Paul Krugman on climate change

Well, as you\’d expect from a Nobel Laureate his analysis of the basic economics is good. And as you\’d expect from an economist his understanding of the climate science is less so.

Personally (for whatever trivial value my opinion has) I\’d give the first half of that long piece an A*. And then I\’d argue with three points.

1) There is, as he says, an advantage to cap and trade in that it\’s already in place in the EU and partially so in the US. However, given the monkey\’s arse the politicians have made of placating interest groups a carbon tax would be better.

2) He\’s bought into the much more alarmist screams about climate sensitivity. He;s basing his arguments on a 9 oF rise by 2100. But the figures for climate sensitivity (how much will temperature rise with a doubling of atmospheric CO2-e?) have been falling to a centre value of about 3 oC, not rising to that higher figure. So while emissions themselves are at the higher end of previous estimates the effect of those emissions has been falling from previous higher estimates.

3) He\’s slightly misjudging the difference between the Nordhaus view (low tax now, higher taxes later) and the Stern view (high taxes now). Yes, there are differences in discount rates and so on which lead to these different views. But there\’s more to it than just that. That more being the time lag in the technological cycle.

It takes decades (at the least) to change the technological base of the society. Power plants for example last 20 years (solar installation, windmill, gas plant perhaps) to 50 years (coal and nuclear). Ripping down what we already have, what will happily continue working for a few more decades, and replacing it with some new low carbon technology is a very expensive way of doing things. We\’re destroying hundreds of billions of $ worth of capital investments by doing so. This of course makes us poorer.

Similarly, high tax on something we\’ve already got makes us poorer.

What we actually want is the lowest cost manner of making sure that when the current technological base wears out and is ready to be replaced then it is replaced with the low carbon alternative. Not to either accelerate the destruction of the current infrastructure nor to tax highly what we\’re still going to be using for decades. We just want to make sure that replacement is low carbon when the time comes.

All of which argues for low taxes now but credibly promising to raise them in the future. The Nordhaus view in short.

One further point here. The low carbon technologies aren\’t in fact ready for prime time yet. We can even take Jeremy Leggett\’s own arguments to heart here. Solar PV, just to take one example, currently costs 50 p or so per unit of electricity where coal costs perhaps 8p. If that relationship were always to hold then if the costs of climate change are greater than 42p then we should be changing now. However, that cost relationship isn\’t expected to hold. The basic technology of solar PV is improving like gangbusters. (As one example, First Solar\’s cadium telluride methods, as another the silicon based producers\’ reaction to it.) Leggett himself touts 20% cost reductions per year. Which means that we don\’t want to lock ourselves into this year\’s inefficient technology. We want to wait a few years until solar PV is cheaper than coal at the point of use. Generally thought to be less than a decade away (when we add in the carbon costs of coal that is).

Which again argues for not taxing highly now, but for taxing lightly now and taxing more heavily in the future. Why punish ourselves now unnecessarily?

(And as some of you know my day job involves other such technologies like fuel cells and yes, costs are coming down like gangbusters there as well but they\’re probably a decade to 15 years away from being truly competitive.)

So I end up agreeing with the basic analysis but then end up plumping for the Nordhaus view, not the Stern as Krugman himself does. In short, work with the technological and capital cycle, not attempt to tear down what we already have and replace it with inefficient technology when we know that the new technologies are getting better all the time.

33 thoughts on “Paul Krugman on climate change”

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  2. I’d take issue with “He’s basing his arguments on a 9 oF rise by 2100. But the figures for climate sensitivity (how much will temperature rise with a doubling of atmospheric CO2-e?) have been falling to a centre value of about 3 oC, not rising to that higher figure…”

    If you do the “basic physics”, the potential temperature increase for a doubling from present figures is around 0.7C (or approx 1F for those who insist on using the archaic). Anything above that is based upon the actions of, slightly positive, feedback – and the computer models are programmed accordingly and therefore generate higher temperatures.

    At present it’s not known whether climate feedback is positive or negative and what its magnitude is, so any “calculation” of future temperature is highly speculative at best and wild scaremongering at worst.

    As for “cap and trade” or “carbon taxes”… Why? There’s still virtually no empirical evidence that CO2 exerts more than a vanishingly small influence on climate – certainly not enough upon which to base potentially economically-crippling legislation.

    Tim adds: “climate sensitivity” is, by the definition used, the sum total of the “basic physics” and the feedbacks.

  3. Is it too simplistic to assert that climate feedbacks are invariably negative; otherwise, depending on the starting point, the Earth would have been a ball of ice or a charred cinder long, long ago?

  4. Carbon tax would also be a hell of a lot easier and less intrusive that cap and trade. For that reason alone, I would prefer it.

    Looking at this from a single country’s point of view, a Nordhaus strategy has the extra benefit of other countries pouring money into clean technology black holes, which will spped up the rate of technology progress.

  5. Jeff Wood… Simply put, feedbacks can be a mixture of positive and negative, however, only gross negative feedbacks (ie those that imply “damping”) can result in a system that is stable around its midpoint. Gross positive feedbacks (ie those that imply “runaway”) only “stabilise” at a limit condition.

  6. Tim adds: “climate sensitivity” is, by the definition used, the sum total of the “basic physics” and the feedbacks.

    Indeed…

    However, the vast bulk of the sensitivity figure is derived from models utilising feedbacks as yet unmeasured / unknown, and thus is little more than guesswork. The only figure that we know for anything like certain is the “basic physics”. Anything else is too speculative (IMHO) to base a system of taxation upon.

  7. I note you mix Fahrenheit and Celsius, which might make it appear there is a massive gulf in predictions – 9F and 3C. 3C = 5.5F, so it’s not huge.

    Regardless, Krugman’s figure is supported by the latest research, yours is not.

    1. “If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise unchecked, it is likely that global warming will exceed four degrees [7.2F] by the end of the century, …” – http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/news/latest/four-degrees.html

    2. “…median surface warming in 2091 to 2100 is 5.1°C [9.9F]…” – http://globalchange.mit.edu/pubs/abstract.php?publication_id=990

    3. “…on our current emissions path we are projected to warm most of U.S. 10 – 15°F by 2100, with sea level rise of 5 feet or more, and the SW will be a permanent Dust Bowl” – http://climateprogress.org/2009/04/13/american-thinker-marc-sheppard-global-warming-denier-joe-romm-projected-temperature-rise-sea-level-permanent-dust-bowl/

    As a result, your subsequent arguments disintegrate.

    Given the damage already done at +0.8C, +5C is an apocalyptic nightmare for future generations.

  8. Hi Paul,

    You have one glaring error in your article which changes it entirely.

    You speak of solar PV as an alternative quite correctly, but talk of it’s cost being 50p per unit energy (KWh) which is completely erroneous.

    Solar Panels are being intalled at around $3 / Watt. That will fall to $2 / Watt soon because manufacturing costs are falling and installation costs are also falling with increasing competition.

    1 Watt of installed solar PV, on average, will produce perhaps 40KWh in it’s lifetime. Some places far higher, some lower. So, at $3 / Watt installed (competitive pricing), that is 7.5 cents/Kwh or about 5p per KWh. Remember, that is a fixed price, it is not susceptible to rising fuel costs.

    Put another way, your 50p is 900% higher than the current cost of solar PV at 5p, throw in inflation and it is a lot cheaper still. In a few years, the 5p will be 3p / KWh.

    Those are the basics of current solar PV. There are other issues, micro-inverters, upfront cost, fossil fuel subsidies, storage etc. But those simple figures give a fair picture.

    What does that do to your article, to have solar PV cheaper than coal right now unsubsidized and falling fast?

    If clean energy is cheaper than fossil fuels as well as having all of the benefits of allowing us to exist, why wait?

    Tim adds: My calculation comes from the Feed in Tarrif rates. Solar PV gets something like 45 p per unit as a subsidy. The subsidy is calculated to produce a 6-8% return on capital employed. Thus that 45 p (or so) plus the 8 p (or so) regular cost of electricity must be the cost of power from solar PV.

  9. If clean energy is cheaper than fossil fuels as well as having all of the benefits of allowing us to exist, why wait?

    If this is true, then no government intervention should be needed. The question is why are we not installing huge numbers of PV panels now? Is the problem that of adapting the infrastructure to cope with intermittent, distributed generation rather than predictable supplies from a few centralised power stations? The cost of energy storage and/or backup generators?

    In the UK we need to replace a huge percentage of our generating capacity in the next 10-15 years. We cannot afford the risk of relying on either novel technology or insecure energy supplies, at least not for the majority of the new capacity. Thus, while we should of course make use of wind, PV, etc where (and when) cost-effective, and while gas will also feature, I don’t see how we can avoid building at least one more generation of both coal and nuclear fission plants.

    As an aside:
    Stern, in particular, argues that policy makers should give the same weight to future generations’ welfare as we give to those now living.

    Should we apply the same argument to other policy decisions, e.g. on government borrowing, public sector pensions, PFI etc?

  10. I live in Canada, a damn cold place.

    So far there is no evidence at all that a temperature rise would be a net negative. Indeed, there are many sound arguments that opening the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Nunavut and Siberia to agriculture will be a gigantic leap forward.

    So my idea of a carbon tax is a tax for not producing enough CO2. I’m off to burn some logs then OK?

  11. “David C” – assuming that it’s me that you’re replying to.

    Let me (as a retired physicist) make this very clear… Computer models are not science.

    1. The Met Office – “it is likely… by the end of the century” – from the happy folks who can’t get winter forecasts correct from three months out. Computer model.

    2. “…median surface warming in 2091 to 2100 is 5.1°C – Computer model.

    3… Complete bollocks. Even the IPCC 4AR is suggesting sea-level rises of between 11 and 59cm by the end of the century.

    Given the damage already done at +0.8C,

    … and what “damage” would that be?

    I apologise if you’re taking the piss as well, but it’s difficult to ascertain it from bare text! 🙂

  12. Hi Ed,

    Thanks for pointing that out, the figures are correct as are your observations.

    In the UK, 1 Watt will probably cost around £5.50 to install or $8.25, we simply are not competitive at the moment because our solar industry is almost non-existent. Therefore, we are not at 5p per KWh here, probably more like 20p per KWh when the climate is also factored in. I expect that to catch up with the $3/£2 mark over the next couple of years and continue to fall.

    The introduction of the FITs will accelerate that process to enable our industry to scale and get competitive.

    The second problem, also to be addressed shortly, is financing. That issue is currently the most difficult. Simply, you have to pay for your next 25 years of energy now. That is a big cost. In the UK, labour has put together a financing arrangement (I think attached to the house) that will solve the financing issue also, but it doesn’t start until 2011 or 2012, I think.

    So, there are 2 major hurdles in the UK which answers why there isn’t a bigger uptake here now (ie too expensive per KWh and too much upfront expense), but both can and are being addressed.

    As time goes on, and prices fall below conventional, you will see a major shift to solar PV in the UK. Just look at Germany for an example with a similar climate. They are predicting 5GW of new solar PV this year alone, with much lower FITs than here. It can be done.

    Perhaps we are late to the party, but at least we have now turned up!

  13. I quite like the idea of solar PV once it becomes cost and polution effective. However, am I the only one to worry about the knock-on effects of massive micro-generation on the National Grid?

    Firstly, the heaviest demands for power tend to be on cold winter nights – which solar cannot address until we have some effective form of local (ie domestic) storage, so there will still need to be virtually 100% base-load back-up.

    Secondly, I’m sure that many users of mircogeneration have “bought into” the idea lured by feed-in tarifs and the like. problem being that the grid is incapable of coping with a massively and randomly variable producer side, and that’s apart from minor problems such as maintaining and synchronising AC phases, frequencies and voltages for feed-in.

    With adequate local storage, many of these problems would go away as each establishment would be considerably more autonomous, but it appears to be much further off.

    Tim adds: That’s the bit of the system that I work on. My bet (and it is a bet, this is where my money is) is that some form of hydrogen generation through electrolysis and subsequent use in fuel cells will be that storage system. Which is why I’m about to build a factory in Hartlepool to produce a component for fuel cells.

  14. Pogo:

    > assuming that it’s me that you’re replying to.

    No. My response was very obviously to the article.

    > Let me (as a retired physicist)…

    If true, you’ll be aware of fallacious argument from authority.

    > Computer models are not science.

    Meaningless rhetoric. Start here to get a clue: http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models.htm

    > 1. The Met Office … can’t get winter forecasts correct from three months out.

    You’re exposing deep ignorance of some very basic concepts. Try this: http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/60-second-science/post.cfm?id=weather-is-not-climate-2009-04-28

    > 2. “…median surface warming in 2091 to 2100 is 5.1°C – Computer model.

    I’ll take MIT and their computers over ‘Pogo’, thanks. And how else do you think scientists can estimate future climate? Abacus? Tea leaves? That spare planet we have that we can run the experiment on? The “computer model” thing is one of the dumbest Denier talking points. You should use another.

    > 3… Complete bollocks.

    The credibility of your claim to be a scientist is dribbling away.

    > Even the IPCC 4AR is suggesting sea-level rises of between 11 and 59cm by the end of the century.

    The IPCC AR4 has been overtaken by new research since publication in several places – especially sea level. Try these: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/how-much-will-sea-level-rise/ + http://bit.ly/bkzQyK

    > … and what “damage” would that be?

    It beggars belief that anyone who expresses an opinion on climate change would need to ask that. Droughts, flooding, sea inundation, ocean acidification, increased storm activity and intensity. You really are woefully ignorant of some very basic components of this topic. Try this for starters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming

    > I apologise if you’re taking the piss as well, but it’s difficult to ascertain it from bare text! 🙂

    I’m deadly serious – and, in the unlikely event that you really are a scientist, you need to take a refresher course on how it all works. 🙂

  15. @Pogo:

    I was obviously not responding to you, but I provided a lengthy reply which it seems the blog owner has not allowed past moderation.

    Short version: you are grossly ignorant about climate science and need to attempt to educate yourself by reading some science instead of regurgitating idiotic Denier talking points.

  16. @ David C
    So sad to read your ‘open minded’ response to this complex subject. I am disheartened by your authoritarian and dismissive response to someone who has a different point of view from you. This, at least for me, is the sign of someone who has lost an argument. We discuss such authoritarian attitudes with our grand-children in the hope that they may learn to listen to others, respect a valid point of view and learn to argue logically and with reason. Finger pointing and name calling is frowned upon.

  17. Nick Luke,

    Save me your hand-wringing concern and tiresome condescension. We’re discussing science, not how best to teach manners to your grandchildren.

    As I already said I wrote a lengthy reply to Pogo. It contained detailed rebuttal to his comment, replete with credible cites. I see now it is still held for moderation – perhaps Tim will publish it shortly.

    In the meant time, here it is: http://selfnotes.net/f0db4e38fa0ae11da523d8d968372005 Perhaps you will learn something from it also.

  18. DavidC, you are simply hysterical, calm down. Pogo is quite correct, those predictions are based entirely on computer models that are almost complete guesswork as regards feedback. Your “credible sites” are simply more alarmist propaganda, I mean, Realclimate, Wikipedia, my god.

    If you want latest research, how about temperature being related to the rate of change of CO2 concentration, not to CO2 concentration itself ? Try googling Beenstock, and don’t read Realclimate about it, they, to put it bluntly, simply don’t have the statistical knowledge to understand the arguments.

  19. @David C.

    Thanks for responding. To pick up a few points you’ve made…

    Yes, I’m aware of argumentam ad verecundiam. You will note that I mentioned “retired” in my self-description, which should imply something about my age. I get the impression that we did our science in a somewhat different, more rigorous, way “in my day” and as a Popperian it seems totally obvious that computer models cannot be “science” as their long-term predictions are unable to be falsified. So I’m not talking “retoric” I’m talking real, hard, “science”. Have you read any of the comments on the skepticalscience item you reference?

    1. The Met Office. OK, so according to “Scientific American” “weather is not climate” (though I’d be a bit wary about quoting as authoritative an article that cheefully opines “Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have record high temperatures as negotiators from the world’s major economies meet in Washington, D.C. to discuss global efforts to combat climate change.” – which tends to indicate which wagon they have their horse harnessed to). However, as they state in the article, climate is made up of lots of bits of weather averaged together – if you can’t get the weather right the average is going to be meaningless.

    The recent statement from Professor Julia Slingo of the Met Office to the Parliamentary Science Sub Committee that “At least for the UK the codes that underpin our climate change projections are the same codes that we use to make our daily weather forecasts… (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/uc387-i/uc38702.htm) tends to suggest that the Met Office, at least, sees no difference between weather and climate. I get the impression that since the met Office stopped being a boring old weather forecasting bureau and instead became an exciting AGW advocacy unit, the accuracy of its forecasting became worse as a result of them using models that appear to have an inbuilt warming bias. They niftily abandoned their medium-term forecasts as, one suspects, they were “long” enough to be heading into the realms of “climate” but not long enough that they couldn’t be shown to be wrong.

    When one is feeling cynical, it’s interesting to note the references in the press that if the weather is unusually hot it’s “climate”, if cold it’s “weather”.

    2. I’ll take MIT and their computers over ‘Pogo’, thanks. And how else do you think scientists can estimate future climate? Abacus? Tea leaves?

    I thought that you didn’t approve of “argument from authority”.. 🙂

    That said, they may have their computers rather than tea-leaves, but, having had a quick look at the paper you reference, not the “abstract”, it’s very obvious that a fair degree of entrail-examination has been taking place. The model takes many of its inputs from the outputs of other models. It’s heavily parameterised (cloud effects etc) and if one may be allowed a slight argumentam ad verecundiam

    “With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk. – Attributed to John von Neumann by Enrico Fermi.”

    … or to put it another way, it’s still guesswork. Carefully crafted, heavily numbercrunched, impeccably peer reviewed… Guesswork.

    3. From the Realclimate reference that you used: The first paper to really try and assess the future limits on dynamic ice sheet loss appeared in Science this week. Pfeffer et al looked at the exit glaciers for Greenland and West Antarctica and made some back of the envelope calculations of how quickly the ice sheets could dynamically drain.

    Good news: they rule out more than 2 meters of sea level coming from Greenland alone in the next century.

    “Back of the envelope”… Now that’s what I call good science. Not.

    Droughts, flooding, sea inundation, ocean acidification, increased storm activity and intensity. You really are woefully ignorant of some very basic components of this topic. Try this for starters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming

    I’m sorry… But that’s nonsense. There has been no increase in storm numbers or intensity. Sea inundation?? What from? Floods, yes there’s been some bad weather but (a) weather isn’t climate and (b) it’s not been in any way unprecedented.

    And anyone who quotes Wikipaedia as an authority instantly loses any credibility. One of my academic colleagues makes it very clear to his students that doing so results in an immediate fail.

    You criticise me of being “woefully ignorant” yet cheerfully quote AGW activist sites as “authorities”, you’ve obviously not read much of what they say anyway.

    Short version: you are grossly ignorant about climate science and need to attempt to educate yourself by reading some science instead of regurgitating idiotic Denier talking points.

    “Climate Science” is about as scientific as “Social Science” – and at the present time has a similar degree of predictive ability (ie none) and similarly low academic standards. What is considered normal behaviour in the climate science world would get someone from my discipline sacked.

    You need to do some reading too – real science, not activist and pressure group blogs.

  20. Pogo,

    I’m not going to the time and trouble of dissecting your comment. It’s evident that you’ve spent some time on Denier blogs – I see lots of tired, old tropes being regurgitated.

    The planet’s climate scientists are in near-total consensus – because the science is utterly compelling.

    If you don’t like that, you’ll need to do what no one else has – refute it in the peer reviewed literature. Sophistry and semantics in comments on a blog won’t cut it.

    As you’ve taken the intellectually dishonest route of dismissing a blog written by real climate scientists as “AGW activists”, here’s something that should resonate with you as a (claimed) (retired) physicist:

    * “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” – http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

    Or will this be dismissed as an “activist site”?!

    The problem with being in denial is that you don’t realise you are in denial.

    P.S. Wikipedia is not the source – the credible cites at foot of each page are. Perhaps if you attempted reading what I referenced that would have become clear….

  21. Ed Snack ,

    > DavidC, you are simply hysterical, calm down.

    If you want to discuss things with adults, at least make an attempt to contribute something useful and reality-based.

    > …computer models that are almost complete guesswork…

    At the risk that you might want to try and educate yourself:

    * http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/not-computer-models/

    * http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models.htm

    Yes, they’re ‘just’ blogs – but where else is going to publish a refutation of idiotic, Denier talking points?

  22. It’s evident that you’ve spent some time on Denier blogs – I see lots of tired, old tropes being regurgitated.

    Ah… The old “play the man, not the ball” ploy.

    The planet’s climate scientists are in near-total consensus – because the science is utterly compelling.

    No they are not, and no it isn’t. The empirical evidence of anthropogenic global warming is very thin at best.

    If you don’t like that, you’ll need to do what no one else has – refute it in the peer reviewed literature. Sophistry and semantics in comments on a blog won’t cut it.

    That’s a tad tricky since a small group of “activist scientists” managed to hijack the climatology peer review process – or have you not read any of the “climategate” emails?

    As you’ve taken the intellectually dishonest route of dismissing a blog written by real climate scientists as “AGW activists”,

    I assume by this that you are referring to “realclimate”? I see nothing intellectually dishonest about describing the site for what it is. An advocacy group that by means of a draconian moderation and censorship policy will entertain no discussion other than that “approved” by “the management”.

    That’s “advocacy”, not “science”.

    Or will this be dismissed as an “activist site”?!

    This is the “American Physical Society” that’s started losing members hand-over-fist since a small group of advocates managed to take over the committee? I’m glad I’m not American.

    The problem with being in denial is that you don’t realise you are in denial.

    The problem with fanatically following a religion is that it stunts your critical faculties to an alarming degree.

    Enough.

  23. Pogo,

    Of course, every source that doesn’t confirm your denial is part of a conspiracy! Even the APS has been “taken over”! Did the “activists” also take over The American Geophysical Union? How about the Royal Society? How about every national science academy of every major industrialised country on the planet, all of whom confirm recent climate change is due to human activity? How far does your evidence-free conspiracy extend?! Who is orchestrating it? Dr Evil?!

    “Almost every denialist argument will eventually devolve into a conspiracy. This is because denialist theories that oppose well-established science eventually need to assert deception on the part of their opponents to explain things like why every reputable scientist, journal, and opponent seems to be able to operate from the same page. In the crank mind, it isn’t because their opponents are operating from the same set of facts, it’s that all their opponents are liars (or fools) who are using the same false set of information.” – http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/about.php

    And here’s that consensus you claim does not exist:

    – The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686
    – Every national science academy of every major industrialised country on the planet confirms recent climate change is due to human activity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change
    – continued in next comment to avoid moderation queue…

  24. – 97% of active climatologists agree that human activity is causing global warming: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/97_of_active_climatologists_ag.php + http://www.miller-mccune.com/news/scientists-public-drift-apart-on-climate-change-948
    – The Consensus on Global Warming: From Science to Industry & Religion: http://www.logicalscience.com/consensus/consensus.htm
    – If this is not consensus, what would consensus look like? http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/11/13/221250/49
    – A survey of all peer reviewed abstracts on the subject “global climate change” published between 1993 and 2003 show that not a single paper rejected the consensus position that global warming is man caused. 75% of the papers agreed with the consensus position while 25% made no comment either way (e.g. – focused on methods or paleoclimate analysis). http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus.htm

    When thousands of the planet’s experts are in agreement, you would need to be a fool to think you know better.

    As I said earlier, it’s clear from your comments that you’ve been getting your ‘science’ from Denier blogs. If you’re interested in reality more than reinforcing what you want to be true, I recommend going to reputable sources – the Royal Society, NASA, IPCC, RealClimate – and you may be able to see the truth. Good luck with that.

  25. DavidC… What makes you think that I’m a “Denier”? You seem blinkered by your quasi-religious hysterical fervour. The scientific world isn’t split into “The Chosen” and “The Deniers” – ever heard of “Agnostic”?

    I’m agnostic, with denialist tendencies at the moment, whereas a few years ago I was a “luke-warmist” – simply because, in my opinion, bolstered by the recent revelations about “The Hockey Team”‘s venality and UEA’s intransigence, the standards of science, empiricism and proof put forward by the burgeoning AGW “industry” are proving to be not good enough. Remember, in proper science, it’s the proposers of an hypothesis who are supposed to provide the proof, not the gainsayers and as yet, proper proof of a major anthropogenic component in global warming (I refuse to use the weasel words “climate change”) has not yet been forthcoming.

    Climate science needs to go back to square one, derive an authoritative historical temperature record and progress from there. Attempting to work from the presently available, apparently severely corrupted (in the physical not political sense) historical reconstructions and thermometer records whilst shouting “Yah Boo” at “Deniers” is not the way to do science.

    Oh, by the way, “consensus” is a political construct, it’s certainly nothing to do with science – otherwise we’d still be doing phlogiston-based chemistry. 🙂

    Interestingly, the denialism blog that you reference seems to have gone very quiet on the “Global Warming” front, last posting in March 2009 and not a peep about “Climategate”. One would have thought that with their urge to set the reords straight they’d have been all over it. The scattergun approach they take to classifying folk as “deniers” seems more than a tad eclectic – they seem happy to equate a virtually unknown, off-the wall journalist with a tenured professor of atmospheric physics at MIT. However, each to their own.

    One final comment about the assorted “Societies” – if you’ve ever been a member of one, or ever had anything to do with faculty politics you’ll be aware that it’s the “politicals” who inevitably take over the administrative power base, working scientists tend to be too absorbed in their subject for all the shenanigans. AGW is, for anyone politically-minded, a fantastic source of power and money. It’s not really surprising that they follow the accepted governmental “wisdom” – that’s where all the money comes from. Even the Royal Society is largely funded by government nowadays. Sadly.

  26. Tim,

    In comparing overall temp rise by 2100 to climate sensitivity you are not comparing apples to apples. Climate sensitivity is the response to a doubling of CO2 it is not a limit on overall temp rise by 2100. We may triple CO2 by then. This would result in more than 3c rise *even if* climate sensitivity is 3c.

    The most likely estimate for climate sensitivity has been 3c for some time as well, it is misleading to suggest that it has ‘fallen’ to this recently.

    Last but not least 3c is simply the most likely estimate. It could be less but more disturbingly it could be more. This is like a twist on Russian roulette element where the gun may have as few as 0 bullets but as many as six.

  27. @Pogo,

    First, I’d like to note that you acknowledge nothing that has proven you wrong – especially re. consensus. That’s intellectual dishonesty by anyone’s standard. You were wrong, I was right.

    > What makes you think that I’m a “Denier”?

    What?! Because of everything you have written! And what follows in your latest diatribe!

    > You seem blinkered by your quasi-religious hysterical fervour.

    Ah, yes – the standard Denier tactic when the penny drops that you’re losing the argument – try to make the conversation about your opponent. Whenever I bother engaging people like you, they invariably resort to this tactic.

    > [snip vague, evidence-free accusations re. CRU, etc.]

    Everyone that the denial propaganda machine has attempted to smear have been exonerated by official investigation. You should move on – but I predict you will announce that everything that declares the science and scientists untainted is simply part of The Great Global Conspiracy!

    > …it’s the proposers of an hypothesis who are supposed to provide the proof…

    There is no such thing as “proof” in science. There is evidence, hypotheses and theories. That’s an astounding mistake to make for someone who claims to be a scientist.

    However, the evidence and science for anthropogenic climate change has been conveniently packaged up for you: http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm – no doubt that will be dismissed with vague accusations of political corruption, ignoring the mountain of peer-reviewed papers that make it up.

    > …I refuse to use the weasel words “climate change”…

    More eye-watering ignorance. ‘Global warming’ is only one component of what is happening. That’s why the it’s the IPCC and not the IPGW – established in 1988.

    > …apparently severely corrupted…

    “Apparently”? Do you know or not? Is there evidence for this “corruption” or not? Science is not done by standing on the sidelines, making vague accusations of malfeasance.

    > …“consensus” is a political construct…

    So, now that you’ve been proven wrong about the consensus, you shift your argument to some weak sophistry about it being “a political construct”? I’ll let a real scientist explain where you’re going wrong again: http://sciencepoliticsclimatechange.blogspot.com/2006/08/role-of-consensus-in-science.html

    > …the denialism blog that you reference seems to have gone very quiet on the “Global Warming” front…

    This is measure of your desperation. You think it significant that a blog has not been updated recently.

    > …classifying folk as “deniers”…

    It gets better than that. Here’s another real climate scientist: “…the difference between a sceptic and a denier is a sceptic is questioning every component of a problem but when there’s an accumulated preponderance of evidence you don’t deny it. If you deny it then either you don’t know the literature or frankly you’re a liar…” – Stephen Schneider

    > …it’s the “politicals” who inevitably take over the administrative power base…

    So, every national science academy on the planet is lying to us and thousands of scientists are keeping quiet while the “politicals” make up stuff to get grant money? Incredible – a global conspiracy and not a shred of evidence to prove any of it! Tighten your tinfoil hat!

    The more you write, the more certain I become that your claim to being a scientist of any kind is false.

    Your twisting, sophistry and evidence-free conspiracy theories are patent nonsense.

    Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 by ~40% since pre-industrial. The planet is heating up as a result. All credible predictions range between very bad and apocalyptic if we do not stop pumping billions of tons of CO2 in to the atmosphere every year. Your intellectually dishonest denial does not change these facts.

  28. Tim,

    My last comment is not appearing – and if I attempt to add it I’m told it has already been added. Perhaps it’s in the moderation queue?

    TIA.

  29. @DavidC

    There is no such thing as “proof” in science. There is evidence, hypotheses and theories. That’s an astounding mistake to make for someone who claims to be a scientist.

    I’m well aware of that. However, I wasn’t writing a thesis or paper for peer review, I was writing a blog response to an arrogant, ignorant, abusive, knobhead who’s convinced that he’s absolutely correct and who’s “arguments” (for want of a better word) rise no further than ad hominem and quoting Wiki and archaic advocacy sites to “prove” himself “right”.

    I have nothing further to add.

    Good day to you Sir.

  30. Pogo,

    That loud banging at the back of your head is known as cognitive dissonance. Part of your brain knows you’re wrong and that I have clearly demonstrated that fact – but your denial prevents you accepting it.

    The result, in this case, is anger and resorting to infantile name-calling because you have nothing else to offer.

    Throughout this ‘debate’ you have produced nothing apart from weak rhetoric and sophistry. The reason for that is because science and reality are not on your side.

    If you make an attempt to read real science from real climate scientists, you may escape the denial that is preventing your from seeing the truth. Good luck with that.

  31. Pingback: How do we solve a problem like the modern environmental movement? « The Enlightenment Junkie

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