Climate "Skeptics" Respond to the Scientists' Letter to Congress

By Chris Mooney | February 9, 2011 7:52 am

The other day I praised the well written and well framed letter to Congress by a group of top climate scientists. Well, now there’s a response from a group of climate “skeptics” that is…less well written:

In light of the profusion of actual observations of the workings of the real world showing little or no negative effects of the modest warming of the second half of the twentieth century, and indeed growing evidence of positive effects, we find it incomprehensible that the eighteen climate alarmists could suggest something so far removed from the truth as their claim that no research results have produced any evidence that challenges their view of what is happening to Earth’s climate and weather.

Huh?

If there is a central argument to this new letter, it is that Congress should ignore climate models and focus on empirical “data”–which is a false choice. Also, there’s the “argument from massive footnoting”:

Do the 678 scientific studies referenced in the CO2 Science document, or the thousands of studies cited in the NIPCC report, provide real-world evidence (as opposed to theoretical climate model predictions) for global warming-induced increases in the worldwide number and severity of floods? No. In the global number and severity of droughts? No. In the number and severity of hurricanes and other storms? No.

Does the sheer number of references you provide matter? No.

There will be some who seize upon the new “skeptics” letter to bolster their conviction that climate change isn’t anything to worry about. But I began by giving praise to a good example of communication, an earnest attempt to open new minds rather than rehash old my-facts-vs-your-facts debates–and I’ll definitely stand by that, now that I’ve seen the “other side.”

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Comments (18)

  1. Steven

    There are a few problems with your comments. First, you seem to say that their number of references doesn’t matter. The reason they include all of the literature references is that in the first letter we were told “no research results have produced any evidence that challenges the overall scientific understanding of what is happening to our planet’s climate and why. ” That is why they include the research to show that this is not true.

    I don’t understand how focusing on the data is a false choice.

    In short: the “alarmists” like to claim that there’s zero chance that they are wrong. The “skeptics” like to point out that there are other explanations. Which sounds more scientific to you?

  2. What other explanations (other than “it’s natural” – because that isn’t one) are skeptics saying? Or better yet, what better explanations other than increasing amount of greenhouse gases have yet to be offered with proof?

  3. TTT

    That first paragraph is oxymoronic drivel. If you actually parse out the dozen or so clauses in that one giant sentence, it says “Scientists were wrong to say that the observed warming has had bad effects instead of good effects, so why should we believe them when they say there has been observed warming?”

    And the second is just another example of the Easterbrook / Lomborg / Crichton / Monckton tradition of trying to drown the truth under an avalanche of citations regardless of what the cited papers actually say. Scientists provide sources because they want you to see what’s in them; denialists do the exact opposite.

  4. Myself

    Steven, while I would agree that saying “no research results” have shown anything else is not quite correct, the problem is that what little research has been done that departs from the consensus has not passed even basic checks for validity. Some have had severe methodological flaws that make the results meaningless or were deliberate attempts to cherry-pick out-of-context data(Lindzen comes to mind here), others have lacked a theoretical framework or use theories that make predictions exactly opposite of all the observational data (Spencer and his swapping between “it’s the sun” and “it’s the clouds” is a good example).

    The problem is that contrary to what the deniers’ letter seeks to imply, the mainstay of the backing for the theories underpinning anthropogenic global warming is mounds of data from dozens of independent lines of evidence combined with uncontroversial well-understood principles of matter interactions (such as the radiative properties of CO2), NOT untested models. The models are projections that help us to understand the consequences of certain assumptions (such as the amount of anthropogenic CO2 in future years), but before they can even be used for that they have to validate against the hard data. The deniers’ insistence on following data and not models is bankrupt because the data all points in one direction anyway (and it isn’t their direction) and the models are just ways to help us understand its implications better.

    In short: the “realists” (they aren’t alarmists) don’t claim that there’s zero chance that they’re wrong, but that the framework is solid enough to make some pretty strong guesses with little margin for error and that if you want to say they’re wrong you have to show precisely how and why in a way that explains the data better, while the “deniers” (they cannot plausibly clame to be skeptics) are trying to play nasty smear campaigns to win in the political and public opinion realms because they have lost so thoroughly in every avenue of the scientific domain.

  5. Nullius in Verba

    #4,

    Interesting approach. Virtually everything you say in your first paragraph is true of consensus climate science, too. But as the climate scientists say: “you have to pick cherries to make cherry pie”.

    I’m always fascinated by these “mounds of data” that everybody says exist. (Sometimes they have “piles”.) I’ve never found them, despite asking numerous times. You get plenty to show recent warming, but it’s a lot harder to find anything to show that it is anthropogenic. Have they actually seen it, and are just hiding it from me, or are they merely taking other people’s word for it that such mounds exist, and have not personally bothered to check?

  6. Sean McCorkle

    @5

    Well, for CO2 spectroscopic data, looking at pp. 19-22 of this one reference list , I count 63 references to papers concerning spectral line measurements. I’m not sure what your idea of “mounds” are, and I’m not sure I want to spend weeks pouring through old issues of spectroscopy journals to try to satisfy what I suspect will be a moving target from you. Much of this is so old that it predates PDF versions at many publishers. As for the physics of radiative transfer and how its applied to the atmospheric, this is bread-and-butter stuff found in grad-level or advanced undergraduate textbooks these days. A search for “molecular spectroscopy” and “atmospheric spectroscopy” at amazon or wherever turns up quite a few.

  7. Nullius in Verba

    #6,

    Why would you think I have any sort of problem with radiative transfer or molecular spectroscopy?

  8. Sean McCorkle

    @7

    I’m not sure what you have a problem with, to be honest. #4 mentioned radiative properties of CO2, which seems like a good place to start, being well understood and therefore a good foundation on which to build the case.

    But, you know, rather than spend a lot of time and effort building a case which you’ll probably reject anyway, if you aren’t satisfied with the existing evidence that fossil fuels are causing global warming, and if you’re really interested in determining whether or not they are the cause, let me again suggest that we conduct a direct experiment: stop burning fossil fuels for a few decades and monitor what happens to global temperatures.

  9. Nullius in Verba

    #8,

    I think it would probably take a lot more time and effort than you’ve got, even if you could do it at all. I’ve been studying the question for a couple of years now, and like I said, I’ve yet to find the evidence to support a high confidence that the observed 50-year rise is mostly anthropogenic, let alone that the projections are correct. I do know about the physics of radiative transfer, but there’s a lot more to the AGW mechanism than radiation and CO2 spectra, and those bits aren’t generally perceived as being the problem.

    But trying to get you to produce the evidence wasn’t my aim – although it would be marvellous if you could. My point was about whether the widespread view that there were “mounds” of evidence was based on having seen it and checked that it did indeed constitute evidence for the claim, or whether people were simply taking other people’s word for most of it. From the way you thought that spectroscopic data for CO2 was a good place to start, I don’t have a high confidence that you know how the greenhouse effect really works on a technical level, or what the sceptic arguments actually are, which suggests you’re taking people’s word for it. (The pure radiative greenhouse mechanism as described in the standard presentations to the public predicts an average surface temperature on Earth of 60 C, which is obviously falsified by observation. The way it really works is a bit different.) I don’t know, I might be wrong about why you believe, and it’s not that I think that – with due caution – it’s necessarily a bad thing to do, but it isn’t a basis for calling anyone who disagrees with it ‘anti-science’ or whatever.

    And by providing a better explanation of the physics, I’ve persuaded sceptics who were formerly dubious about it that the greenhouse effect is real. So it’s not as if we’ve all got closed minds.

    For your direct experiment – besides the obvious point that the experiment imposes the very costs we’re arguing against the world having to face – there’s a problem with the science too. It wouldn’t answer the question anyway. Without CO2 increase, both hypotheses predict similar-looking ranges of possible outcomes, so whatever happens, neither would be falsified. The only way you could test it is to try an experiment where the hypotheses make different predictions – such as quadrupling CO2 emissions and seeing what happens to the temperature.

  10. Sean McCorkle

    For your direct experiment – besides the obvious point that the experiment imposes the very costs we’re arguing against the world having to face

    Can you prove this “obvious point” that it would impose costs and not do the opposite? Given all of the money to be made from new opportunities by switching over to new and diverse energy sources? That energy costs for the consumer won’t be much cheaper as a result? That it would not be a relief from the heavy costs imposed by a mono-fuel system?

    there’s a problem with the science too. It wouldn’t answer the question anyway.

    Huh?

    Without CO2 increase, both hypotheses predict similar-looking ranges of possible outcomes, so whatever happens, neither would be falsified. The only way you could test it is to try an experiment where the hypotheses make different predictions – such as quadrupling CO2 emissions and seeing what happens to the temperature.

    Its quite simple, really. The question is “will global temperatures continue to climb if fossil fuel-carbon is no longer added to the atmosphere for a sufficient time period?” If it does, then we will know something else which is not due to fossil fuels is causing the heating. We can also continue to monitor atmospheric CO2 levels during the same period. If CO2 levels don’t rise, yet temperature does, that would rule out CO2-greenhousing as a mechanism for the heating. However, if CO2 levels continue to rise as before, it remains a candidate for the heating mechanism, but we could focus on finding what the source(s) of the CO2 buildup are.

  11. Nullius in Verba

    “Given all of the money to be made from new opportunities by switching over to new and diverse energy sources?”

    That sounds a lot like Bastiat’s “Broken Windows” fallacy.

    There is no money to be made by switching from cheap and already implemented sources to expensive, unreliable, and yet-to-be-built sources. It costs money and resources to build them. It costs money to connect them to the grid. It costs money and wasted energy to store and release the energy during those periods when the supply does not equal the demand, or to back it up with fossil energy generation.

    And after you have spent all that money, you will at best have returned to where we are now, in terms of energy supply. You’ll have spent a lot more money, and be getting exactly the same amount of energy for it. That’s all money/effort you could have spent on something else, and that now you won’t get.

    The net effect is that you create jobs in the alternative energy industry, destroy a greater number of jobs and wealth elsewhere to pay for it, and make mankind as a whole poorer. It is tantamount to claiming that going round and smashing everybody’s windows stimulates the economy through all the money to be made in the glass-making industry. The economics of this approach were understood over 165 years ago.

    “If it does, then we will know something else which is not due to fossil fuels is causing the heating.”

    No, if it does, it will be claimed that this is the famous “heat in the pipeline”. It’s a standard part of the AGW position that even if CO2 emissions stopped overnight, the temperature trend would still go up for a long time. Heat in the pipeline is necessary to explain the massive gap between prediction and observation. If doubling CO2 increases temperature by 3.5 C, then increasing CO2 by 40% should increase temperature by about half that, or 1.75 C. While CO2 has risen 40% over the 20th century, the observed temperature rise has only been about 0.7 C. One of the excuses they have used to explain this is that there is a time lag, in which rises in temperature take a number of years to occur. The 1.75 C is called the equilibrium rise, and the 0.7 C is the transient rise. Because it takes several years to reach equilibrium, the temperature will keep on going up even with no CO2.

    (Or it could all be an ad hoc epicycle added on to save the theory. I think you can guess my opinion.)

    And of course if it doesn’t, this will be called short-term internal variability masking the rise temporarily, as it has been with the fairly flat record since 2000. That explanation also applies to the possibility of a rise, but I’m sure the ‘pipeline’ claim will be made if they can.

  12. Sean McCorkle

    That sounds a lot like Bastiat’s “Broken Windows” fallacy.

    Um, no. In Bastiat’s parable, the window is not a money-making commodity. A better analogy would be a window factory that is upgraded or replaced, to manufacture more, or different kinds of windows, more efficiently. The conversion cost is then recouped by the sale of more windows.

    There is no money to be made by switching from cheap and already implemented sources to expensive, unreliable, and yet-to-be-built sources.

    huh?

    It costs money and resources to build them. It costs money to connect them to the grid.

    Just as it cost money to build and connect up the existing energy infrastructure, yet power companies seem to be making money just fine in spite of that. Actually, new energy source startups have an added advantage: a pretty impressive power grid ALREADY exists which the entrepreneurs can leverage by locating generators near main lines or trunks initially, and then reinvesting the profits in longer-range connections.

    It costs money and wasted energy to store and release the energy during those periods when the supply does not equal the demand, or to back it up with fossil energy generation.

    The storage problem is a technical one which can be solved—indeed there are many solutions on the board already. And even power companies will tell you that smart appliances will enormously help the load imbalance problem, enough so to justify large investments in distant sources and the extended power lines to reach them.

    And after you have spent all that money, you will at best have returned to where we are now, in terms of energy supply. You’ll have spent a lot more money, and be getting exactly the same amount of energy for it.

    Well that will have to happen anyway when fossil fuels are exhausted. But if more energy is made available at the right cost in the process, people will buy it and make use of it. There are a lot of processes which are energy limited—two which spring immediately to mind are separation of aluminum from bauxite (raw ore routinely gets shipped to the locales with the cheapest electricity) and desalination of sea water.

    Hmm, that 2.2 trillion euro figure in the link you give is a bit more—two orders of magnitude higher, actually—than this figure here. In addition to what appears to be an enormous uncertainty or disagreement in the estimate, its erroneous to talk about costs only. The US has over 3000 ocean oil rigs, and they cost, what, $100 million a pop? Thats a $3e11 outlay right there, yet somehow the oil companies manage to make money. And those rigs don’t last forever – they have to make new ones all the time.

    Which leads to another error in the Bastiat analogy. Unlike his window, many systems and components in the existing infrastructure are deteriorating and will have to be remade or repurchased ANYWAY. From oil rigs to appliances. Since the money is going to buy something new, it can be spent on new technologies just as well as on old technologies. If someone’s going to buy a new washing machine, they can buy a smart one just as easily. If they buy a new car, they can buy a fuel-efficient biofuel-compatible diesel just as easily.

    No, if it does, it will be claimed that this is the famous “heat in the pipeline”

    Thats why I said “for a few decades” – long enough to satisfy any concerns about system response time to an impulse change.

  13. Sean McCorkle

    followup: apologies, I just noticed the ft.com link I gave required a registration (although free) the 2nd time I tried to access it.
    It was from this article

    Recession lowers cost of EU emissions cuts
    By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent
    Published: April 27 2010 22:40 | Last updated: April 27 2010 22:40

    and the cost estimates they quote range from 70bn to 48bn euros (the article discusses a drop in the estimate)

  14. Nullius in Verba

    “Um, no. In Bastiat’s parable, the window is not a money-making commodity.”

    You misunderstand the meaning of Bastiat’s analogy. Whether the window is a money-making commodity or not makes no difference to the logic. What matters is that you destroy or block by regulation a perfectly viable commodity to replace it with an equivalent at extra cost, and claim to make money from it.

    “A better analogy would be a window factory that is upgraded or replaced, to manufacture more, or different kinds of windows, more efficiently.”

    You’ve already got a window factory. But you’re shutting it down early, to build a new and less efficient factory that makes worse windows. You lose money on your investment in the old factory, that you will no longer be able to recoup. You lose money building the new factory. And the windows look no different to the end consumer (electricity is electricity) so the only way you will be able to pay for it is to increase prices.

    Everybody in the industry knows that the new renewable energy generation is far more expensive. It’s simply not economic to do it yet. The only way you can make it work is to block the cheaper alternatives to make them even more expensive, to use subsidies and protectionist tariffs to force the extra expense on people. You have to smash the existing technology to force people to buy your new and more expensive technology.

    You can argue, if you like, that the carbon benefits are worth the cost to society, but it’s definitely going to cost a lot. Trying to claim that it will somehow make a profit is an even less convincing argument than the global doom one.

    “Actually, new energy source startups have an added advantage: a pretty impressive power grid ALREADY exists which the entrepreneurs can leverage by locating generators near main lines or trunks initially, and then reinvesting the profits in longer-range connections.”

    That’s one of the big problems. The windy areas where they want to set up these wind farms are remote, or out at sea. The existing power grid doesn’t go there. So not only do you have to build ugly concrete-and-steel bird-slicers all over the wilderness, you have to track ugly pylons and cables across thousands of miles of wilderness to get the power back to the cities. Conventional power stations are more compact.

    “Just as it cost money to build and connect up the existing energy infrastructure, yet power companies seem to be making money just fine in spite of that.”

    Yes, because they can spread the costs over the entire lifetime of the assets. Replacing them all shortens that effective lifetime.

    “The storage problem is a technical one which can be solved—indeed there are many solutions on the board already.”

    True, but they’re expensive. Actually, you could probably save a lot more energy by installing better storage than by installing new power generation – maintaining the spinning reserve to cope with peaks and variations currently wastes energy. If storage was a cost effective replacement they’d already be using it.

    “Well that will have to happen anyway when fossil fuels are exhausted.”

    I’m not much bothered by what happens thousands of years from now.

    “Hmm, that 2.2 trillion euro figure in the link you give is a bit more—two orders of magnitude higher, actually—than this figure here.”

    Yes, and in my view that figure is a significant under-estimate, because it adds up only the direct costs of the energy infrastructure itself, not the indirect costs of the shifts made by all the rest of industry in response to higher energy costs. It’s also only the cost of a fraction of the 80% cut-backs some advocates say we’ll need.

    “Which leads to another error in the Bastiat analogy. Unlike his window, many systems and components in the existing infrastructure are deteriorating and will have to be remade or repurchased ANYWAY.”

    Err… that applies to windows too. Accidents happen, windows break, houses are replaced, there will always be some trade for glass-makers. The argument is about the cost of replacing them before you really need to. By shortening the average lifespan of windows you make a lot more trade for glass-makers, but it has to come from somewhere else.

    “Thats why I said “for a few decades” – long enough to satisfy any concerns about system response time to an impulse change.”

    What makes you think a few decades is long enough? If after fifty years of greenhouse warming less than half of the expected result has emerged yet from the pipeline, do you really think we’re going to get the remaining 1.75 – 0.7 = 1.05 C in the next couple of years? My goodness, that’s almost a testable prediction!

  15. Sean McCorkle

    You misunderstand the meaning of Bastiat’s analogy.

    I understand it. You’re misapplying it in this case. Where the owner of the window doesn’t really need to worry about the window’s age, the owner of a factory DOES need to worry about replacing his aging and outdated equipment, especially in a highly competitive market. Production equipment must be continually upgraded for business survival.

    In the energy situation, maintaining the status quo WILL continue to cost, EVEN if we don’t change to something else. That’s the first clear flaw I see with the cost-alarmism arguments: no comparison with costs that would be incurred to maintain business-as-usual.

    But you’re shutting it down early, to build a new and less efficient factory that makes worse windows. You lose money on your investment in the old factory, that you will no longer be able to recoup. You lose money building the new factory.

    With that kind of attitude, no new car/part factories would have been since the original Detroit assembly lines. Robotics wouldn’t have been adopted. Saturn would have never come into existence. Yet they did, and they managed to make money by doing so.

    And the windows look no different to the end consumer (electricity is electricity) so the only way you will be able to pay for it is to increase prices.

    I beg to differ on that one. If I can pull into a fuel station and have a CHOICE of several fuels that allows me to select one based on price or any other criteria that suits me, it will look VERY different from today.

    Everybody in the industry knows that the new renewable energy generation is far more expensive.

    agumentum ad populum, or argument from authority if you consider them experts.

    The windy areas where they want to set up these wind farms are remote, or out at sea. The existing power grid doesn’t go there.

    As I was saying in the previous comment, there is a substantial grid already which can be leveraged by first building near existing lines, and then expanding outward. Specifically the eastern parts of the midwest and the highly power hungry northeast (one doesn’t need to go far offshore).

    So not only do you have to build ugly concrete-and-steel bird-slicers all over the wilderness,

    I’ve driven through the midwest several times recently. The megawatt turbines that are already exist there are quite elegant and beautiful. Turbines do take a toll on birds, but either an NAS or NRC study found that as long as they’re not located in sensitive nesting areas, the toll is comparable to window-strikes and less than the toll taken by cats (domestic or feral). (I can’t seem to find that report right now, but will try to)

    Of course we could do a point-by-point environmental comparison between wind turbines and offshore oil drilling rigs—or any oil drilling, or coal mines, for that matter. Starting with the Deepwater Horizon. Which raises the question: when you assert that current energy production is more economical than any alternative, are you including the tremendous costs of environmental cleanup and economic losses incurred to other businesses? ($23 billion from that one incident, so far)

    you have to track ugly pylons and cables across thousands of miles of wilderness to get the power back to the cities.

    In the case of generators offshore of the Boston-Washington megalopolis, 20-30 miles. Compared to several thousands of miles already in place.

    If ugliness is a point, then offshore and land derricks aren’t so glamorous either, if you catch my drift. Nor are natural gas rigs.

    True, but they’re expensive. Actually, you could probably save a lot more energy by installing better storage than by installing new power generation …

    That second sentence undercuts the first right there.

    Conventional power stations are more compact.

    Sometimes. They’re often more polluting as well. Thats why they often end up located in or near poorer communities, who don’t have the political influence of the wealthier areas during the planning battles.

    Yes, and in my view that figure is a significant under-estimate, because it adds up only the direct costs of the energy infrastructure itself, not the indirect costs of the shifts made by all the rest of industry in response to higher energy costs

    Thats the second clear flaw in the cost-alarmism argument: you’re automatically assuming energy costs will be higher. Thats especially hard to believe in a more competitive market. If markets can do anything, they can drive prices down.

    What makes you think a few decades is long enough?

    We went through this a few rounds ago—its difficult for the land and oceans to store energy for more than a few decades.

  16. Nullius in Verba

    “Where the owner of the window doesn’t really need to worry about the window’s age, the owner of a factory DOES need to worry about replacing his aging and outdated equipment, especially in a highly competitive market.”

    But you’re not proposing to replace it when it comes to the end of its productive life, you’re proposing to replace it immediately, aren’t you? By introducing regulations that limit the amount of CO2 a power plant can emit, you take a sunk cost that could continue paying the investment back for decades to come, that’s still perfectly functional, and you shut it down and write off the investment.

    Unless when you said that we should try stopping carbon dioxide emissions, you meant in about 40 years time…?

    “Thats the second clear flaw in the cost-alarmism argument: you’re automatically assuming energy costs will be higher. Thats especially hard to believe in a more competitive market. If markets can do anything, they can drive prices down.”

    It’s not a more competitive market if it’s not competing against coal, oil, and gas.

    And everybody else is assuming the energy costs will be higher. So far, where it’s been tried, the energy costs are higher. It’s not as if energy companies are unwilling or unable to do it – if you offer them big enough subsidies with solid enough guarantees that the subsidies will continue, they’ll build them. Spain and Germany have built a lot, based on government promises. And now that the governments are realising how much they’ve overspent, and are backing out on those promises, all the investors are going bust.

    Because it simply doesn’t pay in a free competition against fossil fuel. It’s more expensive. And the only way you will get anyone to invest in it is by putting tariffs on the fossil fuels to make them more expensive, and by making people pay the extra through tax/subsidy. Either way, fuel gets more expensive, and everybody pays more for less.

    Diesel in Europe costs twice what it does in the USA, because Europe has gone down the road of trying to stop people using it – “to try to tax people out of their cars in the same way as the authorities have tried to tax people off cigarettes” as one minister put it. And even with a factor of 2 handicap, fossil fuel is still cheaper!

    You can, with no requirement for government regulation or interference, set up your own renewable energy generation company and sell a constant flow of power to the grid for cheaper than the coal power stations do. If you chose to do so, and more importantly managed to do so, I’d fully support that. If, as you say, your way is cheaper, then you would almost inevitably succeed. Free markets are set up to make sure that you do. But the moment you start asking for regulations or subsidies to hobble the opposition, you negate the cost-minimising aspects of the market. Why reduce costs, if it’s only going to reduce your subsidy?

    If what you say is right, and the alternatives really are better, cheaper, and more efficient, then I wish you well in your enterprise and hope you make a lot of money. That’s how we progress. All I ask is that you prove it in a free and open market.

  17. Sean McCorkle

    But you’re not proposing to replace it when it comes to the end of its productive life, you’re proposing to replace it immediately, aren’t you?

    Not necessarily. On the consumer end of things, lifetimes of appliances and autos are relatively short. And the existing grid could be maximally leveraged. On the supply side, it would take major effort, and it would take an enormous political resolve and focus to do so. Also, there are carrots as well as sticks. And some of the carrots have been in play already for the fossil fuel industry and I’ve not seen anywhere near the level of complaints about that as I have for renewal incentives.

    Unless when you said that we should try stopping carbon dioxide emissions, you meant in about 40 years time…?

    It could take that long, but I would hope levels would drop more or less continuously during that period. If thats how long it would take, so be it.

    It’s not a more competitive market if it’s not competing against coal, oil, and gas.

    … and its not a more competitive market if it were competing against them, not by a long shot. Subsidies for those three industries total up to many billions. And that doesn’t include geopolitical muscle and influence pulled by the government for the sake of securing supplies, up to and including invading countries. When you start factoring in military costs—which are astronomical—well, thats more than a heavy thumb on the balance scales.

    You can, with no requirement for government regulation or interference, set up your own renewable energy generation company and sell a constant flow of power to the grid for cheaper than the coal power stations do. If you chose to do so, and more importantly managed to do so, I’d fully support that.

    All I ask is that you prove it in a free and open market.

    Why should I be held to play by those rules, when no one else is or has been?

  18. Nullius in Verba

    On a related topic, I found this interesting:
    http://www.grist.org/article/2011-02-11-gobsmackingly-gargantuan-challenge-of-shifting-to-clean-energy

    The good bit starts at about 30-35 minutes. (And it’s definitely non-climate-sceptical, so don’t worry.)

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs.For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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