A demo showing our broken climate policy debate

Reposted from the Fabius Maximus website

By Larry Kummer, Editor / 8 February 2020

Summary: Progress in the climate policy debate comes too slowly. The use and misuse of RCP8.5 shows why. At this pace, the climate will give final answers before we get a consensus. We can’t afford this.

In 2015 I gave one of the early critiques of the RCP8.5 scenario. Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No! And then Manufacturing climate nightmares: misusing science to create horrific predictions (it was the first Dr. Curry saw about the issue). I – and the many who followed – said two easily proven things.

  • The RCP8.5 scenario was a good worst-case scenario, showing what might happen if many things go wrong. It is either unlikely or impossible.
  • The RCP8.5 has been described as the “business as usual” (BAU) scenario and so become the central scenario for both researchers and policy-makers. It is not BAU (see below for details), and should not be the main case for either group.

In most other fields, there would have been debate and then RCP8.5 would have been used only in an appropriate way – as a worst-case scenario. But this is climate science, and five years later the debate continues to chase its tail. But this might be changing.

For an introduction to the RCPs, see “Understanding The Great Climate Science Scenario Debate” by Roger Pielke Jr. (Professor, U CO-Boulder) at Forbes. That these kinds of articles appear the major journals show that climate scientists might be seeing the obvious: “Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading” by Zeke Hausfather and Glen P. Peters in Nature – “Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome; more-realistic baselines make for better policy.” I recommend reading it in full, especially their conclusions.

“A sizeable portion of the literature on climate impacts refers to RCP8.5 as business as usual, implying that it is probable in the absence of stringent climate mitigation. The media then often amplifies this message, sometimes without communicating the nuances. This results in further confusion regarding probable emissions outcomes, because many climate researchers are not familiar with the details of these scenarios in the energy-modelling literature. …

“Happily – and that’s a word we climatologists rarely get to use – the world imagined in RCP8.5 is one that, in our view, becomes increasingly implausible with every passing year. …

“We must all – from physical scientists and climate-impact modellers to communicators and policymakers – stop presenting the worst-case scenario as the most likely one. Overstating the likelihood of extreme climate impacts can make mitigation seem harder than it actually is. This could lead to defeatism, because the problem is perceived as being out of control and unsolvable. Pressingly, it might result in poor planning, whereas a more realistic range of baseline scenarios will strengthen the assessment of climate risk.”

The fun for activists is over when even the BBC runs the headline “Climate change: Worst emissions scenario ‘exceedingly unlikely’.” It took a decade to make this simple point.

The skeptics contribute to the confusion

Many skeptics – both scientists and laypeople – say that RCP8.5 is “bad science” or “impossible.” Both are absurd. The first is easy to dismiss. The RCP’s are well-constructed and part of a decade-long research program. These papers clearly describe some of the many paths by we might get to RCP8.5. They often describe it as a “business as usual” scenario – which it is not.

The second objection is more complex. If it is impossible, then RCP8.5 is not a useful worst-case scenario for researchers and policy-making. It is not impossible. There are many ways to get to a given concentration pathway. We might get to RCP8.5 via inflection points in some long-standing trends (e.g., energy efficiency, population). We might get there by a poorly understood event (i.e., a massive release of methane from melting permafrost) whose probability cannot be estimated at present. We might thereby large emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels. We might get there because the strength of carbon cycle feedbacks or a dozen other climate dynamics are worse than currently estimated.

Each of those, in turn, can occur for several reasons. Technological progress could slow. Population growth might be faster than predicted, perhaps because fertility in Africa slowed less than expected. Petroleum might be less than estimated; coal deposits might be less than estimated (they probably are). Either of these would force tapping lower-quality deposits – which would release more CO2.

The worst-case scenario reminds us that bad things happen. Sometimes our luck goes bad and many bad things happen. These rare events make history. Let’s not become history like that.

Many things went wrong to make the Titanic famous

At 11:40 pm on 14 April 1912 the RMS Titanic was on its last voyage. The captain disregarded warnings of icebergs, and ordered steaming at high speed (22 knots) under a dark sky (no moon, no Venus) with no wind (so no waves breaking on the ice).

The lookouts peer ahead, but without binoculars. Second officer David Blair had the key to the locker holding the binoculars. He was transferred off the ship before it left on its maiden voyage from Southampton and accidentally took the key with him.

The lookouts sounded three bells for an object dead ahead. First Officer William Murdoch ordered the rudder “hard astarboard” and the engines “full astern” – intending to steer around the iceberg. That was not the “book” response, and it did not work well. Reversing the engines reduced the flow over the rudder and its effectiveness. Even so, the Titanic almost made it. The hull gently brushed against the ice.  Water entered through 230′ rips where plates buckled and seams opened.

The Californian was close and could have rescued its passengers. Through incredible negligence, it did not do so (its captain was broken for negligence).

The rest is history. All of these things were necessary for the disaster. What were the odds of all these things happening on one voyage?


Well-designed worst-case scenarios are unlikely or impossible. And sometimes they happen. We need to prepare for those. But it is imprudent to bankrupt ourselves to prevent them – or become obsessed with one risk ignore other high-priority needs.

How should we use all these scenarios? There is a large body of knowledge and experience in the field of risk management. Of course they have little role in climate science and climate policy. This is a madness that we can fix by forcing climate science institutions to behave better. That means more science, less politics – as I propose here and here.

Second, we need to understand that we face many serious risks. Allowing activists to focus us on one that find politically useful could be disasterous. We need to allocate our limited funds with a rational awareness of the full spectrum of risks – as I propose here.

Simple and sensible steps can help us steer to a safe and prosperous future. Getting there requires our involvement to make it happen.

For More Information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see The keys to understanding climate change, all posts about coal, about the RCPs, and especially these …

  1. Climate scientists can restart the climate policy debate & win: test the models!
  2. We can end the climate policy wars: demand a test of the models.
  3. Focusing on worst-case climate futures doesn’t work. It shouldn’t work.
  4. Roger Pielke Jr.: the politics of unlikely climate scenarios.
  5. Is climate change an existential threat to humanity?
  6. After 30 years of failed climate politics, let’s try science! – A proposal to break the policy gridlock.
  7. The biggest question: how much will the world warm?
  8. An obvious solution to the climate policy crisis.
Activists don’t want you to read these

Some unexpected good news about polar bears: The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened by Susan Crockford (2019).

To learn more about the state of climate change see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters & Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr., professor for the Center for Science and Policy Research at U of CO – Boulder (2018).

The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change

Available at Amazon.

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Dodgy Geezer
February 10, 2020 2:14 am

Surely the first thing to do would be to improve our understanding of Climate Sensitivity?

At the moment we do not know whether the climate is so finely balanced that a slight nudge will send it over a tipping point, or whether it is highly robust and quite capable of absorbing many times the small nudges we are applying.

Historical data seems to indicate that the latter is the case. But, since activists don’t want to accept this, they prefer to leave the question open and use the theoretical possibility of catastrophe to further their causes. Rather than keep playing their game we should do the research which will probably disprove their hypothesis…

Bill Powers
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
February 10, 2020 4:08 am

Until all the scientists can explain the cause of climate change sans man and sans fossil fuel burning man, Scientists definitely need to stay out of politics and policy making.

The worlds “Tipping Point” was reached when they invented teleprompters for scripted politicians and bad actors. Looking at you ALBORE.

Ron Long
Reply to  Bill Powers
February 10, 2020 4:54 am

Bill Powers, this is exactly what geologists say, that unless you can explain (restricting ourselves to the last intra and inter glacial cycle) 40 meters higher and 150 meters lower sea level, you cannot explain a one meter movement of sea level, not by any human-related events. No signal detectable against the noisy background of natural variation.

Reply to  Bill Powers
February 10, 2020 3:20 pm

Bill Powers,
You are right and Dr.Roy Spencer makes the point this way-
“Many scientists claim the diagnosis of the cause of global warming is obvious and can be found in basic physical principles. If basic physical principles can explain all the global- average warming as the climate consensus claims, then how do we account for the following?
All of the accumulated warming of the climate system since the 1950s, including the deep oceans was caused by a global energy imbalance of one part in 600; yet modern science does not know with a precision approaching one part in 100, ANY of the natural energy flows in and out of the climate system.It is simply assumed that the tiny energy imbalance – and thus warming – was caused by humans.”

February 10, 2020 2:17 am

At this pace, the climate will give final answers before we get a consensus.

I’ll write that one down !

I’ve been watching this charade since shortly before AR4 SPM came out to much fanfare. It’s true we can learn more from the 13years of extra data than we can from the “progress” in the actual “science” produced in the same period.

We still have Arctic sea ice minimum at the same level as in 2007 when Al Gore started pretending it was about to disappear entire in summer months.

Rich Davis
February 10, 2020 3:42 am

What a hopeful thought, really, that consensus will only come when the predictions fail to materialize. Maybe the climate failing to comply with the socialists’ predictions will eventually lead to a consensus that those who clamor for policy “progress” and wring their hands fretting that we can’t afford delay, were at best deluded and at worst criminally implicated in schemes to defraud.

I hope for a much more entrenched gridlock with zero “progress” toward green socialism, (better a rolling back), and no further concessions to the environment-despoiling wind and solar crony capitalists. Build some nuclear power plants and then get back to us.

And I know, I know Lar’ it’s nice that I have a little opinion…

Oh wait, I forgot one. This is the biggest misreading you have ever seen, I should go back and read it real slow like, and it’s ok if I need to have my lips move while I’m reading, but try not to drool so much.

Bill T
February 10, 2020 3:56 am

When you have 2XCO2 forcing going from below .1C to over 5C, every scenario is suspect. All we actually know is it has been warming, CO2 is up, and we have a gazillion hypothesis explaining why, most of which are contradictory or correlation is not causation.

To beat this is to go along with the hype and push true and not political environmentalism. The tree planting bill in the works is a good starting place. Push the keeping and planting of trees and oppose the destruction of forests. There goes wind and a lot of solar. Then push “safe”gen 4 nuclear showing the backing of those in the CC movement. We need nuclear to “save the trees” which soak up CO2. Just look at places like Finland, with lots of trees which is building Nuclear plants to supply their electricity and using both to show how they are going “carbon neutral”.

Only then can you argue the benefits of 24/7 power, compared to both wind and solar, along with the small footprint of nuclear.

The trees will save us. We have to go with the best plan to save the trees.

February 10, 2020 4:02 am

The world (of clinical of clinical psychologists) has gone mad
Prof Mike Wang, the chair of the Association of Clinical Psychologists UK, said: “Inaction and complacency are the privileges of yesterday … Psychologists are ready and willing to help countries protect the health and wellbeing of their citizens given the inevitable social and psychological consequences of climate change.”
Plain and simple ‘we need lota more money’.
This rallying of the psychological profession around the climate crisis has led to experts around the world forming groups to research and treat the growing number of people caught up in the unfolding crisis, attempting to help them move from fear and paralysis towards action.
Plain and simple they need lota more money.
“This is such a universal thing that [we] have all been through our own set of climate-related grief and despair, and we talk about riding the wave between hope and despair … it is absolutely as real for us as it is for anyone else.”
Plain and simple ‘we need lota more money’.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Vuk
February 10, 2020 9:16 am

“This is such a universal thing that [we] have all been through our own set of climate-related grief and despair, and we talk about riding the wave between hope and despair … it is absolutely as real for us as it is for anyone else.”

It sounds like Prof Wang is doing a little projecting.

Carl Friis-Hansen
February 10, 2020 4:39 am

The policy debate is broken due to feelings playing the dominant role in debates all over the spectrum of politics, science and organizations.
Last November a Mr. Grau from Germany started a movement called “Fridays For Hubraum”, which gained over 500,000 follovers in a few weeks. Hubraum means cylinder volume. In a TV discussion a few days ago, Mr. Grau explained the irrational way the Greens were going about the automobile industry and said that if the government wanted to divert from fossil fuel for cars, then EVs were the wrong answer and would make thing much worse. His suggestion was to go for hydrogen as fuel. As he said, hydrogen can be produced in many ways, transported and quickly pumped at service stations, and it would help those who see CO₂ as an issue. BTW, Mr. Grau is an auto tuner. Anyway, there were 5 people in the discussion, and only Grau got positive remarks on YouTube from the average German.
The morale of the story is that it is irresponsible of out politicians not to conduct rational discussions, avoid election language and acquire seriously objective cost benefit studies. I is not the governments job to dictate fashion, morale or thought control, but solely to optimize law and order, provide for economic growth opportunity, ensure good education environment and optimal health of the population.

Steve Case
February 10, 2020 5:02 am

The lookouts peer ahead, but without binoculars. Second officer David Blair had the key to the locker holding the binoculars. He was transferred off the ship before it left on its maiden voyage from Southampton and accidentally took the key with him.

And the captain didn’t order the locker broken into.

How many people had to not take action in the two space shuttle disasters?

My working experience was in quality control area, and the favorite saying about big screw-ups says it’s usually a group effort.

Reply to  Steve Case
February 10, 2020 6:19 am

I’m not sure the story of the Titanic is germane.

(Captain) Smith failed the passengers and crew of Titanic. He failed to heed ice warnings, did not slow his ship when ice was reported directly in his path … link

The disaster is arguably a story of dereliction of duty rather than one about how multiple circumstances can pile up. If my high beams fail and I don’t slow down and have an accident, the judge will say that I was overdriving my headlights. If the binoculars were unavailable, the Titanic should have slowed down, especially in light of the fact that ice had been reported in its path. The captain was overdriving his headlights.

Reply to  commieBob
February 10, 2020 1:28 pm

At the time of the Titanic, many ships had already been sunk by hitting icebergs.
On the other hand, CO2 levels have been much higher than they are today (as much as 10 to 20 times higher) without anything bad EVER happening.
Additionally, most of the last 10,000 years has been as much as 3C to 5C warmer, without anything bad happening.

The idea that we have to do something about rising CO2 levels, is already disproven.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  commieBob
February 11, 2020 6:38 pm

Actually, the White Star Line practice was to cruise at nearly top speed regardless of ice warnings, on the assumption that traversing the ice field as quickly as possible reduced risk. It was thought that such warnings were more a heads-up to watch for ice, and avoid it if possible. Even then, it was thought that a ship the size of Titanic would not be sunk by a head-on collision with an iceberg. The smaller (thought quite large) SS Kronprinz Wilhelm had had just such a collision in 1907, and despite a spectacularly crushed bow, managed to make it to port.

It would appear that the attempt to port around the iceberg was futile due to the transport lag in the rudder response to the helm. The rudder took 30 seconds to respond to helm inputs, and post-sinking recreations and simulations (with Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic) determined that the time between Mr. Murdoch’s receipt of the “iceberg right ahead” and the collision were insufficient for the ship to have done anything but hit as it was going to without a steering command.

For a time, it was argued that no attempt should have been made to steer to avoid because a head-on collision would have been better. And it might have been. But the steer to avoid probably had no effect on the outcome because of the control system transport lag.

tim maguire
February 10, 2020 5:24 am

Many skeptics – both scientists and laypeople – say that RCP8.5 is “bad science” or “impossible.” Both are absurd. The first is easy to dismiss. The RCP’s are well-constructed and part of a decade-long research program.

Begging the question. Even when they try to do better, they can’t do better.

Michael in Dublin
February 10, 2020 5:28 am

Perhaps I have misunderstood Professor Pielke’s article but does the problem lie NOT with the “mischaracterization and misuse” of the RPC8.5 BUT rather with certain FLAWED PRESUPPOSITIONS that underlie the reasoning of those who constructed the RCP?

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
February 10, 2020 5:37 am

RCP8.5 not RPC8.5 (i.e. Representative Concentration Pathway)

February 10, 2020 5:38 am

As much as I am pleased to see Zeke Hausfather taking part in a discussion on the trouble with calling a modeled projection “Business as Usual” in an international scientific report, I am still dismayed that the models themselves are not the topic of discussion.

There are two simple reasons espoused by two highly intelligent scientists that provide what should be more than enough evidence to question the scientific validity of climate models or at the very least their usefulness in guiding environmental policy on a global scale.

First, Patrick Frank Ph.D, Professor and scientist at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, has laid out clear irrefutable mathematical analysis showing how error propagation invalidates all the climate models used by IPCC contributors, and as a secondary effect he shows how poorly educated even the most preeminent climate scientists are in the most basic understanding of error propagation because one hears the same false arguments against Dr. Frank’s paper over and over and over from climate scientists.


Second, although not alone in his analysis there is a second reason to disregard climate models, and that is eloquently discussed in great detail by Dr. Mototaka Nakamura, the MIT trained, ex-NASA employee, and Prof of Climatology:

Unfortunately one needs to acquire a Kindle app or device to access the book. In the book he explains in great detail how complex the climate is and how all current climate models fail to consider large aspects of the climate because it is simply impossible to include such elements as oceanic flows, albedo, water vapor content, even changes in solar irradiation with sufficient detail to be meaningful. It defies common sense that the climate debate has reached the “consensus” in the public mind that it has achieved when climate models so clearly are inadequate for the task of projecting the global future down to a tenth of a degree celsius. It is the single biggest scientific tragedy of the century that such is the belief of literally thousands of well meaning scientists and citizens.

Yes, the Earth is warming. Yes, CO2 is playing a role. No, we can not hope to predict with any accuracy what “may be” in the coming decades as a result. Perhaps someday, but not today.

Reply to  JP66
February 10, 2020 5:40 am

I meant to include a link to Dr.Frank’s paper: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feart.2019.00223/full

Reply to  JP66
February 11, 2020 3:44 am

Thanks for this, JP66. More evidence I can present to alarmists.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  JP66
February 12, 2020 7:08 am

Good stuff, except “Yes, CO2 is playing a role.”

No empirical evidence supports that, just a lot of hypothetical BS. Stop allowing for “facts not in evidence.”

February 10, 2020 5:42 am

Half of the Titanic sinking resulted from the arrogance of claiming it to be unsinkable and trying to set a record crossing time when icebergs where still present. The idea of wrecking the energy supply system betrays an arrogance so far beyond that and would drown many more. Fortunately the energy system is a much larger ship and will take much longer to sink.

Reply to  Gary
February 10, 2020 7:48 am

Nobody in the company ever called the Titanic unsinkable. That was a newspaper headline.

Reply to  MarkW
February 10, 2020 4:11 pm


February 10, 2020 5:49 am

Judith Curry refers to RCP8.5 as ‘borderline implausible’. link

It is very easy to dream up semi-plausible disaster scenarios of all sorts. Some folks refer to them as imaginary hobgoblins. Trying to deal with them all is obviously self defeating. Taleb refers to antifragility. That’s probably the best policy.

Anyway, treating CAGW as a purely scientific matter misses the point. Some folks need a crisis they can take advantage of. It is the nature of such things that they will always be able to find experts to bolster their case. CAGW will not die even if we produce iron clad evidence that it is flat out wrong.

Reply to  commieBob
February 10, 2020 7:50 am

Nobody has proven that leprechaun’s don’t exist.
Therefore any scenario that takes into count the possibility of interference on the part of leprechaun’s shouldn’t be ignored.

Reply to  MarkW
February 10, 2020 2:04 pm

There is actually a standard here.

Russell’s teapot is an analogy, formulated by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), to illustrate that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making unfalsifiable claims, rather than shifting the burden of disproof to others. link

Of course the greenies would never agree to that because logic is just a tool of the patriarchy.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  MarkW
February 12, 2020 7:10 am

LMAO – good parallel to the “argument” of the OP.

Reply to  commieBob
February 11, 2020 1:45 am

“Some folks need a crisis they can take advantage of.”

Yep. They demand emotion-based responses to hypotheticals, treating the hypotheticals as proven facts. It’s dangerous when these kinds of people take power, because they demand all of us to buy into their delusions.

Carl Friis-Hansen
February 10, 2020 6:06 am

“Judith Curry refers to RCP8.5 as ‘borderline implausible’”

made me think: Is UN money collection not better used to improve defense against giant asteroid impact?
Again a question about realistic probabilities in conjunction with cost-benefit.

February 10, 2020 7:16 am

Well if you take away RCP 8.5 academia will have no high impact papers to write about climate! I subscribe to Nature and was quite surprised that the Hausfather – Peters paper got published. The Nature editors are definitely in the alarmist camp. If Nature buys into that then all climate papers based on RCP 8.5 should be rejected.

February 10, 2020 7:43 am

I suspect that one reason why so many push 8.5 as Business As Usual is so that when CO2 levels don’t rise as fast as 8.5, they can then run to the front of the parade and brag about how their efforts are making a big difference.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  MarkW
February 10, 2020 9:42 am

The RCP8.5 scenario exists primarily to corrupt other environmental disciplines to ride the climate change gravy train.
Impacts of RCP 6.0 frequently don’t produce statistically meaningful results across a range of environmental science disciplines… so no paper to publish. In this publish or perish environment, RCP8.5 driven scenarios flourish. The problems with its use are trumped by the need to publish. This has the intended, insidious corrupting effect across much of science.

It is for this corrupting purpose, the IPCC will always have their mislabeled high-impact but near impossible scenario for others to misuse.

Reply to  MarkW
February 10, 2020 11:22 am

I believe the “theys” have been planning that for a long time as well.

February 10, 2020 7:48 am

There may be many ways to get the concentration pathway of RCP8.5, however; the climate effect presumed by that pathway is based on an impossibly large ECS whose only selection criteria was that it be large enough to cause concern and justify the formation of the IPCC.

The objection to RCP8.5 is not that the concentration pathway isn’t possible, but that the claimed climate effects are impossible. This is an important distinction that the IPCC agressively hides with many levels of indirection, obfuscation, misdirection and outright lies framing the connection between RCP pathways and presumed consequences.

Peter Morris
February 10, 2020 7:55 am

I don’t see that any action is necessary. The climate changes. We have pollution controls for actual pollution. CO2 is plant door and the extra we’ve pumped into the atmosphere has greened the planet.

From my perspective, the only debate is how to get the crazies to take their meds and stop trying to upend society just do they can feel better about themselves.

Crispin in Waterloo
February 10, 2020 8:10 am

“We might get there by a poorly understood event (i.e., a massive release of methane from melting permafrost) whose probability cannot be estimated at present.”

My objection to giving this catastrophe idea plausibility is that it is simply not how the natural world works. There are multiple objections actually.

The first is that the release of methane from rotting vegetation in the tundra is perfectly natural and has been happening for thousands of years as the frost line continues to move north. I live in Waterloo Ontario and this used to be a permafrost region. When it melted, as did millions of sq km of Canada, the Earth did not move into a “tipped” condition of runaway warming. More has melted than remains.

Second, what replaces the permafrost? Huge, unending expanses of forest, the biomass content of which far exceeds the carbon content of the permafrost that melted before it rapidly invaded. As permafrost melts, there will be a net draw-down of CO2. As soon as they possibly can, trees invade the space made available, at most taking a few years to get a foothold on the disturbed or collapsed or fallen earth. In most cases, the trees are already there growing very slowly – a 200 year old pine tree can be 18″ high. It only grows for a few days a year.

Third, methane is a GHG but is in very short supply because it quickly changes into CO2. The alarming claims that methane is super-efficient as a GHG in terms of warming is a) relative to CO2 which is overstated, and b) not is present long enough to make much difference at all and c) there are clouds of methane hanging over all large tropical forests so it cannot be having the magnificent effect attributed to it.

Fourth, there is nothing that indicates the permafrost area is changing at a rate that is unusual or unprecedented. The Earth has been through this many times before and no “tipping points” were reached. A great deal of Northern Canada is bog land that will turn into swampy forest and peat like Northern Ontario is now. There is simply nothing interesting going on A few softening cliffs at the ocean edge is not an alarming phenomenon even if the locals cannot remember that last time this happened. After all, where did all that rotting biomass come from that is presently encased in ice, huh? It grew there! How could it do that unless it was a lot warmer than it is now?

Fifth – that permafrost especially the southern 200 miles of it, was melted only a few short centuries ago, and large trees grew on it. The “alarm” that is being raised about permafrost is like someone discovering that under the ice north of Greenland there is *Gasp* salt water! Be still my beating heart…

Enough of the pointless alarm.

February 10, 2020 8:35 am

Stop funding climate science. After all we are told the science is settled.

Without funding for climate science, I guarantee that within a year or two at most academia will forget all about climate change. There will be some new urgent problem needing funding.

Overnight the headlines will change. “Forget about climate change, problem solved. Giant mutant space goat threatens earth”.

February 10, 2020 8:40 am

I’m sticking with RCP8.5 is utter nonsense.

Reality check: based on current trends, CO2 concentration appears to be on the RCP6.0 trend (700+ ppm by 2100) but temperature (+1.3° C by 2100) and sea level rise (+310mm by 2100) are in the RCP2.6 range. So also bad science since the RCP scenarios predict more warming and sea level rise than is observed. In fact, it’s not science at all since observations have demonstrated the inaccuracy of the climate models but the modelers stick with the same invalidated assumptions.

February 10, 2020 9:54 am

Apparently, there has been great progress (i.e. monotonic change)… for Group C, and Group B has gone along to get along, profited from prophecy, or sat on a wall, and contributed to the confusion.

February 10, 2020 10:05 am

Captain Smith did not order abandon the Titanic until he was shown proof it was sinking, for sure.

The people promoting man made climate change would put passengers in the water, before to avoid hitting the iceberg, and sail away claiming they saved the ship. Speaking figuratively.

John Endicott
February 10, 2020 10:52 am

At this pace, the climate will give final answers before we get a consensus. We can’t afford this.

No, what we can’t afford it the ridiculous policies that require upending our entire economic system and way of life in order to fight an imaginary problem. Prove the problem exists first, then try to get a consensus about what to do about. You keep wanting to skip that important first step of “proving the problem exists” and every time you do, you reveal your true alarmist colors, Larry.

Reply to  John Endicott
February 10, 2020 1:21 pm

Larry definitely falls into the “act now, think later” category.

Reply to  MarkW
February 10, 2020 4:18 pm

I think he tries to straddle the fence, and all that does is give you sore b***s.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
February 10, 2020 5:17 pm

He’s so desperate to straddle the fence that more than once, he’s been caught building a fence to straddle.
Every time he criticizes liberals, he desperately throws in a “conservatives do it to” line. Even if the example he gives for conservative malfeasance is rarely more than a myth that liberals tell each other.

Steve Z
February 10, 2020 12:18 pm

I’m not sure what was the purpose of bringing the story of the well-known Titanic disaster into this article. There were lots of human errors and a lot of hubris that led to the sinking of the Titanic, but it had little effect on the climate. If anything, a modern-day over-emphasis on global warming could lead to another Titanic-like disaster, if some global-warmers somehow get the idea that there is no more ice in the Arctic and send cruise ships up there.

The observed recent climate change is NOT akin to the iceberg that sank the Titanic, with the danger being ignored by the captain. The various scenarios proposed by the IPCC are directly related to forecasts of future CO2 emissions, but the predicted climate change is based on MODELS, which have over-estimated the actual temperature change over the past 40 years by a factor of 2 to 3.

If the models have over-estimated past warming, they will likely over-estimate future warming, so that the reasonable scientific response would be to take any warming predicted by a model and discount it by a factor of (past actual warming) / (past predicted warming) for the given model. This would make future predictions less scary, so that the scaremongers try to hide the errors in the models instead of telling the truth.

The problem for the scaremongers comes when some prediction of “sea level rise of X in Y years” or “the world will be uninhabitable in Y years” fails to materialize, and ordinary people who may have been frightened realize that that the scaremongers have been “crying wolf” for decades, without the sheep being in danger.

There is no doubt that the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is rising, and if the IPCC predicts it may reach 700 ppm, or Dr. Spencer predicts it will reach an equilibrium at about 500 ppm, it may not really matter. The fundamental error of the whole climate change argument is that rising CO2 will cause catastrophic warming, while the experience of the last 40 years is that the climate has warmed much less than what was expected, there has been no real trend in frequency of strong storms, floods, or droughts, and crop yields and forested areas on earth have been increasing.

What is needed is to break the public perception that “increasing CO2 could lead to catastrophic warming”, and instill the perception that increasing CO2 could be benign or even beneficial.

John Robertson
February 10, 2020 12:28 pm

” Progress in the climate policy debate comes too slowly. The use and misuse of RCP8.5 shows why. At this pace, the climate will give final answers before we get a consensus. We can’t afford this.”
The only real answers will come from reality.
Hence us getting a consensus will change nothing.
Predicting the future through Computer modelling is as reliable as scrying the guts of small mammals.
What part of G.I.G.O escapes your attention?
So far the “projection” record of the UN IPCC is a perfect zero.
So why would getting the “final answers” before we have a consensus be a bad thing?
What are you afraid of?
That a naked grab for power,through promoting fear of the weather,will fail?

The good news is it already has.
Mass hysteria is a short term tool,time has run out for the Cult of calamitous Climate.
So sad,too bad.
Nobody is willing to spend their own money to “save the world from CO2 emissions”.
I just cannot imagine why.
The lack of credible evidence of course plays no part in the collapse of consensus,And that old bugbear the “scientific method” is so yesterday..
And of course not one of the “Concerned Ones” willing to live the life they are pushing on us.

When all the “cures” are the same regardless of the symptoms?
The proper response can only be;
“Learn Yoga and go down on yourself”.
A tax on all do-gooders will become a necessary societal tool.
200% of their gross will be a good start.

February 10, 2020 4:14 pm

“Happily – and that’s a word we climatologists rarely get to use”

That’s because you’ve let it go on and on and on without evidence of any harm by CO2. It’s YOUR fault that you can’t use the word very often, not because of what’s actually happening naturally.

Steven Mosher
February 10, 2020 4:38 pm

Nice work Larry

John Endicott
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 11, 2020 5:20 am

You know it’s an alarmist screed when drive-by Mosh praises it.

Ronald Bruce
February 10, 2020 9:59 pm

The Warmests claims have never been about the climate or sea level rise or any of their other predictions. It has always been about. One World communist government and the redistribution of wealth around the world. If you want the Western world to become another Venezuela continue on the current path, or you could just move to Venezuela.

Anders Valland
February 11, 2020 12:12 am

With regard to the Titanic, as far as I know there was a fire in one of the coal stores onboard the ship prior to departure. The easiest way of dealing with such a fire was to spend the coal as fast as possible, and this was apparently the cause of the ship keeping high speed on its journey. With regard to the binoculars for the look-out, the sentiment at the time was that the lookout was there to keep an eye on the “big picture” of things and it was not his task to spot and identify sightings. He was only there for the call-out, and the officer on watch would do the identification. Quite a few captains were of the opinion that it was of no use to a look-out, and some even said it was outright dangerous since it would draw the look-outs attention. At least five pairs of binoculars were available and not locked away at the time the iceberg was spotted.

In any case, the sinking of the Titanic was a result of a chain of events. If the analogy is useful here it is that of the universal accident – a chain of events that by themselves are unlikely, and together are near to impossible – but it happens anyway (Douglas Adams makes a fun point about it with his Infinite Improbability Drive).

That said, I find this piece to be in the constructive tone it should be. I believe it is important to show that the use of RCP8.5, and the similar scenarios and other mechanisms used by the IPCC in previous AR’s , has been criticized by skeptics all along. That Hausfather and Peters wrote that piece is all good, but it does not let them off the hook for not writing it earlier. They have known this for a very long time, but they are amongst those who sit quietly and don’t rock the boat. I know it is not in the spirit of being constructive, but we should never stop questioning ethics in all of this. If you call yourself a scientist or researcher, there are standards of ethics you must adhere to. One of them is speaking up despite it being uncomfortable.

AGW is Not Science
February 12, 2020 6:54 am

“Summary: Progress in the climate policy debate comes too slowly. The use and misuse of RCP8.5 shows why. At this pace, the climate will give final answers before we get a consensus. We can’t afford this.”

We don’t need “progress” in the “climate policy debate,” because we don’t NEED any “climate policy.” The notion that we do is based on the entirely false premise that human activities have a significant and dangerous impact on the Earth’s climate and that changes in human activities can “control” the degree to which the Earth’s climate changes.

The use and misuse of RCP8.5 is merely a reflection of the degree to which changes to the Earth’s climate are being propagandized in order to push a political agenda that wouldn’t solve the imaginary “crisis” IF it was real.

The climate’s “final answer” is much more affordable than the deluded attempts to “control” climate, which will cause nothing but economic pain and human suffering while doing nothing about “climate,” and while simultaneously undermining human ability to do the one and only thing it can do about “climate,” which is called “adapt to it.”

Summary: What we can’t afford IS “climate policy.”

Johann Wundersamer
February 22, 2020 10:30 pm

Progress in the climate policy debate comes too slowly. The use and misuse of RCP8.5 shows why. At this pace, the climate will give final answers before

– we get a consensus.

– We can’t afford this.

“We must all – [ ] – stop presenting the worst-case scenario [ ] before

we get a consensus ….

– We might get to RCP8.5 via inflection points ….

– We might get there by a poorly understood event ( ) whose probability cannot be estimated at present ….

– We might there by large emissions of greenhouse gases ….

– We might get there because the strength of carbon cycle feedbacks ….

Lots of “We”.

It’s you,

Charles Rotter / 2 weeks ago February 10, 2020 Reposted from the Fabius Maximus website By Larry Kummer, Editor / 8 February

I’m sure.


Many things went wrong At 11:40 pm on 14 April 1912 on board the RMS Titanic



The night was cold and foggy. Bad luck.

There’s been Icebergs underway, on their chosen route; they didn’t find appropriate field glasses; they underestimated the driving ice chunks in the distance.

Negligence. They wanted to be just in time. For the passengers. And to save coal on the Steam Boiler Operation.

Sad story. April 1912.


The world did not come to an end. Knock on wood.

Feb 2020.

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