The Great Climate Debate Report

By Andy May


After I posted my series on the great climate debate between Dr. William Happer and Dr. David Karoly, hosted by, I received several requests to pull the series together into one pdf. This is now done, and the pdf can be downloaded here.

Since the series was posted, we have found out that Dr. William Happer has joined the White House as a top advisor. Dr. Happer is 79 years old and has confirmed that he began serving on the National Security Council, under National Security Advisor John Bolton on Tuesday, September 4. Congratulations Will! Read the details by Hannah Northey here.

A few minutes ago David Middleton also posted a discussion of Will’s appointment here.

Update:  I’ve created an epub format edition of the report.  It can be downloaded here. Due to restrictions on my website, I had to zip the file.  After downloading, unzip the file and then open the epub file with Internet Explorer, Nook, or some other ebook reader.

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Phillip Bratby
September 6, 2018 6:34 am

Well done to both David Middleton and Andy May (and of course to Dr William Happer). This is good news about a truly great scientist.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
September 6, 2018 6:41 am

Andy’s coverage of the debate was fantastic.

The biggest “well-done” definitely goes to Dr. Happer, for kicking @$$ in the debate and joining the Trump Administration.

Reply to  David Middleton
September 6, 2018 9:51 am

I really love and respect The Donald … from a safe distance. Good Luck Will.

September 6, 2018 6:51 am

Science magazine’s coverage was almost as bad as CNN’s.

But, I really liked this bit…

“The public, in general, doesn’t realize that from the point of view of geological history, we are in a CO2 famine,” he told E&E News during the interview in January.

In the following bar chart I grouped CO2 by geologic period. The Cambrian through Cretaceous are drawn from Berner and Kothavala, 2001 (GEOCARB), the Tertiary is from Pagani, et al. 2006 (deep sea sediment cores), the Pleistocene is from Lüthi, et al. 2008 (EPICA C Antarctic ice core), the “Anthropocene” is from NOAA-ESRL (Mauna Loa Observatory) and the CO2 starvation is from Ward et al., 2005.

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Reply to  David Middleton
September 6, 2018 7:03 am

Great chart, thanks! Some have speculated that the huge dust storms during glacier maxima recorded in ice cores are due to plants dying at higher elevations where CO2 drops below 150 ppm. Winds and extreme weather also increase dramatically during glacier maxima since the pole-to-equator temperature gradient increases so much then. This is because the tropical temperatures don’t change much and the polar ice cap margins extend thousands of miles south of where they are during the interglacials.

Reply to  David Middleton
September 6, 2018 7:42 am

One of our dear trolls has assured me that we can’t possibly be in a “CO2 famine”, after all plants have had thousands of years to adapt to these lower CO2 levels.

Reply to  MarkW
September 6, 2018 8:03 am

We certainly are closer to a CO2 famine than we are to a CO2 feast.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  David Middleton
September 6, 2018 10:08 am

“DUH”, the rise and fall of …… The Age of the Dinosaurs …… pretty much exactly “tracks” from the end of the CO2 famine of around 252 million years ago, …… to the height of the CO2 feasting of about 160 mya ……. and then back to the CO2 famine at about 66 million years ago.

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The Age of the Herbivore Dinosaurs that were “feasting” on the CO2 generated “green-growing” biomass…….. was leading the Age of the Carnivore Dinosaurs that were “feasting” on the horrendous increase in Herbivores.

And when “green-growing” feasting slowly terminated due to decreasing CO2, ….. the starving Herbivores started “dying off” ……. followed by the starving Carnivores.

Roger Graves
Reply to  David Middleton
September 6, 2018 10:30 am

A somewhat off-topic thought. We know that most plants grow better at increased CO2 levels, and it would not be unreasonable to assume that the optimum CO2 level for any given plant would be the prevailing CO2 level when that plant first evolved. We also know that it is possible, in some cases at least, to estimate when a plant first evolved by analysis of its genetic structure. If, therefore, a graph were to be plotted showing optimum CO2 levels for a series of plants as a function of their evolutionary age, would this not provide corroborative evidence of CO2 levels in past geologic ages?

Reply to  Roger Graves
September 6, 2018 12:04 pm

Not necessarily. If the plants have been evolving for hundreds of millions of years, they may have adapted to prefer lower levels than when they first arose. This does not change the fact that CO2 levels of 280 ppm are very low and most plants grow better at higher levels.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  Roger Graves
September 7, 2018 6:14 am

Roger Graves – September 6, 2018 10:30 am

We also know that it is possible, in some cases at least, to estimate when a plant first evolved by analysis of its genetic structure.

That includes both genetic and physical structures …. in both plants and animals ….. and is defined as “descent with modifications”.

and it would not be unreasonable to assume that the optimum CO2 level for any given plant would be the prevailing CO2 level when that plant first evolved.

I guess it would be correct to say that …. “the optimum CO2 level for any given “living” plant would be the CO2 level that the aforesaid plant is currently surviving at.

Keep in mind, that with many of the leafy plants, the stomata count in their leaves “decreases” when atmospheric CO2 “increases”, …….. and the stomata count in their leaves “increases” when atmospheric CO2 “decreases”.

Reply to  MarkW
September 6, 2018 9:27 am

I’m beginning to think we’re rapidly plunging into an IQ famine.

Bill Powers
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
September 6, 2018 10:18 am

and rapidly approaching sub-zero IQ.

Reply to  David Middleton
September 8, 2018 4:59 am

‘Geologic time’ is inconceivable to so many ‘climate change “scientists”‘. Their timelines struggle to get as far back as 1950, to say nothing of 1650. And if they can’t cope with 400 years, 400 million years is certainly way, way, way beyond them.

Norman Blanton
September 6, 2018 7:49 am

Just starting reading the debate,

It would be nice if the highlighter used on the two debater were in different colors, to help differentiate them.

September 6, 2018 8:05 am

I wish they could use some of the e-reader formats instead of pdf so it would be possible to read it on a cellphone or kindle.

Eric Stevens
Reply to  Andy May
September 6, 2018 4:44 pm

I like your use of the word ‘version’ but I didn’t like Ryddegutt’s ‘instead of’. PDF is the nearest thing we have to a universal document format.

Reply to  Ryddegutt
September 6, 2018 12:18 pm

Ryddegutt, I created an ebook (ePub format) and it is in the process of being published now. I’ll post a link when it is available, hopefully later today. The formatting done by Draft2Digital isn’t ideal, but the book is very readable on my tablet and phone and the illustrations show up OK. The figures look better in landscape on the phone and two-finger zoom works.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Ryddegutt
September 6, 2018 11:02 pm

A Kindle can read a PDF.

September 6, 2018 9:06 am

It is obvious to me that we need to begin to spray s02 into the atmosphere to mitigate temperature rise so that we can get back to the “normal” state of our planet which for some time now, in the geological sense, has been glaciated. Less plants, less animals, less food, less people and mother earth will be much happier. Haven’t some of the enlightened AGW fanatics actually been suggesting such schemes?

Bill Powers
Reply to  JimG1
September 6, 2018 10:16 am

That is exactly right the non-sentient planet is more important than sentient beings who reside there. If they could just get rid of all of us pests then the Planet would be a wonderful place to live. Unfortunately we would have to hang signs in orbit informing sentient beings “This planet is not habitable by order of the climate alarmists who sacrificed their life {along with everyone else) so that it could spin and orbit in peaceful ignorant bliss around that sun over there for the next, roughly, 4.5 billion years at which time it will cease to be available for occupancy. ” So long and thanks for all the fish.”

Reply to  JimG1
September 6, 2018 10:28 am

There is cheaper and more natural way to kill everyone by lowering global average temperature.
We look at China’s attempt to put a lot SO2 into the atmosphere, and realize it is not enough and China not putting the SO2 high enough into the atmosphere. And doing that would be expensive.

I would instead propose pumping warmer ocean surface water into deeper and colder ocean water and mixing these water so that surface water lowers in temperature- as a way to lower ocean surface temperature.
One could do this in the tropics, but there is larger slab of warmer waters in tropics and would therefore need to pump the water deeper under water- which requires more energy [and would be more expensive].

If simply interested in wiping out Europe, you focus on smaller region and do it outside of the tropics in the Gulf Stream. But for a global effect, you could it outside the tropics have to do it globally and in larger regions.

Reply to  gbaikie
September 6, 2018 11:30 am

This idea also points to way of allowing Europeans to have slightly cooler average temperature- and at modest cost.
Indicates Europe average temperature is about 9 C.
[And few paper in the past indicates that gulf stream warms Europe by about 10 K]

And graph above indicate Europe average temperature before industrialization [which before graph begins] could been about 7.5 C or cooler.

If Europeans want average temperature of about 7 C, that should cause a fair amount suffering and economic distress, though may only be millions dying rather than hundreds of millions dying. And could be cheaper to do.

I would guess that for the price of around 100 billion dollars they could get 2 C lowering of their average temperature- and have little effect upon the rest of the world.
So 100 billion and then few billion per year which they wish to maintain the 2 C cooler than they are now. And if want about 3 C of cooling, they might be getting within a relatively short period of time, a major tourist attraction of advancing glaciers.

If European insist the energy needed is provided has to be only from wind and solar power, then it could 2 or 3 times the price.

[Considering Germany spent about 800 billion dollar on wind and solar- and it had no effect upon cooling- this might be appealing].

Bill Powers
September 6, 2018 9:32 am

Help me out. Somebody define “virtually certain” for me. I do know that it does not mean “Certain” but it definitely has a ring of authority and importance about it. Is “virtual”the certainty derived from Computer Models? Like “Virtual Reality”? If so, then we have already observed that results from Climate Models are “highly unlikely.” and the degree of danger is “practically nil” I just love the creative use of qualifiers deployed by the Climate Alarmists.

Reply to  Bill Powers
September 7, 2018 11:15 am


September 6, 2018 9:35 am

Why did Karoly withdraw?
Possibly for health reasons?

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  NeedleFactory
September 6, 2018 9:46 am

Yes, the prospect of losing made him sick to his stomach.

Nick Schroeder, BSME, PE
September 6, 2018 10:18 am
September 6, 2018 11:46 am

Karoly summarizes as follows:
”Science has established that it is virtually certain that increases of atmospheric CO2 due to
burning of fossil fuels will cause climate change that will have substantial adverse impacts on
humanity and on natural systems. Therefore, immediate stringent measures to suppress the
burning of fossil fuels are both justified and necessary.”

No one offering immediate stringent measures, but we can cool the entire Earth, by using a Space sunshade:

Probably cost a trillion dollar or 2 [allowing for governmental incompetence].
It could done within a couple decades and would have an immediate cooling effect.

Bill Powers
Reply to  gbaikie
September 6, 2018 12:10 pm

Give me the warm over the cool everyday. Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should and at a cost of a Trillion it is a horrible waste of private sector tax dollars which comes complete with potential catastrophic unintended consequences.

Komrade Kuma
Reply to  Bill Powers
September 6, 2018 3:15 pm

Aye to that! We have just had a long cold winter in Tasmania with I think the wettest July on record and we are well and truly over it.

BTW, in the vein of if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, did it happen, if David Karoly takes part in a ‘debate’ about climate change and walks out at some stage was there ever a debate? Perhaps he suddenly remembered another fatal error in the Gergis paper and did a runner to start working on a fix.

September 6, 2018 1:38 pm

Am I the only skeptic that is skeptic about Happer?

Reply to  Hans Erren
September 6, 2018 2:44 pm

We will see what happens, but which list of people would you have preferred rather than Happer?

Reply to  Andy May
September 7, 2018 6:48 pm

Thank God Trump re-hired him and not before time!

Bob Turner
September 7, 2018 6:26 am

A shame really, this would have been an excellent document if May had just acted as a moderator and editor. As it is, the document is peppered with May’s own slant and additions, which damages its usefulness.

Reply to  Bob Turner
September 7, 2018 5:02 pm

I’m afraid I have to disagree. It’s an excellent summary of the debate with lots of interesting graphics and abundant up to date fuel for debating with the AGW mob.

Life’s not perfect and it’s obviously hard to please everyone but many thanks for the time and effort Andy has put into this for us all to enjoy and use. A great use of space on WUWT.

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