About that Controversial New Yorker Article on Climate Change by a Famous Novelist

If you follow climate and environmental discourse as closely as I do, then you know that the recent New Yorker piece by the acclaimed novelist Jonathan Franzen has triggered 1) applause, 2) denunciation, 3) head-scratching.

The self-proclaimed eco-pragmatists at The Breakthrough Institute are cheering.

The self-appointed climate change truth squad is jeering.


Others who focus on sustainability issues found it worthy of discussion.

So what are we to make of these contradictory reactions? Are critics and admirers reading the same article?

Yes, and they are responding, legitimately, to different arguments being made in the same piece. Let’s break them down and see what  Franzen gets right and wrong.

To start, he laments that climate change is at the top of the environmentalist agenda today, shifting wildlife conservation and biodiversity off center stage. This claim is somewhat true, to the extent that climate change dominates public conversation, environmentally speaking. Indeed, Franzen likely channels the frustration of many conservation biologists when he writes:

And so I came to feel miserably conflicted about climate change. I accepted its supremacy as the environmental issue of our time, but I felt bullied by its dominance.

Right here climate activists can see where Franzen is headed and I’m sure they are not happy with the suggestion that they are monopolizing Big Green’s attention. But guess what? It’s pretty much true and Franzen isn’t the only one that has felt conflicted about this. The prominent earth scientist Jon Foley has written:

In the rush to portray the perils of climate change, many other serious issues have been largely ignored. Climate change has become the poster child of environmental crises, complete with its own celebrities and campaigners. But is it so serious that we can afford to overlook the rise of infectious disease, the collapse of fisheries, the ongoing loss of forests and biodiversity, and the depletion of global water supplies?

Although I’m a climate scientist by training, I worry about this collective fixation on global warming as the mother of all environmental problems.

He said that in 2009! Now, in fairness, with Foley’s help, those other concerns have since become a larger part of environmental discourse.

For Franzen, the main concern is birds, since they are his passion. In his piece, he suggests that the present-day welfare of birds is not being properly attended to, because groups that have pledged to preserve and protect birds, such as the National Audubon Society, have turned their attention to climate change. It’s an unsubstantiated charge, which Audubon responds to thoroughly and tartly:

Moreover, Franzen is deeply unfair in his characterization of Audubon, suggesting that the organization has gone wobbly  in its mission:

In recent decades, it’s been better known for its holiday cards and its plush toy cardinals and bluebirds, which sing when you squeeze them.

Oh, please. I worked as an editor at Audubon magazine for much of the 2000s, so I had a front seat view to its many worthy conservation initiatives, a number of which I covered. My takeaway experience was that Audubon was trying to reconcile its impassioned grassroots with a national and international blueprint for conservation. Since leaving the magazine in 2008, I haven’t kept up with the organization, but I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t just as actively involved in efforts to preserve crucial habitat for wildlife and, just as importantly, in efforts to bring multiple stakeholders to the conservation table, which is messy, under-appreciated work.

It was surprising to me that a bird lover like Franzen, who must be familiar with Audubon’s many conservation activities, could be so cavalierly dismissive of the organization.

Franzen’s lengthy discussion of the complexities of climate change is more accurately grounded, particularly how difficult it is for the average person to grasp the enormous scale of global warming, much less what to do about it. But he sets up a false construct when he pits climate activists against conservationists. Here’s the strawman:

It’s not that we shouldn’t care whether global temperatures rise two degrees or four this century, or whether the oceans rise twenty inches or twenty feet; the differences matter immensely. Nor should we fault any promising effort, by foundations or N.G.O.s or governments, to mitigate global warming or adapt to it. The question is whether everyone who cares about the environment is obliged to make climate the overriding priority.

That’s one hell of a presumption. I think this response is apt:

The bottom line: People can be equally concerned about climate change and the plight of birds. Sure, some folks are going to be motivated more by the former, but others will be just as motivated by the latter. The question that Franzen should have tried to answer is this one: Has climate change become the overriding priority of conservation groups, to the detriment of ecosystems and biodiversity threatened today?

That is not a rhetorical question either, given what many researchers contend. There is an opportunity cost to one concern taking precedence over another. We saw this play out, for example, during the debate over endangered species protection (remember those contentious days?), when the focus was on single species, until conservation policies became more holistic.

I get that it is impolite–maybe even politically incorrect–to point out that climate change does compete for the green mind’s limited pool of worry. So it was perhaps inevitable that Franzen would invite a backlash by treading into such territory. But he didn’t help himself by putting forth a muddled argument. Such a shame, too, because I think it is legitimate to question, as Jon Foley put it five years ago, the “collective fixation on global warming as the mother of all environmental problems.”

132 Responses to “About that Controversial New Yorker Article on Climate Change by a Famous Novelist”

  1. Tom C says:

    The “green mind’s limited pool of worry”? The pool is unlimited, so need to fret that. Now the “mind” part…

  2. Uncle Al says:

    Klimate Kaos is directly attributable to enviroweasels that eat coolth and excrete warmth. Enviroweasels are silent, invisible, and leave no evidence of their existence other than their effect. They are violently reproducing and can only be countered by liberal application of the Carbon Tax on Everything.

    Rerouting planetary fresh water depots into irrigation then evaporation – Aral Sea, Lake Baikal, Lake Meade – has no effect on sea level, nor does the continental desiccation of Australia and California countered by multi- trillion gallon/year deep aquifer recoveries.

    How many of Rachel Carson’s 1962 endangered species are gone in 2015, 53 years later? Subsidized get out there with guns, traps, and poison to get the stalled apocalypse back on track.

  3. Nom de Plume says:

    All this is typical when you get to one-issue viewpoints. If that one issue is climate change, then that will dominate. If it’s birds, that will dominate. And if you ever – horrors – say that one issue isn’t the most important issue, then you are assured a firestorm. You can even say the “approved” things, but if you declare someone’s one-issue isn’t the only issue, then great is the outcry.

    I will note that the comment “ongoing lost of forest” doesn’t hold true for the US, which has seen an increase in forested land since the mid 1950s, mostly due to big ag that everyone seems to hate and the consolidation of acreage into large fields, with smaller parcels and more marginal land returned to forest.

  4. A_Siegel says:

    Far more useful than Franzen is Robert’s take on him: http://grist.org/living/jonathan-franzen-is-confused-about-climate-change-but-then-lots-of-people-are/

    I agree that the ‘one concern taking precedence’ could have been a vaild / useful discussion, but Franzen’s piece is fatally flawed. If nothing else, what were The New Yorker’s editorial team thinking when they let through an attack on a peer-reviewed study where the author made explicit that he couldn’t be bothered to actually make an effort to look at the actual study. There are other serious flaws in Franzen’s argument but that, in itself, should have been enough to keep it from being published: http://getenergysmartnow.com/2015/04/01/jonathan-franzens-newyorker-diatribe-re-birds-climate-change-is-according-to-conservationists-for-the-birds/

  5. pookums says:

    Wait, you’re not going to comment on the most ridiculous aspect of the article? You know, the part where he suggests global warming would actually be beneficial for bird populations.

    I think that is where he is receiving a large portion of derision. There is a lot of uncertainty on what the material effects of climate change are going to be, but it seems fairly certain that it will not benefit bird populations. The fact that he gets that piece of science so wrong is probably why people are having such a difficult time reconciliing the more salient parts of the piece.

  6. Scott Scarborough says:

    Yes. That’s the ticket! We all know that warm weather is bad for bird populations. Just look at how many more bird species there are in the arctic vs the tropics. And with the rapid warming of climate change birds will obviously be hit the hardest because they change location so slowly!

  7. JH says:

    Biodiversity and Climate Change: two different forms of windmill tilting.

  8. Bob Bingham says:

    Most of the big action in climate change is in the oceans and this short video sets out some of the threats. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMJpqxFaMqk

  9. mememine says:

    What’s unstoppable is 34 more years of failure in achieving the climate action targets you fear mongers said we needed to SAVE THE PLANET.
    Science would have made an exception by now for a threat to the planet and would have said; “100% proven” by now not 97% certainty.
    Proof that you fear mongers exaggerate a crisis to our children is the fact that not one CO2 scientist can be quoted saying they are not allowed to say “100% proven” but YOU can.

  10. JH says:

    It’s a safe bet that the Climate Mob will attack anyone who suggests climate change will have any positive effect on anything.

    It’s not clear why you think it’s “fairly certain” that climate will have a negative impact on “bird” populations.

  11. JH says:

    Climate change will make “humanity burn” ??
    The cranks who write stuff like this aren’t doing their cause any favors.

  12. Mike Richardson says:

    Kwasi-Koherent Konservative Kommenters Keep Kalling their Kompetence into Kwestion. Wow, you’re right, alliteration with “K”s can be fun! You do realize that the reason many species were brought back from the brink of legislation was the Endangered Species Act, limiting pollutants like DDT that were affecting the eggs of the birds, and other legislation to actually protect them, right? See, this is what I love about any discussion of policy with those on the right — you take action to prevent the worst case scenario, and then when it doesn’t come to pass as a direct result of those actions, you hear, “Well why didn’t the birds all die?” or “I thought the ozone was supposed to completely evaporate?” or “Weren’t all the rivers supposed to be dead by now?” Don’t worry, though, thanks to all the delay and manufactured doubt on the climate change issue, we’ll probably get to see close to a worst case scenario in the coming decades and centuries. Then of course, those of us that actually accepted the science and kept calling for sensible measures will somehow get blamed as more reactionary forces start trying to deal with a more “Kaotic Klimate.” Klowns.

  13. JH says:

    Um, no.
    Environmental regulations that seem sensible on their face are stretched to the limit and beyond in courts to suit the far left environmental agenda.

    And sorry fella, it’s not just conservatives that are fed up with the endless demands of the environmental movement and the impediment to growth and jobs the increasingly invasive and ineffective environmental legislation creates.

    Why not tell the truth? There’s no climate change legislation because PEOPLE IN THE CENTER DON’T WANT IT. They’ve had enough environmentalism. They want JOBS not turtles and wolves.

  14. Tom Scharf says:

    The only things that are certain in life are death, taxes, and a green being taken to the slaughterhouse if they write something that questions the dogma of climate change. Beware, the climate thought police are always on patrol.

    There is certainly no reasonable way one could question whether half of all bird species will go extinct in North America by the end of the century is there? I have been told that is what the “science says”. Or was it possibly that they might only be threatened? Of course this term is left undefined in every article I have ever read on this hyperbole.

    One only needs to review all the environmental articles written on the Guardian and NYT for the past 5 years to see that climate change has sucked all the oxygen out of the environmental cause. A little talked about side effect of this myopia is that it hurts all environmental causes because the entire area is stigmatized as politically toxic. Go to any environmental meetup and you are 100% likely to beaten with the climate guilt baton, fun for everyone.

    How has this single cause focus been working out for them?

    1. Americans are most worried about polluted drinking water
    2. Americans worry least about global warming


  15. Mark Caponigro says:

    Jonathan Franzen’s essay is basically very good, and he has done a great service by calling attention to the “bullying,” on the part of those environmentalists who insist that climate action is the only true environmentalism now, and that other, not directly-related concerns of environmentalists, such as wildlife conservation (sometimes at least), are either old-fashioned and passé, at best, or dangerous distractions from what really matters, at worst. Franzen’s passion and indignation on this point, which have more to do with his defense of his beloved birds, and his zealous appreciation of conservation workers (such as the two groups that he reports on, in Peru and Costa Rica, a valuable part of the essay which his critics have been ignoring) are entirely appropriate.

    (And with regard to his critics, I must express my gratitude to Keith Kloor, for a balanced comment that sheds a great deal of light, and which is much better, fairer and more helpful than the comments by Joe Romm in ThinkProgress, and David Roberts in Grist. I am especially grateful for his words about the National Audubon Society. I have heard opinions like Franzen’s, scorning the national society but praising the work of the local and regional Audubon societies; but I don’t know enough to judge, and in fact I feel I have learned a lot from the magazine over the years.)

    Our age is confronted and challenged by two great global crises, the biodiversity crisis ( the “sixth extinction”) and the climate crisis (which in fact is one of several factors creating the biodiversity crisis). The former is the more grave, because it has to do directly with the life and death of countless living creatures, both of individuals and of the species to which they belong. The latter is grave too, especially insofar as it makes life harder for both human beings and other living creatures. And indeed one of the four categories of true pro-life causes is a commitment to environmental ethics, including in the first place action in the face of both of those two crises.

    But as I see it, the reason the climate crisis has tended to overwhelm the biodiversity crisis in recent environmental discourse (save such excellent and important writers as E.O.Wilson and Elizabeth Kolbert, who are not many) has to do with people’s unmitigated anthropocentrism, i.e. the unquestioned belief that human beings and their interests matter much more than do other living creatures. That might be an ethically defensible position — I allow it is — but that is hardly the end of the matter. In fact the counter-argument can and should be made, that so long as human beings carry on failing to acknowledge that nonhuman animals, and all living creatures really, deserve some measure of moral regard; and that no act of killing, however justifiable, is morally neutral, but rather is always to be regretted on a profound level; then none of their enterprises in the future will ever prove truly “sustainable,” however appropriate to the climate crisis they might be.

    As for Franzen, he can defend himself, needless to say. (And I don’t think the editors of The New Yorker should feel as embarrassed as Franzen’s critics think they should be.) I don’t claim to see where his philosophical tentacles are reaching toward, with regard to the kind of climate action he is or is not recommending. But I regret that environmentalists have been so disturbed by all that, which strikes me as no more than a thought-experiment, that as a result that they have felt justified in ignoring what is of real value.

  16. OWilson says:

    Sad to think that each year 2,600,000 children are starving and dying in this world while the religious leaders argue about how many angels can fit through the eye of a needle.

  17. BlueScreenOfDeath says:

    “how many angels can fit through the eye of a needle.”

    That’s camels as I recollect.

    It’s angels that dance on the head of pins.

    Notwithstanding, your point stands.

  18. wfmc says:

    “The possible explanation as to why we are still
    in an interglacial relates to the early anthropogenic hypothesis of Ruddiman
    (2003, 2005). According to that hypothesis, the anomalous increase of CO2 and
    CH4 concentrations in the atmosphere as observed in mid- to late Holocene
    ice-cores results from anthropogenic deforestation and rice irrigation, which
    started in the early Neolithic at 8000 and 5000 yr BP, respectively. Ruddiman
    proposes that these early human greenhouse gas emissions prevented the
    inception of an overdue glacial that otherwise would have already started.”


    Darned that reality thingamajig! Just when you thought it was safe to remove the climate security blanket from the late Holocene atmosphere, here I go and introduce you to the two other debates in climate science (1) when will the Holocene end, and (2) is CO2/Anthropocene the reason we are not already in the climatic madhouse known as glacial inception?

    decisions, decisions………

  19. Dan Pangburn says:

    Existing data and rudimentary math prove that CO2 has no significant effect on climate.

    Existing data includes temperature and CO2 determined from Vostok, Antarctica ice cores for several glacial and inter-glacial periods.

    Temperature and CO2 (Berner, 2001) for the entire Phanerozoic eon (about 542 million years) are graphed at http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html ).

    A forcing must act for a duration to produce a temperature change. For example, a burner under a block of iron will cause the temperature of the block of iron to increase as long as the net forcing is positive. The burner is a positive forcing while radiation and convection from the block provide a negative forcing. The temperature asymptotically approaches a new steady-state temperature as the positive and negative forcings approach cancelling each other. The temperature change of the block at any time equals a scale factor times the time-integral of the net forcing up to that time.

    If the temperatures at the beginning and end of the duration are equal, and the time-integral of the forcing (or the time-integral with respect to an average forcing, or the time-integral with respect to a threshold forcing) is not zero, the scale factor must be zero. Periods of equal beginning and ending temperatures exist in the data records. If beginning and end temperatures are equal, but the time-integral of the CO2 level (or difference) is not zero, the scale factor must be zero and thus CO2 can have no significant effect on average global temperature.

    Climate sensitivity, (the increase in AGT due to doubling of CO2) is
    therefore not significantly different from zero.

    Additional proof showing that CO2 has no significant effect on climate and identification of the two factors that do are disclosed at http://agwunveiled.blogspot.com

    Climate has always changed….naturally. The last change is that global warming stopped.

  20. Mike Richardson says:

    That may be true, until it becomes a quality of life issue, such as having drinkable water and breathable air. Which is why environmentalists are often the victims of their own success, since those in the middle can always be swayed by arguments appealing to short-term self-interest as you’ve made. So which species do you think are vital to human well-being? Or do we wipe them all out except for food animals and staple crops? Why stop there, there’s always the Soylent Green solution. At least that way, you’ll still have jobs, even if it’s just tending those vats of Soylent Green. If that seems an extreme view of your position, it’s only a polar reversal of the view you present of environmentalism, which encompasses everything from the extremes of Greenpeace to the more pragmatic approaches of those of us who recognize some concessions to economic concerns are necessary, but shouldn’t jeopardize ecosystems that may benefit us in intangible ways we won’t realize until they’re gone.

  21. Mike Richardson says:

    Even sadder to think that much of that is due to extreme climate events such as drought, which we’ve contributed to in many ways. Unfortunately, as you’ve indicated, religious dogma hasn’t helped, because many of the regions so affected, such as East Africa and the Middle East, are embroiled in religious conflict.

  22. Mike Richardson says:

    Some species actually are pretty fine-tuned to a narrow range. The prairie sage grouse, burrowing owls, and species specially adapted to a diet that exists in a specific location are having trouble adapting. Sea gulls, crows, and other species, not so much. But you have to be careful in over-generalizing when you say “bird populations.”

  23. Thomas Fuller says:

    No, Mike, most of it is due to indoor pollution, lack of micronutrients and diarrhea.

  24. socalpa says:

    I am glad that this issue was confronted .. The Climate Jihadis have antagonized the 99% and are largely responsible for Five Blue Energy States going Deep Red in November 2014 and could reach Fifteen energy States Red in 2016.

    Climate sucked up more than 200 billion in Research Dollars .(47Billion Research 2003 -2009 per GAO)

    Meanwhile.. Medical Research went to 1958 levels. During a period where virulent diseases can spread across the Globe in 24 hours ?

    H.S kids in Detroit show 5% proficiency in math,7% in English x 100 cities. Murder rates = to war zone casualties per yr in U.S cities. .

    Now Climate is 1/2 NASA budget and we have to take a Russian Taxi to the Space Station We Built.

    For What ? Climate Models that cost billions and show less than 2% skill at forecasting the observed temps for over two Decades ? Zero effect on climate despite US emissions declining below 1994 levels as now Chinas’ emissions exceed U.S. by 100% and will climb till 2030 ?

    Enough !

  25. JH says:

    ” the more pragmatic approaches of those of us who recognize some concessions to economic concerns are necessary”
    IMO what you view as “pragmatic” has shifted far to the left of where “pragmatic” was in 1970.
    To some extent it’s true that environmentalism is a victim of its own success – I suspect our air and water is cleaner now than it has been since 1945.
    That’s exactly what’s supposed to happen – and that’s exactly my point: When you solve a problem, you’re done.
    That’s why what greens today call “pragmatic” has shifted to far the left. The center was won by 1980. There’s nothing left to do there except maintain the status quo. The low-cost, high-return work was done then, and ever since we’ve been pushing into increasingly ineffective and increasingly expensive regulation. But green orgs have to do this because people employed by green orgs want to stay employed.
    In the end, what you call “pragmatic” isn’t pragmatic at all. It’s incremental. It takes more and more from the economy and gives less and less back in the form of benefits. Ultimately it’s detrimental because the reality of environmentalism is that its costs are so high that it can’t exist without a strong economy.
    And personally I think it’s kind of interesting that the flat line in personal incomes since 1980ish correlates well with the growth of the environmental industry.

  26. JH says:

    Species are “having trouble adapting” to climate change because 80% of their available habitat has been consumed by development.

    Climate change is the least of most species’ problems. That’s the whole friggin’ point.

  27. Mike Richardson says:

    Correlation does not equal causation in this case. More likely causes of flattening incomes are weakened unions, an excess of supply side economics, and competition from cheaper overseas manufacturing. I would argue that the resulting reduction in middle income growth might well reduce concern for environmental protection, but it’s not directly caused by it. Even if you went backwards on environmental legislation and allowed more polluting industry, it still wouldn’t necessarily be cheaper than the cheapest overseas manufacturing, and I don’t think we’d want to go to such extremes to do something that could be better accomplished with targeted tariffs and more balanced trade agreements. A lot of factors go into balancing human well-being and various environmental concerns, as the article argues, and you have to be able to multi-task and weigh these issues adequately or risk damaging one cause by overvaluing another.

  28. Mike Richardson says:

    Development is the most immediate problem, true, but changing climate can drastically shrink or even eliminate the range in which these species could relocate as development pushes them out of old habitats. But you’re right, suburban sprawl and other inefficient development has had a disproportionate effect on some of the more specialized species who can’t adapt as well to new habitats.

  29. JH says:

    “Correlation does not equal causation in this case.”

    Nor in any other case.

    I, on the other hand, argue that while environmental regulation alone isn’t the cause of our sputtering economic growth, it is one of many causes with similar roots in the liberal Canon.

    That being said, the environmental industry has seriously curtailed certain industries in the US – even though it hasn’t curtailed the environmental hazards they create, nor the demand for the products of those industries.

    It *has* driven them overseas – to countries that have little if any environmental regulation. Oil, mining and logging are obvious examples – even the shale boom is mostly on private land, and 2/3 of US lumber comes from overseas.

    So the environmental industry and the regulations it foists upon us are certainly doing their part to destroy wealth.

  30. JH says:

    Changing climate, for example, may eliminate some of the 15-odd species of chipmunks that live in climatically-isolated ranges in the basin and range.

    But the question is this: why does it matter? There’s a single species of chipmunk (Tamius striatus, right?) pretty much everywhere east of the front range and no one seems to be the worse for it.

    The reality is that those 15-odd species of chipmunk in the basin and range may have genetic differences but they occupy the same niche and it’s pretty much irrelevant from an ecological standpoint if they’re all different or all the same. The ecosystem won’t collapse if one is eliminated and another takes over.

    Same for the spotted owl and the barred owl. Preserving the spotted owl when the barred owl is more fit for the niche may be worse from an ecological standpoint than just letting the barred owl take over. So the question becomes: are we preserving the spotted owl to ameliorate enviroguilt or because it serves some real ecological function? The former, I’m sure.

  31. Bart_R says:

    Franzen on climate change is as well-informed and thoughtful as Ayn Rand was on Relativity, and every bit as useful.

  32. Bart_R says:

    Amazingly, to paraphrase the Audobon Society, the world can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    There’s nothing about volunteering to make fossil waste dumping worse that makes child poverty better.

    There are few who can claim to speak for the world’s poorest; by and large those who have the best authority as representatives of that number object to their air being trespassed on and their future being mortgaged as much as any.

    I find it reprehensible when the poorest of the poor are revictimized by having their name and voice misappropriated so.

  33. Thomas Fuller says:

    The ones revictimizing the poor are the good folk at USAID and Greenpeace who refuse to allow financing for fossil fuel plants for them.

  34. Thomas Fuller says:

    There’s actually been some work on attribution for declining species, including birds. Hunting/fishing far and away largest threat. Habitat destruction number two. Pollution number three. Introduction of alien species number four. Global warming is too recent to be much of a factor, but if continued at 1976-1998 rate, will become a factor around 2040.

  35. Thomas Fuller says:

    The public was all on board for the regulations enacted 40 years ago. When we talk about what changed, environmentalists like to point the fingers at conservative opponents, conveniently forgetting who set the EPA up. And they also forget that conservative opponents were just as conservative then.

  36. Thomas Fuller says:

    Umm, I’m writing from Taipei so feel free to correct me, but from here it looks like the U.S. economy is doing quite well and has been for some time.

    Y’all are manufacturing more, employing more, importing more and exporting more than at any time in history, if my eyes aren’t playing tricks on me.

    Whatever Obama and environmentalists are doing, it doesn’t seem to be damaging the economy much.

  37. Bird watchers suffer from narrowed optics!

  38. OWilson says:

    You hypocrites with all the latest tech toys, wish to deny the third world children, a prosperity and standard of living, which you have benefited from.

    Well, now you’ve goy YOURS, who cares?

    But who made you god?

  39. OWilson says:

    Maybe environmentalists fiddling while the World is burning may be a more fitting analogy.

  40. OWilson says:

    That’s the intrinsic power of the American economy, running on what little momentum is left.

    It takes years to kill the enteprenuerial instinct.

    Takes generations before we all can believe that a businessman didn’t build his own business, or as Hillary, your likely next president puts it, “Don’t let anybody tell you that businesses create jobs!”

  41. Bart_R says:

    Your position is an immensely ignorant misrepresentation of the situation.

    Fossil fuel power plants are the more expensive and less safe option in almost every case, even where appropriate at all.

    In areas where the population is decentralized, the high cost of building new grid mandates small, local generation and smart grid technology instead of centralized plants in many cases. Pipelines for fuel are inherently risky infrastructure in times of turmoil and moving fuel by rail and truck is particularly troublesome in less developed regions. Even in the developed world, just like the case of land line vs. mobile networks, no one today would go to the expense of building the centralized grid of pipelines and power lines given what new smart technology can do.

    There are two broad categories of centralized power generation: base load and peak. Base load is covered CO2-free by geothermal and hydro, and with carbon already in the cycle by pyrolysis; peak is covered by solar and wind with pumped storage.

    Geothermal is one third less expensive, and has no ongoing fuel costs so does not introduce the uncertainty of future fossil prices and dependence on outside energy. Small and medium scale hydroelectricity are cheaper than large scale centralized hydro or fossil and have the side benefit of integrated water management to reduce floods and improve irrigation and drinking water supply. Combined, these two options cover over 83% of base load need and are cheaper than fossil, plus assure local independent energy supply.

    Biofuel where not merely a scam to turn cropland into burning land is a superior substitute for fossil fuel: it gives local producers a market for organic wastes (sewage, silage, understory growth needing to be cleared as fire hazard, kitchen wastes) and when using pyrolysis to generate stationary power creates biochar as a soil amendment and useful product as well as producer gas (natural gas substitute), diesel and gasoline drop-in replacements. Whatever base load in the developing world (and otherwise) can’t be handled by geothermal or mixed hydro can amply be covered with biofuel, with the side benefit of supplying mobile liquid fuels and soil amendments.

    For peak load, in over 75% of cases, new solar or wind is cheaper (and always safer, faster to install and more independent) than any form of fossil. With pumped hydro storage, excess capacity insures smooth power supply on a smart grid, and the price of solar drops 20% with every doubling of installed capacity, so it only becomes a better and better deal for developing nations as they move further in that direction. The opposite with fossil.

    So, tell me again why you are voluntarily promoting something harmful to the people you choose to revictimize?

  42. Bart_R says:

    You’ve got it backwards. The latest tech toys are geothermal, small and medium hydro, pyrolysis renewable power, solar and wind smart grids/gridless systems. They’re cheaper than fossil, safer, less reliant on foreign and uncertain resources, and if the developed world had gone with them over fossil for the past century we’d be enjoying far more prosperity and a better standard of living.

    The developed world has the burden of having to unhook itself from the infrastructure of the fossil mistakes it has made. The less developed world can benefit from this tragedy and go instead with the latest smart grid and gridless geothermal, hydro, biomass from waste, solar and wind technologies unfettered.

    I’m not saying this is how it’s going to go: the democratic choices of independent nations ought decide. I’m simply pointing out that your way stinks, and you’re demanding it on behalf of people you don’t speak for, using their hardships as your excuse to promote something bad for us, and for them.

  43. Thomas Fuller says:

    Are, umm, you kidding? You have repealed the business cycle? I don’t know whether to ring a bell or sound the alarm…

  44. Thomas Fuller says:

    I’ve been promoting solar power for rural electrification programs for a decade now. I worked for a solar power company. I’m the biggest fan of solar you will meet on this thread.

    And you’re full of it. The coal fired power plant in South Africa was just the most recent example. That was the one that produced the famous Greenpeace quote ‘We know where you live and we be many while you be few.’

    Where there is no grid of course programs like rural solar are best. But that doesn’t help the energy starved in India’s biggest cities or Brazil’s poorest ones.

    Blanket condemnation of fossil fuels is as ridiculous as those saying coal can power the economy to new heights forever. You’re just two sides of the same coin.

  45. Bart_R says:

    We’ve had this discussion before. You once long ago had a job in obsolete solar tech. You’re not the biggest fan of solar at all, to judge by your past remarks, and certainly not up-to-date on the current state of solar.

    Fossil waste dumping can absolutely be subject of blanket condemnation due the fourfold trespass of soil microbe disruption, plant hormone antagonism, aquatic acidification and AGW. Note the subtle difference between that and fossil fuels: where one can obtain use without dumping, one is exempt from these objections. Sequestration, plastics, paints, pharmaceuticals, metallurgy feedstock, construction materials, industrial chemicals, fertilizer, binders and lubricants are all fine, by these lights. You’ve misrepresented the case I made.

    While indoor pollution is a real thing, it’s also a real thing alleviated in almost all cases with a simple stovepipe, a solution costing pennies.

    Those (like Patrick Moore) who talk about micronutrients are often associated with marketing campaigns for GMOs with a decided profit motive for promising what their programs cannot deliver, so are immediately suspect. The best way to get micronutrients to people is to allow real, local food to get to people without interference or obstacles. That most certainly doesn’t come from marketers.

    And when you say diarrhea in the context of the poorest of the poor you are talking about clean water; coal fired plants take up water and do nothing to help in its management or purification. Small and medium scale hybrid hydroelectric is the best solution for clean drinking water.

    Sure, there are cities and megacities that are not rural but that are greatly in need of reliable power. And guess what: they’re almost exclusively located where small and medium hydro, pumped hydro, solar, geothermal, ocean energy, and wind are most plentiful and most appropriate, and where we know from the example of Chinese Death Smogs that coal is utterly wrong.

  46. JH says:

    Bart – where do you get those happy glasses?

  47. Bart_R says:

    Thank you so much for your well-reasoned and thought-provoking remark.

    Having thus proven your talent at random online drive-by attack, perhaps you are ready to move up in the world to hanging out the passenger window of a car while the driver cruises around so you can yell, wolf-whistle and gesture obscenities?

  48. Bart_R says:

    If you seek a benefit, pay for it. If you seek to impose what you call a benefit on others against their will, without their consent, and without offering compensation to them, that’s trespass and assault.

    Why is it obscurants pretend they don’t know this?

  49. DaveJR says:

    I propose it be called the “Let them eat cake” solution.

  50. JH says:

    G’day Mr. Fuller!

    “the U.S. economy is doing quite well and has been for some time.”

    “improving” is the state of the US economy. “doing well” is not an appropriate description.

    Annual GDP hasn’t broken 2.5% since 2006. That’s not the mark of “doing well”. From ’92 thru ’05, GDP slipped under 2.5% only twice.

    There’s a reason there’s no inflation: wages are barely moving. Consumer spending is malignant. Credit for home buyers is still very tight. There’s a reason the Fed isn’t raising rates: the economy just isn’t that strong.

    The unemployment rate including people looking for work but not reporting as unemployed is still at about 10%. Most of the jobs being created are low wage jobs. Business watchers are expecting a wave of mergers of major health care corps – including layoffs of the newly redundant.

    So I think your suggestion that the economy is “doing well” is up for some revision. We’re managing. But we’re not thriving.

  51. bobito says:

    I was glad he was a dubious about the perils of climate change to Bald Eagles. I recall reading about that a couple years ago and found it absurd. I’ve seen bald eagles from Louisiana to Vermont, when it was snowing and when it was over 90 degrees. They always seem perfectly comfortable wherever they are.

    So, saying Bald Eagles are particularly vulnerable to climate change wreaks of a play on people’s patriotism and not anything that could be backed up with solid science…

  52. JH says:

    Not making sense…surprise.

  53. JH says:

    So what you’re saying is that conservatives want safe water and clean air too? Mr. Fuller, this is blasphemous! Conservatives live in a bubble of million dollar bills that isolates them from the environment! I can’t believe you don’t know that!

  54. Thomas Fuller says:

    Funny, Bart, don’t remember conversing with you. And someone who comes out with such drivel usually would make an impression.

    Come back when you know what you’re talking about.

    You’re wrong about the modernity of solar I worked with–it was 2011 and it was state of the art.

    I pretty much am familiar with the state of the art on solar. I write reports on it.

    The ‘fourfold trespass’ you write of is just a feeble way of lumping together stupid arguments.

    And then you bring up GMOs. And wrongly again.

    What do you think powers water treatment facilities throughout the world? Green-eyed maniacs like yourself turning a handle?

    Tell you what, Bartie–when the green energy revolution is all built out, then we can turn off the coal plants.

    It’ll be around 2075. You can keep spouting nonsense for a long time that way.

  55. Thomas Fuller says:

    Or, as the US EPA writes, “Energy use can account for as much as 10 percent of a
    local government’s annual operating budget (U.S. DOE,

    A significant amount of this municipal energy
    use occurs at water and wastewater treatment facilities.
    With pumps, motors, and other equipment operating
    24 hours a day, seven days a week, water and wastewater
    facilities can be among the largest consumers of
    energy in a community—and thus among the largest
    contributors to the community’s total GHG emissions.

    Nationally, the energy used by water and wastewater
    utilities accounts for 35 percent of typical U.S. municipal
    energy budgets (NYSERDA, 2008).

    Electricity use
    accounts for 25–40 percent of the operating budgets for
    wastewater utilities and approximately 80 percent of
    drinking water processing and distribution costs
    (NYSERDA, 2008). Drinking water and wastewater
    systems account for approximately 3–4 percent of
    energy use in the United States, resulting in the emissions
    of more than 45 million tons of GHGs annually
    (U.S. EPA, 2012b).”


  56. JH says:

    Whoa! Easy there, pard, yur gonna hurt yourself with all that there angst!

  57. JH says:

    Hmmmm….I can see fishing being a major threat because it’s commercial. But hunting? Elk and deer populations here seem to be doing pretty well. Perhaps the “hunting” part refers to historic trophy hunting (bear, cougar) and outright efforts at extermination (wolf)? Or maybe I’m too North America centric.

    I’m not sure how well anyone can untangle warming-related declines from habitat loss and/or development. If a species is stopped from following a constant climate by, say, the Omaha urban corridor, is that a climate issue or a development issue?

  58. Bart_R says:

    2011 is three generations of solar ago. Which you’d know if the reports you write about writing at http://3000quads.com/ were very current. You started promoting solar a decade ago, which means you’re likely closer to five generations out of date, if you still cling to the state of the art when you started, as many do.

    I don’t particularly feel bad about how smugly you put me down, compared to the hatchet job you do on the entire DOE. Hey, if you’re smarter than the entire DOE, better informed, better connected, you’re certainly more impressive than little old Bart_R.

    But then I look at the market analyses BCC does on solar, and find that in 2010 the five year outlook was so far below the actual of the five years since as to be useless.

    So why should I trust your predictions about 2075? There’s no expertise in the world that can project the incredibly complex factors affecting world energy three years out. Sixty years, absent some pretty fly simulation model incorporating economics, technology, business, geopolitics and more?

    That’s just arrogance. See, I work reading reports like yours, and tossing out the ones that are a waste of my time.

    I get that you want to do good things. You’re working in a good field. But I am not your green-eyed enemy. I’m the voice of reason you never learned to listen to.

    There are plenty of well-meaning agencies that do revictimize the poor; you’re not wrong about Greenpeace, and I can’t comment on USAID. That doesn’t make you any better.

    And it’s true, there are a ton of non-GMO elements to micronutrient issues, with no one easy fix that applies everywhere, because like cancer micronutrient deficiency isn’t just one thing: poverty, war, distribution issues, ignorance, changing food technologies, displacement, climate, crime, pollution, disease, and even rising CO2 levels blocking mineral uptake to the food web in the world’s living waters, are all part of that umbrella. The people who group these dissimilar things under ‘micronutrients’ are generally marketers, selling a single fix that won’t work.

    There is no green energy revolution. There’s a failed and fraught ‘cheap energy’ policy argument that is choking the world with a subsidize-and-sweep-under-the-carpet approach to fossil. “Green” energy is just energy. The capacity suppressed by the ‘cheap fossil’ mob is ready to go right now, today. Coal would have continued as an energy product no later than the 1960’s anywhere in the world, if not for political interference, outside of niche use. Oil fossil energy ought have fallen to next to nothing by the 1980’s, except for the same vested interest manipulation. Natural gas is best used as feedstock for manufacturing, not burning.

    I’m not living in the future. You’re living in a past that never was.

  59. Bart_R says:

    Waste of my time.

  60. Bart_R says:

    Tell us what you know about graphene.

  61. Thomas Fuller says:

    Frost and Sullivan say the global market for solar was $59.84 billion in 2014. My published 2010 prediction for 2014 was $67 billion. Rather than underestimating solar I overestimated.

    Of course people who get interested in something like solar power would never keep up with changes in the technology. They would remain locked into what was capable and possible just at the time they entered the sector.

    That’s the way it works everywhere. With everything.


  62. Bart_R says:

    No easier way to get a man to admit he’s wrong than to say he’s wrong in a different way.

    If you’re off by 12% in just five years, what hope in 60? This is different from how GCM’s work, as they set out the parameters of what their projections are for, their baseline assumptions, and their reasoning.

    You merely guess, and then put people down based on your guess six decades before it’s come to pass. You don’t see the error in that approach?

    Also, it’s ‘buffoon’, that I am.

  63. Thomas Fuller says:

    It’s truly awe inspiring to see how effective the armor of ignorance is. You state I am outdated because I underestimated the growth of solar. You move on blithely when I show that was not the case.

    Buffoon is far too gentle a term for you.

  64. Thomas Fuller says:

    Tell us what you know about being honest in a conversation.

    Bart R: “But then I look at the market analyses BCC does on solar, and find that in 2010 the five year outlook was so far below the actual of the five years since as to be useless.”

    Tom Fuller: “Frost and Sullivan say the global market for solar was $59.84 billion in 2014. My published 2010 prediction for 2014 was $67 billion.”

  65. Thomas Fuller says:

    Yes, you need the time to concoct more lies about your opponents. Sorry to have disturbed.

  66. Thomas Fuller says:

    So, Cap and Trade and carbon taxes are trespassing and assault? There is a real world, BartR. You’re welcome to visit any time.

  67. Thomas Fuller says:

    BartR on any topic is as well-informed and thoughtful as Yertle the Turtle.

  68. Thomas Fuller says:

    It’s nice to see that the world has a capability that may some day be within your grasp, BartR. Even people like you deserve the audacity of hope.

  69. Bart_R says:

    Wow. Argument by link. Misleading argument by link.

    Honesty not much of a thing with you.


    Dyson is citing an oversimplified argument based on a single study that has since been refuted by newer data.

  70. Tom Fuller says:

    Starting in 1979, Dyson worked with the Institute for Energy Analysis on climate studies. This group, under the direction of Alvin Weinberg, pioneered multidisciplinary climate studies, including a strong biology group. Also during the 1970s, he worked on climate studies conducted by the JASON defense advisory group.

    Dyson retired from the Institute for Advanced Study in 1994.

    So you see, BartR, he’s not citing an oversimplified argument based on a single study. He’s summarizing 15 years of work in climate science, including his association with the builder of the first climate model.

    It’s kind of clinical, your behavior.

  71. Bart_R says:

    So you prefer the tacit racism of “maroon”?

    Let’s look at the armor of ignorance: yours lets you boast about being wrong by 12% in just five years by your own lights and have the temerity to insist your own personal claims about 2075 prove anything.

    Yet you can’t tell us a thing about graphene. Discovered so little time ago, this wonder material is now the subject of speculation in almost every aspect of technology as to what it might replace at 1,000 times lower power demand for equivalent function, or at near perfect efficiency, or to produce new technologies previously unthinkable. If you don’t know graphene, how can you predict 2075? And what if it doesn’t pan out as promised? Or delivers more than we suspect?

    How about nanocellulose? Tell us more about that potential replacement for steel and aluminum at one quarter the weight and one percent the energy requirement to produce. How can you foretell the future knowing nothing about future materials?


    Speaking of sixty year out predictions, when I was involved in fusion research as an undergrad, we were just sixty years away from practical commercial fusion. Today, more than three decades later, we’re just sixty years away from practical commercial fusion.

    When there are serious people saying they will start building a space elevator within fifteen years, we have to wonder if they’re pie-in-the-sky Bill-Gates’-Satellite-Network dreamers or flim-flammers, or if they’re Kennedy Moonshot heroes.

    About one in six GCMs runs projected under their umbrella of probability distributions the weather to expect in 2014 based on various sets of assumptions, excluding volcano and trade wind behaviors. You’re one guy putting out a seat-of-the-pants sixty year prediction based on dozens of components as complex as climate. And yet you disparage GCMs because a guy whose solution for global warming is to plant a new Amazon rainforest worth of trees every seventeen years, forever.. presumably on that sphere around the Sun he’s building.

  72. Bart_R says:

    Dyson quit both IEA and JASON within a few years, bored dilettante that he always was, and moved on, never producing peer-reviewed work of substance in climate research. His associates in the field do not cite Dyson in their work, which is the only measure we have as Dyson has no published work in the field at all.

    You’re arguing on the authority of a guy who is brilliant in other fields and yet has done nothing of merit in this one, and refusing to engage on the details of his claims, instead trying to bolster his credentials.

    Try to talk about the thing itself, not the people.

    Bet you can’t.

  73. Bart_R says:

    What lies about what opponents specifically do you have in mind?

  74. Bart_R says:

    See, you’re confuting water and wastewater, which while intrinsically linked is not exactly the same.

    Fracking uses immense amounts of water producing immense amounts of waste and pollutant. Tarsands take immense amounts of water and produce toxic tailings ponds visible from space. Coal fire produces waste water.

    Geothermal produces next to no waste water by comparison, and closed-ammonia systems none at all; hydro actually cleans up water and contributes to water management, properly designed; solar produces no waste water; wind produces no waste water; ocean energy produces no waste water; biofuel production takes sewage and produces fuel and clean water.

    Your analyses are overly simplistic and misleading.

  75. Bart_R says:


    You got that exactly backwards. Which.. not particularly surprising.

    Carbon taxes collect compensation for the trespass, though typically at a rate of mere pennies on the dollar (or less).

    Cap and trade is just a royalty scheme, not much different from the royalties charged to miners for mining rights.

    What’s your beef with Capitalism?

  76. Bart_R says:

    Awww. One of my favorite stories, when I was three.

    About a change-hating guy who begrudged a leader who wanted to see further and advance knowledge, and brought advancement to a halt by shirking, wasn’t it?

  77. JoseAmerica says:

    Franzen’s concerns about what National Audubon has become are shared by a great many Audubon members at the local chapter level. Those local chapters do great work on myriad projects for birds and biodiversity across the nation and the world, but the diversion of funds from state offices to national’s climate initiatives is a regular topic of discussion among the leadership of those organizations.

    This isn’t new, either. Look into the “Take Back Audubon” movement if you’d like to know more, and know that it’s an idea that still has a number of supporters.

    There are good discussions to be made about focus on climate and biodiversity in response to Franzen’s piece. But his criticism of Audubon comes from internal struggles that many not in local chapters are probably not aware of.

  78. Tom Fuller says:

    When Dyson sleeps his snores are more intelligent than what you write.

    As he said, climate models are great tools for understanding climate. They are horrible for forecasting future climate.

  79. Tom Fuller says:

    Guess you’re not a Bugs Bunny fan, then. No saving graces for you.

    You flat out lied. You said that I was hopelessly out of touch because I underestimated the growth of solar.

    I overestimated it. Now you are flailing like a drowning child.

    Graphene–look! A squirrel to divert our attention from your stupidity.

  80. Tom Fuller says:

    You lied about me. You said I was hopelessly out of touch because you had read in the BCC report I authored that I underestimated the growth of solar. That was why you didn’t trust our reports.

    But I overestimated it. You lied.

  81. Tom Fuller says:

    And make no mistake, I am your opponent.

  82. Tom Fuller says:

    WRITE BETTER, or I’ll Locke your Hume for you.

  83. Tom Fuller says:

    …and that describes you to a T.

  84. Tom Fuller says:

    Yeah, 15 years proves he was a dilettante. You may find it hard to believe, seeing as you show no signs of even achieving that long a period of education.

    It’s Da Graphene!!!! It’ll prove dat Dyson wrong.

  85. Tom Fuller says:

    Geothermal produces next to no waste water?

  86. JoseAmerica says:

    Not all forests are the same. You can’t compare one that’s 40 years old to one that’s 500.

  87. JoseAmerica says:

    Not “beneficial”, he said the diversity of birds in the United States might increase. And he’s right. The Neotropics have the highest bird diversity on the planet, and a number of the more adaptable species may well shift their ranges north in response to a warming climate.

    Say what you will about Franzen, but he does know birds. More than some in the higher echelons of Audubon, certainly.

  88. JoseAmerica says:

    “Bird” is a worthless metric. There are 10,000 species on the planet. Some will be devasted by climate change, some may even do better. It’s hard to say.

  89. JoseAmerica says:


  90. Mike Richardson says:

    Okay, I was being facetious about the Soylent Green scenario, but I’m really starting to wonder at about what level of extinction would you start to be concerned? I mean, most biologists would tell you we’re in the middle of a mass extinction event that we’re causing, so which species do you consider important enough to curtail development or industry for? Seriously, I’m curious for your viewpoint here.

  91. Mike Richardson says:

    One of the handful of good things that Nixon did, which should rank him slightly better in the history books than George W. Bush. But it’s debatable just how conservative the Republican Party was then, compared to mainstream America. And the alternative was allowing more rivers to catch fire and see standards of living drop because of rampant air and water pollution. Although, the conservatives back then at least acknowledged pollution as a problem, rather than challenge the science on every issue.

  92. Mike Richardson says:

    In the meantime, you’ve been giving to UNICEF, Oxfam, the Red Cross/Red Crescent and other NGO’s trying to alleviate those problems? Or have you volunteered in those places? If so, good for you. You’re a shining example of humanitarianism for the rest of us. I’m proud of you, Wilson.

  93. Knight says:

    Here’s a news article that you more than likely will not see
    reported in the US. The link below is a news article from the UK discussing the
    weather that is happening now and weather into the near future this summer, not
    looking too good. The reason for it is all around everyone, but this force can’t
    be seen by anyone with the naked eye. The global warming people, who are now
    called climate change people, do not want anyone to know about this force.
    There is big money in all this climate change with actual carbon credits being
    sold globally. But when this is all found out about, everyone involved can just
    say “maybe we were wrong, sorry”, jump on their Lear Jet and go home and try to
    live a normal life.


  94. Bart_R says:

    I’m flattered by the comparison, or would be were I any more than an anonymous string of comments connected by an acronym.

    Dyson’s said a great deal about climate models over the years.

    They are horrible for forecasting future weather; he’s right about that. They’ve so far been about one in six for forecasting future climate, which isn’t great.

    Though none of them have been off by so much as 12% in a mere five years.

  95. Bart_R says:

    I’m a fan of a great many things we now recognize with hindsight to have been insensitive or wrong on some level. Though really, you flatter yourself with the comparison.

    I did not say you were hopelessly out of touch. I implied you lacked rational foundation for your claims as evidenced by the poor quality of your predictions; you inferred I was saying you were hopelessly out of touch. As far as I’m concerned, you could be in touch with the whole universe; that doesn’t undo the fact that your method is flawed and the fact that I used a different basis to establish you were in error than the one you volunteered yourself does not make what I wrote a lie.

    Your overestimate was at least as far wrong on the basis of comparison you choose to bring to the table as the one I had; I’m content that your admission shows the scale of your error. Wouldn’t you rather analyse for us why you were so far wrong than merely repeat that you were wrong, over and over?

    Interesting that you’ll pull a rabbit out of your.. hat.. but accuse me of squirrels.

    Can you or can’t you speak to the developments in materials sciences most likely to affect the price and potential of solar?

  96. Bart_R says:

    Under significantly. Over significantly. Because your foundations for reasoning are flawed. How ‘in touch’ you are is immaterial. Five years ago you may have been in touch. It didn’t help your report then. And now? Now you’re likely obsolete in your knowledge; it’s so hard to judge as you display so little of it.

    I don’t trust your report because it was shoddy on reasoning, and its results show it.

  97. Bart_R says:

    By being a big Berkeley?

    If you were uncertain of my meaning, you could have asked. Instead, as is a pattern with you, you assumed and leaped to unsupported conclusions.

  98. Tom Fuller says:

    You keep trying to change the subject, which is natural. I imagine it’s embarrassing to be caught in a bald-faced lie.

    Bart R: “But then I look at the market analyses BCC does on solar, and find that in 2010 the five year outlook was so far below the actual of the five years since as to be useless.”

    Tom Fuller: “Frost and Sullivan say the global market for solar was $59.84 billion in 2014. My published 2010 prediction for 2014 was $67 billion.”

  99. Tom Fuller says:

    Actually, Dyson said they were great for forecasting weather up to five days out. What he also said was they were horrible at forecasting climate.

  100. Tom Fuller says:

    No, you didn’t talk about the foundation of my claims. You wrote the following, which I characterize for brevity’s sake as being out of touch:

    “You once long ago had a job in obsolete solar tech. You’re not the biggest fan of solar at all, to judge by your past remarks, and certainly not up-to-date on the current state of solar.”

  101. Bart_R says:

    More flattery?

    I’d hardly call myself King of All I Survey.

    However, since you introduce the effects of climate change on turtles:

    Sex-selection due incubation temperatures has become measurably skewed in both loggerhead and green turtle populations, according to studies over the past two decades. At current trends, populations will die off simply because their eggs will be too warm.

    Hrm. Eggs. The Audobon Society. What connection has Franzen missed?

  102. Tom Fuller says:

    No, Bart, you’re lying again. You wrote that you didn’t trust the report because it hugely underestimated the solar market in 2014. Which means you didn’t even read the report, as it overestimated the market in 2014.

    You were just lying to gain perceived advantage in a Climateball environment.

  103. Tom Fuller says:

    Wow–another squirrel! Anything to get away from the fact that you lied and were caught lying.

    Understandable, but still pathetic.

  104. Bart_R says:

    You give Dr. Dyson too little credit.

    He’s been a dilettante for at least forty years. You don’t remember his 1975 “Hidden Cost of Saying No!?”

    Dyson was taking digs at Hawking and Sagan and the bulk of scientific opinion on climate long before the founding of the IPCC. Some of his observations have been insightful. All have been thoroughly investigated. Not one has really born any fruit.

    His back-of-the-envelope calculations have often been shown to be off by orders of magnitude. His solutions include the botanically laughable ‘make half of all plants a quarter inch taller”.

    However, it should be remembered, he authored the words:

    The long-term response, if such a catastrophe becomes imminent, must be to stop burning fossil fuels and convert our civilization to nuclear or solar-based fuels. However, a worldwide shift from fossil to nonfossil fuels could not be carried out in a few years. A time scale of decades is more likely. Such a response might well not be rapid enough to avoid a climatic or economic disaster.

    — 1979, Carbon Dioxide Effects
    Research and Assessment
    Workshop on the
    Global Effects of Carbon
    Dioxide from Fossil Fuels.

    Dyson describes himself as a Science Heretic; he revels in his image as a rogue, rebel, bad boy iconoclast. Which is great, where he’s right. However, he’s often wrong, and recklessly so. His commitment to real research into the solutions he proposes is zero. He’s done nor sponsored no field studies nor co-authored any lab work in botany, though his main geo-engineering recommendations are massive botanical operations on scales at least as large as continents, requiring military precision and speed to execute.

    It’s not that such ideas aren’t brilliant. They are. They’re simply not feasible.

    Pricing fossil waste dumping at a rate set by what the Market will bear, and paying those dividends to everyone encumbered by that dumping — all of us with lungs — equally, that is feasible. We’ve seen proof of concept in British Columbia, and despite all contrarian witness fabricated against it, it works.

  105. Bart_R says:

    You don’t have to imagine it.

    Your excuse for saying I lied about you being so wrong as to be useless is that you.. were.. so.. wrong.. as.. to.. be.. useless.

  106. Bart_R says:

    Pointless quibble. Your predictions are orders of magnitude worse than GCMs.

    GCMs serve useful purposes, which they were designed for, which is not forecasting weather. Your predictions? Serve no purpose whatsoever.

  107. Bart_R says:

    You didn’t say that was a lie.

    You said that pointing to your error was a lie. It was, at best, an undefended assertion. I was ready to defend it, but then you came along and admitted to being wrong in the opposite direction, which served my purpose just as well.

    Off by 12% in a five year forecast? Under. Over. It’s useless either way.

    I suspect obsolescence isn’t the source of your error. Bad reasoning seems likelier.

  108. JH says:

    Need someone depressing for your party or gathering? Hire an environmentalist! Yes, there’s nothing like a Feverish Green Wonk to blacken every positive thought or occurrence with a hefty dose of negativity!

  109. Tom Fuller says:

    You show that Dyson has been more involved in real world applications of science than any other theoretical physicist in history.

    You write, “… when right…” without ever saying where he was incorrect. You say he’s “often wrong and recklessly so.” Citation please?

    You fault him for pointing the way to large-scale solutions to CO2. Do you consider emissions controls to be small in scale?

    When he says that some of those large scale solutions will only be practical on a century-long timescale you attack him because they are not practical now.

    He has been labeled a rogue by the Kilmate Konsensus. That doesn’t make him wrong.

    Perhaps he looks at being a rogue as preferable to acquiescing to majority opinion. Having in his lifetime seen what such acquiescence has led to, you shouldn’t be so quick to use his enjoyment of the term as a criticism.

    Most of all, unlike you, he has been painfully honest, often being the first to show flaws or obstacles in some of his big dream ideas.

    I’m sure it’s preferable for you to go after Dyson instead of confronting your lies. Pity you have to distort his record to do so. But we expect no less from you by now.

  110. Bart_R says:

    I certainly didn’t read your report. And it’s true I don’t trust your report. (Which, closing the barn door after the horses got loose, since your report was a 5-year forecast six years ago.)

    But I only said “useless”; you’re proving “untrustworthy” by your shenanigans. I gladly own to saying you underestimated so long as you’re furnishing the evidence you grossly overestimated. What you brought to the table is so much better than I had to indict the quality of your own forecasting, there’s no need for what I had. Fact remains, wrong by 12% is useless.

    I’m not here to play Climateball(TM), even if Willard does want me on his fantasy draft team (as a third string right winger, IIRC). I’m here to help you focus on facts instead of personalities, and ideas instead of emotions.

    The facts do not support your position.

  111. Tom Fuller says:

    Nice try, Bart. You wrote that you found BCC reports that I authored ‘useless’ because they ‘underestimated the solar market.’ Clearly that means that you investigated them and knew the contents.

    But the reports overestimated the solar market.

    You lied.

  112. Tom Fuller says:

    No, GCMs are considerably more than 12% off.

  113. Tom Fuller says:

    No, Bart. Revisionist history only works when the record is unavailable to all. Not the case here.

    You said that you found BCC reports useless because they underestimated the market for solar power.

    You lied. The reports overestimated the market for solar power.

    Facts are difficult things.

  114. JH says:

    Yes! We are in the middle of a mass extinction! We agree on something. Now we’re getting somewhere.

    What, so far, has been the role of global warming in the ongoing mass extinction? ZERO. Right? Warming isn’t causing extinctions. Oui?

    I’m comfortable with extinctions insofar as the planet remains habitable. I do not support the preservation of habitat strictly for the preservation of biodiversity. Do I *want* extinctions? No, not at all. If we can save habitat at a modest cost and maintain a strong economy where people have improving welfare, great. But it’s safe to say we’re not doing that.

  115. Bart_R says:


    I exercised the prerogative to accept new observations to form a more accurate proposition.

    If that’s a lie, then no wonder you have such problems with Science, as all Science since Newton is based on that philosophy.

    Fact remains you were so wrong as to be useless.

    Facts, however hard, aren’t that difficult.

    Learn to accept them with grace and move onto new and better things.

  116. Bart_R says:


  117. Bart_R says:


  118. Tom Fuller says:

    Shorter Bart: “I lied. So what?”

  119. Tom Fuller says:

    You first.

  120. Tom Fuller says:

    I have no excuse for you lying. So far, neither do you.

  121. Tom Fuller says:

    Yes, don’t want to tax your brain. I understand. When you’re having your butt handed to you it must be fatiguing.

  122. Tom Fuller says:

    Funny that your comment was longer than my response which you characterize as too long to read.

    I guess you have higher expectations of your readers than of your own intellectual capacity.

  123. Tom Fuller says:

    Hiya JH

    Yes, hunting is selective where other threats are more general.

  124. OWilson says:

    Actually in my younger days my hobby was to plant trees, everywhere I could.
    You’d be amazed at how they’ve grown.
    And yes, I gave to Red Cross for two years before I found a better way to help folks. Now in my later years I’ve found a way to help the locals and kids in a third world country, while getting to enjoy the beautiful “climate”.
    A definite win -win.
    And I can assure you “climate change” is not on their radar. They don’t get all upset when what you soft northerners call a “named hurricane” goes through. Down there we just accept it as a rainy and windy part of the year. Business as usual.

  125. Bart_R says:

    Ad hom is always too long.

    Once your little tantrum has burned itself out, cut out the hero worshiping argument from authority, and personalities, and stick to relevant facts, and you might find people bother to read what you write.

  126. Tom Fuller says:

    I haven’t seen anybody having a tantrum here. Just a smug cultist who thinks he can lie with impunity.

    As for readers, I have plenty.

  127. Mike Richardson says:

    Haven’t travelled as much as you, but do give to the Red Cross and other humanitarian groups out of each paycheck. I’ve planted a few trees myself, but apparently don’t have much of a green thumb. Maybe I’d just do better to pay folks who do. Oh, well, glad you’re enjoying the weather wherever you are.

  128. Mike Richardson says:

    It might be a bit to soon to conclude warming isn’t causing any extinctions, considering we don’t have, nor will we likely ever have, a complete census of all the species on this planet. I do recall certain species of rain forest frogs and some species restricted to narrow alpine ranges were threatened as of a few year ago. The only thing about extinctions is that you don’t know how far things can go before habitability becomes a problem for us. At any rate, I do understand your position now, even if I don’t necessarily agree with the assumptions on which it’s based.

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