Bjorn Lomborg has a new article in The Times called At last, a Plan B to stop global warming. It’s paywalled, so I read it here. What Bjorn suggests is not only brilliant, but it’s so simple that it’s a wonder noone’s thought of it before. Bjorn suggests that

[i]f green technology could be cheaper than fossil fuels, everyone would switch, not just a token number of well-meaning rich nations. We would not need to convene endless climate summits that come to nothing. A smart climate summit would encourage all nations to commit 0.2 per cent of GDP – about $100 billion globally – to green R&D. This could solve global warming in the medium term by creating cheap, green energy sources, that everyone would want to use.

In a few simple sentences, Bjorn has illustrated the problem with what we’re currently doing. The problem is clearly that green activists have been advocating for renewable technologies that are more expensive than fossil fuels, rather than advocating for renewable technologies that are cheaper than fossil fuels. It seems obvious now that Bjorn’s explained this, so it really is amazing that this wasn’t realised earlier.

It’s ideas like this that illustrate why Bjorn is regarded by some as one of today’s leading thinkers. It’s also made me wonder if there are any other revolutionary, but simple, ideas that noone’s thought of before. I’m not in the same league as Bjorn so can’t think of any myself, but if anyone does have any ideas, feel free to suggest them through the comments.

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106 Responses to Doh!

  1. Rachel says:

    You’re not getting sarcastic now are you?

  2. Me, sarcastic? Never 🙂

  3. Rachel says:

    There is a serious point here though which is if the true cost of fossil fuels was reflected in the price then it probably wouldn’t be so cheap.

  4. BBD says:


  5. Indeed, that’s very true. Chris Hope makes this point on Twitter quite a lot, but many seem to ignore it.

  6. Lars Karlsson says:

    “[i]f green technology could be cheaper than fossil fuels, everyone would switch, not just a token number of well-meaning rich nations.”

    Well, that is the whole point with putting a price on carbon (cap-n-trade, tax or whatever). But maybe that’s not what Lomborg had in mind.

  7. Lars, given that I believe Bjorn thinks the carbon tax should be $5 per tonne, you’re probably correct.

  8. verytallguy says:

    I was surpised by the facts on costs. It would be interesting to hear from people who know more than I do what the current cost of renewables actually is compared to fossil fuels. Here’s a mea culpa from a post of mine at Stoat having previously assumed coal was cheap compared to renewables, with a few links.

    [I] just assumed that coal was cheaper (assumed because we subsidise wind). It looks as though in the US, onshore wind is actually cheaper than coal:

    In the UK it looks as though wind is slightly more expensive, but not a lot

    Click to access 71-uk-electricity-generation-costs-update-.pdf

    Although an earlier RAE report seems to conclude wind is about twice as expensive

    Click to access cost_generation_commentary.pdf

    Presumably wind varies widely according to geography.
    I hereby promise to research first and pontificate later in future.
    It does beg a question though. If costs are as close as this data seems to indicate, why do we need specific renewables subsidies to persuade generators to invest in wind?

  9. BBD says:

    Energy storage costs for wind (eg large-scale pumped hydro) and the necessary wide-area grid extensions to connect a national fleet are frequently (invariably?) not factored into the cost estimates. The grim truth is that wind – and especially offshore wind – *is* expensive when fully and correctly costed. This isn’t a reason not to expand the wind resource wherever possible. The future costs of rapid climate change will make wind look cheap enough to justify the front-loading. However, under-stating the true cost should be avoided.

  10. VTG, yes I wrote a post about this myself a while ago. I’m no expert but it does seem as though there are already renewable technologies that compare well with some fossil fuel sources. Also, as others have suggested, if you include a reasonable estimate for the carbon tax (Chris Hope would argue for something like $55 per tonne) then the comparison is even better. As far as I can tell, including a carbon tax, the most expensive renewable technology (offshore wind) is less than a factor of 2 more expensive than the cheapest fossil fuel source (Natural Gas – CCS).

  11. BBD, yes the front loading is something I had wondered about. Of course, one would expect the initial cost of most renewables to be considerably greater than the initial cost of fossil fuel technologies given that fossil fuels need to be continually imported, while renewables simply require maintenance costs once operational.

  12. BBD says:

    Anyway, we really haven’t got any choice. All low carbon generation technologies will be required – including nuclear where appropriate – to have a hope of staving off the worst. This is why I hate arguments about nuclear “vs” renewables – we need everything.

  13. BBD, yes I agree. In fact, that was one of themes of yesterday’s post. It does seem like many want to promote some kind of simple narrative when in fact it is a complex problem that will require a complex solution. The nuclear “vs” renewables is a similarly simplistic narrative.

  14. Rachel says:

    I also think we need all carbon-free energy sources and I get very frustrated with the constant bickering over different sources, especially the arguments about wind and nuclear. There’s always something wrong with one or the other and as George Monbiot has pointed out, these people would be better off arguing for blackouts. Well I’ve decided that I’m a carbon-free energy whore in that I’m happy to accept all carbon-free energy sources. 🙂

  15. idunno says:

    We should retrofit all vehicles with perpetual motion technology, as soon as it is invented.

  16. idunno, that was precisely the kind simple but revolutionary idea I was looking for 🙂

  17. Tom Curtis says:

    idunno, your thinking is to conservative. As we are going to invent perpetual motion at some time, and time travel at some other time; why not simply retrofit now? The fact that we are not retrofitting with perpetual motion already shows the people of the future really don’t consider it a problem after all, or else they would have brought back the perpetual motion machines for us to retrofit.

  18. Joshua says:

    We should eliminate all forms of government and determine resource allocation by carrying large clubs. The added benefit is that we wouldn’t waste any money on academic researchers who create faux science just so they can line their pockets.

    Did you ever hear someone from the prehistoric era complain about resource allocation or faux science?

  19. Joshua says:

    Along the same lines:

    Rachel says:
    “There is a serious point here though which is if the true cost of fossil fuels was reflected in the price then it probably wouldn’t be so cheap.”

    We should just eliminate any negative externalities that result from fossil fuels so that we can continue to use them without worrying about their true cost.

    Oh. Wait.

    “Skeptics” already do that!!

  20. Kevin MacDonald says:

    Seems to me that Lomborg has been so blinded by his one big idea that he’s missed others hinted at, but not addressed in his own article:

    We could make all nations rich and well meaning;
    We could convene endless climate summits that came to something;
    We could double GDP so nations only have to commit 0.1% to reach the magic $100 billion mark and;
    We could solve global warming by means other than creating cheap, green energy sources (if AGW has taught us anything it’s that geoengineering is possible and if Hammer films have taught us anything it’s that scientists love meddling with forces beyond their contol).

    If we adopted all of these measures we could probably have this whole global warming fankle sorted by Thursday next week, sooner if we also resurrected great minds from the past (Newton, Einstein, Jeeves, etc) and set them to work on it.

  21. Kevin, indeed. It’s so simple when you just give it a moment’s thought.

  22. Jhan Deth says:

    My mind is covered in sarcasm after reading that. Bravo.

  23. Jhan Deth says:

    I am not sure why we need to develop these clean technologies since Catastrophic Global Warming is almost certainly not happening and if it were it would be a net benefit to Humanity. And why should Big Government be paying for this? Clearly the Free Market would be better than Governments picking winners and losers. If They had not suppressed the Cold Fusion technology we would not be forced to back loser tech like high priced solar and CFL bulbs. That by itself should make it obvious to any but the dimmest of bulbs that the whole scheme is a power grab by the Authoritarian Left who want to take your freedoms and control your every move.

  24. Lars Karlsson says:

    If it is getting warmer, just install air conditioners!

  25. Global air conditioners. There’s a solution 🙂

  26. Rachel says:

    Everyone on the planet should be forced to go veggie 😉

  27. izen says:

    We could half our carbon emissions by simply doubling the energy efficiency of all the generating and transport uses of fossil fuels bringing the amount of anthropogenic CO2 emitted below the level that the natural carbon cycle can sequester.

  28. Dennis Bray says:

    How much energy would be saved by closing worthless blog?

  29. Rachel says:

    Not enough to justify the job losses, Dennis. 😉

  30. Nice to see you too, Dennis. Interestingly, I discovered recently that each Google search uses I kJ and emits about 0.2g of CO2. There’s a fact of the day for you.

  31. Tom Curtis says:

    Dennis, if you think your blog is worthless, just close it. Energy shouldn’t come into it.

  32. I am gonna get myself blocked forever in your spam filter and will again link to my blog. Because I also have a plan B for our planet.

    I am a little bit less optimistic that just subsidizing research into renewable energy will help that much. I would expect, that Wotts and his colleagues would write beautiful papers about the energy band of Silicon, I am not that sure that the prices would go down fast.

    For that we do need a market, that would stimulate research into the right questions that way you can see which solutions people like and work in practise. Thus I would propose to have regions, e.g. the EU, press ahead and introduce a real price on carbon. In the international negotiations we would have to arrange that such regions can protect their economies against cheap products that cost a lot of energy to make.

  33. KR says:

    Global might be an expensive starting point, but we could begin now with national air conditioners. Although Canada is likely to object until we get them all aimed at the Antarctic…

  34. Andy Skuce says:

    Air conditioners are unnecessary. If it gets too warm, just leave the damned fridge door open. H/T Homer Simpson.

  35. A couple people pointed out that renewable energy already is cheaper than fossil fuels, if you account for all costs (i.e. the social cost of carbon). But Lomborg doesn’t get this because he’s not actually an economist, he just plays one in newspapers. His solution is just ‘throw money at the problem and hope that solves it’. Good luck getting politicians to pony up billions of dollars for green tech R&D in an era of austerity.

    Renewables can provide significant percentages of power generation without requiring backup, if geographically dispersed, and especially if different technologies are combined (i.e. both wind and solar PV). And natural gas turbines can be used as cheap backup when needed.

  36. Dana, that’s an interesting link. I hadn’t seen a good discussion of renewables providing baseload power.

  37. BBD says:

    That is not a good discussion of this topic. None such exists.

  38. Isn’t good a relative term 🙂

  39. BBD says:

    See MacKay, Renewable Energy without the Hot Air for a grounded analysis. Note that for the UK, owing to latitude and maritime climate, SPV is not a useful component of a renewables mix, nor is there sufficient *suitable* land area available for the vast distributed fleet handwaved for continuous generation, etc etc etc.

    There is never enough energy to go around.

  40. Dennis Bray says:

    “Google search uses I kJ and emits about 0.2g of CO2” – interesting! But a very narrow analysis. What about the energy used by the people reading or contributing to the blog? Surely this is time dependent. Should slow readers and slow writers be punished? Should there be an individual cost attached to blog use? Do blogs contribute to climate change?

  41. BBD says:

    Do blogs contribute to climate change?

    Conceivably those misrepresenting science and scientists and the potential consequences of unabated emissions might exacerbate the problem.

  42. John Mashey says:

    I second the recommendation for MacKay’s :Sustainable Energy…
    I got to hear him talk and then talked to him a bit afterwards, always useful for calibration.
    I like his presentation techniques.

  43. John and BBD, thanks I’ll have a look at that.

    Dennis, I don’t really quite understand what you’re suggesting, if anything. It appears to be the somewhat unfortunate and simplistic argument that if you think AGW is real and potentially damaging then you should – individually – stop flying, driving, using the internet, etc. Apologies if that’s not what you’re suggesting. Firstly, as I suspect you well know, this is a global issue that should be addressed (if it needs to be addressed) globally. Secondly it’s not a moral issue in the standard sense. This isn’t a “stop imposing your morality on others” type of situation. Thirdly, I’m not actually trying impose anything on anyone. Most of what I’m trying to do (and possibly failing to do) is simply point out that the science associated with AGW is much more robust/settled than many would have you believe. That’s not to say that it’s completely settled and that there aren’t still uncertainties, but there is a much better understanding than one might realise if you got most of your information from the Daily Mail.

  44. BBD says:

    Or Reiner Grundmann.

  45. Dennis Bray says:

    Just following in the jist of the previous nonsense comments. Green humour?

  46. BBD says:

    What’s with this “green” framing, Dennis? Where did that come from? You need to be careful with framing, Dennis. It is a tell.

  47. Dennis, I see. Sorry, I was taking you too seriously. I’d forgotten that I’d asked for other simple but revolutionary ideas 🙂

  48. danolner55347852 says:

    Another fact of the day: every 10th time you use Google, there’s a special Google employee who shoots a kitten in the face. That’s a lot of kittens. They have a conveyor belt.

    Which is to say, thanks for that fact of the day, now I have to watch my incessant google use and feel terrible. Maybe I need to buy an encylopedia or… no, hang on: stop trying to find stuff out. Trying to find stuff out is DESTROYING THE PLANET. Everyone just STOP TRYING TO FIND STUFF OUT.

  49. Fragmeister says:

    If I get Lomborg’s idea correct, he wants Tesco value wind turbines.

  50. OPatrick says:

    McKay’s work is excellent – but is it out of date now? It must be about 5 years old. Has he updated? I know he promised to do so.

  51. BBD says:

    but is it out of date now?

    No. MacKay deals with energy and footprint, which have not changed at all. There have been no significant advances in efficiency in SPV, CSP, or wind in the last five years. SPV has got cheaper, but MacKay is interested in output and footprint, not how much panels cost.

  52. William says:

    It is possible that renewables work in some countries, denmark does not have a large heavy duty industrial industry and use storage of power in hydro electric, though even today I do not think they have closed down back up power from fossil fuel and they have very expensive electricity.

    Germany, not sure things are going well either, companies are having to install their own generators because of brown outs and the worry is price of electricity compared to the US in this area,

    Plus Germany is increasing use of coal,

    Germany’s Defective Green Energy Game Plan – Spiegel Online › English Site › Germany › German Energy Revolution
    25 Oct 2013 – Germany pretends to be a pioneer in the green revolution. But its massively … English Site; >Germany; >German Energy Revolution; > …

  53. William says:

    Denmark has use of hydro electric storage.

  54. Rachel says:

    More than 70% of electricity in NZ comes from renewables, mostly hydro.

  55. BBD says:

    Perhaps this time we can avoid allowing “William” / “Richard” to troll the living daylights out of the thread? Because make no mistake about it, that is what he is here to do.

  56. William says:

    Rachel, hydro is key, as in denmark for storage of power, denmark hopes to be renewable self sufficient by 2050, for a country with under six million people and little heavy industry maybe this is achievable but if denmark struggles to achieve this what chance heavy indusrty counties with massive populations, there is not enough land with the right locations for wind turbines, maybe sea based but this comes with so many huge costs.

  57. Rachel says:

    One solution Bjorn Lomborg hasn’t thought of is that we could all commit suicide and solve the problem instantly. But if that’s a bit too extreme, then the second best thing might be to all join the VHEMT or voluntary human extinction movement.

  58. AAshleySharp says:

    Slightly spurious example to follow but I have some sympathy with the view that we can and will innovate our way towards a set of solutions given the political (and societal) will to get there. If we take the Second World War as an example of a driver of technological development, the achievements of science in six short years (whether that science was used for the good of mankind is a moot point), were astounding. Granted there was a large degree of international co-operation and information sharing, and that we were facing a more immediate and tangible threat; if the will exists to drive this change, it can be done within the time frame necessary to avoid the worst aspects of climate change. I don’t think the difficulty will be a lack of innovation or delivery, it will be in reaching a wide enough consensus to facilitate it.

  59. William says:

    Mr ball, had does that subsidy work out on per unit of energy produced.

  60. AAshleySharp, I agree. I think we’re more than capable of finding a solution. In my opinion the irony of what Bjorn is suggesting is not only that it’s trivially obvious but difficult to achieve, but essentially is what many have been arguing for (i.e., let’s develop new technologies). The caveat though, I suspect, is that he thinks the carbon tax is small and hence wants renewables to be cheaper than fossil fuels with externalities ignored. Clearly that is more difficult than if one were to properly price carbon. There is also a market problem. I think we do need some kind of market influence. Simply saying “let’s do it” is probably unrealistic. A level of regulation (such as a carbon tax) so as to make the market prices more representative is probably necessary, but simply suggesting that we should commit 0.2 percent of world GDP is, I suspect, naive (and somewhat out of character, I would think).

  61. AAshleySharp says:

    Agreed the difficulty is setting up the structures necessary to deliver it without howls of indignation from the strict free market adherents! But he ho, much like the nuclear weapons program was not a free market enterprise, we do have some levers to direct research into the required areas. I’m less optimistic if we simply bang on some carbon taxes and say “over to you” to the free market to sort out delivery. Yes, innovation is expensive, but I fear Bjorn’s suggestions give succour to those who want somebody else to provide the solutions. I think a greater difficulty is creating a broad enough consensus to accept that the costs of tackling this problem have to be faced at an individual and societal level, without sparking a political revolt, i.e. the Australian example.

  62. Dennis Bray says:

    Quick note to BBD – why the paranoia? Is there a problem with ‘green’? Is there something inherently wrong with anyone who disagrees with you? If the discussions on this site do not tend towards ‘green’ (I had no idea that green was a new bad) then what colour would you choose? Anyone care to investigate 50 shades of green?

  63. KR says:

    BBD – Having read McKay I would tend to agree that renewables cannot be the sole source of energy for the UK. In the long term the UK may have to be an energy importer. You and I have in fact discussed that in some detail on SkS.

    But as I said there, given that there are already energy importing countries, I would consider that change to be a managable economic shift. Particulars will change, but we are dealing with that situation (energy importers and exporters) now. Not fun for the UK budget, but not a show-stopper for the world as a whole – the UK is not the entire world, despite the past aspirations of the British Empire.

    Wotts – In addition to the link Dana1981 gave above, the “Advanced” version of that came from an earlier thread with some 400+ comments,

  64. Dennis, the issue might be the apparent pejorative manner in which some use terms like “green” or “environmentalist”. I can’t tell you were intending it that way or not, but it wasn’t obvious. The other issue, of course, is the simple labelling that some do. I’m not quite sure why you’d regard this as a “green” blog. I mainly talk about the science associated with AGW. Unless you’re arguing that accepting the science makes you a green and being “skeptical” makes you “not a green”, but that would seem somewhat unfortunate if it was what you mean. Why would someone views about the environment influence their views on the scientific evidence?

  65. BBD says:

    You used the label, Dennis, so you will now own it. Don’t evade the point by asking *me* questions. Like your original framing, this kind of behaviour is a tell. To be frank, Dennis, you are transparent.

  66. BBD says:


    Same response as always – reiterated toward the start of this thread: we cannot afford the ideological luxury of pushing *any* proven low carbon generating technology off the table. I regard all claims that renewables can provide baseload – based on absolutely no real-world demonstration, let’s not forget – as rhetoric angled at doing exactly that.

    Nor am I taking an anglocentric position, despite your unnecessary jibe about empire. I provide a real-world example of where excessive enthusiasm for renewables breaks down on contact with reality.

  67. BBD – to be fair to Dennis, I’ve just realised that I used the term “green” in my post so one could argue that I introduced it.

  68. BBD says:


    I am a great fan of context. Let’s go back to previous threads where DB has has much – very much indeed – to say, and take his contributions in context.

  69. BBD, indeed – hence my initial reaction. However, always happy to give someone the benefit of the doubt – as you probably already know 🙂

  70. BBD says:

    You are quite literally too kind, Wotts.


  71. > Quick note to BBD – why the paranoia?

    But the D word is very bad.

  72. Dennis Bray says:

    Dear BVD, having lain awake most of the dark hours anguishing over the depth of your comment, I would like, if I may, to offer you a metaphor (I assume you are familiar with such literary devices): The ‘frame’ is an arbitrary decision, it is what is on the canvas that matters.

    Dear Wotts Up. There was no malice intended in the comment. Certainly some people use the term green as perjorative, as they do with a myriad of other terms. That was not the intention here. However, I would like to point out that the term ‘skeptic’ is ONLY presented as perjorative on this blog. There is, however, such a thing as healthy scientific skepticism, a tenet of the sceintific method, something which seems to ellude most of your contributors.

    Why would I regard this as a green blog? Well, there is no denial that it favours things that favour protecting the environment. And there is nothing dishonorable with that. While your posts begin in the context of science, however, the same cannot be said for many of the subsequent comments. For example – perjorative framing perhaps –

    “We should just eliminate any negative externalities that result from fossil fuels so that we can continue to use them without worrying about their true cost.
    Oh. Wait.
    “Skeptics” already do that!!”

    That is acceptable? While a good part of this blog does indeed address science, a good portion of it is also devoted to ‘skeptical’ (not my framing) bashing. And the more the skeptic bashing the more the blog appears to be prejorative green.

    “Why would someone views about the environment influence their views on the scientific evidence?” – there is a very large body of literature explaining this phenomenon. Science, as much as we would like to think, is, unfortunately, likely as value laden as often as it is value neutral. The consumers of the science are often unaware of the process by which knowledge is generated. Also, I am sure most of your contributors would agree that science skeptical of climate change MUST be value laden, and science pointing to the catastropic impacts of climate change MUST be value neutral. Why? Regardless of the conclusions, both activities are conducted by fallible humans.

    Back to BBD – “You used the label, Dennis, so you will now own it. Don’t evade the point by asking *me* questions. Like your original framing, this kind of behaviour is a tell. To be frank, Dennis, you are transparent.”

    If only this comment made sense. I own the label “green”? Evade what point? What original faming? I am the invisible man? Responding as serioulsy as I can to your comment, yes I am tranparent, both in my owrk and in what I occassionally submit to blogs. I have nothing to hide. (And I even have the courage to use my full name.) Please think before you rant, I am sure it would improve your image.

    Just for the record: Climate has always changed. My interests are in how humans have responded. In the past, human response has been reactive and local. Currently concern is with change that may be, something that will have impact in the future, so far as we are informed (forewarned) by a human activity, namely science. My interests focus more on the conduct and social activity of science, not climate change per se. Coupled with the calls for a post-normal scientific method (including competeing knowledge claims, scientific and otherwise) and the rise of mass cyber communications, climate change and climate science offer a rather unique case study.

    Hey Willard, “But the D word is very bad.” – can I assume D is now a frame?

    Enough entertainment for this week …

  73. BBD says:

    Please think before you rant, I am sure it would improve your image.

    Further framing: unthinking “rant” and a silly crack about my anonymity. Yes, Dennis, you are transparent.

  74. BBD says:

    More framing:

    That is acceptable? While a good part of this blog does indeed address science, a good portion of it is also devoted to ‘skeptical’ (not my framing) bashing. And the more the skeptic bashing the more the blog appears to be prejorative green.

    This is a science blog. People here are critical of bad science, misrepresentations of science and misrepresentations of scientists. But somehow, to Dennis, this is prejorative [sic] green.

    This tells us lots about Dennis and very little more than we already know about this blog. Did I mention transparency?

  75. Dennis, I’ll make a quick comment. I do indeed use the term “skeptic” or “skeptical” in a pejorative sense. That, however, is intended to imply those who claim to be skeptical but support scientific ideas that have no scientific credibility. That’s distinct from those who are genuinely skeptical. So the use of “skeptic” – in inverted commas – is because I haven’t found a better term that doesn’t cause even more offense. I don’t have an issue with people being genuinely skeptical. There is much to question and discuss. I do, however, have an issue with people who claim to be skeptical but then think the ideas of Monckton or Salby (for example) have merit.

    As far as the comments go, sure some make statements that are opinion rather than science but that’s par for the course on most blogs.

    BBD – since Dennis is commenting nonimously, maybe I could ask that you cut him a little slack and avoid obvious ad homs.

  76. Rachel says:

    For what it’s worth, I don’t have a problem with Dennis’s use of “green” in the context of green humour. I don’t think he meant it to cause offence. I personally don’t like it when people call me a left-wing greeny though because I’m not. I do not agree with their blanket stance against nuclear power and GM foods. I wouldn’t describe this blog as a green blog either, which implies that it is somehow affiliated with a left-wing political party. Is it only possible for people left of the centre to value the environment? I really hope not.

    Dennis, I don’t agree with your comments about value-laden science. Wotts posted a thread about value-free science recently which generated lots of interesting comments. For instance, values might be reliability, accuracy and testability and should be a part of science.

  77. BBD says:


    Accusing anonymous commenters of cowardice – as Bray does above – is a well-worn rhetorical device. It may well be ad hominem. Certainly that is my view. Quite why I should respond by cutting Bray slack isn’t clear.

  78. BBD – to be honest, I had trouble finding where Dennis did this, but I think I’ve found. It seems fairly benign to be honest. A but of a dig maybe, but not something that I would find all that bad. I think we have to be able to take the odd dig now and again or else we’ll never get anywhere. He could even be implying both you and me, given that I’m still posting anonymously.

    Possibly both of you could cut each other a bit of slack 🙂

  79. BBD says:

    Characterising a comment as an unthinking rant is also ad-hominem on two levels, implying both intellectual deficit and a loss of control bordering on madness. All I did previously was point out that DB is engaged in framing – which he is – and that his rhetoric is transparent – which it is.

    Perhaps I might have some slack?

  80. BBD – yes, it would be good if Dennis would cut us all some slack rather than making what appear to be snide remarks about the blog and the commenters. On the other hand, maybe it’s better to let people behave as they wish and let those who read it judge who’s comments have more merit 🙂

  81. AAshleySharp says:

    Can’t we all just ‘get rid of the green crap’?

  82. Rob Nicholls says:

    Could we not just re-classify carbon dioxide as not being a greenhouse gas?

    Surely it can’t be that difficult – all we need to do is get a whole load of papers which say (for instance) that the effect of carbon dioxide on infrared radiation is saturated, to be peer-reviewed and published. To do this we need scientists to be more creative and to think outside the box more. e.g. if the equations that they are using don’t give them the results that we want, then the equations obviously need to be tweaked.

    Some scientists would balk at the idea of altering the mathematics behind their work just because the results have unpleasant ramifications, but they really need to look at the bigger picture. With just a few small changes to some of the so-called fundamental “laws” of physics we could solve the problem of global warming once and for all, without the IPCC imposing any nasty communist world government on us, and without interfering with the invisible hand of the market (which ensures happiness for everyone just as long as we ultra-privileged westerners continue to use our unfair share of the world’s resources for our own selfish purposes, with no consideration for the consequences to anyone else.) It has been proven time and time again that if you interfere with the invisible hand of the market then the World’s Poor suffer.

    (That’s one reason why we must not cut the $500 billion annual subsidies to fossil fuel industries – it would really distort market forces and disrupt the power of the free market to make everyone prosperous, and in the long run this would undoubtedly lead to mass starvation in poorer countries).

    Unfortunately most climate scientists are too rigid in their thinking, and they are far too obsessed with mathematical “rules” and physical “laws.” Most climate scientists seem to care more about getting their equations right than they do about the plight of the World’s poor.

    I blame the scientists for global warming.

  83. Tom Curtis says:

    Rob Nichols:

    “Could we not just re-classify carbon dioxide as not being a greenhouse gas?”

    I am sure some US state legislature will be happy to oblige.

  84. Marco says:

    “There is, however, such a thing as healthy scientific skepticism, a tenet of the sceintific method, something which seems to ellude most of your contributors.”

    I just applied healthy scientific skepticism to that last part, and have to call it BS. Most here have no problem whatsoever to apply proper scientific skepticism. Just look at the most recent post on an attribution paper – the result would actually fit into the ‘narrative’ of most of the commenters here (“it’s us”), but the paper is treated with appropriate caution and criticism.

    “Also, I am sure most of your contributors would agree that science skeptical of climate change MUST be value laden, and science pointing to the catastropic impacts of climate change MUST be value neutral.”

    I am sure you are wrong about the commenters on this blog. With all appropriate scientific caveats applied to that statement, of course…

  85. Dennis Bray says:

    Thought you might find this interesting – could be the basis of a new posting.

  86. Dennis, interesting, I’d been considering exactly that. May need to find some free time though.

  87. Rachel says:

    Could be an open thread…

  88. That's MR Ball to you. says:

    Dennis: “Why would someone views about the environment influence their views on the scientific evidence?” – there is a very large body of literature explaining this phenomenon.

    Perhaps you wouldn’t mind providing some citations for this large body of literature?

  89. BBD says:

    Opinion about climate science by meteorologists is not climate science itself. It is commentary. The assertion (and that is all it is) that climate science is value-driven is not demonstrated.

    Observant readers will notice a pattern here.

  90. BBD, that paper may be more interesting than it at first might seem. If I get a chance, I’ll write a quick post.

  91. BBD says:

    I look forward too it, Wotts. From the abstract it seems that disagreement with the mainstream scientific position on AGW correlated with poor topic knowledge, rejection of the scientific consensus and non-liberal politics. Given the actual nature of scientific consensus this was not exactly a shock.

    * * *

    On the more general point of talking about climate science, can I simply say that I find the invention of parallel narratives about climate science by non-climate scientists (eg “post-normal science”) somewhat unhelpful and self-serving?

  92. BBD says:

    Sorry – “parallel” should have been deleted; “narratives about climate science” is enough.

  93. BBD says:

    The aargh! is strong tonight:

    I look forward too to it

  94. > [The AMS survey] could be the basis of a new posting.

    Indeed, it’s been discussed at Judy’s eons ago.

    NW’s comment sums it well:

    “With a response rate of 26%, the survey results may not be easy to extrapolate to the membership as a whole.”

    That’s an awfully low response rate. Simple bounds on the population proportions would be extremely wide, almost noninformative.

  95. Willard, you could have mentioned that before I wrote my post about it 🙂

  96. > [C]an I assume D is now a frame?

    A concept is not enough for a frame to make, Dennis.

    Easier to assume that “but the D word is very bad” invokes a common victimization frame.

  97. BBD says:

    This paper is dated 2013 – I am slightly confused. Is it an update? Was publication delayed?

  98. I don’t know. It certainly cites papers published in 2013, so I’m assuming it’s recent.

  99. BBD says:

    Willard’s link to JC’s discussion is from 2012/03/06, hence the puzzlement.

  100. Rachel says:

    There’s a new paper which is basically saying that it is now cheaper to get electricity from renewable sources rather than from coal when climate impacts and health impacts are factored in. See The social cost of carbon: implications for modernizing our electricity system

  101. For the money we spend on new nuclear power stations, we could equip much of the available household roofs in the UK with PV generation. We would of course need some backup, but such an initiative would go some way to meeting carbon targets, provide much work throughout the UK and produce cheap electricity. I suppose the main issue is that such a scheme would not produce ongoing profits for energy suppliers so would never get the support of those holding the purse strings.

  102. Gareth, I don’t have a particular issue with nuclear. I suspect that the UK will need to have quite varied energy provision with wind, nuclear and others playing a role. The recent deal though does indeed seem to have been very poor and, from what I’ve read, involved old technology that nobody else wants. If we are going to introduce more nuclear, it would seem to make sense to have the most modern we can get and to negotiate the best possible deal – although maybe we need to optimise between those two (which could be what ended up happening, I guess).

  103. verytallguy says:


    nuclear is cheaper than PV and doesn’t need storage. Spending the same amount of money would reduce CO2 by a lot more on nuclear, would also provide jobs and would be cheap once the capital is spent.

    If you use the left over money that would have been spent on PV you could insullate homes and make an even bigger reduction

    So why choose PV?

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