Roger Pielke Jr.: climate science is misusing the future

By Larry Kummer. From the Fabius Maximus website.

“Misusing the Future”

Image from http://atom.smasher.org/construction/ for the purpose of headlining this article, not part of Dr. Pielke’s presentation

A presentation by Roger Pielke Jr. at a symposium on

ALternative Pathways toward Sustainable development and climate stabilization (ALPS).

Sponsored by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), 9 February 2018.

Posted with his generous permission. PDF copy here.

Summary

“The talk focuses on a number of “fudge factors” in IAMs, specifically assumptions of spontaneous decarbonization, misuse of RCP 8.5 in climate impact studies and the dependence on Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) in scenarios. Three other assumptions I could have included are temperature overshoot assumptions, estimates of climate sensitivity and misleading definitions of what constitutes ‘energy access.'”

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Excerpt from notes by Pielke at his website

We identified the importance of assumptions of spontaneous decarbonization in IPCC scenarios more than a decade ago (Pielke, Wigley and Green 2008). Even though a solid piece of research, our 2008 paper and me specifically were the subject of a furious and sustained attack by the Center for American Progress, such as Joe Romm’s “Why did Nature run Pielke’s pointless, misleading, nonsense?” (the first of dozens of such pieces). With hindsight it seems clear that our paper in 2008 was the trigger for a long effort to drive me out of the climate debate (funded by Tom Steyer with lots of behind-the-scenes help from activist climate scientists).

Looking back at our research, and updating it in my Tokyo talk, I observe that heroic assumptions of spontaneous decarbonization not only survived our critique, but have since thrived. They showed up in the following set of IPCC scenarios (the RCPs) and now in the most recent set of scenarios {Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, aka SSPs}. Such assumptions are like a narcotic in the climate debate. They give the impression that the climate policies at the center of international climate diplomacy might actually work, even as evidence of their failure should seem obvious.

In the talk I reference a paper by MIT’s Kerry Emanuel as an example of the misuse of RCP 8.5: “Assessing the present and future probability of Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall.” I cannot overstate how egregiously bad this is. Emanuel’s paper is so bad not simply because it uses RCP 8.5. Rather it is so bad because its estimate of the impacts of climate change on Hurricane Harvey in 2017 are entirely a function of projected impacts in 2100., which he then divided by 6. Had Emanuel used any of the other scenarios out to 2100, then estimated 2017 impacts would have been much less. That’s right, the arbitrary choice of a 2100 emissions scenario determines the impacts of climate change from 1980 to 2017.

As explained in detail in my 2 books on climate (which in turn draw upon the IPCC and many, many peer reviewed papers), there is excellent and robust science on human influences on climate. Make no mistake, this science is robust and performed with integrity. However, the continued misuse of RCP 8.5 to generate scientifically unsupportable estimates of climate impacts places climate advocates in a position of promoting dodgy science to support political advocacy originally grounded in solid science. Seriously, Why do this? Scientifically empty studies based on RCP 8.5 legitimately give climate science a bad name. …The emperor’s clothes, though, they are lovely.

Bottom Line: The Emperor’s Clothes.

The three assumptions that I highlight in my talk support three political stances reinforcing the status quo. First, the costs of status quo climate policies are low. Second, the costs of inaction are already extremely high. Third, climate diplomacy is on track because a future, unproven, massive technology will save us. Without these assumptions, each of these political stances is questionable — or at least, should be opened to questioning. While important assumptions go unchallenged and challenging questions go unasked, the IPCC is about to release a report on 1.5 degrees (fantasy land).

————–— End of Pielke’s notes. —————-

About RCP8.5 — a worst-case scenario

As Pielke says, for four years RCP8.5 — the worst-case scenario from the IPCC’s AR5 — has been used to terrify people into support climate activists’ policies. Their key means for doing so was misrepresenting it as the “business as usual scenario” (details here). As I and so many others have shown, it is a useful worst-case scenario — assuming adverse changes in many important and long-standing trends. For example, that fertility stops declining and technological progress slows or stops (details here).

The most important factor in RCP8.5 is the increasing reliance on coal, so that the late 21st century — like the late 19th C — is run by coal. Of course, we see today the opposite happening. The US is shifting away from coal (here and here), as is most of the world (e.g., Britain). Slowly researchers are re-examining the plausibility of a coal-burning future, as in two papers by Justin Ritchie and Hadi Dowlatabadi (in Energy Economics and Environmental Research Letters.

Even steadfast climate alarmist media like Salon and Bloomberg (reluctantly) admit that their fear campaign no appears unjustified. That does not the future will be pleasant. Continued growth in population and greenhouse grass emissions almost guarantee some hard times for the world in the mid-21st century. But not certain doom.

What might save us?

Pielke clearly sketches out the problem. What might save us? The obvious answer is new technology. Unfortunately, governments are investing relatively little in potential breakthrough technologies. But several private companies have promising fusion R&D programs. For example, Lockheed’s compact fusion reactor and TAE Technologies (formerly Tri Alpha Energy). There are roughly 200 fusion R&D projects around the world. We only need one to work. Of course, we cannot count on fusion — or any new tech — to save us.

It will take ten to twenty years to take fusion from success in the lab (when or if) to widespread commercialization. Adoption rates for new technologies in consumer goods are 2x or 3x those typical in the early 20th century. And if it is necessary to save the world, power generation systems can be converted in a decade or two.

Technology Penetration Curve

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 …

  1. Updating the RCPs: The IPCC gives us good news about climate change, but we don’t listen.
  2. How we broke the climate change debates. Lessons learned for the future.
  3. My proposal: Climate scientists can restart the climate change debate – & win.
  4. 2017 was warm. The next few years will be more important.
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132 thoughts on “Roger Pielke Jr.: climate science is misusing the future

  1. ” their fear campaign no appears unjustified. That does not the future will be pleasant. ” — needs some editing

    • Perpetual calamity is item 1 in Modern Marketing 101, it sustains armies of economists, politicians, charity workers, media folk, healthcare lobbyists, aid workers, and … lawyers.
      Meanwhile, I’m off to drive the few miles to my nearest supermarket, stock up on food from all parts of the world, turn on the heating, communicate with relatives in far flung lands, etc. Sheesh, what a hellhole have we made of this world?

      • Larry,
        “Sad but true. Fear is the core marketing message used by Left and Right in America.”
        It looks to me like you are doing some fearmongering there . . What is this Left and this Right you speak of? Do you mean political manipulators, mass media, Party establishment people, and such, which you then think/speak of and treat as “America”? As though ONLY those people are real . . matter, count?
        It looks like “divide and conquer” tactics to me, sir, being pushed by you . .

    • Eric, easy for a climate scientist to solve that one redefine left and right. It is after all what the push of the article is all about.

  2. “Of course, we cannot count on fusion — or any new tech — to save us.” Total nonsense – SMRs such as molten salt will easily, and eonomically, replace any existing power generation technology
    and can do so at enormous capacities – easily can even meet the (exaggerated) estimate of 1.5GW
    every year – that would be three molten salt SMRs, and dozens can be constructed in factories per year.

    • I’ll wait until we actually have a couple of these things producing power commercially for a couple of years before declaring that salvation is upon us.

      • MarkW,
        Exactly. Some skepticism is warranted since we have seen so many confident predictions of a glorious energy future that have not come to fruition. Plus the mother of all cornucopian forecasts:

        “It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter …”
        — Lewis Strauss, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, in a speech at the Founder Day Dinner of the National Association of Science Writers, 16 September 1954. See the details about this speech here.

      • That’s a bit rich after you claim that we can have “widespread” commercial fusion operating 10 years after the lab demonstration. Why? Well we’ve already HAD the lab demonstration of an MSR.

      • Mr. Kumer. There will be no glorious energy future not because of technology, but because warmunism is not about science. It is about political power. if anything threatens to work the warmunists will declare it anathema and seek to ban it.That is why they are so adamantly against nuclear fission reactors. They don’t want to solve problems, they want to be problems..

    • Arthur, Dr. Pelke’s argument is that we need to add 1.5GW per day, not per year. I am a big fan of nuclear. It is the only existing technology that has the potential to reliably replace fossil fuel generation at the scale the CAGW crowd demands. Like other posters, I’ll remain skeptical of SMR’s potential until I see them in operation.

      • SMR != MSR. The economics of conventional LWR are poor and will not improve. There’s simply too much cost in the massive containment and the redundant, redundant cooling systems that are required. Add in the cost of solid fuel manufacture and the horrible burnup (<5%) and you're just stuck. Even if the outrageous regulation were to disappear overnight, we need to move to Gen IV designs to deliver a real renaissance in nuclear power.

    • Yes. Molten salt Reactors built small with modular technology is where I would invest development resources.
      Robert Hargreaves’ “ THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal” is well worth a read. He seems to be talking sense; but I do not have the expertise to judge.
      Just wonder why it is getting so little coverage in the media.

  3. Anthony,
    Couldn’t you just share Pielke’s writing or excerpts from his website?
    Filtering Pielke’s expertise through a stockbroker touting technology companies is probably not a good idea. [“But several private companies have promising fusion R&D programs. For example, Lockheed’s compact fusion reactor and TAE Technologies (formerly Tri Alpha Energy).”] All that’s missing is, “Call quickly. My insider tip says this stock will take off in the next hour!”
    Kummer’s strange mix of repeating alarmist scenarios/fake science, while attempting to appear as a skeptic is the prototypical wolf in sheep’s clothing.
    The stock tout is in such a rush to get his stock picks onto your website that he cannot write:
    “Continued growth in population and greenhouse grass emissions almost guarantee some hard times for the world in the mid-21st century. But not certain doom.”
    Beware this tout.

      • Thanks for the perspective, Anthony.
        It may be worthwhile to examine carefully this guest columnist’s background, point of view, and motivations.
        Since careful examination of people’s background, point of view, and motivations is exactly one of my areas of expertise, I can’t help doing that.
        Kummer is up to something. I think he’s pulling a fast one on you. Still hard to tell what his trick is, but he’s not here with clear intentions.
        Careful.

    • Fact-checking:
      (1) I am a retired stockbroker.
      (2) There is no point to “touting” private companies. Esp one like TAE, which is many years from a public offering — and that assumes that their research produces good results. Which the history of fusion suggests is unlikely to be soon, if ever.

      • Thanks, Larry.
        Then what is it you’re trying to achieve with your postings here?
        You slavishly follow the IPCC. You consistently assert as truth alarmist fake science.
        And you’re always advocating for some sort of government scheme or other.
        You shape-shift, appearing in one sentence to be a skeptic; and the next to worship Pauchari and his gang.
        What is your point of view?
        What is your motivation?
        What are you driving towards?
        Thanks again.
        Kent

      • ==>Kent Clizbe
        I can’t stand Larry Kummer’s writing either. His missives* actually make my stomach churn. I’m obviously not arguing against the person* – someone I’ve never met – but I am totally against “his” position! I distrust this writer more than anyone I have ever read.
        The patronising persona he portrays in comments to his own posts is particular ridiculous.***
        It is a constant mystery to me, why this “figure” – for want of a better word – is given a platform on WUWT.
        And that makes me question every assumption I have about the truth of the reality of this forum. ;-(
        * With the emphasis on miss, i.e. the verb, fail to hit or reach…etc!
        **ad hominem.
        ***Ridiculous to me, of course!

  4. with respect to the author and Roger Pielke, they are very wrong about a solution to a speculative problem. Even if you believe that “Continued growth in population and greenhouse grass emissions almost guarantee some hard times for the world in the mid-21st century . . . ” The answer is not government programs to stimulate new technologies. There is very little indication that government attempting to solve a problem has resulted in success. More often than not it has resulted in billions of dollars being spent on a dead end. Instead, government can raise awareness of a problem and let the private sector solve it. That is how we have achieved almost every great innovation. Yes the government instituted the basic form of the internet, but that would have remained an obscure government network without the private sector providing the core technology to build it and the private sector seeing the opportunity to use it in a more robust manner. Government bureaucrats are NEVER the answer, and usually are the problem.
    Which then leads us to the underlying premise as quoted above — continued growth in population and CO2 emissions. Neither of these have historically been a problem in search of a solution, although for hundreds of years we have constantly heard the refrain that we must contain growth in order to survive. Yet it has been growth, innovation, economic expansion that has allowed mankind to prosper. When we strangle growth for reasons as stated, we end up with stagnant economies, greater poverty and less opportunity for everyone.
    Because you have a kind heart, a loving soul and a concern for humanity doesn’t make advocating for policies which are only slightly better than the alarmists a good thing. It makes you an enabler of dangerous behavior. I am many other objective analysts are still waiting for some scientific evidence that CO2 is driving our climate. It has yet to be more than a hypothetical form of causation that is poorly correlated given past data/history. Given this, we should question the premise advocated in this article and certainly criticize its suggested solution.

  5. They are claiming to be searching for pathways to “Climate Stabilization” …. let that sink in.

  6. Here’s another one to go after. LAT’s piece in their print edition today (pics of flooded Houston and Philippines, all a part of the show): Even with pledges to fight global warming, you’d better brace yourself for more extreme weather Bits:

    . . we’re likely to see “substantial and widespread increases in the probability of historically unprecedented extreme events,” researchers wrote Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. The effects of this extreme weather will be seen “across human and natural systems, including both wealthy and poor communities,” they added.
    The research team, led by Stanford University climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, considered eight types of extreme weather events. These included the hottest maximum daily temperature of the year, the warmest minimum daily temperature of the year, the number of days in a year when the temperature remained below freezing, the wettest day of the year and the longest consecutive dry spell. Historical data for these events and more were available from the Climdex project. Diffenbaugh and his co-authors — Deepti Singh of Columbia University’s Lamong-Doherty Earth Observatory and Justin Mankin of Dartmouth College — combined that data with various climate models to make predictions about frequency of extreme weather events under different global warming scenarios.

    Here’s the paper: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/2/eaao3354

    • Gary,
      Thanks for flagging this! It is yet another scary future brought to you by RCP8.5!

      “The three levels of anthropogenic forcing are the 1986–2005 period of the Historical simulations (~1500 GT CO2 emitted and ~1°C of global warming above the pre-industrial), the 2016–2035 period of the RCP8.5 simulations (~2500 GT CO2 and ~1° to 2°C), and the 2036–2055 period of the RCP8.5 simulations (~3500 GT CO2 and ~2° to 3°C). …
      “We analyzed the climate models for which there are matching realizations in the Historical, HistoricalNat, and RCP8.5 simulations.”

      It’s another from the seemingly endless series of nightmares brought to us by climate scientists obsession with RCP8.5. See the origin of this misrepresentation of a useful worst-case scenario here.

      • You bet Larry. The LAT’s, in their shrill – unchallenged – coverage of this, has a youngster standing in the rain with the caption: “A Filipino girl is carried along a flooded road east of Manila during a record-breaking monsoon season in 2016. A new analysis says extreme weather events will become more common around the world as the global average temperature rises.”
        I poked around a good bit – the referenced study, NOAA’s 2016 annual climate report (shrill), news about the 2017 monsoon predictions, etc. I saw not a hint of any record breaking monsoon for 2016 in the Philippines. And, just an average typhoon season. And here: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/map-percentile-prcp/201601-201612.gif – just average precip, to below average, for the Philippines.

      • “It is yet another scary future brought to you by RCP8.5!”
        It isn’t. They are not assuming the evolution of RCP8.5. They are assuming fixed levels of forcing, to get the probabilities. One is historical – ie GHG remains fixed at 1986-2005 levels (obviously very optimistic). One is where it remains fixed at 2500Gt CO2, the RCP8.5 2016-2035 level. This they describe as the UN aspirational level. The other remains fixed at 3500 Gt CO2, the RCP8.5 2036-2055 RCP8.5 level. This they describe as the UN Commitment level.
        The reason for associating with an RCP8.5 period is to get the spatial distribution.

      • My comment: “It is yet another scary future brought to you by RCP8.5!”
        Nick’s rebuttal: “It isn’t. …They are assuming fixed levels of forcing … One is where it remains fixed at …the RCP8.5 2016-2035 level. …The other remains fixed at …the RCP8.5 2036-2055 RCP8.5 level.” {Bold emphasis added.}
        Self-rebuttal. Q.E.D.

      • Nick,
        You are beyond parody. Nothing you say is relevant to my statement that this study was “another scary future brought to you by RCP8.5!”. Which is typical of your rebuttals.
        My fav of your irrelevancies is “They are not assuming the evolution of RCP8.5.” I didn’t say that they did.
        We’ll let the audience decide which is right — the quote I gave showing that they used RCP8.5, or your rebuttal — a quote saying that they used RCP8.5.

    • “combined that data with various climate models to make predictions about frequency of extreme weather events under different global warming scenarios.”
      STOP RIGHT THERE READ NO FURTHER :JUNK SCIENCE

  7. “Continued growth in population and greenhouse grass emissions almost guarantee some hard times for the world in the mid-21st century.”
    Population growth may indeed lead to some hard times, and the best way to curtail that is by the expanded use of fossil fuel energy to modernize third world countries – IOW exactly the opposite of what the Eco-Fascists say we should do (because they prefer a world of scarcity where the political “elites” can rule over the rest by “allocation” of the crumbs under the table).
    As for the “greenhouse grass (sic) emissions” comment, sorry but that’s pure crap. Greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., CO2) DO NOT and WILL NEVER drive the Earth’s climate, and for justification of that, you can just refer to the complete lack of CO2 vs. temperature correlation over hundreds of millions of years (geocarb reconstructions) and the REVERSE correlation (temperature driving CO2 levels) on shorter time scales (ice core reconstructions). Observation TRUMPS theory, as I like to say.

    • AGW not Science, too right. Reaching where we were in 1965 in NZ and other similar societies, brings birth rates down to replacement with normal small excursions above and below.

  8. Pielke jr., “Make no mistake, this science is robust and performed with integrity.
    Roger jr’s problem is that he believes climate models. So does Roger sr. They shouldn’t.
    And “performed with integrity,” or not, climate modeling is performed with incompetence.
    The science is pseudo.

    • Integrity as in ‘he hid the decline with great integrity’. Lukewarmers are more dangerous than warmists. They give the rascals credibility by looking like a critical audience.

      • Interesting. So unless you deny physics, and proclaim that CO2 can’t possibly have any impact, you are part of the enemy.

      • So having a position that isn’t at either extreme means you want to get those at the extremes to work together?
        You are assuming facts not in evidence.

      • Both extremes are wrong. So is the middle position.
        The only position warranted by the state of the scientific art is that no position is possible.
        Those who take any specific position along the CO2 warming line don’t know what they’re talking about.

  9. Roger asked, thenanswered his own question on RCP 8.5 use.
    Q: “However, the continued misuse of RCP 8.5 to generate scientifically unsupportable estimates of climate impacts places climate advocates in a position of promoting dodgy science to support political advocacy originally grounded in solid science. Seriously, Why do this?
    A: “for four years RCP8.5 — the worst-case scenario from the IPCC’s AR5 — has been used to terrify people into support climate activists’ policies. “
    What else needs to be said about the climate hustle? Or the activist-pseudoscientists who push it?

    • And his use of the word “terrify” is certainly going to raise the anger of the climate pseudoscientists.
      They really are terrorists.
      Not the kind that drives an electric-powered car bomb into a crowd of people, or puts on a suicide vest and walks into a steak-house restaurant yelling “Thanks be to Gaia. Now die you climate killing meat eaters!”
      No, these are climate terrorists in academic ivory towers who use a computer and a pen to terrify populations.
      Their intent is to extort billions of dollars from tax-payers (for them and their sponsors) and are keenly intent on spreading their climate religion through media-enforced, indoctrinating propaganda campaigns.
      Investigative Journalist Sharyl Attkisson recently gave a TedX talk where she talked about her research into the origins of the Fake News branding campaign was originally started by the Left. In that talk she identified two important warning signs that are happening now in the Left leaning media regarding the climate hustle.

      “She described two warning signs to look out for.
      1. When the media tries to shape or censor facts and opinions rather than report them.
      2. When so many in the media are reporting the same stories, promulgating the same narratives, relying on the same sources — even using the same phrases.
      source: https://pjmedia.com/video/sharyl-attkisson-explains-tedx-talk-origins-2016-fake-news-narrative/

      Those are two important warnings signs we are seeing everyday now in the Climate propaganda campaign being waged on the West by academic climate terrorists and their weaponized media outlets.

    • Joelobryan,
      That is a great “answer” to Roger’s question. But it is mine, not Roger’s.
      it’s not, of course, an original insight of mine. Although ignored by most journalists, many have pointed out the absurdity of regarding RCP8.5 as a “business as usual” scenario. It’s a useful worst case scenario — showing what might happen if we’re unlucky — but has been grossly misrepresented.

      • Larry Kummer, Editor
        February 15, 2018 at 10:57 am
        ————————-
        As far as I can tell, there is no way to show, in any of the scenarios considered, in accordance with the whole AGW “science”, that there could be a stop or reversal of their AGW….the most ever that could be “dreamed” about is simply in the context of a “small” slowdown of AGW… something in the lines of – 2100 condition postponed to 2130 or 2140 or at most 2150.
        For that to be somehow shown as a hypothetically significant point to consider, beyond the noise, it will require not only the application of the most hipper CO2 sequestering geoengineering + albedo in same hipper geo + aerosols geo in the same hipper (to a point of impossibility, for not saying insanity), but still on top of it all is required to also consider the total human and civic “cleansing” off this planet Earth….And that must be met and achieved in the span of the next decade…for it to mean some hypothetical stand of some kind of “achievement” as per the AGW “science”.
        The experiment, the GCMs can not do or simulate a stop, let alone a reversal of the AGW, as per the AGWers “science”… once the simulation kicks in to the warming (trend) gear…..
        Even CO2 trend can not stop or be reversed in the GCM simulations at that point of warming.
        But considering the above conditions as a solution for the most possible achievable, there may likely and with some luck be, a little slowdown maybe hypothetically shown, as per the best of their AGW “climatology”.
        Which in the end of the day still with not much of any meaning…unless when hypothetically considered as a possible proof of the non existent anthropogenic forcing in climate, or the proof of the fictional and falsity of AGW…
        In these terms I do not think there could actually be or exist any hope in the renegotiation clause…
        It will be far much worse than the first terms of the famous accord, the famous world “saving” one …
        Also, if I happen to be not that wrong with this, ppl once more have to consider, that after all GCMs are not that bad, as per the point of a scientific experiment…
        hopefully I have not messed a lot around with this one 🙂
        cheers

  10. It will take ten to twenty years to take fusion from success in the lab (when or if) to widespread commercialization.

    Fusion energy has been 30 years away for the past 50 years. It must be one of those physical constants. It remains a distinct possibility that it is undoable, at least in practical terms. We might not be able to make a box in which to put the Sun.

    • I totally agree.
      Within 10-20 years Fast breder reactors will have swept windmills and solar panels away.
      See the documentary ‘pandoras promise’.
      It has its own website on the net.
      WUWT should focus a lot more on this PROVEN technology, IMHO.

      • “Within 10-20 years Fast breder reactors will have swept windmills and solar panels away.”
        Jeeeze. Spoken by a nuclear physicist in 1960.

      • “Within 10-20 years Fast breder reactors will have swept windmills and solar panels away.”
        Not if the warmunists have anything to say about it. They don’t want to reduce emissions of CO2, they want to impoverish the mass of humanity.

    • Personally, I would never say never. More to Roger’s point, he did qualify the statement with “(when or if)”. He is at least a clear-eyed optimist.

      • DJ,
        Note that are my words, not Pielke’s (see the red dashed line divider).
        Supporting your point, I preceded that sentence with ” Of course, we cannot count on fusion — or any new tech — to save us.”
        “Clear-eyed optimist” — that’s a great description of my beliefs.

  11. Any assumption used in setting the foundation of a research paper invalidates its conclusions.
    Predictions of the future, no matter how they are arrived at, are speculative assumptions.
    If you leave the speculation-on-speculation based papers out, there is nothing to warrant the emergency halt of industry and redistribution of western money by the global com-cabal.

    • It invalidates the conclusions if you wish to take action on them. Or more precisely extrapolate beyond the scope of them. In of themselves, your conclusions are simply predicated on your initial assumptions.

  12. The fascination with fusion fascinates me. TAE indicates they are about 0.3% of the way to obtaining the required temperatures. It has taken them 20 years so far. Larry’s provided link has them admitting several years more research will be needed after they achieve the temperature goal (without speculating how long that step still might take). Sure, p-11B is a laudable goal, but I doubt we see it demonstrated (much less commercialized) in the lifetime of the present backers. Larry will protest that venture investors have a respectable track record, but billions of Kelvins is not something dollar-billionaires grasp.
    Yes, fusion is inevitable, but perhaps generations away. In the meantime, fission: U, Pu, and Th. The longer we wait to implement, the more humanity will suffer for the delay.

      • Mostly from all the waste on solar and wind, but we are not suffering here because oil and gas (and coal) are extraordinarily inexpensive. Developing countries are suffering because they don’t have power. They would benefit from better developed fission. Still, sooner or later the waste of natural gas on electrical generation will catch up with us, and it and oil and coal will grow relatively more expensive. That is when we will all suffer if we are still pretending fusion will save us, or that bird-bat killers have some practical benefit.

      • To the extent that as fossil fuels become scarce they become more expensive which in turn has four impacts.
        1) We look harder for new sources.
        2) We extract sources that weren’t economical at lower prices.
        3) We take efforts to use less
        4) We switch to other things that are now less expensive.
        The world never ran out of whale oil either.

      • Mark,
        “To the extent that as fossil fuels become scarce they become more expensive”
        Exactly! Geologists have known this for a long time. Sir Ronald Prain’s 1975 classic Copper clearly explains this. It’s a total refutation of the peak oil hysteria, written 30 years before.
        Here is the excerpt from the book — Good news: here’s why we won’t run out of minerals (including oil). He discusses the dance of ores (inverse relationship of quality and quantity) and technology — with prices as the music.

    • Lonnie,
      “Yes, fusion is inevitable, but perhaps generations away.”
      That’s exactly what I said. Why do you consider it a rebuttal? Let’s replay the tape.

      “It will take ten to twenty years to take fusion from success in the lab (when or if) to widespread commercialization. Adoption rates for new technologies in consumer goods are 2x or 3x those typical in the early 20th century. And if it is necessary to save the world, power generation systems can be converted in a decade or two.”

      Let’s say, as an illustration, that ten years from now TAE has a working fusion system (that’s the timeline I’ve heard that they are using). Then 10-20 more years until beginning of widespread commercialization. Then 10 to 20 years for conversion of much of the world’s power gen system. That is a total of 30 to 50 years. The lower limit requires a lot of luck plus a crash program of development and implementation.
      You are more optimistic than I. You said “fusion if inevitable.” I believe that is a exaggeration, unless by “inevitable” you mean in the next century. The last time I checked (several years ago), Robert Hirsch — one of the godfathers of America’s fusion program — was skeptical that current programs were even on the right track.

  13. What a silly presentation. Just the use of “Carbon Emissions” tells you all you need to know. Very sloppy when the focus is on CO2 control. Showing pictures of smokestacks and smog are just scare tactics when you are talking about CO2. Last I checked CO2 was odorless and colorless. What a complete waste of time.

  14. Remember, even after the emperor was confronted with the truth, he acted as if nothing had happened.
    But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.

  15. Minor editing required- “Even steadfast climate alarmist media like Salon and Bloomberg (reluctantly) admit that their fear campaign no appears unjustified. That does not the future will be pleasant. Continued growth in population and greenhouse grass emissions almost guarantee some hard times for the world in the mid-21st century. But not certain doom.
    What might save us?”

  16. “Continued growth in population and greenhouse grass emissions almost guarantee some hard times for the world in the mid-21st century. But not certain doom.”
    Assumption of facts not in evidence, i.e., opinion.

    • icisil,
      That’s true. I used to preface almost every sentence with modifiers – I thing, imo, probably, perhaps, etc.
      My editor told me to stop that. It makes the text boring as dirt. Readers can distinguish statements of fact (the car is blue) from statements of opinion (the future will be good). They don’t need to be told the obvious.

  17. Roger said:
    ** Make no mistake, this science is robust and performed with integrity. However, the continued misuse of RCP 8.5 to generate scientifically unsupportable estimates of climate impacts places climate advocates in a position of promoting dodgy science to support political advocacy originally grounded in solid science. Seriously, Why do this? Scientifically empty studies based on RCP 8.5 legitimately give climate science a bad name. …The emperor’s clothes, though, they are lovely.**
    Roger said RCP8.5 is misused, then he says climate science is robust. What part is robust when many pseudo-scientists use RCP 8.5 to predict gloom and doom? U of Winnipeg professor Danny Blair uses it to predict Texas temperatures for Manitoba by 2080. He runs the Prairie Climate Centre which produces the Prairie Climate Atlas – essentially loaded with exaggerations of what the temperatures will be by the end of the century. And the Manitoba government pays for part of it. As I see it, he does not do the background research, but uses the bad assumptions of the IPCC. Then he uses his position of authority at the U of Winnipeg to spread these bad predictions which most of us will not be around to see fail. Another problem is that Blair and others are using and almost linear relationship between increasing CO2 and temperatures for the pessimistic outlook.

    • Gord,
      “What part is robust when many pseudo-scientists use RCP 8.5 to predict gloom and doom?”
      Science is a institution. It’s just people, and so it works in our usual sloppy fashion. Stephen Jay Gould’s books describe the twists and turns, with lots of dead-ends — heavy on the politics — of science.
      It does not work in the sense of reliably producing correct and useful information, but rather that the misinformation and nonsense is eventually identified and washed out. That often takes one or more generations.
      We have to have realistic expectations for our institutions. In Robert Heinlein’s Have spacesuit, will travel, a professor of a species far advanced beyond ours said “Democracy is a good system, for beginners.” I suspect that it would have said much the same about science.

  18. “Misusing the future”
    Ain’t we just the master of the understatement – they are destroying ‘most everything right here and now.
    The Future is getting really quite scary. Where did it finish up, mentioning no names with the initials AH?
    Go find Matt Ridley’s Rational Optimist blog entry for Feb 13…The Censorious Age

    Perhaps, being a meat-eating, heterosexual, titled, atheist, climate-sceptic male who thinks communism was evil, gender is partly biological, genetically modified crops are good for the environment, free markets make people nicer and that Britain should leave the European Union, it is just me who finds himself perpetually on the politically incorrect side of arguments, or at least the opposite side from the BBC. But it does feel as though almost everybody, whatever their views, is one step away from public denunciation.

    • Peta,
      “Ain’t we just the master of the understatement ”
      It’s called “vicious understatement”, a polite form of ridicule used for centuries. See Jane Austen’s novels for pro-level use of it.

  19. We need to start building Generation 3 reactors now. Perhaps , in a few years, after Finland has demonstrated the efficacy of Generation 3+ reactors, we can move on to those. We need to get started now and simultaneously continue work on nuclear waste disposal. Those bad jokes called wind and solar energy, will not be practical until sometime after a fleet of nuclear plants could be up and running. We can then concentrate on Generation 4, fusion or whatever better designs might come along. We need more education to dispel fears of nuclear power and to send, especially wind power back to the nineteenth century where it belongs.

    • Actually, some common sense regulation is really all that’s necessary to dispel some fears of nuclear power. One such would be requiring NPPs to dry store spent fuel rods in caskets rather than storing them in spent fuel pools forever (like it’s done now). Both the NRC and Congress have the power to make that happen.

    • There is a generational (human, pardon the pun) element at play here.
      The 3 major nuclear accidents:

      Three Mile Island 1979
      Chernobyl 1986
      Fukushima Daiichi 2011

      The memories of these incidents will affect policy decisions for at least 1 or 2 generations, or 30 to 60 years. Of course modern media also influences historical revisionism which infects education as well.
      Add a few more years. I believe that things will have to get much worse before the obvious nuclear solution is allowed.

      • That’s an education issue, since none of these accidents were anywhere near as bad as the press made them out to be.
        Nobody was even injured at TMI, only a few were injured at Fukushima and the only ones who died at Chernobyl were those who volunteered to enter the contaminated zone in order to bury the core in concrete.

      • It has emerged that at Chernobyl there was a nuclear explosion at the top of the reactor – the cause of a bright blue flash witnessed by many. Obviously that was a major disaster.
        TMI was nothing save a few scare points. The UK accident in the 50’s was much worse. There was an accident at Chalk River that was pretty scary, like the UK and Fukushima. Fukushima was a silly, outdated US breeder design that was, on top of all, badly constructed and serviced.
        The next gen CANDU reactor design is complete now and will soon hit the bedrock in several countries, Canada and China at least. It will run on that wasted 95% from the silly reactors. They will pay us to take it away! Where there’s muck, there’s brass.
        Even in uptown Waterloo, we are penny-pinchers of note, you know. Copper wire was invented when someone dropped a penny between two Canadians. That’s why we had the first telephones just down the road in Brantford. We already had the wire and didn’t want to waste it.

      • The density of the fuel was too low to support a “nuclear” explosion.
        Sounds more like a hydrogen explosion.

    • We don’t need to work on nuclear waste disposal, we need to work on nuclear waste reprocessing. Like the rest of the world does.

  20. Even steadfast climate alarmist media like Salon and Bloomberg (reluctantly) admit that their fear campaign no appears unjustified

    should, most likely be “no longer appears jstified”

  21. Been thinking about the “Adoption of Technology” graphic.
    How about an “Adoption of Energy” graphic?
    Wood to and charcoal were the primary energy sources Tree tars/resins were used in torches.
    Then coal and whale oils both Sperm whale oil and reduced from blubber)
    Then oil.
    Then electricity from coal and oil and hydro.
    Then adding nuclear to the electricity mix in the late 1950’s.
    Then natural gas for electricity
    Nuclear may be on its way out, but Wind and solar are rising.
    What that graphic would show is essentially that Oil saved the whales from hunting extinction.
    And thus the Exxon-Mobiles of the late 19th Century saved the whales if you think about it.
    The Sperm whale and other high oil content whales were being hunted to extinction in the 19th Century by whalers. The Sperm whale oil was highly valued for its clean burning in lamps. Then oil came along and brought kerosene, thus the kerosene lantern. The economics of industrial-scale whaling collapsed.

    • Joel,
      That’s a great idea! I’d love to see that graph. This would also support my guess that adoption times for new tech are shrinking. Think of the time period for each of those conversions.
      Best of all is your meme: the oil industry saved the whales! Someone post this at 4Chan. If those guys run with it, it will be all over the internet in a week.

  22. It is funny enough when you consider some failed self-described climate scientists telling you what their models hold for the future.
    Then multiply that by what some failed self-imagined economists have in store for the future. (Sometimes they’re the same people.)
    Wrong x Wrong = Astoundingly Wrong

    • Perhaps I should have said “self-imagined”, not “self-described”.
      They imagine themselves competent to predict the future, then imagine themselves competent to diagnose the future economic problems plus, of course, the economic solutions. Rarely has any field, apparently, been so blessed with polymaths as climate science currently is, if they are to be believed. Of course the proof of that pudding is all in the future…

  23. Mr. Pielke writes;
    “We identified the importance of assumptions of spontaneous decarbonization in IPCC scenarios more than a decade ago …
    Looking back at our research, and updating it in my Tokyo talk, I observe that heroic assumptions of spontaneous decarbonization not only survived our critique, but have since thrived. “They showed up in the following set of IPCC scenarios (the RCPs) and now in the most recent set of scenarios {Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, aka SSPs}.”
    Logically speaking, I’d say there is likely a well developed plan to cause chaos/war in much of the world, and thus “depopulation” . . to save “us” . .

  24. I’m just wondering what the issue is here! We have NO EVIDENCE to prove that CO2 is a problem – quite the reverse, in fact! Most evidence suggests the world is warming naturally after a natural cold spell (LIA) as it has done many times after similar events in its 4 billion year history. Evidence also suggests planetary life was under threat when CO2 dropped to ~200ppm and the addition of extra CO2 to the atmosphere in recent years, coupled with some slight warming has greener the planet. What’s not to like about that? We have hydrocarbon resources to last several hundred years based on current estimates (without even considering gas hydrates which are widely distributed but difficult to exploit today) so we have time to develop alternative energy sources in a sensible way rather than this headlong dash being forced on us by Politicians and green ideologues today! Get a grip, folks!

  25. The problem Roger has is he doesn’t acknowledge the hypothetical nature of the source data sets. Like temperature anomalies for instance. Great work can be done trying to see what temperature variation is like in the past with uncertainty levels of 0.1 K or less ONLY if you make the assumption that the data was measured in a way that followed the conditions for the Central Limit Theorem. Which you cannot demonstrates because the equipment was not designed or maintained to achieve that.
    But who wants to let hard metrological facts get in the way of a good story?
    Just because this was done doesn’t then magically make the resultant derived data meaningful outside of the hypothetical context.
    The problem with academics is that they seem to think the hypothetical world directly leads to real action. And sadly the concept of Summary for Policymakers gives them a shortcut to the real world without apparent accountability or ethics.
    Good luck applying that standard to your food safety.

  26. “Continued growth in population and greenhouse grass emissions almost guarantee some hard times for the world in the mid-21st century.”
    What nonsense. Mankind’s greenhouse grass emissions – and indeed greenhouse gas emissions – clearly have a very small effect on the global temperature, and any moderate further warming will be beneficial. And CO2 emissions and global warming are greening the planet, for Heaven’s sake. As the world gets richer the population growth rate will fall.
    With the advance of technology I’m quite optimistic about mankind’s future in this century and the next.
    The biggest problem isn’t global warming. It’s not even a problem, it’s a benefit. The biggest problem is global warming alarmism.
    Chris

  27. It seems to me that the IPCC is indulging in little more than a “What if; then” excercise. A dangerous practice as the assumptions control the output.
    Applying this practice to Newton’s : “Force equals Mass times Acceleration” enables you to blow up the the universe if you so require, by assuming that Force and/or Mass are constant. Thus when the velocity reaches the speed of light the universe blows up.
    Similarly by playing with the multitude of assumptions involved in the climate system ( which is a chaotic system) you can choose whatever level of catastrophe you desire.
    All in all little more than a political excercise to keep subservient scientists busy.
    Generally I feel that scientists should extract their brains from their computers and go back to basic principles; such as: can you predict the future of a chaotic system by use of linear equations?

  28. To those who kindly replied to me. This is my attitude to climate change. I’m not as nice or polite as Dyson mind you.
    “Dyson calls computer modelling of climate ‘a very dubious business if you don’t have good inputs’ ”

  29. Moderators – you are taking too long – to moderate:
    I can’t stand Larry Kummer’s writing either. His missives* actually make my stomach churn. I’m obviously not arguing against the person* – someone I’ve never met – but I am totally against “his” position! I distrust this writer more than anyone I have ever read.
    The patronising persona he portrays in comments to his own posts is particular ridiculous.***
    It is a constant mystery to me, why this “figure” – for want of a better word – is given a platform on WUWT.
    And that makes me question every assumption I have about the truth of the reality of this forum. ;-(
    * With the emphasis on miss, i.e. the verb, fail to hit or reach…etc!
    **ad hominem.
    ***Ridiculous to me, of course!

    • Scott,
      Can you explain what you think Kummer’s “position” is?
      I’ve tried to figure it out, but cannot come up with a clear summary.
      I asked him, here, to explain what it is he is for or against. He did not.
      My assessment is that he has an ulterior motive, but it’s not clear what it is. But it is clear that his motive is not positive or productive.
      If you know his professional background, a stockbroker who moved way up the chain in business, that is likely a clue.
      Can you summarize his position?
      Thanks. (Edited out derogatory term, we don’t need or want law suits Mod)
      (your comments in this thread is about HIM, not the topic which is why you are getting moderation attention..) MOD

      • I think you may be trying to lead me, however the authors title is at the top of this post:

        By Larry Kummer. From the Fabius Maximus website

        You would be living in a very small world indeed if you hadn’t heard of Fabian Socialism. That group named themselves after the Roman statesman and general.
        Larry’s site is dedicated* to Quintus Fabious Maximus Verrucosus, (surnamed Cunctator).
        Googling this name will probably tell you more than poor old Larry knows!
        Larry is a thinly disguised authoritarian, a SJW with a degree in Psychology.
        *In my opinion only, naming your site Fabious Maximus, is a clear indication of your intent and ideology.
        (Stop talking about HIM, get on topic) MOD

      • Scott,
        “You would be living in a very small world indeed if you hadn’t heard of Fabian Socialism. ”
        Nope, that has nothing to do with us. Many in the past two millennia have drawn inspiration from Fabius Maximus — in many different and contradictory ways (as Americans have done from the Founders).
        But there is no need to guess at the point of the Fabius Maximus website. The “About” page describes how founders, mostly retired US military, were inspired by FM’s leadership of Rome.

        Fabius Maximus (280 – 203 BC) saved Rome from Hannibal by recognizing Rome’s weakness and therefore the need to conserve its strength. He turned from the easy path of macho “boldness” to the long, difficult task of rebuilding Rome’s power and greatness. His life holds profound lessons for 21st Century Americans.

        https://fabiusmaximus.com/about/
        Wikipedia says what the Fabian Socialists learned from FM, from the title page of their first pamphlet.

        “For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently, when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabian_Society#Establishment

  30. “It will take ten to twenty years to take fusion from success in the lab (when or if) to widespread commercialization.” It always cracks me up when I see the reference to “20 years until commercial success” for fusion. In 1997 I attended a public briefing by researchers working on fusion-based generation at the University of Wisconsin. They struck a nice balance between enthusiasm and reality. One of them unforgettably described fusion as “the clean energy source that’s permanently 20 years in the future.”
    That was 21 years ago, and miraculously, today it’s only 20 years away.

    • You need to re-read what you just quoted. It doesn’t say what you allege it says.
      It says that once we successfully demonstrate a viable fusion process in the lab, it will take 20 years to commercialize it.
      From the aside, it is clear that the author does not believe we have achieved lab success yet, and is not confident that we ever will.

  31. LPPFusion of Middlesex NJ has built an experimental aneutronic fusion reactor (FF-1).This IS NOT the standard tokomak design, but is an approach to fusion using other configurations and physics (“Dense Plasma Focus”). The company is now in the final phase of reaching fusion, including use of the pB11 (hydrogen-boron fuel)
    The FF-1 device has hit 3 Billion degrees C (which is necessary to preclude radioactive waste or contamination as a by product)… and held that temperature long enough for a reaction. The last step is to eliminate random molecules during the heating phase of the reaction from contaminating the plasma and thwarting the fusion process.
    The LPPFusion team is currently installing the designs and materials for reaching fusion and should have definitive results by Fall- 2018. The FF-1 is currently #5 on the Fusion leader board and expects to hit net fusion output with the final, planned upgrade. The company is privately funded (crowd sourced) and the total budget since inception is $5 M. Recently research agreements were signed with UC San Diego (which is building a replica of FF-1) … and two national labs in Poland which specialize in Dense Plasma Focus.
    Details
    Fusion Leader Board:
    http://lppfusion.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ntauT-chart.png
    How it works

    video/211492763
    Reaching ignition

    video/212111841
    Complete Album of Videos
    Device video:

    video/211492763
    LPPFusion.com
    Details:

      • Larry, you are correct. Early on, starting in the Fifties almost all the big government support for fusion was put into tokomaks. Over the decades, not much progress was really made, so governments foolishly doubled down on failure at great expense, hundreds of billions.
        However, in the past 20 years or so, various private initiatives began integrating reactor designs based on different physical principles than the magnetic confinement approach. Among these startups LPPFusion has been the most transparent and outperformed the competition. The design at LPPFusion was originated in the early 60s and perfected by Eric Lerner, the chief scientist at LPFusion.
        The company is tiny and a shoestring operation, but it relies on some profound understanding of plasma dynamics and evolution, many drawn from astrophysics. And so LPPFusion has leap-frogged the field by implementing the insights from plasma physics.
        The company is crowd funded to ensure independence and now is in the final phase of reaching fusion that’s aneutronic (no radioactive waste) and directly generates electricity without turbines so it is ultra-cheap. The company has a handle on solving the density problem as described in the videos and with the pB11 fuel is poised to hit net energy. We’ll see if they can do it. We’ll have a pretty good idea in a few months, not decades and billions later.

    • Fusion power was 20 years to commercialization in 1960. It’s still 20 years to commercialization in 2018. When 1 watt of net power is produced from any of these fusion reactors, we may be 20 years to commercialization. None so far produced more energy output than electrical energy input.

      • It’s acknowledged that tokomaks are a failed technology… different fusion reactor types have shown rapid progress… so your pronouncements are without much factual merit… and only pertain to tokomak designs… maybe you should learn about the emerging designs and their progress before commenting

  32. RGHE theory exists only to explain why the earth is 33 C warmer with an atmosphere than without. Not so. The average global temperature of 288 K is a massive WAG at the ”surface.” The w/o temperature of 255 K is a theoretical S-B ideal BB OLR calculation at the top of – the atmosphere. An obviously flawed RGHE faux-thermodynamic “theory” pretends to explain a mechanism behind this non-existent phenomenon, the difference between two made up atmospheric numbers.
    The Earth’s albedo/atmosphere doesn’t keep the Earth warm, it keeps the Earth cool. As albedo increases, heating and temperature decrease. As albedo decreases, heating and temperature increase.
    Over 8,600 views of my five WriterBeat papers and zero rebuttals. There was one lecture on water vapor, but that kind of misses the CO2 point.
    Step right up, bring science, I did.
    Nick Schroeder, BSME, PE
    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/19972-Space-Hot-or-Cold-and-RGHE
    http://writerbeat.com/articles/16255-Atmospheric-Layers-and-Thermodynamic-Ping-Pong
    http://writerbeat.com/articles/15855-Venus-amp-RGHE-amp-UA-Delta-T

  33. Roger Pielke Jr.
    Don’t waste your time on climate model scenarios. Hear Prof. Chris Essex, physicist, mathematician, climate modeler since 1970s, why it’s fake physics or more colorfully “believing six impossible things before breakfast”

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