Sunday, March 4, 2012


Continuation of thread on "Heartlandgate".



We had some problem with having comments published due to unknown software problems of blogspot, who free service we greatly appreciate.
But now, several comments simply disappeared, not into the spam box and not deleted by moderators. we presume this is related to the large number of comments - so that we now ask the commenters on Klimazwiebel to continue on this thread.

137 comments:

eduardo said...

Comment by Roddy,

Part I

Barry - thanks. I got the 'furphy' reply, by email and it's on the blog.

It's a bit difficult to have a detailed conversation in this format, and revisit what one said three comments ago etc, so it's a bit disjointed, I'll answer yours.

The press release from IPCC illustrates my furfy concern, that a Greenpeace energy economist will likely produce something extreme. And he did. And the release is designed to give the impression that an 80% renewable provision is plausible, a 20% absolute cut in energy consumption also. And a press release is for the press. And the opening sentence gave them their article hook.

'Do you reckon that optimistic headline is going to interfere with policy-making? Or do you think it highlights a lack of impartiality on the part of the IPCC?' - Both. Perhaps 'indicates' over 'highlights'. The effect of that report that sticks in the minds of voters is that renewables can supply 80%. IPCC led with the least sober scenario. I can't speculate why, but they did. The only excuse for that press release that works is a press officer whose pay is mistakenly linked to column inches.

It's only one episode, but illustrative of my earlier point that IPCC should be careful employing Greenpeace economists, furfy or no. That they led with it upset me.

Re follow-up, he's called Teske. He was lead author on this Greenpeace report, this links to the press release: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/climate/2010/summary.pdf , this to the report: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/climate/2010/fullreport.pdf .

His projections for IPCC seem based on this work. From Greenpeace web-site 'Sven Teske, Greenpeace International Climate & Energy Campaigner said, “Our global energy concept means, that the investment volume for new power plants until 2030 will be in a range of 300-350 billion dollars per year – almost equal to the amount of money currently spent on subsidies for fossil fuels.' That's just ignorant/biased, read the IEA report on which it is based. 90%+ of those 'subsidies' are fossil-fuel producing countries paying a dividend to their populations in the form of prices lower than world prices rather than cash payments of their share of the oil/gas, eg Nigeria.

For you, Skeptical Science cover it here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=824 , saying 'in reality it's not even a terribly aggressive target from a technological standpoint.' Hmmm.

I was talking before about your 'anti-science' movement. We're anti this stuff, this stuff is what helps cause the backlash we've seen.

End of Part I

Roddy

eduardo said...

Comment by Roddy

Part II

'I think you mean 1C per doubling, the response to forcing if there are no feedbacks' - yes, fat finger or fat brain.

'Why do you struggle with their being a concensus on sensitivity? There is a range of values, from zero to 10C, and the majority of scientific opinion clusters around 3C per doubling.'

Yes, I know. I can't take you/them on on this on science grounds, I couldn't possibly. I may be suffering from the M-A M-C W-M syndrome I admitted to previously as well, and simply dont want to believe it. I hesitate to quote Lindzen to you, but do you find his criticisms of the consensus groundless? Here's his presentation to UK Parliament the other day. http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02148/RSL-HouseOfCommons_2148505a.pdf

'Tell me, how much credence should I give to those people telling me impacts will certainly be minimal?' - too general a question for me, I don't know who has plausibly forecast that? Most of 'us' say we don't know, but suspect the published lit is probably too alarmist and one-sided. One thing 'we' do all say is that man's non-climatic impacts are factors larger. The dolly example again being malaria, but can apply to agricultural yields as well (ie starvation). We might argue that having electricity in Africa and China likely brings more benefits to man than the resultant climate change impacts, and that these benefits are not counted in the literature. To give the sort of emotive example Greenpeace might use, if my child develops a brain aneurism as a result of fossil fuels I have 24/7 top-quality free hospital treatment a few hundred yards away. South Africans don't.

'Roger Pielke Snr said it best - it's not because we know what is going to happen that we should move to mitigate CO2 emissions; it's that we DON'T know.' I don't want to get into the Precautionary Principle. Too big.

'The concensus among economists (who have studed and published on the matter) estimating a range of scenarios is that mitigating will be more cost effective than adapting in the long run.' - you say that, and in the UK we have the Stern Report arguing that. I don't agree with it, but am not capable of counter-publishing, I wish I were. It seems based on presumptions of knowledge I simply don't accept, consensus or no. To take an example away from ACC, but relevant because economics, after WW2 the consensus that UK should go back on the gold standard was 99%, Keynes opposing. the consensus was wrong. It assumed knowledge of near-term economics (a simpler task surely than global impacts over 50 years of sensitivity, impacts, and human development?) that was wrong.

I now have to do my economics homework, I'm doing a Masters so I can argue this shit more effectively!

Rgds, Roddy

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

I'm not receiving email alerts (I automatically opt out of those), so probably missed some of your comments. Sorry.

You keep referring to a press release as a 'report', when you have compared it to an actual, detailed, scientific report. Can we use precise language about what each is, to avoid muddying the waters?

That press release did not make the MSM as far as I could google, so it appears it wouldn't have stuck in the minds of voters - except that the outraged skeptic blog machine elevated it's profile, where it did eventually make the mainstream media - where commentators further expressed outrage over it. I also found non-outraged web pages citing the press release - a small handful of minor green blogs.

It is very likely none of the critics will have sat down and examined the scenario for plausibility. They will have had, like you, a gut reaction ("this can't be right") and then focussed their critique on the authorship.

So what's happened here is that an obscure press release has been heralded by the skeptiverse, where you have come across it, and the resulting narrative in your mind is that a propagandistic document was disseminated throughout the media and into the thoughts of voters in the US/the English-speaking world/the world.

The clamour the skeptic mill raises is almost always way out of proportion to, if not disconnected from, the matters it raises.

I was hoping you would provide the IPCC reference (it's ok, I found it), but instead you provided the greenpeace reference. I checked it the issue out.

Teske was lead author (one of half a dozen) on a couple of papers, one of which was peer-reviewed, and that paper was a reference for parts of the four scenarios in WGIII. Thing is, that paper also contributes to the scenario of the other 'extreme' of the largest grwoth of CO2 by 2050.

http://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/report/IPCC_SRREN_Ch10.pdf (p 815)

So, how does that information impact your view of this issue?

Furthermore, the two 'extremes' are only representative of four categries - more 'extreme' scenarios were not written by Teske or greenpeace.

And while Teske was a lead author on WGIII, so were reps from the fossil fuel industry. Of course, no one in the skeptiverse cried foul on that. Greenpeace is a red flag. Petroleum reps aren't. Why? Because the outcry is not based on ethical notions of conflict of interests (putting the best spin on it - the whole Terske issue is ad hominem), but on creating controversy and doubt.

All that said, I agree that the headline for the press release gave undue weight to an optmistc scenario. (That's not Teske's fault) On balance, however, this, and other examples like it, pale in comparison to the outright distortions of science and smear campaigns of the skeptical machine. This thread would soon be overloaded if I started citing the myriad unambiguous examples out there.

(We've strayed from the Gleick/Heartland topic, but if no one else minds....)

barry

Rob Dekker said...

eduardo (Roddy)

I took this sentence at the heart of your post, and have a few remarks and questions that may be relevant :

And the release is designed to give the impression that an 80% renewable provision is plausible, a 20% absolute cut in energy consumption also.

If you are arguing that a 80% provision is NOT plausible (by mid-century) then it may be good to cite some evidence for your opinion.

If your argument is that the cost of obtaining that goal (which, I think was estimated by the IPCC WGIII as less than 0.1 % of annual GDP growth reduction) is prohibitive or inaccurate or both, then please provide evidence for that opinion as well.

And if you feel that the press release should not have mentioned the upper range of what we can achieve at that (marginal) cost, then please tell us what you think the press release SHOULD have said.

Either way, your opinion that the goal or the press release is "extreme" seems entirely void of evidence, and dragging in the irrelevant fact that the person who wrote the press release happened to work for Greenpeace seems therefore rather ad hominem.

Regarding Lindzen (and climate sensitivity) you write : I hesitate to quote Lindzen to you, but do you find his criticisms of the consensus groundless?

Well, when Lindzen states (in that presentation to the UK Parliament)
The evidence is that the increase in CO2 will lead to very little warming
then one may ask him how much is "little" and which scientific evidence he presents to sustain his opinion. If he mentions his latest Lindzen and Choi 2009 paper (which was heavily hyped on Fox News by Monckton as "the end of the AGW scam"), then maybe he forgot Trenberth 2010, which points out the numerous fundamental flaws in Lindzen and Choi 2009, including severe cherry-picking, extrapolating conclusions, not to mention the egregious mistake of counting 'black-body' radiation as 'negative feedback' in the climate sensitivity formula. All fundamental scientific mistakes which Lindzen (to his credit) himself later admitted to.

So, maybe indeed you should "hesitate to quote Lindzen" in the future.

Anonymous said...

Two posts in a row didn't make it.

Test.

(could be the divine intertubes telling me I need to get out more)

barry

Anonymous said...

@ Dekker

The latest Lindzen and Choi paper is this one here (2011) ...

http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/236-Lindzen-Choi-2011.pdf

In their introduction the authors state:

"In a recent paper (Lindzen and Choi, 2009) we attempted to resolve these issues though, as has been noted in subsequent papers, the details of that paper were, in important ways, also incorrect (Chung et al., 2010; Murphy, 2010; Trenberth et al., 2010). There were four major criticisms to Lindzen and Choi (2009): (i) incorrect computation of climate
sensitivity, (ii) statistical insignificance of the results, (iii) misinterpretation of air-sea interaction in the Tropics, (iv) misuse of uncoupled atmospheric models. The present paper responds to the criticism, and corrects the earlier approach where appropriate.
The earlier results are not significantly altered, and we show why these results differ from what others like Trenberth et al. (2010), and Dessler (2010) obtain."

Maybe you try to read the paper first before judging from hearsay its "numerous fundamental flaws" (not to mention the ones committed by the critics).

V. Lenzer

Hans von Storch said...

Barry/5 - there was only one post in the spam-box; not sure if it was yours. I released it. - Hans

MikeR said...

Yeah, let me just echo what Lenzer says here. I haven't read Lindzen's papers, don't plan to. But when you bring his papers, then say that such-and-so proved them wrong, and he admitted it! So we shouldn't listen to him any more - well, you lose me. The man is a physicist at MIT, with a list of papers and honors a mile long. He is obviously a very accomplished person. If some of his work needs correction, that's how science goes. If the same thing were true about some researcher who believes in AGW, you would say that "The corrections were minor and don't really affect anything; the overall results remain true." As a matter of fact, I hear exactly that a lot.

The only explanation I can come up with as to why you would so dismiss an obviously accomplished physicist is that he is your enemy, on the wrong team. (Of course, he could be an evil villain, bought by oil companies, and maybe that's how you approach it.) But I'm sorry: This is exactly the wrong impression you want to give me, if you want me to be believe that your side are objective scientists.

Please stop. Let the scientists do science, including Lindzen. Tell them to stop treating each other as devils. As they learn more, these things will work themselves out, and the type of consensus will develop which doesn't require badmouthing people.

Roddy said...

Hi, Barry.

We’ve strayed a little bit, but still on the who smears, lies, exaggerates etc thought line.
I’m not very Google-alert for historic searching – I saw it in The Guardian at the time http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/may/09/ipcc-renewable-energy-power-world and BBC had it http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13337864 (may have been web news only, dunno) but maybe you’re right, no-one really notices/publicises this stuff except Greenpeace and outraged sceptics.
I read page 815 and surrounding, and don’t understand your point? Me being thick prob.
Re Greenpeace / Shell economists etc – The thought process in this particular example was – ‘crikey, that’s a hell of a headline, 80% by renewables and a 20% cut in consumption, I wonder who could have written that, deeply unrealistic surely’ and then weeks later it turns out to have been someone from Greenpeace.
Mark Lynas, ex Greenpeace, still green, is he a bogeyman doubtmeister to you? He wrote various pieces on http://www.marklynas.org at the time.
I get your point, except I’m not sure the whole Teske thing is just ad hom (or ad org to be more accurate). The IPCC did choose to lead with this scenario, and so by strong implication validated it – it wasn’t just one of x00 peer-reviewed papers in the field they were compelled to consider, right?
If anyone believes we will cut energy consumption by 20% in the next 40 years they need their head examined (imho imho), ditto if they feel able to suggest that solar could be 1/3 of that unless it’s just a pure hypothetical, so I’m still not sure how a sober aggregator and considerer of the lit managed to put it out front?
What are your thoughts on my Lindzen etc questions to you, re my acceptance of a statistical consensus?
Gotta hop, tutorial, I’ll come back later to answer Rob’s points.

Roddy said...

Rob –

‘If you are arguing that a 80% provision is NOT plausible (by mid-century) then it may be good to cite some evidence for your opinion.’ – slightly can’t be arsed, it’s just so implausible. Perhaps the jobbing backwards evidence might help – the only person who has suggested that is from Greenpeace, and it’s the most extreme scenario out there. No-one else thinks it’s likely/possible. It would require technological advances and GDP cuts (and growth forgone) of a unacceptable nature. Will that do?
‘If your argument is that the cost of obtaining that goal (which, I think was estimated by the IPCC WGIII as less than 0.1 % of annual GDP growth reduction) is prohibitive or inaccurate or both, then please provide evidence for that opinion as well.’ – that’s tougher. If they actually said that 80% of energy consumption could be supplied by renewables at a cost of 1/10 of one percent of GDP then they’re insane. Even the Stern Report, not directly comparable but relevant, had more realistic numbers.

‘And if you feel that the press release should not have mentioned the upper range of what we can achieve at that (marginal) cost, then please tell us what you think the press release SHOULD have said.’ – shouldn’t have led with it, and over-emphasised it, to the virtual exclusion of the other by definition more realistic scenarios. Gave inaccurate impression of the actual report, of the literature and inputs, and diminishes IPCC reputation. Simple.

‘So, maybe indeed you should "hesitate to quote Lindzen" in the future.’ I was discussing with Barry, as part of a continuing conversation, the nature of consensus, and asking him whether he found any of Lindzen’s comments on the consensus relevant or interesting. Difficult not to use the word ‘Lindzen’ when asking that question. I tried. I wrote ‘Satsuma’, but Barry wouldn’t have realised I meant ‘Lindzen’.

Anonymous said...

Roddy, allow me to point out that the Teske-paper contained one author from Greenpeace, the others were not.

Allow me also to point out that there are even more optimistic scenarios, which were written by people who were not related to Greenpeace at all. Take for example these twin papers:
http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/JDEnPolicyPt1.pdf
http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/DJEnPolicyPt2.pdf
You'll find they propose 100% (yes, that is 100%) of energy production in 2050 by renewables. Not a fossil fuel in sight. 23% more than the 'Teske'-scenario.

Bam

Roddy said...

Must be feasible then! :) Shame the IPCC didn't headline with that.

On the 'Greenpeace' paper, which seems similar to the IPCC version, is that fair?, the authors were Teske and Zervos and Schafer, both EREC.

Do you believe this stuff? 'We find that the cost of energy in a 100% WWS will be similar to the cost today.' (The Stanford paper). Those silly Chinese, building coal stations under the misapprehension that it's better value electricity.

Anonymous said...

Roddy, arguments from incredulity do not make much of an impression on me.

Also, what is possible, most logical, and what is decided by politics are often three completely separate entities.

"Political will" is not just a buzzword, but something very real.

Bam

Roddy said...

Bam - 'do you believe this stuff?' was the question. I'm incredulous, certainly, but do you think it's feasible? Either the Stanford or the Teske scenario?

And do you think that our lack of '720,000 0.75MW wave devices, and 490,000 1MW tidal turbines' is a matter of lack of 'political will'?

Or is it possible that these things don't exist on any economically reasonable basis, that they exist only in academic papers? Along with most of the rest of the Stanford stuff - for which thank you, it was interesting reading.

I guess they're projecting technological advances that don't yet neaarly exist, let's hope they will do.

Rob Dekker said...

Roddy (eduardo?) said :
it’s just so implausible. Perhaps the jobbing backwards evidence might help – the only person who has suggested that is from Greenpeace, and it’s the most extreme scenario out there. No-one else thinks it’s likely/possible. It would require technological advances and GDP cuts (and growth forgone) of a unacceptable nature.

You (again) are throwing out a lot of assertions without providing evidence.

The IPCC WG III wrote a very detailed report on what is achievable and how, and at which cost.

Other studies (bam mentioned the Stanford study) obtain more agressive goals at a higher initial investment cost that the IPCC scenarios.

So, your assertion that "only person who has suggested that is from Greenpeace" is false, just like your assertion that "it’s the most extreme scenario out there" is false.

Furthermore, the complete absense of evidence to support your own assertions against the findings detailed in these reports and studies, as well as your unsubstantiated ad hominem against a Greenpeace employee is a good indication that you would rather base your opinions on pre-conceived beliefs and predudice rather than evidence obtained by reason and scientific methods.

Regarding your statement : It would require technological advances and GDP cuts (and growth forgone) of a unacceptable nature., again, you mention no evidence on which you base these assertions.

You DO mention the Stern report, which assesses investment costs at 1 % of annual GDP reduction to obtain CO2 stabilisation at 500-550ppm.

Do you honestly believe that 1 % GDP growth investment cost is of "unacceptable nature" ?

Anonymous said...

The silliness goes on ...

Follow the story of another expert caught on the warpath. Read under "responses" post March 5, 2012 at 8:17 pm, A. Watts ...

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/04/sea-ice-news-volume-3-1-the-arctic-institute-pawns-itself

Here's what the arctic institute says ...

http://www.thearcticinstitute.org/2012/03/message-from-founder-of-arctic.html

At least one member of the institute's staff and one of the contributors are members of the team at FutureChallenges which is an initiative of the Bertelsmann Foundation ...

http://futurechallenges.org/about

This is by no means another "Gleick-Gate".
Humpert's intervention is just too trivial and too clumsy.

Another activist damaging the cause he's believing in by "committing a little fraud to save the world" and claiming that "a rational public debate is desperately needed"?

Rather than a war there is a contagious malady of thought to observe, infecting the brains of maybe well-meaning but misled and desperate environmental activists.

V. Lenzer

Rob Dekker said...

Roddy Bam - 'do you believe this stuff?' was the question. I'm incredulous, certainly, but do you think it's feasible? Either the Stanford or the Teske scenario?

Roddy, it requires very little 'belief' to recognize the economic feasibility of renewables by 2050 if you can free yourself of the political debate and the social and industrial resistance to change.

Take the worst economical example : PV solar. Everything else (especially wind) would be better than this. PV right now costs some $ 2/Watt, and is on its way to reach $ 1 / Watt in the next few years. That is peak power, and if we take 1000 W/m^2 as peak power, then cost of PV is currently some $ 2000/m^2.

In much of the Southern US, we receive some 6-7 kWh/m^2/day
http://www.nrel.gov/gis/solar.html

Over a usefull lifetime of 20 years, this means that the cost per kWh for solar PV right now hovers around 3.9 $cts/kWh.

That is already now below the cost of NatGas, and competes with coal.

And PV is still the WORST of the alternative energy solutions out there. At many places, geothermal and wind and biomass and (small) hydro is much more cost effective.

And here we are not even counting the increase in fossil fuel prices over the next 4 decades, nor the cost of cleaning up other pollutants from coal plants, nor the unevitable peaking of fossil fuels (with oil probably already being there) causing increased fossil fuel prices, nor the technological advancements on PV, energy storage, causing cost reduction of renewables over the next 4 decades.

So, the Stanford study statement that "We find that the cost of energy in a 100% WWS will be similar to the cost today" is likely rather conservative. In the long run (lifetime of plants), renewables probably will be cheaper than fossil fuels, albeit that yes, we DO need to make significant long-term (multiple decades) financial investments and actually do WORK (read : jobs, as in doing 'labor') before they start to 'pay off'.

Roddy said...

Rob, my questions to bam and now you is 'do you believe this stuff?'

Do you believe the Stanford study, or the Teske scenario?

You're allowed to have opinions of your own, it's a conversation.

The Greenpeace-based Teske study was the outlier in the IPCC report being discussed. Of course it's not the most extreme scenario out there, nothing ever is, be reasonable in debate, it's not a 'hah, caught you out there didn't I' game. That conversation arose out of a civil exchange between Barry and me on how / why the sceptic backlash has grown so much - in brief he was ascribing it to Heartland et al, I was saying that impractical (often unbelievable) scenarios being presented as truth, and as necessary policy prescriptions if the world is not to end, had rather more to do with it, and gave the IPCC Teske-led release as an example.

Sure I'm asserting without evidence/cites/proof, I wanted Barry's opinion, and bam's and yours, on whether you think these types of reports (I chose energy decarbonisation as more tractable than climate feedbacks) are credible.

There was no ad hom - that's in your mind. I commented that the scenario in question turned out to be based on a Greenpeace / EREC report/paper/whatever, nothing against Teske. I expect Greenpeace to point in a certain direction, that's not ad hom.

'... a good indication that you would rather base your opinions on pre-conceived beliefs and predudice ....' - for Heaven's sake, I freely stated that I might be suffering from middle-age western white-man syndrome in order to clear that out of the way, that's what I am, a M-A W W-M. We all have opinions, don't we? You, me.

I mentioned the Stern report (which I consider unrealistic, sure) as at least more sober than the 0.10% of GDP quoted by either you or bam, I forget who.

Do I consider 1% of GDP unacceptable? (Did I say that?). I don't think it can be done at that cost, and I don't see the Chinese (growing at 8%+) or the Indians spending very much time on zero/low carbon energy, and they could do it easily on those figures. Perhaps they don't think the numbers add up?

And 1pc is quite a lot. Take a look at what GDP per capita would be over a few decades for a country that grew at 1% less, it's a lot of hospital care and life expectancy. It's far from a trivial number (and, imho, on the low side).

There's a book by David Mackay, Energy Advisor to the UK Departmernt of Climate Change and Energy available free here http://www.withouthotair.com/ which sets out the energy numbers pretty well. 'Everyone who cares about the survival of humanity should read this book. It's packed with facts and statistics about solutions, and shows that we must stop arguing about which is cheapest or best, because we need all of them. I've been reading books about energy and climate change for the last 20 years, and this is the best yet.' - former Executive Director of Greenpeace.

Roddy said...

Rob, re your solar pv comment which I hadn't seen before my last comment.

Thanks.

Having watched the actual output of wind in Western Europe, which as you say is currently cheaper than solar, I'm sceptical (surprise! :) ) of output claims.

I'm a huge fan of technological investment to make something work. I've argued for scrapping most of the pointless FiTs for solar/wind in the UK and spending on R&D. One of the major stumbling blocks is energy storage, no-one's even begun to crack that. There's vast spending in Abu Dhabi on all these things, concentrated solar, salt-based storage and so on.

Geothermal I'm not very familiar with, is it entirely local, in that you need specific conditions? (I looked at ground-source when I built a house, it had beyond infinite payback.) I looked at small hydro then also, in my case it had ecological effects (piping, diversion, habitat).

I don't think you're right on peak fossils, oil certainly you have a case; I went to a seminar the other day with the EU Policy Officer on new energy technologies, inc shale gas, and there is certainly no shortage of that, the US experience and Chinese statements seem to confirm that, and the lng technology and investment is actually happening. And as the price gap widens, lng will sub for oil in transport.

So I don't see dramatic help for electricity renewables in ever-escalating fossil prices, esp nat gas, also coal, forseeable future of a decade or two. This obviously impacts the % of gdp cost of switching considerably.

The other debate is electrification of transport, which I do know something about. Strangely battery technology despite huge R&D on portability, capacity, power etc for pc's and ipads, has not advanced yet as much as one would expect, hence the tech issues of evs. That may be overcome, but whether it can compete economically against lng in the foreseeable future strikes me as doubtful.

That substitution, if it occurs, will require quadrillions more electricity - Monbiot has written well on this, it informs his strong support of nuclear as the only technology that can satisfy CO2 and demand increase.

If solar is already at/below natgas in southern usa, why isn't it being built? Is that grid issues or what?

Anonymous said...

Roddy, I see no reason to not believe that it is possible, technologically and even economically.

When Kennedy said "let's go to the moon", there was a period where 5% of the federal budget was used on that goal alone. The political will was present, which is what made it happen (funny thing is that people weren't sure the technology was mature enough).

Another fun fact: nuclear may be great, probably cheaper than oil and coal (especially when taking health effects into account), but there is a lack of political will there also. For starters, the initial investment to build a nuclear reactor is enormous.

Economic reality at this moment is "fast bucks", with little concern for long term planning. This will come back to haunt us.

Bam

Roddy said...

There is a lack of planning, and, in the UK at any rate, the combination of privatisation, market prices, and absence of a secure regulatory regime on carbon taxes etc, has caused zero capex on generating capacity of any scale at all. Nuclear in particular because of the massive front-end loading needs political will (and floor prices), I agree. By far the cheapest way of meeting Kyoto-style targets though.

here's a fun question for you: which of the big four - oil (no longer), natgas, hydro, and nuclear - electricity generating systems has killed more people, including mining deaths?

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

P 815 shows where Teske's study, that underpinned the 80% scenario highlighted in the press release, also is used for another of the four scenarios at the other 'extreme'. Teske's work doesn't only focus on rosy scenarios. The issue here, if anything, is not the author's affiliation, but that the most optimistic scenario of four (out of 160) highlighted in the IPCC was the headline for an IPCC press release. The press release acknowledges that the scenario headlined is the most optimistic of four in the IPCC chosen to be representative of projected mitigation (or non-mitigation) scenarios.

The headline is the problem, if anything, and nothing else. IPCC's choice of studies and authors is fine - they have authors and studies written by scientists in the petroleum industry - the IPCC is a broad church. Should the IPCC get rid of those as well as the Greenpeace contributors? That would cut out a large pool of expertise.

So the issue might be a bad call for an overzealous sub-editor in the IPCC press room. You've pointed out some MSM articles that picked up the story - acknowledged.

WGII and III are not quite as rigorous as WGI, because there is less material to support the focus in those parts of the report, and much of that is 'grey literature'. Nonetheless, I'd think there was an issue with the way the IPCC presents its findings to the media if this kind of emphasis was normal practise. There are a handful of mistakes in a 3000 page report. There is this press release where the headline is unblanaced. Are there other examples of slanted press releases from the IPCC, or is this it? Is one headline by the IPCC what your opinion rests on?

Of course, the newsy media itself sensationalises in all direntions.

You thought the most optimistic scenario in WGIII was written by Greenpeace. When it was pointed out to you (by me and others) that the study was not the most optimistic in the IPCC, that more optimistic scenarios were developed by other (quite sober) groups not Greenpeace, you focussed again on the Greenpeace-authored scenario and asked if it could be 'believed'. In reply to learning your prior assumption was wrong, you said;

"Must be feasible then! :) shame the IPCC didn't headline with that."

At that point you stopped being serious.

You 'can't be arsed.' Fair enough. It has been good to disagree with a reasonable, affable correspondent.

barry

Anonymous said...

Ah, I see you got serious again.

The Chinese are expanding at a clip, building a bunch of coal powered plants, and they are also investing heavily in renewables. I don't know where they will be 40 years from now. China and India are not the only players in the world.

I do not know if the Teske scenario (or the Stanford) is plausible or feasible (two different things there). I haven't read them. I would be reluctant to offer an opinion on them because I know too little about the topics.

Out of curiosity, have you read either?

barry.

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

forgot to add, I checked out the Lynas piece earlier today and googled around for any responses. There were a number of blog rejoinders to the issue. I think the following is the most balanced revew of the matter

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2011/06/the-ipcc-and-the-srren-report

barry

Roddy said...

hi Barry.

1.30am and my last dinner guest just left so I won't say anything serious - I liked affable/reasonable, thank you. No reason not to be in my book. You too.

I was a trader / fund manager for 30 years, and by the end I'd worked out what made a 'good' person different from a 'bad' person, which was willingness to abandon a position/view that didn't work, I short-handed it to lack of ego (by which I mean low resistance to saying 'you're right'). I vaguely like to think that I'm happier than most to realise that I'm wrong when I'm wrong, and that the most useful thing you can do is discuss things with people who disagree with you. Socratic discourse etc. Then you go away and think about it.

I didn't comment on WG3 did I? - my 'most optimistic' comment was on the renewables report, in which I think (could be wrong) the Teske scenario was the most 'optimistic'?.

I read the Stanford ones, and looked at the pictures and the straplines in the Greenpeace Teske one, I was (perhaps wrongly) put off by the propaganda. I especially enjoyed the indigenous peoples in the Yamal Peninsula, because of Yamal's tree-rings. I think I mentioned the nonsense about fossil-fuel subsidies, which always gets my goat. Dog whistle, and wrong.

China and India I mentioned because they are building new generation and grid hand over fist rather than capex/depreciation fixed grid like the West, and the % of renewables is possibly even lower? Which might say something about the economics I thought, and where the world is going on CO2.

Off to bed. I had The Economist climate change expert to dinner, and we didn't discuss it once. Bother.

Roddy said...

Oh, and I didn't say 'can't be arsed' to you! I wouldn't do that.

And I see what you mean re 'most optimistic', it was the MO of the four representative scenarios, I agree.

I'm genuinely interested in whether you, bam, Rob, think these scenarios are plausible/feasible/practical, we're all voters as it were, we can have a view as non-experts. Take a look at the Mackay book I linked to, it's the best energy book I've read, and he's now a policy-maker which makes it more interesting. And he writes well.

Anonymous said...

Dear mods, I have a couple of posts caught in spam filter.

BTW, my respects to Hans von Storch (and Eduardo Zorita, if he is here) people who actually have some skin in the game. I have read some of your work over the past five years or so.

barry.

Anonymous said...

I was going to ask at realclimate if they'd take on the Lindzen lecture (not, as I had assumed a presentation during a parliamentary sitting of the House of Commons, but in fact a small-scale free seminar in a rented space in the building). But I figured they'd dealt with most of the claims previously and wouldn't be apt to take it up. However, they did write a quick article on one point in his presentation:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/03/misrepresentation-from-lindzen/

barry

Roddy said...

Thanks, yes that looks at best sloppy and at worst devious, I doubt the latter if what Gavin says is correct because it's so easy to be found out and corrected.

Do any of his points resonate with you, or is just wrong about them all?

(I don't think anyone gets to present to the sitting House unless they're Obama. I imagine Lord Lawson or someone booked an important sounding venue.)

Rob Dekker said...

MikeR Yeah, let me just echo what Lenzer says here. I haven't read Lindzen's papers, don't plan to.

Thanks for clarifying the strategy so often employed by self-proclaimed 'skeptics', to avoid discussing science at all cost.

MikeR If some of his work needs correction, that's how science goes. If the same thing were true about some researcher who believes in AGW, you would say that "The corrections were minor and don't really affect anything; the overall results remain true."

Sure, but in the case of Lindzen and Choi 2009 the errors were not 'minor'. In fact they were rather outlandish and egregious, to the point where even Spencer started to object to Lindzen :
http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/11/some-comments-on-the-lindzen-and-choi-2009-feedback-study/

and the mistakes were admitted by Lindzen, but unlike your assertion, they were not 'corrected' either.
In fact, the "lead-and-lag" method in Lindzen and Choi 2011 has cherry-picking built-into the algorithm :
http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/10/lindzen-and-choi-part-ii/#comment-75640


MikeR Please stop. Let the scientists do science, including Lindzen. Tell them to stop treating each other as devils. As they learn more, these things will work themselves out, and the type of consensus will develop which doesn't require badmouthing people.

Mike, I did not "badmouth" anyone. I just pointed out that Lindzen's recent scientific work is full or egregious scientific mistakes, and that his statements in front of the House of Commons (as well as US Congress) do not have any basis in scientific findings.

I appreciate your opinion that "these things will work themselves out", and I really hope they will.

So far, what I see is that if someone writes "hide the decline" in a private email, they climate scientists are accused of "fraud" and "data fudging" on international news networks, and dragged into court by an Attorney Generals and fossil-fuel funded (tax-exempt) charities and subjected to criminal investigations by politicians.
But if a scientist verifiably cherry-picks data, extrapolates conclusions and erroneously counts black-body radiation as a 'feedback' in the climate sensitivity formula, then trumpets these terribly erroneous results as "the end of the AGW scam" on international news networks, and in front of US Congress and the US House of Commons, then we should all just let it go, because he is "he is obviously a very accomplished person" ?

Tell me Mike (and Lenzer), what happened with your sense of skeptical thinking ?
Or your ability to argue scientifically rather than from a position of faith and pre-conceived belief ?

P.S. Barry, thanks for the link to the RC article. It again shows how Lindzen is a master of deception, and also shows that science prevails (at least in facts), no matter how much noise the Murdock media machine is producing.

Rob Dekker said...

To get back to the subject of Heartland-Gate and control of industrials (Anonymous Donor) on the political agenda these 501(c)(3) charities "think-tanks" feed to the world, I'm sure you are all aware that Koch Industries is now suing to obtain majority control over the CATO Institute :
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73494.html

Rob Dekker said...

Interesting, on that very same RC link, we find a comment by our own Alex Harvey, who asks

What exactly do you mean by “get paid for it”?

To which one comment replies :
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/03/misrepresentation-from-lindzen/comment-page-1/#comment-229980

---

Lindzen: “I wish to thank the Campaign to Repeal the Climate Change Act for the opportunity to present my views…”

What does “the opportunity” entail, when one has been invited to cross the ocean by The Campaign to Repeal the Climate Change Act?

Let’s hazard a guess, based on the peculiar emphasis of CRCCA’s energy plan:

1. Cancel the Renewable Obligations, and all subsidies to wind turbines and solar energy.

2. Dash for shale gas. The UK must exploit these new resources. It has been estimated that the UK has 20 trillion cubic feet of recoverable shale gas. Build gas-fired capacity and more gas storage facilities for the medium term.

3. Tell the EU that we are unable to implement the Large Combustion Plant Directive, and that we will not close down our coal-fired power stations. Add that we will not entertain any fine or penalty for being in breach of the directive.

Amusing to look at CRCCA’s “About” page. Guess who’s there, as “Patron?” Why, it’s Heartland’s own Bob Carter yet again! He really gets around. In fact, he’s a bit shopworn, “burnt” as the saying goes when somebody becomes too recognizable to be any longer useful.

Small world, truly.

---

Indeed. Seems that many roads lead back to the Heartland (and their Anonymous Donor) after all...

Rob Dekker said...

Roddy said :
If solar is already at/below natgas in southern usa, why isn't it being built? Is that grid issues or what?

If you are the hedge fund manager that you appear to be, then you will appreciate this overview :

http://www.seia.org/galleries/pdf/Major%20Solar%20Projects.pdf

Which shows a few hundred solar projects in the pipeline (US alone), to the sum of some 25 GW, going through the process right now.

MikeR said...

@Rob Dekker
"MikeR Yeah, let me just echo what Lenzer says here. I haven't read Lindzen's papers, don't plan to.

Thanks for clarifying the strategy so often employed by self-proclaimed 'skeptics', to avoid discussing science at all cost."

:O Wow. Is what I said too hard to understand? I'm not a climate scientist. I can't understand the papers. Maybe I could, as I have a physics background, but it would take weeks of work at least, weeks I don't have. And because of that you think you should sneer at me? I don't know about you, but almost everyone who is involved in climate science politics hasn't read those papers either, and cannot. Most bloggers, most commenters, most politicians, etc.

Most of us are in the position of having to decide what to believe without being able to examine the science ourselves. We have a few tools at our disposal, one of which is various blogs, manned by experts on various sides, telling us all about it. Of course, being very partisan, some of them present a very one-sided view of things. Then we read those blogs, and repost them somewhere else: "So-and-so is an incredible incompetent and not fit to be called a scientist!" "Sometimes issues are nuanced, but not this one - there's absolutely no question about it!" I'm not saying you're one of these fools, but there sure are a lot of them posting everywhere.

In summary, what am I supposed to think? That a well-known physicist from a very prestigious school is incompetent? Or that some commenter probably doesn't know what he's talking about, and is probably reposting conclusions by someone else who maybe doesn't either or is just getting carried away.

Roddy said...

Rob, thanks for that link.

I was a hedgie for nigh on 30 years, yes.

And with my investment hat on early in that doc were:

Operating 1,324
Under Construction 4,608
Under Development 23,656

So it maybe looks a bit like the nuclear renaissance (that isn't happening of course), one would need to have an idea how much of the 24GW will ever happen.

The 4.6GW being built compares with 7.5 brought on in Germany in 2011, and a German total of 25GW (which costs the consumer $18 billion per annum in feed-in-tariffs, coo that must hurt), so it doesn't sound too exciting?

When I said 'why isn't it being built' I meant in substantial quantity if your numbers on c per kwh were correct.

Roddy said...

I also see that California represents 70% of 'under construction' and 60% of 'under development' - there isn't much being thought about in the Southern states you were talking about? I know where Florida is, that's down the bottom somewhere - 110mw under construction.

I googled and found http://sunlightelectric.com/subsidies.php which says 'There are three California and federal subsidies that together can reduce the cost of a commercial solar power system by 70-80% of the original installed price.'

So my question remains - why isn't it being built if it really is as economical as you suggest?

Rob Dekker said...

MikeR :
I don't know about you, but almost everyone who is involved in climate science politics hasn't read those papers either, and cannot. Most bloggers, most commenters, most politicians, etc.

Did you notice that these same bloggers, commenters and politicians that have not read those scientific papers, seem to be the loudest critics of climate scientists and scientific findings ?

Most of us are in the position of having to decide what to believe without being able to examine the science ourselves. We have a few tools at our disposal, one of which is various blogs, manned by experts on various sides, telling us all about it. Of course, being very partisan, some of them present a very one-sided view of things

Reminds me of the song "Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy".
Did you ever look at the bogs from actual scientists such as skepticalscience.com, realclimate.com, chriscolose worldpress, julesandjames, stoat, tamino, rahmstorf's blog etc etc) who actually explain science in readable English, point out the straw man arguments and the disingenuous red herrings and falsehoods from the other blogs and who actually use science (and quote scientific papers) to form their opinions ?
If so, does that help to understand what's really going on in the scientific debate (as opposed to the political debate in so many other blogs ?). Or are all blogs created equal to you ?

In summary, what am I supposed to think? That a well-known physicist from a very prestigious school is incompetent?

Not incompetent, Mike. Actually very competent in deception. But how would you ever know if you base your opinion on what "some" bloggers say ?

Here is an idea. Read the RC link that Barry posted above, and truly understand what Lindzen actually did for his presentation to the UK house of Commons. And tell us then if you think that Lindzen was honest to the UK House of Commons, and if the scientific evidence he presented actually sustains his argument.

It's OK if you need some time to do this. But since you have a physics background, you should be able to, at least once, get to the bottom of things.

Roddy said...

Lindzen's slide was clearly incorrect, and he's withdrawn it. As per RC comments in that post. It looks very like an error to me, albeit a handy one for his case, and his insinuations were absurd.

MikeR said...

@Rob Dekker "Did you notice that these same bloggers, commenters and politicians that have not read those scientific papers, seem to be the loudest critics of climate scientists and scientific findings"
Uh, no, I didn't, Rob. I noticed that the biggest idiots on both sides are the ones who don't seem to know anything about the science. For instance, I see a common repeated on a daily basis, in comments on blogs, sometimes on blog posts, and sometimes even in things like newspaper articles: "The greenhouse effect is basic physics. Anyone who doesn't accept the AGW consensus doesn't accept the laws of physics." Now I may not be knowledgeable in climate science, but I happen to know that that is wrong. The AGW consensus depends on a lot of complicated study of feedbacks.

So, no. I see just as many clueless fools on both sides.

As for your other point, you are just repeating yourself. "One side is real scientists, and the other side is charlatans." How am I supposed to know that? Because you told me so, and also they say so at realclimate. Well, I have a different idea. I will listen to some other climate scientists, who tell me clearly that there are real experts on both sides, and that sometimes the experts at realclimate are the ones who are wrong. People like von Storch, and like Judith Curry. People who used to be good guys until they went over to the Dark Side.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. You are doing your side no good. No one "out here" is going to listen to this kind of partisan nonsense. The sooner you stop it, and get back to just doing your job, the sooner you have a chance that the rest of the world is going to stop seeing your side as a lot of partisan political thugs instead of as serious scientists trying to working out a very complicated world.

Roddy said...

'The AGW consensus depends on a lot of complicated study of feedbacks.'

I don't understand, maybe I'm confused about 'consensus'. I suppose you could argue that feedbacks could be so negative that GHG's won't end up warming, but I would say there is a pretty universal AGW consensus - that ghgs warm.

I think you have to define your consensi, you two.

There is also a consensus on sensitivity, in the sense of an IPCC range, a median, a mean of published papers, which it is more legitimate to dispute.

I do like the way Mike that you criticise Rob for being a partisan political thug - that's the way to win hearts and minds!

Anonymous said...

Please be aware that Lindzen's presentation was not to the House of Commons. It was a select group including some MPs that invited him to a talk in some backroom.

Also be aware that Lindzen likely did not make the 'mistake' himself. He 'merely' was the purveyor of prior stupidity/malice.

MikeR should perhaps also look up Peter Duesberg, who dabbles in HIV denialism but works at one of the world's top 5 universities. Like Lindzen, Duesberg is well known. Like Lindzen (in my opinion), Duesberg has committed to a hypothesis that must be true at all costs.

Bam

Roddy said...

Bam, are you saying that Lindzen is the puppet of darker forces? Or that he's stuck in his own denialism, so has to stretch facts to fit his prior?

I love your last sentence.

Rob Dekker said...

Bam, you write Please be aware that Lindzen's presentation was not to the House of Commons. It was a select group including some MPs that invited him to a talk in some backroom.

I'm kind of curious as to how this presentation came about. I understand that Monckton was the chair, and that the event was organized by the "Campaign to Repeal the Climate Change Act" organized the event (amd financed the speakers?).

Still, the presentation mentions "Seminar at the House of Commons Committee". What is that about ? Is there a real UK(governmental) committee at the House of Commons involved ? If so, how ? Do you know ?

Rob Dekker said...

Roddy said Lindzen's slide was clearly incorrect, and he's withdrawn it. As per RC comments in that post.

Roddy, Lindzen did not withdraw his slide per RC comments. In fact, he did not even make ANY statement on that RC link.

Also, the slide is clearly still there on page 12, labeled "NASA-GISS Data Manipulation: Change in Historical Record 2008-2012" :
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02148/RSL-HouseOfCommons_2148505a.pdf

What makes you think he has 'withdrawn' it ?

Also, can you please describe what this slide shows, and what it means for Lindzen's integrity now that we know that he completely fabricated it ?

Finally : Hans : I understand we are venturing away from Heartland-gate here (although Lindzen is mentioned as a "Heartland Expert" on the Heartland's web site). Do you want to open a new thread on Lindzen's statements in London, or should we continue on this thread ?

Anonymous said...

Roddy, I am saying that in my opinion Lindzen has decided on how nature works, and he thus looks for any evidence confirming that hypothesis. Confirmation bias in the extreme. That would be option 2 you mention. "Denialism" is perhaps a bit too much, even for Duesberg, so I'll retract that label (for Duesberg, I did not use it for Lindzen).

Some will call me charitable in that evaluation.

Bam

Anonymous said...

Rob, the seminar was at a House of Commons Committee Room. MPs can, as I understand it, reserve these committee rooms at the House of Commons, subject to availability and only two hours at a time. The two requirements are that an MP reserves the room and that the subject is on some kind of topic list.

Bam

Rob Dekker said...

Thanks Bam.
Do you know which MP reserved the room ?

Roddy said...

Rob - I didn't say Lindzen said anything on RC. I understood from the comments on that thread that he had admitted error, and it had been corrected in his slide show. If the Telegraph have not updated their version I can't help that.

Fabricated is a silly word - gavin explained in the RC post how it was derived. Clearly sloppy, and, as I said, Lindzen's sly (and erroneous) attribution of what NASA/GISS had done was very bad.

As Gavin says: 'This is sufficient to conclude that Lindzen did indeed make the mistake of confusing his temperature indices, though a more accurate replication would need some playing around since the exact data that Lindzen used is obscure.'

'Such a cavalier attitude to analysing and presenting data probably has some lessons for how seriously one should take Lindzen’s comments.'

I would assume an MP opposed to the Climate Change Act reserved the room - there are many of them.

MikeR said...

@Roddy #40.

"There is also a consensus on sensitivity...which it is more legitimate to dispute." Yes, that's the one I mean. I'm a little confused as to why you mentioned the fact that "ghgs warms", which (a) as you said, no one disputes, and (b) is not relevant to the important question of whether the world must consider committing major resources to prevent catastrophic environmental changes - which is what everyone else calls "the consensus".

I'm not saying you're one of the fools I mentioned, but your comment encourages them by confusing these two very different issues. As a result, they can feel justified in saying that anyone who is a skeptic is arguing with (a),and therefore also an idiot and anti-science.

I did not call Rob a partisan political thug. I said that his approach causes the general public to look at his side that way. It's a bad approach. It's especially unfortunate because, as the general public moves away from them, they give each other speeches about how they have to do still more of the same.

I do think, though, that Rob is calling the other side partisan political thugs. That seems to be his general attitude toward the huge, secretive, powerful, rich, malevolent collection of (pretty much imaginary) organizations dedicated to fighting against the AGW consensus. It also seems to be his attitude toward Richard Lindzen. The idea that a scientist might just disagree, wrongly of course, doesn't seem acceptable to him. They have to be lying.

Anonymous said...

Rob, no idea. It may even have been a Lord, as Lord Reay is a patron of the 'committee'.

On another note, it appears Lindzen has admitted to confirmation bias:
http://www.repealtheact.org.uk/blog/apology-from-prof-lindzen-for-howard-haydens-nasa-giss-data-interpretation-error

Bam

Anonymous said...

MikeR,

the authentic Heartland docs confirmed that they are 'dedicated to fighting against the AGW concensus'. How 'rich' they are is a relative thing. A wander through their public archives reveals plenty of cross-pollination from other libertarian think tanks and groups.

Which is as much to say as there is a conservative agenda fighting the 'AGW concensus.' It is loosely organised and funding is variable. I don't think this is a particularly controversial assertion, do you?

Perhaps the most overt example was in 2007, when the American Enterprise Institute offered scientists and economists $10 000 each to work up a report criticising the IPCC report. AEI was getting about a quarter million a year from Exxon Mobil at that time, and was staffed by a couple dozen Bush government consulatants.

The steady drone from this sector has always been ideology dressed in the semblance of scientific rigour. They have given megaphones to mavericks, popularised pabulum and generally enabled the attack on the 'AGW concensus', which has included character assassinations and conspiracy theories.

It has been a highly successful campaign.

barry

Roddy said...

Barry, I've given my reasons why I think it has been 'successful', indeed why the loosely organised revolt against climate policies (which has certainly backed up the chain to questioning WG1 and 2) exists at all. It's economic in origin, which is also why lukewarmists like Pielke Jr question policies in The Climate Fix and blogs and papers. They look at the mitigation numbers, Kaya Identity and so on.

The Climate Change Act 2008 in the UK is a decent example, committing us to 80% reductions in 6 ghgs by 2020. This is realistically impossible, will not be achieved, and impossible law is always a bad idea. It puts the UK on a separate path from anyone else, so will make zero difference to AGW unless everyone else follows suit, and completely buggers up our energy policy in general (in terms of planning and building generation capacity, there isn't any at the moment because the private sector refuses to get involved in the absence of clear consistent policy).

So one can't be surprised that there is a movement to repeal it, led by economists like Lawson. It's a weird pointless hari-kiri.

That's why, I think, the movement has grown so much in the last five years. Issues like climategate have 'helped', in that they enable opponents of policy to attack on more fronts. But it's policy-related for the most part.


Rob, I hope you noted that, as I said, Lindzen immediately withdrew the erroneous slide.

Roddy said...

MikeR, I just think we need to be careful to separate:

- a consensus on ghg AGW, where there is a consensus, from

- a consensus on 1/2/3/4/x c per doubling, where there is (imho) a rather false consensus based on median and mean projections from models, from

- a consensus on CAGW impacts (which is partly linked to c per doubling)

- a consensus on policy response, where there is none, and I suspect you and I are in the same camp on that.

In 'denial' terms, I'd say I deny that we understand the second very well, and certainly deny that we have a clue about the third. the fourth follows.

Anonymous said...

Roddy, if only it was the only "erroneous" slide in his presentation!

Bam

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

"Barry, I've given my reasons why I think it has been 'successful', indeed why the loosely organised revolt against climate policies (which has certainly backed up the chain to questioning WG1 and 2) exists at all."

If the revolt was focussed on policy, instead of bastardising the science, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

If the resistance is economic in nature, why is it that for every article that focusses specifically on that subject, there are 100 (nominally) about the science?

Any critic that I coMe across usually has no idea what is the weight of opinion of economic studies on the cost/benefit of mitigation/adaption. Sometimes they will proffer some study they've gathered from the 'skeptical' blogs, and it usually doesn't say what they think it does.

There is an excellent example of this recently, when 16 scientists cited Wiliam Nordhaus' economic study, amongst a raft of scientific arguments, against the concensus view of AGW. Nordhaus (one of the more conservative economists that has published on the matter) felt compelled to publicly reply that his work had been misconstrued by them (and he also took on some of their points about the science).

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/22/why-global-warming-skeptics-are-wrong/#fnr-7

barry

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

"[2] - a consensus on CAGW impacts (which is partly linked to c per doubling)...

In 'denial' terms, I'd say I deny that we understand the second very well, and certainly deny that we have a clue about the third. the fourth follows."

There is a risk, but because we don't know how big it is, we shouldn't do anything?

This is the logic that I understand least from the critical milieu. We insure our homes against fire, our cars against theft, our businesses against calamity. Our homes are very unlikely to burn, but we take a loss on the off-chance. We're used to insuring against low-risk events. And yet we are advised that their is a substantial risk associated with emitting CO2 unabated, and suddenly we are no longer concerned with risk, but with certainty.

Does it not occur to people that there is a chance the consequences could be worse that the mid-range projections?

Roddy, have you bought into the idea that the risk is low, even while you say the risk is not well-known?

barry.

MikeR said...

@Anonymous #55: Anonymous, I assume that you know that Freeman Dyson reviewed Nordhaus's book, and basically agreed with the assessment of the sixteen scientists (that massive mitigation is a very bad idea economically, and that moderate mitigation is only a little better than no action at all). And that Nordhaus answered Dyson's review, but more-or-less agreed with his characterization.
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/jun/12/the-question-of-global-warming/?pagination=false
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/sep/25/the-question-of-global-warming-an-exchange/?pagination=false

That is, Nordhaus is himself in favor of moderate mitigation, and said so clearly in the book - but the sixteen scientists are actually drawing reasonable conclusions from his book anyway.

MikeR said...

@Roddy. "MikeR, I just think we need to be careful to separate, etc." My point exactly; we do need to be careful to separate them. Remember, I was responding to Rob Dekker, who claimed that the ridiculous nonsense was all coming from the skeptical side of commenters. I was pointing out that there are numerous commenters, I see them all the time, who do not make that separation, and feel strongly that anyone who is questioning the conclusions of the IPCC is anti-science and doesn't know basic physics. As you've agreed, that is totally untrue, and pretty much identifies the commenter as not knowing anything about it.

MikeR said...

"We insure our homes against fire, our cars against theft, our businesses against calamity. Our homes are very unlikely to burn, but we take a loss on the off-chance." Anonymous, I look at the price when I buy insurance. To many of us, the price here is incredibly high. You need to understand this. You will fail unless you can convince us that the danger is very great, and/or very likely.

Roddy said...

Hey Barry, yet again it's late so aim off...... 3am here.

Re Nordhaus: I've read and re-read the gang of 16 letter and Nordhaus's response, and it's much less clear than you make it out to be. I like Nordhaus - anyone who can say that the Stern Report is an assault on the english language is clearly cool. But I don't like his externality work (I do really, but people don't read the key conditional parameter sections on impacts and valuations and discount rates), and his setting up of the key points of the (bad) gang of 16 letter is strawman city in good part. Of course he objects to being partially quoted, anyone would. And the gang of 16 letter was bad. But so was part of his response - he smuggled in the Prec Prin without admitting it cos he knew it wouldn't fly.

I particularly 'enjoyed' this sentence: 'Policies implemented today serve as a hedge against unsuspected future dangers that suddenly emerge to threaten our economies or environment. So, if anything, the uncertainties would point to a more rather than less forceful policy.'

I love a costly policy against an unsuspected danger, reinforced by admitted uncertainty.

I agree with MikeR - insurance against known dangers (house fire) is entirely rational. Me insuring, in London W11, against unknown dangers to unknown peoples in unknown places at an unknown time is less rational.

There, I've said it - I'm selfish!

Sleep tight. I told you it was all about money.

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand the logical leaps from "we don't know enough to say for sure if things will turn out to be catastrophic or a walk in the park" to "therefore it's not worth taking out insurance."

Mike, are you saying you insure your house from burning down (or being carried away by floods or name your disaster) because you are certain of the likelihood of that occurring?

The best information from science is that unmitigated emissions could have anywhere from negligible impacts to major disruptive impacts on society, agriculture and economies. Why doesn't the precautionary principle apply, when it has served so well in the past? How many proven false positives can you think of, where the money spent was definitely wasted?

Mike - so how much, in real terms, do you think mitigating CO2 emissions will cost? Just a few facts and figures and links to decent economic studies corroborating will do.

barry

MikeR said...

@Anonymous #61: Does this count as "money wasted"? I would think that forced sterilizations and abortions to achieve Zero Population Growth is at least as important a cost as money. When I was young, we all had to listen to lectures by learned professors on how the world faced Malthusian collapse. They've pretty much quieted down since then.
http://www.wcfia.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/UGthesis_elehner%20Thesis.pdf
But as for the precautionary principle, I think Nordhaus/Dyson is a good start. Someone might argue with his numbers, but Dyson summarized his conclusions: Mitigation is not all that much better than doing nothing, and might be much worse.

Again, if you want me to buy insurance, you have to convince me it's worth it. So far that hasn't happened for most people.

And I think that leaves out the simple fact that Richard Muller points out often: Most mitigation scenarios don't work. They don't make a difference. I don't know why that isn't the end of the discussion. Unless there's some game-changer, mitigation isn't going to happen. So I don't have to spend much time or thought on it.

Anonymous said...

I read a great statement from a geologist today, on the intensity of this unorganised experiment we're conducting with the Earth's atmosphere. Upon understanding the Keeling curve, it occured to him that a 15% change over 150 years of any fundamental global parameter is practically unprecedented in the geological record.

Of course, that was then. Right now, the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide has increased by 40% since the industrial revolution.

If you think about - the magnitude of that change over such a short time period - that is astonishing. And we don't know what that will do to the Earth. But many people appear to be blithely optimistic about it.

barry.

Roddy said...

And many people are catastrophic about it.

As they are about, say, GM food.

Just in my adult lifetime, within the UK in tractable geography and timeframe there've been a fair few catastrophe forecasts of the unknowable. Perhaps the one that came closest to me personally was HIV, in terms of friends of mine dying and authoritative information about the contagion rate (if that's the right word) if we didn't all amend our behaviour pronto.

Maybe we've had a charmed life.

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

AIDS is an ecellent analogy.

2 million people die each year from AIDS. 2 million more contract the disease. You're probably aware of the acelerated contagion rate and mortality in African countries. AIDS is the leading cause of death in some of those countries, where 70% of the world's new infections and deaths from AIDS occur. Life expectancy in some of those populations has dropped by 20% and more. The vastly smaller infection and mortality rates in the developed world are not a result of luck.

There are two main arms of 'AIDS skepticism.' One is in the Western world and scientifically-based, and it has no traction in the general society. The other is superstition-based, and has a lot of traction in sub-Saharan Africa, with results as plain as day. Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved each year if the drugs that help ameliorate and prevent AIDS were subsidised.

The figures are stark. Where the science has been taken seriously, money spent, and public education funded, AIDS incidence has declined or remained low. Thank God AIDS 'skepticism' has not gained traction where we live. But then, we tend to trust the scientists - except when it comes to climate change.

barry.

Roddy said...

I don't dispute anything you say, I've never looked closely at HIV/Aids except as to how close it got to me. I will one day, it's a heated minefield from what I see from a distance.

I had friends who died, and knew a specialist doctor in the field, and read the stuff at the time. We (the active heterosexual middle-class community in London) were absolutely in the contagion firing line according to all the best information. Except it turned out, for whatever reason, that we weren't - that will, of course, have had something to do with changed behaviour in the UK (as you say) but I suspect less than claimed if you look at transmission of, say, chlamydia, and travel and migration. Certainly my behaviour and that of my (hetero) sample group didn't change (much).

I don't want to make a big deal out of it, it's just the starkest and most personally risky 'world is ending' moment for me, more so than the flus and mad cows.

Maybe you're right, and it was the money spent on education etc.

Here's today's headline from the Telegraph which amused me:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9138230/Red-meat-is-blamed-for-one-in-10-early-deaths.html

1 in 10 is A LOT!

Roddy said...

I just glanced through that article and genuinely laughed out loud.

Two adjacent paragraphs:

'Scientists added that people who eat a diet high in red meat were also likely to be generally unhealthier because they were more likely to smoke, be overweight and not exercise.'

'In an accompanying editorial Dr Dean Ornish, of the University of California, San Francisco, said that eating less red meat could also help tackle climate change.'

Do admit, that is funny.

Anonymous said...

Another good analogy is the ozone depletion story. When scientists announced that ozone depletion was already occurring, and could result in siginificant declines over the coming decades, diminishing a protective shield against UV rays, the CFC-based industries went on the campaign to downplay and discredit the science. It wasn't until the discovery that oczone above the Antarctic had been depleted by 50% that the campaign against policies to ban ozone-depleting gases stopped working. The Montreal protocol was signed in short order.

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

The banning of CFCs was inititated an economic disaster so acute that companies relying on halogens were felled, the international stock market imploded, and refrigeration went the way of the dodo.

If you like funny news items, Roddy, maybe you'll enjoy this.

http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50006

barry

Anonymous said...

Of course, the anti-science campaign on smoking has a long and illustrious history in which Heartland and other libertarian groups have played a part more recently.

Roddy said...

barry, thanks for the cow methane, I saw that before, was chatting to a professor at Liverpool a few weeks ago who had been looking at it, it's oddly realistic!

CFCs - you need to look at all the incremental bans that occurred before Montreal, before the ozone hole, such as aerosol cans in 1978. Pielke has a good couple of pages 26/27 in The Climate Fix on the political history of it, the no-regrets piecemeal approach.

Certainly corporate economics, Du Pont etc, freon patents etc campaigned earlier against CFC bans - what I find interesting is that Montreal came long after the technological problem had been solved, there was no resistance once alternatives were in place (Du Pont then argued in favour of a ban!). And the problem was finite, tractable. That's the better parallel with where we are with ghgs?

http://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/no-nukes-do-you-believe-in-magic/

Anonymous said...

Roddy, DuPont's role with CFCs is a rather problematic one. In essence, being the market leader, they controlled the phase out because they were also in control of the alternatives.

Following the DuPont precedent, as long as oil, coal and gas companies are not in control of the alternatives, they will fight regulation with all they got.

Bam

Roddy said...

Bam, I was just saying that the political process wasn't as cut and dried as Barry seemed to be suggesting, with aerosol can cfc banned 10 (?) years before Montreal, while agreeing that DuPont, in particular, had a very strong involvement by virtue of patents and alternatives. Notable that China lagged anyone else on cfcs and their ilk.

As you know I find the 'evil fossil fuel companies reason for climate inaction' meme very unconvincing, and I've tried to explain why I think there is more opposition now, mainly to policy.

If US coal cos wanted to campaign against anything it should be shale gas, it's collapsing their business, see here http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/868d900a-6c43-11e1-8c9d-00144feab49a.html

Also good nuclear letter from Monbiot/Lynas et al to David Cameron today on monbiot.com

Anonymous said...

Roddy, those are short term fluctuations.

If fossil fuel companies are anything like other companies, they will do everything they can to maintain their position. There are plenty of examples, with the tobacco industry just the most well known. Papers on asbestos and its toxicity were published in the 1930s, but it wasn't until the 1980s that regulation started, again after decades of opposition by asbestos companies. The pharmaceutical industry has fought and still fights any actions on so-called biosimilars. In Europe they were caught by surprise (the EU decided, and that was it), in the US they have stalled legislation for many years already. That's billions of dollars!


An even more recent example is here:
http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/03/embattled-scientists-publish-miner-cancer-study.html

I understand why companies act like this: they are supposed to make money and satisfy their stakeholders. Whether that is evil is up to one's own ethical views.

Bam

Roddy said...

I don't see this happening in the same way as you do with respect to climate policy and oil companies. I see the backlash/resistance to climate policies that has grown in the last few years as caused by the policies themselves (that includes me), and see little evidence of minds being changed by the activities of oil/coal companies or their Heartland-style stooges.

I find the arguments a la Michael Mann that if only fossil fuel companies weren't funding / spreading lies / attacking climate scientists / doubt-mongering frankly weak, and indicative (a la Michael Mann) of a belief that if we were only bright enough and less morally bankrupt we would surely see the light.

I find died-in-wool enviros, perhaps like Monbiot/Lynas, changing their mind on policies and opposing solar pv, supporting nuclear, even supporting gas over coal, to be a rational response to policy discussions, and in their case hardly likely to be swayed by fossil propaganda.

I'll look at your Nature link, but bear in mind I'm not claiming life is perfect, or that regulated capitalism or even democracy is perfect, it's just the best way we've found.

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

"As you know I find the 'evil fossil fuel companies reason for climate inaction' meme very unconvincing, and I've tried to explain why I think there is more opposition now, mainly to policy."

Corporate self-interest is a fundamental fact of business. It's not the only reason for a lack of political momentum, but it is a driving force. There are plenty of politicos and others who champion corporate interests against 'big government', and they do so industriously (if you'll pardon the pun). None of this is a problem.

Unlike CFCs and smoking and asbestos, fossil fuels are the bedrock of the global economy. Political inertia on policies that make fossil fuel burning more expensive is ineviatable.

Where Gleick and Heartland meet is the nexus between politics and science. The analogies Bam and I have rolled out are to do with the perversion of scientific understanding by vested interests. This routine is being played out once more on the climate change issue, and it's working like a charm.

barry

Anonymous said...

I think that corporate activism on the climate change issue has declined over the last few years. The train they built now has its own momentum.

Roddy, are you saying that currently the wrangling over policy options is occurring in an environment where the mainstream scientific understanding of climate change (a la IPCC) is NOT being challenged?

barry

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, one of the two authors of the ozone depletion theory passed away at about the time the topic was introduced here.

This scientist made a correct prediction about a looming danger. I read his keynote speech at the AAAS annual meeting in 1993, and it is, in essence, identical to what we hear today from climate scientists. Their critics should get one thing right if nothing else - these experts are speaking from genuine concern.

http://climate2405.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/2881694.pdf

barry

Anonymous said...

Roddy, if Mike Mann indeed believes what you say, he's wrong. It is decidedly not the sole factor of importance.

However, at the same time the enormous power of companies in the US political arena cannot be underestimated. In several occasions political opinions are literally created by the lobby work of companies, whether through direct lobbying or by astroturfing.

This type of lobby work is, in my opinion, undermining democracy.

Bam

Reiner Grundmann said...

Barry -77

You may want to have a look at the separate thread on Sherry Rowland and the comments posted there.

Roddy said...

Barry - 'Roddy, are you saying that currently the wrangling over policy options is occurring in an environment where the mainstream scientific understanding of climate change (a la IPCC) is NOT being challenged?'

No, I've been clear that the various participants in the loose movement to challenge AGW / CAGW derived policies to mitigate CO2, largely through limiting fossil fuels, object on varying grounds, and challenge different aspects. I can't possibly describe the full spectrum, but perhaps at one end the undoubted enviros like Monbiot/Lynas are firm believers in AGW but challenge specific policies, and occasionally find themselves with pure policy objectors who might be of less enviro origins, perhaps economists like Dieter Helm, or the Chief Scientist at DECC on the evidence of his book. Mavericks with no obvious agenda like McIntyre are detail nerds and challenge the evidence for 'unprecedented' based on proxy recons and stats they find unconvincing, others wonder about the state of knowledge of feedbacks / clouds / sensitivity that support the IPCC 3c median for doubling (or whatever the median is), these would be challenging the science on its merits, and Lindzen might be in that camp, like him or hate him. You have people who wonder whether the net benefit to mankind of providing fossil electricity to 1.3bn outweighs likely negative impacts, you might describe that as challenging the science of WG2. You have people like me who question WG3, as we've discussed re the 'Greenpeace' scenario, Stern. And so on and so on.

And in there you have people, let's call them Heartland, whose libertarian pro-growth anti-regulation agenda is worn clearly on their sleeve, who attack anything they can find.

So each of WG1, 2, and 3 gets challenged, of course. By ethicists as well as corporate libertarians. I don't see anything wrong with that, because I prefer a society where this can happen to one where it can't I suppose. It's annoying when you see people who you consider agenda-riddled and wrong seemingly winning hearts and minds and policies, I know. Happens to me all the time!

This week 4 ex or current directors of FoE wrote to UK gvt objecting to nuclear, Monbiot wrote objecting to the objection, others will be inlfuencing policy in the interests of keeping the lights on securely at reasonable cost, the gvt will be wondering about the Climate Change Act, EU regulations, diplomacy, balance of payments deficit, at the same time as South African coal companies will be trying to build a power station that the government wants for its people and Greenpeace will picket, the EU will be balancing CO2 objectives with shale gas optionality versus politically risky North African gas as the Arab Spring spreads, and in there are all sorts of interests and arguments and agendas and truth-stretching. meanwhile the Chinese build another ten regional airports and 10 coal power stations and the Indians make statements that raising their people's standard of living is currently more important to them than signing up to binding emissions.

The challenge to IPCC consensus is a part of that, only a part, and the violence with which people object to it being challenged, sometimes as if that's the only reason Kyoto isn't happening, often suggesting the only reason to challenge is capitalist vested interest, is not reasonable.

2am, so aim off.

Cheers

Roddy

Hannah said...

Roddy, excellent comment. However, better stick to English rather than attempt to "speak Werner" ..... or classical Greek for that matter....

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

well done articulating various interests, agendas and objectives, and the different issues that attract them. Not bad for 2am.

My perspective is narrower. I'm not very much interested in the details of economics or policy. I am more than happy to live in a world of political argy bargy and for policy to be vigorously debated, including and especially on climate change. But sound policy must be based on sound advice. I'm not happy with lobby groups, industry and politicos interfering in that advice. To me it would be like Boeing and Lockheed-Martin denying or downplaying national intelligence assessments and offering their own intelligence packages with policy implications that enhance their profits. Or the American Enterprise Institute (conservative think tank) rubbishing the CIA, the FBI and the NIC and pushing their own, 'superior' intelligence assessments. Or government policy units creating intelligence dossiers that just happen to underwrite policy agendas - here is one of the main reasons why the primary premise for the US-led intervention in Iraq turned out to be spurious.

You could argue that scientists like James Hansen also muddy an 'arms length' approach to science and policy, but James Hansen is not the concensus, he's simply vocal: it's a talking point, not an argument. And if there is a genuine threat, why should that not be voiced by the community best able to perceive it?

L. Sherwood Rowland said in 1984, "Nothing will be done about this problem until there is further evidence that a significant loss of ozone has occurred. Unfortunately, this means that if there is a disaster in the making in the stratosphere we are probably not going to avoid it."

A year later proof arrived, in two it was undeniable, the extent of damage to the ozone layer was much greater than anticipated, and an international, binding treaty was drafted and signed within 12 months. We were fortunate after all.

We're unlikely to get an undeniable smoking gun for AGW in the near future. We have to hope that the majority of climate scientists are wrong. There are plenty of vested interests only too happy to feed the notion that scientific concern is overhyped, just as they did on ozone and smoking. For various reasons, we don't seem to learn from those experiences. Our priorities change with the seasons.

It seems you think (or other people do) it would be reckless to commit to strong policies on GHGs. Whereas I think it is reckless to assume or hope for the best.

You're still one of the most reasonable collocutors, nominally in the skeptical camp, that I've met. I do appreciate that.

barry

Roddy said...

Thank you - I just re-read it this morning and I think it stands up! I suppose I'm trying to challenge 'scientific consensus should and must drive policy, and if it isn't, the system must be broken'.

I don't think it should drive it in lots of cases - democratic politicians have to, in the end, take a view on border controls during asian flu scares informed by law, economics, scientists, and indeed ethics, the cases where the science is incontrovertible and there are no material other interests of any kind to take into consideration, no unintended consequences, are very rare. Why is our urban speed-limit 30mph? It's a balance.

The case of AGW is infinitely more complex, as Judith Curry has written on wicked, super-wicked, and messy problems. And to be outraged that people differ on policy for whatever reasons, and on their ways of influencing it, isn't reasonable, whether you 'like' those people or not. And to over-ascribe influence to 'Exxon' and 'Heartland' is, imho, naive.

I can't know what Nigel Lawson's agenda is, but I bet it's simply believing he's right, and he prefers being in the policy limelight to writing diet books. And in order to win the argument and influence policy effectively I'm sure the GWPF uses most tricks in the book, as he would have when Chancellor.

Roddy said...

Barry - just seen yours after I pressed 'send' on mine to Hannah.

I echo your last - I think we've informed each other of our views, positions, and understanding in good style and with respect. And we wouldn't have kept it going this long without that. Thanks.

I'll think of something 'intelligent' to say re your post later.

It'll be a shame when this thread expires, I've enjoyed it a great deal. In case you ever want to communicate after that I'm roddycampbell at gmail dot com.

Anonymous said...

Good morning,

"I suppose I'm trying to challenge 'scientific consensus should and must drive policy'"

Who is saying that it should?

All I've been saying is that policy-makers - and the public - should get the best information, untramelled by political interference. The concensus is clear - on knowns, unknowns and uncertainties. This should be the basis. Political interference can go gang-busters beyond that point.

Or, if not to provide the best information and emphasising the relevant points, what function do you think science should have in policy-making?

I am not in the least bit outraged that people differ on policy. I don't care how hard business or libertarians or ecoterrorists lobby. All I care about is the sciencization of the politics, the post-modernization of science, and the underlying premise for all the anti-science claptrap, which turns science into picking a side. This actually undermines policy-making efforts, undermines good policy-making by turning *facts* into a matter of partisan affiliation.

I can't do anything about peoples' worry about the GFC influencing their take on scientific 'facts', their ideological preferences, or about the real social and economic pressures that militate against straightforward solutons for mitigating industrial emissions. But I can and will point out where reason and the scientific method are being distorted.

I don't think we disagree on much of the broad stuff. I don't blame Exxon for everything. You recognize that there's a lot of contrarian bunk out there. The myopic greenies you're describing - I haven't met many of those. Not amonst my relatives, anway.

Coming up to midnight in Sydney. Have a good day.

barry

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

good-oh. I'll note you email addy and send you one in the next few.

barry.

Hans von Storch said...

Barr/85.

Your assertion "The concensus is clear - on knowns, unknowns and uncertainties. This should be the basis" is not true. (In this case, we can speak of "truth".) There are various claims about this consensus, but we have no consensus on the consensus. This is a major drawback of the IPCC process that the degree of consensus and of dis-sensus has not been determined.

But I would invite you to sketch, which assertions are covered by the "consensus". Do your refer to the climatic effect of elevated GHGs, about sea level, storminess, ice bears and malaria, the 2 degree goal or the need of a great transformation?

In particular the field of impacts is far from consensus; it is a field of active research, with lots of studies based on self-declared consensus of the climate dynamics side. Think of the issue of "detection and attribution", which is sloppily done in WG II (but fine in WG I).

Roddy said...

Wa-hey, Hans, PERFECTLY qualified and reasonable on IPCC-world, I appeal to your authority on WG2! (joke).

As Barry I think has said, thanks for Klimazwiebel, this thread in particular, and your hosting skills.


Barry - you should meet some of my myopic relatives.... I love them for it.

Roddy said...

Barry,

'But sound policy must be based on sound advice. I'm not happy with lobby groups, industry and politicos interfering in that advice.'

I am, I guess. Depending on what interfering means. One hopes for a civil society where the costs of 'bad' interference under the rules of engagement, the Geneva convention of behaviour, are lower than the costs of not allowing the argy bargy, overall. If I understand your 'interfering', you're happy for me to argue that border controls shouldn't be introduced during avian flu outbreak fears, accepting some deaths for other benefits, but not happy for me to challenge the science of death rates (if that was a strong consensus among scientists). In practice you'd have people doing both of course, from vested or ideological or disinterested positions, and one relies on political process sorting wheat and chaff. (You'd find me instinctively questioning, by historic induction, the scientific consensus too, re your 'we don't learn' para later.)

'World-ending' AGW parallels are hard to find, ozone would be one maybe, nuclear weapons another, acid rain wouldn't be, in the global nature of the problem in a world of national interests, and now a world of increasingly global corporates more influential than many countries. Maybe it was ever thus, I'm sure the East India Company drove UK policy. When I studied politics in the 70's the military-industrial complex was a big deal.

This is interesting, on learning:

'There are plenty of vested interests only too happy to feed the notion that scientific concern is overhyped, just as they did on ozone and smoking. For various reasons, we don't seem to learn from those experiences.'

I need to think more about that, but my way would be to erect an argument that we DO learn from experiences and see if I can stand it up. Each example would be imperfect (we don't know the counterfactual to Montreal, we do know that tobacco companies engaged in self-interested and disgusting conduct).

Iraq - omg, I have no idea, was it genuine fear of WMD's, filial crossness, oil, moral impatience with a man who gassed his people, Israeli lobby, counter to Iran, Saudis, a Blair/Bush prayer session, a sexed-up dossier to support a pre-existing decision (ie meaningless). Did the dishonest sexed-up dossiers drive the policy in the way you imply, or were they just dishonest human politics in action?

Here's another argument erection to see if it stands up - I like the existence of agenda-driven lobby groups even though I feel their vested interests lead them into dishonesty. I have a friend who teaches development and aid at a UK university having practiced aid for 20 years, and part of what she does is analyse vested interest, whether Oxfam or local recipients and distributors, and how consideration of impacts of aid comes, in reality, way down the list, they are 'dishonest' about their business. Greenpeace/FoE visceral inability to see the 'facts' on civil nuclear history (to learn?) is 'dishonest'?

'We're unlikely to get an undeniable smoking gun for AGW in the near future.' - yup.

'We have to hope that the majority of climate scientists are wrong.' - they are bound to be, on WG2 net impacts on humanity over a century? How wrong we have no idea. I appeal to Hans!

'It seems you think (or other people do) it would be reckless to commit to strong policies on GHGs. Whereas I think it is reckless to assume or hope for the best.' - That's fair enough. I'd add that there is minimal chance of strong policies, I don't see Chindia/Africa prioritising them, Iron Law etc, which means the UK/EU/Oz actions are pointless (reckless?).

Happy Monday

Hannah said...

Hans, Roger Pielke jr foreslog I en post for nogen tid siden at man skulle goere som man goer indenfor jura og medtage dissenterende dommere's meaning I afsagte dome og ikke kun flertallets. :o)

Roddy,

I have looked at some of the other comments on this thread, a few thoughts:

- I have recently spent quite a lot of time thinking about what people want in life and I think that you can pretty much boil it down to two things: sense of security and love. Sigmund Freud said "work and love" and Dale Carnegie said "feeling important", I would certainly include those in my "sense of security" as well as money etc but for quite a lot of people it also include "certainty" , Camus even spoke of the human longing for certainty. I haven't been around Judy Curry lately but I remember her posting about being comfortable (or not) with uncertainty. I would say that goes for all aspects of life.
- The AIDS comparison is interesting, it might be an age question because I was absolutely petrified of AIDS. You guys may have spent 10-15 years getting away with it without any repercussions but my generation grew up being told that the rules had changed (it might be different again for this generation of teenagers) and that if you got HIV then you would be dead within 10 years......I remember marching a potential suitor off to the nearest clinic to get tested...a slight overkill as he was 17 years old and had never been outside Aarhus.....it still makes my dad laugh :o) but makes you wonder what impact the way we communicate climate change to children has on them
- It is perfectly possible to have the same facts available and genuinely come to very different conclusions. I see it all the time in my job as a lawyer. How I view cause, effect and probabilities of outcome of a case will differ from that of the person on the other side.....even if he/she is an experienced and clever lawyer :o) I am going to a debate at a think tank this Tuesday where I have bumped into Nigel Lawson before so if given the chance I will ask him and hope he won't feel inclined to give me a lecture on healthy eating
- Another thought...this one might be for Werner....I am not saying that this is def the case.....just thinking aloud..but is it possible that the debate and how it is conducted is also coloured by the fact that it is so male dominated? On another thread somebody suggested that women lacked cognitive abilities, is it possible that men are less strong on empathy? More onesided or goal driven if you like.
- Lastly, be careful who you give your email to...it might land you in all sorts of trouble, although I have to admit that Barry from Australia sounds rather safe ;o)

Anonymous said...

Hans,

the concensus I am refering to is that anthropogenic CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere at a rapid pace, warming the planet, and that significant changes to the biosphere are coincident with changes to atmospheric CO2 levels that have already occurred since the industrial revolution. The concensus is that continuing to emit CO2 into the atmosphere will continue to warm the planet.

It is uncertain to what degree, and at what pace the earth will respond to the changing GHG levels. Regional effects are even less certain than global. It is not known for sure whether hurricane intensity will increase, but it is pretty unequivocal that sea levels will rise and the Arctic sea ice will be absent in summer within the next century.

The direct impacts on the human population are not known with much certainty at all.

The concensus is that there is a risk of severe impacts if we continue with unabated emissions of CO2. Note the word 'risk'.

I'm sorry to repeat myself, but no one seems willing to take up the point. Humanity is definitely changing the atmosphere, definitely causing the biosphere to warm up. Our understanding is that this could result in severe negative impacts on societies around the world. We don't know for sure, though. We also won't know until it is too late to stop it happening. Where is the logic in rejecting the precautionary principle and not moving swiftly to mitigate the risk?

(I'm aware of the economic, political and societal 'brakes', but that isn't the point)

barry

Anonymous said...

Roody,

"If I understand your 'interfering', you're happy for me to argue that border controls shouldn't be introduced during avian flu outbreak fears, accepting some deaths for other benefits, but not happy for me to challenge the science of death rates (if that was a strong consensus among scientists)."

You, personally, can challenge all you like, no problem. But if you were a politico who organised a campaign against the concensus view that included unsupported conspiracy theories, amplifying the views of maverick scientists and claiming that there was actually no concensus, then I would cite you as a politician who abused the people's trust by deceiving them in order to prop up policy goals.

"In practice you'd have people doing both of course, from vested or ideological or disinterested positions, and one relies on political process sorting wheat and chaff."

How does a political process winnow out good science from bad? And how does this work when politicians muddy the waters by promoting science that fulfills their political needs?

It may be that you see the scientific establishment as just another lobby group? I see it, as I indicated, as more like a national intelligence agency. They are not infallible, but they are serious and generally cautious with their estimates. I would say this was so for IPCC WG1. WGII and III are, I agree, less rigorous.

Yes, the scientists are bound to be wrong on the impacts, but in which direction? I'm pretty sure you would say that the impacts will almost certainly be less severe than postulated.

Iraq - the hours I poured into understanding that debacle! there was a raft of reasons (I call them rationalizations) to intervene, but the primary one given out was the nexus of WMD and terrorism. The intelligence on WMD, the faulty intelligence, came directly from Doug Feith's office. I'm not so sure about the dodgy dossier, but the UK wouldn't have gone without the US in any case. The quest from WMD was based on intelligence cobbled together by a policy sub-office in the Department of Defense (The Office of Special Plans). They delivered intelligence to the President and DoD outside of normal intelligence channels, criticizing the work of the established intelligence gatheirng arms. I can't say that they caused the war on Iraq, but they certainly were the primary source for the WMD rationale. Powell relied on much of their intelligence product in his deeply flawed presentation at the UN.

I'm as cynical as anyone about mitigation policies being enacted in due course. But waiting for other countries to move is bad logic - an endless stalemate. You either take the risk seriously, or you don't. How the risk is addressed is a whole other thing.

barry.

Roddy said...

Barry, in response to yours to me ...

'But if you were a politico who organised a campaign against the concensus view that included unsupported conspiracy theories, amplifying the views of maverick scientists and claiming that there was actually no concensus, then I would cite you as a politician who abused the people's trust by deceiving them in order to prop up policy goals.'

I am UK-centric as you will have noticed, and this is rare indeed. US politics as I understand it in general is more of a contact sport - 'Romney speaks FRENCH, is that the kind of man you want to vote for. He transported his dog in a cage ON TOP OF HIS CAR.' I catch glimpses of colourful Oz politics, Whitlam, Hawke, Keating. If there was an Oz politician who hated carbon tax and as part of his objections cited Bob Carter or organised Christopher Monckton meetings I'd think that was fine. If he suggested some conspiracy (wind lobby groups, anti-capitalists) I'd think that fine too - people who argue for a carbon tax suggest that reluctance is based on Exxon dollars corrupting Capitol Hill.

We must have our Inhofes but I don't know who they are or whether overall having one is a terrible thing or an ok thing. And I have the highest respect overall for American intellectual discourse, people like Nordhaus have status, it's imho where you'd want to be if you were a scientist, physical or social.

Corruption is a terrible thing. Ideology is not a terrible thing. I tolerate Heartland AND Greenpeace, and I put them in general in the same bucket for these purposes, ideological organisations lobbying policy.

'How does a political process winnow out good science from bad? And how does this work when politicians muddy the waters by promoting science that fulfills their political needs?'

It works quite well, in that it works better than any other way. We have a Chief Scientific Adviser, whose job is to translate science to the Prime Minister, and on Energy and CC we have one at that department, David MacKay, whose book is truly excellent, free online. I last saw the SA's in action over Fukushima, offering advice to Brits in Japan. They have to understand what is required of them at the policy/science nexus, and they have real status. In that case they were translating known science and the precautionary principle.

There are bust-ups - the PM sacked the one in charge of drugs policy when he wanted, on scientific evidence, to downgrade ecstasy and other stuff, because the political imperative ran contrary to science, largely social science in that case of course, but also physical science. That might have cost lives on a net basis, who knows. It's an odd area.

I think in general I have respect for the rules of engagement, and that the process winnows out liars and absurdities. And to get more excited about examples of the process 'failing' or being abused when one doesn't like the result, and not mind when one does, is a big failing I see out there. People praise China's state capitalism because it has the power to direct resources into solar if it wants? I think they're nuts tbh.

Here's an example of what you described, I'm not doing tit-for-tat, just saying it's part of the process - 'if you were a powerful and generally admirable lobby group who organised a campaign against the concensus view that included unsupported conspiracy theories, amplifying the views of maverick scientists and claiming that there was actually no concensus, then I would cite you as an agenda-driven group who abused your brand and people's trust by deceiving them in order to prop up policy goals.' - That's Greenpeace and FoE on nuclear, bang on. 'They' absolutely claim conspiracy theories in the work of the Chernobyl Forum, and amplify the views of scientists who make maverick look like a TV cowboy show.

And the political process has to deal with that, with public opinion on it.

..........

Roddy said...

.......

'It may be that you see the scientific establishment as just another lobby group? I see it, as I indicated, as more like a national intelligence agency.'

Neither neither neither. Just another part of the mix. I certainly wouldn't share your view. The CSA et al have to filter at the nexus. Pielke's The Honest Broker is all about this.

'Yes, the scientists are bound to be wrong on the impacts, but in which direction? I'm pretty sure you would say that the impacts will almost certainly be less severe than postulated.' - Yup, I would, for a whole variety of reasons inc historic induction. (I'd say 'perfectly possibly on a net impacts basis nothing like the postulations'.) Perhaps one way would be to look at the number of times the WHO projections of health impacts (a more tractable problem set, please don't bring hiv back into it) have under-cooked? And that's fine too, it's their job to warn. I haven't done that exercise and I'm sure I'm selective in my observations, it's a general point, and we can't know how much the warning affected the outcomes either. This post http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/false-positive-science.html touches on that too. And I'd wonder that if it might be reasonable to claim that the last 1c of warming was as beneficial as harmful, why the next 1c of warming would be generally accepted to be severely impactful. And in general the counter-factual effects need more work - if mitigation costs x% of gdp what does that cost in life terms, because we'd agree that wealth is beneficial to life expectancy, using that as a proxy for human well-being.

I'd like Hans's general view on how to approach the net impacts question, leaving out inter-generational inter-geography valuation/ethical/disount issues

A popular example, which I bring back because Hans mentioned it so I can appeal to authority (heh heh) is malaria. I cannot understand it. Warming deaths counted (European heatwave), warming lives not it seems sometimes? A trivial example this week was a publication from the Union of Concerned Scientists http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/global-warming-and-flooding.html where they cited the main cause of US deaths from flooding as being people stupidly trying to drive their cars through water that was too deep. But I'm being frivolous now.

Iraq - not going there, except to agree on Powell's presentation, and say that it struck me at the time he didn't believe it himself.

'I'm as cynical as anyone about mitigation policies being enacted in due course. But waiting for other countries to move is bad logic - an endless stalemate.' - just not sure how much the relatively quite extreme actions the EU and UK have taken will affect either CO2 emissions or Chindia's policy choices. Or down under what the point of Gillard's tax is. I'd regard them as potentially reckless as much as potentially wise.

Precautionary principle in general - still not going there, and anyway you've asked Hans his opinion on that, but our conversation on WG2 would inform my position.

cheers ...

Roddy said...

Hello crazy Hannah :)

- 'The AIDS comparison ...' essentially, crudely, and for whatever reasons, the West did 'get away with it'. Your reaction might have been typical, but I'm not sure about that. I'd generalise and say that 'you guys' (my lot) probably took a 'low-cost no-regrets' approach, because that was easy, there are obvious benefits from more condom use regardless of hiv, without invoking the prec prin.

- 'It is perfectly possible to have the same facts available and genuinely come to very different conclusions.' - absolutely, Barry and I are sort of in that position? Which has made our civilised discourse enjoyable and educational.

- 'Another thought...this one might be for Werner....I am not saying that this is def the case.....just thinking aloud..but is it possible that the debate and how it is conducted is also coloured by the fact that it is so male dominated?' - no more than most? I'm enjoying the UK debate on 'women on boards' which often seems 'reduced' to your cognitive/empathy area.

- 'Lastly, be careful who you give your email to...' - as Barry has suggested :) and as you know, I am reckless and pay too little attention to the precautionary principle.

Hans von Storch said...

Barry/91: "the concensus I am refering to is that anthropogenic CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere at a rapid pace, warming the planet, and that significant changes to the biosphere are coincident with changes to atmospheric CO2 levels that have already occurred since the industrial revolution. The concensus is that continuing to emit CO2 into the atmosphere will continue to warm the planet.".
I would agree except for the part which I have set in bold. This part is so very general, and I would need to know which changes you are referring to.

When we did the assessment of the scientific knowledge about climate change and its impact on marine ecosystems in the Baltic Sea (BACC, 2008), a broad regional group came to the conclusion that no consensus exist but lots of hypotheses and speculations, and that no serious efforts had been undertaken to unravel the role of the different drivers (in particular euthrophication, climate change, pollution, fishing). There was much more consensus on the knowledge about terrestrial ecosystems in this part of the world.

When you say "coincident with", do you mean that certain developments are in parallel, such as the growing number of McDonalds, the level of tourism? The wonderful list of cases provided by Steffen et al., Global Change and the Earth System, Springer Verlag, on p. 132-133 is quite illuminating (and partly wrong).

Note that I did not say that there are not some, who claim exactly what you say - the issue is here if this is a consensus. The latter I am doubting.

Hannah said...

Hello Rackety Roddy :o)
Re AIDS, well yes, apart from you stating that “you guys” didn’t really change behaviour (much) and given that you belong to the happy period of post-Pill, pre-AIDS I should think that protection was primarily the pill then. I may be wrong.
The” women on board discussion” doesn’t make any sense in the UK in my opinion. In Scandinavia, yes, but not here as you haven’t got the system in place (childcare and flexible working etc) and also, yes, there would probably need to be a revaluation of what skills are important in a board member moving away from solely focusing on people with profit and loss experience (hmmm, maybe I should offer my services, become the token girl and make a bundle? :o) but apart from that it is a source of constant surprise to me that so few women participate in the climate change discussion, as Menth said long time ago climate change blogs are like the coffee houses during the Enlightenment.... but then I will probably find myself one out of a handful of women tomorrow, when discussing Russia after the election.....and in case you are wondering...no, of course I don’t know anything about Russia after the election (apart from not liking Putin much) but lacking in actual expertise has never prevented a man from anything, has it? ;o) No, seriously I discussed this with Bella on International Women’s day (no less!) and most def a cultural and generational difference. Very interesting.
BTW the sheer length and frequency of your comments on this thread makes me look positively sane.......even restrained...;o)
Re consensus, check Hans' post on the climategate emails if you haven't already done so.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Several commentators have made statements about "lobbying". I would suggest to have a look at a detailed study conducted by Matt Nisbett, a media scholar specializing in climate change reporting. He has a report online (Climateshift) from which this interesting paragraph is taken:

"It is important to keep in perspective, however, that money was only one factor among many shaping the outcome of the cap and trade debate. In their study of nearly 100 policy issues, a team of political scientists led by Frank Baumgartner concludes that relatively resource-poor coalitions were no more likely to be on the losing side of a policy debate than their resource-advantaged opponents. Instead, the impact of spending on lobbying, advertising and communication often varies depending on other factors, such as the cohesion of a coalition and the wider political context. In the case of cap and trade legislation, the continued economic recession, the heavy focus on the health care debate, a perceived lack of leadership by the White House and decisions by key leaders in the Senate all are presumed to have shaped the legislative outcome."

Hans von Storch said...

Hannah/90 - det vil være faktisk en god metode for at finde ud hvad consensus består af, med det slags mindretals votumer.

Hannah said...

Reiner,
As a funny aside, I remember asking Lomborg about that report at a reception, seconds after he had been lambasted by Lord Monckton wearing his signature bowler hat :o)it was discussed in detail at Roger Pielke jr's blog as far as I remember.

Roddy said...

Hannah, sanity is only weakly correlated with word count! But I agree, I've enjoyed my Barry chat and been quite verbose. I might try and argue that the 9 or 11 hour time difference has meant long comments make more sense?

Can anyone tell me how to embed links when commenting here as Reiner did above?

Hannah said...

Roddy,
Actually, judging from empirical evidence observed through my job that isn’t correct, there is in fact a close correlation, overly frequent use of capital letters is another sure sign of something being slightly amiss....and I shall now add: discussing Socratic discourse, at length, with Bam and Barry at 1:30 in the morning to my list ;o) you may try to argue the time difference but I see very little chance of you winning.....I would settle out of court if I were you ;o) OT have you seen that they have found another Goldman insider?

Roddy said...

can't disagree.

Anonymous said...

Hans,

the coincidence of CO2 fluctuations and temperatures in clearly evident in the late quaternary ice age record - a good period to explore, as the geopphysical structure of the planet is consistent with today. A ~55% increase in atmospheric CO2 is accompanied by a global temperature increase of 5C and massive changes to the world's ice sheets, sea levels etc. We are not certain how much exactly CO2 contributed to the warming and effects, but we know the process takes a few thousand years from glacial maximum to interglacial.

We stand now at a 40% increase in a couple of centuries, virtually all of it man-made.

These things are firmly within the concensus.

barry.

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

I am curious why you 'don't go there', with respect to the precautionary principle.

barry.

Anonymous said...

I tell you what, I do have problems with some of the pro-mainstream blogging. It can often be strident and one-sided, and it has become tribal. It has become more like that which it battles. I'm thinking of Deltoid, Open Mind, Skeptical Science (and especially in the comments), but not so much realclimate (except in the comments, but they're better than the others). I don't know of a skeptical equivalent to realclimate. Judith's blog isn't it.

barry

Roddy said...

Barry - re your comment to Hans, I think he's really trying to talk about the WG2 impacts consensus, which is what would drive mitigation and policy.

re strident blogs, agree. They are doing a disservice to their arguments/beliefs. I think RC has been wise enough to go the other way now, eg their post on Lindzen was perfectly calm, the Rowland obituary had a good anecdote on educate your opponent, don't punch him. My impression is they used to be more tribal in posts and inline replies to comments? There have been (unrepresentative) informal sceptic blog posts last couple of years on 'why did you become sceptical?', and lots of people answered 'because of RC'.

Judith can be a bit personal - she seems very stung by the pro-mainstream reaction against her blog when it started, perhaps understandably, but maybe unwisely.

PP coming up.

Roddy said...

Barry - now I have to go there I guess.... I find the PP slightly intractable, and always fear it becomes a Charlatan's Charter. Various bullets

- It's a topic in itself as to what it means, what qualifies. Does it include the words 'cost-effective', as the Rio Declaration does, or weak v strong

- Or does it include some form of words like 'proportional', as in the costs of action have to be proportional to the likely/possible but unknown harm (which they were wrt cfc's, say)

- How do you value harm

- Is the EU adoption of PP relevant wrt AGW since the harm will fall least on the EU, unlike more localised pollution, or GM

- More generally will the harms and costs fall on different groups in this case, PP works best within a political or geographical union

- The PP seems to have mutated into proof of no harm, eg GM

- You could well apply it to civil nuclear power, whereas I think not applicable - indeed would civil nuclear ever have come into being if PP applied?

- It works best (only really works?) when costs of applying at least are understood, say cfc's or power station emissions that might cause acid rain

- I wonder how many things might never have happened had it been applied

- I can't even begin to think whether the impact of mitigation PP on the entire continent of Africa vs the counterfactual of fossil fuels would leave them (which generations also) better or worse off


All of which sounds weak, I know, if you accept a serious possibility of tragic harm, of tipping points, which I'm not sure I do. Sea levels, they're a tractable subject to think about - as a thought experiment how much does it matter if they rise by X over Y centuries? I don't know. The rise over the last century, what cost? The cost of adaptation by the Dutch was how much?

Maybe it comes down to proportional, and costs. And we don't know the costs of mitigation, we might say it's 1% or 2% according to Stern, but what is it in China? Could they have done what they've done in last 2 decades for 1% pa? I don't think so. And we really don't know the costs. At an LSE Energy Conference the other day I tackled the Grantham Institute speaker afterwards on his definition of 'existing technologies' given that CCS was a major plank of his argument. And he freely admits that it's nowhere near existing, there is no CCS working anywhere. I find it weird, that.

And yes, my scepticism on whatever consensus might exist re impacts, WG2, is a factor, combined with unknown costs, in my trouble with the application of PP here.


That's a start.

Hans von Storch said...

Barry/104. I do not consider this consensual knowledge. The geologic analog is an interesting angle, but we have issues at least with the timing of the two quantities, and with the time scale. I would call your claim an oversell of evidence, disregarding critical questions. I think you can claim consensus only if your opponents agree, not by yourself.

My own suggestion for a consensus is this (from von Storch, H., 2009: Climate Research and Policy Advice: Scientific and Cultural Constructions of Knowledge. Env. Science Pol. 12, 741-747):
"Science has established that processes of human origin are influencing the climate — that human beings are changing the global climate. Climate is the statistics of the weather. In almost all localities, at present and in the foreseeable future,
the frequency distributions of the temperature continue to shift to higher values; sea level is rising; amounts of rainfall are changing. Some extremes such as heavy rainfall events will change. The driving force behind these alterations is above all the emission of greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere,
where they interfere with the radiative balance of the Earth system.
" - would you agree?

Indeed, your argument falls back behind the state of the art, which is the analysis of the ongoing and recent temperature record, using the methodology of detection and attribution (we have discussed this here several times). [Of course, there are caveats.] This analysis, which makes use of the projections of climate models, is not talking about near-equilibrium conditions, to what you seem to refer to, but to ongoing transient change. And you made in your original post references to ongoing change since the beginning of industrialization. Thus, your geologic argument may be fine for asserting perspectives for the longer future, but they are not very helpful for assessing multi-decadal change.

I understand, when you referred to "biosphere" you did not refer to the terrestrial and marine ecology, but about the system as a whole? We would agree that temperatures, sea level are presently changing due to elevated greenhouse gas concentrations, but what about ice bear populations and malaria? For me, these are contested issues, thus not part of a consensus.

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

"Barry - re your comment to Hans, I think he's really trying to talk about the WG2 impacts consensus, which is what would drive mitigation and policy."

I haven't read much of WG2 and 3 and shouldn't comment. I'm much more familiar with the general projections in WG1.

Re the PP,

"I wonder how many things might never have happened had it been applied"

I've always assumed that, when informed by science, the PP was generally an effective standard.

The EEA commissioned a report on the PP.

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/environmental_issue_report_2001_22

I'm just starting reading it. Have you come across other material like it?

barry

Anonymous said...

Hans,

Perhaps I am wrong about ice age concensus. As I understand it, it is widely accepted that for the late quaternary ice ages, deglacitation transitions are initiated by insolation changes caused by orbital variation. Insolation change is a weak forcing and total warming is mainly due to feedbacks. The contribution of various feedbacks is not known precisely, but albedo and CO2 feedbacks are considered to be the most significant.

This is not a widely accepted view of glacial terminations for the late quaternary?

I agree with your suggestion on concensus.

"your geologic argument may be fine for asserting perspectives for the longer future, but they are not very helpful for assessing multi-decadal change"

I would agree - if my purpose had been to make some kind of predictive assertion. My comments also meant to highlight that we have changed the atmosphere in the space of several human lifetimes to a degree that normally happens over millenia. In this light, your rebuttal seems to imply that the response of the climate system to this relatively sudden change will nevertheless be at the same pace as the last glacial terminations.

We may be at cross-purposes here. In my discussion with Roddy I am making a case that it would be prudent to slow down the rate of emissions - a general argument. While I think I am sufficiently well-read on the subject to make some comments, and realize it's a popular icon in the global warming debate, I'm not sure what polar bear populations have to do with the points I am making. Could you clarify?

I'm not sure if you are saying that specific uncertainties weaken my argument. I am arguing that we are conducting an uncontrolled, probably irreversible (on multi-decadal time scales), large-scale experiment on the atmosphere with potential significant impacts on the Earth system, and consequently human societies, and it is because we don't know if or how much damage out tinkering will do that we should tinker a lot less. I assert that in general the precuationary principle serves us well, and should apply in this case, as it did susccessfully with the Montreal Protocol. Someone better-informed than me may argue details on policy/economics.

Yes, I was using the term biosphere in its broadest sense, atmosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere included.

I appreciate you taking the time to discuss with this layman.

barry.

Anonymous said...

Addenda

Roddy, it's a long document I cited on the PP. For useful caveats read the intro, and then the conclusions from p.168, which I think are well-considered and interesting. If you were to read any of the sections, the one on Mad Cow disease might be of most interest.

barry.

Anonymous said...

Hans,

just realized that the Montreal Protocol is not a good example of succesful deployment of the precautionary principle. A broad ban did not come into effect until after the theory was *proved*. It is, however, an example of a successful international response to a global problem.

barry

Reiner Grundmann said...

Barry

The Montreal Protocol was not based on scientific proof. I have written at length about this, have a look at my book Transnational Environmental Policy: Reconstructing Ozone.

In the first wave of CFC regulations, in the 1970s USA, 'non-essential' use of CFCs was banned (e.g. in spray cans). Alternatives were cheaply available. Industry denied these were available for 'essential use' (e.g. refrigeration) and it took some time to develop them.

Roddy said...

Barry - re PP I'm rubbish at filing this stuff, I take the lazy layman route and start again every time at Wikipedia and hunt the links down.

Thanks for Mad Cow, I've just read it, makes good sense, has some cracking parts on the science/politics nexus, and is generally very realistic and interesting on how a PP example should be handled. I was aware of the conflict having consumer protection and industry management in the same ministry, but not to this level of detail.

This was a bit of a shocker, system failure: 'This only occurred at the insistence of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at the Department of Health, who was first informed about the new disease only in March 1988 — 17 months after MAFF was first alerted (BSE Inquiry, 1999c, para. 115).'

Generally I take your point on science informing policy better than I did before.

I'd have liked more on human life loss projections but I have to go to Phillips enquiry for that. I was encouraged by the EU recommendations on FoI, transparency etc, - 'the harder it would be to conceal uncertainties, and therefore the uncertainties might be more readily diminished.' is right up my street. As an aside isn't it admirable how all this stuff comes out, is dissected, and one hopes learned from. I was reading yesterday through Nigerian yellow-cake fake story you'll know all about.

I'll read some more examples. It also seems that CJD is a 'good' problem to have, it stayed very rare, has no tipping-point characteristics, and we had sheep scrapie as some sort of example. Alongside the conflicts, the cost of being absolutely sure was deemed disproportionate, and it became (or should have) a question of how far along the scale you went in research and precaution. We always eradicate foot and mouth (cost bearable), the Argentinians live with it.

.........

Anonymous said...

Reiner,

thanks for the link, I'll try to read relevant parts.

Is it not the case that the MP was formaised and signed soon after the 'hole' in the Antarctic ozone layer was discovered, and that it had grown over time, 'proving' the theory of ozone depletion?

barry.

Roddy said...

Re PP WG1/2/3

I see our difference - you would apply PP mitigation simply because of unprecedented experiment on atmosphere, whereas I would ask for some assessment of possible +ve and =ve impacts.

If IPCC stopped at WG1 I'd say 'so what', you'd say 'oh shit'.

Hans's point re polar bears (and malaria), my take. First they are among the more tractable possible impacts, and if you don't have consensus on them does that illuminate the understanding of impacts in general. Second, what's important? Does the malaria-friendly zone increasing have significant impact on man or is man far more significant than climate? He also gave the example of no consensus on likely Baltic eco-system impacts.

Being really crude - Climate = long-term weather. We're changing the climate. So the impacts are that we (well, someone else) will experience different weather. How different we don't know. If we take the really quite unusual weather in 2011 in the US, or the variability of precipitation in Australia over decades, will the 'new' weather fall persistently outside these bounds, and to what damaging effect, or will the bell curve just fatten a bit. Is it a case of Brisbane spending some money sorting out its reservoir storage and flood defence system? (I took two rich countries there, sure, which makes another point. GDP cures weather!)

One of Lindzen's arguments if I recall is that natural variability of weather (including x-year droughts, not just one-offs) is large, and he wonders about the impacts of AGW on this range. Hans can maybe tell us what the scientists say about that.

Consensus here - I take it to mean, on impacts, that there is reasonable certainty that we might have a problem, and what that problem might look like if we did. That existed in BSE, however handled. Do we have it here? WG2/3 sceptics are not sure we have a definable problem. I raised sea levels in a previous comment, 8 inches last 100 years, what's the impact of that being 24 inches in the next 100.

rambling now.

cheers

Roddy said...

Barry - on reading the EU work further, I see I have excluded unknown unknowns, which you would also include. If one can include unknown unknowns!

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

Not quite.

Uncontrolled, one-time experiment with potentially severe consequences. I take the WG1 range of scenarios and potential outcomes, notice that it's possible for big migration of climate zones, drought, flood, with obvious stress on agriculture and potable water access, remember that we are no longer nomadic peoples, but locked into our support systems, which, if they are majorly disrupted will have strong negative impacts on millions of people, particularly in societies with few financial resources to overcome. Wealthier societies are not isolated from this. Sea level rise displaces people, eats away at the staple food of billions - coastal rice paddies. No guarantee of finding replacement areas.

And so on and so on.

And there are the lower ends of the scenarios, less disruptive, maybe not disruptive, also possible.

I don't go "oh shit" because I don't care. I'll be dead when the pudding is served and I don't have kids. It just doesn't seem rational to me to emphasise uncertainty and at the same time give more credence to one area of outcomes (low-impact). If you think the IPCC range is too wide (upper range too unlikey), then that means you embrace more certainty than the IPCC.

barry.

Hans von Storch said...

Barry/11: I thought we were trying to determine a consensus not the "truth". Consensus can only agreed upon by opponents, and not declared by one (of possibly many) party/ies.

You raised the issue of analog of geological developments, such as glacial termination, for assessing ongoing current change. The explanations you are offering may be, and likely are valid, but I doubt that they are of significance for the presently ongoing and probably continuing changes. And I had understood that we discussed the latter.

I have to admit that I am harboring a very subjective reservation concerning paleoclimatic reconstructions: This field is wide open for speculations and "challenged statistics", falsification is difficult, and the whole knowledge construction process reminds me on the repair shop described by Ludvig Fleck. Thus, very subjectively, gutt-feeling!: I expect that we will see a major reformation of the whole paradigm in some time. This will take place, when our climate models contain more and much better "forward models", which describe the formation of proxies. In this way, a more stringent approach of disqualifying hypotheses will be possible, I subjectively expect.

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

"WG2/3 sceptics are not sure we have a definable problem"

And the longer we wait for better definition, the less tractable the fix. Thorny.

salut,

barry

Anonymous said...

Hans,

"I thought we were trying to determine a consensus not the "truth". Consensus can only agreed upon by opponents, and not declared by one (of possibly many) party/ies."

What then is missing from this particular sub-topic that concensus cannot be declared? Is it that there are still strongly opposing views (regarding late quaternary ice age changes), or that the topic has too few active researchers to populate a concensus?

Though I compared CO2 increase during glacial terminations with the increase since the industrial revolution, my point was meant to be qualitative. I.e. I don't know what will transpire from adding another 100ppm+ CO2 to the atmosphere, or how long any response might take, but surely the fact that humanity has matched the geologic outgassing in a 30th of the time, and will be emitting CO2 even faster for the forseeable future, is worthy not only of serious concern but of putting the breaks on as speedily as feasible until we know better what's going to happen?

But I repeat myself.

Imagine if CO2 was not the by-product of the guts of the global economy, that turning it off cost nothing, hurt no one, and industry would keep rolling merrily along unaffected. All it would take is the flick of switches worldwide. Would we still be asking for better resolution on impacts if it was that easy to phase out CO2?

barry.

Roddy said...

Barry - your question to Hans:

No, because it's so far in the 'low-cost no-regrets' basket then.

The only circumstance would be if we wanted a warmer world; which we might if it went very very slowly in that direction (Canadians might) but otherwise we're set up for what we've got, more or less.

Equivalent thought experiment? - ask the Chindians whether they would trade lowering their fossil fuel consumption by 5% each year starting now in exchange for stabilisation of CO2 at whatever, 400ppm.

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

you think we have enough evidence now to warrant switching off CO2, and we would take the precaution if the cost was small. It's a naive question, but it can clarify things.

Your thought experiment: China and India resist the binding targets. China trots out its low emissions per capita argument and balance of economics and power argument, while brandishing its renewables credentials and emissions to GDP ratio. India points out its low per capita emissions and echoes China on historical developmental equity.

Other countries take this as their cue to do little on emissions. Why should they when big emitters refuse to play ball? The few countries that successfully lower their emissions make hardly a dent in the accelerating accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. The Arctic sea ice disappears in summer after 40 years, there's a lot of strife in the third world, but there's always strife in the third world, business is still chugging along and everything else seems normal so the talks continue.

What was the point of the hypothetical?

barry

Roddy said...

I wasn't clear maybe - 'in exchange for stabilisation at 4xxppm' meant in exchange for reciprocal action by the West to achieve that stabilisation target. Would Chindia choose growth + warming instead, and might that be a rational choice.

It's a tougher, more interesting choice for them, the cost would be much greater vs counterfactual in terms of forgone growth, but they are also more vulnerable to the risks. The latter was the point.

Kaya Identity used by IPCC:

Emissions = P * g * e * f

P = population, g = gdp per cap, e = energy intensity of GDP, f = carbon intensity of energy.

If E is to strictly fall: What would Chindian g rate of increase need to be versus its current +ve rate of 8%+? ie what can they do about e and f (P is lowish but +ve, trending towards zero) to influence E downwards if on BAU scenario it's +8% from g alone. Imagine you could get e and f at -2% each, you'd take a 4% hit on g if P constant. That's a lot of living standards, 4% compound over 10 years buys a lot of hospitals and adaptation.

Even if they can have a rate of g growth higher than the West to narrow the g gap, the difference between their 8% and our 1% makes their choice much harder.

So maybe the point of my question was also 'is there a rate of g growth that would make acceptance of AGW rational?'


To be fair your question was based on zero cost, but yes, I'm happy with PP on zero/low cost, no regrets basis. Like lead in paint or petrol, or cfc's once substitutes developed (which was the reality without arguing cause).


You are bang on about the 'no dent', and I find the Kaya Identity helpful in understanding the dimension of compounded lower g growth over even a decade or two, but that might just take us back to magical thinking debates about e and f.

I wrote this blog essay couple of years back - a somewhat theatrical polemic perhaps - which touches on this. It'll prob drive you nuts! http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/a-letter-from-london/

cheers

Roddy said...

Barry - I found a good quote I'd forgotten about in my piece I linked to:

As Mike Hulme, ex-boss of CRU and colleague of Phil Jones put it in May 2010: ‘Taming climate change will only be achieved successfully as a benefit contingent upon other goals that are politically attractive and relentlessly pragmatic’.

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

thanks for clarifying.

I can't see China having a negative E scenario for the next several decades and probably beyond. It's a major obstacle.

Too difficult for me and don't have the ken to comment on the numbers. Hard to guess how the rest of the world goes...

Referring to your Air Vent article, you think it doesn't matter if you fall deeper into a fire because youre already burned? I don't grock that. Degree of damage is not an issue?

The nuclear option sounds ok. But how long does it take to get nuclear on line? 15 years a plant was the last I read. And have you factored emissions from building/transport, and what that means within your timeframe (30 years)?

I don't have the answers. I think nuclear energy has to be part of the solution. If you don't maind my saying - you seem to have glossed over some rather significant social/political obstacles to this part of the problem, quite differently to how you've emphasised the obstacles to mitigation policies in general. Is that fair to say?

Damn, wish I had the nouse for the hypothetical you sketched. I know it would be interesting talking about it with you. But tell me instead what you think.

I do not think an international, binding framework will be possible until more countries establish domestic mitigation plans, thereby verifying their seriousness and the possibility for an international apparatus. Waiting for an international concensus is now quite unrealistic to my mind. I would think that the more hard-nosed economics/policy wonks would see that pretty clearly, and thus (if I'm right) I tend to think of arguments for an international concensus first as a kind of stalling tactic. But I may be way too cynical or just plain wrong. I'm far from well-read on policy/economics, as I hope I've made clear.

A number of countries have already passed mitigation policies (eg, Australia's carbon tax, effective July 1 this year), or are laready running a mitigation scheme. First steps, they are, absolutely useless in terms of making a difference to emissions in real terms. But whereas the greatest obstacle is economic, the greatest hope is political (will). Symbolism is a powerful tool, and humans, even at government level do not operate solely based on economic interests.

Still, I'm sure little will be done in a timely manner.

Roddy, what is a reasonable worse case scenario for the UK under a trading scheme/carbon tax? How many people starve/die?

I would be impressed if your concern for impoverished people was genuine. Please forgive my doubt if you are sincere - it's just that it's so often an argument of convenience. Many poorer countries want GHG emissions slowed down, as they are more vulnerable to impacts than we wealthy ones.

I reckon a moral argument isn't on the cards. :-)

barry.

Anonymous said...

"How many people starve/die?"

I didn't mean it that facetiously. What would be the social costs?

Roddy said...

Barry

Nuclear/energy/blog post

Re The Air Vent article, I said it was theatrical / polemical, because these things are fun to say grandly and with apparent certainty to see how they stand up, and I do think a Big Tent of nonsense is often where people end up - you don't.

There's a passage in MacKay's book (which I promote again, it's free and Bill Gates called it "one of the best books on energy that has been written.") on that - he describes the 'if we all do a little then it adds up to a lot' way of thinking and smartly goes through the arguments to end up, of course, with 'if we all do a little we end up with .... a little'. It's an important point. Kaya is just a different way of looking at the same problem, E is a function of P, g, e, and f, deal with it. Pielke's The Climate Fix is good too, both can write which helps.

You need big answers to big questions. You can't mess with P, or e much, messing with g tends to be ruled out by what Pielke calls The Iron Law (hence the Hulme quote), so you're left with f, hence the nuclear conclusion.

The nuclear issues are well described in Economist by Oliver Morton posted on Klimazwiebel. Judith Curry had a post yesterday listing recent nuclear articles. You are correct that I glossed over (I prefer bull-dozed) the issues!

Just on cost, soup to nuts emissions, and political will:

Cost - it's the only mass deployable zero/low carbon technology with a reasonably known price comparable with other mass proven technology, and fits with existing infrastructure in a way that wind or hydro don't. It's baseload, fine, and if people think that storage solutions will be found in the future that's even finer, or if battery electrification of transport comes to replace oil then you charge everything at night. It fits.

Soup-to-nuts - see infrastructure point. Offshore wind farms require new infrastructure, and intermittency carbon costs are an issue, smart grid and smart appliances too. Clearly if you can fit within existing structures and technology you save the carbon costs of replacing/adapting. A nuclear plant has high construction costs and I'm sure all that concrete emits a lot of carbon, sure.

Political will - big issue, but no bigger (less big I think) than the will required for any alternative mass strategy energy CO2 solution? Fits with your internal mitigation comes before global binding point too. I can imagine certain countries doing it, even if others have visceral democratic issues (Opposition to something as simple as uranium mining in Australia!) Solves the wicked problem of capping local emissions just leading to the export of them.

.......

Roddy said...

GDP etc

I try and stay off the moral arguments, for the argument of convenience reason you give, and because people who can't have the debate realistically tend to head there and it ends the conversation. I put that in the blog article to a) shoot the other side's fox first and b) to highlight the costs v counterfactual in a grand-standing way. Apparent and false sincerity is a terrible thing!

My hypothetical - 'is there a rate of g growth that would make acceptance of AGW rational?' goes together with the Iron Law, see here http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/10/04/book-excerpt-the-iron-law-of-climate-policy/, and clearly suggests that people value growth.

Your questions like 'how many people starve/die' if UK introduces mitigation policies (not taken facetiously), or the question behind your doubting of my concern for Africans ... how to bundle them?

Growth is important. I use life expectancy as a good proxy for human welfare as it incorporates food, shelter, clothing, medicine, even the Flying Doctor. It's not a happiness measure, but it's not bad, as most things that lower life expectancy are unhappy.

To use the hiv area we've touched on before, is there a simple and overwhelming reason it's a trivial problem in EU/US and a ghastly one in Africa - historic GDP growth? We threw education and healthcare and knowledge and money at an educated population with economic freedom to adapt their behaviour. I would toss that back at your 'starve/die'?

Clearly growth is important. My crocodile tears for Africans are a recognition that they will choose growth because they'll live longer. Us too. GDP impact over decades - if you lag by 1% a year you end up as Albania after a while, relatively, having started level with Austria. So in your UK die/starve - no, of course no one extra will die anytime soon if you grow at 1% rather than 2%, but in only 20 years the other fellow has 22% higher income and will be living longer, so yes, extra people will have died. After 40 years he's 50% better off.

Of course it's made far harder to take these decisions if the other fellow isn't, so capping/taxing locally is a shit idea, except insofar as the symbolism spreads, sure. The risk is backlash against policy cost v impact - see most of our early exchanges! The UK has the toughest approach, then the EU.

My 'we're all going to fry anyway so better rich than poor' incorporated all of that, but mainly the legitimate and laudable gdp growth of ldc's point, hence the graphs on coal and airports.

end of ramble ......

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

thanks for the replies. I'm short on time at the mo but will re-read and digest further.

barry

Roddy said...

No worries. Switch to email if you like.

Interesting times in Queensland / national politics for Oz? I can't possibly say what effect carbon tax has from over here compared to general mistrust and Iron Law issues - thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Roddy,

don't follow QLD politics, or much of it here at all, for that matter. The boffins say it's pretty dull compared to other nations'.

Judging from the headlines and 'analysis', it looks like the Labor's carbon policies were a big factor in turning the vote against them. Mind you, Anna Bligh was an unpopular premier except for when the floods hit a year ago, so there was probably some momentum. Quite a big rout for Labor. QLD has recently been experiencing a big boom in the mining sector. I'm sure the rural communities servicing that sector wouldn't have been happy with any imposts. If I was interested I'd look at the results in Brisbane to make a stab in the dark about the impact of carbon policies on the election results.

barry.

Anonymous said...

I should point out that the main conservative parties (National Party and Liberal, usually a coalition in govt), both at state and federal level accept the science on climate change and favour some kind of mitigation strategy. This is mainly due, I think, to public acceptance of the IPCC. We do have our share of 'skeptics', but they don't have much traction with the GP. A couple of pollies publicly question the science, in the few areas where their constituents have a large skeptical base. The conservative parties had more reps of this bent, until it became clear the stance didn't have much traction with the elctorate.

I have no idea about the economics of the Bligh gopvernments carbon policies, but it would appear the conservatives thought they were too expensive, and the public agreed. Whether or not this was the major reason for the election rout, I don't know. But the new conservative government will support some kind of mitigation scheme.

Tom Friedman visited here recently and wrote a brief article on the difference between Oz and US politics. Climate change gets a mention.

www.nytimes.com/2012/03/28/opinion/friedman-elephants-down-under.html

barry

Roddy said...

thanks. I'll stop coming back to this post now, and don't get emails advising of comments, so if you want to chat further on the other stuff use my email?

You might be interested in the IPCC SREX released yday: http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/ on impacts from weather/climate. Roger Pielke posted exultantly on it because it's clear there aren't any as yet that aren't explained by greater vulnerability (population and gdp).

Andrew Judd said...

Hans, Did you remove my comments about the troubles I had editting Wiki due to William M Connolley?

Hans von Storch said...

Andrew/136 - no, I did not remove anything. Which comment is missing in which thread?