Intelligent Design

Straight talk about global warming: an open letter to the Catholic clergy

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Reverend Fathers,

Since the Pope’s upcoming encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, is due to be released later this month, I’m sure you will be very busy telling the world’s 1.2 billion Catholic laypeople (including myself) what the encyclical means. My reason for writing this post is that while most people (including members of the clergy) are quite well-informed about the science of global warming, they tend to be poorly informed about the solutions to the problem of man-made global warming, as well as the costs of implementing those solutions. Some of you may think that these are technical issues, which the clergy need not concern themselves with. But Scripture itself counsels us to be prudent servants of the Lord, and not foolish ones. If God has given us a job to do of cleaning up the planet, then we had better not squander precious resources on impractical pipe-dreams, because every dollar wasted is a dollar that could have been spent on helping someone in need – and right now, there are billions who are in need. An additional reason for my writing to you is that the worldwide effort to combat global warming is bound to generate some acute moral dilemmas, which most people have heard very little about – and some of them will ask you for spiritual guidance and advice. To make matters worse, the built-in uncertainties in global warming predictions render the moral calculus even more complicated. Finally, I have to say that some of the theological arguments which have been put forward by Christians to justify the fight against global warming rest on flawed premises. Religion is not served by poor arguments, and I believe that if we are going to care for the environment, then we need to do it for the right reasons. That’s why I’ve decided to write to you.

Since most of you have never heard of me, I’d better introduce myself. My name is Vincent Torley, and I’m an Australian Catholic layman (now residing in Japan), with a Ph.D. in philosophy. My Webpage is here. I should mention that I am well-acquainted with the animal rights movement and that I have read fairly widely in the field of environmental ethics. While I am not a scientist, I do have an academic background in science: my first degree was a B.Sc. degree, my M.A. in philosophy was on the subject of scientific laws (laws of nature), and my Ph.D. (for which I had to peruse hundreds of scientific papers) was on the topic of animal minds. I don’t claim any expertise on global warming; however, much of what I’ve read about the solution to the problem of global warming strikes me as naively optimistic. On top of that, my background in economics has lent me an additional perspective on global warming, and over the years, I’ve managed to dig up some information about the costs of fighting global warming which I think will interest the Catholic clergy. I am also the author of a free pro-life electronic book, titled, Embryo and Einstein – Why They’re Equal (2011). In Section I of my e-book, I provide a detailed scientific rebuttal of the argument, put forward by many ecologists, that overpopulation and environmental destruction make abortion and population control a practical necessity. Finally, I should mention that three months ago, I sent a letter to four Catholic cardinals and one Apostolic nuncio, regarding Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on the environment.

In this post, I’ll be assuming that the predictions on global warming made by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are correct. I’ll briefly discuss the uncertainties in these predictions towards the end of my article, but I should declare at the outset that I fully accept that most of the warming that the Earth has experienced since the late 1970s is man-made. How much warming will occur in the future as carbon dioxide levels rise is a separate issue, but I’m quite prepared to grant that there’s a significant risk, based on what we currently know, that the amount of warming will pose a real danger to Earth’s ecosystems.

Executive Summary

For the benefit of those who would simply like to know the key conclusions I’ve reached, here’s a nine-point summary:

1. If the IPCC’s global warming predictions are correct, then we have just 50 years to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to zero. That’s right: zero. After that, we’ll also have to scrub a lot of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, to bring it back to a safe level of 350 parts per million. This will be a Herculean task.

2. Nuclear power is the only technology which has a realistic chance of replacing fossil fuels and bringing worldwide greenhouse gas emissions down to zero within the next 50 years. Unfortunately, nuclear power is politically unpopular in many Western countries because of anti-nuclear hysteria whipped up by the green movement, despite the fact that nuclear power is the safest form of energy in the world. (In fact, it’s even safer than wind and solar energy.) If we built nuclear reactors around the world at the same pace that Sweden did between 1960 and 1990, we could close down all coal and natural gas power plants in just 25 years. However, history shows that new energy sources always take several decades to become widely adopted, for a host of complex reasons that have more to do with politics than technology. Still, we have at least a fighting chance of reducing worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to zero within 50 years, using nuclear power.

3. Despite falling costs, new energy storage technologies and government subsidies of over $100 billion a year, renewable energy sources will be unable to replace fossil fuels within the next 50 years, for several reasons. In brief: renewable energy sources provide a very poor energy return on the energy invested in building them, they require vast amounts of land, they generate lots of pollution (especially in the case of solar energy and biomass) and they cannot be economically scaled up to meet worldwide demand. In the words of Professor James Hansen, former Vice-President Al Gore’s climate adviser: “Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”

4. The cost of fighting global warming will be astronomical: $44 trillion on a very optimistic estimate, but more realistically, at least $100 trillion, making it 1,000 times more expensive than the Apollo program, in today’s dollars. (One professor of economics has even described the cost of fighting global warming as incalculable.) To meet this cost, middle-income and advanced countries may have to pay up to 4% of their GDP, over a period of several decades. Media claims that fighting global warming will have a negligible impact on GDP growth are based on economically flawed reasoning, and reports claiming that combating global warming will actually save us money have been criticized for their over-optimistic assumptions. Some economists claim that relacing fossil fuels with nuclear power and/or renewable energy will actually increase countries’ GDP, but the truth is that we really don’t know. In short: scientists and economists are not certain whether we even have enough money to stop global warming, within the time available.

5. Meanwhile, the world is still struggling to meet its United Nations Millennium Development Goals, as millions of people (mostly children) continue to die each year as a result of malnutrition, while billions more lack even basic sanitation. Whatever we decide to do about global warming, the needs of these people must come first. Duties to people dying here and now takes precedence over any moral considerations relating to as-yet-unconceived children.

6. While it’s reasonably certain that the rise in global temperatures since the late 1970s has been largely man-made, what’s not certain is how much temperatures will eventually rise in the future, as a result of further greenhouse gas emissions – in other words, the equilibrium climate sensitivity. The scientific disagreement on this subject relates not to the effects of carbon dioxide but to the feedback effects of water vapor, which the IPCC claims will magnify the effects of carbon dioxide increases by a factor of two, three or four, or even six. (At least, that’s what the vast majority of the IPCC’s computer models predict.) When we look at the actual data, though, the warming trend is much more gradual, suggesting that a doubling of CO2 levels due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions could lead to a modest long-term rise in global temperatures of about 1.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels. If that’s the case, then there’s no need for a costly all-out blitz against global warming: we will have a few more decades to design better technology to solve the problem in a more rational manner, before it poses a serious threat to the biosphere. As one of Aesop’s fables puts it, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

7. So, who’s to blame for global warming? The short answer is that we are – consumers, especially those in affluent Western countries. The richest 7% of the world’s population is responsible for 50% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Blaming big multinational corporations for global warming makes no sense, because the goods and services these corporations supply are simply those which people want to buy, and the prices they sell them for are the prices that people are willing to pay. If corporations cut corners, avoid complying with environmental regulations, and pollute the environment without paying for the damage they cause, that’s because consumers, who buy their goods, are unwilling to pay for the costs of producing those goods in an ethical manner. In the words of a Pogo comic strip, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Finally, the naive tendency of certain ecologists to blame global warming on overpopulation overlooks the fact that the poorest one-sixth of the world’s population, whose growth rate tends to be the highest, produces virtually no ecological footprint. What’s more, even when we calculate the pollution generated by these people’s future descendants, it turns out that people in affluent countries leave a bigger ecological footprint: a child born in the United States today will, down the generations, generate an ecological footprint which is seven times that of an extra Chinese child, 46 times that of a Pakistani child, 55 times that of an Indian child, and 86 times that of a Nigerian child.

In short: the real cause of global warming today is neither population nor big corporations, but increasing human wealth, which fuels consumer demand. But it does not have to be this way. The wealth generated by capitalism is by no means a bad thing: after all, it got us out of a never-ending cycle of poverty, scarcity, hunger and high infant mortality. A country’s wealth can also be invested in creating the technology that will solve the problem of global warming. And without wealth, I might add, none of the technology we enjoy today would even be possible.

8. Whether we like it or not, global warming raises a host of troubling moral issues. For example, if it’s a sin, then who is it a sin against – God? humanity? future generations? the biosphere? And how big a sin is it? What distinguishes a mortal environmental sin from a venial one? Moreover, if global warming is a sin, then at what point in history did it become a sin? Surely not before 1980 – for it wasn’t until then that a scientific consensus began to emerge that it was taking place. However, the industrialization of China did not take place until after the 1980s. It generated a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, but also lifted 600 million people out of poverty. Was that a bad thing? And what about India in the 21st century? Doesn’t it have a right to industrialize too? Also, if global warming is (as we have seen) primarily caused by affluent consumption, then exactly what are we supposed to give up, to save the planet? For most U.S. households, the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions comes from driving, followed by housing and food. So, should we give up owning cars and switch to public transport and/or car pooling? Since food is the third-largest source of household greenhouse gas emissions, and since vegetarians and fish-eaters have a carbon footprint which is only about half that of high meat-eaters, should we all give up meat, then? An additional moral problem for global warming is that the cost of eliminating this problem is admitted by some senior scientists to be incalculable. In that case, someone might argue that we can’t possibly have a moral duty to fight global warming – for if we did, that would seem to imply that we have an unlimited obligation. Finally, if global warming is a problem we urgently need to fight now, then it could be argued that parents (especially in affluent countries, but also in rapidly rising middle-income countries, like China) have a moral obligation to forego having large families until we have won the battle against global warming, as these parents are only adding to humanity’s carbon footprint in the mean time, by procreating more children who will consume a lot when they are adults (as will their children). Such a conclusion, however, runs totally contrary to Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish tradition, which views large families as a blessing, rather than a curse.

9. The theological arguments put forward by certain clerics in support of the crusade against global warming are badly flawed. For instance, it is simply incorrect to claim that man was meant by God to “tend and keep” the Earth; on the contrary, he was clearly and expressly told to “subdue” and “have dominion” over it (Genesis 1:28). The verbs used here are very powerful ones (see here and here). There’s no doubt that the Bible views human beings as the lords of the Earth, governing it in God’s place. It was the Garden of Eden, not the Earth, that Adam and Eve were supposed to tend (Genesis 2:15), and after they sinned, they were evicted from the Garden, never to return (Genesis 3:23-24). Nor can one liken man’s relation to creation to that of a shepherd, caring for his sheep, as some have suggested: for if that were the case, then we would have no right to eat or intentionally kill any living creature. (Shepherds don’t kill the sheep in their flock; their job is to guard the flock and if necessary, lay down their life for the sheep which they protect.)

A better argument for conservation, advanced recently by Pope Francis, is that we are morally bound to respect God’s creation – which means that we may not destroy it wantonly. However, as the lords of creation, we do have the authority to engage in acts which result in unintended environmental harm, if there is a proportional reason for doing so. I would argue that the fight against Third World poverty is one such reason.

That concludes my Executive Summary. I’d now like to address each of the nine points listed above, in greater depth.

1. IPCC: We have just 50 years to bring the world’s greenhouse gas emissions to a dead halt

If we want to achieve the drastic cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions recommended by the IPCC, then we haven’t a moment to lose. Countries around the world will need to co-operate as never before in the course of human history. Cutting emissions will require a massive technological push, and we’ll also probably need to pull carbon out of the atmosphere. Doing all that in the space of just 50 years will be a Herculean feat, making it by far the most difficult task that humanity has ever undertaken. To put the problem in perspective: the Apollo program cost $110 billion altogether, in today’s dollars. Fighting global warming could cost 1,000 times more than that, for reasons that I’ll explain in section 4, below.

Assuming that the IPCC’s global warming projections are correct, if we want to have a better-than-even chance of staying below the internationally recognized “danger threshold” of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (which we’re due to cross in 2036 if we continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate), then we’ll have to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to ZERO by 2070, and after that, we’ll have to scrub quite a lot of CO2 out of the atmosphere, to bring the concentration down to a safe level of 350 parts per million. (It’s already over 400 ppm.) And I should add that the “danger threshold” of 2 degrees may well be too lax: many climate experts now argue that it should really be 1.5 degrees. Achieving this target would be dauntingly difficult: greenhouse gas emissions would have to peak in 2014 and then decline (in all-gas terms) by as much as 7.1% per year, compared with an annual decline of 3.4% per year if the 2 degree-Celsius-target is to be met.

Right now, the world is currently failing badly right now at meeting its climate goals, as Vox senior editor Brad Plumer points out in his online article, How to stop global warming, in 7 steps. Greenhouse gas emissions did not rise in 2014 (for the first time in 40 years), but they did not fall either, and many of the countries which signed the Kyoto Protocol have failed to meet their targets, and of the countries which met their targets, most were Eastern European countries whose economies and industries had collapsed (which means that the “reductions” were really only temporary falls), while others, such as Britain, had simply moved their carbon-intensive industries (such as steel and aluminium manufacturing) off-shore to countries not covered by the Protocol, prompting Oxford energy economist Dieter Helm to ask, “What exactly is the point of reducing emissions in Europe if it encourages energy-intensive industry to come to China, where the pollution will be even worse?” Finally, claims that China’s carbon emissions fell in 2014 should be treated with caution.

2. Nuclear power is the only known way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the next few decades

Nuclear Energy Systems Deployable no later than 2030 and offering significant advances in sustainability, safety and reliability, and economics. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

There’s only one way that scientists know of, which would enable us to achieve the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2070: replace all fossil fuels with nuclear energy. (I’ll discuss the technological problems with renewable energy sources in the following section.)

A nuclear-powered planet is technologically feasible, within the next 30 years

If countries around the world built nuclear plants at the same rate that Sweden did Sweden did between 1960 and 1990, all coal and natural gas power plants could be phased out in just 25 years, cutting worldwide human carbon emissions by half, according to a new study published in PLoS ONE by Staffan Qvist, a physicist at Uppsala University in Sweden, and Barry Brook, a Professor of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania (Potential for Worldwide Displacement of Fossil-Fuel Electricity by Nuclear Energy in Three Decades on Extrapolation of Regional Deployment Data. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0124074. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124074). Ross Pomeroy has written a highly readable summary of the study’s central conclusions, in an article for RealClearScience.

In reality, however, Qvist and Brook’s estimate is almost certainly far too optimistic: unlike the computer industry, where a doubling in the computing power of microchips has occurred about every two years, transitions in the energy industry are relatively slow. Even oil took 40 years to get from 5 percent of the world’s primary energy supply to 25 percent.

Why a global transition to nuclear power will be politically difficult to implement

However, while a switch to nuclear energy over the next few decades is technically feasible, it’s going to be politically difficult to accomplish. In Western countries, the only demographic that’s keen on nuclear energy is white, middle-aged men, who tend to believe that the risks can be controlled. Women, young people and minorities, on the other hand, tend to be distrustful of nuclear energy, owing to its perceived risks – which is sad, as it’s one of the safest forms of energy in the world: nuclear power actually prevented over 1.8 million net deaths worldwide between 1971-2009, according to a study by NASA scientists Pushker Kharecha and James Hansen. Even after taking account of the Fukushima nuclear accident, the authors conclude that replacing nuclear energy with coal or gas between now and 2050 (as some members of the green movement advocate) would result in an extra 420,000 to 7 million deaths, worldwide. And an online study by author and entrepreneur Seth Godin which compares deaths per Terawatt Hour of energy produced for various sources of energy concludes that nuclear power is the safest – even safer than solar, wind and hydroelectricity – while coal is by far the most dangerous, followed by oil, biofuels and natural gas.

Regarding the nuclear accident at Fukushima, climatologist and global warming activist James Hansen observes:

Fukushima nuclear power plants are a 50-year-old technology. They withstood a powerful earthquake, but were washed over by a 10-meter tsunami that wiped out the power sources used to cool the reactors. Modern 3rd generation light-water reactors can use passive cooling systems that require no power source. No people died at Fukushima because of the nuclear technology.

Tragically, in Western countries, the economic viability of nuclear power has been sabotaged by legal “red tape” imposed by environmentalists, politicians and regulators, as Dr. Matt Ridley, former science editor of The Economist, explains in a blog article titled, Fossil fuels are not finished, not obsolete, not a bad thing (March 22, 2015). The effect of this costly litigation has been to make nuclear plants into “huge and lengthy boondoggles.” As a result, writes Ridley, “The world’s nuclear output is down from 6% of world energy consumption in 2003 to 4% today. It is forecast to inch back up to just 6.7% by 2035, according the Energy Information Administration.”

Middle-income and developing countries are more enthusiastic about nuclear energy than Western countries, with 60 plants now under construction in countries like China, Russia, India and Pakistan, and 160 more planned and a further 300 proposed, according to a press release by the World Nuclear Association. I should mention that He Zuoxiu, a leading Chinese scientist who worked on China’s nuclear weapons program, has voiced concerns about China’s plans for a rapid expansion of nuclear power plants, calling them “insane” because the country is not investing enough in safety controls. For a very different perspective on the safety standards of China’s nuclear program, readers might like to have a look at this report by the World Nuclear Association on China’s nuclear program.

What we need to do

Western countries need to embrace nuclear technology and provide more assistance to developing countries with the development of nuclear power plants, if we are to have a good chance of slashing worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2070. There are some signs for hope: a new survey of Americans shows that 68% favor nuclear energy, while 78% consider nuclear energy important to meet the country’s future electricity needs. And in Japan, a new government proposal, which is due to be ratified in July 2015, aims to cover 20 to 22% of Japan’s energy demands from nuclear energy by 2030. Meanwhile, India aims to supply 25% of its electricity from nuclear energy by 2050. China’s nuclear program is projected to grow by 11% per annum over the next 20 years, according to BP’s Energy Outlook 2035. On the other hand, the report also anticipates that nuclear power’s share of the energy supply in the USA and Europe will fall, as aging nuclear power plants are decommissioned, and it expects renewables (including biofuels) to overtake nuclear power worldwide by the early 2020s. That would be a tragic mistake, for reasons that I’ll now explain.

3. Why wind and solar power won’t be enough to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2070

Part of the 354 MW Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) parabolic trough solar complex in northern San Bernardino County, California. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

KEY POINTS:
(1) High usage of renewable energy sources is associated with technologically primitive societies, not advanced ones.
(2) Only a small percentage of the world’s energy supply comes from renewable sources – and most of that energy is hydroelectric power. Wind and solar make up just over 1% of the global energy mix.
(3) Moore’s law does not apply to renewable energy sources. There’s absolutely no reason to expect an exponential doubling if the renewable energy supply every few years, in the decades to come.
(4) There are three compelling reasons why renewables cannot supply most of the world’s energy within the next 50 years: the energy returned on energy invested is too low for them to be commercially viable; they can’t be economically scaled up; and they generate a large amount of environmental damage (especially solar and biofuels). Additionally, they require vast amounts of land.
(5) Professor Mark Jacobson’s plan for a world whose energy needs can be met entirely by renewable sources is detailed and well-costed, but wildly impractical.
(6) Innovation won’t change world energy usage overnight. Worldwide changes in patterns of energy usage always take several decades to accomplish.

Renewable energy sources, such as solar energy and wind energy, won’t be able to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the year 2070. This news might come as a shock to many readers, following the recent spate of rosy media reports claiming that the cost of solar panels is coming down, that solar energy use is growing by leaps and bounds, and that solar energy is on the verge of achieving “grid parity“, which will make it cost-competitive with fossil fuels by 2017. Unfortunately, reports of the death of the fossil fuel industry are premature, for several reasons.

Background: renewables supplied most of the world’s energy until the late nineteenth century, and still supply most of Africa’s energy

In a thought-provoking article titled, The Decline of Renewable Energy (Project Syndicate, August 14, 2013), Professor Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician and the founder of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, points out that back in the year 1800, the world obtained 94% of its energy from renewable sources – a figure which has been declining ever since, until very recently. Lomborg makes another telling observation: “The most renewables-intensive places in the world are also the poorest. Africa gets almost 50% of its energy from renewables, compared to just 8% for the OECD.”

And what about China, which has lifted 600 million people out of poverty since the 1980s? Lomborg writes: “In China, renewables’ share in energy production dropped from 40% in 1971 to 11% today; in 2035, it will likely be just 9%.”

Today, we are accustomed to viewing fossil fuels as an unmitigated evil, while renewables are regarded as an unalloyed good. Professor Lomborg sees things very differently:

Burning wood in pre-industrial Western Europe caused massive deforestation, as is occurring in much of the developing world today. The indoor air pollution that biomass produces kills more than three million people annually. Likewise, modern energy crops increase deforestation, displace agriculture, and push up food prices…

The momentous move toward fossil fuels has done a lot of good. Compared to 250 years ago, the average person in the United Kingdom today has access to 50 times more power, travels 250 times farther, and has 37,500 times more light. Incomes have increased 20-fold.

Today, only a small percentage of the world’s energy comes from renewable sources -and wind and solar provide only 1%

Right now, only about 11% of world marketed energy consumption comes from renewable energy sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), and most of that comes from hydro power, with solar and wind making up around 2% together. The current global energy mix consists of oil (36%), natural gas (24%), coal (28%), nuclear (6%), hydro (6%) and other renewable energy sources such as biomass, wind and solar (about 2%). (The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014 can be viewed here.)

Solar and wind energy proponents often cite figures showing that solar energy makes up a large percentage of the electricity supply in many European countries, such as Sweden, which has Sweden has the highest percentage of renewable energy in the EU (over 47 per cent), and Denmark, which gets 43 percent of its energy from renewable sources and aims to meet 100 percent of its energy needs with renewables by 2050. (Germany, which gets 27 percent of its electricity from renewables, has not been so successful: due to its decision to abandon nuclear energy in 2011 after the nuclear accident in Fukushima, the country actually burns more coal than five years ago, has some of the highest household electricity bills in the developed world and will miss its 2020 greenhouse gas emission targets.) However, Europe is not the world, and electricity makes up only a small part of the energy we consume. According to International Energy Association figures, electricity makes up less than a fifth of the world’s energy consumption, comprising just 18.1% of total final consumption in 2012. And if we look at the world’s total primary energy supply for 2012, we find that 31% came from oil, 29% from coal, 21% from natural gas, 10% from biofuels and waste, 5% from nuclear energy, 2% from hydroelectricity, and just over 1% from geothermal, solar, wind and waste, according to official IEA figures for 2014. Even today, solar energy provides just 0.4% of the total energy consumed in the United States.

Why Moore’s law doesn’t apply to renewable energy

Technological optimists might respond by citing Moore’s law: for the past fifty years, the number of transistors (building blocks) on an integrated circuit (computer chip or microchip) has doubled every two years. If solar energy were to progress at the same rate, then even though solar energy makes up only about 0.5% of the world energy market now, it would make up 100% of the market in just eight years.

Rhodes scholar and physicist Dr. Varun Sivaram rebuts this naive optimism in an online article titled, Why Moore’s Law Doesn’t Apply to Clean Technologies. Dr. Sivaram identifies three key differences between advances in computer chip technology and advances in solar energy:

To date, there have been three crucial differences between Moore’s law for microchips and the historical cost declines of solar panels and batteries:

1.Moore’s Law is a consequence of fundamental physics. Clean technology cost declines are not.

2.Moore’s Law is a prediction about innovation as a function of time. Clean technology cost declines are a function of experience, or production.

3.**Why this all matters** Moore’s Law provided a basis to expect dramatic performance improvements that shrank mainframes to mobile phones. Clean technology cost declines do not imply a similar revolution in energy.

The three massive problems that renewable energy faces

There are three compelling reasons why renewable energy alone will not be able to replace fossil fuels, over the next 50 years.

(a) The energy returned on energy invested is too low for renewable energy sources to be viable

First, as Professor John Morgan helpfully explains in an online article titled, The Catch-22 of Energy Storage, the ratio of energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) for solar and wind power plants is far too low for them to be viable as power sources in Western countries. Obviously, the energy you get out of a power plant has to exceed the energy invested in building the plant, or it wouldn’t be worthwhile constructing it in the first place. But if you want to live in a society that builds things like roads and bridges,trucks that can transport food from farms to cities, schools for educating children, health care centers and art museums, then you need power plants that yield a lot more energy: at least 7 times as much as the energy invested in building those plants originally. And if you need to rely on batteries to store the energy you generate, then the EROEI needs to be even higher than 7:1. In his article, Professor Morgan explains that For nuclear power, by contrast, the ratio of energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) is very high (about 75:1), making it a viable proposition. What about renewables? With the exception of hydroelectricity, only concentrated solar power has an EREOI greater than 7:1. All other renewable sources examined in the article (wind, solar photovoltaic and biomass) are non-viable. The EROEI for concentrated solar power is 9:1, making it viable, provided that it is coupled with pumped hydroelectric power, to store the excess energy it produces, so that it can still be used when the sun isn’t shining. However, hydroelectric storage around the world is limited by the need for suitable geography, and for that reason, even concentrated solar power (which produces just 2.4% of the world’s solar energy output) would have to rely on energy-intensive battery storage. That would effectively reduce its EROEI below the minimum threshold of 7:1, making it non-viable, too. In his article, Professor Morgan cites a report by Weißbach et al., titled, Energy intensities, EROIs, and energy payback times of electricity generating power plants (Energy 52 (2013), 210), and a report by Graham Palmer (Energy in Australia: Peak Oil, Solar Power, and Asia’s Economic Growth, Springer 2014), to support his conclusions. Summarizing his case, Professor Morgan writes:

It’s important to understand the nature of this EROEI limit. This is not a question of inadequate storage capacity – we can’t just buy or make more storage to make it work. It’s not a question of energy losses during charge and discharge, or the number of cycles a battery can deliver. We can’t look to new materials or technological advances, because the limits at the leading edge are those of earthmoving and civil engineering. The problem can’t be addressed through market support mechanisms, carbon pricing, or cost reductions. This is a fundamental energetic limit that will likely only shift if we find less materially intensive methods for dam construction.

UPDATE: A commenter on this thread has alerted me to an article by chemical engineer Vasilis Fthenakis, titled, How Long Does it Take for Photovoltaics Io Produce the Energy Used? (PE magazine, January/February 2012) claiming that “with a lifetime of 30 years, their ERRs [energy return ratios – VJT] are in the range 60:1 to 15:1. depending on the location and the technology, thus returning 15 to 60 times more energy than the energy they use.” If that were correct, then solar photovoltaic panels would be a viable source of energy. However, Fthenakis’ claim has been criticized as seriously flawed by energy researcher Graham Palmer in his online article, Energy in Australia (a precis of his 2014 book of the same title). Palmer concludes that the EREOI (energy returned on energy invested) for solar photovoltaics is no more than 3, which is far below the commercial viability threshold of 7 – and recently, another team of researchers (Prieto and Hall, 2013) independently reached the same conclusion as he did:

It is only recently that more rigour has been applied to trying to understand the figures, leading to Prieto and Hall’s (2013) examination of large-scale deployment of PV in Spain through 2009 and 2010. Coincidentally, I was researching a paper on PV, which was published in
Sustainability Journal and BNC shortly afterwards (Palmer 2013). Both of us came to similar conclusions on EROI (between 2 and 3), which is significantly less than commonly quoted figures, and below the critical minimum EROI required for society (Hall et al 2009). This led to an email exchange with energy and solar researchers, and the writing of this book (Palmer 2014) for the SpringerBriefs series.

A recent article by Palmer, titled, Solar PV – an irresistible disruptive technology? (May 8, 2014), highlights the flaws in Fthenakis’ calculations:

The critical issue of intermittency is ignored, the system boundary for PV panels is truncated to exclude upstream energy costs, and many other important system-based factors are deemed to lie beyond the standard boundaries.

Similarly, the often assumed idea that a “suite of renewables” with smart-grids and electric vehicles to achieve some sort of “optimized synergy” is frequently overstated. It is well established that geographical smoothing, along with “technology-diversity” smoothing can improve the statistical performance of integrated systems, but cannot deal with the “big gaps” events, particularly during winter.

Similarly, combining electric vehicles with solar PV seems like a great idea at face value, but how would it work at a system level? Will motorists want to “fill up their tank” during the middle of the day at peak tariffs, and sell back to the grid at night? How will the vehicle get recharged so it has full range by the morning? What happens to charging during winter?

Finally, Professor John Morgan’s review of Palmer’s 2014 book, Energy in Australia, makes the additional point that “adding storage to solar PV reduces the EROEI, to just above 2. This is not enough net energy to be a viable energy source.”

To sum up: claims that solar photovoltaic panels could yield a viable energy return on energy invested appear to be based on naive and badly flawed assumptions.
(END of Update.)

(b) As the market share of renewable energy sources increases, they’ll become more expensive and less economical

Second, as solar energy’s market share increases, it’ll actually become more expensive and less economical, making it commercially non-viable, according to a recent MIT report, titled, The Future of Solar, which is helpfully summarized in an article by Rhodes Scholar and physicist Dr. Varun Sivaram, titled, The World Needs Post-Silicon Solar Technologies. In his article, Sivaram points out that “solar panels face a moving target for achieving cost-competitiveness with fossil-fuel based power that becomes more difficult as more solar panels are installed. As a result, even after the expected cost reductions that accompany increased experience with silicon technology, solar PV cannot seriously challenge and replace fossil-fuel generation without advancing beyond the economics of silicon.” The MIT report paints a sobering picture. It states that unsubsidized silicon solar panels are not currently cost-competitive with conventional generation in the United States, and that as the penetration of solar power increases, solar will become less valuable. Nor is storage is not a magic bullet that will make silicon solar panels economically viable: storage does improve the economics of solar at high penetration, but not enough to stabilize the moving target for solar cost-competitiveness. The reports states that “beyond modest levels of penetration and absent substantial government support or a carbon policy that favors renewables, contemporary solar technologies remain too expensive for large-scale deployment,” although it adds that “[large] cost reductions may be achieved through the development of novel, inherently less costly PV technologies, some of which are now only in the research stage.” In short: new technologies are necessary for solar to successfully compete. The report identifies some promising candidates, but the take-home message is that solar energy isn’t going to replace fossil fuels anytime soon.

(c) Environmental damage caused by renewable energy sources

Finally, few people realize that solar energy causes massive environmental damage: the components of solar panels, which include several “conflict minerals,” are often mined in countries with weak health and safety regulations. Even worse, solar energy has to rely on batteries for energy storage, due to the intermittent nature of sunlight. Just one electric car battery contains 50 kilograms of graphite, an environmental pollutant which is wreaking havoc in China, according to a report by by Konrad Yakabuski in The Globe and Mail (May 27, 2015), titled, The darker side of solar power. (The latter problem would also apply to wind energy.) Finally, we should recall that the indoor air pollution generated by biomass kills 3 million people every year.

There’s no way to solve these three problems any time soon: greater reliance on nuclear energy will be absolutely vital, if we want to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions to zero within the new 50 years.

A journalist punctures the media hype about solar energy

Despite these weighty problems with solar energy, the media continues to trumpet every new advance as if it were the magic solution to the problem of global warming. Thankfully, not all journalists are so gullible. A recent article by Will Boisvert in The Breakthrough (May 18, 2015) The Grid Will Not Be Disrupted: Why Tesla’s Powerwall Won’t Catalyze a Solar Revolution cites figures which puncture the media myth that advances in battery technology will soon render solar power viable on a large scale:

The announcement two weeks ago of Tesla Motors’ cheap new lithium-ion storage batteries set the renewable energy world on its ear. Breathless commentators pronounced them a revolutionary advance heralding cheap, ubiquitous electricity storage that would make solar power a 24/7-power source for the masses. Elon Musk, Tesla’s wunderkind CEO, fed these hopes at the glitzy product launch for the 10 kilowatt-hour (KWh) Powerwall home storage battery…

Powerwalls would let developing countries “leapfrog” straight to a solar-plus-storage electricity system, he explained, and the 100-kWh utility-scale Powerpack version would have a world-historical effect…

…Can batteries transform intermittent wind and solar power into reliable energy sources for a comprehensive decarbonization of the grid? Will billions of Powerpacks transition the world to an all-renewable energy supply? The answer, unfortunately, is no…

Consider the 160 million Powerpacks that Musk thinks would transition the US grid to solar and wind, a total of 16 terawatt-hours (trillion watt-hours) of storage. That’s several quantum leaps in storage capacity — but still only a drop in the nation’s gargantuan electricity bucket. America used about 4,100 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity last year, so those Powerpacks would be able to backstop a hypothetical all-intermittents American electricity supply for all of 34 hours. (That’s assuming average weather; during a heat wave or cold snap electricity demand would be much higher and the batteries might drain much faster.) The price of the Powerpacks by themselves, installation not included, would be $4 trillion. Want to extend that to two days’ worth of battery power? Throw another $1.6 trillion on the fire.

Renewables can’t solve the problem of rising coal emissions in India

Even if solar energy were to take off in Western countries, it will do very little to alter the situation in India, where despite a burgeoning local solar industry, coal use is projected to increase by 2.5 to 3 times by the year 2030, according to a recent IPCC report. “Even with the most aggressive strategy on nuclear, wind, hydro and solar, coal will still provide 55% of electricity consumption by 2030,” declares Jairam Ramesh, who led the Indian delegation at the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen. In a recent article (The Guardian, 16 April 2015), former vice-president Al Gore points out the harmful effects of coal on human life expectancy in India and China: “Air pollution is already reducing life expectancy in northern China by five and a half years, and in India (whose capital, New Delhi, has the worst air pollution of any large city in the world) by 3.2 years.” But one-third of Indians still have no access to electricity, and there is near-unanimity across a broad swath of Indian politicians that India must be allowed to burn more coal, in order to become an industralized country. Opposition to emissions caps is almost universal, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly speaks of India’s “right to growth.”

To give credit where credit is due, I should mention that Prime Minister Modi’s government has quintupled the 2022 targets which were set for non-fossil energy by the previous regime, to 175 GigaWatts – almost six times its current level. If the target is met, that would give India more than twice as much solar power as the United States. Ratul Puri, chairman of Hindustan Powerprojects Ltd, a very large corporation which has invested heavily in both coal and solar,believes that 15 to 20% of India’s energy could come from solar power in the near future. But Indian entrepreneur Kushagara Nandan, who runs Sunsource Energy, a solar start-up, cautions: “Unrealistic expectations must not be raised. It’s crucial to realise that solar must be part of the mix – it cannot substitute for other sources. For the foreseeable future, India doesn’t have a choice between coal and solar. It needs both.”

What about other renewable energy sources – hydroelectricity, wave power, geothermal, biofuels and wind?

So far, I have mainly discussed solar energy. But other renewable sources of energy face even greater problems. In a blog article titled, Fossil fuels are not finished, not obsolete, not a bad thing (March 22, 2015), Dr. Matt Ridley, former science editor of The Economist, explains what’s wrong with other renewable energy sources (hydroelectric, wave power, geothermal energy, biofuels and wind power):

As for renewable energy, hydroelectric is the biggest and cheapest supplier, but it has the least capacity for expansion. Technologies that tap the energy of waves and tides remain unaffordable and impractical, and most experts think that this won’t change in a hurry. Geothermal is a minor player for now. And bioenergy — that is, wood, ethanol made from corn or sugar cane, or diesel made from palm oil—is proving an ecological disaster: It encourages deforestation and food-price hikes that cause devastation among the world’s poor, and per unit of energy produced, it creates even more carbon dioxide than coal…

The two fundamental problems that renewables face are that they take up too much space and produce too little energy…

To run the U.S. economy entirely on wind would require a wind farm the size of Texas, California and New Mexico combined—backed up by gas on windless days. To power it on wood would require a forest covering two-thirds of the U.S., heavily and continually harvested.

Sounds like a plan? Why the widely-hyped Jacobson plan for 100% renewable energy won’t work

A recent article by David Roberts which was featured on RealClearEnergy.org highlighted a plan by Stanford researcher Mark Jacobson, which claimed that the US economy could be run entirely on renewable energy by 2050. Here’s how Roberts summarized the plan in his article (Here’s what it would take for the U.S. to run on 100% renewable energy, Vox.com, updated June 9, 2015):

It is technically and economically feasible to run the US economy entirely on renewable energy, and to do so by 2050. That is the conclusion of a new study in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, authored by Stanford scholar Mark Z. Jacobson and nine colleagues.

Jacobson is well-known for his ambitious and controversial work on renewable energy. In 2001 he published, with Mark A. Delucchi, a two-part paper (one, two) on “providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power.” In 2013 he published a feasibility study on moving New York state entirely to renewables, and in 2014 he created a road map for California to do the same.

His team’s new paper contains 50 such road maps, one for every state, with detailed modeling on how to get to a US energy system entirely powered by wind, water, and solar (WWS). That means no oil and coal. It also means no natural gas, no nuclear power, no carbon capture and sequestration, and no biofuels.

The road maps show how 80 to 85 percent of existing energy could be replaced by wind, water, and solar by 2030, with 100 percent by 2050…

No one can say any longer, at least not without argument, that moving the US quickly and entirely to renewables is impossible. Here is a way to do it, mapped out in some detail. But it is extremely ambitious…

The core of the plan is to electrify everything, including sectors that currently run partially or entirely on liquid fossil fuels. That means shifting transportation, heating/cooling, and industry to run on electric power…

Jacobson and colleagues … say that the grid they propose will be not only reliable, but more reliable than today’s grid.

If your reaction upon reading these headlines was, “Sounds too good to be true,” then you’d be right. Unfortunately, Jacobson’s latest study is behind a paywall. But as David Roberts noted in his review, it’s actually a collection of 50 road maps – one for every state of America. Back in 2013, Jacobson announced plans for the full-scale conversion of the state of New York to wind, water and solar [WWS] technology. Jacobson’s plans were widely panned, and a devastating review of them was published in an article titled, Critique of the 100% Renewable Energy for New York Plan (The Energy Collective, November 17, 2013) by energy and technology writer Edward Dodge, which I’d like to quote from here, as it conveys the flavor of what is wrong with Jacobson’s modeling:

I feel compelled to respond to a paper that is widely referenced by anti-hydrofracking activists as proof that New York can move beyond fossil fuels and power 100% of its energy needs with renewables. The WWS (Wind, Water and Solar) Plan for New York (Jacobson et al., 2013) is part of a series of papers authored chiefly by Prof Mark Jacobson from Stanford University that can be found here. The New York paper includes contributions from Cornell University professors Bob Howarth and Tony Ingraffea. Jacobson attempts to makes the case that society can acquire all of the energy it needs for all purposes in a relatively short period of time from a combination of solar, wind, hydro and geothermal. Jacobson is opposed to nuclear power and also opposes all hydrocarbon fuels whether bio or fossil based because of the contention that all CO2 emissions must be eliminated in order to prevent a catastrophic melting of the arctic sea ice. The plan calls for an 80% conversion to WWS [wind, water and solar] by 2030 and 100% conversion by 2050. Unfortunately the plans are deeply flawed from a practical and technical perspective.

Jacobson makes broad assumptions about the suitability of many different technologies and offers little evidence to back up his claims. Such assumptions include the complete abandonment of hydrocarbon fuels for vehicles, heavy equipment, ships and planes and conversion to battery and hydrogen fuels. No proof is offered that these new technologies can meet the performance requirements of existing machines. Nor are any references from industry or the military presented to justify the technical feasibility of the claims. Jacobson contends that some electric and fuel cell vehicles have come to market but that hardly meets the burden of proof that a century and a half of performance based industrial development can be converted over wholesale to new equipment that is not currently proven in real world use.

A common flaw in the WWS model is the use of unproven technologies along with insufficient analysis of their land use impacts. For example, wave devices, tidal turbines and geothermal are included even though they are not mature technologies. The WWS plan has virtually no discussion of the land use impacts of new power transmission or discussion of hydrogen storage and distribution. Other writers have disputed Jacobson’s assumptions about electricity storage and economics here and here. Debate over the feasibility of intermittent power sources to keep the grid running can be found here and here, a response to the critics by Jacobson can be found here….

The most glaring defect in the entire model is the use of CSP, concentrated solar power, which is a thermal technology used in the desert and not applicable to New York. I would challenge the authors to find any qualified engineers or developers who would certify these types of facilities for NY. The authors call for 387 CSP plants rated at 100 MW each to be built throughout the state. Each 100 MW CSP plant requires roughly 1 square mile of flat, unburdened land and requires the highest levels of solar insolation. New York has the opposite characteristics: long, cold, dark winters and rolling hills covered in forests, fields and farms. By the authors’ own figures, 327.3 square miles of land would have to be cleared to construct 387 of these projects across the state…

The wind model presented is troubling because it assumes to utilize as many wind turbines as conceivably possible, basically placing turbines on every single hill with decent wind in the state without regard to people already living there. Similar to the trick in the PV [photovoltaic] model, the authors choose particularly large turbines that allow them to overstate production…

The numbers presented for offshore wind are truly astounding. 12,700 turbines at 5 MW each for a total capacity of 63,550 MW. The authors do fairly note that there is not a single off shore wind farm anywhere in the United States in 2013, but that does not stop them from asserting that some of the busiest multiuse waterways will be packed to the maximum extent with a forest of very large turbines. The available waterways in NY are the coasts of Long Island and parts of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. There is no discussion of impacts on shipping lanes, boating, fisheries, recreation or general public acceptance. No discussion of bathymetric properties of the sea floor and whether the farms of the proposed scale are even technically possible.

I hate to be critical of proposals for wind and solar because I hope these industries continue to grow, but the WWS plan lacks any technical credibility whatsoever. It has been widely criticized by many writers and for good reason. I only chose to add to the pile because I see the paper being hailed for political purposes by those with an agenda opposing drilling for natural gas. Mark Jacobson has been making appearances on television claiming this is all technically feasible, well I have to disagree.

I don’t want to sound uncharitable here. To give credit where credit is due, Jacobson has produced a very detailed plan for the conversion of the entire planet to renewable sources of energy – and he’s had the honesty to put a price tag on his plan: $100 trillion, which he thinks is affordable. And if I had to pick a plan for converting the world to renewable energy sourves, I’d pick Jacobson’s: it’s much better than anything else I’ve seen. I’ll be discussing the economic implications of his plan below, in section 4. But for the time being, let me note that while it contains some very detailed estimates of the requirements for a conversion to renewable energy, it appears to be wildly impractical on many counts: as the review cited above points out, Jacobson’s treatment of the issues lacks depth. Finally, as far as I am aware, Jacobson does not address the three fundamental problems I discussed earlier, in connection with renewable sources of energy. Summing up, I would have to say that Jacobson’s plan, while commendably ambitious, needs a lot more work.

Fossil fuels will be here for at least a few decades

Many readers may think that if we actually had a viable plan for a conversion of the planet to renewable sources of energy, our problems would be solved. Unfortunately, fossil fuels won’t go away in a hurry. A recent report by Kurt Cobb in Oilprice.com points out that “[v]ery little of the existing electricity generation infrastructure is coming down soon,” and concludes that “far from replacing existing fossil fuel generating plants, renewables are simply going to add to total electricity generation as demand grows.” In his article, Cobb also notes that governments worldwide currently pay out $550 billion in subsidies each year – that’s the figure for 2013 – on the production of oil, coal, and natural gas, which is more than four times the subsidies for renewables including wind, solar and biomass. But instead of spending $550 billion on renewable energy research, Cobb argues that a much better use of that money would be spending it on known technologies that drastically reduce our consumption of energy – for instance, passive house technology, which can reduce building heating and cooling energy use by 80 to 90 percent. That would be a better investment. Cobb also recommends a high and rising carbon tax, to accelerate the energy transition away from fossil fuels.

The IMF’s latest myth: governments subsidize fossil fuels by $5.3 trillion a year, worldwide. The true figure is one-tenth of that

By the way, Brad Plumer of Vox.com has written an excellent rebuttal of the recent claim made by the IMF that we spend $5.3 trillion a year on fossil fuel subsidies. Plumer explains that the IMF is using a highly idiosyncratic definition of “fossil fuel subsidy” in its report: for most people, the term refers to government under-writing of the production and/or consumption of coal, oil or gas. Defined in this way, government fossil fuel subsidies total around $500 billion per year, worldwide. But the IMF’s definition of a subsidy includes not only government assistance but also the costs of any environmental damage caused by coal, oil and gas each year, which is not borne by consumers. Economists refer to these costs as externalities. What the IMF is really saying is that governments should be taxing coal, oil and gas a whole lot more, to cover the environmental costs of global warming, which are inflicted on society as a whole. The IMF would like governments to tax fossil fuels by an additional $5.3 trillion a year. That may or may not be a good idea, but a failure to impose a tax is not the same thing as a subsidy.

Additionally, the IMF’s definition of environmental damage caused by global warming is extraordinarily broad: it even covers car accidents, traffic fatalities and congestion, all of which are caused not by gasoline per se but by automobiles. In his essay, Brad Plumer points out that if we switched over to solar-powered electric cars tomorrow, we’d still have traffic accidents, fatalities and congestion. So where is the sense in blaming gasoline for that?

Dr. Matt Ridley has more to say about fossil fuel subsidies in his blog article, Fossil fuels are not finished, not obsolete, not a bad thing (March 22, 2015), where he points out that renewables are currently subsidized to the tune of $10 per gigajoule, and that this kind of subsidy tends to transfer money from the poor to the rich – especially landowners, who are paid to install wind and solar power facilities on their property. On a per-gigajoule basis, fossil fuel subsidies are much lower in magnitude, and tend to benefit the poor:

It is true that some countries subsidize the use of fossil fuels, but they do so at a much lower rate—the world average is about $1.20 per gigajoule — and these are mostly subsidies for consumers (not producers), so they tend to help the poor, for whom energy costs are a disproportionate share of spending.

Finally, most people are unaware that these fossil fuel subsidies are not paid by Western countries, but by countries like Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India and China, to their own citizens and/or local industries, as this chart shows. There’s little that Western governments can do about ending these subsidies.

Energy transitions take time

Finally, a recent article in Politico by energy visionary Vaclav Smil — Bill Gates’s favorite author — titled, Revolution? More like a crawl, explains that transitions in energy use are subject to time constraints that not even brilliant innovators are capable of overcoming:

Google launched its “Clean Energy 2030″ in October 2008, aiming to eliminate U.S. use of coal and oil for electricity generation by 2030, and cut oil use for cars by 44 percent. It was completely abandoned in November 2011.

Elon Musk, the entrepreneur some U.S. media have proclaimed to be a man more inventive than Edison, makes much-praised electric cars — but Tesla ended 2014 with another loss after selling only 17,300 vehicles in a market of 16.5 million units, claiming a share of 0.1 percent of the U.S. car market.

Summary

I’d like to conclude by quoting from a powerfully worded article titled, Baby Lauren and the Kool-Aid (July 30, 2011) by Professor James Hansen, former Vice-President Al Gore’s climate adviser:

Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

4. The true cost of fighting global warming has been scandalously under-stated by politicians

Image of Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon on the Apollo 11 mission. The Apollo program cost $110 billion altogether, in today’s dollars. Fighting global warming could cost 1,000 times more than that. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Politicians have a habit of telling their constituents what they want to hear. The public desperately wants to believe that the problem of global warming has an affordable solution. However, the truth is that we don’t know how much it will cost to fight global warming. A realistic estimate, factoring in the political and technological uncertainties, would be: at least $100 trillion, and maybe considerably more. However, most people have no inkling of the real cost of combating global warming. No-one has ever told them the truth.

A flawed estimate by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Change

In 2014, a report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Change, chaired by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and advised by Lord Stern, former UK government economist, declared that the cost of tackling climate change was very modest: clean technology could be achieved by adding just 5% to the $6 trillion a year spent on power and transport projects. The total cost would amount to just $4 trillion, over the next 15 years. But critics, including Professor Gordon Hughes, an energy economist at Edinburgh University, responded that the report’s conclusions are over-optimistic, adding that the total costs of renewables to energy systems as a whole were greater than they appeared.

Sam Bliss, in an article in Grist titled, No, economic growth and climate stability do not go hand in hand (September 30, 2014) accuses the authors of the report of deliberately painting an overly rosy picture, designed to reassure politicians and investors that the world economy can continue to grow, even as it cuts greenhouse gas emissions. Bliss contends that the report has skirted the vital question: can we grow economically while we achieve climate stability? Bliss is doubtful: he cites estimates by Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research that rich countries would have to cut their carbon emissions by 10 per cent a year in order to stay under the “danger threshold” of 2 degrees Celsius, and at the same time avoid imposing a disproportionate share of the burden of cutting emissions on poor countries (whose ecological footprint is far smaller than that of affluent countries). No country, argues Bliss, can cut its emissions by 10 per cent a year and grow at the same time.

A better estimate: stopping global warming will cost the world $44 trillion – if we’re very, very lucky

The total cost of fighting global warming has been more realistically estimated in a 2014 report by the International Energy Agency, at $44 trillion. That’s what government and investors need to invest in clean energy and related technologies from 2011 to 2050 in order to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Such an outlay will require spending of $1 trillion a year, or about 1.3 percent of the world’s annual output of goods and services, or about $140 a person. In reality, however, it will be the developed and middle-income countries (N. America, the EU, China, Japan and Australia & New Zealand) that foot the bill, and for these countries, $1 trillion would represent about 2% of their annual GDP.

In any case, the IEA’s estimate that fighting global warming will cost $44 trillion is based on an ideal scenario. That scenario tell us what it will cost to switch away from fossil fuels, if we all act now and make intelligent decisions, and if technologies work out the way we hope they will. And if technology for capturing and storing carbon dioxide can’t be deployed, the cost of stabilizing greenhouse-gas levels will more than double, according to a recent IPCC report. That would mean that developed and middle-income countries end up spending 4% of their annual GDP on fighting global warming.

The 2014 report by International Energy Agency also claimed that although a global transition to clean energy would cost $44 trillion, it would save $115 trillion in avoided fuel, thereby resulting in a net “saving” of $71 trillion. But as we’ve seen, the $44 trillion figure is based on an ideal scenario, and the true cost of a transition to clean energy may be more than twice as much. In that case, most or all of the $71 trillion will disappear. And I might add that a $71 trillion reduction in economic activity through fuel savings will mean job losses, a reduction in tax revenues for the government, and a lower value of many companies’ stocks – all of which can hamper economic growth.

The true price of stopping global warming is more likely to be $100 trillion

In November 2009, Mark Z. Jacobson, at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, and Mark A. Delucchi, at the Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California at Davis, wrote an article (“A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030”, Scientific American 301, 58 – 65, 2009) which discussed what was needed in order to reduce fossil fuel emissions to zero, worldwide, and in 2011, they provided detailed supporting calculations here and here. Daily Kos journalist N. B. Books has written an excellent summary of their article here. The authors of the 2009 study estimated that eliminating fossil fuels worldwide would require the construction of 1.7 billion 3-kilo-Watt rooftop photvoltaic (PV) systems, 3.8 million 5-Mega-Watt wind turbines, 720,000 0.75-Mega-Watt wave devices, 490,000 1-Mega-Watt tidal turbines, 49,000 300-Mega-Watt concentrated solar plants, 40,000 300-Mega-Watt solar power plants, 5,350 100-Mega-Watt geothermal power plants, and 270 new 1,300-Mega-Watt hydroelectric power plants. And the cost? $100 trillion, over 20 years, not including transmission. The authors insist that this gigantic sum “is not money handed out by governments or consumers”; rather, it is “investment that is paid back through the sale of electricity and energy.” My question is: investment by whom? Even Bill Gates’ net worth is “only” $79.1 billion. That’s 1,250 times less than the amount required. The authors of the study also argue that relying on traditional power sources would require $10 trillion to cover the costs of the extra thermal plants that would need to be built over the next two decades, “not to mention tens of trillions of dollars more in health, environmental and security costs.” But spending money on more power plants and paying taxes and fines to cover the costs of fossil fuel emissions are very different kinds of business activities from investing $100 trillion in a huge worldwide project to switch the entire planet to new sources of energy. That kind of activity requires massive government investment, and to suppose it could be done without that investment is nothing more than a pipe-dream.

Daily Kos writer N. B. Books (whose real name is Tony Wikrent) is also unfazed about spending $100 trillion to stop global warming. He writes: “We can just create the money needed out of thin air. That is, in fact, the way money has always been created.” The author’s left-wing bias is clearly showing here, and he appears unaware that many economists have panned the idea (advanced by some liberals) of printing trillion-dollar coins to pay off America’s public debt, on the grounds that it would create a crisis of international confidence in the American economy. But at least these coins would have no impact on inflation, as they would be sitting in a Treasury vault. However, if America or any other country were to create $100 trillion to pay for the cost of fighting global warming, that money would have to enter circulation – and its impact would be inflationary. Books also writes that “just a ten percent increase in world output” from $71 trillion (the world’s current GDP) to $78 trillion, paid over 15 years, would cover the costs. How the author thinks the world can magically increase its GDP by 10% overnight is a mystery to me.

The cost of fighting global warming may prove to be incalculable

Finally, Robert Pindyck, a professor of economics and finance at MIT, candidly admits that we can’t really calculate the true costs of combating global warming: “All we can do is speculate. We don’t really know the costs. We don’t really know the benefits.”

A failure to distinguish two very different questions about cost

When I survey the arguments put forward by both sides about the cost of fighting global warming, I am struck by a failure to distinguish two very different questions relating to cost. The first question is: do the benefits of fighting global warming exceed the costs? This is a question about the long-term, and I think a good economic case could be made that they do, if we accept that there’s a significant chance that global warming could eventually raise temperatures to more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels – even if we rate this chance as rather low (say, 10 or 20%). The Stern Review of 2006, which attracted a storm of controversy (about which see here and here, certainly made a very powerful case, on purely economic grounds, that the benefits of fighting global warming do indeed exceed the costs.

The second question asks for a “meat-and-potatoes” calculation of revenues and expenses: what are the net expenses incurred by countries around the world in fighting global warming, and can governments afford to pay for these expenses? Whereas the first question looks at benefits and costs (which may relate to the environment as a whole), the second question focuses exclusively on governments’ annual budgets.

The point I wish to make here is that a “yes” answer to the first question does not imply a “yes” answer to the second. The social and environmental benefits of combating global warming may well exceed the costs, but at the same time, the budget expenses incurred by the world’s governments in fighting global warming may prove to be unaffordable.

What readers need to understand is that we can only proceed with plans to end global warming if the answer to the second question is “yes.” If the answer is “no,” then we’re sunk, no matter how great the benefits of ending global warming prove to be. That is why the question of the dollar cost of fighting global warming is so important.

What will be the impact on the world’s GDP? We don’t know.

Finally, an oft-cited IPCC estimate that fighting global warming will shave a mere 0.06% off GDP growth is pure poppycock. As David Roberts convincingly argues over at Grist, we do not, and cannot, know how much it will cost to tackle climate change. Roberts cites three academic papers to support his arguments – a 2015 report by Richard Rosen of the Tellus Institute and Edeltraud Guenther of the Technische Universitaet Dresden, an earlier report by Frank Ackerman (Stockholm Environment Institute-US Center, Tufts University) and his colleagues, and a 2013 report by Serban Scrieciu, Terry Barker and Frank Ackerman. In their 2015 report, Rosen and Guenther conclude that “not only do we not know the approximate magnitude of the net benefits or costs of mitigating climate change to any specific level of future global temperature increase over the next 50–100 years, but we also cannot even claim to know the sign of the mitigation impacts on GWP, or national GDPs, or any other economic metric commonly computed.” The authors recommend that “the IPCC and other scientific bodies should no longer report attempts at calculating the net economic impacts of mitigating climate change to the public in their reports.”

Could relacing fossil fuels with nuclear power and/or renewable energy actually boost countries’ GDP, as some economists contend? Possibly – and possibly not. The truth is that we really don’t know. The point I’d like to make, however, is that the fight against global warming will cost a heck of a lot of money (around $100 trillion), and at the present time, scientists and economists cannot guarantee that we’ll have enough money to stop global warming, within the time available. It may prove to be financially impossible. We just don’t know.

5. Why the Millennium Development Goals must be met, come what may

Child next to an open sewer in a slum in Kampala, Uganda, at risk of diarrhea and stunted growth. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

In a world where 2.5 billion people do not have basic sanitation, where 1 in 9 people remain hungry, where 6 million children die before their fifth birthday every year, and where only half of all women in developing countries receive adequate maternal care, it is absolutely vital that the countries of the world do their utmost to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the more ambitious post-2015 development agenda. (For more information on the Millennium Development Goals, see here.)

The world currently spends almost $135 billion per annum on overseas aid. That’s a commitment we must continue to keep, no matter how serious the global warming crisis gets. For even if the direst prognostications of the IPCC forecasters turn out to be correct, it would be morally wrong to withhold money from children who are dying now, in order to save generations of as-yet-unconceived children. Starvation, malnutrition and disease are clear and present dangers which kill millions. Future dangers can never take precedence over these crises.

The world currently faces a number of looming crises: (a) the problem of billions of people living in poverty, with millions of these people dying every year from malnutrition, disease and indoor air pollution; (b) the aging society in both Western and former Communist countries, and the danger that governments in many countries may run out of money to fund Social security payments; (c) the danger of full-scale war breaking out in the Middle East; (d) the danger of a military showdown with China in the South Pacific; (d) the international refugee crisis, as millions flee their countries in search of a job and political stability; and (e) the real risk of another global pandemic.

My concern is that if we add (f) the $100 trillion cost of ending global warming, to the list, we’re no longer going to be able to address all of the other problems. It would surely be a political miracle – arguably the greatest in human history – if we managed to resolve or avert all of these problems (Third World poverty. the aging crisis, war in the Middle East, war between China and the U.S., refugees, and the threat of a pandemic), and at the same time, we managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ZERO by 2070. Frankly, I simply don’t believe it’s possible. My gut tells me that something’s got to give.

6. How much can we really trust the IPCC’s global warming predictions?

Until now, I have assumed that the IPCC’s global warming predictions for the 21st century are reliable and accurately represent the state of current scientific knowledge. But while it’s true that the vast majority of climatologists would agree that global warming is real and largely man-made, there is far less agreement among scientists regarding whether global warming will be dangerous or not, during the nest few decades.


KEY POINTS:
1. People have swallowed a lot of myths about global warming, thanks to media hype: for example, the myth that it is causing extreme weather (true for heat waves; not true for hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts), or that sea levels are rising rapidly as a result of global warming (actual rate: about 2 feet a century), or that global warming is already causing mass extinctions (at most, only a few species have died out due to global warming), or that global warming is causing hundreds of thousands of deaths a year (it may be doing so, but it is also precenting a much greater number of deaths in other countries).
2. The term “denialist” is a totally inaccurate way to characterize global warming skeptics. Most of them are lukewarmers, like Dr. Matt Ridley, who was once a global warming believer but who came to believe, after careful study, that global warming, while real, wasn’t anything like as dangerous as generally believed. Lukewarmers tend to believe that a doubling of carbon dioxide levels will lead to an average global temperature rise of 1.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels, while global warming alarmists propose figures of around 3 or 4 degrees.
3. So far, the models tend to support the alarmists – but if we look st the actual temperature data of the last 40 years, it tends to support the lukewarmers. If they are right, then we don’t have to hit the panic buttton right away: we have a few more decades to address the problem of global warming in a calm, rational manner.

Hosing down the myths

The public perception of the global warming debate has been influenced by several widely propagated myths and half-truths, which, if exposed, would cause most people to question the current scientific consensus.

Take the claim that global warming is causing extreme weather. It’s largely false. While the number of record high temperatures and heat waves around the world is increasing, it’s also true that neither hurricanes, nor floods, nor tornadoes, nor droughts have increased in frequency or intensity since the mid-20th century, according to Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who has done a lot of work on extreme weather. Indeed, even the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that “there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century.”

Or take the claim that sea levels are rising rapidly as a result of global warming, and that the entire country of Bangladesh, as well as the Maldives and the Kiribati islands, are all in danger of being flooded. In reality, the latest AR5 IPCC report estimates (Chapter 13, p. 1180) the rise by the end of the 21st century at just 0.40 meters [with a 95% likelihood range of 0.26 to 0.55 meters) on the best future global warming scenario (RCP2.6) and 0.63 meters [with a 95% likelihood range of 0.45 to 0.82 meters] on the worst scenario (RCP8.5), relative to the average global seal level for the 20-year period from 1986–2005. 0.63 meters is about 2 feet. That’s hardly catastrophic.

“How many people would be affected by a rise in sea level of less than one meter?” you may be wondering. It has been estimated that over 150 million people live less than 1 meter above high tide level, while another estimate is that more than 200 million people worldwide live along coastlines less than 5 metres above sea level. These people will have two choices: either build dykes or move away. The cost of building hundreds of kilometers of dykes along the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta region (which will be one of the worst-affected areas) has been estimated at more than 20 billion euros. But that’s a drop in the ocean, when compared to the $100 trillion that it’ll take to combat global warming worldwide, as we saw above.

Many people also believe the myth that global warming is causing mass extinctions. Ronald Bailey, a science correspondent for Reason magazine, has skilfully demolished this myth in an article titled, Predictions of a Man-Made Sixth Mass Extinction May Be Exaggerated. A study by Rodolfo Dirzo et al. (Science 345, pp. 401-406, 2014) claimed that the world is “likely losing 11,000 to 58,000 species annually.” At the higher rate, something like 40 percent of all animal species will be gone by 2050. However, according to the most recent and authorititive estimate by Stuart Pimm et al. (Science 30 May 2014: Vol. 344 no. 6187), the current extinction rate of species is actually 100 out of every million species, per year – which means that if there are five to ten million species on Earth, about 500 to 1,000 species are going extinct every year. That’s about 20 to 50 times lower than Dirzo’s extravagant estimate. What’s more, very few (if any) of these extinctions can be linked to global warming. Even the IPCC WGII AR5 Summary for Policymakers admits that “only a few recent species extinctions have been attributed as yet to climate change (high confidence)” (p. 4), although it does warn that “any species and systems with limited adaptive capacity are subject to very high risks with additional warming of 2°C, particularly Arctic-sea-ice and coral-reef systems” (p. 12). In short: while global warming may cause species extinctions if temperatures go up by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, there is little evidence that it has caused any extinctions to date.

Finally, let’s examine the claim that global warming is causing hundreds of thousands of deaths a year. The WHO estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change will cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress. Even if that claim were true, what it overlooks is that global warming also reduces the number of deaths from other causes (e.g. extreme cold), thereby resulting in a net saving of lives. As Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg points out in an article in Time magazine (September 30, 2013), “economic models generally find that moderate global warming is a net global benefit. Worldwide and in almost all regions, many more people die from cold than heat. With increasing temperatures, avoided cold deaths will vastly outweigh extra heat deaths. By midcentury, researchers estimate 400,000 more heat deaths but 1.8 million fewer cold deaths.” I have to ask: if global warming in the mid-21st century saves several times more lives than it takes, should we consider it an unmitigated evil? I think not. Should we prefer temperatures to be at their current level? I think that’s debatable.

Dr. Matt Ridley: the making of a lukewarmer

People who question the “consensus” view that global warming is real, man-made and dangerous are commonly labeled “deniers” – a ridiculous term, as it ignores the people in the “thoughtful middle.” One of these people is Dr. Matt Ridley, a former science editor of The Economist, who went from being an ardent believer in the threat of man-made global warming to a “lukewarmer,” who now holds that global warming is real and mostly man-made, but unlikely to be dangerous. In a recent article for The Times, titled, My life as a climate lukewarmer (January 20, 2015), he explains his change of heart:

I was not always a lukewarmer. When I first started writing about the threat of global warming more than 26 years ago, as science editor of The Economist, I thought it was a genuinely dangerous threat. Like, for instance, Margaret Thatcher, I accepted the predictions being made at the time that we would see warming of a third or a half a degree (Centigrade) a decade, perhaps more, and that this would have devastating consequences.

Gradually, however, I changed my mind. The failure of the atmosphere to warm anywhere near as rapidly as predicted was a big reason: there has been less than half a degree of global warming in four decades — and it has slowed down, not speeded up. Increases in malaria, refugees, heatwaves, storms, droughts and floods have not materialised to anything like the predicted extent, if at all. Sea level has risen but at a very slow rate — about a foot per century.

Also, I soon realised that all the mathematical models predicting rapid warming assume big amplifying feedbacks in the atmosphere, mainly from water vapour; carbon dioxide is merely the primer, responsible for about a third of the predicted warming. When this penny dropped, so did my confidence in predictions of future alarm: the amplifiers are highly uncertain.

Another thing that gave me pause was that I went back and looked at the history of past predictions of ecological apocalypse from my youth – population explosion, oil exhaustion, elephant extinction, rainforest loss, acid rain, the ozone layer, desertification, nuclear winter, the running out of resources, pandemics, falling sperm counts, cancerous pesticide pollution and so forth. There was a consistent pattern of exaggeration, followed by damp squibs: in not a single case was the problem as bad as had been widely predicted by leading scientists. That does not make every new prediction of apocalypse necessarily wrong, of course, but it should encourage scepticism.

Ridley goes on to say that his skepticism was reinforced by the demolition of Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph by Canadians statisticians Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, which was subsequently confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences in the United States. The problem with such graphs, explains Ridley, is that they are “heavily reliant on dubious sets of tree rings and use inappropriate statistical filters that exaggerate any 20th-century upturns.”

UPDATE: A commenter on this thread has claimed that the National Academy of Sciences supported Mann’s position on the hockey stick. Here’s what the NAS actually said (bolding mine):

It can be said with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries. This statement is justified by the consistency of the evidence from a wide variety of geographically diverse proxies.

Less confidence can be placed in large-scale surface temperature reconstructions for the period from A.D. 900 to 1600. Presently available proxy evidence indicates that temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since A.D. 900. The uncertainties associated with reconstructing hemispheric mean or global mean temperatures from these data increase substantially backward in time through this period and are not yet fully quantified.

Very little confidence can be assigned to statements concerning the hemispheric mean or global mean surface temperature prior to about A.D. 900 because of sparse data coverage and because the uncertainties associated with proxy data and the methods used to analyze and combine them are larger than during more recent time periods.

I would hardly call that a ringing endorsement of Mann, as the NAS only expressed a high degree of confidence in Mann’s claim over the last 400 years, and it expressed considerably less confidence in temperature reconstructions for the interval 900-1600.

However, I would argue that whatever the merits of Mann’s hockey stick, we really need to look at the “big picture” of temperature fluctuations during the Holocene – that is, during the 12,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age – as shown in the following graph:

Holocene temperature variations. Source: Robert A. Rohde, Global Warming Art Project. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The black line, which shows the average of eight different records of temperature records extending over many hundreds of years, indicates that temperatures have gradually fallen from a peak around 8,000 years ago, but have sharply risen from around 150 years ago onwards, to a current level which is still below their peak level, 8,000 years ago. (This point has been acknowledged even by global warming activist Dr. James Hansen, who wrote back in 1982 that the temperature 5,000 years ago was up to 1 degree Celsius warmer than it is today. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) currently states on its Website that “the mid-Holocene, roughly 6,000 years ago, was generally warmer than today, but only in summer and only in the northern hemisphere.” However, in the far southern hemisphere, it was certainly warmer than today between 8,000 and 10,500 years ago.) I should add that the sharp temperature rise observed during the last 150 years isn’t the only one; as the graph shows, there seem to have been other rises around 5,000, 6,000 and 7,000 years ago. The conclusion which I draw from the graph is that the global warming we have experienced so far isn’t anything to worry about.

Of course, one could argue that what matters is future warming. I agree. However, the currently observed rate of warming (0.11 degrees Celsius per decade, or thereabouts) is no cause for immediate panic. It suggests that we may not have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2070, after all: perhaps 2100 is a more realistic target date.

I might also add that the wild divergences in the colored curves illustrate the massive uncertainties in the science of global warming. Faced with such uncertainties, scientists should avoid strident dogmatism. Name-calling and the use of epithets like “global warming denialist” really don’t help matters.
(END of Update.)

Scientists’ attempts at silencing Dr. Ridley

After he came out as a lukewarmer, Ridley had what he calls “long and time-consuming email exchanges” with scientists who disagreed with his views, but “grew steadily more sceptical as, one by one, they failed to answer my doubts.” Many of his opponents then resorted to invective, ridicule and ad hominem attacks, in an effort to discredit him. Ridley concludes:

I have never met a climate sceptic, let alone a lukewarmer, who wants his opponents silenced. I wish I could say the same of those who think climate change is an alarming prospect.

Global warming alarmists vs. lukewarmers: where the scientific disagreement lies

Above: Global mean surface temperature change from 1880 to 2014, relative to the 1951–1980 mean. The black line is the annual mean and the red line is the 5-year running mean. The green bars show uncertainty estimates. Source: NASA GISS. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Below: Frequency distribution of climate sensitivity, based on the IPCC’s modeling. Only a few of the simulations result in less than 2 °C of warming, and some simulations result in significantly more than 4 °C. This pattern (statisticians call it a “right-skewed distribution”) suggests that if carbon dioxide concentrations double, the probability of very large increases in temperature is greater than the probability of very small increase. Lukewarmers such as former NASA climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer, on the other hand, point out that the observed rate of global warming since 1979 (about 0.11 degrees Celsius per decade) is considerably lower than the rate predicted by 95% of the IPCC’s climate models, which strongly suggests that the models are wrong. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The main justification for alarmist projections about global warming comes from mathematical models used by the IPCC. Climatologist Dr. Michael Mann has published a vigorous defense of the IPCC’s global warming projections in Scientific American (Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036, Mar 18, 2014). The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) refers to the equilibrium change in global mean air temperatures near the Earth’s surface that would result from a sustained doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) concentration of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide levels are forecast to double later this century, if current trends continue unchecked. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) states that “there is high confidence that ECS is extremely unlikely [to be] less than 1°C and medium confidence that the ECS is likely between 1.5°C and 4.5°C and very unlikely [to be] greater than 6°C.” Dr. Mann contends that the equilibrium climate sensitivity is about 3 degrees Celsius. He argues as follows:

The most likely value for this equilibrium climate sensitivity … is just below three degrees C. Why? Because many independent calculations of temperature in the past, as well as many climate models, place the number very close to this value…

However, critics have pointed out that these climate models incorporate some dubious assumptions about climate feedbacks from water vapor, which, it is claimed, amplify the warming caused by a doubling of carbon dioxide levels from a relatively mild 1 degree Celsius to a dangerous level of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius, or more. In a blog article titled, Fossil fuels are not finished, not obsolete, not a bad thing, Dr. Matt Ridley exposes the flaws in these models:

As Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute has written, since 2000, 14 peer-reviewed papers, published by 42 authors, many of whom are key contributors to the reports of the IPCC, have concluded that climate sensitivity is low because net feedbacks are modest. They arrive at this conclusion based on observed temperature changes, ocean-heat uptake and the balance between warming and cooling emissions (mainly sulfate aerosols). On average, they find sensitivity to be 40% lower than the models on which the IPCC relies.

Dr. Michael Mann’s paper has been taken apart by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley in an online paper titled, Hide the decline deja vu? Mann’s ‘little white line’ as ‘False Hope’ may actually be false hype (March 24, 2014). Monckton catalogues the many inaccuracies in Mann’s article, before going on to address what I consider to be Mann’s best argument for a high value of the Earth’s equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) – namely, that several converging lines of evidence all point to a value of 3 degrees Celsius, rather than the 1.6 degrees suggested by some “lukewarmers.” In Mann’s own words: “When all the forms of evidence are combined, they point to a most likely value for ECS that is close to three degrees C.” Monckton’s response is incisive:

Given that two-thirds of Mann’s suggested 3ºC value depends upon the operation over millennial timescales of temperature feedbacks that Mann himself admits are subject to enormous uncertainties; given that not one of the feedbacks can be directly measured or distinguished by any empirical method either from other feedbacks or from the forcings that triggered it; and given that non-radiative transports are woefully represented in the models, there is no legitimate scientific basis whatsoever for Mann’s conclusion that a 3ºC climate sensitivity is correct.

The perils of model-driven science

Scientists are generally believed to be hard-headed individuals who are unswayed by personal bias, and who are willing to change their opinions as new information becomes available. Science is supposed to be data-driven: if the data do not support your hypothesis, then so much the worse for your hypothesis. Unfortunately, the science of global warming is not conducted in this way. For the past 40 years, the Earth’s temperatures have been rising at about 0.11 degrees Celsius per decade, as measured by satellite instruments (which are the most accurate way of measuring global temperatures). But as NASA climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer has pointed out, “[more than] 95% of the models have over-forecast the warming trend since 1979, whether we use their own surface temperature dataset (HadCRUT4), or our satellite dataset of lower tropospheric temperatures (UAH).” He infers that the models on which the IPCC bases its global warming predictions are wrong: “Whether humans are the cause of 100% of the observed warming or not, the conclusion is that global warming isn’t as bad as was predicted.”

Global warming alarmists have suggested that the reason why the atmosphere hasn’t heated up as rapidly as expected is that the heat is going into the oceans. Czech physicist Lubos Motl has looked into this question, and he finds that the oceans have indeed been heating steadily for the past 45 years – but that the total amount of heating over that period is a paltry 0.06 degrees Celsius. Yes, you read that right.

In a recent paper, climatologists Judith Curry and Nic Lewis have argued (see also here) that when aerosol forcing is taken into account, the data do indeed support a relatively modest value of 1.6 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for Earth’s equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). A response by Gavin Schmidt can be found here. Bob Tisdale responds to Gavin Schmidt here. (I should mention in passing that while Dr. Curry accepts that most of the warming since the late 1970s has been caused as a result of human activities, she thinks that this means “around 50% of the warming observed is man-made.”)

Finally, one curious fact I’d like to point out is that the rate of warming from the late 1970s to the present is about the same as the rate of global warming from 1910 to 1950. However, the IPCC does not claim that the warming which occurred from 1910 to 1950 was man-made: apparently, man-made carbon dioxide increases in the first part of the twentieth century are believed to have been too low to have had a major impact on global temperatures. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the temperature increase was roughly the same. That strikes me as odd. To be fair, I should mention that the Website Skeptical Science has addressed this claim and concludes:

Ultimately while natural forcings can account for much of the early 20th Century warming, humans played a role as well. Additionally, the early century warming wasn’t as large or rapid as the late century warming, to which these natural factors did not contribute in any significant amount.

Alarmists vs. lukewarmers: who is right? The verdicts of theology and science

So who’s right here? Not being an expert, I’m reluctant to offer an opinion. But for people with a religious worldview, it would be very odd indeed if the Earth turned out to be exquisitely sensitive to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Putting it bluntly as a Catholic layman: that would be a very mean trick of God to play on the human race. Scientists didn’t arrive at a general agreement that global warming was even occurring until the 1980s (as late as the mid-1970s, a number of respected scientists were predicting global cooling – see also here – after a plunge in global temperatures between 1945 and 1975), and if the IPCC models are correct, we’ve got barely enough time to solve the problem – and it’ll take a political (and perhaps financial) miracle to fix it. That’s hardly the behavior that one would expect of an all-loving Deity Who created the Earth for man.

In science, though, that kind of reasoning is disallowed. Data is what it is. However, what impresses me as a non-scientist is that if we look at the actual data of global warming trends since the late 1970s, it tends to support relatively modest global warming. The Earth isn’t warming anything like as rapidly as the alarmists said it would.

Michael Mann may well be right, in the end. But the global temperature data from the last 40 years support Spencer, not Mann. And if Spencer is correct, then we don’t need to hit the panic button: we don’t have to solve the problem within 50 years. That gives the human race some breathing space.

Postscript: I should add that I have no wish to enter into a discussion of the so-called “pause” in global warming during the last 15 to 18 years (about which see here, here, here and here) as it is utterly immaterial to my argument. The point I wish to make is simply that if we look at the “big picture” and confine ourselves to the data, global warming is far less alarming than it’s commonly made out to be.

7. Who’s to blame for global warming?

Why blaming capitalism and big corporations is childish and stupid

There are some senior Catholic clerics who have publicly blamed either capitalism itself or big, greedy multinational corporations for global warming. Both of these positions are frankly ridiculous.

Capitalism is simply an economic system in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations. That’s how the dictionary defines it. It also incorporates a mechanism – the market – which very efficiently hooks up people who wish to consume a good or service with people who are willing to supply it. That’s not a bad thing, in and of itself.

Blaming corporations for global warming is silly because the goods and servies they supply are simply those which people want to buy, and the prices they sell them for are the prices that people are willing to pay. If corporations cut corners, avoid complying with environmental regulations, and pollute the environment without paying for the damage they cause, that’s because the consumers who buy their goods want them to: they send a message to corporations (via the market) that they want to buy these goods as cheaply as possible, which creates incentives for companies to cut costs of production, any way they can.

I’d like to illustrate with some examples from my own life. 100-yen stores are ubiquitous in Japan (where I live), and they sell a wide range of goods at a very cheap price (108 yen, including the 8% sales tax, which is about 86 American cents). There are two items that I regularly buy at these stores: pens (which I use when teaching English to adults) and instant coffee (which I use to keep me awake on long days). 86 cents gets me a packet of 10 black pens. I could buy more expensive ones, but I don’t, because if I bought my pens elsewhere, I’d have to pay 86 cents for just one (or maybe two) pens, which I consider outrageous. I could also buy more expensive coffee, but I don’t want to, as I only drink it to stay awake, not to savor the taste. In short, I’m a self-confessed cheapskate: I’m stingy because that’s the way I save money. In buying pens and instant coffee at the 100-yen store, I’m sending a message to the producers of those goods. What I’m saying, effectively, is: “I don’t care how you go about manufacturing those goods, but I want to buy them for 100 yen, and no more.” Now, I have no idea how these goods are produced, and I have no reason to believe that any unethical practices are involved, but if (hypothetically speaking) some of the producers were engaging in unethical practices, whose fault would that be? Mine, of course. It’s my stinginess that creates the incentives for the producers to cut corners in an unethical fashion and skirt around the law. The real guilty parties are the consumers. Blaming the corporations involved would be childish and short-sighted.

The same logic applies to global warming. Essentially, it occurs because companies don’t want to pay the costs of the environmental damage they cause when they manufacture products. But that’s only because their customers don’t want to pay the costs. when they buy those goods. Customers convey this signal to companies via price elasticity of demand, when even a small increase in the price of a commodity causes consumers to buy a lot less of it, as they flock elsewhere in search of a better bargain. Consumer greed creates an incentive for multinational manufacturing companies to ignore or evade environmental regulations. In the words of a memorable Pogo comic strip on Earth Day, 1971, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

It might be argued that people wouldn’t consume as much as they do, were it not for corporate-sponsored advertising in the mass media, which makes people go out and buy things that they wouldn’t normally want to buy. But this argument fails to address the fundamental question: why do consumers put up with corporate-sponsored advertising on TV, on the Internet, and in the newspapers, in the first place? The answer is that it gives them cheaper access to something they already want: information and entertainment via the mass media. Watching TV, surfing the Internet and reading the newspapers would be a lot more expensive without advertising. Consumers are happy to tolerate advertising, so long as they get something out of it. Finally, quite a lot of people actually enjoy viewing advertisements, and enjoy buying the goods they advertise. To cast consumers as helpless victims here is utterly ridiculous: on the contrary, they are simply exercising their free will.

Consumption by wealthy people, not population growth, is the engine that drives global warming

Ecologists tend to regard population growth as a menace to the future of the planet, and they often cite studies purporting to show that the Earth’s resources are enough to sustain only 2 billion people at a European standard of living. But as journalist and environmental activist George Monbiot points out in an article titled “The Population Myth” (The Guardian, 29 September 2009), the real cause of global warming is not population per se, but increasing human wealth (emphases mine – VJT):

A paper published yesterday in the journal Environment and Urbanization shows that the places where population has been growing fastest are those in which carbon dioxide has been growing most slowly, and vice versa. Between 1980 and 2005, for example, Sub-Saharan Africa produced 18.5% of the world’s population growth and just 2.4% of the growth in CO2. North America turned out 4% of the extra people, but 14% of the extra emissions. Sixty-three per cent of the world’s population growth happened in places with very low emissions(2).

Even this does not capture it. The paper points out that around one sixth of the world’s population is so poor that it produces no significant emissions at all. This is also the group whose growth rate is likely to be highest.

The paper’s author, David Satterthwaite of the International Institute for Environment and Development, points out that the old formula taught to all students of development – that total impact equals population times affluence times technology (I=PAT) – is wrong. Total impact should be measured as I=CAT: consumers times affluence times technology. Many of the world’s people use so little that they wouldn’t figure in this equation. They are the ones who have most children.

While there’s a weak correlation between global warming and population growth, there’s a strong correlation between global warming and wealth.

People breed less as they become richer, but they don’t consume less; they consume more. As the habits of the super-rich show, there are no limits to human extravagance. Consumption can be expected to rise with economic growth until the biosphere hits the buffers…

It’s time we had the guts to name the problem. It’s not sex; it’s money. It’s not the poor; it’s the rich.

And as Fred Pearce, a British Author and environmental consultant who specializes in global population, pointed out in a recent interview with New York Times (May 31, 2015), “The world’s richest half billion people — that’s about 7 percent of the global population — are responsible for half of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the poorest 50 percent of the population are responsible for just 7 percent of emissions.”

The skeptical reader might ask: “Ah, but what about future generations of poor people? Won’t they consume more than the descendants of rich people?” Fred Pearce has addressed this point in an online article entitled, Consumption Dwarfs Population as Main Environmental Threat (Yale Environment 360, 13 April 2009). Pearce cites a study by Paul Murtaugh, a statistician at Oregon State University, who recently calculated the climatic “intergenerational legacy” of today’s children, based on current per-capita emissions and UN fertility projections. Murtagh found that an extra child in the United States today will, down the generations, produce an eventual carbon footprint seven times that of an extra Chinese child, 46 times that of a Pakistan child, 55 times that of an Indian child, and 86 times that of a Nigerian child.

Ultimately, then, spending by affluent consumers who want to buy as many goods as they can, for as little as possible, is what drives global warming. Not capitalism, which is simply an economic system that allows suppliers to meet people’s demands. Not big, greedy corporations, which only avoid paying the environmental cost of emissions because consumers don’t want to pay higher prices. And not overpopulation, which mainly affects countries whose ecological footprint is negligible.

Consumer wealth: it’s not all bad! How wealth can help us combat global warming

When I was a child, I often heard priests fulminating against what they called the affluent society – a phrase originally coined by the economist John Kenneth Galbraith. It’s certainly true that consumption can be wasteful: the average American household, for instance, uses about three times more electricity than the average German household. However, I disagree with the stern moralists who regard the Western lifestyle is something to be ashamed of: after all, it’s what countries around the world aspire to. Surely it’s a good thing for each family to own their own home, own a car, and own a computer and television. Those are not luxuries: they’re a part of our everyday life.

Until the nineteenth century, the vast majority of human beings lived in conditions of appalling poverty. Malnutrition and disease were rampant, and life expectancy was short. Few people owned anything of value. Advances in public sanitation, science and medicine led to a sharp reduction in infant mortality and a rapid increase in human life expectancy in Europe and America, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but these improvements would never have been possible unless an economic system had already been in place, enabling ordinary people to take advantage of them. That system was industrial capitalism, and it is that system which has enabled 600 million people China to escape from poverty since the 1980s. India and Africa will be next. Of course, industrial capitalism did create environmental damage, but for the most part the damage was fairly limited, and on balance, the Industrial Revolution was unquestionably a good thing. It also raised the living standards of ordinary people, especially after the year 1850. Had Europe and America (and later China) industrialized more slowly and in a more eco-friendly manner, infant mortality would not have fallen as quickly as it did, millions more people would have died, and many of us would still be living in poverty now. Who wants that?

It is all very well to knock consumption, but as they say, money makes the world go round, and most of us wouldn’t even have jobs if people didn’t buy a whole lot of things that they don’t really need, but which make their lives more convenient – like fax machines, dishwashers and iPhones.

I might add that if we ever manage to implement a solution to the problem of global warming, then we’ll need a lot of wealth to make it work: about $100 trillion, as I showed above. And I might add that even if people hadn’t consumed so much over the last two centuries, carbon dioxide levels would still have risen to dangerous levels anyway – they’d have just risen more slowly.

To sum up: high consumption may have created the problem of global warming, but it will also solve it.

8. Moral issues raised by global warming

The Nissan Leaf electric car, launched in December 2010. If we have a moral duty to fight global warming, then is it a sin to buy a gasoline-powered car? Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Global warming raises a host of troubling moral issues. First, if it’s a sin, who is it a sin against – God? humanity? future generations? the biosphere? Putting a little extra carbon dioxide into the air hardly seems like an offense against God. And it’s hard to call it a sin against my neighbor, when the effects won’t be felt for generations – which means that it won’t hurt my neighbor, but his (as-yet-unconceived) grand-children. But the notion that we can sin against future, as-yet-unconceived generations of human beings is a deeply problematic one, for how can one sin against that which does not exist? Groucho Marx is said to have remarked, “Why should I care about posterity? What’s posterity ever done for me?” While such an attitude might strike us as curmudgeonly, it is nevertheless true that we have no duty to posterity. What about a duty to the biosphere, then? But the biosphere is not a subject of rights: it’s a system. Perhaps it might be argued that we have a duty to animals, but the only duty recognized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2416) relates to kindness, as opposed to cruelty. It is hard to see how discharging carbon dioxide into the atmosphere can be seen as a cruel act, when the effects are so remote and indirect. Which leaves us with the question: how, then, could global warming ever be a sin? From a theistic standpoint, the most sensible answer is that if God wants future generations of people to live on a habitable planet, then we sin against God by defying His wishes when we engage in actions that render the Earth uninhabitable.

Second, how big a sin is global warming? What distinguishes a mortal environmental sin from a venial one? I’m not being facetious here: it’s a serious question. For instance, if the CEO of a large company decides that his/her company should continue burning coal because it’s cheaper, then is that a mortal sin? And would it still be a sin if the alternatives were twice or even five times as expensive? On the domestic level, is buying a gasoline-fueled car a mortal sin, when one could buy a hybrid which is twice as expensive, or alternatively, use public transport and/or car-pooling in order to get around?

Allow me to illustrate with a personal example. A friend of mine, an English teacher who works in Japan, flies back to the U.K. several times a year to visit his family there. One round trip from Narita to Heathrow generates about three tonnes of carbon dioxide per person. The average European generates about 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, so four return flights a year would be equivalent to one year’s worth of emissions. So, is my friend sinning in visiting his family in Britain? And if so, is he sinning mortally or venially? You tell me.

What cases like this show is that moral theologians will need to create a whole new field, if the Church is to start taking global warming seriously: the field of carbon casuistry. (I’m sure that’s what people will call it.) You’ll have to set up Websites designed to answer online questions like this, from troubled Catholics who come to you for advice. It’s not going to be easy.

Third, if global warming is a sin, then at what point in history did it become a sin? Surely not before 1980 – for it wasn’t until then that a scientific consensus began to emerge that it was taking place. However, much if not most of the global warming since the 1980s has been caused by the industrialization of China, which lifted 600 million people out of poverty. Was that a bad thing? And what about India in the 21st century? Doesn’t it have a right to industrialize too? India’s Prime Minister, Mr. Modi, certainly thinks so – and who can blame him? India’s per capita carbon dioxide emissions are 1.666 tonnes, while America’s per capita carbon emissions are over ten times higher, at 17.564 tonnes. Do we really have a right to preach?

Fourth, if global warming is (as we have seen) primarily caused by affluent consumption, then what exactly what are we supposed to give up? Should we give up owning cars and switch to public transport and/or car pooling? For most U.S. households, the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions comes from driving, followed by housing and food. And speaking of food, vegetarians and fish-eaters have a carbon footprint about half that of high meat-eaters. Should we all give up meat, then?

Fifth, it might be asked: how can we possibly have a moral duty to fight global warming, when the cost of doing so is admitted by some senior scientists to be incalculable? If we had such a duty, then that would imply that we have an unlimited obligation. Perhaps, though, one could reply that at least we have a ballpark figure – around $100 trillion, which (if you divide it by the 5 billion wealthy and middle-income people on the planet), works out at about $20,000 per person. That’s still finite.

Finally, if global warming is a problem we urgently need to fight right now, then someone might argue that parents in affluent and rising middle-income countries – but not poor countries – who choose to have large families are sinning, as they’re substantially adding to humanity’s carbon footprint, by procreating new generations of children who will make our way of life even more unsustainable than it already is. Shouldn’t these parents limit themselves (and their children) to having small families for the next 50 years, until the human race has finally put a halt to global warming? Such a conclusion, however, runs totally counter to centuries of Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish tradition, which views large families as a blessing, rather than a curse.

I wish I had an answer to that last question, but I don’t. As a Christian, I can only assume that the underlying premise – that we have to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero within 50 years, as the IPCC says – must be false, after all.

9. Bad theological arguments for combating climate change

“The Garden of Eden” by Lucas Cranach the Elder. 16th century. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Recently, certain Catholic spokesmen have asserted that humanity is guilty of disobeying God by ignoring His original command to “tend and keep” the Garden of Eden, after He placed our first parents there. This assertion is factually wrong, on three counts.

First, human beings were only told to “tend and keep” the Garden of Eden, not the Earth (Genesis 2:15).

Second, humans were not told to “tend and keep” the Earth, but to “subdue” and “have dominion over” it (Genesis 1:28). That’s much stronger language than “tend and keep.” The term “subdue” actually denotes “subjugation to power,” according to the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges and the Hebrew term “kabash” is elsewhere translated in the Bible as “assault,” “brought them into subjection,” “forced into bondage,” “forcing,” “subdue,” “subdued,” “subjugate,” “trample,” and “tread under foot” (Strong”s Concordance, entry #3533) while the term “dominion” refers to “the dominating rule of a king” (see also here). The language of Genesis 9:2 is even more explicit: in this passage, God tells Noah and his family that “the fear and dread of you” will fall upon every living creature. The only reasonable conclusion we can draw from Scripture is that while the Earth itself belongs to God (Psalm 24:1), humans exercise lordship over it, governing in God’s place.

Third and finally, human beings were kicked out of the Garden of Eden after the Fall (Genesis 3:23-24), so the command to “tend and keep” the Garden no longer applies to them.

Some Christians maintain that God intended man to be a shepherd of the Earth and its creatures. But shepherds don’t have the authority to “subjugate” their sheep, let alone kill them for food; rather, their job is to tend the sheep, and if necessary, even lay down their life to protect those sheep. And shepherds certainly have no license to clear their master’s land, to set up farms and build cities on it. If you believe that human beings have the moral right to engage in agriculture, meat-eating and town planning, then you have to regard humans as more than just shepherds; you really do have to view them as the lords of creation.

On the other hand, the teaching, recently reiterated by Pope Francis, that human beings are bound to respect God’s creation is an authentic tradition of the Church. After all, the Earth belongs to God. What that means is that we may not destroy God’s creation in a wanton fashion, or show reckless disregard for the lives of God’s creatures. However, as the lords of creation, we do have the authority to engage in acts which result in unintended environmental harm, if there is a proportionate reason for doing so. I would argue that the fight against Third World poverty is one such reason: no matter what happens, we must eliminate hunger, malnutrition and disease.

Summary

I would like to conclude by citing a favorite saying of the Roman Emperor Augustus: “Festina lente” – or as we might say, “More haste, less speed.” If we rush head-long into the fight against global warming, we’ll probably make a lot of poor decisions, which will prove very costly. And if we engage in rosy, optimistic thinking about the solutions, we may end up going down numerous blind alleys before we realize, too late, that the solution was staring us in the face all along. I have argued that the appropriate thing for the human race to do at this point is to assist Third World countries to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and to industrialize, while relying on proven technologies (especially nuclear energy) for combating global warming. If we all agree to do that, then we can solve the problem, in a financially and ecologically responsible fashion. But magical thinking will get us nowhere.

 

315 Replies to “Straight talk about global warming: an open letter to the Catholic clergy

  1. 1
    Zachriel says:

    vjtorley: The cost of fighting global warming will be astronomical: $44 trillion on a very optimistic estimate,

    That’s $44 trillion over decades, so the cost will be $1-$2 trillion per year in a global economy of nearly $90 trillion (PPP) and growing. Assuming just 2.5% growth, the world will produce about $4000 trillion (PPP) over the next thirty years, so $44 trillion would be about 1% of that production. Furthermore, there are substantial costs, economic and social, of inaction. Adaptation may cost hundreds of trillions, and some loses will be unrecoverable.

    vjtorley: but more realistically, at least $100 trillion,

    The scenario described is not realistic. Nearly everyone who has studied the issue believe it will take several decades to revamp the energy system. The key is that the sooner action is taken, the less expensive it will be, and the less damage to the climate.

    vjtorley: Dr. Sivaram identifies three key differences between advances in computer chip technology and advances in solar energy

    Unlike Moore’s Law, cost is a descending curve.
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/71/Price_history_of_silicon_PV_cells_since_1977.svg

    vjtorley: “All we can do is speculate. We don’t really know the costs. We don’t really know the benefits.”

    That’s true. A measured approach would allow for the development and implementation of new technologies, which could reduce the costs considerably.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    Since the premise is false, everything you’ve written is false.

    The carbon hypothesis is false. What we have for sure is a period of bad weather, which strongly resembles other periods in human history. We need to adapt to the bad weather, just as humans have done before.

    FDR adapted our infrastructure to a new set of bad weather without assuming any idiotic pseudo-religious reasons for the bad weather. We should follow FDR instead of wasting trillions to propitiate Gaia.

  3. 3
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    Thank you for your comments. Briefly:

    (1) The cost of solar PV cells may be falling steeply, but as I explained in my article, that’s not the limiting factor with solar energy. It wouldn’t matter if PV cells were free: solar energy would still be a bad idea, due to its low EROEI, its inability to be scaled up, and the environmental damage it causes.

    (2) The $100 trillion figure was taken from an estimate provided by Professor Mark Jacobson. You are right in saying that it will take several decades, but if the cost is $2 trillion a year, and if that’s borne by countries whose GDP per capita places them in the top two-thirds of the world – in other words, countries whose combined GDP is $50 trillion per annum – than that’s 4% of their annual GDP. You argue that we won’t need to worry if the world economy keeps growing at 2.5% per annum. But my point was that we don’t know whether the world will be able to keep growing at such a high rate, when it has to incur such costs – and at the same time implement the UN Millennium development Goals, pay for everyone’s pensions in an aging society (living in Japan, I know all about that time-bomb), avoid a military showdown between the U.S. and China, prevent the Middle East from erupting into all-out war, and avoid a pandemic (which Bill Gates says could wipe out 33 million people). We’ve got too many balls to juggle, and it would be naive to assume we can do all these things and keep on growing at 2.5% per annum. We just don’t know.

    Look, I’m old enough to remember the 0.7% target from the 1970s, where a few countries pledged to commit 0.7% of their GDP to Official development Assistance. As I recall, only a few countries back then were able to meet that target, and most of those countries were in Scandinavia. If we can’t even manage to give away 0.7% of our GDP, what makes you think we’ll be able to set aside 4% to the task of fighting global warming?

    (3) You correctly point out the cost of inaction. But if you’re going to act, you need a plan. What’s your plan?

  4. 4
    vjtorley says:

    Hi polistra,

    Thank you for your comments. You put down the temperature rises in recent decades to “bad weather,” but what’s causing the bad weather? You need to come up with a plausible alternative hypothesis, if you’re going to dispute the reality of man-made global warming.

  5. 5
    asauber says:

    “You need to come up with a plausible alternative hypothesis, if you’re going to dispute the reality of man-made global warming.”

    This is a joke. The people who claim AGW need to demonstrate conclusively that it actually exists. That’s the way science works.

    Andrew

  6. 6
    News says:

    I think it is good that someone is trying to come up with the real costs of whatever people say we must DOOOO!! NOWWW!!

    Usually a recipe for disaster except for a few profiteers . Solyndra, anyone?

    Oh, and tinpot dictators just love that sort of thing because they can regulate vast new classes of activities without dumping any old ones – and it doesn’t matter if they fail. There are no costs to the bureaucracy for failure.

    That said, I don’t know if AGW is real. But I live in a part of the world where nature is ever the enemy, not man. You would never know AGW was true from the last few winters where I live (Ottawa), but things may be different in Beijing or Cairo.

    How would I know? I mistrust all claims from activists because they have so much to gain from fronting the acrockalypse. Anyone remember the Population Bomb?

    That said:,

    1. Most sovereign countries will just walk away from politically inconvenient commitments.

    2. The people who suffer most will be those with the most to lose.

    After all, any urban layabout or twit can be “concerned” about the environment. It’s different to watch your job up north go down the drain because of that twit’s “concern.”

    That should have implications for the Church but in this climate of opinion, I bet it won’t.

    I liked Bjorn Lomborg’s talk at the world science journalists’ conference in 2004, as he raised the question of real costs and benefits.

    And Chicken Little was out of the office for once.

  7. 7
    daveS says:

    You would never know AGW was true from the last few winters where I live (Ottawa), but things may be different in Beijing or Cairo.

    Or even western Canada.

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    1. Most sovereign countries will just walk away from politically inconvenient commitments.

    This is why we need a world government.

    Representation should be determined by population.

    Talk about a population bomb.

    The US might even begin to welcome illegal immigrants.

  9. 9
    StephenB says:

    As stewards of the environment, Christians are obligated to be concerned about pollution. There is no question about it. However, the science is not, in any way, settled on this matter. In my judgment, Pope Francis should not be lending his name to this UN-inspired political initiative and Catholics should be wary of it. More likely, global elitists are trying to use “climate change” as a means of getting more money, gaining more power, compromising personal freedom and, sad to say, eliminating people from the planet.

    In fact, 680 of the world’s leading scientists, economists and policy analysts met recently in New York City at the second Heartland International Conference. The title of the conference reflected their doubts: “Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crisis? According to the theme of the conference, scientists worldwide do not agree that global warming is human induced nor do they even agree that the Earth is still warming.

    Indeed, I have a few questions of my own: Where is the scientific evidence that human activity is the major driving force of these alleged changes? Why has CO2 suddenly become a mortal danger? Could it be that global warming alarmists are taking advantage of the fact that the average person doesn’t even know the difference between carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide?

    Where are the indicators that the weather has changed significantly in the last 100 years? Why is there no increase in the number or severity of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or droughts? What are we to make of the recent “pause” in global warming, which contradicts predictions made by the overly trusted warming “models” which are almost never accurate predictors of future events?

    As a Catholic, this is the first time in my life that I have dreaded the prospect of a Papal Encyclical. It would be wonderful if this pope presented some really good arguments to support the claims that are being made, but I find no evidence that he has even considered the alternative point of view. I agree with Einstein, who said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” That kind of thinking will save us all a lot of grief.

  10. 10
    daveS says:

    StephenB,

    Could it be that global warming alarmists are taking advantage of the fact that the average person doesn’t even know the difference between carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide?

    That seems very far-fetched to me.

    Even if I didn’t know there was a difference, it would be impossible for me to confuse the issue of gradual warming over many years with asphyxiation, which is what most of us associate CO with.

  11. 11
    bFast says:

    Dr. Torley,
    Well spoken as always.
    However, the cavalry is coming.
    http://www.e-catworld.com/
    The list of top scientists that have replicated the LENR (cold fusion) phenomenon is far too long to ignore. This technology will make it out of the door in a year or two. When it does, the entire picture will change drastically.

  12. 12
    Zachriel says:

    vjtorley: Ridley goes on to say that his skepticism was reinforced by the demolition of Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph by Canadians statisticians Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, which was subsequently confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.

    No. The National Academy of Sciences National Research Council: “The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence”
    http://books.nap.edu/openbook......38;page=R1

    As for climate sensitivity, a value of 2-4°C is supported by a variety of empirical evidence, including observations of the effect of volcanoes, paleoclimatic studies, and energy budget measurements.

    vjtorley: It wouldn’t matter if PV cells were free: solar energy would still be a bad idea, due to its low EROEI, its inability to be scaled up, and the environmental damage it causes.

    The EROEI of photovoltaic is increasing rapidly. Solar collection doesn’t have to be concentrated, but can be easily dispersed. The environmental damage can be mitigated.

    vjtorley: (2) The $100 trillion figure was taken from an estimate provided by Professor Mark Jacobson.

    Most analysts have reached a lower cost estimate, and costs will depend on the development of new technology. A lot of the work will be done as old energy plants end their lifecycles and have to be replaced anyway.

    vjtorley: But if you’re going to act, you need a plan.

    Place the cost of carbon emissions on the producers, such as through a carbon tax. Markets will then be incentivized to develop new technologies and methods to reduce their costs.

    vjtorley: We’ve got too many balls to juggle, and it would be naive to assume we can do all these things and keep on growing at 2.5% per annum. We just don’t know.

    We have a great confidence in the ingenuity of humans. After all, they build the energy infrastructure. They can certainly revamp it.

  13. 13
    ppolish says:

    “Global Warming” might come in handy?
    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4645248

  14. 14
    Zachriel says:

    bFast: However, the cavalry is coming. http://www.e-catworld.com/

    From the website:

    The inner workings of the reactor are covered by a trade secret which Rossi consistently refuses to discuss… the core effect is caused by some undisclosed mechanism.

  15. 15
    StephenB says:

    daveS

    Even if I didn’t know there was a difference, it would be impossible for me to confuse the issue of gradual warming over many years with asphyxiation, which is what most of us associate CO with.

    That’s not the way the scientists at NASA look at it.

    “Understanding Carbon Monoxide as Pollutant and as Agent of Climate Change.”

    —By Drew Shindell

  16. 16
    wd400 says:

    Indeed, StephenB, NASA scientists know that CO emissions influence warming?

    How does that relate to your (frankly bizarre) claim that “warming alarmists [might be] taking advantage of the fact that the average person doesn’t even know the difference between carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide”?

  17. 17
    Zachriel says:

    Carbon monoxide (CO) is only a very weak direct greenhouse gas, but …
    http://www.ghgonline.org/otherco.htm

  18. 18
    Mapou says:

    Re: the future of energy production and transportation.

    One day soon, we will discover that we are moving in an immense 4D lattice of energetic particles. This lattice is not only responsible for phenomena like gravity and electromagnetism, ordinary motion would be impossible without it.

    Contrary to common wisdom, Newton never showed that it takes no energy/force to maintain inertial motion. He only showed that it takes energy to maintain acceleration. But as Aristotle surmised thousands of years ago, every effect has a cause, including inertial motion. Newton understood this but he eventually gave up trying to find the cause of motion and ascribed it to God. Here’s what he wrote about it in Optiks:

    The vis inertiae [i.e., inertia] is a passive principle by which bodies persist in their motion or rest, receive motion in proportion to the force impressing it, and resist as much as they are resisted. By this principle alone there never could be any motion in the world. Some other principle was necessary for putting bodies in motion; and now they are in motion, some other principle is necessary for conserving motion.

    All of our energy production and transportation problems will disappear once we figure out how to tap into the lattice. The trick is to understand the composition of the lattice and how it interacts with normal matter. I realize this sounds weird even coming from me. I’m just saying. Take it or leave it.

    The universe is stranger than we suppose. Interested readers can find out more by reading Physics: The Problem with Motion. You don’t understand motion even if you think you do.

  19. 19
    daveS says:

    StephenB,

    That’s not the way the scientists at NASA look at it.

    “Understanding Carbon Monoxide as Pollutant and as Agent of Climate Change.”

    —By Drew Shindell

    Thanks, I didn’t realize that CO also plays a role in climate change.

    Looking at that report, I don’t see any evidence that these scientists are trying to take advantage of public confusion between CO and CO2. Should they have worded it differently? What can they do?

  20. 20
    Barry Arrington says:

    Dr. Torley, the phrase “tour de force” is overused, but it is entirely appropriate here. Thank you very much for the long hours of work you put in on this impressive piece.

  21. 21
    StephenB says:

    daveS

    Looking at that report, I don’t see any evidence that these scientists are trying to take advantage of public confusion between CO and CO2.

    I didn’t allude to that report as evidence that scientists are trying to take advantage of public confusion, but rather to show that the fear of carbon monoxide is not associated primarily or exclusively with “asphyxiation,” which was your specific claim.

  22. 22
    wd400 says:

    So…. you think climate scientists are trying to trick people into thinking CO_2 has the warming effects of a much weaker greenhouse gas? Or you’re just making it up as you go along?

  23. 23
    mike1962 says:

    TL/DR

  24. 24
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    Re the National Academy of Sciences’ position on the hockey stick, here’s what they say (bolding mine):

    It can be said with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries. This statement is justified by the consistency of the evidence from a wide variety of geographically diverse proxies.

    Less confidence can be placed in large-scale surface temperature reconstructions for the period from A.D. 900 to 1600. Presently available proxy evidence indicates that temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since A.D. 900. The uncertainties associated with reconstructing hemispheric mean or global mean temperatures from these data increase substantially backward in time through this period and are not yet fully quantified.

    Very little confidence can be assigned to statements concerning the hemispheric mean or global mean surface temperature prior to about A.D. 900 because of sparse data coverage and because the uncertainties associated with proxy data and the methods used to analyze and combine them are larger than during more recent time periods.

    Source: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.ph.....038;page=3

    I’d hardly call that a ringing endorsement of Mann. Would you?

    But if you want to take a “big picture” view of temperature fluctuations during the Holocene, I suggest you have a look at this graph:

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png#/media/File:Holocene_Temperature_Variations.png

    I don’t doubt that man-made global warming is real. But to date, it’s been relatively mild.

    Re climate sensitivity, the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment report says that “there is high confidence that ECS is extremely unlikely less than 1°C and medium confidence that the ECS is likely between 1.5°C and 4.5°C and very unlikely greater than 6°C.” What impresses me most about these figures is that the upper and lower bounds (1.5 and 4.5 degrees) haven’t changed since 1979:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_sensitivity#Consensus_estimates

    You write that the EROEI of solar photovoltaic cells is increasing. I’d appreciate some references, please.

    Finally, I don’t doubt human ingenuity. But ingenuity alone won’t get us out of this mess. Human beings are not always rational, and a host of political factors make it very unlikely that we can carry through with a $100 trillion plan over the next 50 years. Given the crises we’re facing, it’s fairly certain that something will derail us. (And by the way, if you believe the cost will be lower than that, could you please nominate what figure you favor, and why?)

  25. 25
    Mapou says:

    It is becoming clear to me that the global warming scare is just a side effect of a looming economic problem. Automation and AI are threatening to bring our economic systems to their knees. The best that the powers that be could come up with to keep people employed and happy, is AGW. It’s a pathetic solution and it will blow up in their faces. Nobody can fix a lie (free market) with another lie (AGW).

  26. 26
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Barry Arrington and News,

    Thank you both for your kind comments. I just hope that the post I have written triggers some intelligent discussion of the issues involved, especially within the Catholic Church.

  27. 27
    StephenB says:

    wd400

    So…. you think climate scientists are trying to trick people into thinking CO_2 has the warming effects of a much weaker greenhouse gas?

    No, I meant exactly what I said, no more, no less. It was expressed as a rhetorical question, not as a statement of fact or an argument based on empirical evidence. I wonder if many “climate scientists” are not overusing the word “carbon monoxide” for effect and I have good reason to suspect that many of them are political hacks. You are free to agree or disagree with my suspicions.

    On the other hand, I also asked a series of serious questions and challenges which were not rhetorical at all: Can the science of global warming be “settled” if so many scientists are willing to deny it even when it may cost them? Where is the proof that human behavior is the main cause of the alleged changes? Why is there no marked increase in the number or severity of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or droughts? What are we to make of the recent “pause” in global warming?

    Do you have an answer for any of these challenges, which are, indeed, based on fact and are not expressed as mere opinions or suspicions?

  28. 28
    Zachriel says:

    vjtorley: I’d hardly call that a ringing endorsement of Mann. Would you?

    It doesn’t say what you said it did. They said the basic conclusion of Mann “has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence”. Its demolishment wasn’t confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences; in fact, the contrary was found.

    vjtorley: But if you want to take a “big picture” view of temperature fluctuations during the Holocene, I suggest you have a look at this graph: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png#/media/File:Holocene_Temperature_Variations.png

    Sure. Pay special note of the source for the blue, green, and yellow lines.

    vjtorley: I don’t doubt that man-made global warming is real. But to date, it’s been relatively mild.

    Current warming isn’t the problem, but projected warming.

    vjtorley: What impresses me most about these figures is that the upper and lower bounds (1.5 and 4.5 degrees) haven’t changed since 1979

    Similar sensitivity was calculated a century ago. The basic equations are straightforward. The complexity lies in how the heat is redistributed through the climate system.

    vjtorley: You write that the EROEI of solar photovoltaic cells is increasing.

    See Raugei et al., The Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROI) of Photovoltaics: Methodology and Comparisons with Fossil Fuel Life Cycles, Energy Policy 2012. Or for a more general look, see this from the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

    “How Long Does it Take for Photovoltaics
    To Produce the Energy Used? … with expected life times of 30 years, their ERRs are in the range of 60:1 to 15:1, depending on the location and the technology, thus returning 15 to 60 times more energy than the energy they use.”
    http://www.bnl.gov/pv/files/pd....._10_12.pdf

    vjtorley: But ingenuity alone won’t get us out of this mess. Human beings are not always rational, and a host of political factors make it very unlikely that we can carry through with a $100 trillion plan over the next 50 years.

    You keep using $100 trillion based on an unrealistic scenario. The IEA estimates the cost as $44 trillion over forty years, or about 1% of global GDP. As power plants cycle out every 30 years or so, and as cars cycle out every 10 years or so, much of the changeover will happen through the course of modernization. But continuing to build dirty plants will simply make the environmental problem worse and the eventual cleanup more expensive.

    StephenB: Can the science of global warming be “settled” if so many scientists are willing to deny it even when it may cost them?

    The term “settled” is not the best term as all science is considered tentative. But anthropogenic global warming is strongly supported. There will always be contrarians, while the vast majority of the climate science community has moved on to the question of the climatic and environmental and economic effects of global warming.

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    In rereading my previous comments, I am fearful that I may have committed the sin of rash judgment. Earlier, I indicated that I dread the prospect of this Papal Encyclical and I implied that the Pope may not be weighing both sides of the argument on Global warming.

    This was inexcusable. While I have good reason to doubt the judgment of some of his advisers, I have no good reason to think that the Holy Father’s commitment of the truth will not overcome those circumstances. I would, therefore, like to apologize to my readers and to the Holy Father himself. I will try to do better.

  30. 30
    Mung says:

    Say three hail Mary’s five Our Father’s and buy a beer for a complete stranger.

  31. 31
    Mapou says:

    Given the preponderance of Catholic posters and commenters on UD, what I am about to say will likely offend. But I always tell it like I see it.

    Seeing that all the world’s leaders pay homage to the Church of Rome, I would not be in the least bit surprised to learn that the Holy See has been in on the AGW scam/lie from day one. They have danced around the issue for years without truly committing to a position, just as they have done around the issue of evolution.

    Rumors and accusations of child abuse in the Church have been around for centuries and yet no western government has ever done anything substantive about it until they could no longer control the outcry (the internet can be a pain in the arse, at times). Calling it collusion would not do it justice. One man’s opinion, of course.

  32. 32
    evnfrdrcksn says:

    @9 Are monkeys burning coal? Are insects drilling for oil? What part of this doesn’t make sense to you? We are all sitting on a ticking time bomb of a world that was not made for us. What don’t you understand? People like you endanger us all. So shut your mouth and do some actual research.

  33. 33
    evnfrdrcksn says:

    “Where are the indicators that the weather has changed significantly in the last 100 years? Why is there no increase in the number or severity of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or droughts? What are we to make of the recent “pause” in global warming, which contradicts predictions made by the overly trusted warming “models” which are almost never accurate predictors of future events?”

    Look it up yourself. It’s all there. If you have physical restraints, there are a number of organizations that can help you.

    (I’m clearly making fun of Barry…hope that’s clear.)

  34. 34
    evnfrdrcksn says:

    @18 Thanks, Mapou, for allowing me to add you to the list of posters I can scroll right over. I thought i should for awhile, but that one did it.

  35. 35
    evnfrdrcksn says:

    @24 To quote Tina Fey…”What the WHAT?”
    That paper confirmed that the earth has warmed more in the past 25 years than during 900-1600 or whatever.

    “temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since A.D. 900”.

    Hello? Reading comprehension, anyone? Beuller? Beuller?

  36. 36
    Mung says:

    evnfrdrcksn, I take it your application to TSZ was rejected. Shame.

  37. 37
    Mapou says:

    evnfrdrcksn @34,

    Bored a little? How’s the weather in bicycle paradise?

  38. 38
    Andre says:

    I have to ask again. How does 7 000 000 000 people have any influence over the 27 000 000C ball of fire who’s activity IS the direct influence to our climate?

  39. 39
    Mung says:

    Sun worshippers?

  40. 40
    Andre says:

    Manmade global warming is a scam just like Y2K was…….

  41. 41
    goodusername says:

    I have to ask again. How does 7 000 000 000 people have any influence over the 27 000 000C ball of fire who’s activity IS the direct influence to our climate?

    You probably won’t get an answer since I doubt anyone has such a strange notion.

  42. 42
    Zachriel says:

    Andre: How does 7 000 000 000 people have any influence over the 27 000 000C ball of fire who’s activity IS the direct influence to our climate?

    Because the greenhouse effect helps determine the surface temperature of the Earth, and humans are changing the composition of the Earth’s atmospheric greenhouse gases.

  43. 43
    daveS says:

    Andre:

    Andre: How does 7 000 000 000 people have any influence over the 27 000 000C ball of fire who’s activity IS the direct influence to our climate?

    Zachriel: Because the greenhouse effect helps determine the surface temperature of the Earth, and humans are changing the composition of the Earth’s atmospheric greenhouse gases.

    Do you think actual greenhouses work by influencing the sun somehow?

  44. 44
    Virgil Cain says:

    The 19th century saw an end to the little ice age. That means the earth has been getting warmer, thankfully. A warm earth is better than a cold earth.

    An Estimate of The Centennial Variability of Global Temperatures:

    “There has been widespread investigation of the drivers of changes in global temperatures. However, there has been remarkably little consideration of the magnitude of the changes to be expected over a period of a few decades or even a century. To address this question, the Holocene records from several ice cores up to 8000 years before present were examined. The differences in temperatures between all records which are approximately a century apart were determined, after any trends in the data had been removed. The differences were close to normally distributed. The average standard deviation of temperature over a century was 0.98 ± 0.27 oC.

    This suggests that while some portion of the temperature change observed in the 20th century was probably caused by greenhouse gases, there is a strong likelihood that the major portion was due to natural variations. “

    Thanks to CO2 the earth is greener now than back in the 19th century. Greener is better, too.

    Water vapor is by far the dominant greenhouse gas. And soot on snow causes it to melt even when the ambient temperature is below freezing.

  45. 45
    daveS says:

    PS to my post at #43: A poor question since the greenhouse effect is not what heats greenhouses. Still, it seems Andre is implying that the only possible explanation for GW would be change to the sun itself.

  46. 46
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    Thank you for your post. You cited a paper by Vasilis Fthenakis, which claims that the Energy Rate of Return (or EROEI) of solar photovoltaics is now in the range of 15:1 to 60:1. I am afraid that you have been badly misinformed. You really should read Graham Palmer’s article, Energy in Australia (a precis of his 2014 book), which demolishes these figures:

    …[I]f we take the commonly quoted EROI figures from authoritative sources of 15 to 60 for solar PV – and increasing (eg. Fthenakis 2012) – one could easily conclude that the net-energy available from PV is superior to current oil production…

    …The curious thing is that the literature on PV life-cycle analyses seems to readily accept these high numbers without questioning what these figures really mean…

    It is only recently that more rigour has been applied to trying to understand the figures, leading to Prieto and Hall’s (2013) examination of large-scale deployment of PV in Spain through 2009 and 2010. Coincidentally, I was researching a paper on PV, which was published in Sustainability Journal and BNC shortly afterwards (Palmer 2013). Both of us came to similar conclusions on EROI (between 2 and 3), which is significantly less than commonly quoted figures, and below the critical minimum EROI required for society (Hall et al 2009). This led to an email exchange with energy and solar researchers, and the writing of this book (Palmer 2014) for the SpringerBriefs series.

    The article contains relevant links, which you are welcome to check out.

  47. 47
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    Back again. You might also like to have a look at Professor John Morgan’s review of Palmer’s 2014 book, Energy in Australia, which makes the additional point that “adding storage to solar PV reduces the EROEI, to just above 2. This is not enough net energy to be a viable energy source.”

    Regarding temperature variations during the Holocene, I directed you to a graph here, which readers are welcome to have a look at. You then suggested I check out where the blue, green and yellow lines come from – ice cores, as it turns out. I’m not sure what your point is, here. In any case, I was looking at the black line, which shows temperatures gradually falling from a peak around 8,000 years ago, sharply rising from around 150 years ago onwards, but still below their peak level, 8,000 years ago. I should add that the sharp temperature rise during the last 150 years isn’t the only one; there seem to have been others around 5,000, 6,000 and 7,000 years ago. The conclusion I draw is that the global warming we have experienced so far isn’t anything to worry about.

    You correctly point out that what matters is future warming. I agree. However, the currently observed rate of warming (0.11 degrees Celsius per decade, or thereabouts) is no cause for immediate panic. It suggests that we may not have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2070, after all: perhaps 2100 is a more realistic date.

  48. 48
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    Finally, you appear to favor the IEA’s estimate of $44 trillion for the total cost of putting a halt to global warming. But as I pointed out in my post, the $44 trillion figure would still represent 2% of the annual GDP of rich and middle-income countries, and it would over a 40-year period. What’s more, according to an IPCC report, the figure could more than double if carbon capture and storage technology doesn’t work in the way that the authors of the IEA report hoped it would. Finally, the IEA figure assumes co-ordinated action by the countries of the world, which strikes me as a trifle optimistic, to say the least.

    Cost over-run is a problem which plagues large-scale projects – especially when the steps that need to be taken to reach the goal are not clearly laid out. Personality conflicts can also lead to a tug-of-war over resources, fueling over-spending. I vividly recall the case of the Sydney Opera House, which was finally completed in 1973 (when I was 12), ten years late and 1,457% over budget in real terms. Who’s to say the same thing won’t happen with a political football, like the project to halt global warming? Too may cooks spoil the broth, as they say.

  49. 49
    55rebel says:

    Amazing how our human activity (CO production) has caused global warming on all the other planets in our solar system, as well.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.....rming.html

    It is indeed a fact, that we are raping this planet non-stop, and polluting it in the process, but this AGW via CO output, is nothing but a Crock. The problem… besides the sun, is the fact that they are intentionally screwing with our climate, via chemtrails & HAARP. Also, rapid deforestation of the Amazon isn’t helping matters any.

    I kinda doubt that the following scenario[?], is going to be anthropologically caused.

    “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat…”

    Indirectly maybe, due to mans rebellion against the Almighty, but not directly. And the simple fact, that He said it was going to happen.

  50. 50
    daveS says:

    chemtrails & HAARP

    *cough*

  51. 51
    Charles says:

    Dr. Torley:

    Until now, I have assumed that the IPCC’s global warming predictions for the 21st century are reliable and accurately represent the state of current scientific knowledge.

    This would be the same discredited IPCC that “predicted” the Himalayan glaciers would “disappear by 2035” based on an unvetted science reporter’s 1999 article later promulgated in 2005 by the World Wildlife Fund. One of the IPCC’s more epic fails, but illustrative nonethless of its “methodology”.

    But while it’s true that the vast majority of climatologists would agree that global warming is real and largely man-made,…

    “vast majority of which climatologists”??? Would that be the also discredited “Consensus: 97% of climate scientists”? As opposed to, say, physicists of whom the American Physical Society’s members recently rejected the formerly “incontrovertible” climate science? Considering the vast majority of climatologists are afraid to publically oppose the issue for fear of losing their grants and careers, it is actually a minority of climatologists who in turn represent a mere fraction of all scientists; the reality is the majority of scientists disagree that global warming is either real or manmade.

    So far, the models tend to support the alarmists – but if we look st the actual temperature data of the last 40 years, it tends to support the lukewarmers.

    The actual changes in temperature data, i.e. the measurements versus the myriad of failed models and predictions of both alarmists and lukewarmers as measured since 1975 is statistically insignificant.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/20.....ear-means/

    Global mean surface temperature change from 1880 to 2014, relative to the 1951-1980 mean. The black line is the annual mean and the red line is the 5-year running mean. The green bars show uncertainty estimates. Source: NASA GISS. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

    The NASA GISS dataset is managed by James Hansen who is one of the more extreme alarmists and a “Hockey Stick” advocate, and his data set is known to be anomalously high when compared to other datasets, and it extrapolates (i.e. “models”) what temperatures “should be” if measured the way Hansen et.al. believe they should be measured, and the data set is frequently readjusted (invariably warmer) by them.

    GISS “data” are not raw temperture measurements. Like all the other climate model datasets, it is just one more in an unending series of adjusted tempertures (i.e. what the climate models say the temperatures should be). Neither Hansen nor his GISS data are credible.

    Pointing out the futility of man-managed global climate is laudable, but “global warming”, per se, is the scientifically unproven premise.

  52. 52
    55rebel says:

    source: http://realplanet.eu/error.htm

    Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics

    by Dipl.-Ing. Heinz Thieme

    Deutsche Version siehe: http://real-planet.eu/treibhauseffekt.htm

    The relationship between so-called greenhouse gases and atmospheric temperature is not yet well understood. So far, climatologists have hardly participated in serious scientific discussion of the basic energetic mechanisms of the atmosphere. Some of them, however, appear to be starting to realise that their greenhouse paradigm is fundamentally flawed, and already preparing to withdraw their theories about the climatic effects of CO2 and other trace gases.

    At present, the climatological profession is chiefly engaged in promoting the restriction of CO2 emissions as a means of limiting atmospheric warming. But at the same time, they admit that the greenhouse effect – i.e. the influence of so-called greenhouse gases on near-surface temperature – is not yet absolutely proven (Grassl et al., see: http–www.dmg-ev.de-gesellschaft-aktivitaeten-pdf-treibhauseffekt.pdf ). In other words, there is as yet no incontrovertible proof either of the greenhouse effect, or its connection with alleged global warming.

    This is no surprise, because in fact there is no such thing as the greenhouse effect: it is an impossibility. The statement that so-called greenhouse gases, especially CO2, contribute to near-surface atmospheric warming is in glaring contradiction to well-known physical laws relating to gas and vapour, as well as to general caloric theory.

    The greenhouse theory proposed by the climatological fraternity runs as follows: Outgoing infra-red radiation from the earth’s surface is somehow re-radiated by molecules of CO2 (mainly) and also O3, NO2, CH4 in the atmosphere. This backradiation produces warming of the lower atmosphere. To convince the public of the greenhouse effect, composites of temperature measurements since the 19th century are exhibited that show a certain warming. Measurements of the CO2 content of the air also show a rise in recent decades (Note CO2). Climatologists then claim that the CO2 rise has caused the temperature rise (see: http://earth.agu.org/eos_elec/99148e.html).

    A second source of misconceptions about the relation between temperature and the CO2 content of air arises from an erroneous explanation of conditions on the planet Venus. The Venutian atmosphere is 95% CO2, and its near-surface temperature is approximately 460oC (see also: http://www.uni-erlangen.de/doc.....klima1.htm ). What climatologists overlook is that atmospheric pressure at the surface of Venus is 90 bar, and that it is this colossal pressure that determines the temperature.

    Strict application of physical laws admits no possibility that tiny proportions of gases like CO2 in our atmosphere cause backradiation that could heat up the surface and the atmosphere near it:

    1. The troposphere cools as altitude increases: in dry air, at a rate of around 1oC per 100m; under typical atmospheric humidity, by around 0.7oC per 100m. This cooling reflects the decrease of atmospheric pressure as altitude increases. Higher is cooler, both by day and by night.

    2. Backradiation of the heat radiation outgoing from the earth’s surface would only be possible by reflection, similarly to the effect of aluminium foil under roof insulation. But the CO2 share in our atmosphere cannot cause reflection in any way. Within homogeneous gases and gas mixtures no reflections occur. As is well known in optics, reflection and even refraction occur only at the boundaries of materials of different optical density, or at phase boundaries of a material or a material mixture (solid-liquid, liquid-gaseous, solid-gaseous). Thus it occurs with suspended water drops or ice crystals, or at the boundary between surface water and air – but never within homogeneous materials, e.g. air, water, glass.

    3. If outgoing thermal radiation from the earth’s surface is absorbed in the atmosphere, the absorbing air warms up, disturbing the existing vertical pattern of temperature, density and pressure, i.e. the initial state of the air layers. It is well known that warmed air expands and, because it is then lighter than the non-warmed air around it, rises. The absorbed warmth is taken away by air mass exchange. Just this occurs with near-surface air that is warmed by convection from earth’s surface, vegetation, buildings and so on. For the same reason the windows of heated rooms are kept closed in winter – otherwise the warm air would escape.

    These facts are slowly but surely dawning on climatologists. Grassl and others state (see above) that radiation absorbed by CO2-molecules will warm the atmosphere if no other reactions occur in the physical (in particular dynamic) processes in the earth/atmosphere system. In these “idealised conditions”, they say the greenhouse effect would be inevitable. Such “idealised conditions” must obviously include the proviso that air is stationary. It is really quite absurd that even now something so obvious as that hot air rises is not properly taken into account by the climatological profession. When air is heated up locally, it ascends and the warmth is removed. It also expands with decreasing atmospheric pressure at higher altitude, and cools so that no remaining warming can be observed. The warmth taken over by the absorbing air is transported toward the upper troposphere. The greenhouse effect does not occur.

    The same process applies to individual CO2-molecules that absorb outgoing radiant heat from the earth’s surface or from lower layers of the troposphere. These individual molecules remain at the same temperature as their surroundings. Due to the high density of molecules in the troposphere, an immediate exchange of absorbed radiated energy takes place by convection with the surrounding molecules of air. The CO2-molecules in the air are not isolated and therefore cannot reach a higher temperature than their environment. If energy is absorbed, the molecules in the immediate vicinity will warm up.

    4. A prerequisite for any type of heat transfer is that the emitter is warmer than the absorber. Heat transfer is determined by the ratio of the fourth powers of the temperatures of the emitting and the absorbing bodies. Because temperature is uniform within minute volumes of gas in the air, and temperature decreases with increasing altitude, back transfer to near-surface air of radiation from higher CO2-molecules is impossible. In fact, this is just as impossible as it is to use a cold heat radiator to heat up a warmer area.

    5. The energy discharge from the troposphere takes place at its upper boundary layer, at the transition of the atmosphere from its gaseous state to a state approaching a vacuum. Only in this zone do gases start to emit even small quantities of energy by radiation. The other energy transfer mechanisms – thermal conduction and convection – which at denser pressure are far more efficient than radiation, no longer operate because of the low density of the atmosphere there. But from the surface where man lives and up to 10 to 17km altitude (depending on geographical latitude), gases transfer the small quantities of energy they might acquire from absorbed radiation by convection and conduction – not by radiation.

    The climatologists derived the theoretical foundation of the greenhouse hypothesis from the concept of radiative equilibrium over the entire gas area of the atmosphere, right down to the earth’s surface. But the fundamental premise of radiative equilibrium – a balance of incoming and outgoing radiation – is correct only as long as it is limited to the vacuum-like zone of the upper atmosphere. In the lower regions of the atmosphere, the heat balance is essentially determined by thermal, i.e. thermodynamic equilibrium, which includes the thermodynamic characteristics of the components of the atmosphere as well as their changes in status.

    6. From the upper atmosphere down to earth’s surface, air pressure rises continuously. The determinant of atmospheric pressure is the mass and the weight of that part of the atmosphere above the point in question. And as pressure increases, so does temperature. The rise in temperature is caused by the thermodynamic characteristics of the main components of the atmosphere, i.e. N2 and O2. Everyone knows that compression causes gases to warm: the effect is noticeable even when inflating bicycle tires. The atmosphere is no different.

    The relations between temperature, pressure and volume within the gas area of an atmosphere are determined by the following equations:

    General gas equitation p x v = R x T

    Adiabatic change of state p x v k = constant

    or T x v k -1 = constant

    k = relation of the specific thermal values cp to cv

    Estimates of the effects of CO2 concentrations on air temperature are often – as mentioned before – derived from conditions on Venus. If one assumed that the atmosphere of Venus was similar to that of the earth, rather than being 95% CO2, and that it still had a pressure of 90 bar, then the surface temperature would be about 660°C, i.e. about 200°C more than at present. The difference arises from the somewhat smaller k value for triatomic as against biatomic gases (k Air: 1.4; k CO2: 1.3).

    Thus it would actually be somewhat colder on earth if our atmosphere consisted of CO2 rather than air.

    7. A special feature of our atmosphere is its water content. Water occurs in three states. The solid and liquid forms (clouds) show radiation characteristics completely different from gases: they reflect radiation. Thus only water in its liquid or solid states shows qualities to some extent comparable to a greenhouse (i.e. mimicking, however locally, the effect of fixed and airtight glass or foil). Naturally clouds do not prevent vertical air exchange. Moreover condensation and solidification of the water in air releases substantial amounts of heat, which largely determines the temperature of the lower atmosphere. By contrast, the heat transport and storage characteristics of trace gases like CO2 are negligible factors in determining air temperature.

    An interesting sidelight is that human life and most human activities add humidity to the lower atmosphere. Examples include the spread and intensification of agriculture; irrigation; hydraulic engineering, i.e. dams and reservoirs; burning of fossil fuels; other water use by humans, e.g. in industrial production processes; as well respiration by humans and livestock. It could therefore be assumed that the water content of the atmosphere has increased over the last 100 years. And the resulting cloudier skies, especially at night, would lead to a measurable increase in near-surface air temperature. But climatologists have largely neglected the possible influence on temperature of changes in the water content of the atmosphere.

    Conclusion

    Commonly held perceptions of the climatic relevance of CO2 and other so-called greenhouse gases rest on a staggering failure to grasp some of the fundamentals of physics. Correct interpretation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and sound appreciation of the necessary physical conditions for emission of radiation by gases lead to the understanding that within the troposphere no backradiation can be caused by so-called greenhouse gases. Therefore it is not at all correct to speak of a thermal effect of these gases on the biosphere.

    The thermal conditions in our and any atmosphere are determined by its pressure and the mass of its main components. Higher concentrations of CO2 in our atmosphere – at least until they reached 2% (a 60-fold increase) and thus became injurious to health – would endanger neither the climate nor mankind. To avoid further misunderstanding, the terms greenhouse effect and greenhouse gases should be avoided in describing the functioning of the atmosphere. A more correct term would be atmosphere effect. The operation of this effect is described in “The Thermodynamic Atmosphere Effect” at http://realplanet.eu/atmoseffect.htm.)

    It is completely incomprehensible and unjustified to imagine that mankind can or must protect the climate by attempting to control trace amounts of CO2 in the air.

    A question to the reader (similar on http://real-planet.eu/wspeicher.htm)

    Finally a question, dear reader, why is the surface temperature of the moon during almost perpendicular sun exposure remarkably higher than the ground surface temperature in comparable areas on our Earth, e.g. in the Sahara with likewise comparable conditions concerning the sun exposure? In different sources for the moon surface temperature values of around 130°C are given (the surface temperature at the equator during the day is 134°C (273° F) source: http://lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov/moonfacts.html). Ground surface temperature in comparable areas on the Earth, e.g. in the Sahara, with likewise comparable conditions concerning the sun exposure show lower values. Own measurements during almost perpendicular position of the sun, clear sky, in the northern Sahara led to ground surface temperatures of around 80°C. Other sources give temperatures only around 60°C. Own measurements of ground surface temperature in northern part of Mediterranean Sea area have shown already results of 65°C. And this, compared to the moon surface, poor result for the Earth ground surface temperature, is achieved under the main stream idea that the earth has a heating greenhouse effect. The moon because of lack of an atmosphere is however without such an effect. The reason for the higher temperatures on the moon cannot be that the moon day is longer than Earth day. In the sun at noon the (ground)surface temperature does not rise in Sahara further, if it achieved the highest value, which is reached already some minutes before noon (local time). After further 30 minutes of sun irradiation the value already measured does not continue to rise.

    Note CO2: However, doubts about the estimation that the preindustrial CO2-level would have been at 0,028%, at present it is about 0,038%, arose in recent publications: http://www.realco2.de/

    Worth to be read: “The Skeptics Handbook” http://joannenova.com.au/globa.....-22_lq.pdf .

    back

    The above article is an adapted translation of articles that appeared in the German periodicals Elektrizitätswirtschaft No. 20/1999 and Fusion No. 1/2000

    For more on “Atmospheric Backradiation”, one of the presuppositions of the greenhouse theory, see http://realplanet.eu/backrad.htm

    Also available: “Does Man Influence Climate?” at http://realplanet.eu/Influence.htm

    And The Thermodynamic Atmosphere Effect – stepwise explained – Using a set of technical models of planets with and without an atmosphere the reasons are explained for differences in surface temperature of the planet without an atmosphere compared with the temperature in the ground layer of atmosphere of the other planet.

    It is worth to know the speech of Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, at the UN Climate Change Conference 2007: http://www.klaus.cz/klaus2/asp.....HwpGc13sXM

    You can contact the author at heinz.thieme@gmx.net

    The author is co-author and belongs to the initial signers of the Climate Declaration of Heiligenroth (Klimamanifest von Heiligenroth) http://www.klimamanifest-von-h.....an-e.html#
    Page originally created 16.08.2000, English translation revised by S.Scott, July 2003, recent complement 16.06.2011, move to http://www.realplanet.eu 28.02.2010

  53. 53
    55rebel says:

    daveS:
    *cough*

    Not sure what you’re implying here, but if it is what I assume it to be…

    I guess it’s true… “Ignorance is bliss”[?]

    daveS,
    these are well established FACTS, not “conspiracy theories”…. come out of your cave. Have you ever heard of “weather modification”?!

  54. 54
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: This suggests that while some portion of the temperature change observed in the 20th century was probably caused by greenhouse gases, there is a strong likelihood that the major portion was due to natural variations.“

    The study is based on a single ice core with samples at century intervals. Reliable conclusions cannot be drawn from such a limited data-set.

    There is no doubt that some of the warming is natural, however, there is strong scientific evidence that the Earth will warm considerably beyond what would be expected naturally.

    vjtoryley: You really should read Graham Palmer’s article, Energy in Australia (a precis of his 2014 book), which demolishes these figures

    The article doesn’t demolish anything, but makes some claims that are apparently supported in a book. The book preview only hints at the argument. Perhaps you could provide a direct link to a study that supports the findings.

    We do agree with this statement, “Treating PV as an extension of, rather than as a substitute for, the fossil fuel enterprise enables a more productive discussion of PV’s potential role in electricity generation.”

    vjtoryley: You then suggested I check out where the blue, green and yellow lines come from – ice cores, as it turns out. I’m not sure what your point is, here.

    You cited data from Mann saying it refuted Mann. It was funny.

    vjtoryley: In any case, I was looking at the black line, which shows temperatures gradually falling from a peak around 8,000 years ago, sharply rising from around 150 years ago onwards, but still below their peak level, 8,000 years ago.

    Now add the instrumental record and what do you see?
    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png

    Charles: As opposed to, say, physicists of whom the American Physical Society’s members recently rejected the formerly “incontrovertible” climate science?

    They rejected the term “incontrovertible”. The proposed revision reads “the climate is changing, humans are contributing to climate change, and rising concentrations of greenhouse gases pose the risk of significant disruption around the globe. While there remain scientific challenges to our ability to observe, interpret and project climate change, APS continues to support actions – as it did in the 2007 statement – that reduce greenhouse gases and increase the resilience of society to climate change.”

  55. 55
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    There is no doubt that some of the warming is natural, however, there is strong scientific evidence that the Earth will warm considerably beyond what would be expected naturally.

    Most of the post 19th century warming has been natural. The CO2 footprint is dominated by water vapor. It still gets very cool in deserts, which have the CO2 but not the water vapor.

    There is also strong scientific evidence that the earth could easily slip into a cold period regardless of us. It seems that the CHZ of a planet is not as wide as once thought and we seem to be on its edge rather than safely inside of it.

  56. 56
    Charles says:

    Zachriel @ 53

    The proposed revision reads …

    lol. And APS members continue to resign or not renew membership over the APS Council and Board’s hamfisted pursuit of their agenda, proposed revisions or not.

  57. 57
    55rebel says:

    I guess the article I posted–in full, is not being allowed here….not sure why. So, here is just the link, for those who are interested in the truth/physics of the matter:

    Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics http://realplanet.eu/error.htm

  58. 58
    wd400 says:

    Stephenb @27,

    I find it very hard to follow a logical thread between you various comments on carbon monoxide. Since you admit they are the “wonderings” of someone who knows nothing about the topic, I guess I’ll forget about it.

    It is not hard to find the ansers to the questions you pose. I think pretty much all of them are covered by http://www.skepticalscience.com/ which would be a good place to start, then dig deeper/wider if you like.

  59. 59
    StephenB says:

    wd400

    I find it very hard to follow a logical thread between you various comments on carbon monoxide.

    Why is that my problem? If you don’t know that a rhetorical questions is, that would be your problem.

    Since you admit they are the “wonderings” of someone who knows nothing about the topic, I guess I’ll forget about it.

    I didn’t admit that I “know nothing” of the topic. Why do you fell the need to lie?

    Show me where I “admitted” such a thing. Why also, did you slink away from my questions?

    If I knew nothing about the topic, I would not be able to ask you questions that you are afraid to answer.

  60. 60
    daveS says:

    55rebel,

    Not sure what you’re implying here, but if it is what I assume it to be…

    I guess it’s true… “Ignorance is bliss”[?]

    daveS,
    these are well established FACTS, not “conspiracy theories”…. come out of your cave. Have you ever heard of “weather modification”?!

    Oh, yes, I’ve heard it all. Psychokinesis, remote viewing, NDEs, free energy, on and on. Chemtrails rank near the bottom when it comes to plausibility.

  61. 61
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: The CO2 footprint is dominated by water vapor.

    If you mean that an increased greenhouse effect due to CO2 causes an even greater increased greenhouse effect due to increased water vapor, that is correct.

    Charles: And APS members continue to resign or not renew membership over the APS Council and Board’s hamfisted pursuit of their agenda, proposed revisions or not.

    What percentage of members have resigned in protest?

    55rebel: Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics

    Oh, gee whiz.

    55rebel: http://realplanet.eu/error.htm

    It’s very straightforward to calculate the gray body temperature of the Earth, a chilly -18°C; yet, the Earth’s surface is a balmy +15°C. The difference is due to the greenhouse effect.

    55rebel: “What climatologists overlook is that atmospheric pressure at the surface of Venus is 90 bar, and that it is this colossal pressure that determines the temperature.”

    An increase in pressure will raise the temperature of a gas, but excess heat is then radiated into the environment until temperature equilibrium is reached.

  62. 62
    vjtorley says:

    Zachriel,

    The blue, green and yellow lines on your 2,000-year graph come from Mann, but the blue, green and yellow lines on my 12,000-year graph showing temperature fluctuations over the entire Holocene do not.

    The study I cited by Palmer referred to two sources, both more recent than Fthenakis’ 2012 article, and both showing an EROEI of 2 to 3 for solar photovoltaics. If you don’t like that, here’s an excerpt from another article by Palmer, criticizing Fthenakis’ calculations:

    The critical issue of intermittency is ignored, the system boundary for PV panels is truncated to exclude upstream energy costs, and many other important system-based factors are deemed to lie beyond the standard boundaries.

    Similarly, the often assumed idea that a “suite of renewables” with smart-grids and electric vehicles to achieve some sort of “optimized synergy” is frequently overstated. It is well established that geographical smoothing, along with “technology-diversity” smoothing can improve the statistical performance of integrated systems, but cannot deal with the “big gaps” events, particularly during winter.

    Similarly, combining electric vehicles with solar PV seems like a great idea at face value, but how would it work at a system level? Will motorists want to “fill up their tank” during the middle of the day at peak tariffs, and sell back to the grid at night? How will the vehicle get recharged so it has full range by the morning? What happens to charging during winter?

    This might also be useful:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/s.....1513009518

  63. 63
    wd400 says:

    Stephen,

    Why is that my problem? If you don’t know that a rhetorical questions is, that would be your problem.

    I know what a rhetorical question is. It’s not clear to me that you do, and I can’t find a coherent thread it the things you’ve said about CO. Maybe that’s my fault, or maybe you are just incoherent.

    I didn’t admit that I “know nothing” of the topic. Why do you fell the need to lie? Show me where I “admitted” such a thing.

    Ok, I guess “know very little” would be more technically correct. You showed you don’t know much about the topic by asking such elementary questions. I used the term admitted to refer to your self-confessed “wonderings”.

    Why also, did you slink away from my questions?

    If I knew nothing about the topic, I would not be able to ask you questions that you are afraid to answer.

    Because it’s not my job to teach you elementary facts about climate research? I’m not afraid to answer your questions, they just happen to be well-covered elswhere.

  64. 64
    Zachriel says:

    vjtorley: The blue, green and yellow lines on your 2,000-year graph come from Mann, but the blue, green and yellow lines on my 12,000-year graph showing temperature fluctuations over the entire Holocene do not.

    Must have been a glitch. The window behind that one has the other graph. In any case, what happens when you include the instrumental record?
    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png

    vjtorley (from Palmer article): there are a myriad of societal costs that are simply ignored in conventional PV-LCA analyses, and that solar PV is completely dependent upon the fossil fuelled system in which it is embedded.

    Everyone knows that solar only works during the day, and has to be embedded in a grid to be practical. The grid doesn’t have to be fossil fuel, of course. This doesn’t directly affect EROI. None of the article seems to address EROI. The Trainer article doesn’t seem to address that question either.

  65. 65
    StephenB says:

    wd400

    Ok, I guess “know very little” would be more technically correct.

    You said that I “admitted” that I “know nothing” about the topic. That was a lie. Now you are trying to walk it back by suggesting that I admitted I know “very little” about the topic, which is also a lie. When you are caught in a lie, the best strategy is to admit it and move on.

    You showed you don’t know much about the topic by asking such elementary questions.

    I didn’t ask the questions because I didn’t know the answer. I asked the questions to find out if you can support the claims that global alarmists are making. Obviously, you can’t. In spite of your religious belief in man-made global warming, you can’t provide any evidence that human activity is its primary cause.

  66. 66
    StephenB says:

    wd400

    Because it’s not my job to teach you elementary facts about climate research? I’m not afraid to answer your questions, they just happen to be well-covered elswhere.

    There you go again, pounding your chest and making claims that you cannot support. Why has there been no significant increase either in the frequency or severity of tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, or droughts? Where has that subject been “well covered?”

  67. 67
    wd400 says:

    OK, stephen perhaps you are playing some silly rhetorical game and know the answers to the questions you ask.

    If that’s the case, and your mind is so clearly made up, what possible purpose would engaging with you have?

    Alternatively, if you’d like to learn about the mainstream scientific position on climate then check out Skeptical Science as a starting point.

  68. 68
    Barry Arrington says:

    wd400

    stephen perhaps you are playing some silly rhetorical game and know the answers to the questions you ask.

    If that’s the case, and your mind is so clearly made up, what possible purpose would engaging with you have?

    Of course Stephen knows the answer to the questions. What a stupid statement. He is not asking you for the purpose of enlightenment. He is asking you for the purpose of demonstrating the bankruptcy of your position, a purpose with which you have cooperated quite admirably. Thank you.

  69. 69
    Axel says:

    vjtorley, Is not the disposal of the spent fuel-rods at the nuclear reactors a major problem, as yet with no solution in sight, however distant? It seems as if we are relying on the ‘promissory note’ we deride.

  70. 70
  71. 71
    harry says:

    Global warming happens. Ice ages happen.

    One emerges as the other dissipates. Why?

    It seems that the main forces that cause this are huge, cyclic and beyond our control. One factor, for example, is the gravitational force of other planets causing the shape of the Earth’s orbit around the sun to go back and forth between being more circular and more elliptical over a 100,000 year cycle. There are other cycles. These cyclic forces have intervals over such long periods of time that any effect the industrial age has had or will have on the emergence and/or dissipation of global warming/ice ages is impossible to determine with certainty.

    The Milankovitch Cycles

    The Milankovitch Cycles are:

    — Eccentricity is, simply, the variations in the shape of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun (0 to 5 percent ellipticity) on a cycle of about 100,000 years.

    — Axial Tilt is the inclination of the Earth’s axis in relation to its plane of orbit around the Sun. Oscillations in the degree of Earth’s axial tilt occur on a periodicity of 41,000 years from 21.5 to 24.5 degrees.

    — Precession is the Earth’s slow wobble as it spins on axis, and has a periodicity of 23,000 years.

    For more information about these cycles, see:

    http://www.indiana.edu/~geol10.....ovitch.htm

    Vindication of Milankovitch Theory

    See:

    http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/vir.....03_1.shtml

    An excerpt:

    When Fourier analysis was applied to deep-sea records in 1975, it emerged that the oxygen-isotope series contained strong cycles with periods near 100,000 years, 41,000 years, and 23,000 years. These are precisely the periods expected if Earth’s orbital elements (eccentricity, obliquity, and precession) govern ice-age climates, as proposed by Milankovitch Theory. Thus, there could be no more doubt that orbital elements had to be considered as important drivers of climate on long time scales.

    As for those “experts” who insist that the end is near, unless of course, we do exactly as they say: The “scientific data,” whatever it is, simply cannot be sufficient to make a credible case that we have changed or can change the course of climate cycles that run over tens of thousands of years and are driven by huge forces entirely beyond our control. Regardless of which side of the climate issue one is on, if one insists one knows with certainty the effect or lack of an effect the industrial age has had or will have on the overall global warming/ice age cycle, one is either deluded or dishonest. Although considering the huge force of the Milankovitch cycles, it seems to me that whatever mankind does or fails to do will be insignificant.

    At any rate there is certainly no basis for the Catholic Church getting behind the establishment of some world authority the pretended purpose of which is to save us from climate change. That would be a concentration of power blatantly contrary to longstanding Catholic Social Teaching on the necessity of subsidiarity (diffusing governmental power and authority across the most local levels possible), and based on the unsubstantiated notion that mankind has control over something it most likely doesn’t. Global warming happens. Ice ages happen. Whether we like it or not.

  72. 72
    Seversky says:

    New York Harbor has experienced an increase in sea level of more than 15 inches in the past 150years, with harbor tide gauges showing a rise of between 4 and 6 inches since 1960.  

    The Task Force looked to the best available science to estimate potential sea level rise. Not all regions of the marine coast will be affected in the same way, and this report focuses on estimates for two areas: the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island, including New York City, and the mid?Hudson Valley and Capital Region. Sea level rise affecting the Lower Hudson Valley and Long Island is projected to be 2 to 5 inches by the 2020s and 12 to 23 inches by the end of this century. However, rapid melt of land?based ice could double these projections in the next few decades, with a potential rise of up to 55 inches by the end of the century.

    New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force 

    I suppose that when much of Florida disappears gently beneath the waves climate change denialists might concede there is a bit of a problem.

    Be a tad late, then.

    Actually, if recent history is anything to go by, more likely the response will be to claim that the whole thing is a conspiracy got up by academic elitists/one-world government cabals/ Illuminati for the purpose of gaining global dominance over the rest of us. The flooded Florida images will just be CGI from Pixar/Imageworks.

    Remember, folks, it ain’t paranoia if they’re really after you.

  73. 73
    Zachriel says:

    harry: It seems that the main forces that cause this are huge, cyclic

    What will those crazy climate scientists come up with next!

  74. 74
    velikovskys says:

    Seversky:
    I suppose that when much of Florida disappears gently beneath the waves climate change denialists might concede

    ” tis but a scratch, had worse, it is just a flesh wound”

  75. 75
    asauber says:

    “I suppose that when much of Florida disappears”

    This is a great example of what Global Warming Science invariably produces: Scare Stories.

    I’d say that the evidence indicates that Global Warming is a Chicken Little style hoax.

    Andrew

  76. 76
    Virgil Cain says:

    I suppose when Florida remains well above sea level the chicken-little alarmists will say the oceans ate the heat!

    Remember folks, if you can’t provide the science then just try to scare them!

  77. 77
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: I suppose when Florida remains well above sea level the chicken-little alarmists will say the oceans ate the heat!

    As oceans warm, they expand.

  78. 78
    asauber says:

    “As oceans warm, they expand.”

    Zachriel,

    So when is Florida going under?

    Andrew

  79. 79
    wd400 says:

    Barry,

    If it’s “stupid” to assume someone asking a question genuinely wants to know the answer then I think you’ve underlined how pointless a conversation on this topic is here.

  80. 80
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: So when is Florida going under?

    Here’s one meter for Florida.
    http://farm2.staticflickr.com/.....02cb04.jpg

  81. 81
    asauber says:

    Zachriel,

    Thanks for the cartoon, but you didn’t answer my question.

    “So when is Florida going under?”

    Andrew

  82. 82
    Charles says:

    Seversky @ 72
    http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/adm.....nalrep.pdf [p. 9]:

    New York Harbor has experienced an increase in sea level of more than 15 inches in the past 150years, with harbor tide gauges showing a rise of between 4 and 6 inches since 1960. … Sea level rise affecting the Lower Hudson Valley and Long Island is projected to be 2 to 5 inches by the 2020s and 12 to 23 inches by the end of this century.

    http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/-/me.....-Risks.pdf [p. 16]:

    Sea level along New York’s coastline has risen by approximately 1 foot since 1900.

    So a rise of 15 inches over 150 years is 1 in/decade; a rise of 4-6 in from 1960 to 2015 (55 years) is, on average, 5 inches over 55 years or 0.9in/decade; a projected rise of 12-23 inches from 2015 to 2100 is, 1.4 to 2.7 in/decade; and 1 ft from 1900 to 2015 is 1.04 in/decade.

    Treating the 2.7in/decade as a projection outlier, we have an otherwise linear curvefit of 1 inch/decade measured sealevel rise at NYC harbor over at least the last 150 years. But man-made CO2 contributions have grown exponentially since 1750, not linearly:
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp0.....1_2009.ems
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_Dioxide_400kyr.png

    A linear rise in sea level does not correlate to an exponential rise in man-made CO2 emissions, at least over the last 260 years, since 1750.

    Further, the linear rise in sea level at New York is due mainly to thermal expansion and some subsidence of coastal land, but not melting ice:

    http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/45202.html
    Most of the sea-level rise observed to date has been due to the thermal expansion of warming waters. But today, added water from melting glaciers and land ice sheets is starting to contribute more to sea-level rise than heat-driven expansion of existing seawater. And the Arctic and Antarctic have abundant supplies of land ice yet to melt, all of which will add to sea levels.

    […]
    Sea-level rise in New York is expected to exceed the global mean due to certain regional conditions, such as subsidence of coastal lands. Tide-gauge observations indicate that rates of relative sea-level rise in New York State have been greater than the global mean, ranging from 0.86 to 1.5 inches per decade and averaging 1.2 inches per decade over the last century.

    And even if the inexorible rise in sea-level is granted, NYC would be better served planning to become New Venice and turn its streets into boat ramps, because the global warming alarmists forecast no end to the rise in sea levels:

    During the past century, the rate of global mean sea-level rise was about 0.7 inches per decade; observations indicate that the rate of global sea-level rise is accelerating. Based on an assumption of moderate land ice melting, the panel projects a likely rise in global sea levels of 20 to 38 inches by 2100. Its projections are the starting point for developing localized projections, including New York’s.

    3 ft by 2100 implies 6-9 ft by 2200… maybe 18ft by 2300… where do the alarmist IPCC projections end??? Well that’s the thing. They don’t end. Alarmists don’t acknowledge the cyclical nature of anything, not the sun, not the earth, not ice ages, and not sea-levels.

    The only aspect where the science is neither “settled” nor “incontrovertible”, is whether the globe is warming or has a cooling trend actually begun over the last 15-19 years (possibly due to sunspot minimum and Milankovitch cycles coinciding).

  83. 83
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    As oceans warm, they expand.

    Yes, they do. And Florida is safe from inundation for a while.

  84. 84
    velikovskys says:

    Charles:
    The only aspect where the science is neither “settled” nor “incontrovertible”, is whether the globe is warming or has a cooling trend actually begun over the last 15-19 years

    With the last two years historical warmth as well as low temperatures increasingly warm, ocean showing increased warmth, Greenland accelerated loss of ice, how is this cooling trend being demonstrated?

    (possibly due to sunspot minimum and Milankovitch cycles coinciding).

    Any evidence for this?

    Alarmists don’t acknowledge the cyclical nature of anything, not the sun, not the earth, not ice ages, and not sea-levels.

    You mean the people who discovered the cycles don’t believe they occur?

  85. 85
    asauber says:

    “With the last two years historical warmth as well as low temperatures increasingly warm, ocean showing increased warmth, Greenland accelerated loss of ice.”

    I think you should only get 1 alarmist claim without providing any evidence or links to propganada sites, not 4. 😉

    Andrew

  86. 86
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: “So when is Florida going under?”

    It’s not a binary condition. Sea level rise will increasing encroach on coastal areas. One meter sea level rise is expected over the next century, given unrestrained carbon emissions.
    http://farm2.staticflickr.com/.....02cb04.jpg

    NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record
    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20150116/

  87. 87
    Mung says:

    Do continents expand as they warm? Just asking.

  88. 88
    Charles says:

    velikovskys @ 84

    (possibly due to sunspot minimum and Milankovitch cycles coinciding).

    Any evidence for this?

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/28/Sunspot_Numbers.png
    http://solarscience.msfc.nasa......ycle.shtml

    http://www.space.com/11960-fad.....cycle.html
    The results of three separate studies seem to show that even as the current sunspot cycle swells toward the solar maximum, the sun could be heading into a more-dormant period, with activity during the next 11-year sunspot cycle greatly reduced or even eliminated.

    The results of the new studies were announced today (June 14) at the annual meeting of the solar physics division of the American Astronomical Society, which is being held this week at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

    “The solar cycle may be going into a hiatus,” Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory’s Solar Synoptic Network, said in a news briefing today (June 14).

    And the vostok ice cores and benthic forams coincide proximate to a Milankovic cycle reversal:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/MilankovitchCyclesOrbitandCores.png

    With the last two years historical warmth as well as low temperatures increasingly warm, ocean showing increased warmth, Greenland accelerated loss of ice, how is this cooling trend being demonstrated?

    And yet those two years are neither statistically significant, nor historically warmer as they fall below 1998, 2003, and 2013, and over the longer term, the previous trend would appear to have flattened and the highs are diminishing:
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp.....015_v6.png

    And citing Greenland alone while ignoring the rest of the polar icecaps and world’s total ice-sheets and glaciers is alarmist cherry-picking at its best.

    We all wait for your “evidence” that the evidence you requested is less credible than Mann’s hockey stick and the Himalaya’s melting, and NYC Under Water from Climate Change By June 2015 – lol

  89. 89
    asauber says:

    “It’s not a binary condition.” = “I don’t know”

    Andrew

  90. 90
    asauber says:

    “Do continents expand as they warm?”

    Does the air expand as it warms? Does that mean the atmosphere is “bigger”?

    Andrew

  91. 91
    daveS says:

    “Do continents expand as they warm?”

    Does the air expand as it warms? Does that mean the atmosphere is “bigger”?

    I think we’re drifting into Byers territory.

  92. 92
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: “It’s not a binary condition.” = “I don’t know”

    It’s not a binary condition = It’s not a binary condition.

    Charles: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/28/Sunspot_Numbers.png

    Solanki & Krivova, Can solar variability explain global warming since 1970?, Journal of Geophysical Research 2003: “Here we take a more empirical approach… This comparison shows without requiring any recourse to modeling that since roughly 1970 the solar influence on climate (through the channels considered here) cannot have been dominant. In particular, the Sun cannot have contributed more than 30% to the steep temperature increase that has taken place since then”

  93. 93
    velikovskys says:

    As über:

    I think you should only get 1 alarmist claim without providing any evidence or links to propganada sites, not 4. ????

    Which do you contest? Look at Vj’s graph above for the first two.

  94. 94
    asauber says:

    “Which do you contest?

    All of them.

    Andrew

  95. 95
    velikovskys says:

    As über
    All of them

    You contest VJ ‘s graph above?

  96. 96
    asauber says:

    “You contest VJ ‘s graph above?”

    Yes.

    Andrew

  97. 97
    Andre says:

    I wonder if there is no rhyme nor reason for the existence of the universe, this solar system, our planet and the people on it why does it appear to me that the materialist care so much? For what rhyme or reason?

  98. 98
    Charles says:

    What Zachriel @ 92 would have us presume is the falsehood that an accurate temperture record did not correlate with solar activity at all.

    But that is the deception.
    1) The temperature record was provided by none other than Philip Jones of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (of climate-gate email fame) and that record stopped in 1994. So the study Zachriel cited extends only thru to 1994.

    http://ruby.fgcu.edu/courses/t.....ce1970.pdf
    [9] Also plotted in Figure 2 are two temperature records
    compiled by the Climatic Research Unit of the University of
    East Anglia
    , one exhibiting global (Figure 2b) and the other
    exhibiting Northern Hemisphere (Figure 2a) surface temperatures
    [Jones, 1994; Parker et al., 1995]. Both records have
    been treated with an 11-year running mean. If one considers
    the period prior to 1970 there is an excellent correlation
    between either of the irradiance and the temperature records,
    with correlation coefficients ranging between 0.83 and 0.97,

    and the temperature lagging the irradiance by 0 and 11 – 12
    years for the amplitude and length reconstructions, respectively.

    2) Zachriel would have us overlook that temperature to solar activity correspondence was “excellent” (above), .83-.97, prior to 1970:

    The solar indicators correlate well with the temperature record prior to
    1970 (correlation coefficients [greater or equal to] 0.83).
    In the case of total
    and UV irradiance, although both cycle amplitude-based
    and length-based reconstructions give highly significant
    correlations, the correlation due to reconstructions with
    secular trend following cycle length is higher than that
    involving cycle-amplitude reconstructions. We have shown
    that even in the extreme case that solar variability caused all
    the global climate change prior to 1970, it cannot have been
    responsible for more than 50% of the strong global temperature
    rise since 1970 through any of the channels considered
    here.

    What, we might ask, (as did Solanki and Krivova) change after 1970???

    [5] Why distinguish between the time before and after
    1970? That year marks the onset of a surge in temperature:
    global surface temperature since 1970 has risen by the same
    amount as in the century prior to that [Parker et al., 1995].

    But Solanki and Krivova, publishing as they did in 2003, did not have the benefit of knowing the data manipulations and loss of raw data archives and related adjustment software that were exposed by climategate in 2009. Since then, we all know how Phil Jones, Michael Mann, etc., have been upto their eyeballs in “adjusting” the temperature records, especially at the EA-CRU. Small wonder that “[1970] marks the onset of a surge in temperature”, prior to which there was an “an excellent correlation between either of the irradiance and the temperature records”

    Golly.

  99. 99
    Barry Arrington says:

    wd400

    I think you’ve underlined how pointless a conversation on this topic is here.

    It is indeed pointless to have a conversation with such as you if the point is to get you to see reason. We know you won’t. But we don’t converse in the hope of changing your mind. Stephen’s purpose was to demonstrate the bankruptcy of your position to the onlookers by asking a few pointed questions that you were unable to answer. And he succeeded. Thanks for helping him.

  100. 100
    Andre says:

    Not even out on a limb here. Solar activity alone is responsible for the changes in temperature.

  101. 101
    Zachriel says:

    Charles: What Zachriel @ 92 would have us presume is the falsehood that an accurate temperture record did not correlate with solar activity at all.

    Please try to avoid misrepresenting our views. Changes in solar activity may be important factors in historical climate, such as during the Maunder Minimum.

  102. 102
    Andre says:

    Zachriel

    You’ve been avoiding the question….. Why do you even care?

  103. 103
    Charles says:

    Zachriel @ 101

    Changes in solar activity may be important factors in historical climate, such as during the Maunder Minimum.

    Indeed, that’s what Solanki and Krivova demonstrated prior to 1970. They just didn’t know that their post-1970 temperature record as provided by Jones at EA-CRU could hardly be characterized as “historical” (or maybe you meant hysterical?)

    Please try to avoid misrepresenting our views.

    I’m just accurately presenting the measurements. That those measurements misrepresent your views is your problem.

  104. 104
    Zachriel says:

    Andre: You’ve been avoiding the question….. Why do you even care?

    We’ve already answered. We’re rather fond of Homo sapiens. Consider it a peccadillo, if you like.

  105. 105
    asauber says:

    “We’re rather fond of…”

    This doesn’t sound very scientific. What’s the science supporting the idea of “fond of”?

    Andrew

  106. 106
    mike1962 says:

    Zachriel: We’ve already answered.

    What’s the name of the mouse in your pocket?

    What a tard-load

  107. 107
    velikovskys says:

    asauber:

    “You contest VJ ‘s graph above?”

    Yes.

    Andrew

    Any reason?

  108. 108
    velikovskys says:

    Andre:
    I wonder if there is no rhyme nor reason for the existence of the universe, this solar system, our planet and the people on it why does it appear to me that the materialist care so much? For what rhyme or reason?

    Maybe they don’t believe a Designer will bail them out.

    Or reasons can be bottom up rather than dictated by another human speaking for the designer.

    Or there seems to be regularities in existence however they originated.

    Or they just like solving puzzles.

    Or they don’t have to believe in voodoo to care about something.

  109. 109
    Andre says:

    Zachreil

    We’ve already answered. We’re rather fond of Homo sapiens. Consider it a peccadillo, if you like.

    So here you are arguing to us how humans are the cause of this global climate change catastrophe but then you proceed to tell us how much you care about them….. Are you trying to play saviour? Saviour for what?

  110. 110
    Andre says:

    Velikovskys

    Maybe they don’t believe a Designer will bail them out.

    If one has to rank rational answers, this one wins for stupid.

    Or reasons can be bottom up rather than dictated by another human speaking for the designer.

    If there is no reason for anything why are you trying to use reason to deny reason exist?

    Or there seems to be regularities in existence however they originated.

    Design perhaps? Are you recognising it then?

    Or they just like solving puzzles.

    Free will exist then?

    Or they don’t have to believe in voodoo to care about something.

    Please explain care in a materialistic framework, I’m very interested……

  111. 111
    evnfrdrcksn says:

    Let me get this straight: None of you believe that human beings play any role in the warming of the planet? In fact, some of you think that the very idea of “global warming” is a CONSPIRACY propagated by “leftists” or something? Yikes! Well I guess that explains a few things.

  112. 112
  113. 113
  114. 114
  115. 115
  116. 116
    Andre says:

    So yes I’m getting tired of the nonsense that humans think humans can cause global warming, that 27 000 000C fireball is not affected by 7 000 000 000 on a planet a 1 000 000 times smaller than it. We have no say in how the world warms or cools….

  117. 117
    Mapou says:

    There is apparently strong evidence that CO2 in the atmosphere does not cause warming but rather, it’s the other way around: warming causes atmospheric CO2:

    Presentation of Evidence Suggesting Temperature Drives Atmospheric CO2 more than CO2 Drives Temperature

    This could be the definitive blow that kills the nasty beast, hopefully. I think it must await corroboration and vetting by some heavyweights. We’ll see.

  118. 118
    Andre says:

    Mapou

    Thanks for that because the only that has any bearing on warming and cooling, is the activity of that 27 000 000C fireball in the sky……

  119. 119
    Zachriel says:

    Andre: I’m getting tired of the nonsense that humans think humans can cause global warming, that 27 000 000C fireball is not affected by 7 000 000 000 on a planet a 1 000 000 times smaller than it.

    Z: Because the greenhouse effect helps determine the surface temperature of the Earth, and humans are changing the composition of the Earth’s atmospheric greenhouse gases.

    Mapou: There is apparently strong evidence that CO2 in the atmosphere does not cause warming but rather, it’s the other way around: warming causes atmospheric CO2

    No, it states that warming drives CO2 *more* than CO2 drives temperature.

    Allan MacRae: I initiated in January 2008 the hypothesis that dCO2/dt varies with temperature (T) and therefore CO2 lags temperature by about 9 months in the modern data record, and so CO2 could not primarily drive temperature.

    That’s seasonal lag primarily due to photosynthesis.

    Allan MacRae: Furthermore, atmospheric CO2 lags temperature at all measured time scales.

    At longer timescales, what it shows is a positive feedback. Increased CO2 causes ocean warming, which causes increased release of CO2 by the oceans, which causes more warming. This is standard paleoclimatology.

    Andre: Thanks for that because the only that has any bearing on warming and cooling, is the activity of that 27 000 000C fireball in the sky.

    That’s clearly incorrect. The Sun is not sufficient to explain the Earth’s surface temperature. Without the greenhouse effect, the Earth’s surface would be largely frozen.

  120. 120
    asauber says:

    “In fact, some of you think that the very idea of “global warming” is a CONSPIRACY propagated by “leftists” or something?”

    Perhaps. But it doesn’t even need to go that far. All you need to say is that AGW advocates are overselling the science. Which they are. Effectively the same thing.

    Andrew

  121. 121
    harry says:

    Another thought on the Milankovitch cycles. That the slight variations in the shape of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun (0 to 5 percent ellipticity), and 3 degree variations in the axial tilt of the Earth, and its slight wobbling as it rotates, can produce the drastic difference between moderate temperatures and an ice age, makes one realize how radically harsh the environment would likely be if we weren’t situated precisely where we are in the solar system.

    Maybe instead of attempting to control climate change that is ultimately produced by forces entirely beyond our control, we should thank God for every beautiful day we experience, and do what we can for those in need to the extent that we are able to do that.

    The idea that we must control the climate (as though that is possible) in order to help the poor is a sorry excuse for genuine charity towards the needy, and I hope and pray that a notion as silly as that isn’t found in the upcoming encyclical.

  122. 122
    asauber says:

    Here’s a perfect example of overselling right here: “In particular, **the Sun cannot have contributed more than 30%** to the steep temperature increase that has taken place since then”

    The science cannot verify this. It just ain’t that good.

    Andrew

  123. 123
    Zachriel says:

    harry: That the slight variations in the shape of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun (0 to 5 percent ellipticity), and 3 degree variations in the axial tilt of the Earth, and its slight wobbling as it rotates, can produce the drastic difference between moderate temperatures and an ice age, makes one realize how radically harsh the environment would likely be if we weren’t situated precisely where we are in the solar system.

    It shows that the Earth’s climate isn’t that stable, but see-saws between an icy world and an ice-free world. What is thought to happen is that for some cause, such as orbital changes or the movement of continents, a transition occurs. For instance, warming reaches a level that causes the ice to start to melt, decreasing albedo; and the oceans to release CO2, increasing the greenhouse effect. This causes additional warming, and a positive feedback, leading to a world nearly free of ice, with high ocean levels. The process may then reverse resulting in an icy world.

    Another factor is the long term build-up of CO2 due to volcanism, and its removal by the weathering of silicate rocks. During periods with large amounts of ice, there is less CO2 removed as silicate rocks are not exposed, and volcanic CO2 accumulates; while during ice-free periods, weathering proceeds more quickly, tending to reduce CO2.

  124. 124
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: The science cannot verify this.

    You could be right, but handwaving is not a convincing argument. What exactly about the study do you find faulty?

  125. 125
    asauber says:

    “Handwaving is not a convincing argument.”

    Not handwaving at all. There are no verification processes in climate science.

    Andrew

  126. 126
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: Not handwaving at all. There are no verification processes in climate science.

    More handwaving. To make a scientific argument, you have to marshal facts. Solanki & Krivova used an empirical approach. Specifically, they took total and UV irradiance, and cosmic ray flux measurements, then assumed the largest possible solar contribution based on the data. These three channels could only account for 30% of the warming, so that provides an upper limit.

  127. 127
    asauber says:

    “More handwaving.”

    You’re just throwing the word around because there is no verification of the claims of climate science. I would classify it as you having sour grapes.

    Andrew

  128. 128
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: You’re just throwing the word around because there is no verification of the claims of climate science.

    The term applies because you merely repeat your position, while ignoring the evidence provided.

    Solanki & Krivova, Can solar variability explain global warming since 1970?, Journal of Geophysical Research 2003: “Here we take a more empirical approach… This comparison shows without requiring any recourse to modeling that since roughly 1970 the solar influence on climate (through the channels considered here) cannot have been dominant. In particular, the Sun cannot have contributed more than 30% to the steep temperature increase that has taken place since then

    asauber: there is no verification of the claims of climate science

    Is so!

  129. 129
    asauber says:

    “you merely repeat your position”

    And what are you doing with “handwaving”?

    Andrew

  130. 130
    asauber says:

    “Is so!”

    Please provide the method used to verify “**the Sun cannot have contributed more than 30%**”

    Andrew

  131. 131
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: And what are you doing with “handwaving”?

    Am not!

    asauber: Please provide the method used to verify “**the Sun cannot have contributed more than 30%**”

    Solanki & Krivova, Can solar variability explain global warming since 1970?, Journal of Geophysical Research 2003: “Here we take a more empirical approach… This comparison shows without requiring any recourse to modeling that since roughly 1970 the solar influence on climate (through the channels considered here) cannot have been dominant. In particular, the Sun cannot have contributed more than 30% to the steep temperature increase that has taken place since then

    Specifically, Solanki & Krivovatook took total and UV irradiance, and cosmic ray flux measurements, then assumed the largest possible solar contribution based on the data. These three channels could only account for 30% of the warming, so that provides an upper limit.

  132. 132
    asauber says:

    “Specifically, Solanki & Krivovatook total and UV irradiance, and cosmic ray flux measurements, **then assumed** the largest possible solar contribution based on the data. These three channels could only account for 30% of the warming, so that provides an upper limit.”

    Assuming your answer is not verification.

    Andrew

  133. 133
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: Assuming your answer is not verification.

    They didn’t assume the answer. They assumed that the solar contribution was the maximum consistent with observation. That’s how you provide an upper-limit. If the contribution was less than the maximum, then the solar contribution will be less than 30%, but it can’t be more, given the results.

  134. 134
    asauber says:

    “They assumed”

    Andrew

  135. 135
    asauber says:

    assume

    verb as·sume \?-?süm\

    : to think that something is true or probably true without knowing that it is true

    verify

    : to establish the truth, accuracy, or reality of

    Andrew

  136. 136
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: “They assumed”

    If we drop that assumption, then the solar contribution is 30% or less. Do you understand the basic logic?

    A = assume maximum possible solar contribution consistent with the evidence.

    If A, then solar contribution no more than 30%.
    If not A, then 30% *or less*.

  137. 137
    asauber says:

    “If we drop that assumption”

    Why would we drop it? So you can keep arguing?

    Andrew

  138. 138
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: Why would we drop it?

    Because that is how they determined the upper-limit. If we make the assumption, then the maximum contribution is 30%. If we drop the assumption, then the maximum contribution is 30% *or less*.

  139. 139
    asauber says:

    Zachriel,

    You are a hoot. You say with the assumption the maximum contribution is 30%. You then go on to say that if we drop the assumption, the maximum is still 30%. lol

    More confirmation that AGW Internet Advocate Trolls are what they are.

    Andrew

  140. 140
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: You say with the assumption the maximum contribution is 30%.

    No, with the assumption that the solar contribution is at the maximum consistent with *observation*.

  141. 141
    Virgil Cain says:

    What is the scientific evidence that shows the earth’s climate is so sensitive that a 200 parts per million increase can drive the temperature upwards to 1 degree C?

    In comment 57, 55rebel provides a link that shows climate alarmists are dimwitted fools. Does anyone have a response to that?

  142. 142
    velikovskys says:

    Maybe they don’t believe a Designer will bail them out.

    Andre:If one has to rank rational answers, this one wins for stupid.

    It may be stupid but it is true

    “In 2009, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) said, “The earth will end only when God declares it to be over.” Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) quoted from Genesis in 2012 and said, “The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

    Or reasons can be bottom up rather than dictated by another human speaking for the designer.

    If there is no reason for anything why are you trying to use reason to deny reason exist?

    Nicely put, but you are the one claiming there is no reason, how do you know there is or what it is?

    Or there seems to be regularities in existence however they originated.

    Design perhaps? Are you recognising it then?

    Sure, humans design, nature creates designs( patterns of elements)

    Or they just like solving puzzles.

    Free will exist then?

    Define your version of free will.

    Or they don’t have to believe in voodoo to care about something.

    Please explain care in a materialistic framework, I’m very interested……

    Does God make you interested or is your interest the result of how you were designed?

  143. 143
    ppolish says:

    “The Encyclical” coming this June:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=76BtP1GInlc

  144. 144
    ppolish says:

    Humans are far more dependent on Electricity than they are on Climate. Loss of the Electrical Grid would be far more lethal to humans than Climate Change. A year without Electricity? Billions and billions of humans would die as a result.

    Evil Mr Energy Man – hope you have a backup plan. Neil Tyson is getting uncomfortable in his dark NY apartment.

  145. 145
    butifnot says:

    Yet again, we don’t even know what we don’t know. And we’re going to predict long range climate?? Suuure. Aside from the ideological politically driven fraudulent fiasco that is ‘climate science’.

  146. 146
    mike1962 says:

    America’s Most Advanced Climate Station Data Shows US In A 10-Year Cooling Trend:

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/06.....ing-trend/

  147. 147
    velikovskys says:

    Mike:
    America’s Most Advanced Climate Station Data Shows US In A 10-Year Cooling Trend:

    Statistically significant trend?

  148. 148
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: America’s Most Advanced Climate Station Data Shows US In A 10-Year Cooling Trend

    Contiguous U.S., which is only 1.5% of the Earth’s surface.

  149. 149
    mike1962 says:

    So?

  150. 150
    mjoels says:

    Ok, so you think 50/4000000000 years of single decimal accuracy temperature data is significant? Or even significant enough to place bets on a direct cause?

  151. 151
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: So?

    The distribution of heat from global warming will not lead to a uniform change over the entire globe. Some areas will warm, some will cool.

  152. 152
    ppolish says:

    Some areas will be hot. Some areas will be cold. Lol. What percentage of latitude & longitude does USA sample? greater than your “1.5%”? Some will be hot, some will be cold lol.

  153. 153
    butifnot says:

    Please, there is no such thing as Global Warming.

  154. 154
    Zachriel says:

    ppolish: Some areas will be hot. Some areas will be cold.

    Here’s 2014. Notice that overall temperatures were above average globally, but cooler in some regions.
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/.....201412.gif

  155. 155
    jstanley01 says:

    Good Lord. No one in their right mind would wade through this post’s interminable nonsense, even if it were right, least of all the clerics to whom it is addressed. It’s wrong, of course.

    As far as God giving the Roman Catholic Church, “a job to do of cleaning up the planet,” oh no He didn’t. The Roman Catholic Church can’t even manage to clean out the pedophiles from its priesthood. And God is not an idiot.

    So UD is giving air to Global Warming hysteria now, eh? This place has definitely jumped the shark. Who’d a thunk?

  156. 156
    Mapou says:

    jstanley01 @154,

    Yeah, who died and left the Catholic Church with the authority to dictate policy? A bunch of weird men who don’t like to sleep with women get together and decide they represent God on earth? Please.

  157. 157
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Notice that overall temperatures were above average globally, but cooler in some regions.

    And yet those cooler regions have the same CO2 content as the warmer areas. That alone should tell the alarmists that it isn’t the CO2 that is the issue.

  158. 158
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Mapou

    Yeah, who died and left the Catholic Church with the authority …

    Christ died, and then rose from the dead.

    Let’s argue about religion now!

  159. 159
    asauber says:

    “Let’s argue about religion now!”

    We have been. That’s what Fundamentalist Global Warming Preachin’s about. 🙂

    Don’t make me holler
    Don’t make me shout
    Just turn ’em pawkets
    Inside out!

    Andrew

  160. 160
    EvilSnack says:

    Virgil @ 157:

    Now that’s an interesting way to test this theory. Measure the temperature and CO2 at different places on the globe, and then–

    Oh, who am I kidding? One side of this debate has already proven that they will explain away the data if it does not support their conclusion.

  161. 161
    Zachriel says:

    EvilSnack: Measure the temperature and CO2 at different places on the globe

    What will those crazy climate scientists do next?!
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=1896

  162. 162
    asauber says:

    “Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua spacecraft between September 2002 and July 2008”

    I’m not sure why climate science needs satellites to measure something that’s easily re-constructible with proxies.

    Andrew

  163. 163
    Virgil Cain says:

    Nice own goal, Zachriel. There is plenty of CO2 in the coolest region of North America.

  164. 164
    velikovskys says:

    polish:
    Some areas will be hot. Some areas will be cold. Lol. What percentage of latitude & longitude does USA sample? greater than your “1.5%”? Some will be hot, some will be cold lol.

    Actually not all areas of the U.S. experienced the 10 year cooling trend, so actually it is smaller than 1.5 %

  165. 165
    Virgil Cain says:

    If the CO2 claim is correct then there shouldn’t be any cooling trend in the US. There is plenty of CO2 covering the US.

  166. 166
    asauber says:

    “Actually not all areas of the U.S. experienced the 10 year cooling trend”

    I don’t think all areas of the globe experienced a warming trend either.

    Andrew

  167. 167
    velikovskys says:

    VC:
    And yet those cooler regions have the same CO2 content as the warmer areas. That alone should tell the alarmists that it isn’t the CO2 that is the issue.

    The cooler regions and the warmer regions have the same sun so it isn’t the sun that is the issue either.

  168. 168
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: Nice own goal, Zachriel.

    We’re not attempting to make “goals”. Rather, we provided data. CO2 is largely mixed, but there is some variation across the globe. Regional temperatures are influenced by many other factors, such as latitude, trade winds and the configuration of land masses.

  169. 169
    asauber says:

    “Regional temperatures are influenced by many other factors”

    But the Global Temperature is influenced by one factor?

    Right.

    Andrew

  170. 170
    Virgil Cain says:

    velikovskys:

    The cooler regions and the warmer regions have the same sun so it isn’t the sun that is the issue either.

    That same sun’s rays strike the earth at different angles for the different regions. And science has demonstrated that makes a difference in temperature.

  171. 171
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: But the Global Temperature is influenced by one factor?

    No. Causes of historical changes in global mean temperature have been due to changes in solar irradiance, orbital variations, natural differences in atmospheric content, volcanism, continental drift, changes in albedo, even the occasional cosmic impact.

  172. 172
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Regional temperatures are influenced by many other factors, such as latitude, trade winds and the configuration of land masses.

    Exactly what we have been saying and yet we get called “denialists”.

  173. 173
    asauber says:

    “Causes of historical changes in global mean temperature have been due to changes in solar irradiance, orbital variations, natural differences in atmospheric content, volcanism, continental drift, changes in albedo, even the occasional cosmic impact.”

    You’re almost there, Zachriel. Just remove the word ‘historical’ in the above quote.

    Andrew

  174. 174
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: That same sun’s rays strike the earth at different angles for the different regions.

    According to that naïve account, winters should be colder in London than Boston.

    asauber: Just remove the word ‘historical’ in the above quote.

    The current warming trend cannot be explained by those factors. For instance, the continents have not moved significantly in the last century. Only by including anthropogenic changes to the atmosphere can the data be explained.

  175. 175
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    According to that naïve account, …

    Science says that it isn’t a naive account. Perhaps you are naive.

    Why is the northern hemisphere in winter when the southern hemisphere is enjoying summer? HINT- The angle of the sun’s rays hitting the earth.

  176. 176
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    The current warming trend cannot be explained by those factors.

    And it cannot be explained by the small increase in CO2. It can be explained by natural variation, just as the peer-reviewed paper I posted says.

  177. 177
    asauber says:

    “The current warming trend cannot be explained by those factors.”

    Sure it can. You just stated it already has been.

    Andrew

  178. 178
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: Sure it can. You just stated it already has been.

    Misrepresenting someone’s view is called a straw man argument, a fallacy of diversion.

    Virgil Cain: And it cannot be explained by the small increase in CO2.

    A doubling of CO2 is hardly a small increase.

  179. 179
    velikovskys says:

    VC:
    That same sun’s rays strike the earth at different angles for the different regions. And science has demonstrated that makes a difference in temperature.

    So some regions would have more heat for the Co2 to trap.

  180. 180
    vjtorley says:

    jstanley01,

    Sounds like you didn’t even read the first paragraph of my post. Nowhere did I claim that God has given the Catholic Church the job of cleaning up the planet. Rather, I wrote:

    If God has given us a job to do of cleaning up the planet, then we had better not squander precious resources on impractical pipe-dreams, because every dollar wasted is a dollar that could have been spent on helping someone in need – and right now, there are billions who are in need.

    First, note the “if.” I was assuming for argument’s sake that global warming is not only real and man-made, but also dangerous. Even if that’s the case, I argued, we still have to eliminate world poverty first.

    Second, the “us” in the quote refers to the human race, not the Catholic Church.

    Finally, I gave ample space in my post to the opinions of lukewarmers like Dr. Matt Ridley, who think global warming is man-made and real, but not dangerous in the short-term (i.e. over the next few decades). (I’m a lukewarmer myself.) If the opinions of lukewarmers are too liberal for you to stomach, then I think you need to ask yourself: “How can I be sure that I’m right on this one?” There are very few scientists who would deny that at least half of the warming observed in the past 40 years is man-made. You could practically number them on the fingers of your hands.

  181. 181
    asauber says:

    “There are very few scientists who would deny that at least half of the warming observed in the past 40 years is man-made.”

    1. It’s one thing for a scientist to make claims about man-made global warming.

    2. It’s another for the science supporting that claim to be adequate for demonstrating the claim is true.

    We have 1 and not 2.

    Andrew

  182. 182
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: 2. It’s another for the science supporting that claim to be adequate for demonstrating the claim is true.

    There’s a lot of empirical evidence concerning anthropogenic climate change. The basic energy equation has been known for more than a century.

  183. 183
    asauber says:

    “There’s a lot of empirical evidence concerning anthropogenic climate change”

    This is a claim. (see 1)

    Got anything else? (see 2)

    Andrew

  184. 184
    asauber says:

    “There are very few scientists who would deny that at least half of the warming observed in the past 40 years is man-made.”

    And this is a blatant appeal to authority. The number of scientists make a claim true or false?

    This guy gets posting privs?

    Andrew

  185. 185
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    A doubling of CO2 is hardly a small increase.

    200 parts per MILLION is a small increase.

  186. 186
    Virgil Cain says:

    velikovskys:

    So some regions would have more heat for the Co2 to trap.

    CO2 doesn’t trap heat.

  187. 187
    velikovskys says:

    Vjt:
    If God has given us a job to do of cleaning up the planet

    Or at least leave it in as good a shape as we found it

    , then we had better not squander precious resources on impractical pipe-dreams

    assuming your conclusion, preventing major dislocations of coastal inhabitants does not seem as squandering precious resources

    because every dollar wasted is a dollar that could have been spent on helping someone in need – and right now, there are billions who are in need.

    And if climate hange is severe there will be more in need which could have been avoided.

    I think you need to ask yourself: “How can I be sure that I’m right on this one?” There are very few scientists who would deny that at least half of the warming observed in the past 40 years is man-made.

    How do you answer that question? That severe climate change is a pipe dream?

  188. 188
    Virgil Cain says:

    preventing major dislocations of coastal inhabitants does not seem as squandering precious resources

    Yet after the last ice age that is exactly what happened! The coastal regions were inundated with water and people had to move or die. That is the way it has been for many years- adapt or die.

    If people are too stupid to move then they get a Darwin award.

  189. 189
    velikovskys says:

    VC:

    CO2 doesn’t trap heat.

    “Carbon dioxide …., nearly transparent to light from the sun but absorbing and emitting infrared radiation at its two infrared-active vibrational frequencies “

  190. 190
    Virgil Cain says:

    velikovskys- Thank you for admitting CO2 does not trap heat.

    CO2 moves, thanks to the winds. The heat it radiates goes all over the place. It is not trapped.

  191. 191
    velikovskys says:

    VC:
    Yet after the last ice age that is exactly what happened!

    There were about 5,000,000 people then

    The coastal regions were inundated with water and people had to move or die. That is the way it has been for many years- adapt or die.

    Rather those who do not die will adapt

    If people are too stupid to move then they get a Darwin award.

    Congratulations

  192. 192
    Virgil Cain says:

    There were about 5,000,000 people then

    Thanks to the ice age. Warm is good. Cold is very bad.

    Congratulations

    Yes, hopefully soon my town will be ocean-front property. 🙂

  193. 193
    StephenB says:

    VJTorley

    There are very few scientists who would deny that at least half of the warming observed in the past 40 years is man-made. You could practically number them on the fingers of your hands.

    VJ, There seems to be a dispute over the basic sociological facts. Forbes magazine alludes to this report:

    “Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.”

    Indeed, I did quick Google search and found a list of 50 scientists (not a mere handful) who oppose the “mainstream scientific assessment of global warming.”

    Then, there is that meeting I alluded to earlier concerning the 680 “deniers” who attended the Heartland conference in New York.

    So, I am not really sure who believes what. Since much of your argument is based on the sociological element, I think we need to nail this down. Wouldn’t you agree?

  194. 194
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: This is a claim. (see 1).

    Yes. And this is evidence, “The basic energy equation has been known for more than a century.” See Arrhenius, On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground, London, Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science 1896.

    Virgil Cain: 200 parts per MILLION is a small increase.

    Monatomic and homonuclear diatomic molecules are virtually unaffected by infrared energy; consequently, nitrogen, oxygen and argon are not greenhouse gases. That means you can ignore the vast majority of the gas molecules in the atmosphere.

    Greenhouse gases, those that absorb and emit infrared radiation, include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone, each with its own thermal footprint. Carbon dioxide constitutes up to a fourth of the greenhouse effect. Small changes can have a significant effect on global mean surface temperature.

    StephenB: Forbes magazine alludes to this report:

    From the actual study, “adherents of those frames that are more defensive and oppose regulation (‘nature is overwhelming’, ‘economic responsibility’) are significantly more likely to be more senior in their organizations, male, older, geoscientists, and work in the oil and gas industry.”

    In other words, they’re not climate scientists, but make their money in fossil fuels.

  195. 195
    velikovskys says:

    vC:
    velikovskys- Thank you for admitting CO2 does not trap heat.

    “This process causes carbon dioxide to warm the surface and lower atmosphere and cool the upper atmosphere. ”

    Traps ,confines

    CO2 moves, thanks to the winds. The heat it radiates goes all over the place. It is not trapped.

    it seems it is confined to the surface and lower atmosphere , trapped,

  196. 196
    velikovskys says:

    asuber:
    I don’t think all areas of the globe experienced a warming trend either.

    Prove it.

  197. 197
    Virgil Cain says:

    velikovskys- CO2 would only trap the heat if it was all aligned such that it all radiated back to earth. In the real world the CO2 radiation goes all over, even up.

    And yes, CO2 is heavier than regular air so it tends to stay closer to the earth- gravity and all.

  198. 198
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Small changes can have a significant effect on global mean surface temperature.

    Small changes have small effects, if any. Water vapor dominates the greenhouse gases and desert climate proves it. The science says at most a 200 PPM increase of CO2 has an effect of hundredths to possibly a tenth of a degree C. And to boot it is all compared to some arbitrary “norm”.

  199. 199
    Andre says:

    Actually the ocean is a sink for CO2….. It is not trapped.

  200. 200
    butifnot says:

    Again CO2 is insignificant compared to water vapor. Again, the observed – not imagined – projected, change is not significant. From the very beginning of this nonsense political scare tactic the ‘science’ has been unfounded and tainted. You can read how those IPE whatever reports supposedly representing a huge number of scientists, were fraudulently steered by a small number of ideologues and just excluded anything they didn’t want. Again, no one has this figured out,and certainly not enough to make proclamations of any kind. Also, nature dwarfs mans contribution. Also, What warming? Seriously. And most of the supposed increase occurred before the increase in CO2. We have the heat island effect to thank for the terrestrial increase, while the advent of satellite measurements showed no trend. And on and on, and oh don’t forget email gate! They got caught, what more do you need.

  201. 201
    StephenB says:

    Zachriel

    From the actual study, “adherents of those frames that are more defensive and oppose regulation (‘nature is overwhelming’, ‘economic responsibility’) are significantly more likely to be more senior in their organizations, male, older, geoscientists, and work in the oil and gas industry.”

    This is from a link in the same report:

    “A survey of climatologists from more than 20 nations has revealed scientists are evenly split on whether humans are responsible for changes in global climate. The findings refute a widely reported study by a California “Gender and Science” professor who claimed that, based on her personal examination of 928 scientific papers on the issue, every single one reached the conclusion that global warming is real and primarily caused by humans.”

    However, if you implying that global warming “deniers” are motivated by money, you will lose with that gambit every time. No one is more greedy than the global warming alarmists, many of whom take from their slice of the 32 billion-dollar pie that the Feds have put out there for those who would study the “problem.” Those who don’t agree that there is a problem, don’t get their piece. That’s pretty easy to understand. And, of course, Al Gore, who is not even a scientist, is set to become the first a carbon billionaire by using the same scare tactics.

    I just hope that the Pope has been consulting with groups other than that politically-correct gaggle of cardinals that smother him daily.

  202. 202
    asauber says:

    “Prove it.”

    So this is how idiotic AGW promotion is/has become.

    Warmer Trolls demanding people prove things.

    Andrew

  203. 203
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: The science says at most a 200 PPM increase of CO2 has an effect of hundredths to possibly a tenth of a degree C.

    The direct effect of a doubling of CO2 is an increase in radiative forcing of 3.7 W/m² or about 1°C. This is thought to lead to increased water vapor in the atmosphere of 2-4°C. A number of different empirical studies support this figure.

    Volcanic forcing
    Wigley et al., Effect of climate sensitivity on the response to volcanic forcing, Journal of Geophysical Research 2005.

    Earth Radiation Budget Experiment
    Forster & Gregory, The Climate Sensitivity and Its Components Diagnosed from Earth Radiation Budget Data, Journal of Climate 2006.

    Paleoclimatic constraints
    Schmittner et al., Climate Sensitivity Estimated from Temperature Reconstructions of the Last Glacial Maximum, Science 2011.

    Bayesian probability
    Annan & Hargreaves, On the generation and interpretation of probabilistic estimates of climate sensitivity, Climate Change 2008.

    Review paper
    Knutti & Hegerl, The equilibrium sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to radiation changes, Nature Geoscience 2008.

    Andre: Actually the ocean is a sink for CO2….. It is not trapped.

    Currently, the oceans absorb about 1/4 of the excess CO2, leading to ocean acidification. See Quéré et al., The global carbon budget 1959–2011, Earth System Science Data 2012.

    butifnot: Again CO2 is insignificant compared to water vapor.

    Water vapor is responsible for up to 70% of the greenhouse effect, while CO2 is responsible for up to 25%. See Kiehl et al., Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 1997.

    More particularly, increased CO2 warms the Earth’s surface causing an increase in atmospheric water vapor. See Arrhenius, On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground, London, Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science 1896.

    StephenB: A survey of climatologists from more than 20 nations has revealed scientists are evenly split on whether humans are responsible for changes in global climate

    You really should avoid secondary sources.

    Bray, The scientific consensus of climate change revisited, Environmental Science & Policy 2010: “The consensus concerning manifestation rises until 2007 at which point it tends to level off at an approximate level of 90% agreement. Whether it can be attributed to anthropogenic causes (attribution) peaks in 2009 at approximately the same level of agreement as measured for manifestation.”

  204. 204
    Mung says:

    OT: Hi VJT. In hopes you’re still lurking.

    Perhaps you can seek out an opportunity to check this out:

    Aquinas’s Way to God: The Proof in De Ente et Essentia

  205. 205
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: And yes, CO2 is heavier than regular air so it tends to stay closer to the earth- gravity and all.

    That is incorrect. It does take a few years for CO2 to equalize between the northern and southern hemispheres, but otherwise sampling shows that CO2 is a well-mixed gas.

    Think about it. If the atmosphere were to separate as you suggest, then you would have “a layer cake atmosphere, ozone as a pastry base, CO2, then big thick slabs of oxygen and nitrogen, icing would be water vapour – all topped off with methane sprinkles.” — adelady 2010

  206. 206
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel, You are reading something into my post that isn’t there:

    If the atmosphere were to separate as you suggest,

    I didn’t suggest anything of the kind. I just know that CO2 is a heavy atmospheric gas. There was a case in which people built up the walls around a natural hot spring. They suffocated as the CO2 built up around them- it didn’t just escape into the open air above.

    Then there are dealy Urban CO2 Domes.

  207. 207
    StephenB says:

    Zachriel

    You really should avoid secondary sources.

    LOL: I have read the primary source. Not only did you read the wrong report, you misread the one you cited. The correct report is as follows:

    Title: The Not So Clear Consensus on Climate Change

    Dennis Bray

    [“In the results of a survey of climate scient
    ists conducted in 2003 [3] one question on the
    survey asked “To what extent do you agree or
    disagree that climate change is mostly the
    result of anthropogenic causes? A value of 1
    indicates “strongly agree” and a value of 7
    indicates “strongly disagree”]

    “These results, i.e. the mean of 3.62, seem to suggest that consensus is not all that strong and only 9.4% of the respondents “strongly agree” that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes. This is however, a slight rise in consensus of the same survey conducted in 1996 [4] that resulted in a mean of 4.1683 to the same question (Five countries – USA, Canada, Ge
    rmany, Italy, and Denmark only in 1996 survey, N = 511).

    In the 1996 survey only 5.7% of the valid
    responses “strongly agreed” that climate
    change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes.

    In fact, the results of the two surveys even question the Oreskes’ claim that the majority of climate scientists agree with the IPCC, although this has improved somewhat between 1996 and 2003.

    In the 1996 survey only 8.2% of the valid responses ‘strongly agreed’ with the statement that the IPCC reports accurately reflect the consensus of thought within the scientific community while in 2003 the number rose to 22.8%.”

    Translation: Climate scientists (in that time frame) are (were) evenly split on the question of man-made global warming. This is indicated by a mean score of 3.62

  208. 208
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: Then there are dealy Urban CO2 Domes.

    There’s a higher concentration of CO2 at the tailpipe of a car too. Yes, it takes time for CO2 to mix. The CO2 domes near cities are not because CO2 is heavy, but because cities are the source of the CO2 emissions.

    StephenB: I have read the primary source.

    Then you might have cited it.

    StephenB: “The Not So Clear Consensus on Climate Change”

    That title seems to just be a summary of another paper, “The Perspectives of Climate Scientists on Global Climate Change, 2003”, but that citation doesn’t include a publisher. In any case, we cited a more recent study by Bray, published by Environmental Science & Policy in 2010, and it indicates a growing consensus.

    This chart shows the rise in Bray’s results, including from the 2003 results (56%).
    http://www.zachriel.com/blog/consensus.jpg

  209. 209
    velikovskys says:

    velikovskys- CO2 would only trap the heat if it was all aligned such that it all radiated back to earth. In the real world the CO2 radiation goes all over, even up.

    Nope, it traps the amount which it radiates back to earth. No one said it traps all the infrared.

  210. 210
    velikovskys says:

    VC:

    Small changes have small effects, if any. Water vapor dominates the greenhouse gases and desert climate proves it. The science says at most a 200 PPM increase of CO2 has an effect of hundredths to possibly a tenth of a degree C. And to boot it is all compared to some arbitrary “norm”.

    I thought everything was super fine tuned, in a perfectly balanced system, small changes could have big effects

  211. 211
    velikovskys says:

    Andre:

    Actually the ocean is a sink for CO2….. It is not trapped.

    It isn’t in the atmosphere.

  212. 212
    velikovskys says:

    Asuber:

    So this is how idiotic AGW promotion is/has become.

    Warmer Trolls demanding people prove things.

    Sorry Andrew, if you make a claim you need to provide evidence for it. You did so you need to.

  213. 213
    asauber says:

    “if you make a claim you need to provide evidence for it”

    you said:

    “prove it”

    Two different things, Sherlock.

    Andrew

  214. 214
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: In the real world the CO2 radiation goes all over, even up.

    That’s right. When CO2 emits infrared radiation, some of the energy goes up, some goes down. In other words, without the absorption by molecules of CO2, the infrared radiation emitted by the ground would escape to space. Instead, some of it is sent back down. The effect is to slow the rate by which radiation leaves the surface.

  215. 215
    velikovskys says:

    if you make a claim you need to provide evidence for it”

    you said:

    “prove it”

    Two different things, Sherlock.

    Pick one.

  216. 216
    asauber says:

    “Pick one.”

    “Evidence”

    From comment 146:

    “America’s Most Advanced Climate Station Data Shows US In A 10-Year Cooling Trend:

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/06…..ing-trend/”

    Andrew

  217. 217
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    . The CO2 domes near cities are not because CO2 is heavy, but because cities are the source of the CO2 emissions.

    It’s the weight. If cars emitted helium there wouldn’t be any helium domes.

  218. 218
    Virgil Cain says:

    V:

    Nope, it traps the amount which it radiates back to earth.

    CO2 doesn’t trap any heat.

  219. 219
    vjtorley says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Thank you for your interesting comments. I definitely agree that we need to nail down the question of what scientists actually think about global warming.

    You wrote:

    “Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.”

    Indeed, I did quick Google search and found a list of 50 scientists (not a mere handful) who oppose the “mainstream scientific assessment of global warming.”

    Then, there is that meeting I alluded to earlier concerning the 680 “deniers” who attended the Heartland conference in New York.

    I’m quite sure there are hundreds, and perhaps thousands of scientists who oppose the “mainstream scientific assessment of global warming.” But that doesn’t mean that they would necessarily deny that most of the warming in the last 40 years has been man-made. They may simply be lukewarmers.

    Most of the climatologists I know who oppose the IPCC’s position are lukewarmers. As far as I know, many members of the Heartland are lukewarmers, too.

    Regarding what geoscientists think about global warming, you might like to have a look here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Earth_sciences

    I agree geologists (especially petroleum geologists) and meteorologists are among the scientists who are most skeptical warming. But I’d still be inclined to say, based on what I’ve read, that most geologists think humans play a strong role in recent global warming. Still, I may be wrong.

  220. 220
    Virgil Cain says:

    HT 55rebel:

    Strict application of physical laws admits no possibility that tiny proportions of gases like CO2 in our atmosphere cause backradiation that could heat up the surface and the atmosphere near it:

    From Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics

  221. 221
    Virgil Cain says:

    What is the expected warming rate when recovering from a cold period, ie ice age or little ice age?

    The evidence supports a cold period ending in the 19th century. We know it ended because it became noticeably warmer. And that is why there are peer-reviewed papers that say most of the warming is natural and expected.

  222. 222
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: It’s the weight.

    According to the paper you cited, Jacobson 2010, CO2 is a well-mixed gas. The CO2 that forms the dome is emitted close to the ground, but is carried aloft, then dispersed.

    Virgil Cain: CO2 doesn’t trap any heat.

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas and closes a hole in the infrared spectrum.
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.g.....orb_rt.gif

    Virgil Cain: Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics

    The blackbody temperature of the Earth is -18°C. The greenhouse effect warms the surface, but leaves the upper atmosphere cold.

    What climatologists overlook is that atmospheric pressure at the surface of Venus is 90 bar, and that it is this colossal pressure that determines the temperature.

    *Increasing* pressure increases temperature. A gas at high pressure will lose heat to the environment until it is at equilibrium.

    The blackbody temperature of Venus is significantly lower than that of Earth because of its high albedo.
    http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/pla.....sfact.html

    Virgil Cain: And that is why there are peer-reviewed papers that say most of the warming is natural and expected.

    Did you want to provide a citation?

  223. 223
    velikovskys says:

    VC:

    CO2 doesn’t trap any heat.

    Except for the heat that doesn’t escape.

  224. 224
    velikovskys says:

    asuber:
    America’s Most Advanced Climate Station Data Shows US In A 10-Year Cooling Trend:

    This one?

    ” The U.S. Climate Reference Network was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide “high-quality” climate data. The network consists of 114 stations across the U.S. in areas NOAA expects no development for the next 50 to 100 years”

    You trust climate scientists?

  225. 225
    Virgil Cain says:

    V:

    Except for the heat that doesn’t escape.

    What heat doesn’t escape? At 400 PPM CO2 doesn’t form much of a barrier.

  226. 226
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    According to the paper you cited, Jacobson 2010, CO2 is a well-mixed gas.

    It is still a heavy gas.

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas and closes a hole in the infrared spectrum.

    At 400 PPM it’s like a screen door on a submarine.

    The greenhouse effect warms the surface, but leaves the upper atmosphere cold.

    Yes, we know.

    *Increasing* pressure increases temperature.

    Are you saying the pressure on the surface of Venus has always been 90 bar?

    A gas at high pressure will lose heat to the environment until it is at equilibrium.

    It appears Venus is at equilibrium.

    Did you want to provide a citation?

    I did, above- 44. I can post others.

  227. 227
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: It is still a heavy gas.

    Your claim was that “CO2 is heavier than regular air so it tends to stay closer to the earth”. In fact, CO2 is a well-mixed gas per your own citation.

    Virgil Cain: Are you saying the pressure on the surface of Venus has always been 90 bar?

    Most probably for hundreds-of-millions of years.

    Virgil Cain: It appears Venus is at equilibrium.

    In which case, high pressure is not sufficient to explain the high surface temperatures.

    Virgil Cain: 44

    54

  228. 228
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Your claim was that “CO2 is heavier than regular air so it tends to stay closer to the earth”.

    It does.

    In fact, CO2 is a well-mixed gas per your own citation.

    Over time it becomes a well mixed gas. That is when it is the least effective.

    Most probably for hundreds-of-millions of years.

    That would be a “No”. Thank you.

    In which case, high pressure is not sufficient to explain the high surface temperatures.

    That doesn’t follow. The gas lost heat to the environment, ie the surface of Venus and now the gas and surface are the same temp.

    54

    Peer-review trumps you.

  229. 229
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: Over time it becomes a well mixed gas.

    Yes, the vast majority of CO2 in the atmosphere is mixed, not stratified.

    Virgil Cain: That doesn’t follow. The gas lost heat to the environment, ie the surface of Venus and now the gas and surface are the same temp.

    The atmosphere and surface are not at the same temperature. The temperature of the atmosphere varies from +460°C near the surface to -110°C at the top of the clouds.

  230. 230
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Yes, the vast majority of CO2 in the atmosphere is mixed, not stratified.

    And at 400 PPM it is ineffective when mixed.

    The temperature of the atmosphere varies from +460°C

    And what is the surface temp? 462 C?

  231. 231
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: And at 400 PPM it is ineffective when mixed.

    CO2 absorbs infrared even when mixed. Perhaps you could explain why you think otherwise.

    Virgil Cain: And what is the surface temp? 462 C?

    But the blackbody temperature is 184°K.

  232. 232
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    CO2 absorbs infrared even when mixed.

    At 400 ppm its effects are minimal. And given the differing alignments and the domination of water vapor, those effects are further minimized.

  233. 233
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: And given the differing alignments and the domination of water vapor, those effects are further minimized.

    The different spectral alignments is exactly why CO2 adds to the greenhouse effect of water vapor — it closes an open window. This has nothing to do with whether it is mixed or not.
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.g.....orb_rt.gif

  234. 234
    asauber says:

    “This one?”

    You asked me for evidence. I provided it.

    Andrew

  235. 235
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: You asked me for evidence. I provided it.

    So, just to clarify, you consider the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration a reliable source of evidence on climate?

  236. 236
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    The different spectral alignments…

    Heh.

  237. 237
    velikovskys says:

    vC

    What heat doesn’t escape? At 400 PPM CO2 doesn’t form much of a barrier.

    So you are saying it is a barrier which traps heat, just not much in your opinion.

  238. 238
    asauber says:

    “So, just to clarify, you consider the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration a reliable source of evidence on climate?”

    No. You Warmers do. So do you accept it as evidence?

    Andrew

  239. 239
    Virgil Cain says:

    velikovskys, With all due respect it is you and yours who are saying CO2 is some sort of a barrier that traps the heat. We are merely pointing out that at 400 PPM your barrier is like a screen door on a submarine.

  240. 240
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: We are merely pointing out that at 400 PPM your barrier is like a screen door on a submarine.

    A doubling of CO2 adds a radiative forcing of 3.7 w/m^2, which amounts to a 1°C increase in mean temperature.

  241. 241
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: No.

    You were asked for evidence and provided something you don’t consider reliable evidence.

  242. 242
    asauber says:

    “You were asked for evidence and provided something you don’t consider reliable evidence.”

    Correct. You consider it reliable evidence.

    Andrew

  243. 243
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: Correct.

    Perhaps it is different on your planet, but when someone asks for evidence in support of a proposition, it generally means to provide facts or information that can support the proposition. You’re calling something evidence you don’t think actually supports the proposition.

  244. 244
    asauber says:

    “You’re calling something evidence you don’t think actually supports the proposition.”

    You think the agency in question produces reliable evidence. So what’s your problem? You got the evidence you demanded. Is there something wrong with it?

    Andrew

  245. 245
    anthropic says:

    NASA’s newly launched CO2 measuring satellite, OCO2, has updated measurements of atmospheric CO2. The readings are far more thorough than previously was possible.

    http://news.discovery.com/eart.....141218.htm

    What’s interesting is that natural systems seem to swamp human made CO2 everywhere except in northern China. Even the US east coast has only moderately elevated CO2 levels.

  246. 246
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    A doubling of CO2 adds a radiative forcing of 3.7 w/m^2, which amounts to a 1°C increase in mean temperature.

    From 400 ppm to 800 ppm, maybe. All other things being equal, maybe. And only if all the CO2 was aligned such that all of its radiation went back towards earth.

  247. 247
    Zachriel says:

    asauber: You got the evidence you demanded.

    You’re saying it’s evidence while also saying it’s not evidence.

    anthropic: What’s interesting is that natural systems seem to swamp human made CO2 everywhere except in northern China.

    Not sure what you think it shows about natural systems, but at every point on the map, the level of CO2 if far beyond natural levels, including in the most southerly latitudes.

  248. 248
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: From 400 ppm to 800 ppm, maybe.

    Yes, that would be a doubling. It also would be a doubling from 270, the natural level, to 540. That represents an increase of about 3% in the greenhouse effect (ignoring amplification due to increased water vapor).

    Virgil Cain: And only if all the CO2 was aligned such that all of its radiation went back towards earth.

    The amount radiated up and down are about the same. (This assumes the atmosphere is isothermal. It’s not, so downward radiation is slightly more than upward radiation due to the temperature lapse rate.) Radiation is typically absorbed and re-radiated many times. The more often it is re-radiated, the longer it takes to exit the atmosphere, and the warmer the atmosphere is overall.

  249. 249
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    It also would be a doubling from 270, the natural level, to 540.

    Arbitrary natural level. I am sure that CO2 levels have been higher before we were around.

    The amount radiated up and down are about the same.

    Up, down, sideways, diagonals…

    The more often it is re-radiated, the longer it takes to exit the atmosphere, and the warmer the atmosphere is overall.

    Right, nights are warmer, which is good for agriculture. However that heat dissipates. Also deserts are still stone-cold at night and they have the same CO2 as other areas.

    The plants need CO2 and we need plants. The added CO2 has made the earth a greener place. It is a good thing. CO2 is not the problem.

  250. 250
    daveS says:

    The plants need CO2 and we need plants. The added CO2 has made the earth a greener place. It is a good thing. CO2 is not the problem.

    I guess we can therefore say that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is not a finely-tuned parameter.

  251. 251
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: Arbitrary natural level.

    Levels haven’t been above 400 ppm for millions of years.

    Virgil Cain: Also deserts are still stone-cold at night

    Deserts have warmed along with the rest of the globe.
    http://www.nasa.gov/images/con.....emp_lg.jpg

    Virgil Cain: The added CO2 has made the earth a greener place. It is a good thing. CO2 is not the problem.

    Current warming is not the problem, but projected warming.

  252. 252
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Levels haven’t been above 400 ppm for millions of years.

    So 270 is an arbitrary natural level. Thank you.

    Also deserts are still stone-cold at night

    Deserts have warmed along with the rest of the globe.
    http://www.nasa.gov/images/con…..emp_lg.jpg

    Look, Haley’s Comet! The desert NIGHTS are still stone cold.

    Current warming is not the problem, but projected warming.

    Projected warming is not the problem, but the projectionists.

  253. 253
    Virgil Cain says:

    daves:

    I guess we can therefore say that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is not a finely-tuned parameter.

    Holy Moley! We’re talkin’ parts per million here, daves.

  254. 254
    Box says:

    Zachriel: Current warming is not the problem, but projected warming.

    I have a hard time taking it all seriously. It sure doesn’t help that they can’t project tomorrow’s weather correctly.

  255. 255
    Virgil Cain says:

    Ohs noes Box! Get ready for the “weather isn’t climate” pontification.

  256. 256
    anthropic says:

    Z 247

    anthropic: What’s interesting is that natural systems seem to swamp human made CO2 everywhere except in northern China.

    Z: Not sure what you think it shows about natural systems, but at every point on the map, the level of CO2 if far beyond natural levels, including in the most southerly latitudes.
    ——————————————
    Not sure what I think? Who cares what I think? What the observational data shows is that most high atmospheric CO2 concentrations come from areas with little human contribution, such as the equatorial regions. Northern China is the one exception, which makes sense when you consider it puts out far more CO2 than any other nation.

  257. 257
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: So 270 is an arbitrary natural level.

    It’s not an arbitrary figure, but the value before the beginning of the industrial era when humans began emitting large quantities of CO2.

    Virgil Cain: Also deserts are still stone-cold at night

    Nighttime temperatures have increased.

    anthropic: What the observational data shows is that most high atmospheric CO2 concentrations come from areas with little human contribution, such as the equatorial regions.

    You apparently didn’t read the article you linked above.
    http://news.discovery.com/eart.....141218.htm

    South America and parts of Africa also show high CO2 levels, which scientists said is most likely due to burning fields and forest to clear them for agriculture.

    This isn’t conjecture. The CO2 map you provided is at the end of the burning season.
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.g.....hp?id=5800

  258. 258
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    It’s not an arbitrary figure, but the value before the beginning of the industrial era when humans began emitting large quantities of CO2.

    It’s arbitrary as no one knows what the correct amount of CO2 should be.

    Nighttime temperatures have increased.

    Did you want to provide a citation?

  259. 259
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: It’s arbitrary as no one knows what the correct amount of CO2 should be.

    Human civilization is adaptable, but rapid change in climate patterns and sea level will mean severe social disruption, as well as the irreplaceable loss of some of humanity’s natural inheritance.

  260. 260
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Human civilization is adaptable, but rapid change in climate patterns and sea level will mean severe social disruption, as well as the irreplaceable loss of some of humanity’s natural inheritance.

    Well Greenland and Antarctica will open up meaning there will be a gain of natural inheritance. A passageway through the Arctic will save energy.

    AND my town may become an ocean-front town! We like that.

    But anyway soot on snow and ice cause them to melt even when the ambient temperature is below freezing. CO2 is not the problem.

  261. 261
    Zachriel says:

    Zachriel: Nighttime temperatures have increased.

    Virgil Cain: Did you want to provide a citation?

    See Alexander et al., Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation, Journal of Geophysical Research 2006.

    Virgil Cain: Well Greenland and Antarctica will open up meaning there will be a gain of natural inheritance.

    We were referring to species extinction.

    The problem with saying Greenland will open up doesn’t resolve the problem of millions being dislocated from Florida or Bangladesh. The disruption in agricultural will exacerbate the problem, causing more migration. Mass migration will mean increased social and political tension.

    People can and will adapt, but not without a cost, a much higher cost than simply avoiding additional damage to the climate.

  262. 262
    daveS says:

    VC,

    Well Greenland and Antarctica will open up meaning there will be a gain of natural inheritance. A passageway through the Arctic will save energy.

    I’m sure it will do wonders for agriculture and the forest products industry in the US. We’ll just have to rebuild our infrastructure from scratch, but what the hey.

    AND my town may become an ocean-front town! We like that.

    kek. That’s what would happen in the Roadrunner cartoon version. It might be a little less pleasant than you imagine.

  263. 263
    Zachriel says:

    DaveS: It might be a little less pleasant than you imagine.

    For one thing, it would mean everyone from his property to the current ocean-front has been dislocated. Hordes!
    http://pistolcombatives.files......itled2.jpg

  264. 264
    velikovskys says:

    asauber:

    You think the agency in question produces reliable evidence. So what’s your problem? You got the evidence you demanded. Is there something wrong with it?

    Yes. No problem at all. Thank you, Nothing. It is just interesting you would use evidence you consider a false to support your claim. Basically you are undermining your claim by your claim that your evidence is false.

  265. 265
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    See Alexander et al., Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation, Journal of Geophysical Research 2006.

    It didn’t cover the desert nights and having been to several deserts recently I know they are stone-cold at night.

    We were referring to species extinction.

    We know that species go extinct if they cannot adapt. Such is life.

    The problem with saying Greenland will open up doesn’t resolve the problem of millions being dislocated from Florida or Bangladesh.

    As if you care. People have been dislocated in the past. It is part of our destiny.

    The disruption in agricultural will exacerbate the problem, causing more migration. Mass migration will mean increased social and political tension.

    Agriculture is mainly in the plains.

    People can and will adapt, but not without a cost, a much higher cost than simply avoiding additional damage to the climate.

    Your chicken-little alarmism, while entertaining, causes more problems than you know.

  266. 266
    Virgil Cain says:

    daves:

    I’m sure it will do wonders for agriculture and the forest products industry in the US. We’ll just have to rebuild our infrastructure from scratch, but what the hey.

    Rebuilding means jobs and we have to re-do our infrastructure anyway as it is old and worn out.

    That’s what would happen in the Roadrunner cartoon version. It might be a little less pleasant than you imagine.

    Well if it won’t happen then why the worries? And it might be very pleasant and enjoyable.

  267. 267
    velikovskys says:

    VC:
    velikovskys, With all due respect it is you and yours who are saying CO2 is some sort of a barrier that traps the heat

    Actually you said it ”
    At 400 PPM CO2 doesn’t form much of a barrier.

    We are merely pointing out that at 400 PPM your barrier is like a screen door on a submarine.

    Perhaps but it seems we now agree the CO2 traps infrared radiation .

  268. 268
    daveS says:

    VC,

    And it might be very pleasant and enjoyable.

    That’s a very well-thought-out plan.

  269. 269
    Virgil Cain says:

    V:

    Perhaps but it seems we now agree the CO2 traps infrared radiation .

    If that is what it seems like to you then you are beyond reason. Good luck with that.

  270. 270
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: It didn’t cover the desert nights and having been to several deserts recently I know they are stone-cold at night.

    Yes, it’s cold at the South Pole too. For a specific example, see Redmond, Historic Climate Variability in the Mojave Desert in “The Mojave Desert: Ecosystem Processes and Sustainability” edited by Webb et al, University of Nevada Press 2009. Or this:
    http://www.warwickhughes.com/agri14/nnths.gif

    Virgil Cain: We know that species go extinct if they cannot adapt. Such is life.

    Sure, and if a giant meteor hits the Earth everyone dies. Meanwhile, most people do better in a world which is ecologically stable.

    Virgil Cain: People have been dislocated in the past. It is part of our destiny.

    At least now we know how little you are concerned with the well-being of human beings. To each their own.

    Virgil Cain: Agriculture is mainly in the plains.

    Agriculture occurs in many different climates. A rapidly changing climate means dislocation.

  271. 271
    Virgil Cain says:

    daves- It isn’t a plan because your scare tactic scenario will never come about.

  272. 272
    velikovskys says:

    VC:
    It didn’t cover the desert nights and having been to several deserts recently I know they are stone-cold at night.

    Which deserts?

    People have been dislocated in the past. It is part of our destiny.

    People died of cancer in the past, why should we waste money trying to cure it? It is their destiny to die of cancer.

  273. 273
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Yes, it’s cold at the South Pole too.

    You “debate” like a little baby. Is that the image you were shooting for?

    Sure, and if a giant meteor hits the Earth everyone dies.

    Better do something to prevent it then!

    Meanwhile, most people do better in a world which is ecologically stable.

    Right and moving back and forth between ice ages is stable?

    At least now we know how little you are concerned with the well-being of human beings.

    At least we know how little you care about logic and reason.

    Agriculture occurs in many different climates.

    Yes, we know. However that doesn’t respond to what you were responding to.

    A rapidly changing climate means dislocation.

    Then it seems our climate is not rapidly changing.

  274. 274
    Virgil Cain says:

    V:

    Which deserts?

    Arabian, Mojave, Sahara- to name three.

    People died of cancer in the past, why should we waste money trying to cure it?

    That doesn’t follow from what I posted.

  275. 275
    velikovskys says:

    VC:

    If that is what it seems like to you then you are beyond reason.


    “At 400 PPM CO2 doesn’t form much of a barrier”.

    Good luck with that.

    Thanks,you too.

  276. 276
    Virgil Cain says:

    velikovskys- You have reading comprehension issues. YOU people say it is a barrier, just as I posted. I am just using your words.

  277. 277
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: Right and moving back and forth between ice ages is stable?

    The rate of natural climate change is much slower than the current rate of change.

  278. 278
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    The rate of natural climate change is much slower than the current rate of change.

    Non-sequitur.

  279. 279
    velikovskys says:

    VC:
    Arabian, Mojave, Sahara- to name three.

    Favorite?


    That doesn’t follow from what I posted.

    You deny that people have died of cancer in the past? Or that dying of cancer was their destiny?

  280. 280
    Virgil Cain says:

    V:

    Favorite?

    I like turtles.

    You deny that people have died of cancer in the past?

    Tuesday is not good for me.

  281. 281
    velikovskys says:

    VC:
    velikovskys- You have reading comprehension issues. YOU people say it is a barrier, just as I posted. I am just using your words.

    I said it traps the heat. maybe what confused me is the qualifier” At 400 ppm” that seems to imply at some levels it would be a barrier. Sorry, you believe at no level does CO2 have an effect on temperature. Too bad

  282. 282
    Virgil Cain says:

    velikovskys- There is a huge difference between trapping heat and having an effect on temperature. From your responses it seems your only purpose is to misrepresent with intent to provoke.

    Sad, really.

  283. 283
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: Non-sequitur.

    It’s quite relevant. The rate of climate change determines how fast humans and other organisms must adapt, and the cost.

    Virgil Cain: There is a huge difference between trapping heat and having an effect on temperature.

    There’s a relationship between heat and temperature.
    Q = mc delta_T

    In any case, CO2 traps heat as it closes a window in the emission spectrum.
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.g.....orb_rt.gif

  284. 284
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    It’s quite relevant. The rate of climate change determines how fast humans and other organisms must adapt, and the cost.

    The current rate is fine. It will not continue unabated even if we do nothing.

    The rate of change for the Black Sea basin dwellers was very rapid and natural.

    There’s a relationship between heat and temperature.

    Yes, there is. We never said anything to the contrary.

    CO2 doesn’t trap the heat. The heat still escapes. Greenhouse gases just slow down the heat’s escape. And that is a good thing or else we would all be burning oil, wood, dung, etc., at night.

  285. 285
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: It will not continue unabated even if we do nothing.

    Humans are doing something. They are emitting greenhouse gases.

    Virgil Cain: The rate of change for the Black Sea basin dwellers was very rapid and natural.

    You’ve already indicated your lack of concern for human suffering. To each their own. However, unrestrained climate change will be detrimental to humans and other organisms.

    Virgil Cain: Greenhouse gases just slow down the heat’s escape.

    The slow down of heat transferal means the temperature increases until equilibrium is reestablished at the higher temperature.

  286. 286
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Humans are doing something. They are emitting greenhouse gases.

    We need greenhouse gases. And plants need the greenhouse gas we emit and we need plants. It’s all good.

    You’ve already indicated your lack of concern for human suffering.

    And you have indicated that you are subhuman and incapable of reading for comprehension.

    However, unrestrained climate change will be detrimental to humans and other organisms.

    Ice ages and cold periods do that.

    The slow down of heat transferal means the temperature increases until equilibrium is reestablished at the higher temperature.

    CO2 does not trap heat.

    Comment 52 is for you.

  287. 287
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: Billions and billions of tiny little angels.

    We were using the term theory in the scientific sense.

    Mapou: Nobody knows the mechanism of gravity

    Newton certainly didn’t, but he still proposed a scientific theory of gravity. Einstein proposed another scientific theory that explained gravity as due to the curvature of space.

    SteRusJon: At the time, wave propagation was understood to require a medium.

    Yes, because those were the waves they were familiar with. However, it still didn’t add anything to the theory. It was an extraneous entity, so could be ignored. You can’t ignore the effects that cause the anomalous rotation of galaxies.

    SteRusJon: not interested in any non-mainstream proposals whatsoever.

    We’re always interested in alternative theories, but no one has proposed anything close to a workable theory that doesn’t entail some sort of distributed matter exerting a gravitational pull.

    SteRusJon: These guys think that an undetected entity with unknown properties and unknown origin can be shown to have just the right distribution to solve the problem presented by the anomalous behavior.

    They do posit a property, gravitational attraction to matter.

    SteRusJon: Warping of space under relativity is nothing more than an interpretation of the equations that allow greater precision than Newton’s equations could provide.

    It also leads to accurate predictions of gravitational lensing, among other phenomena.

    SteRusJon: All we really have is equations that allow us to calculate with some precision what will happen in the world at some future time.

    Yeah. It’s called a scientific theory.

  288. 288
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: We need greenhouse gases.

    Sure. Without greenhouse gases, the Earth would be quite chilly.

    Virgil Cain: And plants need the greenhouse gas we emit and we need plants.

    Plants were doing fine with the previous levels of CO2. The rapidly changing climate will make it difficult for many natural species, and for agriculture as well.

    Virgil Cain: CO2 does not trap heat.

    Atmospheric CO2 warms the surface. Without CO2, the Earth would be much cooler than it is.

    Virgil Cain: Comment 52 is for you: Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics

    Seriously? It’s easy to calculate the blackbody temperature of the Earth. Without the greenhouse effect, the Earth wouldn’t be the balmy +15°C that it is.

  289. 289
    anthropic says:

    anthropic: What the observational data shows is that most high atmospheric CO2 concentrations come from areas with little human contribution, such as the equatorial regions.

    You apparently didn’t read the article you linked above.
    http://news.discovery.com/eart…..141218.htm

    South America and parts of Africa also show high CO2 levels, which scientists said is most likely due to burning fields and forest to clear them for agriculture.

    This isn’t conjecture. The CO2 map you provided is at the end of the burning season.
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.g…..hp?id=5800
    ——————————————————

    So it was burning season in the middle of the Indian Ocean, too? LOL!

    By the way, if burning wood is such a great contributor to CO2, what impact will much higher oil, coal, and electricity prices have? Do you think folks, especially in Third World countries, might turn to wood to cook & heat?

    Heck, even Germany couldn’t stand high priced energy and is reverting to burning lignite, the dirtiest but cheapest coal. What do you think will happen in poorer countries?

    Do the words “unintended consequences” ring a bell?

  290. 290
    Zachriel says:

    anthropic: So it was burning season in the middle of the Indian Ocean, too?

    It’s called wind. Notice how it stretches across the latitude following the trade winds.

    anthropic: By the way, if burning wood is such a great contributor to CO2, what impact will much higher oil, coal, and electricity prices have?

    CO2 is cumulative in the atmosphere.

  291. 291
    velikovskys says:

    velikovskys- There is a huge difference between trapping heat and having an effect on temperature.

    In the case of CO2 it does the former by the latter ” Greenhouse gases just slow down the heat’s escape.”

    From your responses it seems your only purpose is to misrepresent with intent to provoke.

    It was your words, I missed your ironic tone

    Tuesday is not good for me.

    Let’s hope it is not your destiny.

  292. 292
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Plants were doing fine with the previous levels of CO2

    No, they weren’t. Today the earth is much greener thanks to CO2.

    The rapidly changing climate will make it difficult for many natural species, and for agriculture as well.

    What rapidly changing climate?

    Atmospheric CO2 warms the surface.

    LoL! The Sun warms the surface. Then that heat radiates away and if it comes upon CO2 that CO2 vibrates and radiates that heat in some direction.

    Without CO2, the Earth would be much cooler than it is.

    Without CO2 the plants would die and we would follow.

    Seriously?

    Seriously- why do you keep ignoring it as if it will go away? What are you so afraid of?

  293. 293
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: Today the earth is much greener thanks to CO2.

    Scientists have long thought that more CO2 would increase photosynthesis. In particular, arid climates have seen significant increases in plant growth, along with a reduction in water usage. See Donohue et al., Impact of CO2 fertilization on maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments, Geophysical Research Letters 2013. Unfortunately, plants aren’t capable of taking up all the excess CO2.

    Virgil Cain: What rapidly changing climate?

    See Smith et al., Near-term acceleration in the rate of temperature change, Nature 2014: “We find that present trends in greenhouse-gas and aerosol emissions are now moving the Earth system into a regime in terms of multi-decadal rates of change that are unprecedented for at least the past 1,000 years.”

    Virgil Cain: The Sun warms the surface. Then that heat radiates away and if it comes upon CO2 that CO2 vibrates and radiates that heat in some direction.

    That’s right, and some of the time, that direction is towards the ground.

    Virgil Cain: Seriously- why do you keep ignoring it as if it will go away? {Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics }

    We didn’t ignore it, but responded twice previously.

    If there were no greenhouse effect, the Earth would be much cooler than it is. That can be determined by calculating the graybody temperature of the Earth. Your linked article has other obvious problems as noted above.

  294. 294
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Unfortunately, plants aren’t capable of taking up all the excess CO2.

    It would be unfortunate if they did.

    “We find that present trends in greenhouse-gas and aerosol emissions are now moving the Earth system into a regime in terms of multi-decadal rates of change that are unprecedented for at least the past 1,000 years.”

    Cuz data was so reliable and accurate from back then.

    That’s right, and some of the time, that direction is towards the ground.

    At 400 PPM to start and paring that down, the effects just keep dwindling away.

    We didn’t ignore it, but responded twice previously.

    And you didn’t make any sense either time. Perhaps you should contact the author and he will correct you.

    If there were no greenhouse effect, the Earth would be much cooler than it is.

    We know. That is why it is absolutely crazy to even attempt to regulate them at a parts per million level.

  295. 295
    Virgil Cain says:

    The earth’s warm periods coincide with human prosperity. We are all for that and yet we are said to have no concern for human suffering. We have a great concern for human suffering and do not want to see a return to any cold periods, which would cause suffering on a mass scale when we are unable to feed ourselves due to the lack of agriculture.

  296. 296
    Box says:

    Easterbrook: CO2 cannot possibly cause global warming. The reason is that there is so little of it; it is a trace gas; it has increased in its atmospheric content by 8 one-thousandths of 1 percent. If you double nothing, you still get nothing.

    Here.

  297. 297
    wd400 says:

    Box, does that seem like a solid argument to you?

  298. 298
    bornagain77 says:

    “does that seem like a solid argument to you?”

    asks the reigning king of weak arguments! 🙂

  299. 299
    Box says:

    WD400 #297,

    As solid as it comes. And from an excellent source.

    What is your take on it?

  300. 300
    Mung says:

    but wd400, isn’t it true that if you double nothing you still have nothing? 😉

  301. 301
    wd400 says:

    Box,

    I think it is laughable, and also incompatible with the other “skeptical” trope that more CO2 will be good for plants.

  302. 302
    Box says:

    WD400 #301,

    You think it’s laughable why exactly? Do you hold that an atmospheric content increase of CO2 by 8 one-thousandths of 1 percent is obviously a lot?
    And why is it incompatible with the idea that more CO2 will be good for plants? And how is that relevant?

  303. 303
    wd400 says:

    CO2 concentration has increased by about 40% since 1850. The fact that not much of the atmosphere is CO2 is really neither here nor their when we can measure the effect of CO2.

    To you second point. If a rise is too small to have an effect it’s too small to have a beneficial effect too, surely? It’s relevant because it makes two common “sketpical” arguments incompatible

  304. 304
    Virgil Cain says:

    To you second point. If a rise is too small to have an effect it’s too small to have a beneficial effect too, surely?

    The plants have noticed as the earth is greener now than it was in 1850.

  305. 305
    wd400 says:

    Try telling Box that, Joe. He thinks there isn’t enough CO2 to make a difference.

  306. 306
    Virgil Cain says:

    Try reading for comprehension as Box was only talking about its effect on the climate.

  307. 307
    Box says:

    Climate Depot

    Climate Claim: “The planet ranged well outside of normal levels in 2013, hitting new records for greenhouse gases.”

    Dr. Easterbrook comment: “NOT TRUE–CO2 levels for the past 500 million years were consistently greater than 3,000 ppm. 400 ppm is abnormally low.

    Climate Claim: “The levels of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii hit 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2013. The worldwide average reached 395.3 ppm, a 2.8 ppm increase from 2012, NOAA reports. (Parts per million denotes the volume of a gas in the air; in this case, for every 1 million air molecules, 400 are carbon dioxide.)”

    Dr. Easterbrook comment: “The CO2 composition of the atmosphere changed by only 0.004% since the onset of recent global warming (1978-2000).”

    Climate Claim: “The major greenhouse gases all reached new record high values in 2013,” said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist with ERT, Inc., and a NOAA contractor who helped write the report.

    Dr. Easterbrook comment: “So what? If you double nothing (0.004%), you still have nothing!”

  308. 308
    daveS says:

    Feh. Like these tenured profs are trustworthy?

  309. 309
    Mung says:

    It is simply not possible to double nothing. Taking half of nothing, now that is a different matter altogether.

  310. 310
    wd400 says:

    Box — Easterbrook is either being sloppy or misleading. The concentration has changed ~0.004 percentage points since 1978. It was ~335 ppm then , and ~403 today which is a ~21% increase.

    All that’s left of Easterbrook’s argument is that CO2 doesn’t make up much of the atmosphere, which you must admit is a crumby argument?

  311. 311
    E.Seigner says:

    In all this long article, the only argument seems to be “maybe we haven’t polluted the earth so bad as to deserve self-restraint”. Is this a Christian attitude? Is this a Catholic attitude? It certainly isn’t the Pope’s view:

    POLLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE

    The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.

    http://w2.vatican.va/content/f.....to-si.html

  312. 312
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Do you hold that an atmospheric content increase of CO2 by 8 one-thousandths of 1 percent is obviously a lot?

    From 270 ppm to 400 ppm is a difference of about 13 one-thousandths of 1% of atmospheric content. In any case, a doubling of CO2 from 270 ppm to 540 ppm is sufficient to increase the direct CO2 greenhouse contribution by about 3% resulting in an increase in global mean temperature of about 1°C, or about 0.3% in absolute temperature.

    Easterbrook: “NOT TRUE–

    The statistic is referring to the instrumental record.

    Easterbrook: CO2 levels for the past 500 million years were consistently greater than 3,000 ppm. 400 ppm is abnormally low.

    While certainly true, CO2 has been below 400 ppm for millions of years, which includes the entire course of human evolution, most especially since the advent of civilization. Humans wouldn’t want to suddenly find themselves in a world without ice caps, for instance.

    Easterbrook: The CO2 composition of the atmosphere changed by only 0.004% since the onset of recent global warming (1978-2000).”

    CO2 has increased by about half since the beginning of the industrial era, from 270 ppm to 400 ppm, which is an increase of 13 one-thousandths of 1% of atmospheric content.

    Easterbrook: “So what? If you double nothing (0.004%), you still have nothing!”

    So Easterbrook PhD doesn’t understand math.

    Mung: It is simply not possible to double nothing.

    2*0 is a well-defined mathematical expression.

  313. 313
    Box says:

    Zachriel: CO2 has been below 400 ppm for millions of years, which includes the entire course of human evolution, most especially since the advent of civilization.

    Nope. A peer-reviewed study (2013) found that the present day carbon dioxide level of 400 ppm was exceeded — without any human influence — 12,750 years ago when CO2 may have reached up to 425 ppm.

  314. 314
    Zachriel says:

    Box: A peer-reviewed study (2013) found that the present day carbon dioxide level of 400 ppm was exceeded — without any human influence — 12,750 years ago when CO2 may have reached up to 425 ppm.

    Thanks. Interesting result. Notice that the conclusion of the paper is that CO2 is more important than previously thought, not less, and is part of reaching a tipping point. They conclude, “With [CO2] emerging as a major component in rapid climate change, not least including the current climate change, the need for high-resolution [CO2] records recording short-term oscillations as well as longer-term trends is undeniable.

    We’ll modify our statement accordingly. CO2 levels have not been as high as they are now since the advent of settled agriculture (and probably not much higher in millions of years).

  315. 315
    wd400 says:

    This is fast becoming a Gish Gallop box. You don’t seem and to defend Easterbrooks argument, can you admit it’s a pretty terrible one?

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