The Greenhouse Effect

A blogger at Daily Kos rewinds back to the 1988 vice presidential debate and discovers that a question about global warming was posed to Dan Quayle about the the “Greenhouse Effect”:

I guess that’s what they called it back then, before Global Warming and Climate Change became popular…There was no, do you think it is real, or anything like that. I mean the question was asked in a matter of fact way as if it was accepted fact.  Even more to my surprise, Quayle answered that a Bush/Quayle administration would work hard to combat the problem.  I couldn’t believe my ears!!  Have we really regressed that far, that 24 years later we don’t even accept the science now when the situation is much worse…let alone that fact that back then even Republicans said they would address the problem…

People have short memories. In January of 2008, here’s what John McCain said when he was vying to be the Republican Presidential candidate:

I will clean up the planet. I will make global warming a priority.

While on the campaign stump later that year, after he had pretty much locked up the Republican nomination, the LA Times reported:

Referring to melting glaciers in the Arctic Ocean and the vanishing habitats of polar bears and walruses, the Arizona senator and presumptive Republican nominee for president said it was time to stop quibbling over the causes of global warming. He pledged to “deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring.”

And as the New York Times noted one month before the 2008 Presidential election, when it came to climate change, there was little daylight between the Democratic and Republican candidates:

Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama part company on many issues, but they agree that the Bush administration’s policies on global warming were far too weak.

Both candidates say that human-caused climate change is real and urgent, and that they would sharply diverge from President Bush’s course by proposing legislation requiring sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury.

So the question isn’t what happened between 1988 and 2012, as some are suggesting, but what happened since 2008?

Well, for starters, there’s the obvious: The economy was in a free fall when Obama got elected, so that changed the political dynamic. But the politics of global warming also became more one-sided, with the rise of the Tea Party as a dominant force in the Republican party. As the National Journal reported in 2011,

challenging climate science has become, in some circles, as much of a conservative litmus test as opposing taxes.

But if the latest trend on public attitudes holds firm, that litmus test for Republicans may not be viable much longer. This is not to say that partisanship and trench warfare on climate change are going to recede like the world’s ice sheets. But in a few years, we may look back at the 2008-2012 period (in terms of climate politics) as an anomaly, owing largely to a confluence of circumstances stemming from the global financial meltdown and the rightward shift of the GOP.

If the economy continues to rebound and severe weather continues to be associated with global warming, I bet the politics of climate change will soon return to what they were in 2008, when both major parties in the U.S. agreed that reducing greenhouse gases was an imperative.

68 Responses to “The Greenhouse Effect”

  1. Greg Schiller says:

    I doubt that an economic rebound and weather worries will revive the
    climate fad. These things always run their course and this one has.

    Let’s look to the fundamentals.

    The green wave has crashed.

    Three years ago, you couldn’t write a resume without employing the word
    “sustainable”. Today, that word only demonstrates just how out
    of touch you are.

    Alternative energy is on subsidy life-support.

    It will live on in an economic coma but as a vision of the future, it is
    no more viable than nuclear powered cars and mile high monorails.

    Carbontaxes and emission targets are politically toxic.
    They killed the ALP in Australia and despite the ramblings of the
    bureaucrats in Brussels, green schemes are dead in Europe.

    A fatigued public is casting off the despair of climate catastrophe and
    turning to hope of cheap natural gas and plentiful oil.

    There will always be those who cling to the past but the public has woken
    from the dreams of 2008.

  2. John Mason says:

    I think there will be a strong rebound: its timing and strength depend on a few factors. If the Midwest sees a repeat of the extreme conditions of 2012, partially trashing the harvest once again, the knock-on in food prices will be very noticeable, coming hard on the heels of this year’s. If this keeps happening it’ll become a prime talking-point which, when coupled with other glaringly obvious signs that something is happening to the climate e.g. repeated very low Arctic sea-ice seasons etc, will make the job of those who pretend that nothing is going on all the more challenging.So yes, a rebound based on actual events on the ground: it’s not a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

  3. cagw_skeptic99 says:

    The sea level increase is not accelerating, the global surface temperatures have not increased in more than ten years, the sea surface temperatures may even be decreasing, and it is a mystery why climate alarmist supporters find little support.

    Europeans may figure out that their artificially high energy prices are a factor in the lack of jobs and that the folks pumping wind mills are making a fortune on the backs of the rate payers. The end of subsidies will be the end of wind farms. No mysteries here.

  4. Tom Fuller says:

    I don’t know what’s going to happen. No clue at all. I know what I hope will happen, but my hopes have been dashed on a daily basis since I became interested in this subject.

    I also know what I am afraid will happen–and here, too, I have been surprised, as my fears have not come to pass, either.What I hope will happen is that more people come to recognize that the point of view now characterized as ‘lukwarmer’ -ism is in fact the optimal approach to anthropogenic climate change, and that addressing it will require pan-governmental (something like the Millenium Goals), governmental (tax relief and subsidy encouragement, withdrawal of support from efforts that work against the goal), collective (faith-based efforts like those spurring rural electrification solar programs) and individual (meet Paul Kelly) initiatives.

    What I am afraid of happening is that either extreme will become dominant. I fear a consensus led by Monckton as much as I distrust a consensus led by Gore. I fear the narrow views of Morano as much as I do those of Tim Lambert. 

    And I fear that science in general will spend a period in the wilderness, with increasing reports of flawed or jiggered studies blackening its reputation–and with more of us not knowing whether we can trust what scientists bring us.

    The economy will eventually recover, and worldwide, liberals and conservatives will take credit for it and blame the other side for how much longer it lasted than necessary. The same is probably true for the climate, actually, albeit on a longer scale.

  5. harrywr2 says:

    I’ll pontificate on what happened.

    In 1982 I believed that my next vehicle purchase would be a 100 MPG car and I would be able to buy it for less then $10,000. Unfortunately, ceramic internal combustion engines for vehicles proved unworkable.

    Politicians sell solutions to problems. (Both sides…first they tell you there is a problem, then they trot out their plan to fix it)

    The solutions ended up being far more challenging then originally anticipated with no shortage of ‘unintended consequences’.

    Biofuels are no where near where we thought they would be 20 years ago, battery technology hasn’t advanced nearly as fast as anticipated if at all, the size of the grid  needed to make the ‘wind always blows somewhere’ practical ended up being much larger then originally anticipated.

    Rino Republican’s have always been happy to support technological innovation on the Government Dime. As far as Climate Change as an issue to support technological innovation on the government dime there is broad support. Just as there was broad support to place a man on the moon in order to encourage technological innovation. The pace of innovation just hasn’t been as fast as anticipated.

  6. Greg Schiller says:

    I doubt if the new Katrina Effect of “extreme weather” will sway many people in the long run nor will not bring the partisans together.  However, policies based on energy efficiency and energy independence might stand a chance.If anyone knows of a study that compares the costs and benefits of wind-farms compared to the costs and benefits of switching electric generation to natural gas, more efficient lighting and better insulation, I’d like to read them.Tom mentions lukewarm as being the optimal approach toward climate science, could it also be the optimal approach toward climate solutions?

  7. andrew adams says:

    Hi Tom,

    What I hope will happen is that more people come to recognize that the point of view now characterized as “˜lukwarmer’ -ism is in fact the optimal approach to anthropogenic climate change, and that addressing it will require pan-governmental (something like the Millenium Goals), governmental (tax relief and subsidy encouragement, withdrawal of support from efforts that work against the goal), collective (faith-based efforts like those spurring rural electrification solar programs) and individual (meet Paul Kelly) initiatives.

    That doesn’t sound very “lukewarm” to me, in fact I don’t see anything there that us ardent “warmists” would disagree with. 

    The only beef I have with your comment is your equating Lambert and Gore with Morano and Monckton. You portray them as opposing extremes, as if they are equidistant from some “reasonable” position in the middle, but they aren’t – you may find Gore/Lambert too partisan or “alarmist” for your tastes but their views don’t massively depart from the mainstream scientific position. Morano/Monckton are just flat out wrong. 

  8. Tom Fuller says:

    Hi AndrewWell, obviously our opinions of Gore and Lambert differ. However, do you think that is the only reason that ‘lukewarm’ ideas get so savagely lambasted by so many on your side. I could be persuaded to quit ragging on them publicly if so.

    However, my strong inclination based on both what I’ve read and seen in the media and my own interactions with what I think of as a faith-based alarmist community is that the policies I advocate are considered a sop to our consciences and that we are politically motivated in advocating them. Further that this large subgroup of those concerned about our climate future will brook no splitting of either authority or responsibility–that they should have the authority and they should allocate the responsibility.

    You may think I’m exaggerating, but in a year that could be defined by Gleick, Gergis and Lewandowski following a year that could have been defined by Mashey and Anderegg, Prall following a year defined by Climategate and Copenhagen, I think that the political faction that I associate with Gore / Lambert is what is defining the consensus response to climate change.

    And I recognize that it would be easy to define years looking at the other side–Inhofe, Monckton etc., have each made their imprint on recent events. But until the demonization of people like McIntyre, Lomborg, Mosher and Curry stops, I frankly don’t trust your politics. And until the consensus publicly repudiates crap like Anderegg, Prall, Lewandowsky and other junk science, I can’t really say I will trust your science.

    Because Monckton and Morano are essentially caricatures, I don’t take them seriously and don’t expend energy on them. Because I want to believe your science, I will vigorously challenge examples of horrible practice.

    That leads to a situation where we don’t know who our friends are and think that every hand is raised against us. Something that is only reinforced in the comments sections of climate weblogs.

  9. Mike Mangan says:

    The Tea Party, aka the reform wing of the Republican Party, promises to make antipathy to the Warmist ideology a central tenet of the party for decades to come. If all goes according to plan come November, plan on budgets being targeted with a chain saw. Gotta save money somehow. (How about eliminating this GISS thing? Looks worthless and redundant.)  :)Seriously, you’ll need something spectacular like temps topping 1998 for a couple of years or 90° F temps in Alaska in January or something to get out of the hole you’re in. Environmentalism and all it’s variants is a rich white man’s game only played when the economies are functioning well. Worldwide economic depression and/or collapse is certainly a much bigger threat right now than slightly warmer temps. 

  10. John Mason says:

    Mike, I’ve said it before elsewhere and I’ll say it again now: you are a dangerous fool. A very dangerous one.

  11. BBD says:

    Re Tom’s # 4. Did you spot the sly insertion of denialist propaganda so typical of Tom’s output? No? Just read the following paragraph in isolation and contemplate for a moment on exactly what it is we are being sold:

    And I fear that science in general will spend a period in the wilderness, with increasing reports of flawed or jiggered studies blackening its reputation”“and with more of us not knowing whether we can trust what scientists bring us.

    It’s pretty obvious the second time around isn’t it?

    ‘The science’ is corrupt (flawed; jiggered), its reputation is ‘blackened’ and <i>we cannot trust it</i>. It is ‘in the wilderness’.

    Nasty stuff, eh? Toxic, even.

  12. BBD says:


    And I fear that science in general will spend a period in the wilderness, with increasing reports of flawed or jiggered studies
    blackening its reputation”“and with more of us not knowing whether we can trust what scientists bring us.

  13. BBD says:

    # 9 Confuses environmentalism with the physics of radiative transfer. Thus proving himself utterly clueless.

  14. Tom Fuller says:

    As you see, Andrew, not much point talking about utopian reconciliation schemes with the alarmist fundamentalists policing the purity of discussions.

  15. BBD says:

    No Tom, the problem is crypto-denialists (aka lukewarmers, in many cases) transparently attempting to discredit ‘the science’. Especially when certain among them are astonishingly prolific and persistent. One can only wonder what the hell motivates this behaviour.

  16. Tom Fuller says:

    BBD, you are a member of the climate Taliban. Your use of emoticons doesn’t change your fierce hatred of actual communication.  

  17. BBD says:

    You aren’t communicating <i>in good faith</i> Tom. You are propagandising. You have never left Team WUWT. You just get angry when this is pointed out.

  18. BBD says:

    And, er, what emoticons Tom? I can’t see any 😉

  19. Mike Mangan says:

    Perhaps you’d like to elaborate, John Mason. What exactly makes me dangerous? I ask for nothing from you. You demand my wallet and spit in my face at the same time. Am I dangerous because I refuse to believe that a harmless trace gas is going to destroy mankind? Am I dangerous because I believe that a $16 trillion dollar national debt and untold trillions in unfunded pensions are going to destroy our country before temps rise another .3°C? Who is the fool here, John? 

  20. Marlowe Johnson says:

    even if the pendulum swings back to taking climate change seriously, fossil interests will have partially achieved their objective; delay the implementation of policies that devalue their assets. delay (for as long as possible) is the ultimate objective. the science denial angle is simply the most useful tactic at present. later the faux skepticism will shift to the costs vs benefits of various actions. 

    it’s all sadly predictable.

  21. Mike Mangan says:

    When are you going to give us “deniers” our tipping points? We demand to know, when is the point of no return? At what point can we say, “Well, too late now!” We have the ball and we’re up by 30 points in the fourth quarter. We’d like to simply run the clock out and spend the rest of our days mocking you. 

  22. BBD says:

    @ 21

    Here’s a tipping point. Question is, do you understand why?

  23. Mike Mangan says:

    Do I understand why you would use such a thin reed? I dunno, you people seem to be able to convince yourselves of just about anything. Are you saying too much soot has landed on Greenland and now it’s going to melt? I’m looking for a specific level of co2, not some fantasy that it will somehow make it warm enough to melt 2-3km of ice. 

  24. BBD says:

    You haven’t got a clue, have you?

  25. Mike Mangan says:

    Spare me. If you people had any track record of actually convincing anyone of importance besides Algore then I might be impressed. If your scientific mojo is so strong, how come only the far left, government bureaucrats, and crony capitalists are backing you? If your “climate science” were so conclusive then you would have had the support of more than a handful of addled Democrats. The only clue I need is how to keep you nutters marginalized.

  26. Matt B says:

    @5 Harry – ha ha! Thanks for the reminder about the search for the ceramic engine holy grail back in the day; man there was a ton of money poured into it. There were many things positive about the ceramic engine push; it had a theoretical basis, it was of great benefit to society and to industry, there were big names promoting it, & things looked great if cost reduction plus capability kept increasing along the same path for ceramics…….but it turned out to be an unsolvable problem (if solving the problem meant any return on the resources needed for development & upkeep of said engines).

    I do believe the solar/wind/biofuel industries find themselves in the same boat today. It’s not that the people trying to commercialize these technologies are incompetent etc.; sometimes nature is too tough an opponent no matter how hard you try.

  27. jorge c. says:

    Mr. Kloor: i like your blog, but sometimes… there was a Tea Party in Copehagen in 2009??? No? so Why Copenhagen was a disaster? Do you remember what the term “BRIC” means? There is a Tea Party in Germany? have you saw this post ? or this this ??I’m not defending the Tea Party but your post is a bit simplistic…

  28. Mike Mangan says:

    Enjoy the debate tonight. After Climategate Paul Ryan became a avowed climate skeptic. Let’s see how many “climate change” questions Raddatz throws out there. I’ll leave quietly now Keith, since your actually a halfway decent person trying to run a clean joint. Let the dripping arrogance from your readers resume!

  29. BBD says:

    Let the dripping arrogance from your readers resume!


  30. MarkB says:

    So it’s the Tea Party’s fault? Tea Party tricknology? I was in favor of gay marriage before the idea occurred to the vast majority of Americans – or humans – and I voted for McGovern. The difference between McCain’s speech and now is that McCain’s words didn’t cost anything. Anyone can be in favor of anything until there’s a price to pay. Right now the UK is looking at a planned energy disaster, as power plants are taken off-line, and there’s nothing to replace them but platitudes about renewable energy. And Germany?  Electricity prices are rising rapidly to pay for renewables, and major factories have already been damaged by fluctuating  current due to the unreliability of solar and wind power. The chickens are coming home to roost, and the costs of this renewable madness are being tallied. That’s why things have changed. Words have become facts on the ground, and the facts are a monumental disaster for modern industrialized civilization.

  31. MarkB says:

    By the way… for the clusterf#ck that is German electricity policy, see this: And while you’re at it, dig out your old copy of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

  32. Marlowe Johnson says:

    thanks for the link mark. to whit:

    The sad truth is that Germany spends billions on wind turbines and solar panels, only to see a significant portion of the energy lost through poorly insulated windows.The roughly 18 million residential buildings in Germany represent a substantial potential for energy conservation. About 70 percent of these structures were built before 1979, that is, before Germany’s first ordinance on thermal insulation came into effect. Most of these buildings lack insulation in outside walls, floors and ceilings. If they were retrofitted, their energy consumption could be reduced by two thirds, estimates the Munich-based Research Institute for Thermal Insulation (FIW).

  33. Joshua says:

    But in a few years, we may look back at the 2008-2012 period (in terms of climate politics) as an anomaly, owing largely to a confluence of circumstances stemming from the global financial meltdown and the rightward shift of the GOP.

    I think there’s little chance that Republicans will start to take a different tack on climate change, Keith. Just look at the comments in this thread: The energy among Republicans is with the hardcore “AGW is a hoax”  “skeptics,” and the mainstream Republicans can’t get political traction without pandering to the extremists. It isn’t really about climate change for them, it’s about politics. Politics drives their position on climate change. Climate change is a political proxy. The position on climate change will not be driven by data, or scientific evidence; instead, ideology will influence how any data or evidence will be interpreted.

    IMO, one other possible outcome is that the effects of climate change are so overwhelmingly unambiguous that even the hardcore will find it politically inviable to hang on to the “hoax” theories – but  the science itself indicates that such unambiguous evidence is likely in any short-term time scale. 

    Then there’s the possibility of some kind of technological breakthrough – but with that, it would be difficult to overcome the obstacles that would be thrown up by those who have a vested interest in the current energy policy status quo.

    My Magic 8-Ball reads “Outlook not so good.”

  34. Joshua says:

    Sorry – is not likely on any short-term time scale.

  35. stan says:

    After someone does an Amgen/Bayer style audit on all the stuff produced by Mann, Rahmstorf, Steig, Jones, Monnet, Briffa, and company, Tom Fuller won’t have to worry about flawed studies.  The talk will be about a flawed science.

  36. Nullius in Verba says:


    “…that even the hardcore will find it politically inviable to hang on to the “hoax” theories…”

    Both US parties since the last days of Gore have held to exactly the same policy, expressed in the Byrd-Hagel resolution. It’s no use complaining about the Republicans, because Obama stuck to it too. The US government policy is that global warming is a serious concern, and that it requires global action with no exceptions. They won’t accept serious harm being done to the US economy unless it’s for an effective global policy that will actually measurably reduce global warming.

    That’s the stumbling block to international climate talks – the fact that everyone else want a treaty where only the West has to cut back, and where the West has to pay the entire bill. Sceptics have had nothing at all to do with it.

    The Tea Party may have changed things a bit, they are more climate sceptical that your average Republican, although their defining policies are to do with not spending trillions more than you earn. I suspect if you kept spending on it within budget you could get away with it. But there’s really no point in any politician paying the price to make a stand when nothing’s going to happen on it anyway, because of Byrd-Hagel.

    The most significant thing about politicians now openly expressing doubts about global warming catastrophe is that it shows it’s becoming popular. Politicians follow public opinion closely, and are better than average at interpreting polls. And they do like to be on the winning side.

  37. BBD says:


    Keith linked to this article some time back. It stuck in my mind.

    But it’s rare to find a Democrat who denies outright the overwhelming scientific consensus that carbon emissions from oil, coal, and gas””also known as greenhouse gases””are causing the world’s climate to warm.

    That’s not the case for Republicans. Over the past year, GOP politicians have increasingly questioned or flatly denied the established science of climate change. As the presidential primaries heat up, the leading candidates have either denied the verdict of climate scientists or recanted their former views supporting climate policy. As the tea party grows in influence, and the fossil-fuel industry injects unprecedented levels of spending into the electoral system, challenging climate science has become, in some circles, as much of a conservative litmus test as opposing taxes. Conservatives such as Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who notoriously called climate change a hoax, once were marginalized. Now Inhofe tells National Journal he feels that he’s “come in from the cold.”


    Here’s what has changed for Republican politicians: The rise of the tea party, its influence in the Republican Party, its crusade against government regulations, and the influx into electoral politics of vast sums of money from energy companies and sympathetic interest groups.


    Among the most influential of the new breed of so-called super PACs is the tea party group Americans for Prosperity, founded by David and Charles Koch, the principal owners of Koch Industries, a major U.S. oil conglomerate. As Koch Industries has lobbied aggressively against climate-change policy, Americans for Prosperity has spearheaded an all-fronts campaign using advertising, social media, and cross-country events aimed at electing lawmakers who will ensure that the oil industry won’t have to worry about any new regulations.

    Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, says there’s no question that the influence of his group and others like it has been instrumental in the rise of Republican candidates who question or deny climate science. “If you look at where the situation was three years ago and where it is today, there’s been a dramatic turnaround. Most of these candidates have figured out that the science has become political,” he said. “We’ve made great headway. What it means for candidates on the Republican side is, if you “¦ buy into green energy or you play footsie on this issue, you do so at your political peril. The vast majority of people who are involved in the [Republican] nominating process””the conventions and the primaries””are suspect of the science. And that’s our influence. Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done it.”

  38. Nullius in Verba says:


    That old ‘oil-funded conspiracy’ theory, again?

    Hundreds of groups lobby politicians, from all sides of the debate. Politicians pay attention only when it suits them. It’s like advertising to the public. Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola both spend millions persuading you that their brand is better, but people don’t drink what they drink because they credulously believed in the adverts. They drink it because they like the taste.

    Lobbying is just advertising, and everyone in business accepts that rival products are going to get advertised too. If your product sales are dropping, it’s not necessarily simply because your rivals advertised what they were selling. (Or indeed, that they were allowed to advertise.) It has to be because your customers were persuaded that the other product was better value.

  39. Mike Mangan says:

    BBD, you go right ahead and comfort yourself that big, bad rich fossil fuel guys are unfairly winning the battle. I can assure you that the Tea Party succeeds because of boots on the ground. It’s literally a neighborhood level effort that in 2010 resulted in the most Republicans acquiring seats in state legislatures since the 1920’s. It is the John Does next door who are engaging in the political process for the first time and becoming precinct delegates. I say, thank God for the help they do get from AFP and FreedomWorks.The Tea Party knows how to respond to a perceived threat in a democratic republic. Climate alarmists have no idea or ability to deal with their own perceived threat in the same society. They are child like in their belief that all they need is their Argument From Authority and their Overwhelming Scientific Consensus. They never waver from their dream of solutions being imposed upon society, not agreed to.They never cease to blame outside forces for their failures instead of looking at themselves. They are content to simply hold the right views as opposed to actually doing anything about it.It’s no contest in the end.

  40. BBD says:


    Your usual approach of emitting great clouds of obfuscatory waffle when the facts contradict your spiel is painfully inadequate here. Libertarian ideologues aside, everybody else can see what’s going on without even squinting. 

  41. Keith Kloor says:

    @37You’re comparing the huge sums politicians receive from special interests to advertising? 

  42. andrew adams says:


    The problem I have with this

    You may think I’m exaggerating, but in a year that could be defined by Gleick, Gergis and Lewandowski following a year that could have been defined by Mashey and Anderegg, Prall following a year defined by Climategate and Copenhagen, I think that the political faction that I associate with Gore / Lambert is what is defining the consensus response to climate change.

    is that it these definitions are entirely yours. You may have a point WRT Climategate and Copenhagen, these were obviously events of some significance even if people’s interpretations of them may differ, but in my view the obvious defining event of this year WRT climate change is the record arctic ice levels, compared to that the other things you mention are relatively trivial, or in the case of Anderegg & Prall and Lewandowski absolutely trivial (I’m not sure what your beef with Mashey is). And I’m not sure that anyone is “defining” the consensus response to climate change, or even if such a thing exists. Yes there are broad principles we agree on but at the detailed policy level there is certainly disagreement.

    As for objections to the “lukewarmer” position, it depends rather on how you define it. As I said above, when you say that AGW requires a mix of pan-governmental, governmental collective and individual actions you will not get any disagreement in principle from the “warmists”, although the devil is of course in the detail. Maybe you are really one of us but don’t want to accept it (I’m half joking there, but only half). Certainly from what I have seen most lukewarmers would not accept that such concerted actions are either possible or necessary, or they would say things are just too uncertain. In essence they are advocating either inaction or totally insufficient action whilst presenting their position as the reasonable “middle ground”. Also, they have a distinct tendency to be hyper-critical of the warmists whilst giving the skeptics a free pass for many of their antics (I have to make Mosher an honorable exception here, at least more recently).

    You mention hostility in the climate debate, well here is certainly a lot of that, but you (and others) seem to put the blame purely on the side of the consensus, which I don’t think is reasonable. The people you give as examples are all different in their own way but whatever one thinks of their basic positions or the substance of their criticisms I’m not sure how one can read a lot of what they have written and be surprised about the way many people react (although there will always be some who do overreact). I’m not saying that criticism of the skeptics by the consensus side is any less scathing but I don’t think we expect them to like it.

  43. Tom Fuller says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I actually disagree with most of what you write–usually I agree with a large portion and pick nits. This time the difference is real. Sadly I must leave you in suspense for a bit as work calls.

    But I have substantive issues with #41.

  44. harrywr2 says:

    #20 Marlowe,

    even if the pendulum swings back to taking climate change seriously, fossil interests will have partially achieved their objective; delay the implementation of policies that devalue their assets.

    US Coal Consumption for the 1st half of 2012 was down 20%(100 million tons) from 2010 levels. The share price of Peabody Coal has gone from $75 to $25. Alpha Natural Resources was trading at $60 in 2010, this morning the price was $8. Patriot Coal is in bankruptcy.

    Please explain what policy anyone proposed that was predicted to have a more devastating impact on US coal interests.

  45. BBD says:


    I often find myself having to remind you that the US is not the world.

    In the world, coal consumption is at *record levels*. And the Keeling curve shows no sign of flattening.

  46. BBD says:

    We’ve had the World Coal Association figures. Now let’s hear it for the IER:

    Coal consumption in the United States is contracting rapidly while in the global economy, it is growing as a fuel of choice. President Obama presaged this development when he said that under his plans, building a coal plant would not be economically viable. Coal’s share of U.S. electricity is expected to fall to below 40 percent this year from 42 percent last year and produce the lowest share since data was collected in 1949.[i]
    Just five or six years ago, its share of electricity generation was 50 percent. But those statistics are atypical of how the global economy is treating coal. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy shows coal to be the fastest growing fossil fuel worldwide, garnering a 30 percent share of world supplies in 2011, the highest share since 1969.[ii]

    According to the latest BP Statistical Review, world coal consumption grew 5.4 percent in 2011 and world coal production grew by 6.1 percent.[iii] The decline in U.S. coal consumption was offset by a large increase in
    Asia’s coal consumption, which accounted for all the net growth in 2011. China’s coal consumption grew 9.7 percent between 2010 and 2011, and
    India’s coal consumption increased 9.2 percent. China consumed 49 percent of the world’s coal supply in 2011.

  47. Tom Scharf says:

    I think things are working out just fine for Gore:

    Al Gore has thrived as green-tech investor

    Picking on Al Gore is target rich environment, but this part is priceless.

    Gore eventually turned the painful experience into a punchline. He didn’t miss a beat when a conference organizer in 2008 confessed it “hurts” to think of the environmental agenda that could have been, if only Gore had won.

    “You have no idea,” he said in a deep baritone of mock grief.

    Uuuuhhhh.wasn’t Al Gore VP during the period when Kyoto wasn’t even brought up for a vote in the Senate because it would have failed miserably?     

    Obama had large Democrat majorities after 2008 and couldn’t even get a watered down cap and trade bill through during the height of the climate propaganda period in 2009.  Why?

    Feel good climate change policies are a luxury.

    Greens are not very adept at reading political reality.  That is why they overreach and fail so consistently.

    Progress will never be made until you get conservatives on-board. That requires compromise, anathema to the greens.

    Many Democrats will say all the right words, but then vote against any green policy that actually causes sacrifice, especially coal state Democrats.  

  48. Nullius in Verba says:


    “You’re comparing the huge sums politicians receive from special interests to advertising?”

    Which money are we talking about here?

    There are two elements to this I know of: the money spent on lobbying politicians, which is advertising policies to politicians, and the money contributed to campaign funds, which is for advertising politicians with particular policies to voters. What other huge sums are there?

  49. Kuze says:

    @45.”I often find myself having to remind you that the US is not the world.”I would like to apply this logic to you and all the others that think the  “tea party” is what stands in the way of meaningful action.

  50. jorge c. says:

    #49 Exactly!!!!!!!!!!

  51. Tom Fuller says:

    Hi Andrew,First, let’s clear up a misunderstanding–I said the year could have been defined by those scientific fiascos, not that that was the only or most appropriate definition. 

    Second, I actually think most of the lukewarmers I know do support the panoply of actions I advocate, although in different degrees of emphasis.

    Third, while I agree that the focus of lukewarmers is on problems with how the consensus operates, I disagree that that is problematical. The consensus has the power, their mistakes have consequences that go far beyond the more frequent mistakes of skeptics. Put them in power and watch me jump all over Morano and Monckton…

    Lastly, I don’t really mind criticism of skeptics (and lukewarmers) by the consensus. Especially when it’s as mindless as evidenced by some of the commenters here (not referring to you, Joshua, just in case you’re still following the thread). Criticism comes with the territory.

    What I mind is calling employers, trying to get editors fired, lying, publishing false information–thuggish pool hall tactics. It’s as though they don’t feel their position is strong enough to win the day with facts.

    I could be a lot closer to you than you realize–but that will remain hidden and unknowable as long as you and the consensus climate scientists permit certain types to flock to your banner and sully it with their tawdry behavior.

    P.S. I also will vote for Arctic ice decline as the signature event for 2012.

  52. […] the decline of the saliency of the climate issue.  Keith Kloor has an interesting article entitled The Greenhouse that takes a look backwards at statements made by previous presidential/vice presidential […]

  53. Greg Schiller says:

    To rewind back to 2008, we will have to scroll past 2009.  How exactly does one undo ClimateGate?

  54. #23 it’s already warm enough to melt 2-3 km of ice. The open question is how long it will take.

    Since atmospheric fossil carbon is approximately cumulative even on that time scale, this means we not only need to stop emitting carbon altogether, but we have to find some artificial way of drawing the already released carbon down a bit. Otherwise the melting is already bought and paid for, and the delivery is on its way. 

    Roughly speaking, melting Greenland happens at about 350 ppmv. Greenland did melt in the previous interglacial, which was briefly warmer than the present one and at it speak comparable to the recent anthropogenically enhanced temperature. So it’s a close call even without the anthropogenic push.

  55. Ed Forbes says:

    mt “Roughly speaking, melting Greenland happens at about 350 ppmv. ..”And this statement is based on models with unproven, even disproved for some, climate sensitivity.If one were to use a climate sensitivity to increased co2 in the models per the actual observed physics, Greenland ice melt ignores 350ppm.

  56. Tom Fuller says:

    Greenland will lose ice. However, Greenland ice loss will become signficant only if global warming continues monotonically for 3,000 years. To suggest otherwise is to make a conscious contribution to the continuation of ignorance about climate change. Shame on you Dr. Tobis.

  57. andrew adams says:

    Hi Tom,

    I agree with a lot of what you say in principle, although I know we will disagree on specific cases. I certainly agree that scientists have a certain responsibility to uphold the standing of their profession and given the position they hold as “authority” figures in the debate they should in some ways be held to higher standards than bloggers and commenters and others. That goes for the likes of Curry and Lindzen as well as the “consensus” side. Of course they should be open to criticism and I don’t even necessarily expect people to be even handed. It doesn’t shock me that people on a particular side of the debate will devote more time and effort to criticising those they see as being on the other side than those on their own – iIt’s only those who style themselves a “honest brokers” while concentrating their fire on one side who I would really criticise in that respect. But that criticism should still be fair and a lot of what I see goes beyond what is reasonable and proportionate, and the automatic assumption of sinister motives is tiresome.

    I would also add that those who are not scientists but try to be “players” in the debate, especially if they have influence or their views carry weight with a particular constituency, also deserve a level of scrutiny above that given to us mere commenters or low profile bloggers, although in the end anyone who puts their views out in public has a responsibility to argue honestly and get their fact straight. None of us should get a pass for spreading BS. 

  58. Tom Fuller says:

    Andrew, I agree totally with what you write in #57.

  59. Eli Rabett says:

    Defining global warming as a situation where CO2 is above 350 ppm means, yes, Greenland is toast. 

  60. Ed Forbes says:

    even the MET now agrees that there has been NO warming the last 16 yrs….–chart-prove-it.html……..[Prof Jones also admitted that the climate models were imperfect: “˜We don’t fully understand how to input things like changes in the oceans, and because we don’t fully understand it you could say that natural variability is now working to suppress the warming. We don’t know what natural variability is doing.’]

  61. Keith Kloor says:

    Ed Forbes,

    Nice try.

    There are few reporters more unreliable than David Rose. See here.

  62. Tom Fuller says:

    I think I’ll go into business selling toasters. I wonder how much energy they would consume if left on for the purpose of melting Greenland for 3,000 years…

  63. Ed Forbes says:

    Keith…so…are you accusing the DM of lying about dear PJ quotes?…15 yrs is a problem……wait….it takes 20 yrs to be a problem…. Makes one wonder what dear PJ will say in another couple of yrs….it takes 30 yrs?;…or does it take until dear PJ retires?

  64. Mike Mangan says: change ranks well behind PBS funding in terms of importance. 

  65. Nullius in Verba says:


    If you check out the actual quote, you’ll see Phil was starting his count from 2004/5.

    Easily refuted stories like this do climate scepticism no good, in the long run. Some sceptics need to be more sceptical.

  66. #63 why don’t you do the arithmetic yourself? It might be interesting to compare renewably powered toasters to fossil fuel powered toasters, too. 

  67. #55 “Roughly speaking, melting Greenland happens at about 350 ppmv. ..”And this statement is based on models with unproven, even disproved for some, climate sensitivity

    Nonsense, even leaving aside the abuse of the word “model”. We have the very physical evidence of the Eemian as well.

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