Why we do nothing to prepare for climate change

Summary:  The results are meager from thirty years of debate about a public policy response to climate change. There is little support in America for action, the IPCC’s AR5 has disappeared from the news, much of the public no longer trust climate scientists, and debate has almost stopped. The weather will determine future policy, not our foresight. But we can see what went wrong and so do better next time – while we wait to see the price we pay for our folly. This is a drastic, and much darker, revision of a post from 2015.

“Thus an extraordinary claim requires ‘extraordinary’ (meaning stronger than usual) proof.”
— From “Zetetic Ruminations on Skepticism and Anomalies in Science“ by Marcello Truzzi in Zetetic Scholar, August 1987.

Scientists tell the UN about the coming disaster in “When Worlds Collide” (1951).
They put forth the data and allowed debate about it.

Presenting at the UN. From "When Worlds Collide" (1951).

Why doesn’t America lead the fight against climate change?

Why does anthropogenic climate change rank low on the list of public policy priorities in most surveys (e.g., these by Gallup and Pew Research) Since James Hansen brought global warming to the headlines in his 1989 Senate testimony, climate scientists have had almost every advantage. Their warnings are broadcast with large marketing budgets (e.g., the expensive propaganda video by 10:10). They have all the relevant institutions supporting them, including NASA, NOAA, the news media, academia, foundations, charities, and even funding from the energy companies (and here), They have support from the majority of scientists.

The other side, “skeptics”, have some funding from energy companies and conservative groups, with the heavy lifting being done by volunteer amateurs, plus a few scientists and meteorologists.

What the Soviet military called the correlation of forces overwhelmingly favors those wanting strong action. Public policy in America should have gone Green many years ago. Why didn’t it?

The burden of proof rests on those warning the world about a danger requiring trillions of dollars to mitigate. That is even more so for remedies proposed by activists, such as a massive decrease in our incomes (e.g., a 9-hour work week) and drastic revisions to – or even abandoning – capitalism (e.g., journalist Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate and Pope Francis’ fiery speeches condemning global capitalism). How have climate scientists met this challenge? Why have activists, building on their work, not convinced the public to support radical action?

This is not about the validity of scientists’ predictions about climate change, but why America has ignored them.

How did scientists alert the world to a catastrophic threat?

Know your place

We have seen this played out many times in books and films since the publication of When Worlds Collide in 1932. Scientists see a threat. They go to the world’s leaders and state their case, presenting the data for others to examine and question. They never say things like this …

“In response to a request for supporting data, Philip Jones, a prominent researcher {U of East Anglia} said ‘We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?’”

– From the testimony of Stephen McIntyre before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (the July 2006 hearings which produced the Wegman Report). Jones has not publicly denied it.

The public has been told that most forms of extreme weather increased in magnitude or frequency during the past three decades. That is false (data here, and here), a fact well-documented by the IPCC’s reports. (I recommend Judith Curry’s new essay about extreme weather.) Steve McIntyre has documented the efforts of climate scientists to keep vital information secret, often violating the disclosure policies of journals, universities, and government funding agencies.

In these films, scientists don’t destroy key records, which are required to be kept and made public. They don’t force people to file Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to get key information. Their response to FOIs is never like this…

“The {climategate} emails reveal repeated and systematic attempts by him and his colleagues to block FOI requests from climate sceptics who wanted access to emails, documents and data. These moves were not only contrary to the spirit of scientific openness, but according to the government body that administers the FOI act were ‘not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation.'”  {The Guardian}

In these films, leaders of science-related institutions state the facts and welcome debate. In climate science they have exaggerated the threat and worked to suppress debate.

“The time for debate has ended.”
Marcia McNutt (former editor-in-chief of Science, now President of the NAS) in “The beyond-two-degree inferno“, an editorial in Science, 3 July 2015. We are already one degree over pre-industrial temperatures. A rise of another degree would not be an “inferno.”

Climate science’s leaders crush dissenters (no matter how well-founded the objections). In this they have the enthusiastic support of activists in the media and other institution (some, not most, climate scientists are activists). Eminent climate scientists such as Roger Pielke Sr. and Judith Curry have had their reputations smeared. For an extreme example, see the campaign against Roger Pielke Jr. in response to his article in 2015 at Nate Silver’s “538” about findings of the peer-reviewed literature and the IPCC about costs of weather-related disasters. These were inconvenient facts and so had to be suppressed. Which they were. Four more years of data further validated the IPCC’s conclusions, yet journalists still report fake news about increased costs of weather disasters. Ross McKitrick tells this sad history in the Financial Post: “This scientist proved climate change isn’t causing extreme weather – so politicians attacked.“

Perhaps worst of all was the deliberate misrepresentation of the policy debate. Activist scientists said that skeptics “denied” the existence of climate change (which is false, and mad), or that they “denied” the existence of anthropogenic global warming and climate change (true only for an extreme fringe). The key questions were and are about the timing and magnitude of anthropogenic climate change – and its future. On those factors depend the nature of the appropriate policy response. This determined smearing of skeptic’s questions short-circuited the policy debate, and eventually poisoned it.

During the past few years, many climate scientists and activists have doubled down on these failed tactics. Stronger denunciation of critics. More extreme headlines such as “Halfway to Hell” in the New Scientist.

These actions by scientists erode trust in their work. This is not how people act when they have a strong case, especially with such high stakes. The warnings about climate change are not a Potemkin Village. But many climate scientists act as if it is one. The resulting gridlock in the public policy machinery is a natural result.

775 degree warming

Case study of a dysfunctional debate: the pause

Starting in 2006 climate scientists began to notice a slowing in the rate of atmospheric warming since the 1997 – 1998 El Niño.

By 2009 there were peer-reviewed papers about it (e.g., in GRL), and the pace of publications quickly accelerated (see links to these 29 papers). In 2013 the frontier of climate science shifted from debate about the existence of the pause to its causes (see links to these 38 papers). That year the UK Met Office published a major paper: “The recent pause in global warming.

From 2008 to 2016, many scientists gave forecasts for the duration of the pause (see links to 17 forecasts). The pause ended with the El Niño warming spike in 2014 – 2016.

While scientists investigated this unexpected phenomenon, activists wrote scores – probably hundreds – of articles not just denying that there was a pause in warming, but mocking as “deniers” people citing the peer-reviewed literature about it. See these by astronomer Phil Plait at Slate (here, here, here and here). The leaders of climate science, even those writing papers about the pause, remained silent while activists lied. While an impressive display of message discipline, it blasted away the credibility of climate science for those who saw the science behind the curtain of propaganda.

There were rare and mild exceptions, such as this in Nature Climate Change, August 2014. Note the scare quotes around pause, referring to is as “so-called” despite that term’s frequent use in the literature. Also, note that scientists “dismiss” journalists’ questions about the pause, despite the hundreds of papers about it.

“Climate science draws on evidence over hundreds of years, way outside of our everyday experience. During the press conference, scientists attempted to supplement this rather abstract knowledge by emphasising a short-term example: that the decade from 2001 onwards was the warmest that had ever been seen. On the surface, this appeared a reasonable communications strategy. Unfortunately, a switch to shorter periods of time made it harder to dismiss media questions about short-term uncertainties in climate science, such as the so-called ‘pause’ in the rate of increase in global mean surface temperature since the late 1990s.

“The fact that scientists go on to dismiss the journalists’ concerns about the pause – when they themselves drew upon a similar short-term example – made their position inconsistent and led to confusion within the press conference.”

Climate Change Couture
By Catherine Young and The Apocalypse Project.

The decay of climate science

Qui tacet consentire videtur ubi loqui debuit ac potuit.
– Roman adage: silence means assent when he ought to have spoken and was able to.

To convince people to fight climate change, they must trust climate scientists. While events during the first 25 years of the campaign made some people skeptical of the need for action, events in the past five years drastically polarized public opinion so that compromise became impossible.

The IPCC’s Working Group I reports (the physical sciences) are the “gold standard” description of climate research and the most reliable statement of scientists’ consensus. But by 2011 activists were saying they were “too conservative.” This became a widespread response by activists to the release of AR5 in 2013 (e.g., Inside Climate News and Yale’s Environment 360). Now activists explicitly attack the IPCC’s integrity, advocating it twist the science to support activists’ agenda. For example, see this March 2019 paper in Bioscience. (Here is a technical, if narrow, look at the issue from a risk management perspective.)

With little pushback by climate science leaders or their institutions, activists ran wild, making claims with little or no basis in science. Fear-mongering became their tool to gain public support. For example, see …

Some activist scientists endorse these claims. Journalists give even wild claims priority coverage. So we get scores of deadlines for action – climate “tipping points” – during the past 30 years, like trolleys passing by. And we get a stream of stories like those described in these posts …

  1. Weather porn about Texas, a lesson for Earth Day 2019.
  2. Terrifying predictions about the melting North Pole!
  3. The Extinction Rebellion’s hysteria vs. climate science.
  4. Daily stories of climate death build a Green New Deal!
  5. Activists hope that fake news about droughts will win.

Activists have succeeded in convincing those people who see climate policy as a means to enact their leftist agenda. They have convinced those who love doomster stories: doom from pollution (1960s), from overpopulation (1970s), from resource exhaustion (1980s), from peak oil (2000s). So the media overflow with people saying things like this …

“If we don’t fix it, then, the Earth will be uninhabitable for future generations.”
— “Early Warnings” by Michelle Nijhuis in the NY Review of Books.

Activists have terrified many young people (the young are always susceptible to simple exciting stories), as in this example of successful indoctrination of children for political gain.

“A student in Wendy Petersen Boring’s climate-change-focused class said she woke at 2 a.m. and then cried for two solid hours about the warming ocean. …Petersen Boring, an associate professor of history, religious studies, women and gender studies at Willamette University in Oregon, has been teaching about climate change for a little over a decade. In that short time, she has watched her students’ fear, grief, stress and anxiety grow.” {From CNN.}

As a group, scientists respond to these exaggerations and misrepresentations of their work with silence. Few defend the IPCC against claims of excessively conservative analysis. Rarely do scientists give even mild rebukes to activists’ climate stories (which are usually ignored by journalists who did not want to ruin the narrative). This silence allowed activists’ stories to displace the IPCC’s assessment reports, despite the vast work to produce them, and dominate the news. Scientists describing the consensus were blown off the news by the thrilling claims of activists.

This is too deep a subject to fully document and explain here. See my posts About the corruption of climate science, and the follow-up The noble corruption of climate science. Also see these articles by Roger Pielke, Jr.

  1. An example of climate activists at work that shows why they lost.
  2. An example of climate activists at work that shows why they lost.
  3. Institutional decay in climate science.
  4. More misreporting of experts’ reports.
Broken stone with "Trust" carved in it.
ID 37813605 © Lane Erickson | Dreamstime.

Consequences of a broken climate debates

“We don’t even plan for the past.”
— Steven Mosher (member of Berkeley Earthbio here), a comment posted at Climate Etc.

Largely as a result of climate scientists’ actions, the US will take no substantial steps to prepare for future climate change. This political gridlock means that we will not prepare even for the inevitable re-occurrence of past extreme weather.

The weather will determine who “wins” the political debate, and at what cost to America – large or small. All that remains is to discuss the lessons we can learn from this debacle so that we can do better in the future.

“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
— Attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson.

For More Information

Climate science is yet another American institution in decay. For more about this trend, see A new, dark picture of America’s future.

For an alternative perspective on these matters, see “Losing Earth” by NYT journalist Nathaniel Rich in the NYT Magazine. Expanded into a book: Losing Earth: A Recent History. See this excerpt. It is a carefully curated history, with all the inconvenient facts omitted. It is all heroes and villains, suitable for indoctrinating children.

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 The keys to understanding climate change and especially see these…

  1. How climate scientists can re-start the public policy debate about climate change – test the models!
  2. Follow-up: more about why scientists should test the models.
  3. A story of the climate change debate. How it ran; why it failed.
  4. The 5 stages of grief for the failure of the climate change campaign.
  5. Let’s prepare for past climate instead of bickering about predictions of climate change – Doing something is better than nothing.

To help us better understand today’s weather

To learn more about the state of climate change see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters & Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr., prof at U of CO – Boulder’s Center for Science and Policy Research (2018).

The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

44 thoughts on “Why we do nothing to prepare for climate change

  1. An example of activists communicating danger to the public.

    Holthaus is a meteorologist.

    Here is his graph showing Greenland Melt extent 1981 – 2010: https://mobile.twitter.com/EricHolthaus/status/1139234563400634368/photo/1

    The good news is that Holthaus uses basic statistics to show the probability of this event, something too seldom done in climate science.. But it is done poorly.

    First, how does a meteorologist state never happened in the ~40-year record as “never happened before”? That’s a material error, one often made by climate activists.

    Second, there are thousands – tens of thousands – of such weather metrics taken daily. Looked at as a whole, a ~3 standard deviation spike is commonplace. Looked at in isolation it is cherry-picking – perhaps the most common fallacy (of both sides) in the public climate debates. But I seldom see this mentioned.

    1. The reason why we do nothing is because global warming has nothing to do with science, it is purely a money making scam for big business and the banks. The so called science is transparent nonsense.

      Global warming underpins a multi trillion dollar, Enron created, carbon trading scam supported by carbon billionaires like Tom Steyer and Jeremy Grantham.


      1. Paisley,

        I know many climate scientists, including some world-class ones who are skeptics. Not one of them agrees with you.

        The debate among people who actually know something about this concerns the relative size of the various natural and anthropogenic forcings, the magnitude and timing of future warming, and the likely effects. On those answer depends the appropriate public policy. Getting those answers won’t be easy, and some key aspects aren’t even being worked on (e.g., model validation using standard tools).

  2. climate change is just a euphemism for global warming. Climate models using CO2 have not been verified and predict too much warming. Water vapor is much more prevalent in the atmosphere and is also a greenhouse gas.
    Throughout history CO2 has not preceded warming—just the opposite. It also doesn’t explain the 4 ice ages in the past half million years.

    1. James,

      “climate change is just a euphemism for global warming.”

      False. First, there are other anthropogenic effects changing the climate. For example, aerosols are cooling the air, melting surface cie, and changing precipitation patterns. Land use is also a big effect, but complex. Second, climate change (technically anthropogenic climate change) refers to the effects of all anthropogenic forcings – which are broader than warming.

      “Climate models using CO2 have not been verified”

      Yes, and that tells us something. See my two posts about this (links in this post), describing one way models could be testing.

      “Water vapor is much more prevalent in the atmosphere and is also a greenhouse gas.”

      The focus is logically on CO2 (and to a lesser extent, methane) because that is what we are releasing.

  3. My personal opinion is the climate change debate has been driven by ideological green activists, go vegan, stop farming meat, abandon fossil fuels, have less children, ect. The mainstream has ignored the issue since it is so large, and is not a vote winner (such a downer) or just plain rubbished the the whole idea as a scam.
    Perhaps if the mainstream parties started to look at alternatives like carbon capture we might get somewhere.
    A first step would be the Republicans acknowledging climate change is happening, and putting forward a positive agenda to combat it, one that would not impose large costs on production. To a simple minded guy like me it seems straight forward, as long as we are taking back out what we put in we are on the way to a solution.
    Once people see a path forward the panic would subside.

    1. Gerard,

      “My personal opinion is the climate change debate has been driven by ideological green activists”

      That is my point. The Greens are driving the campaign now. But climate scientists controlled the debate for the first 20 -25 years, and their tactics (as described here) failed. The second phase consisted of activists taking over – with the silence (complicity) of the leading climate scientists and their institutions. So climate scientists are the key group responsible.

      “one that would not impose large costs on production.”

      First, why? Democrats and activists would immediately condemn it as inadequate, or criminal. That would be a compromise but getting nothing from the other side.

      Second, there are no “solutions” that would not impose large costs on the nation and world. Activists make claims about such things, but they are false.

      1. I do think that the activists voices are so loud because of the void that politics have left.
        Blaming climate scientists now is a bit late, they have there blame, but now we must move forward.

        We are a wealthy civilization, I’m sure we can bear the costs of carbon sequester, but I am not sure people will bear the costs of the Green new deal. So we have two choices I can see.
        Our politicians can engage directly with the issue, come up with a plan of action that does not thrash the economy.
        Or we can abandon the stage to the Greens, who will enact bad policy, or realistically not manage to do anything at all.

        The time has come for sane republicans to start to treat this seriously, its the only way out.

      2. Gerard,

        “Blaming climate scientists now is a bit late, they have there blame, but now we must move forward.”

        I totally disagree. Sensible climate policy is not possible unless climate scientists change their behavior.

        “I’m sure we can bear the costs of carbon sequester”

        I suspect you have no idea how much carbon sequester would cost on a scale to offset emissions.

        “come up with a plan of action that does not thrash the economy.”

        Wishing does not make it possible. That’s not possible.

        “Or we can abandon the stage to the Greens,”

        That’s an extreme case of the False Dichotomy logical fallacy. Reforming climate science makes possible sensible climate policy, a combination of increased R&D, reduced emissions from slow conversion to low-carbon energy sources (etc), and aggressive mitigation (where cost-effective).

        Stronger action requires a better understanding of what lies ahead. That would begin with validation of climate models, something climate scientists have strongly resisted.

        “The time has come for sane republicans to start to treat this seriously, its the only way out.”

        I suggest you read this post. And my previous reply to you, which you’ve ignored.

      3. I just don’t see what your solution would be, I’ve read your posts, and my take way is nothing.
        Your idea is reform climate science… really? how? in what direction? What would reform constitute? How would you reform climate science when it is a global enterprise?
        How would you reengage a skeptical public?

        My position is this issue must be lead by the political system, its far to important to leave to activists and climate scientists to drive the debate into the ground. They can’t pull it back, the trust is gone, there is a large enough body of data out there for government to take up the baton and start to lead on this issue. I’m talking about research and policy.
        As regards cost, yes they are big questions, is the cost of sequester larger than the costs of climate change, is that even quantifiable? how would that change over time? again is this something to trust climate scientists over? I would say no, again its the Government who should be leading on this.

        “That’s an extreme case of the False Dichotomy logical fallacy. Reforming climate science makes possible sensible climate policy, a combination of increased R&D, reduced emissions from slow conversion to low-carbon energy sources (etc), and aggressive mitigation (where cost-effective).”

        I completely agree with your policy mix, again it how you reform climate science?

        For me its turn it into a governmental project, staff it with climate scientists, physicists, chemists,
        geologists. Make sure you have a diverse spread, then test the models. Cern for climate science. If the current system has failed and you lack the ability to deliver reform, then build a new system. If the threat is that great then we need treat it as such.

      4. Nuclear energy does in fact have the potential to replace fossil fuels at little or no added cost to society. Even the production of cost-effective hydrogen from water splitting is feasible if the nuclear technology to power the process is pushed to the limit, through deliberate regulatory and technological rationalization (via the realization that “nuclear doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be better than everything else”).

        With fossil fuels replaced across the board by nuclear fuels, achieving a zero carbon carbon economy that would stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations without imposing large costs is within reach.

        If on the other hand only “green” energy is permitted, then I agree that there is probably no way to avoid imposing large costs. Hence, such an approach would falter sooner or later, long before achieving anything.

        The only credible way to solve climate is to deploy a comprehensive and cost-effective replacement of fossil fuels and only nuclear energy appears to be inherently powerful enough to be that replacement.

      5. Joris,

        You are correct about the potential of nuclear power. But the long history of the nuclear power industry has killed it for the foreseeable future. See End of a dream as the nuclear power industry dies.

        It’s not just in the US. Last July the French utility Électricité de France (EDF) said its first third generation reactor, the 1.6-GW Flamanville 3 project, will not start-up until at least the second quarter of 2020 (original date: 2012) — and increased cost estimates for the project by another €400 million (USD $467.1 million) – triple the original estimate. Source.

        Construction of Finland’s Olkiluoto 3 Nuclear Power Plant began in 2005 and was scheduled to start in 2009. Current plan is for it to start in 2020, at three times the original cost. Plans for a fouth unit have been cancelled. Reuters, Wikipedia.

  4. Largely as a result of climate scientists’ actions, the US will take no substantial steps to prepare for future climate change. This political gridlock means that we will not prepare even for the inevitable re-occurrence of past extreme weather.

    Agreed with this, the two, weather and climate change, have got so confused in the public mind that there’s a sort of gridlock preventing intelligent measures which are needed to cope with extreme weather events, whether or not there is significant human caused climate change, and regardless of how serious it is, if it does exist.

    I would take issue a bit with your question, and give a different answer. You ask:

    Why doesn’t America lead the fight against climate change?

    Its partly because its not at all clear that America could do any such thing. If you think about it, America is doing about 5 billion tons a year CO2 emissions, out of a world total of 37 billion. So there are two ways it could act, one is to reduce its own emissions. But this would have little or no direct effect. It would only have an effect by force of example, or as part of a series of international commitments by the other emitters.

    The US example has no force however. And all the evidence is that the other emitters mean to increase. In the case of China, their increases are not only visible in the recent data, and in their sponsorship of coal fired power stations all over the world, they are even baked into their public planning assumptions. If you put together their plans for growth of GDP with their targets for carbon intensity per unit of GDP, you find that the 10 billion they now emit is planned to rise to somewhere in the region of 15 billion. India also is increasing its emissions as fast as it can – or rather, its growing its economy as fast as it can, with the consequence of increased emissions.

    So one answer to the question is that there is no fight against climate change to lead, and America cannot cajole or force the world into waging one.

    A second reason is that the things the advocates want to do in America will not in fact even lower America’s emissions. There is no evidence that installing wind and solar even on a grand scale will make any material difference to emissions. No-one has got there from here. And perhaps a third reason is that the advocates shy away from advocating what would really be necessary to make significant reductions in emissions.

    You cannot get there from here by changing out ICE for electric cars, charged from wind and solar, and leaving everything else the same. You’d have to close down the auto industry itself, move the population into dense walk to work or transit to work housing – which would have to be rebuilt to be heated and cooled with less energy, cut down on consumerism, close the suburbs and malls…. Close down lots of other industries besides the auto industry.

    And, if you were really serious, you’d have to advocate that China should reduce, not increase. Get down from 10 billion to 2 billion or so. You will find no advocate, even those predicting armageddon, prepared to advocate this, and when someone says in any of the forums that its necessary, there is a howl of rage. Its like claiming that the world needs to get down to zero emissions, but refusing to consider that China emitting 10-15 billion tons a year is totally incompatible with that. They are so hung up on America being the source of all evil that they just won’t admit that China is, mathematically, if they are right, the leading threat to human civilization on Earth.

    So American isn’t leading the fight for this reason too – the advocates are not prepared to advocate doing what it would take, and only advocate ineffective, feel-good, local measures that will not scale.

    I don’t myself see any evidence that any catastrophic warming is coming down the track. But I also see no signs from their behavior that the advocates really believe what they are saying. Its just self indulgent posturing.

    Its a moral panic. Its lasted a lot longer than many of these, but like the others, it will fade away in time and in this case the final killer will be the continued refusal by the rest of the world to take it seriously and reduce emissions. And the American activists’ refusal to even advocate effective measures.

    1. Henrik,

      “Agreed with this, the two, weather and climate change, have got so confused in the public mind that there’s a sort of gridlock ”

      No, that’s not what I said. The gridlock results from the failure of the climate change campaign to gain sufficient support. That gridlock means that the course of future weather – what we see each day – will determine climate policy (i.e., policy will be reactive).

      “But this would have little or no direct effect.”

      That’s not what leadership means. It does not mean solving the global problem by our own efforts. It means taking steps that address our contribution to the problem, developing tools that others can use, and exhorting others to follow.

      1. Larry,

        Thanks, that is some story with the cancelled hearing on the Hill. Political football and exploiting children for political gain.

  5. This is the issue where I feel you have changed my mind the most, Larry. I am 100% in support of your position.

    The bad news is I have had little success in getting anyone I engage with to understand my new view of the subject, because it is so far outside the current narratives. I will keep trying!

    1. Christopher,

      This is a key aspect of our problem: we’re locked into partisan narratives are somewhat irrelevant to our situation – and don’t well match reality. Our new cold war with Russia is an extreme example.

      This is what happens when a people check out, putting down the burden of self-government and reading the news for entertainment. I fear this will not end well for us.

      1. Your second paragraph sums up the other point you have converted me on. It’s also a tough sell as an idea.

        But hey, Trump won. So, obviously our pre-conceptions about what is possible are not always correct. Also, faith can be a great spur to action. I believe we can change things, and fear is a good spur in the short term, but long-term action usually needs faith. It’s something I’ve been working on for myself, as I certainly have a tendency to despair. But I have to believe the Republic can prevail to keep myself motivated to fight for it.

        If it’s a delusional belief, at least it keeps me on task.

  6. So Larry, what is the penalty of a slowly warming world for the human race?

    So far, there is no increase in extreme weather, fires, floods, droughts etc. of any sort. In fact virtually all relaated metrics are stable or going down.

    No statistically significant change in SLR.

    We remain well within range of the guestimated ECS.

    Unfortunately, the media contines to espouse, nearly impossible, RCP 8.5 type of hype in an effort to scare folks into action while the planet greens and potentially opens up areas for agriculture and habitation. The drive for centralized and globalized energy control is what should be feared most.

    I find hypocrisy rampant in climate science responsiveness. Burning wood pellets and not counting emission from such in the EU is just one example. Shunning a near emissions free technology like nuclear power is another. Deploying unreliable wind and solar, basically clearing land and destroying the ecosystems activists wish to save in the process, is another. Wind and solar, even at scale, contribute a miniscule amout towards the global energy demand per the IEA.

    To date, I see is no viable proposition to accomodate the desires of the climate activists. What I see is not about climate, but about the politics of control.

    I don’t see the climate threat, only a threat from consistently poor performing models. IMHO

    1. Ossqss.

      “what is the penalty of a slowly warming world for the human race?”

      Scientists – in all fields – use models to answer questions like that. If we follow the path in the RCP8.5 scenario (i.e., emissions continue at their current rate thru the 21st century), the consequences are probably (depending on the assumptions for key variables, such as climate sensitivity to CO2) horrific.

      “No statistically significant change in SLR.”

      I think you mean “no stat signif acceleration in SLR (rate at which sea level is rising). That’s a debated question, probably to be resolved in the next few years. So far as I know, all scientists working in that field expect an acceleration if emissions continue on their current path.

      “Unfortunately, the media continues to espouse, nearly impossible, RCP 8.5 type of hype in an effort to scare folks into action”

      Sad but true. I’ve written a lot, as have others, about the misuse of RCP8.5 – the worst-case scenario used in AR5.

      “I find hypocrisy rampant in climate science responsiveness.”

      I agree, but it does not bother me. People are hypocritical. People who are not we call saints.

      “What I see is not about climate, but about the politics of control.”

      That nails it.

      “I don’t see the climate threat, only a threat from consistently poor performing models.”

      I know a lot of climate scientists. None agree with you. The questions are, as usual in both science and risk management, about magnitude and timing. Unfortunately, those are the key answers we need to set policy. Worse, climate scientists are not focusing in a reliable manner on the policy-relevant questions – despite being mostly funded by the public.

      1. Climate science wouldn’t fool a dog.

        ‘Freeman Dyson: Climate Change Predictions Are “Absurd”

        Ivar Giaever (Nobel Prize in physics)

        Global Warming Revisited: climate science is pseudoscience.

        A perfect example of what Pauli referred to as ‘not even wrong’.

      2. From the Guardian, following climategate. James Lovelock’s excoriating view of modern climate science.

        Transcript of James Lovelock’s interview with Leo Hickman, from The Guardian, 29 March 2010.

        Lovelock’s reaction to reading about the CRU emails [he later clarified that he hadn’t read the originals].

        I was utterly disgusted. My second thought was that it was inevitable. It was bound to happen. Science, not so very long ago, pre-1960s, was largely vocational. Back when I was young, I didn’t want to do anything else other than be a scientist. They’re not like that nowadays. They don’t give a damn. They go to these massive, mass-produced universities and churn them out. They say: “Science is a good career. You can get a job for life doing government work.” That’s no way to do science.

        I have seen this happen before, of course. We should have been warned by the CFC/ozone affair because the corruption of science in that was so bad that something like 80% of the measurements being made during that time were either faked, or incompetently done. …

        On the over-reliance on computer modelling.

        I remember when the Americans sent up a satellite to measure ozone and it started saying that a hole was developing over the South Pole. But the damn fool scientists were so mad on the models that they said the satellite must have a fault. We tend to now get carried away by our giant computer models. But they’re not complete models. They’re based more or less entirely on geophysics. They don’t take into account the climate of the oceans to any great extent, or the responses of the living stuff on the planet. So I don’t see how they can accurately predict the climate. It’s not the computational power that we lack today, but the ability to take what we know and convert it into a form the computers will understand. I think we’ve got too high an opinion of ourselves. We’re not that bright an animal. We stumble along very nicely and it’s amazing what we do sometimes, but we tend to be too hubristic to notice the limitations. If you make a model, after a while you get suckered into it. You begin to forget that it’s a model and think of it as the real world. You really start to believe it. …

        On climate sceptics.

        We’re very tribal. You’re either a goodie or a baddie. I’ve got quite a few friends among the sceptics, as well as among the “angels” of climate science. I’ve got more angels as friends than sceptics, I have to say, but there are some sceptics that I fully respect. … The good sceptics have done a good service, but some of the mad ones I think have not done anyone any favours. Some of them, of course, are corrupted and employed by oil companies and things like that. Some even work for governments. …

        There is one sceptic that everyone should read and that is Garth Paltridge. He’s written a book called the Climate Caper. It is a devastating, critical book. It is so good. This impresses me a lot. Like me, he’s convinced that if you put a trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which we will have done in 20 years’ time, it’s going to have some nasty effects, but what we don’t know if how nasty and when.

        If you look back on climate history it sometimes took anything up to 1,000 years before a change in one of the variables kicked in and had an effect. And during those 1,000 years the temperature could have gone in the other direction to what you thought it should have done.

        What right have the scientists with their models to say that in 2100 the temperature will have risen by 5C? There are plenty of incidences where something turns on the heat, but temperatures actually go down perversely, before eventually going up. A cold winter may mean nothing, as could 10 cold winters in a row. The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they’re scared stiff of the fact that they don’t really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing. They could be absolutely running the show. We haven’t got the physics worked out yet. One of the chiefs once said to me that he agreed that they should include the biology in their models, but he said they hadn’t got the physics right yet and it would be five years before they do.

      3. Paisley,

        Thanks for posting that! Lovelock is a brilliant guy – an MD who has done significant work in other fields (eg, inventing the electron capture detector). At 90 when he gave this interview in 2010, he is one of science’s wise old man.

  7. Gerard: “A first step would be the Republicans acknowledging climate change is happening, and putting forward a positive agenda to combat it, one that would not impose large costs on production.”

    That is a telling comment. Gerard implicitly assumes that the only argument against drastic action is denial of facts, presumably because Republicans are bad people. The he reveals that his true agenda is to decrease production; climate change is just a justification to push that agenda.

    1. Mike,

      “Then he reveals that his true agenda is to decrease production; climate change is just a justification to push that agenda.”

      We only know what Gerard says, and he says the opposite: “an agenda …that would not impose large costs on production.” That is a fantasy, of course. The nations that have devoted vast resources to fighting climate change (e.g., Germany) have gotten only little (or sometimes nothing) in emission reductions). And they have not tried anything remotely as speculative (and expensive) as large-scale carbon sequester.

      But propaganda rules in the climate policy debate. Experts, such as those on the IPCC, are pretty much ignored. Activists spin fun stories, which people like Gerald believe.

  8. “But propaganda rules in the climate policy debate. Experts, such as those on the IPCC, are pretty much ignored. Activists spin fun stories, which people like Gerald believe.”

    Sorry no, I’m not sure what you guys are talking about? Did you even read my posts? nevermind guys, its the internet.

  9. Oops. I misread what Gerard wrote. Mea culpa. I suppose one could say that I revealed my agenda.

  10. I am at the beach, so posting a little off and on.

    For me, the reason we have such a poisonous discussion is well documented and reasonable. Your “How did scientists alert the world to a catastrophic threat?” to “The decay of climate science” are the historical path of a dysfunctional discussion. My opinion is that it became dysfunctional because, Climate Change, after the scientists got it fleshed out, was pursued to ultimately only include the activists and governments, and those who agreed with them. As some of the environmentalists have posited, I agree that Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) is a failure of the commons. But it also appears that the commoners were excluded from the discussion.

    Paul Slovic, Baruch Fischhoff, Sarah Lichtenstein

    “People respond to the hazards they perceive. If their perceptions are faulty, efforts at public and environmental protection are likely to be misdirected. For some hazards, extensive statistical data are readily available; for example, the frequency and severity of motor vehicle accidents are well documented. The hazardous effects of other familiar activities, such as the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, are less readily discernible; their assessment requires complex epidemiological and experimental studies. However, even when statistical data are plentiful, the ‘hard” facts can only go so far towards developing policy. At some point human judgment is needed to interpret the findings and determine their relevance…

    Once the analyses have been performed, they must be communicated to the various people who actually manage hazards, including industrialists, environmentalists, regulators, legislators, and voters. If those people do not see, understand, or believe these risk statistics, then distrust, conflict and ineffective hazard management are likely.”

    They have other studies that examine the communication of risk which is where I was introduced to their work. I was trained in Risk Management Communication using a manual they developed for industry when we had to hold public meetings on the dangerous chemicals at our site that the PSM regulation required. Interestingly, what the IPCC and the activists have done in the ACC discussions. The foremost of which was to be candid, open, honest, and if you did not know, state such.

    IMO, the measure of success for the ACC position should be the estimated increased time it took to go sour, and how close they came to obtaining government regulation of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. Because, they did so much and so often what I was trained against, it is amazing they accomplished what they did. One of the fundamentals, was do not use the louder, more often instruction method. To get buy in one needs to communicate, not dictate.

  11. Hansen’ et al 1981 non-quantitative bait and switch paper attributing to a spectral GHG filtering the trade off of gravitational and kinetic energy manifest as the lapse rate perhaps marked the end of the application of quantitative physics in this grossly retarded branch .

    You can either Understand Newton or Believe AlGore .


      1. What’s an “actual scientist” ? Here’s my vita , http://www.cosy.com/BobA/vita.htm . You decide .

        Nothing matters other than the testable computable equations . You can see the current status of my understanding at http://cosy.com/#PlanetaryPhysics . We can start by seeing if we agree on http://cosy.com/Science/ComputationalEarthPhysics.html#EqTempEq , the computation of equilibrium temperature as a function of object and source and sink spectra which I presented at http://cosy.com/Science/HeartlandBasicBasics.html showing the quantitative absurdity of Hansen’s claim that Venus can be explained by some equationless , demonstrationless GHG heat trapping .

        I have far more general priorities evolving http://www.cosy.com/CoSy/ , the language , to be able to succinctly implement things like a planetary physical model , but a number of people have certainly worked thru all the pieces if not the whole chain , and a number have shown that above a certain density , pressure , the measurable consequence of gravity , explains temperature profiles for all planets , whatever their atmospheric composition .

      2. Of course I’m not asserting anything other than classical physics . If you know anybody who is capable of talking in terms of testable equations , please have them either confirm my expressions or tell us the correct ones . As I say at http://cosy.com/#PlanetaryPhysics , I’m just “Seeking an executable understanding of the differential in a voxel
        because mapping it over a sphere is rather trivial in an APL like CoSy” .

        Experimental confirmation — or not — of these calculations is a reason I’ve been pushing a Ritchie Prize http://www.cosy.com/#RitchiePrize for the best YouTube demonstration of relevant physics .

        The point is , in terms of basic enabling testable quantitative classical physics , this field has been inexcusably retarded — and it has done horrendous damage to the K-12 teaching of science .

        So , please , if you know any physicists capable of discussing these issues in terms of testable equations — since after all this is just a branch of applied physics , please have them review my expressions .

        It’s time the rigor of classical physics — which in another branch , semiconductors , has moved the prefixes from mega to giga to tera in the same time there has been absolutely NO progress in this field : http://cosy.com/Science/AGWppt_UtterStagnationShavivGraph.jpg .

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