the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Wishful Thinking

Posted by Jeff Id on February 9, 2010

A little humor from De Smog Blog copied in full without permission below.  The author is clearly one of those who missed the fact that even the wildly biased NAS panel agreed with Wegman’s findings.  h/t Tom Fuller – link on right.  I don’t rely on panels myself but rather rely on my own understanding.  Unfortunately the majority of activists have little of that.  The post is full of unsubstantiated accusation but that’s ok because without it, it just wouldn’t be as funny.

Click the big title below to see the original.

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Wegman’s Report Highly Politicized – and Fatally Flawed

“Independent” Hockey Stick analysis revealed as Republican set-up

The purportedly independent report that Dr. Edward Wegman prepared in 2006 for the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce was actually a partisan set-up, according to information revealed today.

Wegman, who had presented himself as an impartial “referee” between two “teams” debating the quality of the so-called Hockey Stick graph was, in fact, coached throughout his review by Republican staffer Peter Spencer. Wegman and his colleagues also worked closely with one of the teams (and especially with retired mining stock promoter Stephen McIntyre) to try to replicate criticism of the Hockey Stick graph, while at the same time foregoing contact with the actual authors of the seminal climate reconstruction.

The Hockey Stick refers to a graph (by Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes) that became a defining image of the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It also became a target for Steve McIntyre and the Guelph University economist Ross McKitrick, who since 2002, at least, has been a paid spokesperson for ExxonMobil-backed think tanks such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Fraser Institute.

According to a detailed analysis by the blogger Deep Climate, McIntyre and McKitrick’s criticism of the Hockey Stick graph was aggressively promoted and disseminated by an echo chamber of think tanks and blogs, all of which had financial or ideological associations with fossil fuel industry funders.

Then, in 2005, (and perhaps through the machinations of CEI climate specialist Myron Ebell), Republican Rep. and Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Joe Barton began calling for an investigation into the graph. But Barton rejected an offer from National Academy of Sciences President Ralph Ciccerone to conduct a formal and independent review in the highly professional manner typical of the nation’s foremost scientific body. Barton chose, instead, to engage a statistician (Wegman) from one of the most conservative institutions in the country (George Mason University) and to task him with setting up a team to dissect Mann’s Hockey Stick.

The result was predictable. Collaborating with McIntyre, Wegman’s team recreated and then endorsed the critical view of Michael Mann’s work. According to earlier revelations from Deep Climate, Wegman also cribbed – arguably plagiarized – work from Raymond Bradley, lifting whole sections of his 1999 textbook, but periodically changing material or inserting information calculated to cast doubt on the reliability of tree-ring data (the source of the MBH  climate reconstruction). In the most outrageous example, suspiciously unattributed, Wegman’s report actually suggested that tree rings might be affected positively by automobile pollution. (“… oxides of nitrogen are formed in internal combustion engines that can be deposited as nitrates also contributing to fertilization of plant materials.”)

All this could be dismissed as typical politicking except for two things. First, because this was presented as an independent and impartial review, it is reasonable to ask whether Barton, Wegman, et al, are guilty of misleading Congress, a felony offense.

Second, the same echo chamber that promoted Steve McIntyre’s criticism of the Hockey Stick is now fully engaged accusing scientists of manipulating data to increase global concern about climate change. The manipulation of both data and public opinion are certainly evident in this story. Science has most certainly been politicized. But (thanks to Deep Climate’s careful research) the record shows that the manipulation and politicization has been bought and paid for by the energy industry and executed by a sprawling network of think tanks and blogs – and by leading Republicans and their staffers.

This is, at the very least, fodder for a Congressional investigation as to whether the Energy and Commerce Committee was, indeed, intentionally and perhaps disastrously misled.


50 Responses to “Wishful Thinking”

  1. Phillip Bratby said

    Do I see anything there to suggest that M&M or Wegman were wrong? Of course not. It’s just a load of assertions and innuendo – highly amusing as you say.

  2. Harold Vance said

    The portrayal of Wegman as being unable to think for himself just doesn’t square with the facts.

    Why is that so much of the hyperventilating from the left inevitably contains references to puppet masters and handlers? Do these guys ever have any original thoughts?

  3. BarryW said

    De Smog is the same blog that is too ignorant to understand the differences between microsite issues and UHI in trashing Anthony Watt’s surfacestations effort, or maybe he thinks everyone else is.

  4. RomanM said

    Transparent insinuations and innuendo. With all those “facts” referenced to DeepClimate, DeSmog’s post should have been titled “Dumb and Dumber”!

    Don’t these guys understand that what Wegman presented was not just his opinion? There was an analysis along with it. Everybody was allowed to read it and point out any errors that they could identify, but no, the best they could come up with was “Well, Mann may have done it wrong … but the result could still be correct”. True science…

    These latest forays against the “skeptics” appear to be part of a misguided effort to save the tattered remnants of the reputations of certain climate scientists. The problem is that they have nothing factual to use so the smears must all be invented and insinuated. Unfortunately, it has overtones of a real desperation.

  5. Joe Crawford said

    It seems to be a natural tendency of mankind, or at least some of us, to assign our own inadequacies to others. So that, if we are incapable of thinking for ourselves, we assume that everyone else is as well. When, even though we may have been taught better by our parents and peers, we catch ourselves making decisions based purely on self interest, we assume that everyone else does the same. Therefore, our fall back retort, when we really haven’t the foggiest idea of what we are talking about, is always the ad hominem, either questioning the other persons linage or assigning to them a position of totally biased self interest and ignoring the any facts presented.

    It is amazing to me how many blog entries and posted comments, like those referenced here, start with the ad hominem. You would think they would eventually realize that they are only showing their own ignorance, or, to generalize what BerryW stated above, maybe they are just “too ignorant to understand”.

  6. hswiseman said

    Wegman was right about the stick of course and demolished de-centered PCA. Events have proven him even moreso correct in his findings relating to the in-bred, incestuous world of climate science. The peer network aspect of his review stands completely vindicated.

  7. Espen said

    Too funny. But also boring, can these people really not come up with anything better than that “big oil” argument?

    What really bothers me is why statisticians haven’t been more outspoken. The first time I looked at how these hockey sticks are constructed, it looked like such an absurd misuse of statistical methods that I thought for a long time that I must have missed something. Steve McIntyre has, after all, been very kind with these guys, as far as I can tell their methods are just 100% rubbish all the way through. It’s not just the way Mann did PC analysis that stinks. They way they cherry-pick their data (looking for e.g. tree ring samples with “temperature signals”), they’re violating all principles of sampling, so no statistical measures with any confidence estimates are valid at all. In fact, when you use an exploratory method like PCA, you should have TWO randomly selected sets of samples, one for PCA and one for testing your model. Instead they use one cherry picked data set.

    And I’m not even a statistician (I majored in math, statistics was just a side subject) – this is really undergraduate stuff, the absolute basics of applying quantitative methods in any branch of science.

  8. hswiseman said

    I remember when Jeff first came on here, one of the original articles was his hockey stick red noise testing, which essentially reproduced Wegman without even knowing it. All Jeff and Wegman did is what Espen suggests above…test what happens when you run something through your hockey-stick daemon other than the handpicked data. Alas, it still spits out hockey sticks from a randomized signal.

  9. Jerome Hudson said

    I was intrigued by the author’s quotation from Wegman:

    “…oxides of nitrogen are formed in internal combustion engines that can be deposited as nitrates also contributing to fertilization of plant materials”

    Having once read the Wegman executive summary, I am surprised
    that I hadn’t seen it. It’s there, all right. I wonder whether
    there is any substance to Wegman’s conjecture, or is it just
    BS? (No doubt the author took this as a gaffe.) I did
    a quick web search, coming up only with this:
    http://hortipm.tamu.edu/ipmguide/nutrient/nitrogen.html
    (from Texas Agricultural Extension Service)
    “Research has shown that the balance between nitrate (NO3), nitrogen (N) and ammonium (NH4) can effect plant growth.”

    The oxides (incl. NO2) would of course be present in auto
    exhausts, and then could find their way into ground water
    as acids.

    Is there a biologist in the house who can cast some light on
    this?

    Of course Wegman’s point remains quite valid: there must be many
    factors which control tree-ring growth – not just temperature.

    – Jerry

  10. claw said

    Did someone from the National Enquirer write this? Skirting the truth to provide innuendo. Thanks for the chuckle.

    BTW Jeff, your name and an incorrect assessment of your views have been bandied about at Lucia’s (see Lambert vs. Monckton)

  11. Argosy Jones said

    My favorite line “…all of which had financial or ideological associations with fossil fuel industry funders.”

    They could write that of anybody who disagrees with them since the very point of disagreement is the only way you could establish “ideological associations.”

    Like Hitler, Andrew Wyeth was a painter of landscapes.

  12. Kon Dealer said

    Jerome, NO2 tends to further oxidise and react with water vapour in the atmosphere to form nitric acid (HNO3)- a component of acid rain.

    However it will react with many carbonate based rocks- e.g. limestone (CaCo3)

    CaCO3 + 2HNO3 –> Ca(NO3)2 + CO2 + H20

    Now NO3 salts are excellent fertilisers and since high latitude and altitude soils tend to be poorly developed and lacking in nutrients, there will be a distinct atmospheric “fertilisation” effect (as well as that from increased atmospheric CO2)..
    And they wonder why the growth of some plants in these regions is enhanced?

  13. John F. Pittman said

    Jerome Hudson http://www.bayjournal.com/article.cfm?article=2178 Yes. It is usuallly taken to task because of GHG, ozone, and acid rain. Nitrates/Nitrates are part of “Miracle Grow”. The other is phosphates. NOx and phosphates are often targeted for eutrophication of water ways (act as fertilizer to produce anoxic, therefore toxic.) Effects have at least been postulated for high Sierra biomes. I am not sure of the measurement quality of this report (working from memory). GHG’s have eaten up much of the intellectual space these days. I am not sure if its fertilizer effects have been looked at in detail. Ozone, GHG tend to be the slant. http://www.springerlink.com/content/qmw50061n5152185/

  14. JAE said

    Jeff:

    ” I don’t rely on panels myself but rather rely on my own understanding.”

    Yeah, me too. What an illogical comedy. Only whining about politics and big oil. Not one reference to the factual issues involved. LOL

  15. John M said

    OK, the full quote from Wegman, since AGWers are always stomping their little feet about “context”.

    In addition, as use of fossil fuels has risen, so does the release of oxides of nitrogen into the atmosphere, some of which are deposited as nitrates, that are fertilizer for biota. Thus tree ring growth would be correlated with the deposition of nitrates, which, in turn, would be correlated with carbon dioxide release. There are clearly confounding factors for using tree rings as temperature signals.

    If one Googles: nitrogen deposition, one finds that there is a vibrant debate (if you’ll pardon the expression) about the relative effects of fertilization vs. phytotoxicity and soil acidification wrt to oxides of nitrogen. Here is a recent example favoring the fertilization angle. Note that they deal exclusively with oxides of nitrogen when they discuss “nitrogen deposition.”

    K. Trusilova and G. Churkina, Biogeosciences, 5, 1505–1515, 2008

    http://www.biogeosciences.net/5/1505/2008/bg-5-1505-2008.pdf

    We use a biogeochemical terrestrial ecosystem model BIOME-BGC to estimate responses in the net carbon flux to the urbanization driven changes in land cover, climate, atmospheric CO2 concentrations, atmospheric deposition of nitrogen that comes from oxides of nitrogen (NOx) produced during combustion,and the synergetic effect of all these four changes together. We chose to include only nitrogen and CO2 fertilisation effects in our simulations because those are direct effects which are well represented by a variety of process-based biosphere models.

    later

    This finding is confirmed by field studies where nitrogen availability was shown to be a constraint to CO2-induced stimulation of plant growth (Reich et al., 2006; Oren et al., 2001). Our results were also in accordance with results from several modelling studies (Churkina et al., 2007; Lloyd, 1999) where numerical models were employed to simulate response of biosphere carbon cycle on the continental level. Low availability of nitrogen in the soils suppresses the positive physiological response of plant growth to elevated CO2. Anthropogenic increase in nitrogen deposition enhances availability of nitrogen in soil and thus the response of plants to increasing atmospheric CO2. Increase in atmospheric nitrogen deposition has been shown to drive the sequestration of carbon by European forests (Magnani et al., 2007).

    Perhaps Wegman would have been better off saying “could” instead of “would”, since as I say, this is being intensly debated, but his comment about feritilization from oxides of nitrogen is certainly not something “deep climate” ought to load up his pants over.

    It appears these guys are as quick to claim The Science is Settled™ with atmospheric nitrogen chemistry as they are with atmospheric CO2 chemistry.

  16. kdk33 said

    “Science has most certainly been politicized. But (thanks to Deep Climate’s careful research) the record shows that the manipulation and politicization has been bought and paid for by the energy industry and executed by a sprawling network of think tanks and blogs – and by leading Republicans and their staffers.”

    Ah yes. Suicidal oil company executives, evil senators, and other bad actors seeking to destroy the planet. Almost forgot about that.

  17. Mark T said

    Interesting they never can quite close the funding gap between alarmists and skeptics. We’re so well funded yet somehow, there’s no paper trail of any of us actually receiving nor spending any of the vast riches that fuel our conspiracy.

    Mark

  18. Mark T said

    John M said
    February 9, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Perhaps Wegman would have been better off saying “could” instead of “would”, since as I say, this is being intensly debated, but his comment about feritilization from oxides of nitrogen is certainly not something “deep climate” ought to load up his pants over.

    Specifics of his comment are actually irrelevant since his point was merely that there are confounding factors that compromise the legitimacy of using tree rings as temperature proxies. He certainly could have used a better example, and there are numerous examples he could have chosen from (there is one that immediately and irrevocably invalidates tree rings as proxies for temperature). That they raise such a fuss over such a quibble is actually pretty good proof they don’t have much of an argument otherwise.

    Mark

  19. […] the original post: Wishful Thinking « the Air Vent climate-change, energy, february, hurricanes, jerome-hudson, opinion, the-air-vent, […]

  20. Mescalero said

    De Smog Blog — any relation to De Paranoia Blog??

  21. David Jay said

    “careful research”

    I’ve read a lot of Deep Climate’s posts. Can’t swallow that positioning.

    Credo: In God We Trust, all others show code and data

  22. actually thoughtful said

    So I am not sure I understand why anyone cares about the hockey stick?

    My basis for understanding of any issue is the science. And it seems obvious that while you could get some pre-instrumentation data – it would all be very questionable, regardless of how good your statistical method.

    IF the hockey stick is true – what does that tell us about human caused warming now?

    And if it is broken – what does that tell us about human caused global warming now?

    Any light cast on this question is appreciated.

  23. Carrick said

    Actually Thoughtful, the main issue is how large natural variability is with respect to man-made climate change. If the MWP is warmer than the current climate, that implies greater natural variability, and makes less important a given climate change from human activity.

    Think “unprecedented warming”.

  24. Christopher K said

    I sent the following comment to WUWT in the ‘Post Normal’ science thread that has relevance to Wegman:
    Now that I have read and, more importantly, digested, the article, I still think that thinking of science per se as ‘post normal’ is a nonsense.

    However, ‘post normal’ considerations help understanding when a supposedly scientific discipline is hijacked by interest groups and becomes in the first instance, politically interesting, then politically driven. At that stage, everybody is allowed to have an opinion and their opinions are taken to be as good as mine or any other person who has the knowledge to understand pure science and abuse thereof. (I am a D. Phil. in quantum mechanics.)

    There are beautiful examples of this in Climategate where the Team, Mann in particular, refers to any contrary views as ‘crap’ (etc.). And indeed they are: if you accept that statistical standards are exemplified in the methods adopted by Mann, then you necessarily believe that the standards adopted by the community of trained and practising statisticians are ‘crap’. On the other hand, if you accept the views of pure statistics (if such a thing exists, but you get my drift) then you will believe that the climate change community accepts a standard of analysis that is dangerously misleading, viz., crap. They are mutually exclusive.

    As a trained scientist you will side with the community of practising statisticians over the Team, who view ststistics as merely a group of techniques for manipulating (torturing?) data until it yields the result they desire, thus violating the principles of statistical inference as the first of many statistical violations. And it is here that you have to draw the line and say that real science must prevail. Furthermore, you also have to say that the views of the man in the street are not as valid as the view guided by scientific principles.

    Then the problems arise. As a practising scientist your existence depends on grants and publications and you have a family and a mortgage. It is easiest to take the path of least resistence to both. AGW became such a path. Especially for the great majority of scientists who are not particularly gifted and who can easily be persuaded that AGW is real and leads to grants and publications. To keep the ball rolling, for this is a virtuous cause, you are quite happy for the politicisation to occur. The process of corruption begins and is about the only example of large positive feedback that can be proven in climate science. Hence ‘post normal’ science.

  25. UpNorthOutWest said

    Does anybody else hear crescendoing music in their head, like from the old 1940s black-and-white movies, when they say, “McIntyre, who worked in the mining industry.”

    Dah-Dah-Dahhhhhhhh!!!

  26. Mark T said

    In my line of work, if you torture the data to the point that it finally confesses, the missile has already hit the ship.

    Mark

  27. actually thoughtful said

    Thanks Carrick.

    If the warming is unprecedented that makes a better story. I can see that.

    But if the warming is man made it is therefore man-stoppable. That seems like the much more interesting question. Are we causing the warming? If so and it has even 10% of the negative repercussions presented (ie flooding, droughts, feedback, etc.) that seems actionable. If we are not causing the warming and it is all natural variability – we can choose a more relaxed or non-response.

    So is the warming man made? Again I appreciate some help in understanding what all the fuss is about.

  28. JLKrueger said

    actually thoughtful said
    February 10, 2010 at 2:15 am
    If the warming is unprecedented that makes a better story.

    The point Carrick made is that it isn’t unprecedented. The MWP was warmer, the RWP was warmer, and the Holocene Optimum was warmer…and life flourished. Each of these warm periods were followed by cooling. The “unprecedented” claim is false in the first place. Since these other periods were warmer without anthropogenic CO2, then there is no reason to assume that the current warm period is caused by anthropogenic CO2.

    So is the warming man made?

    No empirical evidence has been presented to show that the current warming is man made. However, there’s some dodgy statistics demonstrating that it’s Mann made.

  29. Mark T said

    Actually, Carrick’s point was if the hockey stick is baseless, then claims of precedence cannot be supported by the results of the hockey stick reconstruction alone (which is a true assertion). Given that the reconstructions are all that is available as evidence of long-term natural variability, they become quite important when claiming what is happening now has likely never happened before.

    Mark

  30. michel said

    This is an enormously interesting cultural document, and a classic of its kind. In which it joins some of Tamino’s more spectacular rants. When the history of this episode of mass hysteria is written, historians will have a long chapter on the way in which a simple hypothesis on the long term consequences of CO2 doubling somehow was turned into a litmus test of righteousness. The how and why this happened will repay investigation and analysis, and the whole episode will be invaluable as a case history for students of social irrationality in our species.

  31. Peter B said

    # 27

    “But if the warming is man made it is therefore man-stoppable. That seems like the much more interesting question. Are we causing the warming? If so and it has even 10% of the negative repercussions presented (ie flooding, droughts, feedback, etc.) that seems actionable. If we are not causing the warming and it is all natural variability – we can choose a more relaxed or non-response.

    So is the warming man made? Again I appreciate some help in understanding what all the fuss is about.”

    Well, it is “man-stoppable”, following the alarmists’ logic, if you re-shape the world’s economy by brutal force – as in, as the British parliament has decided, bringing CO2 emissions in 2050 to just 20% of their level of 1990 (or whatever the baseline year is – it makes little difference). Same as with the US version, cap-and-trade — people call it a “free-market” approach by emphasizing the “trade”, when the “cap” part already means a massive intervention in the economy. *That* is what the fuss is about, in the sense that probably not too many people here would care (certainly I wouldn’t) more about dendrochronology than about the mating habits of snails, if not for those implications.

    It’s very easy to say “let’s just decarbonize the economy in any case, without looking at the costs – both in terms of actual expenses, and in terms of massive increase of goverment control. *If* the worst-case scenarios were likely – the equivalent of spotting a huge asteroid on its way to hit the Earth – then it would make sense to say, we just have to do it no matter the cost and consequences. If it’s not so bad – or if it is, but it’s beyond our control – then we just have to take it as best as we can, but without doing expensive and unnecessary things that would cause more harm than good – that is, shooting ourselves in the food. The so-called “precautionary principle” makes little sense if the “precautions” cost a fortune.

    Besides – even if it is man-made – who says it’s stoppable? I want to see a good argument as to why China, India, Brazil, South Africa (and lots of other lower-profile countries) will ever change their position since Copenhagen. I bet whatever you want that they won’t.

    As for the original post – as many have said already, it’s not that difficult to understand the technical arguments, but it seems that many do find it difficult, or inconvenient.

  32. Espen said

    But if the warming is man made it is therefore man-stoppable. That seems like the much more interesting question. Are we causing the warming? If so and it has even 10% of the negative repercussions presented (ie flooding, droughts, feedback, etc.) that seems actionable. If we are not causing the warming and it is all natural variability – we can choose a more relaxed or non-response.

    I think one good point that could be made in favor of the AGW hypothesis is that we should really be in a downward trend now, because of earth axial tilt changes, i.e. that it isn’t “natural” to have temperatures in the Medieval Warm Period range right now. But then – why is this necessarily a problem? What if the warming actually saves us from near ice-age conditions? We know that CO2 is good for plants, what if the greenhouse warming it creates is just what we need? Maybe it isn’t even enough, that decreased axis tilt will still slowly bring us towards a colder earth – i.e. we should enjoy the nice climate while it lasts…

  33. Anna said

    Espen, when did the earth axial tilt change, i.e. from when should the temperatures be heading down? I wonder since the temperature has been rising since the little ice age.

    The thirties and forties were warm too, in some places as warm or warmer than now, even though there are global differences.

    Is it generally accepted that the GHGs released by humans probably didn’t affect the temperature on earth before the middle of the twentieth century?

  34. The Silence Is Settled said

    We know that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    Richard Littlemore shows us that stupidity confounds and that absolute stupidity confounds absolutely.

    This was very illuminating.

  35. EuroFooFighter said

    deSmogBlob . . . somewhere a digital village is missing its idiot.

  36. Dr. Robert said

    Thank you for posting this. Typical of alarmists: they insult without providing any facts.

    I try to be as objective as I can, and I can not see it as any other way than alarmists must be anti-intellectuals.

  37. BarryW said

    # 34
    Some one rephrased it asimmunity corrupts and absolute immunity corrupts absolutely. Which covers the clerk at the DMV who has little power but doesn’t have to worry if he does a crappy job because he’s a government worker who it’s almost impossible to fire. These researchers don’t have much actual power but thought they’re actions couldn’t have any consequences since they are tenured. Same is true of bloggers who can make these outrageous claims without consequences.

    Deep Climate and DeSlmog would seem to fit in the discussion at Lucia’s about LaRouche.

  38. michel said

    There is a real issue about whether lowering CO2 will cool the planet. Has falling CO2 ever preceded falling temps, and if so when?

    This is independent of the argument that raising it will raise temps. That could have happened, but it does not follow without proof that lowering it will lower them.

  39. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Jeff ID, I suppose you feel an obligation to post all sides of the AGW issue, but on this one a quick perusal reveals that nothing has been revealed. What is the point that we should take away from this? That there is no bound to the silliness of some of these defenders of the indefensible will go to defend. Or that had anyone come up with an analysis that did what was purported here it would a front page topic for the NYT and WasPost?

  40. GTFrank said

    The other point that always “sticks” with me, is the explanation that the bristlecones’ purported temperature response was not to the local temperature, but to the “Global” temperature through “teleconnection”. Did any Paleos or botanists ever comment or publish on this?

  41. actually thoughtful said

    Thanks to all who have responded. This is interesting.

    Peter B I pulled some of your quotes above. Your perspective seems to be it isn’t worth the expense of avoiding it vs the expense of dealing with it.

    So if it only a question of cost – that seems like a relatively easy thing to figure out. I’ve read a 1% hit on GDP to actually achieve the 80%-reduction-by-2050 (I am sorry I don’t have a source for that). Are there any studies that quantify the costs of starvation, wars, relocations, water shortages (all things I’ve read are the likely outcome of 3-5C warming this century).

    I think in some ways there are really two separate questions – is the warming man caused, and if it is, is it cheaper to avoid the mess or clean up the mess?

    I also think we should look VERY closely at what happened with the attempts to solve acid rain and close the ozone holes. I can’t thing of anything that is a closer parallel to the current AGW situation. I don’t recall any industry dying, but we still have a hole in the ozone layer – so I don’t honestly know – for some reason we don’t hear about those problems anymore.

  42. Espen said

    Anna, I’m not at all an expert on Milankovitch Cycles, but AFAIK the obliquity (axial tilt) was at its maximum as the most recent glaciation ended, and has been decreasing ever since. Kaufmann (2009) made a point out of that arctic temperature should be in a long term decreasing trend, but the paper was torn to pieces by Steve McIntyre for its hockey team methods (including up-side down proxies).

    (Yes, the thirties and forties were warm, and it seems like the current warming is similar to that warming, and some 60-70 year long cycles in the North Atlantic are involved)

  43. Charly said

    Not only is the article funny but the website as well. A few weeks ago they posted an article in which is said that Richard Lindzen was one of the main providers to the deniers industry. I posted a comment to tell them the choice of words was unfortunate has Lindzen parents had been in concentration camps. Obviously they did not post the comment but also wiped out my access code to their comment section. No big loss anyway.

  44. Peter B said

    #41

    For the record, I am a chemical engineer with a PhD and a couple decades’ experience in designing processes, including emission control (and yes I have worked for several oil companies so I was then in the pay of Big Oil). The comparison with acid rain and ozone holes is totally inadequate. The effort required to reduce CO2 emissions is orders of magnitude higher. It’s not about controlling chemical emissions – it’s about totally reshaping the economy. I don’t have figures regarding the % of GDP. But the only way I can think of for achieving anything like the 80% reduction in the near future, giving present levels of technology, would go to replace every single coal- or gas-powered power station with nuclear plants. Having achieved that, convert every single car, bus, train, etc to electric power – but moved by batteries charged by the nuclear grid, leaving fossil fuels only for airplanes and boats. Then, maybe, it’s possible to achieve the 80% reduction – I haven’t done calculations. That is a massive restructuring of everything that moves a country’s energy and transport. The notion that anything like that can be achieved with solar power or wind-turbines is absurd. Besides, as I mentioned it, the larger developing countries simply will unable to do it or will refuse to do it. No matter which way you look it, it won’t happen. The whole thing is lunacy no matter how you look at it. So if you’re worried about catastrophic AGW, be ready, because it will happen if the alarmists are right. Sort of introducing a worldwide Orwellian world dictatorship – which is what some people would actually welcome – nothing can be done. But some countries foolish enough to think the opposite may well damage their own economies in the attempt. That’s possible, since even supposedly civilized countries have sometimes almost destroyed themselves for no particular good reason, as during WWI.

  45. actually thoughtful said

    Mark T said:

    I can see some academic interest if we have ever been here before (especially in terms of will natural systems recover, ah, naturally).

    But it seems to me that past data is significantly different the the current situation – specifically adding tons and tons of CO2 and methane to the atmosphere every day. So can you explain why we should care whether this has happened before? It seems much more interesting to understand why it is happening, to understand if it is man caused and whether it can be stopped than to understand, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it has not been this hot now. For example, with the solar minimum and the La Nina we could expect 70s style cooling but instead we have had the “hottest decade on record.”

    It just seems like everyone is focused on the hockey stick, but in the best case it tells you very little about the issues at hand (obviously this is just my opinion).

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I’ve looked at this issue in the past, but only on sites like realclimate. I thought maybe I was in a bubble of true believers and honest objections were not getting through – thus my questions here.

    thanks,
    Tom

  46. actually thoughtful said

    Peter B wrote

    Besides, as I mentioned it, the larger developing countries simply will unable to do it or will refuse to do it. No matter which way you look it, it won’t happen. The whole thing is lunacy no matter how you look at it. So if you’re worried about catastrophic AGW, be ready, because it will happen if the alarmists are right.

    You write as if transportation were the only problem. I see part of your perspective is basically we can’t avoid it.

    But we switched from horse and buggy to automobile within 50 years. Every bit of transportation equipment now in use will be replaced once or twice in 50 years. I read an article in Scientific American that showed how you could switch over to electrical infrastructure with only wind, wave and solar. Huge number of installations.

    But back to my point – I believe it is 20% current electrical, 40% building conditioning and 40% transportation. We know how to provide 60% of that with net zero buildings (I am glossy over some major complexity, but it is all solvable with current technology). That leaves us with 40% (transportation).

    Maybe I am just an incurable optimist, but it seems to me we should start on buildings (easy, low hanging fruit) and give transportation another 10 years of R&D.

    I can imagine my house having solar thermal for heating, solar PV and wind for typical electricity and extra electricity for an electric car with a 100-200 mile range. (I have solar heating already). So in my microcosm I would have solved all three problems with zero carbon emissions and no nukes. And I imagine my lifestyle would be notably less expensive (all-in) than my neighbor who chooses to remain with the current (1900s) system.

    BTW – I have no problem with nuclear energy. I strongly suspect that will be part of the mix.

    So if I can do it (and I am a perfectly random sample of…well…myself) I fail to see why that is not generalizable. I suspect transporting goods via trucks and highways would not survive unless we do some AMAZING things with batteries. But more trains might be a major part of the solution. I certainly agree transportation is the tougher nut to crack right now (although I do not agree that we can’t do it with current (within 5 year) technology.

    Tom

  47. Peter B said

    #46

    The transition from horses to cars was both (1) voluntary and market-driven and (2) happened, at first, only in the richest countries (how many people do you think drive or even ride cars, even now, in China and India? Your view is a bit too rich-world-centric, I’m afraid). It did not happen because someone decided that the world had to do it. Likewise, if you have the money and the inclination to convert your energy sources to wind or whatever, it’s your decision, your money, and your problem. But there’s no way the whole world, including the very energy-hungry (but with a populatiton that is still, to a very large extent, appallingly poor) China and India, and Brazil, South Africa, etc, will be able or willingly to do so. After you’ve changed your own lifestyle and energy sources according to your own inclination and means, I suggest you try to persuade people who work long hours, in poorly paid jobs and to barely get by, to do the same. They won’t do it – unless you either (1) force them or (2) bribe them. That’s the situation with the countries I mentioned. If you think anyone can force them (or bribe them enough), I think you’re gravely mistaken. Anyway, this is rather pointless: let’s see what happenes in the next 10 and 20 years. I would make any bet to the effect that worldwide CO2 emissions will continue to rise.

  48. […] destroys a universities credibility, Adjusting the temperature record – the Australian way, Wishful thinking, Looking at the […]

  49. Ron said

    Tom, do you know of any studies that relate to the question of whether or not the alternative energy sources you refer to (solar, wind, etc,) are capable of producing enough energy to create, replicate or increase themselves independently of traditional sources? Related, but with an additional variable, can they ever become self sufficient, i.e. capable of producing surplus energy without relying on a reduction in demand. Put another way, if system A can produce energy at a 50% efficiency rate should its output be directed to produce system B which is 5% efficient, and what sorts of reasons, other than a moral claim, would justify this? Thanks for your thoughts here.
    Ron.

  50. actually thoughtful said

    Tom, do you know of any studies that relate to the question of whether or not the alternative energy sources you refer to (solar, wind, etc,) are capable of producing enough energy to create, replicate or increase themselves independently of traditional sources? Related, but with an additional variable, can they ever become self sufficient, i.e. capable of producing surplus energy without relying on a reduction in demand. Put another way, if system A can produce energy at a 50% efficiency rate should its output be directed to produce system B which is 5% efficient, and what sorts of reasons, other than a moral claim, would justify this? Thanks for your thoughts here.

    Ron – I am not sure I am following you. I know that a generic solar thermal system takes < 2 years to produce enough energy to equal the energy it took to produce the system (something I researched once and did not track my links – if this is what you are asking about – I could talk myself into researching it again).

    I know too that there is some discussion on peak oil sites about the total amount of easy energy available and given that it is limited, what we should do with that energy (ie use it to build renewable energy harvesting systems). I accept that fossil fuels are a limited commodity. I accept that 2008 energy prices were not a market manipulation but a result economic principle of relative scarcity.

    But I am struggling with whether those limitations will be a meaningful limit on human endeavors. If it is a "within 50 year" problem – it makes sense to be working on it now. If is a "within the century" problem – I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. The pace of technological advancement seems to be increasing (or is that just Apple product release dates…)

    Ron I think I know where you are going – that fossil fuels are so much more efficient than renewables. I don't know that to be true (in fact my research tells me the opposite is true). Liquid fuels (hyrdocarbons) are excellent portable fuels, so you could say it is "efficient" at being a portable fuel. But "efficiency" in the sense of how much of the available energy is converted is TERRIBLE for almost all fossil fuels (thinking here of how much of the available energy in a fuel ends up being available as electricity).

    Solar thermal for heat is the gold standard to my knowledge (75+% in an ideal real world situation, and 60%+ in standard real world applications).

    And even that is something you can play games with. If you are talking about combustion efficieny, we have gas burning appliances that achieve 96%+ (I have even seen a few 99% claims) of the stored energy in the fuel. Now rephrase that as how much energy per unit of fossil fuel. So we get 96% per unit of fossil fuel (in this case a therm of gas or a gallon of propane).

    So solar is converting 60% of the energy in that square foot to heat. But you are getting 1800% return per unit of fossil fuel (pump energy to move a fluid into position to harvest the sunshine). This is the trick (oooh I love to say trick these days!) that Geothermal heat pump folks use to claim 400% efficiency.

    Am I anywhere near to answering your questions? If not please restate it and let me take another crack at it.

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