Goofy Theory of the Day

From NewKerala.com, via the Thin Green Line:

According to Prof McGuire, in Taiwan the lower air pressure created by typhoons was enough to “unload” the crust by a small amount and trigger earthquakes, reports the Scotsman.

Uh, right.  We don’t know what triggers earthquakes in general, so we certainly don’t know the affect of atmospheric conditions on earthquakes.  This is outrageous speculation from an all night session at the pub, breathlessly reported as actual news.

Let’s do a thought experiment.  A strong typhoon might drop local atmospheric pressure by 0.2atm.  The pressure at the bottom of the ocean averages 200-600atm, and under a few miles of rock is even higher.  I would challenge someone with measurement instruments on a fault to even detect such an atmospheric change.  Even on surface faults, we are talking about gigatons of force held in check by friction — this is roughly the equivalent of a feather landing on the Empire State Building and collapsing it.

I sometimes wonder if we will see a future SAT question whose answer is “climate studies are to science as alchemy is to chemistry”.

171 thoughts on “Goofy Theory of the Day”

  1. No wally, you just established a 1000 solar cycle yourself.

    “True one data point doesn’t prove a cycle, but its more than that right? We have a Sporer and Wolf mins at maybe 200 year distances”.

    This is not evidence of a cycle, and you will not find any publications on another cycle, there have been proposed mechanisms such as decreases in the suns spin rate etc but nothing firm.

    I am not guilty of anything except trying to explain to you that the 22y and milankovitch solar cycles have been modelled well and their forcings known accurately.

  2. *****”‘Rejecting information you dislike and fully endorsing information you do like? Is this what a scientist with your training reacts?’

    ****”Can you ask that in a non-loaded way?”

    Okay, I’ll give it a shot –

    I have noticed, Wally, that you are willing to argue a number of talking points from only one side of the ‘debate’ – a prime example is the very recent, very unstudied, very unproven theory that cosmic rays affect Earth’s atmosphere. Your tone in this particular post and its immediate ripostes would seem to indicate that you take the cosmic ray theory seriously.

    At the same time, you appear to be very dismissive of the other side of the debate which is far more studied, has far more expert commentators, and has a global history of scientific investigation.

    With AGW theories your tone and diction suggest a very dismissive attitude – I am waiting for you to tell Neil that he and / or the IPCC have “done away with the MWP” or something of this nature. I would expect an objective commentator to concede that the MWP was a media / cyberspace misrepresentation based on incomplete knowledge which, upon further investigation, appears to be a somewhat different phenomenon than was first thought. Perhaps the MWP is still important to how we judge current climate conditions, but is anyone really “doing away with it,” or do we just understand it better?

    It would almost appear that you deliberately favor one side of the ‘debate’ to a fairly extreme measure, and this might cause someone, like myself for instance, to question your objectivity. To take it a step further, it almost appears that you want to disprove an entire scientific discipline, not critique it.

    So when you post this –

    ****”I’m not rejecting or accepting information based on bias.”

    – I’m pretty darn dubious. In fact, Wally, I disagree: you are rejecting or accepting information based on a pretty clearly formed bias.

    As for this –

    ****”What would be my ultimate motivation for doing so anyway?”

    – obviously I have no idea…I suspect a conservative personality and / or a Cold War mentality (someone accused me of being a Marxist, was that you?), but I will only conjecture. Perhaps a trip to a therapist would help?

    And yes –

    ****”If the earth really were warming towards catastrophy, wouldn’t I want to attempt to stop it? Why would I sit back and deny something that adversly effect me or at least my childred?”

    – one would certainly think you’d want to do something about it…

  3. Neil

    “to their own admission there is little convincing evidence that it has any impact on climate, since there are huge lag factors and timing issues involved with the palaeo-glacial formations that they needed to find as evidence. Therefore, with something that is as yet completely unproven as this, compared to say the proven impact of volcanic activity on climate, bringing it into the debate, interesting as it is, brings little to the issue.”

    But my point wasn’t to point to cosmic dust and spiral arms and say it has some specific effect. It was to point out that you don’t know what it may or may not do. So, without knowing what its effect is or is not, leaves any models you make incomplete. That’s the thing with models, they are only as good as what you put into them. And the main way you test the model is through experiment. Climatoligists can’t do that. Ideally you’d be able to test this factor, but instead we just have to wait, using the models we have, and then when the predictions diverage from reality attempt to explain it when we have god knows how many factors changing at various rates.

    So the point isn’t to compare the effect of volcanic activity to this dust, we can’t even do that. The point was to bring it up as one of many factors that are poorly understood which could have an effect on climate.

    “And not everything in wikipedia is sound, especially when folks such as yourself are editing it.”

    Which isn’t to say its a useless tool. If, as you say, these things are in 100 level college courses, wiki should be somewhat caught up and at least have useful references to start with.

    And thanks for the sources, I’ll give them a look. But the idea that “a first year university student would be getting taught these” is not an adequate reason to omit citations, should something be questioned.

  4. Waldo,

    “Your tone in this particular post and its immediate ripostes would seem to indicate that you take the cosmic ray theory seriously.”

    I take it as a serious possibility, that sounds very reasonable, and not something to laugh at, as Neil apperently believes or did.

    “At the same time, you appear to be very dismissive of the other side of the debate which is far more studied, has far more expert commentators, and has a global history of scientific investigation. ”

    Such as? In general I’m not dismissing factors that have been studied so much as I’m dismissing the GCM’s accuracy.

    “I am waiting for you to tell Neil that he and / or the IPCC have “done away with the MWP” or something of this nature. I would expect an objective commentator to concede that the MWP was a media / cyberspace misrepresentation based on incomplete knowledge which, upon further investigation, appears to be a somewhat different phenomenon than was first thought. Perhaps the MWP is still important to how we judge current climate conditions, but is anyone really “doing away with it,” or do we just understand it better?”

    So your argument depends on me hypothetically making this statement? And you wonder why people call you a troll?

    “To take it a step further, it almost appears that you want to disprove an entire scientific discipline, not critique it.”

    No, I’m bring up specific factors that are not explained and arguing that GCM predictions are incomplete without them.

    “you are rejecting or accepting information based on a pretty clearly formed bias. ”

    Yet you can’t even provide one clear example of this… You simple want to attack the creator of the argument and not the arguments themselves. You are a troll.

    “I suspect a conservative personality and / or a Cold War mentality (someone accused me of being a Marxist, was that you?), but I will only conjecture. Perhaps a trip to a therapist would help? ”

    I’m not a conservative. You clearly have no idea what you’re conjecturing about and your entire argument relies on just these “conjectures.”

    “one would certainly think you’d want to do something about it…”

    Yeah, I would, if only someone could prove to me it might actually happen.

  5. NeilC is absolutely right.

    There are no 10-100 year global temperature cycles. How can there possibly be a ‘global’ 10-100 year temperature or climate cycle when the deep ocean overturns every 1000 – 1500yrs.

    Any large temperature variations on timescales this short (10-100yrs) would ultimately be buffered by the ocean system. There cannot thus be any climate changes that show up as 10 – 100 years cycles in any type of palaetemperature or instrumental records.

    We are able to observe other short-timescale cycles, like solar cycles, since these are outside of the earth system and therefore not affected by the stochastic nature nature of the system, or by buffering effects of an already highly complex system.

    The shortest timescales of climate change are the millenial (1000year) timescales. The arguement about 10-100 year cycles in climate is thus obsolete. They may be observed in local records but they would never be global simply due to the large buffering of the ocean.

    It takes hundreds of thousands to millions of years to convert organic matter to fossil fuels and it takes us hours to release all of it back to the atmopshere. You cannot push a system that hard and not expect a dramatic result.

  6. Right, and it is exactly this buffering effect of the oceans that is slowing down the observed effects of GHG forcings at this moment – but eventually the bill will have to be paid.

  7. Cara,

    “NeilC is absolutely right.

    There are no 10-100 year global temperature cycles. How can there possibly be a ‘global’ 10-100 year temperature or climate cycle when the deep ocean overturns every 1000 – 1500yrs.”

    Regardless of the truth of this statement, that’s not what we’ve been discussing.

    And while I’d definitely agree that the stochastic nature of the climate obscures many small scale cycles, I hardly believe that the ocean buffering system is strong enough to completely wipe out the effects of say that 11/22 year cycle Neil brought up, or the PDO. I suppose this where you may lean back on “large” or “global” changes, but I’d then argue that global averages surely change if one half of the globe goes up while the other half stays the same (as some might argue is the case for the MWP or little ice age if we replace “up” with “down”). I’d further argue that imposing that changes truly be “global” is a artificial limitation. Certainly there are micro climates that will respond to global changes, so at what point do you call something a global change? Do we have to see the global average go up because of changes in >50% of the globe in the same direction before we call it a global change?

    “It takes hundreds of thousands to millions of years to convert organic matter to fossil fuels and it takes us hours to release all of it back to the atmopshere. You cannot push a system that hard and not expect a dramatic result.”

    Where do you think that organic matter came from in the first place?

  8. And in spite of increasing data indicating while there’s AGW, there’s no “Dangerous AGW”…and no reason to get our collective panties in a twist, at all…the MSM, Politicians and much (but by no means all) establishment Science community (not so paradoxically largely funded by the second group) persists in strident calls for ‘urgent’, even emergency, activity. Which from my perspective proves this advocacy isn’t scientific. It isn’t based on the Science, but is political, economically driven and ideological. Calls for urgent action increasingly are being revealed as creatures of the latter rather than the former.

    It more and more seems properly filed under the Popular Delusions and Madness of Crowds category….al la the Eugenics movement previously a creature of the same kind of blurring between ideology, self-interest and science seen early in the 20th Century. And, as has been mentioned….as in that case, there may well be a stiff price to pay.

    Not from any global warming, but from our Folly about it.

  9. ***”you can’t even provide one clear example of [Wally’s biased reasoning]”

    Well Wally, on a thread titled ironically enough “Goofy Theory of the Day,” you continue your attack on GCMs (which are actually successful if admittedly limited but improving) and denying virtually all AGW theory while forwarding the brand-spanking-new idea that cosmic dust and rays change the Earth’s atmosphere. This seems like at least one clear example to me. Yet to you –

    ****”I’m bring up specific factors that are not explained and arguing that GCM predictions are incomplete without them.”

    Perhaps you honestly don’t see it, Wally, which is pretty interesting if one stops to think about it.

    Then there’s this –

    ****”So your argument depends on me hypothetically making this statement [about scientists hiding the MWP]?”

    Weeeeell, forgive me brother, but do either of these statements look familiar –

    ***”Who reproduced the lack of the MWP and little ice age?”

    ***”Like you know not missing the MWP or little ice age?”

    Granted, these are taken from our April 11th “Signal to Noise” conversation, but they are very much in context with what is going on here and I hope you might understand why I expected you to say something to this effect (your understanding of the scientific position on the phenomena seems to have matured somewhat – congrats!…or perhaps you change your position when you are caught being a little, well, reactionary and can’t really deny it…maybe?)

    ****”And you wonder why people call you a troll?”

    Nope. Never have. I’ve always figured name calling was a way signifying that, yeah, I was right in the first place. And your repeated unwillingness to recognize what I’ve been posting (and thus we have our repeated circular arguments) strikes me the same way.

    I’ve posted it before, Wally, but you and ADiff, as intelligent as you both are, epitomize what I’ve found in the deniosphere. Why do you do this? I have no idea and said so upstairs. But neither do I particularly care.

  10. ****”Which from my perspective proves this advocacy isn’t scientific. It isn’t based on the Science, but is political, economically driven and ideological.”

    You will forgive some of us, ADiff, if we doubt that your “perspective” is entirely clear sighted.

    Which is why some of us doubt your anti-AGW reasoning and attend boards like this one.

  11. Wally says: ‘Yes, you’re attacking my argument because I “come off as jerk.”’

    What argument exactly? You fling insults and bad-mouth peeps too. That’s all I’m sayin’ yo.

  12. We’ve gotten to “And in spite of increasing data indicating while there’s AGW, there’s no “Dangerous AGW” “.
    Excellent, im glad to see someone has managed to recognise there is increasingly convincing data for global warming. Im pretty sure an even smaller majority of the scientific community would argue against that.

    And again i agree with you that there are large uncertainties and a certain probability (i dont know how large or small) that warming will not be catastrophic. However with such large uncertainty going both ways and with most of the evidence playing in the one direction, don’t you think its rather playing the odds if nothing is done? The main problem being, if you wait until 2050 to find out it our predictions were correct, it will be too late and we would have to spend many many times more of our global GDP to deal with it than if we spend now to prevent it. Its game theory basically.

  13. Neil,

    I don’t know a lot of “skeptics” that would deny that the world has warmed in the last 30 or 100 years. I also don’t know anyone that would deny CO2 causes warming. The question really becomes how much warming will we see from CO2 and how will our up coming climate conditions outside of CO2 effect the temperature of the Earth. Now some of that is known. We have a pretty good idea what most of the sun cycles will look like, or CO2’s effect by itself, many other factors however we don’t know. Which leads to all this uncertainty. We basically know we’re increasing one factor that causes warming amoung an unknown set of other factors.

    Now from there we bring up what to do about it. Even if we agree we might see a .5-1 degree C increase in GMT over the next 100 years, what actually changes and how much is that worth? Also how much can we actually do about it? Meaning if we, and I generally mean the western world here, agree to cut CO2 emissions to, say 1980 levels or something, what will GMT do in this case? And how much does that cost? This isn’t really game theory here, its simply cost benefit. The only way it turns into game theory is if you think our action/inaction may cause developing (India and China) nations to respond differently. So if we cut emissions and lessen the effects of GW, maybe we can pressure India and China to come a long, or maybe they will exploit that for their own economic gain. Or conversly if we do nothing, maybe our inaction will cause some of the effects of CO2 to hit these developing nations (as I understand we should expect poorer nations to be more greatly effected if GW is actually bad), and maybe then they will actually respond, at which time so could we. That’s really the only way I see game theory coming into play here.

    But of course this is all assuming a warmer planet is a bad thing. Again, so far as I understand, no one can actually prove such a thing. Yes it will change a few things, leave some areas underwater, but people can move. We’re talking about what, maybe .5-1 meter over 100 years, in the worst case? And you take that trade off with longer growing seasons and warmer climate into the higher latitudes? Which all goes to ask, what’s the real cost of some mild amount of warming? So far as I know, it stands just as much of chance of being a net benefit to our culture instead of a hindrance. Which of course would screw you cost benefit analysis up completely. If we say the most likely warming is only 1 degree, and that it has only a 50% chance of being a hindrance at all, and may actually be a net benefit, exactly how much burden should we put on society now to avoid this fate?

  14. Well…thats a pretty simple interpretation of how warming might affect us.
    As we all know, the real impact of GHG will depend on the strength of feedbacks and sinks. Now most of the feedbacks are positive (some a re negative i know) and strong and have been shown to be in the past – see the switch from mid pliocene warmth to current icehouse:

    ‘Regional climate shifts caused by gradual global cooling in the pliocene epoch’ Ravelo et al, 2004 is a very interesting summary paper and well worth reading for a good grasp of a period that is analogous to what is going on today – GHG’s were approx 30% higher than today. Let me know what you think…

    I dont really see the value of putting a most likely warming constraint on here since we have just established that there are errors in all scenarios, and the extent of warming will likely reflect the extent of our action or inaction. Likewise no real value in assigning an arbitrary percentage possibility in it being a hindrance.

    The worst case scenario is not .5-1m, it is several meters. But regardless, take Bangladesh, where 50% of the land would be flooded by a 1m rise in sea level, now it has a population of around 150 million people most of which live around the ganges delta. Are you simply going to just ‘move them all’? And are you stating that you would be willing to let third world countries, who have not contributed to the warming take the hit for us, and then we will do something about it then, when its too late?

  15. 1 meter would be at the outside of predictions, and observations increasingly suggest even that figure’s likely an exaggeration. And there’s no need for “we” to do anything. People are pretty remarkable critters, and have managed to adjust remarkably well to far greater climatic changes than any we’re likely to see from AGW, without being protected by some ‘god like’ group of do-gooders (who’re far more likely to just ‘do the pooch’ completely in their effort)…

    This is one of biggest knocks on IPCC and the Dangerous AGW (DAGW) community in general…a more or less total discounting of any adaptability on the part of individuals, communities or organizations. It results in a distinct collectivist, stateist, prejudice in every conclusion and recommendation…which seems fitting in a document developed by an organization dominated by a group of collectivist and stateist countries, with the support of NGOs and an advocacy community badly in need of jobs to provide for their own contracts, funding and importance. They’re like the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and World Wildlife Fund, in whether or not they once were a group acting in the interests of the environment or wildlife, organizational evolution has clearly arrived at the point their 1st concern is organizational interests more than any stated agendas.

    And yet humanity will do perfectly well (in fact, I’d argue a hell of lot better) without “we” taking charge and making the world safe for all life on Earth.

    1) There’s no reason for any conviction any action we take can significantly modify climate change
    2) The evidence strongly suggests most impacts predicted from climate change are at best exaggerated
    3) There is no evidence indicating any action on ‘our’ part can mitigate most impacts as will occur from climate change
    4) There is no reason to believe affected parties will not be able to adapt successfully within relevant time frames of such impacts without any exceptional action or organization

    So-called “energy” bills, climate change legislation and carbon reduction schemes, are simply products of mass hysteria to the extent they address problems which almost certainly aren’t the problems they’re made out to be, won’t be mitigated in any meaningful way by these anyway, and will with almost absolute certainty entail high costs, both in economic terms to the developed world, and in suffering and death in the 3rd world.

    So if one’s intentions are to inflict pointless economic losses on society at large, and maim, cripple and kill millions of persons in the developing world…then, by all means, continue to advocate drastic action to address climate change. That will be decided in the political arena, not by science, and almost certainly for agendas and to ends entirely unrelated to the purported intentions (to wit, Ethanol programs, with a bit of bitter sarcasm), but do not make the mistake the real character of the crusade can forever be denied even by those engaged most earnestly in it with the purest disengenuous integrity. That point where ignorance was an excuse is almost past us now.

  16. Neil,

    First, the net feedbacks can’t be positive. Positive feedback systems are not stable and we would have diverged away from a habital planet long ago if the Earth had a climate system dominated by positive feedback. Now, stable does not mean static. But I would expect you understand that.

    As for the Ravelo paper, it illustrates the my point on feedbacks. Previous climate has been warmer and with higher GHGs, yet the climate was not undergoing positive feedback, but was stable. Then a few factors changed (tectonics, ocean flows, what have you) and pushed the system to a new equalibrum. So you saw a shifting of the location of the equalibrum, but one was still present thanks to a negative feedback dominated system. Positive feedback dominated systems simply can’t do this. Further, negative feedback systems that contain time delayed responces oscillate. And I would argue that this is what we see in the Earth’s climate.

    To change gears, the predictions of several meters sea level rise are off on fringe of most studies or are fairly old. I generally see studies finding something on the .5-1.5 range. I guess I underestimated from memory.
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2010GL042947.shtml

    Now, you seem to think we’ll need to move people. I would think they can move on their own. This 1m rise (to hit the mid point) is happening over a 100 years, people can adapt. And at this point it is not “too late.” The world does not end if we see 1m rise in sea level and some people have to move. It simply maybe a point when we know what is happening. Right now we don’t have enough information. And we may know better in 20 years, or less. But right now we simply don’t have the level of certainty I would prefer for me to willing negatively effect my lifestyle or to advocate that we force others to do the same.

  17. ADiff i did not mean move them ourselves, by us acting i meant with emissions reductions – but where do you think people in bangladesh for instance would move to? it is already one of the most populated countries and most of their foodsource comes from the ganges delta – so any ideas?

    i really dont think your four points laid out above are impartial, of course we can affect the outcome of the climate change, it is all being forced by GHG’s and therefore the less GHG’s we emit, the less the forcing is pushing the system out of equilibrium. If we were to increase the CO2 concentration to 1000ppm the earth will undergo warming – apart from any other evidence any palaeoenvironments with higher CO2 concentrations such as these have been considerably warmer – the pliocene cited above for instance was 3 degrees warmer with a CO2 concentration of only 30% higher than today. obviously this comes with certain caveats but i think my point is still valid – we are likely under the business as usual regime to bring concentrations a lot higher.

    Wally, i understand fully that a climate equilibrium is held in place by negative feedbacks – in a general sense this explains phenomenon such as the faint young sun hypothesis, whereby despite the large shift in solar strength the earth has remained within a relatively narrow temp range – however this is true for climate with relatively little changes in forcing. However, the point of the paper was to show that you can shift systems from one state of equilibrium to another if you force it hard enough, exactly what happened from the pliocene ‘greenhouse’ shifting to the current ‘icehouse’ – the paper explicitly states that positive feedbacks enhanced the changes brought about by tectonics etc etc and then the earth became stable in the current icehouse state.

    I was under the impression that sea level predictions were ~70cm by 2100, but that this excluded the effects of the greenland and antarctic ice sheets (since their dynamics are not well understood), but in the worst case scenario, these would undergo rapid melting and add meters onto this. Obviously this is worst case but anything between the extremes of no major melting and melting should be a possibility.

  18. Neil,

    Ok, so why are we so worried about shifting to a new equilibrium? If some people have to move, so what? My job on this planet is not to attempt to make sure everyone gets to stay where they want. If the only change we can agree is going to happen is a degree of warming and a meter of sea level rise, I hardly see the “catastrophe” that requires me to pay tax, or to reduce my quality of life in anyway what so ever.

  19. ****”I hardly see the ‘catastrophe’ that requires me to pay tax, or to reduce my quality of life in anyway what so ever.”

    Are you sure you’re not a conservative?

  20. Yeah Neil, and we could explode about 10,000 nuclear devices too. It’s make just about as much sense as spending trillions on the wasted effort of trying to avoid things we probably couldn’t avoid anyway, even if they were really even remotely likely to happen, which it most certainly seems they’re not. So from my perspective it’s, at best, an almost entirely destructive endeavor, producing almost unmitigated negative results, which can only be characterized as Evil, whether consciously pursued (which I wouldn’t put one cm past people like Gore & Pachauri, for examples), or unconsciously, as by many persons who honestly believe themselves acting in everyone’s best interest. I, naturally, would have to question who appointed them our very own versions of Plato’s Guardians…..

    BTW, there doesn’t appear to be, or ever have been, any real equilibrium, just extended periods of less dramatic change than in others. The system appears to oscillate all over the place in both the short and the long term…at least in terms of what we’d consider climatic optimimums…which are, after all, probably a bit warmer than it is at the moment in any event…

    Anyway, in any ‘Worst Case’ it’s completely moot anyway, as all the vain ‘carbon reduction’ schemes on Earth won’t send that stray asteroid or comet back home, and we’re all dead anyway. And, of course, in the really long run (which is a purely academic matter), that’s exactly the kind of thing that eventually has to happen anyway. Worst cases might make good science fiction, but aren’t likely enough to spend more than entertainment money on in the real world. Of course if we really want to spend the ‘seed corn’ on our very own academic version of the Maginot Line, or Brilliant Peebles…well then there are always plenty of hosanna singers only too happy to provide accommodating choruses…for the odd million here and there, of course!

    As always: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

  21. You cannot just say climate change is not even remotely likely to happen. And of course there are periods of equillibrium, that is why climates may persist for millions of years. The Pliocene warm period persisted for several hundred thousand years, however our current holocene climate has only occurred in the last ten thousand. But there have been climates in the geological past that have persisted for millions of years.

    As you said yourself equilibrium is held in place via negative feedbacks – on a geological timescale for instance the main negative feedback on atmospheric carbon dioxide would be the silicate weathering cycle, which consumes atmospheric carbon to erode continental rock. An increase in average temp, usually via increased CO2 in the atmosphere would result in intensification of the hydrological cycle and more acidic rain – producing the effect of increasing the weathering of rocks and drawing down atmospheric CO2 thereby stemming the warming trend and reversing it back to equilibrium.

    Now this sort of timescale is far too large to factor into our century or so changes on climate and CO2 will not be buffered in the next few thousands of years by the silicate weathering cycle. We are shifting the climate out of equilibrium by the, on geological timescales, enormous rate of CO2 emission, coupled with the positive feedbacks that act on very short timescales geologically.

    But in this case the worst case is not simply a random bolide impact is it? The potential for a major melting of the icecaps is there – we have all read the reports of calving ice shelves in antarctica and the increased meltwater off of the greenland coast. I am not going to argue that it will happen because i cannot with certainty, but you can not argue either that it will not happen with any certainty.

    Wally –
    “If some people have to move, so what? My job on this planet is not to attempt to make sure everyone gets to stay where they want. If the only change we can agree is going to happen is a degree of warming and a meter of sea level rise, I hardly see the “catastrophe” that requires me to pay tax, or to reduce my quality of life in anyway what so ever.”

    That to me is a really worrying attitude, and im betting if it was your country (the states is it?) about to be inundated by the ocean by someone else’s doing then your views would be somewhat different.

  22. Wally says:

    ‘If some people have to move, so what? My job on this planet is not to attempt to make sure everyone gets to stay where they want. If the only change we can agree is going to happen is a degree of warming and a meter of sea level rise, I hardly see the “catastrophe” that requires me to pay tax, or to reduce my quality of life in anyway what so ever.’

    Wow. you really are a jerk. You don’t feel any sense of accountability for the way your lifestyle might seriously disrupt 150 million people? Sick.

    Where’s Wally? He’s in his lab doing vivisections on puppy dogs.

  23. Neil,

    “That to me is a really worrying attitude, and im betting if it was your country (the states is it?) about to be inundated by the ocean by someone else’s doing then your views would be somewhat different.”

    Maybe, but that doesn’t leave us with a right or wrong, just a perception difference. Things change, fairly or unfairly, and people have to adapt.

    Shills,

    “You don’t feel any sense of accountability for the way your lifestyle might seriously disrupt 150 million people? Sick.”

    That might is key. Can you actually prove to me that my actions, or even the actions of all the western world will actually avert this possible disaster? No, you can’t. Until you can take that “might” out of your question, the answer will be “no.” And further from my perspective you attempting to force me to hinder my lifestyle to only maybe avert a possible problem is sick. Between those two “maybes” (the possible problem and uncertainty of the “solution” actually averting it) just what are the chances hindering my life style will actually do any good?

    You don’t care that hindering other people’s lives will actually lead to some positive benefit? SICK!

  24. Neil,

    “We are shifting the climate out of equilibrium by the, on geological timescales, enormous rate of CO2 emission, coupled with the positive feedbacks that act on very short timescales geologically.”

    No, we are not shifting the climate out of equilibrium. We’re at worst pushing the mean temp we oscillate around up. The equilibrium is not being destroyed. Its still there, always will be. We’re just moving inside the window created by the equilibrium, and CO2 alone is simply not strong enough to move us outside that window. Now you want to start royally F-ing with the H2O content of our planet or maybe move us a little closer to the sun, then you might be on to something.

  25. While it’s obviously always an hypothesis that must prove itself (of course not be assumed until dis-proven…this is Science, if not just simple logic!), I think it’s become abundantly clear the likelihood of Dangerous AGW is very, very remote, based on just about every observation coming in… Effects will occur, clearly, some not insignificant…but none especially dramatic and certainly not catastrophic…so that idea has to be put in the bin with every other remotely possible, but very unlikely, catastrophic possibility we actually do probably face, such as caldera eruptions, asteroid * comet impacts, large scale nuclear war, massive solar instability…and categorized similarly with respect our actual ability to influence its likelihood or occurrence. So massive investments into trying to reduce GHGs just makes no economic sense at all, and would amount to massive waste and misappropriation of resources, for which we all know there’s no shortage of other very real, if less sweeping, more prosaic, and thus far less psychologically (and financially) rewarding to those in the climate and ‘alternative’ energy fields…not to mention the politicians, who never saw a ‘crisis’ that wasn’t very useful……

    Shills,

    You propose policies that would impoverish billions, and actually cause serious harm and death to tens, even hundreds of millions….an you call Wally sick? Look in the mirror man! When it comes to morality, think about it…Wally’s opposing what he see’s as ineffective intervention into challenges the natural environment might impose on that “150 million people”, while you actively advocate policies that will almost beyond a doubt kill at least tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions. Who’s sick?

    Neil,

    You can’t have an advanced, materially affluent global civilization and not have some significant impacts on the environment, including (to at least some, rather unclear, degree)…but on balance one can pretty much assume the net impacts of such a civilization far, far less than the impacts of less advanced, less efficient communities. One doesn’t need electrical power generation and internal combustion engines to trash an eco-system and alter a climate: axes, fire and cows alone can do the job very thoroughly. The more efficient and materially affluent the community, the proportionally less its environmental impacts. So unless one has decided to advocate the destruction of advanced, materially affluent society, and desires the destruction of human civilization and advancement, one must accept some level of impacts, and simply address whether its possible, practical and advisable to mitigate such on a case-by-case basis…..

    As far as massive efforts to curtail AGW are concerned, I view this as analogous to investments in preventing the deleterious impacts of Witchcraft which were the focus of so much consensual aggrement, attention and investment in the pretty much throughout the Middle Ages, right up the early Industrial Revolution…to the same effective ends as that notable academically driven crusade against a consensually agreed commonly perceived broad natural threat…..

  26. your opening paragraph: again the word catastrophe is being used as though in response to my warning of a catastrophe. I have not mentioned the phrase, though i accept others have – i am not denying the existence of extreme views in favor of a global meltdown but i do not share those views, and further to this i am not denying the existence of extreme views in the other direction – those that think climate change either is not existent or is a conspiracy. Now the chances of climate changing are in fact, based on the overwhelming evidence very high. The extent is uncertain i recognise, this but also the extent will likely depend on our action to cut emissions since the future forcing on climate will in all likelihood mostly be derived from GHG’s.

    I feel i have missed something here and would like clarification for all. Even slight climate changes, such as a modest 50cm eustatic rise will have profound impact on many nations not exclusively bangladesh, but any low lying country you can think of or areas of them, such as pacific island nations, parts of India, the netherlands – whos government has now given up on the nations heritage of defending against the coast via building dykes, and is preparing for sea level rise adjustments. Now the Netherlands happens to be an EU nation with the ability to cope with the effects of sea level rise, but many nations are not in this position. Furthermore this is only considering sea level, one projected impact of warming.

    When you say “actively advocate policies that will almost beyond a doubt kill at least tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions. Who’s sick?”
    What action would we take that will incur the loss of millions and the impoverishment of billions? Please enlighten me.

    I also view your argument about more advanced civilisations having less of an environmental impact as completely flawed. What impact on the environment do the Inuit community, or (in the past) the native american, aboriginal peoples inflict that is comparable to what the Western World has had in the last 200 years? Did they create the ozone hole? Did they destroy global fish stocks to a reportedly unrecoverable level in certain species? Did the ancient samurai ever suffer from Minamata disease?

  27. As far as witchhunting being analogous to AGW, this is farcical: witch-hunting was based around religion and not around science. So there is no analogy there, and it is irrelevant.

  28. Neil,

    “I also view your argument about more advanced civilisations having less of an environmental impact as completely flawed. What impact on the environment do the Inuit community, or (in the past) the native american, aboriginal peoples inflict that is comparable to what the Western World has had in the last 200 years? Did they create the ozone hole? Did they destroy global fish stocks to a reportedly unrecoverable level in certain species? Did the ancient samurai ever suffer from Minamata disease?”

    I’m not entirely sure this is how far Adiff is going down the civilization scale. But think he’s talking more of countries going through industrial revolutions that create pollutants outside of simple CO2. And if we have to go back to Native American type technology to avert this 1m rise, it should be pretty clear we will impoverish and kill many billions of people. Our planet simply can’t support this many people without modern technology. Going back to pre-1900 technology would even kill millions. So weigh the pro’s and cons. How much do we need to cut out CO2 emissions, what will that do to modern civilization, and is it worth people moving from some low lying areas while also being able to benefit from a strong global economy? Given that you can’t tell me how much we need to cut CO2 to actually do any good, nor give me any sort of reasonable window of possibility on just what kind of effects we’d see from warming, let alone exactly how much warming we’d see, I don’t think you can even do this. So you’re ultimately suggesting we hinder our lives styles to some extent, though we don’t know exactly how much, largely in the absence of evidence that what we will be doing will even help anyway. If this were how you made your day to day choices, you’d be committed for insanity. Think, I’ll destroy this computer because it might be omitting light frequencies that might scramble my brain! I’ll stand in the middle of a highway stopping traffic because one driver might be drunk and he might kill someone! This is your logic.

  29. Not quite my logic i would argue.

    Im talking about industrialised nations emitting the most co2 which is proof enough of my argument. The top 3 being China, US and the EU emitting more than half of the worlds emissions. Not proof enough that? I dont see any developing nations on the top of that list! And co2 is by far the most relevant pollutant here. So really at the moment the world is struggling to cope with the carbon intensive nations that are the “materially affluent” ones…

    Surely your argument is based around your skewed ‘worth’ system, whereby you place maintaining your way of life above the livelihoods of millions because you are unwilling to change your lifestyle even slightly?
    Have we finally gotten to the bottom of this, people like you stubbornly unable to budge from a comfortable lifestyle? Even though the relative adjustments you would have to make to make a difference would be minor. Infuriating.

    The IPCC does tell you, according to model projections the levelling of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere required to keep warming under a certain level.

    And never has anyone suggested ‘going back to pre-industrial technology’.

  30. Neil,

    It certainly is your argument and you display as much in this post as well.

    “Surely your argument is based around your skewed ‘worth’ system, whereby you place maintaining your way of life above the livelihoods of millions because you are unwilling to change your lifestyle even slightly?”

    If it were just “slightly” that would do the trick, yeah maybe. But you don’t know that. Will altering our way of life just slightly actually do anything to avert this problem?

    “Have we finally gotten to the bottom of this, people like you stubbornly unable to budge from a comfortable lifestyle? Even though the relative adjustments you would have to make to make a difference would be minor. Infuriating.”

    Only you can’t prove, nor have even tried, that we’d have to make just minor adjustments…

    “The IPCC does tell you, according to model projections the levelling of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere required to keep warming under a certain level.”

    Ok, where? Does it show me what the cost of doing that would be? Does it actually know what its saying is true?

  31. Obviously reverting to the technology of the 1900s would kill millions of people. I can’t help feel this debate has digressed. Either way, that’s not been suggested, not an option and not worth discussing.

    It is known how much we would have to cut emissions and reasonable estimations of the repercussions of climate change have been given, with consequences becoming worse in line with increased emission.

    Yes, people are suggesting you alter your lifestyles (the use of hinder is debatable) and we do know by how much. Undoubtedly, the actions of one person will not change the world but if everyone makes small change it will aggregate to a significant effect. The three main emitting sectors are power generation, industry and domestic (primarily households and transport). It is the province of governments and industry leaders to deal with the emissions from power generation and industry but we can definitely take steps to mitigate our own contributions. Small steps such as better insulating our homes, using more efficient white goods and methods of transport and consciously reducing the amount of electricity we use (e.g. through installing smart meters in our homes, using energy-efficient light bulbs, etc.) will not only reduce our personal emissions but even save us money. Yes, you will have to pay initially for more insulation, efficient white goods, cars and smart meters but since these are all long-term purchases (or investments – e.g. houses that are well insulated will increase in value) they will pay off in the long run. (Here is a link to a diagram of the marginal abatement research these ideas are based on: http://www.dnv.com.au/binaries/marginal%20cost%20of%20abatement_tcm162-295645.jpg ). So these are all things we can do to help the cause that don’t significantly affect our lives – and may even improve them.

    Furthermore, as companies across the globe seek to reduce their emissions through energy efficiency they are also reducing their operating costs. As production costs fall so do prices offered to consumers which will also put more money in your pocket.

    It is also worth noting the often used cliché that it is not a sprint but a marathon and that the intergovernmental talks on climate change mitigation and adaptation are discussing strategy to be implemented over the next 10-40 years culminating in 2050 with, hopefully, the achievement of our emission reduction goals. No one is saying there is an imminent catastrophe or that if we don’t meet the target of 450ppm the world will end. We are just trying to limit the negative consequences of our current path of development.

  32. Chris,

    “Yes, people are suggesting you alter your lifestyles (the use of hinder is debatable) and we do know by how much. ”

    Got a reference for that?

  33. Wally, yes, the IPCC has several SRES projections based on different emission scenarios and the estimated warming with uncertainties. You will find this in the summary for policy makers along with references.

    I think it is fair to say that all someone like you or i can do in terms of emissions cuts require a small degree of change – make yourself less carbon intensive. Action en masse will accumulate into major cuts and cost you relatively little.

  34. While there is no established way to quantify a change in lifestyle these sources detail how individuals and companies can make changes to their daily routines that will put money back into their pocket in the long-run and reduce their emissions. A key point is that these strategies (in particular, the use of more efficient technologies) will save you money regardless of your feelings about the anthropogenic nature of climate change. You may also note that the second reference is the full paper outlining the diagram I linked to above.

    Walker, G. & King, D., 2009, The Hot Topic, London, Bloomsbury Publishing. [Available from: http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Topic-About-Global-Warming/dp/0156033186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272664333&sr=1-1%5D

    Enkvist,P. Naucler, T. and Rosander, J,(2007) A Cost Curve for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, The McKinsey Quarterly, 1, 35-45. [Available from: http://www.epa.gov/oar/caaac/coaltech/2007_05_mckinsey.pdf%5D

    This third reference is a more advanced report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers about more advanced steps companies can take towards developing a carbon strategy:

    PriceWaterhouseCoopers, (2008) Carbon Value: Robust Carbon Management, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Australia. [Available from: http://download.pwc.com/ie/pubs/robust_carbon_management.pdf%5D

  35. While there is no established way to quantify a change in lifestyle these sources detail how individuals and companies can make changes to their daily routines that will put money back into their pocket in the long-run and reduce their emissions. A key point is that these strategies (in particular, the use of more efficient technologies) will save you money regardless of your feelings about the anthropogenic nature of climate change. You may also note that the second reference is the full paper outlining the diagram I linked to above.

    Walker, G. & King, D., 2009, The Hot Topic, London, Bloomsbury Publishing. [Available from: http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Topic-About-Global-Warming/dp/0156033186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272664333&sr=1-1%5D

    Enkvist,P. Naucler, T. and Rosander, J,(2007) A Cost Curve for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, The McKinsey Quarterly, 1, 35-45. [Available from: http://www.epa.gov/oar/caaac/coaltech/2007_05_mckinsey.pdf%5D

    This third reference is a more advanced report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers about more advanced steps companies can take towards developing a carbon management strategy:

    PriceWaterhouseCoopers, (2008) Carbon Value: Robust Carbon Management, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Australia. [Available from: http://download.pwc.com/ie/pubs/robust_carbon_management.pdf%5D

  36. Achieving the IPCC goals will kill tens of millions. Just banning DDT has resulted in tens of millions of deaths. It’s time these facts were no longer ignored. Our arrogance in thinking we have the right to (and ability) to ‘fix’ what we believe is broken has costs that should no longer be denied.

    The examples Neil cites (of relatively non-impactful communities) are examples of very low technology (however masterful at that low level) societies, with very limited (essentially at long-term survival minimums) material affluence, but most importantly, extremely low populations. Using those examples as guideposts could be inferred as a suggestion on your part for elimination of most human lives. Is that a goal you think desirable? Are you seriously suggesting Science can recommend a retreat back to the Stone-age and survive as a respected (or even tolerated!) paradigm? If Science really does go that way (and I think that fad much more likely just a passing fit of madness than anything else) then it really will end up in the dust-bin of history, along with miasma and witchcraft. If things were (remarkably) to actually turn out that way, you’d see the idea of Science, as we understand it, abandoned rapidly, and if history’s any guide, with a great deal of bloodshed. I find the idea somehow we can’t screw up our culture bad enough to kill it interesting, since it’s been repeatedly done by other cultures in the past.

    As the purportedly catastrophic impacts all this suffering and sacrifice are supposed to avoid appear largely fictitious or exaggerated, they’re based on something other than reason (and real Science)…and there’s really no better term for such a faith-based commitment than ‘Religion’ even if the ‘Green’ ideology broadly substitutes a secular Moloch for a deity.

    If carbon really did seem a major problem, then you’d have a point (although far from a conclusive one even then). But it increasingly seems carbon’s a chimera, a false diagnosis. The U.S. is an excellent example. As it has become more wealthy, it’s also become more efficient, reducing pollution and negative environmental impacts, both in proportional and absolute terms, while less developed nations, such as China and India, behind the curve and playing ‘catch-up’ are becoming more impactful, at least for now. It’s generally accepted we can reasonably expect them, when (and if) they become sufficiently materially affluent, to more closely resemble the developed nations in terms of reduction in externalities and lower population growth rates. I think it’s a fair bet whatever the process, their actions will wind up being driven by market economics, and not more than in passing by environmental mythology or even real demonstrated externality costs. Regimes there that attempt otherwise as more than passing fad, or in appearance only, will be replace, either more or less peacefully, or not…but replaced all the same.

    Whether some of us think it unconscionably or not on the part of others, it seems almost everyone wants to be able to realistically expect to live to 70 with all their teeth intact, and not live with the real specter of perhaps having to watch their children die of preventable disease or starve.

  37. Fascinating rhetoric but irrelevant to the argument.

    “But it increasingly seems carbon’s a chimera, a false diagnosis” – a fictional statement.

    “The U.S. is an excellent example. As it has become more wealthy, it’s also become more efficient, reducing pollution and negative environmental impacts, both in proportional and absolute terms”.

    In absolute terms, the US is still the second biggest emitter of CO2 and yearly emissions have been growing since the industrial revolution. It also has one of the highest CO2 footprints per capita in the world. Go and look up the figures.

    “Achieving the IPCC goals will kill tens of millions” – What reason do you have to believe that?

  38. ADiff, you seem to have gone way off topic. I also don’t fully understand the point you’re trying to make.

    Why do you say that the ban of DDT caused tens of millions of deaths?

    What is the point of your question “Are you seriously suggesting Science can recommend a retreat back to the Stone-age and survive as a respected (or even tolerated!) paradigm?”?
    Are you suggesting that someone has claimed that “a retreat back to the Stone-age” is what is being called for to prevent climate change?

    With this comment “Regimes there that attempt otherwise as more than passing fad, or in appearance only, will be replace, either more or less peacefully, or not…but replaced all the same”, are you suggesting that if the Chinese government does not comply with the climate change “fad” there will be a revolt in China?

    What do you think the developed worlds’ role should be in aiding the development of the developing world?

    Finally I would like to point out that you assertions about the millions of deaths and you polarization of any comment made on this forum is stifling constructive debate.

  39. While there is no established way to quantify a change in lifestyle these sources detail how individuals and companies can make changes to their daily routines that will put money back into their pocket in the long-run and reduce their emissions. A key point is that these strategies (in particular, the use of more efficient technologies) will save you money regardless of your feelings about the anthropogenic nature of climate change. You may also note that the second reference is the full paper outlining the diagram I linked to above.

    Walker, G. & King, D., 2009, The Hot Topic, London, Bloomsbury Publishing. [Available from: http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Topic-About-Global-Warming/dp/0156033186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272664333&sr=1-1%5D

    Enkvist,P. Naucler, T. and Rosander, J,(2007) A Cost Curve for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, The McKinsey Quarterly, 1, 35-45. [Available from: http://www.epa.gov/oar/caaac/coaltech/2007_05_mckinsey.pdf%5D

    This third reference is a more advanced report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers about more advanced steps companies can take towards developing a carbon management strategy:

    PriceWaterhouseCoopers, (2008) Carbon Value: Robust Carbon Management, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Australia. [Available from: http://download.pwc.com/ie/pubs/robust_carbon_management.pdf%5D

  40. Neil,

    I know those projections are there, but I do not believe they have much grounding in reality. Nor do I believe me simply buying CFLs or turning my AC up to 80 degrees (I already have that nice efficient AC and good insulation, I like to save money as much as the next guy) is going to come any where close to off setting the further development of India and China. The western world is responsible for only about 15% of the world’s population. As the remaining 85% go through their industrial revolution, any cuts in our own emissions will be completely wiped out. So, any changes we make are futile. We simply control too little of the long term CO2 emissions to make much difference. Second, if we attempt to place CO2 restrictions on developing countries we risk war and/or harming the lives of those we intended to help in the first place, all while hindering our own growth. There is simply no reason to place artificial restrictions on our economic development until we are certain of negative consequences. At which time, we better be damn ready to enforce these limitations world wide. Otherwise, what’s the point? Are you up for that? This could amount to a third world war, and with the proliferation of nuclear weapons…how many could end up dead? How much does CO2 matter then?

    Of course the other option, still assuming this is real, we simply let innovation take care of itself, as ADiff alludes to. By that I simply mean, let our innovations in efficiency and power generation happen naturally. If one day, we can build a solar array so as to please all the different kinds of liberals and collect all the power we need, GREAT! Maybe we’ll be able to engineer a microbe to make oil out of CO2, H20 and sunlight, what ever. Until that day however, any action we take is likely, maybe even more so, going to do more harm then good.

  41. [Sorry if this is a repost, I can’t see it showing up on the page so I removed the links to the sources and am trying again. You can easily find them all if you google their names though]

    While there is no established way to quantify a change in lifestyle these sources detail how individuals and companies can make changes to their daily routines that will put money back into their pocket in the long-run and reduce their emissions. A key point is that these strategies (in particular, the use of more efficient technologies) will save you money regardless of your feelings about the anthropogenic nature of climate change. You may also note that the second reference is the full paper outlining the diagram I linked to above.

    Walker, G. & King, D., 2009, The Hot Topic, London, Bloomsbury Publishing.

    Enkvist,P. Naucler, T. and Rosander, J,(2007) A Cost Curve for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, The McKinsey Quarterly, 1, 35-45.

    This third reference is a more advanced report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers about more advanced steps companies can take towards developing a carbon management strategy:

    PriceWaterhouseCoopers, (2008) Carbon Value: Robust Carbon Management, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Australia.

  42. Chris, because the evidence compellingly supports it’s being true. Malaria’s made a big comeback, and it’s largely result of that ban. Here’s a case example: Al Gore claimed in his movie that because of Global Warming malaria had migrated to Nairobi. Even a cursory review of the historical literature makes it clear that malaria was indigenous there far in advance of any possible human induced Global Warming, but that there was a period in the 20th Century when it was almost eradicated there…a period that ended when DDT was banned. Malaria is one of the great killers today. Without arguing for the indiscriminate use of any technology, it’s pretty obvious the largely blanket ban effect of ‘banning DDT’ in wake of Carson’s emotionally compelling, but very scientifically questionable ‘Silent Spring’ has resulted in tens of millions of otherwise preventable deaths, and continues to maim and kill even as we speak……

    And yes, I’ve digressed from topical specifics very much toward the fundamental bases of those here. But it can be a bit difficult to respond to a conversation between several blind men about whether an elephant is a snake, or a house or a tree without drifting toward more sweeping generalizations!

  43. Chris, I fail to see how those references support what you are claiming. They are more dealing with implementation of “green tech.” That’s hardly the kind of data I was looking for.

  44. Okay, for brevity (and to sort the points in my head) I will use bullet points:

    – I understand that one man installing CFLs wont off-set the emissions of China and India. That is true. But my point was relating to what an individual can do and if that strategy is adopted on a large scale it will impact the overall emissions from a country’s households, a key source of emissions. Furthermore, an increase in the purchase of energy efficient products will send a signal to companies that consumers are thinking more about their impact on the environment and will pursue strategies to make their products more efficient and, therefore, more attractive to the environmentally conscious consumers.

    – You are correct about the divide of the world population between the developed and developing world. However, the proportions of emissions are nowhere near a 15:85 split. Different sources give different estimates but you can be sure that the developed world is responsible for more than 15% of the world’s emissions.

    – The idea that there is no point in acting on climate change unless others do makes a lot of sense. However, since the developed world is responsible for the most emissions historically and the developing nations are the ones who are most likely to pay the price of any negative repercussions of climate change it seems a good act of faith for the developed nations to take the first step. Moreover, through international agreements like those sought through conferences like Copenhagen, countries are seeking solutions that they can all agree on. The Kyoto Protocol was an international agreement whereby all nations in the world agreed on a plan of action, all nations apart from America. So, ironically, it is the rest of the world’s efforts that are futile because America won’t join in. Any steps by America to get the ball rolling will be seen as a positive step toward an international agreement by the rest of the world.

    – There is no risk of a war as a result of mitigation and adaptation of AGW. CO2 restrictions are not placed onto any members of an international agreement. Targets are agreed to by all members so no one will be forced into a situation they do not agree to, they can simply not ratify the agreement (such as America did with the Kyoto Protocol). Similarly, the threat of nuclear attack by any nation on another is very low. Countries develop nuclear weapons to give themselves weight on the global political scene but the logic of mutually assured destruction ensures that no government would attack another with nuclear weapons. Either way, a discussion of nuclear proliferation is a topic for another forum all together.

    – It seems that you would be in favour of taking action were negative consequences to manifest themselves. Through the lag associated with the science of climate change by the time negative environmental impact occurs it would already be too late to prevent further detrimental outcomes. There is also the argument, which I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times, that given the possible futures we face, the outcomes of taking action logically outweigh inaction regardless of the effects of AGW.

    – Also, as demonstrated by the Copenhagen negotiations, it is very difficult to develop strategies to deal with AWG. It would considerably harder to draw up and implement a set of actions once negative environmental impacts had begun to occur.

    – As for waiting for science and technology to come up with a solution to the global warming problem. For starters, it seems fairly short sighted not to act. But aside from that, in the hypothetical situation that a scientific breakthrough did solve the problems, it is much more likely that such a breakthrough will occur through research and development spurred on by the environmental movement. To restate, it is more likely that the breakthrough would occur as a result of the climate cause.

  45. Wally says: ‘Maybe, but that doesn’t leave us with a right or wrong, just a perception difference. Things change, fairly or unfairly, and people have to adapt.

    No because the dev. world emitters are the cause of the harm done to the non-emitters. There is an obvious wrong-doing there.

    Wally says: ‘Can you actually prove to me that my actions, or even the actions of all the western world will actually avert this possible disaster? No, you cant’

    BUt assuming that emissions are the cause of the warming, then you would feel accountable? Of course you would.

    ADiff says: ‘You propose policies that would impoverish billions, and actually cause serious harm and death to tens, even hundreds of millions….an you call Wally sick?’

    Pfff. Well that does seem kinda counterproductive! No one is advocating policies like that. What are you talking about?

    Wally says: ‘There is simply no reason to place artificial restrictions on our economic development until we are certain of negative consequences.’

    Waiting ’till we are ‘certain’? You serious?

    What evidence to Wally and ADiff have that the issue is still too uncertain, and the costs of action too great, to advocate global emissions reductions?

  46. Chris,

    Bullet points 1 and 2 go together pretty naturally so I’ll address them as one.

    It is true that while population is split roughly 15:85 that the emissions ratio is very different, and not surprisingly the developed world output more than the developing world…for now. What happens 10 years from now, or 50? Our own economic actions are only being discussed to phase in over a number of decades. So, what happens when China and India are no longer the developing world, but more or less part of the developed world. That will roughly triple the population of the developed world, just assuming today’s populations. And in 50 years? Currently, most of these nations are growing at ~2% annual rate. That’s a doubling in 35 years. How in the hell are we going reduce overall CO2 emissions when 2/3 of that population is still developing, and its going to double in just 35 years? This is what I mean when I say CFL light bulbs and a little extra insulation isn’t going to solve a thing. We need large scale technological improvements to make a serious dent.

    “Moreover, through international agreements like those sought through conferences like Copenhagen, countries are seeking solutions that they can all agree on.”

    I’m sorry, what came out of Copenhagen exactly?

    “So, ironically, it is the rest of the world’s efforts that are futile because America won’t join in. Any steps by America to get the ball rolling will be seen as a positive step toward an international agreement by the rest of the world.”

    So far, I don’t believe anyone is actually living up to the Kyoto protocol, and the US has set its own standards anyway. Also the Kyoto protocol is pretty much completely toothless. Then of course there is China and India, reduced emissions from 1990 levels? Ha, that’s a laugh. You try to get something like this agreed on which actually has some teeth on it, and lets see what kind of response you get?

    Which leads into the war aspect. If you can’t get the everyone to agree to a meaningful and toothed program, just what do you do? What do you do when one, or several countries are in non-compliance, if you do get a agreement? When it comes to tough economic sanctions, you will absolutely risk war. Look at the oil and rubber embargos with Japan before we entered WWII for example. All it takes is one relatively powerful country that doesn’t want to play by your rules.

    “Countries develop nuclear weapons to give themselves weight on the global political scene but the logic of mutually assured destruction ensures that no government would attack another with nuclear weapons.”

    This assumes that the leaders of all countries with nucs in the future think logically…

    As for when to take action against AGW: I would recommend taking action when it is known, and I do mean KNOWN, not guessed at, that the bad will out weigh the good with global climate change. Until that is certain, there is no logical reason to harm ourselves now.

    “It would considerably harder to draw up and implement a set of actions once negative environmental impacts had begun to occur.”

    What about the positive ones? Maybe we’ll like them…

    “For starters, it seems fairly short sighted not to act.”

    Its hardly short sighted, I just don’t support this fire, aim, ready approach that you are advocating. You want action, mostly just for the that reason. You can’t actually prove climate change is likely to be a net negative for our global society, nor can you prove any actions we take would even significantly effect climate change in the first place. Even look at those IPCC reports with various assumptions about CO2 emissions, notice how those error bars overlap (almost entirely!)? And even those models can’t and don’t account for everything, so they are likely, ok certainly, underestimating the error, or are even completely worthless.

    “it is much more likely that such a breakthrough will occur through research and development spurred on by the environmental movement.”

    Not really. You can’t force innovation. We don’t know where the next big break through will come from. Solar has been largely stalled out for years. Wind power has been very incremental. Dams are nice, but they seem to be tearing those down more than building them. No one likes nucs it seems, even though they are the only rational choice if we really don’t like CO2. Sure, we need to publicly fund research, and if private investors what to explore ideas and extract profits if they hit, great. But we don’t need many, many billion dollar research efforts to attempt to force it. Science and technology don’t work that way.

    Recently in my field the huge amounts of public money has been spent on the 1000 genome project, and its just terrible quality because of previous costs associated with that large of scale sequencing. But if they only waited a few years for the next generation technology, they could have had 10x better results for 1/10th the cost. And now they are likely going to just redo it, or at least they should, on the new technology. Plus, you have the opportunity costs of programs like that. What if we could have used that money to, say, cure AIDS?

    So its just not worth it dump huge amounts of public money chasing some dream. Because it just might be some guy in his basement that figures it out without a penny of our money, or maybe it will come from a completely unexpected area that does have an obvious tie in to energy research that was more poorly funded thanks to the emphasis elsewhere. Or you may just never get what you want (see curing cancer). So despite what you may believe about AGW, we need a pretty balanced approach towards funding.

  47. Shills,

    “No because the dev. world emitters are the cause of the harm done to the non-emitters. There is an obvious wrong-doing there. ”

    If only you could establish that increasing CO2 was actually going to harm people, or even harm more than it helps.

    “BUt assuming that emissions are the cause of the warming, then you would feel accountable? Of course you would. ”

    Hard to feel accountable for something you didn’t know about…

    “Waiting ’till we are ‘certain’? You serious?

    What evidence to Wally and ADiff have that the issue is still too uncertain, and the costs of action too great, to advocate global emissions reductions?”

    False burden of proof. You want something done, you’re making the claim, you need to prove it.

  48. ‘False burden of proof. You want something done, you’re making the claim, you need to prove it.’

    The IPCC is my evidence. What do you have?

    ‘You can’t force innovation.’

    Yes you can. Happens all the time. War forces innovations, space race forced innovation, free-market forces innovation…

    And, in relation to the huge task of dealing with China and India, isn’t technology our only hope? I think that with enough ‘forcing’ we will come up with a solution otherwise we have no other option.

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