Coverage of the Hearings

The response to the hearings is predictable.

Traditional media:

The Daily Mail:

Giving evidence to a Science and Technology Committee inquiry, the Institute of Physics said: ‘Unless the disclosed emails are proved to be forgeries or adaptations, worrying implications arise for the integrity of scientific research and for the credibility of the scientific method.

‘The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital.’

Last month, the Information Commissioner ruled the CRU had broken Freedom of Information rules by refusing to hand over raw data.

But yesterday Professor Jones – in his first public appearance since the scandal broke – denied manipulating the figures.

Looking pale and clasping his shaking hands in front of him, he told MPs: ‘I have obviously written some pretty awful emails.’

He admitted withholding data about global temperatures but said the information was publicly available from American websites.

And he claimed it was not ‘standard practice’ to release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research.

Of course, there is no mention of the IOP amending issuing a statement clarifying their submission to prevent denialists from misinterpreting it.

The Institute’s statement, which has been published both on the Institute’s website and the Committee’s, has been interpreted by some individuals to imply that it does not support the scientific evidence that the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is contributing to global warming.

That is not the case. The Institute’s position on climate change is clear: the basic science is well enough understood to be sure that our climate is changing – and that we need to take action now to mitigate that change.

More information about IOP’s views

The Institute’s response to the Committee inquiry was approved by its Science Board, a formal committee of the Institute with delegated authority from its trustees to oversee its policy work.

It reflected our belief that the open exchange of data, procedures and materials is fundamental to the scientific process.  From the information already in the public domain it appears that these principles have been put at risk in the present case, and that this has undermined the trust that is placed in the scientific process.

These comments, focused on the scientific process, should not be interpreted to mean that the Institute believes that the science itself is flawed.

Also, the article gets it wrong about the Information Commissioner ‘ruling’. But we won’t let facts get in the way of a good story. A quick glance at the Daily Mail (online) tells it all — this is a piece of … trash. I wouldn’t call it journalism.

The Guardian:

Whatever your view on man-made global warming, you had to feel sorry for Professor Phil Jones, the man behind the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia. He has already compared himself to Dr David Kelly, and has said he even briefly contemplated suicide.

Today he made his first public appearance since the row began. He looked taut, nervous, often miserable. At times his hands shook. For those of us who, seven years ago, watched Kelly give evidence to another committee, the resemblance was disturbing and painful.

I liked this bit:

Finally Jones was released and he made a sudden, grateful escape. He hadn’t been helped by an earlier witness, Lord Lawson, father of Nigella and now Britain’s best known climate sceptic. With the aggression of someone who used to go eyeball to eyeball with Margaret Thatcher, Lawson laid about the “climate alarmists” and, without naming Jones, spoke with dripping contempt. “Proper scientists, scientists with integrity, wish to reveal their data and all their methods. They do not require freedom of information requests!”

He was asked why he didn’t reveal the name of all his donors. “This is called playing the man and not the ball, and in football he’d get a yellow card!”

Lawson has been around long enough to see off pipsqueak MPs, even if their questions are, actually, quite valid.

Yes it was quite valid and the MPs did back down like wimps on that one. I thought Lawson was a buffoon.

I did like to see this headline from the Guardian: Institute of Physics forced to clarify submission to climate emails inquiry:

In a statement issued today the institute said its written submission to the committee “has been interpreted by some individuals to imply that it does not support the scientific evidence that the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is contributing to global warming.”

It says: “That is not the case. The institute’s position on climate change is clear: the basic science is well enough understood to be sure that our climate is changing, and that we need to take action now to mitigate that change.”

The institute said its critical comments were focused on the scientific process, and “should not be interpreted to mean that the institute believes that the science itself is flawed.”

The statement appears to contradict sections of the original submission, which suggests the emails showed scientists had cherry-picked data to support conclusions and that some key reconstructions of past temperature cannot be relied upon.

The institute statement says its submission was approved by its science board, a formal committee of experts that oversees its policy work.

The Guardian has been unable to find a member of the board that supports the submission. Two of the scientists listed as members said they had declined to comment on a draft submission prepared by the institute, because they were not climate experts and had not read the UEA emails. Others would not comment or did not respond to enquiries.

Interesting how much spreading of the IOP’s submission I saw but very little about this backtracking 0r ‘clarification’.

Here’s The Register, which starts out this way

Parliament isn’t the place where climate sceptics go to make friends. Just over a year ago,just three MPs voted against the Climate Act, with 463 supporting it. But events took a surprising turn at Parliament’s first Climategate hearing yesterday.

MPs who began by roasting sceptics in a bath of warm sarcasm for half an hour were, a mere two hours later, asking why the University of East Anglia’s enquiry into the climate scandal wasn’t broader, and wasn’t questioning “the science” of climate change. That’s further than any sceptic witness had gone.

In between, they’d wrought an admission from CRU director Phil Jones that he’d written some awful emails, and that during peer review nobody had ever asked to see his raw data or methods.

Perhaps the Honourable Members had noticed an incongruity. The Vice Chancellor of East Anglia, with Jones seated next to him, had said CRU had made a significant contribution to the human scientific understanding of climate change. Yet the practices of CRU looked more tatty and indefensible as the hearing went on. How could CRU be crucial to the science, but the science could not be discussed? Something was not quite right.

It ends with:

None of this could have been predicted when Lord Lawson and Benny Piesar from the Global Warming Policy Foundation opened the hearing. Both got a duffing up, with Tim Boswell (Con) and Stewart trying to turn it into an inquiry into Nigel Lawson. Lawson had said the GWPF refused donations from energy interests, but kept donors anonymous.

The GWPF had made a tactical decision not to question the science, but procedures – similar to Russell’s view of his remit. They’d stressed that if Jones and colleagues had behaved properly, there would have been no FOIA requests implying there would be no leak and no inquiry.

That chimes with the view that Climategate is a disaster of the climate scientists’ own making. At that stage in the day, MPs were sceptical that anything significant was being withheld, and if it was, it was for justifiable, perhaps even honourable reasons.

Three hours later, the day closed with three big guns of the scientific establishment and most prominent advocates of warming: former IPCC chair Bob Watson, the Government’s chief scientific advisor John Beddington, and head scientist at the Met Office, Julia Slingo OBE. Since the story broke, Watson has been a prominent in emphasising the “Keep Calm and Carry On” message: that the science is untouched, and cannot be questioned.

The three were slightly too chummy and jovial, and seemed unaware of the connection MPs had made: that rotten scientists perhaps mean rotten science.

I agree the skeptics took a ‘duffing’ – deservedly so. However, I thought that the final three were strong in countering the dreck that skeptics have been putting out there in la la land. Of course, it’s very interesting to see the different takes people have on the same hearing.

Here’s The Telegraph, which suggests that the dominoes are close to falling:

So, if the good old CRU at East Anglia has been churning out garbage, there is no way of building a firewall between it and the other organisations on which the IPCC relies: they all go down together. And down they are going, beyond peradventure. It is a changed world from Copenhagen. Even leaving aside the discrediting of the AGW scam, the $45 trillion Danegeld to carbon companies is no longer going to materialise, since Barack Obama’s Cap and Trade (cap and bells, more like) ploy is already in the Congressional garbage can, as a consequence of his becoming a lame-duck president since the Massachusetts election.

The American Conspiracy Theorist Thinker claims that the WWF and other scientists are motivated by greed: Climategate: Is it criminal?

Trading on the European Climate Exchange is open to the world market, but the carbon credits only involve the European Union (EU) nations giving brokers the ability to hide trading activities in other countries and avoid paying taxes. This is known as a Carousel Fraud. Curiously, this thread of tax avoidance is also spun into the tangled web of e-mails from East Anglia University. In one of the e-mails dated 6 March 1996, two members of the Jones Gang, Stepan Shiyatov and Dr. Kieth Briffa, discuss how to avoid paying taxes in Russia:

Also, it is important for us if you can transfer the ADVANCE money on the personal accounts which we gave you earlier and the sum for one occasion transfer (for example, during one day) will not be more than 10,000 USD. Only in this case we can avoid big taxes and use money for our work as much as possible.

This is not an isolated e-mail concerning money. On 7 October 1997, Andrew Kerr of the World Wild Life Fund (WWF) sent an e-mail to essentially the entire global network of the Jones Gang expressing grave concerns that Kyoto would be a “flop” and fretted about the possible economic impact it might have…

Here’s a key element of denialism: reverse the logic. Turn the accusations against your enemy that have been made against you, even if they make no sense. This is a good example — the argument that climate scientists and AGW advocates are motivated by the money they will make in alternative energy and technology…

But when you mention the financial interests of the fossil fuel industry and their funding of denialism, you get accusations of being a ‘commie’ or ‘anti-capitalist’ or a ‘conspiracy theorist’. If there ever was a clear case of mucking up the science to protect financial interests, it’s on the part of the petroleum and coal industries and related economic sectors. One has to conclude that they figure the masses are so stupid that a simple reversal is enough to convince them that the lie is in fact, truth.

The ‘Skeptic’ Blogs: (and I say that with scary quotes)

CA:

Interestingly, McIntyre does not comment besides posting a few quotes from other media. This is typical. He lets his chorus do the dirty work.

vboring
Posted Mar 2, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PermalinkReply

Maybe for those who have been following this issue for longer, reading mockery of Jones is vindication.

To me, it is a bit sad. This is a man who believed that the danger that humanity poses to itself is so extreme as to justify abandoning scientific principles in order to convince people to do something about it. Even for a climate scientist, this must have been a difficult path to go down that could only be justified based on a hope of saving humanity from itself.

He may have acted in a corrupt manner, but he did it with the best intentions. And that is a bit sad.

Hopefully the scientific process will be reformed so that others will not have to make the choice between principles and beliefs by making it impossible to seem credible while hiding data and methods.

This is mild compared to others:

Jeffrey Naujok

intentions are the most dangerous path in science. We don’t give Josef Mengele sympathy or a pass because of all the good things that came out of his research on hypothermia, because his methods (abuse, torture, and killing of prisoners) was an abomination. He worked with the “good intentions” of saving German sailors and pilots from hypothermia in the ocean.

In this case, it’s not that Jones was actively killing anyone (passively is another question:http://blogs.philadelphiaweekly.com/politics/2010/03/02/baby-shot-in-global-warming-suicide-pact-somebody-should-sue-al-gore/) but his work is, in a way even worse.

…Jones may have started with good intentions, but like any path paved with good intentions, it led him straight to the hell he is mired in today. A destination he earned and so justly deserves.[my emphasis]

When someone calls Godwin’s Law,

Come on, Jeffrey, you just proved Godwin’s law early in the discussion, and thereby lost the argument by reductio ad Hitlerum. However much you disagree with Jones’s ideas, actions and methods he is no Mengele, for pity’s sake, even for rhetorical purposes.

Richard Drake is having none of it, for he thinks the analogy is appropriate. Yes, Mengele and Jones — they do belong together in the same sentence — on CA, that is.

I beg to differ. I think the point about Mengele was well made, in this context. We should talk about the guy more often, not as a monster but as a genuine scientist who went horribly wrong, because that’s what he was. Nobody’s saying Jones reached anything like the same depths. But the good intentions bit deserved this challenge.

I’ve never rated Godwin. The problem with his law is that when it’s OK to break it it’s often vital to do so. It never seemed to me to make for good net ‘jurisprudence’. And there was nothing ad hominem about this, which is the normal case I’ve heard cited.

David Bailey likes this talk of AGW and costing lives:

I really doubt if Prof Jones was motivated by an intense fear for humanity! He must have seen how tenuous was the data supporting AGW!

It is important to remember that making the changes demanded by AGW enthusiasts will cost lives. You can’t make a change of that magnitude without killing people, if only because so much resource will have to be redirected into alternative energy sources.

Prof Jones was a second rate researcher that thought he had a lucky break by finding a subject that was rewarded well without much scrutiny.

Dave Andrews thinks the scientists were motivated by fame and fortune:

Steve may snip this but whilst ‘the lust for fame and power’ is an accusation that I think could be levelled at people like Mann, and possibly Hansen, in the case of Jones and some others I think they were largely overtaken by the political processes of the UN. Suddenly they were ‘the most important scientists in the world’, feted at every turn.

Of course, McIntyre lets all this go on without comment. Like I say, he drops the crumbs and the nutcases follow the trail.

WUWT covers it as well:

Symon sums up the questioning: “They don’t exactly give PJ a tough ride, do they? To quote the former UK Labour Chancellor Denis Healey, it was like being savaged by a dead sheep…”. Fred Pearce of the Guardian commented that: “…the Commons committee tiptoed round embattled scientist and sidestepped crucial questions”.

Paul sez:

Jones kept saying that the “products were available” over and over again. So I guess according to him there is no problem. When pressed for the underlying data, he said that it was available at NASA ans NOAA. Phil, you idiot! We don’t trust you. I want to be able to take YOUR data and confirm that YOUR data isn’t faulty. then take your data and process it with your computer filters to confirm that you haven’t, with your programmes forced results to confirm your hypothesis, then check YOUR programs to be certain that you haven’t manipulated the software. It does me no good to look at your “product” or other people’s data when your behavior is what I trust the least.

Stop referring to other people’s data and your “product”. What a bullshitter!

Supercritical’s powers of reason are supercritical:

Did you see the Government Chief Scientific Advisor get a bit of a telling-off at the end?

From watching that session I’d say that CRU,UEA, the Met office, AGW theory, are now toast.

Paul also sez quite authoritatively:

Also the Chief Obfuscator Acton lied when he said that Canada wouldn’t allow the release of the data. That is a complete lie. Canada make no such restrictions. The only thing Cnada would like is the acknowledgment that they participated in the data collection and according requests that data links point sto environment Canada, which make all data publicly available. I know because I use it every day.

This is what those academic scientific dictators do. They nuance lies.

This cracked me up:

Gore and The UN IPCC should be forced to give back their Nobel Peace Prize. The flaws in Gore’s film and the errors in the 2007 UN IPCC Report that have been discovered since the award was given should disqualify both parties. Irena Sendler who risked her life daily during World War II to save the lives of over 2,500 Jewish children is much more deserving. Please sign the petition to demand that Gore and the UN IPCC have their award taken away. http://www.stripgore.com

I think I’ll start a new law for losing arguments:

The Shewonk Law: The mention of Al Gore in a post on climate change that has nothing to do with Al Gore is grounds for epic fail.


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118 Responses to “Coverage of the Hearings”

  1. The IoP did not “amend” their submission.

    Their submission is unchanged.

    What they did do is issue a statement to the public clarifying that their submission was about the scientific process, and not about their conclusions about climate change.

    Some people (on both sides of the debate) had wrongly interpreted it as being about the latter (i.e. conclusions about climate change), when it was and still is entirely about the former (i.e. scientific process).

    • Yes, mea culpa — they did not ‘amend’ it and resubmit. They issued a statement that their submission:

      “has been interpreted by some individuals to imply that it does not support the scientific evidence that the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is contributing to global warming.

      That is not the case. The Institute’s position on climate change is clear: the basic science is well enough understood to be sure that our climate is changing – and that we need to take action now to mitigate that change.”

      It wasn’t those who support the science and agree that the basic science is well enough understood to be sure that our climate is changing – and that we need to take action now to mitigate that change.

      It was the other group — the ones who deny this. You know — denialists.

  2. Well, JasonP posts…
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/mar/01/phil-jones-commons-emails-inquiry?showallcomments=true#end-of-comments
    _________________________________________________________________________

    ” Stringer said scientists make their reputations by proving or disproving what other scientists have done. He forced Jones to admit that contrary to his initial statement, the code wasn?t available for independent scientists to test the work. So how can science progress, Stringer wondered.
    ~ertdfg

    No he didn’t. Code for processing data for the HadCRUT global temperature series is available from the UK Met Office website. Stringer asked if code was available for all the papers that Jones had ever worked on. Jones replied ‘No.’

    Drum roll please – Ladies and gentlemen, may I present: The Code…

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/science/monitoring/reference/station_gridder.perl

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/science/monitoring/reference/make_global_average_ts_ascii.perl
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Those links are worth a bookmark, perhaps.

  3. “Their submission is unchanged.”

    True…for now. One wonders who really approved of the submission in the first place. From the Guardian article:

    “The institute statement says its submission was approved by its science board, a formal committee of experts that oversees its policy work.

    The Guardian has been unable to find a member of the board that supports the submission. Two of the scientists listed as members said they had declined to comment on a draft submission prepared by the institute, because they were not climate experts and had not read the UEA emails. Others would not comment or did not respond to enquiries.”

    Many of the statements made in the submission were very inappropriate and reflects poorly in the institute. I hope they will significantly amend it and that enough members speak up, which appears to be happening.

  4. shewonk :
    It wasn’t those who support the science and agree that the basic science is well enough understood to be sure that our climate is changing – and that we need to take action now to mitigate that change.
    It was the other group — the ones who deny this. You know — denialists.

    There’s already a meme-in-the-works that there are no deniasaurs making such claims, but here’s one for future reference: Andrew Bolt
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/institute_of_physics_damns_the_climategaters_science#67690

    ” This submission in effect warns that this recent warming may not be unprecedented, after all, and those that claim it is may have been blinded by bias or simply fiddled their results and suppressed dissent.

    I’ll repeat: Climategate reveals the greatest scientific scandal of our lifetime.”

    And Comical Tony repeats the meme here:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/27/16772/

  5. Comical Tony, yes, let’s get that monicker rolling!

    (it’s an allusion to Comical Ali that came up over on Open Mind)

  6. Last month, the Information Commissioner ruled the CRU had broken Freedom of Information rules by refusing to hand over raw data.

    And there has been no ruling. The statement discussed the deletion of e-mails, not the refusal to hand over raw data, and as that would be a criminal offense only a court can rule, with Jones entitled to legal defense.

  7. Why name a formal committee of experts that oversees policy work a science board?

  8. This site is a waste of time. Why do you bother, take up something useful — maybe knitting.

    ray

    • I’m disappointed you didn’t tell me to find a man, (which I already have) but I believe Mosher beat you to it. 😉

      Sent from my iPhone

  9. ray sounds like an archetypal denier type.

  10. Gavin's Pussycat Reply March 3, 2010 at 4:04 am

    And a chauvinist Sus domestica.

  11. Copner – indeed, the IOP seems unable to write clear unambigous english, to the extent that a great many people have misinterpreted their submission. This should reflect badly upon the IOP. Call themselves scientists?

    The information commission has still not gotten back to me regarding my inquiry about the careless statement issued last year by one of their high heid yins. They’ve got a week or two longer…

  12. Came across this summary, by Olive Hefferman, of her article published in Nature last year:

    http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2009/08/mcintyre_versus_jones_climate_1.html

    What’s next?
    Given that McIntyre’s wish for access to the data will take time to be granted, this dispute will likely continue for some time. He’s especially aggrieved by the fact that hurricane expert Peter Webster at Georgia Tech University was recently provided with data that had been refused to him. McIntyre’s point here is that he should be treated as a legitimate academic given his background and publication record.

    But Webster points out that he was allowed access because of the nature of his request, which was very specific and will result in a joint publication with Phil Jones. “Reasonable requests should be fulfilled because making data available advances science”, says Webster, “but it has to be an authentic request because otherwise you’d be swamped”.

    Once the data become publicly available, Jones wants McIntyre to produce a global temperature record. “Science advances that way. He might then realize how robust the global temperature record is”, says Jones. Asked if he would take on the challenge, McIntyre said that it’s not a priority for him, but added “if someone wanted to hire me, I’d do it”.

    Anyone recognise the name Webster? Anyone remember McIntyre’s words?

    If McIntyre’s a scientist I’m a policeman. At least I once made a citizen’s arrest that stuck in court, but, no, I don’t go around since claiming to be a copper. Big difference, you see.

  13. A moderator – presumably Steve McIntyre – actually deleted the references to Mengele. Are you going to delete the corresponding parts of your post in response to that, out of interest? I’m completely easy about Steve taking that stuff out, because Climate Audit is his place and I fully accept that hitting the right tone is vital and difficult.

    Having said that, if someone wants to think through the history of Eugenics, including the movement in the US and its support for Otmar von Verschuer and Mengele in Germany, I’d be happy to. Richard Lindzen is one of those that sees parallels with AGW. As I do. What I don’t do and won’t do is use a name for those that accept AGW as a potential disaster today that implies that they are equivalent to mass murderers or those that sympathize with them. Climate nazis would as bad for me as climate deniers – but no worse.

    Talking of which, I’m very happy with the Guardian’s decision to drop the denier label. Anyone got any thoughts on that?

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, I will be happy to amend my post to indicate that Steve moderated that reference. I am glad that he saw fit to do so.

      As to the rest of your comment, you are of course entitled to your opinion on the validity of any analogy. I am entitled to disagree with that opinion.

      Please, if you are going to make a claim about potential harm from action to mitigate CO2, back the claim up with empirical evidence / data / projections that have some support in peer reviewed literature so that a very meaningless debate in which names and accusations are thrown around doesn’t result.

      Sent from my iPhone

  14. Where would you recommend I look for peer reviewed papers on the issue on how the bottom billion will be affected if their nations are prevented from using coal to generate electricity because of emission reduction measures of any kind (including informal measures that blocs like the EU have been known to use to put pressure on developing nations)?

  15. Richard, Ok, ‘denier’ rubs some people the wrong way. But IMO they are often just invoking that out of convenience, (it is an easy out) and to detract from the reality, that they are in denial about the unfortunate news regarding AGW. I, for one, usually speak of “those in denial” or “denialists”. I also sometimes use the term “contrarian”. I most certaily do not refer to them as “skeptics”. That is a term that the Guardian and other media outlets (incl. BBC) should also consider revising when referring to those in denial.

    People deny the existence of things every day, that does not by default suggest in any way shape or form that they are a holocaust denier. This morning my wife asked me if I had spilt some coffee on the counter, I denied doing so. Saying that that does not make me a denier of the holocaust.

    As for Lindzen’s bizarre parallel/analogy….I would suggest that he keep working at trying to get a handle on climate sensitivity without making the mistake of confirmation bias, rather than making outrageous musings about parallels between AGW and eugenics.

    Someone should also have a word with the ‘esteemed’ and ‘reputable’ Monckon on bad mouthing Jews and making references to Hitler over and over again.

    I have also been labeled a “climate jihadist’ or ‘eco terrorist’ by the denialists. That is a very direct attempt to belittle, label and undermine someone’s credibility. Saying someone is a ‘denier of AGW’ is stating a fact. And maybe that is the critical difference, instead of simply stating ‘denier’, state ‘denier of AGW’, then there is context.

  16. Richard, @17, you do the leg work. Governments, think thanks and others have mad some projections on the costs of addressing AGW versus business as usual. And your comment about the impact on developing nations sounds like a card played by Monckton. You are beginning to sound like a concern troll. Have you heard of inter generational equity?

    When you are inundated by water, then nothing else matters but survival, and *currently* 160 million people live <1 m above sea level (from Copenhagen Diagnosis). Latest estimate of sea level rise by 2100 is 1.5 m (SCAR), and sea levels will continue to rise well beyond 2100.

  17. In an effort to demonize those using the term “denier”, some often claim that the term is used to compare global warming skeptics to “Holocaust deniers”. While there are a few examples of this, the term is actually quite generic, and is more comparable to other areas of science denial, such as evolution or smoking’s effect on health.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denialism#Examples_of_use

    The term “denier” is actually a bit too soft of a word to describe what some folks are doing. It implies that expressions of ignorance are genuine. Some folks are smart enough to know better.

  18. Richard Drake :Where would you recommend I look for peer reviewed papers on the issue on how the bottom billion will be affected if their nations are prevented from using coal to generate electricity because of emission reduction measures of any kind (including informal measures that blocs like the EU have been known to use to put pressure on developing nations)?

    Right, now we’re supposedly concerned about the poor not being able/allowed to use coal. They can’t even buy the stuff! Well, they can maybe get some of the subsidised coal from Germany (2-3 billion euros of subsidies a year, fortunately a bit lower than many years ago, when it was in the tens of billions).

    And if you are so concerned, I guess you are also heavily lobbying against all those trade agreements we (=the Western world) literally impose on the Third World countries? Dumping our foodstuff, so local farmers can’t make a penny?

  19. Why do the bottom billion need to use coal? Many countries are using hydroelectricity, and have a great deal of solar energy available.
    If you also look up coal reserves by country, you find that about the only really developing country with tonnes of coal is South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Neither of which are desperately short of other energy sources such as solar power. Or there is India, which has been happily exploiting its coal reserves by the megatonne for decades, so it is a little hard to see what your problem is. If you can find a billion people in developing countries who don’t have access to electricity or other energy sources and would be helped by coal, let me know. (And if of course INdia could manage CCS that would be helpful)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_by_country

  20. Thank you for the replies.

    Before we go further, did anyone see the history of the term ‘climate denial’ I provided to the Select Committee in advance of the hearings?

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc37a02.htm

    That was an email I wrote to the chairman, Phil Willis, on Monday 22 Feb, twelve days after their official deadline for submissions, so I wasn’t expecting them to publish it, to be honest. There are three places that you can’t see the indentation of quotes that were there in the original. Even so, it’s pretty readable and the links work.

    Given the background, do you think that Mike Hulme was right to compare a fellow Professor’s work on the Sahel with holocaust denial in May 2004?

    With the benefit of hindsight, do you think Margo Kingston was right to compare those questioning the reported rate of melting of the Himalayan Glaciers with Holocaust deniers like David Irving in November 2005? And that such people were guilty of a crime against humanity?

    Doesn’t what has happened since in both cases rings alarm bells for anyone?

    When you look at the progression of the term in history don’t you think it’s understandable that those of us that have had questions about AGW at some level (which has been true for me since meeting a very experienced geologist with doubts around 1992) have felt that the term was highly offensive? That it was always tainted for us by this original and direct comparison with Holocaust denial?

    Do you agree at least that Phil Willis, as chairman of the Select Committee, should not have used the term climate deniers in talking about the purpose of the new Inquiry, for which he did, to his great credit, apologise when picked up on it in an email by Philip Bradby?

    On the issue of electricity for the poorest in the world, I admit that I’m surprised that some have treated this as if it was a new concern. Questions on that then:

    1. You’ve heard of the Great Global Warming Swindle in March 2007. How did that film end?

    2. You’ve heard of Freeman Dyson, the brilliant physicist and fellow of the UK Royal Society? What is his biggest divergence from James Hansen on the policy issues concerning man-made CO2? For many, many years now that is.

    It’s not new as a concern and I believe it’s a absolutely vital concern. I am genuinely very surprised that you don’t know this among those who are “policy sceptics” on AGW, as I defined it yesterday after the Guardian annoucement:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/01/climate-change-scepticism-style-guide?showallcomments=true#CommentKey:57653dcc-9842-4907-8b99-2f36778916cc

    For the two billion without electricity in the world I find it very hard to believe that flooding is the major concern for all of them. I also find it very plausible that the lowest possible price for electricity will lead to the greatest numbers being able to afford it and thus avoid the terrible death rates of their children due to inhalation of smoke from fires in huts – and all that kind of thing.

    But I was also genuine in asking about peer reviewed papers in this area.

  21. One correction there. It was Martin Brumby who wrote to Phil Willis about his use of the term climate deniers, not Philip Bradby:

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/1/22/whos-on-the-select-committee.html?currentPage=2#comments

  22. MarkB :
    In an effort to demonize those using the term “denier”, some often claim that the term is used to compare global warming skeptics to “Holocaust deniers”.

    Then, some often forgets that the Holocaust deniers are properly called negationnists:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_revisionism_%28negationism%29

    The root of all evils in name-calling lies in the use of epithets instead of naming the thesis. (Always better to state the thesis, actually.) Some might take offense in being called warmists, even if that does not refer to anything in particular, or maybe because it does not mean anything in particular. Nobody wants to be called names, whatever the epithet. Even superlatives becomes insult, like Republicans did with Obama in the election.

    Somehow, labels are necessary shortcuts. It takes more effort to name or state a thesis than to use an epithet. Either you don’t mind using epithets, in which case you can’t complain about others, or you don’t, in which case you have to tolerate others’ lack of sensitiveness. As long as it does not go a bridge too far, of course.

    In any case, there are easy ways to insult the intelligence of interlocutors without insulting them outright: Richard Drake’s comment in #17 is a very good example.

    PS: Nice distinction, btw, MarkB!

  23. How about Climate Tea-Partiers instead of denialists?

  24. Richard Drake :

    Where would you recommend I look for peer reviewed papers on the issue on how the bottom billion will be affected if their nations are prevented from using coal to generate electricity because of emission reduction measures of any kind (including informal measures that blocs like the EU have been known to use to put pressure on developing nations)?

    That is a problem isn’t it when trying to construct well-reasoned claims backed up with solid evidence… if there is none, it kind of falls into opinion.

    I suggest it’s always best to couch such statements in terms of “it is my opinion that the x group will be thusly affected by y action…” You could always add, “I have no basis for this opinion — it just came to me the other day out of the blue and sounded damn smart!” or something to that effect. 😉

  25. Richard, you are being incredibly disingenuous and patronizing. People in the know are all too familiar with these challenges.

    In South Africa, there is a big move to provide people with electricity and hot water using solar, and that is just one example. There are ways of addressing the problem without building coal-fired plants. You just like to neglect that and use the Monckton card. ‘Wipe’ away those crocodile tears, and stop presenting false choices. We can do both (address AGW and help developing nations), and you know that damn well.

    The truth is people can make do with very electricity if they have to, but they cannot breath under water. You are also forgetting the impact of AGW on soil moisture (read Dai et al. 2004, J. Climate), and the possibility of more frequent crop failures. Lower yields from thermal stress on crops. I could go on, but you I understand that I am simply wasting my time.

  26. MapleLeaf :
    In South Africa, there is a big move to provide people with electricity and hot water using solar, and that is just one example.

    This might be of interest if not seen already:
    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=49878

    CAIRO, Jan 3, 2010 (IPS) – In one of the poorest and most populous neighborhoods of Cairo, Hussein Soliman and his family live in a small apartment that is a model of clean energy living.

    EGYPT: Rooftops Empower the Poor

    The two solar panels and bio-gas unit on the roof of Soliman’s building in Darb El-Ahmar provide hot water and cooking gas to his two-bedroom apartment, reducing his family’s carbon footprint and energy costs. The clean energy appliances, made mostly from recycled material, have reduced his household’s waste have meant that “my gas and electricity bills are much less than before,” says Soliman. They shaved nearly 50 percent off the utility bills…

  27. Thanks JBowers, encouraging. There is also a move in India to use cow dung to generate CH4 (lots of cows) and use that for cooking instead of burning coal, wood or dung and less particulate pollution and less carbon too. They pool the dung and have lines that can be used by the entire community. A low tech gas stove, go figure.

  28. I’ve obviously missed something: there must be ‘solid evidence’ that the two billion people on the planet currently without electricity will be just as well off or better off with what is currently much more expensive electricity. You haven’t actually cited that evidence, presumably because the sources are so obvious to you. Please go right ahead and do so.

    I’m immensely sorry that I came across as patronising by asking if you’d read my submission to the Select Committee on ‘climate denial’ and its cognates. I’m assuming that nobody did read it. Or did you read it and not bother to tell me?

  29. Richard Drake :

    I’ve obviously missed something: there must be ’solid evidence’ that the two billion people on the planet currently without electricity will be just as well off or better off with what is currently much more expensive electricity. You haven’t actually cited that evidence, presumably because the sources are so obvious to you. Please go right ahead and do so.

    Richard, I understand that the coal lobby most certainly wants that lower 2 billion to use coal-generated electricity — that’s a no-brainer. We’re approaching peak oil (or have recently passed it, depending on who you talk to) and that means price increases and massive profit taking for the coal industry as we are increasingly forced to switch to coal generated electricity for our energy requirements. Carbon taxes or carbon emissions limits legislation would throw a big spanner in that, wouldn’t they? Think of the fortunes! Made by people who will be dead in a decade or three, so what do they care? Besides, their children will likely be able to escape the worst effects of global warming, based on the global warming profit dollars their parents made.

    Here’s a little excerpt from a government forecast for American coal production up to 2030:

    The no GHG concern case illustrates the potential for a sizable increase in coal production. In the absence of a risk premium for carbon-intensive technologies, more new coal-fired power plants and CTL plants are built than in the reference case. In 2030, coal production in the no GHG concern case is 20 percent above the reference case projection (Figure 79). In contrast, if policies to reduce or limit GHG emissions were enacted in the future, they could result in significant reductions in coal use at existing power plants and limit the amount of new coal-fired capacity built in the future. The impact on coal use would depend on details of the policies, such as the allocation of emissions allowances, the inclusion of a “safety valve” or other mechanism to limit the price of allowances (and its level), and the inclusion of provisions to encourage the use of particular fuels or technologies.

    Those darn GHG policies! Once can see how they would affect the bottom line of the coal producers and why they would be most interested in influencing public policy development….

    ETA: Here’s more — on the outlook for coal in the short term:

    More recently there have been several debates regarding the effectiveness of “cap-and-trade.” Basically designed to impose a per-ton expense on carbon dioxide emissions, the coal and utility industries have been opposed to this system, claiming that it will drive up the cost of coal and put an effective tax onto people living in the Midwest U.S.
    The cap and trade system may pose long-term problems for the coal industry as it would increase the cost of coal, thereby decreasing its competitiveness as an energy source (and decreasing demand for it) and would force businesses to use less reliable and more expensive forms of energy.

    From Daily Markets.com: Coal Industry Outlook Improving

    I understand that the poorest 2 billion or so would really like our lifestyle. And you know what? I think they deserve it as every human does. The rub is that getting our lifestyle using coal is just going to really F things up royally according to the best science without the very rapid development of low – no carbon energy production technology.

    Yes, the top 2 billion or so pooched it up really well for them, haven’t we? Because of our excess and lack of care about the massive desequestration of carbon that has been kept out of circulation for hundreds of millions of years, we’ve probably ensured that their development will be slowed until we filthy lot fat cats develop clean technology for them.

    We’ve been a right bunch of selfish wankers, haven’t we?

  30. IOP has no business recommending any policies on CO2 no matter what it thinks the science says. Policy decisions are based on economics and values. Science is only points us to what issues are worth discussing.

  31. What’s cool here shewonk is that neither you nor I represent the coal industry.

    You’ll have to take my word for that. Is everyone here able to imagine that possibility out of interest? My misgivings about AGW science started with an encounter with an exploration geologist in 1992, I’ll grant everyone that. But there was no coal connection then and I’ve never had one. My great love for coal as a way to power the poor into hope for the future has come primarily from reading Freeman Dyson and Paul Collier – and indeed meeting and interviewing Paul in March 2008 on his great book The Bottom Billion, for Sublime, “the first international ethical lifestyle magazine” as they styled themselves.

    You’re right I’m sure that profits for the coal industry are liable to be greatly affected by carbon emission reduction measures of any kind. That we completely agree on. But that in itself doesn’t make carbon emission reduction right or wrong, does it? Cap and trade may make the owners of the Chicago Carbon Exchange billionaires – or some insiders in Goldman Sachs or whomever. That again, in itself, wouldn’t make the policy right or wrong. We’ve got to look at the bigger picture.

    The selfishness you ascribe to the ‘top 2 billion’ is problematic for me. Were we this selfish after the Second World War, when there was a massive growth in the use of fossil fuels, before there was any real argument that this was in any way dangerous? Or did we become so the day after James Hansen testified to Congress in 1988? Or when? Are all the Chinese now to be included in the selfish ones – or only those that are meeting and making money from their immense demand for electricity using coal?

    I’m not saying that selfishness doesn’t exist but, like Paul Collier, I think it exhibits itself more in not caring enough to find out what is really best for the bottom billion – and I still prefer his identification of the very poorest countries as the main target of our concern (though their combined population is probably getting on towards 1.5bn I guess).

    Anyhow, we’ve got some common ground I feel. I don’t rate Hansen’s science and the science of the IPCC WG1 I have to tell you that. But I do accept that if you do accept that story it raises some profound issues concerning the two billion without electricity in our world. And that is worth further discussion.

  32. Richard, I don’t mean to get all moralistic about this. I don’t tend to think of it in terms of morals. I think of it in terms of logic — as in “don’t bloody mess your nest because it’s not good for you” terms.

    I see this as a problem of technology — we need very rapid development of clean energy technology of all sorts so that we can maintain a high standard of living in such a way that we don’t adversely effect our climate and our civilization when the rest of the world develops to our level. We could have started this a long time ago, but there have been unnecessary delays.

    I’m no luddite or back to nature type who thinks we should wear hair shirts in the developed world. I like technology and all the benefits that come with it and think it should be extended to every human on the planet to raise their standard of living. However, up till now, we’ve not factored in the real costs of developing our technology nor have we done anything much to address the consequences. Now, we are seeing the results. Because fossil fuels have been inordinately cheap for the past century because we haven’t factored in the cost to the climate and environment, we haven’t developed alternatives or made it cleaner. We’ve just cooked along, massively polluting, with few concerns.

    WHen concerns were raised, there was a concerted effort to deny the science because of the prospects for all those development dollars and because there was no easy technological fix. Unlike in the CFC example, there is no easy substitute in the short term for petroleum. From what I’ve read of the peak oil literature, we need 10-20 years of preparation to deal with the technological changes and developments needed to deal with the prospects of production being unable to keep up with demand. Peak oil is just about finding a substitute, but global warming adds another dimension — it has to be a low carbon substitute.

    What’s happened in the past three decades or so is delay delay delay, ensuring that the fossil fuel industry is able to keep making tidy profits and making it all the more difficult to deal with the twin problems we face of peak oil and global warming, and any solutions we develop will become even more painful and costly.

    I want that lower couple of billion to develop, but not at the price of baking the climate and acidifying the oceans.

  33. WHen concerns were raised, there was a concerted effort to deny the science because of the prospects for all those development dollars and because there was no easy technological fix.

    You have it backwards.
    What happened is alarmists started insisting that the concerns about CO2 should be used to justify all kinds of policies that made no sense unless one happened to be ideologically aligned with the left. When people objected by saying the science is not certain enough to justify such policies they alarmists upped the ante by slandering and denigrating any researcher that expressed a contrary point of view. Eventually, almost all career scientists realized that joining the ‘consensus’ was a lot safer.

    I think it is time to step back and take off the ideological blinders and have a rational conversation about what can be done.

  34. Richard Drake :

    Having said that, if someone wants to think through the history of Eugenics, including the movement in the US and its support for Otmar von Verschuer and Mengele in Germany, I’d be happy to. Richard Lindzen is one of those that sees parallels with AGW.

    Horsehockey.

    Drawing analogies between climate scientists and any Nazi scientists is done for purely rhetorical effect in a bid to influence the unknowing and has no, or at best, a very weak underlying basis in logic.

    As I do. What I don’t do and won’t do is use a name for those that accept AGW as a potential disaster today that implies that they are equivalent to mass murderers or those that sympathize with them. Climate nazis would as bad for me as climate deniers – but no worse.

    Talking of which, I’m very happy with the Guardian’s decision to drop the denier label. Anyone got any thoughts on that?

    I think it’s a cowardly act and probably intended to appease subscribers rather than based on any logic. The goal of the fossil fuel lobby is to stop climate legislation by denying the science of AGW. Denial is what they have done in various forms and under various guises and denialism is the appropriate label. Of course, denialists have latched onto the whole Holocaust revisionism meme as a way to discredit their critics — they are the ones to compare themselves to Holocaust revisionism in bad faith.

    I’ll stick with deniers. You can call me anything you want in retaliation — heck, you can tell me to take up knitting. 😉

  35. Tim :

    You have it backwards.
    What happened is alarmists started insisting that the concerns about CO2 should be used to justify all kinds of policies that made no sense unless one happened to be ideologically aligned with the left. When people objected by saying the science is not certain enough to justify such policies they alarmists upped the ante by slandering and denigrating any researcher that expressed a contrary point of view. Eventually, almost all career scientists realized that joining the ‘consensus’ was a lot safer.

    I think it is time to step back and take off the ideological blinders and have a rational conversation about what can be done.

    You don’t really want to go down this road do you? Take my advice. You don’t really seem up to it. Cuz you’ll lose that one big time.

    Shall I post memos from the API and the oil lobby showing where and how they planned to spend money to disseminate doubt and create astroturf organizations and use shill scientists and target men with low educations and low income women?

    But go ahead — double dog dare me. 😉

  36. Shall I post memos from the API and the oil lobby showing where and how they planned to spend money to disseminate doubt and create astroturf organizations and use shill scientists and target men with low educations and low income women?

    Shall I post the ridiculous SciAm article where they attacked Lomborg for suggesting Kyoto-style policies might not be the most cost effective way to deal with the stated problem? I don’t want to get into a debate about Lomborg’s specific arguments because even if he got some things wrong is there was absolutely nothing he did that justified the outrageous attacks on him. The most ridiculous part was where SciAm had the nerve to claim that “Science was defend[ing] itself”. Science was not at issue. Cost benefit analyses are questions of economics and values and the only thing SciAm was defending was the leftist policies that its editorial board seems to favour.

    That was my first clue that the ‘consensus’ was really about pushing a very specific political agenda that suited people with a left leaning ideology and you can trace it back to the first IPCC report – long before Exxon tried to stoop to the same level as alarmists.

    That said, the way forward is to stop arguing the science because it does not and cannot tell us what policies to adopt. The only thing worth discussing is how to address the risk of climate change while balancing the competing economic interests and value systems.

    Is that a discussion you want to get into?

  37. Tim :

    Shall I post memos from the API and the oil lobby showing where and how they planned to spend money to disseminate doubt and create astroturf organizations and use shill scientists and target men with low educations and low income women?

    Shall I post the ridiculous SciAm article where they attacked Lomborg for suggesting Kyoto-style policies might not be the most cost effective way to deal with the stated problem?

    Yes please. I missed that SciAm article, it sounds good. Susann, don’t let me stop you posting the shill shams either 😉

  38. Susann, it’s not horsepuckey that Richard Lindzen makes the comparison between AGW Eugenics:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/video/2009/mar/12/climate-change-deniers-conference

    That URL was put together before the Guardian eschewed ‘denier’, obviously. it’s a very short video and the bit by Lindzen even shorter. Recommended.

    Talking of problems with labels, I regret Tim using the phrase ‘the left’. If you look at three of the main ‘sceptics’ cited so far, Lindzen, Dyson and Lomborg, they are all of the left I’d say (lifelong Democrats, at least until Gore queered the pitch in the case of the two in America). At the Intelligence Squared debate in Manhattan in March 2007 Lindzen was joined in arguing that global warming isn’t a crisis by Michael Crichton and Philip Stott, also both men of the left – with Stott explicitly making this point. Steve McIntyre worked directly in the 70s for Edmund Clark, known as “Red Ed” in Canada, and says today “I live in downtown Toronto, and I have the politics of downtown Toronto.”

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/12/13/centre-of-the-storm/

    Most people would not call me red Rick, I admit. But I’m fond of quoting Tony Benn, the veteran left-wing Labour ex-minister, on being challenged about some campaign (about the European Union I think) where he was working with some famous Tory names, as saying “We libertarians meet round the back.” I distrust almost all political labels in fact, because my loyalty is to a man called Jesus and I don’t think he ever said to go out and baptise anybody’s politics.

    Tim’s right of course about values. And we all do use labels – like Benn used ‘libertarian’. But very often they go wrong. And I wish someone would tell me that they’ve at least read my very helpful history of the term ‘climate denier’ because the comparison with Holocaust deniers is where it started, very clearly. That is completely out of order and I continue to say so.

    • Richard, I directed the horsehockey to the analogy between AGW and the eugenics movement. Pure empty rhetoric. I won’t stoop low enough to even bother to engage you about this ridiculous claim. Suffice to say I taught scientific racism and eugenics at the university level and you’d have to go a very long way to convince me of the validity of the analogy.

      To deny something, the practice of denying a well-established scientific theory or historical event with a great deal of empirical evidence, is to be a denier. Those who subscribe to this line of thinking can be labeled denialists. Denialism fits and I’ll keep using it no matter how many times denialists reject it and make ridiculous claims about it.

      There have been many cases of this in the recent past — denial of evolution, of the link between CFCs and ozone depletion, between tobacco and cancer, between nicotine and addiction, between lead and brain damage, SO2 and acid rain, etc. Most of these are the result of vested economic interests denying science to protect their ability to harm the environment or humans or particular ecosystems in order to exploit a resource. Some are religious in basis. Some adherents to denialism are so because of political persuasion. Libertarianism for example due to their distaste for government intervention in the market.

      Sorry, on this blog, I don’t have to appease any subscribers in order to keep up my profits so I’ll stick with what I believe is the most accurate way to describe what some are doing vis a vis AGW.

  39. Richard Drake – here in Europe, the democrats are centrist. (those darned labels again) and Benn is well known for having become more radical throughout his life, unlike some other people.

    Anyway, I find it interesting that your belief in the science is preconditioned by political and ethical concerns, rather than the science itself. The fact is that the earth is warming, its mostly our fault, and the people who’ve wised up quickest to that fact happen to be more left wing than those who havn’t. Although of course that well known socialist al Gore seems to be positioned to make some money out of it…

  40. The belief you find so interesting isn’t mine. As I’ve made clear, it was an encounter with a senior exploration geologist in 1992 that first made me doubt the science. I’ve kept reading up on that, given my background of maths at Cambridge and thirty years work in software, including time series modelling and forecasting and discrete event simulation. I don’t think the science holds up.

    But that of course has implications for the politics. I’m a Brit and I agree with you that Benn is interesting for his trajectory over a long life. He looks back a lot to the English Revolution in the 17th century and the radicals then – who were of course directly trying to relate their politics to the radical message of Jesus in a recently translated Bible. I’m not saying they all got it right but for me, like Benn, it’s a matter of great interest.

    And yes, Gore is often said to be making himself the first AGW billionaire. But what’s new about that? Didn’t Bakunin say of Lenin and his mates: “They have one foot in the revolutionary movement and one in international finance.” That’s from memory. But it always struck me as an interesting perspective.

  41. UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
    House of COMMONS
    MINUTES OF EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SUB-COMMITTEE
    THE DISCLOSURE OF CLIMATE DATA FROM THE CLIMATIC RESEARCH UNIT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/uc387-i/uc38702.htm

  42. In a nutshell, here is what everyone can agree about labels:

    1. “Contrarian” would be more neutral – even Steve used it.
    2. “Contrarian” can be replaced with almost everything the proponents chose for themselves, that is anything but “skeptic”.
    3. “Denier” presumes that the stance goes against an overwhelming body of evidence.
    4. “Denier” is a term one can use only to talk about someone you do not want to engage in a debate.

    Bearing that in mind, one could say, for instance, that Richard Drake is a contrarian and that Lord Monkton is a denier.

    The same kind of reasoning goes with “leftist”: using that term in a discussion with someone he wants to engage in a debate seems like a very bad move. It is more like a way to talk to his own crowd by way of pretending to engage shewonk.

    PS: Most Canadian liberals are right-centrists (some are even conservatives, among them Toronto’s old money) and most Democrats and centrists that are even more at the right.

  43. Erratum: Democrats ARE centrists that are even more at the right than Canadian liberals.

  44. The fact is that the earth is warming, its mostly our fault, and the people who’ve wised up quickest to that fact happen to be more left wing than those who havn’t.

    You have it completely wrong.
    People on the ‘left’ have not wised up faster.

    All they have done is taken policies that they have wanted to impose for decades and use their interpretation of the ‘science’ in order to pressure the public into accepting their policies.

    It is time to dispense with the notion that the ‘science’ dictates what policies we should adopt because the science has enough ambiguity that anyone can find a way to justify their preferred policies.

    We should be discussing what policies the most cost effective way to address the stated risk – not science. Is there anyone here interested in that discussion?

    • You have it completely wrong. People on the ‘left’ have not wised up faster. All they have done is taken policies that they have wanted to impose for decades and use their interpretation of the ’science’ in order to pressure the public into accepting their policies.

      First, people on “the left” whatever that means to you — are not a hive mind. I suspect that people on the left are everyone left of Rush Limbaugh, which includes just about all the better educated. 🙂 Some of them may have particular agendas, and see global warming as an opportunity to implement them just as some opponents of AGW, contrarian, denialists — whatever — have agendas and reject AGW because of them. Try a bit of nuance in your thinking now and then.

      It is time to dispense with the notion that the ’science’ dictates what policies we should adopt because the science has enough ambiguity that anyone can find a way to justify their preferred policies.

      I agree that science does not dictate policy. Policy is a decision making process in which policy makers and those who vote for them (and fund them) decide how to respond to risks that science describes. What this means is that those who reject the science for other concerns — profit, politics, religion — have to present a compelling case for why it should be ignored. So far, all I’ve seen from those who reject AGW is the claim that the science is not certain enough and/or the costs will be too high to implement policies to reduce GHGs.

      I say that nothing is impossible if we have the political will. Think of how, given the threat from Nazi scientists, the west harnessed the power of fission. Or went to the moon. Or eradicated smallpox. Or developed alternatives to CFCs to protect the ozone layer.

      Yes, addressing global warming and peak oil will be more difficult and costly — the bigger the problem the harder the solution. The alternative is worse, according to the best science and that is what I look to because to me, the risks of warming over 2-3C is too high to take. You seem happy to go with adaptation and no mitigation or reductions. That means you are arguing that we take the biggest risk in our species’ history for the sake of money. I’m afraid at some point people will see through that and will demand that we regulate and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and move to alternatives.

      We should be discussing what policies the most cost effective way to address the stated risk – not science. Is there anyone here interested in that discussion?

      Sometimes, the most cost-effective policies are not the right ones. Cost is not the only factor in developing policy.

  45. Jeez, can we had conspiracy theorists to the list. Tim and Richard see to fit the bill. You are not going to change anyones’ minds by coming across as omniscient and repeatedly floating conspiracy theories. Global policy leaders would scoff at your arrogance. Really, you come across as D-K victims.

    We know your modus operandi, detract, confuse and delay, b/c when people are in doubt they are very reluctant to move forward. People had doubts about tobacco (thanks for nothing SInger, now he is working the AGW file), then it was seat belts.

    Rick, I would like to hear more about this mind, numbing, I mean transforming experience that you had with an exploration geologist? Who is/was this person? What are/were their ties/interests? Also, let us see, sample size of *one* and your world is rocked. That is not at all rational, reasonable or for that matter not scientific either.

    Also, just what is the purpose for you being here?

    And, two last questions. 1) Why is the stratosphere cooling and 2) What is the climate sensitivity to doubling CO2 (and you can forget quoting confirmation bias Lindzen (who has also had ties with the FF industry) or debunked Monckton)?

    Tim, “We should be discussing what policies the most cost effective way to address the stated risk – not science. Is there anyone here interested in that discussion?”

    In this statement you acknowledge that AGW is real and that the risks/concerns are serious to merit taking action. Bravo. As for how we do this, after you Tim.

  46. You are not going to change anyones’ minds by coming across as omniscient and repeatedly floating conspiracy theories.

    A rather hypocritical comment for someone who uses largely insignificant past associations with a fossil fuel company as an ad hom attack against a scientist whose conclusions you dislike. You do realize that researchers at UEA have more links to FF (BP and Shell) than Linzden? Does that mean all of their science should be dismissed?

    In this statement you acknowledge that AGW is real and that the risks/concerns are serious to merit taking action. Bravo. As for how we do this, after you Tim.

    For starters we need to look at the real cost of replacing our energy infrastructure with a non-emitting one. A recent artical in SciAm put a price tag of $100 trillion not including costs of additional transmission lines. Leaving transmission lines out is a rather large omission since renewables require a much larger grid than fossil fuels.

  47. Here is a link to the SciAm article I use for a reference on the cost to shift to renewables link.

    The US share of the world energy production is 15% so the US share of the cost will be about $16 trillion. Tranmission lines can more expensive than the wind/solar installation depending on how far they are away from the market. There are also environmental approvals and land rights that need to be acquired. For that reason I think that $32 trillion is a more realistic estimate of the conversion cost.

  48. willard :
    In a nutshell, here is what everyone can agree about labels:

    Sadly, I’m not inclined to play ball. This relates to your earlier comment:

    willard :

    MarkB :
    In an effort to demonize those using the term “denier”, some often claim that the term is used to compare global warming skeptics to “Holocaust deniers”.

    Then, some often forgets that the Holocaust deniers are properly called negationnists:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_revisionism_%28negationism%29

    First up, we’ve all got to realise that we can’t always change terminology to something that makes more sense to us. The word ‘liberal’ is a classic in that regard. You may not like Tom Sowell and his mentor Milton Friedman but you’ve gotta enjoy the joshing the younger man gave the older about his ultimately futile campaign to try to restore the meaning of liberal in the USA. That video’s also nice on what makes a great teacher, whatever side of any fence you may sit.

    Second, denier is tainted and this has nothing to do with those of us who have been labeled that way deliberately choosing ‘victimhood’ to ‘demonise’ others. People are beginning to back off using the term – quite rightly. Witness Phil Willis and The Guardian. I once again would ask people to look honestly at the history:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc37a02.htm

    Then tell me there was never any reference intended to Holocaust denial by those using the term. There was. I didn’t even mention George Monbiot’s contribution in 2006:

    Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and as unacceptable as Holocaust denial.

    Monbiot did almost apologise for this in his debate with James Delingpole at Free Word in London on 3 Dec 2009. That’s the way this is going, folks, and rightly so.

    So with denier I’m looking for two things:

    1. We get to the point where nobody ever uses it in the context of AGW

    2. Those that have explicitly made the comparison with Holocaust deniers make fulsome public apologies for ever having done so.

    Now, the world being as it is, I may not get all of that. But that is the direction this thing is going. It was always a disgraceful comparison, not least because it took one of the greatest atrocities in history and started to use it for another, completely different and inappropriate purpose. That, from the moment I heard it, meant for me that the people concerned couldn’t give a damn about the real Holocaust and the terrific battles that have been fought to remember it and to learn lessons from it. That seriously is more important to me than the way it has contaminated the AGW debate. But the second also has to stop. No compromise.

  49. Now the SciAm article seems to think that the $32 trillion is an investment that delivers returns but that is false because we have an existing energy infrastructure that would be thrown away. This means that the $32 trillion is money that must be sucked out of the economy by direct taxation or by regulation.

    If we use 2050 as a target for 0 emissions that $32 trillion is $800 billion per year or about $10,000 per US family per year. There is no chance of this level of expenditure happening no matter how certain the science. It is pointless to event discuss it as an option.

    So what can be afford? $1000 per US family per year is probably the maximum politically achiveable cost which would only be enough to replace 10% of out energy needs with non-emitting sources by 2050. This presents a problem because the science says we need to be at or close to 0 emissions by 2050 to avoid ‘dangerous warming’.

  50. “A rather hypocritical comment for someone who uses largely insignificant past associations with a fossil fuel company as an ad hom attack against a scientist whose conclusions you dislike.”

    BS Tim. I’m not being hypocritical at all. Lindzen took money from the FF industry, that is a fact. It also questions his impartiality. I used to respect Lindezen, wary of his motives, but I did not dismiss his science out of hand, he works at MIT for God’s sakes. That said, his paper Lindzen and Choi (2009) showed confirmation bias, and was so bad that is was even refuted by a fellow ‘skeptic’ Spencer. Lindzen also has ties with Heartland Institute and other political neocon lobby groups. These are facts. I think it would be prudent to be wary of Lindzen’s motives. Especially when he sends an email to Anthony Watts a (denialist) showing him how to cherry pick start dates for the purpose of calc. temp. trends to minimize the observed warming. If Hansen, for example, had sent such an email and it was exposed he would have been fired by now, and rightly so.

    I am not aware of the alleged links to of the IPCC or CRU to the FF industry. CRU is affiliated with UEA, so if someone at UAE does something wrong, for example, then everyone who is associated with them is by default also guilty? I think not. Even if the FF industry were providing money to the IPPC, well that would be odd but maybe some window dressing, they would not be giving them money to fabricate and distort and misrepresent the science behind AGW, and attacks scientists, now would they? They would be doing so to advance the science.

    I agree with you on the transmission lines in the USA. I thought that they were planning on developing a smart grid? This is going to be expensive, no one is denying that except perhaps the politicians who want to try and convince people that we can do this without paying a price. It would be naive and irresponsible to think otherwise. The right loves to mock the costs of addressing AGW and how it will “wreck” the economy, while the USA spends over $1 trillion dollars a year on its military budget alone. Also, you give an extreme example of going to a non-emitting economy (talk of being alarmist and fear mongering), you and speak of it as if it were going to happen overnight. I do not believe that policy makers are even close to suggesting such a radical move, and if if they were the horizon would be a long one. Besides, they can’t even commit to a modest reduction in emissions.

    Anyhow, nice to be talking about solutions rather than dismissing the tired old myths, although it seems there are a good number of myths regarding solutions being touted by the contrarians.
    Tim, instead of being obstructionist, seeing all the red flags (real or perceived). How about being proactive and creative. The USA and other shave done some truly incredible things when they have had to or when the will was there (e.g., putting men on the moon).

  51. So it looks like we need to strike CO2 emission reductions off the list of policy choices because the cost of an effective policy is too large. That said, we can’t rule the possibility of a technological breakthrough that drastically changes the economics so we should be generously funding R&D. However, what we should not do is waste money on setting specific emission targets because no matter what the targets they will not be met.

    This means we have to consider other policies which are:

    1) adaptation
    2) geo-engineering
    3) air capture of CO2 in the future.

    2) and 3) are not technically feasible at this time which leaves 1) as the only option.

    This means we need to identify the risks we are facing and start planning to deal with them by building infrastructure like dams, dikes etc.

  52. I am not aware of the alleged links to of the IPCC or CRU to the FF industry. CRU is affiliated with UEA

    Here is a link to a CRU scientist accepting ‘dirty’ oil money. The leaked CRU documents included evidence of money coming from Shell.

  53. Tim “So it looks like we need to strike CO2 emission reductions off the list of policy choices because the cost of an effective policy is too large.”

    No, I said zero emissions. Stop misrepresenting what I said. And stop making it an all or nothing false choice. I won’t discuss your options 1-3, b/c we simply cannot go on with business as usual and defer the staggering costs to future generations. That would be myopic and selfish, very selfish. that said, I would agree that we ned to start working on 1.

    Tim, I’m curious, what would you suggest we do about Lindzen’s email to Watts? Should there be consequences? Would you, in the name of science, honesty and integrity make a complaint to MIT?

  54. I thought that they were planning on developing a smart grid?>

    Smart grid does nothing to reduce the cost of laying out thousands of miles of copper/steel wire.

    The right loves to mock the costs of addressing AGW and how it will “wreck” the economy, while the USA spends over $1 trillion dollars a year on its military budget alone.

    Only because of war expenditures which are not sustainable. The US could scrap it military and it would not be enough to pay the cost of conversion to renewables over the next 40 years.

    Also, you give an extreme example of going to a non-emitting economy (talk of being alarmist and fear mongering), you and speak of it as if it were going to happen overnight.

    Please read what I say and not what you imagine. The numbers I quoted assume a 40 year build out. More importantly, the science says we need to get to 0 emissions by 2050 to avoid dangerous warming which means if we cannot achieve that target then we are screwed. Are you denying the science?

  55. No, I said zero emissions. Stop misrepresenting what I said. And stop making it an all or nothing false choice.

    Look at the numbers I provided. I am saying a 10% reduction is the MOST than can be achieved given technology and economic resources available. That means we need a backup plan because the sciences supposedly says we got to get to 0 by 2050 for be screwed. Do you really think that it is smart to bet everyone on a strategy which we already know will not work?

  56. Tim,

    You are funny, the emails were not “leaked”, stop misrepresenting the truth. Unless you know something the police don’t know. There is an ongoing criminal investigation into that, and internet forensics point to a hack, regardless of what Fred Pearce might be pontificating about.

    I’ll check the reference to Shell, a find out what the money was intended to be used for, b/c you have provided no context whatsoever (a common contrarian trick to take gthings out of context). But you did not read my post before:

    “Even if the FF industry were providing money to the IPPC, well that would be odd but maybe some window dressing, they would not be giving them money to fabricate and distort and misrepresent the science behind AGW, and attacks scientists, now would they? They would be doing so to advance the science.

    I think I know where you are at with this. AGW is real, but future generations can foot the bill, b/c it is too expensive for me/us now. Does that sum it up?

  57. Tim,

    Sh1t just realized the time! I have to take care of some stuff. Will be back later.

  58. Even if the FF industry were providing money to the IPPC, well that would be odd…

    I am not really interested in arguing with your conspiracy theories. The fact is all oil companies have been funding AGW science for a while.

    Why don’t you explain why you deny the science that says we need to get 0 emissions by 2050?

  59. Tim,

    Have you seen this?

    OK, now really got to go or I’ll be late!

  60. Tim :Here is a link to the SciAm article I use for a reference on the cost to shift to renewables link.
    The US share of the world energy production is 15% so the US share of the cost will be about $16 trillion. Tranmission lines can more expensive than the wind/solar installation depending on how far they are away from the market. There are also environmental approvals and land rights that need to be acquired. For that reason I think that $32 trillion is a more realistic estimate of the conversion cost.

    You neglect a few things here: First, building new, renewal, upgrading, repair, etc. of the *current* energy sources *also* costs money. Second, it is an investment over many years. Third, it will reduce indirect costs, as many countries get much more independent of other countries for their energy. Fourth, it is an investment over many, many years (the article points to 40-50 years).

    And significantly reducing energy use isn’t all that difficult either. Ask yourself why so many Western European countries emit about half (or even less, e.g. France) the amount of CO2 per capita as the US. It’s not like the latter has such a much higher living standard. In other words: ask yourself what so many Western European countries do. If the US would be able to get down to the same level, the world as a whole(!) would reduce it’s CO2 emissions by 10%.

  61. You neglect a few things here: First, building new, renewal, upgrading, repair, etc. of the *current* energy sources *also* costs money.

    1) The cost of maintaining the existing infrastructure is a small fraction of the cost of building new renewable based infrastructure (e.g. the transmission lines are already in place).
    2) I have already assumed that the investment would take place over 40 years. That does not make it any more affordable.
    3) Renewables do not reduce the need for international trade in limited commodities. All they do is shift the focus from oil to lithium or indium.
    4) Per capita energy consumption is not a meaningful figure because it does not take into account the population density or the mix of industry in country. A dense country with less resource extraction will use less energy than a sparsely populated country with a large resource extraction industry.
    5) 10% – big deal. We need to get 0% by 2050 while the population doubles. It is not going to happen. Denial simply causes more harm because resources will be wasted on CO2 reductions when they should have been spent on adaptation.

    Second, it is an investment over many years. Third, it will reduce indirect costs, as many countries get much more independent of other countries for their energy. Fourth, it is an investment over many, many years (the article points to 40-50 years).
    And significantly reducing energy use isn’t all that difficult either. Ask yourself why so many Western European countries emit about half (or even less, e.g. France) the amount of CO2 per capita as the US. It’s not like the latter has such a much higher living standard. In other words: ask yourself what so many Western European countries do. If the US would be able to get down to the same level, the world as a whole(!) would reduce it’s CO2 emissions by 10%.

  62. Tim and Richard,

    OK, before we go any further. You have both been providing misinformation in your posts.

    Richard, the number of people without electricity is actually 1.5 Billion (UNDP, 33% less than you claim).

    Also,
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=is-combating-climate-change-worth-t-2009-01-14
    “For example, he said, two  billion people mostly in developing countries lack access to adequate sanitation, and a million people, mostly children, die from malaria—both crises that could be addressed with better funding.”

    Additionally, as for denying people electricity by “denying” them coal-fired power plants. You are divorced from reality:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=electricity-gap-developing-countries-energy-wood-charcoal
    “Other nations have succeeded in mass electrification only through large-scale, top-down efforts by central governments, most notably the mass rural effort in the 1930s in the United States and more recently in China. But development officials say this model is not suitable for Africa because central governments there lack the cash to make it happen.”

    Coal-fired electricity is not even an option for most people, they have no infrastructure to support coal-fired plants, nor can they afford to build one. Who will pay for the coal, or extraction thereof? Africa and other regions need bottom-up solutions; such solutions exist, are pragmatic and feasible.

    Tim, “If we use 2050 as a target for 0 emissions that $32 trillion is $800 billion per year or about $10,000 per US family per year.” and “Are you denying the science?”

    No, I am not, stop trying to distort. I agree with the science, I am interested in ways that we can meet/realise emission scenarios which will reduce the warming. NONE of the IPCC emission scenarios (i.e., even the most aggressive scenario) call for ‘zero emissions’, even by 2100. Read the IPCC reports for goodness’ sakes! A1T (~2.5C expected warming by 2100), allows for global GHG emissions increasing and peaking circa 2050 at 60 Gt CO2 eq./yr, declining to ~30 Gt by 2100 (we are currently near 45 Gt CO2 eq./yr, IPCC Fig. SPM.5).

    Tim “Smart grid does nothing to reduce the cost of laying out thousands of miles of copper/steel wire.”

    Uh, huh. yes, a smart grid will cost money. You fail to see the upside. I was over at Sci. American and they have a wealth of information on the pros and cost of a smart grid. Stop being so negative and defeatist.

    Have you read the following?
    Socolow, R., and S. Pacala: Stabilisation Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next Fifty Years with Current Technology, Science, Vol. 305, 13 August, 2004

    Tim “I am not really interested in arguing with your conspiracy theories.”
    Of course, you are reluctant to discuss these very inconvenient truths about the nefar. And, for the record, they are not “conspiracy theories”. The actions of the FF industry and right-wing ideologues to pervert and subvert science is very well documented and quantified. John Mashey has done some excellent work on this, for example.

  63. Corrigendum to #65:

    Tim “I am not really interested in arguing with your conspiracy theories.”
    Of course, you are reluctant to discuss these very inconvenient truths about the nefarious and mendacious actions of the FF industry and necon political lobby groups. And, for the record, they are not “conspiracy theories”. The actions of the FF industry and right-wing ideologues to pervert and subvert science is very well documented and quantified. John Mashey has done some excellent work on this, for example.

  64. NONE of the IPCC emission scenarios (i.e., even the most aggressive scenario) call for ‘zero emissions’, even by 2100.

    Try here
    “If CO2 emissions are halved by 2050 compared to 1990, global warming can be stabilised below two degrees.”
    And this
    “The world should agree to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels as part of a UN climate pact in Copenhagen in mid-December, according to a suggested text by hosts Denmark.

    The text said rich countries should account for 80 per cent of the global emission cuts by 2050. But it did not spell out shorter-term emission targets for rich countries, a key demand from poorer nations.”

    Well you can argue that they are not specifically saying 0 emissions it is clear that the US is being asked to be very close to 0 emissions by 2050. The UK has committed to an 85% reduction.

  65. I’m with Tim – except for the fact that I don’t think from the science that there’s any risk from CO2 emissions. Just as the much feted Eugenics and Lysenkoism are now seen to be junk science and morally repugnant – exactly as Richard Lindzen points out in the video referenced above. I’m with Lindzen and very happy to be there. And even if there were a small risk, which has certainly not been shown from the science, there is a cogent argument to wait ten more years and see what happens. There’s no urgency, based even on IPCC figures. The real risk is preventing millions of people who would be able to afford electricity from coal in the coming decade from having it. And beyond. That’s far more important.

    Meanwhile, having mentioned Monbiot’s debate against Delinpole in November, which I learned a great deal from attending, I’ve just watched them again on today’s Daily Politics on the BBC iPlayer:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00r9x9n/The_Daily_Politics_04_03_2010/

    Starting around 21 mins. Monbiot uses the ‘vast conspiracy theory going back to Charles Fourier’ defence, just as others have here. It has to be a conspiracy and that’s ridiculous. But I don’t think that when millions believed in Eugenics they were all an active part of a conspiracy. A few of the funding organizations should still have some searching questions asked of them – but even they may just have been misled. Confirmation bias is always with us (though it hasn’t always been called that). It’s wrong to say, just from this one historical example, that a massive conspiracy is required. No, Einstein surely was closer to the truth when he said, at a time eugenics was still part of the ‘scientific’ scene, “There are only two things that are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not sure about the universe.” That’s all it takes.

    For a very good, even handed article on this confirmation bias point and the need for falsifiability I’d strongly recommend Paul Monk in The Australian yesterday:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/more-heat-than-light/story-e6frg8nf-1225835659512

  66. So back to the original point: how much will it cost to reply our existing energy infrastructure with an non-emitting one? The reference I provided demonstrates that the scale of the problem is huge and will require that the government divert hundreds of billions per year towards projects that would not be economic without government intervention.

    To be blunt: there is 0 chance of meeting the required emission reductions and it is pointless to discuss them as a viable policy.

  67. Tim “Just as the much feted Eugenics and Lysenkoism are now seen to be junk science and morally repugnant – exactly as Richard Lindzen points out in the video referenced above. I’m with Lindzen and very happy to be there.”

    Ok, well then good luck, b/c then there is no point us debating. When are you going to report Lindzen’s scientific misconduct to MIT?

  68. Sorry Tim, the above quote and comment was directed at Richard.

  69. Tim “Well you can argue that they are not specifically saying 0 emissions it is clear that the US is being asked to be very close to 0 emissions by 2050.”

    Gosh, you made a mistake, it is OK to concede that! None of the IPCC scenarios require global emissions to be zero.

    As for your claim that “Well you can argue that they are not specifically saying 0 emissions it is clear that the US is being asked to be very close to 0 emissions by 2050.”

    Who are “they”? Please provide a citation where an official body who said this has to be so.

    And Richard continues to demonstrate how divorced his ideology is from reality and science.
    “And even if there were a small risk, which has certainly not been shown from the science, there is a cogent argument to wait ten more years and see what happens. There’s no urgency, based even on IPCC figures. The real risk is preventing millions of people who would be able to afford electricity from coal in the coming decade from having it. And beyond. That’s far more important.”

    He also continues to willfully ignore the facts and science presented to him here and elsewhere. And has avoided answering questions about his life altering encounter with a exploration geologist. Wow, and OMG!

  70. Tim, ah, so the truth comes out:

    “there is 0 chance of meeting the required emission reductions and it is pointless to discuss them as a viable policy.”

    We can’t meet targets, so let us not even try and continue with business in usual? Scenario A1T allows for emissions to increase for another 40 years or so! Also, please actually read

    Socolow, R., and S. Pacala: Stabilisation Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next Fifty Years with Current Technology, Science, Vol. 305, 13 August, 2004

  71. Follow-up to Willard’s comment…

    “Warmist” is an interesting term. It’s like saying “evolutionist”, “gravitist”, “Spheroid Earthist”, or “Moon Landingist”. The idea is to explain away the overwhelming scientific consensus as being a religious belief. “Warmist” is similar to this…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionism#Modern_usage

    “In modern times, the term evolution is widely used, but the terms evolutionism and evolutionist are not used in the scientific community to refer to the biological discipline as the term is considered both redundant and anachronistic, though it has been used in discussing the creation-evolution controversy.[5]

    The Institute for Creation Research, however, in order to treat evolution as a category of religions, including atheism, fascism, humanism and occultism, commonly uses the words evolutionism and evolutionist to describe the consensus of mainstream science and the scientists subscribing to it, thus implying through language that the issue is a matter of religious belief.[7] The basis of this argument is to establish that the creation-evolution controversy is essentially one of interpretation of evidence, without any overwhelming proof (beyond current scientific theories) on either side. Creationists tend to use the term evolutionism in order to suggest that the theory of evolution and creationism are equal in a philosophical debate.[8]”

    In other notes, Tim writes:

    “The US could scrap it military and it would not be enough to pay the cost of conversion to renewables over the next 40 years.”

    Wow! That’s some seriously alarmism, even for a contrarian. When in doubt, just make things up.

    The incremental cost of moving to 20% wind over 20 years is quite small…and this was from a conservative DoE analysis that doesn’t take into consideration energy efficiency programs (it assumes electricity demand increases by almost 40%):

    http://www.20percentwind.org/Final_DOE_Executive_Summary.pdf

    Net incremental cost over 20 years over a no new wind scenario is $43 billion (not reflecting other potential positive impacts), or about $2 billion per year. The U.S. military budget is about $600 billion per year. Do the math.

    What I know is that the anti-science crowd greatly overestimates the costs of environmental initiatives by at least an order of magnitude in an effort to scare people. This happened with CFCs and appliance efficiency programs. It’s happening now.

  72. MarB , your numbers are correct about US military spending.

    “When the budget was signed into law on October 28, 2009 the final size of the Department of Defense’s budget was $680 billion” (Wikipedia).

    There seems to be some confusion on what constitutes money for the military:

    http://useconomy.about.com/od/usfederalbudget/p/military_budget.htm

    “Total defense spending requested for FY 2011 was $895 billion. This was more than the total defense budget request of $855 billion for FY2010, and the total budget request for Security and the War on Terror request of $782 billion in FY 2009. (Source: OMB, Table S-4.)”

    Anyhow, it is safe to say that defense/military spending in the USA is staggering compared to the numbers that you provided @74.

  73. We can’t meet targets, so let us not even try and continue with business in usual?

    No it means we need a plan that presumes we will not meet the targets and allocates resources accordingly. That plan can include some move toward renewables but only as much as can realistically be funded with the economic resources available.

    As for the stablization wedges: it is purely hypothetical excercise that made no attempt to determine the cost of implementing them. There is no reason to believe that the cost would be any cheaper than the brute force approach of replacing all energy production with non-emitting sources.

    Frankly, If you really believe that reducing CO2 emissions is a plausible strategy then produce a plan that outlines the concrete steps required and the costs of implementing those steps.

  74. Tim, this will be my last post, b/c I just can’t engage someone in a meaningful “debate” when they spout this kind of nonsense:

    “Frankly, If you really believe that reducing CO2 emissions is a plausible strategy then produce a plan that outlines the concrete steps required and the costs of implementing those steps.”

    Numerous plans have been produced and costed out by governments, NGOs and think tanks. You know that. Unlike you, I do not suffer from D-K and claim to have all the answers. I defer that task to the experts in the field like Pacala and others who have infinitely more knowledge and experience in this field than either you or I do.

    Pacala by the way has another paper out in 2007 titled: “Stabilising energy-related greenhouse gas emissions: Making “technology wedges” feasible”

    If you are so omniscient, then you please develop and cost a policy which will help us reduce GHG emissions. I’m sure many governments across the world would welcome such a plan, especially if it is superior to what they have already developed.

    Goodbye.

  75. Wow! That’s some seriously alarmism, even for a contrarian. When in doubt, just make things up

    Go back a read the thread. I provided sources for my numbers. Going 100% renewable would cost 800 billion per year. Which is larger that the current DOD budget excuding war expenses.

    As for the DOE report: It does not include the costs of the upgrades to the electrical grid and it does not include the cost of fossil fuel backups for when the wind is not blowing.

  76. Can we at least require the denialbots to stay on topic? This post was supposedly about the media coverage of the parliamentary hearings, IIRC.

  77. I defer that task to the experts in the field like Pacala and others who have infinitely more knowledge and experience in this field than either you or I do.

    Don’t flatter yourself. You simply cherry pick whatever reports that seems to tell you what you want to believe.

    In my case I linked to the only report that I have found that puts numbers on the cost of deploying the technology required. That alone makes it more credible than they various abstract economic models by people like Pacala.

    If you disagree then present an argument. Why should a paper by Pacala be taken more seriously than a paper by Jacobson and Delucchi?

    As for a plan. I already told. We are not going to reduce GHG emissions significantly over the next 50 years or so. The best we could hope for is 10-20% reduction from current levels depending on how many nukes get built. That means we need a plan for adaptation.

    Deny it if you like. But those are the facts.

  78. Maple, I wasn’t clear that we were debating. It wasn’t clear to me, for example, that you had read anything or watched anything that I’d particularly wanted to draw to people’s attention here, having been singled out by your host for thinking Mengele relevant to the climate science situation. Just for the record, I strongly recommend War Against The Weak by Edwin Black on the history of Eugenics – and how American commitment and money went directly to Otmar von Verschuer in Germany, who became the mentor to Josef Mengele, and to whom he used to send various of his ‘findings’ from Auschwitz. It’s a truly terrible story and it’s worth noting the organisations who did the funding have barely apologised. And it shows how a ‘scientific consensus’ can easily be a humanitarian disaster. Science should never need to appeal to authority like that. It’s always a major warning sign.

    When you consider that Richard Lindzen lost almost all of his father’s family and most of his mother’s to the Holocaust, his statements about Eugenics should give pause for thought:

    http://outside.away.com/outside/culture/200710/richard-lindzen-2.html

    I don’t expect that everyone reading will pause. But it’s there, for the record, in case anyone wants to look into it.

    I’ve no knowledge of any scientific misconduct by Lindzen – unlike Phil Jones and others, the actions of whom he rightly despises – so I’m the wrong person to ask on that. His recent arguments about climate sensitivity based on the first known solution to the Early Faint Sun Paradox – a problem for climate science since Carl Sagan’s day – caused Jerry North to say he’d have to take another look at the arguments for negative feedback from clouds. I’m not saying the issue is settled – nor is Lindzen – but it seems to me he’s doing real, falsifiable science and the world will owe him an amazing debt when AGW is revealed to all to be the crock it obviously is. The video with Lindzen and North is here:

    http://webcast.rice.edu/webcast.php?action=details&event=2130

    That debate was on 27 January. Holocaust Memorial Day. I tend to remember that one. Toodle-pip!

  79. Tim,

    The article doesn’t support your assertions, and your calculations are fuzzy (arbitrarily doubling the cost for transmission). You also neglect to mention:

    “It is investment that is paid back through the sale of electricity and energy. And again, relying on traditional sources would raise output from 12.5 to 16.9 TW, requiring thousands more of those plants, costing roughly $10 trillion, not to mention tens of trillions of dollars more in health, environmental and security costs. ”

    The article is hardly meant to be a full detailed analysis of the incremental cost, as the above doesn’t mention the savings in gasoline, which is absolutely enormous, or the general fuel cost savings (wind/solar fuel costs are zero, coal is not). I’d be interested in reading their full analysis.

    If you want a detailed analysis that includes all considerations, start with the DoE report.

    MapleLeaf,

    Yes – my estimate of the military budget was conservative. Much also goes into the budget for “income security” (veteran’s benefits for instance).

  80. Sorry dhogaza, I am guilty of feeding the trolls, or at least until recently.

  81. Their full paper with the tables and cost charts are available on the SciAm page I linked to. I am also aware the authors seems to be oblivious to the implications of their analysis.

    It is investment that is paid back through the sale of electricity and energy. And again, relying on traditional sources would raise output from 12.5 to 16.9 TW, requiring thousands more of those plants, costing roughly $10 trillion

    As I said, the cost of continuing to use the existing infrastructure ($10 trillion) is a fraction of the cost of building this new renewable infrastructure. But more importantly, there is a huge technical risk because no has eve built a system relying entirely on renewables and there is no reason to believe the technology will work as advertised.

    As for the ‘savings on fuel’ – they only occur after the capital has been spent. This means the government has to suck the resources out of the economy in order to build these uneconomic power sources before any savings can be realized. It is ridiculous to think that will happen in an age with $2 trillion deficit + huge unfunded liabilities in social security and medicare.

    I looked at the DOE report and it says in many places there are large costs and technological challenges that it does not account for. It also presumes that fossil fuels are still available to provide the baseload. The costs increase exponentially of you try use renewables as baseload power.

  82. MapleLeaf :Sorry dhogaza, I am guilty of feeding the trolls, or at least until recently.

    Typical alarmist. Runs aways spewing ad homs once they realize that their arguments are completely irrational.

  83. You are not going to bait me by calling me juvenile names Tim. I’m trying to stop this thread being hijacked by you, to the better of my judgement I engaged you and that was a mistake from the outset. So you can keep ranting here if you choose (don’t expect replies though), or preferably go to an appropriate forum elsewhere. Either way, we don’t agree, but that does not make you right, not by a long shot. And yes, what you are engaging in is trolling, that is not an ad hom attack, but simply calling a spade a spade. Have a nice day 🙂

  84. If you want a detailed analysis that includes all considerations, start with the DoE report.

    One thing you also need to consider: what if I am correct and it is economically impossible to build enough non-emitting energy sources? What is the backup plan? How many trillions have to be wasted on renewable white elephants before the resources are redirected to adaption? You are a lot like the roullete player that wants to bet everything on 00. I am saying we need to hedge our bets and assume that we will not be able to reduce emissions in time and plan accordingly. Given the uncertainties I don’t see why that is an unreasonable approach.

  85. And yes, what you are engaging in is trolling

    My last reply to you was trolling. My previous posts were nothing but an honest attempt to have a rational discussion about our policy options given the risk of climate change. It is a mystery why you cannot see the difference.

  86. Tim: “As I said, the cost of continuing to use the existing infrastructure ($10 trillion) is a fraction of the cost of building this new renewable infrastructure”

    That’s not what the article said. It reads:

    “relying on traditional sources would raise output from 12.5 to 16.9 TW, requiring thousands more of those plants, costing roughly $10 trillion”

    Thus,

    – it’s only including the capital costs (not fuel costs)

    – of the extra 4.4 TW. Coal plants don’t last forever. Some (and eventually all) existing infrastructure would have to be replaced by new plants.

    Tim:”Their full paper with the tables and cost charts are available on the SciAm page I linked to. ”

    Thanks. I’m posting it here for others to see:

    http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/WindWaterSun1009.pdf

    There’s no mention of the total gross costs of investment or a quantification of the offsetting costs and incremental net cost. However, they do include:

    Table 6. Approximate fully annualized generation and transmission costs for WWS power

    after 2020

    Wind: < $0.04
    Conventional (mainly fossil fuel): $0.08
    (See other renewable costs in this table)

    Tim:"As for the ’savings on fuel’ – they only occur after the capital has been spent. This means the government has to suck the resources out of the economy in order to build these uneconomic power sources before any savings can be realized."

    They're hardly uneconomical if the savings results in a comparable capitalized cost over time. Wind is already competitive. Solar has the strongest potential for cost reductions. Fossil fuel prices long-term are only headed upward.

    Tim:"I looked at the DOE report and it says in many places there are large costs and technological challenges that it does not account for."

    Uncertainty swings both ways. For example, they state: "These monetary costs do not reflect other potential offsetting positive impacts."

    "It also presumes that fossil fuels are still available to provide the baseload."

    While I do agree that challenges become greater as baseload sources are eliminated entirely from the mix, this is potentially a bigger problem with continuing reliance on fossil fuels. For example, they note (not included as a cost of the no new wind scenario):

    "Wind Reduces Vulnerability
    Continued reliance on natural gas for
    new power generation is likely to put
    the United States in growing
    competition in world markets for
    liquefied natural gas (LNG)—some of
    which will come from Russia, Qatar,
    Iran, and other nations in less-thanstable
    regions."

    If you want further information, read the entire study and/or contact the authors, rather than making assumptions and cherry-picking quotes from an article.

    I'll take dhogaza's advice and let you have the last word, since this discussion is way OT. Perhaps Susann will start a thread on policy proposals in the future.

  87. “You are a lot like the roullete player that wants to bet everything on 00.”

    One more post…Actually, I’d prefer to not play roulette at all. The house always has the advantage, whether you bet on 00 or just black or red.

    “I am saying we need to hedge our bets and assume that we will not be able to reduce emissions in time and plan accordingly. Given the uncertainties I don’t see why that is an unreasonable approach.”

    Mitigation and adaptation are not mutually exclusive courses of action. It’s certainly an issue of risk management. I support what we can do economically. Clearly one extreme we can all agree on would be to insist on a 100% emissions cut in 1 year. Huge economic costs and only some incremental benefit than say an 80% reduction over 40 years, which every objective econonomic study indicates is quite feasible, even on the pessimistic end of assumptions (if only U.S. legislators weren’t owned by fossil fuel interests). Mitigate what we can. Adapt to the rest.

  88. They’re hardly uneconomical if the savings results in a comparable capitalized cost over time. Wind is already competitive. Solar has the strongest potential for cost reductions.

    Only if somebody has the ability to provide the upfront capital – opportunity cost matters. In this case, the US government would have to borrow the capital from the Chinese which is quite problematic on its own.

    I hope Susann puts thread up because I am think these are the discussions we should be having – not pointless arguments about unverifiable scientific claims.

  89. Huge economic costs and only some incremental benefit than say an 80% reduction over 40 years, which every objective econonomic study indicates is quite feasible

    Economits can’t predict the economy next year – nevermind 40 years from now. Those types of analyses don’t have much credibility. I look for analyses that specify exactly what technologies need to be deployed and the costs involved. Analyses that depend on unspecified technological improvements as a result of a hypothetical carbon price are not helpful.

  90. Sadly, I’m not at all concerned by Richard Drake’s inclination to play ball or not. “Denial” is not just a river in Egypt: it has a quite strict meaning, whereas “liberal” does not: it can mean almost anything. There is not way to restore what “liberal” meant, first because it never had the meaning we would have liked it to have, and second because it had many incompatible denotations right from the start.

    That is simply not the case with denial, so that comparison is bogus. Denial has roots in psychology; just by looking at:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial

    we can see that there are at least three kinds of denials:

    * simple denial – deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether
    * minimisation – admit the fact but deny its seriousness (a combination of denial and rationalisation), or
    * projection – admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility.

    We can see the three kinds at work in climate debates. This very blog’s comments show some examples; readers can easily find them. For our purpose, let us only observe that an important problem with that label is that to call a contrarian a denier assumes that the contrarian in question refuses to accept the reality of climate change, maybe also his responsibility towards it. (In that case, one might also argue that “denier” is really an euphemism for antisocial behavior; but not me, so let’s not digress.)

    The quandary is that a contrarian can argue that he does not deny anything, since what the warmists consider an overwhelming body of evidence simply does not exist. If the opposite came to be the establishment view, the AGW theory proponents would be called deniers. The term “denier” is relative at first, but becomes identified to a specific thesis. The term is here to stay, whatever the linguistic lack of merits.

    A more important misgiving of using labels is that we forget what exactly these labels refer to after a while. What is exactly the AGW thesis? I am not asking for an engineer-level explanation, just a statement.

    *****

    As a phenomenon, denial is not tainted by every occurence in which it has been used, at least not the way Drake says. The Monbiot example just shows it: Monbiot did not say “denial” simpliciter, he used the terms “climate change denial” and “Holocaust denial”. He apologized for using “Holocaust denial”, not for using “climate change denial”, and maybe not “denial”. A denier is not an Holocaust denier; a denier can embrace his faith without all remorse he could muster. Denial is a concept that is larger than Holocaust.

    Monbiot’s apologies does not change anything to the fact that climate change denial can look quite stupid. Saying that people using “denial” fumbled on the argumentum at hitlerum is a false correlation. Give these people any epithet and they will sooner or later rehearse that argument. Such is the way of the Godwin’s law.

    Talking about denial is simply not an analogy. In my own humble opinion, it simply attempts to describe a behavior. This kind of behavior has been around before WWII and appears in other contexts than historical discussions. The fact that it is so popular these days brings concerns as to the courteousness of the participants. But it also brings concerns regarding the whole athmosphere of the discussions, and also regarding the sincerity of many participants.

    *****

    All this is quite remote to everything I said in my previous comments. As I said previously, I do not condone the use of epithets. But I am realist enough not to expect too much, and abide to Postel’s law: I try to be conservative with my input and liberal in others’ output. That said, there are limitations to this law, settled by one’s level of tolerance, above which one had “waived any expectation” of discussion, to backhand it with auditing style.

    Echoing Lindzen’s comparison between AGW and eugenics or lysenkoism just shows no real interest in debating, and just provides the incentive to label Lindzen and those who like to frame minds by hammering this analogy as deniers. Tell me that this kind of “Viscount Discount intellectual terrorism” will stop and I will predict the word “denial” will lose currency; see how easy it is to frame debate.

    To repeat the most important part of what I said, if you are to label someone as a “denier”, chances are you won’t invite him for a beer and a chat. That means that the only situation in which using that label is not completely self-defeating is when you are labeling people you consider “nutters”, to take an expression Gavin Schmidt used and a position that Roger Pielke misrepresented. Not only did he misrepresented Schmidt’s position: the title of his post simply fails to acknowledge that there is no obligation to engage every opponents, more so if they are nutters. See

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/03/engage-your-oponents-or-just-call-them.html

    for a lack of futher discussion.

  91. Some adherents to denialism are so because of political persuasion. Libertarianism for example due to their distaste for government intervention in the market

    And many adherents to alarmism are so because of their political persuassion. Socialists for example dislike income disparities and see CO2 regulations as a good way to redistribute income. Environmentalists dislike industry and see CO2 regulations as a good way to shut them down or least force it to move out of the country.

  92. shewonk :
    Sorry, on this blog, I don’t have to appease any subscribers in order to keep up my profits so I’ll stick with what I believe is the most accurate way to describe what some are doing vis a vis AGW.

    If you wanna start a tip box I’ll contribute.
    Tip #1: If it’s a grey cloudy sky, it might rain. That is not a sign of global cooling.

  93. Tim :
    And many adherents to alarmism are so because of their political persuassion.

    Okay psychic genius, what’s my political persuasion?

  94. Okay psychic genius, what’s my political persuasion?

    I don’t know. But you would not subscribe to alarmism unless the proposed policies were not something that already suited your political persuasion.

    Shewonk likes to make a big deal out the political persuasion of people she disagrees with. I don’t see the point. Everyone interprets information and assesses risks based on their political persuasion. People who say they don’t are just fooling themselves.

  95. Sometimes, the most cost-effective policies are not the right ones. Cost is not the only factor in developing policy.

    That is what I meant when I said “Policy decisions are based on economics and *values*”

  96. Tim :

    Okay psychic genius, what’s my political persuasion?

    I don’t know. But you would not subscribe to alarmism unless the proposed policies were not something that already suited your political persuasion.

    Shewonk likes to make a big deal out the political persuasion of people she disagrees with. I don’t see the point. Everyone interprets information and assesses risks based on their political persuasion. People who say they don’t are just fooling themselves.

    I do not dispute this — everyone has a political leaning and that is part of how they view the world.

    There is research that suggests people who are more liberal are more likely to go into the sciences, which require an openness to change that conservatives feel discomfort over. Any change to the status quo is a threat to those who fear change and want to keep entrenched power structures in place, be they economic, political, social, cultural, religious, gender-based, etc. Liberals tend to be open to change and the idea of improving things. Hence, they may be more willing to consider that our behavior (emitting GHGs) could be a threat to our environment, and they may be more willing to change behaviors and technologies, and create new ones to address it.

  97. Tim :

    Okay psychic genius, what’s my political persuasion?

    I don’t know. But you would not subscribe to alarmism unless the proposed policies were not something that already suited your political persuasion.

    All you said there was, “I don’t know what alarmism is.”

  98. There is research that suggests people who are more liberal are more likely to go into the sciences, which require an openness to change that conservatives feel discomfort over.

    The issue here is how one views the government. People one the left tend to be people that expect the government to take care of them so when confronted with a risk like climate change they immediately look for the solutions that require a lot of government intervention. People on the right tend to view government as a necessary evil and will only look to the government for a solution if all other options have been exhausted.

    Liberals certainly do not have a monopoly on changing the world for the better. Engineers and entrepreneurs do that all of the time but they tend to be right wing as a group. The difference is engineers and entrepreneurs are much more focused on finding pragmatic solutions that work rather than seeking change for change’s sake.

  99. Tim :

    Engineers and entrepreneurs do that all of the time but they tend to be right wing as a group. The difference is engineers and entrepreneurs are much more focused on finding pragmatic solutions that work rather than seeking change for change’s sake.

    A disproportionate number of suicide bombers are engineers. I’m sure they felt they were being pragmatic, too. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Mohamed Atta and Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, to name but a few.

    Engineers of Jihad
    http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/users/gambetta/Engineers%20of%20Jihad.pdf

    Tim, if you want to hijack a group to bolster your argument, you have to hijack the bad along with the good.

  100. A disproportionate number of suicide bombers are engineers.

    A different society. A different educational system. There is really no comparison.

  101. Ironically, shewonk’s attempt to play up the virtues of scientists as liberals more or less confirms my suspicions that the scientific consensus is a less a result of scientific evidence and more a result of the political biases among the scientist/activist community.

  102. Tim :Ironically, shewonk’s attempt to play up the virtues of scientists as liberals more or less confirms my suspicions that the scientific consensus is a less a result of scientific evidence and more a result of the political biases among the scientist/activist community.

    Ooh, that sounds like a conspiracy…

  103. Tim :

    A disproportionate number of suicide bombers are engineers.

    A different society. A different educational system. There is really no comparison.

    Nope, the authors of the paper corrected for those. Engineers, in particular, were three to four times more likely to become violent terrorists than their peers in finance, medicine or the sciences. The next most radicalizing graduate degree, in a distant second, was Islamic Studies. Two of the three founders of Lashkar-e-Taibi, the group believed to be behind the Mumbai attacks, were professors at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore.

  104. A quick search suggests that new coal fired power stations cost between half a billion and a billion dollars each, so Tim’s championing of the scientific american report as demonstrating that we need to spend what, 32 trillion dollars? on a new energy infrastructure is a bit odd, given that the same report says we’ll need 13,000 new coal plants, which would therefore cost between 6.5 and 13 trillion dollars. And thats just to cope with the increase in energy needed by development etc….
    Here in Scotland we have an ideal chance to dump coal altogether – both the countries coal stations are nearing the end of their lives, having been built in the 60’s or 70’s. But keep the 2 nuclear plants going, more wind, wave and a bit more hydro, and we can get rid of the coal plants altogether.

  105. And in the meantime, while all of this political “stuff” is going on, nature does what it’s expected to do.

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

    …“Our concern is that the subsea permafrost has been showing signs of destabilization already,” she said. “If it further destabilizes, the methane emissions may not be teragrams, it would be significantly larger.”

    Shakhova notes that the Earth’s geological record indicates that atmospheric methane concentrations have varied between about .3 to .4 parts per million during cold periods to .6 to .7 parts per million during warm periods. Current average methane concentrations in the Arctic average about 1.85 parts per million, the highest in 400,000 years, she said. Concentrations above the East Siberian Arctic Shelf are even higher.”

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/03/04/science-nsf-tundra-permafrost-methane-east-siberian-arctic-shelf-venting/

    Good old nature. Consistent to the end.

  106. I notice that people seem to be connecting scientist’s associations with the fossil fuel industry to their opinions on AGW. For instance, in this thread, Mapleleaf states:

    “And, two last questions. 1) Why is the stratosphere cooling and 2) What is the climate sensitivity to doubling CO2 (and you can forget quoting confirmation bias Lindzen (who has also had ties with the FF industry) or debunked Monckton)?”

    I would argue that associations with the FF industry, for the heavy hitting pseudo skeptics (Lindzen, Singer, Seitz (old guard)) and pseudo skeptical organizations (GMI, CEI, Heartland), are a second order/insignificant cause of the denial and that the primary cause is linked to ideology. The scientists I mentioned have associations with the thinks tanks I cited, and this is their primary link to FF interests. These organizations are free market fundamentalist groups first and FF shills second. FF monies make up only a small portion of CEI and GMI’s budget that largely comes form wider corporate anti regulation interests. The scientists I cited were pseudo skeptical prior to getting any money from these groups, and the common denominator between them is a free market fundamentalist ideology. These scientists therefore tend to end up associating with these groups more due to their common interest of anti-regulation.

    To my knowledge, GMI started out as a lobby group for defense funding of rocket technology. Fred Seitz was involved in this. It seems that many of the advocates for rocket technology also hated communism zealously due to their free market ideology. Thus, when the threat of communism faded these folks who had associated themselves for an unrelated cause then started to see other opportunities to fight for the free market.

    I would also argue that associations with this extremist ideology and dubious think tanks should be used as an explanation for why various scientists write woeful papers that flunk and why they continue to publicly state opinions on the science counter a mass body of evidence. This is as opposed to an argument where this observation is more central I would think of it more as the full stop in the argument.

    For more information on this I’d recommend reading this book when it comes out, Merchants of Doubt:

    http://www.amazon.com/Merchants-Doubt-Handful-Scientists-Obscured/dp/1596916109

    How this relates to the wider pseudo skeptical world; I would argue that, in nearly every case that I’ve seen, the pseudo skeptical internet crank typically has an anti regulation political attitude. This is not to say that all libertarians are AGW pseudo skeptics or that all AGW pseudo skeptics are libertarians as there are notable exceptions of both that I’m aware of, but a significant majority of them are.

    • How this relates to the wider pseudo skeptical world; I would argue that, in nearly every case that I’ve seen, the pseudo skeptical internet crank typically has an anti regulation political attitude. This is not to say that all libertarians are AGW pseudo skeptics or that all AGW pseudo skeptics are libertarians as there are notable exceptions of both that I’m aware of, but a significant majority of them are.

      I’ve always seen opposition to AGW and GHG legislation as having complex roots in either direct vested interests, political leaning, ideological positions, just plain contrarianism (some people are just iconoclasts) and of course, it’s possible to have a combination of many. The same is true of course, for supporters. Some really do hate western civ and think we’re all morally corrupt by our opulent lifestyle and need to pay penance. Some really do want to go back to some idyllic and truly fictional past where we are in harmony with Gaia, and others do see this as a big unifying moment that will lead to socialist paradise. 😉 I am not one of them.

      However, I do often think of the Drake equation, esp. the variant where one of the factors is whether we successfully exit the fossil fuel era and enter the geoengineering / fusion era without sending ourselves into mass extinction…

  107. Paul H :
    For more information on this I’d recommend reading this book when it comes out, Merchants of Doubt:
    http://www.amazon.com/Merchants-Doubt-Handful-Scientists-Obscured/dp/1596916109

    This hour and a quarter lecture by Naomi Oreskes may be in order.

    Good post, by the way. Lubos Motl posted a comment at the Guardian today banging on about leftists. Monckton loves his Marxist banker New Orders. Benny Peiser is a contributor to German libertarian mag Axis of Good (Achse des Guten). It would be interesting to see a list of these pseudo sceptics and their ideologies.

  108. Shewonk
    You commented to Richard Drake that “The goal of the fossil fuel lobby is to stop climate legislation by denying the science of AGW”. Looking at where their funding is going, eg BP to CRU, it has to be more complicated than that. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you have fallen for a lazy bit of abuse put out by the likes of desmogblog. Here’s a business perspective, as I am a businessman, not a scientist:
    The goal of the fossil fuel lobby is to maximise shareholder value. The biggest threat to their business is fossil fuel exhaustion. They need to invest in renewables to establish a replacement income stream. The more governments fear AGW, the more they will subsidise development of alternative energy sources. So the fossil fuel industry gets its life raft built for it.

    • You commented to Richard Drake that “The goal of the fossil fuel lobby is to stop climate legislation by denying the science of AGW”. Looking at where their funding is going, eg BP to CRU, it has to be more complicated than that. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you have fallen for a lazy bit of abuse put out by the likes of desmogblog. Here’s a business perspective, as I am a businessman, not a scientist:

      Guilty as charged — I know that it is far more nuanced than I have often portrayed. Yes, the bottom line is to maximize shareholder value but that can be defined differently and not every CEO and Board always acts in the best interests of shareholders. Maximizing shareholder value can mean different things to different corporations (and execs in the same corp) such that some may be interested in long-term solutions involving developing renewables to replace revenues lost when FFs become too costly to extract, whereas others want to take the money and run. Still others see their interests as in direct opposition to any form of regulation of their industry. Not all businessmen will see eye to eye on every issue facing them. Also, some of the apparent support for global warming legislation is an effort to control the agenda to their own particular view of “best interest” and for some its pure PR. A mix of all the above may also apply.

  109. J Bowers,

    That’s a great talk and covers a lot of the material that will be in the book. The book, AKAIK, goes into a lot more detail and documents lots of the evidence including memos between some of the old guard pseudo skeptics of Seitz’a era.

    One of the other type of ideology that can lead to pseudo skepticism is one that places significant value on caring for the n billions of people who live in poverty. I think this is a valid concern of course. You find certain folks arguing about this in terms of increased regulation affecting the n billions of the world’s poor. For instance, Spencer and Christy are christians and their faith couples with moderate libertarianism to lead them to think about regulation affecting the ability of the world’s poor to help themselves. Another, rather odd, example are a group of ex-marxists from the UK who jumped all the way over to free market fundamentalism with a heavy slant on how regulation would affect the poor. Anti-regulation is still the chorus and the common denominator in these two other flavors though.

  110. Paul H :
    For instance, Spencer and Christy are christians and their faith couples with moderate libertarianism to lead them to think about regulation affecting the ability of the world’s poor to help themselves. Another, rather odd, example are a group of ex-marxists from the UK who jumped all the way over to free market fundamentalism with a heavy slant on how regulation would affect the poor. Anti-regulation is still the chorus and the common denominator in these two other flavors though.

    Interestingly, Dr Judith Curry describes her politics as almost libertarian, although I can’t find the piece I read that in. It did, however, make me raise my eyebrows which is why I remember it. Her own srticle attempting to reconcile the differences between the two sides has been rebuked by both, but one marked feature of her piece is where she puts “denialist” in inverted commas, but not the word alarmists. Bishop Hill is a prominent “sceptic” (Andrew Montfor). If you go to his blog http://bishophill.squarespace.com/ and look at the blogroll to the right, you can find links to a number of libertarian sites including Libertarian Alliance. Then there’s James Delingpole of the Telegraph, whose vitriolic spite is renowned. Delingpole is a libertarian. The denialsphere is rife with them.

    It’s also worth reading this ex-sceptic’s piece in the National Post, he being a libertarian but came to the conclusion that AGW is real after being sceptical. I suppose you could say he really is a sceptic 😉

    AGW poses a direct threat to some forms libertarianism and right-wing capitalism. I think that this may have played a strong role in my personal AGW skepticism, and perhaps in other libertarians. As I discussed in a previous blog post, values can determine whether someone considers themselves a libertarian, liberal, conservative, etc. One important value of libertarianism is the desire for smaller government. This rubs up against the problem of AGW. If the problem of AGW is real, and if we have any hope of solving it, we would most likely require development of gross regulations from governments. This is exactly what is going on right now in Copenhagen. Those who find regulations unpalatable, when faced with AGW, will have strong psychological pressure to find themselves in what I call the AGW skeptic spectrum: deny the existence of rising global temperatures, doubt the fact that it is man made, skeptical that cutting back emissions can help, and finally, question the idea that cutting emissions can help or is economically feasible. It is for this reason that I think that the AGW has unfortunately been split down the house between the political left-wing and right-wing. Once a topic has become left-wing vs right-wing, the argument is no longer scientific, it is political. Points are scored not by evidence but by embarrassing ‘gotchas’ like the recent climategate scandal and by rhetoric.

    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/12/14/jonathan-abrams-on-climate-change.aspx

  111. Susann:

    “either direct vested interests”

    Would you agree that this motivating factor is typically present in a smaller number of cases compared to political leanings and ideology? I forgot to mention the history of the [GCC](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Climate_Coalition), which was a clear example of straight up shilling for FFs companies. If pseudo skeptics have got links to fossil fuels and oil they’re being more careful about it now. I can think of one notable example of a CEO with vested interests that is outspoken on climate change: [Michael O’Leary](http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article2963702.ece).

    I also have it on reasonably good authority via a first hand source that Dick Lindzen just likes being a contrarian and relishes being the odd one out, which fits in with your points on iconoclasts. He is also a staunch libertarian though.

    You say:

    “The same is true of course, for supporters.”

    I couldn’t agree more. We’ve already had cases of environmental terrorism motivated by the kinds of thing that you’ve mention, and of course Osama Bin Laden has declared his support for AGW and probably out does most extreme environmentalists in terms of his hatred of Western lifestyles. Those types of environmentalist ‘idealist’ that you mention probably aren’t thinking in terms of the achieving the best standard of living for the most people, which would be my position. I would argue though that the extremist ideological elements have become far more mainstream in the denialosphere.

    Back to my original point, kind of, I am just sick of those who transparently oppose GHG legislation from masquerading their political grievances with pseudo scientific arguments.

    Good point about the Drake equation btw. I remember reading that on Barry Brook’s blog some time ago.

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