Defending the “Consensus” in Other Scientific Fields

Readers will likely find some parallels here to climate science:  A number of studies dispute whether cutting back on salt consumption to government-recommended levels is really healthier.   Gary Taubes wrote a long opinion piece in the NY Times this Sunday highlighting evidence that eating too little salt can actually increase mortality from heart disease.  Now, I don’t really have a dog in this hunt and haven’t studied the evidence either way, but I thought the reaction of the anti-salt crusaders was familiar:

Proponents of the eat-less-salt campaign tend to deal with this contradictory evidence by implying that anyone raising it is a shill for the food industry and doesn’t care about saving lives. An N.I.H. administrator told me back in 1998 that to publicly question the science on salt was to play into the hands of the industry. “As long as there are things in the media that say the salt controversy continues,” he said, “they win.”

When several agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, held a hearing last November to discuss how to go about getting Americans to eat less salt (as opposed to whether or not we should eat less salt), these proponents argued that the latest reports suggesting damage from lower-salt diets should simply be ignored. Lawrence Appel, an epidemiologist and a co-author of the DASH-Sodium trial, said “there is nothing really new.” According to the cardiologist Graham MacGregor, who has been promoting low-salt diets since the 1980s, the studies were no more than “a minor irritation that causes us a bit of aggravation.”

This attitude that studies that go against prevailing beliefs should be ignored on the basis that, well, they go against prevailing beliefs, has been the norm for the anti-salt campaign for decades. Maybe now the prevailing beliefs should be changed. The British scientist and educator Thomas Huxley, known as Darwin’s bulldog for his advocacy of evolution, may have put it best back in 1860. “My business,” he wrote, “is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations.”

80 thoughts on “Defending the “Consensus” in Other Scientific Fields”

  1. It is interesting that many of those who advocate dismissing evidence that goes against the consensus still advocate THEY be granted extravagant grants of tax moneys to do more research, hold conferences in exotic places, and pay for their academic overhead.

    If the formation of a consensus is the standard of truth, why is more research, conferences, and academic overhead necessary? Simply reach a consensus and eliminate the funding for any and all research, conferences, and academic overhead. Actual fact demonstrated by reproducible results is obviously unnecessary as are expensive research projects. All who oppose are to shut up as the science is settled by decree of the consensus.

    What if the consensus is wrong? Well, a consensus is right by definition because it is the consensus who decides what is right or wrong. Reality need not be consulted. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how many strings does it take to build a universe, and what shall we deny the great unwashed next are far more important to the consensus than truth, fact, or even reality itself. Oh yes, and send more money because the work of the consensus is so very expensive. Especially all those trips to exotic places for all those conferences and, last but not least, to pay for the upkeep for all those expensive academic buildings.

    If you haven’t noticed, basic logic and even internal consistency is not a requirement to be met by the consensus. All they have to do is assert that there is a consensus and they are thereby the unquestionable masters of the universe. They might get away with that but for one almost vanishingly small problem: reality doesn’t give a damn about anyone’s consensus. It simply is what it is. Our choice is to discover what it is and act accordingly or die in the process of trying to act as reality isn’t. Darwinism ultimately wins: the fit survive and the unfit becomes extinct.

  2. I agree.

    It is like the alarmists who ASSUME that reducing CO2 will lower temperatures without any attempt to see if it is true !

  3. *****“My business,” he wrote, “is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations.”

    This could readily and just as easily apply to the Denialist mindset as well.

  4. Salty,

    Which part?

    1: “teach aspirations to conform to fact”
    2: “make facts harmonize with aspirations”

    Into which camp do you fall? 1 or 2?

    Don’t bother answering. Your use of the term “Denialist” tells all.

  5. The difference is that with the climate hypothesis there is no other planet earth to compare to, in which CO2 was not raised, as a negative control. A negative control is necessary to make a valid scientific conclusion.

    With salt, we can at least compare groups with different salt intakes and lo and behold the conclusion is: salt affect different people, differently. This should not have been unexpected.

  6. Objectivity is the key to all investigation. It is easy to get so enamored of one’s pet idea that one defends it as though it was a new born child. Accepting the possibility that one’s idea is wrong is the mark of a good investigator. If lots of people agree with you, it reinforces your determination to push the hypothesis. I once heard a complaint by a respected VP that he was always worried if everyone agreed with him. Something was being overlooked. Ideas need to be looked at critically. Very sound advice!

    Many years ago, I heard the saying “The most dangerous person in a scientific organization is an enthusiastic research director”. Amen.

  7. ****Your use of the term “Denialist” tells all.

    You are correct. I come here to talk to Denialists.

    Hi Denialists!

    Denialists attempt to make facts harmonize with their aspirations. This is a website dedicated to this practice. This is why you are Denialists.

  8. Someone who responds with data and logical arguments is a welcome voice. We are all interested in gaining insight into the issue under discussion. Those whose only comments are personal attacks and name calling are not denialists or greenies, they are morons.

  9. Well said Ted.
    Waldo: How is that article on your experiences here as a troll coming along?

  10. A “Denialist” is someone who won’t face the facts.

    So someone who thinks it is STILL warming despite 11 years of cooling qualifies.

    there has been no significant warming for 17 years or do you DENY that ?? Professor Jones doesn’t !!

    Someone who thinks CO2 causes increased tornadoes or rain or drought qualifies too since there are no studies which show an increase in these things.


  11. At least for the last twelve years, the atmosphere has been cooling; the surface temperature has remained almost constant. I’m not sure about the last 17 years, though.

  12. However, as I emphasized before, a trend or correlation here does not prove that humans are not affecting the climate. It may have been cooling for 11 (or 12) years under the present conditions but it also might be true that without the dramatic increase in CO2 the cooling would have been greater or even that this period was just a temporary aberration. The proper comparison is not between the earth twelve years ago and today but between two planets identical in all respects EXCEPT the addition of CO2 into the atmosphere. Actually you would need a lot more than two planets to get statistically significant results but that’s another story). That’s how laboratory experiments are done (with the proper controls) and that is why the conclusions of a chemist or biologist are much more certain than that of a climatologist or historian. We do experiments.
    The arguments I hear from both sides of climate debate are very weak. The correct answer is that we just DON’T know what if anything we are doing to the climate. (Gasp! Horror, that a scientist could possibly admit that)

  13. Steve D:

    You are so right! Tha arguments ARE weak. Nobody really knows. I have made the point that messing up the world economy on the basis of a weak theory makes no sense. There is no viable alternative to fossil fuels. If the CO2 warming thing is really serious, we have no alternative to moving north.

  14. Know nukes. For many uses (e.g. electricity generation) nuclear energy (fission) is not only a viable alternative to fossil fuels but far cleaner, safer, cheaper and more efficient. If the political restrictions were lifted and the insurance costs made rational it would become the main source of power for most countries, particularly in Europe and the third world. I am not sure if this holds true for the US, since it carries the largest coal deposits in the world and so coal might still make more sense here. Ok, so we can’t yet make nuclear reactors small enough to power cars, but the third generation nuclear reactors are already tiny enough to power a small community. They are already used in places like Greenland and Antarctica where extreme cold temperatures make other means of power unfeasible. Fourth generation nuclear reactors, which should be commercially viable in 12-15 years will continue the nuclear reaction through all the radioactive isotopes to stable elements and so produce no radioactive waste. Good thing, because fusion power may never become economically feasible.

    If AGW is real, nuclear power will save us. If AGW is not real, nuclear power will still save us. Eventually, fossil power will run out and if we want to continue as a technologically advanced civilization we WILL switch to nuclear power. Either we will do this now, happily and by choice, or later when we have no choice, kicking and screaming.

  15. Quote :

    Salty Waldo:

    *****“My business,” he wrote, “is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations.”

    This could readily and just as easily apply to the Denialist mindset as well.

    The alarmists are the true denialists. They deny that it has been cooling for 11 years and hasn’t warmed substantially in 17 years.

    They DENY that AGW has been mild and beneficial since we started measuring in a little ice age.

    They should be labeled the DENIERS !

  16. Well netdr, here’s what NASA says:

    “NASA Finds 2011 Ninth-Warmest Year on Record

    “The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000.

    “NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis that shows temperatures around the globe in 2011 compared to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago. The average temperature around the globe in 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline.”

    Then there’s this:

    All of which seems to suggest, netdr, that you are either making stuff up, that you are reading a blog somewhere, or that you are misunderstanding what you are reading (which has happened before).

    Is this good enough data, Ted? And please, let’s not suddenly start pretending that you have been a rational, logical poster here. We know what happens once we start examining your statements. I still sometimes chuckle quietly to myself when I think about it.

    I have actually found a place which is interested in the trolling story, Paul, but my biggest problem is finding time to work on it—it’s sadly down on my list of things to get done, but I will, of course, let you know of any developments.

  17. The TREND is atmospheric cooling since 1998, that is a long time.

    Thee is no doubt that it warmed from 1978 to 1998 It cooled both before that 1040 to 1998 and 1998 to present.

    Despite huge amounts of CO2 released during WWII it cooled fro 1940 to 1998, why ?

  18. Yup. Reading a blog.

    And one might point out that you and your woody friends are cherry picking your end-points which, as you know, can lead to virtually any conclusion one wants.

    Tell you what, netdr. Since you seem to think you understand something that NASA does not, prove them incorrect in their overall estimation. The science community seems concerned about the steady rise in global temperatures since the mid-20th century baseline. You are not. Prove that your evaluation of available evidence is better than NASA’s—Peer review, prove them wrong. Or are you going to bravely post here and avoid the real experts as you have done for the past two years or so?

    You might start here:

    “NOAA: Past Decade Warmest on Record According to Scientists in 48 Countries
    Earth has been growing warmer for more than fifty years

    July 28, 2010

    “The 2009 State of the Climate report released today draws on data for 10 key climate indicators that all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable. More than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries contributed to the report, which confirms that the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.

    “Based on comprehensive data from multiple sources, the report defines 10 measurable planet-wide features used to gauge global temperature changes. The relative movement of each of these indicators proves consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, air temperature over oceans, sea level, ocean heat, humidity and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern hemisphere.”

  19. Past decade IS warmist means NOTHING IF IT IS COOLING AND IT IS !!

    The long term warming since records have been kept is 1/2 degree per 100 years and since 1998 it has COOLED. The trend is cooling so why should it change ?

    My great grandchildren might FREEZE to death !

  20. Skeptical science had an amusing graph which is amazingly accurate in one way.

    Notice how it warms despite occasional setbacks and actual cooling. In the earth this low rate of actual warming will allow us to find alternative fuels and avoid punishing taxes.

    The overall rate of warming is ½ ° per century if you include at least one whole cycle of the PDO.

    Since 2001 it HAS COOLED ! So the trend is even less than 1/2 degree per century !

    How the cowards find this scary is beyond comprehension for people with average COURAGE !

  21. C’mon netdr, enough shit-talking.

    NASA and the IPCC disagree with you. You need to prove them wrong.

    Write up your observations. Send them to Science or Nature.

    If you are afraid to do so, it proves that you are wrong and know that you are wrong.

    You will try to ignore the challenge because you are afraid to face the real scientists.

    How does it feel to be a fake?

    While you are at it, since there’s nothing to worry about, why don’t you tell the president of the Maldive Islands that there is no such thing as rising ocean levels?

  22. Waldo

    Smack talk is for the mentally challenged.

    If you can refute ANYTHING I HAVE POSTED .. DO IT !

    All climate scientists who can read a graph know that it has warmed only 1/2 degree per century and since 1998 it hasn’t warmed at all so even 1/2 degree per century overstates the non problem.

    If you disagree with any part of the above or can find any scientist that disagrees with any part of the above please feel free to enlighten me.

    The IPCC does not claim there has been more than 1/2 degree warming per century or that it has warmed significantly since 1998. Where did you get that Idea ??

    They PREDICT IT WILL WARM but don’t claim their predictions have ever been correct.

  23. The IPCC and I agree that there has been mild warming of 1/2 degree per century or less. We also agree that it has not warmed since 1998 so even that puny warming overstates the non problem.

    Do you disagree with what I posted above ??????

  24. NetDr:

    Are you still trying to talk sense to waldo? It’s a lost cause unless you do it for amusement. The fact that temp reached a plateau in 1998 means that all the recent data will be among the highest temps, even though the trend since then is downward. Anyone that does not understand that needs a shrink.

  25. The IPCC and I both agree that it has warmed less than 1/2 degree per century and the rate has gone down.

    The only point we disagree on is that the climate models which predicted 10,000 times more warming than actually happened will never be correct.

    It is one definiion of insanity to keep believing in models that are neer right and expecting them to be correct 100 years in the future !!

    Stupid ? YES !!!

  26. ‘Notice how it warms despite occasional setbacks and actual cooling.’

    So what are you saying? That whatever the CO2 is doing, it will be tacked on top of the natural cycles and variation which will occur no matter what? So trends upward and downward in temperature are almost meaningless. That seems logical enough for me and it CAN NOT be repeated enough.

    It means that if, because of the added CO2 the temperature only declines 1 degree when if in fact, had it not been for the CO2 the temperature would have declined 2 degrees then that one degree cooling is in fact global warming compared to what would have happened. But measuring this requires knowing what would have happened without human intervention. How to do this is beyond me and I suspect beyond any climate scientist as well. That is why climate science is a ‘soft’ science, like history. You can sit around, make observations and talk about it but you can’t do proper experiments. The best you can do is come up with a logical argument which doesn’t contradict the known data.

    And all this is predicated on the fact that CO2 in minuscule concentrations and in a complex mixture actually is a greenhouse gas. So far as I know this has never been proven by anyone and you can make at least a reasonable argument to the effect that might not be; the other gasses like nitrogen and oxygen might modify the greenhouse effect of CO2.

    ‘In the earth this low rate of actual warming will allow us to find alternative fuels and avoid punishing taxes.’

    Oh, you must mean nuclear energy since there are no other viable alternatives.

  27. ****”He amuses me !”

    I’m glad one of us is amused. I find netdr tedious and predictable.

    For instance, he ignores the challenge to actually do science and would rather post his observations here.

    He ignores the hottest decade on record and the 9th hottest year in recorded temperature history (which he seems to think insignificant).

    He is fascinated with models although there are actually only one piece of the puzzle.

    He does not read the actual science, probably because he cannot understand it, and still feels he can make a sound judgment about the merit of the science he is incapable of doing and cannot actually understand.

    For this reason he reads blogs, which simplify the issues.

    He will continue to ignore the challenge to actually do the science because he knows full well he is not capable of it.

    As long as I have been coming here, netdr has done the same.

    Hey netdr, remember when you mistook a model calculation for the actual temperature record? That was really amazing of you. You disappeared for a good long while after that too.

    Pretty sad, netdr, you faker.

  28. ****”Smack talk is for the mentally challenged.”

    I agree. All you do is smack talk, my friend.

  29. Now, I spent just a short time on the web and found NASA’s predictions: somewhere between 2 and 6 degrees C by the end of the 21st century.

    Netdr, it appears, disagrees with this evaluation of the facts.

    Netdr seems to think the planet is now cooling despite the hottest decade on record.

    So netdr, since you seem to think that NASA is wrong and you understand the science better, I double-dog dare you to go head-to-head with the scientists who predict a 2C to 6C warming in the 21st century.

    Don’t ignore the challenge and come back on me—I am simply reporting that you have misstated what the experts are saying, and I am simply challenging you to prove them wrong.

    Netdr, like Ted Rado, is chicken-hearted when it comes to actually challenging the real pros. Fakers.

  30. ‘He will continue to ignore the challenge to actually do the science because he knows full well he is not capable of it.’
    Right, because as I just said NO ONE is capable of it. There is simply no way we can be confident of climate predictions. There are too many unknowns and too much variability. I’m a biochemist and if I tried to publish a manuscript with the paucity of evidence that climate scientists use, I would be laughed out of my field.
    This is a very very young science. Please keep that in mind. I’m not trying to trash it, just remind people of the limitations.
    Why is the statement: “I don’t know.” so hard for scientists (or even nonscientists) to utter?

  31. ‘He ignores the hottest decade on record and the 9th hottest year in recorded temperature history (which he seems to think insignificant).’

    Why is this significant?

  32. The hottest decade on record isn’t significant if it is cooling currently and it is.

    The other factor is how much warmer? So far .8 degrees is slow and beneficial on balance since records started in the little ice age.

    Since 2001 it has been undeniably cooling so in the future it will be cooler not warmer so why panic ?

    The IPCC and I agree that it has warmed at most 1/2 degree per century and the rate has turned negative recently.

    The only way we disagree is that they think that models which have so far been 10,000 % too high will somehow be correct in 2100.

    That shows poor thinking skills.

  33. If the brightest of climate modelers best efforts have been wrong by over 10,000 % why should I be able to do better ?

    I believe it is impossible with our current lack of knowledge of climate to correctly predict the temperature in 2100.

    The ocean warming has apparently stopped and the atmosphere has cooled since 2001 [which is IMPOSSIBLE if CAGW theory is correct] so why believe it will ever get warmer ?

  34. Even Dr Hansen and his group of modellers were 150 % wrong with their 1988 predictions, and from 2001 to the present they are 10,000 % wrong, why should I be able to do better ?

    The IPCC and I agree on what has happened but differ on what is GOING TO HAPPEN.

    So far they have been 150 to 10,000 % wrong.

    Why spend $ based on models with such an abysmal record ??

  35. ‘The hottest decade on record isn’t significant if it is cooling currently and it is.’

    Except, I guess I would say that whether it is currently cooling or warming is also not significant. The variability in the temperature data is such that at any given time an unexpected and extended trend could occur in either direction for completely natural reasons.

    ‘Since 2001 it has been undeniably cooling so in the future it will be cooler not warmer so why panic?’

    Ha! Perhaps that’s a good reason to panic? There are a lot of valid reasons why global cooling would not be a good thing for the human race and that the best trend for us is actually a very slow warming. Still the cooling has been very tiny and as far as I can tell confined to the atmosphere rather than the surface or ocean so it’s probably not something to worry about at the moment. Also, the trend such as it is, could change on a dime.

    ‘I believe it is impossible with our current lack of knowledge of climate to correctly predict the temperature in 2100.’

    I agree with that completely and would further add that even picking out the directional trend (hotter or colder than today.) is probably not possible, yet. One day it may be.

    ‘Why spend $ based on models with such an abysmal record??’

    The idea is that with continuous work and refinement, and as we gain the knowledge of what should go into them, eventually the models will improve. (But they won’t if we don’t keep trying). I don’t have any problem with using models, as long as the researchers in questions remember that they ARE models, not reality.

  36. Steve D:

    You hit the nail right on the head. There are not only many variables, but no doubt many that we have not even thought of. As an old computer modeller of chemical plants and processes, I would not dream of submitting a model based on such a shaky foundation to management for decision making purposes.

    My original thinking was that if there is a viable alternative to fossil fuels, why not go ahead with CO2 reduction even if the AGW theory is wrong? Nothing is lost. Industry and life will go on. When I started to study renewable energy schemes, it became clear that there are none that are viable on a large scale. There is no workable backup (for windless/sunless times) or energy storage method. The most elementary engineering calcs show this. Those proposed are so inefficient that they use up all the energy saved by wind/solar, or are hopelessly uneconomical, or both of the above. Thus, outlawing CO2 without a viable alternative is economic suicide. It doesn’t matter whether the AGW thing is true or not. We have no alternative to fossil fuels for transportation. We can of course use nuclear for electricity. Interestingly, the same greenies who want to outlaw fossil fuels also want to outlaw nuclear energy. Go figure.

  37. NetDr:

    I guess asking questions or challenging anything reported in a journal is verboten. If Dr. Hansen says water runs up hill, we should raise hymns of praise without question. I never in my life expected anyone to accept my engineering work without question, so the whole concept is new to me.

    By the way, since we are both “chicken”, we should greet each other with a hearty “cock-a-doodle-do”.

    Pehaps our critical friend should write a paper entitled “Why a technically illiterate person can challenge engineers, but an engineer cannot ask reasonable questions of a climate scienist”. Following the logic of that argument would be fascinating.

  38. But a true environmentalist would want to increase the use of nuclear energy since it is the ‘greenest’ energy around, right? (it’s the most concentrated form of energy, the safest form of energy, the cheapest form of energy, produces no pollution to speak of and only a small amount of easily identifiable waste.)

    When I was a teenage, I remember thinking this and finding out to my astonishment that the greenies were AGAINST nuclear energy. They were against it even more than they were fossil fuels. Say what? How could that be? This perplexed me for a very long time.

    The answer I decided upon is that these so called environmentalists are not actually environmentalists at all and they only use the term to hide their true agenda. The clue to this agenda is that more efficient a source of energy is, the more they are against it and the more useless it is, the more they are in favor of it. In fact if you think about it, you will see an almost perfect correlation.

    Sure we can’t use nuclear power directly to fuel our cars. However, solar, hydroelectric and wind don’t work so well, either. You’re absolutely right we do not have a present alternative to fossil fuels yet, but other forms of fuel like electricity or hydrogen exist which in theory could be produced by nuclear power and may someday provide an alternative to fossil fuels. (Hydrogen for example has far more stored energy per pound than oil, it’s just very difficult to work with.)

    Will they work? I hope so because as I said, oil and coal will eventually run out. Then what do we do?

  39. Another point I’ve often wondered about: What if global warming is occurring at the catastrophic levels they say it is but it is the cause rather than the effect of the increasing CO2 levels. In other words, there would be nothing we could do about it. Then, can I panic?

    Or should I wait for catastrophic global cooling and the next ice age to panic. There is so much to worry about.

    Well, this obviously no more than a poorly veiled attempt on my part to make fun of the belief that the temperature the world as it is today MUST be the ideal temperature for human life and any deviation has to be a BAD THING. So what is the ideal temperature of the Earth?

  40. ****”If the brightest of climate modelers best efforts have been wrong by over 10,000 % why should I be able to do better ?”

    This is your strangest rational yet. “10K%”? Hmmmm….

    Quit pussy-footing around, netdr. Let me quote you to you:

    ****”It is one definiion of insanity to keep believing in models that are neer right and expecting them to be correct 100 years in the future !!

    “Stupid ? YES !!!”

    Apparently you believe the predictions of the climate science community are “stupid.”

    Okay, you believe you are smarter, better informed, and understand the problems with modeling better than the people at NASA, IPCC, NOAA, et al. scientists—good. Prove it. Write up what you believe is happening in the atmosphere and have it published.

    I know you will continue to ignore this challenge, by the way, and continue to claim you are a college professor.

    And then there’s this:

    ****”The IPCC does not claim there has been more than 1/2 degree warming per century or that it has warmed significantly since 1998. Where did you get that Idea ??”

    I got the “idea” (that predictions are for 2C to 6C by the end of the 21st century) from NASA. Look it up for yourself if you do not believe me. I just did a simple Google search. It’s responses such as this which make be believe you must make up stuff and not realize you are making stuff up.

  41. Hi Steve, did you see that NOVA episode a couple of years ago in which they talked about nuclear energy? It was very informative and came to many of the same assumptions that you do. They NOVA producers pointed out how many people had been killed by gasline explosions and the environmental hazards of fossil fuels and then compared these to the potential hazards of nuclear energy, which are comparatively minimal. The NOVA team argued that most of our perceptions of nuclear energy are pop-media generated. Interesting.

    Perhaps it is time—God, wouldn’t it be great to have a nuclear powered car? (Is that going to make you mad, Ted?)

    You are clearly well informed, and I at least really appreciate what you are saying, but I do have to wonder if you have an entirely balanced view of “greenies.”

  42. Steve D:

    The trsnsportation system could indeed run on hydrogen but at huge cost. The following approximate figures illustrate the problem.
    Use H2 in an ICE: power plant eff. 37%
    Water electrolysis eff. 80%
    engine eff. 20%
    overall eff. 6.9%

    Fuel cells: Power plant eff. 37%
    Water electrolysys eff. 80%
    Fuel call eff. 40%
    overall eff. 11.8%

    These figures do not include compressing or transporting the H2. It is almost impossible to liquify H2, so it is probably necessary to produce it near the point of use. Lots of small electrolysis plants scattered about the country. Probably the overall efficiency (best case) would be well under 10% overall efficiency, nuclear fuel to wheels. This compares to about 20% for our current autos. Thus, transportation costs would more than double, but yes, it can be done.

    Because of the low density of compressed H2 and the need for heavy high pressure fuel tanks, H2 would not be feasible for airplanes. For the same reason, one would have to “gas up” the auto at frequent intervals.

    As to your question “what do we do when fossil fuels runout”, our whole lifestyle will have to change. Cities will become small, with short commuting and shopping distances where a low speed, short range golf cart will be acceptable. We seem bent on perpetuating our current high performance auto age, which I don’t believe will be feasible when fossil fuels get scarce. Rather than frantically looking for a way to keep big, long range, high performance cars going, we should be thinking of life without them.

  43. ****“Why a technically illiterate person can challenge engineers, but an engineer cannot ask reasonable questions of a climate scienist”.

    Now Ted, you know that’s not what I have been saying at all.

    You consistently and deliberately misunderstand what I say.

    My challenge to you is to actually ask reasonable questions directly to the climate scientists.

    You know damn well that’s what I have been challenging you to do.

    You deliberately misunderstand because you are apparently afraid of actually asking questions, reasonable or otherwise, of climate scientists. You want to ask them here. I never challenge technical questions, only the motivation of the posts.

    You are afraid of the scientists, Ted, or you would ask them reasonable questions and not fritter around here where there is very, very little technical anything.

  44. Waldo:

    If you are suggesting that the only venue where I can discuss these subjects is in peer reviewd journals, you are nuts. I will discuss the subjects wherever I please, and with whomever I please. Do you realize that your continuing insults to everyone who disagrees with you makes you look like an ill-mannered fool? (I am sure I will get another absurd diatribe in return).

    I have many exchanges of views on these subjects with engineers and scientist of my acquaintence under conditions of civil discourse. These exchanges are illuminating and interesting.

    If you can’t learn engineering, at least learn manners.

  45. Waldo:

    I do not question the scientists since I have concluded that even if the AGW thing is true (I have no strong views on this), there is no way to implement it. This latter ia a purely engineering problem, which I imagine “climate scientists” have little expertise in. Consequently, there is no reason for me to get involved with climate scientists at all, even if I was expert in the field, which I am not. Even if I was, I would not feel constrained to limit my discussions to those that are climate scientists, despite your frantic admonitions that I MUST. I will talk with whomever I please. You of course have the same priveledge.

  46. Whether the climate models are any good has nothing to do with climate science, once the model is presented. It then becomes pure math. If it is postulated that
    y=f(x1,x2,x2,…xn), then the only quetion is how well does the data fit? A plot of Y predicted vs Y actual can be analyzed and a correlation coefficient determined. If the correlation is poor, the model is no good. Period. At that point climate science is not part of the discussion, only the correlation. Whether the correlation is poor because of faulty hypothesis, faulty math, or faulty programming is not clear at that point. We would merely know that the correlation is useful or not. I don’t understand the fixation with debating the minutae of climate science unless we determine that the correlation is excellent. Apparently, the correlation is poor, so back to the drawing board.

  47. The PREDICTIONS are for 2 degrees warming or more but the models which make these predictions are wrong by 10,000 % so far !

    Believing models which have been incorrect by 10,000 % or more will become correct by 2100. That is simply stupid.

    the predictions are garbage what has happened is gold.

    What do you favor garbage or gold ?

  48. The correlation of the PDO to temperature is 100 %>

    The correlation of CO2 to warming is ZERO !

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