Roger Pielke Jr. describes the politics of unlikely climate scenarios

By Larry Kummer. From the Fabius Maximus website.

Summary: The public policy choices we make about climate policy depend on the future that we expect. Here Roger Pielke Jr. describes an example of how climate scenarios too often misrepresent what we know about our world and its likely futures.

Pielke on Climate” – part 3 of 3.

The Politics of Inconceivable Scenarios.

By Roger Pielke Jr. at The Climate Fix.

Posted with his generous permission.

Lightly edited.

Introduction.

Welcome to issue #7 of my occasional newsletter on climate and energy issues. As a reminder, my day-to-day research or writing is focused on sports governance and various issues of science policy. But I’ve written a fair bit on the topics of climate and energy over the past 25 years, including two recent books and a boatload of academic papers, and I’m paying attention. So caveat lector {reader beware}! …

The Politics of Inconceivable Scenarios.

Last for this month, but perhaps most important, is a hugely significant paper published by Justin Ritchie and Hadi Dowlatabdi of the University of British Columbia titled “Why do climate scenarios return to coal?” {In Energy, December 2017.} The paper argues that the IPCC’s scenario for future emissions of carbon dioxide most often characterized as “business-as-usual” (technically called RCP 8.5) should be considered implausible. They explain: “RCP8.5 no longer offers a trajectory of 21st-century climate change with physically relevant information for continued emphasis in scientific studies or policy assessments.”

Why does this matter? A “business as usual” {BAU} scenario is frequently used as the basis for projections of how the future climate will evolve in the absence of climate policy that seeks to reduce emissions. The difference between BAU and a climate policy scenario in terms of climate outcomes is thus characterized as the consequences (and sometimes the costs) of not mitigating.

Right away you can see that for those seeking to argue the case for mitigation action, there is every incentive for BAU to be as bad as possible. But what if BAU isn’t as bad as it used to be, under assumptions that may have made sense in the 1970s for a dramatic return-to-coal through the 21st century? Should today’s BAU baseline be made more realistic?

Clean Energy. CEA image

Clean Energy. CEA image.

Larry Kummer has done a great job documenting how RCP 8.5 has been frequently invoked as a “business-as-usual” scenario.

{See “Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No!” describes the implausible assumptions of RCP8.5 — which makes it a good worst-case analysis. Also see this about the use of RCP8.5: “Manufacturing climate nightmares: misusing science to create horrific predictions.“}

In fact, once you start looking, you’ll see RCP 8.5 everywhere in the climate impacts literature. For instance, just yesterday, PNAS published a quick-turnaround study by Kerry Emanuel: “Assessing the present and future probability of Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall“. It argued that storms like Hurricane Harvey will become 6x more common by 2100 under RCP 8.5. But if RCP 8.5 is implausible, then so too are Emanuel’s results (any other methodological issues aside).

Revisiting BAU has profound significance. As Ritchie and Dowlatabadi explained in an earlier paper (“The 1000 GtC coal question: Are cases of vastly expanded future coal combustion still plausible?” in Energy Economics, June 2017 – Gated): “For the past quarter-century, high emission baselines have been the focus of research, explicitly or implicitly shaping national policy benchmarks, such as estimates for the social cost of carbon.” That innocuous sentence gets close to a third rail of the climate debate — the social cost of carbon (SCC).

The more extreme the BAU scenario, the higher the SCC and the higher the cost of what those using the SCC would claim to be acceptable regulatory action. See the incentives at play here?

The Ritchie and Dowlatabadi paper reveals a deeply problematic aspect of the climate issue: It depends almost entirely on competing visions of the future as codified in integrated assessment models. The costs of action and inaction are based on the assumptions used to build these models – not evidence, not data but assumptions.

Policy arguments based on assumptions in highly speculative models are tailor-made for pathological politicization, appeals to authority and gatekeeping to protect from critical views. Based on this, in the real world of politics they also have very little weight in near-term policy decisions.

A far better approach would be to focus on carbon-free energy as a proportion of global supply and to argue about what would actions would move that proportion from a current ~14% towards upwards of 90%.

Proportion of global energy consumption from carbon-free sources

Richie says he has faced some difficulties getting his arguments published: “Despite getting over 30 peer reviews collected from all of these journals, no one has shot it down,” he said, adding that he still has detected a reluctance among some scholars to grapple with his observations. “Maybe I’m completely wrong about all of this, and here I’ve written all these papers and there’s some critical flaws in them. That’s great — tell me about it,” Ritchie said. “Please! Someone just read it!”

Read it. It is important.

————–————–

About the world’s coal reserves

The stories about almost unlimited coal reserves were based on crude estimates — looking at volume of coal beds but ignoring their energy content (much of the world’s coal beds have the energy content of kitty litter). The process of marking them down began with “Coal: Research and Development to Support National Energy Policy“ by Gregson Vaux. Many reports continued his work, especially the 2007 National Academies report: “Coal: Research and Development to Support National Energy Policy..“

The relationship between mineral reserves, resources, and prices has long been understood by geologists and those in the mining industry, but is poorly understood by the public (as seen in the flood of nonsense during the “peak oil” hysteria of 2005-13). For a good intro see this excerpt from the classic Copper the anatomy of an industry by Sir Ronald Prain (1975).


Roger Pielke Jr

Roger Pielke Jr.

Roger Pielke, Jr. is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the U of CO-Boulder. He was Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research. He is now Director of the Sports Governance Center in the Dept of Athletics. Before joining the faculty of the U of CO, from 1993-2001 he was a Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

His research focuses on science, innovation and politics. He holds degrees in mathematics, public policy and political science from the University of Colorado. In 2006 he received the Eduard Brückner Prize in Munich for outstanding achievement in interdisciplinary climate research. In 2012 Roger was awarded an honorary doctorate from Linköping University in Sweden and the Public Service Award of the Geological Society of America.

His page at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research has his bio, CV, and links to some of his publications. His website has links to his works, and essays about the many subjects on which he works.

He is also author, co-author or co-editor of seven books, including The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics (2007), The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming (2010), The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change (2014), and The Edge: The War against Cheating and Corruption in the Cutthroat World of Elite Sports (2016).

For More Information

For more information see The keys to understanding climate change, all posts about Roger Pielke Jr., about coal, about the RCPs, and My posts about climate change, and especially these …

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76 thoughts on “Roger Pielke Jr. describes the politics of unlikely climate scenarios

  1. RCP 8.5 is certainly implausible. But without that, the alarmist scenario and the SCC arguments disappear. Poof!
    Along with that Poof! goes hundreds, if not thousands, of non-climate papers that use or assume that fake RCP8.5 climate fairy-tale as a baseline for their “research.” If RCP8.5 goes Poof!, then so does a lot of other strap-hangers-on papers.

    It is a cascade of junk science that begets more junk science. It is a shrewdly employed artifice-scheme by alarmists, whereby everyone can jump on the climate gravy train, as long as they are willing to uncritically follow along.
    Those that don’t, … well they don’t get published. And then they wither on vine and die as grant funding vanishes without publication. See the incentives to play the climate change charade game?

    Climate change fake science has corrupted much of the natural sciences.

    • In the legal world, they use a term called “fruit of the poisoned tree” for evidence obtained under illegal circumstances.
      Many here are no doubt somewhat familiar with this legal term. It means illegally obtained evidence can poison all subsequent evidence, even if legally obtained, if only by the knowledge of the illegally (poisoned) evidence.

      In the science world, “illegal” should be substituted with “highly suspect in validity.”

      RCP85 is basically poison RCP 8.5 is highly suspect in validity. Non-climate researchers who use RCP8.5 as an assumed baseline in their study effectively are poisoning their research. In that once RCP8.5 becomes widely recognized as junk (highly suspect in validity), then so will that too poison their past and current research that invoke/s/ed that suspect scenario.

    • Yet the alarmists consider RCP8.5 to be a conservative estimate (see frequent comments at skeptical science)

    • Joel,

      You nailed it! RCP8.5 is the foundation for the hysteria — the claims by everyone, up to and including the Pope, that the world is doomed unless we go Left.

      Without RCP8.5 as an anti-Gospel (the “Bad News”), the debate must be about how much warming and when. About science, not the morality play the climate activists prefer.

      They will fight to prevent that. Much as they did to hide the pause — concealing from the public the hundreds of peer-reviewed papers about its nature and causes, claiming that only “deniers” talked about it.

      • Arguments about different RCP’s means jack shit. 1) TCR and 2) ECS is where the money is.

        Bet on 1 and 2, respectively, and you will win ‘boucoup’ bucks in a few years. [Boucoup comes from GIs that don’t want to learn French.]

  2. I have seen extended discussions of the Social Cost of Carbon on this site, and many of the calculations use assumptions that are as lame as RCP8.5. One of the largest is reducing the current cost of money, using an unreal discount rate, without which, the purported benefits of action now vanish.

    • “Policy arguments based on assumptions in highly speculative models are tailor-made for pathological politicization”
      the biggest and stupidest assumption is that anything needs to be done at all.
      but pielke lives on the dole, so what else will he say?
      and kummer is all about creeping fabian socialism- so he has a natural ally.
      get out of the way, moochers.
      you have nothing to offer. nobody needs you.

    • Good point.

      … how the damages are estimated and focused on how the calculation depends greatly upon the arbitrary choice of discount rate. link

      The evidence is that carbon based fuels have been hugely beneficial for the economy. The social benefits of carbon far exceed the social costs.

      Economics is complicated by the fact that it deals with human behaviour. That’s why economists have a miserable record when it comes to making accurate predictions. That said, it’s pretty obvious that diverting much of the world’s resources to fight climate change won’t do anything good for the economy.

      The alarmists tell us that the money we spend now on carbon mitigation will result in “green” jobs. That’s bunk. link It hasn’t happened and there’s no evidence that it will happen.

      The economy will suffer. The people will suffer. Someone should calculate the social costs of carbon mitigation.

  3. I already forgot what BAU stands for. Why don’t you all just spell it out each time rather than using personalized acronyms?????

    OK BAU = “business as usual” when I scroll to the top. Just spell it out each time for all of you is my suggestion…

    The posts are already wordy and the acronyms wouldn’t add much if they were just spelled out each time. …just sayin…

  4. The RCP scenarios are nothing but an additional layer of uncertainty added on top of a sensitivity with +/-50% uncertainty of its own all in an effort to hide the truth beneath layers of obfuscation, misdirection and misrepresentation.

    • It sounds “sciency”…Relative Concentration Pathway at 8.5 watts per square meter… use that as a pickup line at the bar. Gets ’em every time, … their eyes glaze over, they go comatose. Better than a Bill Cosby juice drink.

      • Given the maximum possible sensitivity of 0.3C per W/m^2 as limited by the SB Law, even 8.5 W/m^2 of forcing would only mean an upper limit increase of about 2.5C. Ironically, they can’t even add enough uncertainty with the RCP scenarios to make the actual worst case seem particularly harmful, much less catastrophic. Note that 8.5 W/m^2 is said to arise by increasing CO2 by a factor of more than 5.

  5. There is a simple fact the whole emissions control and the Paris agreement is dead. USA is the only large emitter that has an outside chance to be inside it’s 2020 targets everyone else will fail. We haven’t even flattened the emissions and we are supposed to cut emissions by half in the next decade. Then you look at all the planning and there is 3-5 years of big emission projects still planned and ready to go.

    Now in most of the developed countries there has been political push back. Even in countries that have high climate change acceptance they have large domestic problems and the idea of spending large amounts of cash to save other parts of the world isn’t popular. The whole thing is compounded by refugee issues which is again seen as spending large amounts of resources on people that aren’t of that country. The only tool you can leverage to try to counter is fairness and guilt which is a very weak motivator. Now other causes like groups who want world equality have effectively hijacked Climate Science making the messaging very mixed.

    Even for those who believe in CAGW the process is dead. You can not get enough political will to tackle the problem that way, the world events over last few years should have proved that. My guess is you would need to come up with a plan that involved direct tackling of the problem.

    • LDB,

      “My guess is you would need to come up with a plan that involved direct tackling of the problem.”

      The problem needs to be identified first, and it has nothing to do with CO2 emissions or the climate.

      • Yeah I saw the 4 corners report. I am not a fan of the mine I think it is a big risk to the reef for very few jobs for a pile of cash. Like most in Australia I am pretty ambivalent about the decision but I will come down on the Government if they do not do proper EPA controls. Any of the sorts of breaches we saw in the 4 corners reports and the company gets fined and shutdown.

        However that aside, if anything could ever get thru to an Econutt that they are being played, it is that mine. No body was willing to finance a coal mine of that scale at this point in history except for China. You can’t deflect and say it’s corporate greed, they are China State owned banks and companies. There is a political game being played and anyone with an IQ of a 10 year old should see that. Griff, probably won’t and will insist China is really supportive of CAGW.

      • “The problem needs to be identified first, and it has nothing to do with CO2 emissions or the climate.”

        Agree that it has nothing to do with climate…………which will do just fine as will life on this planet.

        It does have to do with CO2 emissions because that’s what results from burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels is the life blood to efficiently, cheaply and reliably drive the economies and growth of developed countries……..which is the problem.

        The problem is that we have too much productivity and it needs to be throttled down in the developed countries to a level that provides “sustainable growth” as the United Nations calls it.

        The most effective way to throttle down the productivity/economy of a big natural resource consuming country is by either taking away its cheap energy sources or by making them very expensive.

        Another objective is to redistribute the world’s wealth. The Climate Accord does exactly that by design. Large sums of money flow from developed countries to undeveloped countries.

        Those are some of the main problems as defined by the gate keepers……the United Nations and others. To solve them, they are using a creative strategy that employs a “save the planet” narrative to stir emotions/support. The manufactured evidence comes from global climate models programmed based on a speculative theory that projects the next 100 years of a climate headed for catastrophe.

        Never mind the past 40 years have featured the best weather/climate and CO2 conditions for life and crop growing since at least 1,000 years ago……….not in spite of changes in weather/climate but because of them.

        Show me a scientist that fully acknowledges/embraces this last reality and I’ll show you an honest/objective scientist……..regardless of his/her view on where we are headed from here.

      • Can’t wait for the next, inevitable grand solar minimum. First, because I’m an avid skier and second to see what nonsense the alarmists at the IPCC come up with to wiggle out of the flawed rationalizations they use to justify their otherwise unsupportable agenda.

    • Impressive numbers from that mine

      40 million tonnes of coal a year shipped
      200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year
      Exceeds the CO2 emissions of small countries like Belgium, Austria and Sweden.

    • I love coal, but Adani are not worthy to shine our shoes. They’ll bring in Indian labour, make a complete mess, and then get bailout from my tax dollars. They have a record.

  6. Creating the worst possible comparisons and scenarios is standard operating procedure for the whole ‘Green’ project in their popular and ‘science’ propaganda.

    The Gang will keep using this worst case BAU scenario until something knocks the obsolete RCP 8.5 off its current authoritative pedestal. They sure won’t do it from inside the Climate Swamp but it seems that this might be the time to get that done. Fake politicized news has been challenged and exposed. Time to put more light on fake politicized science.

  7. “unlikely climate scenarios”
    We’ve been through this before, but once again, scenarios are not predictions. They represent choices that people might make. Scientists don’t know what those choices will be; it isn’t a scientific issue. They don’t evaluate likelihood. They calculate a range of possible choices. Ranges have two ends, and RCP8.5 is one of them.

    Now Roger’s actual question was
    ” Should today’s BAU baseline be made more realistic?”
    and that is a reasonable one, although he and the editor keep repeating the descriptor BAU, which is not that of the IPCC. It may be that he thinks we won’t return to coal use etc on the scale envisaged. I don’t think Mr Trump would agree, but anyway, the point is that if at least some significant group thinks it is a possibility, scientists should include it in their range. CMIP is a major effort, and its design should try to anticipate all the questions that might be asked.

    You have to put the end point somewhere, and Roger is right to say that should be examined. It is.

    • “scenarios are not predictions. They represent choices that people might make. Scientists don’t know what those choices will be; it isn’t a scientific issue. They don’t evaluate likelihood. They calculate a range of possible choices. Ranges have two ends, and RCP8.5 is one of them.”

      That’s an extremely disingenuous comment. They represent scientific predictions based on choices

      • ” They represent scientific predictions based on choices”
        They do. The scenarios represent the choices. Science predicts what will happen if you do that.

      • Nick, since we most assuredly won’t do that (RCP 8.5), what is the problem?

        Is the goal informing the public or scaring the public?

    • “scenarios are not predictions”, indeed, and you can imagine any scenario you want. The scarier, the better. This is the basis of ENTERTAINMENT, not the basis of science.
      The point is, you surely don’t make your policy based on a “day after tomorrow” scenario, do you?

      “If at least some significant group thinks it is a possibility, scientists should include it in their range”
      Only if they do dispose of the required tools. “what if i tried to send on object to the moon ?” is indeed a legit technical question for a scientist, when he has all the knowledge required.
      When he hasn’t, and “climate scientists” DON’T have the knowledge, the only scientific answer is “I don’t know”, period.
      any other is NOT scientific answer.

    • Its the outcome of those scenarios.

      Scenarios are fiction….. Outcomes are non-science fantasy !!

      Hanson’s original “low carbon” scenario is what the world’s temperatures are following, (or below),

      ….. while CO2 follows the “lots of carbon” scenario.

      Its all just non-validated JUNK SCIENCE !!

      Meaningless.

    • They are predictions based on a certain set of parameters i.e. people’s choices.

      To say they are not predictions is not just misleading, it’s stupid.

      • No, people’s choices are the scenario. Given that, scientists can make a projection.

        If you were to drive at 60mph and hit the brakes, a scientist might predict how long it will take to stop. He’s not predicting that you will brake, or even drive. That is the scenario. Choices you might make.

      • Nick, you, I and everyone else knows that RCP 8.5 was postulated to scare the shit out of everyone, given IPCC’s assumed TCR and ECS values. It assumes future people are stupid.

    • The different development teams for the IPCC RCP Scenarios were told what to shoot for by the politicians/bureaucrats at the UN. There was no “… some significant group thinks it is a possibility …”

      The use of RCP 8.5 invalidates the results of any climate study, especially unlikely economic models using unbelievably low discount rates. Political elite lies, nothing less.

    • Nick is here to confuse the debate!

      (1) “We’ve been through this before, but once again, scenarios are not predictions.”

      Nick loves to devise strawman and then defeat them! Those that read the post know that Pielke Jr. never used the word “prediction.” He discusses the misrepresentation of RCP8.5 as the “business as usual” scenario. RCP8.5 assumes, as a good worst-case scenario should, ugly changes in key trends.

      (2) “although he and the editor keep repeating the descriptor BAU, which is not that of the IPCC.”

      This is a slur, which is “business as usual” rhetoric by Nick. Pielke does not say that the IPCC used the phrase “BAU”. I frequently and explicitly say that the IPCC did not describe RCP8.5 as BAU — and trace this error back to the beginning in Keywan Riahi et al in Climate Change, November 2011.

      For those that prefer facts to Nick, see this history of RCP8.5 in the literature and general media: https://fabiusmaximus.com/2015/11/05/visions-of-dark-climate-future-90153/

      (3) “the point is that if at least some significant group thinks it is a possibility, scientists should include it in their range.”

      Nick loves to repeat content from the post as if was a rebuttal. Those that read the post saw: “the implausible assumptions of RCP8.5 — which makes it a good worst-case analysis.”

      • “Pielke Jr. never used the word “prediction.””
        Roger was careful. But your intro said
        “Here Roger Pielke Jr. describes an example of how climate scenarios too often misrepresent what we know about our world and its likely futures.”,/i>
        How could it misrepresent a “likely future” if it isn’t a prediction.

        “This is a slur, which is “business as usual” rhetoric by Nick. Pielke does not say that the IPCC used the phrase “BAU”.”
        He said
        “The paper argues that the IPCC’s scenario for future emissions of carbon dioxide most often characterized as “business-as-usual” (technically called RCP 8.5) should be considered implausible. “
        That’s pretty close. But if you want to split hairs, I didn’t claim that ‘Pielke did say that the IPCC used the phrase “BAU”’ either.

        “which makes it a good worst-case analysis”
        If that’s true, what’s the complaint?

      • Hey, Nick! I propose RCP 10.5. Doesn’t that meet your: ““which makes it a good worst-case analysis” If that’s true, what’s the complaint?”

        Come on. The UN bureaucrats picked a value for RCP 8.5 because it is scary, but could be defended by a concerted PR campaign.

        With or without IPCC RCP’s, I (and Dr. Judith Curry) believe the IPCC climate models are bunk. Do you believe they are fit for the purpose of fundamentally altering our society, economy and energy systems?

        Don’t be shy; you say a lot of stuff that would tend to support that belief. Man up! Tell us what you really believe about the relative merits of Capitalism vs UN sustainable economic development.

      • Scariest scenario I can think of is that solar troughs have more effect that the “climate scientists” think they do..

        .. and the world drops into a prolonged cooler period akin to another LIA. !

      • Why use conscious deception and bruit misleading or incomplete facts/opinion, Nick?

        Why do you feel the need to support the unsupportable CAGW meme, Nick? You tickle the fringes of speculation in arguing the certainty of CAGW. Why don’t you acknowledge the contrary facts and uncertainties surrounding CAGW dogma?

        You know the Uncertainty Monster, don’t you, Nick? You come here with tangential “facts” that only amount to obfuscation of the manifest facts denying CAGW.

      • I have only started reading Nick Cowen’s “Why be Robust”,
        https://www.academia.edu/28711593/Why_be_robust

        to see if it expands Hardin thinking on “corrective feedbacks” as it relates to administrative laws.

        The concept of opportunity costs seems to be missing when looking at “implausible assumptions” in various technical fixes to the level of co2 in the sky.

  8. I think it is worth distinguishing between emission pathways and concentration pathways. RCP8.5 is, formally, a concentration pathway (i.e., a pathway determined by atmospheric concentrations) that leads to a change in external forcing of 8.5W/m^2 by 2100. One can associate an emission pathway with this concentration pathway. However, given the uncertainties in the carbon cycle feedbacks, there is not a single emission pathway associated with RCP8.5. It does indeed now seem quite likely that we will not follow one of the higher emission pathways. However, we still cannot – as far as I’m aware – rule out a lower emission pathway that may still lead to something close to an RCP8.5 concentration pathway.

    • Of course we can rule out any RCP8.5 concentration pathway. Because obviously CO2 concentration increase at a mere +2ppm/year rate while humans emits >10ppm/year. Which implies sinks are way stronger than claimed (which is indeed basic chemistry: the more CO2 pressure, the stronger reactions eating it), and means that extra human CO2 disappears in a matter of months, not century as “settled science” claims. IPCC has it wrong in the 100x magnitude. RCP8.5 concentration pathway.is Hollywood stuff.

      • . Because obviously CO2 concentration increase at a mere +2ppm/year rate while humans emits >10ppm/year.

        We emit about 10GtC per year, which is about 4.7ppm. So, the natural sinks are taking up about half of our emissions, which is pretty much exactly as claimed.

      • Ye. 5ppm/year if you will. which change absolutely nothing.
        extra human CO2 STILL disappears in a matter of months, not century as “settled science” claims.
        IPCC has STILL it wrong in the 100x magnitude.
        RCP8.5 concentration pathway is STILL Hollywood stuff.

      • “So how come CO2 stands 120ppm higher than a century ago?”

        Absolutely WONDERFUL for all the world’s plant life, hey Nick. :-)

        I hope that humans are causing at least some of the rise in aCO2, because with 1600 new coal fired power stations being built, and a forecast increase of some 40% increase in CO2 emissions, that would further ENHANCE the level of atmospheric CO2. :-)

      • I 100% agree with everything written in this article. Except for 19 years of empirical data of nearly steady temperatures while atmospheric CO2 concentration continued to rise at the virtually linear rate just as it has in all the time the Mauna Loa Observatory has been measuring it. Which PROVES CO2 does not drive temperature in a significant manner. So WRT atmospheric CO2 concentration, why should we care?

  9. Aw, com’n “much of the world’s coal beds have the energy content of kitty litter” . I think that is probably over stating a lot of the coal reserve energy content. What could go wrong with burning dirt? Some of the energy content I have seen recently is definitely in the kitty litter range. The other constituent that can massively impact the use of coal is the mercury content. As nations continue to pass mercury emission regulations some coal may not be able to be burned due to high mercury content. BAU is unrealistic and simplistic. Projecting industry behavior related to world events is complicated. Maybe too complicated, so just take the worst scenario and to with it. There, we settled that issue. :)

    • Twin Oaks is a fluidized bed that has been burning kitty litter successfully for decades. Flue gas mercury was and remains a BS issue. Mercury is present in tiny amounts, 40% of it removed in the combustion process. It is a health threat ONLY in, you guessed it, MODELS!!!!

    • There are indeed boilers that are designed to burn kitty litter like coal. But the quantity ash generated is huge and the EPA is not ratcheting down the options for disposal. You are correct about mercury but the EPA does not agree with us and are regulating mercury emissions from power plants. The reliability and accuracy of the online measuring instruments are suspect but the EPA keeps on reducing the limits.

    • Gray,

      “What could go wrong with burning dirt?”

      The Kitty Litter analogy is a fun phrase used by one of the DOE’s major coal experts! Most Kitty Litter is made of zeolite, diatomite and sepiolite. I don’t believe these have an energy content in any conventional sense. As you say, just like dirt.

      More realistically, a large volume of the world’s coal bed have unrealistic costs for mining and refining at any level of technology we’re likely to have soon. As for the future, the Phoenix — the first warp starship — is unlikely to be burning coal.

      “The other constituent that can massively impact the use of coal is the mercury content.”

      That’s a powerful point! I’ll include that in future posts about our transition away from coal.

  10. Mr Watts, I wouldn’t publicize work from Larry Kummer, he has banned me from posting on his site. I’m a frequent poster on your blog, and posted similarly on Larry’s site, but opposing arguments are given the same respect they are given on your site. Check out anything I write on my blog or my posts on your site, there is nothing that should have gotten be banned, except that my arguments made Larry look like he was wrong.
    https://co2islife.wordpress.com/

  11. “Maybe I’m completely wrong about all of this, and here I’ve written all these papers and there’s some critical flaws in them. That’s great — tell me about it,” Ritchie said. “Please! Someone just read it!”

    Over 6,100!! (up 4,300 since 6/9) views on my WriterBeat papers which were also sent to the ME departments of several prestigious universities (As a BSME & PE felt some affinity.) and a long list of pro/con CAGW personalities and organizations.

    NOBODY has responded explaining why my methods, calculations and conclusions in these papers are incorrect. BTW that is called SCIENCE!! (Well, I did get a lecture on water vapor which sort of misses the CO2 point.)

    SOMEBODY needs to step up and ‘splain my errors ‘cause if I’m correct (Q=UAdT runs the atmospheric heat engine) – that’s a BIGLY problem for RGHE.

    Step right up! Bring science.

    http://writerbeat.com/articles/14306-Greenhouse—We-don-t-need-no-stinkin-greenhouse-Warning-science-ahead-

    http://writerbeat.com/articles/15582-To-be-33C-or-not-to-be-33C

    http://writerbeat.com/articles/16255-Atmospheric-Layers-and-Thermodynamic-Ping-Pong

  12. The “social cost of carbon”? What an incredibly Orwellian meme. Eliminate carbon (energy) and you’re going to find out what the SCC really is……

  13. “much of the world’s coal beds have the energy content of kitty litter” — Please, don’t give warmist environmentalists ideas.

  14. Actually it’s not just the rcp8.5 scenario that kills the probability of catastrophic consequences.

    3 things determine this fate.
    1) Does CO2 reach 800ppm or above by 2100?
    2) Does CO2 have the 2.5 or greater TCS
    3) Do higher temperature and co2 produce more negative impact than positive impact

    All 3 must be true or there is no possibility of catastrophe from co2.

    You see if co2 stays below 800 then there is not enough co2 to produce enough difference. If co2 doesn’t produce a high impact on temperature as the models suggest then we can’t get enough difference and if we do get the temperature from the co2 but the temperature itself isn’t really a problem for life then there is no problem. All 3 of these things must happen or there is no catastrophe.

    So, what are the chances of each of these 3.

    1) We are likely to reach 600ppm before the end of the century maybe a little less and then decline thereafter.
    This is not enough co2 to cause enough temperature change and damage from 2 or 3 even if they were true.

    2) The actual change in temp from 1945-2017 since we have been producing significant co2 is about 0.4C or 0.05C/decade or about 1/4 of what they predicted. A more “generous analysis might be 0.6C or 0.8C but in any case, the amount of change that’s happened in response to co2 has been at best 1/2 of what they predicted. Thus on this basis alone it is looking very bad that co2 could cause problems,

    3) Lastly, it is not at all clear that warming to the extent it has been happening is producing or will produce any negative effects that could counterbalance the clear and proven positive effects of co2 and warmth. In numerous studies, nasa has shown that plant life has increased 30% from the 1970s when satellites were first launched. This is in contrast to environmentalists who will tell you that plants are dying. Like their estimates of landlocked glacier flow, they look at the local phenomenon and then grossly overestimate for political purposes most likely. They overestimated land locked glacier flow by 900%. Bolstering the tremendous life-giving properties of co2 is the heat (assuming we get any) which lancet and other studies have shown dramatically decrease death with warming temps. Diseases such as pneumonia, heart disease are greatly amplified by cold temperature.

    In fact, effort to limit co2 output by raising the cost of energy in Europe has resulted in the last year alone in 40,000 excess “energy poverty” deaths, a new term that refers to people dying in their homes freezing to death, using candles instead of light bulbs resulting in their homes or apartment complexes burning down and fires from camp stoves used to heat food.

    Due to the multiplicative nature due to the need for all 3 of the above effects to be true the chances of catastrophic consequences from co2 is zero.

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