Warmer but Richer

James Pethoukokis via Cafe Hayek

In one of its occasional assessments, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the cowinner with Al Gore of the Nobel Peace Prize—posited a scenario in which the global economy would grow at about 2 percent a year for the next 100 years (it’s growing at more than twice that pace currently) with "fragmented" and "slow" per capita economic growth and technological change.

Indeed, it is just this scenario that was used by the influential Stern Report on the economic impact of climate change. By the year 2100, the size of the global economy would be $243 trillion. However, there is another IPCC scenario. It imagines "a future world of very rapid economic growth, low global population growth that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter, and the rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies." According to this story line, the global economy would grow at 3.5 percent per year, giving us a $550 trillion global economy in the year 2100, more than twice the size of the economy assumed in the first scenario.

I don’t know about you, but give me a century of accelerating technological change and $300 trillion to pay for it, and there are few problems that would keep me up at night. So the question is: Which policies will get us there?

A couple of years ago, people were all asking themselves what the world could do to avoid catastrophes like the Indonesian Tsunami.  I argued the best thing to do was to help poorer countries to develop as fast as possible. 

Ironically, the primary way to avoid such disasters is not by reversing human technology (as global warming activists want to do), but by increasing it, in the form of warning systems and evacuation routes.  Global warming advocates actually want to keep everyone poor – they blame wealth and progress for global warming, but note that wealthy countries like the US (the global warming great Satan) has had the technology and the wealth to afford to put systems in place that would have prevented such a huge death toll.  Wealth, prosperity and technology are what would have averted this disaster, and it is just these things that global warming advocates oppose for Southeast Asia.

Scientific Analisis of the Day

From Greenpeace:


Gosh, its an amazing coincidence that the steps proposed to curb CO2 (reduce oil use, demonize oil companies, limit growth, increase government interventions in free economies, limit global trade) exactly match the political goals held by many leading climate catastrophists long before greenhouse gas theory was even born.  But I am sure its all about the science.  When I hear a climate catastrophist promoting nuclear energy to replace coal in electricity generation (the one no-brainer technology substitution we have available to us to reduce CO2 production), that is a person I can respect for their intellectual integrity.  Of course, I almost never hear it.

By the way, Greenpeace should have a picture of John D. Rockefeller,the founder of Standard Oil of New Jersey (and predecesor of Exxon) on the wall of every one of its offices.  Mr. Rockefeller and Standard Oil, by making Kerosene cheap and universally available as a luminant, did more than Greenpeace will ever do to save the whales.

Update:  The chart itself is kind of funny when you think about it.  It implies that increased prices for gas and oil, which increase profits, would also increase global warming.  But in fact, exactly the opposite is true.  As prices have risen, Exxon has made higher profits but demand has been reduced.  In fact, Exxon really "promoted" global warming the most in the 1980’s and 1990’s when they were making miserable profits and oil prices were low.

Example of A Temperature Proxy

Many of you have probably read about the disputes over temeprature histories like Mann’s hockey stick chart.  I thought you might be interested in how some of these 1000-year long proxies are generated.  There are several different approaches, but one that Mann relied a great deal on is measuring tree rings in bristle cone pine trees.  Here is a picture of a researcher taking a core from a very old tree that is then sent to a lab to have it’s ring widths measured. 


In theory, these ring widths are directly proportional to annual temepratures, but there are a lot of questions about whether this is really true.  Other factors, like changing precipitation patterns, might also affect ring widths, and there may be reasons why the scale could change over time.  Remember, we only have a few decades, at most, of good temperature data to scale growth in a tree that goes back over a thousand years.  In fact, scientists are finding that, more recently, tree ring proxy data for current growth is diverging from surface temperature data, meaning either that surface temperature data is flawed or that they don’t really understand how to scale tree ring data yet.  Interestingly, and as a sign of the health of climate science, researchers have reacted to this problem by … not updating tree ring proxy databases for recent years.  That’s one way to handle data that threatens your hypothesis — just refuse to collect it.  Much more on proxy histories here.

Why They Renamed it “Climate Change”

Global Warming was renamed "climate change" so that any "unusual" weather could be grouped under the banner and blamed on man as part of the general panic.  And, more specifically in this case, be used as an excuse to fund a little mountain climbing every year:

The Alps’ tallest peak was measured at 4,810.90 metres on September 15 and 16 – a 2.15 metre increase in two years, surveyors from France’s Haute-Savoie region announced.

"The height as well as the volume of Mont Blanc has increased considerably, because the snow has massed on the summit over the last two years," expert Philippe Borel said at a meeting in the Alpine town Chamonix.

When skeptics refute that many shrinking glaciers, such as the ice pack on Kilamanjaro, are due to changing winds and precipitation patterns rather than warming, they get ignored.  However, when ice is increasing, then of course the press blames it on winds and precipitation rather than cooling:

"We’re registering a greater frequency of winds from the west which bring rain and higher temperatures."

In the summer the precipitation translates into snow sticking in regions over 4,000 metres in altitude that increases Mont Blanc’s volume and height, Mr Giezendanner said.

Interestingly, that sounds a lot like this explanation for shrinking Arctic Ice, which most of the press did not see the need to report.

By the way, this story is an awesome illustration of the point I frequently make — that is, the hubris we have of declaring some weather pattern to be "abnormal" when in fact we only have been observing climate in any depth for a few decades.  Or in this case, for about 4 years:

The volume of ice on Mont Blanc’s slopes over 4,800 metres high was first calculated at 14,600 cubic metres in 2003.

It dropped to 14,300 cubic metres two years later, but then almost doubled to 24,100 cubic metres in 2007.

So for the whole history of time, we have three data points over 4 years for ice depth on Mt. Blanc.  How is there a story here at all, one way or another?

Postscript:  When I was a consultant at McKinsey, I used to joke that it is better to have just one data point rather than many, because then you could draw whatever curve or trendline you wanted to through that one point.

Al Gore and the Peace Prize

This morning I was all fired up to write something petty, like "Al Gore now has made the same contributions to peace as have previous winners Yassir Arafat and Henry Kissinger."  Later, I considered a long and drawn out post on the inaccuracies of "An Inconvinient Truth", but I really have already done that in long form here and in short form here.  In truth, the Peace prize process has for years been about a group of leftish statists making a statement, and often it has been about tweaking the US, rather than a dispassionate analysis of true contributions to peace made with the benefit of some historic distance (as is done with the scientific prizes).  Further, most folks I argue with don’t really care about the specific inacuracies in Gore’s movie, their response typically being something in the "fake but accurate" line of reasoning.

So instead I will say what I told a reader by email a few hours ago.  I tend to be optimistic about the world, and believe that we are approaching a high water mark (so to speak) for the climate catastrophists, where we will look back and see their influence peak and start unwinding under the presure of science and the reality of the enormous cost to abate CO2.  Gore’s Peace prize, in the same year as his Oscar and that global warming music festival no one can even remember the name of 3 months later, feels to me like it may be that high water mark.   The Peace Prize certainly was the high water mark for Jimmy Carter’s credibility, not to mention that of Henry Kissinger and a myriad of others.  Think of it this way — if the guys who made the peace prize decisions were investors, and you knew what they were investing in, you would sell short.  Seriously, just look at the group.  Well, they just invested in Al Gore.

Update:  One thing many commenters have not pointed out is that Al Gore is really manuevering the US and China and India (and the rest of the developping world) into a position that, if he has his way, conflict is going to occur over who gets to grow and develop, and who does not.  CO2 catastrophism has the ablility to be the single most destabalizing issue of the 21st century. This is peace?

The Studies Do No Such Thing

Today the USA Today announced in a headline:

Studies Link Man-Made Causes to Rise in Humidity

From the article:

One study, published in today’s edition of the journal Nature, found that the overall increase in worldwide surface humidity from 1973-99 was 2.2%, which is due "primarily to human-caused global warming," according to study co-author Nathan Gillett of the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, U.K.

Here is what makes me immediately suspicious, even at this point in the article:  No one can acurately come up with an empirical proof of how much of the warming from 1973-99 was due to man’s activities and how much was due to natural effects (the best you can find are studies that say "most" or "a lot of" or "some".  Therefore, it is impossible that anyone was able to attribute a humidity rise just to the man-made portion of the warming, since we don’t know how much that was.

Second, there are been a number of good studies that have shown that man can have a substantial effect on air humidity, but that these effects tend to be due to land use (e.g. agriculture, irrigation, urbanization, and even swimming pools) rather than CO2 caused warming.  To throw all of the humidity rise only on CO2, and not these other anthropogenic effects, seems facile.

So how did the study author’s get to their conclusions?

It turns out the only empirical work anyone did was measure humidity.  And yes, humidity did seem to go up over the these decades.  But this is the end of the empirical work in the studies. 

Both studies relied primarily on computer models of the Earth’s climate system to reach their conclusions.

Great.  For years I have called these computer models scientific money-laundering.  They take unproven assumptions, plug them into something they call a model, and then get results they claim to be proven.  They are washing garbage unproven assumptions through these black boxes and then calling them clean results on the back end.  Garbage In – Scientific Proof Out. It is crazy.  The models are built on the assumption that anthropogenic effects drive the climate, and so they therefore spit out the results that… anthropogenic effects drive the climate.

Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, says, "The main thing they’re trying to show is that the recent warming and moistening in the last 30 years is outside the range of natural variability, and that man is causing the warming. The use of climate models to do this is not convincing. … The idea that you can use climate models as a surrogate for reality is circular reasoning."

I often tell my friends that when you really flay away all the bullshit, the main argument by climate catastrophists for anthropogenic origens of climate change is that scientists "can’t think of anything else it can be."  In other words, having exhausted all the natural causes the current state of the science knows about, they assume the cause must be man.  My friends never believe me when I say this, but here is a climate scientist in his own words:

"Natural variability in climate just can’t explain this moisture change. The most plausible explanation is that it’s due to the human-caused increase in greenhouse gases," Santer says. His study also discounted influences from solar activity and the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

This is the heart of the "link" trumpeted in the article’s headline — that scientists can’t imagine that the cause is natural varaiblity and that it is plausible man is the cause.  Wow, that’s good science.  And by the way, can you imagine if, say, astrophysics took the same approach?  "We don’t know of any natural phenomenon that would cause pulsars so they must be man-made."  This is science Percival Lowell would have loved.

The Cost of CO2 Abatement

I had an argument about global warming the other night with a couple of friends.  I achnowleged that the world was warming somewhat and some of that was due to man, but said that any rational estimate of future warming due to man’s efforts yielded forecasts far below the catastrophic levels espoused by Al Gore (and for which he will apparently win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday).  Their response, which I have found to be typical, was 1) it doesn’t matter how much the warming is, it is bad to change the earth at all and 2) we need to aggresively fight CO2 "just in case" there is some catastrophic tipping point lurking out there.

The problem is that the costs of abating CO2 to any levels that might make a difference are both enormous and certain  (vs. global warming costs which may or may not be large and are uncertain).   Since fossil fuel production is intrinsic to economic growth, at least at current technology levels, large cuts in fossil fuel productions mean large cuts in world economic growth.  A reduction, for example, in economic growth by must 1 percentage point a year would reduce the size of the global economy by 2.5 times in a century.  And a one percentage point reduction is surely less than the true effect of the levels of CO2 cuts that catastrophists are petitioning for.

In particular, what is seldom mentioned, is that CO2 cuts of the kind suggested in Kyoto-type protocols are likely to lock over a billion people into poverty, just at the time when they are beginning to get their first experiences with prosperity.

In 2007, human beings will consume roughly 15 terawatts of energy worldwide. That level of energy use will rise rapidly over the next 100 years due to population growth and increasing living standards, especially among the global poor. By the year 2100, humankind will need to produce and consume roughly 60 terawatts of energy if every human on earth is to reach the level of prosperity enjoyed today by the world’s wealthiest one billion people. Even if economies were to become much more efficient, the total terawatts needed to bring all of humankind out of poverty would still need to roughly double by 2050 and triple by century’s end.

Eleven Inacuracies

A British Court, in response to a lawsuit aimed at blocking the showing of an Inconvinient Truth in British schools because it constituted political propoganda rather than good science, found 11 inacuracies in the film that the court said made the film of questionable educational value.  I could name a few others, but this is not a bad list:

  • he film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
  • The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
  • The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was "not possible" to attribute one-off events to global warming.
  • The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.
  • The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.
  • The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
  • The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
  • The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.
  • The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.
  • The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
  • The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.
  • Trillions of Dollars, Tenths of a Degree

    One of my frustrations in arguing that anthropogenic global warming forecasts are exaggerated is that people usually respond, "well, we should do something anyway just in case."  As if the cost of abatement were nearly free.  But the one thing we know is that any meaningul abatement of CO2 production will be extraordinarily costly to the world economy, and will have real and predicatable impacts on poverty and development. 

    We are perhaps fooled by past efforts at reducing pollution, where we have greatly improved air and water quality when we wanted to.  The elimination of SO2 pollution is one example.  But the difference is that these ancillary pollutants were not fundamental to the combustion process.  Hydrocarbons + O2 ==> CO2 + H2O.   Key pollutants we have fought in the past — ozone, SO2, NO2 — are not core to the combustion process.  They can be managed through cleaner fuels, some filtering, and better control of the combustion process itself.  CO2 is different.  There is no practical way to filter it cheaply.  The only real way to eliminate it is not to burn hyrdrocarbons.

    As a result, small improvements in CO2 levels require enormous investments:

    Last July, this column reported that the latest global warming bill — the Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007, introduced by Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. — would cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion in its first 10 years and untold trillions of dollars in subsequent decades.

    This week, the EPA sent its analysis of the bill’s impact on climate to Bingaman and Specter. Now we can see what we’d get for our money, and we may as well just build a giant bonfire with the cash and enjoy toasting marshmallows over it.

    For reference purposes, the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 380 parts per million. The EPA estimates that if no action is taken to curb CO2 emissions, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would be 718 ppm by 2095.

    If the Bingaman-Specter bill were implemented, however, the EPA estimates that CO2 levels would be 695 ppm — a whopping reduction of 23 ppm….

    Although the EPA didn’t pursue its analysis that far, figuring out the implications are readily doable using the assumptions and formulas of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Under the no-action scenario (718-to-695 ppm), the IPCC formulas indicate that the multitrillion-dollar Bingaman-Specter bill might reduce average global temperature by 0.13 degrees Celsius.

    Under the maximum regulation scenario (514-to-491 ppm), Bingaman-Specter might reduce average global temperature by 0.18 degrees Celsius. Actual temperature reductions are likely to be less since these estimates rely on the IPCC’s alarmist-friendly assumptions and formulas.

    By the way, the figure of 718ppm by 2095 is wildly overstated.  CO2 increased about 90ppm in the last 120 years, and it take wildly aggresive forecats to have it increase by 340ppm in the next 75-80 years.  More on that topic here.

    Wind Patterns May Be Responsible for Arctic Sea Ice Loss

    From the NASA webs site, with a hat tip to the Reference Frame:

    A new NASA-led study found a 23-percent loss in the extent of the Arctic’s thick, year-round sea ice cover during the past two winters. This drastic reduction of perennial winter sea ice is the primary cause of this summer’s fastest-ever sea ice retreat on record and subsequent smallest-ever extent of total Arctic coverage. …

    Nghiem said the rapid decline in winter perennial ice the past two years was caused by unusual winds. "Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic," he said. When that sea ice reached lower latitudes, it rapidly melted in the warmer waters.

    "The winds causing this trend in ice reduction were set up by an unusual pattern of atmospheric pressure that began at the beginning of this century," Nghiem said.

    The Arctic Ocean’s shift from perennial to seasonal ice is preconditioning the sea ice cover there for more efficient melting and further ice reductions each summer. The shift to seasonal ice decreases the reflectivity of Earth’s surface and allows more solar energy to be absorbed in the ice-ocean system.

    Climate is complicated, so there may still be more to the phenomenon than we understand today, but certainly this is a more satisfying answer the "global warming" since Antarctic sea ice was hitting a 30 year high at the same time Arctic ice was at a 30-year low.

    One of my favorite topics in climate discussion is "what is normal?"  We have observed climate really intensely for maybe 30 years, and with any kind of reliable measurements for no more than about a hundred years.  So given that climate moves in hundred thousand and million year cycles, how can we be sure our reference point, given 30 years of observation, is really "normal."  One funny aspect of this is how often the headline has been flashed over the last few weeks that Arctic ice is at an "all-time" low.  Really?  You mean the lowest it has been in the 6 billion year history of earth?  Well, no, just the lowest since 1979 when we started measuring by sattelite.  (For those without a calculator, "since 1979" is really only 0.0000005% of "all-time.")

    Update:  Anthony Watt has much more

    Are Pirates Behind Global Warming?

    The LA Times had a great article on correlations and causations:

    AGITTARIANS are 38% more likely to break a leg than people of other star signs — and Leos are 15% more likely to suffer from internal bleeding. So says a 2006 Canadian study that looked at the reasons residents of Ontario province had unplanned stays in the hospital.

    Leos, Sagittarians: There’s no need to worry. Even the study’s authors don’t believe their results.

    They’re illustrating a point — that a scientific approach used in many human studies often leads to findings that are flat-out wrong.

    Such studies make headlines every day, and often, as the public knows too well, they contradict each other. One week we may hear that pets are good for your health, the next week that they aren’t. One month, cellphone use causes brain cancer; the next month, it doesn’t.

    “It’s the cure of the week or the killer of the week, the danger of the week,” says Dr. Barry Kramer, associate director for disease prevention at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. It’s like treating people to an endless regimen of whiplash, he says.

    Take the case of just one item: coffee. Drinking two or three cups per day can triple the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a 1981 study. Not so, concluded a larger follow-up study published in 2001.

    Coffee reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, found a 1998 study. Not so, according to one published later, in 2005.

    “I’ve seen so many contradictory studies with coffee that I’ve come to ignore them all,” says Donald Berry, chair of the department of biostatistics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

    I wrote about some similar examples in my guide to global warming, in the chapter on the dangers of modelling based on past regression data:

    How is it possible that a model that accurately represents the past fails to accurately predict the future?  Financial modelers, like climate modelers, look to history in building their models.  Again, like climate modelers, they rely both on theory (e.g. higher interest rates should generally mean lower stock prices) as well as observed correlations in the historic data set.  The problem they meet, the problem that every modeler meets but most especially the climate modeler, is that while it is easy to use various analysis tools to find correlations in the data, there is often nothing that will tell you if there is really a causal relationship, and which way the causality runs. For example, one might observe that interest rates and exchange rates move together.  Are interest rate changes leading to exchange rate adjustments, or vice versa?  Or, in fact, are they both caused by a third variable?  Or is their observed correlation merely coincidence?

    It was once observed that if an old AFL football team wins the Superbowl, a bear market will ensue on Wall Street in the next year, while an NFL team victory presaged a bull market.  As of 1997, this correlation held for 28 of the last 31 years, a far better prediction record than that of any Wall Street analyst.  But of course this correlation was spurious, and in the next 4 years it was wrong every time.  Had someone built a financial model on this indicator, it would have looked great when he ran it against history, but he would have lost his shirt using it. 

    Want a better prediction record?  For seventeen straight US presidential election cycles, from 1936 to 2000, the winner of the election was accurately predicted by…the Washington Redskins.  In particular, if the Redskins won their last home game before the election, the party that occupies the White House holds it in the election.  Otherwise, if the Redskins lose, the opposition party wins.  Seventeen in a row!  R-squared of one!  Success against odds of 131,072:1 of guessing all 17 right. But of course, the input was spurious, and in 2004, soon after this relationship made the rounds of the Internet, the algorithm failed.

    Note that the historic relationship between football and elections is much stronger than the historic relationship between global warming and CO2.  In the last 12 decades, CO2 levels and temepratures have only moved in the same direction in half the decades. 

    Finally, as promised in the title of this post, here is the stunning relationship between global warming and the number of pirates in the world, via the Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid:


    Don’t Confuse Children with Facts

    In other posts, I have discussed the 800-year lag between temperature and CO2 in the ice core histories.  For those not aware of the issue, ice core data, like that shown by Al Gore in An Inconvinient Truth, initially showed a very strong and compelling correlation between CO2 and temperature.  Not only did CO2 look like a driver of climate, it looked like the driver.  But Gore is very careful how he presents this chart in his movie (one of his Really Big Charts).  The reason is that by the time of the movie, better instrumentation and lab procedure had shown that temperature increases in the ice core data actually preceeded CO2 increases by 800 or more years.  CO2 was being increased by heating of the oceans and outgassing of CO2 from them, not the other way around.

    The Science and Public Policy Institute has found a pretty glaring fabrication in Laurie David’s global warming propoganda book for kids.  The book shows kids this graph:


    Pretty compelling.  Every 75,000 years or so there is a CO2 spike, followed by a temperature spike.  But the SPPI folks found something interesting by going back to the original source:  Laurie David has reversed the legend.  They have called the red line CO2, when in fact it is temperature, and vice versa, reversing the causality back the way she apparently wants it.


    SPPI goes back to David’s source just to make sure, and yes, the original study behind the chart confirms that temeprature rises before CO2.

    On page 103 of their book, David and Gordon cite the work of Siegenthaler et al. (2005), for their written and graphical contention that temperature lags CO2. However, Siegenthaler et al. clearly state the opposite:

    “The lags of CO2 with respect to the Antarctic temperature over glacial terminations V to VII are 800, 1600, and 2800 years, respectively, which are consistent with earlier observations during the last four glacial cycles.”

    (Siegenthaler et al., 2005, Science, vol. 310, 1313-1317)

    Oops.  Are lies OK if they are "for the children?"

    It Has To Be Man’s Fault. We’re Just Not Sure How

    No, I am not going to get into ozone depletion theory.  While the science of anthropogenic ozone depletion has some uncertainties, the costs of abatement are radically lower, by order of magnitude, than for CO2-caused warming.  This changes the cost-benefit ration of action radically, resulting in it making more sense to take action on CFC’s "on the come" or "just in case" than is the case for CO2.

    However, I just could not resist the last paragraph below from Nature, via Hit and Run (emphasis added):

    The rapid photolysis of Cl2O2 is a key reaction in the chemical model of ozone destruction developed 20 years ago2 (see graphic). If the rate is substantially lower than previously thought, then it would not be possible to create enough aggressive chlorine radicals to explain the observed ozone losses at high latitudes, says Rex. The extent of the discrepancy became apparent only when he incorporated the new photolysis rate into a chemical model of ozone depletion. The result was a shock: at least 60% of ozone destruction at the poles seems to be due to an unknown mechanism, Rex told a meeting of stratosphere researchers in Bremen, Germany, last week….

    Nothing currently suggests that the role of CFCs must be called into question, Rex stresses. "Overwhelming evidence still suggests that anthropogenic emissions of CFCs and halons are the reason for the ozone loss. But we would be on much firmer ground if we could write down the correct chemical reactions."

    Exxon Was Only Offering $10,000

    Recently, Newsweek staked out the position that a) Much of global warming skepticism is tainted because Exxon was paying $10,000 honarariums for skeptical articles and b) James Hansen is a man we can all trust and is above reproach and untainted by bias.


    How many people, for instance, know that James Hansen, a man billed as a lonely "NASA whistleblower" standing up to the mighty U.S. government, was really funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute , which gave him "legal and media advice"?

    That’s right, Hansen was packaged for the media by Soros’ flagship "philanthropy," by as much as $720,000, most likely under the OSI’s "politicization of science" program.

    That may have meant that Hansen had media flacks help him get on the evening news to push his agenda and lawyers pressuring officials to let him spout his supposedly "censored" spiel for weeks in the name of advancing the global warming agenda.

    Hansen even succeeded, with public pressure from his nightly news performances, in forcing NASA to change its media policies to his advantage. Had Hansen’s OSI-funding been known, the public might have viewed the whole production differently. The outcome could have been different.

    Look, I don’t really care if Hansen took private money freely given to espouse his global warming opinions.  However, I am tired of skeptics taking media pot-shots for being "tainted" and "biased" for being funded at levels that are orders of magnitude lower than are climate catastrophists.  As I pointed out in the post linked above, James Hansen, Al Gore & Co. are to skeptics in terms of funding as is Hillary Clinton is to Mike Gravel in campaign contributions.  Never before can I remember the side getting outspent 1000:1 being the one targeted for being tainted by money.  Maybe we can stop and put real scientific scrutiny on James Hansen’s work.


    From Megan McArdle:

    Matt may be right that I haven’t harangued people about climate change recently, so here goes: dude, if you’re still a climate change skeptic, it’s time for a rethink. When the science correspondent for Reason magazine comes over to the reality of anthropogenic global warming, it’s safe to say that the skeptics have lost the debate. Not only the vast majority of the scientific community, but even most of the hard-core skeptics at conservative magazines, have abandonned the hope that we are not warming up the climate.

    There’s still debate about the effects of the warming, and what we should do about it. But there’s not much question that it’s happening.

    Duh.  The vision of the skeptic community denying that the world is warming at all is a straw man created by the climate catastrophists to avoid arguing about the much more important point in her second paragraph.  What I can’t understand is McArdle’s, and many intelligent people I meet, seeming unintrest in the degree of man-made impact.

    The chief debate really boils down to those of us who think that climate sensitivity to CO2 is closer to 1C (ie the degrees the world will warm with a doubling of CO2 concentrations from pre-industrial levels) and those who think that the sensitivity is 3-5C or more.  The lower sensitivity implies a warming over the next century of about a half degree C, or about what we saw in the last century.  The higher numbers represesent an order of magnitude more warming in the next century.  The lower numbers imply a sea level rise measured in inches.  The higher numbers imply a rise of 1-2 feet  (No one really know where Al Gore gets his 20 foot prediction in his movie).  The lower numbers we might not even notice.  The higher numbers will certainly cause problems.

    The other debate is whether the cost of CO2 abatement should even be considered.  I have talked to many people who say the costs are irrelevent – Gaia must come first.  But steps to make any kind of dent in CO2 production with current technologies will have a staggering impact on the world economy.  For example, there are a billion Asians poised to finally to enter the middle class who we will likely consign back to poverty with an aggresive CO2 reduction program.  With such staggering abatement costs, it matters how bad the effects of man-made global warming will be. 

    There are many reasons a 1.0 climate sensivity is far more defensible than the higher sensitivities used by catastrophists.  My argument a lower climate sensitivity and therefore a less aggresive posture on CO2 is here.  Cross-posted at Coyote Blog.

    Update: Sure, we skeptics debate the degree of past warming, but it really can’t be denied the earth is warmer than 100 years ago.  The problem catastrophists have with defending their higher climate sensitivities is that these sensitivities imply that we should have seen much more warming over the past 100 years, as much as 1.5C or more instead of about 0.6C.  These scientists have a tendency to try to restate historical numbers to back their future forecast accuracy.  We skeptics fight them on this, but it does not mean we are trying to deny warming at all, just make sure the science is good as to the magnitude.

    One other thought – everyone should keep two words in mind vis a vis CO2 and its effect on temperature:  Diminishing Return.  Each new molecule of CO2 has less impact on temperature than the last one.  Only by positing a lot of weird, unlikely, and unstable positive feedbacks in the climate can scientists reach these higher sensitivity numbers (more here).  A good economist would laugh if they understood the assumptions that were being made in the catastrophic forecasts that are being used to influence government action.

    Is James Hansen the Largest Source of Global Warming?

    On this blog and at Coyote Blog, we have focused a lot of attention on the adjustment processes used by NOAA and James Hansen of NASA’s GISS to "correct" historical temperatures.  Steve McIntyre has unearthed what looks like a simply absurd example of the lenghts Hansen and the GISS will go to tease a warming signal out of data that does not contain it. 


    The white line is the measured temperatures in Wellington, New Zealand before Hansen’s team got hold of the data.  The red is the data that is used in the world-wide global warming numbers after Hansen had finished adjusting it.  The original flat to downward trend is entirely consistent with sattelite temeprature measurement that shows the southern hemisphere not to be warming very much or at all.

    What do these adjustments imply?  Well, Hansen has clearly reduced temperatures down in the forties while keeping them about the same in 1980.  Why?  Well, the only possible reason would be if there was some kind of warming bias in 1940 in Wellington that did not exist in 1980.  It implies that things like urban effects, heat retention by asphalt, and heat sources like cars and air conditioners were all more prevelent in 1940 New Zealand than in 1980.  However, unless Wellington has gone through some back to nature movement I have not heard about, this is absurd.  Nearly without exception, if measurement points experience changing biases in our modern world, it is upwards over time with urbanization, not downwards as implied in this chart.

    Postscript:  A perceptive reader might ask whether Hansen perhaps has specific information about this measurement point.  Maybe its siting has improved over time?  However, Hansen has to date absolutely rejected the effort made by folks like surfacestations.org to document specific biases in measurement sites via individual site surveys.  Hansen is in fact proud that he makes his adjustments knowing nothing about the sites in question, but only using statistical methods (of very dubious quality) to correct using other local measurement sites. 

    No Warming in Antarctica

    Last week we saw how Antarctic ice is advancing, but somehow this never makes the news despite huge coverage of Arctic ice retreats.

    One good reason for this may well be that there has been no measured warming in Antarctica over the last 50 years.


    Steve McIntyre summarizes

    As I’ve discussed elsewhere (and readers have observed), IPCC AR4 has some glossy figures showing the wonders of GCMs for 6 continents, which sounds impressive until you wonder – well, wait a minute, isn’t Antarctica a continent too? And, given the theory of “polar amplification”, it should really be the first place that one looks for confirmation that the GCMs are doing a good job. Unfortunately IPCC AR4 didn’t include Antarctica in their graphics. I’m sure that it was only because they only had 2000 or so pages available to them and there wasn’t enough space for this information.

    We’re All Saved! State Treasurers Are on the Case

    Thank God, we are now going to all be safe from global warming.  From a speech to the National Association of State Treasurers:

    Continued leadership from state treasurers on global warming will be essential to ensure that we address the scale and urgency of climate risk—and capture the vast economic possibilities that lie ahead as the world transitions to a clean energy future.

    Translation:  Expect global warming to be used an the new excuse to raise taxes. 

    Actually, the speaker is referring to an action by the NY Attorney General demanding certain companies put disclosures in their investment materials about the future economic harms from global warming.