climate change

Why I write about climate change

There has been an energetic exchange of comments about climate change on the blog over the last couple of weeks. It has sprawled across a number of posts, some relevant, some not. So here’s a post specifically for discussing climate change.

I’m adding this post precisely because this is not a climate change blog. It’s a blog about justice, about good ideas, creating a better future, ending poverty, reforming politics, re-inventing economics, managing resources. It’s about how we live well in the face of the series of crises that will define the 21st century – just one of  which is climate change.

To me, climate change is part of the reality we face.

Here’s why:

  1. The earth has warmed by over 0.5 degrees in the last century. With the exception of 1998, all of the top ten warmest years on record have occurred in the last decade. You can argue about why, but there’s no question that the climate is changing.
  2. The science behind the greenhouse effect is very basic and well established. The ‘greenhouse’ term itself was coined in 1827, demonstrating the heat-trapping effects of CO2 in a lab is 9th grade physical science. CO2 levels are 38% higher than the pre-industrial age.
  3. Applying those principles at the planetary scale is the unfinished work of climatologists, glaciologists, meteorologists, geologists, and plenty more besides. Despite the protestations to the contrary, the world’s scientific community is in broad but not unanimous agreement that there is a correlation between warming and CO2 emissions from human activity. Statements to that effect come from the UN, the EU, every G8 country, and the National Academies of China, India, and dozens of others, including Sudan, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
  4. Despite this general agreement, the science isn’t certain. Almost all responsible scientists acknowledge this, saying that carbon emissions are “likely” to be the leading factor in a changing climate. Since planetary processes play out over centuries, “likely” may be the best we ever get.
  5. If the anthropomorphic climate change hypothesis is correct, the consequences would be severe. It could destroy the economy, wreck agriculture across the southern hemisphere, put some of the world’s biggest cities at risk of flooding, and leave future generations with a destabilised and unpredictable world.
  6. Therefore, waiting for settled and conclusive science is not a luxury we have. As the writers of Climate Safety put it: “While we need a more sophisticated understanding of many earth processes, and while our computer models need more computing power and require further refinement, it would be the height of folly to wait until we had resolved these shortcomings before taking steps towards reducing the risks to which the situation is exposing us.”
  7. This unfortunately forces us into the uncomfortable position of having to move fast without all the facts, something none of us want to do. It means we need to be bold but not reckless, we need humility, a spirit of cooperation, and an awareness of a common good not only across geography but across time too. There are significant risks to the kinds of actions being proposed to mitigate against climate change, but the risk of not acting is much more severe.
  8. It goes without saying that the solutions themselves do not set us up for equal misery – this isn’t about ‘saving the planet‘ at the expense of humanity, but making the environment safe for everything that relies on it. It is also vital that our climate solutions work to fix rather than exacerbate the inequalities of the world. Climate change is a moral issue and a matter of justice, where the consequences fall hardest on those least responsible. Our responsibility is to re-create our way of life in such a way that we will not regret our actions, even if anthropomorphic climate change turns out to be a false.
  9. That presents us with opportunities for new and dynamic projects, and there is no one solution. We must both mitigate and adapt, and this needs to be done at every level: individual actions, community resilience, free market mechanisms, national strategies, and international agreement. This responsibility falls to this generation, the way that previous generations have faced down the dehumanising ideologies of fascism and then communism. Like those problems, addressing climate change will require us to transcend old political divisions and put aside competing national interests. It may also require personal sacrifice, although thankfully nobody needs to lay down their lives this time around.
  10. Ultimately, the goal is a sustainable future for us all. As this blog aims to communicate, our way of life is unsustainable from a social and an economic point of view as well as environmentally. Acting conclusively to protect the climate can and should be done in the context of resource depletion, overconsumption, pollution, biodiversity loss, poverty and inequality.

That’s the paradigm I’m writing from. I’ve numbered my points so you can respond to them specifically if you wish. If your query lies outside my argument (with the details of climate science for example), there are other sites better equipped to hold that debate.


  1. The core insight in Jeremy’s position is well caught in the title – “Make Wealth History” [MWH]. The discourse generated by MWH seems to have been generally comfortable with the “Contraction and Convergence” [C&C] concept for UNFCCC-compliance, initiated 20 years ago by GCI.

    C&C is ‘Climate-Justice without Vengeance’ and although not yet decisive, C&C has a lot of support these days: –

    However, getting to this has been [and remains] an uphill struggle. The word ‘Contraction’ [within which ‘Convergence’ is inevitable] has the difficult economic implications of re-localisation.

    Even if we are only overtly talking about the GHG emissions accelerating climate change, the CO2:GDP correlation is still very high and difficult to break.

    I may have been wrong, but I have always assumed that MWH – as a title – was in some measure a response to “Make Poverty History” [MPH] and so for this particular reason I wondered it MWH was going to incur the ‘uphill struggle’ for facing that difficult issue.

    MPH has now reformed as “Stamp Out Poverty” [SOP] and ‘this part of the difficult issue’ exists because the ‘Stop Climate Chaos’ [SCC] and the SOP NGOs are led by Corporate Green CEOs in Greenpeace and OXFAM for example, who certainly don’t campaign for MWH. On very high salaries, they campaign for a concept I now call “PCC” [Promote Climate Conflict].

    Their shop-window for PCC is the velvet-glove sounding “Greenhouse Development Rights” [GDRs]. However, back at the till, their iron-fist is that the USA, the UK et al are to ‘blame’ and must now be ‘confronted’ and forced to accept: –

    [a] ** ‘negative emissions entitlements’ by 2029 ** to create more fossil-fuel-dependent ‘development space’ for countries like China and India and

    [b] they must also pay ‘reparations’ for having created the ‘climate-crisis’ with the last 200 years of their GHG emissions.

    Of course politics has always been rich with the ridiculous but this proposal has as much chance of getting a climate-deal thats stops climate-chaos as Tinkerbell has of surviving a day in a blast-furnace. The US Senate woudn’t even endorse Kyoto and they, and many others who did, won’t now renew it.

    Consequently, the poor and their poverty along with the rich and their wealth, will surely be stamped out by climate conflicts and chaos tha will ensue, if this ‘blame-game’ continues unchecked.

    C&C is Mandela’s model of ‘truth and reconciliation’ and ‘climate-justice without vengeance’. It is classic simultaneous policy: –
    It is urgently needed and has much support: –

    With good reason, rhetorical and structureless alternatives don’t**:

    However, this lack of support is from the loudest advocates of these alternatives including the Charitable GONGO CEOs dominating the SCC & SOP.

    Far from ‘Making “Wealth History’, CEOs [from OXFAM for example] run private equity firms [yes] and pull ‘charitable’ salaries are in excess of $100,000/yr. [yes] while they ‘shake the tin’ and also have personal carbon-footprints of around 100 tonnes Carbon/yr
    . . . .
    *** Global GDP 2010 – $60 trillion
    Global carbon emissions 2010 – 6 billion tonnes
    $100,000 [@ $1,000/tonne] = 100 tonnes carbon

    They also ‘policed’ [yes] the recent Glastonbury Festival to ‘stamp out protest’ from UK Uncut about Bono’s tax-dodge to Holland [unbelievable].

    1. Yes, I think Contraction and Convergence is the only fair way to guide an international process towards sustainability. It allows development for the poor while reducing emissions in the industrialised countries.

      The title Make Wealth History was indeed chosen as a counterpoint to Make Poverty History, to suggest that in a finite world, ending poverty would only be possible if we also ended extremes of affluence. The very idea of ‘contraction’ remains anathema to mainstream politics and economics, and I guess that’s why most charities and campaign groups steer clear of it.

      1. Looking at your Bullet Points.

        1. Actually 1934 was the warmest according to NASA’a recent admissions. “According to the new data published by NASA, 1998 is no longer the hottest year ever. 1934 is. Four of the top 10 years of US CONUS high temperature deviations are now from the 1930s: 1934, 1931, 1938 and 1939, while only 3 of the top 10 are from the last 10 years (1998, 2006, 1999). Several years (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) fell well down the leaderboard, behind even 1900.

        2. Yes the properties of Co2 are well known. What is also well known is Co2 alone cannot account for observations without the Assumed Water Vapor feedback. The evidence for this feedback is strangely missing. 38 million weather balloons failed to detect the Tropospheric Hot Spot AGW predicted. They also measured a decrease in humidity that is counter to AGW theory.

        “The core idea of every official climate model: for each bit of warming due to carbon dioxide, they claim it ends up causing three bits of warming due to the extra moist air. The climate models amplify the carbon dioxide warming by a factor of three – so two thirds of their projected warming is due to extra moist air (and other factors), only one third is due to extra carbon dioxide.”

        Trouble is empirical evidence shows a decrease in moist air and no tropospheric warming.

        1. 3. There is alot of good correlated evidence showing far stronger links to Solar forces than Co2. Solar and planetary cycles have very clear signals in the empirical records. Co2 is a player but only a bit player.

          4. Actually planetary forces are on multi decadal scales that correlate to sunspot and climate cycles. There are some very long timescale galactic effects that correlate to our passage through the spiral arms of the galaxy.

          5. Big if. No credible empirical evidence has been presented supporting Co2 Warming. A very poor correlation in fact a negitive correlation of Co2 and observations.
          “Clearly the US annual temperatures over the last century have correlated far better with cycles in the oceans and sun than carbon dioxide. The correlation with carbon dioxide seems to have vanished or even reversed in the last decade.”

          There has been no disernable trend in the last century for increases in extreme weather. Alot of noise but no real trend.

          6. The fact that it has not warmed for over 16 years and all signs point to a pending 30 year cooling trend. The rush to act to prevent catastrophic global warming seems a little unfounded.

          7-10. These seem to be based on assumptions that have yet to be proven. The points about “needing” to do these things whether AGW is real or not and precived moral issues of wealth redistrabution falls in the “Post Modern Climate Science” camp.

          This sounds alot like The referenced paper by Hulme and Mahony. “Climate Change: what do we know about the IPCC?” Hulme, also author of the recent book, Why We Disagree About Climate Change. Is a key proponent of what is called “post-normal science” , a postmodern narrative that consists of a complete perversion of standard scientific practice that he supports in order to propagandize for his socialist agenda.

          If these sorts of political and enviromental policys are desired they should be sold on their own merits not with lies and deceptions dressed up as science.

          The IPCC has already stated they are about “Redistrabuting” Co2 rather than reducing it. The “Science” and enviroment are secondary to the political goals.

        2. 1. No Amirlach, 1934 is the hottest year in the US, not the planet as a whole.

          2. Nobody’s claiming CO2 is the only factor.

          Not sure where you’re getting your information on the Troposphere. It was believed that it was warming slower, or even cooling, in the 1990s. More recent studies have shown errors in those findings. Try here:

          3. Solar activity does affect the temperature, but the steep rise in temperature cannot be explained by solar activity alone. If you compare solar activity and temperature, you’ll see they diverge quite dramatically from the mid seventies onwards, as the effects of CO2 overtake the effects of the sun.

          4. Multiple cycles are at work, some centuries long, others faster – solar cycles last a decade or so for example.

          5. Since we’re talking about global warming, can I see some global data please. This is US data again.

          6. Not true. The 2000s are the hottest decade on record.

          7-10. You missed my risk management point entirely. I suggest you put aside your assumptions of socialism (I’m not a socialist) and read those last four points again.

          1. 1. There is some debate about exactly which year is “Hottest” by tenths of degrees. The point is 1934 is before man’s Co2 was supposed to be much of a factor at all. 1943 is the year man’s co2 began to accelerate. And it’s about the time temperatures dropped for 30 years. Remember the Global Cooling scare of the 70’s? Then there is the MWP, Roman and Minoan Warm periods.

            2. Right but claims are that Co2 is the largest driver. Claims not supported by empirical evidence.

            3. The mid 70’s “Divergence is based on the Fraudulent application of data in the ACRIM Gap. Re: The Judith Gate Scandal. As i have covered else where. Co2’s effects are grossly overstated by the provably false miss aplication of ACRIM Gap data by the IPCC’s sole solar Scientist.

            4. These solar orbital cycles correlate with climate cycles much better than Co2..

            5. The data for the US clearly shows the lack of correlation between Co2 and observations. While true they are for the US. Do you think the Global data will be alot different? Or the Correlations invalid?

            6. Phil Jones has admited there has been no statistical warming since 1995. Hottest decade maybe, not increasing and very likely now decreasing. It looks as though this graph is accurate in it’s projection, so far. As we enter a cold PDO phase and the solar cycle 24 data suggesting the start of a lower energy state for the Sun. We should know who’s correct in the next few years.

            7. The last four points are irrelivant to the scientific debate around AGW IMO. They are based not on empirical evidence as science should be but on social and political concepts.

        3. Amirlach: I could go through your points here, but will only respond to your first cherry picked point (NASA allegedly saying that 1934 was the hottest year). Here is what NASA actually published:

          “For 2010, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature tied with 2005 as the warmest such period on record, at 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). 1998 is the third warmest year-to-date on record, at 0.60°C (1.08°F) above the 20th century average.”

          And so on. And so on.

          1. “ Here is what NASA actually published.”

            Giss is not credible.

            Giss uses NOAA data which is already “Adjusted” then “Adjusts” it some more.

            Lets first look at the NOAA adjustments to the data. “The cumulative effect of all adjustments is approximately a one-half degree Fahrenheit warming in the annual time series over a 50-year period from the 1940’s until the last decade of the century. ”

            Lets look at this a little closer. “It would appear that the temperature rise profile claimed by the adjusted data is largely if not entirely an artefact arising from the adjustments applied (as shown in Figure 3), not from the experimental data record. In fact, the raw data does not in any way support the AGW theory.”

            Figure 5 is the raw data without adjustments. ” This is an extremely serious issue. It is completely unacceptable, and scientifically meaningless, to claim experimental confirmation of a theory when the confirmation arises from the “corrections” to the raw data rather than from the raw data itself.”

  2. Jeremy,

    It is my understanding that there is a consensus for the main facts, with no credible argument against them: that the climate is changing because of human greenhouse gas emissions. There is some argument as to what small percentage of it is a natural change in the Earth’s climate, but the data shows that overall our change is too rapid and extreme to be natural by a far stretch.

    The way science works, there is never an absolute agreement – there are people out there still trying to disprove aspects of gravity and relativity – but when you have 95% of the worlds top, credible scientists saying, “The world is getting warmer, we are changing the climate, and we can’t predict exactly what is going to happen – just that it will happen and be bad for life on Earth,” that should be enough. If 95% consensus isn’t enough to make a decision on something, we would never get anything done.

    Then there is the whole risk analysis argument, which I like even better. The risk here is collapse of civilization and, likely, the ending of a lot of life on Earth (both human lives and others). So, when they say that stabilizing the climate at the 2 degree mark gives us a 50-50 chance of avoiding the worst, I have to say that’s not good enough when we’re talking about the end of human society as we know it.

    I’ve been reading Paul Gilding’s The Great Disruption and he lays it out pretty well.

    I’ve stopped trying to “debate” with deniers about whether or not climate change is happening or if we are causing it, because it is a pointless argument. You either understand basic science or you don’t (or don’t want to, it is a scary fact after all). It’s been well established for nearly 30 years now, it’s not a new idea and the data is pretty overwhelming, so I’m ready to talk about solutions and mitigation.

    Anyway, keep up the good fight!


    1. The so called 97% Climate Concensus is a laugh. There is in fact alot of credible evidence against this “Concensus”. It’s called the “Empirical Record”.

      “However, close examination of the source of the claimed 97% consensus reveals that it comes from a non-peer reviewed article describing an online poll in which a total of only 79 climate scientists chose to participate. Of the 79 self-selected climate scientists, 75 agreed with the notion of AGW. Thus, we find climate scientists once again using dubious statistical techniques to deceive the public that there is a 97% scientific consensus on man-made global warming; fortunately they clearly aren’t buying it.”

      The data shows that the changes are well within “Natural Variability” ranges not “Too Rapid or Extreme”. In fact the changes have been far less rapid and extreme than past events long before mans Co2 emmisions were of any note. And you should also note there has been no Warming for over 16 years. Solar Cycle 24 looks like a return to Muander type minimum. Ocean rise has slowed. They have been caught fudging the data. Oceans are cooling rapidly. “For the 10-year period ending April 2011, the cooling trend accelerates to a very significant minus 12.9°F per century rate.”

      According to NOAA’s 2008 State of the Climate Report the AGW Theory has been Falsified at the 95% level after 15 years of no warming. It’s been over 16 years 4 months.

      There is strong “correlation” between observed temperatures and Solar forces. “The main thrust of his paper is the overwhelming references that point to a quasi-60 year cycle in the Earth’s climate system that correlates and lines up with the observed solar movements about the SSB (solar system barycentre). The same principles of the 4 outer gas giants as seen in my recently published paper are employed and there is a lot of symmetry between both areas of research. Nicola is prescribing an astronomical driver to our climate cycles and I am nominating the same solar system dynamics as a driver of solar output.”

      The solar planetary links can account for around 65% of observevations. Then there is the Cloud link. A preview of a soon to be released Paper regarding the results of CERN’s CLOUD Experiment. Which pertains to the effects on Cosmic Rays on Cloud formation and it’s effects on Climate.

      1. Lets look at how well Co2 Correlates to observations compared to other natural causes like PDO and Solar.
        “Clearly the US annual temperatures over the last century have correlated far better with cycles in the sun and oceans than carbon dioxide. The correlation with carbon dioxide seems to have vanished or even reversed in the last decade.”

        ” Since temperatures have stabilized in the last decade, I looked at the correlation of the CO2 with HCSN data. Greenhouse theory and models predict an accelerated warming with the increasing carbon dioxide.
        Instead, a negative correlation between USHCN and CO2 was found in the last decade with an R or Pearson Coefficient of -0.14, yielding an r-squared of 0.02.”

        Given the recent cooling of the Pacific and Atlantic and rapid decline in solar activity, we might anticipate given these correlations, temperatures to accelerate downwards shortly.”

        ” You either understand basic science or you don’t (or don’t want to, it is a scary fact after all). It’s been well established for nearly 30 years now, it’s not a new idea and the data is pretty overwhelming, so I’m ready to talk about solutions and mitigation.”

        The data is “Overwhelming”, there is very poor correlation between observations and AGW theory.

        30 years and billions spent and the best “Evidence” the IPCC can produce is “Models and Theory”, when presented with empirical data that refutes those, they can only point to model results.

        “The scientific position and ability of PIK scientists during that meeting was rather weak. Whenever they had to agree that observation do not show any special increase neither in extreme weather, temperature nor sea level and so on, they mentioned: ‘But our models show…’ “
        “That their science is weak ought not be a surprise. What else could one possibly expect from a science that ignores observations and relies on models?”

        The Recent debate between the IPCC’s team PIK and Skeptical EIKE highlights the Alarmists alarming lack of Empirical evidence supporting their claims above..

      2. This comment was caught by the spam catcher because it had too many links, just a note for future reference. I nearly didn’t authorise it, because you’re actually repeating most of the same points you made above, the sun, no warming for 16 years, etc. If you want this to be a debate you need to wait for a response before posting something again.

        On the 97% thing, it was an article in a magazine if I remember correctly, and is fine if you take it on it’s own very limited terms. But since I’m not quoting it and neither is Josh, who is making a more general point, it’s not relevant to the discussion here.

        1. Looking for solutions is great. There are many problems with economics and enviromental issues that need solving.

          You need to know and understad root causes before you can hope to affect positive outcomes. If man didn’t cause this Climate he will be unlikely to solve it.

          1. The key to ‘solutions’ in this ‘climate-change-instance’ is ‘UNFCC-compliance’.

            This means very simply that we have to solve this problem faster than we are causing it.
            This requires the unit-of-measurement to be C&C [carbon-per-person-per-unit-time-subject-to-the-limit-imposed-by-the-UNFCCC].

            After twenty years at the UNFCCC negotiations, the opposite remains true, we are causing it faster than we are responding to avoid it and that we’ve managed to do even without the sceptic-carnevale.

            All problem with ‘economics’ are now a function of that second point where: –

            [a] the unit of measurement is ‘money’
            [b] which grows with increasing momentum and velocity
            [c] in any direction that is judged to increase those [portfolio-diversity]
            [d] and mere lip-service is paid to C&C
            [e] even though it required by definition for UNFCC-compliance
            [f ] because C&C is positioned as a function of money
            [g] and not vice-versa as needed

            Did you mention ‘understanding root-causes’?

            That’s the root cause that needs understanding as a preliminary to the positive outcome of UNFCCC-compliance.

            Perhaps you agree.

          2. Yes, I was making a simply point that there is enough of a consensus to take it seriously. Even if, as your spin-site says, there is only a 79% consensus among these scientists that is still a super majority if it came to a vote – so it should be enough to concern us. This is the fate of the human race (and the rest of life on Earth), so I’ll take the science thanks.

            amirlach, where do you get your funding for prowling sites like this? Is it a conservative agenda alone that has you posting such ridiculous sources and facts or is there a big corporation (perhaps oil?) that’s helping you out here? Frankly, I’m tired of this kind of pandering – fear and denial while we further delay saving our children’s future.

    2. Yes, I find the debate to be depressingly circular, and this is supposed to be a blog about solutions. At the moment I can’t talk about solutions without a flurry of comments demanding I justify the problem, so this is an attempt to clear the air.

      From here on, any skeptical queries can come here first, and save later posts for other discussions.

      1. The Title Clearly say’s “Why i write about Climate Change”. You seem to want instead to discuss “Solutions” which could be a topic of a seperate thread. As these seem to be more social and economic points of view defined by political ideoligy rather than by science.

        You cannot discuss Climate Change without actually discussing it.

  3. We have moved on. CO2 concentrations are now over 390 ppmv and rising at 2ppmv/year. The momentum in this rise virtually guarantees that there is now no chance of avoiding a more than 2 degree Celsius average global temperature rise.

    Sceptical arguments will persist indefinitely about all this, but they should be taken in parallel with solutions [as preferred] rather than in a sequence dictated by scepticism first.

    The UK Climate Act already exists to deal with these rising ppmv. It is emissions Contraction and Convergence [C&C]. It is like-it-or-not ‘the law’ in the UK, for sceptics and non-sceptics both. Sceptics primarily need to get rid of the Climate Act if that’s what they want.

    The only ‘problem’ with the Act is that it is the ‘the right principle’ at ‘the wrong rates’ as both rates are ‘too slow. The contraction rate [“2016 4% Low] is too slow to avoid exceeding two degrees Celsius and the convergence rate [2050] is too slow to get international agreement, not least because 80% of the emissions budget is used before convergence completes: –

    There will be no international deal on climate change at COP-17 this December when the one-sided Kyoto Protocol expires. This is considerably because that – by definition – sceptics don’t ‘win’ arguments. They simply to sow enough doubt to ensure that nobody else does either.

    If sceptics don’t like C&C, which they are welcome to dislike: –

    They might want to take a look at [and get their teeth into] the more rhetorical and extreme alternatives like GDRs which all the ENGOs are apparently getting behind. ENGOS are determind to change the UNFCCC into a sort of ‘Climate Versailles Treaty’ with the US in the role of defeated Germany after WW1, paying reparations to everyone while they are forced to crash their economy to negative GHG emissions entitltments by 2030.

    Hitler and WW2 followed Versailles – God knows what might come now – WW3?

    1. Aubrey: “This means very simply that we have to solve this problem faster than we are causing it.”

      My point is that first you need to prove we are the cause of the “Problem” before you can have any hope of solving the problem.

      Rushing past the facts to a social and political Solution to what is increasingly looking to be Natural Variability in the Climate is a failing strategy. Recent polls and election results prove that.

      I don’t disagree there are major problems with overconsumption and unsustainability, mostly in the areas of big government’s, tax, debt and spending to solve “Problems” real or imagined.

  4. amirlach,

    Proof is everywhere, and the data is overwhelming. I’ll point you to If you still don’t believe that it’s happening with easily accessible data like or the IPCC, then surely the increases severity, frequency, and unpredictability of weather around the world should be enough. Again, it’s a risk analysis – the risks are far too great to sit around debating any longer. Civilization, millions (perhaps billions) of lives, every economy on the planet is at risk here.

    Election results are not a good metric for public opinion, especially when you take into account large companies (like big oil and coal companies) effecting the elections and controlling the candidates. This is a fact, not an exaggeration. Polls indicate that the major of people (for instance, in the US 75-80%) believe climate change should be a high priority and are scared for their future.

    Government is no bigger today than it has been in the past, that’s a conservative spin on the facts.

    And if you still disagree on all that, keep your head in the sand and the rest of us can try to make progress.

    If you agree there are major problems with overconsumption and unsustainability (140% of the Earth’s capacity being used each year and rising) then you should agree that we need to take action to change these things. By doing so we will make changes to mitigate/slow climate change. First, we need to give up the unsustainable and idiotic belief in continued economic growth – that’s done with (has been since the 80’s, we’re just burning up our “savings” now).


    1. “Proof is everywhere, and the data is overwhelming.” Uhh… sure. That’s why the IPCC had to fudge the numbers and with hold data. IPCC has zero science credibility sorry.

      Or why no “Overwhelming Data” could be presented at the recent debates only “models”?

      “First, we need to give up the unsustainable and idiotic belief in continued economic growth – that’s done with (has been since the 80′s, we’re just burning up our “savings” now).” Or give up on the idiotic idea that of continued deficit spending will solve any problems. Remember the redistrabutive system failed first. Well it never really worked ever.

      What savings? Government might not be Bigger but they sure spend at an “Unsustainable” rate.

      This talk of burning up our “Savings” is interesting but “off topic”. ” If Obama inherited anything, he inherited it from himself.
      In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is I inherited a deficit that I voted for and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20th.”

      1. By savings I’m talking about our natural capital – we’re burning through the savings account (trees, oceans, fresh water, oil, minerals, etc) and each year that means we get less interest and spend even more unsustainably. Again, this is a metaphor, so stick with me.

        We are living in overstretch, 140% over the capacity of the Earth to support us.

  5. Jeremy:

    Thanks for this interesting and thought-provoking post. I agree with much of it but, as you know, not all. However, I’m not interested in pursuing that now. I agree with your comment about how the debate on this thread is getting “depressingly circular”. So, yes, let’s consider solutions and goals and, as you say, “how we live well in the face of the series of crises that will define the 21st century – just one of which is climate change”.

    You mentioned “the reality we face”. But you missed what I believe are the two most important realities:


    The world is no longer interested in climate change. Copenhagen, Cancun and now the recent Bonn conference show there is not the slightest prospect of mankind limiting GHG emissions. The reason for this is evident: the green strategy was hopelessly framed from the outset. The idea that all nations would unite around a legally binding and fully enforceable global treaty was absurd. If even the US Congress cannot agree about the way forward, what chance is there that other countries will do so – especially the developing economies, now the greatest emitters, who are determined to maintain their economic growth? The answer’s obvious. So, unsurprisingly, there is no global treaty and GHG emissions continue, and will continue, to accelerate at an extraordinary rate.

    That’s the reality. To believe otherwise is to inhabit dreamland. And dreamland is not the place to determine global policy.


    The only thing we can be sure about the twenty-first century is that the crises we face will be unexpected. They always are: no one in 1911 had the slightest idea of the horrors to come as soon as 1914. Yes, we may face damaging climate change – or we may not. If we do, it may be because of rising temperatures. Or possibly – and worse – global cooling. We don’t know. We may face calamitous natural disasters: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis – even asteroid strike. We don’t know. Perhaps there will be a massive global pandemic. Or a nuclear disaster – even war. Or there may be economic meltdown worse even than that recently experienced. Or increased terrorist activity or huge population migrations.

    Or, just as likely – something totally unexpected.

    For those of us living in the UK, the only matter over which we may have some – albeit limited – influence is what the UK should be doing in the face of these two clear realities.

    And that, I suggest, is what we should be discussing here.

    1. “If even the US Congress cannot agree about the way forward, what chance is there that other countries will do so – especially the developing economies, now the greatest emitters, who are determined to maintain their economic growth?”

      Robin – the US Senate [not the Congress] is the part of the US legislature that sanctions International Treaty arrangements involving the US. In 1997 USSS passed the ‘Byrd Hagel Resolution’ 95 votes to 0 [5 Senators were absent] requiring all countries to be on the accounts for emissions control with either reduction or limitation commitments. BHR still governs the US position at the UNFCCC to this day: –

      C&C satisfies BHR requirements and the US asked for help getting support for this in the 6 months prior to COP-3 which was achieved and a C&C deal was nearly agreed in principle at COP-3: –

      If you merely now, 15 years on, contemplate all the calamities you list above with a sense of ‘what should we do about these’ while also saying there’s nothing we can do about them, what’s to ‘dicsuss’? You appear to have decided one way or another we’re done for.

      Who knows, you may be right . . . and with the help of a little Jack Daniels . . . you could still die laughing and sooner than you think . . . what do your kids think of that?

      1. Jeremy and Aubrey:

        Do you disagree with my analysis?

        Specifically: (1) Do you think there’s a realistic prospect of a legally binding and fully enforceable global treaty to restrict GHGs? And (2) Do you think we have any realistic idea of the crises we will face in the twentieth century?

        And I most certainly do not think there’s is nothing we should – or can – be doing in the face of these realities. As I said, I’m interested in solutions and goals. But, before I go into that (and I will if you wish), I’d like to hear your answers, with reasoning, to my two questions.

        And BTW it’s my children and grandchildren I’m most concerned about.

        1. Robin, I disagree with both. Yes, an international treaty looks unlikely right now, but that is not the only way to tackle the problem. There is plenty more we can get on with in the meantime at the individual and community level, and the more action there is, the more the government needs to pay attention and get their act together. We’re in a democracy, right? In theory, the government follows people, not the other way round.

          Second, of course there will be unforeseen crises, but we have a very realistic idea of some specific crises. Climate change is one. Expensive oil is another, and the depletion of resources. The possibility of wars over said depleting resources. Unpayable debt, both public and private, in both rich and poor countries. Inequality, and the chances of that bubbling over into social tension. Deforestation, overfishing, soil erosion. We’ve had decades of warning on almost all of these. Are you seriously saying that none of these are real, and that there is nothing we can do to prepare?

          This blog is about those issues,and the many, many things we can do to prevent and adapt. You say you’re thinking of your grandchildren, but I find it extraordinary that you give so much of your retirement to undermining those trying to make the world a safer, healthier place.

      2. One of the reasons i’m opposed to rushing off and attempting to Fix things before all the data is in could be that very often these actions do more harm than good simply because your going to do the wrong things.

        Austrailia prepared for exteme drought then ended up with flooding. The UK MET has been terribly wrong on their seasonal forcasts for years now. Not enough Road Salt and too many Barbeques.

        As we prepare for Global Warming we might in fact be heading for the opposite.

        Will cutting Co2 emisions sell when the Thames Freezes over?

        1. Australia had both drought and floods, and it would have made sense to prepare for both, since Australia has experienced that combination before. It’s not unusual – floods often follow droughts, because dry and compacted ground doesn’t absorb rainwater as well as moist earth.

          No, cutting CO2 wouldn’t sell well on a frozen thames, but my main response to climate change is to build resilience, which is what Transition Towns are all about. A more resilient community would be better prepared for extremes of heat or cold, a natural disaster or even a recession.

        2. Here is a thorough response regarding “the opposite”:

          On the effect of a new grand minimum of solar activity on the future climate on Earth
          by Georg Feulner and Stefan Rahmstorf
          Received 29 January 2010; accepted 5 February 2010; published 10 March 2010.

          [1] The current exceptionally long minimum of solar
          activity has led to the suggestion that the Sun might
          experience a new grand minimum in the next decades, a
          prolonged period of low activity similar to the Maunder
          minimum in the late 17th century. The Maunder minimum
          is connected to the Little Ice Age, a time of markedly lower
          temperatures, in particular in the Northern hemisphere.
          Here we use a coupled climate model to explore the effect
          of a 21st‐century grand minimum on future global
          temperatures, finding a moderate temperature offset of no
          more than −0.3°C in the year 2100 relative to a scenario with
          solar activity similar to recent decades. This temperature
          decrease is much smaller than the warming expected from
          anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the
          century. Citation: Feulner, G., and S. Rahmstorf (2010), On the
          effect of a new grand minimum of solar activity on the future climate
          on Earth, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L05707, doi:10.1029/

          The paper is available HERE:

          Long term weather and seasonal forecasts will not be possible – not more than it is possible to predict the trajectory of an individual water molecule in a heated water pot. It is possible, though, to predict the temperature and properties of the assembly.

          1. ” Here we use a coupled climate model to explore the effect of a 21st-century grand minimum on future global temperatures, finding a moderate temperature offset of no more than −0.3°C in the year 2100 relative to a scenario with solar activity similar to recent decades.” Models again?

            Both Dr. Georg Feulner and Prof. Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf were at the EIKE vs PIK debates. Where they could do little but explain how although the Empirical Data did not support AGW theory the “Our Moldels tell us…”

            Models or Data?

            And more recently the National Solar Observatory (NSO), the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society. “This is highly unusual and unexpected,” Dr. Frank Hill, associate director of the NSO’s Solar Synoptic Network, said of the results. “But the fact that three completely different views of the Sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.”

            “Hill is the lead author on one of three papers on these results being presented this week. Using data from the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG) of six observing stations around the world.”

            “We expected to see the start of the zonal flow for Cycle 25 by now,” Hill explained, “but we see no sign of it. This indicates that the start of Cycle 25 may be delayed to 2021 or 2022, or may not happen at all.”

            Predicting climate would be impossible untill you look at the right data.

    2. Another related and interesting topic is why there is no longer “Global interest in climate change”.

      I have my ideas, which i’m sure you know are based on the rush to act on an issue before it’s proven to be an issue. That and the failure of many of the overly alarmist predictions.

      On one hand you say “waiting for settled and conclusive science is not a luxury we have”. It would be the height of folly to wait until we had resolved these shortcomings before taking steps towards reducing the risks to which the situation is exposing us.”

      Yet we cannot with any certainty know what these “Risks” are or even if we could possibly effect a change in the outcome untill we have conclusive results.

      I’m sure you have other interesting ideas as to why interest is fading. Like funding from big oil?

      1. I think there’s a very simple reason why people are less concerned about climate now than they were four years ago – the financial crisis.

      2. amirlach: Is that actually true? Here in Germany the interest is still high, but like with other well established issues it is not constantly in the Media. Transforming the energy supply system and other practical issues get more direct attention. And globally… where shall we look. Greece, Spain? Financial crisis, 40% youth unemployment, exploding interest rates that suffocate the economy… Or Egypt: exploding food prices earlier this year, a government facing bancruptcy (largely because their domestic oil supply and consumption lines crossed earlier this year), uprisings, high unemployment rates… if your children run hungry you don’t care much about long term planetary problems – no matter how devastating they may be. And other regions… Japan: shall we discuss why they currently have other issues on their mind? And, perhaps, China: I am not sure what the level of interest in climate change issues is in China, but no matter what it is: it may well be related to government information policy at large. Otherwise I am not sure at all if the interest dwindled more than is to be expected owing to the simple fact that the topic has been around for more than two decades. Just as people don’t talk that much about relativity theory or space traveling or heart transplants. All this happens to be part of our cultural makeup. It’s there. It is generally accepted. That’s my perception and experience.

        Oh, and speaking about China: today the Tagesspiegel titled “Doppelter Klimawandel in China” / “Double Climate Change in China”: “Kein Land investiert mehr in erneuerbare Energien als China, im vergangenen Jahr waren es 54,4 Milliarden Dollar.” –> “No other country invests more in renewable energy than China, 54.5 billion Dollar during the past year” (Tagesspiegel, Berlin, June 29, 2011)

  6. Robin, if – as you say – its your kids and grandchildren you’re most concerned about [good], then get back into the fight for God’s sake.

    If I didn’t think [1] that a global enforceable treaty on GHG’s for UNFCCC-compliance wasn’t – even yet – possible, I wouldn’t have spent the last twenty years making an effort to establish and to recruit for C&C.

    As for [2] we’ll [somebody] will deal that [or try and deal with that] in a forum other than UNFCCC.

    We may yet fail but its not written in the stars – yet – and even if we do, those who cry [in the words of Louis McNiece]: – “I am not yet born, Oh Hear Me!” will know that we [you and me and all-of-us worth their salt] . . . we heard you and we died trying to make a better life possible for you.


  7. Aubrey: that’s very eloquent. I too am a devotee of Louis McNiece. But a better life – for my children and grandchildren – is possible only we face cold reality, however harsh or unwelcome it may be. And the reality is that a legally binding and fully enforceable global treaty to restrict GHGs is, and always was, impossible. There is no prospect of humanity reversing its age-old divisions and of nations surrendering their immediate best interests. China and India, for example, are racing ahead with vast economic expansion based on fossil fuel derived energy. As a result, they are rapidly becoming the world’s dominant economies and, in the process, are lifting hundreds of millions of their people out of poverty. Just look at their CO2 emission statistics – they’re increasing at an astonishing rate. They
    have no interest in limiting their economic growth. Nor have the other developing economies that are following suit. Add to that the developed economies that will not sign a Kyoto replacement – the USA, Japan, Russia, Canada. And can you imagine Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi, Myanmar or South Africa being interested? It’s plainly a lost cause.

    But it always was. A vastly expensive treaty, administratively nightmarish, dependent on cooperation between powerful conflicting interests and differing agendas was always going to be unworkable. Who would have done the massively detailed and intrusive economic monitoring, regulation and verifying? Who would have imposed sanctions for backsliding? Who would have enforced those sanctions? No institution on earth has – or would be allowed to have – that power. It can never happen.

    That’s why Copenhagen Cancun and Bonn were failures. And that’s why the world has lost interest. I’m sorry, Aubrey, but it’s best to come to terms with this.

    1. I tend to agree with Moon on the Free Market solutions and inovations on the page Aubrey linked to. Free markets seem to find better solutions to problems faster than governments. I think because you have so many different people a vested interest in finding solutions that are practical and cost effective. What those problems are we likely don’t agree on.

      I also agree with Robin that a Global Treaty is very unlikely. The world has trouble coming to a concensus on issues like removing guy’s like Kadafi.

      The paradoxical thing about the developing nations industrialising is they will begin to stabilise populations by reducing birth rates. Without immigration we have a negitive population growth.

      1. It was using these words and so in this context [DAVOS 2010] that Moon said we need a free market revolution . . . so Amirlach are you saying you agree with all of this or his words about climate change are wrong and just the ‘free-market’ bit is right?

        “For most of the last century, economic growth was fuelled by what seemed to be a certain truth: the abundance of natural resources. We mined our way to growth. We burned our way to prosperity. We believed in consumption without consequences.

        Those days are gone. In the twenty-first century, supplies are running short and the global thermostat is running high. Climate change is also showing us that the old model is more than obsolete. It has rendered it extremely dangerous. Over time, that model is a recipe for national disaster. It is a global suicide pact.

        So what do we do in this current challenging situation? How do we create growth in a resource-constrained environment? How do we lift people out of poverty while protecting the planet and ecosystems that support economic growth? How do we regain the balance? All of this requires rethinking.

        Here at Davos — this meeting of the mighty and the powerful, represented by some key countries — it may sound strange to speak of revolution. But that is what we need at this time. We need a revolution. Revolutionary thinking. Revolutionary action. A free market revolution for global sustainability.”

        Elsewhere Moon and ~ thirty other luminaries [in June 2009] said through ADB . . . .

        “The framework of contraction and convergence provides a flexible methodology to address the problem of allocation of emission rights. The contraction of overall world emissions pursued along with the convergence of countries’ average per capita emissions, allows developing countries to partake of the carbon budget. The per capita entitlements approach is an effective one in that it takes into account historical responsibility and is based on the egalitarian distribution of the commons, within which international justice positions of causal responsibility such as the ‘polluter pays principle,’ come in.”

        . . . so again Amirlach, are you saying you agree or disagree with this?

        Subjecting C&C to the ‘free-market’ test needs to sensibly framed. There’s no such thing as a ‘free-market’. All markets have rules. However, Kyoto’s ‘market-based-framework’ has clearly failed while C&C’s ‘framework-based-market’ is work in progress.

        There is a substantial body of opinion from the left and the right, the top and the bottom, the North and the South, ethics/faith to efficiency/policy who regard climate change as a major challenge and C&C as a sensible response: –

        It strikes me that since you appear not to believe there is a climate problem, what any body says about solutions will be considered daft. However, that also works in reverse. If there is a problem and yet there is no solution, the only thing left is to daftly assume there isn’t a problem, grab the JD and hope for the best . . .

        1. I am saying a dissagree with most everything else the man was saying. As for your C&C i’m in Robins Camp being very sceptical this could now ever be implimented. It simply sounds like another social justice redistrabution scheme. These have a worse record of success than the Alarmist Predictions.

          The track record for alarmist predictions of AGW doom is quite bad. Based on models that can’t accurately depict or predict the real world climate or make any accurate forcasts you are expecting people to belive they are proof that man is causing “Global Warming”.

          The whole theory is based on a mere 20 years of correlation with Co2 and temperature rise. The period from 1978 to 1998. Prior to that we had cooling from 1952 to 1978. No significant warming since 1993, or 17 years.

          “Given that man-made CO2 output did not really begin in earnest until after 1950, even few alarmists will attribute the runup in temperatures from 1930-1952 (a period of time including the 1930′s Dust Bowl) to anthropogenic CO2. This means that the only real upward change in temperatures that could potentially be blamed on man-made CO2 occurred from 1978-1998.”

          “This is a very limited amount of time to make sweeping statements about climate change causation.”

          Pro AGW proponents need to downplay Natural Forces to explain the short warming period as being man made. We can look to them to support observations of warming and cooling both. And indeed we find the data supports it.

          You have yet to establish the climate is un-natural, or that we have any hope or ability to effect changes in the natural Solar Orbital forces that do drive our Climate.

          1. C&C is simply a global proposal to help negotiators *pre*distribute [not *re*-distribute] emissions entitlements internationally, subject to the global limit imposed by the ‘objective’ of the UNFCCC and the requirement to achiveve that objective.

            As signatories to the UNFCCC, Country-Parties to it have been negotiating for seventeen years from an agreed position that there is a problem. The challenge they have not yet risen to is how to differentiate and share the extent of GHG emissions-control that is required to resolve that problem and meet that objective.

            C&C is a proposal to make it [hopefully] a bit easier for them to do that.

            If you feel that the ‘failure’ at the UNFCCC to rise to that challenge is proof of the position you assert *namely that there isn’t a problem*, you are wrong. My experience there [once again for what its worth] lets me state confidently that the ‘failure’ is explained by an ongoing disagreement about how to *pre*-distribute the future emissions that are causing the problem and it is *not about* if they agree whether there is a problem or not.

            You – of course – are welcome to use all the arguments that you do in support of the claim that there isn’t a AGW problem. Perhpas Saudi Arabia [for obvious reasons] may listen to you. My advice, for what its worth, is give it all you’ve got. However, it is error for you to claim their failure at the UNFCCC negotiations as support for your position – it isn’t.

          2. The 00s were the hottest decade on record. It simply isn’t true that the warming trend has stopped.

            Climate science is well aware of other factors besides CO2, and can account for them. As you would expect, this combination of factors makes a non-linear warming trend, sometime boosting and sometimes negating the longer term warming effects of CO2.

            Welcome to the endless loop of “debating” the science of climate change. As far as I can see, there’s no actual debate taking place here.

      2. The market will only go where there’s money, which is why we have provided botox and a hundred and one dieting solutions for fat rich people, but haven’t ended malaria or provided water and sanitation to developing countries.

        Market solutions are vital, but they will not be enough in themselves. That’s why I suggest government action and international agreements to complement them, and also to shape and direct the forces of the market towards the outcomes we need.

        1. Well Malaria was well on it’s way to being eradictaed untill that whole anti DDT thing. And is it really our responsibility to overthrow every socialist government so people can access the Free Market? I mean what centrally planned economy has ever ended malaria or provided water and sanitation to developing countries? They do pretty good with the dieting solutions thing… Sorta.

          You would need to present some data to support the claim it’s still warming. Temperatures hit a plateau and remained flat throughthe 00’s, they are now on a downward trend. The 30 year sine wave i have shown you accounts for this. The climate has not deviated from it in any way. If the oceans were taking up the extra heat as some suggest they would not also be cooling.

          The solar orbital forces that drive sunspot, ocean and climate cycles are massive. I’m really interested in how your going to prove a harmless trace gas will overwhelm them and break these cycles. Literally move the sun and planets in the sky. You know all that Orbital Angular Momentum stuff.

          There’s likely no debate as you far as you can see Jeremy simply because you refuse to examine the data. The empirical evidence simply does not support the AGW theory. It does however fit with the natural cycles of the sun.

          Tell me if it were proven Climate Change is Natural would you still think it’s a “Problem” we could solve?

          1. Amirlach – you do tend to jump about a bit.

            Which one of these do you actually ‘believe’: –

            [a] the oceans are cooling and
            [b] the Thames Freezes over?

            and for you, is ‘the market’ going to be relevant [and if so how?] to any of the at least four possible answers to the two questions you’ve thrown up . . . ?

          2. Not to solve, no, but we’d still need every adaptation going. What are you doing to adapt to a drier, warmer world?

            And DDT was never banned for malaria control, just for agricultural use. When I was a child in Madagascar you could still get your house sprayed under a World Bank-funded disease control programme. That was the 80s, after the supposed DDT ban. Look it up.

          3. The issue is no longer a question of philosophy but of physical limits. So to those who agree with such views: think what you like about what “should” happen as this is an opinion about what “will” happen. If you’re right then the limits won’t be reached and nothing will change. If we’re right it will translate into limits to growth not in political policy way but in a practical we won’t grow way.

            If you care about freedom and small government, then carry on as you propose. If we’re right and the crisis unfolds, then you’ll see big government as we do in war as that will be the only way to stabilise the economy and society. So arguing against government intervention now (e.g. against carbon pricing) will result in big government intervention later.

            Freedom is always restricted. e.g. freedom to kill, freedom to rob, freedom to break contracts. There is no such thing as unfettered freedom, which I believe you are implying in your market argument. We just need to decide what limits create the best conditions for people to flourish. Protecting freedom now is about keeping society stable and that means restricting the right to pollute.


  8. That will be my last comment here for a couple of days. I’m not avoiding debate – far from it – but I’m going away and not taking my laptop. It’ll be interesting to see how the discussion develops in the meantime.

  9. Well then Robin – there’s no way of coming to terms with what Ban kI Moon called ‘a global suicide pact’ at Davos this year: –

    By all means, leave your lap-top and party, but remember to take the Jack Daniels . . . also ponder that If you wan’t to but-out, that’s fine – *but stick to it* – you are speaking just for you when you do that.

    Beyond that, if you want to die laughing, you’ll need to practice every day.

    Good luck

  10. Ocean cooling:

    “A new paper by Vélez-Belchí et al. finds that Argo data indicates significant ocean cooling in the Mid-Atlantic area since 1998.”

    “An analysis of the five oceanographic cruises at this latitude shows that there has been a significant cooling of −0.15°C in the upper ocean (600–1800-dbar range) over the last 7 years, from 1998 to 2004, which is in contrast to the warming of 0.27°C observed from 1957 to 1998. Salinity shows a similar change in tendency, with freshening since 1998. For the upper ocean at 24.5°N, 1998 was the warmest and saltiest year since 1957. Data from the Argo network are used to corroborate the strong cooling and freshening since 1998…”[Vélez-Belchí, Pedro, Alonso Hernández-Guerra, Eugenio Fraile-Nuez, Verónica Benítez-Barrios, 2010

    The Thames froze over often during the Maunder Minimum.

    “Note especially the interesting phase inversions in 1722, 1742, 1842, 1901, 1921, 1942, and 1984. A different kind of phase inversion occurred in 2008, when the retrograde solar motion “bump” coincided with the start of our current prolonged solar minimum. This also happened at the start of the Maunder Minimum in 1650.

    Well as for markets being relevant? I have seen the markets in communist countries. They have the regular official ones and then they had “Black Markets”. Both were relevant in their own ways.

    I take it you have an real world example of a better system operating some place? One that’s not a Computer Model? I would like to see how it works Aubrey. Post a link some place.

    1. amirlach,

      I don’t believe anyone is arguing that markets are not useful and cannot be effective. However, unregulated free markets don’t work well. The financial crisis of the last 3 years should be example enough of that. Markets, especially large markets, only work effectively when monitored, regulated, and nudged in the right direction. The entire concept of an efficient market requires safeguards and means of providing information for every participant. The latter of which is a large failing in liberalized theory, because participants can never have all the information to make the “prefect” choice, and therefore every decision made in a market is less than perfect by some degree.

      It seems you agree that we’re currently living unsustainably. This is largely due to liberalized, growth-centered economics. It is arrogant, or perhaps naive, to think that simply because there are no other examples that no other systems work. Communism & capitalism both have their flaws and they are both creations of human society – nothing more. We created them, we can dictate how we use them or if we decide to alter course all together. Infinite economic growth, especially, is a concept created by man.

      You can deny and deny all you want, throw up straw-man arguments, create intricate systems of mis-information and related them back to each other as “evidence” all you want. When it comes down to it – climate change is real, happening now, and growth is unsustainable. (See Paul Gilding’s book The Great Disruption)

      It is simply a matter of time until this system no longer works. In all likelihood we will only realize this when near too late. But then we will react, mobilize, and change the system. Just as they did in WWII. Churchill was ridiculed and called a warmonger when suggesting that Britain go to war with Germany. Then they invaded Poland and all that denial went out the window.

      The US government, not barely a year before Pearl Harbor, swore to the auto industry it won’t dare take over their factories for war efforts. Then they went to war and did just that. Why? Not because capitalism won’t let them or because they shouldn’t or couldn’t do it, but because they had to do it – safety was more important than more cars. And the system didn’t fail, no one burst into flames, our government didn’t turn into a communist one or a radical dictatorship.

      And after great strife and effort we emerged from the other end a different society. So shall it be with climate change & peak oil. You can deny it all you want, but it is physically impossible for the system to continue for much longer, so it simply won’t. I’m not an oracle, so I can’t tell you when, but it will happen, that I am certain of. If I had to guess, I’d say before my 2 year old graduates high school.

      Any arguments that point to areas where it is colder than usual are actually indicators of, not proof against, climate change. Climate change is more aptly named climate disruption – it alters the normal weather by increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Our warming is on a global mean temperature, not localized temperatures. It also increases the amount of water that can be held in the atmosphere, so it dries up in some areas, and rains more in others.

      Per the previous reference, the sun theory is utter BS.

      The oceans are warming. The gulf stream has slowed consistently every year, thus changing the weather in Northern Europe (bringing less warm air from the South).

      The seasons are getting less normal, I’ve seen that in my own area in just the last 15 years. The severity of storms in that period have increased and become harder to predict. There is always slight up and down, but the overall trend for the last 100 years is up.

      There is melting ice, which is the traditional storage of water, and so we will have less fresh water in the future because it will all rain down in the winter instead of being trapped in the mountain snow to be released in the spring.


      1. The market collapse was largely due to poor regulation i’ll agree there. One of the big failings of the American system is the political influence special interests have over policy. Canada largely avoided the housing bubble though our other industry’s that are intergrated with the US like the Auto industry took a hit.

        The only thing i think is unsustainable is public debt levels. Glad i live in a Province with a surplus.

        I know here in Alberta we have 170 Billion barrels of easy to produce oil sands. Or about 300 years at current production rates. Another 1.7 Trillion of harder to produce oil is beyond that. Our next door Province Saskatchewan also has a vast reserve of oil. Some report at least as much as Alberta. So peak Oil? Meh. Whatever.

        The oceans are not warming they are cooling. Seems you never looked at the data or the paper. And i’m the denier? Another failed Model Prediction AGW depends upon.

        “Any arguments that point to areas where it is colder than usual are actually indicators of, not proof against, climate change. Climate change is more aptly named climate disruption – it alters the normal weather by increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

        The Oceans are not small “areas”. They are in fact the place all the missing heat is supposed to be going to explain why it’s not warming on land. The fact the oceans are not warming is damaging to the AGW theory.

        Climate Change? The name was changed because it was no longer warming and AGW was refuted by observations.

        “According to the NOAA State of the Climate 2008 report, climate computer model simulations show that if observations find that the globe has not warmed for periods of 15 years or more, the climate models predicting man-made warming from CO2 will be falsified at a confidence level of 95%:”

        “Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.”
        According to Phil Jones, there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995 [16 years, 3 months ago]. Ergo, the climate models have already been falsified at the 95% confidence level and it’s time to revert to the null hypothesis that man made CO2 is not causing global warming.” There’s some of the Emails posted Climategaters sent discussing how to spin it.

        “Per the previous reference, the sun theory is utter BS.”

        Really? So how do you explain all the Peer Reviewed, Empirical Data and Correlations to observed Climate? Funny how you call BS on those yet belive in Co2 Data that has little to no correlation.

        Sorry. Actually the lack of a Jet Stream is a sign of Cooling.

        “Seasons less normal” Wow! Ok so you just claim that Cooling in one area does not prove it’s cooling every where but then you claim: ” I’ve seen that in my own area in just the last 15 years. The severity of storms in that period have increased and become harder to predict.” Weather in one area is not Global.

        “Most scientific analyses of historical severe storm records — including thunderstorms, hail events, intense precipitation, tornadoes, hurricanes, and winter storm activity — show no overall upward trend in severe weather over the past half century. The trends are downward in other severe storm categories, although well within the natural variability of the climate system. In other words, there is a severe mismatch between perception and reality.”

        1. I see you’re ignoring the reply I left on the peak oil thread. If you check back, I showed using the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ own figures that the tar sands will do nothing to solve peak oil.

  11. Aubrey re: Your remark about the Saudis agreeing with my point.

    Seems they are far more likely to agree with yours and even fund it.

    “It’s pretty tough to like Saudi sheiks, Iranian ayatollahs and Russian former KGB agents. Which is why you don’t usually see those folks attacking the oilsands in public. Prince Al-Waleed’s comments were a rare Saudi public criticism of the West. Normally, they leave that sort of thing to their allies — professional environmental lobbyists.

    There are about 100 professional anti-oilsands activists in Canada, who do nothing but attack Canada’s oil industry. Typically they pose as grassroots environmentalists. But the facts are different.

    Most environmental activists are actually paid professionals. And most work for foreign lobbyists.

    As Vivian Krause has documented, the U.S. Tides Foundation, their Canadian arm Tides Canada and other foreign foundations have pumped about $200 million into Canada to fight development of the oilsands and forestry, among other causes.

    If only…

  12. “Protecting freedom now is about keeping society stable and that means restricting the right to pollute.”

    I’m not opposed to pollution restrictions in any way.

    Co2 is what plants feed upon, it’s not a pollutant. If it’s doing anything Co2 is enhancing food crop production and forest growth.

  13. Another interesting news item.

    China has stated they want all the energy they can get a hold of. They are buying up as many resources as they can the world over. They have also looked at buying Canadian dollars as a shield against the declining US Dollar.

    With them holding not only US debt but the EU’s, what kind of leverage will the west have in regards to “restricting their right to pollute”? They might just say no.

    Unsustainable Debt… Has consequences. You don’t need a framework to “Redistrabute” energy. Looks like the “Market” is doing it anyways.

    China will surpass US GDP in under 20 years. They have already surpassed them in Co2 emissions.

    1. Well, as a US citizen, I’m not all that worried about China’s connection to our debt. They own under 10% of our debt ( & And I agree with you, the debt levels are unsustainable. It is, however, how you continue to show “economic growth.” We pretty much stopped being able to grow the economy by conventional methods, so we have had to inventing money. The entire debt-money system is fundamentally flawed, once giant ponzi schema.

      But I’m less worried about monetary debt, and more worried about the ecological debt. Because I eat food, not money, and I can grow the former, not the latter. And in order to grow food I need a stable climate, clean water and clean air. Economic failings will be righted by government action because they have little choice otherwise, ecological ones are an entirely more difficult matter.

      For instance, I just read that the last 11 years of this new century have had a larger economic output (and, therefore, ecological impact) than the 100 years of the previous century. ( The shear size of it is unbelievable. That in 11 years we’ve had as much of an impact as the previous century!

      I agree with Jeremy, though, that it ultimately comes down to taking actions to make everyone more resilient – just good policy in general. Here in the US, the politics is entirely separated from what the people are doing. While we’re trying to make our local economies stronger and communities more resilient, the politicians are doing their own thing. I won’t deny that there is a large portion of the citizenry still in denial, but those of us trying to become more resilient and aware is growing everyday.

      1. I fully agree the debt based monetary systen is a ponzi scheme. A return to a gold based standard would be preferable.

        That China only holds 10% is not he issue, it’s what happens when one nation refuses to buy more bonds and the lemmings flee. A serious collapse will also have an ecoligical effect.

        The rest i don’t disagree with entirely. Your link seems to be broken for me though.

      2. Yes, your link is also broken for me. I’d be very interested to see that post (and its sources) as it relates closely to a piece of my PhD that I’m currently working on.

        1. Ah, think I’ve now found your source (I could read a few words from your page in a Google cache, even though I couldn’t get to it, and when I googled those words, I found the source). Sobering graphic, especially since I just read a book calculating the economic and ecological novelty of the 20thC (published in 2000, based largely on stats from the early 90s) and I wondered how much things had accelerated since then. This gives a clue. Now I just need to trace their sources.

        2. Hmmm, though the Economist graph doesn’t substantiate your claim that the 21stC has already surpassed the 20thC. I assume there must have been more to your post. I’m still very interested.

          1. Here’s the original link: my post is at (apparently tumblr is having redirection loop issues on this site).

            It’s the sum that is larger than the previous sum, I’m quoting resilience science. I think I may have mis-spoke though, the 21st century has already surpassed the 19th century and is on path to surpass all 19 centuries prior combined, which, of course, the 20th centuries did and then some.

  14. Right, I’m going to sum up my position and finish up, because this will go on forever otherwise.

    Amirlach, here’s how the future plays out for you. One of these things will happen:
    1) The climate stabilises, it’s all a false alarm.
    Result: you win
    2) The climate warms and it turns out it’s natural.
    Result: you’re screwed
    3) The climate warms and it’s due to human activity
    Result: you’re screwed
    4) Just for you, the climate heads towards dangerous cooling.
    Result: you’re screwed

    Here’s how I see it playing out under a risk management scenario:
    1) the climate doesn’t warm, and it’s a false alarm.
    Result: We miss the big one, and the cleaner, fairer, more stable lifestyle we’ve created will leave us better prepared for any emergencies, both unforeseen and long predicted (peak oil, resource depletion, soil erosion, financial meltdown)
    2) the climate warms and it’s natural
    Result: we’re ready for life in a warmer world, because we’ve spent decades putting in place better water management systems, flood defences, drought resistant crops, air cooled buildings, etc
    3) the climate warms and it’s due to human activity
    Result: If we’re quick, we manage to bring it under control and avoid the most serious effects. For the warming that is already unavoidable, we’re prepared. And if we still fail, at least I can look my son in the eye and tell him that I did everything I could to pass on a better world.
    4) The climate cools dangerously
    Result: some of our adaptation is wasted, but since we re-localized and built community resilience, we’re ready for this too.

    If the world follows your advice to wait and see how the changes play out, we guarantee that it will be too late to make any difference. You’re taking a huge gamble.

    If we get to work on building a sustainable future, transitioning beyond fossil fuels and creating a fair and stable economy, both adapting and mitigating for climate change, we benefit whatever the outcome. Since time is short, this endless argument is a distraction from far more important things.

    Here’s a quote from one of my heroes, E F Schumacher:

    “We must do what we conceive to be right and not bother our heads or burden our souls with whether we’ll be successful. Because if we don’t do the right thing, we’ll do the wrong thing and we’ll be part of the disease and not part of the cure.”

    1. Amirlach suggests himself that China buys up as many resources as they can. It seems then that energy independence is a clever goal under any scenario. Except for a few highly active interest groups. And I am afraid… judging from the style of writing, the way the arguments presented, the regular use of half truths, the circular arguments, the jumping of topics (if it suits the simple goal of creating uncertainty) that I keep seeing, I still think that most global warming contrarians on the Web are either part of industry misinformation campaigns or fell for this occasionally very cleverly presented outreach. The Exxon report prepared by the UCS still gives a good insight into the general strategy. There is no trace of moral or ethical behavior. What I see is the logics of “business as war”. The hair raising inhumane logics of cold, blank steel. The lie, affirmed by false certitude, seems to have become one of the principal tools in business. Divide and rule. Nothing else. And I am not saying that Amirlach here for example is part of that game. He sounds like he is, but I cannot know that. What I see are lengthy, circular, repetitive discussions with one or more anonymous individuals. A typical approach: We demand evidence! Evidence is presented. This is not evidence! (by the rules of that game every evidence is bogus, flawed, half assed etc.), arguments are presented, arguments are countered, the counterarguments are ignored or the topic is changed. Same pattern, over and over again. Facts simply have no role in this play. The goal is not to win a discussion. The goal simply is to keep it going and create uncertainty. Looks so similar to what the UCS Exxon report describes:

      1. Projection much? Can’t refute the evidence presented? The Peer Reviewed science? The Facts? So you change the subject and make the lame “Big Oil, Big Tobacco” Straw Man accusations?

        ” I still think that most global warming Alarmists on the Web are either part of industry misinformation campaigns or fell for this occasionally very cleverly presented outreach.” There Fixed that for you.

        “There are about 100 professional anti-oilsands activists in Canada, who do nothing but attack Canada’s oil industry. Typically they pose as grassroots environmentalists. But the facts are different.

        Most environmental activists are actually paid professionals. And most work for foreign lobbyists.

        As Vivian Krause has documented, the U.S. Tides Foundation, their Canadian arm Tides Canada and other foreign foundations have pumped about $200 million into Canada to fight development of the oilsands and forestry, among other causes.”

        “We demand evidence! Evidence is presented. This is not evidence! (by the rules of that game every evidence is bogus, flawed, half assed etc.), arguments are presented, arguments are countered, the counterarguments are ignored or the topic is changed. Same pattern, over and over again. Facts simply have no role in this play. The goal is not to win a discussion. The goal simply is to keep it going and create uncertainty.”

        Well except i have presented “Peer Reviewed” Papers, Data and “Evidence” AGW theory has no basis in reality.

        You have what again?

        1. Amirlach: as part of your tactics you simply define that the IPCC has no scientific credibility. IPCC is an innternational advisory body under the UN and world Meteorological Society (needs to be repeated occasionally, I presume). The scientists writing the IPCC reports work at top notch research universities around the world. The IPCC reports basically are meta studies based upon the latest published research in the respective fields. Your number one trick is to discredit all IPCC research, while in fact it basically is an overview of the up to date peer reviewed literature in the respective subjects (and no – the fact that a handfull of mistakes were discovered and on a few occasions “grey” literature was used does not devalue the entire IPCC effort). So I am afraid the IPCC reports do represent the state of the art knowledge in the field. The relevant peer reviewed research is referenced there.

          Aside from it being another topic again: So there are 100 professional anti tar sand activists in Canada. Founded by the Tides foundation. Let’s see: you compare the engagement of the tides foundation, apparently a recognized philanthropic fundraising organisation, to the disinformation activities of the fossil fuel industry? And your peer reviewed source is an article by one Ezra Levant?

          The teeny wheeny difference is, if I may point that out, that the fossil fuel cronies are engaging in their activities in order to secure their own profits and financial gain. The tides foundation apparently is engaged in securing… philanthropy.

          Your anonymous twin Gator on the other climate thread here used the same sort of apple and pears comparison. He compared open campaign contributions of individuals in California to the disinformation activities of the fossil fuel industry.

          If you were INTERESTED in the science instead of CAMPAIGNING for a cause, you would discuss these issues over at Just about everything you say is addressed there (and at similar blogs). is of course a beautiful source as well, even though I had to learn from your friend Gator that a solar physicist has no expertise to write about climate change (i.e. summarize the related literature). Fortunately that Gator et al claim something does not make it so.

          1. The IPCC has no credibility. They have yet to produce empirical evidence of the Co2 Warming Fingerprint.

            “Theory Versus Evidence
            The missing hotspot is a case where the evidence does not support the theory. We skeptics demand theory yield to evidence. That’s the usual practice. But so far the IPCC is still demanding that the evidence yield to its theory. The IPCC has had a few years to torture the radiosonde data, but it hasn’t admitted to a hotspot—so exonerate carbon! Or at least admit that the IPCC predictions of temperature rises are way too high because they have the water vapor feedback all wrong!” See Fig. 10


            The UNEP and the IPCC were constructs of the Oil For Food suspect Maurice Strong. “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring about?” –
            — Maurice Strong

            The models touted as “Evidence” are rubbish and are refuted by observations.

          2. … Skepticalscience is based on cherry picked and outdated information.

            Real Science is a miss information site. “This outlet is populated by none other than NASA’s resident alarmist mouthpiece – and official spokesman for Hansen’s GISS shop – Gavin Schmidt. Although RealClimate touts the unpaid nature of their writers’ work, the time-stamps on Schmidt’s often highly personal blog posts make quite clear that these actually come on the taxpayer dime, as well. Other RealClimate writers include “Hockey Stick” Mann and Hockey Stick-related Casper Amman.”

            Untill the IPCC can produce some evidence they have no credibility no matter how hard you wvave your arms.

    2. The evidence for Co2 Warming or AGW is simply not there as the “Peer Reviewed” data i have presented clearly shows. Simply declairing it’s BS does not make it so. That’s just denial of facts and reality.

      “Time is short” is pure alarmisim. The world has not warmed for 16+ years and data shows a cooling trend has arrived.

      Throughout mans history we have adapted to warmer and colder climate without modern technology. Historically warmer was better. There is plenty of evidence of this. There are also artifacts showing up in the Alps. Villages from Warm periods even further back in time.

      Climate change is one constant throughout human history. We adapted. The idea that we can alter the course of climate in any great way is pure hubris.

      Climate cooling is a far more serious threat to modern man and his food supply IMO.

      Your point about alternatives sounds great and i’m sure in time some will arrive and take a share of the market. But untill cost effective and reliable ones exist we have hydro carbons. China is not buying up all that energy for nothing, and soon what we cut in europe and north america will be eclipsed by what they emit.

      RE: E F Schumacher. Knowing what to do is dependant on accurate information.

      If you are wasting time and energy attempting to halt “Climate Change” thats caused by the Sun you will fail. Not only that but you will have wasted time and resources better spent on adaptation.

      1. For the third time, the 00s were the hottest decade on… why do we bother, honestly?

        Thanks for your comments Amirlach, and enjoy shopping for winter wear.

        Feel free to carry on without me, if you’re so inclined.

        1. 1934 was also setting record highs in China, the records which happen to be stored by the same people who admit they have adjusted data to fit their models and theories, so whatever.

          “You’re creating a false dichotomy here. Models use data.”

          Yeah sure. “Specifically, when he looked at the climate models used by the IPCC, Kiehl found they all used very different assumptions for aerosol cooling and, most significantly, he found that each of these varying assumptions were exactly what was required to combine with that model’s unique sensitivity assumptions to reproduce historical temperatures. In my terminology, aerosol cooling was the plug variable.

          The problem, of course, is that matching history is merely a test of the model — the ultimate goal is to accurately model the future, and arbitrarily plugging variable values to match history is merely gaming the test, not improving accuracy.

          This is why, when run forward, these models seldom do a very credible job predicting the future.”

          Or why when presented as evidence at a recent debate they were found to be lacking credibility.

  15. “For the third time, the 00s were the hottest decade on… why do we bother, honestly?”

    Hottest? How do you think the Vikings managed to farm Greenland exactly? “As the archaeologists dug through the permafrost and removed the windblown glacial sand that filled the rooms, they found fragments of looms and cloth.”

    The one about “the ‘coupled-models’ generally *under-estimate* the scale of future climate change.”

    Actually they all expected the warming to continue on the upward trend that ended 16 years ago. They actually grossly over predicted warming.

    This is why they have been falsifyied by NOAA’s 2008 State of the Climate Report. For any theory to be scientific it needs to be falsifyable.

    AGW does not seem to have this quality.

  16. ““The world climate during the historical times fluctuated. The numerous Chinese historical writings provide us excellent references in studying the ancient climate of China. The present author testifies, by the materials got from the histories and excavations, that during Yin-Hsu at Anyang, the annual temperature was about 2℃ higher than that of the, present in most of the time. After that came a series of up and down swings of 2—3℃ with minimum temperatures occurring at approximately 100 B. C. (about the end of the Yin Dynasty and the beginning of the Chou Dynasty), 400 A. D. (the Six Dynasties), 1200 A. D. (the South Snug Dynasty), and 1700 A. D. (abont the end of the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Ching Dynasty). In the Han and the Tang Dynasties (200 B. C.—220 A. D. and 600—900 A. D.) the climate was rather warm. When the world climate turned colder than usual, it tended to begin at the Pacific coast of Eastern Asia, propagating as a wave westward, through Japan and China, to the Atlantic coast of Europe and Africa. When the world temperature recovered, it tended to propagate eastward from the west. A fuller knowledge of lhe climatic fluctuations in historical times and a good grasp of their laws would render better service to the long-range forecasting in climate.”

  17. This “debate” with amirlach is obviously going nowhere. It looks to me like he’s utilizing it as a guise to increase the number of external links pointing to these various “references,” thus increasing the SEO of those sites and making them appear more credible.

    That, coupled with the mis-information and fact-twisting, is counter-productive to those of us concerned about climate change, yet incredible helpful in furthering the agenda of those who wish to keep it in public doubt.

    We’ll see climate change, the end of growth, and peak oil soon enough either way, so it’s moot to try to engage in “debate” over something that is based on simple logic and basic physical laws of the universe.

    1. Joshua – well observed.

      Allow me one additional point – C&C is based on what Stephen Hawking has called the first recorded law of theoretical physics: –

      ‘All life aspires to the condition of music’. All musicians really do, especially string players, is to ‘count’ so as to be ‘in-tune’ and ‘in-time’. In his recent book “The Grand Design”, Stephen Hawking cites Pythagoras’ discovery of the empirical basis of this counting: –

      “According to legend, the first mathematical formulation of what we might today call a law of nature dates back to an Ionian named Pythagoras [who] is said to have discovered the numerical relationship between the length of the strings used in musical instruments and the harmonic combinations of the sounds. In today’s language we would describe that relationship by saying that the frequency – the number of vibrations per second or ‘Herz’ value – of a string vibrating under fixed tension is inversely proportional to the length of the string. One could call that simple mathematical formula the first instance of what we now know as theoretical physics.”

      This helps to get past the difficulty for ‘climate-modelers’ is being part of the models they’re trying to observe . . . . when there are dimensions of global negotiation and policy and a ticking clock..

    2. “This “debate” with amirlach is obviously going nowhere.”

      Likely because you have nothing to counter the Peer Reviewed evidence i presented. You can deny the evidence, make accusations about Big Oil and Tobbaco and declair it mis-information and fact twisting all you like. Does not change the reality you lack evidence.

      The 00’s hottest by Hundreths of degrees? Is it meaningfull? Or just alarmist mis-information?

      “Isotopes of oxygen analyzed from deep ice cores drilled in Greenland’s massive two mile thick ice sheets show that today’s “record warmth” is not even close to how warm it’s been in the recent past. These oxygen isotopes can act as a proxy or substitute for temperature. What they reveal is that the earth was much warmer than today for most of the last 10,000 years by 1 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The entire warming of the last 160 years is just 1 degree Fahrenheit, half of which took place between 1910 and 1945 when humans could not have had any effect. In fact these ice cores reveal that earth’s temperature has been rising for 200 years, rebounding from a 500 year cold period known as the “Little Ice Age.” Further examination of the ice core temperatures show that earth’s temperature peaked some 3,300 years ago in the Minoan Warm Period and has been falling ever since.”

      The one point we do agree on is “We’ll see soon enough either way.”

    3. The SEO aspect indeed seems to play a role, and it is rather successful. During the last weeks I looked into the “Skeptics” seen on the web, and I am rather amazed by it all. The same ever repeated arguments, the same spread of links, and it seems as if every remotely scientific or journalistic site with open discussions about climate is targeted. Some “skeptical” writers are so proliferate that one might conclude they actually do nothing else. Some writers also sound amazingly similar in style and wording. Which may be due to the high art of copy&paste or a split personality syndrome of sorts. What really annoys me is that serious researchers are forced to engage in blog wars. I’d rather see my tax money spend for research.

  18. Well, I’m back. And, reading through the comments posted since I left, am struck by two things.

    First, the pointless ding dong about the merits or otherwise of AGW science – pointless because Jeremy has made it clear that the solutions he wishes to be discussed here should to be based on the assumption that the dangerous AGW hypothesis, if not rock solid, is supported by most “responsible” scientists and that waiting to do something about it would be “the height of folly”. This is his blog so any discussion should be conducted on that basis.

    The second thing that struck me was the illogical reaction to my attempt to do exactly that by drawing attention to two clear facts. The first (and for simplicity I’ll confine myself to that for the time being) was that there is no practical possibility of the enactment of a legally binding, enforceable global treaty to curtail CO2 emissions. I concluded that the current growth in GHG emissions would therefore continue and that “solutions” should be framed on that basis. I observed that anyone who thought otherwise was living in dreamland. That’s all I said – it had nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the threats of dangerous AGW or peak oil were real. Nor did I say that it meant we should sit back and do nothing – as both Aubrey and Jeremy appear to have concluded. So the only logical response – from anyone who disagreed with me – was to explain why I’m wrong, i.e. why such a treaty was likely to be enacted. No one has even attempted to do that.

    1. I think you’ll find I responded to both your points, first that there’s plenty we can do besides a global treaty, and the more we do the more political will is created to make that treaty a reality.

      And second, I find your claim that we can’t foresee the crises of the 21st century bizarre.

      1. No, Jeremy, you have responded to neither point.

        My first point is simply that there is no realistic prospect of the enactment of a legally binding, enforceable global treaty to curtail CO2 emissions, that the current growth in GHG emissions will therefore continue and that “solutions” should be framed on that basis. I said nothing about other things “we” might do.

        As to the second, consider this: did anyone in 1911 foresee the crises of the 20th century? The answer of course is no one. What is bizarre is your conceit that we are any better at foresight today.

        1. If you were living in 1911 and failed to see the massive militarization of society, failed to notice the series of hostile diplomatic crises, or the increasing antagonism between the newly unified Germany and its neighbours, then you weren’t paying attention.

          There are plenty of crises we can’t foresee, and there are others than you can see coming a mile away. Economists are still denying that we could have seen the financial crisis coming, but I have evidence on my own bookshelves of dozens of people who saw it stacking up in remarkable detail. Governments have been caught by surprise by the ‘Arab spring’, but plenty of experts saw that coming too, and Obama had the foresight to commission a report into potential unrest in the region in August last year.

          1. I did not say that no one can ever predict anything. It would be absurd for me to do so. For example, in 1999 – at the height of the dotcom boom – I used to lecture about its unsustainability and the probability that it would end in disaster. And in 2002 I wrote an article in Computer Weekly warning that the NHS’s embarking on its new comprehensive computer system (the NHS National Programme for IT) was “irresponsible and foolish”. Neither message was popular at the time but both turned out to be accurate. [In the rather unlikely event that you’re interested, the CW article is here:

            What I did say, however, is that in 1911 no one was able to predict the crises of the 20th century – e.g. the utter horror of WW1 (still hard to comprehend even in retrospect), the subsequent horrors of WW2 (the Holocaust, Dresden, Hiroshima, etc.), the appalling barbarism of fascism and communism (especially of Hitler, Stalin and Mao), the major economic crises, the rise of Islamic terrorism … etc. etc. No one in 1911 could possibly have predicted these. And there is no reason to believe we are any more prescient in 2011.

        2. Robin: the asteroid strike you mentioned further above is a potential natural calamity that has many aspects in common with the climate change risk situation. It is quite conceivable that the orbit of a dangerous asteroid would be known well in advance of a dangerous approach to Earth, but that (owing to the nature of numerically modeling the n-body problem) the accuracy of the orbital predictions would initially be too low to be entirely sure whether an impact was likely, or not. We’d have to deal with error margins, with probabilities. The longer the orbit would be observed, the more data would become available and the more accurate the prediction would become. Now let’s say the engineers tell us we need twenty years lead time to take counter measures (which would require all of mankind to collaborate), while the astronomers inform us that they cannot make a final statement until 10 years before the potential impact. Now what do we do? Do we try to get a global agreement early on and get to work? After all – all of mankind is at stake. Do we sit it out and take the risk, because we don’t like higher taxes or compromises to our lifestyle? Do we lean back and do nothing because facing entrenched interests groups it seems unlikely to come to a global agreement? Or do we fight? The climate change situation is very similar.

          But is it really so unlikely that we can reach global agreements? There are many global agreements that point to the opposite when it comes to practical issues. The Montreal Protocol is such an example (and although almost forgotten: there were very similar contrarian activities at the time). And I also see the European Union – as flawed is it is in many respects – as such an example. A union of former enemies. Who would have thought that to be possible? And apparently when it comes to business interests global agreements are not that difficult to reach: Bretton Woods, GATT/WTO being the most prominent example. CITES / the Washington Convention is another example showing that global agreements are not entirely impossible even if they run contrary to some financial interests. And there are many more.

          Contrary to the many misrepresentations, we also did make a lot of scientific progress in the fields of risk research and predictive modeling, including environmental modeling. Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute recently was asked if there were empirical evidence for environmental damage caused by CO2 induced global warming. He responded (quoted from memory) that yes: “you only have to wait for the new equilibrium temperature in 100 or so years.” Until then, we have to extrapolate, using the known physical laws, the known data and fit them with the best numerical methods we have. And in the end we have to decide in a realm of uncertainty. Which is not unusual – it is in fact the normal human situation.

          1. Stefan: once again you’re labouring under the illusion that I am advocating that we do nothing in preparation for predicted and unexpected calamities. That’s not my position.

            And of course I agree there have been many examples of global treaties: some successful, some rather less so, such as the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 that was supposed to have outlawed war. Yes, in general terms, global agreements are of course possible – to claim otherwise would be absurd. However, that’s not what I’m saying. My point is that it is plain that the enactment of this particular agreement – a legally binding, enforceable global treaty to curtail emissions – is not a practical possibility within any relevant timescale. The reality that the world faces therefore is that GHG emissions will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. As I have said before, to believe otherwise is to inhabit dreamland.

  19. Jeremy: your suggestion that, my holding the above view means I have no care for my grandchildren and am not concerned about how best to make the world a safer, healthier place is unworthy of you. In my view, the best interests of my grandchildren are best served by facing up to and dealing with reality – however challenging it may be. Your suggestion that I am thereby deliberately undermining their best interests, the implication being that my views are not sincerely held is deplorable. You would, quite rightly, not tolerate it if I were to make such a remark about you and your family.

    1. If I were saying that you didn’t care about your grandchildren, it would be unworthy of me. I’m not. But by not just ignoring, but working against those trying to create a sustainable society, you may be doing them an unwitting disservice.

      1. As we have discussed at length elsewhere, your view and mine about how we think the world should be ordered to produce the best outcome for mankind and the environment are vastly different. As you know, I believe yours is profoundly mistaken and would only make things worse – i.e. would be working against the interests of mankind and the environment. Nonetheless, I have no doubt about the sincerity of your view. Likewise, you believe my view is mistaken. My request is that in future you nonetheless respect the sincerity of my view.

        1. Hmm, who was it who was recently heard bemoaning my thin-skinned and over-sensitive nature? But don’t worry, I do respect your right to be sincerely wrong, and I wouldn’t wish to question your motives, especially towards your own family.

          1. OK – and I respect your right to be sincerely wrong. Groan: this could go on for ever.

          2. Indeed, which is why I was hoping to draw a line under this debate with this post. This is why I write about climate change, and to me it’s a pretty watertight case. I may be wrong, and wouldn’t it be great if I was and there was nothing to worry about. But if I change my mind on climate change, it is unlikely to be because of an argument on a blog.

          3. But Jeremy I’ve been trying to help you draw that line. All my posts on this thread have been based on the assumption that your view about climate change is accurate. What I’m still waiting for is your, Stefan’s and Aubrey’s view about the solutions you consider most appropriate given the situation we now face – i.e. that an urgent and radical reduction in mankind’s GHG emissions is not going to happen. And that is surely what this thread is about.

          4. No, this post is about why I write about climate change, despite your advice that I shouldn’t.

            This whole blog is about the integrated approach we need to take to the multiples crises of the 21st century. I’m not going to list them separately here in the comments.

          5. Well, you chose to write about climate change – and that’s you privilege. But, in your introduction, you write of the need for international agreement in the context of “addressing climate change”. And that you say requires us “to transcend old political divisions and put aside competing national interests”. I have pointed out that an important – arguably crucial – aspect of this is the enactment of a comprehensive treaty ensuring an urgent and radical reduction in mankind’s GHG emissions, as required by the “responsible” scientists to whom you also refer. And that plainly isn’t going to be achieved – because countries are not prepared to transcend old (and new) political divisions or to put aside national interests. In other words, “the height of folly” to which you refer is upon us.

            All I’ve been asking is what you, Stefan and Aubrey consider are the solutions most appropriate in view of this reality. But no one seems willing to answer. Perhaps I should rephrase it: how does this reality fit into the “integrated approach” you say you’d like to see?

            PS: I note that you say that “we” need to take an integrated approach. To whom does that “we” refer? Is it perhaps a royal “we” (we are not amused) or a medical “we” (how are we feeling today?)? Or what?

  20. I believe we may be in danger of drifting away from the real topic of this thread – i.e. the “solutions” most appropriate to a world where it is given that Jeremy is correct in his assumption that the dangerous AGW hypothesis, if not rock solid, is supported by most “responsible” scientists and that waiting to do something about it would be “the height of folly”.

    That wish to “do something” faces a massive problem. Whereas those “responsible” scientists insist that the dangers can be avoided only by an urgent and radical reduction in mankind’s GHG emissions, that is clearly not going to happen. That is so because the only practical way such a reduction can be brought about would be via the enactment of a legally binding, enforceable global treaty to curtail emissions – and such a treaty is no longer a practical possibility. If indeed it ever was.

    In other words, Jeremy’s “height of folly” is upon us. The only question therefore is how best to deal with it.

    1. RE: Robin and Jeremy. “Your view and mine about how we think the world should be ordered to produce the best outcome for mankind and the environment are vastly different.”

      The idea of a centrally planned solution is unsupported by the evidence. The claims that free markets cannot solve the “Problems” are also not supported by the evidence.

      My evidence is here. “Over the next five years, debt free Alberta is expected to invest $6.1 billion in green technology –more than all the other Canadian provinces combined.” A free market driven solution that works.

      The great examples of non free-market solutions held up by the alarmists have gone bankrupt or are well on the way. The EU, USA ect, are heading for collapse with their moves away from market solutions and towards centralised redistrabutional ones.

      If you have evidence supporting your “solutions” i would like to see it.

      1. Amirlach: you’ll see a detailed discussion of the considerable difference between my view and Jeremy’s view of how the world should be ordered to produce the best outcome for mankind if you go here:

        You’ll see that it covers a range of important issues (at the heart of the raison d’être of this blog) including, for example, Aubrey’s unworkable “Contraction and Convergence” proposal. Perhaps Jeremy could be persuaded to reopen that discussion.

        But this thread, as I noted above, is concerned with the “solutions” most appropriate to a world where the urgent and radical reduction in mankind’s GHG emissions (required if Jeremy’s assumption that dangerous AGW hypothesis is most probably valid is accurate) is clearly not going to happen. I’m waiting to learn Jeremy’s, Stefan’s and Aubrey’s views about the solutions they consider most appropriate.

  21. “Amirlach, did you or did you not read the actual post at the top of this thread?” Actually i did.

    Your 10 points seem to talk alot about the “science” and “evidence”. However i see your not really interested in looking at what the actual Data says. The AGW theory is based on provably false assumptions and adjustments to the records. No credible evidence has been presented by you or the IPCC that proves otherwise.

    So by all means keep talking about your “Solutions” to the “Problems” as you see them. And wonder why the public at large is not listening anymore.

    I’ll let Robin take it from here.

  22. Elinor Ostrom, winner of a Nobel Prize in Economics:

    “Acknowledging the complexity of global warming, as well as the relatively recent agreement among scientists about the human causes of climate change, leads to the recognition that waiting for effective policies to be established at the global level is unreasonable.

    “Instead, it would be better to self-consciously adopt a multi-scale approach to the problem of climate change, starting at the local level. This approach serves to maximize the benefits at varying levels and encourages experimentation and learning from diverse policies adopted at multiple scales.

    “Currently, efforts to address climate change are being orchestrated primarily by global actors, but waiting for international solutions is wasting valuable time. Conventional wisdom tells us that there are only two options to deal with managing resources: either privatization or management by the state. This view is hindering progress. To successfully address climate change in the long run, the day-to-day activities of individuals, families, firms, communities, and governments at multiple levels—particularly those in the more developed world—will need to change substantially. Encouraging simultaneous actions at multiple scales is an important strategy to address this problem.”

    This quote supports Jeremy’s position in #9 that mitigation and adaptation “at every level” is needed. The failure of international negotiations to get very far (and the systemic problems that underly that failure and suggest its perseverance for at least some time to come) gives no reason to abandon efforts at all kinds of other scales, not least a re-examination of our assumptions about what constitutes a flourishing life (which, I take it, is at the core of Jeremy’s wider blogging project) and how we structure our lives to respect our creaturely limitations and the invitation of Christ into a life for others.

    1. Probably all of you know the “Warning to Humanity” letter signed by all living nobel laureates of the sciences in 1992. I still think it is relevant, especially since a similar moral call to action has been issued in Stockholm recently. It first summarizes the problems, and then gives a very broad overview of actions.

      What We Must Do
      Five inextricably linked areas must be addressed
      We must bring environmentally damaging activities
      under control to restore and protect the integrity of the
      earth’s systems we depend on.
      We must, for example, move away from fossil fuels to
      more benign, inexhaustible energy sources to cut
      greenhouse gas emissions and the pollution of our air
      and water. Priority must be given to the development of
      energy sources matched to Third World needs — smallscale
      and relatively easy to implement.
      We must halt deforestation, injury to and loss of
      agricultural land, and the loss of terrestrial and marine
      plant and animal species.
      We must manage resources crucial to human welfare
      more effectively.
      We must give high priority to efficient use of energy,
      water, and other materials, including expansion of
      conservation and recycling.
      We must stabilize population.
      This will be possible only if all nations recognize that it
      requires improved social and economic conditions, and
      the adoption of effective, voluntary family planning.
      We must reduce and eventually eliminate poverty.
      We must ensure sexual equality, and guarantee women
      control over their own reproductive decisions.

      Developed Nations Must Act Now
      The developed nations are the largest polluters in the
      world today. They must greatly reduce their
      overconsumption, if we are to reduce pressures on
      resources and the global environment. The developed
      nations have the obligation to provide aid and support
      to developing nations, because only the developed
      nations have the financial resources and the technical
      skills for these tasks.

      Acting on this recognition is not altruism, but enlightened
      self-interest: whether industrialized or not, we all have
      but one lifeboat. No nation can escape from injury when
      global biological systems are damaged. No nation can
      escape from conflicts over increasingly scarce resources.
      In addition, environmental and economic instabilities
      will cause mass migrations with incalculable
      consequences for developed and undeveloped nations

      Developing nations must realize that environmental
      damage is one of the gravest threats they face, and that
      attempts to blunt it will be overwhelmed if their
      populations go unchecked. The greatest peril is to
      become trapped in spirals of environmental decline,
      poverty, and unrest, leading to social, economic, and
      environmental collapse.
      Success in this global endeavor will require a great
      reduction in violence and war. Resources now devoted
      to the preparation and conduct of war — amounting to
      over $1 trillion annually — will be badly needed in the
      new tasks and should be diverted to the new challenges.
      A new ethic is required — a new attitude towards
      discharging our responsibility for caring for ourselves
      and for the earth. We must recognize the earth’s limited
      capacity to provide for us. We must recognize its fragility.
      We must no longer allow it to be ravaged. This ethic
      must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant
      leaders and reluctant governments and reluctant peoples
      themselves to effect the needed changes.

      The scientists issuing this warning hope that our message
      will reach and affect people everywhere. We need the
      help of many.
      We require the help of the world community of scientists
      — natural, social, economic, and political.
      We require the help of the world’s business and industrial
      We require the help of the world’s religious leaders.
      We require the help of the world’s peoples.
      We call on all to join us in this task.

      The full declaration can be read here:

      A version with the names of the signers can be found here:

      Again the question: who do I trust? Anonymous web posters, industry pressure groups and private blogs, or a bunch of science nobel laureates – actually all of them?

      1. Stefan:

        All very admirable no doubt. One thing (of several) I don’t understand. The word “we” appears throughout this overview – “we” must do this, “we” must do that … “we” require this, “we” require that …

        Here’s question for you (one I asked Jeremy a couple of days ago – no reply yet): to whom does “we” refer? Is it perhaps a royal “we” (we are not amused) or a medical “we” (how are we feeling today?)? Or what?

  23. Yes, that would indeed be a fair reflection of my broader blog project. On the subject of a multi-scale approach, I quite like the Transition Network’s ‘cheerful disclaimer’:

    “We truly don’t know if this will work. Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale. What we are convinced of is this:

    • if we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late
    • if we act as individuals, it’ll be too little
    • but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.”

    What’s empowering about community action is that it drives the other two. When your friends and neighbours are taking climate change seriously, you might too, so community action inspires individual lifestyle change. As people get together they affect change upwards too, getting organised to lobby their council, MPs, and eventually, the governments that will go and get us that international agreement.

    1. “We truly don’t know if this will work. Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale.”

      Aspects of the theory have some merit. Like the reduction of wastes from industry and farming. In my local area there is a power plant using waste products from logging, a planned wood fibre mat plant and a proposed wood waste bio fuel plant. All good uses for an otherwise wasted resource.

      However the scale off reductions made by the west will be dwarfed by the two largest nations, India and China. They are very actively and rapidly moving away from the very life style the “Transition” movement seems to promote. They are purposely evolving into modern industrial powers and away from the local agrairian lifestyles you promote.

      The question is. If this is such a preferable way of living, why are they working so hard to move away from it?

      And. Why should we go the exact opposite direction? Especially when we truly don’t know if this will work or even make any meaningfull reductions?

      So far all we have done is move insutries from nations with better emmisions and efficency standards to ones with far worse.

  24. Some belive the Solution is already at hand. An attempt to explain the lack of warming since 1998.

    Peer Reviewed Climate Science writen by Economists.

    ” Just to be sure, the co-author Michael L. Mann is someone else than Michael E. “Hockey Stick” Mann. The full text files are hosted by Mr Stock, a Harvard economist (!!!) who is another co-author. Even though he normally studies the Stock market (a pun), he wasn’t afraid to write a climatological paper for PNAS. 🙂 The final co-author is Heikki Kauppi who is a Finnish economist (!!!). Fine. What’s the answer? Why was there a slight cooling in the recent decade?

    It’s due to the Chinese who burned lots of coal!”

    Although others are of course skeptical.

    1. Notice that it was not the carbon, but the sulphur, that causes the “dimming” effect. The same sulphur that has such severe respiratory and ecological effects (acid rain) that it has been largely eliminated (or at least significantly reduced) by richer nations. China is also in the process of adding scrubbers to its coal plants to reduce these emissions, which contribute to China’s very serious air pollution issues (together with tobacco consumption and biomass combustion, projected to lead to 66.8 million deaths in China between 2003 and 2033, according to a recently published paper). So, even if the paper you mention is correct (and there are a number of critiques already pointing out some shortcomings with it), it is in no sense good news. The lead author, Prof Robert Kaufman of Boston University says: “If anything the paper suggests that reductions in carbon emissions will be more important as China installs scrubbers [on its coal-fired power stations], which reduce sulphur emissions. This, and solar insolation increasing as part of the normal solar cycle, [will mean] temperature is likely to increase faster.”

    1. Amirlach: I went over the abstract, I thought first that it could be strange that economists write a climate science paper. But in fact it is not, considering the topic of the paper:

      Robert Kaufmann: Professor of Geography and Environmental Science at Boston University. Specialization: World Oil Markets, Global Climate Change, and Ecological Economics. Robert Kaufmann’s research focuses on world oil markets, global climate change, the global carbon cycle, and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. He has also done research on land use change in China and the temporal relation between radiative forcing and surface temperature.
      James Stock: Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University, he is a statistician and expert in econometrics. His research areas are macroeconomic forecasting, monetary policy, and econometric methods for the ANALYSIS OF ECONOMIC TIME SERIES DATA. Now what did they do in the PNAS Paper? Something with time series data?

      Heikki Kaupi: very similar background to that of James Stock. Like Stock he is mainly a Mathematician, expert on forecasting and statistics (the topic of that paper).

      Michael L. Mann: a Geographer with Boston U. mainly working on spatial and temporal modeling and data analysis (still the theme of this paper).

      The answer by the way is the role of aerosols. Crutzen et al (1997) pointed out that the role of aerosols for the radiative balance is poorly understood and requires more research. It only was always clear that aerosols have shielding effect. Only the magnitude was not known well. It now seems that (as Crutzen had predicted in the 90s) the short-lived aerosol shielding effect was grossly underestimated. Crutzen vs. amirlach.

      Since I merely am an educated layman at best when it comes to modern climate science, and since I also cannot read a relevant number of the peer reviewed publications (I, like most people, also wouldn’t fully understand many of them), I still have to make that decision: who do I trust? James Hansen (i.e. NASA & Columbia University) or amirlach? Boston University, or amirlach et al? Harvard University, or amirlach et al? PIK, or amirlach et al? The Max Planck Society, or amirlach et al? The Royal Society, or amirlach et al? SCRIPPS or amirlach? The list is endless, and, no offence meant: amirlach et al loose.

      Speaking of the Royal Society: The PNAS paper you refered to cites a beautiful paper on the role of the sun in the climate change context, written by SOTON Solar Physics Professor Mike Lockwood. It also addresses a few other aspects, such as the nature of the “climate skeptics” movement. SOTON vs. amirlach and his or her blogosphere links.

      Solar change and climate: an update in the light of the current exceptional solar minimum

      I, of course, remain convinced that astroturfing is at the core of the climate skeptics movement.

  25. In no way do i think the Paper about chinese coal plants stalling AGW is credible. It’s simply a lame attempt to claim that even though AGW predictions have failed they are still correct.

    “I, of course, remain convinced that astroturfing is at the core of the climate skeptics movement.”

    Of course you do. This is a classic example of projection by some one passing Fabian Socialist “Transitional Town Movements” off as grass roots organisations. Your “Feelings” are of no relivance to the science. The fact that alarmists spend ten times as much “Astroturfing” is also of no relevance to the science.

    Why should you trust James Hansen? Good question. Is it not reasonable to belive that the people and models that predicted warming when there was none couldn’t possibly be wrong…Again? Especially when Scafetta’s predictive celestial model outperforms GISS? Trust in science that fails over science that works by all means. It’s called Faith.

    Why not trust PIK? When they could present zero empirical evidence supporting AGW theory? And in fact they had to conced that although the empirical observations in no way supported the theory they boldly proclaimed. “But our Models show…”?

    1. Sorry but “beautiful” Lockwood has been refuted for using the wrong data. This 2009 Paper is based on the Lockwood and Fröhlich Paper. This is all based on improper grafting of flawed PMOD data into the ACRIM Gap rather than the physics based Nimbus calibrations. The PMOD composite is an artifact of uncorrected ERBS degradation.

      “The people, who were in charge of the satellites and who created the original graphs ( astro-physicists: Doug Hoyt, Richard C.Willson) protested against this manipulation. In vain.

      R.C. Willson (head of the ACRIM satellites): “Fröhlich made unauthorised and incorrect adjustments… He did it without any detailed knowledge of the ACRIM1 instrument or on-orbit performance…The only obvious purpose was to devise a TSI composite, that agreed with the predictions of Lean’s TSI proxy model.”

      Both letters of protest to this improper use of data to the IPCC. Linked here.

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