No, a cherry-picked analysis doesn’t demonstrate that we’re not in a climate crisis

This is a repost of an article that I wrote for Skeptical Science, with help from @TheDisproof, who has been very active on Twitter debunking various climate myths.

A group of Italian scientists recently published a paper in which they critically assessed extreme [weather] event trends. This has received quite a lot of attention amongst some “skeptics” since it concludes that 

…on the basis of observational data, the climate crisis that, according to many sources, we are experiencing today, is not evident yet.

Before addressing what was presented in this paper, it’s worth making some general comments. Not only is there overwhelming agreement that humans are causing global warming (Cook et al. 2013; Cook et al. 2016), the latest IPCC report went so far as to say that it is now unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land since pre-industrial times (Eyring et al. 2021). However, whether or not this implies a climate crisis, or a climate emergency, is a judgement that cannot be decided by a scientific analysis alone.

What’s also become clear is that stopping global warming, and the associated changes to the climate, will require getting human emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, to (net) zero (MacDougall et al. 2020). Hence, a judgement of whether or not we’re in a climate crisis should not really depend only on an assessment of the human influence to date, but also on an assessment of what could happen in the future and what might be required so as to limit how much more is emitted before reaching (net) zero.

The paper also focussed primarily on what is referred to as Detection and Attribution. This is a two-step process in which a change in some climatic variable is first detected, and then an analysis is carried out to assess if that change can be attributed to an anthropogenic influence. However, as this recent Realclimate article highlights, attribution doesn’t necessarily require first detecting some change. It is possible to determine an anthropogenic influence for an individual extreme event, and there are now many examples of extreme events that have been linked to human-caused climate change.

Additionally, the paper only considered 5 types of extreme events, ignoring that there are many other potential impacts of climate change. For example sea level rise, changing weather patterns, wildfires, ocean acidification, impacts on ecosystems, and even the possibility of compound events. As Friederike Otto points out in this article, they don’t even have a section on heatwaves, “where the observed trends are so incredibly obvious.” In fact, in the same article, the experts who were quoted regarded the cherry-picking and manipulation as so egregious that some called for the paper to be retracted. 

These criticisms have now been acknowledged by the Journal, which has added an Editor’s note to the paper saying “Readers are alerted that the conclusions reported in this manuscript are currently under dispute. The journal is investigating the issue.

Journal page

The authors of the paper also submitted their paper four weeks after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) AR6 WGI report. The paper does mention this report, but then largely ignores what it presents. For example, they failed to note that it is stated in the Summary for Policymakers that “Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their attribution to human influence, has strengthened since AR5“. 

The first type of extreme event considered in the paper is hurricanes, often referred to as tropical cyclones (TCs). There is still a lot of debate about whether or not there has been detectable change in TC activity that can be attributed to a human influence (Knutson et al. 2019). Some work does indeed detect an increase in TC intensity over the last few decades (Kossins et al. 2020), which is consistent with what would be expected in a warming world (Emanuel 2020). Other work, however, suggests that – in some cases – the trends are a consequence of observational biases, rather than being real (Vecchi et al. 2021). However, even the latter paper concludes that “climate variability and aerosol-induced mid-to-late-20th century major hurricane frequency reductions have probably masked century-scale greenhouse-gas warming contributions to North Atlantic major hurricane frequency.

One complication with attributing a human influence to TCs is that human-induced warming is expected to reduce the total number of TCs, but cause an increase in the frequency and intensity of the strongest ones. Consequently, metrics that consider all TCs can show little in the way of trends, even if there has been an anthropogenic influence (Kang & Elsner 2016). If one considers the strongest TCs, then there are indeed indications that the strongest ones are getting more frequent.

Additionally, there are other ways in which TCs can be influenced by human-driven warming. Global warming could lead to an increase in the frequency of rapid intensification events (Emanuel 2017) and a poleward migration of the latitude of maximum TC intensity (Kossins et al. 2016). Sea level rise, which can definitively be attributed to human-driven warming, will also lead to enhanced storm surge. Similarly, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour, intensifying the precipitation associated with a TC and increasing the risk of severe flooding.

So, even if there is still debate about whether or not there is an attributable trend in TC activity, there are many others ways to assess an anthropogenic influence, and there is now plenty of evidence that TCs have already been influenced by human-caused warming, and little doubt that this will continue as humans continue to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The paper also looked at droughts and floods, tornadoes, extreme precipitation events, and global greening and agricultural production. Droughts are complex phenomena that are not easy to study, but there is clear evidence that climate change is making drought worse, and there is evidence that anthropogenic influences are impacting global drought frequency, duration, and intensity (Chiang et al. 2021). Similarly, both observations and models indicate that total precipitation from intense precipitation events doubles for each degree of global warming (Myhre et al. 2019). The latest IPCC WG1 report says “The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events have increased since the 1950s over most land area for which observational data are sufficient for trend analysis (high confidence), and human-induced climate change is likely the main driver”

On the other hand, our current understanding of how global warming might influence tornadoes is so uncertain that we don’t really know if there is a link between human-induced climate change and tornadoes. It’s certainly the case that CO2 from human emissions has led to global greening and has influenced agricultural production. However, there are already signs that nutrient constraints and water stress is counteracting this effect. For example, drought and tree mortality in the tropics is offsetting enhanced plant productivity in the Arctic.

Clearly, analysing how human-driven global warming is influencing extreme events is very challenging and there is still ongoing debate about the link between climate change and these extreme events. However, there is clear evidence that human-induced climate change is already impacting many extreme events. The link will almost certainly become clearer with time and the expectation is that climate change will make many extreme events more intense and more frequent.

This understanding isn’t challenged by a simplistic, and selective, analysis that ignores many other lines of evidence that demonstrate a link between extreme events and human-caused warming. Also, as mentioned above, we cannot determine if we’re in a climate crisis, or not, using a scientific analysis alone. It requires a judgement about the impacts to date, the potential future impacts, and what we might need to do to limit the overall impact. If the authors feel that the label ‘climate crisis’ is not appropriate, then they are making a subjective choice that – today – is at odds with the views of many other experts, organisations, and even some governments.


Chiang, F., Mazdiyasni, O., AghaKouchak, A., Evidence of anthropogenic impacts on global drought frequency, duration, and intensity, Nature Communications, 12, 2754.
Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S. A., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., … & Skuce, A. (2013). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2), 024024.
Cook, J., Oreskes, N., Doran, P. T., Anderegg, W. R., Verheggen, B., Maibach, E. W., … & Nuccitelli, D. (2016). Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming. Environmental Research Letters, 11(4), 048002.
Emanuel, K., 2020, Evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117, 13194-13195.
Emanuel, K., 2017, Will Global Warming Make Hurricane Forecasting More Difficult?, Meteorological Society, 98, 495-501.
Eyring, V., N.P. Gillett, K.M. Achuta Rao, R. Barimalala, et al., 2021: Human Influence on the Climate System. In Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte,V.,P.Zhai, et al.(eds.)]. CambridgeUniversityPress, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 423–552.
Knutson, T., Camargo, S.J., Chan, J.C.L., et al., 2020, Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change Assessment: Part I: Detection and Attribution, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 100, 1987-2007.
Kossins, J.P., Knapp, K.R., Olander, T.L., Velden, C.S., 2020, Global increase in major tropical cyclone exceedance probability over the past four decades, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117, 11975-11980.
Kossins, J.P, Emanuel, K.A., Camargo, S.J., 2016, Past and Projected Changes in Western North Pacific Tropical Cyclone Exposure, Journal of Climate, 29, 5725-5739.
MacDougall, A.H., Frölicher, T.L., Jones, C.D., et al., 2020, Is there warming in the pipeline? A multi-model analysis of the Zero Emissions Commitment from CO2, Biogeosciences, 17, 2987-3016.
Myhre, G., Alterskjaer, K., Stjern, C.W., et al., 2019, Frequency of extreme precipitation increases extensively with event rareness under global warming, Scientific Reports, 9, 16063.
Vecchi, G.A., Landsea, C., Zhang, W., Villarini, G., Knutson, T., 2021, Changes in Atlantic major hurricane frequency since the late-19th century, Nature Communications, 12, 1-9.

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320 Responses to No, a cherry-picked analysis doesn’t demonstrate that we’re not in a climate crisis

  1. Tom Fuller says:

    I think it would be helpful (from a Lukewarmer’s perspective) for you or someone here to land on an agreed definition of ‘crisis,’ much in the same vein as many of us called for an agreed definition of ‘catastrophe.’

    Perhaps you could cite what number of climate refugees, relocated structures, lost lives due to drought and flood, agricultural land no longer cultivable…

    Maybe starting with your personal definition of crisis?

  2. Tom,
    Part of the point I’m making is that it is a subjective judgement and that you can’t determine this with a scientific analysis alone.

    FWIW, my personal concern is mostly related to the likely irreversibility (on human timescales) of climate change. Hence, it is an issue that we cannot reverse if it does turn out to be severely negative. Hence, maybe we should take it seriously now and act to limit how much more CO2 is emitted, while also recognising the importance of developing resilience and reducing vulnerability. Does that definitively qualify as a crisis? I don’t know.

  3. Tom Fuller says:

    Hi ATTP,

    I don’t know either, but thanks for your reply. I would volunteer the observation that not all change, irreversible or not, leads to crisis. It’s a thin reed to clutch, but humanity has not only adapted to major earth changes, it has benefited from some.

    We are changing the climate and it might well be bad for the planet and for us. That should be incentive enough to motivate change–but not all agree, it seems. As I have been placed in the basket with many of them, I have gotten to know some of them quite well. And I think many could be convinced–but not by the messages that have been used to date.

    I wish you the very best of luck in finding a story that will convince them.

  4. Tom,

    I wish you the very best of luck in finding a story that will convince them.

    Not really trying to convince anyone.

    It’s a thin reed to clutch, but humanity has not only adapted to major earth changes, it has benefited from some.

    You might need to define what you mean by “humanity” and “benefit” and potentially consider “survival bias”.

  5. To maybe clarify my final point. It seems possible that under almost all possible scenarios there could be a future in which people living at that time are moslty thriving. If this is all you care about, and you think that this is likely, then maybe you don’t really care about the near- to mid-term impact of climate change.

    However, it also seems likely that if we don’t act to limit the impact of climate change, that many people will suffer as we progress from where we are now to this future where people mostly thrive. My own preference is to aim to get to that future while also acting to limit near-term suffering, rather than assuming that somehow humanity will adapt to the changes and end up benefitting. Adapting doesn’t – IMO – mean “no suffering”.

  6. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    > As I have been placed in the basket with many of them, I have gotten to know some of them quite well. And I think many could be convinced–but not by the messages that have been used to date.

    It seems to me that inevitably, your comments lead to something like this’ It’s about you. It’s about labeling. It’s about how some people have been mis-labeled. It’s about how messaging won’t convince those people who are being mis-labeled.

    Not that I think those issues are irrelevant, exactly, but to me it seems mostly off track. The identity-based bickering and the associated identity-based cognition is likely to lead nowhere, imo, except more of the same.

  7. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Thanks for the post. Two questions – the first is whether you e read any of RPJr’s recent stuff on extreme weather attribution?

    The second is whether, given the issue of the potentially limited utility of looking at trends in rate of extreme (and relatedly relatively rare) events over a relatively limited time period (say 70 years) is sufficient for detecting trends. Seems to me that this is about risk, and identifying trends under those conditions has only limited utility for identifying risk going forward into a situation where the relevant variables are significantly different than they have been until this point. Does that make sense?

  8. Joshua,
    I have seen some of RPJs recent stuff.

    I do think your point makes sense. I think one of the problems in trying to identify trends in extreme events that are rare and the data has all sorts of potential problems. So, my preference is similar to what you suggest. It’s more about considering the risk of these events becoming much more intense and frequent, than it is about definitively demonstrating that they have already done so.

    One potential issue with attribution is that it runs the risk of people insisting on some kind of high-confidence statement of attribution and that not being able to deliver such a result can then be interpreted as “we don’t know” or “there’s nothing happening yet”.

    Another issue is that it’s not only about individual extreme events. There are a whole host of potential impacts from climate change and even the possibility of compound events that – in isolation – may be manageable, but together create a much more severe impact.

    If all we had to worry about was an increase in the intensity and frequency of one type of extreme event, maybe we’d be not too concerned, but that isn’t the issue. It’s the overall impact of a changing climate that will continue to change until human emissions got to ~zero, which also includes the possibility of an increase in the intensity and frequency of the type of events that often have a big impact.

  9. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Thanks. I know I’d seen you mention that question in the past and was wondering if this post might mean something of a shift on your view. Perhaps the other issue you raised, of the compounding effect, is relevant.

    I thought of maybe a good analogy.

    I know that looking at my phone while driving is a risky behavior even though I have looked at my phone while driving and never had a accident.

    I also know that the level of risk I take on by looking at my phone while driving is proportional to the number of times I do so going forward, also without there being any trend at all in the number of accidents I’ve had as I’ve increased the amount I look at my phone while driving.

  10. Willard says:

    > many of us called for an agreed definition of ‘catastrophe.’

    “But CAGW” is the central square of the Climateball Bingo:

    “But CAGW”

    Does it mean that contrarians rely on their subjective impressions about what would count as a catastrophe, human or else?

  11. Joshua,
    To be honest, I can’t tell if my view has changed, or not, mostly because I can’t quite remember what it once was.

    I’ll have to think about the analogy. I guess in some sense, a changing climate means either we’ll experience more intense versions of events we’ve experienced before, and possibly more frequently and, in some regions, maybe experience events that have never really been experienced there before. If it’s a wealthy region, maybe it just becomes a question of investing in resilience and reducing vulnerability. If not, it then becomes possible that developing the required resilience is essentially out of reach.

    Plus, there may well be adaptability limits. Maybe there are some scenarios where it may not be strictly impossible to develop suitable resilience, but it is essentially impossible. One example might be heat stress. If regions start to experience wet bulb temperatures close to 35C, that might be very difficult to deal with, especially if many people would typically work outside.

    To go back to your earlier comment about the limited utility of looking at trends, this Realclimate post by Michael Tobis may be relevant.

  12. Joshua says:

    Thanks. That article by MT is clear and succinct.

  13. Bob Loblaw says:

    At the risk of being pedantic, we can always look to a dictionary to see some common definitions of a term.

    crisis (plural crises)

    1) A crucial or decisive point or situation; a turning point.
    2) An unstable situation, in political, social, economic or military affairs, especially one involving an impending abrupt change.
    3) (medicine) A sudden change in the course of a disease, usually at which point the patient is expected to either recover or die.
    4) (psychology) A traumatic or stressful change in a person’s life.

    I’m having a major crisis trying to wallpaper the living room.

    5) (drama) A point in a drama at which a conflict reaches a peak before being resolved.

    Terms like “turning point”, “impending abrupt change”, “stressful change”, and “before being resolved” suggest to me that you can be in a crisis even if a scientific examination of past events (up to the current date) are not showing that $%^& has already happened.

    But if your goal is to delay any response, the “nothing to see here” redefinition of “crisis” is a handy obfuscation.

  14. dikranmarsupial says:

    “much in the same vein as many of us called for an agreed definition of ‘catastrophe.’”

    Given CAGW is laregly a coinage of the skeptics, shouldn’t they define it?

  15. dikranmarsupial says:

    … of course skeptics won’t define CAGW because it would be a statement about their values and the whole point about bickering about the science is precisely to avoid the discussion about values, which is the thing that is preventing progress.

    The problem is that it may not be a catastrophe for person A (in the developed world) for the event to be catastrophic for person B (perhaps in the developing world, who doesn’t have the resources required for adaption). Discounting happens.

  16. I used to believe that we were already in a climate catastrophe because I could read reports and news that indicated a lot of folks in the global south were already experiencing weather calamities, heat waves, floods, etc. that could be attributed to the increase in global heat that we have already produced. When I thought that way, it seemed pretty unfair because most of the carbon emissions appear to have come from the global north, so I thought maybe us northerners might be obligated to act quickly to stop the immediate warming. When I thought about that obligation, I figured the best thing we northerners could do was to slam the door on methane emissions because that is such a potent greenhouse gas and this would be the quickest way to actually dramatically slow global temp rise. I also figured that slamming the door on methane would coincidentally provide us with some carbon emission relief and give us the tools and playbook on reducing CO2 emissions. Thanks primarily to discussion here, I have come to realize that the work on methane is a distraction that could slow our real work on CO2 emission reduction. It almost goes without saying the methane is a flow gas and CO2 is a stock gas. Nuff said about that, I think.

    As to unfortunate folks in the global south who think they are experiencing climate catastrophe, maybe they are like the young people who are doing a lot of whining about the “climate hand” they have been dealt. Just play your cards and stop the whining, right?

    Here in the PNW, we are still having great weather and things seem pretty darn good. It’s a little too smokey and we definitely need more rain, but all in all, things are fine. I certainly do not look around here and conclude that we are in a global catastrophe. We do need to manage the influx of outsiders coming here to live. We have enough people here already, but that seems like something we can manage. Our northern and eastern borders with the outside world are already under control and we can coordinate with Oregon to control the traffic from the south if we work at it, so really… no problem.

    If we were to rank regional problems, I think the price of gasoline in the PNW is a larger immediate concern than some future climate catastrophe. I don’t think gasoline prices have reached crisis stage yet, but if we are ordering our concerns, then I think getting the gas prices down in the PNW should be very high on the list. Reducing CO2 emissions is probably in the middle of the list. Reducing methane emissions doesn’t even make the list for me anymore.

    It has been a great relief and boon to me personally to have been assisted by this group to be less reactive to the occasional bad weather story. It’s not the end of the world if Florida or Pakistan go underwater from time to time. That’s why I don’t live in those places. It does seem to me that climate change plays some part in these distant events, but we should all take a deep breath and think about the big picture and the longer time frame. I expect that we will see a lot of amazing technological work between now and 2100 that will soften the impact of global warming. We need to be patient and stay away from declaring a crisis or catastrophe every time a state or nation goes under water for a short period of time. I have read repeatedly that the alarmists who exaggerate our problems are doing harm to our amazing efforts to reduce the CO2 emissions. I think just say NO to the alarmists. We got this.

    Check out the good news on CO2 here:

    it’s pretty amazing!



  17. jacksmith4tx says:

    We are the apex predator of this planet. Our power is our technology. We can use it wisely and minimize our impact to the rest of the biosphere or we could become self-destructive and hasten our own inevitable extinction.
    One argument against long-term growth is that we will run out of resources. Malthus worried about running out of farm land, Jevons warned that Britain would run out of coal, and Hubbert called Peak Oil.

    Fears of shortages lead to fears of “overpopulation”. If resources are static, then they have to be divided into smaller and smaller shares for more and more people. In the 01960s, this led to dire predictions of famine and depredation.

    But predictions of catastrophic shortages virtually never come true. Agricultural productivity has grown faster than Malthus realized was possible. And oil production, after a temporary decline, recently hit at an all-time high
    One reason is that predictions of shortages are based on conservative estimates from only proven reserves. Another is that when a resource really is running out, we transition off of it—as, in the 01800s, we switched our lighting from whale oil to kerosene.

    But the deeper reason is that there’s really no such thing as a natural resource. All resources are artificial. They are a product of technology. And economic growth is ultimately driven, not by material resources, but by ideas.”

  18. Joshua says:

    In all fairness to my friend Tom, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to talk about the use of the term “crisis.” I question the use of that term a lot with respect to the “replication crisis” – where I think the use of “crisis” isn’t substantiated, as it’s unclear to me whether un-replicable research is increasing as a % of overall research or whether there is some kind of net negative impact signaled by the low rates of replication.

    According to the definitions that Dikran quoted, I personally think that the term “crisis” is appropriate – but I think the common parlance connotation of “crisis” makes the use of the term sub-optimal, as it suggests (to me) a more short-term focus when I think the focus is more optimally directed at the longer-term risk scenarios.

  19. Joshua says:

    I should have said I think the use of “crisis” is technically appropriate, it maybe not so much in the common parlance.

    I find I have a generally negative reaction to the use of that term – although it’s clear to me that a focus on precisely which term is used is commonly just rhetorical gamesmanship.

  20. Joshua,

    In all fairness to my friend Tom, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to talk about the use of the term “crisis.”

    I agree. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to talk about its use. However, one point is that it’s a subjective judgement. Hence, a scientific analysis can’t – by itself – tell you if it is one. Also, I don’t think me – for example – explaining why I think it is one is going to convince Tom, or any others who think it isn’t.

    So, it’s not unreasonable to talk about its use, but I don’t think defining it will somehow convince those who think it isn’t.

  21. I don’t think we have sufficient evidence to conclude that the 35C wet bulb is actually a big problem. I am not aware of any regions where such a heat wave has occurred and produced any large bump in deaths for healthy adults. Let’s slow down a bit and see if this will turn out to be a problem.

  22. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to talk about its use. However, one point is that it’s a subjective judgement.”

    I also agree with that. However climate doesn’t need to be a crisis in order for net zero to be a sensible thing to work towards, it just needs to be the rational action to maximise our gain in realising our values. A lot of the talk about whether we face a crisis or not is just more prevarication.

  23. I do not like where this talk of crisis is going. If we give in and start talking a climate crisis, isn’t that just another way of trying to raise an alarm? Which is to say, crisis is simply another word for alarm and I have accepted the idea that raising an alarm, being an alarmist, is actually counter-productive to our ongoing efforts to resolve the CO2 emission situation. I am inclined to talk about our situation or condition with greenhouse gases and global temps. That has a positive connotation and won’t scare folks and cause them to give up on addressing our situation.

    Please give this some consideration. I do not want to go back to being alarmed about the global temperature situation. It was getting so bad when I was considering our situation in terms like alarm or crisis that it even disturbed my sleep sometimes. I know I will sleep better if we talk about climate conditions and stay away from crisis or alarm terminology.

    Give that some thought please. Review the link I posted about all the good news on CO2 if you need to set concerns in proper perspective. Thanks


  24. russellseitz says:

    I’m downloading the paper. Springer identifies the European Physical Journal Plus as a journal of The Italian Physical Society , and it is remarkable that, apart from its conclusions still being editorially contested ten months after publication, a politically charged paper on so broad a topic a the policy ramifications of parameter selection in global climate modeling , was submitted to a nuts-and-bolts physics journal dealing largely with material experiments.

    ATTP justly notes that:

    “whether or not this implies a climate crisis, or a climate emergency, is a judgement that cannot be decided by a scientific analysis alone.’

    which though a But CAGW! lightning rod remains true , because models are not things ,and judging the results of their intercomparison is a metaphysically and politically entangled enterprise.

    As is human response to the increasing incursion of extreme climatic events into zones historically regarded as temperate, because the harm they due increasingly reflects an intemperate and energy intensive demographic trend :

    Mass immigration into regions of lower latitude and higher risk.

  25. Bob Loblaw says:

    I don’t think we have sufficient evidence to conclude that the 35C wet bulb is actually a big problem. I am not aware of any regions where such a heat wave has occurred and produced any large bump in deaths for healthy adults.

    Gee. If only there were a way to determine the limits of human survival, besides killing off huge numbers of them in a heat wave.

    The above comment is exactly the sort of bad conclusion that the paper in question is guilty of. Pick an measure that does not show a current trend, and conclude there is no risk.

    Besides – when we stop caring about people that are not “healthy adults”?

  26. Bob Loblaw says:

    Of course, that last statement should be “when did we stop caring…”

    It’s easy to say “no crisis” when the only people impacted are ones we don’t care about.

  27. Joshua says:

    mike –

    > raising an alarm, being an alarmist,

    This is a problem, imo.

    raising an alarm /= being an alarmist.

  28. This study seems a bit odd.

    The abstract says:

    Across six experimentally determined environmental limits, no subject’s Twb,crit reached the 35°C limit and all means were significantly lower than the theoretical 35°C threshold.

    This seems to suggest that they were somehow measuring the wet-bulb temperature of the actual subjects, rather than the wet bulb temperature of the environment in which they were active. That’s the real issue. If the environment reaches a wet bulb temperature of ~35C then mammals cannot cool via evaporative cooling.

  29. at Bob and Joshua: Historically, I have been very concerned about the plight of others around the globe or the young or those who have yet to be born when thinking about the impacts of global warming, but when I have expressed that concern, I have been told that being so alarmed about the situation and trying to raise an alarm or express that we have perhaps entered a crisis stage with greenhouse gas accumulation, many rational actors here and elsewhere have pushed back and told me that my level of concern is alarmist and would somehow actually slow our collective progress on reducing greenhouse gases. I have heeded this advice and have joined in with folks like DM who are not alarmed by our situation.

    The emotional pull of worrying or “caring” about everyone who might die in any given condition is a very slippery slope. We all die. If it’s really hot outside, only healthy adults should be out in conditions that might test the limits of human survival. Less healthy adults should take reasonable precautions to avoid health complications, including death. I would have thought that would go without saying. No offense meant to Bob, but you did not provide any links to events where lots of people, healthy or otherwise, succumbed to wet bulb temps of 35C. Maybe that has been happening, but I would need to see reliable studies and statistics.

    I took a minute to look up the alarm vs. alarmist distinction and I find this:

    “Alarm is a related term of alarmist. Alarmist is a related term of alarm.
    As nouns the difference between alarmist and alarm is that alarmist is one who causes others to become alarmed without cause while alarm is a summons to arms, as on the approach of an enemy.

    As a verb alarm is to call to arms for defense.”

    I get the distinction, but I think it makes sense to stay away from the term alarm altogether because there is insufficient agreement at this time as to whether there is cause for alarm or not. So, I think I will stick with situation or condition. I have worn out my capacity for alarm with our climate situation. I am inclined to hew generally to a rational discussion at this point.

    Again, I encourage folks to check out all the good news here:

    If you read through just the top five good news stories on that link, I can almost guarantee that you will feel less concern about our situation. Can we just drop the C and A words altogether to promote a more rational discussion?


  30. Bob Loblaw says:

    “Wet bulb temperature” is an indirect concept for measuring atmospheric humidity. Air does not have a “wet bulb” – thermometers do.

    In our standard wet bulb psychrometer, you compare a dry thermometer with a wet one. The wet one cools by evaporation, and reaches equilibrium when the rate of energy loss through evaporative cooling matches the rate of heat uptake from the (now) warmer air. The difference, combined with the actual (dry bulb) air temperature tells us humidity.

    In more technical terms, you have a flux of water vapour (and energy) dependent on the humidity difference between the wet bulb and the air, and a heat flux dependent on the temperature difference between the wet bulb and the air. We know the wet bulb is saturated with respect to humidity, and we know the dry bulb is at normal air temperature. Jiggle a few equations, and humidity of the air appears.

    In (vapour) saturated air, wet bulb temperature will equal air temperature. In humid air, wet bulb temperature only drops slightly below air temperature. In dry air, there is a much larger difference.

    So, we have a fundamental way of expecting that at wet bulb temperatures approaching human body temperature, evaporative cooling will drop to zero.

    It does not matter whether it is really humid air at 37C, or somewhat humid air at 45C. If the wet bulb temperature is at 35C, humans will find it hard to lose heat.

    No, wet bulb temperature is not dew point – although the two are related by the fundamental equations that express heat and vapour transport in the air.

  31. Bob,
    Yes, there is quite a lot of confusion about wet bulb temperatures. I found this paper quite useful.

  32. Bob Loblaw says:

    No offense meant to Bob, but you did not provide any links to events where lots of people, healthy or otherwise, succumbed to wet bulb temps of 35C.

    …because that is not an appropriate measure for concern about high humidity. Your demand for “events where lots of people …succumbed…” is setting impossible expectations.

    And the concern is in places where people cannot go “inside” or anywhere else to get away from that heat/humidity. “They should just avoid those conditions” is not possible. Currently, people can avoid them – in most places. The concern is when more and more places have such conditions, and people cannot avoid them.

  33. My understanding is that there are no regions of the world that have yet experienced wet bulb temperatures of ~35C (there may be some exceptions, but I can’t find the article and I think it is still rare).

  34. Interesting back and forth here.

    On alarm: There are certain aspects of current trends in our climate that alarm me, and I am a Lukewarmer who believes ECS is low. Although Arctic ice levels seem to have found a new regime as opposed to declining every year, I don’t like current minima. It alarms me. I don’t like the concentration of the increased precipitation that climatologists have long predicted. I would be much happier in a rainbow unicorn world where more rain fell on the just as well as the unjust. It alarms me.

    On alarmist/alarmism: There are NGOs and a number of blog commenters who write as though high impact/low probability outcomes are inevitable. I think they do the discussion a disservice.

    On crisis: My subjective opinion is that a crisis is a situation where, absent vigorous action (and perhaps in spite of vigorous action) disaster occurs.

    On catastrophe: My subjective opinion is that a catastrophe is a disastrous outcome that impacts large numbers of people. As for CAGW being an invention of skeptics, years ago I pasted in the number of headlines using ‘catastrophe’ with regards to climate change and left hundreds more unpasted. Skeptics did not invent the term and use it far less than alarmists.

  35. Bob Loblaw says:

    Yes, there is quite a lot of confusion about wet bulb temperatures

    To get really technical, I’d start out by going over the fundamental equations that govern radiation, heat and vapour transfer in the turbulent atmosphere at the surface, and then build that into an energy balance model for a thermometer.

    With that in hand, I”d then illustrate why radiation shielding is important, and show how we can derive the equations for calculating humidity from wet bulb temperature, etc.

    But all of that is a week’s worth of lectures in a microclimatology course. I used to be paid to do that, but it would be really off-topic here. 🙂

  36. Tom,

    I am a Lukewarmer who believes ECS is low.

    Followed by:

    On alarmist/alarmism: There are NGOs and a number of blog commenters who write as though high impact/low probability outcomes are inevitable. I think they do the discussion a disservice.


  37. Joshua says:

    Mike –

    When my partner looks at her phone when driving I get alarmed. That doesn’t make me an alarmist. Generally, “alarmist” is used as a pejorative label for a person, not as a way of characterizing a viewpoint.

    Perhaps I could say I’m concerned about a future along the current trajectory of emissions – instead of saying I’m alarmed – and I believe that emissions trajectory can be mitigated concurrent with improving living conditions for the majority of people in the planet through infrastructure development that provides good jobs. But that would require a more leveled distribution of resources.

    I don’t think that saying the situation is concerning instead of saying the situation is alarming will make any difference in the end. But I don’t think it could hurt.

  38. russellseitz says:

    The limiting case of wet bulb heat stress, hot fog, is too mercifully rare to figure in common usage . I had no idea of it until a museum project dispatched on short notice took a slow barge across Lago Izabal , AKA The Armpit of The Caribbean, the day after the summer solstice.

    We embarked our vehicles in the predawn tropical fog, which , warmed by a baleful combination of tropical solar flux and catabatic winds from the surrounding Guatemalan highlands, did not burn off until nearly 11 in the morning.

    We had no meteorological gear, but we did have a good medical kit, and by that time we could track the temperature with a fever thermometer.

  39. Willard says:

    > [Contrarians] did not invent the term

    Contrarians indeed invented the term. “CAGW” is not an acronym taken out of the mainstream press. It actually refers to a famous conservative think tank:

    The term “CAGW” used by ClimateBall players has currency mainly in contrarian outlets, e.g.:

    This is incontrovertible.

  40. RickA says:

    Tom said “On catastrophe: My subjective opinion is that a catastrophe is a disastrous outcome that impacts large numbers of people.”

    I agree with this. However I would define CAGW as a catastrophe caused by human changed climate which kills enough people to lower the population by a substantial percentage. So people killing each other doesn’t count as CAGW (in my opinion). That is just war. The changed climate – caused by humans – has to kill a substantial number of people. Also natural warming has to be subtracted from human caused warming (which is difficult to do).

    The oceans have risen 120 meters over the last 20,000 years – so some amount of the rise each century is natural. Lets say 60 cm is natural (120 meters times 100 cm/m times divided by 20,000 years times 100 years/century = 60 cm century) and the rest over the last two centuries is human caused. Lets be generous and say the oceans have risen 1 foot each century (19th and 20th). Two feet is about 60 ish centimeters. 120 – 60 is 60, so 60/120 or 50% is human caused (just one metric). So one crude analysis could set natural warming at 50% and human caused warming at 50%. Of course, we could play it safe and use 20% natural and 80% human caused or any other ratio and do the same analysis – I just used the average sea level rise over the last 20,000 years. I think most people would agree that all of that rise was natural except for the last couple of centuries – so that seems reasonable to me.

    I reject the notion that all warming from 1950 to present is human caused. Some portion is natural. Otherwise el nino and la nina’s don’t have room to exist. The LIA happened and it was natural. Mega droughts happen (two century mega drought on the West Coast 900 years ago), and they are natural. And of course, the oceans have risen 120 meters over the last 20,000 years. So first we have to subtract GW from CAGW – then whatever is human caused needs to be bad enough to be “catastrophic”. Using my crude analysis from above – subtract 50% of the warming over the last 2 centuries and call the rest human caused. Then add up all the people the remaining 50% of warming has killed and compare it to your definition of “catastrophic”.

    As for what a substantial percentage is – well that is up for debate. I would propose setting the bar at 10%. So 775,000,000 people or so would have to die from CAGW before I would say it is catastrophic. Anything less than that is just bad – but not catastrophic. I don’t believe the human portion of climate change has killed 775,000,000 – so I don’t believe we have experienced CAGW yet. In fact, the human population keeps growing, so nothing catastrophic has happened yet.

    We still make more food today than we did last century – so I doubt food will be a problem. It is greener than it was – so more food. We can walk faster than sea level rise – so I doubt rising oceans will kill anybody. Plenty of time to move cities to higher ground, like humans did 20,000 years ago. The tropics don’t warm as fast as the poles and they tolerate much more heat than people towards the poles (I live in Minnesota) – so I suspect we can tolerate more heat than we are. Air conditioning seems to be spreading – so maybe even fewer people in 100 years will die from heat waves? I don’t see anything “catastrophic” on the horizon – but that is just me.

    Of course that is just one person’s opinion. Other people’s definition of CAGW will no doubt be different than mine.

  41. Willard says:

    You did not define “CAGW”, Rick, but climate catastrophe. You omit the fact that “But CAGW” implies catastrophizing. Catastrophizing and catastrophes are two very different things. Conflating the two may help contrarians in the short term by normalizing their central Bingo square, but at the expense of defeating the implicit claim that some line of argument is alarmist.

    Catastrophism is sadly already taken. Perhaps we could look into existential risk studies, but we’re far from having tangible number or proportions of deaths:

    The IPCC has yet to give focused attention to catastrophic climate change. Fourteen special reports have been published. None covered extreme or catastrophic climate change. A special report on “tipping points” was proposed for the seventh IPCC assessment cycle, and we suggest this could be broadened to consider all key aspects of catastrophic climate change. This appears warranted, following the IPCC’s decision framework (93). Such a report could investigate how Earth system feedbacks could alter temperature trajectories, and whether these are irreversible.

    Other properties might be important, like irreversibility as AT already suggested.

    In any event, extreme or not, the IPCC seems to lag contrarian outlets regarding the C word.

  42. Joshua says:

    Rick –

    Looks to me like you demonstrated very well, the problem if “skeptics” fail to define “catastrophe,” suggest that any concern about aCO2 emissions is the equivalent of being an “alarmist” about catastrophies, and then argue as if nothing short if a catastrophe merits any concern.

    Such arguments may serve rhetorical goals and feel good if your focus is on identity oriented bickering but they don’t do much to advance stakeholder dialog.

    Here’s a short example:

    > We can walk faster than sea level rise – so I doubt rising oceans will kill anybody.

    You can’t push your house faster than sea level rise. Yes, sea level rise at a speed faster than you can walk would kill a lot of people. What does that have to do with whether sea level rise at any rate slower than you can walk might merit some concern?

  43. Ken Fabian says:

    Take it as given that climate science deniers – “lukewarmer” or other – will object to any terminology that suggests global warming is or will become serious (“crisis”, “catastrophe”) or that strong government policy actions should be taken to limit it.

    And that they will also want to shift the onus onto others to “prove it to me” (“Perhaps you could cite…”), whilst framing their requirement for others to induce their comprehension and agreement within boundaries they choose – eg crises that are recent or current rather than including those that are foreseeable and impending. And confine that to examples that lukewarmers or other deniers don’t dispute.

    It doesn’t take attribution studies to know that droughts, heatwaves, wildfires in places where those were already catastrophic without global warming will be worse with a global average temperature baseline that is significantly elevated. Nor to know that perpetual failure to treat it as a crisis (current or foreseeable/impending) will elevate that baseline higher.

  44. Willard says:

    We can walk faster than an army of zombies. It’s why the image is so frightful.

  45. I am looking at Sherwood from 2010 and I don’t see wet bulb temp of 35C is anything more than an assumption. I used to worry about this stuff, but now I can kind of spot how folks turn assumptions into “truths” in ways that can make things sound worse than they might really be.

    I think it is possible that the 35C wet bulb thing might actually be on the high side after skimming through Sherwood and that would be worrisome. But I think the fact is that we just don’t know for sure. I think it’s a lot more positive and productive to keep the discussion framed around the sensible goal of reaching net zero, a discussion of what CO2 number we would want to hit at that magical net zero moment and when we want that moment to happen. This approach allows us to all focus on when we reach net zero and what kind of CO2 levels we want at that moment. Pick a number and argue for it based on real, hard science. Don’t just throw scary stuff around, right? I don’t know what the target ought to be, but how about 500 ppm in 2060? How does that work?

    I hear people are saying that at wet bulb temps of 35C, mammals cannot cool via evaporative cooling. Has that been proven? Or is that just an assumption that we are using like it’s the word of God? Maybe rein in the rhetorical stuff a bit and let’s talk about the sensible goal of reaching net zero. Why is this so hard? If we need to know the actual wet bulb temperature at which mammals can’t cool via evaporative cooling, let’s figure out what that number is. Second, once we know that, wouldn’t it be reasonable to explore if other means of cooling can be used? I sometimes enjoy a luke warm shower after a hot afternoon working in the yard. Cools me right down.


  46. RickA says:

    Joshua asks “What does that have to do with whether sea level rise at any rate slower than you can walk might merit some concern?”

    The city will move uphill as people rebuild on higher ground. At a foot or two per century, the city will naturally move with it. So both people and cities can walk faster than the rising sea.

    This is an extreme example – but this sort of thing would happen organically as the low lying areas became worthless. Their great grandchildren would build on higher ground.,ground%20after%20a%20devastating%20flood

  47. Rick is right about the city moving uphill when they realize that flooding is going to be a problem. There is a lovely example of that at Champoeg State Park in Oregon.
    That didn’t work in Ft Myers, FL recently, but that’s just bad luck with not having enough high ground behind you away from the water’s edge. It’s never a bad idea to have a solid exit strategy.

  48. RickA says:

    Williard says “You did not define “CAGW”, Rick, but climate catastrophe.”

    My definition had “anthropogenic” in it – because I required that the humans change the climate so as to cause a catastrophe (which I define as killing more than 10% of the population). So I am not sure I agree with your point. I think I did define CAGW – catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Don’t forget the anthropogenic part!

    A climate catastrophe could be an asteroid hitting the planet – like 63 million years ago. That would be a climate catastrophe – it would change the climate – it would be catastrophic – but it would not be CAGW, because it is not “anthropogenic”. It is a natural occurrence (unless we get advanced enough to throw them at our own planet). It has to be caused by humans to be CAGW.

    At least that is my opinion.

  49. Joshua says:


    > The city will move uphill as people rebuild on higher ground. At a foot or two per century, the city will naturally move with it. So both people and cities can walk faster than the rising sea.

    Obviously, there’s a good chance that an average rate of rise on a global scale will comprise many regions where the rise is faster (and slower). Did you read MT’s article that Anders linked?

    At any rate, it seems that now you’re effectively revising your definition. Now it’s not just that catastrophe is rise at a level that’s faster than people can walk, now it’s faster than the rate at which cities can move to keep up? I’d say that’s considerably slower than the rate at which people can walk.

    Of course, there also, a city moving to stay ahead of sea level rise will comprise some for whom that kind of change will be trivial and some for whom it could be life-shattering.

    Is there some cut-off point at which a certain % of people having their lives shattered doesn’t qualify as catastrophic?

  50. RickA says:

    Joshua asks “Is there some cut-off point at which a certain % of people having their lives shattered doesn’t qualify as catastrophic?”

    Well I think the minimal threshold is that people have to at least recognize that their lives are shattered. 100 years is a very long time – and we are only talking 1 foot. People have been moving to higher ground for 20,000 years. They find village remains at the bottom of the ocean all along the cost of North and South America – and I am sure that is true for the other continents. All of those people and village migrated – very very very slowly over hundreds and hundreds of years – and the people didn’t even notice they were doing it.

    They did not recognize that their lives were shattered. It was same old same old. Water getting in my tepee – move it to higher ground. Low lying area flooded – don’t rebuild their – rebuild somewhere higher. Happens all the time. Or build a dyke. That can work for a couple of hundred years also. No lives shattered by rising sea level.

    At least that is my opinion.

  51. David B Benson says:

    And yet that wet bulb temperature appears to largely survivable in South Asia:

  52. russellseitz says:

    “I hear people are saying that at wet bulb temps of 35C, mammals cannot cool via evaporative cooling. Has that been proven? Or is that just an assumption that we are using ”

    This question was hotly debated as we drove an un-air conditioned Land Cruiser through the humid lowland heat. Opinion was divided as to rolling the windows up or down, helped or hurt in the heat of the day, as the Prandtl number of the uncooling breeze at times seemed to win out out over evaporative cooling.

    Much water was drunk, but everybody got woozy traversing the ultramafic landscape which got far too hot to sit upon.

    Nat Geo should send us back with an IR imaging camera and an omelet pan

  53. Willard says:

    > I think I did define CAGW

    You rather redefined it, Rick, and I’m saying that your C loses its original meaning. Catastrophe. Catastrophization. Two different concepts.

    You are free to define anything however you please. You could redefine “Climateball” for all I care. The Auditor already tried:

    The Ghost of Present ClimateBall ™

    Language is a social art.

  54. As far as sea level rise goes, yes it could be managed. One issue, of course, is that it could impact people even in the coming decades and property is expensive. You can’t sell a house that will be underwater soon, despite what Ben Shapiro might claim. However, it is still an impact that could be managed. Similarly, for many of the other impacts.

    To me it’s not about how we manage individual impacts, but more about the collective impact. Sea level rise, increase in intensity and frequency of extreme TCs, more intense wildfires, ocean acidification, increase in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves and extreme precipitation events, a shift towards more intense precipitation, warmer conditions leading to drying and increased drought risk, etc.

    Plus, the issue that the impacts don’t only happen in the regions that emit the most. So, there will be regions that are impacted that have committed little to the emissions, may be able to cope with the impacts if they have the resources to do so, but having not benefitted from the emissions may not have suitable resources.

    So, an issue of fairness. We should be taking this seriously not only because the impacts could be severe, but also because even if the impacts are potentially manageable, the regions impacted may not have the resources to do so and the regions that benefit from emissions shouldn’t be doing so at the expense of those that do not.

  55. dikranmarsupial says:

    “No offense meant to Bob, but you did not provide any links to events where lots of people, healthy or otherwise, succumbed to wet bulb temps of 35C.”

    only being concerned about something only after it has happened isn’t very rational IMHO, however YMMV.

  56. dikranmarsupial says:

    “On catastrophe: My subjective opinion is that a catastrophe is a disastrous outcome that impacts large numbers of people.”

    LOL, defining catastrophe in terms of disastrous is just evasion, as “disaster” is just as subjective and ambiguous as “catastrophe”.

    “As for CAGW being an invention of skeptics, years ago I pasted in the number of headlines using ‘catastrophe’ with regards to climate change and left hundreds more unpasted. Skeptics did not invent the term and use it far less than alarmists.

    Rubbish. Journalists using the word “catastrophe” in an article about climate change does not coin the phrase “CAGW”, that was in invention of skeptic blogs and it is something I rarely saw outside skeptic blos (perhaps until XR came along, which was *much* later).

    How many times was “catastrophe” (or its cognates) used in the IPCC reports?

  57. dikranmarsupial says:

    “The city will move uphill as people rebuild on higher ground.”

    Fortunately those with houses that are inundated will be able to sell them and afford the new sea-front real estate further up the hill, which won’t have increased in price in any way.

    “This is an extreme example ”

    an extremely bad example (I can’t find the Ben Shapiro video where he made a fool of himself with pretty much exactly that line of “reasoning”).

    The problem with climate change is the change. Change requires adaption, and adaption has costs. Who is going to pay for the city to move up hill? Sure it can be done, but at what cost?

    What if a large proportion of your (densely populated) countries arable land is inundated (not thinking of any Bangladeshes in particular) and the high ground isn’t productive enough to support the population?

  58. Tom Fuller says:

    Hi dikran. AR6: 116 uses of the world catastrophe.

  59. Willard says:

    The AR6 contains many deliverables.

    One was published in 2021. Two were published in 2022.

    Unless contrarians had access to a time travelling DeLorean, that may not establish provenance.

    And once again the disputed term is CAGW, not catastrophe.

  60. Bob Loblaw says:

    David Benson:

    That NYT link is behind a paywall, so if you want to make a point you are going to have to make it with sources other people can read.

  61. Tom Fuller says:

    Well, that’s not what dikran asked for, but in any event, pick any day for the past 15 years and you get this:

  62. Joshua says:

    This doesn’t have to be an either/or. “Catastrophe” can both be a part of messaging about climate change and be rhetoric “skeptics” use to mock those more convened about aCO2 than they are.

    So obvious it’s just weird it has to be stated.

    As for moving cities – this gets to the crux of the biscuit. We could say needing to move cities isn’t a “catastrophic” impact. Not unreasonable depending on your perspective. From the perspective of people, say living in inner cities, or villages where their families have lived for generations, and who don’t have much in the way of resources, it could obviously extremely disruptive.

    Arguing about the term seems pretty beside the point, to me.

  63. Bob Loblaw says:

    Mike: I am looking at Sherwood from 2010 and I don’t see wet bulb temp of 35C is anything more than an assumption.

    Are you deliberately ignoring my explanation of what “wet bulb temperature” actually is, from a physical standpoint? Human bodies (at least, living ones) create heat through metabolism. At some point, they have to give off that heat, or die. They can do this three ways:

    1) radiate that heat as IR.
    2) lose that heat to cooler air.
    3) evaporate water and lose the energy as latent heat.

    If metabolism was the only source of body heat, humans exposed to air that is warmer than body temperature will lose any capacity to lose heat via radiation or direct heat loss. That only leaves evaporation. If humidity is too high, they will also lose the capacity to lose it via evaporation.

    “Heat Stress” adds other considerations besides humidity. If people are out in the sun, they also receive energy input via radiation. If air temperature is above 37C, they also gain energy via direct heat transfer. “Stay in the shade” and “stay where it is cooler” reduce those energy inputs, but metabolism is still there. Even if radiation input is zero and direct heat input is zero, there is still a need to lose energy by evaporation.

    And at a wet bulb temperature of 35C, that evaporative loss of energy will be very low to none. Staying in the shade, staying where is is “cool” will help, but it won’t get rid of that metabolism energy.

    “Heat stress” adds the concerns of higher temperatures and radiation input. Read the Sherwood 2018 paper that ATTP linked to earlier.

  64. Willard says:

    > beside the point

    Depends on the point, J. Our luckwarm fellow contested what I wrote in my But CAGW page. What I said is true, and shifting between the two terms is just one way to equivocate. Here is the one he should have been researching:

    I already cited a study that argues we should study climate catastrophes. So our luckwarm fellow is forcing an open door to keep talking about the central square.

    The question that contrarians beg is the following one – how do they know that catastrophizing is really catastrophizing? Instead of answering that question, they often backtrack to messaging concerns. Sometimes they invoke pathways. As long as we play along, anything goes.

    The contrarian life is one long game of Climateball.

  65. Tom Fuller says:

    …says the inventor and destroyer of the game.

  66. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Hi dikran. AR6: 116 uses of the world catastrophe.”

    when was AR6 published? How about the preceding reports?

  67. Tom Fuller says:

    And, willard, you’re actually in good company. It was said of Ogden Nash that he both invented and destroyed the genre of American light verse. But then, not many remember either his work or his reputation.

    dikran… never mind.

  68. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Well, that’s not what dikran asked for, ”

    It is a pity that discussions so quickly end up in such pathetically transparent evasion. The topic was who coined “CAGW”, so if I ask

    “How many times was “catastrophe” (or its cognates) used in the IPCC reports?”

    then giving the number of occurrences in the most recent report is an obviously evasive response. So how many of those occurrences actually suggests evidence that there will be a catastrophe?

    The first one doesn’t

  69. Willard says:

    Our luckwarm fellow, who said this very line a few times already, is rediscovering the Secret Square:

    “But Climateball”

    Our luckwarm fellow should come visit us at Roy’s, where Climateball is live and kicking, or at least kicking.

  70. dikranmarsupial says:

    dikran… never mind.

    as usual, your bluff has been called and you have run away. CAGW was the invention of the skeptic community, and you are unwilling to defend your evasion. Plus ca change…

  71. Chubbs says:

    With fossil fuels its one crisis after another. Hopefully, the current energy security/supply crisis spurs better adaptation than the last. Otherwise larger crises are ahead.

  72. Tom Fuller says:

    dikran, the muffled laughter you hear comes from me. Your team, and specifically your NGOs, created, popularized and overused the meme for 15 years. If you’re too lazy to click a link, well, I’m sorry. And sympathetic! I’m not clicking on willard’s link either! We have something in common.

    By the way, each of the IPCC Assessment Reports are online in PDF format. If you open them (and wait until they’re fully open) you can search for the term you, umm, deny comes from your side of the fence.

  73. Willard says:

    > the meme

    Our luckwarm fellow just can’t let go of that silly equivocation.

    The food fight he’s trying to start will have to continue elsewhere.

  74. Willard says:

    Nevertheless, let’s call his bluff. Any reason is good to RTFRs.

    Let’s start with the oldest document I could find in that list:

    You have to let the page unscroll.

    Here it is, in all its vintage splendor:


    One single hit:

    A number of response options are available which not only enhance the ability of coastal nations to adapt to sea level rise, but are also beneficial in their own right. Implementation of such options would be most effective if undertaken in the short-term, not because there is an impending catastrophe, but because there are opportunities to avoid adverse impacts by acting now—opportunities which may not be as effective if the process is delayed.

    A wonder.

    (One hit. Wonder. Get it?)

  75. dikranmarsupial says:

    Tom “dikran, the muffled laughter you hear comes from me. ”

    I suspect making it personal is one of Schopenhauers strategems. Sorry, seen it all before.

    Your team, and specifically your NGOs, created, popularized and overused the meme for 15 years. If you’re too lazy to click a link, well,

    (i) I have no “team” (ii) give me a chance, I was too busy fact checking your previous claim, which seems to fall rather short.

    I downloaded the AR6 WG1 report and AFAICS these are all the occurences of cognates of “catastrophe” I could find. Somewhat short of your 116, so which ones did I miss?

    The IPCC seems to be downplaying catstrophe as most of the occurrences are in the titles of papers that have been referenced.

    Page 173:

    Other studies show that people react differently
    to climate change news when it is framed as a catastrophe (Hine
    et al., 2016),

    Page 1598:

    Many major weather- and
    climate-related catastrophes are inherently of a compound nature
    (Zscheischler et al., 2019).

    Page 1864:

    Examples: Catastrophe models, cost-benefit analysis for a specific project, portfolio
    or corporate

    [n.b. part of a diagram]

    Page 1490

    Lloyd, E.A. and T.G. Shepherd, 2020: Environmental catastrophes, climate
    change, and attribution. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,
    1469(1), 105–124, doi:10.1111/nyas.14308.

    Page 273:

    Robock, A., L. Oman, and G.L. Stenchikov, 2007: Nuclear winter revisited with
    a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic
    consequences. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 112(D13),
    D13107, doi:10.1029/2006jd008235.

    Page 671:

    Xu, Y. and V. Ramanathan, 2017: Well below 2°C: Mitigation strategies for
    avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes. Proceedings of the
    National Academy of Sciences, 114(39), 10315–10323, doi:10.1073/

    Page 793:

    Jeffrey, L.C. et al., 2019: Are methane emissions from mangrove stems a cryptic
    carbon loss pathway? Insights from a catastrophic forest mortality. New
    Phytologist, 224(1), 146–154, doi:10.1111/nph.15995.

    Page 1149:

    Deforestation in
    the Amazon also raises the probability of catastrophic fires (Brando
    et al., 2014).

    Page 1150:

    observations are consistent with theoretical studies suggesting
    that spatial heterogeneity and diversity in ecosystems can mitigate
    the probability of catastrophic change (Van Nes and Scheffer, 2005;
    Bathiany et al., 2013)

    Page 1270

    Observations from Greenland show that
    steep cliffs commonly evolve into short floating extensions, rather
    than collapsing catastrophically (Joughin et al., 2020).

    Page 1717:

    Ducrocq, V., O. Nuissier, D. Ricard, C. Lebeaupin, and T. Thouvenin, 2008:
    A numerical study of three catastrophic precipitating events over southern
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  76. dikranmarsupial says:

    Willard – yours was the smarter option there ;o)

  77. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    Sure. But I think that going from Anders’ post to arguing about CAGW is playing on Tom’s home ice.

    He’s clearly not interesting in having a fruitful discussion. Not sure I’ve ever seen when he was.

  78. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” If you’re too lazy to click a link, well, I’m sorry. ”

    I am now checking your second bluff\b\b\b\b\b link…

    Your claim was:

    “Well, that’s not what dikran asked for, but in any event, pick any day for the past 15 years and you get this:

    That is an assertion, presenting what comes up *today* for that search in the news does not establish that you would get the same any day in the last fifteen years.

    It is also a complete non-sequitur as to the origin of the term CAGW.

    So two bluffs then – your hand was empty as always.

  79. Joshua says:

    How about if we come back to this:

    > I don’t know either, but thanks for your reply. I would volunteer the observation that not all change, irreversible or not, leads to crisis.

    Tom offers the profound observation that not all change is a crisis.

    Think of how much worse off we’d all be if Tom didn’t elaborate on his keen observation that not all change is a crisis. Who woulda realized that without his comment?

    Hopefully, someone will ge to work rewriting the IPCC reports, to integrate the new knowledge that not all change is a crisis.

  80. Willard says:

    > Not sure I’ve ever seen when he was.

    I saw it happens a few times, for instance on slow Friday nights. It happened more frequently when blogs were more hip. Perhaps it’s just me – after all, I killed Climateball.

    The bait-and-switch is here:

    As for CAGW being an invention of skeptics, years ago I pasted in the number of headlines using ‘catastrophe’ […]

    Realizing that “CAGW” is not the same term as “catastrophe” ought to be enough.

    Here we are, RTFR-ing.

    I think it’s a better outcome than letting the equivocation stand.

    The SAR is taking an eternity to load. Laterz.

  81. Joshua says:

    > Realizing that “CAGW” is not the same term as “catastrophe” ought to be enough.

    Of course it’s enough. If Tom refuses to accept that many “skeptics” game the term “catastrophe” (particularly but not only through gaming CAGW) then he’s making it clear he’s not interested in engagement.

    On the other side, I’d say that we can’t get far with in the discussion with anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that the use of “crisis” or “catastrophe” can and has (by some people) been over-generalized in ways that don’t line up with the science. But I don’t seen anyone here that’s done that. In fact, many comments have either explicitly acknowledged or actually stressed that issue.

    If say that anyone who’s roughly familiar with the history of the dabte, who won’t acknowledge either side of thar coin, just isn’t being serious about the discussion. They’re just here to litigate.

    If Tom deliberately opts out of fruitful discussion, and we continue to mix it up with him, then I don’t think we can logically blame him for being a distraction.

    Seems to me that he has long made it clear that he’s not here for fruitful exchange. He’s more interested in re-hashing identity warfare and little else. When does he ever comment without referring to his identity as a “lukewarmer, ” and go on to lukewarm-splain the nature of the universe – as if we haven’t all read him do it a thousand times before?

    So then the question I have to ask myself, is why am I writing this comment?

  82. Willard says:

    > So then the question I have to ask myself, is why am I writing this comment?

    Your propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands you eventually recognizes them as pointless, when they have used them—as steps—to climb beyond them.

    (They must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after they have climbed it up.)

    Once you transcend these propositions you will see Climateball aright.

    With my apologies to the other W.

  83. Tom Fuller says:

    Joshua, I have never said that some skeptics don’t use the CAGW meme as a weapon. Some, perhaps many, do. And you are correct–misuse of the CAGW meme is rare on this weblog. Congratulations to you all for not falling into the trap.

    Nonetheless, I maintain that the introduction, deployment and overuse of the catastrophe meme can be laid at the doorstep of (mostly) the NGOs and over enthusiastic bloggers/commenters allied with those most concerned about AGW.

  84. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    > Some, perhaps many, do.

    That you use “perhaps” there just makes your non-denial denial just all that much more obvious.


    > I have never said that some skeptics don’t use the CAGW meme as a weapon.

    Try re-phrasing that.

    And just eject the last paragraph altogether, and you’ll make it clear that you’ve actually read the comments on this thread instead of remaining fixated on identity warfare.

  85. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    > (They must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after they have climbed it up.)

    Aye. There’s the rub.

  86. Tom Fuller says:

    And willard, I’m sure you’re happy to expose us all to the Citizens Against Government Waste. What a worthy organization! I guess…

    However, if you modify your search and add ‘warming’ to CAGW i.e., CAGW warming, you do get 52,000 results. Interestingly, among the top results is Judith Curry, which I’m sure will please you no end, and WUWT, which must also tickle you.

    But it also shows on Acronym Finder. And Skeptical Science. And there is yet a third CAGW–Children Against Global Warming.

    But most interesting is the abstract of a paper presented as a PowerPoint slide. Titled “By Any Other Name: The Use of ‘Global Warming’ vs ‘Climate Change’ in the Scientific Literature,” It has a section called ‘Who Uses The Phrase CAGW?’ It reads:

    Not scientists. Despite claims from climate “skeptics” that the consensus view of
    climate science is “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”, or CAGW, this
    phrase was virtually absent from the scientific literature. Although it occasionally
    appeared in media pieces, these were seldom news articles (rather, they were
    typically in the form of Letters to the Editor, blog posts, or other opinion pieces), and
    were virtually all “skeptic” authored.

    Apart from the word ‘occasionally,’ I would agree with it. Which must please our host, who is listed as co-author of this paper.

  87. dikranmarsupial says:


    Not scientists. Despite claims from climate “skeptics” that the consensus view of
    climate science is “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”, or CAGW, this
    phrase was virtually absent from the scientific literature. Although it occasionally
    appeared in media pieces, these were seldom news articles (rather, they were
    typically in the form of Letters to the Editor, blog posts, or other opinion pieces), and
    were virtually all “skeptic” authored.

    does this mean that you agree that “CAGW is largely a coinage of the skeptics” after all?

    I’d still like to know where you get the 116 occurrences of catastrophe (and its cognates) from in the ARG report.

  88. Tom Fuller says:

    Sadly, the use of Catastrophic Global Warming is more common than some here suggest. Again, it comes from NGOs, media and amateur enthusiasts–not, by and large, scientists.

    Page 1 of 6,100,000 search results for ‘Catastrophic Global Warming.’

    Catastrophic climate change outcomes like human extinction ‘not being taken seriously’ – BBC News

    Alarming new climate report predicts ‘catastrophic’ global wildfires in the coming years PBS News Hour

    Climate catastrophe: Will we ever change our ways? | To the Point DW News

    Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios – PNAS

    We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN

    ‘Get scared’: World’s scientists say disastrous climate change is here

    Climate catastrophe? A half a degree warming could make the difference

    The future of global catastrophic risk events from climate change

  89. Willard says:

    Another one-hit wonder:

    Zhang, S., R.J. Greatbatch and C . A . Lin , 1993: A re-examination of the polar halocline catastrophe and implications for coupled ocean-atmosphere modelling. J. Phys. Oceanogr, 23, 287-299.


    Here is the paper:

    In this paper, the physical mechanism of the polar halocline catastrophe (PHC) is reexamined with emphasis on the role played by the surface heat flux. It is argued that, in a coupled ocean–atmosphere system, thermal changes in the atmospheric state in response to changes in heat flux from the ocean weaken the feedback responsible for the PHC.

    These are the only two occurrences of the C-word in the paper.

    It’d be interesting to compare with contrarian papers.

  90. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Sadly, the use of Catastrophic Global Warming is more common than some here suggest. ”

    The point was that CAGW was coined by the skeptics. You appear to be avoiding explaining where the missing 98 occurrences of “catastrophe” (and cognates) are in the IPCC AR6 report. I’m beginning to think that it was a BS claim made in the expectation that I wouldn’t check (there are 18 AFAICS).

  91. dikranmarsupial says:

    BTW the media exists to sell copy, of course they are going to sensationalise everything, just like the do with every topic. I find the best response to extreme claims in either direction on climate change is to ask what the IPCC have to say on the subject.

  92. Tom,
    Can you at least try to understand what people are pointing out? That the word “catastrophe” is in the same sentence as the words “global warming” or “climate change” doesn’t mean that it’s equivalent to the phrase “catastrophic global warming”.

    Additionally, whether or not someone regards climate change as having the potential to produce catastrophes, or that we should regard it as a crisis, is a judgement that cannot be established through evidence alone. Clearly noone is going to convince you that these judgements are justified, so even though we might learn something from these discussions, it does eventually get frustrating when you keep repeating yourself and continually fail to get the points that others are making (even if you disagree, you could at least acknowledge that you get it).

  93. Tom Fuller says:

    [AT asked you a question. Please stop throwing food around and answer it. -W]

  94. dikranmarsupial says:

    It is probably better to perform a search using a private browser window, or you are just reflecting your browsing history back at yourself. If I search for “catastrophic global warming”, the first three hits I get are PNAS, the IPCC and NASA – admittedly the Grauniad is fourth, but I am mostly interested in that for it’s sudoku puzzles.

  95. Joshua says:

    I tried.

  96. Willard says:

    AT asked our luckwarm fellow a question. This gets priority.

  97. Tom Fuller says:

    [Playing the ref. -W]

  98. Tom Fuller says:

    ATTP, my discussion was with dikran, who staunchly maintains that skeptics invented and constantly use the term CAGW. I wrote repeatedly that my long-standing examination of this issue (more than 10 years) has convinced me that the facts are otherwise–that NGOs and amateur enthusiasts have promoted the idea of catastrophe caused by human contributions to climate change, which skeptics abbreviated in discussion to ‘CAGW.’ So, to clarify–and I’m surprised this hasn’t been clear for a decade:

    Scientists are (rightly, IMO) concerned about the impacts of climate change, and human contributions to it.

    NGOs and amateur enthusiasts, amplified by a complaisant media, morphed this concern into pronouncements of catastrophe due to human contributions to climate change.

    Skeptics labeled this as CAGW when criticizing it.

    All clear? (Not asking if you agree with it, just if it’s clear).

  99. Tom Fuller says:

    [Playing the ref once more. -W]

  100. russellseitz says:

    Dikran’s delving into the use of ‘Catastrophe’ and ‘Catastrophic’ in IPCC report has surfaced a series of climate publications that injected the C-word into popular culture and public policy decades before CAGW.

    The “Climatic Catastrophe’ trope first appeared on magazine and book covers 1n 1983, as part of a pre- Climate Desk publicity campaign not for CAGW, but CAGC.

    Catastrophic anthropogenic global cooling debuted as the Foreign Affairs lede article ‘Nuclear War and Climatic Catastrophe’ by Carl Sagan, who simultaneously published its popularization on the cover of Parade the most widely circulated Sunday newspaper supplement in the English speaking world.

    A think-tank with a monthly newsletter was created to assure the continuity of the CAGC trope, and witness the IPCC docs Dikran searched, some of its founders remain active in sustaining CAGC today, e.g.:

    IPCC Page 273:

    Robock, A., L. Oman, and G.L. Stenchikov, 2007: Nuclear winter revisited with
    a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic
    consequences. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 112(D13),
    D13107, doi:10.1029/2006jd008235.

  101. dikranmarsupial says:

    “ATTP, my discussion was with dikran, who staunchly maintains that skeptics invented and constantly use the term CAGW. ”

    where did I say the bit about “constantly use the term CAGW”? Nowhere.

    I think ATTPs question very well addresses my dissatisfaction with your responses to mine.

    My main point was:

    … of course skeptics won’t define CAGW because it would be a statement about their values and the whole point about bickering about the science is precisely to avoid the discussion about values, which is the thing that is preventing progress.

    Bickering about definitions and terminolgy can also serve the same purpose. Tom avoided stating what he meant by catastrophe (in the sense of CAGW) by defining it in terms of the equally subjective “disastrous”:

    My subjective opinion is that a catastrophe is a disastrous outcome that impacts large numbers of people. As for CAGW being an invention of skeptics,

    Define “disastrous” – it is any event that would be perceived as catastrophic ;o)

    It is the pretence of discussion but without the substance. Tom can demonstrate that isn’t the case by giving a straight answer to ATTP’s question.

  102. Willard says:

    Good point, Russell:

    The foregoing probable consequences of various nuclear war scenarios have implications for doctrine and policy. Some have argued that the difference between the deaths of several hundred million people in a nuclear war (as has been thought until recently to be a reasonable upper limit) and the death of every person on Earth (as now seems possible) is only a matter of one order of magnitude. For me, the difference is considerably greater. Restricting our attention only to those who die as a consequence of the war conceals its full impact.


    The C-word comes from different kinds of scenarios, scenarios that we may need to revisit now that the ZZs are losing their senses.

  103. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    That you’re so reflexively resistant to acknowledging that “skeptics” (in particular the on-line type) regularly exploit ambiguity of the word “catastrophic,” so as to score cheap points, only displays that your never-ending quest to parse out a distinction between “skeptics” and yourself as a “lukewarmer” is bullshit (not to mention futile).

    Your ceaselessly defensive maneuvers against an self-sealing foe (i.e., the discusant who doesn’t acknowledge how “catastrophic” can be counter-productive) are a revealed characteristic that’s ultimately self-defining.

  104. Okay, so let’s try and summarise.

    Do some use the term “catastrophe” when talking about climate change/global warming? Yes, but in many different ways, and typically not as some simple descriptor of global warming. There may be some examples where it is used in this way, but it’s certainly not the only way in which it is used.

    Do “skeptics” use some variant of “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” (CAGW) as a pejorative to describe the narrative presented by those concerned about climate change/global warming? Sure, this seems pretty self-evident.

    Is there much point in trying to convince someone who thinks it can’t be catastrophic, that it might be? No, it probably isn’t.

  105. Yes, Bob, I get your point about deadly wet bulb temps. I think we are now, or soon will be, gathering statistics and evidence about the limits that mammals can survive on our warming planet. I think this decision has already been made.

    My own take on this situation is that we ought to slam the door on methane emissions right away to save lives from heat death because even though methane is a flow gas, that ghg alone is probably creating 3 tenths of a degree of additional heat and a reduction of heat through methane reduction would produce immediate cooling and save many lives. I think that addressing methane and grabbing the immediate and short term results of addressing methane is like low-hanging fruit. I have advanced this discussion numerous times in the past and our host has always insisted that addressing methane for these short term benefits was not a good idea because the methane reduction efforts would cause us to lose focus on CO2 reduction. I have stopped mentioning my ideas on methane reduction as low hanging fruit and have joined the position of our host here. I do think that many, many lives in the global south would be saved if we were to hit methane reduction hard, but I am no longer willing to make the argument in favor of saving the folks in the global south in this manner. If there is a better or equal method to save lives that will be lost to deadly wet bulb temps in the next few years than methane emission reduction, I would really love to know what that method might be. In terms of cherry-picking, a concern about wet bulb temp deaths is sort of a cherry in the constellation of impacts that arise on our warmed and warming planet.

    I no longer want to think about crisis or catastrophe with regard to our changed climate. I am spent on that particular adventure. My betters, or at least the global deciders, have determined that we proceed on our current path and that lives must be lost in wet bulb temp events. The deciders and most of us here will not be among the folks who will die from these events. We should be very thankful about our luck in this regard. I think heat death must be pretty uncomfortable. It’s pretty unfair that global north citizens are primarily responsible for the warming and that global south citizens will be the folks most likely to succumb to heat death. I don’t have a solution for any of that. I think the power to make the decisions about the current and coming heat deaths resides primarily with global north citizens/nations and those powerful people have not agreed to make changes that would reduce the heat death number dramatically. Many global north citizen/nations also view the migration of humans from the global south as a threat to our quality of life and will vote to support imposition of harsh barriers to migration. I hear talk of building walls to prevent global south citizens from fleeing the south to save their lives. I think Italy moved to the right a bit recently partly through a concern with migrants from the south. These things are being decided every day in global north nations and the trend is toward exclusion and protection of our quality of life in the north. It seems selfish, but I get it. We got dealt a good hand. Why do we have to share our good fortune with the less fortunate? I don’t know why these things are so, but that is the way they are. I just accept these things now. Sisyphus should have seen the lay of the land and realized the big rock just won’t agree to be moved to the top of the mountain.

    To some extent, we will see also heat deaths in the global north. I saw this story today:

    Living in Phoenix is not unlike living near the shore of the Gulf Coast. There are pros and cons. I like the PNW, but we are still waiting for the rains to start up or come back. That may be our cross to bear – not enough rain anymore. I am sorry to see that happening. If it continues long term, the PNW will not be as good a place to live as it has been. I have no solution for that. I don’t want to think of these things in terms of crisis or catastrophes, etc. That just leads to the endless back and forth. How many catastrophic angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    I have joined with DM. I am not alarmed. I think we might want to move the discussion away from all the alarm and crisis talk, cherry-picked or otherwise and just consider how and how fast we want to get to net zero.

    I think if you are living in phoenix, you need to make sure you have a means to remain cool enough to stay alive or consider moving to a cooler spot. It appears to have been decided that we will now proceed to gather evidence about heat deaths. I am not in a position to change our trajectory.

    I have no interest in talking about crisis or catastrophe, but if folks want to talk about reducing heat deaths through public policy without any drama, I am very interested. I still lean toward methane reduction as low hanging fruit, but I am probably wrong about that and I have little or no power to influence our path forward.



  106. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Yes, but in many different ways,”

    indeed, I suspect that some of the uses in the IPCC reports are e.g. “catastrophic changes” in a particular ecosystem may be catastrophic from the perspective of the species involved, but that doesn’t necessarily imply a catastrophe from a human perspective.

    If someone has good evidence that “catastrophic” events (from a human/societal perspective) from anthropogenic climate change can be ruled out, I’d like to hear about it – it would be good news. Until then it is entirely reasonable for the WGII report to use the word every now and again. If it is still on the table, it needs to be appropriately considered.

  107. dikranmarsupial says:

    Mike “I have joined with DM. I am not alarmed. ” please stop saying that. ISTR that I made it clear that the reason I am not alarmed by climate change is a matter of my nature – it just isn’t the way I respond. I have made it very clear that I am very worried by what the response to climate change (and a number of other issues) says about us as a species/society. We are incapable of rational decision making, so we will probably end up adapting because we are too stupid/stubborn for meaningful mitigation, and that adaption is going to be very hard for a large number of people (mostly in the developing world). Some of those are likely to end up adapting by becoming dead. If I’m not alarmed it is because I am resigned to us reaping the results of our intransigence and stupidity.

  108. russellseitz says:

    “The foregoing probable consequences of various nuclear war scenarios have implications for doctrine and policy.”

    Just as the The European Physical Journal Plus paper we’re discussing today , A critical assessment of extreme events trends in times of global warming , elicited this editorial warning:

    30 September 2022 Editor’s Note: Readers are alerted that the conclusions reported in this manuscript are currently under dispute. The journal is investigating the issue.

    The editors of Foreign Affairs wrote in the next issue that they were investigating the reproducibility of the climate models on which Sagan’s predictions were based. There was no getting around the fact that he’d gone Catastrophic, for his opening line was:
    “Apocalyptic predictions require, to be taken seriously, higher standards of evidence than do assertions on other matters where the stakes are not as great,”

    But the modeling results on which his predictions depended where not reproducible, and after two years of model improvement , and much independent IPCC-style research on realistic parameter values , NCAR researchers Starley Thompson and Steve Schneider ( the founding Editor of Climatic Change ) authored a Foreign Affairs article concluding Sagan’s “Apocalyptic predictions could be ” relegated to a vanishingly low level of probability.”

    Few climate activists seem to have benefited from that original lesson on the hazards of climate hype .

    Cue tu quoque.

  109. Willard says:

    > Cue tu quoque.

    You just did, Russell.

    As you may already have noticed, right next to But CAGW stands But the Press and But Advocacy:

    I hope you don’t mind if I removed the “ism” part of [the “activism”] trope.

    You might also notice that But Some Scare is not far off.

    All we need is But PSYOP and But Semantics…

    But wait – haven’t we just had a round of But Semantics?

  110. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Re your 8:18 comment. It’s interesting how smart and knowledgeable people can make something so complicated out of something so simple.

  111. russellseitz says:

    The CAGW matrix must be defended against focus group revision at all costs:
    Harper’s Index October 2022

    Percentage change since 2019 in the portion of Americans who believe environmental laws are worth the cost : –23

    Percentage of U.S. voters who view climate change as the most important problem facing the country : 1

    Of U.S. voters under thirty who do : 3

  112. dikranmarsupial says:

    I have joined with DM. I am not alarmed. I think we might want to move the discussion away from all the alarm and crisis talk, cherry-picked or otherwise and just consider how and how fast we want to get to net zero.

    sorry Mike, I think I was a little hasty in my earlier comment.

    I am not alarmed because it is my nature not to be alarmed by this sort of thing. However, what we need is indeed rational consideration of what we need to do. Sadly we have picked the wrong century. I don’t think alarm is a bad thing, as long as it leads to rational determination rather than panic or despondency. Sadly while I am fine with rational determination on climate change, it is hard to avoid despondency when it comes to our prospects as a society to actually take meaningful action.

    There used to be a good analogy about driving towards a brick wall at high speed and even if there isn’t enough time to avoid a collision it is still worth taking your foot off the gas and put on the brakes. However that isn’t how it is. In reality the brick wall is still several kilometers in the distance, but I am a passenger in the car explaining patiently why the driver taking his foot off the gas would be a good idea. If I am going to be alarmed at anything it isn’t the brick wall, it is the idiot refusing to take his foot off the gas.

    For example, bloviating about net zero and then encouraging fracking and giving out North Sea oil exploration licenses and increasing national debt so that we will have less resources with which to deal with expensive problems later.

  113. Bob Loblaw says:

    Mike: Yes, Bob, I get your point about deadly wet bulb temps. I think we are now, or soon will be, gathering statistics and evidence about the limits that mammals can survive on our warming planet. I think this decision has already been made.

    You are still acting as if it is an assumption, with no evidence. Lots of people in medicine and human physiology have looked at how the human body responds to things like temperature extremes and such. Studies that have determined useful metrics such as wind chill, humidex, etc.

    You can debate which metric might be more useful regarding heat stress, but please stop pretending that we have to wait until huge numbers of people die in heat waves before this is no longer “an assumption”.

  114. Willard says:

    But Costs is right under But The Press, Russell.

    If you want to prove ze Bingo wrong, you should look at it first.

  115. russellseitz says:

    Willard, I hope you don’t mind if I translate the matrix back to five years before the Hansen on the Hill trope to see how robustly it is modeled:

  116. RickA says:


    Great summary.

    I would suggest that we can measure how catastrophic a society thinks AGW is by how much nuclear energy they deploy or plan on deploying. The more nuclear power the more seriously that society takes AGW.

    Just a thought.

  117. Willard says:



  118. russellseitz says:

    You give me too much credit, but feel free to post it here- Safari balks at WordPress image inserts

  119. Joshua says:

    Rick –

    > I would suggest that we can measure how catastrophic a society thinks AGW is by how much nuclear energy they deploy or plan on deploying

    I wouldn’t assume all those libertarians who oppose any kind of federal funding, of the type required to finance nuclear, are totally unconcerned about AGW.

  120. At Bob: I don’t pretend that the precise lethal wet bulb temp is an assumption. I think that temp exists give or take maybe 2 tenths of a degree. Here is what I find by googling the term lethal wet bulb temperature:

    1. At wet bulb temperatures above 35°C, researchers estimate that even fit people will overheat and potentially die within 6 hours…
    2. A sustained wet-bulb temperature exceeding 35 °C (95 °F) is likely to be fatal even to fit and healthy people, unclothed in the shade next to a fan; at this temperature human bodies switch from shedding heat to the environment, to gaining heat from it.

    Note the terms “estimate” and “likely”

    I do not pretend that we NEED to wait until large numbers of people die before we accept the 35C estimate or likelihood of death. I do think we are not going to reduce the ghg accumulations quickly enough to avoid observing these large heat death events. I do think that after several large heat death events we will know with more certainty what the exact number might be. I don’t think this is a good or ethical way to gather the data we need to be more precise about this awful number. I believe that we will blow by the ghg accumulations that will present these events and allow us to know this number with more precision. I think we are pretty close to that condition already. The next ENSO warm phase may give us all the data we need.

    The only thing that I can think we might do to keep from gathering the data by triggering large heat death events is to work very hard and very fast to put the methane accumulation in something under net zero. Is there another approach that would do as much to reduce the severity and incidence of large heat death events?

    We don’t have to label these events with the well known subjective terms that are used so often and create useless back and forth about where the goal posts stand.

    As somebody noted earlier: “climate doesn’t need to be a crisis in order for net zero to be a sensible thing to work towards, it just needs to be the rational action to maximise our gain in realising our values.” I agree completely with that position. If our values suggest that we would like to limit large heat death events, then it would be a sensible thing to work to prevent those events. And the next question, is “what is the cheapest, fastest way to prevent these events. (the heat death event definition should not be a challenge)

    If I do this exercise, my answer is, “oh, let’s slam methane.” I think another regular might say, “oh, let’s build out nuclear.” I would say, hmm.. not cheap or fast, but thanks for offering an idea.

    Are you with me? Can anyone hear think of a cheap, fast way to slow the global heat rise to reduce the likelihood of heat death events? I really like the idea of moving to a focus on rational action to maximize our gain in realizing our values. Whoever offered that up should take a bow.



  121. Bob Loblaw says:

    Mike: At Bob: I don’t pretend that the precise lethal wet bulb temp is an assumption.

    Sorry. I guess I misunderstood you when you said “I am looking at Sherwood from 2010 and I don’t see wet bulb temp of 35C is anything more than an assumption.”

    Now you have switched to saying it is “an estimate” or “likely”. “Estimates” and predictions of “likely” are sometimes based on prior understanding.

  122. The precise lethal wet bulb temperature remains uncertain at this time, but I believe it exists as an unfortunate reality where we are about to begin gathering data. When enough data is in hand, we may be able to say the precise lethal wet bulb temp is 34.8C or 35.2C. from sherwood abstract:

    “Despite the uncertainty in future climate-change impacts, it is often assumed that humans would be able to adapt to any possible warming. Here we argue that heat stress imposes a robust upper limit to such adaptation. Peak heat stress, quantified by the wet-bulb temperature TW, is surprisingly similar across diverse climates today. TW never exceeds 31 °C. Any exceedence of 35 °C for extended periods should induce hyperthermia in humans and other mammals, as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible. While this never happens now, it would begin to occur with global-mean warming of about 7 °C, calling the habitability of some regions into question…

    So, the Sherwood paper suggests that a common assumption before the paper was published was that humans could adapt to any possible warming. I think Sherwood indicates that we should change that assumption and move forward based on the assumption that humans likely cannot adapt to a wet bulb temp of 35C. I think that seems like a good idea. It seems like a much better assumption than the earlier common assumption that humans could adapt to any possible warming.

    But back to the cherry-picking framework, I think you and I would rather that our species stop its inadvertent experiment to determine the precise wet bulb temp that is lethal to mammals, whether that number turns out to be 35C or 34.4C or any such number.

    If it is true that we want to avoid that experiment, then how would we stop or reverse the warming? How fast can we do that? Can we move on to that challenge? I like methane, but what do I know?


  123. those are good questions, Dikran. I don’t think there are any easy answers. I certainly don’t have any answers. I think the outcomes, by way of inaction, are that many people will die, many people will attempt to migrate to areas with safer climates and residents of the relatively safe areas will resist the migration. Nation state economies may collapse or teeter. Wars may break out.

    I think that the outcomes, by way of rational action, are that the number of deaths, migrations, resistances and collapses will be smaller. What else is there to say? I like this idea a lot: “I really like the idea of moving to a focus on rational action to maximize our gain in realizing our values.”

    How would that happen? What would that look like?


  124. David Benson said on the assumption that the lethal wet bulb temp is 35C: “And yet that wet bulb temperature appears to largely survivable in South Asia”
    Links please? Data? or is this anecdatal?

  125. russellseitz says:

    “David Benson said on the assumption that the lethal wet bulb temp is 35C: “And yet that wet bulb temperature appears to largely survivable in South Asia”
    Links please? Data? or is this anecdotal?”

    The limits are real, but so is acclimation and appropriate technology mitigation, like deep cellars and furniture that faciliatese evaporation, like charpoys

  126. So the “CAGW” straw man is back, eh?

    “Additionally, we find that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is essentially a term that is never used in the relevant scientific literature by mainstream sources. Furthermore, in the press it appears to be used exclusively by climate contrarians. The term is typically neither defined nor attributed to a mainstream scientific source. Our conclusion is therefore that CAGW is simply a straw man used by climate contrarians to criticize the mainstream position.”

    “Similarly, many anti-climate action groups have evolved from outright climate denial to acknowledging that climate change is real and a problem but say they’re against “climate alarmism” and don’t believe in “catastrophic global warming.” But what do these terms mean? Again, they never say.
    Their actual operating definition is that “catastrophic global warming” is the precise amount needed to justify policy action, and, by definition, we will always fall short of it.”
    View this collection on

    from 13:41 – 15:42 :

  127. Willard says:

    Since Rick mentioned nukes:

    Using a carbon capture device fitted to its underside, the solar-powered electric-battery vehicle absorbs and stores more CO2 than it emits. To cut waste and production emissions, the body and frame are 3D-printed using recycled plastic, and the interior is fitted out in vegan leather made from pineapples.

    This sci-fi creation was devised and built by a team of 35 students at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, as part of its ongoing TU/ecomotive project, which sees students create concept cars based on innovative technologies.

    Big if true. Still cool idea if not. As long as the pineapple meat does not end on a pizza somewhere.

  128. Rick,

    I would suggest that we can measure how catastrophic a society thinks AGW is by how much nuclear energy they deploy or plan on deploying. The more nuclear power the more seriously that society takes AGW.

    I tend to think that it’s more an excuse that people use for not taking it seriously. Others aren’t deploying the thing that you think is necessary and, hence, it can’t really be a serious problem. If it was, they would do what you think they should do.

  129. I’ll maybe repeat that there are – AFAIA – no regions of the world today that reach wet bulb temperatures of 35C. There is another quantity called wet bulb globe temperature, which does reach 35C and is often confused for wet bulb temperature, but the 35C at which it becomes difficult for mammals to survive is 35 C wet bulb, not 35C wet bulb globe.

    Also, as I think Russell is pointing, technological developments can allow people to survive at wet bulb temperatures of ~35C, but this still doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be concerned about regions reaching these kind of temperatures.

  130. dikranmarsupial says:

    “technological developments can allow people to survive at wet bulb temperatures of ~35C, but this still doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be concerned about regions reaching these kind of temperatures.”

    Well said – some of the regions that might reach these temperatures are wealthy and can afford the technology, but some are not and cannot afford the technology. So if this is going to be a solution, who is going to pay for the technology for those who can’t afford it? Or should we let them adapt by becoming dead? This is where the productive discussion is stuck, and some are bickering about the science or the meaning of words in order to avoid discussing their values (which may include others adapting via death, but they don’t want to admit it to themselves or others). Climate denial (but in the psychological sense) is human nature – I suspect we all suffer from this to one extent or another. We (most of us) don’t want others to adapt by becoming dead, but we don’t want to diminish our lifestyles either (or fund adaption for people distant in time or space), so we have a dilemma and denial (via evasion) is one approach to resolving that. Until we can have an honest discussion about our values, there is no prospect for meaningful collective action.

  131. Chubbs says:


    Well put. The sad part is, we may not be giving up much lifestyle change for a better future, given the deteriorating economic competitiveness of fossil fuels. In any case the climate will warm for decades even with aggressive climate policy. Its the economic and climate lag times and the lack of action in previous decades that create the crisis.

  132. Bob Loblaw says:

    Mike backpedals to “The precise lethal wet bulb temperature remains uncertain at this time”

    Give it up, Mike. You were way off base when you said that 35C was “an assumption” when it comes to wet bulb temperature. There have been pointers to other measures such as wet bulb globe temperature. Other factors besides humidity enter into heat stress – and this is understandable when you consider the energy balance of a human body I described earlier: sun vs. shade, hot air vs. not-as-hot air, ventilation, etc. The different measures take these different factors into account.

    There is no magic limit to wet bulb temperature where you can say “it’s below the limit, everyone is safe” and “it’s above the limit, everyone dies”. It’s a risk factor. And a factor that becomes extremely dangerous if it is approached.

  133. Bob Loblaw says:

    As an aside on the issue of when or if we will see wet bulb temperatures at the 35C level, there is a physical reason why this is difficult to reach.

    The physics of heat and vapour transfer are such that direct heat loss (warm surface to cooler air) and evaporative loss (high humidity surface to drier air) respond to the same turbulent air movement. Thus, they work together in a ratio. When you do the math, an important factor is the slope of the saturation vapour curve, not just the isolated point representing the saturation vapour pressure at the current temperature.

    This slope increases dramatically as temperature increases, and as a result we see a greater proportion of energy loss via evaporation rather than direct heat loss. At sub-freezing temperatures, evaporation (or sublimation) is very low. At moderate temperatures, you have a balance between the two. At temperatures in the 30C range, nearly all energy is lost via evaporation (from a freely-evaporating surface).

    The implication of this is that over a free body of water, where there is no lack of water to evaporate, you reach a point where the water simply evaporates and you can no longer heat the overlying air – none of the energy available from sunshine is dissipated as thermal energy to the atmosphere.

    All of this is influenced by the overlying air – how much of its water vapour and thermal energy is derived from the local surface, vs. advected in from other locations.

    It takes special conditions to give you a situation where you can add that much water vapour to the atmosphere and heat it to that high a temperature at the same time. That’s why high temperatures are usually linked to dry conditions.

  134. Bob,
    There is one paper claiming that some regions (coastal sub-tropical) have already experience wet-bulb temperatures of 35C, but very localised in space and time. As far as I’m aware, this paper hasn’t confused WBT and WBGT.

  135. “some regions (coastal sub-tropical) have already experience wet-bulb temperatures of 35C, but very localised in space and time. As far as I’m aware, this paper hasn’t confused WBT and WBGT. ”

    I skimmed Raymond et al and will note that the incidents where wbt hit 35C lasted 1 to 2 hours. I think Sherwood assumes or estimates that lethality is reached at about 6 hours. If I have this stuff right, maybe we have not yet tested the Sherwood estimate of 35C for 6 hours for precision as the actual lethal wet bulb temp. It may be noted that 35C for 6 hours is the estimate for lethality for normal healthy adults. I think it is assumed that other human groups may experience death from a lower wbt than healthy adults. So, again, if heat death events don’t fit in to our values, this would be a good time to start acting to stop the heat rise and quickly. How can we do this? Can we scale up DAC really hard and fast to lower the CO2 levels in the atmosphere? Can we inject the atmosphere with sulfates as a way to reduce regional wbt temps and prevent a heat death event?



  136. SBM,
    Try running just a few kilometers (meaning just one, two or three) at noontime when the temperature is 35C, the humidity is only 50% and clear skies. I actually did so in Vicksburg MS in June-July-August-September for several years. I was extremely fit with a 10K PR/PB of 36:24, at 1.88m tall and 75 kilograms. A white male from Vermont.
    I would overheat to such an extent that I never could do more than 3 kilometers, I would then immediately go inside to a chilled water cooler where it was air conditioned for like 5 minutes before going out again for additional punishment.
    Suffice it to say that training in those conditions was not very beneficial to my overall running fitness (former triathlete so try swimming in a 20m pool heated to 30C, like I did and fell that prickly sweat coming off your body while swimming, again not too good for improving ones swimming fitness).
    You mentioned Phoenix, where it is very hot but also very dry. I was a runner on the west coast during business trips (Los Angeles). There 35C and very low humidity was sort of a wet dream, running and inline skating to boot.
    I would suggest you do an experiment. Get in a temperature controlled room at 35C, with a whole bunch of hanging wet towels (getting to 100% humidity) and a treadmill. Work that treadmill for 5-10 minutes, rest for 5-10 minutes, repeat said training regiment until you die.
    I might be a white boy but I am not a dumbass white boy.

  137. Bob Loblaw says:

    Interesting paper, Ken.

    One aspect of the WBT vs WBGT issue is that wet bulb temperature can be calculated as a function of temperature and humidity, as well as being measured directly. Wet bulb globe temperature is not a physical measurement – it is purely an empirical calculation based on other measured values. A couple of references:

    In addition to WBT and air T, WBGT requires a third measurement: “Globe temperature”. In the second link above, this is described as “Globe Thermometer Temperature (in Celsius) – this is measured by a thermometer placed in a special black globe to estimate solar radiation without the effects of the light itself

    So, WBGT tries to include the effects of additional solar heating when things are exposed to the sun. (Back to the human energy balance I described earlier.) Add more heat (absorb solar energy), need more cooling capability.

    Globe temperature is rarely measured, as far as I know. The Meteorological Service of Canada considered experimenting with them in the Toronto area when Toronto was hosting the PanAm games in 2015. Heat stress on athletes, etc.

  138. at EFS: I am 70 with a lot of health issues and running is no longer a possibility for me. I am really happy when I can get out and walk without pain levels erasing the pleasure of being out and about. My partner and I went walking in the old growth forest yesterday scouting for mushroom foraging areas in case our famous PNW rains finally return and mushrooms start popping up. I think about assisted dying options when my pain levels are too high and last too long. I am not sure what you think I would discover that I don’t already know from conducting your experiments. but I can’t do them.

    Because I have so many grandchildren and one g grandchild and because I love them and their parents so dearly, I have not been on an airplane in over 20 years. My partner and I don’t travel, like many of our friends do, because it feels like we are digging graves for the little ones if we indulge in high carbon footprint activities. I know it’s silly, but it makes my partner and I feel better about our lives and the situation that we have left for our babies.

    I am finding more time to sit at the computer these days and chatter away because sitting is not painful. And getting up after sitting is not painful. But the rewards of chattering on the computer are not equal to the pleasure I feel walking through old growth forest of Cascadia. The drought conditions take much of the joy away because when we are out now, I can observe the magnificent western red cedars dying from the lack of water. These big trees seem like the first people of the PNW to me. All of us grandfather beings in the PNW are yearning for our traditional rains to return.


  139. Willard says:

    Thank you for that comment, Mike. Don’t forget your walking sticks!

    Be well.

  140. Turns out that there is a lot of recent literature on temperature measurements wrt human comfort (e. g. WBT versus WBGT versus 6-direction and velocity (wind speed) measurements).

    I know from personal experience that there is a 20C (~30F in my own measurements) difference between something flat, no wind and white and something flat, no wind and black in clear sky air temperatures of ~35C. We were doing large bladders (25 ft long end-to-end and 5 ft in diameter), ones natural flat black and others coated with a white paint-like material. We had wrinkling issues due to heat and geometry of the bladders (they needed to be hotdog shaped (the 1st ones had flatter ends then hemispheres for reduced cost reasons but had major heat/shape related wrinkling issues (causing seam separations) that were well known by the manufacturer and corrected for in the final prototype) to minimize wrinkling under inflated pressures of a few psi).

    Anyways I am thinking of indoor environments (no ambient wind speeds but perhaps indoor fans for convection), outdoors wind speed is critical as is natural vs forced convection afaik.

    Anyways nothing is ever as easy as it would 1st appear to be.

  141. russellseitz says:


    One depressing aspect of military research on the impact of temperature on human performance is !that complex task and psychological test performance degrades rapidly as temperatures rise past 20C. It’s hard to fly well in a 30C cockpit, and 40 turns an army into a confederation of dunces.

    Look what happened to Cambyses !

  142. David B Benson says:

    smallbluemike, my source was the article from The New York Times on the high temperature and humidity in India this past monsoon season. I posted the link to it but it seems it is behind the paywall.

  143. Willard says:

    It’s always a good idea to search the online archives:

    There are other tools.

  144. Bob Loblaw says:

    David Benson:

    When you first linked to that NYT story, you said “And yet that wet bulb temperature appears to largely survivable in South Asia“.

    Now that Willard has kindly provided a link to a copy that I can read, I see that it mentions “the wet-bulb in Delhi, where almost 20 million people live, reportedly reached as high as 92.7. “.

    Although 92.7 is greater than 35, I’m pretty sure that the NYT article is giving wet bulb temperature in Fahrenheit, not Celcius. 92.7F is only 33.7C. Later in the article, it also points out that one of the factors in that heat wave is that is was a drier heat, with less humidity.

    So, exactly what wet bulb temperature were you referring to in your original comment, since the NYT report clearly does not support an argument that the wet bulb temperature was >=35C?

    Or maybe you were hoping that the paywall would prevent people from reading the story to see what it actually said?

  145. Not something that I track closely, but I think it’s clear that we have not yet warmed the planet enough to pass the lethal WBT. I think it is clear that with lethal WBT we are looking at humidity and temp and time. Simply touching the humidity and temp combo is not expected to be lethal to healthy adults/mammals until a certain amount of time has passed because we are talking about the mammalian limits on ability to keep core temps in a healthy range. We will see, and are already seeing heat events around the planet that cause a spike in the death rate, but most of those deaths are in compromised humans/mammals, not healthy adults. This is lamentable and might be something that could spur us to action to take steps that could stop global temp rise or slow it down quickly to avoid the lamentable deaths. I think we have already passed the lethal wbt threshold for some other species. Here was a Seattle event that pushed a tern colony to the brink:

    Here’s a study from Australia about bird deaths:

    Do bird lives matter?

    I believe we will scoot over the threshold of lethal wbt in the next warm enso phase and we will see many reports from around the world about these mass death events in birds and other species, as well as in the human population that is confined in heat island conditions without access to adaptive cooling technology. I don’t think it requires bayesian or other complex analysis to see on the horizon.

    A couple of questions arise for me:
    1. do we see this coming?
    2. are there things we can do to prevent or reduce the severity of these events?
    3. how would we increase the likelihood that nation states will take steps to address this problem?

    Communication of the science to the policy makers is always a challenge and our situation with fossil fuels is a wicked problem.

    Our species had success with ozone depletion response, but GHG accumulation response is more challenging:


  146. thanks, willard. I have converted all my old ski and snowshoe poles to walking sticks. Have them stationed around the house and near the doors. A single stick provides a lot of additional stability. My pt guru says falling down is to be avoided

  147. There was a programme on the BBC One last night called ‘Frozen Planet II’, which included film of the destruction of permafrost and described the impact it was having on that region’s fauna and flora. It was literally liquification of vast areas of ground. Now that’s a crisis, or indeed, a catastrophe.
    If we think such impacts evidenced in this programme won’t lead to a catastrophe for some of this planet’s human population, then we lack imagination.

  148. Does anyone have any details on the global warming bet Thomas Fuller allegedly made with Joe Romm? Because it would be nice to hold “lukewarmers” to testable predictions instead of value-laden discussions on a straw man like “CAGW.”

    Tom Fuller, 14 January 2011:
    “When I bet Romm a grand on temps this decade, he inserted a caveat that hedged his bet in case of volcanos. How would you try to deal with anomalous events?”

    Was this what the bet was about?:

    Thomas Fuller, 4 February 2021:
    “As I’m 66, I don’t know how long I would be able to sustain it, but I would be willing to wager that GAT doesn’t rise to .2C in any decade in my lifetime.”

    If so, then I reiterate what I said before: he lost the bet.

    Warming is 0.2°C/decade from 1991-2020, 2001-2020, and 2011-2020 in analyses such as:
    1) ERA5
    2) Berkeley Earth
    3) HadCRUT5
    5) NOAA

    That’s easily checkable with sources such as:

    ERA5 + Berkeley Earth are endorsed by Judith Curry, Curry helped co-author the Berkeley Earth research, and she seems to trust the team behind HadCRUT5 (see her “UK group” comment below). So it may be harder for lukewarmers to claim those analyses are fake.

    “The surface temperature data sets that I have confidence in are the UK group and also Berkeley Earth.”

    Click to access Methods-GIGS-1-103.pdf

  149. Typo in the previous comment. This:
    “Warming is 0.2°C/decade”
    should be:
    “Warming is 0.2°C/decade or more”

    Also wanted to emphasize that Fuller’s claims for a decade cannot be defended by citing the overall temperature trend since 1880.

    Thomas Fuller, 4 February 2021:
    ““According to the NOAA 2019 Global Climate Summary, the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase since 1981 (0.18°C / 0.32°F) is more than twice as great.”
    [Response: You have independently discovered that warming has accelerated since the 19th C. Well done! – gavin]”

    “ERA5 does have the largest trend over the shorter 1991–2020 standard climatological reference period. Values in K/decade are 0.24 for ERA5, 0.23 for GISTEMP and HadCRUT5, and 0.21 for Berkeley Earth, JRA-55 and NOAAGlobalTemp in this case.”

  150. David B Benson says:

    Bob Loblaw, did you actually read the entire opinion piece in The New York Times?
    Looks to me you just selected little bits.

    Anyway, I don’t know anything more than is in that article, other having visited the Taj Mahal during monsoon season, where I sent much time standing in the shade wsaiting for the next cloud to occlude the sun.

  151. Bob Loblaw says:

    David Benson:

    I read through to see what is said about wet bulb temperatures, which I assumed was your claim.

    If there is part f the article that you specifically think supports your claim (whatever your claim actually is), then please point it out. Since you have not specified or quoted a section that mentions WBT>=35C, and I could find one, I presume that you are just throwing up smoke.

  152. b fagan says:

    RickA: I’m intrigued where you said: “Plenty of time to move cities to higher ground, like humans did 20,000 years ago.”

    Which cities were moved 20,000 years ago? Where did they start and where did they move to? Did they just set their city down on the next city uphill, adding a handy bit of extra elevation, or did they have to go around it to find a fresh spot? Did they just move the buildings, or did they relocate all the roads and utility infrastructure, too?

    Any reason Indonesia isn’t just sliding Jakarta uphill a bit, and plans instead to build a brand-new capitol elsewhere?

    Links, please, I’ve got so many questions, and they’d probably be answered by reading the journal articles.

  153. I’m not quite sure what David and Bob are arguing about. Having read the article, it seems to be highlighting that some regions might be more resilient to high temperatures that expected (both because of some adaptation measures and an ability to cope with these conditions) but also highlights that not only were the calculated wet-bulb temperatures not > 35C, one has to be careful of how these are calculated. For example, if you use the max temperature and max humidity on a given day, you will likely over-estimate the wet-bulb temperatures because (as Bob highlighted earlier) these will probably not happen at the same time during that day.

  154. Dave_Geologist says:

    ATTP and Bob, my recollection of the Raymond et al. paper is that the first/worst affected areas are where humid offshore air comes in over desert, such as around the Persian Gulf. Presumably it gets warmed up and the relative humidity falls, so more complications.

    By the time you get well into the desert it will be dry enough not to worry. But all the big cities are on the coast.

  155. Dave,
    I think that is probably right. The lowest panel in the Sherwood and Huber paper shows an extreme version of what could happen, and seems to indicate that the regions that would be effected are around the Gulf, parts of India, the south-east coast of the US, the west coast of North Africa, and parts of South America.

  156. Bob Loblaw says:


    I’m waiting for David Benson to either clarify just what he thinks the NYT article demonstrates (since it is not that WBT>35C is largely survivable), or provide an indication of which part of the article he thinks does demonstrate that.

    Humidity measures need careful attention to be calculated/interpreted properly. The common “relative humidity” is horrible, since it depends on both actual humidity and air temperature. Changing temperature will change relative humidity, without adding or removing water vapour. Measures of absolute humidity (dew point, mixing ratio, specific humidity, partial pressure of water vapour) are independent of temperature – they will not change if air temperature (“dry bulb”) changes, unless water vapour is added or removed. I”d have to check to see if WBT is independent of air temperature.

    They are all related, and can be calculated from each other. The relationships are not linear – they involve the saturation vapour pressure (or mixing ration, or specific humidity) curve, which is roughly exponential. Improper linear averaging of non-linear relationships is a Bad Thing (TM).

    The movement of water vapour from the surface (e.g. a person’s skin) to the atmosphere depends on two factors: the difference in absolute humidity between the two, and atmospheric turbulence (translation: wind speed). Covered in sweat, the skin’s humidity will be the saturation humidity at skin temperature. So the humidity gradient will be (saturation at 37C) – (absolute humidity of air). A wet bulb at 35C will have an absolute humidity of (saturation at 35C). So the humidity gradient approaches zero – the difference between saturation at 37C and 35C.

    And remember that the human body generates energy via metabolism, so our question is not “when does evaporation loss reach zero?” – it is “when does evaporation loss become less than energy produced by metabolism?”.

  157. BNL and ATTP,

    In MS summertime it is very regular 75F low (at ~sunrise) and 95F high (mid ~afternoon), with the 75F low almost always being the dew point (grass is wet). So that the two, highest humidity and highest temperature are about 7-9 hours apart.

    Sorry for the temp units (95F=35C, 75F~24C) above.

  158. EFS,
    Indeed, I think that is what Bob pointed out earlier and is also pointed out in the article, in the sense that one has to be cautious of how you calculate the wet bulb temperature, because you can’t simply use the maximum temperature and maximum humidity, because they typically don’t happen at the same time.

  159. Bob Loblaw says:

    After a bit more thought, WBT probably does depend on air temperature, because the physical meaning is for a wet surface that is picking up heat from the air (“dry bulb temperature”) in the absence of radiative heating. So WBT includes the effect of air temperature causing discomfort. If you have the same absolute humidity (in the air) but a higher temperature, you’ll have a different balance.

    WBGT adds a solar heating term. You can reduce the effects of high WBGT by getting out of the sun, but you can’t get away from WBT that way because it already assumes you’re out of the sun.

  160. Bob Loblaw says:

    Thanks for that chart, EFS. Takes a bit to figure out the axes, but yes, it looks like at constant absolute humidity the WBT will increase as air T increases.

  161. We use wbt temp too loosely imo. Any particular wbt number is simply a coincidence of air temp and relative humidity, right? If we want to talk about the wbt at which healthy adults human die, then we have to add a time factor to the wbt. The current assumption is that a wbt of 35c for 6 hours will be lethal to healthy adult humans. So heat lethality is a result/combination of three factors. The lethal wet bulb temp event for humans is based on our mammalian characteristics, but other mammals that burrow or exist at the interface of land and bodies of water may be able to survive rather easily in events that we might describe as lethal to mammals. A build out of structures that have significant natural cooling characteristics could offer rather easy survival of heat events that would be lethal absent these “cool islands.”

    And although it doesn’t get mentioned very often, the actual lethal wbt event probably varies for non-mammalian species and the loss of certain non-mammalian species could produce predictable undesirable outcomes for humans.

    Is there anything obviously incorrect in my points here?


  162. re: Sherwood, “Any exceedence of 35 °C for extended periods should induce hyperthermia in humans and other mammals, as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible. While this never happens now, it would begin to occur with global-mean warming of about 7 °C, calling the habitability of some regions into question. With 11–12 °C warming, such regions would spread to encompass the majority of the human population as currently distributed.”

    So Sherwood is almost certainly wrong when it says that 35C for extended periods would begin to happen with global-mean warming of about 7C. The current record suggests that significant lethal wbt events will happen for humans well before we have warming of 7C, right?

  163. So Sherwood is almost certainly wrong when it says that 35C for extended periods would begin to happen with global-mean warming of about 7C. The current record suggests that significant lethal wbt events will happen for humans well before we have warming of 7C, right?

    The maximum wet bulb temperature is expected to rise by about 0.7C per 1C of global warming. When Sherwood & Huber wrote their paper, current estimates that maximum wet bulb temperatures rarely exceeded 31c. So, to get to 35C would take 4/0.7 ~ 6C of global warming. There are other studies that suggest there have been regions that have already experienced wet bulb temperatures close to 35C, but this has been very localised in time and space. So, they’re probably still roughly right that to get regions that experience wet bulb temperatures of 35C for reasonably long periods of time would take a reasonable amount of global warming. This doesn’t mean, though, that we shouldn’t be worried about wet bulb temperatures below 35C.

  164. Hey Dave, are you saying that humans have no worries about survival if we retreat into the desert because the dry heat and desert conditions are suitable for humans? Can you flesh out your “dry enough not to worry” conditions a little bit?

    Here’s something a little more current than Sherwood on lethal wbt events for humans:

    From that piece: “Many places have hit wet-bulb temperatures of 31 degrees C and higher. And several have recorded readings above the crucial 35-degree-C mark…

    Given the paucity of weather stations in some of the involved places, such as parts of Pakistan, “there’s probably even higher [wet-bulb] values out there,” says Raymond, who now works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The highest extremes were typically only reached for an hour or two, so they do not yet necessarily hit the limit of human tolerance…

    even much lower wet-bulb temperatures can be deadly, particularly to the elderly or those with underlying health conditions. The historic heat waves that killed thousands of people across much of Europe in 2003 and in Russia in 2010 never had a wet-bulb temperature above 28 degrees C. “These are very, very nasty conditions,” Eltahir says…

    parts of the world will regularly see wet-bulb temperatures higher than the 35-degree-C limit if global average temperatures rise just 2.5 degrees C above those of the preindustrial climate. The world has already warmed about 1 degree C above that level.”

    Sherwood suggested that 7c increase would give us lethal wbt events, this indicates 2.5 will be sufficient. All of this focus on the 35C for 6 hours seems like an academic distinction to me because of the heat wave death numbers from Europe in 2003 and Russia in 2010 where thousands of humans died at wbt of no more than 28c.

    I am certainly not suggesting that any of this is a crisis or a catastrophe or that we should be alarmed about these things. Maybe we should or maybe not, there is insufficient consensus on that to say with certainty. These things simply happen in our world now. I like the idea of moving to a focus on rational action to maximize our gain in realizing our values on these matters.

    Gotta go out and prune the grapes and kiwis. Gonna need the fall and winter sunshine on the building now that we have moved to cooler temps in the PNW.


  165. “they’re probably still roughly right that to get regions that experience wet bulb temperatures of 35C for reasonably long periods of time would take a reasonable amount of global warming.”

    Sherwood said: “Any exceedence of 35 °C for extended periods should induce hyperthermia in humans and other mammals, as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible. While this never happens now, it would begin to occur with global-mean warming of about 7 °C, calling the habitability of some regions into question. With 11–12 °C warming, such regions would spread to encompass the majority of the human population as currently distributed. Eventual warmings of 12 °C are possible from fossil fuel burning.”

    Raymond now suggests the events in question will begin to occur with 2.5C temp increase.

    Do you agree with these numbers from the papers?


  166. Bob Loblaw says:


    You keep digging.

    Mammals have normally escaped lethal wet bulb temp events by retreating into burrows or bodies of water.

    Yes Water bodies will help, if they are cooler (and which remove heat from a body much more efficiently than air). Burrows, which will be cooler if they are at some reasonable depth, also provide a choice. It takes time for surface heat to spread into the soil, so at say 50cm depth the temperatures will have little variation over the day and you will not be exposed to peak surface temperature. There are well-understood physical aspects of those environments that help with heat dissipation.

    We will survive the heat if we all live in swimming pools or caves.

    The current assumption is that a wbt of 35c for 6 hours…

    Please make up your mind whether this is an assumption. You keep saying it, then denying that you think it is an assumption.

  167. Sorry, if I say assumption, just translate to estimate. I will try to switch to estimate consistently. It’s not a difference that makes much difference to me, but it does to you and I can accommodate that. Are you ok with estimate?

    Good point on water temp and burrow depth, soil temp, etc. If we were to become a human species that routinely retreats to a cool burrow when we need to, as some other mammals do, then we might find that we would reject the estimated wbt temp 35C for 6 hours as anything particular lethal or notable. It would simply be burrow time. Why would a human stay on the surface in those conditions? It would be like insisting on staying underwater without breathing apparatus for ten minutes. These things could be indistinguishable from suicide after the fact.

    I think we are likely to cross into a state of global temp rise soon where something like “burrow time” will become commonplace. I think that will happen unless we are blessed by the “god saves us” or “technology saves us” miracle. Burrow time or similar adaptations are not fixes, they may be adaptations that can buy us time, but it seems like we have to stabilize greenhouse gas accumulations in the atmosphere at net zero and perhaps even push beyond that point if required. All of that is aspirational and somewhat academic because so far we continue to increase the accumulations, right?

    I expect that our species will be tempted to engage in ad hoc geoengineering experiments to reduce lethal heat events and that will take us another step into the era of unforeseen consequences. I think it would be a good thing if we did not resort to the geoengineering experiments, but what do I know?

    Sometimes I think we are not a very rational species. Look at these links:

    Burrow time may not work real well in Florida for evading the heat, so definitely looks like water time there. And yet despite the handwriting on the wall wrt to the gator state, I think we will expend a lot of resources “building back better” despite some indicators that maybe we should take a moment and think hard.

    As long as the glacial melt in Greenland and Antartica doesn’t speed up, I guess building back is a good idea. Glaciers move and melt at glacial speed, right?

    Retreat to the desert and forget your worries, right?

  168. Willard says:

    I think this exchange has run its course, Mike.

  169. yeah, agree. left leg is killing me today, so spending too much time on computer. Everybody stay well

  170. b fagan says:

    Thank you, Richard, for the link. But I’d asked about cities and you gave me nomadic hunter-gatherers.

    We can’t “just move” cities like people did 20,000 years ago because cities didn’t exist then. The earliest actual “city-sized” cities arrived after Holocene sea level rise was essentially complete about 7,000 years ago. The only submerged ones known all sunk from volcanic or earthquake shifts in elevation, or because they were in delta areas and streamflow shifts stopped replacing the sediment on the delta under them (hello, New Orleans).

    So explain to us how you’d move, for example, Miami. Population ~440,000. Lots of skyscrapers. Current average elevation 6 feet above sea level. According to their regional climate planning documents: “by 2120, sea level is projected to rise 40 to 136 inches above 2000 mean sea level.”

    100 years from now, average elevation of Miami could be three feet, or could be 5-1/3 feet BELOW sea level.

    That estimate and a link to their planning guide and a sea-rise mapping tool are under the “Sea Level Rise Projections” part of this page Use the map tool, zoom out a bit in the view, and click for a six-foot increase and see what area changes color to blue and what buildings turn red.

    Miami spent over half a billion dollars just to raise some roads 3 feet and install some floodwater pumps to deal with their increasing tidal-flood events. The estimate I’d seen for raising their sewage treatment systems was $3 billion minimum, but I’m not sure what level of extra elevation that would pay for – and when has a civil engineering project come in near budget? Just new roads can cost millions of dollars per mile, especially in densely-populated areas.

    So how, and where, would you move Miami? It’s not a paleolithic camp. Its roads and water pipes and sewage pipes and bridges and other infrastructure is heavy and fixed to the ground. Their skyscrapers are, too, as are much of the smaller buildings. All built to be in that spot on that porous limestone reef that’s seeping saltwater towards their freshwater aquifers as the water table rises to the surface and moves inland.

    I hear climate skeptics claim decarbonizing our energy system (and moving away from constantly buying fuels) is somehow ruinously expensive. Then they say “just adapt” like you suggest – without considering the costs to that. Multiply Miami by every coastal city and ask a contractor for an estimate, or an actuary for projected loss this century of existing infrastructure not yet amortized.

  171. Richard Arrett says:

    If sea level rises 1 foot in a century, it is not hard to move the city inland to compensate. Just change building codes and when a building wears out, build a new one on higher ground. The city would gradually migrate inland and upwards at about 1 foot per century. If there is no higher ground then people will move to somewhere with higher ground.

    There are no people killed by SLR – they just move (very very slowly).

  172. b fagan says:

    Hi Richard,
    Since you’re not making a serious attempt to respond about costs or method to “move a city”, I’ll be brief and be done with our discussion.

    “If sea level rises 1 foot in a century”. Wishes are not fishes. I quoted above from a linked source in south Florida which notes they plan for an increase of between 3-1/3 feet and 11-1/3 feet in 120 years ending in 2120, based on NOAA and other sources they cite.

    And here’s Robert Rohde’s graph showing sea level changes over the last 20,000 years. Note the multiple steep shifts across time, smoothing about 7,000 years ago.

    Your links to the Mediterranean sites support my remark about sea level rise vs. the known causes for sites submerged more recently. I said:
    “…after Holocene sea level rise was essentially complete about 7,000 years ago. The only submerged ones known all sunk from volcanic or earthquake shifts in elevation, or because they were in delta areas and streamflow shifts stopped replacing the sediment on the delta under them”

    You reference these sites (which I’ve seen used before to pretend sea level rise was steep over the last two millennia).

    Atlit-Yam, Israel = Your one site old enough to have been sunk by post-glacial sea level rise – submerging 8,500 years ago.

    Then the later sinkers
    Heracleion, Nile Delta – ancient city build on islands of Nile delta sediment.

    Pavlopetri, Greece – close to 5,000 years old, sunk by local tectonics.

    Baiae, Italy – Only partially submerged, by ground subsidence as lava chambers beneath it emptied (new word for me – “bradyseism”).

    Cities aren’t moved – things fall apart, get damaged in episodic storms, and decay from increased salt-water corrosion. (Atlit-Yam’s wells became unusable as rising seas displaced the freshwater supply.)

    If the place has a nice view, the wealthy keep things propped up until they’re bored with the repairs and inconvenience, then they move on, and the local economy will fade as the tax base declines and repairs fall farther behind damage. The less-wealthy stay on as long as they can, or leave with little left after an event like our recent Ian.

    Feel free to reply if you wish. I’m done.

  173. b fagan says:

    Gaa – paste link vs embed link to Rohde’s image. I’ll never get it right the first time. Hoping the second time works.

    CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

  174. Rick,
    Yes, sea level probably isn’t the greatest risk we face. However, the idea that in all scenarios it will be easy to simply move to deal with it seems wildly optimistic. Not only could it be substantially more than 1 foot, some cities have properties that have been there for a very long time. There will clearly be an impact if you really do have to rebuild parts of cities because of sea level rise.

    The other point that I think b fagan is making is that it is somewhat bizarre that those unconcerned about climate change seem to think that adapting will be trivial, but somehow avoiding having to do so will be catastrophically expensive.

  175. Tom Fuller says:

    Point of order, here–skeptics and we lukewarmers are not saying adaptation will be easy or cheap.

  176. Dave_Geologist says:


    Thanks for that chart, EFS. Takes a bit to figure out the axes, but yes, it looks like at constant absolute humidity the WBT will increase as air T increases.

    Thanks to both. That was the complication I mentioned. Does relative humidity fall faster as temperature rises, for a fixed pH2O? Looks like the reverse, presumably due to that exponential.

    smallbluemike, I would take it that means you’re only OK in the middle of the desert when you’re far enough in to be among native desert air and not intruding humid air.

    Which presumably happens in the models where the worst impact is near the coast and WBT is lower far from the coast despite T°C being higher.

    Of course millions of people can’t head off into the desert – they have to find ways of coping on the coast.

    Anecdotally, I was always much more comfortable in the desert during the summer months than outdoors in Algiers. And in Sanaa than in Aden or Hodeidah, although 2 km of elevation difference is the main driver there.

    Hodeidah was barely liveable thirty years ago during the monsoon season, unless you enjoy being a wet rag. And now they presumably have frequent power outages due to the war.

  177. Tom,
    Firstly, it was mostly a response to Rick’s suggestion that – in the case of sea level rise – it would be easy and cheap. However, even if this isn’t some kind of common position, there certainly seem to be people who think adaptation will be straightforward/easy (choose a suitable word) and that trying to limit emissions will somehow be catastrophic. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but it does sometimes seem that some think we can adapt to anything apart from a world in which we actively limit how much is emitted.

  178. Willard says:

    Why adapt? AGW can be good:

    Look, the Northumberland squirrel!

  179. Ridley is probably correct with his idea that there is too much focus is on the negative impacts, but I skimmed his bit and think maybe he goes too far.

    I did see this bit of good news about a new wind energy design that is really quite beautiful (in the Bucky Fuller sense):

  180. Dave_Geologist says:

    Of course when I wrote pH2O it popped into my head that ideally (see what I did there 🙂 ) I should be using fugacity not pressure or partial pressure.

    So I got out a 40-year-old textbook for some off-topic thoughts … Wow! The fugacity coefficient for water is really, really tiny at low temperatures. That means water molecules attract each other really, really strongly, and don’t want to play with anything else. Of course we know that already: it’s why it’s the only fluid with such a low molecular weight that is liquid at room temperature. Methanol is the next one up I suppose, for the same reason – hydrogen bonding. I’d just never looked at that part of the table – I was working more in 1000K and 10kbar territory.

    We can probably ignore it as far as wet-bulb temperature goes, because the partial pressure of water in air is so low that the water molecules are a long way apart.

    At very high pressures the fugacity coefficient flips from less than one (attraction) to greater than one (repulsion). Presumably the molecules are squeezed so closely together that electrostatic repulsion of the nuclei overpowers the hydrogen bonds.

    The crazy thing I’ve just noticed, which I didn’t during my PhD, is that the flip is at 650°C and 8kbar. That’s smack bang in the P,T range of the rocks I worked on! How cool is that? On a par with the Moon being just the right size and distance to eclipse the Sun, but more so ‘cos it’s just me!

    (OK, me and anyone else who’s worked on migmatites and crustal-partial-melt granites – that’s where interesting things start to happen.)

  181. b fagan says:

    Tom – “Point of order, here–skeptics and we lukewarmers are not saying adaptation will be easy or cheap.”

    Perhaps you don’t, but how about those like Richard, who present an imaginary world where sea level has been rising a foot a century throughout the Holocene (simply by averaging the 20,000 year total!), and who personally define “catastrophic” climate change as killing 10% of humanity at a go? If you allow yourself assumptions like that, you kid yourself that cities move easily, in a world where multiple states in the US bar consideration of climate risk when making investment decisions or zoning laws.

    Look at any Murdoch property’s opinion pieces on ending fossil and you are bombarded with objections to decarbonizing, and nodding attempts at the “we can adapt”. Perfect example right from Wall Street Journal board member Holman Jenkins, in today’s paper, where he oversells the ability to adapt big, expensive infrastructure while downplaying the increasing speed of the sea level rise that will be exacerbated the more we delay the energy transition. He also ignores the fact that people with wealth are very portable, so they’re not tied to the spending that will be required to deal with the rising ocean and increasingly intense rainfall. They can leave as easily as they arrived.

    And I quote: “The rather more obvious truth is that climate processes, even when influenced by greenhouse gases released by human beings, operate on much longer time-scales than do human adaptation and innovation. With so many people and their wealth arriving in their state, Floridians will be well-supplied with the means and incentive to adapt to the risks that come from living in hurricane alley.”

    When the expected lifetime of a large structure is measured in decades or even a century, the changes in climate will have a real impact on the value of those investments. Unless Floridians are building little feet on their infrastructure, and building a taller state for the buildings to walk to.

  182. Mal Adapted says:


    skeptics and we lukewarmers are not saying adaptation will be easy or cheap.

    Your use of “skeptics” is ambiguous. We’re all skeptics here. Are you talking about pseudoskeptics, i.e. deniers?

    And Tom, while Rick is a lukewarmer (a species of denier), you are not. You acknowledge that the aggregate grief and expense ensuing from even modest warming more than justifies collective action to decarbonize the global economy. You haven’t tried to resist internalizing your private carbon costs by deprecating or dismissing the individual and community catastrophes that AGW has already caused wholly or partially. IOW, your views are scarcely distinguishable from the climate science mainstream.

  183. Richard Arrett says:

    b fagan:

    SLR was 8 inches last century. Over 100 years, buildings get old and torn down, or property values will decrease if they experience flooding. People will move and build elsewhere. Not many move further into the flood zone – usually they move further inland. My point is it will happen organically, as it did last century.

    Where are the articles and journal papers touting the massive problems caused by 8 inches of SLR last century? The massive costs of adaptation or the lost lives. Exactly – there are no major problems. Just the normal weather issues, such as floods and hurricanes – not problems from the 8 inches of sea level rise per se.

    While a building or two was probably abandoned in a coastal city, you don’t read about it. Why? No one cares. It is not a huge problem. 100 years is a very very long time to deal with a little water damage, which may get very very gradually worse over the century.

    Sure adaptation isn’t free – but people will move and build elsewhere anyway. Not many are going to stand still as the ocean rises 0.08 inches per year. No fear of drowning. In New Orleans, the places 8 feet below sea level went down in value when the levies were breached and they flooded. Sure some rebuilt – but most moved elsewhere. That is normal and happens organically.

    If you are really worried about it I would recommend living higher above sea level. I live over 900 feet above sea level, in Minnesota. Admittedly – this may be why I am not worried about SLR. But you have to admit that if SLR was a problem, you would think you would have read historical accounts of the major problems as the oceans rose over 600 feet over the last 20,000 years. Crickets! People didn’t even know the sea level rose until the industrial revolution, when science began keeping measurements. It wasn’t a huge problem then and it isn’t a huge problem now. Sure, it is easy to project out a hundred years or a thousand years and pretend the projected rise happens all at once today – but that is not how it will happen. It will be 2 or 3 or 4 millimeters per year, and nobody will even notice it until a very very long time has gone by.

    Don’t stress about it. Better to push for nuclear energy to solve global warming than worry about sea level rise, which has been happening naturally for 20,000 years (and of course all of our worlds history – rising and falling – naturally).

  184. Rick,
    As with Tom, I don’t think you’re really engaging with the arguments. Just repeating your basic point doesn’t really qualify. Future projections of sea level rise are not simply extrapolations from the past, they depend quite strongly on future emission pathways.

  185. Richard Arrett says:

    [But Predictions. – W]

  186. Again, you’re simply repeating your own views, which are not consistent with the best evidence available. This is entirely your right, but what is the point? A discussion in which you don’t engage with the other viewpoints isn’t really a discussion.

  187. Richard Arrett says:

    I am engaging. A definition of catastrophic was asked for and I supplied one. Nobody wants to talk about it – but that is not my fault!

  188. Willard says:

    Exploiting a thread to editorialize and plug your pet topics does not count as engaging, Rick. And just in case you think AT can’t recognize that your last comment wasn’t related to the definition, please know that I send him the comments I edit. In fact every time I moderate I tell him about it.

    Please do not use my comment to play the ref.

  189. Richard Arrett says:

    [Playing the ref. -W]

  190. b fagan says:

    I don’t normally promote webinars, but given that extreme heat was so actively discussed on this thread, if anyone is interested, there’s a webinar on October 20th which is part of the “Climate Conversations” project at the US National Academies.

    “Join us for a conversation about how to prepare for and minimize the impacts of increasingly extreme heat in the U.S.

    About this Event
    Extreme heat is often not taken as seriously as other extreme weather, yet it kills more people in the U.S. than any other weather-related disaster. And because of climate change, extreme heat events are becoming hotter, longer, and more common, including in new times of year and in places not used to hot weather.”

    More detail, schedule and signup link here:

    Past topics are listed at this link and all webinars are recorded and put on YouTube (viewable at least in the US, your results may vary):

  191. Richard Arrett says:

    [Playing the ref. -W]

  192. Richard Arrett says:

    Past SLR has not been catastrophic. Projected SLR, to the extent it comes to pass (which I doubt) will not be catastrophic either.

  193. Richard Arrett says:

    Nobody has died from global warming. People only die from weather. People have always died from weather and they will continue to die from weather – even if we get to zero emissions.

  194. Willard says:

    Nobody ever died from guns. People only die from anger. So the main cause of homicide is a lack of self-regulation:

  195. Other testable claims one can examine to evaluate Thomas Fuller’s “lukewarmer” position, instead of value-laden discussions over whether something meets someone’s personal definition of “catastrophic” or their “CAGW” straw man:

    “6. I believe that a generation of climate scientists have tried to make global warming a political football, and have exaggerated or distorted the truth to push politicians into acting more robustly, and too instill a fear-driven sense of urgency in the general public.
    8. I believe that both temperatures and CO2 concentrations have been higher in the past, and that the Medieval Warming Period (and the Roman Warming Period and the Holocene Optimum) were warmer than today.”

    “People apparently didn’t learn from the horrible example set by Michael Mann et al in fabricating a Hockey Stick chart of global temperatures that was later debunked.”

    Climate scientists often under-estimated climate trends and used less alarmist language, as opposed to “exaggerat[ing]” to “instill a fear-driven sense of urgency”:

    “A constant refrain coming from the denial campaign is that climate scientists are “alarmists” who exaggerate the degree and threat of global warming to enhance their status, funding, and influence with policy makers. The contribution by William Freudenburg and Violetta Muselli provides an insightful empirical test of this charge and finds it to lack support. […] They then present evidence that IPCC assessments have in fact understated the degree of subsequently reported climate disruption, supporting their argument.”
    [ ]

    And the “Hockey Stick” was validated, not debunked, with a “Medieval Warming Period” that was not warmer than today. The last decade is likely globally warmer than any multi-century period in the past ~125,000 years:
    figure 2.11 on page 316:

  196. Mal Adapted says:

    Atomsk’s Sanakan, thanks for the direct quotes from Tom in his professional venue. While he seems to acknowledge the epistemic accuracy of most of the climate-science consensus for AGW, he nonetheless accuses “a generation of climate scientists” with trying to “make global warming a political football…exaggerated the truth to push politicians…instill a fear-driven sense of urgency…(Mann et al.) fabricating hockey stick later debunked”. Nowhere does Tom recognize the aggressive public denialism funded by fossil-carbon capital. What Tom is denying, is the epistemic authority of climate science and the political power of concentrated capital. He accuses climate scientists of publicly expressing their personal alarm, backed up by their personal knowledge of climate facts. He thinks disciplined scientific responses to professionally crafted denialist sophistries are “exaggerating the truth”, without offering evidence. He equates personal preferences of climate scientists for mitigating AGW, with playing political football. At the very least, Tom is a denialism denier!

  197. Re: Mal Adapted

    Thanks. Providing quotes helps pin people down on their position, which is something Potholer54 also does well. I’m tired of people advocating positions they call “lukewarmer” without offering falsifiable claims that allow their position to be tested, but instead just give subjective + untestable complaints about straw men like “CAGW”. Hence why I’m looking to quote falsifiable claims they made.

    Above in the thread I pointed out how Thomas Fuller said his position implied 0.2°C/decade of warming wouldn’t happen, even though I showed above that warming trend happened, as did Gavin Schmidt. That seems to be a common objection among lukewarmers; Lucia Liljegren, another self-professed lukewarmer, and Judith Curry made a similar point as Fuller with respect to the IPCC’s 0.2°C/decade warming projections. The falsified claims of Fuller, Liljegren, and Curry is one line of evidence that mainstream sources like the IPCC and Gavin Schmidt are more credible than self-professed “lukewarmers”.

    Gavin Schmidt:
    “[Response: You don’t need to wait! GISTEMP trend from 2001 to 2020 is 0.23ºC/dec. Difference btw 2011-2020 and 2001-2010 is 0.21ºC, difference btw, 1991-2000 and the following decade is 0.24ºC etc. etc. In HadCRUT5 the last 20 year trend is exactly 0.2ºC/dec. I could go on, but you’d do well to the math before you wagered any actual money. – gavin]”

    Judith Curry:
    “[…] the IPCC’s projection of 0.2C/decade warming in the first two decades of the 21st century […]”

    Judith Curry:
    “In terms of anticipating temperature change in the coming decades, the AGW dominated prediction of 0.2C/decade does not seem like a good bet […]”

    Lucia Liljegren:
    “Based on comments above, he appear to give the IPCC 0.2C/decade for the first few decades even odds. ( I don’t. I think the probability of 0.2C/decade is less than half.)”

    Lucia Liljegren:
    “I think Tom Fuller, who like me, is a long time self-identified Lukewarmer […]”

  198. Hi, Atomsk’s… Umm, actually, I have said my SWAG for warming this century was 2.1C. I’ve written that on both my weblogs, in comment sections of most of the [climate] blogs… I have also written many times that I think ECS is roughly around the 2C range. Where do you get these ideas?

  199. MalAdapted, thank you for realizing what I’ve been writing about for more than a decade. My views/beliefs/best understanding as a non-scientist are not that far from the climate science mainstream. They are far from the more imaginative writings of certain NGOs and journalists who publish those writings without much in the way of investigation.

  200. Tom,
    I still think it ironic that you complain about people thinking climate sensitivity will be high, while arguing that it’s probably low. Do you at least get the rough equivalence?

    Also, one might argue that those who think it could be high are more consistent with basic risk management, than those who think it will be low. The big risk is with low-probability high-impact events, not low-probability low-impact events.

  201. Hi ATTP, to a certain extent I do see the irony. What assuages my embarrassment is that I label my guesses as guesses.

  202. And I’ll mention again that risk management is a recognized field of study and a profession. You (all) might read up on it a bit. I think some here have (?), but it is used a bit too loosely in these discussions. Where’s Mosher when we need him?

  203. Bob Loblaw says:

    Given that you label your guesses as guesses is one of the reasons why we have the term “luckwarmer”, Tom.

  204. Tom,
    I did wonder if you’d get pedantic, and condescending. I did use words like “roughly”, “basic” and “more consistent” to try and avoid it, but some people just can’t help themselves.

    However, although risk management is clearly much more complex than could be conveyed in a couple of lines in a blog comment, I’m pretty confident that “don’t worry, I believe that the lower impact outcome is much more likely than experts who work on topic think it will be” is pretty non-standard.

    At the end of the day, most of the risk is typically associated with low-probability high-impact events, rather than low-probability low-impact events. This doesn’t immediately tell us what we should do, but a part of the process would probably involve considering if we should actually do something to reduce the risk, which normally wouldn’t involve simply believing that these low-probabilty high-impact outcomes simply aren’t going to happen.

  205. ATTP, FWIW I agree. It’s just that talking about high impact, low probability events involves calculations of a) actual impact and b) actual possibility. Those calculations don’t often appear. When the IPCC did a special report on impacts way back in 2014, it was not well received, as the impacts it actually projected were not high enough. AR6 doesn’t seem apocalyptic, either.

    As I mentioned way, way up above, there are elements of the current climate state that do alarm me–Arctic ice levels and concentrations of intense precipitation. But neither from those two nor from other trends (SLR, drought, floods) seem to point towards ‘high impact’ from a climate perspective. From the point of view of those affected, of course, the impact is… well, I don’t want to use the word. Severe.

  206. Willard says:

    Our luckwarm fellow agrees that he would get pedantic and condescending?

    That might be a first.

  207. Hard not to condescend to you, willard, given your low, low status. (Joking, joking…)

  208. Willard says:

    [CLOV] I did wonder if you’d get condescending and pedantic.

    [HAMM] FWIW I agree.

    All this because of the words otters use. Only one word in fact. One very special word.

    No, not plastics.

    Climateball is the opposite of being severe.

  209. Re: thomaswfuller2

    I didn’t mention your evidence-free underestimation of ECS. I instead noted three claims you made:

    1) 0.2°C/decade of warming would not happen in your lifetime.
    2) Mann et al. fabricated a hockey stick for global temperatures and this fabrication was debunked, such that the Medieval Warming Period [and the Roman Warming Period and the Holocene Optimum] were warmer than today.
    3) A generation of climate scientists exaggerated the evidence on global warming to push politicians into acting and instilling a fear-driven sense of urgency in the general public.

    I directly quoted you making those claims, with links to where you made them, and I cited evidence that those claims of your’s were wrong. So it is strange for you to ask “[w]here do you get these ideas?,” when the ideas are from direct quotes of what you said.

    So do you have evidence that any of those 3 claims of your’s are true, or are you going to admit you were wrong? Citing other claims you’ve made on topics like ECS, discussing a subjective straw man of “CAGW”, etc. does not address those 3 listed claims.

    “Then promptly ignore them. Then when you [Tom Fuller] get tired of ignoring them, randomly pick and choose which things to respond to.”

  210. Willard says:

    You already said all this, AS.

    No need to go all-in every time.

  211. dikranmarsupial says:

    “AR6 doesn’t seem apocalyptic, either.”

    does it have to be to warrant strong action to get to net zero to mitigate against climate change? No.

    This constant hyperbole comes across as a ruse to polarize the discussion and avoid balanced risk analysis.

    But neither from those two nor from other trends (SLR, drought, floods) seem to point towards ‘high impact’ from a climate perspective. From the point of view of those affected, of course, the impact is… well, I don’t want to use the word. Severe.

    The problem is that if you are genuinely interested in rational risk analysis, their point of view is equally as valid as yours and you cannot discount it, even if it is a low probability event.

    BTW I have studied and taught Bayesian decision theory.

  212. Willard says:

    So, does that mean we can all agree over SAGW?

    (For those in the back, S would stand for Severe.)

    Perhaps not. One might still dispute the modality by which that S is being expressed. And one might also dispute the role one takes when expressing that modality. And how the press might interpret it. And the modulz. And the predictions. Et cetera. Ad nauseam.

    And round and round we’d go into the Climateball Bingo.

  213. dikran, I’m glad we are united in our distaste for hyperbole.

  214. Interesting article about shoreline management at North Cove and Westport. We used to camp at Twin Harbors State Park and walk the beach at Westport. Can probably tell us all something about managing shoreline improvements.

  215. paulski0 says:

    Richard Arrett,

    But you have to admit that if SLR was a problem, you would think you would have read historical accounts of the major problems as the oceans rose over 600 feet over the last 20,000 years.

    As has been pointed out to you before, this is just wrong. Oceans rose by about 400 feet between about 20,000 and 6,000 years ago. Since then there has been little significant sea level change. Meaning pretty much the entire period in which civilisation occurred, when we have surviving written historical accounts, happened without global sea level change being a thing. Until a few decades ago.

    But even beyond that, pretty much every culture around the world has a deeply embedded pre-civilisation flood myth. So we’re not even talking about absence of evidence not being evidence of absence. We can speculate on the origins of the flood myths but basically all the evidence we could possibly have to suggest that sea level change was a major problem thousands of years ago is actually in place.

  216. Mal Adapted says:


    From the point of view of those affected, of course, the impact is… well, I don’t want to use the word. Severe.

    Come on, Tom, let’s use the word. Thank you for acknowledging that catastrophe is in the eyes of the victims, who are at least as entitled to define it as you are. The scornful use of “CAGW” by lukewarmers is an explicit dismissal of the mounting toll of homes, livelihoods, and lives that AGW is already taking around the world. One might suppose AGW is only catastrophic for lukewarmers if they suffer losses themselves.

  217. dikranmarsupial says:

    Tom “dikran, I’m glad we are united in our distaste for hyperbole.”

    you are happy to use it though “AR6 doesn’t seem apocalyptic, either.”

    sorry, that sort of one liner doesn’t impress.

  218. Willard says:

    C’mon, Mal. What’s currently happening in Pakistan does not (I repeat not) deserve the C word:

    So this is a conversation about the fragile, uncertain future of the global economy at this history-making moment and the Fed’s role in it. We discuss what the British financial market meltdown means for the rest of the world, how the interest rate hikes in rich countries export inflation to other countries, the looming possibility of a global recession, why Tooze believes something could break in the global financial system, why countries in South Asia are experiencing a particularly severe form of “polycrisis,” how the Fed should weigh its mandate to bring down inflation against the global consequences of its actions, why he believes analogies to the American inflationary period of the 1970s are misguided and more.

    It’s just severe.

    Ten years on a brand to change one word.

    Words matter that much.

  219. The floods in Pakistan are a repeat performance that is, if not regular, at least periodic. Pakistan’s dramatic increase in population has led many to live in flood plains and narrow valleys that have been flooded since time immemorial. There is nothing new or unusual about their floods.

  220. And Willard, I’m happy to use the word catastrophic to describe what is happening to those living in affected areas in Pakistan. And tragic. And preventable. I just thought you guys didn’t want lukewarmers and skeptics using that word anymore.

  221. Richard Arrett says:

    Paulskio says “As has been pointed out to you before, this is just wrong. Oceans rose by about 400 feet between about 20,000 and 6,000 years ago. ”

    You are still 200 feet short. 200 feet is a lot of SLR. Not a problem. People just moved – just like they will today and in the centuries to come. No big deal. Not a catastrophe.

  222. Sigh, it would be so nice if people tried to understand the arguments being made, rather than mocking the arguments that they think are being made.

  223. russellseitz says:

    Diplomacy is called for when discussing the Burrow Option, as Troglodytes get bad ink :

  224. Tom,
    I do love (not) how you assert things with such confidence. I realise that I’m talking to a brick wall, but climate change isn’t expected to generate events that have never happened before. It’s expected to influence the intensity and/or frequency of events. That a region has experience severe flooding before, does not mean that severe floods today have not been influenced by climate change. Surely, after this many years of being engaged in discussions about this topic, you get this basic point?

    In the case of the flooding in Pakistan, it’s likely that climate change increased the extreme precipitating that led to the flooding, so not a confident statement of attribution, but also not “nothing new or unusual” either.

  225. Mal Adapted says:

    countries in South Asia are experiencing a particularly severe form of “polycrisis,”

    Heh, there’s a ‘C’ word in there. How severe need a polycrisis be, to amount to a catastrophe?

  226. Mal Adapted says:


    There is nothing new or unusual about [Pakistan’s] floods.

    Science says there is:

    The authors conclude that a five-day period of rainfall that hit the southern provinces of Sindh and Balochistan in late August is now about 75% more intense than it would have been had the climate not warmed by 1.2C.

    That “75% more intense” presumably results in x% more grief and expense than if climate had not warmed.

    You can look this stuff up just as easily as I can, Tom.

  227. Willard says:

    > Heh, there’s a ‘C’ word in there. How severe need a polycrisis be

    Well played, Good Sir!

    Let’s commit a few facts from our area of agreement:

    Extreme weather events can have critical effects on human populations. AGW can increase the frequency or their intensity. Vulnerable populations are hit the hardest by them. Extreme events can converge with other unfortunate events, in which case we get extremely unfortunate events.

    Climate is a statistics of weather. Some research indicate that AGW likely increased the intensity or the frequency of extreme events. Pakistan is hit by extremely unfortunate events. This resulted in many calamities, among them human deaths.

    From these premises, I’m not sure we can agree to disagree on the plausibility that some people might already have died from AGW. Unless we go for some kind of “guns don’t kill people” defense, as emphasized earlier.

  228. Mal Adapted says:

    LOL. Catastrophe, crisis, calamity: ‘C’ words are hard to avoid in ClimateBall.

  229. russellseitz says:

    Among the 21st century priors on offer is a fivefold increase in the number of ski areas in Pakistan, and not just on its Karakorum borders: chalets now ring Nanga Parbat

  230. Ken Fabian says:

    Richard – “Not a problem. People just moved – just like they will today and in the centuries to come. No big deal. Not a catastrophe.”

    The obvious example is people living on low lying islands for whom it will be a very big deal. Are you offering to let them move into your nation/backyard? The principle response to refugees appears to be to prevent or limit their movements or entry into safe havens, keeping the refugee problem at a distance. You aren’t coming across as someone who is well informed and thinks things through.

  231. paulski0 says:

    Global thermonuclear war? Not a problem. People will die, but people have always died. No big deal. Not a catastrophe.

  232. Richard Arrett says:


    No – screw the people on the islands. I am only worried about people on the east and west coasts of the USA. Just kidding! The people on the islands can move also. They do it everyday. Even if they cannot – an individual will not die from SNL – it would take to long – at 1 foot per lifetime (assuming 100 years). When you run out of higher ground, then it is really time to move.

  233. Richard Arrett says:

    Sorry I meant SLR – not saturday night live.

  234. Richard Arrett says:

    paulskio: See – now you are getting it. We are all sentenced to death. Still – per my definition, if 10% of the world population where killed by war I would consider that a catastrophe.

  235. Rick,
    Come on, people on islands have a limited amount of space they can move to. We don’t exactly live in a time when countries are typically welcoming of people coming from elsewhere. I agree that people can move to avoid sea level rise, but this doesn’t mean they can do so without suffering and it doesn’t mean that we should be blaise about the impact. YMMV, of course.

  236. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” Still – per my definition, if 10% of the world population where killed by war I would consider that a catastrophe.”

    pretty dumb definition then. Even within wars there are catastrophes that don’t kill 10% of the world population, e.g. the Battle of the Somme.

    Still some find that this pedantry over definitions is a good alternative to setting out their values so that there can be productive discussion of the right course of (in) action needed to realise them. Bug or feature?

  237. dikranmarsupial says:

    “. 200 feet is a lot of SLR. Not a problem. Not a problem. People just moved – just like they will today and in the centuries to come. No big deal. Not a catastrophe.”

    what effect would 200 feet of sea level rise have on Bangladesh (where most of the country is less than 40 feet above sea level, especially the agriculturally productive areas)?

  238. Willard says:

    No problem there, Dikran. They will move to India. It is just 200M people by 2050, after all. But Jakarta will be fun to watch:

    They will have to coordinate better than at the recent soccer match, that is for sure.

  239. dikranmarsupial says:

    “No problem there, Dikran. They will move to India. ” ;o) [ but also 😦 ]

    I think they should all move to Europe and the US, who can then demonstrate what a “no problem” it really is!


  240. Bob Loblaw says:

    Governor DeSantis of Florida can just fly them to Martha’s Vineyard. Problem solved.

  241. BL,

    More like …

    Governor DeSantis of Florida can just bus them to Martha’s Vineyard.

  242. Apocalyptic either way. High emissions is bad in terms of climate. Low emissions caused by the dwindling of a finite resource (e.g. FF) is bad in terms of maintaining a suburban standard-of-living. Some say the latter is the existential crisis with the widest impact. Either way, a transition to alternative energy is a no-brainer.

    BTW, that specific argument from risk analysis is called a “No Regrets” strategy or policy, i.e. those actions related to a policy that are justified in their own right. This was introduced as USA policy by Sec of State James Baker in a 1991 budget request. Pollster Frank Luntz has recently invoked it as well.

  243. Richard Arrett says:


    Isn’t nuclear the no regrets alternative energy solution?

  244. russellseitz says:


    The London Review of Books came to the rescue of comparative language this week, with a piece on typhoons Covering Climate Now ought to note:

    “At Category 3, their damage on landfall is classed as ‘extensive’. At Category 4, it is ‘extreme’. At Category 5, like Odette, the scale throws its hands up – ‘catastrophic’.

  245. Willard says:

    > Isn’t nuclear the no regrets alternative energy solution?

    Nukes ain’t a strategy, Rick. It’s just one tactic among many.

    More importantly, it’s far from being no regrets. It’s capital intensive. It’s also regulation intensive, which may not appeal to libertarians, however bleeding is their heart. And it takes time, time we had when Jim asked for them in the 90s.

    There is also this critical point:

    [ZZs] struck the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region early on Monday but its reactors have not been damaged and are working normally, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said.

    The ZZs also kidnapped the deputy head of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant a few days ago.

  246. Mal Adapted says:


    “At Category 3, their damage on landfall is classed as ‘extensive’. At Category 4, it is ‘extreme’. At Category 5, like Odette, the scale throws its hands up – ‘catastrophic’.

    Kossin, et al. (cited in OP):

    Theory and numerical models consistently link increasing TC intensity to a warming world, but confidence in this link is compromised by difficulties in detecting significant intensity trends in observations. These difficulties are largely caused by known heterogeneities in the past instrumental records of TCs. Here we address and reduce these heterogeneities and identify significant global trends in TC intensity over the past four decades. The results should serve to increase confidence in projections of increased TC intensity under continued warming.

    Yep. AGW is shown to be causing more tropical cyclones to reach Category 5, thus it is catastrophic under standard meteorological nomenclature. Insisting otherwise is transparent denial. Give it up, Rick and Tom.

  247. jacksmith4tx says:

    Nuclear power has another weakness as demonstrated by the Ukraine war.
    Seldom mentioned when the topic turns to nuclear power is that each and every nuclear plant will require a small battalion of trained and heavily armed uniformed personnel to guard the whole facility 24/7/365. The hardest thing to guard against is human error followed by human maleficence. Some people just want to see the world burn – even eco-terrorist.

  248. Willard says:

    Eco-terrorists are the worst:

    Eco-warriors attack Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with Heinz soup – here are the other famous acts of art vandalism

    Please pay no attention to the fact that the painting was glass protected.

  249. Richard Arrett says:

    “Isn’t nuclear the no regrets alternative energy solution?”

    Nuclear doesn’t fly airplanes. A mix of solutions is what is likely best.

    Unfortunately people can’t handle more than one idea in their head at the same time. Consider the NBC News headlines that said they wondered why Republicans were dying more often than Democrats.

    “Covid deaths are unevenly distributed among Republicans and Democrats, but experts are still puzzling over why these differences exist.
    Covid death rates are higher among Republicans than Democrats, mounting evidence shows :
    Lower vaccination rates among Republicans could explain the partisan gap, but some researchers say mask use and social distancing were bigger factors.”

    Mask usage confusing things!

  250. TWF opines that there is nothing new or unusual about floods in Pakistan. He is correct. Flooding is common in Pakistan. The level of the current flooding is new and unusual. So, in the interest of accuracy and precision: I suggest that the level of the current flooding is new and unusual. I think it is foolish and/or dishonest to assert otherwise. “Flooding is not uncommon for Pakistan. The devastation from the 2020 and 2010 super floods also made global headlines. But this current crisis is simply unprecedented.”

  251. russellseitz says:

    Yes Mal, and I am extremely relieved that the hurricane that inundated the house I lived in til last summer was only a category IV

  252. Joshua says:

    RickA –

    Do you think we can raise the funding necessary for massive nuclear rollout with funding raised from theft taxation on a large scale?

  253. The other standard response to adopting nuclear on a wide scale is that you better be prepared to elect Dems to congress. Republicans are incapable of regulating the nuclear industry to provide for startup funding, maintenance, safety, environmental monitoring, insurance, and end-of-life clean-up and storage.

  254. Mal Adapted says:

    Russell: It’s not a catastrophe until your house is simultaneously burning and being washed away!

  255. Ken Fabian says:

    Interesting to ask why opponents of strong action on emissions like nuclear so much… but not enough to have strong climate policies based on it. I think that is more interesting and revealing of flawed thinking than why proponents of action mostly don’t – apart from when you hand off responsibility to others you don’t get to decide how they do it.

    But it is a distraction, more noise than substance. Solar and wind electricity generation is being built – with “firming” – at prodigious rates, exceeding all new fossil fuels and nuclear together, not because of climate “ideology” but because it is the cheapest, quickest and easiest. An Australian with solar on their roof has daytime access to the lowest cost electricity ever; we give it away, have it curtailed. If that isn’t opportunity what is?

    The 2010’s saw lithium ion battery costs halve 3 times over and I suspect doing that just one more time will take batteries, and renewable energy more widely, over the last biggest bumps. Battery R&D is running hot and the tools of science and engineering have never been better equipped to deliver results – and whilst clean energy is a factor in commercial investment in battery R&D the prize is technology that will make the developers rich beyond imagination. Market forces at work.

    And we are edging closer to perovskite solar, ie to peel and stick solar that is cheap as chip wrapping; the sort of thing that roof sheet or cladding makers will include just for a bit of a deal sweetener. Bulk electricity from offshore wind, including floating, continues to advance and grow too.

    It isn’t a whole of zero emissions solution – yet – but nuclear was never the quick and easy “just drop in nuclear in place of coal and gas” whole-of-problem solution it’s proponents have made out. It also looks very much like the necessary solutions to transport emissions with nuclear energy – batteries, hydrogen – are also the solutions to renewables intermittency.

    Listening to the deniers you would think climate “alarmists” have been choosing to do nothing because “renewables don’t work” and they won’t choose nuclear but I think we (scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs – not activists) have actually achieved remarkable progress, likely more than with an alt-history where nuclear had been strongly supported by green activists.

    I look at the situation here in Australia – the hot, dry climate (mostly, usually) – has been limitation more than opportunity. Now we are finding it is opportunity. So far as I am aware there are no new coal plants and only one new gas plant under construction in Australia, and that one’s essentialness is in doubt. But lots of solar and wind is being built, with quick turnaround, now more often than not with “firming” batteries and now with “grid forming inverters”. Plus there are significant standalone batteries as well as uptake by households, with solar/battery combinations. Less than one decade ago the predictions were for very little use usefulness or use of batteries; we already have more than 20x what was expected.

    There is one very large pumped hydro project, plus one large one, plus multiple others simmering along; that the storage side would not get significant attention until the growth of wind and solar makes it necessary seems kind of obvious – it never was a case of have to build the storage first. As little as one decade ago it wasn’t clear wind and solar would or could grow enough to justify significant investments in energy storage. We are being told storage won’t work the same as we were told wind and solar wouldn’t work – by people who don’t want it to work. If nuclear’s boom requires renewables to fail it is in big trouble.

    Renewable energy denial, like the efforts to re-frame the current conflict driven fossil fuel profiteering crisis as green energy crisis looks unlikely to work; only the deniers, credulous as they are, are believing it.

    There is a LOT to be optimistic about.

  256. Tom Fuller says:

    Mr. Fabian,


  257. Tom Fuller says:

    Here’s a blast from the past, including perhas the best critique of my own lukewarm position I have seen.

  258. Tom Fuller says:

    Sorry–for those lacking a subscription to the Gray Lady, here’s his criticisms of Luekwarmism. Sorry it’s so U.S.-centric.

    “But while inviting readers to ease their pain over Paris with the balm of lukewarmism, I also want to concede two problems with this approach. The first is that no less than alarmism, lukewarmism can be vulnerable to cherry-picking and selection bias, reaching for any piece of evidence — and when you’re dealing with long-term trends, there’s a lot of evidence to choose from — that supports its non-catastrophic assumptions, even if the bulk of the data starts to point the other way.


  259. Tom,
    I’m not entirely sure what the actual argument is, but it seems that those who are largely unconcerned, are either unconcerned because climate sensitivity won’t be high enough to be a problem, or we won’t emit enough for climate change to be a problem.

  260. RickA says:


    Or climate change might be a problem, but if nuclear is off the table to fix the problems of night and no wind, it must not be a very serious problem. After all – everybody knows 100% renewable isn’t a thing because we don’t have grid scale power storage. So if global warming is a serious problem then nuclear would be a serious solution. Since it is not – global warming must not be that serious. Or at least that is my take.

  261. Rick,

    but if nuclear is off the table to fix the problems of night and no wind, it must not be a very serious problem.

    You keep telling yourself this, if it makes you feel better.

    The alternative, of course, is for you to assess the seriousness yourself, make up your own mind, and take responsibility for the views you choose to hold, rather than justifying them on the basis of the views expressed by others. YMMV, of course.

  262. Well, ATTP, you may never know what the actual argument is if you or your associates keep deleting half of it.

  263. Tom,
    Well, that was mostly because I’m unfamiliar with the rules regarding posting large chunks of text taken from paywalled sites. If you want to make the argument yourself, rather than just copy it from somewhere else, that would be preferred.

  264. Willard says:

    Here’s a better argument anyway:

    I still think it ironic that you complain about people thinking climate sensitivity will be high, while arguing that it’s probably low. Do you at least get the rough equivalence?

    Also, one might argue that those who think it could be high are more consistent with basic risk management, than those who think it will be low. The big risk is with low-probability high-impact events, not low-probability low-impact events.

    Ut supra.

  265. David B Benson says:

    aTTP —- Duplicating copyrighted material is only allowable in reviews and then only the minimum necessary to make the point. That is US copyright law.

    The practice this has meant only quoting at most a paragraph.

  266. b fagan says:

    I favor keeping existing well-run nuclear plants going during decarbonization, but skeptical that nuclear will be more than a minor fraction of generation globally after 2050. (I am not an energy professional).

    But wind+solar just passed nuclear worldwide in power generated in 2021.
    I used BP Statistical Review 2022 spreadsheet from here:

    generation by source 2021 (in TW/h)
    2,800.3 – nuclear
    2,894.4 = (1,032.5 – solar plus 1,861.9 – wind)

    Nuclear net generation has been stagnant for well over a decade now. In that BP data, 2006 edged out 2021 as peak generation year. Here’s a comparison of nuclear’s biggest year to the solar/wind competition it had in 2006.

    generation by source 2006 (in TW/h)
    2,803.4 – nuclear
    139.3 = (5.8 – solar plus 133.5 – wind)

    The “next generation” AP1000 designs promoted in the late 2000s were cancelled at V.C. Sumter after $9 billion or so spent.
    Two new reactors for the Vogtle Plant in the state of Georgia were started in 2012, and the first of the two new units is just getting fueled this month ($30 billion so far on that deal if I remember right). The most recent delay was extensive rework of critical welds after safety review.

    There are plants in Europe equally behind schedule and over budget, and France’s aging fleet was a huge disappointment this year with a significant portion of them down for repairs/overdue maintenance, plus output cuts as drought made cooling water iffy. Germany might keep a few of their going due to Putin, and I think their earlier decision to shut them down early was a mistake, but that’s something that can happen in non-authoritarian nations sometimes.

    South Korea was gung-ho for a while, but scandals ensued in 2012 with managing plant shutdowns, and falsified certification of critical components (

    Big thermal plants are great for the original Generate -> transmission grid -> distribution grid model, but that’s getting upended by things like rooftop solar, and now car batteries that can optionally feed power back into the grid. Thin-film perovskite solar is getting closer to ready for prime-time, and when solar generation can be bought in rolls rather than silicon panels, that’s going to change things, too.

    We’ll see how it all turns out, but the areas of greatest new demand for electricity are Africa, India, the Middle East, and they’re already building new infrastructure with distributed generation since many of the areas have no centralized grid in place.

    That’s similar to how most developing nations jumped straight to cellphones and then smartphones – they were getting better and cheaper at the same time demand grew – and they made a lot more sense than building out a copper-wire phone network like we did a hundred years ago.

  267. Richard Arrett says:

    Interesting paper:

    Only 1/2 of the warming due to CO2.

  268. Slightly unusual use of the word “interesting”. It’s virtually certain that all of the observed warming is due to CO2.

  269. Willard says:

    I found this paper interesting:

    Analysis of climate change contrarians from multi-signatory documents reveals 3 per cent of signees to be climate experts, while the remaining 97 per cent do not meet expert criteria and are also involved with organizations and industries who make up the climate change countermovement. The data also reveal most contrarians to be aged sixty-five or older.

    Since back in the days women were even more underrepresented [in STEM] than today, it goes without saying that the vast majority of the old contrarians were male.

    My favorite line remains:

    In addition to contrarians’ generally advanced age, twenty-seven individuals on the list were deceased at the time of the documents’ alleged endorsement.

  270. Ben McMillan says:

    There are quite a few countries where the conservative side of politics has taken climate change semi-seriously, and actually funded pathways to clean energy. It has been quite interesting to see, e.g. in the UK, the quite rapid turn from nuclear-and-biomass-and-maybe-CCS to mostly offshore wind.
    The current UK PM’s quixotic attack on solar farms seem likely to be as ill-fated as the short-lived tax cuts.
    Australia is an amusing one, because the conservative government started building a big new pumped hydro plant partly as a way of highlighting the ‘what about windless nights’ concern.
    Now that in many places conservatives are actually putting money on the table for clean energy, we are starting to have a sensible discussion about the best options. ‘Just do nuclear’ looks less exciting when someone calls your bluff.
    As people have already said, there is now serious money and opportunity in clean tech and that makes a big difference to politics…

  271. b fagan says:

    Re: “Interesting paper:

    Interesting, in that in 2019, a paper shows up under the International Federation of Automatic Control, where two chemical engineers dabble in climate science and find a result that’s not the same as experts?

    I checked Google Scholar on one author, VI Manousiouthakis, and that’s a busy person. Publishing a lot of papers which mostly appear to be centered around producing syngas from coal gasification, and then perhaps getting hydrogen from the syngas. From coal.

    Could be why their “Conclusion” section states: “This model is expected to be applicable to carbon cycle impact assessment of carbon neutrality policies and technologies.”

  272. I agree with you, Ben… and others who have pointed out that low emission energy production is happening and building. My guess is that nuclear, as currently proposed and designed, simply trades out one toxic emission in favor of another toxic emission. And the toxic emission of nuclear energy, not unlike CO2, exists for a long time in our environment after production and is more toxic on a pound for pound basis. I have mulled the possibility that new small nuclear design might be safer than the old large designs, but I think it’s a waste of my time to think much about that. I don’t think I can wrap my head around all the implications of the small nuclear design, its lifetime and the time required for that construction to become inert after a unit has exhausted fuel.

    I keep hearing that it’s now or never on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, but I think that’s rhetorical nonsense. It’s always now to reduce our emissions. This will become more and more apparent as low emission technology expands and develops and as nations grapple with the impacts of the current level of our emissions in the atmosphere. Never is nonsense. One way or another, our emissions are going to decline. Oh, and speaking of nonsense… oh, boy! that paper that Rick A linked up! Utter nonsense.

    There is lots of good news. But the good news does not include a reanalysis of CO2 emissions that cuts their impact in half. I wish it were true, but it’s nonsense.

  273. russellseitz says:

    The American Thinker remains the leading journal of nonagenarian climate opinion. Watts’s latest reprint from its august pages comes from an emeritus Cornwall Alliance climatologist who graduated from MIT 20 years before Dick Linzen started teaching there.

  274. Ben McMillan says:

    For what it’s worth, even though it probably isn’t essential, I’d actually quite like to see lots of nuclear plant construction, I think the environmental risks are low relative to other ‘bad stuff humans do’. I just don’t see how that is going to happen especially in places like the UK where it would need huge state support.

  275. “especially in places like the UK where it would need huge state support”

    see also #comment-212307 for the USA version of this fact.

    The bottom-line is that conservatives can’t govern. At best they may toss it to the military and hope that bureaucracy is enough.

  276. Chubbs says:

    Moving to higher ground and nuclear don’t seem like a good match, but perhaps I’m missing something.

  277. Bob Loblaw says:

    Richard points to a paper by two chemists, and comments:

    Interesting paper:

    Only 1/2 of the warming due to CO2.

    “Interesting” comment.

    The “climate model” that they use is, in their own words, “A simple, energy balance based, model for the global temperature increase”. It uses radiative emissions from surface, atmosphere, and clouds as three terms. It has no time dependence – it can’t resolve any changes over time other the looking at equilibrium solutions with different inputs.. There are no equations allowing changes in surface, cloud or atmosphere components to influence the others. It’s basically a back-of-the-envelope calculation, with a lot of hand-waving on what input values to use. I’ve used more sophisticated “models” in introductory first-year climate courses.

    As near as I can tell, their “model” does not include any capability of incorporating feedbacks. At best, the appearance of “1/2 of the warming due to CO2” in their model is a simple confirmation that a good deal of the warming due to increased CO2 is the result of feedbacks.

    If anyone thinks this disproves conventional climate science, then I know of some swamp land in Florida they might be interested in buying.

  278. Steven Mosher says:

    another win for lukewarmers

  279. Richard Arrett says:


    That is not how I read it. I saw .64C from CO2 alone and the rest of the total 1.3C of warming coming from feedbacks. What I found interesting is that is only double and not triple, which I thought was the amount we were supposed to get from feedbacks.

    I recall a doubling of CO2 from 280 ppm to 560 ppm was supposed to be 1.2C from CO2 alone and like 2C or more from the feedbacks.

    Maybe I am reading the paper wrong.

  280. Richard Arrett says:

    Steven Mosher:

    I am sure the link is a joke – but I have to admit I am to dumb to get it.

  281. Bob Loblaw says:


    The “model” in that paper is more or less a waste of time. I wouldn’t use that paper to line a parrot cage.

  282. Ben McMillan says:

    I don’t think it is that difficult in-principle to defend a reactor against, say 1m of sea level rise in its lifetime, but given the history of underestimating, say, the possible size of tsunamis, maybe I’m too optimistic.

    At least in the UK, the ‘maximum credible’ sea level rise for infrastructure like power plants, which is in the design requirements for flood risk assessments, for is 1.9m by 2100, which seems reasonable to me.

    That amount of sea level rise would be awful for lots of other reasons (“catastrophic”, even).

  283. Richard Arrett says:


    Yeah – not a problem in the UK, which is on average 162 meters above sea level. Even Florida has five nuclear power plants and it is only on average 31 meters above sea level.

    Yes – a tsunamis caused problems in Japan. But if the backup battery system had been on the roof instead of where it was they would not have had a problem. I think that can be fixed.

    New plant designs using passive cooling don’t even need power for cooling.

  284. Willard says:

    Well, at least swamps can cool reactors faster.

    Perhaps we should design amphibious nukes.

    Here could be a prototype:

  285. Ben McMillan says:

    I’m a lot more worried about the effect of sea level rise on cities, which are very much more difficult to defend or move. Coastal flooding, due to weather and tides on top of local sea level rise, regularly causes mass casualties. And coastal ecosystems are going to get slammed, too; e.g. reefs don’t grow that fast.

    Russia will sell you a floating nuke, by the way. Could be the solution to, or the cause of, a lot of problems.

  286. Willard says:

    Nuclear seasteads. Add women crew with [special] vocalization and Mosh might be on board.

    In any event, if you build them, libertarians will come.

  287. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Arrett says: “Yeah – not a problem in the UK, which is on average 162 meters above sea level.

    So as long as it is O.K. on average, it isn’t a problem? What about the large parts of Norfolk etc that are no where near 126 meters above sea level?

  288. dikranmarsupial says:

    Sorry, missed the relation to the conversation. Sizewell is apparently only a few meters above sea level. If 1.9m by 2100 is the threshold, presumably that includes storm surges?

  289. Ben McMillan says:

    1.9m is just the (end of century) allowance for sea level rise in the flood risk assessment for “nationally important infrastructure”. For a compliant flood risk assessment, you also have to add the amounts for storm surge etc (which have their own allowances for climate change). In other words, you can’t just build something 1.9m above highest astronomical tide and claim it won’t flood.

    Looks to me like the civil service quietly being competent in the background and hoping their bosses don’t notice.

  290. Richard Arrett says:

    If UK wanted to build nuclear higher above sea level, they could. That doesn’t mean they won’t build close to sea level – just that higher ground does exist. Personally, I would site it higher and not rely on a sea wall or a platform 7 meters above sea level. But I don’t live in the UK, so I don’t get a vote.

    My point is that nuclear is safe, if sited properly and the new designs are very very safe (passive cooling and gravity feed control rods for emergency shutdown) – and it is baseload (not intermittent) and doesn’t produce very much CO2. I think we should triple or quadruple our nuclear power in the USA – but other countries have to make their own decisions.

  291. Willard says:

    Alright, Rick. You want to play But Nukes. Let’s do it. Solve this:

    As of October 2014, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has granted license renewals providing 20-year extensions to a total of 74 reactors. In early 2014, the NRC prepared to receive the first applications of license renewal beyond 60 years of reactor life as early as 2017, a process which by law requires public involvement. Licenses for 22 reactors are due to expire before the end of 2029 if no renewals are granted. Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts was the most recent nuclear power plant to be decommissioned, on June 1, 2019. Another five aging reactors were permanently closed in 2013 and 2014 before their licenses expired because of high maintenance and repair costs at a time when natural gas prices had fallen: San Onofre 2 and 3 in California, Crystal River 3 in Florida, Vermont Yankee in Vermont, and Kewaunee in Wisconsin. In April 2021, New York State permanently closed Indian Point in Buchanan, 30 miles from New York City.

    How much more are you willing to pay for gas?

  292. dikranmarsupial says:

    “My point is that nuclear is safe, if sited properly ” what was wrong with the site at Chernobyl? Or Three Mile Island?

  293. russellseitz says:

    “How much more are you willing to pay for gas?”

    Willard, it costs no more per gallon to fly around in a 75 year old Navion than a 21st century Pilatus.

    Both face the same cycle of FAA inspections to keep flying. The new model modular reactors offer lower life cycle KWH costs and scalar improvements in safety and maintenance costs. Next generation electric light aircraft are already cruising at 300kts.

  294. Willard says:


    I should have clarified that I was referring to natural gas.

    The whole entry is worth revisiting, e.g.:

    On October 19, 2016, TVA’s Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Generating Station became the first US reactor to enter commercial operation since 1996. In 2006 the Brookings Institution, a public policy organization, stated that new nuclear units had not been built in the United States because of soft demand for electricity, the potential cost overruns on nuclear reactors due to regulatory issues and resulting construction delays.

    There are other pages:

    In the United States, nuclear power faces competition from the low natural gas prices in North America. Former Exelon CEO John Rowe said in 2012 that new nuclear plants in the United States “don’t make any sense right now” and won’t be economic as long as the natural gas surplus persists.

    For some reason Shellenberger prefers to punch hippies instead, just as Rick stands behind glittering generalities. Which goes on to show that years of Climateball can save hours reading Wiki entries.

  295. Richard Arrett says:


    Of course nuclear is more expensive than natural gas (or coal). But I thought the goal was to reduce CO2 emissions to net zero? We know that boosting renewable to high actually emits more CO2 (see Germany).

    If global warming is so bad, then it is worth the higher cost of nuclear. If it is not – then just use fossil fuels.

    We could make nuclear cheaper by picking a standardized design, reducing the stupid and counterproductive NRC slowdowns and building 100’s of plants at the same time. If global warming is a priority, then building 400 new nuclear plants could be done and done within 5 years. Just pick the sites, call it an emergency, dismiss all the lawsuits and get it done. Maybe we could just shoehorn them in with the existing 100 plants and not even need new sites? Not sure if that would work – but it would be faster.

    Then we would have a system which is 70-80% nuclear and 20-30% renewable, it would actually work and we wouldn’t need so much backup for when it is dark and calm. Until then, all the electric cars are getting their charges from 60% fossil fuels – which kind of defeats the purpose of electric cars in the first place (hello California).

    I would also build 8 or 10 regional recycling nuclear plants and use them to process all the nuclear waste currently being stored onsite at our 100 plants (and all new waste) – the heat the waste produces is just being wasted now. Recycle it and you get more energy, the 1/2 life is lowered and the amount of waste remaining is smaller. Rinse and repeat.

    But this common sense system is being rejected in favor of a 100% renewable system which cannot work without grid level power storage – which we have not invented yet. Talk about dumb!

    Hopefully America will wake up and do the smart thing instead of just wishing we could stop using fossil fuels by building more and more wind and solar – which is causing more and more blackouts in the afternoon and when it is coldest and darkest – causing us to emit more CO2 by using our backup fossil fuel plants.

  296. Rick,

    We know that boosting renewable to high actually emits more CO2 (see Germany).

    More than what?

  297. Okay, but not more than if it was an entirely fossil-fuel based energy system. In general, boosting renewables doesn’t necessarily emit more CO2, but it might if it displaces another alternative energy source.

  298. Willard says:


    The competitor to nuclear in the US of A is natural gas. If you did not know that, I really do not know what to say. It means that you have been touting for a solution for more than a decade without knowing the very first thing about the problem.

    Nothing in your comment addresses that obvious point. Unless and until you increase the price of natural gas in the only country where you can vote, you will not get 3-4 times the capacity you wish for. Bashing Germany or tilting at windmills will not change that reality.

    It makes absolutely no sense to compare nukes with wind or solar. First, nukes cannot compete with levelized costs of wind and solar. Second, and you said it yourself, one is a baseload source while the others are not.

    The clock is ticking. If we start building your nuclear plan tomorrow, we will get nukulear energy by the end of 2032. When do you intend to start advocating for a threefold increase in natural gas prices?

  299. Richard Arrett says:

    Yes, renewables lower CO2 emissions compared to coal or natural gas. But if you take into account the energy used to mine, ship and manufacture the materials for wind and solar, plus the recycling of the waste after end of life – and especially of all the batteries created for electric vehicles and small scale storage for renewable power – I wonder how it would compare? I have not found a good study that compared renewable, over its entire life cycle + the amount of CO2 emitted when it is dark and calm and the backup power is emitting CO2 – to nuclear (which involves a thousand fold decrease in mining, shipping of fuel compared to coal, for example).

    Nuclear is already the best in CO2 emitted of all energy. Yes there is a waste problem. But there is plenty of waste from solar panels, wind blades and millions and millions of batteries. All of the nuclear waste can fit into one or two Olympic size swimming pools and can be recycled to produce more energy, lower the 1/2 life and end up with 90% less waste. Meanwhile we don’t know what to do with the renewable waste – which is many many many times more in volume than nuclear waste.

    A really good, fair analysis comparing nuclear to renewable to fossil fuel, taking into account all co2 emitted from mining to shipping the fuel and materials, to manufacturing, through the life of the plant, and also the waste and recycling, would be welcome. I suspect nuclear would look even better (except for fear of radiation).

  300. Richard Arrett says:


    I am not getting your comments about natural gas. Natural gas is not a competitor to nuclear. Natural gas is a fossil fuel. I thought we were trying to get to net zero. It would be impossible to get to net zero if we switched all coal to natural gas (although it would reduce co2 emissions it would not get to zero).

    Nuclear produces much less co2 emissions than natural gas.

    Renewable plus natural gas will not get you to zero co2 emissions. Do we agree on that?

    Why would I want to increase the cost of natural gas? I don’t get the logic. You will have to unpack it for me.

  301. Willard says:


    For once you get to deflect the exchange over nukes, and you are racehorsing to But Renewables:

    I suggest that your next comment addresses my point.

    Natural gas. How do you compete with it in your own country?

  302. Willard says:

    > I no not understand your point.

    Alright, Rick.

    Go read the two Wiki entries I just quoted,

    Only come back when you did.

  303. Richard Arrett says:

    Ok – read. You ask “Natural gas. How do you compete with it in your own country?”

    I am not advocating competing with natural gas. I freely admit that nuclear is more expensive than natural gas. I am saying that to get to net zero (which I thought was the goal) – we will have to pay more for energy than the current system (with 60% fossil fuel).

    I see a system in the future with no coal and no natural gas, used to produce electricity. Isn’t that mandatory to get to net zero?

    I see paying more for electricity by using nuclear in order to get to net zero.

    But trying to lower the cost of nuclear by building 400 plants at the same time and standardizing on the design and eliminating litigation. It will still cost more than natural gas, but produce much much less co2 emissions.

  304. russellseitz says:

    The CO2 fallout from protracted war in the Ukraine could include a literal steampunk revival as well as increased war zone oil and gas production

    ‘Gas’ made its Victorian debut as a flammable mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide made by reacting steam with red hot coal and stored in low pressure gasworks. That obnoxious and dangerous fuel was long ago displaced by CH4, but the foundations of urban gasworks still exist in many cities, and a German lignite mining revival might reflate some of the towering cylinders that dominated its urban skylines before WWII.

  305. Ben McMillan says:

    This is a useful source for looking at German energy mix.

    Always seems worth posting, because attacks on Germany’s energy transition tend to be about as well-informed as those on Al Gore or Greta.

  306. Willard says:


    As long as natural gas will be three times cheaper than nukes, you will not get nukes. Look at the levelized costs:

    Nuclear makes economic sense when fully depreciated. Before that depreciation kicks in, consumers will have to pay the price nuclear producers will ask. If they refuse, the producers will not come. Like it happened with Hitachi in the UK.

    So to get your plan of tripling nuclear production implies two things. First, the American consumers need to accept something like a threefold increase on their electricity bills (on average, including cost redirections through programs, etc). Second, they need to accept a floor price on energy. This floor price should be set for the duration of the nukes park life.

    This requires the political will to transform the United States into a real social democracy. It is all well and good to celebrate France’s power plants. It came with nationalization.

    If you are unwilling to tackle that problem, you are tilting at windmills. In my opinion, of course.

  307. Richard Arrett says:

    Of course I am tilting at windmills. Aren’t we all?

  308. Willard says:

    Ultimately we might all be, Rick, and if so there is no need to tilt at wind turbines to do so.

    As it now becomes obvious, Euros tried to accelerate their transition using cheap Eurasian gas. Then the Eurasians turned into ZZs. Here we are.

    Pierre Andurand argues that the worse is averted:

    Euros will need to return to their average room temperature of the 90s. How Pierre got his numbers is rather cool. He sifted through old medical journals.

    This should impact the price of liquid gas in the USA. Euros bought everything they could. For Asian countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka, it was uncool. The latter is facing more or less bankruptcy.

    I am saying this because inflation indeed increases energy prices. The only silver lining is that there may be no turning back on this, at least for a while. The bad news is that the actual shock is already felt. Pending a fission revolution, and even then, the price tag attached to nuclear parks in the USA will make that 10% feel like a grant.

    There won’t be any silver bullet.

  309. Ben McMillan says:

    For what it is worth, methane consumption in the EU is actually down over the last 10 years. Europe did not follow the lead of the US and massively increase consumption of methane (post-2000). Of course, they ran out of local methane, so imports rose a lot.

  310. b fagan says:

    Nuclear’s track record recently shows it isn’t being built in a timely manner, and the promised smaller ones are drawing-board plans, still needing crucial things like new alloys and the supply/manufacturing chain for the new fuel types.

    Picking one new SMR type makes sense in a blog comment, but we’re not China so the competitors wouldn’t just go away. Regarding re-burning fuel, only some new designs are capable of that, and I’m not sure NuScale’s model is one – yet they’re closest to having a real commercial unit (with current earliest date now 2031 in Idaho). So any large-scale production for nuclear plants is a way off in the US or Europe, and I doubt either will be requesting floating plants from Rosatom. Smaller plants didn’t pay off in the past, and smaller plants built around the idea of load-following means their prices will look more like gas peakers than like baseload.

    In 2006, globally, the combination of wind and solar produced 1/20th the power of nuclear. Fifteen years later, wind + solar produced more electricity than nuclear. The deployment rate of wind and of solar are accelerating and costs are dropping. So it’s reasonable to expect that by NuScale’s unit #0001 going live in 2031 (or ’32, or ’33, or…), nuclear will be producing a fraction of what wind and solar do. And we’ll see when new construction of new reactors outpaces retirements of the aging first generation.

    Meanwhile, our aging grid equipment is being replaced too, and the resulting upgrades support distributed generation and bidirectional flows from the distribution side – even next-day dispatch of wind is increasingly automated and reliable for bidding on power markets. Developing nations will be expanding their grids using newer systems so centralized generation won’t be as advantaged there.

    The utilities make money shipping power, so this is good for them – and in the US lots of them are moving away from owning thermal generation (with decommissioning costs). One of our bigger challenges now is enhancing transmission – like Europe would benefit from better bulk power shipment between regions.

    Grid changes are good for vehicle makers, too. Tesla’s already a licensed power company in Texas, and GM has announced an energy company, too.

    Ford’s electric F-150 can power a home for days with an optional charging component, handy as increasing wildfires and floods cut people off from the grid. Utilities like PSE&G and elsewhere are experimenting with virtual power plants to dispatch power from EVs connected to chargers. Battery systems have been tested successfully for black-start grid operations, and they also earn revenue by providing power-conditioning services faster and more accurately than the old spinning reserves thermal plants offer.

    Nuclear that exists is helpful (but mostly old as they found in France this summer with < 50% capacity factors). Mass-production of small new ones would provide an expensive form of power starting some time in the 2030s at best, where it would compete with all the storage and power-distribution technology being built every day before then. I'm not betting they win a big share – but we'll see.

  311. russellseitz says:

    “Ultimately we might all be, Rick, and if so there is no need to tilt at wind turbines to do so.”

    Score a ClimateBall for Quixote, Willard-

    An article in Joule a few years back reported that dynamic air heating from powering north America with a half-terawatt wind turbinegrid could raise the continental average temperature by .24C:

  312. Willard says:

    Thanks, Russell:

    David Keith always adds curious nuances to a debate. Here his work on wind power needs to be considered alongside other similarly interesting but ultimately minor factors.

    A significant proportion of the energy used to propel the globe’s 1.5 billion passenger and commercial vehicles and to keep the 100 thousand flights per day in the sky goes into pushing huge quantities of air out of the way. Add to this how cities and towns not only create heat islands but also move, channel and absorb energy from the wind. All of these will have some small impact on the climate at some particular scale. But let’s not get lost in the noise. Whilst scientists and academics rightly spend hours poring over every detail, the headline message remains unchanged. The climate change we are witnessing and looks set to continue arises primarily from burning fossil fuels – with deforestation and eating meat also important factors. So great to see David’s paper – but let’s keep it in perspective and not use it as yet another excuse for kicking real mitigation still further into the long grass.

    From your favorite, KevinA.

  313. Ben McMillan says:

    I guess, if you had nearby pairs of wind turbines spinning opposite directions, you could arrange for the downwind vortex pair to go away from the surface.

    Might be easier just to remove the corn underneath and replace it with something with higher albedo, and some kind of ecosystem value, though.

    I’m wondering if farmers in some places would actually prefer slightly warmer surface temperatures, especially in winter/spring. You could curtail output on summer nights when you still have enough stored solar.

  314. russellseitz says:

    I suspect David would kick the foie gras into the long grass if he could

  315. Ben McMillan says:

    Also, I know that this was just standard rhetorical jabbing (the point is to raise a concern, not to hear an answer), but the wind turbine industry is super-interested in controlling the wakes of their wind turbines for the purposes of making farms work better. So they are playing with tilt and yaw to steer the wakes vertically or away from other turbines. You can even change to individual blade angle of attack over the cycle to reduce the torque on the nacelle. So, apart from the obvious of reducing power when there is a stable boundary layer and you don’t want to mix it, or just improving ground clearance, there is a whole load of stuff that can be done to reduce undesired climate effects.
    Surprisingly, turns out that clockwise and counterclockwise gives different power output, and the original choice was because of the way people made wooden blades with hand tools.

  316. Pingback: 2022: A year in review | …and Then There's Physics

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