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Kicking the Climate Can:

It is now official. The Bush Administration will not take any action to regulate greenhouse gases before 2009. Instead it is punting the issue to the next Administration. The WaPo reports here.

Snarky:
Sounds good to me.
7.11.2008 9:02am
zieggenfus (mail):
I believe this is a wise move, given the current state of the science behind global warming. It might be better to invest in a little more greenhouse gas research before committing to any major projects with the potentials to have such a negative impact on our economy.
7.11.2008 9:07am
FantasiaWHT:
I'm actually pleasantly surprised (one of the benefits of being a pessimist). Bush had shown every sign he was willing to roll over to the alarmists.
7.11.2008 9:08am
Snarky:
As a liberal, I am even more pleased than conservatives.

As long as Bush does nothing, there will be plenty of room on the agenda for Democrats to do something big after the election.

What we don't need are half-reforms by Bush taking the steam out of efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.
7.11.2008 9:18am
A.W. (mail):
So, you want us to wreck the economy to protect us from global warming.

Gee, I thought most people on this site were AGAINST faith-based legislation.

Certainly basic libertarians doctrine says that if you don't actually know there is a problem, the government is not justified in limiting your freedom to "solve" it.
7.11.2008 9:22am
Al Maviva:
We need radical change now! Retool the economy! Etc...

Utopian thinkers scare the crap out of me. Radical change forced by the government has a fairly bad track record. On the other hand, it's good to see the utopianists finally have a candidate in the presidential election, what with the succession of realists they've had to deal with for the last few decades. It must have been tough on them, and for people who really, really mean well, political disappointment is something that weighs really heavily on them and it's kind of sad to see their suffering.
7.11.2008 9:52am
Sarcastro (www):
There are only 2 choices: Do nothing about this issue OR destroy America. No middle ground!

Luckily, this isn't choice we need to make. There's not a problem with global warming, there's a problem with scientists. They're all Liberal partisans who can't even pretend to be objective by never reaching a conclusion on climate change.
7.11.2008 9:58am
Ben Franklin (mail):
How can this be called "kicking the can down the road" when there is no can?
7.11.2008 10:11am
Houston Lawyer:
Even if global warming is man made, the proposed solutions won't make a material difference. They are the equivalent of throwing virgins into a volcano. Of course, some people like to see the virgins burn.
7.11.2008 10:12am
Sarcastro (www):
Houston Lawyer has a great point! Global Warming is kinda like Cthullu. When Climate Change awakes to devour us all, there is no hope.

Yep, America has tried doing the impossible for a while, why not try something new, like giving up without trying?
7.11.2008 10:30am
kidblue:
zieggenfus: Given the sheer quantity of research on global warming, I wouldn't say an op-ed from 1997 really says much about "the current state of the science behind global warming."

I say this putting aside any problems the op-ed had given the science available at the time it was written.
7.11.2008 10:48am
Randy R. (mail):
"Gee, I thought most people on this site were AGAINST faith-based legislation. "

One of the reasons people continue to think that 'more research' is needed, and that global warming isn't occuring is because this administration consistently eliminates any language from the gov't that supports that contention. Just this week, it turns out that Cheney's office deleted language from the EPA about climate change.

Now, perhaps Cheney is more of a scientist than the gov't's own scientists who study this for a living, but I highly doubt it. If you folks are so certain that climate change is a hoax, then why the need to delete contrary evidence, even when backed up by science?

What we have here is that official reports from the gov't are censored to conform to a political ideology, and then those reports are offered as 'proof' of the reality. What a great hall of mirrors you folks have created for yourselves....
7.11.2008 10:48am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Radical change forced by the government has a fairly bad track record.

Yeah, like defeating the Axis in WWII, the space program, the interstate highway system, waste and drinking water treatment and the eradication of smallpox (and nearly eliminating myriad other diseases).

The government never does anything good.
7.11.2008 10:50am
G.R.:
zieggenfus's old article is copyrighted by Dow Jones, but I'm sure its not partisan.

Funny how people who know so little about an issue have such strong opinions on it. I'd love to see them post on a blog run by climate scientists - how far would the platitudes and catchphrases get in that conversation?
7.11.2008 11:49am
Anon21:
Anthropogenic climate change denial is about as reasonable as subscribing to creationist "science." I'm really surprised that the former is so much more fashionable than the latter in certain quarters.
7.11.2008 11:55am
zieggenfus (mail):

kidblue:
zieggenfus: Given the sheer quantity of research on global warming, I wouldn't say an op-ed from 1997 really says much about "the current state of the science behind global warming."

I say this putting aside any problems the op-ed had given the science available at the time it was written.


The scientific consensus from those who's studies actually involve weather patterns and climate change - past, present and future - appears be somewhere in between 'We don't know' (more accurately, 'we have hypothesis but can not yet produce an accurate model nor make accurate predictions.') and 'various interactions of Earth's orbit and wobble, continental shift and atmospheric conditions'. That's an excellent way of saying we need more research.

Rather than launch the nation into some ill conceived plan requiring significant reductions in all manner of economic activity so that we might affect a negligible component of one of the possible causes of climate change, I'd far rather see more money invested in research. Having said that, when we look at the minor contributions man has made to the sum total of greenhouse gasses, I believe we'll find that the big glowing ball near the center of our solar system has quite a bit more influence than any activity currently under serious consideration.

I'm still an advocate for more research, but in the hope that we'll find a way to avoid or stave off what has been our geological norm.
7.11.2008 11:57am
zieggenfus (mail):

zieggenfus

I'm still an advocate for more research, but in the hope that we'll find a way to avoid or stave off what has been our geological norm.


I suppose I should add that I do not consider the above to be of immediate concern, even though some current research (there's that word again) shows possible indications that when/if such cooling does take place, it could be quite abrupt.
7.11.2008 12:07pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"There are only 2 choices: Do nothing about this issue OR destroy America. No middle ground!

Luckily, this isn't choice we need to make..."


No, I suppose we could merely *damage* America for no good reason. I'm not so sure that this is the kind of middle ground I would want to cling to, though.
7.11.2008 12:15pm
Dick King:
I will believe that Al Gore, for example, really believes the apocalyptic predictions of his movie, the companion book [completely without footnotes and sources, BTW: check it out from your local library and see for yourself], and his slide show when he clearly and unambiguously calls for the expansion of nuclear power in this country, rather than letting his anti-nuclear statements in his book Earth in the Balance stand.

Clearly several hundred nuclear plants can't do damage matching the positive effects of the CO2 they don't emit.

-dk
7.11.2008 12:21pm
genob:

Even if global warming is man made, the proposed solutions won't make a material difference. They are the equivalent of throwing virgins into a volcano. Of course, some people like to see the virgins burn



This actually nails it pretty well. Take it from the high priest himself, Al Gore. He says unless we cut carbon emissions worldwide by 90%, we are going to reach the "tipping point" and disaster is coming....Well, face facts. There is no way the world is cutting 90%, 50% or anything approaching what the alarmists all claim is necessary to prevent all the horrible consequences.

So if you believe Al Gore (and why wouldn't you?) then you must conclude that our money is much better spent on addressing the inevitable consequences of global warming, like relocating people from the coasts, developing reserviors and dams for newly drought stricken regions, cultivating newly fertile regions of the world, etc.

If I lived in Phoenix Arizona, and the weatherman tells me that the sun is coming up tomorrow and it's going to make it really hot, do I spend my money on trying to find a way to stop prevent the sun from coming up, or do I spend my money to buy a fan?
7.11.2008 12:24pm
wfjag:
No, Randy, I'm not relying on the opinions of the V.P. I find more persuasive that AWG is a crock the opinion of Prof. Lindzen of MIT (along with a lot of others with similar qualifications and experience).

kidblue: While you are correct that more is known now than in 1997 -- like that the warmest year in the 20th Century was about 1934, that the 1990's weren't the warmest decade, that Woods Hole discovered that there was a massive volcanic eruption of the Artic Sea bed in 1999 (and that likely has a lot to do with observed melting of Artic Ice), and that to create the infamous "Hockey Stick" graph, Mann used fudged data and although the UN IPCC bought into the Hockey Stick hook, line and sinker, it later dropped reference to it, without comment -- there is plenty of other info out there. But, you have to go looking for it, since it isn't reported by the "news media." Try looking at http://z4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/
then check under The Sciences link and look for articles, videos, etc. on "Global Warming"; and www.junkscience.com/ and link to the articles there (warning, it's updated daily and sometimes includes articles by well-respected climatologists -- so you may have to learn some science to understand them). These are a couple of places to get started.
7.11.2008 12:26pm
Deoxy (mail):

Anthropogenic climate change denial is about as reasonable as subscribing to creationist "science."


Well, considering that global temperatures have been steady or declinging for a decade now (among other fairly apparent things, some mentioned wfjag, above), I take it that you are a creationist?

Here's an interesting link for you: Is the earth getting warmer, or cooler?

That talks about where we actually get our global temperature data. Summary: there are 4 sources that are considered authoritative, and three of them agree on the flat-to-downward trend in global temperature for the last 10 years. The other is run by "Dr. James Hansen - Al Gore's science advisor and the world's leading long-term advocate of global warming", and that data has been "refined" since 1998 to conveniently make it look like global warming is still going strong.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions, though I suspect you will probably ignore any actual DATA in favor of your own predetermined beliefs.

As long as Bush does nothing, there will be plenty of room on the agenda for Democrats to do something big after the election.

What we don't need are half-reforms by Bush taking the steam out of efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.


That's the only reason I would want Bush to take any action at all. But hopefully, we can get the next President (whoever he is) to do nothing about it as well.
7.11.2008 12:45pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Ben Franklin:

How can this be called "kicking the can down the road" when there is no can?

In politics, there's always a can.
7.11.2008 12:46pm
G.R.:
genob

Your post highlights a common conception of what 'global warming' will be: rising water and hot sun. Surely that can't be all bad, right?

The problem is that the words 'global warming' don't convey what is happening: insect specious that normally hibernate over winter now don't, causing infestation problems. Invasive bacteria develop that we have have antibiotics for.

Climate change means much more than the words 'global warming' imply. Wouldn't it be better to listen to experts on this, rather than listening to a bunch of people with political science degrees who actually have no idea what they are talking about? Its like listening to a biologist trying to argue about constitutional law - laughable.
7.11.2008 12:56pm
Layedback (mail):
It's an Issue?
7.11.2008 1:07pm
genob:
That's not my conception at all. It may truly be all bad. That's not the point.

Listen to the experts...they say that dramatic (beyond the reasonably possible) steps must be taken to curb carbon emmissions on the order of 70-90% reductions from today's levels in the next 10 years or so in order to avoid the "tipping point" and all the horrible consequences. (like the insect infestations and bacteria, rising water, drought, floods, hurricanes and whatever else is in the parade of horribles. Give me your worst.)

So instead of "feeling good" about imposing painful 10% or 20% carbon emission reductions that will, according the experts, have zero to negligible impact on avoiding the consequences (at least we tried! lets all join hands and sing songs to celebrate how "good" we are for trying)...shouldn't we instead be investing in addressing the parade of horribles.

Why throw virgins in the volcano for the hope of good crops? Instead, lets make sure we have a good supply of pesticides on hand for when the insects come.


And we might just find that addressing the horribles costs a helluva lot less both in terms of money and human suffering than the current exercise of trying to stop the sun from coming up.
7.11.2008 1:18pm
Henry Bramlet (mail):
Wouldn't it be better to listen to experts on this, rather than listening to a bunch of people with political science degrees who actually have no idea what they are talking about?

Oh please.

I have come around to at least agree with the latest IPCC consensus. I really think you should read it.

What annoys me is that all these ridiculously bad papers come out and try to hitch a ride on that consensus. Gore's movie was filled with illustrations and diagrams from fringe papers that assume far more temperature change than in the IPCC consensus.

Likewise, nobody has given a comprehensive look at what the net effect of warming will be. You are smoking something if you think that the gadflies in Alaska are suddenly going to skip their hibernation period. Further, while some bacteria may find better purchase in the heat, still others (c.f. Flu virus) cannot handle the heat and fail to spread.

The only people who claim that only bad can happen with a warmer earth are Apocalyptic Fanatics who could never find a religion to support their doomsday tendencies until now.
7.11.2008 1:27pm
genob:
But I don't know what we'll do about ManBearPig. That's a tough one.
7.11.2008 1:31pm
Kazinski:
G.R.:
Your post highlights a common mis-conception about 'climate change', that it is not-normal, or that what we are experiencing is outside the normal range of natural variation.

I have been listening to the experts on this, and there is no scientific evidence that anything other than very marginal anthropogenic climate change is occurring. And it is very likely being swollowed up in the the much larger changes due to natural solar and climates cycles that have been occurring since the world was new.

As Roy Spencer said:

"Al Gore likes to say that mankind puts 70 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day. What he probably doesn't know is that mother nature puts 24,000 times that amount of our main greenhouse gas -- water vapor -- into the atmosphere every day, and removes about the same amount every day. While this does not 'prove' that global warming is not manmade, it shows that weather systems have by far the greatest control over the Earth's greenhouse effect, which is dominated by water vapor and clouds."


The planet has already demonstrated a negative feedback loop that rids the atmosphere at regular intervals (at least outside of California) of the most abundant and broad spectrum of the greenhouse gases.
7.11.2008 1:42pm
libarbarian (mail):
While there is much we dont know about Climate and specific models are open to criticism, there is no doubt that through most of history Carbon and Temperature have been well correlated.

The truly conservative (not politically "conservative") viewpoint would be to cautiously assume that this will continue as we go forward and that temperature will continue to rise as carbon rises.

The radical utopian view would be to assert, on no evidence and only speculation, that the old rules no longer apply at current carbon-levels and that as-yet-unseen feedback mechanisms are likely waiting in the wings to save our asses and keep everything hunky-dory.



The consequence is that we are not even planning to deal with the effects of GW, much less try and stop it, so when those effects come they will be a gigantic pain in the national ass.
7.11.2008 2:48pm
Oren:

Certainly basic libertarians doctrine says that if you don't actually know there is a problem, the government is not justified in limiting your freedom to "solve" it.

Basic governance doctrine says that you don't need to convince every human being that you are right before you take action. Given that both major candidates for President and a clear majority of both houses of Congress are on board for carbon reduction, it appears that we are done talking with the deniers. Good riddance.
7.11.2008 3:07pm
Syd (mail):
So, global warming policy is kicked to the next administration, as are the war in Iraq, the budget deficit, the fate of the space program... This administration is unsurpassed at passing the buck to future administrations.
7.11.2008 3:58pm
Perseus (mail):
The Bush Administration will not take any action to regulate greenhouse gases before 2009.

Doesn't the large increase in the price of oil engineered by Bush-Cheney (Iraq War, Halliburton, yada yada) count as a policy to reduce greenhouse gases?
7.11.2008 4:31pm
Kazinski:
libarbarian:

there is no doubt that through most of history Carbon and Temperature have been well correlated.

I'm sorry libarbarian, but that is just an ignorant use of science when arguing about anthropogenic climate change. Of course they are well correlated, because higher temperatures cause higher CO2 levels in a well understood mechanism. And the ice cores show just that, temperature goes up, and CO2 follows, centuries later as the oceans slowly warm.
7.11.2008 4:43pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Is Pollution Slowing Global Warming?
Wait, now pollution is preventing global warming? That's the conclusion of a recent study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, which says rising temperatures seen in Europe over the last few years result as much from the reduction of air pollution as from the creation of it. The research, which looked at the effects of aerosols on climate, confirms an older concept known as global dimming, and complicates our understanding of how mankind affects the climate.

According to the study, temperatures in Europe have risen over the past 28 years far faster than could be explained by the greenhouse effect alone. After looking at the aerosol concentrations in the atmosphere in six spots, the authors of the paper realized the temperature rise was assisted by more sunlight penetrating the newly pollution free skies. It seems that the stricter pollution standards, adopted in part to slow global warming, may have sped it up.

The idea that pollution may be reflecting some of the sun's energy is not new. The term global dimming is decades old, and some believed that the reduction in pollution was the cause global warming. But now, with the link between greenhouse gas pollution and global warming firmly established, papers like this one highlight how complex the situation is, and how solutions like simply cutting air pollution may have a range of unintended and counterintuitive consequences.
Something similar came out a day or so ago, where it appears that one of the reasons that global temperatures are rising (if indeed they are, which in itself is debatable) is that the air is now cleaner, and thus does not reflect as much sunlight. The obvious solution? Move to China level air pollution around the world and global temperatures are liable to drop - and we could now burn as much coal as we liked, without bothering to clean it up first.
7.11.2008 4:49pm
Oren:
Bruce, the hypothesis that particulate matter has masked the effect of AGW is a solid one but I doubt anyone is clamoring for the kind of air we had to breath before the Clean Air Act.
7.11.2008 4:52pm
LM (mail):
What would happen if the people who are certain it would be cataclysmic to withdraw combat troops from Iraq but perfectly OK to ignore global warming, and the people who are just as certain of the opposite, applied the same standards of proof, certainty, consensus, analytic rigor, etc., to both questions? In other words, if they considered each issue in good faith on equal terms as if they weren't already certain of the answer.
7.11.2008 5:47pm
wfjag:

Climate change means much more than the words 'global warming' imply. Wouldn't it be better to listen to experts on this, rather than listening to a bunch of people with political science degrees who actually have no idea what they are talking about? Its like listening to a biologist trying to argue about constitutional law - laughable.


So, I take it G.R. that you concede that Prof. Lindzen's opinion (in lay terms -- AGW is a crock) is preferable to either that of Al Gore (who in his 2 science courses, received a C+ and a D, and in his one grad science (sort-of) course, in Divinity School, a F) or of Jim Hansen. Hansen's CV is here: www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/cv_hansen_200702.pdf Hansen's degrees are in math, astronomy and physics, but not in climatology -- while Lindzen, of MIT, taught climate science.

Or, maybe you'd consider looking into the facts, just a little. As Deoxy noted, Hansen is the leading AGW proponent. If you check Junkscience.com regularly, you'll see an on-going investigation into the siting of the temperature measuring equipment that supply Hansen's data. Until a few months ago, NASA listed the locations of that equipment. Then, people started checking the locations, and found that the equipment was placed in locations that would seriously skew the data so that it's unreliable. NASA -- where Hansen is a senior official -- suddenly decided that it had to remove the locations information (one justification was that was done for Homeland Security reasons). But, don't worry, people are still looking for and locating the sites -- and finding more that are placed in locations that will seriously skew the data.

I don't believe that you have to be a climate "expert" to understand the concept of GIGO.
7.11.2008 6:23pm
Germanicus:
Regardless of your opinion on the legitimacy of global climate change, or the relationship between human behavior and that change, there are still very good reasons to pursue aggressive conservation policies.

The American economy is tied to the cost of petroleum. There is good reason to believe that it's going to be harder and harder to get our hands on petroleum both because of increasing difficulty producing it as we approach or cross Hubbert's peak, and the increase in demand as developing nations increase their demand for the product.

Spurring innovation in fields related to reducing carbon emissions will almost certainly also produce ways of strengthening our economy against the inevitable rising cost of gasoline.

I think those of you arguing that there isn't enough evidence of human influenced global climate change are just as silly as the hippies who blame every hot summer day on their neighbor's Hummer, but regardless of which of us it right, there are very sound economic reasons to pursue technologies and strategies that reduce our oil use, and the Bush administration has completely failed to protect our economy from this very real problem.
7.11.2008 7:06pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Oren,

No doubt. I just enjoyed the article because it suggests that part of our problem with global warming is due to our previous campaign to clean up the air.
7.11.2008 7:07pm
Charles Strouss (mail):
One assertion has been made in this thread that I think has clearly been shown to be false. While the paleoclimate data does indeed show that atmospheric CO2 and surface temperatures are positively correlated, in fact the data strongly suggests that the former does not cause the latter. The reason? CO2 is a lagging indicator, meaning that it happens AFTER the warming, not BEFORE. This pretty much rules out the causality that many assert. If there is a causal link in the historical record, it is the other way around, or possibly that both result from an unidentified common cause.

Responsible and honest scientists do not claim to prove that increased CO2 causes warming by referring to the paleoclimate record, however. The essential concept of CO2 causing warming is pretty easy to demonstrate in a flask, with all other elements being held constant.

The problem is that we have a very weak understanding of the interplay of all of the forces in the real world environment. In particular, the "alarmist" claims are that some other mechanism (positive feedbacks or "tipping point" effects) will amplify the effects of the fundamental warming itself. In nature, positive feedbacks do exist, but they are much rarer than negative feedbacks. Negative feedbacks cause systems to inherently stabilize and reduce the effects of changing a single variable.

The one strong consensus among scientists is that more research is needed. A big part of the problem is that "true believers" tend to prefer more modelling, which can be easily skewed to match their beliefs, whereas skeptics lean heavily towards more physical measurement and research. The current trend in politicized funding is towards the "alarmists", and significant research into fundamental atmospheric research is being slashed.

Somehow the whole world has been duped about the true predictive powers of computer modelling... even most scientists are very unaware of the difficulty in proving that a model has any predictive power. There are so many thousands of fudge factors in the models, a few tweaks can make the earth burn to a cinder or turn into an ice ball. By choosing the right combination, it is very easy to make a model closely fit the observed historical data, and produce any future you want.

Only after a model has been a successful predictor for a length of time should we put any significant confidence in it. Also, it isn't fair to propose 100 different models, then wait 10 years and see which was most accurate. That's a bit like the old investment scam where I sent out 32,000 letters trying to sell my tip sheet... I pick some highly risky stock, and half of the letters predict that it will do well, and have predict it will do poorly. Then I have the attention of 16,000 potential investors, and after the next successful tip, 8,000 will be on the road to thinking I really know what I'm doing. By the time I've made 5 perfect picks in a row, I'll have 1,000 investors who will be all too happy to sent me $10k to subscribe.

In other words, predictive power only happens when you pick one specific model to prove. Trying to prove 100 at a time means nothing... chances are, one of them will happen to get things pretty close!
7.11.2008 7:23pm
Charles Strouss (mail):
The link between environmental concerns and economics is very strong... unfortunately, the politics of the issues have been so polarized, that there is little rational public discourse.

While most people agree that anthropogenic CO2 is a significant concern, the urgency is highly debated. It doesn't help matters that folks like Al Gore pick the most absurd extremist predictions... He has pretty much admitted this -- even the fringey scientists he relies on often have to distance themselves from his conclusions. Here is another case where an adversarial approach tends to obscure the truth more than it enlightens.

(Al Gore was actually a pretty reasonable guy back in 1988, I think. He was a Senate Brat, after all, growing up in the era when that body did a better job of maintaining a certain level of gentility. Then, in my youth, I was a Democrat, and an Al Gore delegate at my Legislative District Caucus. He seemed to me to stand above the crowd in the debates, for his careful and reasoned analysis of the issues... Unfortunately, in today's sound-bite media world, rational discussions do not play well... He responded to criticisms of him being "boring" by becoming a lunatic.)

Doing serious cost-benefit analysis of public policies relating to global warming is difficult. The worst case damage that Global Warming could do is terrible, but very uncertain. If in fact, it was cheap and easy to limit CO2, it would be a no-brainer indeed.

But the human costs of making significant reductions in CO2 are unacceptable to the people who would be expected to pay the costs. Remember that, since the greenhouse gas effect is logarithmic, incremental differences make very little differences. Only a huge difference in emissions would make a significant change in the global warming effect.

Rich countries like the USA could make significant changes, especially by building a lot of nuclear power generating equipment and investing in brand-new transportation infrastructure. Even so, the economic costs would be tremendous, in a time when the people are not inclined to accept great new economic burdens.

Reducing growth in the developing world, however, is a much more grievous issue. Here, quality and length of life will be greatly enhanced by electrification. Can we really expect the majority of the planet to remain in poverty, just in case the climate outcome might be towards the higher end of the predictions?

If the USA, and western Europe, were to cut their greenhouse emissions to ZERO, it would have minimal impact on the atmosphere.

I think putting a greater emphasis on economics first is the only rational solution. Considering environmental issues in general, it is only after a certain level of affluence is achieved... where people basically have their nutrition, water, shelter, health, &sanitary needs met in a reasonable way... that they are able to turn their efforts towards environmental improvements.

If we allow the economy to collapse, environmental concerns will become very secondary, even for rich Americans. It is not a "sustainable" plan.
7.11.2008 7:52pm
pmorem (mail):
It's not clear to me that Dr. James Hansen has both intellectual integrity and a grasp on reality. He may have one or the other.

There are a number of questions which have been raised regarding his numbers. In particular, the surface stations appear to be corrupted and getting worse, and GISTEMP Step 2 (homogenization) appears to magnify the corruption rather than reduce it. That is assuming it actually works according to specification, which is not entirely clear.

I've got a FOIA request in to start the process of determining if GISTEMP can be claimed to function to specification as defined by NASA standards.
7.11.2008 7:54pm
TJIT (mail):
Oren, It might pay to back off your arrogance. You said,
Given that both major candidates for President and a clear majority of both houses of Congress are on board for carbon reduction, it appears that we are done talking with the deniers. Good riddance.
What has been the major policy to come out of the parties eager to do something (TM) about global warming??? It has been biofuel mandates which increase carbon emissions and causes massive environmental destruction. Less bipartisan consensus would be far more environmentally friendly.

Politics never trumps the laws of physics, thermodynamics, and unintended consequences something the AGW do something now crowd would do well to remember.
7.11.2008 9:50pm
Oren:
As I said earlier, one does not need to convince every last doubter of the facts before taking action. If you aren't convinced, that's fine for you, but I think society at large is done having this particular debate. Those of you that insist that no action can be taken until you are convinced are sorely mistaken.

At any rate, I can think of a at least a dozen policies off the top of my head that would take a huge dent out of climate change. At least the dems finally managed to raise CAFE standards . . .
7.11.2008 10:54pm
TJIT (mail):
Oren,

You are missing the point.

Actions taken by politicians responding to the demands of self assured but technically ignorant folks like you are increasing carbon emissions and causing vast amounts of collateral environmental damage in the process.

In other words, the actions caused by the demands of the do something about AGW now crowd (tm) are making the problem they are trying to fix worse.
7.11.2008 11:30pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Oren's problem is that he observes a consensus that there's some massive pork to be had, and misinterprets it as a consensus that the science is solid.

Except that the actions (as opposed to the words) show that very few indeed are taking the problem seriously, the proponents of AGW included.
7.11.2008 11:56pm
Oren:
TJIT, corn-based ethanol is a big counterproductive boondoggle of a turd. Logic suggests that the failure of one policy aimed towards a goal probably makes the others more pertinent, not less.

Ryan, I was merely noting that, for myself, I'm convinced that there is sufficient support for AGW to merit immediate action. That threshold does not include convincing every denier. Productive inquiry should be focused on what positive steps can be taken.
7.12.2008 12:31am
Raymo Smookels:
Dick,

Assuming, as I suspect is the case, that that was sarcasm, could you elaborate on your quarrel with nuclear power?

Given that nuclear power produces no emissions but water vapor, that the science agrees on Yucca Mountain's viability for safe waste disposal, and that no deaths have been attributed to any nuclear accident (of which there have been very few) in America... if every coal plant were to be replaced with nuclear overnight, I'd be overjoyed.
7.12.2008 1:23am
jps:
Clearly, if the DC government kept enforcing their handgun ban, all of these comments would be exactly the same.

When the Supreme Court rules on a specific executive policy and declares it unlawful, for the government to not follow it- wise policy move or not - is dangerous.

Moreover, even if you agree with the policy move, it should not be done via secrecy and suppressing career personnel recommendations.
If the science is so in favor of the admnistrations view, let them openly declare they are doing so, not attempt to keep it a secret.
7.12.2008 4:05am
David M. Nieporent (www):
So, global warming policy is kicked to the next administration, as are the war in Iraq, the budget deficit, the fate of the space program... This administration is unsurpassed at passing the buck to future administrations.
As opposed to, er, what? Making all decisions for the rest of history now? Ending the world so there are no future administrations?
7.12.2008 6:58am
David M. Nieporent (www):
That's a bit like the old investment scam where I sent out 32,000 letters trying to sell my tip sheet... I pick some highly risky stock, and half of the letters predict that it will do well, and have predict it will do poorly. Then I have the attention of 16,000 potential investors, and after the next successful tip, 8,000 will be on the road to thinking I really know what I'm doing. By the time I've made 5 perfect picks in a row, I'll have 1,000 investors who will be all too happy to sent me $10k to subscribe.
Of course, you'll have to invest $26K in stamps just to get to that point, so I hope you have some working capital...
7.12.2008 7:01am
David M. Nieporent (www):
At any rate, I can think of a at least a dozen policies off the top of my head that would take a huge dent out of climate change. At least the dems finally managed to raise CAFE standards . . .
Uh, no. Raising CAFE makes gas cheaper.
7.12.2008 7:03am
pmorem (mail):
Oren wrote:
TJIT, corn-based ethanol is a big counterproductive boondoggle of a turd. Logic suggests that the failure of one policy aimed towards a goal probably makes the others more pertinent, not less.

What's missing from your analysis is this:

Political power is inherently corrupting. Any political process result is going to be corrupted as a result of its process. In other words, it's corrupted from the beginning. Openness and democratic processes can mitigate the corruption, but it's unavoidable.

It appears to me that the corruption entered over 20 years ago, with Hansen and Gore. That corruption still flows and spreads. The process is neither open nor democratic.

Of course there are boondoggles like Ethanol, carbon credits and offsets. The whole process is corrupt.
7.12.2008 7:09am
Sam Hall (mail):
"I'm convinced that there is sufficient support for AGW to merit immediate action."

Not a chance. If you make a serious dent in the average American's lifestyle, he is going to start paying attention, which he isn't now, and he will be hunting those that push AGW with a baseball bat.

If gas stays above $4/gal and the Democrats continue to oppose drilling, watch the Republican landslide in November.
7.12.2008 8:30am
Oren:
Uh, no. Raising CAFE makes gas cheaper.
Making gas more expensive wasn't the goal.

pmorem, the corruption of the political process (to which I stipulate) does not add anything to this discussion. Problems do not go away because the process to solve them doesn't work -- quite the opposite.

Sam, you can believe whatever you want (clearly) but when Nov 3rd comes around, I hope you are willing to deal with reality.
7.12.2008 1:34pm
Sam Hall (mail):
Oren
It has already started:

"A month after emerging victorious from the bruising Democratic nominating contest, some of Barack Obama's glow may be fading. In the latest NEWSWEEK Poll, the Illinois senator leads Republican nominee John McCain by just 3 percentage points, 44 percent to 41 percent. The statistical dead heat is a marked change from last month's NEWSWEEK Poll, where Obama led McCain by 15 points, 51 percent to 36 percent."

http://www.newsweek.com/id/145737
7.12.2008 2:31pm
Oren:
Whatever you say chief.
7.12.2008 3:13pm
LM (mail):
Oren and Sam,

I find this more convincing than either of those. Especially the comparative price trends for McCain's and Obama's contracts.
7.12.2008 4:03pm
Charles Strouss (mail):
Oren wrote:

TJIT, corn-based ethanol is a big counterproductive boondoggle of a turd. Logic suggests that the failure of one policy aimed towards a goal probably makes the others more pertinent, not less.

One of the big problems of developing real alternative energies is that the stuff that is really going to work, like solar power and electric cars, does not support the business model of big oil or huge quasi-governmental energy infrastructure.

In other words, big oil likes the biofuel concept a lot, because it still makes huge processing facilities, and extensive networks for storing, distributing, and retailing large quantities of dangerous chemicals necessary.

But distributed solar systems? They can be made efficiently by small to medium size manufacturers, and most of the actual costs will be in installation and maintenance, something that is best handled by small independent contractors.

Big oil has a big motivation to push stupid ideas like biofuels, because it keeps them in business. This is also why it may be necessary to publicly fund research into real alternatives -- because the moneyed interests stand to lose their market position if they are successful.
7.12.2008 4:08pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
The government doing nothing about greenhouse gases is a policy that should remain in place for decades.
7.12.2008 4:13pm
Oren:
Charles, the first company with an electric car that seats 4, runs 250 miles, and can be charged with a regular outlet for less than $30k will reap a huge benefit. It hasn't happened because battery technology isn't there (and not for lack of trying, billions have been spent by industries of all stripes on battery R&D). Photovoltaic solar is still far too expensive to be worth it anywhere but the desert. Thermal solar is promising, but immature, and will be confined to the desert anyway. Wind is nice, but is at production capacity.
7.12.2008 4:42pm
pmorem (mail):
I believe the corruption of politics has also infected the scientific process. Climate Audit has a lot of information on the subject, including a white paper by Briffa and Cook which contradicts Briffa's IPCC statements.

As soon as the science became political it was corrupted.

Oren wrote:
Given that both major candidates for President and a clear majority of both houses of Congress are on board for carbon reduction,

That's a political assessment. It may be true. Nature, on the other hand, is not compelled to agree. There may be a lot of people with egg on their faces.

... it appears that we are done talking with the deniers.

Please refrain from associating me with neo-Nazis.
7.12.2008 4:49pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
One of the big problems of developing real alternative energies is that the stuff that is really going to work, like solar power and electric cars, does not support the business model of big oil or huge quasi-governmental energy infrastructure.
How do you know it is going to work? ESP? Solar isn't cost effective enough, and no one has addressed the EPA, endangered species, etc. issues yet of spreading solar panels across miles of desert yet. And how do you power that electric car? Solar panels on your house aren't going to be sufficient for awhile yet. Maybe never. So, that means distribution infrastructure, which is being blocked by the same sort of NIMBY that blocks wind farms near Teddy Kennedy's vacation house.
But distributed solar systems? They can be made efficiently by small to medium size manufacturers, and most of the actual costs will be in installation and maintenance, something that is best handled by small independent contractors.
They can maybe be made efficiently, but that doesn't mean that they can generate electricity efficiently yet. And my bet is that much of the technology to generate solar power efficiently is likely not to be the sort of small size manufacturers you are talking about. Rather, I expect to see multi-billion dollar fabs.
Big oil has a big motivation to push stupid ideas like biofuels, because it keeps them in business. This is also why it may be necessary to publicly fund research into real alternatives -- because the moneyed interests stand to lose their market position if they are successful.
Sounds a bit simplistic to me. That isn't how the market really works. Rather, if there is real money to be made there, there will be investment. But why bother if the break even is too far in the future, or the DOE is going to fund the R&D anyway?

But we see what happens when the government (in this case, in the guise of the DOE) picks winners and losers. The determination of where to spend money will by necessity be far from optimum, and will be based more on politics and favoritism than economics. Indeed, corn based ethanol is precisely the sort of misallocation of resources that you find when the government gets involves and picks the winners and losers. In this case, the winners were the corn farmers, and the losers were everyone else.
7.12.2008 4:58pm
Oren:
I believe the corruption of politics has also infected the scientific process. Climate Audit has a lot of information on the subject, including a white paper by Briffa and Cook which contradicts Briffa's IPCC statements.
And someone else will write up a white paper contradicting them and we will go on forever without a conclusion. Which is, I suspect, the goal of AGW opponents. Society has no obligation to wait until every person that disagrees with the consensus conclusion is convinced before we can take action. Briffa and Cook do not have a veto power of the conclusions of the scientific community and, as we will see early in 2009, AGW opponents will not have a veto power of the policy of the US Gov't.
7.12.2008 5:36pm
TJIT (mail):
Oren you keep saying
Society has no obligation to wait until every person that disagrees with the consensus conclusion is convinced before we can take action.
I guess it provides a nice personal affirmation / mantra for you but you still

1. Ignore the vast environmental damage previous actions taken to curb carbon emissions have caused.

2. Ignore the fact that past actions taken to reduce carbon emissions have actually increased them

3. Do not provide any concrete policy items that could be implemented to reduce carbon emissions. Arm waving about dozens of ideas to reduce carbon emissions does not count.

For folks operating in the real world with an awareness of issues beyond slogan chucking the damage carbon reduction policies have caused so far is a very good reason to step back and reevaluate if it is even possible to reduce carbon emissions.

For those long on arrogance and short on actual knowledge of environmental impacts carbon reduction policies have caused it is a reason to chuck more slogans and demand we do something now.
7.12.2008 11:18pm
TJIT (mail):
Oren you said
Charles, the first company with an electric car that seats 4, runs 250 miles, and can be charged with a regular outlet for less than $30k will reap a huge benefit. It hasn't happened because battery technology isn't there (and not for lack of trying, billions have been spent by industries of all stripes on battery R&D). Photovoltaic solar is still far too expensive to be worth it anywhere but the desert. Thermal solar is promising, but immature, and will be confined to the desert anyway. Wind is nice, but is at production capacity.
You nicely summarize the problems all non carbon based energy sources face.

In spite of this you keep saying take action now.

What action is to be taken given that you have shown how the non carbon based energy sources are incapable of replacing carbon based energy sources.
7.12.2008 11:23pm
TJIT (mail):
Charles Strouss, you said
In other words, big oil likes the biofuel concept a lot,

Big oil has a big motivation to push stupid ideas like biofuels, because it keeps them in business.
Please, your ignorance hurts the eyes.

Biofuel mandates and subsidies were pushed by the environmental groups, and opposed by the oil companies and refiners.
7.12.2008 11:31pm
Charles Strouss (mail):
Oren wrote:
Charles, the first company with an electric car that seats 4, runs 250 miles, and can be charged with a regular outlet for less than $30k will reap a huge benefit. It hasn't happened because battery technology isn't there (and not for lack of trying, billions have been spent by industries of all stripes on battery R&D).

GM has announced the Chevrolet Volt will go into production in 2009. It will be a true serial-hybrid (the recharging engine will not be mechanically connected to the drive). It has a 40 mile range with overnight charging on a standard household outlet. It turns out this is the daily range needed by the vast majority of commuters. Being a two seater is not a big limiting factor for a commuter.

Indeed battery technology is critical. The delays thus far in bringing the volt to market were hangups in the Lithium Ion storage batteries. While the original target price was $30k, GM now is trying to keep it under $40k.

Serial-parallel hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, deliver decent fuel economy while maintaining remarkable drivability for urban commuting. I don't know the sales numbers, but they are becoming extremely common here in the Seattle area.

Agreed these cars have a long way to go, but the technology is OUT OF THE LAB now. That is a big step towards accelerating technical progress.

Photovoltaic solar is still far too expensive to be worth it anywhere but the desert. Thermal solar is promising, but immature, and will be confined to the desert anyway. Wind is nice, but is at production capacity


We're seeing a lot of PV deployment here in the Seattle area, which is among the weaker parts of CONUS for solar density. Silicon wafer PV cells for the mass market are running about $5/watt, with 100w/m2. It isn't unusual for single family homes to generate several KW from rooftop panels. Thin-film products that are coming onto the market now are much cheaper, although not as efficient (yet).

Thermal solar is also common her in the Seattle area.

It is true that large urban population centers won't have enough area to generate the power needed. Personally I see the radical environmental movements efforts to relocate the population into high density "Urban Growth Areas" to be dangerous for many reasons, and this is one of them. Once you concentrate large number of people into a small area, you obviously make it necessary to have large external infrastructure, like agriculture and energy, located elsewhere.

There are other technologies that have been tested to make solar power generation more efficient... In particular, using collecting mirrors has been shown to recover far more energy at a lower price that non-mirror technologies.

Also keep in mind that energy and greenhouse gas is a global issue. The majority of the developing nations live much closer to the equator than Seattle.

Solar energy systems, like the electric car, are gaining increasing deployment, and are becoming more and more cost competitive with fossil fuels. Remember, they say it will take 5-10 years for new oil drilling to increase supply. How much progress will alternatives make in the long run, assuming oil prices stay high? My friends in those industries say that the improvements will likely be impressive.

I asserted:
One of the big problems of developing real alternative energies is that the stuff that is really going to work, like solar power and electric cars, does not support the business model of big oil or huge quasi-governmental energy infrastructure.


Bruce Hayden responded:
How do you know it is going to work? ESP? Solar isn't cost effective enough, and no one has addressed the EPA, endangered species, etc. issues yet of spreading solar panels across miles of desert yet. And how do you power that electric car? Solar panels on your house aren't going to be sufficient for awhile yet. Maybe never. So, that means distribution infrastructure, which is being blocked by the same sort of NIMBY that blocks wind farms near Teddy Kennedy's vacation house.

Most of my opinions on alternative energy potentials come from my friends who are engineers in the energy business. The folks I know haven't worked directly with Wind, but they are skeptical about it, and I share their judgment.

As a person who has been a victim of the left-wing Agenda 21 plans to force population into the cities (ie: I lost my farm because of radical administrative takings based on exaggerated environmental theories, and I now live in an apartment in a city) my greatest concern is for lower-density habitats.

As far as large solar farms in the desert... my best guess would be that nuclear would be a better near-term solution for serving high-density population centers.

One of the AGW "skeptics" (sorry, can't find the reference at the moment) calculated the effects of greatly increased CAFE standards vs. 1000 new nuclear power plants in the USA. According to his numbers, the CAFE (more aggressive than anything under serious consideration) would be a drop in the bucket, wheras the 1000 new nuclear plants would reduce greenhouse gas emissions the the USA by 10%.

I wrote:

But distributed solar systems? They can be made efficiently by small to medium size manufacturers, and most of the actual costs will be in installation and maintenance, something that is best handled by small independent contractors.

Bruce Hayden responded:
They can maybe be made efficiently, but that doesn't mean that they can generate electricity efficiently yet. And my bet is that much of the technology to generate solar power efficiently is likely not to be the sort of small size manufacturers you are talking about. Rather, I expect to see multi-billion dollar fabs.

It could be that huge fabrication plants will eventually help bring the price down, but I think the installation and service costs will ultimately be the bigger cost of deployment.

I wrote:

In other words, big oil likes the biofuel concept a lot... Big oil has a big motivation to push stupid ideas like biofuels, because it keeps them in business.


TJIT responded:
Biofuel mandates and subsidies were pushed by the environmental groups, and opposed by the oil companies and refiners.


It could be that oil companies once opposed biofuels, but at least at a PR level, they are pushing them now. But they are conspicuously absent on the real alternatives.
7.13.2008 1:00am
EPluribusMoney (mail):
My wife and I only drive 7 miles to work so a hybrid or electric car would work fine for us. But I think I'll get a Hummer as soon as they get cheap enough just for the fun of it!
7.13.2008 2:01am
Oren:
What action is to be taken given that you have shown how the non carbon based energy sources are incapable of replacing carbon based energy sources.
100-200 new nuclear plants, standardized design with a single permitting process and single training program. Reprocessing of fuel to reduce waste, opening Yucca Mountain.
7.13.2008 2:58pm
Crafty Hunter (www):
Instead of hiding behind a screen of genteel politesse, I bluntly declare that climate hystericalists are vermin who should be dragged out of their ratholes and executed as terrorists.

Hey, you know. If these vermin spit in my face by saying that I must be the enemy if I find so-called anthropomorphic "global warming" to be Chicken Little alarmism at its worst, then I will in turn call for killing them all.

Terror for terror.
7.13.2008 3:53pm
Smokey:
The catalyst that forced the UN/IPCC to back off its scaremongering about 20 foot+ sea level rises, etc., was the Wegman Report, requested by Congress [and well worth reading in order to understand the shenanigans and misrepresentations by James Hansen, Michael Mann and the UN/IPCC].

As a result of the Wegman Report, the UN/IPCC has now been forcibly pushed into accepting pretty much the same forecasts that the skeptics have maintained all along; forecasts that are indistinguishable from *natural* climate change.

The latest UN report [AR-4] now predicts a sea level rise over the next century of mere inches -- not the 20+ foot rise in sea level that their earlier reports predicted. [As we all know, those official UN reports resulted in numerous scary photoshops, like the Statue of Liberty's arm sticking out of the ocean, coastal areas completely inundated, etc.].

Another result of the Wegman Report was that the UN/IPCC has now been forced to delete this graph from its publications [I'm sure you've all seen that scary "hockey stick" graph. But it is totally bogus, based on Michael Mann's and James Hansen's fabricated climate data -- which Hansen to this day refuses to provide, even though it was paid for with taxpayer funds].

There are several excellent technical links upthread. But I note that the true believers in the [repeatedly falsified] AGW/CO2/runaway global warming hypothesis don't post any technical citations here; they only repeat what they hear in the sensationalist media.

Therefore, allow me to cite some charts that show the true picture [I'm a big believer in visual aids, since lots of folks don't bother to read the technical details]. The charts are mostly one page, and are easy to understand:

First: Is the planet warming? click [Note that this data is from NASA, GISS, and other government agencies].

Next: should we scream, "Everybody PANIC!!"? click

Next question: Does an increase in carbon dioxide [CO2] cause global warming? click

Related question: Is an increase in CO2 bad? click [click on the forward and back buttons for more slides]. And click [click on the image to get a readable copy. You will see that CO2 levels have been many times higher in the past than they are today, and there has never been "runaway global warming".]

Those promoting the AGW hypothesis also fight tooth and nail against any suggestion that the Sun has a major influence on the climate: click,and click and click.

Next, the computer models. Are they ever accurate? No.

And why does James Hansen hide out from any debate? Maybe it's because in addition to fabricating is data, his predictions of catastrophically rising temperatures are wrong. See Hansen's 1988 global warming scaremongering report to Congress here. And look at what the government is doing with our weather maps: click [this is a gif with the original weather map draft, and the "adjusted" map that they use now. [This is really scandalous AGW propaganda. Take a look].

Finally, these arm-waving scares are as predictable as the tides. They come and go. And they always aim their propaganda at the school kids [this one is from 1990].

Buried in all the frantic hype is the fact that most real scientists [at least those not sucking at the public teat] are highly skeptical of the AGW/CO2/ planetary catastrophe hypothesis promoted by James Hansen and others.

IANAL. My background is in the physical sciences. I'm happy to defer to the experts in law who post here. But when it comes to science -- as opposed to money-grubbing propaganda -- I would rather defer to a real climatologist and global warming skeptic like M.I.T.'s Richard Lindzen. Wouldn't you?
7.13.2008 7:42pm
Charles Strouss (mail):
Smokey wrote:
The catalyst that forced the UN/IPCC to back off its scaremongering about 20 foot+ sea level rises, etc., was the Wegman Report, requested by Congress [and well worth reading in order to understand the shenanigans and misrepresentations by James Hansen, Michael Mann and the UN/IPCC].

Edward Wegman testified before a congressional committee, at the invitation of a conservative politician and global warming skeptic. You're exaggerating what he said. Edward Wegman is a well known statastician, and he points out that some of the studies used very sloppy statistics in trying to sum up gigabytes of data. The most interesting thing about his testimony is that he points out that, in the medical field for example, it is considered essential to have a statastician review the statistics prior to publication, and the paleoclimatologists generally weren't doing that, even though they were completely pushing the envelope in the way they were trying to connect disparate data sets. Wegman didn't force the IPCC to back off anything. He is only one voice doubting one part of the alarmist theory, and since his testimony was solicited by a highly-partisan politician, he had very little effect on True Believers.

As a result of the Wegman Report, the UN/IPCC has now been forcibly pushed into accepting pretty much the same forecasts that the skeptics have maintained all along; forecasts that are indistinguishable from *natural* climate change.

Not true at all. AR4 (the current set of IPCC reports) concludes that it is "highly probable" that the slight rise in global mean surface temperature already observed is caused by anthropogenic atmospheric CO2. Even prominent skeptics generally agree with this conclusion, although they may feel it is a little less certain.


The latest UN report [AR-4] now predicts a sea level rise over the next century of mere inches — not the 20+ foot rise in sea level that their earlier reports predicted. [As we all know, those official UN reports resulted in numerous scary photoshops, like the Statue of Liberty's arm sticking out of the ocean, coastal areas completely inundated, etc.].

The crazy Al Gore catastrophe scenarios have never been in the IPCC reports. He has picked a few extreme scientists, and then cherry picked among them for the worst-possible set of worst-case catastrophes. Don't confuse politicians like Al Gore with the legit scientists who believe AGW is a real problem.


Another result of the Wegman Report was that the UN/IPCC has now been forced to delete this graph from its publications [I'm sure you've all seen that scary "hockey stick" graph. But it is totally bogus, based on Michael Mann's and James Hansen's fabricated climate data — which Hansen to this day refuses to provide, even though it was paid for with taxpayer funds].

I believe he was finally forced to reveal the data. The real problem is that he also gave his computer source code, and others have been unable to get it to run. In other words, he generated graphs with some unknown past hack of the code... this was not releaseable code at all, as is often the case when people write code for their own purposes. Writing programs to do personal number crunching and writing releaseable programs are totally different matters.

I do agree, however, than the "hockey stick" has been discredited. I believe Wegman showed that you could plug all kinds of random data sets (unrelated to climate) into that model and still get the hockey stick.


There are several excellent technical links upthread. But I note that the true believers in the [repeatedly falsified] AGW/CO2/runaway global warming hypothesis don't post any technical citations here; they only repeat what they hear in the sensationalist media.


There are tons of published studies available that support AGW theory. Obviously no reasoned discussion of the science would have much to do with media restatements of studies.

The fundamental element of the "runaway" theories is that there are some major positive feedbacks that can be triggered. It isn't hard to hypothesize what they might be — the most popular is ice melting. It's impossible to prove that they AREN'T correct. In fact, we still don't know with any certainty what the mechanism is that triggers cycles in the ice age... so we know that there probably are some trigger systems. The problem is the uncertainty... we cannot predict with enough certainty that we should cripple the economy and force those living in great poverty to remain that way. But if a way can be found to reduce CO2 emissions with reasonable cost, it is the safest choice.

----Smokey links to a bunch of skeptic sources

By all means, if you're an alarmist, and you've never given serious consideration to the other side of the argument, check these out. There is plenty of reason to be skeptical.


Buried in all the frantic hype is the fact that most real scientists [at least those not sucking at the public teat] are highly skeptical of the AGW/CO2/ planetary catastrophe hypothesis promoted by James Hansen and others.

Here I have to disagree. I believe the majority of scientists do believe AGW is a problem, and that we should find ways to work against it. As a group, I think they are biased towards leftist political views. Also as a group, they are not the Al Gore style alarmist exaggerators.


— I would rather defer to a real climatologist and global warming skeptic like M.I.T.'s Richard Lindzen. Wouldn't you?

Lindzen is a good read — you should check him out. He isn't necessarily the most balanced, or most eloquent skeptic, however. I believe he does generally acknowledge that the last century's rise in GMST is most likely caused by anthropogenic CO2... His main area of disagreement with the alarmists is in their catastrophe theories... in fact, his ongoing research has documented some previously unknown NEGATIVE feedback mechanisms.

If you want a good read on Climate Change skepticism, check out Freeman Dyson and Michael Crichton.
7.13.2008 11:39pm
Smokey:
Charles Strouss:

After reading, then re-reading your uncited opinion above, I still can not understand exactly where you're coming from or what you're saying. Apparently I've rattled you, but I'm not sure why. I was mostly just posting some interesting charts and graphs.

I hope, on the other hand, that my own conclusion is clear. As I stated: "Buried in all the frantic hype is the fact that most real scientists [at least those not sucking at the public teat] are highly skeptical of the AGW/CO2/ planetary catastrophe hypothesis promoted by James Hansen and others."

I never said that CO2 has no effect on the atmosphere. It is widely acknowledged that CO2 has had a very *slight* warming effect, which has already occurred. But further increases in atmospheric CO2 have a rapidly diminishing effect, as Prof. Lindzen and others routinely point out. Lindzen [whom I've read copiously, in addition to Dyson, McKittrick, Coleman, McIntyre, Crichton, Ball, Seitz and many others] are all totally skeptical that carbon dioxide emissions will lead to any kind of runaway global warming. And that was my point. The real threat is global cooling, such as a Dalton Minimum -- which is much scarier, and we should be very thankful for the tiny amount of warming previously provided by our carbon dioxide emissions [equal to less than 3% of CO2 emitted naturally every year].

You referred to Prof. Freeman Dyson, who states: "My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models."

As I stated above, I posted those numerous links/cites because most folks' eyes glaze over when they read the technical details -- which I do. So I posted some interesting charts to show what's really going on.

If you disagree with the charts and citations I posted [and I'm not sure you do; as I said, I can't understand the position you're taking], then you need to specifically refute them. Otherwise, picking out certain statements [which I stand by] leaves me wondering what exactly you're trying to say. Do you think there will be catastrophic global warming as a result of human CO2 emissions?

What I am saying is this: we, as a country, should not make economically destructive decisions costing literally trillions of tax dollars based on "what if" scenarios, or on completely discredited/falsified hypotheses such as the AGW = planetary catastrophe predictions -- which IMHO are all based on a scheme to raise taxes, and certainly not on any credible science.

If you disagree, I'd like to hear your thoughts about the approaching global warming disaster, and when we can expect it to begin.
7.14.2008 5:42pm
Charles Strouss (mail):
Smokey: I'll make my position more clear. I am a skeptic, but not an outright denier. I felt that certain elements of your posting were slightly exaggerated -- for example, that the scientific community at large placed a lot of emphasis on Wegman's criticisms. In general, I try to argue a moderated position, being careful to give credit to the "other side" when I feel they have strong arguments. Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes I feel that strong adversarial advocacy is not the best way of arriving at the truth.

I do believe it is likely that human CO2 emissions have caused the substantial rise in atmospheric CO2 (280 -> 380 ppm over the last 120 years), that the increase is likely to continue, and that this has been a significant contributor to the apparent rise in mean surface temp... and furthermore (although with less certainty) that we will see more temperature increases. I believe there is sufficient reason to be concerned, and that we should take this into account in the debate about future global energy policies.

I do not believe a "tipping point" or positive feedback trigger is likely... intuitively, I believe that the planet does contain many known and not-yet-known negative feedback systems that will tend to stabilize climate.

So, I expect you and I probably are close to agreement. I'm not at all surprised you know Dyson's work... pointing him out was more intended for the other readers who might not. The quote you gave is my favorite summary of the whole situation -- I quoted a smaller version of that same passage in a paper I wrote. Lindzen is certainly more aware of the technical details, and is actively contributing to real understanding of climate... however, there is some intangible in his writing style that makes me question his objectivity. I'm not saying is is any less objective than the alarmists, I'm just saying there seems to be a tinge of ideology in what he writes that makes me tend to digest him with a grain of salt.

I do believe that it is important to consider the environmental impacts of human industry. People have managed to dodge Malthusian bullets so far, but if population growth and consumption expand unchecked, I think we will some day cause a significant crisis. AGW is not it, yet.

It reminds me of a non-profit I used to serve as a volunteer. While secretary of the boards, I reviewed the foundational documents, and found that several things not been done properly. I determined that some other similar groups were starting to face litigation, and recommended that we hire an attorney to get our paperwork straight, and that we secure D&O insurance.

The board decided my concern wasn't warranted. They said they hadn't been sued in 20 years, why should they worry about it in the future? I quietly resigned from the board. Now, ten years later, they still haven't been sued. Does that mean they were right? No, it means they've been lucky, so far.

Environmental concerns come down to cost/benefit analyses, which are very hard to quantify. As a person who has been required to make a substantial sacrifice, for the alleged benefits of the other taxpayers in my county, I feel it is important that real conservation costs need to be spread fairly. That is one way to make sure action won't be taken based on great uncertainty, by shifting the burden to a disenfranchised minority.

Just because bizarre and exaggerated claims have been made, doesn't mean there is not an issue to monitor. Just because the planet's natural self-healing, combined with human technology, have been sufficient to head off major environmental disasters so far, doesn't mean we should ignore all environmental concerns.

That is why I wish everybody would tone down the rhetoric a bit, stop exaggerating or minimizing, and be realistic about the tradeoffs between preserving nature and improving human living conditions. The current system, based on radicalized extremes, is resulting in high prices being paid for minimal returns.
7.14.2008 9:06pm
Charles Strouss (mail):
Oh, and the reasons I think alternative energies and fuel efficiency are important:

a) reducing the effect of massive oil imports on geopolitics and economics

b) future technologies being better than what we have now... before too long electric cars will absolutely kick ass on chemical-burning ones... A nice little 50HP pancake motor on each wheel, with the torque being distributed by a computer... full torque off the line, no rotten old drivetrain taking up space and wasting energy on friction. (This is already being done on military vehicles.) Yeah, baby. Quiet, smooth. And not stinky.

c) individuals having less need to rely on governments and huge quasi-governmental infrastructure

d) oh, yeah, global warming or whatever.
7.15.2008 12:06am
Smokey:
Thanx for responding, Charles. Although using a term overflowing with emotional baggage like "denier" is completely inappropriate in any scientific discussion.

The empirical facts speak for themselves: the planet is cooling, not warming.
7.15.2008 8:55pm