Copenhagen collapse

by John Quiggin on February 7, 2005

The wheels are coming off Bjorn Lomborg’s attempt to undermine the Kyoto Protocol. The Economist, which backed Lomborg’s exercise, published an interesting piece on climate change recently, noting that some members are dissenting, and ending with the observation, from Robert Mendelsohn, a critic of ambitious proposals for climate change mitigation, who worries that “climate change was set up to fail”. This was my conclusion when I reviewed the book arising from the project.

It’s a pity, because, done well, the Copenhagen project could have been a really good idea, and even as it is, a lot of valuable work was done.

Here’s the full passage

A panel of eminent economists, among them three Nobel prize-winners, placed initiatives to tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria, sanitation and other problems confronting the world’s poor ahead of proposals to tackle global warming, which were described as “bad” investments compared with those aimed at tackling these other problems. But several participants now say that there was confusion about how they were ranking ways to spend development aid, or ranking which general global problems should be tackled.

Of course, greens howled in protest at the dismissal of climate change, and pointed to some sort of stitch-up: after all, some argued, Dr Lomborg is well known for his opposition to the Kyoto treaty. He rejects such claims, insisting that the effort was in good faith. He points out that the man selected to write the “expert paper” on climate, William Cline of the Centre for Global Development, a think-tank based in Washington, DC, has impeccable credentials; indeed, he is known as an advocate of forceful, early action to slow global warming. Dr Lomborg explains that the proposals on climate change fared poorly because they offered the lowest benefits for the costs incurred.

Now, some members of the Consensus are dissenting. Thomas Schelling of the University of Maryland, who voted on the final choices, thinks that presenting climate change at the bottom of the list as “bad” is misleading. He says he and the other gurus did not like Kyoto or the aggressive proposals made by Dr Cline, whom he sees as the “most alarmist of the serious climate policy experts”, but Dr Schelling says he would have ranked modest climate proposals higher on the list, because he sees climate as a real problem. Robert Mendelsohn, a conservative Yale economist who was an official “critic” of the climate paper in this process, goes further: because Dr Cline’s positions are “well out of the mainstream”, he had no choice but to reject them. He worries that “climate change was set up to fail.”

Dr Lomborg insists that that was not at all the case. Picking an enthusiast like Dr Cline also could suggest that climate was being taken seriously by the Copenhagen process. However, he accepts that more modest proposals (such as a small carbon tax or investments in research) would have ranked higher on the list. Dr Cline, for his part, acknowledges that his views (for example, on the right discount rates to use when pondering long-term policies) “have not yet been accepted by the mainstream”. He is unhappy with how climate has been portrayed by the Copenhagen process, but he still feels that the attempt to assess global problems was well intentioned and worthwhile.

{ 66 comments }

1

anthony 02.07.05 at 11:03 pm

I’m glad to see more follow-up on this, as I’ve been interested in Copenhagen since John first posted about it. On a technical note, are other people having the problem where double and single quotes are not rendered properly, instead as some nonsense like ’?

2

anthony 02.07.05 at 11:04 pm

I’m glad to see more follow-up on this, as I’ve been interested in Copenhagen since John first posted about it. On a technical note, are other people having the problem where double and single quotes are not rendered properly, instead as some nonsense like ’?

3

John Quiggin 02.07.05 at 11:13 pm

Fixed now, Anthony.

4

markus 02.07.05 at 11:15 pm

@anthony
switch your text encoding to ISO-Latin 1 or ISO-8859-1 and reload.

5

Oscar 02.07.05 at 11:24 pm

“The wheels are coming off Bjorn Lomborg’s attempt to undermine the Kyoto Protocol.”

Sorry, but I see no justification for this lead sentence in the rest of the article. As many of your quotations show, doing something about the dangers of global warming is not co-terminous with the Kyoto accords.

6

jet 02.07.05 at 11:55 pm

If the research for Global Warming was so strong, why does it have to be pimped and the data massaged by laymen? Can anyone say IPCC or perhaps icon of integrity the USNA?

None of the climate models reduce the overall unknown of the data below the individual unknowns of the data. About as accurate as random numbers. Yelling fire may be good for raising funds, but I’ll take my science straight up, not watered down with piss and hype.

The pro-Kyoto side can’t survive a nuts and bolts level debate.

7

Tim Lambert 02.08.05 at 12:12 am

jet, contrary to your implication, the IPCC is made up from scientists. Their reports are on line and you could read them if you wanted to be better informed.

8

Tim Lambert 02.08.05 at 12:16 am

jet, contrary to your implication, the IPCC is made up from scientists. Their reports are on line and you could read them if you wanted to be better informed.

9

jet 02.08.05 at 12:40 am

Tim,

Yes yes, they are online, but those reports are not only written by the scientist who publish the data. Somehow all the qualifications and exceptions in the original reports are removed. That editing process is a bitch.

And perhaps you’d like to stick up for the USNA? Or maybe we can talk about random numbers, hockey sticks, and scientists with names that rhyme with ancient Chinese dynasties?

But I’ll tell you what, Tim. You explain the IPCC’s 2060 CO2 and Methane assumptions and the low balling of radiance as a forcing, and I’ll never speak ill of the Global Fundraising/Warming campaign again.

10

frankis 02.08.05 at 2:36 am

My substantive response to you Jet is that your comments on climatology are content free. There’s no evidence of your “taking” science at all let alone “straight up”, in fact anyone who’s observed the debate around the subject of climatology can see where your opinions come from, and see that science has had little to do with it.

As Tim suggests you could, had you the interest and the discipline, actually check to see what the IPCC has to say. You could read the opinions of the two economists quoted in the Economist piece that John has linked for you, whose work and reputations Lomborg has (wittingly or not) abused.

On the other hand the “low balling of radiance as a forcing” and other chucklehead stuff will win you points with the nuts and bolts, if that’s what you aspire to.

11

jet 02.08.05 at 3:54 am

Frankie, I’m devastated.

12

John Emerson 02.08.05 at 4:12 am

Did you know that jet whipped Michael Tyson’s ass in internet boxing too? Don’t mess with Jet. And that was before Tyson started going downhill, too. Jet is a real killer dude.

13

Lyndon 02.08.05 at 5:21 am

“Yelling fire may be good for raising funds, but I’ll take my science straight up, not watered down with piss and hype.”

Jet’s implies that the scientific consensus on the anthropogenic influence on climate is motivated primarily by fundraising requirements. If Jet is to follow this line of argument, perhaps he would care to delve into the funding sources of the climate change skeptics? It seems that their arguments often contain an assertion about the economic costs of acting to reduce emissions. Makes one wonder about their motivations.

Anyway, to provide a synopsis of the climate change issue for Jet, herewith my understanding of the whole subject (I am an environmental scientist, but not a climatologist, so if better informed people pick up errors or ommissions, my apologies, and please correct them):

1) Most now agree that climate shift is happening, even many of the skeptics (the Bush Administration has even acknowledged this–a google search of the phrase ‘bush administration acknowledges climate change’ will yield a number of hits for this). You will also note that the Pentagon has looked into this subject, and is taking it seriously: http://www.heuersdorf.de/Wrldclmt.html ;

2)a warming is undeniably occuring in the far northern hemisphere–this warming is primarily an elevation of nighttime and winter temperatures. Evidence also suggests that this is the first time that the treeline on all three continents (Europe, Asia, N. America) has shifted North in synchrony–usually northward advance on one continent would occur while southward retreat was taking place on another;

3)The General Circulation Models used in climate predictions have a great deal of uncertainty about them. Three main problems exist, the first of which is related to the coarse 1 X 1 degree resolution: a grid is either completely clouded or not. The second problem is related to uncertainty about ocean freezing (it is too late for me to look up the exact details on this–if anyone else wishes to provide the details I would be grateful). These is also uncertainty about the type of feedback that increased cloud cover will have on the climate (i.e. will it be a positive of negative feedback on temperature). I have perhaps exposed a merely perfunctory understanding of these models, but these are some of the sources of uncertainty in the climate modelling field. I also understand that the modelling community undertakes rigorous sensitivity analyses to address these uncertainties.

4) Of far greater concern in the modelling domain is the huge uncertainty surrounding the possible feedbacks between the terrestrial surface and the global climate. It is almost impossible to understand this at present. The best class of models for dealing with this question (interactive landscape mosaic models) require too much information and are computationally too intensive to be applied at the continental of global scale. We can thus only see case studies of the type of effect that climate-terrestrial interactions can have. For example, what will happen when deciduous Siberian larch forest is replaced by evergreen spruce (which presently appears to be coming in under larch as it moves northward with increasing high latitude temperatures)? One possibility is that the loss of the larch forest will result in a globally significant reduction in winter albedo, which will have a strong positive feedback on global temperatures. Or, perhaps other areas of the Siberian forests are burned off (due to increasing temperatures and greater summertime drought frequency), reverting to bog (which, once bog, is always bog), which will result in albedo increases to offset the spruce invasion.

Anyway, before eyes glaze over (I am sure they already have), the point is that, despite the significant amount of uncertainty, a large body of evidence suggest that something is happening to the climate. The extreme complexity of the system naturally makes it difficult to make accurate predictions. Thus, no scientist is going to be able to state with any certainty what is going to happen.

Does that mean that we should ignore the possibility, and continue as is? I submit not. While climatic variability happens naturally, it does appear that we are causing climate to change more rapidly than normal, and this should give us some serious cause for concern.

Sure, it probably doesn’t matter a damned bit on the geological time scale, but our next few generations could experience some serious problems.

I would suggest, Jet, that you rather look at the general picture being formed by work of the climate community, and not focus on the outliers.

14

frankis 02.08.05 at 6:47 am

OK, the “Post” button has apparently (hours later now, just to be sure) failed twice in a row to allow me to say:

Jet, y’oughta be horsewhipped.

Lyndon that was a very respectable effort whatever the hour and, if for Jet’s benefit – better than the little bugger deserves.

15

ivan 02.08.05 at 9:49 am

Some irony. The conservatives, who are against Kyoto, are dissenting from the Copenhagen Consensus. While the Kyoto-defenders – William Cline in particular – still thinks the exercise was well intentioned and worthwhile. Why not stress the fact that Cline does not consider the Copenhagen Consensus to be a set up? After all, he should be the one to complain, not Schelling or Mendelsohn.

16

MFB 02.08.05 at 11:34 am

Pardon me, but is this Copenhagen thingie just something which this Lomborg prat has plucked out of his bum, or is it possible that someone is paying him and his friends (plus a few respectable front-people) to do it?

Anti-global-warming propaganda always reminds me of AIDS denialism — except that anti-global-warming propaganda has big business backing it, whereas AIDS denialism, for all its stupidity, is at least vaguely contrarian.

17

jet 02.08.05 at 2:06 pm

Frankis,
I’m shocked, absolutely shocked that someone online, would threaten violence as a means of persuasion. And you were so close with that link. If only you had clicked one more time you would have hit upon one of the points I was offering to debate. One more click and you would have seen that the IPCC uses a DOUBLING of CO2 by 2060. A DOUBLING? We haven’t doubled the CO2 level in 200 years, and they think the next 60 will do it? Want to talk about methane now?

John,
But that was back in my salad days.

Lyndon,
Thanks for your time, I appreciate that post. Here is a numbered reply:
1)I agree and have agreed from the beginning. The Earth is warming and mankind is helping.
2)Warming is occurring, but it is warming faster on the ground that in the upper and lower troposphere. This kind of puts a damper on the actual usefulness of the main theories of climate science. Obviously connected to CO2 production is that the Southern hemisphere isn’t warming nearly as fast, if at all, especially at the Antarctic. But climate science does predicate that the upper atmosphere should warm faster than the ground temperature. Perhaps we just don’t know enough yet?
3)So precipitation is barely understood and radiance gets only 10% of the credit? Inaccuracies compounded by more inaccuracies don’t lead to very believable guesstimates. What happens if we give radiance the crazy number of 20% of the last centuries temperature increase?
4)(See 3)

My point is that we don’t know enough to make a valid decision. If the temperature increases less than 2C over the next 100 years, that will be a great boon to mankind. So if we are on track for a 1.8C increase, why would any sane person waste resources trying to stop it? And we don’t even know if it will go up by 2C? 1C seems just as likely. And whether man is responsible for 20% of 80% of the warming, if we don’t understand the problem, then the only rational thing to do is to keep spending money gaining more knowledge as action would be premature. I’m against Kyoto, not against Global Warming research. But the bi-monthly scare publishings that pop up in Drudge and Slashdot have got to go (time lines to GW caused natural disasters).

Now do you have a better idea of where I’m coming from and all of the assumptions you made from my first post? I’m a little tree-hugger like you, except I think instead of spending billions on benzene, we should spend billions on upgrading automobile exhaust technology. There is always something to spend money on, but CO2 certainly needs to be put on the wait and see list.

18

Brett Bellmore 02.08.05 at 2:17 pm

“Sure, it probably doesn’t matter a damned bit on the geological time scale, but our next few generations could experience some serious problems.”

And/or benefits, too. You know, I don’t doubt that we’re having some effect on the climate, I just doubt that we know enough about that effect to decide what, if anything, we should be doing. It would be a real pain to go to great expense to reduce CO2 emissions, just to get run over by glaciers.

19

mw 02.08.05 at 2:23 pm

It seems to me that the effort to discredit Lomborg is kind of pointless. The reason is that it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that the Kyoto approach just isn’t going to fly for political reasons.

Withoug India, China, and the U.S., Kyoto is pretty much useless, and none of those three are going sign on any time soon. See, for example:

http://www.eubusiness.com/afp/041215130952.ubpkd3c2

So as someone who takes global warming seriously, what I’d like to see is more discussion of alternatives to Kyoto. It seems to me that the best way to reduce CO2 emissions would be to develop sources of energy that are so cheap that it is not worth mining the coal or pumping the oil. As far as I can tell, nuclear is the only candidate that has that potential in the near term.

What do we find scarier–the risk of an occasional nuclear power plant accident or worldwide global warming?

20

jet 02.08.05 at 2:29 pm

Does anyone here remember the 1998 numbers on Global Warming? The 4C to 10C increases? We are now down to 1C to 6C, with 6C being pretty unlikely. And we now understand how much we don’t understand. And if we impliment Kyoto, and it runs for the next 18-20 years, then we try to do something else, what would be the point. After 20 more years, there really isn’t much we could do besides move completely nuclear/no fossils or move to the stone age. So why is everyone so crazy about Kyoto? Kytoto gives us minimal returns for such a huge investment (delays global warming by ~7 years). And if Kyoto did go through, think how pissed the Senators would be the next time the bucket was being passed for research grants. They’d argue that they already gave you Kyoto, why should they give more money to research while a stagnant economy is recovering from an instant, artificial jump in energy prices?

Better to just keep doing research and bugging your Congress for alternative fuel/energy research grants. Solar Power has been on a linear cost path to intersect coal in 2030. Any bump in research money would hasten that day. Screw Kyoto, we need grant money for Solar, Wind, Nuclear, and whatever else type research.

21

Elliott Oti 02.08.05 at 3:27 pm

So why is everyone so crazy about Kyoto?

Nobody’s crazy about Kyoto on its own merits. Kyoto in its present form is the result of almost two decades of intense activism, negotiation and horsetrading between almost every nation on Earth, the IPCC, and various environmentalist groups.

Alternative pipe-dreams are nice but policy is made and implemented in the real world, and Kyoto is the result of such processes. If it does not get implemented no other proactive global climate policy ever will.

22

Steve LaBonne 02.08.05 at 3:34 pm

So an expensive policy (Kyoto) univerally admitted even by its proponents to be incapable of any serious impact on the problem, should be implemented just for the sake of looking like we’re doing something. Right, that makes a lot of sense.

23

Lyndon 02.08.05 at 3:42 pm

“And/or benefits, too. You know, I don’t doubt that we’re having some effect on the climate, I just doubt that we know enough about that effect to decide what, if anything, we should be doing.”

I believe that certain scenarios have said that the US might have a net gain from climate change. Other countries might get the short end of the stick, however.

“It would be a real pain to go to great expense to reduce CO2 emissions, just to get run over by glaciers.”

We would probably want to check where we are in the Milankovich Cycles to determine the risk of getting another glacial period in the next few hundred years.

On to Jet’s replies, which were pretty comprehensive. Apologies for the assumptions made in my post last night. However, I would like to add that I do not consider myself a “Tree Hugger”. Conservationist is a better term, particularly as I frequently support consumptive use of natural resources to achieve conservation goals. But that’s just quibbling.

Regarding the warming of the surface versus the troposhere, perhaps you read the piece by Baliunas, which can be found on the Heritage Foundation’s website: http://www.heritage.org/Research/EnergyandEnvironment/HL758.cfm.
Give me some time on finding if there is an alternative viewpoint to this.

Regarding Antarctic cooling and less warming in the Southern Hemisphere, warming does not mean that the entire planet will warm uniformly (the term climate change is therefore more appropriate). For a detailed discussion of this topic, please see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=18.

I have asked a climatology prof about the radiance issue (and he is not one of the climate change bunch), and he says that it is extremely unlikely that increased solar activity in the 20th C added much to the observed increase. 10 percent sounds appropriate, although I can ask again for the sake of certainty. Also, radiance will not be distributed as evenly as CO2, methane, etc., thus any increase in radiance is likely to affect the tropical climate primarily. An abstract of a Journal of Climate paper looking at this topic can be found at http://usgspubs.georef.org/C_C_N213.htm.

While we are far from understanding how things work exactly, there does seem to be enough information to make a decision on CO2. We now have more CO2 in the atmosphere than we have had at any time in the past 120,000 years. It seems that the business community is gradually starting to come to the conclusion that this could be problematic. Citigroup, Bank of America, BP, and others all now have climate policies that have them on Kyoto targets. The insurance industry is obviously a bit worried about climate change. Thus, action is happening, and people are spending money on it.

This assumption of “the cost is too great” to do anything about CO2 emmissions seems to underlie most skeptics’ arguments. I would love to see an exchange by economists that addresses this assumption. If businesses (which are driven by profit) are starting to address it on their own, than perhaps the costs are not as great as imagined.

We should also consider the alternative economic scenario: addressing emmissions could well have a positive impact on the global economy. It could spur a whole new round of technology, create huge numbers of jobs, etc. etc.

The economic issue is another whole topic in its own right, and one that I am not even vaguely qualified to address. However, if economic cost is used to challenge climate change science, than we should have a full discussion of the assumption that reducing emmissions will be too costly.

Thanks for an interesting discussion so far.

24

Elliott Oti 02.08.05 at 4:13 pm

So an expensive policy (Kyoto) univerally admitted even by its proponents to be incapable of any serious impact on the problem, should be implemented just for the sake of looking like we’re doing something. Right, that makes a lot of sense.

Kyoto is what any proactive global climate change protocol will eventually wind up looking like. It’s the outcome, not the starting point.

Not implementing the outcome of protracted multi-party negotiations would be a sign of bad faith on the part of the defaulters, a trait heavily present among a number of significant participants throughout Kyoto’s history, and a trait at least partly responsible for the current – and to some, deplorable – state of the Kyoto protocol.

25

Brett Bellmore 02.08.05 at 4:20 pm

Even if CO2 driven climatic changes are determined to be a net negative, the fact is that higher CO2 levels have beneficial effects on plant growth… We might want to consider whether we could more profitably solve the problem by addressing other variables.

Just for an example, I understand that the lack of jet contrails immediately after 9-11 actually had a measurable impact on North American weather, suggesting that we could noticibly effect climate by high altitude cloud seeding.

The total area of the US covered with artificial materials is large enough, that we could measurably effect the albedo of the Earth by regulating the permissable colors of roofing materials. And that’s not what I’d call an expensive fix…

And that’s not even getting into exotic solutions such as orbiting thin film mirrors to reduce insolation in selected areas.

In other words, don’t fixate on CO2.

26

jet 02.08.05 at 4:25 pm

Lyndon,
thanks again for the indepth response. I might have already read the realclimate article, but I’ll check when I find a few moments at lunch to read the heritage article.

But to me, what really takes the cake is that the IPCC, even with their questionable models, have to use a doubling of CO2 levels by 2060 to get the 1-6C change. I would absolutely love to see how they came up with that number. But to give you an idea of how crazy that IPCC number is, from 1800 to now, human created CO2 output has increased 300% (from 10Gton to 300Gton per year). Atmospheric CO2 has gone from 300ppm to 360ppm. Anyone else see something wrong with the IPCC’s 2060 number? Actually, I kind of hope the IPCC is right as it would imply economies so rich that we all fly our G5 learjets to work, and have giant robots recycling CO2 into magnificent ice-sculptures at the poles ;) But as robots at the poles are 14 year old fantasies, so are the IPCC 2060 numbers.

27

Steve LaBonne 02.08.05 at 4:34 pm

Sorry Elliott, that doesn’t fly. The problem is that the whole Kyoto approach is simply not scalable to a level where it would result in any noticeable slowing of warming- the required levels of carbon-emission reduction for that, which would be some considerable multiple of the Kyoto targets, are not going to be accepted by any country on earth. Kyoto looks more like a dead end than the beginning of anything. The ugly truth is that right now we don’t know how to significantly slow CO2 buildup in any way that would conceivably happen in the real world. In that situation, I would rather see the money spent on Kyoto, and then some, go instead to serious preparations for adapting to the inevitable climate changes. I don’t like that idea any more than I’m sure you do, but dealing with reality always seems to work better than denying it.

28

dsquared 02.08.05 at 4:40 pm

I would hate to break a tradition that feels like it stretches back hundreds of years, so here it is; my traditional post pointing out that economic models forecasting over fifty years are much more unreliable than climate models, so anyone who has a problem with the IPCC climate forecast really ought to admit that they have no idea how much Kyoto will cost either; in fact, we don’t really know whether or not it will be a net economic cost or a net benefit.

29

Steve LaBonne 02.08.05 at 4:51 pm

My comment is as much a political guesstimate as an economic one. I just don’t see even the countries that were most enthusiastic about Kyoto signing up any time soon for a sequel that lowers carbon emissions by, say, an order of magnitude more than the Kyoto targets. But the brute scientific fact is, that’s the kind of effort it would take to make a really meaningful dent in the upward trend in atmospheric [Co2]. I’d be delighted to be proved wrong.

30

Steve LaBonne 02.08.05 at 4:57 pm

My prediction is really as much political as it is economic. I just do not see, any time in the foreseeable future, even the countries most enthusiastic about Kyoto signing up for emissions targets an order of magnitude lower, yet scientifically speaking that’s what it would take just to make a serious dent in the growth of atmospheric [CO2]. I’d love to be proved worng.

31

Steve LaBonne 02.08.05 at 4:59 pm

Humble apologies for the redundant post.

32

jet 02.08.05 at 5:07 pm

The fastest way to stop CO2 output would be to use a different source of energy. Cutting emissions just isn’t going to happen on a scale large enough to matter. Price tag for Iraq war (yes Democracy rawks, but so did those 1,200 Americans and countless Iraqis) equals massive reduction in number of years until solar $power equals coal $power.

33

Lyndon 02.08.05 at 5:53 pm

“But to give you an idea of how crazy that IPCC number is, from 1800 to now, human created CO2 output has increased 300% (from 10Gton to 300Gton per year). Atmospheric CO2 has gone from 300ppm to 360ppm. Anyone else see something wrong with the IPCC’s 2060 number?”

Hi Jet. I am sorry, but am not sure I understand the concern the way you have phrased it. Are you saying that the huge increase in human emissions does not translate into correspondingly huge increases in atmospheric CO2, and therefore how can the IPCC, given this trend, assume that CO2 can possibly double? I ask for clarity’s sake before I try to answer (if I can!). As a gap filler in the meantime, perhaps the doubling assumed by the IPCC is the projection of the exponential growth curve in CO2 emissions that we have seen up to now. As human growth activity is exponential, perhaps this is a reasonable assumption to make (unless technology change mitigates this, which I believe is covered under some of the IPCC’s scenarios) Also, the discrepancy between human emissions and atmospheric CO2 (if I have understood your concern correctly) may be partially explained by the missing carbon in the carbon cycle. No one knows for sure where a portion of anthropogenic CO2 hides within the cycle (2 Pg, I believe).

Will look more into this when I have time (this posting business really cuts into the work day!) to inform myself better.

Thanks.

34

jet 02.08.05 at 6:58 pm

Lyndon,

Once again, thanks for the response, I appreciate your comments. But that is the question, either I’m too obtuse, or the IPCC doesn’t make it clear enough when they talk about doubling of CO2. But doubling of emitted CO2 still seems like a long shot given that the trend is that every year it takes less energy to produce more dollars. Every year the world becomes more efficient in energy use. On the flip side, as CO2 levels increase, the Earth’s mechanisms become less efficient in absorbing the CO2 out of the atmosphere (IPCC). So it is probably very conceivable that I misread the IPCC and they were speaking of doubling CO2 output in 60 years, not doubling CO2 in the atmosphere. But even so, going from 300 Gton to 600 Gton seems a remarkable feat, and I wish they would have pointed at the study coming up with that number. As for going from 360ppm to 720 ppm, that’s impossible.

But always keep in mind, in 1970 solar power was priced at $5/kWh. It is now $.25/kWh. 35 years have seen the price drop to 5% of the original. It only has to drop to half of current costs, and natural gas is not really viable. Half again and coal isn’t really viable.

35

Lyndon 02.08.05 at 8:49 pm

Thanks for the reply. Will try and look into IPCC a bit more, and get some collegial feedback to see what the story is with CO2 numbers.

The pricing on solar sounds pretty positive, and I hope that improvements in the efficiency of renewable energy sources further reduces hydrocarbon emissions. (I also hope that the skeptics on CO2 are right, and all of us who are worried are wrong). It seems that we have real movement in that direction now, so we will see how long it takes to catch on. The government could urge things along by putting into place some decent incentives and increasing alternative fuel funding (Bush has added something onto this, but I believe it pales in comparison to coal and petroleum research budgets).

Might have more on this tomorrow. For now, must salvage some work from today. Enjoy the rest. Cheers.

36

Lyndon 02.08.05 at 9:01 pm

Thanks for the reply. Will try and look into IPCC a bit more, and get some collegial feedback to see what the story is with CO2 numbers.

The pricing on solar sounds pretty positive, and I hope that improvements in the efficiency of renewable energy sources further reduces hydrocarbon emissions. (I also hope that the skeptics on CO2 are right, and all of us who are worried are wrong). It seems that we have real movement in that direction now, so we will see how long it takes to catch on. The government could urge things along by putting into place some decent incentives and increasing alternative fuel funding (Bush has added something onto this, but I believe it pales in comparison to coal and petroleum research budgets).

Might have more on this tomorrow. For now, must salvage some work from today. Enjoy the rest. Cheers.

37

frankis 02.09.05 at 2:03 am

“But climate science does predicate that the upper atmosphere should warm faster than the ground temperature”. Theory and measured fact have the stratosphere cooling, Jet. What do you mean by “upper atmosphere”? Of course we never “know enough”, but some will always know more than others (and some will have more opinions than clues, of course).

There is no sign of a trend in irradiance – check the graphs yourself.

The suggestion that a warming of say 2C over a short period would be, oh so simply and clearly, a “great boon”, has no discernible science backing it. If it involved warming at the poles of considerably more than that global average figure of 2C, as ocean temperatures and glacial melt seem to be showing today, then the “great boon” would certainly be in reality an incredible disaster for humanity. Unless you have the science to prove your claim of the “boon”, of course.

No, it wouldn’t be rational to just keep on researching if the cost/benefit analysis suggested the time had come to act. Why would it be? By the time many present skeptics could be satisfied of the reality of the need to act, it would by then have become decades too late to prevent irreversible worsening of whatever effects had finally persuaded those same skeptics to at last act. There are huge time lags in the climate system, and positive feedbacks. For one example: greenhouse warming of the oceans doesn’t just warm oceans, it also results in outgassing of their dissolved CO2 content, melting of ice (that causes a decrease in Earth’s albedo), thawing and outgassing of methane and other GH gasses from arctic tundra, and other known and potential effects. All of those ones are positive feedbacks to an initial warming. Post a cite of a scientific analysis of offsetting negative feedbacks, if you can.

Jet, words like “that’s jist crazy talk!!” – which is you roughly quoted on your expert field of the CO2 economy – normally betray that your own understanding is what’s lacking, not the scenario used by an expert body of scientists in a modelling exercise. Yes of course there were and remain excellent reasons, none of them unarguable (mind), for choosing to consider a doubling of CO2 by 2060. In your case it’d help your credulity if you got your numbers closer to the mark. I believe better estimates than yours would be for a CO2 level 200 years ago of ~280ppm (not 300), and last year’s was measured not at 360 as you believe but at 379 (representing an alarming year on year increase and perhaps an aberration, but there’s no apparent doubt the real number is over 375).

Also, for various reasons, suggestions that we ought to continue to add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere but utilise technologies to mitigate greenhouse warming, must be less than second best mustn’t they? Isn’t greenhouse warming, in most respects, better placed in a separate category altogether to non-greenhouse forcings of climate (satellite mirrors, man made albedo enhancers, and so on? The only obvious – and I would think the best – way to address an undesirable increase in CO2 levels is … the obvious one.

With the Cold War behind us, and before foolishness plunges us into the next global conflict, surely the time’s come for a serious effort on energy conservation strategies, global GHG mitigation agreements, the return of nuclear power, the R&D and commercialisation – with suitable carbon tax stimuli – of renewables. That’s as well, of course, as other do-gooder projects (of people like Lomborg) that have seen hot air expended recently, little results so far to show.

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Walt Pohl 02.09.05 at 2:37 am

If Kyoto isn’t a good idea, then why doesn’t the United States unilaterally adopt CO2-limiting policies that are good ideas? There’s nothing prevening us from raising gas-mileage requirements on cars, and getting rid of insane policies like the special tax deduction for light trucks bought by small businesses.

39

Jon H 02.09.05 at 2:51 am

ivan writes: “Why not stress the fact that Cline does not consider the Copenhagen Consensus to be a set up?”

Perhaps because, if Copenhagen was a set up, it implies that Cline himself was used, an unwitting stooge.

Nobody likes to face up to something like that.

40

Elliott Oti 02.09.05 at 9:02 am

In that situation, I would rather see the money spent on Kyoto, and then some, go instead to serious preparations for adapting to the inevitable climate changes.

So would I, but unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen. Kyoto started out seriously too.

41

Brett Bellmore 02.09.05 at 11:20 am

“The only obvious – and I would think the best – way to address an undesirable increase in CO2 levels is … the obvious one.”

It would be, if CO2 didn’t have agricultural benefits. And, Franks, if ALL the feedbacks in the system were positive, this planet would look like Venus already. Surely you’re aware of that?

42

jet 02.09.05 at 2:14 pm

Frankis,
“Yes of course there were and remain excellent reasons, none of them unarguable (mind), for choosing to consider a doubling of CO2 by 2060.”
Considering this was the major theme of your rebuttal, you managed to fail to make a real argument yourself. Given that the IPCC numbers hinge upon this major detail, I would have expected at minimum a half recalled argument, a link, or just better rhetoric. But since the IPCC itself doesn’t explain this number, I won’t hold it against you.

And if you weren’t so intent on lambasting me, you would have read earlier that when I was speaking about the “upper atmosphere”, I was referring to the disparency between the thought that the troposphere should warm faster than the ground temp and the reality of the situation. And while we may be unsure about the upper troposphere due to stratospheric cooling, the lower troposphere really isn’t in question. And when your own source, the NCDC, doesn’t have an answer about the upper troposphere, and then you claim we know enough already to take action, I feel a little sad for you. Isn’t the question of the upper troposphere and stratospheric cooling important to the debate? Maybe that question should be answered before we move forward. But then there are tons of questions to be answered. If you are so worried about that 2C increase being centered at the poles, how do you explain the current trends? The antarctic isn’t warming and the arctic is warming much slower than the rest of the world, if at all. But I wouldn’t want to question your faith. Why you ought to be horse whipped.

And besides, if Kyoto will have a major cost associated with it and have marginal effects, what’s the point? Like I said earlier, 20 years from now when Kyoto child is being created, those new effects will matter less than Kyoto, yet cost even more.

And did you ever think about seeing a psychiatrist? If you think someone should be horse whipped for having a debate about Global Warming, you might have some deeper issues you need to deal with. But since people like you don’t usually deal with these issues until someone else gets hurt, carry conceal is legal.

43

Uncle Kvetch 02.09.05 at 3:26 pm

If Kyoto isn’t a good idea, then why doesn’t the United States unilaterally adopt CO2-limiting policies that are good ideas?

Walt, please don’t spoil the fun by bringing common sense into this. I’ve so enjoyed the exquisitely calibrated doublethink of the status quo crowd:

1) Kyoto is an insignificant series of half-assed measures that will have no appreciable effect on global warming.

2) Kyoto is a monstrosity that will cause untold suffering for hundreds of millions of people.

A highwire act worthy of the Great Wallenda. It’s really a thing of beauty when you think about it.

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jet 02.09.05 at 9:07 pm

1) Kyoto is the best possible first step and all other options are a waste of time.
2) Kyoto’s economic costs shouldn’t even be examined let alone brought into the debate.

Uncle how-appropriately-named there are two sides to this reguardless of how often you bitch about actually having to debate the other side.

45

Steve LaBonne 02.09.05 at 9:10 pm

In hate to spoil your kvetching, kvetch, but there’s hardly a logical contradiction involved in pointing out that something can be expensive AND useless. Identifying familiar real-world examples is left as an exercise for the reader. ;)

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Uncle Kvetch 02.09.05 at 9:38 pm

Steve, you missed the point of my post. I was simply pointing out what I see as a certain inconsistency among some anti-Kyoto posters. When the topic at hand is potential benefits from Kyoto, it’s all minimization all the time: Kyoto is puny, insignificant, rinky-dink, meaningless. At the same time, however, we’re expected to swallow all kinds of nightmare scenarios about gargantuan costs. Something here does not compute.

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jet 02.09.05 at 10:27 pm

Kvetch, perhaps the benefits of Kyoto just haven’t been spelled out well enough. My understanding is that there are two bonuses. 1, it will slow global warming by 7/100’s. 2, it will lead to Something Grander in 20 years. You don’t have to counter that with to many trillions before it starts sounding like not such a good idea.

But perhaps I’m missing 3, 4, and 5 ;)

Don’t fret, I become a little more worried about going from 280 to 430 ppm everytime I enter this debate. Many more arguements and I’ll be screaming for Kyoto reguardless of the cost right there beside you ;)

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frankis 02.10.05 at 2:41 am

Brett, were the source of our CO2 emissions agricultural or at least solely from the biota of the ecosphere, then I’d agree that under most scenarios it would be OK to rely upon agriculture and other organic uptake to remove the added CO2 over time. However this isn’t the case, and the CO2 we are adding from fossil fuel use has an atmospheric lifetime of 50-200 years. This means the time lag for agriculture to attenuate the rate of increase of CO2 is, on current performance, too great – year on year at the moment, roughly 50% of our CO2 emissions accumulate in the atmosphere.

Brett, the instances I gave were all of positive feedbacks in response to an assumed small CO2 induced warming. That a feedback is positive doesn’t mean that a system must necessarily run away; amplification depends upon both sign and magnitude of the feedback and, for a range of sufficiently small feedback magnitude, the total effect is certainly limited. I believe the models the IPCC has referenced exhibit an amplification of something like four times the warming induced by a small change in CO2 concentration.

Jet, your posts were such an egregiously target-rich environment for lambasting that I’m afraid I didn’t blame myself too much for failing to resist temptation. But no hurt was intended so “my bad” if it was too much.

You didn’t thank me for the reference that showed you there is no trend in solar irradiance. You do say that something was my concern, yet in reality it was your theme not mine. In support of your criticism of the IPCC’s modelled scenario of CO2 doubling by 2060 you posted no cite at all. In fact I thought your own points were quite good on the subject but here, let me help you out – David Henderson is worth listening to on the matter of econometric modelling and he is certainly critical of the IPCC’s current method. It exercises you more than it does me and I’d also suggest that you might bear in mind the sage advice (dsquared’s) to the effect that econometric modelling makes climate modelling seem an exact science. Your numbers for CO2 concentrations were wrong and you have not actually cited any support for a better guesstimate of a year by which atmospheric CO2 may have doubled. At the moment, and for the purposes of argument, I think the IPCC guess stands “as good as any”.

I’m still unsure what you mean when you talk of the “upper atmosphere”, yet we seem to be in agreement that theory, models and measurements all show the stratosphere to be cooling, as expected with “global warming”. If there is something else troubling you on this you might like to post the evidence you have in mind? Meanwhile in the Arctic, according to the NOAA in these two
links, “changes in the last decade are continuing, major and unprecedented”. Do you have a criticism of the NOAA?

Finally, when a scientist of the quality of James Lovelock (Mr Gaia) speaks of urgency you may not be listening, Jet, but I am. For those both unaware of Lovelock’s scientific record and that he has until quite recently, I believe, been relatively unalarmed by the potential for anthropogenic climate change (I think he’s felt that the various negative feedbacks in the system, Brett, would at least stabilise climate, if not at a point so favourable to Earth’s livability for us humans) this may not seem quite so significant. The article I’ve linked above is not scientific – it’s an opinion piece – and I think I could call it “alarmist”. Coming from Lovelock as it does, I think the alarm means something.

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jet 02.10.05 at 4:40 am

Frankis,

Thanks for the kind informative response.

“You didn’t thank me for the reference that showed you there is no trend in solar irradiance.” But those are only two sun cycles, not really relevant to my point, as that graph looks at it the wrong way. It isn’t how high the numbers go, but the time in between high points. We should discuss sun cycles a little farther back. Sun cycles can be measured farther back by looking at sunspot cycles. Here, I’ve even dug up a graph:
http://www.env.leeds.ac.uk/envi2150/oldnotes/lecture9/lecture9.html
(Yes I know it is just some dudes site, but those graphs are close enough to make my point)
And now we can debate why shorter sunspot cycles don’t correlate to longer periods of increased solar irradiance, or do they? Can you sum up quickly, no calculator now, the difference in aggregate irradiance per year the Earth gets in a 10 year cycle vs a 12 year cycle? Only ~3 Watts (%.002 delta) per meter squared, but it is still amazing how nicely you can fit those two graphs together.

There also seems to be some confusion over the stratosphere. I was under the impression the stratosphere was cooling from a lack of ozone. The NCDC link you provided, in section Temperature Trends, states this as well. I’m unsure how CFC’s aren’t being combined/confused with CO2 as a GW stratosphere forcing. I thought that the stratosphere’s ozone was destroyed by CFC’s? But in case I’m wrong, how is CO2 destroying ozone? Surely the IPCC isn’t implying we should stop burning coal because of our old hair spray cans and refrigerators?

“I think the IPCC guess stands “as good as any”.” Good, then you agree their guess is only as good as mine. Because I could make up a rather inane reason and have provided more evidence than they did.

Cheers,

50

frankis 02.10.05 at 7:03 am

Jet the site you turned up for support on the matter of irradiance forcing of Earth’s climate is perfectly good. As your reference makes clear, the sunspot cycle length appears to correlate well with solar output so is used as a proxy measure of it for periods earlier than 1978 for which we have no direct measure. The graphs I cited show solar output as directly measured since 1978. Now, as your cited page states, the maximum likely increase in solar output over the last century may have been approx 0.3W/sqm, compared to increased greenhouse gas forcing of about 1.2W/sqm. For the past two decades the satellite measurements I posted show there has been no trend increase in solar output, yet the temperature records for the same period show significant warming.

When you refer to a calculation of the difference in irradiation between shorter and longer sunspot cycles can you explain why peaks of a cycle are of more import for your purposes than troughs? Then I don’t follow you in your reference to fitting “two graphs together” – is there another cite involved here?

Cooling of the stratosphere is predicted by global warming theory. The trusty IPCC is the best link, and also refers to the troposphere and the ozone issue that you mention.

To say that a guess is as good as any doesn’t seem to preclude that it might be better than most or all, no? The IPCC’s modelling of CO2 doubling by 2060 is better than any other argument I’ve heard, as it turns out. Why would you make the effort to study the likely effects of a CO2 doubling at some later date than that at which you had reasons to believe it could well have already been reached? Citations of scientific criticisms welcome.

51

jet 02.10.05 at 2:11 pm

Looks like I’m guilty of taking numbers for a poor quality graph rather than the cited numbers. But .3W/sq M is still 25% of the forcings according to that cite/site/citation/website/lecture notes/whatever. And while your graph from 1978 to current doesn’t show a any increase, it does show our current sun cycles to be in the ~10 year range vs ~12 in 1900. Which is the shortest we know about, which also gives us more periods of the higher level of sun output. So the peaks are more important because with a shorter cycle, they happen more often (ie shorter troughs) which leads to more irradiance per year on average (although this is apparently only .3Wm2 more rather than 3Wm2 more which isn’t what figure 9.3 alludes to at all). Also figure 9.3 is the figure I was referring to when I said “fitting the two graphs together”.

And I’ll have to admit that the IPCC’s summary (which you linked to) of their tropospheric and stratospheric study did not bolster my confidence in them. They seem to state they only have a hazy understanding of what is going on, so I have to wonder how much more iffiness the original papers implied?

So between the IPCC choosing what appears the lowest possible amount of forcing conceivable for the sun, and then choosing a CO2 doubling rate that assumes no change in current growth rates of CO2 production, yet we know we use less energy per dollar per year as time goes on (I had to use a constant growth rate in CO2 output to get a doubling in 2060), I’m thinking their numbers are the worst possible scenario.

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jet 02.10.05 at 2:22 pm

Okay dammit. The IPCC is offered my full apologies, the fuckers. I surrender. There’s a real problem and something needs to be done.

Here’s why:
http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/251.htm#6131
Scroll to the very bottom and read the last sentence. The IPCC is using the 0.3Wm2 number too, so they are ascribing the 25% total forcing to the sun which sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

The only arguments I have left would be how good or bad ~2C to ~5.8C are, and if it takes until 2075 to double CO2, how much that really matters compared to 2060.

I’d still rather devote 1-2% of the GDP to alternative energy research rather than artificial price increases.

53

jet 02.10.05 at 5:50 pm

Ah, I take that apology back. The IPCC didn’t use the cosmic ray theory in their simulations. They ascribed a href=”http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/252.htm”>VL(very low) to the cosmic ray theory as far as their level of understanding. But yet we see that the cosmic ray theory alone can account for .6C increase in temperature in the 20th century. I think the IPCC’s acknowledgement of their lack of understanding of Global Warming is enough to ingore their warnings until more information is at hand.

Unless you can refute this, I’m going to have to consider anyone who supports Kyoto more religious than rational.

54

frankis 02.11.05 at 2:20 am

Steady on Jet, you’re messin’ with our minds now aren’t you? Is this spinning (from one post to the next) wholly rational and reasoned? I think not! Still, it’s a terrifically well put challenge you have at the end of your last post so let’s consider how well-reasoned, rational and (I presume) anti-religious your own performance has been, shall we?

You’ve cited the IPCC’s page of disclaimers wherein the dopey scientists have admitted that they do not know everything. And we all know that the IPCC has concluded, despite its sad lack of omniscience, that the already discernible anthropogenic effect on climate is likely to accelerate in future. But the scientists have made the political faux pas of explaining that our current scientific understanding of the connection between cosmic rays, cloud cover and climate is presently very low, so: Be Gone, Scientists! Your Faith in Your Lack of Certainty and, well, whatever – offends us!

But how about the site from which you’ve now delivered The Cosmic Ray? It’s a good site which appears to offer a sound undergraduate course in the science of climate change. You’ve leapt with alacrity on Dr Carslaw’s notes and graphs from the page you’ve read … yet apparently he is just another of the religious drones of the IPCC faith himself, giving as he does these objectives for his course:
“On completion of this module, students will understand the scientific reasons why the climate has changed in the past and why it is thought that anthropogenic influences are likely to cause much more rapid climate changes in the future. The likelihood of climate change has generated much interest and controversy in the media and in political circles in recent years. Students completing this module will be able to understand the scientific bases for the often conflicting positions taken by the many groups with special interests in this globally important issue”. Anthropogenic climate change for the future? Wot a loser!

So although you’ve now used the incantation “Cosmic Ray Theory!”, not only has the IPCC failed to go pale with embarrassment and slink off, stage left, but even the scientist from whose site you’ve pinched the support for your incantation is, well … apostate himself! The bastards – call vestedinterest.com (thanks Dano) for an exorcism, toot sweet!

Or, picture the poor scientists trying to do careful, useful work, and explain to politicians and the public simple and scientifically well understood concepts such as the greenhouse effect and their best understanding of the effect our emissions and other human behaviour may have on it, all to a chorus of disinformation and antiscience from vested interests and people (non scientists themselves) who, by comparison, know everything. Or we might even just sympathize with those high profile and very capable economists who’ve just recently been shafted by Lomborg in his own assault on science and the environment. Modern times are tough for those with faith in the value of science, I think.

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jet 02.11.05 at 1:41 pm

Frankis,

Thanks for the kind response.

“picture the poor scientists trying to do careful, useful work, and explain to politicians and the public” Yeah, and they leave out the part where there is a promising new, albeit little understood, theory that could explain away 50%-100% of the 20th century warming and the fact they have ignored it in their computer models.

“the scientist from whose site you’ve pinched the support for your incantation is, well … apostate himself!”
I’m not relying on that nice prof’s lecture. Google “cosmic rays cloud theory” and read the first 20 or so articles to see what I read.

But anyways, you didn’t speak to my point. If Cosmic Theory is correct, it could account for ALL of the 20th century warming. I find that hard to believe and would think that some of it has to be do to CO2. But the point is that there is a ~75% margin of error in the current Global Warming theory. CO2 could cause all of the warming or none of it. Just looking at graphs of past solar output’s effects on the Earth’s temp and current temperature, you would be led to believe that the sun accounts for a little more than half of the rise in temperature in the 20th century. But the IPCC gives the sun a mere fourth of the blame.

So it would be purely a matter of faith to go forward with extremely costly action (Kyoto) when the theory remains so, admittedly, poorly understood. This is what I was hoping you’d speak to in a refutation. Instead I got some great rhetoric that sounds kind of like a PR firm defending a pro or anti Kyoto stance, but I sure didn’t hear you speak to the problem with the Global Warming theory. Just excuse making. I think that means you don’t have an answer and must now whine about those stupid politicians and people that have to be lied to because they wouldn’t understand the truth.

“Modern times are tough for those with faith in the value of science” “picture the poor scientists” Scientist not too poor and with enough faith to withhold a major revelation in Global Warming theory and who it looks to me tried to downplay it in the first few years it was around.

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Engineer-Poet 02.11.05 at 2:57 pm

Very well-said, frankis.

Jet wrote:

I’d still rather devote 1-2% of the GDP to alternative energy research rather than artificial price increases.

There’s a time for each.  For instance, artificial photosynthesis and algal biodiesel are at the stage where R&D is needed.  Wind power and photovoltaics are much further along, running down the manufacturing experience curve rather than the research curve; what they need is incentives for people to buy them instead of fossil generation so that they can get their costs down faster.

Last, carbon taxes have a place too.  If a ton of carbon in the atmosphere creates (estimate) $30 in damage, subsidizing non-carbon energy sources does not give any incentive to use efficiency measures to get rid of the need for energy in the first place.  If efficiency improvements are cheaper than the properly accounted costs of fossil energy, it costs less to tax the fuel (thus driving people to adopt the least-cost efficiency measures) than to subsidize alternative sources.

Alternative supplies may already be approaching competitive levels with expensive fuels, like motor gasoline.  Last year I did a brief analysis of the comparison between a conventional vehicle and a plug-in hybrid charged from today’s solar panels; I updated it later.  If it’s true that the one-micron-thick solar cells could be delivered in industrial quantities at 1 Euro/watt four years from the start of plant construction, one way we could make certain that it happened is to guarantee money for the first X megawatts to roll off the line that meets spec.  Just guaranteeing the market for grid-tied inverters would run their production way up, and the price way down.

What would it cost?  Fifty cents a watt for the first gigawatt, 25 cents for the next gigawatt, 15 for the third and 10 for the fourth would cost all of one billion dollars – pocket change in either our energy or national budgets, but if it bootstrapped a production plant which could beat the price of grid electricity there would be no going back to the old ways.  When that ball gets over the top of the hill it’s going to be a whole new world.

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Engineer-Poet 02.11.05 at 3:10 pm

jet, clouds are a phenomenon which changes on a time-scale of hours to days.  If cosmic rays are such an important influence on the heat balance, we ought to be able to derive a pretty good correlation from the data we have.  Do any of the studies you found show such a correlation?

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jet 02.11.05 at 4:08 pm

Engineer-poet,

First, thanks for those links. I’ll being calling my senator, collecting signatures, and ebaying for hybrids within the next 3 years apparently.

As for clouds, yes, there are many studies showing a strong correlation between the Sun’s effect on cosmic radiation and cloud cover. The Sun’s high peaks and low peaks of solar output correlate to a 5% change in lower level cloud cover across the globe, apparently. This would account for up to ~75% of 20th century warming. The only provable causal relationship, as the IPCC droned on and on about, was in the lab. I’m not sure if anyone is trying to prove this in the field.

These should get you started:

http://www.env.leeds.ac.uk/envi2150/oldnotes/lecture9/lecture9.html
http://star.arm.ac.uk/%7Eepb/paper1.html
http://www-ssc.igpp.ucla.edu/IASTP/43/

I’m all for reducing CO2 since it is an obvious contributor to global warming. But I’m against rash decisions, which Kyoto is now listed under in the dictionary. Also removing petroleum from the world’s economy would probably lead the way to the most peaceful century ever.

59

frankis 02.12.05 at 3:39 am

Jet, your own “major revelation” words sound more religious than anything the demonized IPCC has said, and others such as “whine” are impolite at best. If you don’t like the IPCC “droning on” it may be that you’re not really as interested in the science of climate as you’ve hitherto assumed; perhaps it’s more the politics and economics of climate change that interest you?

Now, firstly, you are using the term “cosmic theory” more as an incantation than as a rational argument. The influence of cosmic rays on weather or climate is a field of current research and the results are quite unclear. One study is not enough. The appropriate reaction of scientists, and you may rest assured that this is happening right now, is that other researchers who have found that first study to be of interest and potential import will be looking in to the matter. At this time, that is where the matter rests – comprehensively undecided. You know, science is a difficult pursuit whereas religious faith and heckling can be undertaken by almost anyone.

Carslaw, whose page you’ve cited, has this more recent article out. You might like to study it all, but it’s abstract includes this: “Physical mechanisms have been proposed to explain how cosmic rays could affect clouds, but they need to be investigated further if the observation is to become more than just another correlation among geophysical variables.”
OK. Now, here is the abstract of a 2003 study, by extremely well qualified people, that finds the opposite correlation to Svensmark et al, 1997 (the cosmic ray connection on which you’ve been betting your farm). What, precisely, is your response to this, bearing in mind the insults you’ve flung at those who haven’t leapt to factor the Svensmark effect – now well and truly challenged by later studies – in to their climate models?

Btw one point I was attempting to make in my last PR release was that the more scanty the understanding and vested the interest of the protagonist in the global warming gabfest, the louder the noise being made. The people with the deepest understanding and greatest capabilities are not the ones we hear amid the squealing. Surprise.

Anyway, my estimate is that the implementation of a 2% carbon tax from day 1, tomorrow, indexed to increase at 2%pa for a decade, would have an overall effect on consolidated world GDP that would be lost in the noise, except for the following opportunity. People being as people are, responding as well as humanity has over our history to stresses and shocks to our systems – my faith is that the stimulus provided us by the small-start carbon tax, and the distribution of its proceeds to fossil fuel replacement ends, might well be of far greater moment than its simple dollar rate would suggest. A small carbon tax, redistributed to R&D and intelligent market interventions, isn’t a cost to world GDP but a transfer from one sector to another at worst. Also, its market distortion should be contained by ensuring the reinvestment of the tax revenue within the energy sector itself. So I agree with those misrepresented “Copenhagen” economists that a low start, indexed carbon tax is the thing to have on the policy table for discussion right now, today. If it will take until tomorrow to see implementation of the tax then let’s sign Kyoto today anyway, because it’d focus our minds a little better for a while, by which time new research and new diplomacy will have arrived anyway to save the day for Vested Interests.

As for the “2% of GDP!” campaign designed to instil fear and loathing of human progress into the consuming masses, there must be several questions but the best response is simply, I think, that it’s a meaningless number. Kyoto will be overtaken by events whatever happens, so fanciful extrapolations of it into the far future are of a whole lot less interest to me than would be serious consideration of the costs and benefits of a carbon tax.

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frankis 02.12.05 at 5:14 am

As it’s been drawn to my attention that Springer is apparently restricting access to that link to subscribers only … here is the entire abstract:

“Cosmic ray flux impact on clouds? An analysis of radiosonde, cloud cover, and surface temperature records from the United States”

R. C. Balling Jr.1 and R. S. Cerveny1
(1) Office of Climatology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, U.S.A., US

Summary ¶Many scientists have suggested that variations in cosmic ray flux may impact cloudiness at regional, hemispheric, or global scales. However, considerable debate surrounds (a) whether high or low clouds are most strongly impacted by cosmic rays, (b) the degree of seasonality in cloud responses to cosmic rays, and (c) the determination of physical processes involved in cosmic ray/cloud interactions. Some scientists find strong correlation coefficients between cloud measurements and cosmic ray flux, while others find no relationship whatsoever; virtually all scientists working on this issue are hampered by the relatively short time period with accurate cloud and cosmic ray flux records. In an attempt to extend the period of record, we assembled surface and radiosonde data for the United States over the period 1957–1996 along with sunspot records which are known to be strongly, but inversely, related to cosmic ray flux. We also assembled cloud cover data and cosmic ray measurements over a reduced time period. We found that periods with low sunspot number (times with high cosmic ray flux) are associated with significantly higher dew point depressions, a higher diurnal temperature range, and less cloud cover. Our results do not support suggestions of increased cloud cover during periods of high cosmic ray flux.
Received May 14, 2002; accepted February 17, 2003 Published online May 26, 2003

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jet 02.12.05 at 4:53 pm

“At this time, that is where the matter rests – comprehensively undecided. You know, science is a difficult pursuit whereas religious faith and heckling can be undertaken by almost anyone.” Yet it is me arguing that taking action is rash, while you are arguing that we should go ahead with a decision. Please try to comprehend this point of view. Because I have a tough time sanctioning action when the margin of error remains so large. Would doctors go ahead with surgery when they only had a ~25% idea of what the problem was, or do more testing?

“If you don’t like the IPCC “droning on””, the IPCC’s chapter on cosmic rays had a different voice than the rest of the paper. Almost every sentence contained a denunciation. They were denouncing what they could not know about probably because it conflicted with their conclusion.

“What, precisely, is your response to this,”, well this is hard since I can’t read the full paper. But it appears they added on ~20 more years of suspect data, limited their data set to and area the size of the US (maybe they could have picked a smaller data set like Chicago), probably harped on the ~1993 anomaly (explained by high vs low clouds), and came to the conclusion that they wanted to come to. But how should I know, I can’t read the paper?

As for the 2% carbon tax, I’d be its biggest proponent if the tax was going into R&D grants. But we don’t have that, we have ~half the US backing Kyoto, which will send (in its best incarnation) tons of money to world dictators and corrupt governments, making a whole class of corrupt bureaucrats rich, while doing very little to help the third world. History is on my side for that one.

““Physical mechanisms have been proposed to explain how cosmic rays could affect clouds, but they need to be investigated further if the observation is to become more than just another correlation among geophysical variables.””, You mean we need more research before we have an answer? How many times and in how many different ways do I have to say this before you understand that is my thesis!

“The people with the deepest understanding and greatest capabilities are not the ones we hear amid the squealing. Surprise.” Perhaps because they realize how little understood the problem is.

But I understand that taking the viewpoint that we should not act too rashly is grounds for a horsewhipping to some. So maybe I should change my mind out of fear for my horse :)

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jet 02.12.05 at 5:00 pm

Alas, we are 4 posts from being sent to archive land where all discussions end. Frankis, it was a great pleasure exchanging ideas with you. Thank you for your time.

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frankis 02.13.05 at 3:05 am

You may be right that we could let this thread now fade to black Jet, so my thanks to you too, it’s been real :)
I’d hoped that engineer-poet or Lyndon or somebody might have interrupted our gentle musings once more though with some thoughtful comments. Ah well, if the archiving genie doesn’t intrude to foil me you know I’m going to take the opportunity of one last flogging, right?

The only issue I referred to as being “comprehensively undecided” is the issue on which you have apparently bet your entire future, The Cosmic Ray Hypothesis(TM). However it may well be the case that some people are also transfixed at the moment by the difficult, undecided questions that still surround those late breaking results suggesting that little pink pixies from hothouse Venus have been behind the global warming of Earth to date, preparing our environment for their own comfort post invasion (when they will worship the clown Gods Milloy, Freddie S and the Idsos as their saviours and eat the rest of us, sorry).

You know the IPCC has relied upon theory that does in fact include the possibility that solar irradiance may have increased quite significantly through the 20th century, yet you insist that you will not be satisfied until things become more cosmic. Surely though you must believe, as I do, that a scientific conclusion to the cosmic ray question and a defeat of the hothouse pixies would not bring peace to our good Earth, Jet? There are more surprises yet to come from vestedinterest.com (to name but one certain source of fanciful new anti-science)! Meanwhile, greenhouse warming of Earth is about as well understood a theory as is evolution. Even a panel of economists, put together by an anti-environmentalist, “… recognised that global warming must be addressed … expressed an interest in an alternative … carbon tax much lower in the first years of implementation”

Inaction is rash when action is required. Why do you hate environmental conservatism, renewables and nuclear, Jet? (Ignore that if you like :) Well, bless you Jet and all who place their faith in you, it has indeed been good and thanks for your time.

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jet 02.13.05 at 4:06 am

Did you really just end this by calling Lomborg an anti-environmentalist and comparing a widely respected hypothesis with pink pixies from Venus? Ease up Cap, Lomborg isn’t the enemy. Your nemeses are those Martians salting the plains of Australia.

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Lyndon 02.14.05 at 1:53 am

Sorry chaps for the inaction on my front, despite promises to look into uncertainties previously mentioned. Appreciate that you two have kept the debate alive and well, and have followed with interest. I simply didn’t have the time to research further information about the points of contention.

A good resource for climate change science is realclimate.org. I am sure you both have seen this, but I will just plug it any case. It gives rather good explanations of some of the disputed points (and a rather nice demolition of the “authoritative science” in Crichton’s latest book–a book which is sure to do immense harm to the general public’s understanding of climate change issues and the aims of conservationists). The former website is run by climate scientists who are not skeptics, but one could compare the information on this website with others run by those who are skeptical, and compare the two to see which is more believable.

Just as a closing thought, regarding the point about whether we should or should not take action against climate change, I think it is useful to frame the question as if it related to a business decision. So, suppose you are in charge of a large corporation that is facing down a threat from a major competitor. There are some hard to ignore signs that your competitor has been retooling their factory for new production, whilst putting major effort into market research for a class of product which had only previously been produced by you. Now, it is unclear when or if they will actually make this product, how successful it will be, and what sort of market share they can wrest away from you. Your top executives offer dissenting views on the impact that this push by your rival could have, but most seem to be concerned.

So what would the average CEO do when faced with a potential, yet not completely knowable, threat by a rival? Would they wait until their knowledge was perfect before taking steps to counter the challenge by the rival? I am no businessman, but I think not. I think a good CEO would do what they could to head off the challenge before they were bitten by it. Business must act in an environment that is not completely knowable.

So, my own view is that we are facing a problem that could have vast consequences. The threat may never be entirely clear, but it certainly makes long term business sense to try and address this challenge to our worldwide business enterprise (the global ecosystem). Besides, it will force us to innovate, and open up whole new avenues (remember, many of the companies who were complaining about Montreal found that they benefitted by cutting out ozone killing CFCs).

Anyway, let me end my longer than expected rant here. Been a pleasure, and hope to hear more in the near future. Cheers.

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jet 02.14.05 at 1:27 pm

Well, we went to archive land and are still having a convo, so here’s to that. I recently read an article on Ergosphere, along with a few linked papers, that lead me to believe that even if the CO2 theory pans out to only be causing 1% of global warming, Kyoto would still be a great idea. We could cut electricity COSTS and energy USEAGE by roughly ~60% simply by deregulating the energy market. That would easily meet Kyoto standards and spur the economy quite nicely. How synergetic to both sides of the debate is that? The only downside, which isn’t really a downside, is the current players in the energy industry would take a bath, but screw them for 40 years of bad decisions.

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