Freeman Dyson on Climate Change Hysteria


Visonary physicist Freeman Dyson most certainly cannot be labelled a “global warming denialist” yet in this review of two new books he is expressing the growing reservation of clear thinkers that for some environmentalists, the gospel of catastrophic climate change is leading them to dismiss intelligent debate and allocate resources in very ineffective ways:

Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice. Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard.

The lack of insight that Dyson notes in the article is expressed well by the sloppy response to Dyson over at RealClimate.org, which betrays the naivete many physical scientists bring to the table in terms of a quality grasp of economics and social policy.   The key issue with Climate Change is not that it’s happening or that humans play a significant role – the key issue is what we should do about this and how we should carry on the debate.

I wrote over at RealClimate.org:

The comments here about discounting strike me as very naive and begging the key question of what we should do.   DICE models aside, the basic issues are how much do we spend (or how much wealth do we forego) on mitigation, when do we spend it, and on what?   We will address these questions whether we do it haphazardly as suggested here, or more analytically as suggested by Dyson and others.  Dyson and most mainstream economists reasonably suggest that we should spend modestly on mitigating CO2 in favor of using those resources to mitigate current catastrophic conditions and saving them to use on more effective mitigation measures of the future.

<i>So, we are a lot richer now than when the last Moa was eaten. Can we use that wealth to bring back the Moa?</i>

No, we cannot, but what if we use those *extra* riches we would not have today to keep 10 species from extinction?  Without looking at both sides of these equations we lose our ability for reasoned analyses.

I’d be interested in hearing where people here would draw the line in spending to mitigate warming?   The number *must* be between 0% and 100% of global GDP.

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About JoeDuck

Internet Travel Guy, Father of 2, small town Oregon life. BS Botany from UW Madison Wisconsin, MS Social Sciences from Southern Oregon. Top interests outside of my family's well being are: Internet Technology, Online Travel, Globalization, China, Table Tennis, Real Estate, The Singularity.
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69 Responses to Freeman Dyson on Climate Change Hysteria

  1. glenn says:

    It is pretty sad that even today people still want to blame humans for global warming. Climate change is 100% controlled by the sun and there is very little we can do about it. Climate change is evident on many of the planets within our solar system and as far as I know humans are not there causing it – unless of course the hubble telescope is using C02 to view them!

    Our best chance is to adopt new strategies and create new technologies that allow us to adapt to the changes.

    Beware of politicians trying to sap your wallet for more money which ultimately benefit them directly.

    At the same time I think it is wise for us humans to act as good stewards of our big blue marble.

    Just my two cents…or my two carbon credits!

  2. JoeDuck says:

    Glenn I still think the basic ideas of the IPCC are correct – carbon emissions by humans are causing most of the observed warming. But that warming is small enough that I think it is unlikely to bring any catastrophic problems. On the other hand we already face catastrophic military and health issues on earth, so like Dyson I would say we should probably work more on those more pressing and less expensive items before we spend trillions in the hopes of delaying warming by at most a few years.

  3. glenn says:

    Joe we basically do not have enough long-term data let alone have even begun to understand how climate change even occurs.

    Currently it is proposed that carbon emissions are cause but they can’t possibly know for sure. The theory behind carbon emissions and its impact only relates to a small percentage of the entire equation with the biggest issue we still do not understand the equation.

    As any mathematician will tell you – if you don’t even know the equation then your answer will only be a guess even if you think it is an educated guess it is still a guess.

    We saw this same hysteria in the 70’s with the great global cooling swindle – media is more prevalent now but it is the same game.

    The bottom line: you can’t take a few hundred years worth of data and think you have a model that represents what has happened over billions of years. The climate issue is a bigger equation which we just don’t have the right mix of technology and data to solve yet.

    My biggest issue with the argument is the outrageous legislation and taxation (many forms) that they want to put on our backs…all on a guess!

  4. ScaredAmoeba says:

    Glenn,
    You are mistaken about climate change and the ‘warming’ on other planets.

    First of all Solar output has been falling since 1952. The studies that indicate that solar output has been increasing AFAIA all have been flawed. With a slightly falling solar output, it’s rather hard for you to explain warming on other planets!

    Secondly some of the planets are cooling.

    Thirdly Neptune has been brightening. But this is not evidence of warming, just a change in albedo.
    From Nasa:
    “Unlike the Earth, however, the seasons of Neptune last for decades, not months. A single season on the planet, which takes almost 165 years to orbit the Sun, can last more than 40 years. If what scientists are observing is truly seasonal change, the planet will continue to brighten for another 20 years.”

    Climate change, as any climate scientist who’s worth his salt, will tell you does not have a single cause, it is caused by numerous factors which all work together. The sun has been responsible for a tiny amount, because the variation of solar output is very small. Since 1952, solar output has fallen slightly. The largest contributors are the greenhouse gases Co2, H2O, CH4 and N20. Water is dependent upon temperature and any excess falls-out as rain. The atmospheric lifetime of CO2 is large – a significant proportion remains for thousands of years.

    If it were not for the greenhouse effect, none of us would be here, because the Earth would be ~32 deg. Celsius colder and would be frozen solid.

    By burning ~7.5 gigatonnes of fossil carbon each year we have unintentionally boosted the greenhouse effect from CO2 which along with other GHGs CH4, N2O from other human activities is trapping heat and thereby warming the planet. The warming seen can mostly be explained by GHGs. There are some uncertainties from clouds but solar and cosmic rays don’t look to be responsible.

    We know that the excess CO2 is derived from fossil-sources because fossil C has a different isotopic ratio from biological C. As the proportion of CO2 increases in the atmospher, the isotopic ratio of biological carbon in the atmosphere is being diluted with fossil C, and the isotopic ratio of C in the atmospher is shifting accordingly.
    Volcanic emissions of CO2 in rate terms are tiny compared with man-made emissions 0.15 Gt/year compared with 7.5 Gt/year for human actvities.

    We have surface measurements in the United States which show an accelerating trend towards higher temperatures. Note this accelerating trend is itself consistent with AGW but completely at odds with solar warming, which would show a decreasing trend of rising temperatures [a levelling-off]!

    The stratosphere is cooling – just as is predicted by the anthropogenic global warming theory. Note this is consistent with AGW but inconsistent with solar warming!

    The diurnal [day-night] temperature differential is reducing, which is consistent with AGW, but inconsistent with solar causes.

    The 1970’s ice age scare is a myth and untrue. Please check your facts!

  5. JoeDuck says:

    Thanks for the comment ScaredAmoeba.


    By burning ~7.5 gigatonnes of fossil carbon each year we have unintentionally boosted the greenhouse effect from CO2 which along with other GHGs CH4, N2O from other human activities is trapping heat and thereby warming the planet. The warming seen can mostly be explained by GHGs. There are some uncertainties from clouds but solar and cosmic rays don’t look to be responsible.

    I Agree, but think pollution is more of an issue with this than climate change which is showing few signs of being catastrophic.

    The lag time for C02 induced temperature effects also puzzles me greatly. If there is a lag time of hundreds of years for C02 what causes the affects we are now measuring?

  6. JoeDuck says:

    Hey, here is my answer, and a great site as well:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/page.php?p=3

  7. glenn says:

    During the 1970’s there were several publications including mainstream and many scientists claiming we were heading for another ice age. This is not a myth and is not untrue. Please don’t try to revise history to bolster your position.

    There was one study done that I know that stated the opinion of global cooling during the 1970’s did not have the consensus of the scientific community. Also during the 1970’s you didn’t have the massive politically correct influence on opinion either. The fact stands that during the 1970’s the media and scientists predicted we were headed for another ice age.

    The fact that other planets are experiencing climate change is again more proof that the components of climate change are little understood by our scientists. BTW I never said the sun’s output had increased nor did I say all planets were warming. I did say that climate was controlled 100% by the sun – that is not correct. Many scientists believe that the sun is by far the major factor in climate impact.

    Regardless of how much fossil carbon we produce there just isn’t enough data to support any sustainable long-term trend regarding our climate change. It is going to take a long time to even begin to understand how fossil carbon actually affects our climate.

    Remember the most accurate weather forecast ever given was : Tomorrow’s weather – same as today.

    The fact that we cannot even predict weather with any degree of accuracy and we certainly cannot nail down any trends with our weather patterns, etc…it is just plain absurd to think we can predict climate change on this planet like they are trying to do.

    To understand the real goal of this current climate change scare you have to go to the root of the agenda of the people putting this forward.

    If you really want to do something to help mankind we need to focus on serious issues like the asteroid threat. Do you realize that meteors as small as 3 feet in size survive entry into our atmosphere and when they impact they leave a 50 foot crater? If you ask mainstream science they will stand up and state that an meteor that small won’t survive entry…fact is they do and one hit just last year Peru.

    IMHO we have many better things to spend money on than trying to further tax and hinder countries trying to achieve a higher status. It is in all of our best interests to have as many third world countries industrialize and spread democracy.

    Without thousands of years of more data there just is no way we are going to even have a shot at predicting any long-term trends.

    Remember the next time the weatherman gets it wrong think about someone predicting a long-term catastrophic trend for our planet – it is impossible to do with any certainty.

  8. ScaredAmoeba says:

    Joe,
    You said:
    ‘The lag time for CO2 induced temperature effects also puzzles me greatly. If there is a lag time of hundreds of years for CO2 what causes the affects we are now measuring?’

    The answer is clearly yes! The lag time exposes the duality of behaviour of CO2. CO2 acts as a feedback and a forcing. Warming causes releases of CO2 and methane. Methane which is a strong GHG, is gradually converted into CO2.

    Uninformed and dishonest comment [dishonest comment emanates from the paid servants of the fossil-fuel propaganda industry] is that the climate is self correcting. This is both true and untrue! In the long-term [tens to hundreds of thousands of years] it is true. However in the short term, hundreds of years or less, this is not true.
    How long do humans live? Less than a century or more than ten thousand years?

    Feedbacks do not increase climate stability, they decrease it!
    As a forcing, CO2 causes warming, but as a feedback, it enhances warming that has already occurred. The feedback-forcing cycle occurs repeatedly. CO2 has a complex lifetime, with the bulk being removed in a few hundreds of years, but a very long tail lasting for thousands into tens of thousands of years. It is this tail that causes much of the warming.

    Humanity, by releasing CO2 has triggered a warming phase. The current warming are stimulating releases of CO2 and methane from natural sources which will INCREASE the warming.

    A major concern is that the permafrost IS melting [thermokarst] and this IS releasing lots of methane, we are close to a tipping-point which if triggered will lead to conditions for a switch between climate states.

    The behaviour of the climate is non-linear and this means that the climate can move rapidly between different stable states. There is likely to be a level of hysteresis, which means that once the transition has begun, that it will switch to a new state, but may not return for centuries or millennia to the current state in which all species alive have adapted to though evolution. What is certain, is that states different from the current one will NEITHER be as suitable for humans and other life, and there is no guarantee that the climate will stop there if emissions plus stimulated releases of methane and CO2 are sufficient!

    Evolution will enable life to adapt to a new climate, but evolution is not a nice and pleasant process! Typically, evolution leads to extinction and lots of death.

  9. ScaredAmoeba says:

    Glenn, your attempts at revising history are mistaken. Please avoid bluster and stick to the facts! We’re looking at science here, not silly magazines!

    THE MYTH OF THE 1970S GLOBAL COOLING SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS
    Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley and John Fleck
    http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/131047.pdf

    Between 1965 and 1979, there were
    7 articles that predicted cooling
    44 articles that predicted warming
    20 articles were neutral

    So where is your consensus? Yes some studies predicted cooling, but they were in the minority. The overwhelming amount of science indicated warming. Your argument is looking rather flimsy!

    There are many reasons why a planet might warm or cool. You have focused upon solar effects and while solar cannot be discounted [they haven’t been], the falling solar output has rather stymied the solar hypothesis.

    You will note that a number of observations of how the warming is occurring are incompatible with solar causes that currently it would seen that any solar effects are minor. It is conceded by climatologists that more science is required, because there may be mechanisms that are unknown or improperly understood.

    The asteroid threat is uncertain. Whereas the climate threat is very real and it will hit everywhere.

    Since when has politics any bearing upon science? It hasn’t! Your prevarication and bluster are indicative that your views are based upon ideology and not science. All my comments [unless I have made an error] are traceable to numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies, published in highly respected journals.

    Weather and climate are different. Don’t they teach that at seventh grade? Climate is the weather averaged-out.

  10. JCH says:

    It would be, of course, absolutely preposterous to think that one could step outside today and see signs of catastrophic climate change, or that the inability to see signs means it does not loom in mankind’s future. That’s just flat-out irrational.

    The invention of carbon eating trees? One might as well believe in Tinkerbell showing up to spread carbon eating pixie dust.

    Dyson would not be entertaining irrational delusions of technological rescue if he did not already know the consequences of burning fossil fuels at ever increasing rates does not mean certain catastrophe in the future.

  11. horatiox says:

    Good post. It’s not just the C02-time lag problem (really a massive problem), but the reliability of temp. data itself, and the modelling based on the questionable temp. data. This is addressed by many of the skeptics (and no, they are not all foxnews-addicted crypto-fascists). A big volcano spews far more C02 in a few days than years of man-made C02, and yet there’s hardly any evidence which would correlate the increased C02 due to volcanoes to temp. rise (there may be some—but I have read some evidence shows cooling–similar to how cloud cover tends to lower temps)

    Rev. Al (Gore, not Sharpton) made some comments regarding the skeptics, did he not– something to the effect of, “it’s ok to bend the truth and manipulate data when it’s for a good cause”–paraphrasing “give a hoot don’t pollute.” The Gore-heads (like these clowns) have lost interest in the AGW cause of course. Gorism is not so fun when Freeman Dysons (and other big name scientists) are around to demolish the church dogma.

  12. glenn says:

    ScaredAmoeba,

    How does their kool-aid taste? You sure are drinking a lot of it!

    The asteroid threat is very real and one asteroid could do more damage to our climate than anything happening right now by man. Climate change due to asteroid strikes on our planet have occurred at a catastrophic level and it will happen again. When has man ever caused climate change to occur on a global basis?

    The whole global-warming scenario is based on a guess whereas the asteroid scenario is based on fact and past history.

    With global-warming it is all about politics now and the fact that reputable scientists have been discredited because they offer differing opinions on the topic proves just how political it is. Science is all about both sides of the argument – now they want to throw out the challenges to the inconsistent science used to form the global warming opinion.

    It is a shame that we become sheeple and are taken down these paths of fear all in support of a political agenda. This is more about people like Al Gore trying to line their own pockets and to create a legacy than it is about saving our planet.

    I don’t doubt climate-change will happen whether from factors within our solar system or otherwise – but there is very little we can do to stop it, we need to invest in approaches that allow us to adapt. Adaptation is man’s greatest asset.

  13. ScaredAmoeba says:

    Glenn,
    Why are you so unwilling to accept the science of climate science? When you are so willing to accept quantum physics, which clearly doesn’t make sense, but its predictions power the computer you use and every modern electronic device! The scientific principles that underscore one science are much the same in any scientific discipline. Of course, there are restrictions regarding climate science, there is no separate ‘control’ planet Earth.

    Your selective phobia of science is irrational. It is you who must have been drinking the kool-aid.

    You have offered not one shred of evidence to support your laughable claims whereas all my claims are supported by published ISI peer-reviewed science. Please prove me wrong!

    Silly websites are not proof, it has to be rooted in science, not ill-informed political rant and pseudo-science.

  14. JoeDuck says:

    I should turn this into a climate blog – the comments sure get a lot more interesting!

    JCH you are right that we would not see the catastrophic conditions until it was too late to change them, but based on IPCC projections I don’t think one should conclude the sky is falling in the fashions portrayed in “An Inconvenient Truth”, though I admit the film was carefully crafted to imply (using pictures) rather than assert (with the words) that catastrophe was looming.

    I do agree with ScaredAmoeba that we should not use science selectively. This is why IPCC, despite some of its political flaws, is the best benchmark to use for scientific accuracy. Most economists are accepting these projections and then working from them to determine the most effective allocation of resources. Nordhaus’ approach seems very reasonable to me though if Stern’s approach is correct (low to no discounting of current costs), then we should be spending vast amounts on mitigation ASAP.

  15. ScaredAmoeba says:

    horatiox,
    “A big volcano spews far more C02 in a few days than years of man-made C02, and yet there’s hardly any evidence which would correlate the increased C02 due to volcanoes to temp. rise”

    Could you explain why the CO2 in the atmosphere is rising year on year? According to your theory, there would need to be a constantly growing increase in volcanic activity, an increase in vulcanism which has somehow been overlooked! Could you please point to peer-reviewed evidence in a reputable scientific journal that supports this?

    “Global emission of carbon dioxide by subaerial volcanoes is calculated, using CO2 / SO2 from volcanic gas analyses and SO2 flux, to be 34 ± 24 × 10 l2 g CO2 / yr from passive degassing and 31 ± 22 × 10 12 g CO2 / yr from eruptions. Volcanic CO2 presently represents only 0.22% of anthropogenic emissions but may have contributed to significant “greenhouse” effects at times in Earth history. Models of climate response to CO2 increases may be tested against geological data.

    Global carbon dioxide emission to the atmosphere by volcanoes”
    Williams, Stanley N.; Schaefer, Stephen J.; Calvache v., Marta Lucia; Lopez, Dina Publication:
    Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, vol. 56, Issue 4, pp.1765-1770
    **************************
    Abstract
    So far, the role of present-day Earth degassing in global C budget and climate effects has been focused to volcanic emissions. The non-volcanic escape of CO2–CH4 from the upper mantle, from carbonate bearing rocks in the crust, from hydrocarbon accumulations and from surface deposits and processes is here discussed in detail. An inventory of recent available data is presented. For the first time, a so large quantity of data is considered altogether showing clearly that the geological flux of carbon was previously significantly underestimated. Several lines of evidence show that non-volcanic C fluxes in «colder» environments are much greater than generally assumed. Local and regional data suggest that metamorphic decarbonation, hydrocarbon leakage and mud volcanoes could be significant CO2–CH4 sources at global scale. Moreover, extensive surface gas-geochemical observations, including soil–atmosphere flux investigations, open the possibility that ecosystems controlled by biogenic activity (soil, permafrost, seawater) can host important components of endogenous C gas (geogas), even in the absence of surface gas manifestations. This would imply the existence of a geological diffuse, background emission over large areas of our planet. New theories concerning the occurrence of pervasive geogas and lithospheric processes of C-gas production («lithospheric loss in rigidity») can be taken as novel reference and rationale for re-evaluating geological sources of CO2 and CH4, and an important endeavour and work prospect for the years to come.
    Our survey shows that it is still very hard to arrive at a meaningful estimate of the lithospheric non-volcanic degassing into the atmosphere. Orders of 102–103 Mt CO2/year can be provisionally considered. Assuming as lower limit for a global subaerial volcanic degassing 300 Mt/year, the lithosphere may emit directly into the atmosphere at least 600 Mt CO2/year (about 10% of the C source due to deforestation and land-use exchange), an estimate we still consider conservative. It is likely that temporal variations of lithosphere degassing, at Quaternary and secular scale, may influence the atmospheric C budget. The present-day lithosphere degassing would seem higher than the value considered to balance at Ma time-scale the CO2 uptake due to silicate weathering.
    Carbon degassing from the lithosphere
    Mörnera and Etiope 2002
    *****************************

    It would seem that the science suggests that volcanic CO2 as a proportion of Anthropogenic CO2 falls in the range 0.22 – 1%. Which makes your claim that ‘a big volcano spews far more CO2 in a few days than years of man-made CO2’, sound utterly false. In fact, the reverse of your claim is true assuming the upper bound, [I’m being generous], one year of volcanic emissions is matched in ~3.65 [yes three point six five days!] days of anthropogenic emissions.

    Just how can you justify your unsupported comments about volcanic CO2? Many a theory is destroyed by ugly facts!

    There is masses of evidence that CO2 causes warming, releases of natural GHGs including CO2 are stimulated by increasing temperatures. All anyone has to do is look!

    Politics has no place in science.

  16. glenn says:

    -=-=-
    You have offered not one shred of evidence to support your laughable claims whereas all my claims are supported by published ISI peer-reviewed science. Please prove me wrong!
    -=-=-

    Your peer-reviewed science is only opinion, guesses and speculation. None of what you have proposed is scientific fact – it is speculation based on a wide array of assumptions which we have no basis in real historical data to validate.

    The reason you are the one drinking kool-aid is you are willing to have our planet adopt financial burdens and restrictions on third world countries all based on a guess.

    I would like to see where I am using science selectively – I just want science that is based on actual fact and historical data not an educated guess that is further fueled by political ambitions and self-interest.

    I never stated climate change isn’t happening. IMHO we don’t have the necessary data, scientific technology at this point to accurately predict what, how much the climate will change.

    The fact you state climate is an average of weather just shows how simplistic a view you want to adopt regarding climate. Any mathematician (not actuary) will tell you that given the age of the universe, our planet and the amount of weather data we have you cannot possibly begin to predict any long-term trend with any degree of accuracy.

    Remember you are the one that is choosing to take the path of insults, belittling, etc – that to me is always the case when someone doesn’t have the answers.

    I also suggest you spend some time researching the impact meteors have had on our climate. Literally every major climate and species impacting event in our history is linked to meteor impact. There is real science there and a strong historical record to back it all up.

    Earthquakes, super volcanoes and asteroids are all much more of a significant threat to our existence than swag about a long-term catastrophic trend in our climate.

    One thing I agree with you is that politics has no place in science – IMHO the climate change discussion would be a lot stronger if people like Al Gore had stayed out of it instead of trying to build his personal wealth from it. Can anyone say hypocrite? Just look at his carbon footprint – it is absurd!

  17. JCH says:

    I have no problem with a financial analysis. I just understand they are dependent upon subjective assumptions, and the discount rate, among others, is one of them. I think 4% is loopy. I believe Nordhaus was originally talking 3%.

    As for the when of the catastrophe, a little more focus upon the lock-in points seems pretty prudent to me as the scale makes much of this irreversible. And if you think GDP is threatened now, try living in an economy that exists under irreversible.

  18. horatiox says:

    How do you account for slight increases in CO2 (from like 40s to 70s), and cooler temps, even record lows during the same period, for decades? I’m not getting into this again (scroll back a few months for the debate, links, etc. See Counterpunch/ Cockburn, who trashed Monbiot, and linked to numerous responsible scientists who doubted the CO2 to warming claims. Dyson’s just the latest).

    It’s a question of the reliability of the data. Sound science DOES NOT depend on inferences merely due to apparent statistical correlations anyway, or on consensus (and it’s questionable whether there are correlations at all, as Crichton capably pointed out a few years ago. But then most in the Church of Gore wouldn’t know Margin of Error, from like motorhead).

    Check Dr. Hug’s research for starters, which basically suggested IPCC claims were, like, Bogus with a capital B. The chemists and real atmospheric scientists (ie NOT modellers) have yet to demonstrate in a lab that increased CO2 has some significant causal effect on temp, even at very high, artificial conditions, way beyond the real atmosphere. The AGW modelling is not atmospheric science. Quoting modellers is about like quoting stats professors or programmers on AGW, if that.

    HOWEVER, I do grant that other fossil fuels might be culprits, and that in some areas, temps appear to be rising (but again, there are questions regarding the temp. data). But pollution over Toronto or Seattle or LA, leading to a few anomalies does equate to global warming. The point is that CO2 has not at all been proven to be the culprit.

  19. ScaredAmoeba says:

    Glenn,
    Do you honestly believe that this:
    http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2008/05/26/best-image-ever/
    got there through “opinion, guesses and speculation” and “speculation based on a wide array of assumptions”?

    To get a functioning probe to Mars and land it in a specific area, required a remarkable synergy of chemistry, rocketry, physics, atmospheric science, nuclear physics, materials science, aerodynamics, planetary science, astronomy, electronics, optics, and much more.

    This kind of event doesn’t just happen, it is proof that science can achieve result that would otherwise be impossible.

  20. glenn says:

    Seriously ScaredAmoeba,

    I have no problem with sound science…I live and breathe it every single day. The great climate debate is based on speculation and swag’s…period.

    Space exploration is far more predictable as far as determining trajectories, gravitational pull, etc. Getting to Mars is not impossible – we have been doing it for almost 40 years – mechanical failure and software bugs have doomed about 50% of the missions – not bad science.

    Climate prediction is not even close. To compare it to space exploration you would need to compare it to a plan to send a probe to an unknown planet in an unknown galaxy and and an unknown solar system. Now an actuary can probably come up with a rationalization that would state it could be done and predicted and it would all be done with mathematics, assumptions, science…whatever…just because they use science doesn’t mean the end-result is good science.

    I actually have no idea why you would even begin to compare the Phoenix mission and science behind to the science behind climate prediction. The Phoenix mission has a finite set of possibilities and paths whereas climate prediction has an infinite set of possibilities primarily because we don’t even know the right formulas to use.

    Can you for one moment think about the possibility that our formulas regarding climate prediction are wrong or have mistakes?

  21. ScaredAmoeba says:

    Horatiox,
    If you truly want to understand the science, then Dyson and Cockburn are more a comedy double-act than a source of science.
    Dyson is an economist and should should stick to economics.
    For a debunking of his ridiculous fantasies, see:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/freeman-dysons-selective-vision/

    Cockburn is a journalist who peddles pseudo-science.
    For a debunking of Cockburn’s ill-informed comment, see:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/cockburns-form/

    If you want proof about CO2, then you need to look at the science! And if Glenn is any guide, you won’t be getting much science here! Although you’ll get a great deal of opinion undiluted by facts!

    The best place to start is:
    Any reputable scientific body – one run by scientists!

    The American Meteorological Society
    http://www.ametsoc.org/amsnews/2007climatechangerelease.pdf
    The American Institute of Physics http://www.aip.org/gov/policy12.html
    The American Geophysical Union
    http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/policy/positions/climate_change2008.shtml
    The American Association for the Advancement of Science
    http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2007/0218am_statement.shtml

    Note these are all American, but there are numerous other eminent scientific organisations. See below:

    THE SCIENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
    A joint statement issued by the Australian Academy of Sciences, Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Royal Irish Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Royal Society (UK).
    The work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents the consensus of the international scientific community on climate change science. We recognise IPCC as the world’s most reliable source of information on climate change and its causes, and we endorse its method of achieving this consensus. Despite increasing consensus on the science underpinning predictions of global climate change, doubts have been expressed recently about the need to mitigate the risks posed by global climate change.
    We do not consider such doubts justified…,
    http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=13619

    The national science academies of the G8 nations and Brazil, China and India, three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world, have signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action and calls on world leaders, including those meeting at the G8 summit at Gleneagles in July 2005, to do the following.
    http://royalsociety.org/trackban.asp?id=1948&pId=1278&url=/document.asp?id=3222
    http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=20742

    Sites that debunk common denialist arguments

    Coby Beck’s How to talk to Global Warming Skeptic http://gristmill.grist.org/skeptics
    New Scientist: Climate Change: A guide for the perplexed http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn11462

    RealClimate: Response to common contrarian arguments
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/index/#Responses

    NERC (UK): Climate change debate summary
    http://www.nerc.ac.uk/about/consult/debate/climatechange/summary.asp

    UK Met Office: Climate Change Myths
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/myths/index.html

    Brian Angliss A Thorough Debunking
    http://scholarsandrogues.wordpress.com/2007/07/23/anti-global-heating-claims-a-reasonably-thorough-debunking/

    John Cross Skeptical Science
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/

    History: Spencer Weart’s “Discovery of Global Warming”
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    The Royal Society has produced this overview of the current state of scientific understanding of climate change to help non-experts better understand some of the debates in this complex area of science. The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science – responds here to eight key arguments that are currently in circulation by setting out, in simple terms, where the weight of scientific evidence lies.
    http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/trackdoc.asp?id=4085&pId=6229

    IPCC
    The IPCC reports themselves:
    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html
    http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/index.htm

    The Economic Argument
    There is evidence that the economic argument is not based upon economically sound reasoning.
    Unsurprisingly, the denial industry funded directly or indirectly by the fossil-fuel industry are aligned with those who deny anthropogenic climate change for political reasons. Their thinking being that the US economy relies upon copious supplies of inexpensive energy – therefore in their eyes, anyone who argues otherwise must be an anti-American ‘watermelon’ – green on the outside and red on the inside. This train of politico-economic thought has now been shown to be flawed and 25 of the world’s top economists believe that the US economy will fare better if actions to reduce emissions are introduced, as compared with business as usual scenarios.
    http://tinyurl.com/3ap7hh
    http://tinyurl.com/5hppww

  22. qjs says:

    For those that wish to learn about climate science, look at what working scientists say.
    The best place to start is:
    Any reputable scientific body – one run by scientists!

    The American Meteorological Society
    http://www.ametsoc.org/amsnews/2007climatechangerelease.pdf
    The American Institute of Physics http://www.aip.org/gov/policy12.html
    The American Geophysical Union
    http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/policy/positions/climate_change2008.shtml
    The American Association for the Advancement of Science
    http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2007/0218am_statement.shtml

    Note these are all American, but there are numerous other eminent scientific organisations. See below:

    THE SCIENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
    A joint statement issued by the Australian Academy of Sciences, Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Royal Irish Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Royal Society (UK).
    The work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents the consensus of the international scientific community on climate change science. We recognise IPCC as the world’s most reliable source of information on climate change and its causes, and we endorse its method of achieving this consensus. Despite increasing consensus on the science underpinning predictions of global climate change, doubts have been expressed recently about the need to mitigate the risks posed by global climate change.
    We do not consider such doubts justified…,
    http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=13619

    The national science academies of the G8 nations and Brazil, China and India, three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world, have signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action and calls on world leaders, including those meeting at the G8 summit at Gleneagles in July 2005, to do the following.
    http://royalsociety.org/trackban.asp?id=1948&pId=1278&url=/document.asp?id=3222
    http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=20742

    Sites that debunk common denialist arguments

    Coby Beck’s How to talk to Global Warming Skeptic http://gristmill.grist.org/skeptics
    New Scientist: Climate Change: A guide for the perplexed http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn11462

    RealClimate: Response to common contrarian arguments
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/index/#Responses

    NERC (UK): Climate change debate summary
    http://www.nerc.ac.uk/about/consult/debate/climatechange/summary.asp

    UK Met Office: Climate Change Myths
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/myths/index.html

    Brian Angliss A Thorough Debunking
    http://scholarsandrogues.wordpress.com/2007/07/23/anti-global-heating-claims-a-reasonably-thorough-debunking/

    John Cross Skeptical Science
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/

    History: Spencer Weart’s “Discovery of Global Warming”
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    The Royal Society has produced this overview of the current state of scientific understanding of climate change to help non-experts better understand some of the debates in this complex area of science. The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science – responds here to eight key arguments that are currently in circulation by setting out, in simple terms, where the weight of scientific evidence lies.
    http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/trackdoc.asp?id=4085&pId=6229

    IPCC
    The IPCC reports themselves:
    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html
    http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/index.htm

    The Economic Argument
    There is evidence that the economic argument is not based upon economically sound reasoning.
    Unsurprisingly, the denial industry funded directly or indirectly by the fossil-fuel industry are aligned with those who deny anthropogenic climate change for political reasons. Their thinking being that the US economy relies upon copious supplies of inexpensive energy – therefore in their eyes, anyone who argues otherwise must be an anti-American ‘watermelon’ – green on the outside and red on the inside. This train of politico-economic thought has now been shown to be flawed and 25 of the world’s top economists believe that the US economy will fare better if actions to reduce emissions are introduced, as compared with business as usual scenarios.
    http://tinyurl.com/3ap7hh
    http://tinyurl.com/5hppww

  23. JoeDuck says:

    😀 Attention 😀

    An excellent discussion here – thanks for all the comments, some of which fell into moderation due to many links. If you comment and it does no appear email me and I’ll be sure to put it up….
    jhunkins@gmail.com

  24. glenn says:

    You want real scientific information…then read this link:
    http://www.middlebury.net/op-ed/global-warming-01.html

    Here is another good source of information:
    http://www.climatescience.org.nz/

    Here is so more info from overseas…
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/05/04/do0405.xml

    This link has an interesting statistic on it:
    http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/05/the-climate-cha.html

  25. JCH says:

    SacrdA – Dyson is a physicist. He wrote a review of two books, one of which was by a Yale economist named Nordhaus. Nordhaus is one of these severely confused individuals who somehow thinks catastrophes have to be bonking you on the head before you do anything. In the next 5 to 10 years he will get it, and he will withdraw almost everything in his book as an Ostrich palavering nonsense. He accepts AGW science, but is very foggy about the damage.

  26. glenn says:

    This is exactly the type of insanity that occurs with hysteria.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,361403,00.html

  27. piglet says:

    “The lack of insight that Dyson notes in the article is expressed well by the sloppy response to Dyson over at RealClimate.org, which betrays the naivete many physical scientists bring to the table in terms of a quality grasp of economics and social policy.”

    You call that response sloppy? And how would you call your little blog here? “Something quickly written up without using my brains”?

    “The key issue with Climate Change is not that it’s happening or that humans play a significant role – the key issue is what we should do about this and how we should carry on the debate.” How about, writing long, incoherent articles in NYRB discussing fantasy scenarios like Dyson’s idea to replant one quarter of the planet with genetically engineered wonder trees? That sounds like a really “insightful” way to carry on the debate. Thank you so much, Freeman Dyson. And we always thought, science was something rigorous.

  28. JoeDuck says:

    piglet I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. You’d say RC never exaggerates the dangers of GW? They present some science well, but then berate other good science (and virtually all economics) unless their conclusions are supported. I see advocacy trumping science over there on a daily basis, especially in the comments, and I think that is a shame. Let’s talk about … science, and use the IPCC as the best measure of likely scenarios rather than making the mistake many have done which is to assume IPCC is too political to have come to reasonable conclusions. There are defects but they are not glaring enough to suggest alternative conclusions, especially with respect to catastrophes.

    My take on RealClimate is that many good climate scientists (and most GW activists), in an effort to spur people to action, tend to exaggerate the possibilities of catastrophe and underestimate the damage we will do to many things if we act recklessly (e.g. spend too much) on mitigation. The folly of Kyoto is a great example – it was a dumb plan and everybody knows that now.

    Dyson’s *main* point was not about the trees. He was reviewing economics work that has reasonably concluded foolish to assume that humans will or even should forego trillions in the hopes of staving off warming for a few years.

    Piglet more “using of brains” would be wonderful in this debate. The contention comes from people selectively looking at the work that supports their views rather than a “brainy” course of action which I suggest is this:

    1) accept IPCC as the benchmark work in the field. It’s a huge body of work that supports AGW, though it does leave a lot of room for error.

    2) Continue to support (or at least stop berating) skeptical research projects since AGW is poorly understood and not at all certain, just very likely. ClimateAudit has some of the best stats analysis relating to AGW studies, yet many in the climate community have branded that blog, and quality scientists like Roger Pielke, as Denialists. In the *spirit of science alone* these views should be heard!

    3) Stop treating climate modelling as some sort of gospel. It’s problematic, *never* predictive to a high degree of accuracy, and plagued by assumptions that change the outputs dramatically. I support modelling as the best measure we have but the notion that models are highly reliable and scientifically robust is unsupportable. I actually didn’t realize this until I started my own research into GW. I was floored to find how a relatively small number of folks with essentially no tolerance for those who don’t share their views have shaped the debate so effectively. AIT was the pinnacle of this success in using exaggerations of (good) IPCC science to suggest catastrophes are looming (they are almost certainly not looming).

  29. piglet says:

    Let me just ask you one question, Joe Duck. Have you any idea, or have you even considered, how much Dyson’s brilliant scheme of replanting one quarter of the world’s forests would cost? Just economically speaking, not even talking about the likely environmental impact of such a vast reengineering project on a planetary scale? And the replanting is only one step, these trees would have to be removed and sequestered (how? where?) all the time to reach the desired result of removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and we haven’t even mentioned the cost of developing these organisms.

    The extent of hypocrisy that is routinely exhibited by anti-environmentalists in these debates is breath-taking. We environmentalists are accused of not understanding economics when we suggest some (by any standards moderate) investments in conservation and renewable energy technology, yet we are supposed to give people like Freeman Dyson a hearing whose fantastic bioengineering project would likely exceed in cost anything suggested by us conservationists? And that is what you call “quality grasp of economics”? Amazingly, nobody among Dyson’s defenders even mentions the question of technical and economic feasability.

    We are supposed to dismiss, or at least be very skeptical about, the conclusions reached and endorsed by the vast majority of climate scientists and at the same time we are to praise as “insightful” the ramblings of a physicist who doesn’t have any expertise in the area, whose opinions on climate change have little scientific credence? To be sure, the majority could end up being wrong and the lone crackpot could end up being right, theoretically speaking. But admit it, the reason why you give credence to this particular crackpot is because he is famous, and because you already happen to agree with him. It is *not* due to his clever arguments (which he doesn’t offer).

    Likewise, NYRB published this substandard article (which is hardly concerned with reviewing books at all) merely because Dyson is famous, not becaude of the quality of his writing. This is a sad reflection on the sad state of affairs in the anti-enviromentalist camp.

  30. piglet says:

    “Dyson’s *main* point was not about the trees. He was reviewing economics work that has reasonably concluded foolish to assume that humans will or even should forego trillions in the hopes of staving off warming for a few years.”

    Point one: how credible is the economic analysis of somebody who suggests massively reengeneering the biosphere as a “low cost” solution to GW? Admit it, no sane economic analysis would be likely to support such a project. Economic credibility: zero.

    Point two: you are exhibiting the same hypocritical standards I mentioned above when you cite “economics work” based on models full of uncertainties as adequate policy guidelines while at the same time insisting to “stop treating climate modelling as some sort of gospel”. The economic models referred to by anti-environmentalists are “problematic, *never* predictive to a high degree of accuracy, and plagued by assumptions that change the outputs dramatically”.

    The debate would be way more productive if we could agree to stop treating any scientists, including both economists and Freeman Dyson, as infallible authorities.

  31. JCH says:

    RC is the scientist contributors listed on the right side of their website- Schmidt, Archer, Raypierre, Mann, etc. The people who make comments, Ray , Hank, etc, are not RC.

    I would like to see an example of where you think RC contributors exaggerate the potential catastrophe. They are actually quite measured.

    What I think you have bought into, just a tad too far, is the hype with which certain people have sold the low side of the risk.

    So again, what PPM of CO2 in the atmosphere is JoeDuck willing to tolerate? How meters of sea level rise are you going tolerate? You claim other people exaggerate the risk. It’s time for you to come clean about how far you are willing to let this slide down the side of the hill.

  32. JoeDuck says:

    Dear piglet, (do we want/dare to know where that alias comes from ?)

    RE: Dyson C02 Tree cost. A great question, not sure but probably much cheaper than many other mitigation schemes. If I get a bit of time I will look into this, because you are correct that it’s a very important question. Over at RC there was some talk about chestnut trees though I got the idea they were more labor intensive. Here in Oregon tree planting on a massive scale is common so I should have access to some experts if needed.

    RE: Stop treating people as infallible authorities. Agree with you totally, and it’s an excellent point. We should all be doing the math ourselves because it’s not all that hard and there is a lot at stake.

    RE: DICE defects. Not hypocritical. Read what I wrote about accepting IPCC projections (which use climate modelling up the wazoo). I’m asking *you* and other climate folks to stop the hypocrisy of accepting the IPCC projections as you should, but then rejecting most mainstream economic projections and analysis based on IPCC modelling combined with cost and benefit analysis. Generally (though there are exceptions such as Stern), these suggest only modest mitigation efforts at first, perhaps more in the future.

  33. glenn says:

    The following is summarized from Jim Peden a former Atmospheric Physicist. He uses real science but explains it in a way everyone can understand and with concrete examples.

    Summary – Exactly what have we learned here?

    1. The “Greenhouse Effect” is a natural and valuable phenomenon, without which, the planet would be uninhabitable.

    2. Modest Global Warming, at least up until 1998 when a cooling trend began, has been real.

    3. CO2 is not a significant greenhouse gas; 95% of the contribution is due to Water Vapor.

    4. Man’s contribution to Greenhouse Gasses is relatively insignificant. We didn’t cause the recent Global Warming and we cannot stop it.

    5. Solar Activity appears to be the principal driver for Climate Change, accompanied by complex ocean currents which distribute the heat and control local weather systems.

    6. CO2 is a useful trace gas in the atmosphere, and the planet would actually benefit by having more, not less of it, because it is not a driver for Global Warming and would enrich our vegetation, yielding better crops to feed the expanding population.

    7. CO2 is not causing global warming, in fact, CO2 is lagging temperature change in all reliable datasets. The cart is not pulling the donkey, and the future cannot influence the past.

    8. Nothing happening in the climate today is particularly unusual, and in fact has happened many times in the past and will likely happen again in the future.

    9. The UN IPCC has corrupted the “reporting process” so badly, it makes the oil-for-food scandal look like someone stole some kid’s lunch money. They do not follow the Scientific Method, and modify the science as needed to fit their predetermined conclusions. In empirical science, one does NOT write the conclusion first, then solicit “opinion” on the report, ignoring any opinion which does not fit their predetermined conclusion while falsifying data to support unrealistic models.

    10. Polar Bear populations are not endangered, in fact current populations are healthy and at almost historic highs. The push to list them as endangered is an effort to gain political control of their habitat… particularly the North Slope oil fields.

    11. There is no demonstrated causal relationship between hurricanes and/or tornadoes and global warming. This is sheer conjecture totally unsupported by any material science.

    12. Observed glacial retreats in certain select areas have been going on for hundreds of years, and show no serious correlation to short-term swings in global temperatures.

    13. Greenland is shown to be an island completely surrounded by water, not ice, in maps dating to the 14th century. There is active geothermal activity in the currently “melting” sections of Greenland.

    14. The Antarctic Ice cover is currently the largest ever observed by satellite, and periodic ice shelf breakups are normal and correlate well with localized tectonic and geothermal activity along the Antarctic Peninsula.

    15. The Global Warming Panic was triggered by an artifact of poor mathematics which has been thoroughly disproved. The panic is being deliberately nurtured by those who stand to gain both financially and politically from perpetuation of the hoax.

    16. Scientists who “deny” the hoax are often threatened with loss of funding or even their jobs.

    17. The correlation between solar activity and climate is now so strong that solar physicists are now seriously discussing the much greater danger of pending global cooling.

    18. Biofuel hysteria is already having a disastrous effect on world food supplies and prices, and current technologies for biofuel production consume more energy than the fuels produce.

    19. Global Warming Hysteria is potentially linked to a stress-induced mental disorder.

    20. In short, there is no “climate crisis” of any kind at work on our planet.

    You can read the entire article here:
    http://www.middlebury.net/op-ed/global-warming-01.html

  34. JoeDuck says:

    JCH – I agree that the commenters are not blog authors, but at RC they form something of a community. In fact I think Ray Ladbury is the sheriff and he sure acts like he has a BIG gun! I would say the only flagrant abuses come from commenters over there who tend to disparage anyone who departs from what I believe is a “sky is falling” party line.

    But the band of RC brothers take a lot of liberties when it is not their specific field of expertise (where I think they discuss things well as do most scientists, GBH98 issues aside).

    The best example of RC’s fall from reason was probably the defense of some of the absurd exaggerations in the film AIT, *none* of which were labelled as faulty by *any* of the RC guys:

    The most absurd was the idea that people have been evacuated from Tuvalu. They have not. That was just dumb, yet defended by RC as a matter of using the wrong tense.
    [my brain just vomited]

    AITs pictures and clear implication that Katrina is a good example of GW effects was also well beyond teh pale of reason unless you think a few extra MPH that you could conceivably attribute to GW is “significant”, or you discount Chris Landsea’s excellent analysis of Hurricanes and GW, or you are a nutcase. The science is now fairly clear on this connection and blaming GW for Katrina is, in a word, ignorant.

    Lake Chad pictures were also outrageous because the main thing going on there relates to irrigation and local climatic conditions that are now actually modelled in some studies (though not all I think) to *cause more rainfall* from GW effects (!). I traded emails with the author of the key (only?) extensive study of the Lake Chad basin to confirm that I was correctly assessing the situation there. In the interests of total objectivity here I do agree that you can make a case (weak one) that because global climatic variability plays a role in Sahel conditions that GW plays a role in Chad’s demise, but this begs the obvious suggestion in AIT that GW is drying up the lakes.

    AIT was designed to spur action rather than scientifically inform, and defense of it as a science film is not rational. RC’s decision to make that defense suggested to me they had to some extent abandoned science in favor of what they saw as essential advocacy in the face of liklely pending global catastrophe.

    As Dyson notes, many people are taking on climate hype as a new religion. I see an alarming number of scientists who don’t participate directly in the hype but support it by not challenging the nonsense such as the exaggerated concerns of AIT.

    ——–
    In terms of tolerance of CO2 and Sea Level rises my answer is basically that I’m very tolerant of the current situation (ie likely temperature incrase of about 3 degrees in next 100 years and sea level rise of this much per year: | or about 3 or 4 feet in the next century. There will be plenty of time to adjust to these tiny numbers. Catastrophe is already *here* in Africa where millions die annually from AIDS, Malaria, Intestinal disease. I’d fix that *first*, then talk about foregoing extra trillions *today* to delay the 3 degree rise from year 2100 to year 2101.

    I see no catastrophes looming (based on even the highest IPCC projections for Temp and Sea Level rises). I do agree that if Greenland melts we could be in for some major shit, but this appears very unlikely and I’d certainly want far more data before we start acting based on that assumption.

    I should note that I realize my interpretations here could be very wrong. If Stern’s approach is right, most economists are wrong and so am I – we should be mitigating the heck out of things effective ASAP. Also, if Hansen’s suggestions that catastrophic melting is likely just around the corner are correct then I’m very wrong (along with most climate scientists).

    But I’m a guy that accepts mainstream climate science *and* mainstream economic science, which together suggest a simple and cost effective approach:

    Moderate efforts at C02 mitigation with a powerful focus on potential low cost solutions.

    Why does this piss off so many people, especially the legions of alarmists who keep on trucking with the high carbon lifestyle? My footprint is small, but I don’t flatter myself that it matters. China’s matters (as I choked down for myself in Beijing last month), and we can’t do much if anything about that.

    So, don’t worry, be happy, and buy stock in expensive mitigation solutions because even though I’m probably right you are *totally* winning the hype war, and we’ll be squandering billions on crazy assed mitigation stuff for decades to come.

    Also take some comfort from the revolution in computing that should present us with very cheap solutions to CO2 mitigation within about a decade. I find it ironic that supercomputer modelling is held so dear in the GW alarmist community while technological optimism is held in such contempt. Now *that’s* hypocrisy!

  35. JoeDuck says:

    OMG I got tangled up over at RealClimate again. Many good thinkers over there but the moderation messes up the flow. Here was an answer to Ray over there explaining some of my POV on risk:

    Ray:
    add the fact that we know natural ghg emissions will kick in, swamp the anthropogenic emissions and rip away whatever control we could exercise, then we have a very strong case for very vigorous action NOW …

    I’m missing something here – is the natural CO2 swamping effect you are talking about outside of what is projected by the most recent IPCC scenarios?

    In terms of unbounded risks I think we agree on the general approach (well, perhaps not if you agree with Stern on discounting), but we most certainly disagree about the likelihood of super costly high temperature scenarios. Simply put if I believed, for example, that there was a 20% or greater chance of GW caused global catastrophe by 2100 then I’d agree we should be mitigating the heck out of things almost regardless of the cost. But I believe IPCC’s projections are realistic and should be our guide to the likely scenarios, and that leads me to agree with most mainstream economists that optimal outcome is from a low to moderate mitigation effort.

  36. glenn says:

    Current estimate would burden our economy with an additional $6 trillion in new costs to support the current Senate bill that would require dramatic cuts in climate-changing greenhouse pollution.

    Seriously people do we really want to hurt our economy that badly over something that hasn’t even been proven yet!

    This will end up being Al Gore’s WMD…

  37. piglet says:

    Let me just reiterate one point that I’m taking from this exchange (and that’s my last post). I always find it striking how readily environmentalists are accused of economic naivité. What is it that we suggest, that (according to received wisdom) is so outlandish? Well, putting insulation in homes. More energy efficient appliances and cars. Investing in efficient public transport. Investing in basic research to promote conservation and energy alternatives. Measures like that may not, on their own, be sufficient to solve GW but they would go a long way, and they are available now. They do require some effort and they do cost some money but to say they are unaffordable, out of reach, they would destroy our standard of living? Nonsense.

    Now enter some genius, let’s say Freeman Dyson, suggesting a major global reengineering effort using some yet to develop magical technology. He doesn’t present any scientific data as to the validity of his idea, no feasibility study, no economic study, no environmental impact study. Nothing, just an idea that appears crazy by any standards, and you know what? People like this guy and his supporters get to accuse *us*, environmentalists, of being naive and economically illiterate. Dyson gets support for his outlandish idea from people who think that tried and proven concepts like insulating homes and public transport are outlandish, too expensive, unaffordable? Excuse me!

    There’s another twist to this story. Let’s assume, for a moment, that Dyson’s idea would in fact work, that it is feasible, that it wouldn’t have major negative effects (an assumption that you’d have to be completely out of your mind to find plausible), and even that it would be affordable. So we’d pay a probably huge amount of money, make a huge effort, but it would save the world. Great. The downside is, that money would be spent once and lost forever, it wouldn’t create anything useful, like infrastructure or technology that future generations would profit from. The balance sheet is, economically speaking, negative.

    The conservation and alternative energy efforts that we “naive” environemntalists suggest, on the other hand, would create lasting infrastructure improvements and help solve a problem that we need to face in any case even if GW were not a problem, namely how to satisfy our and future generations’ energy needs (a problem that Dyson’s scheme wouldn’t address at all). The balance sheet looks much better. In fact many of these measures, especially conservation, would pay for themselves in the long run. They would create jobs and infrastructure and would also save energy money. Where’s the downside? There isn’t any, really. Not even economically!

    Yet, in the economic models that you (and Dyson) are relying on, these measures are treated as losses. “forego trillions” is how you put it. Something here doesn’t add up. It is rubbish to treat investments in the future as losses. With economic models like that, you end up concluding that any dollar not spent on IPods, clothes and parties is a lost dollar. And that’s what they call economic wisdom these days.

  38. horatiox says:

    What’s amazing is how some in the Church of Gore (like Sac. A) seem to have forgotten how to read. Dyson IS a physicist (and thus scientist). Other physicists and atmospheric scientists have questioned the claims of the IPCC and the AGW hypothesis. Here’s one for the Gorean faithful to read:

    http://www.john-daly.com//forcing/hug-barrett.htm

    (they probably eat red meat tho’, and may not even be…democrats). See also McIntyre, Cockburn’s references, Rancourt, etc–RANCOURT especially, points out the problems with collecting temp. data, and correlating that with the slight increases in man-made CO2. I never said Cockburn was a scientist, either, but he is an investigative reporter, and compiled an impressive list of resources (including Rancourt). There are some scientists who argue that global temps have not even risen significantly (as Crichton pointed out years ago. Oops, he wasn’t peer-reviewed. But the dozens of articles he linked to in “State of Fear” were). Yet data, like, implies stats, margin of error, sampling problems. That’s no fun for those in Gore-land.

    The AGW people consistenly attempt to portray themselves as the Authori-tays, and create the appearance of consensus, when there is none. The consensus exists only among the modellers and IPCC people–not among the atmospheric scientists .

    Except to Sacred-A,

  39. JoeDuck says:

    Piglet I’d argue that the main concern of economists is that we want to start the search for solutions making objective, “apple to apple” comparisons that take all issues into account. You’re saying that mitigation will create jobs (true) and infrastructure (true) and therefore has no downside (huh?). There are downsides to pretty much everything, most importantly what we lose by *not doing alternatives*. Military spending is the best example of squandered resources, though advocates make the same sort of arguments I see over at RC – basically that failing to spend on military (or climate) will doom the world to destruction. The world is resilient place, and I’m just aking for us to approach spending on the world in non-emotional, non-political ways – looking at all the options and making a rational choice.

    Nordhaus is doing that, most others are not.

  40. piglet says:

    Ok, this is my really last post, promised.

    “I’d argue that the main concern of economists is that we want to start the search for solutions making objective, “apple to apple” comparisons that take all issues into account.”

    You are kidding. That’s perhaps the most off-reality remark that I have read in this debate. Where do mainstream economists take “take all issues into account”? Most of them economists haven’t even ever heard of externalities, and they don’t take into account issues like resource depletion and environmental degradation, both of which should be booked as losses on the national balance sheet by any commen sense understanding of economy, yet this is never done in the realm of mainstream economics. Never, ever. Just doesn’t cross the minds of these geniuses.

    I’m sorry, I started thinking there was a point to this debate but apparently there is not. Throwing around banalitites like “there are downsides to everything” in response to my pretty comprehensive discussion above makes you only look stupid.

    And I didn’t say “mitigation has no downside”. What I said is that conservation pays for itself, therefore claims that we can’t afford it are nonsensical. Yet they are constantly being made.

  41. glenn says:

    Piglet,

    Your response absolutely makes no sense. Economists most definitely look at many more details than you give them credit for.

    You and SA result to insults in your posts and it really just takes away from anything useful you might have to say.

    Joe’s comments are certainly not off-reality.

    The alarmist view of climate change is way off-base and there is plenty of good science that backs that up.

    Meanwhile our politicians actually sit around and waste time discussing a bill that would certainly tank our economy the rest of the way all for something that might happen in 100 years. It just doesn’t make any sense to spends trillions of dollars this way – it is pure lunacy.

    If we started now…I think it would be pretty safe to say that technology would be developed within 100 years to combat the issues with significant climate change. Within 100 years we should even be able to terraform barren planets.

    We need vision and unifying mandates to switch to better fuel sources and eliminate our dependence on oil. That should be done with a mandate not legislation. Can you image what would have happened if we introduced a law back in the ’60 stating we would to the moon? We still wouldn’t be anywhere.

    SA you have claimed there is no science however there is plenty of science you just have to open your eyes to an opposing viewpoint. If you want to really look at real science that disproves the current alarmist view on climate change you can get it from here:
    http://www.middlebury.net/nicol-08.doc

    John Nicol’s research is spot on.

  42. Pooh says:

    Economists do not “take all issues into account”, ask one and they will readily concede that. By principle, they can only take into account what they can assign a dollar value to, and in practice, they actually look only at a very limited subset of even these purely “economic” factors. This is a very old hat, really. Environmental economists like Costanza have started assigning dollar values to ecosystems just so that they can be included in economic analysis but this is not an approach widely endorsed (let alone used) by mainstream economists. The concept of external cost has been around for a long time, meaning that economic activities often generate external costs (e.g. the cost of health damage caused by pollution) that are not reflected in the market prices concerned. It is known to at least some economists that externalities cause inefficiency if they are not internalized by price mechanisms but again this is not part of mainstream economics. Mainstream economics just takes the approach of ignoring all these issues.

    You guys, glenn and Duck, do not sound like you know what you are talking about when you frequently invoke economics. You shouldn’t complain about getting harsh responses to your ignorant remarks. Sorry. Just susing the “E” word doesn’t make you smart.

  43. horatiox says:

    Actually economic concerns more than science provided much of the impetus for the AGW and AIT hysteria, we would contend. Reverend Gore was speaking for, dare we say, successful American suburbanites everywhere who want to keep their eco-tours cute, cuddly, and green, with boo-coo hydration. Rising tides in Copenhagen, melting Himalayan or Alpine glaciers, dead polar bears, heat waves in Seattle: all bad for bidness. That has little or nothing to do with the technical issues (like determining whether any of the median temp. readings across the globe (not just Copenhagen harbor) are even accurate, and/or cause for alarm)

  44. glenn says:

    Pooh,

    You and Piglet live in the 100 acre wood remember…that is th e only world you know. Seriously you guys continue to make generalizations or insults as a way to discredit an opposing view – that is the way of a political campaign – discredit and personal attacks.

    It is people like you who are continuing to politicize this issue. Have you read the hard scientific facts and analysis in John Nicol’s research yet?

    Where are your counter-points to the real data there?

  45. JoeDuck says:

    Yo Mr. Pooh –

    So, if we don’t use any economic modelling to figure out how to handle CO2 what do you suggest we use instead? My greatest frustration in the climate debate is that those claiming to want massive mitigation don’t offer much in the way of an action plan. Kyoto was a very poor plan, as many like Lomborg said at the time (and were widely disparaged for doing so). Everybody (with an attention span) now understands Kyoto was a poor approach though advocates rarely acknowledge how foolish they were to support Kyoto. You can use Stern’s (economic) analysis and argue for huge and massive mitigation, but since you seem to feel economics offers no respectable answers what do you suggest we do?

    First, note that this whole debate was spawned by a review of a book by economist Nordhaus which used a model called DICE to look at global effects from various CO2 emissions scenarios. I am *not* an economist or climate scientist which is why I count on them to give me info so I can make informed decisions, which I believe we all can make with basic common sense + basic science. I do have an MS, but this is hardly required to interpret good research and/or bad conclusions. In fact what I see happening in Climate science is that the climate scientists are for the most part doing good science and (correctly) predicting warming and (probably correctly) assigning most of that warming to humans and (very foolishly) then suggesting we should forego trillions and trillions of dollars trying to slow down the warming. Economists do a better job than you think of factoring externalities into the equation. Read Dyson’s review of Nordhaus to understand the basic approaches, which are certainly flawed but are IMHO the best way to determine how to proceed. Too many people simply want to fret over CO2 and rant against skeptics rather than start creating action plans.

  46. glenn says:

    This is our future…

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/366025_bonfire06.html?source=mypi

    More and more things taken away because of the alarmists!

  47. JCH says:

    i don’t think the IEA mentions banning beach bonfires, but they have trillions of other alarming things they want to talk about:

    http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hfpZd7sSjQH6m99E7NkvDYVL-ywg

  48. glenn says:

    Has anyone taken a minute to think…what if we are heading toward global cooling instead of global warming?

    http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=93380&catid=188

    Would be making radical changes to stop global warming only to ensure we end up in an ice age?

    What if these guys have it wrong?

    You can review the NASA reports and it shows we are either heading to warming or cooling…

  49. glenn says:

    Just another example why people would ever question the motives of the UN:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,365676,00.html

    As soon as the UN got behind global warming it lost a lot of credibility.

    The UN has to be the most corrupt organization on the planet!!!

  50. JoeDuck says:

    Glenn I just took a look at the actual report and although I just skimmed it it seems clear that FOX dramatically misrepresented the conclusions. The report appears to suggest things were basically along the normal bureaucratically incompetent lines of UN activity with no smoking guns.

    I’d agree with FOX that the UN is compromised in most ways but it is not reasonable for FOX, a severely compromised news organization themselves because they so severely spin their commentary conservatively, to misrepresent the report in that fashion.

  51. glenn says:

    Let me guess Joe you think CNN is not compromised?

    🙂

  52. JoeDuck says:

    Glenn surely you don’t think offer the same type of news bias? Not even close. I think CNN is generally OK though they do have people like Lou Dobbs who is starting to sound whacky and out of control, though hardly as a liberal. Unlike CNN or NBC or CBS where basic journalism usually trumps spin, FOX is stragically biased to a mainstream Republican agenda. That was part of the design because they felt mainstream was liberally biased – somewhat true but this is not even *remotely* the same issue as Fox bias. Who would be the liberal counterpart for Laura Ingraham or Sean Hannity at CNN, not to mention the FOX regulars who almost to a person lean right on issues. Even Alan Colmes presents a moderate view on topics that are almost all hand picked to make a strong conservative case.
    I watch FOX a lot because I think it’s more entertaining than CNN, and note I’m also a lot more conservative about spending than anybody on Fox will ever be because of my views on the totally excessive porkbarrel and bureaucrat waste in the military.

    I’m also in the camp that argues the big problem for all TV news is *omission* rather than bias. American reporters are, on average, more liberal than average Americans and this to some extent colors the coverage. But with FOX it is a lot more strategic in terms of bias. I think they still have a Roger Ayles talking points issued every day to help determine the spin, which almost always favors a very conservative agenda. Fox is unapologetic about this in fact, but I’d argue that when you mix nationalism and journalism you start to get things that sound like the same creepy nonsense of news in totalitarian societies – where you have your scapegoats and your heroes and the journalist are spinning the stories to support the narrow views.

  53. glenn says:

    There is no such thing as an unbiased media outlet. That is one of the major problems with democracy. The vote is literally influenced by the agendas of the media outlets.

    Thank goodness there are a few opposing outlets to counter the massive wave of liberal media.

    I feel like we are constantly getting ripped off from the media. It would be nice if someone would just try to report the truth.

    It is almost impossible to make any sound decision based on media reports – that is a sad statement about our country.

    As far as CNN goes directly – I personally could never support any organization that has anything to do with Ted Turner. This is a man who wants to limit how many children a family could have – he went as far as saying if he could kill his own children he would – he called the terrorists of 9/11 brave – heck he was even married to Jane Fonda – now if that isn’t a hat-trick of being anti-American!

    Oh yeah…he also donated a lot of money to the UN – what a shocker!

    There are many people in this country like Ted Turner that truly want to see America fail.

    So to choose between Ted Turner or Rupert Murdoch – I would choose Rupert any day – he is more American than Ted and he even lives in Australia.

  54. JoeDuck says:

    But it’s not a choice – Turner has no editorial say at CNN. Murdoch is mostly hands off, but Roger Ayles is very proactive about running his news.

  55. JCH says:

    It’s entirely possible the CIA encouraged the cash payoffs so they could place personnel in NK. You’ll find out in around 50 years.

  56. glenn says:

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brent-baker/2008/04/02/turner-iraqi-insurgents-patriots-inaction-warming-cannibalism

    All you have to do is watch, listen or read Turner’s interviews and clearly see one of these kids doesn’t belong to the others.

    Anyone with his warped perspective should not be in a position to influence our media. This guy is clearly off his rocker.

    JCH – I am pretty confident that we have plenty of access to NK and don’t need to be pushing for cash payouts from the UN to get them there. Look at the Oil for food scandal – absolute corruption all the way to the top at the UN and his son too. What did they do about it? Nothing…

  57. JCH says:

    Actually, the CIA has used the UN to plant people many many times. You’re acting like a few million is a lot of money. To get somebody inside, that’s cheap.

  58. JoeDuck says:

    CIA Help Wanted Ad:
    North Korean Nuclear Mole
    1,000,000 Month
    No Life Insurance

  59. JCH says:

    Where did I say the mole gets the money? The money bribes convinces the target officials to let the mole inside. Does the US have a diplomatic contingent in North Korea? How else can the CIA get somebody inside?

    As this story develops you are likely to see repeats of many of the lies and distortions that got us into Iraq. Already there is talk of dual-use materials. The neocons are one-trick ponies, and they’re not even good at their one trick.

  60. glenn says:

    http://www.americanprogressaction.org/progressreport

    this is so more of the global warming insanity…

  61. JoeDuck says:

    JCH I’m not suggesting there is no clandestine activity wrt North Korea – on the contrary. Hey, I saw Syriana.

  62. glenn says:

    The following is a must read for all those interested in the man-made global warming topic. This is from the founder of the Weather Channel.

    http://www.kusi.com/weather/colemanscorner/19842304.html

    BTW: On May 20th over 21,000 scientists (9,000 are Ph.ds) signed on to a list that refutes global warming.

    That is compared to the 500 scientists who have issued public statements about global warming and the 2,500 scientists on the UN panel.

    It is amazing how a liberal like Al Gore can try to pull off the biggest scam in the history of the earth.

    How can 21,000 scientists be wrong and a few thousand be right?

    ScaredAmoeba where are your comments about science now?

  63. glenn says:

    What is most disturbing is the correlation now being made to the price of oil/gas in conjunction to the mass hype of global warming.

    How would everyone feel if this artificial inflation of oil resulting in these gas prices which is helping destroy our economy is a result of this global warming scam?

  64. regeya says:

    “Let me just reiterate one point that I’m taking from this exchange (and that’s my last post). I always find it striking how readily environmentalists are accused of economic naivité.”

    Naivité or ignorance? I’m going with the latter, when the AGW proponents mistake a theoretical physicist for an economist…

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