Redrawn Climate Battle Lines Come into Focus

By Keith Kloor | May 10, 2012 2:31 pm

Two seemingly disparate events this week underscore major shifts in the climate discourse–at least in the U.S. One is the defeat of Senator Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary. The other is this NYT op-ed from NASA climate scientist James Hansen.

What’s the connection? Well, each, in its own way, illustrate the newly established battle lines of America’s climate debate. I explain why in my latest post at the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media.

 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: climate change, climate politics
  • Menth

    A good article to contextualize Hansen/McKibben’s game over claims about Canadian oil sands. The author is an economist that favours action on climate change:

    http://andrewleach.ca/oilsands/on-the-potential-for-oilsands-to-add-200ppm-of-co2-to-the-atmosphere/

  • Menth

    I’ve long suspected that James Hansen puts on his “environmentalist” hat before he puts on his “scientist” hat. Ditto Mike Mann. Actually Mike Mann puts on his “Mike Mann” hat first, followed by his “environmentalist” hat and THEN his “scientist” hat.

  • Tom C

    Lindzen said that Hansen’s prominence bears no relation to his rather modest scientific accomplishments.  That is an overly tactful way of putting it.  Hansen is out of his mind as evidenced by his clumsy, monomaniacal rhetoric.  Anyone who is absolutely sure that he knows the global mean temeprature anomoly 1 million years ago is not a scientist.

  • Tom Scharf

    Hansen has definitely gone off the deep end.  I wonder if he is borderline paranoid / mentally ill.  You really expect him to start standing out on the street with a “The end is near” sign over the top of him.  

    There is no question he should not be in a leadership position in NASA.  When you look at what NASA has become, since it was once the shining star of what America was capable of, you can only be sad (not all Hansen’s fault by any stretch).  One can only wish someone with some balls would be put in charge at NASA and eject all the hand wringing bureaucrats out an airlock.  Ponder the origin of the phrase “Shoot for the moon”, and whether this applies to NASA anymore.

    Of course the fact that the NYT even runs this claptrap without a “faux balance” opposing view speaks to how climate science is being covered by some of the media and how this branch of science is simply a tool for a political agenda on both sides.  Even the most deluded CAGW believers could write an effective rebuttal to this article, it is so weak with regard to certainty of linkage to weather events, and validity of climate model predictions.  It is a target rich environment, I will only mention one example, and that is the Gore-esque slight of hand where he fails to mention that the timeline for when “Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities” is on the order of 50,000 years and based on unvalidated and poor performing climate models, with Hansen’s models being some of the worst performing of all.

    At least the NYT had some integrity and published this as an opinion, they could have pretended it was a science column.  

    I for one do not support litmus tests in politics and decry the two party system that has left us with candidates that are virtual clones year after year that blindly adhere to the stale political platform of their party.

    I think one really has to wonder how much the fact that political moderates never get any face time in the press has to do with it.  In a microcosm of the same situation you see it play out in Internet forums.  Extreme statements get noticed, nuance gets buried.  I’m sure KK can see it in his web traffic based on the tone of his posts.

    So you have a positive feedback working here, to get noticed you need to be provocative, and only provocative stuff gets put in front of the public.  When a hurricane hits Florida, it is Trenberth who is on speed dial, not RPJ.  Trenberth knows if he backs off his propaganda, the reporters will find someone else to call and his public influence will diminish.  So he’s painted himself int a corner, and keeps saying things that are clearly counter to what the science says (2000+ days since last Cat3 US landfall, a record.  Global cyclone energy near all time lows).      

  • Jeffn

    For a minute there, I thought Hansen was going to advocate sanctions against Canada. It is not at all clear that a gas tax hike- much less a vague one like Hansens, would cause the Canadians to shut down their gold mine.
    I’m not getting the Lugar connection- all of the GOP candidates support nuke, GMO and natural gas- the only viable solutions. Meanwhile the Dems aren’t supporting the stuff that works or the stuff that doesn’t and the environmentalists are flying to Rio to chit chat about redistributing America’s wealth without an apparent care in the world if it will affect emissions.
    Which group has a sane approach?

  • huxley

     Two seemingly disparate events this week underscore major shifts in the climate discourse”“at least in the U.S.

    Major shifts? Only if one has failed to pay attention to the steady erosion of the middle ground for some time now in climate and in US politics. Lugar’s defeat is only surprising if one believed the conventional media wisdom that the Tea Party was a spent force after 2010. I suspect these same people will be even more surprised come this November.

    I’d be curious what sort of “political space for constructive (much less nuanced) debate on climate change,” as KK puts it in the Yale article, existed before Lugar was defeated. Not much as I recall. Climate change advocates presumed that they could dictate their terms and accuse anyone who disagreed with being anti-science or in the pay of Big Oil.

    What has changed is that Democrats and climate change advocates have pushed and pushed for their agenda. In response millions of Americans rejected that push and are now pushing back.

    Welcome to politics — a full-contact sport.

    If climate change folks wanted constructive, nuanced debate they might have conducted themselves that way instead of shouting down anyone who disagreed with them.

  • BBD

    If Hansen were ‘borderline paranoid/mentally ill’, you would expect a general and clear rejection of his views by the mainstream. Who are not, by definition, paranoid or mentally ill.

  • Tom Scharf

    BBD – I think his “solutions” have been clearly rejected by the mainstream public (punitive eco-taxes), and you only have to go to the IPCC’s recent report on extreme weather linkage and other recent peer reviewed literature to see that his extreme event linkage views have been rejected there as well.  His op-ed is basically the National Enquirer of climate change, somebody said it, so he can report it as fact.  

    The paranoid alarmists garbage he represents as SCIENTIFIC FACT (50% extinction rates, threat to civilization, 50 foot sea level rise) while using his current title at NASA as a direct authoritative reference for the validity of the data is shameful to anyone who once held pride in these organizations.

    Note the language in place.  There is no “data suggests”, “further study is still needed”, “some scientists believe” qualifiers.  He even concludes all this dribble with “The science of the situation is clear”.  

    This is exactly the kind of thing that other climate scientists need to shout down in order to regain some respect from the rest of the technical community.  But all I hear, for now, are crickets.   

    I’ve got to say, if the climate concerned community doesn’t find this kind of article over the top, then I can’t imagine what they would find as unacceptable from a supposed leader of their movement.  

  • Marlowe Johnson

    who cares what mechanism we use to put a price on carbon. do whatever works in your neck of the woods. if hansen thinks tax and dividend will fly with the u.s. electorate so be it.

    if you’re interested in assessing the geopolitical and/or emission impacts of various fossil deposits (e.g. Alberta tar/oil? sands) then there are more relevant voices out there. Levi and Andrew Leach come to mind.  If you’re interested in carbon pricing  policy, one might start with Robert Stavins. 

    Now if you want technology, emission forecasts, and policy assessment all in one place, boy have i got the place for you. it’s a wee bit radical mind you. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    ” So what’s the climate science community’s response to James Hansen’s NYT op-ed? Curious to read (and hear of) reactions.”

    Keith,It’s the climate policy community you should be soliciting for opinion :) Seeing and reading many of Hansen prognostications on the policy side of the equation has reinforced my belief that just because a person is smart and/or has expertise in one subject, it does not follow that they therefore have smarts/expertise in a related-but-different subject (Dyson anyone?). When Hansen came to do his dog&pony show in Toronto a while back, I left feeling disappointed and vindicated. OTOH I admire him greatly for being willing to go through the grind of the dog&pony show experience to say what he felt was important to as many people as possible. I suspect he’d much rather be playing with his grand kids right now. Contrary to what Dick L. suggests, I don’t think Hansen has anything left to prove wrt to his academic chops.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #7,There are many historical cases of the paranoid/mentally ill being followed by the mainstream. The 1930s, for example.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    oh and just so i don’t appear ‘partisan’

    @ #1

    agreed. Leach and Levi both demonstrate how Hansen engages in unrealistic hyperbole with his carbon ‘fuse’ metaphor wrt to the tar/oil sands. OTOH, neither address the implications of the ‘lock-in’ effects that investments in these sorts of projects engender in a satisfactory manner IMO.

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe (10), is referring to tweet of mine.

    Based on the numerous climate science statements Hansen made in his op-ed, I see very good reason to be curious about what his colleagues are thinking.

  • Tom Scharf

    Marlowe,

    Would this op-ed be evidence you were so diligently searching for as proof of alarmism from climate scientists previously? Feel free to not respond and pretend you never asked that question, or simply change the subject and try to divert the conversation to an unrelated topic.  Ad hominem is always a favorite tactic as well.

    It’s not surprising it would take about a week for something like this to pop up.  You can also look into the clear linkage to volcanoes and earthquakes another highly respected organization has reported on recently.

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/could_a_changing_climate_set_off_volcanoes_and_quakes/2525/

    Academia at its ….errrr….best.  I do respect Fred Pearce though, and he does make it clear that this does not represent the mainstream view at least here and is far from settled.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @14

    I’ll get back to you once I’m done beating my wife….

    in all seriousness, i think hansen is being ‘alarmist’ to the extent that he implies that the COMPLETE exhaustion of the tar/oil sands is a plausible possibility. I don’t think any credible energy economist/forecaster would consider that to be a credible scenario.

    This kind of overreach is unfortunate I think, because it then leads to the ‘difference-splitting’ mentality that as long as we don’t exploit the tar sands TOO MUCH, we’ll be OK. Which is of course, exactly the wrong message that Hansen and other advocates (e.g. me) want to send.

  • DeNihilist

    I wish Dr. Hansen would keep up with the science – All oil sands burned = 0.36C rise in temp. Definately not an “end game”.

     This is why Joe Six Packs, such as myself, have problems trusting climate scientists. The tales are just too tall.  

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/andrew-weaver/eu-law-oil-canada_b_1288264.html

  • Marlowe Johnson

    you have a six pack DeN? evidence please. remind me again what kind of ‘scientist’ you are?

  • kdk33

    Republican voters are opposed to climate change legislation, as they should be. Candidates who think differently are subject to replacement – democracy and all that outdated, silly stuff. This is controversial?

    Rejection of climate change science is not now, nor has it ever been, an ideological test for republicans.  This is, of course, a cheap political smear offered up by the left who understand neither science nor climate change.  I expected more, Keith.  Perhaps this should be filed under fiction, not journalism..  

    I’m not sure who painted Hansen onto the scientific landscape, but that picture is assuredly a forgery.  And a bad one. 

  • Dean

    Plenty of the “climate concerned” have been critical of Hansen’s policy suggestions, including Joe Romm.And if rejection of climate science is not a litmus test for Republican candidates today, I don’t know what is. It is about the best definition that exists of what a political litmus test is.

  • DeNihilist

    MJ, I don’t have a degree in horticulture, yet I have a vege garden, weird eh? I don’t have an electrician TQ, yet I change my own light bulbs, weirder? Funny thing is, is that I can read, and in reading what Dr. Weaver has modeled, I can actually figure out that what Dr. Hansen is saying about burning of our oil sands is just B.S. Don’t need a PhD for that my friend. As for the six pack, I prefer the keg!     :)

  • BBD

    Keith @ 13

    You sound as though you are questioning Hansen’s facts. Please indicate which ones:

    Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and
    continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.

  • BBD

    @ 16

    I wish Dr. Hansen would keep up with the science ““ All oil sands burned = 0.36C rise in temp. Definately [sic] not an “end game”.

    Reference.

  • BBD

    @ 19

    Confusion of climate policy with climate science. Get it straight.

  • BBD

    NIV @ 11

    Godwin. And repellent. You show your true colours.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    There is also the 50’s.

    From 54 to 68.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    And then some other 30’s.

    From -336 onward.

  • BBD

    There is no need to place an apostrophe between the number and the ‘s’.

  • BBD

    Before we have anyone else diagnosing Hansen with paranoia, or more generally, mental illness (or fascism) let’s look over the context.

    Hansen has written elsewhere (emphasis added):

    An overwhelming objection is that exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts. The tar sands are estimated (e.g.,see IPCC AR4 WG3 report) to contain at least 400 GtC (equivalent to about 200 ppm CO2).

    Easily available reserves of conventional oil and gas are enough to take atmospheric CO2 well above 400 ppm. However, if emissions from coal are phased out over the next few decades and if unconventional fossil fuels are left in the ground, it is conceivable to stabilize climate. Phase out of emissions from coal is itself an enormous challenge. However, if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over. There is no practical way to capture the CO2 emitted while burning oil, which is used principally in vehicles.

    Swart & Weaver apparently agree in essence with Hansen and they rightly caution (emphasis added):

    If North American and international policymakers wish to limit global warming to less than 2 °C they will clearly need to put in place measures that ensure a rapid transition of global energy systems to nongreenhouse-gas-emitting sources, while avoiding commitments to new infrastructure supporting dependence on fossil fuels.

    That’s the point. The *last* thing we should be doing is going after tar sands. It is a decisive step in the wrong direction.

  • kdk33

    Well, Dean, perhaps you could tell us exactly what “science” republicans are reuired to reject.See, the left likes to write it that way because it implies that science=truth.  And paints republican candidates as these poor souls who must deny obvious truths to satisfy the ignoramouses who elect them.  Then Keith can write about those crazies in the Tea Party.Everybody knows this.Perhpas you, Dean, can tell us which objective truth republicans candidates are required to object?

  • kdk33

    Well, Dean, perhaps you could tell us exactly what “science” republicans are reuired to reject.

    See, the left likes to write it that way because it implies that science=truth.  And paints republican candidates as these poor souls who must deny obvious truths to satisfy the ignoramouses who elect them.  Then Keith can write about those crazies in the Tea Party.

    Everybody knows this.

    Perhpas you, Dean, can tell us which objective truth republicans candidates are required to object?

  • kdk33

    From a certain perspective Hansen’s piece is encouraging.  If it’s game over, we can stop playing.  Now we can get on to driving a prosperous economy with low cost energy; improving the lot of poor people; spreading democracy and freedom.  You know, things that matter.

  • Jeffn

    #23, Really? Half the “climate concerned’s” shtick is to intentionally confuse policy and science, and you think you have the standing to call people out on it?

    Look at Keith and others contention that non-belief in “climate science” is a litmus test for Republicans. It’s bull, in fact nobody buys it at all. Advocates have spent the past decade insisting that the only solution to global warming is to do something pointless but “progressive” and you’re all stunned the GOP won’t join.

    Face it- to Joe Sixpack, the phrase “climate change” is a proxy for windmill subsidies, damaging regulation, and a concept of “climate justice” that’s so appallingly bad that even advocates are only comfortable talking about it on Grist and Eli’s sites. The advocates did this to themselves, but want to blame the Heartland Institute.

    And that’s why climate concern polls worse and worse each year.

  • BBD

    Jeffn

    Look at Keith and others contention that non-belief in “climate science” is a litmus test for Republicans. It’s bull, in fact nobody buys it at all.

    Oh yes they do :-)

  • BBD

    Dean @ 19 – Apologies – my # 23 should have been addressed to kdk33 comment # 18.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    BBD,

    An apostrofly made me do it:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/styleguide/a

    Thanks!

  • kdk33

    BBD, in your #23, I think it is obvious that you are the one conflating (or confused) on the difference between policy and science.  Similarly Keith and Dean.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    What is the difference between policy and science, kdk33?

  • harrywr2

    #26,Phase out of emissions from coal is itself an enormous challenge.Not if you allow the coal plants to run to their full use full life. In the US the major phaseout will begin around 2025. That’s why the GEN IV and SMR nuclear demonstration projects have a target date for demonstration of 2020. Their isn’t a substantial market for ‘new build’ in the US until 2020. Then it’s a substantial market for 20 years.

  • BBD

    willard

    A very small recompense. The apostrofly is new to me :-) Always thought it was an apostroflea (clearly I should read the Guardian…). But seriously, thanks for the style guide link, which I’ve bookmarked.

  • D. Robinson

    #32 & 33 – IMO it’s not a simple litmus test.  In order to not offend a staunch subset of republicans, republican candidates need to denounce any belief in AGW. 

    I’m sure they actually have a range of views on it, witness McCain or Chris Christie.  But it’s a more toxic issue this time and by denouncing any belief in AGW they get to not offend staunch voters, while more moderate conservatives aren’t going to abandon them due to any one issue.

    Same exact situation for the abortion issue, but they have an out for that one.  They can say it should be handled at the state level, doesn’t work for AGW. 

    Democrats have their ‘trap’ issues also.

  • BBD

    harrywr2

    What about the rest of the world? 

    Mind you, Hansen is clearly thinking along similar lines. Consider this from his 2008 open letter to President Obama:

    Energy efficiency, renewable energies, and an improved grid deserve priority and there is a hope that they could provide all of our electric power requirements. However, the greatest threat to the planet may be the potential gap between that presumption (100% “soft” energy) and reality, with the gap filled by continued use of coal-fired power.

    Therefore it is important to undertake urgent focused R&D programs in both next generation nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration. These programs could be carried out most rapidly and effectively in full cooperation with China and/or India, and other countries.

    Given appropriate priority and resources, the option of secure, low-waste 4th generation nuclear power (see below) could be available within a decade. If, by then, wind, solar, other renewables, and an improved grid prove that they are capable of handling all of our electrical energy needs, then there may be no need to construct nuclear plants in the United States.

    Many energy experts consider an all-renewable scenario to be implausible in the time-frame when coal emissions must be phased out, but it is not necessary to debate that matter. 

    However, it would be exceedingly dangerous to make the presumption today that we will soon have all-renewable electric power. Also it would be inappropriate to impose a similar presumption on China and India. Both countries project large increases in their energy needs, both countries have highly polluted atmospheres primarily due to excessive coal use, and both countries stand to suffer inordinately if global climate change continues.

  • Bob Koss

    Members of the European Parliament have now canceled their participation in Rio+20.  They are using  $1000+ room costs as a reason. Maybe they figure there won’t be enough pocket money left over from their per diem to make it worthwhile attending a summit that will be all talk and no action.  http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2012/may/meps-cancel-rio+20-participation/74321.aspx 

  • Bob Koss
  • Tom Scharf

    As for Hansen’s mental illness, the best thing I can say is I believe he believe’s in what he is saying.  He also walks the walk.  He wants immediate switch over to nuclear power, gets arrested at coal protests, etc.  I give him a lot more respect than those who transparently use climate change as a tool for a political agenda (Naomi Klein to name just one).  But my guess is that if you followed Hansen around for a week, you might get the impression the man is a wee bit crazy.

    As for the litmus test / climate change politics, this is basically true.  You are unlikely to get elected as a Republican if you take a hard stance for climate change.  

    Pretending the opposite isn’t true for Democrats is a fantasy though.  Point me to all the elected Democrats who are “deniers”.  Also let’s find out how many Democrats get elected if they loudl;y endorse the desire to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the third world as a “climate justice” guilt payment.  However this topic isn’t really that resonating with voters.

    You can  name a long list of topics that are effective litmus tests in party politics (abortion, gay marriage, size of government, prayer in schools, labor unions, affirmative action, gun rights).  And it is a common tactic to attempt to use these platforms as a wedge issue against the other side as Keith is doing here.  

    A counter example is the right wing using Keystone as a wedge issue against the left (pits unions against environmentalists).  Great fun to watch as political theater.

    I am personally revolted by any Republican candidates that deny that there hasn’t even been a temperature rise in the last century or declare this part of the science a “hoax”.  So the wedge issue is effective in that sense.  However most candidates learn pretty quickly to question the CAGW predictions and attributions (valid), and to paint the proposed solutions as unrealistic and not well thought out (valid).

    This “politically correct” answer to one’s stance on AGW is similar to a Republican stating that he is personally against abortion but supports a women’s right to choose.  This translates to “I’m not diving into that toxic political tar pit”.  

  • Sashka

    The science of the situation is clear

    With enemies like this, who needs friends?

  • Sashka

    @9 who cares what mechanism we use to put a price on carbon

    I do. Deal with it.

  • DeNihilist

    BBD, the reference is linked in the #16 post. It is a review of a study by Canada’s pre-eminent climate modeler, Dr. Andrew Weaver, by the same Dr. Weaver.  

  • kdk33

    @37,  Willard, perhaps you could offer your invaluable insight. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @46

    Why? The phrase six-of-one-half-a-dozen-of-the-other comes to mind. What am I supposed to ‘deal’ with exactly? 

  • BBD

    DeNihilist

    Yes – apologies – I noticed the usual 5 seconds after pressing Submit. Oh for an edit comment option…

  • BBD

    Tom Scharf

    But my guess is that if you followed Hansen around for a week, you might get the impression the man is a wee bit crazy.

    My guess is that you would discover just how very, very little you actually knew about climate science ;-)

  • BBD

    Tom S

    # 51 sounds more ungenerous than I intended – it would apply to any of us, I have no doubt.

  • Sashka

    @49: Why what?

    Deal with the fact that people do care about the mechanism. Failure of cap-and-trade should have taught you that already.

  • kdk33

    Well, if Hansen is right, we are all doomed.  So have another beer.

  • BBD

    If Hansen (and all the rest of those annoying scientists) are correct, then we need to stop doing silly things like digging up tar sand. Or there may be trouble ahead :-)

  • harrywr2

    #41What about the rest of the world? The rest of the world is not sitting on 200 billion tons of coal that can be extracted for $15/ton at a profit. It costs 3 cents/mile to ship coal overland and that ‘cheap’ coal is 1,000 miles from the nearest seaport. Undoubtedly some of that ‘cheap coal’ will fill in for the substantial ‘time lag’ between realization that coal is no longer the ‘cheapest’ way to make electricity and doing something about it. My estimate is 10 to 15 years. Even if I look at China…the population is moving east and the remaining inexpensively extractable coal is moving west which increases transport costs.http://carnegieendowment.org/files/China_Coal_Value_Chain_Kevin_Tu2.pdfIt's a global trend based on a simple human trait…we use those resources that are easiest to extract and closest to us first.  At some point they end up being too costly to transport or not worth the effort to extract anymore.

  • BBD

    harrywr2

    Your standard position these days seems to be that coal is ‘too expensive’ to continue as a significant driver of CO2 emissions. Do I understand you correctly?

  • kdk33

    Mitt Romney on climate change:

    My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.———————————————————-

    James Hansen on cliamte change:We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events “” they were caused by human-induced climate change.

    Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels. ———————————————————-

    Crazy Republicans

  • kdk33

    darn formatting

  • BBD

    Looks like Romney needs to do some reading.

    Darn politicians.

  • hr

    “If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. ” (James Hansen)Great to see that cAGW firmly remains a strawman construct of the denial machine. Climate scientists prefer the rational, objective approach.

  • hr

    Your blog seems to hate any spacing and formatting I do (using Google Chrome).

  • kdk33

    BBD,

    you’re like the weird kid that lives next door.  You keep following me around, when I’ve already decided you are no fun.  Go pester somebody else.  Better yet, go to Willards house.

    Don’t go away mad.  Just go away.

  • BBD

    Ah. So Hansen is insane and I’m the weird kid next door. I see.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    no, kdk is gonna play Mittens in the movie

  • steven mosher

    BBD Says:
    May 10th, 2012 at 6:26 pm
    If Hansen were “˜borderline paranoid/mentally ill’, you would expect a general and clear rejection of his views by the mainstream. Who are not, by definition, paranoid or mentally ill.

    I dunno. we do have historical precedents for the “mainstream” of certain citizens failing to reject
    the views of somebody who appears to have suffered from mental illness

    http://www.uccs.edu/~faculty/fcoolidg/Hitler%20PDF%20unproof.pdf

    Then there is the point that the consensus of scientists dont buy his argument. hmm

  • BBD

    Steven

    Do you really think Hansen is mentally ill?

    Then there is the point that the consensus of scientists dont buy his argument. hmm

    What consensus? Which argument?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    And isn’t there a book somewhere about the madness of crowds… Could be that these maladies are contagious… Mass hysteria and all that…

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    And there is this film where we all live in a matrix…

  • kdk33
  • kdk33

    Psychiatrist: Dr. Sanji? Dr. Sanji: I don’t think he’s overly psychotic, but, I still think he’s quite sick. Psychiatrist: You think he’s dangerous? Dr. Sanji: Absolutely so.

  • kdk33

    Psychiatrist: Dr. Sanji?

    Dr. Sanji: I don’t think he’s overly psychotic, but, I still think he’s quite sick.

    Psychiatrist: You think he’s dangerous?

    Dr. Sanji: Absolutely so.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    IPositive and negative binds.

    Negative: Can’t win. Everything I do is wrong.

    Positive: Can’t lose. Everything I do is right.

    I do it, because it is right.

    It is right, because I do it.

    http://www.oikos.org/knots5.htm

  • Tom Scharf

    I wondered over to RC for my bi-annual exercise in frustration.  Mostly knee jerk defense of Hansen and I got sent off to the bore-hole for apparently not being polite enough, or making a strong argument they didn’t like, or who knows?  For the record here is the post that got moderated:

    @242, @245, @246

    Where to begin”¦shooting fish in a barrel here”¦

    I’m sure you guys have been around the block enough here that you could write my responses for me. Clearly the op-ed was deceptive on multiple points, and you know it.

    A NYT reader’s perception of long term is likely to be a 100 years, not the more likely 50,000 it will take for sea levels to make that kind of change, if it did happen. This is Al Gore smoke and mirrors climate marketing and to my mind, intentionally misleading.

    The tone of certainty that Dr. Hansen uses with linkage to recent extreme events is misleading and borderline dishonest, clearly the recent IPCC EREX(?) report disagrees with this conclusion and other peer reviewed papers (NOAA) state there is no linkage to the stated recent events. He is in the minority here.

    The biggest problem is lack of qualifiers. There are no “some scientists say”, “further study is needed”, etc. His minority opinion on future attributions is stated as scientific fact, and his title at NASA and exposure at the NYT allows it to carry weight it does not scientifically deserve.

    It is carefully written to be defensible on a detail scale, but yet overall gives the reader a view that is in fact, not scientifically valid.

    One specific case in point is when he points out that when CO2 levels where last at these levels, sea levels were 50 feet higher. But he isn’t technically saying this CO2 level will in fact result in this sea level increase now, is he? No, but he intentionally leaves this obvious conclusion dangling out there for the reader to grasp and fear. Intentional deception to my mind.

    This op-ed is pretty over the top alarmist stuff, I hope we can mostly agree on that, he even states it is apocalyptic himself. He clearly believes it, so fine. Freedom of speech is good for all.

    But my objection is NASA allowing him to use their hard earned and deserved reputation as a platform for this and the failure of the climate community to set the record straight and allow this stuff to stand. It is an embarrassment for all of science.

    I love NASA, you will not find a bigger supporter of the space program than myself, but I cringe at this. Others should as well.

    Comment by Tom Scharf “” 11 May 2012 @ 12:25 PM

  • Marlowe Johnson

    i’ll take the red pill. 

  • harrywr2

    #57,My standard position these days seems to be that coal is “˜too
    expensive’ to continue as a significant driver of CO2 emissions. Do I
    understand you correctly?
    Correct. $80/ton is the price point at which it is no longer the ‘cheapest’ option for a ‘new build’ base load electricity plant. As you’ve correctly pointed out in the past there is a ‘lag’ in the electric power industry between when something makes economic sense and when it is adopted. It is a very ‘slow moving’ industry. There is also a lag in public perception as to ‘how much’ power can come from windmills and solar panels. In democracies sometimes we have to ‘try and fail’ before the public will accept the alternatives. Hence the ‘great german solar panel’ experiment. Someone smarter then me once said ‘Reality bats last’. I’m guesstimating ‘peak coal’ at 2014.

  • harrywr2

    #57If further support of my positionhttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-11/indonesia-sub-bituminous-coal-swaps-rise-china-prices-gain.html

    China may consume about 200 million tons of thermal coal
    less than last year

  • Dean

    kdk – Republicans are now required to deny that we know enough about AGW such we should do anything about it. They tend to complain when – on other issues – people endlessly call for more study before doing anything, but that is what most want re AGW now. And some don’t even want to do that, attempting to cut research efforts.  It was only a few years back that there were some Republicans who disagreed with the above and supported action. Any who hold to such a position now are bound to lose their primary. Republicans are even more concerned about purging such opinions from the party than they are about losing the resulting election, as we saw in Maryland last year. The point isn’t whether you disagree with the minority of Republicans who used to support some kind of action on climate change, just that that one opinion is adequate cause to defeat them in a primary now. You describe this as democracy, but it is democracy within the Republican Party specifically. That is how litmus tests come to be. Again, the Maryland case from last year shows that whatever the opinion of Americans in general, AGW is not a litmus test – a single issue test.

  • BBD

    harrywr2

    Reality does indeed bat last. I will happily agree with that. I think you have a point about coal price/availability but whether not being the cheapest is enough to disallow future use is a very moot point indeed (baseload alternatives NG, SG and nuclear have a spectrum of security of supply/resource depletion and plant cost issues).

    I see the lack of viable alternatives making coal-fired baseload more expensive, but not substantially reducing its share of the energy mix. Certainly not by enough to make the case that we need do nothing and the market will correct the coal (*or gas*) emissions problem on its own.

  • harrywr2

    #60Looks like Romney needs to do some readingUS annual coal consumption has dropped 175 Million tons in the last two years.http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/report/coal.cfmAbsolutely no one, not even the most radical climate activist was demanding that pace of decline in the US coal power sector. Passing ‘climate change’ legislation at this point in the US is the equivalent of ‘kicking a man when he is down’. The ‘climate activists’ have already gotten a result better then they imagined.Republicans can normally be counted on to protect capital investment…any further rapid decline is US coal consumption will destroy a lot of investment. The ‘moderates’ were at some point prepared to accept a ‘gradual’ decline. 49% of the electric power sector to 36% of the electric power sector in 2 years is not ‘gradual decline’.

  • BBD

    harrywr2

    You are cherry-picking your narrative and grossly over-stating your case. In the real world, the Keeling curve looks like this.

  • BBD

    Romney needs to do some reading because he made the witless but standard Republican statement that ‘we don’t know what’s causing climate change’. FFS.

  • BBD

    From your EIA link:

    EIA expects that electric power sector coal consumption will increase by 1.2 percent in 2013, as projected power industry coal prices fall (4 percent) and natural gas prices increase.

    And:

    EIA forecasts the average delivered coal price in 2012 will be 2.8 percent lower than the 2011 average price. EIA predicts the 2013 average delivered coal price to be $2.24 per MMBtu, or 3.8 percent lower than the previous year’s price.

    Every link you provide is disabled because it overlaps with a bit of adjacent text.

  • huxley

    Romney needs to do some reading because he made the witless but standard
    Republican statement that “˜we don’t know what’s causing climate
    change’.
    BBD: It’s kinda like how the the science is settled and not settled, or how climate change is catastrophic and not catastrophic.

  • BBD

    huxley

    No, it’s ‘kinda like’ climate change denial. Or, as I more charitably suggested, the result of insufficient reading on the topic.

  • huxley

    BBD: Nah, that’s just your standard boilerplate. Anyone who disagrees with your authorities is stupid or in denial.

    Color me unimpressed.

  • huxley

    It’s an election year. Those expecting nuance and constructive debate in the political sphere are either idealistic fools or cynics feigning idealism.Those who voted for Obama in 2008 and will do so again in 2012 have no moral or intellectual high ground over Republicans, however Democrats persist in that conceit.
    In 2008 Obama ran as the messiah, who was going to heal the Red and Blue divisions, and as the Ivy League genius who was going to bring cool pragmatic competence to Washington and fix things.

    Well … how much healing and competence have we seen?

    In 2012 Obama is running a campaign of distraction and smears. He has *no* accomplishments that he will boast of. He is therefore wholeheartedly embracing class, gender, and every-which-way warfare that divide the country yet shore up his base, hopefully enough for Obama to squeak through and win in November.

    The mainstream media, instead of being the feisty guardians of truth as they fight for “the story” — as Keith Kloor styles his colleagues — are actively carrying water and running interference for Obama and his agenda, just as they did in 2008.

    It’s an ugly situation. It’s political war. Most people have made up their minds, one way or the other, and will vote accordingly. Obama and Romney are fighting over the ten percent or less in the middle.

    Judging by Obama’s constant efforts to shore up his base, I suspect that he is losing.

  • BBD

    huxley

    BBD: Nah, that’s just your standard boilerplate. Anyone who disagrees with your authorities is stupid or in denial.

    They aren’t ‘my authorities’. The disagreement is with the standard scientific position.

    To be taken seriously, contrarians need a robust and coherent scientific argument. Otherwise they run the risk of appearing  misguided, at the very least.

  • huxley

    BBD: Blah, blah, blah. I know the standard scientific position — and I wouldn’t be surprised if Romney does too. I agree to a point but it’s a matter of degrees here and there and those degrees are important but that’s a long discussion.

    You may consider Republicans misguided and worse. But they are eating your lunch at the polls, climate change legislation will continue to languish, and your take-no-prisoners absolutism is serving you and your cause poorly but you don’t notice or care to notice.

    You seem entirely unable to hear the other side of the discussion. You don’t come off as smart or politic in this regard. Ditto for most of the climate change movement.

    The climate change debate will be settled by reality in a matter of decades. Most likely we will continue to emit increasing amounts of carbon until we develop better technology. We will discover the hard way the right number for climate sensitivity. It will bear out the “standard scientific position” or not.

    In the meantime, if you want to have an impact to change things before then, you might consider listening, building rapport, and persuading, rather than your usual self-righteous approach which preaches to your choir but makes no difference to the rest of us, who appear to be the majority.

  • huxley

    KK: This is the worst comment editing software on the internet I’ve seen. I can’t make my comments appear as I wish without adding hard carriage returns to the HTML source code, which shouldn’t make a difference but does.

  • BBD

    Huxley says:

    You seem entirely unable to hear the other side of the discussion. You don’t come off as smart or politic in this regard. Ditto for most of the climate change movement.

    BBD says:

    To be taken seriously, contrarians need a robust and coherent scientific argument. Otherwise they run the risk of appearing  misguided, at the very least.

    Huxley says:

    In the meantime, if you want to have an impact to change things before then, you might consider listening, building rapport, and persuading

  • kdk33

    Dean,

    Yes, republican voters do not think climate science is certain enough to justify “doing something”.  Yes, they elect, in their primaries, candidates who think similarly; they unelect those who want to do something.  Yes, this is democracy.

    There is no litmus test that republicans deny science. Rather, there are many (a majority of americans, in fact) who think they are defending science. Not everyone agrees. Yes, this is democracy.

  • BBD

    Tom Fuller @ 68:

    And isn’t there a book somewhere about the madness of crowds”¦ Could be that these maladies are contagious”¦ Mass hysteria and all that”¦

  • BBD
  • BBD

    kdk33

    And for you

  • steven mosher

    BBD

    your argument was that Hansen wasn’t mentally ill because if he was the general public would clearly reject his views. So, “if the public does not reject his views, he is not mentally ill.” What I did was very simple. I found a case where the public did not reject the views of a madman. Quite simply, the acceptance or rejection of hansen’s views by the general public is NOT part of a differential diagnosis. Last time I looked I did not see this in the DSM IV. Observing that says nothing whatsoever about my opinion about what degree of mental illness he suffers from, if any.
    I have no opinion.

    As for the consensus that disagrees with him. Look at the variety of scientists who have rejected his more over the top statements. Look at what the Vision Prize results were.

    I really do wish he would shut up. He makes the case harder to win. I wish he cared more for his grand kids. He has been given a chance to make his case. He has failed miserably. How much longer will we let him speak for us. What he neglected to realize is this: by exercising his right of free speech he allows people to personalize the science.
    Thats a tough choice, but even oppenheimer saw this as one downside of scientists entering the policy realm. If he really cared for his grand kids he would shut up and go do some science.

  • huxley

    BBD: This is where you demonstrate your obtuseness, if not stupidity.

    The Kryptonian Science Council is not going to decide what will be done about carbon emissions on Earth. In the US that will be decided at the polls, and not by what currently passes for “robust and coherent scientific argument” (never mind all the Climategate sorts of dishonesty and incompetence).

    You don’t get that. You smirk and retreat into your world of peer-reviewed journals and the 97% or whatever of scientists who mumble “me too” and back those claims (and hope to hold on to their grants or position on the tenure track.).

    Again, if you want to have impact in the real world, you are going to have to persuade voters. All I’m saying is that your smug, self-righteousness appeals to authority won’t work.

    You don’t get that and you won’t even acknowledge that world.

    Frankly, you come across as rather stupid on that account, which is yet another reason that you and the climate change crew strike me as another insular cult that will explode in a matter of years, like the previous proponents of eco-crises of the past.

  • Tom Scharf

    Here is what I consider some progress.  DotEarth posts a response from climate scientists to Hansen’s op-ed at the NYT.  Yeah science!

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/another-view-on-extreme-weather-in-a-warming-climate/ 

    Emanuel’s response of “you haven’t disproved a disaster is going to happen, so this argument is even” is a bit of convoluted logic, although he more or less admits overstatements from Hansen.

    I dare say I sense progress in the walking back of alarmism by climate science themselves.  A lot of the damage to credibility has already been done, but there is no time like the present to start the uphill climb back to respectability.

    Kudos to Revkin for having the balls as a journalist to refute this op-ed published by his own NYT.  Hope his CV is in good shape. 

  • BBD

    Steve mosher

    your argument was that Hansen wasn’t mentally ill because if he was the general public would clearly reject his views.

    It wasn’t, but looking back I should have been more specific. I said this:

    If Hansen were “˜borderline paranoid/mentally ill’, you would expect a general and clear rejection of his views by the mainstream. Who are not, by definition, paranoid or mentally ill.

    And should have said this:

    If Hansen were “˜borderline paranoid/mentally ill’, you would expect a general and clear rejection of his views by the scientific mainstream. Who are not, by definition, paranoid or mentally ill.

    Where is the general and clear rejection of his views by the scientific mainstream?

  • BBD

    huxley

    Frankly, you come across as rather stupid on that account, which is yet another reason that you and the climate change crew strike me as another
    insular cult that will explode in a matter of years, like the previous proponents of eco-crises of the past.

    Okay, let’s try it the other way around :-)

  • BBD

    Steven mosher

    What do you make of Hansen’s latest empirical investigation?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I tend to think Hansen is sincere and really committed to his cause and I respect him for that. This makes it very easy for me to feel compassion for him right now.

    If I were as convinced as he is that equilibrium climate sensitivity was going to bite us so hard in the long term; if I had worked as hard as he has to make the case before policy makers and the public; if public policy had come so close to moving in his desired direction, only to fail at the last hurdle–I really think I would be figuratively speaking tearing my hear out and getting ready to howl at the moon.

    I actually think he’s been quite restrained.

    The paper BBD linked to at #101 pretty much shows the mountain Hansen has to climb. People experience weather, not climate and their memories of past weather are weak at best. No amount of spider graphs and standard deviations will shake their dimly recorded memory of hot childhood summers.

    He’s speaking the wrong language. 

  • BBD

    The paper BBD linked to at #101 pretty much shows the mountain Hansen has to climb. People experience weather, not climate and their memories
    of past weather are weak at best. No amount of spider graphs and standard deviations will shake their dimly recorded memory of hot childhood summers.

    He’s speaking the wrong language.

    There’s a discussion of the paper here which might be useful to the linguistically curious.

  • huxley

    BBD: I don’t do blind links and even less with emoticons. You are only reinforcing my impression that you are patronizing and unable to deal on a level playing field. Which was my point.

  • huxley

    I tend to think Hansen is sincere and really committed to his cause and I respect him for that. Likewise. Unless someone is manifestly barking mad or an upfront psychopath, I say leave the DSM discussions alone.

  • BBD

    huxley

    BBD: I don’t do blind links and even less with emoticons. You are only reinforcing my impression that you are patronizing and unable to deal on a level playing field. Which was my point.

    My apologies. Please see: Hansen et al. (2012) Public Perception of Climate Change and the New Climate Dice:

    Summary. Should the public be able to recognize that climate is changing, despite the notorious variability of weather and climate from day to day and year to year? We investigate how the probability of unusually warm seasons has changed in recent decades, with emphasis on summer, when changes are likely to have the greatest practical effects. We show that the odds of an unusually warm season have increased greatly over the past three decades, but also the shape of the frequency distribution has changed so as to enhance the likelihood of extreme events. A new category of hot summertime outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than climatology, has emerged, with the occurrence of these outliers having increased 1-2 orders of magnitude in the past three decades. Thus we can state with a high degree of confidence that extreme summers, such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, are a consequence of global warming, because global warming has dramatically increased their likelihood of occurrence.

    And the discussion linked at # 103.

  • BBD

    huxley

    Night night.

  • Tom Scharf

    There is no stronger image of someone being mentally ill than standing on a corner with a sign “The end is near”.

    I think Hansen believes in his predictions of doom a little too fervently, with 30 years of observations to indicate that he should at least be tempering the language a bit, instead he turns the volume up to 11.

    “game over for the climate”

    “sea level was at least 50 feet higher”

    “assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets”

    “accelerate out of control”

    “Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities”

    “Global temperatures would become intolerable”

    “Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction”

    “Civilization would be at risk”

    “Western United States…develop semi-permanent drought”

    “Economic losses would be incalculable”

    “Midwest would be a dust bowl”

    “Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels”

    Yet here we sit with business as usual CO2, decelerating temperatures and sea levels over the past twenty years.  And Hansen is spouting even more apocalyptic stuff as unqualified scientific fact than he was twenty years ago.  Observations are simply irrelevant to his paranoid fear of climate doom.  Plenty of really smart people have strange beliefs in certain areas, it kind of goes with the territory.

    I generally agree we shouldn’t kick the old man when he is down, but he is still in charge of NASA GISS and writing in the NYT.  I’m full of empathy, sympathy, and disgust here.  NASA needs better leadership.  Can’t Hansen be sent to a basement office with his big red stapler?

  • Steve Mennie

    Input your comments here…

    I must say that BBD sounds very pleasant and thoughtful and seriously interested in presenting the ‘correct’ side of the debate…Huxley sounds like the brat at playschool who is not interested in playing but in throwing the sandbox sand around..maybe a tough day or something. Sheesh. Mellow out man.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    I give kudos to harry-coal-bot for putting his mouth (if not his money) on the line with his peak coal prediction. Paging Brian Schmidt…

    Anybody who thinks that Hansen doesn’t bear paying attention to (Mosher) would do well to consider the accuracy of his 1981 prediction.

    In keeping with the theme of prediction I humbly offer the following. In the year 2020:

    -the most pessimistic SRES scenarios will prove false (in terms of fossil fuel emission rates). +1 for coal-bot

    -the airborne fraction will increase as sinks become saturated (see Canadell et al)

    -positive feedbacks will continue to be more rapid and substantial than AR4 estimates.

    -tom fuller and RPJr will still be upset.

  • Tom Scharf

    So in summary Marlowe, it’s worse than we thought.  How brave.

  • kdk33

    …and we will still have just enough time.  If we hurry, before it’s too late.  Can’t wait to be sure.; must act now.

  • harrywr2

    BBD,EIA forecasts the average delivered coal price in 2012 will be 2.8
    percent lower than the 2011 average price. EIA predicts the 2013 average
    delivered coal price to be $2.24 per MMBtu,
    EIA has been predicting declining coal prices for 40 years. They’ve been wrong for the last 12. Average coal price is also a meaningless number. The price of coal in Wyoming is less the $1/MMBtu. The price of coal in Florida is $4/MMBtu and above $3.50/MMBtu for US Eastern Seaboard.The average doesn’t tell much of a story…as those places where the economics of burning coal is marginal abandon burning coal.Transport of coal is expensive as trains run on oil and just yesterday the Saudi’s decided $100/barrel for oil is the ‘correct price’. The distance from Wyoming where coal is ‘economic’ to burn continues to shrink as oil prices rise.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    The use of coal for generating electricity will decline in the U.S. However, it will increase in China by more than the decline in the U.S. This should be incredibly obvious to everyone. It is born out by statistics. It is stated policy of both governments. It is the logical path for both countries.

    I cannot believe the amount of discussion it is generating.

  • Sashka

    @ 102

    People who stood on the streets with signs warning of the approaching end of the world were sincere and really committed to the cause. That doesn’t make them sane, does it?

    As a professional scientist, he should have know that he is talking crap (*). Does it make him a liar or cuckoo? I don’t really know. Take you pick.

    (*)
    1.Attribution of extreme weather to climate is highly uncertain. Based mostly on models that are not known to predict anything of significance correctly.
    2. Regional climate projections don’t work even in hindcasting experiments.
    3. Rising food prices and economic disasters predictions came straight out the rear end. (BTW, what are his economics credentials?) Simon”“Ehrlich wager taught him nothing. Is this a sign of dishonesty or madness? I don’t really know but I have an opinion.

  • DeNihilist

    Well Dr. Hansen can now hopefully turn his gaze away from our oil sands and start attacking in his own land. Seems that you in the U.S. have a cache of oil that even if the half that is viably extractable right now, is larger then ALL OF THE KNOWN reserves in the rest of the world. Will he, or is Dr. Hansen just a propagandist protectionist?

     http://cnsnews.com/news/article/gao-recoverable-oil-colorado-utah-wyoming-about-equal-entire-world-s-proven-oil

  • BBD

    Sashka

    Re your point 1/. you are indulging in misdirection. This is not, and never was, only about models. And Hansen has just demonstrated the link between CC and exceptionally hot summers empirically. See links at # 101 and # 103.

    Your point 2/. is overstated and essentially meaningless: some regions will be worse affected by CC than others. It’s not good news however you parse it.

    Your point 3/. is in totally unsupported disagreement with the entire recent literature on the subject.

    This is an extremely flimsy basis on which to accuse Hansen of dishonesty and madness. I’m surprised and saddened to see you do so.

  • BBD

    harrywr2; Tom Fuller

    The reason it gets airtime (Tom) is that harry seems to imply that the problem will just correct itself because coal is getting more expensive and I disagree strongly. I will not rehearse the argument again here. Like Marlowe, I believe harry is right that the worst SRES scenarios will probably not be realised, but this is far, far short of averting potentially very dangerous warming.

    DeNihilist

    Will he, or is Dr. Hansen just a propagandist protectionist?

    More baseless ad hominem. Of course Hansen is opposed to extracting shale oil from the Green River formation. Please see # 28 for nuance.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    BBD, markets do love pricing signals. If you’ve made your disagreement with Harry before, I certainly didn’t see it. Is there a real reason why you think a) the U.S. will reduce coal consumption and b) China will not?

  • BBD

    Tom

    The exchange on this thread is a bit spread out. Please see # 38, 41, 56, 57, 76, 77, 79, 80, 81. I can’t remember on which thread harry and I were discussing this last or I’d link to it.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I’m not going to do that, BBD, so I guess I’ll have to continue in blissful ignorance on that topic.

  • BBD

    From Marlowe Johnson @ 110:

    -the airborne fraction will increase as sinks become saturated (see Canadell et al)

    -positive feedbacks will continue to be more rapid and substantial than AR4 estimates.

    There’s an interesting and reasonably succinct examination of the way carbon sinks may influence future change in the airborne fraction of CO2 here.

  • BBD

    Tom @ 121

    I guess I’ll have to continue in blissful ignorance on that topic.

    Plus ça change.

    Your say elsewhere:

    There are actually two theories involved in climate science. The first, the greenhouse theory postulating a 1C rise in temperatures as a result of a doubling of the concentrations of CO2, is widely accepted and non-controversial.

    The second is that the atmosphere is preternaturally sensitive to forcings and that temperatures will increase far more than the 1C caused by CO2. This theory is not as well-grounded in either observation or model performance.

    ‘Preternaturally’ sensitive is an interesting way of putting it. Perhaps ‘moderately’ sensitive is a better description given what we know about both paleoclimate and recent climate variability.

    Insensitive climate systems are unresponsive to minor changes in forcings. We must ponder this carefully. Who knows where it might lead?

    :-)

  • BBD

    Tom

    After some thought, I’m going to object to your # 121 further. Your refusal to glance back over the thread, despite having a list of relevant comments in hand is uninspiring. It’s not what I would do for you.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    But I wouldn’t do that to you, BBD. If I’m going to make a point, I try and make it–not refer to six different comments. If it took you six comments to make the point, it would be good discipline as well as good manners to distill it into one good one.

  • BBD

    # 79

    harrywr2

    Reality does indeed bat last. I will happily agree with that. I think you have a point about coal price/availability but whether not being the cheapest is enough to disallow future use is a very moot point indeed (baseload alternatives NG, SG and nuclear have a spectrum of security of supply/resource depletion and plant cost issues).

    I see the lack of viable alternatives making coal-fired baseload more expensive, but not substantially reducing its share of the energy mix. Certainly not by enough to make the case that we need do nothing and the market will correct the coal (*or gas*) emissions problem on its own.

    It would have been good manners just to have reviewed the relevant comments.

  • BBD

    The manifest bad faith is souring my mood and it’s bedtime here in Blighty.

    Good night, Tom.

  • steven mosher

    BBD. Hansens results on hot summers is strictly speaking not reproduceable. Looking at the same question he did with more data, better data, I can tell you that his results don’t hold up.
    Personally, I wouldnt take anything he says WRT to the temperature record seriously. he is not very careful in his work. That is not to say there isnt something to be said about extremes. rather, hansen said it poorly. his results dont hold up. A better approach may show something.

  • BBD

    Yeah right Steve. Please communicate your concerns to Hansen directly and let us know how you get on.

  • BBD

    Better yet, write up a formal reply. In fact you must.

  • Marlowe Johnson
  • harrywr2

    #136,I see the lack of viable alternatives making coal-fired baseload more
    expensive, but not substantially reducing its share of the energy mix.
    Certainly not by enough to make the case that we need do nothing and the
    market will correct the coal
    If there isn’t a viable commercial alternative then there is nothing one can do about coal. Humanity will not chose to live without energy.New conventional coal baseload with coal priced at $4/MMBtu ends up costing about $120/Mwh. New nuclear costs the same.The only problem is that ‘old conventional coal’ baseload with coal at $4/MMbtu can produce electricity for about $60/Mwh as there is no ‘capital’ left to be repaid.Eventually those old plants either need very expensive refurbishment or are retired. In the US we will lose something like 25% of our coal baseload in the next 10 years.

  • BBD

    harrywr2

    Yes, understood. What I don’t see is where you are going here. What percentage of coal do you think we will see in the *global* energy mix in, say, 2030?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @BBD,Based on his previous comments, I suspect Harry is trying to overplay the significance of coal prices, as he sees it as a convenient foil for climate ‘alarmism’. However, as I suggested @ 110, there are a number of other factors at play that may seriously challenge his pollyannish attitude. Of course he, like Fuller and Mosher, may be worm food by the time the shit really starts to hit the fan…

  • BBD

    Marlowe

    Yes. I noticed you mentioned Canadell and positive feedbacks. Good news everywhere you look. And the ‘sceptics’ wonder why they occasionally get short shrift.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    BBD, liquid fuels are more or less fungible. Oil prices are close to the same globally, with differences determined as much by quality as anything else. Other fuels are at best regional. 

    Demand is relatively inelastic, which is why economies go into recession when there are oil crises. People spend money on fuel rather than other things and are poorer as a result.

    This is why everybody who is modeling energy keeps readjusting their figures every couple of years–because they think that supply constraints are the controlling factor. However, as Harry obviously knows and you obviously do not, demand is the key variable. People, companies and governments can and do shift fuel source in relatively short time frames in response to price signals–but mostly due to signals of availability. People have known for a long time that natural gas was cleaner than coal, but change didn’t start to happen until everybody understood that there were sufficient quantities to make it a realistic option.

    Nobody is married to coal except coal producers and their political supporters. This is why in the U.S. coal is being abandoned rapidly and natural gas is being adopted rapidly. Natural gas is cheaper. 

    The EPA has given a nudge to help this push. Quite an appropriate one, targeting future construction of coal. But the change is motivated by price and availability as much as perceived regulatory preference.

  • BBD

    Careful with that patronisation Tom. You might cut yourself. I think you would have been better advised to read the relevant comments yesterday, as I suggested. Gas isn’t going to displace coal *globally*. That’s why I asked what harry’s take on the share of coal in the *global* energy mix in around 2030. I know you think you are an energy expert as well as a climate whizz, but don’t get carried away. A polite warning.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    My point is BBD, that although Harry might have insights on how much coal will be mined, sold and burnt, it isn’t a global metric. It would be an amalgamation of regional strategies. Oil has a global market. Coal does not.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @137

    But BBD Tom is an energy expert. He’s got plenty of super-secret reports that people pay him to write. They’re so amazing that he is, of course, unable to share them with us mere mortals.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    For drunken idiots unable to click on my name…http://3000quads.com/ 

  • BBD

    Tom

    –  By what percentage has the estimated reserve of SG from the Marcellus deposit recently been reduced?

    – By what percentage was estimated total US SG reserves reduced in 2011?

    – What is the estimated percentage increase in 2035 over 2010 of the share of gas in US electricity generation?

    – How much do you want to bet that further reductions in estimated US SG reserves will result from improved geological survey data?

    I know the answers to all bar the last, but over-hypers of SG need to be made to type them out regularly. They also need to reflect on what might happen to the price of gas over the next several years. And on how long gas can power an *increased* share of US electricity generation. 

  • BBD

    @ 138

    Oh, so nobody imports coal?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    BBD, looks to me like you already know everything you want to know. Something skeptics are regularly accused of, but I have rarely found to be the case in real conversation. It’s the climate-committed who are pretty set in their ways.But hey–if anyone can play, here are a couple of questions for you:1. Who is hyping shale gas? Not anybody I’ve seen in this thread.2. Why would anybody ask for predictions on pricing of shale gas or its longevity as a major fuel source without listing relevant assumptions about regulatory preferences (esp. in Europe), technology (conversion of fleets to LPG, for example), macro-economic conditions, treatment of shale oil, etc.?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    142, Yes… countries do import coal. Other countries even export coal.

    What part of ‘regional’ do you find difficult to understand? Even if the U.S. exports large amounts of coal to China–it will still be a regional, not a global response to market conditions… Sigh.

  • BBD

    Estimates of US SG *peak production* centre around 2020 with a sharp and immediate decline thereafter. True or false?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    145: True, false and none of the above. You need to list assumptions.

  • BBD

    Just trying to get to the heart of the problem Tom: your non-acknowledgement that coal isn’t going to just phase itself out. Flawed price argument. Regional vs global market misdirection. Non-acknowledgement of relative reserve sizes. Sigh

  • BBD

    Stop being evasive.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I think the heart of the problem is on the other side of the conversation, actually. Of course I would, wouldn’t I? But you actually don’t seem interested in having a conversation at all.

  • BBD

    141 and 145. Answers.

  • BBD

    And stop editorialising.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Let’s try one more time, shall we?

    The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration estimates there are 2,543 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of technically recoverable natural gas in the United States. The National Petroleum Council estimated there were 1,451 Tcf remaining in the U.S.  According to this 2007 report, advances in technology could bring natural gas resources to 1,887 Tcf by 2017.The Potential Gas Committee estimates 2,170.3 Tcf.

    Pick one.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates Ukraine has around 42 trillion cubic feet of shale gas reserves.

    China estimates recent finds at 25 tcf. The UK estimates 10 tcf.

    How would you like to create a matrix of import/exports on this, especially as the totals get revised monthly?

    Natural gas prices in May of 2011 were $4.50 mmbtu. Today they are $2.36 mmbtu. What price do you pick for long term average? How do you think the spot price will affect investment decisions regarding new wells? 

    Here in the U.S., we may reach capacity for storage this year. How do you think that will affect investment decisions?

    I don’t think you understand this subject very well.

  • BBD

    Evasion and misdirection. Using up-to-date sources:

    –  By what percentage has the estimated reserve of SG from the Marcellus deposit recently been reduced?

    66%

    – By what percentage was estimated total US SG reserves reduced in 2011?

    42%

    – What is the estimated percentage increase in 2035 over 2010 of the share of gas in US electricity generation?

    3%The last figure is of particular interest to those of us who don’t believe that industrialised economies can be powered by fairy dust.

  • BBD

    Coal isn’t just going to go away Tom. There isn’t a viable alternative.

    I understand this subject well enough to see that you are using specious arguments about coal vs gas price, about regional trade and about the size of SG reserves.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I don’t think you understand this subject very well.

  • BBD

    And I think you are being evasive.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    In fact, I must say that your habit of casually tossing links out that you think reinforces your point pretty much matches your argumentation style regarding climate topics, especially those regarding equilibrium climate sensitivity.

    I have already pretty much assumed you don’t know very much about that, either.

  • BBD

    Tom, the latest estimate is that gas will increase its share of US electricity generation by just 3% by 2035.

    3%

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    155, I don’t recall ever saying that coal was going away. I have written repeatedly here and elsewhere that China’s current consumption of coal provides 70% of their primary energy. Their energy consumption will more than double by 2030. The percentage of coal used will drop–but only to 64%.

    The world will be using a lot of coal for the forseeable future. However, in the U.S. the use of coal for generating electricity will most probably continue to decline.

  • BBD

    But not by enough to make a blind bit of difference to global emissions. Which was my original beef with harry, and which you would have understood if you had had the good grace to review our exchange as I suggested.

    Now I see that you are editorialising once more in an effort to distract.

    All you have done is succeed in reminding me to link to # 123 so that anyone who missed it can have a look at your tripe.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I believe that increased uptake of natural gas will certainly have an effect on U.S. emissions of CO2. I believe in fact that it has already contributed to a reduction of U.S. emissions of CO2, which declined 300 million metric tons (from 5.6 to 5.3 GT CO2 equivalent) last year, a year that saw rising GDP, rising population and rising energy consumption.Quit putting words in my mouth BBD. Oh yeah–that’s what you fools do–might as well tell a snake not to bite.

  • BBD

    Of course the economic situation had no effect on US emissions. You can ‘believe’ what you like Tom. It doesn’t make you right, or persuasive. Same applies to your odd notions about climate sensitivity.

  • BBD

    And Tom, for the last time – the I have been talking about *global* coal use and *global* emissions. Last mentioned at # 137 IIRC. Stop trying to confuse people by going on and on and on about the US. The US is not the world, Tom.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thanks for the update, BBD. I’ll fix my map.

    As natural gas reserves are discovered and developed worldwide, its use for electricity generation will help lower CO2 emissions on a larger scale.

    As for being U.S.-centric in my observations, there are a number of reasons. First, the U.S. is the second largest consumer of energy and emitter of CO2. What happens here makes a difference. Second, the U.S. has been repeatedly called on by the world community to increase its efforts. Hence, evidence that it has increased its efforts should be welcome. Third, the U.S. currently leads in extraction technology wrt natural gas. While we may not export large volumes of natural gas in future (who knows?),we will probably export technology expertise and help other countries bring gas up to help them reduce their CO2 emissions. Innit great?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    I take no pleasure in this BBD. Really I don’t. Ok maybe a little. ;-)

  • BBD

    TF

    As natural gas reserves are discovered and developed worldwide, its use for electricity generation will help lower CO2 emissions on a larger scale.

    You mean *shale gas* reserves. Such a lot is being claimed for SG, and invariably by people who ignore the fact that it’s *not* a game-changer on emissions. Yet to hear them talk…

    First, the U.S. is the second largest consumer of energy and emitter of CO2. What happens here makes a difference.

    The latest estimate is that gas will increase its share of US electricity generation by *just 3%* by 2035. Gas isn’t going to make much difference Tom. In the US or globally.

    Second, the U.S. has been repeatedly called on by the world community to increase its efforts. Hence, evidence that it has increased its efforts should be welcome.

    Shale gas extraction is not being done to reduce emissions. It is being done for profit. And it’s *not and emissions game changer*. It’s very telling that you should misrepresent it like this. Insightful.

  • BBD

    Fine Marlowe. Let’s scrap the nukes and build coal-fired plant.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    hell no. i’d rather have ground source heat pumps supplemented with gerbil power.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    167, you sound a bit confused. Why would anyone care about motives with regards to bringing new energy solutions to market? Do you think that Vestas does not wish it were making a profit on wind turbines or that SunPower is not trying to make a profit from solar?You also seem to think that changing the game is important. The game is not going to change. People will try to make a profit by bringing energy to market cheaper than the other fellow. What is actually important is changing the playing field. In this regard, governments can be useful by forcing suppliers to formally account for negative externalities, such as CO2 emissions, etc. Innovative companies can contribute by physically changing the playing field, adding deep  waters or deep rock formations and making the playing field more three dimensional.Most importantly, changing the playing field does indeed change the game, just as higher or lower baskets would in basketball, or a larger field change football.Finally and most importantly, changing either the game or the playing field does not depend (nor should it) on one element alone. Shale gas will bend the curve on CO2 emissions at a time when that is important. It joins hybrid and electric cars, solar and wind power, combined heat and gas, ground source heat pumps, wood pellets,waste generation, energy conservation technology, education and habit changing, policy initiatives and legislation.It will take all of these elements to devise a winning strategy. Shale gas has an important role to play.

  • BBD

    167, you sound a bit confused.

    No Tom. I sound honest.

  • BBD

    Marlowe

    I’m more persuaded by the potential of hamsters, myself. And gerbils are vicious little buggers, too.

  • hunter

    @171 Tom,As for ‘externalities’, what about the destruction of landscape and open spaces by huge windmill farms or large solar arrays? What about the tax payer direct operating subsidies that have to be granted to wind and solar everywhere those power sources are used? Not to mention the need for rapidly available backup power for cloudy or windless weather? solar and wind have not failed due to lack of trying. they fail because they don’t work well. Taxing carbon fuel for alleged problems that do not appear to be extreme to benefit power sources taht don’t work well does not seem to be a winning policy. and as has been shown in Europe and thee US, the political class cannot seem to restrain itself from feeding the required subsidies to their pals. IOW, I believe it is reasonable to question the idea itself of externalities as used by those pushing it regarding carbon based energy. If we are going to clean up energy, we should do it based on actual pollution. Not subjectively assigned impacts.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Hunter, solar and wind are not perfect solutions. They are just pieces of the puzzle. Large arrays can be unsightly and eat up space if they are not correctly sited. Nobody sane is thinking of either solar or wind as more than a 25% contributor to total grid, precisely for the reasons you’ve mentioned. That will change when storage changes, not before.

    Their costs are coming down and as I have mentioned repeatedly, solar should achieve grid parity by 2015, at which point we’ll start patting ourselves on the back for having supported it with subsidies.

    I have no problems with looking at associated externalities with any or all energy sources. As I’m trying to convince BBD, all of this evolves into a horses for courses type of argument. I firmly believe we will be using all available energy sources, from coal to rubbing together two dry thoughts. We’re going to need a lot of energy. 

    I just think we need to plan the portfolio. How much of which?

  • harrywr2

    BBD,The latest estimate is that gas will increase its share of US electricity generation by *just 3%* by 2035Year 2000 EIA projection …..ftp://tonto.eia.doe.gov/forecasting/03832000.pdfThe average minemouth price of coalfalls by 0.7 percent a year to $15.05 per ton in 2020……Domestic coal demand rises by 236 million tons inthe forecast, from 1,043 million tons in 1998 to 1,279million tons in 2020….average coal transportationrates decline by 0.9 percent a year between1998 and 2020.They got the direction of the price wrong, the direction of consumption wrong and the direction of coal transportation rates wrong.US EIA Long term projections are worthless.They assume something called ‘Business As Usual’…which is something similar in nature to ‘Big Foot’ and the ‘Loch Ness Monster’….business as usual in the ‘real world’ is adapting to changing circumstances. That’s the problem with the ‘climate debate’…the base assumption is that ‘nothing changes’. Something is always changing…that’s what ‘business as usual is’.

  • DeNihilist

    Double B single D. Ad hominum yes.

  • BBD

    harrywr2

    US EIA Long term projections are worthless.

    Just because EIA got it wrong in 2000 does not mean to say that it is wrong in 2012. That is called ‘false equivalence’. 

    You imply that EIA is using a broken BAU model and has not learned from its previous mistakes. This is clearly false:

    The average minemouth price of coal increases by 1.4 percent per year in the AEO2012 Reference case, from $1.76 per million Btu in 2010 to $2.51 per million Btu in 2035 (2010 dollars). The upward trend of coal prices primarily reflects an expectation that cost savings from technological improvements in coal mining will be outweighed by increases in production costs associated with moving into reserves that are more costly to mine. The coal price outlook in the AEO2012 Reference case represents a change from the AEO2011 Reference case, where coal prices were essentially flat.

    The early release EIA AEO2012 shows coal projected to account for 39% of US electricity generation in 2035 (down 10% on 2007) *but* CO2 emissions are projected to grow by 3% by 2035. This is a splendid reduction in growth, but what is required is a net reduction in emissions.

    My feeling from our discussion (let’s set TF’s interruptions aside for now) is that you somehow see this picture as reassuring when it clearly isn’t. 

    This is all the more so in terms of global emissions growth. The faltering US economy is no longer a useful guide to the future. Perhaps we should be looking at Indonesia.

  • BBD

    TF

    As I’m trying to convince BBD, all of this evolves into a horses for courses type of argument.

    If you’d just RTFT in the first place… Although this sudden access of reasonableness is a good way of clawing up out of the hole.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I’m not exactly trying to get into your good graces, BBD. At the very least you need to show me that you can engage in a serious discussion in your own words as opposed to sprinkling links to things that are not always strictly related to the issue. You seem to think that those links should settle a discussion as opposed to providing a frame of reference or support. Like many others who attempt to engage you, I have read many of the things you link to. If they were sufficient to settle the discussion, we’d be doing something else, I imagine.

  • BBD

    If you’d read *and understood* links provided to elucidate and frame our discussion of ECS you wouldn’t come out with the nonsense that you do.

    Your ongoing attempt to make the fault appear mine – # 179 being the latest of many such – is duly noted. I wonder if you understand just how slippery and disingenuous you come off. You are transparently much more the ‘sceptic’ than the sceptic. You shouldn’t wonder that you meet resistance. You deserve it.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    BBD, I understand the concept of equilibrium climate sensitivity. I don’t agree with your exposition of it–or rather the links you throw at everyone instead of an exposition.

    I don’t really give a fig about how I come off. So far anyhow, I look at who’s ‘resisting’ me and I’m quite pleased at the lack of quality of those who are doing so. That includes you, btw.

    If there were a place in my resume to put “Elicits enraged and idiotic commentary from people ranging from Secular Animist and dhogaza to Eli Rabett, Marlowe Johnson and BBD” I would cheerfully do so.

  • BBD

    You may understand the concept Tom, but not the way in which its likely value has been estimated. This, as I have remarked before, is not *my* estimate, it is the most likely value according to mainstream scientific opinion. Your disagreement is an irrelevance, as you would realise if you were not blinded by profoundly misguided self-importance. As for the relative quality of our commentary, I think you need to leave that to others to judge.

  • BBD

    And Tom, you haven’t explained how known paleoclimate behaviour squares with a low ECS. Insensitive climate systems do not respond much to small changes in forcings.

    Or is this too complicated for you?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I actually believe I understand how ECS has been estimated. I think that estimates are grossly inadequate. I don’t think there is a clear understanding of forcing elements, their scope and sign, their periodicity. I don’t think these things are unknowable. I think however they are currently not known. 

    I certainly do not consider myself important, either in the climate debate or in the wider world outside it. So perhaps it is your perception that is misguided… 

    As for judging the quality of our commentary, who will judge the judges themselves? Oh, wait–I volunteer.

  • BBD

    I think that estimates are grossly inadequate.

    Sigh. 

    Now why don’t you explain the little problem we have at # 183?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Very simply BBD. I think there is a lot we do not know about paleoclimate behaviour.

  • BBD

    We know that it was *variable* Tom. This is pathetic. There is no other word.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    If there is no other word, then

  • steveg

    @174, Tom FullerTheir costs are coming down and as I have mentioned repeatedly, solar
    should achieve grid parity by 2015, at which point we’ll start patting
    ourselves on the back for having supported it with subsidies.
    Can you point me to where you have discussed this (with underlying assumptions)?I am trying to wrap my head around this; but most of the discussions that I have seen about solar grid parity have (what I consider to be) unrealistic assumptions.  For example:  it is not uncommon to see payoff time frames of 30 years for a home solar installation in this discussion.  In a world where a shingle roof has to be replaced after around 20 years, any time frame longer than this is (in my opinion) naive.Thanks.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Hi Steveg, I forget which threads it was on, but I have written about it several times. The assumptions are: Grid parity for me is half of all residences in high insolation states generating solar power at same or lower rate without subsidy.My model on how it happens: Modules drop from current 0.70 to 0.55, inverters from 2200 to 1450 and permitting from 2500/system to 1500. Installation creeps down due to compeition.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Keith, It is not cute when Tom Fuller does his daily drive by on Eli, Joe Romm and Tim Lambert.  This place has already suffered by the asymmetry of your moderation.  Don’t make it worse than it is.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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