Saturday, May 26, 2012

From the web-page of reuters an article is available, which discusses the recent strong increase in CO2 emissions, perspectives for the future and ongoing political efforts:

CO2 emissions rose by 3.2 percent last year to 31.6 billion metric tons (34.83 billion tons), preliminary estimates from the Paris-based IEA showed.
China, the world's biggest emitter of CO2, made the largest contribution to the global rise, its emissions increasing by 9.3 percent, the body said, driven mainly by higher coal use.
"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet," Fatih Birol, IEA's chief economist told Reuters.
Scientists say ensuring global average temperatures this century do not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is needed to limit devastating climate effects like crop failure and melting glaciers.
They believe that is only possible if emission levels are kept to around 44 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2020.
Negotiators from over 180 nations are meeting in Bonn, Germany, until Friday to work towards getting a new global climate pact signed by 2015.
(for reading the entire article, refer to
I find this article interesting.
First, the timing - it seems that the IEA launched the story in support of the meeting in Bonn.
Second, the content: the emissions have reached new records, with China contributing significantly, both in terms of amount and increase - which I consider relevant and mostly accurate news. Next, the 2 degree goal is repeated as a need established by scientists.
A third point, not in the above quote but later in the article, deals with nuclear power:

He also warned about the impact of phasing out nuclear power output after the Fukushima accident in Japan, which helped push Japanese carbon emissions 2.4 percent higher in 2011.

A forth interesting issue is that climate science has become irrelevant; it shows up in passing, when "limit devastating climate effects like crop failure and melting glaciers" is mentioned, and the quote "the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050)" is made.This is a pretty bold prediction, given that we have so far less than 1 degree warming since pre-industrial times, so that the warming must be more than 5 degrees/38 years, i.e., about 0.7-0.8 deg/decade. I consider this pure alarmism, which is related to the timing, and a misuse of scientific analysis for creating some unsustainable short term drama for the Bonn-negotiations. I wonder if this 6-degrees claim is really from IEA, or just an addition by Fatih Birol, because is no not mentioned in the IEA's announcement.

About the record itself - I wonder which effects the ongoing alarmism as well as the ongoing denying of the severity of the issue had on the emergence of the record. Would we have actually more emissions without "The inconvenient truth" - and less without "The great swindle"? Or reversed, more because of "the day after tomorrow" or less because Heartland's activity? Much more/less, minuscule more/less, no effect?


@ReinerGrundmann said...

The IEA executive director is also on record with the 6 degrees, we had a discussion on Klimazwiebel here.

There is another news item today which made headlines, the claim that Germany's solar power provides 20GW. The data are an extrapolation based on the Leipziger Stromboerse, carried out by the interest association IWR. Not sure if this timed for the Bonn meeting as well, and how reliable it is.

Anonymous said...


Unprofessional timing or a new devilish alarmist tactics? Don't know, but I know that the Bonn climate talks ended yesterday.


eduardo said...


I think the news wrt to the 20GW provided by solar power, refer to peak power achieved today , and not to sustained power delivery over a longer time frame

hvw said...

"the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050)" ...This is a pretty bold prediction, ... I consider this pure alarmism, ... and a misuse of scientific analysis ...

The first question is, how do you talk in brackets? This quote, including "(by 2050)" was "told to Reuters". But lets just assume that this is not the usual fuckup of the overworked and underqualified volunteer posing as a reporter.

This doesn't seem to use any "scientific analysis" at all. I am not aware of any predictions/scenarios that come close to +6 deg, by 2050.

But could it be possible that this is not part of the alarmist conspiracy, well timed and all, but rather a stupid mistake by a suit with a fluffy brain? I suppose Fatih Birol tried to read a recent press release of his organization, where some Richard Jones says:

"Energy-related CO2 emissions are at historic highs; under current policies, we estimate that energy use and CO2 emissions would increase by a third by 2020, and almost double by 2050. This would likely send global temperatures at least 6°C higher."

Anyone who knows anything about this will agree that this must be read as "...(by 2100)" and that this statement is not alarmist at all but reflects current best estimates. It's easy to erroneously attach the last year in the quote, 2050, to the time of the +6 deg. increase if you are not that much into the subject but need to rip off a soundbite somewhere really quick now.

But then, it's probably the alarmist conspiracy after all. Just because you are paranoid it doesn't mean that they are not after you!

intrepid_wanders said...

I am sure the "6 degrees" are found in this Science Fiction short story ;)

Rahmstorf, S., 2007: Six degrees: Our future on a hotter planet. Nature, 448, pp. 136-136

hvw said...


Thanks for the pointer to the review of this very interesting book.

Hans von Storch said...

hvw - I have not spoken about a conspiracy, but about alarmism. I do not think that alarmism is a conspiracy phenomenon, but a kind of common attitude in certain social quarters genuinely concerned about the "future of the planet". We had another such case a few weeks before reported here on Klimazwiebel, and we will see more of it.

I think it would be better, if we object both attitudes (and practices), the denying of the presence of a serious problem (the ongoing, even accelerated accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere) and the ongoing dramatization of consequences (as in case of the press report).

Werner Krauss said...


you write that alarmism is "a kind of common attitude in certain social quarters genuinely concerned about the "future of the planet"" -

could you please specify? Who are "these social quarters"? And do you think there is something wrong in being concerned about the future of the planet in general, or do you just mean the 6 degree exaggeration?

And you state your rules of political correctness in abstract terms: yes to serious problems with GHGs, no to dramatization. Could you give an example what this means for the average concerned citizen? What should she think or do - and how can she translate her being concerned about "the problem" into a politically correct attitude?

hvw said...

@Hans von Storch

I completely agree with that. And I should not have used "conspiracy". I wanted to promote the use of Hanlon's Razor(*), in particular when the identification and interpretation of misbehavior in such charged matters is concerned.

(*)"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Anonymous said...

I think its even worse alarmism than Hans initially thought. I think 5C by 2050 requires around 1.3C /decade, not 0.7-0.8 (reciprocal methinks). That warming really will need to get a move on.

Jim West

Anonymous said...


6 degrees by 2100 is 0,7 degrees per decade. 6 degrees by 2050 is 1,6 degrees per decade.

All the alarm is based on the last part of the 20th century when the maximum alarmistic cherrypicked trend was around 0,2 degrees/decade.

Please get down to this planet.

Jonas B1

EliRabett said...

This attack on Joe Romm and Fatih Birol is an argument in bad faith which originated in David Appell's dislike of Joe Romm and which you are amplifying for similar reasons. The 2050 is an insertion by Reuters based on a misunderstanding.

On Appell's blog, Eli pointed this out and suggested that Appell ask Birol. In the discussion there scientific sources were found by others for the 6C claim in 2100. Eli himself has asked Reuters and received a response

Tony Watts has now leveraged your bad faith posting into an attack on Joe Romm.

Be proud

EliRabett said...

Reuters has issued a correction. The IEA is referring to the consequences at the turn of the coming century

"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (towards the end of this century), which would have devastating consequences for the planet," Fatih Birol, IEA's chief economist told Reuters. "

Hans von Storch said...

Eli Rabett, this is good news. Any idea what brought Reuters to do the correction?

This is only the second time that I have seen that blatant cases of alarmism have been revoked - the first was this Times Atlas story, with misleading info about retreat of ice.

If the attitude "we do not allow overselling of scientific results" is spreading in the climate science community that would be good. So far, unfortunately, the "it is overselling, but it may help the good. Overcoming this "cavalier" attitude would be a step towards sustainability of the provision of scientific knowledge to society.

Thus, let es be optimistic, that a dialog beyond political claims making is possible.

PS: Sorry for my incorrect division of two numbers. Of course, it would be (6 - 1)deg / 38 years = 0.13 deg/yr, now (6-1)deg /88 years = 0.056 deg/yr.

Anonymous said...


"Any idea what brought Reuters to do the correction?"

Yes, Eli performed due diligence by fact checking this extraordinary claim by emailing Reuters and asking for clarification.

Please follow Eli's link that provides a full exposition of how the article was corrected.

One should also be clear about the precise events that took place from this point on. Biriol never made a claim that a 6oC temperature rise would occur by 2050. This claim originated purely due to confusion on the part of the Reuters journalist and can not be attributed to Biriol. Thus, narratives such as the claim was "revoked", or that Biriol was caught exaggerating and then retracted, do not fit with the facts. This was not a case of a person knowledgeable and accepting of current climate science consensus willfully making an exaggerated claim.

Paul H

Hans von Storch said...

No, Paul H. Very likely you are not right.

I am used to deal with journalists and news agencies. Direct quotes are usually (not always) authorized: I would presume that a powerful political organization like IEA knows how to make sure that this happens. But, let's assume that they failed to do so - the IEA certainly saw what was printed. In that case I would expect the IEA to interfere, because such organizations monitor their medial outreach. You could argue, they did but reuters did not accept the critique. But why would reuters accept the correction by the private person Eli Rabett? (Therefore I asked WHO approached reuters.)

I suspect that Biriol and IEA had no objections against being misquoted. That is the attitude we have to overcome.

People, who interact with media all the time, know the business - of hiding behind "it was the media, I never said anything of this sort".

"Revoking" referred to reuters - they did, did they?

hvw said...

Hans von Storch,

let me get this straight. The powerful political organization IEA either "makes happen" this ridiculously wrong statement while preserving deniability on their part, possibly including the cleansing of Birol's transcript and slides. Or, at least, said powerful organization doesn't object being misquoted because despite all their power and monitoring of public outreach somehow it escaped their attention that the only effect of this statement taken seriously was to make their chief economist look like a clueless idiot. Also they immediately use their powers to put pressure on Reuters to put in turn pressure on their reporter, Michael Rose, so he blatantly lies in response to an inquiry about where that "by 2050" actually came from and takes the blame himself to cover up the machinations of IEA.

This is your narrative.

I consider retracting my retraction of implying a "conspiracy theory" at work here.

Hans von Storch said...

hvw - again, this is not a conspiracy, but stupidity or laziness. IEA and/or Biriol did not mind being misquoted, because they thought the misquote being irrelevant or advantageous, but not detrimental to the whole cause (what it was).

Anonymous said...


"But why would reuters accept the correction by the private person Eli Rabett?"

No idea, but they appear to have done judging by the email correspondence reproduced in Eli's link between Eli and Reuters.

""Revoking" referred to reuters"

OK, sorry. That wasn't clear to me since it was immediately followed with a discussion of "overselling of scientific results" that is "spreading in the **climate science community**".

Reading Reuters' response to Eli:

"As you said in your message, Birol did not specify a date for that 6°C increase, and that’s why “by 2050” was between brackets in the story, to show that this was added by Reuters for context."


"Considering the target for a 2°C trajectory is 2050 and this is the timeframe always referred to in climate change discussions, we thought Birol was comparing like for like, or else why give a number and no date."

Reuters indicated that they made an assumption about what Biriol said.

And lastly from Eli's exchange, Reuters said:

"After reading what you sent me, I’ll certainly check that with him and issue a correction if need be."

Lo and behold after that the article got corrected. Did that happen by chance, some other unidentified occurrence, or did Reuters follow through on their word?

"I suspect that Biriol and IEA had no objections against being misquoted."

Lacking any direct evidence of malfeasance I think it has to come down to values and judgment as to whether you think Biriol deliberately neglected to say 2100. I personally prefer to wait for direct evidence before maligning someone's character, but you are welcome to your speculation.

There are equally subjective arguments to the contrary as to why Biriol would suicide his credibility in such spectacular fashion.

And I leave you with this last conundrum: If Biriol was so happy with being misquoted why, as we can surmise from Eli's emails, did Reuters then correct the article after contacting IEA/Biriol? If this timeline of events is true your narrative is inconsistent with the facts.

Paul H

hvw said...

Hans von Storch,

stupidity in misjudging the potential effect of this error by Reuters, or pure laziness, (or just un-awareness I might add). Now we agree. And that sounds pretty different from the original:

I consider this pure alarmism, which is related to the timing, and a misuse of scientific analysis for creating some unsustainable short term drama for the Bonn-negotiations.

What do you think about the possibility that your initial reaction quoted above might have been "detrimental to the whole cause", given the blogsphere dynamics described by Eli?

EliRabett said...

C'mon, it was fairly clear from the comment exchange at Quark Soup that something was wrong with that quote, based on the parentheses and the other statements which Birol has made and the World Energy Report, etc. DA did a good job showing why 2050 was risible.

Given that, it was Klimazwiebel that had a cow, and it was equally clear that it was not going to end well.

Digging in like this only makes you look like what you profess to hate. It is revealing what the reaction has been here, at Watts' and at Quark Soup. Better is expected of you and if you don't let go some, not Eli to be sure, are going to really use it against you. Some days you just fold your cards

Hans von Storch said...

Eli, ich muß zugeben, Deine Sprache ist schon interessant. Offenbar ist es Dir egal, ob andere verstehen, was Du sagst, dann kann ich auch auf Deutsch schreiben. Eller på dansk.

Ich finde es toll, dass Du die Revision bei Reuters hinbekommen hast, aber vielleicht guckst Du Dir doch noch mal an, was ich daraufhin geschrieben habe. Dein Einsatz hat eine hilfreiche Klärung bewirkt, entschärft aber nicht das Argument, dass erstens IEA den Anlaß genommen hat (Bonn), und dann eine Unsauberheit bei Reuters, die Reuters offenbar gerne korrigiert hat, unbeachtet lies -obwohl dies einfach richtig zu stellen gewesen wäre, wie Du schön demonstriert hast. Danke dafür.

Quark Soup ist mir übrigens nicht bekannt, was ist das?

Anonymous said...

@ Hans von Storch

Ja, warum nicht auf deutsch? Eli is a smart bunny and I'm sure he will understand.

Dass die Sache merkwürdig ist, ist auch hiesigen Lesern sofort aufgefallen (s. #4 bzw. man lese den Schlussteil des Reuter-Artikels).

Wenn ich dann noch Reiner Grundmanns #1 hinzunehme, dann stelle ich fest, dass die Berichterstattung der Klimazwiebel über Alarmismus gegenwärtig selbst zum Alarmismus neigt.


EliRabett said...

FWIW, Eli's experience is that if you write simply laying out the facts and ask simple questions to reporters you get an answer. It may not be the one you want, but you usually get an answer.

Of course, this is different with "churnalists" [cut and paste experts].

Hans von Storch said...

Some may have noticed that I am not responding to some comments, in particular after a longer exchange - this means that I consider it worthless to continue the debate; if my opponent likes to have the last word, be it so. I do not mind.

Anonymous said...

I give the last words the honorable Anthony (Tony) Watts:

"REPLY: Except, the quote exists, so obviously your “no one was talking about 6C by 2050″ is just another rabett tale. BTW, Hr. Halpern, my name is not Tony, its Anthony."

Who cares that Reuter fixed the quote? A quote is a quote, no need for updates and corrections.


Hans von Storch said...

No, Andreas "A quote is a quote, no need for updates and corrections.
" is certainly not an accurate description of a complex practice in journalism. Is a quote something, which was said, or something which was heard, something which was overheard, something authorized, something with a context, something which lost context?

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one to find it rather irritating that there is no correction in the article or a mention of the Reuters correction?

The correction was issued 20 hours ago. It has been acknowledged by the author of the article 19.5 hours ago.

Yet there is no correction of the article, the Reuters error is still attributed to Birol, preceded by some weird conspiracy theory.

Very, very irritating.


Anonymous said...

I like the fact that Fatih cames to the IEA from.... (drumroll)...OPEC.

Hans von Storch said...

Als ein weiteres Beispiel für die kritiklose Nutzung eines Kliamwnadle-KOnzepts, siehe mit der Unterschrift

"31.05.2012 - Der globale Klimawandel als Urlaubsspektakel: Bei einer Bootsfahrt in Patagonien filmt ein Hobbykameramann den Upsala Gletscher. Plötzlich gerät die Eismasse in Bewegung und kippt um."

Warum solle dies mit Klimawandel zu tun haben, fragt man sich?