March 05, 2009
Global Warming Fears Translate Into Tax Increases

Why has the debate over global warming become so partisan with most on the Left and Right taking opposing positions? Some on the Left argue that people on the political Left are more willing to consider the evidence of science. But I see a more likely reason: People on the Right do not like high taxes and suspect the argument for restrictions on carbon dixoide emissions is just a convenient opportunity to increase tax revenues and the size of government. The Obama Administration demonstrates the truth of these suspicions. A half trillion dollars a year is a lot of money.

The budget includes $78.7 billion in projected revenues from the cap-and-trade system in its first year, 2012, and $525.7 billion total by 2019. According to Point Carbon, an energy-market analysis firm based in Olso, Norway, these numbers are based on the assumption that credits for a ton of carbon dioxide will sell for $13.70 in 2012 and $16.50 by 2020. These estimates are in line with carbon credits issued in Europe, says Veronique Bugnion, a managing director at Point Carbon. The 2012 price for carbon dioxide emissions will increase gasoline prices by 6 percent compared to current prices, she says. Average electricity prices will increase by 6.8 percent--perhaps more. According to calculations by Gilbert Metcalf, an economist at Tufts University, the average electricity price increase would be 9.7 percent by 2012 and 11.7 percent by 2020.

Suppose, however, that the atmospheric CO2 build-up really is going to cause us big problems. Carbon taxes that come with matching cuts in other taxes could (at least in theory) reduce fossil fuels consumption in a revenue neutral way. If proposals from the Left for cutting CO2 emissions came with tax changes that were revenue neutral I think the ideological divisions over global warming would lessen. If the Left wants to be seen as sincere about climate change then they should support only tax revenue-neutral ways to cut CO2 emissions.

Another idea: taxes on carbon dioxide emissions could be used as tax credits to lower the prices of cleaner replacements. For example, taxes on coal burning for electric power could provide tax credits for promising new nuclear power plant designs. Governments would not be enriched by carbon taxes.

Update: How much of the $525.7 billion is for 2019? Is it a sum total over 7 year? Does the expected take from such a tax go up each of those years? How much is the tax projected to go up after 2019? Anyone have a good source for detailed breakdown of these numbers?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 March 05 11:36 PM  Climate Policy


Comments
Dave Tufte said at March 6, 2009 6:39 AM:

I don't agree.

I think taxes are the conservatives label for the bogeyman, not the bogeyman itself.

Your post is an excellent way - coming from a pro-policy standpoint and including some realistic numbers - to make this point.

Your ballpark figures for price increases - due to carbon taxes - are in the range of what economists think is optimal for carbon abatement (e.g., they aren't far off of Nordhaus' numbers).

The problem for conservatives is not the scale of this tax-induced price wedge (this is the label). The problem is the fact that in most states, the difference between the wholesale price of, say, gasoline, and the price of gasoline at the pump is already far larger than this wedge.

This is what our governments have wrought without an excuse to tax carbon specifically (this is the bogeyman itself). Now, that they have an excuse, conservatives are probably being very realistic in worrying that any claims that the new wedge will be smaller than the existing one are merely convenient political lies.

It gets worse. If you buy into the pro-policy standpoint (that we need to do something about anthropogenic carbon emissions), and support it with the perspective I've just offered, our future is going to be one of anthropogenic carbon emissions that can't be reduced because the government is too dependent on them as a source of stable revenue. This is going to be just like tobacco: government will end up subsidizing oil companies to drill, refine and sell oil, so that they can tax consumers under the guise of environmental protection, and skim off enough of that cash flow to continue the subsidization scheme, and so on.

That's a conservative point that non-conservatives need to consider more seriously.

Scott said at March 6, 2009 8:23 AM:

Another point that the discussion of taxes overlooks is that non-tax government initiatives (i.e. regulation) is the real concern that many (if not most) conservatives see. Once one endorses the notion of government 'action' on global warming, the basis for government regulation of energy production (and by extension, regulation of most of the economy) is established. Harry Reid's new proposal for a separate 'green grid' is an almost perfect example of this sort of thing, but the idea of regulating carbon dioxide emmissions through the EPA is an excellent one as well.

Keep in mind that any tax or regulation approach to AGW (presuming for a moment that it really exists) essentially gives the government the ability to 'pick winners' in the economy to a much greater degree than any time in the past. Ironically, we have seen a superb example of this sort of behavior in the EU, as protected industries are spared any real pain in the EU's cap and trade approach by providing them with overly generous allocation of credits. Does anyone want to seriously dispute that ANY government (Dem, Rep, or other) once given such an enormously potent economic lever, would foreswear using it to reward it's friends and punish its enemies?

With all of that said, I also agree that the notion of governments using a carbon tax (or other revenue raiser linked to AGW) as a revenue source first and means of coping with AGW as a (very distant) second is not only quite credible, but forms the basis for a significant resistance to many of the clarion calls fo the AGW cult.

Fat Man said at March 6, 2009 8:42 AM:

Most AGW believers do not embrace nuclear power and electrification* nor do they insist on revenue neutrality for any carbon tax or cap and trade system. To me that is proof that they believe in AGW as a scare tactic to enact their policy preferences, not because they they have studied the science and believe that world is warming, and that a warmer world would be harmful to men.

As Glenn Reynolds says, I will believe that AGW is a crisis when the AGW proponents start acting like it is a crisis.

*by this I mean replacing fossil fuels with electricity as the vector of energy for use in homes, offices, factories, and rail transit. I continue to believe that BEVs will never be economical or practical replacements for ICE powered automobiles.

David Govett said at March 6, 2009 10:18 AM:

Those dollars taxed from us by hard-left, spend-and-tax liberals might have been invested in the biotechnology and nanotechnology industries by investors. Instead, they will be taxed from potential investors and given to non-investors. Worry not, however, even though we and our children won't be able to enjoy the longer, healthier life promised by the two technologies, our grandchildren might, if they will be able to afford the pricey biotech and nanotech products of the capitalist Chinese.

jim said at March 6, 2009 10:33 AM:

Environmentalism is just a quack religion. Scum like Obama and Gore want to restructure society at the point of a gun and impose their anti-humanity utopian ideals of green social justice on the rest of us.

Most of the enviro-scum are rich anyway, so doubling or tripling energy costs isn't a big deal to them. They don't care what kind of pain they inflich on the rest of us.

Nick G said at March 6, 2009 12:01 PM:

Wow. Amazing comments.

Anyone defending conservative critics of global warming really has to deal with the basic dishonesty of rejecting the science because it might lead to policies that the critic dislikes.

Personally, I think this resistance has much more to do with resistance from people in the industry who's careers would be hurt. This ranges from assembly line workers and roughnecks to automotive and chemical engineers. And, you've got to give them respect and compassion: they're people, and deserve to be helped as much as possible during a necessary transition away from oil.

Until we find a way to help these people, they're going to desperately fight any proposals to transition away from their industries, by honest attacks or dishonest: whatever works. You can't really blame them: they're just trying to protect their lives and families.

Nick G said at March 6, 2009 12:04 PM:

" I continue to believe that BEVs will never be economical or practical replacements for ICE powered automobiles."

Perhaps not. But, who cares? PHEVs like the Chevy Volt will eliminate 90% of fuel consumption, with no compromises.

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Walter A said at March 6, 2009 1:35 PM:

This called to my mind some of Edward Hoagland's essay in the March Harper's:
" ... the major wars of our epoch in retrospect will not have occurred in such places as Iraq but against the splendid diversities of nature, with no armistice planned or system invented for winding it down. Democracy seems no better suited than dictatorship to saving rainforests because money talks in both, and from generation to generation, rearguard battles against the devastation have been handed off. Each decisive loss is going to be forever and for keeps;"

Wun Who Nose said at March 6, 2009 1:40 PM:

"Personally, I think this resistance has much more to do with resistance from people in the industry who's careers would be hurt. This ranges from assembly line workers and roughnecks to automotive and chemical engineers. And, you've got to give them respect and compassion: they're people, and deserve to be helped as much as possible during a necessary transition away from oil."

Don't know about the assembly and auto workers, but for Chemical Engineers, reduction of greenhouse gases is gonna be a golden age for the profession. Biofuels, fuel cells, nuclear power, carbon sequestration all involve more chemical/process engineering R&D, and building of plants and retirement of old technologies. There are a heck of a lot of Professors of Chemical Engineering now with consulting gigs at the Sand Hill Road VCs. Go back to 1997-2000, and a VC would have laughed at them as being in a sunset industry.

"If proposals from the Left for cutting CO2 emissions came with tax changes that were revenue neutral I think the ideological divisions over global warming would lessen."

You're not going to get revenue-neutral options because, at least for the U.S., we were running deficits of 5% of GDP. Typical deficits run 1-2% of GDP (which, in real terms, is running a surplus). Taxes have to go up, and carbon taxes are a virtuous way of doing it.

Those above who use their killa mind-reading skillz to discount AGW are fooling themselves. The energy companies certainly aren't. As long as five years ago, you couldn't find any technical person working in R&D at Chevron who didn't accept AGW. Why? Because they understood the science, and also understood the costs are small across the whole economy (0.5-2% of GDP). Now, some sectors are going to take it in the pants, but that's no reason for us to elevate their PR over the opinion of 97% of climatologists*.

* According to a recent poll in the Geophysical journal Eos.

Nick G said at March 6, 2009 2:15 PM:

"Democracy seems no better suited than dictatorship to saving rainforests because money talks in both"

That's not quite fair to democracy: we haven't seen nearly as much of it in the US (or, indeed, other countries) as would be ideal. IOW, democracy might work, but money manages to kill it stillborn.

"Chemical Engineers, reduction of greenhouse gases is gonna be a golden age for the profession...a heck of a lot of Professors of Chemical Engineering now with consulting gigs "

Interesting. I suspect that this kind of thing is much more attractive to students and professors than it is to engineeers with 10-20 years of experience, who've attained high salaries in large companies due to their narrow expertise in a particular area, in that company. For them, I suspect any change which threatens their company threatens them personally.

What do you think?

Jim said at March 6, 2009 2:37 PM:

Global warming hasn’t been seen for the past ten years and over the past two years we have witnessed global cooling. This in spite of the fact that CO2 levels have continued to increased these past 10 years.

So why do we hear so much about global warming?

Whenever an anti-global warming research paper comes out, the AGW crowd yell that this scientist has been corrupted by evil corporate money. Al Gore estimates that about 10 million dollars per year is spent by fossil fuel companies on sceptic research and this corrupts the findings.

But the US government has spent $30 billion dollars on research on global warming over the last six years. This represents 500 times as much being spent by the US government as the fossil fuel industry is spending. This doesn’t include funding from the UN, foundations, universities, foreign governments, etc, or Al Gore himself who is spending $100 million on a PR compaign to convince us all that Anthropogenic Global Warming is happening. In fact, the basic tactic Nick G. is taking is probably right, but he has the wrong side. It is the proponents of AGW who resist reality. How often have you heard, Global Warming is happening and its worst than we feared. Nonsense.

And why are so many governments supporting the concept of global warming? In the latest figures from the current administration, they plan to tax carbon emisions to the tune of $80 billion per year. This is a win/win situation for the government, scientists and “green” companies. The only losers in this is science itself and the taxpayer.

th said at March 6, 2009 4:20 PM:

"Those above who use their killa mind-reading skillz to discount AGW are fooling themselves. The energy companies certainly aren't. As long as five years ago, you couldn't find any technical person working in R&D at Chevron who didn't accept AGW. Why? Because they understood the science, and also understood the costs..."
Headquartered in ca has its drawbacks, besides being in a state that will constantly face fiscal crisis until it is finally forced to meet its maker, liberal stupidity, chevron understandably has a higher weighting of liberal idiots in its staffing. BP's over 10 yr old beyond petroleum shtick is just that, they both still sell oil products and nothing else. Chavez's Citgo along with the russians are laughing at the leftist literati elitist fruitcakes in europe and US at their silliness that 100 year old technology is somehow now better because its what they want. Only a handful of earth fairies from ca does not make a consortium of oil cos. for windmills. I'd actually love to see all the remaining large oil producers left headquartered in the US, leave, go to china or wherever, just get the hell out of here and take all of their production with them, and we'll see how your battery shit goes over.

th said at March 6, 2009 4:57 PM:

"Interesting. I suspect that this kind of thing is much more attractive to students and professors than it is to engineeers with 10-20 years of experience, who've attained high salaries in large companies due to their narrow expertise in a particular area, in that company. For them, I suspect any change which threatens their company threatens them personally.

What do you think?"

I agree 100%, Hansen and his gang of highly-salaried liars are a perfect example. Extremism in the defense of agw extremism is no vice, is it? Nowhere has cap and trade ever reduced anything by any amount, it never will reduce CO2 emissions at all in any instance, its simply what you get when the health care freebies for all generation elects democrat party nutcases, what do you think?
BTW, one solution to the deficit might be to nominate every democrat to a cabinet position, they'll like the fact they get no penalty.

Wun who nose said at March 6, 2009 8:41 PM:
Global warming hasn’t been seen for the past ten years and over the past two years we have witnessed global cooling. This in spite of the fact that CO2 levels have continued to increased these past 10 years.

Really. Let's see how the 5-year averages are trending,eh? Wouldn't want to use noisy data.

"Headquartered in ca has its drawbacks, besides being in a state that will constantly face fiscal crisis until it is finally forced to meet its maker, liberal stupidity, chevron understandably has a higher weighting of liberal idiots in its staffing. "

It's unfortunate that you think that stream-of-semiconciousness ad-hominem constituted an argument.

Wun who nose said at March 6, 2009 8:53 PM:

"Interesting. I suspect that this kind of thing is much more attractive to students and professors than it is to engineeers with 10-20 years of experience, who've attained high salaries in large companies due to their narrow expertise in a particular area, in that company. For them, I suspect any change which threatens their company threatens them personally."

Well, you'd be wrong. I chaired a section of the AIChE, and there was more concern about the slowing growth of the chemical industry domestically because of the growth of capacity overseas (and hence decline in exports) than anything to do with the environment, and the stagnation of investment in new technology in refining and chemicals. The attitude of the Chevron folks was that they were still going to be around regardless of what new platforms of technology occurred; although it was premature to bet on one particular technology (like BP has done on biofuels from synthetic biology).

C3H Editor said at March 6, 2009 8:55 PM:

Unfortunately, for the cap & trade advocates, the science behind AGW theory has been extraordinarily weak. The theory has no scientific proof, no empirical validation. To rub salt in the wound, the correlation between CO2 and temperatures has been negative over the last 10 years. So, as a result, the inadequate science has created a populace that just does not believe Al Gore et al. Why should we pay higher taxes to enrich special interests, like Gore, who are not really interested in "saving the world?"

Instead of the Gore approach, many of us would willing work with the Bjorn Lomborg approach www.copenhagenconsensus.com). As an admirer of Lomborg, I certainly wish more would listen to his common sense. There are problems we can solve as humans, and there are those we can't. Changing the global climate is one we can't. Nature can change the climate, and is doing so; but humans are totally incapable of doing so on a global scale. Heck, we can't even stop the rain; can't stop the fog; can't stop the snow; can't stop the hail; can't stop the clouds; can't stop the ocean currents; can't stop lightning; can't stop tornados; can't stop floods; can't stop droughts; can't stop hurricanes; and, etc. Despite our failures of stopping even the tiniest of weather incidents, there are those who actually believe we can stop (mitigate) global climate change.

Smart people recognize the limits of what individuals and society can humanly solve, and then produce management,
adaption, and coping strategies that deal with the associated problems within those limits. In contrast, their counterparts, instead of adapting, proceed to create grandiose battle plans to win, which we have come to know as "Wars": War On Poverty, War on Cancer; War on Drugs; War on Terror; and, every other "War" that has been proclaimed by a politician. All these "Wars" have ultimately failed, while totally mis-allocating resources away from solvable problems. History does repeat itself, and we are witnessing that because the environmental ideologues now demand a War on Climate Change. This endeavor will fail, like all the previous ones, and we will be poorer as a society all because an incredible tiny minority of people want this war.

Like I said before, I wish more people would listen to Lomborg so we can avoid repeating this type of failed history. Instead of spending money on the pursuit of the "Holy Grail" lets invest in solutions that actually deal with solvable problems.

BTW, come visit us at www.c3headlines.com for a "skeptical" view.

C3H Editor

Randall Parker said at March 6, 2009 10:24 PM:

Nick G says,

Anyone defending conservative critics of global warming really has to deal with the basic dishonesty of rejecting the science because it might lead to policies that the critic dislikes.

One also has to deal with the dishonesty of supporters of carbon taxes who translate theories and probabilities into certainties. Seems like there's plenty of dishonesty (and ignorance) to go around.

Very few people have the intellectual abilities and training and knowledge to evaluate the evidence. We lack the technology to run simulations complicated enough to predict long term climate trends. We lack the ability to predict long term trends in CO2 emissions absent taxes and regulations. We might advance so far in the next 20 years that solving the problem 20 years from now will become far cheaper.

But to get back to my original point: If the Left didn't treat global warming as an opportunity to expand the size of government the Right would see the Left as more sincere about global warming.

Scott said at March 6, 2009 10:39 PM:

Ah yes, once again the voice of 'reason' tells us that we should just shut up and accept the 'scientific consensus' that AGW is real. All of those unanswered questions and pesky inconsistencies belong in the 'pay no attention to that man behind the curtain' category, and of course anyone who disagrees is obviously someone with an axe to grind.

Nick, I am in a field that would benefit enormously from government imposed limits on carbon consumption, and my own personal position within that industry puts me in an especially prime location. With that said, I reject any attempt to sign away my freedoms in the face of ill-defined, poorly supported threats pushed by zealots who find any demands that they actually prove their assertions beyond the pale. The very notion that I am attempting to 'deny the science' is typical of the AGW alarmist attempts to wish away all that uncomfortable skepticism that is indeed the very essence of science.

It seems to me that there are several questions that the AGW zealots need to answer:

1) Is global warming actually occuring?
2) Is global warming harmful?
3) Is global warming in whole or in large part the result of human activity?
4) Is reducing global warming the only (or the best) way to cope with it?
5) Can global warming be reduced?
6) Can global warming be reduced in such a way that the costs of doing so are less than or equal to other alternatives (i.e. opportunity costs)?

Only if the answer to all six of these questions is 'yes' (and remember, these answers should include details and evidence, not simply arm-waving and ad homenim attacks) would the perscriptions provided by the AGW crowd (cap and trade, carbon taxes, etc.) be acceptable, and even then there might be some room for the argument that the basic freedoms threatened by such actions might be worth more than the potential losses from catastrophic global warming. Simply announcing that there is a 'consensus' (I didn't realize that science was consensus based...how unfortunate that so many great minds in the past wasted their time bucking various consensuses...had they only known...) and that the time has come to fall into line is not going to cut it.

As C3H pointed out above, Lomborg offers a more palatable, and ultimately more effective approach. I may not agree with Lomborg's view that AGW is real (say, questions 1 - 3), but of course reasonable people can disagree and debate..who knows, I might even be convinced with time and evidence. Clearly though, Lomborg would provide a ringing 'NO' to question 4, and possible 6 as well. Randall offers some thoughts on question 5 in numerous places on this blog, so I believe that we can agree that a considerable range of responsible opinions exist...hardly a consensus.

As a final thought, why do liberals worship diversity except when a diversity of thought is the subject?

Scott

Lilly said at March 7, 2009 8:11 AM:

We're in a cooling period now. They just want to tax us to raise revenue. Wake up people.

The 'science is settle' thing was just to shut up the critics.

Dana H. said at March 7, 2009 8:28 AM:

Given where the bulk of our energy comes from, and will for the foreseeable future despite environmentalist fantasies concerning alternative energies, a tax on carbon is a tax on human life.

A good article on the subject here: http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=22651&news_iv_ctrl=1021

Mike Kelley said at March 7, 2009 8:47 AM:

One of the nuttiest things about the global warming scam is the terrible quality of the original data. Anthony Watts is doing what should have been done before any claims about warming or cooling were made. He is physically visiting all the weather stations in this country to see if they meet any of the NOAA's own standards. Most do not. He has found sensors that have been corrupted by urban sprawl, AC systems nearby, moves next to concrete and asphalt, and even some up on roofs. Around 1990, a lot of stations were dropped out. Many of these were rural sites that were much less apt to be in "urban heat islands". You can look for yourself at http://www.surfacestations.org/http://wattsupwiththat.com/
The "GISS" data you reference above is now being looked at as an outlier by many students of climate. It comes from NASA's Goddard, which is run by Al Gore's buddy James Hansen. The recent cooling that is talked about refers more to satellite data, and Hansen is in the strange position of telling us to ignore the satellites and trust his ground data. The irony of a NASA guy saying this is pretty rich.

William R. Casey, PE said at March 7, 2009 9:06 AM:

Two disturbing questions concerning the rush to reduce CO2 emissions are: Did the Warmists decide that CO2 is the culprit and then bend their data to that conclusion instead of gathering all available data and then drawing a conclusion? And when are we going to honestly separate alternative energy sources into two catagories, renewable, e.g. crops and biomass; and reoccuring, e.g. wind and solar. There is a big difference since sun and wind based power will need back-up since they can't be replaced when not available, an expensive support facility. Renewables are said to be more readily available, but, around the world,agricultural food shortages are still widespread. Crops for fuel or for food? These aspects are only lightly touched by ecoactivists and in the debate in general, but are major concerns that should be more fully addressed.

Sam said at March 7, 2009 9:33 AM:

How can CO2 taxes ever be revenue neutral when the entire AGW fraud is about wealth and power transfer in the first place? What a joke. The author seems to lack a basic understanding of what's going on.

Ironman said at March 7, 2009 9:35 AM:

OK. Let's go nuclear. Wait. Obama has just shut down Yuca Mt. as a disposal site for the radio-active waste from plants. Where are we bury this stuff. Well if the enviro wackos have their way...NOWHERE ..cause there will be no nuclear facilities producing electricity

gjg said at March 7, 2009 10:18 AM:

But the real issue is global warming. There is a great disconnect between the way cities and rural sites are warming. Actually, rural sites are not warming and the data is tainted by the Urban Heat Island effect. And don't day that those readings are allowed for in the calculations because you can't do that accurately.

Look at a very simple but elegant data analysis. Even a 5th grader can understand it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcsvaCPYgcI

gjg

Nick G said at March 7, 2009 11:14 AM:

Randall,

"One also has to deal with the dishonesty of supporters of carbon taxes who translate theories and probabilities into certainties."

I think it's reasonable to translate "very likely" into a working assumption, especially when the associated costs of the probable outcome are high. Don't you agree that GW is "very likely", and that the associated costs of the probable outcome are high?

"If the Left didn't treat global warming as an opportunity to expand the size of government "

Why is the Left important? Isnt' the judgement of 97% of climatologists the important thing? Do you see any evidence that has been warped?

"I reject any attempt to sign away my freedoms "

How is a carbon tax an attack on freedoms? I see it as simply good accounting: internalizing external costs.

"I didn't realize that science was consensus based"

Would you agree that there is a scientific consensus that humans evolved through natural selection? Isn't it a reasonable thing to say "I assume that evolution is an accurate description of reality, because there is a scientific consensus on the matter."?

I'm baffled by this. I agree with Randall that it's hard for even the most informed layman to evaluate climate science: I don't see why we don't trust the climatologists. Further, I think that a simple carbon tax combined with a 100% per-capita rebate is the sensible alternative to Cap and Trade, into which the Right should put all of it's muscle.

No one has offered any evidence against my proposition that GW denial is primarily caused by people's fear for their careers and investments. For evidence for this proposition, just look at the Partnership for New Generation Vehicles, started under Clinton. It was focused and only moderately costly (about $1B, which is relatively very cheap), it was successful in developing a high-efficiency hybrid (it sparked the Prius), and yet the Bush admin killed it within seconds of being in office - clearly that action was at the behest of the car industry, which wanted the status quo. Similarly, look at the advocacy of people like Rep. Dingell for the car industry - he's a Democrat, but that didn't matter: he was fighting for his constituents.

Finally, I don't understand why everyone seems to think that reducing CO2 emissions would be enormously costly: $200B per year in wind turbine (or nuclear, if that's your thing) construction over 10 years would replace coal completely - the net costs would be much less, as new coal plants are just as capital-intensive as wind (or nuclear), and even dirty old coal plants cost something to fuel and operate. Plug-in hybrids would cost no more than current vehicles (the Prius costs $4K less than the average light vehicle, so adding a larger battery would only bring it up to the average). It seems like a tempest in a teacup, to me - the only explanation I can understand is that we're seeing (primarily) desperate opposition from people in the coal, oil & gas, and car industries because it would hurt them personally. And, as I said, I don't think we should judge them too harshly for that...we just shouldn't believe their arguments.

Charlie said at March 7, 2009 11:32 AM:

Nick G: "the basic dishonesty of rejecting the science"

What science? I'm sympathetic to the notion. After all, they laughed at Velikovsky, Muir, Wegener and others, but at least those gentlemen gave us conclusions that could be put to the test. Their concepts of catastrophism, glaciation and plate tectonics were largely substantiated by subsequent investigation.

But that's not happening with global warming including its more specific anthropogenic form or even in its watered-down (to account for our recent spate of cooler weather) "climate change" form. If it is, then point me to the models that are accurately predicting weather and climate near-term or in the past the way we have been able to do with those other controversial constructs.

They don't exist. They don't exist because it's all poorly understood still (very complex systems, after all). But the two things that climate doomsayers have most tried to hang their case on--ice core CO2 concentrations and the statistical hockey-stick CO2 rise prediction--have been categorically shown to be in error.

Indeed, we're at 384 parts per million CO2 concentration today following a linear (go figure) rise of 1.4 ppm per year since 1972. Atmospheric sampling over the past 15 decades (much more accurate than ice-core sampling) has showed concentrations of 415 ppm and higher at (if I recall correctly) three different stretches in that span. That fact doesn't tell the story that climate warmists want to tell. Neither does the fact that the warming of the 1300s led to vineyards around London, agricultural bounty, the building of the great cathedrals and other increases in prosperity (the lush forests of some earlier epochs came with naturally occurring concentrations of 1500 to 3000 ppm of the CO2 that plant life adores). The same lack of fit goes for the article I read as a young science editor in the mid-70s that claimed, based on historical climatology, that we were approaching the end of a 60-year period of the most ideal weather of the entire Holocene and would soon be entering a *more normal* pattern of warmer summers and colder winters... HEY, just what we're seeing, only CO2 played no part in their model.

There is no settled science of large-scale climate change much beyond being able to say that change is all that climate ever does. Claiming that such science exists would be the dishonesty.

Randall Parker said at March 7, 2009 11:40 AM:

Nick,

A working assumption is not a certainty. I think the public should be told that there are large sources of error in climate models.

Probabilities: What number do you assign to "very likely"? .7? .8? .9?

GW denial: I think part of the denial flows from who believes it (leaving aside some scientists) and what they want to do about it. Proposals for massive tax increases to deal with it make people (rightly) suspicious.

Nick, listen to yourself when you say this:

Finally, I don't understand why everyone seems to think that reducing CO2 emissions would be enormously costly

You just read my post. Obama is aiming at a half trillion a year in tax revenue from reducing CO2 emissions just 10 years from now and likely much higher as the restrictions become more severe. Sounds costly to me. I'm all for cheaper ways to deal with the problem.

I do not buy this either:

we're seeing (primarily) desperate opposition from people in the coal, oil & gas, and car industries because it would hurt them personally.

Most of the AGW deniers on this thread probably don't work in any of those industries. As for desperate deniers in the auto industry: One of the engineers I know at an American car company tells me they can live with higher MPG standards as long as the demand is there from customers for more fuel efficient cars. They fear that the demand won't be there for higher fuel efficiency. I tell him Peak Oil will assure the higher demand for great leaps in fuel efficiency though obviously not this year.

I think most of the opposition stems from a very large number of people not wanting to pay more for heating oil, natural gas, electricity, gasoline, diesel, airplane tickets, plastic products, and everything else that has an energy content.

Paul A'Barge said at March 7, 2009 11:46 AM:

"If proposals from the Left for cutting CO2 emissions came with tax changes that were revenue neutral"

bwah hah hah hah!!

That right there, that's a good 'un.

Charlie said at March 7, 2009 11:57 AM:

Nick G: "Isnt' the judgement of 97% of climatologists the important thing?"

Judgment is useful for arriving at scientific conclusions, but science doesn't vote. Conclusions are formed by objective demonstrability, not judgment.

Your 97% figure is bogus and derived, I believe, from a group-think conference a few years back of bureaucrats from the UN and NGOs around the world with a funding stake in global warming.

I'll buy you a steak dinner (or vegan if you prefer) if you can point me to anything that indicates that even half of front-line scientific climatologists are convinced that anthropogenic global warming is even a research priority.

San Dalman said at March 7, 2009 12:17 PM:

I have to say before I start, that I am impressed with (for the most part) the level of discourse on the subject here. Some very interesting points have been made which I have been mulling over.


But to get back to my original point: If the Left didn't treat global warming as an opportunity to expand the size of government the Right would see the Left as more sincere about global warming.

From my perspective, the "left" never treated climate change as anything but a problem which required a solution. Given the fact that the left generally believes that government can be a responsible actor, its no surprise that the left-wing solution involves government regulation. That left-wingers came up with a left-wing solution is perfectly usual, and is hardly reason to believe climate change is a hoax to raise taxes. The carbon tax and cap-and-trade solutions are just that - solutions to a problem. If there are other effective solutions out there conservatives prefer, I'd think that environmentalists would be incredibly happy to hear it - it would end all this foot-dragging and we could fix this problem.

It gets worse. If you buy into the pro-policy standpoint (that we need to do something about anthropogenic carbon emissions), and support it with the perspective I've just offered, our future is going to be one of anthropogenic carbon emissions that can't be reduced because the government is too dependent on them as a source of stable revenue. This is going to be just like tobacco: government will end up subsidizing oil companies to drill, refine and sell oil, so that they can tax consumers under the guise of environmental protection, and skim off enough of that cash flow to continue the subsidization scheme, and so on.

The is a very interesting point, and its (always) worth keeping watch over the government. But let me ask you - why would a government (in a quest to increase revenue through taxation) SPEND revenue to repay the companies it taxes? If your carbon taxes cost (and I'm making this # up) 10 million a year on industry, and you pay out 10 million a year to ensure these companies continue to pollute, where's the benefit to government? Granted, there's a definate possibility that the oil industry will be subsidized in the future, but most likely out of the usual kind of corruption rather than as some sort of hide-the-tax sceme.

Note too that the government already heavily subsidizes the oil industy (though Obama is apparantly trying to end this, which I applaud).


Does anyone want to seriously dispute that ANY government (Dem, Rep, or other) once given such an enormously potent economic lever, would foreswear using it to reward it's friends and punish its enemies?

In theory, the government won't have much control over this once the system goes into effect. Under the carbon tax system, the amount you pollute is the amount you pay. Under the cap-and-trade system, you either buy credits at market price, or at the government's "safety valve" price, which is stable. Its understandable to be concerned that factory X will be pegged at an unfair rate, but this is just as likely due to industry fraud as it is government corruption - and its not a good excuse to scrap the system because of the potential for a few bad eggs (if anything, its an argument for better oversight funding). If it functions anything like other environmental regulations, the system will function fairly smoothly.

Regarding revenue neutrality - I don't particularly care whether its revenue-neutral or not, because all I'm concerned about is the reduction in greenhouse gases. If the tax ends up going 100% into a tax rebate fund, or into investing in green tech or something like that, I think I probably support that.

Regarding the "10-year decrease" in temperatures fallacy - and this is everywhere these days - this graph pretty clearly shows what's wrong with the statement. (thanks for the link, other guy with the graph)

Regarding Lomborg - I respect the man for what he's trying to do, but his conclusions are based on old and cherry-picked cost models and old data. His costs are high-balled, his harms are low-balled and he is primarily a political player. Lomborg's partners from his copenhagen consensus project have since turned against him, and the vast majority of scientists disagree with his findings on an individual basis. He fails to take into account scientific uncertainty in anything but his ideologically preferred direction, and also fails to take into effect the synergy between climate change and the other problems he outlines. I like that he tries to figure out what problems are the most cost-effective to solve, but he's simply doing it wrong.

San Dalman said at March 7, 2009 12:27 PM:
Your 97% figure is bogus and derived, I believe, from a group-think conference a few years back of bureaucrats from the UN and NGOs around the world with a funding stake in global warming.

I'll buy you a steak dinner (or vegan if you prefer) if you can point me to anything that indicates that even half of front-line scientific climatologists are convinced that anthropogenic global warming is even a research priority.

Actually, its from a January 2009 survey of climatologists. Here's the link:
http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf

Money quote:

In our survey, the most specialized and knowledgeable respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change (79 individuals in total). Of these specialists, 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2.

Do I get a steak dinner?

Marwick said at March 7, 2009 1:29 PM:

Global warming is a political movement. Seeing Hillary say that "never waste a good crisis" to justify wasting money on a global warming crisis that doesn't even exist, is ridiculous.

Bart said at March 7, 2009 2:19 PM:

Some random statements and responses:

"PHEVs like the Chevy Volt will eliminate 90% of fuel consumption."

And, repeal the laws of thermodyanmics! It's a win-win!

"If there are other effective solutions out there conservatives prefer, I'd think that environmentalists would be incredibly happy to hear it."

There isn't a cost-effective solution for AGW. But, there are cost-effective solutions for far more immediate and serious problems which are being crowded out by the quixotic and anal-retentive quest for absolute CO2 purity.

"'Global warming hasn’t been seen for the past ten years and over the past two years we have witnessed global cooling. This in spite of the fact that CO2 levels have continued to increased these past 10 years.'
Really. Let's see how the 5-year averages are trending,eh? Wouldn't want to use noisy data."

Your chart shows a distinct downturn in the 5 year average in recent years. As a lagging indicator (2.5 year phase delay to be precise), the moving average appears to indicate we have experienced a significant drop in temperatures which are completely contrary to all the AGW models.

"In our survey, the most specialized and knowledgeable respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change (79 individuals in total). Of these specialists, 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2."

It is reasonably axiomatic that those who have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change derive more than 50% of their income from the perception that there is a climate emergency. This is like polling Tobacco Institute scientists on the relation of smoking to cancer.

AGW is founded on very shaky ground by people who cannot fathom that our CO2 generation, prodigious as it is, is merely a drop in the bucket of overall CO2 production, and a tiny mote in the sea of all contributors to climate variation. The fact that higher mean temperatures and concentrations of CO2 have coincided at several instances in the historic climate record ipso facto rules out the case for destabilizing positive feedback leading to a runaway greenhouse. And without such hypothesized destabilizing feedback built into their models, the AGW believers have no basis for their faith in catastrophic consequences.

Nick G said at March 7, 2009 3:00 PM:

Randall,

" I think the public should be told that there are large sources of error in climate models. "

First, this isn't a good premise. What I see is reporting that exaggerates the uncertanties, using the "false balance" model, like the following: "scientists today reported evidence for evolution. This was contested by a representative of the Intelligent Design Think Tank".

2nd, let's forget the public, and the "Left" and the "Right": what do the scientists say?

"Probabilities: What number do you assign to "very likely"? .7? .8? .9? "

I think the probability of rising CO2 is .999; of anthropogenic causes of rising CO2 is .98; and very large harm is .95. Heck, serious acidification of the oceans is enough harm, right?

What do you think?

" I think part of the denial flows from who believes it (leaving aside some scientists) "

How can you leave aside "some scientists"????

" Proposals for massive tax increases to deal with it make people (rightly) suspicious."

That's intellectually dishonest of them, and slightly paranoid. It's similar to an ultra-religious person feeling that evolution advocates are just trying to corrupt their kids and destroy their religion. Bottom line: it's ad hominem and without evidence. Some may believe it, but I think they're being dishonest with themselves and us. Some, like Limbaugh (a former sports journalist, I believe), don't realy look like they believe it at all - it looks like they're just saying whatever their audience will respond to.

"Obama is aiming at a half trillion a year in tax revenue from reducing CO2 emissions "

First, I think Cap and Trade is a terrible idea - rebated carbon taxes are infinitely better. The problem is, conservatives have poisoned the well on carbon taxes (Bush used it as a centerpiece of his attacks on Kerry), and so they look like an impossible sell. Frankly, I think the only people who are pushing carbon taxes as an alternative are those who think that C taxes are so unsalable that they'll kill the whole thing. Dingell did that, and I've noticed a few others doing the same. No one, who really wants a solution, is pushing C taxes, more's the pity. It's time for conservatives to get behind C taxes in a serious way.

2nd, tax revenue isn't a cost, it's a transfer. Like with the sulfur success story, the actual cost of mitigation will be much less.

"Most of the AGW deniers on this thread probably don't work in any of those industries. "

First, we have no information on that at all - we can't assume that.

2nd, much of the funding for these ideas has indeed come from these industries. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has gotten a lot of funding from coal companies, as has many other sources of these public ideas. There's been an enormous amount of disinformation over the years from various industry sources. Industry is spending a lot of money on PR and disinformation - $100's of millions.

"They fear that the demand won't be there for higher fuel efficiency."

Yes, this is a standard car industry talking point, now. It's perfectly legitimate, and is a very good justification for a carbon tax. OTOH, it's a fallback position from the industry's desperate opposition to rising CAFE standards. That opposition actually helped created the problem in the first place, by freezing the SUV loophole in place, which helped make "Sports" utility vehicles possible.

Finally, the car industry is the very best example of my argument: I have great sympathy for them, and I understand entirely why they fight efficiency standards so desperately - they're literally in a fight for their lives, and they need any advantage they can find. Personally, I think we should find ways to help them out, just as other countries do - much of their problems really are not of their making.

"I think most of the opposition stems from a very large number of people not wanting to pay more for heating oil, natural gas, electricity, gasoline, diesel, airplane tickets, plastic products, and everything else that has an energy content."

Possibly. I don't think this pressure is really coming from your average consumer, though; It doesn't really explain conservative pundits or think tanks; nor does it explain the Left-Right polarization, or the intellectual dishonesty.

Any system intended to make a difference will create winners and losers. I suspect that this primarily the potential losers speaking.

Bart said at March 7, 2009 3:08 PM:

"That opposition actually helped created the problem in the first place, by freezing the SUV loophole in place, which helped make "Sports" utility vehicles possible. "

Your logic is contortionist. What made SUVs possible was not the "freezing in place" of the loophole, but the creation of the loophole in the first place. And, how did that loophole come about? Through Congressional meddling that killed the family station wagon in a sublime demonstration of the law of unintended consequences. Your solution is to plug the loophole, in the vain conceit that you can obviate the laws of supply and demand without any other unintended consequences emerging.

"The more you tighten your grip, Governor Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."
- Princess Leia

"I think the probability of ... anthropogenic causes of rising CO2 is .98"

Hell, why not 2.3, as long as you're making up numbers?

Nick G said at March 7, 2009 3:25 PM:

""PHEVs like the Chevy Volt will eliminate 90% of fuel consumption." - And, repeal the laws of thermodyanmics! It's a win-win!"

A series hybrid plug-in like the Chevy Volt has only an electric motor. It uses only the battery for the first 40 miles. 78% of commuters wouldn't use any gas at all. Combine the first 40 miles with 50 MPG (twice as large as the average US light vehicle) for the 20% of driving after the battery runs low, and overall fuel consumption would be reduced by about 87% - A Volt would use about 20% as much fuel as a very efficient (35MPG) conventional car - that's 12.6% as much fuel as the average 22MPG car.

"It is reasonably axiomatic that those who have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change derive more than 50% of their income from the perception that there is a climate emergency. This is like polling Tobacco Institute scientists on the relation of smoking to cancer."

"axiomatic" isn't good enough. Do you have evidence that the judgement of all climatologists has been warped? Just like those biologists, who have the nerve to support the idea of evolution?

Nick G said at March 7, 2009 3:34 PM:

"What made SUVs possible was not the "freezing in place" of the loophole, but the creation of the loophole in the first place."

Any normal system of regulations evolves, as the industry it's regulating evolves. The car industry made that impossible.

And, how did that loophole come about? Through Congressional meddling"

Sure. Someone had to do something. Don't you agree that we'd be in infinitely greater trouble if average fuel efficiency was the same as it was in 1970?

"the vain conceit that you can obviate the laws of supply and demand without any other unintended consequences emerging."

I have no such conceit. It's just better than nothing. A higher gas tax would be much, much better, but that doesn't seem feasible, politically.

""I think the probability of ... anthropogenic causes of rising CO2 is .98" - Hell, why not 2.3, as long as you're making up numbers?"

Hey, Randall asked my personal opinion. I don't present myself as an expert - I think we should consult the experts, myself: the climatologists.

Charlie said at March 7, 2009 3:42 PM:

Sure, Sal, I'll take you out for a steak... and a chance to teach you to read.

Did you not notice that the survey you cite includes more PALEONTOLOGISTS than climatologists (FIVE% !!!)? And it was precisely to exclude the reasonably large "yes, but" crowd (yes, carbon output has to factor in, but can it really be that significant?) that I couched the bet in terms of "think AGW is even a research priority." "Oh, sure, it goes on" is a long way from "yeah, it goes on and it's significant," which is a real long way still from, "oh my God, we've got to wreck the economy or we're all doomed; DOOMED, I tell ya!"

Charlie said at March 7, 2009 4:05 PM:

Nick G: "I think the probability of anthropogenic causes of rising CO2 is .98."

If you've farted or sighed lately, you'd know the probably is 1.0. But here's the deal. The mechanism by which atmospheric CO2 captures solar energy of certain wavelengths is well understood. It's only a small fraction of the effect of water vapor, but the effect of water vapor is thought to be "feedback" with little or nothing meaningful to be done about it. CO2, otoh, is thought to be a causing agent of greenhouse effect. YET, when looked at on large scale, as in the very graphs Al Gore used in his movie to demonstrate the close correlation between atmospheric CO2 concentration and global warming, it turns out to be a LAGGING indicator, lagging by some 200 years in fact. Not a cause at all, in other words.

Obviously, we're not close enough to understanding climate change to model it. And this is before we even discuss the fluctuation of the thing that atmospheric CO2 is messing with... solar energy. There's a case to be made that we may want every bit of greenhouse effect we can get to stave off another ice age before long (a case that was made a coupla decades ago). And there is no way you know for sure that another ice age is not in the offing here.

Bart said at March 7, 2009 4:11 PM:
"A series hybrid plug-in like the Chevy Volt has only an electric motor. It uses only the battery for the first 40 miles."

Your second link is not to a PHEV - it's right there in the headline. It claims an improvement of the EREV over the PHEV based on use in the electric only mode, but there is no 90% figure bandied about. Both require a battery and, of course, the battery draws power from the air, requires no manufacturing, and lasts forever, so you got me there.

"Do you have evidence that the judgement of all climatologists has been warped?"

No, just the ones in your "survey".

"Don't you agree that we'd be in infinitely greater trouble if average fuel efficiency was the same as it was in 1970?"

False choice. I do not believe government intervention was necessary to effect this.

"I have no such conceit. It's just better than nothing."

How do you know it is better when you have not defined what "it" is? "Something" is bipolar, it can be better than nothing, or it can be worse. Kinda' like "Change".

Nick G said at March 7, 2009 4:51 PM:

"Your second link is not to a PHEV"

Sure - I mean EREV.

"there is no 90% figure bandied about"

True, you have to do some calculations. They say that a Volt would use about 20% as much fuel as a very efficient (35MPG) conventional car - that's 12.6% as much fuel as the average 22MPG car. That's an 87.4% reduction - I rounded to 90% for conversational purposes.

"the battery draws power from the air"

I said a fuel reduction.

"requires no manufacturing"

I'm not sure what you're getting at - are you suggesting that batteries take disporportionate energy to manufacture? Do you have data?

"and lasts forever,"

Just 10 miles/150,000 miles, as warranteed. At that point, you'd still have 40 mile range, but it might start dropping. I suspect that the buyer of a 10+ year old car would be ok with a 30 mile range.

"No, just the ones in your "survey"."

Not my survey. Do you disagree with the notion that climatologists overwhelmingly agree that GW is real and important?

"I do not believe government intervention was necessary to effect this."

Really?? You feel that new car EPA MPG would have risen to roughly 27 MPG and then stayed there, without intervention? Even though gas prices were relatively low during most of the time since about 1985? Even now I read comments from car company execs, in which they blame CAFE standards for not being able to sell as many cars of the types they would have preferred in the last couple of decades.

"you have not defined what "it" is"

I meant substantially higher MPG than we had in the early 70's.

Al said at March 7, 2009 4:56 PM:

Good post, but "a half trillion dollars a year" seems like a mistake - the $525.7 billion seems to be the sum total for the years from 2012 to 2019.

Bart said at March 7, 2009 5:05 PM:
"True, you have to do some calculations. They say that a Volt would use about 20% as much fuel as a very efficient (35MPG) conventional car - that's 12.6% as much fuel as the average 22MPG car. That's an 87.4% reduction - I rounded to 90% for conversational purposes."

That's the reduction in gasoline consumption, not energy.

"I'm not sure what you're getting at - are you suggesting that batteries take disporportionate energy to manufacture? Do you have data?"

They require a lot of energy, and the manufacture generates toxic wastes. There is no free lunch.

"Just 10 miles/150,000 miles [sic], as warranteed. At that point, you'd still have 40 mile range, but it might start dropping. I suspect that the buyer of a 10+ year old car would be ok with a 30 mile range."

We'll see as they go into service and the statistical database becomes significant.

"Do you disagree with the notion that climatologists overwhelmingly agree that GW is real and important?"

I disagree that it has been accurately quantified by bogus cherry-picking polls.

"You feel that new car EPA MPG would have risen to roughly 27 MPG and then stayed there, without intervention?"

No, I believe with reliable higher profits, the car companies would have plowed more money into research, and we might be far beyond that mark with cars that people actually want by now. This is the problem with the hilariously misnamed "progressives". They don't believe in progress. They want to divide a static pie in portions they find pleasing, rather than growing the pie to benefit all.

"I meant substantially higher MPG than we had in the early 70's.

No, you meant laws to compel substantially higher MPG than we had in the early 70's under penalty of the full weight of government sanctions.

JimF said at March 7, 2009 5:08 PM:

How did the GW alarmists figure that at this point in history, right now, is the ideal temerature of the earth? Now who is playin God? No one talks about the benefits of warming, like expanded growing seasons. Why have the earlyest remnants of man been found in some of the warmer places on earth? Changes in nature are never all good or all bad. How do the chicken littles explain co2 readings up to eight times higher than they now millions of years ago? (Crustaceous period) Why were scientists so sure of global cooling in the 70`s? And if it is true, why try to fix it if China and India are exempt from the rules? How did early man, with little intellect and zero technology , survive the ice age? That "climate change" brought us here where we are now, so is that not good? What caused the the warming period of the middle ages when temps were higher than they are now? Why did temps go down from 1940-1975 when greenhouse gases were exploding? And why is the about 1 degree c. change in temps in the 20th century connected to the greatest advancement in living standards, life expectancy, food production and human health in the history of the earth? And again, if all true, that we are warming from the proceeding ice age, isn`t that like saying be afraid because summer is much warmer than winter? Why have we been cooling for the last several years? Why has Al Gore refused to debate anybody in public on GW all these years, other that he`s an idiot? Well, i just answered my own question- he doesn`t because he must know himself that he`s an idiot. Sure, this certainly sounds like settled science. And not one dollar should be spent until these and many other questions are answered.

Bart said at March 7, 2009 5:37 PM:
"That's the reduction in gasoline consumption, not energy."

I must depart, so let me explain that a bit to non-engineering lay people.

Energy comes in many forms. The energy input needed to accelerate a 1000 lb mass is the same, no matter its source. A hybrid vehicle gains efficiency by transforming some of the kinetic energy back into electrically stored energy during braking. However, the conversion process necessarily produces losses, so it isn't all that substantial. The total energy required to operate a direct internal combustion engine powered vehicle of comparable size, weight, and power is virtually identical on the open road where there are few starts and stops or substantial braking due to hills.

For plug-ins, the energy must be transmitted from an electricity generating station, which derives its energy from coal, hydro, nuclear, and natural gas. Coal is dirty and CO2 intensive. Hydro is nice, but environmentalists won't let anymore be built because of their effect on aquatic ecosystems. Nuclear - I don't think I need to go into that. And, natural gas is, of course, just another fossil fuel.

Electrical generators are very efficient, so there is some savings there, but not really all that much because of substantial line losses in transmission. When everything is factored in, the overall benefit from electrical and hybrid electrical vehicles is quite modest.

With that, let us delve into what Nick said here:

"that's 12.6% as much fuel as the average 22MPG car"

That's 12.6% as much gasoline. You are comparing apples to bowling balls. In the first place, there are ICE vehicles which get 50 mpg which are just as comfortable and safe as your plug-in hybrid, and when you factor in the energy derived from electrical power plants, and the losses therein, you will find you are gaining only a marginal improvement.

On a side note, my Hummer H3 gets 20 mpg. Let's see which one of us survives when a drunk driver plows into us head on.

San Dalman said at March 7, 2009 7:39 PM:
Sure, Sal, I'll take you out for a steak... and a chance to teach you to read.

Did you not notice that the survey you cite includes more PALEONTOLOGISTS than climatologists (FIVE% !!!)? And it was precisely to exclude the reasonably large "yes, but" crowd (yes, carbon output has to factor in, but can it really be that significant?) that I couched the bet in terms of "think AGW is even a research priority." "Oh, sure, it goes on" is a long way from "yeah, it goes on and it's significant," which is a real long way still from, "oh my God, we've got to wreck the economy or we're all doomed; DOOMED, I tell ya!"

Well I figured I wasn't getting a steak dinner out of this (since you put your bet in those terms), but just for the record - the number is still 97% of climate scientists.

You will also notice that as you narrow the field towards those with the most expertise, the percentages go UP - that is less of the general public thinks climate change is real than non-climate scientists, less non-climate scientists think its real than climate scientists, and less climate scientists think its real than the set of climate scientists that actively publish on climate change. Since this is clearly narrowed to "front-line" climatologists, who think it's real and human-caused (which I would suggest indicates they think its "even" a research priority), I'm not sure why you attack my ability to read (extra irony: you get my posted name wrong).

Yes, the poll also asked earth scientists generally. Yes, there are more earth scientists than climatologists. No, it doesn't show what percentage of the climatologists are "freaking out" about it, nor does it show how many of them want to "Wreck" the economy because of it (why would we listen to them on that anyways?). Move the goal posts of your steak dinner offer all you like, but the 97% number still stands.


Your chart shows a distinct downturn in the 5 year average in recent years. As a lagging indicator (2.5 year phase delay to be precise), the moving average appears to indicate we have experienced a significant drop in temperatures which are completely contrary to all the AGW models.

Of course, were you to have actually looked at the models (and they are available to the public if you google IPCC) you'd realize that there are significant variations in year-to-year temperatures themselves.

Furthermore, to claim the latest 10-year period represents a "significant" drop in temperatures is absolutely laughable. There are at least twelve other places on that very graph that show a larger (in some cases much larger) drop in the 5-year mean.

NASA explains the "low" temperature of 2008 (in reality, still the ninth warmest year since 1880) as due to the la nina-el nino cycle and solar output both being near the cold part of their respective cycles.

Natural dynamical variability: The largest contribution is the Southern Oscillation, the El Niño-La Niña cycle. The Niño 3.4 temperature anomaly (the bottom line in the top panel of Fig. 2), suggests that the La Niña may be almost over, but the anomaly fell back (cooled) to -0.7°C last month (December). It is conceivable that this tropical cycle could dip back into a strong La Niña, as happened, e.g., in 1975. However, for the tropical Pacific to stay in that mode for both 2009 and 2010 would require a longer La Niña phase than has existed in the past half century, so it is unlikely. Indeed, subsurface and surface tropical ocean temperatures suggest that the system is "recharged", i.e., poised, for the next El Niño, so there is a good chance that one may occur in 2009. Global temperature anomalies tend to lag tropical anomalies by 3-6 months.

Solar irradiance:The solar output remains low (Fig. 4), at the lowest level in the period since satellite measurements began in the late 1970s, and the time since the prior solar minimum is already 12 years, two years longer than the prior two cycles. This has led some people to speculate that we may be entering a "Maunder Minimum" situation, a period of reduced irradiance that could last for decades. Most solar physicists expect the irradiance to begin to pick up in the next several months — there are indications, from the polarity of the few recent sunspots, that the new cycle is beginning.

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2008/

These two cycles play a bit part in the year-to-year variability of the temperature. GHGs do not affect these cycles. When these cycles are at their low points, the global temperature drops. When they are at their high points, the temperature rises. GHGs affect the temperature on top of these rollercoaster cycles, making the low points warmer and the high points warmer both. NO - I repeat, NO AGW climate models predict a steady increase in actual temperature.

This sort of misrepresentation is a huge reason why the whole "conservatives hate science" stuff comes about.


It's only a small fraction of the effect of water vapor, but the effect of water vapor is thought to be "feedback" with little or nothing meaningful to be done about it. CO2, otoh, is thought to be a causing agent of greenhouse effect. YET, when looked at on large scale, as in the very graphs Al Gore used in his movie to demonstrate the close correlation between atmospheric CO2 concentration and global warming, it turns out to be a LAGGING indicator, lagging by some 200 years in fact. Not a cause at all, in other words.

You've got it backwards. CO2 is thought to be a causal agent of global warming precisely because we know we are emitting it. Any natural cause and effect chain here is moot, because we KNOW the cause of CO2 release - the fact that in the past CO2 is normally a lagging indicator of climate change would be useful to know if we were trying to figure out where the heck all this CO2 was coming from. But we're not.

red said at March 7, 2009 7:47 PM:

Personally, I think its all a hoax. BTW greenhouse gases fell more in the US under Bush than they did in Europe. Because as a capitalist society we looked for more efficiency and thus smaller by products. Despite our not signing on to that hoax Kyoto. Hows that for a fact?

I agree with the poster above who said the greenies non support for nuclear demonstrates that it isn't about the environment its about political power. The greenies want the average person world wide to sit in the dark and cold - while our betters, those who really really care about the environment tell us what's best.

If India and China are not on board then what we do is simply taking a gun and shooting it directly at our foot economically. Its a win-win for America haters and the Chinese.

red said at March 7, 2009 7:50 PM:

---Any natural cause and effect chain here is moot, ---

Yeah, forget that silly little thing called the Scientific Method. Cause and effect moot - you guys are crazy!!! - probably majored in women's studies.

Charlie said at March 7, 2009 8:52 PM:

Sheez, Sam, no goal posts got moved--I said I'd get you that steak. Just not on the merits. The way the question was framed in the survey you cite, I'd expect close to 100% unanimity. Just like I mentioned to Nick G. above, even a fart contributes carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The relevant question is how much that matters.

Charlie said at March 7, 2009 9:04 PM:

Oh, and I see there's a final comment to me. Unfortunately, I cannot make sense of what you say. You maybe misunderstood my point. I think that the takeaway from my point was that it seems to be quite clear that heat drives the release of CO2, into the atmosphere but it's not clear, even though we "understand" it should be the case, that the reverse is true.

JoeKing said at March 7, 2009 9:29 PM:

I believe the debate is over...the debate whether you believe in AGW that is. Really, after 20 years, don't you think everyone has had time to make up their minds? After reading numerous debates over the years one thing is obvious...NO ONE has changed their minds, no matter how strong the arguement presented.

So what next...I have a modest proposal. Since there is an approximate 70% belief in AGW by the US citizenry & a 53% belief that MORE gov't regulation is needed, it seems obvious that the 70% should lead by example & reduce THEIR CO2 footprint. If these "believers" have the courage of their convictions they will be proud & willing to sacrifice their CO2 creating ways, & if they are right, their sacrifice will have the desired effects on CO2 mitigation & a positive effect on the climate sytem. The only problem is the resistance that the "deniers" have to being coerced to change lifestyle based on (what they believe to be) questionable science..but I'm sure they'll come around once they see climate change mitigating.

While I'm being flip...isn't it about time for the believers to start walking the walk already? If they really believe why aren't THEY doing something about it? Why must there be a "consensus"...isn't 70% enough? I think the dirty little secret is..its real easy to talk about living a carbon neutral life..untill you actually try to LIVE one. Kind of like "Some of my best frinds are....." (fill in minority).


http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=828

Ryan Waxx said at March 8, 2009 5:37 AM:

>> The is a very interesting point, and its (always) worth keeping watch over the government. But let me ask you - why would a government (in a quest to increase revenue through taxation) SPEND revenue to repay the companies it taxes?

God, you ARE a government virgin, aren't you? The various branches of government not acting in a consistent way towards a issue is the NORM, not the exception... and sometimes you get different agencies with totally opposite policies towards an industry or group.

Take tobacco for example. The ag dept subsidizes tobacco farming, the medical wing of the government spends money to ensure no one buys the product the other part funded.

But of course such massive inefficiencies couldn't POSSIBLY happen when government regulates carbon, right?

Alice said at March 8, 2009 6:34 AM:

I agree. All those who think humans are emitting too much carbon, should immediately go on a "zero carbon emissions" plan for themselves personally. No driving, no riding in cars, trains, planes, buses. No heating their homes with any fossil fueled power. No breathing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere -- which means no breathing. All those who think there are too many people, should immediately kill themselves.

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2009 9:46 AM:

Wun Who Nose,

Because they understood the science, and also understood the costs are small across the whole economy (0.5-2% of GDP).

Over $500 billion in tax revenue is more than %2 of GDP at the current $14 trillion GDP. That's just one of the sources of cost. Also, that's just at 2019 before an even bigger CO2 emissions reduction takes place.

Now, eventually other tech will come along and reduce those costs. But I'm not buying the 0.5-2% of GDP cost range in the medium term.

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2009 10:10 AM:

Nick,

Really, large errors in climate models. They are orders of magnitude too simple. Plus, they need some inputs that aren't known yet and some (e.g. future trends in sun output) that can't be known in advance. Can't predict.

Your high probabilities: I think you overestimate how much we can know at this point. I don't know how to assign probabilities because, again, there are large sources of error in the models. I think AGW is more likely than not. I think we should act on that basis. But .9x probabilities seem way overreaching given the limits of what science can actually do to model and predict climate.

You morally judge a lot of other people based on the mistaken belief that the truth is obvious and easy to know.

Transfers versus costs and mitigation costs: If Obama is right that he can get a half trillion dollars from cap-and-trade in 2019 then the costs seem high to me.

In practice the cap-and-trade isn't going to be workable on some industries because they'll just shut down in the United States and expand in China and less developed countries. Expect bigger steel and chemicals industries in India, China, Southeast Asia, maybe Brazil, Russia. Put a tax on imported chemical and metal content and risk a trade war.

Car industry: The CEO of AutoNation (big car dealer chain) says he's got 600,000 hybrids he can't sell. The car industry's fears are real. Though I think Peak Oil (and not government policy) will make the demand for hybrids skyrocket in a few years.

Pressure from average consumer: Er, seen any gas tax increases lately? For years the gas tax hasn't gone up as fast as the cost of maintaining and building roads. Even for road maintenance gasoline tax increases are beyond the possible.

We can get increased taxes on energy only in situations where the public doesn't really understand the connection between a policy change and higher energy costs. So, for example, the public in some states will support requirements on utilities to buy more electric power from wind, solar, geothermal. But if the public understood the connection between these requirements and higher utility bills then the public would lose their enthusiasm for this policy very quickly.

Since I happen to totally oppose conventional pollutants from coal (no more particulates, mercury, etc) I will pay more for cleaner electricity. So the fears of AGW work in favor of some policy changes I prefer anyway.

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2009 11:27 AM:

Nick,

Pluggable hybrids as the solution: I know we've had this discussion before but, again, not everyone will be able to plug in to recharge every night. Most people in my town live in apartment buildings. How are they going to recharge? Most who live in houses do not park their cars in houses. In fact, use of garages to park cars is rare in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Where is a good source of data for percentage of cars parked in garages?

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2009 11:50 AM:

Nick,

There's a huge surplus of hybrids. Of course there's a huge surplus of all cars.

Bart said at March 8, 2009 11:53 AM:

San Dalman said:

"NASA explains the "low" temperature of 2008 (in reality, still the ninth warmest year since 1880) as due to the la nina-el nino cycle and solar output both being near the cold part of their respective cycles."

But, you notice they avoid mentioning that the record temps of 1998 were cause by an equally anomalous El Nino - La Nina cycle. Yet, these were proof of AGW.

"Any natural cause and effect chain here is moot, because we KNOW the cause of CO2 release..."

Yes, we know that the CO2 is mostly natural. The hypothesis is not that the less than 3% we emit ever year is just building up. There are absorptive mechanisms which work just the same for manufactured CO2 as they do for the other 97%+ of natural CO2 released every year. The hypothesis is that the additional CO2 from anthropogenic sources is driving natural processes which tend to emit more CO2 in a positive feedback loop. However, the evidence for positive feedback is tenuous at best, and can reasonably be said to be non-existent. Without that positive feedback effect, there is no significant AGW of which to speak.

Non-technical like SD people are really out of their depth on this subject. Feedback loops are a very complicated subject which takes years of post-graduate studies to truly master.

Nick G said at March 8, 2009 12:06 PM:

Bart,

"That's the reduction in gasoline consumption, not energy."

Yes, but this whole discussion isn't about energy, it's about fossil fuel CO2 emissions. If you look back, you'll see that I paired EREV's with wind and nuclear, sources of very low CO2 electricity.

"They [batteries] require a lot of energy, and the manufacture generates toxic wastes."

I don't believe that's true. Do you have numbers and sources?

"I disagree that it [ the notion that climatologists overwhelmingly agree that GW is real and important] has been accurately quantified by bogus cherry-picking polls."

Seriously?

"You feel that new car EPA MPG would have risen to roughly 27 MPG and then stayed there, without intervention?" - No, I believe with reliable higher profits, the car companies would have plowed more money into research"

So, if regulations weren't there, they'd have made raising MPG a higher priority? Really?? Now, I agree that without CAFE regulations Detroit's profits would have been somewhat higher, but in times of low gas prices they certainly wouldn't have made high MPG a priority, nor could we reasonably expect them to - that's the role of regulation: to communicate to private companies the non-bottomline priorities society expects of them.

"there are ICE vehicles which get 50 mpg which are just as comfortable and safe as your plug-in hybrid"

There are diesels which get close, but diesel is higher CO2 per gallon. Keep in mind that the ICE in a HEV, PHEV or EREV operates much more efficiently, due to the electric motor providing peak power.

""that's 12.6% as much fuel as the average 22MPG car" - That's 12.6% as much gasoline. You are comparing apples to bowling balls."

Again, this whole discussion isn't about energy, it's about fossil fuel CO2 emissions. If you look back, you'll see that I paired EREV's with wind and nuclear, sources of very low CO2 electricity. Of course, reductions of liquid fuel consumption have a lot of benefits of their own: improvements in the trade deficit, supply security, etc.

"my Hummer H3 gets 20 mpg. Let's see which one of us survives when a drunk driver plows into us head on."

Well, that's if you don't rollover first, or run over one of your children while backing up due to abysmal rear-visibility, and decide to stop endangering everyone else on the road by driving a military vehicle.

Bart said at March 8, 2009 12:31 PM:
"Yes, but this whole discussion isn't about energy, it's about fossil fuel CO2 emissions."

Coal fired electricity produces beaucoups of CO2. Are you one of those naifs who actually believe we can satisfy our electricity demand with windmills and solar power? Let me clue you in: ain't gonna' happen.

"I don't believe that's true. Do you have numbers and sources?"

Reality does not give a whit what you believe, and neither do I. Here's a radical idea: how about doing the research before you form your opinions?

"So, if regulations weren't there, they'd have made raising MPG a higher priority?"

They would have prioritized it in the order it needed to be prioritized based on consumer demand, not the whim of some technically inept politician or political lobby.

"Keep in mind that the ICE in a HEV, PHEV or EREV operates much more efficiently"

It operates somewhat more efficiently. Thermodynamic efficiencies do not vary by a huge amount. And, with the modest amount you save, you will run into Jevons paradox.

"If you look back, you'll see that I paired EREV's with wind and nuclear, sources of very low CO2 electricity."

They just closed down Yucca Flats, which should give you an idea of how serious they are about clean nuclear energy. And wind, while environmentally destructive and devastating to flying creatures, returns very meager and intermittent power for the investment.

"Well, that's if you don't rollover first, or run over one of your children while backing up due to abysmal rear-visibility, and decide to stop endangering everyone else on the road by driving a military vehicle."

These are details that can be assuaged. I have video cameras on the rear, the cage is very sturdy and I wear my seatbelt, and the vehicle has electronic traction control, which is an amazing technology on a par with anti-lock brakes. I am only minutely "endangering" others compared to the volume of big rigs, dump trucks et al. on the road, and only because they insist on driving pieces of tin.

Bart said at March 8, 2009 12:43 PM:

Don't get me wrong about hybrid technology - it is a wonderful and smart application of technology. Just don't fool yourself that it is the answer to all that ails us.

Bart said at March 8, 2009 1:23 PM:

And, don't peg me as some radical, anti-government fanatic. Government has its place, for example, in mandating safety standards. What Government should not be doing, however, is manufacturing pretend crises in order to constrain peoples' choices in a manner other people want to constrain them.

Such measures oft' go astray. We have already remarked on how the Government killed the family station wagon, and ended up with an even more gas hungry and less safe alternative, the SUV, because they could not artificially gainsay the demand for family sized vehicles. Moreover, they tend to freeze in place the current status quo, as private agencies and individuals bend their energies to complying or evading the government mandates. This is generally not productive use of human capital, and becomes a drag on innovation and progress which would benefit future generations.

Al said at March 8, 2009 1:50 PM:

Nick G,

----------
"my Hummer H3 gets 20 mpg. Let's see which one of us survives when a drunk driver plows into us head on."

Well, that's if you don't rollover first, or run over one of your children while backing up due to abysmal rear-visibility, and decide to stop endangering everyone else on the road by driving a military vehicle.
----------

The H3 is the Hummer division's smallest model - it's a midsize SUV based on a compact pick-up. It's shorter than a Toyota Camry. The one you are confusing it with is the H1, the commercialized military vehicle. And guess what? It's also shorter than a Camry.

And, of course, the reason Hummers are on the road is because they meet all the government requirements designed to ensure that the vehicles do not endanger everyone else on the road.

Nice attempt, though, to cast your opponents as being indifferent and dangerous to the lives of all around them, including their own children.

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2009 1:52 PM:

Bart,

We can certainly satisfy our electricity needs with nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal.

Concentrating solar with heat storage will overlap well with afternoon and early evening peak demand. Dynamic pricing can shift a lot of demand toward when the sun shines. Nuclear, geothermal, and to a lesser extent wind can supply baseload. France shows what is possible with a big nuclear build.

We can gradually migrate away from nuclear for a few cents more per kwh.

My take on cutting CO2 emissions is that Peak Oil will take care of cutting oil burning. If we can just shift from coal to nuclear plus wind and solar then we can make cut the other big source of CO2 emissions.

I'd be happy to just ban new coal electric plants and require the existing coal electric plants to achieve higher efficiencies and to emit no conventional pollutants (no particulates, mercury etc). We could build nukes, geothermal, wind, and solar for our growth needs.

Comfortable and safe 50 mpg cars: Not with gasoline. Though the next gen dual turbo direct injection cars with 6 speed dual clutch transmissions, more composites, and more electrically powered devices to replace hydraulics will get us close - at least for compact cars.

I think you exaggerate the meagerness of the return on wind. The cost of wind power is a little above the cost of nukes at this point.

Nick G said at March 8, 2009 3:06 PM:

Randall,

"Over $500 billion in tax revenue is more than %2 of GDP at the current $14 trillion GDP."

That's over 8 years, for an average of $65.6 per year. That's only .5% of GDP. Heck, the Iraq war is likely to cost about $2.5T overall, not including external costs like non-VA costs of health, disability and death. If reduced oil and FF consumption reduce the likelihood of another oil war, that could justify the cost alone.

"Really, large errors in climate models. "

I agree somewhat, and I'm not talking primarily about that: look closely at what I chose: "I think the probability of rising CO2 is .999; of anthropogenic causes of rising CO2 is .98; and very large harm is .95. Heck, serious acidification of the oceans is enough harm, right?"

Doesn't that make sense?

"I think AGW is more likely than not. I think we should act on that basis. "

I think we're in pretty close agreement.

"You morally judge a lot of other people based on the mistaken belief that the truth is obvious and easy to know."

Yeah, it can be easy to slip, and judge people. I tried to soften that several times. Heck, I understand people trying to protect their livelihoods. But really, some things are facts (like whether a person or report says or doesn't say something specific) - isn't it mighty frustrating when people play fast and loose with the facts? Also, its understandable when people deceive themselves (like the majority of americans who disbelieve evolution), but isn't it a little frustrating to observe?

"Transfers versus costs and mitigation costs: If Obama is right that he can get a half trillion dollars from cap-and-trade in 2019 then the costs seem high to me."

But again, cap and trade prices may look like a cost to a company, but to an economy as a whole, it's just a transfer. It's when business started investing in more efficient processes, etc, that true costs begin.

"In practice the cap-and-trade isn't going to be workable on some industries "

I'm not defending cap-and-trade, though I would note that any intervention, whether a C tax or other, will always have unintended side effects: we just have to hope to minimize them, and keep them well below the level of the benefits.

"The CEO of AutoNation (big car dealer chain) says he's got 600,000 hybrids he can't sell. The car industry's fears are real. "

As you note elsewhere, hybrid sales have fallen less than the overall car market, and the car industry discounts the likelihood of higher gas prices. Of course, I don't mean to be highly judgemental - as I've said elsewhere, I entirely understand their focus on short-term survival. I just wish they'd be less obtructive, and more constructive. Let me give you an illustrative example: Clinton proposed universal healthcare in large part to help american companies like GM get rid of a competitive disadvantage. That proposal would have helped GM enormously, yet they sat on their hands (and hurt their self-interest) rather than break with anti-regulatory tradition (and annoy other people who detested the idea).

"Pressure from average consumer: ... Even for road maintenance gasoline tax increases are beyond the possible."

Well, that assumes the average consumer has made the connection between cap-and-trade, and higher prices. As you note, often they don't make such connections,and I haven't seen that connection yet on this issue. 2nd, see my comments about political manipulation of the issue: people are willing to accept higher prices for things they value. If politicians and media send the message that higher prices are just theft from the consumer's pocket, consumers will, of course, fight them aggressively.

"not everyone will be able to plug in to recharge every night. "

I agree. EREV/PHEV/EVs will have to be content with a % of the market to begin with. I think we can all agree that at least 1/3 of drivers have a place to plug in at night - that's a pretty good start.

"Most people in my town live in apartment buildings "

40% of people who have no off-street parking, don't have cars. Many others have garage parking, where installation of outlets wouldn't be that big of a deal.

"Most who live in houses do not park their cars in houses. "

I don't think that's true - I think that's an artifact of your locally high housing prices combined with very temperate weather.

"Where is a good source of data for percentage of cars parked in garages?"

Well, here's some discussion, and the US DOT source: http://energyfaq.blogspot.com/2009/03/is-street-parking-barrier-for-phevplug.html .

Nick G said at March 8, 2009 3:24 PM:

Bart,

""I don't believe that's true [that batteries require disproportionate energy inputs]. Do you have numbers and sources?" - Reality does not give a whit what you believe, and neither do I. Here's a radical idea: how about doing the research before you form your opinions?"

I have seen some discussion that suggested that this was overstated, though I don't have it at hand at the moment. While it would be nice to have it here...it's your objection, and you have the burden of proof. I'd note that this is a manufactured item, and that most manufacturing energy inputs are electric, which as I and Randall have indicated, can be low-CO2 relatively easily.

" they'd have made raising MPG a higher priority?" - They would have prioritized it in the order it needed to be prioritized based on consumer demand"

Precisely: in a period of low gas prices, consumer demand wasn't there. I'm glad we agree.

"Thermodynamic efficiencies do not vary by a huge amount"

ICE's become much less efficient under acceleration.

" with the modest amount you save, you will run into Jevons paradox."

That's only if gas prices stay low. We should have such problems.

" decide to stop endangering everyone else on the road by driving a military vehicle."
These are details that can be assuaged. "

SUV's in general aren't nearly as safe much safer than other vehicles as their drivers assume. They have higher rollover rates, and heavy vehicles are only safer in collisions with others - other risks are the same or higher. Heavy vehicles are safer in collisions with others because the laws of momentum mean that you're shifting the danger to the lighter vehicle: you're increasing the danger to the other party at least as much as you're decreasing your own. The fact that your vehicle is heavier increases the total kinetic energy involved, raising the overall danger. Therefore, you're making yourself safer only by endangering the other party, and you're raising the overall danger - society as a whole is less safe.

jimf said at March 8, 2009 3:41 PM:

Any GW alarmist- Please try and answer my pointed and simple questions about GW from late afternoon on 3-7. These and other simple questions have been around for many years, but i`ve seen no one answer them. San; take for instance you. All your fancy talk of temperatures, NASA ect., ect., mean NOTHING until you can explain, let`s say for instance, the warm (more than now) temps. of the middle ages. And that`s just one question. Because until you or somebody else does, it means that whatever caused the medieval warming period could be causing our "warming" now. And that was not by man. Very simple. Thank you

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2009 3:56 PM:

Nick,

You ought to read MIT prof Richard Lindzen on global warming. I like that he's calmer about it. This is from an op/ed Lindzen wrote for Newsweek in 2007:

April 16, 2007 issue - Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators-and many scientists-seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature-a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperature-wise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week.

A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now. Much of the alarm over climate change is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate. There is no evidence, for instance, that extreme weather events are increasing in any systematic way, according to scientists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which released the second part of this year's report earlier this month). Indeed, meteorological theory holds that, outside the tropics, weather in a warming world should be less variable, which might be a good thing.

In many other respects, the ill effects of warming are overblown. Sea levels, for example, have been increasing since the end of the last ice age. When you look at recent centuries in perspective, ignoring short-term fluctuations, the rate of sea-level rise has been relatively uniform (less than a couple of millimeters a year). There's even some evidence that the rate was higher in the first half of the twentieth century than in the second half. Overall, the risk of sea-level rise from global warming is less at almost any given location than that from other causes, such as tectonic motions of the earth's surface.

Read the whole thing. I get the sense that people are panicking and about the wrong thing.

San Dalman said at March 8, 2009 5:30 PM:
I think that the takeaway from my point was that it seems to be quite clear that heat drives the release of CO2, into the atmosphere but it's not clear, even though we "understand" it should be the case, that the reverse is true.

And I'm saying that you are WRONG. You want to take the fact that climate change in the past has been driven by oscillations in the planet's orbit, which warmed the planet and caused a release in CO2 - and use that to question the science of radiative forcing and chemical composition of the atmosphere. We know that we emit GHGs, we know that GHGs trap heat - the past temp/CO2 relationship does not contradict that fact.

And therefore, again, it is moot.


But, you notice they avoid mentioning that the record temps of 1998 were cause by an equally anomalous El Nino - La Nina cycle. Yet, these were proof of AGW.

Well any scientist (but somehow I suspect it was mostly the media) who said it is just as wrong as any denier who says stuff like "2008 was colder than last year so climate change is a hoax!" End of story.


The hypothesis is not that the less than 3% we emit ever year is just building up. There are absorptive mechanisms which work just the same for manufactured CO2 as they do for the other 97%+ of natural CO2 released every year. The hypothesis is that the additional CO2 from anthropogenic sources is driving natural processes which tend to emit more CO2 in a positive feedback loop. However, the evidence for positive feedback is tenuous at best, and can reasonably be said to be non-existent. Without that positive feedback effect, there is no significant AGW of which to speak.

Wrong. The ocean and biosphere do not absorb humanity's excess CO2 - the classic metaphor is the bathtub. Humanity has turned on the tap [CO2 emissions] to a level greater than the drain [carbon sinks like forests and oceans] can manage. As a result, the bathtub is filling up [atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing]. The system is out of balance. Humanity's emissions may be small compared to the total carbon cycle - but with every ton emitted we throw the cycle out of balance - and that's the problem. Eventually, the bathtub is going to fill up.

You are however correct that there are various feedback loops, which involve albedo, GHG release processes (methane release from permafrost, greater water vapor content, forest fire carbon emissions). But those are compounding issues, many of which are indeed highly technical (though not as difficult as you suggest) and theoretical, and provide a lot of the uncertainty in climate change theory. But the basic source of atmospheric CO2 is not.


While I'm being flip...isn't it about time for the believers to start walking the walk already? If they really believe why aren't THEY doing something about it?

Uh, many of us ARE. Conservation and personal responsibility are watchwords of the environmental movement. Personally speaking, Its something of a benefit for me - my budget isn't eaten up by huge electricity and gas bills.

San Dalman said at March 8, 2009 5:59 PM:
San; take for instance you. All your fancy talk of temperatures, NASA ect., ect., mean NOTHING until you can explain, let`s say for instance, the warm (more than now) temps. of the middle ages.

First point - the medieval warm period was only ever a localized phenomenon, restricted to Europe (where temperature records were better documented). Elsewhere, periods of warm and cold did not synchronize with the MWP.

Second - it has been shown that the temperatures of that time were not in fact higher than the temperatures of the last ~50 years.

Third - Global records indicate that the earth - as a whole - was actually very slightly cooler during that time period.

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/302/5644/404
http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/070.htm

But disregarding ALL of that, the existence of a warm period in the past does not serve as evidence against climate change. The basic theory of climate change springs from the relationship between the chemical content of the atmosphere and the amount of heat each specific chemical traps. This theory originates from Svante Arrhenius in 1895, who (as the story goes, so distraught over the death (divorce?) of his wife, holed himself up in his attic for and did by hand the lengthy calculations regarding the effect on temperature of a change in CO2 levels) calculated that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would result in a 5-6 celsius increase in temperature. (He was off by a little according to modern calculations, but give him a break).

The fact that there are OTHER cycles of climate (such as one that might explain a Medieval Warm Period-like previous spike in temperature) do nothing to disprove this theory, which is the source of AGW. For example, the Milankovich cycles are extremely long-term oscillations in the Earth's orbit - which changes the distance that we are from the sun, thereby increasing and decreasing the amount of heat received from the sun. This is the common explanation for past climactic change. It's absolutely incorrect to point to past variations in climate in this manner to deny climate change - that cycle (even though it has created high temps in the past when no man, car or powerplant was around to pollute) does not have any relevance to the anthropogenic climate change at issue now.

Any other questions?

Bart said at March 8, 2009 6:55 PM:

I do not see anymore value in addressing Nick's "points". For Sandal Man:

"Wrong. The ocean and biosphere do not absorb humanity's excess CO2 - the classic metaphor is the bathtub. Humanity has turned on the tap [CO2 emissions] to a level greater than the drain [carbon sinks like forests and oceans] can manage. As a result, the bathtub is filling up [atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing]. The system is out of balance. Humanity's emissions may be small compared to the total carbon cycle - but with every ton emitted we throw the cycle out of balance - and that's the problem. Eventually, the bathtub is going to fill up."

Wrong. There is no fixed "drain" in this system. Carbon sinks like forests and other vegetation grow in response to increased concentrations of CO2, effectively increasing the size of your drain. Carboniferous deposits at the floor of the ocean increase. Cloud cover increases, reflecting more sunlight back into space. These are what are known as "negative feedbacks". In a stable, negative feedback system, a steady 3% increase in the rate of input leads to... wait for it... a 3% increase in the steady state overall level.

In order to reach the conclusion that AGW is a problem, the models have to assume that positive feedbacks dominate the negative, i.e., that there are effects which, at best, precisely counteract the negative feedbacks and, at worst, actually produce more carbon output in a self-perpetuating cycle.

But, they cannot, because if they did, the Earth's climate would long ago have surrendered to a runaway greenhouse, when atmospheric CO2 concentrations and temperatures were higher. Positive feedback is self sustaining, and does not need anything more than a random event to trigger self-sustaining, runaway growth.

This is a fact. This is how the AGW models reach their conclusion of a crisis at hand: by hypothesizing dominant positive feedbacks for which the evidence is, as I said, tenuous at best, and reasonably non-existent.

Clearly, we have seen rising concentrations of CO2 greater than 3%. But, the historical record shows periodic increases, too, which appear to be correlated with rising temperatures. In the historical record, the rising levels of CO2 lag the rises in temperature, which shows that external heat forcings can produce increases in CO2. But, after the heat forcings diminished, so did the CO2 concentrations. This shows that the system governing CO2 concentration has negative dominated feedback, and is stable.

You will find AGW sycophants and cynics who are in it for the money who disagree, and will tell you this is wrong, for highly technical reasons which they just can't explain adequately to you. But, when you continue to see record breaking winters, and continuing backpedaling by the AGW enthusiasts, and claims that AGW is merely on hiatus for 5 years, or 15 years, or the latest I have heard from one apologist, possibly 30 years, you will begin to realize that the anti-AGW crowd was right all along, and that the AGW crowd has lost touch with reality, or is cynically in it for the bucks, or both.

Bart said at March 8, 2009 7:16 PM:

From Randall:

"We can certainly satisfy our electricity needs with nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal."

Yes, we can, but only because we can satisfy them with the first, nuclear. Only we can't, because the Greens are frightened by atoms, and nobody wants the waste in their backyard.

The others will never be more than bit players. Wind and solar require too much real estate, and building material, and maintenance spread out over thousands of square miles of wind and light farms. Wind farms are hazardous to wildlife, and a noise nuisance. Solar panel manufacture leaves behind toxic waste, like the silicon tetrachloride that devastated a Chinese village here. Both are intermittent. Geothermal power may help a little, but I've been seeing all of these things touted for over a quarter century now and you will forgive me if I take all the pie-in-the-sky promises with an enormous grain of salt.

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2009 7:55 PM:

Bart,

A month or so ago I read (can't find where now) some learned guy about CO2 absorption saying that he does expect more vegetation growth in response to CO2 and therefore an accelerated uptake of CO2 as atmospheric CO2 rises - but only up to some point. If memory serves he thinks that turning point is still a few decades away. But I can't remember the details. At that point that faster uptake reverses and from year to year the amount absorbed starts dropping.

Just when and why that happens is probably hard to know with precision due to changes in rainfall (which affects both plant growth rates and fire patterns), changes in human land use patterns, warming of tundra, and how much and how fast the ocean warms. The point is there are both positive and negative feedbacks (both human and natural) on the rate of CO2 uptake by plants and the oceans. But if this guy (who seemed to be relaying the consensus of his field of research) is correct then increased CO2 absorption does not go on for the entire century.

Solar as a bit player: David Goodstein of CalTech argues that we would only need an area 300x300 miles at 10% PV conversion efficiency to power the world. Then Nick G argued in the comments here that Goodstein made a calculation error that Goodstein concedes and that we'd only need 95x95 miles. Given that PV efficiencies for FirstSolar's thin film are similar but other PV tech is much higher (and likely to rise for methods involving newer thin film processes) I think the land area needed will end up being smaller than that.

As for even needing to use land in the first place, we already have structures in the United States that cover an area equal to the size of Ohio and with Goodstein's original area calculation we would only need to cover 2 Ohios. If we just cover our existing structures that gets us half the way there. If we use Nick G's area calculation and then throw in, say, 30% PV conversion efficiency the area size becomes way small and could be done with just building covering.

Silicon tetrachloride devastating a Chinese village: This happens because the Chinese government doesn't care squat about pollution. PV gets made much more cleanly in Western countries.

Mike Kelley said at March 8, 2009 8:41 PM:

I think the assertion that the Medieval Warm Period was localized to Europe is wrong. This study of an area in Yellowstone Park talks about the "tree line" having been higher back in that time, and lists other evidence of very warm temperatures during the Warm Period. http://www.co2science.org/articles/V12/N9/C2.php

Bart said at March 9, 2009 1:02 AM:

Randall,

"At that point that faster uptake reverses and from year to year the amount absorbed starts dropping."

Somewhat like how the rate of absorption of reflected light lessens as CO2 increases? Perhaps the two effects overlap and cancel each other out. Regardless, there are other feedbacks, and the fact that we have remained stable through the eons when there were much higher temperatures and concentrations of CO2 argues that man-made CO2 is unlikely to be the culprit for more than a 3% rise in CO2 concentrations. The AGW enthusiasts are caught up looking at trees, and missing the forest entirely. Don't believe me? Fine. Wait and see. At the very least, the current 10 year lapse in the warming trend should give you pause in abdicating your capacity for critical thought to the media annointed "experts". It would not be the first time the "experts" were wrong, not by a long shot.

"The point is there are both positive and negative feedbacks "

Of course there are. It doesn't matter. It only matters which effects dominate. The historical record supports the hypothesis that negative feedback dominates. I was generally careful, I believe, to couch it in those terms in my previous communiques.

"Then Nick G argued in the comments here that Goodstein made a calculation error that Goodstein concedes and that we'd only need 95x95 miles."

The figure of 10,000 square miles required to provide current domestic electricity demand has been bandied around for ages. I do not believe for a minute that, with 10% efficiency, this area could provide enough electricity for the entire world (I do not know who this Goodstein is - I have interacted with Nick - it does not inspire confidence). But, that is my belief, and I have previously scolded Nick about presenting his beliefs as proof. I do not have the time or inclination right now to refute your claim. However, as you say, demand will go up, particularly if you are going to start running the entire transportion sector off the grid.

But, in any case, let's consider just 10,000 square miles of PVs. Do you have any idea how much material is needed to cover almost 10,000 square miles with photo-voltaics? I made the calculation once, long ago. Assuming majority aluminum construction for honeycomb backplates and hollow to-code support structures, it would take our entire domestic aluminum production for the next 50 years. Try it some time. Your results may vary, but the number is bound to be immense.

Can you imagine the environmental impact of shading that much land with PV's? The habitats despoiled? The number of carbon absorbing trees and vegetation uprooted and unable to regrow? The nightmare of maintenance (you do realize, you are probably talking about at least 4 times that area, since you have to have access for maintenance?) ? Have you factored in the failure rate of the cells, as well as the motors that would be required to steer the arrays for maximum efficiency (or you are going to need even more area, and incidentally, you have to factor in the power draw of those motors), the effect of wildlife nibbling at the wires and scratching the faceplates? Have you considered the fact that energy is converted in the junctions by the absorption of sunlight, and you are talking about the mother of all urban heat island effects?

No, I am sorry, but if you take an honest accounting of all the manufacturing energy required, the deleterious impact on the environment, and the sheer magnitude of the endeavor, you will have to reach a conclusion that this is the vainest of pipe dreams.

"PV gets made much more cleanly in Western countries.

They are being made in China because it would be far more expensive to do it here. And, they aren't made more cleanly here, there's just better cleanup and recycling of materials, which adds to the cost, hence they are being made in China. But, it's a matter of scale. There is leakage of toxic waste, even when they are made here. And, when you are talking about covering 10,000 square miles with them, you are talking a lot of leakage. Personally, I would not be a bit surprised if silicon tetrachloride were the least of the worries emanating from the manufacture when you get to that scale.

Bob Badour said at March 9, 2009 5:51 AM:

Bart,

Randall already pointed out that the US has rooftops and other structures that cover that much area. If we installed the PV on those rooftops and structures, the PV would not shade any habitat at all.

Randall Parker said at March 9, 2009 9:40 AM:

Bart,

I do not see the need for aluminum. We could use wood, steel, plastics (perhaps with coatings to slow down UV damage), and assorted other materials.

As for 100% of current electricity demand from PV: No need. We also have geothermal, nukes, wind. I'm not holding up PV as the ultimate solution. I'm saying it could be a substantial part of the total solution.

However, with a high enough conversion efficiency PV really could provide us with half our current energy consumption. There's a cost for energy storage to make that happen. Hence the desirability of nukes, geothermal, and wind.

Positive and negative feedbacks: Surely these aren't all that well balanced. The planet has been a complete iceball more than once. It has had Antarctica completely melted too. We can go back to the Mini Ice Age and the volcanic eruptions of the 1800s for more examples of excursions well away from the mean of the last thousand years. Since climate really does constantly change for natural reasons I expect we will need to eventually intervene to keep it within a range of conditions that we collectively find acceptable.

Nick G said at March 9, 2009 10:22 AM:

"I have previously scolded Nick about presenting his beliefs as proof"

Yes, after Bart made a claim about battery manufacturing energy inputs. He had no data or sources (and he's not likely to, because this kind of info is highly proprietary in an industry that jealously protects his IP), and when I asked for them he started making claims that I was doing the same.

Now we have assertions about the area needed by solar. First he makes a claim (" do not believe for a minute that, with 10% efficiency, this area could provide enough electricity for the entire world (I do not know who this Goodstein is - I have interacted with Nick - it does not inspire confidence). But, that is my belief, ") and provides no support for it. The fact is that no one needs to rely on Goodstein's authority (he's a retired professor of physics, by the way, from UC Davis, if memory serves) or mine: it's a simple matter of calculations. SW US insolation is about 20W per square foot ( 100W per SF peak x 20% capacity factor); 20% efficient PV combined with 50% land coverage (maintenance access, roads, other overhead) gives about 2W per SF average output - that gives about 56MW per square mile (2W/SF x 28M SF/Sq mile). Average US consumption is 450GW - 450GW divided by 56MW/SM gives about 8,000 square miles. It's an easy calculation.

As for the aluminum needed,

1) per US production is about 3.7M metric tons ( http://www.indexmundi.com/en/commodities/minerals/aluminum/aluminum_t2.html ) - 50 years worth would be 185M MT, or about 400 B pounds. We're talking about roughly 112B sq ft (4,000 sq miles x 28M sf/SM), so that's 3.6 lb/SF. That's way too high. This analysis ( http://www.bnl.gov/pv/files/pdf/abs_197.pdf ) found .5 lb of aluminum per SF.

2) No one's really talking about using solar for 100% of our needs - Randall was providing a boundary example, for proof of feasibility: 25% would be the maximum.

3) No one's talking about using PV for central solar production: we'll use CSP instead. PV will be mainly on rooftops.

Bart said at March 9, 2009 11:18 AM:

"Randall already pointed out that the US has rooftops and other structures that cover that much area.

This is akin to the old "if we can sell a unit to every person in China" marketing fallacy. Solar panels are specialized equipment. You cannot just magically turn everything into solar panels at the touch of a wand. You guys haven't even given a passing thought to maintenance and life cycle analysis, much less all the horrendous environmental impacts I sketched above. Your heads are in the clouds.

Moreover, you guys appear to know little about solar tech. You don't get maximum efficiency unless you are pointing right at the sun, and efficiency decreases approximately as the cosine down to the Brewster's angle of the face plates. Due to diurnal and seasonal variation, you would be lucky to get 50% of peak efficiency from a static panel on a time average basis if every day were cloudless and clear.

"Positive and negative feedbacks: Surely these aren't all that well balanced."

Actually, it is you who have to assume they are perfectly balanced for the "fixed drain" analogy. Negative feedback does not limit the possible variations from external forcings. It just ensures that, when the forcings resume a particular range of activity, the system will bounce back into its previous range. What you are saying here actually reinforces the conclusion that negative feedback dominates, because in a positive feedback scenario, the system would never return to its previous range, but would remain stuck at the edge of the constraints.

Nick, your inputs are not value added, and you have exhausted your time with me.

Nick G said at March 9, 2009 11:39 AM:

"do not believe for a minute that, with 10% efficiency, this area [300 x 300] could provide enough electricity for the entire world"

There's some confusion about world vs US here. Goodstein sometimes discussed primary energy consumption converted to electrical terms (10TW), but in general he really means to discuss just the US. He acknowledged this to me. He also agreed that the much higher efficiency of electricity means that we'll need much less power to replace other forms of energy consumption (especially transportation, but also space heating) than you'd expect.

So, we have a figure of 450GW and 8k sq miles for US electricity.

All world primary energy consumption, as provided by electricity, would require about 10x as much power as US electricity, or roughly the 300 x 300 tract of land discussed above if we were to rely 100% on central utility PV (which, of course, we won't need to do).

Nick G said at March 9, 2009 11:58 AM:

"Nick, your inputs are not value added, and you have exhausted your time with me."

That's great - I'm glad to hear that you're ready to stop providing misleading info to Randall's readers.

Wind turbines and PV as dangers to wildlife. Lord, above. You've got to stop reading flaky conservative websites - they're just a big echo-chamber of misleading information.

By the way, remember the 20% capacity factor I provided? That's for the US SW, and accounts for all of the factors you mention (discrepancy between angle of collector and insolation, weather, seasonal factors, etc, etc).

When you stop identifying with "us" and "them", and start thinking about issues with an open mind instead of just buying the unrealistic stuff that comes from people and sites into which that you've mistakenly placed your trust, we'll all get farther.

Nick G said at March 9, 2009 12:26 PM:

A further thought on flexible thinking: the internet is full of web-sites with obvious bias, both on the "Left" and the "Right". There are places like the Nuclear Energy Institute, that advocate for a single solution. There are places like The Oil Drum, which tends to have a lot of apocalyptic thinking.

Both of them have obvious biases which require the reader to constantly be on the alert, yet both are filled with useful information, if you know how to evaluate it. The reader has to think independently; evaluate things quantitatively; and cross-check against other sources.

It's not easy to think for one's self. Most people don't - we see that from the fact that a large majority of the US doesn't believe in evolution. And, yet, we have to make the effort daily.

I know that because I've disagreed with almost all of what you've said, that it will be hard not to take my comments as disrespectful. And, yes, I do think you've been misled. But, I offer these comments not to insult you, but with sincerity. I hope you can take them that way.

Randall Parker said at March 9, 2009 12:31 PM:

Nick G,

Actually Bart is dismissing a CalTech prof. I personally am very reluctant to dismiss CalTech profs. A friend who graduated from MIT at the ripe old age of 19 tells me that CalTech has got the smartest people on average of all the elite universities he's studied or worked at. He's never felt such a need to perform up to par as at CalTech. The bar there is high.

Bart,

If you search my archives about solar power you'll find a great deal of information about it - much of it which contradicts your assertions about it. If you want to argue you've got to bring real facts to the table. Assertions do not work. Start with my Energy Solar category archive. You'll find a lot in the discussion threads too. Some readers have dug up a lot of valuable information replete with links to credible sources.


Randall Parker said at March 9, 2009 12:59 PM:

Bart,

Regards positive and negative feedbacks and ranges: A system can operate in a range with forcings positive and negative that grow and shrink to keep it in that range. But once the system is forced out of that range by a big enough forcer it often is the case that a new set of forcers become dominant and they keep the system in a different range.

Look at the Earth when it goes into ice ages. Once the climate gets shoved hard enough toward cooling positive feedbacks cause additional cooling as spreading ice raises albedo causing more cooling which causes more ice spread etc. Eventually this reaches limits and the whole Earth doesn't become a snowball (though it has become a total snowball at least twice).

I think it is reasonable to fear that humans will kick the climate out of its operating range of since the last ice age. At the same time, I am not ready to feel panic about the climate and think MIT's Richard Lindzen makes some good points (and this link works unlike apparently the one above). Though you should also read pointed responses to Lindzen's claims.

I think it imprudent to assume that CO2 has no net effect on temperature. I think the case for warming has not been disproven.

Nick G said at March 9, 2009 1:31 PM:

"I think it imprudent to assume that CO2 has no net effect on temperature."

I agree. Further, we can't forget other things beside temperature, notably ocean acidification. I can't see how rising atmospheric CO2 won't increase ocean CO2, and raise acidity. That looks very bad for oceans.

Further, the cost of prevention looks relatively very small to me. The net cost of wind/solar and EREV/PHEVEV's is very small, especially when you take into account all of the benefits: reductions in index pollutants, economic uncertainty, military security, etc, etc.

Wun who Nose said at March 9, 2009 2:31 PM:

Mike said: "One of the nuttiest things about the global warming scam is the terrible quality of the original data. Anthony Watts is doing what should have been done before any claims about warming or cooling were made. He is physically visiting all the weather stations in this country to see if they meet any of the NOAA's own standards. Most do not. He has found sensors that have been corrupted by urban sprawl, AC systems nearby, moves next to concrete and asphalt, and even some up on roofs. Around 1990, a lot of stations were dropped out. Many of these were rural sites that were much less apt to be in "urban heat islands"."

See:

Parker, D.E., Large-Scale Warming is not Urban, Nature 432, 290, doi:10.1038/432290a, 2004.

Peterson, T.C., Assessment of urban versus rural in situ surface temperatures in the contiguous United States: No difference found, Journal of Climate, 16, 2941-2959, 2003.

Parker shows that there's no difference in the trends in temperature anomaly observed in urban areas in windy versus calm nights over the past fifty years: if the "heat island" effect were a factor, then you'd expect the increase in the temperature anomaly to be more in calm nights versus windy nights. So, the heat island hypothesis is empirically invalid.

Bart said: "In a stable, negative feedback system,"

That's a heroic assumption on your part, Bart

"a steady 3% increase in the rate of input leads to... wait for it... a 3% increase in the steady state overall level."


"Carbon sinks like forests and other vegetation grow in response to increased concentrations of CO2, effectively increasing the size of your drain."

Shame about those land use changes, eh? Also, at least the last time I was following this, Jasper Ridge at Stanford's tests showed decrease in plant growth under a warmer and/or drier, increase CO2 scenario.

"Carboniferous deposits at the floor of the ocean increase."

No, because the acidification of the ocean shifts the carbonate-hydrogencarbonate balance. It becomes harder for animals to build up calcium carbonate. Just because you wish something to be so doesn't make it so.

"In the historical record, the rising levels of CO2 lag the rises in temperature, which shows that external heat forcings can produce increases in CO2. But, after the heat forcings diminished, so did the CO2 concentrations. This shows that the system governing CO2 concentration has negative dominated feedback, and is stable."

Apart from the odd Ice Age or four. Here's a hint: natural cycles with with periods measured in tens of millenia are going to be cold comfort in a crisis unfolding on a decadal timescale, in the same way hitting a wall at 1 mph is a different experience than hitting it at 100 mph.

Also, at the start of the interglacials, from Vostok core data, CO2 lagged temperature. This time, CO2 is leading temperature: that should tell you This Is Something Different.

I think you guys think that those that are concerned about AGW do so because we hug trees on the weekends and love nature more than humanity. This is incorrect: I love me synthetic chemical, and polymers, and think refineries are underappreciated things of beauty. I'm concerned with AGW (1) because of long-term national security [e.g. I see AGW in the Indian subcontinent as being a likely path to a nuclear exchange] (2) because our economy (water infrastructure and agricultural production) are pretty finely tuned to the current climate.

As Lynn Margulis said, Mother Earth's a tough bitch, as Lynn Margulis said. Our economy and the relative era of peace we've experienced aren't, and climate change will stress them extremely.

"when you continue to see record breaking winters,"

Err, you trap more energy into a system and you're going to get more extreme outcomes. We've had a record-breaking mild winter on the Commie West Coast. Had a colleague who sits on multiple water boards as an advisor complain that there were AGW skeptics on the boards who sit in the meetings and wonder why the snow pack is melting earlier and earlier each year and how expensive and difficult it will be to build more dams and storage reservoirs and pump-transfers.

Randall: "You ought to read MIT prof Richard Lindzen on global warming. I like that he's calmer about it."

Lindzen's calmer because he has an infra-red iris hypothesis tha the clings to. He may be right in the long run (like, say, over 10,000-100,000 years or so), but it's not salient for the short-term situation: he lost this argument in J. Meteorology about eight years ago to Fu et al, who evaluated the feedback effect of increased water vapor in the atmosphere as being mildly positive, not strongly negative as Lindzen conjectured.

Bart said at March 9, 2009 2:34 PM:
"I think it imprudent to assume that CO2 has no net effect on temperature. I think the case for warming has not been disproven."

Nobody said it did not. This is a strawman argument. You just do not understand the concept of feedback, and it is useless to try to explain further.

"Actually Bart is dismissing a CalTech prof."

I am dismissing first your interpretation of what a CalTech prof may or may not have stated, in an area in which he may or may not have expertise. But, if it ever comes to the point were I am pitting my wits against a CalTech prof, or MIT or wherever, it will not be the first time, and I have held my own in such encounters, and my arguments have prevailed in not a few instances. Ad verecundium arguments have little sway with me. I have never understood the urge to abdicate one's thought processes to another based on their reputation alone.

"When you stop identifying with "us" and "them", and start thinking about issues with an open mind instead of just buying the unrealistic stuff that comes from people and sites into which that you've mistakenly placed your trust, we'll all get farther."

LOL. Pot, meet kettle. Nick, simply put, your elementary errors in arithmetic and constant harping on points you have already lost or which are beside the topic of conversation have convinced me that there is no advantage in furthering the discussion. You need to shoot less from the hip if you want to be taken seriously.

I am done with this thread. Until we meet again...

Randall Parker said at March 9, 2009 2:45 PM:

Bart,

You can click thru and read what Goodstein said.

Strawmen and AGW: Several people in the last day have come to my site and claimed that the AGW theory is bunk, discredited, disproven, etc. Stating that the theory is not disproven does not constitute making a strawman argument.

So far you have not brought up any data. You just huff and puff and make assertions and tell other people they do not get feedbacks and other basics. This is easy commenting on your part. Minimal effort. But totally unproductive.

Randall Parker said at March 9, 2009 2:47 PM:

Bart,

And to be clear: Yes, you are dismissing what Goodstein said since it clearly contradicts your claim about needed land area.

Wun who Nose said at March 9, 2009 2:50 PM:

"I think the assertion that the Medieval Warm Period was localized to Europe is wrong."

Yes, it was somewhat localized to the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Tropical coral proxies give the opposite signal to the MWP in the Northern Hemisphere. See Cobb, Kim M.; Chris Charles, Hai Cheng, R. Lawrence Edwards (July 8, 2003). "The Medieval Cool Period And The Little Warm Age In The Central Tropical Pacific? Fossil Coral Climate Records Of The Last Millennium".

Nick G said at March 9, 2009 2:56 PM:

"LOL. Pot, meet kettle."

Yeah, I didn't have much hope of communicating. It was worth a try.

"elementary errors in arithmetic"

You haven't pointed out a single one.

"points you have already lost or which are beside the topic of conversation"

Please, show me some. Heck, it would be nice to resolve just a single one of our points of contention.

Bart said at March 9, 2009 3:03 PM:
"That's a heroic assumption on your part, Bart"

Not an assumption. I gave my reasons.

"Shame about those land use changes, eh?"

Indeed it is. There used to be a beautiful elm forest up the road from me. It was cut down to make way for a new subdivision. But, this is not an argument against my thesis, merely a suggestion of how it might be undone. Perhaps you should campaign to save the rain forests, rather than to force people to do the government's bidding in the name of "saving the planet" based on a faux "emergency".

"Also, at least the last time I was following this, Jasper Ridge at Stanford's tests showed decrease in plant growth under a warmer and/or drier, increase CO2 scenario."

Amazing how, when a researcher sets out to "prove" something, they usually do, eh?

"No, because the acidification of the ocean shifts the carbonate-hydrogencarbonate balance. It becomes harder for animals to build up calcium carbonate. Just because you wish something to be so doesn't make it so."

And, just because you speculate how something might happen does not make it so. The "acidification of the ocean" to date is not huge, and it remains more alkaline than acidic.

"Apart from the odd Ice Age or four. Here's a hint: natural cycles with with periods measured in tens of millenia are going to be cold comfort in a crisis unfolding on a decadal timescale, in the same way hitting a wall at 1 mph is a different experience than hitting it at 100 mph."

Here's a hint: circulus in probando. You have, in effect, already assumed that CO2 is the driving agent. My claim is that CO2 is part of the feedback system, and that rapid rises and falls in temperature are due to external forcings. These forcings would exist with or without anthropogenic CO2 abatement.

"Also, at the start of the interglacials, from Vostok core data, CO2 lagged temperature. This time, CO2 is leading temperature: that should tell you This Is Something Different."

Indeed, something is. This time around, we have a whole industry dedicated to proving they can observe phenomena which are not yet observable.

"Err, you trap more energy into a system and you're going to get more extreme outcomes."

Well, isn't that convenient. Karl Popper, call your office.

Bart said at March 9, 2009 3:17 PM:
"So far you have not brought up any data. You just huff and puff and make assertions and tell other people they do not get feedbacks and other basics. This is easy commenting on your part. Minimal effort. But totally unproductive."

Yes, because this is an informal discussion arena and the empirical data is vast, and I have no intention of fighting on your turf and letting you bog me down in minutiae. I am trying to make you glimpse the forest for the trees. It would be counterproductive for me to then help you in cataloging the trees. I would advise you that those who try to overwhelm you with factoids (small grains of truth surrounded by layers of obfuscation and strategic omission) are not trying to convince you, but to bamboozle you.

I am giving you leads on topics which, if you are honest and intelligent, you will research on your own and, eventually, draw the same conclusions as have I. My main goal is to puncture the comfortable rationalizations you have internalized and make you see that complicated subjects are complicated, and you should not blithely surrender your capacity for critical thinking to the fashions of the moment.

I once thought as you do. I accepted every new doomsday scenario with jejune innocence that those who proclaimed the cataclysms to come were acting on principle and in the interests of all. After witnessing a lifetime of deceit and failed prophecies, and the steady accumulation of wealth by the doom merchants, you will forgive me if I have become not a little cynical. One day, you will be, too.

Randall Parker said at March 9, 2009 3:30 PM:

Bart,

You are not giving me new leads. I've heard better arguments elsewhere. I read much more substantive criticisms of various studies related to AGW elsewhere.

Look at "Wun who Nose". He at least bothers to come up with cites from the research literature. I read Benny Peiser's CCNet list and he's quite the AGW skeptic. But he also includes abstracts and sometimes even full bodies of research papers that are germane to the debate. He also publishes emails from climate researchers. I get real substance from all that. What I get from you is lofty assertions that I am caught in "comfortable rationalizations". You really ought to read my archives before you make such an ill-founded assertion.

Complicated subjects are complicated. Duh. Who knew?

Wun who Nose said at March 9, 2009 3:47 PM:

"Not an assumption. I gave my reasons."

No, you asserted that CO2 would equilibrate over geological time. This is true, but irrelevant. The concern is whether increasing CO2 will affect us more adversely than the

Me:"No, because the acidification of the ocean shifts the carbonate-hydrogencarbonate balance. It becomes harder for animals to build up calcium carbonate.

Bart: "And, just because you speculate how something might happen does not make it so. The "acidification of the ocean" to date is not huge,"

30% shift in hydrogen ion concentration in the surface ocean over the industrial age. You forget pH is a log scale.

"and it remains more alkaline than acidic."

Oh for Christ's sake. I have to do everything for you, don't I?

CO2 + H2O = HC03(-) + H(+)

H(+) + CO3(2-) = HCO3(-)

So, as acidity increases, the equilibrium between carbonate and hydrogencarbonate shifts to hydrogencarbonate.

Ca(2+) + CO3(-2) = CaCO3

The lower the concentration of carbonate in the water, the more the equilibrium shifts towards calcium remaining in solution. This is high school level p-chem.
Or, more simply: does chalk dissolve more as you shift the solution towards greater acidity?

For empirical validation re. carbonate deposition, see: http://www.nyas.org/annals/pdf/v1134_guinotte.pdf

Quote:
"Evidence from species tested to date indicate that
the calcification rates of tropical reef-building
corals will be reduced by 20–60% at double
preindustrial CO2 concentrations"

I really wish more folks assailing AGW as being unscientific would, umm, read the primary literature rather than the less than authoritative Some Guy's Opinion on a Website.


"Well, isn't that convenient."

Straight outta IPCC 4AR.

Randall:

"Strawmen and AGW: Several people in the last day have come to my site and claimed that the AGW theory is bunk, discredited, disproven, etc. Stating that the theory is not disproven does not constitute making a strawman argument.

So far you have not brought up any data. You just huff and puff and make assertions and tell other people they do not get feedbacks and other basics. This is easy commenting on your part. Minimal effort. But totally unproductive."

Kudos to Randall for calling out the AGW skeptics.

Wun who Nose said at March 9, 2009 3:57 PM:

"Perhaps you should campaign to save the rain forests"

The rain forests are under threat because they have no economic value compared to cutting them down for cropland. Put a price on CO2, and they have an economic value. Kapish?

Wun who Nose said at March 9, 2009 4:10 PM:

"I read Benny Peiser's CCNet list and he's quite the AGW skeptic. But he also includes abstracts and sometimes even full bodies of research papers that are germane to the debate. He also publishes emails from climate researchers."

You're more charitable to Peiser than I would be: he lost credibility in my eyes when he took on Oreskes and claimed he'd found 34 abstracts refuting AGW, as opposed to Oreskes, who found none. When the 34 abstracts of papers were examined by other, turned he had only correctly read one out of all of those; which was an editorial piece in a petroleum geologist trade journal. [In fairness, Peiser admitted his mistake when pointed out to him.] A 4% accuracy rate ain't the mark of a careful researcher.

Wun who Nose said at March 9, 2009 4:27 PM:

Randall, a link to a recent review paper summarizing the state of play with the assessment of feedback effect of increased water vapor in the atmosphere.

http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/dessler09.pdf

Lindzen's Iris hypothesis hasn't worn well over time. Which is a shame: I'd really, really, really love for him to be right, or at least slightly less wrong. Then we'd have more time to shift to Whatever Technologies and Infrastructure That Will Save Our Bacon.

Bart said at March 9, 2009 4:58 PM:
"No, you asserted that CO2 would equilibrate over geological time. This is true, but irrelevant."

No, I asserted that A) the carbon-temperature system is stable, i.e., dominated by negative feedback, as is confirmed by the historic record B) in such a system, a 3% increase in CO2 emissions by itself will result in only a 3% increase in overall concentrations C) that therefore the accumulation we are seeing is due to non-anthropogenic forcings D) that the historic record shows that direct CO2 forcing is not the only way to get a rise in CO2 concentration and E) that the models used by the AGW believers necessarily assume positive feedback, which is not supported by the historical record, and that without positive, or at least non-negative, feedback (the latter of which would have led to unbounded random walk type behavior in the past in the unlikely event you could balance the feedbacks perfectly) the AGW models do not predict rising temperatures.

If you do not understand these things, I cannot ameliorate a many-year deficiency in your formal education on this board.

This is the forest. You can investigate and catalog and wonder at the trees to your hearts content, but no matter how much of the immense pile of both scholarly and dubious research you imbibe, you will never get the complete picture, and your perspective will be either shaped by your prejudices, or the last thing you read.

"30% shift in hydrogen ion concentration in the surface ocean over the industrial age. You forget pH is a log scale."

This is a good example of how to lie with numbers. When you are so close to neutral, any change is magnified in percentage terms.

"Oh for Christ's sake. I have to do everything for you, don't I?"

Worship me. Bow down to my superior knowledge. Do not question it. Obey.

""Evidence from species tested to date indicate that the calcification rates of tropical reef-building corals will be reduced by 20–60% at double preindustrial CO2 concentrations"

Please pay careful attention to that phrase "..will be reduced.... In other words, he is saying his evidence is proof of incipient disaster projected by his theory, because his theory says that is what the evidence will be. Please review circulus in probando.

"Kudos to Randall for calling out the AGW skeptics."

Good boy! You have earned your master's pleasure. And, pay no attention to that lull in temperatures behind the curtain.

"Straight outta IPCC 4AR"

To hell with the scientific method. I will tell you what to believe.

"The rain forests are under threat because they have no economic value compared to cutting them down for cropland. Put a price on CO2, and they have an economic value. Kapish? [sic]"

Yeah, I capische just fine. Gin up a panic so you can get the lemmings off their lazy butts and make them do something you want them to do. Surely, such good intentions could not produce unintended consequences?

Nick G said at March 9, 2009 5:06 PM:

"After witnessing a lifetime of deceit and failed prophecies"

Bart, I fully agree that there are a lot of silly apocalyptic predictions out there (and always have been). OTOH, some problems are real, if solvable. Y2K is an example of a things which were/are completely solvable. Peak Oil is another problem which is solvable, with some difficulty (though some people are getting really apocalyptic about the effects). Other problems seem to be harder, like GW - in part because so many people in affected industries see their careers and investments as threatened. For instance, a shift to more efficient cars happens to help Asian car companies, so Detroit will fight it.

I've actually had this kind of conversation in reverse with Peak Oil apcolypticons, oddly enough, so I have some sympathy with your feelings. I just happen to think that in this case you've got the wrong side of the debate.

The interesting thing? If both sides hang in on the debate, and are willing to listen, eventually they get somewhere! Positions converge, areas of consensus emerge, agreement arises. Can you do that, or do you just want to be right?

Jimf said at March 9, 2009 5:19 PM:

"Any other questions?" Sure. As asked above, why were c02 readings up to eight times higher during the Crustaceaus Period? And again, one of the most important, why is this, and who said that it should be, the "correct" temp for the earth? Show us proof that this average earth temp at the present time is what it "should" be. You can`t. It`s impossible to do. The point being, even if proved man caused the warming (it hasn`t), there is no way to prove that, say, 5 degrees warmer would be a bad thing. Maybe way more beneficial. Oh and one more. PROOF OF GLOBAL WARMING IS NOT PROOF THAT GREENHOUSE GASES CAUSED THAT WARMING. Anything that heats the planet, will in time melt ice, cause droughts,ect. None of those tell us why the planet got warmer. Sorry, but only in Liberal land do computer models count as "evidence". Models of complex systems are based on scores of assumptions and estimates on top of dozens of theories. Tell me, why did the computer models not "forecast" that temps would stop rising recently? Early man survived the ice age with all of his limited intellect, and evolved, but this "heating" is so terrible that we won`t? Ok. Here, I`ll help you. THIS would be evidence that carbon is a major cause of global warming: If temps. followed co2 levels in the past. (They didn`t) If the atmosphere showed the characteristic heating pattern of increased greenhouse warming. (It doesn`t) So, what evidence is there that co2 forces temperatures up higher?

Bart said at March 9, 2009 5:20 PM:
"Positions converge, areas of consensus emerge, agreement arises"

I don't think so. The sides are too locked into position. Only the climate trajectory in the next decade or so will resolve the issue. If I were on the pro-AGW side, I would be sweating, and not from the heat.

By the way, I hope anyone reading this thread will notice I have been challenged on the efficacy of negative feedback from vegetation, and on the absorption of CO2 in the oceans, but nobody wants to go anywhere near the subject of cloud cover. Why? Because it is a great big gap of knowledge in climate science.

You would think scientists would strive to more fully understand a subject before betting the ranch, their reputations and the esteem of their profession in the public eye, on such thinly sourced information. Can you imagine the field day the creationists are going to have with this? "Oh, Evolution? How about that Global Warming thing? You sure showed us how ignorant we were on that!"

This is what I am mostly PO'ed about. These numbskulls stole my professional honor and hocked it to take a roll at the craps table.

Randall Parker said at March 9, 2009 5:31 PM:

Wun who Nose,

My point about Benny is that he at least holds the research papers as relevant and sees it as important to point to the papers. Whether he interprets them correctly is another issue. Whether he attaches excess importance to a paper that favors his viewpoint is again another issue. Compared to most AGW skeptics I encounter he is a cut above. A least thinks looking at individual papers is important. You can actually get some sense reading him what the best qualified skeptics think. This compares very favorably what passes for global warming debate in the mainstream press.

I also think Benny does a good job of reporting the political and diplomatic dynamics of AGW. He points at a lot of mainstream news articles about internal EU debates, factions and interest groups, key negotiations, and interactions between the EU, US, Japan, China, Russia, and other major players. Without doing daily Google News searches myself I can read him and follow German and other EU industry leaders making the case that carbon emissions restrictions will just drive heavy industry out of the EU. Made me expect the same (and seemingly correct) arguments in the US once Obama proposed carbon emissions restrictions. Will the US make the same kinds of exceptions that the EU made. I expect so. Otherwise the US and EU steel and chemical industry will decamp for China.

Nick G,

Our disagreement about Peak Oil boils down to a question of capital replacement. While I do not foresee the collapse of civilization I do think that the costs and lead times on capital replacement and lead times in organizing new industries around new ways of doing things will cause a long deep recession as Peak Oil's decline hits full force.

I've become more pessimistic about Peak Oil due to the financial crisis. Imagine how bad the next financial crisis will get when the amount of oil available is declining 3%-10% per year.

Nick G said at March 9, 2009 6:39 PM:

Bart,

"If I were on the pro-AGW side, I would be sweating, and not from the heat."

Well, this gets down to whether one is more interested in the issue, or one's reputation. While I care about my reputation (and you'll notice I've made very few specific arguments about GW, as I don't pretend to know it in detail), I hope that I'm more interested in getting ideas right, especially where it affects people's lives. I would hope that those who are advocating strongly for GW mitigation would feel relieved to find that their fears were wrong.

th said at March 9, 2009 7:05 PM:

Since there isn't any hard evidence of CO2, isn't the whole theory based on these models?
http://icecap.us/docs/change/GreenhouseWarmingScorecard.pdf
Boring, too plain, low tech but here's some real evidence, maunder minimum, dalton minimum, modern maximum. Some climate scientists are now suggesting that agw may be put on hold for some 30 years if the solar cycles don't cooperate, it really points to an epic amount of smoke blown up the agw ass as the faithful scramble to bedazzle and befuddle each other with lofty babble, it ought to be fun to watch as the govt subsidies fly off the rack to get their agenda cemented before the idiots wake up.

Wun who Nose said at March 9, 2009 10:49 PM:

Bart: "No, I asserted that A) the carbon-temperature system is stable,"

Apart from those ice age thingys.

Bart: "i.e., dominated by negative feedback, as is confirmed by the historic record"

What historic record? This is the geological record (strictly, glaciological record) over Glacial Eras.

Bart: "B) in such a system, a 3% increase in CO2 emissions by itself will result in only a 3% increase in overall concentrations

No: you've assumed away the problem. Only 50-60% of the anthropogenic CO2 form fossil fuel burning has been absorbed. We know this from isotopic carbon ratios. See http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/faq.html and http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter2.pdf

Bart:"C) that therefore the accumulation we are seeing is due to non-anthropogenic forcings"

No. The the Oakridge National Lab site above.

Bart: "D) that the historic record shows that direct CO2 forcing is not the only way to get a rise in CO2 concentration"

The variations in CO2 that you are taking such comfort from did not happen in historical time, but in geologic time. Plus, the CO2 concentrations now are not seen in the Vostok core (400 kyrs) or the EPICA Dome C core (720 kyrs).

Bart again:

"Please pay careful attention to that phrase "..will be reduced.... In other words, he is saying his evidence is proof of incipient disaster projected by his theory, because his theory says that is what the evidence will be.'

You didn't read the paper, did you, for instance the bit that said:
"Hermatypic Corals (Zooxanthellate)
The calcification response of reef-building
corals to decreases in aragonite saturation state
has been well documented for a handful of select
species. These experiments have been conducted
in laboratory tanks and mesocosms, but
to date have not been conducted in in situ field
experiments under “natural” conditions. Evidence
from species tested to date indicate that
the calcification rates of tropical reef-building
corals will be reduced by 20–60% at double
preindustrial CO2 concentrations (pCO2 ca.
560 ppmv)"

Bart: "When you are so close to neutral, any change is magnified in percentage terms."

It's a log scale. A shift of 0.2 or 0.5 in the pH scale makes the same change in the concentration of hydrogen ions whether it's close to neutral or pH 10 or 4. Where did you learn your chemistry?

Bart: "I cannot ameliorate a many-year deficiency in your formal education on this board."

I guess I am deficient, as when I make an argument on a scientific topic I feel the need to see what's been published in the scientific journals whether the questions I'm pondering have been answered. You have a marked resistance to this form of doubt and need to verify your own assertions. Your confidence in the knowledge that springs solely from your internal mental processes is indeed of great magnitude.

"By the way, I hope anyone reading this thread will notice I have been challenged on the efficacy of negative feedback from vegetation, and on the absorption of CO2 in the oceans, but nobody wants to go anywhere near the subject of cloud cover. Why? Because it is a great big gap of knowledge in climate science."

I see you don't follow counterarguments. Lindzen got his clock cleaned on this, unfortunately - see the link to the Science review article I posted above.

Nick: "I would hope that those who are advocating strongly for GW mitigation would feel relieved to find that their fears were wrong."

Yeah, I was a AGW agnostic up until 1999 when I got handed writing a report on greenhouse gases for a service company for the refining/chemical industry, and had to read the science. Boy was that an unpleasant shock. And I took over that report from a former ExxonMobil engineer who also got converted when they read the science, too. I'd be frigging delighted to be proved wrong, as I have no desire to either see disaster or have 2% of the economy diverted to internalizing current externalities, but the science has become firmer and firmer over the past twenty years.


Jim F: "Sure. As asked above, why were c02 readings up to eight times higher during the Crustaceaus Period?"

You mean Cretaceous.

Because solar output was 2% lower then. If that doesn't sound significant to you, there was a period in the Ordovician when most landmass was glaciated, despite 12-14x current CO2 concentrations. What's more, GCM models 12 years ago were able to replicate said extreme. See the Crowley and Baum paper at http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/CrowleyBaum1995.pdf

Randall: Again, you're more charitable to Benny than I would be. On the issue of heavy industry, I don't think there's any way for us to convince China and India to price their carbon emissions while we continue not to do so: most of the CO2 excess in the atmosphere is the relic of our industrial economy, not theirs. I think the job would have been a lot easier if we had done so before China and India sank a lot of steel and concrete into coal plants. It will be more expensive than it would have been if we'd priced CO2 a decade earlier.

Randall Parker said at March 9, 2009 11:24 PM:

The latest report on CO2 and coral reefs paints and even grimmer picture:

Stanford, CA— Rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the resulting effects on ocean water are making it increasingly difficult for coral reefs to grow, say scientists. A study to be published online March 13, 2009 in Geophysical Research Letters by researchers at the Carnegie Institution and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem warns that if carbon dioxide reaches double pre-industrial levels, coral reefs can be expected to not just stop growing, but also to begin dissolving all over the world.

The impact on reefs is a consequence of both ocean acidification caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide into seawater and rising water temperatures. Previous studies have shown that rising carbon dioxide will slow coral growth, but this is the first study to show that coral reefs can be expected to start dissolving just about everywhere in just a few decades, unless carbon dioxide emissions are cut deeply and soon.

Wun who Nose said at March 10, 2009 7:30 AM:

"Randall Parker said at March 9, 2009 11:24 PM:
The latest report on CO2 and coral reefs paints and even grimmer picture:"

Yup, but I was trying to ease Bart in, as the poor dear thinks increased CO2 would increase mineralization of carbon. You have to introduce these things gently.

I heard a presentation by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute a few weeks back on ocean acidification, looking into how rapidly would the CO2 mix into the deep ocean (not enough, unfortunately), plus the increased temperature reduces O2 solubility in water, which will stress organisms. Their models are still at a very primitive stage, and there are a lot of unanswered questions (like Peru has a very narrow productive zone because of ocean anoxia, but is still very productive), but the shifts in the ocean ecosystems may be pretty profound.

Nick G said at March 10, 2009 10:19 AM:

"Our disagreement about Peak Oil"

I don't think we differ that much.

"a question of capital replacement

PO is mainly a liquid fuel problem, and cars turn over fairly quickly, even now (9M per year is still not bad). We have substantial idle production currently, and putting it to use making extended range EV's is a social problem which I am reasonably hopeful we'll solve. EREV's are currently ready for production - I recently saw a fully finished production-ready prototype of the Chevy Volt. It's just a matter of ramping them up.

"While I do not foresee the collapse of civilization "

For a signficant % of those in the world of PO, that makes you a "cornucopian". Have you looked at dieoff.com?

"costs and lead times on capital replacement"

The Volt R&D is pretty much done. Production will start in 18 months - that's not bad.

"organizing new industries around new ways of doing things will cause a long deep recession as Peak Oil's decline hits full force"

Well, GDP measure activity, and PO could keep us mighty busy. GDP gets a bump up after natural disasters.

High oil prices hurts the US's GDP mainly because of the income transfer to oil exporting countries. If OEC's can be persuaded to take T-bills, then GDP will be ok (at the cost of a large long-term wealth transfer). After their current reminder that oil prices can also go down, leaving them to live off investments, I think OEC's will be more receptive to that.

The current crisis is largely a failure of petrodollar (and Asian exporter dollar) recycling: low income households were borrowing directly from oil-exporting (and Asian) countries through CDO's, but it turned out they didn't have good collateral, and we're returning to financing our trade deficit with national debt, rather than personal debt. That's much more workable for the long-term.

I'm a bit more pessimistic about GW, and a bit more optimistic about PO, because of their differing dynamics. Take Y2K: it was a problem with a purely man-made system, and so it's cure was relatively straightforward. PO has a geological element, but ultimately it's mostly a problem with human systems - heck, with the right national consensus we could reduce oil consumption by 10% overnight, 25% in 3 months, and 50% in 5 years. GW, OTOH, has enormous lag times, and dynamics which we understand only poorly.

th said at March 10, 2009 3:32 PM:

won who unfortunately writes"
"So, as acidity increases, the equilibrium between carbonate and hydrogencarbonate shifts to hydrogencarbonate."

Got any real data on what that change is now and what the normal balance of sea carbonate and bicarbonate alkalinity is or was before we screwed it up? I bet its less than the increase in atmospheric CO2, something in the range of less than .003%, so here we go again, taking the miniscule and hoping the masses don't get it before the freaks get their way.
Don't include any AGW computer models, they're failing the test of time miserably. yuk yuk.

J.L. said at March 10, 2009 5:47 PM:

"Because solar out put was 2% less then." Really? Were you there? But anyway, thanks for my point. So it`s The Sun that causes "climate change", not man? But we already knew that.

Jim said at March 11, 2009 1:57 PM:

Global warming hasn’t been seen for the past ten years and over the past two years we have witnessed global cooling. This in spite of the fact that CO2 levels have continued to increased these past 10 years.
Really. Let's see how the 5-year averages are trending,eh? Wouldn't want to use noisy data


But using Hansen's data is not what you would call reliable or unbiased. Hansen runs the data you posted here. Since he has called for putting people who doubt global warming on trial I would call him a fanatic and unreliable.

Much better is the satelite data. Here's a posting about the discrepencies. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/02/a_tale_of_two_thermometers/

Wun who Nose said at March 11, 2009 2:01 PM:

J.L. wrote "Really? Were you there?"

No, it comes from stellar astrophysics. See http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/198/4321/1035.

"But anyway, thanks for my point. So it`s The Sun that causes "climate change", not man?

Jesus, you guys are ignoramuses of the first water. This is a trend over tens of millions of years, 30% over the entire ~5 billion yr. lifetime of the sun. Milankovich cycles are like blinks of an eye compared to it.

Climate change in the past, by definition, wasn't anthropogenic. That doesn't mean that this current climate change is not anthropogenic.

Wun who Nose said at March 11, 2009 2:04 PM:

"Got any real data on what that change is now and what the normal balance of sea carbonate and bicarbonate alkalinity is or was before we screwed it up?"

See: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2005.04.027

Honisch and Hemming, "Surface ocean pH response to variations in pCO2 through two full glacial cycles". Minimum pH using for the past 400,000 years, using proxy data from Boron-11 content in planktonic foraminifera shells was 8.11 at 123,000 yrs before present. CO2 in Vostok cores and estimated pH were closely coupled. The most recent pre-industrial measurement in Honisch's work 8.16 pH 4,000 years ago. Currently, its ~8.1. We're already below the levels found for the past 400,000 years.

Also, see this nature article here: http://www.ipsl.jussieu.fr/~jomce/acidification/paper/Orr_OnlineNature04095.pdf

And here: http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=13314:

"Based upon current measurements of ocean pH, analysis of
CO2 concentration in ice cores, our understanding of the
rate of CO2 absorption and retention in the surface oceans,
and knowledge of the CaCO3 buffer (Section 2.2.2), it is
possible to calculate that the pH of the surface oceans was
0.1 units higher in pre-industrial times (Caldeira & Wickett
2003; Key et al 2004). This 0.1 pH change over about the
past 200 years corresponds to about a 30% increase in the
concentration of hydrogen ions."

It took me about 10 seconds of Googling to find two papers, ten minutes to digest them, and about another two minutes to find the Hemming paper on pH variations over the past two glacial eras.

My experience with you skeptics is that you expect to be spoon-fed data and then refuse to read material contradicting your point of view. You think you can refute hard-won scientific consensus by conspiracy theories and unfounded speculations on the sociology of climate researchers or because Al Gore is getting fat. And all of you to a man (and you're overwhelmingly men) have not bothered your arses to read the IPCC 4AR or even an undergraduate-level textbook on the carbon cycle and climatology. It's the equivalent of someone who's read a webpage on homeopathic remedies thinking they can refute the opinion of, say, immunologists or oncologists on how to treat AIDS or pancreatic cancer. You're too lazy to do the spadework to have an informed opinion, and are too intellectually incurious and blinkered to know how goddamn uninformed your gut instincts are. If gut instincts were reliable, we wouldn't need scientific research.

"bet its less than the increase in atmospheric CO2, something in the range of less than .003%"

You lost that bet: I've given you Nature, Science, and Royal Society papers refuting you. You can send the check for whatever you think is the appropriate forfeit for being slapped down to www.climateprotect.org.

"I bet its less than the increase in atmospheric CO2"

Nope, proxy records indicate that the pH in surface strongly tracks atmospheric CO2. See the Honisch paper above.

For projections of the future, see here:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v425/n6956/full/425365a.html

"Based on the record of atmospheric CO2 levels over the past 300 Myr and our geochemical model, there is no evidence that ocean pH was more than 0.6 units lower than today. Our general circulation model results indicate that continued release of fossil-fuel CO2 into the atmosphere could lead to a pH reduction of 0.7 units [Wun who Nose note: by around 2000]. We conclude that unabated CO2 emissions over the coming centuries may produce changes in ocean pH that are greater than any experienced in the past 300 Myr, with the possible exception of those resulting from rare, catastrophic events in Earth's history."

Wun who Nose said at March 11, 2009 2:14 PM:

"Much better is the satelite data."

The satellite data has had multiple recalibrations and adjustments. Christy and Spencer made their name on the supposed discrepancy between surface temperature measurements and satellite measurements. Christy and Spencer claimed only a 0.04 deg C/decade trend: they have had to revise that the 0.13 deg C. RSS data shows a 0.15 deg C/decade trend. Fu puts the trend form satellite data at 0.19 deg C/decade, Vinnikov 0.2 deg C/decade. Satellite data is a heck of a lot more controversial than you seem to believe.

Also, the Register's starting their graph during the peak El Nino year of 1998 *is* putting your faith in an outlier in noisy data.

Wun who Nose said at March 11, 2009 2:25 PM:

More on non-existence of supposed conflict between GISSTEMP and MSU data here:

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2007/08/12/before-and-after/

and

http://atmoz.org/blog/2007/08/12/more-gisstemp-and-surface-station-stuff/

J.L. said at March 11, 2009 6:57 PM:

"Spoon fed data and then refuse to read material contradicting your point of view." Pot, meet kettle. You think you can refute hard fought scientific consensus." Ah yes, but science is not a democracy. Now who is the dim bulb? And what about the thousands (and growing) number of scientists that refute MMGW? I guess they don`t count in your "consensus." As said before, some proof of MMGW would be if temps followed co2 levels in the past (they don`t). And you`ll say they do, buts that`s the problem. There are many who disagree(scientists) with growing numbers, so why spend trillions that could be better spent else where than on a "theory"? And why are the non-believer numbers growing? Why was there a consensus about the coming ice age in the 70`s? You seem to accuse in others what you do yourself- that is, pick and choose which arguments to answer. Again, how is it decided that this is the "optimal" temperature for the planet? You can`t. And there isn`t an optimal temp for the earth- that`s why it has and always will keep changing. And that nagging question is central to your theory. I love the arrogance of you guys- the earth has been here, what, 4 billion years, and the reign of man is like a second out of a hundred years (or so), but the temp going up a few degrees (even though it`s gone much higher, and lower, in the past), is so horrible? Ok. Life survived, and thrived much, much worse, and evolved in spite or because of it. Sort of like: The patient, when very young, survived cancer and many other diseases. And did this all without a doctor. But now he (may) have a cold, so let`s spend trillions on a first year medical student to fix him! Oh, and call us when Al Gore has the guts to debate anybody in public. We`re waiting.

th said at March 11, 2009 7:29 PM:

one who... I thought since you are the resident chemist you could provide the relevant numbers as to how much human related activity has reduced sea levels of bicarbonate alkalinity. The overwhelming googlecrap didn't do it. Sea alkalinity, specifically the shift in concentrations of bicarbonate, was your main point, it had nothing to do with pH, which has no direct correlation with alkalinity levels.
Slogging thru the mass of nonsense i thought this one was notable..."This 0.1 pH change over about the past 200 years corresponds to about a 30% increase in the
concentration of hydrogen ions."
I figured the difference between 8.0 and 8.1 is a .02 difference in hydrogen ions, not 30%, so go prove that one wrong. BTW, .1 in 200 years is as big a crisis as .6 degrees temp rise in 120 years. google "royal society and this house believes global warming is a crisis" apparently you guys got your ass kicked in the bosom of liberal stupidity, the idiots are waking up.

Randall Parker said at March 11, 2009 8:58 PM:

Nick G,

Peak Oil versus AGW: Peak Oil has the advantage of causing a shorter term necessity with personal direct feedbacks. When the oil production starts the big decline people will have to come up with solutions. Their choices will be so stark and immediate that they'll act, invest, move, research, insulate, cut back. Each person will see immediate costs and benefits for their own decisions.

I am thinking that, however, Peak Oil helps with AGW in two ways:

1) Peak Oil will accelerate the shift to electric cars. Electricity has many ways to get generated, some much cleaner than others. That shift makes it easier because the cost differences btw the dirtier and cleaner ways to generate electricity aren't huge and they are narrowing.

2) We will do more insulating and have more incentives to develop more efficient ways to use energy.

My guess is that domestic opposition to coal plants will stop coal's growth in the US and then we will use less oil. So the US CO2 production trend will start going downward (if it isn't already trending downward). It is Asia that will keep producing more and more CO2 emissions.

Randall Parker said at March 11, 2009 9:02 PM:

J.L.,

When it comes to climate change there's not an either-or. There are several factors that have caused big climate changes in the planet's history:

1) Changes in the sun's output.

2) Big asteroids.

3) Volcanic eruptions - in some cases huge ones.

4) Plate tectonics. Movement of continents together and apart and between the poles caused climate change by changing water transfers and rain patterns.

5) Materials coming in from outside the solar system.

We humans are adding another cause.

Wun who Nose said at March 11, 2009 10:44 PM:

" Ah yes, but science is not a democracy. Now who is the dim bulb?"

It's not a democracy. Not everyone gets to determine what science is. Only those who are capable of doing research deemed, by their peer through peer review, as being significant and salient to the field and of sufficient quality to be disemminated and . That's the case in molecular biology, geochemistry, particle physics, immunology.

You wouldn't expect to have an input into say, the nature of dark matter, or the . Why do you think you or some list of drawn up by a former staffer, with no scientific background, of Sen. Inhofe is remotely relevant? Especially

"And what about the thousands (and growing) number of scientists that refute MMGW?"

No, they don't count. Only published climatologists count - not even an eminent physicist like Freeman Dyson. And the resutls of a survey of climatologists published in Eos that was cited above: in that survey, 97% of climatologists who had published in the last 5 years supported AGW. In the peer-reviewed scientific literature, the consensus is overwhelming. Oreskes published a survey where no abstracts refuting AGW were found in Web of Science search. Even AGW skeptic Benny Peiser had to admit he was only able to find one article in a similar search (which was an editorial piece in a petroleum geology trade journal).
What climatologists decide is the state of the art of the science is what counts. Sorry.

It's not a democracy, and not every scientist or technologist gets a say.

"I guess they don`t count in your "consensus."

If they're not climatologists, they don't. Any more than a mechanical engineer or a botanist gets to weigh in on the effectiveness of a DNA vaccine against Hep B.

Wun who Nose said at March 11, 2009 11:02 PM:

"I figured the difference between 8.0 and 8.1 is a .02 difference in hydrogen ions, not 30%, so go prove that one wrong."

Well:
1. You don't know pH is a log scale

2. You didn't realize that pH is a log scale *even though* I mentioned it upthread.

You can guess exactly how credible I think you are on ocean/geochemistry right now.

"Sea alkalinity, specifically the shift in concentrations of bicarbonate, was your main point, it had nothing to do with pH, which has no direct correlation with alkalinity levels."

Read the goddamn thread, and the material I posted, which evidently you didn't understand.

Total alkalinity is not the issue. The issue is the shift in the concentration of carbonate, which as it goes down reduces the ability of coral, plankton, etc. to mineralize carbonate, which is a carbon sink. And the carbonate/hydrogencarbonate balance is affected by pH. We're seen the reduced ability for corals and plankton to mineralize under increased atmospheric CO2 partial pressure in experimental tests and in the field. Therefore hoping that increase mineralization of CO2 is going to bring everything to the equilibrium that *in the near term*, as Bart argued above, is foolish: that sink is reducing, not increasing, right now. Over millenia or tens of millenia, maybe, but that's not going to do us any good.

If you'd read the abstracts above, you'd have seen that CO2 concentrations and surface ocean pH are coupled.

Wun who Nose said at March 11, 2009 11:17 PM:

"And there isn`t an optimal temp for the earth- that`s why it has and always will keep changing."

So, if my house is on fire, I shouldn't get concerned. After all, during the Hadean Epoch, the ground my house was on was molten, so what odds, we're just insignificant specks in the universe living for a blip. Or if I get blown up, well, we were all once plasma from a

I can't believe you think the above is an argument. We didn't have a large, complex society with a complex economy back in the Ice Ages, and we didn't exist for most of Earth's existence. The fact that the Earth went through much slower swings in temperature in past geological eras is irrelevant to whether we are better off mitigating CO2 emissions (and every CO2 molecule we emit hangs around for 50-200 years into the future, causing more mischief) by sacrificing a portion of GDP, or not bother and bet that 97% of climatologists are wrong.

Estimates that I'd seen for the cost of CO2 mitigation would mean instead of our standard of living in GDP/capita to quadrupuling by 2100, we'd have to wait until 2105. Wow.

Nick G said at March 12, 2009 9:48 AM:

Randall,

I agree with your thoughts on Peak Oil versus AGW.

A few more:

"the cost differences btw the dirtier and cleaner ways to generate electricity aren't huge and they are narrowing"

1) There's some indication that new coal has overall costs similar to or higher than wind! Some proposed coal plants in the US (not sequestering carbon, but cleaning up all other index pollutants, like mercury) have capital costs around $2.5/W, which gives overall costs of $.08-.09/KWH, which is higher than wind: http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/6/4/123223/5089 . Now, some of this may have been a temporary capex cost problem, due to a construction bubble, but....it kind've looks like coal is no longer the cheap option.

2) There is a plausible argument that the swing night-time electricity producer for the near-term will be coal, and that therefore new demand, like electric vehicle (EREV/PHEV/EVs), will be mostly supplied by coal (which has spare night-time capacity). Even so, it looks like EV's will produce less CO2 than ICE's.

3) Demand Side Management of electric vehicle charging (and, later, V2G) provides, in effect, almost free storage to wind power. Wind and EV's are synergistic. More electric vehicles supports a higher grid market share for wind power.

"It is Asia that will keep producing more and more CO2 emissions."

The faster we deploy new, cheaper renewable power and electric vehicles, and the sooner we achieve economies of scale, the sooner those things can move to Asia and displace coal. I know you've said that before...but it's worth saying again.

I think we agree that there' isn't a significant conflict between solving PO and solving climate change, and that in fact solutions for one are generally helpful for the other.

The one exception may be a move from oil-fired electrical generation to coal: I believe about 25% of world oil consumption is for electrical generation. I kind've think that move won't happen very much, however, as 1) coal isn't really cheap, as we saw above; 2) much of the world's coal is in the US, which probably won't be excited about large coal exports; 3) many countries will put at least a small implicit price on the emissions (both index and CO2); and 4) wind and solar tend to have lower incremental costs and shorter lead times, which helps off-set their higher capital costs.

JoeKing said at March 12, 2009 12:02 PM:

"No, they don't count. Only published climatologists count - not even an eminent physicist like Freeman Dyson. And the resutls of a survey of climatologists published in Eos that was cited above: in that survey, 97% of climatologists who had published in the last 5 years supported AGW. In the peer-reviewed scientific literature, the consensus is overwhelming. Oreskes published a survey where no abstracts refuting AGW were found in Web of Science search. Even AGW skeptic Benny Peiser had to admit he was only able to find one article in a similar search (which was an editorial piece in a petroleum geology trade journal).
What climatologists decide is the state of the art of the science is what counts. Sorry."


No offense, but that is perhaps the most arrogant, closed minded, elitist statement I've read in years. So not only is the debate over, but you are telling us WHO is "worthy" of comment....OMG. So the 97% climateologists are now the keepers of.."THE KNOWLEDGE" & the heretics are banished from the temple. How dare you set the qualifications of participants in the debate & what "is the state of the art of science"; what unmitigated hubris..get over yourself.

Slight problem...the annointed DON'T have the KNOWLEDGE. If they did the evidence would be so OVERWHELMING that even the "not counting" would believe....or are they all on Exxon's payroll or just too stupid? There was a concensus on geocentricity to.

Wun who Nose said at March 12, 2009 1:32 PM:

"No offense, but that is perhaps the most arrogant, closed minded, elitist statement I've read in years."

Sorry, science is an elite occupation. What else would you call an occupation where you serve an apprenticeship until you're 30, and then only have a slight chance of becoming an academic? Not everyone gets in, not everyone gets a say.

"the heretics are banished from the temple."

Only the heretics weren't. Spencer was even a prime author on a chapter of the TAR. Lindzen was an prominent author on the TAR also. We've had over two decades of research and debate within the academy on this, and the AGW hypothesis won in the peer-reviewed literature and amongst the People Who Do Climatology for A Living.

"If they did the evidence would be so OVERWHELMING that even the "not counting" would believe"

I'll cite a verse from the Sura 'The Spider' from the Koran: "..avoid the ignorant,...they will remain long in error, nor will they ever desist."

Let's take a counter-example, though. Kary Mullins, Nobel Prize Winner for discovering PCR technology for amplification of DNA, and without whose contribution modern biotechnology would not exist, doesn't believe HIV causes AIDS. Neither does biochemist Peter Duesburg of UC Berkeley. Does that mean that we shouldn't practice safe sex [or abstinence, according to your preference] to prevent the spread of HIV? After all, if the evidence is overwhelming that HIV causes AIDS, then shouldn't Mullins and Duesburg be convinced? Should we sit on our hands and not combat the spread of HIV because a tiny minority of life scientists cling to their ideas, despite them being refuted two decades ago?

If you [like me] feel that the overwhelming but not unanimous consensus amongst life scientists that HIV was the causative agent of AIDS was sufficient to base public health and R&D policy on, why is the overwhelming but not unanimous consensus amongst climatologists about AGW and its adverse effects not sufficient to base public policy on?

"There was a concensus on geocentricity to."

As Sagan said, "They laughed at Galileo. They laughed at Copernicus. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."

Bob Badour said at March 12, 2009 2:14 PM:

Wun who Nose,

You seem to have confused academia with science. Each can exist quite independently from the other and often do.

Sock Puppet of the Great Satan said at March 12, 2009 3:53 PM:

"You seem to have confused academia with science. Each can exist quite independently from the other and often do."

Sure: Mullins did his work at Cetus pharmaceuticals. But corporate labs as a source of cutting-edge basic research are less and less the case with the demise of all but a few of the great corporate R&D labs. (The Bayh-Dole act indirectly made it more attractive to reduce internal R&D and license technology in from universities.) That doesn't diminish the fact the number of people working at the leading edge of a scientific field is a select few, who have to do their apprenticeship before contributing: and with the growth in post-doc positions, it's even more grueling. Name me a granting foundation that will consider a giving a grant to PI without a Ph.D in the relevant field. Science hasn't been the domain of gentleman amateurs for a century (except for astronomy, where amateurs do continue to make contributions).

JoeKing said at March 12, 2009 5:01 PM:

Not everyone gets in, not everyone gets a say.

Who makes the decision as to who speaks? I must have missed this in social studies class. I've deluded myself for years thinking the opposite..especially on such a controversial topic. Are you suggesting a self-appointed cult of academics to rule the un-enlightened by fiat...wow..call for Mr.Orwell. I used to respect science & scientists for their willingness to debate contrarian viewpoints...why has it all changed? Immediate impending demise of the eco-system...please


"..avoid the ignorant,...

You really are full of yourself..aren't you? Has there ever been a moment of doubt for you that the current AGW theory could actually be wrong? What will you say if actual events prove it false? Is there ANYTHING that could dis-prove it? (and yes, I DO accept the possibility of it existing..just see too much contradictory evidence)

Re: Aids/HIV

Are you saying that the relationship between man-made CO2 & climate change is at the same level of certainty as HIV to Aids...amazing


J.L. said at March 12, 2009 8:58 PM:

"What climatologists decide is the state of the art of the science is what counts." And the number of climatologists against AGW grows every day. I`m sorry, i forgot- where did Al Gore get his climatology degree? " Not every scientist gets a say." If there`re proven right, they do. If the high school kid down the block proves AGW is bullshit, he`ll get a "say" over everybody. "Concensus among scientists is that HIV was causitive of AIDS was sufficient to base public health policy on, why not use (same logic on) AGW" First of all, it`s a bull shit anology. AGW "solutions" would affect everybody world wide in increased energy taxes, just to name one. AIDS affected a small segment of society. And you missed the most important one- Everyone that was of high chance to be harmed by HIV WANTED to have public policy based on said assumptions. Not everyone, by a long shot, wants their life changed by your GW "solutions". My God, my high school son could argue with you using simple logic! More-( in regards to " who determined that this is the ideal temp.") "We didn`t have large complex societies in Ice Ages." Exactly. We had very primitive ones. They survived. But we can`t? I see, we`re a lot less able to cope because we have "complex societies", even though the intellect compared to those ice age societies is a thousand -fold. Ok. "The fact that the earth went through much slower swings in temps. is irrelevant." Says who? I see, the facts from the past that fit you narritive are relevant, while those that don`t are irrelevant. And by the way, you still haven`t answered how this is the "correct" temperature. Nice end-around try, though. Basically saying,"My experts are better than your experts" is no argumentat all. Lame, very lame

Randall Parker said at March 12, 2009 9:58 PM:

Sock Puppet of the Great Satan,

Aside on grants policy: If it was up to me a substantial chunk of grant money would be allocated to Ph.D.s under the age of 30. The increasing concentration of grant awards in the hands of older researchers is not conducive to innovation.

Wun who Nose said at March 12, 2009 10:11 PM:

"My God, my high school son could argue with you using simple logic!"

Would your high school son also bet "3% of climatologists can't be wrong!", like you?

Wun who Nose said at March 12, 2009 10:23 PM:

'First of all, it`s a bull shit anology. AGW "solutions" would affect everybody world wide in increased energy taxes, just to name one. AIDS affected a small segment of society. And you missed the most important one- Everyone that was of high chance to be harmed by HIV WANTED to have public policy based on said assumptions. Not everyone, by a long shot, wants their life changed by your GW "solutions".'

I'm failing to see how the cost of mitigating something is related to whether or not it is happening or not.

Wun who Nose said at March 12, 2009 10:48 PM:

"We had very primitive ones. They survived."

Yeah, and we went through a bottleneck when population of homo sapiens dropped to 10,000.
It was a close thing. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/prehistoric_life/human/human_evolution/new_batch1.shtml

May I suggest to you that said radical decreases in paleolithic population probably accounted for more than 2% of the paleolithic equivalent of GDP.

"But we can`t? I see, we`re a lot less able to cope because we have "complex societies",
Don't put words into my mouth. I didn't argue that global warming would destory us as a species.

I'm sure if we continue with business as usual, we'll survive. But it will be a much, much more unpleasant, expensive, violent, and destructive one than if we do something *now*. CO2 has a half-life in the atmosphere of 50-200 years. What we do now will affect our descendants for a long time to come.

Besides, I don't want to just survive, or my future grandchildren and great-grandchildren to survive. I want them to prosper.
And I don't want them to end up in this world: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126971.700-how-to-survive-the-coming-century.html

"even though the intellect compared to those ice age societies is a thousand -fold."

But somehow you've excluded "emit less CO2" from the possible solutions created by that increased intellect.

On impacts, see http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg2.htm

Or

Or http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11462-climate-change-a-guide-for-the-perplexed.html

Wun who Nose said at March 12, 2009 10:55 PM:

"Are you suggesting a self-appointed cult of academics to rule the un-enlightened by fiat"

No, I'm suggesting that self-appointed cult(s) of academics decide what is and isn't science and then, when they get the time, tell the unenlightened what the current corpus of understanding is. And frankly, it's been that way at least since the creation of the Royal Society and the dawn of the scientific method. Read Kuhn's "the Structure of Scientific Revolutions".

Wun who Nose said at March 12, 2009 11:31 PM:

"You really are full of yourself..aren't you? Has there ever been a moment of doubt for you that the current AGW theory could actually be wrong?"

The honest answer: I doubted AGW until around 1999-2000, mostly out of fear about the cost of shifting from fossil fuels. I actually wrote an exam paper in the early 1990s mocking CO2 mitigation proposals. But I knew bugger all about the science, really.

Then I got assigned a project where I had to research the issue of AGW and CO2 mitigation. After two months scratching the surface of the climatology, I concluded (1) climatology is a heck of a complex subject, with many subfields and complex issues with methodology and measurement: I couldn't hope for more than a superficial understanding and be able to identify who the leading authorities in the field were, and also (2) that the skeptics amongst climatologists (e.g. Lindzen, Christy, Spencer) were losing the argument, (3) the arguments of skeptics who weren't climatologists were at best unfamiliar with the relevant literature, or bringing up issues that were already resolved in the literature (like Sallie Balunias, a heliophysicist, writing an article in TechCentralStation ~2002 arguing that the extensive glaciation during the Ordovician meant there was a lot about climate we didn't understant, unaware that Baum and Crowley had modeled the Ordovician with then current GCMs almost a decade before), and worse were those just totally unaware that the issues raised were not relevant (like arguing that water vapor accounts for more of the greenhouse effect than CO2; which is true but irrelevant: water vapor has a resident time of about a week in the atmosphere, CO2 half a century or more: i.e. atmospheric water vapor equilibrates so rapidly with the rest of the water cycle than increased H2O in the air can't be the driver of global warming). And then there were the skeptics that were just plain mendacious.

Another six months looking at potential technologies against it made me feel that the costs of weaning ourselves off CO2 were low compared to the economic risks from AGW. The costs are not that great relative to GDP as a whole (less than half what the DoD consumes on the worst estimates), but as they're assymmetrically distributed (the current energy infrastructure and the owners thereof get it in the shorts), there's institutional opposition disproportionate to the actual costs of going to lower-carbon technologies.

Now, less than a decade later, I'm not so sanguine on the costs. I think we can still possibly substantially reduce the impact of AGW, but the cost will be more like 1.5-2% of GDP than 0.5-1% of GDP.

"What will you say if actual events prove it false? Is there ANYTHING that could dis-prove it?"

Some new, young climatologist publishing a paper of sufficient standing to be featured in Nature and Science that completely bitch-slaps the current consensus, and a few months later a paper from a respected climate lab comes out saying "yeah, the young pup is right". That's what. But the trend of increased observed impacts from AGW doesn't make that likely.

" (and yes, I DO accept the possibility of it existing..just see too much contradictory evidence)"

Try reading this http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11462-climate-change-a-guide-for-the-perplexed.html, and then work your way up to reading the IPCC reports.

Nick G said at March 13, 2009 11:21 AM:

"Now, less than a decade later, I'm not so sanguine on the costs. I think we can still possibly substantially reduce the impact of AGW, but the cost will be more like 1.5-2% of GDP than 0.5-1% of GDP."

Could you elaborate? It seems to me that replacing coal with wind in the US would only have a net cost of about $1T. Over 20 years, that's only .35%.

"The costs are not that great relative to GDP as a whole (less than half what the DoD consumes on the worst estimates), but as they're assymmetrically distributed (the current energy infrastructure and the owners thereof get it in the shorts), there's institutional opposition disproportionate to the actual costs of going to lower-carbon technologies. "

Bingo. Well expressed.

Kralizec said at March 13, 2009 6:29 PM:
Some on the Left argue that people on the political Left are more willing to consider the evidence of science.
Human beings seem inclined to conflate the trusted sources of supposed knowledge and the trusted spokesmen for those sources. For example, when a spokesman for a god says, "God said such-and-such," men believe, "The priest said God said such-and-such," but also believe, "God said such-and-such," as if they've heard God speak. Likewise, when a spokesman for scientific evidence says, "Scientific evidence shows such-and-such," men believe, "The scientist says scientific evidence shows such-and-such," but also believe, "Scientific evidence shows such-and-such," as if they've seen the evidence themselves. It's both disgusting and funny to hear accounts of men who believe they've considered the evidence of science, when really they've trusted and believed men who claim to have seen certain evidence and who treat the evidence as an agent, actively "showing" something.

Moreover, the trust relation makes belief commutative. Thus when Dad says the priest said the book said the apostle said God said such-and-such, men talk about what God has said. And when a politician says a scientist said a journal article said the computer showed that the trendline showed that the evidence showed such-and-such, men talk about what the evidence has showed.

I would say, with George Carlin, "You are all diseased," but really, these faculties, faulty as they are, are what have enabled your ancestral lines to survive for hundreds of millions of years. Still, it seems worth keeping in mind that these faculties, excellent as they are, have allowed billions of hundred-millions year-old ancestral lines to die, as a result of mistakes seemingly much smaller than conflating "scientists" and "evidence."

Wun who Nose said at March 13, 2009 10:05 PM:

"Could you elaborate?"

Basubg it on some recent presentations I've heard, and an interview with Nicholas Sterne.

Wun who Nose said at March 13, 2009 10:14 PM:

"It's both disgusting and funny to hear accounts of men who believe they've considered the evidence of science"

I'm sure you received your knowledge directly from the Platonic forms, as opposed to us dwellers in the cave who have to rely on gleaning of knowledge by social means.

Nick G said at March 14, 2009 9:59 AM:

"Basubg it on some recent presentations I've heard, and an interview with Nicholas Sterne."

The Stern report projected a cost of 1% of GDP, and later Stern revised that to 2%. I don't think we have to rely on authority. At least for the US, I think the calculations are pretty straightforward. 2% is too high. Most CO2 emissions in the US come from coal - a solution that eliminates coal and a large % of oil consumption will get us most of the way.

Well, replacing coal with wind in the US would only have a net cost of about $1 Trillion. Further, replacing oil for light vehicle transportation wouldn't cost anything at all, if you include all costs and savings over the vehicle lifecycle.

$1T divided into a $14T economy is 7%. Over 20 years, that's only .35% per year. Not much, really.

Randall Parker said at March 14, 2009 10:15 AM:

Nick,

So you are saying we could build enough wind capacity to supply half our electricity for $1 trillion? Are you sure that this scales for baseload dependability?

I am thinking it will be cheaper to do in 10 years because solar, wind, and nukes (if mass-produced liquid flouride thorium reactors live up to their promise) will all cost less.

I would like the levels of incentives and disincentives for wind/solar/nukes against coal to only be large enough now to maintain strong wind and PV industries (and restart the nuclear industry). Then wait 10 years for their costs to fall further. In theory they should fall far enough that if we then up taxes on coal plant pollution in the 2020s the economics of replacing coal plants should become very favorable.

Though on second thought, I want stronger regs on conventional coal plant emissions now and then clear rules on what'll happen in the 202s so that planning decisions by power plant builders can take in consideration the regulatory environment of the 2020s. However, I doubt my preferences are politically possible.

Nick G said at March 14, 2009 1:39 PM:

"we could build enough wind capacity to supply half our electricity for $1 trillion?"

We'd need only about $1.6T of wind investment to completely replace coal in the US, and power all light vehicles.

How did I come up with that? Well, we generate about 50% of our electricity from coal, 220 gigawatts. Wind, on average, produces power at 30% of it nameplate rating, so we'd need about 733GW of wind. Wind costs about $2/W, so that would cost about $1,466 billion. Transmission might raise that about 10%, to about $1,613 billion.

PHEV's for everyone would would require another 60GW, which would raise that by about $440B, of $2,050B.

Now, roughly 50% of coal plants need to be replaced in the next 20 years, so about 50% of the $1.6T coal replacement investment is needed anyway: new coal plants are just as expensive per KWH as wind, so that $.8T of the investment can be eliminated from our considerations. Coal plants cost about $.035/KWH to fuel and operate, which is about 50% of the cost of wind, so we can eliminate 50% of the remainder, which is about $.6T: all told, we can discount the wind investment by 70%!

That gives us a cost of roughly $600B.

A bargain.

Nick G said at March 14, 2009 1:53 PM:

"Are you sure that this scales for baseload dependability?"

Pretty sure. Geographical dispersion and large numbers would greatly reduce variance; solar has negative correlation with wind, so it reduces system variance; and Demand Side Management, (mostly of EREV/PHEV/EV charging) will eliminate remaining daily variance as a problem.

Seasonal and unusual event variance could be addressed by the simple expedient of retaining most existing coal plants, and using them only 5-10% of the time. We might conceivably overbuild wind a bit: our current system is, after all, overbuilt by 100%. Finally, we have hydro for balancing; and we'll have nuclear and Natural Gas for quite some time, both of which reduce system variance.

There are some simulations out there that contribute to my confidence, though I haven't seen a comprehensive modelling of this precise proposal. I think the risk of this not working as outlined is very small, and if it isn't the cost of addressing it would be relatively small: we might need some gasified biomass for seasonal variation, for instance, and pumped storage is cheap.

Nick G said at March 14, 2009 1:58 PM:

"I am thinking it will be cheaper to do in 10 years because solar, wind, and nukes (if mass-produced liquid flouride thorium reactors live up to their promise) will all cost less."

Solar will get cheaper, but it's unlikely to get significantly cheaper than wind is right now. Wind is cheap enough - it's the same cost as new coal. The only costs we're talking about are the costs of prematurely decommissioning newer coal plants, and I think the risks of AGW are such that that's worth it.

I'd be pretty happy if we just stopped building new coal plants, though it would be nice to start aggressively shutting down old, inefficient coal plants.

Randall Parker said at March 14, 2009 3:46 PM:

Nick G,

What I wonder about wind: How many of the choicest sites have already been tapped? I figure some choice sites (high consistent wind) haven't been tapped yet because of the lack of power lines in their area and the distance to highly populated areas. Sure, we can build the power lines. But Delaware has an offshore wind project that looks like a go and that's more expensive than onshore. Yet they didn't try to bring in wind from, say, the Great Lakes.

Now, maybe offshore costs will fall and maybe they are already pretty cheap. The latter's what the Delaware offshore wind proponents argued.

Stop building new coal: Yes, I'm all for that. If we could just ban new coal plants I'm curious to know what'll happen with nukes and wind. Will wind continue to get most of the new builds?

I still question wind's ability to go to 50% of total kwh generated.

Nick G said at March 15, 2009 11:53 PM:

"How many of the choicest sites have already been tapped? "

Here's a AWEA summary, but it's badly out of date. http://www.awea.org/faq/wwt_potential.html#How%20much%20energy - it suggests that Texas could provide 50% of the West Coast's needs, and the Dakotas could

Much of the country has not been adequately surveyed: most of it's been surveyed for wind speed profiles, but much of that was at lower altitudes than the latest turbines, and winds is faster and less variable at higher altitudes.

Here's another data point: an analysis for just one region, the Mid-Atlantic:

The wind resource off the Mid-Atlantic coast could supply the energy needs of nine states from Massachusetts to North Carolina, plus the District of Columbia -- with enough left over to support a 50 percent increase in future energy demand -- according to a study by researchers at the University of Delaware (UD) and Stanford University. ... found that the wind over the Middle Atlantic Bight, the aquatic region from Cape Cod, Mass., to Cape Hatteras, N.C., could produce 330 gigawatts of average electrical power if thousands of wind turbines were installed off the coast.

http://www.ocean.udel.edu/windpower/

"Delaware .. didn't try to bring in wind from, say, the Great Lakes."

That suggests a level of national planning that doesn't exist. Mandates for wind power have been at the state level. Where long-distance inter-state transmission has been planned, it typically has been planned by the sponsors of the wind power, not the users - Texas to California, for example. California is large enough to be a bit of an exception - they're large enough to plan large intra-state long-distance transmission.

"If we could just ban new coal plants I'm curious to know what'll happen with nukes and wind. Will wind continue to get most of the new builds?"

Wind has a shorter planning horizon, so I think so. OTOH, Utilities like nuclear better, because it's more familiar, easier to manage, and they're incentivized towards large capital projects, so I don't think nuclear is going away.

"I still question wind's ability to go to 50% of total kwh generated."

Yes, it's a reasonable question. As no one has thought that far ahead, there haven't been any serious studies of which I'm aware. We can only get rough projections and indirect estimates - indirect indications. A few thoughts:

1) some European grids have had trouble because their ISO's were required to accept all windpower inputs. You could clip off these infrequent peaks and lose very little.

2) I don't know why we couldn't just keep the existing coal capacity, as a backup.

3) variance falls quickly as your number of random sources increase, even if there is some covariance. For instance, individual wind turbines vary from 0 to 100% of nameplate capacity, but single wind farms go above 85% less than 1% of the time. I suspect that a national wind resource would rarely go above 70%, or below 15%.

4) wind farms in different parts of the country will have negative correlations: weather systems will affect one part of the country, and other parts will have different weather.

more later, perhaps...

Randall Parker said at March 16, 2009 9:39 AM:

Nick,

Coal plants can't ramp up quickly. They can't follow sudden changes in load - at least not without having to run much of the time generating steam but not generating electricity. This means coal can't serve as a short response backup. Granted, if the wind died and stayed down for days then old coal plants could step in. But that sounds expensive and also doesn't deal with the problem of the start-up time after the wind dies.

Here's another weird twist I only just thought of: If substantial global warming occurs some climatologists predict greater instability in weather patterns. So as a result will wind vary more from month to month and year to year?

The sun has the virtue of being more predictable. Nukes are similarly more predictable and available 24x7.

Here's another twist: Suppose super cheap solar photovoltaics are inevitable. How about 2 cents per kwh. What does that do to all other energy sources? It lowers their ROI. They can't charge more for electricity during the day. How does that change the relative advantage of each source? I think it works most against nuclear because nuclear has the highest capital cost. Basically, super cheap solar works against energy sources that have higher capital costs and lower variable costs. So at first glance super cheap solar would tend to favor natural gas peaking electricity.

On the other hand, super cheap solar works against natural gas for peaking because super cheap solar will cut into the ability to sell natural gas peaking electricity at high summer afternoon prices. In fact, super cheap solar will almost eliminate the market for natural gas peaking electricity in the summer.

National grid planning: My fear here is that planning will tend to favor wind in excess of its economic value. The flexible national grid's extra cost probably won't be properly charged to wind. All electric power sources will pay for the incremental costs of that supergrid even though some of the power sources do not need it. Already wind operators are asking for subsidies to build power lines to the remote places where the wind blows.

Wind and negative correlations: Most of the time. Not all of the time.

Nick G said at March 17, 2009 2:02 PM:

"Coal plants can't ramp up quickly."

They can ramp up over a period of hours. Coal plants provide a large % of US diurnal load following: as far as I can tell, typically US coal plants run at full steam during the day, and at less than 50% during the day, resulting in an average capacity factor of only 73%. The finer adjustments, measure in minutes, are done with natural gas and demand side management (DSM).

Wind production generally doesn't change in a matter of minutes (solar can change much faster, as cloud cover can be fairly sharp edged). In fact, it can be handled roughly as "negative demand". It can be forecast, and synchronized fairly well with slower supply sources like coal.

On the other hand, DSM can expand with wind production: 220M PHEVs could easily provide all of the instantaneous increase or decrease in demand needed, for hours at a time. PHEV-40's could be charged over a period of more than 1 day, where useage was light. PHEV/EVs with larger batteries could provide multi-day buffering.

"if the wind died and stayed down for days then old coal plants could step in. But that sounds expensive "

I don't have detailed info on coal plant operating costs, but I believe that coal consumption is the large majority of cost. Certainly there would be a cost to maintaining coal plants on stand-by, but I don't think it would be enormous. OTOH, it's probably not optimal or necessary to maintain a large % of our current coal plant fleet - it's just nice to know that there is a reasonably cost-effective, practical solution available.

"If substantial global warming occurs some climatologists predict greater instability in weather patterns. So as a result will wind vary more from month to month and year to year?"

It's a good question, but I don't think it's a large risk. Wind is generated by equatorial insolation, heat from which moves to the poles. It's circulation patterns are shaped by the rotation of the earth, and basic geography like flat oceans & plains, and mountain barriers. I don't think that ocean (or land) temps affect these broad patterns much, though I'd welcome more info.

"The sun has the virtue of being more predictable."

As I mentioned, there's some indication that it's actually less predictable. Solar also has larger diurnal and seasonal variation, which is probably more important than predictability.

"Nukes are similarly more predictable and available 24x7."

Nukes are a bit more predictable, but not as much as you'd think. They tend to be quite large, and occasionally shut down with very little warning, subtracting a large supply from the grid in minutes, recovery from which takes days. That means that a small place like Ireland can't even consider nuclear power -that tells you something. Nukes in large numbers are quite manageable, but the same is true for wind.

"Suppose super cheap solar photovoltaics are inevitable. How about 2 cents per kwh."

I don't think that's possible on the utility side: central PV takes a lot of land and infrastructure. Each dollar of capex creates a cost of about $.05/KWH, so $.02/KWH would require a capex of only $.40/W. I can see that, or less, for the PV, but the land, wiring, support structure, inverters, transmission all add something. I can see such pricing on the customer side, but only up to the point of satisfying the customer's daytime consumption - after that you're talking about net-metering, and that's not going to happen for very large %'s of KWH production (certainly not for more than 10% of overall demand, and probably not 5% - current caps are around 1-2%). That limits really cheap PV to satisfying the daytime peak.

"What does that do to all other energy sources?"

It clips off the daytime peak and flattens the demand curve that the utility "sees". That will fit nicely with wind and nuclear, and reduces the need for peaking NG, though load-following NG will still have it's uses.

"My fear here is that planning will tend to favor wind in excess of its economic value. "

What makes you think that? Keep in mind that power markets charge for all power at the price of the marginal provider. That means that when NG is the marginal provider that overall power costs jump, and that wind (which has zero marginal cost) reduces overall power costs disproportionately. Wind more than pays for itself.

Have you seen evidence that wind power suppliers are being treated differently from others, such as nuclear?

"Wind and negative correlations: Most of the time. Not all of the time."

It doesn't have to be all of the time. In general, reduced net variance is a good thing, unless it's very oddly distributed. DSM will work very well for short supply problems, and V2G is actually likely to work very nicely for very unusual prolonged supply shortfalls, as it has the potential to back up the entire grid. ICE's in PHEV's are close to the efficiency of diesel generators. If you only use a diesel generator very rarely, it's extremely cost effective.

Randall Parker said at March 17, 2009 6:56 PM:

Cheap PV satisfying daytime demand: When PV becomes cheap enough it'll even cut into demand for baseload power sources. So nukes won't be able to charge as much for power they sell at noon. Cheap PV worsens the economics of baseload power sources.

Planning and wind: I expect planning for wind to cause a smart and bigger grid to get built and for other power sources to have to share the price of a more expensive grid that they really do not require.

Nick G said at March 17, 2009 9:17 PM:

"When PV becomes cheap enough it'll even cut into demand for baseload power sources."

hmmm, I don't know. PV will cut into FF sources first - NG first, then coal. Nuclear only accounts for about 20% of overall KWH's, and maybe 15% of daytime KWH's. If solar of any type starts competing head-to-head with nuclear...well, that will be a very good problem to have.

OTOH, as I noted above for wind, power markets charge for all power at the price of the marginal provider. That means that when NG is the marginal provider that overall power costs jump and low-cost producers (like old coal and nuclear plants) get windfall income. PV or wind (which have zero marginal cost) knock overall power costs back down again. This is good for consumers.

" I expect planning for wind to cause a smart and bigger grid to get built "

Both smart meters and long-distance transmission benefit all consumers, by reducing the need for high-cost peaking power, reducing the premiums paid for imported power, and making the grid more stable. They're needed whether or not we build a lot of wind or solar, though they certainly are needed for wind/solar as well. Also, I think the cost of a "smart" grid is being exaggerated a bit - some of what's needed is just maintenance, and some is just normal improvement.

"other power sources to have to share the price of a more expensive grid that they really do not require"

Long-distance transmission to connect new sources to the grid isn't all that expensive - projects in CA and TX are costing roughly $.25/W. I have to admit, I'm not clear how that's being paid for, but don't forget that conventional power plants (coal, nuclear and NG) also require new transmission, so the differential between the two is less than the total. I suppose it's possible that ratepayers or government will pay for some of these transmission costs, but that's not exactly a charge to other power sources.

Have you seen indications that wind transmission is being subsidized in a way that other sources aren't?

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