A Vivid Reminder of How The Climate Debate is Broken

My Forbes column is up this week.  I really did not want to write about climate, but when Forbes conctributor Steve Zwick wrote this, I had to respond

We know who the active denialists are – not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies.  Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay.  Let’s let their houses burn.  Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands.  Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.

They broke the climate.  Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?

The bizarre threats and ad hominem attacks have to stop.  Real debate is necessary based on an assumption that our opponents may be wrong, but are still people of good will.  And we need to debate what really freaking matters:

Instead of screwing around in the media trying to assign blame for the recent US heat wave to CO2 and threatening to burn down the houses of those who disagree with us, we should be arguing about what matters.  And the main scientific issue that really matters is understanding climate feedback.  I won’t repeat all of the previous posts (see here and here), but this is worth repeating:

Direct warming from the greenhouse gas effect of CO2 does not create a catastrophe, and at most, according to the IPCC, might warm the Earth another degree over the next century.  The catastrophe comes from the assumption that there are large net positive feedbacks in the climate system that multiply a small initial warming from CO2 many times.  It is this assumption that positive feedbacks dominate over negative feedbacks that creates the catastrophe.  It is telling that when prominent supporters of the catastrophic theory argue the science is settled, they always want to talk about the greenhouse gas effect (which most of us skeptics accept), NOT the positive feedback assumption.  The assumption of net positive climate feedback is not at all settled — in fact there is as much evidence the feedback is net negative as net positive — which may be why catastrophic theory supporters seldom if ever mention this aspect of the science in the media.

I said I would offer a counter-proposal to Mr. Zwick’s that skeptics bear the costs of climate change.  I am ready to step up to the cost of any future man-made climate change if Mr. Zwick is ready to write a check for the lost economic activity and increased poverty caused by his proposals.  We are at an exciting point in history where a billion people, or more, in Asia and Africa and Latin America are at the cusp of emerging from millenia of poverty.  To do so, they need to burn every fossil fuel they can get their hands on, not be forced to use rich people’s toys like wind and solar.  I am happy to trade my home for an imaginary one that Zwick thinks will be under water.  Not only is this a great way to upgrade to some oceanfront property, but I am fully confident the crazy Al Gore sea level rise predictions are a chimera, since sea levels have been rising at a fairly constant rate since the end of the little ice age..  In return, perhaps Mr. Zwick can trade his job for one in Asia that disappears when he closes the tap on fossil fuels?

I encourage you to read it all, including an appearance by the summer of the shark.

33 thoughts on “A Vivid Reminder of How The Climate Debate is Broken

  1. Lance

    It looks like Forbes has pulled Zwick’s little call to violence. You can still read a cached page at Watt’s Up With That!

    Truly despicable. The smug self-righteousness of these people is breathtaking.

  2. Lance

    No, it’s still there.

    I agree with Warren that it should not be pulled. It will serve to illustrate the dishonesty and immorality of the arguments of climate catastrophists.

  3. netdr

    Thermodynamics says that the strength of winds is proportional to the DIFFERENCE in temperatures not the absolute temperatures.

    I have sat in a sailboat on the ocean all day when it was 100 + and only moved when the sun went down and the land cooled faster than the water.

    Think about it…..do the strong storms happen in the mid summer when it is the hottest ?

    No they happen in the spring and fall when temperature DIFFERENCES are greatest.

    CO2 is thought to act like a blanket thus evening out temperatures and slowing wind speed. That isn’t scary enough for the climate pessimists.

  4. Steve D

    “The historical evidence we have simply does not support a high sensitivity to CO2.”

    Do you have any evidence (other than simple extrapolation) that at the very low concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere AND in a complex mixture of gases which naturally occur in our atmosphere that CO2 is in FACT a greenhouse gas?

    Just because this effect occurs at high concentrations in a monomixture does not mean it occurs in the atmosphere. And if it isn’t that would explain your not so high a sensitivity, right?

  5. Waldo

    Wow! I am so touched!! Lance and netdr missed me! They really, really missed me!

    Great—glad to see you guys too.

    So let’s start: typical of the Denialist mindset, intemperate language is met with shock and moral outrage (okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but only just) when it is directed at Denialists.

    This Zwick sounds like a Dick…but this is the house you Denialists built, and this is the dialogue you started. And you don’t like the taste of your own medicine.

    Or, to put it another way: You can dish it out, but you cannot take it.

    Good to be back (I’ve actually been around, just using different monikers for fun).

  6. netdr

    Actually it is boring without opposition. Agreeing with each other is pointless.

    I missed waldo.

    I agree ZWIC sounds like an uninformed “Dick”!

  7. netdr

    I missed Waldo .

    I try to argue science with skeptical science and Hufpost and they block my polite posts because they can’t refute my arguments.

    Waldo never argues science just politics. Zwick’s statements have nothing to do with science , just politics ! I am surprised Waldo didn’t back him up.

  8. Lance

    Hi Waldo,

    Well, you didn’t disappoint. You went right for an insult and ignored the erroneous evidence presented by Zwick. At least you threw one of the insults at Zwick.

  9. Ted Rado

    I’m glad Waldo is back. It gives me the opportunity to relive my youth. I haven’t been in kindergarten for almost eighty years! We can talk about water running uphill, the error of using engineering calcs rather than than sighting down our thumb, etc. Just like Alice in Wondeland, fairy tales, and other bits of wisdom from my childhood. Maybe some Aesop’s fables?

  10. Waldo

    While I agree that the climate debate is broken on the exaggerations of frustrated ideologues, the people here are about as legit as Zwick is. Y’all do exactly the same thing Zwick does, only somewhat less coherently.

    And you folks do realize that Zwick was making an analogy right? There’s not literal violence or “bizarre threats” implied in his post.

    And I’ll sure that everyone here is equally outraged with the recent calls to jail climate scientists on various blog postings. Am I wrong?

    Hi Ted—good to be back. Found any green energy engineers you’re secretly afraid of lately?

  11. Ted Rado

    I’m still waiting for “green energy engineers” to explain how they will store wind/solar. This is necessary if one wishes to replace a large amount of fossil fuel. (The greenies want to replace 80%) .Also, I am waiting for a rebuttal of the Colorado power study (and others) which shows that the ups and downs in the power system to adapt to varying wind eats up all the fuel savings. Thus, wind energy is for naught in terms of CO2 reduction. All this in addition to the fact that wind/solar are uneconomical in the first place. Perhaps Waldo has some magic solution to these problems, which he learned in kindergarten?

  12. Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    I am not interested in jailing anybody. If they want to make fools of themselves, it’s their priveledge. I would LOVE to have a serious discussion of the obvious technical and economic problems with “alternative energy”, free of hype, zealotry, and hysteria. This is apparently asking too much.

  13. netdr

    Ted

    The biggest problem with wind power is that when it is 110 F THERE IS NO WIND and the need is maximum.

    The problem with solar power is that when it is -10 F it is frequently overcast.

    You have to have maximum power consumption planned for when the input is zero.

  14. Waldo

    ****”I would LOVE to have a serious discussion of the obvious technical and economic problems with “alternative energy”, free of hype, zealotry, and hysteria.”

    So what are you doing here? This place is a bastion of hype, zealotry, and hysteria.

  15. Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    You are the bastion!

    Netdr:

    That’s why you need storage. If the wind blows 30% of the time, only 30% of the fossil fuel can be replaced (at 100% efficiency). To get more, storage i required. Same deal for solar, but the number is 20% (in Arizona). In Germany, the numbers are 17-18% for wind and 8% for solar.

    As I have pointed out before, the inefficiencies of backup are such that little or no net benefit actually results from wind/solar.

    Again, all this could have been (indeed,was) figured out on paper before a dime was spent. Thanks to Waldo and his ilk, we have to demonstrate at huge expense that it is all nonsense. I hope the greenies are having fun. The Germans, Brits, Spaniards, et al are learning the hard way. The USG seems determined to follow in their footsteps, with Waldo cheering them on.

  16. Waldo

    Now come on, Ted. You have multiple avenues for a “serious discussion” involving alternative energies.

    You could peer review an article about the imminent inefficiencies of back up….but you disdain this rout, somewhat too conveniently.

    You could email any number of organizations, laboratories, scientists and engineers and explain to them how the greenies and the DOE are ruining the economy…but you have repeatedly ignored my calls to do so.

    You could write publicly a guest editorial for a newspaper or a magazine—even a letter to the editor would be something….but I suspect you will find some excuse for not doing this.

    You could even stand on a street corner and hand out pamphlets to passers-by…

    But you will not do anything of the sort. Rather, you’ll stay here, posting on a website with a tiny and inarticulate readership your frustrations with “greenies.” You are all bravado and hot air here on a blog which very few people actually read. What is more, you huff-and-puff on a thread where virtually no one will challenge you on the technology. So please—spare us your noble desire for a fair and balanced debate. I suspect you, like netdr, are afraid to swim with the big kids because on some level you know what would happen to you and your “calcs.”

    And one simply needs to read Mr. Meyer’s version of the Zwick posts to see a pretty clear case of hype, zealotry, and hysteria.

  17. DonM

    Skeptics can pay the cost of their adapting to climate change, and believers pay for the cost of any policy changes to prevent climate change.

    Sounds like people can pay for what they want to. I am for that.

  18. Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    At leat you are consistent. Insults and nonsense. NEVER an effort to deal with the real problems I enumerated above. Goodbye and have fun in kindergarten.

  19. Ted Rado

    One last thought re Waldo. The purpose of blogs is to give everyone a place where they can express their views on subjects of interest. If you feel this is a bad idea, you don’t need to come to this blog. Stick with your “PEER REVIEWED” journals. I believe Warren is doing a great service by running this blog, where many of us can CIVILLy voice our views. Waldo, you express yourself freely. Why do you object to others doing likewise, particularly when they clearly know more about the subject than you do?

    The last I heard, the first ammendment gives us all the right of free speech (you have it too). I didn’t read it to say only if the free speech is in a peer reviewed journal. If someone feels otherwise, what are they doing here?

    Finally, please describe wind/solar energy backup and storage schemes that you believe are viable. If you have some, I would love to see them. I have been unable to find any schemes so far that pass the the most elementary calc test.

  20. Waldo

    I don’t think I ever advocated standing in the way of free discourse, Ted; in fact, all I am doing is utilizing free discourse and expressing my view on a subject of interest.

    And I have constantly—CONSTANTLY—posted that I believe you when you discus the storage et al. problems with green energies. Constantly I say I believe you.

    But I suspect you post them here so you will not be challenged by real engineers. And I am very glad you were not at Kittyhawk or I’d have to take the steam engine home every Christmas.

  21. Ted Rado

    Why do you care WHERE I post my comments? I surely don’t care where YOU post yours (Kindergarten, maybe?). What does Kitty Hawk have to do with blind acceptance of every kookie scheme that the USG proposes? The Wright brothers did there homework and didn’t try to fly an anvil. I would LOVE to be challenged by REAL engineers. If I have made an error, I want to know about it.

  22. Waldo

    ****”I would LOVE to be challenged by REAL engineers. If I have made an error, I want to know about it.”

    Bullshit, Ted. I’ve given you any number of emails to REAL engineers whose work you have challenged here. I suspect you’re afraid of them and so post limit yourself to CS where you will find an uncritically accepting group of people with little more (and sometimes less) scientific background than I have, otherwise I do not care WHERE you post your comments. And history would suggest YOU do care where I post my comments.

    Come on, Ted, man up. You’ve been shooting your mouth off for a year now.

  23. Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    Why your obsession over whom I should talk to re renewable energy? Why the hell should I contact someone YOU recommend? I discuss energy issues with many engineers, who are competent and have worthwhile commentary on the subject.

    I haven’t challenged anybody’s work. I merely report the results of my own calcs. If you are so sure they are wrong, show me where! I have asked you to do so many times. If you want to get someone else to do so, by all means go ahead.

    If you have someone you think should comment, ask them to use this blog to enter the discussion. Hopefully, it will be someone who is competent and knowledgable rather than a person who merely parrots the greenie line and insults everyone who does not.

    I have a suggestion as to whom YOU should contact: a psychiatrist.

  24. Waldo

    I’ve never “recommended” anyone, Ted. I’ve simply posted the contact information for engineers whose work you have perfunctorily dismissed, say, engineers who want to experiment with kites as wind-generated energy systems. Again and again. Your “calcs” do nothing here—and I suspect that’s why you post them here (which, actually, you almost never do—most of your posts are vents about things you’ve read in the news).

    You’re copping out on me, bed. You’re finding a reason to stay in the shallow end.

    Are you REALLY an engineer? I’ve become fairly dubious about a number of the posters here (netdr has made various allusions to being a professor of some sort, for instance). So far I’ve been willing to believe you are who and what you say you are…but sometimes I have my doubts.

  25. netdr

    Waldo

    Here are the main problems with wind and solar power. They are unreliable !

    The problem with wind is that when it is needed most there is no wind. That is a fatal flaw.

    You have to have peak load generation capabilities besides the wind farms.

    The problem with solar is similar.

    The sun doesn’t shine when it is -30 F or so. Not always, but it is frequently overcast so again you have to provide peak power.

  26. klem

    The thing is, if someone wants to build alternative energy sources in their backyard like wind turbines or kites, they can go ahead, have fun. Just don’t force me by law to pay for it.

    Over time some of these energy sources will become economical, when that happens I’ll build them in my own backyard. I do not expect everyone else to pay for it.

  27. netdr

    I am just back from Galveston and I believe a wind farm would work there.

    I don’t remember any windless days there.

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