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The debate about climate change takes a new form. One familiar yet disturbing.

8 August 2014

Summary: The public debate about climate change has evolved, reverting to the standard form of American Politics. Fearmongering, relying on exaggerated and one-side evidence. No only does this chaff further confused the policy debate about this vital issue, it raises another question. We should worry why both Left and Right believe we are most easily influenced by appeals to fear. Perhaps they’re right. As AA tells us, recognition of a problem is the first step to solving it. Perhaps America’s greatest problem is this weakness of its citizens.

Civilization grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

— H L Mencken, In Defense of Women (1918)

The generic political pitch in 21stC America

The generic political pitch in 21stC America

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Contents

  1. The new climate change debate
  2. An example of these trends at work
  3. Conclusions
  4. For More Information
  5. A fear-mongering classic: Reefer Madness (1936)

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(1)  The new climate change debate

Quietly climate activists (supported by journalists) have shifted the public debate about climate change. Logically, as their previous tactics were failing to produce their desired political change. Polls in the US showed flat minority support (here, here, and here).  Worse, the Australian people voting to roll-back their government’s ambitious policies. So they have adopted more aggressive marketing techniques.

(a)  The IPCC has dropped from their script. Formerly described as the “gold standard” description of climate science research, the most reliable statement of consensus climate scientists’ thinking, has become “too conservative”. Some activists began saying this in 2011-2012. It was a widespread response to the release of AR5 in 2013. For examples see Inside Climate News, The Daily Climate, Yale’s Environment 360.

Now ignoring the IPCC has become standard practice by activists and journalists, as in the articles cited in the following sections. It’s an excellent example of an open source movement at work (see John Robb’s seminal book Brave New War).

(b)  Activists have replaced professional climate scientists as their spokesman, people willing to give confidence apocalyptic forecasts without qualifications — or strong support in the IPCC or climate science literature. Compare and contrast these articles:

  1. NASA Talk Explores How Global Warming May Be On Vacation“, NASA press release, 4 August 2014
  2. There’s something distinctly fishy about claims that global warming has stopped“, Geoffrey Lean, news article in The Telegraph, 7 August 2014 — Oddly, many of his facts are wrong.

(c)  Aggressive broadcasting of research that supports their message, erasing mention of its qualifications and limitations. Contrary research is ignored. Countering this, putting individual research in a larger context, is a primary function of the IPCC’s work — another reason activists increasingly ignore it. The current hysteria about methane releases provides a clear example (e.g., by Jason Box this week), as the latest IPCC report (AR5, WGI, 2.2.1.1.2) disagrees (for more current rebuttal, see NYT’s Andy Revkin).

More examples: “Deadly irukandji and box jellyfish invading Sydney Harbour because of climate change, scientists say“, Daily Telegraph, 8 August 2014. Scary, but much of this is contracted by other sources — such as the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services’ Jellyfish & Climate Change page. Others are in the comments: about tornadoes.

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(d)  All “extreme” weather (i.e., unusually on a 10 – 20 time scale) happening today becomes evidence of climate change — and by implication anthropogenic catastrophic climate change. Even when the climate science literature says otherwise (see the IPCC’s SREX; also research summaries here and here). Long severe droughts are commonplace in the geological record of the American Southwest and Australia, but journalists too often say otherwise. There are exceptions, such as the San Jose Mercury News coverage of California’s drought (“California drought: Past dry periods have lasted more than 200 years, scientists say“, 25 January 2014).

Taken to extreme this becomes “climate porn” — wild unsubstantiated lurid claims of imminent doom. For examples see Robert Marston Fanney (fantasy writer; bio here) writing at his blog RobertScribbler: Terrible Thunderstorms of Fire Over Canada as Arctic Territory Continues Record Burn (as usual, no sources cited providing any historical context for his claims).

(e)  Even reporting on non-climate change disasters includes mention of the inimical effects of climate change. As in “Will climate change worsen Ebola outbreaks?“, Washington Post, 5 August 2014. As support it cites a single 12-year old article in an obscure journal reporting on a single epidemic.

(f)  There is a clear consensus held by the overwhelming majority of climate scientists. It’s being expanded to matters on which there is a weak or no consensus. The standard expression, as stated in IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I (and supported by other surveys):

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”

Based largely on a controversial single study by Cook et al, having activists evaluating articles (with few controls), increasingly outlandish statements are made of the consensus of climate scientists about the future of the world. Again, often directly contradicting the IPCC’s careful assessments.

Fear Mongering

(2) An example of these trends at work

All of these tactics were applied in the campaign to arouse hysteria about the “super” “monster” El Nino coming in 2014-15. These predictions had only a weak basis in climate science, and were unsupported by the major climate science agencies. Yet they were widely and (with too-few exceptions) uncritically circulated by the much of the major news media.

  1. About the warnings of a monster super El Nino coming to you this year, 2 May 2014 — provides detailed information about these cycles and their effects.
  2. Learning about – and from – the super monster El Niño coming this year, 16 June 2014
  3. Looks like yet another false alarm. Probably no super monster El Niño coming this year, 25 June 2014

The latest forecasts should produce mea culpa apologies from these alarmists:

If an El Niño were to occur, it is increasingly unlikely to be a strong event. … This means the chance of El Nino developing in 2014 is approximately 50%, which remains significant at double the normal likelihood of an event …”
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, 29 July 2014)

Instead activists probably will ignore their latest false alarm and move to new and equally outlandish fear-mongering). Nor will their fans learn.

Say "no" to fearmongering

(3)  Conclusions

In desperation at their lack of impact on public policy after years of failed forecasts (some examples here), climate activists have turned to outright fear-mongering. This exaggeration of often (but not always) real concerns is sop for them — acid rain, we’re running out of room for landfills, Alar, world-wide famine (in 1975), overpopulation (even as fertility was starting its long collapse), urbanization replacing farmland creating famine, etc.

What should worry us is that the Right does the same. US foreign policy since WW2 has largely been driven by fear-mongering, exaggeration of foreign threats from the Soviet Union (until it collapsed) to the small tribes of the al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS. Ditto with America Going Bankrupt and the Collapse of the US Dollar.  See other examples here.

We should worry because expert political mechanics believe that US public opinion is most easily and effectively shaped through fear. Our recent history suggests that they are correct. Their beliefs provide a mirror in which we can see ourselves; it’s not a pretty picture. Perhaps we’re not the most gullible people on the planet, but we seem to be auditioning for the role.

Can a people so easily manipulated government themselves? We can do better. As with any problem, step one is recognition.

“Mr. President, if that’s what you want there is only one way to get it.  That is to make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the country.”

— Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s advice to Truman about starting the Cold War.  On 12 March 1947 Truman did so.  From Put yourself in Marshall’s place, James P. Warburg (1948); in 1941 Warburg helped develop our wartime propaganda programs.

Truth Will Make You Free

(4)  For More Information

(a)  For more about this subject see “Engagement vs communication vs PR vs propaganda“, by Judith Curry at her website.

(a)  Posts about climate change:

  1. The important things to know about global warming
  2. Posts about climate change
  3. Science & nature – studies & reports

(b)  Posts about the public debate on climate change:

  1. Programs to reshape the American mind, run by the left and right, 2 August 2010
  2. Climate science: the debate, the eventual solution, and the best cheap seats from which to watch the action., 19 August 2010
  3. What does the American public want done to fight climate change?, 2 February 2014
  4. A key to understanding the climate wars (about one of our big weaknesses), 15 March 2014

(c)  Posts about climate change as seen by the Right:

  1. About those headlines of the past century about global cooling…, 2 November 2009
  2. The facts about the 1970′s Global Cooling scare, 7 December 2009
  3. Start of another swing of the media narrative – to global cooling?, 11 September 2013
  4. Global Cooling returns to the news, another instructive lesson about America, 25 January 2014
  5. A look into the GOP mind: untethered from reality and drifting in the wind, 3 March 2014
  6. Is the Tea Party wrong about global warming? Yes! And no., 11 May 2014

(d)  Posts about climate change as seen by the Left:

  1. A note on the green religion, one of the growth industries in America, 17 March 2009
  2. More attempts to control the climate science debate using smears and swarming, 19 October 2009
  3. Quote of the day – hidden history for people who rely on the mainstream media for information, 12 February 2010
  4. The hidden history of the global warming crusade, 19 February 2010
  5. A real-time example of the birth and spread of climate propaganda, 9 March 2010
  6. Lies told under the influence of the Green religion to save the world, 30 July 2010
  7. Puncturing the false picture of a scientific consensus about the causes and effects of global warming, 20 September 2010
  8. A new video about global warming, a Leftists’ wet dream pretending to be humor, 1 October 2010
  9. More about the forecast for flooded cities in the late 21st century, 16 October 2010
  10. Looking into the past for guidance about warnings of future climate apocalypses, 17 October 2010
  11. Lessons the Left can learn from the Right when writing about climate change, 12 December 2012 — Propagandist Phil Plait
  12. Fierce words about those “wacky professional climate change deniers”, 20 January 2013 — More by propagandist Phil Plait
  13. We can see our true selves in the propaganda used against us, 14 May 2013 — Skillful inaccurate article in The Guardian
  14. A powerful story about global warming in Alaska that’s set Twitter aflame, 23 June 2013
  15. Climate lies are the tool of choice by both sides to influence your opinion. Why is that?, 11 July 2013
  16. The North Pole is now a lake! Are you afraid yet?, 3 August 2013
  17. Climate science deniers on the Left, captured for viewing, 29 September 2013
  18. Apocalyptic thinking on the Left about climate change risks burning their credibility, 4 February 2014
  19. Climate change sinks the Left, while scientists unravel mysteries we must solve, 24 January 2014
  20. The Left sees “Climate buffoons” and “deniers”. What do they see in the mirror?, 7 March 2014
  21. This is what defeat looks like for the Left, and perhaps also for environmentalists, 17 March 2014
  22. The Left stages a two minute hate on Nate Silver, Roger Pielke Jr (& me), 29 March 2014

(5)  A Fear-Mongering Classic from 1936

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34 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 August 2014 2:42 am

    Scary article by activist: “Into The Storm: Rising Risks Of Big Tornado Outbreaks ‘Suggest A Climate Change Signal’“. Joe Romm, ThinkProgress, 6 August 2014.

    It’s a collection of standard activist tropes. To mention just two…

    (1) Romm mentions one of activists favorite misleading statistics — rising property damage from stores. They imply from increased extreme weather, ignoring the growth in population and wealth that means damages inevitably increase.

    (2) He cites one research study, analysis of a new indicator that suggests increased tornado activity, but Romm forgets to mention that the standard metric shows no trend. F3 tornadoes are “severe” intensity; F4 are “devastating”, F5 are “incredible”. From NOAA’s Historical Records & Trends page:
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    NOAA: annual count of Tornadoes

    Like

  2. NikFromNYC permalink
    9 August 2014 9:57 am

    The elephant in the room is scientific fraud. Republicans/conservatives won’t directly confront and expose it so the “debate” lingers on as if it really was a debate. The proof that climate “science” is fully corrupt appeared in 2013 as the latest hockey stick sensation that actually contained no blade in any of the input data when it was plotted by skeptics:

    All this sociological analysis is silly when it’s just a case of simple scientific fraud and its investigation. Where is your own exposure of such fraud? The word doesn’t appear on the page.

    Like

    • 9 August 2014 12:13 pm

      Nik,

      Calling science “fraud” when the results don’t hold – which is not clear about Marcott — shows a severe misunderstanding about the process of science. Many studies fail to replicate, which does not imply fraud. Entire fields sometimes go down dead ends. Science is a social process, and works in the hit & miss fashion of all social process.

      To conclude that “climate science is fully corrupt” because of one paper is silly (“the proof”).

      I recommend you spend some time reading the “Retraction watch” website. It will help educate you about science in the real world, fallible but effective over time.

      Like

  3. Jacob permalink
    9 August 2014 11:59 am

    I don’t know why climate alarmists are complaining so much about a “communication failure”. All I can see is an enormous communication success, they totally dominate public opinion.
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    The theory of CAGW has been fully accepted and acted upon in the Western world. About 360 billion $ is being spent annually on “mitigation” (i.e. solar panels, windmills, biofuels, etc.). All Western Governments are spending tens of billions of $ annually on renewable subsidies and mandates. All coal use is being practically banned or phased out by the EPA in the US.

    The UN has adopted climate mitigation as official policy.

    Everything that can be done has been done. The setbacks of their demands in Canada and Australia are minor and not significant.

    So why do they keep complaining? How can one attribute such an enormous, incredible waste of resources to anything but an incredible propaganda success of warmist fear mongering?

    That emissions reduction has not been achieved is due to the fact that it is impossible with current available technology, not because there is a lack of conviction or will.

    Like

    • 9 August 2014 12:23 pm

      Jacob,

      Very few nations have implemented strong measures to slow carbon emissions, let alone reverse. The biggest nations have done the least.

      The reason is obvious: inadequate public support for the massive policy changes activists recommend.

      “That emissions reduction has not been achieved is due to the fact that it is impossible with current available technology, not because there is a lack of conviction or will.”

      Not even remotely true. Conversion from coal could be mandated for ten years; massive carbon taxes could be passed; massive mass transit systems could be built — to name just three. The cost would be horrific, and the economic impact might prove substantial (to put it mildly). But carbon emissions would drop.

      Especially if done in Asia. China gets aprox 2/3 of its electricity from coal. Asia burns roughly 2/3 of the world’s coal.

      It’s not a question of technology. It’s one of cost (broadly speaking).

      Like

  4. 9 August 2014 12:43 pm

    I expect it’s a bit subtle, to ask people who want to be kept out of the label politics of the far Left (is there really even a Left in America?) and the far Right, to distinguish between the fact that the Left and Right say something, and what is factual about what the Left or Right say.

    As mature grownups, we expect people to critically read claims and understand the context and intention of the claimants.

    When a technician tells you a reading has gone from 280 to 400, his context is he’s looking at the dial and it’s moved from one to the other.

    When some jackdaw who has never even looked at a dial in his life crows to you it hasn’t moved, you know there’s something else happening.

    Why would you put technicians and jackdaws on even footing?

    This, gentlemen, appears to be your purpose; to obscure and confuse with tactical misinformation on climate.

    Please see to that.

    Like

    • 9 August 2014 12:50 pm

      rb,

      I have no idea what you are attempting to say.

      “When a technician tells you a reading has gone from 280 to 400, his context is he’s looking at the dial and it’s moved from one to the other.”

      That analogy has almost no relevance to the reporting about climate change, or to the public policy debate about it. The vast majority of reporting about science is done by non-scientists. And the message is not even remotely like “looking at a dial”.

      If you look at the specific examples I gave, you will better grasp the point. “Please see to that.”

      Like

    • 9 August 2014 3:09 pm

      Badly out of context examples serve only to obscure, not clarify.

      Climate science denialism is almost exclusively an English-speaking phenomenon. There is little and shrinking traction for failure to appreciate the facts and inferences of AGW in most of the world, if your interests are Argumentum Ad Populam.

      1. “..the Australian people voting to roll-back their government’s ambitious policies?” This patently ignores the context of vitriolic politics and scandals unrelated to climate, the very bad implementation of a hidden and regressive tax constructed in such a way that it could not actually succeed at its stated mission, and the commitment of the party that rolled back that tax to bring in cap and trade in its place.

      In the real world, British Columbia has an effective and popular tax and the IMF is recommending carbon taxes for every major nation. If there is panic on some side causing them to ‘market’ in a new way, it’s an irrational panic not based on the broad sweep of the world’s popular position.

      Your premise is flawed, and built on cherry-picked details, not a whole view of actual conditions.

      (a) While the IPPC’s regular reports remain the gold standard of assembled climate science, as a book-and-paper exercise, we’re no longer living in an age restricted to hardbound. The same internet that lets you blog lets people keep updated far too rapidly to get stuck on old-fashioned encyclopedic paradigms. Of course they will read and use newer reports as they circulate. The IPCC could never be called a script, every AR from the first was greeted by in depth and critical analysis by the world of climate science, and in spite of this the rate of acceptance of AGW among scientists in the field has gone from 80% to 99% in the same timeframe.

      (b) If you contrast instead the actual talk, rather than the headline and press release, you’ll find your first example remarkably close to your second. Relying on Bishop Hill for factual rebuttal is an absurd practice.

      Andrew Montford lies when he asserts multiple sources for the invalid RSS-based claim of pause; the GISS-based claim of a clearly visible pause shows no less than seven pauses since 1960, the most steeply rising period in the history of global temperature; Montford gets his claims about global sea ice levels being above the long term average from a long term average pasted together from the most speculative and inaccurate of sources. Nothing that can be confirmed confirms Montford’s claims.

      No one claiming impartiality or using sound judgment would ever cite such a source.

      (c) Hey, sure, newspapers exist to make profit for their owners, and newspaper writers want to keep their jobs, so sensationalize and inflate their stories. This is not a left-right thing, a conspiracy, a climate thing, or a change.

      In short, you are being called on shenanigans. Look to that.

      Like

    • 9 August 2014 3:35 pm

      rb,

      I have no idea what you are attempting to say. It’s quite incoherent, and largely wrong.

      (1) “This patently ignores the context of vitriolic politics and scandals”

      The climate mitigation measures in Australia were unpopular, and are being rolled back. Fact, bottom line.

      (2) “While the IPPC’s regular reports remain the gold standard of assembled climate science, as a book-and-paper exercise, we’re no longer living in an age restricted to hardbound.”

      I’ve never seen a “hardbound” version of the IPCC’s reports. It’s not remotely a “book and paper exercise.”

      (3) “If you contrast instead the actual talk, rather than the headline and press release, you’ll find your first example remarkably close to your second.”

      Please provide a link to a video or transcript of the talk. This is important, as failure to do so will imply that you’re just making stuff up.

      (4) “Relying on Bishop Hill for factual rebuttal is an absurd practice.”

      Congratulations on your epistemic closure! That’s a nice example of how phenomena the Left attributes to the Right is also found on the Left (and vice versa), which was the primary point of this post. It makes people a treat for their leaders, ignorant and easily led.

      (5) “Andrew Montford lies when he asserts multiple sources for the invalid RSS-based claim of pause. … No one claiming impartiality or using sound judgment would ever cite such a source.”

      Montford has never been mentioned in a post on this website.

      As for the pause, I suggest you direct your insights to the UK Met Office, the IPCC, and the scores of climate scientists publishing peer-reviewed research about its causes and likely duration (you’ll find ample links in these posts). I recommend starting with this report by the UK Met Office (July 2013):

      (6) “newspapers exist to make profit for their owners, and newspaper writers want to keep their jobs, so sensationalize and inflate their stories. This is not a left-right thing, a conspiracy, a climate thing, or a change.”

      The news media are the primary way citizens are informed about the world. Hence the great attention paid to its weaknesses, and that large effort by major institutions to improve them. This is especially so with respect to reporting about climate change, hence the great attention by governments, NGOs, and climate scientists to improve reporting.

      You disinterest in this is odd, but no more so than your other points.

      Like

    • 9 August 2014 5:11 pm

      You seem to not want to understand. Did I not just make myself clear?

      1. Cherry picking doesn’t generate bottom lines, unless you’re Enron’s accountant.

      2. I’ve never seen a pigeon’s egg; doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The IPCC isn’t an outdated hardbound exercise, but your script metaphor is.

      3. This is important? I’d think if you had a problem with making stuff up, your posts would be far shorter, and link far less to people who make so much up. I am not your secretary.

      4. You may want to speak plain English more. A sensible person doesn’t abhor Andrew Montford’s lies because Montford is Left or Right, but because they’re lies. Projection much?

      5. Andrew Montford is the author of Bishop Hill. As for the pause, see your remarks on #4: I’m not subscribing to the mistakes of the Left (if indeed the IPCC is somehow the Left), or of the Right. Mathematically, there simply is no pause on the 30-year global mean temperature trend, and trends with shorter means do not compare climates, so are of no concern in a climate discussion.

      6. A citizen who reads a newspaper for information had best arm himself with the skill of critical reading. This is not special to topics in climate, but a uniform trait of the beast. If you believe headlines ought be honest, perhaps you ought become the change you seek in others.

      Good luck with that.

      Like

    • 9 August 2014 5:36 pm

      I didn’t know that Montford was author of a bishop Hill. That you sort statements based upon their author without regard to the factual basis is sad, but not treatable.

      The rest of your comment is gibberish, unresponsive to my comment. Just making stuff up. Troll alert! Conversation done.

      Like

  5. Jacob permalink
    9 August 2014 12:48 pm

    “Very few nations have implemented strong measures to slow carbon emissions, let alone reverse. The biggest nations have done the least.”

    Totally wrong.
    Tens of thousands of windmills have been erected, in the US, and EU. Probably about 150 thousand.
    Millions of solar panels have been installed. Probably more than 3 million installations, each consisting of dozens or hundreds of individual panels.
    Billions of gallons of biofuels are being produced and used each year.
    Coal is being phased out by EPA decree in the US.
    Hundreds of Billion $ are being spent per year.
    These are not “strong’ measures?
    Of course, for green zealots nothing is strong enough.

    All that can be done has been done, at least in the “developed” nations. You can’t force China and India to keep the poor poor, it can’t be done. You need another Mao-tse-tung or Nehru to achieve that (perpetual poverty), it can’t be done today. But in the developed world – the alarmist agenda has been implemented fully.

    “Conversion from coal could be mandated for ten years” – conversion to what? Solar and wind are not capable of supplying the energy needed.
    “massive carbon taxes could be passed” – yes, but carbon taxes don’t reduce emissions, that they do is a green fantasy.
    You want to impose energy poverty – i.e. that people live in cold homes with electricity available a couple of hours per day? Good luck with convincing people to accept that. And even that would leave you well short of the emission reduction goals (like 80% reduction) deemed necessary.

    Anyway: the 360 billion $ spent annually on mitigation efforts in the world, is a tremendous success for alarmist fear mongering propaganda.

    Like

    • 9 August 2014 5:09 pm

      “the 360 billion $ spent annually on mitigation efforts in the world, is a tremendous success for alarmist fear mongering propaganda.”

      Which accounts for about **0.5%** of the world’s GDP. Ok

      Like

    • 9 August 2014 5:56 pm

      Jacob,

      +1 comment. One of the great themes of the FM website is that we too seldom put events in context, historical or scale, and so draw wrong conclusions. So comments like yours are IMO very helpful.
      O
      Also, that $360 billion number is often misunderstood. It is from the Climate Policy Initiative. It’s NOT how much is spent “to slow carbon emissions”, but global climate finance flows. Mostly “renewable energy generation projects and energy efficiency.” That has benefits far beyond carbon reduction.

      * Increasing energy efficiency is often an extremely cost-effective tool in emerging nations, who desperately need more power.
      * shifting to renewable energy sources is often a priority in emerging nations — both on cost savings (often powerful up to 3-5% of grid electricity! & off-grid) AND to reduce pollution.

      Anyone visiting cities in a China understands the importance of shifting them away from coal. They’re using almost every available source of energy, as fast as they can.

      Like

    • 9 August 2014 5:58 pm

      Here’s the link to the Climate Policy Initiative report about the $360 billion:

      http://climatepolicyinitiative.org/publication/global-landscape-of-climate-finance-2012/

      Also, there might be other sources for that number — differently defined.

      Like

  6. Sundance permalink
    9 August 2014 4:17 pm

    There is no desire to communicate for a small radical element of activists so any advice you provide will fall on deaf ears in that respect. An example is the new “The Earth Isn’t Warming It’s Dying” campaign which indicates that warming doesn’t even matter to them anymore, that this is an anti-human movement taking the lead and the objective is to market/portray humans as the evil virus that Suzuki described in his youth based on claims of a few that we are headed for the next great extinction.

    Like

    • 9 August 2014 5:59 pm

      Sundance,

      As one who has tried hundreds of times, I can personally attest to the. Truth of your statement.

      The public debate is IMO about the majority with either no opinion, or opinions subject to change. Polls suggest that’s a big number.

      Like

  7. 9 August 2014 7:57 pm

    Tragedy & Hope 101
    ‘Climate’ in New Speak is nothing more than a smokescreen for the real issue, which is Money.
    Best book I found on this subject is referred to at Clean Energy Pundit.

    Its relevance to Energy is signalled in my first comment.

    Like

  8. Jacob permalink
    10 August 2014 7:25 am

    “Anyone visiting cities in a China understands the importance of shifting them away from coal.”

    I didn’t say it wouldn’t be nice to shift away from coal. I only said it’s impossible as we have no other, clean, sources of energy available. The claim of activists that it is possible to shift away from coal to solar panels and windmills should meet your skepticism. It’s a fanatsy, it’s impossible. It’s like believing in “Easter Bunnies and Tooth Fairies” – as correctly stated by Dr. James Hansen.

    China is shifting to coal gasification. That would produce gas from coal in plants situated near coal mines in remote regions, producing more pollution and enhanced co2 emissions, but far away from the big cities. This gas will be brought to the cities by pipe, and burned there in power plants. Burning the gas is cleaner, and will reduce very much the pollution in the cities.
    Pollution can also be reduced (and needs to be reduced) by scrubbers and other technological means.Pollution can be reduced, co2 emissions cannot, because we don’t have a suitable technology available. Don’t mix up between them…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/world/asia/greenpeace-says-chinas-energy-plans-exacerbate-climate-change.html?_r=0

    About the inefficiency and energy use of solar panels see, for example:

    and:

    http://www.energias-renovables.com/articulo/pedro-prieto-vice-chairman-and-cofounder-of

    Like

  9. 10 August 2014 1:23 pm

    “Conversion from coal could be mandated for ten years;”

    This is totally un-realistic, impossible, undoable, fantasy.
    All forecasters (EIA, IEA, BP) predict that coal will still produce 40% of electricity in 2035 (the last year that they have predictions for).

    You seem to accept this piece of nonsense from green ideologues without any skepticism or fact-checking.

    Like

    • 10 August 2014 2:07 pm

      Jacobites,

      Reading FAIL. I did not say it would be done, so your comparison with forecasts is silly. I did not even say it should be done (hence my comment about the insane expense).

      It certainly could be done. The US built a military-industrial machine in six years (1939-1945). In two years the Soviet Union disassembled much of its industrial plant, moved it over the Ural Mountains, and reassembled it.

      Nations are capable of extraordinary feats. The limitations are to a large extent cost and desirability. Reducing poverty and pollution, producing national security and world peace, providing a small government and a free people — each of these is possible. But they are conflicting goals; all are not possible in full. Choose what you hope for.

      Like

  10. 10 August 2014 3:45 pm

    “It certainly could be done”

    You have embraced the mystic faith, divorced from reality, of the lefty intellectuals, who believe that the State is God, and can do anything it wishes, being omnipotent. You only have to order those dumb engineers what needs to be done (eg. invent the A bomb) and they do it, if only you give them enough money.

    This approach is totally divorced from reality. The laws of physics are what they are. What can’t be done – can’t, no matter how much money and coercion you throw at it. You cannot claim “it certainly could be done” – you don’t know this, I don’t know this. Nobody knows this. You speak like a mystic.

    “The limitations are to a large extent cost and desirability” – false.

    The fact is – we don’t posses technology to produce co2 free energy (except nuclear, which has other issues). Maybe some such technology can be invented over time – maybe not. Nobody knows that which doesn’t exist. Nobody knows if, and when, carbon free energy will be developed. Research should be encouraged, sure. As if it isn’t… everybody and his cousin is working on new energy sources. Climate scaremongering doesn’t help. When will they be available? Impossible to know.

    Meanwhile 360 billion $ is spent annually on things that don’t work, can’t work, and don’t reduce emissions, and haven’t reduced emissions. Just because “something must be done, urgently, right now!”. This is a result of hysteria and scare mongering. A total waste of resources.

    Like

  11. 10 August 2014 3:51 pm

    “Nations are capable of extraordinary feats.”

    Mostly feats of destruction. Yes, that’s what they are capable of. See the 20th century…Two WWs, Hundreds of millions murdered, Extraordinary indeed…

    The outstanding technological achievements were achieved by individuals, not “Nations”…

    Like

    • 10 August 2014 6:18 pm

      jacobress,

      That is one of the silliest comments I’ve seen in quite a while, and totally irrelevant to what I said. Our Troll alarm has gone off. I’m done with this conversation.

      Like

  12. 11 August 2014 4:28 am

    Update

    The folks at Junkscience gave a quote from HL Menken, which I’ve added to the top of this post.

    Like

  13. 11 August 2014 12:21 pm

    Reblogged this on Centinel2012 and commented:
    Good points here!

    Like

  14. It is I only permalink
    18 August 2014 10:14 am

    Maryland Summer Nights Second Coldest On Record This Year
    Arctic Sea Ice Area Highest Since 2004
    August 15 Global Sea Ice Area Highest Since 1996
    US Having The Coolest Summer On Record

    All of the above is due to, all the Ocean warm water sunk to the bottom & pushed up ice creating cold water to the surface!
    New physics from a “respected” scientist, Nobel Prize winner. Saint Al of the Gore.

    Like

    • 2 September 2014 8:21 am

      $360 billion is nothing compared to the $1.9 trillion in subsides the world spends on fossil fuels http://www.imf.org/external/np/pp/eng/2013/012813.pdf.
      All of you who are skeptical or in denial of human-caused climate change are either woefully misinformed of overwhelming evidence or are willfully allow your libertarian ideology to cloud your reason. You come across as anti-science, and frankly quite irrational. I have been reading Fabius Maximus for a while now and I agree with its assessments of the oligarchic state of political economy but I am quite disappointed with the prevalence of climate change skepticism I have recently found here. The same corporate and financial elites your site has quite rightly described as destroying the American Republic are largely multinational oil corporations, financial corporations with massive investments in petro-energy. I’m amazed this fact is not obvious to you.

      Using the term “climate alarmists” betrays breathtaking ignorance. Overwhelming evidence shows there is very good reason to be alarmed at the state of the global climate. The rate of change has accelerated markedly. There are very real feedbacks in the climate system – one of the simplest to understand is albedo – open water absorbs approx. 80% of solar energy while glacial ice reflects approx. 80% of solar energy.

      Arctic sea ice is declining rapidly. The rate of decline has gone parabolic. The same goes for the Greenland ice cap which has accelerated its rate of melt by a factor of 2 since just 2009. As for all your sneering at the explanation of warmer ocean water to explain the ‘global warming hiatus’, I cannot understand what you find implausible about this? The oceans absorb 93% of the solar energy that reaches the earth’s surface and ocean heat content has more than doubled since 2000. This rate of change has not only been unabated since 1998, but continues to accelerate each year.

      If anyone doubts these figures I’m happy to provide links to substantiate all these claims and more.

      Like

    • 2 September 2014 12:25 pm

      Thothinexile,

      I have no idea what this rant is about. I cite the IPCC, major climate agencies, and peer-reviewed literature. Direct links.

      Your rant cites nothing, either in my post or as sources. So rant away, while science moves on.

      Like

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