Climate Soul Talk

Deep in the “The Post Partisan Power Play” thread, there’s a fascinating exchange between two readers. I’m going to reproduce it here. First, the set-up:

Lewis asks:

So, the idea is to find a way forward that is politically acceptable. Whether the ideas of Pielke etc are old or spanking brand new is beside the point. Let us say, we dismiss their ideas and, at the same time, those of “˜cap and trade’, which has clearly failed, what useful and pragmatic alternative do you have?

Michael Tobis takes up the challenge and offers his seven step revenue-neutral tax and rebate plan.

Lewis responds:

Michael, nice plan. My question was how are you going to get it enacted? Not by fiat. So how?

Michael answers:

Lewis, I have no hope of it getting enacted, because the republican party has just jumped on the stupid bandwagon. But it’s not as if this were my idea. This sort of a plan has made sense from the beginning.

The Republicans could have gotten it done easily if they had valued the world more than they valued embarrassing Mr. Obama, they could have shared the credit, and Obama could have been the centrist, healing figure he wants to be.

Similarly on health care.

Short answer, I don’t think it will happen for a long time, and I think the consequences will be severe. That doesn’t move the Breakthrough idea out of the lottery ticket long shot territory.

Lewis, after prodding Michael to “ask yourself why you have failed” instead of “continuing with ‘tired’ plans that go nowhere,” implores:

So, Michael, your council is one of despair? Please, one can’t be defeated so easily. Let us except the reality we are in and try to think of ways out? I think, because of a kind of either/or mentality, you lose rationality when the going gets rough? Be a bit more positive!

Michael counters:

Lewis, I am not giving up, and wouldn’t recommend giving up until extinction is assured, which in spite of all the bad news we have just bought ourselves and the rest of the world, remains many decades of mistakes into the future.

But I am sure we will achieve nothing even close to the tepid aims of Copenhagen for ten years, or possibly twenty. I have just given up on the next decade. I’ll be happy to be surprised, but there’s little point to it. We academics have been outmaneuvered and outgunned by talented sales professionals. This is what one might have expected, given that what we are selling is, after all, not that much fun and that we are the amateurs.

Indeed, it always seemed likely that we would make little progress until serious consequences actually kicked in. Now it is as good as certain. So the sensible thing is to retreat and regroup.

As I said on my blog, my sense of urgency is gone. We have missed the window of modest risk. Something very bad, much worse and more permanent than Pakistan or Russia this summer, is going to happen because of climate change. Time will tell exactly what and when.

The best thing for those of us who anticipate it to do is to have a new set of proposals ready for when people wake up, and to keep trying to explain the nature of the risks. If the US doesn’t collapse for other reasons, I am thinking the election of 2024 is the world’s earliest chance of recovery from the climate politics disasters of 2009-2010. I don’t think ten years is enough time to reverse the damage.

Lewis:

Michael, your implied prognosis is what really disturbs me and others and it’s implicit lack of faith in the future and humanity, as such. There are no dire events awaiting on the horizon, no “˜extinctions’ around the corner and you haven’t been “˜out gunned’ by anyone but good old humanities expectations of a prosperous future. Cry black tears if you wished to and decry those who take “˜filth’ out of the world but admire and stand back when humanity goes forward through, and despite, your veil of tears.

Michael:

Lewis, you’re asking me to have faith in humanity that the smartest and most decent people I’ve ever known, who are smarter and more decent and more diligent than many ever get to meet, have been stupidly wrong on the main subject of their and my expertise, and that a bunch of casually informed people collectively indulging in wishful thinking on the same subjects are right, because, well, because they’d better be?

I have no such faith, and no access to such faith. I have to find a way to carry on regardless, and to me that includes finding a way to feel constructive. Please feel free to find that disturbing if you must.

Lewis:

Michael, I just don’t understand ““ no one, who one would wish to take cognisance of , would impugn those “˜decent, honourable people’ of whom you speak? No one. And I don’t say your not being constructive: if your plan is right, get a united front, persuade Pielke, Romm etc to adopt it, and put it forward? Just don’t despair ““ mankind has been through rocky patches in the past and come through them. Who knows, maybe your the Churchill of his “˜wilderness years’? True, the war came but he showed our way through it. Don’t despair!

It continues on for a bit more, but that’s the heart of it, right there.

45 Responses to “Climate Soul Talk”

  1. PDA says:

    What you call “the heart of it” is an admonition to do what people like Dr Mann have been trying to do for years and earning the opprobrium of people like Dr Pielke in the process.
     
    The heart of it in my humble opinion is, rather:
     
    I don’t think we’ve yet been stupid enough to cause our extinction. I am not sure whether we have been stupid enough to cause a calamity big enough to cause a traumatic population drop. Probably not yet, and I hope not. On the other hand I am pretty sure we have been stupid enough to cause a lot of loss and ruin, and a century or two of decline and struggle.

     
    McKibben did a good job, I think, of laying out the case that opinions have hardened and are unlikely to change for a generation. One side has to persuade society to make significant changes, one side need only create enough FUD for delay. The playing field is not level, and while no one (including MT) is counseling despair, a sober assessment of reality seems appropriate.

  2. Ed Forbes says:

    LOL….

    “…The Republicans could have gotten it done easily if they had valued the world more than they valued embarrassing Mr. Obama..”

    I moved from the Democrats to the Republicans due to this one issue of CAGW. The Republicans have picked up on the mood of the nation and are taking advantage.

    The proposals I have seen put forward to combat the non-issue of CO2 will do more harm to the nation than anything the Republicans will be able to do.

    I have been following this issue since 1998. I look at the field work and research performed and published by Lamb and compare it to Mann and others beating on the CAGW bandwagon and shake my head with disgust.

  3. grypo says:

    Ed:
    I have been following this issue since 1998. I look at the field work and research performed and published by Lamb and compare it to Mann and others beating on the CAGW bandwagon and shake my head with disgust.
    The work by Lamb (published in the sixties) only takes into account central England proxies up to the beginning of the 20th century.  OTOH, Mann’s work, in several incantations, takes into account proxies for the entire Northern Hemisphere and charts through the end of the 20th century.  The work is in no way comparable.  No need to bang your head over it.
    PDA:
    One side has to persuade society to make significant changes, one side need only create enough FUD for delay. The playing field is not level, and while no one (including MT) is counseling despair, a sober assessment of reality seems appropriate.
    This is a fairly good assessment on the matter of the equal-playing-field-myth.  I would also point out that making things up costs next to nothing and is easy to disseminate to the public, while retrofitting satellites and paleo-research is quite expensive and the results are difficult to relay to non-experts.  And there are also the problems of predictive science, risk assessment difficulties, and the getting others to worry about far future environmental problems.

  4. adrian smits says:

    The budget for climate research in 1983 in the U.S.A. was about 3 million dollars.I wonder what it is today.Now I’m guessing here but at least 90% of today’s research dollars go towards people who are trying to prove the planet is burning up.You know why? Good news would mean the funding dries up and all you experts are out of work.I have three grown children the only one that still believes in global warming is also the only one that didn’t finish high school.Almost anyone with any kind of serious education that doesn’t have an axe to grind realizes this is nothing more than a sneaky way to impose global socialism.

  5. “Now I’m guessing here but at least 90% of today’s research dollars go towards people who are trying to prove the planet is burning up”

    Keith, could we POSSIBLY get a journalist to actually address this claim in a way that the public could grasp?

    Adrian, could you POSSIBLY bring yourself to do a little research before making this sort of a claim?

    The US nonmilitary science budget is on the order of $60 billion or about $180 per capita. Clinton scraped everything he could into the Global Change Research Program to make it look like there was $2 billion in it, (in those days studying climate was considered a good thing by both political parties), of which barely ten per cent went to climate research. (About half of it goes to all earth observation satellites at NASA.) Climate money has been unsteady and insecure but not growing since I have graduated, about 12 years. And climate scientists do not get paid to convince anybody of anything. That is practically an extracurricular activity; there have been periods when doing that was likely to get you fired.

    The entire annual US budget for people legitimately calling ourselves “climate scientists” is comparable to that for a big budget Hollywood movie. Admittedly, the movie people are better paid and have better working conditions. Your per capita contribution was probably under a dollar. And a tiny fraction, probably less than a penny of that, went to rather tame outreach on climate science.

    The origins of the field are related conservative parts of the society; agriculture, aviation, military, mining. People who think this group has a “global socialist” agenda rather than a “conserve the world” agenda have quite a lot of details to fill in.

  6. cagw_skeptic99 says:

    Michael,  The 90% referred to the “climate research” budget, not the budget for all forms of research.  My uneducated guess is that 90% is low.  How many people who share your funding source are studying say ‘natural variability’ as the source of recent warming?

  7. Sashka says:

    I agree that tax-and-dividend is a good low-risk approach that will probably help us transition to a more energy efficient economy.

    I don’t see why it necessarily needs to be done internationally. Why, for example, the USA couldn’t enact it unilaterally? Please don’t tell me that there is no popular support. I know there isn’t. I also know why: Democrats wasted their political capital trying to sell cap-and-trade. This is, in turn, because they were not interested in the revenue-neutral measures. They tax-grabbing appeal of cap-and-trade was irresistable.

    For these reasons I disagree with Tobis where he (predictably) blames Republicans. I also disagree that it is so hopeless for so long. The idea is simple, fair and palatable for many. All it takes is a decent leader (of either party) willing to bet on it and good marketing effort.
     

  8. Ed Forbes says:

    LMAO….

    grypo Says:
    October 16th, 2010 at 11:22 am
    “.. Mann’s work, in several incantations, takes into account proxies for the entire Northern Hemisphere and charts through the end of the 20th century.  The work is in no way comparable….”

    If you are defending Mann’s work, then…. “what we have here is a failure to communicate…”

    This is no longer a scientific fight for me, it is a political fight. Whatever it takes to put a stake in CAGW heart and kill it.

    I work in engineering and have yet to talk to a practicing engineer who believes in this c**p.

    I went through the engineering school in the 80’s after being in the real world for awhile. Went back to school in the late 90’s toward a masters in poli sci / pub admin. The difference in rigor between engineering and social sciences was astounding. Work my ass off for B’s and C’s in hard sciences….walk through the social sciences for A’s.

    Says something when the group from the social sciences seem to be the ones mostly pushing CAGW. 

  9. Eli Rabett says:

    When Eli was in school study of the decline of Rome and the disaster after was a major intellectual signpost.  One learned that the course of history was not always upwards, that major civilizations could go backwards into despair and poverty for hundreds of years.  That lesson appears forgotten amidst the lalala.

  10. Eli Rabett says:

    It is clueless to claim that 90 per cent of research funding in climate science goes to global level studies.  At least half goes to studies on the regional and smaller level that are focused on meteorology and similar issues.

  11. Jack Hughes says:

    Seriously, Keith, this Michael guy needs help.

  12. Barry Woods says:

    Sounds like Michael wants a good disaster – to show those nasty sceptics…..

    So basicall, all or nothing, vevery thing thatthey wish for, or toys out of the pram time..

    Plan A failed..

    Can’t be bothered to try to find plan b, plan c, plan c,etc

    because plan A was what they wanted…

    Pontificate on human disater in 30 50 70 years time..

    Care little about real environmental issues that effect millions of poor peole now…
    Because they are not glorious enough..

    Sorry for the cynicism, but that is the theme I see from the extreme greens/alrmaist proponents of the self deluded who worship the CAGW delusion..

    I really do feel that many would actually want the disaster they wish for sooner… just to say yah boo suck to the sceptics..

  13. grypo says:

    Ed:
    —-If you are defending Mann’s work, then”¦. “what we have here is a failure to communicate”¦”—–
    The failure is yours.  You don’t understand that Lamb and Mann are doing two different studies that have very little in common and yet you base your ideas of the science squarely on conclusions drawn from it.  And I don’t need to defend Mann’s work.  It’s already been done by the NAS.
    —-This is no longer a scientific fight for me, it is a political fight. Whatever it takes to put a stake in CAGW heart and kill it.—-
    How can you have a debate about this without including the science?  You aren’t really debating, then, you are trying to indoctrinate.
    —I work in engineering and have yet to talk to a practicing engineer who believes in this c**p.—
    Your interactions with engineers is irrelevant.
    —-Says something when the group from the social sciences seem to be the ones mostly pushing CAGW. —
    How do you consider atmospheric physics to be a social science?  I think you meant to say that all relevant experts are pushing it.

  14. Barry Woods, I didn’t like plan A (if you mean Waxman Markey) at all. I didn’t campaign against it at the specific request of David Roberts, but I never liked it and was glad it failed.
     
    The reason it was such a lousy plan is because one party refused to negotiate. Therefore various special interests needed to be bought off to get near-unanimity in the other party, making a worthless mess. The blame still goes to the party that (almost to the last person) denies reality.
     

  15. “My uneducated guess is that 90% is low.  How many people who share your funding source are studying say “˜natural variability’ as the source of recent warming?”

    Oh, OK then.

    If the claim is that less than ten per cent of funded research into climate science goes to people who don’t understand it, I would say that is a good thing.

    But you still seem to have a misimpression. Most climate research is not on the attribution question at all.

    Here are the most recent table of contents of a couple of bread-and-butter journals of physical climatology, the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, and the Journal of Climate. That may not give you a clearer idea of what we do all day but it might give you a better picture of what we DON’T do all day.

    To be fair the most recent publication in JGR – Atmospheres at this moment has Gavin Schmidt as first author and is an attempt to address popular misconceptions about the greenhouse effect. While it doesn’t address “natural variability” one way or the other, it does work from the clear understanding of the future prospects of greenhouse forcing, which may in fact show some of that uncomfortable bias towards realism you complain about. Still, look further down the list to get the idea of the range of topics that the real scientific community actually works on. You will have trouble separating out your two categories.

  16. Ed Forbes says:

    grypo Says:
    October 16th, 2010 at 5:00 pm
    “…How can you have a debate about this without including the science?  You aren’t really debating, then, you are trying to indoctrinate….”

    “indoctrinate”….good choice of word that. Fits right in with “the science is settled”.

    There is no “debate” on these blogs as a rule. Now… “counting coup” …between the two warring groups…lots of that on the blogs.

    The only ones paying attention are committed activists. I look at these blogs more to get a sense of what the opposition thinks. 

    First rule: Know your enemy…  CAGW supporters

    Second rule: Know your victory conditions: …Stoping AGW legislation.
     

  17. adrian smits says:

    The little news story out of  New Zea land seems to tell a very large part of the story.150 years unadjusted temperature record 1/3 of 1 degree warming.adjusted 1 full degree of warming! I’ve been following these climate blogs for 7 years now and I can honestly say I have not seen an adjustment downwards. OK I might have. But its so long ago my anti war mist mind set won’t allow me to remember. Lets just stop adjusting take only raw data from pristine rural stations and the UAH satellite record and see were that leads us.Are we warming ? Yes! 1/3 of a degree per century. For this are we prepared to impoverish our children and our grandchildren? I think not!

  18. jakerman says:

    Lewis writes:
     
    “There are no dire events awaiting on the horizon, no “˜extinctions'”

    Argument by assertion. Dire events awaiting on the horizon and increasing rates of extinctions are clear possibilities supported by evidence.
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/contents.html
    Perhaps Lewis or people making the type of arguments he makes could provide evidence to support their zero possibility assertions?

  19. Adrian Smits: see here for a counterexample. You may wish to consider the possibility that you are not seeing a random sample.
     
    You may wish to consider that the difference between the present day and the recent glacial peak is about 5 C. You may wish to consider that everything we have seen supports a sensitivity of 3 C per CO2 doubling. You may wish to consider that an enormous amount of wealth depends on well-intentioned people like yourself failing to understand the evidence or its likely consequences.
     
    On the other hand, you may wish to indulge conspiracy theories. I suppose it is your choice.
     

  20. grypo says:

    Ed:
    —-“indoctrinate””¦.good choice of word that. Fits right in with “the science is settled”.—
    You are the one claiming that the science is settled.  You said that you don’t debate the science.   I am attempting to do that. Every paper written in the field is either a debate starter or one that extends a debate.  The only things that are more or less settled are the basic physics behind the greenhouse effect.
    —-There is no “debate” on these blogs as a rule. Now”¦ “counting coup” “¦between the two warring groups”¦lots of that on the blogs.—-
    You can find a blog that says whatever you want.  Whats your point?
    —-First rule: Know your enemy”¦  CAGW supporters
    Second rule: Know your victory conditions: “¦Stoping AGW legislation.—-
    Indoctrination.  You are a very important cog in the machine.
     

  21. Ed Forbes’ victory condition: Stoping AGW legislation. [sic]

    Here’s an alternative for y’all to consider: Responsible stewardship of the miracle of terrestrial life. Making the best possible use of all available information, maximizing the chances of human well-being and a stable environment into the future.

    Ed seems to think there are no stakes to this game. Many of our opponents (who I think are mostly teenaged trolls, to be honest) are so sure that there is no such thing as climate science that they don’t even bother looking into it.

    So there’s some question as to what purpose there is in taking up with these sorts. In most places they can swamp intelligent conversation easily enough. So my question is in line with my talk of taking one’s losses and moving on, which is ostensibly what this thread is about.

    Should we abandon collide-a-scape and Judith Curry’s blog to them, the way Watts and McIntyre have been abandoned?

    I mean, what’s the point here? The last sensible adults on the opposition side vanished years ago. I mean even the Lomborgist middle is looking mighty lame at this point. It’s down to either flame wars or hair-splitting. These are not interesting or useful pursuits. I really don’t know what to do when a dangerously wrong set of propositions is defended only by ill-mannered and immature vandals.

    Is this anything more than entertainment or distraction? Is there something more useful that I can do? If there’s a single person reading comments here whose opinion I’ve swayed in the slightest, I’d sure like to hear about it.

  22. grypo says:

    MT
    —Should we abandon collide-a-scape and Judith Curry’s blog to them, the way Watts and McIntyre have been abandoned?—
    No, but I share your frustration as someone who attempts to debate real science, uncertainties, risk, and policy.  What I’ve come to realize is that having the correct science on our side has become utterly meaningless.  The memes about corrupt scientists and social network peer-review, etc. are so ingrained into the debate, that simply knowing what you are talking about isn’t enough.  The reason why those denial blogs get abandoned and these centrist blogs get lost in the noise is because normal people get frustrated dealing with people who don’t need reality to win, they just need enough conflicting, nonsense conspiracies and pseudo-science and then wear you out with their numbers.  But, even so, I refuse to give up any more centrist ground.  I know I am in the middle. The indoctrinated extremism needs to be countered.

  23. Barry Woods says:

    Maybe if we all ‘twinkled’, finding consensus would be so much easier 😉

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/10/16/the-reverse-twinkle.html

    It is about my Local climate action group…  Spot the activists stereotypes.. (left wing socialist, union,  marxist, student layabout type)

  24. Pascvaks says:

    How to convince an uncaring world that you are right and the sky really is falling? 
    a. Run around the barnyard screaming “The Sky IS Falling.”
    b. Hold up a piece of paper with math all over and point and say “The Sky IS falling, look!”
    c.  Find some others who tend to agree with you, or will support you for various reasons of their own, and march around the barnyard chanting “The Sky IS Falling you @#!$#@ Fools, Listen To Us!”
    d. Get a College Professor to lead the parade.
    e.  Get a College Professor, a Politician, and a Banker to Lead the Parade and play ‘The Sky IS Falling’ to the music of Yankee Doodle.
    f.  Get a bunch of College Professors, Politicians of the Socialist Persuasion, a UN committee, and Bankers who know how to make a buck in any market, and have a parade in 400 cities around the globe.
    g.  Throw a temper tantrum.
    h.  Cry.
    i.  Get mad!
    j.  Tell yourself that the world is made of idiots who don’t deserve free speech, the right to vote, or any of that hog wash, and the ONLY recourse is to take over everything ad DICTATE to these fools what they’re going to do, when they’re going to do it, and how high you want them to jump when you say BOO.
    -OR-
    Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Do I really want to waste my life worrying about all this crap?”

  25. Keith Kloor says:

    Pascvaks (25):

    That’s a gross misrepresentation. Michael may sound overwrought but he’s entitled to his concern, which I think is sincere. And what he proposes is quite reasonable, even if no more politically doable (today) than cap and trade.

    While I often find myself disagreeing with Michael, I appreciate very much that he engages these issues with much thought and heartfelt sincerity.

  26. Pascvaks says:

    Keith

    Wasn’t putting Michael or anyone else down.  Sorry if it seemed so. Only making a sarcastic verbal cartoon about any group –with any issue– who are beating their brains out trying to get the world to see the ‘reason’, ‘benefits’, and ‘common sense’ of what they propose and are, in the end, perceived as ‘off center’.  The discussion, above, brought on the generalization I was attempting to make.  Some causes take many twists.
    Examples: AGW, Coral Reefs, Beaches, Forests, Free Enterprise, Neutering Pets, Drugs, Drunk Driving, Saving Social Security, Chinese Capitalism, Recycling Waste, Nuclear Power, etc. — when “The Cause” bumps up against a brick wall, there’s three choices: quit, modify, fight dirty (and many variations of these three).

  27. As a practicing electrical engineering with an advanced degree in optics and communications who also happens to be a freelance journalist and climate blogger, I see where Ed is coming from – the majority of engineers I know see climate disruption as fundamentally flawed.  In every case where I’ve engaged them in a scientific discussion of why, their understanding of climate science has (thus far) always been lacking and their resistance to the science rooted in an ideological resistance to the known top-down solutions.
    Most of them have also been honest enough with themselves to accept hard data when I presented it, and that has the potential to slowly change their minds.  For example, I once pointed out that the “CO2 has always lagged temperature before, so it can’t be driving temperature today” argument is based on both ignorance of the science and a logical fallacy that is easily explained with an analogy.  That engineer no longer makes that argument.
    As for the money argument, as Michael says, the vast majority of climate research dollars go toward satellites that are expensive vs. individual researchers who are cheap.  And it’s important to point out that the entire global budget for climate research was estimated at less than $4 billion in 2008.  That’s not a lot of money when compared to research in other fields or when compared to non-governmental research.
    If climate scientists were in this for the money, they’d be far better off having gone into some other field with direct value to industry.

  28. Ed Forbes says:

    Michael Tobis Says:
    October 16th, 2010 at 9:23 pm
    “…Ed seems to think there are no stakes to this game..”

    There are very high stakes in this   “game”.

    We are both committed activists out to  ‘…save the world..”

    We both represent a world view  that we are each working toward that the other detests.

  29. BenSix says:

    Michael Lewis’ argument is, er – well, not an argument. Rush Limbaugh was at least honest when he said he couldn’t believe in climate change ‘cos he didn’t think that God would allow us to destroy ourself. How a nontheistic thinker could maintain such odd determinism is beyond me. (That doesn’t just apply to AGW – on which I’m Switzerland – but any world-menacing monstrosity.)
    Having said that, Obama doesn’t want to be a healing figure. Otherwise he wouldn’t keep prodding at the wounds.

  30. Ed Forbes says:

    Here is my take on the situation. Always good to lay out a “Statement of Facts” for your “Mission Statement” . Here is a  small part of the statement of facts I go with.

    What makes me laugh is that I consider myself more of an “environmentalist” than most of the dedicated CAGW teem members I have contact with. I look to solve real health problems, such as having your rivers catch fire due to real pollution, vs what I consider as chasing Leprechauns.

    1. do humans affect the environment?
    Of course they do. One only has to look at the clouds of pollution hanging over China and Indonesia to see this is true. Clear cutting forests and turning swamps into farmland changes the climate.

    2. Is CO2 a greenhouse gas.
    Yep…right along with H2O vapor which drives the green house effect. If we double CO2, without “funny numbers” for unproven “tipping points”, the temp looks to rise no more than about 1 to 2 d. Now, will we double CO2 with oil and coal reserves dropping? I doubt it. Efficiency will also rise as costs of extraction goes up.

    3. Was there a world wide MWP?
    Sure was. Lamb lays it out for Europe and there is published literature showing the effect elsewhere. Two studies comes to mind off the top:  one in the Caribbean and one off the Pacific in South America. There are others, but those two do the job well enough.

    4. Was the MWP warmer that today?
     Lamb says it was and has the hard data to prove it.

    5. Did the LIA exist?
    Yep…no doubt on this one either. Read Lamb and the docs he cites from villages in France getting run over by glaciers and applying for tax relief due to massive loss of fields due to ice flow.  These glaciers were “flowing”, not “inching”.

    6. Do I put any faith in the computer models?
      I have NO faith in the climate models. When I first learned that clouds, which are 95% of climate, were not modeled due to it being “to hard”, I lost it.

    7. Is the world temp rising?
    Yes…and a good thing also. The LIA was cold and bad for crops. Hunger is not a nice condition. Allow for temp reflex out of the LIA and the trends in temp is no big deal.

    This is getting long so quiting now. Not a subject that can be covered in a few paragraphs

  31. Ed Forbes says:

    Eli Rabett Says:
    October 16th, 2010 at 4:17 pm
    “..When Eli was in school study of the decline of Rome and the disaster after was a major intellectual signpost.  One learned that the course of history was not always upwards, that major civilizations could go backwards into despair and poverty for hundreds of years.  That lesson appears forgotten amidst the lalala..”

    Eli,

    A very true statement. What I have found fascinating on my readings on this subject over the last 30 years ( hobby of mine) is that the Western Empire  fell  into decline at the same time one saw the end of the Roman Warm Period,crop failures, plagues, and mass migrations of peoples from Asia, who were pushing the Germans, and all these moving into the Western Empire. The plagues striped away the tax base and manpower for the empires armies at the same time the Asiatic tribes were moving.

    Now correlation can not imply causality, but there seems to be a very strong correlation between cooling (which contributes to famine and resulting plagues) and the failure of the Western Empire.

    The correlation between warming and a successful society seems to be positive, where cooling seems to be negative.

  32. Sashka says:

    I wonder why Tobis talks about Lomborg as if his point of view is inferior or unreasonable.

  33. Ed – warming temperatures may be better, but as an engineer, you have to realize that is only true up to a point.  The scientific question is whether we’ve reached that point or not, with the weight of current evidence (mostly focusing on the effects of higher temperatures and CO2 on plants) suggesting that we have.
    I’m curious where you got your “clouds are 95% of global warming” figure.  That’s a LOT higher than the data I’ve encountered.  Most of what I’ve read puts it more in the 20-50% range.  BTW, clouds are modeled using sub-cell parametrizations in the current models.  Not ideal, of course, but a necessary nod to processing limitations.

  34. Dave H says:

    Michael Tobis
    > who I think are mostly teenaged trolls, to be honest
    My experience is that, rather than being teenaged, the most abrasive, repetitive, blinkered, immune-to-reason and childish-sounding commenters are actually late-middle-aged or older.
    I would say that in the fight for mindshare, the anti-lobby have it far easier, unhampered as they are by any restriction to truth or decent conduct, and without the necessity to actually *convince* anyone – rather they have the secondary easy win scenario of ensuring as many people as possible remain *unconvinced*.
    And I would also say your assessment of the political situation is depressingly spot-on.

  35. TimG says:

    I think this entire debate is missing the point. The science outlines a plausible risk. What we do – if anything – is a question of economics and values. In fact, even though Tobis likes to claim he is motivated by the “science” , I believe his desire for action is really driven by his political leanings. This is because many people who share Tobis’s desire for climate action are shameless hypocrites when the ‘science’ says stuff they oppose politically (nukes, GMO, et. al.).

    I am of the opinion that the government is simply not capable of exercising the kind of top down control of the economy that many advocate and that a government who tried would simply make a corrupt system even more corrupt.

    That said, I have no issue with a straight tax with no exemptions or complex rules and all proceeds should be used to reduce government debt.  However, I also feel that a tax is a feel good gesture that will accomplish nothing because the cost of using non-CO2 emitting sources is higher than any plausible tax.

     The  only real option for change will be real market signals caused by the decline in the supply fossil fuels. Fortunately, for those like Tobis, fossil fuel prices are only headed up and we will see many of the changes he is looking for even if we never see any formal legislation.

  36. Eli Rabett says:

    Dave, those of us past 50 have no skin in the game.  Climate disruption won’t kick in with a vengeance till we are potted.  Those who are self centered can afford to wait this one out.  Younger folk, probably not.

  37. Huge Difference says:

    “Michael may sound overwrought but he’s entitled to his concern, which I think is sincere. And what he proposes is quite reasonable, even if no more politically doable (today) than cap and trade.”
     
     
     
    Random notes:
     
     
     
    If I understand Michael’s plan in my skimming, it is a carbon tax and I think was much more doable, much more rational, much more fair than cap and trade.  I preferred a carbon tax for many many reasons: including it makes more sense to anyone who has taken microeconomics, there is no goldman sacks or other lobbyist bullshit, and what is done with the funds can be decided by the voter by elected officials.
     
     
     
    When I read Cargo Cult Science, I am struck by where Feynman states that science direction IS to be led by the citizen.  And Feynman doesn’t bemoan that citizens or ignorant, or teenagers, or greedy, or racist, or that the Tobacco firms or big oil or other corrupting influences yield vast control over democracy.  Instead he wrote, “you should explain to
     
    the layman what you’re doing–and if they don’t want to support you
    under those circumstances, then that’s their decision.”
     
    I think Michael Tobis should consider what it means about the Anthropogenic Global Climate Change crowd that their preferred solution was anti-democratic and so easily corrupted.
     
    The choice of that solution wasn’t big oil’s.
     
    But I think for Michael, that in understanding the antipathy to cap and trade and the antipathy to the process and the groups that led to cap and trade over a carbon tax, I think there’s a lot of wisdom on to how to understand the best way to work for the environment in a democracy.
     
    And Keith, with no offense intended, your intensely ajaxy/javascripty website comment system is much worse than a plain text field with a submit button.  Seriously, it’s actually a tribute to the value of your blog that anyone puts up with the utter craptitude of your commenting system.

  38. isaacschumann says:

    Michael Tobis #22,
    You have most certainly persuaded me. I would consider myself sort of a disgruntled warmist, I believe in climate change and consider it an immediate priority, but am often annoyed with what I perceive as arrogance and occasionally overinflated claims of imminent doom by climate campaigners. While I don;t always agree with you, your writing has changed the overall perspective that I view the debate; In short, I’m less annoyed and more concerned. I’ve greatly appreciated your comments at Judy’s site, keep it up:)

  39. Lewis says:

    Wow, Keith, I only just noticed this (too busy during the week)! I blush. I shall try, maybe, again, my red wine ruse next weekend! Regards.

  40. Lewis says:

    Keith, at .26, you are exactly right. I understand Michaels despond, especially when you see a particular thread like this (with my name somewhere in it! haha) degenerate, very quickly, into a cat fight about nothing! It’s been a hard time for Michael and his particular perspective, this year! And, Michael, you have not necessarily persuaded me but I am always open minded, indeed, too inconstant, in my views, that that is always a possibility. An unusual pathology of masochistic self-examination is part of my credo. But  I am also to often swung by my heart, so if I see a besieged party I’ll rush, with all my sophistical strength, to their defence!
    Ironically, though, my views may seem much more pessimistic , much colder and more unforgiving – to the extant, ‘in general’, of course, that I need to see a meaning in mankind before I consider their safety. A meaning like Shakespeare or Einstein. When a species is senescent it may be better to let it ‘go’. That isn’t a bad thing – it might be that just one painting of a Rembrandt affirms who we were and a ‘glad good night’ is all that need follow!
     
    PS For you Metaphysicians out there – the fact that that painting may not be seen any more, or, indeed, may not exist, does not matter – that it existed is all. Emerson: “It is not how much coal you have, but what you do while it’s burning that matters.”

  41. Lewis says:

    And, just to repeat here, what I said there:
     
    I’ll tell you my plan ““ it’s what the British call “˜beer and sandwiches’ and it’s what used to happen in so called ‘smoke filled rooms’, ie politics! It will be discovered, in our presumably floating houses in London, New York etc, a century from now, whether this politics worked and, it will have, if it was rational politics. If people like Romm, Michael Tobis etc and you present a rational, practical plan, it will work. But Utopian nonsense will get us nowhere!

  42. willard says:

    Keith,
     
    I like these kinds of posts.  I wonder if it would be possible to create a blog with only that kind of posts.  One has to start an open thread, see where it goes, and then copy and paste indefinitely.

  43. Ed Forbes says:

    Brian Angliss Says:
    October 17th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
    “..I’m curious where you got your “clouds are 95% of global warming” figure.  That’s a LOT higher than the data I’ve encountered….” 

    Brain,

    My response seems to have been lost in byte heaven. Here it is again

    More of a guess (but not a WAG) than a hard number.
    But…..as an albedo decrease of only 1%, bringing the Earth’s albedo from 30% to 29%, would cause an increase in the black-body radiative equilibrium temperature of about 1°C, which is the same amount a doubling of CO2 will give without the unproven feedbacks.

    CO2 concentration. Simultaneously, clouds make an important contribution to the planetary greenhouse effect. …”
    And”¦”… the amplitude and even the sign of cloud feedbacks was noted in the TAR as highly uncertain
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch1s1-5-2.html

    “… the amplitude and even the sign of cloud feedbacks was noted in the TAR as highly uncertain, and this uncertainty was cited as one of the key factors explaining the spread in model simulations of future climate for a given emission scenario. This cannot be regarded as a surprise: that the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate to changing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations must depend strongly on cloud feedbacks can be illustrated on the simplest theoretical grounds, using data that have been available for a long time. Satellite measurements have indeed provided meaningful estimates of Earth’s radiation budget since the early 1970s (Vonder Haar and Suomi, 1971). Clouds, which cover about 60% of the Earth’s surface, are responsible for up to two-thirds of the planetary albedo, which is about 30%. An albedo decrease of only 1%, bringing the Earth’s albedo from 30% to 29%, would cause an increase in the black-body radiative equilibrium temperature of about 1°C, a highly significant value, roughly equivalent to the direct radiative effect of a doubling of the atmospheric
     

  44. Bill Walsh says:

    Michael Tobis @22,
     
    Mr. Tobis,
     
    I frequent many blogs on science and I have a particular fascination with the AGW debate. I have been called a denier and anti-science. I am neither. In fact, I work with scientists every day and my colleagues are likely people you know personally. I have my issues with speculation of doom because I have long felt it would result in a “crying wolf” situation where people would stop listening. It is this style of the “alarmist” that I take issue with. I am all for changes for the better. My life is fairly compact, so I could live with $10 gas. Of course, not all can. Hopefully you see my point, which is that the overzealous push to discuss the “end of the world” rather than sustainability does more harm than good.
     
    With that said, I find your blog, and your comments, to be a reasonable voice in the noise that is the blogosphere of climate science. And to that end, you have swayed my opinion. I appreciate your approach and wish more shared your style. I might not still have 95% confidence in dire predictions of things to come, but I do feel less jaded when I read what you write.
     
    ps…Before I posted this I read the rest of the comments. I tend to be on par with what issacshumann @39 says.

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