The Sloppy Science of Global Warming

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A guest post by Roy. W. Spencer

While a politician might be faulted for pushing a particular agenda that serves his own purposes, who can fault the impartial scientist who warns us of an imminent global-warming Armageddon? After all, the practice of science is an unbiased search for the truth, right? The scientists have spoken on global warming. There is no more debate. But let me play devil’s advocate. Just how good is the science underpinning the theory of manmade global warming? My answer might surprise you: it is 10 miles wide, but only 2 inches deep.

Contrary to what you have been led to believe, there is no solid published evidence that has ruled out a natural cause for most of our recent warmth – not one peer-reviewed paper. The reason: our measurements of global weather on decadal time scales are insufficient to reject such a possibility. For instance, the last 30 years of the strongest warming could have been caused by a very slight change in cloudiness. What might have caused such a change? Well, one possibility is the sudden shift to more frequent El Niño events (and fewer La Niña events) since the 1970s. That shift also coincided with a change in another climate index, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

The associated warming in Alaska was sudden, and at the same time we just happened to start satellite monitoring of Arctic sea ice. Coincidences do happen, you know…that’s why we have a word for them.

We make a big deal out of the “unprecedented” 2007 opening of the Northwest Passage as summertime sea ice in the Arctic Ocean gradually receded, yet the very warm 1930s in the Arctic also led to the Passage opening in the 1940s. Of course, we had no satellites to measure the sea ice back then.

So, since we cannot explore the possibility of a natural source for some of our warming, due to a lack of data, scientists instead explore what we have measured: manmade greenhouse gas emissions. And after making some important assumptions about how clouds and water vapor (the main greenhouse components of the atmosphere) respond to the extra carbon dioxide, scientists can explain all of the recent warming.

Never mind that there is some evidence indicating that it was just as warm during the Medieval Warm Period. While climate change used to be natural, apparently now it is entirely manmade. But a few of us out there in the climate research community are rattling our cages. In the August 2007 Geophysical Research Letters, my colleagues and I published some satellite evidence for a natural cooling mechanism in the tropics that was not thought to exist. Called the “Infrared Iris” effect, it was originally hypothesized by Prof. Richard Lindzen at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

By analyzing six years of data from a variety of satellites and satellite sensors, we found that when the tropical atmosphere heats up due to enhanced rainfall activity, the rain systems there produce less cirrus cloudiness, allowing more infrared energy to escape to space. The combination of enhanced solar reflection and infrared cooling by the rain systems was so strong that, if such a mechanism is acting upon the warming tendency from increasing carbon dioxide, it will reduce manmade global warming by the end of this century to a small fraction of a degree. Our results suggest a “low sensitivity” for the climate system.

What, you might wonder, has been the media and science community response to our work? Absolute silence. No doubt the few scientists who are aware of it consider it interesting, but not relevant to global warming. You see, only the evidence that supports the theory of manmade global warming is relevant these days.

The behavior we observed in the real climate system is exactly opposite to how computerized climate models that predict substantial global warming have been programmed to behave. We are still waiting to see if any of those models are adjusted to behave like the real climate system in this regard.

And our evidence against a “sensitive” climate system does not end there. In another study (conditionally accepted for publication in the Journal of Climate) we show that previously published evidence for a sensitive climate system is partly due to a misinterpretation of our observations of climate variability. For example, when low cloud cover is observed to decrease with warming, this has been interpreted as the clouds responding to the warming in such a way that then amplifies it. This is called “positive feedback,” which translates into high climate sensitivity.

But what if the decrease in low clouds were the cause, rather than the effect, of the warming? While this might sound like too simple a mistake to make, it is surprisingly difficult to separate cause and effect in the climate system. And it turns out that any such non-feedback process that causes a temperature change will always look like positive feedback. Something as simple as daily random cloud variations can cause long-term temperature variability that looks like positive feedback, even if in reality there is negative feedback operating.

The fact is that so much money and effort have gone into the theory that mankind is 100 percent responsible for climate change that it now seems too late to turn back. Entire careers (including my own) depend upon the threat of global warming. Politicians have also jumped aboard the Global Warming Express, and this train has no brakes.

While it takes only one scientific paper to disprove a theory, I fear that no amount of evidence will be able to counter what everyone now considers true. If tomorrow the theory of manmade global warming were proved to be a false alarm, one might reasonably expect a collective sigh of relief from everyone. But instead there would be cries of anguish from vested interests.

About the only thing that might cause global warming hysteria to end will be a prolonged period of cooling…or at least, very little warming. We have now had at least six years without warming, and no one really knows what the future will bring. And if warming does indeed end, I predict that there will be no announcement from the scientific community that they were wrong. There will simply be silence. The issue will slowly die away as Congress reduces funding for climate change research.

Oh, there will still be some diehards who will continue to claim that warming will resume at any time. And many will believe them. Some folks will always view our world as a fragile, precariously balanced system rather than a dynamic, resilient one. In such a world-view, any manmade disturbance is by definition bad. Forests can change our climate, but people aren’t allowed to.

It is unfortunate that our next generation of researchers and teachers is being taught to trust emotions over empirical evidence. Polar bears are much more exciting than the careful analysis of data. Social and political ends increasingly trump all other considerations. Science that is not politically correct is becoming increasingly difficult to publish. Even science reporting has become more sensationalist in recent years.

I am not claiming that all of our recent warming is natural. But the extreme reluctance for most scientists to even entertain the possibility that some of it might be natural suggests to me that climate research has become corrupted. I fear that the sloppy practice of climate change science will damage our discipline for a long time to come.

Roy W. Spencer is a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. His book, Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor, will be published this month.

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151 thoughts on “The Sloppy Science of Global Warming

  1. This has been my thoughts exactly for the last couple of years. True science poses a theory, and tries to find a way to show that it is wrong. This ‘new’ science is just the opposite. It is only looking at results that support the theory, even when the results are obviously flawed.

    I like the point on causation. Most people can not understand how difficult it is to differentiate cause and effect. Most people will not question the cause and effect suggested by the media outlet reporting it.

  2. I agree. It seems that only Mother Nature intervening in a big way will stop the momentum . Maybe, just maybe she is with the recent cold snap and I notice that global ice area will almost certainly be a record this year. The change from ‘Global Warming” to “Climate Change” will allow AGW proponents to link every hurricane,flood or other climatic disaster to CO2 and the media will aid them.

  3. This article had an air of resigned pessimism. Never give up!

    Today, I drew attention to myself in the lab when I found myself loudly stating to a colleague “The bloody polar bears are not dying!”

    One must continually speak out against wrongness. And this warming wrongness is beyond error; it is a scam and a fraud.

  4. I cringe whenever I see the words “real climate” now (he said it twice). How about “Planet Earth’s climate”, since the folks at RC seem to be in another world entirely, sort of a climate wonderland.

  5. It would be so nice if the AGWer’s would at the very least consider some of the point raised by Dr. Spencer. But we already know what the response will be over at Real Climate – his science is all wrong, the science is settled, he’s a denialist, blah, blah, blah…

  6. Jeff:
    Your comment on posing a theory, then testing the hypotheses associated with it describes exactly how I was taught science 50+ years ago. I noticed the change when the Freon vs Ozone hole debacle occurred. I’m still waiting for the chemical equations and actual observations of the process which is supposed to take place. In the meanwhile, the whole thing was politicized, and the reaction was declared de facto by the government, and Freon phased out. Trying to just find actual measurements (not easy, I grant) of the amount of Freon in the stratosphere is difficult. All I have found INFER the amount from production, ambiguous IR loss measurements, etc.
    With AGW, they did not quite get that far before people like Steve McIntyre and Roy Spencer noticed what was going on and started publicizing the real facts. But, having experienced victory banning Freon, they are not about to let science stand in the way of making a lot of bucks, Enron style off of CO2.

  7. Who gets credit for the brilliant choice of illustration to go with the post?

    REPLY: Thats me, its the only thing that came up with an image search…not sure if you are being facetious or not.

  8. Dr Spencer, if warming does indeed end, and if sources for the downturn are truly identified, climate science will remain intact. The battle cry will simply change. The projections will then become how high the temperature will rise when the anomalous downward behavior stops.

    For those of us who aren’t climate scientists, it appears it would be easy to isolate the amount that solar, the frequency of El Ninos versus La Ninas, and the AMO have contributed to warming over the past three decades. Since the IPCC has not bothered to do this simply and honestly, leads me to believe they are hiding the truth. Their most recent projections cannot have assumed these variables would continue indefinitely, could they? Can they truly believe that nature has so little impact?

    Then again, how many people would have interest in AGW if natural variation was responsible for 70, 80, 90% of the warming?

  9. Anthony,
    I can think of very few guest posters that would have been better than Dr. Roy Spencer. I have spoken with him and he is a man of great integrity. It disturbs me greatly when I see him derided on other blogs. I have even seen posts asking what reputable association or group would even recognize him. It is a great shame when the science has been degraded to the point that skeptical investigation is denied any value at all. I agree with Dr. Spencer’s view of the science. It is to bad that it has been so politized.

    Great post, very informative.

    Bill Derryberry
    Vigo, Alabama

  10. Momentum will slow when the rubber meets the road. Take a look at Europe. An early adopter of the GW religion are now finding it impossible to make the sacrifices necessary to do anything meaningful about CO2.

  11. The comment about the illustration was intended as a complement. Humourous yet amazingly appropriate given the piece :-)

  12. About the only thing that might cause global warming hysteria to end will be a prolonged period of cooling…or at least, very little warming.

    Actually, Dr. Spencer, there is one other thing, and, from everything I’ve read, it’s on the verge of exploding — a technological revolution in energy production that will significantly lower mankind’s carbon footprint. I’ve recently read of two new competing methods of hydrogen generation that show great promise within the next year or two. Craig Venter is also part of a venture that is perhaps 18 months away from a breakthrough in a new generation of biofuels that uses surplus CO2 (how cool is that?) as a feedstock. It’s entirely possible that within 2 or 3 decades it will be impossible to blame man if CO2 continues to increase.

  13. “But what if the decrease in low clouds were the cause, rather than the effect, of the warming? ”

    It seem like that a lot of “climate scientest” don’t get out of the office much. If “climate scientest” did work outside, 40 hrs a week, 50 weeks a year, they would understand the above statment. It was the one of main reasons why I didn’t buy into “CO2 induce global warming theory” five years ago.

    “The issue will slowly die away as Congress reduces funding for climate change research.”

    I hope that funding does not slowing die away. To many livelyhoods depend on accurate forcast. Although, it may take a lawsuit for Congress to change its view.

    Time to face the facts. Old Farmer’s Almanc boost of being right 85% of the time. That’s far better than any type of playstation based on CO2.

  14. Great article!…..but it sounds a little downhearted. I’m sure that sooner or later, as the actual climate data begins to overwhelm the “modelled” predictions of AGW, the media will, in time-honoured fashion, turn on its new found friend. At this stage the “warmists” will no longer be able to hoodwink the general public and the issue will die a natural death.

    What will take longer to fix, however, is the damage done to the credibility of the scientific community. Perhaps in the end the AGW debacle will serve to reform the peer review process and herald a return to theose halcyon days when hypotheses were viewed with healthy scepticism until thoroughly and verifiably tested.

    We live in hope!

  15. PS. Two reports came out over the week-end concerning global warming. The first, a report about 3000 ocean temp sensors recording a slight cooling trend in the worlds oceans, which is contrary to AGW, got almost no, if any airtime. The other story, about how the flora and fauna are emerging from spring and blooming earlier than they did thirty years ago due to… drumroll please… man made global warming, was all over the new this morning. Oh, and the new science of Phenology, which measures and catalogs such things, is a direct offshoot of the global warming hysteria currently embedded in climate science.

  16. Froggie — “The first, a report about 3000 ocean temp sensors recording a slight cooling trend in the worlds oceans, which is contrary to AGW, got almost no, if any airtime.”

    Believe it or not dept… this is already being “debunked.” I’ve read claims elsewhere that there were sensor problems and once these were corrected, the oceans warmed up on cue.

    Figures.

    I wonder who’s debunking this for us.

  17. Phenology isn’t a new science; it’s just being co-opted at the moment. Don’t make the same logical error that the AGWers make, sonicfrog, and blame the messenger for the message.

  18. It sort of annoyed me when I heard that Vikings had discovered America, who would have guessed that a few Nordic adventurers, leaving behind some trinkets in the 1300’s, would come to be a powerful argument debunking the strongest socialist world government power grab to date.

    First a map drawn on parchment showing a complete circumnavagable icefree island of Greenland circa 1400. This map is so damaging to the notion that today’s weather is exceptional that the climate change coalition refuses to acknowledge it’s authenticity to this day.
    I’m shuffling through back copies of National Geographic and stumble on Eskimo and Viking Finds in the High Arctic by Peter Schledermann in the May 1981 issue.
    From the article, Dr. Peter Schledermann, during an archeologic dig of an ancient Inuit village, finds chainmail, cloth, and metal bits from a Viking ship, on Ellesmere Island – locked in year round icepack today. The Viking artifacts are carbon dated to the 14th century.
    Just on a hunch, I googled the doctor’s name. Found this article from the New York Times. (Check the third page)
    So not only is the map most likely genuine, it is an undisputed fact that Viking sailors plied ice free waters around the entire Island of Greenland in the 14th century.
    Tadocha.

  19. Froggie — “The first, a report about 3000 ocean temp sensors recording a slight cooling trend in the worlds oceans, which is contrary to AGW, got almost no, if any airtime.”

    I heard this on NPR yesterday morning, I thought it was fairly impressive hearing the reporter and scientist wondering what happened or where the heat might have gone. At least NPR covered it. I sent the URL, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88520025 , to Joe D’Aleo and he put it on Icecap. Argo also recorded a 0.5″ rise in ocean levels, that should not be ignored. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071029172833.htm for a mostly unrelated Argo story.

  20. I’m an interested, but untrained, observer in the AGW debate, so if these questions seem out-of-date, or silly, please forgive me; but let me know!

    1) If human activity is the major cause of GW, why did the polar caps on Mars start to shrink in the mid 1970’s (the same time ours started)?

    2) The greenhouse gas models don’t seem to fit history. The ice core data shows that over a very long period of time, changes in atmospheric CO2 levels lag average surface temperatures by 800 to 1400 years. Why should we believe that CO2 levels cause GW?

  21. Great Post by Dr Spencer! Keep up the great work.

    To paraphrase John Davison (with a twist)

    “Mankind fiddles while Earth does whatever the hell it wants”

  22. Ric Werme (20:23:22) says
    “Argo also recorded a 0.5″ rise in ocean levels, that should not be ignored.”

    The sea level meaurements are a different source and reported in the IPCC. However, there are a number of different scientific opinions on sea level measurements – some estimate the sea level rise to be no more than a 1/4″ over the same period.

    In other words, there is no reason to believe the argos are wrong and the sea level measurements are right. Given what has been happening with global temperatures I would say the argos are most likely right and the IPCC sea level measurements are wrong.

  23. Hmmmm …

    Spencer says, “I am not claiming that all of our recent warming is natural. But the extreme reluctance for most scientists to even entertain the possibility that some of it might be natural suggests to me that climate research has become corrupted.”

    He is the one being sloppy by this nefarious distortion.

    I would ask him to find a scientist who does not recognise underlying natural causes. What a lot of them are saying is that CO2 is is a major driver to this latest round of GW. This is where the AGW debate should be focussed, including but not limited to “climate sensitivity”.

  24. Further to my note on Mother Nature taking a hand I found the last graph of annual global temperatures at HADCRUT ( not a skeptic site) and find it incomprehensible that alarm bells are not ringing everywhere .

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/climon/data/themi/g17.htm

    If this was a business profit graph you’d be sending for the consultant. If the stockmarket had a graph like this it would cause huge amounts of concern around the world. Do you think for one minute an exchange announcement that their computer models show there is nothing to worry about would stop the panic.
    However for people worried about AGW it is good news indeed.
    WE should now be thinking about planning a world celebration for averted disaster . It is a little early for the champagne yet however but it should be on ice.
    Now I am not a climatologist but a retired electronics engineer but simple temperature graphs are easy to read and this is the type of empirical evidence that is hard for anyone to refute.

  25. Neil Gibson says, “Now I am not a climatologist but a retired electronics engineer but simple temperature graphs are easy to read and this is the type of empirical evidence that is hard for anyone to refute.”

    I totally agree. What needs to happen is for empirical data of this kind to find its way into the mainstream media. Unfortunately news media (and their readerships) seem to thrive on the kind of disaster scenarios peddled by the IPCC and consequently a balanced debate will probably have to wait until the gulf between the AGW hypothesis and the actual recorded data reaches scandalous proportions……..Given that the planet itself is, unsurprisingly, a passive supporter of the empirical evidence, I don’t think we have much longer to wait!

    Remember y2k anyone?

  26. I have a book on my shelves which I bought 25 years ago. In it a learned man from the UK met office declared that man may be heating the planet through the discharge of CO², I did not believe then and I don’t believe now. 2 physics degres and multiple engineering qualifications later.

    Any system that is at all very sensitive, and all systems are naturallly sensitive / unstable, will demonstrate high volatillity without some negative / damping feedback. This planet has remained within + or – 5 – 10 °C (probably) for about 3000,000,000 years. The ice ages appeared with the change in configuration of the land masses when Antactica arrived at the south pole and the north pole was blocked in by the continents. There absolutely has to be some major feedback mechanism(s) which has maintained our climate within these confortable bounds.

    We are a miniscule gnat on the backside of a massive beast which we will NEVER control but will surely bites us back every so often.

  27. “And after making some important assumptions about how clouds and water vapor (the main greenhouse components of the atmosphere) respond to the extra carbon dioxide, scientists can explain all of the recent warming.”

    Actualy, dr Spencer, they can’t (I know you know that, my comment is not intended to inform you).
    They need a third basic component to slow down the high sensitivity of their GCMs: aerosol!

  28. OzDoc,

    Perhaps because the media has been reporting it that way

    Even the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers that gets reported on in the media focuses almost exclusively on human induced and ignores most natural causes.

    I seem to recall an editor for a major science journal (I can’t remember the name, perhaps Anthony knows) saying that all skeptical research of human caused global warming would not be published.

    We see time after time these so-called skeptical scientists running into resistance when trying to publish. A recent article about a NASA scientist that quit when he tried to publish his research that showed that the basic greehouse equations were wrong (A huge discovery, if correct). He had to publish his research in his own countries science publication.

    It’s easy to understand Dr Spencer’s frustration.

  29. Although I respect what he’s tried to do with this article, I believe Spencer needs to study sunspots and how well solar activity has tracked, and continues to track earth’s climate. AGW is utter garbage, nonsense, which he doesn’t seem to quite get. Man’s effect on climate is more of the local variety, as in the urban heat island effect, and from deforestation. His effect on global climate is negligible.

  30. These are strange times. I’m a sceptic who takes Arrhenius’ original view that increased Co2 and a warmer climate is beneficial to humanity and the planet as a whole, but now find myself counting sunspots and checking ENSO websites in the hope that a signifcant cooling trend will appear that might then derail the AGW train, whilst I have no doubt that the AGW community, who claim to want a colder world, instead of celebrating the recent decline in global temperatures, are desperately hoping in fact that the warming trend will reappear.

    As I shiver through a bitterly cold Easter here in the UK, I dread the thought of another LIA, but unfortunately can’t see any other way that the AGW juggernaut can ever be brought to a halt.

  31. What is this! A cry for pity and sympathy? A Good Friday eulogy?
    I’m so disappointed.

    1.
    “Politicians have also jumped aboard the Global Warming Express, and this train has no brakes.”

    C’mon, cheer up a little. There is no reason to be so down. It’s just a matter of time before these hasty lunatics overplay their hand. They already are.
    It’s all built on a house of cards. This train is going to derail.

    2.
    “I predict that there will be no announcement from the scientific community that they were wrong. There will simply be silence.”

    You’re right. But not silence from us! I’m looking forward to rubbing their smirky smart-ass faces IN IT day after day after day after day, for years and years to come.

    3.
    “It is unfortunate that our next generation of researchers and teachers is being taught to trust emotions over empirical evidence.”

    I predict many of these young scientists are going to wake up and see how they were duped and manipulated, and cross over to our side. When you put a bunch of charlatans in one room, it’s just a matter of time before they start
    turning on each other. We are only about 0.5°C away from that.

    4.
    “I fear that no amount of evidence will be able to counter what everyone now considers true.”

    Ohhhhh…it’s all so hopeless, sob sob sob…
    Sorry for being so mean today. But c’mon.

    Anthony,
    In the future, please find someone who can deliver something other than just a we’re-all-beaten-and-there’s-no-more-hope sob story. I you ask this as a charitable donater to your cause.

    Mr Spencer,
    With all due respect, you do need a long vacation, or a new line of work.
    And I do hope your new book does not have the same eulogy in it.

    Have a nice Good Friday.

  32. randomengineer: I don’t think it was debunked. Didn’t the correction just reduce the cooling? I don’t believe it eliminated it. See link. That correction was made to data that ended in 2005. I believe the report the sonic frog is referring to is more recent.

    http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=eta16q&s=3

  33. OzDoc — (I would ask him to find a scientist who does not recognise underlying natural causes. )

    He’s correct. The general position is that GW is unnatural and caused solely by human emissions, which is why the correlation is made between CO2 and fossil fuels in the first place. A great deal of time and effort has been spent claiming that the sun (via measurement of TSI) is relatively constant and not a factor. It’s why GW is generally referred to as Anthropogenic as in AGW. It’s why the GCM’s are created to model the effects of CO2. Meanwhile, James Hansen of NASA/GISS says that it’s all human created and just floated a paper suggesting that we’ve already exceeded the “safe” CO2 concentration and we must NOW work to back CO2 down to < 350 ppmv (it’s now at 385 ppmv.)

    About the only thing supporting your contention is that there are *some* official positions that reference GW as “substantially” or “largely” human caused rather than solely, which essentially is weasel-wording; when you read these position statements (like TWC’s) you come away with the distinct impression that they really think it’s “solely” but carefully wording it so as to hedge the bet slightly. They’ll then claim this is due to the 2 sigma error of the predictions (95%) being the source of “substantially” as opposed to the slam dunk of “solely.” If the predictions had tighter error bars nobody would bother with the weasel wording.

    Some people read the weasel wording and conclude that “largely” translates to “mostly human but with some natural.” Nope.

    So make no mistake. The general position is “solely” even if decorum and tradition requires them to say “largely.”

  34. Bob — (randomengineer: I don’t think it was debunked. Didn’t the correction just reduce the cooling? )

    What I was referring to was a tidbit at CA where there was a flurry of *recent* activity to “debunk” the cooling contention. Note the scare quoting please. :-)

  35. AGW Scoffer — (“It is unfortunate that our next generation of researchers and teachers is being taught to trust emotions over empirical evidence.”

    I predict many of these young scientists are going to wake up and see how they were duped and manipulated, and cross over to our side. )

    I think you’re not only incorrect but you missed his larger point. Crichton in one of his essays tracks the decline of scientific rigour and the advent of quasi-religious zeal in some quarters and reckons the Drake Equation (early 1960’s) as being the point where this change became visible.

    Drake’s “equation” is mere speculative nonsense and it’s not science. The problem is that you have at least a generation who presume that it is. I’m sure that Dr Spencer’s comment is influenced, if not by the essay, by at least the same recognition of the underlying problem — which is that the next generation is being taught by the generation who failed to put a halt to Drake and those like him.

  36. AGWscoffer (05:49:30) :
    “Mr Spencer,
    With all due respect, you do need a long vacation, or a new line of work.
    And I do hope your new book does not have the same eulogy in it.”

    Don’t be so hard on him – his scientific work will be worthy of a Nobel prize if nature proves him right. I get pretty discouraged too because it is unlikely there will ever be enough cooling to unambiguously debunk this AGW catastrophe BS. As long as there is some crumb of warming the Hansen’s of the world will cling to it and the best we can hope for is that the politicians will limit themselves token gestures on CO2 that don’t harm the economy.

  37. randomengineer and sonicfrog,

    Bob Tisdale is right. First, the NPR story was old and outdated (sept 06), they printed a retraction after it was revealed that a portion of the ARGO instruments were giving some faulty readings. However after removing the ARGO data from the study and relying on the older existing XBT instruments (which are faulty themselves), the authors of the study produced an update in which they state that “most” of the cooling indications were a result of the faulty equipment, indicating there was still some cooling, just not as much as was in the original report. Regardless, it does not show the oceans are warming, as the alarmists would have us believe. Over at http://www.climate-skeptic.com there is a bit of an exchange between some of the commenters on this.

  38. Couldn’t agree more, AGWScoffer (today, 05:49:30).

    The consensus appears to be that the AGW-ers can’t be stopped. Although not wishing to appear a “Contrarian”, might I suggest that the consensus view – even of experts – isn’t always the correct one?

    Anyone who tells you that the science is settled, and that they know WITHOUT DOUBT what is causing Global Warming, is digging a hole for themselves. The AGW-ers are going to wake up one day, and find themselves buried. Hubris is a fatal flaw which is inevitably punished, and that’s what will get them in the end – unless they learn to distinguish between science and dogma.

    And it’ll be no good, if they do turn out to be wrong, to claim that Global Cooling is the new Global Warming. They’re staking their reputations on the absolute CERTAINTY of CO2 driven warming. If they turn out to be wrong they will be well and truly – how can I put this politely? – up the creek without a paddle.

  39. TR — (…the authors of the study produced an update in which they state that “most” of the cooling indications were a result of the faulty equipment, indicating there was still some cooling, just not as much as was in the original report. )

    The recent CA post I’d tried to recall from memory (and alluded to earlier) had the point of there being corrections based on faulty equipment thus suggesting that these cancelled out the cooling. Silly me, I thought this was the latest word.

    In which case, I stand corrected (and gladly so.) Thanks!

    Does this place rock, or what?

  40. “Politicians have also jumped aboard the Global Warming Express, and this train has no brakes.”

    What? At least in the U.S. we have the opportunity to fire the the politicians every 2, 4 or 6 years. Just wait until they really start to reach into our pockets for this stuff. All we need is the will to toss ’em all out and start over.

  41. Raven,
    Having read what I wrote, maybe I was a little too hard on him.

    Randomengineer,
    Again, we only need a few cold years, and the phonies will be bolting for the exits. Science goes in cycles, reason to madness, madness to reason. We’ve seen it with eugenics, lobotomy etc. It’ll be the same here with GW.

  42. from http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,339831,00.html

    “Just this week the Environmental Protection Agency issued its economic analysis of the Lieberman-Warner global warming bill that is being considered by the Senate. The EPA projects that if the bill is enacted the size of our economy as measured by its gross domestic product would shrink by as much as $2.9 trillion by the year 2050.”

    Never underestimate government’s ability to be stupid.

  43. I think that those who are saying that the Argo findings are “debunked” are confusing a well-publicized correction that occurred a couple of years ago, when there appeared to be a significant cooling in the ocean heat content from 2003 – 2005. Roger Pielke Sr. highlighted the original data, before it was revealed that a error was found that removed all of the cooling, but still showed no warming in that period.

    This is new (2008) data, that incorporates the correction, and is based on what is now 5 years of buoy data (from 2003 to 2008). That is why it is coming out now. And it is showing a slight cooling over that 5 year period.

  44. “Remember y2k anyone?”

    I remember. And that’s part of the odd thing about CAGW. There are tons of reasonably smart laypeople who are not experts at anything, but have lived long enough to know the warning signs of a scam.

    Meanwhile, a lot of the scientists have a lot invested in CAGW being true and their judgment has been corrupted.

    So many people have told me that I’m not qualified to criticize these scientists.

  45. What is the difference between the WEST and the EAST?

    In the EAST you get fake gurus who lie to the people.

    In the WEST you get fake scientists who lie to the people.

    Only difference? YES!!

    Because both groups do it for the MONEY!!!

    Just as you get fake gurus (there are real ones also, but not many) going around spreading their ‘message’ and collecting money from stupid people because they dont have a real job or any income at all, you also get fake scientists creating a financial income from ideas they get from God knows where, unleashing it onto unsuspecting public who is minding its own business anyway.

    “A stupid man can ask more questions a wise man can answer”

    Thank you Mr Spencer

    eklagvirjulle@live.co.za

  46. Aaron, Thanks! That clarification really helped.

    OzDoc: I think Dr. Spencer is more right than wrong on the willingness of climate scientists to entertain countervailing views. See page 665 of IPCC’s FAR.

    This is a philosophical thread, so I am adding a philosophical observation. It can be a stimulating discussion of how the scaremongering of AGW ends. History gives us a variety of options. One possibility is the Nifong phenomenon where blame is heaped on one person or a few people. Another scenario is the Y2K experience where people soon forget and no one is held accountable. A third parth is the Ruby Ridge precedent where the authorities quietly say “I guess we were wrong, and here is $3.3 million to soothe your pain.” Nevertheless, I believe a fourth option is more likely, and for that I draw upon the field of Economics. Unlike another profession we all know about, economists are quite humble and apologetic about their models. Yet, there is one issue on which economists have genuine consensus: minimum wage is bad policy — it has unintended consequences in lowering employment among the poor, enriching wealthy suburban families, and perpetuating poverty by giving incentives to drop out of school. (Most economists would agree with the goal of minimum wage and point to better ways to do it.) Nevertheless, yet despite these observations, the political realities mean that we continue with minimum wage increases. With academia, the media-entertainment industry, and bureaucracies soliding into AGW, I believe we will live with the fourth option in this information-driven society.

  47. Saad said: “What will take longer to fix, however, is the damage done to the credibility of the scientific community. Perhaps in the end the AGW debacle will serve to reform the peer review process and herald a return to theose halcyon days when hypotheses were viewed with healthy scepticism until thoroughly and verifiably tested.”

    I’ve been wondering about this too … the AGW push is so strong and it shows up everywhere. So many people already distrust what is published by the MSM and what they say scientists think…it could create a really nasty and long term backlash against science and reason.

  48. When I first read about the Argo sea temperature results I thought, “Well what’s new? All the other global indicators show a slight cooling over the last five years, so what do NASA expect?” I expected that that alarmist response would be the usual one that “Five years is much too short a time to see a trend.”

    However on reflection I realise that I was competely missing the point and this story really does seem to be extremely important. In fact it could be the most important piece of research yet against the AGW theory.

    The point of a survey of the sea temperature that has 3,000 robots measuring the temperature as far down 3,000 feet below the surface, is to examine the amount of heat stored in the sea. We know that the majority of the surface of the earth is covered by sea, and because the specific heat of sea water is greater than that of land it is clear that the sea is far and away the only big potential store of incoming heat.

    If the average global temperatures of air above land is not rising as expected despite increased factors caused by human activities, then a plausible explanation could be that the extra heat is being stored in the sea – perhaps currents or circulation have somehow pushed it well below the surface, so that while we might have a temporary break from warmer temperatures on land the heat will eventually be released and we shall be warmer than ever in years to come. These findings make that explanation impossible.

    If the Argo results are correct then the AGW crowd really do have explaining to do. Their theory tells us that all the extra CO2 in the atmosphere should be warming the planet. The surface weather in the last ten years has not shown any global warming – and if the heat is not being stored in the sea then where has it gone?

  49. agwscoffer

    you are being a little too harsh on Dr Spencer. Remember, the one about the pessimist and the realist?

    Dr Spencer is a realist and unlist many of us commenters here he has been in the thick of this argumant for some time. No doubt he has been rebuffed time and time again. I fully understand his reasoning, because that’s is what it is. There are absolutely huge sums of money at stack here. Gore doesn’t fly around the world on peanuts, even Jimmy Carter’s. None of these AGW climate ‘scientists’ are going to give up easily and you are hoping a great deal if you think the climate is going to change suddenly and for long enough to convince the unscientific joe and Jane public that the media, the government and the scientisare all wrong. No, Dr Spencer is right but I don’t believe for one second that he has given up the argument.

    WATCH THIS SPACE

  50. Dr. Spencer, your basic argument is that there is more “slop” in the predictions than “consensus” climate scientists are inclined to admit. Okay fine. And in the role of “devil’s advocate” you argue only one side of that slop. That’s fine too — assuming you only wish to fulfill the role of devil’s advocate. But if you wish to fulfill the role of “impartial scientist”, and make the argument you present, shouldn’t you acknowledge the existence of the other side of the slop? If you don’t do that, it seems to me fair to suggest you are being either disingenuous or subject to your own biases. Alternatively, if you do, then at the very least you have to address the possibility that what could happen might actually be worse than predicted by the mainstream “consensus”.

    You claim that “there is no solid published evidence that has ruled out a natural cause for most of our recent warmth.” Depending upon your definition of “solid”, perhaps so. But whatever that definition is, I think it is fair to say that by the same standard (whatever it is) there is also no solid published evidence concluding that natural causes are, either. You talk about “decadal time scales”, and ask us to rely on the possibility that the climate really isn’t as sensitive as most others suggest. Well… what if you’re wrong?

    That’s the dilemma most lay people have when trying to make sense of the scientific data. I’m sure the same is true of our elected leaders as well. Either way, superimposed on the climate science are other considerations that intersect with it. We have economic concerns, and national security concerns, both of which require a far-sighted approach of a time horizon which only government policy can provide, and whose solutions dovetail to a large degree. In that respect, unless we suffer a global recession, and/or unless we develop alternative sources post haste, we are very likely facing an increased demand for fossil fuels that almost everyone of any import suggests will outstrip supply. But it’s even more than that: whether the causes for the development are perceived to be real or imagined, the fact is that a gigantic demand has developed for “clean” energy technologies. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. And to the first ones across that finish line will go the spoils. It thus appears to me that the weight of “proof” falls far more heavily in your lap and those of like mind who wish to perpetuate the status quo than it does those who advocate rapid change.

  51. Dr. Spencer and randomengineer are right, I am afraid. This will not end peacefully or soon, even if AGW doomsayers are completely wrong.

    Assume that the IPPC revises it’s estimates downwards a little, thanks to “better models”. (They have done so in the past at least twice.)

    Now assume that CO2 plus land use causes warming on the order of 1 degree. (as most here suspect)

    Finllay, assume the AGWers pull just one more “new factor” to depress short term warming. (EG: PDO amplitude adjustment, cooling for Chinese coal consumption, or hitherto unknown magical “heat storage” in the deep ocean.)

    If these thing comes to pass, how long will it take to falsify the Catastrophic-AGW theory? Flat temperatures for 30 years will not do it. A mild drop for 15 would not convince them. About the only thing that would really change the minds of the ippc chairmembers is a temperature drop so large that it would be devastating to crops and people. (Oh wait, we had that this winter).

    Listen to what they are saying at RC now. approx quote from memory:”To deny AGW is to deny a hundred years of physics” “It’s the physics stupid.” The people controlling the movement really believe that physics compels them to believe their models. They are essentially unwilling to even tell us what evidence would make them change their opinions. These people will not be deterred by a few years of cooler weather.

    Off topic: walking across the campus the other day I say two flyer’s posted back-to-back on a glass door. One was a call to action to stop global warming, the other a plea for funds to help the victims of cold in China. That was symbolic for me.

  52. I enjoy reading Roy Spencer’s thoughts very much. And I too was surprised by the relative pessimistic tone. I can only think that Roy is possibly overdue a vacation. It can’t be easy being out there in the vanguard and getting personally abused off all the time. Thanks for doing it Roy !

    Personally I view the unabashed grab for the levers of the world economy by the AGW enthusiasts to be the scariest thing I have ever seen in my lifetime. That being so I personally stand my ground every day when confronted by AGW propaganda and am working on converting people to the opposite persuasion one by one if necessary.

    We can’t let them get a free pass now can we ?

    I am actually cheered by recent events. It is a rare and wonderful thing to have a front row seat while a great experiment plays out in front of us. If Joe Bastardi is correct and we have flipped to a predominantly La Nina pattern, if solar activity remains low and the earth continues to cool then it’s game set and match to us realists and the end of the game for the alarmists.

    I think that victory for fact based science is in sight and that our best days are most definitely ahead of us.

  53. With 70% of the world covered by water, and 97% of this is salt water to me this means there is one hell of a lot of pluses and minuses to consider before you could say that the oceans are heating up, or, cooling down.
    With all the weather sensors we have on land and the thousands of people reading weather instruments each day we can,on land not tell what is happening 24 hour away. Now we don’t even know what is happening in the ‘Central African Republic’ hot, cold, rain, drought? ( because the only thermometer was lost up the Presidents backside) but we can tell what the temperatures are doing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean 4 miles down. I would be willing to bet big money that whoever did the calculation on ocean temp. has not even heard of ‘hydrothermal vents’ and the effects they have on keeping our planet temp. in line.
    Giving a temp. reading on the worlds oceans is in par of calculating the amount of oxygen particles in a hurricane.

  54. Globally, politicians, motivated by the AGWers, are doing their best to waste a few trillion dollars before rationality returns to climate science. As Bjorn Lomberg has frequently stated, there are many more pressing and beneficial
    purposes to spend some of this money now.

    There are many places where there is insufficient water and many more where the water is unsanitary. See:

    http://www.physorg.com/news125161487.html

    that demonstrates the urgency of problem and scope of the need for adequate supplies of potable water.
    It should be obvious that AGW is a misplaced priority.

  55. ‘Remember y2k anyone?”

    I’m still finding it dificult to believe that, even IF there was a real problem there, not ONE single line of coding out of- what, tens of trillions?- was missed, Anywhere.

    I did however enjoy it when the very first nation to be reached by the time change, turned out All the lights for couple-a-three seconds, before they started the fireworks.

  56. Rico (12:19:45) says:
    “You talk about “decadal time scales”, and ask us to rely on the possibility that the climate really isn’t as sensitive as most others suggest. Well… what if you’re wrong?”

    What if a massive earthquake hits LA?
    What if a 1km meteor hits NYC?

    Answer: we adapt. We will have time. A wealthier society in the future will be better able to adapt to changes than a poorer one. 4 hurricanes hit Florida with almost no one dies. 1 cyclone hits bangladesh and 1000s die. Wealth is the difference.

    The idea that we should engage in a massive social engineering experiment because some models same we might have a problem 100 years from now is ridiculous.

    BTW – “clean” energy from a CO2 perspective is often extremely dirty in other ways. Look at nuclear or the toxic waste produce whenever a solar cell or lithium battery is produced or discarded. So the “clean” argument argument is a non-argument.

  57. Pablo: If Joe Bastardi is correct and we have flipped to a predominantly La Nina pattern, if solar activity remains low and the earth continues to cool then it’s game set and match to us realists and the end of the game for the alarmists.

    If Joe is wrong, then what? And even if he’s partially right, what about supply vs. demand? What about who we’re getting the supply from? What about the cost of that supply relative to the supply of other sources? If contemplated in a different way, how much of those “other sources” could be supplied domestically and how much not, according to one or another economic model? I have to say that unless one embraces the most optimistic scientific scenario (which is to say, GHGs don’t matter) while rejecting all others, AND unless one embraces the most pessimistic economic scenario (which is to say innovation cannot have any effect) while rejecting all others, AND unless one embraces the most optimistic national security scenario (which is to say the current turmoil in the Middle East, Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria, and elsewhere will all subside really quickly) while rejecting all others, things don’t look good. To repeat… unless you embrace ALL OF THOSE SCENARIOS, not just one or two, then what?? Well, in short, it isn’t game, set, match. And if you think it is, you aren’t much of a realist.

  58. whether the causes for the development are perceived to be real or imagined, the fact is that a gigantic demand has developed for “clean” energy technologies.
    And by “clean” energy you mean what, exactly? I’m guessing you mean, as all AGWers do, non-C02 producing. And this “demand” you speak of is driven by – of course, AGW propaganda, “carbon trading” carbon credits” and a whole host of scams being perpetrated by the AGW fraud.

    the weight of “proof” falls far more heavily in your lap and those of like mind who wish to perpetuate the status quo than it does those who advocate rapid change.
    Wrong, Rico. The AGW hypothesis is so riddled with holes now that it’s a joke, scientifically. As far as your “status quo” and “rapid change” goes, that’s just politicospeak, and means about as much from you as it does from any politician.

  59. However on reflection I realise that I was competely missing the point and this story really does seem to be extremely important. In fact it could be the most important piece of research yet against the AGW theory.

    I totally agree.

    These findings make that explanation impossible.

    It’s actually more than that, in my opinion.

    Per Warren Meyer, one can do a back-of-the-envelope calculation to get an upper bound for climate sensitivity to CO2 simply by looking at the total increases in temperature and CO2 over the last 100 years or so. The resulting upper bound (which assumes that all temperature increase is due to CO2) is quite low.

    Alarmists get around this problem by hypothesizing a “thermal inertia,” i.e. that a lot of the extra heat is deposited in the oceans to come back and haunt us 30 or 40 years down the road. If the oceans are not warming, it suggests — at a minimum — that the climate is not very sensitive to CO2. Which means there won’t be a catastrophe.

  60. Which means there won’t be a catastrophe.

    Even assuming that warming over the past 100 years was all due to CO2

  61. ‘Remember y2k anyone?`

    Yeah, that was the last time anything I submitted was posted. Just kidding.

    I’m new here. And maybe it’s just me. But there does seem to be a very long lag between what is submitted and what is posted. Wattsupwiththat?

  62. I appreciate all the work of Dr. Spencer and his crew, dealing with the satellite data. Thanks also to Anthony and his project for trying to get ground stations to comply with minimal standards. Anthony, do you know anyone who is involved with the ocean heat monitoring projects? How about a guest editorial from someone who covers that angle?

    It seems to me that trillions of dollars and the future of Earth’s economy rest upon what the next US President decides to think and do about “climate change.” At this time, the science is largely–but not completely–irrelevant. George Bush listens to Lindzen and a few other scientists, and Bush is the only thing currently standing between total holy-warmer-mania and the taxpayers of the developed world. If the next POTUS decides to go with the flow and join the climate orthodoxy, the science becomes completely irrelevant.

    REPLY: Maybe Kennth Trenberth…I’ll ask.

  63. The problem is that those who believe in AGW are so anxious for their belief to be shown to be true that they are willing to distort the historical climate records and the results of their studies/models.

    Those of us on the other side of the debate are just as anxious for our side to be proven true. The debate has become an US versus THEM tribal conflict with lots of emotion thrown in.

    It seems to be basic human nature in that the US versus THEM instinct and the desire to be proven right is just so innate in our reactions and in this debate that it has overwhelmed whatever facts are actually available and whatever facts are actually proven to be true.

    But science and the scientific method was designed to stop our basic human nature from overwhelming the FACTS. The double blind placebo controlled studies with “do not harm above all” in the health sciences has been spectacular successful because it recognizes basic human nature can sometimes lead us down the wrong path. This principle has taken the health sciences from the bleeding of the 16th century to the truly effective health system and truly effective health treatments of today.

    Roy Spencer’s article is really a double blind placebo controlled “do not harm above all” statement in regards to climate science. Too bad the AGW crowd cannot hear the message. Too bad the scientific method is not the first principle used in climate science (since basic human nature has overwhelmed it.)

    Time for a placebo.

  64. Anthony,

    Kennth Trenberth is firmly in the AGW is a catastrophe camp and would likely insist that the ocean temps are wrong and need to be ‘corrected’ like the surface record. I would much rather hear from Josh Willis who produced the orginal report.

    Rico says:
    “What about who we’re getting the supply from? What about the cost of that supply relative to the supply of other sources? If contemplated in a different way, how much of those “other sources” could be supplied domestically and how much not, according to one or another economic model?”
    You are mixing up issues again. The US environment CO2 regulations are likely to increase dependence on foreign oil because the supplies in tar sands and oil supplies north america are too ‘dirty’.
    If energy security is the issue then coal and nuclear is the way to go. Forget about GHGs.
    Even renewables like solar would require massive imports from places like China since they are so expensive to make.

  65. Raven, part of the problem with Bangladesh is that there is so much low-lying area in the Ganges Delta that is cultivatable that people populate it illegally. Then, thousands die when the waters predictably rise. There is another similar area on earth with predictable cyclical natural holocausts, and that is the south edge of the Sahara, where a few seasons with more moisture leave a new population vulnerable to the next drought. I thought these were the only two places on earth with regular natural calamities until someone mentioned floods in the Chinese river valleys. The press of population will, even against law and sense, populate vulnerable ecological niches. It’s too bad.
    ========================================

  66. Another one may well be cyclic climate change. If we are headed into decades of cooling, millions may starve and freeze. Even a 5% die-off of the human race is 350 million people, and the silly elites pushing carbon capping are deluded to think they can dodge the effects of such a holocaust. If carbon, which could slightly warm, and voluminously feed people, is unnecessarily encumbered, there will be hell to pay.

    Already carbon capping schemes are straining relations between developed and undeveloped nations. Why shouldn’t diplomats be the most sensitive to the oncoming understanding that the globe is cooling, and that the role of CO2 in climate has been tragically exaggerated. There are already casualties of this mass delusion, but I am hopeful that the worst effects of unnecessary demonization of carbon will be avoided.

    It is ironic to be hoping for a cooler world and a more fragile niche for humans, merely to avoid the insanity of carbon capping. Why couldn’t we figure this out without the need for the world to get cold to convince us. It is dismaying, indeed. What scientists we have turned out to be.
    ===================

  67. All i can say is if we open our eyes and mind a bit we would understand that the universe is just full of material constituents that PUSH each other ….. it’s a universe full of pushers. The over-riding question relates to what drives changes creating derivatives so just what are the biggest pushers and what becomes a derivative or product of the process? Most people in the AGW debate (Roy included) cannot see outside the troposphere and hence see only the product.

    The biggest pusher in our part of the world is good old sunnyboy. Whilst we can study sun spot numbers I find that it is the aa index of geomagnetic activity that gives the best indication of what has happened since 1884. Does it occur to anyone that poor old sunnyboy is, to use the current parlance, guilty and the sinner but hasn’t been put on trial yet?

    Our production of CO2 is puny in the scheme of things but this means little to try-hards who believe they are the weather maker or opportunist bankers or spivs wanting to make big money out of thin air.

  68. RE: Kim ‘s comment. It is truly sad. Right at the point where the future was on the verge of opening up, in a way that would have accelerated quality of life, as we always do, us fallible humans lost our nerve, and started to worship trees and rocks like primitive societies. We imagined a fragile Earth. We will be stuck on the rock for a very long time, based on the fact that advancement is slowing. Woe unto us, if we are still stuck here, as the interglacial ends. Or worse …

  69. Rico, you seem to be following the questionable McCain logic – “it is good to pursue the AGW (alarmist) agenda because even if they are wrong we benefit from being less dependent of foreign oil.” I really wish that more people could understand what is at stake here. Many AGW critics focus on the monetary cost of the AGW agenda; but issues go beyond GDP. Dependency on foreign oil increases because we will import oil rather than using our coal. Environmental progress is threatened – see the how the HFC 23 scandal in Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism undermines the Montreal Protocol. Also, carbon leakage is part of Kyoto activities and will be part of post-Kyoto agreements. In addition, we have already seen industry “blackmailing” European governments on carbon credits. If it was difficult for the UN to administer the Food for Peace program, wait until you see what happens in world-wide cap and trade programs!

  70. Alan D. McIntire: Good suggestion. I’ve ordered his book!

    (Maybe we must look at this from a social/cultural perspective too, and I suggest that writers start to prepare the novel about the climate fraud within science and politics, just as the Information Technology hype on the stock markets around year 2000 was described in novels. The phenomenon is a social one too — where emotions and interests of power/money “is working” — which should be explored and researched. If the AGW-hype is established as a topic in our culture e.g. in novels, maybe social science just can’t avoid this? If the mechanisms in this hype is unwrapped, then we maybe can avoid further fraud in the future?)

  71. I like the placebo idea. Just build a giant Tesla/Lenzen/Iris tower, to “bleed off” the extra nonexistent heat. (Tesla junk ideas always appeal to liberal cranks – that’s why I affixed his name to it)

    Then tell the global warmers we fixed it.

    Unwashed libbie says, “Hey man. It’s too hot here, in Brazos County.”
    “Oh our bad Brazos. We had the freostat set to neutral dispersion. We’ll tune it to the zeta band frequency, and that should do the trick”, answers Climate Control in Wyoming.
    “Brrrr – hey that worked.” says libbie.

    It’s not as if they cared about science anyway.

  72. Rico, stop trying to conflate legitimate concerns about energy such as supply/demand, cost, innovation etc. with the phantom concern about AGW. It is is a typical climate hysteric tactic, is disingenuous, and won’t work here. Nice try, though.

  73. AGW? Natural event? The science of today (probably in times past, off and on) has become an industry. Not a science (pursuit of knowledge). As any industry requires there must be a measurable quantity of “productivity”. This productivity is manipulated – administrated worldwide by politicians. All through monetary handouts – creating academic kingdoms.

    Regardless to the outcome of this climate debate, allowing “kingdoms” to flourish within a sanctuary of “pursuit of knowledge” is dark and sinister to any concept of liberty.

    Tempering academic kingdoms is thru free-thinking magnets of people and places as Watts Up With That. This does not fix a really large boil.

  74. What if decreased cloud cover has been what is causing CO2? Warming at just the very upper most surface, combined with circulation moving high CO2 content water there will change the equilibrium, preventing absoption and increasing release.

  75. Dear Rico,

    I must admit that I had to read your reply to my post twice to get the point of what you were saying as measured against the context of what I had written.

    My comments were merely about the “science” of AGW being put into the Round File should certain things come to pass. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Given the downside of a cold climate it shows the paucity of the choices we have to get people to see reason, and to therefore save ourselves from the alarmist agenda, if we are hoping that it gets colder and stays that way for a while. And yet that’s exactly what I am hoping will happen. Be careful what you wish for eh ?

    Instead of wasting resources on “solving” mythical problem we’d be better employed drilling for oil and building nuclear and coal fired power plants. We should also immediately suspend the use of food crops being turned into fuel and build up the emegency food stocks.

    However we can’t do that, yet.

  76. I wonder what will happen now that ten times as many students are studying climatoilogy? I bet there are hordes of grad students out there just itching to bring down the currently worshipped icons! I think this current “phase” is pretty much going so sink under the weight of accumulated science.

  77. It disturbs me greatly when I see him derided on other blogs.

    He can wear it like a badge of honor.

    (They even had a go at me on Heidi Cullen’s blog, which I find most gratifying . If I get real lucky, maybe I can find a way to get “decertified”.)

  78. Time to face the facts. Old Farmer’s Almanc boost of being right 85% of the time. That’s far better than any type of playstation based on CO2.

    Has anyone actually run that correlation? Is it possible, given the parameters?

    The other story, about how the flora and fauna are emerging from spring and blooming earlier than they did thirty years ago due to… drumroll please… man made global warming, was all over the new this morning

    I don’t suppose it has occurred to anyone to report that this shows how well and easily nature can adapt to even a slight shift in temperatures? (I didn’t think so.)

    This map is so damaging to the notion that today’s weather is exceptional that the climate change coalition refuses to acknowledge it’s authenticity to this day.

    I don’t buy AGW, but I sure as heck don’t buy the Vinland map, either. Too many strikes against it.

    –Anatase in the ink. (Princess Anatase II?)
    –A Mercator projection fifty years before Mercator projected jack.
    –The Vikings never explored above the 70th parallel.
    –90% of maps discovered in that period have later been proven to be forgeries. It was standard practice to cop blank pages from old books and use them for forgeries (it was a mini-industry at the time).

    From what I can tell, the Kensington Stone is a considerably better bet (and has several strikes going for it rather than against it).

  79. Its funny how many comments in here contain something similar to “one day the AGW’s are going to wake up and find themselves buried or find that thy were wrong and oohhhh they will be sorry”

    I hate to rain on some of your parades but if supporters of global warming, me included, wake up to find that they were wrong some day it will most likely have been long after serious changers were made on the industry side that helped turn us from pollution mongers into, well something far more responsible.

    You see the fight for AGW doesn’t just concern the climate. That may well be the main focus but there is a long line of positive effects that will come out of this push for a more responsible and less polluting world. So if you honestly think that people such as myself are going to be sorry if global warming ended up being incorrect then all I can say is some of you may be knowledgeable on science and weather related topics but you know nothing about people. The fight for global warming has already produced very positive effects environmentally all over the world and that will only continue as time goes on.

    By the way the fact that many of you are running around acting like recent events have proven global warming to be some kind of farce is nothing short of comical. Ill just end this with one of my favorite quotes.

    “Global warming doesn’t mean every year will be warmer than the last. And it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming.”

  80. We are only 0.5°C from bringing this house of cards down. Already there are scientists who say we are entering a cooling phase.
    The late Theodor Landscheidt predicted a LIA by 2030, meaning cooling should be starting by now. Dr Landscheidt had been correct with many of his predictions.
    Much of nature goes in cycles.

  81. pablo, Bruce, An Inquirer, et al, cut my friend Rico (and yes, he is a friend) a little slack. Having discussed this issue with him via email for nearly 2 years, I know from whence he comes, although I do not share his concern about “what if we skeptics are wrong?” I wouldn’t put him in the Alarmist camp; agnostic would be a better description. The point I believe he was trying to make, and not very well, unfortunately, is that this whole controversy represents a huge financial opportunity, not just for individuals, but for mankind. As I alluded to earlier in this thread, we are on the brink of an explosive alternative energy revolution, which, thanks to an agenda-driven media, is not very well reported.

    I read an article recently at MarketWatch that the next bubble in our seemingly bubble-driven economy will be the alternative energy bubble. And I’m not talking about grain-based ethanol and windmills; I’m talking about new, clean, efficient methods of hydrogen generation, thin-film solar panels, enhanced geothermal systems, next generation biofuels and much, much more. Currently fossil fuels represent a necessary bridge to a very bright future, and I’m not suggesting that next week or next month, or next year we’re going to cease to be an oil and coal driven global economy, but the future of clean, abundant, economical energy is coming at us at breakneck speed. There is a huge amount of money to be made, particularly as it spreads to developing countries. Were it not for this stupid argument we’re engaged in, it would be happening even sooner, and, personally, I’d like to see the United States lead the way.

    As I read recently in an article about peak oil (a long way off, BTW), like the Stone Age did not end due to the lack of stones, the Petroleum era will not end due to the lack of oil. But anyone who wants to stay on that train until the bitter end does so at their own peril and will, IMHO, end up being the poorer for it.

  82. Dear Stan

    I have no issue with new “clean” technologies. If their time is here then it’s here. All I ask is that they stand on their own two feet and not require subsidy to do so. The grain Ethanol fiasco is an excellent example of what happens when well menaing people put government money to work in an insufficiently thought through way, I view the rush to wind power in a similar light. The road to hell is paved with good intentions is it not ?

    Dear OCrush, I have yet to see a single example of the proper use of the AGW brand of greeness that has benefited the planet and it’s inhabitants. I could state many examples where it has had the opposite effect. Here are two, Grain ethanol and the pollution of waterways, biodiesel and the destruction of the rain forests, both led to a reduction in wildlife habitats.

    Keeping people poor is not a way for the world to make progress, you need to give people the opportunity for a better life. Capping CO2 doesn’t do that.

  83. I totally agree. What needs to happen is for empirical data of this kind to find its way into the mainstream media.

    Actually, I think we are beginning to see a “flattening out”. The NY Times seems to have been having second thoughts and has Tierney on the case, letting the believers down gently (and drawing considerable abuse for it).

    IYou’re right. But not silence from us!

    You got THAT right! My prediction is for MUCH NOISE.

    Besides, these science dudes don’t seem to study much history. It is held that a 50 to 100 ppm change in CO2 couldn’t happen, then recede in just a few years. And this is the main refutation of Beck.

    But what if those “few years” included WWII where the world went to allout full war production and 100 cities were blasted to smithereens, and throw in a half dozen godawful firestorms consuming entire cities (not including the A-bombs)?

    Instead, we are supposed to believe that a DIP in CO2 occurred during WWII, based on Antarctic ice cores? I think it is possible that the CO2 estimators may be the dips, here.

    we are very likely facing an increased demand for fossil fuels that almost everyone of any import suggests will outstrip supply.

    Same old same old. We are running out of oil even as we discover 2 bls for every one used. In 1975 we had 3.5 tbls “potential” reserves. Now it’s 6.4 tbls and growing. Yes, oil is “limited”. No, we are probably not even vaguely approaching those limits. (Almost everyone of any import has been totally wrong about oil supplies–ever since around 1859.)

    “We will run away from oil long before we run out f it.” (As Doc Davison would not say.)

  84. You see the fight for AGW doesn’t just concern the climate.

    I know. That why i struggle against the AGW side so hard. If India, China, and Africa are panicked into poverty for the next generation, that will 100% certain cost incredibly more lives than the worst AGW nightmare scenarios say MAY happen.

    We’re talking tens, even hundreds of millions of premature deaths. Billions condemned to lifetimes of poverty. I have to be shown that shutting down the engine of humanity is going to save more lives than it will cost. Show me that AGW, even if true, will do that much harm.

    OTOH, if man develops full speed ahead, we will develop the tech and a,ass the wealth to deal with a very severe climate crisis–if it turns out to me necessary. (The hi-tech tinfoil sheet reflector in space aopproach seems very promising, and can be undone or adjusted to beeot (unlike if we put smutz in the atmosphere, as some suggest). But we don’t have the wealth and tech to do it–yet. Don’t let’s kill that wealth!

    Until then, as Doc Davison would not say:

    “If there IS a climate crisis, mankind cannot dodge it. Our only hope is to outrun it.”

  85. As I read recently in an article about peak oil (a long way off, BTW), like the Stone Age did not end due to the lack of stones

    Good one, Stan!

  86. pablo,

    I could not agree with you more. There is, dare I say, a consensus forming that grain Ethanol is, indeed a fiasco. Already I’m reading about Ethanol plants struggling to stay in business and new plants stalled, to which I say, GOOD! IMHO, politicians who continue to support government subsidies to making fuel out of food crops should all be lined up against a wall and shot. Wind power, while not quite as egregiously bad, is a close second. Not only is it not a practical/reliable source of power in many locations, it’s horribly maintenance intensive. Have you ever driven by a large wind farm and noticed how many turbines are not moving because their gearboxes are shot? And being an avid bird watcher, windmills’ bird-shredding capacity is more than just a minor negative side effect.

    OCrush, on another blog I asked the question:

    If you were King of the World and had complete control over everything and everyone, what past climate would you attempt to duplicate, what policies would you implement to achieve that climate, and what empirical evidence can you present to show that those policies would achieve the desired results?

    Would you like to take a shot at answering it?

  87. Sorry Evan but that is the cost when the people of this planet reproduce in irresponsible numbers. Forgive me if my real concern is in the long term for both our species and all of the other species we share this planet with. Just because we are utterly irresponsible in regards to population growth does not suddenly give us the right to rape the planet just so those people may lead better lives. I dont want to see any humans suffering any more than anyone else does but I also understand that raping the planet is only going to ensure much more suffering in future generations.

    What I care most about is for mankind to become far more responsible in regards to how we treat this planet and the other life forms we share it with and if the best way to get there if from a energy revolution stemming from the Global Warming debate then I think that is a great thing no matter how right or how wrong it may be. You see your simply confusing the end game alot of supporters have. AGW may be wrong but the worst thing that comes to pass out of being wrong is improved technology and a just far more responsible way of running industry. If AGW is correct and we did nothing about it, well that would have been a far far far uglier outcome.

    If you ask me if Global Warming is real then I would say that I think its real but there is definitely a good possibility it isn’t. If you ask me whether or not I think the world will become a better place because of the changes this debate has created then I would say without a single doubt Yes and significantly so. IMO until you have irrefutable proof that AGW is not happening then you continue to proceed as if it is happening. Its the only responsible thing to do and that is speaking in regards to future generations, other organisms we share the planet with and the state of the planet in general. I have seen no such proof, not even close.

  88. I wonder what will happen now that ten times as many students are studying climatoilogy?[sic] I bet there are hordes of grad students out there just itching to bring down the currently worshipped[sic] icons! I think this current “phase” is pretty much going so sink under the weight of accumulated science.

    Or, itching to take advantage of grants for any research that propagates the GW myth.

  89. Dear Ocrush

    The population problem that the planet faces is 180 degrees about from the direction you see. Due to demographics the population will peak in around 2050 and then begin a slow decline. With good management there is enough food and resource for everyone.

    And suppose that the above is incorrect and we were to follow your model of limiting population ? Who would police it ? Under what authority ? With what means ?

    It’s a can of worms that the Communist Chinese opened already without getting the result they wanted and with a destabilizing effect on their society. And if a totalitarian state couldn’t get it done what kind of a world would it have to be done in to make it an effective policy ?

    Like I said a lot earlier, I view the grab for power of the AGW brigade to be the scariest thing I have witnessed in my lifetime.

  90. IMO until you have irrefutable proof that AGW is not happening then you continue to proceed as if it is happening. Its the only responsible thing to do and that is speaking in regards to future generations, other organisms we share the planet with and the state of the planet in general. I have seen no such proof, not even close.

    Sorry, but it’s up to those who say we’ve circumvented “natural” processes to prove it. So far we have no proof that any catastrophe is or can occur because of a slight rise in temperature.

    Why is it when a winter is warm it’s called “mild”, but when it’s very cold it’s called “rough”? Mild would seem to be better, no?

  91. Raven (14:29:50): How do you define “adapt”? It’s not a trivial question. And it is fundamentally an economic one. You indicate, “A wealthier society in the future will be better able to adapt to changes than a poorer one.” That suggests we should do what we can to ensure that America remains a wealthy society. It sounds like a good idea to me anyway, regardless of climate eventualities. So… what’s your plan?

    See, it seems to me that we are staring a gigantic economic opportunity in the face. Bruce Cobb (15:40:21) says, “The AGW hypothesis is so riddled with holes now that it’s a joke, scientifically. As far as your “status quo” and “rapid change” goes, that’s just politicospeak, and means about as much from you as it does from any politician.” As far as the “riddled with holes” part, that’s Bruce Cobb’s opinion. What I’m saying is that from an economic perspective, it doesn’t matter. Regardless of whether you accept the mainstream scientific view, as things stand now, most politicians throughout much of the world are buying into it. And regardless of what you think about politicians, they are the ones that set policy. There’s no way around it. Thus, by tying the policy to the science you are effectively ceding the upper hand to the “AGW-ers”. And that strikes me as not only counter-productive, but plain stupid.

    An Inquirer (21:27:15) opines, “Rico, you seem to be following the questionable McCain logic – “it is good to pursue the AGW (alarmist) agenda because even if they are wrong we benefit from being less dependent of foreign oil.” Maybe so. But face facts: if McCain’s logic is questionable, who’s logic is less questionable? I ask you Inquirer… if not McCain, then who? Obama? Clinton? One of those three will be the next president. On that score you have to face reality. Here’s more reality for you: the GOP has to (so far) defend 30 open seats in the House and 6 in the Senate. What does that tell you? Likewise, look around the rest of the world… where are the policy prerogatives? Do you want to follow Russia? If so, why? Even in China and India there are now big (multi-billion dollar) pushes to develop alternative energy sources. You can’t ignore all that.

    I mean come on, wake up and smell the coffee. The time is now — either seize the opportunity or be left behind. Were you following the recent WSJ-hosted Eco:nomics conference? It wasn’t a gathering of flower-smelling, tree-hugging, dirty stinkin’ hippies. It was attended by most of the heavy-weights in the US energy industry, along with several policy big-wigs. And it became clear from it (if it wasn’t before) that a considerable portion of the US energy industry is pleading politicians for better policies to allow them to more efficiently pursue “clean” energy technology. Why? Because they smell money. Buckets of it. I smell it too. I am not a tree-hugger. I am a realist — a fiscal conservative. I am also an investor — small time, to be sure — and I don’t have any big dogs in the fight. But I do sense where the wind is blowing. And it’s picking up speed. It’s gotten to the point that even the fiscal conservatives are turning on the ideological conservatives. From my perspective, from the moment it was issued the Manhattan Declaration (I assume you know what I”m talking about) was dead in the water.

    So on to bigger issues — you know, the ones that count: economic issues. Raven (17:20:30) suggests, “You are mixing up issues again. The US environment CO2 regulations are likely to increase dependence on foreign oil because the supplies in tar sands and oil supplies north america are too ‘dirty’. If energy security is the issue then coal and nuclear is the way to go.” Are you absolutely sure about that, Raven? That is to say, have you really looked into those things? While I absolutely agree that decisions on any technology should be dependent on an analysis of the entire life cycle of that technology, I also believe it’s important to consider how any technology fits in with an even broader economic trajectory in the short term, medium term and long term perspectives, and the relative opportunities they provide in those contexts. After all, we’re talking really huge issues here, and many trillions of dollars hang in the balance. Having said that, and also by way of prefacing what I’m also about to say… I don’t pretend to know all the answers. I am not formally schooled in climate science (science yes, climate science no). Neither am I an economist by training. I am at best an interested observer — but a very interested and I think reasonably knowledgeable one. You might describe me as a high-level geek, lol! Anyway, here goes…

    Tar sand extraction requires considerable investments in natural gas (which makes the economics of alternative use of that resource an issue) and water resources (which makes groundwater contamination an issue in some places). It also requires a considerable amount of surface mining in some locations (which has potential impacts on the tourist economy and brings up issues as to the best use of transportation fuels). The product is at best a low-level crude (which brings up refinery issues). In the case of nuclear power, the immediate concern is capital costs. Nuclear proponents like to point to the legal and other indirect costs associated with licensing, insuring, de-commissioning, and such. But usually the deal-killer is the cost of construction. Florida is furthest along the way to finalizing the construction of the first two nuclear plants in the US in a couple of decades. They have the capacity to produce 2.2 MW of electricity, and are projected to cost $17 billion. That’s assuming there are no construction delays (which, by the way, is expected to take 9 years to complete). But everywhere else in the world construction delays are more the rule than the exception. One reason is that there is only one plant in the world capable of producing containment vessels in one piece (it’s not the only reason, but it’s an important one). That plant is in Japan. They recently doubled their capacity — from two vessels per year to four. I leave you to do the math. For the moment I also leave you to do the math on all the various alternatives. But I think that if you really look into the economics of building, say, wind farms, or concentrated solar (solar thermal), or geothermal, maybe even solar PV or wave generation, I suspect you may find yourself wondering whether drilling in ANWR, or deep off shore, or building nuclear instead really does make economic sense. And if you were to go a little further and fold into just those numbers the economic impacts of optimizing energy productivity, the impact on the trade imbalance, the impact on supply shocks, the impact on what it would cost to militarily protect domestic sources of energy rather than foreign ones. Without question there are lots of variables involved. I will be the first to acknowledge that I may be still learning, but my initial impression is that none of my critics here have done more due diligence on the subject. But if so, I look forward to the debate. Because if I’m allowed to express myself freely here, this is just the tip of the iceberg (remember those?). And most of it doesn’t have anything to do with the science. It does, however, have a lot to do with green… backs.

  92. OCrush (08:32:21) : “if supporters of global warming, me included, wake up to find that they were wrong some day it will most likely have been long after serious changers were made on the industry side that helped turn us from pollution…”

    CO2 is no pollution. It’s a clean gas. It was 5 times more CO2 in the atmosphere than today 55 million years ago. Normal indoor concentration is 1000 ppm and you can work in 10 000 (or even 25 000) ppm CO2. You see, real pollution has been reduced dramatically the last decades. Thus the air is much more clean, in the cities as well as on the countryside today compared to what it was in the 70th or 80th.

    If you suggest that we can change the CO2 emissions so much that it makes some difference in the over years accumulated total emissions, then you are simply wrong. Don’t try to sheat anyone with that crap! Even a radical and successful Kyoto II will only

    By the way more pollution (not the CO2, but particles) will cool the world according to “climate science” a’la IPCC, according to what pollution did in the climate models between 1945 and 1975. So you just don’t seem to know what you’re talking about… (But honestly I can’t say I’m surpriced.)

    “You see the fight for AGW doesn’t just concern the climate.”

    Yup. I’ve recognize that some now skeptical AGW fans in a sudden say that warming from CO2 isn’t the thing; it’s the consumption (and some AGW:ers even say the free markets) which has to be stopped. I don’t say that all AGW defenders now say this, but some really do! (Some of them support something they call “ecosocialism; here in Sweden…)

    Free markets and development is the key to a better environment. That is obvious both from any analysis and from empirical data (i.e. history).

  93. OCrush (08:32:21): Sorry, I missed this sentence:

    Even a radical and successful Kyoto II will only reduce the CO2 concentration 25 ppm in the end of this century, and the temperature with a few tenth of a degree, according to IPCC and the models they support. So you can’t retreat with the argument that simply the AGW hype did the job if the coming decades wont be warm. That’s jast way too non-scintific! …

  94. AGWscoffer (08:35:19) : “We are only 0.5°C from bringing this house of cards down. Already there are scientists who say we are entering a cooling phase.”

    I think the climate of the coming decades will much depend on the strength of sunspot cycles. I guess — but don’t like it, but it’s fine if the house of cards falls — it’s not unlikely we’ll have no warming (20th century average) or a little ice age (distinctly cooler climate) than a warm period.

    “Much of nature goes in cycles.”

    I guess astronomy makes the climate cyclical. (The milankovitch cycle etc, and sun activity, cosmic rays and clouds.)

    The scientific research (including research made by AGW supporters as Hedi Cullen ;) ) which after analysis of the climate history suggests a climate cycle with a period of 1500 year makes it likely that we have beween 150 and 250 years of global warming left before the next temperature decline. But Fred Singer and Dennins Avery say “1500 years give or take 500 years”, so I guess it can happen that we’ve seen the warming peak. But I hope not! I would prefere a new MWP.

  95. Sorry Evan but that is the cost when the people of this planet reproduce in irresponsible numbers.

    Ocrush, I also disagree with you here. Modern tech houses and feeds many, many times more people on far less land–with far more individual elbow room than at any point in the past. For example, New York was intensely more overcrowded with 1 million people in it than today with 8 million. India’s cities are far more populated yet far less crowded than 50 years ago.

    Not only that, but birthrates are down drastically since 1990 all over the world.

    Furthermore, as countries become more affluent, their birthrates plummet. If you want lower populations you must not be in favor of continuing poverty, but must favor an economy of “full steam ahead”.

    I dont want to see any humans suffering any more than anyone else does but I also understand that raping the planet is only going to ensure much more suffering in future generations.

    Then be at ease. we are NOT “raping the planet”. You have been misinformed. You must unlearn what you have learned. We have, in practical terms, an unlimited supply of every resource, and natural systems are protected as never before IN THE AFFLUENT AREAS. It is only in the impoverished areas that the environment is under significant pressure.

    I also don’t buy your version of Pascal’s conundrum. it is only by modernizing and greatly increasing wealth that the environment can be saved. Following Kyoto will not only kill 10s or 100s of millions, but will doom the environments of Africa and Southern/Central Asia. Only affluent countries ever clean up their acts.

    Furthermore, if AGW is a severe crisis, we cannot dodge it via Kyoto. We can beat it with huge wealth and high tech. Co if we shut down industry we will lose every way possible, and if climate change is real, we will be unable to cope with it or reverse it.

    Sure, we will eventually leave fossil fuel behind us. But we must not kill the wealth while doing it. It must (and will, if allowed to) happen normally and profitably.

    I believe my way will save us all and I fear your way will harm us all and possibly doom us. I realize you believe the reverse is true, but I urge you to consider both sides of the coin.

  96. Pablo is right.

    Rico is too fatalistic. If temps drop or do not rise, there will be a Great Reevaluation, mark my words. What I fear is the loss of life in the poorest countries during th lag time. The World Health Org. now stridently and actively promotes the intelligent use of DDT. Unfortunately that is too late for around 40 million souls, most of whom died utterly needlessly.

    I strongly wish to avoid another silent, unremarked die off of an equal or even greater number of people. The lack of concern and publicity will not make them any less dead, or their survivors any less impoverished and condemned to shorter, more miserable lives.

    It is only savvy, educated people like you who can raise a sufficient hue and cry to avert this tragedy. Every year earlier this is done, innocent lives will be saved. If you could halt the unreason by a single day, you. personally, will have saved innocent lives. I appeal to your humanity: Join us.

  97. A hat tip to Stan. FYO, I did not mention to him (I’m pretty sure about that, though it’s hard to keep track) that I joined the conversation here. I do recall telling him I might, though. I also recall him saying I might be a voice worth adding to the mix. So if you’re pissed off at me, you should be even more pissed off at Stan, lol! I’m kidding about that. I don’t think anyone should be pissed off at anyone. I think both he and I are looking for an objective glimpse at “the truth”. Our paths may differ somewhat, but I would hope the goal is shared by just about everyone. And from the reactions I’ve gotten from my first few comments, it appears that might be true. Anyway, what Stan says in my defense is largely true: I am largely an agnostic, assuming “agnostic” can be defined as driven by the power of “the dollar” (or whatever currency is preferable — but currency in general). In other words, while I do believe “words matter”, I believe they only matter insofar as they affect the economy. I don’t believe any proposed solution can be based on words alone. Words do matter, but they are not the only thing that does (on any issue). Ultimately, any solution has to make sense economically — in the long term anyway. My friend Stan suggested that “politicians who continue to support government subsidies to making fuel out of food crops should all be lined up against a wall and shot.” I wonder where he got that idea, hehe. As I recall, that was almost word-for-word my eighth point on a seven-point plan (lol!) I proposed on another site. You might gather from that that if I’m agnostic, I’m defiantly so. And despite the apparent oxymoron, I suppose it’s true — I am a defiant agnostic. The one thing I absolutely hate is bowing to the law of unintended consequences. But that’s another rant for another time.

    To be fair to the politicians who might be lined up though (and arguably, GW Bush is that faction’s biggest ethanol cheerleader), they’re largely betting that ethanol out of food crops will ultimately work out as a bridge technology. Okay, that’s being charitable — they’re also counting on the campaign contributions gleaned from their support. To think otherwise would be, well, idiotic. However idiotic, though, it’s not illegal. It just is as it is. And any attempt to change it is likely to delve deeply into the law of unintended consequences. But that’s another rant for another time — and that rant has a lot to do with the relative responsibility of the electorate: you can only expect to get that which you vote for, in other words. Further, I will also say that my scanning of the political landscape leads me to think that support for any solution on any level is unlikely to follow any sort of traditional left/right ideological divide. But while that’s almost certainly true, that is again another rant for another time.

    Personally, I’m very skeptical about any ethanol-based liquid fuel, even if it’s cellulosic-based. But it’s a skepticism that is built up from a multitude of considerations. In short, you really need to look at the entire “life cycle” of ethanol technology — both in terms of where it stands today and where it might stand, say, ten years from now. IMO, you also have to consider what is likely to happen with other technologies in the mean time. And that could very well be considerable. Thus, it seems to me you have to consider not only the cost structure, but the overall economic trajectories, and how each consideration for each technology might fit together into a complete whole. E.g., what about the supply/refining/distribution/point-of-sale infrastructure? The internal and/or external costs associated with each step along the way for each technology, and how they might compare on a similar time scale to other technologies could be very significant. It’s not a simple problem to be sure. But as complex as it is, it is also a very important one. As such it cannot be neglected. But again, I’ll leave the details for another time.

    My friend Stan accuses me of not expressing myself well. I think that’s a fair criticism. I fully acknowledge that I don’t express myself well. I further confess that I rarely proof-read what I post as a comment on a blog — because, well, it’s a comment on a blog. Why bother? On the other hand, it should also be noted that my intent is not to make “you” (collectively speaking) agree with me, but to make “you” think — i.e., to challenge the facts and logic underlying “your” own assumptions, and to have “you” do the same to me. I have no interest in writing propaganda pieces (I have no propaganda to peddle). Rather, I try to write thought pieces. As such, all I ask is that “you” don’t label me as something mindless. Attack what I say, not who you think I am. I promise the same in return. Let’s talk about issues first and foremost. How about that?

    So, getting back to the science… or not. I mean really, who cares at this point? Through yeoman’s work — the kind of work anyone should be proud of — Tony and Steve, et. al., have uncovered inaccuracies in the measurement of basic data. That’s very cool. But at the same time, those inaccuracies account for… what? I mean seriously… what in the grand scheme of things? Like I said in a previous post, I’m not a climate scientist. But you don’t have to be one to recognize that most of the criticisms of the mainstream viewpoint (the “consensus”, if you will) are either very much off-scale, very speculative, lack any sort of coherency, or some combination therein. I am very much willing to be corrected if I’m wrong, to the extent that I’m wrong. But either way, it is becoming time to put your money up. Literally or figuratively, that’s what it boils down to, doesn’t it? It all becomes a risk management equation, doesn’t it? In that regard, I should mention that the insurance company, Allstate, has recently become something less than all state. The reason has very much to do with the risks they see associated with GW. And that very much sucks on a humanitarian scale. But as Raven (14:29:50) said, “wealth is the difference.” Yup. And allow me to add… Duh.

    So anyway, we’re confronted with the situation where some believe the science in and of itself can’t point us anywhere, and no matter where one turns there are huge “IFs” associated. Okay fine. So let’s ignore the science. Just in terms of technology and the economy, it’s really obvious to me which way the wind is blowing. Considering that, I’m not about to stand in the way. And it really is incumbent upon anyone who thinks the way I do to stand up and be counted. I think it’s a good thing — not only a good thing, but a necessary thing — and a money-making thing. That’s the bottom line for me. And frankly, I don’t see much on the down-side. To me, the only down side is the drag those who think there is a down side might have on the up side. After all, money spent on one thing precludes it from being spent on another.

    The other thing is that, as Stan indicated, I’ve been working on him for the better part of two years. Actually though, that’s not entirely true. It is true that he’s the one that got me thinking about things the better part of two years ago. Back then the questions were most specifically about climate science. After months of study I came to the conclusion that yeah, maybe we do have something to worry about by way of the science (that’s my conclusion, not Stan’s). At that point my libertarian instincts kicked in (I can pinch a penny till it bleeds), and thus I started asking questions about whether any solutions made economic sense. That, to me, is the bottom line. It always is. Both lefties and righties can wax rhetorical about the best approach until the cows come home. But no matter how perceived, the cows will, ultimately, come home. Period. That’s the bottom line. And so, ultimately, the matter becomes a question of risk assessment. Any of you mathematically inclined “non-AGWers” care to weigh in on that point? I’d say the odds are decidedly stacked against you. Then again, if you’re right, you could make some seriously big bucks. To paraphrase Inspector Callahan (Dirty Harry)… “Do you feel lucky, punk?”

  98. Simple, Rico, if we are cooling long term, unnecessarily encumbering carbon will freeze and starve millions of people. The unlucky ones.
    ======================================

  99. Evan Jones (16:17:23): Pablo is right. Rico is too fatalistic.

    Actually, Rico (me) doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the GW science. Not any more anyway. Rico (me) cares about the bottom line. And all of the vectors largely converge on the same numbers down there on the bottom line. That seems to me a rather important point.

    It also seems to me that all of the “non-AGRs”s here — including you, Evan — preface their remarks with a big “IF”, as if to avoid the obvious. In your case, the very next sentence after the first big “IF” includes the phrase, “intelligent use” in a way that implies only you knew the most intelligent response before it happened. I think it’s fair to ask… can you document that? If not, then I think it’s fair to ask, where were you beforehand?

    Okay, maybe it’s not all that fair. It is still relevant though. Even more relevant is to get you on record, in the here and now, as to what, exactly, conforms to your conception of “intelligent use” of DDT? That’s not a trivial question. Rather, assuming you actually attempt to answer it with the knowledge it deserves, I think you’ll find it to be a highly nuanced question. In fact I’m sure of it. We could go on and on citing study after study, and in the end I’m sure we’d end up where we started — neither one of us could “prove” anyhing.

    And that’s the general problem I find with the debate regarding such issues — in order to be solved effectively they require more nuance than most people are inclined to allow. Wouldn’t you say? Yet you say I’m too fatalistic. To that I ask… (a) relative to what metric? And (b) on what time scale? And (c) what are you offering as alternatives? And (d) how specific can you be?

    Assuming you are actually interested in solving problems, all of those are very important question, wouldn’t you say? Granted, we’re not going to solve the world’s problems on this or any blog. But whatever we say here is a start. So give me your best shot and I will give you mine. I just hope that my point of view will ultimately be allowed to be seen here. I’m new, but so far it seems that any comment I make has to be bounced off Uranus before it makes it to this blog (no reference to your personal, or any other, gastrointestinal system is intended, by the way). I’m not complaining really. In fact, if the apparent bucolic pace is real, it suits me rather well. Maybe I’ll actually get around to proof-reading stuff I post, lol!. But in the mean time I’m wondering… wattsupwiththat?

  100. Crap. You express yourself just fine. And I’ll throw a tought piece back at you.

    Here is your risk assessment:

    In my mind and in my car,
    We can’t rewind we’ve gone to far.

    What you yourself have said has riven your middle ground. It will no longer safely bear your own weight. Do not stand upon it. To be an agnostic on this issue is, in effect, to be an atheist. Those who panic speak through their hats, thinking they are halos. Same as last time. Same as time before last. You know what cows to watch. You know their destination. And you know in what direction they are headed, though you will not say it.

    We cannot carry the piano back downstairs. The only way to go is forward. You know this to be true. Like Stan, you are obviously too intelligent and too well educated to believe otherwise.

    You are also well aware that the real issue is more than mere money; I can read that between your lines. The real issue is wealth, itself. You therefore must know that wealth equals power (in a positive sense). A huge amount of wealth stands to be destroyed, or never to be created. You also know full well the human tragedy that would entail, that loss of wealth is the equivalent of loss of life.

    Those who oppose us stand in the way of mankind’s Childhood’s End. You are in a position to have a hand in preventing this.

    More risk assessment:

    Our lives are at stake, too. Yours, mine, and Stan’s; the others, too, though they may not realize it fully. If our opponents win out, they will kill the wealth, they will kill the tech. Not only the tech that may be necessary to thwart GW if it is a real concern, but the tech that will keep you and me and Stan alive in the decades to come. Do you love life? If they win, they will kill you and not even know it. Those are the stakes.

    Your libertarian instincts will serve you well if you let them. I have turned by back on my liberal brethren and find I must now fight them. Fortunately I have an intimate knowlege of their weaponry and have been trained in its use. Yet my kind cannot afford to waste its efforts and resources fighting the likes of you. It is required that we fight on the same side.

  101. I think it’s fair to ask… can you document that? If not, then I think it’s fair to ask, where were you beforehand?

    Well, I have been screaming about DDT ever since around five years after the malaria rate in India and Ceylon skyrocketed out of all proportion (1970 or so). One of my first great exposures to unintended consequences. Reintroduction (as I advocated) would have saved a lot of lives.

    I have blogged on the subject on consimworld.com on and off since around 1998 (meeting with considerable abuse).

    On a more amusing personal note, my folks got ahold of a big bottle of DDT spray back in the 60s, and we had absolutely no cockroaches for three years. Then the company took the DDT out of the spray, the roaches came back (in swarms) and it wasn’t until the late 1980s that they finally got rid of them. Mostly.

    Okay, maybe it’s not all that fair. It is still relevant though. Even more relevant is to get you on record, in the here and now, as to what, exactly, conforms to your conception of “intelligent use” of DDT?

    Modern usage. Careful application. Not spraying it over all creation like in the old days. It’s very persistent (which, of course, is why it works so well). A little goes a long way. It also turns out it is an extremely effective repellant–mosquitos avoid it–which makes it very valuable indeed.

    Jimmy Carter (based on his experience as a peanut farmer) was a staunch advocate of DDT and tried to get it reintroduced, alas, to no avail. It’s no threat to bird eggs or anythng else but insects if it isn’t insanely overused. And much less threat than its less effective alternatives.

    Like with non-DDT use after 1970, I can easily see what the effects of the prevention of modernization in the third world will have.

    Yet you say I’m too fatalistic. (

    Well, yeah!

    You talk aobout angling for money. You could create WEALTH!

    You talk about the inevitablility of the powers that be and your limited political choices. You could STEER that power!

    You talk about finding an advantage. Man! You could have an EFFECT!

    And don’t give me any crap about how one man can’t make a difference or how you don’t have it in you! Yes, you are too damn fatalistic by half. And it is unworthy of one of your obvious capabilities.

    (a) relative to what metric? And (b) on what time scale? And (c) what are you offering as alternatives? And (d) how specific can you be?

    a.) The metric of your knowledge, education, and capabilities. It can take one voice to sway the world. Or a chorus. But unless a man sings out, there ain’t gonna be no music, nohow. Look at how much Anthony Watts has done with his–one–voice! You could be part of the solution. The counter-revolution needs good men.

    b.) Immediacy. Already the upwards of a trillion clams have been dumped down the rathole, mostly on publicity to encourage the halting of development. That is wealth that could have been doing good in this world instead of harm. To say nothing of whatever wealth already prevented by the success of said publicity. There is no time to waste. No time!

    c.) The alternative of rapid economic growth by any means necessary. There will be plenty of time for the cleanup once the third world has become affluent. Every first world country in the world has cleaned up and protected its environment. No third-world country has.

    There is no alternative, really. If you want to clean up the earth, the only option is for India and Africa and China to burn coal and oil like mad for the next two or three decades, to be followed by a massive, inevitable cleanbup. Like every other developed country. That’s all there is to it. The “alternative” to the “horrors of development” is the 3 d’s: death, destruction, deforestation.

    That is the lesson of history. It is invariable and without any exception that I know of.

    d.) Pretty darn. As you can probably tell.

    To outline: Full speed ahead with economic development and wealth creation. Cleanup to follow on the historically typical model in the 3rd world countries. Problems acquired to be dealt with by massive wealth acquired. There is no way to dodge the future. We must outrun it.

    To be more GW-specific: If GW proves a problem (which I doubt), I recommend the “huge-sheet-of-hi-tech-tinfoil-reflector-in-space” method. Variable, adjustable, retractable, affordable (in future terms, not today’s. We don’t yet have sufficient tech to do it and can’t afford it yet. We will be able to do so–easily–in 30 years. IF we do not destroy the wealth!

    Assuming you are actually interested in solving problems, all of those are very important question, wouldn’t you say?

    Like wild on rice I am. Durn tootin’, I would.

    whatever we say here is a start. So give me your best shot and I will give you mine.

    Hell, yeah. But for crying out loud, we should be shooting in the same direction! All of us here.

    Those who would halt our progress and destroy the wealth will destroy our future and our lives if we allow them. The fact that they do not themselves see this reality adds immeasurably to the danger.

    And if AGW is true, stopping them in their tracks is that much more imperative, for they will destroy our capability and power to deal with it.

    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, but he’ll remember, with advantages, what feats he did that day . . . We few, we happy few, we band of brothers . . .

  102. I know this is going off on a tangent, but I think that a post dedicated to the recent findings about ocean temperatures would be very interesting.

    I did not know until I started looking into the Argo results, that it was established by Gouretski and Koltermann (American Geophysical Union, Geophysical Research Letters 2007) that 62% of the claimed warming of the oceans since the 1950s was caused by errors in the XBT measurement systems.

    The belief that the oceans are storing vast amounts of extra heat caused by AGHG is fundamental to the climate models. If the increase in stored ocean heat is only 38% what was believed this must have a big effect in the calculations for the climate sensitivity and forcings following an increase in CO2.

    Also the amount of heat in Hansen’s pipeline – which is described as the “smoking gun” of climate change – i.e. the extra heat in the ocean which will eventually cause the catastrophe expected by the alarmists, must also be greatly reduced.

    The Argo results show a small decline in deep ocean temperatures over the last five years – proving that no extra heat landing on the planet due to rising CO2 has been stored recently. It is up to the alarmists to explain where this heat (if it really existed) has gone.

  103. It is required that we fight on the same side.

    And fight we will. In order for technology to move forward in the most productive and, dare I say, profitable way, bad science is going to have to be defeated. Otherwise, as Evan has noted on numerous occasions, billions, perhaps trillions of dollars of wealth is either going to be wasted or never realized in the first place. That would, IMO, be a sin that future generations would (and should) have a hard time forgiving.

    Welcome aboard Rico. I have only one piece of advice, and please take it in the friendly spirit in which it’s offered:

    <blockquote”The most valuable of all talents is that of never using
    two words when one will do.”

    Thomas Jefferson

  104. Rico says
    “That suggests we should do what we can to ensure that America remains a wealthy society”
    Perth, Austrialia has recently committed to building a desalinization facility powered by wind turbines. This was a incredibly expensive project to build and maintain – a cost only wealthy societies could afford. People living in Africa could never afford such luxeries and will likely die of thirst first. Any restrictions on carbon will make poor societies even poorer and reduce the amount of charity which the rich countries can afford to give. In other words, we should not sacrifice economic growth in the name of reducing CO2 emissions.

    Rico says:
    “But I think that if you really look into the economics of building, say, wind farms, or concentrated solar (solar thermal), or geothermal, maybe even solar PV or wave generation, I suspect you may find yourself wondering whether drilling in ANWR, or deep off shore, or building nuclear instead really does make economic sense”

    The hydrogen fuel cell car has been the holy grail for 30+ years. Massive investments have been made by governments and private industry yet we are still decades from an affordable fuel cell car. The key players are now focusing on hybrids. The fuel cell car illustrates why it is folly to assume that the only thing stopping ‘alternate’ technologies is the will and money to make it happen. Sometimes the technical limitations of a technology make it impratical no matter how much money is spent on R&D. This means we need to go with what we know works in the short and medium term (fossil fuel and nuclear).

    If major technological improvements wind and solar power allow them to compete with existing technologies then they will gain market share as the price of oil rises naturally. No special government intervention is needed other than support for R&D.

  105. Evan: You are also well aware that the real issue is more than mere money; I can read that between your lines. The real issue is wealth, itself.

    Yes it is more than mere money (although I fully intend to cash in on that level too). Yes, the real issue IS wealth. And that IS what I’m really talking about.

    You therefore must know that wealth equals power (in a positive sense). A huge amount of wealth stands to be destroyed, or never to be created. You also know full well the human tragedy that would entail, that loss of wealth is the equivalent of loss of life.

    I can agree with everything you say above as well. However, I suspect we may have very different opinions about how wealth stands to be destroyed or never created. You apparently agree with Pablo, to wit: Instead of wasting resources on “solving” mythical problem we’d be better employed drilling for oil and building nuclear and coal fired power plants. I say that on the basis of this comment of yours: There is no alternative, really. If you want to clean up the earth, the only option is for India and Africa and China to burn coal and oil like mad for the next two or three decades, to be followed by a massive, inevitable cleanbup.

    No alternative? Really? Are you sure? First of all, you might want to check with China and India on that. But more generally, the long and the short of it is that if you believe what you say, it’s not me who’s selling the potential of technology short, it’s you. And that’s an important point. Economic assessments offered up by the likes of Bjorn Lomborg, Steve Milloy, and others either implicitly or explicitly presume that (a) prices of fossil fuels will remain essentially the same as they are now, and (b) prices of alternatives will remain essentially the same as they are now. The important question is, how realistic are those assumptions? My opinion is… not very. The technologies related to extracting fossil fuels cannot benefit much from the innovations that are virtually always associated with bringing technologies up to scale, because they are already at scale. It’s not quite as simple as that, but it nonetheless remains the case that fossil fuels will almost certainly continue to get more expensive. On the other hand, many alternatives are very likely to benefit from such innovations. Hardly a day goes by without a new report about a new technique that could potentially be a breakthrough technology. I keep up on those things pretty heavily. And the ones that I think hold particular promise I pass on to Stan and others. Nonetheless, I fully realize that that sort of stuff is very difficult to assess. One reason for that is most start-up companies operate in deep stealth mode. The only time you get a glimmer of what they’re up to is when (a) they are granted an important patent, or (b) when they partner up with a big player, or (c) when they actually go commmercial and start distributing product. The last is, of course, the biggie. But still, there’s a significant difference between “going commercial” and “going commercial big time”. In other words, it’s an economy of scale question. Most alternative energy technologies are just starting to climb that ramp — i.e., they are on the very nacent end of the economy of scale s-curve. But even so, several alternative technolgies are already pretty close to competing directly with traditional technologies on a sheer cost basis. The only thing holding them back is lack of capital investment — in manufacturing and/or deployment and/or infrastructure and/or worker training. Those are all very solvable problems — especially if the government decides to get involved in a significant, reliable, and effective way. Needless to say, there are going to be bubbles, and mistakes, not to mention a variety of special interests who will try to get their fingers in the pie. That being said though, I vehemently disagree that the “alternative” to the “horrors of development” is the 3 d’s: death, destruction, deforestation. That, to me, is fatalistic. Quintessientially so, in fact. I am much more inclined to agree with Stan when he said, “the stone age didn’t end due to lack of stones.” Interestingly (and I’m sure much to Stan’s horror), the Goracle himself employed the very same phrase a couple of years back. I suppose if Al Gore said it, somehow it must be wrong, right? Then again, Al Gore didn’t invent it either. But the etiology of the phrase is beside the point.

    By the way, Stan (09:55:18) posed the question: If you were King of the World and had complete control over everything and everyone, what past climate would you attempt to duplicate, what policies would you implement to achieve that climate, and what empirical evidence can you present to show that those policies would achieve the desired results?

    It’s a very good question — one that I think each of us should try to answer, because it goes to the heart of what Evan phrased as “steering power”. He says, You talk about finding an advantage. Man! You could have an EFFECT! Well gee, that’s the whole point behind my being here. But I want to do it by stirring thought, not spreading propaganda. I’m not necessarily saying you trade in the latter, but when you issue edicts such as, “There is no alternative, really” as if they can’t be questioned, then I have to wonder.

    Anyway, Stan’s question is a very good one. It is also one he has posed before. See here for how I answered it (comment #78) the first time I encountered it. He didn’t want me to play, but I answered it anyway. After all, how often to you get to pretend you’re King of the World? Lol! Anyway, I continue to stand by every word I said there — except maybe the summary execution of grain-based ethanol advocates. I’m still contemplating that one, lol! I should also note that as of the present, to my knowledge no one except me has attempted an answer — not even Stan. Nonetheless, it is a question I think everyone should seriously consider — including the price-tags for every facet of the entire “life cycle” associated with every potential alternative.

    By the way, how would you answer it, Evan? What about Tony? What about Steve? In the end it is all about this: Man! You could have an EFFECT! IMO, truer words were never spoken. Along the same lines people have used the word “wish” abundantly, and sometimes rather loosely, throughout this thread — including me. But I think An Inquirer (21:27:15) said it best when he said, “I really wish that more people could understand what is at stake here.”

  106. Right on, Stan. Basing energy policy on C02 emissions is sheer idiocy, and madness. It is attacking a phantom menace, to the tune of huge amounts of money. The poor and middle class will suffer the most (and already are) from it. The madness must stop.
    There is a bill in Congress now, called The Climate Security Act.
    People need to let their members of Congress know that this bill needs to be defeated, and they will be held to account if it isn’t. The site above has an easy way to do so. I’ve been a long-time Democrat, but for me, this is a litmus test issue. No one gets a pass on this.

  107. No alternative? Really? Are you sure? First of all, you might want to check with China and India on that. But more generally, the long and the short of it is that if you believe what you say, it’s not me who’s selling the potential of technology short, it’s you. And that’s an important point.

    Technology must fit in with wealth creation, not be pursued at the expense of wealth creation. If a technological solution is found that will replace coal and oil without a hideous loss of wealth (biolfuels providing the poster-child example), then the market will carry it forward without any coersive laws whatever.

    Economic assessments offered up by the likes of Bjorn Lomborg, Steve Milloy, and others either implicitly or explicitly presume that (a) prices of fossil fuels will remain essentially the same as they are now, and (b) prices of alternatives will remain essentially the same as they are now. The important question is, how realistic are those assumptions? My opinion is… not very.

    I will be explicit about it. If the fossil fuel industry had not been strangled by regulation, fuel would be cheaper in real dollars today than it was twenty years ago, when prices were at rock-bottom. The strangulation of industry and the consequent rise in prices to meet inceasing demand is the perfect example of the wealth-destruction of those who are against progress for the very sake of anti-progress.

    As for “asking” India and China, I say don’t ask them anything. Let them do as they wish in this regard. It is China and India which represent the bulk of the increased demand for fossil fuel: and THAT is their true answer to the question you ask.

    That, to me, is fatalistic.

    It is merely observation of an invariable pattern in human history and behavior. Look at the continent of Africa. The one place which has shown the least economic progress has wrought (by far) the greatest destruction of the environment.

    On the flip side, I’ll throw in Latin America as an example of what happens when economic development is largely successful: Look at how the destruction of the Amazon basin has abated over the last decade, defying all of the dire predictions we had been hearing.

    Every time a nation becomes affluent, it protects the environment. There is no counterexample that I know of. It is, after all, human nature.

    I have heard alternatives to the continuation of progress and affluence. We hear them all the time. They all make me shudder in horror at the potential unintended consequences. That they are well meaning causes me all the more worry, for it makes their disastrous implementation all the more likely.

    And I will fully embrace the propaganda of progress. Propaganda is what it is. Very often plain truth is the most effective propaganda going. False propaganda can be refuted just as easily as anything else.

    By the way, how would you answer it, Evan?

    I would set up a series of representative republics and then abdicate. The world has to hold its own head up. It cannot have an outside party hold its head up for it. Only freedom and autonomy can produce the progress I advocate. Freedom can destroy it as well, but without it we have no chance whatever. For better or for worse, man must manage his own affairs.

  108. “I really wish that more people could understand what is at stake here.”

    And that’s where WE come in!

  109. I should also note that as of the present, to my knowledge no one except me has attempted an answer — not even Stan.

    Rico, the whole purpose of the question was to make people stop and think about how impossible it would be, even with absolute power, to achieve the perfect climate. For starters, I doubt that any two people could agree on what the perfect climate would be, but even more to the point, I don’t believe it’s within Man’s capacity to affect global climate much, let alone custom design it. And, BTW, you never did answer the last part of the question: “provide empirical evidence that the policies you advocate would achieve the desired results.” Besides, I told you you were ineligible to participate and you totally ignored my instructions, LOL.

    We have some very smart people who read and comment on this blog, most much smarter than I. Unlike on so many science and climate forums, the majority of Anthony’s smart legions avoid the tendency to get bogged down in minutia, the recent posts involving statistics being the exception to that. I see and read a lot of common sense here with very little of the name-calling and derision so common elsewhere. The future of this debate lies not in the argument, “my algorithm is better than your algorithm”, but in the common sense of common people. (IMHO)

  110. However, before I abdicate I shall decree one mid-May week at 75F, sunny, light breezea, scattered clouds, zero precip.

    (Sorry if that screws up the negative anomalies for which we are all currently rooting.)

  111. You know all this scientific stuff you guys keep posting, it’s really strange but it sounds a lot like something that the world used to possess in the old pre-global warming days, some people called it “logical” alla Mr Spock. I think it also was known as “common sense”, or something like it! We don’t seem to have it any more for some peculiar reason, but have to have sensational stories to spread around the globe of immenent disaster, like lieetle green men from outer space in the 30’s, then nuclear disaster in the 50’s, biological warfare disater in the 60’s, then aliens yet again in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s 00’s, along with anything else that might just make a dammend good Hollywood movie blockbuster! .

  112. To echo what seems to be a minority position in the above thread: The fundamental issue is truth seeking science rather than social policy driven or “Soviet” science. We may well end up with high fossil fuel taxes as a result of a political debate – what that debate should not be allowed to do is to corrupt the science in favor of one political position over another. If it turns out that the science indicates that AGW is catastrophic then so be it. The great benefit that this site and CA have contributed is to focus on the quality of the data and its analysis.
    Dr. Spencer’s point is that the contamination of the scientific process is far reaching and that reasserting the values of “objective” science is going to be a long and arduous battle primarily because those interested in causes have been reinforced so significantly by their recent successes. Tobacco, drug and energy companies who distort and hide data are no better (or worse) than the WWF, Greenpeace, SIerra Club who distort and hide data.

  113. I fight back with a 2 minute elevator speech format. I stick to facts and calmly pick the Alarmists major arguments apart.

    There’s been enough written already to enable just about anyone to do that, lets get to it, one person at a time if necessary !

    We also need to give financial help as needed to Anthony Watts, Steve McIntyre and others who are self financed and in the front line.

  114. Yes, the essential arguments will fit on a filecard.

    REPLY: The real test will be if you can fit it all into a one minute TV news story.

  115. Here’s an attempt

    Global Warming Theory Found to be a Load of Hooey

    Experts have now told us that the theory that CO2 is warming up the planet is in fact untrue. There is no correlation between CO2 levels in the atmosphere and global temperatures. All the phenomena that we have seen recently fit within the limits of normal natural variability and have been seen many times before. The Polar Bears and Penguins are quite safe !

    And now back to our top story, the cat stuck up a tree. Was it the result of a police car chase gone wrong ?

  116. Raven: In other words, we should not sacrifice economic growth in the name of reducing CO2 emissions.

    I’m not saying we should. What I’m saying is that with a little up-front investment, alternative fuel sources could become as cheap, maybe even cheaper than fossil fuel sources. You say Perth, Austrialia has recently committed to building a very expensive desalinization facility powered by wind turbines. What makes it expensive? Is it the desalination, or is it the wind turbines?

    One thing that’s a little difficult about discussions of this nature is that data on “levelized costs” (i.e., the cost of building, maintaining, and operating a plant) are difficult to come by for any technology. And those that are often come from different sources, calculated for different points in time, making somewhat different assumptions, and whether base load or dispatchable sources are key. So basically, the best you can do is ball-park the numbers. That said, this study provides some comparisons as they existed circa 2006. Characteristics and costs of the most common renewable energy applications are shown in Table 1. They estimate the cost of conventional fuels (coal or gas) to be in the range 4–8 cents per kilowatt-hour(kWh) for base-level loads (which is typical), more for dispatchable loads. Using those figures for comparison, hydroelectric, on-shore wind, and geothermal are already competitive. Concentrated solar thermal (CSP) is higher at 12-18 cents/kWh, but it basically didn’t exist at the time of the study. CSP is also best considered a dispatchable resource (at least until the definition of “peak” and “off-peak” loads change, which could very well happen before long). Interest in CSP is exploding out here in the southwest, and it has attracted several manufacturers. So I think you’ll see those costs drop pretty quickly.

    At any rate, this is basically what I’m talking about. I think there’s every reason to believe that several different kinds of renewable energy sources have very real potential to come in under coal and natural gas. And when they do, the patents associated with key techniques could be worth their weight in gold.

    Evan said, “Technology must fit in with wealth creation, not be pursued at the expense of wealth creation. If a technological solution is found that will replace coal and oil without a hideous loss of wealth (biolfuels providing the poster-child example), then the market will carry it forward without any coersive laws whatever.”

    I agree with that, but with reservations on the last phrase: “then the market will carry it forward without any coersive laws whatever.” On the one hand, I think it’s very true that the market will eventually take care of itself. On the other hand, proper policy can make that happen much faster than it otherwise would. I wouldn’t call that coercive. Besides, the fossil fuel industry itself has benefitted from many billions of dollars in government subsidies for years. At the recent Eco:nomics conference Jeff Immelt, the CEO of GE made some interesting observations. He pointed out, “There are no completely free markets. The government has its hand in every industry: Housing has mortgage tax credits; GE got into commercial aviation because the DOD helped fund it; in healthcare there’s Medicare and Medicaid and the NIH, researching and funding new drugs. Only in energy, for some reason, we’ve decided that the only regulation will be the price of a barrel of oil. That’s crazy!” He also said, “In healthcare, 8% of revenue gets cycled back into R&D. In energy, it’s less than 2%. That’s a $50b difference. The Chinese are all over this and they’re going to kick our asses.”

    And if not the Chinese, then someone else will. IMO, that would be a shame. This is the kind of innovative thing America has traditionally been best at. And what Immelt said about government involvement is true. There are no completely free markets. For every bad poster-child example (e.g., ethanol) there are several good ones — the human genome project, microchip and silicon wafer R&D, development of the internet… Perhaps it’s also worth pointing out that of the 100 or so nuclear plants currently operating in the US, not one — not a single one — was built without government subsidies. Ditto every single major hydroelectric project.

    Evan indicated that if the fossil fuel industry had not been strangled by regulation, fuel would be cheaper in real dollars today than it was twenty years ago, when prices were at rock-bottom. I think that needs some documentation, because it pretty much flies in the face of everything I’ve read anywhere for the last couple of years. What sort of costs are you talking about? Are you talking about the costs of extraction or the costs of use? Are you talking about petroleum or coal or natural gas or all three? And can we assume that regulations requiring sources of fossil fuel combustion to mitigate the amounts of particulates, sulfur compounds, lead, mercury, and other heavy metals are excluded from consideration?

    There seems to be a common assumption underlying many, perhaps even most, of the posts here that fossil fuels are the cheapest available and always will be. The first part is certainly true — they are the cheapest now. But that’s already becoming less so. And I seriously doubt it will always be. IMO, we can either invest now or pay later. To reiterate what I said in an earlier post, in order to rationaliZe doing nothing to incentivize the development of renewable fuels one has to assume all three of the following: (a) GHGs don’t matter, (b) any attempt at technological innovation will be too expensive and thus “wealth draining”, and (c) the current turmoil in the Middle East, Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria, and elsewhere will all subside quickly. I would like to add one more consideration that I neglected the first time around: (d) fossil fuel supplies will keep pace with demand. My guess is… at least one of those four things will prove to be incorrect.

    In the last few comments there has arisen the notion that the essential arguments should fit on a filecard. Okay fine. Here’s what my file card argument is: “It’s the technology, stupid.” (I mean to paraphrase James Carville in saying that, not to call anyone stupid).

  117. I think that needs some documentation, because it pretty much flies in the face of everything I’ve read anywhere for the last couple of years. What sort of costs are you talking about?

    Restrictions on exploration, overrestrictions on the construction of refineries. It was so easy to pass those restrictions when things were cheaper. But now demand is up, and those restrictions are coming back to bite us. Meanwhile China and Cuba are drilling off our coasts. I’m not saying they shouldn’t. I’m saying we should. (And on the North Slope.)

    And I wonder what would happen if the stupid taxes and restrictions were removed from the industry and “corporate welfare” ended? Would the prce of gas go, up or down? Retain only what laws are actually necessary to protect the public and the environment and let the free market handle the rest.

    And to heck with government “direction”. No va. A centralized economy is for the ants. I bet we’d switch over from fossil fuels a heck of a lot faster if the government keeps it’s pointy nose out of it. US energy policy has become a great destroyer of wealth.

  118. And can we assume that regulations requiring sources of fossil fuel combustion to mitigate the amounts of particulates, sulfur compounds, lead, mercury, and other heavy metals are excluded from consideration?

    Yes. Paying for reasonable (sic) cleanup is a legit part of the cost.

  119. There seems to be a common assumption underlying many, perhaps even most, of the posts here that fossil fuels are the cheapest available and always will be.

    They will be util they aren’t. Then they won’t be. That way energy will remain cheap until it becomes . . . even cheaper.

    Let the market decide.

  120. They will be util they aren’t. Then they won’t be. That way energy will remain cheap until it becomes . . . even cheaper.

    The problem is, many of the decisions made now will have repercussions for decades. There are certainly risks associated with attempting to plan ahead. But they have to be weighed against the risks associated with not attempting to as well. Different options have different cost structures. Some are far more front-loaded than others, which is to say some alternatives require considerable capital investment to build but are cheap to operate and maintain. With others it’s the reverse. Many “clean” alternatives (including nuclear) fall into the former category while coal and gas-fired alternatives fall into the latter. That makes planning rather difficult even under the best case scenario. But it is made even more difficult because of the business model upon which many utilities operate — a model which is supported by antiquated legislation. Unfortunately, any fair treatise on that point wouldn’t fit on a filecard.

    One observation that might, though, is this: you and I appear to be inclined toward fundamentally different approaches to the problem. We might quibble about how to phrase them, but I would say yours relies more on retroactive responses whereas mine relies more on proactive ones. And maybe it’s just me, but I’m inclined to believe that the proactive approach is what has made America great. Technological innovation is what we are known for throughout the world. To the extent that we turn our back on that, we do so at our peril.

  121. Rico says:
    “I’m not saying we should. What I’m saying is that with a little up-front investment, alternative fuel sources could become as cheap, maybe even cheaper than fossil fuel sources.”
    I have no issue with R&D and agree that renewables are the only long term solution.

    I only have an issue when people advocate policies designed to increase the cost of conventional energy sources in order to subsidize alternative energy sources. Such schemes will always fail because the alternative energy providers will become addicted to subsidies and the average person will end up losing in the end.

    The price of enegry will rise on it own in the next few decades. There will provide all of the necessary market incentives.

  122. The problem is, many of the decisions made now will have repercussions for decades.

    You can say that again!

    And well meaning but wrongheaded government-sponsored decisions are the very worst. They do by far the most damage and are the hardest to reverse.

    There are certainly risks associated with attempting to plan ahead. But they have to be weighed against the risks associated with not attempting to as well.

    The govenment has a woefully bad record at it. Let the private sector do the walking. If the government had been in charge of converting from coal to oil we’d probably be driving Stanley Steamers around now.

    Look, if the government could actually turn the trick, i’d be the biggest socialist on the block. But it can’t, see? As a liberal, I have to consider the historical record.

    One observation that might, though, is this: you and I appear to be inclined toward fundamentally different approaches to the problem. We might quibble about how to phrase them, but I would say yours relies more on retroactive responses whereas mine relies more on proactive ones.

    They differ only partly, but not fundamentally. On the one hand, what works, works. And the poorest countries of the world have to rich up quick. The quicker the better. (I think we both agree on that goal.) They can’t afford the same sort of gambles that we in the West can.

    OTOH, I have huge faith in the future of technology. And I have no probelm whatever with a proactive response; I encourage and rely on procativity. But I don’t want the government to do it. With relatively few exceptions, I want the private sector to do it. And what the government needs done, I want to see the private sector do.

    Let the government govern. That’s what it’s for. But let the free market do the marketing, for heaven’s sake.

    The price of enegry will rise on its own in the next few decades. There will provide all of the necessary market incentives.

    Only if we do it wrong (or are prevented by the government from doing it right). If the price rise is related to the actual difficulties of acquiring the energy, then at least it would be a necessary cost. But if it is because government is “drinking up our milkshake”, then kiss the incentive (and the difference in wealth) goodbye.

    Let the private sector do it. Without the government hanging onto its coattails. You seem more than willing to play a part in it. I encourage that. It’s the proactivity of the private sector that made America great, not the procativity of big government.

  123. Only if we do it wrong (or are prevented by the government from doing it right). If the price rise is related to the actual difficulties of acquiring the energy, then at least it would be a necessary cost. But if it is because government is “drinking up our milkshake”, then kiss the incentive (and the difference in wealth) goodbye.

    Absoultely! As it stands now in the US, states and the Fed get more money from the sale of a gallon of gasoline than the oil companies. We’re paying at least twice as much as we “should” be because of taxation.

  124. They differ only partly, but not fundamentally. On the one hand, what works, works. And the poorest countries of the world have to rich up quick. The quicker the better. (I think we both agree on that goal.) They can’t afford the same sort of gambles that we in the West can.

    The only problem I see here is corruption. Seems most “third world” countries are so rife with corruption that nothing really useful gets done.

  125. Evan, I think it might be time for you to elucidate how you plan to have the poorest countries of the world rich up quick. It seems to me that, among other things, it requires a substantial increase in energy use. So if you rely on traditional sources you have to likewise substantially increase the supplies, and make them available in a cost-effective manner. And I don’t see that happening. I don’t see how it could. A recent comprehensive report on the status of renewable energy indicates that renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and small-scale hydropower offer countries the means to improve their energy security and spur economic development. The future doesn’t lie in oil, gas, and coal. Even China and India are realizing that. China, for example, is spending big bucks on solar technologies (they aim to become a main supplier of polysilicon in the next few years — and wind, too. And nuclear. As the last article indicates, “Oil prices are over $100 thanks largely to demand, not supply problems. China’s switch to net coal importer has hammered global coal prices. It’s thirst for natural gas is already doing the same. And that will only intensify, as Chinese firms are looking everywhere from Qatar to Iran for new supplies, while Chinese shippers are spending billions to expand their LNG fleets.

    I don’t know what you guys are reading, but everything I read is largely consistent with the things expressed above: prices of oil, gas, and coal will continue to go up because demand is out-stripping supply. And it seems to me that China’s response to the situation makes a great deal of sense, which is to say… get out in front and diversify PDQ. If we don’t do the same they really will kick our ass.

    You seem to think that any “government sponsored decision” will necessarily be wrong-headed, however well-meaning. But I don’t see it that way. There are multitudes of examples where “government sponsored decisions” were very beneficial to the economy. I mentioned several of them. In the Stanley Steamer vein, the federal government spent huge sums of money developing the interstate highway system. Do you mean to tell me that was wrong-headed? Every single major hydroelectric project required significant government investment. Every single nuclear power plant did, too. If you want to drill in ANWR (which I think it a good idea, by the way), do you really think the entire project will be privately funded? If it is, it would be a first.

    Down along the Mexican border we’re building hundreds of miles of walls. Who’s paying for that? It sure isn’t private industry. If anything, private industry wants more immigrants, illegal or otherwise. But is that wrong-headed? The government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars on military technologies. Is that wrong-headed? Maybe one could argue those things aren’t because they deal with national security issues. That was the argument used to “market” the interstate highway system, too. I’d say energy has significant national security implications as well.

  126. On the theme of saving money while also burning less fossil fuels there’s this: According to a study sponsored by the American Lung Association of California, $142 billion in human health and global warming reduction benefits would result from converting the entire California motor vehicle fleet from gasoline vehicles to zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technologies in the 2010-2030 time frame, or $96 billion more than relying on the lowest emitting gasoline technologies. The $142 billion figure includes $38 billion in benefits to society from reduced global warming emissions. This study illustrates that burning fossil fuels has other impacts besides CO2 emissions. The stuff just isn’t good for your health. And coal is the worst.

    And there’s this: MGI research suggests that the economics of investing in energy productivity—the level of output we achieve from the energy we consume—are very attractive. With an average internal rate of return of 17 percent, such investments would generate energy savings ramping up to $900 billion annually by 2020. Energy productivity is also the most cost-effective way to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). Capturing the energy productivity opportunity could deliver up to half of the abatement of global GHG required to cap the long-term concentration of GHG in the atmosphere to 450-550 parts per million—a level experts say will be necessary to prevent the mean temperature from increasing by more than two degrees centigrade. Moreover, the opportunities to boost energy productivity use existing technologies that pay for themselves and therefore free up resources for investment or consumption elsewhere.

    What the MGI study indicates is underscored by this report of the DOE assisting a Chrysler vehicle assembly plant improve its energy efficiency:After applying these measures, the complex achieved total annual energy savings of more than 70,000 MMBtu and annual energy cost savings of around $627,000. With total implementation costs of $125,000, the simple payback was just over 2 months. A total outlay of $125,000 to save themselves $627,000/yr for years. That’s nothing short of amazing. And it really does illustrate how seriously undervalued attention to energy efficiency has been.

  127. The “rush to wind power” is not a bad deal at this point. Distributed wind can supply base load at 20% of rated capacity. No bad when you consider that wind turbines supply 33% of their rated capacity on average.

    Not only that we know the learning curve. Cost of wind declines by 1/3 for every doubling of turbine size. We have at least 2 more doublings to go before we run into technological limits. Right now wind is cheaper than natural gas and the best sites compete with coal even steven.

    BTW the USA is the Saudi Arabia of wind. We have enough potential to supply all our electrical needs with wind.

    Really. The anti-AAGW folks (I’m one – the first A stands for alarmist) generally do not know enough about wind technology.

  128. M. Simon (07:23:04): Do you have something that we could read about wind? In terms of capacity, I’ve heard the same thing about solar (particularly solar thermal/CSP). There are several reports out there, but I found this one to be the most thorough with regard to the whole economics and how they relate to distributed load requirements. The caveat is that it was written by the CEO of Ausra, a CSP manufacturer. At any rate, I think some combination of wind, solar, and geothermal (no sense in putting one’s eggs all in one basket) very well could supply all of our grid energy needs. They can be built quickly, too — unlike, say, nuclear — assuming there are no bottlenecks in policy and permitting, infrastructure and workforce development. Fat chance that though.

    On the transportation fuels front, here’s a very interesting bit of news: PetroSun, Inc announced they will commence operation of their first commercial scale algae-to-biofuels facility on April 1. As far as I know, it’s not just their first, but the first commercial scale algal biofuels plant anywhere. So it’s big news. They project they can produce a minimum of 4.4 million gallons of algal oil and 110 million pounds of biomass on an annual basis. 4.4 million gallons/yr isn’t much, but it’s a start. They plan to establish additional algae farms and algal oil extraction plants in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mexico, Brazil and Australia during 2008. I guess we’ll see.

  129. Alternative energies are great, Rico. No one has ever said otherwise. But, they must be able to compete with traditional fuels
    in a cost/benefit analysis as a supposed benefit, which it most certainly isn’t. In fact, C02, with it’s beneficial effect on plant growth should actually go in the benefits column.

  130. What I meant to say was: but, they must be able to compete with traditional fuels in a cost/benefit analysis without C02 reduction as a supposed benefit, which it most certainly isn’t.

  131. Bruce Cobb (11:10:23): What I meant to say was: but, they must be able to compete with traditional fuels in a cost/benefit analysis without C02 reduction as a supposed benefit, which it most certainly isn’t.

    I don’t share your certainty on the last part. Although I said previously that I don’t give a rat’s ass about the climate science, I exaggerated. What I meant was that I don’t think it matters in order to make a compelling case for renewables (and conservation) on a cost-benefit level. So let’s ignore CO2 for the sake of argument. Let’s talk about the health effects of burning fossil fuels. In a previous post I mentioned a recent study by the American Lung Association of California indicating the health (and thus economic) benefits of eliminating fossil fuel-propelled vehicles. Should we ignore that while preparing our balance sheet? That’s one of those “external costs” that rarely ever get figured into even the most thorough life cycle analysis of any fuel source. But according to the Lung Association study it reaches over a hundred billion of dollars over a 20 year span on health costs alone — in California alone. That’s not chump change. Okay, compared to the Iraq war it is, but according to most other metrics it isn’t. And by the way (and somewhat surprisingly), in terms of “traditional” (i.e., non-GHG) emissions per capita, California is second lowest of all the states. Should the oil, gas, and coal industries pay for that? If not, why not? If so, how?

    Now let’s ignore the health costs AND CO2 and just concentrate on internals — i.e., how much it costs to build and operate a utility plant. Gas and coal plants are certainly the cheapest to build — right now anyway. In fact, in general, they’re quite a bit cheaper right now (that’s not exactly true, but let’s assume thta for simplicity). But approximately 60% of the cost of operating one (in 2004 anyway) is the cost of the fuel. Thus, as prices fluctuate, so does the cost of operation. According to this article, coal prices went up 73% in 2007, and is expected to double again this year. That’s “at mouth” prices (i.e., the price when it leaves the mine). Then you have to transport it. And those costs are exploding too. Then there’s the cost of burning it. And it is on that last level, and essentially on that level alone I think, where Evan’s, and others, comments about the potential “wrongheaded” effects of government policy come in. I’m sensitive to that. But I can’t figure out a way to fairly explain what I mean on a notecard, so I’ll leave it for another rant.

    On the other hand, though wind, solar, or geothermal plants (nuclear too) are more expensive to build, their operating and maintenance costs are low (a little higher for wind maybe, but not that much). So basically once such a plant goes on line you’ve essentially locked in your rate throughout the lifetime of the plant. That’s the benefit, and it’s an important one. But it makes comparisons based on estimations of “levelized costs” very tricky, because the levelized cost estimate of a gas or coal-fired plant is based on the price of the commodity at least a couple of years in the past rather than upon estimates of future fuel prices. Thus, the levelized cost of such a plant is always based on past commodity prices. But really, how realistic is that? Remember, whatever choice you make now has to stand for at least 40 years — unless it becomes apparent in the mean time your choice really sucked and you pull the plug and accept your losses. Again, Inspector Callahan’s question comes to mind: how lucky do you feel?

    That difference in cost structure is one factor contributing to what I mean by, “you either pay now or pay later”. But as M. Simon indicated, wind technology in particular (situated on shore in a category 4 or above location) is already competitive with the cost of coal-fired plants, even it is assumed the cost of coal will go no higher for the next 40 years (the expected operational life of most utility plants). How likely is that? Geothermal is too — assuming you know where to drill (and that’s actually not as big a question mark as it may sound). The current levelized cost of a solar thermal plant is more than double that of the current levelized cost of a traditional coal-fired plant, so the (delivered) cost of coal would have to almost quadruple in the next 10-15 years to make it cheaper in the long run. Considering how things are going with “at mouth” coal and gas prices, combined with transportaion prices, that sounds like a pretty good bet. Others may have a different perspective. But it has to be recognized that you’re betting no matter which way you choose. In that regard I’m guessing that many of those communities that decided to scuttle their half-built nuclear plants 20 years or so ago would like to rethink that decision now. Regretfully, that’s not an option anymore. And it’s usually the decisions that don’t work out that leave a taste in your mouth, and the ones that you remember (and perhaps blame on others). Decisions that do work out, on the other hand, tend to be forgotten — regardless of how contentious they were at the time. But that doesn’t make them any less relevant or important. Take the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo project (i.e., the moon project) for example. For those who lived through the late 50s and early 60s, how did it make you feel when the Soviets were launching satellites with and without people in them that spun around the earth while we couldn’t get a vehicle very far off the launch pad without exploding? It took a good long while before we did something the Soviets didn’t do first. Almost a decade after we started trying, in fact. But still, we made it to the moon before they did. How did that make you feel? Exhilarated, I would imagine.

    But then, so what? It cost an immense amount of money, all of it at the government till. And for what purpose? We haven’t been back in more than 30 years. So what?

    I’ll just let that question hang, because I really think it needs to percolate down into peoples’ psyches to really appreciate. Personally, I can think of all sorts of technologies, even attitudes, that came out of it that were nothing short of transforming. And personally, I think we are on the threshold of another equally contentious, but transforming event. Maybe it doesn’t have the same pizzaz as walking on the moon, but as far as transforming goes, it has a considerable amount of punch. But now, as it was then, it’s impossible to predict the future with absolute certainty. But I get the impression from many of the comments here that because we can’t predict the future with absolute certainty we shouldn’t even try. But I think it’s important to understand that neglecting to make a decision is a decision in itself. And either way, it carries as much import.

    So much for soaring through space. Back on earth — and even worse, into policy detail… Unfortunately, most utilities are required to couple their profits with their output. If operating costs go up, they can pass them onto the consumer (and they make a percentage profit on that increase). Capital costs, on the other hand, can’t be passed on to the consumer, becaues the finances are structured completely differently. Under that scenario, what sense does it make to spend a lot on capital costs if your operating costs are almost certainly going to remain low? IMO, one of the smartest things the CA legislature did was allow utility companies to decouple their profits from consumption levels (and by extension fuel costs). That allowed them to profit from conservation efforts and truly levelize their construction costs with operating costs. Regretfully, they didn’t do that until sometime after they privatized the major utility companies, and that allowed the consumers to get preyed upon by energy traders like Enron. That was pretty miserable. But hey, growing pains happen. And it was the kind of mistake that could be revisited and corrected. And to their credit, they eventually they got it right. That, I would say, is a good example of a situation where the “wrongheaded” government response would be to not respond at all, or to continue to respond badly. It is also another example of what I mean by, “you either pay now or pay later”. And because they eventually responded — rightheadedly, I would argue — it’s one of the reasons why CA is now booming with alternative energy activity. It is incorrect to assume that all it takes is for the government to get out of the way. To call for it makes for a powerful talking point, and it fits well on a notecard. But it doesn’t fit with reality. It simply isn’t possible. As Immelt said, there is no such thing as a truly free market. Even Evan has acknowledged that the government has a right to regulate sulphur, particulates, heavy metal emissions, and the like. Apparently Evan also advocates government involvement in assisting the poorest countries to “rich up quick”. I can’t say that for certain, because he hasn’t provided so much as a single detail. But I’m pretty sure he doesn’t expect individual companies, or even individual industries to help much without a supporting governmental framework. Or maybe he expects Bono, the Gates foundation, the Clinton foundation, and the WHO to do the heavy lifting.

    Related to that, I have a question… where are the conservative-leaning organizations in the equation?

    George Bush deserves credit for the initiatives he championed in Africa to combat AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Of course, he didn’t do it out of pocket — he used US government funds. And though he helped to lead the way, other agencies collectively contributed more to the effort than did the US gov’t. And so far the entire effort has amounted to what… $1.5 billion or so ($500 million has been offered by the US gov’t)? Is that the level of initiative required to assist the poorest countries to “rich up quick”? I’m guessing it might require more. And frankly, other than the money pumped into supporting domestic politicians, think tanks, media operatives, or other pundits, I can’t think of a single conservative-leaning organization that’s actually out there on the front lines trying to do good for no other reason than doing what’s right. I can think of a lot of left-leaning organizations that are. And I think that’s sad. Houston, we have a problem.

  132. Evan, I think it might be time for you to elucidate how you plan to have the poorest countries of the world rich up quick.

    A good first step would be to stop trying to force them to sign promises not to.

    It seems to me that, among other things, it requires a substantial increase in energy use.

    Gosh, yes.

    So if you rely on traditional sources you have to likewise substantially increase the supplies, and make them available in a cost-effective manner.

    India and China have scads of cheap coal. They are now being made to wonder whether they should exploit those riches. I fervently urge that they do so. Africa probably has a lot more wealth yet to be discovered. Let’s stand aside and encourage/support that rather than plant political landmines in their way.

    And I don’t see that happening. I don’t see how it could.

    Put as much energy into looking for it as has been pput into the prevention of looking for it? That would be a change. China has struck in rich on the Gulf Stream tea. Brazil has just discovered about a brazillion barrels.

    Seek and ye shall find. Put your bucket down where you are.

    Mwanwhile, I have no objection to any energy alternative that PAYS. But let the market decide and keep the government the heck out of it.

    BTW, the interstate highway system was conceived of primarily as a military program. (And if it hadn’t been for specific individuals such as Robert Moses, nothing meaningful would have been accomplished.

    Let’s talk about the health effects of burning fossil fuels.

    The short answer is that poverty is a much deadlier killer than bad air. Once poverty goes away, bad air brcomes a big killer. So that gets solved. Like in every developed country. Once countries develop, they clean up. Not before.
    And so it goes.

    I don’t know what you guys are reading, but everything I read is largely consistent with the things expressed above: prices of oil, gas, and coal will continue to go up because demand is out-stripping supply.

    The solution is expanding exploration. (We ought to try it sometime. Or the Chinese WILL kick our ass.) But, as i said, I am in favor of whatever will PAY.

    Evan also advocates government involvement in assisting the poorest countries to “rich up quick”. I can’t say that for certain, because he hasn’t provided so much as a single detail. But I’m pretty sure he doesn’t expect individual companies, or even individual industries to help much without a supporting governmental framework.

    We kept India from starving. But once that was accomplished, india did it nearly 100% on its own via privatization. So has China (by rejecting government economic centralizatrion). To make then sign Kyoto would be a crime against humanity, and if they did, I would encourage them to violate it.

    We don’t need to patronize these countries. We just need to get the heck out of their way. They will surprise you.

  133. There is reportedly a Japanese naval record recounting a circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean around 1400 by a Japanese fleet. This might correlate with an ice-free Greenland at approximately the same time.

    Yet the polar bears survived with no polar ice cap at all that particular summer. Could it be that the Polar Bear is a terrestrial animal? Perhaps that’s why so many tourists travel to Churchill, west of the Hudson Bay to view them on the land from large vehicles designed just for that purpose.

  134. Great blog. I love deep thinkers. As a note, check out this blog: http://blogrdie.wordpress.com (not my blog)! Thought that you or readers may like to read it???? What is the WORLD is this blog all about? End of the World type stuff (Armageddon), WAR, Religion, Time Travel?! Or someone is driking too much!! (LOL) Again good content!

  135. I highly recommend the British documentary film “The Great Global Warming Swindle.” It convincingly points out the holes in the conventional thinking about climate change, including in Al Gore’s movie “Inconvenient Truth,” and presents what appears to be a plausible alternative hypothesis. You can find it in segments by doing a search on YouTube.com.

  136. The Science Deniers are all about a one world government. Therefore even if we go into a mini ice age they will still cry “climate change cause by global warming.”

  137. I wonder what the “Scientific Community” will look like in 20 years.
    With the students in the universities worldwide being taught that such matters as Global Warming and “Renewable Energy” are Paramount as Ends to be sought instead of true science, I wonder if the entire field of science can be corrupted as well.
    A lie told long enough and vehemently enough becomes reality in the new age of the left leaning Press and publications geared to halting true scientific progress in favor of Globalism.
    In that environment, the Ends always justify the Means.

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