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Canada May Sensibly Blow Off Kyoto

by Brian Dunning, Dec 01 2011

No nation concerned with the science of climate change should have ever given the Kyoto Protocol the time of day. Most of them did, and signed and ratified this plan to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of wealthy nations, while granting the two most polluting nations (China and India) immunity to produce as much CO2 as they wish.

Today Reuters reported that Canada has stated that the Kyoto Protocol is a “thing of the past” but has not yet confirmed whether it will formally pull out of the pact. Russia and Japan also said that they will not renew their commitment to the protocol unless it binds on the world’s greatest polluters.

The United States, which was the world’s largest emitter at the time of the Kyoto Protocol, refused to sign the treaty as it clearly had more to do with politics than with science. Since then, China and India have both probably surpassed US emissions, and have been producing sharply increasing emissions every year while wealthier nations have been striving to reduce CO2.

As China and India are both in periods of extreme economic growth as they struggle to catch up to the rest of the world’s standards of living, it’s unlikely that either will bother to meet any CO2 restrictions. There is just not enough immediate incentive to do so, and no immediate drawback in continuing to pollute their way to economic growth.

Most nations that did ratify the Kyoto Protocol have failed to meet its targets, and failed by huge margins. There is a really simple reason for this: as China and India discovered, there’s just no compelling reason to bother.

My opinion is that the only way any nation will truly change their CO2 emitting ways (and I’m talking to you, United States, China, India, Brazil, Russia, etc.) is if we make it cheaper and more profitable to use clean energy. Not artificially so, through the use of penalties and incentives, but genuinely so. This means investment in clean energy sources, namely Generation IV nuclear technologies.

Discuss and flame.

204 Responses to “Canada May Sensibly Blow Off Kyoto”

  1. Somite says:

    If China jumps of a cliff should we jump too? Do reductions in green house gas emissions only count if restrictions are met? These are not the only logical errors in this article.

    • Marc says:

      I’m fairly certain neither of those logical errors were in the piece, either. You might want to check out the latest Skeptoid, as it deals with strawman arguments like the ones you just made.

      • bsfbsbbsbsfb says:

        riticisism against the kyoto is always overblown because it was an act put in place to stem the flow of pollution THEN AND THERE

        It wasn’t a long term thing it was a panic act that reacted to the pressure of the time

        Now you get people acting like it was some failure.

        Well… it was better than nothing

    • I’m sorry but I don’t follow your comment. What logical errors did I make?

    • Somite says:

      The logical error is the incorrect initial assumption that reducing green house gas emission has a negative economic impact. That would be like saying that smartphone development hurts the established landlines. It does but the benefits of smartphones are overwhelmingly clear and accepted and the economy in general benefits. Not to mention the developers of smartphones.

      • Markx says:

        Good analogy.

        Smartphone development has had a massive positive effect; for the Telcos.

        I suspect for most people, the effect has been negative, with more off their funds going to communications, and less to other things. You can argue business may now be more efficient, and tease out some economic gains for a few, but I think, the majority simply pay more each month to the Telcos.

        Indeed, a nice parallel with carbon credits/taxes.

      • Nyar says:

        Poor analogy. People have adopted smartphones because they value the convience and usefulness of them.

      • Nyar says:

        Oops, I didn’t mean to submit that last comment yet, I wasn’t finished. Anyway people have voluntarily adopted smartphones whereas taxes and carbon caps are basically just extortion. What I think that Brian is saying is that we need a solution to AGW like smartphones, something that people will adopt in a (kinda) free market on their own because they value it

      • tmac57 says:

        There is a problem with the free market approach though.Fossil fuels will continue to remain the cheaper option (if you don’t factor in all of the external costs,which is what historically has been the case) because of cheap coal.Therefore , there is no price signal to move rapidly to low carbon energy sources.The main driver,has been a social responsibility to avoid a potentially disasterous climate shift for future generations,and AGW deniers are doing their best to see that that driver is nullified.If they have their way,all of the free market power in the world will not be enough to undo the damage done.There is a small window of opportunity that is rapidly closing…will the free market be able to respond in time?This may be a test of a lifetime for your theory.

      • Søren Furbo Skov says:

        Your analogy assumes that non-fossil fuel energy is better for the user than fossil fuel energy (as smartphones are better than landlines). How is that the case?

        Furthermore, what is the positive economic impact of reducing greenhouse gasses? There are some possible growth in the sustainable energy sector, but that could happen anyway, as long as someone else is cutting greenhouse gas emission. And most likely, the negative effect of cutting will outweigh the positive effects.

        There is, of course, an enormous negative effect if we don’t manage to cut the total human output of greenhouse gasses. That is a classical disaster of the commons scenario. If we want to mitigate that, we need to focus on what can resolve the disaster of the commons. Trying to convince the farmers that is is more noble to not let their cows graze the commons might pursuade the wealthier farmers, but the ones who starve if they don’t won’t be fazed.

    • Søren Furbo Skov says:

      If China jumps of this particular cliff, they will take everyone with them. It won’t matter that much what have done in the meantime.

  2. Rod says:

    It would be nice if there were a clean energy source that was cheaper than the fossil fuel alternatives, but without it, what do we do? Give up? Nobody may benefit by cutting their own emissions, but we all lose when emissions continue. A political solution may be difficult but necessary. You also said that Kyoto has nothing to do with the science of climate change. Surprisingly neither does your article.

    • That shouldn’t be surprising; it’s not a science article. Much more of an opinion piece.

      • Tim Gowan says:


        You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but if you want to convince others, perhaps you should explain your reasons a little more, rather than just your conclusions.

        Perhaps in a series of follow-up posts.

        I’d like to see you flesh out some of the things you said with explanations, rationales and evidences.

        1) You describe China and India as “the 2 most polluting nations” but that’s only if you count what was emitted in the last year. CO2 emitted by the US and Russia 10, 20, 30 years ago is still in the atmosphere and still causing a greenhouse effect.

        2) Are these Generation IV nuclear technologies realistic alternatives, or are they always going to be 10 years away like fusion power?

        How about biofuel from algae? Maybe even genetically modified algae? There’s some really neat ideas out there, but they never seem to come to fruition, or at least not yet.

    • Wrong says:

      We do have a clean energy source, which, correct me if I’m wrong, is at least on par with fossil fuel alternatives in price. Nuclear Fission.

      The problem with Kyoto is it has no effect. It doesn’t solve the problem, but it does draw attention from solving it. It doesn’t incentivise doing the right thing, but it does make the nation look better for ratifying it.

      Isn’t that the point of the article? To point out that Kyoto, which had nothing to do with fixing the problem, is being rejected by Canada, and enlighten the reader on its history, and end with the rather obvious conclusion that Kyoto was never the answer?

  3. Jeffrey L. Whitledge says:

    I don’t understand the last two sentences. How would government investment in nuclear technology be distinguished from “artificial” means of manipulating the energy supply?

    And if you are referring to private investment, then do you think the energy companies have not already run the numbers on what approaches would be more profitable?

  4. Locklin says:

    So Canada should continue to ramp up CO2 emissions because Kyoto was flawed? Yeah, that will solve climate change. And, of course, it will be much easier to convince China and India to invest in clean technologies when were building a massive oil pipeline to move the worlds dirtiest oil half way across the continent. How, exactly are penalties and incentives “artificial,” but public investment in certain energy research “genuine.” I smell lame libertarian logic…

    • tim says:

      And the straw men keep coming, along with an Ad Hominem to conclude.

    • Wrong says:

      If you reject Kyoto, that doesn’t mean you need to ramp up emissions. Straw man. Doubly so, since some nations that ratified the thing didn’t meet the standards set out.

      Also, that’s certainly not the “Libertarian Logic” you’re smelling. That’s your own biases. It seems rather common for people to instantly start pointing towards peoples political opinions as if it’s an argument. It isn’t. In fact, it’s both an Ad Hominem and Poisoning the well, as tim worthily pointed out. Not only that, simply because someone has a poor motive, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be right (Not to imply that Dunning has a poor motive).

      Dunning mentions in a comment earlier about what he means. And yes, it makes sense. The reason that people don’t want to invest in “Green” solutions is the investment cost. To get the technology to the point where it’s comparable to coal costs money. That’s one of the main problems. The problem with penalties and incentives is that it doesn’t solve the problem, it makes things more expensive, but to really balance the playing field takes an enormous amount of money. That’s hardly going to happen. Better for the government to simply invest in the technology (Which, to be frank, to me, doesn’t sound at all like a Libertarian statement, since it says nothing about privatization or otherwise).

      Personally, I like Nuclear Fission. It’s effective, clean, safe, and economically viable now. It’s usually uninformed people uneducated in the science or the safety regulations of nuclear power who’ve decried it (I speak especially of my country, Australia, one of the biggest sellers of Uranium, but one with a strong anti-nuclear stance). If the decisions were all evaluated rationally, I strongly believe that Nuclear Fission would be the best way to generate power.

      • Acitta says:

        Nuclear energy is not economically viable. Every electric bill in Ontario has a surcharge on it to pay for the massive cost overruns of Ontario’s nuclear plants. Nuclear energy is only viable with very large government subsidies. If those subsidies were applied to renewable energy technologies such as solar, then those technologies would be much more viable than they are now.

  5. Miles says:

    I agree with your point, Brian, that making “cleaner” (whatever definition of clean you want to use) energy sources more popular, means they need to become cheaper in real terms. However, I’m not sure that “investing” is any kind of a guarantee that this will happen. I don’t think you meant to suggest that this is the case though. But I suspect that there is some particular energy technology that you believe would be a good investment, as most people who participate in this debate tend to have their personal pet favorite, which they think everyone else should “invest” in. No offense intended.

    If you want those new energy innovations to come, I would recommend advocating for freedom instead of investment. Allowing individuals the maximum amount of freedom to naturally experiment with new ideas (provided they aren’t hurting anyone else) is the best elixir I know of to spur innovation. Offering “investment” as a solution reminds me of the cold fusion debacles.

  6. mcb says:

    “My opinion is that the only way any nation will truly change their CO2 emitting ways is if we make it cheaper and more profitable to use clean energy.”

    Cheaper and more profitable for whom, free market entrepreneurs or the communities affected by their externalities? Nations don’t pollute, businesses pollute (Okay, nationalized businesses pollute too). I strongly agree that generation IV nuclear power must be part of the solution but who should fund the investment needed, private business or taxpayers?

  7. tmac57 says:

    For 2008 the per capita Co2 emissions in tonnes:

    China 5.3

    India 1.4

    U.S. 17.5

    Source Wikipedia (similar to World Bank figures also)

    • Somite says:

      This also demolishes the argument.

    • Max says:

      That’s per capita, so China’s total emissions are about the same as the U.S.

      • tmac57 says:

        Actually China is higher,but the only fair comparison is per capita carbon emissions,unless you think that Americans are some how entitled to emit more individually.That is a hard sell I would think.

      • Nyar says:

        It is the total amount of carbon emissions that matter; it is not like there will be less warming from Chinese carbon than from American carbon.

      • tmac57 says:

        So every nation on earth,regardless of it’s population,should have the same right as the U.S. or China to produce 5,000 to 6,000 million tonnes or carbon annually?By your logic,all nations should be able to have the exact same emmissions.

      • Wrong says:

        That’s not the point. The individual is not in charge of their own usage. The government is. As a nation (And, I might remind you, it was nations that signed the Kyoto Protocol, and not individuals), the emissions are higher, which is what the Kyoto Protocol was talking about. That’s why he mentioned it. Kyoto compared nations, not people, so it’s not a point you’ll have to sell, it’s what the argument was defined as from the beginning.

      • tmac57 says:

        Individuals,most certainly are in charge of their own usage.

      • MadScientist says:

        Actually, the only thing that matters is the global emissions; nature doesn’t care who’s putting it out. Although per capita rates are lower in China than in the USA, these rates are expected to continue to increase.

      • tmac57 says:

        Certainly,the global emission is the totality of the probem,by definition.But any global solution,will be negotiated on a nation by nation basis.When each nation is evaluated,it becomes necessary to take in to account not only their total emissions,but view that in light of their population as well.Otherwise,the smallest nation by population would be equal to the largest,in terms of how much they are allowed to emit,by agreement.That obviously makes no sense what so ever.The only fair comparison,is by how much emissions a nation produces per each citizen.How else could you possibly rank them? I guess that you could dream up some system,where each individual was responsible for their own carbon,but how the hell would you evaluate 70 billion individuals?

      • tmac57 says:

        That was supposed to read ‘7 billion people’.

  8. MadScientist says:

    “… and have been producing sharply increasing emissions every year while wealthier nations have been striving to reduce CO2.”

    Nonsense. What “wealthier nation” is putting in a decent effort to reduce CO2? The EU Emissions Trading Scam makes contrafactual claims of reducing CO2. There are minor efforts such as the taxation of CO2 emitted in offshore gas production in Norway but such efforts at geosequestration in the EU have been stalled. Despite the huge growth in wind turbines, those beasts currently add only a miniscule amount to the grids; the same goes for solar panels. Add to all that the fact that at least 30% of emissions are from cars/buses/trucks and I just can’t see how any government can claim to be making significant progress when there is no realistic scenario in which any nation can achieve the CO2 cuts which scientists tell us we need to make.

    • Max says:

      I don’t think “contrafactual” means what you think it means.

      • MadScientist says:

        Dang English language. I meant counterfactual.

      • Max says:

        Nope. Counterfactual means a hypothetical alternate reality, as in “if pigs could fly…”

      • MadScientist says:

        So a counterfactual is a proposition rather than a statement of fact? What cobbled foreign words can we use to describe statements which are contrary to fact?

      • Max is right, Mad.

        And, “climate ‘skeptics’ really have science that supports their claims” would be an example of a statement contrary to fact.

    • Wrong says:

      It’s true that the efforts to reduce Carbon emissions have been pathetic, and uninspired. That doesn’t change the fact that pathetic and uninspired attempts have been made.

      One of my biggest issues with the Kyoto Protocol is, forgive me if I’m mistaken, but the limitations imposed by it would do nothing to prevent catastrophe. However, the popular idea is that by ratifying it, and following the recommendations, that the world will be fine. Which would mean that signing Kyoto, was ultimately, a PR exercise which did nothing to solve the problem.

      • MadScientist says:

        I agree about the Kyoto Protocol – it does nothing to actually address the problem and should be abandoned by all. What I don’t like are governments playing a silly game of “dare you to go first”.

  9. Beelzebud says:

    So I see we’ve gone from “It’s a hoax”, to “It’s too late”.

    I give up.

    • Wesley Goodford says:

      The way the global warming denialists have played governments and people comes straight out of Yes Prime Minister:
      1) Say that nothing is going to happen.
      2) Say something maybe going to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
      3) Say maybe we should do something about it, but there is nothing we can do.
      4) Say maybe there was something we could have done, but it is too late now.

      • Markx says:

        Sometimes it happens in a different order.

        I started out believing we had a warming crisis. Pretty clear case from the charts we were shown.

        But my experience with heating and drying processes left me baffled as to how something which was such a minute component of the whole could be responsible.

        Further study of the absorption spectrum, and noting that for CO2 was largely saturated left more doubts.

        My time as GM of a third world country operation which was partnered in a Kyoto protocol project by a huge Japanese multinational raised further doubts. They simply partnered up and made a deal to divide up credits for a project which would have happened anyway (the third world owner being one of the richest men in the country). But stringent bureaucratic demands meant methane which should have replaced 50 tonnes of diesel usage per month was flared off instead. It seemed to be more about the rules than the end result.

        My experience dabbling (not so successfully) in commodity futures trading, where only a few percent of trades result in a delivery, all the balance being offset against each other with one winning, one losing lead me to question whether this trading process is necessary or adds any ‘efficiency’ to a market. (This is zero sum, minus commissions). Long have the mega rich understood that taking a dollar from each of millions of people results in…. well, you can work it out). I’m not sure if economies (world/national) benefit from such slushing of billions, but I do know that a few people get very, very rich.

        The hasty setting up of ‘carbon desks’ by banks and big trading houses at the dawn of the Kyoto protocol reminded me of hyenas scuttling in at the smell of blood.

        Strident arguments, labelling and name calling from ‘the establishment’ against voices raise in question further prickled my sceptical mind.

        Recent ‘lack of warming’ and the inability to explain it by all the AGW proponents really got my eyebrows raised.
        Study of ancient temperature and CO2 level assumptions made me wonder why we didn’t get ‘runaway heating’ with the temperature peaks and high CO2 levels millions of years ago. But that was a bit too far in the past to get too excited about. But then there is this very interesting publication on Greenland Ice cores (Takuro Kobashi et al)
        The Past 4000 year record shows 26 occasions where Greenland surface temperature exceeded today’s temperature. Indeed, the current temperature curve appears to be a not so dramatic move back to ‘normal’.

        The climate emails simply show what we all should have known, the debate within rages as much as the debate without.

        We were simply lied to on the consensus issue.

        The only real surprise perhaps is the apparent absolute lack of faith in the tree ring data, and perhaps the community’s slight embarrassment over Mike Mann’s inability to supply original data. The bafflement about the slowing of the warming process is not surprising.

        So I’ve gone from being a warming believer who was not convinced regarding the mechanism of warming, and very sceptical about the motivation behind ‘the solution’, to now doubting whether the problem really exists.

      • Max says:

        A major reason why people deny that the problem exists is that they don’t like the solution, so that’s still stage 1, motivated reasoning and quote mining.
        When the science becomes hard to deny, proceed to stage 2 and argue that Global Warming is not bad and that CO2 is plant food.

      • Markx says:

        Thanks for those links.

        I may be wrong, but is Trenberth not simply using model data to adjust satellite data to match model data?

        From a comment on that page :

        “There is a TOA imbalance of 6.4 W m−2 from CERES data and this is outside of the realm of current estimates of global imbalances (Willis et al. 2004; Hansen et al. 2005; Huang 2006) that are expected from observed increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

        This means that the imbalance is there but it’s absolute value is inaccurate.

        “The TOA energy imbalance can probably be most accurately determined from climate models and is estimated to be 0.85 ± 0.15 W m−2 by Hansen et al. (2005) and is supported by estimated recent changes in ocean heat content (Willis et al. 2004; Hansen et al. 2005). A comprehensive error analysis of the CERES mean budget (Wielicki et al. 2006) is used in Fasullo and Trenberth (2008a) to guide adjustments of the CERES TOA fluxes so as to match the estimated global imbalance.”

        So they choose to take the value from Hansen et al. 2005 and adjust the CERES TOA fluxes to match this value.

      • Markx says:

        And re the ‘hard to deny link’, are they not being a little selective where they start their charts?

        I guess no one has followed the link to Kobashi et al, so here is a quote from the summary:

        “The estimated average Greenland snow temperature over the past 4000 years was −30.7°C with a standard deviation of 1.0°C and exhibited a long‐term decrease of roughly 1.5°C, which is consistent with earlier studies.

        The current decadal average surface temperature (2001–2010) at the GISP2 site is −29.9°C. The record indicates that warmer temperatures were the norm in the earlier part of the past 4000 years, including century‐long
        intervals nearly 1°C warmer than the present decade (2001– 2010).

        Therefore, we conclude that the current decadal mean temperature in Greenland has not exceeded the envelope of natural variability over the past 4000 years, a period that seems to include part of the Holocene Thermal Maximum. “

      • Somite says:

        The last sentence of that paper:

        Notwithstanding this conclusion, climate models project that if anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continue, the Greenland temperature would exceed the natural variability of the past 4000 years sometime before the year 2100.

      • Markx says:

        Re last sentence.

        Yes, I liked that too. (and I’m glad to see someone is reading it, it seems a nice piece of work)

        But my thought was that they phrased that very cleverly, avoiding arguments which would detract from the thrust of the paper.

        They simply introduce the concept and quote results of modelling in the final paragraph of the conclusion (rather carefully, I thought).

        Although somewhat speculative, it is of interest to ask when Greenland snow temperature will exceed the envelope of variability found in the last 4000 yr given current projections….. based on the IPCC emission scenarios (SRES; B1, A1B, and A2) by IPCC AR4 models (MPI, HADCM3, and HADGEM1; …….. indicating a possibility of exceeding the upper bound (−28.7°C) of the natural variability by 2100.

      • tmac57 says:

        Markx-“But my thought was that they phrased that very cleverly, avoiding arguments which would detract from the thrust of the paper.”
        This looks to me like you are engaging in motivated reasoning,and confirmation bias.If you accept the authors data and conclusions about not exceeding the temp envelope during the last 4000 years,then why would you reject the other statement as some sort of clever dodge?That seems like intellectual dishonesty.

      • Markx says:

        Tmac, perhaps so, but

        Although somewhat speculative,
        it is of interest
        indicating a possibility

        is hardly a ringing endorsement, is it?

      • Markx says:

        Further, Tmac,

        The whole purpose of investigating these historical temperatures is surely to ascertain whether or not the world is warming, correct?

        Re Kobashi et al: Don’t you find it rather remarkable that there is absolutely no discussion about the speed and scale of the current temperature increase in relation to past temperature increases?

        There seems to be great pressure on scientists to conform:

        And some appalling attitudes to dissenting views:

        I responded to his 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)

        Do you think this a healthy environment in which to advance and discuss the science?

      • Markx says:

        Tmac. It all comes down to the recent attempts of attempted matching of the CO2 curve with the temperature curve. Only in that case is a thirty, or one hundred, or two hundred year chart likely to be relevant to anything.

        The interesting point of discussion becomes the apparent lack of correlation developing in the last ten years. Not relevant in the history of the planet, but perhaps relevant in this argument of causation.

        Which brings me to an important point: the term “climate change denier” is often bandied about as some component of the AGW proponent arguments.

        I will speak for myself here; I am not arguing against the fact that the climate changes, I just can’t come to terms with the idea that a conveniently measurable and traceable and calculable and taxable and tradable molecule which exists as a trace gas can be exerting such large physical effects.

      • tmac57 says:

        “Recent ‘lack of warming’ and the inability to explain it by all the AGW proponents really got my eyebrows raised.”
        They don’t need to explain it,because it is not true:

        From Skeptical science:
        “The average of the NOAA and GISS data since 2000 produces a 0.085°C warming trend per decade. Even if we cherrypick the timeframe (since 2000) and dataset (HadCRUT), there is still a warming trend (0.02°C per decade). Of course none of these trends is statistically significant, because 10 years is too short of a timeframe to establish statistical significance.”
        Use this figure instead:

        You may lower your eyebrows now.

      • Markx says:

        Tmac, thank you.

        But would ou mind giving me the same chart going back and inclugding the peaks of the late 90s?

        I have a feeling you may lose this lovely 0.1 degree trendline.

      • Max says:

        Did you see tmac’s second chart?

      • tmac57 says:

        I could,but that would be beside the point.In climate science,a 30 year trend is what is considered to be necessary to show true signifcance.Including 1998 which is known to be an outlier because of the strong El Nino effect skews the trend higher than normal.This is statistical noise,that smoothes out during longer time lines.But having said that,please see this:

        Also take another look at the 2nd link that I provided above,apparently you missed the point of it,from the context of your question.

      • Markx says:

        Thanks, the clever animation is a little hard to focus on.

        But, the question arises, why are we looking at historical data? I presume all this interest in tree rings and ice cores is solely for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not the world is warming.

        So, how far back do we go? It seems to me that 2000 years or so is not going to tell us much, especially with the Medieval Warm Period and then the Little Ice Age applying their pressures to the trend lines.

        There was so much talk in the climate emails doubting the validity of tree ring results and espousing hope for ice core data, but still we see proxies based on tree rings, and hear little about ice core data.

        “….there has been a ~0.5 degree per century increase of temperature that Akasofu attributes to a natural recovery from the Little Ice Age. The IPCC says there has been overall a 0.6 degree per century increase, therefore only 0.1 degree per century could be attributable to greenhouse gases…”

      • Somite says:

        Reread tmac’s post just above yours.

      • Somite says:

        The “recovery from the LIA” argument has been answered as far back as 2006

        Man. Why do deniers keep repeating and repeating the same points? It’s like they are counting on exhaustion to win the argument.

        Could you at least review a good website maintained by research climatologists for answers first?

      • Markx says:

        “…In climate science,a 30 year trend is what is considered to be necessary to show true signifcance….”

        You are surely jesting!

        If not, ‘climate scientists’ perhaps need to be relegated to the bin of quackery.

      • tmac57 says:

        Markx-What do you find wrong with the 30 year trend.Temperature data over short durations,(and 10 years is considered short) have a lot of variability that causes a degree of uncertainty,so that even if you detect a trend,the uncertainty is too large to say with any confidence that it is a real trend as the data are too noisy.Extending the timeline out further reduces the uncertainty,and 30 years is long enough to be virtually certain.

      • Markx says:

        Somite’s link makes good reading

        The comments section covers a lot of the debate we would probably continue here, and is mostly politely done.

        A the end of it all, my thoughts are much as they were.

      • Markx says:

        I managed to put this in the wrong place above: reposted here. Apologies for the double post.

        Tmac. It all comes down to the recent attempts of attempted matching of the CO2 curve with the temperature curve. Only in that case is a thirty, or one hundred, or two hundred year chart likely to be relevant to anything.

        The interesting point of discussion becomes the apparent lack of correlation developing in the last ten years. Not relevant in the history of the planet, but perhaps relevant in this argument of causation.

        Which brings me to an important point: the term “climate change denier” is often bandied about as some component of the AGW proponent arguments.

        I will speak for myself here; I am not arguing against the fact that the climate changes, I just can’t come to terms with the idea that a conveniently measurable and traceable and calculable and taxable and tradable molecule which exists as a trace gas can be exerting such large physical effects.

      • tmac57 says:

        Markx-You,can’t come to terms with it,or you refuse to come to terms with it?
        Think about the question before you reflexively answer.
        Now,if you are sincere about having your doubts answered,I will again,suggest that you go to the Skeptical Science blog,and start reading their answers to all of the denial myths,and the rest of what they have to offer.They are deeply steeped in the science,and are sober and ernest brokers of the facts.They can reply to any doubts that you have,and put it into context,if there is any science dealing with.But beware,if you go there only to ‘concern troll’ them,they will soon ferret that out,and call you on it.Otherwise,they are very poilte,and all business.Good luck.

    • I think, but don’t quote me, that the WTO allows carbon tariffs on imports IF a country has a carbon tax in place on domestic emissions.

      That’s the obvious way. We implement a carbon tax on ourselves while slapping a carbon tariff on Chinese goods at the same time.

  10. Wesley Goodford says:

    What struck me after reading the article is not so much the number of factual errors, but the dishonesty. Many of Brian’s sentence constructions are little truths covering up bigger lies, in a way that Brian couldn’t have written them, and certainly not so consistently, had he not been quite well informed of the actual situation. It left a really bitter taste in my mouth.
    For a much better review of the current situation and the upcoming summit, listen to this episode of Q&Q titled The Rocky Road to Durban:

    • Wrong says:

      “Little truths covering up bigger lies.” How does that work, exactly? If you’re going to say he’s wrong, dishonest, or factually eroneous, then you’re obliged to support your claim. I’d be happy to read any errors you’ve found, but claiming he’s wrong without supporting it isn’t acceptable, especially on a site that’s theoretically dedicated to rationality and reasoning.

  11. tmac57 says:

    “Since then, China and India have both probably surpassed US emissions”

    China has exceeded the U.S., although as I pointed out earlier their per capita emissions are far below the U.S. (5.3 vs 17.5).
    India,however,as of 2009 figures,has annual emissions at 1,602 million tonnes vs 5,424 million tonnes for the U.S. and per capita emissions of 1.4 India vs 17.5 tonnes for the U.S.

    Brian,do your figures substantially differ from these?

    • itzac says:

      “Since then, China and India have both *probably* surpassed US emissions”

      I suspect he was just speculating and doesn’t actually have any figures.

      • tmac57 says:

        That wouldn’t be very good research then.I thought that Brian prided himself on throughness.Including India as being anywhere near U.S. emissions,was a key point in his argument.

  12. Somite says:

    I mean, seriously, is there any reference or study that shows a significant adverse impact of curbing green house gas emissions in the US? At most I can find the CBO report that shows only minimal impact on GDP that more than offsets the losses due to global warming.

    • Markx says:

      The argument put forward here is that it won’t do any harm, so let’s take a go with it anyway.

      But we are talking about a 100 billion dollar tax (now they are talking about 600 billion) going through the hands of the UN. And The World Bank expects to take a commission every carbon credit traded.

      So you have to ask yourselves firstly, do we really want fund these august and merciful bodies (they may well hold the key to saving the world, both economically and physically, but I suspect not).

      Whether or not global warming is real and carbon trading is the solution is another issue entirely.

  13. Shane Brady says:

    I’m always amazed when people who accept AGW and the science, but have different political ideas on how to solve it, get treated almost the same as AGW deniers. When it comes to politics, skeptics are the same as the rest of the country.

    • tmac57 says:

      That’s because politics is not science.It’s more opinions and values.Different people have different ideas about what is fair,and work from different sets of ‘facts’.

      • Markx says:

        With respect Tmac, that does not seem to cover the issue.

        There seems to be a very great pressure to go with the prescribed solution, and go with it now, even before the science is settled, and before the prescribed solution is clear.

      • itzac says:

        I think that excuse only gets us so far, tmac57. We can evaluate the effects of different policies. We can actually know what works and what doesn’t, and to the extent that peoples’ objectives align, we can use that knowledge to determine a course of action.

        I tend to get annoyed when people say you can’t apply skepticism to politics, because it just means skeptics of different political persuasions don’t want to be in a position of disagreeing with each other.

        Skeptics do have a role to play in politics, it’s just very difficult, and requires a great deal of humility on the part of everyone involved.

      • tmac57 says:

        I would be the last person to suggest that you cannot use skepticism in politics.I believe that fact checking is key when evaluating political statements and positions.However,once the facts are established within the bounds of your ability,and the information available,then value judgements and personal principles come into play.These are not scientific questions.Whether AGW is a fact,is a science question.Should we enact legislation to limit it,is not,while the possible effects are a question for science.

      • itzac says:

        Sorry, that came off more accusatory than I meant it. I agree with you completely. I was expressing frustration that so many people will pretend and project ignorance in order to justify inaction.

    • And, Dunning himself claimed Kyoto was more about politics than science. I’m not sure he accepts all the science.

  14. Max says:

    “Most nations that did ratify the Kyoto Protocol have failed to meet its targets, and failed by huge margins.”

    Canada failed by a huge margin, but I’m not sure about most other nations.

    • Markx says:

      It is said that a lot of the European gains were made by moves such as shutting down old, polluting coal fired power stations that would have soon been shut down anyway.

      That is called looting, I think.

      Now, I must say I have not followed this one up, (research burnout, perhaps) so I stand ready to be corrected.

      But I do visualize that this is the sort of thing which will happen.

      • Max says:

        Shutting down polluters is part of the solution. Does it really matter whether they planned to do it anyway? The bottom line is that they exceeded their targets.

      • Minimalization makes a nice parallel to denialism, eh? And, based on all your comments here, I have no problem calling you a denialist, especially based on your comments about CO2:

        I just can’t come to terms with the idea that a conveniently measurable and traceable and calculable and taxable and tradable molecule which exists as a trace gas can be exerting such large physical effects.

        You’re not just a denialist of AGW, you’re denialist of the science of the greenhouse gas effect. If we were to follow you, the surface of Venus should not be 700 degrees.

      • Markx says:

        But bear in mind the atmospheric pressure at the surface in Venus is around 90 times that of earth.

        Equivalent to being under 1 kilometre of water.

        Probes to Venus now jettison parachutes about 30 km up and descend relying on that density to land safely.

  15. Markx says:

    Another reason to walk away:

    Qataris home to a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project that’s a textbook study in that system’s flaws.

    In summary, Qatar Petroleum (QP) can now generate carbon credits from selling natural gas instead of flaring it off their oilfields.

    Cost of project US$260 million and return from gas sales of US$29 million per year, running costs of US$12 million per year, for a 21 year projected return of only 9.7%/annum, ‘well under’ their usual self imposed investment return of (drum roll) 10%.

    So they can now generate an additional US$46 million per year in carbon credit sales.

    But, the Qatari gas price is set at only 70 cents per mmbtu, about one quarter of the US price.

    So, a US$5 million grant could have got the project over the company’s investment hurdle, (or they could have negotiated the project price down a little)

    Alternatively a slight rise in gas price would have done the same (80 cents per mmbtu is a sufficient price).

  16. MikeB says:

    To me, the argument is boring. Stopped dead in its tracks.

    I’ve known about AGW since high school in the 70s. Even back then I suspected what has by now become glaringly apparent:

    The world is warming and there is nothing we can do about it.

  17. Trimegistus says:

    Brian: by daring to question the Holy Wisdom of Al Gore I’m afraid you’ve revealed yourself to be a denialist, and probably a racist as well. Based on the comments, being a true skeptic means _believing what you’re told to believe_, not logical thinking and learning. Get with the program!

    • Somite says:

      Being a true skeptic means using the available facts to arrive at the correct conclusion regardless of ideology.

      For Brian’s argument to hold water some conditions would have to be met:

      1) Complying with Kyoto would have to be adverse to the economy.

      2) Show how lowering levels of domestic greenhouse gas production in comparison to other countries is NOT beneficial.

      3) Show that other alternative to carbon fuel methods are more costly and adverse than nuclear.

      Without ideology involved the most logical conclusion is to lower greenhouse gas emissions from ANY source as much as possible and replace carbon fuels with alternatives. Within the alternatives choose the most effective and less adverse.

      How is advocating for NOT lowering emissions and all nuclear approach logical in any way?

      • Markx says:

        Perhaps because those funds could be put to better use by funding nuclear power development rather than empowering the UN and the World Bank, and enriching an elite minority.

      • I don’t have a problem with nuclear energy as long as it’s safe and secure AND we decide where to put the waste.

        And, “World Bank”? What does it have to do with global warming? The UN an “elite minority”? WTF?

      • Markx says:

        Ah, sir, you miss-read me. The UN itself is not an elite minority. However, those who pocket the cash in this world are indeed in that category.

        I wish I had such trust in the motives of my fellow men as you do.

        “The World Bank Carbon Finance Unit (CFU) uses money contributed by governments and companies in OECD countries to purchase project-based greenhouse gas emission reductions in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.”

    • Beelzebud says:

      Yep I’m sure you’re a strictly rational thinker who never lets ideology get in the way of facts.

  18. oldebabe says:

    MikeB (16 above)says it right, ISTM, and I, too, have known since forever, and understood, that one of the earth’s rhythms includes climate change. It has happened, and it will happen. Info available for many years to anyone interested.

    The area for `discussion’ seems to be to what the extent any portion of any climate change can be/is exacerbated by humans, and of course that is the only effect that can be controlled by humans. Same-old-same-old arguments and blames are presented time and time again. No change.

  19. Somite says:

    A peer reviewed paper on: Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change: emission scenarios for a new world’

    “The analysis suggests that despite high-level statements to the contrary, there is now little to no chance of maintaining the global mean surface temperature at or below 2◦C. Moreover, the impacts associated with 2◦C have been revised upwards, sufficiently so that 2◦C now more appropriately represents the threshold between ‘dangerous’ and ‘extremely dangerous’ climate change.”

    • Markx says:

      Somite, the paper simply accepts the premise that GHG’s are the main cause of warming, and goes on to discuss the consequences.

      They may be correct, but to me, they are simply reciting the dogma.

      • tmac57 says:

        So,everypiece of evidence that supports AGW,is ‘dogma’,and any evidence that show some uncertainty about AGW,is interesting,and eyebrow raising?Have I got it right now?

      • Markx says:

        Perhaps I do look at it with such a jaundiced eye.

        No doubt about the warming, no doubt some of it is due to ‘us’.

        Lots of doubt that it simply comes down to CO2 and that carbon taxes/trades will solve the issue.

        So, yes, happily directing me to new sites/papers written by those who are simply assuming the science is right does not resolve my issues.

        But tell me. Did you think that paper succeeded in answering any of the issues we have been debating?

      • MadScientist says:

        1. We can calculate the minimum increase in the energy of the planet + atmosphere given human CO2 emissions. How that energy is distributed and what warming it causes is something which is not yet so well pinned down, but the continuous increase in energy must result in some warming and even the most favorable estimates don’t look good. All evidence is that most of the observed warming is in fact due to humans.

        2. There is no doubt about the role of CO2; the efficacy of carbon taxes and ‘emissions trading’ is an entirely different matter (I believe all emissions trading to be nothing but a scam; any emissions trading at all can only promote ‘gaming’).

      • Markx says:

        But really, you should not have been offended, it is a perfectly apt usage of the word. More so than I realized. See definition 2 (and perhaps, 1).

        dog·ma (dôgm, dg-)
        n. pl. dog·mas or dog·ma·ta (-m-t)

        1. A doctrine or a corpus of doctrines relating to matters such as morality and faith, set forth in an authoritative manner by a church.

        2. An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true. See Synonyms at doctrine.

        3. A principle or belief or a group of them: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present” (Abraham Lincoln).

      • Somite says:

        Clearly this definition does not apply because global warming is an empirical observation and all the data indicates it is due to increased atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases.

        Denying the data and offering conspiratorial or unlikely interpretations is simply denying to accept the scientific conclusion.

      • tmac57 says:

        Instead of treating this discussion as some sort of rhetorical fencing match,I suggest that you reflect on the consequences of you defending the ‘AGW skeptic’ position if they turn out to be (as I believe they certainly will) in the wrong.
        The potential for harm is so great and long lasting,that future generations will have tremendous hatred for those who willfully blocked urgent action for personal political and financial gain.And even if you personally aren’t gaining anything from this,you will not be forgiven,because as they say,”if you are not part of the solution,you are part of the problem”.
        There may be some unanswered questions in climate science,but it is crystal clear to anyone who spends a little time looking in to the science,that there is a tremendous amount of robust data supporting AGW,that cannot and has not been explained away with the likes of nonsense found on WUWT or the GWPF et al.
        It’s good to take information with a grain of salt,but you don’t seem to apply the same standard to the ‘dogma’ coming from the denial side of this issue.
        If the worst happens,and we are not able to turn AGW around,then there will be a ‘day of reckoning’ for you,and if you have any kind of conscience at all,you will have ask yourself “What have I done?”,but you won’t be able to say “Nobody told me”.

      • Markx says:

        Thanks Tmac.

        This is something of a personal quest for knowledge and understanding. And yes, I have spent quite a bit of time on the “Sceptical Science” blog, it is very well, and patiently run. There are a lot of crackpot theories and uneducated concepts in the comments area muddying the waters (yes, from the ‘denier’ side, I’m keeping bad company) but anything nearly reasonable is discussed in depth.

        I really don’t think I am influencing the direction of the politics or science (ah, that I were so powerful and influential).

        The science and the process should be much more open than it is. Attempts to stifle debate and publication bias do not help the AGW case in this time of abundant (too much?) information. (and before you counter me on that please do go and read a few emails)

      • As Somite said. It’s NOT an apt usage of the word. As for things like the East Anglia emails, I don’t totally defend them, but given deniers posing as “skeptics,” I don’t totally blame them, and understand the mindset.

      • Markx says:

        So it’s not “An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, ….considered to be absolutely true.”?

        Great, the topic must still be open to debate then!

  20. Markx says:

    Ice core Data (Antarctic) published 2000. 420,000 years BP

    Primarily the debate is pro AGW theories, the charts are worth a ‘skeptical’ glance, the last paragraph is interesting.

    In part: “Temperatures could increase rapidly, and then decrease just as rapidly–as they have repeatedly over the past 420,000 years.”

  21. Markx says:

    Sorry, forgot link:

    Ice core Data (Antarctic) published 2000. 420,000 years BP

    Primarily the debate is pro AGW theories, the charts are worth a ‘skeptical’ glance, the last paragraph is interesting.

    In part: “Temperatures could increase rapidly, and then decrease just as rapidly–as they have repeatedly over the past 420,000 years.”

    • Markx says:

      I’m a little surprised no-one has commented on this.

      It is interesting in that the disaster scenario focused on is that overheating will melt the polar ice, the influx of fresh water shifts or shuts down the thermohaline circulation, which then triggers the next ice age.

    • MadScientist says:

      You are conflating ‘rapidly’ on a geologic scale (thousands of years) with ‘rapidly’ on a generational scale (decades). You say that temperatures can just as easily drop because there have been declines in the past but you offer no evidence whatsoever that such a scenario is likely.

      • Markx says:

        MadScientist, that last line is simply a quote from site in the link. I myself see no evidence that we are suddenly going to get cold, and find it hard to imagine what may trigger such an event.

        Cessation of circulation of sea currents would seems to me to be self limiting (the poles would get cooler, but surely then equatorial areas would get hotter).

        It is something of a distraction from the discussion, but I found the charts interesting in putting temperature fluctuations into the long term context.

      • Markx says:

        more from that site (link below):

        “…the current interglacial period is the longest on record. The current interglacial is also unique in that maximum temperatures have not increased above +2C relative to the mid-20th century benchmark (0C) for very long. It would appear that the +2C threshhold must be exceeded for some period of time to initiate a new glacial phase. Or perhaps the threshold is +1C, but for a longer period of time….”

  22. Barry says:

    “[The United States] refused to sign the treaty as it clearly had more to do with politics than with science.”

    Eh? I don’t recall Dubya’s cost-benefit analysis. More like denial of AGW, along with anything else that doesn’t fit ideology. (see also: the next president of the US).

  23. Mark says:

    This is the frustrating thing of the skeptical movement these days. There are still many who do not understand the science behind climate change, who are ignorant of the facts are those who are ideologically incapable of seeing beyond their limited world view. Yet most of the discussions are on the easy targets of creationists, homeopaths and the like.

    This is the issue that needs to be addressed. The number of people who call themselves skeptics and are nothing more than pseudo-skeptics/denialists/whatever the phrase of the day is astonishing.

    Here is an issue that most likely will have tremendous impact on most people on this planet and we spend most of our time ridiculing creationists, getting angry at ice-cream shop owners and guys in elevators.


  24. d brown says:

    At the rate co2 is going into the seas I don’t think there is time for a treaty to matter. It looks like that in much less than a hundred years the seas will be so acidic that its life will die. Then most of us will. This has happened in the far past. The only thing I can see working is taking the co2 out of the atmosphere. With a tax on every thing sold that puts co2 into the air when made, paying for artificial “trees” that use a base solution like lye. This is known to work. The base combines with co2 and make a new safe mineral powder. BUT WE MUST START MAKING MANY FAST.

  25. tmac57 says:

    El wrongo maybe?

    • tmac57 says:

      That was supposed to be for Madscientist’s question about statements that are contrary to fact.Something went haywire…damn IPAD!

      • Markx says:

        Ha. Yep, IPads are wonderfully convenient for reading internet information, but pretty useless when posting replies or answering emails.

  26. Somite says:

    I have been neglecting to link the XKCD that best describes this type of conversations:

    • Markx says:

      Ha ha. Pretty good!

      But remember, you do not have Einstein behind you,

      Instead you have Mann, Jones and Trenberth ….

    • Somite says:

      I think this is an interesting point. The people behind the observations and conclusions should be irrelevant. A common thread in these conversation is the personalization of the scientists, or the scientific establishment at large, as dishonest rather than looking at the data. Clearly there is no data that backs up the denier claims.

      • Markx says:

        Yes, it is probably fortunate that we could not read Einstein’s emails (or those of many other historic figures.

        It certainly changes the nature of the debate.

        Whether that is a good or bad thing in this case, only time will tell. It would have been wonderful for the AGW case if the emails had revealed clear thinking, unbiased, science focussed, open minded debate, instead of the normal petty behaviour of normal humans. But then, no-one would have bothered to release those, and no doubt what we have is cherry picked, and is being cherry picked again.

        Someone feels very strongly about this though, playing a very long game, releasing the second set of emails two years after the first.

      • Somite says:

        It did. There’s only about two sentences that can be misconstrued out of context as inappropriate. Deniers had to engage in some serious cherry picking to create the appearance of impropriety.

  27. Speaking of the East Anglia emails, the “non-barking dog” question is, WHO hacked the servers to get at the emails? They were leaked from a Russian site, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but might … given previous statements by Putin, among others.

    • Markx says:

      You may be on to something there –

      Take a look at a map, the amount of Russian land around 50th parallel North is astounding.

      I’m sure Mr Putin hopes AGW is indeed proceeding as hoped.

      • tmac57 says:

        More likely,he doesn’t want anything to hurt his oil revenues.They could also be just hired guns,like the denial of service virus operators.

      • oldebabe says:

        Siberia is indeed vast geographically, and there are places already `available’ that are marginally economically exploited/developed, but little peopled. IMO it would take many decades for mid-northern areas to become productive agriculturally, if that is what you are intimating as Putin’s `hope’.

      • Oh, you’re right. But, since Markx, contra his claim to be on a science search, by his own words, doesn’t even understand the greenhouse gas effect, or pooh-poohs its reality:

        I just can’t come to terms with the idea that a conveniently measurable and traceable and calculable and taxable and tradable molecule which exists as a trace gas can be exerting such large physical effects.

        He is simply not going to understand geological science related to climate change either.

        And, yes, Markx, I just called you ignorant.

        Here’s the reality of the greenhouse gas effect.

        Svante Arrhenius is behind “us,” too, and was 100 years ago.

      • Markx says:

        Thanks Socratic, for that link, he was an amazing man.

        Ionic theory, definitions for acids and bases, the concept of activation energy, then later on to Immunochemistry, geology (the origin of ice ages), astronomy, physical cosmology, and astrophysics. Truly an amazing mind.

        His interest in Carbon dioxide levels was as an explanation for the ice ages.

        “If the quantity of carbonic acid in the air should sink to one-half its present percentage, the temperature would fall by about 4°; … to one-quarter would reduce the temperature by 8°. … doubling of the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air would raise the temperature of the earth’s surface by 4°; and … increased fourfold, the temperature would rise by 8°.”

        Later: Arrhenius estimated that halving of CO2 would decrease temperatures by 4–5 °C (Celsius) and a doubling of CO2 would cause a temperature rise of 5–6 °C.

        In his 1906 publication, Arrhenius adjusted the value downwards to 1.6 °C (including water vapour feedback: 2.1 °C).

      • Markx, you deliberately overlook the scientific nose in front of your face. 100 years ago, Arrhenius also investigated how CO2 could cause global warming. Just like on the Venus comment above, you try to claim it’s temperature is *all* due to pressure.

        Nope. Simply not true. And science calculates for that.

        You’re a grade-A denier.

      • Markx says:

        Thanks Socratic! I was sure I ws only a B+!

        But I don’t classify myself as an AGW denier;

        More of a mild warmist, with a total lack of faith in the true motivations and ability of the international organisations to actually modify anything except their power over people and the money in some bank accounts.

      • Markx says:

        No, I don’t think it is just pressure, and I do accept that molecules will absorb energy at certain characteristic wavelengths.

        But Venus is a difficult comparison:

        The temperature at the surface is 740 K.

        Atmosphere is 96.5% carbon dioxide, 3.5% Nitrogen. (its total nitrogen content is roughly four times that of Earth’s!).

        The opaque clouds are sulphuric acid.

        The whole atmosphere circles the planet in just four Earth days.

        Venus lacks a magnetic field.

        Despite the harsh conditions on the surface, the atmospheric pressure and temperature at about 50 km to 65 km above the surface of the planet is nearly the same as that of the Earth, making its upper atmosphere the most Earth-like area in the Solar System.

  28. RalphNader says:

    I’m glad Canada has shown some leadership on this file. Record levels of C02 no statistically signifigant warming, no year hotter than 1998 looks like the idea that more c02 causes more heat is a very tenuous proposition.

  29. Markx says:

    For those interested in emails: A detailed account here by Steven Hayward, The Weekly Standard:

    • tmac57 says:

      Long on opinion,and very short on supporting material.I would like to see an analysis by an actual non-partisan group,that includes climate scientists who can interpret the text,and see the examples of so called wrong doing,put into the proper context.No cherry picking this time please!
      By the way,the author seems to be already making excuses why not many people will really be interested in this new batch.Does he know something that we don’t,for example,there really isn’t much there?Just a thought…we will see,I guess.

      • Markx says:

        But it looks bad for them, long on politics and predetermined agendas, short on science, great focus on finding curves that fit, apparently short on physics (cherry picked?).

        But the onus of putting things in context is now put upon them. I suspect they will simply choose to rely on time and a short media attention span to solve the problem.

      • tmac57 says:

        But you are basing that statement on the unproven assumptions that:
        1.They were basing their conclusions on politics.
        2.That they had a predetermined agenda.
        3.That their science fell short.
        4.That they were fitting their data to match curves (I assume you meant curves that they predetermined/matched a model?)
        5.That they aren’t sufficiently utilizing,or don’t understand the principles of physics of climate change.
        6.Are cherry picking their data to match their conclusions.
        Every bit of that is projection by AGW deniers,because that is EXACTLY what the deniers are doing,and turning around and accusing legitimate climate scientists of the same thing.Completely laughable and ironic.
        No Markx,the onus is on the deniers to show that any of their charges are true,and furthermore,they have to produce legitimate science to show just where, and how they are right,and thousands of climate scientists worldwide got it so wrong.

      • Markx says:

        You stated they were out of context, the appearance is not very good, should they want to rectify that they may want to provide context.

        Agendas are set by a few; it does not require some grand conspiracy involving every climate scientist in the world. A few people in power and their organisations are able to direct people’s efforts as they will. (Godwin’s Law precludes me from going further).

        The great interest in creating historical curves seems to be a search for “hockey stick graphs”, with a few side excursions to ‘get rid’ of the MWP. But then eventually it becomes a question of how far back do you wish to go:

        Re the application of the physics, no doubt there are some great minds behind it, but in the end it comes down to the application of the models.

        Cherry picking data? Probably the wrong phrase. Let’s just say almost all researchers focus their attention on the research which will attract acclaim, and funding. Almost all researchers will tend to go down the path which ‘proves’ their concepts/theories.

        It is perhaps a little easier to receive acclaim and funding (and apparently to be published) if you are in the ‘correct camp’ in this case.

      • tmac57 says:

        Now,turn your skepical eye around,and apply those same metrics to the people and organizations behind the opposition to the idea of AGW.Wouldn’t you love to read THEIR emails?I know I would.

      • Somite says:

        Marx: the graphs in that blogpost represent 1 set of data of a specific geographic location. The appropriate averaged graph for the planet (or at least the northern hemisphere) is here

        Note also that the blogpost includes some graphs on a geologic scale that include timeframes when humans haven’t even evolved yet and less so develop a civilization.

      • Markx says:

        Thanks Somite, but he only goes back one thousand years.

        Re human presence (or lack thereof) I think that is the point of the longer duration graphs. Substantial changes were afoot without our help.

        The more recent charts are Greenland ice cores. The 420,000 year one is Antarctic.

      • Somite says:

        I never understood that faulty contrarian logic. Just because there are well understood natural forcings it doesn’t mean that man-made forcings are not real or unimportant.

        In fact the relative importance of current forcings has been investigated and the latest conclusion is that at least 74% is of man-made origin.

        Those out of scale graphs do not reflect the current rate of warming which is unprecedented in the past 1k years.

  30. Markx says:

    Anyway, here is another worry for you:

    Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia, “…… for more than 90 pc of the last two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder, than today.

    The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural cooling is far more to be feared – and will do infinitely more social and economic damage – than the late 20th century phase of gentle warming.”

    By the charts in the link in my post #21 we seem to have nearly had the usual interglacial period. Better start stockpiling coal!

  31. Canman says:

    I’m certainly in favor of devloping IV generation nukes, but I understand that they are not completely developed yet. The current generation might be improvable. When they work right, they are very clean and give us a lot of power that otherwise mostly comes from coal.

    If global warming is going to be a problem, we’re probably going to need a lot of energy to deal with it. Mountian streams drying up and aquafiers getting contaminated by rising sea water probably means desalination plants, which will almost certianly need a lot of energy.

    • Markx says:

      Canman makes a good point, whatever the future holds, with huge populations, clean water is going to be very valuable, and energy requirements will be high. Nuclear power would seem to be the simplest solution.

  32. Somite says:

    Perfect Timing! New “Hockey Stick” Video/Mike Mann in WSJ

    • tmac57 says:

      Thanks for that Somite.I agree,perfectly timed,although you realize that it won’t get through to our friend.Right?

      • Markx says:

        17.52 minutes. I’m not sure I deserved that. (An awfully inefficient way to impart information).

        Mann’s hockey stick and ‘the trick’ (though I agree, much ado about nothing, of more interest are recently released internal emails on doubts about Mann’s data, and on the validity of tree ring data as a measure of temperature).

        Muller’s stuff? Interesting. Some discussion generated there.

        I hoped there would be some words on some recent emails.

      • Markx says:

        Mann does not deal (in this video) with more recent doubts cast on his data:

        (sorry about the ref, it’s the only place these are semi summarized)

      • Markx says:

        I will say this.

        These scientists seem like decent caring people wanting to discuss science in the normal way.

        They would appear to be constrained by being stuck in the apparatus of a huge relentless machine, which is intent on heading in only one direction.

        I believe it is a great pity the politics and intent have swamped the science of these good people.

      • Once again, showing you’re a denialist, if you’re referring to the lying Watt and Watt’s Up for your global warming information.

      • Markx says:

        Advice to the curious (or even to Gadfly):

        Read everything you can, including opposing views of your argument.

      • Somite says:

        No. Read reputable sources of information like review articles in scientific journals or even better peer-reviewed primary research articles.

        This is the data and expert interpretation. The rest is opinion and ideology.

      • Markx says:

        Agreed, Somite.

        It is just a question of how you might go about finding those papers.

        The literature you find tends to depend upon whose viewpoint you are examining.

      • Markx: I’ve read denialist websites enough to know they’re wronger than even a stopped clock. I’ll read more when someone points out something they get right.

  33. Renegade Saint says:

    And what if we can’t make it profitable to save the environment? What if there’s no way for a system based on the endless accumulation of capital to solve this crisis, because it won’t aid in that fundamental goal?

    • tmac57 says:

      Oh,don’t worry,just read all of Markx’s comments above…everything is going to be just fine.Plenty of sunshine and cuddly warmth to keep all of humanity comfy for centuries.Just turn your brain off and go to WUWT,to make yourself feel oh so good about a warmer future.

      • Markx says:

        Well, that’s easy for you to say. NOW I’ve got to go off and deal with world glaciation, which I didn’t realize was imminent until you directed me to the SkepticalScience Little Ice Age page. This then led me to Page et al:

        Some days it’s just one thing after another.

      • tmac57 says:

        I suggest that you look at the summary,then go do some research about what 3 or 4C and possibly more can mean for future climate.One author (I don’t recall who) that I heard interviewed about interglacials of the past,suggested that though our current input of CO2 would delay the onset of glaciation,that it might not be a bad idea to hold a sustantial amount of coal in reserve for future generations,so that they could intentionally raise the CO2 level to ward off increasing global cooling brought on by the natural cycle.Squandering it all now,when we know that we have exceeded safe levels,is dangerous,and short sighted.

      • Markx says:

        Conserving finite resources until a time they may be truly needed is a compelling argument.

        I think Dunning’s last paragraph may correct.

  34. Somite says:

    At least 74% of warming since 1950s due to human activity

  35. Narrow Salvo says:

    Ehh. Whatever your opinion, this is a political post, not a scientific or skeptical one.

  36. Markx says:

    Look, here is where I believe the IPCC, carbon taxes/trading and big business is taking us.

    A lot of rich people are going to get richer; an much larger number of poor people will get poorer or die:

    “…The more the price of food commodities increases, the more money pours into the sector, and the higher prices rise. Indeed, from 2003 to 2008, the volume of index fund speculation increased by 1,900 percent…”,1

    • Yep, and global warming will likely kill *lots of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa.* People who can’t afford to import food from the west.


      That’s exactly what Goldman Sachs has speculated on, you fricking idiot.

      • Markx says:


        I’m not sure I grasp your meaning in the first part of the last sentence. (In the second part: the meaning is quite clear!)

        Re commodity and derivative trading. Mostly it is quite short term, with an eighteen month or so horizon. And companies (and traders) don’t care which way the markets move, as long as the waves keep coming and the tides of money surge in and out.

        It is just as easy to speculate that a market will fall as it is to speculate on one that will rise. I can pick up the phone right now (well, it’s easier these days to light up the trading site on the internet) and sell 10 contracts of corn for March 2012 delivery. (ie 10 x 50,000 bushels). Later I can buy those contracts, the trades offset (in each case someone is on the other side) if the market has fallen I profit, and and no delivery is made. In every trade, someone takes out commissions.

        Further I can trade derivatives based on those markets, or even options on those derivatives.

        It is really one big gaming operation, with the commission takers always winning, and world markets being swayed by the programmed whims of computer trading. The economists will insist a real price is set (somewhere!).

        The only long term position Goldman Sachs can take is to buy up agricultural land, and that is a bit of a no-brainer anyway, with the world population set to double by its projected peak in 2050.

  37. Nathan says:

    1.The slower global warming happens the better.
    2.If Canada can’t manage to curb it’s C02 emissions, then how the hell can we expect India to???
    3.You expect countries to invest in clean energy, but to not use incentives or penalties? What about adjusting for the real cost of dirty power, something private industry and the sacrosanct free market will never correct for? Nonsense, pure effing nonsense.

  38. Michael says:

    Mr Dunning, I am in awe of you for raising the issue of nuclear power. Great stuff. How about taking the bull by the horns and do a sceptical analysis of the hyped-up fear surrounding Fukushima?

  39. Markx says:

    It occurred to me that having belief in the forecasts of our climate scientist actually requires something of an act of faith.

    CERES satellite data (measuring incoming and outgoing energy at the top of the atmosphere) tell us there is an imbalance of 6.4 W m−2.
    Calculations from knowing the absorption spectrum of CO2 is that a doubling CO2 would account for 3.4 W m−2.

    But, from the ‘known’ amount of recent global warming (partially dependant of tree ring data) the amount of energy imbalance ‘required’ is estimated to be only 0.85 ± 0.15 W m−2 (Hansen et al. (2005)).

    It is the models, with their programmed in physics, forcings, fudge factors, and offsets which then tell us that CO2 is the main culprit.

    To have absolute faith in the predictions means one has to either completely understand the intricacies of the many models put forward….
    …or simply have absolute faith.

    Such fervour is surely to be admired.

    • Somite says:

      No faith involved. The increased levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and unprecedented temperature increases in the past 1,0000 years are empirical observations.

      Models are used to try to predict the outcome of this conditions. Not having a model only means we have to plan blind to the worst possible outcome. Models are actually on the side of policy contrarians.

    • tmac57 says:

      And finally,please watch this video,made by a former AGW skeptic and conservative Republican,who finally got the blinders off:

      That is what real skepticism looks like.

    • Rather, conspiracy theorists, including those who believe in the conspiracy theory that climate scientists are a cult making massive profits off their scientific investigations, are those who are engaged in acts of faith.

      • Markx says:

        “Massive profits”?? I don’t think so.

        Ah, Socratic, you over estimate the price of a scientist in today’s market.

        While the highest tier might get highly paid speaking appointments, the vast majority will work for a little funding, the promise of publication, and the hope of being cited in later literature. That would imply future funding, then possibly, just possibly, a little fame.

        Add in the disincentives for publishing the ‘wrong stuff’ (scorn, derision, exclusion from publication), and you’ve really got ‘em for peanuts.

      • tmac57 says:

        But of course,in your fantasy world,the brave AGW ‘skeptical’ scientists like Plimer,or Spencer,are beyond being bribed by the financial backers behind them.

      • Markx says:

        Nah, I accept there are a lot of ratbags on the ‘denier’ side.

        Having a little trouble with the pure hearts, selfless motivation, only for the good of the world from the AGW side though. Some of those guys just look and sound shifty. I’d be careful about buying a used car from Michael Mann, for instance.

      • tmac57 says:

        Well,if you accept that both side could have the same influences,then quit trying to use that as a reason for mistrusting ONLY the AGW side of the issue.That comes off as intellectual dishonesty.
        The cards are still stacked 97 to 3 in favor of the AGW theory.

  40. Somite says:

    Michael Mann’s latest TED talk. Addresses the modeling question quite thoroughly!

  41. Markx says:

    Fascinating and nicely done site exploring historical research here, up to the present.

    (very pro AGW, some will be pleased to know), regards the matter as ‘proven’ since about 2005.

    To the men of faith who simply *knew* before that date, congratulations.

    Interesting is the amount of debate and ‘skeptical research’ which followed Svante Arrhenius’ original theories, then the debate following Callendar’s excellent theorizing in the 1940’s, where although mistaken about the arrival of global warming, his conclusion is described as a “fortunate mistake”.

    Even today two most prominent climate scientists on the planet disagree about whether or not the warming imbalance due to aerosols reflecting more heat into space (Hansen) or whether the ‘missing heat’ is in the ocean (Trenbert). They also disagree as to the extent of the current energy imbalance.

    Nothing sinister about that, but it does seem that debate is still warranted.

    Today, what differs is the attempt to warp the science up and stifle the debate, with the involvement of our political and financial ‘masters’, who have declared the matter closed.

    What is heartening is the massive array of sensors now in place to monitor future changes.

    We simply have to hope the will of our leaders does not result in any ‘untoward adjustments’ of the data so gathered.

    • Markx says:

      Meaning changing typo, third last paragraph should read “wrap the science up”!!

    • Debate over the details of thermal flow or similar things is FAR different than debate over AGW. Shifting the goalposts.

      • Creationists use the same tactics when evolutionary biologists disagree over details of evolution, to claim that evolutionary theory is wrong, collapsing, unscientific, falling apart, etc.

      • Markx says:

        Socratic, perhaps you did not read it.

        It is a historical summary of theorizing and research regarding the concepts of the “greenhouse effect” and global warming. Thought some may find it interesting.

        I don’t think I made any argument out of it. More of a comment, really.

  42. Adriel says:

    skepticblog? I agree with Narrow Salvo. How is this a skeptical blog? This is a political argument, not a scientific or skeptical one. I can get this crap from other sites (and the BS comments that follow)… This is NOT why I subscribed to this skepticblog.

  43. SurferDoc says:

    Is there any skepticism here at all? Ah yes, skeptical of the deniers…great.