Bookends and Separations

Guest Post by Thomas Fuller

Once again Jeff has handed over both gavel and podium for a guest post from a Lukewarmer–guess he’s trying to keep you all on your toes…

I want to talk about the brief period that will be known going forward as the Global Warming scare, and the inevitable atomization of the efforts on both sides following its closure.

Probably all of you who have followed this issue have your own starting date for this period of heightened interest in climate change and global warming–for many it would begin with Hansen’s testimony before the Senate in 1988, while for others it might go back to Margaret Thatcher’s need to face down the coal miners’ unions back in the 80s. For me, however, it begins with Phil Jones’ 4-page article in Nature about UHI.

This short paper, cited almost maniacally by thousands of other papers since its publication in 1990, served several important functions. First, it showed that climate had become political. Written in response to those claiming that the urban heat island effect had contaminated the temperature record, Jones’ paper was an attempt to squash disagreement.

Second, it showed that science was not as important as the politics. The stations Jones used for his paper did not have the stable histories he claimed for them. (He probably didn’t know this at the time of publication–but he found out very quickly and refused to issue a correction.) Fighting the critics meant that the flaws in the science needed to be hidden.

Third, like almost everything that has happened in the debate since then, Jones’ paper triggered a chain of unintended consequences that led in a manner suitable for a Greek tragedy straight to Jones’ own request to colleagues to delete emails, and was part of an enabling sequence that contributed to Mann’s decisions regarding the Hockey Stick and even, 20 years later, to Peter Gleick’s astonishing theft and fabrication of the Heartland Institute’s documents and strategy.

Everything that the climate consensus team has done in the past 20 years has contained elements of the same fundamental errors in thinking and strategy–from GreenPeace telling us they knew where we lived to No Pressure videos blowing up school children. There are thousands of examples that could be brought forth to show that their strategy had no human heart and no mechanism for enlisting participation–their goal was forcing opponents into silent submission instead. This 20-year war was fought at a soulless, corporate level, with campaigns designed and implemented by the media masters and mistresses of large environmental NGOs and it showed. From fighting World Bank loans for a South African coal plant to wilder statements of how few people the planet could sustainably carry, these people showed an appalling lack of humanity and an amazing excess of energy.

For me, the campaign ends with Peter Gleick. His actions were the signature at the end of the book. Coming as they did after Climategate, after Copenhagen, after five years (at least) of meditating on how to more effectively communicate on the issue, Gleick’s actions–and the lack of condemnation they received from the climate community–effectively removed anthropogenic climate change from the top tier of political issues to be considered at a global, or even national, level. Peter Gleick is still president of the Pacific Institute and will be speaking soon at Oxford. There is evidently no level of misconduct that will not be tolerated as long as the miscreant stays on message.

But people have pretty much stopped listening. They’ve even stopped writing. Joe Romm has folded his Climate Progress blog into the rubric of Think Progress’ larger efforts and now interns do much of his writing for him. Deltoid is down to one post a month, and it’s an open thread. Michael Tobis has fled Only In It For The Gold and is now writing at Planet 3–and complaining about a lack of traffic.

In a Republican primary with nine initial contestants, the amount of conversation about climate change was effectively zero. Over on the other side of the aisle, President Obama has almost abandoned the issue. The IPCC’s upcoming AR5 is, by all appearances,going to be much more subdued in its claims and much more reasonable as a result.

And what many of us, myself included, are doing now is exploring different facets of closely related issues, trying to get a handle on the many subjects briefly illuminated during the climate change debate and then discarded as it became clear they didn’t advance a political agenda. For me, the subject is energy consumption. Over at my place of business ( I am looking at the very real possibility that respectable and highly trusted agencies have significantly underestimated energy consumption going forward. It’s just something that fascinates me–and which I’m happy to work on at my own pace regardless of blog traffic or commentary. My co-author on the Climategate book, Steve Mosher, is similarly involved in looking at complete temperature data sets. Jeff Id, our host here,is finally getting sea ice in order for public exhibition.

And this is the way it should be.

It’s the way it should be because climate change will return as an issue. Especially in America, where we love a second act to every story, anthropogenic climate change will return. Temperatures have plateaued at a high level and may even dip during this decade due to the muting effect of several natural cycles. But those cycles will end. And a new generation of scientists is readying itself to take up the argument again, untainted by the past disasters and mistakes of those currently sagging against the ropes.

The next generation of discussion may be calmer and more grounded in facts–looking at all the things humans do to influence climate and not just the CO2 we emit. It may not.

But it has become clear to people like Jeff Id, Steve Mosher, myself and others that Round 2 of the Great Game will need to be more heavily grounded in specific areas than was Round 1.

So here’s hoping

68 thoughts on “Bookends and Separations

  1. Peter Gleick’s signature at the end of the book helped me fit together events at the April 1956 AGU and the April 1976 AGU National Meetings in Washington, DC to complete the 66.67 year saga of Climategate, from the time of Hiroshima bombing on 6 Aug 1945 to today:

    Post-1945 official responses to E = mc^2, reality:

    1946: Solar interior changed from iron Fe to hydrogen (H)
    1956: Information on “nuclear fires” on Earth was blocked
    1967: The Bilderberg standard solar model is formulated
    1975: Discovery of local element synthesis in Sun hidden
    1977: The scientist that reported the pulsar Sun vanished
    1983: New evidence of iron(Fe)-rich solar interior ignored
    1993: Possibility of nuclear reactor in Earth’s core ignored
    1995: NASA hides Jupiter data confirming 1983 discovery
    2001: NASA/DOE/NAS ignore neutron repulsion discovery
    2001: 178 SNO scientists report solar neutrino oscillations
    2008: Nature misassigns credit for 1993 proposal to others
    2009: Climategate emails and documents reveal deception
    2012: Dr. Peter Gleick’s actions revives memories of 1956

    More details:

    Pre-Climategate warning:

    1. Updates and references:

      1945: Hiroshima vanishes because E = mc^2: Aug 6, 1945
      1945: United Nations Charter is ratified: October 24, 1945

      1986: Challenger disaster* delays planned flight to Jupiter
      1989: Fleishmann and Pons report cold fusiondiscovery

      1998: NASA releases data showing iron-rich solar interior**
      2012: 50*** NASA astronauts, scientists & engineers object

      *CNN video of 1986 Challenger disaster that delayed flight of the probe to Jupiter.

      **1998 data from Jupiter disproved Sir Fred Hoyle’s and Sir Arthur Eddington’s 1946 conclusion of hydrogen-rich solar interior [See Fred Hoyle, “Home Is Where the Wind Blows,” University Science Books, 1994, pp. 153-154].

      ***#50 is Herman Alexander Pope, NASA Aerospace Engineer, 44 years experience

      1. After 66.67 years of misinformation on the source of energy that creates and destroys chemical elements and sustains our lives, . . .

        We will probably need a “Truth and Reconcillation”-type commission to restore integrity to science, rights of citizens and citizen control over government, without reviving racism, threat of nuclear war, and/or retaliation for deception.

        We must avoid violence. The present situation is unstable and could explode violently to the disservice of all.

        Background details are here:

  2. Tom,

    It is an interesting perspective of a won game, except that the money continues to flow unabated. In fact, not one dollar has been reduced to my knowledge and the dollar provides the impetus for the corruption. If climate change cannot garner new dollars, yet has lost none of the past money, the multi-billion dollar industry will fester on and new equally crazy events will continue.

    I don’t feel much progress toward reality, although I am glad that some do. I am really unhappy with the BEST work. Their UHI work is as much a brush-over as I have seen, the confidence intervals are mathematically false, the algorithm is convoluted but the data quantity and access are improved. I prefer the CRU algorithm – because it is understandable without the hours I’ve spent reading BEST.

    Certainly, we will all end up at a compromise point, however, I really hope that compromise doesn’t include massive mitigation as an answer to a problem which doesn’t appear to come close to the stated IPCC magnitude.

  3. What a great commentary and summary of the disappointments, betrayals and remaining hopes in the climates wars. It reminds me to be optimistic in general for the possibility that all of the great social movements of the sixties and seventies which were founded on the principles of love and common sense may yet be put back on course and no longer steered by world views seemingly rooted in ill-logic and hatred.

    Thank you.

  4. “Boys pull the wings off flies for fun, but the flies die for real”. Some things can’t be fixed. So many people have already had their lives altered for the worse or even ruined. In a little town near me, a nice lady is crying because she is going to lose the property they have farmed for several generations, to adjacent wind plants on all sides. This is happening everywhere here.

    Here in Oz the political mood is uglier than I have ever seen it. They are imposing a carbon tax on us, when they said they wouldn’t. Economic indicators are starting to slide. Free speech is under attack by the embattled government, and the minority government members feel free to verbally attack the electorate, rich people, outspoken radio announcers, crusading journalists, and everyone who isn’t ‘one of them’. Our scientists, doctors, lawyers and public servants are lying to us shamelessly, for our own good. The national anger may mean the end of the nation’s oldest political party in the next election, whenever that is. Conservatives are licking their lips and planning to axe everything containing the words ‘green’, ‘climate’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘carbon’, and I hope they will, even if they go too far and cut to the bone.

    There must have been something fundamentally wrong from the outset, to bear such bitter fruit. The wrongness was in the toxicity of ego, as well as incorrect views about human nature, society, and aspiration. As a friend said, “the Climategaters wanted to be heroes, instead of scientists”. As someone else said, “intellectuals are always happy to take hold of the whip”. I don’t know that there is anything we will wish to salvage or return to when we finally extract ourselves from this dark episode.

  5. Thomas, good post.

    I fear that they’ve quit pushing because they got the ball rolling. We now frequently find various weather events ascribed to the workings of Climate Change, Global Warming, etc. And if the weather person isn’t good enough to point out the connection, the anchor will so inquire. It is interesting to see that sometimes the weather people resist and frustrate the anchors.

    I’m not particularly comforted that surveys sometimes show a loss of belief in the scare. The seed is planted and the public misinterpretation of some major weather event could relaunch it.

    And as Jeff points out, there has been no reduction in the gravy drain.

  6. I think what we’re seeing is the demise of pathological science as described by Irving Langmuir. At its peak the believers and non-believers are split about 50-50. The ratio then starts to tilt against the believers but it takes a long time to reduce their numbers. It’s going to take quite a while with all the money going to the AGW crowd. Until that diminishes significantly there’s going to be plenty of pigs at the trough. At least at this point there’s lots of more important things on peoples’ minds.

  7. Tom,

    I enjoyed your post. I agree that as a political issue, Climate change is, if not dead, at least moribund. But I am not sangine about what will happen when (not if) it returns to the policy foreground. Politicians like Mr. Obama have much bigger concerns right now (like getting re-elected), but I have seen zero indication that those with an inclination to restrict energy usage (Mr. Obama clearly among them) will ever reconsider their commitment to that goal. There is a need to have a honest discussion about how to best increase energy production in the future, and climate scientists should be part of that discussion. But so long as climate science is led and dominated by neo-Malthusians who insist on vast reductions in human population and those who believe all human influence on the Earth is “immoral”, there is no hope for the level of mutual trust and respect that a reasoned discussion demands. It is hard to have confidnece in someone who holds you to be profoundly immoral, and says so without reservation. These rather extreme philosophical/moral views are not subject to compromise (much like the uncompromising POV’s on Row V Wade); many climate scientists consider drastic reduction in energy use the kind of moral imperative which ends up justifing escapades like Peter Gleick’s. (I note that few in climate science publically denounced Gleick… Gavin Schmidt and a few others, to their credit, did).

    A new generation of climate scientists will, at least initially, not be compromised by the sins of the current ‘leaders’ in the field. Whether that new generation can bring itself to not put those who hold the most extreme political/philosophical views in leadership positions remains to be seen. When I see climate scientists testifying before Congress about the urgent need for development of inexpensive, safe, and rapidly approved nuclear power plants, and publicly protesting delays in nuclear plant approvals (instead of coal production), I will believe climate science has matured as a field. I’m not going to hold my breath.

  8. “It’s the way it should be because climate change will return as an issue. Especially in America, where we love a second act to every story, anthropogenic climate change will return. Temperatures have plateaued at a high level and may even dip during this decade due to the muting effect of several natural cycles. But those cycles will end. And a new generation of scientists is readying itself to take up the argument again, untainted by the past disasters and mistakes of those currently sagging against the ropes.”

    It is discussions such as this one where the science and politics must always be separated – even when the number of scientist/advocates involved might make that filtering difficult. Take, for example, Michael Mann, who is certainly not a great scientist by any measure of one but is at the center of much of the AGW controversy and he is there by way of those who see his work through their political views of AGW policy. His work viewed outside the political and advocacy arena would be considered, at least in my view, an admirable attempt at doing something like reconstructing historical temperatures but one that to date cannot be considered a success and has been shown to have a number of fundamental weaknesses and outright mistakes. Mann’s reaction to his own work and criticism of it is of minor importance to science. What is important is what comes out of it that can be used to build better reconstructions – or to determine the ultimate limitations of what reconstructions can tell us with reasonable confidence about past temperatures. Quite frankly I currently do not see much building going on. On the other side of that issue, I do not see any work being done where the criteria for selection of temperature proxies was done a prior and using reasonable and physically related rules. The divergence problem for both dendro and non dendro proxies has been talked about but largely ignored with respect to any basic works.

    The political issues are quite different and do not, unfortunately, stand on fundamental and thoroughly analyzed work of climate science – be they those doing reconstructions or climate modeling or those attempting to determine the effects, both detrimental and beneficial, of future warming/cooling. All it would take to get that political ball rolling would be some climate related disasters that could be pointed to by the advocate and/or politician as a need for government to get involved in a big and immediate way. Politicians have been able to persuade the voting public of involvement in wasteful wars and large social programs based on their ability to create a crisis and a crisis that can be either real or invented.

  9. Yikes, ‘heavily grounded in specific areas’. Prospects poor for ungrounded generalists. Ah, energy, where every prospect glitters, and only man is vile.

  10. As always, it is a difficult tightrope that Tom tries to walk. Arguing that global warming is real, but the alarmist advocates who did the science are corrupt scientists and flawed communicators. Tom predicts that temperatures will resume warming and the debate will resume. I don’t think the debate has ever stopped. And I don’t think that there is much of anything that can happen over the next few years to stop it. Regardless of what the climate actually does or what the data is manipulated to show, the alarmist demand for money and power will not stop. This shouldn’t be surprising — when the case is unfalsifiable and the money is flowing, why would we expect anyone to stop raking it in or advocating for more. It’s all about the politics. And when the cause is the best hope of socialists the world over seeking the demise of capitalism, it is sheer folly to think that watermelons will meekly retire from the field. It is their religion and their reason for being. Surrender isn’t an option.

    A quick look at American politics recently should be all one needs to dispel the myth that the alarmists will retreat. The overwhelming evidence has been in for over 30 years that blacks and women are not discriminated against when it comes to pay. In fact, the vast majority of left-wing talking points are bogus and have been known to be bogus. Ben Wattenberg, a Democrat who was a White House aide to LBJ wrote about it in the early 80s, “The Good News is, the Bad News is wrong.” But reality is irrelevant. It hasn’t mattered for decades. The special interest groups have their Bad News talking points and their fearmongering fundraising appeals, the news media will parrot everything they say, and nothing ever changes. Remember the bogus Alar scare ginned up by the same PR firm that hosts Realclimate? They were never the least bit apologetic for the extensive damage they did to they apple industry and so many people’s lives. Why? It worked! Their client, an environmental non-profit organization, raked in huge amounts of cash. Beating the bad news drum raises the big bucks.

    This political dynamic is most especially true when it comes to the environment. The air and water will never be perfectly clean. And the enviro wackos will never stop demanding more and more action to shut down the economy. No matter how many of their claims are refuted, they never stop. They are like zombies that will never die.

    The US govt could pay for the attempted replication of every climate study ever done and a thorough analysis of every database and climate model. Even if an august panel of the world’s best scientists, statisticians, and economists were to determine that everything global warming is based upon was a total fraud, the movement would not die. New environmental claims would arise the next day and appeals would be made to save the planet. There is no escape from it. There is an environmental religion that holds that man’s actions are spoiling the pristine earth. That religion has a strong, basic appeal to left-wingers. It won’t change. period.

    1. Amen Stan. The lefties castigate religion, because it weakens their political control. They invent their own religion, CAGW, act like priests rather than scientists, i.e. the west has sinned and must repent, and when the congregations shrink they decry the devil, and are so stunned when history repeats itself.

    2. Re: stanPeter (Apr 13 17:32),
      There’s also a rationalization-justification thing going on. Having so callously ruined so many people, the leftists must carry on carrying on, or immediately expose themselves to themselves and all others. It will be a Frosty Friday in Fireland when that happens.

  11. Enjoyable read Tom. Some points I think are noteworthy are that here in Australia it may be the consensus blogs with little traffic (eg Deltoid) but the sceptical blogs are groaning under the weight. This will continue at least until the current government is turfed out and the carbon tax repealed. A second point is the GDP-energy link is pretty robust, and the only slight exceptions prove the rule. So future energy policy should work with this empirical relationship, not against it (which is what the consensus people have been trying to do, unsuccessfully).

  12. Tom,

    Sorry, but you’re politically oblivious if you think the Politically Correct Progressives (PC-Progs) have thrown in the towel on destroying our economy under the cover of mitigating Mann-made Global Warming.

    Yes, the Democrats do not talk about it any more. That’s not because they’ve conceded. It’s because they realized that Americans are against destroying our economy. So, instead now the Democrats do not discuss their true goals in public. They still have the same insane plans to “de-carbonize” our economy. They just don’t talk about it where others can hear.

    Yes, any and all Congressional votes in support of global warming intiatives fail. But that doesn’t mean that the Greenies have learned their lessons and given up. No, instead of laws, they issue regulations from their wholly-owned governmental regulatory agencies–the EPA, etc.

    As Obama himself said recently: If the Congressional Republicans block my initiatives, I’ll just have to govern by Executive Order.

    The rational discussion/debate/argument may be over. Normal-Americans may all agree that we passed through a silly phase of over-reaction, Henny-Penny-the-sky-is-falling pseudo-scientific insanity. But normal-Americans do not understand the operational slipperiness of PC-Progs.

    The cancer must be cut out from its roots.

    It ain’t over yet.

  13. Aruncus

    As an immigrant but not without a fair bit of historical knowledge about my adopted country, I’ve wandered why the situation here has become so divisive. I put it down to the confluence of at least 3 factors. The first is obviously “There will be no carbon tax” by both Gillard and Swan in such a blatant and non apologetic manner.

    The second is I think a more profound moral perspective in that selective elites were/are imposing an effective theological tax on society. If you dont believe in CAGW than what else do you think the tax is ? In times past it would have been the equivalent of another papal bull exonerating some papal transgression and leading to a Martin Luther hammering his statement on the church door. And that seems to be what has happened but in a modern democratic country that has not had to deal with a theological imposition of this sort before and so accustomed to the democratic process, the electorate will seethe in silence until the next election. In the meantime the supporters of CAGW will scream and hyperventilate about any deterioration in Australia’s comittment to reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and find any cause celebre (such as the venom directed to CSG) that reduces their moral, philospophical and financial credibility.

    The remaining strand is the collapse of old media where in prior times some measure of financial comfort and professional restraint led to a measure of objective reporting against the current environment of desperately trying to find something or make something controversial in the hope of capturing the rapidly diminishing reader base. In that context the failure of new organisations like Fairfax or the ABC to report on science in a scientific manner will long mark those reporters and those organisations.

  14. @ Kent Clizbe

    I fully agree, it ain’t over yet !

    Almost every major field of science has been corrupted to try to unite nations and save mankind from the “nuclear fire” that consumed Hiroshima on 6 Aug 1945.

    More importantly, lock-step, politically-correct thinking has replaced our once unalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    The challenge is this: Can we restore integrity to science, rights to citizens and citizen control of government, without

    1. Reviving racism, the threat of nuclear warfare, retaliation for past deception, or
    2. Physical violence?

    The formerly democratic process of selecting presidential candidates seems incapable of providing the leadership needed to lead us out of this morass.

    – Oliver

  15. The 1970s eco-fad (centered on population and pollution) ended because of economic recession; a post-1980 realisation that resources were not as limited as the Club of Rome and others had claimed; the reality of the demographic transition and increasing reduction of pollution,and a return to economic prosperity as the primary goal of politics (Reagan, Thatcher).

    Perhaps the latest alarmism (centred on climate and oceans) will fail for the same type of reasons (economic recession; a realisation that climate is not as vulnerable to man-made influences as some have claimed; the reality of natural climate variation, and a return to economic prosperity as the primary goal…..).

    In which case faddish alarmism is due back in the 2040s, by which time I shall be dead or too old to care much….

    Cycles, always cycles. Although it’s not clear yet that we’ve sen the endgame of this wave of alarmism…

  16. The blogosphere was always just another niche audience that they tried and failed much like their attempts at talk radio and cable. What is their loss? Not much, when they have ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, NPR, NYT Hollywood etc, etc. Even Fox pays little attention to what matters most to us. They have control of public and higher education and all forms of scientific funding and publication. Above all, the mentality or lack thereof, that drives socialism and elected a Chicago machine politico to further their agenda thrives unabated.
    Meanwhile Tom, while I admire your interest in energy, please remember that our success is deeply wedded to it. What is detrimental to energy production is detrimental to humans.

  17. Thanks Tom-great article on the bigger picture. Energy is the key.

    Arancus and Little P-
    thanks for the picture of Oz. It is interesting following the happenings in your country as it seemed we were headed the “green” way as well, and may yet be.

  18. From a semantic point of view, I think “climate change” is dead because it’s a misnomer– a deliberately misleading, misused term. Climate always changes. I think the term was adopted by the alarmists because it allowed the alarmists to suggest that any extreme weather event or trend could be blamed on human activity, even if there was no proof of a connection.

    Similarly, the conversion from the formerly prevalent “global warming” to the use of the deliberately vague term “climate change” was a signal that unprecedented “global warming” was a less than convincing term and certainly had not been verified as scientific fact. (Propagandists are always updating their language when it becomes unconvincing.) While there will always be a vigorous argument over how much human activity influences climate, the idea that the influence will be catastrophic and that it can be charted seems far-fetched these days.

    The decline in efficacy of both terms due to weak science and the disreputable behavior of a few powerful scientists should, as Tom Fuller suggests, eventually produce a calmer, more fact-based debate. The extremists who built the gravy train and then rode it as far as it would go, will fade away into, if not ignominy, then irrelevance.

    I hope the result will be an honest debate on how much human activity influences climate and what steps should be taken to mitigate it if it is discovered to be significant. We know we disrupt ecosystems and foul the air on a local level, but it always seemed implausible to me that a doubling of a trace gas in the atmosphere would radically alter the entire climate of the globe or damage it irreparably. I may be wrong about that, but I know that the conduct of scientists pushing CAGW theory has often been reprehensible and that a new generation of scientists needs to search out the truth no matter where it leads them.

  19. I found the start-point of Phil Jones’s 1990 paper provided a particularly helpful frame for a complex story Tom. Very good on the past and the present of nobody listening, not so sure on the future. As others have said, there sure is a lot of money still sloshing around the discredited machine. We need to form broad alliances to stop the worst culprits, one by one – like biofuel subsidies. But a superb view from the trenches, thank you.

  20. anthropogenic climate change will return. Temperatures have plateaued at a high level and may even dip during this decade due to the muting effect of several natural cycles.

    Physically, either it is warming or it is cooling. It is a physical nonsense to claim warming is masked by natural cooling. Ask any physicist.

    1. Physically, the climate is dictated by the sum of all forcings at any given time, plus all their associated feedbacks, positive and negative. One forcing can be toward warmer, and one toward cooler. If they are equal, there will be no net warming or cooling.

        1. Are you disagreeing with what I wrote, or think it is unsound from a physics perspective, or just attempting to launch a quick ad hom?

          1. I would disagree in that I can’t see how it is in the Slightest possible, that there could ever be equilibrium. Especially with major climate drivers like the sun itself, cycling up and down.

            I guess I disagree with both of you, as I don’t see anthropgenic climate change as even being close to significant, nor will it ever be.

  21. Tom

    Good post as always. The Uk Govt -the only one with a legally enforceable climate change act- ploughs on regardless, although much of the public has lost its green appetite now they see the cost of the meal and realise it is served up for mostly illusory reasons. Our energy policy just defies belief in its naivety, cost and ineffectiveness (petrol at 11$ a gallon) and the troubles stored up over the last ten years will surely come home to roost in the next five.

    I see no signs of greater circumspection by the IPCC after reading the draft of AR5. It was fiull of conjecture and assumptions as well as good science, so we will have to see which gains the upper hand in Ar5 itself.

    Our future depends on cheap reliable energy, but that isn’t how its looking from this side of the pond.

    1. Tony said:

      “Our future depends on cheap reliable energy.”

      Probably what you meant was: “Maintaining our current lifestyle depends on cheap, reliable energy.” For certainly, we all could reduce our energy consumption greatly and live just fine. What may go away, or be altered dramatically in the future is suburbia, which exists only because there is cheap reliable energy in the form of gasoline. In other words, from a history perspective, suburbia was all about the private automobile and cheap gasoline. As these go away, or become increasingly expensive to operate, suburbia will either change greatly or wilt away. Most American suburbs don’t have the mass transit that is found around places like London.

      1. R Gates paraphrased me and said;

        ‘Maintaining our current lifestyle depends on cheap, reliable energy.”

        Western economies were built on cheap reliable energy which has enabled us to achieve our current lifestyles that others want to emulate. Whilst that doesn’t mean we shouldnt use less (and I’m looking at you here R Gates) it still means it will need to be cheap and reliable. With Petrol at 11$ dollars a gallon and other energy costs escalating, we here in Britain are finding it really tough, so even after reducing our energy consumption we are not doing ‘just fine.’


        1. Tony,

          Sorry to hear things are tough there, really. I think much better times are coming. I have faith in human inventiveness. The fossil fuel age is a dead end sooner or later. There are alternatives, and they are getting better everyday. Between much more efficient solar, thermal, nuclear, wind, and eventually fusion, we’ll have plenty of energy. It’s just the transition to getting there that, as you chaps say…will be a bit sticky.

          1. R Gates

            We are very fortunate that we had a mild winter after three cold ones in a row otherwise I dread to think what our heating bills would be. You can also imagine the knock on effect of fuel at $11 a gallon-it affects everything.

            The alternatives for the UK would be wave/tidal power as no part of Briatin is further than 70 miles from the coast. My own house is 200 yards away and the energy wasted everyday is sad. However Our govt has been seduced by Big wind in their race to bankrupt the country.Sorry, I meant in their race to reduce carbon emissions by 80% in order to reduce temperatures by….Well I know the answer because I wrote an article on it and asked Top climate scientists around the world what they believed it to be.

            Care to make a caculation? Then you will see why we are fed up with being green guinea pigs for the world and can’t really wait long enough for the promised jam tomorrow, as by then we will all be poverty stricken or frozen to death in our unheated homes,..
            All the best and look forward to your calculations.

  22. The warmists are uncapable of listening to reason, thats why they’re warmists.
    The cult of gobal warming will only die beacause of the coming mini-iceage.

  23. The future of the climate change debate and the global community’s response will be heavily dictated the actual climate (experienced as weather). Skeptics are of course resistant to wanting to pin any specific event on “global warming”, but as Trenberth has accurately pointed out, that looks at the issue from a wrong perspective. Humans have altered the entire context of the environment in which weather occurs. It is all Anthropocene weather now. When enough people in enough counties experience enough of the increasingly extreme weather conditions of the Anthropocene, whether it be heat waves or floods or droughts, the political pressure to do something about it will overwhelm any sort money that groups like the Koch Bros. can spend trying to buy the political influence they need to maintain their carbon based empire. Nature will be her own proof in the end, and certainly those who know the potential long-term seriousness of the rapid changes humans have made to the oceans and atmosphere will find no joy in seeing that proof unfold.

    1. “those who know the potential long-term seriousness of the rapid changes humans have made to the oceans and atmosphere”

      And who might those be, R. Gates? Your true believer-ism is clearly shining through your facade of scientific objectivity. The present amount of accumulated AGW and the sensitivity of global temperature to variation in CO2 concentration are still not settled science and yet you assert that there exist anointed ones who have arcane knowledge of how regional climates will change in a chaotic system with simple changes in forcing. And are we surprised, all possible climate changes are sure to be ‘serious” and deleterious.

  24. It’s way to early to be discussing ‘a war won’ in any sense. More importantly, Rio+20 happens in June. I doubt any of the pro-CAGW attendees will be thinking the’ve ‘lost’ anything – far from it. Agenda 21 is looking healthier than ever (I haven’t heard anyone in the UN calling for it’s abolition) and here comes the next tranche of legislation; there goes the next tranche of taxpayer-funding. The war is not won, not even close.

  25. “The next generation of discussion may be calmer and more grounded in facts–looking at all the things humans do to influence climate and not just the CO2 we emit.”

    Let’s hope it does. I coined a phrase over at WUWT: HIVES…. Human Influenced Variations of Ecological Systems. It seems to me that this is what needs to be studied and accurately cataloged. If it includes CO2 so be it, but only if it is backed by empirical evidence. Humans certainly cause changes in our environment that are out of sync with natural variations, we just need to be accurate in what those changes are and how much they will affect us, for better or worse.

  26. RGates, you never responded at Roy Spencer’s site about how you know the planet is warming. You say the climate will dictate the reality. So if for example Tom Fuller wins his bet with Joe Romm, and the current decade is about the same temperature as the last one, would that cause you to change your mind?

    1. MIke,

      I’ve actually tried several times to reply at Roy Spencer’s site but seem to be unable. Maybe I’ve pissed him off. Anyway, First, you ask how I know the planet is warming. Let’s be clear about what we mean by “the planet”, and also, be clear about the time frame we are talking about.

      By the planet I’m referring to just that– the whole planet as an energy system. I am not looking at just the atmosphere, or just the ocean, but the whole system. Certainly the biggest energy reservoir in the system is the ocean, and also the one least likely to be influenced by short-term noise. Even with the changes in the way we’ve measured ocean heat content, with the more reliable current generation of ARGO floats, it is pretty darn clear that the ocean has been gaining heat consistently for many decades when measured at the greatest depth we consistently measure of 2000m, and especially at the 1500m level, the data shows consisent energy being added. So, from the perspective of the largest reservoir of energy on earth, the earth is warming and has been for at least 40 years or more. But looking at the atmosphere, we see that this past decade was the warmest on instrument record, with 9 of the 10 years on record occurring in the past decade. Only 1998 stands out separate from this group. But the atmosphere is much more subject to natural variation, and so will exhibit more short-term noise, mainly from ENSO, solar, and volcanic influences. In filtering these out, such as Foster & Rahmstorf and others have done we see a consistent underlying warming. So yes, I am very confident the planet is warming, or, in energy balance terms, gaining more net energy than it is returning to space.

      I believe that it will take increasing disruption in people’s lives, all over the world to really tip the political momentum, especially in the U.S., to take serious and significant action. Especially when there may be financial and other sorts of lifestyle sacrifices to be made, it is human nature not to want to change unless absolutely necessary. I know this is true for me. I certainly have concerns about uncessary taxation or other financial threats to my own family from dealing with anthropogenic effects on the climate. It would be nice if we could just go on buring all the fossil fuels we wanted, forever.

      On the political scene, this past decade’s solar, ENSO, PDO, and even aerosol forcings have added up to mute the underlying atmospheric warming signal somewhat, giving an opening for those who doubt anthropogenic climate change. In spite of this, I exepect to see at least one new “warmest year” record set in the next few years during the solar max period combined with an El Nino. But this period of natural atmospheric cooling has only given a period of apparent respite to warming and encouraged those who doubt anthropogenic climate change to be more forceful in their actions. But the underlying warming, still present in both the oceans and the atmosphere, will become apparent once more to the masses (for it has remained so with the experts), and it will demand political action on an international level. It is only a matter of time.

      Speaking of time, you asked what would cause me to change my mind about whether or not the planet is warming over the long-term? If we saw ocean heat content and atmospheric temperatures fall for a longer period– say 5 or 10 years, and Arctic sea ice area, extent, and volume begin to increase over the same 5 or 10 year period, I would begin to have serious doubts about the sensitivity of the the climate to anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases.

      As for Tom Fuller and Joe Romm’s bet– it was foolish for either man to make the bet as there is far too much variability in the atmosphere over these short periods, and now, esepcially with the sun being a bit sleepy, the bet could be close. One signficant volcanic eruption (or lack thereof) could make the difference.

      1. So, CAGW is irrefutable then, at least over a decade-long period, even if the evidence goes neutral for that period (meaning, explicitly contrary to the models’ predictions of substantive increasing warming).

        That’s what you call science? Really, sir? It’s on such a basis that we should shove around billions and trillions of dollars of the world’s economy, with all the impacts on opportunity for scientific/engineering/social advancement and personal liberty that must necessarily accompany such a massive forced direction of the world’s resources? (Of course, it’s not the “world’s” resources being redistributed to the “world”, it never is, in reality it’s a redirection of wealth from the middle-class of the first-world to the 1% of the world-governing bureaucracy like the EU/UN/NGOs and to the dictators of the 3rd-world, but no matter.)

        But that’s what you call SCIENCE? (Bring that bucket closer, won’t you, that’s a good chap.)

  27. Great article, Tom, I hope to read more like it.

    I also share the belief that the AGW movement is dying from self-inflicted wounds but there is something else I would like to get an opinion on.

    Why are skeptical sites like WattsUpWithThat so much more popular than those on the other side of the debate?

    My guess (without any science to support it) is that sites like Anthony’s and Jeff’s cater to the science of what should be a scientific debate, whereas the others focus on the social and psychological aspects of the climate war.

  28. R. Gates,

    It is always difficult, when addressing a post in which everything is wrong, to determine just where to start. Let’s just follow your errors in sequence.

    Since the weather isn’t increasingly extreme, people won’t experience increasingly extreme weather. They may, however, be susceptible to believing that it is, if enough liars like Trenberth convince them that it is. After all, they haven’t lived long enough to know what weather events have occurred throughout history.

    As for money, the Koch brothers contributions to climate advocacy is so tiny compared to the money spent by Al Gore, all the environmental non-profits, and governments around the world as to be smaller than a mere speck on the side of the global warming whale.

    Finally, there is no fool greater than one who “knows” the future. As Twain, Will Rogers, and others have noted, it ain’t what we don’t know what gets us in trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” The hubris of one who claims to know the future is the most extreme hubris of all.

    1. Stan,

      Unfortunately, the facts would not support your multiple contentions, and neither will the voices of the increasing millions of people around the world whose lives are being disrupted by anthropogenic climate change.

      You certainly are selling the Koch Bros. short. They are very wise with their money and know how to spend their “mere speck” millins very well with the right people. Of course they want to preserve their carbon based empire. Can’t blame them at all for trying. But the winds of climate change will demand they change the way they make their money, sooner or later.

      As far as knowing the future goes…no one knows the specifics, but the trends are fairly easy to find. But of course, it is always the black swan events that will be the game changers anyway, which no one can predict. But as humans continue to alter the atmosphere and oceans, you can be certain that there will be an increasing frequency of those black swan events.

      1. How much have the Kochs spent? Who has had their lives disrupted by climate change and how?

        Can’t wait to see the evidence.

        1. Evidence? Evidence? Evidence? Still waiting R. Gates. Or did you just hear this from your best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend who heard it from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with a girl who saw it in a magazine?

          Lot’s of leaps of logic about fossil fuel empires, etc. No number though.

          And all the millions of people and their disrupted lives. If we are to hear their voices, it might be a good idea for you to tell us who they are and how they got disrupted.

      2. R Gates:

        You certainly are selling the Koch Bros. short. They are very wise with their money and know how to spend their “mere speck” millins very well with the right people. Of course they want to preserve their carbon based empire. Can’t blame them at all for trying. But the winds of climate change will demand they change the way they make their money, sooner or later.

        Let’s see if I get this right…

        So the vast right wing conspiracy isn’t just vast, they choose to spend their hard earned money on other things.. because you guys are so f**king dumb they can just spend a few thousands to cover the hundreds of millions that you guys get?


        1. Don’t know what the “you guys” are that you’re referring to, but I’ve not spent a dime to promote anything. I’ve got no vast empire built on fossil fuel wealth to maintain.

          1. I think you don know what I mean by “you guys”. Unless you really are that dumb.

            Don’t try playing stupid unless you want to be perceived as stupid.

          2. Just wanted to confirm my suspicion that you’ve got a very prejudiced and jaundiced view of the world…seeing everything as black and white, us versus them, etc. Thanks for confirming that. But for the record, you don’t know squat about me or my political and economic views.

  29. Oh, well, as long as YOU’RE confident about it, I guess I’m willing to sentence my children and grand-children, etc., to ever increasing levels of energy poverty. I mean, that only makes sense, right? After all, the idea that decreases in the cost of energy is positively correlated with quality of life and every other measurable quantum of the quality of human existence must be nonsense, right? Surely we’ll be better off with ever more expensive and less efficient means of building and heating/cooling shelter, manufacturing food/clothes/medicines, travel both near and far, increased costs for growing/preserving foods, etc., etc., etc.

    Surely, the way to a better world for humans must be for the “costs of energy to necessarily skyrocket”.

    Or should I strike the words “for humans”? Yeah, that must be the ticket.

    (What, no eye-roll smilie?)

  30. It was foolish for Tom to make the bet, but he did it because he thought Joe Romm was ducking his own offered bet. Joe Romm on the other hand claims to believe in substantial warming around 5C/century, so .15 /decade should be an easy win for him.

    1. 5C a century? Wow. That would take quite an exponential turn upward later this century to meet. But truthfully, Romm’s bet with Tom could go either way, and will come down to how quiet the sun remains later this decade, the timing of ENSO events, and whether or not we get a large volcano or two to erupt. I do however expect to see at least one year between now and 2015 beat all previous instrument records for warmest year, as the natural variations should at least temporarily align with the underlying warming from increasing greenhouse gas concentrations to break records.

      1. I made the bet because Romm had recently refused to debate Pielke Jr. and I thought he should be challenged. I didn’t take the bet because I disbelieve in AGW (slight AGW…), but because I hoped to catch a lucky break on the top of several cycles. And also because I was peeved at the gentleman for having refused several other bettors because they weren’t famous enough.

        1. An honorable enough reason to make the bet. I think you’ve got a 50/50 chance of winning, but we’ll know more as this solar cycle progresses. With a big volcanic eruption, especially one in Iceland, your chances probably go right to 80/20.

  31. While we continue to wait for R. Gates to provide us with some evidence, I have a question. If I recall correctly, the general consensus of even the alarmists not so long ago was that the overall net impact of global warming was projected to be positive for several decades, but that the runaway warming was supposed to get so bad that lots of terrible stuff would happen by the end of the century. Have the alarmists changed the playbook? Is the new play supposed to be to claim that warming is creating all kinds of horrible extreme weather right now, there are no positives at all to a warmer climate, etc.? All bad, all the time, and all because of CO2?

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