The irresistible foe preventing action to fight climate change

Summary: Conservatives take a premature victory lap for their victory over the climate change crusade. The weather has been their irresistible ally. It will change sides, eventually.

Climate Change Has Run Its Course

By Steven F. Hayward (Institute of Governmental Studies at Berkeley).
Op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, 5 June 2018.

“Its descent into social-justice identity politics is the last gasp of a cause that has lost its vitality.”

“Climate change is over. No, I’m not saying the climate will not change in the future, or that human influence on the climate is negligible. I mean simply that climate change is no longer a pre-eminent policy issue. All that remains is boilerplate rhetoric from the political class, frivolous nuisance lawsuits, and bureaucratic mandates on behalf of special-interest renewable-energy rent seekers. …

“Climate alarm is like a car alarm – a blaring noise people are tuning out. This outcome was predictable. Political scientist Anthony Downs described the downward trajectory of many political movements in an article for the Public Interest, “Up and Down With Ecology: The ‘Issue-Attention Cycle,’ ” published in 1972, long before the climate-change campaign began. Observing the movements that had arisen to address issues like crime, poverty and even the U.S.-Soviet space race, Mr. Downs discerned a five-stage cycle through which political issues pass regularly. …”

Down’s five stages are experts’ warnings, activists’ excitement, the public’s learning the costs & benefits, the public’s loss of enthusiasm, and then limbo (the issue becomes background noise with occasional bursts of interest).

Downs’ analysis of environmental issues is a mess, concluding that his model does apply. This has proven to be a false prediction. Now, 46 years later, environmental issues still rank high in the public’s priorities. For example, a recent Pew poll finds that 62% of the public consider it to be the top issue for Trump and Congress – the 7th highest issue (46% say climate change is the top issue, 18 on the list).

Hayward makes many good points, but overlooks two key factors that power public policy campaigns. First, Downs points to the fraction of the population affected as a key factor. The larger, the deeper the hold of the issue in the public’s consciousness. Issues such as feminism and pollution remain salient over generations because they affect so many of us.

The second is equally important, but ignored by Downs: how activists conduct their campaign. Some go for flash and fast impact, such as Black Lives Matters, Occupy Wall Street, and the Tea Party Movement. These tend to burn brightly and briefly.

Better led movements gather resources, build broad bases, and occupy the high points of society. Slow but powerful. Environmentalists and feminists have done this, becoming textbook quality case examples of effective political movements. Both are entrenched in government agencies, university faculties and administrations, corporations, and the media. Both movements have had ebb and flood tides, but steadily advanced over time. Their institutional strength allows them to outlast periods of public disinterest and then swiftly, even brutally, exploit opportunities.

Radical feminists were considered old news many times – such as after the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment and their backing of Bill Clinton over his victims (and refusal to respond when Bill’s DNA proved that one told the truth). Their attempts failed to start moral panics over the America’s “rape culture” and the “campus rape crisis.” But they succeeded with the #MeToo campaign. We cannot yet see the end of this wildfire.

Each round of successes makes lasting changes in American society. It is a ratchet.

775 degree warming

About the failure of the climate change movement

Advocates for massive action to fight climate change occupy most of the high ground in US society. Their advocacy teams are well-funded and professional. But three decades of work has produced few results.

Polls show a slow increases since 1988 in the public’s concern about climate change. It is a partisan issue — strong among Democrats, significant among Independents, and weak among Republicans. Majorities are concerned in all age groups, but most strongly among the young (70% of those 18-34). But most people consider it a low public policy priority and have little interest in paying to fight climate change (details here).

The movement’s leaders made poor tactical choices, but their worst foe has been the weather. A political campaign needs fuel. Something vivid, like Jenkin’s Ear or a bloody shirt to wave at the crowds. A series of extremely destructive weather events might start a political wildfire – when amplified by climate advocates in key institutions. As we have seen in the past, the weather needs little relationship to CO2 or global warming. Advocates will just claim that it does, and climate scientists will give assent by their silence. They remember what happened to Professor Roger Pielke Jr. after he cited the peer-reviewed literature and IPCC’s work against the climate crusaders (see the amazing story here; he now does sports science).

The late 1990s looked promising for them, with steeply increasing temperatures. Then came the “pause” or “hiatus”, 15 years in which global temperatures increased only microscopically per year. The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season looked promising, with predictions that more and bigger hurricanes were coming. Instead we got a 12 year-long “drought” of big landfalls. Floods, droughts, tornadoes – random chance should have produced some exciting confluence of destructive weather that they could exploit. But it has not (yet).

It was climate skeptics vs. the massed power of America’s major institutions (the GOP ignored them until late in the game). This was a match like David vs. Goliath. But this time lightning struck Goliath’s sword. Now skeptics are doing fist bumps, tempting fate by attributing their good luck to skill. In WWII, the Japanese called it the “victory disease” – premature celebration of victory while one’s foe remains powerful and determined.

To be clear about this – There was opposition to the climate advocates by apolitical scientists, such as Roger Pielke Sr., Roger Pielke Jr., and Judith Curry. There were people publicizing work that contradicted advocates’ claims, such as meteorologist Anthony Watts. And many others working against the climate crusade in many ways. But their effort probably would have been in vain if the weather had given advocates some support.

Victory Is The Goal

The war is not over

Skeptics’ euphoria is not just undeserved. It is premature. The institutional support for the climate change movement has not been damaged. Public support continues to slowly rise (with the usual fluctuations from year to year).

Modern Americans are easily panicked, like sheep. A spell of destructive weather (most effective if in the US, but not necessarily so) might create a call for climate policy action that politicians would find irresistible. The odds are good that the weather eventually will give them dramatic action before their support fades.

It is almost impossible to roll back policy changes in matters supported by the public. The climate advocates need to win only once.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see this about the keys to understanding climate change and especially these posts …

  1. My proposal: Climate scientists can restart the climate change debate – & win.
  2. Important: Why skeptics will lose the US climate policy debate.
  3. There will be little public policy action by the US to fight climate change – until the weather decides the debate.
  4. We can end the climate policy wars: demand a test of the models.
  5. Imagine the horrific fate of the losers after the climate policy debate ends.
  6. Ignoring science to convince the public that we’re doomed by climate change.
  7. Focusing on worst case climate futures doesn’t work. It shouldn’t work.
  8. Manichean paranoia has poisoned the climate debate.
  9. Paul Krugman shows why the climate campaign failed.
  10. A new paper shows why the climate policy debate is broken.

50 thoughts on “The irresistible foe preventing action to fight climate change

  1. “The irresistible foe preventing action to fight climate change” is the refusal of most of the world, those doing two thirds of the emitting, those growing their emissions, to do anything to lower their emissions.

    Trump had an irresistible argument for dropping out of Paris, and it had nothing to do with the weather. The argument was that no-one else was signing up to any reductions, they were in fact planning to increase them, so why should the US commit to lowering their own. When the US emissions are under 15% of world emissions.

    Everyone pays lip service to the predictions of climate catastrophe, but no-one walks the talk. No-one advocates the measures which the catastrophe theorists claims to believe are necessary.

    In the end, the thing that has defeated the climate activists in the US, and will continue to, is that they have no case, and have not persuaded anyone whose decision matters to lower emissions.

    The claimed scientific consensus is garbage of course, there is no 97% consensus and the papers purporting to show there is are garbage. But even were it valid, it is confined to America, and for the campaign to succeed it has to be accepted globally. No chance.

    1. George,

      (1) “Trump had an irresistible argument for dropping out of Paris, and it had nothing to do with the weather.”

      Two of them. The Senate did not approve it (no other democracy signed it with only the chief executive’s approval). And it would have little or no effect on other nations – other than virtue signalling.

      (2) “The claimed scientific consensus is garbage of course, there is no 97% consensus”

      False. As many studies have shown, there is a “97%” consensus that the headline statement of the IPCC’s AR4 and AR5 are correct. As in AR5: “We conclude, consistent with Hegerl et al. (2007b) {i.e., chapter 9 of AR4}, that more than half of the observed increase in GMST {global mean surface temperature} from 1951 to 2010 is …due to the observed anthropogenic increase in GHG {greenhouse gas} concentrations.” The percent agreeing drops to about half when including the IPCC’s confidence level: “very likely.”

      Pointing this out got me my 15 minutes of fame, as I was widely denouced. Including an especially mendacious article by Politifact.

      Activists often mis-state this consensus, saying that 97% of scientists agree with all sorts of statements they dream up.

  2. I also think the headline of this piece is quite wrong. There is in reality no such thing as ‘fighting climate change’. There is no reason to think that lowering CO2 emissions would make any material difference to the climate. And no-one is anyway advocating any measures which, globally speaking, would lower emissions enough to affect climate, even were CO2 emissions causing dangerous warming, globally.

    This is, if its a problem at all, a global problem. Whatever the US activists succeed in doing in the US is immaterial to it. Its out of our hands.

    1. George,

      “There is no reason to think that lowering CO2 emissions would make any material difference to the climate.”

      Since pretty much every climate scientist on the planet disagrees with you, and you have a history of false statements credulously picked up from far right sources, let’s just nod and move on.

  3. FYI: “Officials about to attend the G7 meeting in Toronto expect to get an earful from environmentalists. What they don’t expect is to get blasted by 288 major institutional investors — including Allianz Global Investors, Aviva Investors, DWS, HSBC Global Asset Management, Nomura Asset Management, Australian Super, HESTA, and some several U.S. pension funds including CalPERS — which are calling on leaders of the US, Canada, France, the UK, Japan, Germany, and Italy to eliminate coal-fired generating stations within their borders and ramp up actions designed to cut carbon emissions more aggressively.” https://cleantechnica.com/2018/06/05/ahead-of-g7-meeting-investors-urge-an-end-to-coal-fossil-fuel-subsidies/

    1. And what do they want to do about China, India, Indonesia…. the guys who are doing the other 75% of the emissions?

      You are making my point. When they start demanding China reduce from 10.5 billion to 2 billion tons a year, then we can start believing they are serious.

      Till then its all feel-goodery and virtue signalling, and that is all it is. Its certainly not fighting climate change, whatever that is supposed to mean.

    2. Thomas,

      Yep. Lots of liberals yapping. As they have for 3 decades. It’s not going to happen without a stronger base of public support.

    3. Larry and GF: Short of a sufficiently compelling acutely destructive weather event–that the mass public becomes convinced is due to human-caused climate change–what could generate Larry’s required “stronger base of public support?”

      Well, a revenue-neutral carbon tax AND dividend program might do the trick, especially if our wannabe political “leaders”–both lib and con–can reach consensus on this.

    4. Thomas,

      Carbon tax proposals have been out there for 3 decades, getting elite support whenever the govt needs more money. The public’s support for them is nil.

      Time will tell which of us is correct.

    5. Of course carbon tax proposals are not new. But what may be different this time is the addition of dividends, as well as the emerging evidence of bipartisan support. If this is not “new” to you, please enlighten me as to when this possibly “perfect storm” has occurred before.

      For example, is there an historical parallel with interest in a universal guaranteed basic income, based on citizenship, rather than some combo of work, welfare, and/or charity? I think the last time interest in U/GBI was as high as it is now was in the late 60s and early 70s.

  4. FYI: Mar 6, 2018 – “A new conservative voice came forward last week calling for a price on carbon: Students for Carbon Dividends. Citizens’ Climate Lobby Are You Ready to Solve Climate Change? Join Citizens’ Climate Lobby! Students for Carbon Dividends (#S4CD) is a student-led movement dedicated to catapulting a free market climate solution—specifically the Baker-Shultz Carbon tax and dividend plan.” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4F0MakXxLqfuP0OKRK3WvQ

    “Young Republicans push for GOP action on climate change.” Mar 1, 2018 – “The group, called Students for Carbon Dividends, also includes Democratic students and environmental groups from ivy leagues like Harvard. A Carbon Tax and Dividends for All.” https://www.nytimes.com/…/college-republicans-carbon…

    1. And you see, they want to have a US carbon tax. What difference will that make to global emissions?

      None.

    2. Whatever you say, GF. After all, who am I to question your perceived omniscience? ;) But it seems others may not have access to the same crystal ball :) For example:

      Surge of Carbon Pricing Proposals Coming in the New Year – MIT …https://www.technologyreview.com/…/surge-of-carbon-pricing-proposals-coming-in-t…Dec 4, 2017 – Exiting Paris, Trump Cedes Global Leadership on Climate Change … Mike Barrett, a state senator, introduced a carbon pricing proposal in the …

      Exxon, BP and Shell back carbon tax proposal to curb emissions. Jun 20, 2017 – Under the proposal, a $40 carbon tax, rising over time, would be levied. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/…/exxon-bp-shell-oil-climate-chan…

      Pricing Carbon – World Bank Group http://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/pricing-carbon
      January 17, 2017 — Heads of state and business leaders have challenged the world to double the coverage of emissions subject to carbon pricing by 2020, and …

      [PDF]Putting a Price on Carbon with a Tax – World Bank Group. A carbon tax is a form of explicit carbon pricing; it refers to a tax directly linked to the level of carbon … Since a carbon tax puts a price on each tonne of GHG emitted, it sends a price signal that gradually cause a market response …. proposed to.https://www.worldbank.org/content/…/Worldbank/…/background-note_carbon-tax.pd…

      4 trillion carbon tax is needed to save humanity from global warming …May 30, 2017 – A global carbon tax that would raise trillions of dollars if applied across the … stressed the urgency of implementing their recommendations.
      https://www.independent.co.uk/…/climate-change-carbon-tax-4-trillion-save-humanity…

      Carbon tax – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_tax A carbon tax is a tax levied on the carbon content of fuels. It is a form of carbon pricing. …. Worldwide, 27 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide are produced by human activity annually. … David Gordon Wilson first proposed a carbon tax in 1973. ‎Background · ‎Social cost of carbon · ‎Carbon leakage · ‎Other types of taxes

      The Many Benefits of a Carbon Tax – Brookings Institution https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-many-benefits-of-a-carbon-tax/ Adele Morris proposes a carbon tax as a new source of revenue that could also … In this policy proposal — part of The Hamilton Project’s 15 Ways to Rethink the … is a contribution to stemming the global buildup of GHGs and improving the …

      Republican Carbon Tax Proposal: Novel Climate Solution or …https://insideclimatenews.org/…/carbon-tax-epa-clean-power-plan-climate-change-don…Feb 9, 2017 – Republican Carbon Tax Proposal: Novel Climate Solution or … meet the United States’ pledges under the Paris Agreement on global warming.

      A new strategic plan for a carbon tax – ScienceDirect by BN Stram – ‎2014 – ‎Cited by 7 – ‎Related articles. International Green House Gas negotiations have foundered on the need to allocate caps. •. A small carbon tax is a more achievable policy than the global …https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421514003048

    3. Thomas,

      Posts with too many links get flagged by the Akismet anti-spam software and held for approval.

    4. Thomas,

      What’s the point of this stuff you are posting here? Please don’t just post w/o making a point.

  5. GF, apparently my response to your two follow-up comments got caught in the FM spam filter. So we will see if it gets published “manually” later this morning ;)

    1. I’m puzzled by the fact that the “point” of the collection of links I shared was not self-evident. But whatever the reason, I will try to put a finer “point” on it.

      To Larry’s point, I thought these links collectively constituted possibly compelling evidence of increasingly bi-partisan–rather than “liberals’ only–political interest in carbon tax and dividend proposals, particularly in the U.S. specifically and the West in general–

      including not only Republicans, young and old, but also institutional investors (e.g. the 288 of them reported by cleantechnica.com who intend to pressure the G7 nations at the meeting in Toronto to get more aggressive on carbon reduction).

      Even Exxon, BP and Shell now back a carbon tax proposal to curb emissions, according to the Guardian, June 20, 2017.

      To GF’s point, what difference will this make if China, India, and Indonesia don’t follow suit? Unlike the US, my understanding is that both China and India signed and ratified the Paris Climate Accord. I also think the World Bank’s potential interest in carbon tax and dividend proposals suggests that something close to global consensus on this approach may be far from impossible.

      But perhaps the biggest difference I see between my pov and GF’s is this: I routinely think in more prospective terms, i.e. current, emerging, and potential future developments, rather than basing my opinions almost exclusively on past and present perceived “realities,” as I think GF and many others are inclined to do.

      So GF’s point seems potentially more valid to me in the case of Indonesia. Quoting from 3.28.18 edition of thediplomat.com (excerpts to follow):

    2. Thomas,

      No such proposals are going to pass with such weak basis in public opinion. As we saw in the 2017 election, not only did Hillary Clinton not make climate change a priority – she seldom mentioned it.

      As for the “widespread support” for carbon taxes. There is always interest in our governing classes for more taxes on people. Someone has to pay for the tax cuts on businesses. History shows that new taxes are usually proposed as a means of financing tax cuts on most people. But that almost never happens. Other “more urgent” uses are found for the new money.

    3. Also this from MIT: “Surge of Carbon Pricing Proposals Coming in the New Year – MIT. https://www.technologyreview.com/…/surge-of-carbon-pricing-proposals-coming-in-t…Dec 4, 2017

      Excerpts from https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/the-other-country-crucial-to-global-climate-goals-indonesia/

      “When it comes to global climate issues, attention this past year has focused on the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, or China and India’s rapid shifts to clean energy. Meanwhile, the world’s other major greenhouse gas emitter is being ignored. Indonesia, a country that, depending on the scale of its now-seasonal fires, can be the world’s third to sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has done little to implement policies that would enable it to meet its already weak Paris agreement goals.

      “The U.S. withdrawal from Paris was a blow, but state and regional-level action likely means the country will still achieve its climate goals, and both India and China are actually on pace to blow past their commitments. Indonesia, however, has made little progress, with emissions still growing.

      “In fact, many of its actions are pushing the country in the opposite direction, toward greater emissions. This includes government plans to build over 100 coal-fired power plants alongside the push to expand palm oil production and increase local biofuel consumption.

      “Factor in the massive expansion of a car-centric transportation infrastructure, including new highways across the archipelago, booming air travel, a growing middle class, and, unlike many of its Asian neighbors, very little investment in renewables, and you have the recipe for a climate disaster.

      “It’s not just Indonesia’s fault – the failure to scale up climate finance has meant that programs meant to stem deforestation have yet to bear fruit. Indonesia’s failure, since Paris, to address its emissions, could have global ramifications and if things continue on the business-as-usual path, critically damage global climate goals.

      “Indonesia is too big to fail when it comes to climate because it is such a big emitter… because of deforestation and peat burning,” said Jonah Busch with the Center for Global Development. “It certainly makes it a lot harder to meet international climate goals if you have such a big emitter that [has] continued its big emissions.”

      Indonesia’s Global Importance

      “Indonesia is a country that, despite its size and regional importance, regularly is forgotten or ignored on the global stage. This applies to climate issues as well. Despite its important role in the global fight against climate change, it gets little attention compared to other major emitters. Part of the reason is due to the uniqueness of its emissions. The other countries mentioned above are major emitters due to energy use, transportation, or air travel, the key focus of most international climate attention thus far.

      “In climate in general, forests are underappreciated, not given enough attention, and marginalized in policy,” said Busch. “When a lot of people think about climate and greenhouse gas emissions, they only think about emissions from fossil fuels.”

      “On the global scale, forests matter, and land use is responsible for about a quarter of global emissions, with Indonesia the undisputed leader in this category. Yet, while the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement last year made headlines, as do India and China’s commitments and actions, Indonesia has drawn little attention, and that’s a problem. Jakarta arguably matters more.

      “According to an analysis from the World Resources Institute, the country must made major changes if it is to have any hope of meetings its climate goals: an unconditional 26 percent reduction in emissions as compared to business-as-usual by 2030, which rises to 41 percent with international support. Indonesia needs to cut land-based emissions by about 80 percent to have any chance to achieve that goal.

      “Indonesia’s size makes it crucial to the global climate. Quite simply, there is no hope without action in the archipelago. Right now the focus is on forests, but in the future, its energy usage could be just as important. The other risk is, of course, to Indonesia’s economy. If its neighbors move toward clean energy and Jakarta sticks to coal, gas, and oil, the costs to public health and the environment could be huge.

      “A study from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) echoed that fear. The irony would be that Jokowi’s economic development plans could actually fail if they don’t consider the costs of sticking to dirty energy.

      “Renewable energy is already cheaper than coal in many markets around the world, and Indonesia can benefit hugely from this trend,” said Yulanda Chung with IEEFA in a press statement. “We think Indonesian planners are far less ambitious than they could be in development of solar, especially, and that a more progressive and modern approach would be in the best economic interest of the country.”

      “In fact, Indonesia is well endowed and could make a shift. It has ample sun, wind, wave, and geothermal energy potential, and there are some small, nascent signs of hope. Some lawmakers are pushing for better legislation to promote renewable energy. There is even a Green Economy Caucus in Parliament that wants to promote sustainable development. But they are far too small, and lacking in ambition.

      “Meanwhile, international support to protect forests might finally be coming, as the Green Climate Fund is preparing to begin financing projects, and Indonesia could be – at long last – ready to tap into $800 billion dollars in emissions reductions payments from Norway, which was pledged in 2010.”

    4. Thomas,

      No more of these insanely long comments (that one is 900 words). Post a few links (not dozens) and a brief summary. People will read them if they want to.

    5. Larry, I suspect you are already familiar with this book. But I am posting it as a reminder of an alternative explanation for why you think “No such proposals are going to pass with such weak basis in public opinion” other than a truly “weak” basis in public opinion.

      “Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality?

      “Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again?

      “Why have protections for employees been decimated?

      “Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?

      “The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement.

      “But as Jane Mayer shows in this powerful, meticulously reported history, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.”

      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27833494-dark-money

  6. I agree that that “The institutional support for the climate change movement has not been damaged.” However, I disagree that “It is almost impossible to roll back policy changes in matters supported by the public. The climate advocates need to win only once.”

    This nonsense will fall apart when the climate advocate’s policies inevitably raise energy prices to the point where they are unaffordable and destroy the reliability of the electrical grid. At that point the public will demand changes and a more pragmatic approach. It is only a matter of time.

    1. Mr. rogercaiazza: I understand why yours is a common knee-jerk first impression of the concept of a carbon tax alone. But I suspect you may not yet understand the concept of a carbon tax plus dividend. The dividends, which would be paid directly to individuals–as citizens/consumers–are intended to make any increase in taxes on carbon “revenue neutral” from the point of view of end-users, i.e. citizens/consumers. Do you have a different understanding?

    2. Roger,

      “climate advocate’s policies inevitably raise energy prices to the point where they are unaffordable and destroy the reliability of the electrical grid. ”

      Since policies are not made by advocates, why do you believe such destructive measures would be implemented? In the scenario I describe, a broad consensus would implement moderate policies.

    3. I live in New York State where Governor Andrew Cuomo is implementing policies that I believe will result in unaffordable prices and loss of a reliable grid.

      Mr. Brandt: New York is exploring a potential carbon tax on wholesale electric prices (https://wp.me/P8hgeb-5p). I agree that the theory of a revenue neutral carbon tax is worth exploring but New York’s version is only for one component of the energy system that is already pretty efficient and pretty clean. I do not think it can work as well as theory claims. Moreover, New York’s record with RGGI funds indicates that New York politicians have a demonstrated record of inappropriately allocating carbon mitigation funds. (https://wp.me/p8hgeb-5P). As a result citizen/consumers will not get anything approaching a revenue neutral share.

      Mr. Kummer: This is an election year in New York and Governor Cuomo is catering to the policy choices of environmental advocates because his primary opponent (Cynthia Nixon) pledges to go all renewable. As a result Cuomo is, for example, “on the record” saying no new natural gas plants (https://wp.me/p8hgeb-5G). However, the reality is that there are situations in New York where new natural gas plants are required (https://wp.me/p8hgeb-4C). The irrational fears associated with natural gas preclude moderate policies until the day of reckoning when reality intrudes but I believe it will only be after destructive policies are implemented in New York.

      I am not disagreeing with either of you gentlemen that in a rational world your points are appropriate. New York State energy policy at this time is not rational.

    4. Roger,

      Campaign promises are almost always far more radical than any bills that are actually signed. Usually the actual legislation is only a distant echo of campaign promises.

    5. Larry,
      I wish that were the case in New York but the Governor is doing almost all of the energy policy by executive mandate. Within the agencies tasked with implementing the policies, negativity is discouraged and dissent is punished. The New York energy situation will end badly because the experts are being ignored.

      While my expertise is limited I have two blogs (https://pragmaticenvironmentalistofnewyork.blog/ and https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/reformingtheenergyvisioninconvenienttruths.com) dedicated to showing the insanity of the situation but I am a very small minority.

      Thank you for engaging.

    6. I also think that (creative) “destruction” of the “reliability” of the electrical grid is already happening, and is a positive development–rather than something to be feared and prevented–due to ongoing advances in the tech feasibility and cost-effectiveness of ever-more “distributed” (decentralized) energy generation, transmission, and storage.

  7. Thomas —

    Are they demanding that China implement carbon pricing? Is China coming up with some proposals to implement carbon pricing? is India? Or Indonesia?

    Those emitting a good two thirds of the CO2 globally are proposing to do nothing but increase their emissions. So whether the other 25-35% of emissions are covered by carbon pricing, who cares?

    It is the consistent pattern of the climatist movement, to demand that people do things at great expense which, if the climatist theory is correct, will have little or no effect on the supposed problem. And at the same time to refuse to advocate things which, if their theory is correct, are required, and would be effective.

    It is a total nonsense, and whatever its doing, its not fighting climate change. Not that its a concept that even makes any sense, but whatever, this is not doing anything that could reasonably be called fighting climate change.

    It would be more accurately described as seeking to de-industrialize the West for no particular reason.

    1. George,

      “it is the consistent pattern of the climatist movement, to demand that people do things at great expense which, if the climatist theory is correct, will have little or no effect on the supposed problem”

      Please stop repeating nonsense from far right blogs and such. There is near-zero basis in climate science for your statements.

    2. Amirlach,

      Political movements are not unitary entities, like “Joe” or “Alice.” The people involved in them have different motives. Every large political movement attracts people for whom it is a means, not an end.

      Also, inevitably, movements attract support from their beneficiaries. If you believe that discredits the climate change movement, then defense spending must be discredited because it is supported by defense contractors.

      Climate Change has a large number of people with non-climate goals. But there is little or no evidence that those people began it or are a majority of its advocates.

    3. The utter failure of the IPCC’s model predictions discredits it’s science. There is zero basis in science for political movements or their beneficiaries or agenda’s. Only testable, repeatable hypothesis.

      As for policy based upon science, let’s be as critical of the results. Hold it to the same testing as the science.

      Has carbon pricing or trading reduced emissions as “predicted”? Nope. Will a redistribution of emissions with no reductions going to help the “problem”?

      Activist movements have no place in science yet the IPCC was founded on them. This is the biggest problem with messaging in my opinion.

      The IPCC was founded on the idea of collapsing industrial civilization by Maurice Strong. Anti-Free Market founder of UN IPCC.

      “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?”

      – Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme, Opening speech, Rio Earth Summit. 1992​

    4. Amirlach,

      After reading 55+ thousand comments on the FM website, I’m amazed at the similarity of the Left and Right. Cousins under the skin, showing the brotherhood of Americans (or perhaps humanity). Their reasoning is quite similar, as is their credulity. Both believe all sorts of bizarre things, established as fact thru repetition in their tribe’s media. This guilibility makes us easy to govern, a gift to our rulers.

      (1) “The utter failure of the IPCC’s model predictions discredits it’s science.”

      First, that is false on metholodogical grounds. Theories in science are not scientific because they are right. Most are wrong. Science is a mode of expressing and testing theories.

      Second, that is false on factual grounds.

      (a) Both sides point to artfully drawn spaghetti graphs, as if tests of statistical significance had not been invented in the 20th C. Also, tests have shown that people have little ability to distinguish statistical relationships visually (e.g., work of Meir Statman at Santa Clara College).

      (b) There have been indications of successful predictions. Such as the accurate forecast of CMIP3 run in 2006 for the IPCC’s AR4 report (details here). Graphs from a scientist’s blog post are judiciously inadequate as a basis for public policy, and ten years is too short to be useful. But this is evidence.

      (c) More importantly, why have climate scientists not run definitive tests of their models? There are many accepted methodologies (hindcasts don’t count, unless using out-of-sample data). Most powerfully, just rerun them from design data with actual observations (of GHG, etc) thru now — and see how well the predicted temp matches actual temp. See details here. My guess is that climate scientists would run tests if they were confident that their models would pass.

      But that’s not evidence of failure, let alone “utter failure.”

      (2) “Activist movements have no place in science yet the IPCC was founded on them.”

      Science is an open admissions game. Many people are motivated to become scientists for religious or political reasons. You’re not God’s Gatekeeper to science. Also, the IPCC was founded to provide advice to political decision-makers. It has done that remarkably rare, compared to most such attempts. These things have to be graded on a curve. They’re done perfectly only in Heaven.

      (3) “The IPCC was founded on the idea of collapsing industrial civilization by Maurice Strong.”

      The quote you give has several versions, with several alleged sources – none of which give any evidence. This is typical of fake quotes. The only one I’ve found that can be checked in any way is the one you give _attributing it to Strong’s opening speech at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992). Here is the transcript at Strong’s website. Nothing like that in it.

      You might learn much from checking out this article about the many similar fake quotes about climate activists that circulate on the guillible Right.

      On that crackpot notion, I’ll leave you. It would make me happy if any of this had any impact whatsoever on you. Based on past experience, I’ll bet on “no.”

    5. GF, see all of my previous comments in this thread for my response to your comment immediately above.

  8. I’m a bit biased as I once worked in the nuclear industry but there is a solution right there. Unlike Solar and wind it has terrible PR and the left treats it like it is, umm, radioactive.

    1. Yeah it really sucks how ecology and antinuclear politics are so intertwined. It was not inevitable.

    2. SF,

      Yes, that is one of the great tragedies of the climate change movement. As you say, it was not inevitable. But it was a deliberate choice by the Left.

      See this interview with historian Richard Rhodes by Justin Worland “On Nuclear Energy and Climate Change” in TIME, 4 June 2018. They’re discussing his new book, Energy: A Human History (2018).

      Worland: In your book, you deal extensively with one of those reasons. Namely: fears that nuclear power could support overpopulation. What was your reaction to that?

      Rhodes: I was appalled. Nuclear got a bad reputation among those who thought that helping out the starving millions and billions of people in Asia would just prolong the agony. It was an incredibly anti-human response. That really was the early years of the environmental movement–however well-meaning it came to be. It got a bad rep because it promised to power the teeming millions.

    3. Mandy,

      The nuclear power industry has died. The cause: suicide. Too many releases of radioactivity, too many close calls, too many cost overruns, etc. Since this is America (“It’s Not My Fault” should be our national motto, on the dollar bill), they blame others.

      See End of a dream as the nuclear power industry dies.

      That was avoidable. If only they had followed the practices Rickover used for the nuclear navy!

    4. I also think nuclear deserves a second look. I was first put on the subject of fast breeder reactors watching Pandora’s Promise on Netflix.

      The idea that one could remove the longest lasting radioactive elements and reduce their safe storage time from 100 000 years to around 500 years is incredible. That there is around 70 000 tons of this high-level waste laying around.

      It should be considered if only to remove the problem of storing such dangerous waste for such incredibly long time frames.

  9. I don’t know whether my point is made by far right blogs because I do not read any. What I know is that if you look at Climate Action Tracker, here:

    https://climateactiontracker.org/global/cat-emissions-gaps/

    You see that the Paris pledges are falling way short of what the consensus says is required. But these pledges already, no doubt of it, impose huge costs on the few countries that have signed up to any reductions.

    [This is in CO2 equivalents by the way, which is why its 50 Gigatons, whereas the plain CO2 is just under 40 at the moment.]

    Take a concrete case: the UK is supposed to go from about 400 million tons of CO2 to about 100 million, under the Climate Change Act.

    No one has a clue how actually to do it. The costs will be huge and it will require a revolution in how the country lives, works and travels.

    And look at the chart. How much effect is that going to have on global temps? Or on getting to the alleged goal?

    Do the same for the US. Same conclusion. An extra 1.5 billion tons? So what?

    The problem is that the activists and the alarmed are not actually prepared to demand that the world do what they claim to believe is required. This is not right wing fantasy. Its a simple fact.

    1. George,

      You are getting close to classification as a troll.

      (1) “You see that the Paris pledges are falling way …”

      (a) That’s not a rebuttal, since my reply to your earlier comment I said that the Paris agreement “it would have little or no effect on other nations – other than virtue signalling.” The link goes to my post explaining why.

      (b) I questioned your claim that CO2 emissions have little effect on global temps. As you said:

      “There is no reason to think that lowering CO2 emissions would make any material difference to the climate.”

      “it is the consistent pattern of the climatist movement, to demand that people do things at great expense which, if the climatist theory is correct, will have little or no effect on the supposed problem”

      (2) “I don’t know whether my point is made by far right blogs because I do not read any.”

      That’s unlikely to be true. There are few other sources of right-wing misinformation like you give. You certainly didn’t make this stuff up yourself.

  10. “False. As many studies have shown, there is a “97%” consensus that the headline statement of the IPCC’s AR4 and AR5 are correct. As in AR5: “We conclude, consistent with Hegerl et al. (2007b) {i.e., chapter 9 of AR4}, that more than half of the observed increase in GMST {global mean surface temperature} from 1951 to 2010 is …due to the observed anthropogenic increase in GHG {greenhouse gas} concentrations.” The percent agreeing drops to about half when including the IPCC’s confidence level: “very likely.”

    Hegrel used Mann’s “controversial PC1 proxy”. https://climateaudit.org/2006/10/24/hegerl-proxies-1-mann-pc1/

    Science is not based upon voting by “numbers” of studies, or papers. It is based upon valid studies. The 97% studies are all invalid. And even if there was a 97% consensus. I have never seen consensus mentioned in the scientific method. Ever.

    IPCC’s AR4 was an abysmal failure.

    https://climateaudit.org/2013/09/30/ipcc-disappears-the-discrepancy/

    AR5 also were only slightly less abysmal. Making a conclusion based upon invalid models is also invalid.

    https://climateaudit.org/2013/10/08/fixing-the-facts-2/

  11. (b)”There have been indications of successful predictions. Such as the accurate forecast of CMIP3 run in 2006 for the IPCC’s AR4 report (https://i1.wp.com/fabiusmaximus.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/gavin-graph-temperature-observations-vs-models-cmip3-20170920.jpg?ssl=1).”

    AR4 was invalidated by AR5.

    https://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/figure-10-26-global-mean-temperature-a1b-annotated.png

    Regarding your “most important graph”. And how well the predicted temp matches actual temp? Not very well at all. Same data, same scale, one without the spagetti and confetti. AR4 predicted +0.37C, AR5 reported +0.12C – 0.16C

    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/ipcc-ar5draft-fig-1-4.gif?w=720

    “The original panel of IPCC Figure 10.26 with observations overplotted, clearly showing the discrepancy. I’ve also shown the 2005, 2010 and 2015 envelope with red arrows (which I’ve transposed to other diagrams for reference). That observations fall outside the projection envelope of the AR4 figure is obvious.”

    The IPCC AR5 notes the lack of warming since 1998:

    [T]he rate of warming over the past 15 years (1998–2012) [is] 0.05 [–0.05 to +0.15] °C per decade)which is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951 (1951–2012) [of] 0.12 [0.08 to 0.14] °C per decade.

    In summary:

    After expecting an increase of 0.2 C per decade in the early decades of the 21st century from the AR4 statements, the rate of warming over the past 15 years is only ~0.05C.
    The IPCC AR5 bases its projection for the period 2016-2036 of 0.10 to 0.23C per decade on expert judgment, rather than on the climate model results
    The IPCC does not have a convincing or confident explanation for the hiatus in warming.

    “The IPCC AR4 conclusion on climate sensitivity is stated as:

    “The equilibrium climate sensitivity. . . is likely to be in the range 2C to 4.5C with a best estimate of about 3C and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5C. Values higher than 4.5C cannot be excluded.” (AR4 SPM)

    The IPCC AR5 conclusion on climate sensitivity is stated as:

    Equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C (high confidence), extremely unlikely less than 1°C (high confidence), and very unlikely greater than 6°C (medium confidence) (AR5 SPM)”

    The source of the Strong Quote i found. http://www.afn.org/~govern/strong.html

    I’ll concede, single source quotes are often dubious.

    1. amirlach,

      Very funny.

      “AR4 was invalidated by AR5.”

      I see you’re not too clear how the accuracy of predictions is calculated.

    2. So when the actual measured temperature was well below the “predicted” 90% statistical certainty error bar, it is still not wrong?

      Your right, I don’t understand how -you- calculate the accuracy of predictions. I’m assuming some confirmation bias?

      I’m leaning towards the statistical method of testing the Null Hypothesis.

      “In all things of a statistical nature, such as measuring climate change over time, a null hypothesis is defined and tested.

      The null hypothesis must be assumed to be true unless statistical analysis proves it is outside the range of random probability.

      That range has a strict mathematical definition. It is two or more standard deviations away from the prediction of the null hypothesis.

      In laymen’s terms it means there is a 95% or greater chance that the null hypothesis is wrong.
      In that case, the null hypothesis is rejected.”

      https://informthepundits.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/the-ipcc-and-the-null-hypothesis/

      “The central predictions from the four reports (indicated by the colored arrows in the animation) range from 0.3˚C to 0.5˚C, which is about two to five times greater than actual measured net warming.

      The colored bands in the base IPCC graphic indicate the 90% range of uncertainty above and below the central predictions calculated by the IPCC when they issued the assessment reports.

      90% certainty means there is only one chance in ten the actual observations will fall outside the colored bands.

      The IPCC has issued four reports, so, given 90% certainty for each report, there should be only one chance in 10,000 (ten times ten times ten times ten) that they got it wrong four times in a row. But they did!

      Please note that the colored bands, wide as they are, do not go low enough to contain the actual observations for Global Temperature reported by the IPCC for 2012.

      Thus, the IPCC predictions for 2012 are high by multiples of what they thought they were predicting! Although the analysts and modelers claimed their predictions were 90% certain, it is now clear they were far from that mark with each and every prediction.”

      IF THEORY DIFFERS FROM OBSERVATIONS, THE THEORY IS WRONG
      As Feynman famously pointed out, when actual observations over a period of time contradict predictions based on a given theory, that theory is wrong!

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/an-animated-analysis-of-the-ipcc-ar5-graph-shows-ipcc-analysis-methodology-and-computer-models-are-seriously-flawed/

      I would love to see how you calculate the accuracy of predictions Larry.

    3. A,

      “Your right, I don’t understand how -you- calculate the accuracy of predictions.”

      Let’s rephrase that for accuracy – you don’t understand how statisticians calculate the accuracy of predictions.

      Since you’ve ignored what I said, there’s no point in continuing this discussion.

  12. Larry, I just want to say, I am not a troll. I am not right wing. I do not read right wing blogs (not that there is anything wrong with doing that, but I do not in fact do it). I do not get my opinions on climate from political sources.

    In politics I vote centrist social democrat. I am a floating voter and in any election base my vote on party direction, candidate quality and manifesto.

    Please stop with these accusations about my political views and reading.

    It is weird that one’s views on climate can be dismissed on the basis of ungrounded assumptions about one’s politics. My view are my own, arrived at by reflection on climate itself. I am not a troll. I post what I really think and not with a view to exciting a reaction. Because I think it, and to participate in a discussion.

    You may not be aware that the politicization of views on climate is a US peculiarity. Inn other countries views on climate and climate science are not left-right issues. They are not in my own country of residence. The US is very much an outlier in this respect, and it is quite wrong to make assumptions about the politics of people in other countries based on their views of climate.

    You may be right that a run of extreme weather could revive climate activism in the US. My doubt about that is that such a revival would be taking place in a world in which the countries which are the source of 70% of emissions and growing have not bought into the narrative.

    No matter what happens to the weather, I cannot see the US adopting stringent emission reduction policies while the rest of the world continues to increase. I think the real and decisive objection to US local action is going to be that given the way the rest of the world is behaving, it will be hugely expensive and totally ineffective.

    We shall see.

  13. “Let’s rephrase that for accuracy – you don’t understand how statisticians calculate the accuracy of predictions.
    Since you’ve ignored what I said, there’s no point in continuing this discussion.”

    A Peer Reviewed Statistical audit of Chapter 8 of WG1 IPCC AR4 for you to ignore.

    https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.bing.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1144&context=marketing_papers

    A summary of the above paper on the blog of another Peer Reviewed Statistical expert. https://climateaudit.org/2007/07/07/ipcc-ar4-no-skill-in-scientific-forecasting/

    This willful blindness of reality is the irresistible foe preventing action to fight climate change IMHO.

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