Another Assessment of Hansen’s Predictions

The Blackboard has done a bit more work to do a better assessment of Hansen’s forecast to Congress 20 years ago on global warming than I did in this quick and dirty post here.  To give Hansen every possible chance, the author has evaluated Hansen’s forecast against Hansen’s preferred data set, the surface temperature measurements of the Hadley Center and his own GISS  (left to other posts will be irony of a scientist at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies at NASA preferring klunky surface temperature measurements over satellite measurements, but the surface measurements are biased upwards and so give Hansen a better shot at being correct with his catastrophic warming forecasts).

Here is the result of their analysis:


All three forecasts are high. 

Don’t be too encouraged at Hansen’s prediction power when you observe the yellow line is not too far off. The yellow line represented a case where there was a radical effort to reduce CO2, something we have not seen.  Note that these are not different cases for different climate sensitivities to CO2 — my reading of Hansen’s notes is that these all use the same sensitivity, just with different CO2 production forecast inputs. In fact, based on our actual CO2 ouput in the last 20 years, we should use a case between the orange and the red to evaluate Hansen’s predictive ability.

Great Moments In Alarmism

Apparently a number of papers are "commemorating" today the 20th anniversary of James Hansen’s speech before Congress warning of catastrophic man-made global warming.  So let’s indeed commemorate it.  Here is the chart from the appendices of Hansen’s speech showing his predictions for man-made global warming:


I have helpfully added in red the actual temperature history, as measured by satellite, over the last 20 years (and scale-shifted to match the base anomaly in Hansens graph).  Yes, 2008 has been far colder than 1988.  We have seen no warming trend in the last 10 years, and temperatures have undershot every one of Hansen’s forecasts.  He thought the world would be a degree C warmer in 20 years, and it is not.  Of course, today, he says the world will warm a degree in the next 20 years — the apocalypse never goes away, it just recesses into the future.

This may explain why Hansen’s GISS surface temperature measurements are so much higher than everyone else’s, and keep getting artificially adjusted upwards:  Hansen put himself way out on a limb, and now is using the resources of the GISS to try to create warming in the metrics where none exist to validate his forecasts of Apocalypse. 

By the way, if you want more insight into the "science" led by James Hansen, check out this post from Steve McIntyre on his trying to independently reproduce the GISS temperature aggregation methodology. 

Here are some more notes and scripts in which I’ve made considerable progress on GISS Step 2. As noted on many occasions, the code is a demented mess – you’d never know that NASA actually has software policies (e.g. here or here . I guess that Hansen and associates regard themselves as being above the law. At this point, I haven’t even begum to approach analysis of whether the code accomplishes its underlying objective. There are innumerable decoding issues – John Goetz, an experienced programmer, compared it to descending into the hell described in a Stephen King novel. I compared it to the meaningless toy in the PPM children’s song – it goes zip when it moves, bop when it stops and whirr when it’s standing still. The endless machinations with binary files may have been necessary with Commodore 64s, but are totally pointless in 2008.

Because of the hapless programming, it takes a long time and considerable patience to figure out what happens when you press any particular button. The frustrating thing is that none of the operations are particularly complicated.

Hansen, despite being paid by US Taxpayers and despite all regulations on government science, refused for years to even release this code for inspection by outsiders and to this day resists helping anyone trying to reproduce his mysterious methodologies.

Which in some ways is all irrelevent anyway, since surface temperature measurement is flawed for so many reasons (location biases, urban heat islands, historical discontinuities, incomplete coverage) that satellite temperature measurement makes far more sense, which is why I used it above.  Of course, there is one person who fights hard against use of this satellite methodology.  Ironically, this person fighting use of space technology is … James Hansen, of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies of NASA!  In our next episode, the head of the FCC will be actively fighting for using the telegraph over radio and TV.

Today’s Exercise

Using this chart from the NOAA:


Explain how midwestern flooding in 2008 is due to global warming.  For those who wish to make the argument that global temperatures, not just US temperatures, matter because the world is one big interelated climate system, you may use this chart of global temperatures instead in your explanation:


For extra credit, also blame 2008 spike in tornadoes on global warming.  Thanks for charts to Anthony Watt.

Savanarola Apparently Working for NASA

In 1497, Savonarola tried to end the Italian Renaissance in a massive pyre of books and artwork (the Bonfire of the Vanities).  The Renaissance was about inquiry and optimism, neither of which had much appeal to  Savonarola, who thought he had all the answers he needed in his apocalyptic vision of man.  For him, how the world worked, and particularly the coming apocalypse, was "settled science" and any questioning of his world view was not only superfluous, it was evil.

Fortunately, while the enlightenment was perhaps delayed (as much by the French King and the Holy Roman Emperor as by Savonarola), it mans questing nature was not to be denied.

But now, the spirit of Savonarola has returned, in the guise of James Hansen, a man who incredibly calls himself a scientist.  Mr. Hansen has decided that he is the secular Savonarola, complete with apocalyptic predictions and a righteousness that allows no dissent:

“James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress – in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming – to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the “perfect storm” of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.”

It will be interesting to see if any champions of free speech on the left can work up the energy to criticize Hansen here.  What we have is a government official threatening prosecution and jail time for Americans who exercise their free speech rights.  GWB, rightly, would never get a pass on this.  Why does Hansen?

The Power of Government Schools

What does a good government technocrat do when the public does not support his expensive vision?  Why, he uses the power of the government education monopoly to try to do a little indocrination.  This is the summary from the climate education bill as proposed by Barrack Obama:

Climate Change Education Act – Requires the Director of the National Science Foundation to establish a Climate Change Education Program to: (1) broaden the understanding of climate change, possible long and short-term consequences, and potential solutions; (2) apply the latest scientific and technological discoveries to provide learning opportunities to people; and (3) emphasize actionable information to help people understand and to promote implementation of new technologies, programs, and incentives related to energy conservation, renewable energy, and greenhouse gas reduction.
Requires such Program to include: (1) a national information campaign to disseminate information on and promote implementation of the new technologies, programs, and incentives; and (2) a competitive grant program to provide grants to states, municipalities, educational institutions, and other organizations to create materials relevant to climate change and climate science, develop climate science kindergarten through grade 12 curriculum and supplementary educational materials, or publish climate change and climate science information.
This helps to explain why Obama opposes school choice — because he sees the government schools not just as an education establishment, but as a re-education tool.

CBS Walks Away From Story Claiming Global Warming is Increasing Earthquakes

That fabled multiple-levels-of-editorial-review is at work again at CBS, this time with the story heaadlined "Seismic Activity 5 Times More Energetic Than 20 Years Ago Because Of Global Warming."  Now, only a journalism major who had assiduously avoided taking any science and math classes in his/her life could have possibly found this reasonable.  Half degee changes in atmospheric temperatures are hardly likely to affect seismic activity (the subject of the article, Dr. Tom Chalko, has also written that global warming might make the Earth explode).  Had CBS actually approached any other scientist in the world in any specialization for some kind of comment on the article, they would have likely been told that it made no sense.  But, of course, MSM editorial policy is not to ask for dissenting views in global warming alarmism articles.

Well, it appears CBS has walked away from the story without comment.  Anthony Watt has the whole story, including screen caps of the original article. 

This is Just Pathetic

I could probably fill this blog with examples of fact-challenged alarmism, but this one is so easy to debunk it is just staggering.  I am going to make the dangerous assumptions that the WWF is not just outright lying.  If that is true, this is a great example of how popular perception and hysteria substitute for facts and observations.  The WWF is just so convinced this is going on, no one even bothers to check to see if it is true.  First the story, from here, via Tom Nelson:

According to a recent report, endangered migratory whales will have reduced feeding areas due to the shrinkage of Antarctic sea ice from global warming.

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) said this could threaten the species. The report, “Ice Breaker – Pushing the boundaries for Whales” says whales will soon have to travel up to 310 miles further south in search of food because the ice will retreat up to 30 percent in some areas.

The study also says the whales’ food supply will be further reduced because of the balance between cold sea ice and warmer sea water which causes an up swelling of nutrients that could further contract.

WWF officer Heather Sohl said, "Essentially, what we are seeing is that ice-associated whales such as the Antarctic minke whale will face dramatic changes to their habitat over little more than the lifespan of an individual whale."

OK, two problems with this.  First, the even the IPCC predicts Antarctic ice to grow, not shrink, even under a strong global warming case.  Note the Antarctic is below zero, actually contributing to a sea level drop and mitigating Greenland melting.

And, there is that problem of reality introding, because in fact Antarctica has been hitting 30-year highs for sea ice extent over the past year:


I will leave it to y’all in the comments to decide if they are outright lying or if they are just ignorant.

We are so Confident of our Positon that We Refuse to Tolerate Debate

Via Tom Nelson, this guy is certainly a fine example of enlightened scientific discourse:

Climate "skepticism" is not a morally defensible position. The debate is over, and it’s been over for quite some time, especially on this blog.

We will delete comments which deny the absolutely overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, just as we would delete comments which questioned the reality of the Holocaust or the equal mental capacities and worth of human beings of different ethnic groups. Such "debates" are merely the morally indefensible trying to cover itself in the cloth of intellectual tolerance.

Wow.  It is amazing that the discussion of how trace atmospheric gasses might affect global temperature, and whether the climactic reaction to this is one of positive or negative feedback, has become a moral rather than a scientific question. 

Though this may be obvious to readers, its worth repeating once in a while the chain of reasoning that must all be true for dramatic government action to be justified in reducing CO2.  That chain is roughly as follows:

  1. Can the presence of CO2 be shown in a lab to increase absorption of incoming radiation?
  2. If so, can trace amounts (370ppm) of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere be enough to absorb meaningful amounts of radiation and if so, how much?
  3. If CO2 in the atmosphere tends to provide a heating effect, do feedback effects (e.g. water vapor) tend to amplify (positive feedback) or damp (negative feedback) the resulting temperature change
  4. What would the effect of the temperature changes be, both negative AND positive.  Undoubtedly some things would be worse, while others, like longer growing seasons, would be better
  5. How are other natural effects, such as the sun, changing the climate and global temperatures, and how large are these effects compared to man’s.
  6. If the effects in #4 are net negative, and they are large enough even to be recognizable against the backdrop of natural variations in #5, do they outweigh the substantial costs, in terms of increased poverty, slowed development, lost wealth, etc. in substantial CO2 abatement.

The answer to #1 is yes, it is settled science. 

The answer to #2 is probably yes, though the amount is in some doubt, but everyone (even the IPCC) agrees it is probably less than a degree per century. 

Most of the warming in forecasts (2/3 or more in the IPCC cases) comes from positive feedback in #3, but we really know nothing here, except that most systems are driven by negative feedback.  In other words, this is so unsettled we don’t even know the sign of the effect.  (Video here)

#4 is the focus of a lot of really, really bad science.  The funding mechanism at universities has forced many people to try to come up with a global warming angle for their area of interest, so it causes a lot of people to posit bad things without much proof.  If you want to study grape growing in Monterrey County, you are much more likely to get funded if you say you want to study "the negative effects of global warming on grape growing in Monterrey County."  Serious science is starting to debunk many of the most catastrophic claims, and history tells us that the world has thrived in periods of warmer climates.  Even the IPCC, for example, projects only minimal sea level rise over the next century as increases in Antarctic ice offset melting in Greenland.  (more here)

We are beginning to understand that natural variability is pretty high in #5.  Alarmist might be call "sun variability deniers" as they refuse to admit that Mr. Sun might have substantial effects on the Earth.  They are kind of in a hole, though.  They are trying to simultaneously claim in #3 that the climate is dominated by positive feedback, but the same time in #5 claim the climate without man is really, really stable.  These two in tandem make no sense. 

And in #6, nobody knows the answer, but a few serious looks at the problem have shown that aggressive CO2 abatement programs could have catastrophic effects on world poverty.  Which is ironic, since the best correlation with severe weather death rates in the world is not CO2 level but wealth and poverty reduction.  No matter how many storms there are, as poverty has declined in a certain region, so have severe weather deaths, even while CO2 has been increasing.  So one could easily argue that CO2 abatement programs will increase rather than decrease severe weather deaths

So this is the trick people like this blogger use.  They point to good science in #1 and partially in #2 to claim the whole chain of reasoning is "settled science," when in fact there are gaping holes in our knowledge of 3-4-5-6.

As a note, I have never deleted a comment on this site (except for obvious spam), despite many that disagree strongly with my position.

Unusual Climactic Stability

Newsbusters found this in a 1993 NY Times article:

The scientists said their data showed that significantly warmer periods and significantly colder periods had occurred during the last interval between glacial epochs, about 115,000 to 135,000 years ago. They said they could not tell whether that meant similar changes were in store. Their findings were reported today in two papers in the journal Nature. […]

The new studies found that the average global temperature can change as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit in a couple of decades during interglacial periods, [Dr. J. W. C. White of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research of the University of Colorado] said. The current average global temperature is 59 degrees Fahrenheit. …

At one point between the last two glacial epochs, the climate melted enough polar ice to raise sea levels some 30 feet. As noted by a member of the drilling team, Dr. David A. Peel of the British Antarctic Survey, it was so warm in England that hippopotamuses wallowed in the Thames and lions roamed its banks….

In his commentary, Dr. White wrote: "We humans have built a remarkable socioeconomic system during perhaps the only time when it could be built, when climate was sufficiently stable to allow us to develop the agricultural infrastructure required to maintain an advanced society. We don’t know why we have been so blessed, but even without human intervention, the climate system is capable of stunning variability.

Why They Changed the Name to Climate Change from Global Warming

From the Center for American Progress Action Fund via Maggies Farm:

This tragic, deadly, and destructive weather — not to mention the droughts in Georgia, California, Kansas, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, North Dakota, and elsewhere across the country — are consistent with the changes scientists predicted would come with global warming. Gov. Chet Culver (D-IA) called the three weeks of storms that gave rise to the floods in his state "historic in proportion," saying "very few people could anticipate or prepare for that type of event." Culver is, unfortunately, wrong. As far back as 1995, analysis by the National Climatic Data Center showed that the United States "had suffered a statistically significant increase in a variety of extreme weather events." In 2007, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that it is "very likely" that man-made global warming will bring an "increase in frequency of hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation." The Nobel Prize-winning panel of thousands of scientists and government officials also found, "Altered frequencies and intensities of extreme weather, together with sea level rise, are expected to have mostly adverse effects on natural and human systems." In 2002, scientists said that "increased precipitation, an expected outcome of climate change, may cause losses of US corn production to double over the next 30 years — additional damage that could cost agriculture $3 billion per year." Scientists have also found that the "West will see devastating droughts as global warming reduces the amount of mountain snow and causes the snow that does fall to melt earlier in the year."

Beyond the fact that these folks could profitably learn about a writing concept called a "paragraph break,"  this analysis is hilariously bad.  The key fact not mentioned is that the first five months of 2008 have been the coldest in decades, both in the US and worldwide, and have been far colder than 2007, which saw much milder weather and fewer tornadoes this time of year (more here).  In fact one could easily, but probably incorrectly since it is such a short period of time, posit that warming would reduce tornadoes, since this year’s cold weather has increased them so much.

Because we have not seen any global warming trend over the last 10 years, alarmists have switched to "climate change" as their bogeyman.  In particular, they argue that global warming will increase severe weather frequency.  There is a lot of evidence that this statement is incorrect, but lets accept it for a minute.  Their theory still requires an intermediate step of warming.  There is no mechanism anyone has ever described where increasing CO2 directly yields increases in severe weather without passing through warming first. 

But this is exactly what they are trying to claim, at least with the masses:  They are in effect claiming that somehow CO2 causes severe weather directly.  But this is simply impossible.  If the world has been colder this year, then severe weather, if it results from temperature change at all, is resulting from the cold weather, not warming.

In fact, the article goes on to imply that crop problems this year are due to man-made effects, that somehow global warming is causing these failures.  But crop problems this year are almost entirely due to cold spring tempertures and late frosts.  You have really got to be a master PR spinner to convert frost and cold issues into a global warming problem.

The whole thing is pretty funny.   More on tornadoes and warming here.

Update:  I could post a zillion of these, but here is one example of what is ailing crops:

Wheat, durum and barley crops are currently one to two weeks behind normal due to cold weather so far this spring, with temperatures 3° to 5°C below normal.

"A continuation of cool weather could lead to delayed development and increased risk of frost damage this fall," said Bruce Burnett, the CWB’s director of weather and market analysis, in the board’s release Thursday.

Update #2:  US Tornado fatalities graphed for the last 100 years:


Who’d Have Believed It? A Natural Process Dominated By Negative Feedback!

Frequent readers will know that I have often criticized climate scientists for assuming, without strong evidence, that climate is dominated by positive feedback.  Such an assumption about a long-term stable system implies that climate is relatively unique among natural processes, and is a real head scratcher when advocated by folks like Michael Mann, who simultaneously claim that past temerpatures are stable within very narrow ranges  (Stability and positive feedback are two great tastes that do not go great together).

Well, it seems that those of use who were offended by the notion of a long-term stable natural process being dominated by positive feedback may have been right after all (via Tom Nelson):

Cirrus clouds are performing a disappearing act which is taking scientists by surprise.

In the global warming debate, it is assumed that temperature rises will lead to more rainfall, which in turn will see an increase in high-altitude cloud cover that will trap infrared heat.

But research on tropical climate systems has found the opposite is happening, with cirrus clouds thinning as the air warms, leading to rapid cooling as infrared heat escapes from the atmosphere to outer space.

The Cost of the Insurance Policy Matters

I once found myself in a debate with someone advocating the precautionary principle, that we should abate all CO2 production "just in case" it might cause a catastrophe.  The person I was debating with said, trying to be reasonable, "you buy car insurance, right?"

I answered, "Yes, but I wouldn’t buy insurance on my car if the insurance itself cost more than my car."  The point is that in most forecasts, the cost of CO2 abatement with current technologies tends to outweigh even some of the more dramatic catastrophic costs of warming, particularly since the best defense against climate disaster is wealth, not less CO2.  Here is another example:

Climatologist Patrick Michaels thinks it would have virtually no effect on the climate, an additional 0.013 degrees (Celsius) of "prevented" warming. That’s another little bitty fact that will never see the light of day on most press reports. Instead what we’ll get is the usual hot air, except this time it has the price tag of 660 hurricanes.

Update:  "the sexiness has gone out of the movement…AGW was fun … as long as nobody lost an eye."  Or as long as no Senator had to put his name on a $4 a gallon gas tax (about what they have in Europe, an amount that is still way insufficient to force compliance with Kyoto goals).

Creating Global Warming in the Laboratory

The topic of creating global warming at the computer workstation with poorly-justified "corrections" of past temperature records is one with which my readers should be familiar.  Some older posts on the topic are here and here and here.

The Register updates this topic use March, 2008 temperature measurements from various sources.  They show that in addition to the USHCN adjustments we discussed here, the GISS overlays another 0.15C warming through further adjustments. 


Nearly every measurement bias that you can imagine that changes over time tends to be an upward / warming bias, particularly the urban heat island effect my son and I measured here.  So what is all this cooling bias that these guys are correcting for?  Or are they just changing the numbers by fiat to match their faulty models and expensive policy goals?

Update:  Another great example is here, with faulty computer assumptions on ocean temperature recording substantially screwing up the temperature history record.

Polar Bears and Combustion

The biggest danger to polar bears may not be combustion, but incomplete combustion.  Inefficient or incomplete combustion can lead to carbon particles or dense hydrocarbons going up the smokestack (or exhaust pipe).  We commonly call this soot.  It is one reason white marble buildings in cities look so dingy, and it is a pollution problem we have done a lot with in the US but is way down the priority scale in places like China.

It turns out, though, that soot may have more to do with melting ice and rising arctic temperatures than CO2, and this is actually good news:

“Belching from smokestacks, tailpipes and even forest fires, soot—or black carbon—can quickly sully any snow on which it happens to land. In the atmosphere, such aerosols can significantly cool the planet by scattering incoming radiation or helping form clouds that deflect incoming light. But on snow—even at concentrations below five parts per billion—such dark carbon triggers melting, and may be responsible for as much as 94 percent of Arctic warming.

“Impurities cause the snow to darken and absorb more sunlight,” says Charlie Zender, a climate physicist at the University of California, Irvine. “A surprisingly large temperature response is caused by a surprisingly small amount of impurities in snow in polar regions.”

Zender, physicist Mark Flanner and other colleagues built a model to examine how soot impacts temperature in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Temperatures in the northern polar region have already risen by 1.6 degrees Celsius (2.88 degrees Fahrenheit) since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The researchers incorporated information on soot produced by burning fossil fuels, wood and other biofuels, along with that naturally produced by forest fires and then checked their model predictions against global measurements of soot levels in polar snow from Sweden to Alaska to Russia and in Antarctica as well as in nonpolar areas such as the Tibetan Plateau….

Whereas forest fires contribute to the problem—the effect noticeably worsens in years with widespread boreal wildfires—roughly 80 percent of polar soot can be traced to human burning, adding as much as 0.054 watt of energy per square meter of Arctic land, according to the research published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research. When the snow melts, it exposes dark land below it, further accelerating regional warming. “Black carbon in snow causes about three times the temperature change as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Zender says. “The climate is more responsive to this than [to] anything else we know.”

If correct, this is an incredibly powerful finding, for a couple of reasons.  First, over the last 30 years since we have had good satellite temperature measurements, the vast majority of the warming has been in the Arctic, with temperatures flat to down in the tropics and the Antarctic.  This has never made much sense in the context of greenhouse warming theory (though its proponents have tied themselves into pretzels trying to explain it) since global warming theory (as embodied in the last IPCC report) holds that the largest temperature gains should be in the lower troposphere over the tropics, and offers no reason why the warming in the Artic should be orders of magnitude larger than in the Antarctic. 

But this soot theory turns it all around.  By this theory, the warming of the Arctic partially results from the loss of ice, rather than the other way around.  And no one would deny that the Artic should have much more soot than the Antarctic, since Northern Hemisphere industrial output dwarfs that of the Southern Hemisphere (and most all soot stays in the hemisphere in which it was created).  This would help explain the differential vs the tropics (soot has less effect on warming when it falls on a rain forest than on snow) as well as the differential between Artic and Antarctic.

But the theory is powerful for another reason:  It would be MUCH easier to engage in a global effort to reduce soot substantially.  While CO2 is a necessary bi-product of combustion, soot is not.  Better furnace design and exhaust gas scrubbing, as well as some gasoline reformulations and internal combustion tweaks, would make an enormous dent in soot production, an effort I would gladly support.

Postscript:  You may actually have heard of black carbon in the context of global warming.  Over the last decade, when climate alarmists began running their catastrophic warming models backwards, they found they vastly over-predicted past warming.  To save their models (god forbid anyone would rethink the theory) they cast about for potential man-made cooling effects that might be masking or offsetting man-made warming.  In this context, they settled on sulfur dioxide aerosols and black carbon as cooling agents (which they are, at least to some extent).  Not having a good theory on how much cooling the cause, they could assign arbitrarily large numbers to them, in effect making them the "plug" to get their models to fit history.

With a bit more research, scientists are beginning to admit the cooling effect can’t be that great.  The reason is that unlike CO2, black carbon and aerosols break down and come to earth  (as soot and acid rain) relatively quickly, so that they have only limited, local effects in the areas in which they are produced.  At most, a third of the world’s land area or about 8% of the entire earth’s surface had any kind of concentrations of these in the atmosphere.  To have a cooling effect of .5-1.0C (which is what they needed, at a minimum, to make their models work running backwards) would imply aerosols were cooling these selected areas of effect by 6-12 degrees Celsius, which was totally improbable.  Besides, almost all of these aerosols are in the norther hemisphere, but it has been the southern hemisphere that has been cooler. 

You Make the Call

A half degree cooler or $45 trillion poorer?  You make the call.  And remember, these are the cost numbers from climate alarmists, so they are very likely way too low. 

The press is so used to the politically correct language of victimization, that they don’t even think about it before applying it.  As a result, global warming alarmists get a pass on claiming to be helping the poor by fighting global warming.

But this is absurd.  The poor don’t care about polar bears or bad snow at the ski resort or hurricanes hitting their weekend beach house.  They care about agriculture, which has always been improved by warmer weather and longer growing seasons, and development, which relies on the profligate expenditure of every hydrocarbon they can get their hands on.  Can anyone really argue that a half degree warmer world is harder on the poor than a $45 trillion dollar price increase in energy costs?

Only Skeptics Are Driven By Money

Or not:

Noel Sheppard’s got the goods on Al Gore.

For years, NewsBusters has contended that Nobel Laureate Al Gore is spreading global warming hysteria to benefit his own wallet.

On Wednesday, despite claims by one of Gore’s representatives two months ago, it was revealed that his Generation Investment Management private equity fund has taken a 9.5 percent stake in a company that has one of the largest carbon credit portfolios in the world.

Can the IRS please tell me how Al Gore can get away with having the nonprofit Alliance for Climate Protection do all the PR heavy lifting for his for-profit investments?

Note that carbon credits are a zero-value asset unless by government fiat they are declared to have some value.  In the absence of global warming legislation and cap-and-trade schemes, this company’s portfolio is worth nothing.  Only the lobbying by Gore and his "non-profits" can make it have value. 

Interestingly, this carbon credit portfolio also has zero value even under alternative CO2 reduction alternatives, such as a carbon tax.  Under a carbon tax, there is much less opportunity for rent-seeking by powerful people like Gore, and carbon credit portfolios are worthless.  Interestingly, Gore proposed a US carbon tax 15 years or so ago.  My guess is that he would no longer support a carbon tax, as it would bankrupt many of his investments.

My Favorite Headline of the Day

Tom Nelson really sums up much of the global warming movement in one blog post headline:

Once again, the best way to avoid global warming catastrophe is to do whatever some special interest group already wanted done anyway

Specifically he was referring to this:

“Arguably, the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products…"

Price / Value of Solar

I have a big four thousand square foot roof in one of the greatest solar sites in the world (6 equivilent hours of full sun a day) that is just begging for solar panels.  Except that even with substantial government subsidies, the payback numbers are awful. Lynne Keisling reports that this may be about to change:

There are a couple of very interesting recent solar developments that have substantial economic implications. First, the blue sky stuff: courtesy of Slashdot, a team of researchers in the Netherlands have demonstrated avalanche effects in semiconductors that can be used in solar cells (here’s the original article). Avalanche effects mean that instead of having a 1:1 relationship between a photon and an electron, in which 1 photon releases 1 electron, it’s physically possible in these nano-scale semiconducting materials to have 2:1 or even 3:1 — 2 or 3 electrons released per photon in the material. This means twofold or threefold increase in the possible energy intensity of the solar cell material. These nanocrystals are even inexpensive to manufacture. How cool is that?

What are the economic implications of this new material and new knowledge? The low energy intensity of solar cells has been a factor in making solar a less cost-effective means of generating electricity than fossil fuels, which are extremely energy intensive. This avalanche effect can mean smaller, more energy intensive solar cells, which changes the cost structure for solar. I think it will certainly shift the long-run average cost curve downward, which creates an opportunity for solar retailers to reduce prices. A lower solar retail price shifts the price ratio between solar power and all other electricity power sources. For example, the price ratio between solar-generated and coal-generated electricity would shift such that at the margin, consumers would substitute out of coal-powered electricity and into solar-powered electricity. If I were better at generating the isoquant and indifference curve graphs electronically, I’d show it here graphically … but the logic is straightforward.

Unfortunately, we have been hearing this for years.  I price solar out on my home just about once per year, and the numbers have not changed for a while.  Here’s hpoing….