Kenn says:
    December 23, 2011 at 12:48 am
    “…..this is an act of God…
    In Australia we have been praying for rain intermittently.
    “Sir George Gipps ( Governor of New South Wales ) in 1838, when the colony of New South Wales was experiencing a severe drought which created a water crisis, had proclaimed November 2nd as a national day of ‘fasting and humiliation’.
    Fifty seven years later on the 11th September,1895 a day of prayer was again called in similar circumstances.
    (….)
    169 years later we are informed that “We must all hope and pray there is rain ” and “this is very much in the lap of the gods”,
    to solve our current water crisis.
    (….)
    A Christian group with the ear of prominent politicians has blamed “sinful” Australians for the nation’s record drought.
    ” Catch the Fire Ministries leader Pastor Danny Nalliah has branded the nation’s drought catastrophe the result of a spiritual crisis in Australia and tied the flow of rain fall directly to sin and prayer. ”
    (….)

    “Australia has warned that it will have to switch off the water supply to the continent’s food bowl unless heavy rains break an epic drought.”

    Releasing a new report on the state of the Murray and Darling rivers, Mr Howard ( Prime Minister of Australia ) said:
    “It is a grim situation, and there is no point in pretending to Australia otherwise. We must all hope and pray there is rain.”

    Mr Howard acknowledged that an irrigation ban would have a “potentially devastating” impact.
    But “this is very much in the lap of the gods”, he said.
    (….)

    Farmers urged not to pin all their hopes on divine intervention.
    Fr Maguire, of St Peter and Paul’s Parish, is among many Melbourne priests warning drought-stricken farmers not to pin all their hopes on divine intervention.
    “Praying for rain is great and we will be doing it in our services, but we have to be prepared to work on finding solutions to the problem ourselves,” he said.
    Fr Bob Maguire says church leaders across Australia can pray for rain “until they go black in the face” but it won’t solve the water crisis.

    (….)
    “Addendum July 2008.
    The new Prime Minister of Australia ( Mr Kevin Rudd ) has announced a new strategy to solve Australia’s water crisis in the Murray – Darling basin, but he also indicated, ” I am not God I can’t make it rain ”
    when questioned about the survival of the environment around the lower lakes area of South Australia. ( Source: ABC Television 03-07-2008.)

    Is this an indication that to completely solve our water crisis, we should continue to rely on divine intervention because our Prime Minister makes it clear that he is not God ? ”
    1. (….)http://home.iprimus.com.au/foo7/lawsondrought.html

    The Prime Mister of Australia 2012 currently makes no reference to divine intervention.
    2012 we are now having Floods.
    Although weather patterns are changing since reliable records it does not necessarily mean that we are on the brink of extinction. Is this that divine intervention seems to be unpredictable?
    Despite all the facts presented bear in mind if you live in a glass bubble beware what you extrude, as all others will share your experience.
    Romsey Australia

  52. alloporus says:

    When miners used to carry canaries into the mine it was when the canary died that the miners knew it was time to get out.

    I suspect that a) Australia is not going to die and b) if it did, it would be far too late for everyone.

    Better that we all start thinking adaptation pretty much right away..

    More thoughts at http://www.climate-change-wisdom.com