Climate scepticism in the UK

I came across a book called Climate Change Scepticism: A transnational ecocritical analysis, by Greg Garrard, Axel Goodbody, George Handley, and Stéphanie Posthumus. The reason I found it interesting is that it includes a chapter on Climate Scepticism in the UK. I did, however, also find it rather an odd analysis.

The chapter about the UK included quite a lot of history, going back to the late 1800s, and included discussions of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. The discussion of more recent climate scepticism focused on Jeremy Clarkson and James Delingpole, who purvey hyperbolic satire with a recognisably British cultural pedigree. It mentions Nigel Lawson and Matt Ridley, but without mentioning the Global Warming Policy Foundation. The Global Warming Policy Foundation does get mentioned in the next chapter, which seems to suggest that it’s based on the United States. It discusses a number of people I’ve never heard of, which seems odd given that I’ve spent a number of years discussing this topic myself (maybe I’m ill-informed). There’s no mention of Andrew Montford, despite him having written quite an influential book.

However, maybe what I found most strange was the choice of language, especially given that the book is written by scholars of literature and culture. The introduction has a section on why the term denier is inflammatory because of its association with the Holocaust. It even says

Popular Technology’s website (for some reason) has collected a whole webpage of journalists and environmentalists drawing on the analogy in different ways and asks why the Jewish Anti-Defamation League has not objected

Maybe I misunderstand the inclusion of for some reason, but it seems to suggest that this is an odd inclusion for Popular Technology’s website. I don’t see why. Popular Technology is a website run by someone who promotes all sorts of contrarian narratives. It also includes various pages that expose information about other people who comment publicly about climate change. It’s the site that finally outed me, when I was still writing pseudonymously. I don’t know if there was a stage when Popular Technology was a more credible site than it is now, but I’ve only ever known it as a website that disputes anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Because the authors of the book seem to object to the use of denier, they use climate sceptic when referring to those who either dispute AGW itself, or dispute its importance. The problem, though, is that they then use warmist, or alarmist, when referring to those who do not dispute AGW. Essentially, they use quite a positive term to describe those who are dismissive of AGW, while using rather pejorative terms to describe those who are not. Whether intentional, or not, they end up seeming sympathetic to climate “sceptics” and rather critical of those who are not “sceptical” of climate science. This rather brings into question their claim that they’re reading climate scepticism agnostically.

I wasn’t quite sure how to end this, so I started reading the book’s Conclusion. This seems to confirm that the authors have at least some sympathy for climate “sceptics”. It doesn’t quite buy into some of the standard “sceptic” narratives, but it certainly seems to think they have some merit, or are worth considering. Overall, I’m not entirely sure of the point of the book. They seem to suggest that they’ve modelled some kind of depolarization. I’m not entirely sure how, but maybe they’re suggesting that the overall narrative should aim to be more inclusive, and should avoid saying things that make climate “sceptics” seem excluded. My own view is that it would be better if climate “sceptics” stopped promoting nonsensical narratives, but maybe that’s just me.

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116 Responses to Climate scepticism in the UK

  1. So basically the authors don’t know anything about science, how it works, how society gets on with it, etc?

  2. They certainly seem to have, at best, a rather superficial understanding of it.

  3. God forbid anybody should harbor sympathy for climate sceptics. Burn ’em! burn ’em all!

  4. Joshua says:

    Tom, extreme? Say it ain’t so.

  5. ATTP, surely you have noticed by now that many people, when they start a deep dive into the climate conversation, find skeptical arguments reasonable, interesting and appealing. They are sympathetic to skeptics who they see treated poorly by many of the climate concerned. (Side note: you for some reason object to ‘warmist’ or ‘alarmist’ but don’t seem to like ‘climate concerned’ or climate activist.’ Still waiting on a label you like.)

    Many remain sympathetic to skeptics. Others learn that the science is sound and that hypesters from NGOs, people like Jacobson and the most vicious blog commenters don’t really understand the science any better than some of the skeptics and that the argument is all about ramming your preferred policy prescription down the other fella’s throat.

    Being between the two positions doesn’t automatically make me right on the science (although I believe I am). It does however give me at least a different perspective on the struggle between the two tribes.

  6. Sceptical Wombat says:

    “Skeptic” is clearly the wrong term for people who readily believe any argument which supports their prejudice but are blind to all contradictory evidence. Perhaps there should be a word like “credulant.” Incidentally the Cornwall Foundation for one should not complain about being called deniers. Their website is full of things that they deny.

  7. Tom,
    I don’t particularly object to warmist and alarmist. I was mostly highlighting how the book used a positive term for one group, and more negative terms for the other.

  8. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    Being between the two positions

    It’s interesting that you cling to this self-deception. You aren’t “between the two positions.”

    There is no coherent, objective taxonomy that places “lukewarmers” between “skeptics” and “realists.” The terms function as Rorschach ink blots. Muller is a “skeptic.” No he isn’t. Judith is a “skeptic.”No she isn’t, she’s a “lukewarmer.”. No she isn’t. Almost all “skeptics” agree with the “consensus” that AGW is real. . Blah, blah, blah.

    People define their camps in self-serving ways that shift based on context. As an example, you use “climate concerned” as if you’re not one of those “concerned” about the climate even as you distinguish yourself from “skeptics” based on some self-serving portrayal that you’re “concerned” about climate change whereas “skeptics” aren’t. The only thing that is consistent is that people use the terms as a tool for identity warfare.

    people like Jacobson and the most vicious blog commenters

    Speaking of self-serving definitins, please define vicious blog commenters. Seems to me, as a diehard tribalist, you are rather often a ‘vicious” a blog-commenter.

  9. Willard says:

    > Burn ’em! burn ’em all!

    Ripping one’s shirt right at the start of thread is quite a feat.

    Could be an innovative application of the preemptive strike doctrine.

  10. Willard says:

    This is fine:

    I saw a cute reference to watermellons which suggests a better name for [AT’s] […]

    With the left, it is always about power and control. Compromise accepts and acknowleges a division of power and control…. that is why the left rejects it. Global warming is adopted by the left as just another excuse to gain control over individuals and businesses. Which fits right in with Trotsky’s observation that socialism changes the old addage “He who will not work, shall not eat.” to “He who will not obey, shall not eat.” It is all about gaining the power to control.

    We need a better class of contrarians.

  11. lerpo says:

    Probably the consensus position rather than the lukewarmer is the middle ground between deniers and alarmists.

  12. Tom, how can you be “between the two positions”? Either global warming is occurring or it is not. (The long-term temperature trend shows it is.) Either it is caused by greenhouse gas emissions or it is not. There are no convincing alternative explanations. It’s not the sun (trend insolation has actually decreased over the last decades) It’s not El Niño: that’s just a periodic transfer of heat from the oceans to the atmosphere. The “climate sceptics” have come up with a string of different explanations, not one of which leads the pack. We have a logical convincing explanation (greenhouse gases the concentration of which in the atmosphere has been increased by humans), versus a whole clump of contradictory alternatives, which by definition can’t all be right.

    We have known about the greenhouse effect of an atmosphere since Fourier in 1828, and about the defracting power of CO2 molecules since Maxwell’s discoveries. Arrhenius described the mechanism in a simplified form over 120 years ago.

    If the cost of the green alternatives were very high then we *might* ask whether the cost of averting a catastrophe which might possibly not occur is worth it. But renewables are cheaper than coal and everywhere except the US, cheaper than gas too. For example, in 2009 new solar cost 3.2 times new coal. This year it will cost 1/3rd new coal. The cost curves have completely inverted. If a string of experts inform you that the bridge you are about to cross is unsafe, but that the bridge right next to it, which you can reach without much additional effort, is 100% safe, why wouldn’t you prudently choose the safer bridge?

  13. Hi Nick, the Lukewarmer position is essentially that we think the data leans towards a lower level of atmospheric sensitivity than folks like ATTP and others here. My personal SWAG (and that’s all that anybody has at this point) is roughly 2.1C for a doubling of the concentrations of CO2.

  14. The force is strong with Mosher’s padawan. The hill to die on is the climate sensitivity (lukewarmer) hill. Nothing else matters. Even reality.

  15. RNS, we finally agree on something. Nothing else matters.

  16. I don’t even get how ‘2.1C climate sensitivity per 2x CO2’ is even a remotely supportable “SWAG” if we appear to be already at about a TCR of 1.1C…Oh, I am sure there is some arcane, fringe, fragile something I don’t get but could if only I properly applied myself… But I should go there because SWAG? Of the author of quickie hit job about stolen emails?

    On a thread which was gonna be about the peculiarities of BritCliScep?

  17. MarkR says:

    Do they point out how, for example, Delingpole’s articles are commonly full to the brim with absolute bullshit and laughably stupid arguments?

    If they didn’t do this, then charitable conclusions are that they haven’t read much about the topic they wrote a book about, or they haven’t grasped even basic critical and scientific tools needed to argue the topic they wrote a book about.

  18. anoilman says:

    rustneversleeps: “The force is strong with Mosher’s padawan. The hill to die on is the climate sensitivity (lukewarmer) hill. Nothing else matters. Even reality.”

    This was the inevitable next step for global warming deniers. If you can’t deny it any more, you have make it out to be less than it is.

  19. John Randall says:

    Not having heard of any of the authors, I thought that, because two of them are Goodbody and Posthumus, the book might be a satire. Alas, on further investigation, I found that it’s only a book by four people who don’t seem to know much about climate science.

  20. verytallguy says:

    Being between the two positions doesn’t automatically make me right on the science (although I believe I am).

    Very amusing!

    Given recent interactions, it’s very clear that your position, emotionally at least, is exactly the same as that of climate change denial. You *claim* to be following the science, yet when presented with evidence that contradicts this you simply refuse to acknowledge it. You cherry pick the science to exclude things inconvenient to address.

    That’s the exact same behaviour we see from climate change deniers. Start here.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/fact-mongering/#comment-136316

  21. Willard says:

    > You cherry pick the science […]

    Which cherries would I need to pick to get 2.1C as a central estimate, Very Tall? I only know of one.

    Shouldn’t I be including some uncertainty span too?

  22. Willard says:

    > On a thread which was gonna be about the peculiarities of BritCliScep?

    It’s an old law of ClimateBall.

  23. anoilman says:

    Willard: I keep forgetting… where’s your playbook? Its crisp, and to the point.

  24. MarkR,
    They do say (about Delingpole) but laces his bile with conspiracy theories from across the Atlantic, so they’re not exactly complimentary. However, I think there is a difference between Clarkson, who seems to think he’s mainly a satirist, and Delingpole, who actually seems to think that he’s a serious commentator.

  25. Hi Nick, the Lukewarmer position is essentially that we think the data leans towards a lower level of atmospheric sensitivity than folks like ATTP and others here. My personal SWAG (and that’s all that anybody has at this point) is roughly 2.1C for a doubling of the concentrations of CO2.

    That doesn’t seem to me to be a “lukewarm” outcome. The 1 degree rise we’ve already had is causing sufficiently severe consequences. Here in Oz, I have come to dread summer. Each year the heatwaves are hotter and longer and more unbearable. For example, in Adelaide, in the 50s there were 4 days a year when average temperatures exceeded 40 degrees C. Over the last decade that has grown to 40 days a year.

    I’m not a scientist, but I am an investment person. It has been my job for 40 years to look ahead and assess risks and trends. Who knows how much global temperatures will rise with a doubling of CO2? That’s still decades away. However, we do know that average temperatures are rising by 0.2 degrees C per decade. And every decade we take to cut emissions to zero means that temps will end up 0.2 C higher–which is also assuming that that rate doesn’t accelerate. Prudent public policy would not assume the best outcome, at the low end of the probability distribution, because the change is irreversible. If we get it wrong we are stuffed. What if the estimates are wrong and the rise is 3 degrees? It’s what investment ppl call the “fat-tail risks” (in other words, a non-normally distributed risk) which we must worry about.

    Even supposing all the experts are wrong, and global temps do stop rising even as CO2 doesn’t? What possible harm would we have done to switch to renewables which are cheaper than fossil fuels and far far cleaner? Electrifying our vehicle fleet would reduce urban air pollution, and EVs will have the same sticker price as ICEVs by 2022. They are already cheaper to run.

    To sum up: we know global temperatures are rising by 0.2 C per decade; we know this is caused by emissions of CO2 and methane; we know that renewables are cheaper and cleaner than fossil fuels, so even if the experts are wrong we would still make the world a better place by greening our energy. And we know we have very little time.

  26. Willard says:

    > I keep forgetting… where’s your playbook? Its crisp, and to the point.

    The Contrarian Matrix is crisper, but would need more love:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/

    The Neverending Audit is a pain to redo, as Tumblr kept changing its structure over the years and I can’t search within the posts as I used to do:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com

    Working on it these days. Will try to finish it next November. Ten years ought to be enough. You might like the ClimateBall tag. There is also a more luckewarm tag, but it needs some work. There are other tags.

    I’ve parked a ClimateBall website on WP:

    http://climateball.wordpress.com

    Not sure how far I’ll push this yet. We’ll see next year.

    The crispest I have is:

    https://dohumanscauseglobalwarming.wordpress.com/

  27. verytallguy says:

    Shouldn’t I be including some uncertainty span too?

    Well, I was going to add that basing policy on central estimates only is another sub optimal practice implicitly pushed by Tom.

  28. dikranmarsupial says:

    “thomaswfuller2 says:
    February 11, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    ATTP, surely you have noticed by now that many people, when they start a deep dive into the climate conversation, find skeptical arguments reasonable, interesting and appealing.

    Yes, people like being told what they want to hear. It’s a common cognitive bias. This is illustrated by the fact that plenty of “skeptics” seem to think the arguments that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is natural, or that the greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics, even though both claims are very, very, very obviously nonsense.

    Personally I generally call this group “skeptics”, not because it is an accurate term (although better if the quotes are left in), but because I want to discuss the science, rather than get into yet another tedious “nature of the debate debate”, that usually appears to be the result of “skeptics” wanting to evade my criticism of their scientific arguments.

    “alarmist” implies that the claims are in excess of those supported by the evidence, so in most cases (e.g. saying the IPCC is “alarmist”) is obvious insulting when applied to a scientist or scientific body.

  29. dikranmarsupial says:

    I should add that Roger Pielke Jr provides an excellent example of the evasion. I haven’t insulted him, or called him names, but the discussions I have had with him on twitter tend to end up with him raising the Skeptical Science “misinformers” page. Now I do have an association with SkS, having written some posts there and I was a moderator for a number of years. However I didn’t make the misinformers page, and indeed, I have argued against it. However the best Roger could do was to use the “nature of your associates debate debate” tactic, which is transparently evasion, especially when he continues to use it to evade scientific points after I had explained I had no part in writing it, had no power to change it, and had argued against it.

    Most of this bickering about labels comes from the climate skeptics and is just an attempt to avoid criticism of their scientific arguments and distract their “opponent” in the debate (the fact it is a debate immediately marks it as not being about the science).

  30. dikranmarsupial says:

    I would hope the chapter that mentions Dellingpole also mentions his famous interview on the BBC documentary series Horizon, where Paul Nurse very kindly provided him with an opportunity to make a complete fool of himself. For those who can access BBC iPlayer:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00y4yql/horizon-20102011-10-science-under-attack

    ISTR he went on a BBC interview recently an demonstrated he was equally clueless about trade after a no-deal Brexit.

  31. Dikran,
    No, I don’t think it does mention that interview. There seems to be quite a lot missing from a discussion about climate scepticism in the UK. I also saw that recent interview with Delingpole. It’s why I think Delingpole and Clarkson are different. They both may say equally stupid things, but I don’t recall Clarkson ever being invited onto a serious show about politics to discuss his views. Delingpole, on the other hand, seems to quite regularly make appearances on such shows.

  32. dikranmarsupial says:

    Pity. FWIW I don’t think Clarkson takes anything he says remotely seriously (I’ve no idea why anyone would, even on cars! ;o), he is just being controversial for the sake of entertainment. It seems pretty clear that Dellingpole on the other hand, does think he is a useful “interpreter of interpretations”.

  33. Steven Mosher says:

    ‘The force is strong with Mosher’s padawan. ”

    my only regret is that I had no effective way to monetize lukewarmer or treemometer. .

    maybe I should have done hats and T shirts.

  34. Steven Mosher says:

    “This was the inevitable next step for global warming deniers. ”
    It always struck me as stupid that they would waste so much time attacking the hard points of the science when the weak underbelly (1.5-6C) was right there in plain view from day 1.

  35. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Making the world lukewarm again” might even have two marketing opportunities – one before it happens, and one after it is exceeded? ;o)

    I don’t think 1.5-4.5C is not particularly a weak underbelly. There are always going to be uncertainties in estimating properties of the climate system and they are what they are. There is no problem in being a lukewarmer and thinking that they will turn out to be on the low end of the range. We are all entitled to our opinions. However if you want to argue that the rational course of action is inaction, then you need to show at least that is consistent with (say) the minimum expected risk recoomendation (which also depends on the loss function).

    I suspect the reason that skeptics tend to spend their time attacking sciences strongest points is that you need to do a lot more science/statistics to attack ECS than you do for e.g. the second law of thermodynamics attack, which only requires your audience to have the same half-understanding of thermodynamics that you do! ;o)

  36. “Others learn that the science is sound and that hypesters from NGOs, people like Jacobson and the most vicious blog commenters don’t really understand the science any better than some of the skeptics and that the argument is all about ramming your preferred policy prescription down the other fella’s throat.”

    I’m guessing the Jacobson is Mark Jacobson. You mean to say that Jacobson doesn’t understand that fossil fuels are a finite and non-renewable resource and that he’s on a fool’s errand in advocating for alternative energy sources? Got any better ideas?

  37. if the cultural elite of the UK sees lying to your friends as “recognisably British cultural pedigre” I start understanding the Murdoch press and the trouble the UK is in a lot better.

    It is hard to determine whose work is valuable in the social sciences and consequently a larger percentage of its academics and output will be below standard. I guess we as readers will have to put in more work to find those works that do add value.

    I am building a post-publication peer review system at
    https://grassroots.is
    It is designed to review scientific articles, because that is the world I know, but I wonder whether it would also work for books.

    The Humanities Commons has a beautiful commenting system for books. That would help the reader determine the quality of a book. I hope that becomes a standard.
    https://generousthinking.hcommons.org/1-introduction/the-liberal-arts/

  38. Do we have to have another luckwarm thread?

    That there are people who claim that 2+2=0, does not make people who claim 2+2=2 any more rational.

  39. lerpo says:

    I’d love to see the “But uncertainty!” folks and the “roughly 2.1C” folks duke it out.

  40. paulski0 says:

    lerpo,

    Same folks… somehow.

  41. Willard says:

    > maybe I should have done hats and T shirts.

    May I interest you in some auditing tees:

    ***

    > I was going to add that basing policy on central estimates only is another sub optimal practice

    Nevermind that, Very Tall. I really really want to become cool but not too cool kid. Quick question: how many years would 2.1 buy us?

    I hope it’s not a decade, for it’s already gone.

  42. Hi nicwitherspoon,

    The IPCC has already done what you asked and provided their assessment of the impacts of climate change. You will find it very reassuring, as it does not predict or project catastrophic consequences due to climate change. You can find it here:https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/

    If you have time to read it you will see that the IPCC perceives global warming as a threat to various earth systems. You will probably understand that the issue is well worth serious efforts to prepare for and/or prevent to the extent possible.

    You might also be surprised when finished to realize that the IPCC does not list very much at all in the way of catastrophe, huge death tolls, sunken cities, etc. Those come to us courtesy of hyperbolic NGOs.

    Sadly, it is distinctly possible that the Lucky Country may be disproportionately impacted by climate change. Without giving away what’s in the report, they project that dry areas may well get drier and that coral reefs may suffer further damage. What Oz has done in the way of putting up solar and even Muskrat batteries is good. You might also consider leaving your coal in the ground as a good second step.

  43. Tom,
    The IPCC, almost by definition, does not define how we should describe the impacts of climate change. It simply presents the information. Whether people regard these impacts as potentially catastrophic, or not, is mostly a judgement based on their assessment of the significance of these impacts. If you decide that these impacts should not be described as catastrophic, that’s – in my view – your choice. Others may disagree. I just wish people would simply acknowledge the position they choose to hold, rather than suggesting that they’re simply basing it on a synthesis report (which makes no real claims either way).

  44. And yet when I acknowledge the position I hold and do not suggest I am basing it on a synthesis report, but the actual report–which I, you know, actually read, we see the reception that such behavior receives.

    I agree that the IPCC sensibly does not define how we should describe impacts. That’s why I provided the link. Something that the climate concerned do not do. Not only do they not do it, they seem annoyed to see it. And they give very little sign of actually downloading the report and reading it.

  45. Willard says:

    > The IPCC has already done what you asked and provided their assessment of the impacts of climate change. You will find it very reassuring, as it does not predict or project catastrophic consequences due to climate change.

    “Catastrophic” does not seem to be listed in the IPCC’s glossary. Where is it defined? This seems to be Very Important. As Very Tall put it:

    Yet here you are, dug in to to the lukewarm salient, doing anything you can to avoid actually engaging with the glaring contradiction in your position.

    You simultaneously claim (let us use direct quotes, yes?) the IPCC does not project catastrophic outcomes, yet when presented with a projection of up to 5.8C warming, something you know to be catastrophic, you evade the logical conclusion again and again and again and again.

    You don’t actually follow the science on the IPCC, you merely find it convenient to claim that you do. When presented with incontrovertible evidence of this, you evade it.

    Have some self respect and show some honesty.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/fact-mongering/#comment-136601

    Vintage 2019-01-19. Time flies like an audit. Fruit flies like lukewarm bananas.

  46. Tom,
    Okay, but cknowledging a position doesn’t mean that it’s not worthy of criticism. I guess my point is that you seem to want to argue that the impacts are probably going to be less severe (in terms of how we might describe them) than the “climate concerned” suggest. Many people disagree with this and suggest (quite rightly, in my view) that if we don’t act soon to curtail emissions, the impacts could indeed be severely negative and may well be justifiably described as catastrophic.

    Something that the climate concerned do not do.

    Never?

  47. Hi ATTP,

    No, not never. Probably not even rarely. But the IPCC view of impacts is not an active part of the discussion by the climate concerned.

  48. Tom,
    That doesn’t sound remotely plausible to me. Probably not even worth debating, to be quite honest.

  49. Well, it is a bald assertion and it is difficult to prove a negative–I would have to page through news stories and blog posts and tell you ‘No, it isn’t mentioned here. And it isn’t mentioned here.’ So perhaps you’re correct about not being worth debating.

  50. Tom,
    It also seems rather pointless. The issue isn’t whether or not people cite the IPCC, it’s whether or not people refer to reliable sources and present a reasonable representation of our current understanding. The IPCC is a synthesis report; it’s not the Bible.

  51. Willard says:

    > Well, it is a bald assertion […]

    Repeatedly refusing to acknowledge that the IPCC indeed entertains scenarii that in less lukewarm setting would be called catastrophic while trying to blame hippies for not reading the IPCC’s reports is a bald performance overall.

  52. Dave_Geologist says:

    Steven, 1.5-6C is only a weak underbelly if you’re the sort of person who thinks he’ll always throw sixes at dice.

  53. anoilman says:

    Willard… #Luckwarm Sounds closer to reality. Quick! Monetize it before Mosher does!

    thomaswfuller2: I’m concerned about the climate, and I’m concerned about the impacts, and I reference the IPCC where ever I can. Of course.. the IPCC is just referencing real scientists work, so I’m not sure how that makes things look rosier. My home town is spending billions on protecting parts of the coast, and creating sacrifice zones to deal with sea level rise.

  54. [“But CAGW” peddling has reached its course. -W]

  55. anoilman says:

    Dave_Geologist: I throw lots of sixes… I even got a tattoo to that effect after it was determined I didn’t have cancer.

  56. anoilman, I am also concerned about the climate. I’m also concerned about the impacts. I also reference the IPCC whenever I can.

  57. Willard says:

    > I also reference the IPCC whenever I can.

    Start here:

    My personal SWAG (and that’s all that anybody has at this point) is roughly 2.1C for a doubling of the concentrations of CO2.

    That was a bit more than 12 hours ago.

  58. Marco says:

    “You will find it very reassuring, as it does not predict or project catastrophic consequences due to climate change. You can find it here:https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/

    From that link, specifically the Technical Summary:
    “Under 4°C warming, some models project large increases in fire risk in parts of the world. [4.3, Figure 4-6] 4°C warming implies a substantial increase in extinction risk for terrestrial and freshwater species, although there is low agreement concerning the fraction of species at risk. [4.3] Widespread coral reef mortality is expected with significant impacts on coral reef ecosystems (high confidence). [5.4, Box CC-CR] Assessments of potential ecological impacts at and above 4°C warming imply a high risk of extensive loss of biodiversity with concomitant loss of ecosystem services (high confidence). [4.3, 19.3, 19.5, Box 25-6]”
    and
    “Projected large increases in exposure to water stress, fluvial and coastal flooding, negative impacts on crop yields, and disruption of ecosystem function and services would represent large, potentially compounding impacts of climate change on society generally and on the global economy. [19.4 to 19.6]”
    Just as two examples of completely innocuous consequences that certainly will not result in much concern anywhere…(/sarcasm)

  59. anoilman says:

    Willard: Yeah I looked that up then, and realized he was just a LuckWarmer. (Where’s BBD to talk about Paleo when you need him.)
    https://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-sensitivity.htm

    Even if the lower numbers are what you want to go with, it misunderstands risk. Namely, the risk of something really bad happening is clearly far far far higher than the risk that something more benign will happen. It also fails to realize that there is no way to reverse the damage.

    If this was a car, it would to be a Lemon.

  60. Willard says:

    > It also fails to realize that there is no way to reverse the damage.

    It’s all about SWAG, Oil Man. Just as he was pressed to reconcile his own with the IPCC’s deliverables, our luckwarm fellow left the building. What you’re saying is in chap 12 of the AR5:

    A large fraction of climate change is largely irreversible on human time scales, unless net anthropogenic CO2 emissions were strongly negative over a sustained period. For scenarios driven by CO2 alone, global average temperature is projected to remain approximately constant for many centuries following a complete cessation of emissions.

    https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WG1AR5_Chapter12_FINAL.pdf

    One might argue that these centuries are nothing compared to the decades you win with luckwarm SWAG.

  61. verytallguy says:

    We’re so far into Brandolini territory on Tom Fuller, it hardly seems worth continuing.

    However, duty calls on this whopper:

    But the IPCC view of impacts is not an active part of the discussion by the climate concerned.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/impacts/

    One can only wonder if Tom will go into denial on this too.

  62. anoilman says:

    Steve Mosher said: “It always struck me as stupid that they would waste so much time attacking the hard points of the science when the weak underbelly (1.5-6C) was right there in plain view from day 1.”

    Honestly, why bother, its reasonable to say “you just don’t care”. Saying you don’t care, is true, and that’s not arguable. No one has to say more, and frankly you don’t have to defend it. I suspect that the forces that be realize that moral arguments for doing nothing are weak, so they directed their efforts towards saying the science must be wrong. (That was uncovered in oil company PR plans. Avoid morals, argue jobs.)

    Verytallguy: Don’t you miss the days when they would actually try to defend their positions? I mean, man it was easy to see through all the cr*p, and take it apart. Now all you get are platitudes, waffling, or worse, saying actual science says the opposite. Its just a game to them now.

  63. “With the left, it is always about power and control.”

    Not really. With humans, it’s mostly about power and control. The left understands this and wants to make it fair, honest and just.

    “The left supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others (prioritarianism) as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished (by advocating for social justice). The term left-wing can also refer to “the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system”.”
    “According to former professor of economics Barry Clark, “[leftists] claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated”.”
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-wing_politics

    It was a big mistake for the left to adopt the AGW hypothesis, narrative and bureaucracy. It isn’t left at all and it is very damaging for the left idea(l)s. What a pity!

  64. edim,
    What do you mean by the “big mistake”? Accepting AGW is, in my view, simply accepting for which there is overwhelming evidence. Some on the left, of course, use this to promote their particular ideals, but that’s mostly politics. I disagree with some of it, and I think some people do go too far, but I don’t know that this is something specific to the left.

  65. ATTP,

    It is not specific to the left of course, but the left should be better, much better. The left should be against corruption, bureaucracy and things that make the rich richer and the poor poorer, like the AGW mitigation policies, which furthermore do not reduce CO2 emissions significantly, if at all. The left is on the wrong side of the issue and this will be very harmful to it.

    Regarding evidence, I disagree and we probably cannot agree at this point.

  66. Dave_Geologist says:

    That’s the way to go edim. The left should deny the facts because… reasons. Trouble with facts is, they don’t care whether you believe them or not. Or believe them and pretend not to. Or believe them and keep quite because you just don’t care. Those pesky facts just keep on coming.

  67. Dave,

    I claim the opposite – the left should not deny the evidence that CO2 is not the major knob or that it may have no significantly effect at all or even that human emissions are not the main reason for the rise in atmospheric CO2. But even if you deny all this evidence, you cannot deny that the proposed mitigation policies are ineffective, expensive and will not be really implemented in the end. Who will force anyone to implemented them? It is naive to believe that. So, it’s a multiple no-brainer.

  68. Marco says:

    “the left should not deny the evidence that CO2 is not the major knob or that it may have no significantly effect at all or even that human emissions are not the main reason for the rise in atmospheric CO2. ”

    So you say that ‘the left’ should ignore scientific insights also. Well, that is going to work out just fine, I’m sure…

  69. verytallguy says:

    I claim the opposite – the left should not deny the evidence that CO2 is not the major knob or that it may have no significantly effect at all or even that human emissions are not the main reason for the rise in atmospheric CO2.

    You’re in denial. Time for my favourite graph:

    But even if you deny all this evidence, you cannot deny that the proposed mitigation policies are ineffective, expensive and will not be really implemented in the end. Who will force anyone to implemented them? It is naive to believe that. So, it’s a multiple no-brainer.

    On the contrary, fossil fuel emissions will ultimately cease, because fossil fuels are finite. The only choices we have are how and when, not if.

    So, it’s a multiple no-brainer.

    Indeed it is.

  70. verytallguy says:

    Hmmm, any chance of getting that graph in-line. Dunno what happened there.

    [Wrong link. You need to copy the file location. Fixed. -W]

  71. Steven Mosher says:

    “Steven, 1.5-6C is only a weak underbelly if you’re the sort of person who thinks he’ll always throw sixes at dice.”

    not really. it either is the only space where one can find a lever or it is not. has nothing
    to do with thinking you are lucky.

    my advice to skeptics way back when was to give up trying to deny c02 is a GHGS, thats
    hard armour. You think different?
    and give up trying to attack the temperature records, hard armour. you disagree?
    and the natural variability argument? pff, arguments from ignorance. stupid argument

    if you want to wage a war from inside the science, then go after the space with the most uncertainty. You probably WONT win, but you’ll look less the idiot than the guy who argues
    c02 is not a GHG and less the lunatic than the guy who believes all the records are frauds.
    But hey you want to argue that there is a better point to argue? be my guest, suggest one

    So best advice.. find the weakest part with the most leverage and apply your brains there.
    pretty standard stuff.

    Lewis listened. now you know his name.

    questions?

    what was your name again?

    as for rolling sixes. Yes, getting 100% renewables in 10 years is rolling sixes.
    some people and their hopeless optimism.

    In the end pragmatic solutions will prevail, because well, they are pragmatic.
    we will do what we can, and it probably wont be enough or optimal.

    shrugs.

  72. verytallguy says:

    No, edim.

    The linked one above.

    Your words: human emissions are not the main reason for the rise in atmospheric CO2.

    Continue your denial, be my guest.

  73. Dave_Geologist says:

    OK, got it edim. You don’t want the left to deny the science for tactical reasons, you yourself deny the science. And the progress that has been made: Offshore wind power cheaper than new nuclear.

    But, hey, you’re welcome to live in your fantasy world. Meanwhile, the rest of us will engage with the real world.

  74. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    The IPCC generally conservative when it comes to the science, Arctic sea ice and SLR are two areas that spring to mind. The last IPCC report was published in 2014, science moves on. As scientists spend more time studying impacts they generally find they are worse than previously thought.

    Also TCR and ECS tell us nothing about impacts.

  75. dikranmarsupial says:

    edim made him/herself look rather silly when he/she wrote ” or even that human emissions are not the main reason for the rise in atmospheric CO2.”

    This really is the stupidest of all climate skeptic arguments. Atmospheric CO2 is rising more slowly than we are emitting it, so assuming that conservation of mass applies (which I think is a pretty reasonable assumption), then the net effect of everything else (i.e. the natural carbon cycle) is OPPOSING the rise by taking more CO2 out of the atmosphere than it puts in. It is absurd that climate skeptics are still trotting out this ridiculous canard, given how much evidence exists to the contrary and how elementary the basic counter-arguments are!

    FWIW I wrote a peer-reviewed comment on a journal article making a similar claim, showing how we know the rise in atmospheric CO2 is essentially purely anthropogenic. The paper can be found here, and a freely available pre-print here.

  76. Chubbs says:

    SM:

    Re ECS uncertainty – Low ECS was a more plausible argument when warming was less than 1C. At 1.2C, with a large heat imbalance, its pretty clear a pair of sixes off the table. With losses ramping as 1.5C is approached, hopefully the players can spot a loosing bet before they are dragged away from the table.

  77. paulski0 says:

    Hyperactive Hydrologist,

    I think the IPCC have been largely vindicated on Arctic sea ice and sea level rise. September sea ice has not followed the accelerated “death spiral” others were suggesting and things are back on track with their projected trend. Subsequent studies of ice sheets have provided a better quantification of the long-tail, beyond likely, risks but haven’t altered the IPCC’s big picture. The real question there is how best to communicate extreme variation in uncertainty of different factors.

    Chubbs,

    Depends on the net forcing. WMGHGs + tropospheric Ozone + stratospheric water vapour take us pretty close to a CO2-equivalent doubling already. Near-zero aerosol forcing would return EffCS of about 1.5ºC. At the other end -2W/m2 aerosol forcing would return EffCS of about 6ºC.

  78. lerpo says:

    Lewis listened. now you know his name.

    Lewis aside, it’s a tricky strategy. You’ll notice even Tom had to simultaneously argue that sensitivity is roughly 2.1C (accurate to 1 decimal place no less) but that all anyone has is a wild ass guess (could be anything really). [Chill, -W].

    As far as delaying policy goes, denial is the best strategy.

  79. Willard says:

    > edim made him/herself look rather [not swaggy] when he/she wrote ” or even that human emissions are not the main reason for the rise in atmospheric CO2.” This really is the [swaggiest] of all climate skeptic arguments.

    It’s not an argument. It’s a claim. But it’s clearly a minority position in the Contrarian Matrix:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/lots-of-theories/

    All the other levels are compatible with the lukewarm playbook. All have more swag.

    ClimateBall is all about swag.

  80. dikranmarsupial says:

    ‘“Claim” it is; I just wish skeptics would stop making it. They may one day have a solid argument for something, and it would be a pity if they had already marginalised themselves from the discussion by avid pursuit of antiswag like this. I agree with Fred Singer on that (if not his choice of words)

    https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/02/climate_deniers_are_giving_us_skeptics_a_bad_name.html

  81. dikranmarsupial says:

    … or indeed anything else.

  82. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    ClimateBall is all about swag.

    Which completes the Circle-of-ClimateBall-Life – and we’re back to Tom Fuller’s:

    God forbid anybody should harbor sympathy for climate sceptics. Burn ’em! burn ’em all!

    Everyone who follows climate-related issues knows that “sceptics / contrarians / luckwarmers” have always received far more sympathy than the evidence supporting their various and sundry positions merit. But they complain about not getting a fair hearing anyway.

    We get swaggy shirt-rippng. And swaggy unsolitcited advice, complete with shrugs.

    And if, according to “Climate Change Scepticism: A transnational ecocritical analysis”, what James Delingpole does is “purvey hyperbolic satire with a recognisably British cultural pedigree” –
    then I think we can safely and immediately move on to the next round of swag for swagging swaggers.

  83. anoilman says:

    Mosher is just talking Machiavellian about tactics to win. That’s not an insult, and he didn’t claim he was right. (Well, in this thread, anyways.)

    Its always important to understand the meta in any game, and in this case the game is ClimateBall. In my opinion, all tactics from the onset have been to slow\prevent any efforts to deal with climate change.

    I’m surprised no one brings up the discount rate.
    https://grist.org/article/discount-rates-a-boring-thing-you-should-know-about-with-otters/

  84. Willard says:

    Otters have all the swag. That can’t be boring.

    Speaking of leverage, seems that researchers looked under the IAMs’ hoods:

    What they found may not be swaggy.

  85. izen says:

    An eye-catching discrepancy in those graphs is the gap between the triangles and the crosses (+) on the graphs if you ignore the lines.
    AFAIK they represent the estimates of PV costs from the Energy Information America and a German energy information source (DIW).
    It is not hard to guess which estimate is consistently double or more the other. Does anyone know why?

  86. Willard. When someone posts a chart saying, essentially, if you wait a few years PV will cost half as much, doesn’t that suggest waiting a few years?

  87. Willard says:

    If you’re to ask leading questions, JeffN, you might as well continue your policy of dodging my points.

  88. Come to think of it, why did anyone ever buy a computer or smartphone? Should have waited.

  89. Willard says:

    > Does anyone know why?

    When the universal papers repository will stop go 503 on me, I’ll check.

    Meanwhile, related:

  90. Willard says:

    Alright. Here’s what the authors say in conclusion:

    Large differences both in the structural representation of technology and its numerical parameterization across the national and global IAMs were found. At the same time, the review makes clear that just looking at the numbers is not enough, in particular when it comes to comparing assumptions across different models, as this may lead to wrong conclusions. In addition to the numbers, the rationale of projecting techno-economic parameters into the future is key to put the numbers into context and to enable a meaningful comparison across different IAMs.

    Also, it is important to keep in mind that a certain technology in one model is not competing with technologies in other models, but with other technologies in within [?] the same model. Thus, the relative differences of different technologies in the same model are important for the decision making within the model, not the differences across models. In other words, if in one model technology costs are a factor of 2 lower compared to another model across the board, but the relative differences in costs across technologies are similar in both models, the resulting technology portfolios can actually be quite similar. Yet, the resulting total investments in the electricity sector would be different by a factor of 2 in such a situation if demand levels are similar.

    I have no access to the appendices, so I can’t look under the hood of a paper that looks under the hood.

  91. Mal Adapted says:

    Those who accept that the globe is warming and that humans are the cause, but say it won’t be catastrophic, are denying that more than zero persons have already lost their homes, livelihoods and lives to AGW. Shouldn’t the victims get to say whether AGW is catastrophic or not?

    I’m with anoilman:

    Honestly, why bother, its reasonable to say “you just don’t care”. Saying you don’t care, is true, and that’s not arguable. No one has to say more, and frankly you don’t have to defend it.

    When lukewarmers says AGW won’t be catastrophic, they mean they don’t think it will be more than an inconvenience for them, and other people’s costs can never amount to catastrophe. The lukewarmers would otherwise have to explicitly reject responsibility for their socialized costs, for which they’d get little sympathy. Their fallback is to insist that policies requiring them to internalize their private marginal climate-change costs are soshulizm.

  92. anoilman says:

    I’d need to see the actual paper it understand what its talking about. My experience with grid level discussions is that it is really really easy to confuse terms, and its easy reach the wrong conclusions.

    One absolutely obvious issue in those graphs is that those costs are based on what came before. Utilities work in huge (20?) year time frames, and they can’t predict everything. The massive economic collapse came just before that, when grids were being built to suit GROOOWTH, (SWAAAAG?) which never happened.

    There is in fact a real gap between how much grid capacity is provided ($$$$$) versus how much is actually needed ($$$). Deniers have been busy blaming renewables for all their energy cost problems, but that’s simply not the case;
    https://onlineacademiccommunity.uvic.ca/2060project/2016/01/13/understanding-ontarios-global-adjustment/
    “Many of the policies and contracts that have defined Ontario’s electricity sector were put in place to ensure adequate supply expecting a large need for new generation to replace retiring coal plants and meet new load growth. However, since 2006 electrical demand has actually decreased by 8% in Ontario. As a result, these policies have generated a large surplus of supply in the province leading to very low wholesale market prices. …”

    I’m just saying you really really gotta look closely to understand papers in these fields. There are a lot of gotchas.

  93. When lukewarmers says AGW won’t be catastrophic, they mean they don’t think it will be more than an inconvenience for them, and other people’s costs can never amount to catastrophe.

    It is not that easy. Then the US right would also admit they do not care about property rights and with that about capitalism.

    They already vacated that area with their enthusiastic support of Donald Trump and his tariffs, trade wars, micro-management of the economy, subsidies for special interests and love of (internet) monopolies. Especially the climate “sceptics” at WUWT love Trump, maybe a good name for them would be climate Trumps, but officially they still claim to love capitalism.

  94. Lukewarmers et al are simply the Inteligent Designers to the creationist debate, they are engaging in a “managed retreat” (the Tobacco crowd do the same) as they come up against observable measurable reality

    ID’ers mostly except “micro evolution”, like lukewarmers except the basic science behind AGW, but both don’t like the implications of where “acceptance” actually leads

  95. How apt to slam Lukewarmers by misspelling intelligent. It doesn’t take much to make my day…

  96. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Oh the irony….

  97. Willard says:

    My favorite Very Intelligent ClimateBall player is Bjorn. Here he is, with a dilemma distinctive of the Lomborg Collective:

    Even if Switzerland did not have enough chairs for both Greta and BillN around the same table, I’m sure Greta would have stood up next to the table to watch them all eat.

  98. Willard says:

    By Very Intelligent, I am referring to this:

  99. dikranmarsupial says:

    “It doesn’t take much to make my day…”

    I’d say you ought to fill your day with more interesting things if it can be made by a mildly ironic spelling mistake.

    fimo bubulo longa; vita brevis

  100. anoilman says:

    Dikran: If he’s looking for spelling mistakes, he could follow John Mashey around and auto-correct him. Frankly, it would be a public service, and I don’t think John would mind.

    Personally, I are and engineer, so… spelling is hardly a requirement so solve the industry’s hardest problems.

    Willard: Lomborg has a Phd in manipulating how people vote, and last I checked that’s all the ‘science’ he’s actually published.

  101. dikranmarsupial says:

    I are an engineer also. I’m generally more interested in content than presentation (although I appreciate irony as much as anybody ;o)

  102. @thomas, you are welcome, I have wasted a full hour reading your derivative, denialist, evasive nonsense on this and the fact mongering thread

    Give up man, you and your crowd are being laughed at, have you no self respect

  103. Willard says:

    Please, Older One.

    More swag, and mind your nick.

  104. BBD says:

    Since the echoes of Tom’s SWAGging are still audible… I understand SWAG to mean ‘scientific wild-assed guess’. Now Tom’s not a scientist, climate or otherwise, so it’s arguable that he isn’t really in a position even to claim that what he said actually constitutes a SWAG.

    By contrast, there is a collection of actual SWAGs from actual climate scientists with domain expertise in sensitivity studies, which deserves a browse when evaluating Tom’s claims.

  105. anoilman says:

    In case the deniers out there can’t click BBD’s link… Here’s the expert SWAG;

  106. Sure, but he spelled intelligent wrong, so checkmate, climate sensitivity is low.

  107. BBD says:

    Spelling Wrong Argument Gone

  108. Ken Fabian says:

    SWAG? I seem to have missed something. So What All Good? Swag(ger)? I can usually figure these things out by context but not this time.

  109. Since I was ever aware of it, it was always “Some Wild-Assed Guees”.

    Per usual hereabouts, though, generally too much inside baseball… bwtfdik…

  110. Joshua says:

    Someone Who Aggravates. Ggratuitously.

  111. Mal Adapted says:

    rsn:

    Sure, but he spelled intelligent wrong, so checkmate, climate sensitivity is low.

    Heh. Any credibility I have, I owe to the Chrome spellchecker module.

  112. Jeffh says:

    Don’t get me started on Lomborg. His views on anything related to science and policy wouldn’t pass muster in an elementary school class. He perpetually bleats on about threats posed by climate change to the poor south as if they are existential, and as if entrenched poverty was somehow ‘an accident of history’. Nowhere is his warped narrative is the equity dilemma ever spelled in terms of the dominant political system – neoliberal, predatory capitalism – or the fact that developed nations are utterly dependent on resources and capital from the poor, underdeveloped south to maintain the obscene ecological deficits that are prevalent among nations in the rich north. Many books have been written about this from prominent economists like Patrick Bond, but Lomborg’s world is a fantasy construct akin to la-la land.

    What the ‘poor masses’ Lomborg refers to need are not tidy, little econometric models from Nobel Prize winning economists or risible advice from egotistical pseudo-academics like himself, but social justice and equity.

  113. Small Change says:

    Brilliant piece. It breaks my heart that so many people still see climate “scepticism” as a valid position. These people do not question the science that put a smartphone in their hand or the lightbulbs in their houses, but when a near consensus is reached within the scientific community that AGW will have disastrous effects very soon, suddenly they’re not so sure about this whole ‘science’ thing. Apparently the scientific method is only effective when its findings are in line with what people want to believe. I don’t want to believe it either, it’s god damn scary, but when the people best equipped to predict trends in the climate are telling you that the climate is about to be royally skewed, it is a very good idea to listen. I wrote an article yesterday on 3 things you should know about AGW. Both climate sceptics and reasonable people are invited to have a read. Thanks again for the great article!
    https://adambolandblog.com/2019/04/24/3-things-you-should-really-know-about-climate-change/

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