Claim: We Should Act on Climate Change Because of Worst Case Scenarios

Witches flying on a broom. The History of Witches and Wizards, 1720. See page for author [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Former Cato institute vice president Jerry Taylor thinks that we should act on climate change because, even if the science is far from certain, the downside risk of ignoring climate change is too great to accept.

What Changed My Mind About Climate Change?
Risk management is not a binary choice.

MAY 21, 2019 5:56 AM

I spent the better part of my professional life (1991-2014) working at a libertarian think tank—the Cato Institute—arguing against climate action. As Cato’s director of Natural Resource Studies (and later, as a senior fellow and eventually vice president), I maintained that, while climate change was real, the impacts would likely prove rather modest and that the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions would greatly exceed the benefits.

changed my mind about that, however, because (among other things) I changed my mind about risk management.

If we think about climate risks in the same fashion we think about risks in other contexts, we should most certainly hedge—and hedge aggressively—by removing fossil fuels from the economy as quickly as possible.

When asked why I changed my mind about federal climate policy, this is a large part of my answer. Building an argument against climate action upon a forceful claim about the most likely outcome of greenhouse gas emissions is to build an argument upon analytic sand.

You don’t have to believe with all your heart that the worst-case scenario is sure to happen. You just have to understand that it is one possible outcome. And that we should not be making policy based on an assumption that we are certain of this or that outcome.

When it comes to managing large-scale risks, straight-forward economics suggests that we ought to take climate change very seriously.

Read more:

The problem with Jerry’s argument is you could build a similar case for taking action against witches.

Consider the following false logic; Our understanding of the universe is imperfect, so we can’t categorically rule out the possibility of witchcraft. You don’t have to believe with all your heart that the worst case scenario – that witches exist and contribute mightily to human suffering – is sure to be the case. But it would be insane to ignore the risk that some of our fellow humans have sold their souls.

Why would you reject this argument for taking action against witchcraft? For the same reason you should reject taking worst case climate scenarios seriously.

There is no observational evidence that there is a real problem, nor is there any shred of paleo-climate evidence that moderately elevated CO2 levels are associated with major negative consequences.

Money spent “acting” on climate change cannot be spent on hospitals or schools or clean drinking water or food or helping poor people.

Given the vast cost of any meaningful CO2 reduction, it would be insane to commit such resources on the basis of the wild predictions of deeply flawed models, without the support of observational evidence which confirms that we do indeed have a problem.

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May 22, 2019 10:11 am

Good analogy with witchcraft.
As far as persons selling their souls, perhaps Jerry Taylor noted how much money the green blob has, and decided to adopt the Precautionary Principle.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 22, 2019 12:43 pm

Tom: Agreed on the analogy with witchcraft.

I would like to also draw a parallel here with the participation of children in both today’s CO2 witch hunt and the Salem witch hunts in 1692:

“…The mayhem that was to become the Salem Witch Trials started when three young girls, Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, and Ann Putnam, Jr. began to act out in a strange, unexplainable way. These behaviors thought to be caused by the supernatural were just a way for teenagers to act out for attention and rebel against the suppression of their Puritan society.”

In the Salem witch hunts, the children were believed to be affected by witchcraft just as today’s children believe they are or will be affected seriously by climate change.

Secondly, I used to be libertarian. It has become obvious that Taylor has abandoned libertarian philosophy for the almighty dollar. Money speaks louder than Libertarianism.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
May 22, 2019 6:49 pm

A similar but more modern witchcraft analogy occurred just a few years ago in Elizabeth City, North Carolina with the Little Rascals day care center. “Recovered memories”, now a discredited phenomena, led to accusations against some of the staff for all kinds of perversions, sexual, UFO related, and otherwise, leading to imprisonment of many. Just another example of the consequences of the precautionary principle. Add to that the high cost of nuclear power plants, brought to you by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who’s only job is to apply the precautionary principle to all aspects of nuclear power plants without balancing cost against gain. Sense and judgement have no traction these days.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 22, 2019 12:52 pm

While I’m in agreement in spirit, I don’t like the witchcraft analogy. Apples and bowling balls ( as one of Tony Sopsrano’s gang put it so nicely some years ago now, although obviously in another context. There is some science behind the CAGW position, however flawed and purposely exaggerated. One thing is clear, while the cost of climate change could be mild to terrible to even possibly a net benefit, the cost of moving away from fossil fuels is certain to be catastrophic.

Reply to  pokerguy
May 22, 2019 1:02 pm

Sprenger and Kramer and King James of Scotland and England all thought they had good evidence for witchcraft. Considering all the confessions they had for Satanism, transvection, and crop failure, they were acting in all good faith, by their standards.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  pokerguy
May 22, 2019 2:31 pm

There is more than a little reason to think that rising levels of CO2 and warmer temps will be anywhere between somewhat and hugely beneficial, and little if any rational basis for thinking that either of these things will cause any problems at all.

Reply to  pokerguy
May 22, 2019 3:06 pm

The only evidence for witchcraft was correlation. Bad things happened, these old lady’s happened to be nearby.
The only evidence for AGW is also correlation. It got warmer, CO2 happened to be nearby.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  MarkW
May 22, 2019 6:55 pm

The evidence is not something we have to wait for. Significant amounts of CO2 were emitted from about 1950. Consider the past 69 years an experiment run in real time.

Where is the warming?

We have had the BS excuse of “sulphate sun blocking” in the first 30 years flung around as if it is true, yet the “blocking” was much worse in China in the nineties which is now claimed to have produced warming.

So let’s skip to the present: CO2 is well up and the temperature is not. Redoubling the rate is going to bring us nowhere near the global temperature in 5000 BC. Farming will really benefit, though. We Al need food.

From the article: “….by removing fossil fuels from the economy as quickly as possible.”

Yeah, well, I vote to do it as quickly as the next 150 years as viable alternatives become available. Why? Because what we have now as technologies are hopelessly inadequate and for the greatest part, don’t reduce CO2 meaningfully, if that was even a good thing.

After one or two more revolutions in physics, power generation will be a breeze.

We have bigger fish to fry: representative international governance is essential to prevent war permanently. The risks of war are far greater than modelled risks of “global heating”, judging by the observations of the past three score and nine.

Let’s deal with real risks.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
May 23, 2019 4:58 am

What makes you think that “representative international governance” would “prevent war” any better than representative national governance prevented war in the US in the 1860’s, in Yugoslavia in the 1990’s, or in Syria today? Civil war is often the bloodiest type of war. The trend since WWII is to separate even the tiniest scrap of territory for independence. They get to wear their big-boy pants at the UN.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
May 23, 2019 7:19 am

Big government is the enemy of freedom, not it’s friend, and there is no government bigger than a one world government.

Pat Frank
Reply to  pokerguy
May 22, 2019 5:23 pm

pokerguy, “There is some science behind the CAGW position…

No, there isn’t.

Climate models have no predictive value. None. Whatever.

The whole CAGW thing is an extraordinary example of incompetence as a communicable disease.

Climate models don’t predict the climate.
Paleo-temperature reconstructions do not reconstruct temperature.
The global air temperature record is so full of systematic error as to say nothing about air temperature.

The physics community stands silent and the National Academy promotes falsehoods.

Reply to  pokerguy
May 22, 2019 6:22 pm

“While I’m in agreement in spirit, I don’t like the witchcraft analogy”

Nah we need to spend all climate changey dough on asteroid defence and I’m just the man to head up the peak UN IPAD body having consulted the supreme pendulum in conjunction with the true crystals-

Reply to  observa
May 22, 2019 8:49 pm

A better analogy would point out the author is asking people to become religious. Without evidence, people worship gods. May as well – just in case wink* wink*.

Gnashing dentures in a firey human soup for quite a long while should be avoided.

Curious George
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 22, 2019 1:16 pm

Old Aztecs had to sacrifice a peron every day so that the Sun would rise again. Do we really want to risk the life without Sun? The tradition has to be resurrected immediately. Would it be in the best interest of the (wo)mankind?

Lee L
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 22, 2019 1:22 pm

The Precautionary Principle. Speaking of analytic sand …

Steve O
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 22, 2019 3:03 pm

A better analogy than witchcraft would be a possible ice age.

Reply to  Steve O
May 22, 2019 8:58 pm

“A better analogy than witchcraft would be a possible ice age.” Exactly. The costs to humankind of entering an ice age are enormous compared to a warm period. Applying the precautionary principle means we have to pump out as much CO2 as possible, no matter the alleged costs.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 24, 2019 6:19 am
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 24, 2019 11:32 pm

Our ancestors did take action against witches. That’s why standard witchcraft isn’t much of a problem these days.

May 22, 2019 10:17 am

Now that he’s switched sides, Jerry Taylor is raking in the big bucks. He earns more than a quarter of a million dollars per year at his “nonprofit” organization, the Niskanen Center:

How many of the climate activists who called him a “paid climate denier,” when his paycheck came from the Cato Institute, now call him a “paid climate alarmist” or similar?

Right. Not even one.

Hypocrites, the lot of them.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Dave Burton
May 22, 2019 11:28 am

Nice digging Dave.
Compensation for 7 employees making 6-figure salaries went up by $1million from the prior to current year in that 2017 statement.

Quite clear Mr Taylor decided to jump on the Green gravy train in 2014 and ride it while saying “Screw you America, I’m gettin’ mine.” And then joined the Swamp in DC and let the GreenSlime money interests consume him. No doubt he also assumed Hillary would follow Obama.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 22, 2019 1:47 pm

I make no judgement about Mr. Taylor’s motives or sincerity. But I do judge the people who accuse climate realists of being “paid climate deniers,” while giving a pass to climate activists with their noses in the trough:
comment image

Most of the time, if examining the evidence causes someone to shift his opinion about climate change, the shift is in the opposite direction. Case in point, David Siegel:

…and this guy:

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Dave Burton
May 22, 2019 11:15 pm

I seriously doubt coral can be harmed by any warming from anthropogenic CO2. Coral has been around for 350 millions years. Highly adaptable, and it can grow fast in rising and falling of +/- 2m/century seas of glacial onsets and melts.

The biggest threat in my mind of higher CO2 and higher CO2 is the Alarmists memes will keep collapsing causing them to argue for more socialism.
Resisting socialism’s siren call of Free Stuff paid for with OPM to solve a “non-problem” of climate change, climate change solutions that now include SJW positions of reparations and feminism issues, is the problem we face now.

Bill Powers
May 22, 2019 10:44 am

They don’t know their “fixes” will affect the climate let only not being certain of their Climate “science”. This will very likely be like smashing your thumb with a hammer to mitigate migraine headaches. You can’t be certain what causes the migraine but that smashed thumb will be very real and unnecessary pain.

Reply to  Bill Powers
May 22, 2019 1:53 pm

They don’t even know the beginning of this, as they surely are extreme calculator-dodgers.

In fact, a calculator is to an alarmist as a silver cross is to a vampire.

michael hart
Reply to  philincalifornia
May 23, 2019 6:28 am

Yes, a nice analogy.
The general “civilian” alarmist will also freely admit to comprehending little science, yet claim to be able to distinguish which scientists are correct and which are not by simply counting up the numbers on each side of the debate.

May 22, 2019 10:45 am

Then we need to take immediate action against Thanos now!

Reply to  David Middleton
May 22, 2019 12:56 pm

And most of the climate psychopaths :

We must help polar bears feed because they will be very hungry this summer !

Jeff Mitchell
Reply to  David Middleton
May 22, 2019 1:00 pm

Snap your fingers. That will fix it.

May 22, 2019 10:50 am

“You don’t have to believe with all your heart that the worst-case scenario is sure to happen. You just have to understand that it is one possible outcome. And that we should not be making policy based on an assumption that we are certain of this or that outcome.

When it comes to managing large-scale risks, straight-forward economics suggests that we ought to take X very seriously.”

Substitue for X:

climate ‘disaster’ – hot
climate ‘disaster’ – cold
Asteroid (or comet) collision
Solar instability (output, flares, storms, etc)
Megavolcano eruption (e.g., Yellowstone)
Viral pandemic
Massive California earthquake (with tsunamis wiping out Pac-Asia)
Thermonuclear disaster (war or accident)
Massive crop failures (for any reason)
Global economic collapse
Extraterrestrial invasion

Actually, looking at that list, the extraterrestrial invasion concerns me the least (simply too improbable), but all the others are more concerning than climate disaster – hot. I think we could adapt to a warmer climate with minimal damage. The others appear to me to be far more devastating.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  jtom
May 22, 2019 11:30 am

You can add antibiotic failure to your list as cases are already appearing in which infections are proving wholly resistant to all the antibiotics we have.
Personally I also worry the terrific progress in reducing malaria may come to nought if the parasite adapts yet again to our efforts to eliminate it.
Eric is dead right to say we are wasting billions on an unproven hysteria and not on things which really are harming people now and which we can actually do something about.

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
May 22, 2019 12:42 pm

…or using Taylor’s logic

we should all kill ourselves…because death is certain

Reply to  jtom
May 22, 2019 2:00 pm

You forgot volcanic island flank collapse and consequent mega-tsunami. Has happened many times in the past.

Or a really big hurricane like the one in 1780. If that happened today casualties would probably reach seven figures.

May 22, 2019 10:55 am

The Precautionary Principle they have developed to reverse CO2 is backwards…it should be that we won’t do anything to harm our economy and way of life until we have 100% proof that this future state of climate is both happening, and dangerous. So far, the climate is so benign that it is supporting 7.6 billion people on the good Earth, in part due to the CO2 we do have in the atmosphere. If there is anything we should fear about any long term climate change, it should be fear of a long term cooling trend as that would certainly be catastrophic to humanity. We shouldn’t kneecap our western economy to allow China and India to gain predominately infinite growth, since that is a bridge too far. Nor should we couch this CAGW movement as a Marxist wealth redistribution scheme, or as a way to seize power from democratically elected nations. If we cripple our economy and way of life now with this extreme disruption to our economy, then we won’t have the money to make these improvements as they are needed to deal with ongoing long term natural climate change into the long term future. Understanding and predicting natural climate change should be a prerequisite to any radical intervention to our way of life or the economy.

If any monies are to be spent on ‘climate change’, then it should be first for things that are ultimately required anyway, like general flood protection or building a sea wall defence to protect cities from the worst of a storm surge. Or tap vast supplies of fresh water to insulate against drought and improve present day agriculture, perhaps in conjunction with flood control. Just these items alone make up the majority of any doomsday climate change nonsense that is being peddled by the alarmists. These are things that will need doing in the future anyway, so planning and developing a long term strategy to strengthen and protect our infrastructure is a long term investment that will pay dividends to us and future generations.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Earthling2
May 22, 2019 12:16 pm

Michael Crichton also argued that point about the Precautionary Principle.

Dr Crichton wrote in his Author’s Message at the end of State of Fear:

– The “precautionary principle,” properly applied, forbids the the precautionary principle. It is self-contradictory. The precautionary principle therefore cannot be spoken of in terms that are too harsh.

The man was true genius and visionary. And compared to Dr Crichton insight and genius intellect, Mr Taylor is but a mere carnival barker looking to score a quick buck from gullible bystanders.

It is no wonder the GreenSlime desperately wanted the famous, respected, and popular Dr. Crichton dead. And then cheered when he unexpectedly died of a lymphoma.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 22, 2019 1:24 pm


Jack Dale
Reply to  Petit_Barde
May 22, 2019 1:28 pm

So in your minds science fiction trumps science.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 1:33 pm

Models? LOL

“We need to get some broad based support,
to capture the public’s imagination…
So we have to offer up scary scenarios,
make simplified, dramatic statements
and make little mention of any doubts…
Each of us has to decide what the right balance
is between being effective and being honest

– Prof. Stephen Schneider,
Stanford Professor of Climatology, lead author of many IPCC reports


“We’ve got to ride this global warming issue.
Even if the theory of global warming is wrong,
we will be doing the right thing in terms of
economic and environmental policy.”

– Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation


No matter if the science of global warming is all phony…
climate change provides the greatest opportunity to
bring about justice and equality in the world

– Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment


The data doesn’t matter. We’re not basing our recommendations
on the data. We’re basing them on the climate models

– Prof. Chris Folland, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research


“The models are convenient fictions
that provide something very useful.”

– Dr David Frame, climate modeler, Oxford University

Jack Dale
Reply to  Gator
May 22, 2019 1:37 pm

I see you found C3headlines and copied their contextomies. I do not know which is worse; their intellectual dishonesty or your plagiarism.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 1:58 pm

Your delusions trump everything Jack, except maybe your denial of what your team is up to, even when they spell it out. You are a joke, Jack! LOL

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 1:49 pm

I’d say the worst part is the unmitigated whining from Jack Dale

Jack Dale
Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 22, 2019 1:53 pm

If you do not want your assertions scrutinized, do not post them on a public forum.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 22, 2019 2:15 pm

He’s like a batting practice pitcher who only throws hanging curveballs… 😉

David Guy-Johnson
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 2:14 pm

Jack Dale, you’ve just proven you haven’t got a mind with that asinine accusation.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:10 pm

No, science fiction explains science fiction.
There never was any science behind the myth that CO2 was harmful.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:10 pm

Anyone else notice that Jack doesn’t even try to refute the statements of his side.
Instead he just insults those who show his own lack of clothes.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:11 pm

Jack, when did blatant whining become “scrutiny”?

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:57 pm

I suggest you do some research on plagiarism, Jack Dale, before exposing your misunderstandings. Quoting small amounts of text, within quotation marks, while citing the original sources is NOT plagiarism. See

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 4:29 pm

Yet another thing that JD considers himself an expert in, but isn’t.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 5:26 pm

Ralph, Don’t confuse him with facts while he’s being superior and gloating about it.

Or…. Don’t interrupt an enemy while he’s making a mistake. Sun Tzu

mike the morlock
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 7:19 pm

Not Sun Tzu.
just some short French guy:-D

n’interromps jamais ton ennemi lorsqu’il commet une erreur


Reply to  mike the morlock
May 22, 2019 7:39 pm

Napoleon Bonaparte was not all that short for his generation of Frenchmen. Cartoons of him as a malevolent dwarf by the British and Austrians were war propaganda.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:05 pm

Pretty much most of what Dr Crichton wrote about the Greenslime in his 2004 State of Fear novel has come to fruition in 2019. The lightning thing was sorta out there, but all the characters he portrayed, pretty much spot on.

The Left is desperate to silence anyone who speaks out against their climate religion. Including you Jack.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 23, 2019 9:42 am

You ignorant fool. It takes a great deal of work and intelligence to write a good science fiction novel. Besides people like Dr. Crichton, I would like to point out Issac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Dr. Carl Sagan, just to name a few. Any one of them could have debated circles around you. Did it never occur to you that in order to write a good science fiction novel that one must have a good education in science?

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 24, 2019 12:40 am

I didn’t know Trump did science, but I know he has a good line in fiction, and he claims a “genius” level IQ.

George Daddis
Reply to  Earthling2
May 22, 2019 1:08 pm

When the Precautionary Principle was explained to to me; probably decades before some of these geniuses were born, it was indeed 180 degrees away from Taylors definition; to paraphrase:

If you have a serious problem, refrain from taking drastic action until you are sure the cure is not worse than the disease.

Reply to  George Daddis
May 23, 2019 1:39 am

You’re right, George. For me, the precautionary principle is “Look before you leap,” and that includes your version. If you want to go further with the cure/disease analogy, you can use the Hippocratic oath, “First, do no harm.”

Yet in the alarmist definition, which I found in a UK government document from 2002, the purpose of the principle is: “to create an impetus to take a decision notwithstanding scientific uncertainty about the nature and extent of the risk.” And they want to use it “even if the likelihood of harm is remote.”

Shoki Kaneda
May 22, 2019 10:58 am

Summary – We don’t understand what’s happening, so we should spend trillions and end civilization as we know it.

Reply to  Shoki Kaneda
May 22, 2019 1:21 pm


Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Shoki Kaneda
May 22, 2019 2:52 pm

I think it is more accurate to state it this way than that: Nothing which is in any way unusual is occurring with the weather, and added CO2 is causing the Earth to green up and crops to grow faster and more easily, so spending any money at all to “fight” a nonexistent problem is dumb, and spending vast amounts of time and money is insane and counterproductive.

I think we understand weather just fine. It is predictions that are beyond our ken. In fact it may well be the case that it will never be possible to predict the weather decades in advance, especially with insufficient input precision, accuracy, number and distribution of data points, and computing power.
I do agree that no one has sufficient understanding, let alone verification of such, of all of the relevant factors when it comes to how the atmosphere changes over time.

Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 10:58 am

Imagine there are no people. Imagine a planet where the sea level is about five to 40 meters (16 to 131 feet) higher than normal. Imagine a planet that is hotter and wetter. Imagine, worldwide, it’s roughly 3 to 4 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than today. And the North and South poles are even warmer still – as much as 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than today.

Welcome to the Pliocene. That was the Earth about three to five million years ago, very different to the Earth we inhabit now. But in at least one respect it was rather similar. This is the last time that carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were as high as they are today.

And that was just 400 ppm, not 415 ppm as it is currently.

Frederick Michael
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:20 am

Imagine an ice age.

Reply to  Frederick Michael
May 22, 2019 11:31 am

They already did imagine one!

Science News magazine, 1975…


1974 TIME magazine article…

The full text of the article can be accessed through Steve Goddard’s Real Science.

1973 Newsweek article…


Dan Gainor compiled a great timeline of media alarmism (both warming and cooling) in his Fire and Ice essay.

This 1975 magazine cover and article were very real…

Energy and Climate: Studies in Geophysics was a 1977 National Academies publication. It featured what appears to be the same temperature graph, clearly demonstrating a mid-20th century cooling trend…

The mid-20th Century cooling trend is clearly present in the instrumental record, at least in the northern hemisphere…

According to the models Gorebal Warming saved us from The Ice Age Cometh


The imagination of today’s climate scientists saved us from the imaginations of 1970’s climate scientists.

Jack Dale
Reply to  David Middleton
May 22, 2019 12:37 pm

Science was 6:1 warming:cooling in the 70’s.

The MSm got it really wrong.

” Steve Goddard’s Real Science” = oxymoron

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 12:42 pm

JD, you are either trying gaslighting or have fallen prey to revisionist history yourself. As an old fart (63) I remember the popular media and such sources as Scientific American. It was cooling they were predicting, not warming.

Jack Dale
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 22, 2019 1:12 pm

Yes, you remember MSM, you do not remember science. Read the BAMS article.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 12:48 pm

Science in the 1970’s…

Historical geology…

Suggestion that changing carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere could be a major factor in climate change dates from 1861, when it was proposed by British physicist John Tyndall.


Unfortunately we cannot estimate accurately changes of past CO2 content of either atmosphere or oceans, nor is there any firm quantitative basis for estimating the the magnitude of drop in carbon dioxide content necessary to trigger glaciation.  Moreover the entire concept of an atmospheric greenhouse effect is controversial, for the rate of ocean-atmosphere equalization is uncertain.

Dott, Robert H. & Roger L. Batten.  Evolution of the Earth.  McGraw-Hill, Inc.  Second Edition 1976.  p. 441.


FORECASTING THE FUTURE. We can now try to decide if we are now in an interglacial stage, with other glacials to follow, or if the world has finally emerged from the Cenozoic Ice Age. According to the Milankovitch theory, fluctuations of radiation of the type shown in Fig. 16-18 must continue and therefore future glacial stages will continue. According to the theory just described, as long as the North and South Poles retain their present thermally isolated locations, the polar latitudes will be frigid; and as the Arctic Ocean keeps oscillating between ice-free and ice-covered states, glacial-interglacial climates will continue.

Finally, regardless of which theory one subscribes to, as long as we see no fundamental change in the late Cenozoic climate trend, and the presence of ice on Greenland and Antarctica indicates that no change has occurred, we can expect that the fluctuations of the past million years will continue.

Donn, William L. Meteorology. 4th Edition. McGraw-Hill 1975. pp 463-464

Physical geography…

The atmosphere’s blanketing effect over the earth’s surface has been compared to the functioning of a greenhouse.  Short-wave sunlight passes as easily through the glass of the greenhouse as through the atmosphere.  Because glass is opaque to the long-wave radiation from the warm interior of the greenhouse, it hinders the escape of energy.

As a planet, the earth is not warming or cooling appreciably on the average, because it loses as much radiant energy as it gains.

Kolenkow, Robert J., Reid A. Bryson, Douglas B. Carter, R. Keith Julian, Robert A. Muller, Theodore M. Oberlander, Robert P. Sharp & M. Gordon Wolman. Physical geography today : a portrait of a planet.  Del Mar, Calif. : CRM Books, [1974]. p. 64.

Science in 1963…

On the influence of changes in the CO2 concentration in air on the radiation balance of the Earth’s surface and on the climate

F. Möller


The numerical value of a temperature change under the influence of a CO2 change as calculated by Plass is valid only for a dry atmosphere. Overlapping of the absorption bands of CO2 and H2O in the range around 15 μ essentially diminishes the temperature changes. New calculations give ΔT = + 1.5° when the CO2 content increases from 300 to 600 ppm. Cloudiness diminishes the radiation effects but not the temperature changes because under cloudy skies larger temperature changes are needed in order to compensate for an equal change in the downward long-wave radiation. The increase in the water vapor content of the atmosphere with rising temperature causes a self-amplification effect which results in almost arbitrary temperature changes, e.g. for constant relative humidity ΔT = +10° in the above mentioned case. It is shown, however, that the changed radiation conditions are not necessarily compensated for by a temperature change. The effect of an increase in CO2 from 300 to 330 ppm can be compensated for completely by a change in the water vapor content of 3 per cent or by a change in the cloudiness of 1 per cent of its value without the occurrence of temperature changes at all. Thus the theory that climatic variations are effected by variations in the CO2 content becomes very questionable.

Journal of Geophysical Research

From the full paper…

In this case, we must distinguish between the assumptions that the water vapor content (in cm l.e.) remains unchanged in spite of heating (cooling) of the atmosphere and that it increases (decreases). Constant absolute humidity means that the relative humidity (f) decreases from 75 to 70.34 per cent with a 1° or lowered by 4.66 per cent per deg. According to the above-mentioned calculations, an increase in CO2 from 300 to 600 ppm gives us a temperature change ΔT = +1.5° for Δf = -4.66 per cent per deg, and a temperature change ΔT = +9.6° for Δf = 0.


We recognize that for Δf = 0.8 per cent per deg the temperature change becomes infinite. Very small variations effect a reversal of sign or huge amplifications.

It is not too difficult to infer from these numbers that the variation in the radiation budget from a changed CO2 concentration can be compensated for completely without any variation in the surface temperature when the cloudiness is increased by +0.006 or the water vapor content is decreased by -0.07 cm l.e.


These are variations in the cloudiness by 1 per cent of its value or in the water vapor content by 3 per cent of its value. No meteorologist or climatologist would dare to determine the mean cloudiness or mean water content of the atmosphere with such accuracy; much less can a change of this order of magnitude be proved or its existence denied. Because of these values the entire theory of climatic changes by CO2 variations is becoming questionable.

So, way back in 1963, we knew exactly what we know today:

The entire theory of climatic changes by CO2 variations is questionable.

Jack Dale
Reply to  David Middleton
May 22, 2019 1:10 pm

6 times more paper on warming. Read the BAMS paper.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 2:08 pm

In the opinions of the authors of the BAMS paper… vs the actual text from actual textbooks from the 1970’s and the actual texts from news articles from the 1970’s and actual scientific papers written in the 1960’s and 1970’s. A review of an expanded inventory of papers from 1965-1979 yielded somewhat different results.

The degree to which there was or wasn’t a consensus is irrelevant. Compared to today, there were very few papers being written on climate change in the 1970’s. The lack of attention to global warming in the textbooks and the media focus of attention on an imminent ice age didn’t materialize out of thin air.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 2:10 pm

Tony is right, Jack is wrong. I remember it. In the 1970s the “consensus” was that the threat was cooling, not warming.

The twin threats of global cooling and acid rain were the reasons that building extremely tall chimneys was abandoned as the primary approach for ground level air pollution abatement from power plants and factories, in favor of (much more expensive) “scrubbers.”

Here’s a 1974 TIME Magazine article entitled, “Another Ice Age?”

Here’s the original copy, on Time’s web site:,9171,944914,00.html

Here’s a 1974 CIA Report on climate change entitled, A Study of Climatological Research as it Pertains to Intelligence Problems, which summarized expert opinion of the day:

The dreaded climate threat then was global cooling, rather than warming. Here’s an excerpt, from the Summary:

“The western world’s leading climatologists have confirmed recent reports of a detrimental global climatic change… during 50 of the last 60 years the Earth has, on the average, enjoyed the best agricultural climate since the eleventh century… The world is returning to the type of climate which has existed over the last 400 years. That is, the abnormal climate of agricultural-optimum is being replaced by a normal climate of the neo-boreal era. The climate change began in 1960…”

The grim climate to which we were thought to be returning was the Little Ice Age. “Boreal” means cold:

boreal. adj. Relating to or characteristic of the climatic zone south of the Arctic, especially the cold temperate region dominated by taiga and forests of birch, poplar, and conifers…

Fortunately, the consensus (and TIME, and the CIA) were wrong. The cooling trend bottomed out about five years later. Since then, the climate has been modestly warming, and the “agricultural-optimum” temperatures have been maintained.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:05 pm

Jack Daly, the mental image you project is that of a small child with fingers pressed into ears, chanting “lalalalalalalalalala…”
Plus you are just plain wrong.

Richard M
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:48 pm

Jack, sorry but the paper you referenced has been shown to be nonsense (aka propaganda).

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 23, 2019 3:30 am

Those deriding Jack Dale should have a heart and show more compassion. It must be horrible for him to have his entire worldview contradicted by actual facts.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 23, 2019 3:54 am


Science was 6 warming, 283 cooling in the 70´s.

Try to get your numbers right. I´ve heard this “but there WAS papers for warming” before many times. I know that argument. 6.

Now go and play football with other 12 years old. Stop now, you stupid troll!

Thomas Homer
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:23 am

Imagine the role of CO2 in the Carbon Cycle of Life.

Terence Cain
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:37 am

Where’s the Pliocene climate then?

Jack Dale
Reply to  Terence Cain
May 22, 2019 12:32 pm

Just wait a bit. Meanwhile, study up on system lag.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 12:50 pm

There is no lag in the Transient Climate Response (>80% of the warming)…

comment image

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:19 pm

Something like 90% of the response to more CO2 should show up in less than 5 years. We’ve been increasing CO2 for over 80 years. We’ve also been increasing CO2 pretty steadily over the last 25 years, yet the only warming during that period was a massive El Nino.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:20 pm

We have been “waiting” for over 30 years, Jack, while one global warming alarmist prediction after another failed, one after the other.
In fact, the record of being completely wrong every single time they open their mouths is a rather amazing and highly unlikely outcome, and yet, here we are.
In 2019,
Still waiting.
Still listening to you jackasses being wrong and smug.
Only now you are costing us money.
Only now you have miseducated generations of kids.
Only now you are scaring young people into committing suiciding and poisoning themselves with drugs in higher numbers than ever before in history.
All while nothing changes, the weather is the same as it ever was, and warmistas pretend they know shit from shinola.

Reply to  Terence Cain
May 22, 2019 1:45 pm

Just wait a bit. Meanwhile, study up on system lag.

Or better, you could study up on the non-sequitur fallacy.

Unless you’re already familiar . . .

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:38 am

Yup. And Yellowstone went up 1st time round about then.
Might could again.
Watcha goan do ’bout it, homes?

Reply to  Mr.
May 22, 2019 12:20 pm

During the last 350 years Yellowstone has had regular 60 year periodic oscillations ( link ), the regularity I have not come across in any other set of the data.

Reply to  vukcevic
May 22, 2019 2:28 pm

What is graphed there, vukcevic? (What are the units of the vertical scale?)

Reply to  Dave Burton
May 23, 2019 12:58 am

It is change in the surface magnetic field intensity. Long term and slow changes are due to variability in the intensity of global field. In shorter term there is an effect from solar activity via geomagnetic storms (22 year component) and finally changes in the magma movements.
The near surface magma is not magnetic, its temperature is well above Curie point, however temperature of the lithosphere above slowly decreases towards the surface. Any movement or temperature changes of the magma below will be reflected in the depth of lithosphere (rich in the iron compounds) and therefore volume of the magnetised material below Curie point at any moment in time. Units are nT, with 100nT commensurate with strength of an average geomagnetic storm in the polar region, the recent GM storm widely publicized
was graded as a severe (by BGS) at 200nT (as measured at Tromso, Norway)

Kevin A
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:39 am

MegaCattle with tons of Rib Eye! Bring it on!

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:49 am

The Pliocene is just more evidence that CO2 has jack schist to do with temperatures…

Reply to  David Middleton
May 23, 2019 6:44 am

Some authors have suggested that the continual rising of the Himalayas reached a “critical” altitude about 5 million years ago (sufficient to influence atmospheric wind patterns), which contributed to the generally-cooler temps since then. (Does anyone else remember this?)

As well as the aforementioned rising of the Isthmus of Panama (within the same timeframe).

Too many people are “hung up” on the notion that CO2 is the “only” climate driver. (I call that “Single-Cause Attribution”)

One of my most influential Geology profs taught us about T. C. Chamberlin’s “Multiple Working Hypotheses”, 42 years ago, i.e., I was taught to be a skeptic. Sadly, I have only heard one Geologist mention “Multiple Working Hypotheses” in the field (perhaps others used it without explaining it to others).

And I do remember “global cooling” (due to atmospheric “opacity” due to particulates) being mentioned, then.

Reply to  ontherocks
May 23, 2019 7:28 am

I should have mentioned the Himalayas.

Now you know of at least two geologists who had Chamberlin’s Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses drummed into his head in college… I don’t know how someone could be a geologist without it.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:53 am

…. more like ‘Pillockcene’ if the climatiers get their way.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:56 am

And what conclusion are you to draw from a world where the CO2 concentration is LOWER (400 compared to 415), yet WARMER (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit). Perhaps that the relationship of CO2 to temperature is not what some think?

Mike Menlo
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 12:07 pm

Jack, it seems like a fair argument against CO2 as the main cause of warming in the Pilocene, and against the global warming alarmist scenarios. If the earth had lower CO2 levels and yet was much warmer, then it wasn’t CO2 which caused the warming, so what was it?

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 12:42 pm

so are you saying that we should have already been experiencing Pliocene climate? So, why are we not?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 12:57 pm

I agree Jack, Climate Change is all about imagination.

Jeff Mitchell
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 1:01 pm

I think an ice age would have been a better comparison since we’ve been there done that.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 1:55 pm

However there is very little to suggest that the Pliocene climate was due to the 400 ppm CO2.

It is easy to name a dozen intervals when CO2 was about 400 ppm, but with vastly different climates. The Berriasian, the Valanginian, the Early Paleocene and the Early Eocene for example.

Reply to  tty
May 22, 2019 2:11 pm

The most likely “culprit” was the efficiency of ocean heat transport… The closure of the Panama Seaway was probably the main driver in the rapid cooling from the Pliocene into the Pleistocene.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 2:58 pm

“Imagine a planet where the sea level is about five to 40 meters (16 to 131 feet) higher than normal.”

You have this backwards.
If one were to consider what level of the ocean is “normal”, one would logically look at the level that has prevailed for the majority of the time.
Earth has very rarely been as deadly cold as now, and vast amounts of frozen water have rarely been locked up in ice sheets and glaciers, ergo normal sea level is the one that exists when the ice sheets have melted.

Imagine something else instead: Imagine a world with abundant life from pole to pole, with no huge expanses of deadly and permanently frozen wastelands.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 22, 2019 3:22 pm

The fact that Jack considers the bottom of the Little Ice Age to be “normal” tells us all we need to know about his perspective.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 22, 2019 5:05 pm

Normal depends on specific perspective;

” …. The only normal one is Jack-Jack, and he’s not even toilet trained!”

Turned out that, despite appearances, Jack wasn’t normal after all (but still wasn’t toilet trained).

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:16 pm

Really Jack, that’s the best you can do?

Please tell me how a few tenths of a degree is going to kill all the people, when temperatures 3 to 5C higher not only didn’t end humanity but was a time of unprecedented growth.

Really, 5 to 40 meters? Even the sainted IPCC doesn’t get that apocalyptic. Once again, where’s the science that says that a few tenths of a degree is going to result in that much SLR.

Imagine a world that’s warmer and wetter. I’d love to, such a world would be a lot better for most plants and animals.

Jack, Jack, Jack, you know as well as everyone that there were significant geographic differences between the world of 3 to 5 million years ago and today. Yet, like most acolytes you want to ignore everything other than CO2. I would like to believe that you aren’t actually stupid enough to believe the crap you are laying down, so I can only conclude that you are being paid to lie.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:44 pm

‘And that was just 400 ppm, not 415 ppm as it is currently.’

So… I guess it was something else causing all that, huh?
Because it ain’t like that NOW, is it?

John the Econ
May 22, 2019 10:59 am

Ah yes, Pascal’s Dilemma. I have always assumed that if this was taken seriously, our churches would be overflowing with climate scientists. And yet, they are not.

I can literally think of hundreds of things that are very likely to happen long before climate change kills us all. And yet I see no big rush to address those either.

Reply to  John the Econ
May 23, 2019 8:28 am

My biggest problem with Pascal’s Wager was that it doesn’t tell you WHICH Religion you should be ‘betting’ on.

I mean, logically your best bet would be to follow ALL the religions. And since we’re talking precautionary principle here, that includes even the really unlikely ones, like Discordia, Pastafarian, Raëlians, etc.

Now, some people may think this would be too difficult. I mean, we can’t even get all the variations of Christianity to work together, or them with the variations of Islam or Judaism, despite them all having a lot in common (and probably all sharing the same God). How can we hope to reconcile all those with systems that worship OTHER Gods? Or MULTIPLE gods? Or even no God at all?

I’ve thought long and hard about this, and eventually I came to a conclusion. By reading the holy works of many belief systems I’ve come to the conclusion that the Gods of most religions are largely more concerned that you not worship the WRONG way, namely the way depicted by the other major Religions. Heretics are always hated far more then unbelievers, who are hated more then the mearly Agnostic. So the true precautionary principle would state that your best bet is to follow NONE OF THEM. Because isn’t it better to believe Nothing them to be wrong?


(actually I’m Infinitive Christian, in part because I don’t think faith should be based on game theory. Luckily my God is a forgiving one. He even forgives people for not knowing which ‘True’ religion they were supposed to guess was the right one.)

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Schitzree
May 23, 2019 11:25 am

A distracted and pretty much disinterested God is indeed smiling down upon us from his place in the clouds, although I am not so sure he has a long grey beard. (Or dreadlocks made of pasta, for that matter.)
But below us, it is turtles.
All the way down.

Steve O
May 22, 2019 11:00 am

This column gets to the very heart of the issue: What actions are justified based on what we know?

More spending on monitoring the weather and studying the climate? Absolutely.
Support to create models, and study historical climate. 100% on board.
Decarbonize the global economy at a huge cost? Not even close.
Advertising programs to convince alarmists to switch to a diet based on insect-protein? You bet.

Many of the proposals, such as wind power and wealth transfers, make no rational sense under ANY scenario.

Reply to  Steve O
May 22, 2019 4:11 pm

“More spending on monitoring the weather and studying the climate? Absolutely.
Support to create models, and study historical climate. 100% on board.”
That is exactly what I said 30 years ago. That led us here.
Thousands of jobs depend on the possibility of a problem. How many of them will report the non-existence of the problem?
So here we are.

May 22, 2019 11:00 am

Personally, I think that Witches are a greater problem than Global Warming/Climate Change and that more money should be spent on studying Witches and all the money not spent on investigating Climate Change/Global Warming should fund schools and hospitals. The large amount left over after that can be given back to taxpayers.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
May 22, 2019 3:24 pm

Do we get to pick which witch we get to study?

Joel O'Bryan
May 22, 2019 11:03 am

Straight forward economics strongly urges us to do nothing on climate change but continue to invest in infrastructure resilience and economic growth.

You have to be moron to think that if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, that somehow major hurricanes would cease to occur, or other extreme weather would stop, or that SLR would reverse. The biggest threat to ecosystems and the environment is poor population. Sub-Sahara Africa today is the prime example of what poverty, poaching, and environmental destruction brings.
China needs the Congo to be in chaos so that its companies can continue to exploit and strip its resources at a fraction of their value for return to China for refining.

As far as worst case scenarios go, Mr Taylor seems to fail to appreciate the sick mind of a Progressive and the unending “never-enough” needs of rentseeking pseudoscientists. If we achieved some goal to address a worst-case scenario, the Left always invents an even worse case scenario. They are doing it right now in CMIP6 with a scenario that will make RCP8.5-doomsters blush with envy.

The best choice to to “Just Say No” to these Leftist children and their magical thinking. Yes, they’ll have temper tantrums as they do everyday with Trump. But then that all the more reason to just ignore them and not abet their behavior, which just gets reinforces more of that childish behavior.

Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:03 am

Clearly Mr Worrall is clearly unfamiliar with the “Cautionary Principle.” He probably has no house insurance and does not wear a seat belt whole in a moving car.

[?? .mod]

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 11:33 am

It’s the Precautionary Principle… And it would prevent Eric from buying a house or driving a car because he might crash the car into the house.

Joel Snider
Reply to  David Middleton
May 22, 2019 12:24 pm

See that, Jack? David just gave you an opportunity to learn. Try and make the most of it.

Anthony Banton
Reply to  David Middleton
May 22, 2019 1:47 pm

“And it would prevent Eric from buying a house or driving a car because he might crash the car into the house.”

Having a house and driving a car are pretty much unavoidable (the first is an imperative).
However insurance – for the house at least (in the UK car insurance is a legal requirement) – is optional.
How many would do without it?
And why would that be?

Reply to  Anthony Banton
May 22, 2019 2:12 pm

Insurance is to the precautionary principle as condoms are to abstinence.

Reply to  David Middleton
May 23, 2019 7:52 am

Jack´s father didn´t understand precautionary principle.

Reply to  Anthony Banton
May 22, 2019 3:27 pm

The cost of insurance is related to relative risk.
On the other hand the cost of cutting CO2 levels is trillions of times greater than even the worst case risk.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Anthony Banton
May 22, 2019 3:57 pm

Actually a better analogy would be to say, ‘we think you might develop heart-disease someday, so we’re just gonna hook you up with a government-mandated artificial baboon heart – but don’t worry, ALL our crony peer-review says it works fine.

Because we’re trying to help.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 12:23 pm

Jack Dale

Clearly Mr Worrall is clearly unfamiliar with the “Cautionary Principle.” He probably has no house insurance and does not wear a seat belt whole in a moving car.

Rather, your abuse of the Precautionary Principle holds that, because tornadoes have struck around my house, I must bulldoze the entire city I live in and move all of the houses and stores and hospitals and buildings down below ground, with adequate food, water and air stored inside each shelter for 6 months, because the power and water might also be out after a tornado for 6 months.

Frederick Michael
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 12:53 pm

The worst case scenario is NOT temps rising a couple of degrees; it’s temps falling a couple of degrees. The mass extinction that would occur in the resulting ice age would dwarf anything any global warming alarmist has predicted.

Have anthropogenic CO2 emission already prevented such a nightmare? Some climatologists think so.

So, given the precautionary principle, isn’t it imperative that we do everything possible to prevent another ice age?

Jack Dale
Reply to  Frederick Michael
May 22, 2019 1:07 pm

Any ice age is 10’s of thousands of years in the future. The effects of warming are with the next few generations.

Philip D. Gingerich. Temporal Scaling of Carbon Emission and Accumulation Rates: Modern Anthropogenic Emissions Compared to Estimates of PETM-Onset Accumulation. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 2019; DOI: 10.1029/2018PA003379

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 2:51 pm

Too fracking funny. More evidence that CO2 has Jack Schist to do with temperatures.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:28 pm

We had a lot of fun with “Dr” Gingerich’s so called paper just a couple of days ago.
Surprised you managed to miss it.

Reply to  MarkW
May 22, 2019 3:30 pm

Particularly since I hat tipped him for it… 😉

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:39 pm

“Any ice age is 10’s of thousands of years in the future. ”

-Jack Dale

Frederick Michael
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 9:23 pm

Jack Dale – “Any ice age is 10’s of thousands of years in the future.”

How do you know that? Could that be because of anthropogenic CO2?

This interglacial is already unusually long. That’s why some climatologists suggest we’ve already prevented (or delayed) the next ice age.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 23, 2019 6:52 am

Any ice age is 10’s of thousands of years in the future.

The astronomical decision to end the Holocene has already been taken, as there is a lag of ~6,500 years between cause and effect in Milankovitch forcing. The planet committed to a new glaciation when the summer energy at 70°N with a threshold of 250 W/m2 went below 4.96 GJ/m2. This line was crossed 1,500 years ago, and there is no going back. See:
Particularly figure 139.

The long interglacial hypothesis is wrong in several of its assumptions and should be rejected.

The faith in CO2 will not keep the ice from coming. Although glacial inception is still 1,000-4,000 years away, there will be serious cooling in the coming centuries and the precautionary principle requires we start preparing for what would be the worst catastrophe ever for humankind.

Robert Austin
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 1:46 pm

No rational person insures where the cost of insurance exceeds the cost of possible damages. Just ask Bjorn Lomberg, an economist who accepts the man made climate change script but dared to question the “precautionary principle” rational for trashing the western economy. Of course he was vilified for deviating from the full five alarm climate disaster porn message.

Reply to  Robert Austin
May 22, 2019 2:09 pm

It’s worse than that.

We also did an audit of the forecasting procedures used for two papers that were designed to support proposed regulation related to protecting polar bears – leg “3” of the stool. On average, these procedures violated 85% of the 90 relevant principles.
The warming alarmists have not demonstrated the predictive validity of their procedures. Instead, their argument for predictive validity is based on their claim that nearly all scientists agree with the forecasts. Such an appeal to “voting” is contrary to the scientific method. It is also incorrect.
We conducted a validation test of the IPCC forecasts based on the assumption that there would be no interventions. This test found that the errors for IPCC model long-term forecasts (91 to 100 years in the future) were 12.6 times larger than those from an evidence-based “no change” model.
Based on our analyses, we concluded that the global warming alarm is an anti-scientific political movement.
We then turned to the “structured analogies” method to forecast the likely outcomes of this movement. In this ongoing study, we have, to date, identified 26 historical alarmist movements. None of the forecasts for the analogous alarms proved correct. In the 25 alarms that called for government intervention, the government impost regulations in 23. None of the 23 interventions was effective and harm was caused by 20 of them.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Robert Austin
May 22, 2019 4:03 pm

Robert – see your misconception? You used the word ‘rational’.

Dealing with Progressives in general and greenies in particular you just have accept that rationality is not a factor.

Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 2:46 pm

I think it is a better analogy to assume a house with a replacement cost of $400,000 and an insurance policy costing $500,000 per year. Still wise to buy the insurance? That should be a stretch, even for an alarmist.

The seat belt comparison makes no sense unless the comparison is supplied by someone who only advocates low cost, low disruption responses to climate change. The benefits of seat belts are established by decades of statistics across hundreds of millions of drivers. The cost of use is trivial.

Reply to  GordonInVancouver
May 23, 2019 9:44 am

Wearing a seatbelt has very little ‘cost’, and the benefit (while unlikely to be needed for the average driver) is potentially large. Therfore the seatbelt has good cost/benefit.

An alternative to wearing a seat belt it to reduce the speed limit to 10mph. The benefit (from an accident/injury perspective) is even greater then the seatbelt, but the cost would be astronomical. Travel times would be 5X longer on average. Our entire civilization would have to be reworked.
Now assume that a political group wanted to mandate that all vehicles be driven backwards to prevent injuries. No matter how much they claim that dangerous vehicle accidents are on the rise, or what statistics they show that accidents in vehicles that are being driven backwards result in fewer injuries, it won’t change the fact that their ‘solution’ is both a terrible idea and doesn’t have a good cost/benefit.

These is where we are with the Climate Faithful. Not only do they want us to spend vast resources against a low possibility of disaster, they want us to spend them on solutions that are unlikely to work.


Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:25 pm

As espoused by the acolytes, the precautionary principle is more akin to buying meteorite insurance for your house.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:26 pm

Jack Dale
Something you overlook is the cost of insurance. It would not be logical to buy insurance if it cost more than the replacement value of the house.

You would do well to read the following paper by Chauncey Starr:

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Jack Dale
May 22, 2019 3:36 pm

Using your analogy Jack, and the logic and application of the precautionary principle as reinvented by climate alarmists, we would all call the fire department to drench our house and chop holes in the roof anytime we stepped out for the day, in case a fire started. And trade our cars in for bicycles.

May 22, 2019 11:05 am

“…we should most certainly hedge—and hedge aggressively—by removing fossil fuels from the economy as quickly as possible.”

That’s not hedging. That’s jumping off a cliff.

Bryan A
Reply to  icisil
May 22, 2019 12:29 pm

Anyone who believes the correct action is to “Hedge” by removing Fossil Fuels from the economy has the Moral Obligation to act upon it by no longer making use of anything and everything that uses Fossil Fuels in it’s creation or use.
No fossil fueled cars, trucks, boats or planes
No fossil fuel transported foods or goods
No fossil fuel produced electricity and no grid sourced electricity as .80% of grid sourced energy is created by fossil fuels
No rubber tires
No petrol chemicals
No synthetics
No plastics
No cell phones

May 22, 2019 11:09 am

China, India, and the rest of the developing world control CO2 emissions, now and into the future. Even if these emissions were a problem (which, of course, they’re not), we couldn’t do a thing about it. I think the Aussies just made that point, loud and clear.

D Anderson
May 22, 2019 11:15 am

That thinking assumes there is no risk to taking “action”. The risk is we sacrifice all the gains we’ve made in bringing people out of poverty in the last 40 years.

May 22, 2019 11:15 am

My friendly opponent in a Golf grudge match could take out insurance costing $100,000 against a wager of say $1,000 that I don’t win the game with 3 Holes-In-One, because a Sims version of me did 3 Holes-In-One in a simulation of my games based on previous ones against different opponents just so he would ensure he would ‘win the game’ somehow.

[Feel free to correct or expand my example of the ludicrous GND schemes]

May 22, 2019 11:18 am

Eric ==> Can’t say that I agree with you — Taylor’s reasoning is the same as mine for no longer riding motorcycles — which I greatly enjoyed as a young man (my first vehicle was a motorcycle at 15 1/2 — and I still have recurring dreams of riding the deserts of California in nothing but swim trunks and sunglasses. But now, with more years behind me than I wish to admit to, I consider motorcycle riding simply too dangerous — far exceeding my risk-benefit ratio.

Nothing wrong with Taylor personally deciding that his fear of “Bad Things The Climate Might Do” exceeds his personal ability to accept those risks.

I have exposed by own understandings on the topic here at WUWT in my two-essay series “Why I Don’t Deny: Confessions of a Climate Skeptic” Parts 1 and 2.

In my opinion, after following the topic since the early two thousand noughts… that we should take all reasonable No Regrets actions and throw money at Nuclear (fusion or modern fission). It is silly to still be “burning stuff” for energy.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 22, 2019 12:31 pm

Bjorn Lomberg is on the same page as you, Kip, if I remember correctly.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 22, 2019 12:46 pm

Motorcycle accidents are real events. CAGW is fiction that only exists in models and the minds of doomers, and it has zero relationship with reality.

Reply to  Gator
May 22, 2019 2:01 pm

…. don’t forget the kleptocrats and the other assorted taxation thieves and hucksters, and the cognitive dissonance-ridden scientists and others who can’t bear to admit they were wrong in their strident pronouncements, now embarrassing.

Reply to  Gator
May 22, 2019 2:33 pm

It also was a real event when I was in the emergency room once and everyone in it except for me (about 40 people) had been in a motorcycle accident, not one person was there due to climate change.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  TomT
May 22, 2019 3:55 pm

As a lifelong veteran of emergency rooms from north to south and east to west across the US, I have to say that the odds of everyone in one being there from such a cause is incredibly unlikely.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 23, 2019 6:26 pm

Group Ride + Drunk Driver = Lots Wrecked Bikers.

Happened to an old friend of mine. They were on a Poker Run and were stopped at a light when a drunk in a large pickup failed to stop, and plowed right into the back of them. At least a dozen people injured, including several couples who were riding double. Luckily no one was killed, though several were close calls.


Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 22, 2019 1:06 pm

Everything in life is a risk:benefits calculation.
Except that with the climate alarmists, they demand there be no consideration of the benefits of fossil fuel use or of CO2 increases on increased productivity of the biosphere.
Doing so allows the denominator in the calculation to approach zero. The no matter the what does or doesn’t come to pass on the risk claims, the assessment always goes to the extreme on action for risk avoidance.

I don’t have a motorcycle because both my parents are still alive and I’m their only child left. I can’t do that to them with such high risk behavior. Tucson Arizona motorists killed two local motorcyclists just this past Sunday in separate accidents. Tucson drivers kill an average of 1 motorcyclist a week.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 22, 2019 3:32 pm

Nothing silly about using the cheapest form of energy available.
Unless you simply hate people and want them to suffer.

May 22, 2019 11:19 am

You don’t have to believe with all your heart that the worst-case scenario is sure to happen. You just have to understand that it is one possible outcome.

When we file exploration and development plans to drill wells in the Gulf of Mexico, we have to include a “worst case discharge” calculation.

Worst Case Discharge (WCD) for exploratory and development drilling operations is the daily rate of an uncontrolled flow of natural gas and oil from all producible reservoirs into the open wellbore. The package of reservoirs exposed to an open borehole with the greatest discharge potential is considered the worst case discharge scenario.

Operators must submit WCD calculated volumes, and associated data according to NTL 2010-N06 (Information Requirements for Exploration Plans, Development and Production Plans, and Development Operations Coordination Documents on the OCS) and the associated frequently asked questions as part of every Exploration Plan and every Development Operations Coordination Document/Development and Production Plan.

We don’t drill wells with the expectation that the rig will explode, sink into the ocean and the oil & gas will flow directly out of the wellhead in an uncontrolled manner… But we make this calculation because the government tells us to. It doesn’t help to prevent blowouts. It doesn’t help to control blowouts. It doesn’t help to clean up the oil after blowouts. I think it’s because it took too long to figure out how much to fine BP for the Macondo oil spill.

BP’s Macondo blowout had an estimated total flow rate of 50,000 to 70,000 BOE/d (oil and gas). That’s a much higher flow rate than if the well was properly completed and flowing into a pipeline at a rate that maximized total recovery. When LLOG successfully completed their well in the Macondo reservoir, they brought it on at about 13,500 BOE/d.

RCP8.5 is like an imaginary version of WCD.

May 22, 2019 11:24 am

Taylor is either a liar or a fool. In either case his views are not worth reporting. His position, if it can be called that, is logically and intellectually absurd. The Cato Institute is and has been for years something of a comedy sketch, even when they are not walking the plank like Taylor.

May 22, 2019 11:24 am

Mr. Tayler shouldt stop immediately to drive a car, to fly or even to cross a road, viewing the worstcase scenarios of these activities.
Death by medical errors not to forget 😀

May 22, 2019 11:27 am

I prefer to abide by Mark Twain’s sage observation –

I’ve had many problems in my lifetime, most of which never eventuated

May 22, 2019 11:29 am

I used to believe in trees. Their beauty. Their shade. Their contribution to the air.

But then I realized how many people could be killed by falling tree limbs, and I decided that the best course of action was to rid the planet of all trees.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
May 23, 2019 6:37 pm

Spoken like a true Dwarven warrior.


May 22, 2019 11:33 am

To be fair, witch hunts, and warlock trials, are trendy, even urbane, today.

J Mac
May 22, 2019 11:33 am

The worst case scenario is all plant life on Planet Earth is enriched by more atmospheric CO2. More robust plants produce higher yields to feed humans and all animals, with less fertilizer and irrigation required. If the planet is warmed 2F, more fertile soils become available for crop production and human habitation.

It’s too horrible to even consider, isn’t it? “Oh, the humanity…”

May 22, 2019 11:35 am

…growing cauliflower would fix it

Hokey Schtick
Reply to  Latitude
May 22, 2019 10:20 pm

I see what you did there! +1

Al Miller
May 22, 2019 11:44 am

Until the “Scientists” involved use open and reproducible science. Until the groups such as the IPCC use open modelling and adjustments that acknowledges other drivers of climate change. Until there is a real open debate about climate without the emotions. Until we get rid of the stated goal of imposing a socialist state as the result of climate fear. Until these things happen nothing should be spent on climate change. As clearly and succinctly pointed out above the precautionary principle is a fool’s errand.

May 22, 2019 11:50 am

By this logic we should impoverish everyone on earth in order to spend all our resources on a meteorite defense shield. And then do it again for every other imaginable doomsday scenario. This is the philosphy of the insane.

Reply to  damp
May 22, 2019 12:48 pm

Everyone should be forced into chemotherapy for life. Because cancer…

May 22, 2019 11:50 am
Hans Erren
May 22, 2019 11:50 am

Dear Jerry Taylor,

Why the fear for witches or monsters under your bed? Have a a read on the publications of Richard Tol about the lesser expected damages caused by rising temperatures, the publications of Nic Lewis about the lesser rising temperatures caused by rising emissions, and the publications by William Nordhaus about the lesser emissions under a business as usual economic scenario.

May 22, 2019 11:53 am

Same as argument of Nassim Taleb who blocked me and others on twitter for questioning it. If people who should know better are repeating alarmism, it is difficult to know how we can disaude kids of the errors of CAGW.

Gary Pearse
May 22, 2019 11:56 am

This fellow is no economist. He hasn’t heard of opportunity cost. If something bad has a modest chance of occurring, it does matter how much resources (money incl.) and longterm pain it could cost to prevent it. $100 triilion, mass starvation, deindustrialization, collapse of civilization under a command economy run by elitists…So what is the difference between the consequences of doing nothing or buying into the plan? Arrival of a disaster is no worse than the cure for 99% of the population.

Now, we could buy airconditioners for every household and shack on the planet for 2or 3 trillion and mitigate as we always have for any sea level rise. Even Chimp model 8.5 does NOT change the tropics temperatures. A 3C rise will mainly warm the Arctic and in the temperate zone, warm the winters and the night.

Plants love it so we will have bountyful food, even spreading agric up into the taiga. With forest areas expanding a percent a year and especially in arid areas. We will be able to fire up our converted coal burning electroplants as with Drax in UK and recycle our carbon back into forests if it becomes necessary!

What about the risk of it turning cooler – the Big One. We know this WILL happen in the future. Shouldnt we do what we can to prevent that (ie business as usual) What about the risk of plant starvation with CO2 declining over millions of years. Shouldnt we be banking CO2 in the atmosphere against this real terminal threat?

May 22, 2019 11:57 am

When the “downside risk” is actually a bonanza revenue scenario for the political class and their spending agenda, the public debate becomes a massive intelligence test of who the players are and their unrevealed motivations. And the random assaults on the public consciousness from these characters without fact checking further distorts the public debate.

Steve Z
May 22, 2019 12:01 pm

This reminds me of a post I saw today on the website, saying that a 6.5-foot (1.98 meter) rise in sea level predicted by unidentified “experts” would drown an area three times the size of California.

In recent decades, the rate of sea level rise has been less than 2 millimeters per year, and it is not accelerating. At that rate, the sea level would rise 1.98 meters by about the year A.D. 3000.

Instead of crippling our economies and sending millions of people back into poverty by banning fossil fuels (which may or may not prevent the sea level from rising), the human race has nearly 1,000 years to take Earthling2’s suggestion and build seawalls to protect vulnerable cities.

There have also been two periods of global cooling (AD 500 – 700, and AD 1350 – 1600) during the past 2,000 years, so it is likely there will be another global cooling period during the next 1,000 years, which would stop the sea level rise (by causing glaciers to grow and removing water from the sea).

We can’t, as Barack Obama promised, stop the seas from rising. But we can build sea walls to protect our cities if the sea does rise (very slowly).

dodgy geezer
May 22, 2019 12:10 pm

I have modelled what would happen if witches were plotting to ruin our politics, and there is a perfect match between my models and what is happening now.

There is no way that things like Brexit and the Trump Election could have happened without the Dark Lord being involved.

So that proves it. We must elect a WitchFinder General immediately…

Reply to  dodgy geezer
May 23, 2019 12:49 am

I wonder if AOC weighs the same as a duck….?

Reply to  NorwegianSceptic
May 23, 2019 6:44 pm

She turned me, into a NEWT!

…Well, I got better.


May 22, 2019 12:10 pm

CBC could not resist the alarmist Rhamstorf/Shellnhuber edited paper from PNAS and its 2 m sea level by 2100…

As usual with this journalist, there are always pearls in the text:

There are various contributors to rising seas, including thermal expansion (oceans will expand and become denser as they warm) and melting ice caps and glaciers.

Oceans to become denser as they warm???? New physics at work.

Chances of that happening are low, he said, but people need to plan just in case.

Mortillaro and consorts make sure this happens… LOL

Reply to  TomRude
May 22, 2019 5:46 pm

Also on CBC today, David Wallace Wells presented his justification for being an alarmist:

Reply to  Sommer
May 22, 2019 11:32 pm

Heard part of interview on CBC radio today. Immediately followed by interview with Kari Norgaard. What a pair !

Kari Marie Norgaard
Rewriting history: “treatment” of climate sceptics disappears from University of Oregon press statement

Global-warming skeptics are sick and must be treated, says prof

Not Chicken Little
May 22, 2019 12:11 pm

The human race does not just survive, but thrives even though the extremes each year may go from -60F to 120F, from no rain at all to floods, from famine to feast, and through many other natural and Man-made disasters like wars. We’ve done so for thousands of years now.

I cannot view a degree or two F change in average temperature over 100 years or more as a problem that cannot be easily dealt with, if it’s even a problem at all. It’s not in my view.

Bob Gyurik
May 22, 2019 12:27 pm

But he is ignoring the more likely risk of cyclic turn into a cooling period., something we are absolutely unprepared for! Cold kills (see winter mortality figures for the last two winters in Europe).

Moreover, since we have reduced our capacity to keep ourselves warm in winter (“Let me count the ways..”). these deaths cannot be guarded against or mitigated. Rolling brownouts/ blackouts in winter in Oslo would not be great, when the thermometer drops to -20°C for a few weeks.

“You’re killin’ me, Smalls!” AND, you are cynically complicit, IMO, Mr. Taylor!

May 22, 2019 12:27 pm

Since the claimed scenarios, especially the worst case, are all nonsensical and unphysical fairy tales, we should do with them exactly as we do with all other silly superstitions: chuck in the trash bin, where they belong.

May 22, 2019 12:32 pm

True WORST CASE has a basis in actual data.

Reply to  kenw
May 22, 2019 12:35 pm

What “actual data”? Cite some.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 22, 2019 3:35 pm

I believe kenw is implying that the worst case scenario being featured here has no basis in actual data.

John Robertson
May 22, 2019 12:45 pm

Climate Change?
If the gentleman concerned used the same logic,Waiting for the Asteroid would drive him insane.
the worst case, for humans ,is going to happen.
Sooner or later,meanwhile we huddle at the bottom of earths gravity well, obsessing about plantfood.

I do love his logic,suppose I applied that same logic to hysterical idiots?
A definite danger to my well being.
Unsafe to have running any organization.
Totally incompetent to handle other people money.
Emotional unstable and untrustworthy.

In fact too dangerous to share a technological civilization with.
Therefor we must round up and banish all such creatures.

Imagine how low your car insurance could be.
The reduction in industrial accidents and injuries alone would pay for this.
Banish all fools and Bandits.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  John Robertson
May 22, 2019 4:30 pm

I agree completely!
Hysterical idiots are absolutely intolerable.
And anyone saying we need to assume some particular worst case fairy tale needs to be the focus of our attention and economic prospects, is at the very least hysterical, and an idiot.

Craig B
May 22, 2019 1:02 pm

“When it comes to managing large-scale risks, straight-forward economics suggests that we ought to take climate change very seriously.”

His risk management/economics logic seems backwards. The higher the probability of an event the more should be spent in mitigation. The lower the probability, fewer finite dollars would be spent. I see a severe California San Andreas Fault earthquake as a much higher probability of catastrophe than climate change. So, according to Mr. Taylor’s thinking, if this were true, all Californians should be moved away from the coast immediately. Beyond this, I can’t possibly imagine that he thinks climate change is a higher probability event, given that it is supported only by computer models tuned to make CO2 the main climate driver. The chance the climate model projections are right has to be a much lower probability than the outright occurrence of the earthquake.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Craig B
May 22, 2019 4:48 pm

Those earthquakes are only a question of when. They are not probabilities, they are certainties.
Only the “when” part is in doubt.
It could be tomorrow. Most of the at-risk portions of the fault are seriously overdue, judging by reconstructions of past events and historical accounts. In fact the whole West Coast is in serious danger of a huge tsunami. Cities like Portland are at severe risk of a catastrophic lahar, which may be very sudden and virtually unescapable once it occurs.
People in these areas are well advised to move to somewhere else.

Higher CO2 is beneficial. There is zero evidence it is dangerous at all. Only speculation.
Warmer temps being deadly are not speculative, they are delusional.

Honestly, there is no comparison.
People are awful at assessing risk and planning accordingly, even when the truth and the facts are plain as day and widely known.

May 22, 2019 1:05 pm

This is what happens when you accept the “Precautionary Principle “- you end up being ruled by the people who tell the scariest stories. You lose the ability to think about whether the scary stories are, in any way, meaningful, or just stories. You lose your ability to reason, and end up huddled in a ball in a cave, consumed by fear.

Mickey Reno
May 22, 2019 1:23 pm

Well, Cato is well rid of this ass-clown. He’s saying we should pay 1 billion dollars to insure an asset worth 1 million dollars. You wouldn’t ever pay even a million dollars to insure an asset worth a million dollars. You’d figure out the LIKELIHOOD that you’d lose that asset in any given year, and pro-rate a premium amount that you could afford as the insurance company figures out how much risk they can take, while still making a return on their risk and investment. Insurance is always about giving up something. The question is, how much are you willing to give up. Jerry is willing to give up virtually all of Modernity/Western Civilization on the off-chance we might lose some of Modernity/Western Civilization to CO2 based heating, the risk of which is minuscule. This is a fool’s bargain if ever I’ve seen one, and Jerry Taylor is a colossal fool (albeit an apparently well-paid one).

John Bell
May 22, 2019 1:24 pm

Burning carbon is good – get it out of the ground and make it useful, to people, and in the end the C02 also helps people by growing plants better, all around win!

May 22, 2019 1:45 pm

Precautionary Principle

Think about that for a moment. What happens if we do the Green Agenda or something close to it? Global economic collapse? Starvation rampant? Massive blackouts with deaths from inability to heat or cool homes? Skeptics have claimed those and more disasters and have a much higher probability of that than the effects of a minor rise in temps. Not only that but we’ve seen signs of those in Europe with their blackouts and having to import energy. Look at the third world for what the condition of the people will be with a lack of energy. Given their Precautionary Principle why would you implement something so dangerous?

William Astley
May 22, 2019 1:47 pm

They have all sold their souls and have become brainless Zombies repeating the company line.

Science is a separate issue. Science is not a fight. There are no sides.

What is, is, if that is what the observations show.

Sure, everyone knows CAGW is serious.

CAGW is a human created monster that is tearing our governments and legal system apart.

Wasting money which we do not have is serious.

The green schemes do not work, except in making electricity very expensive. It is serious that Germany has proven that to be true and everyone is continuing to push dead end schemes.

Science that goes somewhere is exciting. i.e. Stuff that real changes what we believe is or what is or is not possible.

It is possible now to absolutely physically prove we did not cause the CO2 rise.

This is cool puzzle as it is old school science, almost no math, and the observations are astonishingly supportive of the assertion that the thing exists.

It so basic, fundamental to everything concerning the earth, it is more like the discovery of a thing about the earth, a fact that changes everything, as opposed to a theory.

A geological Forest Gump breakthrough.

Bruce Cobb
May 22, 2019 1:48 pm

“What Changed My Mind About Climate Change?”
What mind?

old construction worker
May 22, 2019 1:49 pm

‘You just have to understand that it is one possible outcome.’ ‘straight-forward economics suggests that we ought to take climate change very seriously. We should take Climate Change seriously. One possible outcome another ICE age. Another possible outcome, a very, very large rock hitting the earth. One more possible outcome, supper volcano erupting. I’m sure you could come with more possible outcome that would cause a swing in our climate not based on poor little CO2.

Wiliam Haas
May 22, 2019 2:20 pm

The reality is that, based on the paleoclimate record and the work done with models, the climate change we have been experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control. Despite the hype, there is no real evidence that CO2 has and effect on climate and there is plenty of scientific rationale to support the idea that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero. Even if we could somehow stop the Earth’s climate from changing, extreme weather events and sea level rise would continue unabated because they are part of the current climate. We do not know what the optimum global climate is let alone how to achieve it. Wasting time and money, not knowing what we are doing, is not such a good idea. We would be better off spending time and money solving problems that mankind does have the power to solve. Right now the best thing that we can be doing is trying to improve the economy.

Kevin R.
May 22, 2019 2:29 pm

The worst case scenario of following his advice is world-wide totalitarianism and a new dark age.

May 22, 2019 2:32 pm

why do the pushers of applying the precautionary principle to fossil fuel only do a cost/benefit analysis of 1 alternative – totally ignoring the effects of the other choice or choices – in the CO2 debate – we should not just consider the (imagined) possibility of greenhoused earth – but evaluate and compare the very real consequences of cutting off cutting off such a potent source energy as fossil fuel

James Clarke
May 22, 2019 2:51 pm

There are many problems with Jerry Taylor’s argument, and as usual, they begin with assumptions that aren’t true. He writes:

“Despite some technical ambiguity, scientists believe that the chance of a nasty surprise on the climate front is much larger than the chance of a pleasant surprise.”

Really!? The opposite appears to be true. To date, we have had no nasty surprises and a huge pleasant consequences. Plants are loving the increased CO2! The biosphere is healthier! Life is thriving! That is pretty damn BIG! The benefits of increasing atmospheric CO2 are incalculable. He continues…

“The second is that the risk of locking ourselves into a high-carbon, worse-than-expected climate world is larger than being locked into overly-expensive green energy. That is largely because once CO2 is in the atmosphere–where natural residence times are measured in centuries—it is very expensive to remove through technical means.”

This assumption is built on the first assumption that there is no upside to increasing CO2 and lots of potential downside…an assumption for which there is a lot of contradictory evidence and very little supporting evidence. Then the assumption is added that CO2 residence times are measured in Centuries, and that a technical means of removing CO2 would be required. This is stacking worst-case-scenarios on top of each other! Residence times of CO2 are highly debated, and technology tends to rise to the necessity. (it is the mother of invention, don’t ya know.) CO2 capture is largely not feasible because it is not necessary!

“Green energy boondoggles, on the other hand, can be reversed rather easily, and will at least deliver some health benefits from reduced air pollution, regardless of how climate change plays out.”

The fact that stupid practices can be easily reversed is a really stupid reason for practicing them! And the statement completely ignores the ill health that may result from green energy, especially where the materials are mined, the harm to animals by wind and solar, and the danger inherent in unreliable energy in the urban environments that run on them. It seems that Mr. Taylor likes to cherry-pick his costs and his benefits in this analysis.

“Lastly, societies have long demonstrated a willingness to pay in order to avoid prompting risks that are asymmetric, ambiguous, and irreversible. Global warming is all three.”

Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is asymmetrically negative only if you refuse to acknowledge the positives. If you do acknowledge the positives, it is still asymmetric, but in a positive way. Asymmetry is not something that societies seek to avoid, nor should they. Ambiguity? That’s inherent in the system. It always will be. There is no reward in fighting ambiguity. It is the illusion of control that is the underlying theme of Jurassic Park. The way to deal with ambiguity is by strengthening ones adaptability. All attempts to remove ambiguity from life have failed or led to undesirable outcomes. Get over it, Mr. Taylor. Planning the next 100 years is not really an option. No one is that smart. Not even close. Finally, irreversible? Only inanimate things are reversible. Life is not. If society limited what they do to only things that can be undone, we would be extinct already!

The ideal condition is thriving, with awareness and vigilance. If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it, but occasional tune-ups are a good idea. There is no evidence that more atmospheric CO2 has broken or is breaking anything. Stop trying to fix what ain’t broken with something that is demonstrably and immediately worse!

Reply to  James Clarke
May 22, 2019 4:40 pm

You forgot to mention the fact that the claim that CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for centuries has been completely refuted. Closer to a decade or so.

May 22, 2019 3:03 pm

Any fool can invent worst case scenarios, and most fools do.

May 22, 2019 3:10 pm

What seems to be missing from Jerry Taylor’s assessment of risk management is: opportunity lost costs. That is, when you spend your money on Plan A, doing something where the likelihood of a terrible outcome is quite low yet the consequences can be quite harsh, one doesn’t have that money (because it is already spent) for Plan B to address the more likely outcome. You loose the opportunity to address subsequent issues.

The entire argument is one of mitigation vs adaptation. He chooses mitigation. Not me.

Clyde Spencer
May 22, 2019 3:34 pm

Once again, an alarmist confuses possibility with probability!

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
May 22, 2019 3:49 pm

The “worst case scenario” has a probability. It’s the undesirable tail of a probability distribution.

In resource and reserve estimation, the worst case scenario is “P99“… There’s a 99% probability that a well will produce more oil & gas than the P99 scenario… 😉

Bruce Sanson
May 22, 2019 3:50 pm

“I changed my mind about risk management”. How about this risk- we know that axial inclination is going to favor a cooling at the poles into the future. Meridional winds will increase causing more deep water upwelling and lower cloud formation. The earth will start cooling into the next ice age. The associated buildup of ice\snow in the far north (increasing albedo) will make life in the northern regions Very difficult.
If I was the Canadian Prime Minister (WHICH OBVIOUSLY I’m not) I would be selling/burning as much fossel fuels as possible to (1) pay for a stockpile of thorium or any nuclear fuel available
(2) help plant based food production
(3) Maybe raise global temperatures a little?
These guys are morons if they think we can have a major affect on the natural cycles of the earth.
As I see it–bruce

May 22, 2019 3:53 pm

Earthling 2 put it very well. Reminds me of the very old TV show with Sgt. Friday ,
“Give me the facts Madnm””


Nicholas McGinley
May 22, 2019 4:12 pm

Personally, I am not buying for a second the assertion that this author is knowledgeable on the subject, nor the claim that he used to be a skeptic but is now a card carrying alarmist.
He sounds like just anther climate liar to me, just making stuff up and pretending it is true and telling everyone we gotta believe him.
I, for one, do not.
At all.

May 22, 2019 5:01 pm

When they went to the low fat diet one of the arguments was the precautionary principal. Surely this can do no harm. People went low fat and food stopped tasting as good. So they upped both sugar and highly refined Starch. This of course leads to obesity and diabetes.

In this case with their illogical insistence on wind and solar, that leads high prices which will lead to rebellion by the lower middle class. You can fool the middle class for awhile with the talk that intermittent power is cheaper. But as it is implemented and the prices of power go up they will stop believing the lies. The funny thing is these progressives believe their own lies about the cheapness of renewable power.

In isolation renewable power appears cheap, but when you factor in the cost of providing power when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine, the total cost goes up by at least a factor of 2.

Jon Salmi
May 22, 2019 7:12 pm

If Jerry wants to hedge his bets he should be preaching ‘Resilience’ not just putting his eggs all in the extremist ‘were all going to die’ heat scenario. He is not even making sense from his own point of view.

May 22, 2019 7:35 pm

If the shaky projected downside of climate change is too great to dismiss, what about the past-tense actual fact upside: 11% more planetary greenery and food for about 600 million people.

Robert of Texas
May 22, 2019 7:47 pm

This guy was in a Think Tank?

When performing Risk Analysis you have to consider more than just worst case – there is likelihood and cost as well. Resources are limited, so spending resources on one unlikely future event can divert precious time and resources from many likely future events.

In the case of AGW, one would also have to accept that prevention is impossible, and therefore any resources directed at avoiding the event is wasteful – assign this a probability. What’s the likelihood of the event? (each scenario would get a probability) What’s the likely cost? (and this would be huge)

Now compare against mitigation – simply adapt to events as they come, *if* they occur at all.

A reasoned analysis will lead to the conclusion that mitigation is a far more practical and less risky policy. Unless of course you already 100% for sure KNOW that it will occur (which all alarmists seem to know) and then the case becomes…oh, wait, mitigation is still the least costly, least risky choice.

This person (Jerry Taylor) does not understand either the climate change debate nor risk analysis. So…why was he in a Think Tank?

May 22, 2019 9:56 pm

If a cost benefit analysis is not possible your only alternative is to react and do random things out of fear. This is also called ‘the precautionary principle’.

May 23, 2019 12:04 am

The fallacy actually isn’t that you are seeking to eliminate the risk by taking action the fallacy is that the action you take is actually accepted as being futile. It therefore is not action to protect against the risk of something happening but merely a gesture which won’t reduce global temperatures. Its like spending millions on the local church and praying every day and thinking that will prevent your house from burning down. Whilst I personally believe in God and recognise the benefit that prayer plays in society I’m not going to rely on that power or my donations to my religion as protection against my house burning down.

The futility of doing something on climate change is made clearer when one realises how few countries are bothering to do anything. In Australia spending even 1 cent trying to change the climate is a waste of money.

May 23, 2019 1:31 am

The rationale offered by the former Cato Institute head is circular nonsense. Tis lack of good thinking is likely what led to his being ousted from the Cato Institute in the first place.

May 23, 2019 10:07 am

With the level of thinking of the subject in this article, we should ban all travel because of the worst case scenario of being killed in a crash. We should embark on a crusade to eliminate all asteroids in the solar system because of the remote possibility that one might hit the earth and wipe out all life. We should prohibit children from going outside alone because of the remote possibility that they might be abducted. We should all stop having children because the world economy might collapse and we’ll all starve. THE SKY IS FALLING!! PANIC!

May 23, 2019 12:43 pm

President Donald Trump’s unexpected election and the surge of populist nationalism across Europe revealed flagging faith in liberal-democratic government and grave vulnerabilities in political systems. The Niskanen Center responded swiftly to the alarm, launching the Open Society Project in November 2016 to analyze the deteriorating political situation and mount an intellectual and political defense of the open society. Since then, Niskanen has produced a stream of research and analysis illuminating the principles, values, norms, and institutions of liberal democracy, supplying a rigorous intellectual basis for their protection.

If you peruse Niskanen’s website, it becomes abundantly clear that Mr Taylor will say anything for a paycheck. Zero principles.

May 23, 2019 12:54 pm

The problem with Jerry’s argument is you could build a similar case for taking action against witches.

Yes. Its the same problem as with the related argument in more sophisticated form, Pascal’s Wager. Consider:

Believing in Catholicism costs very little. If right, it secures us against eternal damnation. Disbelief on the other hand, if wrong, has an almost infinite cost, eternal damnation.

Therefore, no matter how low the probability that Catholicism is true, it is rational to believe. Even at low probabilities of truth, the expected value is positive. Hugely so.

And what, asks the intelligent skeptic, about Islam? Doesn’t the argument show I should believe in that too? But I cannot believe in both since they are incompatible…

At which point the furious opponent resorts to violence.

The same argument is often used about global warming.

If catastrophic warming happens, civilization becomes over. This is a huge cost. Therefore no matter how low the chance is, the expected value is so high that we should behave as if it were true and take action to avert the possibility.

To which the intelligent skeptic replies, and what about global cooling? The exact same argument applies, but it would prescribe the opposite course of action.

At which point the forum moderator bans the intelligent skeptic and deletes his/her posts.

These arguments are strictly for the logically challenged. Which, since the Parisian nonsense factory infected higher education in America, is most people.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  michel
May 25, 2019 3:45 pm
May 25, 2019 6:57 am

How about the risk of a large asteroid hit? Science says it will happen in the future.
Much more sudden and devastating than than any CO2 bomb.
We should spend a few trillion dollars on that Extinction risk.

Johann Wundersamer
May 25, 2019 2:00 pm

16-year-old activists can not know about modern wine growing on the Yangtze River.

Nature can hardly be bent. better make use of.

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