“It’s Global Warming, Stupid” – US re-awakens


9:19 am - November 2nd 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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In the wake of Hurricane Sandy this week, Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, said: “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? Yes. Fueled by many factors. Is storm stronger because of climate change? Yes.”

But while the scientific community has warned about how climate change could exacerbate such storms and hurricanes, even the business community is waking up. Or, at least, re-awakening.

This is the latest US-based Businessweek mag cover

It makes this important point:

If all that doesn’t impress, forget the scientists ostensibly devoted to advancing knowledge and saving lives. Listen instead to corporate insurers committed to compiling statistics for profit.

On Oct. 17 the giant German reinsurance company Munich Re issued a prescient report titled Severe Weather in North America. Globally, the rate of extreme weather events is rising, and “nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America.” From 1980 through 2011, weather disasters caused losses totaling $1.06 trillion. Munich Re found “a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades.” By contrast, there was “an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe, and 1.5 in South America.” Human-caused climate change “is believed to contribute to this trend,” the report said, “though it influences various perils in different ways.”

This July was the hottest month recorded in the U.S. since record-keeping began in 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The U.S. Drought Monitor reported that two-thirds of the continental U.S. suffered drought conditions this summer.

Granted, Munich Re wants to sell more reinsurance (backup policies purchased by other insurance companies), so maybe it has a selfish reason to stir anxiety. But it has no obvious motive for fingering global warming vs. other causes.

Read the full article here

Of course – yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg also endorsed Obama on the back of similar sentiments.

If the US business community finally wakes up to the cost of global warming thanks to Sandy, that may be no bad thing.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


The stupid! It hurts!

Weather related losses have quintupled. Fine – I accept that. But has anyone stopped to ask what GDP has done in that time?

In inflation adjusted terms, since 1980, it has increasd by a factor of 7. If you factor in inflation the number is even higher.

So what does this tell us?

It tells us that more damage in nominal USD terms is being done because people have got richer, and that as a % of GDP weather events are actually causing *less* damage than they were 30 years ago.

Way to make a point Sunny.

2. Chaise Guevara

@ Tyler

“The stupid! It hurts!

Weather related losses have quintupled. Fine – I accept that. But has anyone stopped to ask what GDP has done in that time? ”

Ahem:

“a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss EVENTS in North America for the past three decades.”

Events. Not total cost: events.

I’m sure you’ll honourably offer Sunny an apology for going off half-cocked.

And we’re going to stop it how exactly?
I have no idea of the science so I’ll take people’s word for it, but the solution seems to be to lessen commercial activity and general march of modernity.
Can India be a developed society like western countries and still have low carbon output?
And the same with Egypt, Indonesia and Nigeria.
It seems doubtful unless we get new technology.
The trends all seem to point the other way.

@Tyler

> “Weather related losses have quintupled”

No. Opening with the statement “The stupid! It hurts!”, and immediately following with a miss-statement of the article content is not a good way to begin a comment.

If you look again at the wording, it says “nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events”. It is talking about the number of events quintupling, not a quintupling of financial costs, which it quotes for the entire three decade period.

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 damon

“I have no idea of the science so I’ll take people’s word for it, but the solution seems to be to lessen commercial activity and general march of modernity.
Can India be a developed society like western countries and still have low carbon output?
And the same with Egypt, Indonesia and Nigeria.
It seems doubtful unless we get new technology.
The trends all seem to point the other way.”

No they don’t. The trend with renewables is that they’re improving – as you’d expect. A favourite canard of the anti-environmental crowd is to take performance data from renewables (usually the oldest data they can find) and pretend that performance won’t rise as the tech develops.

Lessening commercial activity? Developing and installing renewables is commercial activity in its own right, but if we DO have to take a short-term hit, it should be worth it in the long run. We’re in this state because the baby boomers were too complancent to fix their own mess (see also: irresponsible lending). The next generation – mine – would be twice as stupid to repeat that mistake.

As for the “march of modernity”: what could be more modern than developing cleaner, sustainable fuels? Futurists have been banging on about it forever. In any case, your march of modernity – along with commercial activity – is going to hit a big fucking brick wall when the oil and gas run out.

6. TorquilMacneil

“Granted, Munich Re wants to sell more reinsurance (backup policies purchased by other insurance companies), so maybe it has a selfish reason to stir anxiety.”

Would you say so? I cannot believe that the left is still so naive about big business (so long as it is saying something that the left wants it to say). When huge corporations start telling you that government needs to start spending lots of money on something, put your hand on your wallet.

Let’s see how far I can get down the logic chain with this.

1)There was a storm this week that affected New York.
2)There are more such storms happening now than in the recent past.
3)This is because we are experiencing climate change.
4)The climate change we are currently experiencing is abnormal.
5)It is abnormal because of global warming.
6)Global warming is caused by the increased carbon emissions we have made. This has affected the temperature of the earth.
7)This warming is greater than anything we have experienced before and is driving the climate change.
8)If we can slow the rate of increase in global carbon emissions, further warming will be slowed.
9)If we can stop the rate of increase in global carbon emissions, the warming will be stopped.
10)If we can reverse the rate of increase in global carbon emissions, the warming will be reversed.
11)Given that the cost of reversing the rate of increase in global carbon emissions is leaving much of the population of the planet poor and undeveloped, it is still a price worth paying and investment in dealing with the symptoms of climate change is not worth considering.
12)US businesses will follow the above logic chain and change their behaviour.

Given my innate scepticism, I can’t get past 4) but I am sure there will be many impressionable enough to follow Sunny’s logic to its conclusion.

Chaise Guevara, by trends going the other way, I mean that individual countries energy consumption is rising year on year and I can’t see any reductions from developing countries anytime soon.
Of course a developed country like Australia which has about the higest per-capita carbon output could cut it a bit, but the demand for cars, holidays and air-conditioning is just going to grow and grow. Until everyone lives in a high-tech house and everywhere in the world is as developed as Japan.
Even formally basket case African economies are starting to grow, and plenty of people are moving from poor countries to rich ones because they want more. Maybe we just have to use up all the oil and gas first, and then work out what to do next.

9. Man of the People

Some hippy billionaire, the Berlusconi of New York, takes a break from banning foodstuffs to pronounce through all his gaping outlets the “truth” of global warming and we are supposed to bow down to it? It deserves as much credence as Trump’s idiocies over the birth certificate. Normally a concentration of economic and political power like Bloomberg’s would elicit outrage by the likes of Sunny. He makes Romney look principled…

10. Chaise Guevara

@ 8 damon

“Chaise Guevara, by trends going the other way, I mean that individual countries energy consumption is rising year on year and I can’t see any reductions from developing countries anytime soon.”

OK, then you seem to be arguing from perfection fallacy. Even if we can’t source all our power from renewable sources, we’re a damn sight better off sourcing as much of it as possible that way.

“Maybe we just have to use up all the oil and gas first, and then work out what to do next.”

I hope nobody ever puts you in charge of anything. You’ve honed in on the stupidest, most irresponsible solution imaginable. I know being a contrarian makes you feel all clever and special, but this is pushing it even by your standards.

11. TorquilMacneil

“Even if we can’t source all our power from renewable sources, we’re a damn sight better off sourcing as much of it as possible that way.”

No we are not. We are only better off if we can source enough of it in that way so as to offset the effects of global warming, and there is good reason to be sceptical that that is possible. everything else is just (very expensive) musical chairs.

Hey, that was a bit of a throwaway remark (by me) Chaise. Is Russia really going to agree to stop selling its gas? And those countries with oil likewise?

You will forgive me for not taking all of this entirely seriously, as there has been too much spin about it to know what’s true and what is hyped.
I really can’t see the brakes going on antime in the next five years say. So nothing till then – will things change radically in the five years after that? It’s pretty obvious that every attempt to reduce ommisions will be undermined ….. and resented too, particularly in the developing world. We are going to (for example I presume) to have to make air travel much much more expensive to choke off demand.
Fine, but how fair is that? So only the rich will be able to fly again like in the past.
Just when the world has gone global and people can now be living in any part of it and will want to visit back home or just see the rest of the world.

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 11 Torquil

“No we are not. We are only better off if we can source enough of it in that way so as to offset the effects of global warming, and there is good reason to be sceptical that that is possible. everything else is just (very expensive) musical chairs.”

Nope. Because pollution is a problem in and of itself, and eventually conventional fuel sources will run out (and even before that, they’ll become cripplingly and dangerously rare).

I know that the anti-renewables side like to pretend that climate change is the be-all and end-all of the issue, but it really isn’t. Sometimes you have to address the issues rather than just claiming they don’t exist.

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 12 damon

So you ARE just arguing from perfection fallacy.

15. TorquilMacneil

Nope. Because pollution is a problem in and of itself, and eventually conventional fuel sources will run out (and even before that, they’ll become cripplingly and dangerously rare).

Pollution is, in general a local problem that can be dealt with locally without changing to new sources of power. How much pollution you can stand will tend to depend on your levels of poverty and how badly you want to shift them. We have learned to use fossil fuels cleanly. I think we would find it easier to persuade Beijing to stop sending run-offs into the the Yangtze than to double the cost of their fuel.

When fossil fuels do become expensive because rarer, we will, of course, find alternatives. That is what prices are for: to tell us when to change priorities. At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, though, cheap fossil fuel is abundant. If using it is going to cause disasters, that is a good reason to change (because we are pricing it wrongly), but only if the change can be effective, and as things stand China says not.

Sandy is not actually abnormal in the long-term sense.

The previous pattern suggests 5-10 more years of serious similar events in the NY / NJ area, followed by 20-30 years of relative calm.

Worryingly, both Irene and Sandy were only category 2; a category 1 storm is more than possible over the next few years.

The storm, however, tells us nothing about Climate Change.

For example, one reason that so many more events are now recorded is that they now CAN be recorded. Most storms occur out to sea, with very few coming in this far North. Up until recently, most storms were unrecorded.

This is not an anti-warming point to make: it’s just that using Sandy in this way is no different to denying it because it snows.

Don’t forget, also, that Climate Change will occur anyway and there is absolutely nothing we can do about that.

Who knows, AGW may even be a way of preventing global freezing.

The truth is that we have insufficient knowledge of physics – the last 50 years has been more about expanding our knowledge of what we DON’T know.

Meanwhile, turn that TV off properly etc etc! Kids!

18. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Pagars points are interesting :-

8)If we can slow the rate of increase in global carbon emissions, further warming will be slowed.
9)If we can stop the rate of increase in global carbon emissions, the warming will be stopped.
10)If we can reverse the rate of increase in global carbon emissions, the warming will be reversed.

Sadly, none are valid.

The issue in my view stems from the inherent chaos associated with the global climate. Like a tanker,it will take an age to turn around. As yet we havent even started turning the wheel and indeed strong oposition will continue from the oil companies who will maximise their Corporate power over climate politics. To sequest carbon naturally takes up to 36000 years . Even if all industry woke up tomorrow, instead of promoting the current boom in coal sales due to gas fracking, it might take a 1000’s of years before you would see any reversal. That doesnt discount the possibility that between times conditions may become intolerable for all life on the planet before they settle back down. All that also ignores the questionable assumption that no other postive feedback loops are initiated.(theres a lot of evidence to suggest they will be)
Further, because this is a chaotic system, the ability to understand the implications of the starting conditions means that maybe by the time Global warming hit the scientific headlines in the 1960’s,it may have already been too late to do anything. I havent done the maths but given Venus is 0.7 AU relative to us, I would guess our equilibrium temperature may settle at about 400 degrees.

Pagar @ 7

4)The climate change we are currently experiencing is abnormal.

I thought you cunts were all about property rights? What does it matter if some event is ‘abnormal’ or not? The only thing that matters is whether such events are influenced by someone else’s actions. Trees fall down through natural occurrences every day, but I cut down a tree that damages your car, then you have a claim against me. I don’t get to say ‘ah, but trees also hit cars through natural events’ do I?

The science is pretty straightforward. Human activity has caused extra carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere and we can measure that. The extra CO2 we have released will cause so much extra heat to be trapped and we can measure that too. We can calculate what the extra heat will do to the environment and we can see that the property rights of others will be affected by this behaviour.

It doesn’t matter that during the early Mesozoic era or whatever had more or less carbon dioxide or higher or lower average temperatures. What we are talking about is the damage your activities are causing other people.

Your emissions are causing damage to other people’s property. You are supposed to be a libertarian, so instead of hiding behind your innate greed (scepticism, yeah right!) why not come up with a plan to stop your behaviour causing other people harm?

20. Chaise Guevara

@ 15 Torquil

“We have learned to use fossil fuels cleanly.”

No we haven’t. We’ve learned to minimise the damage.

“I think we would find it easier to persuade Beijing to stop sending run-offs into the the Yangtze than to double the cost of their fuel.”

True enough, but rather beside the point. What I’m saying here is that there are issues around surrounding environmentalism that don’t immediately invoke the tragedy of the commons.

“When fossil fuels do become expensive because rarer, we will, of course, find alternatives. That is what prices are for: to tell us when to change priorities.”

The problem with this, as with near any philosophy that eulogises market forces, is that it ignores that available choices are constricted by power. I’m sure we’ll see the end of gas and oil from far enough off that we’ll be able to develop enough power generation to support the first world (although it may be less plentiful than we like). The third world, however, will be fucked. They’ll already be fucked, in fact, because once oil starts turning into gold dust they won’t see any of it.

So what follows? War. Starvation. Dispossession. Or we could fix the problem now, before it becomes an emergency, and ease the transition – and cut back on pollution while we’re at it!

“…but only if the change can be effective, and as things stand China says not.”

You’re defaulting back to the “renewable power is solely about climate change” canard. I don’t see China trying to prevent our development of solar, wind etc. (quite the opposite, in fact).

21. Chaise Guevara

@ Jack C

“This is not an anti-warming point to make: it’s just that using Sandy in this way is no different to denying it because it snows.”

Fair enough. The title of the OP (surprise!) rather over-eggs the pudding in any case. The point being made in the quoted text is that climate change will have affected the the storm (almost definitely true) by exacerbating it (possibly). The problem is that the OP is accepting this while trying to also play off the “OMG climate change attacked New York!” meme.

“Don’t forget, also, that Climate Change will occur anyway and there is absolutely nothing we can do about that.”

That’s not true, as your next point shows. We can’t stop it; might not want to depending on the specifics. We can have some influence, though.

“Who knows, AGW may even be a way of preventing global freezing.”

And if that were the case, it might mean encouraging AGW sometime in the future. Who knows?

Apologies, I meant that there will be “some” Climate Change whatever we do, and on a massive scale (for example, it’s unusual for the Earth to have any ice at all, which puts melting glaciers in perspective. And the European bit of New Jersey may come home some day).

Perhaps the Scientific “community” could invite the Business “community” around to their place for cheese, nibbles and a discussion on re-insurance trends.

@ Jim

Pagar @ 7

4)The climate change we are currently experiencing is abnormal.

I thought you cunts were all about property rights? What does it matter if some event is ‘abnormal’ or not? The only thing that matters is whether such events are influenced by someone else’s actions.

You are spectacularly missing the point I was making- that the climate change we are experiencing is entirely normal.

In mediaeval times the earth was warmer than the current hysterians are predicting it will become and a few hundred years ago you could walk across the Thames. The correct response to hurricane Sandy should be “it’s weather, it happens”.

Can you get right through the logic chain I posted by agreeing with every statement? If not, you have to accept that the premise in the OP is nonsense.

24. Chaise Guevara

@ Jack C

I think what we need to do is avoid accelerating climate change to a speed that we won’t be able to deal with as a civilisation; or, if it’s going that quickly anyway, to slow it down. It’ll change anyway, but over long periods we’ll adapt to that, probably without really noticing. The danger is speed.

Undirected change is usually destructive, for the same reason that it’s easier to destroy rather than create. If you chuck your detuned guitar down the stairs, there’s an infinitesimal chance you’ll get it back perfectly tuned, but it’s far more likely to just break the guitar. Random effects are dangerous to complex systems, and both humans and society are complex systems.

@Jim

“instead of hiding behind your innate greed (scepticism, yeah right!) why not come up with a plan to stop your behaviour causing other people harm?”

Tell, me what steps have you taken to reduce your personal impact on the environment?

I mean apart from chucking the word “cunts” about like confetti at a wedding?

Chaise,
I would agree, and nice analogy; we are rather stepping into the unknown.

One thing we should bear in mind is that there HAVE been improvements, ie reductions in our emissions in recent years.

The difficulty is going to be the impact of developing nations. Solutions have to bear two things in mind:

1) The human race will not go backwards willingly, ie to an agrarian lifestyle.
2) Harping on about the massive cost of mitigation will encourage nobody. The pitch needs to shift to the benefits, in terms of pollution reduction and cost savings.

Cunt.

I’m not sure lazy comments about “even the business community waking up” to climate change are helpful.

There’s a lot of money to be made in selling “green” products. That’s why businesses have been investing and developing and marketing such products for many years now. Take a look at the corporate website of pretty much any automotive manufacturer and you’ll see plenty about the wonderful new low-emission technology they’ve been developing.

If only the solution to our problems was as simple as getting “even” the dumb business community to take an interest in the world around them!

@8. damon: “Of course a developed country like Australia which has about the higest per-capita carbon output could cut it a bit…”

Australia is a bit like the USA in terms of domestic energy use: bigger cars (in the country) than in Europe and air conditioning. Those may be acceptable usages; I’m not going to judge Australians.

Most of the “highest per-capita carbon output” is a consequence of Australian farming and industry. The carbon output from Australian meat and grain counts against Australia rather than the country where it is consumed. Ditto for the carbon output from mining.

Perhaps, when measuring per-capita carbon output, we measure the wrong thing. Output, like VAT, should be measured at the final point of sale.

29. Derek Hattons Tailor

@24 “Random effects are dangerous to complex systems, and both humans and society are complex systems.”

Random effects are both a cause and effect of complex systems. Even in tightly controlled systems randomness cannot be completely eliminated. Nor is randomness necessarily undesirable. Look at evolution, attempts to eliminate randomness have been unsuccessful and destructive

@pagar

> the climate change we are experiencing is entirely normal.

No, it is not, the rate of warming in the 20th century (particularly the late 20th century) is anomalous.

> In mediaeval times the earth was warmer

Again, not true:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/werent-temperatures-warmer-during-the-medieval-warm-period-than-they-are-today/

> a few hundred years ago you could walk across the Thames.

Parts of the river Thames are known to have frozen in 923, 1063, 1076, 1410 (record freezing), 1536, 1564, 1608, 1683-4, 1715-6, 1739-40, 1788, 1794-1795 and 1814, which was the last time a “frost fair” was set up on the Thames. Note that, that is a wide range of periods, which includes the Medieval Warm Period (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/03/art-and-climate/)

@26. Jack C: “2) Harping on about the massive cost of mitigation will encourage nobody. The pitch needs to shift to the benefits, in terms of pollution reduction and cost savings.”

Assuming that I adopt that as a message, what lessons are to be learned from the past? The Victorian sewage and water systems required immediate capital investment but delivered a long term social and economic benefit. I suspect that they payed off quicker than the creators ever dared to imagine.

But renewable energy sources, as they currently exist, are uneconomic and reliant on subsidies. For an experimental plant, subsidy may be a good thing, but only for knowledge. Most renewable energy installations are not experiments, scientific or economic. If you mass produced current renewable sources, they would not be economic for the UK; they might work elsewhere.

As I have said many times here previously, oil is much too useful to burn in (IC) internal combustion engines. But the IC engine has transformed the world and the substitute fuel must be as available and convenient.

Charlieman,
I take your point about subsidies, but that does not mean that overall cost should increase.

If we reduce usage by 50%, then we can increase unit cost by 100% without affecting the absolute cost.

50% is not impossible when we consider energy efficiencies still being made, changing habits etc.

In the average household, especially one with children in it, how much of their power usage is wasted each week? I would think it’s quite significant (I mean genuinely wasted, lights and gadgets left on, heating too high, blah blah)

33. andrew adams

Jack C, Chaise

Apart from warmer sea temperatures and higher sea levels another there is another way in which climate change may have affected Sandy. There has been a stubborn “blocking high” near Greenland which meant that instead of drifting harmlessly northeast Sandy was forced westwards and inland. This blocking high has been linked to the record low arctic ice levels.

34. andrew adams

In mediaeval times the earth was warmer than the current hysterians are predicting it will become

You have evidence for that?

35. Derek Hattons Tailor

You can’t prove *any* global temperatures before the late 19th C as accurate measurement of temperature wasn’t possible. This has always been the biggest flaw in any theory of climate change, we only have access to data for a tiny amount of climatic history. There is other evidence of a European MWP (tree rings, plant fossils etc) and some cultural evidence.

@31. Jack C: “50% is not impossible when we consider energy efficiencies still being made, changing habits etc.”

A 50% reduction is a ludicrous target for domestic consumption. Put on a jumper, turn down the heating and save lots of money. Insulate the house a bit more. Our parents and grandparents used less energy in less tech times. 50% reduction relative to what?

I have two meters to tell me whether my energy consumption is efficient: my electricity and gas bills.

Please save energy in the home, if only to keep the household bill down. Industry sucks up much more energy. Don’t beat up on “inefficient householders”.

I’m not having a go against you, Jack C, just challenging the lazy ideas that we are prone to accept.

@Derek Hattons Tailor

> You can’t prove *any* global temperatures before the late 19th C…

Sorry, but this completely misses the point and requires that you ignore a vast swathe of scientific understanding across multiple fields. Thermometers are not the only means to determine temperature, and the inability to narrow temperatures down to the nearest one-hundredth of a degree by other methods does not render them useless.

Geological and biological evidence over the Earth’s history (i.e. rock formation and the type of flora from past epochs are dependent on the prevalent climate at the time) allow temperature ranges to be significantly constrained.

Knowledge of the Earth’s orbit and precession over time permit energy gains to be quantified.

Atmospheric gases trapped in ice cores allow atmospheric composition over recent (geological) history to be determined, and our understanding of the physics underlying greenhouse gases also allows constraints to be applied.

By the time you take all of this (and much, much more) evidence together a great deal can be stated regarding conditions over long periods of Earth’s history.

38. andrew adams

@34 Derek,

Sure, we can only make estimates based on the best estimates we have, and that seems to indicate that there was a European MWP but that temperatures globally, or over the NH, were probably not as warm as today, let alone warmer than the projections of future CO2 caused warming.

39. So Much for Subtlety

You do realise that extreme weather events in the US are lower now than in the 1950s?

There is no sign things are getting worse. It is just that governments are getting worse at coping, more people live along the coasts and we value dead people, especially dead White people, more than we used to.

@ Charlieman

Ludicrous? Really? Luddite.

Let’s hope I’m right and you’re wrong, otherwise an increasing global population and increasing prosperity can only mean increasing CO2 emissions.

@So Much for Subtlety
> You do realise that extreme weather events in the US are
> lower now than in the 1950s?

What are you classing as extreme weather events? Hurricanes, hurricane landfalls, tropical storms, floods, droughts, tornadoes, …?

Is there a citation?

42. Derek Hattons Tailor

@ 36 It doesn’t require that I ignore anything, I was citing exactly the same multiple evidence sources, which support the European Medieval Warming period and higher than now atmospheric CO2 levels in the distant past. You cannot use that evidence when it supports “abnormal” warming and ignore it when it doesn’t.

Boy is it embarrassing when right-wingers come on to climate-change related threads.

Some hippy billionaire, the Berlusconi of New York,

Right. The guy who was previously a Republican (the party that wanted cap-and-trade before they decided that all science was a left-wing conspiracy), and one who is the hardest capitalist in the information business. That hippy?

Seriously. Since when did right-wingers decide that they were going to embrace anti-intellectualism and sheer stupidity when it came to climate science? It’s just embarrassing.

44. So Much for Subtlety

13. Chaise Guevara

Nope. Because pollution is a problem in and of itself, and eventually conventional fuel sources will run out (and even before that, they’ll become cripplingly and dangerously rare).

Pollution is a problem but CO2 is not, in and of itself. Apart from allegedly warming the planet it has nothing but positive side effects. Fossil fuels may become cripplingly rare. One day. But not for the next few centuries. Not in a time frame we have to care about.

18. Man on Clapham Omnibus

The issue in my view stems from the inherent chaos associated with the global climate. Like a tanker,it will take an age to turn around.

So you claim. Why do you think so? If it is chaotic – and I wouldn’t use words you do not understand if I were you – then by definition almost, it can turn on a dime.

All that also ignores the questionable assumption that no other postive feedback loops are initiated.(theres a lot of evidence to suggest they will be)

There is no evidence of any positive feedbacks of note. There may be some, but they are not having a noticeable effect so far.

I havent done the maths but given Venus is 0.7 AU relative to us, I would guess our equilibrium temperature may settle at about 400 degrees.

Well if there’s nothing to be done, we may as well do nothing. Carry on.

19. Jim

The science is pretty straightforward.

No it isn’t. The science is anything but.

The extra CO2 we have released will cause so much extra heat to be trapped and we can measure that too.

No we cannot.

We can calculate what the extra heat will do to the environment and we can see that the property rights of others will be affected by this behaviour.

Nor can we do that. Nor do we know that people will be adversely affected. They may benefit.

Your emissions are causing damage to other people’s property.

There is no measurable effect from CO2 emissions anywhere in the world. None. You are simply wrong.

20. Chaise Guevara

I’m sure we’ll see the end of gas and oil from far enough off that we’ll be able to develop enough power generation to support the first world (although it may be less plentiful than we like). The third world, however, will be fucked. They’ll already be fucked, in fact, because once oil starts turning into gold dust they won’t see any of it.

Why not? They won’t be Third World countries for a start. They will be richer than we are now. They will also have their own fossil fuel supplies. Why wouldn’t they be able to control their own supplies if they wanted?

You’re building a massive fantasy on what would happen if this happened and then that happened and then we all did the other. This is beyond speculation.

So what follows? War. Starvation. Dispossession. Or we could fix the problem now, before it becomes an emergency, and ease the transition – and cut back on pollution while we’re at it!

CO2 is not a pollutant. How do you propose to fix the problem except by bringing on war, dispossession and starvation early? The market can solve this problem. We ought to let it.

45. So Much for Subtlety

40. Andy C

What are you classing as extreme weather events? Hurricanes, hurricane landfalls, tropical storms, floods, droughts, tornadoes, …?

Is there a citation?

The US government has an official classification system. Look at this nice picture here:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/images/tracks/majors_1951_1960.jpg

All but one of those was bigger than Sandy.

@so much for subtlety

That doesn’t support your statement. “There were a number of hurricane landfalls in the 1950s that were stronger than Sandy” is not the same as saying there were more extreme weather events in the 50s than there are now

47. Chaise Guevara

@ SMFS

“Pollution is a problem but CO2 is not, in and of itself. Apart from allegedly warming the planet it has nothing but positive side effects. ”

That warming of the planet has the potential to be a pretty serious problem. I don’t know what other side effects it has, will leave that to someone more informed than I.

“Fossil fuels may become cripplingly rare. One day. But not for the next few centuries. Not in a time frame we have to care about.”

Given that people in the industry are already worrying about peak oil, that we’ve having political rows over disruptive ways of sourcing gas, that you inevitably pick most of the low-hanging (and therefore cheap) fruit early on, and that our energy usage is rising and shows no sign of stopping in the near future… I’m not persuaded by your offhand claim.

“Why not? They won’t be Third World countries for a start. They will be richer than we are now. They will also have their own fossil fuel supplies. Why wouldn’t they be able to control their own supplies if they wanted?

You’re building a massive fantasy on what would happen if this happened and then that happened and then we all did the other. This is beyond speculation.”

I’m building a massive fantasy? This from the guy who just declared that there will be no third world countries in the near future, on the basis of sweet FA?

Even if the whole world does become rich by today’s standards (which seems unlikely, as the high quality of life in the west is hugely driven by the bad conditions elsewhere), what do you think happens to a first-world country when it suddenly can’t get the power it relies on? That’s right, it tips back into the third world.

If we find ourselves running out of fossil fuels, while still reliant on them, we will fight over them, whether that means by actual war or financially. However it happens, someone will lost out. So the only way to avoid disaster is to have enough alternative energy before this happens.

“CO2 is not a pollutant.”

Yes it is. Stop saying stupid things. The concept of “pollution” is situational, and in our present situation, it’s a pollution.

“How do you propose to fix the problem except by bringing on war, dispossession and starvation early?”

I explained this already.

“The market can solve this problem. We ought to let it.”

I’m not moved by your quasi-religious faith in blind forces. “The market” doesn’t magically solve all our problems. Even when it solves some problems, it generally creates new ones in the process.

I find it bizarre that people, often otherwise quite intelligent people, blindly bow down and worship before the concept of trade.

48. Chaise Guevara

@ 26 Jack C

“1) The human race will not go backwards willingly, ie to an agrarian lifestyle.”

Agreed. The only way to make people happily give up nice things is to make those things unnecessary (or ludicrously expensive).

“2) Harping on about the massive cost of mitigation will encourage nobody. The pitch needs to shift to the benefits, in terms of pollution reduction and cost savings.”

Agreed again. One thing that we can do here is improve and expand public transport. Build larger rail networks, so that more people find it cheaper to take a train to work than drive. Create more bus lanes, raising the value of those vehicles to consumers.

Until now I thought it would be necessary to punitively raise road and/or petrol tax to wean people off cars – something I was uncomfortable with, because some people really do need their cars and I don’t like the idea of punishing them for that. But it occurs now that we could do this better by converting more roads in cities and big towns to bus lanes, while simultaneously improving local rail links, and perhaps building some cheap park-and-rides. Car journeys would get slower, bus rides faster. People from outside of town could use rail if it suited them, or the park-and-rides. And if you needed your car because you lived and worked in the country, it wouldn’t affect you.

“Cunt.”

Heh. Unless you had a sudden personality change at the end of that post, I’m gonna assume this was accidentally pasted in from your chat with Jim?

@Derek

The medieval warm period was not hotter than today. CO2 has been higher in the past, but it’s never increased this rapidly before, and the modern increase *can* be attributed to humans by looking at carbon isotope ratios, so we *know* we’re responsible. Also, if you really were looking at the same evidence you wouldn’t say that temperatures pre late 19th C can’t be proved, *and* then say the medieval warm period was hotter; medieval predates late 19th C by several hundred years! So, can pre 19th C temperatures be trusted or not?

50. Derek Hattons Tailor

@46 CO2 Is NOT a pollutant, its a natural component of the air we breathe and always has been, so are radon, carbon monoxide and quite a few other nasties in small quantities. Without CO2 pretty much all vegitation and therefore eventually all life would die out. We cannot live on pure oxygen and nor can anything else. Pollutants are not absolutes, they are toxic IF they comprise too large a proportion of the air.
What do they teach kids in biology/chemistry these days ? cos it sure ain’t science.

@Chaise,
a la Jim, my use of the C word was to demonstrate my innate superioty and moral purity.

Were you not humbled, and resolve to live a better life?

Sunny’s post @42

Talk about anti-intellectualism, and I dread to think what affect Sunny is having in the US.

Yikes.

53. iuygsfyglajfb

@49.

Somebody didn’t read what was written.

The concept of “pollution” is situational, and in our present situation, it’s a pollution.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_hurricanes

If you look at New York hurricanes, halfway down, it appears that hurricane Sandy was only 1 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, whereas New York had 4 hurricanes of scale 3 between 1938 and 1960 – 22 years. But people had a greater acceptance of the contingencies of life then, and events didn’t have the level of shock horror which they acquire when piped into your home on the telly and the internet.
I think it needs to be pointed out, by the way, that the doubling of the global population of the organism “homo sapiens” in the 65 years since I born has had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the human race. Absolutely nothing. I mean, what difference could a mere 3.5 billion human beings make to the state of the world? But any excuse to put it all down to Uncle Sam, eh?

55. Chaise Guevara

@ 49 Derek Hattons Tailor

“CO2 Is NOT a pollutant, its a natural component of the air we breathe and always has been, so are radon, carbon monoxide and quite a few other nasties in small quantities. Without CO2 pretty much all vegitation and therefore eventually all life would die out. We cannot live on pure oxygen and nor can anything else. Pollutants are not absolutes, they are toxic IF they comprise too large a proportion of the air.
What do they teach kids in biology/chemistry these days ? cos it sure ain’t science.”

You’re pretty condescending for someone who just contradicted himself and massively missed the point, EVEN THOUGH the point was spelled out in the post he’s replying to.

CO2 an essential part of the air we breathe? Stars above! The thing is, y’see, pollutants are not absolutes. CO2 obviously isn’t a bad thing unto itself. But too much of it causes problems. We are currently pumping too much of it into the atmosphere. Ergo, it’s a pollutant.

@ iuygsfyglajfb

Cheers, glad to see not everyone’s apparently commenting while half-asleep.

56. Chaise Guevara

@ 50 Jack C

“a la Jim, my use of the C word was to demonstrate my innate superioty and moral purity.

Were you not humbled, and resolve to live a better life?”

I stared into space for five minutes, then screamed “Oh my God I HAVE BECOME A MONSTER!”

@iuygsfyglajfb

> @49…

Though I think the context of your post makes it clear that you were responding to Derek rather than (at present) me, it’s worth noting that addressing comments according to comment numbers is a little fraught, because moderated posts get inserted into the appropriate time slot, which can mess up your referencing over time, as has happened here :-).

58. Chaise Guevara

@ 56 Andy

Actually, my screen is showing Derek, not you, at 49. LC is weird (so obviously your point stands!).

@Chaise Guevara

Hmmm, that is strange. I know one of my earlier posts went to moderation because it contained links for some citations. The relevant post (30) shows up for me, I wonder if it doesn’t show up for others? (In it I give references that demonstrate the Medieval Warm Period was not warmer than today, and also references showing numerous occasions where the Thames froze, including several occasions during the MWP.

Chaise Guevara @14

”So you ARE just arguing from perfection fallacy.”

I don’t really know what that means, but you’re OK with massive modernising development in Africa for example? With tens of thousands of miles of state of the art new railways and modern high rise mega-cities … as long as it’s all done with a nod to being low carbon. With every African home being wired into the internet and having fridges and air conditioning of some kind and all the latest gadgets.
No-one is saying they have to settle for less I hope.

Can all that take place while still keeping on the right side of climate change though? I would hope so.
I just have this idea that mass consumption can’t be low carbon. All the raw materials needed and the factories and transport required.

61. Chaise Guevara

@ 58 Andy

Nothing goes for moderation. LC just has delays on publishing comments, which is probably due to bandwidth, or some other technical concept I don’t get.

AFAIK, the system tries to publish all comments automatically, but has trouble doing so. There’s definitely no active moderation here.

62. Chaise Guevara

@ 59 damon

“I don’t really know what that means”

Fair enough. “Perfection fallacy” refers to when someone says that you can’t completely erase a problem, so therefore there’s no point trying to ameliorate it.

“but you’re OK with massive modernising development in Africa for example?”

Yep. With all of the stuff you mentioned, cut here for brevity. Or at least, if they have to do without high-speed broadband and 50-inch TVs, we have to go without too.

Apparently some memo went round saying that the most disadvantaged people should be the ones making sacrifices for the environment. I’m not a fan.

“Can all that take place while still keeping on the right side of climate change though? I would hope so.
I just have this idea that mass consumption can’t be low carbon. All the raw materials needed and the factories and transport required.”

There’s no such thing as the “right side of climate change”. This is your perfection fallacy creeping back in. It’s a sliding scale, or more likely a bell-curve, not some easy, binary system of rightness and wrongness. We can agree that Africa deserves the same stuff as us, while simultaneously agreeing that we all need to be more sustainable.

Well Chaise, that’s all fine then. I obviously should read the popular science magazines, as I’m sure they explain some of the detail I’m missing … but if we have caused so much global warming by what we’ve done already, I still don’t see how we can make big enough cuts to make the difference that would actually stop the warming going up by several degrees.
We can’t do with less electricty, we will need vastly more in the future.
How do you make all that power for the whole world?
In the next decade say? Us piddling around in the UK isn’t going to have much of an affect.
In Luanda (and places all over the globe) there is a dash for cash – or aquiring stuff, by any means necessary.

When the glass doors swing open at Porsche Centre Luanda, in the capital of Angola, Esmeraldo Chinguto jumps to his feet in the hope of another sale. On display in the showroom this week was a model priced at around $170,000 (£107,390).

“The Angolan people like some luxuries and some can afford a Porsche,” said Chinguto, who has sold around 50 since opening two-and-a-half years ago. “We thought we’d have problems selling but now there is demand. More and more people want sports cars.”

A decade ago this would have seemed like fantasy. Angola was shattered by five centuries of Portuguese colonialism and a 27-year civil war between the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), backed by Russia and Cuba, and National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) rebels, aided by the United States and apartheid South Africa.

Today it is the third biggest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, having expanded by an average of 15% between 2002 and 2008. Despite a subsequent slowdown, growth is predicted to rebound to between 8% and 10% this year.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/30/angola-elections-china-oil-growing-inequality

Are they going to have to slow down and expect less?
I think the answer has to yes. Carbon austerity will have to be foisted on them by us in the ”responsible world”.

64. Chaise Guevara

@ Damon

Bored of perfection fallacy now. I’ve explained what it means, so I assume you’re just show-boating. Have fun with that.

You haven’t really explained anything. And it’s not just me you have to explian things too. I’ve asked where the early significant savings are going to come from.
Because it is urgent we are always told. I can’t see anything worthwhile happening in the short term.
For example, the USA would have to change its reliance on the car, and American cities were designed around the car. People don’t like travelling on buses in the states, apart from a few cities that are more suited to that. Everything takes too long. I have to take two buses to get into work for 6.30am. It’s a drag. In the States, taking buses around big sprawling cities seems to take an age, and are often the poor people’s transport. LA and Bangkok have built a few light rail lines, but it still doesn’t make much of a dent in the overall traffic mass.
That’s not going to change much in the next ten years.

Btw, telling somewhat skeptical people like me we’re just idiots, will probably not be the best tactic in persuasion.

66. So Much for Subtlety

46. Chaise Guevara

That warming of the planet has the potential to be a pretty serious problem. I don’t know what other side effects it has, will leave that to someone more informed than I.

Sure, it has the potential to be a pretty serious problem. So does the Black Death or Ebola or a Zombie outbreak for that matter. The question is what is the likelihood it will be a serious problem. And on the evidence so far, there is little chance it will. After all, even if all the bullsh!t put out by the warmists was true, the Earth is still massively robust. It has survived worse.

Given that people in the industry are already worrying about peak oil, that we’ve having political rows over disruptive ways of sourcing gas, that you inevitably pick most of the low-hanging (and therefore cheap) fruit early on, and that our energy usage is rising and shows no sign of stopping in the near future… I’m not persuaded by your offhand claim.

But that is because, and I don’t mean this in a rude way, you know nothing of the industry. I don’t know any sane people in the industry worrying about peak oil but if they were, we are doing just what the theorists said we would – we are turning to alternatives. Americans are fracking their little hearts out. Science has made an unconventional oil cheap enough to be worthwhile. We will pick the low hanging fruit. But then technology will advance and we will pick the next low hanging fruit. Which may even be cheaper than the previous low hanging fruit because the technology has improved. Even if it is not, it beats eating the poor.

I’m building a massive fantasy? This from the guy who just declared that there will be no third world countries in the near future, on the basis of sweet FA?

How about on the basis of the IPCC? Do you believe them? Their models show by the end of the century African incomes will be something like 95,000 a year on average. Of course we will be richer still. There is no one who predicts the continued existence of the Third World except a few Green nuts. Africa is growing nicely. All they have to do is follow China’s example and keep that up for a few decades. Problem solved. That is not a fantasy, that is a reality that is happening right before your eyes if only you cared to look.

Even if the whole world does become rich by today’s standards (which seems unlikely, as the high quality of life in the west is hugely driven by the bad conditions elsewhere)

Sorry but that is utter nonsense. The high quality of life in the West makes life in the Third World better, not worse. How can you possibly come to any other conclusion? We are a massive market for Third World goods. If we did not exist, large parts of the Third World would be in the Stone Age.

what do you think happens to a first-world country when it suddenly can’t get the power it relies on? That’s right, it tips back into the third world.

But by what possible chain of events could the First world end up without any power at all? Again this is utterly unrealistic. You are also wrong by the way. Japan and Germany may have been cut off from their fuel supplies, but they remained First World countries and so rebounded rapidly once the oil flowed again.

If we find ourselves running out of fossil fuels, while still reliant on them, we will fight over them, whether that means by actual war or financially. However it happens, someone will lost out. So the only way to avoid disaster is to have enough alternative energy before this happens.

Sorry but why would we want to do that? Fighting over oil is fiendishly expensive. Britain is an island made of coal. Why wouldn’t we just burn that? We may be able to frack enough shale to last centuries. Why do you think we would prefer to fight than to do that?

Yes it is. Stop saying stupid things. The concept of “pollution” is situational, and in our present situation, it’s a pollution.

No it isn’t. I agree that pollution is situational. In our situation CO2 is not a problem. It may become a problem in the future. If all the models are right and a bunch of clowns with poor understanding of the science freakishly turn out to be right. But right now, you cannot tell if someone is emitting CO2 next door or not. It has no impact on you at all.

I explained this already.

No, I don’t think you did, but if so, explain it again.

I’m not moved by your quasi-religious faith in blind forces. “The market” doesn’t magically solve all our problems. Even when it solves some problems, it generally creates new ones in the process.

The market is not a blind force. It is the sum total of all the informed decisions the human race can make. It is an aggregation of all the best knowledge we have. That is why it is inevitably right about most things. It does, actually, solve most problems and rarely creates any problems in doing so. Unlike the alternatives.

I find it bizarre that people, often otherwise quite intelligent people, blindly bow down and worship before the concept of trade.

I find it bizarre that some people think they are so God-like that their opinion out weighs those of all the experts in the world put together. Which is what a market represents.

67. Chaise Guevara

@ damon

“You haven’t really explained anything.”

Dude, I explained what it means in the first paragraph of post 61. If you’re not going to read stuff, that’s your problem. And if you found my explanation unclear somehow, you could use any one of a number of online resources, e.g. this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana_fallacy

…all the experts in the world put together. Which is what a market represents.

It’s quite common for people to ignore or deny individual externalities when discussing trade. It’s a bit rarer for someone to deny the very concept of an externality. If Carlsberg made internet trolls…

69. Chaise Guevara

@ 65 SMFS

“Sure, it has the potential to be a pretty serious problem. So does the Black Death or Ebola or a Zombie outbreak for that matter. The question is what is the likelihood it will be a serious problem. And on the evidence so far, there is little chance it will. After all, even if all the bullsh!t put out by the warmists was true, the Earth is still massively robust. It has survived worse.”

So you’re declaring that you’re rejecting the evidence. Nice. Also, this is a ridiculous straw man. Nobody’s saying the Earth is in danger. We’re saying that people are in danger.

It’s very revealing that you have to invent a different position to argue with.

“But that is because, and I don’t mean this in a rude way, you know nothing of the industry.”

Wrong. I’ve read several article, in publications for people in the industry, discussing the risk.

“I don’t know any sane people in the industry worrying about peak oil”

I’m pretty sure I’ve never met anyone from Botswana. Ergo, nobody lives in Botswana.

“but if they were, we are doing just what the theorists said we would – we are turning to alternatives. Americans are fracking their little hearts out. Science has made an unconventional oil cheap enough to be worthwhile. We will pick the low hanging fruit.”

We’ve picked it. What we’re doing now is falling back on more damaging solutions.

“But then technology will advance and we will pick the next low hanging fruit. Which may even be cheaper than the previous low hanging fruit because the technology has improved. Even if it is not, it beats eating the poor.”

I agree! So you’re in favour of developing sustainable power, then.

“How about on the basis of the IPCC? Do you believe them? Their models show by the end of the century African incomes will be something like 95,000 a year on average.”

Lets see those models, then.

“Sorry but that is utter nonsense. The high quality of life in the West makes life in the Third World better, not worse. How can you possibly come to any other conclusion?”

Because our quality of life is built on the cheapness of goods, which is largely down to our rapacious behaviour abroad. We’re well-off because we have people to exploit.

“But by what possible chain of events could the First world end up without any power at all?”

Running out of fossil fuels. Try to pay attention.

“Again this is utterly unrealistic. You are also wrong by the way. Japan and Germany may have been cut off from their fuel supplies, but they remained First World countries and so rebounded rapidly once the oil flowed again.”

So you’re relying on oil flowing again once there’s no more oil. Great logic there!

“Sorry but why would we want to do that? Fighting over oil is fiendishly expensive. Britain is an island made of coal.”

I didn’t say oil, I said fossil fuels. If you don’t even know that coal is a fossil fuel, you really should shut up until you’ve educated yourself to the level of an average ten-year old.

“No it isn’t. I agree that pollution is situational. In our situation CO2 is not a problem.”

Your wishful thinking does not change reality.

“It may become a problem in the future. If all the models are right and a bunch of clowns with poor understanding of the science freakishly turn out to be right.”

Tell me, how is it that you know more about climate science than climate scientists? Are you perhaps an all-seeing god? Or do you just have laughable delusions of grandeur?

“But right now, you cannot tell if someone is emitting CO2 next door or not. It has no impact on you at all.”

Yet again you demonstrate your absurd ignorance. Your next-door neighbours are not the issue. Global impact is the issue. You’re like a 9th century peasant holding forth on space travel.

“No, I don’t think you did, but if so, explain it again.”

We focus on renewables and nuclear, while limiting our usage as best we can (not by begging, or forcing, people to turn the lights off at home, but by doing things like improving public transport).

“The market is not a blind force. It is the sum total of all the informed decisions the human race can make. It is an aggregation of all the best knowledge we have. That is why it is inevitably right about most things. It does, actually, solve most problems and rarely creates any problems in doing so. Unlike the alternatives.”

That’s probably true in the magical land you live in. Here in the real world, however, the market just does whatever helps relatively powerful people become more rich. If other people get shafted along the way, the market doesn’t magically step in and prevent that happening.

“I find it bizarre that some people think they are so God-like that their opinion out weighs those of all the experts in the world put together. Which is what a market represents.”

When you’re in Waterstones buying a copy of Science for Total Idiots, perhaps you should pick up a copy of A Moron’s Guide to Economics. You’ll thank me once you stop making an idiot out of yourself.

70. RIM BIN LIN FTANG FTANG OLE BISCUIT BARRELLOLE

@ 49 Derek Hattons Tailor

I know its tough filling yer name in every morning but please
buy a science book and try to read it.

Co2 can be a pollutant at certain levels pretty much like any substance. It can also kill people and very often does.
That’s apart from its proven ability to absorb Infra red light.

Chaise,

“Because our quality of life is built on the cheapness of goods, which is largely down to our rapacious behaviour abroad. We’re well-off because we have people to exploit”.

I know that you were responding to SMFS so may have been punching something as you typed, but this is just not true, even if you meant “exploit” in a neutral sense.

72. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Chaise

I have read your admirable posts but have you considered that this process maybe unstoppable?

The questions/issues to be addressed are surely:-

What evidence is there that the current elevated Co2 can be ‘absorbed’ by earth based processes in a time frame which will allow us to control any untoward effects.

What evidence is there that things will ‘settle down’ again in a few years if we stop now.

Do foreasts predicticting maybe upto a 6 degree increase in world tempertures THIS CENTURY suggest a survivable plateau. If not what implications has this for survival in the next Century.

Have we the appropriate geopolitical environment to provide appropriate leadership and whether the conditions are right for the world to move forward.If not, why not and can the issues be resolved.

Recognition of the immense impact on global population on global warming through extra consumption and manufacturing/farming processes required to support it.

Recognition of the energy companies continued attempts to find oil/gas at any costs. The latest,fracking, has now lowered the price of coal to the extent its consumption in the west has now risen in the last year.Furthermore there is really nothing to stop Canada from its ‘oil sands’ extracting plans which will have devastating consequences

Recognition of the perdurable relationship between state and Multinational oil/gas producers and the obstacles that creates in addressing key GW issues.

The extent to which Hurricane Sandy sadly has changed only the minds of the affected people. Some others ,most notably, the religious, Republicans and the plain thick will undoubtedly carry on as normal until they find their house dismantled a couple of miles away in a field.

A recognition that people have been talking about this subject since the 60’s and nothing much has happened.

A recognition that what might have taken a few decades to set in train might be undoable or take such a long time,maybe 1000’s of years, the continuance of life on the planet is moot.

Finally, can a species whose thinking is predominantly religious and self serving have sufficient humility to save itself.

@Chaise Guevara (69)

I just wanted to say thanks for saving me from having to even consider responding to SMFS’s jaw-dropping post. I didn’t think it was possible to be wrong so often in a post of that length!

I laughed particularly hard at the bit about the markets “informed decision” making, as a quick look at the last 5 years of market activity to should disabuse anyone of the notion that the decisions are informed, I think it can be summarised as follows:

OMG Europe. Look, growth in Germany! OMG Europe. Look, growth in the US. OMG Debt-Ceiling! Look growth in China. OMG output fall in China! OMG Europe! Look, new bailout fund. OMG Europe! OMG US jobs figures! Europe looking better. OMG Fiscal-Cliff!

@Man on Clapham Omnibus

(As a note, in a few spots I’m making generic points, not “accusing” you of making arguments along the lines of those I refer to).

> What evidence is there that the current elevated Co2 can
> be ‘absorbed’…

I think that question really depends on what we do next.

Consider if all CO2 emissions were to stop tomorrow (obviously not going to happen, but it helps with understanding), at this point atmospheric CO2 plateaus around its current level (assuming temperature increases don’t cause ocean degassing). In this scenario the temperature continues to rise until a new energy equilibrium is reached, probably around 0.5 to 1.0 degree C higher than the present global average.

If we keep putting CO2 into the atmosphere the scenario changes. Now atmospheric CO2 continues to increase, and threatens to increase faster, as there is some evidence to suggest that the ocean carbon sinks are approaching saturation. Whatever the case with carbon sinks, the increase in CO2 means that any new equilibrium state will be higher, and exactly how high depends on at what point we manage to stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere. If we can keep it below 500ppm (not looking hopeful), then we can probably limit the increase in temperature to about 2 degrees C.

After that, things get messy, as you risk significant melting of permafrost, which could release vast quantities of methane into the atmosphere, exacerbating the problem.

> What evidence is there that things will ‘settle down’
> again in a few years if we stop now.

Following on from above, “in a few years”, no chance, the existing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is enough to push up global temperatures for a while before we reach a new equilibrium state. In the longer run, a new equilibrium state will be reached, the only question is what this state looks like, is it 1 degree higher, 2, or 6? That all depends on how much more CO2 we add to the atmosphere (and also what the tipping points for permafrost etc are).

> Do foreasts predicticting maybe upto a 6 degree increase…

If we hit 6 degrees then we’re in big, big trouble (there’s no reason, other than political dithering and apathy) to think that this is unavoidable.

> Have we the appropriate geopolitical environment…

I am not hopeful.

> Recognition of the immense impact on global population…

Clearly, there are many roadblocks, but its important that countries that are capable of doing things more efficiently, do so. We know we can’t prevent some further warming, the question becomes just how much warming are we will (read “stupid enough”) to risk? We need to get away from the “but China/India/Africa” attitude and simply do what we can to avoid adding to the problem.

> Recognition of the energy companies continued attempts…

Yeh, this is insane, and it really needs some serious political will to stop it. The fact the UK Government is actually looking at its vast shale deposits is scary.

> The extent to which Hurricane Sandy…

Yes, I think the world could catch fire and some people would still say “move along, nothing to see here”, you just have to hope that the market forces ( A recognition that [it] might be undoable…

Let’s hope not.

> Finally, can a species whose thinking…

If it comes down to humility, we’re doomed. We might yet find sufficiently pressing self-serving reasons to sort things out however.

Hmmm, something went astray with my last post towards the end… the last couple of paragraphs should read:

Yes, I think the world could catch fire and some people would still say “move along, nothing to see here”, you just have to hope that the market forces (look, a liberal talking about market forces :-)) of insurance costs eventually force people/companies to take action out of a more immediate self-interest.

> A recognition that [it] might be undoable…

Let’s hope not.

> Finally, can a species whose thinking…

If it comes down to humility, we’re doomed. We might yet find sufficiently pressing self-serving reasons to sort things out however.

Chaise @66 ”Dude, I explained what it means in the first paragraph of post 61”
I don’t mean that. Yes I can look up the definition of that term, my question was more about how much of a carbon reduction we need on a global scale to actually have some positive affects – or prevent the climate change? And what would that mean. Eg, half as much car driving done in the USA? It would have to be something of that scale. I then try to envisage what kind of public transport there would have to be to halve the number of car journeys in southern California.
And I’m presuming that the car industry in India and China needs to be strangled at birth, as massive car ownership in those countries will undo any good work elsewhere.

And some allowance has to be made for air travel, as we just can’t fly less. We need to fly more.
All those people who have family overseas will want to go and see them, and the desire for tourism will never cease, but the demand can only grow. Every person in China would probably like to go on a trip to Australia.
It’s already a popular destination for them. It can only become more-so as more have the means to go abroad. Maybe I just don’t have much of an imagination, but I can’t see big cutbacks in CO2 output anytime soon.

And I certainly would resent it if Britain was ”leading the way” in piling on preventitive taxes on us in the UK long before other countries were doing anything similar. There’s already a big difference between British airports and Irish ones with eco taxes.

77. Chaise Guevara

@ 70 Jack C

“I know that you were responding to SMFS so may have been punching something as you typed, but this is just not true, even if you meant “exploit” in a neutral sense.”

It is true. We get cheap goods because people abroad make them for a pittance (taking exchange rates into account), and companies operating in the third world can get away with much dodgier practices.

I’m not saying it’s the entire basis of our success or anything like that, but it’s a factor. And it would have a chilling effect on a global rise in living standards.

78. Chaise Guevara

@ 71 MoCO

Sorry to write such a short response to your post, but Andy seems to have the detail covered. I’ll just say that I’m not claiming a perfect solution exists. If things are inevitably going to get worse, we can at least try to make them get worse more slowly.

@ 72 Andy

Yeah… for once, the term “market fundamentalism” actually seems too weak a phrase! Apparently we can solve scientific queries on the basis of “whatever earns the most money is true”.

Mental.

79. Chaise Guevara

@ 75 damon

“I don’t mean that. Yes I can look up the definition of that term, my question was more about how much of a carbon reduction we need on a global scale to actually have some positive affects – or prevent the climate change?”

You get a small benefit from a small improvement and a large benefit for a large one. If one less car is produced and used, you’ve saved on the resources that would be used and the pollution that would be generated in both its manufacture and use.

This is why I keep mentioning perfection fallacy. You seem to be obstinately ignoring my central point here, which is that we shouldn’t decide not to improve things just because we can’t fix them completely. So you’re asking me to do things like work out how to cut American car usage in half, which is a complete straw man. Cut it out.

“And some allowance has to be made for air travel, as we just can’t fly less. We need to fly more.”

Do we? If anything, modern communications tech should mean we need to fly less.

“All those people who have family overseas will want to go and see them, and the desire for tourism will never cease, but the demand can only grow. Every person in China would probably like to go on a trip to Australia.”

At what point did we decide that regular trips to destinations halfway around the world are essential to having a good life? Sure, people will want to visit family, but in terms of the holidays, do you not think this shows a pretty major sense of entitlement?

It’s a bit like arguing for massively increased benefits by saying “People on the dole need giant TVs, Sky subscriptions and sports cars!”

”So you’re asking me to do things like work out how to cut American car usage in half, which is a complete straw man. Cut it out.”

In your opinion. I’ve heard lots of talk about how we’re going to have to more or less give up driving.
And I know how difficult mass transit is. It can work if everywhere becomes like Tokyo …. but that can’t happen quickly and takes decades. Modern Bangkok and Lagos are more the actually existing reality, and their trends are for ever-more consumption.
To build a transportation system that would be good enough in the sprawling American suburbs is something that will also take decades, and maybe it’s just too expensive. Even that one new line being proposed between Birmingham and London is going to cost a small fortune. And only rich people will be able to buy a ticket on it I bet.

There is room in this wider debate for this kind of skepticism I hope. There needs to be I think. I might be being a bit lazy, but the points I’m making would be common ones I think.

And yes people must be allowed to fly as much as they want. It’s only 2% of emissions remember. And the idea of flights being rationed is just too much.

81. Derek Hattons Tailor

@ 69 You are (deliberately) distorting the generally accepted meaning of the word “pollutant”. By your logic all of us are polluting the atmosphere every time we exhale, and we should aim to control breathing…. .If CO2 has morphed from a greenhouse gas to “a pollutant” fair enough, but it will serve to confuse jo public and turn the debate into one of semantics rather than science – and who could possibly want that ? For your info I have a BSc(Hons), not in climate science admittedly, but I could probably have a bash at the periodic table if that would make you happy. What’s yours, a third in er social sciences from the university of formerpoly ?

82. Chaise Guevara

#@ 79 damon

“In your opinion. I’ve heard lots of talk about how we’re going to have to more or less give up driving.”

No, NOT in my opinion, but as a simple statement of fact. I am discussing one thing, you are pretending I’m talking about something else. Despite me pointing this out several times.

Have fun talking to yourself. I’m not wasting any more time with someone so dishonest.

83. Derek Hattons Tailor

Why do we have to give up driving ? The problem is the fuel used by cars, not cars themselves. Electric cars already exist, over time and as volumes increase the technology will improve and prices will fall, as they always do. Personalised transport works, global car production is on an upward curve, it is hugely popular, and it is not going away any time soon.

And Chaise, it’s a bit pointless trying to talk with someone who will flounce off if someone won’t sit and take the good medicine. Your argument here (so far as much as I understand it) is the dishonest one.
The “every little helps” one, which apparently is the opposite of my “Perfection fallacy”.

Before I hand over my extra £100 in eco-taxes to fly to the USA I want to know what I’m getting for my money. I’d want at least half a polar bear for that kind of cash. (You do remember the polar bears falling from the sky ads that LC ran as positive climate change political messages?)

I’m pretty damn sure though that I won’t be saving a hundred quid’s worth of global warming. And will resent being fleeced. With Plane Stupid and ”Climate Camp” etc, we’ll be bored stiff hearing about climate change when the time does actually come to take drastic measures.

@82. Derek Hattons Tailor: “Why do we have to give up driving ? The problem is the fuel used by cars, not cars themselves. Electric cars already exist, over time and as volumes increase the technology will improve and prices will fall, as they always do. Personalised transport works, global car production is on an upward curve, it is hugely popular, and it is not going away any time soon.”

I don’t know whether to agree or disagree….

Personal transport — the ability to choose where you go at any time — was a major revolution of the 20th century. I like public transport for non-obvious reasons. I enjoy the journey (looking at the world through a window), the vehicle and cocking a snoot at those who despise bus travellers.

I like my cars because they are flexible. The current model for cars works because petrol or diesel is affordable, and very significantly it is globally available.

Electrically powered cars have been around as long as petrol and steam ones. We have reached the time when an electrically powered car can run for 150 miles without a recharge. That’s good enough for a lot of people.

What’s not good enough is the lack of electricity to recharge 30 million UK cars overnight. Assuming that there is back end power delivery, how many UK streets are cabled to recharge cars as well as providing domestic power?

@39. Jack C: “Ludicrous? Really? Luddite.”

I was trying to be ironic, Jack C. Failure in that attempt is my problem. I think that a 50% reduction in domestic energy consumption is modest. I reckon that more is possible without reducing quality of life.

Pagar @23

You are spectacularly missing the point I was making- that the climate change we are experiencing is entirely normal.

The science says differently.

88. So Much for Subtlety

67. Larry

It’s quite common for people to ignore or deny individual externalities when discussing trade. It’s a bit rarer for someone to deny the very concept of an externality.

Oh well done Larry. You have managed to read something I wrote and reply with an utter irrelevance. Genius. Where do I once dispute the existence of externalities?

68. Chaise Guevara

So you’re declaring that you’re rejecting the evidence. Nice. Also, this is a ridiculous straw man. Nobody’s saying the Earth is in danger. We’re saying that people are in danger.

No I am not. I dispute some the evidence, but not a lot. I am disputing the absurd, and mostly a-scientific, interpretation put on the evidence. People are under no threat whatsoever. There just simply is no reason to think that the claims around here – that the Earth will level out at 400K for instance – are true. Or that the tiny amount of moderate warming that the worst case scenario promises (and which is conspicuously not actually happening) is a danger to anyone.

Wrong. I’ve read several article, in publications for people in the industry, discussing the risk.

Wow. I stand corrected. Come on Chaise. This is you admitting you know nothing. Talk to more people actually in the industry. Look at fracking. Look at the costs of substitution. Look at the development of better oil recovery techniques.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never met anyone from Botswana. Ergo, nobody lives in Botswana.

That would be relevant if I didn’t know anyone in the industry.

We’ve picked it. What we’re doing now is falling back on more damaging solutions.

I find it hard to believe that fracking is more damaging than coal. Why do you think so?

I agree! So you’re in favour of developing sustainable power, then.

Where and when it is the next low hanging fruit, sure. What we can do, we should do. Build nuclear for instance. But wind does not make sense even on its own terms.

Lets see those models, then.

You’re just as capable of looking up their report as me.

Because our quality of life is built on the cheapness of goods, which is largely down to our rapacious behaviour abroad. We’re well-off because we have people to exploit.

This is nonsense on so many levels I hardly know where to start. Who are the biggest producers of raw materials in the free-ish world? That would be the US, Canada and Australia. By all means, tell me how they are being ripped off. The quality of our life is based on the fact that we can take otherwise worthless raw materials and turn them into something of value. Arabs had oil for thousands of years. They smeared their fishing boats with it. Then we came along, with Western science, and showed them how we could turn it into plastics and fuel and pharmaceuticals. Then they got rich. How is that exploiting anyone?

Running out of fossil fuels. Try to pay attention.

Britain is an island made of coal. With a little time and money coal can do anything that oil can. At a price that is well below what motorists pay now. Tell me how we are ever going to run out of coal?

So you’re relying on oil flowing again once there’s no more oil. Great logic there!

It is if only you could follow it. Being First World is so much more than fossil fuels. It is an entire economy made up of educated and skilled people. If you cut off the oil, those people do not become ignorant and disease ridden. Thus the difference between a First World and Third World economy is more than the fossil fuels. As you should know.

I didn’t say oil, I said fossil fuels. If you don’t even know that coal is a fossil fuel, you really should shut up until you’ve educated yourself to the level of an average ten-year old.

The West has coal reserves measured in thousands of years. We tend to find coal wherever we look and in large parts of the world, we have not bothered to look yet. So by all means, tell me how we are going to run out of coal? As far as ignorance goes, people in glass houses Chaise.

Your wishful thinking does not change reality.

What reality? You cannot point to a single bad effect of that CO2 in the world today? The most you can do is say the sky will fall on our heads tomorrow.

Tell me, how is it that you know more about climate science than climate scientists? Are you perhaps an all-seeing god? Or do you just have laughable delusions of grandeur?

One of those, yes.

Yet again you demonstrate your absurd ignorance. Your next-door neighbours are not the issue. Global impact is the issue. You’re like a 9th century peasant holding forth on space travel.

You claim it is situational. Now it isn’t. You can’t tell if someone in China is burning coal either. It is a global issue in the sense the sky may fall on our heads tomorrow if we don’t sacrifice virgins to the Sun. But it isn’t in the sense it has any measurable impact on anyone’s life today.

That’s probably true in the magical land you live in. Here in the real world, however, the market just does whatever helps relatively powerful people become more rich. If other people get shafted along the way, the market doesn’t magically step in and prevent that happening.

Why should the market stop people getting shafted? Nothing can stop people getting shafted. Government policy shafts them all the time. You have yet again responded to a sensible correction with a strawman based on your prejudices. The market does not do that, but even if it did, it would still be the sum of all the world’s best knowledge. Simple. You are just trying to change the subject because you know you are wrong.

When you’re in Waterstones buying a copy of Science for Total Idiots, perhaps you should pick up a copy of A Moron’s Guide to Economics. You’ll thank me once you stop making an idiot out of yourself.</i.

Explain to me why I am wrong about what a market is.

72. Andy C

I laughed particularly hard at the bit about the markets “informed decision” making, as a quick look at the last 5 years of market activity to should disabuse anyone of the notion that the decisions are informed

The markets are still responding in an educated and sensible way. What was the cause of this crisis? Not the markets. Government policy. Over-lending in the US. Weak regulation.

Again you respond to a sensible comment by an utter irrelevancy. You may as well say “look over there, it is a unicorn”. More chance of working.

Jack @ 50

@Chaise,
a la Jim, my use of the C word was to demonstrate my innate superioty and moral purity.

I am sorry, Jack you are mistaken. Not only I am I innately superior and morally purer than you, I am intellectually superior to you and the Tory and Republican lice that infest this board.

The day that I wish to destroy millions of lives for my own fucking greed is perhaps the day you can question me on anything.

90. So Much for Subtlety

76. Chaise Guevara

It is true. We get cheap goods because people abroad make them for a pittance (taking exchange rates into account), and companies operating in the third world can get away with much dodgier practices.

No it isn’t. We get cheap goods because people abroad have modern machinery and have been allowed to make a modest profit by their insane government. They are not paid a pittance by world or historical standards. Their pittance is also rapidly growing – the biggest exporting provinces in China now have an income on par with parts of Europe. We do not import much from the poorest parts of China.

I’m not saying it’s the entire basis of our success or anything like that, but it’s a factor.

So you admit to just pulling nonsense out of your hat? It was not a factor in the rise of Britain as a modern industrial economy. The fact is simply that adding machines makes workers more productive. The more productive they are, the richer we all are.

77. Chaise Guevara

Apparently we can solve scientific queries on the basis of “whatever earns the most money is true”.

Again, reaching for a strawman is not a good look.

78. Chaise Guevara

At what point did we decide that regular trips to destinations halfway around the world are essential to having a good life?

It is part of the official definition of poverty in the UK now I believe.

82. Derek Hattons Tailor

Why do we have to give up driving ? The problem is the fuel used by cars, not cars themselves. Electric cars already exist, over time and as volumes increase the technology will improve and prices will fall, as they always do.

Cars are made from things like steel. If you listen to the Deep Greens, they want an end to steel production too.

84. Charlieman

What’s not good enough is the lack of electricity to recharge 30 million UK cars overnight. Assuming that there is back end power delivery, how many UK streets are cabled to recharge cars as well as providing domestic power?

It depends on how they are recharged. A normal power socket could work in many cases. But the point is that power does not grow on trees. If you’re not burning coal or gas, where does the power come from? Especially at night?

85. Charlieman

I think that a 50% reduction in domestic energy consumption is modest. I reckon that more is possible without reducing quality of life.

Why on earth would you believe that? As energy consumption is an excellent measure of standard of living, how do you think we can drop to Third World levels of energy use without having Third World levels of quality of life?

86. Jim

The science says differently.

No it doesn’t. It says it may be man-made.

Jim,
I don’t want to destroy millions of lives either. What makes you think I do?

My hunch is that you’re just a twisted turd with a Jesus complex.

Hope I’m wrong x

@SMFS

> The markets are still responding in an educated…

Really. So up 5% one day, down 5% the next (and in one ridiculous case, the FTSE 100 managed a 200 point round trip in less than two minutes). This is not the activity of a market that is making informed, reasoned decisions, because if it was, it wouldn’t react with complete and utter shock to entirely predictable (as in marked on the calendar) events like the debt ceiling and fiscal cliff, and it would notice that the fundamental situation in Europe doesn’t change on a daily basis. The activity in markets is much better explained by knee jerk reactions, mass panic and rampant speculation from the desire to make a quick buck. That this is how significant financial decisions involving trillions of dollars are made is an embarrassment.

You can criticise regulation as being weak (it is, and continues to be so, but I rather doubt you really want increased regulation, isn’t that some green conspiracy?), but you still have to hold the market responsible for its actions under those regulations. They created derivative products that no one understood (least of all them), and threw them around like nothing bad could ever happen, to the point that banks/markets couldn’t even work out who owned the loans any longer!

93. Chaise Guevara

@ 84 damon

“And Chaise, it’s a bit pointless trying to talk with someone who will flounce off if someone won’t sit and take the good medicine.”

You pushed me into it, but I’ll be honest and say that when I typed that I was feeling kinda fractious from everything going wrong while I was cooking dinner (broken things, minor injuries etc). So let’s try again.

“Your argument here (so far as much as I understand it) is the dishonest one.
The “every little helps” one, which apparently is the opposite of my “Perfection fallacy”.”

How is it possibly dishonest? Even a small effort will result in less pollution, less resources used, less pressure on the grid (relevant when we’re discussing how much of our energy needs can be sourced from renewables). You seem to think I’m claiming that a small change will make a big difference, which is odd as I specifically said otherwise.

“Before I hand over my extra £100 in eco-taxes to fly to the USA I want to know what I’m getting for my money. I’d want at least half a polar bear for that kind of cash. (You do remember the polar bears falling from the sky ads that LC ran as positive climate change political messages?)”

Obviously any big, top-down change like that should be costed to see whether the benefit is worth the cost. I never said otherwise. If we’re going to force environmentalism on people, we should make sure it’s real, rather than charging them to pay lip-service.

94. Chaise Guevara

@ 83 Derek

“Why do we have to give up driving ? The problem is the fuel used by cars, not cars themselves. ”

My understanding (and I admit that I don’t have sources to hand) is that the amount of pollution created in a car’s lifetime tends to be lower than that created in its production. If that’s true, then electric cars are still a problem; I’m not sure to what extent it’s possible to ameliorate the damage done in manufacturing.

Could people please stop conflating standard of living and quality of life. And could anyone explain why you have to be rich(er) to have a satisfactory life?

96. Chaise Guevara

@ SMFS

“No I am not. I dispute some the evidence, but not a lot.”

OK, so to clarify this now, by “warmists” you don’t mean “climate scientists”? Because they’re the ones producing evidence, or “bullshit” as you called it.

“There just simply is no reason to think that the claims around here – that the Earth will level out at 400K for instance – are true.”

I’m not commenting on the claims in this specific article, I’m talking about the warnings from experienced scientists.

“Or that the tiny amount of moderate warming that the worst case scenario promises (and which is conspicuously not actually happening) is a danger to anyone.”

The worst-case scenario includes the polar caps melting. I’m guessing you don’t live in Norfolk.

“Wow. I stand corrected. Come on Chaise. This is you admitting you know nothing.”

No, it’s me pointing out that I know you’re making it up as you go along. If peak oil was a canard invented by the evil environmentalists, industry magazines would decry it, not support it.

“Talk to more people actually in the industry.”

Let me guess. You want me to ignore what evidence I’ve seen, ask around until I find contradicting evidence, then dismiss everything that doesn’t support your POV? Like you do?

“Look at fracking. Look at the costs of substitution. Look at the development of better oil recovery techniques.”

Industry mags take this stuff into account, funnily enough.

“That would be relevant if I didn’t know anyone in the industry.”

Do you? Given that you’re a complete fantasist, forgive me if I don’t find your personal testimony very convincing.

“I find it hard to believe that fracking is more damaging than coal. Why do you think so?”

I think it’s more damaging than other forms of gas production. Which I believe because everyone who knows about the topic seems to say so.

“Where and when it is the next low hanging fruit, sure. What we can do, we should do. Build nuclear for instance. But wind does not make sense even on its own terms.”

Why not?

“You’re just as capable of looking up their report as me.”

I’m not going on a wild goose chase for something you probably made up. If you actually had a source you’d link it.

“This is nonsense on so many levels I hardly know where to start. Who are the biggest producers of raw materials in the free-ish world? That would be the US, Canada and Australia. By all means, tell me how they are being ripped off.”

Why would I defend a statement I never made? Idiot.

“The quality of our life is based on the fact that we can take otherwise worthless raw materials and turn them into something of value. Arabs had oil for thousands of years. They smeared their fishing boats with it. Then we came along, with Western science, and showed them how we could turn it into plastics and fuel and pharmaceuticals. Then they got rich. How is that exploiting anyone?”

It’s not! Because what you’ve done there is mention the non-exploitative stuff and ignore everything else! Top marks for duplicity!

“Britain is an island made of coal. With a little time and money coal can do anything that oil can. At a price that is well below what motorists pay now.”

Sources, please.

“Tell me how we are ever going to run out of coal?”

Do I really need to explain what the “fossil” in “fossil fuel” means?

“It is if only you could follow it. Being First World is so much more than fossil fuels. It is an entire economy made up of educated and skilled people. If you cut off the oil, those people do not become ignorant and disease ridden.”

Not ignorant, but suddenly the supply chain breaks down. When we lose other fossil fuels, the power goes out. Hospitals can’t operate. Food can’t be delivered. People die of appendicitus, or starve. Of course, in Magic SMFS Land, they’re probably get sustenance from their Stiff Upper Lip, and carry out operations using their Admirable Work Ethic.

It’s funny. Normally you hate people. Then suddenly you think we’re a bunch of superheroes when you suspect that admitting otherwise might make you need to support a policy that will cost you a bit more tax. Wonder how that works.

“The West has coal reserves measured in thousands of years. We tend to find coal wherever we look and in large parts of the world, we have not bothered to look yet. So by all means, tell me how we are going to run out of coal?”

It’s still going to last thousands of years once we’ve converted everything that runs on oil, gas etc. to run on coal instead?

“As far as ignorance goes, people in glass houses
Chaise.”

No. If you don’t know that coal is fossil, you’re seriously the most ignorant guy in the room. Must be familiar, at least.

“What reality? You cannot point to a single bad effect of that CO2 in the world today? The most you can do is say the sky will fall on our heads tomorrow.”

As long as the damage happens after your lifetime, who gives a damn, right? But to answer your question, we’re losing polar ice. Hence flooding.

“You claim it is situational. Now it isn’t.”

Ooh, nice try, but funnily enough I read my own words! I said the concept of a pollutant is situational. It really does reveal a lot about your position when you’re forced into desperate straw men like this.

“You can’t tell if someone in China is burning coal either. It is a global issue in the sense the sky may fall on our heads tomorrow if we don’t sacrifice virgins to the Sun.”

Oh, does virgin sacrifice play a part in your worship of the God of Trade? This is interesting theological stuff.

“Why should the market stop people getting shafted?”

My point exactly. Glad you’ve caught up.

“You have yet again responded to a sensible correction with a strawman based on your prejudices.”

Ahahaha! And you want to talk about glass houses? You just described your entire reason for being.

“The market does not do that, but even if it did, it would still be the sum of all the world’s best knowledge. Simple. You are just trying to change the subject because you know you are wrong.”

Good GOD, you’re a dishonest little weasel. You: “It [the market] does, actually, solve most problems and rarely creates any problems in doing so. Unlike the alternatives.” You also said that:
“I find it bizarre that some people think they are so God-like that their opinion out weighs those of all the experts in the world put together. Which is what a market represents.”

In the context of pollution and climate change, remember. So one minute, the market can solve most of our problems and should be deferred to in all things. Now it can’t stop people being shafted (which is the whole point of combating pollution). You have yet to explain why traders are experts in climate science. I wait with bated breath and a bag of popcorn.

“Explain to me why I am wrong about what a market is.”

I’ll wait till you make your mind up on the subject. Now it sounds like you’ve changed your mind on one of two idiotic statements, so let’s have some clarity.

97. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Everybody! Check this out. I would be interested in what people make of it.

http://www.ecoequity.org/2005/11/honesty/

98. Man on Clapham Omnibus

88 SMFS

” I dispute some the evidence, but not a lot. I am disputing the absurd, and mostly a-scientific, interpretation put on the evidence. People are under no threat whatsoever. There just simply is no reason to think that the claims around here – that the Earth will level out at 400K for instance – are true. Or that the tiny amount of moderate warming that the worst case scenario promises (and which is conspicuously not actually happening) is a danger to anyone.”

I would be personally interested in your evidence . It doesn’t seem to stack up with the evidence which suggests
that the 2 degree political ceiling will easily be breached
within around 15 or so years.

An understanding of this 2 per cent is interesting because there is an assumption that it equates to around the production of 560 giga tons of CO2 by 2050. Unfortunately, there is conservatively 5 times this amount ready to burn .

I think its also important to understand that the 2 degrees was some figure plucked out of the air ,by which it was assumed climate change would be manageable. We have currently experienced a 0.8 percent gain in temperature and I think some ,like the New Yorkers, are beginning to wake up to the idea that maybe 2 degrees isn’t so manageable after all. Sadly we have already put enough CO2 in the atmosphere for a further 0.8 gain; thats 1.6 degrees if we stopped now. I think you should think very seriously before dismissing these figures.

PS None of the above considers additional forcing factors.

PPS I think the idea of 400K is possibly a little high.
400 C is probably about right!

99. Robin Levett

@SMFS #44:

I know the discussion has moved on, but this was priceless:

If it is chaotic – and I wouldn’t use words you do not understand if I were you – then by definition almost, [the global climate] can turn on a dime.

That is one of the neatest examples of irony we’ve seen from you for ages.

There are entire scientific and engineering disciplines based upon the fact that, at a statistical level, the behaviour of chaotic systems is predictable. Perhaps you should learn a little about chaos theory, SMFS?

100. Chaise Guevara

@ 95 Trofim

“Could people please stop conflating standard of living and quality of life.”

I can see that you’d want to keep these separate in some contexts, but is it necessary here?

“And could anyone explain why you have to be rich(er) to have a satisfactory life?”

Apparently income has a strong effect on happiness up to a certain level (think it’s about £26k) and basically none after that. It’s a hygiene factor, in other words. You might very well ask someone on £50k whey they think another £10k a year will make them happy – but if you’re talking to someone who can barely afford to eat, or even just doesn’t have much money for leisure activities, it becomes a silly question.

It’s all down to circumstance too, of course. I earn well under the minimum wage, but I’m happy enough as I live in Manchester where many things (especially rent) are cheap. On the same wage in London, I’d practically be living hand to mouth.

Jack @ 91

What do you really believe, Jack? Don’t worry too much, I don’t expect anything like an honest answer, but seriously, what do you actually believe?

The problem with the Right is they actually believe the shite they trot out to back up their ideology. It is almost as if they forget that they are lying and have convinced themselves that they actually telling the truth. I suppose cunts like you have to convince yourself that you are telling the truth in order to sound convincing. A bit like Winston Smith has to believe that O’Brien is actually holding up four fingers.

You people are used to paying ‘think tanks’ to say whatever you people want to hear, be it on the privatisationof the NHS, unemployment, taxation, disability, the minimum wage or whatever your political ideology demands, you assume that everyone else is doing the same.

Had any of you Tory cunts had managed to evolve a conscience, you may have been able to distinguish between the mere fripperies to the actual nuts and bolts of life. Surely even the most committed Tory must be able to understand that some things transcend party politics.

You cannot all be so fucking stupid as to think that the laws of physics have been made up for the last two hundred years, just to wind you bastards up. So, some of you must be able to understand that the laws of physics cannot simply be rewritten to fit in with how you would prefer the World to work. Some of you must realise that non-action will result in the deaths or disruption of hundreds of millions of people. Some of you cunts must realise that your own fucking greed will result in fundamental and perhaps irreversible damage to the environment.

Look, I realise that people like Pagar are upset that their entire ideology ripped into tiny, bite sized piece by science. I do have an element of sympathy for him, but then again, had he formed his ideology around something more substantial, it may have withstood scrutiny. However, the rest of you don’t have an excuse. The rest of you are just driven by a hatred of the human race and the billions of morally superior people that you are forced to inhabit a planet with.

Whatever, I believe in, God fucking help me if I become a disgusting parody of a human being to enjoy the destruction of million as of human lives.

The pro science people have been proving you cunt wrong for at least five hundred years, I wonder when you will take the hint.

102. Man on Clapham Omnibus

100 Chaise.

So you are saying that if someone offered you a couple of million you don’t think you would be seriously happy?

103. Man on Clapham Omnibus

101. Jim

I honestly wish I could write like that! That was brilliant!
Sadly every word was true.

104. Chaise Guevara

@ 102 MoCO

“So you are saying that if someone offered you a couple of million you don’t think you would be seriously happy?”

Well, I’m probably below the point where it plateaus out. Obviously I’d be happy as hell to get it, but apparently it doesn’t have much effect on actual reported happiness levels.

So either people overestimate how important money is to their happiness, or there are other factors at work here, or both.

105. Man on Clapham Omnibus

104 Chaise

All those poor (read rich!) Tory bastards! No wonder they talk bollocks – they’re all depressed out of there skulls.

106. Man on Clapham Omnibus

74 Andy C

‘I think that question really depends on what we do next.’

Not sure what ‘we’ means in this context. We as individuals are wedded to predominantly a capitalist world. That involves certain connotations of power which are out of the control of ordinary citizens. I interpret ‘we’ to mean the corporate entities some of which hold valuable stock in fossil fuel distribution and manufacture and Governments, many of whom are divvying up potential oil reserves in places like under the Arctic or providing subsidies to gas and nukes. Despite ‘Sandy’,and its precursurs, Clinton has been busy making deals for further oil extraction as well as opening up new coal seams. And that’s just the US. Personally I think despite the epiphany of Mayor Bloomberg ,business as usual will settle back pretty soon.
As to Governments negotiating on the world stage then that’s about as likely as hell freezing over.(pun intended)
So what do you really suppose ‘we’ do?
My feeling is ,when you add in the additional forcing factors and consider that this is a system primarily composed of positive feedback loops (including an economy designed towards growth and the political and ideological structures arising from it) there isn’t much on offer except for a very tragic future. The 400 degrees thing maybe a bit pejorative but with the current 0.8 degree rise we are alredy seeing a massive disruption to harvests and weather systems. Add a few degrees on and we are seriously doomed. What we need is a revolution in our thinking ,in our governance and in our methods of production to stand any chance of survival.

Jim,
More to the point, what do you think I believe?

What have I said in this thread that prompted all that bile?

Perhaps you could start by answering my question @25.

108. Chaise Guevara

@ 105 MoCO

“All those poor (read rich!) Tory bastards!”

I think you’re reading too much into this. Nobody’s saying that being rich makes you unhappy, just that it doesn’t seem to actively make people happy like they think it does.

The takeaway here is “If you’re comfortably well-off, and get a choice between earning more money or cutting your hours to spend more time with your loved ones, take option B. And maybe don’t bitch about tax so much.”

Or “count your blessings” as Granny used to say.

Jack @ 107

What bile? What have I said that is untrue (if a bit harsh)?

Ok, just one example:

“The pro science people have been proving you cunt wrong for at least five hundred years, I wonder when you will take the hint”.

What have I said that, a) puts me in the anti-science camp, and, b) makes me a cunt?

112. Chaise Guevara

@ 109 Jack

“Or “count your blessings” as Granny used to say.”

I think it was Defoe who remarked that we’d all be so much happier if we compared out lot to those less fortunate than us, rather than those who have more. There are issues with that philosophy, but it does help people stop acting the eternal victim.

113. Chaise Guevara

110 Jim

“What bile? What have I said that is untrue (if a bit harsh)?”

Well, you implied that he “enjoys the destruction of million of human lives”. Personally I’d like to see a source for that. Seems a bit… how do I put this?… hysterical.

@Man on Clapham Omnibus

> Not sure what ‘we’ means in this context.

In this context I meant we as in human civilization, rather than any specific group of people. It was effectively a reference to global CO2 emission trends and the possible scenarios; in particular:

1. Magical cessation tomorrow: Average temperature continues to rise for a little while and then plateaus at say 16.5 degrees C.

2. A transition to renewables over the next few decades that sees CO2 emissions continue to rise for a number of years, plateau and then begin to fall, leading to a new average temperature of say 17.5 degrees C.

3. Business as usual for a protracted period sees CO2 emissions rise at the current or worse for a significant period, atmospheric content goes well past 500ppm and a new equilibrium temperature of say 20 degrees C is reached some time around 2100.

Scenario 1 is obviously completely implausible, and is just there to show that temperature continues to rise for a little while even if we stop emissions tomorrow. Scenario 2 is plausible, though I’m not that hopeful, and scenario 3 is a catastrophe, and would cause enormous damage to our civilization given its present setup (though of course, some countries suffer more than others).

I agree that major change is necessary to avoid scenario 3, and the sad thing is, the financial screw up was an opportunity to do it (in countries with their own currency), as significant renewable energy infrastructure investment would have been an excellent way of getting the economy on track, sadly a Tory-led Government put ideology before evidence and squandered the opportunity.

“So, some of you must be able to understand that the laws of physics cannot simply be rewritten to fit in with how you would prefer the World to work.”

Oddly enough, the Laws of Physics really are being re-written, and many of them are now just guess work. For example, it is now believed that some matter can travel faster than light, and that some particles constantly change their location without (apparently) actually moving from one point to the next. They just disappear and reappear.

As a leading Physicist approximately said (I forget who), “if you’re not disgusted by Quantum Theory it hasn’t been explained to you properly”.

Well I think it’s interesting anyway.

@Jack C

> Oddly enough, the Laws of Physics really are being re-
> written, and many of them are now just guess work.

The laws of physics are most certainly not guesswork, and most typically laws get modified to take into account new conditions/domains, rather than completely thrown away. For example, General Relativity is valid in domains where Newtonian gravity is not (at relativistic speeds for example), but Newtonian gravity continues to be perfectly adequate for many terrestrial applications (and landing on the Moon), while Quantum Theory takes over on the atomic scale. Furthermore, the state of modern technology should be a pretty good indication that physics has a pretty good idea of what it is doing.

> For example, it is now believed that some matter can travel faster than light

That’s not the case. Particles that have mass cannot reach, let alone exceed the speed of light. The recent Neutrino experiment at Cern was actually a case of scientists saying “we have a surprising result and we’ve not been able to figure out where we went wrong; can you have a look please”. It didn’t take long for other scientists to demonstrate that the results could not be replicated, and ultimately identify the error in the original experiment. For any particle to be detected travelling faster than light would still be massive news, and would need to meet an enormous burden of proof.

If alternatively you are referring to the (hypothetical) Tachyon, then it’s worth noting that Feinberg’s faster than light interpretation was shown to be wrong soon after the original publication (1967), though the particle (or rather the fields) remains interesting for other reasons.

> some particles constantly change their location…

If you’re referring to virtual particles, this is simply an aspect of Quantum Theory.

Andy C,
At the atomic level there really is a lot of guesswork*, and a huge amount of debate. That’s why we have Quantum Theory, and not Quantum Law.

This isn’t a criticism; the field is new and the scale involved makes analysis exceptionally difficult. 100 years ago eminent physicists were on record as saying that Physics was effectively closed, that there was nothing much left to explain. What will we, or rather they, have uncovered in the next 100 years?

* By “guesswork”, I mean staggeringly well-informed, but unproven theory. I didn’t mean to imply the boffin equivalent of punting a tenner on that nice looking horse in the 2.30.

@Jack C

Sorry Jack, but I have to disagree with you quite strongly again. Quantum theory produces staggeringly accurate predictions (I would argue that it is the single most successful theory in all of science), this is not a hallmark of guesswork. It’s also the reason you can even write there posts, without quantum theory there wouldn’t be a transistor.

> That’s why we have Quantum Theory, and not Quantum Law.

That’s not correct, things don’t graduate from Theory to Law, and Law is in no way superior to Theory. Theories *never* become Laws, no matter how much evidence supports them. In its simplest terms, laws make statements about immediately observable facts, whereas theories are testable explanations of how things work.

> the field is new and the scale involved makes analysis
> exceptionally difficult. 100 years…

The field is really not that new. In fact, over 100 years ago Max Planck had already begun formulating Quantum Theory, and his hypothesis precisely matched observations of black body radiation.

No one is arguing we know everything today; in fact, it is known that the Standard Model (for example) is incomplete (part of the reason for building the LHC), but it makes many accurate predictions that aren’t going to start being wrong when we find a better theory. The superior theory will simply explain everything the standard model currently explains, plus some things we know it doesn’t.

> What will we, or rather they, have uncovered in the next 100 years?

I’m actually studying physics, so I plan on being part of the “we” :-).

I stand corrected where applicable, however:

There are assumptions made, and some of those assumptions will turn out to be flawed.

This has been the case throughout the development of science, and will continue to be so. Or have we eradicated that sort of thing now? I doubt it.

P.S. As part of the “we”, can I put in a request for, a) healthy cigarettes, and, b) a new head of hair. Thanks.

@Jack C

> There are assumptions made, and some of those assumptions
> will turn out to be flawed.

Absolutely, but not all assumptions are created equal. Assumptions get tested along with the theories (in the sense that incorrect assumptions lead to disagreement with observation), so there are certain assumptions for which we have a very high degree of confidence.

So the assumptions underpinning the theories that tell us CO2 is a greenhouse gas, or the relationship between surface temperature and energy balance (to give relevant examples) are incredibly unlikely to be false, because huge swathes of Physics would have to be wildly wrong (not just incomplete, and in need of tweaking), and leave us needing to explain a huge number of observations that are explained under present theories.

I think this is really the crux of the issue; we always learn new things in science, but some (many) things remain unchanged, or modified in ways that don’t change the overall picture (e.g. classical mechanics to relativity didn’t change the trajectory of a projectile on Earth in any meaningful way).

121. Man on Clapham Omnibus

118 Andy C

Ok so why is a higgs boson so unstable yet necessary to maintain the Higgs field?
If the universe is expanding does that necessarily imply the creation of new bosons.

114

So like me you think we’re doomed. In the context of the way things operate the majority of the human civilization do not have access to the institutions of power so in any realistic way the ‘we’ has to really refer to existing Corporate power.

I would be interested to know where your climate forecasts come from and whether you are including all the forcing factors such as increased methane which is currently being released up a Km into the atmosphere around the arctic area , permafrost melt, decreased albedo,increased tectonic activity etc.

@Man on Clapham Omnibus

> Ok so why is a higgs boson so unstable yet necessary to
> maintain the Higgs field?

You have your causality backwards here. Particles do not maintain/create fields, fields lead to particles (a particle *is* an excitation in a field) – I’m not quite sure how we got from long established physics to the current frontiers?

> So like me you think we’re doomed.

I think we have a big problem, yes. I wouldn’t say doomed just yet, as I still think it can be mitigated, we’re just not on that trajectory at the moment.

> I would be interested to know where your climate
> forecasts come from…

They’re just intended to be indicative of how different emissions scenarios play out rather than any attempt at precise forecasting, but the figures are (very) roughly based on the IPCC ensemble models, which do consider various forcings and feedbacks:

http://www-pcmdi.llnl.gov/ipcc/about_ipcc.php

but to be clear, my point was about the broad picture, not exact figures.

Jack C @111

You are attempting to suggest that the entire scientific community have got this AGW theory all wrong, based entirely on the say so of the PR companies for big oil. The fact that you are willing to gamble the lives of hundreds of millions of people on that assumption makes you a despicable excuse for a human being.

CG @ 113

What is the logical conclusion of the denier’s intention to ignore the science? The only result will be that hundreds of millions of people’s lives will be disrupted or ended prematurely. They must know that. They cannot simply plead ignorance of that because every thread on every message board/blog/website has deniers comments at the bottom so they must be aware of the consequences of their actions.

Who would openly advocate non action in face of so much suffering? Only a sadist would do that. What kind of person would advocate that we carry on a line of behaviour that condemns hundreds of millions to endure intolerable hardship? Yes, the despicable lice that attach themselves to the most despicable Parties across the globe.

Jim,
This is where you go wrong. I’m not actually a “denier”.

I’ll ask you again: what have I written in this thread that puts me in the anti-science camp?

125. Chaise Guevara

@ 123 Jim

Your accusation rests on the assumptions that:

a) Jack actually denies the science.
b) That he does so knowingly, rather than because he’s misinformed.
c) That his motive for doing so isn’t political allegience or selfish interests, but an actual fetish for reading about the deaths of millions in the newspaper.

Basically the possibilities are either that Jack is a villain from Captain Planet, or that you can’t discuss politics without making ridiculous, hysterical and unfounded personal attacks. Based on how each of you generally behave on here, I reckon the second option is roughly 4,000 times more likely.

Jack @ 124

This is where you go wrong. I’m not actually a “denier”.

No? Do you deny saying this:

The truth is that we have insufficient knowledge of physics – the last 50 years has been more about expanding our knowledge of what we DON’T know.

That would at least imply that you believe the scientific consensus surrounding AGW is based entirely on a number of false assumption and ‘guesswork’. Can you think of a plausible explanation as to why most prominent scientists in the field have been working on false assumptions for the last seventy or eighty years, despite the fact that people who have never even read a book on the subject can spot?

Jim,
No, I don’t deny it.

If you look at 16 and 17, the points I make are:

1) Don’t rush to blame Sandy on Climate Change, because it’s part of a pattern described by meteorologists. (Of course, as someone else pointed out, Climate Change may exacerbate the pattern). I likened this to refuting CC because it’s snowing.

2) We have, at present, gaps in our knowledge of Physics, as a result of extraordinary discoveries in the recent past. The possibilities are both exciting and alarming. I was talking about possible solutions yet to be developed, not disputing what is already on the record.

My further suggestion was that in the meantime, we should, a) all concentrate on practical measures to avoid waste, and b) remember that this very often means saving money and improving our environment. The idea that CC mitigation will make us all much poorer is a myth that needs to be challenged.

Anyway, it’s easy for you; you already know all the answers. I haven’t had one to my question @25 though?

Thanks Chaise. In fact, I may spare you.

Chaise @ 125

a) Jack has said that he thinks the scientists have based their theories on false assumptions. He denies that they understand the science.

b) Is there any scientific theory that has been discussed more thoroughly, has undergone more scrutiny and has more profound implications than Global Warming?

c) Partisan politics or just plain nasty? Well given that the Right have a record of announcing policies that are designed to cause un-necessary suffering to people who are not Tories, does it matter either way? Tories are inherently nasty, therefore it amounts to the same thing.

So, when does this stop looking like ‘being miss informed’ and actually become actual nastiness? The science is in the public domain and has been for about forty years. There are countless reports, popular science books written by reputable scientists on the subject, yet we are suppose to suspend our belief and assume that these cunts have, to a man and woman, somehow missed all these books in Watersons and WH Smith all these TV and radio programmes, websites etc all written by informed scientists, instead despite their best intentions being ‘duped’ into buying/reading stuff put out by crackpots who have been blown out of the water every time they appear in the media? Oh, and guess what? It turns out that all these cunts, not only independently ‘chose’ the wrong side and stoically clung on as the evidence hardened the other way, by a sheer co-incidence, it turns out that the side of the debate they chose happened to be the side that agreed with their political ideology.

When do we look at the shite written by the Tories and stop making excuses for them? When does it become obvious that they are simply not interested in the truth or the science but only really interested in protecting their own greed?

When does being a holocaust denier stop looking like buying the wrong book and look like someone with a twisted grudge?

I am used to the one sided non aggression pact the Left have signed up to with the Right. I am used to people like you looking for a way to plausibility for these cunts. Never challenge, never question and never get off your knees, but this stuff actually matters. This is bigger than the typical Left Right ideological battle. This is not disabled, unemployed, employees vs the sub human Tories, this is more fundamental than that. This is scientific integrity over short term greed.

By the way, it also is a bell weather, because given that the science points one way and these bastards are still unable to come to terms with that, then what chance have they got of a dispassionate analysis of anything else and getting it right? If they cannot pick the correct side regarding the laws of physics, what fucking chance have they got with housing, unemployment and disability?

These cunts are driven by a combination of greed and hate and by the Christ it shows.

Jim,
For the last time.

I haven’t denied the science. You’ve made that up. There is, however, debate over what we should do, and what we may or may not be able to do in the future.

I’m also suggesting that most methods of mitigation are a good thing regardless, and that progress may be swifter if this is more frequently pointed out.

You have yet again failed to answer my initial question. This leads me to suppose that the answer is “nothing”.

I wouldn’t be terribly surprised.

131. Chaise Guevara

@ 128 Jack

“Thanks Chaise. In fact, I may spare you.”

I for one welcome our new insect overlords!

132. Chaise Guevara

@ 129 Jim

“Jack has said that he thinks the scientists have based their theories on false assumptions. He denies that they understand the science.”

From what I’ve seen, he’s cautioned that a lot of stuff is still emerging knowledge. Which it is and will always be until we work out the Fully Applicable Theory of Everything (and that’s not sarcasm; said theory exists in potentia).

“Is there any scientific theory that has been discussed more thoroughly, has undergone more scrutiny and has more profound implications than Global Warming?”

The reason it’s been discussed and scrutinised so much is that it’s contentious – I don’t necessarily mean in terms of whether or not AGW can happen, which sounds pretty solid to me, but in terms of specifics: what exactly will happen, what’s the best way to avoid it, etc? Obviously there are problems with amateur sceptics thinking they know more than the experts, but there are also problems with amateur believers coming up with half-baked ideas that sometimes cause more harm than they prevent. ALL claims should be held up to analysis, not just the ones you don’t like.

“Partisan politics or just plain nasty? Well given that the Right have a record of announcing policies that are designed to cause un-necessary suffering to people who are not Tories, does it matter either way?”

This is a perspective thing. You ALWAYS presume malice where callousness or incompetence are better explanations, hence you think you’ve seen loads of examples of harmful policies being created out of sheer spite.

And yes, it does matter if you’re gonna make accusations of malicious intent. Also, you’re using generalisations to attack one individual.

“The science is in the public domain and has been for about forty years.”

Yeah, but loads of anti- stuff is in the public domain too. It really depends on what sources people believe.

“When do we look at the shite written by the Tories and stop making excuses for them?”

False dichotomy, and I’m not making excuses. I’m presenting what I genuinely believe is a more accurate depiction of the world than yours.

“I am used to the one sided non aggression pact the Left have signed up to with the Right.”

One sided? There’s exactly one person on this thread dripping invective all over the place. Are you on the right, then?

“I am used to people like you looking for a way to plausibility for these cunts.”

Ha. So now you object to me coming up with theories more plausible than yours.

“Never challenge, never question and never get off your knees, but this stuff actually matters.”

False dichotomy again. I can challenge and question someone without being a dick about it (on a good day, anyway…).

“By the way, it also is a bell weather, because given that the science points one way and these bastards are still unable to come to terms with that, then what chance have they got of a dispassionate analysis of anything else and getting it right?”

To be fair, nearly everyone’s shit at that.

“These cunts are driven by a combination of greed and hate and by the Christ it shows.”

I agree that greed and right-wingery correlate, although that doesn’t mean that all right-wingers are motivated by greed. The only person driven by hate on this thread, however, is you.

“To be fair, nearly everyone’s shit at that”.

This should be engraved somewhere.

“I agree that greed and right-wingery correlate”.

This, on the other hand, may depend on your age and your definitions of “greed” and “right-wing”.

When became politically aware, the Left was dominated by the Soviet Union, China and, at home, bullying and destructive Union barons (not just my opinion, look how their members voted in General Elections). There was nothing intrinsically “nice” about the Left. Furthermore, minorities got equally short-shrift in Labour and Conservative heartlands. (Though the much-derided “trendy lefties” deserve an honourable mention, despite their Soviet apologism).

Also, the split between Left and Right was different then, essentially State Ownership v the Mixed Economy. In the context of the times, and given the evidence from Eastern Europe, a preference for the former was rightly regarded as vile.

Surely greed is non-political? Was Maxwell less greedy than Murdoch? Polls show that people almost always vote in their own interests … is only one side “greedy” for doing that?

As I’m now unable to explain coherently what Left and Right now mean, I;m not entirely sure where I fall.

134. So Much for Subtlety

92. Andy C

Really. So up 5% one day, down 5% the next (and in one ridiculous case, the FTSE 100 managed a 200 point round trip in less than two minutes). This is not the activity of a market that is making informed, reasoned decisions, because if it was, it wouldn’t react with complete and utter shock to entirely predictable … The activity in markets is much better explained by knee jerk reactions, mass panic and rampant speculation from the desire to make a quick buck.

Do you see the mistake you made there? People are not Vulcans. They are not robots. If there were easy and well known answers, the market would have priced them. By definition the only thing left to sway the market is what they don’t know. Even smart people don’t know a lot. But no, it is not better explained by knee jerk reactions, or panic.

but you still have to hold the market responsible for its actions under those regulations.

Sure. That is always a good idea. But that is still a completely different set of questions. Regulations and government mandates also have externalities. At least we have a reasonable understanding of what they are under a market system. We don’t when someone’s uncle gets a waiver.

95. Trofim

Could people please stop conflating standard of living and quality of life. And could anyone explain why you have to be rich(er) to have a satisfactory life?

Because as a rule of thumb they are the same. Not for everyone. Not all the time. But in general they are.

96. Chaise Guevara

OK, so to clarify this now, by “warmists” you don’t mean “climate scientists”? Because they’re the ones producing evidence, or “bullshit” as you called it.

Some of their evidence is bad. They “adjust” their figures for instance. The data is usually fine. There are minor problems with it but nothing that can’t be resolved. But the data is not the issue as it shows almost no problem at all. The issue is the Warmists interpretation of the data. And manipulation is some cases. That is not evidence, that is opinion.

I’m not commenting on the claims in this specific article, I’m talking about the warnings from experienced scientists.

Good for you. There is no reason to think some of their alarmist claims will come true either. But that is the problem. Scientists say in the literature something boring and anodyne – this is consistent with global warming for instance. Then a very small subset of these scientists take to the internet and say we are all going to die. I have no problems with the former, but the latter is not science.

The worst-case scenario includes the polar caps melting. I’m guessing you don’t live in Norfolk.

Hard to see how 1.5C could melt either ice cap, not that it would matter if it was the Arctic. But as the time scale for this is centuries, it is clearly no big deal.

No, it’s me pointing out that I know you’re making it up as you go along. If peak oil was a canard invented by the evil environmentalists, industry magazines would decry it, not support it.

No you don’t because I am not. Peak oil is a real issue, invented by real oil men. The problem is that it has been taken over by Greens who don’t have a clue. And it applies to oil. America may soon overtake Saudi Arabia as an energy producer. That is news. The peak oil people did not see that coming. But of course it was always going to. At $60-80 a barrel, all sorts of alternatives become cost effective. As people in the oil industry know. That is why OPEC did not keep those high 1973 prices for long.

Let me guess. You want me to ignore what evidence I’ve seen, ask around until I find contradicting evidence, then dismiss everything that doesn’t support your POV? Like you do?

No, I want you to get an education. To learn something. Being a third grade English teacher does not make you an expert. Nor have you seen anything. You don’t know the industry. All I am asking is you read something written by actual professionals rather than rely on Greens.

Industry mags take this stuff into account, funnily enough.

Of course they do. And are they all rushing to get out of the oil business. Why no. They fiddled with solar for PR purposes, but they are getting out of that. They know their future lies in fossil fuels. As does ours.

I think it’s more damaging than other forms of gas production. Which I believe because everyone who knows about the topic seems to say so.

Who for instance? I think you’re confusing shale in Canada with fracking. But go on, show me you know WTF you are talking about.

Why not?

Too expensive, too intermittent, too unreliable, too dilute.

I’m not going on a wild goose chase for something you probably made up. If you actually had a source you’d link it.

Nor are you worth my time. But they said it none the less.

Why would I defend a statement I never made? Idiot.

Sorry but either our prosperity depends on ripping off raw material producers in the Third World or it doesn’t. As we have a world market and hence a world price, those producers in the Third World are getting the same price, more or less, as producers in Canada. So by all means, tell me how they are being ripped off? How does this magical exploitation work then?

It’s not! Because what you’ve done there is mention the non-exploitative stuff and ignore everything else! Top marks for duplicity!

Funny, I would think in any other context you would be the first to claim we are ripping off oil producers. So. How are we exploiting anyone then?

Sources, please.

For what? You may as well ask for proof the Sun is a big hot object in the sky. If you do not know this, you do not know squat.

Do I really need to explain what the “fossil” in “fossil fuel” means?

No but you do need to give me some idea of why you think we will run out of coal any time soon.

Not ignorant, but suddenly the supply chain breaks down. When we lose other fossil fuels, the power goes out. Hospitals can’t operate. Food can’t be delivered. People die of appendicitus, or starve. Of course, in Magic SMFS Land, they’re probably get sustenance from their Stiff Upper Lip, and carry out operations using their Admirable Work Ethic.

They probably do. Or they have forseen the obvious and have built some oil-from-coal plants and they don’t lose those fossil fuels. Why would anyone think they would?

It’s still going to last thousands of years once we’ve converted everything that runs on oil, gas etc. to run on coal instead?

Probably. Who knows? Who cares? It will last long enough.

As long as the damage happens after your lifetime, who gives a damn, right? But to answer your question, we’re losing polar ice. Hence flooding.

We are not losing polar ice. There has been a downturn in the Northern ice cap, but as it floats in the sea, it doesn’t matter. It contributes nothing to ocean levels. We are gaining ice in the Antarctic. So if we have new flooding, it is nothing to do with the polar ice caps.

Ooh, nice try, but funnily enough I read my own words! I said the concept of a pollutant is situational. It really does reveal a lot about your position when you’re forced into desperate straw men like this.

Twisting in the wind. So the concept is situation but the actual pollution is not? Wow. By all means, Chaise, tell me how CO2 is a pollutant if you can’t even see any adverse affect whatsoever.

Good GOD, you’re a dishonest little weasel.

Holding you to your words and objecting to you putting words in my mouth is not dishonest. Deal with the fact you are wrong and move on.

In the context of pollution and climate change, remember. So one minute, the market can solve most of our problems and should be deferred to in all things. Now it can’t stop people being shafted (which is the whole point of combating pollution).

Yet again the same willful refusal to understand. It is not the market’s job to, in a global sense, stop people being shafted. But it can foresee and solve many problems. Stop some people being shafted in other words. You are simply insisting the market must be perfect in all situations and can save everyone from so much as stubbing their toe and when it isn’t you claim it can do nothing. Perfectionist fallacy. This is nonsense. Notice you are not even trying to defend the claim that a tiny group of PPE graduates keen on re-election can do better. Which is your claim.

I’ll wait till you make your mind up on the subject. Now it sounds like you’ve changed your mind on one of two idiotic statements, so let’s have some clarity.

I haven’t changed my mind one bit. On anything. So explain to me why I am wrong about a market.

98. Man on Clapham Omnibus

I would be personally interested in your evidence . It doesn’t seem to stack up with the evidence which suggests
that the 2 degree political ceiling will easily be breached within around 15 or so years.

What evidence is that? We have had 15 years of non-warming so why do you think we are going to leap 2 C in the next 15 years?

We have currently experienced a 0.8 percent gain in temperature and I think some ,like the New Yorkers, are beginning to wake up to the idea that maybe 2 degrees isn’t so manageable after all.

We are in the middle of a twenty year hurricane low. I think the New Yorkers may well understand carbon dioxide is not their problem.

Sadly we have already put enough CO2 in the atmosphere for a further 0.8 gain; thats 1.6 degrees if we stopped now. I think you should think very seriously before dismissing these figures.

So by all means, keep repeating that the sky is going to fall on our heads tomorrow.

99. Robin Levett

That is one of the neatest examples of irony we’ve seen from you for ages.

Thank you.

There are entire scientific and engineering disciplines based upon the fact that, at a statistical level, the behaviour of chaotic systems is predictable. Perhaps you should learn a little about chaos theory, SMFS?

First of all, that is irrelevant. It does not mean that the system cannot turn on a dime. Second, it is not true. Chaotic systems usually exhibit periods of predictability. Which is why they are not used for encryption. But they are persistently unpredictable at inconvenient times. I am sure people try to predict what they do. I am sure they use large statistical data sets to try to make predictions. But it does not change the fact that by definition a chaotic system is not predictable.

But thanks for trying.

http://www.politicalcompass.org/test

Economic Left/Right: -1.25 (out of 10)
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.38 (out of 10)

136. Chaise Guevara

@ Jack C

“This, on the other hand, may depend on your age and your definitions of “greed” and “right-wing”.”

[Read the rest, will address it below, but cut for brevity.]

Firstly, I agree with that, and even as I posted I thought that I probably should have been a lot clearer. You’re entirely right that the left/right thing is murky as hell, and also that “greed” is hardly an agreed, let alone quantifiable, concept. I suppose my original comment to Jim should have been “I see where you’re coming from”.

Secondly, after posting, I realised that greed correlates with the left as well. Which in itself just suggests that lots of people are greedy, so they turn up on either sides of the spectrum. You could render it as “greed correlates with people”.

So why did I instinctively agree with the idea? I’d venture that greedy right-wing people tend to be well-off, or expect to be in the future, and are trying to keep as much money as possible. Whereas greedy left-wing people tend not to be well-off, and are trying to get as much off the state as possible. Neither are paragons, but the former annoy me a lot more, for both practical and emotional reasons. On the other hand, I can see where a libertarian might feel the opposite, and while I’d disagree, I’d do so with respect. I kinda like libertarians when they manage to avoid being ridiculously dogmatic.

As for the USSR et al, I don’t see much point associating them with the modern left, any more than I’d associate the Nazis with the modern right. In fact, we could have a fun and not at all pointless argument in which I claimed the Soviets were right-wing and you claimed the Nazis were left-wing!

Personally, I see this as one of the many pitfalls of us all applying two clumsy labels to diffuse standpoints. The USSR has no relevance to my opinions as a lefty. I just believe in personal freedom and financial redistribution. So I guess that makes me a liberal in the American sense, only I don’t constantly go out of my way to find excuses to get offended over identity politics.

@SMFS

I have to wonder if you immediately forget past comments when you write new ones, because here is the sequence of things you’ve said about the market:

“The market is not a blind force. It is the sum total of all the informed decisions the human race can make. It is an aggregation of all the best knowledge we have. That is why it is inevitably right about most things…”

“The markets are still responding in an educated and sensible way.”

“People are not Vulcans. They are not robots. If there were easy and well known answers, the market would have priced them. By definition the only thing left to sway the market is what they don’t know. Even smart people don’t know a lot.”

So, to summarise your position, markets aren’t a blind force, they’re an aggregation of all the best knowledge we have, and respond in an educated and sensible way, but the only thing that can sway a market is what they don’t know, and they don’t know a lot.

I think we’re done here.

138. Chaise Guevara

@ Andy

Well played!

Andy C: that was funny.

SFMS: you should read Black Swan.

Chaise: I certainly don’t blame the modern Left for the USSR. Except when the Right is smeared willy-nilly for the antics of drunk YC’s in 1981. (No, not me).

Meanwhile, it looks like those segregationist Democrats are going to edge the race against the anti-slavery Republicans. They’ll have a black president one day; you just have to believe.

A teenage boy’s difficulties with girls cannot always be blamed on the Capitalist mode of production.

141. Just Visiting

Are you guys being tough on SMFS here?

If he’d more carefully phrased that one line:
> Even smart people don’t know a lot

To something like:
” Even smart people don’t know a lot in those situations where everything known is on the table and it’s down to judgement calls”

Then we’d say he;d understood markets OK wouldn’t we?

The market is like thousands of weather forecasters trying to predict the future weather: and all highly motivated to get it right because they have their own money riding on bets.

So when the facts on the table are strong, they all agree, so market volatility is low.

But when the facts are weak and the science doesn’t come down one way or the other: that’s when it’s down to judgement calls and some guys will get it right and some not, and the market can be volatile as new mini-factoids come in and tip people’s view to the other side, or back again.

And Michael Fish will be remembered not for getting it most often right, but for the one time he got it quite wrong!

142. Just Visiting

And the market, like weather forecasters, has less and less to say, the further out into the future you look.

Predicting the future is hard!

@Just Visiting

> If he’d more carefully phrased that one line…
> Then we’d say he;d understood markets OK wouldn’t we?

I wouldn’t. My fundamental objection is the notion that the people acting in these markets are experts. Its not simply a question of being right versus being wrong, its the manner in which you make your predictions; for example, technical analysis, used by many traders, is no better than astrology.

> The market is like thousands of weather forecasters

I see why you’re trying to use this analogy, but I don’t think it applies. The decisions of weather forecasters don’t actually change the weather, and weather forecasting is not a zero sum game. If you took thousands of weather forecasters and got them to forecast the weather for a region, their forecast would converge to a consensus much more often than not, and the forecasts don’t span the range from “there will be a blizzard” to “there’s going to be a heat wave” back to “there will be a blizzard” in the space of 2 minutes. A day traders decisions on the other hand, can be shown to be no better than random chance.

I don’t expect anyone to be right all the time, I do expect them to learn when they get it wrong, and act with appropriate caution when things are uncertain.

144. Chaise Guevara

@ SMFS

“Some of their evidence is bad. They “adjust” their figures for instance. The data is usually fine. There are minor problems with it but nothing that can’t be resolved. But the data is not the issue as it shows almost no problem at all. The issue is the Warmists interpretation of the data. And manipulation is some cases. That is not evidence, that is opinion.”

So you do agree with the scientists? Good, that means you believe in AGW. Resolved.

“Good for you. There is no reason to think some of their alarmist claims will come true either. But that is the problem. Scientists say in the literature something boring and anodyne – this is consistent with global warming for instance. Then a very small subset of these scientists take to the internet and say we are all going to die. I have no problems with the former, but the latter is not science.”

Agreed, but nobody’s saying we should ignore the majority and listen to dishonest attention-seekers. Well, denialists say that, but they sort of have to.

“Hard to see how 1.5C could melt either ice cap, not that it would matter if it was the Arctic. But as the time scale for this is centuries, it is clearly no big deal.”

1.5C is not the worse-case scenario. The first point of serious concern is 2C, and it’s looking like it’ll be hard to avoid that.

You’re only going to get muddled if you can’t tell the difference between “worst” and “one of the best”.

“No you don’t because I am not. Peak oil is a real issue, invented by real oil men. The problem is that it has been taken over by Greens who don’t have a clue. And it applies to oil.”

I didn’t know that greens ran the specialist media aimed at, and valued by, the fossil fuel industry.

“America may soon overtake Saudi Arabia as an energy producer. That is news. The peak oil people did not see that coming. But of course it was always going to. At $60-80 a barrel, all sorts of alternatives become cost effective. As people in the oil industry know. That is why OPEC did not keep those high 1973 prices for long.”

None of this so much as whispers a suggestion that peak oil is not a danger.

“No, I want you to get an education.”

Ha-ha! This from the guy who doesn’t know what a fossil fuel is! You’re sweet.

“To learn something. Being a third grade English teacher does not make you an expert.”

Uh… is this some kind of free-association performance poem?

“Nor have you seen anything. You don’t know the industry. All I am asking is you read something written by actual professionals rather than rely on Greens.”

Yes. I told you that already. Try to keep up.

“Of course they do.”

Bizarre that this follows your previous question.

“And are they all rushing to get out of the oil business. Why no. They fiddled with solar for PR purposes, but they are getting out of that. They know their future lies in fossil fuels. As does ours.”

Sources for magazines getting out of solar, please.

“Who for instance? I think you’re confusing shale in Canada with fracking. But go on, show me you know WTF you are talking about.”

Fracking is used to get shale gas. Yeesh.

“Too expensive, too intermittent, too unreliable, too dilute.”

People who actually seem to know what they’re talking about think otherwise. I’ll take their word over yours.

“Nor are you worth my time. But they said it none the less.”

Very convincing.

“Sorry but either our prosperity depends on ripping off raw material producers in the Third World or it doesn’t. As we have a world market and hence a world price, those producers in the Third World are getting the same price, more or less, as producers in Canada. So by all means, tell me how they are being ripped off? How does this magical exploitation work then?”

The people getting money for selling these things do not make up their own entire workforce, nor are they the only people who have to live in the nearby area. You moron.

“Funny, I would think in any other context you would be the first to claim we are ripping off oil producers. So. How are we exploiting anyone then?”

We’re enjoying goods produced by people who are little more than slaves, while fucking up their environment into the bargain.

“For what?”

For what you just said! You really are funny when you’re evasive. I need sources for your claim that we can just replace oil with coal…

“You may as well ask for proof the Sun is a big hot object in the sky. If you do not know this, you do not know squat.”

…Which you refuse to provide, meaning that you’re talking out of your arse again.

“No but you do need to give me some idea of why you think we will run out of coal any time soon.”

Um, the question you asked is how would we ever run out of coal. Being the sad little liar you are, you’re now pretending that I said it’ll happen soon. Nice try, but as I pointed out before, I am aware of what I’ve said.

“They probably do. Or they have forseen the obvious and have built some oil-from-coal plants and they don’t lose those fossil fuels. Why would anyone think they would?”

Have fun pouring that coal into your car’s petrol tank. But we WILL miss the danger if we listed to people like you going around insisting there’s nothing to worry about.

“Probably. Who knows? Who cares? It will last long enough.”

SMFS, by his own admission doesn’t know what he’s talking about or care about it. But he still has an opinion!

As long as the damage happens after your lifetime, who gives a damn, right? But to answer your question, we’re losing polar ice. Hence flooding.

“We are not losing polar ice.”

Lies make the baby Jesus cry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_ice_packs#Sea_ice_in_recent_years

“Twisting in the wind. So the concept is situation but the actual pollution is not? Wow.”

Well done. We’ll make an honest person out of you yet.

“By all means, Chaise, tell me how CO2 is a pollutant if you can’t even see any adverse affect whatsoever.”

Oh wait, we won’t. I told you already. Polar ice. And you’re totally ignoring the fact that the risk is ongoing.

“Holding you to your words and objecting to you putting words in my mouth is not dishonest.”

No, you should try that sometime.

“Deal with the fact you are wrong and move on.”

LOL.

“Yet again the same willful refusal to understand. It is not the market’s job to, in a global sense, stop people being shafted.”

So when we’re trying to prevent people being shafted, we can’t just bow to the market. So if I don’t just want to let the market do as it will, that doesn’t mean I think I’m “so God-like that their opinion out weighs those of all the experts in the world put together”.

It’s not a willful refusal to understand. It’s you saying something spectacularly stupid, and then lacking the emotional maturity (ie that of a ten-year-old) to admit you were wrong.

“But it can foresee and solve many problems. Stop some people being shafted in other words. You are simply insisting the market must be perfect in all situations and can save everyone from so much as stubbing their toe and when it isn’t you claim it can do nothing.”

Now who’s putting words into people’s mouths? You’re a wonderful self-parody.

“Notice you are not even trying to defend the claim that a tiny group of PPE graduates keen on re-election can do better. Which is your claim.”

No it wasn’t. But they probably can do better, as they’re beholden to a much wider group of people with broader interests, not just shareholders. A big part of government is regulating business.

“I haven’t changed my mind one bit. On anything. So explain to me why I am wrong about a market.”

You were wrong when you thought we should bow down to it. Now you’ve worked out your mistake, you’re ok.

So that was about 80% straw men and lies. Do you need to go away and have a little think before rejoining the conversation?

145. Robin Levett

@JV #141:

The market is like thousands of weather forecasters trying to predict the future weather: and all highly motivated to get it right because they have their own money riding on bets.

But…

There is a huge difference. Weather forecasters – and indeed climatologists – can identify physical mechanisms that allow them to translate their observations into predictions of weather. The market doesn’t.

146. Robin Levett

@SMFS #134:

There are entire scientific and engineering disciplines based upon the fact that, at a statistical level, the behaviour of chaotic systems is predictable. Perhaps you should learn a little about chaos theory, SMFS?

First of all, that is irrelevant. It does not mean that the system cannot turn on a dime. Second, it is not true. Chaotic systems usually exhibit periods of predictability. Which is why they are not used for encryption. But they are persistently unpredictable at inconvenient times. I am sure people try to predict what they do. I am sure they use large statistical data sets to try to make predictions. But it does not change the fact that by definition a chaotic system is not predictable.

It’s not unpredictability that defines chaotic systems, but sensitive dependence upon initial conditions – from Wolfram:

So a simple, if slightly imprecise, way of describing chaos is “chaotic systems are distinguished by sensitive dependence on initial conditions and by having evolution through phase space that appears to be quite random.”

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Chaos.html

To hammer home the point that chaotic systems are not defined by unpredictability:

However, it should be noted that despite its “random” appearance, chaos is a deterministic evolution.

Note the “deterministic” there.

For consideration of climate as a chaotic system, see this page:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/11/chaos-and-climate/

the introductory paragraph of which reads:

In this post, we will try to explain a little about chaos theory, and its relevance to our attempts to understand and forecast the climate system. The chaotic nature of atmospheric solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations for fluid flow has great impact on weather forecasting (which we discuss first), but the evidence suggests that it has much less importance for climate prediction.

You might also note William Connolley’s response to comment 3 from Roger Pielke:

Everyone studies climate as a complex non-linear system. Few however expect chaotic behaviour from it

…unless of course, as Pielke does, you look at climate at such a small scale that you are in fact looking at weather…

But thanks for trying.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

damon: “Can India be a developed society like western countries and still have low carbon output?”

Probably not with current technology.

But really this idea that we face a choice between creating wealth and stopping global warming is ridiculous. If we don’t stop global warming, creating wealth just isn’t going to be possible. At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, being able to reliably grow food is important to an economy.


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