Balance?

I think one reason I’ve been a little frustrated recently is because of a sense that some think there is some kind of balance between “alarmists/warmists” and “skeptics” (the terminology is awful, but I don’t really know what other words to use, so bear with me); that there are “alarmists” on one side and “skeptics” on the other. The one problem I have with this is that it’s not obviously even true. I know there are some true catastrophists, but most people who seem to be regarded as “alarmists” are simply concerned about the possible consequences of climate change and would like us to do something about this. They may be alarmed by this possibility, but they don’t believe that a catastrophe is unavoidable. Many “skeptics”, on the other hand, appear to think that there’s nothing to worry about and that we really shouldn’t do anything.

Putting that to one side though, there are clearly some who think climate sensitivity will be high, but ignore that it might be low, and others who think it will be low and ignore that it might be high. So, maybe this is some kind of symmetry/balance: both groups are being selective in their choice of evidence. Okay, but this is only really symmetric in a scientific sense. In reality, the climate debate is really a debate about risk. Given that, it’s seems perfectly reasonably to focus on the possibility that climate change could be extremely damaging. In any sensible risk analysis, you don’t dismiss the risk by arguing that it might not happen. You consider the possibility that something might happen and whether or not to do something to minimise that possible outcome. So, suggesting that people who focus on the negative aspects of climate change are being alarmist, seems to ignore that this is exactly what one should focus on when something presents a possible risk.

Now, there is one possible symmetry. Most “skeptics” appear to be alarmed about the economic consequences of acting to minimise climate disruption. So, one could argue that really there is a group who are concerned about the economic consequences and another who are concerned about the consequences of climate change itself. In some sense, I think it would actually be better if more recognised that the real division is between those alarmed about climate change, and those alarmed about economic damage (or damaging policies).

So, maybe there is some kind of balance/symmetry, but it’s not between those who think climate sensitivity will be low/high, it’s between those who are concerned about the consequences of climate change, and those concerned about the economic consequences of acting. To be fair, it’s quite reasonable to be concerned about what we might choose to do. It’s clear that we’re more than capable of making some extremely stupid decisions. The problem I have, though, is that there is a big difference between being concerned about the possibility that we might make stupid decisions, and assuming that any possible decision will be stupid, and that’s where I think there is a difference between the two positions.

How our climate will respond to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations is determined by basic physics. No amount of wishful thinking will make climate sensitivity low, if it’s not. That, however, is not true for our economy. There’s not a single possible future economic pathway. Even today, there are many different types of economies operating in the world. We have choices. Do we travel mostly by public transport, or private? Do we eat less meat? Do we mostly live in apartments or houses? Do we mostly holiday locally or travel to exotic distant destinations? There are, as far as I’m aware, numerous possible viable economies. Of course, there may be economic models that are more optimal than others, but that will partly depend on what we choose to prioritise (or, optimise over).

To be fair, though, I’m not an economist, so maybe I’m talking rubbish. Maybe there is only one truly viable economic model and it’s inconsistent with minimising the risk associated with climate change. I, however, don’t think that that is true and – until someone convinces me otherwise – will continue to believe that we can both reduce poverty, improve general standards of living and minimise climate disruption.

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490 Responses to Balance?

  1. dikranmarsupial says:

    “But since all the precautions that a man can take are full of uneasiness and uncertainty, it is better to prepare with fine assurance for the worst that can happen, and derive some consolation from the fact that we are not sure that it will happen. ” Michel de Montaigne (via Wikiquote)

    I am in agreement with this article. Being a Bayesian I think we should choose our course of action so as to minimize the expected socio/economic and environmental losses, and it only obfuscates this process if socio-economic (or environmental) desires attempt to dictate physics. I have no expertise in economics either, but if someone tries to use weak scientific arguments to suggest that we should take no action, this seems to me to be a tacit admission that the economic argument is even weaker (or they would have used that instead).

    As I see it the real problem with the economics is that agreement on discounting rates is unlikely to be any easier to achieve than agreement on the science, especially as getting agreement on even the most basic and well supported elements of the science (such as the cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2) cannot be taken as read and discounting rates have a subjective/moral/ethical dimension.

  2. ATTP,
    Your list of questions is revealing. While it’s certainly not exhaustive, it’s long enough to help in understanding, why it’s so difficult to reach agreement.

    Some of the issues discussed are concrete and can be specified in a way that people, who want to understand, what they are, can agree on their meaning. Very many of the issue are, however, much more vague. When people appear to discuss these issues they may use the same words, but they do actually talk past each other. Few people understand, what those, who disagree with them and who come from a different background really have in mind.

    You may be sure that, what you think that another has said is wrong. The statement may be explicitly wrong in the language and for the concepts that you have in mind, but the error may be mainly due to the fact that the other is using language in a different way. His actual concerns may be elsewhere, but he feels that he should use words more familiar to you, and he does that poorly.

    The most concrete things are the physical sciences at the one end, and specific actions at the one end. The connection between the scientific knowledge and the actions is complex. It involves all the issues, you listed and more. Nobody is expert on all of that, and the sum of best expertize does not lead to unique answers. Part of that is due to different values – even values that do not include any obviously unethical to most. Very much is, however, due to the incompleteness of the knowledge: We really cannot tell, what are the consequences of any particular action of significance.

  3. Dikran,

    I have no expertise in economics either, but if someone tries to use weak scientific arguments to suggest that we should take no action, this seems to me to be a tacit admission that the economic argument is even weaker (or they would have used that instead).

    Yes, I’ve felt the same. If the economic argument were strong you could make it even in the face of climate sensitivity being high. Given that it seems to require arguing that climate sensitivity won’t be high suggests that the argument is weak if that position turns out to be wrong.

  4. AndyL says:

    I think you minimise the costs of making major reductions in carbon emissions. Getting there will involve far more than simply eating less meat and taking holidays closer to home.

    I suspect that achieving the 2050 targets will feel more like staying in our current austere economic situation until then – with continuous spending cuts and increases in fuel poverty and overall poverty.

    This is why the debate over sensitivity really matters. The costs of reducing carbon will increase exponentially with higher reduction targets and less time to achieve them. If we have a couple of extra decades to adjust, the costs will be vastly lower and we will have many more technical options available.

  5. David Blake says:

    Some very fair points indeed.

    Much of the problem has now become Pavlovian. One group/person says something, and the other is conditioned to automatically attack it – without actually reading it or thinking about it. It’s enough that “they” said it for it to be “wrong”.

    Some unusual event happens – and “alarmists” are conditioned to find a way climate change can be blamed

    Environmentalism is mentioned – and “deniers” are conditioned to think “alarmists” are trying to control the world with “green crap” (TM David Cameron).

    The only way out, in my view, is that both groups need to be challenged through discourse with each other, or one is left with two separate echo chambers that can never be reconciled.

  6. Pekka,

    Your list of questions is revealing. While it’s certainly not exhaustive, it’s long enough to help in understanding, why it’s so difficult to reach agreement.

    I’m not sure I completely follow what you’re implying here. They were just questions and it’s hard to see why asking those questions implies something. You shouldn’t assume that by asking those questions that you know what my answers would be.

    Some of the issues discussed are concrete and can be specified in a way that people, who want to understand, what they are, can agree on their meaning. Very many of the issue are, however, much more vague. When people appear to discuss these issues they may use the same words, but they do actually talk past each other. Few people understand, what those, who disagree with them and who come from a different background really have in mind.

    Yes, I agree and this is certainly an issue. A problem, though, is that if people wanted to understand what others were getting at they might try harder to do so. I certainly was not – as should been clear – dismissing people’s concerns about the economic consequences of acting. I think these are perfectly reasonable concerns to have. My issue is probably two-fold. As Dikran points out above, if someone’s argument requires cherry-picking the evidence, then that would appear to weaken their argument. Secondly, concerns about the economic consequences of acting is very different to assuming that there isn’t a viable economic pathway. I certainly think there is, although this is more based on a sense that we should be capable of finding a solution than a sense that it’s going to be easy (which I’ve never suggested it will be).

  7. AndyL,

    I think you minimise the costs of making major reductions in carbon emissions. Getting there will involve far more than simply eating less meat and taking holidays closer to home.

    I agree. Those were just questions (as I thought was obvious). I’m certainly not suggesting that the solution is to eat less meat, use public transport, and holiday locally. All I was suggesting in that section is that there is more than one way in which to run an economy. It wasn’t intended as a model for an economy that would mitigate climate change.

    I agree completely that this is not going to be easy and I wasn’t trying to suggest that it will be. The only real point I was getting at is that we should have the ability to have both a viable global economy and minimise the risks associated with climate change. At least, I think that’s true. Others may disagree.

  8. If it all sounds so illogical could it be that they do not mention their real reason?

  9. dikranmarsupial says:

    PP wrote “Part of that is due to different values – even values that do not include any obviously unethical to most.”

    Climate sensitivity however does not depend on anybody’s values or ethics though, it depends on physics, which is I think ATTP’s point. If someones values determine their views on climate sensitivity then they are misguided and their arguments would carry more weight if they stopped doing so.

    “Very much is, however, due to the incompleteness of the knowledge: We really cannot tell, what are the consequences of any particular action of significance.”

    I disagree, we have varying degrees of uncertainty regarding the consequences of possible particular actions of significance. States of knowledge are not binary, either knowing or not knowing, but a spectrum between those two extremes. Bayesian decision theory provides a rational means for decision making under uncertainty, and it is what a rational society would do. Unfortunately we do not live in a rational society.

  10. Climate sensitivity however does not depend on anybody’s values or ethics though, it depends on physics, which is I think ATTP’s point.

    Yes, exactly. In fact when I was writing this I kept wanting to use “behaviour” but that seemed wrong because our chosen “behaviour” could be to reduce our emissions. “Ethics” and “values” are the terms I was really looking for.

  11. David,

    The only way out, in my view, is that both groups need to be challenged through discourse with each other, or one is left with two separate echo chambers that can never be reconciled.

    Well, I don’t think sensible discourse is possible until it becomes clear that one group’s basic argument has a fundamental flaw. My personal view is that at some point in the not too distant future it will become clear that we should have acted sooner. At that stage, those who’ve been arguing against action now, will suddenly start criticising scientists for not speaking out more.

  12. Lars Karlsson says:

    AndyL: ” If we have a couple of extra decades to adjust, the costs will be vastly lower and we will have many more technical options available.”

    A couple of decades ago we did have that extra time, but we didn’t take the chance.
    Unfortunately, if we listen to the “skeptics” (i.e. those who are firmly convinced there is no problem) the costs to adjust will continue to increase.

  13. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    A brief musing on pragmatic ethics

    1. It focuses on society, rather than on lone individuals, as the entity which achieves morality.[3] In Dewey’s words, “all conduct is … social.” [4]
    2. It does not hold any known moral criteria as beyond potential for revision.[3] Pragmatic ethics may be misunderstood as relativist, as failing to be objective, but that is like suggesting that science fails to be objective. Ethical pragmatists, like scientists, can maintain that their endeavor is objective on the grounds that it converges towards something objective.[5]
    3. It allows that a moral judgment may be appropriate in one age of a given society, even though it will cease to be appropriate after that society progresses (or may already be inappropriate in another society).[3] For example, the writings of Thomas Jefferson on slavery framed slavery as ultimately immoral, yet temporarily moral until America was ready for abolition.[6]

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

    Mitigation, whilst desirable in principle may be unachievable in practice, given the huge difficulty of achieving global agreement and beyond that implementation of CO2 emissions reductions.

    So there is an ethical case for, if not complete laissez-faire, at least prioritising adaptation over mitigation on pragmatic grounds. Thomas Jefferson’s reported position on slavery in the quote is analogous.

    I’m not saying I agree, just that I think it is a legitimate argument.

    What do you think?

    I look forward to Willard deconstructing my schoolboy knowledge of ethics

  14. ATTP,

    I took your list just as a list without any further implication about, what further you have in mind. I used the list as a starting point as if it had come from an unknown source.

    At some point I may have concluded that you (ATTP) have been pondering about these questions, but nothing more even at that point.

    =====

    I did write:

    The most concrete things are the physical sciences at the one end

    That includes, of course, what’s known about climate sensitivity.

  15. verytallguy says:

    Also – your retirement from blogging seems ethical in principle, but not pragmatically achievable 😉

  16. Andy L,

    This is why the debate over sensitivity really matters.

    It is important, but as many people have pointed out in the past “uncertainty isn’t our friend”. If we can’t constrain climate sensitivity accurately, that doesn’t imply that we should wait until we can. As it stands, a high emission pathway and a climate sensitivity somewhere near the middle of the range would lead to something like 2K of warming (relative to pre-industrial times) by the mid-2040s. Waiting to discover if that will be the case or not may well (would be, in my view) the wrong option.

  17. VTG,
    Yes, that is one of my (many) flaws. Let’s just assume that there’s a large uncertainty in any decisions I might be claiming to make (all the way from “I’ll definitely do this” to “no I won’t” 🙂 )

  18. Pekka,
    My list was really just there to indicate that there are many different ways in which we can choose to live our lives and which could lead to viable economies. As Dikran points out, my reason for saying that was to simply illustrate that our values can influence our economic pathway, but cannot influence something that is underpinned by the laws of physics, such as climate sensitivity.

  19. VTG,

    So there is an ethical case for, if not complete laissez-faire, at least prioritising adaptation over mitigation on pragmatic grounds. Thomas Jefferson’s reported position on slavery in the quote is analogous.

    That’s an interesting point. It’s certainly possible that we don’t have the will to reach some kind of sensible global agreement and, therefore, that prioritising adaptation over mitigation would be a pragmatic approach. I guess I have two issue with this. One is simply that it is still essentially a choice that we, the most advanced known civilisation in the universe, are choosing to make. It’s rather depressing to think that despite our knowledge and understanding, we still can’t reach a sensible global agreement. The other is that the more we adopt this approach, the more likely it is to become reality. I do wonder what would happen if all those who say things like “I agree that climate change is real, but ….” followed by an argument as to why a global agreement won’t work, were rather to spend some time making the case for a global agreement.

  20. ATTP,

    That’s the way I used it. When I wrote “revealing”, I didn’t mean revealing of you but revealing of the complexity of the set of choices and questions that can be answered in different ways.

    Most people are not experts of climate science or development economics or in predicting what future technologies may provide. They form their views about climate policies based on what’s more familiar to them and what people they trust more are telling. In net discussions we meet people, who have such a background, but try to argue in terms they know nothing about. The self-selective nature of commenting on the net adds very much to the confusion.

  21. Pekka,

    The self-selective nature of commenting on the net adds very much to the confusion.

    Absolutely, I agree. In a sense, we do have to be careful of assuming that the discussion that takes place on the net is somehow representative of the discussion in general. It’s my very sincere hope that it’s not 😉

  22. David Blake says:

    “Well, I don’t think sensible discourse is possible until it becomes clear that one group’s basic argument has a fundamental flaw.”

    Sensible discourse is entirely possible. Both groups are (mostly) human, and both groups require the species to survive (or at least most are in favour… :-D). There can be many areas of shared agreement to mutual benefit. It’s very much down to how the point is made to get a successful outcome. For example:

    * Sea level rise. If one says to the sceptic public at large: “sea-level is rising and it’s all your fault you hearless *******”. The response would likely be confrontational and would tie the debate in knots for decades. However if one points out, calmly, that it’s been rising for several thousand years with us and without, but we may be making it worse, so we have to act sometime – why not now? Then I would think action is more likely to be taken

    * Energy security: E.g: “do you really want to be supporting some foriegn despotic regime by buying oil/coal from them? Or would you prefer to rely on good old British/American technology with a new nuclear/solar plant? It’s the patriotic thing!”

    I’m sure there are many other areas where an agreement could be made, even though the two parties are in opposition on the main causes of the problems.

  23. David,

    Sensible discourse is entirely possible. Both groups are (mostly) human, and both groups require the species to survive (or at least most are in favour… :-D).

    Yes, true. I was applying VTG’s pragmatic ethics 🙂 It’s, of course, possible but – in my view – unlikely to become probably for a while yet.

    What you say about energy security in indeed something that has always confused me. Even if we do want to continue using the cheapest possible energy source, why would we not want to also be investing in technology that could lead to energy security in the future and could potentially lead to less volatility in the energy markets. There seem to be many reasons to invest in technology, not just because of climate change. It’s almost as if some resist this simply because climate change is one of the arguments being made.

  24. Joshua says:

    I think that there’s another symmetry: how people argue (for example, through name-calling) – in particular how people who are highly identified with one side or the other in this debate argue, and in particular how people who are highly identified with one side or the other argue through the online medium.

    Along those lines, what David says above:

    ==> “Much of the problem has now become Pavlovian. One group/person says something, and the other is conditioned to automatically attack it – without actually reading it or thinking about it. It’s enough that “they” said it for it to be “wrong”.”

    How many times have we all seen the same patterns play out in the online discussions around these issues? Same folks arguing in the same patterns. It might make sense if anyone changed in their perspective – but it doesn’t happen.

    Also, as David says above:

    ==> “The only way out, in my view, is that both groups need to be challenged through discourse with each other, or one is left with two separate echo chambers that can never be reconciled.”

    Perhaps, but the context for the discourse needs to be different. Isn’t this endless pattern of online climate warfare a form of views being challenged through discourse with each other? But it nets no meaningful change as an outcome – no measure of “reconciliation.” Because those who are engaged are not invested in “reconciliation” sufficiently, but instead they let their discourse fall into the pattern of defending their own identity and attacking that of others. That is why, IMO, the sort of efforts we see from Richard Betts and Tamsin Edwards will not be effective,. On the surface it seems more reconciliation-like, but the approach doesn’t reach beneath the surface to address the more systemic problems in the discourse. Nothing will change. The same incompatibilities will exist. The same patterns of “talking past each other,” as Anders descriubed well in the post, will persist.

  25. David Blake says:

    aTTP,
    “It’s almost as if some resist this simply because climate change is one of the arguments being made.”

    Oh yes. Positively Pavlovian. I must say, being from the other camp, what I witness is “alarmists” calling the “deniers” stupid – and from that moment on, anything the “alarmist” camp say is greeted with an understandable “**** you” from the “deniers”.

    But, as I say, agreement is very possible. Would you imagine that James Hansen and the GWPF agree on things? Unthinkable? No, not really. Dr Hansen advocates Nuclear power, and the GWPF advocate Nuclear power – for opposite reasons, but the result is the same and would please both parties..

  26. Joshua says:

    ==> “* Energy security: E.g: “do you really want to be supporting some foriegn despotic regime by buying oil/coal from them? Or would you prefer to rely on good old British/American technology with a new nuclear/solar plant? It’s the patriotic thing!””

    I have tried, essentially that, many times – with no effect but to engender hostility.

    Now I’ve tried that as someone who is heavily engaged in the climate wars, and identified as such. And I’ve tried that form of engagement with others who are also heavily engaged and identified – so there’s no reason to expect it would work with them. So let’s not generalize from blogospheric interactions.

    But the problem here is that because climate change is so polarized – the first thing that many people do is seek out ways to attach arguments to pre-conceived patterns of identity-associated arguments. The content gets lost. One way or the other, someone who is making the argument you describe will get labeled as either a “realist” or “skeptic” – and the patterns will play out accordingly.

    IMO, a different outcome can only come through a participatory process where people are committed reconciliation – to identifying the differences between interests and positions and to maximizing shared interests. But how do you set up such a process. Pragmatically, as VTG alludes to, it is easiest through processes where local communities are discussing adaptation; but discussing mitigation and/or adaptation on a larger geographical scale is far more difficult.

  27. verytallguy says:

    Joshua,

    “They breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin” – Ian Paisley on Catholics, 1969
    “If anybody had told me a few years ago that I would be doing this, I would have been unbelieving” – inside Parliament Buildings, Stormont, after agreeing to enter a power-sharing government with former IRA leader Martin McGuinness as his Deputy First Minister.

  28. Joshua says:

    ==> “Oh yes. Positively Pavlovian. I must say, being from the other camp, what I witness is “alarmists” calling the “deniers” stupid – and from that moment on, anything the “alarmist” camp say is greeted with an understandable “**** you” from the “deniers”.”

    The use of “denier” is far from the sufficient condition to elicit a “**** you” from “skeptics.” And even if a “*** you” isn’t the response (let’s say from a minority of commenters at WUWT responding to Richard Betts”), the response will still be something along the lines of “You’re an ‘alarmist’ who is indifferent to the outcomes of the policies you support – outcomes of ‘economic suicide’ in the West and tens of millions of poor children starving in Africa”

  29. Joshua says:

    Sorry – I meant far from the “necessary” condition (although it may be sufficient).

  30. Joshua says:

    VTG – interesting angle. So what are potential parallels that might help explain how to bring the Catholics and Protetants of the climate wars to the table? Imagine Jim Inhofe and Michael Mann signing the climate wars version of the Good Friday Agreement.

  31. MikeH says:

    “I must say, being from the other camp, what I witness is “alarmists” calling the “deniers” stupid – and from that moment on, anything the “alarmist” camp say is greeted with an understandable “**** you” from the “deniers”.”

    Bullshit.

    As Betts & Edwards discovered, opposition to the science has little to do with being polite or calling it as it is. This has been dissected to death by the social scientists. The “skeptics” oppose climate science because of their ultra conservative political views. Everything else is noise.

    And as this heavily trolled (& poorly titled) article at The Conversation’s UK site points out, it is cumulative emissions that are the issue. A lower climate sensitivity would give us a few more years to act on emissions but it is not salvation.
    https://theconversation.com/our-equation-proves-climate-change-is-linked-to-emissions-34897

  32. David Blake says:

    Joshua,
    “The use of “denier” is far from the sufficient condition to elicit a “**** you” from “skeptics.””

    Oh it’s not the “D-word”, it’s the “stupid”. On average there are just as many less than intelligent people on both sides. Just because Freeman Dyson is a sceptic, doesn’t make him stupid. It doesn’t necessarily make him right either. Stephen Hawking said that GHGs may turn the Earth into Venus, he’s not stupid either, but he’s not necessarily right.

  33. verytallguy says:

    Joshua,

    both parties had something substantial to lose from the status quo, and both something substantial to gain from the change.

  34. Tom Curtis says:

    Joshua, it has been established that being a Republican, conservative Christian climate scientist writing a chapter on climate science for a book by a former Republican leader of the house, and then candidate for nomination to President is sufficient to invoke the “**** you” response, and worse. I suggest that this shows the “**** you” response to be conditional on merely disagreeing with a denier about climate change. There is no communication strategy that will avoid invoking it.

  35. TinyCO2 says:

    ATTP, Firstly, regardless of how you or the majority of warmists think, the hyper catastrophic message was the one that was sold to the public and I suspect most politicians too as they are exposed to the same hype. You (warmists in general) have never distanced yourself from it so it’s yours whether you want to own it or not. I even suspect many knowledgeable warmists keep quiet over the most extreme forms of alarmism because they think the issue needs a little push to get it into many minds as quickly as possible. Well it worked and then nothing happened. Most sceptics started by reacting to the exaggeration and even the mildest objection earned them a swift boot into denierville. OK if I’m a denier I’ll be a denier.

    Secondly you seem to think that the economics are irrelevant to the science. If you examine science as it is publicised there are catastrophic messages everywhere. This disease could kill 75% of the global population, we could all be wiped out by an asteroid, antibiotics are running out… There is some truth to all of them but if we reacted to the worst case for everything we’d be both mentally and financially destroyed. And in many cases the worst hasn’t happened so reacting too soon would have been a waste of money and emotion. Climate scientists would argue that this time it’s really disastrous to which many minds think ‘yeah, they all say that’. How are people to balance one scientific subject with another? How are they to do it when scientists demonstrate their ability to be less that 100% honest? Albeit for a good cause… ‘yeah they all say that too’.

    Money is not irrelevant. There is a limited amount to go a round and we all make decisions where our priorities lie. Most people, including those who claim to worry about AGW, do not do everything they reasonably should do, let alone everything they could do to cut their emissions. Why is that? I’d suggest it’s because the evidence they posses about AGW is considerably less convincing than the evidence they have for their other concerns. Note, evidence is not the same as truth.

    Those who do try to reduce their emissions, soon find that the solutions were hyped too. None of them make that much difference unless you significantly change your lifestyle or were especially wasteful to start with. People start to get cross that they’ve been lied to from all corners and dig their heels in. Worse, many of them stop listening. Politicians are also in a bind. They are discovering that windmills and solar panels, far from being ‘free’ energy are expensive, unreliable and potentially destructive.

    Finally we come to democracy. That’s where the plebs get to have their say. If the powers that be decide on something without the agreement (or more accurately a lack of objection) of the majority, it doesn’t happen. Seriously. We may have a poor belief in politics but the public will soon shift an unpopular policy or politician. Look at Obama and his grand plans. What has he actually achieved? Oh but that’s just the Republicans. Yes, and I’m sorry, but they get a say too. Saying climate science is convincing when at least half the population don’t buy it, is just wilful blindness. Saying it’s convincing when the vast majority do little or nothing about it is madness.

  36. David Blake says:

    MikeH,
    “The “skeptics” oppose climate science because of their ultra conservative political views. Everything else is noise.”

    That’s really not helpful.

    “Skeptics” are always ultra conservative? And I suppose from inference that “alarmists” are always ultra left-wing (seeking to control the world in a Fabian plot)? I’m sure that there are small elements of both, but that’s a rather wild accusation to make about the groups as a whole (one that most definitely doesn’t apply to me in any case).

    The debate has to move on from your rather narrow view, and I pray that it does.

  37. Tiny,

    the hyper catastrophic message was the one that was sold to the public and I suspect most politicians too as they are exposed to the same hype. You (warmists in general) have never distanced so it’s yours whether you want to own it or not.

    It’s never been my message, so I have no idea how to distance myself from it or why I should own it. I’m not responsible for anything someone else may or may not have said. Also, whether or not the catastrophic has been (or is being) used, doesn’t change that climate change has the possibility to have a catastrophic outcome. Ignoring this because you think the message has been too catastrophic seems a little unwise.

    Secondly you seem to think that the economics are irrelevant to the science.

    It’s not irrelevant, but it’s clearly irrelevant as far as fundamental physics is concerned. How we respond to rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere is not going to depend on our economic model.

    Money is not irrelevant.

    I know, I’ve never said it was. And, just to re-iterate what I said on BH, I’m really not trying to spend yours 🙂

    Those who do try to reduce their emissions, soon find that the solutions were hyped too.

    Sure, but that’s mainly because we haven’t actually reduced our emissions. It’s clear that finding a viable solution is going to be very difficult. Not finding one, though, may end up being very difficult too.

    Finally we come to democracy. That’s where the plebs get to have their say.

    Precisely and this is one reason why I’m not convinced that the inability to have sensible dialogue is such a big deal. We don’t need to convince those who are certain that climate change is not an issue worth taking seriously. We just need to convince enough people that it is.

  38. dikranmarsupial says:

    David Blake, nonsense, you don’t need to call anyone a denier or stupid for the abuse to start, been there, done that, have the requisite item of apparel. See for example http://judithcurry.com/2014/09/18/distinguishing-the-academic-from-the-interface-consensus/

  39. Dikran,
    True, my recent foray onto Bishop-Hill has resulted in at least one “you are a LYING ASSHOLE”. Don’t believe I called anyone a denier or stupid.

  40. David Blake says:

    @dikranmarsupial
    “David Blake, nonsense, you don’t need to call anyone a denier or stupid for the abuse to start, been there, done that, have the requisite item of apparel. ”

    Oh I’ve been there too! Many times. I get abuse for linking to a NASA chart. I get abuse for linking to a temperature graph, to peer-reviewed papers, quoting scientists, making reasonable comments. It is as I said above a Pavlovian reaction. He is from the “other side” therefore he must be attacked.

    And it’s both sides doing the attacking – don’t make the mistake that it’s only one way.

  41. Joshua says:

    ==> “Most sceptics started by reacting to the exaggeration and even the mildest objection earned them a swift boot into denierville.”

    I see that tiny has been elected as spokesperson for the “skeptics” (who are not monolithic, of course).

  42. dikranmarsupial says:

    TinyCO2 wrote “the hyper catastrophic message was the one that was sold to the public and I suspect most politicians too as they are exposed to the same hype.”

    Please could you show me the “hyper-catastrophic” statements in the IPCC WG1 report. I suspect you will have difficulty finding them on the grounds that they are not there, it is actually quite a moderate document, and it is a shame that more of those involved in the debate don’t use it for fact checking. CAGW is essentially an invention of climate skeptic blogs AFAICS.

    “Secondly you seem to think that the economics are irrelevant to the science. ”

    I’d say “orthogonal” would be a better term than “irrelevant”. Clearly economics has no effect on the science, the laws of physics are independent of economics. However both science and economics should inform the decision making process

  43. David,

    Oh I’ve been there too! Many times. I get abuse for linking to a NASA chart. I get abuse for linking to a temperature graph, to peer-reviewed papers, quoting scientists, making reasonable comments.

    I don’t want to restart yesterday’s debacle, but you linked to a paper that you claimed disproved the greenhouse effect, but didn’t, and showed a graph claiming to show that the warming was much slower than expected but which didn’t (you compared the wrong things). You might want to consider that it’s not so much abuse as strongly worded constructive criticism.

  44. dikranmarsupial says:

    David Blake, wrote ” I get abuse for linking to a NASA chart. ” please give an example.

  45. Joshua says:

    I have to say, tiny’s comment is one of the more target-rich comments that I’ve seen for a while:

    ==> “There is a limited amount to go a round and we all make decisions where our priorities lie.”

    It’s always interesting to see who makes a “fixed pie” argument, and when they do so.

    ==> “Most people, including those who claim to worry about AGW,…”

    I love the “those who claim” rhetoric.

  46. David Blake says:

    aTTP,
    I don’t want to go there either – but that’s not what I said. I said “turns the GHE on its head” or something very similar. They found the GHE wasn’t ultimately controlled by blocking LW, but by increased SW absorbtion. If that isn’t turning the conventional understanding of the GHE on its head I don’t know what is… The main surprise for me (maybe you already knew) that that was how the GCMs already view the GHE. (I already knew LW wasn’t falling – I got banned from the Guardian for “denial” by pointing it out…!)

    ..and I don’t know what graph you are referring to.

  47. Joshua says:

    VTG –

    ==> “both parties had something substantial to lose from the status quo”

    Perhaps the problem in a nutshell.

    The patterns in how people assess risk in the face of uncertainty inform this discussion. Given those patterns, how is it that “skeptics” might come to see a substantial risk from the status quo before some 100? years or so have elapsed – and where there’s no question that the magnitude of actual climate change outstrips any uncertainties (or on the other side, a lack of any substantial climate change outstrips any uncertainties)?

  48. Joshua,
    Yes, without really wanting to pile-on to Tiny here, it is one of this comments that does make me think whether or not the person has thought it through. In what sensible world-view am I responsible for the views expressed by others in the past, or even now. I don’t belong to a group as such. Similarly, I don’t think Tiny is responsible for (or owns) some of the ridiculous things that have been said by prominent “skeptics”. He does, however, get to own his own ridiculous statements (as do I, to be fair 🙂 ).

  49. David Blake says:

    @dikranmarsupial,
    “David Blake, wrote ” I get abuse for linking to a NASA chart. ” please give an example.”

    Oh as I said to aTTP posting this graph got me banned from the Guardian! http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/zFD/an2020_LWup_toa.gif

  50. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Similarly, I don’t think Tiny is responsible for (or owns) some of the ridiculous things that have been said by prominent “skeptics”. ”

    Actually, I think that tiny does start to assume responsibility for what other “skeptics” say when he offers his idealized version of why “most skeptics” argue as they do.

  51. TinyCO2 says:

    It doesn’t matter to outsiders whether you want to own extreme alarmism or not. It’s yours. It’s a legacy that is impeding your desired goal of influencing the public. You are concerned enough to fret over how sceptics portray the science and to try to do something about it. You will have zero effect. Surely it would be more productive to influence your own side? Or do you fear that they are as deaf to reason as deniers (your view, not mine)?

    Society is people. To have society act or spend or even understand you have to influence individuals. You have to spend their money. Affect their lives. At the moment society says ‘no’. If society decides to spend, we all spend. If you are happy to let society make its own decisions then accept that sceptics are part of society too and have just as much right to influence others as you.

  52. David,
    But I think the correct statement you should have made is that it “turns the cartoon representation of the GHE on its head”. The greenhouse effect, in its simplest form, is simply that changing the greenhouse gas concentration in our atmosphere changes the energy balance. If we increase concentrations we will be gaining more energy than we lose, until temperatures rise to retain equilibrium. If we reduce them, then the reverse will happen. All that paper was doing was trying to clarify, in more detail, the actual underlying physical processes; it wasn’t turning the greenhouse effect itself on its head.

  53. Joshua says:

    David –

    ==> “Oh it’s not the “D-word”, it’s the “stupid””

    I think that may be, in some ways, more causal than the use if “dener” (because in a sense it is a more personal insult) – but I think that the actual causal mechanism is far more complicated. When “skeptics” say “*** you,” I think it is not merely a reaction to something someone else has said.

  54. David Blake says:

    @ Tiny,
    “ATTP, Firstly, regardless of how you or the majority of warmists think, the hyper catastrophic message was the one that was sold to the public and I suspect most politicians too as they are exposed to the same hype. ”

    I agree that there is a strong element of “the boy who cried Wolf” about the “alarmist” message.

    Just to pick some at random: http://www.theguardian.com/comment/story/0,3604,582445,00.html
    and http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2003/aug/06/weather.climatechange

    A change of up to 10C was mentioned in the latter. The former said that Tuvalu was about to go under the waves and they are evacuating. Last year they built more Hotel complexes..!

    The root could perhaps be derived from the misquote of the late Stephen Schneider:

    “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”
    http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Mediarology/Mediarology.html#TheDoubleEthicalBindPitfall

    Perhaps some scientists fed the “scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have” line to the press? Who knows?

    In the science papers themselves uncertainties are usually highlighted, but get chopped off in the media message.

  55. Tiny,

    It’s yours. It’s a legacy that is impeding your desired goal of influencing the public.

    See, this is where you’re wrong. I’m not trying to influence the public. I write a blog that others can read and that most can comment on if they wish. I believe that I’m doing my best to honestly explain what is a complex science area and to express my views/opinions about the general topic. What people make of that is entirely up to them. Whatever others may have said in the past has no bearing on the reality of climate change/climate science. Also, whatever you might say or think, I’m not responsible for and nor do I own what others may have said in the past or still say today.

    At the moment society says ‘no’. If society decides to spend, we all spend. If you are happy to let society make its own decisions then accept that sceptics are part of society too and have just as much right to influence others as you.

    Oh, I agree completely. That wasn’t what I was suggesting. I was simply suggesting that given we live in a democracy I don’t have to convince hard-line skeptics that they’re wrong, I simply need to convince enough other people that hard-line skeptics are wrong. Of course the population of people that would fit the decription of “hard-line skeptic” can change with time. People are allowed to change their opinions.

  56. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “If you are happy to let society make its own decisions then accept that sceptics are part of society too and have just as much right to influence others as you.

    Tiny makes an excellent point. You just have to start accepting that “skeptics” are a part of society, and that they have rights.

    It’s time for you to stop pretending that “skeptics” don’t exist, and if they did, they would have no rights.

    You just can’t argue with logic like that!

  57. TinyCO2 says:

    Joshua and ATTP – so you’ve given all your money away to starving Africans? Or don’t you believe they starve? Or don’t you care?

    Anybody who says that decisions are not made on resources (and money is a major one) are laughable. There is always MORE we could do but don’t. That you pretend to be above that is part of the problem of warmist credibility.

  58. TinyCO2 says:

    So ATTP, why do you ever venture beyond your blog? Why do you care what sceptics say about the science? Why turn up periodically at BH? I supposed it was because you wanted society to make the right decisions but as you have assured me several times, public opinion is irrelevant to you, I suppose I have to believe you.

  59. John Mashey says:

    At least for US, Tea Partiers and traditional Republicans are split on science. I.e., one needs to be careful with labels.
    Bob Inglis is a conservative Republican.who lost his seat because he supported climate science. Look for the movie Merchants of Doubt when it comes out – there’s a long sequence with him talking to people about climate.
    George Shultz is hardly a raving liberal, but was one of the main leaders in the fight to preserve CA’s AB32 law on climate, and he rhapsodizes about his Nissan Leaf.

    The TEA Party of course was fostered by the Kochs plus Big Tobacco to do exactly what it is doing.

    and broken record:
    Pseudoskeptics Are Not Skeptics.

  60. David Blake says:

    aTTP,
    “But I think the correct statement you should have made is that it “turns the cartoon representation of the GHE on its head”.”
    Fair enough. But the cartoon representation is how people are taught it . Remember the Trenberth Kehl energy budget cartoon from yesterday? That, as it turns out is wrong! (But I don’t remember you pointing it out… :-D)

  61. Tiny,

    so you’ve given all your money away to starving Africans? Or don’t you believe they starve? Or don’t you care?

    Why does me caring require that I give away all of my money?

    There is always MORE we could do but don’t. That you pretend to be above that is part of the problem of warmist credibility.

    Of course there is always more that we could do, but don’t. I have no idea why you think that I (or warmists in general) think they’re above this? I certainly don’t think I am. In fact, this is probably an illustration of an issue with this debate in that you’ve characterised an entire group in a simplistic and rather offensive way, simply because you happen to disagree with what they suggest.

    So ATTP, why do you ever venture beyond your blog? Why do you care what sceptics say about the science? Why turn up periodically at BH? I supposed it was because you wanted society to make the right decisions but as you have assured me several times, public opinion is irrelevant to you, I suppose I have to believe you.

    Hold-on, I didn’t say I have no interest in discussions or think that one shouldn’t try to convince hard-line “skeptics”. As far as discussions go, I think sensible ones with those who disagree vehemently with me are largely impossible. As far as convincing goes, I was simply suggesting that it isn’t necessary to do so; I didn’t say that one shouldn’t try or that I didn’t ever try. In a sense I venture out in a combination of hope and to remind myself that I shouldn’t really have any 🙂

    I guess I go to BH because it’s in the UK and because it’s relevant and has a voice. Otherwise, I’d ignore it as I do many others these days.

  62. dikranmarsupial says:

    TinyCO2, I asked “Please could you show me the “hyper-catastrophic” statements in the IPCC WG1 report.”

    An answer to that question would help your argument considerably more than questioning ATTP’s motives for trying to discuss climate on skeptic blogs (which seem quite laudable AFAICS).

  63. David,
    I don’t think the Trenberth graph is relevant to the paper you mention. The paper you mention discusses how we return to energy balance after some perturbation. The Trenberth graph is an illustration of energy flows in equilibrium. Also, I don’t think cartoon representations are ever right or wrong.

  64. verytallguy says:

    David Blake/Tiny

    I think you may find that hypercatastrophist views on climate change by folk like Simms are, in fact challenged by warmists. Just for instance
    http://discussion.theguardian.com/comment-permalink/5021937

    There are exceptions, but in general the communication of climate change is far less catastrophist than the reality. The IPPC reports are a conservative, lowest common denominator of consensus, very far from alarmist.

    And if you read IPCC AR5 you’ll find the upper bound for global temperature rise at the end of this century is 7.8degrees under RCP8.5 (Ref WG3 table SPM1)

    The article quoting 7-10 as potential is not alarmist. It’s real. It’s just that some peole are in denial over it.

  65. verytallguy says:

    Joshua and ATTP – so you’ve given all your money away to starving Africans? Or don’t you believe they starve? Or don’t you care?

    Do you want to be taken seriously by anyone?

  66. verytallguy says:

    On the conservatism of IPPC and their propensity to underestimate the impacts of climate change in one specific area

    http://www.glaciology.net/Home/Miscellaneous-Debris/ar5sealevelriseuncertaintycommunicationfailure

  67. Joshua says:

    tiny –

    ==> “Or don’t you believe they starve? Or don’t you care?”

    No, I don’t think that Africans starve (black people are super humans)

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/11/whites_see_blacks_as_superhuman_strength_speed_pain_tolerance_and_the_magical.html

    And even if they did, I wouldn’t care.

  68. TinyCO2 says:

    dikranmarsupial, please could you show me where journalists, politicians or the public read any of the IPPC reports? It’s the small print argument. I’ve watched any number of inteviews where someone has cited the IPCC report and directly contradicted what it said. Who is it who should counter that? By leaving sceptics to fill the void you allow them to put any spin on it they like.

    ATTP, ok I’ll allow you to keep the bare essentials. Think I’m kidding? That’s what the deep greens want us to do. And without a major change in energy production, that might be what it takes to significantly lower our emissions. Are you ready for that? At each potential CO2 sensitivity how much are you prepared to change? Since the consequences are so high, shouldn’t you automatically go full scale, as if the most unlikely upper end is the real value. Just in case?

    nb It’s always worth noting that to just park CO2 emissions we have to have a per capital rate of just 2 tonnes. Expecting/hoping/pretending society will sort that isn’t being logical.

  69. Gingerbaker says:

    “I think you minimise the costs of making major reductions in carbon emissions. Getting there will involve far more than simply eating less meat and taking holidays closer to home. ”

    I disagree. A very compelling argument can be made that it will be incredibly inexpensive to eliminate carbon emissions.

    Hoe expensive something appears to be is relative. For example – Jacobson and Delucci have published their studies on how much it will actually cost to build the 100% renewables infrastructure we will need in the U.S. They estimate the cost to eliminate fossil fuel use in California to be $1.00 trillion. California uses about 1/6th of the energy/fossil fuels in the U.S. Therefore, we might say it should cost about $6 trillion to build the infrastructure we need as a nation. Let’s add some breathing room – let’s say $10 trillion is what it will cost. Is that expensive?

    I would argue it is not expensive at all. We Americans currently spend about $1.5 trillion a year on fossil fuels! Merely redirecting those monies into a new Federally financed renewable energy system means we could build all the infrastructure we would need, yet it only represents seven years of fossil fuel expenses. PV panels look like they may have an 80-year useable lifetime, to put that into perspective.

    But we are not done with the calculation. The best available evidence for the adaptation cost of BAU is a study out of M.I.T. which estimates that the global cost by year 2100 alone will be $1240 trillion (!). The U.S. share of that, I’m guestimating, would be at least 25% – or a staggering $300 trillion. That is the cost of NOT building that renewables infrastructure in time.

    Eliminating fossil fuel use by building the renewables projects we need would likely be the best ROI in the history of economics, would represent a mere seven years of current fossil fuel costs, and would almost certainly put tens or hundreds of trillions of dollars in energy savings alone into the hands of American taxpayers by the year 2100.

    This dark non specific talk about the huge costs of the transition to clean energy needs to be challenged. It appears to be nothing but propaganda.

  70. BBD says:

    TinyCO2

    dikranmarsupial, please could you show me where journalists, politicians or the public read any of the IPPC reports? It’s the small print argument. I’ve watched any number of inteviews where someone has cited the IPCC report and directly contradicted what it said.

    Hearsay. And for all anyone knows here, you just made it up.

  71. BBD says:

    TCO2

    And without a major change in energy production, that might be what it takes to significantly lower our emissions.

    So displacing coal from electricity generation is a priority. Why you regard this as impossible and deep green hair shirts the only alternative is a mystery, unless you have some vested interest in the coal industry. Do you?

    If not, why the absolute resistance to the logical infrastructure change? Up to and including serial misrepresentation of the science?

  72. TinyCO2 says:

    Verytallguy “The article quoting 7-10 as potential is not alarmist. It’s real. It’s just that some peole are in denial over it.”

    And are you acting like you know that’s going to happen? Don’t award yourself wisdom points if you think it’s true and are doing the same as everyone else. If the most you can be bothered to do as a believer is mock deniers then I think the world would be screwed if you’re right.

    I don’t want you to take me seriously, I want you to take YOU seriously.

  73. TinyCO2 says:

    BBD, how many sceptics are anti nuclear? How many greens? It’s not us precluding the only serious contender. Windmills and solar panels are not going to make much of a difference without a shift in technology. At the moment they are an add on to a well stocked system. We will see if they can break a poorly stocked system over the next few years.

    Where did you see sceptics argue against research into new technology? Wave power is still only theoretical. Get the full size one working for a decade before you can say it’s viable. CCS is a pipe dream. Fusion has been 10 years away from a working model for as long as I’ve been alive.

    Gas has reduced CO2 by displacing coal. Now who is against extracting more gas?

    Get your parachute built before you jump off the cliff and if you have to jump without it, be darned sure you need to.

  74. verytallguy says:

    Tiny, stay on point.

    You were whining about hypercatastrophism, now you’ve moved seamlessly on to the personal actions of people who disagree with you.

    I’m waiting for you to demonstrate hypercatastrophism as a serious issue. I’ve given an example of warmists (me!) challenging it when it does arise and also that generally it doesn’t.

    Still waiting for your arguments and cites rather than assertions, Tiny.

  75. dikranmarsupial says:

    TinyCO2 wrote “dikranmarsupial, please could you show me where journalists, politicians or the public read any of the IPPC reports?”

    Evasion. CAGW is an invention of climate skeptics, and the place you see more claims of catastrophic climate change is at skeptic blogs where straw men are presented.

    The IPCC reports contain a summary for policymakers, so any politician that wants to make a statement on climate change ought to be expected to have read at least that much of it. Having said which, democracy means we have the politicians we deserve.

    I am a member of the public, and I am perfectly capable of doing some basic fact checking using the IPCC reports. Don’t you? If you don’t, you ought to give it a try. The first WG1 report is the most readable and more than sufficient to check most arguments.

    Plenty of journalists look things up in the IPCC reports, indeed it isn’t hard to find journalists discussing the reports. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24292615 .

  76. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Dikranmarsupial, what CO2 said. Most people don’t get their info about climate change directly from the IPCC reports. They get it via the press (which often gets it via politicians and activists) and hyper-catastrophism is common in the press, especially in the run-up to COPs. For example, this article, which appeared on the front page of Mondays’s print edition of the NYT:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/01/world/climate-talks.html

    ‘Even with a deal to stop the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists warn, the world will become increasingly unpleasant. Without a deal, they say, the world could eventually become uninhabitable for humans.’

    They do?

    (Elsewhere she writes that it’s the negotiators at COP20 who are warning about the planet becoming uninhabitable. Much more believable.)

    She also says that there’s a large body of scientific research showing that +2C would be a tipping point.

    There is?

  77. Nobodyknows says:

    I think there is a great disagreement on how strong climate sensitivity and feedbacks are. It is a great disagreement on what proof you can get from paleoclimate. And it is a great disagreement on how tragic a 2 degree warming from little ice age will be. And I don`t think this can be settled by basic physics now. There are no clear answers. All the time there are new scientific discoveries, as the recent weight on negative feedback of ozone, and the following overestimation of sensitivity in most models. It is a good thing that these questions can be discussed.

  78. dikranmarsupial says:

    vinny “Without a deal, they say, the world could eventually become uninhabitable for humans.’”

    I suspect you are missing the words “could” and “eventually” in this sentence, however I would indeed agree that this seems to me to be hyperbole. The best answer to hyperbole is to ask for evidence from the WG1 report (representing the mainstream scientific position) to support the contention.

    Something that is often misunderstood in public understanding of science is that a common activity for scientists is establishing bounds on what is plausible. In other words working out might possibly happen, rather than what is probable. This is at least partially because falsification is a common theme in science, and for that you need to establish bounds. Thus it wouldn’t surprise me if you could find papers that say that business as usual, if carried on without regard to environmental consequences *could* make the Earth uninhabitable under some set of conditions. However that is not the same as saying that the scientists were claiming that is what *would* happen (but then again that isn’t what the article is claiming).

  79. verytallguy says:

    Vinny,

    yes, around 2C may well induce tipping points in the climate. Greenland, for instance.

    According to recent modeling (Robinson et al, 2012), the tipping point for eventual total melting of the Greenland ice sheet could be a global temperature of around 1.6°C above preindustrial. Worse, the lower end of the range of possibilities is only 0.8°C, equal to today’s global temperature

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/is-greenland-close-to-a-climate-tipping-point.html

    It’s interesting that the actual quote from the article on habitability is

    at that point [4-10 degrees rise], they say, the planet could become increasingly uninhabitable.

    Is that backed up by the science?

    Why, yes it is!

    Reasonable worst-case scenarios for global warming could lead to deadly temperatures for humans in coming centuries, according to research findings from Purdue University and the University of New South Wales, Australia.
    We found that a warming of 12 degrees Fahrenheit would cause some areas of the world to surpass the wet-bulb temperature limit, and a 21-degree warming would put half of the world’s population in an uninhabitable environment

    http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100504HuberLimits.html

  80. dikranmarsupial says:

    Having said which, if someone is unwilling to do anything about AGW unless there is strong evidence that it is likely to make the planet uninhabitable, I’d say that was not a very sensible position to take. There is a small amount of grey area between “nothing will happen” and “we are all going to die!” ;o)

  81. And I don`t think this can be settled by basic physics now. There are no clear answers. All the time there are new scientific discoveries, as the recent weight on negative feedback of ozone, and the following overestimation of sensitivity in most models. It is a good thing that these questions can be discussed.

    Following on from what Dikran is saying, there are essentially two separate issues. One is the simple scientific interest in how our climate will respond to changes in external forcings. If that’s all we’re interested in, we can just wait and find out. The other is whether or not we should ignore the risk that it might be quite sensitive to changes in external forcings. This requires considering whether or not it’s worth doing something to avoid this possibility. That we don’t know what climate sensitivity actually is does not immediately mean that we should simply wait to find out.

  82. anoilman says:

    I find the labeling and handling of all this terribly confusing.

    I’m called an Alarmist because I read science. Does that make sense? No. Is that the first thing you’d say about Spock? No.

    Not only that but from the Science denial community the argument is that the science must be wrong because its inconvenient or their pocket books. That doesn’t make any sense to me either. These are two separate discussions… science… pocket books.

    It strikes me that to people not versed in technical matters, that all arguments are the same confluence. It looks absolutely bizarre to see discussions looking like this; “Carbon can’t cause global warming because its expensive to fix.”

    I think that the real reason opposition is going for the science is that the costs do enter a realm of subjective values. Its one thing to watch TV and see some flooding disaster, and its quite another to watch TV, see a disaster, and say, “I did that. I can’t be bothered to care for other people.”

    No PR campaign can win against the emotional appeal of disaster porn.

  83. BBD says:

    Ha ha.

    They get it via the press (which often gets it via politicians and activists)

    The Daily Mail gets pretty much all its climate (mis)information from the activists at the GWPF. Why doesn’t Vinny have concerns about this capture of a major newspaper by a libertarian lobby group?

    The Daily Mail was voted Media Matters Climate Change Misinformer of the Year (2013) for a reason. Where are Vinny’s concerns?

    There is no analogue for press distortion this serious that works the other way around. Yet Vinny’s concerns are all about minor issues with the reporting of mainstream climate science. When it is mangled, misrepresented and even denied in the media, Vinny is silent.

    See also the Wall St Journal.

    Where are Vinny’s concerns about the appalling misrepresentations of climate science in the WSJ?

    Where are they?

  84. BBD says:

    Apologies for the missing link:

    Daily Mail voted Media Matters Climate Change Misinformer of the Year (2013)

    I’m *shocked* that Vinny isn’t writhing and frothing with concerns about this real, appalling and ongoing distortion of the facts in climate change reportage by a major newspaper.

    Where oh where are Vinny’s litany of complaints and posts to this and other blogs decrying this horrifying state of affairs?

    Where are they?

  85. izen says:

    There is a fundamental assumption implicit in the scientific argument made by warmists, AGW activists and alarmists. It is the core dogma that probably provokes the strongest response from the ‘skeptics’ and deniers.

    The fact that the scientific case for AGW involves a global view of the process of CO2 emissions impacting the climate results in the unspoken assumption that a global collective response is required.
    That global CO2 emissions will require some form of constraint or regulation AS IF global CO2 emissions were a collective global process that was susceptible to global or even national control.

    There is a well established political philosophy that holds ALL governance as coercive and authoritarian. That views all the benefits we enjoy in the techno-industrial rich societies as emerging from the unfettered operation of free enterprise. Government is always an impediment, the less of it the better.
    An example would be the development of the steam engine in the UK. private enterprise competed to make better, more efficient machines. In France a government commission was set up to develope the best type.
    Britain ended up leading the industrial revolution, France ended up with the theory of the heat engine by Carnot.

    This ideological viewpoint starts with the assumption that government is inherently bad. Its reduction is an ethical good. This worldview shares with the communist and anarchist Utopians the belief that the in the ideal society any form of government would melt away as a moral evil and economic irrelevance.

    When any claim is made that CO2 emissions must be curtailed or controlled in some way it treats the many diverse private enterprises that generate CO2 emissions, and the web of economic systems they form, as something that can and should be centrally controlled. Even competition between Nations over such regulation is discouraged, a global agreement is sought for something that is seen by many as rightfully and best independent from government. From this POV interference, and any regulation is from historical precedent and ethical principle a very bad thing.

    The ancient conflict between individual freedom and communal regulation is triggered by the science of climate change because it treats not just the climate as a collective system, but the anthropogenic emissions as a collective process that requires a collective regulatory approach.
    To some it looks like science is being (ab?)used to legitimise authoritarian government of the very source of human progress.

    Now if only the CO2 emitters were nationalised industries, run by and in the hands of the Nation State. I predict a lot of those now rejecting the warmings of AGW would be decrying the inaction by the government in stopping emissions. It would be another example of how governments do not act in the interests of their citizens or subjects.
    How fortunate we are that private enterprise always does!

  86. anoilman says:

    [Mod: a bit inflammatory]

  87. TinyCO2 says:

    Even here at ATTP’s site I can detect indecision about what value each person instinctively thinks sensitivity to CO2 is. Why is that? I thought there was a consensus? It’s because it’s not just about basic physics. It’s not even just about observation, there is room for personal decision. The physical expression of that decision is what you do about it and sometimes that is a more honest response than what comes out of your mouths and fingertips. You say sceptics are in denial but they act in accordance with their beliefs. Can you say the same?

    I truly don’t want to convince you that AGW isn’t real. I want you to examine whether you ARE convinced or are just paying lip service to what you think is the truth. If the latter, what would you need to know (note ‘know’ and not ‘believe’) before you did more?

  88. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    IPCC’s best estimate for a doubling of CO2 is enough to be alarmed. Those who argue against doing anything steer towards tripling or even quadrupling.

    “Most “skeptics” appear to be alarmed about the economic consequences of acting to minimise climate disruption.”

    And yet there is a strong undercurrent of “neoliberalism”. The ideological belief that no regulation is always better than any regulation.

  89. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Ah! Izen beat me to it! Cheers!

  90. Tiny,

    Even here at ATTP’s site I can detect indecision about what value each person instinctively thinks sensitivity to CO2 is. Why is that? I thought there was a consensus?

    That’s because people here generally realise that we don’t know the answer. However, for almost any reasonable estimate of climate sensitivity, more than 50% (and almost all, actually) of the warming since 1950 has been anthropogenic. That’s – broadly speaking – the consensus : we’re warming and it’s mostly (not “partly” as stated this morning on BBC breakfast) us. Also, as Reich says, even the best estimates are sufficient for us to be alarmed, especially given that there is a non-negligible chance that it will turn out to be higher than the best estimate.

  91. jsam says:

    I’m painfully monolingual, just a smattering of French and Italian. Does anyone more skilled understand TinyCO2’s point? Is it yet another variant of “if you don’t understand oncology why do you believe your doctor’s diagnosis of cancer?”

  92. verytallguy says:

    Oilman,

    [Mod: references a deleted comment]

    Where there is a similarity with religion and one of the reasons some folk so readily deny the science of climate change is that they perceive it as a threat to their values, which are central to who they are.

    I would have a lot more respect if they said that their values were simply more important than climate change so we should suffer the consequences.

    I’d actually agree with them in some ways. It is, for instance, the case that a totalitarian world dictatorship could easily solve climate change. However, I believe that would genuinely be *worse* for humanity than climate change itself. I’d rather have 7 degrees of warming than Big Brother calling the shots.

  93. Michael Lloyd says:

    Seeing as you are having a debate about denial, you might want to consider some of the aspects of denial raised in this article,

    Six myths about climate change that liberals rarely question:
    http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-11-26/six-myths-about-climate-change-that-liberals-rarely-question

    Note that the author refers to physicist Tom Murphy’s blog (excerpt below):

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/post-index/

    Excerpt: “Growth and Sustainability
    First, one of my most important messages is that we need to shake the religion of growth. We simply can’t continue growing indefinitely. Either we use our brains to plot a trajectory into steady-state and hope it’s smooth, or we let nature decide how to deal with us. So start with the inaugural pair of posts: Galactic Scale Energy and Can Economic Growth Last? (perhaps also see the dinner conversation with an economist on this topic), then follow-up with Sustainable Means Bunkty to Me. In the same vein, you may want to check out Discovering Limits to Growth. Perhaps one of my more important contributions is The Energy Trap, describing the dis-incentive we will face in trying to pull out of an energy decline with renewable infrastructure.

    A common reaction to my statements of limited growth take to space as the answer. I am less convinced that this is a viable path.

    A major impetus for my interest in energy topics is peak oil. My views on the subject are described in Peak Oil Perspective. Our attitudes toward the possibility of decline/collapse put us in greater jeopardy—we may need an attitude adjustment. In fact, we’re so boxed in that we would do well to settle for a slower, simpler life. Yet we have a tendency to engage in ruthless extrapolation, assuming that our recent tear of progress will launch us into an ever-more-glorious future. When science tells us we can’t have all we want, we tend to dismiss it.

    An audio recap of many of these themes can be found on the Chris Martenson podcast.

    – See more at: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/post-index/#sthash.b8vd9tll.dpuf

  94. anoilman says:

    verytallguy: You are correct… I was only looking at the level I was looking at.

    Namely; “Be more (fill in religious belief here) and all will be well.”

    Its more like a get quick rich scheme anyways!

  95. verytallguy says:

    Tiny,

    you started off on hypercatastrophism and still refuse to actually tell us what that is or give any examples.

    Any chance of a retraction?

  96. [Mod: refers to a deleted comment]

    Michael Lloyd,
    Thanks, I’ll have a look at those. Unless I’m getting confused with someone else, I think I’ve read some of Tom Murphy’s stuff and generally found it very good.

  97. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    VTG,

    “would have a lot more respect if they said that their values were simply more important than climate change so we should suffer the consequences.”

    I agree completely. Someone having the opinion ‘climate change will have bad consequences but I am against any global regulation’ is completely ok with me. You fight it out in politics. Denying the science to hide that this is your actual opinion is not ok with me.

  98. I agree completely. Someone having the opinion ‘climate change will have bad consequences but I am against any global regulation’ is completely ok with me. You fight it out in politics. Denying the science to hide that this is your actual opinion is not ok with me.

    Yes, I also agree.

  99. Willard says:

    > I thought there was a consensus?

    About sensitivity? Where?

  100. Vinny Burgoo says:

    VTG, Davenport wasn’t talking about individual tipping points that might occur at temp. increases around 2C. She was talking about a systemic tipping point at exactly 2C – at the widely adopted nice-round-number political, not scientific, threshold/target. (Or it’s a nice round number in Celsius. Davenport used Fahrenheit, which gave it a spurious precision: 3.6F. Perhaps she was misled by that precision into thinking that it’s an actual science-backed threshold.)

    And why is your quote more of an actual quote than mine?

    And that Purdue paper you dug up was about particularly regions becoming uninhabitable, not the whole planet.

  101. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD, I did think of pointing out that parts of the press get their info via Dark Side activists (I was thinking of the Heartland Institute rather than GWPF) but thought it a point too obvious to be worth making. Clearly, I was wrong. I had forgotten what a tribal place this is and that people like you are waiting to pounce on shibboleths or their absence and do a little war dance.

  102. verytallguy says:

    Michael Lloyd,

    absolutely.

    Humanity *will* move to a sustainable future, by definition.

    The only thing we have any control over is *how* we get there.

    Some options are much more appealing than others

  103. pbjamm says:

    It is not possible to have sensible conversation about the costs of mitigation/adaptation when one participant insists that there is nothing to mitigate/adapt to.

  104. Vinny,
    I guess I don’t find “it’s only going to be parts of the planet that become uninhabitable, not the whole planet” particularly comforting. It seems a little like you’re nit picking and expecting journalists to have the same rigour as an academic paper. The reality is that climate change presents a risk and something I was trying to get at in this post is that we shouldn’t, in my view, really be criticising people for highlighting these risks.

  105. Eli Rabett says:

    A point Eli made over at the good Bishops, MT, Eli and a bunch of other folk, back in the prehistory of sci.environment worked quite hard at trying to define no risk actions that would both improve the world economically or at least be neutral and limit carbon dioxide emissions. There were (and are) no takers.

    From this Eli concluded that the deniers are not honest and the only point to all this is speaking to the skeptics and those who have not paid attention.

  106. verytallguy says:

    Vinny,

    the quote from the Davenport article was “increasingly uninhabitable” – exactly what the science, as I quoted, says. Inceasingly meaning “more than it was before”.

    And I’m not saying the article is entirely accurate or all-encompassing, merely that it is *not* “hypercatastrophism”, your rather risible claim. It’s actually fairly reasonbale – I wouldn’t by any means agree with all of it, but it’s not completely offbeam.

  107. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Pbjamm,

    “It is not possible to have sensible conversation about the costs of mitigation/adaptation when one participant insists that there is nothing to mitigate/adapt to.”

    You are right. Do you have any suggestions on getting forward when a participant does not want to ‘face facts’ for ideological reasons?

  108. Eli Rabett says:

    Vinny, the point is that all you have to have is for sections of the tropics (India, South China, Southeast Asia, Central America and Brazil) to become uninhabitable for a small part of the year for civilization to fall. India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, Kashmir is one of the cooler places on the sub continent. They already don’t like each other.

    Somebunny at Rabett Run in the comments on the Sherwood and Huber paper put it well

    It’s the creeping statistical hints between the lines of this paper that really bother me. Long before or even if we never see broad areas permanently enter a existentially threatening torrid regime, what about excursions? For instance, Pakistan this year has seen record temperatures approaching 54 degrees C in places where many people live, fortunately with lower humidity and only for handful of days but what about when/if such aberrations extend to a handful of weeks and are accompanied by inexorably increasing humidity? The resulting disaster would cause migrations. The worst-case scenario in Sherwood and Huber would not have to happen before we effectively lose major swathes of territory for year-round habitability.

  109. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Eli,

    “From this Eli concluded that the deniers are not honest and the only point to all this is speaking to the skeptics and those who have not paid attention.”

    Depressing really…

  110. dikranmarsupial says:

    TinyCO2 wrote “Even here at ATTP’s site I can detect indecision about what value each person instinctively thinks sensitivity to CO2 is. Why is that? I thought there was a consensus?”

    If you ask for a point estimate, you might have a point, however I suspect that we are rather likely to have estimates that are consistent with the interval of values that are considered plausible by the IPCC, which is a reasonable indication of the consensus amongst mainstream science.

    I personally don’t have a favorite number for CS, as I am comfortable with the idea of uncertainty (the uncertainty monster is only an ewok) I am happy to accept the distribution of plausible values from the IPCC report.

  111. Mal Adapted says:

    TinyCO2:

    ATTP, ok I’ll allow you to keep the bare essentials. Think I’m kidding? That’s what the deep greens want us to do.

    This reveals a lot about you, TinyCO2. It’s a classic straw man argument. Who are “the deep greens”? Do you actually know the name of anyone who wants us to keep only the bare essentials? Whoever it is, I’m confident they don’t represent any mainstream “warmist” position. There can’t be very many of them, and they clearly don’t have much influence in the political arena.

    If you’re not just using it as a rhetorical tactic but actually believe that “deep green” is a mainstream position, then you aren’t very well informed, or else you are the victim of deliberate disinformation. In any case, you probably shouldn’t be speaking for “most skeptics”.

  112. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP, I’m confused. I provided an example of unscientific catastrophism in the press as part of a discussion of equivalent behaviour by alarmists and deniers. You counter by saying that a different, lesser, science-backed catastrophe would be bad and (somewhat oddly) that journalists don’t have to get the science right, so we shouldn’t criticise people who do get the science right. I don’t follow the logic.

  113. Vinny Burgoo says:

    VTG, look higher up the article. Second paragraph. You’ll find another ‘actual quote’ about uninhabitability there, the one I quoted above. (Jeez! What is it about this place and goal posts?)

  114. Vinny,
    I guess my point is that Without a deal, they say, the world could eventually become uninhabitable for humans. is not, in my view, a catastrophist viewpoint. It has without a deal (i.e., only if we do nothing) and could (i.e., not certain). As VTG points out, there are papers that suggest that regions of the planet (and not insignificant regions) could have wet bulb temperatures above 35oC if we follow the more extreme emission scenarios. Maybe the article could have said regions of the world, but it still feels like a bit of a nit-pick.

  115. dikranmarsupial says:

    It also has “eventually”, it is basically saying “if we really tried, we could make the planet uninhabitable for humans, given sufficient time”. I would not be surprised if that were true, I would be surprised if we were *that* stupid (as a species).

  116. KR says:

    TinyCO2 – “…the hyper catastrophic message was the one that was sold to the public…”

    No, the initial message from the science on AGW (say, the 1980’s) was “hey, this is happening, there will be effects, we should do something about it.” Pretty gentle, but nothing was done. Because some people thought it would be too expensive (for them?), or that the science was a “liberal plot”.

    Time passes, cumulative emissions continue to grow, the consequences of AGW even if we act immediately grow as well – that’s what the science reports. And nothing continues to be done about it, with the same complaints of expense or conspiracy theories.

    Quite frankly, I don’t think any message to the action opposing libertarians or those profiting from fossil fuel (or other ideological bents, I’m not entirely certain what drives the Koch brothers to fund so much climate denial) could be gentle enough to avoid triggering a reflexive denial on their parts.

    Claiming, as you do, that “It’s your fault for being alarming” is a cop-out.

  117. BBD says:

    Vinny

    Clearly, I was wrong. I had forgotten what a tribal place this is and that people like you are waiting to pounce on shibboleths or their absence and do a little war dance.

    Not good enough. You are exposed as biased and intellectually very dishonest. Again.

    Keep airing your utterly one-sided concerns here and it and it will keep happening.

  118. matt says:

    TinyCO2, you were asked twice “Please could you show me the “hyper-catastrophic” statements in the IPCC WG1 report.”

    It shouldn’t take very long and pointing these out would be much more interesting than talking about sensationalism in the media which everyone knows happens (both ways-Wadhams unscientific predictions vs climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the enemies of Izen).

  119. “A major impetus for my interest in energy topics is peak oil. My views on the subject are described in Peak Oil Perspective. Our attitudes toward the possibility of decline/collapse put us in greater jeopardy—we may need an attitude adjustment. In fact, we’re so boxed in that we would do well to settle for a slower, simpler life. Yet we have a tendency to engage in ruthless extrapolation, assuming that our recent tear of progress will launch us into an ever-more-glorious future. When science tells us we can’t have all we want, we tend to dismiss it.”

    Harping on the “No Regrets” policy is what drives Curry crazy at CE and why she bans people like me that bring it up. No Regrets policy says that we reduce our carbon footprint with no regrets regarding of our original intent. If global warming doesn’t happen, big whoop because we have scarce high-grade crude anyways. If peak oil doesn’t happen — or we plunder the trillions of barres of oil shale locked in the Green River basin — we will likely get socked with massive global warming. We have absolutely no regrets going with alternative and renewable forms of energy.

    Is that really too hard for the chair of an Earth Sciences department to understand?

  120. BBD says:

    [Mod: Sorry, BBD, getting close to food fight territory here. Tone it down a bit if you can]

  121. verytallguy says:

    Vinny,

    What ATTP said. And you’re the one moving the goalposts. You originally claimed hypercatastrophism. Now you’re merely claiming not absolutely accurate.

    Thin gruel Vinny.

  122. I neglected the third leg of the No Regrets policy. If neither global warming or peak oil pans out as advertised, do we really want the air pollution of China?

    Curry would suggest that the uncertainty monster will inhale all the pollution, leaving the possibility that our air will become clean as a whistle.

    The deniers forget that we don’t berate them for just their views on climate change, but with respect to their views of reality. There really is no balance required unless they start to get a grip.

  123. anoilman says:

    Interesting developments in Canada on Carbon Pricing.

    Preston Manning was the leader of far right Conservatives and later bequeathed his political party to Steven Harper. He’s working at getting something done about Global Warming.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/how-to-communicate-a-good-idea/article21642629/

    Liberals and Conservatives working together;
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/ecofiscal-group-seeks-a-way-to-tax-pollution-not-jobs-1.2823634

    You can hear Manning on radio if you are interested;
    http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2014/12/03/preston-manning-conservatives-carbon-pricing/

  124. pbjamm says:

    “Do you have any suggestions on getting forward when a participant does not want to ‘face facts’ for ideological reasons?”

    No 😦
    All my attempts have ended in failure. My strong belief in the value of evidence, facts and science have mislead me into believing that others also value these things. I had always assumed that if you show people the evidence they will accept it and change their views. After a few years of doing that with strangers online and my own family members I no longer believe it will work for the True non-Believers. I still think it is a worthwhile endeavor though. The facts may not sway the person you are arguing with but there are plenty of lurkers who are reading along who may be influenced.

    “Earnest faslehoods left unchallenged risk being accepted as fact” – Monty Montgomery

  125. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Pbjamm,

    I guess most here feel like you do (predictable exceptions excluded that is). I feel the same.

    It probably was always like that. One burial at a time etc. before it gets “generally” accepted…

    I do wonder if Internet makes the phenomenon worse, echo chambers and all that?

  126. TinyCO2 says:

    I’m surprised that not one of you could think of an example of hyper catastrophism. Nothing came to mind? Really? ATTP can you help? No? How about just catastrophism? Hmm? No images in your mind of Al Gore on a podium showing CO2 and temperature going in lock step and then showing CO2 shoot up and giving the audience the impression that temperature would follow ‘in lock step’? No memory of Obama saying recently it was warming faster now than predicted five or ten years ago? No fanciful images of buildings flooded many storeys up? Nothing about the Himalayas springs to mind? Nothing?

  127. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Tiny,

    You don’t have examples yourself? Someone saying saying human civilization will break down at 2°C increase above pre-industrial levels? Why not?

    Bluster?

  128. verytallguy says:

    Tiny,

    Excellent, we agree. Hypercatastrophism is nonexistent.

    See Joshua, told you this engagement lark was easy.

    Tiny, truly you are the Rev Ian Paisley of denial.

  129. anoilman says:

    Richard, pbjamm: I guess I feel a bit more up beat lately since at least in Canada things appear to be shifting away from denial to dealing with issues.

    Of course that implies that the next leg of opposition will begin.. “Lets have a Carbon Tax! Only make it small!” I’m sure Toldemort will be more popular in the coming years.

    Richard: The internet makes everything way way way worse. Google will display things that only you like. So if you were in the denial camp, all you would eventually see are conspiracy theory web pages and the like. Effectively isolating you from reality.

    It does behoove folks to understand the motivations of other groups.

  130. anoilman says:

    TinyC02: I obviously don’t understand where you’re coming from. Temperatures are moving linearly straight up;

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/4/044022

    Everything is as expected.

  131. matt says:

    Reich,
    “Do you have any suggestions on getting forward when a participant does not want to ‘face facts’ for ideological reasons?”

    Dan Kahans is probably the best place for that question.
    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/

    Try wearing a suit, propose nuclear power as a solution, don’t mention reducing pollution and profess a deep hatred of hippies.
    http://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1271&context=faculty_publications

  132. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Oilman,

    Are you calling me Richard (an easy mistake to make, Henry would be more appropriate)?
    Just that I know it was directed at me or not.

  133. BBD says:

    TinyCO2

    No images in your mind of Al Gore on a podium showing CO2 and temperature going in lock step and then showing CO2 shoot up and giving the audience the impression that temperature would follow ‘in lock step’?

    Last time CO2 spiked above 1000ppm we got the PETM hyperthermal. Since the laws of physics have not changed during the Cenozoic, if CO2 spikes up like that again, we might reasonably expect another hyperthermal.

  134. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Oilman,

    “The internet makes everything way way way worse. Google will display things that only you like. So if you were in the denial camp, all you would eventually see are conspiracy theory web pages and the like. Effectively isolating you from reality.”

    That’s known to me, Google takes into account what you like. For those that are not aware of googles ways of doing things this may mean that they not know that they are directed to sites that are similar to those they have visited before. This can cause bias, I guess.

    I am wondering about the reasoning behind ‘The internet makes everything way way way worse.’ Is there any research behind that that you know of? Much appreciated if you can present some that Internet has made things worse than before the internet existed.

  135. dikranmarsupial says:

    I have to say that I am more alarmed about the idea that sea level rise might cause severe problems for Bangladesh than I am about the idea that we might make the world uninhabitable for humans. The reason for this is that the former is much more easily done than the latter, and while (I would hope) we as a species are not so stupid as to continue business as usual until we caused our own extinction, we are certainly careless enough to let Bangladesh seriously destabilize (because of “discounting”), which would cause problems for us all. Adapting to such an event would be beyond the resources of Bangladesh, and I would rather see some efforts at mitigation now to avoid the cost of adaption burdening us all later, and I suspect most Bangladeshis would view that as being preferable and more just.

  136. verytallguy says:

    BBD,

    hyperthermal, hypercatastrophe, you agree with Tiny too!

    Awesome, you win the Martin McGuinness warmism award!

    Peace and love abounds in the climate debate

  137. TinyCO2 says:

    Reich.Eschhaus says “You don’t have examples yourself? Someone saying saying human civilization will break down at 2°C increase above pre-industrial levels? Why not?”

    But I don’t need evidence, you’re not the one who needs persuading. I really don’t care if you believe it. Move to some remote place with a gun and tinned food, I won’t stop you. I don’t think you will though. I think that the furthest most warmists go is complaining about sceptics. Wow, the planet is saved.

  138. toby52 says:

    verytallguy,

    I protest at the comparison of TinyCO2 to the late Rev Ian Paisley, who did eventually end up forming a working government with those he had once execrated.

    NO fear of TinyCO2 I reckon.

  139. verytallguy says:

    Toby, see upthread, search for Paisley.

    Rev. Tiny, you’re heartwarming. Even though you don’t care about us, still you do care enough to donate your precious time to saving us from ourselves. AMEN!

  140. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Tiny,

    “I truly don’t want to convince you that AGW isn’t real. I want you to examine whether you ARE convinced or are just paying lip service to what you think is the truth. If the latter, what would you need to know (note ‘know’ and not ‘believe’) before you did more?”

    This is dishonest.

    “But I don’t need evidence, you’re not the one who needs persuading. I really don’t care if you believe it. Move to some remote place with a gun and tinned food, I won’t stop you. I don’t think you will though. I think that the furthest most warmists go is complaining about sceptics. Wow, the planet is saved.”

    This also.

  141. anoilman says:

    Reich.Eschhaus: Sorry not Richard… I meant Reich..

    I find it Hilarious that TinyCO2 can not and will not accept that temperatures are going straight up.

  142. entropicman says:

    Politicians think in 5-year electoral cycles. Economists think in 25-year depreciation cycles. Scientists think in centuries.

    It is therefore not surprising that political and economic attitudes to climate change emphasise the short term cost of doing something about it, while discounting the longer term benefits.

    They perceive the scientists as alarmist because the scientists take equal account of all time periods, including those beyond political and economic horizons.

  143. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Oilman,

    I don’t understand that either.

    Got some ideas on ”The internet makes everything way way way worse.’ Is there any research behind that that you know of? Much appreciated’?

  144. BBD says:

    VTG

    hyperthermal, hypercatastrophe, you agree with Tiny too!

    Awesome, you win the Martin McGuinness warmism award!

    Do you disagree that unmitigated emissions could trigger a hyperthermal?

  145. graemeu says:

    ATTP, just a couple of things, I assume by ‘economic consequences’ you are only referring to the short-term consequences, the consequences that will hit the Mum and Dad voters in their bottom line.
    I don’t think you need to be hesitant about saying the current economic model is not the answer. A model that is predicated on infinite growth based on resource extraction for consumption of throw away stuff is not sustainable. You don’t need to be an economist to see that.
    Oh yeah, and seemingly sensible people can be really stupid without being denialists, so what does that make denialists? For example the rebuild of Christchurch, they had the chance to move the city out of the zone that will be flooded in 50 – 100 yrs with 2C global warming. But no, the plan is to rebuild on the same site. Then this week, the NZ Commissioner for the Environment is reported as stating that there has been a mean sea level rise around NZ of 20cm, keeping in mind that NZ is a land mass that is in geological terms rapidly being uplifted (with a few exceptions such as the Marlborough Sounds).
    Of course that is unfair, I doubt that the lead denialists are stupid but it’s hard not to see them as selfish or self-serving but maybe they are just afraid and playing possum.

  146. BBD says:

    ‘Unabated emissions’ would have been a better choice of words.

  147. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Bbd,

    Unmitigated, sure.
    But how much fossil fuel will mankind be able to extract and burn? There is uncertainty there.

  148. TinyCO2 says:

    Reich.Eschhaus, nope I meant every word. I’ve never said what I think the effect of CO2 on temperature would be. What I can see is that most of those who say they are worried do sod all about it other than whine about others. No, sorry, I lied about the planet being saved. If it really is in trouble, a bunch of people who can’t even admit to themselves that Al Gore’s movie made mistakes are never going to mobilise anybody.

    The saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ Is a good one and the way you guys keep shying away from the idea is a good indicator that you know your CO2 cutting actions speak very, very quietly.

  149. BBD says:

    Enough to trigger something like the PETM, apparently – in the order of ~3000Gt carbon.

  150. anoilman says:

    Reich.Eschhaus: Not much more than this;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filter_bubble

  151. matt says:

    TinyCO2,
    “No images in your mind of Al Gore on a podium showing CO2 and temperature going in lock step and then showing CO2 shoot up and giving the audience the impression that temperature would follow ‘in lock step’? … No fanciful images of buildings flooded many storeys up? Nothing about the Himalayas springs to mind?”

    I agree that Gore probably did leave a wrong impression in many viewers minds at that point. Bad Gore. I have seen fanciful images flooded 50 stories high. I even saw “The day after tomorrow”. This is not the work of scientists and I think ppl get that. The Himalayas was a mistake (that was corrected by an IPCC author IIRC). IPCC admitted error, time to move on.

    If you think the science is wrong, argue against the science (like SPM and wg1) rather than Gore, Obama, some graphics guy, the media. That is easy and boring.

  152. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Tiny,

    “nope I meant every word.”

    No, you did not, which you even admit in the same post. Dishonest, just like I said. Come back if you want a honest discussion. I would welcome it!

  153. BBD says:

    TCO2

    What individuals do isn’t known to you, so you are not entitled to indulge in yet more fabrication. One thing we do know is that commenters here do their best to counter misinformation such as yours. What they do not do is tirelessly spout counterfactual tripe all over the internet where the less well informed might be confused and misled by it.

  154. anoilman says:

    Who invited Al Gore into this?

    TinyCO2 I learned about Global Warming from the Canadian and US Navy. Its a common topic among Oceanographers.

    You do know its a joke that people like you talk about him. No one talks about Gore but people like you. No one.

    Yet still you have nothing to say about the fact that Global Warming is continuing non stop;

    So who’s got it wrong now? TinyCO2 that’s who.

  155. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Thanks oilman,

    But I was there before. I am actually looking for research that shows that ‘group-think’ has become more prevalent in the Internet age. Thanks anyways!

  156. verytallguy says:

    BBD,

    I owe you an apology, I was just taking the piss out of Revd Tiny by proxy. It’s not big, it’s not clever, and it doesn’t work on the Internet.

    On the PETM, I don’t think we know enough about that too say why it happened. I certainly don’t think we can say definitively that 1000 ppm would set off a similar event now. So for me it would be conjecture.

    But normally you follow up with a link to a study which proves you right, so I look forward to eating humble pie.

  157. Mal Adapted says:

    TinyCO2:

    But I don’t need evidence, you’re not the one who needs persuading. I really don’t care if you believe it.

    Well, TinyCO2, since you’ve established that you don’t speak for anyone but yourself, we don’t care whether you believe it either. We don’t need to convince everyone that it would be cost-effective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, just a sufficient majority. Easier said than done, to be sure, but your brand of extreme ideologically-based denial isn’t the biggest obstacle. The biggest obstacle is the disinformation campaign being funded by fossil-fuel billionaires to protect their revenues (if any genuine skeptics want documentation, I’ll provide links). Of course, that’s presumably the source of your counterfactual beliefs, so you may be right for the wrong reasons.

  158. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Bbd,

    “Enough to trigger something like the PETM, apparently – in the order of ~3000Gt carbon.”

    When would this occur? How much co2 needs to be released? And in how much trouble would western civilization be before this happens? There is the uncertainty. According to me at least.

  159. BBD says:

    VTG

    Rather than dump lots of links to papers, can I point to a good summary at SkS?

    If you are interested in specifics, let me know.

  160. dikranmarsupial says:

    TinyCO2 wrote “What I can see is that most of those who say they are worried do sod all about it other than whine about others.”

    Actually some of us do do something about it, for instance publishing research papers.

    The reason you are not doing well here is that you are unwilling to state your position (e.g. “’I’ve never said what I think the effect of CO2 on temperature would be”) and nail your colours to the mast, but appear to expect us to do so. This gives the impression that you are not engaging in the discussion in an open and disingenuous manner. Your choice of course, but don’t expect anybody to be impressed by it.

  161. BBD says:

    Reich – take a look at the SkS article – it’s a good backgrounder and less hard work than ploughing through the PETM literature from Kennet & Stott (1991) onwards.

  162. anoilman says:

    I think TinyCO2’s done here… he’s got us all riled up. That’s the game right?

  163. BBD says:

    AOM

    Probably.

  164. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Bbd,

    It still depends on human kind being able to put more and more CO2/greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. To my mind there is definitaly an uncertainty about human kind actually doing that because climate change will stop it before doing so. You may disagree of course.

  165. Rachel M says:

    TinyCO2,

    Commenters here are not required to defend what actions they do or do not take personally to combat climate change. This is a tragedy of the commons and it requires collective action by society as a whole. Any other comments you make along these lines will be deleted.

    Also, referencing a movie made 8 years ago is old and tiresome. No-none is required to defend Al Gore and his film so drop it please.

  166. Rachel,
    Thanks.

    Reich,

    To my mind there is definitaly an uncertainty about human kind actually doing that because climate change will stop it before doing so. You may disagree of course.

    I think I would agree that this is likely. The worrying thing, though, is what has happened to actually convince us to stop continuing to increase our emissions. Ideally we do so before anything really damaging happens, but there is no reason why this will be the case.

  167. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Rachel,

    You are late to the party 🙂

    “Any other comments you make along these lines will be deleted.”

    Sounds too deterministic. As I said above “Someone having the opinion ‘climate change will have bad consequences but I am against any global regulation’ is completely ok with me. You fight it out in politics. Denying the science to hide that this is your actual opinion is not ok with me.” This doesn’t have to be moderation policy. I think people can deal with Tiny quite well as they seem to be doing. 😉

  168. BBD says:

    Rech.Eschhaus

    To my mind there is definitaly an uncertainty about human kind actually doing that because climate change will stop it before doing so. You may disagree of course.

    Ah. I see what you mean. Well, much will depend on how profoundly AGW engages carbon cycle feedbacks in the future. In case anyone thinks I’m being alarmist, I’m simply pointing out that under high emissions scenarios, it is possible that the marine and some terrestrial carbon sinks will shut down and in some cases even become sources, at which point anthropogenic emissions will no longer be the main driver of warming. Obviously this is not a given. It is a possibility.

  169. Rachel M says:

    You are late to the party

    Yeah, I’ve been struggling to keep up with the comments today!

    My remark about comments being deleted was specific to those along the lines of “what are YOU doing personally to fight climate change”. It’s not really relevant to this thread and a bit personal I think. I don’t mind if people want to argue that regulation is a bad thing.

  170. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Bbd,

    I see the fear you have. It is a possibility. I don’t think it is probable. Human kind will be decimated before that happens or will have changed its energy resources before that. Our choice.

  171. verytallguy says:

    BBD,

    Interesting, thanks.

    I hadn’t realised the PETM was so similar to AGW projections in terms of temp rise – I thought it was more extreme.

    Also I had no idea the Eocene was so damn hot!

  172. anoilman says:

    Reich.Eschhaus: “..or will have changed its energy resources before that”

    Actually, dead people use less energy…

  173. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Rachel,

    “My remark about comments being deleted was specific to those along the lines of “what are YOU doing personally to fight climate change”. It’s not really relevant to this thread and a bit personal I think. I don’t mind if people want to argue that regulation is a bad thing.”

    Ah! Ok! Now understand it better. I still plea for ‘only when absolutely necessary’.

  174. Rachel M says:

    I still plea for ‘only when absolutely necessary’.

    Ok, noted 🙂

  175. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    “I think I would agree that this is likely. The worrying thing, though, is what has happened to actually convince us to stop continuing to increase our emissions. Ideally we do so before anything really damaging happens, but there is no reason why this will be the case.”

    Yes, the reason I think bbd’s petm event is unlikely to happen, is because human kind will get a strong warning from nature (and at that point will act) or will not notice until it is too late. When the latter option occurs, it is improbable the remaining humans will be able to realise bbd’s scenario. My opinion.

  176. BBD says:

    VTG

    Also I had no idea the Eocene was so damn hot!

    It was a high CO2 world. As an aside, it’s interesting that the PETM occurred from a high baseline temperature. This suggests strongly that all this stuff about more (low, marine) cloud in a warmer, moister troposphere acting as a negative feedback is wrong. It didn’t happen then so it won’t happen now.

  177. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    “Actually, dead people use less energy…”

    Dead people release CO2 🙂

  178. BBD says:

    Rachel

    My remark about comments being deleted was specific to those along the lines of “what are YOU doing personally to fight climate change”

    And I agree with you entirely. Such attempts to delegitimise commenters by implying that they personally are not ‘doing enough’ according to some vague criteria set by the accuser is nothing more a low rhetorical trick.

  179. pbjamm says:

    Eventually Climate Change will become too obvious to ignore but even then there will be people who insist that it is all a natural cycle. As long as they can claim that it is not the fault of human actions all attempts to mitigate can be put off as being expensive, ineffective and pointless.
    I realize I sound very pessimistic but that is only because I am.

  180. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    “I still plea for ‘only when absolutely necessary’.

    Ok, noted :)”

    Thanks! I don’t see ‘dissenting views’ in this thread making any real difference. Several commenters are dealing with them and are quite effective at that.

  181. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Pbjamm,

    “Eventually Climate Change will become too obvious to ignore but even then there will be people who insist that it is all a natural cycle. As long as they can claim that it is not the fault of human actions all attempts to mitigate can be put off as being expensive, ineffective and pointless.”

    This sounds familiar. Nothing happens until something serious happens. You could be right in your assessment, let’s hope not!

  182. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Apparently nobody knows how to deal with disinformers who believe their own misguided opinion because it suits their pre-defined ideology

  183. KR says:

    TinyCO2 – “But I don’t need evidence” And therein lies the rub. You aren’t arguing from evidence, but from your opinion.

    To which I’ll just point out that reality is a _very_ harsh critic of unsupported opinions.

  184. Sheesh, how do you get 183 comments here in half a day? You must have struck a nerve ATTP 🙂

    I think it’s important to note that contrarian economic concerns are really based in ideological and cultural beliefs. There’s no reason to believe that climate mitigation must necessarily have a big economic impact. There have been studies showing that a revenue neutral carbon tax would be modestly beneficial for the economy, for example. And if you consider the full body of climate economics research, it’s pretty darn clear that doing nothing is more expensive than mitigation.

    When I’ve written about a revenue neutral carbon tax, the only objection I’ve got is that no government policy will remain revenue neutral or ‘small government’ for long. It’s not an objection to that policy, it’s an objection to any policy. That drills down to the core of climate denial. It’s a fundamental opposition to any government policy, and we can’t accomplish significant mitigation without some sort of government policy. Hence they slip into denial that the problem exists, or that the solutions could be cost-effective, because they just can’t accept any sort of government-led solution, even if it involves minimal government influence.

    That’s also why denial is more prevalent among Tea Partiers than moderate Republicans, as John Mashey noted upthread. The further you get towards anti-government ideology, the more likely this denial will kick in.

    My point is that while it’s true that contrarians are often afraid that climate mitigation will be expensive, that fear isn’t evidence-based, it’s ideology-based. Fear of physical climate consequences is very much evidence-based. The good news is that those with the Tea Party style extreme ideological bias are a pretty small percentage of the population. The bad news is that they have a disproportionate amount of influence over our policy.

  185. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Dana, you are jealous!

  186. Meow says:

    Mitigation, whilst desirable in principle may be unachievable in practice, given the huge difficulty of achieving global agreement and beyond that implementation of CO2 emissions reductions.

    So there is an ethical case for, if not complete laissez-faire, at least prioritising adaptation over mitigation on pragmatic grounds.

    There is certainly no ethical case for laissez-faire economics, in the area of climate or otherwise. It has repeatedly been shown to fail the majority of the people.

    Neither, I would argue, is there a good ethical case for prioritizing adaptation over mitigation. We have still the ability greatly to reduce AGW’s impact. What we lack — so far — is the will to do so. Prioritizing (future) adaptation provides a rhetorical easy-out, and thus undermines the push for useful mitigation. Also, it implicitly assumes that we will retain a substantial capacity for adaptation as AGW’s impacts increase. I think this assumption lacks good support.

    The question I have to ask, then, is: why is it so difficult to adapt to somewhat higher energy prices now, and so easy to adapt to extended drought, increased storm damage, widespread coastal retreat, less-productive oceans, etc., sometime in the future?

    Hyperbolic discounting, anyone?

  187. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    “The question I have to ask, then, is: why is it so difficult to adapt to somewhat higher energy prices now, and so easy to adapt to extended drought, increased storm damage, widespread coastal retreat, less-productive oceans, etc., sometime in the future?-”

    Why? Anybody’s guess…Try!

  188. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Meow

    “The question I have to ask, then, is: why is it so difficult to adapt to somewhat higher energy prices now, and so easy to adapt to extended drought, increased storm damage, widespread coastal retreat, less-productive oceans, etc., sometime in the future?,

    It is not. There is ideological opposition to change.

  189. izen says:

    @- “We have still the ability greatly to reduce AGW’s impact. What we lack — so far — is the will to do so.”

    I think we also lack the ability.
    In the form of governance over the sources and system that generates the emissions. In expecting collective action just because it is a scientifically collective problem we ignores the lack of any collective policy and control over the sources and the drivers of CO2 emissions. And there is a powerful political ideology that opposes any attempt to establish such control and policy.
    Expressed succinctly by Dana –

    “That drills down to the core of climate denial. It’s a fundamental opposition to any government policy, and we can’t accomplish significant mitigation without some sort of government policy.”

    But while the neo-libertarians and tea-baggers may be the most extreme proponents of this dogma, the idea that governments and politics is a corrupt power monopoly is a widespread trope.
    Not without some justification.

    This distrust of collective control is projected onto the science that appears to legitimise it, – in part by industry funded disinformation, a tactic seen in previous conflicts over collective regulation and freedoms (CFCs tobacco lead).
    Although the same industries devote rather more time and money in ensuring regulatory capture of the very government apparatus they are also disparaging.

  190. anoilman says:

    I actually revel in the “Not Doing Enough” meme. I’m not actually environmentally friendly, I wouldn’t recycle if my wife didn’t put out the bins for me. 🙂 I really do work in oil and gas.

    The “Not Doing Enough” meme breaks you down to some belief that only a mythical perfect person could perform to. Its as though you cannot exist in this society in order to have the right comment on the state of it.

    Seriously… I’m pretty sure that during the US Civil War, Northerner’s wore cotton. I’m equally sure that they partook of said cotton as long as they could. Once the civil war was over.. I’m sure they complained bitterly about the rising price of cotton.

    One does not need to be perfect to try to achieve better.

  191. A big part of the problem in the USA is the Tea Party. Normal Republicans have about the same opinion when it comes to climate changes as independents and Democrats.

    It would help a lot when Democrat and Independents would vote in the primaries of the Republican party. Especially in states where it is known in advance, due to the district system, that the Republicans will win and the Democrats would otherwise be basically robed of their right to vote in the undemocratic two-party. (Republican feel free to do the same in the reverse situation.)

    Fixing the political system of the USA is an important precursor to solving the mitigation sceptic problem. That would also be important for reducing the influence of lobby’s. If a lobby can convince party 1, that it will also “convince” party 2, party 1 can take the offer of the lobby without any risk, because the voter has no choice. The same goes for party 2. A two-party system in a very unequal society is not much different from a one-party system.

  192. Joshua says:

    ==> “Fixing the political system of the USA is an important precursor to solving the mitigation sceptic problem. ”

    I strongly recommend you don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen!

  193. John Mashey says:

    VV: In California the primaries are open to everybody and the top 2 vote getters go forward.
    This last round we have several R-vs-R and D-vs-D races.
    And I assume you’ve read the detailed history about the creation of the Tea Party, above.

  194. Dana,

    Sheesh, how do you get 183 comments here in half a day? You must have struck a nerve ATTP

    Yes, it does seem so. I do think that many over-simplify the topic. Much of it is not about science but, as you say, about politics and ideology. As others have already pointed out, this would be easier to take if some didn’t appear to have to dismiss the scientific evidence to as to make their ideological/political view seem more credible. Of course, I guess people do have the right to decide the evidence isn’t strong enough – in their view at least – but it might be good to at least acknowledge that it does exist, even if they don’t trust it.

  195. andrew adams says:

    I’ve certainly seen newspaper articles which have overstated particular risks associated with climate change, or failed to include necessary caveats or uncertainties – newspapers do like “scare” stories on a variety of subjects. I’ve also obviously seen many stories which overplay things like the “pause” or give undue weight to the opinions of those who claim climate change is not a problem, or only a very minor one. So it’s not surprising that some members of the public are a bit confused and are unsure of the extent to which AGW is a risk or think there is more divergence of expert opinion on the subject than is actually the case. I’m not sure what the answer is to this – I don’t think it’s realistic to expect many members of the public to read the IPCC reports, even less so to expect better journalism (I could certainly speculate what can be done but don’t have time now).

    What I really don’t get though is how skeptics bemoan the fact that he public is not getting a realistic impression of the mainstream scientific position from the press, but then even though they are themselves supposedly well informed enough to understand what scientists are really saying they won’t accept it, or think they actually know better. Sorting media hype from the actual science is perfectly laudable, dismissing both is somewhat less so.

  196. Andrew,
    You hit on an irony that I was thinking of myself. We have many skeptics who are non-experts but think they know more than the actual experts. Now maybe it’s commendable that intelligent lay-people have the confidence to think for themselves. However, the very same people will be up-in-arms when a media report doesn’t properly describe the evidence. But, if we live in a society where intelligent lay-people know more than experts and can see through hype and scare-mongering, then surely it’s not a problem? Of course, I’m not suggesting that it’s good that the media over-plays things, but their goal is to sell stories, so it will always happen to a certain extent. However, either the public is intelligent enough to recognise this and make up it’s own mind, or it’s not and people should maybe listen more to the experts. Of course, in reality it should be some combination of the two. Expert opinion has a role to play in that not everyone can be expected to understand the complexities of a complex topic like climate science. However, it is also clearly a societal problem and so the views of society in general are crucial when it comes to deciding what we should do.

  197. An essential factor that confuses people, and that contributes to the observed positive correlation between science literacy and skepticism (I don’t know, how generally this correlation is valid and make no claims on that) is that the evidence on AGW is not direct. It does not help that scientists have concluded that the uncertainty in climate sensitivity remains large. A person with fair scientific literacy may conclude that, if she cannot judge evidence for serious warming as strong, then it’s not.

    Technically oriented skeptical climate blogs can correctly point out to weaknesses in many scientific papers and conclusions. Their hosts may even tell that such findings are not very significant for the rest of climate science (as Steve McIntyre has done). The influence of such blogs is anyway significant for a subset of scientifically literate people. These same people start to build conspiratorial thoughts, when they see badly formulated defenses from some scientists.

    The history of earlier environmental scares adds to this mechanism.

    In a democratic system the message of correct scientific understanding must get accepted by people, whatever the reason of their present skepticism is. What happens initially may be, in part, random. I think that the large difference between European and American situation is, indeed, due partly to some unpredictable factors, and only in part the the more general differences in political landscape.

    When the opinions have got as strong as they are now, changing them is difficult. How to overcome these difficulties seems to be an area, where views really differ among people contributing to this site. Some keep to aggressive tactics, others find it potentially counterproductive. (Most have probably observed, that my thinking is closer to the latter alternative.)

    In democracy the important balance is in political power, not in a restricted circle of people engaged in web discussion, or even among scientists.

  198. Pekka,

    In democracy the important balance is in political power, not in a restricted circle of people engaged in web discussion, or even among scientists.

    Well, yes, exactly. I think that’s why I find it odd that some complain that they’re being left out. No they’re not. It’s a democracy, you can really do almost anything you want, but that doesn’t mean that everyone you want to talk with is obliged to talk with you. You’re not, however, prevented from trying to influence policy. We’re all allowed to do that.

  199. verytallguy says:

    Pekka,

    When the opinions have got as strong as they are now, changing them is difficult.

    Don’t worry Pekka, that’s only true of the blogospherre. Remember that most “skeptics” you come across here are in fact obsessives who are absolutely not representative of wider populations, whose views will be *far* less fixed (in either direction) and *far* more amenable to change.

    Look at how views on the acceptability of smoking in public have changed over tha past 30 years.

  200. BBD says:

    VTG

    Agreed – but remember, it took government legislation to change public behaviour and the public perception of smoking.

  201. matt says:

    Pekka,

    “An essential factor that confuses people, and that contributes to the observed positive correlation between science literacy and skepticism”

    I am pretty sure it is only the case that intelligence/knowledge measures correlate positively with skepticism among those whose identity is threatened (I am sure Dan Kahan might more appropriate words).

    In the case of climate change in the US, non-belief in ACC increases with knowledge/science literacy only for conservative/republicans or individualist/hierarchist. It is the opposite with liberals/democrats.

    In the case of evolution in the US, non-belief increases with science literacy for those who are religious. It is the opposite for atheists.

    ” that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public’s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare.”
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n10/full/nclimate1547.html

    Fascinating stuff.

  202. matt says:

    *”It is the opposite with liberals/democrats” or egalitarian/communitarian.

  203. “An essential factor that confuses people, and that contributes to the observed positive correlation between science literacy and skepticism”

    This is a theory-free correlation. It could mean anything. Maybe these people with more science literacy are MDs, they seem to be ultra conservative, maybe more so than the other questions on how conservative people are have picked up. People with more education typically are richer and have more to benefit from redistribution from the poor to the rich and are more against redistribution from the rich to the poor. Given that climate change especially hurts the poor (according to the liberals), mitigating climate change would amount to redistribution from the rich to the poor. Something a good social Darwinist would not like.

    John Mashey, do you have the impression that the unhealthy partisanship is less in California and that thus having everyone participate in primaries may help a little?

    Joshua, I know, that is why I suggested something that can be implemented now, without any changes of laws. It is still important and climate change is not the only problem that suffers from the dysfunctional political system in the US.

  204. victorpetri says:

    @VV
    “Given that climate change especially hurts the poor (according to the liberals), mitigating climate change would amount to redistribution from the rich to the poor. Something a good social Darwinist would not like.”

    If you do not assume your opponent to be morally equal, e.g. as a person that beliefs his solutions are optimal for mankind, and instead think of him to be being narrowly egoistic, you are bound to discard his view directly. As a person that beliefs we should not mitigate climate change at great cost to the economy (which is also Lomborgs position), I assure it is for the benefit of especially the poor, that I hold this position. It is clear that the poor stand to lose the most due to global warming, richer societies and people will be able to adapt. Two solutions then come to mind, to eliminate global warming or to eliminate poverty. I think the latter is the more pragmatic, achievable goal, and thus I would choose for growing the economy as fast as possible (allowing cheap mitigating policies if they are economically favorable).

  205. victorpetri,

    It is clear that the poor stand to lose the most due to global warming, richer societies and people will be able to adapt. Two solutions then come to mind, to eliminate global warming or to eliminate poverty.

    Maybe consider the discussion above about the wet bulb temperature. In the more extreme emissions scenarios there is a non-negligible chance that significant regions of the planet become uninhabitable. I’m not sure how one adapts to that (well, air-conditioning, maybe but I can’t see that making parts of the planet uninhabitable is the optimal solution).

  206. verytallguy says:

    victorpetri,

    Lomborgs position is controlversial vis a vis the strength of the facts it’s based on.

    It is also notable in that the trajectory for emissions implied by those who choose the “jam today” option means that future warming *beyond* the end of the period they choose to analyse is guaranteed to have very negative consequences.

    See for instance
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/copenhagen-consensus-center-climate-change-costly.html

  207. victorpetri, if you read carefully you will see that I never claimed that all mitigation sceptics are social Darwinists. (Most social Darwinists will think their world view is to the long-term benefit of mankind.) I know some very nice people who are mitigation sceptics. I would not expect that this mechanism is important to explain their behaviour (although you cannot look into other people’s head and even understanding yourself is already hard). Everyone has some of this, it is not a black and white matter, people are willing to pay more to help their family as someone outside of it, most people give more to help people in their own country as abroad, and so on. It is a part of human behaviour people do not like to look at.

    I am only trying to make liberals think out of the box and not to assume that everyone has the same values as they have and only miss some information or are in denial about that information or are bought by Big Oil. When Republican voters learned that climate change hurts French farmers, they were less willing to do something about it.

    If I succeed, I hope that people will start communicating that more meteorological disasters in poor countries will increase their birth rates and leads to mass migration to the rich countries. I hope that people will start communicating the damages due to climate change and the costs of adaptation in absolute terms, which would probably make it clear that the rich countries have most to loose.

  208. BBD says:

    victorpetri

    Two solutions then come to mind, to eliminate global warming or to eliminate poverty. I think the latter is the more pragmatic, achievable goal, and thus I would choose for growing the economy as fast as possible (allowing cheap mitigating policies if they are economically favorable).

    So you would advocate for an aggressive, sustained program of technology transfer and investment by developed economies into developing economies, plus terms of trade explicitly favouring the latter at the expense of the former? Envisage this going on for about half a century or so.

    This, after all, is what eradicating poverty will require. Therefore this is your plan. Good luck getting that past the libertarians.

  209. Joshua says:

    matt – good comment at 11:30 am

    I will add that the finding of an association between “skepticism” and scientific literacy was a small one. The more significant association was between scientific literacy and polarization. The implications of that more significant finding are interesting, IMO.

  210. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    The relative high probability of a highly destructive GW is worrisome, to be sure.
    @VV
    The best way to avoid mass migration is economic growth of developing countries.
    @BDD
    Poverty is being eradicated as we speak and no unpractical measures as you suggest seem necessary in order to do so. Half a century would be plenty of time, considering the progress we made in the last 50 years. And poor countries, it has been researched, stand to gain the most by lowering the trade barriers between themselves.

  211. Sounds great. I hope you did not want to suggest I am against that.

    What would be your proposal for eliminating global poverty? What is your proposal to get developing countries out of the poverty trap and to get the American poor on a decent living standard?

  212. victorpetri says:

    @VV
    Status quo, baby!

  213. BBD says:

    Poverty is being eradicated as we speak and no unpractical measures as you suggest seem necessary in order to do so.

    Rubbish.

  214. BBD says:

    And poor countries, it has been researched, stand to gain the most by lowering the trade barriers between themselves.

    Poor countries are kept that way by trade barriers imposed on them by developed ones. Another reason they remain impoverished is because the offshore banking system (created by the City of London) allows businesses to avoid paying tax on revenues earned in developing economies. This keeps them nicely impoverished and easy to exploit.

  215. Willard says:

    Bjorn, in recent news:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2014/11/now-where-has-eli-heard-this-before.html

    I could add to the list I started at Eli’s, if need be.

  216. victorpetri says:

    @BBD
    Where did you get that information?

    Poverty have fallen tremendously in the last 50 years:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Development_Goals#mediaviewer/File:Extreme_poverty_1981-2008.svg

    It is projected that extreme poverty will be practically eradicated in the coming decades:

    From 2003 to 2013 it were developing countries where the biggest share of global growth was
    https://www.gfmag.com/global-data/economic-data/countries-highest-gdp-growth

    In fact, the top 80 fastest economic growers are practically all developing countries.
    And Africa is the fastest growing continent of the world:
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/01/daily_chart

    If the western elite is trying to keep other people poor (why in earth would they try and do that, by the way, there is not much to earn from poor people, or are they just plain evil?), they are doing a poor job.

  217. victorpetri says:

    It is projected that extreme poverty will be practically eradicated in the coming decades:

  218. BBD says:

    VP

    First, it is necessary to obfuscate between ‘poverty’ and ‘extreme poverty’ to make claims such as these. Second, the MDGs are *predicated* on substantial and ongoing investment by developed economies. They are not self-propelling. You just rejected this, remember? You called it ‘unpractical measures’.

    The claims about African growth are verging on laughable. Sure, you can show ‘growth’ if the baseline is zero and the driver of growth is massive investment, primarily by China.

  219. BBD says:

    If the western elite is trying to keep other people poor (why in earth would they try and do that, by the way, there is not much to earn from poor people, or are they just plain evil?)

    You clearly don’t understand anything at all about economics. Let me explain: paying the supplier peanuts for peanuts then selling them to the consumers in the developed world for a markup of several hundred per cent makes you rich.

  220. victorpetri says: “Status quo, baby!”

    You mean: doing nothing is the best way to eliminate poverty world wide?

  221. BBD says:

    Peanuts or gold, diamonds, copper, uranium etc. The next trick is to offshore the revenue so that no tax can be levied in the country of resource origin. That’s why the infrastructure remains essentially medieval and the people are grindingly poor and stay that way, despite the billions of dollars’ worth of commodities extracted from their countries every decade. Many African countries should be rolling in money. Not a single one is. This is the real world. Say hello.

  222. BBD says:

    Oops. Forgot to mention oil. Consider Nigeria, for a moment, if you can extract your head from your cornutopia.

  223. victorpetri says:

    @BDD
    Sorry you feel it is laughable.
    To me it is one of the most important positive improvements that Africa is the fastest economically growing continent, and sub Saharan Africa the fastest region, and 6 out of the 10 fastest growing economies are there.
    Not only simply GDP measures are increasing, living standards have risen enormously as well.
    I mean, what more do you want, that they are at our economic level instantaneously? They are growing faster than ever before and the gap is closing, faster than ever before.

    Capitalism, free trade, globalism and foreign investment fueled economic growth, and these will continue to eradicate poverty. And indeed, it would not be necessary to push for unpractical ideas, such as giving away technology (although I am against copy right) or governments making ill advised investments over there.

  224. BBD says:

    Why is Nigeria impoverished?

  225. BBD says:

    61% of Nigerians now live in poverty (2012).

    The National Bureau of Statistics said 60.9% of Nigerians in 2010 were living in “absolute poverty” – this figure had risen from 54.7% in 2004.

    The bureau predicted this rising trend was likely to continue.

    Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer but the sector has been tainted by accusations of corruption.

    According to the report, absolute poverty is measured by the number of people who can afford only the bare essentials of shelter, food and clothing.

  226. Willard says:

    I’m glad it won’t be necessary for governments to make ill advised investments, victorpetri. What if it was indeed.

    I get the feeling you’re trying to associate capitalism, free trade, globalization, and foreign investment with your laissez-faire position. I don’t think it’s warranted.

  227. BBD says:

    Poverty ‘eradicated’ by 2030? Doesn’t look good:

    Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

    If current trends continue, the Millennium Development Goals target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children, largely because of slow progress in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

  228. victorpetri says:

    @BDD
    What the heck have I been telling you, commodities are the reason Africa is booming. That is because the most money is made in Africa itself, much more than what is made by foreign companies. So much, that even their corrupt and incompetent governments fail to squander it all, and some comes to the people.
    Take Nigeria’s oil, the Nigerian government takes the lion share of money earned, 50 billion a year.
    In another example, for every oil dollar in Iraq, 8 cents go to the operator, 92 cents go to the government.

    Your vision on how the world works, is just as laughably incorrect as that a GW deniers.

  229. BBD says:

    That is because the most money is made in Africa itself, much more than what is made by foreign companies.

    That is utterly false. You don’t have the first idea what you are talking about. Go away and research the facts.

    Take Nigeria’s oil, the Nigerian government takes the lion share of money earned, 50 billion a year.

    So why is Nigeria impoverished? Along with all the rest of ssAfrica? Why is that?

    Answer the question.

  230. victorpetri, if all we have to do to eliminate poverty in the world is doing nothing, then there should be no reason to think that building a renewable energy system in the industrialised world will substitute any attention away from eliminating poverty.

    Willard, could you please use victorpetri’s full name?

    [I did. Look again 😉 -W]

  231. victorpetri says:

    @BBD
    The main problem are with an extremely corrupt government, as I said.

    Really, to think the elite is trying to keep countries poor, is crazy conspiracy talk, countries that become richer, do not become rich at the cost of others, that is not how economies work. Richer countries become enormous opportunities, China and South East Asia are economically much more interesting than Africa. Oil is much more easily bought from rich Middle Eastern countries, than Nigeria, where operations are plagued by corruption and sabotage, cost of business is very high due to high risks, such as abduction and personnel unwilling to work there, absolutely not a nice place to do business. Shell and other operators would much rather have it developed to do their business.

  232. victorpetri says:

    Importantly, one of the most important conditions to eradicate hunger, would be cheap fossil fuels.

  233. BBD says:

    This is the real world, about which victorpetri clearly has no inkling:

    Although public opinion perceives that localised corruption in developing countries is the key cause of global poverty, sixty tax havens and the banking sectors of London and New York have much more to account for. While the World Bank estimates that corruption by government officials costs developing countries a significant US$30 billion a year – this is only 3% of the US$900 billion of public funds lost through tax evasion schemes and other illicit practices by multinational companies.

    The primary way which money flows out of these countries is through transfer mis-pricing. In its simplest form this entails three steps. Firstly, a corporation working in a developing country sets up a subsidiary in a tax haven. Secondly, they sell their product at an artificially low price to this subsidiary – enabling them to declare minimal profits and consequently pay very little tax to the government of the developing country. Thirdly, their subsidiary in the tax haven sells the product at the market price – for comparatively huge profits coupled with a low tax rate (or none at all). In other words, corporations are manipulating prices to pay minimal taxes. This practice is estimated to account for 60% of capital flight from Africa.

    There’s more to it than that, but you get the general idea.

    Anyone who thinks globalisation is a benign uplift for African countries simply doesn’t understand how global capitalism exploits African resources.

    Anyone who writes this is utterly clueless:

    That is because the most money is made in Africa itself, much more than what is made by foreign companies.

  234. victorpetri says:

    So the reason Africa is the fastest growing continent in the world is???

  235. BBD says:

    The main problem are with an extremely corrupt government, as I said.

    No, the main problem is offshore and multinational tax avoidance, *then* the connivance of local corrupt kleptocracies.

    Seriously victorpetri, you know nothing and I *really* don’t like to see other people’s misery used as a cheap debating point by free market fundamentalists who don’t even know how their “free markets” actually work in the real world.

  236. BBD says:

    VP

    So the reason Nigeria and most of the rest of SS Africa are impoverished IS??

  237. victorpetri says: “Importantly, one of the most important conditions to eradicate hunger, would be cheap fossil fuels.”

    Building up a system of renewable energy in the industrialised countries will decrease global demand for fossil fuels and thus reduce world market prices. Prices are a matter of supply and demand, right? Thus according to you one way to eradicate hunger would be to modernize our energy system.

  238. BBD says:

    The myth of African “development”: Not all that glitters is gold

    In January 2013, Rick Rowden wrote a seminal article on the “The Myth of Africa Rising” in Foreign Policy online criticizing the “popular narrative” in such magazines as Time and The Economist “that the continent may well be on track to become the next global economic powerhouse.” Rowden asserts that the popular narratives of African “development” are “wrong” and challenge the “problematic way national economic development has come to be understood in the age of globalization.”

    Rowden argues the measures used to quantify Africa’s development are misleading and offer “only a partial picture of how well development is going”. He dismisses the prevailing measures of African development – recent high GDP growth rates, rising per capita incomes, growth of mobile phones and mobile phone banking, tourism, retail, the number of African billionaires and the increase in Africa’s trade with the rest of the world – as inadequate and certainly incongruent with the way development “has been understood over the last few centuries.” He suggests that “from late 15th century England all the way up to the East Asian Tigers of recent renown, development has generally been taken as a synonym for industrialization.” “Dead-end activities” in Africa such as “primary agriculture and extractive activities such as mining, logging, and fisheries” without manufacturing” simply cannot be deemed “development”.

    Those interested in the facts can find the rest here.

  239. Willard says:

    > the reason Africa is the fastest growing continent in the world is???

    The same reason why the turtle has a faster middle run than Achilles.

    Getting something tangible after having almost nothing can lead to infinite growth, I believe.

  240. Willard says:

    >one of the most important conditions to eradicate hunger, would be cheap fossil fuels.

    How about making it free, then?

  241. victorpetri says:

    That’s not even an economist, but a lawyer, are you an economics denier?

  242. victorpetri says:

    @vv that will prob damage our economies and slow our growth, and thus slow theirs as well.

  243. BBD says:

    Rick Rowden wrote the article referenced by Al Mariam. Rick Rowden is an economist.

    Your evasion is contemptible.

  244. vp,

    that will prob damage our economies and slow our growth, and thus slow theirs as well.

    This just seems to be the classic argument. We need to provide cheap energy for the developing world so as to eradicate poverty….we have to keep using the same cheap energy in the developed world because if we didn’t it would also harm the developing world. Really? There’s no possibility that we in the developed world could drive technology development and shift to alternatives first, while allowing the developing to world to catchup using cheaper energy sources? I’m guessing your answer is no?

  245. jsam says:

    Ej? The reason Africa is growing is subsidised fossil fuels? Who knew?

  246. izen says:

    @-victorpetri
    “So the reason Africa is the fastest growing continent in the world is???”

    Unless there has been some tectonic change I do not think that the African continent is growing, faster or at all.

    So you must have meant this metaphorically, that some feature other than area is growing faster than anywhere else. Given the context perhaps you are claiming that some measure of collective wealth, or the opposite of poverty, is the ‘thing’ on the African continent that is growing faster than anywhere else in the world.

    Measurement of such social value parameters makes the measurement of ocean heat content look like something simple and easy.
    Health and education rarely correlate strongly with monetary wealth/poverty in developing regions, but it is a key factor in any meaningful measure of poverty.

    Others have pointed out the economic system that diverts recompense from regions with resources into the global financial system. Part of the bussiness machine that will require central control if CO2 emissions are to be constrained.
    At least the rich nations no longer regard the people in Africa as marketable commodities.

  247. Given the enormous benefit you claim to see from the use of fossil fuels, surely the minimal reduction in economic growth in the rich countries, would be much less important? That at least seems to be a steep argument that needs some proof. Also all sorts of other commodities would become cheaper due to reductions in demand.

    The IPCC estimates a reduction in growth of 0.06% points. With less taxes on labour and thus less unemployment (supply and demand) and less benefits, I would not even be surprised if it would stimulate growth. Not sure if your economic model are good enough to estimate the sign of such a minimal change.

    Or could it be that your claim that fossil fuels are so important is an overstatement? (Not that I would limit their use in poor countries in any way.) One of both, I would say.

  248. Willard says:

    Izen,

    Some might even [argue] that Africa shrank a bit since 1949:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1949_Armistice_Agreements

  249. Joseph says:

    I agree with Pbjamm that the media does not always get the science right or exaggerates But I think the MSM in most cases does get it about right. Also, I believe even in the absence of any exaggeration on the part of the media, the case for taking meaningful action now on mitigating CO2 emissions is still very strong. Skeptics like Tiny are merely upset that the public may want to take “any” action because of media.

  250. David Blake says:

    [Mod : Sorry, not interested in discussing that post or its views.]

  251. Ian Forrester says:

    victorpetri sid:

    Importantly, one of the most important conditions to eradicate hunger, would be cheap fossil fuels.

    That is completely wrong. The only way to eradicate hunger in Africa (and other countries such as those in S America) is to give the land back to the indigenous people who farmed it for their own benefit before the best of it was taken over by European colonizing empires. These same people are now facing further stealing of their land by multinational corporations. None of the produce from these lands will be used for feeding the locals, it will all be sold on the world marker to the highest bidder.

    The UK government is contributing 600 million pounds to this scheme.

    http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2343978/uk_aid_is_financing_a_corporate_scramble_for_africa.html

    http://www.wdm.org.uk/food-and-hunger/uk-backed-scheme-african-agriculture-slammed-ngos

  252. Willard says:

    Hmmm, seems that the concept of Africa is complex:

    > Less than 2% of Egyptian population live in the Sinai, and hence Egypt even though technically transcontinental is usually considered an African country. But when discussing the geopolitical region of the Middle East and North Africa, Egypt is usually grouped with the Asian countries as part of the Middle East, while Egypt’s western neighbor Libya is grouped with the remaining North African countries as the Maghreb.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundaries_between_continents#Africa_and_Asia

    The biggest expansion in Africa dates back to the 15th century:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploration_of_Africa

    Before that, Africa was the Maghreb, and excluded Egypt.

    So we could say that the wind industry is responsible for the biggest growth of Africa.

  253. Vinny Burgoo says:

    The chives in my local supermarket come from Ethiopia. Surprised by this, I looked up the supplier on the Web and was even more surprised to find that It grows them indoors in large modern greenhouses, presumably to control the humidity and keep pests out. I confess to having assumed that female peasants had grown them in small batches under a merciless sun while their husbands sat in the shade drinking maize beer. The chives taste just as good now that I know the truth. £1.39 for a foot-long handful.

    A few years ago I looked at where mange-tout and sugar-snap peas come from and found that many of those sold in the major British supermarkets were grown by Zambian convicts.

    Not making a point. Just an info dump. As you were.

  254. How many of you, who know one way of the other what has taken place in Arfica has spent any substantive time in Africa or spent otherwise sizable resources to get an objective picture of what it takes to improve the economic and social conditions of SS Africa?

    My expertize of that is very limited, but not exactly zero. I think that many of the views presented above require a level of knowledge very close to zero.

    It’s easy to find books that support almost as one-sided thinking, but there are also books that make it clear, how complex the issues are, how many different obstacles make development difficult, and how many different approaches have been tried, and never fully successfully.

    Very positive development has been observed recently in some parts of Africa, while the situation has only worsened in some others.

  255. Pekka,

    Very positive development has been observed recently in some parts of Africa, while the situation has only worsened in some others.

    Yes, I suspect that is probably true. In a sense, referring to Africa as if it is a single entity does ignore that it’s probably a much more complex and diverse continent than any other. I typically find argument about what the “poor” need, or what the “developing world” needs somewhat frustrating. Why don’t we allow them to decide what’s best from themselves, rather than us pretending that we know what’s best? Of course, I’m not suggesting we don’t help where we can and give advice where appropriate, but suggesting that the developed world knows what’s best for those in the developing world just comes across as somewhat patronising.

  256. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Just done a bit more googling and the chives are grown in temperature-controlled greenhouses: fans plus, presumably, some sort of refrigeration. Power cuts a big problem. Some sources say the company (Joytech/Joytech Fresh/Joy Tech) is wholly Ethiopian, some say it’s a joint venture with an Israeli company, and some say it’s wholly foreign-owned. These might be the greenhouses:

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Bishoftu,+Ethiopia/@8.7714802,38.9232042,1088m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x164b72d3c27674db:0x9d2f48c1182510c6

    Or not. There are a lot of greenhouses around that town. It’d probably be possible to use Joytech’s promotional photos and Google Maps to work out which ones were the birthplace of the chives sitting in my fridge but that’s probably enough pointless nerdery for now.

  257. ATTP,

    We must remember that even in best of the cases the democracy of poor African countries is weak and the capacity of the administration lacking. The economies are also fragile, cost of commercial credit typically very high, etc. Corruption is common, in some countries very bad, in others just bad. The leaders of these countries have also lacking knowledge of what the need.

    At times development aid has been given to tightly defined purposes. That may help in reducing corruption related to the aid, but then the countries cannot use the resources in a way they consider most useful. In that case the capabilities of their administration have also a limited opportunity to learn. At other times direct budget support has been preferred. Funds are basically given to the government to use where they think the needs are most urgent. This avoids the above mentioned problems, but may increase corruption. Lacking competence of the government may also lead to waste of the resources made available.

    Trying to jump from the societies of SS Africa of a couple of decades ago to something similar to the developed countries does not succeed in one step. It takes time for many reasons, but in the present world there are also factors that make slow development difficult. In some cases the total number of local people with a university degree was something like 10 at the time of getting independence in a country of perhaps 10 million people. Even such a country wanted to avoid dependence on foreign experts as far as possible. The lack of well educated workforce hasn’t disappeared in several decades, although it’s certainly not as extreme any more.

  258. Pekka,

    Trying to jump from the societies of SS Africa of a couple of decades ago to something similar to the developed countries does not succeed in one step.

    Agreed, and I wasn’t suggesting otherwise. I was really simply suggesting that we should be careful of imposing our own sense of what’s best for the developing world. That may not be what is actually best for the developing world. That doesn’t – though – mean leaving the developing world alone to make it on their own.

  259. austrartsua says:

    ATTP says:

    “That, however, is not true for our economy..We have choices. Do we travel mostly by public transport, or private? Do we eat less meat? Do we mostly live in apartments or houses? Do we mostly holiday locally or travel to exotic distant destinations?”

    So you are saying the choice is: do we live better lives or worse lives? Should we make a collective sacrifice and restrict freedom – the freedom to eat as much meat as we want, to travel around the globe, to live where we want? This is not a choice – this is the restriction of choice. This is the imposition of a simpler choice which fits the aesthetic tastes of modern greens, who would like to wind the clock back to a simpler, un-industrialized time.

    Basically, other than the above quote, your article is spot on the money. The real question skeptics like me ask is: “how much is this gonna cost”? “What do you plan on replaceing fossil fuels with”?

    For me, civilization is non-negotiable. Cheap energy is a deal breaker. Unless you can come up with a source of energy which is basically as cheap as coal/fossil fuels than we should take our chances and keep using them. Yes there are risks involved in continuing to use them. But there are huge benefits – cheap energy powers literally everything in our comfortable modern lives. Cheap energy is a prerequisite to development and progress.

    You are right – it is a debate about risk. In risk management, you must trade off the risks and benefits of continuing to use fossil fuels and the risks and benefits of not using them/ replacing them with more expensive, unreliable, non-scalable options. The debate about climate change is about more than just climate. It is about our attitude to risk and the importance of cheap energy.

  260. austrartas,

    So you are saying the choice is: do we live better lives or worse lives? Should we make a collective sacrifice and restrict freedom – the freedom to eat as much meat as we want, to travel around the globe, to live where we want? This is not a choice – this is the restriction of choice. This is the imposition of a simpler choice which fits the aesthetic tastes of modern greens, who would like to wind the clock back to a simpler, un-industrialized time.

    No, I’m not saying anything like that. I’m trying to distinguish between how our climate will evolve (which depends on the laws of physics and not on our chosen values) and on how our economy can evolve (which does not depend on some fixed physical laws but does depend on our values). So, I’m not suggesting that we should restrict freedoms at all. I’m simply pointing out that there is not one single possible future economic pathway and hence that I think there is a future economic pathway that is consistent with a reduction in poverty, an improvement in standards of living, minimising the risk of climate distruption and – just for you – no reduction in our freedoms (well, no reduction in what we’re free to do that does not adversely, and unfairly or illegally, influence others).

    The debate about climate change is about more than just climate. It is about our attitude to risk and the importance of cheap energy.

    Yes, I agree but I do think that we can’t ignore the future cost of using what is currently a cheap form of energy.

  261. jsam says:

    We can tackle climate change and poverty simultaneously. Indeed we really have no choice.
    As per the World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/12/04/fighting-climate-change-and-poverty.

  262. austrartsua says:

    ATTP says

    “I think there is a future economic pathway that is consistent with a reduction in poverty, an improvement in standards of living, minimising the risk of climate distruption…”

    Indeed there is, it is basically the economic path we are on right now. It involves a continued (and renewed) emphasis on economic growth, technological innovation and scientific progress. If we decide to restrict the availability of cheap, abundant and reliable energy then we will no longer be on this path.

    The number of climate related deaths has been dropping centuries now. It will continue to do so, if we continue to get richer, more technologically and scientifically advanced. Why do 1000s die when a typhoon hits the Philippines but only 10s die when a hurricane hits the USA? What is the difference between the USA and the Philippines? Do you want to help the Philippines? Than fight for their economic development. Fight for good governments and institutions and economic freedom/personal liberty. Don’t (as John Kerry did to the Indonesians) tell them to not use cheap energy.

  263. BBD says:

    Pekka

    The role of offshore in capital flight from Africa (and elsewhere) is a matter of fact. The damage this does to developing nations is a matter of fact. You can easily verify this yourself.

  264. austrarta,

    Indeed there is, it is basically the economic path we are on right now. It involves a continued (and renewed) emphasis on economic growth, technological innovation and scientific progress. If we decide to restrict the availability of cheap, abundant and reliable energy then we will no longer be on this path.

    Okay, let’s say we do this but let’s say we don’t end up with some alternative that’s cheaper than coal and we find ways to more cheaply extract the other remaining fossils fuels. Let’s also say that we get to 2 degrees of warming (which could happen by the mid-2040s) and discover that the impact is quite severe and we become more confident that another 2 degrees of warming would probably be catastrophic, leaving parts of the planet that were once habitable, uninhabitable. What do we do then?

  265. BBD says:

    We wait for the invisible hands to come down from the sky and rescue us.

  266. BBD says:

    austrartsua

    What is your preferred central estimate for climate sensitivity (ECS)?

  267. austrartsua says:

    We would cross that bridge when we come to it. Which would be in approx 25 years. So what is “habitable” and “unihabitable” will depend on the sorts of technology we have. In fact basically everywhere on earth is habitable today, using current technology. Just buy an air-conditioner for $100. Even the antarctic could be lived in if we really wanted to.

    We cannot solve all problems at once. Cutting emissions does not do that. As the great David Deutsch says: “Problems are inevitable. But problems are solvable”. It is the hallmark of our civilization that we solve problems. We don’t shy away from them. We tackle them with confidence.

    There are many ways to solve this problem. One way is to find cheap alternatives to fossil fuels. But that is not the only way. There are other possibilities. In fact the nature of a solution to a problem is you don’t know the solution until the problem is solved! But just as examples, there is carbon capture, there is geo-engineering to reduce the temperature. But far more realistically, there is adaptation. Simply adapting to changing climate as we always have done. Climate has always been nasty and well have always adapted to it. We just do a much better job of it now than we ever have before.

  268. austrartsua says:

    @BBD I have no idea what the ECS is. Ask a climate scientist, I am not one.

  269. BBD says:

    You should cease to comment if you are so appallingly uninformed.

  270. austrarta,

    We would cross that bridge when we come to it. Which would be in approx 25 years. So what is “habitable” and “unihabitable” will depend on the sorts of technology we have. In fact basically everywhere on earth is habitable today, using current technology. Just buy an air-conditioner for $100. Even the antarctic could be lived in if we really wanted to.

    Okay, but bear in mind that when we get to 2 degrees of warming we probably can’t avoid 3 degrees, given the inertia, so crossing that bridge means decades of things almost certainly getting worse and, almost certainly, in a non-linear fashion. Also, I would argue there is a difference between somewhere very cold, where more clothing could certainly help (people survived in the Antarctic 100 years ago, so the required technology is not that great) and trying to survive somewhere where the wet-bulb temperature exceeds 35 degrees for extended periods of time. No amount of stripping off helps you then and you would absolutely need technology to survive.

    My issue with your general view is that it appears to be a “don’t worry, we’ll think of something”. My preference is more along the lines of “let’s think of something”.

  271. verytallguy says:

    Aus,

    he who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.

    In other words, no amount of your rhetoric will change the laws of thermodynamics.

    Or as our host puts it… and then there’s physics

  272. BBD says:

    Note the evasiveness about sensitivity. Evasiveness is the hallmark of intellectual dishonesty. It is usually diagnostic of thinly-masked denialism. There’s no point in discussions like this when one party rejects the physics but refuses to admit it openly.

    People only survive in the Antarctic with food supplied from lower latitudes.

    AirCon requires vast amounts of energy.

    Cornutopianism is another type of reality denial.

    Etc.

  273. austrartsua says:

    @BBD and VTG The reason I do not respond to your question about ECS (which I think the IPCC says is 3C, although they didn’t provide an exact estimate, only a range from 1.5-4.5C or similar) is because I was making a point. The debate goes beyond “what is the ECS?”. The debate is: what are the costs and benefits of using fossil fuels? As a non-expert on climate, I can only take the IPCCs best estimate. But debates about energy policy and politics cannot be answered by appeals to the authority of “thermodynamics”.

  274. BBD,
    There are so many facts and there are so many factors that affect those facts that conclusions are not at all that straightforward.

    Your approach is pure cherry picking.

  275. BBD says:

    Pekka

    Careful. If you know nothing about the way offshore works, then fine. If you do, you would understand and agree with what I have written. But to disagree from ignorance is exactly what you appear to be taking issue with other commenters doing above.

    Think it through, please.

  276. toby52 says:

    The debate is: what are the costs and benefits of using fossil fuels?

    Unfortunately, the real costs of fossil fuels are determined by the laws of physics, not by energy policy and economics.

    So the laws of thermodynamics and radiation physics should inform the energy policies and politics, not the other way round.

  277. BBD says:

    Your approach is pure cherry picking.

    No, it isn’t. I very carefully avoided anything other than a factual statement about the pernicious role of offshore in enabling capital flight from developing countries.

    Sometimes, Pekka, you really piss me off.

  278. austrarta,

    The debate is: what are the costs and benefits of using fossil fuels?

    When you says “costs” do you include the risks/costs associated with climate change? If so, sure, but there are potential future pathways that could have catastrophic outcomes (extreme costs). In my view, the only way one would consider such pathways is if there was a similar likelihood of a catastrophic economic outcome if we didn’t. Given that our own values and choices can influence our economic pathway, this seems extremely unlikely. Hence, why would we possible consider future economic pathway that had a reasonable chance of resulting in extremely damaging (potentially catastrophic) climate change?

  279. Michael 2 says:

    You sure do know how to make responding irresistable. Anyway, yes, the overall feeling of your article compares closely with my assessment; a seeming detachment by jet globetrotting environmentalists wanting everyone else to decarbonize.

    “In any sensible risk analysis, you don’t dismiss the risk by arguing that it might not happen.”

    Agreed. Risk analyses, which I do in the realm of computer security, assumes nothing and tries to quantify everything.

    “You consider the possibility that something might happen and whether or not to do something to minimise that possible outcome.”

    Exactly. Some things can be prevented, some cannot. For that there’s backups. Since the backups can themselves be damaged or corrupted you need more than one kind of backup made by more than one kind of tool and at least one backup that is physically disconnected from the network. The environmental equivalent is the global seed bank on Spitzbergen island if I remember right.

    “How our climate will respond to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations is determined by basic physics.”

    I’d suggest rather complex physics, but yes.

    “Even today, there are many different types of economies operating in the world. We have choices. Do we travel mostly by public transport, or private? Do we eat less meat? Do we mostly live in apartments or houses? Do we mostly holiday locally or travel to exotic distant destinations?”

    It is Darwinian. Each region operates an economy that is most “fit” for that region; within a region you don’t really have much of a choice.

    When I lived in Iceland, public transportation was ideal most of the time because of the compact nature of the city and nearly everyone in Iceland lives in the same place. Is it my “choice” to live there? Not really. I have to want it, they have to want me, and I have to have employment.

    Nearly opposite is Wyoming where many people live on ranches very removed from any city or town. Farming is impossible in most of Wyoming, so people eat cows that eat grass and weeds. If you are a vegetarian don’t live in Wyoming.

    Iceland, when I lived there, was nearly crime free — completely! Not even graffiti or vandalism with a singular exception: the high rise apartments of Breitholt. High density housing, while energy efficient, is very bad for the human soul.

    “I will continue to believe that we can both reduce poverty, improve general standards of living and minimise climate disruption.”

    Shall humanity ever leave this planet? If it does not, then all life here is eventually doomed. But I suppose we could equalize everything and wait for it. I am reminded of the movie “Interstellar” which faintly explores that future, although placing it much sooner.

  280. ATTP,

    I was really simply suggesting that we should be careful of imposing our own sense of what’s best for the developing world. That may not be what is actually best for the developing world. That doesn’t – though – mean leaving the developing world alone to make it on their own.

    I agree on that. Development aid must be continued in spite of its problems. Continuing effort must be put in search of improved practices, but it’s better to understand that failures will be common also in futures.

    I have spent 2 months in Africa and couple of months in Finland trying to give my little contribution to better choices in use of some funding. During that work I met many people from the target country’s government, donor organization, local businesses, NGOs etc. That’s too little to make me an expert, but I learned a lot of that. Therefore I wrote above that my expertize is not exactly zero.

  281. austrartsua says:

    ATTP says: “If so, sure, but there are potential future pathways that could have catastrophic outcomes (extreme costs).”

    Firstly, this depends very much on the probability of catastrope. For instance, an asteroid could do us in tomorrow. But such a catastrophe is pretty low probability, so we don’t spend trillions of dollars on it, only billions, which is reasonable. I think “Pascal’s wager” is a good reference on this.

    Secondly, it would be an economic catastrophe if energy prices were to rise above a certain amount and if fossil fuels were severely restricted, and it would have all sorts of negative effects, such as, ironically, making us less resilient to climate impacts.

    Ultimately, restricting fossil fuels is not a solution. A solution is finding a cheaper alternative, thriving at higher temps, reducing temps somehow etc. It is not a solution unless cheap energy is maintained. civilization is non-negotiable.

  282. matt says:

    For all those talking about economic catastrophes due to mitigation efforts, how much do you think it will cost to limit warming to 2degC (in terms of reduced GDP)? Ballpark

  283. matt says:

    (some of) This comment thread reminds me of Mooneys article:
    “Conservatives don’t hate climate science. They hate the left’s climate solutions”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/11/10/conservatives-dont-hate-climate-science-they-hate-the-lefts-climate-solutions/
    ht Dana

  284. Why couldn’t switching to clean energy improve our economies? This study calculates that a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend system with a steadily rising fee saves lives and adds jobs. All those solar panels and wind turbines aren’t going to put themselves together, and it’s much harder to outsource those jobs than it is to support overseas oil despots.

    Switching to clean energy isn’t a cost, it’s an investment in our future.

    Also, I’ve stressed that there’s no need for an international agreement. The Citizens Climate Lobby’s proposed carbon tax applies a fee to imports from countries without similar policies. Other countries will likely prefer to collect the fee themselves and reimburse their own citizens rather than paying Americans to import their goods to America. Given America’s voracious consumer market, enacting CCL’s plan might result in similar policy being enacted in many other countries just because of economics rather than negotiated agreements.

  285. austrarta,

    Ultimately, restricting fossil fuels is not a solution. A solution is finding a cheaper alternative, thriving at higher temps, reducing temps somehow etc. It is not a solution unless cheap energy is maintained. civilization is non-negotiable.

    Okay, but here’s the problem. If we follow an RCP8.5 emission pathway (which may well be unrealistic in some sense but is – as understand it – possible) we have about a 50% chance of reaching at least 5oC by 2100, and 9oC by 2200. I think that would mean civilisation (as we know it, at least) would no longer be possible. So, if civilisation is non-negotiable, surely we should avoid an emission pathway that could lead to such large amounts of warming within the next century?

  286. austrartsua says:

    @ATTP, I am not sure if the probabilities you mention are reasonable given they depend on us following RCP8.5, and as you say this is not realistic.

    But ok, I’ll play the game. Yes, if this “emissions pathway” is guaranteed to lead to that amount of warming, than I guess we should not follow it. The question than is moved to: how do we avoid this emissions pathway, while maintaining our civilization, which is based on cheap energy? Then we have to find alternatives to fossil fuels which are cheaper. Which means we need money and wealth to invest in research. Which means we need a focus on economic growth.

    But I don’t want to limit us to one solution (finding fossil fuel alternative). Who knows, there may be other solutions? Economic growth gives us the time and space to find the solutions like geoengineering. In any case, emission reductions can come about in two ways. 1. Technological innovation (see fracking in the US). 2. Government command and control, regulation, top-down enforcement, making fossil fuels more expensive,

  287. austrarta,

    The question than is moved to: how do we avoid this emissions pathway, while maintaining our civilization, which is based on cheap energy? Then we have to find alternatives to fossil fuels which are cheaper. Which means we need money and wealth to invest in research. Which means we need a focus on economic growth.

    Yes, I agree that we have to invest in technology development that can lead to alternatives. My point is quite simply that if there is an emission pathway (which is something we choose to follow, rather than something that happens by chance) that has a non-negligible chance of leading to very damaging warming, then we should aim not to follow that pathway, not simply hope that we don’t follow that pathway.

  288. izen says:

    @-ATTP
    ” Let’s also say that we get to 2 degrees of warming (which could happen by the mid-2040s) and discover that the impact is quite severe and we become more confident that another 2 degrees of warming would probably be catastrophic, leaving parts of the planet that were once habitable, uninhabitable. What do we do then?”

    If the impacts are sufficiently severe, and the catastrophic threat clear…
    Then burning fossil fuels will start to be viewed with the same moral disdain as slavery began to be viewed in the 18thC.

    As that starts to spread, along with the ongoing islamic reformation which may have reduced the carbon footprint of a large group of the population, CO2 emissions will be constrained without global regulation or cheaper alternatives.

  289. pbjamm says:

    AUS : “There are many ways to solve this problem. One way is to find cheap alternatives to fossil fuels. But that is not the only way. There are other possibilities. ”

    Like cutting emissions. We already thought of a solution you just dont like it.

  290. pbjamm says:

    That came off snarkier than I intended.

    One proposed solution is reducing emissions. It is a solution that is within our current technological grasp and does not rely on future humans potential genius solving the problem for us. There are problems with it but none are insurmountable if we have the will to do it. The problem here in the US is that such a large portion of the people dont believe in the problem that no proposed solution is acceptable. After all if there is no problem why do we need a solution?

  291. austrartsua says:

    @pbjamm. I don’t consider emissions reductions a solution unless you can provide an alternate source of energy which is just as cheap as fossil fuels and has the same potential for supporting economic growth in the future. The only candidate at the moment is nuclear fission and it is more expensive but can provide a base load at least. Nuclear will not overtake fossil fuels for decades but it is certainly the option for developed nations who are less price sensitive.

    “future human potential genius” that’s an interesting thought. I guess the future does seem like genius to the past. But you are misguided. Individuals are no smarter in the future, people collectively are, becomes knowledge progresses. We are also richer, with better technology etc.

  292. Eli Rabett says:

    To the troll before last. Every economic analysis agrees that sub Saharan Africa will be hit hardest by climate change. Moreover thanks to recent developments solar and wind are much less expensive in the backwoods (back jungles??) than central power.

    So why do you hate the African poor?

  293. pbjamm says:

    I never suggested that future humans are any smarter than we. You say in your last comment that you ” don’t consider emissions reductions a solution unless you can provide an alternate source of energy which is just as cheap as fossil fuels and has the same potential for supporting economic growth in the future.” That is depending on the potential genius of future humans (better phrasing) to solve the problem. We can only work with the tools we have now and use them to the best of our ability. If we are not willing to work on the problem what guarantee do we have that people in 40 years time will be any different? They are no smarter than we and unless we work on the problem knowledge will not progress to the point where they can invent the Perfect Answer.

  294. austrartsua says:

    Because in 40 years the state of all knowledge will be more advanced, not just climate science, all science and society. There will be new technologies, new capabilities. If we don’t have a solution now, than we have to keep working on it and be patient.

    If by ‘working on the problem’ you mean conducting scientific research, the we are in perfect agreement. But if you mean, enact drastic laws to prevent carbon emissions with huge costs and a prevention of economic growth if not degrowth, than we do not agree.

  295. izen says:

    @-austrartsua
    “… But if you mean, enact drastic laws to prevent carbon emissions with huge costs and a prevention of economic growth if not degrowth, than we do not agree.”

    The position of the slave-owner.
    Especially the tactic of claiming that ‘drastic’ laws and economic ‘degrowth’ are inevitable.
    It would take very little extreme climate prompting to make the extraction and burning of coal to be viewed as an ethical wrong.

  296. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    “There’s no possibility that we in the developed world could drive technology development and shift to alternatives first, while allowing the developing to world to catchup using cheaper energy sources? I’m guessing your answer is no?”
    No indeed, know the expression, if the US sneezes, the rest of the world gets a cold? Economic growth in the third world is positively related to economic growth in the developed world.
    @izen
    “Health and education rarely correlate strongly with monetary wealth/poverty in developing regions, but it is a key factor in any meaningful measure of poverty.”
    Progress might be somewhat uneven, but there has been enormous progress in health and education, which does correlate with monetary wealth, also with developing regions, yes.
    @Ian forrester
    “That is completely wrong. The only way to eradicate hunger in Africa (and other countries such as those in S America) is to give the land back to the indigenous people who farmed it for their own benefit before the best of it was taken over by European colonizing empires. ”
    WTF, so subsidence farming is the way to go for Africa; it is people like YOU that are keeping Africa poor.
    @BDD
    on the LSE piece, which I though about. Tax evasion is a problem, not that I think corporate profits should be taxed per se, but due to unfair competition with smaller companies that not have that opportunity. That said, it is not an African problem specifically, but a global problem, and it gives the assumption that without paying tax, companies are not a force for good, but they are. The resources they buy, the products they sell, the investments they do and the infrastructure and factories they build, these are all part of of the growing economies.

  297. BBD says:

    victorpetri

    Tax evasion is a problem, not that I think corporate profits should be taxed per se,

    How then does government raise revenue for infrastructure (including police, military, health, utilities, roads etc)?

    but due to unfair competition with smaller companies that not have that opportunity.

    Offshore tax avoidance does indeed favour large, vertically integrated ‘multinationals’ over small, indigenous enterprise – just one of the many ways it strangles development. But not perhaps the worst, which is capital flight. Let’s just remind ourselves of the hard numbers in the article entitled Tax evasion: the main cause of global poverty:

    While the World Bank estimates that corruption by government officials costs developing countries a significant US$30 billion a year – this is only 3% of the US$900 billion of public funds lost through tax evasion schemes and other illicit practices by multinational companies.

    The rest of your comment is an economically and politically illiterate apology for tax avoidance, offshore banking, immoral corporate exploitation of vulnerable populations for maximal profit and the consequent propagation of poverty and social oppression by corrupt regimes.

    The moral blindness inspired by free market fundamentalism never ceases to astonish and appal me, nor am I alone in this respect.

  298. BBD says:

    The resources they buy, the products they sell, the investments they do and the infrastructure and factories they build, these are all part of of the growing economies.

    Let’s go back to the example of Nigeria – billions in oil profits, >60% of the population in poverty and growing.

    Why is this, VP? You still haven’t squared the circle. Nor will you succeed, because *you* are in economic denial:

    Nigerian population in absolute poverty:

    1980: 17.1 million
    1985: 34.7 million
    1992: 39.2 million
    1996: 67.1 million
    2004: 68.7 million
    2010: 112.47 million

  299. Andrew Dodds says:

    austrartsua –

    We’ve had basic nuclear power plants for almost 60 years, and we’ve had various advanced designs such as IFRs, and breeders for around for 40 years or more. We could have used these to phase out coal burning and decarbonise all electricity grids – decades ago with a poretty minimal financial impact.

    I’m not sure why waiting another 4 decades will help. Indeed, I do not see any real technological change over the next couple of decades that would make a difference. Fusion continues to get a pathetic trickle of cash. Energy storage will improve, but is orders of magnitude away from utility-scale TWh levels. PV panel prices will drop close to raw-material-cost levels, but the Earth’s orbital geometry won’t change, and the wind fields won’t (much) either.

    Physics constrains our options for energy supply. This was true 50 years ago – the last novel power source being the solar cell – and, commercial fusion aside, it will be true in 50 years. It’s time to get off our collective backsides and actually use the technologies we have instead of sitting around dreaming that Magic Energy Faries(tm) will appear out of thin air and save us.

  300. victorpetri says:

    @BDD
    Taxing profits is in general not a major way for governments to collect taxes. And economically, you could argue that the collection of taxes in general comes at the cost of wealth growth. Which does not mean it is wrong, because social goals might be worth sacrificing wealth for.
    I have not apologized for anything, and I resend your tone, it seems you are single handedly trying to keep the tone of conversation not civil. I simply pointed to the fact that companies operating in Africa, contribute to its progress, tax avoidance or not. And that tax avoidance, is just as much a developed world’s problem as it is an African problem.
    And back on Nigeria, again it is a corrupt government causing problems,
    This is one of the best pieces I have read and it is an eye opener:
    http://www.economist.com/news/business/21579469-court-documents-shed-light-manoeuvrings-shell-and-eni-win-huge-nigerian-oil-block

  301. victorpetri says:

    @AD
    Technological advance is more than only a totally new technology.
    It is more the ongoing increase of knowledge that enables us to increase our per capita energy use, and increase the per capita oil, gas, solar etc production. I’ve written a blog about this to explain:
    https://humansrunderrated.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/the-infinite-resource/

  302. vp,
    Here’s the problem with your argument. If we assume that the best way forward is to use the cheapest possible energy source and that we decide not to impose a carbon tax, then we face the possibility of climate change being catastrophic. I fail to see how this is a remotely sensible way forward whatever argument you might make about the US sneezing or not.

  303. BBD says:

    vp

    Corporate profit depends on natural and human resources and infrastructure. Arguing that corporations have no obligation – moral or fiscal – to pay tax is economically illiterate and morally stunted.

    And stop whining.

  304. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    Climate change needs to be treated just as any other problem in terms of (long term) costs and benefits. We should be looking for an optimum of sustainable human well being, for me at this point in time, it would be to do little against GW now, keep using fossil fuels, eradicate poverty and diseases, such as malaria, keep the focus on economic growth.
    I know this will drive 80% of commenters here in a whipping frenzy, but it seems that we are a low sensitivity scenario right now.
    My position is not fixed, if GW proves to be more severe, we should and can change course accordingly (no, I do not think it will be too late).
    I just fail to see that it is remotely sensible to inflict much economic harm now.

  305. vp,

    I know this will drive 80% of commenters here in a whipping frenzy, but it seems that we are a low sensitivity scenario right now.

    It doesn’t really matter what you think, there’s a chance (and not a small one) that you’ll be wrong. What then?

    My position is not fixed, if GW proves to be more severe, we should and can change course accordingly (no, I do not think it will be too late)..

    There’s a possibility that it’s already too late.

    I just fail to see that it is remotely sensible to inflict much economic harm now.

    Well, because some things will be irreversible. If we choose to ignore that possibility and simply rely on us responding as things become more obvious, we’ll have to hope that nothing irreversible and extremely damaging has already happened. Also, it’s not obvious that acting now will inflict much economic harm. Many very bright and relevantly qualified people think that it is possible to act and drive economic growth. Your certainty that this is not possible doesn’t make your argument particularly compelling.

  306. BBD says:

    I simply pointed to the fact that companies operating in Africa, contribute to its progress, tax avoidance or not.

    And I keep pointing out that your free market fantasies ignore the truth, which is that corporate plunder in Africa is widespread and vastly reduces the net benefits that *should* arise for populations and infrastructure if the pernicious offshoring of profits (tax avoidance) was prevented. You keep trying to push the blame onto corrupt kleptocracies without explaining to me where the money went. It goes *offshore*. See eg. Nigeria’s ongoing slide into poverty where the multinationals collude with the ‘government’ and the people starve. Corporate corruption enables ‘government’ corruption. There is a hierarchy to it. Your dogged apologism for corporate corruption is simply astonishing.

  307. victorpetri says:

    @BDD
    Your consistent misinterpretation of my position is what spells illiteracy.
    What other obligation to pay tax than fiscal is there any way?
    But OK, you feel it is a moral obligation for companies to pay tax on profits, good for you. Sounds like a happy little world. I am not arguing your obviously much better moral values and much more progressive values than mine, I am just simply pointing out the fact that this comes at the cost of wealth creation; THAT is economics.

  308. BBD says:

    vp

    Your link details an example of corporate corruption fostering ‘government’ corruption in Nigeria. It explicitly supports my argument and undermines your own (apologism for corporate corruption etc):

    Tom Mayne of Global Witness, an NGO, has followed the case closely; he believes things were structured this way so that Shell and ENI could obscure their deal with Malabu by inserting a layer between them. Mr Agaev, Malabu’s former fixer, lends weight to this interpretation. It was, he says, structured to be a “safe-sex transaction”, with the government acting as a “condom” between the buyers and seller

    You don’t understand any of this, do you? You are just yammering away in a silvered bubble of incomprehension and libertarian ideology. This exchange is going to be a complete waste of time.

  309. vp,

    But OK, you feel it is a moral obligation for companies to pay tax on profits, good for you.

    No, I don’t think that is quite what BBD is saying. I suspect what he’s suggesting that there’s a moral obligation for companies not tobribe governments and administrators so as to let them exploit a country without having to contribute to the economic advancement of that country’s population. Companies should not be obliged to pay anything other than the legaling mandated amount of tax. That, however, assumes that those same companies haven’t influenced governments in a manner that most would regard as unethical.

  310. BBD says:

    But OK, you feel it is a moral obligation for companies to pay tax on profits, good for you.

    And fiscal obligation. Don’t verbal me.

  311. A book I recommend is Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible. Apart from being a really gripping book, it is – as I understand it – partly based on real events.

  312. Andrew Dodds says:

    BBD –

    There is a kind of equivalence between modern era free market fundamentalists and 1920s-30s era communist apologists in the absolute refusal to see problems with the practical implementation of their ideology.

  313. BBD says:

    This is what I wrote:

    Corporate profit depends on natural and human resources and infrastructure. Arguing that corporations have no obligation – moral or fiscal – to pay tax is economically illiterate and morally stunted.

  314. BBD says:

    Andrew Dodds

    Whatever the problem, it is terrifying.

  315. victorpetri says:

    @BDD

    You gave me no choice, but to go basic economics on your ass.
    In a free market two parties meet for a transaction. The price paid is the price where both parties agree upon and feel their lives improve with.
    Example, Nokia phones being sold in Nigeria, the price is that for which Nokia is willing to sell, and the Nigerian is willing to pay, both parties gain, it is a win-win.
    People buying goods, or extracting resources or investing in factories, in a free market participants only engage in transactions that they feel are beneficial to them, and thus by its very definition, it will improve their lives.
    Sometimes people are not satisfied with transaction, either due to incomplete or faulty information, or because participants are selling goods that are not theirs to sell, e.g. a Nigerian politican selling a mine for a penny that ends up in his or hers own pocket. This is and should be illegal.
    For companies to be able to operate in Africa is thus a benefit to begin with, the transactions they make will come at the benefit of the people they deal with, again, by definition.

    These companies go to Africa to make money, or profits, this is why they invest and increase their presence. The more money there is to make, the more companies come and offer their products or buy African products, that much more until profits are more attractive elsewhere.

    And taking the Nokia phone, say it is sold with a 10% profit for Nokia. With the price agreed upon by buyer and seller, the seller has a 10% profit. You say because the profit is made in Africa, that even though the buyer was content with his new phone at that price, taxes should be paid on that profit.
    That is fine, you don’t have to morally uptight about it, it is a fine proposition. It has however, nothing to do with the win-win transaction of the phone. And it does mean that doing business in Africa is just a little less attractive, because profits are smaller.

  316. victorpetri says:

    @BBD
    “You don’t understand any of this, do you? ”

    Did you read this as well?:
    Mr Etete in his heyday as oil ministerHow arm’s-length is arm’s-length enough? That depends on the company’s “threshold of ambiguity”, says Cory Harvey of Control Risks, which helps companies to manage political and reputational risk. This will vary from company to company and will be perceived differently by management, regulators and NGOs. Ms Harvey has seen oil-industry clients walk away from deals because of concerns about the reputation of, or lack of reliable information on, a seller or local partner. But energy transactions in difficult places can be “spectacularly complex”, she says, making it hard to gauge the acceptable level of risk. Nigeria is “arguably the most complex environment of all”.
    Mr Hughes argues that when foreign companies turn a blind eye to questionable aspects of a deal, it can sometimes benefit developing countries with natural resources. The publicly traded oil majors are, on balance, a force for good, raising overall standards of behaviour by trying to operate as cleanly as possible in most circumstances, he says; better that than leaving the field to less scrupulous operators. Ethically speaking, the industry “has to be viewed in relative, not absolutist, terms,” he argues. Mr Hughes points out that Shell periodically talks of scaling back its Nigerian operations, which he believes to be “part of a political-risk management strategy” to exert pressure on the government to act more cleanly and predictably.

  317. BBD says:

    vp

    You haven’t understood a word I have said. As predicted, this exchange was a complete waste of time.

  318. victorpetri says:

    Btw, I am not a libertarian. But I do believe in free markets, capitalism and globalism, especially in their ability to create wealth and in its ability to let supply meet demand. I also believe in a government that provides infrastructure, safety, public transport, healthcare and education for all.

  319. victorpetri says:

    @BBD
    I have understood your point but I disagree.
    Western companies have a very much positive effect on economic growth and social progress in Africa. The fact that they do not pay corporate tax is an issue but does not negate this economic positive effect. It just means they could contribute even more. And the corruption is, as the Economists article indicates, to the dislike of big companies as much as the African people. They much rather have decent governments to work with, where it not that the economic opportunities are bigger on these frontier countries.

  320. BBD says:

    Ethically speaking, the industry “has to be viewed in relative, not absolutist, terms,” he argues.

    FFS.

  321. andrew adams says:

    The reason many of us are arguing for taking action to reduce emissions now is that the sooner we start the more gradually we can do it and so the lower the likelihood of economic shocks as a result. As it is one could argue that we have already delayed to long and made things more difficult than they could have been, but if we continue to do little and suddenly decide in two or three decade’s time that the impact of climate change really will be severe then it really may be too late to take serious action to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions without there being huge costs.

  322. BBD says:

    Western companies have a very much positive effect on economic growth and social progress in Africa. The fact that they do not pay corporate tax is an issue but does not negate this economic positive effect. It just means they could contribute even more.

    FFS

    While the World Bank estimates that corruption by government officials costs developing countries a significant US$30 billion a year – this is only 3% of the US$900 billion of public funds lost through tax evasion schemes and other illicit practices by multinational companies [every year].

  323. victorpetri says:

    @BBD
    ” Ethically speaking, the industry “has to be viewed in relative, not absolutist, terms,” he argues.

    FFS.”

    Welcome in the real world.

  324. BBD says:

    Btw, I am not a libertarian. But I do believe in free markets, capitalism and globalism, especially in their ability to create wealth and in its ability to let supply meet demand. I also believe in a government that provides infrastructure, safety, public transport, healthcare and education for all.

    But you strenuously deny that corporations should pay any tax at all in order to fund the “infrastructure, safety, public transport, healthcare and education for all” upon which they depend and which maximises profits. Yet you presume to lecture me on basic economics as if you had an understanding of the topic.

    FFS

  325. verytallguy says:

    austrartsua

    The question than is moved to: how do we avoid this emissions pathway, while maintaining our civilization, which is based on cheap energy? Then we have to find alternatives to fossil fuels which are cheaper. Which means we need money and wealth to invest in research. Which means we need a focus on economic growth.

    Firstly, let’s agree that our common goal is to maintain a liberal, democratic civilisation for as much of humanity as possible.

    Unfortunately from that point on your rhetoric hits a hard wall of the laws of physics and the conservation of mass. All that is left is wishful thinking and technological fantasy.

    Broadly speaking, we already know the alternatives to fossil fuels, and their costs. You can get a good sense of that here, although a little dated and UK-centric
    http://www.withouthotair.com/

    Research will not circumvent the second law of thermodynamics and deliver infinite efficiency, nor will it magic up infinite quantities of fossil fuels.

    Your approach then has two possible outcomes, although they are not mutually exclusive. Both guarantee the end of our civilisation as we know it.

    1) We will ruin the world’s ecology and agricultural productivity through climate change
    2) We will hit a very hard resource crunch as fossil fuels deplete

    The sooner we mitigate, the lesser both of these problems become.

  326. victorpetri says:

    @BBD
    “While the World Bank estimates that corruption by government officials costs developing countries a significant US$30 billion a year – this is only 3% of the US$900 billion of public funds lost through tax evasion schemes and other illicit practices by multinational companies [every year].”
    So according to you, Africa loses 900 billion every year due to mulitnational companies?

  327. BBD says:

    You don’t have a clue about the real world, vp. You live in a silly little bubble of libertarian ideology. See above. The entire exchange. You don’t even understand what a libertarian is.

    FFS

  328. BBD says:

    vp

    Read the words: “developing countries”, not Africa. Please do not once again resort to lawyer not economist tactics in order to evade the point. It is contemptible.

  329. BBD says:

    To be clear, the point is $900 billion (less ~3%).

    Address that and the gaping hole it blows in your nonsense.

  330. victorpetri says:

    @BBD
    “But you strenuously deny that corporations should pay any tax at all in order to fund the “infrastructure, safety, public transport, healthcare and education for all” upon which they depend and which maximises profits. Yet you presume to lecture me on basic economics as if you had an understanding of the topic.

    FFS”

    I kind of hard for me to comprehend how you can so consistently misrepresent my position. Is this some elaborate joke, are you willingly not understanding what I type? Where do I ‘strenuously deny that corporation should pay taxes’?

    And how do you mean, I do not understand what a Libertarian is, how can you know?

  331. David Blake says:

    @vp
    “I know this will drive 80% of commenters here in a whipping frenzy, but it seems that we are a low sensitivity scenario right now.”
    Oh! Brave thing to say here! I agree. 😀

    In my view the “what to do about it” argument is a fairly easy one to answer: Nuclear power. Just a no-brainer for everybody concerned whether they are a sceptic (like me) or a leading climate activist (like James Hansen). Whether they are worried about energy security (patriots / tea party supporters), or more concerned about low CO2 power (greens and alarmists) it pleases everybody.

    Even if sensitivity is high or low, we still need reliable base load, and if we, as a society, say we want to move away from coal, then the only way of getting reliable base load is Nuclear. Solar is great, dropping in price and rising in efficiency, but it needs some way of storing power, which we ain’t got yet. Wind turbines spoil the very thing we’re trying to save – the environment.

    The only thing in the way – are the greens! In particluar Greenpeace. They need to be shut down, & outlawed on two counts. i) If the sceptics (like me) are wrong and CS is high then they’ve delayed (or made prohibitively expensive by outlandish precautionary principle BS) reliable base load low CO2 power, ii) they’ll be responsible when the grid fails (looking more and more likely) as closed coal plants haven’t been replaced by anything sensible.

  332. Andrew Dodds says:

    vp –

    It may surprise you, but I am a techno-cornucopian, or at least I believe that it is perfectly possible to provide a high standard (upper-middle-class-1st-world) of living for a population of 10 billion on this planet using current or near-term technology.

    But not fossil fuels – even with your wildly inflated numbers there are not enough, global warming aside.

    And this doesn’t address my real point, which is that human inventiveness has already provided the techno-solutions, and it is ideology that stops us from using them. Particularly the ideology that says that governments are not allowed to do anything, even in areas where the only realistic solution involves government.

  333. BBD says:

    Where do I ‘strenuously deny that corporation should pay taxes’?

    Oh boy, we really have got to the bottom of the barrel now.

    You have consistently waved away the *massive theft* of hundreds of billions USD from the world’s poor by corporate tax evasion as a side-issue. The $900 billion per annum that goes into corporate coffers because multinationals use the offshore banking system to avoid legitimate taxes. Don’t be so revoltingly disingenuous.

  334. victorpetri says:

    @BBD
    The 900 billion is for the whole of the developing world indeed. Number one on that list would be China.
    It is not only western companies, but all multinational companies that do so. And again, if it would ever reach that thick head of you, it does not mean that the basic activities of those companies are not beneficial to the developing world. It borders to insanity to blame those companies for the poverty, as without them, there would be much more poverty.

  335. David,

    In particluar Greenpeace. They need to be shut down, & outlawed on two counts.

    As much as I agree that Greenpeace’s position on nuclear power is damaging, I find what you’ve said amazing. Especially as there are “skeptics” who have howled with indignation when anyone has suggested anything even remotely similar with regards to them.

    If the sceptics (like me) are wrong and CS is high then they’ve delayed

    So, if “skeptics” are wrong, it’s all Greenpeace’s fault. That’s absurd. Firstly, Greenpeace doesn’t make decisions. It’s not their fault if policy makers actually listened to them. In the UK, it’s my understanding that one reason we curtailed the Nuclear programme is that Nigel Lawson – when Chancellor – decided that the costs would be too high to allow him to privatise the energy sector. Guess where he is now? The founder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. You can’t blame another organistion for your potential errors.

  336. David Blake says:

    @BBD

    ” the *massive theft* of hundreds of billions USD from the world’s poor by corporate tax evasion”

    I think we have to be fairly pragmatic in that regard. Business is now global, especially big business, and especially eCommerce. It would ne *nice* if we could say “Do business here? Then you have to be headquartered here.” But I’m not holding my breath on it. The practicallities of exporting goods (usually done via a local holding company) are prohibitive.

    The same could be said for the very rich. They’ll dodge tax. They always have. They are the most mobile members of society. Would it be better to charge billionaires 90% tax – and have them all leave (tax revinue £0), or charge them 10% and have many more come in (tax revenue £billions)? We have to be pragmatic.

    Take for example the darling newspaper of the liberal left: The Guardian. They run articles, nay, campaigns, to get companies to pay their fair share ot tax. All very correct, all very noble. But where are the tax affairs of the owner of the Guardian (the GMG) based? The Cayman islands – to pay less tax…

  337. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    I agree the Poisonwood Bible is excellent, interested why you choose to raise it here?

    If I were to suggest a book with analogies to climate change I might choose Bleak House, perhaps seasoned with some Orwell.

    Is literature better than politics to engage in a reasoned debate?

  338. David,
    That’s why I think the whole “we can’t do anything now” should really be “we don’t want to do anything now”.

  339. BBD says:

    It is not only western companies, but all multinational companies that do so.

    Strawman. Where do I say that it is *only* “Western” corporate theft from the world’s poor that is the issue. I argue that it is *predominantly* corporate theft by developed economies.

    It borders to insanity to blame those companies for the poverty, as without them, there would be much more poverty.

    It *is insane* to wave away the theft of hundreds of billions of USD annually from the world’s poor on the basis that the tiny bit of money that wasn’t stolen does a bit of good here and there.

    You are in no position to talk about people being insane or thick-headed.

  340. BBD says:

    I see – with absolute predictability – that David Blake / Rum Runner is another apologist for corporate theft from developing economies.

  341. VTG,

    interested why you choose to raise it here?

    Mainly because of vp’s and BBD’s discussion. We regularly hear about corruption in Africa but, IIRC, one of the premises in the Poisonwood Bible is that we did little to stop it and may well have actively encouraged it.

  342. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    ah. I thought it was a climate change reference – the dangers of becoming blinded by your ideology regardless of the facts in front of your face

  343. David Blake says:

    @aTTP,

    “it’s my understanding that one reason we curtailed the Nuclear programme is that Nigel Lawson – when Chancellor – decided that the costs would be too high to allow him to privatise the energy sector.”

    Really? I didn’t know that. It is rather an irony (if true). It’s my understanding that a very large proportion of the ongoing costs of storing nuclear waste, in which the greens (read Greenpeace) were instrumental is classifiying, is what level of radiation constitutes “waste”.

    As I’m sure you are aware 90%+ of the waste is so low level radiation that one could mostly likely have it as a coffee table – but according to GP it’s deadly! and will be radioactive for 250,000 years! (Ignoring that the longer the half-life the less deadly it is per gram)

    “So, if “skeptics” are wrong, it’s all Greenpeace’s fault. ”
    No quite – but the result is the same. GP stand in the way of reliable low CO2 power. Read the letter from Hansen et al. To summise they say “back off and shut up” to GP (and others).

    I find GP’s position ludicrous.
    On climate change they say: Listen to the scientists.
    On nuclear power they say: Don’t listen to the scientists.
    On GM they say: Don’t listen to the scientists.

  344. David Blake says:

    @ VTG,
    “If I were to suggest a book with analogies to climate change I might choose Bleak House, perhaps seasoned with some Orwell.”

    I would choose “Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” 😀

    >>”In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.

    Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

    I’m sure that a later edition will include a chapter on the “CO2 craze of 2000’s”

  345. verytallguy says:

    David Blake,

    The only thing in the way [of nuclear] – are the greens! In particluar Greenpeace.

    What a [mod:redacted] pile of [mod:redacted] that is

    Or, more civilly…

    I can’t agree with you, even as someone who is cautiously in favour of more nuclear. Here’s why

    The only people responsible for the unpopularity of nuclear power are the nuclear industry.

    At Fukushima, a Western designed plant, intended to be operated in an earthquake zone on the coast, melted down and exploded before our eyes, rendering a significant area uninhabitable for generations. The immediate cause was an entirely predictable earthquake, the root cause an utterly inadequate safety culture.

    At Windscale, a burning reactor was allowed to continue depositing fallout over a wide area whilst locals were reassured nothing was wrong.

    Costs for the industry have routinely been massively higher than promised.

    Uranium mining is a dangerous and environmentally destructive activity.

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

    Public scepticism of nuclear is entirely rational and if it wasn’t Greenpeace stoking it, someone else would be.

  346. verytallguy says:

    David Blake

    I would choose “Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”

    Good suggestion – neoliberal economics will indeed probably be seen as a delusion from a future standpoint.

    But I was thinking more of fiction*. Any suggestions?

    (*hope you noticed I resisted the obvious opportunity for snark at this point)

  347. David Blake says:

    @VTG,

    “Public scepticism of nuclear is entirely rational and if it wasn’t Greenpeace stoking it, someone else would be.”

    Greenpeace (and her ilk), I would argue are the *main* ones “stoking it”. Those on the catastopic AGW side must make a very simple decision: What is the greater risk? Currently that debate is being de-railed by Greenpeace who pretend that we don’t need reliable base load. Who needs lights that come on when you flick a switch anyway? It’s just so 20th century darling.

    Re Fukishima: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/21/pro-nuclear-japan-fukushima

  348. Pierre-Normand says:

    DBB wrote: “It *is insane* to wave away the theft of hundreds of billions of USD annually from the world’s poor on the basis that the tiny bit of money that wasn’t stolen does a bit of good here and there.”

    This response isn’t targeted to DBB specifically, but rather to an aspect of the issue being debated.

    We can ponder over whether corporations (or some individuals) do more good than bad overall. But that seems to have little relevance to genuine policy considerations. For if corporations do some bad that they aren’t entitled to do (on moral or general legal grounds) then the relevant policy question concerns how laws and regulations ought to be framed, and/or what incentives ought to be provided, so as to deter them from doing those things (and sometimes also seek fair restitution); and also how to more effectively enforce those rules. The question whether some international corporations do *more* harm than good on balance would only make sense in the context of a decision whether to abolish them entirely.

    Likewise, if a thoracic surgeon saves the life of a young patient, and then proceeds to steal $50 from her purse, then she (the surgeon) is liable to justly be fired from her job even if the good she did to the patient is immeasurably larger than the wrong she did her by stealing a little money. In all cases, the question ought to be whether the policy, and its enforcement (by means of incentives and sanctions) is *just* rather than its being targeted to entities or individuals that do more good or more bad on balance. I would also stress that unnecessarily damaging the commons, including the natural environment, can constitute a wrong directed at humanity in general, and future generations more specifically, and hence is quite relevant to public policy considerations.

  349. David,
    It appears that you are absolving yourself (and your fellow “skeptics”) of any responsibility. I think the way you’ve framed your argument is classically unhelpful. I have no interest in defending Greenpeace, but seeing someone demonise them without recognising that similar arguments could be made against any organisation trying to influence policy is a bit frustrating (to say the least).

  350. verytallguy says:

    David,]

    Greenpeace (and her ilk), I would argue are the *main* ones “stoking it”.

    No, the main ones stoking it are the nuclear industry and their own demonstrated inability to sort out their own issues over a period of generations. As I said above.

    Do you seriously think if there had previously been no anti-nuclear movement in the UK, if (for instance) Sizewell blew up it wouldn’t immediately arise?

    And as I said, I am personally cautiously in favour of more nukes.

    Cautious because of the high cost and my uncertain view of the sustainability of the fuel cycle.

  351. victorpetri says:

    On Greenpeace, the following statement says it all: it accidentally preemptively released a press release in Philadelphia in 2006 that said, “In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world’s worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE].”
    They pursuit a narrow ideological agenda, and are one of the most anti scientific of the well respected organisations.

    On nuclear energy I have my doubts. My natural instinct would be to be in favor. Despite some fuck ups, it is perhaps the safest of all energy sources, in Watt per lives lost for example. I’d be surprised if Fukushima will be “lost for generations”, Chernobyl isn’t.
    But as is, it is quite expensive, and new reactors are bound to be even more expensive.

  352. vp,
    You’re missing the point. I don’t think anyone (certainly not me) is defending Greenpeace. I think their anti-nuclear stance is damaging. The point is two-fold. Not all “warmists” (as you might put it) are associated with Greenpeace. Secondly, the idea that Greenpeace is the only organisation pushing potentially damaging policy options is absurd.

  353. David Blake says:

    @aTTP,
    “It appears that you are absolving yourself (and your fellow “skeptics”) of any responsibility.”
    Well my position is that through the melee and bad tempered arguing of “deniers” Vs “alarmists” (read Liverpool FC Vs Manchester United FC) there is one thing that all (sensible) members of each group can unite behind: Nuclear power (think the England team).

    The thing that’s stopping that blisful reunion is Greenpeace nagging about the cost of the replica England strip, and did you know it was made in a sweatshop, and it’s ludicrous to have an England football team made out of just men – it should be more gender neutral, and playing sport demonises the loser who may be scarred psychologically, and national sport is just another metaphor for imperialism…

    I may have made some of that up.

    ” I think the way you’ve framed your argument is classically unhelpful.”
    Why? Nuclear power is the currently best available answer to many problems. One that would please both sides of the debate. What is stopping it happening? Campaigns and scaremongering about Nuclear. Who is doing the campaigns and scaremongering? Greenpeace (et al).

    Look at Germany (where much of GP’s money comes from, and where they have the largest support base). GP campaign. They shut down Nuclear, and …. build new coal plants in its place. This is despite having (I think I read) the largest numbers of solar panels in Europe, and second highest number of windmills. And now they produce the most CO2 in Europe and have to break their climate change commitments:

    http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/gabriel-beim-klimaschutz-ist-das-ziel-nicht-zu-halten-a-1003183.html

    !!!

  354. David,
    You’re still doing it. I’m not trying to (or interested in) defending Greenpeace. Why do you feel it necessary to continue demonising them?

  355. David Blake says:

    @ VTG,

    >>”No, the main ones stoking it are the nuclear industry and their own demonstrated inability to sort out their own issues over a period of generations. As I said above.”
    May I (cautiously) suggest, that with that you’ve bought into some of the GP propaganda? The stats say (as I’m sure you know) that Nuclear is one of the safer methods of power generation. I beleive that close to as many people have died falling off roofs while fitting solar panels than died at Chernobyl, and yet Solar panels are “all peachy”. 171,000 people died when the Banquo Hydroelectric dam failed, yet hydropower is “all peachy”.

    Some of the “issues” have been scaremongered out of all proportion – like storage of Nuclear waste, which hugely impacts the profitability of any new nuclear. Who did the scaremongering? It wasn’t the nuclear industry.

    >>”Do you seriously think if there had previously been no anti-nuclear movement in the UK, if (for instance) Sizewell blew up it wouldn’t immediately arise?””
    I hope people would be sensible about it, and demand the building of new, safer nuclear (e.g. Liquid Thorium for example, that can’t melt down – because it’s already melted.).

    P.s. I’m happily typing this away while producing next to no CO2 (except the stuff I’m breathing out), can you say the same? I live in France.

  356. Andrew Dodds says:

    vtg –

    Yes, I agree that a major nuclear push should also include complete transparency and a culture in which people and their managers get bonuses for finding safety issues.

    This is why I’m a theoretical cornucopian, as opposed to a ‘cornucopia is going to happen’ cornucopian

  357. Joshua says:

    David –

    It’s difficult to know where to start having a fruitful discussion if you make statements like this:

    ==> “Greenpeace (and her ilk), I would argue are the *main* ones “stoking it”. ”

    and this:

    ==> “The only thing in the way – are the greens! ”

    Certainly, the approach to risk assessment as seen w/r/t nuclear energy, in a large segment of the public – that extends wider than the influence of Greenpeace of Greens more generally – is consistent with the approach to assessment we see w/r/t many other issues. For example, the “war on terror” or even the “war on drugs.”

    and how about this?:

    ==> “They need to be shut down, & outlawed on two counts.”

    Really? Shut down and outlawed?

    So here we go…if you’re willing to walk back those comments (we all get hyperbolic at times),we could discuss how you propose to build out the level of nuclear energy in the States that exists with France, given the widespread opposition to “sociallsm,” centralized policies, and federal intervention in the “free market”

    If you’re not willing to walk back those comments, don’t bother responding.

  358. matt says:

    @ David Blake,
    With you on go nuclear (although only partial as cheaper to have renewables too). Unfortunately it doesn’t please some greens, NIMBers and ppl unduly scared after Fukishima (nukes can be safe, Fukishima wasn’t).

    Kahan found the further to the left on the political spectrum, the further peoples beliefs stray from the scientific consensus on the safety of nuclear waste disposal. No nuance here.

    There are tea-partiers that support renewables (mainly personal solar but also community level projects) because of its distributed nature (being against the monopoly power of large utilities).

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-12/tea-party-s-green-faction-fights-for-solar-in-red-states.html
    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115582/solar-power-fight-raging-gop

    Also agree that greenpeaces position is ridiculous. But then u would say
    Nuclear: Listen to the scientists
    ACC: Don’t listen to the scientists

    Think you greatly overestimate the power of GP though.

  359. OPatrick says:

    On Greenpeace, the following statement says it all: it accidentally preemptively released a press release in Philadelphia in 2006 that said, “In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world’s worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE].”

    The ‘all’ presumably being that someone in Greenpeace has a somewhat acid sense of humour. Interesting that this could be viewed by anyone as saying everything you need to say about Greenpeace.

  360. andrew adams says:

    David,

    As far as I can see the thing preventing expansion of nuclear power is the cost and difficulty of building nuclear power stations. I don’t know where you’re located but if you’re in the UK you will know that it has taken our government years of negotiations to sign a deal to build the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, and they had to guarantee a strike price twice the current market rate. Every nuclear plant under construction in Europe seems to be behind schedule and over budget. As a non-expert I find this a bit bewildering given that nuclear power has been around so long, but it’s certainly nothing to do with Greenpeace.

  361. Willard says:

    > Economic growth in the third world is positively related to economic growth in the developed world.

    By the same token, we could argue that the growth of the oil industry is positively correlated with the growth of climate science:

    The money for climate research is ”only one-tenth of 1 percent of what Exxon Mobil will spend over the same time exploring and developing new sources of oil and gas,” said Pete Altman, the coordinator of a shareholder group pressing to change the company’s environmental practices. That development, Mr. Altman said, ”is what is causing global warming in the first place.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/21/us/exxon-led-group-is-giving-a-climate-grant-to-stanford.html

    Another meme, another ClimateBall episode.

  362. verytallguy says:

    David Blake,

    short of time so you get a line by line

    May I (cautiously) suggest, that with that you’ve bought into some of the GP propaganda?
    *suggest away*

    The stats say (as I’m sure you know) that Nuclear is one of the safer methods of power generation.
    *Yes, I know this. I’ve actually trained in Nuclear Engineering and conducted Safety Reviews of high hazard non-nuclear installations*

    I beleive that close to as many people have died falling off roofs while fitting solar panels than died at Chernobyl
    *sounds about right*

    , and yet Solar panels are “all peachy”
    *if you want to debate with me, please address my arguments rather than make up your own*

    . 171,000 people died when the Banquo Hydroelectric dam failed, yet hydropower is “all peachy”.
    *if you want to debate with me, please address my arguments rather than make up your own*

    Some of the “issues” have been scaremongered out of all proportion
    *yes*

    – like storage of Nuclear waste, which hugely impacts the profitability of any new nuclear.
    *convince me. What proportion of Hinkley costs are waste disposal?*

    Who did the scaremongering? It wasn’t the nuclear industry.
    *Well, duh! Why was there scaremongering? Because of a history of accidents, dishonesty and broken promises from the nuclear industry*

    I hope people would be sensible about it,
    *rejecting techmology which you were told repeatedly was safe and resulted in the long term evacuation of a significant urbanm area seems pretty sensible to me*

    and demand the building of new, safer nuclear (e.g. Liquid Thorium for example, that can’t melt down – because it’s already melted.).
    *if it’s so good, why isn’t Hunkley Thorium based?*

    P.s. I’m happily typing this away while producing next to no CO2 (except the stuff I’m breathing out), can you say the same? I live in France.
    *I’ve already said I’m in favour of more nukes. Why are you misrepresenting me?*

  363. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD, that LSE student’s blog didn’t give a source for her $900 billion but it was very likely a report by Global Finance Integrity. If so then she was wrong to ascribe it to the ‘illicit malpractices of multinational companies’. The bulk of it is due to trade misinvoicing and…

    ‘GFI makes no estimate as to how much of IFFs [illicit financial flows] arising from trade misinvoicing are attributable to multinational corporations or locally owned businesses. None of our data sources reveal such information.’

    http://www.gfintegrity.org/issue/trade-misinvoicing/

    http://www.gfintegrity.org/issues/illicit-financial-flows-analytical-methodologies-utilized-global-financial-integrity/

    Note also that GFI’s IFF estimates don’t include legal tax avoidance. (Yes, BBD, I do realize that tax avoidance by multinationals is probably greater than their tax evasion. And no, I’m not defending either. So put your war bonnet away.)

    GFI reckons that Nigeria lost $142 billion to IFFs between 2002 and 2011:

    http://www.gfintegrity.org/issues/data-by-country/

    A pinch of salt with those numbers. Not even GFI makes great claims for them.

  364. BBD says:

    I know all this, Vinny. It makes exactly zero difference to the points I made above, so I can only conclude that your are once again trying to undermine those arguments while innocently protesting that you are doing no such thing.

    You know what I think of behaviour like that.

    * * *

    This December 2013 report from Global Financial Integrity, “Illicit Financial Flows from the Developing World: 2002-2011,” finds that the developing world lost US$5.9 trillion in illicit financial flows from 2002-2011, with illicit outflows alarmingly increasing at an average rate of more than 10 percent per year.

    […]

    Primary Findings

    The developing world lost US$946.7 billion in illicit outflows in 2011, an increase of 13.7% over 2010. The capital outflows stem from crime, corruption, tax evasion, and other illicit activity.

    The report finds that from 2002 to 2011, developing countries lost US$5.9 trillion to illicit outflows. The outflows increased at an average inflation-adjusted rate of 10.2% per year over the decade—significantly outpacing GDP growth.

    As a percentage of GDP, Sub-Saharan Africa suffered the biggest loss of illicit capital. Illicit outflows from the region averaged 5.7% of GDP annually. Globally, illicit financial outflows averaged 4% of GDP.

    More.

    This May 2013 report jointly produced by Global Financial Integrity and the African Development Bank finds that, from 1980 to 2009, developing African countries lost up to $1.4 trillion in net resource transfers, which are comprised of both licit and illicit flows, including investment, remittances, debt relief, and illicit financial flows.

    The implications of this report are broad. Despite foreign aid, natural resource exports, and other transfers, developed countries still take away more resources than they give to Africa.

    […]

    The resource drain on Africa over the past thirty years is almost equivalent to Africa’s current GDP. This represents a major drag on African development, and dwarfs much of the effort that donor countries undertake to boost the continent’s struggling economies.

    The report recommends several policies, including:

    – Require banks and tax havens to regularly report to the Bank of the International Settlements (BIS) detailed deposits by sector, maturity, and country of residence of deposit holders.

    – Address the problem of shell companies by requiring that all corporations, foundations, and trusts confirm beneficial ownership information in all banking and securities accounts.

    – Address capacity issues and corruption domestically within African tax authorities.

    – Pursue automatic cross-border exchange of tax information on personal and business accounts, ideally on a multilateral basis.

    More.

  365. BBD says:

    And this is just a lie:

    A pinch of salt with those numbers. Not even GFI makes great claims for them.

    As ever, I am struggling hard to remain civil with you.

  366. Vinny Burgoo says:

    2+2=4

  367. pbjamm says:

    austrartsua your argument seems to be that we should not enact solutions that we understand because it might be very expensive and people 40 years hence may discover an even better solution to the problem.
    Thing is there is no guarantee that they will discover it or implement it. They, like we, might decide that the solution is too expensive for them and wait for another breakthrough to save them. It is foolish and selfish and irresponsible.

    As for David Blake and his yammering on about Greenpeace, who the hell cares about them? Non one here is defending them. Many of us think that nuclear power is likely to be required to ween civilization off of coal. They are very expensive to build and tear down largely because of regulations but since the cost of error is so high I do not think that unreasonable. If you are working with dangerous things you take precautions that is sensible.

  368. BBD says:

    Yes Vinny

    The corporate theft of billions from the worlds poor = 4

    Why do you do this?

  369. Willard says:

    > Why do you do this?

    I can’t speak for Vinny. What I can say, though, is that he’s associating your flames to the police beatings in 1984.

    Does Vinny ask himself who’s John Galt?

  370. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD: What are these points of yours that are totally unaffected by ‘hard numbers’ about multinational wickedness that turn out to be somewhat soft? Multinationals are evil therefore… what, exactly? Ban them from Africa? Abolish them entirely? Insist that all resource extraction, commercial agriculture, infrastructure development etc. cease in Africa until governance is strong enough to oversee such things without the profits from them leaking abroad?

    Or perhaps you are just complaining about tax havens?

  371. BBD says:

    Offshore is a central problem Vinny. Are you denying this?

    You do sound remarkably like an apologist for corporate theft from developing economies.

  372. BBD says:

    Seriously, Vinny – what prompted you to write this:

    Or perhaps you are just complaining about tax havens?

    I would very much like to understand why you said that.

  373. Ian Forrester says:

    DB asked:

    Nuclear power is the currently best available answer to many problems. One that would please both sides of the debate. What is stopping it happening?

    I will give the answer at the end of my post. To get a nuclear plant built you need to hold a hand with three winning cards. You need to have a place to build it, you need to get regulatory approval and you need to have a customer willing to pay what you ask. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

    Well let’s look at an actual case in Alberta. Plans were drawn up to build a nuclear reactor to provide energy for upgrading tarsands bitumen. After many discussions a location was found where the locals were in favour of a nuclear plant in their back yard (Peace River). Regulatory approval was given and agreements were drawn up for the energy to be used for upgrading bitumen. Sounds all peachy doesn’t it? However, the people promoting the plant were not playing three card brag as most people thought but switched to poker where you need at least four winning cards to win.

    The company withdrew their proposal. No reasons were given but you don’t need a degree (or do economists get a “radian”) in physics or economics to see that the hidden card that the company wanted was government financial support.

    So the answer to “what is stopping it?” is nuclear costs too much. And that is probably without including all the externalized costs like clean up and disposal of radio active waste. I hope DB doesn’t sit on the coffee table he wants made of the waste since it will do nasty things to his manhood.

  374. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD, why are you particularly interested in my asking of that question?

  375. BBD says:

    On defending the indefensible (cont.):

    BBD: What are these points of yours that are totally unaffected by ‘hard numbers’ about multinational wickedness that turn out to be somewhat soft?

    So you want to argue over exactly how many hundreds of billions are stolen every year? Is that it? Do you win if it’s less than, say, $500bn USD? $300bn USD? $100bn USD? How many hundreds of billions of dollars is it okay to steal from the poor each year?

  376. BBD says:

    Vinny

    It’s exceptionally weak to respond to a question with a question. I asked you because I want an answer.

  377. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD, you sound remarkably like someone who, when asked for directions, would say, ‘Well, soor, I wouldn’t start from here.’

  378. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD, I asked you several. I want answers and I want them now! Now, do you hear! Now!

  379. BBD says:

    Just answer the fucking question please, Vinny

  380. Rachel M says:

    BBD and Vinny, this is getting a bit out of hand and very off-topic. Let’s drop it, thanks.

  381. Vinny Burgoo says:

    [Mod: Yeah, sorry Vinny, this one has to go]

  382. BBD says:

    Rachel

    Final remark, if you will allow it:

    that you’re not so much interested in bashing corporate practices in Africa but in bashing tax avoidance/evasion generally.

    They are one and the same thing, Vinny. What I wanted to know is why you are trying to create an artificial distinction between them. Something usually done by apologists as a tactic of misdirection.

    [Mod: Last sentence a bit inflammatory so I removed it. It’s fine to continue with the discussion, just not the back and forth of “answer the fucking question”]

  383. Ian Forrester says:

    vp, stop the insulting language!

    WTF, so subsidence farming is the way to go for Africa; it is people like YOU that are keeping Africa poor.

    Stop making up things I didn't say. I said that the best opportunity for the poor in Africa is to give them back the control of their land so they can produce food for themselves and an excess to sell. You at deliberately putting words in peoples' mouths. That is dishonest, and is a nasty trick of you and your ilk who seem to think that the multinational corporations are the cure for all the world's ills. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Your ideas will turn Africa into the same state as has happene4d in South America. Argentina is a prime example where multinational corporations have stolen the land from the indigenous people and forced them off the land. Most of them had no other place to go than the slums of the large cities. Those in smaller communities are having their health ruined by the indiscriminate use of toxic chemicals on the land.

    http://tinyurl.com/mzmpb22

    Please stop spreading your nonsense about the reasons for poverty. You are the one doing damage not me. An apology is expected but I doubt if it will be forthcoming!

  384. Joshua says:

    willard –

    ==> “By the same token, we could argue that the growth of the oil industry is positively correlated with the growth of climate science”

    Yes, but higher global temps is negatively correlated with the number of pirates.

    vhttp://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/pirateday-2010.jpg

    But ya’ never thought about that, didcha?

  385. Meow says:

    Once again I am puzzled by the argument that we will be unable to adapt to energy that is no longer “cheap”, but we will have no problem adapting to much-increased crop failure, less-productive oceans, widespread coastal flooding, stronger storms, and all of these put together.

  386. Meow,
    Yes, that’s an irony I’ve also had some trouble trying to understand. There seem to be some who are quite happy to say “we’re clever and adaptable, we’ll work something out” but who never seem to be willing to recognise that if so (which I would agree is true) we could simply go ahead and do so now.

  387. Marco says:

    Nice to see Ian showing up an confirming what some have pointed out: the inconsistency in accepting the majority of work by scientists in the climate field, and then ignoring that same majority in another field.

    GMWatch is the WUWT of the GMO field. Dissident scientists, a conspiracy to keep papers out of the literature (and then cite papers to support a ‘skeptical’ position from this same literature, although commonly in bottom-feeding journals), non-experts touted as experts, it’s all there. The only thing GMWatch does not yet have is its own group of ‘experts’ who do their own analyses and tell them scientists they don’t know nothing.

  388. Marco,
    You mean that the GMWatch can’t find experts to match the 58 presented by the Heartland Institute? (IMO, any organisation that present Delingpole, Monckton, Booker and Helmer as “climate science experts” really should not be taken seriously, but I’m guessing most people don’t need me to point that out).

  389. Eli Rabett says:

    Why does Victor Petri hate Africans?

    Every economic analysis agrees that sub Saharan Africa will be hit hardest by climate change. Moreover thanks to recent developments solar and wind are much less expensive in the backwoods (back jungles??) than central power.

    So why do you hate the African poor?

  390. Meow says:

    Puzzling quote of the day, from somewhere above:

    Wind turbines spoil the very thing we’re trying to save – the environment.

    Please explain. And no, the idea that the view from Nantucket might be slightly different when Cape Wind is built does not count as “spoil[ing]…the environment”.

  391. Ian Forrester says:

    I wondered how long it would take Marco to show up, he must have me quick linked somehow.

    For those readers who do not follow the GMO debate as closely as I do his comments regarding GMWatch are just rubbish. It is an ad hominem comment to equate them to WUWT. Real scientists and peer reviewed papers are referenced by GMWatch.

    if Marco was as honest as he is wont to tell us he would realize that there is no “consensus” that GMOs and their associated technologies are both beneficial and safe. The GMO promoters are just as dishonest as the AGW deniers, in fact many of these people are in both camps.

    It has always puzzled me why seemingly knowledgeable people are able to see through the dishonest nonsense put out by the AGW deniers but fail to see that the same sort of nonsense is put our by the GMO promoters.

    Climate science is relatively simple compared to the biochemistry surrounding genes and gene regulation so it may be harder for those without the necessary knowledge to see where potential problems lie. Of course, as well as potential problems there are many actual problems which have been identified, and in deed were predicted to happen. Herbicide resistant weeds, insecticide resistant insects, health effects of glyphosate. It just shows the lack of thinking by those promoting GMOs that they assumed that since glyphosate inhibited an enzyme which was not present in animals that it would have no ill effects at all. Just read up on inhibition of the retinoic acid signalling pathway to see how wrong that idea. was. The poor people in Argentina are now reaping the negative health effects of glyphosate with an greatly increased incidence of spina bifida and other neural tube defects.

    So Marco, either please read up on all the negative effects of GMOs or stop criticizing me when I produce evidence of those nasty side effects.

    African countries are doing the right thing by being extremely cautious about encouraging the use of GMOs. They have seen what happened in South America.

  392. Okay, GMOs is an area about which I know very little. I have enough trouble moderating a blog that focuses on one contentious science area. I’m not sure I could survive dealing with having to moderate a discussion about a second contentious science topic 🙂

  393. David Blake says:

    @Meow,

    >>”Wind turbines spoil the very thing we’re trying to save – the environment… Please explain. ”

    I think it was me who said that. Turbines obviously need certain geography to be effective: high ground in open country, mainly. Unfortunately in the UK and France where I have most experience of them those high ground open countryside sites happen predominately in areas of outstanding beauty. Moorland, or hill ranges. It means that we’re always looking at the bloody things (standing idle most of the time…).

    I wouldn;t mind if they were built somewhere that’s already ugly; an industrial estate, for example, but they aren’t. It’s always some beautiful environment that they spoil.

    The same isn’t true for most other types of power station. Their land area (solar and hydro excepted) is just so much smaller. Off shore is better, but the costs multiply.

  394. No people rejecting nuclear and GMO are not the same as mitigation sceptics. That would be the case if those people would deny the existence of atoms or genes. A considerable amount of blogs claim that CO2 does not lead to global warming, the category 5 blogs of GlobalWarmingSolved. And in the comments of blogs that officially support that CO2 produces some warming there is much dissent against this liberal compromise position. There is a consensus among the Tea Party mitigation sceptics that global warming is a very low risk.

    These groups would be similar if mitigation sceptics would only argue is that the impacts will be more rosy and mitigation more costly. Once humans and politics comes into play, there are no reliable scientific positions any more, that part is legitimate political debate. And these studies are performed by small number of scientists, who have an interest in trying to claim that their topic is important by linking it to climate change. If the conspiracy theories of mitigation sceptics were limited to such preliminary work by small groups not strongly connected to the whole body of the natural sciences, rather than to mature climate science, I would not object, although I would not do that myself without careful study. Science is not holy, it is my work to show that it is wrong.

    I am personally shocked that it is possible in the GMO community that a scientific paper is possible that a paper is rejected by a journal (apparently because it is politically inconvenient), rather than by the author (possibly after some pressure by the national science foundation) because of procedural errors or fraud. Up to that moment, I had assumed that only authors could reject their papers. Can someone more knowledgeable correct me, but the only reason for the rejection I heard was that the study used an untypical kind of animal for the lab tests. If true it would be even more damning. That is just doing something different and even if it was wrong, that is not a reason to reject a paper. If your papers is not found to be wrong one day, it was not interesting.

  395. ATTP, sorry I wrote that before I read your comment.

  396. Victor,
    I don’t object to a discussion as such; I just would rather it were interesting and informative, than something that might require moderating.

  397. pbjamm says:

    David Blake,
    ‘Ruin the environment’ does not equate to your totally subjective aesthetic that windmills are ugly. They have been lining highways in California for decades and I do not find them the least bit unsightly. Quite the opposite. What I do find ugly is smog and the hideous industrial oil refineries that also dot the landscape here in Southern California.

  398. Ian Forrester says:

    Victor Venema, I will with ATTP’s indulgence (i promise not to post too much on GMOs after this, I think I have made my point) outline what happened with the paper you are referring to. The GMO shills were quick to rebut that paper. They made a great fuss about how it didn’t use accepted protocols, that it used the wrong strain of rat etc. This is in fact wrong. They used a protocol established by EFSA. In fact Monsanto and collaborators used this protocol in four papers they had published in the same journal which retracted Seralini’s paper. The only difference was that the Seralini study lasted for 2 years whereas the Monsanto studies lasted for only 90 days. Same strain of rats same number per experimental group (except that there are concerns that the Monsanto study had twice as many rats per group but only 50% were selected for study. That is not good science, who decided which rats and on what reasons?).

    So any arguments about experimental protocol are bogus. Why is it considered bad science when studies show harm and good science when they show no ill effects?

    Now lets have a look at the Journal editors. Wallace Hayes, the Editor in Chief at the journal in question has a long history of disinformation and support of industry while he was associated with the tobacco industry. Check out:

    http://tinyurl.com/lgbkhyg

    Shortly after the paper was published Hayes hired ex Monsanto employee Richard Goodman to the newly created post of associate editor for biotechnology. Talk about conflict of interest.

    Hayes admitted, when questioned, that the paper did not contain any of the only four categories which are deemed acceptable by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) for retraction.

    I hope I have answered your questions Victor. This will be my last comment on GMOs on this thread unless Marco comes back and insults me and my intelligence which he has done before.

  399. guthrie says:

    Certainly in the UK, every area of ‘natural beauty’ has been altered specifically for and by man for his/ her own purposes; wind turbines are merely the latest chapter in a story which goes back 8 or 9 thousand years.

  400. Marco says:

    ATTP, I accept you don’t want to get that discussion going here, so I won’t respond to the GMO science part. However, in a thread about “balance” it is sad to see someone refer to such a blatant advocacy website; I couldn’t let that go.

    And no, Ian, I am not stalking you. I frequent ATTP more than you do if comments are any reasonable measure. Just don’t think you can keep promoting GMWatch unchallenged – not in the presence of a scientist who knows a lot of plant biotechnologists who get sick and tired of the nonsense spread by sites like that.

  401. Marco says:

    Victor: “I had assumed that only authors could reject their papers”. That’s not the case. Papers can and have been retracted without the authors’ consent.

  402. > Unfortunately in the UK and France where I have most experience of them those high ground open countryside sites happen predominately in areas of outstanding beauty.

    Nothing compares to the view one can have at Prudhoe Bay:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Alaska_Pipeline_System

    Stanlow used to offer a marvelous view on the sea:

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

    Most of the ports in the world are built next to a stupendous body of water. The view from the New York Harbour has been completely destroyed with the port:

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

    Think of what happened with the Great Lakes:

    Et cetera.

  403. Rachel M says:

    Willard,

    The image of the Trans-Alaska pipeline needs to be embedded in a comment –


    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Alaska_Pipeline_System

    It annoys me a bit when people complain about the appearance of wind farms while remaining silent on fossil fuel infrastructure.

    I happen to live in Aberdeen, the oil capital of Europe. The harbour in Aberdeen is butt-ugly thanks to the oil industry. I took this pic a few weeks ago –

  404. Ian Forrester says:

    I won’t respond to Marco’s ad hominen comment.

  405. Mal Adapted says:

    Ian Forrester:

    I won’t respond to Marco’s ad hominen comment.

    Outstanding! You responded to say you won’t respond, except to respond that Marco’s comment was ad hominem. You owe me a new keyboard 8^D!

  406. Ian Forrester says:

    Mal Adapted I could have responded with a long piece on his misinformation, dishonesty and GM industry clap trap. ATTP will be thankful that I did not. As a scientist who has had experience in some of the ill effects of GM technology all I can say is i am extremely disturbed that some scientists cannot see the problems associated with this technology.

  407. Meow says:

    On wind turbines and views being “spoiled”, everything is a tradeoff. You use fossil fuels, you risk severe climate effects. You use nukes, you risk Fukushima. You use large-scale hydro, you “spoil” lots of views, flood large areas of land, and mess up the fish. I consider the tradeoff of wind turbines on hilltops to be a good one if the locations are chosen to optimize power production. Offshore is better in terms of duty cycle and power density, but is also more expensive to install.

    In any case, nothing supports your original assertion that ‘Wind turbines spoil the very thing we’re trying to save – the environment.” At most they impede someone’s view, something far short of “spoil[ing]…the environment”. Now, dumping 10 gigatons of carbon into the air year after year, yeah, that *does* spoil the environment.

  408. Apophasis is a rhetorical device wherein the speaker or writer brings up a subject by either denying it, or denying that it should be brought up. Accordingly, it can be seen as a rhetorical relative of irony. Paralipsis is usually employed to make a subversive ad hominem attack, which makes it a frequently used tactic in political speeches to make an attack on one’s opponent. Using paralipsis in this way is often considered to be bad form.

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

  409. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Rachel, that pipeline photo was taken from a tarmaced road (the Richardson Highway).

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@63.7450062,-145.8602238,7794m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e4

    Naughty roads, to allow views of such things!

    Re the Aberdeen photo, none of those cars looks quite Scottish enough. Do you want to buy a Mazda Demio that spent most of its life up there? Fantastic all-round visibility – it’s like sitting in a popemobile – and the rear seats fold to form a *fully* flat load area. On the negative side, it’s as rusty as hell underneath and would need at least £300 of welding to get it through an MOT. Also it needs a new parking brake cable. And possibly some new bearings on one of the front wheels. And the rear brakes might – but only might – need some attention. Engine magnificent for 90k. Recent cam belt. Starts first time and could be driven home to Scotland on one tank without problems (except from the police if you didn’t tax and MOT it first). £450 ONO.

  410. BBD says:

    On concern for the poor:

    [Vinny:] BBD: What are these points of yours that are totally unaffected by ‘hard numbers’ about multinational wickedness that turn out to be somewhat soft?

    So you want to argue over exactly how many hundreds of billions are stolen every year? Is that it? Do you win if it’s less than, say, $500bn USD? $300bn USD? $100bn USD? A bit less? How many hundreds of billions of dollars is it okay to steal from the poor each year?

    Is there a dollar limit below which it isn’t a crime against humanity?

  411. I have an Aurora International for sale. Superb writer from the 70-80s. Fine, wet line. Some feedback, but not a nail. Takes cartridges only. Contact me if interested.

  412. Eli Rabett says:

    How many telephone poles equal one wind turbine Eli asks?

  413. Another beautiful example of the environment/views being destroyed was when I was student. We lived in a quarter where more and more students moved in. The old white man did not like that and complained that the bikes destroyed their vistas. If you would make an areal photo of those streets you would have to search for the bikes. What you would easily see would be the destruction of the views by continuous rows of cars. I guess, views that annoy are the ones that you politically do not like.

  414. Coal, now that’s something which is truly beautifying:

    Good old mountain top removal.

    ***

    Since Eli is here:

    > The recent nonsense from the Ridleys and Lomborgs about coal being the fuel of development brings back not so fond memories. And, oh yes, coal mine owners have a richly deserved reputation. Not for kindness to their workers and the rest of us.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2014/11/picture-postcards.html

  415. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Eli, about a hundred I reckon. Totally subjective and subject to local variables, natch.

    (Have you noticed that bunnies have finally and irrevocably gone to France?)

  416. An interesting correlation between concerns about our rural landscape and land ownership:

    Bring out the violins. The land reform programme announced last week by the Scottish government is the end of civilised life on Earth, if you believe the corporate press. In a country where 432 people own half the private rural land, all change is Stalinism. The Telegraph has published a string of dire warnings – insisting, for example, that deer stalking and grouse shooting could come to an end if business rates are introduced for sporting estates. Moved to tears yet?

    Yes, sporting estates – where the richest people in Britain, or oil sheikhs and oligarchs from elsewhere, shoot grouse and stags – are exempt from business rates, a present from John Major’s government in 1994. David Cameron has been just as generous with our money: as he cuts essential services for the poor, he has almost doubled the public subsidy for English grouse moors, and frozen the price of shotgun licences, at a public cost of £17m a year.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/03/landowners-scotland-britain-feudal-highland-spring

  417. That said, we’ll always find artful ways to decorate our surrounding:

    Total cost to the taxpayer? Just under $6 billion. This 1974 report from the comptroller general details much of the cost, including $112 million in excess materials, $481 million dollars in “lost effort” and $697 million in “schedule changes.”

    View story at Medium.com

  418. Eli Rabett says:

    Vinny the carrots taste better and the cheese is fantastic

  419. Rachel M says:

    Vinny,

    Rachel, that pipeline photo was taken from a tarmaced road (the Richardson Highway).

    Yes, but do you see me arguing against a form of energy because I think it spoils the view? No. I’m arguing against fossil fuels because they’re changing our climate. People who argue against wind farms because they think they spoil the view, while ignoring the views spoilt by fossil fuel infrastructure are being incredibly biased. For this reason I don’t believe that they really care about the view at all because if they did, they’d be up in arms about other other things like, as you say, roads. The inconsistency of the “spoil the view” argument when applied exclusively to wind farms and nothing else makes me think these people are acting irrationally. It’s my view that the only reason they complain about wind farms is because the greens like wind farms and they don’t like greens.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I do think aesthetics are important but I personally think wind farms look beautiful and I think I have pretty good taste. Even power plants can be designed with aesthetics in mind. The English designer, Thomas Heatherwick, whose work I love, was commissioned a few years ago to design a biomass power plant for for new homes in Middlesbrough. I’m not sure what the status is of this but here’s his design –

    Re the Aberdeen photo, none of those cars looks quite Scottish enough.

    I hadn’t really noticed the makes of cars in that photo. I don’t pay much attention to these things and the cars only add to the ghastly sight. I assume you’re not suggesting the photo was taken elsewhere? I personally took the photo and Aberdeen harbour, the water, is on the other side of those white towers.

  420. Marco says:

    Ian ignores there is a wide world between GMWatch and “cannot see the problems associated with this technology.”

    So, if pointing out GMWatch is a propaganda site and against GMOs for ideological reasons is “misinformation” and makes me “dishonest”, I will gladly accept those labels from Ian. It says a whole lot more about him than about me.

  421. Rachel M says:

    Vinny,

    I can’t imagine you were really questioning the authenticity of my photo being of Aberdeen harbour, but I thought I’d share this little trick anyway, just in case anyone else doubts it.

    Digital cameras these days record information about the photo in what is known as EXIF data (exchangeable image file format). You can download my photo and view this information which includes, amongst other things, the latitude and longitude of my location when I took it (note: this only works when the device is using a cellular network to access the internet. It doesn’t work on wifi). If you’re on a Mac, you can right-click on the image and choose “Get Info” to view it.

    My latitude and longitude when I took that image were:
    latitude: 57.1437
    longitude: -2.0735

    Then you can plug these coordinates into something like http://www.findlatitudeandlongitude.com . I’ve just done this and the blue cross marks the spot –

    I was facing south-west when I took that photo.

  422. Eli Rabett says:

    Well, you can always jump the ferry to Shetland from there.

  423. BBD says:

    How do cars look “Scottish enough”?

  424. Ian Forrester says:

    It says a lot more about Marco’s character when all he can criticize is the messenger. He probably didn’t even read the report GMWatch linked to about the health effects of glyphosate based herbicides in Argentina, which have been well documented but sadly do not get much press in the pro-GM world. For anyone to claim that there are no peer reviewed papers documenting the negative effects of GMOs they must either be blind or completely biased.

    Since this thread is on balance I can only say that among independent scientists there are many many studies to balance those put out by the GMO industry and their sycophants. What is the old saying, never criticize those signing your pay cheque?

  425. Ian Forrester says:

    ATTP sorry about continuing to discuss GMOs but as long as Marco insults me and others who read the literature on the subject I will continue.

  426. Willard says:

    Thank you for proving that this is not an echo chamber, Ian and [Marco].

    Now, if you could trade your hand bags for pistols and meet at Keith’s, that would be appreciated.

    Eli brings the carrots.

  427. Willard says:

    They smell caramel, BBD:

    > Why does my engine smell like butterscotch?

    http://ask.metafilter.com/53644/Strange-engine-odor

  428. anoilman says:

    Vinny, how about some tar sands? Caribou love it I hear!

    You’ll be happy to know that your government is looking into disposing of fracking fluid in your food. So enjoy a nice fresh cup of Toluene before you go to bed every night OK? Bon appetite.

    Willard… is that silo for sale?

    Rachel… good one between the picture and the satellite view.

  429. Rachel M says:

    OilMan,

    Yeah, I should have just posted the Google satellite image which shows what a ghastly mess Aberdeen harbour is thanks to the oil industry.

  430. Marco says:

    Ian, why couldn’t you just have referred to the BBC?
    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27373134
    Is it perhaps because it isn’t alarmist enough? That it points out scientists are not convinced? That it does not put the blame on Monsanto? All that while the BBC even decided to be rather one-sided in its interviews! It even calls Carrasco “one of the most eminent scientists”, even though he was largely unknown everywhere, even in his own field of embryology.

    You insulted me by referring us to GMWatch. Take it like a man, instead of whining about supposedly being insulted by me. I took your completely baseless insults aimed at me for what they are: a badge of honour.

  431. pbjamm says:

    As interesting as a GMO discussion might be I would personally prefer not to muddy the place with more arguments that are really off topic (not physics)
    Of course it is up to ATTP to decide what is appropriate but i vote for sticking to climate and physics.

  432. pbjamm,
    I don’t specifically mind comment threads being dynamic and diverging from the main topic. I’d like the exchanges to be on at least moderately pleasant, especially when it is a topic about which I know little and hence have trouble deciding (or really knowing in any way) which arguments have merit and which don’t. So, maybe Ian and Marco can try to keep it polite, even if they do happen to disagree quite strongly.

  433. Meow says:

    Since ATTP has permitted topic divergence in this thread, I’d like to add a small observation about GMOs.

    The issue is not safety, but personal choice. I like to know what’s in my food, and, using that knowledge, to decide what to eat and what not to eat. After all, it’s my body, not the State’s, not the corporations’, not my grocer’s. Thus, I argue for mandatory GMO labelling. Those who want GMOs or don’t care about them can eat them, and those who don’t want them can avoid them. Note that I might well choose to consume some GMOs. But I still feel that I have the right to choose, again as a matter of personal autonomy and bodily integrity.

  434. Willard says:

    The silo can be expanded to all the memes, Oily One:

    > In a free market two parties meet for a transaction. The price paid is the price where both parties agree upon and feel their lives improve with.

    We could pay due diligence to that argument in many ways. For instance:

    You might be familiar with the name Robert Stein, a former felon from North Carolina, who was paid to oversee reconstruction in northern Iraq after the invasion. Stein awarded millions of dollars’ worth of contracts to his friends in Romania, but was caught, pleaded guilty to fraud in November 2005, and was sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to pay $3.6 million in fines.

    Most of the corruption Stein was involved in was stealing from the Development Fund for Iraq, which had no checks and balances. He used the money to buy weapons, a plane, jewelry, and even prostitutes. But what is most astonishing is not any of his sins. It’s that when he got a contract from the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, to repair a police station in Al Hillah, which required him to turn in proof of work to get paid, this former felon actually did a reasonable job, according to a Special Inspector General Report for Iraq.

    https://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/open-government/report/2011/07/07/10030/recommendations-for-overseeing-government-contractors/

    Free market. Two parties. Transaction. Improved well-being for the parties.

  435. BBD says:

    Willard

    No true Scotsman (or his car) smells of butterscotch.

  436. anoilman says:

    Marco… I don’t know if you know this, but Dr. Forrester works directly on the same stuff Monsanto does. He’s tracked down a lot of dirt on their changes to laws which snafus the competition. At least in Canada anyways.

    I’m of two minds on GMO, I get the relatively clear benefits, but to my eyes we are limiting our genetic stock, potentially unlocking catastrophic genetic codes. This kind of discussion comes up a lot in medicine these days. i.e. what are the risks of xenotransplantation? We are exposing cells which currently have no way to actually touch in the real world.

    I don’t need to be ‘alarmist’ to point out that viruses/bacteria evolve to exploit weaknesses found in the wild. GMO is creating codes that don’t currently exist, and potentially unlocking something we don’t want.

    For a lark here’s One Green Mother From Outer Space

    But Willard… Is it for sale? Remember I’m naught but a simple engineer. I really want talking about owning my own Illuminati pyramid That would be cool! 🙂

    Heil Hydra!

  437. Willard says:

    Sometimes, it’s tough to know who are the parties involved in an economic transaction:

    The case in question refers to a licencing payment that the Nigerian subsidiaries of Shell and Italy’s ENI made in 2011 to develop a lucrative, offshore oil block. The money allegedly ended up in the bank account of a private firm, Malabu Oil and Gas, owned by Nigeria’s former oil minister, Dan Etete, now under criminal investigation for his involvement in the affair.

    Shell has sought to distance itself from the scandal. The British-Dutch company says it paid the Nigerian government, not Malabu, and that it acted lawfully “at all times”. Exactly how much Shell and ENI knew about the final destination of their payment remains unclear, however. Global Witness cites court evidence which suggests that Shell negotiated directly with Etete. The company denies the claim.

    Regardless of who paid what to whom, there is one clear loser in the whole affair: the Nigerian public. After nearly six decades of oil exploration, the West African petrodollar state has become a watchword for corruption and missed developmental opportunities. The recent abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by terrorist militia demonstrates the lawless, fragile existence that faces many everyday Nigerians.

    http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/shell-nigeria-oil-payment-corruption-scandal

    Wait. What have these schoolgirls to do with this transaction between Shell, ENI, and some unknown party, classical economists wonder?

    Here’s where “but alarmism” comes handy.

  438. Rachel M says:

    I’m happy to eat GM foods. A voice of reason for me is, as always, Peter Singer, who thinks it best to consider GM foods on a case by case basis. He thinks there should be regulations but that there is a strong case for some GM foods like rice which has been genetically modified to include beta carotene to reduce vitamin A deficiency in the developing world. According to WHO, vitamin A deficiency causes blindness in about 250,000-500,000 pre-school children each year. Singer says, “a GM crop that has the potential to prevent blindness in a half-million children would be worth growing even if it does involve some risks.”

    GM foods might also become more important with climate change if crops can be found to better resist drought.

    I agree that there have been some unscrupulous businesses practises by some of the large agri-business companies, but this is a problem with the industry itself rather than the technology.

  439. David Blake says:

    @aTTP,

    “I don’t specifically mind comment threads being dynamic and …”
    While you are in this good mood and feeling at one with the world, and blessed with your position as benefactor and saviour of us all – I have a on-topic and reasonable comment stuck “in moderation” for 5 hours on the other thread. Have a look. Ta.

  440. David,
    Sorry, but you had an on-topic, but wrong, comment that I decided not to post on the other thread. Enough people have now explained why IR only heating the surface of the ocean is not an argument against AGW. I doubt that going through that again will have a different impact to what it had before.

  441. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Rachel, no I didn’t doubt it was Aberdeen. Just trying to flog a car while a wee bit blootered.

    BBD, in my limited – and never to be repeated – experience truly Scottish cars are rustbuckets. The local garage blamed the rust on global weirding (the car must have sat for weeks in one of these newfangled climate change floods we keep hearing about, they said) but I reckon it’s more likely to have been the result of all the salt they put on the roads up there.

    Which, for some here, probably proves that I’m in denial.

    (The price has gone up: £600. You collect. For £800, I’ll deliver it to any climate change-themed museum or art installation/intervention in mainland UK. £900 if it’s in NI. £1000 for the Republic.)

  442. Marco says:

    I think Rachel said it best: unscrupulous business practices are a problem of the industry itself, not of the technology. Rejecting science because of the former is in my book almost the same as rejecting climate science because of the proposed policies.

  443. BBD says:

    and blessed with your position as benefactor and saviour of us all

    ‘E’s a good lad, but who knew?

    Vinny

    Salty water does indeed promote corruption, sorry, corrosion.

    I appreciate the peddling gag, but couldn’t you have come up with something more entertaining that a dodgy motor? Like, oh, a collection of ear-wax spoons, ancient to late Victorian, or boxed, new old stock XBTs circa 1982 (half dozen)?

  444. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Dodgy?

    (I’ll throw in a roof rack. And instructions on how to buy an auto-translated owners’ manual from Japan.)

  445. David Blake says:

    @aTTP,

    Well blow me down. Since when does a link to a NASA presentation, a link to a paper, and a link to a university lecture constitute “wrong”?
    Are you having one of those Pavovian reactions again aTTP? 😀

  446. David,
    You may already know this, but data – by itself – tells you little. Interpreting the data (pictures) is what’s really important. Linking to a NASA presentation, a paper, and a university lecture and then inferring something from that, doesn’t mean that what you inferred was correct (it wasn’t).

  447. David Blake says:

    @aTTP,

    Wouldn’t it be nice for the poor sops that come by later to know the “mistake” that I’d made, and through your wise counter-arguments, learn from the experience? Else they may later find the same data and be misguided by (that demon) common sense and make the same “mistake” as little old me…

    Think of it as a public service.

  448. David,
    The explanation is already there. I see no reason why anyone would benefit from seeing it again.

  449. Ian Forrester says:

    First of all I’d like to point out that there is a vast difference between “science” and “technology”. There is nothing wrong with the science. However, technology is not just bigger science which many academics and government people seem to think. Technology includes many different factors including economics, environmental effects, health effects, politics and more. Too often scientists, especially those close to the science only see the science and have blinkers on for anything else.

    I’d first like to define what types of genetic modification we are referring to. Just as AGW deniers always like to claim “climate has always changed” GMO promoters like to claim “we have used genetic modification since we first started farming”. There are two types of genetic modification which are commonly called genetic engineering, rDNA and gene silencing or dsRNA.

    When I first heard about rDNA technology in the mid to late 80’s and herbicide resistant crops I was more worried about farmers being tied to one particular strain of crop and one particular herbicide than I was about potential health effects. After all how can the addition of one gene and one seemingly harmless gene product cause any problems. However, there was a complete lack of transparency with the companies so that at first we didn’t know what they were actually adding. It turns out that they were adding a lot more than just one gene. Once I saw what they were adding I became concerned. So did others but when anyone brought up doubts they were quickly silenced with the comment “that will never happen”. Unfortunately many of those things did in fact happen. The most obvious was herbicide resistance which many people predicted. Now we are getting insect resistance, again something which was predicted.

    Now for the potential health effects. One of the genes added to the “cassette” that is added is an antibiotic resistance gene. Many people suggested that that gene might be labile and be transferred to gut bacteria. The idea of horizontal transfer was ridiculed by the industry. However, it has been shown to occur now in many studies. The emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is a major health problem today. Norway has just banned the import of GMO fish food containing antibiotic resistance genes (http://tinyurl.com/nabmaqw. Note this is a Google translation).

    Another gene which I find troubling is the use of a very potent promoter gene. Promoter genes are used to turn on genes naturally. They are added to ensure maximum productivity of the inserted gene(s). Why do I find this troubling? Well There are many genes which are dormant and are only expressed during fetal development or in cancer cells. Turning on these genes by mistake is not advised. This of course can only be categorized as a potential problem but can it be ruled out? No it can’t, certainly not by the usual handwave of “that will never happen”. This is why all “events” have to be evaluated on a case by case basis. The “substantially equivalent” method for regulatory approval should be scrapped, it tells us nothing about potential and actual problem with these crops.

  450. anoilman says:

    Marco: “unscrupulous business practices are a problem of the industry itself, not of the technology”

    This is not a small issue. Its the big f’ing elephant in the room.

    How many businesses want to walk away from a product in development after it fails trials? How cheap is it to doctor the results? What if it cost billions to develop, and the managers only get a bonus if starts to sell?

  451. Steven Mosher says:

    “Putting that to one side though, there are clearly some who think climate sensitivity will be high, but ignore that it might be low, and others who think it will be low and ignore that it might be high. So, maybe this is some kind of symmetry/balance: both groups are being selective in their choice of evidence. Okay, but this is only really symmetric in a scientific sense. In reality, the climate debate is really a debate about risk.”

    and we have a winner.

  452. Steve Bloom says:

    Yes, recharacterizing an argument about low vs. high sensitivity into one about low vs. high risk is such an improvement. Framing it that way even gets agreement from Moshpit (albeit that he took it out of context). Deniers do seem very happy to have a debate focused on them not losing any assets or opportunities for profit during their lifetimes.

    Whatever happened to debating a future where civilization survives to one where it doesn’t due to climate catastrophe? Too impolite and unacademic, I suppose.

    While I’m on the subject, note that the risk paradigm as discussed in the OP more or less assumes that we are discussing future damage that’s not locked in. IMO that’s rather like having wanted to start a debate about the costs and benefits of war with Japan on December 8, 1941.

  453. Steve,
    I’m not quite sure whether Mosher’s comment illustrates agreement or not. I guess what you say in your last paragraph is true, but I’m not sure what else we should do. My preference would be to move forward, rather than focus on what we should/could have done but didn’t.

  454. Marco says:

    I am still hesitant whether this is a good idea, but I am going to do it anyway.

    Ian, you state “So did others but when anyone brought up doubts they were quickly silenced with the comment “that will never happen”. Unfortunately many of those things did in fact happen. The most obvious was herbicide resistance which many people predicted. Now we are getting insect resistance, again something which was predicted.”

    Are you claiming here that the biotech industry and/or scientists claimed that herbicide resistance and insect resistance would not happen? If so, I would like you to provide direct evidence that they made this claim.

  455. anoilman says:

    Marco, That’s a fair question… Be warned… the answer likely predates the internet.

  456. Ian Forrester says:

    Are you being serious Marco? Scientists and others had been aware of resistance to pesticides for many years before GMOs were introduced. That is why farmers and others who used pesticides used a variety of products to lessen or slow up the incidence of resistance.

    So surely this was brought up by the companies but was swept aside. They probably didn’t climb up the church tower and shout it out but they had to know it would happen and couldn’t care less. They probably were sure that they would have several other pesticides in the pipeline to use. This is of course what happened since now are going to get 24D resistant crops.

    Now, as for personal experience in this matter. Yes, i was at a meeting in town where a new start up funded with government money ($30 million) was making a presentation. Now this was in 86 or 87. They were not going to be using rDNA technology to produce a herbicide resistant canola but were going to be using some sort of sophisticated mutation and selection process. They didn’t send their scientists but their marketing person. During his talk he emphasized that this new technology would result in the use of less herbicide.

    After the talk I questioned him on that statement and said that it was more likely that the farmers would have to use more of the herbicide since the weeds would probably become resistant and more and more would be required. He just laughed and said he stood by his original statement that farmers would continue to use less and less and weeds would not become resistant.

    And if you want details the talk was given to a group called CCAT (Calgary Council for Advanced Technology) and was held in the Chamber of Commerce Building. So you can see that that talk left me shaking my head and left an impression in my limited capacity (in your view) brain capacity. The company looking to produce the canola was Biotechnica Canada Inc..The government refused to give them their third tranche of money and the company quietly disappeared. Some of the technology they developed was sold but I don’t think any of it was ever commercialized, certainly not their canola work.

  457. Marco says:

    I doubt it, AOM, since resistance to bt and glyphosate is quite recent.

    What I do not doubt is that there have been sales pitches that will have been more positive than reality, but I do not know of any industrial endeavour where that does not happen.

  458. anoilman says:

    Marco… Dude… You can doubt overly positive sales pitches, but you’d be wrong.

    I work in oil and gas. I know all about sales pitches. How do all the lines work? Wells never leak.. Fracking is a completely safe 60 year old technology… and the farmers are getting rich. Am I missing something? Meanwhile 5% of new wells can’t hold pressure on completion, and that number rises to 60% after 20 years.

  459. Steven Mosher says:

    “I’m not quite sure whether Mosher’s comment illustrates agreement or not. ”

    It does. been saying the same for the longest time. In fact its the basis of the Lukewarmer
    position.

  460. Steve,
    Okay, but maybe I then misunderstand the Lukewarmer position, or some who claim to be are not. As I understand it, the Lukewarmer position is more along the lines of “climate sensitivity will probably be low and therefore we shouldn’t risk economic catastrophe”. I didn’t think it was consistent with the possibility of climate sensitivity being high.

  461. BBD says:

    Steven

    I thought the basis of the lukewarmer position was taking the under-bet. Which I would understand as betting on low S and implicitly excluding the likelihood of S_ff = ~3 or >3.

  462. BBD says:

    Bloody hell ATTP! Stop doing that 😉

  463. Willard says:

    > In fact its the basis of the Lukewarmer position.

    That this is a risk problem does not imply anything regarding climate sensitivity.

  464. Marco says:

    Yes, Ian, I was being serious with my question.

    But at least an acknowledgement that the scientists and industry were actually not saying what I thought you were claiming. That’s a start.

    AOM, I think I made it clear I do not doubt overly positive sales pitches. I see it everywhere. Hardly a product is sold for which the marketing pitch does not claim benefits that do not quite translate to reality. Look at nuclear, look at wind power, look at homeopathy, look at organic farming, etc. etc. etc. Just a minute ago I had an ad on tv come by in which it was proudly announced that the cleaning agent in their product was so wonderfully “mild”, as it breaks down to oxygen and water! In other words, hydrogen peroxide…

  465. anoilman says:

    What’s wrong with Wind? Its cheaper than nuclear, with an added bonus of being viable and insured!

  466. Ian Forrester says:

    Wrong again Marco, I am indeed claiming that the industry (perhaps not the scientists but they are not usually the ones making pronouncements on a particular product) told many people farmers, government regulators etc. that they were not worried about herbicide resistance. The industry only acknowledged it when it became apparent that it was happening. Then they blamed the farmers for inappropriate application technique.

    https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/GWC/GWC-1.pdf

    I especially like this comment in that article:

    Rotate between Roundup Ready and conventional crops

    What they don’t say is that it may be very difficult to get “conventional crops” anymore since they control the seed supply in North America. Secondly, if they find any GMO crop in that field of “conventional crop” they’ll sue the pants of you for misuse of their patents and technology.

    Here is a quotation from a scholarly article discussing the Supreme Court of Canada decision on the Schmeiser vs Monsanto case:

    a. Does a single contamination event permanently contaminate self-saved seed,
    making the seedsaver who grows out their own seed a permanent infringer?

    Apparently yes. The only way to resolve this liability is to destroy your seed – all of it – because there is no way to distinguish contaminated from uncontaminated seed without spraying Roundup, which would itself kill all the uncontaminated seed. If carried to its logical conclusion, this Decision means that you – and every other grower/farmer on the planet – would eventually be obliged to destroy every seed (of crops which have been genetically modified) that was not intentionally fitted with a patented gene(s), to avoid charges of patent infringement.

    Recall that none of the Decisions made in the Schmeiser case stipulated the degree of contamination that was actionable. Is 25% too much? 1%? 0.1%?

    http://www.plant.uoguelph.ca/research/homepages/eclark/pdf/sc.pdf

    Of course any time there is a problem it is easy to blame the farmers:

    http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-17/monsanto-seeking-to-curb-weed-killer-misuse-in-argentina.html

    Real nice people you associate with Marco.

  467. Marco says:

    Ian, you signed the petition of the Institute for Science in Society, correct? Do you then accept you associate yourself to promoters of homeopathy and their unethical practices? If not, you might want to rethink the last comment you addressed to me.

  468. Ian Forrester says:

    I signed an open letter to Wallace Hayes, Editor in Chief, Food and Chemical Toxicology complaining about his anti-science and unethical behaviour in the retraction of a paper for which he could give no valid reasons for doing so. What that has got to do with suggesting that I am a follower of homeopathy beggars belief. You must be really struggling if that is how low and silly you have to go to try and discredit my comments. Surely if you are a scientist you cannot accept the behaviour of Wallace Hayes as a journal editor?

    For those interested here is a link to the open letter:

    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Open_letter_to_FCT_and_Elsevier_signatures.php#signed

    As anyone can see ISIS is intereted in a number of areas of science. I don’t subscribe to ISIS and the original link that took me to the letter was certainly not on their web site.

    By the way you said earlier:

    And no, Ian, I am not stalking you.

    But you managed to find my name on an obscure letter on the innertubes. How long did it take you to find that? I’m surprised that is the only “bad” thing you can find out about me you clearly missed my long criminal record going back about 50 years when I first libeled pseudo scientists.

  469. Eli Rabett says:

    As usual, this is blogging down between different definitions.

    OK Ian and Marco, here is a small, but incomplete taxonomy of GMO

    1) GMO that do not involve exo-genes. (Crop breeding on steroids) For or against

    2) GMO that involve exo-genes designed for some nutritional benefit (Golden Rice) For or against

    3) GMO involving exo-genes designed to enhance growth of a crop. For or against

    4) GMO pharming. For or against

    5) GMO incorporating exo-genes moving natural herbicides into plants (e.g. BT). For or against

    6) GMO manipulation such as Round-up ready allowing broadcast spraying of herbicides. For or against

    7) GMO manipulation of disease vectors designed to eliminate them. (Sexy sterile mosquitos for example) For or against

    8) GMO manipulation of viruses designed to see if they can be made more virulent. For or against (there are those actually doing this claiming that knowing the worst offers some protection)

    Probably not all the possibilities, but at least a start.

  470. Marco says:

    Ian, if you think it is “low and silly” to link you to the homeopathic nonsense on i-sis (and you can add a lot more nonsense on that website, like their promotion of Mangano & Sherman’s idiotic analysis of the Fukushima fall-out), you actually admit it was “low and silly” of you to link me to Monsanto. But clearly you did not rethink your last accusation aimed against me, despite my request to do so if you did *not* consider it appropriate to link you to homeopathy peddlers. In other words, you demand that your comments are treated differently compared to how you treat mine. My criticism of GMWatch and lack of “anti-GMOism” is sufficient for you to claim I associate with Monsanto. Your own signature under an open letter organized by i-sis is not sufficient to link you with the woo promoted by them. Surely a true scientist would see how hypocritical that is?

    And once again, I am not stalking you. I just knew there would be an example to use to show your hypocrisy, so I just did a few quick google searches(*) and was not disappointed. Nor am I really disappointed that you still don’t get how you accuse me of all kind of nefarious things but get upset when I apply your own argumentation against you. I knew you would do so based on your prior behaviour (William Connolley once called you out on his blog about your use of argumentation that was exactly in line with that of the pseudoskeptics).

    (*) there is a significant overlap between virulent anti-GMO activists and people believing in all kind of woo. Most commonly they believe in homeopathy, so my first attempt was to google your name, country (no need to google that, I knew that from your previous angry encounters with Pete Ridley) and homeopathy. And there was i-sis (which I happen to know as a junk science website), and there you were, too. If you do not want to be scrutinized through publicly available information on the internet…don’t leave such an open trail on the internet.

  471. Marco says:

    Eli, none of those are black-and-white topics, not even the simplest one (number 1).

  472. matt says:

    Victor,
    “If your papers is not found to be wrong one day, it was not interesting.”

    I’m guessing I am reading this as it was not intended. This does not make sense to me.
    Can u elaborate?

  473. Matt,
    Victor should probably speak for himself, but what I think he means is that scientists should want to be working in an area that is right at the edge of our knowledge. That means that what you do today stands a good chance of ending up ultimately being wrong (or wrong to some degree) but also stands a really good chance of actually contributing to furthering our knowledge. That can happen even if your work turns out to be wrong, because your contribution helps someone else (or even yourself) to understand what you’re studying a little bit better and helps them to do research that moves us closer to understanding the system properly. Being safe is boring, in other words.

  474. Ian Forrester says:

    Marco, this ad hominem nonsense should surely be beneath you. In all your rants against me and my views you have never backed it up with any science only ad homoinem rants. I don’t know what your background is (you obviously know all about mean and probably have video of all my visits to see a homeopathic doctor) but i can tell that you don’t really understand some of the problems, both actual and potential. Since many of the actual damaging effects were predicted but scornfully rejected by the GMO industry it makes the potential damaging effects more worthy of actual study rather than scornful dismissal.

    The whole idea of “substantial equivalence” is junk science and should never have been accepted by USDA. For goodness sake, aflatoxin contaminated pea nuts are “substantially equivalent” to non contaminated ones if we go by the simp0le tests used.

    And please remove or ap[apologize for this disho0nhest statemnt:

    I knew that from your previous angry encounters with Pete Ridley) and homeopathy

    I have never ever had any encounters about homeopathy. And as for peter Ridley he is a very angry and nasty AGW denier who also happens to be a stalker. No wonder you brouight him up, birds of a feather and all that.

    What I signed had absolutely nothing to do with homeopathy. I signed an open letter, which according to the circumstances any self respecting scientist should have either approved of or signed. Interference with the peer reviewed science literature is one of the most despicable things anyone calling then selves scientists should be doing. I don’t know where the link appeared but it certainly wasn’t directly from the ISIS web site since I do not visit it.

    Too bad that you don’t like the results Seralini got but that is how real science works. It is now being replicated on a larger scale hopefully by independent scientists. This whole GMO industry attack on scientists who have found bad things about GMO products will go down as a very black episode in science. The treatment these scientists have received is far worse than any climate scientist has received from the AGW deniers. That is not how science is supposed to work. If you were an honest scientist you should not be supporting such behaviour. You should be requesting that more research be carried out, that is how honest science works.

  475. Ian Forrester says:

    Eli, for once I have to agree with Marco, it is not black and white nor simple.

    The GMO producers wanted it to be very simple at the start. For example when RR crops first were talked about the industry word was that they had inserted a gene to replace the enzyme inhibited by glyphosate so that the plants could grow in the presence of glyphosate. It was only much later that the whole story (or I assume it is the whole story) but there may be more things added that we don’t know about. There is certainly the recent discovery of a large gene fragment which was inserted by mistake and not made public until recently. Whether this gene fragment is actually transcribed and translated into a protein is unknown at the moment (at least by me) but it is a worry when the scientists involved in this technology claim that it is so certain and completely undertood that they missed this fragment.

    Another worry is the use of the Bt gene and toxic proteins in insecticide resistant crops. The toxins as produced in the plant are not identical to those produced by the bacteria. Any testing has only been done on the bacterial proteins. The Bt proteins are glycoproteins, that is afetr translation side chains of various types of sugar molecules are added by specific enzymes. Now the enzymes are present in the bacteria but I doubt that they are present in the plants. There may be some glycolisation but it is unlikely to mimic that of the bacteria. These sugar side chains are very important because they are the primary way the immune system reacts to foreign proteins there are binding site on the immune cells which recognize the sugars. If this is different the the immune system will not react in the same way.

    A very good example of this is the study carried out by CSIRO in Australia. Transferring a protein between two closely related plants (beans and peas) caused the produced protein to have vastly different immunological properties.

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf050594v

    < Employing models of inflammation, we demonstrated in mice that consumption of the modified αAI and not the native form predisposed to antigen-specific CD4+ Th2-type inflammation. Furthermore, consumption of the modified αAI concurrently with other heterogeneous proteins promoted immunological cross priming, which then elicited specific immunoreactivity of these proteins. Thus, transgenic expression of non-native proteins in plants may lead to the synthesis of structural variants possessing altered immunogenicity.

    That is why the whole notion of “substantial equivalence” has to be scrapped. The only real solution is that each “event” or crop must be tested individually by independent laboratories using acceptable long testing times. before being accepted.

    The GMO industry has shoot itself in the foot by its complete lack of transparency and the vicious attacks on scientists who have shown negative effects.

    Since this thread is about balance I will finish by showing that on “balance” these crops as produced and tested at present offer no advantages to farmers or consumers. There was a short term advantage to both crops but that has now gone because of resistance, which was predicted. Costs for farmers have not decreased but have gone up substantially. Thus if we look at a cost benefit analysis we have no proven long term advantages, disadvantage of increased price, no advantage to consumers and a big question mark over their safety. In addition farmers have lost market share when their crops are shown to be contaminated with GMOs. This has happened recently with alfalfa.

    http://www.producer.com/2014/11/roundup-ready-in-alfalfa-exports-catastrophic/

    And some people wonder why many of us are worried by the repercussions of GM crops.

  476. Marco says:

    Ian, you still do not understand anything, do you? YOU linked ME to supposed unethical business tactics of Monsanto, and for one reason only: I am not anti-GMO like you and consider GMWatch a highly dubious source of information. That is, because my viewpoints have some overlaps with those of Monsanto, you claimed I associate with Monsanto and its supposed unethical business practices. Once again, this is your argumentation, not mine. So I took a mirror: I showed how easy it is to link YOU to an organization that promotes homeopathy. Thus, by YOUR own line of argumentation YOU are associated to homeopathy.

    In other words, you should apologize to yourself for using such a stupid argument. After that, you can apologize to me for using such a stupid argument against me.

    Since you like Séralini’s results so much (the man who associates with homeopaths, both as a consultant for a homeopathy company and as co-author on papers with de Vendemois – look, more associations with homeopathy you have to disown), have you started drinking water with glyphosate already? According to Séralini’s data it prolongs your (as a man) life span significantly!

    To all others: please don’t. That result is as statistically spurious as most of the other stuff in Séralini’s paper.

  477. Eli Rabett says:

    OK, some progress. Things are complex (BFS). Which, of course means that both Ian and Marco agree that there are some applications of GM which are on net a benefit and others which are a problem.

  478. Steven Mosher says:

    “Willard says:
    December 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm
    > In fact its the basis of the Lukewarmer position.

    That this is a risk problem does not imply anything regarding climate sensitivity.”

    ###############

    never said it did, willard.

    You will Know that’s my position when I tell you so and not before. That it is a risk problem implies NOTHING about sensitivity. I agree 100%. So if you are pointing out our agreement
    GREAT. were you? honest question.

    The reference to Lukewarming had to do with ATTP’s observation

    ‘Putting that to one side though, there are clearly some who think climate sensitivity will be high, but ignore that it might be low, and others who think it will be low and ignore that it might be high.”

    I agree with that, in fact, as I alluded to it’s one of the reasons for defining Lukewarmist position in the way I did. think hard on this one and dont play climateball.

    See Willard. If you dont understand, just ask. Otherwise you end up with non sequitors like

    ‘That this is a risk problem does not imply anything regarding climate sensitivity.”

  479. Steven,

    I agree with that, in fact, as I alluded to it’s one of the reasons for defining Lukewarmist position in the way I did.

    Except your definition seems to be that Lukewarmers agree that it is a risk issue. However, from what I’ve seen, most Lukewarmers have concluded that the economic consequences of acting are too severe and therefore we should not, proactively at least, do anything. However, this appears to be based on a sense that climate sensitivity won’t be high which, given that this is not consitent with the evidence, would seem to be a very poor risk analysis. Maybe you could clarify how you define the Lukewarmer position.

  480. Ian Forrester says:

    I’ll just respond with one question to Marco then I am finished in this thread since all I get in response from him are ad hominem comments regarding myself and other scientists who have shown problems with GMOs and statements with no back up to published reports. That is not acting in a scientific manner.

    Marco, when you receive a paper which you want to study, do you immediately start trawling through the internet to find some ridiculous association between one of the authors and homeopathy, hoping to find that one of the author’s brother’s son has a girlfriend whose second cousin is a homeopathic doctor thus invalidating the results of the paper? That is how you are coming across in this thread. I prefer to read the paper, look at the data and see if the conclusions reached are compatible with the results. Maybe they do things differently in your field.

  481. Marco says:

    Ian, you continue to miss the point. On purpose and acting in bad faith, or just head buried so deep in the sand, I don’t know and don’t really care. The ad hominems you complain about are your own. You decided to associate me to Monsanto and industry clap trap and misinformation and whatnot, simply because I rejected GMWatch as a credible source and am not anti-GMO (and probably also because I am critical of Séralini’s work). I showed how easy it is to associate you to homeopathy. Apparently you consider that really, really bad.

    So, tell me, if you consider my evidence of your association with homeopathy so bad, what is the argumentation you have that allows you to state I am associated with Monsanto and the like?

    In reality you have no credible argumentation for that. My association with Monsanto is all in your mind, as it makes it easier for you to dismiss any and all criticism of the anti-GMO crowd. It is the same way some people dismiss climate change skeptics: just associate them with big bad fossil fuel industry, however strenuous that link may be, et voilà, no further thinking required.

    Which then brings me to your question, which actually is a question right back at you. You consider GMWatch credible, and yet it claimed Monsanto had its hands in the retraction of the Séralini paper. Argumentation used? Well, it had just hired a new Associate Editor who had worked for Monsanto…8 YEARS AGO! GMWatch also frequently points out that papers that show beneficial aspects of GMOs have authors that have “industry ties”. You clearly consider that argumentation acceptable – no need to look at the actual paper and its results, big bad industry ties and therefore biased.
    And then you go and demand people look at a paper and not consider that some of the authors are linked to an activist organisation (CRIIGEN) and/or believe in all kinds of ‘alternative medicine’ (like homeopathy, accupuncture and osteopathy – oh hi there, Joël!) and thus have *ideological* reasons to desire a certain result.
    In my field we actually look skeptical at all papers, but more skeptical at papers from people with a known financial or ideological bias. Homeopaths are in our field considered particularly suspicious, because they largely reject (or ignore) EBM and then complain about supposed insufficient evidence for other treatments.

    Which brings me to a final point: you might want to look up those bt toxins again. They are not glycosylated in plants, and AFAIK also not in the bacteria themselves.

  482. matt says:

    @ attp,

    Yep I think that may be the case (and agree with most of what you said). If so, I would just use slightly different words (not criticising VV as it is hard to convey your thoughts in a small comment – somewhere in this thread I think I said something like “go nukes”, which is true but with many unsaid caveats). The problem I had with VVs comment was it made the most established science sound uninteresting. Sure it will not be watercooler talk among researchers, but just because the idea that particles pop in and out of existence is and old one, does not mean it is uninteresting. Better than any magic show I’ve ever seen.

    Even basic mechanics remains interesting to me. Eg, I could not immediately explain this high school science:

  483. matt says:

    Ok. My youtube link failed-think it went to a playlist I was on that had “Spinning tube trick” on veritasium. Don’t bother

  484. Steve Bloom says:

    Ah, Anders, you neglect the lukewarmer formula:

    1. Admit there’s a climate problem

    2. Determine that it’s relatively modest

    3. Select climate paradigm (risk or whatever)

    4. Minimize needed near-term response to problem

    5. …

    6. Profit!

    Steps 1 through 3 are chosen solely in order to rationalize the subsequent steps and for use in persuasion, note.

  485. afeman says:

    So, examples of beneficial GMOs tend lead with Golden Rice. The thing that nags me about it is: has any organization working primarily in food security, as opposed to biotech, said yes yes give us this already? Because I get the impression that it’s being pushed more than it’s being pulled.

  486. Matt, ATTP made a good translation of my somewhat hyperbolic statement. That being said, I hope to get old enough to see someone propose a better theory for Quantum Mechanics or General Relativity. Even when such a big theory is found to be wrong, the practical applications (the more boring papers) typically stay right. When Classical Mechanics was found to be wrong, cannon shells still followed the same path and bridges did not suddenly collapse.

  487. Eli Rabett says:

    afeman the Philippine and Bangladesh governments are lead proponents of golden rice as is the International Rice Research Institute. There are other partners.

    A major problem is that enhanced nutritional value and enhanced yield are separate things, but yes, Golden Rice is the motherhood statement for a lot of reasons, but it outlines the ethical issue pretty well.

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