Secrets about the 1.5°C world temperature limit

Summary: There has been a daily drumbeat of dark climate news to accompany the IPCC’s new report, “Global Warming of 1.5 °C.” Millions of people are terrified that climate change will wreck or destroy the world. Here is some information they probably do not know, because journalists do not mention it.

Climate nightmares

Paleoclimatological Context and Reference Level
of the 2°C and 1.5°C Paris Agreement Long-Term Temperature Limits

By Sebastian Lüning and Fritz Vahrenholt.
Frontiers of Earth Science, 17 December 2017.

Abstract

This paper is ungated, and well worth reading in full for anyone interested in climate change – one of the key policy questions of our time.

“The Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 during the COP21 conference stipulates that the increase in the global average temperature is to be kept well below 2°C above “pre-industrial levels” and that efforts are pursued to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above “pre-industrial levels.” In order to further increase public acceptance of these limits it is important to transparently place the target levels and their baselines in a paleoclimatic context of the past 150,000 years (Last Interglacial, LIG) and in particular of the last 10,000 years (Holocene; Present Interglacial, PIG).

“Intense paleoclimatological research of the past decade has firmed up that pre-industrial temperatures have been highly variable which needs to be reflected in the pre-industrial climate baseline definitions. The currently used reference level 1850–1900 represents the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA). The LIA represents the coldest phase of the last 10,000 years when mean temperatures deviated strongly negatively from the Holocene average and which therefore are hard to justify as a representative pre-industrial baseline. The temperature level reached during the interval 1940–1970 may serve as a better reference level as it appears to roughly correspond to the average pre-industrial temperature of the past two millennia.

“Placing the climate limits in an enlarged paleoclimatic context will help to demonstrate that the chosen climate targets are valid and represent dangerous extremes of the known natural range of Holocene temperature variability.”

Origin of two-degree climate change target.

The two-degree climate change target was first proposed by economist William Nordhaus in 1975 (here and refined here) with almost no basis in the physical sciences and no peer-review by physical scientists. It was pushed by papers from political and advocacy groups. Since then scientists have learned much about the temperature range of the Holocene.

“The Pleistocene comprises of the last 2.6 million years and is characterized by an alternation of cold glacial and warm interglacial phases. A typical glacial/interglacial cycle lasts 100,000 years, whereby the cold phase usually takes 90% of the time while the interglacial phases make up only 10% of the cycle. The cyclicity is controlled by Milankovitch Earth’s orbital cycles. The Last interglacial (LIG) is the Eemian …which occurred 126,000–115,000 years ago. …LIG temperatures have likely been 1.2°C above the most recent temperatures averaged over 1998–2016. …LIG already exceeded the 1.5°C climate limit by 0.5°C while it just about reached the upper limit of the 2°C temperature target. LIG temperatures correspond roughly with the upper end of the tolerable temperature window cited by the WBGU (German Advisory Council for Global Change, 1995). …

“After the end of the last glacial period, temperatures during the early Holocene started to increase again and reached a maximum during the mid-Holocene Thermal Maximum (HTM), an exceptionally warm period 8,000 to 5,000 years before present (BP). Alternative names for this phase are Holocene Climate Optimum (HCO) and Atlantic Period. The warm period is considered a result of Milankovitch Earth’s orbital effects, in particular changes in earth axial tilt and distance to the sun (e.g., Otto-Bliesner et al., 2016). Global average temperature during the HTM was generally warmer than today. An exact quantification of the HTM warming and its comparison to modern temperatures has unfortunately not yet been achieved and requires additional data and detailed correlation effort. …

“Following the HTM, long-term cooling commenced around 4,000 years BP, representing the onset of the Neoglaciation which culminated in the Little Ice Age 1400–1850 AD. Superimposed on the long-term cooling trend are natural temperature fluctuations, which differ somewhat in the various global reconstructions …). In several of these reconstructions pre-industrial phases occur during which temperatures have reached a similar intensity as today. Likewise, the pre-industrial average temperature for the period 0–1850 AD varies in the different reconstructions (Figure 2). …”

Lüning and Vahrenholt - 2017 - figure 2

Pre-Industrial Temperature Variability.

The existing “pre-industrial” baseline used are the average temperature estimates for 1850–1900. This is the end of the Little Ice Age, the coldest period during the last 10,000 years. It is an inappropriate basis for setting a public policy target, and a number that misrepresents the public about the history and dynamics of climate change.

“Pre-industrial temperatures have undergone marked natural variations at every possible time-scale. Definition of an 1850–1900 ‘pre-industrial’ reference level is therefore simplistic and does not do justice to the significant natural dynamics of the pre-industrial temperature development. Unfortunately, key reports on the climate limits refer to the pre-industrial temperature as if it had been static during past millennia. …”

Choice and Paleoclimatic Context of Chosen Baseline Value.

“The baseline of the climate limit was defined by World Bank (2014) and UNFCCC (2015) {AKA the Paris Climate Agreement} as the temperature average 1850–1900. Notably, this period marks the end of the Little Ice Age, the latter representing the coldest phase of the entire last 10,000 years (Figures 1, 2). More recently, Hawkins et al. (2017) suggested 1720–1800 as pre-industrial baseline period, which however lies even closer to the coldest phase of the Little Ice Age (Figure 2). The choice of a baseline near the lower extreme of a variable parameter is uncommon in science. An average over a longer pre-industrial interval capturing several natural temperature fluctuations appears more adequate. Suitable averaging time windows may be e.g., the last 1000 years, 2000 years or 10,000 years, always excluding the last 150 years due to anthropogenic influence. …”

The authors’ conclusions.

“Pre-industrial temperatures have been more variable than previously thought which needs to be reflected in the baseline definitions of climate targets as part of the Paris Agreement. The currently used reference level represents the end of the Little Ice Age, the coldest phase of the entire last 10,000 years. The temperature value of this reference level deviates strongly negatively from the Holocene average temperature and therefore is hard to justify as a pre-industrial baseline. A better reference level may be equivalent to 1940–1970, when temperatures were reached that correspond to the pre-industrial global mean temperature of the past two millennia. …”

My thoughts about this important topic.

(1)  About the temperature record.

The authors rely on the major published temperature reconstructions. From up in the peanut gallery, it looks to me that Steve McInyre’s criticism of them are devastating and disqualify them for use in setting public policy goals. See his posts on the latest reconstruction here and here.

Reconstruction of the temperature record is foundational information for public policy debate. The operation of these projects is paradigmatic of the state of climate science today: adequate academic science, but grossly inadequate for the public policy need. These reconstructions need more funding, involvement of a wider pool of experts, and vastly improved external review and supervision. It would be some of the best money the US government spent next year. The results might revitalized the policy machinery.

(2)  The policy measures necessary to meet the 1.5C or 2C targets.

The targets are unrealistic. They require either devastating measures (e.g., carbon taxes at high levels that would disrupt the global economy) or technology that does not now exist (e.g., bio-energy with carbon capture and storage). Several experts have pointed this out, such as Oliver Geden (presentation, gated paper), Glen Peters (gated paper), and Roger Pielke Jr.

For More Information

See the new IPCC report: “Global Warming of 1.5 °C.” SR15 differs from AR15 on one major way: it assume +1.5°C over pre-industrial creates Armageddon. That’s odd, since we are already at 1°C over (much of that is natural warming). To understand the origin of these “red lines” see “The Invention of the Two-Degree Target” in Der Spiegel.

For an excellent introduction to carbon budgets and temperature targets, see this article at Carbon Brief.

The excerpts from the paper are cited in accordance with its stated copyright provisions.

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

  1. Importantclimate scientists can restart the climate change debate – & win.
  2. We can end the climate policy wars: demand a test of the models.
  3. Thomas Kuhn tells us what we need to know about climate science.
  4. Daniel Davies’ insights about predictions can unlock the climate change debate.
  5. Karl Popper explains how to open the deadlocked climate policy debate.
  6. Paul Krugman talks about economics. Climate scientists can learn from his insights.
  7. Milton Friedman’s advice about restarting the climate policy debate.
  8. A candid climate scientist explains how to fix the debate.

Alarmists worked hard to keep you from reading this book.

Disasters and Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

Alarmists have worked long and hard to discredit Roger Pielke Jr., because he tells us about the IPCC and peer-reviewed research. Things that violate the “narrative” about our imminent doom. They really do not want you to read this book, the revised second edition of …

The Rightful Place of Science:
Disasters & Climate Change
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By Roger Pielke Jr.

See my review of the first edition. Here is the publisher’s summary …

“After nearly every hurricane, heatwave, drought, or other extreme weather event, commentators rush to link the disaster with climate change. But what does the science say?

“In this fully revised and updated edition of Disasters & Climate Change, renowned political scientist Roger Pielke Jr. takes a close look at the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the underlying scientific research, and the climate data to give you the latest science on how climate change is related to extreme weather. What he finds may surprise you and raise questions about the role of science in political debates.”

60 thoughts on “Secrets about the 1.5°C world temperature limit

  1. Agreed on the merits of Steve McIntyre’s demolition of the various proxy reconstructions. Two important things about the latest IPCC report. One is from David Middleton’s post on Watts:

    Middleton has translated the carbon tax recommendations into price per gallon tax on gasoline and other fuels. The important thing is not so much the absolute values, as the ranges. As a for instance the recommendations on gas a for the 1.5C pathway are:

    • 2030 between $1.20 and $48.90
    • 2050 between $2.18 and $115.57
    • 2070 between $3.73 and $155.58

    Its not so much that a tax of $48.60 a gallon is mad. Its more that if you cannot specify the needed tax more specifically than to say its somewhere between $1.20 and $48.90 you obviously have no business making policy recommendations at all.

    The second important thing comes from Nic Lewis’ post on Judy Curry’s site. A flavor of Lewis’ analysis from the introduction to the post follows.

    The resulting SR15 estimate of the post-1875 cumulative CO2 emissions that would give a 50% probability of meeting the 1.5°C target is approximately 720 GtCO2 larger than per AR5, partially offset by a 210 GtCO2 increase in estimated 1876–2010 emissions, giving a net increase of 510 GtCO2 for the post-2010 carbon budget.

    You won’t find this extraordinary change in the basic parameters of the theory mentioned anywhere in the mainstream media. But what the fact of a revision of this magnitude (without any discussion of the reason or implications, apparently) is once again that the science cannot possibly be called settled, and the theory is no way capable of supporting a policy agenda.

    Disclaimer: I haven’t worked through the entire report, yet. So there may be some discussion of the rationale for the changes somewhere in it. Lewis is the only place I’ve yet seen it clearly stated and discussed.

    The great thing however about the latest IPCC stuff is that it makes clear the implications of the climate activist agenda. It really is to stop all fossil fuel use everywhere in the world in the next 20 years, starting now. Almost total de-industrialization, globally. This would obviously require wholesale changes, at least as large as those the Industrial Revolution brought, in how and where we live and work and eat and travel. I mean, the demolition of the suburbs and the closure of the global auto industry would only be a small part of the required changes.

    It may be mad, but at least they are coming clean about it.

    1. Henrik,

      When you calculate that a large global institutions policy institute’s recommendations are mad, it almost always means that you don’t understand them. That’s clearly the case here.

      Skipping aside the accuracy of the new IPCC report – such as how they set the targets, and their excessive confidence in economic models – the framework is sensible. They give the target, and explain the implications. The number of variables involved are immense, so this report gives the information needed only to start the policy discussion. What should be done? That includes preparing for an almost certain overshoot of the targets – perhaps temporary, perhaps for a long-time. Perhaps a small overshoot, perhaps a long one. It’s all about choice.

      It does not purport to give the specific policy proposals you expect. The “agenda” you concoct exists only due to your own false assumptions of the process.

      Also – for an analysis of the difficulty of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 or 2C using existing tech, see Roger Pielke Jr’s work (his website).

  2. Prior to 1200 BC a vibrant multi state and multi cultural society existed {in the Mediterranean}. This youtube explores reasons for the collapse.

    I offer it as a cautionary that interfering with a complex economic system is fraught with dangers un-imagined by those who want to change from capitalism to the thus so far failed socialistic models.

    “1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed” by Eric Cline. {The Late Bronze Age. He is a professor of ancient history and archaeology at The George Washington University. See Wikipedia.}

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRcu-ysocX4

    1. John,

      Note that the last section of Cline’s presentation is quite daft. He says that we have earthquakes, droughts, rebellions, invasions – so this is like the collapse of the Late Bronze Age!

      This is the common error seen in comments here, belief that these things are binary – present or not. Which is nuts. History is seldom about new things. Rather it is changes in mixtures and magnitudes of ever-present phenomena. Showing that these ills are present now tells us nothing, other than our age is typical in many respect.

    2. Yes, LK. But before he went off the deep end, his talk was really good for understanding how a great civilization can be overwhelmed. I am so used to the cry of doom, I’m afraid I tend to ignore it.

      A corollary to ignoring the cry of present doom, is to consider that I do not believe that those involved refused to react to what was going on back then. I wonder what kind of well intentioned , but harmful decisions were made.

      Another item that would necessitate some real expert thought, is where did all the weapons come from if tin was so important.

    3. John,

      Nicely said.

      “I wonder what kind of well intentioned , but harmful decisions were made.”

      Given the limited information, even more limited analytical tools, and weak governments – I wonder if there was much they could do. But perhaps that’s just my limited imagination!

      For ten years I taught a weekend leadership class for Boy Scouts. I emphasized the power of bold leadership in reaction to crisis, asking what would a great Captain have done after the Titanic sunk (back then I used Captain Kirk as a model)? He could have done a lot.

      “where did all the weapons come from if tin was so important.”

      I don’t understand. I assume the weapons were made locally using the imported tin.

    4. Yes, the presentation claimed that weapons were made locally from imported tin that lay to the far east. It also traced the influx of new peoples from the north and west. And most important to the case being made was the collapse of trade.

      So, I am left wondering about the weapons. If tin was so important, and trade failing, where did the weapons come from that accomplished the final destruction except for Egypt who won militarily against the invaders.

  3. Interesting stuff, as usual, FM. The quotes below suggests that we are actually slight overdue for an inter-glacial period of perhaps 10,000 years. Obviously, that statement cannot be relied upon because there have been massive changes in the last 2,000 years which could all sorts of unanticipated consequences for the Milankovitch Cycle.

    “A typical glacial/interglacial cycle lasts 100,000 years, whereby the cold phase usually takes 90% of the time while the interglacial phases make up only 10% of the cycle.”

    “The cyclicity is controlled by Milankovitch Earth’s orbital cycles. The Last interglacial (LIG) is the Eemian …which occurred 126,000–115,000 years ago. …LIG temperatures have likely been 1.2°C above the most recent temperatures averaged over 1998–2016.”

    My personal take on the whole Climate Change theory is that the authors of it seem to be working under the theory that shifting over to renewal energy sources and systems will be so good for us that they are willing to do some very questionable story-telling. By the way, I have not given the above theory sufficient time to develop and would not be surprised to discover that I’m completely wrong.

    FM: My next post is likely to pull conversation off topic, please feel free to delete it if you feel it will generate more problems than value.

    1. Pluto,

      “the authors of it seem to be working under the theory that shifting over to renewal energy sources and systems will be so good for us that they are willing to do some very questionable story-telling”

      That’s too binary. Climate scientists are not a unitary entity or a hive mind. Your statement is certainly true of some (they’re quite open about it). But others have bigger goals, seeking power for their ideology or seeking to replace capitalism with something they believe is better. But most are just people who are, as Taylor Swift says, “chained to the rhythm.” As we all are, working in systems beyond our control. Incentives, opportunities, constraints — all shape our actions.

    2. There you go, it seems that we are way into this turmoil (note that all prior glaciations were preceded with a great variations of temperatures); well, some earlier values were lost due to ice core interactions; however, these latest jumps in temperatures (and “dust contents”) are spelling one thing: we are about to enter the next glaciation! I don’t think we, as I and you, are going to experience that — it is still some hundreds of years away (I hope)
      BTW
      Does anybody here have “the ear” of Dr. P. C. Roberts? He’s an older gentleman and he doesn’t seems to get this “AGW” BS. I tried but failed to bring to his attention the reality of CAGW. I think he is one of the personalities worth the extra effort to open their eyes…

    3. Jako,

      “we are about to enter the next glaciation!”

      I know several world class climate scientists, and follow the work of many more. I know of none who agree with you. As I have said a thousand times in these comments, it’s folly to make unsupported statements outside of your area of expertise.

      “he doesn’t seems to get this “AGW” BS.”

      He’s not a climate scientist, so why care what he thinks? Also, convincing people about such things is almost impossible. Also, calling “BS” something that almost every expert believes in tells us a great deal about your level of self-esteem. It’s sad.

  4. I suspect that circumstances beyond their control are about to overtake the proponents of Climate Change. I’ve recently been exploring solar roofs and storage batteries and am able to say that prices have fallen and performance has increased to the point where the whole economic model is rapidly becoming extremely competitive. The last major obstacle is to build up production and shipping capacity to the point where it will be able to meet likely demand in 5 years and the traditional solutions (plus the rapidly evolving technology) are likely to make short work of the obstacle.

    As home and car owners currently know, one of the largest issues with buying a house (or especially a car) is the ongoing maintenance costs over time.

    Example: lets say a person buys a used car for $19,000 and drives it 17,000 miles per year. How long will gas and maintenance costs need to overtake the original purchase price?

    Nerd Wallet estimates new automobile maintenance costs at $99 per month. I used an estimate of $60 per month for a used car for $720 per year and gas costs are likely to be about $1,550 per year for a total of $2300. The cost of the average electric bill in the US for the home is also about $900 per year so we can drop the total number of years for this comparison to 5.6 years.

    Now let’s look at a new electric car and a solar roof and batteries. Let’s say the purchase price is $25,000 for the car (after federal and state rebates that are about to expire) and $15,000 for the solar panels and batteries to be installed so the costs are about the same. The electric basically needs no fuel (except when you go on a long car ride and decide you want a rental gas-powered car instead).

    So far electric cars have needed an average of about $500 per year in maintenance costs because they have so many fewer moving parts (source: https://ez-ev.com/tips/electric-cars-vs-gas-maintenance-battery-cost) as more maintenance facilities are able to handle electric cars (currently only dealerships), the cost is likely to fall rapidly.

    Overall you’re better off with Solar after 6 years and the situation keeps getting sweeter the longer you look forward. If the power blacks out in your region, you’ll probably be unaffected except for phone and cable TV reception.

    Electric companies are likely to want to buy your excess electricity at half to three quarters of their current rates which will probably lower the payback time to 4 years. Telsa has offered to allow electric companies to buy unneeded electricity from their car batteries during really high peak demand times which will lower the payback time even further.

    We’ve already established that gasoline (the number 1 carbon polluter right now) is essentially unnecessary in the new electric car economy. Coal and natural gas are likely to become quite a bit less necessary (drop by 80%?) for electricity generation as the new solar-based generation system comes online. Factory owners with big flat roofs are likely to be early adopters when the utility companies start announcing excess electricity generation buy-backs.

    In theory, we could accidentally cause a minor ice age in about 50 years with solar panels but I doubt it.

    1. Pluto,

      Your comment is far off topic, thread hijacking. I don’t like to delete comments, but more about this will be deleted.

      Your comment is also largely false, as thousands of articles show — by the National Academy of Sciences and others. I’ll just mention of few of the many points.

      * Gasolene and diesels vehicles are just one part of the problem. Burning coal for power and steel mfg is also a big contributor. As is use of natural gas, a potent GHG released during mining and shipping – producing CO2 when burned.

      * Most estimates are that the shift of new production to mostly electric powered vehicles will take a decade (perhaps 2). Vehicles are long-life equipment, so most vehicles on the road will be powered by fossil fuels for 2 to 3 decades, perhaps longer.

      * Without subsidies, solar power for residential or grid is uneconomic in much of the world due to physics (i.e., seasonal effects, weather, or latitude).

      * As solar use becomes a larger part of electrical consumption, the provision of back-up power becomes a cost which must be dealt with. Now grid back-up is free because solar is a tiny fraction of consumption. If it became, for example, 20%, those users would have to pay for the backup generators used when solar was unavailable.

      There are more. Unless public policy or tech changes drastically, renewable sources are a part of the solution and will grow in importance. But not with the speed or to the degree you believe.

      This isn’t a subject for dreams. As I said with regard to your comment on another thread, I suggest you stick to analysis by experts.

    2. FM: “Your comment is far off topic, thread hijacking. I don’t like to delete comments, but more about this will be deleted.”

      Yes, FM, I agree. I very nearly sent the comments to you in an email instead. I will do so in the future.

      FM: “Your comment is also largely false, as thousands of articles show — by the National Academy of Sciences and others. I’ll just mention of few of the many points.”

      Actually, I’m pretty sure that my comments were more incomplete but not false. Once again I was trying to stuff too much information into one post and trying to decide how to handle that problem again.

      FM: “* Gasoline and diesels vehicles are just one part of the problem. Burning coal for power and steel mfg is also a big contributor. As is use of natural gas, a potent GHG released during mining and shipping – producing CO2 when burned.”

      Yes, agreed.

      FM: “* Most estimates are that the shift of new production to mostly electric powered vehicles will take a decade (perhaps 2). Vehicles are long-life equipment, so most vehicles on the road will be powered by fossil fuels for 2 to 3 decades, perhaps longer.”

      Agreed, FM. However the reason why I said that the Climate Change people were likely to have events overtake them is that they are talking 4-5 decades (as I understand things) to implement everything and in even 5 years I suspect we are going to see the beginning of the effect.

      FM:”* Without subsidies, solar power for residential or grid is uneconomic in much of the world due to physics (i.e., seasonal effects, weather, or latitude).”

      I’m not in complete agreement with that statement, FM. You are certainly at the current moment but the solar power people seem to have reasonable plans to overcome most or possibly all of your concerns within 10 years. Perhaps within 5 years in some areas.

      FM: “* As solar use becomes a larger part of electrical consumption, the provision of back-up power becomes a cost which must be dealt with. Now grid back-up is free because solar is a tiny fraction of consumption. If it became, for example, 20%, those users would have to pay for the backup generators used when solar was unavailable.”

      Agreed again, FM.

      FM: “There are more. Unless public policy or tech changes drastically, renewable sources are a part of the solution and will grow in importance. But not with the speed or to the degree you believe.”

      Once again, your comment about 10-20 years is my earliest time frame for everything being solved.

      FM: “This isn’t a subject for dreams. As I said with regard to your comment on another thread, I suggest you stick to analysis by experts.”

      Again, FM, as I mentioned in my other posts, while I didn’t quote the experts for reasons of length, I ALWAYS try to ground my opinions and dreams in facts. I’ve been bitterly disappointed when I do not. At the same time, I recommend that you visit some academic and research websites on the subject of the advancement of efficiency and lowering of the cost of solar cells and batteries. You may be in for some pleasant surprises.

      All of the below articles have been published in the last 3 months.

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/07/06/whats-new-in-solar-energy-research-in-2018/#683340034743

      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180830180056.htm

      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181004155426.htm

      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181004112555.htm

      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181001082159.htm

      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180917101324.htm

      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180917101324.htm

      https://scitechdaily.com/tag/battery-technology/

    1. An excellent question, Sven. Thanks for asking. While looking into the situation, I found an annoying lack of data. There are three things I can say right now without fear of contradiction:

      1. There can be significant pollution in the manufacturing process and in the disposal process (in 30 years after the solar cells have degraded significantly).

      2. There are ways to mitigate the pollution issues for both parts but they raise the cost and the manufacturers have been fighting them tooth and nail. That’s going to have to change at some point but I do not know how or when yet.

      3. The carbon benefits of using solar cells vastly outweigh the pollution costs of making them over time but I do not know when they hit break-even because the manufacturers are withholding the data.

  5. Intermittentcy is an issue with renewable systems. Costs are hard to predict since the intermittentcy is red noise weighted random events. See “The Nile and Egypt, past and future“.

    With transportation about 29% and the need for manufactured energy when solar is not operating, the savings of the new carbon budget are slight. Presently solar operates within specs about 18% of the time, this will reduce our carbon by about 5%. Note the estimates are wide ranging from both knowns and unknowns. So, I just used averages I googled to show effect.

    One encouraging fact is that exponential cost of solar or wind started at 4 to 7% Wyoming wind study. Presently, it has been increased to the 9 to 13% penetrations. However, I have not seen where the service area overage has decreased. In the Wyoming wind study, wind needed to supply an area 3 times the area of utility. Translation: at greater than 33.3% penetration, the electric system is guaranteed to fail unless you can outsource energy when you need it and you can reduce other providers when too much is produced. Google Australian electric failures for synchronous problems due to mismatch of electric inputs.

    IMO, infrastructure problems have been well wished away. If you add these to the magic that the IPCC uses for its path to success, you will realize why the power engineers are especially pessimistic.

    I would caution anyone who looks at renewable as a solution to look at the synchronous problem, and just how much infrastructure is needed when the source meets specs at 18% versus modern techniques which are >95%. There is handwaving, and assumptions that absolutely cannot be supported at this time.

    1. John,

      The great energy expert Robert Hirsch wrote about the problems of wind and solar long ago: “Electric Power from Renewable Energy: Practical Realities for Policy-Makers” in the Journal of Fusion Energy, December 2002. He was ignored. This disregard for expert advice is imo the core reason our energy and climate policies are a mess. Abstract:

      “Current wind and photovoltaic technologies are incapable of providing the all-renewable electric power future that many have envisioned, because of the inherent mismatch between their unpredictable, intermittent nature and society’s demands for electric power on demand. Paths for using these technologies are in combination with electric power storage or as fuel-savers with fossil-fueled power plants. In a cloudless world, photovoltaic costs double if power is needed at night, and when there are clouds, costs escalate dramatically. Electric power from wind turbines varies as the cube of the wind velocity, which can fluctuate from zero to high values over short periods. To make competent national energy policy, the public and policymakers need an unbiased, authoritative analysis of the maximum possible, long-term contributions of renewables to U.S. electric power needs.”

      Also note that the electric grids need major restructuring to accommodate the fluctuations when intermittent sources (eg, wind and solar) are much over 10%. That is not free, either.

    2. Some European countries are approaching 15-20% of electricity generated by intermittent sources (mostly wind power). But adapting to this has required some large-scale investments to solve the problem of storing excess energy for peak demand periods. Both Portugal (20% windpower) and Denmark (40% windpower) use excess wind power to pump water uphill to reservoirs, which can store it release it to produce hydropower during peak hours (the Danes pay the Norwegians and Swedes to do this, as they lack topography). But this solution requires a large network of reservoirs, which is costly, has its own environmental impacts, and requires a rough topography and a lot of area to fill with water. It also has a natural limit, as you can only build so many power storage dams before you run out of good spots, which can happen quickly in a densely populated country (e.g. Portugal has run out of spots for new dams).

      I don’t see any other technology out there which can efficiently store intermittent energy sources, so I can’t see how you can go above what the Europeans are getting (10-20%) unless you have very favorable natural conditions. But perhaps you know of the research or developments being done in this?

    3. JP,

      “Both Portugal (20% windpower) and Denmark (40% windpower) use excess wind power …”

      The key to Denmark’s high level of wind power: it is plugged into Germany’s power grid. A population 6 million running plugged into a grid serving 83 million. So Denmark’s high wind power levels are misleading.

      That’s like saying Iowa shows that wind can be a large sector of grid power, since its gets 20% from wind. But Iowa is 1.2% of US electricity consumption (6.6% of its grid region). Like Denmark, its fluctuations are easily absorbed by its overall grid network. (Source: EIA, 2014)

    4. JP, See “The Nile and Egypt, past and future“. The editor is D. Koutsoyiannis. He modeled wind, solar, and pumped storage for a modern society. You still need fossil fuel. That is what is so important about the Nile river data. Also, the landscape became infrastructure to the service of wind and water. The costs of transition to such a society cannot be accurately estimated, but are literally almost the whole of human effort. Estimates of time to transition and costs are best on a log scale, due to the exponential cost if time is short, or exponential time if money is short.

      I have not read of any advances that can solve the 33% barrier that do not incur exponential costs themselves.These “advances” are theoretical, so the power function of the cost is an estimate.

    5. John,

      I agree on all points. But we must remember that what is so today will not be true forever. New tech is coming. It will take at least a decade to become commercial (perhaps much more), and then at least two decades (perhaps much more) to generate a large share of world power (depending on its degree of superiority to existing sources). But change is coming.

      For example, see The bright light of fusion might burn away climate doomsters’ fears.

    6. LK: I agree that technology is advancing. I believe we agree that alarmists use the low technology scenarios of the IPCC for unrealistic and scary projections.

      “It will take at least a decade to become commercial (perhaps much more), and then at least two decades (perhaps much more) to generate a large share of world power (depending on its degree of superiority to existing sources). But change is coming.”

      I agree that change is coming.

      However, paraphrasing Robert Heilein, genius is where you find it. Also, a lot of people don’t understand that new technology that does not piggyback off older technology, like fusion can, can be extraordinarily costly and take much longer to change. An example is why are railroads a certain size. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/horses-pass/ Snopes says false and goes on about the width of two horses asses without realizing or discussing the nature of the truth of the Roman long distance roads. But then it is Scopes. An engineer would point out that most farm carts were single horse vehicle and yes the military requirements were the determining specification for the the Roman roads.

      Long winded way of pointing out why you have engineers determining and meeting specifications, and not political activists. A good reason why is in the Snopes article about how it affected booster sizes.

    7. John,

      I suggest that you read the post I provided about fusion. Your comment is not relevant to the current state of fusion R&D.

    8. LK, I have read them. I am pessimistic that’s all. I have dealt with technology that is proven in my career. New technology is vaporware until it proves its promise for someone like me. I don’t disagree on its possibility. But judging its possibility is outside my education and experience.

    9. John,

      This is my fault, as my comment wasn’t clear. Too brief (note to self: don’t comment before having the morning coffee).

      (1) Fusion isn’t dependent on “genius.” It’s now an engineering project. It’s a “rule” among VCs not to invest in projects that require genius. That does not mean success is guaranteed, but that it is several milestones past the point at which genius is needed.

      (2) “new technology that does not piggyback off older technology, like fusion can, can be extraordinarily costly and take much longer to change.”

      That’s not really true. The speed at which a new tech spreads depends on both its cost (as you note) and its competitive advantage – vs. existing tech. That’s what enthusiasts for solar and electric cars get wrong. Their competitive advantage is small, with little cost advantage (combining both capital and full lifecycle operating costs) — and limited (solar by geography and e-cars by application). So their rollout will be slow. Unless govts provide large (expensive!) incentives, existing equipment won’t be prematurely replaced and even market share gains in new mfg will be slow.

      But there are examples of new tech that required expensive new infrastructure that was rapidly rolled out. Electric power. From a standing start roughly 1880 (Edison’s bulb was 1879), America’s large cities – and their manufacturing base — weer heavily electrified by 1920 and thoroughly so by 1930. The investments needed were immense, esp as there were several generations of equipment used and replaced during that period.

      Fuson will “piggyback” on the existing power grid. Fusion plants might even use existing steam generators. The speed of their rollout depends on their cost-effectiveness vs. existing grid power generators – and govt policy. If we follow the path of RCP8.5 (the worst case scenario in the IPCC’s AR5), by the late 1920s the ill effects will be obvious – probably pushing massive govt efforts to decarbonize.

    10. LK, I am an engineer, and biologist. Not a claim of authority as much as to give you credentials, and hopefully understanding.

      I am familiar with development. I caution you that until something has proven itself in the field, my pessimism is well founded. I was taught this by engineering professors. “To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design” should be read to understand what can go wrong. In my career, I have found problems with new technology, before it was installed, and with old technology long after it should have been determined.

      Remember the general rule the more complex a system is, the more can go wrong with it, and the longer it will take to debug. This is a human phenomena. Neither the scientists nor the engineers are prescient. That is why I think this statement of yours has problems “That does not mean success is guaranteed, but that it is several milestones past the point at which genius is needed.” This statement assumes genius will not be needed past this point. This may not be true.

      LK: “(2) “new technology that does not piggyback off older technology, like fusion can, can be extraordinarily costly and take much longer to change.”…That’s not really true.” Larry I stated CAN, not will. What follows from you, dependent on what it costs that you state, does indicate that it CAN be as I claimed. I think I should of had my second cup of tea before I posted because I did not include limitations or specifics so that my point was more understandable. I might not have included it anyway since in a way it was extraneous to the discussion.

      We don’t really disagree. Please remember, I was trained to be pessimistic about new technology, and my life experiences have taught me that it is the correct approach to take for someone in my profession.

      Engineers have a saying ” You don’t get half credit if the bridge falls down.” Or ” Cutting edge is bleeding edge” is more popular today.

    11. John,

      “This statement assumes genius will not be needed past this point. This may not be true.”

      You have your opinion about that. The venture capitalists investing tens of millions in fusion disagree with you. I’ll go with their analysis.

    12. I don’t think your opinion is “wrong.” If I was a venture capitalist I would be willing to risk money in fusion. I think you and I may have a different view of risks and expectations.

      I am biased by my profession, I know. But there are reasons that engineers are part of the “show me” group.

    13. John,

      Expectations about future outcomes cannot be right or wrong – until the results arrive.

    14. True, just as one cannot say a solution is viable and just engineering is needed even if the pilot scale behaves as predicted. Operational scale can have large, even intractable problems. It can have problems that show up later that prove it is uneconomical.

      So, I don’t see either of us wrong in our expectations; we are both waiting to see what happens.

  6. Larry, the 1.2 – 2.0C claimed effects on Biology are bewildering to me. In Ecology, we studied succession. Succession occurs for many reasons. It usually does not lead to a decrease in biological quality unless it is such things as monoculture, which is human caused, not succession, over fertilization or severe change in the nutrient limiter for a biome, and other such drastic events. But these are very specific in local and effect. This is not true for most species wrt temperature. There are a few specialized temperature specializations that climate change could effect, but most species adapt over a large range of conditions. My favorite is a rat species that lives in the tropics or where it is cold enough for hibernation. It cannot live in luke warm conditions, cold or hot. Some of the most interesting biomes are the high desert areas of the Andes mountains. In these, there are a mixture of species specific to the area, and others with a large range like the rat. Biomes are so specific, such general claims just don’t add up. Most species that exist now existed in previous interglacials.

    Will the proposed change threaten or end some species, good possibility. Mass extinction is extremely unlikely. From the studies I read in 2009, they model life as a linear response, whereas life responds exponentially to changes in opportunity.

    1. John,

      Your comment is doubleplusungood thoughtcrime. We’re told that more CO2 and the resulting climate change can only have bad effects. That seems impossible (e.g., CO2 fertilization). But that’s the narrative in the major media.

    2. John, perhaps it is just a matter of changing your filter from ecology to aesthetics ;-). Apparently, the appealing creatures will die off and pestilence will remain:

      Why will global warming kill only the cute animals?” by John Robson in the National Post — “Only loathsome species will flourish, according to certain studies. Why? Because ‘rat explosion’ is more alarming than ‘two degrees.'”

    3. Kira,

      I don’t know why, but after 30 years of reading these alarmist articles – I’m still surprised!

      Thanks for posting this!

    4. Kira,

      Fear not that the appealing creatures will all die off! God’s favorite creatures are beetles, and they will survive the coming apocalypse (whatever it is). From About the mass extinctions supposedly occurring now:

      “There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the distinguished British biologist, J.B.S. Haldane, who found himself in the company of a group of theologians. On being asked what one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation, Haldane is said to have answered, ‘An inordinate fondness for beetles.’”
      — “Homage to Santa Rosalia or Why Are There So Many Kinds of Animals?” by G. E. Hutchinson in The American Naturalist, May-June 1959. Hat tip to the Quote Investigator.

      “It has been suggested that we do not know within an order of magnitude the number of all species on Earth. Roughly 1.5 million valid species of all organisms have been named and described. Given Kingdom Animalia numerically dominates this list and virtually all terrestrial vertebrates have been described, the question of how many terrestrial species exist is all but reduced to one of how many arthropod species there are. With beetles alone accounting for about 40% of all described arthropod species, the truly pertinent question is how many beetle species exist.
      — “New approaches narrow global species estimates for beetles, insects, and terrestrial arthropods” by Nigel E. Stork et al. in PNAS, 16 June 2015.

    5. LOL, Thanks LK, Kira, I forgot about that. “That” is the presupposition that evil always wins. But somehow despite being good and noble, these activists seem to think they should win. The irony is so suffocating, when you try to control your laughter. Lungs weren’t meant to inhale and exhale at the same time, or stop altogether.

    6. John,
      Often I laugh, because the claims are so absurd. I am also deeply saddened. I recall a story of a young couple with a child, who ended it all because they couldn’t bear to live to see the planet burn. Children are growing up with a sense of urgent despair because all around them are adults who use fossil fuels. There are consequences to the continual stream of alarm. For some, all of this is very real. I have a friend who believes (?) that we will be living on the ocean in boats, eating seaweed and fish, because the land is too hot to live on.

    7. “Your comment is doubleplusungood thoughtcrime. We’re told that more CO2 and the resulting climate change can only have bad effects.”

      I think you can find many examples of positive effects of higher CO2 and temperature in the scientific literature: CO2 fertilization of crops, earlier/longer growing seasons due to higher temperature, CO2-regulated improvement of water use efficiency, shifting rainfall patterns leading to more water in some desert regions… These are highly regional, and some regions (e.g. the Mediterranean) should come out worse from climate change, but others (e.g. the Sahel) should come out better.

      This research should be easy to find if you know how to navigate the scientific literature, increasingly in open-access (ungated) journals and papers; and it’s sprinkled throughout the IPCC reports. Try looking for “co2 fertilization effect climate change”, “sahel greening climate change” or “co2 stomatal conductance climate change” in Google Scholar. But it usually doesn’t make it into the “narrative” which passes from academic circles to the wider society, so it gets downplayed or ignored.

    8. JP,

      “I think you can find many examples of positive effects of higher CO2 and temperature in the scientific literature …”

      Your quote is incomplete. Let’s replay what you omitted from my comment (emphasis added).

      “But that’s the narrative in the major media.”

      “Major media.” Not the “scientific literature. Please read more carefully before giving corrections about simple matters.

  7. It is highly likely that the environmental movement gaining prominence beginning in the 60’s is the cause of the late 20th century warming. During this time the majority of aerosols emitted came from “fossil fuel” burning in a careless and dirty manner. Continuous improvement in pollution control saw a dramatic reduction in the amount of atmospheric pollution from the then major economies – coal fired power, internal combustion engines etc., etc. This resulted in higher levels of solar insolation due to less aerosol reflection – the clear sky phenomenon.

    This also coincided with a period which commenced in 1944 with the most active solar cycle ever reliably observed by man, closely followed by a dramatically less active one, followed by four record setting cycles, although none as active as the 1944 – 1954 cycle. Clearer skies and more active Sun should be seen as a possibility for the observed warming.

    In the latter part of the 20th century we see the commencement of the industrialization of China and India. By the time of the Beijing Olympics China’s failure to fit pollution reduction equipment to smokestacks of power plants is so obvious to the world. This has been gaining momentum from the late 1990’s and the northern hemisphere atmosphere is beginning to “dirty up” again.

    Coincidence that, despite ever increasing CO2 emissions, the upward trend in temperatures plateaued, albeit at a slightly higher level due to the 1998 El-Niño which probably reflected the increased insolation due to the clear sky phenomenon. Since then the increasing levels of aerosols and the declining solar cycle activity have stopped atmospheric warming except for the release of solar induced oceanic “heat” due to a few El-Niños including the most recent 2 years ago.

    When the ocean warming slows due to the increased pollution in the northern hemisphere – not CO2 – and reducing solar cycle activity it is likely there will be fewer El-Niño events and a lower atmospheric temperature. It takes a long time to heat or cool something as large as the Earth. That’s my partial take on what has occurred over my lifetime, always allowing for temperatures where we live to have been subject to the UHI effect as well.

    As for climate models I state they are always broken because they rely on faulty algebra and a “law” that does not exist. All of the models of the greenhouse effect rely on summing the radiative flux from the Sun to the radiative flux from the atmosphere as shown here :- https://atmos.washington.edu/2002Q4/211/notes_greenhouse.html.

    The model they cite clearly relies on the principles of Blackbody radiation derived from the work of scientists conducting the cavity oven experiments in the late 19th century. “The treatment in the textbook (box on page 43) illustrates the greenhouse effect by assuming an isothermal atmosphere– (an atmosphere that is all at the same temperature) that is perfectly transparent to solar radiation, but acts like a blackbody in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum,”

    Whilst they acknowledge this is a simple model it is the algebra they present which states 239.7 W/m2 solar radiation + 239.7 atmospheric back radiation = 479.4 W/m2 from which they calculate a temperature of 303 Kelvin using the Stefan-Boltzmann equation.

    This is easily proven to be false and I’ll supply the mathematical proof to any interested !!

    1. Kira,

      To better understand the science you would be much better off starting with Wikipedia or the info pages at NOAA. For more info I recommend the the posts by Dr. Judith Curry, or the relevant section of the IPCC’s AR5.

    2. Rosco,

      “It is highly likely that the environmental movement gaining prominence beginning in the 60’s is the cause of the late 20th century warming.”

      There was no substantial 20th century warming until 1977 – – 20 years after the enviro movement began. See NOAA’s global temperature graphing tool.

      As for the rest, write your proof up and publish it. You’ve got a Nobel for sure if its plausible.

  8. This long and learned article is not going to convince the man in the street. Only scientists and the like will read it, and perhaps understand it’s message. No point convincing the scientists. You must convince the ordinary folks.

    You are up against TV and MSM with images and simple prose that depict hurricanes, smog, droughts, floods and sea-level rise, etc. which is easily understood by an average man or woman.

    One should stress the meaningless nature of the statement “pre-industrial levels” We assume that this means the global average temperature during
    pre-industrial period, which is around 1800. How on earth does anyone know the global average temperature in the year 1800? Don’t forget, we are considering GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE – do “scientists” at the time have the resources to do this? All they have is “tree rings”. This is just estimates – not accurate within 1.5º C. Moreover, it’s localised, not global!

    Has anybody read the whole Paris Agreement? There are 29 articles in it.
    Only one article, Article 2, has reference to this 1.5º madness! Apart from this, nothing is said about climate, temperature or CO2 emission!

    1. John,

      (1) “This long and learned article is not going to convince the man in the street. …You are up against TV and MSM …”

      Got to love the inevitable response to every article about reforming American politics: preemptive surrender, confident predictions of failure, etc. This is not the spirit that built America. But it is the thinking of pleasant peasants.

      (2) “Has anybody read the whole Paris Agreement?”

      Yes, I did read it. You appear to be unclear about it. From the front page of the UNFCC website:

      “The Paris Agreement central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

      The Agreement itself is quite clear about this.

      “This Agreement, in enhancing the implementation of the Convention, including its objective, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by:

      “(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change …”

  9. “Yes, I did read it. You appear to be unclear about it. From the front page of the UNFCC website:

    “The Paris Agreement central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
    The Agreement itself is quite clear about this.”

    Where does the Agreement refer to “UNFCC website:” ? Quote me the article. Does it tell you to go to the UNFCC website? Who is “unclear about it”?

    How about my question about “pre-industriel levels”. What’s your answer?

    If your are not going to win over the “pleasant peasants”, who are 99% of the population, your effort will be futile!

    1. John,

      You appear to be aggressively commenting without any knowledge of the subject, which is troll behavior. So I’m moderating further comments. Please click on the links provided here and in my previous comment to learn something.

      “Quote me the article.”

      I did. It refers to the “Convention” which the Paris Agreement is implementing. That is, the Paris Agreement is an agreement to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), signed by parties to the Convention. UNFCCC Secretariat is the executive agency coordinating the activities implementing the Convention, such as the Paris Agreement.

      The UNFCCC website describes all of this in detail. Or you can read the Wikipedia entries for the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.

  10. Nic Lewis paper published on Climate Etc, makes it clear that to move the 1.5C target from laughable to practically unachievable they’ve wave a magic wand and discovered another 30-40% available in the carbon budget. Which to my mind makes the report more of an activist statement rather than anything resembling science.

    In any event, it does nothing to change the harsh realities that Pielke Jnr has been banging on about for a decade or more.

    Three interesting things from the UK.

    1. Some years back the government decided to subsidise the purchase of hybrid vehicles. Lots were purchased by company fleets. Analysis of the charging data has shown that the average mpg was ~40, rather than 120mpg expected if they were used as hybrids. So money completely wasted because almost no-one was actually ever charging their cars.

    2. The government introduced a deal to get people to have their houses insulated to save energy. Big subsidies and a very ambitious scheme to have many thousand homes insulated over a short period of time. Now, it appears that this has resulted in thousands of homes suffering from damp, mould etc. because the insulation was installed improperly by ‘cowboys’ mining the subsidies.

    3. Smart meters. A multi billion scheme that was going to save consumers lots of money and energy. But then it turned out it would only save a few tens of pounds on an average bill, that the software meant it was difficult or impossible to switch supplier. Installation is way behind schedule, and updated software may not be widely distributed for 5 years or more. There are also concerns over the software’s security.

    When there’s and emergency, policy response are usually incorrect, incoherent, and poorly implemented…

    1. Steve,

      “When there’s and emergency, policy response are usually incorrect, incoherent, and poorly implemented…”

      You are generalizing from one case. That’s …inappropriate. Iowa has the highest fraction of electric power from wind of US States ( as of 2014), and one of the lowest average retail costs for grid electric. The State’s isolution program is well-regulated and effective (we just took advantage of it). Their smart meter program works well (we have one).

      We used California’s insolation and smart meter programs. Both were well executed. Their solar incentives are also working well (we didn’t install solar, but know many people who did – as our area was well-suited for it).

      Britain is in many ways a basket case among developed nations. Their collapsing education and health care systems are examples; the incompetent mess of Brexit is another. Hence conservatives love to ignorantly cite it as if it were typical among developed nations. It’s not.

    2. Steve – follow-up comment.

      “they’ve wave a magic wand and discovered another 30-40% available in the carbon budget.”

      That’s nuts. Carbon budgeting is a work in progress, as the IPCC’s AR5 clearly stated. Revising the work is called “science.”

      It’s utility for making public policy is a different question.

  11. Larry
    There are other examples of statists picking a number out of thin air.
    Over in economic policymaking, the tout has been that something awful will happen unless CPI inflation is not kept above 2.0 percent. In the climate promotion the fixation has also been on the number “2”. Something about that 2 degrees above some arbitrary historical level will “fry the Earth”.

    Going away back in fund management, the weighting recommendations were 60 percent equities. And they still are. I was doing a lot of work with pension fund managers, In asking about the 60%, the response was that it was upon advice from the actuaries. The biggest such firm was headquartered in Vancouver and I got to know the guys in research.

    We all know how much statistics and math goes into actuarial work for pension funds. And on the 60 percent equity weightings? Nothing, nada– no number crunching–just out of thin air.
    Bob Hoye

    1. subtle,

      (1) “the tout has been that something awful will happen unless CPI inflation is not kept above 2.0 percent”

      I doubt you can find anything by an economist saying that. The 2% target is a somewhat arbitrary number, but reflects the lead time for a central bank’s monetary policy action to arrest deflationary forces. Since the 1960s, strong arguments have been made for “rule-based” monetary policies. The exact target is somewhat artibrary, but that gives CB policy some useful transparency – allowing better coordination with other actors.

      (2) I don’t know who you were talking to, but after 30 years in that game I can explain. It has nothing to do with “actuaries.” There are several reasons 60-40 mixes used. First, that portfolio mix was developed by experience long before the development of powerful quantitative methods in the 1970s. The primary role of the portfolio mix is to minimize risk so that investors don’t panic and break the strategy during a downturn. That is, for most investors the psychological max equity level is below the purely investment driven equity level. Economists speak of people’s reluctance to invest based on the equity risk premium, because they believe people are rational.

      Most people can tolerate a 30% drop (eg, equities dropping 50%, as they do once a generation or so).

      Quantitative methods using people’s risk tolerances validated that experience. I was on the team at Shearson that developed the second automated financial planning system (a rules-based expert system, cutting edge tech in 1986). We ran countless simulations and found that almost everyone was in the 40-60 to 80-20 range, with 60% stocks the rough average.

  12. I didn’t explain it well. I was writing about my own experience on one facet of weightings.
    Pension fund managers took advice from actuaries in calculating potential demands against potential returns. Sacrosanct stuff.
    They also took advice on weightings and the advice from the actuary was 60% equity.
    I asked the actuary how did they derive the number? Did they have something actuarial that cranked out the number?
    No.
    It was out of thin air.
    Quants came along later.

    Bob Hoye

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