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back to article Giddens, Lawson argue quite sensibly on climate change

It's rare for a climate debate not to descend into acrimony, but I attended one last week that didn't. This one pitted against each other the sociologist and New Labour philosopher king Anthony 'Third Way' Giddens, former director of the London School of Economics, and former Chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson. Giddens was speaking …

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FAIL

If I understand correctly . .

. . . the adaptationist argument is that in the future we will all be richer (despite the looming of peak oil, projected water shortages and aging populatons that can't afford to pay their own pensions) and therefore better able to afford the required mitigation (even though the magnitude of the required mitigation rises the longer we wait to do something)?

Wow, Zeno's paradox recast as a wager with our biosphere as the stake!!

HUGE cojones!

AC beause of the inevitable sceptic flamewar.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: If I understand correctly . .

Looks like any catastrophe will do for you.

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..and you do

The 'we'll all be richer soon so do it later because it will cost less then' argument has been proved to be bogus many times over. It has been proven false whenever a project has been initially planned and costed on that basis.

Here is a concrete example: all the main avenues in Harlow have broad, parklike grassy verges and a single lane in each direction because they were designed with the idea that dual carriageways weren't needed when the town was built but it would be a good idea to leave space for future expansion. Now, 50 years later, we still have the same grassy verges, one lane each way but with added rush hour traffic jams. Why? Because nobody can afford to widen the roads: it would have been cheaper to have done it when the town was built.

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Silver badge

What you're missing

is that the climate change projections are based on precisely this basis. Projections for future CO2 emissions necessarily assume some rate of economic growth (typically 3%, but it varies) AND that this growth will require a corresponding increase in carbon emissions.

This sounds small, but taken over 100 years, 3% compound growth equates to a factor of 19.2x. That is, we're assuming the current dirt-poor living on $1/day will have an annual income of $7,000 dollars, while the median wage earner in the UK will be on almost £500,000 per year. Now, I think that if this scenario comes about it will be good news for our descendants, but it's clear that they will be in a far better position to cover the costs of climate change (if any) than we are.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Adaptation or not...

The result is the same - not action. Whether or not that is the best course of action is debatable (though it's clear which position the writer favours) but calling it 'Adaptation' is no better than calling it 'denying'. It's essentially a PR rebranding of exactly the same policy that's been pushed from one side of the debate the whole time - do nothing, ignore the problem and hope somebody else fixes it in the future. The human default option of passing the buck.

OTOH, while the Eco-Activists may have won the PR battle some time ago they were always going to lose the war. Fighting against the hubris, greed and inertia of the entire human race was always futile.

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Silver badge

Not exactly

«do nothing, ignore the problem and hope somebody else fixes it in the future. The human default option of passing the buck.»

Well there is also the teeny weensy question of wether there is a buck to pass in the first place, or if it's only some sensationnalist agenda-pushing by people who'd rather not solve proven problems with nowadays consequences, such as toxic waste. Cutting CO2 would also has the convenient effect of stopping asian and african developpment, which means less scary competition for «us». Convenient to say the least. Why not focus on methane, for example? Maybe because is produced in humongous quantities by industrial cattle breeding and cutting on those emissions would raise the price of meat in the US, tipping the balance towards extensive breeding (Argentina?) . And we can't have that, can we?

All that backed by a guilt-based protestant culture.

«Fighting against the hubris, greed and inertia of the entire human race was always futile.»

Indeed.

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FAIL

denier => adaptationist

Nicely written, but it seems to be starting a new policy based on renaming:

denier => adaptationist

Makes the deniers sound less negative, eh? Same people, same beliefs.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Crikey, Andrew's touched a nerve here

This isn't religion, you know. It's meant to be science. It's not about faith in Climate Change or even evidence that Climate Change is occurring. Neither of those is relevant to the "denier" thing.

What's important is that there is evidence that Climate Change is occurring, evidence that it might be accelerated by human activity, evidence that it happens anyway without human activity and highly disputed evidence about whether altering human activity will slow it down.

It's quite possible to keep a scientific mind on this but you seem to think that a religious fervour is the only option. Me, I'm keeping a Scottish Legal mind on this for now:

Not Proven.

That may change as evidence presents itself or not, in which case I may alter my prevailing opinion. See, changing your mind based on evidence is called "science". Diving headfirst into absolute acceptance is called "superstition".

I know which I prefer.

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@dogged: Well said

There are other concerns too

- That the focus on CO2 as a "pollutant" is crowding out other research into actual pollutants

- That the focus on anthropogenic CO2 as a driver of climate change is marginalising other negative consequences, such as oceanic acidification

- The focus on anthropogenic climate change as a root cause of everything is ignoring actual, solvable causes (i.e, soot from stoves causing the melting of himalayan glaciers, and deforestation around kilimanjaro causing glacial retreat there)

- Cases such as the one cited in the article where funding in anything touching environmental or meteorological issue has to be linked to climate change in some way

And of course, the politicisation of an important area of science.

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FAIL

RE: Crikey, Andrew's touched a nerve here

So you want to hit the windscreen before you concur that seatbelts are a good thing? That's not science that's pig headedness.

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Silver badge

Evidence is "that which is seen"

It's easy to see how seatbelts work and it's easy to see oncoming traffic. It's not so easy to see oncoming global catastrophe - you're guessing and that's not good enough.

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WTF?

WTF?

There you go again, AC. Why are you so angry?

That hitting the windscreen is bad for your head is not in dispute.

People do belt up because the inconvenience is insignificant and the risk is not, although it is not high anyway.

That is NOT the situation with the science surrounding climate change so it is a poor analogy.

With the CO2 question, the inconvenience is great and the risk is FAR from proven and it is still much debated whether actions of reducing CO2 would have much affect anyway.

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Coat

adaptationists => deniers => suppressive persons => heretics => stake

Same people, same beliefs...

Now that's what I like in the Believers: it's all cold science and hard facts.

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Bronze badge
Stop

@dogged

>It's easy to see how seatbelts work and it's easy to see oncoming traffic. It's not so easy to see oncoming global catastrophe - you're guessing and that's not good enough.

Well, the old adage with not wearing seatbelts was "I'd rather be thrown through the windshield then be trapped or burn to death in the car". Say the chance of dying by burning to death in the car or being trapped was >65%. Would you still wear a seatbelt?

Lets operate under the assumption that everything Gore says automatically becomes truth (I'll look through the eyes of a warmer for a minute ^.^). What we then must do is a cost/benefit analysis of the available solutions. We have a "this MAY destroy certain coastal areas and make life harder" on the "do nothing" side. On the other hand, we have a "this WILL negatively effect you life, the development of many nations around the globe and impair the prosperity of all people worldwide [except people like Gore who own all the carbon credit companies and stand to make billions off of legislation]" on the "do something" side of things.

So in matrix form we have:

Do nothing x% chance right very high cost for very limited number of people

Do something y% chance right moderately high cost for almost all people

Granted, the percentages here are the kicker... but assuming each has an equal chance of being right, we are much better off doing nothing than doing something. Do we have strong enough evidence to make any claim about the percentages? Not really, which (in the Western mindset) leads naturally to doing nothing. We believe in innocence until proven guilty.

Not to mention, legislatively and Constitutionally there are no grounds to infringe on the rights of the people based on conjecture.

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Pint

More waffle

But at least the debate was an intelligent waffle unlike the usual load of rubbish.

Climate change is one of many reasons for a substantial change in energy policy - sustainability, self-dependence, making money and not needing an interventionist foreign policy to safeguard it being a few good other reasons.

People can bullshit and argue crap all they want someone, somewhere needs to get on with doing the productive work and ignoring the idealogues! Whether there are deniers, adaptionists, or mitigationists is irrelevant. The cold science is we need more and better produced energy. End of.

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Silver badge
Pint

Bravo, Desk Jockey ...

... have a pint on me!

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Economic Growth, or the absence of it.

The Commitment of the developed economies i.e. those chucking out huge volumes of Carbon dioxide per head of population, to contracting their economies as in the UK, Germany, France, perhaps to a lesser extent in the US, solves the problem for all of us.

If people do less, eat less, travel less, holiday less, replace their cars less often and stop building houses no one wants (UK excepted) then emissions of CO2 will fall dramatically. Given that as Lord Myners has pointed out no one has any suggestions as to where the growth comes from and that if all nations contract their bloated, inefficient, wasteful, parasitic public sectors at the same time that must mean reduced demand and contraction for all, the Western nations are in a strong position to go to the developing nations and demonstrate that they are achieving massive reductions in CO2 emissions albeit somewhat fortuitously or un-fortuitously if you happen to be one of the 40% of Spaniards without a job.

In economies with massive unemployment a shift to low emission cultures through changes in construction techniques, shifting agriculture from pastoral to arable and more efficient transport systems, ought to provide the new technologies and products required to create jobs.

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Boffin

Can you substantiate?

"If people do less, eat less, travel less, holiday less, replace their cars less often and stop building houses no one wants (UK excepted) then emissions of CO2 will fall dramatically"

Can you supply evidence that this will

a) occur as you posit

and

b) result in a cessation of global warming

thus

c) averting doomsday disaster/s

hmm?

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Boffin

Wind power

"Lawson pointed out the pioneers of wind power had all stopped: Denmark, Spain and now Germany - as all had to admit it didn't make sense."

Is this actually true, though? Are there no new wind power deployments? Certainly, Denmark's poster child for such deployments, DONG Energy, (who happen to run a bunch of fossil fuel power stations, which isn't usually mentioned) seems to be building more turbine fields in various countries.

Of course, Lawson and pals are probably feeling a bit outmanoeuvred by those tricky Lib Dems: how dare they hold the Tories to their market-driven economic mantra by insisting that nuclear power operators get no subsidies! By advocating subsidies, the Tories would either risk angering the fiscal conservatives ("Subsidies? How socialist and interventionist!") or look like they're lining the pockets of their chums in some corporation or other.

Wind power might not be that great, but whining about subsidised wind power and conveniently ignoring the systemic subsidies of the nuclear business strikes me as being far from honest.

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WTF?

Then cut ALL energy subsidies

And, include the decomissioning of windmills in the life span costing.

And be honest about the ACTUAL generation capacity of windmills (<<30% of rated power)

And be honest ( and include in the actual cost ) about the required amount of spinning reserve required for every MW of wind energy

BUT, most importantly, ALSO cut the massive subsidies given to windmill builders & operators.

(that's why they keep building them IN OTHER COUNTRIES - massive subsidies)

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Thumb Down

It's about the subsidy

"DONG Energy, (who happen to run a bunch of fossil fuel power stations, which isn't usually mentioned) seems to be building more turbine fields in various countries."

This is all about collecting a big fat subsidy from the taxpayer.

Our local windfarm is idle most of the time. Best estimate is that it's running at 7% of capacity.

It's not a windfarm. It's a subsidy farm.

If governments are stupid enough to buy into wind power, and then give firms huge subsidies to build these monstrosities, then of course firms like DONG will build them.

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Bronze badge
Coat

Adaptionist != denier

After all, to be an adaptionist you have to have *accepted* that there is warming taking place.

There seem to be some people that really just haven't got it yet. The world isn't going to change and go low carbon. The rest of the world wants to industrialise and they don't want to do it on a time scale that will not allow them to keep their carbon emissions low.

If the industrialising world continues to aspire to industrialised societies standards, there is no amount of carbon that can be cut that will mitigate the increase in carbon .

To deny countries the opportunities we have had sounds like the worst form of colonial hubris.

There is no choice but to adapt. We are also going to have to adapt to the worlds ever growing population as well. Perhaps facing these problems might start to make the human race grow up.

But I'm not holding my breath.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Adaptionist != denier

Steve:

> After all, to be an adaptionist you have to have *accepted* that there is warming taking place.<

No. It just means you trust that we can adapt to whatever comes along, without being panicked into doing something stupid.

Seems sensible to me.

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I fear you are right

"If the industrialising world continues to aspire to industrialised societies standards, there is no amount of carbon that can be cut that will mitigate the increase in carbon ."

Unfortunately that is looking increasingly likely and I for one fear that humanity will continue to chat, argue and prevaricate until it is too late to do anything meaningful.

To deny countries the opportunities we have had sounds like the worst form of colonial hubris."

And again, unfortunately I wouldn't blame anyone in the devloping world for taking that view. We are all in the same boat but some of us are in the luxury apartments and don't want to downgrade even if the boat is sinking.

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Silver badge

Metaphor issues

"We are all in the same boat but some of us are in the luxury apartments and don't want to downgrade even if the boat is sinking."

how does a lower standard of accommodation increase buoyancy, exactly?

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Boffin

"We" can adapt?

Orlowski: "No. It just means you trust that we can adapt to whatever comes along, without being panicked into doing something stupid."

What's this "we" business, Andrew? It's self-evident there will be winners and losers as the world warms. It sounds like you'd do nothing and let the weak fall by the wayside, rather than do "something stupid". Are you sure you'll be a winner, then? Are you sure that doing nothing isn't the stupid thing to do?

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Megaphone

You might want to look up "ice age" sometime.

Q: "Is the Earth's climate changing?"

A: Yes. And it has been doing so since the planet formed.

Q: "Is man's influence on this climate change proven?"

A: No.

*Nobody* has a clear notion of how the Earth's climate actually works! We're still finding out new information about it every day. All we have are umpteen computer simulations—which are not "proof" or "evidence" in any shape or form—based on theories and hypotheses.

The very idea that we know what humanity's influence on the climate is, right down to the nth decimal point, is utter nonsense and has no scientific basis. Anyone who genuinely claims to know how to "fix" our climate woes had better have some cast iron, rock solid evidence—again, no "simulations", please; simulations are NOT proof!—to back his assertions.

Q: "What's the worst that could happen?"

A: A sea level rise of about a metre or so is considered the worst case scenario by the IPCC. Bits of Cambridge and Norfolk will get a tad moist, but they're not exactly highly populated areas, and we know how to build dykes and sea walls. We've built such things before.

*Some* people may end up having to relocate—e.g. parts of Bangladesh—but these people are usually in areas with little expensive infrastructure, so relocation costs should be relatively low.

Q: "Does it make sense to spend silly amounts of money trying to reduce CO2 emissions by a few percent then?"

A: Doubtful. Some of the "solutions" being suggested would be *more expensive* than simply relocating those affected to other areas.

Q: "But what if I want to stay where I am?"

A: Feel free. But you don't get to whine about having to walk 5 miles to the nearest fresh water.

Homo Sapiens' success is due to its ability to *adapt*. Very few other species have managed to survive in climates as diverse as frozen tundra and hot deserts.

The Earth has no contract with us requiring it to maintain a pleasant atmosphere suitable for humanity in perpetuity. Getting *off* this planet will do far more, in the long term, to ensure our species' survival than any amount of tilting at wind turbines.

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Boffin

Re: You might want to look up "ice age" sometime.

"Homo Sapiens' success is due to its ability to *adapt*. Very few other species have managed to survive in climates as diverse as frozen tundra and hot deserts."

That's a great blackboard-side lecture. You can wave the hand and make observations about a whole species, noting that the species as a whole survives, chalking it up as a victory, putting a one in the column under "surviving species". That's great if you're talking about ants, but it's a bit different when the individuals concerned are human beings.

"The Earth has no contract with us requiring it to maintain a pleasant atmosphere suitable for humanity in perpetuity."

That's true, but unless you have some kind of Eve Online fetish, it's probably best to not make large, additional tracts of the planet inhospitable "because we should all be in space, anyway". And over and over again, colonisation has been shown only to be viable if the culture attempting it has a large surplus of resources. Bringing humanity to its knees is not a great start for any sustained exploration of space.

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Politics and the art of the possible

> Although the political elite is almost entirely signed up to mitigation policies, the reality is that they can't introduce them, because it means electoral suicide.

They can't introduce them - correct - but they know a man who can. Or in the case of the USA a woman who can, heading up the Environmental Protection Agency, whose PhD in Chemistry has convinced her that CO2 is a "danger". In the last 24 hours the Murkowski Resolution to reign in the EPA failed in the US Senate, which means that mitigation policies outside of democractic scrutiny or control can be proceeded with in the USA without apparently stigmatizing the politicians.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

"Denier" vs "Adaptionist"

First and foremost, both tags are creations of the liberal media intended to bias in favor of those who have paid them off (Al Gore, et al).

Second, there is definitely a difference between the two, and more or less difference depending on the extent of the definition.

Denier... denying... what exactly? That the Earth is warming or that humanity is the cause of it? There is very little evidence that the Earth has warmed at all. Since we do not know the true average temperature of the Earth, no one can assert that any change in temperature is statistically significant without being intellectually dishonest. The Warming Cult then falls back on comparative measures for the time period we do have on record. Even then, time and time again the IPCC, NASA and other groups have admitted or been discovered to be outright faking and creating false data to "prove" their point.

Based on this lack of evidence of warming, many deny the claims of the Warming Cult outright. When that is combined with the number of groups caught falsifying data to make it show warming, the case against warming becomes stronger. Why would they need to fake the data if any warming at all was occurring? Even if the magnitude was small, they could just stress how important that small magnitude is. Instead they create the problem by faking records.

The other side of the "denier" tag are those people who have done the scientific research and discovered that, like the weather, global temperate is fully dependent on the solar activity. This group does not deny that warming is happening, but instead show with a strong backing of actual science (instead of political conjecture) that the solar cycles drive global temperate. Just the other day there was an AP news article about how the heightened solar activity is endangering global communications satellites. El Nino and La Nina are well known by anyone who has any knowledge of meteorological science... yet rogue politicians with socialist agendas claim that the sun has no effect on global temperature. Laughable.

So to summarize:

Denier - Earth isn't warming

VS

Denier - Humans aren't the problem

Within each of those two segments comes a further division: Adaption versus global catastrophe. So in actuality, based on the media's contrived definitions, there are actually four distinct types just within those two monikers.

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Silver badge

Erm...

I think you'd have a stronger point if you could refrain from shouting «you dirty communist liberal socialist cultist sissy!» at everything that moves (as any non-ultra-right-wing merkin nutter knows, several of these are mutually exclusive anyway).

Other than that you raise a few interesting points (mostly, that it's now all a political debate hiding under the pretense of science).

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Gold badge
Flame

The UK energy market is pretty strange

The market was rigged to force *only* gas powered gas turbines to be economically viable to knee cap the coal industry. It has succeeded *brilliantly* in this objective. The UK has c2 *centuries* of coal reserves underground.

And that's where they're staying.

Meanwhile it buys in lots of that gas from East European countries whose idea of "Diplomacy" involves a slap up mean garnished with a little Po210.

A little legacy of Margaret Thatcher people prefer *not* to think about.

Meanwhile it is *surrounded* by an abundance of tidal and wave power it has made virtually *no* effort to exploit for *decades*. Only the Scottish parliament seems to be addressing this, despite there being plenty of English (and Welsh) coastline that could be tapped.

Nuclear power has been under development since at *least* the early 1950s. I doubt *any* of the huge coal and oil fired UK stations were built with a built with a subsidy (given they were built by the UK Govt in the guise of CEGB it would have been along the lines of "This stations cost so much to construct it will *never* pay back its construction costs, Minister").

Note the UK could re-fuel up to 50% of its gas turbine generating capacity (realistically at least 25%) by anaerobically digested waste.

Unified energy policy? Targets base on carbon emissions and maximum unit prices?

Flames because it could be done a *lot* better.

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Unhappy

Cut to the chase

The bit that everyone seems to skate around is: carbon based energy is going to get inexorably more expensive, either because it comes out of the ground or from stuff that grows on the ground. In either case there is limited availability and what there is will diminish.

Therefore energy has to be obtained from other sources and the devices that use said energy will have to modified or replaced by things that can utilise its replacement (basically electricity). Several things flow from this:

1) Wind is not much use unless there is a significant storage system associated with it.

2) Solar is better but does not work at night so you need still storage and also large area electricity distribution (both to cope with nights and placing PV cells in places with lots of sun).

3) Tidal is yields regular but constantly moving periods of max generation. These periods will not coincide with energy need precisely very often. More storage and/or wide area transport required.

None of the above are realistically capable of any more than a fraction of the UK's base load requirements so what is there to replace carbon based energy production? That actually exists today?

Well, there is nuclear. Pity it is old fashioned and inefficient U235 but it exists and it works. Thorium based reactors show much better potential both for efficiency and lack of by products - but don't really exist commercially. So we are stuck with French designs.

Er.. that's it. There is nothing else. Other than, at last noting what is mentioned in points 1-3 and maybe doing something about storage and wide area distribution. Both eminently doable, but need development.

Dunno what we are going to use to go and see the family in Oz though.. Back to tea clippers?

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And so it happens...

The 'sceptic' arguments morph into the next phase.

First it was "it's not warming", then "ok it is warming but it's not man", now it's moved on to "ok it is warming and it is man but let's not bother trying to do anything about it".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And so it happens...

Of course people who enjoy the status quo, particularly in connection with the energy sector, are not going to concede anything in its entirety overnight. Why would they do that when businesses in that sector are taking *hundreds* of billions of dollars in revenues, making *tens* of billions of dollars in profit, *every* *single* *year*?

When the only people who can curtail oil exploration are governments, should it be so surprising that every effort is made to persuade (in various senses and to various degrees) governments to keep the oil (and the money) flowing, and to placate the general public that "something is being done, honest"?

Sure, something will be done eventually, when there's no money to be made from oil and gas.

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Boffin

Reductio ad absurdum...?

...or are you just absurdly reducing the argument?

There is now sufficient evidence that those arguing that teh climate is being warmed to dangerous levels primarily by human activity have failed to support their case with verifiable evidence.

So I'm with the Scottish lawyer: Not Proven.

I also note as a separate factor that many of the hysterical arguers conflate carbon dioxide emissions with pollution.

Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, it is an essential compound in the carbon/oxygen cycle for our "carbon-based life form" (thank you Douglas Adams for a top-class definition).

I have no objection to reducing pollution, or to using energy more efficiently and effectively.

However, I object to the bastardising of science by people wishing to banish the carbon from our carbon based lifestyle, and thus inflicting a death-wish upon the human race.

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No proof, ample evidence

I was merely pointing out that the rhetoric employed by 'sceptics' has evolved over time as each argument has conclusively been demonstrated to be false. It's really quite sad and this latest tactic is particularly insidious.

I'm sorry to say that it's very unlikely that we will ever have proof, but there is ample evidence to support the notion that man's activity is the primary driver of observed warming and there is ample evidence to support the notion that a policy of deep cuts in carbon emissions will give us a chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. At the very least it will give us a bit of breathing space to adapt. And there is ample evidence to support the notion that the trajectory that the likes of Lawson and Orlowski would have us tread will make life very very difficult for a large swathe of humanity in the future.

I'm unsure what you mean by your last paragraph though - there'll still be plenty of carbon around for plants to photosynthesise if that's what you're worried about

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Ample just means "I'm satisfied"

scatter, you use the word "ample" (which means commenter scatter is sufficiently convinced) several times:

1 - "ample evidence" that industrial CO2 forcings are the primary factor in climate change

(Despite the evidence, namely the absence of a correlation strong enough to indicate causation. Not to mention the tropospheric hotspot that isn't there, or the (supposedly) stored ocean heat that can't be found, etc)

2 - "ample evidence" that cuts in CO2 will work

(Such evident is completely absent. Policies intended to cut CO2 don't even cut CO2 emissions, let alone affect the climate)

3 - "ample evidence" that adaptation harms more people than mitigation.

The opposite is true.

The nub of your argument is this:

"the trajectory that the likes of Lawson and Orlowski would have us tread will make life very very difficult for a large swathe of humanity in the future"

More unfounded speculation. What is not in doubt is that absolute poverty kills people. To make life difficult for a large swathe of humanity, you create as many obstacles as you can to their economic development. Just like we did, they need cheap and abundant fossil fuels to advance from poverty. This appears to be the goal for many "climate change" campaigners. Reducing emissions, rather than the utilitarian goal of lifting humanity out of poverty, is the goal.

I suggest you pay a visit to your local Indian and Chinese embassies and start persuading them to stop building coal powered stations from there. And good luck :)

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Bronze badge
FAIL

@scatter

I'm glad that you have "conclusive evidence" that the Earth is warming. The rest of the world would like to see it, since apparently you are the only one who has it. I'm going to assume you're going based on outdated information. For example:

http://www.heartland.org/full/24359/Warmest_October_Claim_Was_Wrong_NASA_Admits.html

Highlights:

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies—known as GISS—was forced to admit it committed an egregious error when it publicly claimed October 2008 was the warmest October in history. It turns out October 2008 was nowhere near a record. Global temperature measurements of the Earth’s lower atmosphere by NASA satellite instruments show it was fairly typical compared to temperatures over the past 30 years and significantly cooler than average temperatures over the past seven years.

In late 2007 McIntyre discovered GISS had been systematically reporting overly warm U.S. temperatures. McIntyre caused a sensation in late 2007 when he proved NASA had been unjustifiably adding a significant 0.15º Celsius to its U.S. temperature reports since the year 2000. As a result of McIntyre’s research, scientists discovered 2006 was not the warmest year in U.S. history, as GISS had very publicly claimed. In fact, 1934 was the warmest year, and 2006 fell to a distant fourth. Only four of the top 11 warmest years have occurred since 1954, according to the corrected data.

I further hope you are not going by the, now nearly a decade disproven, "hockey stick" graph.

So what CAN science tell us? Science tells us that temperature and weather patterns fluctuate in a primarily cyclical nature over the course of human history. In general, increased solar activity warms and cools the ocean surface temperature, which causes changes in weather patterns. The best known of these patterns is known as ENSO (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Ni%C3%B1o-Southern_Oscillation).

What does this say about Carbon Dioxide? Contrary to popular belief, the largest stores of Carbon Dioxide are not within fossil fuels, or even trees and plant life. No, the largest amounts of CO2 are held within our planet's oceans. As anyone with basic knowledge of chemistry is aware, the amount of gas or solid that can be held within a liquid changes based on temperature. By heating a liquid containing CO2 in solution, the CO2 is released from the solution. An easy way to observe this firsthand is with a simple bottle of cola. What happened when cola is heated? It goes "flat", which is the layperson way of saying the carbonation (CO2) that has been dissolved into the cola has left solution with the liquid.

It makes perfect sense then that there would be a positive correlation between CO2 and global temperature, since warmer weather results in massive amounts of CO2 being released from the oceans.

All in all, based off of the "corrected" NASA climate data, it is impossible to say that there is a long term warming trend in global temperature. Based on systematic errors present in the temperature data collection process used by NASA and related agencies, it is likely that their "corrected" data is still wrong, on the warmer side of things.

In the short term, the Earth does go through warmer and colder periods, dictated by, like all other weather patterns, solar activity. During those times, we see fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 levels due to ocean surface temperature changes.

The "skeptic" position is this:

>Is the Earth warming: probably not, but we have no proof either way.

>If the Earth is warming, it is a solar cycle, calm down.

>Are humans contributing greatly to atmospheric CO2: conclusively not, CO2 fluctuations from non-human sources are many magnitudes larger.

>Could humanity provide a "tipping point" change in CO2 large enough to throw the entire system out of equilibrium: Well, anything is possible, but if that were the situation, any attempt we made to stop it would be infinitesimal compared to the other forces at play.

What this represents is a change in the framing by Gore and others, with each challenge and defeat they receive. It first was called "global warming" which ended when it was shown that there was no proof the Earth was warming. It was then called "climate change" until it was shown that there was no proof that the climate was changing. Now they are trying to classify CO2 as a pollutant... because who can possibly say that pollution is good?

What you see here is a movement not from theory to theory, nor a developing process based on increased scientific evidence. Rather you see a change in rhetoric aimed at making "opposition" impossible by means of PR suicide. Thus the problem that anyone with scientific intelligence has with Gore et al. Real work on the topic will not be done until the politicians STFU and go home.

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costs of energy

oil prices are going up on a long-term basis. This is not going to stop. How can you keep the costs lower? Easy, create the energy in some other way so less oil, gas etc need to be used.

Practical result is that building renewable energy actually reduces the cost of electricity generally, although unless it's done on a large, worldwide scale you wouldn't see much difference.

I wonder, every time I read articles by Mr Orlowski: has he *ever* studied *anything* to do with actual energy policy or economics? I see his writing as a classic case of confirmation bias. Quite apart from Climate Change (which is, and will remain a real issue regardless of sticking fingers in ears and saying *ner ner ner* loudly), he shows really basic comprehension problems with the science & economics of energy, which is pretty awful for a writer in the field.

Still, hopefully he'll read this and go off and research for instance the National Grid and intermittancy, which is a good place to start with understanding the impacts of high levels of renewable energy penetration on the national electricity supply.

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FAIL

I stopped reading at this point

">Are humans contributing greatly to atmospheric CO2: conclusively not, CO2 fluctuations from non-human sources are many magnitudes larger."

This isn't even under debate by anyone who can actually read scientific papers. Whether the influence of the extra carbon dioxide is causing warming...well, you can argue over that if you will. But the fact of extra carbon dioxide being caused by humans is extremely basic science.

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Unfounded speculation?

How on earth can you in all seriousness call it unfounded speculation? By all means disagree with me but you are now calling the whole of climate science (on which I base my viewpoint) unfounded speculation? Truly extraordinary.

You and Lawson are the ones speculating rampantly, indeed betting the house on adaptation being cheaper in the future than a combination of mitigation now coupled with a lower requirement for adaptation in the future (becuase we're already committed to a substantial amount of disruption).

It's also worth pointing out that virtually every serious economist working in this field views mitigation and adaptation as much, much cheaper than your solution of BAU plus adaptation.

And no Andrew, I'm not aiming to create as many obstacles to the developing world's economic development as I can. I get very tired of you and other commentators of a certain ilk spouting the tired, bullshit line that environmentalists want to keep the developing world in poverty.

It's the developed world that should be making quick cuts in carbon emissions in the first instance and then sharing the technology to enable low carbon development with the rest of the world. But then on the subject of developed world carbon mitigation you come up with chestnuts like "mitigation entails a world of pain - with jobs lost, higher energy costs and a lower standard of living".

The key mitigation solution is energy efficiency and, while a switch to low carbon energy might mean higher unit costs, if you're consuming half the quantity of energy then it means *lower* overall energy costs.

A transition to low carbon energy also entails massive job growth due to the total overhaul of our energy infrastructure that will be required and I have no idea how you can equate energy efficiency and low carbon energy with a lower standard of living because it makes no sense whatsoever.

Do you really think that reliance on fossil fuels is good for the developed world economy? Each year UK homes spend about £35 billion on heat and power and a further £35 billion is spent fueling our cars. That's really good for the balance of payments!

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Bronze badge

Reading on the internet is hard

>This isn't even under debate by anyone who can actually read scientific papers. Whether the influence of the extra carbon dioxide is causing warming...well, you can argue over that if you will. But the fact of extra carbon dioxide being caused by humans is extremely basic science.

I never said "extra carbon dioxide" isn't being "caused by humans". I pointed out that the change magnitude of carbon emissions from humans is very small as a percentage of the total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

For example, the change in plant life based on seasonality has a greater effect than humanity could ever hope to achieve if we tried. Same with solar activity effecting global temperature.

The ONLY legitimate concern I have seen from the Warming Cult is that the atmospheric system could be too close to the edge of equilibrium. It is possible that a small contribution from humans could push the system out of equilibrium, and Alarmists like to assume that the plant would have no natural countermeasures for this process. So what are the problems here?

1.) We don't know anywhere near enough about the system to determine where we are in terms of equilibrium. Theoretically it is possible, but so are a number of things that will never happen.

2.) Alarmists assume the Earth itself would not respond. There was once many, many times more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, ending shortly before the Jurassic period. The Earth fixed it then, and can fix it again now. Plant life was so prevalent during that time period, not because the "big bad humans have cut it down since" but because a warmer temperature with more carbon dioxide is conducive to growing plants.

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Silver badge

and so.. (additive vs sequential)

«First it was "it's not warming", then "ok it is warming but it's not man", now it's moved on to "ok it is warming and it is man but let's not bother trying to do anything about it".»

What about "there is no evidence of warming whatsoever, even if there was a warming human influence would be very unlikely to play any role in it, and the proposed so-called 'mitigation' measures are only self-serving neo-imperialism and would not stop an hypothetical warming hypothetically contributed to by humanity anyway"?

It's additive, not sequential.

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Science?

A leading climatologist was recently quoted as stating that if the laws of thermodynamics do not support the Co2=climate change then they must be wrong and need changing. This shows a dramatic arrogance and ignorance.

Dave.

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Science or politics?

What David Robinson 2 says above illustrates nicely what the problem is. The vast majority of so-called "scientists" claiming that man-made climate change is happening are ignorant, arrogant, and totally uninterested in evidence-based science as opposed to faith-based ideology.

Above we have comments advancing the argument that wind-power is a less costly means of producing usable energy that burning coal; well, not only is it vastly more costly but also it adds to the total carbon-production of our energy industry. But the believers don't want to know that - and that's another big part of the problem.

The best argument sfor reducing our dependency on fossil fuels are (a) that extraction can cause probles: look at BP's current little embarrassment with oild pollution, (b) that the supply is not unlimited, and (c) that oil and coal burning power stations produce real pollution (not carbon dioxide - the volumes are trivial, but sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and in the case of coal a good amount of solid ash, perhaps discharging into the atmosphere, as Frisch pointed out 60 years ago, more radioactive material than would ever be permitted from nuclear plants). But the cost of wind-power probably rules it out as a sensible replacement for fossil-fuel burning, particularly since it is an intermittent source which really needs a reliable back-up, which would probably have to be fossil-fuel based.

Solar power is a better bet than wind power in many places (even in climates like the UK) but is clearly useless in Norther Scandinavia and other places where it would generate very little energy for months at a stretch.

Water power (whether wave power or old-fashioned) is perhaps a better bet, but decent wave-power system is not available (small scale experimental stuff looks promising, but it isn't industrial scale yet) and is probably a bit awkward from places a long way from (unfrozen) sea, and the old-fashioned hydroelectric plant is only useful where there are suitable rivers and level changes. Of course in Britain we could maybe combine increased use of hydro-electric power with a much needed increase in drinking water reservoir capacity, but there are minuses as well as pluses to making that combination.

Nuclear power looks possible, but since we have a large numnber of ideology driven opposers to this one solution that stands a realy good chance of working quickly it's not going to happen on a large enough scale to make a difference unless the damage those opposers are doing becomes so great and so obvious that even they have to recognise it - which, seeing as they are into ideology-based science instead of evidence-based science, means not until we have major catastrophes to cope with.

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