It\’s weird about climate change, isn\’t it?

It is increasingly likely that hundreds of millions of people will be displaced from their homelands in the near future as a result of global warming. That is the stark warning of economist and climate change expert Lord Stern following the news last week that concentrations of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere had reached a level of 400 parts per million (ppm).

Massive movements of people are likely to occur over the rest of the century because global temperatures are likely to rise to by up to 5C because carbon dioxide levels have risen unabated for 50 years, said Stern, who is head of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change.

As the actual scientists continually downgrade the likely effects of climate change the propagandists keep upgrading their claims.

The estimates of climate sensitivity are being massaged down. We seem to be thinking that a doubling of CO2-e will lead to a 2 oC, 2.5 oC rise rather than the former possibilities of 4.5 and so on. And yet then we\’ve got people insisting that we\’re going to get 5 oC even as the estimates of the effect of CO2 fall.

Wouldn\’t it all be rather more interesting if those claiming to be presenting the scientific consensus were in fact doing so?

Purely as a personal opinion I think we\’re going to end up on A1T. Solar\’s going to get cheap enough that we\’ll all be using it as a matter of choice. And thus the problem simply goes away.

That is in there, as one of the possibilities, one of the scenarios that the whole system is built upon. And the A1 family has the merit of being the one based on pretty much the best forecasting system we have. That the future will be largely like the past. Economic growth in the 21 st century will be largely like it was in the 20th. Population growth similarly, as countries get richer they reach their fertility and thus demographic peaks. The carbon efficiency (ie, emissions per unit of GDP) increases just as it did in the 20th cent.

And then we add the T, which is effectively that solar becomes the energy generation system of choice purely on price grounds as technology advances. And we do indeed keep being told that this is imminent, a good decade or two before T assumes it will be.

Going back to those SRES scenarios I\’d say that that A1T is indeed the most likely one, given what we\’ve seen in the couple of decades since they were first laid out. And the joy of that is that A1T is one of the very few scenarios where climate change never does manage to become a large problem.

But here\’s a moment of joy for you. Fro the very little I\’ve seen about the revisions of the SRES for AR5 (ie, the next IPCC report) the A1 family is entirely dropped. Agreed that I\’ve seen very little of it but that\’s certainly the impression I\’ve got from what I have seen.

48 comments on “It\’s weird about climate change, isn\’t it?

  1. But heres a moment of joy for you. Fro the very little I’ve seen about the revisions of the SRES for AR5 (ie, the next IPCC report) the A1 family is entirely dropped.

    Can you clarify that? Are they just chucking out a whole class of predictions or something?

    Tim adds: I’ve only seen a very little of the stuff being done on this. But yes, the little I’ve seen of it seems to drop the A1 family entirely.

  2. They aren’t “predictions”… IIRC they are now “scenarios” – which is a much more accurate description of the fiction. :-)

  3. Don’t worry Tim Newman. Gasoline is so energy dense (as dense as physics and chemistry allows)that we’ll still be using it for many applications in 2100.

    Solar is probably a blind alley. Too diffuse, too land and cleaning product hungry.

    On the other hand by 2100 we’ll have cracked getting H and O from seawater.

  4. Solar is only cheap if you’re not competing for the flat land with 10 billion middle-class people who fancy steak and chips for supper. If they’ll settle for chick peas and poverty then we may be able to give them 2500 kcal/day and solar power, but not otherwise.

    Of course the problem with solar is not the price, but the night-time/winter/cloud thing.

  5. I would imagine that the A1 scenarios have been quietly sidelined since they give the wrong answer (i.e. that there’s no need for all this Agenda21 style malarkey).

    Solar, of course, will be wonderful when it works on cold clear winter nights when you want the power — which is going to take powersats to deliver. Otherwise it’s as fatuous as the “green” schemes that encourage you to do your tumble-drying on bright and breezy day when wind and solar are not being totally useless (you know, the sort of weather when you might just as well hang the washing out on the line).

  6. As the actual evidence for catastrophic manmade global warming gets thinner every year that CO2 increases and average temperatures do not, the greenies have resorted to doubling down on their brazen lies and wailings about doomsday. Global warming is a sort of Marxoid eschatological cult-cum-cash-scam, fit only for the rapacious or the gullible.

  7. So the IPCC is ditching the scenario that fits what’s happening the best? Sigh. No wonder people don’t respect the process.

    Steve: Average temperatures are increasing, sorry. That “no warming in 16 years” furphy is a good example of how cherry picking extreme points can give you any answer you want.

  8. Matthew L: “Average temperatures are increasing, sorry. That no warming in 16 years furphy is a good example of how cherry picking extreme points can give you any answer you want.”

    Even if average temps are increasing (which is arguable either way one suspects), the point is that there is a good chance that the increase is down to factors totally out of our control, and not down to AGW at all. The AGW crowd predicted that temps would rise consistently due to increased CO2 – they haven’t. Ergo their theory is wrong, and we should ignore anything they say now. The biggest self interest in climate research today is in there being a ‘problem’ that needs ‘solving’ by the climate research caste – if the best strategy is “do nothing and see what happens”, there’s not much professorial tenure, grant money, fame and pension rights to be gained by saying that is there?

  9. “Solar is going to get cheap enough that we will all be using it as a matter of choice”

    Well, it was getting cheaper – until the EU whacked it with a huge import tariff.

  10. Matthew L – what Jim said.

    The lack of empirical evidence for global warming over the past decade and a half, in spite of recorded increased CO2 emissions, should shame and embarrass the AGW crowd into re-examining their premises.

    Instead, like most Malthusians and other doomsday cultists throughout history, being proven wrong in their previous dire predictions doesn’t seem to dampen their fervour for foreseeing Armageddon, in fact it seems to embolden it.

  11. Bloke in France,

    Oh, I’m not worried in the slightest. For a start, any shift will be gradual and take decades, enough for me to have made enough dough. Secondly, even if it was a rapid shift, where they gonna get the engineers and project managers from to build the facilities, supporting infrastructure, etc.? They’re not going to be recruiting a bunch of unwashed lefties from Greenpeace, that’s for sure.

  12. “And thus the problem simply goes away.”

    Maybe – or especially if CO2 emissions are the main problem to begin with.

    Planetary warming and cooling cycles occurred over millions of years before humans appeared. Seems reasonable to me that we should keep in mind the possibility that a complete changeover to solar power – even if that were practical – would not change climate much at all.

  13. 1. Solar and wind will only be successful once an efficient means of electricity storage is developed.

    And we do not know the cost of that because it has not been invented, or if it is possible.

    2. Nobody around the time Newcomen’s advanced technology for steam engines allowed deep shaft coal mining to be practical and affordable and thus fuel the Industrial Revolution, nobody when iron smelting was developed, nobody when the use of fire was developed could predict that one day, these three key elements would result in ‘catastrophic climate change’.

    Rutherford after ‘splitting’ the atom remarked there would be no practical use for nuclear fission, so missed the notion of being able either to power a city or destroy it.

    Yet Tim Worstall, et al, can confidently predict if we go solar, or at any rate ‘non carbon’ all problems will be solved, Man’s future, the Planet’s future will be assured because nothing can go wrong with this plan.

    That going ‘renewable’ will not lead Mankind down some other path to ‘endanger’ the Planet even worse than ‘climate change’.

    When there are people about who believe there is nothing else for Mankind to know, so all possibilities can be calculated and the future assured, we can find the explanation why the place is in the mess it is.

  14. Mr. Worstall, I have expressed the exact views that you outline here including that solar will become the economically driven choice of power supply and their are many that respond by calling me a denier. What is your experience?

    Tim adds: Often the same. There are a lare number of people who insist that the complete dismantling of industrial civilisation is the only possible solution. One that would, of course, be worse than the problem.

  15. Someone I know did a large piece of work on this for a major energy company a few years ago – the task was to go and read every bit of published basic science, ignore the lobbyists, and find out what’s actually likely to work. The conclusions were:
    1) wind is never ever going to be viable without subsidy – propellers and generator sets are 100+ year old technology and there’s a limited amount more cost that can be taken out of them
    2) tidal is not going to be viable using our current knowledge as we simply don’t know enough about the chaotic interaction of waves and there are many more very large waves than we can explain, so any piece of equipment will get ripped to pieces by unexpected marine violence
    3) within 10-20 years, assuming that solar and battery tech proceed down the cost curve that has been observed so far in pretty much every manufactured product, solar will be cost-competitive with hydrocarbons – and it’ll be quicker than that if a chance discovery in a materials lab somewhere pops up
    4) the only game in town right now is biofuels, but only using GM bugs that can digest cellulosic waste and so maintain cheap feedstock without the need to compete with food use

  16. we can find the explanation why the place is in the mess it

    Is the environment in a mess John B? Do tell.

  17. I don’t find that link interesting, I find it predictable nonsense.

    many people feel the same way, Matthew L, when they read the crap on SkS, purporting to answer questions that have been asked in the way that they answer.

  18. Diogenes: Skeptical Science has posts backed up with citations to actual research. I didn’t see anything but sneering crap in the WUWT post. Can you see the difference?

  19. Matthew, SkS is famed as unadulterated bilge, It has all been debunked many times. Science is the process of advancing disprovable hypotheses. What SkS does with it’s “settled science” is called religion

  20. Matthew L – there’s plenty of facts, statistics, and rigorous analysis over at WUWT

    Your resort to ad hominem does you no credit.

  21. Matthew L, the link you provide includes a picture of lots chimneys. It implies that all those chimneys is producing lots of CO2 in their smoke. Except they aren’t. They produce steam. Classic subterfuge by the AGW lot.

    As for the 400ppm. Yes, many in the AGW side have said that when 400ppm is reached that it would be the start of the end of the world. Yes, no one has said that the world would actually end. But that when 400ppm would be reached temperatures would be shooting skywards. Well temperatures have actually leveled off even though CO2 levels are still rising.

  22. Matthew L – “There-s a helpful index of claims like those made in 8, 11, 13, 14. Go look up what you-re claiming and see if the response makes sense.”

    You are citing a source that is notorious for its shameless support of warming claims as evidence? For shame.

    21Matthew L – “Ah yes, Watts Up With That. One of the more Murphyesque climate blogs.”

    Does he ban people he does not like? Does he contradict himself? Anthony Watts is many things, but Murphyesque he is not. He is interesting for one thing.

    26Matthew L – “Skeptical Science has posts backed up with citations to actual research.”

    That does not mean the research is good. They are still defending the Hockey Stick for instance. Denying the Mediaeval Warming period. And cheating by passing off their sleight of hand in now counting ocean temperatures as proof the planet is still warming. It is not.

    They have an ideological agenda but it is not doing well with the science or the public.

  23. “It is increasingly likely that hundreds of millions of people will be displaced from their homelands in the near future ”

    “Massive movements of people are likely to occur over the rest of the century”

    I think you can pretty much ignore anyone who contradicts themselves between the first and second paragraph.

  24. Sigh. WUWT is for the most part cringingly ill-informed. If you can’t tell, well, you can’t. But in that case, why presume to pronounce on the truth?

  25. #Matthew ,who asks “look up what you’re claiming and see if the response makes sense.”

    I did, and find the same blather from the same sources that lost their credibility during and after “climategate.”

    Lost credibility means people no longer trust what these “experts” are saying. That’s the consequence for experts who appear to play deceitful games with data. People stop believing what they say.

    Perhaps that’s a mistake, perhaps not. Are we dealing here with Peter who cried wolf, or with Cassandra who cried truth? The point is, we do not have credible sources.

    Meanwhile, I “claim” nothing, but instead suggested we keep in mind the possibility that a complete changeover to solar power – even if that were practical – would not change climate much at all.

  26. The problem with the climate change issue is that it was hijacked by the lunatic watermelon wing of the environmental movement. They saw it as an excellent way to promote their neocommunist economic ideology of “back to peasanthood (except for us)”. As a result normally intelligent people think the whole thing is a crock, when actually it’s just part of it. Here’s a summary:

    Actual data shows that the earth is warming (and yes, ocean temperatures count, or is salt water somehow not part of the planet anymore).

    Actual data shows that CO2 levels are rising faster than has been the case before.

    Actual data shows that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that increased levels lead to increased energy retention and therefore increased warming.

    Therefore a very strong case, backed by continued observations, can be made that the increased CO2 levels are, at least in part responsible for the observed warming.

    Recent observations have ruled out other causes for the warming and the increased ÇO2 because they don’t work fast enough. The only hypothesis so far that fits the observations is that the excess CO2 emitted by humanity in recent years is causing the increased atmospheric levels, and therefore contributing to the warming.

    That’s the settled science. Here’s what isn’t settled, and this is where the dishonest advocates are completely fucking up the scientific method to push their agenda.

    What do we need to do about it – adapt, mitigate or a mixture.
    At what rate do we need to do these things.
    What will be the effect on the various parts and systems of the planet of not doing these things.

    There are hypotheses of varying plausibility for the last one but fundamentally these are economic questions, as Tim keeps pointing out, and they are highly dependent on what the feedback rate is, which is the very topic of this blog post.

    It may be that the answer is “nothing, it won’t make a difference” but personally I doubt it. (that’s an opinion, not a fact. Everyone can have their own opinions but facts are facts no matter what you think of them). But save your ire for the people who stray past the facts and into opinion without observing the difference.

    If you don’t believe me on the bits above, look at the actual underlying data. The Skeptical Science blog, whatever you may think about its analysis, does back up its claims with links to the scientific literature. Get the papers referenced in it and read them yourself. Look at the data in context, not filtered through the blogosphere, which is great at distorting things without necessarily trying to.

  27. It would be delightful if solar was economically feasible. Or lots and lots of cheap, fracked, gas. Or pebble bed reactors.

    But it will not make any difference to the CO2 scam simply because CO2 is a marginal element in the ongoing change in climate. It goes up, temps stay down and the “theory”, year after year, takes torpedoes below the waterline.

    Climate is complicated. Climate science is barely born and largely observation free. Peer review in the area – ignoring log rolling and pals – is crippled because there is simply not enough sound science to review the new science against. Check in sixty years.

    And the big problem is that, even in sixty years, the questions raised by natural variability, changes in land use and the like will be only marginally more resolved. This is simply in the nature of time series – they take time to reveal what truths they may hold.

  28. Matthew L – “The problem with the climate change issue is that it was hijacked by the lunatic watermelon wing of the environmental movement.”

    And this does not give you cause for concern? Myself, when I see what the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia, I stopped listening to the British Khmer Friendship Society. Why not you?

    “Actual data shows that the earth is warming (and yes, ocean temperatures count, or is salt water somehow not part of the planet anymore).”

    Actual data, good data, goes back to the mid-1970s. Sure the Earth warmed between 1974 or so and 1998. It has since leveled off and we do not see any warming – or any cooling – since.

    The point about the oceans is that they ignored them when it suited their argument. They now insist that we include them when it suits them to do so. Oceans will be a lagging indicator. They will heat more slowly than the surface. So from 1974 to 1998 they ignored them because they were not heating much. Now the surface is not heating, they have to include them. This is not science, it is manipulating the numbers.

    “Actual data shows that CO2 levels are rising faster than has been the case before.”

    Define before. There is clearly something wrong with Keeling-s data. His CO2 rises too monotonically for it to not have some problem, but in general it is certainly true for recent times. But the Earth has seen equally or faster rises in CO2 before. And we are still here.

    “Actual data shows that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that increased levels lead to increased energy retention and therefore increased warming.”

    Yes and no. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. And in the laboratory it suggests that we should have more heat retentino and hence warming. But the real world is a complex, and very large, system. It is nothing like a test tube. So we cannot be so sure that is what is going to happen, actually.

    “Therefore a very strong case, backed by continued observations, can be made that the increased CO2 levels are, at least in part responsible for the observed warming.”

    In part. No doubt. However the rises are not large, it is not certain they are rises, it is not clear what the natural cycles are and it is not clear we have anything to worry about.

    “Recent observations have ruled out other causes for the warming and the increased

  29. Matthew L – “Recent observations have ruled out other causes for the warming and the increased [] because they don-t work fast enough. The only hypothesis so far that fits the observations is that the excess CO2 emitted by humanity in recent years is causing the increased atmospheric levels, and therefore contributing to the warming.”

    That is certainly not true. The rises have not been large and they are not remotely out of the ordinary for the climate as far as we can tell. There is no reason to assume that the tiny bit of warming we have seen is not natural.

    “That-s the settled science.”

    No it is not science much less settled. It is a series of political statements hoping to be true.

    “But save your ire for the people who stray past the facts and into opinion without observing the difference.”

    Oh we are, we are. Take Settled Science-s laughable claim that the models are accurate. That is not even an opinion. It is a flat out lie. Yet you endorse it.

    “The Skeptical Science blog, whatever you may think about its analysis, does back up its claims with links to the scientific literature.”

    No it does not. It uses them dishonestly and partially. Take the claim about the models and their accuracy. Those models are garbage. Worse than that really. But what they do with them is tweak them. They run them on past data and when they do not agree, they change the various fudge factors and other assumptions. Until they do. Then SS claims they predict the past. They do not. They never have.

    “Get the papers referenced in it and read them yourself. Look at the data in context, not filtered through the blogosphere, which is great at distorting things without necessarily trying to.”

    Indeed. It would be better if everyone did.

    Global Warming is a busted flush. Everyone of any importance knows it is rubbish. They will coast for a few more decades, retreating slowly from their sillier claims, still getting money from the old fossils on the grant funding committees. But they will have no influence. They will be like the Deconstructionists. No one will admit to being a fraud because they took Derrida seriously but no one will take Derrida seriously any more.

  30. Physics says that global warming is real. The climate of Venus says that global warming is real. The temperature record says that global warming is real. And various people who want it to be false for political reasons say that it’s unreal.

  31. PaulB – “Physics says that global warming is real.”

    That is true. It does not say man-made global warming is true. Nor does it say it will happen any time soon. If ever.

    “The climate of Venus says that global warming is real.”

    On Venus, yes.

    “The temperature record says that global warming is real.”

    No it does not.

    “And various people who want it to be false for political reasons say that it-s unreal.”

    Actually it is precisely the other way around – various people who want it to be real for political reasons say it is happening. No one of any real importance of course. That is why they had to get the Work Experience students in to do the IPCC Report.

    People who do not believe it is happening take a wide range of positions, none of them consistent with any one political position. Unlike supporters of warming.

  32. Hi Tim

    James Hansen is speaking at the London School of Economics on Thursday. It’s public so why don’t you come?

    In Open letter to James Hansen, I compare what I think is his political stance with what I think is yours. They are very similar.

    But you might disagree on the climate science.

  33. Matthew L: “Recent observations have ruled out other causes for the warming and the increased CO2 because they dont work fast enough. ”

    Between 1980 and 2010 the world heated by about 0.6C. Between 1910 and 1940 the world also heated by roughly 0.6C. Graph here: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/monitoring/climate/surface-temperature

    Could you inform me as to what caused the latter rise, and if it wasn’t CO2, why you consider that the former rise must definitely be caused by CO2, and could not be a natural event?

  34. bloke in france:

    H and O can be produced from seawater by electrolysis–and is, routinely, aboard submarines. However, they’re not for recombination producing energy (I suppose because the two are more dangerously explosive than can be managed in the quantities necessary for that purpose.

    In subs, the H is immediately pumped back overboard, while the O is introduced into the ship’s ventilation (breathing) system.

    I own (as government surplus) many spare parts for the aforementioned system–put up in “kits” containing thousands of items each–back in 1966 & 7. (And a few of which the government
    accasionally sees fit to buy from me currently.)

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