A example of climate activists at work that shows why they lost

Summary: Here is a first-person account of a small but telling incident in the climate policy wars, showing how the methods used by climate activists won battles, but lost the war. Their political power could destroy opponents, but doing so did not convince a majority of the US public. Now Republican gains have closed the door for action by the Federal government and most states, at least for the foreseeable future. The effects could be unfortunate.

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

An Inside Look at the Politics of Climate Science

By Professor Roger Pielke, Jr.
Presented at the University of Florida, 17 March 2017.
Posted with his generous permission.


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An eminent climate scientist describes the frontiers of climate science

Summary: Here is a status report on climate science by an eminent climate scientists, helping us see its frontiers and so better cope with one of the major challenges of the 21st century. (Second of two posts today.)

A new paradigm for assessing the role of humanity
in the climate system — and in climate change

By Roger Pielke, Sr.
Posted with his generous permission.

A note about progress in science

Geological ages ago at Cornell, I learned that science usually takes place on the frontiers of observation. That’s the important insight Thomas Kuhn overlooked in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Freeman Dyson described this hole as “tool- or instrument-driven revolutions.” These are as or more common than paradigm-driven revolutions. Galileo looks through his telescope at the moons of Jupiter and our view of the universe changes. Watson and Crick looked at an X-ray diffraction image of DNA and saw its structure; four years later Watson formulated the “central dogma of molecular biology” and began a revolution still in its early stage.

My guess (guess) is that new observational tools, not just new theories, will end the climate wars. If not, then eventually the changing climate will tell us which side was correct.

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Surprising news about trend of America’s temperature and precipitation

Summary: News stories, in both local and national media, tend to describe climate change as a simple and omnipresent phenomenon. It’s not. Here we look at the surprising trends in US temperature and precipitation, and northern hemisphere snowfall.

Global Warming

There has been global warming during the past two centuries. But activists tend to attribute everything, anywhere, to warming. That’s not accurate. Warming is a complex phenomenon, not an omnipresent force.

Look at the history of the continental US, with one of the longest and most accurate records in the world. It has warmed during the era of human-dominated warming (“more than half of the observed increase in {temperature} from 1951 to 2010 is very likely due to the observed anthropogenic increase in {greenhouse gases}”, per the IPCC’s AR5) at a rate of 0.30°F per decade (0.17°C) — oddly similar to the 0.33°F per decade (0.18°C) since the record began in 1895. But it has not done so smoothly, as activists often imply.

See this is graph of February temperatures, with the blue line showing flattish trend during the 25 years from 1983 to last month

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A GOP carbon tax plan would tempt Democrats to betray America’s workers

Summary: Some prominent conservatives have proposed a bipartisan compromise to break the gridlock on public policies to fight climate change. While unlikely to gain Republicans’ support in its present form, a small change would make it attractive: use the new funds to cut taxes for the rich. It would be a win-win for Republicans, and offer Democrats a harsh choice — gain their most-sought policy goal by betrayal of their party’s core beliefs.

Carbon tax


  1. Proposing the Great Swap.
  2. Origin and reactions.
  3. A Great Betrayal?
  4. For More Information.


(1)  Proposing the Great Swap

A new phase in the climate wars began with “A Conservative Answer to Climate Change“, an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on 7 February 2017, George P. Schultz and JAMES A. BAKER III (both former Secretaries of State) proposed a Federal carbon tax of $40 per ton, with the proceeds distributed back to Americans — combined with loosening of pollution regulations and “adjustments” for the carbon content of imports and exports.

On February 8 the Climate Leadership Council released “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends”. Members of the CLC met with Gary Cohen (Director of the National Economic Council) to discuss their proposal. George P. Schultz and Ted Halstead elaborated on it in an article at the National Review on 28 February 2017 — “Enacting a carbon tax would free up private firms to find the most efficient ways to cut emissions.” From that article…

“According to the Treasury Department and several independent studies, the bottom 70% of Americans would come out ahead if our plan were enacted, meaning that they would receive more in dividends than they would pay in increased energy costs. …our program might be so popular with working-class Americans that it would lead them to support continued increases in the carbon tax to increase their dividends, in addition to promoting the clean-energy alternatives that the vast majority of voters, including Republicans, clearly favor.”

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A look at the future of global warming. Our political response depends on its trend.

Summary: The degree of global warming during the next few years might have large political effects, as the public policy debate appears to be at a critical point in its 29th year (from Hansen’s Senate testimony). Will the pause resume, or will we get rapid warming? Close examination of the monthly data will give us clues about this important question.

Global Warming

How can we see the short-term temperature trend?

There is no one true way to show trends in global temperature. Here are three different perspectives; all give roughly similar results. First, let’s look at a graph by NOAA of the global average surface temperature (their excellent interactive website shows data since the reliable instrument era began in 1880). The time period selected depends on what we are looking for. The following graph shows January’s. It minimizes the overall warming trend, which is concentrated in the months of May, June, & July. Click to enlarge.

The warming since 1950 — the period in which over half of the warming comes from anthropogenic causes — occurred almost entirely in two steps: 1981-83 (near the 1979-83 El Niño period) and 1998-99 (near the 1997-98 El Niño).  Since then climate scientists have shown that the two century-long temperature rise has “paused” (aka the “hiatus”). There are various theories about the cause. Then came the spike of the 2015-2016 El Niño. The peak to peak rise, 1998 to 2016, was only 0.4°F.

What happens next? The El Niño might have been just a spike, after which temperatures will fall back to the 1998-2014 average — and the “pause” continues.  If temperatures don’t fall back to their previous levels, then we begin a new watch. Will the 2015-16 El Niño start another stair step, with temperatures flat at a new high level? Or will temperatures begin a steady rise? The one month anomalies provide an easy if rough way to see which of these three scenarios unfolds, each having different political implications. Unfortunately, climate models cannot yet make reliable predictions for five to ten years horizons

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A climate scientist assesses the threat of climate change

Summary: Eminent climate scientist Judith Curry gives a brief assessment of the threat of climate change, starting from first principles — such as the definition of “risk”. It is a timely reminder, as the debate about the public policy response to climate change moves into hysteria.

“US politics could be focused on preventing climate change from destroying all life on Earth. Instead, it’s focused on Vlad Putin & Nordstrom.”

— David Sirota on Twitter (74 thousand followers). He is a radio host based in Denver, nationally syndicated columnist, and Democratic political spokesperson. He says this often, ignoring those pointing out that the IPCC’s Working Group I’s reports say nothing remotely like that. See his Wikipedia entry.

Global Warming


The ‘threat’ of climate change

By Judith Curry,
Posted at Climate Etc, 29 January 2017.

Posted under a Creative Commons License


A major disconnect in the discourse surrounding climate change is interpretation of the ‘threat’ of climate change.

Last week I attended the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Seattle.  It was a very good meeting …One of the best things about such conferences is the opportunity for extended face to face discussions with other scientists.  I had one such discussion that triggered the theme for this post.  This scientist (who will remain unnamed) does not disagree with me about climate change science in any significant way, although he has more confidence in climate models than I do.  In particular, he has publicly discussed the uncertainty issue.

He doesn’t take the ‘heat’ that I do largely because, in spite of these substantial uncertainties, he makes statements about the ‘serious threat’ of climate change, substantial risk of dangerous or even calamitous impacts,  reducing this risk requires a reduction of carbon emissions.

We both agree that there is the ‘possibility’ of extreme impacts if the warming is on the high end of the model projections.  We agree that we can’t quantify the probability of such impacts; it is best to regard them as ‘possibilities.’

So, what is the differences in reasoning that lead us to different conclusions regarding policy responses?

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Climate activists’ final act, as they move into the last stage of grief

Summary: Trump’s election, solidifying the Republican’s dominance at all levels of the US government, has disheartened climate activists. A new article in The Atlantic attempts to build support, but only shows the weakness of their beliefs. Perhaps the skeptics have won this round of the climate wars, but only the weather will determine which side is correct.

Climate nightmares

For 29 years advocates for public policy changes to fight climate change have struggled to convince the US public to support their agenda. They have failed. Polls show it ranks near the bottom of American’s policy priorities, and the increasingly dominant Republican Party has little interest in their recommendations.

It’s taken a while, but it looks like climate activists have worked through the process of accepting their failure. Paul Rosenberg’s January 2 article at Salon and now Meehan Crist’s article at The Atlantic suggest activists are moving into the fourth stage of the Kübler-Ross process, depression — and their leading edge is moving into the final stage of acceptance — and finding new crusades to wage.

Rosenberg’s article is discussed here. Crist’s article is less interesting, mostly just the usual throwing chaff into debate. But it is revealing in its own way. The opening is a classic tactic by climate activists.

“There has been a subtle shift recently in the rhetoric of many conservative pundits and politicians around climate change. For decades, the common refrain has been flat-out denial — either that climate change is not happening, or that any change is not caused by human activity. Which is why viewers might have been surprised to see Tucker Carlson of Fox News nodding along thoughtfully on January 6 as climate scientist Judith Curry, a controversial figure in climate science, explained, ‘Yes it’s warming and yes humans contribute to it. Everybody agrees with that, and I’m in the 98% [of scientists who agree]. It’s when you get down to the details that there’s genuine disagreement.'”

The first point is an outright lie, evident from her failure to cite any examples. Only a tiny fraction of skeptics believe that “climate change is not happening,.” The climate is always changing. As for the second, there is a fringe among climate skeptics who believe that “any change is not caused by human activity.” But the debate for the past 29 years, since James Hansen warned the Senate in 1988, is and has been about how much of the past warming is anthropogenic — and about forecasts of future temperatures.  That’s true not just of skeptics (both scientists and laypeople), but among mainstream climate scientists as well. Let’s review the evidence, starting with what she said to Tucker Carlson.

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