Tag Archives: climate catastrophe

Manufacturing climate nightmares: misusing science to create horrific predictions

Summary: Scientists and journalists bombard us with news about the coming climate catastrophe, described as certain unless we drastically change our economy. This has plunged many into despair. The hidden key to these forecasts is RCP8.5, the worst case scenario of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report — often erroneously described as the “business as usual” scenario. Understanding this misuse of science reveals the weak basis of the most dire warnings (which set the mood at the Paris Conference), and helps explain why the US public assigns a low priority to fighting climate change despite the intense decades-long publicity campaign.

“We’re going to become extinct. Whatever we do now is too late.”
— Frank Fenner (Prof emeritus in microbiology at the Australian National U); Wikipedia describes his great accomplishments), an interview in The Australian, 10 June 2010.

Climate nightmares

In the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report four scenarios describe future emissions, concentrations, and land-use. They are Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), the inputs to climate models that generate the IPCC’s projections. Strong mitigation policies lead to a low forcing level of 2.6 W/m2 by 2100 (RCP2.6). Two medium stabilization scenarios lead to intermediate outcomes in RCP4.5 and RCP6.0.

RCP8.5 gets the most attention, with its bold and dark assumptions (details here). It is a useful and important scenario, a warning of what might happen if the 21st century goes badly. It should spur us to act. Unfortunately, “despite not being explicitly designed as business as usual or mitigation scenarios” RCP8.5 has often been misrepresented as the “business as usual” scenario — becoming the basis for hundreds of predictions about our certain doom from climate change.

The result of this (part of a decade-long campaign) is widespread despair among climate scientists and more broadly, among Leftists. This misuse of RCP8.5 is a triumph of propaganda, but polls show its ineffectiveness (with climate change ranking at or near the bottom of public policy concerns). Yet each month brings more of the same.

What future does RCP8.5 describe?

“In 2002, as I edited a book about global climate change, I concluded we had set events in motion that would cause our own extinction, probably by 2030. I mourned for months …”
— “Apocalypse or extinction?” by Guy McPherson (Prof Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology, U AZ), Oct 2009.

The RCPs each describe one path to achieving these rates of forcing. The papers describing the RCP’s clearly state their assumptions, allowing us to assess their likelihood and consider specific ways to prevent them. Unfortunately most papers using the RCPs (usually RCP8.5) to warn us of coming climate catastrophes do not do so. This means their discussion of the need to prevent those emissions are unfounded, as are their recommendations of ways to do so.  {Updated text.}

RCP8.5 describes a bleak scenario, a hot and dark world in 2100 (since it’s powered by coal, perhaps literally dark) — even before considering the effects of climate change. Below are the key points, with graphs from “The representative concentration pathways: an overview” by Detlef P. van Vuuren et al in Climatic Change, Nov 2011.

RCP8.5 assumes breaks in long-term trends for population growth and technological change, the opposite of the usual base case for planning. See this post for a more detailed look at it.

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Occupy & Tea Party are alike, both saving America through cosplay

Summary: Collective action is democracy in action, unrestrained by the machinery of the formal political parties. Does the surge in political action of the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party Movement represent a new morning for America, appropriate at the start of a new millennium. Or are these peasants’ protests, venting steam while the 1% build a New America?

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
— Not every movement is a revolution, although you often do time in jail.

Captain America visits the Tea Party

Cosplay as political activism: too much fun?


  1. The Surge of Activism
  2. What we are. What we need to be.
  3. Conclusions
  4. For More Information
  5. The Boston Tea Party was not cosplay


(1) The Surge of Activism

As a result of our increasing affluence and leisure time, plus more retirees, America has more activists than at most times in our history. Americans dedicated to making things better, often taking to the streets.

Some address tangible, local problems. Service clubs: saving stray animals, helping youth, cleaning up parks, organizing unions, etc. Some work to save the nation, like the Tea Party Movement and Occupy Wall Street. Those of the first type are serious, shown not just by the time and money they devote to their projects — but to their results.

What about the second type? It’s a difficult question to answer. How do we measure seriousness of people in political groups, outside the organized political parties? Especially those formed to transform the nation, rather than the limited political platform of established parties?

We can only guess at such things, but we can compare movements like Occupy and the Tea Party with past organizations. Consider the Revolutionary-era Committees of Correspondence, the abolitionist movement, building unions, the suffragette movement, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam anti-war campaigns. What common elements that distinguish these very different groups, making them effective? Perhaps their…

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The IPCC rebukes the climate doomsters. Will we listen?

Summary:  One of the major themes of the FM website is that The End of The World Will Not Occur as Scheduled.  Publication of the new IPCC report sparked yet another round of doomsterism, quite unrelated to its contents. Today we look at the IPCC’s description of the climate science consensus. They warn about the future, but not of an imminent apocalypse. Sometimes the news media explain this well; sometimes they feature doomsters without mentioning the consensus. Here we look at the IPCC report for guidance. It’s quite clear. The consequences of failure to convert to non-carbon-based energy sources will be severe for the second half of the 21st century; but we have time if we start now (which we should do anyway, for sound environmental and economic reasons).

World in our Hands

The world in our Hands



  1. Excerpts from the Summary: the bottom line
  2. Expressing confidence and probabilities in AR5
  3. How much warming during the next two decades?
  4. About the “pause” or “hiatus”
  5. Important things to remember about global warming!
  6. For More Information

(1)  Excerpts from the Summary: the bottom line

This posts discusses the report of  Working Group I, part of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report: The Physical Science Basis: Chapter 11: Near-term Climate Change: Projections and Predictability. This is a draft, because the IPCC adjusts the scientists’ work to conform to the politicians’ desires (political logical always overrides scientific evidence).

This chapter assesses the scientific literature describing expectations for near-term climate (present through mid-century). Unless otherwise stated, “near-term” change and the projected changes below are for the period 2016–2035 relative to the reference period 198 6–2005. …

The projected change in global mean surface air temperature will likely be in the range 0.3–0.7°C (medium confidence). …

It is more likely than not that the mean global mean surface air temperature for the period 2016–2035 will be more than 1°C (1.8°F) above the mean for 1850–1900, and very unlikely that it will be more than 1.5°C (2.7°F) above the 1850-1900 mean (medium confidence).

(2)  Expressing confidence and probabilities in AR5

What makes the IPCC’s work science, not religion or organized ignorance, is that they state their conclusions in terms of uncertainty (comments to the climate posts on the FM website show how discovering this freaks out activists). From footnotes 1 and 2:

The level of confidence is expressed using five qualifiers: very low, low, medium, high, and very high.

In this Report the following terms have been used to indicate the assessed likelihood of an outcome or a result:

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Preparing for the future: should we be precautionary or proactionary?

Summary: We face so many shockwaves — potentially high-impact events, usually estimated at low probability over years or decades (global warming being the exception). How do we assess the danger and decide how much of our scarce resources to allocate for prevention and mitigation of each? Today we look at two ways to assess these risks so that we can prepare better than we do today (easy since we almost nothing today).


Supernovas are bad news if within 50 lightyears of us.



  1. Solution: the Proactionary Principle
  2. Preparing for Shockwaves
  3. For More Information


(1) A new solution: the Proactionary Principle

Excerpts from Max More’s website, Version 1.2, 29 July 2005. Please read the full description and analysis there. It was written by Max More, based in large part on Extropy Institute’s Vital Progress Summit I, 2004 and the Keynote statements and Summit participants.

(a) Summary

People’s freedom to innovate technologically is highly valuable, even critical, to humanity. This implies a range of responsibilities for those considering whether and how to develop, deploy, or restrict new technologies. Assess risks and opportunities using an objective, open, and comprehensive, yet simple decision process based on science rather than collective emotional reactions. Account for the costs of restrictions and lost opportunities as fully as direct effects. Favor measures that are proportionate to the probability and magnitude of impacts, and that have the highest payoff relative to their costs. Give a high priority to people’s freedom to learn, innovate, and advance.

(b) Principle Against Progress

The precautionary principle appears to have originated with the German principle of Vorsorgeprinzip. No single formulation of the principle has been universally adopted. Variations exist between influential formulations, such as those involved in the North-Sea conferences from 1984 to 1995, as well as those expressed in the Rio Declaration of 1992 and the UN Framework Climate Convention of 1992. All versions do have in common three elements:

  1. The possibility of harm to humans or the environment, resulting from a technology or activity;
  2. scientific uncertainty regarding cause-effect relationships; and
  3. the justifiability of taking precautionary measures.

According to the popular and relatively clear version found in The Wingspread Declaration (1999), the precautionary principle states that:

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Fierce words about those “wacky professional climate change deniers”

Summary:  Adversity tests one’s character.  As the global temperature pause continues into its second decade, we can learn much the reaction from the reaction of laypeople committed to belief in a coming climate catastrophe.

Lies do not help the Earth

Lies do not help the Earth



  1. Fierce words from Slate about climate change
  2. The truth is out there
  3. Key things to remember about global warming!
  4. For More Information
  5. A sad photo of a polar bear floating away

This is another in our long series about our leaders’ — Left and Right — discovery that we are easily led by propaganda. When we change so this is no longer true, then reform will become possible for America.

(1)  Fierce words from Slate’s voice about climate change

Debunking the Denial: ’16 Years of No Global Warming’”, Phil Plait (bio here), Slate, 3 December 2012 — Opening:

Oh, those wacky professional climate change deniers! Once again, they’ve banded together a passel of people, 90% of whom aren’t even climatologists, and had them sign a nearly fact-free opinion piece in the Financial Post, claiming global warming isn’t real. It’s an astonishing example of nonsense so ridiculous I would run out of synonyms for “bilge” before adequately describing it.

The Op-Ed is directed to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who has recently, and thankfully, been vocal about the looming environmental catastrophe of global warming. The deniers’ letter takes him to task for this, but doesn’t come within a glancing blow of reality.

The letter itself is based on a single claim. So let’s be clear: If that claim is wrong, so is the rest of the letter.Guess what? That claim is wrong. So blatantly wrong, in fact, it’s hard to imagine anyone could write it with a straight face. It says: “The U.K. Met Office recently released data showing that there has been no statistically significant global warming for almost 16 years.”

This is simply, completely, and utterly false.

Here we have a man whose gods have failed him. A core element of his faith appears false, leaving him no recourse but to denounce those who reveal this unpleasant truth to the world. A thousand words would be insufficient to deconstruct the lies and misrepresentation in Plait’s article.  Most obviously, the letter does not claim that “global warming is not real”, let alone deny that climate changes.

(2)  The truth is out there

Going to the core of his message — despite Plait’s hysterical denials, all the major temperature datasets show the pause in warming.  Many major climate scientists have discussed the pause. Its causes and implications are actively debated in the peer-reviewed literature.  For links see:

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