Being positive!

I’ve been doing what I do quite a lot these days, which is contemplating the whole online climate science debate. It’s very clear that any kind of dialogue with those who strongly disagree with mainstream climate science is virtually impossible. I know that some British climate scientists are trying, but either they don’t read contrarian blogs or, if they do, they do so with blinkers on or are much more forgiving than most.

Given this, I’ve been wondering about what is the best way to engage. One could be dismissive and rude about contrarians and impugn their character, but that just means turning into Anthony Watts and I’m certainly not willing to go that route. One could mock the contrarian views, but there are others who are more capable of that than I am. My current thoughts are that it would be good to be able to present a more positive picture, but I’m having some trouble seeing how that is actually possible.

One way to appear positive is to adopt the lukewarmer position, which is essentially that climate sensitivity will be low and that everything will be fine. The problem with this is that although it could end up being correct, it might not. Additionally, the evidence actually suggests that this is more likely to be wrong than right. It’s one thing to be optimistic and positive, but doing so by ignoring swathes of evidence that suggests that you’ll probably be wrong seems naive.

An alternative is what I think is the Pielke/Lomborg/Breakthrough Institute position. This seems to be that the priority is to simply continue to grow our economies and become wealthier and wealthier. If we do so, we’ll eventually have sufficient wealth to solve whatever problems we might face. There are – in my opinion – numerous problems with this strategy. My personal problems with this is partly that it seems to be relying on us magically finding a solution without ever actually trying to do so, and partly that it largely ignores the inertia in the climate system. Our emissions today don’t warm us immediately, but warm us over the coming decades. Therefore if we wait until it becomes obvious that we need to find solutions, we’re largely guaranteeing that things will continue to worsen over future decades.

Given that we’re an intelligent species that has the ability to understand what the future might hold, it seems rather odd to ignore that avoiding certain outcomes requires, ideally, acting sooner, rather than later. An additional issue I have with the Pielke/Lomborg/Breakthrough Institute type message is that it seems to be accompanied by claims that nothing we do will ever work. If we get more energy efficient, people will just use more. All climate treaties have achieved nothing, therefore they’ll never work. It’s hard to see how a message that nothing we do will ever actually work is particularly positive.

My preferred position is that we are in fact an innovative, intelligent, adaptable species that has the ability to make sensible decisions so as to avoid unnecessary risks. We have all this scientific evidence that tells us something of what might happen if we continue to increase our emissions. We have various possible alternative energy sources. We have all this information that we can use to make, ideally, sensible decisions about how best to proceed. My issue is that we appear to not be doing this. If anything, we seem to be doing the opposite. Our emissions seem to be following the high emission pathway and various governments have either reduced their commitment to address climate change, or are considering doing so.

So, does anyone have any better ideas? Is there a way to present a positive message that is both consistent with the scientific evidence and potentially effective, or are we simply in a position where that isn’t really possible? I certainly don’t know the answer. I’d certainly much prefer to be presenting things positively, than negatively, but I’m rather failing to see how this is possible without either sticking my head in the sand, or becoming a rampant libertarian, neither of which I’m really willing to do.

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155 Responses to Being positive!

  1. Rachel M says:

    Your post reminds me of one of Potholer’s YouTube videos where he says at the end:

    No, I’m not alarmed by climate change because we do know how to mitigate the problem and eventually fix it if we apply our minds to it and recognise that there is a problem. What does alarm me is that people are so badly educated in basic science that they’re willing to blindly believe the misleading crap they read in blogs and newspapers. I’m alarmed at the willingness of politicians to ignore the science because they don’t understand it and turn instead to their own beliefs

    I’m not alarmed by a problem that our intelligence will allow us to mitigate I’m alarmed by our ignorance and gullibility that leads us to wilfully ignore it.

    I don’t know what the solution is. I always think it’s better to be respectful in discussions with others but sometimes it’s just not possible to have a rational discussion with some people and in these cases, I think they are best ignored.

  2. History shows us that the statement, “If we get more energy efficient, people will just use more.” is correct up to a point, but the ‘point’ is critical and makes all the difference. By getting ‘more energy-efficient’ people actually mean that the cost of doing whatever work they want to do should drop. But with fossil fuels this is not really what happens. Efficiency is driven primarily by rising prices, which necessitate people wanting to use less energy—to keep the cost the same—while still achieving the same amount of work.

    This can be seen most clearly with cars, which today achieve twice the distance on a gallon of fuel than they did in the eighties, with no loss of performance and no increase in the overall annual per-capita mileage covered. Is there any data that shows owners of electric cars feel the urge to cover more miles? Do watchers of the latest LED TVs—which, although twice the size, use half the power of CRTs—watch twice as much TV? Do people who insulate their homes—reducing the amount of energy required—then turn up the thermostat beyond what is comfortable? The answer to the last question—that they turn up the thermostat to the level they would have had it before if they could have afforded it—confirms that use is price driven.

    So, to my mind, one thing that’s positive is that fossil-fuel prices must rise as they become ever harder to extract, and thus force energy-efficiency upon us all. The real problem is that those in power often have personal investments in fossil fuels and the plain fact is they don’t want us to be more energy-efficient, or even to find a source of cheap clean energy. Indeed, I sometimes wonder whether the development of technologies like fusion are deliberately held back. There’s just too much to be made by milking fossil-based commodities.

  3. Joshua says:

    I do think that there is a positive alternative – through processes such as “deliberative democracy.”

    In a sense, I think that folks like Richard Betts and Tamsin are bringing in some important elements – as dialogue between people from differing perspectives will be needed to develop and implement policies if that’s to within the next 150 or 200 years (the time period where, it seems to me, the science indicates that the evidence will be definitive)… but they are doing it in an ad hoc fashion rather than a deliberative one. As such, they are spitting into the ocean. They are not addressing the reasons why dialog with someone like Anthony Watts cannot be productive on any significant scale w/o placing it into a designed context.

    I certainly think that it is highly unlikely that anything productive on any meaningful scale can come about through online exchange – because the people engaged in online exchange (for the most part) are specifically not interested in deliberative exchange.

    As for what might happen that will lead to engagement of the sort I’m talking about….I don’t know. But same ol’ same ol’ ain’t going to get it done.

    Some of the references listed at the bottom of this URL might provide some fuel for thought.

    http://www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol2/iss1/art4/

  4. Chad says:

    ‘Additionally, the evidence actually suggests that this is more likely to be wrong than right.’ It does not suggest that at all. Are you one of those empirical data deniers, who ignore measurement if it does not correlate with alarming model projections?

  5. Chad,

    It does not suggest that at all.

    Do you care to provide some evidence, or are you simply going to assert it to be true? My evidence comes from various papers I have read that give ranges for climate sensitivities that include the possibility of them being high. You can also look at projections that give us an indication of how we will warm under various emission pathways. Of course there is evidence that it might be low and that we could follow a high emission pathway without much warming occurring. However, that is neither guaranteed nor particularly likely.

  6. Joshua,

    But same ol’ same ol’ ain’t going to get it done.

    Yes, that’s essentially the issue I have. I don’t know what works and I don’t see much point in simply repeating what’s already been done and been shown to be rather ineffective.

  7. Joshua says:

    As for RPJr./Lomborg/Breakthrough – I think that there are some distinctions to be made there.

    It seems to me that RPJr. is committed to engaging in same ol’ same ol’. He’s a climate warrior. You can’t engage productively with someone if they’re committed to their warrior status.

    I don’t know for sure about Lomborg/TBI in that regard, but I think that there are important elements in their analyses that have to/can be addressed through a deliberative process. I think that there are flaws in their analyses, but that in the end their input does reflect the interests (as opposed to positions) of important stakeholders – interests that have to be incorporated into the engagement. In the end, assuming a warrior stance against their input necessarily perpetuates the same ol’ same ol’. I have seen people try to engage RPJr. in good faith and seen that he is unable/unwilling/not self-aware enough/or for some other reason not able to get beyond/rise above the personality politics and identity-protective/identity aggressive behavior patterns. It would be interesting to see Lomborg/other members of TBI engaged with in good faith (I’d appreciate a link if anyone has one) – ideally in some sort of deliberative context that is well-designed to promote constructive dialog.

  8. Joshua says:

    Chad –

    ==> “Are you one of those empirical data deniers, ”

    I’m deeply offended by your use of the term “denier.” Why are you comparing Anders to a holocaust denier?

    I read last night where Judith curry compared the Pentagon to holocaust deniers, and wept uncontrollably for hours.

    I only managed to stop weeping just now, and then I read you using the term also. I find that soooooooo distressing and I’m sure any number of SWIRLCAREs will be along any minute to take you to task for your regrettable behavior.

  9. Joshua,
    I don’t know much about the Breakthrough Institute, so it may well be that it would be possible to engage with them constructively. I did follow a bit of an exchange between one of the BTI people and Michael Tobis in which he was trying to get them to recognise that a figure they were using on their homepage didn’t quite represent what they were suggesting (to be fair, I didn’t know enough to know if it did or didn’t). The discussion didn’t go well.

  10. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Not a promising tweet from Shellenberger – although in all fairness, it is hard to judge based on engagement with Michael in an ad hoc context – as he is seen as a committed warrior whether that status is deserved or not.

  11. Joshua says:

    Sorry –

    Gave the wrong link above -should have been this:

    http://www.la1.psu.edu/cas/jgastil/IssuesForumAndCivicEngagement.html

  12. OPatrick says:

    I’m sure everyone agrees that in the long term being open and honest is essential, including not ignoring something because it is inconvenient. Part of that is to acknowledge consistently and appropriately when people are not engaging in an honest way. That may be just ‘same ol’ same ol” but I’m not convinced that it has been done consistently enough and for long enough to know if it’s going to have any positive impact. Perhaps one addition that could help would be to build up evidence as to why you feel in a position to be dismissive of the views of given actors in the debate – blog posts where people can add their own comments in defence of the individual or otherwise. I’m sure it could be viewed as inflammatory (but then what can’t?), but maybe in the long-term it would be better for the genuinely sceptical reader (singular?) to be able to analyse why you are dismissive.

    Oh, and the obvious thing is more about the solutions – ‘and then there’s the engineering’? For example, has anyone seen anything more about Isentropic? It seems to me we could get more excited about things like this.

  13. OPatrick,

    why you feel in a position to be dismissive of the views of given actors in the debate

    I should have made clearer that if I am dismissive of anyone’s views, it is with respect to the science only. People can have whatever views they like when it comes to policy. Ideally, however, they should be based on a fair assessment of the evidence.

    blog posts where people can add their own comments in defence of the individual or otherwise

    From a personal perspective, I have no real interest in running a blog where people get to shout and be rude at each other. I get criticised for the moderation and the banning, but it’s not censorship and it’s not a public service.

    but maybe in the long-term it would be better for the genuinely sceptical reader (singular?) to be able to analyse why you are dismissive.

    In my case, I would have thought my posts do that.

  14. Re: AndThenTheresEngineering, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but anything like that is absurdly ridiculous. Energy is meant to be used, on the spot. Use it or lose it. Or lose it and lose it. There are far more effective ways of working the pathways than building a giant pressurized machine and digging up the ground, or creating a huge temperature differential. And any new organization that immediately creates an ‘institute’ is to be suspected right at the outset.

    There are great things afoot in quantum physics. The biggest problem is that most people and that includes a great majority of the physicists, are simply not aware of what is going on there.

  15. “If we get more energy efficient, people will just use more.”

    If we increase energy prices at the same rate, the price will stay the same and people will not use more. And we can use that money to decrease income tax and thus reduce unemployment.

    Is that a sufficiently positive message? I am not so into that management guru speak.

    Is it a positive message that old men, the mitigation sceptics, will be affected most by heat waves?

  16. fragmeister says:

    One of the problems with hoping that we can solve problems in the future is if the problem becomes pressing before we are ready with the solution. For example, we know that there will be a large meteorite strike at some time in the future. If it happens in a million years time, we will probably have developed something to prevent it. If it happens tomorrow then no matter what the wishful thinking is, the solution is worthless.

  17. OPatrick says:

    I should have made clearer that if I am dismissive of anyone’s views, it is with respect to the science only.

    That’s what I meant. Rather than getting into a pointless dialogue or being accused of not having a response you can point to your reasons for not engaging. I don’t see any intrinsic reason why this couldn’t be done as politely as the rest of the blog. And yes, your blog posts do normally give reasons, but I was thinking more of the comments section. And it wouldn’t just be a resource for you, or indeed by you, many others would benefit from having this resource. Desmogblog already does some of this.

  18. OPatrick says:

    TLE, I’m certainly sceptical of Isentropic, but I don’t get your dismissal of it. Which institute did they set up?

  19. Ok, they take their funding from an institute funded by … Caterpillar and other BIG energy producers and users, who specialize in … digging up the ground and building big heat engines.

    That should be your big hint. I would make more pointed less polite comments but that might disturb your sensitive sensibilities. I wouldn’t want you to become too … concerned.

  20. To be “positive” and “effective” or “potentially effective” all at once?

    It depends on the purpose. If the purpose is to change the minds of the deniers, then it’s a lost cause, since with respect to almost all of them, their minds cannot be changed. Ever.

    I really think that everyone who deals with science deniers need to understand this science denial phenomenon in general. I really do believe that the vast majority of climate science deniers are just as absolutist in their denials of this science as are the deniers of evolutionary science, very mainly because it’s the same bunch of people committing the denial for the same reason. (Cases in point: Here in the US, the vast majority of political conservatives are also religious conservatives who not only deny the results of evolutionary and climate science when these results even just seem to be at odds with their preconceived notions, but deny such results in epidemiological science, economic science, and psychological science, to name some.) Yes, some deny science for money, but that cannot be the motivation for science denial by the masses of people who deny, since they actually don’t get this money.

    But to go back: If the purpose is something else, then there can be a tremendous amount of good done by blogs such as this one.

    Here is a suggestion. With this blog, take on the role of being an educator of the general public. Let the purpose of this blog be to fulfill the terribly important job of educating the public, to keep it from being conned by the science deniers who are trying to commit this con.

    The reason this is terribly important is that if the public rejects the science, then the public will not agree to do what needs to be done, whatever that may be. (The deniers know this, which is why they are doing everything in their power to con…er…”educate” the public to see things their way.)

    The means of this education is to pretend that the public is a set of jurors in a trial, and they are watching this “debate” unfold. That is, the purpose is to show the jurors that the opposite side is in fact engaging in science denial by showing the jurors how the deniers are wrong. (Note: The jurors don’t need to follow the technical details to see the broad sweeps of the logic of the pro-science position and the broad sweeps of the illogic and logical fallacies of the anti-science position.) You would be both one presenting the case for science to the jury, and you would also to a large degree be one of those who provide expert testimony for science.

    Use the power of moderation to accomplish this. The moderation would be done accordingly, where the deniers who post here would be rigorously held to a standard of rigor found in courts of law. (This I think should be done even if they try to pretend that they are innocent members of the public just “trying to learn”.) To have the privilege of posting science denial here, they should be required to back up their science denial claims with what they think would hold up as evidence and expert testimony in a court of law. (I think that would be *greatly* entertaining! It would be much like watching evolution deniers trying to make their case in a court of law. Note:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Behe
    Quote: “…Behe was called as a primary witness for the defense and asked to support the idea that intelligent design was legitimate science….Behe was forced to concede that…his definition of ‘theory’ as applied to intelligent design was so loose that astrology would also qualify.)

    This should be easy. It should be obvious that it should be inevitable that science deniers of any science cannot do anything but fall flat on their faces in a court of law, or in any situation in which they are held to the same standards of rigor.

  21. BBD says:

    TLE

    So you are saying – without a single word of technical analysis – that Isenotropic’s energy storage technologies can be dismissed because it got a grant from the ETI?

    That’s not going to float.

    Consider that Isenotropic wasn’t set up by the ETI and it would have continued product development without the ETI investment. Where does that leave a claim like yours?

  22. No, I already told you, I can easily dismiss it because it is a large heat engine involving large pressure and temperature differentials and digging huge holes in the ground and building big heat engines. Why am I repeating myself here? The funding just came from researching it.

  23. un- or deconstructive says:

    But A.Watts and likes are ****** ** *****, who do ***, *******, *******, ******** as their ****** **********, further *********** and ********* even the *********** who are ********** ********* wrt ********** to ************* practises **** *** ******** ** **** *** ****** with clearcut support from *** **** and ************** ****** *********** of which are many? See, it’s easy to be positive about it, just cut all the potentially ********* ******** directed to ***** ******** out, and end up **** *** ***********, *********** **** view of the future to ************ ******** and **** ** *** ****** ***********, telling them ** ** *** * *** in this **** ****** ** ********* ******* ****** to ****** **** ********* than ***.

  24. anoilman says:

    Anders, by being public the way you are, you have certainly generated a lot of sane conversation on the material. I don’t know if the world can expect more of you. Between Anders, Willard, and a few of you other hoodlums, I’ve certainly sharpened my skills.

    I think the fact is that individuals are rather insignificant in doing something about Global Warming. You need to spread the word to people who will understand what you are talking about, and get them to do a little more than just stew on it. This is the real purpose of the Climate March;
    http://climatemarch.org/

    I think its important not just to hang out here, but take your message to local papers, and get to the average Joe. Around here, papers are denier troll dens… After 6 years I can’t stomach their gibberish.

    I’m not sure if Lomborg is in this for more than money, which tends to make me rather cynical of anything he and his have to say;
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/06/25/millions-behind-bjorn-lomborg-copenhagen-consensus-center

    I’ve started giving money to Desmogblog. Has anyone considered donating to Mann’s legal defense? A little money to the right people will make a difference. Who will you vote for? How public can you be with this? Are you UK folks really looking forward to voting for Climate Denial conservatives?

    I talk to a lot of people about bits of the science. Even if you aren’t interested in Global Warming, there’s some cool work being done. (An overwhelming pile of it in fact.) Heck.. how does GRACE work again? Neat huh? This goes a long ways in engineering circles.

    So… I live in the land of Tar and Sand, and environmental pressures have been hurting businesses for some time. Lay offs in pipelines, tar sands upgraders, and an inability for companies to offload assets, are the kinds of signs you want to see. Over supply in natural gas has resulted in more job losses. Major pipelines from the US shale boom stopped years ago. (I used to supply equipment for that.) NIMBY is cropping up against oil and gas all over the place.

    In short, I’m living in the future rust belt, and you guys are gunning for my job. So cheer up! 🙂

  25. dikranmarsupial says:

    I think the key is to be willing to discuss the science while people are being civil, but know when to walk away. I’ve learned over the years that once the insults start, there is very little chance of productive discussion after that point, so why waste energy?

    I am in favour of scientists engaging with climate skeptics, as long as they realize that at some point they need to explain the flaws in the skeptics arguments as well as discussing where we agree and expressing a mutual dislike of “alarmists”. A really good starting point would be to see if they could get skeptics to agree that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is known with good certainty to be anthropogenic in origin. This is not in the least a controversial statement from a scientific perspective, but is regularly questioned on skeptic blogs. If agreement could be reached on such a basic issue, then that would be an extremely positive step. Sadly the evidence to date on this suggests that there are many for whom polite engagement will be ineffective (kudos to Ferdinand Engelbeen for his tireless efforts on this issue).

  26. Dikran,

    I am in favour of scientists engaging with climate skeptics, as long as they realize that at some point they need to explain the flaws in the skeptics arguments as well as discussing where we agree and expressing a mutual dislike of “alarmists”.

    Yes, I agree.

    I think the key is to be willing to discuss the science while people are being civil, but know when to walk away.

    My problem is that I know I’m not very good at the walking away bit and so my preference is now to not really start in the first place.

  27. entropicman says:

    I spend a lot of time on Bishop Hill and find that there are posters who can disagree and still have a pleasant debate. Others become rude or refuse to engage with someone they regard as a troll.

    You learn who to respond to, when a conversation is worthwhile and when to walk away. I doubt I am having much effect on anyone’s beliefs, but have some interesting and enjoyable debates along the way.

  28. Steve Bloom says:

    Dikran, I think trying to engage with pseudoskeptics on the science is ultimately useless, noting that even the “best” of them remain tolerant of the “worst” of them (“best and “worst” being relative to the actual science, of course). You know exactly where I’m going with this, which is that the tolerance has to do with a shared dislike for the needed substantive policy steps. It’s a pretty obvious point that’s been made again and again, so it’s just remarkable how otherwise smart people like Tamsin and Richard keep trying to talk science with the pseudoskeptics. In Richard’s case it may make some sense because of the political position of the Met Office, but for Tamsin I just don’t see an excuse.

  29. Joshua says:

    I’d just like to note that I have just exchanged a few comments with someone (over at Curry’s crib) who thinks that he can draw a direct line to compare the Pharaohs of Egypt, ISIS, and American Academia.

    I think it is instructive that on this site, in contrast, I’m exchanging views on how to have meaningful conversations among people who disagree about the risks posed by CO2 emissions.

    I would hope that folks here don’t lose sight of that distinction, and fall into the same kind of identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors that lead someone like my friend Daniel to not see a meaningful distinction of kind between Anders and people who kill girls for going to school.

    Oh. Wait. Anders is British – so I guess maybe he’s not like ISIS? 🙂

  30. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    ==>”kudos to Ferdinand Engelbeen for his tireless efforts on this issue”

    Do you have some links?

  31. EM,
    Yes, I have had some reasonable discussions on B-H. I’ve also had some extremely frustrating ones, and it is those that I handle badly.

    Joshua,
    Ferdinand Engelbreen was a regular commenter on WUWT when I used to read the posts and comments more often than I do now. I don’t know if he still is.

  32. Steve Bloom says:

    Joshua, why not cut to the chase and just directly engage with the Koch brothers and the like? Good luck with that. Has it occurred to you if Lomborg and BTI cease to serve their needs they’ll just lose funding and be replaced by others willing to do the work?

    I think it’s from before your time, so you might want to do a search on “mau mauing the flack catchers.” These days, flak catchers have institutes and mau mauing has transformed into more or less polite engagement.

  33. Layzej says:

    Peter Sinclair does a great job at his site describing a renewable revolution that he believes is starting to sweep the nation: http://climatecrocks.com/2014/07/18/why-solar-is-taking-over/

    I’m not sure to what extent he is right, but it has me jazzed about the future.

  34. Joshua says:

    Steve – you seem to persist in a misperception about my views w/r/t “polite engagement.”

  35. dikranmarsupial says:

    Ferdinand’s webpage on CO2 is here:

    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/co2_measurements.html

    I’m not in complete agreement with absolutely everything, but his views are well researched and supported, and in his posts at WUWT and elsewhere he seems to have been endlessly patient, rational and polite in getting his point across, regardless of the reception.

  36. Genghis says:

    ATTP, you are like Don Quixoti tilting at windmills. The world is in economic (if not actual) wars within wars that are fueled by carbon, because it is the cheapest energy source available. The House of Saud’s method of warfare is to lower the price of oil to put competing sources of energy out of business. It is not the shortage but the abundance of energy that is the problem ( and of course the distribution).

    It may seem counter intuitive, but artificially increasing the cost of energy ( carbon credits, taxes, regulations and restrictions) actually increases the demand and use of the cheapest energy sources, which are Carbons. It also has the effect of making emissions higher because production is taken to where there is zero mitigation of emissions.

    The focus should be on making all energy cheaper and more available, emissions will automatically decrease, exactly like population levels of wealthier and more educated countries flatline or decline.

  37. Genghis,
    Did you actually read the post? Your comment makes me think that you didn’t. Maybe you should try responding to what people actually write, rather that what you think they’ve written.

  38. Mircea says:

    I know fusion was always a few years away but maybe this time with Lockheed Martin’s new reactor design things will be different. Lockheed Martin is a global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technology company. The fact that they are involved in fusion reactors research is a good reason for optimism for me.

    http://sploid.gizmodo.com/lockheed-martins-new-fusion-reactor-design-can-change-h-1646578094

    I will closely follow what happens. It can be the start of the new revolution …

  39. BBD says:

    … in about 40 years…

    🙂

  40. dhogaza says:

    Ah, yes, Lockheed Martin’s track record fills one with confidence that they can deliver a fusion reactor in a decade, cheaply …

    http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2014/04/03/f-35-fighters-plagued-with-delays-cost-overruns-federal-report-says/

  41. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Speaking of the Koch brothers, here they are trying to be positive themselves: stretch pants made mostly out of corn syrup.

    http://www.invista.com/en/news/pr-invista-announces-availability-of-lycra-fiber-with-renewable-raw-material.html

  42. Steven Mosher says:

    “One way to appear positive is to adopt the lukewarmer position, which is essentially that climate sensitivity will be low and that everything will be fine.”

    “It’s very clear that any kind of dialogue with those who strongly disagree with mainstream climate science is virtually impossible. ”

    one suggestion is to drop the labels and actually engage the person in front of you rather than your generalized conception of the group. To be sure you will, more often than not, get “no where” with your dialogue, especially if you think dialogue must result in changing someone’s mind. Sometimes, dialogue can only open a mind. I’ve engaged Anthony since 2007. So yes dialogue is possible. I’ve engaged Willis since 2007, so dialogue is impossible. Getting them to change their minds? Not yet. On the flip side, I’ve engaged many people since 2009 on climategate. I found the same thing. One can agree that the mails dont change science ( they cannot). One can agree that they only give a narrow view of the whole picture, and still one can find that certain people will refuse to admit to some simple facts: Jones asked Mann to relay a request to delete mails to Wahl. That request was relayed. The mails were deleted. Even when people will admit to these facts ( as Mann has) people will still refuse to admit that this behavior is not the best.

    The question is how to engage with someone who refuses to change their mind? One answer is to try to find some common ground and set aside your desire to change mind. This can result in
    agreeing to disagree. At most you might end up with a better understanding of the person’s position.

    To that end. A long time ago folks asked me to put numbers on the Lukewarmer position.
    I did that. It amounts to this: Sensitivity is bounded at the lower end by the no feedback figure for doubling C02– say 1.2C. And, next, given an over under bet at 3C, the lukewarmer will take
    the under bet. Of course, for many lukewarmers these numbers are different.

    On Policy (‘everything will be fine’) you won’t find this lukewarmer making that argument.
    To be sure some Lukewarmers who hover toward the lower end of the sensitivity question will argue that everything will be fine. The point is you can’t derive, in a robust fashion, a policy position from a sensitivity position. You can collect opinions, but that’s about it. Rather than drawing a cartoon of a position ( like alarmists are watermelons) engage the actual human being.

  43. Genghis says:

    ATTP “I’ve been wondering about what is the best way to engage.”

    I don’t think I misunderstood what you wrote. All i am saying is that you are limiting yourself to a false dichotomy. The warmer/denier debate is irrelevant except as an interesting distraction, divide and conquer they say. There is no good way to engage, that is the point. China and India are poised to blow the world away with pollution and consumption and they will.

    If you want a better world, with less CO2 emissions, less people, more prosperity, blah, blah, blah then you should promote lowering energy prices, increased production, Moar education, etc. It may only take one generation, it is all demographics and you can see it everywhere in the western world.

    Artificially high energy costs crushes western civilization, forces increased population levels, empowers third world countries production and consumption, spreads the influence of the House of Saud, and dramatically increases CO2 levels.

  44. Steven,
    It’s certainly not my view that the goal of dialogue is to change people’s minds. Ideally, it’s simply about dialogue and considering the views of others and maybe getting them to consider yours. That, from what I’ve seen, is the primary problem. By and large, there is no desire to consider the views of others and hence the dialogue fails. Having said that, there is a great deal of difference between considering someone’s opinions about what policy options might be best (something about which I don’t have any specific strong views, but do – of course – have my own opinions) and discussing the possibility that the rise in atmospheric CO2 might not be anthropogenic (a complete waste of time).

  45. Genghis,
    Firstly, I think you’re somewhat proving my point. Secondly, I disagree fundamentally with this

    The warmer/denier debate is irrelevant except as an interesting distraction

    It’s only irrelevant if you think an understanding of the science of climate change is irrelevant and that we can solve every possible problem we might face through efficiencies and by simply making energy cheaper. Of course, those are perfectly laudable and sensible aims. Ignoring the potential risks from climate change is, however, not. Remember, we’ve managed to make cares cheaper and safer. We don’t ignore risks elsewhere. Why ignore them when it comes to climate change?

  46. Mircea says:

    BBD – 40 years ? And possibly we’ll still be 40 years away after 40 years ;-). But with Lockheed Martin engaged in this research effort I expect at least a dramatic increase in financial and human resources allocated for this endeavor. It will not be cheap at all, a simple joystick for aviation is 100 000 dollars, a small light bulb for aviation is 100 times more expensive than an exactly similar one from the market.
    It will not be in time or in the budget. I worked in military for usaf and others for many projects and I still have to see one in time or in the initial budget. On the other hand the military pocket is big and money were never a serious issue. If they are serious about fusion and if they have the tiniest success money will flow toward them.

  47. Steven Mosher says:

    “Ah, yes, Lockheed Martin’s track record fills one with confidence that they can deliver a fusion reactor in a decade, cheaply …”

    F-35 ( the very concept) has been a mistake ever since it first started ( go all the way back to the JSF and ATA and NATF and A-X and MRF programs from which it derived). As long as the Skunk works stays focused on satisfying one customer they will do just fine. Trying to build something to serve all the missions of multiple services and multiple countries was always a mistake. A DOD mistake. Promising to deliver on a stupid idea was lockheed’s mistake.

  48. Kevin O'Neill says:

    For me, ‘Being Positive’ is the willingness to take some satisfaction/happiness in clearing the FUD that is so often peddled as science. Believing you can make a difference – no matter how small.

    It doesn’t need to be a dialogue (most dialogues on the subject are actually just competing monologues – IMHO). An uncomfortable fact, an unanswerable argument, a comment that at least shows other readers that there is more to whatever story is being peddled.

    For example, Bob Irvine’s recent guest essay at WUWT, A Comparison Of The Efficacy Of Greenhouse Gas Forcing And Solar Forcing stated: “There is, however, a strong physical case to be made for GHG efficacy being a lot lower than solar efficacy. The following paper published by the Wessex Institute of Technology outlines this case.” This paper by Irvine was touted not just at WUWT, but the most of the usual pseudoskeptic websites.

    A brief email to WIT Press and If you now follow the links to the paper you’ll now find: REMOVED – A Comparison Of The Efficacy Of Greenhouse Gas Forcing And Solar Forcing. Anyone that follows the links to the paper from all the various pseudoskeptic sites will be in for a little surprise. It’s a small victory. It wasn’t hard fought, it didn’t require much time or effort, but it’s a victory nonetheless. Accepting that these victories exist is my attempt at ‘Being Positive.’

  49. Steven Mosher says:

    ““If we get more energy efficient, people will just use more.”

    If we increase energy prices at the same rate, the price will stay the same and people will not use more. And we can use that money to decrease income tax and thus reduce unemployment.”

    Zeke H. now has a paper out on this.

    below find a presentation

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fweb.stanford.edu%2Fgroup%2Fpeec%2Fcgi-bin%2Fdocs%2Fevents%2F2011%2Fbecc%2Fpresentations%2F4%2520-%25205B%2520%2520A%2520Regional%2520Model%2520of%2520Rebound%2520-%2520Brinda%2520Thomas.pdf&ei=X-k-VLyiHYr2yQSN8IDoBQ&usg=AFQjCNFU-Hqymn1Q1rHZq5rGjoveAY0rKw&sig2=-rRwQm_BKWFUful5m7QGhw

    It’s not as simple as folks think

  50. Steven Mosher says:

    I’ll see if I can get zekes new paper

  51. OPatrick says:

    Even when people will admit to these facts ( as Mann has) people will still refuse to admit that this behavior is not the best.

    No, that’s basically nonsense. I’ve never seen anyone argue that this was the right thing to do. You are perhaps conflating the objections to the exaggerated accusations made by ‘sceptics’ with the idea of a blind defence of Michael Mann.

  52. anoilman says:

    Steve Mosher: I’m not sure where you’re going with trying to find the middle ground. I’ve spent 6 years, responding to (not initiating) drivel from pseudo skeptics. Which need to be distinguished from the skeptics since they aren’t skeptics;
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/04/18/pseudoskeptics-are-not-skeptics

    Early days it was pretty obvious that these people don’t do anything technical for a living, and most denied science required and used in their day to day lives. Now I see the same folks parroting whatever the current marching orders appear to be. I still remember when in the space of 3 months, the entire denial community shifted from “there’s no global warming”, to “We always knew global warming was right, its just small”.

    Right or wrong, the behaviors of those running in the denial spectrum seems consistent and very easy to spot.

  53. Genghis says:

    ATTP, “Ignoring the potential risks from climate change are, however, not.”

    No one said you had to. What I am saying is that the present warmer/denier standoff is a lose/lose proposition. Deniers are NOT for increased CO2 levels, and the warmist position causes increased CO2 levels (China is doing it instead of the western world.) I have played games long enough to see that there isn’t going to be a winner in climate ball (except for the instigator).

    Right now we are providing China with huge incentives to dramatically increase their CO2 emissions. It is the warmist position and political pull that has accomplished that little feat.

    There are huge issues like nuclear/coal gasification projects and plants that could dramatically decrease CO2 emissions, increase energy output and lower energy costs, but they are a pipe dream with the current politics. I also think that the ‘Deniers’ would love to see a national push for fusion even though it is still probably 40 years away. It would be nice to leave to the next generation.

  54. Steven Mosher, is there anything specific I should read from Zeke’s article?

    The abstracts writes about rebound effects of 6 to 40%. That means that the energy efficiency measures still reduced energy use by 60 to 94%. And there was no mention of simultaneously increasing prices, just of the influence of price levels. Is that mentioned elsewhere in the article? Or is my proposal not discussed in that article?

  55. Genghis,
    You seem to be suggesting that those you call “deniers” are the sensible ones. That would appear to be a rather absurd position. This in particular is nonsensical

    the warmist position causes increased CO2 levels (China is doing it instead of the western world.)

    How has this got anything to do with “warmists”? You appear to be playing the standard “these pesky warmists are stopping us from doing the sensible things that we’d really like to be doing”. You can pretend to be a pragmatic realist but it’s going to be hard to be convincing if most of what you say appears to be nonsense.

  56. Willard says:

  57. uknowispeaksense says:

    Finding a positive message to sell in the climate change “debate” is like trying to find a positive message to stick on cigarette packets to dissuade smokers. On the whole, we humans are greedy creatures so the hip pocket is the key. We are also fearful of change and short term risk averse. If wealthy people think they can get richer from the green economy than the black economy, and they feel safe about it, they will invest in it. Unfortunately the faux skeptics also know this so they push the “green is expensive”, “green will kill the economy” line, despite the evidence let alone future consequences, and they do it better. They use simple language (either they know their audience or….) and it is emotive and therefore effective.

  58. Steven Mosher says:

    “Steve Mosher: I’m not sure where you’re going with trying to find the middle ground. I’ve spent 6 years, responding to (not initiating) drivel from pseudo skeptics. Which need to be distinguished from the skeptics since they aren’t skeptics;

    Funny, I missed your comments at WUWT. Missed them at CA, Missed then at Lucias.
    Missed them at Judith’s Curry’s.

    1. I am not trying to find a middle ground. Middle is your spatial metaphor, not my preferred one.
    A common ground is below us not between us.
    2. I would avoid labels like “skeptics” or psuedo skeptics. This is very hard. But if you take time
    you can do it. Even if one is a jerk like me, it can be done.
    3. A common ground beneath you is a place to build. nothing more.

    So for example. I can and have found common ground with individuals, like Anthony, on issues like reducing Black Carbon. I can’t say the same for other people who want to focus on taxing C02. You could probably find common ground with him on nuclear and eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels.

    Or we could spend another 20 years playing an all or nothing game with people. Me, I prefer to get things done. Can’t build on contested land.

  59. Genghis says:

    ATTP, “How has this got anything to do with “warmists”?”

    Production has moved from the US and Europe to China primarily because of higher relative energy costs and more stringent rules and regulations. The higher energy costs and regulations are a direct result of warmist’s political pull and of course politicians natural tendency to tax and regulate.

    The net result of all of that, is higher CO2 and pollution emissions than there would have been and hugely increased future CO2 emissions.

  60. Steven Mosher says:

    “No, that’s basically nonsense. I’ve never seen anyone argue that this was the right thing to do. ”

    Really, I spent from 2009 to 2014 trying to get any person of note in this debate to admit
    that deleting mails was sub optimal.

    Its called the thin green line. ask willard about it.

    Face to face at AGU I’ve asked several notable people to at least admit that.

    Zero takers.

    On the web, of course, anonymous nobodies, might say the behavior was sub optimal.

    However, we can agree to disagree, when you provide me.. hmmm say… a quote from Trenberth on the issue.

  61. Steve,
    To me there are possibly two (or more) separate issues. Of course it should be possible to find some common ground with almost anyone. Sometimes it might be a trivially obvious one, but it’s possible nonetheless. A separate issue, in some sense, is discussing on what basis we have certain views. For example, I don’t think that just because I might agree with someone else about the scientific evidence (broadly at least) that we have to draw the same conclusion with regards to what we should do given that evidence. However, if we both agree on the underlying evidence, then we can at least have an informed discussion about the options. I find it hard to see how that is possible if two people don’t even agree about the underlying evidence. So, reaching a common ground might be a reasonable thing to do if we are people who might like to be able to have a reasonable discussion, but if you can’t even agree about the evidence that you’re basing your views on then it’s hard to see any detailed discussion having much value.

  62. Genghis,

    Production has moved from the US and Europe to China primarily because of higher relative energy costs and more stringent rules and regulations. The higher energy costs and regulations are a direct result of warmist’s political pull and of course politicians natural tendency to tax and regulate.

    I think you ascribe far too much power to these supposed warmists. Also taxing and regulating may well play a role, but they’re not fundamentally evil. I quite like living in country with healthcare, education for my children, a reliable police force. You don’t think that maybe one reason could be investors and shareholders seeing a labour force who can make their products more cheaply than would be the case if they were made locally?

    To be clear, I don’t think there is one simple reason, but I do think the “it’s all the warmists fault” is remarkably sub-optimal.

  63. Joshua says:

    Funny that in discussing how to engage discussions from a point of shared interests (as opposed to positions), Mosher seems to want to keep refocusing the discussion on “Yes, but Climategate,” – for what, the hundred thousandth time? Millionth time?

    This is his concept about how to “get things done?” This is his concept for how to agree to disagree? For how to find common ground? To keep focusing on disagreement about an issue that he agrees is irrelevant to the science? To keep harping on the examples where he felt people failed to engage?

    To come into a discussion about how to engage, by harping on Climategate? By asking someone whether they’ve posted at WUWT, as if, if someone had, it would be meaningfully different w/r/t their intent to engage? By reverting to form, by somehow implying that people are inferior to him because they don’t do as he thinks they should?

    Steven, as a lukewarmer, is as committed to his version of same ol’ same ol’ as any of the diehards on either side of the debate. For Steven, it is about identity-aggression and identity-protection – which is the antithesis of the principles that he espouses. Indeed, he may be aspiring to those principles, and for that he should be commended, but he should also be consistently shown how counterproductive his methodology is. How else will he learn to employ a better methodology?

  64. Tom Curtis says:

    Steve Mosher:

    “A long time ago folks asked me to put numbers on the Lukewarmer position.
    I did that. It amounts to this: Sensitivity is bounded at the lower end by the no feedback figure for doubling C02– say 1.2C. And, next, given an over under bet at 3C, the lukewarmer will take
    the under bet. Of course, for many lukewarmers these numbers are different.”

    The problem I have with that definition is that using a log normal PDF of climate sensitivity (as is implicitly done by the IPCC), and with generating values of μ = 1.0008 and σ = 0.06, we have the probability of an ECS of 1 or less of 0.048, or 6 or more of 0.049 and of between 1.5 and 4.5 of 0.64 giving a very close approximation of the stated probabilities from AR5. Never-the-less the median value of that distribution is at 2.72 C per doubling of CO2 making a bet of less than 3 C the preferred bet. That is, based on your definition the IPCC position is a luke warmer position (as is mine). Surely, however, a luke warmer is somebody who will take a bet against the IPCC position for a lower value (at minimum). The term was invented, after all, to distinguish that group of people who thought IPCC estimates were too high, but still proposed plausible estimates of ECS.

  65. Tom Curtis says:

    Steve Mosher, let’s play a game of finding ethical agreement.

    I’ll start by asking you to admit that hacking private emails is wrong; and that pawing over unethically obtained private emails to pick fault is also wrong? Are you prepared to admit that?

  66. Joshua says:

    Ghengis –

    ==> “Deniers are NOT for increased CO2 levels,.. ‘Deniers’ would love to see a national push for fusion .”

    I’m not entirely sure who you’re referring to by “deniers,” but I read the comments of self-identified “skeptics” quite a bit, and I don’t see your characterizations as being borne out. (BTW, do you think that “skeptics” are monolithic?”)

  67. Joshua says:

    ==> “I’ll start by asking you to admit that hacking private emails is wrong; ”

    Oh gee. I wonder where this argument will go… someplace novel, I”m sure.

  68. Raff says:

    Steve Mosher, you said, “Really, I spent from 2009 to 2014 trying to get any person of note in this debate to admit that deleting mails was sub optimal.”

    Maybe you should have checked the Wikipedia page on the Climatic Research Unit email controversy. It has this paragraph:

    Mann said he regretted not objecting to a suggestion from Jones in a 29 May 2008 message that he destroy emails. “I wish in retrospect I had told him, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t even be thinking about this,'” Mann said in March 2010. “I didn’t think it was an appropriate request.” Mann’s response to Jones at the time was that he would pass on the request to another scientist. “The important thing is, I didn’t delete any emails. And I don’t think [Jones] did either.”[105]

    Seems clear enough that he feels that deleting mails was not “optimal”.

  69. Joshua says:

    ===> “==> “I’ll start by asking you to admit that hacking private emails is wrong;…”

    There,. See how effective Mosher is at engaging people in good faith?

    Notice that after no initial response on the issue of Climategate, he doubled-down. In the name of good faith engagement (finding common ground), of course.

  70. David young says:

    There is lots of common ground on adaptation nuclear etc. Life is about doing what you can, not what would happen in an ideal world.

  71. Joshua says:

    David –

    ==> “There is lots of common ground on adaptation nuclear etc.”

    Given that every country that relies significantly on nuclear power, with the possible exception of Finland, has done so through a highly centralized energy policy and significant infusion of federal resources, are you, in your foray onto common ground, in support of nuclear reliance on energy in this country through such means? Or are you only interested in finding common ground if nuclear infrastructure is built without significant federal financial and regulatory involvement?

    And how do you propose going forth to build out nuclear energy on the scale that would be needed, given that there will likely be strong opposition to having nuclear plants being built in many communities?

  72. Willard says:

    > Really, I spent from 2009 to 2014 trying to get any person of note in this debate to admit […]

    I’d rather say that Moshpit used that ClimateBall ™ move: first, to peddle yes but Climategate everywhere he went; second, to use this as a green line test; third, to pretend no one admitted it:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/22836534127

    Yet again, Moshpit uses the same move, mythifying himself along the way.

  73. Kevin O'Neill says:

    Willard presents evidence of numerous climate scientists admitting the suggestion to delete emails was double-plus ungood.

    Which immediately reminds me of Arlo Guthrie singing Alice’s Restaurant ….

    Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American blind justice, and there wasn’t nothing he could do about it, and the Judge wasn’t going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one …….

    The blind judge conundrum.

  74. Genghis says:

    ATTP,
    “To be clear, I don’t think there is one simple reason, but I do think the “it’s all the warmists fault” is remarkably sub-optimal.”

    To answer your second question first, I don’t believe the warmists wanted the production and CO2 production moved to China. It was an unintended consequence of rising energy prices and increased regulation. The warmists wanted higher energy costs to reduce energy consumption. They succeeded, in the West, but failed miserably in the East.

    *******

    “I think you ascribe far too much power to these supposed warmists. Also taxing and regulating may well play a role, but they’re not fundamentally evil.”

    I thought I was clear. The Warmists provided an acceptable excuse for the politicians to do what they are elected to do, raise taxes and write law. I am not attributing good or evil to any of this, it is just a pragmatic appraisal.

    ************

    “I quite like living in country with healthcare, education for my children, a reliable police force. You don’t think that maybe one reason could be investors and shareholders seeing a labour force who can make their products more cheaply than is one simple reason, but I do think the “it’s all the warmists fault” is remarkably sub-optimal.”

    Yes, cheaper labor (even some slave labor) was a major factor, but China is subbing out labor intensive items to cheaper labor countries. The major competitive advantage western countries had over cheaper labor was automation, which is energy intensive. Rising energy costs wiped out the automation advantage. Companies simply had no other choice than to switch production to China or go out of business.

    If no one in an economy has jobs, there will be no healthcare, education or a reliable police force. Ultimately everything comes from production (Labor + Energy).

  75. Willard says:

    Can I add you to the list Kevin?

    If anyone wants to be on the list, feel free to ask.

    You are not alone.

  76. Steven Mosher says:

    willard, misses again.

    It;s not JONES behavior that NOTABLE people won’t take a position on.
    It’s mann’s behavior in passing on the request. See the penn state inquiry.

    of course, nameless faceless nobodies on the internet will admit to anything.
    Bart V is perhaps the one counter example.

  77. Genghis says:

    Joshua says:

    Ghengis – ==> “Deniers are NOT for increased CO2 levels,.. ‘Deniers’ would love to see a national push for fusion .”

    I’m not entirely sure who you’re referring to by “deniers,” but I read the comments of self-identified “skeptics” quite a bit, and I don’t see your characterizations as being borne out. (BTW, do you think that “skeptics” are monolithic?”)

    •••••••••

    No skeptics are not monolithic, skeptics are all over the place, some of them like me are certifiable.

    Yes there are many skeptics who correctly believe that higher CO2 levels would increase food production and plant growth in general. I doubt any of them would be willing to pay for increased CO2 production just to benefit plants. Do you see the difference?

    About a push for Fusion, Yes I know they would love to see Fusion or similar technologies, of course some will be skeptical that it is possible, so skeptics will be skeptical, but you wouldn’t see organized resistance.

  78. Kevin O'Neill says:

    “Really, I spent from 2009 to 2014 trying to get any person of note in this debate to admit that deleting mails was sub optimal.”

    My eyesight isn’t the best, but I’ve hit CNTRL+ a couple of times, yet I still see “admit
    that deleting mails
    ” and nothing about “passing on the request” – are we now supposed to seek a middle ground?

  79. Steven Mosher says:

    [Mod: Off-topic]

  80. David Young says:

    Yes Joshua, Just like the airline industry, the nuclear needs a high level of government oversight. There is probably little disagreement on that.

  81. Steve Bloom says:

    Let’s see if I have the proposed balancing correct:

    Climate scientists have complete responsibility for correct technical compliance with FOI laws, not just the letter but the intent as defined by pseudoskeptics. Any related actual or perceived lapse on their part reflects on their personal ethics and on the validity of their work.

    Pseudoskeptics have no responsibility for the climate crisis, or for activities intended to distract from it by sliming (tm Tom Fuller) climate scientists for said lapses.

    That seems about right. .

  82. Kevin O'Neill says:

    [Mod: Off-topic]

  83. Mircea says:

    Tom,

    Your question “I’ll start by asking you to admit that hacking private emails is wrong; and that pawing over unethically obtained private emails to pick fault is also wrong? Are you prepared to admit that?” was for Steve but I will give my opinion anyway.
    The emails were work related. It is NOT morally wrong to make these emails public (to hack them). I do not know about the legality. Once emails are public it is NOT morally wrong and it is NOT illegal to “paw over them to pick fault”.

    I save ALL the work related emails and I archive them for each project. They are part of project documentation and are public emails. They can be audited, consulted, etc… I even save and archive all my work related conversations. I stand by what I write in my emails and in my conversations and I will not write or say something that I would not also say to an wider audience.

    Of course I would find indecent for someone to read my personal emails not work related (e.g. to my wife or my friends regarding my last vacation).

    Sorry I disagree with you on this one!

  84. Willard says:

    > It;s not JONES behavior that NOTABLE people won’t take a position on.

    The audit never ends.

    In other news:

    More lies nick.
    there was not a chorus.
    The data point was an outlier
    the literature notes contamination.

    Not even Willard can defend your lies.
    climateballer

    http://climateaudit.org/2014/10/11/new-article-on-igaliku/#comment-735625

    Notice how “climateballer” is used as a label.

    Something was said earlier about labels.

  85. Joshua says:

    [Mod: Off-topic]

  86. Michael 2 says:

    I appreciate a thoughtful piece with good questions. Good questions are good because they are not easy to answer.

    “I’ve been wondering about what is the best way to engage.”

    That depends on what you mean by “engage”. If you mean like futbol it means battle mode; but of course, the opponent must also be willing to engage. If you are seriously outnumbered a winning strategy for them is to simply ignore you.

    But a different problem exists and I’ll invoke Myers-Briggs and the Personality Type Indicator. Or perhaps just “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. That problem is simply one of communicating style. Insults have no effect on rational minds. Sometimes the rational mind doesn’t even notice. Conversely, rational discussions have no effect on emotional minds.

    A few weeks ago I was discussing with the parents of an eagle scout candidate that I read across the divide; I read Drudge Report but I also read Huffington Post. They are very different; they aren’t even in the same universe. One is news and one is opinion about those newscasters (to over simplify) but both are facets of LIFE, one appeals to the rational mind, the other to the emotional mind and a healthy individual, in my opinion, feeds both minds.

    “One could be dismissive and rude about contrarians and impugn their character”

    That is certainly the modus operandi of Watching the Deniers, but what good is it? A small room with a dozen people demonstrating their offender skills. Quite frankly this behavior impugns the character of the insulters more than the insulted.

    “but that just means turning into Anthony Watts and I’m certainly not willing to go that route.”

    Except of course you just did and started this blog with seemingly an obsession about him. He appears to return the favor. It does make for a bit of entertainment and might actually be the only way to “engage”. He’s in control of his blog, you are in control of yours. The climateball is volleyed back and forth between two blogs.

    “One could mock the contrarian views, but there are others who are more capable of that than I am.”

    It takes practice. Some make it a profession (Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow). Needless to say you give up other pursuits to become that excellent. But how many victims enjoy the talent being demonstrated? I have little doubt that I am mocked on hundreds of blogs I have never seen and never will see. Or I could be so arrogant as to suppose this.

    The continuing slide of ratings suggests that people get tired of an endless diet of insult no matter how cleverly delivered. To revive an advertising slogan from years ago, “where’s the beef?”

    So in the end take a page from religions. They don’t actually try to engage. They try to CONVERT. There is very little intention for Catholics to become anything else, or Baptists, or Mormons. You are invited to become one of them and essentially all efforts are at persuasion, not insult. There’s really no reason for Baptists to sit at the same table with Mormons — until, that is, something even more dangerous than either comes along!

    Is it any different with you? Are you willing to compromise your points of view? Probably not. There’s likely some room for new information and learning, but until that happens, your views are fixed, you are a True Believer and everyone that disagrees with you is WRONG. Compromise is, in that scenario, just plain stupid.

    However, you are intelligent. You cannot change the world by yourself. How you proceed and what you do must stem from your own character, initiative, imagination. I am changing the world one boy scout at a time. That’s about all I can do. But one of THEM might change the world.

    “BUT WHAT IF THEY ARE WRONG”. FUD words. It can be said for SO many things!

    So let’s look at it but maybe another day. Some nations don’t have much wiggle room. Hungary is about 60 miles across. There is no migration; only adaptation for them. But humans obviously have survived dozens of ice ages with no technology whatsoever. I do not believe climate change poses the greatest threat to mankind. Pride does.

  87. Michael 2 says:

    [Mod: Off-topic]

  88. Michael 2 says:

    Dikranmarsupial raises an interesting point that can serve as an example

    “…see if they could get skeptics to agree that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is known with good certainty to be anthropogenic in origin.”

    My own experience is yes/no/yes/no/maybe/mostly/not-so-sure as different experts voice their opinions and produce believable charts.

    Assuming we get to “yes” that was the easy part. The harder part is “so what?” I know enough physics to know that CO2 *must* retain heat at the surface, and yet, it appears not to be the sole control for surface temperature, maybe not even dominant. Something, or several somethings, obvious work WITH it at times and work AGAINST it at other times. I have spent way too much time trying to figure this out and I suspect billions of people don’t work at it ever. Throw science at the public when, by definition, half are below 100 I.Q.? Sure, why not, because the other half is above 100 I.Q.

    But back to CO2 for just a moment. Fossil fuel contains pretty much just the isotope C12 whereas atmospheric carbon is sometimes C14 isotope. Why that is I don’t remember at the moment and it might matter if recently released C12 becomes C14 through solar or cosmic radiation. Anyway, this burst of C12, which *is* observable as a plume downwind of a power station (for instance), gets taken up by plants, which are eaten, metabolized, burned or whatever and enter the carbon cycle. So while it is likely that you can assert that some fraction of extant carbon was once in the ground I have a fuzzy uncertainty that it is as simple as some suggest. It could ALL become anthropogenic without actually increasing the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere so it doesn’t really say a lot to me.

    Consider a little warming releasing a lot of frozen carbon as peat bogs decay. That’s also probably just C12, and it didn’t get released in a power station or automobile. One can argue that its existence is ultimately anthropogenic, but that puts the “cart before the horse” in the sense that something else could have warmed the earth, released C12 *along with* power stations and automobiles, and then get blamed on you and me. I’ll take my portion of blame but nothing more, and I’ll participate in that decision as well.

    The fact of increased CO2 is a simple observation. Trying to blame someone for it is perhaps a distraction.

  89. Rachel M says:

    Climategate is off-topic in this thread, thanks. Any further comments about this will be deleted.

  90. verytallguy says:

    Rachel, thank you.

  91. Rachel M says:

    I like the idea of finding some common ground. Maybe we can do that now. We could gather votes on what people support out of things like these:

    A. Carbon tax
    B. Research and development of renewable and carbon-neutral energy sources
    C. Elimination of subsidies for fossil fuel companies
    D. More investment in nuclear power
    E. Carbon sequestration

    Maybe there are other things too??

  92. Mircea says:

    [Mod: Sorry, this is off-topic. If AT starts a thread on the ethics of reading other people’s emails (and God help me if he does), then you can post it there]

  93. Tom Curtis says:

    Rachel, would you also delete my post @3:34 am as off topic. It is unfair to Mircea if it stands, but she us unable to respond.

  94. Mircea says:

    In my previous comment I was answering Tom. I think that the part regarding the difference between academic and engineering culture is interesting and relevant to this discussion. I tried to show that all is just a cultural misunderstanding and this can help one to remain positive in all this.

    Best regards!

  95. Mircea says:

    It’s fair! Thank you Tom!

  96. Rachel M says:

    I was probably a bit strict with your comment, Mircea since it didn’t exactly mention climategate. Things had got a bit out of hand here so I thought it best to be strict. If people think this is unfair and can show how this relates to the topic and also promise not to descend the slippery slope to climategate, then I could reconsider.

  97. izen says:

    @-Genghis
    “The warmer/denier debate is irrelevant except as an interesting distraction, divide and conquer they say. There is no good way to engage, that is the point.”

    I would agree to an extent, the science is settled enough to make most of that froth. But it is also a good proxy indicator of where the ideological and policy conflicts are around the issue. Climate sensitivity would not be such a big or persistant matter of scientific debate if it was not for the short term political/economic POV.

    The warmer/denier debate gives some measure of the ‘ocean heat content’ of the larger conflicts between different political approaches.
    It is also often fun and can help evolve the accuracy of your own grasp of the subject.

    @-“If you want a better world, with less CO2 emissions, less people, more prosperity, blah, blah, blah then you should promote lowering energy prices, increased production, Moar education, etc.”

    Okay up to a point, but there are a few inclusions and exclusions I would question in your little list…

    How did ‘less people’ get in there?
    Is The future you envison only possible with a lower population. or could it be realised for say double the present population.

    Lowering energy prices is a good idea, but just as significant is increasing the efficiency of use. Consider that until recently homes were lit by a light source that was extremely inefficient. That is rapidly being replaced with low consumption LEDs. with very little improvement in battery technology, power control systems and solar cells home lighting will be a component of the building and off the grid.
    I know home lighting is a minor part of energy usage, but it will now be an even less significant part of future energy demand.

    The other key omission in your list of good stuff is HOW “you should promote” better education and lowering energy prices or increasing efficiency of use. Vested interests are likely to oppose reductions in consumption as surcharges introduced by energy generators to private homes with solar panels shows.

    However with the risk of sounding like a techno-cornucopian the ability to reach the same effective utility with far less need to burn fossil fuels with something like producing light, and improvement of over 90%, gives some hope that changes in the way a future population manages to provides what it needs and wants will be achieved without increasing use of fossil fuels.

    izen

  98. anoilman says:

    Time for a formula.

  99. BBD says:

    People puzzled by Mosher’s behaviour were provided with a very bit hint. He can find common ground with some but not with others:

    I can’t say the same for other people who want to focus on taxing C02.

    I suspect that explains just about everything else.

  100. BBD says:

    Rachel

    You ask for views on the following:

    A. Carbon tax
    B. Research and development of renewable and carbon-neutral energy sources
    C. Elimination of subsidies for fossil fuel companies
    D. More investment in nuclear power
    E. Carbon sequestration

    Yes to all, although with reservations about the technical feasibility of (E) on the necessary scale. Also concerns that (E) is being pushed by the coal industry as a front to keep itself in the BAU game. New nuclear plant needs to be intelligently sited too; not slapped right on the coast as is frighteningly often the case.

  101. Michael Lloyd says:

    ATTP et al: perhaps a browse through Tom Murphy’s blog, http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/about-this-blog/, might help.

    I didn’t see his blog in your list but you can see how another physicist sees things.

  102. Rachel,
    Thanks. This thread is an illustration of why Climategate is amongst those topics that I try to avoid if possible 🙂

    Michael,
    I think I came across that blog quite recently, but haven’t read much. I’ll have a closer look at it.

  103. Steve Bloom says:

    In addition to A, B and C, how about some good old-fashioned command-and-control aka direct regulation?

    D is properly a subset of B, although I’m agin it in any case, per Mark Jacobson. In general I’m for distributed generation and storage facilitated to the extent necessary by an HVDC grid. Note that the R+D needed for B is mainly just the storage part now, with rapid progress likely to result in cost-competitive solutions soon even as wind and solar costs continue to drop rapidly. IOW what we need is the political will for deployment.

    CCS does seem to be nothing more than an expensive scam in a power generation context, even the biomass version, although in the end we may be forced to just bury trees (or more likely grow lots of algae and pump it underground or into deep ocean bottoms) in order to drive down the CO2 level.

  104. Andrew Dodds says:

    To the list I’d add:

    F: Building a variable-demand grid.

    At the moment, what we do is turn generation up and down to match demand – we have a variable supply grid. This is OK for fossil fueled grids, but it’s tricky for Nuclear-powered grids and frankly, a show stopper for renewable grids; you find people making all sorts of contortions, both rhetorical and technical, to try and avoid this problem. A variable-demand grid works in the opposite way – you have elastic and non elastic demand, ensuring that you always generate enough to cover non-elastic. bearing in mind that elastic demand can include everything from household immersion heaters to EV charging to industrial scale H2 production (and on to practical synthetic fuels – Ammonia, Methanol, DME, etc).

    It’s a big step, but it’s also a prerequisite to full decarbonisation. And it avoids the problem we have now of trying to bang the square peg of non-dispatchable wind and solar into the round hole of demand-following. In Germany they end up with negative electricity prices; in the UK we’re paying companies to keep generators on standby, and everywhere we are hitting limits as to how much renewable capacity can go into the grid.

    I think that putting forward a positive view of ‘How we can power civilization without fossil fuels’ is better than talking constantly about turning thermostats down or doing less. Or going off-grid and farming the garden..

  105. Genghis said on October 15, 2014 at 11:46 pm:

    “Production has moved from the US and Europe to China primarily because of higher relative energy costs and more stringent rules and regulations…The net result of all of that, is higher CO2 and pollution emissions than there would have been and hugely increased future CO2 emissions.”

    This is false. How?

    The reader can see

    “China and coal”
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=China_and_coal

    for a very long and thorough introduction on the topic.

    And:

    “China produces and consumes almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined”
    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=16271

    The vast majority if Chinese coal exports do not go to the US and Europe.

    There is zero evidence that holds up under analysis that the whole world – or just China and the rest of the world outside of the US and Europe – would have produced and consumed less coal if the US and Europe had not regulated coal and instead allowed their skies to become black with soot and their citizenry to die in ever increasing numbers. All the evidence that does hold up under analysis says otherwise.

    What follows is some related information that says that although carbon based burning is causing ever-increasing harm including premature death, there is hope that humanity might be able to save itself in the future via non-carbon energy – it covers some of what we could do for our future:

    First, the bad news:

    The Chinese are dying in quickly increasing numbers from their massive, unregulated coal and other carbon burning. Even the conservative Telegraph is willing to say this:

    “China’s ‘airpocalypse’ kills 350,000 to 500,000 each year”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10555816/Chinas-airpocalypse-kills-350000-to-500000-each-year.html

    Quote: “The equivalent of the population of Bristol dies each year in China because of lethal air pollution, according to Chen Zhu, who was the country’s Health minister until last year.”

    And:

    The ever-increasing problem of mercury in the world’s fish supply comes from the ever-increasing amount of global coal burning. Here is a report on just a very small tip of the iceberg of studies on this:

    “Mercury levels in Pacific fish likely to rise in coming decades”
    http://www.ns.umich.edu/new/releases/21648-mercury-levels-in-pacific-fish-likely-to-rise-in-coming-decades

    Quote:
    “This study reinforces the links between mercury emitted from Asian countries and the fish that we catch off Hawaii and consume in this country,” said Blum, the lead author of a paper published online publication Aug. 25 in Nature Geoscience.

    “The implications are that if we’re going to effectively reduce the mercury concentrations in open-ocean fish, we’re going to have to reduce global emissions of mercury, including emissions from places like China and India,” Blum said. “Cleaning up our own shorelines is not going to be enough. This is a global atmospheric problem.”

    But now for some good news:

    To address that they are and will be more and more killing their citizenry via air pollution, the Chinese government and the Chinese companies it subsidizes invest more in green energy for the future than most of the rest of the world combined – and their growth rate in such investment is also much higher – see the charts in the last link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_China

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_China

    “Developments in quantum physics are about to transform our daily lives”
    http://www.newsweek.com/2014/07/11/developments-quantum-physics-are-about-transform-our-daily-lives-257093.html

    See the part in the last article on solar power. Even conservative Forbes is positive about solar power:

    “Solar Energy: A Massive Opportunity”
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdiamandis/2014/09/02/solar-energy-revolution-a-massive-opportunity/

    “Renewable energy capacity grows at fastest ever pace
    Green technologies now produce 22% of world’s electricity”
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/28/renewable-energy-capacity-grows-fastest-ever-pace

    “U.S. Lags Behind China in Renewables Investments”
    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/u.s.-lags-behind-china-in-renewables-investments-17257

    Hopefully, the fear of missing out on making more and more money on the making and selling of non-carbon energy will push the rest of the world to follow China on renewable as much as possible so that a generation from now, things might look much better for our future.

  106. Steve Bloom says:

    That’s the HVDC, Andrew.

  107. dikranmarsupial says:

    Steve Mosher wrote “one suggestion is to drop the labels and actually engage the person in front of you rather than your generalized conception of the group.”

    I was rather amused by the irony of this comment, given that in a recent discussion of the consensus on Judith Curry’s blog he wrote “dikranmarsupial is a SkS prick.” (http://judithcurry.com/2014/09/18/distinguishing-the-academic-from-the-interface-consensus/#comment-630013), which is obviously based on a generalised conception of a group SkS in this case. It is also the sort of tiresome behaviour that prevents more positive engagement with the science as it just brings the rest of the discussion down to that level. For instance it was soon followed by some childish taunting after I had left the discussion at that point for the reasons I gave earlier “then just ignore me, if your feelings are hurt. Bottom line: ferdinand does a good job. you don’t. deal with it” (actually there is not much wrong with not being as good as Ferdinand on this topic ;o) and some more of the same from another poster:

    Don Monfort | September 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm |

    I have also seen this clown on nuticcelli’s guardian blog. I was banned from there early on. This clown should be shown the same kind of hospitality. Yeaqh, I said it. He’s got plenty of blogs to haunt.

    So Steve’s comment “To be sure you will, more often than not, get “no where” with your dialogue, especially if you think dialogue must result in changing someone’s mind. ” is very true, as he has demonstrated that he knows very well how to avoid discussion of a scientific topic that he doesn’t want discussed (in this case the fact that meant climate blogs appear unable to accept that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic shows that they follow neither the scientific consensus [which is very solid on this topic] nor the “interface consensus” in this case).

    Had Steve Mosher wanted a positive discussion on the impact of the consensus, I’d argue tedious insults an rhetorical posturing is perhaps not the best approach.

    For the record, I am not upset by such behaviour, just dissapointed because I do like to discuss science, but I am not very interested in rhetoric, so I have learned that the point to walk away is when people can’t be civil.

    In short, if both “sides” want a productive discussion, then just drop the rhetoric and be polite. If you can’t do that, then keep quiet and don’t get in the way of those who can.

  108. dikranmarsupial says:

    Michael2 you are slightly missing my point, the scientists trying to build bridges with the climate skeptics, then at some point they do need to start discussion of the topics where they don’t agree, and this is the obvious one as it is a point where we know beyond reasonable doubt that the post-industrial rise is anthropogenic. If agreement can be reached on that very basic and straightforward issue, then both “sides” have achieved something significant and have a useful foundation for moving forward with a constructive discussion. However if agreement on this can’t be reached (or at least discussed in a civil manner) then what hope is there of having a productive discussion of more complex issues?

    Lets see if we can agree on the most basic issues first.

  109. Andrew Dodds says:

    KeefeAndAmanda –

    Reading the links.. That’s good, but at the risk of sounding negative, one of my biggest bugbears on the subject is when people *include* big hydro projects – often decades old – when talking about the absolute fraction of electricity that is renewable, but then *exclude* big hydro when talking about growth rates. It’s a numeric sleight-of-hand that is deliberately misleading, IMO.

    And never mind the ‘electricity use/total energy use’ confusions as well.

  110. Eli Rabett says:

    Mosher is trying to carve out some interesting (in the SL sense) territory for himself as the reasonable man. As Dikran points out, he has different attitudes for different places. One might even believe that he has read the tea leaves and wants to move his position to a more defensible one. Just sayin.

  111. Andrew Dodds says:

    Michael 2 –

    As a correction, Carbon 14 comes from the action of cosmic rays on Nitrogen-14.

    But that’s irrelevant. The *observed* fact that CO2 levels have risen -dramatically and monotonically – over the past couple of centuries to levels way above anything nature has come up with in the last million years is a bit of a giveaway. If we had evidence of similar CO2 excursions in the ice cores, then we’d need a second look. If CO2 levels dropped for a few years, then rose faster than human emissions could account for, and similar – then we could, perhaps, say that nature is doing more than we are.

    But the fact is that we see a steady rise, which is accounted for by about half our emissions with the rest currently being taken up by the biosphere and oceans. No other conclusion even remotely fits observations.

  112. Eli,
    I had wondered the same. If he does so, I might actually be quite impressed.

  113. dikranmarsupial says:

    I would add to Andrews post that the simple fact that atmospheric CO2 has risen more slowly than we have emitted it every year since the beginning of the Mauna Loa measurements shows that the natural environment has been a net carbon sink over that period (and most probably longer) and hence has been *opposing* the rise rather than contributing to it (as you would expect of a system containing various feedback mechansims that had been perturbed from its equilibrium state).

    Michael 2 wrote “The fact of increased CO2 is a simple observation. Trying to blame someone for it is perhaps a distraction.”

    Blame is a rather emotive term, but it is actually pretty central to the debate on how to respond to climate change. If atmospheric CO2 is not rising due to fossil fuel (and land use change) but is instead some natural phenomenon, then there would be no point in attempting to reduce our emissions. Sadly I suspect that for many their views on what scientific views can be correct depends on its socio-politico-economic consequences, rather than vice versa. For that reason they can’t accept even that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic, even though the evidence demonstrates quite unequivocally that this is the case. If the [insert group name of your choice here] cannot accept even that most basic fact, there is little chance of there being genuinely productive discussion of the science. That is what makes it an appropriate place to start, as the scientific hurdle could hardly be lower.

  114. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP I had already been impressed by some of Steven Moshers comments on various blogs; it is a shame that the comments at Judith’s blog tempered my view somewhat.

  115. Dikran,
    Indeed. I think I may have pointed out to Steven that some of what he says seems remarkably sensible. Just some, though 😉

  116. Genghis says:

    Izen,
    “How did ‘less people’ get in there?
    Is The future you envison only possible with a lower population. or could it be realised for say double the present population.”

    Decreasing population levels are a direct result of greater security. Large families are caused by the insecurity of passing on our genes and support in our old age. The human genome strategy is actually for fewer high quality survivors. People have children because they are selfish.

    ******
    “The other key omission in your list of good stuff is HOW “you should promote” better education and lowering energy prices or increasing efficiency of use. Vested interests are likely to oppose reductions in consumption as surcharges introduced by energy generators to private homes with solar panels shows.”

    This is part of that ‘economic war’ I mentioned. The war is everywhere, between coal – oil – nuclear – solar, between the Saudi’s – Iranians – Russians – Americans, etc. etc. Each particular faction is trying to put the other faction out of business. They do so either by lowering their own price or by causing their competitors to raise theirs.

    Here is the secret, energy is not scarce, goods are not scarce, food is not scarce. There is too much energy (and all of the above) and by artificially raising the price of energy all of those factions win and we lose. That is why I said this whole Warmer/Denier debate as a lose lose proposition, we have been divided and probably conquered. I am not optimistic here, that is why I am a skeptic : ) It is going to take the Pollyanna’s (warmers) to realize their mistake and change directions, simple as that. We are fighting a battle that has been largely won by the warmers, while the larger war being waged by the energy Lords is being lost.

    The solution is not the solar panels on my boat or the wind in my sails as romantic as that sounds. The solution is the couple in the Middle East, India or China deciding to have fewer kids so that they can give them a better life, confident that the child isn’t going to die of disease or starvation or face a life of menial labor as a slave.

    Lower energy costs accomplish all of that. Sadly none of the powers that be want lower anything. They like us divided and conquered.

  117. BBD says:

    Eli sez:

    One might even believe that he [SM] has read the tea leaves and wants to move his position to a more defensible one.

    Well, yes. Aside from the painfully transparent, endlessly-repeated attempt to re-position “lukewarmer” as inside the tent p*ssing out, one only has to look at SM’s trajectory away from WUWT over the last half-decade. But SM is *far* from a reformed ‘sceptic’. There is an anti-“alarmist” and (IMO) inactivist agenda informing everything he does. Downplay, demonise, divide, delay. This thread and a thousand others attest to that.

  118. Something that is a little unfortunate is that there are people who I broadly disagree with who sometimes say something quite sensible or thoughtful. Momentarily I consider engaging and then remember how well it went the previous time I tried (not) and just realise that it’s likely to go equally badly this time.

  119. OPatrick says:

    I consider engaging and then remember how well it went the previous time I tried

    See, you need reminders for yourself, yet alone for the rest of us.

  120. dana1981 says:

    Back to the original topic, to be fair to BTI et al., they don’t *just* propose hoping the problem is magically solved via economic growth. They also favor throwing money directly at the problem. Basically setting up a fund to reward green tech advancements (ala X-Prize, if I understand correctly).

    That’s not far from magical thinking though. It still relies on little more than hope that somebody will come up with some great technological breakthrough in time to save us from a climate disaster, and gives people slightly more incentive to do that. Their pooh-poohing that every other proposed solution will fail for [insert bogus reason here] also irritates me to no end.

    Personally I support most efforts to reduce carbon pollution. Command and control, cap and trade, fee and dividend, X-prize style, etc. I think fee and dividend has the best shot because it has bipartisan appeal and economic modeling shows it’s extremely effective (working great in Britsh Columbia too). Command and control (government regulations) is okay, but usually less effective at reducing emissions (unless the regs are very strict), and worse for the economy. Cap and trade is okay, but can suffer from being overly complicated (see Europe). X-prize style works on small scale specific issues, but climate change is a very large scale problem.

    As for staying positive, I just try to focus on the fact that we’ve still got time to solve the problem (though time is fast running out), we have all the technology we need, and we have policy proposals that would be big steps toward solving the problem if implemented. Support for solving the problem is also building. So far it’s not building fast enough, especially among the key groups that are roadblocks, but hopefully that will change. Fewer Republican politicians are denying basic science now than in previous years, for example.

    The other good news is that while Dismissives are unreachable (and hence I think finding common ground with them is a waste of time), they’re also a small segment of the population. It’s those who are unaware, unconcerned, etc. that we need to reach, and they’re reachable.

  121. verytallguy says:

    There are myriad things to be positive about. We should celebrate the fact that our amazing and ingenious species has managed to work out that we are headed for a big problem through our carbon emissions. Better still, we have already worked out how to solve the problem. Technology which can allow us access to energy over the next millennium such as nuclear, hydro, wind and solar power together with solutions to harness these to our needs, including high energy density batteries for transport and heat pumps for domestic heating already exists.

    We can also be positive in that addressing carbon emissions also brings the opportunity to address problems of our sedentary lifestyle which and its accompanying non-communicable diseases of the 21st century; obesity, diabetes, heart disease and the like. Infrastructure to encourage walking, cycling and public transport will also hasten the end of road death as a major killer and has the potential to transform our cities into shared spaces rather than polluted highways.

    And we can celebrate all this in the knowledge that many times in the past we have chosen to prioritise the needs of future generations over our own, and plough our resources into saving our heritage and environment for the future. Museums, national parks, arboretums, even war memorials can all serve as an inspiration to hand on a better world to our children and grandchildren in the same way that our predecessors chose to preserve the best of their times and also invest for us and our future.

    Human nature is often used to refer to base instincts of greed, envy and personal interest. I believe that far from this, human nature is altruistic, inspirational and thrives on common purpose. We can and will make the right decisions, inspired by a future full of natural diversity and supporting a healthy, fulfilled population. My grandchildren will be amongst them.

  122. Right, but what about all those other problems. The REALLY bad ones, besides climate change.

    There are a lot of them, and they are really bad. Good luck with that. Kumbaya.

  123. verytallguy says:

    Blimey cosmic, if that’s positive I’d hate to meet you when you’re gloomy.

    Chin up!

  124. John Mashey says:

    1) On R&D and breakthroughs: R2-D2 and Other Lessons from Bell Labs.

    2) To feel positive, watch at least the first 15 minutes of Electricity for Soloban – building a microturbine in Nepal village so they could have 43W/house and kids could stop studying by kerosene lamps. This is 2 days hike from nearest town you can fly to, villages carried 44,000 pounds of material there
    Tweet: Tweet

    Jevons’ Law doesn’t really apply there. Would LEDs be helpful or not?

  125. Michael 2 says:

    data1981 says “some great technological breakthrough in time to save us from a climate disaster”

    Yes, it is speculative, but so is the disaster you have in mind. What is NOT speculative is running out of fuel. That’s certain.

    “while Dismissives are unreachable they’re also a small segment of the population”

    True, but how large of a segment of the population is SkS regulars? It was a rhetorical question.

    I do not know *anyone* that (1) is interested and (2) has not already formed her opinion.

    My teenager was briefly concerned about it; but that describes everything about my teenager. Whatever the future brings it is going to be serious. The past 100 years had two world wars, a dust bowl and a Great Depression. Why does anyone suppose this next 100 years is going to be a sleigh ride?

  126. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli is positively thankful for flush toilets and waste water purification. Cholera is the pest.

  127. verytallguy says:

    Michael

    What is NOT speculative is running out of fuel. That’s certain.

    Well, yes. Hang on – a radical idea: maybe to avoid this we could use energy sources that don’t run out?

    Oh, wait….

  128. Michael 2 says:

    JohnRussel40 says “I sometimes wonder whether the development of technologies like fusion are deliberately held back.”

    I doubt it is deliberate, but ?? billion dollars a year in the U.S. have been diverted from other scientific studies into climate change. Fusion research continues and is very expensive.

    2.5 billion for direct research http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/FY%202015%20Climate.pdf

    8 billion says OMB. Obviously the whitehouse is hiding most climate change expenditures.

    Wikipedia says 15 billion:
    “The 2010 United States federal budget proposed to support clean energy development with a 10-year investment of US $15 billion per year”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_policy_of_the_United_States

    NRDC says $96 billion! The idea is that mitigation is “cheap” if you can inflate the alternative somehow.
    http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/files/taxpayer-climate-costs-IP.pdf

    Since OMB is really the only meaningful authority we’ll go with that one for now, $8 billion in direct expenditures specifically for climate change.

    I wonder how much solar power you’d get for $8 billion?

  129. anoilman says:

    Michael 2: I wonder how much solar power you’d get for $8 billion?

    Inifinite.

    A solar panel manufacturing plant, produces more panels which produce more electricity.
    A coal power plant produces electricity, if you want more you need to build more plants.

  130. Yes, it is speculative, but so is the disaster you have in mind.

    Er … no. It’s not. Time does not magically end in the year 2100 and humans will not magically quit breeding as long as carbon combustion in the open atmosphere continues to produce food for those extra billions at the expense of the environment. You are dramatically wrong and easily demonstrated to be in complete denial in this area. So go ahead, make my day, and I’ll clutter up the comments here with all the really bad things that your species is creating on this planet.

    Climate change and global warming are two of the really for sure long term problems you have.

  131. Tom Curtis says:

    Michael2:

    1) The NRDC amount quoted is for disaster relief, and is not research. It does not belong on your list.

    2) The amount quoted in wikipedia was an amount projected to be paid for out of the proposed Cap and Dividend scheme. That scheme did not pass congress and consequently budgetary amounts allocated from that scheme are not budgetary expenditures. It does not belong on your list.

    3) You do not provide a link for the OMB figure. It is easy, however, to find an OMB report on US expenditures on climate change. There we find that climate research is in fact around 2.5 billion as stated. Expenditure on clean energy research goes into such diverse technologies as CCS, fission, fusion, as well as wind and solar. It is, therefore, not an alternative to expenditure on fusion, and does not belong on your list. Other components of the “climate change” budget relate to adaption (ie, improving resilience to disasters) either domestically or as overseas aid, or tax cuts for reducing emissions.

    As a side issue I notice that the White House “is hiding most climate change expenditures” but publishing a full account of them. Attributing the results of your lazy research to conspiratorial malfeasance puts you in with the 911 truthers and other right wing kooks.

    4) The US federal budget for 2013 included 3.5 Trillion in expenditures. The total US climate change budget was just 0.6% of that. The total US climate change research budget was 0.07% of that. Picking such a small ticket item as the reason why there has been insufficient expenditure on fusion research (allowing that premise) is just an absurdity.

  132. anoilman says:

    Tom Curtis: Many discussions of subsidy for green technologies ignore the fact that we have heavy subsidies for fossil fuels.

    Here’s a great one, $613 million in 2013;
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/10/16/subsidy-spotlight-paying-price-tar-sands-expansion

    “… between 2005 and 2009, this refinery equipment tax break alone cost the government $1.2 billion and increased emissions by more than two million metric tons of carbon.”

    The reason for the subsidies is obvious. Fossil fuels cost too much to mine, and are no longer profitable without a continued supply of public cash.

    Its corporate welfare pure and simple.

  133. Michael 2 says:

    Tom, thank you for providing additional details on the U.S. federal budgets.

  134. Michael 2 says:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz said some things — not sure where to start on this one!

    “Time does not magically end in the year 2100”

    It might. We won’t know for sure for another 86 years. Even then we won’t know for sure because without time the process of cognition will stop. For all I know it stopped for ten years two minutes ago and then resumed without anyone detecting it.

    “and humans will not magically quit breeding as long as carbon combustion in the open atmosphere continues to produce food”

    Well then we’d better continue the carbon combustion in the open atmosphere so we can grow food. Humans are not going to magically quit breeding for ANY reason.

    “You are dramatically wrong”

    Thank you. Unfortunately I am not dramatic enough for a career in theater.

    “and easily demonstrated to be in complete denial in this area.”

    Is that a river in Africa or me not believing everything you believe?

    “all the really bad things that your species is creating on this planet.”

    So what is YOUR species? Sounds a bit like denial to me 😉

  135. Michael 2 says:

    Sorry (to the other readers anyway) for that bit of entertainment.

    On a more serious note, and responding to Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    “Climate change and global warming are two of the really for sure long term problems you have.”

    A philosophical point to ponder is who owns a problem. *I* do not have a long term problem with climate change or global warming.

    When I travel to work and a parade is blocking main street, THAT is a problem, for I am impeded in my immediate intentions.

    When I am writing a program and it doesn’t do what I intended for it to do, THAT is a problem, for it is thwarting my intentions.

    If in 80 years the average temperature is 1 to 3 C higher than now, I will have by then encountered and solved, or bypassed, or ignored, a thousand other problems of greater immediacy. If I am still here then I will have solved the greatest problem (for me) of all, my own death. Then I will move to Canada. It’s nice now but imagine it with a whole ‘nother degree!

    So when I say this disaster you have in mind is speculative, that is exactly what I mean. It hasn’t happened. The IPCC is uncertain and have assigned “pathways” — IF societies proceed in certain ways, these are the likely outcomes — but of course, ANY of them are speculative and dependent upon a rather large number of assumptions.

  136. Michael 2 says:

    anoilman says (quoting M2: I wonder how much solar power you’d get for $8 billion?)

    “Inifinite. A solar panel manufacturing plant, produces more panels which produce more electricity. A coal power plant produces electricity, if you want more you need to build more plants.”

    So — coal fired power plants must be built but solar panel manufacturing plants do not?

    As it happens, you CAN calculate how much solar power you get for $8 billion. Factories must be built (not just coal burning power plants require construction) and each factory can produce only a finite quantity per year of solar panels.

    https://gigaom.com/2014/07/02/this-startup-says-it-can-make-the-worlds-cheapest-solar-panels/

    300 megawatts, 100 million dollars. The cost of the panels comes down somewhat but for ease of calculation let us go with 1 dollar per watt which is about half what I paid for my solar panels.

    Or in other words a bit less than 8 gigawatts for 8 billion dollars, excluding factory costs, and installation costs, transmission costs. Rinse and repeat every 20 to 30 years.

    Canadian: “Infinite”
    American: $8 billion will buy 8 gigawatts (peak times) for about 20 years.
    Needed in the United States (2011) 25,484,000 gigawatt/hr.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States

    Feel free to adjust numbers to taste. Good luck reaching “infinite”.

  137. Tom Curtis says:

    anoilman, when I have looked at the issue, I have often found claims of subsidies of fossil fuels to be overstated. Taking one clear example from the report on which the desmogblog article to which you link is based, they claim claiming of business expenses from cleaning up oil spills as a subsidy, but the purported subsidy merely “… allows companies to deduct costs of oil spill clean-up from tax payments as a “standard business expense”.” Because the possibility of doing this is standard practice for all business expenses, it is not a subsidy of fossil fuel companies per se. A dairy company that had a spill could likewise claim the expenses of cleaning it up as a “standard business expense”, and that is not a subsidy of milk production either.

    I do not claim that all of the claimed subsidies fall under this category. I do not know enough about US tax law to know one way or another. (I know one “subsidy” that they claim is non-standard in other industries and hence genuinely is a subsidy happens to be standard practice in Australia, and hence would not be a subsidy here.) Unfortunately the refinery tax break you mention falls into that category so I cannot comment.

  138. *I* do not have a long term problem with climate change or global warming.

    No, you are oblivious to the problems that these two problems alone are already causing you. And even if you were to become aware of them, you would willingly choose to ignore them.

    And these are just two of the absolutely guaranteed long term problems already in progress. There are many more equally or much more dire short terms problems that you also disregard, all of which are associated with a population of seven soon to be ten to twelve billion ignorant, superstitious ape like creatures with pathological desires for creature comforts through capitalism. I’ve already published what those problems are, so since everyone but you here is aware of them already, and you either choose not to acknowledge them or are truly ignorant of reality, or both, then I see no need to repeat them here for you, That fact that you think your biggest problem is the inconvenience of parades puts you in the majority of Americans, but not that of the world.

  139. anoilman says:

    Michael 2: You are confused. My point is that a solar plant builds solar panels. More solar plants cause even more solar panels to be made. This is why solar has scaled up as fast as it has. Coal plants only make electricity once. And you pay for it once.

    $8 billion dollars buys a big plant. Just ask Elon Musk…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SolarCity

    Data on capital expenditures;
    http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/capitalcost/pdf/updated_capcost.pdf

    Dirty coal currently costs $3+ per watt of course that just covers the plant. Toss in CCS and you get a more interesting picture $3.7 to $6.5 per Watt for coal.

    Solar is $3.8 per Watt, and Wind is $2.2 per Watt.

    Prices vary by location, but solar/wind aren’t rolling out for subsidies, they are successfully competing.

    Solar peak hours are profit hours for the power grid. The bulk of the grid’s current cost of operation is to provide power for peak days. This is what the fossil fuel industry is afraid of. Poof, time to close plants.
    http://grist.org/climate-energy/solar-panels-could-destroy-u-s-utilities-according-to-u-s-utilities/

  140. Michael 2 says:

    AnOilMan says “Coal plants only make electricity once.”

    Kinda like a static discharge in other words. Zap, done. Go build another coal plant!

  141. Michael 2 says:

    Thomas also writes “…the majority of Americans, but not that of the world…”

    You mistake to think I am in the slightest motivated to resemble “the world.” That’s herd mentality. Herds have predators. What are you; herd or predator?

    “There are many more equally or much more dire short terms problems…”

    Indeed.

  142. Michael 2 says:

    AnOilMan, complaining about tar sands subsidy, says “The reason for the subsidies is obvious.”

    Indeed. It is a cleanup operation of a naturally occuring oil spill. When done, a large portion of Alberta will be cleaner than it was 20 years ago.

  143. Michael 2 says:

    Andrew Dodds says: “M2 – Carbon 14 comes from the action of cosmic rays on Nitrogen-14.”

    Thanks! I could probably have eventually discovered it but this makes it easier.

    “CO2 levels have risen dramatically and monotonically”

    You’d have a slam-dunk case if global temperatures had also risen dramatically and monotonically.

  144. anoilman says:

    Michael 2: I’ve heard that little fairy tail before; “It is a cleanup operation of a naturally occurring oil spill. When done, a large portion of Alberta will be cleaner than it was 20 years ago.” I figured its something libertarians tell themselves to help sleep at night.

    We aren’t cleaning anything up. We are digging tar out from deep under ground, extracting and upgrading the bitumen, then tossing away the waste on the surface untreated.

    To quote a friend in charge of environmental cleaning up; “We don’t do this because its good for the environment, we do it because its cheap.”

    Government/industry shenanigans work hard at hiding pollution. Like the fact that the government only measured one data point once a year to determine air quality. (Good science to you?)

    A fellow by the name David Shindler (you know him for identifying Acid Rain) measured atmospheric fall out in the region and traced it to the tar sands;
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/david-schindler-1.936809

    Despite being Tared and Sanded by the government and the industry they later confirmed his findings and apologized to him.
    http://environment.alberta.ca/documents/WMDRC_-_Final_Report_March_7_2011.pdf

    Even more astonishing is all the above ground boiling of bitumen which is gassing local farmers. The government told the farmers not to breath the air, which makes you wonder how that is accomplished. I’ve generally thought breathing was important maybe not for you Michael 2, but its import to me.
    http://thetyee.ca/News/2013/12/26/Tar-Sands-Injunction/
    http://globalnews.ca/news/1218351/peace-river-area-families-go-to-court-to-stop-baytex/

    If all that seems wrong… look at what they did when they discovered that the Caribou herds were dwindling. Yup… fired the scientists, and hired oil executives.
    http://www.desmogblog.com/unethical-oil-why-canada-killing-wolves-and-muzzling-scientists-protect-tar-sands-interests

    The most entertaining part to you… CNRL SAGD has leaked… many times. tar comes flowing up and kills everything;
    http://www.desmog.ca/2013/08/17/cnrl-cold-lake-bitumen-seepage-hits-1-2-million-litres-reports-aer

    And so far no one has been killed by SAGD blow outs, but 300 foot craters aren’t uncommon. Squirrels are a tad nervous.

  145. Ian Forrester says:

    Michael 2 states:

    You’d have a slam-dunk case if global temperatures had also risen dramatically and monotonically.

    Michael 2 acts as a typical (self-redacted). He assumes that CO2 is the only factor which affects climate when in fact the are numerous factors, some positive some negative, which control temperature.

    These self same (self-redacted) were the ones who wrongly accused climate scientists of ignoring other relevant factors in assessing AGW. Such dishonest hypocrites.

  146. What are you; herd or predator?

    Neither. Intelligence and self consciousness puts me beyond that. You should try it some time, you might like it. It does require having a conscience, though, and that requires an effort you may not be willing to expend in your search for food and a mate. It also requires thinking multi-dimensionally, a skill that you demonstrably have already demonstrated to me that you lack.

    Use multilinear algebra, it makes difficult to conceptualize higher dimensions specific and exact.

  147. anoilman says:

    TLE: I use imaginary numbers, but don’t hold it against me.

  148. Kevin O'Neill says:

    Michael 2 writes: “You’d have a slam-dunk case if global temperatures had also risen dramatically and monotonically.

    Oh, but they have – when known confounding factors are taken into account. Have you never read Foster and Rahmstorf? As Skeptical Science wrote: “Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) have published a paper in Environmental Research Letters seeking to extract the human-caused global warming signal from the global surface temperature and lower troposphere temperature data. In order to accomplish this goal, the authors effectively filter out the effects of solar activity, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and volcanic activity.The result is shown in Figure 1 below.”

    Is that neither dramatic nor monotonic enough for you?

  149. Kevin,
    The data of F&R ended in 2011, because they published the paper at that time. What happened then didn’t agree as well with the fit

    This is drawn using parameters extracted from their paper, but without volcanic contribution, which makes a major effect after Pinatubo. The deviation started to look worse at the beginning of this year, but even now the agreement is not quite as good as it was until 2011. The moving average is calculated up to the date indicated. Thus the turn down of the monthly data occurred in autumn 2011, and the recent rise started around beginning of 2013.

  150. Joseph says:

    Basically setting up a fund to reward green tech advancements (ala X-Prize, if I understand correctly).

    I think some sort of prize for a more efficient battery solution for solar and wind would make sense.

  151. Michael 2 says:

    Thomas writes in reference to my question: What are you; herd or predator?

    “Neither. Intelligence and self consciousness puts me beyond that.”

    A good answer. I’ll admit I did not expect you to avoid the fallacy of the false alternatives I placed before you. I also am neither and was going to write that but chose to see what you would do.

    Still, I suspect the elite/predator class may not see themselves as such. It is normal and smart for a predator to deny his intention. In the end, the proof is revealed by behavior. On a blog there’s not much you can do with prey other than insult. So lets see if you do that.

    “It does require having a conscience… It also requires thinking multi-dimensionally, a skill that you demonstrably have already demonstrated to me that you lack..”

    Yep, looks like an insult. I’m not sure since it is poorly worded, but I suspect you consider yourself elite and me proletariat. I am clearly not “herd” but to a predator, everything else is prey.

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