No, we’re not slipping into a proper ice age

Matt Ridley, who I have written about numerous times before, has a new article in The Times called global cooling is not worth shivering about, which claims that

The Earth is very slowly slipping back into a proper ice age

Well, this is just nonsense. It is quite probable that the Earth will – at some stage in the future – enter another ice age. It’s also true that if we were following the same pattern as we’ve followed for the last 800000 years, we might expect this reasonably soon, but we’re not, and we don’t. The reason is very simply that anthropogenic influences are now swamping the natural forcings that act to trigger the glacial cycles, and the current trajectory is very clearly not towards another proper ice age.

If you consider this paper, discussed in more detail here, it says

moderate anthropogenic cumulative CO2 emissions of 1,000 to 1,500 gigatonnes of carbon will postpone the next glacial inception by at least 100,000 years

The basic idea being that whether or not we move into another glacial period depends on the solar insolation at high northern latitudes and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Our emission of CO2 has essentially guaranteed that atmospheric CO2 will remain enhanced for more than 100000 years, and – consequently – has delayed the next glacial cycle by at least the same timescale.

Matt Ridley’s overall argument, however, is that we don’t really need to be concerned about the next ice age, because it is still quite a long time away, by which time – as long as we keep using cheap, plentiful energy – we’ll have the technology to deal with it, and we can still thrive. The problem, though, is that if we simplistically follow Matt’s advice, we could pump enough CO2 into the atmosphere to produce a change comparable to that between a glacial and an inter-glacial, but in the other direction, and at least 10 times faster.

It’s also not only that could we produce rapid changes to our climate, we could also produce changes in some regions that lead to temperature and humidity levels that would be difficult to endure. We may also pass tipping points; sudden climatic shifts that are essentially irreversible.

So, for some reason Matt Ridley thought it worth talking about something that is unlikely to happen for another 100000 years. Even though Matt suggests we shouldn’t be concerned about this, he does suggest that we should prepare for this eventuality by using cheap plentiful energy. If, however, this cheap, plentiful energy is associated with the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere, we could produce changes on human timescales that may make it difficult for us to continue to thrive. I guess it’s just another example of people being willing to consider anything other than the possibility that we should think of ways in which we can reduce the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere.

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67 Responses to No, we’re not slipping into a proper ice age

  1. The thing is that these days cheap plentiful energy comes from renewables. Here’s Lazard’s costing of different energy sources in the USA over the last 8 years:

    Wind and solar are now the cheapest sources of electricity, basically half the cost of coal, and cheaper than gas even in the US which has very cheap gas thanks to fracking. Solar costs have fallen at a compound rate of 16.5% per annum, wind at 9% per annum. These cost declines are likely to continue, so the cost advantage of renewables will go on rising.

    Note that Lazard’s calcs exclude subsidies, but also any carbon taxes.

    I’ve done some estimates of the cost of renewable electricity with added storage here:
    http://volewica.blogspot.com.au/2017/11/renewables-cheaper-than-operating-costs.html

    Because the declines in the costs of wind, solar and batteries have been so rapid, most members of the denialati — or the public for that matter — have any idea that fossil fuels are much more expensive than renewables, even without a carbon tax.

  2. Joshua says:

    So, for some reason Matt Ridley…

    Can’t read the article past the first two paragraphs, but the reason doesn’t seem terribly complicated to me. He even trotted out the “global cooling in the 70s” meme. Shameless.

  3. “…we don’t really need to be concerned about the next ice age, because it is still quite a long time away, by which time – as long as we keep using cheap, plentiful energy – we’ll have the technology to deal with it…”

    And, of course, amongst the “technologies” we would have to “deal with it”? Pumping radiatively actively gases into the atmosphere, or sprinkling black carbon onto the ice sheets, most obviously…

    You see, if you are rationally optimistic, these things have beneficial effects when we proactively use them as “technologies”, but they are essentially benign if they are just by-products of our currently using “cheap, plentiful energy”…

  4. Ken Fabian says:

    Perspective. Looking preferentially at the very long time scale, anthropogenic climate change can be made to appear less significant than if it’s seen from the perspective of impacts for current and near future generations. Very short time scales can make the ups and downs of internal variability look like a trend – which are more likely at any one time to not match the mainstream “predictions”. This shift from relevant time scales to not relevant is standard practice but I suspect very effective with those who have an pre-existing preference for believing mainstream science is wrong.

  5. Nick says:

    Ridley is dusting off this recent chestnut:
    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=Ellis+Palmer+ice+ages+dust&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b&gfe_rd=cr&dcr=0&ei=_AlUWvPgDvTc8wfTtomwBA
    Helps to make one forget one owns a coal mine, I guess.

  6. Michael 2 says:

    “and the current trajectory is very clearly not towards another proper ice age.”

    Precautionary principle. There will be no surviving a snowball Earth.

    The principle speaks to a persons fear. Some people fear global warming, others global cooling, others fear the Russians and I worry about asteroids and hemorrhoids.

  7. Ragnaar says:

    100,000 years. Ganopolski has lots of credibility but going out this far into the future stretches most people’s reasonableness. For instance, I’ll say our last 65 years of emission has rewritten geological history for the next 100,000 years. CO2 causes change. But perhaps not 1 dimensional change. I draw this line. We emit enough CO2 and we are stuck on one side of this line for 100,000 years.

  8. Ben Courtice says:

    The notion that the interglacial should be about 10,000 years long (which appears to be the factoid which Ridley hangs his rant on) is incorrect. The last interglacial (Ocean Isotope Stage 5) lasted about 10,000 years which is typical. However, there are several overlaid cycles that produce our glacial and interglacial periods. The current interglacial coincides with the ~400,000 year cycle that is expected to produce an interglacial of about 30,000 years (Ocean Isotope Stage 11). Of course what will happen if we inject a massive burp of CO2 and methane one third of the way through is another matter. The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum is perhaps the best analog in climate history. It lasted in the order of 100,000 years; perhaps that is where the figure comes from.

  9. David B. Benson says:

    The terms used, while popular, make geologists gnash their teeth. To wit, Terra has been in an ice age for the entire Pleistocene, which we are still in, this being just the most recent interglacial stage despite the hopped-up name, Holocene. And despite the slug of carbon dioxide being added, Terra will remain in the Pleistocene for much longer than the next 100,000 years; this will be quite a long interglacial.

    When it is over, Terra will experience another glacial, popularly and mistakenly called an ‘ice age’. But Terra has been in the most recent ice age for almost 3 million years and another tenth of a million years makes little difference in the long scheme of things…

  10. Ben,
    Thanks. In fact, I’d been mis-reading the paper that I linked to in the post. I think it was arguing (as you suggest) that the current inter-glacial would have lasted much longer than 10000 years even in the absence of our emissions. Our emissions have now delayed the inception of the next glacial by about 100000 years.

    David,
    Yes, I think I was aware of that terminology, although I can’t claim to have always got it right myself.

  11. If May moves Matt to the head of the list for Wayright Subsidies for CO2 Sequestration in Former Northumbrian Coal Mines , he’ll soon turn around on radiative forcing.

  12. Entropic Man says:

    IIRC, on the basis of purely orbital changes the Holocene interglacial would be expected to last 40,000 years

  13. verytallguy says:

    The “science” behind Ridley’s article is so risible as not to require a comment.

    Ridley’s views are tedious, predictable and provide ongoing evidence of Lewandowsky’s famous hypothesis that Rejection of climate science was strongly associated with endorsement of a laissez-faire view of unregulated free markets

    The only thing notable about Ridley is really how he exemplifies Britain’s famously “democratic” parliament.

    Ridley is a peer of the realm, and as such gets to vote on legislation. His virulently political antiscientific views are expounded via a seat on the House of Lords science and technology committee in addition to his seat in the house as such.

    A failed banker whose belief in those unregulated markets was tested beyond breaking point at the Northern Rock bank, he would stand absolutely no chance of being elected by the public. He was instead voted in to his seat in parliament in an openly nepotistic system by electorate of just 48 hereditary peers. The same system has elected others to their seats on an electorate as small as three.

    Mother of all parliaments anyone?

  14. Everett F Sargent says:

    Ha Ha Ha!

    That truckin’ POS climate pr0n article is behind a paywall. 😦

    The part I can see, starts off with the 1970’s MSM ice age splooges Earth again fake myth.

    We already live in a ‘so called’ ice age, just with a glacial/interglacial cycle superpositioned on our current ‘so called’ ice age.

    So let’s just burn up all the Earth’s carbon reservoirs. Surely there must be at least 100,000 more years of carbon at 100 times current emission rates in those reservoirs.

    After that we’ll go 100% renewables. No, not wind, water and solar but Wood, WooD and wOOd!

    Except, with Earth’s population then exceeding one Virgintillion homo sapiens, the ‘so called’ wood will be delivered to your home in body bags, so eat that ‘so called’ wfood lightly before burning.

    You may not realize it yet, but the zombie hordes are already amongst us.

    Not exactly comic gold, so don’t write this stuff down. 😉

  15. Clive Best says:

    The Holocene interglacial is most similar to the Anglian 400,000 years ago. We are actually very lucky that human civilisation has developed during a period of low eccentricity, similar to the Anglian. This dampens the effects of precession. The earth would naturally begin cooling within 2000 years, with Ice volume increasing by 5000 years from now. This will very likely be delayed be delayed due to man, and the earth may well skip another glaciation. However, keeping CO2 levels above 280 ppm is not guaranteed to avoid another glaciation. The Eemian CO2 levels remained high well into the last ice age.

  16. Everett F Sargent says:

    UK government spells out plan to shut down Matt Ridley
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/05/uk-coal-fired-power-plants-close-2025

    “One of the UK’s eight remaining coal power stations is expected to cease generating electricity this year, the government has said as it laid out new rules that will force all the plants to close by 2025.

    The coal phase-out is one of the Conservative party’s flagship green policies, and the long-awaited implementation plan comes ahead of a speech by Theresa May on the environment next week.

    While three plants shut in 2016, and most are expected to halt operations by 2022, the last ones standing will be forced to close in October 2025 because of new pollution standards.”

  17. Andrew Dodds says:

    One of the ironies is that if global cooling really was a problem, then it would be fairly cheap and simple to avert – not with CO2, but with the more long-loved fluorocarbons (CF4 is extremely stable and a strong GHG). Adding enough CF4 to the atmosphere to offset natural 100-ky cooling would be far cheaper and simpler than any global warming mitigation scheme that I have yet seen..

  18. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    The Earth is very slowly slipping back into a proper ice age

    Actually, Lord Ridley is on to something. But it’s even worse than he’s letting on…

    Geological evidence shows that the Earth was completely molten only four billions years ago.

    And cosmological evidence shows that in about 10^100 years (give or take a few) the universe will reach a cold, dark state of maximum entropy, or heat death.

    Therefore – We are very definitely in the midst of a long term cooling trend.

    Well done, Matt Ridley!

  19. Willard says:

  20. Who can argue with renewables that do not bear the costs of the externalities that Ridley ignores or discounts: Truly cheap, and unlimited energy. What’s not to like? It also has the benefit that the UK might finally find a way to meet its Paris commitments.

    It seems the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) agrees and is projecting the demise not only of coal but also gas (reversing previous expectations); with a growth in renewables, and yes, some nuclear too.
    https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-government-slashes-outlook-for-new-gas-power-plants

    All that nonsense The Times, Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Spectator keep publishing seems not to be getting through – they have become an echo chamber of denial. It must be so frustrating for Ridley and his fellow climate deniers based at 55 Tufton Street (that desmog has so meticulously documented) …
    https://www.desmog.uk/brexit-climate-deniers

  21. Magma says:

    @ Andrew Dodds: Using CF4 and/or SF6 would also avoid ozone layer depletion and ocean acidification. (Though nature being what it is, no doubt there would be some unforeseen deleterious side-effects somewhere, according to the No Free Lunch Law.)

    Interestingly enough, both are naturally-occurring compounds, though in trace to ultratrace amounts. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/98GL01779/pdf

  22. BBD says:

    Ha. James Murray for the win.

  23. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: You may want to append the following article to your OP…

    The ‘imminent mini ice age’ myth is back, and it’s still wrong by Dana Nuccitelli, Clmate Consensus – the 97%, Guardian, Jan 9, 2018

  24. Canman says:

    Nickthiwerspoon, if solar and wind are so cost effective, why is Germany abandoning their 2020 goals?

    https://cliscep.com/2018/01/08/germany-to-abandon-climate-target/

    They are clearly not cheaper when scaled up to high percentages.

  25. John Hartz says:

    Canman: The short answer to the question you posed to Nickwitherspoon:

    Politics.

    The poitics surrounding the decision is explained in:

    German coalition negotiators agree to scrap 2020 climate target – sources by Markus Waket, Reuters, Jan 8, 2018

    BTW, a link to the above article is embedded in the article you provided the url for.

  26. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Please insert after the word “sources in” the article I cited in my prior post. I obviously messed up on the coding. Thanks..

  27. JH,
    Not actually sure what you’re asking me to correct.

  28. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: The embedded link should only appear in the title of the Reuters article and only the title should be capitalized.

    [Mod: okay, got it.]

  29. Germany’s emissions reduction target was thrown off kilter by their accelerated closing of their nuclear power plants because of Fukushima. So instead of replacing coal, growth in renewables has been replacing nuclear, a bit of an own-goal. But they’re still not doing too badly: http://volewica.blogspot.com.au/2017/12/germany-renewables-reach-record-high.html

    Most forecasters tend to forecast linear changes. The IEA is a good example, having repeatedly made a fool of itself with too low wind and solar forecasts. This presentation by BNEF ( https://data.bloomberglp.com/bnef/sites/14/2017/09/BNEF-Summit-London-2017-Michael-Liebreich-State-of-the-Industry.pdf ) is a very good summary of the price pressures in renewables and just how little coal there is likely to be in the system in 23 years. Have a look especially at charts 52 and 53 for renewables costs; 64 for the IEA’s utterly wrong wind forecasts; page 75 for their even feebler solar forecasts; 90 and 91 for BNEF’s forecasts; and 92-94 for their forecast of tipping points where coal and gas become uneconomic against initially new coal and then later existing coal. BNEF is the pre-eminent global analyst of renewables and the electricity market.

    I think they might still be too pessimistic–take a look at just how fast the cost of solar is declining: http://volewica.blogspot.com.au/2017/12/continued-plunge-in-cost-of-solar.html

    I have absolutely no doubt that by the end of the 2020s most if not all coal power stations around the world will have closed, partly because concerns about climate will be even greater then than they are now, as temperatures will have risen another 0.3 degrees C, mostly because renewables will be much much cheaper than just the **fuel** costs of coal power stations. After all, it isn’t rational to keep on digging up, transporting, and burning coal if it will be cheaper to build new wind and solar farms. As for storage to smooth out the famous variability of renewables (**4** coal-fired power stations in Oz tripped over the last month! so much for reliability!) battery costs will decline 90% over the next decade.

  30. angech says:

    “I have absolutely no doubt that by the end of the 2020s most if not all coal power stations around the world will have closed,.”
    Unlikely given 30-50 year life of coal power stations, current building rate etc.

  31. Andrew Dodds says:

    Jebediah Hypotenuse –

    Indeed, although there may be a short, local fluctuation when the sun enters it’s red giant phase and fries the Earth to a cinder (or engulfs it entirely, I’m not sure what current opinion is). But on the trillion-year timescale, that’s basically ‘weather’.

    Obligatory:

    https://xkcd.com/1606/

  32. BBD says:

    Ben Courtice

    The notion that the interglacial should be about 10,000 years long (which appears to be the factoid which Ridley hangs his rant on) is incorrect. […] The current interglacial coincides with the ~400,000 year cycle that is expected to produce an interglacial of about 30,000 years (Ocean Isotope Stage 11).

    Not in any way defending Ridley’s nonsense, but this may be incorrect. Ruddiman et al. (2010) presents a discussion of the two approaches to comparing current and previous interglacials, and shows that the insolation alignment approach may be superior to the deglaciation alignment method. If correct, this would mean that the full deglaciation at MIS11 lasted less than 10ka:

    The evidence from Rohling et al. also overturns another misconception about stage 11. The long interval of near-interglacial warmth registered by indicators such as Antarctic ice-core δD values has been interpreted as indicating a ‘long interglaciation’ that would imply a much longer future duration for the current interglaciation. However, much of the interval of positive δD values shown in Figure 5B falls on the latter part of the stage 12/11 deglaciation. At this time, the δD values had not yet reached full-interglacial levels. The warmest full-interglacial temperatures (heaviest δD values) were constrained to the full stage 11 interglaciation and lasted for less than 10000 years. These results invalidate the argument of EPICA (2004) and Broecker and Stocker (2006) that the current interglacial still has some 16000 years left to run. They also disagree with the conclusion of Berger and Loutre (2003) that the current interglaciation has another 50000
    years left to run. Instead, the falling δD values just after the full stage 11 interglaciation in Figure 5B indicate that the current Antarctic warmth defined by δD values should have ended by now.

  33. BBD says:

    Richard Erskine

    It also has the benefit that the UK might finally find a way to meet its Paris commitments.

    It seems the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) agrees and is projecting the demise not only of coal but also gas (reversing previous expectations); with a growth in renewables, and yes, some nuclear too.

    One could very easily read the BEIS projections as simply a political prop allowing the Tories to claim (for now) that the UK is on track towards meeting its emissions reduction commitments. The eyebrow-raisingly low projection for new gas plant is dependent on several key assumptions, notably a sharp increase in electricity imports which segues into a nuclear build-out lasting (at least) until 2035.

    Far from a plausible recasting of the future role of gas, this could just be national-scale greenwash based on highly contentious assumptions.

  34. jsam says:

    Ridley’s butt handed back to him on a plate in Letters to the Times.

  35. I saw that. Our friends over at cliscep are making a big fuss out of the suggestion that this is a profound finding. Well, I certainly find the idea that, in a century, or so, we’ve delayed the next glacial by 10s of thousands of years quite profound.

  36. Clive Best says:

    Emily has that wrong. The next Ice would naturally begin within 10,000 year at most. It would follow a similar trajectory to the Anglian 400,000y ago.

  37. Clive,
    That’s not what the literature suggests. For example, this paper

    Using an ensemble of simulations generated by an Earth system model of intermediate complexity constrained by palaeoclimatic data, we suggest that glacial inception was narrowly missed before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The missed inception can be accounted for by the combined effect of relatively high late-Holocene CO2 concentrations and the low orbital eccentricity of the Earth7. Additionally, our analysis suggests that even in the absence of human perturbations no substantial build-up of ice sheets would occur within the next several thousand years and that the current interglacial would probably last for another 50,000 years.

  38. I should add, maybe, that the high late-Holocene CO2 concentrations could be anthropogenic (Ruddiman, I think) so maybe we would not have missed the most recent inception if there had be absolutely no anthropogenic influences (I’m sure about this, though).

  39. JH,
    Maybe best you don’t know 🙂 but if you’re really interested just add a .com after cliscep.

  40. Willard says:

    Clisep is PauM’s. One of its regulars, AlanK, visited BartV’s recently with a sock puppet. He did not bring the same comic relief as he usually does.

    A counterfactual that may be of relevance:

    People say that if we continue to increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere then that will mean global warming is far worse off. But suppose they’re wrong and in fact we’re heading for a new glacial period, as some Russian scientists believe. That would be much more devastating. Perhaps we should be pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/higher/dr-alan-kendall-science-never-used-to-have-a-consensus-419742.html

  41. Willard says:

    EdH provides breadcrumbs:

  42. Magma says:

    I certainly find the idea that, in a century, or so, we’ve delayed the next glacial by 10s of thousands of years quite profound. — ATTP

    Of course you already realize this flies in the face of the how could little old us possibly affect this great big planet? beliefs explicitly or implicitly advocated by many contrarians.

  43. Willard,

    One of its regulars, AlanK, visited BartV’s recently with a sock puppet.

    I know that he is also supertroll on BishopHill. Is that what he used on BartV’s, or was it a different sock?

  44. BBD says:

    ATTP

    I should add, maybe, that the high late-Holocene CO2 concentrations could be anthropogenic (Ruddiman, I think) so maybe we would not have missed the most recent inception if there had be absolutely no anthropogenic influences (I’m sure about this, though).

    It seems to be an area of valid scientific argument. Ruddiman argues that the very odd ‘wrong way’ CO2 and CH4 concentrations in the later Holocene are anthropogenic in origin and probably the reason why we didn’t begin the descent into glaciation prior to the Industrial Revolution. Ganopolski et al. think that there’s a purely natural explanation, although it’s hard to see how MIS11 can be a close analogue of the Holocene if the Holocene *naturally* lasts for ~60ka. Even using the deglaciation alignment method only gets you ~26ka full interglacial at MIS11. Perhaps the intermediate complexity Earth system model Ganopolski et al. used didn’t quite capture the positive feedbacks to reduced insolation? Or maybe Ruddiman et al, are incorrect.

  45. Willard says:

    Singer, AT. I can’t quote his gems, as BartV got tired of having contrarians relieving themselves on his rug. It’s a bit sad. His best ones contradicted the main argument provided in the thread by contrarians.

    Having better contrarians is the ClimateBall wish I have for us all in 2018.

  46. Willard,
    Thanks, I did wonder if that was who it was. I’m all for a better class of climate “skeptics”.

  47. izen says:

    Given the timing of Ridley’s article with the extreme cold spell on the US East coast, I had jumped to the conclusion that this was intended as a re-iteration of the meme that the climate is NOT going to undergo a profound change.

    The implicit, but unstated corollary of the sceptical trope that “the climate is always changing” is Uniformitarianism.
    That the climate just wobbles about a stable and unchanging mean, a long-term average that human actions cannot alter.

    When I have encountered the – climate always changes – meme, my response is to agree and point to the enormous warming from the ice-age with ice-caps over much of N Europe and the US. And that very small shifts in the Earths’ orbit over millennia triggered a ~5C rise.
    Or the LIA triggered by tiny changes in sunspots and volcanoes.
    The idea that this level of profound climate change supports the conclusion that our faster CO2 emissions could cause a larger effect never seems to be met with agreement.

  48. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Having better contrarians is the ClimateBall wish I have for us all in 2018.

    Not going to happen.
    There are no “better” contrarians.
    There is a reason that we keep returning to the contrarian matrix to battle the same Agents Smith again and again and again.

    As Dr Richard A. Muller might tell you: As soon as a contrarian becomes “better”, they have effectively taken the red pill, and, knowing how deep the rabbit-hole goes, they lose the “contrarian” predicate, and wake up in the real world.

    ATTP put it quite well in the 2014 post cited above:

    The problem, I think, is that there is actually no sensible middle ground. If you have sufficient knowledge to understand the science and how science works, and have a sufficiently open mind, you end up largely agreeing with the mainstream position. The alternative is to simply look like a crackpot; sometimes with enough knowledge to make a fool of yourself, but not enough to know that you’re doing it.

    Even the “better” contrarians really aren’t all that good.

    However, because Teh Donald surrounds himself with only the “best” people, Scott Pruitt is the one exception.

  49. Willard says:

    > As Dr Richard A. Muller might tell you: As soon as a contrarian becomes “better”, they have effectively taken the red pill, and, knowing how deep the rabbit-hole goes, they lose the “contrarian” predicate, and wake up in the real world.

    That’s it. I’m writing my next post, Can Contrarians Lose?

  50. Anyone remember when Fred Singer was claiming to champion the middle ground (between ‘true deniers’ and ‘warmistas’), and pleading:

    “I have concluded that we can accomplish very little with convinced warmistas and probably even less with true deniers. So we just make our measurements, perfect our theories, publish our work, and hope that in time the truth will out.”
    http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/02/climate_deniers_are_giving_us_skeptics_a_bad_name.html#ixzz1nn0SciyO

    Good job no one held their breath (waiting for those publications).

    Like Ridley, and so many others, Singer tries to play smart, avoiding the worst excesses of crankism (thermodynamics refutes GHE; CO2 sinks; etc.), but that does not save them. They still fail to accept the published body of knowledge and cannot deliver the goods in terms of published work that would back up their hand-waving contrarian claims. Hardly much better than ‘true deniers’.

  51. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Can Contrarians Lose?

    Loss or victory implies an agreed-upon end-game…

  52. Joshua says:

    That’s it. I’m writing my next post, Can Contrarians Lose?

    Is that a rhetorical question?

    IMO, of course not. How can you lose if you start out convinced that you’ve won? There are no unaffiliated referees. I can’t recall a Contrarian ever acknowledging a “loss.”

  53. Willard says:

    STOP PEEKING INTO MY MIND!

    Meanwhile, have some #AstroBall:

    Related to this:

    http://nba.nbcsports.com/2017/11/01/kyrie-irving-says-there-is-no-real-picture-of-earth-questions-moon-landing/

    (Courtesy of PDA, who says hi.)

  54. Willard says:

    > PDA?

    This PDA. Also this one. Both refer to the same retired ClimateBall player.

  55. izen says:

    @-The very Rev
    “Loss or victory implies an agreed-upon end-game…”

    The intention of climate contrarians (like Ridley) is not to win the scientific argument, but to provide (im)plausible deniability.

    It is rather well described in another context where a Creationist attempts to re-frame the science to defend their rejection of evolution.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2018/01/06/bad-jackie-permian-pompeii/#60RUcJddVxEihFlp.99


    His mission is clearly a failure if providing a legitimate alternative interpretation was the goal. However, his mission could be deemed a success if it simply was to provide enough misdirection and seemingly plausible alternative hypotheses to set the minds of those committed to young earth creationism as ease so they do not to pursue the meaning of these fossils any further.

    This is the function of much of the bad-faith dishonesty promoted by hucksters of all kinds. The individual lies don’t have to stand on their own. They just need to be plausible-seeming enough to allow the listeners to continue pretending that their minds are at ease. The distinct deceptions of any one particular lie are less important than the way they reinforce the larger web of deception — reassuring listeners to continue participating in them and not to bother pursuing any of the nagging questions they may have.

  56. Steven Mosher says:

    The great thing about the cost of solar and wind coming down is.

    1. We dont have to worry about subsidzing them any more. woohoo
    2. We can help them simply by ending subsidies for FF.
    3. We dont have to worry about taxing FF to account for the Social cost of carbon because
    the market is already killing FF

    dont worry the market will take care of everything.

    Kidding aside it would be interesting to see what the BAU projection is if we use
    the renewables optimists as a guide.

  57. Greenlanders should rejoice at orbital forcing being overridden for good by Anthropocene warming.

    The sustained meltdown will allow the gradual rebound of the bed of the inland sea formed by crustal depression by the former icecap.

    As much of Greenland’s former interior surface now sits a kilometer below sea level, its future Anthropocene indigenes stand to inherit hundreds of millions of hectares of waterfront real estate.

  58. John Hartz says:

    More disheartening news from across the pond..

    Nearly a year into the Trump administration, mentions of climate change have been systematically removed, altered or played down on websites across the federal government, according to a report made public Wednesday.

    The findings of the report, by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, an international coalition of researchers and activist groups, are in keeping with the policies of a president who has proudly pursued an agenda of repealing environmental regulations, opening protected lands and waters to oil and gas drilling, withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord, shrinking the boundaries of federal monuments, and appointing top officials who have questioned or denied the established science of human-caused climate change.

    The authors of the study said that the removal of the words “climate change” from government websites, and a widespread effort to delete or bury information on climate change programs, would quite likely have a detrimental impact.

    How Much Has ‘Climate Change’ Been Scrubbed From Federal Websites? A Lot. by Coral Davenport, Climate, New York Times, Jan 10, 2018

  59. angech says:

    “Having better contrarians is the ClimateBall wish I have for us all in 2018.
    ”Not going to happen.”
    So true.
    “Loss or victory implies an agreed-upon end-game…”
    P-Q4.
    Put up your best man/men/women. [no computers unless you are losing]
    I may be better at chess than Climateball though Reti would obviously disagree.

  60. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    As much of Greenland’s former interior surface now sits a kilometer below sea level, its future Anthropocene indigenes stand to inherit hundreds of millions of hectares of waterfront real estate.

    Where they will be able to tend gardens of lichens and mosses on the bedrock, harvest plastics from the beaches, and watch climate refugees come ashore.

  61. There you go, Rev:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/can-contrarians-lose/

    If you can have a citation for your Muller anecdote, that’d be great.

  62. Windchaser says:

    As much of Greenland’s former interior surface now sits a kilometer below sea level, its future Anthropocene indigenes stand to inherit hundreds of millions of hectares of waterfront real estate.

    It already *is* waterfront real estate.

    …Oh, wait, you meant liquid water, damn. Sorry. :-p

  63. TTauriStellarBody says:

    I think it is a tactically poor choice by Ridley. The Times is behind a paywall and has a small readership. That readership is generally not stupid. While there will be many contrarians among it, the article seems far more likely to damage Ridely’s reputation among those not died in the wool “CO2 insignificance trace gas” types.
    Seems not a lot of gain, just whipping up the core support to sell credibility over.
    Though perhaps its aimed at just that. Part of the current, apparent trend for purity of idealism and non compromise across our politics. So many, including me, got things like IndyRef, Brexit, Corbyn, Sanders, Trump and the last UK general election wrong maybe the internal polling by UK contrarians suggests a return to more atavistic “its a scam” tub thumping is the way to go?

    The irony being is that led by (bleedin eck) Michael Gove the tories are doing a major pivot on the environment. There post election strategy is to (yet again) detoxify their brand, this team by (yet again) “vote blue go green”. Now they no longer have the kippers at their coat tails and with the threat of Corbyn to drag out some more reluctant voters they are trying to sell themselves as born again eco warriors.
    https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/science-environment-42639359
    Given they have Hinkely C, fracking and HS2 around their necks I do not see it being a big vote winning issue for them, though perhaps it is aimed at reducing vote leakage, again that whole “ideological purity” thing, too Corbyn.
    Sorry for the ramble so given the “mood music” of the tory part and where UK politics is right now I do not see Ridley’s article as being a smart place for him to be atm.

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